Thursday, August 16, 2007

15th August 2007- Senate Question Time

Once again Liberals have drawn attention to the “strong economic position” of Australia as a whole in response to every issue raised. The US sub-prime mortgage let down is apparently insignificant because Australia’s sub-prime lending is small in comparison- only 1%. The government seems to be continually taking a majority approach! Yes I understand that that is the basis of democracy but a little responsibility is needed. With 2 financial institutions highly exposed as a result Liberal decided to attack Labour and its industrial relations policies rather than actually address the issue. Taking the stance that Australians should “not listen to what it says but look at what a government does”, I feel Liberal just contradicted itself- I’m pretty sure GST was initially promised to never exist and what about interest rates at record lows- that dream is flying out the window as we speak.

The Howard government draws endless attention to the $6.5 million used to assist a mining company in Tasmania, “run into the ground by Labour policies”. However, the current track record of Liberal really makes me question whether this is a publicity stunt or whether they are in fact creating a benefit. Recent ventures like the funding of Mercy West Hospital without prior costing leads me to question whether such ventures are actually being used to strengthen “our ever so important economy”, as a publicity stunts in Howard’s “desperate attempt to stay in power” or in the actual interests of Australians. Maybe I’m just developing an exceptionally bleak outlook on the world and its leaders!

Monday, August 13, 2007

13th August 2007- Senate Question Time

Kevin Rudd according to Liberal senators has only made reference to families once in an 8 year period. In addition labour shows a considerable lack of funding directed towards family ventures; for example internet protection for children and young people. Yes Labour is meeting the demands of many Australians in regards to industrial relations and environmental issues but there is no doubt that the family unit forms the foundation of our society. If this unit is neglected by its government I wonder to what extent the neglect of needs will destroy Australian cohesion. This is not to say that I believe that Liberal successfully acknowledges the importance of the family because I do not believe that is the case but their recent Net Alert program along with special working groups between the AFP and industry to address internet hazards does show considerably more fore-thought to the issues facing Australians than Rudd’s government. Should Rudd acknowledge the family more frequently and put them at the basis of its policy I feel support would widen…Australians cannot rely on idealistic principles to put food on the table and thus would benefit from a government that can in itself say it is meeting both the economic/realistic needs of its residents along with their idealistic hopes for the country’s future.

On another note: Developments in our defense force prove promising- in the last financial year 9000 people were recruited into the ADF which is an increase of 1125 people. However, this increase correlates with a $779 million recruitment and advertising campaign. In addition the launch of the GAP year for year 12 has the potential to increase participation up to 34,000 people. Yes this is promising…but when families are struggling with inflation and interest rises is it really necessary for our government to spend $779 million on AD campaigns. This along with the extortionate amounts spend on promoting work choices has raised considerable concern regarding the governments tendency to throw Australians’ money around in a desperate attempt to create an image that will keep them in power- well I’m sorry but I’d prefer to see that money directed at ventures that benefit Australians. Now I’m not saying that the defense force isn’t important because I am well aware that it is vital to Australians and their safety- it is the amount being dedicated to it that I found quite astounding and in many ways ridiculously extortionate.

9th August 2007- Senate Question Time

Concern arose when labour claimed that it shared an identical fiscal policy with the liberal party. The credibility of this statement is undermined not only by Labour’s recent response to the Reserve Bank’s position on interest rates but also by their lack of compliance with the Charter of Budget Honesty. If Australia’s financial position is in fact envied by the rest of the financial western world…what will the effects of Labour’s “apparently imminent” debt binge have?

On another not those in power continually reinforce the economic strength of Australia shown through previous entries... however preaching interest rate reduction does not correlate to the increase in general expenses. Average wage earnings have increased by $850 a month over the past 5 years- however repayments on average home loans has risen by $740 a month, 20% increases in food prices, 45% increases in petrol and a whopping 88% increase in child care fees. So despite the fact that government preaches that unemployment is at a record 32 year low of 4.3%, those in casual, part-time and low-paid positions are struggling to make ends meet- so although liberal positively claim that Australians have an extra $110 a month, their purchasing exceeds this considerably. I think it’s about time our government acknowledged that figures on paper differ from reality.

And finally rural and regional Australia is still suffering. Bendigo, a town of 100,000, classified as zone 3 has a chronic shortage of GPs. Liberal senators claim that ventures are under way including the Flynn Scholarship initiative, rural retention programs and up-skilling seminar grants. However, as is typical with our current government, programs were listed with no reference to the simple reality that these ventures in fact relate to zone 4 and 5 communities, and that Bendigo is thus competing as opposed to reaping the rewards of such ventures. What good is a government that states that it is doing when it is not…when will the liberal government understand that it is accountable to its people and does not/should not consider itself above and therefore autonomous.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

8th August 2007- Senate Question Time

The government seems to be continually claiming that the strength of the Australian economy means that we can sustain further interest rises. But yes, a proportion of the Australian population could easily deal with a ¼% rate rise but what about those that can’t. It seems that economy management is more important or at least regarded with more attention than the differing positions of Australian residents. Yes mortgage interest rates are still lower than under the last labour government…but when acknowledging that inflation is impacting on the price of groceries along with various other expenses incurred by families I begin to wonder when we are going to recognize that it all builds up. With mortgage interest rates going up to 8.3% which amounts to on average an extra $200 a month on mortgages I know for a fact that some Australians will not be able to cope. Not only does it affect mortgage payers but also private rentals. When will they recognize that Australians are already walking a tight line regarding weekly budgeting?

Another issue raised related to the Building and Construction Sectors. “Crucial” clean up of this sector will apparently be abolished by labour effectively rendering the 1.5% GDP increase irrelevant. The clean up has resulted in a 5.2% fall in the cost of construction and therefore cheaper homes and roads. This has also lessened the Consumer price index by 1% reducing the pressure on interest rates. Labour by abolishing the ABCC and other fundamental establishments in this sector could effectively be worsening our economic condition. I begin to wonder whether Labour will ever want to make decisions that are not necessarily publicly appealing but that can be proven to have significant positive repercussions for Australian residents.

7th August 2007- Senate Question Time

Today’s Question Time focused primarily on Finance issues. The questions raised highlighted our government’s tendency to throw money at ventures in order to raise public support. In particular recent concern over the lack of costing before public announcement of ventures was raised. For example, the recent accusations that the PM announced the funding being provided for Mercy West Hospital before it was costed was raised with additional reference to the $10 million water plan and $500 million NT Intervention. The fact that this behaviour is commonly being referred to as an desperate attempt by Howard to cling to power raises the concern that national decisions are being made based on popularity as opposed to national interest.

I think that serious consideration should also be given to the reality that despite Rudd’s claims that he is a fiscal conservative, his government intends to increase borrowing by $80 billion over a 4 year period. Personally I think Labour is a better candidate but acknowledgement must be given to the fact that apart from plans to achieve 60% cuts in carbon positions and reform of the current Industrial Relations system the Labour Government does tend to have a lack of solid policy. Australia at the moment is in a relatively strong financial position with the Howard government essentially removing our debt- I just wonder if increasing it again, even if for positive developments within Australian society is a viable option in the long run.

Telstra’s NEXT G network is still failing to meet the coverage standards of CDMA for rural and regional Australians- the government however is successfully managing the system and in my opinion quite successfully and openly. The new licensing agreement ensuring that Telstra will maintain CDMA coverage until Next G meets its standards is a promising and reassuring approach for rural and regional Australians and perhaps a step forward for open Liberal policy and procedure!

Thursday, August 9, 2007