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Cyclone Yasi, Soldier’s Death, Egypt: Today’s Briefings

Some of today’s political announcements and briefings. [Read more…]

Abbott Seeks Donations To Fight Flood Levy

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is under fire tonight for an email sent to the Liberal Party’s email subscribers.

The email sets out Abbott’s arguments against the flood levy. It attacks the Prime Minister as “out of her depth”, and describes the levy as “the Gillard Government’s latest raid on people’s wallets. It calls for the deferral of the National Broadband Network and urges budget savings as a substitute for the flood levy.

The email concludes with: “PS. Click to donate to help our campaign against Labor’s flood tax.” Clicking the link takes the reader to the online donations page of the Liberal Party’s website.

The levy was was announced last week by Julia Gillard. It is designed to contribute $1.8 billion towards flood reconstruction. For every dollar it raised, the government is cutting budget spending by two dollars.

This is the email sent today:

Tony Abbott email 1/2

Tony Abbott email 2/2

Tony Crook Supports Flood Levy

The independent Nationals MP Tony Crook will support the flood levy legislation in the House of Representatives, in a blow to Tony Abbott’s attempts to block the tax.

Crook is the member for O’Connor, the Western Australian electorate he won from the Liberal Party’s Wilson Tuckey at last year’s election. Whilst broadly supportive of the coalition, Crook has voted with the government on a number of pieces of legislation and procedural motions.

This is the text of a statement posted on Tony Crook’s website.

Tony Crook

Support for Commonwealth Flood Response Package, Crook

FEDERAL Member for O’Connor Tony Crook today announced he would support the proposed Commonwealth Flood Response Package, due to be introduced when Parliament resumes next week.

Mr Crook this morning held discussions with Prime Minister Julia Gillard regarding the detail of the funding package.

“After careful consideration of the facts that I have been provided to date in relation to the implementation of the levy, infrastructure deferrals and program cuts, I am satisfied that the Government’s responses (sic) is adequate and responsible,” Mr Crook said.

“My support is conditional upon me reviewing the draft legislation, which is expected to be introduced into the Parliament late next week, and is consistent with the advice currently provided to me.”

Mr Crook sought assurances that residents of the Gascoyne would be able to seek exemptions from the levy if they were affected by the floods, which the Prime Minister provided today.

“Furthermore, the Prime Minister also confirmed to me today that there are no plans for Commonwealth funded WA infrastructure projects to be cut or delayed as a result of the flood package,” he said.

“This directly recognises the importance of these infrastructure projects in supporting WA’s critical role in the National economy.”

Mr Crook also said that any discussions regarding a new and stand alone Natural Disaster Relief Fund should be considered separately.

“Such a natural disaster fund would provide Governments at both State and Federal level with the ability to better prepare for and recover from significant events,” he said.

“However, right now we have a catastrophic event that we need to deal with and we have a responsibility to do this in a timely manner.”

“I appreciate the many Australians that have contacted me to express a view on the flood levy, I am convinced that a response which shares the responsibility between Government and the taxpayer to an event that is shaping up to be our most significant natural disaster in economic terms, is appropriate.”

Mr Crook said he hoped that if the shoe was on the other foot that his fellow Eastern States colleagues would be supporting Western Australia and O’Connor to deal with whatever disaster that may arise.

Gillard and Swan Trade Blows With Abbott Over Flood Levy

Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott have traded blows as the debate over the proposed flood levy continues.

The Treasurer described Abbott’s attitudes and his speech to Young Liberals today as “disgusting”. He said it was disgusting that Abbott would seek to use the floods as a means to rise to power.

The Opposition Leader continued to claim that Australia did not need “yet another new tax” and offered to sit down with the Prime Minister to find another $1.8 billion in budget savings. [Read more…]

Lazy Policy Under Cover of Sympathy For Flood Victims: Abbott

Text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s speech to the Young Liberal convention on the Gold Coast.

Tony AbbottThis summer, we’ve been shocked by the flood disasters that have hit Queensland, Victoria and parts of New South Wales and Western Australia but thrilled by the upwelling of generosity from family, friends, neighbours and tens of thousands of unknown benefactors towards their fellow Australians in trouble.

In dozens of evacuation, recovery or disaster control centres from Grantham and Murphy’s Creek, to Emerald, to Rochester, to Echuca, to Grafton or the Brisbane showgrounds, thousands of people, mostly volunteers, have been striving around the clock to help Australians whose homes or businesses have been in peril. In places such as Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Dalby, Horsham and Dadswell’s Bridge, home of the Big Koala, people devastated by the loss of homes and businesses have been buoyed by the support they’ve had from good Samaritans who turned up when they were needed most. [Read more…]

Flood Levy Debate: Don’t Patronise Me, Neil

The debate over the Gillard government’s flood levy got willing today as the Prime Minister clashed with Neil Mitchell on Melbourne radio station 3AW.

Towards the end of the interview, Gillard and Mitchell clashed over Cabinet support for the levy and oversight of the flood recovery spending. [Read more…]

The Impact of the Floods On Our Patchwork Economy: Swan

This is the text of a speech delivered by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, to the CEO Institute, in Brisbane.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan’s speech. (25m)

The Impact of the Floods on our Patchwork Economy

Wayne SwanThanks very much for having me and for that kind introduction.

I’d like to thank everyone for being here today, at such a challenging time for our state in particular, for other flood-affected communities in Victoria and elsewhere, and for the national economy more broadly. I’m sure all of you have many competing demands on your time, whether you’ve been personally affected by the floods or involved in the huge rescue and cleanup operation, or whether you’re looking after staff, or whether you’re just trying to get your business back on its feet.

Like me, you would have been inspired by the sheer depth of the community spirit we’ve seen in Queensland in recent weeks. Given the scale of the floods, we’re going to need every ounce of that community and corporate spirit, as we turn our attention to the economic costs and the economic recovery. [Read more…]

Newspaper Front Pages on the Flood Levy

This is a selection of newspaper front pages around Australia today, following the Gillard government’s announcement yesterday that it plans to introduce a levy to fund flood recovery.

Gillard and Hockey Put Positions On Flood Levy

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey appeared on Channel 7’s Sunrise program this morning to argue their cases for and against the flood levy.

Flood Levy Details, Fact Sheets and Reaction

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a package of measures including a one-off levy to pay for the flood damage in Queensland and elsewhere. [Read more…]