Aren’t we clever fellows. I can just picture the team of Rudd advisers chuckling as they came up with their alternative to Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson’s five cents a litre reduction in petrol excise. Accuse the Opposition of fiscal irresponsibility for blowing out the federal budget deficit and then offer our own reduction in the petrol price by abolishing the goods and services tax on the excise component of the price. We can be the goodies taking a tax off a tax and it is the state governments who get the GST revenue who can pay the bill without any impact on our budget deficit at all! Clever fellows indeed but not clever enough to remember that changes to the GST require the approval of all the state and territory governments. ACT Chief Minister John Stanhope, a man still smarting from the cowardice of Team Rudd in refusing to allow same s-x marriage in Canberra, was quickly out of the blocks to say the removal of the GST was not on without the Commonwealth paying compensation. New South Wales Treasurer Michael Costa joined in this morning saying the decision would cost New South Wales alone up to $400 million and the state would need to be “compensated in full” if it was to give its approval. Which pretty much leaves the spinners having to spin the value of their national Fuel Watch scheme which Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said in a Cabinet submission was an anti-competitive waste of money which would fail working families. That task would test the very best top.
Lack of secrecy a concern. With only six months of a three years term gone there is no need for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to worry too much about the mutterings of discontent from the mob about higher petrol prices. Unless the Opposition is foolhardy enough to force an early election by knocking back substantial parts of the Labor Budget, the odds are that by the next polling day world oil prices will be lower than now. What should be concerning the Prime Minister is the leaking of the submission Martin Ferguson took to Cabinet commenting on the proposal to introduce the Price Watch scheme promised during the campaign. There should be disagreements on issues like this within the confines of the Cabinet room. Debate is healthy; but the way Team Rudd works, unless there is security within the Cabinet system, we will soon have all decisions made in the PM’s office.
The gravy train keeps rolling. If basic law and order is not to be a state government responsibility, then what is? A rather basic question you might think but it ignores that wonderful thing called the vote. Federal politicians are happy for their state colleagues to get the anger of the people who do not feel safe but they also love being good fellows at election time. Hence the Rudd Government’s Safer Suburbs Plan which allows lots of Labor MPs to make lots of little grants to people they are trying to woo. The first round of funding under the $15 million electoral bribery scheme is being paid this week including $1 million to the City of Wanneroo in Western Australia to develop and install CCTV including five mobile units in hot spots to prevent graffiti. Good to see Labor is prepared to crack down on urban art as well as teen nudes.
How to keep a promise. Oh what a wonderful web, as they say. The Labor weavers have come up with a pain free way of honouring an election promise to put 500 more federal police on duty over five years. There will be, explained Commissioner Bill Keelty, before the Senate Estimates committee yesterday, 30 new recruits this year, 30 next year, 40 the year after – which takes us to the next planned election with 100 extra in total – and then, hey presto, as if by magic, there will be 200 new police in each of years four and five. What a truly beautiful work of deception but there will be no point, I guess, in calling in the fraud squad.
The Daily Reality Check
Everything old is new again as history hits the front pages of the papers. Yesterday it was the Adelaide Advertiser.
At least the story about the exhumation of the body of the South Australian Premier of 100 years ago reminds us that politicians have always had s-x lives. Charles Cameron Kingston owned up to one illegitimate child and now the search is on for others. Today it is The Age delving back 86 years to headline the pardon being given to Colin Campbell Ross who was hanged in 1922 after he was convicted of killing Alma Tirtschke, 12, in what the paper described as the “the notorious Gun Alley murder case”.
The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage
- Ashamed to wear uniform – Jonathan Pearlman, The Age
- Now Labor divided over petrol – Mattthew Franklin, The Australian
- Top cops target ‘happy hour’ – Doug Robertson, The Advertiser
- New Premier Bartlett’s ‘clever and kind’ vow – Michael Stedman, The Mercury
- Rudd threatens coalition over plan to block budget – Laura Tingle and David Crowe, The AFR
- WA councils on brink of financial oblivion, ratings agency claims – Daniel Hatch, The West Australian
- GST-free petrol will cost Rudd $1b: states – Andrew Fraser, The Canberra Times
What the world is reading on the net
Western Australians – you are not alone. Canadians have interesting politicians too. The Foreign Minister has just quit in a story about ties between a drug-dealing criminal network, firms with an interest in airport security, a minister’s ex-girlfriend who lived with a bikie gang members, and the Canadian government. Sniffing chairs is quite tame stuff really.
- Canada – Toronto Globe and Mail: Foreign Affairs Minister resigns over security breach
- UK – The Independent: Blackburn face battle to keep Bentley
- UK – The Times: Family of murdered Robert Knox speak out
- United States – LA Times: Lakers’ Lamar Odom takes the blame for Game 3 loss
- United States – USA Today: Phoenix spacecraft successfully lands on Mars
- China – The People’s Daily: Chinese President: Keep development trends, guard social stability
- Singapore – The Straits Times: Nine disciplined, replaced in aftermath of Mas Selamat’s escape
- India – Times of India: Cong Bangalored: Delimitation may have helped BJP
- Australia – The Australian: To hell and back for Northern Territory child s-x slave
Quote of the Day:
Cabinet decided that my views were not appropriate and Cabinet correctly decided to introduce a Fuel Watch scheme. The decision had been made and I fully support it. It is the best available option in a very tough global market to ensure that consumers have transparency in the determination of prices and the best available information for purchasing petrol at the bowser.
— Resources Minister Martin Ferguson defending Cabinet solidarity and asking everyone else to believe in the tooth fairy.