As we get within three months of the Abbott government's first budget, Treasurer Joe Hockey remained hairy chested at the barricades fighting the "age of entitlement", while at the same time conceding the fragility of the Australian economy as the jobless rate tipped over 6% for the first time in a decade, suggesting too many cuts would be "reckless". It’s a complex message from the government, refusing manufacturing subsidies, still floating cuts across a range of areas and preparing to put the boot in all things renewable while at the same time flagging more support for Qantas, farmers and Victoria. It looks more and more likely that after the initial tough talk we will see a budget every bit as pragmatic as those of former treasurer Wayne Swan.
Riots, 77 injuries and a fatality on Manus Island have pushed Immigration Minister Scott Morrison once more into the top three, with some media calling for no more asylum seekers to be sent to the island until security can be guaranteed, while Morrison claimed security was being tightened and the centre was already back to normal operations.
Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash leaped into the list after her chief of staff was forced to resign following claims of significant conflict of interest involving a lobbying firm he part owns, and with claims that she had mislead parliament. Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks set to stare down the first ministerial conduct issue of his prime ministership, not going down the early John Howard path which saw several ministers gone within a year.
Crikey Political Index: February 13-19