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Why can’t journalists ask the obvious questions?

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

We are all frustrated at the lack of scrutiny afforded to our politicians, and in particular to the government’s repeated claims that we have a debt crisis. Why is it, however, that there don’t appear to be any journalists in the mainstream media who have the gumption to simply ask; “Prove it”? One of our readers has circulated a letter to the independent media sites (The AIMN included) asking that we continue to pose the questions that the mainstream media avoids. The reader, James Fitzgerald, makes a lot of sense.

I sent this to the Guardian Australia this morning, and to the ALP and the Greens as well as New Matilda, The Hoopla and Crikey in the hope that someone (or everyone) runs with it. The journalism sentiments apply to you, too:

Hello, thank you for being a part of the Australian free press.

I see, year after year, election after election, from the conservatives and from the progressives, massive sweeping and dour statements about the inherited economy following an election. I would like to make two points to your editorial staff and your journalists in the hope that they will consider these when framing questions aimed at our (generally) economically conservative, politicians:

1. When a government is claiming a huge and unsustainable, inherited debt, how about they provide a list, to the community, of what the borrowings are for and who the borrowings are from? We can then make more informed decisions about the responsible way to service these debts. As it is, we get a load of sweeping statements proclaiming catastrophic debt (and deficit) accompanied by absolutely no details. It is incredibly arrogant of politicians to think that if they tell us finances are bad (or great?) they have no need to provide supporting information. Please request your editorial staff and journalists to question politicians about this and openly challenge politicians to provide correct information supporting their sweeping assertions? A simple list of borrowings, who they are from and what they are for, will allow much better democratic decisions to be made.

2. Can you also encourage your editorial staff and journalists to question why politicians appear to place more importance on a healthy economy than they do on a healthy society? To my understanding, a healthy economy will naturally follow-on from an established and healthy society. Commerce is (merely) a tool of society, so it should stand to reason that if society is strong, healthy and prosperous the economy will naturally follow. Please question politicians about what social benefits their economic decisions will provide (and to whom).

A wonderful man called Ian Plowman, when confronted by a decision, teaches us to ask: What is the benefit for our grandchildren’s grandchildren?

Again, thank you for your contribution to the spread of balanced, truthful and inquiring information in Australia and the world. I will also send emails with these two ideas to progressive politicians and to some independent, online news outlets so that they may ask the same questions of Abbott, Hockey and Cormann. They may also ask Abbott if he knows what brand of cigars the other 2 smoke when celebrating?

Best wishes,

James Fitzgerald


55 comments

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  1. Alasdair

    A very pertinent comment. This morning (11/5) on ABC radio Jonathan Green spoke to several economists, and what followed was the most clear explanation of budgets and debt I have heard for ages. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/sundayextra/outsiders/5441588 The conclusion is there is no debt crisis. We should be looking at a 20 or 30 year time frame and if surpluses equal deficits over that period we are doing OK. The conservatives have manufactured a ‘crisis’ to create fear. There are few journalist who will challenge politicians with this reality. (I agree…Ian Plowman is excellent)

  2. Richard Roper

    I guess most journalists are fearful because Rupert and Gina, who have a vested interest in a “debt crisis” would sack them if they questioned the LNP spin. The fact is that we have the third lowest debt per capita in the world,and a Triple A rating by the IMF, all because the Labour government stimulated the economy with perfect timing to avoid the recession that the rest of the world suffered. Come on journalists – don’t be so spineless!!
    Can we only believe what we see on the ABC? Even that is at risk – Rupert tried to buy the ABC News Service last year.

  3. David

    Probably because most journo’s in MSM are 1. Either too gutless to do their job properly, or 2. Controlled by the control freaks in charge of MSM. 3. Good at their jobs, but scared to lose their jobs, so do nothing. 4. All of the above. 5. Incompetent.
    Most probably fall under number 3. Sadly.

  4. Gina

    Ask and ye shall receive. Receive what though? Abbott, Hockey and Cormann are very practiced at ducking under the radar.

  5. Magnus

    the pen has been always mightier than a sword. the government should afriad of its people not the people afraid of its government.

  6. Ricky Pann

    Why can’t journalists ask the obvious questions?
    Because we have a Prime Minister incapable of understand them much less answering them.

  7. mars08

    Because nobody wants their publication accused of taking “everyone’s side but Australia’s

    To seriously question the government or interrogate Abbott is close to treason. Apparently.

  8. Ange Kenos

    Good on ya mate for this letter

  9. Kaye Lee

    Questions like that are asked every day on this site and others. We have no access to politicians. After receiving countless invitations to contact my local MP via social media, she immediately banned me when I did ask a few questions.

    Under the posts about “Labor’s mess” and the videos from Tony telling us we have to sacrifice our children to make up for Labor’s debt of $667 billion, I posted the truth. That figure is from MYEFO and is Hockey’s estimate for debt in ten years’ time under current COALITION policies and spending decisions. PEFO, which is prepared independently by Treasury and Finance (no politics), showed under Labor policies, a deficit of $38 billion over the forward estimates. Hockey’s decisions to forego revenue from the carbon tax, mining tax, FBT car tax, superannuation tax on earnings over $100,000 pa…and to spend billions on a gift to the RBA, paid parental leave, Direct Action, roads, operation sovereign borders….blew out the budget deficits by $68 billion in 4 months. Hockey also changed some assumptions to make the figures look worse eg he upped the projected unemployment figure. Does that mean he realises we will have more unemployed under the Coalition? or is he just trying to paint the worst picture he can and sell it as Labor’s fault? Blind Freddy can see it’s the latter.

    My local member not only banned me, she removed this and any other comment I had made on her page, though the same points have been made by others so her attempt to silence people can be beaten through weight of numbers. I then was informed that my facebook account was temporarily closed. The more people who know the truth the more the government will have to face up to scrutiny. I have also been banned from Tony Abbott’s facebook page and the Liberal Party page. if they want to engage with social media, then they need to answer these questions rather than gagging the people who ask them.

    I suspect that MSM journalists face similar problems. Ask tough questions and you won’t score a seat on Tony’s new plane, or won’t get to ask a question at the press conference, and most definitely will not be invited to a soiree at Kirribilli House to thank you for your services to journalism. That privilege is reserved for luminaries like Andrew Bolt, Piers Ackerman, Janet Albrechtson and Miranda Devine. A relative who works with the ABC says that politicians just refuse to appear on the show if you get too tough and you can’t interview someone who won’t front up. It is a telling fact that Tony Abbott refuses to appear on Q&A. He won’t answer questions.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Kaye Lee, it’s also happening across the social media sites. Ask a question of any Liberal politician and you find yourself blocked from their Facebook or Twitter page. They don’t have to be probing questions; just questions.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Michael,

    My probing pre-election question that got me banned from Tony’s page was “Nice pics but where is the policy discussion?”

  12. Michael Taylor

    Kaye Lee,

    Such a probing question could have seen you deported. 😉

  13. Kaye Lee

    If I type the word “bananas” the men in black are at the door – send help.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Tony’s first foray into Twitter didn’t last long. He was particularly disappointed when someone tweeted this question to him: “Would you rather be attacked by one horse sized duck or twenty duck sized horses?”

    Fair question. 🙂

  15. Kaye Lee

    Pluck a duck! He’s not a duck plucker, he’s a pheasant plucker! I’d like to ask him what’s the difference between a frog? Did king of the tweet Mark Textor not have some duck/horse strategy ready to roll? Considering how much is being forked out to companies to troll social media to find out what we think I would have thought the duck/horse policy would have been well-developed ere this.

  16. Kate Rose

    Michael,

    I think your excellent article should also be sent to the Media Alliance (AJA), the Press Council and the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

    I am not holding my breath, but I am waiting for the journalists/reporters under the auspices of the Media Alliance to stand together and say ‘enough is enough’. Surely they realise they are slowly damaging their integrity and reputations.

    Time for them to stand up and let their readers know the truth behind the lies and spin.

    I am sure the other unions involved in supporting the media outlets (especially printers) would join with them.

  17. Anomander

    The questions should also be sent to The Conversation, at least there appears to be a modicum of intelligent discussion happening there most days and not always dominated by the neoLiberalist agenda.

  18. Wayne Turner

    Australia’s MSM ruined democracy.The MSM is the promotional tool for these Libs (Especially before the election.).Instead of questioning ALL SIDES.They take this Liberal parties side.

    Whoever cuts a deal with Rupert Murdoch,gets the MSM promotion.Our democracy is a SHAM!

  19. Wayne Turner

    As well as NOT asking questions of these Libs.The MSM also like to ignore/bury stories too egs: Glossing over “March In March”,and no probing questions into this at all:-

    http://www.ashbygate.com

  20. Wayne Turner

    Make that no questions into ashbygate.

  21. Kaye Lee

    There are many good articles online and some good journalists out there. The Guardian has been a godsend and the Fairfax press has even had some decent stuff too. I don’t read papers so am not sure how much is just online. Journalists are under pressure to come up with breaking news to a time schedule. Their pieces may cover today’s news, but usually they don’t/can’t afford to rehash old stuff or put things in a broader picture. It gets too long for their format. They also need that close connection where politicians will “tell” them things – either through official leaks or off-the record.

  22. Stephen Tardrew

    Its pretty worrying. This is obviously a type of censorship through exclusion, stealth, control of the media and collusion with the corporate sector to hobble dissent. Sadly it has been quite successful. It begs the question have they found a way to undermine social media by owning the MSM and using subtle implied threats to the career of journalists? It seems to me they allow limited criticism within the bounds of certain constraints that they know will not seriously damage the government which also provides some semblance of openness. They can claim they are not communicating with a bunch of ratbag non-professionals because of abuse whether it is true or not. Conservatives have taken manipulation of the media to a new and more devious level simply by using unspoken threats of exclusion and simply ignoring legitimate challenges. Many Australians rely upon MSM and, for the LNP, limiting exposure to negative criticism is all they care about. What better way to do it than just ignore legitimate challenges. It is obviously a strategy to deny progressives a voice simply by ignoring social media and manipulatively controlling major media outlets. The strategy is to exclude and isolate. And what is Labor doing to counter this farce? I don’t know but they seem to be chocking on their own ineffectiveness.

    The point is most Australians have been convinced that running the economy is like running the family budget and much of the media has been complicit in running this line which is the antithesis of mainstream economics. When the majority of people are misinformed by a complicit media the task to reeducate requires open access to MSM and this is clearly not happening. Sure there is the odd article challenging the status quo but they are couched in economic language that many just turn away from. Family budget is an easy soundbite. The real dynamics of economics requires a certain amount of intellectual rigor and many do not have an understanding of foundational principles. Progressives need to use punchy soundbites to get their message across. Too detailed and many just fade away. The LNP use this fact in their dumbed down simplistic statements that have immediate impact yet little empirical foundations.

    Many of the insightful and well argued articles written on this site will not get a look in by the MSM. There is blatant censorship of progressive ideas. In a democracy this is a serious situation.

    Any informed person following journalism (and I say journalism you can be proud of) on this site fully understands the nature of the beast yet we are struggling to find a conduit into the public domain. Like it or not broad exposure is a vital strategy for changing attitudes. I am not a media expert. I am simply a concerned participant who sees my democratic rites being eviscerated by oligarchic no-conservatism.

  23. Wayne Turner

    Great points Stephen 😉 This especially stood out to me: “Like it or not broad exposure is a vital strategy for changing attitudes.”

  24. Kaye Lee

    I am not sure how they get away with their analogies. Governments are not run like family budgets or like normal businesses.

    Families only have a finite period in which to earn income. They have to plan for retirement. Governments do not.

    As has already been pointed out, businesses run for profit. They eliminate unprofitable ventures. Governments cannot do that.

    Another difference is that governments are caretakers of our money. We all contribute the money they need to run the country and we have a right to insist that our money be invested to provide services we need, not to provide subsidies to billionaires or endless spending on defence.

    Many economists are saying that the most sensible course would be for us to borrow more while interest rates are low (a strategy families, businesses and governments should follow) to invest in the productivity enhancers of tomorrow like education, research and development of new industries, the NBN, a healthier society free from poverty – the things that will make a shitload more difference than giving up a pay rise temporarily.

  25. little devil

    I email this article to my local member. I hope you don’t mind but I change it around a little so asked the questions.

    My local member is the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance.

    I don’t expect to get a answer back, I won’t be holding my breath for a answer.

  26. Lee

    The LNP can ban til the cows come home. They can’t ban me at the polling booth.

  27. Stephen Tardrew

    When monetary policy fails or causes stagnation conservatives claim the necessity for austerity when fiscal stimulus is the only rational alternative. To think that shrinking the economy is going to cause anything but pain is absurd. Yet conservatives are running this line internationally with serious consequences for the middle class, working class and the poor. The point is that economies will recover when there is money to be made. Lengthening recovery through austerity is absurd. Fiscal stimulus, if planned effectively, will get the economy moving again. Confidence is essential and austerity kills confidence. Austerity economies will only recover when the wealthy think they have received their pound of flesh. After all it was the Banks that caused the financial crises and somehow it is justifiable to screw ordinary citizens. This crap had been going on since 2008. When the hell will we learn.

  28. Matters Not

    The point is most Australians have been convinced that running the economy is like running the family budget

    Indeed. It’s just ‘common sense’, isn’t it? The problem with ‘common sense’ it isn’t as ‘common’ as most believe and when looked at closely it isn’t very ‘sensible’.

    “Like households and businesses, governments have to live within their means”

    Pssst, pssst – Bullshit!

    Unlike households or businesses which are constrained by their income, governments that have sovereignty over their own currency and are monopolistic issuers of that currency, are not constrained by income but can create the funds needed literally out of thin air – which is what they do!

    It’s called fiat currency and is not linked to the gold or any other standard.

    There’s more here. http://mugwumpost.wordpress.com/whenever-i-hear-the-words-we-have-to-get-the-budget-back-in-surplus-i-reach-for-my-bullshit-repellent/

    And if you want an ‘international’ take such as:

    Imagine parents create coupons they use to pay their kids for doing chores around the house. They “tax” the kids 10 coupons per week. If the kids don’t have 10 coupons, the parents punish them. “This closely replicates taxation in the real economy, where we have to pay our taxes or face penalties,” Mosler writes.

    So now our household has its own currency. This is much like the U.S. government, which issues dollars, a fiat currency. (Meaning Uncle Sam doesn’t have to give you something else for it. Say, like a certain weight in gold.) If you think through this simple analogy, all kinds of interesting insights emerge.

    More depth here. http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2014/01/fiat-money-works.html

  29. DanDark

    Um I was wrong there are quite a few sociopaths in gov
    Hannibal Hockey and Conman Corman
    are another couple of smokin’ cigar psycho’s

  30. randalstella

    Where is the ABC ‘fact-checker’ on the “emergency” of debt and deficit? Why are the ABC so sure on it; repeating this Government’s most obvious and basic lies as if assumed facts?
    I am repeatedly asked to join in one or other campaign to save “our ABC”. If someone could find our ABC, I will join in. The ABC I know I will not lift a finger for. The only way they are going to learn from their support for gangsters and liars is the hard way. They are simply not capable of any other education. People should not pander to their “kitchen cabinet” inanity by supporting it.

  31. Dan Rowden

    Time for some fun. I’ve just asked Luke Howarth, new member for Petrie here in Qld, a fairly innocuous question at Facebook using my “fake” Facebook account. I wouldn’t be seen dead there otherwise. It’ll be interesting to see what response, if any, I get. It was a question in relation to a flyer my girlfriend got from his office (I actually live in Swanny’s electorate).

    If I get a response I’m going to pump it up a bit and ask him if he still has the same glowing opinion of Bishop as Speaker that he expressed in his maiden Parliamentary speech, especially given that no-one outside of the Liberal Party has such a view.

    Government members banning people on social media for posting material that is not abusive or rude is a serious matter because it constitutes censorship of the electorate.

    Yeah, I know it’s a bit cheeky, but if you can’t have fun and be cheeky at a place as fatuous as Facebook, then there’s nowhere to do it …

  32. Wayne Turner

    Totally agree on the weak ABC.Too often the ABC = Also Biased Crap.

  33. DanDark

    I just rang Hannibal Hockey’s office
    and asked, “Could you please tell me what brand of cigars were
    Hockey and Corman smoking ”
    they must be cheap as the age of entitlement is over
    and the country is broke ,and we must all pay”
    she tried to utter some words up, but I just kept talking
    “Could you please let the Aussie public know
    so WE can go buy some of them cigars”
    “so we can celebrate being screwed by the gov too”,
    “We are not going broke love ,our wealth is just being stolen by the biggest thieves in town”
    Phony Tony and Smokin’ Joe”

    I have asked the question Kaye
    So we will now await the press release for full disclosure
    on brand on cost of Smoking Joe’s cigars

    ,

  34. dafid1

    randalstella…I’m with you re the ABC. I have written to them many times only to be fobbed off with innuendo, rubbish or lies. Too many times I have received the standard reply ”if you are not satisfied please refer to our complaints procedure etc” tried that…result, another loss to me.
    I have stopped caring.

  35. Dan Rowden

    Claims of bias are always interesting; they tend to fall neatly down political lines. The Right claims the ABC is biased to the Left. The Left claims the ABC is biased to the Right. The Right says the Left is full of crap on this. The Left says the Right is full of crap on this. And so it goes ….

    For my part I think the issue is more one of quality rather than bias.

  36. eagoodlife

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Did you look at journos lately? Can they possibly have a long-term perspective on politics, the economy and all that? What happened to those old time hard-bitten journos who knew everyone, knew everything, had no polish but plenty of nous and never let pollies off the hook? Today most journos are the age of the pollies kids, maybe they’re too respectful, too concerned about having a job or too polite to form the big questions that need asking. Ask any of them if they’d resign on principle, refuse to reveal their sources or protect their informants if they have any and see if they’d do the same as other media minions wand editors, bosses etc who have been caught out in what would once have been considered unethical, unprincipled and bad practice. Good journalism is all but dead, throttled by Murdoch and his mates for the big buck.

  37. Kerri

    Excellent letter James. I am in total agreement and thanks for putting the questions so eloquently and succinctly. I have been unable to get past “What on earth do they teach in journalism schools these day?”

  38. bensab3

    Hopefully a letter from AIMN will have influence. I have written to the ABC about what I believe to be relevant questions regarding burning issues, that are just not asked and about unbalanced panels discussing present politics. During the Rudd/Gillard governments, I believe very important questions were not asked, allowing the slogans and constant repetition of lies by the the Opposition to grow and fester. I don’t believe we should not support OUR ABC, as they perform an important function in all aspects covering local community,cultural, political, lifestyle, documentary etc. However, I believe there is room for improvement in the political sphere. My other issue is the inquisitorial style of questioning. If the recipient becomes evasive, then a more demanding style should be taken.

    I am not sure when quality journalism took a dive, but I would hazard a guess at when News Limited became powerful enough to drive the politics they wanted. Not enough investigative journalism was practiced regarding the Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson affairs. The slurs and innuendos were insufficiently challenged as far as I can remember, and rightly or wrongly, (to be determined in the future) two or more, lives were ruined, to gain political success.

    Am I wrong in noticing that Fairfax seems to be employing more ‘investigative’ journalism again now.

    Thank goodness for social media, and informative links through Twitter.

  39. Oliver Townshend

    It’s tricky stuff looking up publicly available information. You complain journalists don’t do it. And then you don’t do it. Here’s the a start of who we are in debt too.

    http://www.rba.gov.au/speeches/2014/sp-ag-150414.html

  40. James Fitzgerald

    There are a few further comments that probably should be presented. Initially, TGFIM, particularly this organisation, The Conversation, NM, Hoopla, The Guardian and with inevitable scepticism, ABC & hopefully SBS. I know that there are dozens (hundreds?) of independent media globally and within Australia and, if their cause leads to a stronger and better informed society, they are admirable. Any negative impressions are directed accurately at MSM. Certainly not directed at Kaye Lee, nor AIMN. You inspire thoughtfulness, higher discretion and, more importantly, you rock.
    Secondly: Journalism is merely a job, and as with psychology, there are more employed in marketing than therapy or reporting. [citation: ABC Gruen Transfer; a few years ago].
    Thirdly, Democracy extends no further than the freedom to vote once at each election. It is unhealthy and confusing to associate a free press, freedom of speech, the right to publicly gather in protest and the ability to pay for umbrella media coverage with democracy.
    Fourthly, Many, understandably, associate PM Mr Abbott’s policy direction with stupidity, lack of realistic empathy and idiocy. Mr Abbott has had an immense formal education and he carries an associated level of intelligence. All of the policies that he and his cohorts present have not evolved from stupidity. They have been plied upon us from Tory and Neo-Conservative philosophies and behaviours. The LNP are not dumb, they are deliberate and their policies are formed purely for the benefit of a small number of their supporters. (TGF democracy for the next election…)
    Fifthly, When NEWS media only gather their information from narrow sources (E.G the Australian Border Security fascists or Abbott & Hockey’s Audit Commissions ), and when Neo-classical economics influence the most “profitable” information that should be published, it is inevitable that contrived and deliberately controlled information is all that will be received (and accepted) by voters. TGFIM.
    Finally, an issue to consider for the next federal election: One of the essential aspects of our derived Westminster system is the necessity to have a strong opposition. It has disappeared in Qld & we have tragically reverted to the gerrymander days of pre 1980s. All Australians need to always respect the right for idiots to vote. As we have all seen at the most recent federal election, enough Australians voted from no other aspect than miss-information and Murdoch-ispired idiocy. To me, there is very little difference between the 2 major parties in Australia. Both of them appear to place the economy in a deity position above society. I understand (and disagree with) “anthropomorphism” however a new term needs to be spread around, into popular culture, that accurately describes the worship of the god-like importance currency holds over society.

  41. Keitha Granville

    the AIMN keeps me alive every day, knowing that there are more and more and more decent thinking Australians every day asking questions, not getting answers, but keeping on asking them anyway. Eventualy those who were foolish enough to believe the lies and the tales of woe will see that they were duped and they will also begin to question – and the end will be in sight. The good thing is that the Opposition will need to be very careful prior to the next election to watch what it says and promises -we won’t be taken for fools again, we won’t be lied to, we won’t be treated like sheep any more. I beleive that we are big enough to listen to sensible arguments and to understand when decisions have to made to put us on the right path without causing immeasurable hardship to those least able to cope. I don’t mind paying more tax if it means that my community as a whole benefits. I do mind it it means the top 1% benefit. We need to take back our parliament, we need to make our elected representatives represent us. For too long now they have represented their parties and totally forgotten their constituents. Write to them, constantly, so they can’t forget you.

  42. CMMC

    Another one bites the dust, Tim Owen will not contest again the State seat of Newcastle for the Liberal Party.

  43. laura

    Just watched a YouTube clip where Jon Stewart talks about the “alternate universe” of doom and gloom created by conservative politicians and right wing interest groups in America (he calls it ‘Bulls##t Mountain’) to justify cuts which affect the poorest and most disadvantaged in society. It seems that Australia now has an alternate universe of our own. A universe where one of the strongest economies in the world is a “basket case”.There is a “budget disaster” necessitating cuts to…..you guessed it government programs for the most poor and disadvantaged in society. 97% of climate change scientists are aiding and abetting the conspiracy to take our freedoms and further ruin our disastrous economy with their evil, insidious, anti-freedom climate ideas. There is a tsunami of dangerous zealots invading our country in rickety boats trying to bankrupt our country by getting on the dole and stealing our jobs. This is Australia’s “alternate universe”, created by Abbott and co, the MSM, Gina, Rupert and a plethora of right wing groups with vested interests. The ALP are also to blame for buying into the “alternate universe” and perpetuating so many of the myths surrounding it. Surely the only way forward for Australia is to call bulls**t on this alternate universe and start acknowledging the reality that we are one of the luckiest countries in the world. We have a strong economy. We have an abundance of renewable energy sources. We have a world class education system and world class brains busily figuring out new and exciting ways to use our clean energy sources. We have more than enough to share with those unfortunate enough to have to flee their homelands. We have the resources to care for our most disadvantaged citizens. I don’t want to live in Abbott’s crappy alternate universe, I want to live in the real Australia.

  44. Stephen Tardrew

    Panicky Debt. What Debt?

    http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/BriefingBook44p/AustGovDebt

    What the? Try following the projections. Now where did this come form?

    And from Crikey.com

    “A fiscal policy that goes beyond addressing the structural problems of our tax and spending frameworks to a cut-debt-at-all-costs policy not merely has the potential to drive the economy into recession, but it would risk thereby increasing what little debt problem we have through reduced economic growth and tax revenues.

    But Eslake doesn’t see much danger from austerity-driven politicians. Instead, he is concerned that an incoming Coalition government, should one eventuate, will repeat the mistakes of the Fraser years and fail to use its position to drive necessary fiscal discipline.”

    What was that you said about austerity Saul? Damn how the future steps in the way to refelct the past.

    http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/03/27/heres-the-real-story-of-australian-debt/

    The children have hold of the piggy bank while transfering their magical, mythical ideological thinking onto the market place.

    Great achievement fellas.

  45. silkworm

    Emma Alberici just lied on Lateline, saying Julia Gillard had promised not to introduce a carbon price.

  46. rick5591

    Laura.
    Agreed. But our economy would be infinitely stronger if we kicked out the the Rothchild international bankers who own our banks and the reserve bank.Instead of our currency being created out of thin air by the banksters, then loaned to our banks for which we have to pay them interest. And when the interest gets too much to pay back we pay interest on the interest. This process continues until the nation bankrupts as did Ireland and Iceland and Greece. But the first two nations plus Hungry and Russia woke up to the scam and prosecuted the Rothchild bankers and then kicked their banks out of their countries. They then set up national banks which issued their own currency and paid interest to no one. Iceland went from poverty to prosperity almost overnight. We could do the same ; but it won’t happen under Abbott who is a minion of Murdoch who is the propaganda arm of the Rothchild banking fraud. Nor will it happened under Labor who have toed the banking cartel line ever since the Whitlam government was destroyed by the CIA in league with the banking cartel and the Murdoch press for daring to go elsewhere for loans (the Khemlani Affair).
    It will require huge public pressure from an awake electorate and possibly a new majority political party, before it happens here.
    Rick5591

  47. johnward154

    Questions reporters should ask but don’t. If you want to shake the cage, don’t ask for opinions, assumptions or thoughts.
    Where will I find evidence and facts to support your assertions? Do you have any direct or indirect interest in this matter? What evidence do you have? What do you mean by that? How do you know? What was the Root cause of this outcome? Can you explain that more precisely? Can you provide more precise numbers and facts that can be verified to support your claim? Exactly who was responsible? Were you a direct witness to this?

  48. Arjen

    Politicians are now very used to be able to make wild statements. It doesn’t even matter when they’re fact-checked later, as the word is then already out there.

    Example from our past: Costello claims on the baby bonus.

    Costello claimed that the baby bonus was having a positive effect on the # of babies being born in Australia. This based on the upward trend of that #.

    What he neglected to tell is that the upward trend pre-existed the introduction of the baby bonus. Thus the claim is false and without substance.

    But, regardless of your opinion of the baby bonus itself, it’s worse than that.
    The intended objective of the baby bonus was clearly not achieved, it did not increase the # of babies being born.
    So if an increase was needed (that is a policy decision and a subjective debate) then other measures should have been taken. Given the claim of the bonus being effective, no other measures were taken. Policy fail and objectives not achieved (other than being seen to do something that actually does nothing).
    Secondly, and perhaps even worse, is the waste of funds – if the policy was ineffective, scrapping it ASAP rather than let it exist for many years would have saved many millions (simple maths: with a baby bonus of a few thousand $ per baby, each 1000 babies costs a few million).

    Ideally a politician should not be allowed to make public claims without a basic fact check. I concede that this is rather difficult as many issues are a matter of subjective opinions, however as shown above you can analyse the facts without even going in to a for/against on the policy.

  49. Charles Miller

    If I was a politician and a journalist asked me those questions, I’d wonder if they were straight out of their cadetship.

    Answer 1: that’s not how government debt works. Governments don’t go to a bank and say “Hey, I’d like to take out a loan for a billion dollars, where do I fill in the forms?” They go to the ASX and say “I have a billion dollars worth of AAA-rated bonds to sell that will pay 3% for ten years, who wants to buy them?”. Who owns the bonds is largely immaterial because they’re a commodity, and as such they get traded around anyway.

    If you have super, you almost certainly own at least a bit of the Australian national debt. And a bit of the US national debt. And probably the UK…

    Similarly, if you want to know what the debt is -for-, that’s why we have an annual budget. The budget is literally the document the government produces to explain what it is spending its money on, and where that money is coming from.

    Answer 2: That’s a trick question. A healthy society that is not backed by a solid economy will very quickly find it can’t _afford_ to be healthy any more. One of the main jobs of government is to raise and then spend money in the way that allows it to create a sustainably healthy society. The definition of a healthy society is very much open to debate, and lies at the core of the ideological differences between our political parties.

  50. johnward154

    The most stunning Press conference is occurring in Canberra ABC 24
    All Premiers Have told Abbott to shove it.
    Historic, even if some of them cave, the pressure is on, the people are having an impact. Get on the phone and rev up your Senators to say no to Canberra and Abbott. Even Conservative Senators Must represent their state before their party. The latter is advice given to all and sundry by Campbell Newman QLD.
    Wow!

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