Fairfax gets academia to out-Murdoch Murdoch

Readers of Independent Australia have been full of praise for their recent article by Alan Austin titled “Fairfax’s anti-Government bias is as clear as (David) Day“.  I have been doubly honoured that Alan has contacted me with the offer of also posting his re-badge of this article on Café Whispers and that he looks forward to engaging with our readers.

Alan (pictured) is an Australian freelance journalist currently living in Nîmes in the South of France, but who returns to Australia regularly. His interests are religious affairs, the economics of development and integrity in government and the media. He has been published in many print outlets and worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Television’s religious broadcasts unit. He has also worked as a journalist with the aid agency World Vision and the Uniting Church.

Here is his post; Fairfax gets academia to out-Murdoch Murdoch:

The Fairfax media group has ramped up its campaign against the Gillard Government. It appears now to have abandoned any pretence of reporting fairly on its successes and failures.

It has also copied the Murdoch ploy of enlisting academics to its tawdry anti-Labor campaign.

Monday’s National Times featured a bizarre opinion piece by honorary associate at La Trobe University David Day.

The article was headlined triumphantly ‘Final nail in PM’s coffin’ and sub-headed just to make sure we understand ‘Julia Gillard’s lack of leadership has spurred on her inevitable demise’.

So what is the basis for the academic’s claim that a ‘demise’ is now ‘inevitable’?

Well, there are the polls, of course. The endless feedback loop of bad reporting leading to poor polling leading to more negative reporting leading to poor polling … and so on.

But does Day offer evidence of actual bad government? Well, there’s this:

“  . . . her [Gillard’s] propensity for political stumbles have seen her repeatedly fall flat on her face. The September election date and the resignation of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans were just the latest of them.”

Really? The careers of two ministers came to an end with plenty of advance warning to the PM, allowing her to determine the timing of their completion. Since when does this constitute evidence of a PM’s “propensity for political stumbles”?

John Howard asked for the resignations of retiring ministers David Kemp and Daryl Williams in 2004 in near identical circumstances. Was that evidence of the PM falling flat on his face? Or was it hailed as an opportunity for renewal, fresh perspectives and youthful energy?

Is Day aware the rate of ministerial sackings and resignations under Rudd/Gillard has been the lowest of any government in any Westminster nation since the 1820s?

Is there any evidence that the ministers left for anything other than admirable reasons? In Roxon’s case, including wishing to parent a 7-year old daughter.

When asked these questions by email, Day responded thus:

“I was referring to the timing of the resignations. I agree with all you say [re ministerial resignations] but the timing gave the appearance of chaos. It was a poor political calculation and nothing was done to hose down the hooha in the press.”

This is further nonsense. It was never poor political calculation when John Howard did precisely the same. And just how can a government ‘hose down’ media hooha? Arrest the lying journalists? Ban the mendacious mastheads?

What else could have been done by whom? Whose responsibility is it in a liberal democracy to report what governments are doing? Could the media release have been any clearer?

And why is calling the election date evidence of the PM’s “propensity for political stumbles”?

Every election year in living memory has had retailers, businesses, traders, investors, state governments, community organisations and others screaming for certainty and an end to the election date speculation. Now we have it. For whom is that disastrous, and why?

Day then criticises the Government for its failure to win support for its environmental initiatives.

“With the carbon price in place, the government should be earning kudos from the many Australians who care about the environment and are concerned about human-induced climate change.”

Again, whose job is it to report the substantial drop in emissions since last July? Positive reports in the mainstream media – brief, down page and rare – are simply drowned out by the constant prominent misreporting on the matter.

Day continues with a spurious attack on foreign policy unbecoming of a political history scholar:

“The Prime Minister has also disappointed many Australians with a foreign policy that is not discernibly different from that of John Howard. She kept the troops in Afghanistan and has thrown Australia open to American bases.”

Yes, some aspects of the previous foreign policy regime were continued. Specifically concerning the US alliance. But actually very few.

Labor’s foreign policy has been worlds away from the previous administration’s in signing strategic international treaties and accords. And in restoring relationships in the Asia pacific region. In these vital areas, just no comparison.

The serious damage done to relations with Australia’s neighbours during the Howard years have virtually all been reversed. Australian embassies are no longer targets for bombing; ambassadors are no longer expelled by friendly neighbours; Australians in nightclubs abroad are no longer being killed; false allegations are no longer levelled against neighbouring allies; official visits between friendly countries are no longer threatened; millions of dollars of aid money is no longer illegally paid to Australia’s enemies in trade bribes; and Australia’s defence chiefs and diplomats no longer condemn the government for its gross ineptitude endangering Australian lives.

Most disturbing is Day’s reference to Australia’s jobless. The article claims that “Julia Gillard has not shown sufficient commitment to protect Australian workers. She seems content to have unemployment at about 5 per cent, to have about 15 per cent of school-leavers without a job . . . ”

Really? Where and when has employment been any better? Here in France the jobless rate is above 10%. In the UK and the US it is above 7.7%. In the Euro area it is 11.7%, more than double Australia’s rate.

In fact, as academics should well know, taking participation rate and unemployment rate together Australia has had a higher proportion of people in work during the Rudd/Gillard years than in any period in Australia’s history. This despite the devastating global financial crisis.

So why imply the opposite? That may be a dopey question to put to Australian journalists. But not to academics.

Finally, to dispel any doubt that Fairfax is driving the Coalition’s election campaign, here’s the opinion poll at the bottom of the article:

Poll: Do you think a leadership change will help Labor’s chances of re-election?

(a) Yes, something has to change
(b) No, it’s the Labor brand that’s on the nose
(c) Not sure

Now, could there conceivably be any other answer to that question than those three?

First Murdoch. Then Fairfax. And now the universities? Such, it seems, is Australia’s doom.

The little book of big Liberal lies

Last November the Liberal Party released a publication called The little book of big Labor waste, which you can gain access to here. Their introduction was a bit sloppy:

The Coalition has today released a book listing the top 50 examples of Labor waste and mismanagement since the overnight coup that installed Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

The little book of big Labor waste shows that waste and mismanagement was not just a feature of the Rudd Labor Government; it is also a hallmark of the Gillard Labor Government.

I am grateful to Jason W for exposing how sloppy it really was and allowing me to publish his responses to the claims made. It’s a bit of a read, but hard to put down. I’ve also added a few comments, which are highlighted in blue. Let’s start:

Claim: “The Rudd-Gillard Government has been the most financially reckless government in Australian history”.

Response: Really? Then why is it, that an IMF paper is reporting that Howard was far more profligate in his spending, and had made more decisions worth over a billion dollars than the Labor government, in his budget?

“In 2007, Labor inherited a government with net worth totaling $70 billion. All that has now been squandered – all gone”.

Howard achieved a surplus by reckless selling of public assets and with huge cuts. Labor had to face the Global Financial Crisis and had to stimulate the economy with spending that created the deficit.

Thanks to Labor, Australia now ha a government $147.3 billion of net debt – the biggest debt in Australian history! We are now paying almost $20 million a day in interest to service that debt.

What? The biggest debt, as a percentage of the GDP, was in the Hawke-Keating debt. Half of which was inherited from Malcolm Fraser!

In fact, under the leadership of Julia Gillard, the list of waste and mismanagement is increasing at an alarming rate. From the multiple billion dollar blow outs in the immigration portfolio to gold plated coffee machines for bureaucrats, the litany of waste is staggering.

Gold plated coffee machines? This already reeks of sensationalism.

What Labor does best is rack-up debt through waste and mismanagement – it’s in their DNA. The only way to stop Labor’s waste and pay back the debt is to change the government.

The debt is a manageable percentage of the GDP, and can be paid back within 4 years without austerity measures.

Labor’s failed border protection policies and Julia Gillard’s stubborn refusal to re-introduce the full suite of proven Howard Government policies that stopped the boats has resulted in an immigration budget blow out of $6.6 billion in the last four years. This does not include the full cost of reopening detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island and increasing the refugee intake to 20,000 people per year.

Border Protection? The boats still came during Howard’s time, they didn’t stop completely. As Malcolm Fraser noted, the only way to stop the boats is to let them in via humanitarian camps, which are cheaper to run than border patrol and detention centres.

NBN Co’s revised corporate plan reveals that Labor’s broadband policy is way behind schedule and way over budget. There has been a $4.6 billion blowout in the operating and capital expenses, and indirect operating expense – primarily staff costs – have more than doubled from $3.7 billion to $7.8 billion. In all, the total cost of the NBN has increased $3.2 billion, from $40.9 billion to $44.1 billion.

What about the coalition’s copper cable plans, which includes power exhaustive nodes, and will fail during times of flood. This investment is definitely worth the sacrifice, as it will develop infrastructure and create jobs. “Shit Happens” – Tony Abbott.

Labor is spending $69.5 million advertising the carbon tax, a tax Julia Gillard emphatically ruled out introducing before the last election.

First of all, it’s the CARBON PRICE, not a tax. Gillard did promise a carbon price. Second of all, it’s natural for a government to inform its populace of changes. This is to avoid misinformation and lies from being circulated.

Labor’s panicked reaction to an ABC Four Corners story threw the cattle industry into chaos, resulting an a $100 million assistance package. If Labor had stuck by its original decision to restrict live trade, instead of reacting to the a Get-up! Campaign, the need for an assistance package could have been avoided.

So we should just let animal cruelty reign? Of course, the subsidy is STATISTICALLY INSIGNIFICANT compared to government revenue, which stands at a total of 267 billion dollars.

Labor’s bungling of the Australia Network tender cost taxpayers at least $2 million as the Government was forced to compensate Sky News. An Auditor General report into the tender found the process “brought into question the Government’s ability to deliver such a sensitive process fairly and effectively”.

Then isn’t the flaw technically due to the process of competition, and corporate laws? Again, statistically insignificant.

The current CEO said the $100 million a year in funding was too much for the body to manage efficiently. “It is actually impossible to spend that amount of money responsibly”, he said (in relation to the Carbon capture and storage facility).

Then why had $122 million dollars already been spent at the time, with the government defending their decisions to cut funding?

Taxpayers forked out more than $30 million in market research since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister in June 2010. This is double what Kevin Rudd spent in his two and a half years as Prime Minister.

Please explain John Howard’s actions, when he paid a billion dollars to US corporations to fund their spending.

Taxpayers are spending about $150 million a year on an army of spin doctors to sell Labor policies. There is now about 1600 staff employed by federal departments and agencies in media, communications, marketing and public affairs roles. Yet again, Labor’s focus on spin over substance is coming at a huge cost to the taxpayer.

Spin over substance? Coming from the LNP, I find this comment highly hypocritical. It seems like all they do is put out misinformation and spin. Besides, without people putting out facts, anyone’s reputation can be trashed. Just look at what happened to Gough Whitlam, and MSM.

$1.3 million was spent on payouts to terminated staff immediately following Kevin Rudd’s political assassination, and a further $5.5 million following the subsequent election. Australians didn’t just wake up to a new Prime Minister on 24 June 2010; they also awoke to a massive payout bill.

There would’ve been a mass desertion, if Kevin Rudd was not voted out. That might entail a bit more payouts. $6.8 million is not a “massive bill”, compared to the total tax revenue. Much more was being lost due to the number of Public Servants who couldn’t work under Kevin Rudd. The staff were dropping like flies.

Labor’s Clean Energy Regulator, better known as the ‘Carbon Cop’, has spent $4.4 million sprucing up its new offices. This comes after it was revealed the Department of Climate Change office rent jumped $1.3 million a year to $25.2 million under a newly signed five-year lease.

Give the poor public servants a break. They’ve been instrumental in reducing emissions by 8.6%. Oh, and Howard spent $18.4 million, over all those years, to maintain Kirribilli house.

Kevin Rudd spent $1.2 million on overseas travel in his first month as Foreign Minister, after being dumped as Prime Minister. It was obvious Julia Gillard preferred Kevin Rudd out of the country, but it came as a huge cost to taxpayers.

John Howard spent $7 million traveling between The Lodge and Kirribilli house. At least Rudd achieved diplomatic progress in his travels. What has Howard achieved by traveling at such a frequency?

Labor donated $10 million of taxpayer’s money to trade unions to train upcoming union leaders in its 2011-12 budget. This followed Kevin Rudd’s union donation in the 2010-11 budget. Unions have now been fully compensated for their $20 million donation to Labor at the 2007 election.

If you don’t pay it back, it’s called stealing. I thought the LNP empathised.

Labor will spend $20 million on a propaganda campain about the National Broadband Network in a desperate attempt to paint over the waste and mismanagement of the $44 billion off-budget project.

Waste and mismanagement? The LNP’s plans involving copper wires is not suited to the present day, far too expensive compared to fibre optics, and very exhaustive to maintain. Where’s the costings for the LNP’s repeated attempts to berate the LNP in ads, smear campaigns, etc?

Labor is wasting $67 million on administration costs to run a program to install set top boxes in people’s homes for an average of $350 each, even though Harvey Norman offers customers the same deal for $168.

The scheme is actually for pensioners, who are needy people. They most likely do not have the ability to install the top boxes, and some cannot even afford to pay for one, with what savings they have.

Labor has repaid the groups who have been the loudest supporters of the carbon tax by donating $3 million in grants to those who formed the backbone of the “Say Yes” climate change campaign, such as the Climate Institute, the Australian Conservation Foundation and Climate Works Australia.

At least they’re trying to help the environment and not dismissing climate change as “absolute crap”. What does the LNP have? A “direct-action” scheme already dismissed as a fraud by Al Gore?

$1 million was wasted holding a tax forum demanded by Independent Rob Oakeshott, another talkfest that delivered no results.

Oh really, then why is Oakeshott describing it as a success? Results includes the tax-free threshold being raised to $21,000 dollars, and an institute being set up for research into taxation. That is not “no results”.

Despite being unable to deliver a system that doctors can actually use, the National E-Heath Transition Authority still managed to spend $4.3 million on travel in 2011-12 and more than $1 million on events, conferences and dinners in five-star hotels.

Nonsense. There already was a version put out that doctors COULD use. A simplified version is now made as a beta built, and is being subject to trials.

To go with its new office, the Department of Climate Change is expected to purchase a suite of shiny new appliances for Julia Gillard’s ‘carbon cop’, including 23 bar fridges, 14 dishwashers, 26 microwaves, two ovens, two cooktops, two wall mounted range hoods and a 40-bottle wine cabinet.

Looks like the LNP is splitting hairs, there was already a point about spending on public servants. Aside from that, so what? The public servants are just going to sit there in some dingy, unfurnished sweatshop? When I joined the Public Service Howard was Prime Minister. All departments had those appliances.

Julia Gillard’s carbon tax has had an immediate impact on her electricity bills at The Lodge, with the July 2012 bill increasing 25% from the previous July 2011 bill. As the bill clearly states, there is $660 worth of carbon tax payments (including GST), some 12% of the total bill. But unlike ordinary Australian families, she won’t need to worry about how to pay for it – that will be picked up by the taxpayer.

Firstly, The Lodge is for the taxpayer to foot regardless of who is in power. Secondly, the effect of paying for The Lodge, to the taxpayer, is minimal. Thirdly, would Abbott stop whinging if he himself was in The Lodge? Fourthly, if one removes overseas travel from expenses, then Abbott actually spends FAR more than Gillard in terms of personal spending. (Gillard has to go on diplomatic trips, that’s part of her job). Abbott spends $380,000 more, factoring out travel overseas. Who’s straining the taxpayer more? What’s he doing traveling overseas, anyway, as opposition leader?

Fair Work Australia has spent more than $1.8 million on outside on outside legal and accounting advice for its investigation into the rorting of HSU funds, including $1.3 million on external legal advice, $100,000 on external accounting advice, $430,000 on KPMG’s review of the investigation.

Keep in mind, it is the LNP and Mainstream media who are pressing the charge and vilifying Thomson, so they are technically responsible for the costs.

The $1.8 million does not include the cost to taxpayers of launching FWA’s court action against Labor MP, Craig Thomson. The court action followed FWA’s findings that Mr Thomson had used FWA funds to pay for escort services and other improper purposes.

Craig Thomson’s wrongdoings were as a member of a union, not as a member of the Labor Party. All criminal persecutions should be followed through. It would be inappropriate to drop a case simply for the reason of saving money.

Labor spent $1.03 million researching the effectiveness of Julia Gillard’s taxpayer funded carbon tax advertising campaign. This follows revelations that Labor has installed a secret spin team charged with selling the carbon tax at a cost of $1 million a year.

More split hairs. The ‘carbon tax’ team is supposed to provide information to the general population, as any good government should, come time for major changes.

Labor wasted more than $5 million on its failed Malaysian deal, including $360,000 refurbishing motels in Malaysia, almost $50,000 on rent, $4.6 million in operating costs, $272,000 on its legal defence in the High Court and another $200,000 on “accrued costs”.

More split hairs. The deal was scuttled by the High Court as a result of lack of ethics in Malaysia and complaints from human rights lawyers. One cannot blame Labor for trying. Besides, the $5 million is statistically insignificant, even as a part of the immigration budget!

The number of SES level staff in the public service has blown out by 185 in the last three years. With an average SES pay level of approximately $150,000, this blowout is costing taxpayers an extra $30 million dollars a year.

There are 2850 SES level staff in total. The increase is insignificant. Those 185 SES were more than likely at the Director level and on approx $120,000 per year level before promotion, so in effect the increase is only $5.55 million.

The Prime Minister’s department and the Department of Climate Change were the biggest movers, increasing the number of SES staff from 42 to 90, and 18 to 56 respectively.

This should come as little surprise, considering that one of the key goals of the Labor Government was to tackle climate change.

The Auditor General has found that Labor’s literacy and numeracy national partnership program has produced no improvement in student outcomes, despite $540 million in payments over the last four years.

No improvement? -Primary schools achieved higher, especially in numeracy. -School participation in high school has increased. -There was an improvement in Indigenous students’ academia, albeit they are still below the results of non-Indigenous students.

Staff numbers in the Prime Minister’s office has blown out by almost 30% since Labor came to office in 2007, costing an additional $1 million a year. This is despite Labor promising at the 2007 election to slash ministerial staffing levels.

A bit of sensationalism here, the $1 million increase is NOTHING compared to the total amount spend on payroll. Most likely, those staff were already Public Servants who simply transferred over.

The Environment Department has signed a $500,000 contract to deck out its offices with indoor plants. Not to be outdone, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations forked out more than $1 million to decorate offices with pot plants.

More sensationalism. Let’s not forget, Howard arranged for giant pot-plants to be placed around parliament, when the US president came to visit to avoid people from seeing them. I know the DEEWR building well. It would be lucky to have 800 plants in the whole building. According to the LNP’s calculations that $1250 for each plant. Wow.

Federal public servants are purchasing gold-plated coffee machines at a cost of $15,000 each. The Department of Innovation spent $75,000b on buying and installing five high-end coffee machines for its Canberra offices. The Clean Energy Regulator spent $20,000 on eight machines.

John Howard splashed $250,000 on building a gold carriage for the queen. The LNP is equally guilty of splashing cash around. The only difference is, public servants benefit from the former, and might be motivated to work harder. How anyone in the community will benefit from the gold carriage remains to be seen.

Labor has sent Origami style cardboard cut outs of a $1.4 million taxpayer funded truck to all federal MPs to supposedly help them ‘understand’ how the NBN works. The actual truck, a prime mover with a specially fitted out trailer, has been organised to travel the country to promote the NBN.

More split ends hairs from the Carbon Price advertising claims. Some areas are quite secluded. It is important that they also have equal access to information.

Government agencies are spending more than $10.3 million a year checking what is said about them in the media. This bill would pay for more than $100 (I think they meant ‘100’) full-time staff each eearning $100,000 a year.

Substantiate the claim. I could find nothing about media monitoring as a means to save face. On the other hand, media monitoring is used as a means to receive information on community issues. This is so politicians can act on said issues. Media monitoring was going on when I worked under the Howard Government. This is nothing new.

The cost of renting and furnishing houses in the community for asylum seekers is costing on average $9,100 on average for each house, almost 30% more expensive than the original estimate of $7,100 for the average family of five.

Splitting hairs again. Paying for asylum seekers to come in via humanitarian camps, and providing for them, is still cheaper than putting up border patrol, detention centres, running processing centres, etc.

Senate estimates revealed that Senator Conroy spent $525,719 to select 11 ABC and SBS directors. At about $50,000 for each position, Senator Conroy appears to have created an incredibly wasteful and expensive process to fill ABC and SBS board vacancies.

Nice copy and paste from The Australian there. (See my comments below this post). The new process is merit motivated, as opposed to being picked by the Government of the day. If picked by the Government, the system would be prone to nepotism. The new system is instrumental to avoiding bias in broadcasting (Murdoch Media is enough).

Goverment bureaucrats sold two billiard tables for $6000 and then promptly stumped up $100,000 to investigate whether the sale was value for money.

Pure sensationalism. Where’s the evidence? Good question.

Labor has paid more than a half a million dollars for a questionable accounting scheme for Kenya. The $550,000 tender has been awarded to the Clinton Foundation for designing a national carbon accounting system. The Foundation’s expertise is not in carbon accounting but in HIV/AIDS which provides practical assistance for developing countries.

A mathematician, not a climate scientist, discovered the greenhouse effect. What’s your point? Beside which, aid to combat HIV/AIDS is still for a noble and worthy cause. It certainly isn’t worse than employing a catering company do to your budget costings.

While most people run blogs at no cost; Julia Gillard has spent $53,000 running two that will run for about three months. The blogs feature little more than articles about Australia-Asia relations and just one reader has bothered to make a comment.

Before making such comments, and referring to tabloid journalism, please release the costings for Tony Abbott’s blog.

One of the two blogs doesn’t even allow readers to comment – a staple of online blogs. Taxpayers are forking out for a fulltime editor and a part time assistant to run one of the blogs.

Yes, and on blogs that can comment, the amount of harassment and hatred from LNP supporters is astonishing. Abbott’s blog will block you, if you so much as make a dissenting comment.

Labor has handed out a $72,000 grant to the Auburn Community Development Network to host an ‘enviro tea salon’. Thanks to the funding, participants can now take part in “a weaving workshop” using “native Lemandra grass”. Participants will be ” . . . encouraged to share their energy efficiency tips in exchange for free seeding, re-potted into a recycled cup sourced from local businesses”.

Handing out money to help spread environmentalism isn’t such a bad idea. Besides, I thought that the LNP supported businesses. So why are they complaining about local businesses being benefited by the move? They should have given the money to John Howard’s brother.

Projects included $197,302 for “Sending and responding to messages about climate change: the role of emotion and morality”; $314,000 for a study to determine if birds are shrinking; and $145,000 for a study of sleeping snails to determine “factors that aid life extension”.

1. The money given to the research council, is for the research council to allocate.

2. Research about climate change, and its effect on humans isn’t a waste, it’s good preparation for the future.

3. Birds shrinking? Forgot a word there. It’s actually “Bird populations shrinking”. I was hoping the birds would shrink.

4. Aiding life extension sounds like a means to improve on medical science.

What waste occurred?

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are going to promote the carbon tax to toddlers as part of Labor’s multi-million dollar carbon tax campaign. The Department of Climate Change has provided grants for:

1. $150,000 to Dirtgirlworld Productions Pty Ltd – producer of children’s television program popular with toddlers.

2. $200,000 to Green Cross Australia to run carbon tax ‘Show and Tell’ programs in primary schools.

What? If you actually check, they are merely schemes to promote environmentalism. It is absurd to think that they can peddle it into a children’s show. The most they can do is promote environmentalism, and that’s about it. Show me some video proof, or is this just more sensationalism?

Labor has handed the Australian Council of Trade Unions $93,000 to teach union officials how to sell the carbon tax to their members.

Bullshit. Even in your excerpt, the aim was stated to be “to provide information about climate change and energy reduction policies”. The carbon price is part of the set, but that doesn’t mean it comprises the whole of it!

Labor has spent $110,000 in six months on media monitoring for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, while at the same time cutting vital funds from frontline border protection services.

WHAT CUTS?! Oh, rescinding Howard’s inhumane plans? As mentioned above, media monitoring is a means to keep up to date on potential issues.

$600 million of Australia’s foreign Aid program is being spent on developing climate change “leader’ in the Pacific, making DVDs and writing policy briefs for overseas bureaucrats on climate change.

Spreading a message about the environment is a noble cause, considering the effects of global warming and climate change. To me this sounds very subjective in the way the LNP has presented this. They are clearly hoping that th reader interprets it as though the whole $600 million is going into making DVDs and writing policy briefs.

Public servants from the Department of Climate Change spent $3.1 million on overseas travel in 2010. This equates to about $250,000 a month. 86 staff travelled first or business class during 2010, taking more than 250 individual trips to cities such as Paris, London, New York, and Madrid. Reasons for travel included “energy efficient discussions”.

Discussing environmental issues is, as repeated above ad nauseum, a noble cause, considering the world we live in. When I worked for the Howard Government, senior public servants always flew first or business class. It was part of their salary agreement and used as a lure to get satff onto Australian Workplace Agreements.

The endless rotation of Speakers during this Parliamentary term will leave taxpayers with a bill of almost $100,000 in portrait costs. Former Speaker Peter Slipper is set to be immortalised on the walls in Parliament House with a portrait costing taxpayers $30,000.

Peter Slipper is a member of the LNP. That was, before Gillard instated him as speaker. Really, who cares about this? Perhaps when and if the LNP win office they can have the portraits done away with. Replace them with photos.

This follows the recently completed $30,000 portrait of Harry Jenkins, who Labor removed as Speaker in favour of Mr Slipper. After Mr Slipper’s resignation, a third Speaker was installed, guaranteeing the need for at least one more $30,000 portrait.

It’s no wonder he resigned, the LNP stabbed him in the back (note the terminology) and vilified him over sexual harassment for 8 months, before the supreme court threw their case out, for it was a scam. The LNP is to blame here, for ruining Slipper and forcing his resignation. If the Opposition didn’t drive Jenkins mad then this cost could have been avoided. And they are being a bit too speculative in claiming Labor had Jenkins removed. I thought he resigned.

Taxpayers will be forced to foot a $200,000 bill for the Department of Climate Change to contemplate how it brands itself.

What? Go substantiate your claims, with a reliable source. Again, more sensationalism.

Labor blew $60,000 on designing a “Nationa Carbon Offset Standard” logo – a logo experts say has no ‘wow’ factor.

Oh look, the LNP is getting desperate, and using more sensationalism. Labor was able to reduce emissions by 8.6%, with the carbon price. What will the LNP achieve, with their “market mechanism” scam? What logo experts?

Labor Ministers have breached their own rules on pork-barrelling after approving grants in their own electorates at least 33 times without properly telling the Finance department. And on 11 occasions, grants were approved by Ministers that government agencies recommended should be rejected! As Education Minister, Julia Gillrad approved grants to three schools in defiance of recommendations y her own department.

Don’t know what you mean by “properly telling”. It’s like saying that 90% of asylum seekers show up without papers, when papers specifically refers to passport. Here’s some good examples of pork-barrelling, Liberal style.

The Department of Parliamentary Services has spent about $2.4 million on “staff related and training” purposes – up $470,000 on the previous year. The Department’s annual report reveals the classes include advice on “getting a good night’s sleep”.

Sensationalism again. I thought staff training was important. The advice forms a PART of the whole training program. All the LNP seems to do is take a minor part of a scheme, and blow it up to vilify the scheme. Departments are required to spend an ex percentage on their entire salary budget on staff training. I remember when in the Public Service under Howard, the Government paid for people to have weekly massages because of getting sore bcks from their seating.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet spent $650,000 on training workshops in Julia Gillard’s first 15 months as Prime Minister. The department has spent thousands of dollars hiring performance coaches, some of who boast of improving emotional intelligence and ‘putting the lights on’.

More sensationalism? Give her a break, most jobs have training workshops. Abbott spent far more, as mentioned above, than Gillard on a personal basis. All footed onto the taxpayer. If those coaches can improve emotional intelligence and ‘putting the lights on’ I think they should be contracted by the LNP. Where the Department of PM&C got the job done for $650,000 I think there might be a cost blowout working on the Opposition. I’d guess somewhere close to $100,000,000,000.

Julia Gillard has received a new $66,000 hot water system at The Lodge, equivalent to replacing hot water systems in about 20 ordinary homes. And the new system isn’t even solar!

Yes, and the lodge is a 40 roomed mansion. The hot water system wasn’t ordered by Julia Gillard, it was ordered by the Department of Finance, after safety concerns. At the same time, they had to remove asbestos and improve on other safety issues. The actual water systems cost $32,000. The LNP just added all the costs! The water systems are Australian built, high efficiency systems, as mentioned in that article! I thought the LNP supported local business. Did John Howard break the last one?

Over $20 million has been wasted on administration costs to deliver new homes in Aboriginal communities under the Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program. Yet again, Labor has been shown to be incapable of implementing a program without wasting millions of dollars in the process.

Did they get the job done? Yes, they did. So what’s the problem?

Taxpayers are forking out $2022 for each tonne of carbon dioxide saved under Labor’s Green Precincts Fund. This is compared to the $23 a tonne carbon price under the Labor/Greens carbon tax.

Sources, please?

Labor has splurged $15 on a dozen ‘demonstration’ projects under the program, including a grant to Cate Blanchett’s Sydney Theatre Company to reduce their energy bill by $98,000, but cost the Australian taxpayer $1.2 million.

I thought the LNP already covered, and attacked a few of those schemes. Sources, please, for the claim about the Sydney Theatre Company.

Thanks Jason, great work.

Having looked through the Liberal book I was astounded to see that approx 90% of these claims were lifted from Murdoch media sites (namely The Australian and The Daily Telegraph), or from fluffy Liberal media releases. Simply amazing.


Let’s focus on what’s important

Many of us are not surprised to learn that the Treasurer, Wayne Swan today announced that it was unlikely that Labor will be able to achieve the promised budget surplus in 2012/13.  For the purpose of this post I won’t go into any of the reasons or throw figures at you.

Economists are in unison, agreeing that the Government has done the right thing to drop the surplus commitment. Unsurprisingly, evidence of their support is very hard to find in our media online news sites. If you’re lucky you might catch a brief interview with one of them on TV. One of them might even be given the chance to explain why this is a good outcome.

The reason Australia was able to escape the Global Financial Crisis of a few years back was because it had the guts to spend money and thus create jobs. Again, I won’t go into that as we all know how Australia benefited from this bold, but necessary move.

Well, almost everybody knows we benefited. The exceptions being our Murdoch media and the Federal Opposition. And today we hear that this duo are still the world experts on the Australian economy. Today, their opinions take precedence over our economy. The online news sites are filled with nothing but their ‘valued’ opinions.

From that economic minnow Terry McCrann:

Wayne Swan’s decision to finally come clean and admit the bleeding obvious with the budget is just another cynical and dishonest move from a discredited treasurer in a completely discredited government.

It’s been blindingly obvious for months that there was no way the budget was going to swing miraculously from a massive $44 billion deficit last year to a tiny $1 billion surplus this year.

Indeed, it’s been obvious right back to budget night in May.

But Swan and prime minister Julia Gillard believed they had to keep promising a surplus, after her: “There’ll be no deficit in 2012-13 under a Government I lead”.

Swan quite deliberately brought the mid-year budget update forward, while the figures could still be massaged to still pretend to predict a surplus.

Even though the surplus predicted was pathetically, meaninglessly small.

Now he’s just as dishonestly chosen to tell the truth just before Christmas and the extended summer break.

Did McCrann focus on the economy? No.

BTW, how does one dishonestly tell the truth?

From ‘he who runs away‘:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was a “humiliating, embarrassing, nervous announcement from the Treasurer”.

Mr Abbott said the surplus was not a forecast – “it was a fact”.

“It has now been dumped,” he said.

“You just can’t trust this government to manage the economy. You just can’t trust this government to tell the truth”.

Mr Abbott said the Prime Minister made “two solemn covenants” during the election – the carbon tax and the surplus.

“She said that the day after she made the no carbon tax commitment. This second solemn commitment, this second covenant with the Australian people, dumped.”

“For three years they have been boasting of this surplus. Well, they don’t have that anymore”.

Did Abbott focus on the economy? No.

Even from Mr Eleventy:

Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said it is “not in the Labor party’s DNA to live within their means”.

“Taking out the garbage five minutes before Christmas is the way the Labor party operates,” he said.

“They are treating the Australian people with contempt.”

Did Hockey focus on the economy? No.

And this front page non-story ‘ha ha I told you so’ from an un-named news.com reporter:

Treasurer Wayne Swan:

“We’ll be back in the black by 2012/13, as promised.” (May 2011)

“The government remains absolutely committed to delivering our return to surplus as we planned.” (August 2011)

“We’ve nailed our colours to the mast.” (February 2012)

“Despite the tough global conditions, we remain determined to return the budget to surplus in 2012/13, and we will get there.” (March 2012)

Prime Minister Julia Gillard:

“My commitment to a surplus in 2012/13 was a promise made and it will be honoured.” (April 2011)

“We stand by the predictions, the entries in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. We stand by the figures and we’re on track to deliver a budget surplus.” (November 2012)

Did he or she focus on the economy? No.

Of course they don’t want to focus on the economy. It’s going gangbusters and will continue to do so.

Well done, Mr Swan, on what is another bold move. I don’t care what you said previously. You have the good sense to act upon approaching change, rather than react after the change.

As an aside, I’ve never supported the need for such a quick return to a surplus as I believe it has been the Government’s hasty response to pressure from the media, the public and the Opposition. Unfortunately they are going to be under attack from all sides over this. It’s my hunch that the leading economists in the country – who support the move – will be gagged by the media.

Is it too much to ask that the critics try and focus on what’s important, ie, the economy?

PS: This announcement has really let Abbott off the hook. He’s happy to face the media again.

English: Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia So...

Wayne Swan, Treasurer of Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)