Monday, 16th December 2013

100 DAYS

Today marks 100 days of an Abbott government. The prime minister's office saw fit to issue a report card, and it gave a very positive assessment of its own performance so far.

"You voted to scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats and build the roads of the 21st century," went the old refrain. The government's minor successes were listed, along with a list of incomplete reviews, audits and inquiries. In truth there is little to celebrate, either in terms of its key campaign pledges or – of greater concern – its broader performance.

The Coalition's honeymoon is over, in record speed. It hasn't moved beyond a narrow policy agenda; and its responses to the issues forced upon it have been ineffectual if not outright damaging – GrainCorp, Qantas, Holden, spying in East Timor and Indonesia, China's territorial dispute, the Gonski educations reforms, the NBN, politicians' travel allowances, and others.

Even its faithful supporters, the conservative commentariat, have advised the government to take a rest and come back next year with a different approach. Its problems are not going to be solved by scapegoating the ABC, and they cannot be blamed on either reporters, critics or political opponents.

In the spirit of assessment, here's the report card the government might have received if it wasn't writing its own: hasn't been doing homework to the standard required; needs to have more consideration for others; is prone to distracting neighbours; struggles with feedback; sometimes makes poor decisions; needs to work on communication skills; and needs to take responsibility for own actions. 

Summary: Will need to improve to advance.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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The curious case of the never-ending deficit

"The last economic statement – the Pre-Elections Fiscal and Economic Outlook – released by Treasury during the election campaign, forecast a $30 billion deficit for this financial year, 2013-14, and for debt to reach $370 billion in 2016-17. On Tuesday – and remember, we are but halfway through the financial year – the deficit will be pushed out to around $50 billion and gross debt will be forecast to exceed $500 billion some time beyond 2016-17."

Also: Income tax has to go up (Alan Kohler, Business Spectator)

Economic newsMining construction jobs to plunge by 78,000, study finds (Michael Pascoe, SMH)

Tony Abbott blames Jakarta for rise in asylum boat arrivals

"Tony Abbott has ramped up the pressure on Indonesia to resume cooperation to stop asylum boats, blaming a lack of assistance from Jakarta for an "uptick" in boat arrivals over the past fortnight."

Abbott defends sacking of health advisers for asylum seekers

"Prime Minister Tony Abbott has dismissed criticism of a decision to axe an independent committee that provides advice on the health needs of asylum seekers as "a complete beat-up". The Immigration Health Advisory Group (IHAG) was established in 2006 but all of the group's members except the current chair, Dr Paul Alexander, have now been sacked."

'Sneaky' Coalition move to change marine park rules

"Environment groups have expressed dismay at the federal government for quietly removing management plans from the world's largest marine park network... Mr Hunt said the government would retain all national marine reserves and parks, including their boundaries. But the government would redraft their management plans. In the meantime, the government has eliminated fishing exclusion zones in breeding areas and waters home to threatened species that would have come into effect next July."

AlsoMurray-Darling basin: this gratuitous decision to reject science is disastrous (John Quiggin, Guardian)

Feds plan takeover of universities

"The federal government is planning to end the historical role of state governments in operating universities. Federal Education Minister ­Christopher Pyne is in talks with the NSW government about assuming control over the governance of the state’s 10 universities, which would be the first stage of a national takeover."

Business slams decade of deficit

"The business establishment has demanded that Treasurer Joe Hockey swiftly repair the budget as he prepares to release a mid-year update on Tuesday forecasting more than $120 billion in deficits over the next four years and no surplus for at least a decade. The government will use the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to mount a case for deep spending cuts and savings and will have the backing of leading business figures."

Tony Abbott points the finger at Labor while managing to keep a straight face

"The blame game preceding the mid-year economic statement is reaching nonsense proportions. Tony Abbott is saying, with a straight face, that a budget document brought down 100 days after he won office, and incorporating all the policy decisions he has made, is in fact 'Labor's last budget statement.'"

AlsoBoiling down MYEFO to two simple variables (Stephen Koukoulas, Market Economics)

Asylum seekers living in Australia forced to sign code of conduct

"Asylum seekers already in Australia can have their visas cancelled or their meagre government payments reduced if they breach a new code of conduct prohibiting “antisocial behaviour” or “lying to a government official”, or if they fail to attend an interview."

AlsoBroken toilets, no shoes, limited water: the daily humiliations of life on Manus

Attempt to justify tapping 'stupid', says Indonesian presidential spokesman

"“Phone tapping is illegal. If your phone was being tapped, you would feel uncomfortable, wouldn’t you? Haven’t they ever read about the regulations on freedom, privacy and human rights?” 
Jakarta’s apparent displeasure with the weekend media report came as the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, stepped up his rhetoric a notch, sheeting the blame home to Indonesia for the recent increase in boat arrivals."

The 25 most Onion-like Australian politics headlines of the year

"As the year draws to a close, there might be no better way to reflect on the absurdity of Australian politics than revisiting the most Onion-like Australian politics headlines of 2013."