The Queen’s Christmas Message

Queen Elizabeth II has delivered her annual Christmas Message to the Commonwealth.

Queen Elizabeth II

  • Listen to the Queen’s 2011 Christmas Message (7m)

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Deadlock Over Asylum Seekers Remains Following Talks

No agreement was reached on the asylum seeker deadlock, following talks today between Labor and Liberal representatives.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd met with the Opposition’s shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison and shadow foreign minister Julie Bishop.

Both sides claimed the discussions were cordial and constructive. Further talks will take place in the coming weeks.

  • Scott Morrison comments before meeting with government ministers (3m)

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  • Chris Bowen comments following talks with Opposition members (2m)

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  • Scott Morrison comments following talks with government ministers (2m)

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  • Tony Abbott comments on asylum seeker policy in Melbourne (13m)

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Senator Nick Sherry Announces Retirement From Gillard Ministry

Senator Nick Sherry, the Small Business Minister, has confirmed his retirement from the Gillard ministry.

Senator Nick Sherry (ALP-Tas)

Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, Sherry said he was retiring from the ministry and would remain in the Senate, but he will not contest the next election.

Sherry said the decision was his alone and he did not discuss it with anyone inside the government before he told Prime Minister Gillard at the ALP National Conference a week ago.

Sherry said he is 56 years old, with three young children, and he had decided to pursue other interests.

  • Listen to Nick Sherry’s press conference:

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  • Listen to Tony Abbott’s doorstop media conference this morning:

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Reserve Bank Cuts Interest Rates Another 0.25% To 4.25%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut interest rates for the second month in a row.

The reduction of 25 basis points – 0.25% – takes the cash rate to 4.25%.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, welcomed the cut, describing it as “welcome Christmas cheer”. He called on the banks to pass on the reduction in full.

  • Table of Australian interest rate fluctuations since 1990
  • Listen to Wayne Swan’s comments on the rate cut:

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Statement on Monetary Policy from Glenn Stevens, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 4.25 per cent, effective 7 December 2011.

Growth in the global economy has moderated this year after a strong performance in 2010. Some of the slowing reflected temporary factors, and as these passed, the pace of expansion in the United States and much of Asia began to pick up around mid year. China’s growth has been slowing, as policymakers there had intended. Trade in Asia is now, however, seeing some effects of a significant slowing in economic activity in Europe. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott Responds To Mid-Year Budget Update

Tony Abbott has described the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook as a “crisis mini-budget.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb, Abbott claimed there is now no buffer against international economic problems because of the incompetence of the government.

  • Listen to Abbott, Hockey and Robb (19m)

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  • Watch the press conference:

Transcript of joint press conference with Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb.

TONY ABBOTT: Today the Government has finally admitted what the Coalition has been saying for months. Namely, there is a crisis in Europe, there is a global economic slowdown and it will impact on Australia. I want to make the fundamental point that this is a government which is imperilling our ability to respond to this global problem. It is imperilling our ability to respond to this very serious set of international economic numbers.

This is a government which is making a bad situation worse with its new taxes and with its continuing waste. There is no good time to introduce bad taxes but this is the worst possible time to be introducing a carbon tax and a mining tax which are going to damage Australia’s international competitiveness. [Read more…]


Swan Releases MYEFO: Budget Surplus Shaved

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has released the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). It forecasts an increased budget deficit for 2011-12 and a small surplus in 2012-13.

Key points from MYEFO:

  • 2011-12 budget deficit has increased to $37 billion from the budget forecast of $23 billion.
  • The budget surplus for 2012-13 has been downgraded from $3.5 billion to $1.5 billion.
  • Deteriorating economic conditions have cut $20 billion from revenue over the four-year forward estimates.
  • Additional savings of $11.5 billion over four years have been announced.
  • The baby bonus has been cut from $5400 to $5000.
  • A 2.5% efficiency dividend, on top of an existing 1.5%, will produce savings across government departments of $1.5 billion.
  • The federal and High Courts, and cultural institutions such as the Australian War Memorial have been been protected from cuts.
  • There will be a crackdown on living away from home tax concessions, an increase in the eligibility age for the dependent spouse offset.
  • Gross Domestic Product is now forecast to grow by 3.25%, down from 4.25%.
  • Unemployment is expected to be 5.5% in 2011-12 and 2012-13, slightly up on budget forecasts.

[Read more…]


Abbott Says No To Superannuation Levy Increase But Won’t Repeal In Government

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the coalition will not support increases to the superannuation levy but nor will it repeal them in government.

Tony Abbott addresses the Financial Services Council

The Gillard government is proposing to increase the compulsory superannuation levy from 9% to 12% over eight years.

Speaking to the Financial Services Council today, Abbott said his party’s instinct “is to provide incentives, not to coerce people. Nevertheless, once these things are there we don’t add to them but we don’t roll them back and that is the approach that we will take to the current legislation. We aren’t going to support it in the Parliament but if it goes through we will not try to rescind it. We do accept that it is very important that people have adequate retirement incomes, particularly with an ageing population.”

  • Listen to Tony Abbott’s speech:

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  • Listen to Tony Abbott’s media doorstop:

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Transcript of Tony Abbott’s speech to the Financial Services Council.

Well, Craig, thank you so much. John, thank you very much for the invitation to be here. It is good to be amongst so many people who are so important to the retirement savings of our nation. It’s great to have the Shadow Minister for Seniors, Bronwyn Bishop here. It’s also good to have my colleague from Bradfield, Paul Fletcher here.

I really do want to say at the outset just how important you are to all of us. As John pointed out earlier this morning, you have $1.8 trillion of our money in your hands and that’s a heavy responsibility. We want our nest egg to grow and it will grow because of the intelligent decisions that you make. So, you are very important to our people, very important to our country and it gives me great confidence to be here today and to see how obviously enthusiastic you are about the work you do and how extraordinarily conscientious you are about the work you do. [Read more…]


Obama Gives It A Burl At Parliamentary Reception

President Obama has been welcomed to Australia, ahead of his address both houses of the parliament tomorrow morning.

At a reception in the Great Hall, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott spoke warmly of the US-Australian relationship. Obama responded with a humorous speech about language differences between the two countries. Giving it a burl, he said the relationship is in top nick.

Barack Obama speaks at a parliamentary reception in Canberra

  • Listen to Julia Gillard’s speech:

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  • Listen to Tony Abbott’s speech:

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  • Listen to Barack Obama’s speech:

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[Read more…]


Obama And Gillard Hold Joint Press Conference In Canberra

President Obama and Prime Minister Gillard have held a joint press conference in Canberra at which they announced new US troop deployments to the Northern Territory.

Obama and Gillard at Canberra press conference

Obama welcomed “a rising, peaceful China” and said China’s rise came with responsibilities such as helping to underwrite rules for economic growth. He said that China and India need to do their share of fighting climate change.

Obama said the notion that the US fears China or wants to exclude it is “mistaken”, but he emphasised a “consistent theme” that China needs to rethink its approaches to trade.

  • Listen to the Obama-Gillard press conference.

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Obama Calls On Congress To Pass Jobs Bill

President Barack Obama has delivered a speech on the economy and jobs to a joint session of the US Congress.

“Pass this jobs bill,” Obama implored the Congress, as he outlined a $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending.

  • Listen to Obama’s speech.

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The following is a transcript of President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress about jobs and the economy, as provided by the White House.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and fellow Americans:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that’s made things worse.

This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President? What will it mean for Congress? How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics. They have real-life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by — giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share — where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while. If you did the right thing, you could make it. Anybody could make it in America. [Read more…]