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Jan 31, 2013

PromiseWatch 2013: what they've pledged with 226 days to go

During this drawn-out election campaign, Crikey will track the promises from the government and opposition. Which ones will they keep and which would they rather we forgot?


Julia Gillard may have be playing down the prospect of a seven-and-a-half month election campaign this morning — arguing instead the fixed date has cleared the air for a focus on substance over style — but yesterday’s announcement predictably sent excitable media types into overdrive as the nation hunkers down for the “longest political campaign in Australian history”.

Over the next torturous 226 days, Crikey will be publishing and updating “PromiseWatch”, modelled on Politifact’s promise tracker/pledge-o-meter rolled out during the 2012 US presidential campaign. Every time a government or Coalition MP appears to utter a commitment or promise — whether core or non-core — we’ll update the list. Then, after the result is called in September, we’ll gauge to what degree the promise has been fulfilled during the next three years of government.

Specific 2013 election-related government promises have been thin on the ground, with much of the detail to be unveiled in the May budget. As Crikey hit deadline, Tony Abbott was preparing to sketch his agenda at the National Press Club (and according to Simon Benson, has already backflipped on a proposed promise of a cut to a major program). Yesterday, in her address to the NPC, Gillard promised “structural savings” to fund her big commitments, but held fire on the detail.

But there have been numerous general promises and statements over the last two-and-a-half years that will set the scene for the excruciating months ahead …


The National Disability Insurance Scheme: The badly needed reform will cost $1 billion a year over four years starting with trials in July, then $15 billion a year when fully operational in 2018, according to Productivity Commission guesstimates. But the Commonwealth/state funding split is yet to be decided.

Gonski education reforms: Canberra and the states will apparently stump up an extra $6.5 billion a year to properly resource Australian schools as part of the government’s National Plan for School Improvement. Like the NDIS, the cost split with the states is up in the air.

Structural savings: In her NPC speech, Gillard promised a range of “structural savings” in the May budget in the Labor tradition but didn’t say what they were. Expect a further crackdown on assorted tax breaks and welfare perks for high and middle income earners.

Dental health reforms: More policy at this stage than promise; the $4.1 billion scheme for comprehensive dental care was announced last August and is set to roll out in 2014 as part of a deal hatched with the Greens after the 2010 election.

Foreign farmland: Last October, Gillard promised a register of foreign-owned farmland.


Budget surplus: The government repeatedly promised to return the budget to surplus by June 30 to assuage voters who can’t tell the difference between their household balance sheets and a federal government with compulsory taxation powers but this commitment was junked by Treasurer Wayne Swan before Christmas.

Pacific Island detention centre for asylum seekers: The government backflipped on the pledge to trash John Howard’s Pacific Solution after the 2007 election but has since sent boat people to makeshift facilities on Manus Island and Nauru. A promised East Timor facility never happened.

Legislation for mandatory pre-commitment on pokies: The government’s deal with Andrew Wilkie to roll out the compulsory technology was abandoned last year when it became clear the issue was hurting Labor in marginal Western Sydney seats.

The carbon tax: An off-the-cuff TV statement by Gillard in the lead-up to the 2010 election not to introduce a carbon tax has been relentlessly parlayed by the opposition into an attack on the PM’s overall fitness for office.


Repeal the carbon tax: Last year, Tony Abbott repeated his “blood pledge” to repeal the $23 a tonne tax by March 14, 2014 and has also promised an “instant” 10% reduction in electricity bills.

Repeal the mining tax: Abbott has also pledged to remove the 30% minerals resource rent tax on mining companies’ super profits.

Changes to superannuation tax rates: In his Real Solutions booklet, released on Sunday, Abbott committed to “no more negative unexpected changes occur to the superannuation system so that those planning for their retirement can face the future with a higher degree of predictability”. However, the rest of the booklet contained no new promises.

Remove “green tape” and “red tape”: Last year Abbott pledged to outsource environmental protection the states and territories and will chop $1 billion in business compliance costs.

“Cranes over cities”: In his recent town hall, US-aping, address Abbott promised “cranes over cities” if he snares the keys to the Lodge. This should be an easy one to fulfill — on the slimmest criteria it would require just one crane each in two cities at some point in the three-year period after September 14.

Stop the boats: Self-explanatory.

No fibs: In a somewhat bizarre meta-promise, Abbott has promised not to break his promises. There will be “no surprises” after September apparently.

*Notice a promise our political leaders have made or broken during the election campaign? Email us and we’ll keep the list updated …


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12 thoughts on “PromiseWatch 2013: what they’ve pledged with 226 days to go

  1. frey

    If you really want a promise watch, you should at least get the promise correct initially rather than just regurgitating the opinion of the opposing party.

    Specifically, you should review your statements regarding the Carbon Tax.

    The Prime Minister’s actual statement was “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead, but I am determined to put a price on carbon”

    Despite the nonsense spouted by the coalition and most of the MSM, what has been implemented is a price on carbon.

  2. Roger Clifton

    So Julia promised that a ALP govt led by her would not introduce a carbon tax. But there was no such govt; instead a coalition govt with the Greens introduced it. For that we must thank the Greens.

    If we really want to significantly reduce carbon emissions we need someone to promise to introduce nuclear electricity. Perhaps Julia could promise that a Labor-Green coalition led by her would not …

  3. klewso

    What about removing the gaffe tape on Abbott’s mouth – come interview/questions time?

  4. Sam

    I love how Abbott intends to cut red tape by getting public servants to spend more time dealing with new red tape and less time doing real work.

  5. Arty

    frey is correct. It was printed in The Australian in the election week. I found it in the archives, but it disappeared from the archives after I told a few people about it.

    Was I lucky or unlucky?

  6. Mark from Melbourne

    What about:

    Paid Parental Leave
    No new taxes (which would exclude a levy I would argue)

  7. Pedantic, Balwyn

    When will the media actually reflect on Tony Abbott’s continuous arguments that take us back in time, like the days of Howard, before the financial world changed, scientifically proven climate change or the mumsy world of Queen and Country.There are many more examples.

    Sadly Labor is completely unable to exploit his lack of future thinking, though maybe Ms Gillard in her speech to the press club has caught on?
    Australia’s future is dependent upon being completely independent, with our own Head of State, within the Commonwealth for those who don’t want too much change! It is dependent on fairly sharing the wealth from mining and
    using its genius to find solutions to provide cheap power without pollution.
    However, is there a political party to take up that cause?

  8. michael r james

    frey & Arty.

    It doesn’t matter how many times it is pointed out the MSM continues to take the distorted line. I have pointed it out in Crikey several times, example below. The link to the Shenanigan article still works. Equally it doesn’t excuse Gillard from political ineptitude by making a totally unnecessary and clumsy hostage to fortune, especially as in the last week (or last day!) it was not going to convert a single voter.

    Friday, 25 February 2011
    24. A carbon rod for Labor’s back
    Carbon trading:
    Michael R. James writes: Re. “Gillard and the Greens unveil a fixed carbon price”
    But here is the very first sentence written by Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan in that now infamous front page article , on the Friday before the election:
    “JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.”
    And later in the same article:
    “She would legislate the carbon price next term if sufficient consensus existed.”
    Pretty clear? Crystal! And that is what Labor are now proposing having achieved that consensus with the Greens. It was pretty clear to the News Ltd duo that they made it their lead sentence! Then repeated it.]

  9. michael r james

    Moderated! Here is an extract of longer post. The link to the Shanahan article is still good. ((theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/julia-gillards-carbon-price-promise/story-fn59niix-1225907522983/))

    [But here is the very first sentence written by Paul Kelly and Dennis Shanahan in that now infamous front page article on the Friday before the election:
    “JULIA Gillard says she is prepared to legislate a carbon price in the next term.”
    And later in the same article:
    “She would legislate the carbon price next term if sufficient consensus existed.”
    Pretty clear? Crystal! And that is what Labor are now proposing having achieved that consensus with the Greens. It was pretty clear to the News Ltd duo that they made it their lead sentence! Then repeated it.]

  10. Hamis Hill

    Will those cranes over cities turn into “Storks over Cities” with a re-run of Costello’s Baby Bonus.
    You know, the policy that deliberately barren women do not understand?

  11. K.D. Afford

    The pricing of a carbon tax however it was parodied was a step forward to a better future. Now, with buckets of money about to be poured into the Liberal Party and with its removal (IF they get control of Parliament) it will be ten steps backwards.
    We should all be very frightened of the Libs.

  12. Hamis Hill

    Policies aside, Andrew, there is only one ubiquitous political sub-cultural group in Australia with the established organisational capacity to co-ordinate a conspiracy amongst politicians, police and journalists such as has been executed in the Thomson arrest.
    The same capacity for secrecy and cover-up as was displayed in that community’s failure to protect its own children from pervert priests.
    Hard to see how the rest of the Western World can be any longer kept in ignorance of this sorry and long ingrained aspect of Australian politics.
    This sub-culture is notorious for having its capacity for self-awareness continually blunted by the demonisation of any and all of their neighbours (enemies?) by the crass and all encompassing xenophobia of its religious leaders.
    The world is watching and there is nowhere to hide.
    Non comprende? see previous comment on blunted self-awareness.
    Isn’t there a Guardian on the way?
    As Paul said: “all that is evil fears the light”.
    So censor away!


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