The Politics    Friday, April 17, 2015

Everyone said some things that shouldn’t have been said

By Sean Kelly

The government has said a lot of things on tax, most of them in the past month. Not all of them match up.

Things that don’t go together #1

Election Eve, 6 September 2013: Tony Abbott says, “No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.”

Budget Night, 13 May 2014: The Abbott government announces cuts to education, cuts to health, changes to pensions, and cuts to the ABC and SBS. The GST is left alone.


Things that don’t go together #2

5 January 2015: The prime minister repeats his pledge on the GST, saying there “will be no changes to the GST in the first term of the Coalition government”.

9 April 2015: Treasurer Joe Hockey pushes for the GST to be extended to books, music, movies and other media downloaded or streamed from overseas providers, as well as online purchases under $1000 from overseas.


Things that don’t go together #3

30 March 2015: The government releases a tax discussion paper. Joe Hockey says it is “the start of a conversation about how we bring a tax system built before the 1950s into the new century”. The paper refers to the current low taxation on superannuation, the impact of negative gearing on the housing market, and the role of capital gains in the housing market.

13 April 2015: The treasurer tells the Australian Financial Review the government is unlikely to change the capital gains tax regime.

15 April 2015: The prime minister says the government has “no plans to increase taxes on superannuation”.

16 April 2015: The prime minister rules out changes to negative gearing.


Things that don’t go together #4 (with apologies to Laura Tingle)

18 March 2015: The prime minister says that the budget will be “pretty dull”.

13 April 2015: The treasurer agrees that revenue has fallen dramatically.

15 April 2015: The prime minister says that “the deficit will decline every year”.

Kevin Rudd is said to be campaigning to be UN secretary-general. The next secretary-general is likely to be from Eastern Europe, if they can find a strong candidate. If not, I tend to agree with Peter Beattie – whatever you might think of Rudd, it would be great to see the first Australian in the job.

The Council of Australian Governments met today. The PM wanted the focus to be on domestic violence. It might have been an opportunity for the nation’s leaders to send a loud and unified message on the importance of an issue that has struggled to get much attention until recently. Instead, WA premier Colin Barnett managed to drag most of the media focus over to his demand that his state get more GST money.

China has gaoled a 71-year-old journalist for seven years for disclosing state secrets. Gao Yu was convicted in a closed hearing. There have been accusations that authorities extracted a forced confession by threatening her son.

Good on you, Stacey Eden. The Sydney commuter stood up to another commuter who was abusing a Muslim passenger about her religion. Eden also recorded the exchange.

A new report has found indigenous children are nine times more likely to be put in out-of-home care than other children.

Here are some of the odd questions Russian president Vladimir Putin was asked (and which he answered) in his annual four-hour TV broadcast, when he takes questions from callers around the country.

I wonder how anti-smoking campaigners feel about this. It seems that teens in the US are turning away from actual cigarettes and taking up the electronic kind – in flavours like Unicorn Puke, Sweet Tart, and Courtroom, “a medley of things you might want while waiting for the jury to convict”.

The US presidential election is only 19 months away! Seriously, though, folks, I don’t want to get bogged down in too much American fun too early. But this week was a big week, so here are a few of the best Hillary pieces from the past few days – why the election is a toss-up, how to think about gender in this campaign, and why we shouldn’t forget the historical importance of a possible female president. 

Sean Kelly

Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, and was an adviser to Labor prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.


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