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14 January 2015
by Kaye Lee

Is that all there is?

On December 30 the Liberal Party posted a graphic on their facebook page summarising the “progress made in 2014”.

Scrapped the Carbon and Mining Taxes
In August 2013 PEFO estimated $9.6 billion of carbon revenue and $3.7 billion of mining tax revenue, over the forward estimates.

Projected annual savings in electricity costs of $550 per household from scrapping the carbon tax have not materialised and may be dwarfed by the withdrawal of up to $3500 per household in other government payments linked to it and the mining tax.

The Australian Institute assessment of the financial impact of the repeal has tallied this as high as $3500 in one year alone based on a family with three children, one at primary school and two in high school, and where both adults earn just above the minimum wage of $37,000.

The bulk of that loss comes by removing the School Kids Bonus, which, for the above family, is currently about $2050. At the moment, the Senate is resisting this and it is still being paid which will punch will punch quite a hole in the budget without the revenue coming in.

That household will also lose $1000 from the repeal of the low income superannuation contribution scheme, which pays $500 to low-income individuals to boost inadequate retirement savings.

Another $456 will be lost by the scheduled $1200 rise in the tax-free threshold next year to $19,400, which will go as part of the clean energy repeal package.

The 6 year delay in increasing the superannuation guarantee will also have a cumulative effect for all employees.

We have also seen a rapid increase in emissions with the repeal of the carbon tax.

Stopping the Boats
As far as we know, the Coalition has been relatively successful in their endeavour to stop asylum seekers reaching our shores by boat.

To achieve this they have indefinitely incarcerated asylum seekers including children to act as a deterrent to anyone else considering seeking our help. Many people have been beaten and some have died.

We have returned asylum seekers to the very people they are fleeing where they have been gaoled, some have been tortured, some have disappeared, and some have been murdered. We have given warships to their oppressors.

We are giving hundreds of millions to poor countries, where allegations of corruption are rife, to temporarily house a few refugees with no prospects for the future.

We give billions to security firms to police detention centres while denying access to humanitarian and aid groups and ignoring medical concerns.

We risk the reputation and waste the time of our Navy patrolling to stop these frightened people at enormous expense.

The collateral damage is human – more than 2,000 people still in offshore detention with no idea what will become of their lives, and more than 30,000 in Australia now facing the lifelong uncertainty of a temporary protection visa with no legal right of appeal.

Free Trade agreements with Japan, Korea and China
Aside from the deal with China just being a Memorandum of Understanding, if these were such a good deal for us one wonders why we are only allowed to know the bits Andrew Robb chooses to tell us and why, after so many years negotiation, were these countries all of a sudden so eager to sign? What have we given up? Have we made ourselves vulnerable to lawsuits and given up our right to make our own laws about health and the environment? Will the PBS survive?

Hockey’s second MYEFO gives us some indication with a revenue write-down of $1.6 billion due to the FTA with Japan and it will mean even more manufacturing industries go to the wall as they cannot compete with cheap imports.

The Chinese deal on beef is only for an extra 10% exports before a trigger where tariffs will be charged again. Chinese companies are also buying up our dairy farms and have made a deal to be able to bring in their own workers.

We are now courting an FTA with India and we kicked off by returning a stolen statue that we had been proudly displaying.

165,000 New Jobs Created
Between December 2013 and November 2014:

  • Unemployment increased from 5.8% to 6.3%
  • The number of unemployed persons increased from 722,000 to 775,400.
  • Aggregate monthly hours worked decreased from 1,636.0 million hours to 1,606.1 million hours
  • 146,000 more people were in employment with the increase mainly in part-time jobs.

To put this in perspective, the population increased by 364,900 people from 30 June 2013 to 30 June 2014. We need about 30,000 new jobs a month to keep up with population increase.

$1 trillion in major projects given environmental approval
I find this extremely hard to believe though the thought of it scares the hell out of me. The maths they must have used to come up with it scares me even more. I have no intention of trying to verify or understand this ridiculous figure.

Budget repair underway
In August 2013’s PEFO, the deficit for the current financial year was expected to be $24 billion, falling to $5 billion in 2015-16. A surplus of $4 billion was projected for 2016-17.

The deficit for this year has blown out to $40 billion, over $10 billion in the five months between the budget and December’s MYEFO. Looking further ahead, the deficit is expected to be $31 billion in 2015/16, $21 billion in 2016/17 and $12 billion in 2017/18.

The Federal Government says it is “on the right track” to put the budget back in the black in 2019-20.

They may be underway but it seems someone forgot to put the bung in.

Cutting $2 billion in red tape
When interviewed on the ABC Josh Frydenberg admitted he couldn’t explain how they came up with this figure.

The first repeal day was about correcting punctuation, getting rid of typos, and repealing archaic laws that didn’t affect anyone at all.

When the government held its first repeal day, parliamentary secretary Josh Frydenberg crowed about liberating Australians from thousands of items of costly and unnecessary regulation. On closer inspection, that included 39 individual amendments changing the term “electronic mail” to “email”, and several hundred amendments adjusting spelling, grammar and punctuation. It also encompassed the repeal of business obstacles such as the Dried Fruits Export Charges Act 1927, the Lighthouses Act 1949 and the Nitrogenous Fertilizers Subsidy Act 1969.

The second repeal day was a little more worrying with attempts to roll back the FoFA reforms and to disband the charities watchdog ACNC. These two repeals were requested by the banks and the Catholic Church – all other stakeholders were against the changes.

More than 70% of surveyed company directors identified workplace health and safety and preparing and paying taxes as the aspects of their business most affected by red tape.

The tinkering around being done by this government is, in the main, the normal housekeeping that any government does. It’s the paybacks for mates hidden in the fine print that is a worry.

Australia’s largest ever ($50 b) infrastructure investment
According to an analysis by the Grattan Institute, commonwealth transport investment totals $7.5bn in 2014, $6.3bn in 2015, $8.8bn in 2016, $10bn in 2017 and then $6.6bn in 2018, unless new spending promises are made in the meantime. Mostly the government is switching all commonwealth funding from public transport to help finance new roads.

And despite promising that all infrastructure projects would be subject to rigorous cost-benefit analyses before federal money was promised, they weren’t, and if they were, the results didn’t seem to matter. The commonwealth still wants to give $3bn to Melbourne’s East West Link road despite the fact the new state government doesn’t want to build it, and that it turns out to give a return of only 45 cents for every dollar spent.

Any benefit from this spending is quite a way off and the Asset Recycling Fund will be used to blackmail states into selling off our assets to fund Mr Abbott’s desire to be remembered for something.

And these were the successes? Nice graphic but, as Paul Keating said, is that all there is?