A lot about a little. Rarely in the course of Australian journalism has so much been written about so little. If Wayne Swan’s budget speech was treated on its news merit there would barely be a line about it in this morning’s paper. The only real items not previewed in advance were the predictions about what the end result of all the money raising and money spending will be in 13 months’ time at the end of June 2009.

Plenty of working families. One thing Federal Parliament was not short of yesterday was references to working families. The contribution of the Treasurer is given below as my quote of the day but the budget papers did their bit as well.

Not wanting to be left out of the working family business, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd set the scene well for the Budget Speech with these pipe openers during question time:

Working families, working Australians, are under financial pressure

We believe that this is necessary to provide some relief to working families under pressure.

Inflation is a real challenge for working families dealing with rising mortgage rates …

We have news for the Liberal Party. Inflation is real not just for businesses; it is real for working families, which demands therefore a responsible approach.

The second pillar lies in helping working families under financial pressure— about whom those opposite said, ‘Working families have never been better off.’ Those opposite happily supported that proposition. That is how you describe working families, and you add to that by saying that working families do not have an inflation problem.

In framing this budget, these are our three pillars:firstly, responsible economic management—cutting government expenditure and producing sizeable government surpluses to fight inflation; secondly, helping

working families under financial pressure; and, thirdly, assisting with the long-term provision which we need to invest in of education, infrastructure, climate change and, of course, health and hospitals.

… it does, however, represent a government which (a) recognised that petrol prices were hurting working families

Not that we should forget the debate on a matter of public importance after question time where Parliamentary Secretary Bob McMullan and backbencher Sharryn Jackson chipped in with a couple each to add to the one used by deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Searching in vain. I have searched in vain for even a tiny little “we was wrong” from the Sydney Terror duo Malcolm Farr and Sue Dunlevy who predicted so boldly the other day that the work for the dole scheme was being scrapped in Labor’s budget. All I can offer them is the advice given to me by my Sydney Morning Herald competitor Ian Fitchett when I made a similar howler in the same paper under similar circumstances many years ago – the closer it gets to the event the less definite your prediction should become.

Earning friends at last. Environment Minister Peter Garrett has at last earned some friends among environmentalists in Tasmania. After being forced to play the pragmatist to allow the dreaded Tamar pulp mill to go ahead, the nude-nutted one has used his powers to save the golden galaxias. This golden-amber fish with dark elliptical spots on the sides and back is found only in lakes Sorell and Crescent in central Tasmania. The Tasmanian Government wanted to take water from Lake Crescent for use by irrigating farmers but thankfully for the fish, Minister Garrett stepped in and used his powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to order that the fish habitat be left alone. (Fact sheet for golden galaxias here)

The Daily Reality Check

The verdict of the readers about the Budget is clear – they don’t give a hoot!


The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

You buy both papers and take your pick when it comes to what is happening on the electricity privatisation front in New South Wales. The Daily Telegraph this morning has the left losing an important vote at a Labor Caucus meeting while the Sydney Morning Herald has one of Premier Morris Iemma’s most senior ministers warning caucus that similar splits between the party and government in the past had led to the “collapse of Labor governments”.

What the world is reading on the net

Quote of the Day:

… delivers for working families under pressure … a $55 billion Working Families Support Package … spending cuts have helped fund our Working Families Support Package … ease the cost of living and interest rate pressures on working families … Delivering for working families … the stress on working families … to deliver the Working Families Support Package … working families have watched the proceeds of the boom directed elsewhere … tip the scales in favour of working families … working families who are struggling … assist working families to reduce household emissions … build a stronger economy that delivers for working families … delivering for working families

Key references from Treasurer Wayne Swan’s Budget Speech.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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