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Breaking Debt Or Abbott On Ice

Photo from wordbubble generator

Photo from wordbubble generator

People have a funny way of looking at numbers. I remember during the GFC, people were expressing concern that China’s growth rate had dropped to a mere 8%. I commented at the time that it was still a pretty good growth rate and, unless it kept dropping, then it was probably more sustainable at 8% than its pre-GFC growth rates. It’s still growing at 8%, I remember telling someone, trying to convince them that this wasn’t going to lead to a contraction in the Chinese economy. At least now until it fell several more percentage points.

And so we have Tony “I find economics boring” Abbott asserting that the Liberals have halved the debt. Actually, they’ve halved the projected debt for 2055. The actual debt has increased by billions of dollars. But halving the projected debt counts as halving the debt because debt is half what it would be if Labor had stayed in power for the next forty years and made no attempts to rein in debt, so that makes our debt half what it would be, not half what it was. Still that’s halving the debt, isn’t it?

This is almost as good as when Abbott, Hockey et al tried to argue that the Paid Parental Leave Scheme was completely paid for because they were going to add one percent to the company tax of the biggest companies after reducing company tax by one percent. I remember suggesting at the time that they could cut company tax by three percent then add a three percent to the top companies and pay for a few other things. A Liberal supporter told me I was an idiot because simply taking something away then adding it back didn’t raise any money at all…

Which was sort of what I was suggesting, but irony is lost on Liberals.

One thing that’s not lost on Liberals though, is a sense of urgency. We’ve have various emergencies since Abbott came to power, and I’m not just talking about the Budget emergency which is under control now that we’re only heading for half as much debt in 2055 (even though it’d be a much, much greater percentage of the GDP than when Labor spent all the money to shield us from the GFC, which was silly when it didn’t hit us hard as the rest of the world!).

And the latest emergency isn’t the rise of groups which are mimicking the rhetoric and behaviour of the early Nazis – which Abbott has been strangely silent about – but rather it’s the ice epidemic. As our PM said in his announcement:

“As a citizen and as a parent I am appalled at what is happening on our streets and in our homes,

“Ice is far more addictive than any other illicit drug. It does far more damage than any other illicit drug.

“The propensity for violence, the propensity to subsequent, very serious mental illness, the propensity to disfigurement which ice produces means that this is a drug epidemic way beyond anything that we have seen before now.”

Excellent. He also told us that he was going to ensure that every state and territory took “the menace of ice” seriously, which makes me wonder which states or territories had been making jokes about it.

So, thanks to Mr Abbott, we now have a task force developing a national action strategy to tackle this growing problem. And it’ll deliver an interim report to him by the middle of the year.

Now I don’t want to pre-empt the report but I suspect that it’ll recommend that we put more time and money into cracking the criminal gangs, more support for the ice addicts trying to kick the habit and more education about the dangers of ice. On the last point, perhaps they could join it to the domestic violence campaign, we could have an advertising blitz that warns us that both crystal meth and domestic violence are bad for us, which might save on the advertising budget until just before the election, where government ads can point out how awesome the current goverment is… In a totally non-partisan way.

And they’ll need it when some of the finer detail of their Energy White Paper hits the mainstream. For example:

“The Australian Government does not support reserving gas for domestic use. Reservation would result in less profitable production, attracting less investment, thereby reducing supply and raising costs.”

So we’ll be competing with all those countries who want to access our gas, but somehow that’ll increase supply rather than demand leading to lower costs. Strangely, this a point of view no economist I’ve read seems to share… Actually, I suspect it’s a point of view that nobody actually holds.. including the person who wrote the Energy White Paper!

And they’ll probably need to explain their Asset Recycling Initiative, which describes how they intend to “recycle assets” in the energy sector into private hands, so that the state governments can afford to “invest” in infrastructure. I reckon they’ll need a really, really big campaign to explain that this is not simply privatisation.

And they’ll probably need to explain how, in spite of their constant arguments about the free market and how companies like Holden, Toyota or SPC should stand on their own two feet, they’ll be spending almost a billion dollars on the following:


$188.5 million Industry Growth Centres, which will lift competitiveness and productivity by focusing on areas of competitive strength, including the oil, gas and energy resources sector and the mining equipment, technology and services sector.


$476 million Industry Skills Fund, which will enable Australia to have the highly skilled workforce needed to adapt to new business growth opportunities, rapid technological change and market-driven structural adjustment.


$484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme, which will provide Australian companies with structural and strategic support to capitalise on growth opportunities.”

And then they may need to explain that the reason why there’s hardly any mention of climate change in the Energy White Paper is that their Direct Action Strategy has fixed the problem and we don’t need to worry about that any more.

Because, well, with the Ice Epidemic we have more than enough to worry about!


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  1. eli nes

    Whilst it is a very rare abbuttian indeed that that doesn’t fit your ‘ irony is lost on Liberals’, you may have misjudged the afternoon man because I believe the ice he was talking about is the type controlling global warming.
    I believe he will be announcing the towing of icebergs into the harbours of the capital cities to maintain equilibrium at the next ‘no questions, please, press conference.

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    Taking one drug, ICE, ignoring other drugs is a recipe for disaster, if not wasteful exercise.

    Ice, they say, has replace marijuana,

  3. stephentardrew

    Trickle down.

  4. brickbob

    Abbott and crew do not care two figs about the ” ice epedemic”as serious as it is,this latest little 11th hour thought bubble was cobbled together to give Tony something to ” announce”, and to make him look like a leader who will lead the flock to salvation under the guidence of the ”Dear Leader”,the whole thing is just bloody pathetic,how dumb do they think some of us are?

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Must have been up all night working out how they could smother last night’ Lateline

  6. olddavey

    Team Icestraya!!

  7. Wally

    I think this is just another prank to overcome the voting publics propensity to ignore Abbott because every time the dickhead opens his mouth and attempts to appear intelligent he proves how dumb he really is. Oh no Tony is on TV again turn it off before he makes me shudder in my boots!

  8. Terry2

    A friend of mine, a free market Liberal supporter, told me, when talking about our dearly departed auto industry, that any industry that couldn’t get by without a government hand-out was not a viable industry in the first place.

    So, I asked him, does that spell the demise of private health insurance companies in the near future – he told me “that’s not the same thing”.

  9. mark

    Is the author talking about economics or ice? My second cousin (aged 22) is dead because of ice. Ice is not a joke. The author is a joke and economics is a joke and maybe Abbott is a joke but ice isnt a joke. The author is completely disconnected from the real world.

  10. corvus boreus

    “Never before,.. in the field of human economics,.. have so many,.. owed so much,.. to so few.”

    Sorry, I shouldn’t misquote Churchill.
    I had a relative who died during the blitz.

  11. John Armour

    Robert Frost knew a thing or two.

    “Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.”

  12. CMMC

    The Chair-Sniffing Tea Party W.A. government has an iron-ore crisis, or something, and demands that Abbott stand in front of a lot of flags and give them more money.

    Conservatism is the original moveable feast.

  13. Gilly

    How bereft of ideas are this lot. So low they have taken to looking to the victims of drug addiction for their dog whistles.

  14. Florence nee Fedup

    I do not think anyone is saying, or hinting that ICE is a joke. What some are thinking, Abbott’s new found horror of the drug is.

  15. Awabakal

    In America ICE has another connotation and it may be that Abbott is confused, however, he will shower himself with glory, as “The Fixer”, when the Police Force goes about its every day business and cleans up the scourge that is the ice crystal business:

    “The Department of Homeland Security has arrested nearly 1,000 gang members and their associates in a multi-week, multi-city operation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says.” –

  16. Florence nee Fedup

    I love the way Abbott is presenting all his back flips as wonderful new caring endeavours. What we are seeing, is all his chickens from his continuous dismantling and cutting of services without due care coming home to roost. Does not seem to comprehend that most come into being for very good reasons. Most affect people, yes humans, not economy directly.

    Government in a democracy is by the people, for the people of the people. Nothing about handing it over to market forces.

    Just heard him once again say GST is state tax, that he can change nothing up to states. Added that it is time they acted as adults. Sorry, GST is federal legalisation. The PM , if he can get it pass the houses , can change it any time he likes. The states cannot change anything, unless the Federal parliaments agrees. Maybe Abbott, instead of lobbing all his responsibilities off to all others, should look at the apparent flaws in the GST. Yes, the black money market. The tax that not being collected when it comes to tradesmen and services.

    Yesterday, at senate hearings, we learnt that overseas corporations do not believe they should pay on profits for goods or service sold here. They seem to be saying, the goods they sell originate in other countries, and that is where any tax should be paid, not in this country. Not sure how Ireland or Singapore fit into this picture. The corporation bosses were so arrogant, they did not bother even to prepare for the hearings. Seemed to be claiming USA laws as to why they could not give evidence.

  17. Terry2


    One of them actually said that they paid GST in Australia – I think it was Apple – but was quickly corrected by Dastiari : this from a guy who had the temerity to tell us that his head office is in Ireland – where they pay tax – but he had never actually been there other than for a fishing trip. Well, I suppose, why would you want to visit a Post Office Box.

  18. Margaret McMillan

    Surely it’s Abbott’s latest “Look over there!” strategy? Just as the workers on Nauru publish their open letter about how this government knew for 17 months about abuse of women and children but did nothing about it, out comes Abbott talking about the dangers of ice.

  19. Roswell

    Another gem mate.

  20. John Armour

    As usual, you make a lot of sense Florence.

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