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Federal Budget 2014: Politics Live, May 13

When I said lifters, not leaners, I wasn't joking.

 

Treasurer Joe Hockey makes a hasty exit from the Press Gallery after an ABC interview, in an attempt to avoid cameras, ...
Treasurer Joe Hockey makes a hasty exit from the Press Gallery after an ABC interview, in an attempt to avoid cameras, after handing down the budget. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

With the fine print of budget 2014-15 still to be read and the large print still being digested, it is time be bid you farewell.

But before we go to dance in a disco playing hits from the mid-90s, what have we learned today?

  • Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey weren't joking when they said the budget would be tough;
  • Nor were they joking when they said they wouldn't do everything the Commission of Audit recommended;
  • The budget has no shortage of detractors (one could even say there is surplus in that respect);
  • But wishful thinking lives on. Hockey is determined to talk about his plan for the economy, not the promises the Coalition made before the election; 
  • After all, the "age of opportunity" is upon us. Surely anything is possible.

 

One more thing: if you would like to read the budget papers for yourself, please go to www.budget.gov.au/2014-15. There is enough bedtime reading there to last you until next year.

Thanks a billion ($49.9 of them) for Pulsating with us today. And to Fergus Hunter and Marija Taflaga for their help.

Andrew Meares, Alex Ellinghausen and I will see you tomorrow as we continue to work out what the Big B means.

Until then!

 

 

What about the public service?

The Canberra Times' public service editor Markus Mannheim writes that the federal bureaucracy is poised for its greatest lost of staff since the early years of the Howard government.

But, he adds that the budget will hit the public service more softly than the Coalition's rhetoric might have suggested.

The spending cuts are also less harsh.

(That being said, thousands of jobs will still go.)

Read on here.

By the way, the CPSU is unsurprisingly not best pleased about today's result.

 

The reax keep coming.

(It is budget night after all.)

With changes to the age pension, family payments, unemployment benefits and the disability pension, the Australian Council of Social Service has also weighed in.

"A few measures are in the right direction, targeting those for whom the age of entitlement should be coming to an end ... Capping Family Tax benefit part B at $100 000, introducing a levy for people earning over $180,000, and taking super payments into account in assessing eligibility for the Senior’s Health Card.  Corporate welfare is also shaved. However, most of these measures will inflict little damage or will only be felt for a short time," says chief executive Cassandra Goldie.

But:

"The real pain of this budget – crushing and permanent - will be felt by people on low incomes, young people, single parents, those with illness or disability, and those struggling to keep a roof over their heads."

We wrote earlier of the changes ahead in health.

Amy Corderoy and Dan Harrison have an in-depth look here.

The health care operations will be big ones.

As Amy and Dan report:

Billions of dollars will be slashed from already-strained public hospital budgets under plans that could lead to huge increases in waiting times for surgery and emergency treatment.

Patients could be charged for treatment in public hospital emergency departments as well as facing new fees to visit their GP, get a blood test or an X-ray under radical changes the government says will put the brakes on unsustainable spending growth.

The historic changes effectively tear up funding agreements with the states and topple two of the pillars of Australia's system of universal healthcare – bulk-billed treatment under Medicare, and free care in public hospitals – and will be bitterly opposed by Labor and health groups.

...

No wonder the Consumers Health Forum has called the today's effort a "retrograde health budget that will shock Australians".

 

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The Sydney Morning Herald's economics editor Ross Gittins has given his assessment of the budget.

Like Michael Gordon, Ross is also awarding marks!

He gives Hockey's first budget exam a "distinction on management of the macro economy, a credit on micro-economic reform and a fail on fairness".

Ross also writes:

"This budget isn't as bad as Labor will claim and the Liberal heartland will privately think. It's undoubtedly the toughest budget since John Howard's post-election budget in 1996, but it's hardly austerity economics."

 

 

And third, there was a hug from his eight-year-old son, Xavier.

Treasurer Joe Hockey is hugged by his 8 year old son Xavier after he delivered his first budget. Photo: Andrew Meares
Treasurer Joe Hockey is hugged by his 8 year old son Xavier after he delivered his first budget. Photo: Andrew Meares 

Second, the Treasurer got a smooch from his wife, Melissa.

 

Treasurer Joe Hockey is embraced by his wife Melissa after he delivered his first budget. Photo: Andrew Meares
Treasurer Joe Hockey is embraced by his wife Melissa after he delivered his first budget. Photo: Andrew Meares 

But Hockey has had some cheery fans tonight.

First, the Coalition frontbench.

(Don't they look pleased as punch that has been spiked with something tasty?!)

Treasurer Joe Hockey is congratulated by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Treasurer Joe Hockey is congratulated by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

There are also thumbs down from the ACTU, who call the budget "harsh".

The ACTU's president Ged Kearney adds: "basically, if you are old, if you are sick, if you are looking for a job, if you lose job, if you are young, this government is saying 'you are on your own'".

Although the Australian Industry Group is more supportive.

Chief executive Innes Willox describes the 2014-15 effort as "overall ... a credible path back to surplus".

But the AIG is no fan of the "budget reduction levy" [debt tax].

Willox calls this "deeply problematic".

"It will make Australia's top tax rate 49 per cent, which is quite frankly, uncompetitive."

 

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The club of parties who don't like the budget is growing.

We can certainly add PUP to the gang.

Leader Clive Palmer - who will give his own budget speech tomorrow, at a time that clashes with Joe Hockey's post-budget lunch - has labelled 2014-15 heartless and cruel.

And he don't reckon the debt crisis is real either.

 

The Greens are no less appreciative.

On Sky News just now, leader Christine Milne called Tony Abbott a "warped individual".

Milne is especially critical of investment in roads instead of clean energy and public transport.

She has also been letting fly on the twits. I count more than 20 missives over the last hour.

 

The reaction to the budget is starting to pour right in.

Political correspondent James Massola writes that Labor has slammed the effort.

It has been labelled one of "broken promises, cruel cuts and unfair increases in the cost of living".

But what does this mean parliament-wise?

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has said Labor would consider individual budget measures over the coming days.

(i.e. we could have some budget barneys on our hands.)

 

Will all this pain be worth it for the government?

The Age's political editor, Michael Gordon, has pondered this very question.

And he has awarded scores along the way!

Joe Hockey gets a 10 for courage, an eight for fiscal responsibility and a three for keeping commitments in a high-risk budget that will test the discipline, cohesion and salesmanship of the entire Abbott government, he writes.

What do you give the Treasurer?

 

 

 

There were also serious rumblings about cuts for our public broadcasters before today.

(Again, despite the fact that Tony Abbott promised no cuts to the ABC and SBS before the election.)

As Jonathan Swan and Matthew Knott report, the government is set to cut $43.5 million over four years from the two.

This is actually less than ABC and SBS management feared.

... What I want to know is, what will this mean for Q&A?

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Over on ABC TV, Joe Hockey is being put through his paces.

But he doesn't want to talk about whether or not the government is breaking promises with their budget bad boy.

"I want to talk about the jobs we're creating."

A list of the winners and losers out of budget 2014-15 can also be found here.

It is easier to identify the losers (the sick, uni students, foreign aid, public servants) but to be fair, there are some winners.

Like medical research. And bizarrely enough, ballerinas.

We're not making that up.

 

 

Fairfax Media journos have spent a busy afternoon in the lock up, eating sandwiches and reading the hefty budget pack.

Chief political correspondent Mark Kenny writes that the unprecedented $80 billion cut to health and education over the next decade leads a super tough budget.

As Mark writes, it lives up to its "dire publicity".

 

Lifters, not leaners.

How long will it take for someone to put that on a bumper sticker?

Treasurer Joe Hockey delivers the Budget speech. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Treasurer Joe Hockey delivers the Budget speech. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

At the end of his address the Treasurer says that the budget “must always be about people”.

“I say to the Australian people, every dollar we spend in this parliament comes from you. If we can get on with the job of fixing this budget, then you and your family will benefit ...

 “We are a nation of lifters, not leaners,” says Joe Hockey, signing off.

“So tonight, we present you with a budget that delivers a sustainable future for your children and generations beyond.”

The government benches give the Treasurer a hearty hear, hear for his first budget speech.

And he gets a handshakes and kisses from the Coalition front bench.

There is a big smile and nod from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott congratulates Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott congratulates Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Andrew Meares 
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