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Bluff, Bluster and Bulldust

What a load of codswallop. How stupid do they take us for? Many would not have noticed but this government has begun its term of office reading directly from the Book of Howard. So deprived of ideas, of savvy, of intellectual nous, of vision and pretty much everything else that constitutes leadership, they (mostly Abbott and Hockey) simply copy from the tactics of bluff, bluster and bull-dust employed by the Howard government in 1996.

They do this to condition the electorate to the pain that is coming and to blame the previous government for putting them (us) there. They blatantly cloud the already heavily polluted atmosphere of political skulduggery by casting doubt, fear and uncertainty across the landscape. They want us to accept the conservative government philosophy of favouring the well-off by dressing it up as repairs essential to our future and presenting themselves as our economic saviours. They do this because when all is said and done, they really do represent the big end of town. The NSW ICAC inquiry makes that plain for all to see. It is endemic in national Liberal philosophy. They then try to pass it off as fiscally responsible in the mistaken belief that backing big business will ultimately benefit the not so well-off at some stage in the future. Codswallop! In his budget preparation, Hockey seems to be ignoring or overlooking glaring examples of tax expenditure waste such as mining subsidies, generous tax brackets for high income earners and unnecessary superannuation perks in favour of squeezing those they deem as easy targets.

And last week they shot themselves in the foot.

So determined were they to paint a picture of impending doom that they have frightened themselves. A back room revolt is brewing. The troops are in disarray. The Paid Parental Leave scheme has been modified to placate backbenchers on the government side. The planned changes to the Racial Discrimination Act will be scrapped or watered down largely due to backbench pressure. Tony Abbott’s management style is aggravating his own side. His ‘captain’s call’ decisions are fragmenting former supporters. Coalition backbenchers have a nervous eye on the 2016 election. They are haunted by voter reaction to the bluff, bluster and bulldust that preceded the 1998 election. Labor won 18 additional seats in that election with a 4.6% swing and 14 of them were taken off the Coalition. In a poorly balanced electoral distribution Labor won 51% of the two party preferred vote but only 45% of lower house seats. In 2016 the electoral boundaries will reflect a better balanced position than 1998. This time Labor needs a 3.6% swing to win 21 seats and many Coalition backbenchers know already that the damage Abbott has done to the credibility of the government means they will lose their seats. They have nothing to lose in voicing their discontent.

What Abbott and Hockey have failed to learn from their previous time in government is that anxiety politics is an unpredictable animal and can bite both ways depending on voter mood. This constant harping on about Labor’s wasteful spending has backfired. It was the Coalition’s reckless spending of a decade ago that has placed us in the position we are now. One could argue that the Howard/Costello spending spree of a decade ago was affordable then. It was, but the Howard government failed to realise it was not sustainable. It was affordable on the back of a mining boom. Were they so short-sighted that they could not see the mining boom had a use-buy date? Could they not see that a more responsible policy would have been to put the money away for a rainy day… Or a GFC? No, all they could see was that they had enough money to dish out enough middle class welfare to buy enough votes to win in 2004. The budget position and the longer term outlook that they now find themselves addressing is of their own making, not Labor’s. What goes around comes around…..spectacularly!

The Commission of Audit has also backfired. I cannot see one recommendation on raising revenue. It’s all about cutbacks. They have also conveniently ignored tax expenditures, i.e. concessions and tax breaks for big business. This leaves Hockey and Abbott highly exposed. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. They will, of course, implement the least damaging to their reputation and leave the rest for someone else. The impact will be minor initially and the deficits and debt will continue to rise. But the reputation of the Coalition as the more responsible economic managers will be in tatters. After all the bluff, bluster and bull dust, they won’t have the balls to match the rhetoric. They will squib the hard choices and hope to be forgiven at the polls. The voters saw through that deception in 1998. They will do so again in 2016. But this time the electoral boundaries will reveal a different story.

And as for the retirement age, changes will happen sooner than you think. The increase will be phased in over an 18 year period beginning in 2017, just 3 years from now. That is when the original increase in the pension age to 67 introduced by the Rudd government begins. From 1 July 2017, the qualifying age for Age Pension will increase from 65 years to 65 and a half years. The qualifying age will then rise by six months every two years, reaching 67 by 1 July 2023. By 2023 the pension age will be 67. Then it climbs by 6 months every two years so that by 2027 it will be 68, by 2031 it will be 69 and by 2035 it will be 70. It will affect people born after 1952, not 1965.

No surprises indeed.

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33 comments

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  1. Sue Lofthouse

    Abbott’s slip in the polls and his breaking of election promises are getting some much needed airplay today. Either the MSM journalists have grown some balls or Murdoch is looking to back another horse.

  2. John Kelly

    Reblogged this on THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN and commented:

    So determined were they to paint a picture of impending doom that they have frightened themselves. A back room revolt is brewing. The troops are in disarray.

  3. juliefarthing

    The way this reads, as someone born in early 1955, with each year after I turn 65 (2020), the minimum age for the pension will also rise by a year, and I will never catch up, which means I wont get it till 2023 when I am 68? Is this right?

  4. Kaye Lee

    Tony’s backdown to placate the backbenchers re PPL will save very little money – one estimate was 100 million which isn’t even the deposit on one of Tony’s many planes, purchased both for personal use and to defend us from asylum seekers.

    There is really only one big problem with spending: Australia’s means testing regime is too loose. Too many people are getting too many benefits they don’t need because successive governments have tried to buy their votes. The health and welfare systems have been used as political tools, not safety nets, and corporate Australia gets handouts and tax concessions hand over fist.

    Add private health insurance subsidies to the list which cost $4.5 billion a year.

  5. John Kelly

    @juliefarthing, By 2020 the pension age will be 66. Depending on what month you were born, you might have to wait a further four months after your birthday.

  6. Stephen Tardrew

    I noted before the Commission of Audit is a poisoned chalice handed to the opposition parties on a platter. They cannot deny it, turn it back, or claim ignorance. Too late fellas. A case of arrogance hoisting you on your own petard. They just don’t get it the majority of Australians don’t like pain while the privileged are making a killing. To think otherwise is just plain delusional. The fox is out of the hen house and the disemboweling of the LNP has just begun.

    Wind it back sunshine and live in hope that the masses will be blinded by pomposity. Sorry the big bad tax lie, the IPA list and the Commission of Audit have driven a nail in the coffin and they are here to stay. If the opposition parties do their job they will become self-consuming scary all consuming monsters.

    Abbott rode to power on one presumed lie he did not have to prove. Just look at the basked of goodies they have just handed to Labor.

    If Labor ride the Abbott pony with relentless media exposure the LNP are done.

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of egotists.

  7. Terry2

    The mining lobby have made it absolutely clear to the Treasurer – perhaps at one of these $20,000 audiences – not to touch the diesel fuel rebate. According to today’s news. the Treasurer has said ‘no worries chaps all will be well’.

    So the age of entitlement is over for pensioners and the less well off but not for the miners; well I’m glad that we cleared that up.

  8. Ricardo29

    Contrast this with Paul Sheehan in Fairfax papers being a suckhole for the Libs, eg it’s Labor’s extravagance we are going to be paying for!
    Can someone explain how including part or all of the family home in assets for the purposes of the pension is fair? Maybe if the family home generated income but how many do? The more expensive the home the more it costs in rates. And when I rent out the backyard studio my meagre part pension is reduced anyway.

  9. Kaye Lee

    When the government has been asked whether they intend to implement the CoA recommendations, decisions that could have a devastating impact on some people’s lives, we have been told to wait for the budget when all will be revealed. The miners must not face any such uncertainty apparently. Why do ordinary Australians need reassurance any less than mining companies who are already making superprofits.

    We also hear

    “Contrary to claims by Mr Dutton, four health and economics experts interviewed by Fairfax Media said there was little evidence that Australia’s healthcare costs were unsustainable.

    ..there were “many areas of inefficiency” that could be tackled before dismantling Medicare bulk billing. The minister and those in charge of the commission of audit were “too far removed from the front line” and were doing “accounting rather than health policy”..

    ..Mr Dutton was spreading a “carefully cultivated falsehood to say Medicare is unsustainable”.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/experts-sceptical-about-health-minister-peter-duttons-health-funding-crisis-20140503-zr3gl.html

  10. guest

    No surprises. This Coalition front bench is a bunch of cronies twice rejected, now recycled.

  11. johnward154

    When the incoming NSW Greiner Government was briefed regarding a longitudinal study on early retirement (as an answer to youth unemployment) we public servants reported to them thus:
    If you retire at 55, you live to 84;
    If you retire at 60, you live to 72;
    Finally if you retire at 65, you live to 67.

    That is why successive governments have consciously legislated to increase the retirement age.
    A callous disregard to the well-being of their elders. Particularly those in manual and trades work, on whom the main burden of this policy will fall.
    These decisions seem to be at odds with recent trends of the ’obesity tsunami’ where large portions of the population will die out before retirement

    Joe hockey claims we are “living” longer, then adds Co Payments and extra costs to the Medical treatments that actually keep us alive longer, there by actively killing us off early.

    As the cost of fuel and food go beyond the reach of folks who need a car to get around, their health will suffer and the stats that hockey now relies on to justify forcing people to die at work before they reach pension eligibility.

    Good one Generalissimo Hockey, you have the old bastards in a pincer movement. Maybe now is the time to introduce taxpayer funded “Departure Lounges for the elderly”, low lights, gentle music and a pink pill. That is much more transparent. What do your parent think of your plan little chubby Joe? Are they still with us?

    *An alternative scheme which needs to be re-examined, was drafted by a conservative icon.

    At the 1937 federal election, the United Australia Party had promised to introduce a system of national insurance that would provide medical cover and pensions for working people. The scheme was to be funded by contributions from government, employers and employees. Menzies, who had helped draft the policy, was an enthusiastic supporter of the scheme. For him it constituted good social policy and, once adequate superannuation funds had been accumulated, promised to relieve taxpayers of what was likely to become an intolerable burden in the future.

    Unfortunately the United Australia Party’s coalition partners were not nearly so keen about the proposal. Although a National Insurance Bill was passed, Country Party ministers continued to resist its implementation, arguing that the money was needed elsewhere, particularly to provide for ‘adequate defence’. After a series of stormy meetings, Cabinet succumbed to Country Party threats and decided to repeal the pension provisions of the Bill. Menzies immediately resigned from the ministry.

    Although some within the party questioned Menzies’ decision, he was widely supported by the party rank and file and by the press.

    If the share of contribution was 5% of the going rate per party, = 15%
    [worker, boss and government], by the time that fund had built up we would not today need Foreign investment, our savings would fund nation building in our own right.
    One of the few things I admire Menzies for was his stand on this issue.

  12. rachanashivam

    They are also use their dictum: ‘When wrong be strong’
    It plays into people’s damaged inner child when they behave like the ‘tough no nonsense’ father who rules the roost. Even though it’s toxic it provides some people with an illusion of security. Tricky for sure.

  13. Bacchus

    What source did you use for those pension ages John? Currently the rise from 65 to 67 takes place starting 1 July 2017, rising by six months every two years until it reaches 67 in 2023. How do we know what happens after that? All Mr Hockey has said so far (that I can find) is that it will rise to 70 by 2035.

    Unless some other change to this has been announced that I’ve missed…

    http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension

    From that table juliefarthing, you’ll be able to apply for the pension at 66:
    1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
    1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years and 6 months

  14. Bacchus

    Thanks John. That means the equivalent table from 2023 will look like:

    DOB – Pension age
    1 July 1958 to 31 December 1959 – 67 years and 6 months
    1 January 1960 to 30 June 1961 — 68 years
    1 July 1961 to 31 December 1962 – 68 years and 6 months
    1 January 1963 to 30 June 1964 — 69 years
    1 July 1964 to 31 December 1965 – 69 years and 6 months
    1 January 1966 and later ———– 70 years

  15. Wayne Turner

    The puppets for big business ONLY voted in by the mega wealthy,and the mega stupid.Sadly,it’s clear what this country has a majority of.

    The Liberal’s being against any mining tax,should have clued in to people who’s side the Liberal party is on.From the lover’s of work choices.

  16. Wayne Turner

    Great article.

    This Liberal party should really be called:-

    Conservative
    Racists
    Against
    Policies

    Aka CRAP

    CRAP by name and CRAP by nature.The party that talks CRAP and does CRAP.CRAP has NO time for EXPERTS & NO time for FACTS.Just look at the CRAP that comes out of their mouths.

  17. Fed up

    It appears all the mining lobby has to do, is send a couple of emails. Does not even have to pay for a chat.

  18. Fed up

    It one took each out and shot them when they turned 65, would it leave a massive black hole in the budget?

  19. Fed up

    I think, looking back since I was young, people themselves will decide to work longer, if in their interest, regardless of the retiring age.

    The days are long gone when everyone retires at 65

    More can be gained by using the carrot, than the stick.

    Pensioners have more to worry about today, than the extension of the retiring age.

    Stirring this one up is a diversion, from what they are really up to,

  20. mars08

    Fed up:

    It appears all the mining lobby has to do, is send a couple of emails…

    We are not facing an imminent debt crisis in Australia. Rather we have an on-going priorities problem!

  21. rossleighbrisbane

    Howard & Costello were saved by three things: First, Keating had put Australia on a path to growth which their cutbacks only slowed, second the resources boom and finally a ship called the Tampa followed by planes flying into the twin towers, otherwise they may have been sent to electoral oblivion in 2001!

  22. Fed up

    You forgot that massacre in Port Arthur

  23. Craig

    i don’t know where to start, once again. If you guys actually get paid to write this body of hysteria, I’d like to wager your pay that the Liberals win the next election. Then again, don’t bother. I was only alerted to this website by a friend and I’ve read enough. Your assertions are incorrect but I can’t be bothered to take each point to task. I’m a swing voter but an attacker of untruths – I’ve tried to address some in Kaye’s recent article and she seemed at least open minded to some alternative viewpoints. But this – this is impossible, and sad. If only we could have a serious debate without an attempt to denigrate one or the other side of politics, maybe we’d find some solutions. But this article just foments the type of ideas that the March in March idiots espoused – the hysterical rantings of those that hysterically defended Gillard when she was vilified. Both were wrong.

  24. lawrencewinder

    Dear Craig, you are welcome to the “Ugly American’s” (Murdoch) inspired political myopia and to his mandated Government which has been, is and always will be bereft of policy, except for what’s laid at its door by “The-Coot’s-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe” (IPA) and the BCA.
    The 100,000 + “idiots” in March were espousing many things that you seem to not want; a Plurality of ideas and a civilized social discussion, not just an dry economic one.
    But then, I feel you would be far happier to keep “the conversation” within the Liarbrils “Bulldust and bluster” rhetoric as Australians aren’t sophisticated enough to ken much else, are they?

  25. Don Winther

    They know exactly how stupid we are and they are taking full advantage of us.

  26. Fed up

    Why is Baird refusing to say whether there was a donation received from Eureka or not. Opposition has a letter saying they did,

  27. Fed up

    No wonder Abbo0tt has gone into hiding. I suspect, they are beginning to return those that arrive previously., Those story seems to say so.

    …..

    UPDATED 12 MINS AGO

    Dr Natalegawa on Tuesday attended a Bali forum that Prime Minister Tony Abbott pulled out of at the last minute.

    Canberra blames the coming budget for Mr Abbott’s absence, but it’s understood he didn’t want to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono while Australia was engaged in its inflammatory border policy.

    The Indonesian navy found 20 asylum seekers on a remote island on Sunday.

    The men from India and Nepal claim Australian authorities added three people – two Albanians and an Indonesian – to their boat before sending it back to Indonesia.

    Dr Natalegawa says it’s a worrying report.

    “If confirmed, obviously this is a very serious development,” he told reporters in Bali on Tuesday.

    “As I’ve said from the very beginning, we are risking a slippery slope.”

    The minister also said the latest Australian operation showed the Abbott government policy wasn’t working.

    “The policy of his government to push, unilaterally forcing asylum seekers – which is threatening and violating their human rights – it’s not yielding (success) because such efforts are still being conducted,” Dr Natalegawa said.

    The asylum seekers were found stranded on Lay Island in East Nusa Tenggara, and are aged from 17 to 43, most of them in their 20s.,

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/05/06/new-boat-turnback-reports-very-serious

  28. Fed up

    Yes, market forces can be dangerous, especially if a government removes all regulations. Not that efficient at times either. Relying on busuiness to do the right thing, was the biggest mistake that Rudd made.

    ………

    The Commission of Audit has handed the Abbott government a blueprint for privatisation at the exact time the pink batts inquiry is revealing the dangers of outsourcing, writes Jean Parker

    On the same day that the Commission of Audit was released in Canberra, Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program (HIP) resumed its hearings in Brisbane. Reading like a neoliberal how-to guide, Tony Shepherd’s report calls for a new wave of outsourcing and privatisations. Yet the evidence emerging from the HIP Royal Commission provides a salutary warning for Abbott and Hockey: outsourcing government programs to the market comes at a cost.

    Abbott’s instigation of a Royal Commission into Rudd’s “pink batts” scheme is clearly an exercise in keeping Labor’s failures fresh in our minds. But the Royal Commission paints a picture of a government program that failed primarily because of its reliance on “market delivery” — precisely what Hockey’s Commission of Audit demands more of.

    Over a month in to the Royal Commission it is increasing clear that it was the design of the HIP that made the program “an accident waiting to happen”. By outsourcing the program to the free market the HIP allowed unsafe and unsupervised work to be carried out by young, untrained workers. The deaths of the four young men working on the scheme were not just tragic accidents, they were the result of a program design that came from Rudd’s own office for Prime Minister and Cabinet and his hand-picked stimulus chief.

    The insulation industry was deemed a great “shovel-ready” stimulus target by Rudd and his staff precisely because the lack of existing regulation meant there were no barriers to entry — great for flushing money into the economy and boosting small business, not great for creating .

    The Real Lesson From Pink Batts

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