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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. [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…]


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. [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. [Read more…]


National Accounts Show Annual Economic Growth Of 3.1%

The Australian economy grew 0.5% in the September quarter, bringing the annual growth performance through the year to 3.1%.

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, described the growth rate as “around trend.. which is faster than every single major advanced economy”.

As they did following yesterday’s interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank, Swan and his Liberal shadow, Joe Hockey, disagreed on the meaning of the growth figure. [Read more…]


Swan And Hockey Argue Over Interest Rates

Following the 0.25% reduction in interest rates by the Reserve Bank, Treasurer Wayne Swan and his Liberal shadow Joe Hockey have taken different stances on the cut.

Swan said the economy was running close to trend. He said the interest rate cut was “an early Christmas present that hardworking Aussies deserve”.

Hockey said interest rates were now at emergency levels and the government and Reserve Bank were at odds with each other over economic policy. [Read more…]


Government And Opposition Reflect On Five Years Of Rudd/Gillard

Asylum seeker policy and a two decades old scandal at the Australian Workers’ Union dominate political debate on the fifth anniversary of the election of the Rudd government.

At a media conference today, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Wayne Swan, talked up the government’s achievements. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and his immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, concentrated on asylum seekers and described the government as incompetent and untrustworthy. [Read more…]


Current Federal Parliamentary Party Leaders

Each political party represented in the Federal Parliament elects leaders in each house.

Just as the government is decided in the House of Representatives, so the parties elect their leaders and deputy leaders from amongst their representatives in the House. If the party is not represented in the lower house, its leader will be chosen from amongst its members in the Senate.

House of Representatives
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Julia Gillard
Member for Lalor (Vic)
Wayne Swan
Member for Lilley (Qld)
Liberal Party Tony Abbott
Member for Warringah (NSW)
Julie Bishop
Member for Curtin (WA)
National Party Warren Truss
Member for Wide Bay (Qld)
Senator Nigel Scullion
Northern Territory
Australian Greens Adam Bandt
Member for Melbourne (Vic)



The major parties also elect leaders and deputy leaders in the Senate. These people form part of the leadership group and act as the focal point for their parties in the upper house.

For example, the current ALP leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, is referred to as the Government Leader in the Senate. Senator Eric Abetz is referred to as the Opposition Leader in the Senate.

Senate
Party Leader Deputy Leader
Australian Labor Party Senator Chris Evans
(Western Australia)
Senator Stephen Conroy
(Victoria)
Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz
(Tasmania)
Senator George Brandis
(Queensland)
National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce
(Queensland)
Senator Fiona Nash
(New South Wales)
Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne
(Tasmania)



Footnote: Convention dictates that the official leader of the main parties will be a member of the House of Representatives. In 1968, following the death of its Prime Minister, Harold Holt, the Liberal Party chose its upper house leader, Senator John Gorton, as the new prime minister. Gorton immediately resigned his Senate seat and contested the by-election for Holt’s lower house electorate, Higgins. Thus, Australia had a prime minister for several weeks who was not a member of either house. This is allowed for in Section 64 of the Constitution.