2019 ELECTION IS GO
Tax cuts, infrastructure projects, targeted-spending and a projected return to surplus in 2019-20 have won out in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s first, largely unsurprising federal budget.
As Crikey unpacks in our 2019 Federal Budget series, the Coalition has launched something of a campaign plan with $3.5 billion in tax cuts, a projected surplus of $7.1 billion and spending on security agencies, drought support, infrastructure, and traditional weak-spot health. There were some unexpected surprises, notably visa charge immunity for touring cricketers, while other obvious lowlights include a five-year-crackdown on welfare recipients, cuts to efforts to curb doctor shortages, and stagnant wages growth.
REACTIONS ROLL IN
Within its first few hours of release, reactions to the budget have highlighted a number of potential problems for the Coalition.
The Guardian reports Labor has seized on tax cuts for low-income workers ahead of its official reply tomorrow. Other criticisms cover: cuts to foreign aid; “savings” from a slow NDIS rollout; no end to ABC funding cuts; a lack of targeted funding for Indigenous youth mental health and legal aid; a GST blow to South Australia ($); no apparent funding for the NT’s Kakadu National Park ($); the 25th anniversary of stagnant Newstart rates; the Coalition’s decision to close Christmas Island after already spending $185 million following the medivac bill; and at just $189 million over the budget period for “soil magic”, effectively no real funding for climate action.
NZ VOTES ON GUN LAWS
New Zealand’s parliament has voted 119-1 to pass the first reading of a bill that would ban military-style semi-automatics and create a number of new gun-related criminal offences.
The New Daily reports that the legislation is being handled with unprecedented speed and, less than an hour after the vote, a parliamentary committee was briefed ahead of public submissions. The vote came as Australian federal politicians expressed their condolences on their first sitting day since the Christchurch attacks, and as the Coalition party room approved legislation penalising social media companies for extremist content.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Witness Sir Clyde of Nob, now dubbing himself Lord Clyde Of Hansard…
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“The federal budget will return to surplus in 2019-20, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiling a surplus of $7 billion, the first since 2007, in addition to $20 billion worth of tax cuts over the forward estimates, billions in new infrastructure investment and spending targeted at spots of political trouble.”
“Half of the tax cut was announced last year. They’re trying to get credit for announcing a $530 tax cut last year and a $1080 tax cut this year too. But the new announcement is a tax cut of about $550. The new announcement is a bump of about $10 a week. Is that enough to take to an election?”
“But Jones, Hanson and Andrew Bolt (her other defender) forget that the various News Corp media outlets in Australia are foreign-controlled, by the US-based Murdoch family. That’s all the News Corp papers — from The Australian to The Courier-Mail and many daily and weekly newspapers across Australia — plus Sky News, which is 100% owned by News and broadcast on the 65% owned Foxtel.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Missed opportunity risks handing bragging rights to Bowen ($) — Peter van Onselen (The Australian): “This financial year’s wafer thin deficit of just over $4b could very easily have been converted to a wafer thin surplus, which would have allowed the government to crow significantly louder than it otherwise can. The shock and awe of such a surprise, similar to what Paul Keating once did as treasurer, just might have shifted the political zeitgeist.”
Labor’s climate policy: a decent menu, but missing the main course — Nicky Ison (The Conversation): “The biggest omission is the lack of a plan to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Fossil fuels, particularly the mining and export of coal are Australia’s biggest contribution to climate change. Yet the ALP’s policy contains only two mentions of coal, nothing on coal exports, and no mention of gas. Labor is evidently still sitting on the fence on the future of the controversial Adani coalmine, and on the question of fossil fuel subsidies more generally.”
You too can climb high: A message to young people just like me — Gareth Ward (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Yesterday, I was the first person in NSW with a disability to become Minister for Disability Services. At 37, I’ve been elected to my local council twice and state Parliament three times. I hold degrees in arts, commerce and law, I’m an admitted legal practitioner and hold qualifications in music having completed studies at the Wollongong Conservatorium.”
PRACTICE BY GUY RUNDLE
Practice distils Guy Rundle’s best writing on politics, culture, class and more. In it, he roves the campaign trails of Obama and Trump, Rudd and Abbott; rides the Greyhound around a desolate America; bails up Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson; and excavates the deeper meanings of everything from Nirvana to Anzac Day.
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Josh Frydenberg will deliver a post-budget address to the National Press Club at Parliament House.
The ABC’s Leigh Sales will host a morning budget panel with Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance Zed Seselja, shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh, AFR’s John Kehoe and Momentum Media’s Katarina Taurian at Parliament House.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, alongside the Australian Council of Social Service, will outline their response to the federal budget in the Senate courtyard. ANU’s Development Policy Centre will also host a 2019 Aid Budget Breakfast event.
Journalist Michelle Grattan will launch The Conversation and MUP’s new essay collection, Advancing Australia: Ideas for a Better Country, in conversation with Peter Martin at an ANU/Canberra Times event.
British economist Naila Kabeer will present her first Canberra lecture, “Empowering rural women: policy and practice keys to development”, at the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research.
PwC will hold a federal budget briefing with former PM John Howard, former Victorian premier John Brumby and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp. The John Curtin Research Centre will also host a budget review in conjunction with the Chifley Research Centre, Per Capita and the McKell Institute.
St Kilda Town Hall will host a federal candidates forum on climate change and energy for the freshly-created seat of Macnamara, to include Liberal, Labor and Greens candidates as well as expert speakers.
The Wheeler Centre will host panel event “Beyond Your Command: Youth Activism Today” with local young leaders including former prime minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament Aretha Brown.
Economist Ross Garnaut will present the first of a six-part seminar series on the challenges of Australia’s energy transition at the Melbourne Energy Institute.
RMIT social policy professor Rob Watts will discuss hesitancy from both sides of government to increase Newstart in “Transformations: Unemployment and Income Support in the Gig Economy” at the New International Bookshop.
The NSW Electoral Commission is expected to formally declare the Legislative Assembly results from the state election.
Voices of Warringah will host a federal candidates forum with independent Zali Steggall, Greens’ Kristyn Glanville and Labor’s Dean Harris.
Professor Tim Flannery will present a keynote at the Australian Museum’s annual “Night at the Museum” gala event with MC Craig Reucassel.
Grattan Institute will hold panel event “Building teacher expertise in NSW schools” at the State Library of New South Wales.
PwC will hold a federal budget event with former Liberal leader John Hewson and Our Watch Chair and former Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja.
The National Trust of Australia will launch the 2019 Australian Heritage Festival at the Queensland Maritime Museum.
Arts South Australia will hold a meeting on the Marshall government’s South Australian Arts Plan at Adelaide Town Hall.
Teachers and public sector staff will hold stop-work meetings across Tasmania amidst an ongoing pay dispute with the state government.