Economic reform “must, and will, continue in 2006″, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard, in his New Year’s Message.
Howard said that “stable and happy family life is crucial to Australia’s future”. He said that “more flexibility under the new workplace arrangements will enable Australians an even greater capacity to balance work and family life”.
In a further sign of his determination to remain Prime Minister through to the next election, Howard reiterated his government’s record in economic management, claiming that the “reform process was maintained to the full in 2005″. [Read more…]
Kerry Packer was a “great Australian”, the Prime Minister, John Howard, said today.
Howard wasted no time in holding a media conference at Kirribilli House, Sydney, this morning, just hours after Channel 9 broke the news that the station’s owner, Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer, had died, aged 68.
Packer was a loyal friend, the Prime Minister said.
Howard said the cliches “great Australian” and “larger than life character” were appropriate descriptions of Packer. He paid tribute to the media proprietor’s business acumen, citing Packer’s sale of the Nine network to Alan Bond in the 1980s. Packer subsequently bought Nine back at a fraction of the price. Bond went broke. Packer famously said “an Alan Bond only comes along once in life”. [Read more…]
The Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, has spent the Christmas period visiting Australian troops in the Middle East.
He joined troops of the Al Muthanna Task Group for Christmas lunch in southern Iraq, as well as visiting the Special Forces Task Group in Afghanistan, the AP-3 Orion crews, and HMAS Parramatta in the northern Persian Gulf.
The Australian forces are part of Operation Catalyst, described by the Department of Defence as “Australia’s contribution to the safety, reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq”. [Read more…]
It is one year since the Indian Ocean tsunami devastated areas of the sub-continent and South Asia.
Around a quarter of a million people lost their lives in one of the most deadly natural disasters of recent times.
This is the text of a media statement from the Prime Minister, John Howard.
FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI
I invite all Australians to join me today in marking the first anniversary of the terrible events of Boxing Day last year, when the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami caused loss of life and property on an almost unimaginable scale. [Read more…]
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have delivered Christmas messages to the people of Australia.
John Howard’s Christmas message adhered strictly to the political messages he has crafted over nearly 10 years in office, emphasising the generosity of Australia’s overseas aid response and lauding the work of non-government welfare agencies.
The Liberal leader also referred to the significance of Jesus Christ and family life. An intriguing insight into Howard’s political approach can be seen in his departure from the prepared speech distributed by his office. In the televised version he simply refers to “the birth of a man”, whereas the prepared text says “the birth of Jesus Christ”. Whilst keen to support religious values, Howard rarely does so in an overt manner. [Read more…]
The Victorian Local Government Association has made a submission to the state government in advance of next year’s budget.
Budget submissions, state and federal, are examples of regular lobbying activity by pressure groups.
This is the text of the VLGA’s covering letter to Treasurer John Brumby, accompanying the submission to the Treasurer on the 2006-07 Budget priorities.
The Victorian Local Governance Association is pleased to provide a submission on the priorities for the 2006 – 07 State Budget.
Our submission focuses clearly on the need for the 2006 -07 Budget to be a Transport Budget which significantly commits to services and infrastructure spending to underpin the Metropolitan Transport Plan and commitments in both Growing Victoria Together and he Melbourne 2030 strategy.
Equally important is the need for a commitment to the development of a Provincial Transport Framework to identify local and state-wide priorities. We also draw your attention o significant infrastructure issues for provincial local government’s in terms of bridge capitalisation and maintenance.
We would be delighted to meet with you in the New Year to discuss further.
An air services agreement has been reached between Australia and the North Pole that will allow Santa Claus to fly through Australian airspace on Christmas Eve, according to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss.
“Rigorous safety checks of Santa’s sleigh and reindeer” have been carried out and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has provided “dispensation allowing the sleigh to fly lower than 1,000 feet over built-up areas.” [Read more…]
The Liberal Party has circulated a document outlining what it claims are its 32 key achievements in 2005.
Titled “Making Australia Stronger”, the document has been emailed to subscribers to the Liberal Party’s Current Political Note.
The document claims low interest rates as the government’s number one achievement. The Budget surplus and the Future Fund take second and third places.
This is the text of “Making Australia Stronger: Key Howard Government Achievements In 2005″, a document distributed by the Liberal Party.
- Kept interest rates low for another year with the variable mortgage interest rate at 7.3% compared with a high of 17% and an average of 12.7% under Labor. Kept business loan rates under 10% compared with a high of 20.5% and an average of 14.25% under Labor;
- Delivered an eighth Budget surplus and effectively eliminated all of Labor’s $96 billion of government debt;
- Established a Future Fund which will ensure that the Australian Government is able to meet the costs of Australia’s ageing population;
- Delivered the lowest unemployment rate in 29 years at 5% with 1.7 million new jobs created since 1996, compared with Labor under which unemployment rose to as high as 10.9% and averaged 8.5%;
- Continued to increase the real wages of Australian workers with real wages more than 15% higher now than in 1996. Under Labor, the low paid suffered a 3.1% fall in their real wages during its 13 years in office;
- Continued to improve Australia’s century old workplace relations system and strengthen the Australian economy by introducing a national system of workplace relations for the first time. This will enable employers and employees to establish arrangements which best suit their needs and strengthen the job prospects of many Australians by removing the burden of unfair dismissal from the back of small businesses;
- Passed Welfare-to-Work legislation which will encourage those on welfare who are reasonably able to work to do so while supporting them with an additional $3.6 billion in assistance, including through improved employment services and rehabilitation support;
- Announced and legislated another $22 billion over 4 years of personal income tax cuts to all taxpayers, ensuring that more than 80 per cent of taxpayers pay no more than 30 cents of their wages in tax while the highest marginal tax rate only cuts in at a taxable income of $125,000;
- Abolished the Superannuation Surcharge reducing the tax that is paid on superannuation savings by $2.5 billion over 4 years;
- Commenced delivering a further $3 billion in business tax cuts, including the removal of the 3% tariff on business inputs, allowing ‘blackhole’ tax relief and the 25% Entrepreneurs Tax Discount;
- Passed legislation that will provide an additional $3 billion in support for regional telecommunications while removing the conflict of interest resulting from the Government being both the telecommunications regulator and the majority owner of Telstra;
- Further enhanced drought assistance, including through increased assistance under the exceptional circumstances arrangements. This will bring the Australian Government’s total commitment to farmers during the drought to more than $1.25 billion including nearly $900 million which has been provided on direct welfare and business support;
- Undertook a major upgrade of airport security which will ensure a united policing force at key airports, and the introduction of high-powered Joint Airport Intelligence Groups and a Counter Terrorism First Response capability;
- Passed new counter-terrorism laws that give our security and law enforcement agencies much greater ability to prevent and pre-empt terrorist attacks, continue to increase the counter-terrorism capability of ASIO and the AFP, and improve the security of Australia’s overseas missions;
- Supported international security and counter-terrorism efforts, including through continuing ADF deployments in Iraq, the new deployment to Afghanistan, and expanded counter-terrorism regional engagement;
- Continued to boost Australia’s defence force and border security including through the Defence Update 2005, Hardened Networked Army, establishment of the Joint Off-Shore Protection Command, and the decision to build the air warfare destroyers;
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
- With the strong support of the Australian people, responded quickly and generously to the devastating Asian tsunami committing more than $1 billion of reconstruction assistance and providing troops and other assistance on the ground. We also led the region in developing a Tsunami Warning System to ensure everyone is prepared for any future tsunami;
- Further enhanced Australia’s position in the region by attending the inaugural East Asia Summit in December 2005;
- Continued to push for a fairer deal for Australia’s exporters both in various multilateral trade negotiations, and by finalisation of the FTA with the United States and commencing discussions on free trade agreements with China and Japan;
- Significantly enhanced Australia’s bilateral links with moderate leaders in the Muslim world – Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and Pakistan – including through a series of high profile visits by President Yudhoyono, President Musharraf, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Prime Minister Erdogan;
- Expanded our commitment to Overseas Development Assistance, international cooperation on Pandemic Influenza, announcement of a Technical College for the South Pacific, and a major scholarship plan for the Asian Pacific region;
- Increased health and aged care spending to $45 billion a year compared with $20 billion in Labor’s last year in office. Further enhanced Medicare by increasing the Medicare rebate from 85 to 100 per cent of the schedule fee and implementing Round-the-Clock Medicare which gives Australians greater access to doctors outside normal business hours;
- Announced ground-breaking family law reforms which recognise and encourage shared parenting in cases of family break-up and establish a national network of Family Relationship Centres to assist families prevent and adjust to break-up;
- Implemented the Child Care Rebate which will ensure that parents using approved care are rebated 30 per cent of their out-of-pocket child care costs, significantly reducing the cost of child care;
- Recognised the contribution of carers by providing an additional $1,000 taxfree to the 90,000 carers receiving Carer Payment and an additional $600 tax-free to the 300,000 carers receiving Carer Allowance;
- Funded the establishment of 25 Australian Technical Colleges to enable young Australians to learn the best trade skills. Also funded an additional 7,000 School Based New Apprenticeships and a further 4,500 prevocational training places for people interested in pursuing a career in traditional trades, bringing total Australian Government funding for vocational and technical education to a record $2.5 billion.
- Required the States to introduce plain English report cards clearly explaining to parents how their children are performing and progressing at school;
- Abolished compulsory student unionism so that students can choose whether or not to pay up to $590 a year to belong to a student union at university;
- Delivered on the Coalition election commitment to lock-up a further 170,000 hectares of Tasmania’s native forests in the reserve system while protecting the jobs of Tasmanians whose livelihoods depend on the forest industries;
- Delivered on the Coalition election commitment to provide $2 billion through the Australian Water Fund to build Australia’s water storage and supply infrastructure and to assist all Australians to use water more efficiently;
- Established the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate with the USA, China, India, Japan and South Korea. The Partnership will address the challenges of climate change, energy security and air pollution, and Australia will host its inaugural meeting in early 2006;
- Recognised the service and sacrifice of Australia’s veterans by commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign and the 60th anniversary of VP day.
Printed & authorised by Brian Loughnane
Cnr Blackall & Macquarie Sts, Barton ACT 2600
The Treasurer, Peter Costello, has denied that he misled Parliament over Treasury advice on the industrial relations changes.
The Treasury Executive Minute of October 6, 2005 was revealed by The Australian newspaper this morning. It appears to confirm arguments that lower-paid workers will be negatively impacted by the WorkChoices laws. It also appears to conflict with statements Costello made to Parliament in early November.
The Treasury minute was obtained under the Freedom of Information law. [Read more…]