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Politics Live: Audit Commission aftermath

With that, it is just about time we rode off into the sunset. To think about the meaning of Federation and whether we would be better connected if we went for a run around parliament at 5.30am.

But before that, what did we learn?


Many thanks from Alex Ellinghausen, Andrew Meares and I.

Enjoy the weekend. But not too much.

Remember: prosperity is not a gift. It has to be earned.





As we bask in the post COAG glow, Andrew Meares has a puzzle for you.

And it is harder than you think.


It being Friday, it is also time for a briefing on Operation Sovereign Borders.

(Remember the days of those weekly press conferences? Seems like years ago now, given all the stoof that's happened this year.)

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has issued a statement to say that there have been "FOUR FULL CALENDAR MONTHS WITHOUT A SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE SMUGGLING VENTURE".

The press release also reminds us that four months is also equal to a third of the year.

Commander of OSB Angus Campbell was seen getting a coffee at Aussie's at Parliament House earlier today.

Perhaps toasting the boat-preventing success of his efforts.


What's the collective noun for premiers?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with state premiers and chief ministers at the COAG press conference. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott with state premiers and chief ministers at the COAG press conference. Photo: Andrew Meares 

After that 40 minute effort (quite brief for a COAG presser), Tony Abbott wraps things up.

The PM's office say a date has not been set yet for the next COAG meeting.

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Back to the GST.

Tasmania and South Australia are not as keen as the likes of WA about a change in the way the tax is distributed.

SA Premier Jay Weatherill is asked for his views and replies by taking a big 'ol swipe at Colin Barnett (who is sitting but two seats away).

"They have struck it rich and they have decided they want to essentially cut themselves adrift from the rest of the Federation, which I think is intellectually bankrupt and also morally bankrupt, says Weatherill.

(With this, the PM gives Barnett a pat on the arm.)

The Prime Minister when asked for his reaction to Gallacher says he "can't comment on matters that I have been absent from". 

TA explains that he has been in a COAG meeting and isn't familiar with what may or may not have happened today in Sydney.


Mike Baird is asked a question about Mike Gallacher.

But the PM rules it out of order.

(It is not about COAG).

Baird says he will address the media later this afternoon on his stood-aside cops minister.


One of the (many) headline recommendations out of the Aud Com report yesterday was that the feds should hand over responsibility for schools and hospitals to the states.

The PM is asked if he has a view on this.

Tony Abbott says that it's a "proper" subject for discussion, but adopts a wait and see approach for now (given the white papering going on).

"Let's see where this discussion goes because we're at the beginning of a process."

He is also asked about the recommendation that states could levy income tax.

"The last thing I want to see is any idea of double taxation," the PM replies.

"People are perfectly entitled to put things on the table ... but in the end ... if there is to be any substantial change, obviously it has to be something which is supported by the Commonwealth government. And obviously it would go to an election."

While you're getting excited about GST changes, Tony Abbott leaps in to say:

"I want to stress that the position the Commonwealth government took to the election [is], we have no plans for change in this area..."

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"Walk in my shoes, Denis."

So says Colin Barnett to the Victorian Premier, after Napthine complained about GST distribution (and Victoria not getting enough.)

There has been some speculation that COAG today would be asked to delay or change the approach to the NDIS.

(This also follows a recommendation from the Audit Commission that the timelines be slowed down for the roll out.)

The ACT's Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has just scuttled this.

"I was really pleased that COAG agreed to proceed as agreed previously with the NDIS," she says.

"We are proceeding with the timetables as agreed."

On his way in to COAG this morning, Mike Baird, had also hosed down a slow down.

"We have no intention to renegotiate [the timelines," he said.

The timelines for the NDIS, which is supposed to be fully rolled out by 2019, are agreed in bilateral agreements between states, territories and the federal government.

The NDIS board (with the help of KPMG) is also reporting to the federal government on timelines/capacity around the rollout for the scheme. This is due sometime in the first half of the year.

Yesterday's Commission of Audit report made many recommendations about streamlining the relationship between states and territories (as well as the suggesting that states be able to tax incomes ...)

In his introductory comments today, the PM notes that a Federation White Paper is coming.

(It was an election commitment for the government to have a paper on reform of the relationship between the Commonwealth and the states within two years.)

The White Paper will have buy in from states, territories and local government, Tony Abbott says.

"It will be a constructive and collegial operation."

In other words:


Prime Minister Tony Abbott with state premiers and chief ministers at the COAG press conference. Photo: Andrew Meares
Prime Minister Tony Abbott with state premiers and chief ministers at the COAG press conference. Photo: Andrew Meares 

With that announcement (or confirmation of announcement - given the 70 thing has been much reported this morning), we leave the Treasurer in Melbourne.

And hop to the Main Committee Room at Parliament House for the post-COAG press fest.

Tony Abbott is addressing reporters.

Telling us for the 795,683th time that he wants to be the Infrastructure Prime Minister.

(Oh, TA, we know!)

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, NSW Premier Mike Baird, Queensland Premier Campbell ...
ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman, NSW Premier Mike Baird, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, WA Premier Colin Barnett, Victorian Premier Denis Napthine, SA Premier Jay Weatherill and NT Chief Minister Adam Giles address the media during a joint press conference on Friday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen 

Joe Hockey says that the government is "not in the business of shocking people".

Those who are 65 now will not lose their pensions.

But he confirms that the Coalition will introduce legislation to lift the pension age to 70 by 2035.

And he expects there to be bipartisan support when this happens.


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The Treasurer moves on to discuss the "demographic challenges" before Australia.

(i.e. the increasing number of oldies)

"We should celebrate that we're all living longer," he begins. "That's a good thing, I encourage it."


"One area that needs to be properly addressed it, the eligibility for the age pension."

The budget meetings - where ministers come to a cabinet committee to plead for spending in their portfolios - must have been tough going.

Joe Hockey says he has told his colleagues not to come to him with spending proposals unless they have a bigger savings proposal.

"Any new proposals to spend money must [be] more than funded through offsetting savings."


The Treasurer continues to deliver to good news here.

"The biggest surprise of coming into government is [the budget's] it's as bad as I thought it would be."


Hockey refers to the speech he gave in London two years ago, calling for an end to the "Age of Entitlement".

"This budget will seek to replace the culture of entitlement with a culture of enterprise," he tells the lunching audience.

And in news that will surely come as a cozy comfort those on low incomes:

"There's no such thing as a free visit to a doctor, there's no such thing as free welfare ... every Australian is in one form or another, a taxpayer."

The Treasurer quotes his father.

"Prosperity is not a gift, it has to be earned."

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