As Lenore Taylor reported on Friday, every morning the major parties send out the “messages” of the day. These aren’t really super-secret documents since ministers and MPs dutifully recite them into any available open microphone.
At the media briefing after the Coalition’s party meeting the assembled journalists were told, “The prime minister said 2014 had been a very good year for the government and he’s confident next year would be at least as good if not better.”
And last night on Lateline we saw Steve Ciobo dutifully relaying the “message”.
The Abbott government’s plan is THE ONLY PLAN to improve economic growth and repair the budget – regardless of what question is asked, this is to be the reply. They are to repeat over and over again, what a good year it has been.
Look how Scott has stopped the boats. (But don’t look at the offshore gulags where children are locked up in appalling conditions.)
Look at how many Free Trade Agreements Andrew has signed. (But don’t ask for the detail about what we sacrificed for those signatures.)
Look at Julie – isn’t she pretty? (But don’t ask us for foreign aid or any contribution to global action on anything that doesn’t involve bombing people.)
Look at Matthias – there’s a man who knows how to repeat the lines (But any deficit blowout is most definitely not his fault – it’s Layboor’s debt and deficit disaster and when you get sick of that it’s Joe’s fault for not selling the message).
Ciobo slipped right into the script we knew was coming. He said that the Coalition has already cut Labor’s debt by over $300 billion.
That would be a spectacular feat if true since gross debt when they left office was about $280 billion.
PEFO showed that gross debt was expected to climb to $370bn by the end of 2016/17. In Hockey’s MYEFO that figure had grown to $430 billion and then to $450 billion in the budget, and by all accounts it is still growing as we shall see in Hockey’s next MYEFO in a couple of weeks.
So where is Ciobo getting his figures from? This little piece of number gymnastics from Hockey’s budget.
“The published 2013‑14 MYEFO face value of CGS on issue figure of $667 billion in 2023‑24 did not include a cap on tax receipts. The projection for MYEFO in Chart 1 includes a 23.9 per cent of GDP cap on tax receipts, increasing the face value of CGS on issue projected to $748 billion in 2023‑24.
In comparison, at 2014‑15 Budget CGS on issue is projected to be $389 billion in 2023‑24, an improvement of $359 billion. By 2024‑25, the projected end‑of‑year face value of CGS on issue is expected to reach $362 billion.”
When Emma Alberice pointed out that using MYEFO as a basis of comparison was ignoring the Charter of Budget Honesty, and that it contained Hockey’s spending and revenue cutting measures like gifting the RBA almost $9 billion and foregoing the revenue from the carbon and mining taxes and wasting billions on Direct Action, Ciobo just spoke over the top of her saying Labor had left the RBA in a vulnerable position. Tony Burke then tried to point out that the Coalition had taken $1.24 billion in dividends from the RBA this year, something they roundly criticised Wayne Swan for doing, he also was interrupted and spoken over.
The first instalment, over $600 million, has already been paid back to the government in August.
As reported in Crikey:
“When Wayne Swan took a dividend of just $500 million from the RBA in 2012-13, he was accused of “raiding” the bank, by Hockey among others. It was subsequently revealed that Treasury, after consultations with the RBA, didn’t believe there was any imperative to increase the Reserve Bank’s capital buffers. But if $500 million is a raid, over $1.2 billion looks more like open plunder. How dearly Swan would have liked being able to get another $700 million that year. So as some of us predicted back in 2013 Hockey, having blown out the 2013-14 deficit with his $9 billion gift to the RBA and blamed it on Labor, has got his first repayment to bolster the 2014-15 budget bottom line.
Curiously there is no mention of the dividend in RBA governor Glenn Stevens’ foreword to the report, despite discussing how the $8.8 billion had replenished the bank’s capital reserves; you have to go down to page 77 to get an explanation of the dividend. It’s particularly curious given that the dividend — whether one is to be paid or not, and how large it will be — is regularly mentioned in the forewords of previous annual reports. The omission doesn’t help the impression that the whole business of the $8.8 billion has undermined the perception of RBA independence.”
This politicising of independent bodies like the RBA, Infrastructure Australia, NBNco, the CSIRO, the AFP and the ABC, is a very worrying trend designed to keep even more information from the public.
So my “message for the day” is stop the crap Joe and co. If MSM journalists are incapable of exposing the bullshit then step aside – you have made yourselves redundant.