The gorgeous Abbott government’s budget has sparked plenty of discussion — most of it heated and negative.
Media titan punch-ups became a distant memory as the thoroughly leaked expenditure cuts finally hit home to people as a reality following Treasurer Joe Hockey’s budget speech just over a week ago. It was very much meat and potatoes across talkback and social media as punters hoed into the Government over things such as the Medicare co-payment, the fuel excise re-indexation, pension eligibility changes and education cuts. No-one cared all that much about the deficit levy on people earning over $180,000, but the Opposition’s main debating line of broken non-core promises on levy did cut through, if not as much as the spending cuts.
The media meanwhile were heavily focused on “broken promises”, whether it was to slam the government for them or to suddenly decide they didn’t matter at all in the case of certain News Corp tabloids. Fairfax has gone particularly hard, to the point of Joe Hockey taking the highly unusual step of suing for defamation. Gone are the days of taking the hurly burly of political reportage on the chin, it seems.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop jumped up the list mainly owing to rowdy student protesters, but also because of the cuts to foreign aid in the Budget, copping plenty of criticism on social media but plenty of calls on talkback saying the cuts weren’t deep enough. Meanwhile the premiers rose, as all but one of them railed against the budget’s long term deep cuts to state funding, in what many journos reported as a thinly disguised attempt to force the states to ask for an increased GST.
Crikey Political Index: May 15-21
Big numbers on talkback for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his economic ministers. The callers are not very happy, although a significant minority did praise the spending cuts as necessary to “clean up Labor’s mess”.
Talkback top five
Record levels of comment for Abbott, Hockey and Enemy Bill “The Grub” Shorten, with PUP leader Clive Palmer also getting plenty of focus. Foreign aid cuts featured far more prominently on social media than in any other medium.
Social media top five
As the budget gets further behind us, we expect the coverage of Rolf Harris’ trial may well start to dominate Australian news.