Abbott backflips on use of Treasury figures, says ‘net outcome’ of budget will be released before election


August 09, 2013 16:41:31

Tony Abbott says he will use Treasury figures as a base for his budget, and that his costings will be “crystal clear” before voters head to the polls.

The announcement marks a changed stance for the Opposition Leader, who has previously expressed distrust for the Treasury figures.

On Tuesday the Treasury and Finance departments will release the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook (PEFO), which examines the state of the budget and the economy.

Mr Abbott says he will use the PEFO as a base for his budget costings as it will be “the best estimate going”.

“Hopefully it will be more accurate than previous figures, and we’ll obviously be working off the PEFO figures,” he told a press conference in Brisbane.

The Coalition has previously said it will not rely on the figures because the forecasts have been wrong in the past.

Earlier this week Mr Abbott said voters could do the math on his costings, and his treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the Coalition would not provide a final budget position before the September 7 election.

Labor frontbenchers seized on the remarks, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying it showed the Coalition is not “fair dinkum”, and Treasurer Chris Bowen saying the Opposition’s budget approach revolves around “adding some fairy dust”.

But Mr Abbott says the final budget bottom line will be “crystal clear” before the poll.

“All of our policies will be costed and funded, and you will be able to see the net outcome in good time before the election,” he said.

“People will have plenty of time to scrutinise what we’re spending and what we’re saving.

“I’ve identified more than $17 billion worth of savings, and that’s more than enough to cover the carbon tax compensation without a carbon tax, and the company tax cut that are the centrepieces of our plan.”

Last week’s economic statement released by the Government forecast this year’s deficit will blow out by $12 billion to $30 billion and the 2014-15 deficit will more than double to hit $24 billion.

Mr Bowen says Mr Abbott’s latest comments show he lacks confidence in Mr Hockey.

“This is yet another position from the Opposition today. More chaos, more disunity, more confusion about how they’ll pay for their promises,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“Earlier this week the shadow treasurer said that PEFO would not be respected by the Opposition. Today the Leader of the Opposition has said the best estimate going will be PEFO.

“I would like to see Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey being crystal clear with the Australian people about who will cost their promises.”


First posted

August 09, 2013 13:30:57

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IOC demands Russia explain implementation of its anti-gay law


August 09, 2013 22:05:46

Olympic president Jacques Rogge has called on Russia to explain how it will implement its controversial anti-gay propaganda law and detail its impact on next year’s Sochi Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) want clarification of how the law will be applied, despite having received assurances from Games organisers, Mr Rogge said.

Russia, hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, passed the law in June.

The ban has led some to call for a boycott of the Sochi Games.

United States president Barack Obama has voiced his concern while Puerto Rican IOC presidential candidate Richard Carrion has spoken strongly against the legislation.

At a news conference in Moscow following a meeting between the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council and the executive board of the IOC, and ahead of the start of the world athletics championships in the Russian capital on Saturday, Mr Rogge said his body needed clarification over the English translation of the law.

“We have received all reassurances emanating from Mr Dmitry Kozak, who is in charge of the organisation of the Games in Sochi,” he said.

“We asked for written confirmation of these reassurances.

“We received them yesterday, we have studied it this morning but there are still uncertainties and we have decided to ask for more clarification as of today.

“So we are waiting for this clarification before having final judgement on these reassurances.”

Russia’s sports minister Vitali Mutko and IAAF president Lamine Diack were unconcerned about the law’s potential impact on this month’s world championships.

Mr Mutko told a news conference that “all the athletes and organisations should be relaxed, their rights will be protected … but of course you have to respect the laws of the country you are in”.

Asked what would happen if an athlete protested against the law during the Sochi Games, Mr Rogge said: “This is definitely something (that) has to be considered case by case so I cannot give you a generic answer.”

Olympics charter ‘free of discrimination’

Critics of the law have said it effectively disallows all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.

President Vladimir Putin also banned same-sex couples from adopting children.

Asked what the IOC specifically needed to clarify on the new legislation, Mr Rogge replied: “We are not clear about the English translation of the Russian law and we want clarification of this translation to be able to understand what has been communicated to us.

“This is about a couple of paragraphs – we don’t understand all the details because of probably a difficulty in translation.

It says sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation

“We don’t think it is a fundamental issue, more of a translation issue.”

Mr Rogge, who steps down from the IOC presidency in September after 12 years in charge, said the Olympic charter was very clear.

“It says sport is a human right and should be available to all regardless of race, sex or sexual orientation,” he said.

“The Games themselves should be open to all, free of discrimination. Our position is very clear but as we don’t have all (the) full details of a good comprehension of the law we cannot make any comment on that.”

Mr Putin has made Sochi a top priority for Russia to help its image abroad by propagating it as a modern state with top-notch infrastructure.

But the latest controversy only adds to criticism over cost overruns and accusations of widespread corruption marring the February Games.



First posted

August 09, 2013 22:00:34

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The Drum Friday August 9


August 09, 2013 20:56:52

In this episode of The Drum, Kim Williams resigns leadership of News Corp, the highs and lows of the first week of the election campaign, and Anthony Green explains which issues are really on voters’ minds.

Source: The Drum
Duration: 42min 54sec


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Nagasaki mayor slams Abe’s nuclear policy on atom bomb anniversary


August 09, 2013 20:48:56

Nagasaki’s mayor has urged the Japanese government to take stronger action in opposing nuclear weapons, during a ceremony to mark the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.

As tens of thousands of people gathered in Nagasaki for the anniversary, mayor Tomihisa Taue used the occasion to call for stronger anti-nuclear leadership from Tokyo.

Mr Taue says the recent failure to sign a statement rejecting the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances was a betrayal.

“If we cannot accept the wording that usage of nuclear weapon will never be permitted, it means the Japanese government is showing that nuclear weapons can be used depending on the circumstance,” he said.

Mr Taue called on Japan’s younger generation to hear the voices of the World War II bomb survivors and remember its devastating effects.

The memorial was held at Nagasaki’s Peace Park, close to the spot where the US military dropped its bomb on August 9, 1945.

Seventy-four thousand of the city’s population of 240,000 were killed immediately or were dead within a year.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also spoke at the event, reminding the audience that the Japanese are the only people to have experienced a nuclear attack.

“We have the responsibility to bring about a world without nuclear weapons and it is our duty to continue to remind the world of the inhumanity (of nuclear weapons),” Mr Abe said.


First posted

August 09, 2013 19:39:29

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Capital Hill Friday 8 August 2013


August 09, 2013 19:23:04

ABC News 24 political editor Lyndal Curtis talks broadband with Coalition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, Sydney’s west with Labor’s Ed Husic and on the panel Trade Minister Richard Marles and Opposition Small Business spokesman Bruce Billson.

Source: Capital Hill
Duration: 39min 9sec


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No restriction on worm for first leaders’ debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott


August 09, 2013 18:07:26

There will be no restrictions on audience response meters, otherwise known as the worm, during the first election campaign debate between the two leaders.

Labor and the Liberal Party have agreed rules for Sunday night’s debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

They stipulate there are to be no restrictions on audience response meters which generate the worm – an on-screen line tracking viewers’ positive or negative reactions in real time.

The hour-long debate at the National Press Club in Canberra will open with a three-minute statement by each leader, the first of which will be decided by the toss of a coin.

They will then be quizzed by a panel of three journalists – Lyndal Curtis from the ABC, Simon Benson of News Limited and Fairfax’s Peter Hartcher – in front of a live audience.

Sky News’ political editor David Speers will moderate the event as, in turn, the journalists ask questions as part of a discussion covering the major issues of the election campaign.

All the television networks will be able to broadcast the event live at 6:30pm.


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Aboriginal language to be taught in Brisbane school

PNG boat ads to stay

PNG boat ads to stay

The federal government will press ahead with a two-week domestic campaign promoting its tough new asylum seeker policy, sparking opposition claims it is breaching the caretaker conventions.
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WA’s breathtaking long term debt forecast

PNG boat ads to stay

PNG boat ads to stay

The federal government will press ahead with a two-week domestic campaign promoting its tough new asylum seeker policy, sparking opposition claims it is breaching the caretaker conventions.
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Vic garbage chute suicide theory ‘absurd’

It’s absurd that a drunk Melbourne woman would have been able to throw herself down a garbage chute, her former detective grandfather says.

Retired detective sergeant Lorne Campbell conducted his own investigation into the December 2010 death of Phoebe Handsjuk, which police concluded was a suicide.

It would be extremely difficult for someone to climb into a hatch and then slide down the chute, particularly under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Mr Campbell said in a statement tendered to the inquest into her death.

A post-mortem examination found traces of alcohol, the sleeping pill Stilnox and prescription medication in Ms Handsjuk’s blood.

Ms Handsjuk was found at the base of a garbage chute at the luxury St Kilda Road apartment complex where she lived with her partner Antony Hampel.

Mr Campbell said the police conclusion that the 24-year-old had committed suicide was premature.

“It is my opinion … that she was killed by one or more people,” he said.

After conducting a series of experiments with some of Ms Handsjuk’s friends, Mr Campbell said it was absurd that an intoxicated person would have been able to climb into the garbage hatch, the top of which was a metre off the ground.

“I remain convinced it is not within the capacity of someone so drunk,” he said.

Mr Campbell was also critical of the police investigation, saying they had ignored the presence of Ms Handsjuk’s blood on a computer mouse and did not immediately seize the complex’s CCTV footage.

Ms Handsjuk’s mother’s partner Russell Marriott said he had seen Phoebe only a few days before her death.

He told the Victorian Coroners Court she was edgy and upset, and spoke of possibly ending her relationship with Mr Hampel.

When asked by Coroner Peter White if he thought there was any way Ms Handsjuk could have killed herself, Mr Marriott replied: “In my opinion, absolutely not.”

Mr Marriott said Ms Handsjuk was looking forward to her brother’s birthday party.

The inquest continues on Monday.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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Greens take aim at Tas gas exploration

The Greens are warning of a new environmental conflict in Tasmania over shale gas and oil exploration.

Energy company Petratherm has applied for a licence to explore 3900 square kilometres of central Tasmania.

“It’s a very bad idea for this company to parachute into Tasmania and start what will be a major conflict,” Greens leader Christine Milne told reporters in Hobart.

Senator Milne delivered her warning alongside livestock farmer Brett Hall, who said details about how the company would proceed were scarce.

Mr Hall said he feared for his water supply if aquifers were affected.

“I’d like people to imagine if a mining company came along to their home, their land, and decided to do some mining,” he said.

“And there was absolutely nothing you could do about it.”

The Greens say Tasmania should be aiming to increase its 86 per cent renewable energy use to 100 per cent, rather than turning towards more use of fossil fuels.

Petratherm subsidiary PetraGas says it will consult extensively with local communities if a licence is granted.

But Senator Milne said farmers should be able to veto exploration on their land.

It’s the second pitch the Greens leader has made to rural voters in as many days after the online launch of her $600 million food security policy on Thursday.

“Farmers are under enough pressure as it is, rural communities are under enough pressure,” Senator Milne said.

“Why would you want to add to that?”

The company says it expects a decision on its application within three months.

Petratherm has been contacted for further comment.

Tasmania’s director of mines Kim Creak said the company would need to meet strict criteria to be granted the licence.

“This is just an exploration licence and it involves conventional exploration techniques and the licence application is still in process,” Mr Creak said in a statement on Friday.

He said neither coal seam gas nor fracking were part of the application.

“As with all exploration licences, strict measures are required to be in place to protect landowners,” he said.

A process was in place for objections, he added.

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