Vote #1 bikies

Trevor Rook writes: Re. “‘The stuff of nightmares’: when who you are becomes a crime” (yesterday). Given the comment by Dr Appleby in Crikey “… the NSW consorting law is under challenge by the Nomads motorcycle gang on the basis it breaches the constitutionally protected freedom of political communication and association”, can bikies instead register themselves as political parties?

What, exactly, is the debt ceiling?

Gavin Greenoak writes: Re. “Ask the economists: should we be sweating the debt?” (Wednesday). Could someone please explain the “debt ceiling” in the Australian context? In the US context where it was invented (1917), the debt ceiling is according to some the “maximum amount of monies the US can borrow to meet its existing legal obligations”. Which is to say, the amount of money that can be borrowed to pay back earlier amount already borrowed. This does not authorise new spending commitments, which must still be “approved”.

Other experts say that raising the debt ceiling is like extending a credit card limit. It does not demand more spending, but permits it, without the need for approvals. The only other country to have a debt ceiling (it seems) is Denmark. Everywhere else, the authority to borrow money is inextricably tied to the authority to spend money.

Crikey asked the economists, “what are the consequences of raising the debt ceiling in Australia …” But only their endorsements were published.

Answers might bear in mind, before we just go along with anything, that the more we cut our coats to invisible cloth the greater the exposure. And it is not politicians or governments who have to “wear it”.

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Peter Fray
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