Bodyline, The Economy And A Republic: Wayne Swan Joins The Dots

The Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has released an Australia Day article that draws a series of connections between the 1930s Bodyline cricket series, the contemporary economy and a future republic.

SwanSwan remembers Bodyline as typifying Australian resistance to English imperial superiority. He sees Australia defending “fair play” and playing “within both the letter and the spirit of the rules”. Australia’s code, says Swan, is “not a gentleman’s code” but “a democratic code”.

Linking Bodyline with the 1930s Depression, Swan says “Australians didn’t cause that Depression and to a very great extent we were powerless to tackle it..because we lacked full economic sovereignty”.

Swan says Bodyline and the Great Depression “helped awaken a democratic and egalitarian assertion of Australian national sovereignty that still serves us well on Australia Day 2013.”

Despite the fact that the Rudd and Gillard governments have done nothing over the past five years to promote constitutional change, Swan says reflection on Bodyline and the Depression “will eventually” have the legacy of “hastening the approach of an Australian republic”.

Swan’s argument is similar in style to his musings last year on Bruce Springsteen’s opposition to economic privilege. In his John Button Oration, Swan sought to emphasise democratic and egalitarian values at the heart of the Labor government’s value system.

Swan’s article today is an attempt to add to the over-arching story the government has been developing as the federal election draws near.

Text of an article released by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan.

Forged in Fair Play – 80 Years on From Bodyline

It has been another eventful Australian summer, marked by bushfires that have once again tested some of our nation’s most important values: our capacity to stick together in a crisis, help out those who need help, display coolness, competence and courage under pressure.

In a time of transition, with our nation on the cusp of the Asian Century, our values are the most treasured commodities we possess, ones which will always endure. So as we celebrate this Australia Day, it is worth reflecting on the origins and nature of Australia’s national values.

There’s no one source of our national character. It comes from our indigenous heritage, from the struggles of the convicts and early settlers, the Federation period with its conflicts and mateship, and of course our nation’s experiences on the battlefields of war. [Read more…]


Swan Continues Attacks On Campbell Newman Cuts

For the second day running, Treasurer Wayne Swan has focussed on Queensland government budget cuts and their effect on unemployment and the national economy.

Swan

At a Brisbane media conference, Swan quoted from Queensland Budget papers which itemised $3 billion worth of cuts to health funding and 2,754 full-time job losses.

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Transcript of Treasurer Wayne Swan’s Brisbane media conference.

TREASURER:

I wanted to say a few things about the World Economic Outlook which has been released by the IMF overnight. They have expressed cautious optimism about future growth in the global economy and certainly cautious optimism is justified if policy makers get the big decisions right over the next 12 months. And in particular, policy makers in the United States when it comes to the conclusion of the negotiations surrounding the debt cap there and the other issues associated with the fiscal cliff. [Read more…]


Unemployment Rate Increases 0.1% To 5.4%

Australia’s unemployment rate increased by 0.1% to 5.4% in December.

There was a small fall in full-time employment, offset by increased part-time employment. The participation rate was steady at 65.1%.

Employment Participation Minister Kate Ellis and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey both commented on the figures.

Ellis

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Hockey

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Text of media release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased 0.1 percentage points to 5.4 per cent in December, as announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today. [Read more…]


Gillard And Swan Look To The Election

In statements published today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have sought to frame the political debate in this election year.

GillardAs Gillard overtakes Kevin Rudd’s 935 days as prime minister, she has written a piece for the Sunday Telegraph in which she talks about her family’s background in a Welsh mining village and her consequent attitude to education, jobs and fairness. Gillard portrays herself as a prime minister “getting the big things done” to create opportunity.

Gillard depicts her government as one “with security as our foundation stone”. She presents the National Disability Insurance Scheme as the modern complement to Medicare, and the National Broadband Network as essential to Australia’s future economic growth. Most of all, she stresses the importance of education: “We have to be smarter.”

The statement says “we’ll never again see a world without global warming”, but makes no mention of the carbon tax or the eventual emissions trading scheme.

Like Gillard, Swan talks of the nation’s spirit of optimism and of “reforms to secure our future”. In his weekly Economic Note, the Treasurer stresses that Australia is in “the box seat” to take advantage of the global economy as it tilts toward Asia.

Swan talks up “hard fought reforms like pricing carbon, building the NBN, or huge reforms in health, aged care, mental health, taking a million taxpayers out of the system by tripling the tax-free threshold, paid parental leave, the Schoolkids Bonus or the biggest boost to the pension this country has ever seen.”

Text of statement from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as published in The Sunday Telegraph.

The 28th of December would have been my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary.

No matter what else is happening, you can never fill the gap left by the loss of a loved one.

So I was in a reflective mood this Christmas and I took that feeling with me to Sydney as I welcomed the New Year. There were fireworks and bubbly all around me but I was concentrating on memories of the past and plans for the future.

Whether you remember the past as an easier, happier time or a harder, lonelier time depends on your own circumstances and journey through life.

But however you remember it, there is no going back there. You can’t change it or relive it. But you can plan for and shape the future.

What’s true for individuals, is true for our nation and our world. [Read more…]


Abbott On Budget Surplus: Government Has Completely Failed On Economic Management

Australians cannot trust the Gillard government to manage the economy or to tell the truth, according to the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Speaking at a joint press conference with shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, Abbott said the government’s retreat on the budget surplus was another betrayal of a fundamental promise.

Abbott said the government had been behaving as if the surplus “wasn’t something that might happen, it was something that had happened.” The government has no economic strategy, just a political strategy, he said. “You can’t trust them to manage the economy or to tell the truth.”

Abbott

Abbott claimed that in the 2010 election campaign Gillard had made a budget surplus pledge the day after she promised not to introduce a carbon tax. “They’ve been talking of a surplus for three years.”

“We will pursue this government every single day for its failure until the election,” Abbott said. [Read more…]


Swan Abandons Budget Surplus For This Year; ‘Sledgehammer’ Hits Revenue

The Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has announced that the government no longer expects to meet its target of a budget surplus this financial year.

“Dramatically lower tax revenue now makes it unlikely that there will be a surplus in 2012-13,” Swan told a press conference in Canberra today.

A “sledgehammer” has hit government revenues, Swan said. “Unusual events” have weighed heavily on revenues which have been written down by $20 billion. Latest figures show a $3.9 billion revenue slump in the first four months of 2012-13.

Swan

Swan said the government has kept making “responsible savings to fill a growing revenue hole”, but that it “would not be responsible to cut harder and deeper to fill a revenue hole at the expense of employment and growth. “I simply couldn’t stand here and say that would be the responsible thing to do. The responsible thing to do is let the automatic stabilisers go to work on the revenue side of the budget.” [Read more…]


OECD: Australia A Standout Economy

The OECD’s latest economic survey says Australia’s 21 years of uninterrupted growth “stands out among OECD countries”.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an organisation representing 34 of the world’s richest and most developed countries, says Australia’s growth performance “has been sustained by sound policies” and the Asian commodities boom.

The OECD says the main challenge for Australian economic policy is “to manage a sustained recovery, while promoting important structural changes in the economy.”

OECD reports are usually written with input from the Treasury. Amongst the report’s policy recommendations, it says: “The current shift in the policy mix is appropriate. If the cycle weakens, ease monetary policy and let the automatic stabilisers work. Whilst monetary policy should be the first line of defence, if a full-scale global crisis of similar magnitude as in 2008-09 erupts, be ready to adopt prompt fiscal expansion.”

The report also urges a reduction in company tax and a broadening of the mineral resource rent tax (MMRT).

The Secretary General of the OECD, Jose Angel Gurria, described Australia as the “iron man” of the OECD. He was interviewed by ABC News24’s Scott Bevan:

Text of a media release from Treasurer Wayne Swan.

OECD survey shows Australian economy a standout

The OECD’s latest economic survey of Australia released today shows once again that our economy stands tall amongst its peers, with 21 consecutive years of growth, robust economic fundamentals and a positive outlook in the face of acute global challenges.

The OECD finds that, unlike many developed economies, the Australian economy remains resilient, with successful macroeconomic management contributing to solid growth, low unemployment, contained inflation, and strong public finances. [Read more…]


Today’s Political Messages: Swan And Abbott

The parliamentary year is over and Christmas is two weeks away but politics continued at full strength today.

The looming holiday period will presage a frantic election year and both sides continue to push their main messages.

In his media appearance today, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan spruiked the government’s economic message and condemned the opposition’s attitude to automatic enrolment of young voters.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also talked economic issues, predicting that the government would not achieve a budget surplus next year.

Both men took questions about the media in light of the 2DayFM royal prank call.

Wayne Swan

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Tony Abbott

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Swan has now flown out to visit India. Tony Abbott will be in England at the end of the week.

Text of media release by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Visit to India to discuss the opportunities of the Asian Century

Tonight I depart for India to meet with senior Indian Government and business leaders to discuss the opportunities for our two countries in the Asian Century, building on the goodwill the Prime Minister generated in her October visit. [Read more…]


Full Text Of COAG Communique

This is the full text of the Council of Australian Governments Communique issued after today’s meeting of first ministers in Canberra.

COAG press conference

Full text of the COAG Communique released following today’s meeting of federal, state and territory first ministers.

Council of Australian Governments Meeting – Communiqué

Canberra, 7 December 2012

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 34th meeting in Canberra today, 20 years to the day since its first meeting in Perth in 1992. The Prime Minister, Premiers, Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) participated in today’s meeting. The Leaders welcomed Northern Territory Chief Minister, the Hon Terry Mills MLA and President of ALGA, Felicity-ann Lewis to their first COAG meeting.

COAG also reiterated its commitment to focus its attention on policy reforms of national significance, and to keep its agenda as streamlined as possible.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

COAG reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by signing an intergovernmental agreement for its first stage. The agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the initial phase of the NDIS. The lessons learned in implementing the first stage will inform governments about proceeding to a full scheme by:

  • setting out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme;
  • establishing the new Standing Council on Disability Reform, with representation from all jurisdictions, which – from 1 January 2013 – will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and related to the transition to a full scheme; and
  • setting in place arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage which will inform the transition to a full scheme.

COAG noted the historic agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments to establish the full NDIS in New South Wales by 1 July 2018. The Commonwealth noted that it looks forward to concluding agreements on the same terms with all other governments.

In addition, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory signed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth which confirm the operational and funding details for the roll-out of the NDIS in each launch site. From this time, under the launch arrangements, people with a disability, their families and carers will start to benefit from a fairer, more sustainable and equitable approach to supporting people with disability. Discussions on further launch sites are continuing. [Read more…]


Unemployment Rate Falls To 5.2%

Australia’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage points in November and now sits at 5.2%.

Increased part-time employment, particularly amongst female workers, and a small drop in the number of people in full-time employment contributed to the overall decrease.

The seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate dropped 0.1% to 65.1%.

Text of media release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

Australia’s unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage points to 5.2 per cent in November 2012

Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percentage point to 5.2 per cent in November, as announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today. [Read more…]