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The financial management of the Coalition

In August 2013, a journalist asked Joe Hockey “Should you win the election, at what stage will you own the economy and at what stage will it no longer be Labor’s fault?”

Hockey responded “We will own the economy from day one, whether it’s Labor’s fault or not. I’m not afraid to accept responsibility and I’m not afraid to be accountable. We will own it from day one. We will be responsible for the Australian economy.”

Every month, the Minister and the Secretary of the Finance Department release an updated financial statement.

Mathias Cormann’s first offering was published on October 11, 2013, showing the state of the books at August 31, 2013, a week before the election.

“The underlying cash balance for the [2013-14 financial] year to 31 August 2013 is a deficit of $10,563 million. The net debt of the General Government sector is $161,253 million at 31 August 2013.”

By May 31, 2014 the deficit for the 2013-14 financial year was $37,747 million and the net debt of the general government sector was $190,232 million.

When Hockey and Cormann held a press conference in September 2014 to announce the final budget outcome for the 2013-14 financial year, Hockey began by saying “The Minister for Finance and myself today are releasing the Final Budget Outcome for the last Budget year of the Labor Government. The Final Budget Outcome for the last year of the Labor Government is a deficit of $48.5 billion.”

A journalist pointed out that the Coalition had been in government for 9 months of the financial year and then asked “So this is it? This is the final line in the sand?” to which Cormann responded “Well this is Labor’s final Budget.”

It’s getting to be a bit of a concern when “bad government” is still supposedly running the show 9 months after losing an election and “good government” doesn’t begin until half way through their term in office.

So now that the adults have taken over finally, how are we doing in 2014-15?

Two months into the 2014-15 financial year there was already a deficit of $12,327 million and the net debt had grown to $217,550 million as at 31 August 2014

The latest figures, released on March 31, 2015, show that the underlying cash balance for the 8 months of the 2014-15 financial year to 28 February 2015 was a deficit of $40,481 million and net debt is $254,964 million.

At that rate, the final deficit for the 2014-15 financial year could end up over $60 billion.

The net debt has risen by almost $94 billion since the beginning of September 2013 to the end of February 2015, over $5.2 billion a month under the Abbott/Hockey/Cormann stewardship.

Despite Tony Abbott’s ridiculous claims to have halved Labor’s debt, those, my friends, are the facts from our own Department of Finance, signed by our not so trusty Minister for Finance.

In December 2012, Hockey told us he did not accept “all the excuses that Wayne Swan talks about – falling commodity prices, a high Australian Dollar, nominal growth not being up to standard. Somehow the GFC is ongoing all the time.”

By December 2014 he was saying “We have faced some significant headwinds this year. Obviously the global economy has come off a bit, iron ore prices have dropped dramatically and we have had some opposition in the Senate that has made it harder.”

Hockey has started the national conversation about taxation reform saying everything is on the table (except sugar of course) while Tony has taken basically everything off the table except GST before we even get a word in.

It should be an interesting budget followed by a cosy COAG leaders retreat.

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  1. stephentardrew

    The ship of fools.

  2. Andreas Bimba

    Many of our journalists can no longer handle the truth, it’s too hard or not interesting enough.

    Indeed we are now witnessing feudalism in the form of a pheasantry clucking nonsense to an uninformed peasantry.

  3. Andreas Bimba

    Please I request that a cartoonist do a cartoon of our current conservative pheasantry ruling the uninformed peasantry.

  4. Jexpat

    Andreas Bimba wrote: “Many of our journalists can no longer handle the truth, it’s too hard or not interesting enough.

    Most of our journalists are innumerate.

    Oh, they can add, but rare is the journo in the corporate media or ABC who grasps fundamental (sometimes counterintuitive) economic concepts, has a basic knowledge of quantitative and qualitative analysis- or any understanding of maths as applied to the sciences.

    Common examples include advocating a flat tax (like the GST) because it’s “fair” everyone pays the same percentage (thus failing to grasp the elementary concept of marginal utility).

    Or creating internet polls that push results the journo, editor or owner wants, or writing about the results of any internet poll on their site as if they were valid, generalisable conclusions (failing to grasp the importance of random sampling and the effects of selection and response bias).

    Or furthering absurd notions about climate change (failing to understand the significance of “rate” “acceleration” and “feedback loops,” “tipping points,” etc.).

    But rather than simply bemoan the deficiency, I’d propose a solution in the form of a mandatory skills seminar or two (or more) for working journos- and a compulsory undergraduate course for all bachelor of arts degrees.

  5. Arthur Baker

    I like the way the flag in the picture seems to be a hat on Smoky Joe’s head. And it’s the shape of a dunce’s cap. How appropriate.

  6. Pappinbarra Fox

    Arthur B -we’ll spotted. Is that a 2 flag announcement?

  7. stephentardrew

    I agree Jexpat that the lack of science based knowledge and an understanding of statistical analysis is not the strong point of many journalists however the main issue is the ease with which journalists are so open to bending the bounds of ethical responsibility to meet the dystopian needs of their employers and masters. Until the media openly admit that we are no longer a democracy but a corptocracy, with global tendencies that undermine national sovereignty, how can we openly challenge economic rationalism.

    By ignoring, and bending, foundational moral obligations for immoral and amoral expedience the trend is set to effectively continue the rush of wealth upwards to the one percent. One thing most journalists do not seem to have is a comprehensive understanding of moral philosophy and the clear distinction between moral obligations, immoral unwarranted doing harm to others and amoral justification of immoral acts through enforced political expediency by the oligarchs who own the media and are, in main, beholden too banking, finance and the corporate sectors.

    If I had my way I would put most journalists in a room with Peter Singer for a couple of days to discuss the grounds of moral obligations, such as do unto others, least harm, justice, equity, and justifiable distribution of physical, psychological and emotional goods. Then the science can be placed into context of the choice-less acausal origins of the individuals life circumstances. By utilising science and getting away from the mythical notions of judgment, blame and retribution, and recognising that individuals do not create their life circumstances, there can be a radical ethical change in perspective.

    This head long rush to justify immorality by taking an uncritical amoral approach to human suffering is just plain ignorant uneducated self-interest based in mythological revenge, cruelty and brutality.

    I would also reinforce Darwin’s appeal to a more equitable society based upon communitarian values of mutual support tolerance and compassion. Both Darwin and Adam Smith were morally astute academics. The irrational emphasis upon survival of the fittest and the mythical self-regulationg invisible had ignores the clear moral concerns of Darwin and Smith.

    If you cannot understand love and compassion then you yourself will eventually suffer the consequences of a dystopian world of greed self-interest and cruelty. We, after all, are on the cusp of environmental catastrophe and the only thing that will save us is the moral clarity to care for our world, fellow humans, nature and the biosphere.

    Journalist without solid moral foundations are no more than amoral political shrills.

  8. Kaye Lee

    I just wish they would report the truth instead of the quotes fed to them by politicians. Every time we hear the phrase “going forward” we are being conned. Not ONCE have Hockey and Cormann talked about the actual state of affairs now which are very easily found if you just look.

    They inherited a deficit of $10.5 billion and turned it into a deficit of $48.5 billion for 13-14. I understand that much of their spending was locked in by the previous government but their own decisions to forego revenue and to gift the RBA $9 billion and to spend billions on “the war on terror” and offshore detention hugely added to the deficit. This financial year they have already overspent by over $40 billion.

    Will THIS budget also be full of “Labor”?

  9. Rezblah

    Personally I think its time for the big sticks to be wielded – charges of treason and/or sedition should be brought against the whole stinking lot of them.

    The whole system needs a total reset with serious accountability procedures (proof of citizenship and permanent federal and state ICACs would be a start), and serious consequences for corrupt and despotic behavior (removal of ongoing $ privileges and/or prosecution spring to mind).

    This could be achieved through a new constitution for a new republic, but only in our dreams,and even then only at gunpoint I fear…

  10. Terry2

    In speaking of the now discredited Intergenerational Report, Tony Abbott said, using the defective and misleading trajectories of debt and deficit over a forty year period :

    “The document (the IGR) shows that we have halved Labor’s debt and deficit going forward,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said when the report was released. “Debt as a percentage of GDP which would have been 120 per cent under the policies of the former government is about 60 per cent under the policies of this government.”

    This rang a bell for me and finally I remembered and sought out that passage from Orwell’s 1984 demonstrating how the government manipulated and played with statistics to the point where the populace had no real idea of where the truth lay:

    “the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot. ”

    Kaye, what is happening in Australia is totally unprecedented – thank you for keeping the truth before us all.

  11. stephentardrew

    Kaye I still maintain reporting the truth is a moral obligation to disseminate facts which is just what they are not doing. I still insist this is a moral issue of truthful reporting of the facts. Amorality is just a week kneed escape from facts supported by hypocrisy and dystopian double speak.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Another thing that really gets up my nose is the increasing call from Hockey and Abbott to put aside partisan differences for the good of the nation. Hockey wants Labor to tell him how to fix his financial woes and Abbott wants the premiers to all fall in line. This from the most partisan Coalition in living memory who are happy to lie and manipulate to make themselves look better and who spent every moment in opposition (and in government) vilifying the Labor Party and the Greens.

    As a mother, I have always told my children that we can deal with anything provided you tell me the truth. I also always said, I don’t care whose fault it is – sort it out or we won’t be going anywhere. I feel like putting Abbott, Hockey and Cormann in the naughty corner.

  13. Kaye Lee


    I wonder on budget day if it will be the second best day of Hockeys life?

  15. stephentardrew

    Some relevant information from the US re: TPP and Popular Resistance. As with NAFTA increased wealth for the wealthy and reduced employment and wages for workers and the poor.

    Obama to Get “Fast Track” for Trade Pacts

    Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, says fast track for trade pacts is complete capitulation to global corporate rule and we have to stop it now – April 17, 2015

  16. Florence nee Fedup

    I just wish Abbott would take time to get his stories straight with ministers. Yesterday, love in feast in July t look at damage done by his health cuts. This morning. Cormann, voice raised a little saying all cuts made in last budget to remain. well words to that effect.

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    Before one can assess what a politician is saying, one much take on board their goal and agenda to get their. From this point, one can judge what they are saying. Abbott believes in extreme version of neoliberal ideology. Does not believe government has a role in anyone’s life. All government has to supply is a narrow safety net. All else is up to the individual. No role in such things as health or education. The free market will provide. Tax must be as low as possible. So when Abbott’s says, he is leading a good government, keeping his word, he believes he is telling the truth.

    Sounds a little like confessions from some people who are brain damaged. Completely false, but they believe to be true. Case in news at this time, of man served 20 years jail. Has special name which escapes me.

    I have seen it put, that conservatives and progressives speak a different language. One does not understand the other. This research also says, their can never be any such thing as a moderate, some one in the middle. Only conservative or progressive. I believe this to be also true. One or the other. There are more extreme or moderate conservatives, same for progressives.

    Yes, this extreme right government believe the lies, spin, stunts and cons they are indulging in.

    What got me, was the stupid grin Abbott got on his face yesterday, as Barnett began to speak. Not sure what it meant. “Barnett a fool” “he is a joke” “I don’t care what he is saying” “I won” Maybe all five. Definitely not the face of PM one could have confident in.

  18. tet02

    Start of the “Code of Conduct” of Murdochs News ltd fish ‘n chip wrappers.

    1. Accuracy

    1.1 Facts must be reported impartially, accurately and with integrity.

    1.2 Publications should take reasonable steps to ensure reports are accurate, fair and balanced.

    1.3 Clear distinction must be made between fact, conjecture, comment and opinion.

    1.4 Try always to tell all sides of the story in any kind of dispute. Every effort must be made to contact all relevant parties.

    1.5 Do not knowingly withhold or suppress essential facts.

    1.6 Journalists should not rely on only one source. Be careful not to recycle an error from one reference source to another.

    1.7 Direct quotations should not be altered except to delete offensive language, protect against defamation, or to make minor changes for clarity.

    1.8 Headlines and captions must reflect the tone and content of the article

    Maybe Rupert should read it, then forward it on to all his journalists.

  19. Trevr

    Thank you again Kaye Lee for this article to add to the long list of pertinant facts that are avoided by the Abbott rabble in their pursuit of the “right”story. I note that with Mr Eleventy out of the country Abbott has assumed the Economic mouthpiece position and with the usual outcome of resetting the debate. I note that some of the Newstainment journalists are beginning slowly and hesitantly to state “we have heard this before” regarding the stories of the Abbott rabble and especially the deluded ranting of Team Abbott numero uno ticket holder Tone Deaf. But alas nothing can change until Abbott is gone and to that end I sent a message and a request to Tone Deaf officially requesting that he detail the timing of his departure from politics so that we can have sufficient notice to organise a gigantic “Tony’s Gone” Street Party, but unfortunately no response, so like the rest of Australia we continue reading the Tea Leaves and the entrails of various domestic insects to gauge he probable outcome of Team Abbott departure dates. Ps John Lord. What detail do you have regarding Abbott as a dual citizen of UK and Australia. I read your statements and await your detailing the info so that myself and others can confirm or not? thanks sport!

  20. Wally

    To appreciate how poor some of our journalists are you only need to read a report on any road accident. They cannot even write a clear description of the incident, at times I have read articles 3 – 4 times to decipher who ran into who or which car came from a particular direction and like most problems today the root cause is a lack of common sense.

    But as a Police officer told me recently “Sense is not common” but I think that is because we spend more time making excuses instead of taking the time to ensure people take responsibility. The current government hold the world record for NOT taking responsibility and blaming other people.

  21. Jexpat


    Something from the wayback machine:

    In the dry corner of business law called trademark litigation, Fox “News” Network v. Franken is an unusually lively document. Along with mundane accusations of unfair competition, the lawsuit includes some especially derisive remarks about the defendant, Al Franken, the political satirist.

    The court papers were filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and became public yesterday. In the lawsuit, a judge is being asked to decide an important question: who has the right to use the word ”fair” and the word ”balanced” together, connected by the word ”and”?

    Lawyers for Fox “News” Network, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, News Corporation, contend that Mr. Franken should not be allowed to use those words in the title of his new book due in stores next month, ”Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” (Penguin).

    They argue that Fox has trademarked ”Fair and Balanced” to describe its news coverage and that Mr. Franken’s use of the phrase would ”blur and tarnish” it.

    After considerable laughter in the courtroom, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin delivered the punch line last week: “This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” As Judge Chin noted, “There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case.”

    “Parody is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. The keystone to parody is imitation,” the judge said. “Mr. Franken is clearly mocking Fox.”

    Judge Chin refused to stop publication of the book, but left the lawsuit intact. Recognizing that this case was going nowhere — and perhaps weary of the laughter — Fox dropped the suit.

    -as to Al Franken, he was elected as one of two senators from the US state of Minnesota in 2008, and re-elected in 2014.

  22. lawrencewinder

    What a horrifying shambles the ruling rabble is making. The worst of it is, they know exactly how much damage they are doing to civil society and that any return to sanity will have to be as savage and abrupt as this morally bankrupt parvenu’s actions are at present. …. a fine recipe they’ve concocted with their IPA bosses and Tea-Party Septic -Tank colleagues… and most of the so-called journos are sadly bereft of competence.

  23. Foggy

    I feel sorry for those who voted for , and had confidence in this mob. They have broken so many promises and abbot has done and said so many ridiculous and outrageous things that even his own people are gobsmacked. They are stuck between the proverbials. If they replace abbot with someone who is more trustworthy and doesn’t have the foot in mouth personality that he revels in, then they will look too much like the previous govt. and lose some support and more credibility. If they keep abbot , they will continue to lose support and be obliterated when the election finally gets here.

  24. Terry2


    I’m warming to Al Franken and will look froward to reading his book : Judge Denny Chin deserves a standing ovation.

    You’ve brightened my morning – next we need to see FOX tackled for distorting the English language.

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    Foggy. why feel sorry or concerned for those who voted for this mob. They choose to close their eyes to what Abbott was about. They did not care. They made the choice to listen to the lies about the Gillard government.

    They are learning, every action has a reaction. They are reaping what the have sown.

  26. Florence nee Fedup

    Yes, they know the damage they are doing. They believe out of the ashes, a neoliberal government will emerge and flourish. Easiest way to bring unions and people into line.

  27. Bronte ALLAN

    And “they” think that they are doing a great job, running the country, managing the budget, & they are ALL all-round good people who “rescued” us from the clutches of Labor? WTF?? God help us, & I am not a religious person!

  28. Wayne Turner

    That’s the LYING HYPOCRITICAL DOUBLE STANDARDS from these Libs for you.It’s just a (predictable) shame for our sham of a democracy,that the Libs MSM NEVER bring this up.Imagine if Gillard was carrying on like this non-stop.

  29. Liz

    I also find it amusing how we’re now being fed the worrying news that our economy is declining due to the slow down in China. They’ve obviously realised they can only blame labour for so many things but when this country goes into recession it’ll obviously be China’s fault.

  30. Liz Franklin

    I am confused, the first half of the article talks about millions then changes to billions… is this correct? I would also love to see a simple chart showing the figures plus the appropriate blue and red responsibility. Finance for dummies such as me…..

  31. Kaye Lee

    The finance department gives their figures in thousands of millions (which is billions) eg $10,563 million = $10.5 billion. I am not aware of a graph that shows monthly change in deficits (what I was discussing) but this shows the history of annual budget surpluses and deficits as a percentage of GDP.

  32. Wally

    Now there is America at work “The finance department gives their figures in thousands of millions(which is billions)”, when I went to school a billion was a million million. So even though America does not use the metric measurement system or the English imperial measurement system (they have there own measurement system) they base there financial system on metric units e.g. every 3 zero’s added to a number takes it to the next level so you get thousands, millions, billions etc. No wonder we are going backwards following the lead of idiots who can’t speak proper English or count properly!

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