Wednesday, 30th April 2014

'GILLARD MOMENT' HIGHLIGHTS BACKBENCH FEARS

Prime Minister Tony Abbott appears to be facing a backbench revolt over some of his government's big-ticket items.

The proposal for a 'deficit levy' has been described as 'electoral suicide' by at least one senior Liberal MP, who fears that it could be his 'Gillard moment' given his pre-election promise to not raise taxes. The levy hasn't yet been confirmed or denied, but Abbott yesterday implied that a temporary levy would not be a tax. 

Abbott's paid parental leave scheme – his 'captain's call', widely interpreted as an attempt to address his historic unpopularity with women – has always been disliked in Coalition ranks, where it's considered too generous to wealthy parents given the budget circumstances. The Australian reports this morning that Abbott has backed down and tightened the scheme's eligibility requirements.

And there appears to be a groundswell of backbench opposition to the government's proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.  MPs Craig Launcy and Ken Wyatt – parliament's only Indigenous MP – have indicated they may cross the floor if the government persists with the changes.

A recalcitrant back bench compounds the difficulties Abbott is likely to face with the new Senate. He must now find a way to assuage his own party's doubters, or back down without looking like he's caved in.

Russell Marks
Politicoz Editor

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The ex-minister, the tycoons, the super yacht and the corrupt political system

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal political donations were used to bankroll the Liberal Party's 2011 state election campaign after being funnelled through slush funds linked to former minister Chris Hartcher and fund-raiser Paul Nicolaou, a corruption inquiry has heard."

Also: NSW Liberals not ready for ICAC shock (Neil Chenoweth, Australian Financial Review)

And: How Australian Water Holdings morphed from public service venture to five-year extravaganza (Geoff Winestock, Business Review Weekly)

Short-term 'deficit tax' not a broken promise, says Tony Abbott

"Tony Abbott has not ruled out a debt tax on higher income earners in the May budget, arguing that it would not be a broken pre-election promise as it would be a temporary measure."

Tony Abbott: no pension cuts before 2016, but family benefits may change

"The prime minister is reassuring pensioners they won’t suffer any reductions in payments before the election due in 2016, but is warning that tougher eligibility rules for pensions are likely after the poll and that family benefits could be reined in even sooner."

Watch Tony Abbott's Sydney Institute speech last night here.

Premier's office in the loop

"Premier Denis Napthine's private office and department appear to have played an active role in the transfer of Crown land, and identifying public funds, to assist expansion plans by a wealthy businessman who co-owns a racehorse with the Premier."

Clive Palmer threatens to sue Campbell Newman

"Clive Palmer says he will launch defamation proceedings against Campbell Newman ‘as soon as possible’ … following claims from Mr Newman earlier in the day that Mr Palmer had ‘tried to buy [the Queensland LNP] government’ and was ‘on a rampage around Australia trying to buy other people and buy other people's votes’."

Also: Being sued by Palmer? Join the club, Premier (Hedley Thomas, The Australian)

And recall: Clive Palmer admits to rigging opinion polls (The Australian, 28 August 2013, following an interview on ABC Lateline)

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