A key aspect of our system of government is an impartial public service.  In fact, this impartiality is enshrined in the Australian Public Service Act 1999, where it states: 

It's enough to make your hair stand on end. Pic: Sam Mooy

(1) The APS Values are as follows:
(a) the APS is apolitical, performing its functions in an impartial and professional manner.

When this impartiality is undermined, our system of government is undermined.  But this means very little to the Gillard Labor Government.  This week, we have seen Wayne Swan direct Treasury officials to cost Coalition policies for no other reason than to try and discredit his political opponents.  If this is not undermining the impartiality of the public service, then I don’t know what is. 

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  • XT says:

    06:48pm | 08/11/12

    @Jane Goodluck - obviously a politician?  Rebutting arguments with “balderdash” does not a rebuttal make.  I didn’t “misrepresent” anything, its all there, as you say online, just how many people are aware that the commonwealth is actually a corporation and not a sovereign state?  There is a difference between “privatising… Read more »

  • TimB says:

    06:43pm | 08/11/12

    Figured as much Jane. Looks more like standard Treasury stuff rather than sinister goings on. Read more »


Former NSW premiers seem back in fashion this week which might inspire Tony Abbott to announce that Nick Greiner would be on his proposed Commission of Audit.

Not a budget tree will be spared. Picture: The Australian

The Opposition Leader wants the audit as a potential threshing machine to run through national public spending should the Coalition win government, so he might as well hire someone who knows how to drive one.

Abbott says the heritage of his plan for a full and arguably independent audit of government books lies with John Howard and Peter Costello back in 1996.

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  • Steve says:

    06:38pm | 12/03/12

    A few more years of Labor and there won’t be any welfare at all. And that includes the lower class welfare. But Im sure the fat public servants will look after themselves. Read more »

  • Shane From Melbourne says:

    06:24pm | 12/03/12

    @Call it as I see it….no, my taxes already pay for these things. Fail. Wealth redistribution is still wealth redistribution. Socialism is still socialism. Read more »


In the general pandemonium surrounding the unveiling of the carbon tax package last week, it was easy to overlook the dodgy little purchase incentive that came as part of the bundle.  Shrink-wrapped to the side of the carbon tax box was something called the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Behind the feel good name, this new bureaucracy is little more than a $10 billion, off-the-books venture capital fund, underwritten by the taxpayers and created for the sole purpose of providing generous loans and guarantees to highly speculative startups in the renewable energy sector. 

This shonky “Gillard Bank” will involve an unelected board, chosen by Julia Gillard and Bob Brown, picking winners with minimal public scrutiny, no apparent requirement for cost benefit analyses and no apparent tender processes with objective criteria to ensure value for money. In all probability the CEFC will direct funds to projects that conventional financiers wouldn’t touch because they would be deemed too risky. While the actual policy documents are silent on where the $10 billion will come from, Government sources have suggested the money will come from the issue of billions of dollars in government bonds.

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  • Steve says:

    05:12pm | 21/07/11

    Rink. well at least you concede that opposition scrutiny of government expenditure and investment is necessary. The history of state and Federal governments involvements in failed private enterprises is dismal in this country. I for one would support close scrutiny of all such proposals. Don’t pick on the nice Mr… Read more »

  • rink says:

    04:28pm | 21/07/11

    While I agree that such scrutiny of budgetary ‘tricks’ is an essential action of any opposition, it is as redundant as writing an article about Labor’s other policy failures and abusing Peter Garrett then conferring that all future policies will fail. A low tactic of appealing to hysteria with a… Read more »


When Tony Abbott is scrambling for something new to say he can occasionally come up with pretty dubious statements. One outstanding example last week was his warning that the mining industry was fighting for survival.

TA is fighting fit. But is it enough to get him to the top job? Photo:

This was a singular view of the fate of that billionaires’ collective. However, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has come to Mr Abbott’s rescue. She is prepared to offer the calculators of Treasury so that the Opposition will no longer have to struggle to find something fresh to say.

Mr Abbott will be able to speak about his own, fully-costed policies.

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  • Christian Real says:

    02:27pm | 04/07/11

    Peter Like other loyal liberals supporters you are still in denial of the truth,but I suppose when you support a serial liar like Tony Abbott, (the lies) rubs of on you mob,and you become tarred with the same brush Read more »

  • Christian Real says:

    09:31am | 03/07/11

    Tim B The only joke is you my friend, and your way out comments defending your beloved Liberal party, I don’t comment just in these blogs, at least i get out and about and make my opinions known also. I don’t complain about government, but I do something about it… Read more »


For all its flaws, there is one thing this Labor Government can be proud of – a cohesive ability to ignore the reality of its spending addiction. 

Illustration: Peter Nicholson.

I applaud every Labor Member of Parliament who has successfully stood in front of a camera and said with a straight face that Wayne Swan is a good economic manager. 

It must be tough, because a close look at the Budget’s spending column clearly proves otherwise. 

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  • Leopard says:

    09:12pm | 27/06/11

    St. Michael “....the brightest boy on the blog…” This   requires   owner   of   same   superior   brain matter   to be   PLEASANT. St.M (Tarquinius Superbus) Vale She leopard Read more »

  • St. Michael says:

    05:14pm | 27/06/11

    You didn’t belt me, sunshine.  Anonymous cowards on the Internet long ago ceased to provide any sort of meaningful punishment for any imagined sin you think I may have committed.  But if it helps your self-esteem issues to think so, go right ahead. Read more »


Australia is not heading for a recession but our precise economic destination over the next few years can’t be forecast because of the swirl of factors buffeting certainty around the globe.

It's about the surplus, not the sour puss

We simply don’t know exactly what is going to happen in Greece, Spain, Portugal, the United States and China. Or even in Australia.

This means the Government will have to be careful as it tip-toes towards a Budget surplus in 2012-2013; and the Opposition will have to use caution when predicting calamity from carbon pricing.

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  • Borderer says:

    09:24am | 04/08/11

    Can I say that I thought that the school hall rorts were basically a beat up by Liberal party supporters taking a shot a major Labor project. That is until I attended my nephews school fete. I saw their new hall, a massive structure made from colourbond steel, concrete slab,… Read more »

  • Felipe says:

    10:39am | 07/06/11

    Labor’s record on the economy is frightening in both state and federal.  This mining boom money will be wasted if Gillard and her labor government stay in office.  Gillard and her ministers are incapable of saving,  the mining money will be spent willy nilly without consideration of the country’s benefit. … Read more »


New Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson got married last Saturday and had a splendid ceremony and celebration in the tourist-depleted north Queensland resort of Port Douglas.

Photo: Comfortable one day, deserted the next.

He will now spend time which might have been allocated to a honeymoon doing all-nighters in the Treasury Building as the May 10 Budget is locked into place.

Crazy honeymoon. And it will be a crazy Budget in crazy economic times.

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  • St. Michael says:

    09:41pm | 01/05/11

    @ Persephone: First, you should find a better source than Domhoff (the “Who Rules America” article).  Leaving aside Domhoff’s been spouting the same line since the sixties and demonstrating conformational bias in order to support his rather antiquated ideas on class, power, and how America works, he’s a psychologist and… Read more »

  • Watcher says:

    11:51am | 01/05/11

    I come from Newcastle, we always voted Labor, till the last state election. I will never vote Labor again, they have lost their core values. And let me add nor will many many others I talk to daily. We all appalled. The poor they are attacking,who ironically are Labor voters.… Read more »


Wayne Swan could be forgiven if he puffed out his chest a little during a TV interview in New York couple of days ago.

Super Wayne demonstrates his everyday ordinary superpowers. Pic: Kym Smith

“You’re a combination of what, in the US, would be Timothy Geithner and Joe Biden all in one person,” said CNBC business anchor Erin Burnett.

Geithner is the US Treasury Secretary, Biden the Vice-President. All Burnett was trying to do was explain Swan’s twin roles as Australia’s Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, but she made him sound like some kind of super-politician.

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  • Steve says:

    07:16pm | 18/04/11

    The Redman. The reforms commenced by Hawke/Keating and continued by Howard/Costello insulated Australia from the GFC to a large degree. You can blame the Americans but I can’t see the logic of blaming Howard and Costello. History will show that Wayne Swann put the country into hock to stave off… Read more »

  • Steve says:

    07:08pm | 18/04/11

    I am sorry to hear about your job loss and hope you find a position soon. During the Howard years every single person who lost their job could blame work choices, well according to the unions anyway. Now that the ALP is in power and there is no more work… Read more »


If the worst of the global financial crisis is behind us and Wayne Swan’s bank deposit guarantee no longer exists, why are many Australians still fighting with investment firms over frozen funds which have been locked away for almost two years? 

Your, your money's not here. It's, it's at Wayne Swan's house and, and, Colonial's house.

The government’s bank deposit guarantee, introduced at the height of the financial crisis, was meant to stabilise financial markets and restore the flow of credit.  It covered all deposits of banks but excluded investment funds.  This triggered a lockdown of deposits in investment funds and left hundreds of thousands of Australians in the lurch. 

When the government decided to remove the bank deposit guarantee in March this year, sighting improved conditions in the banking sector, many expected it to facilitate the release of frozen funds, particularly those smaller funds held by ordinary Australians.  This decision was a sign and an expectation that things would start to return to normal. 

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  • Neil S. says:

    04:27pm | 31/10/12

    The financial manager placed my funds in a particular fund that he selected, which probably pays the best kickbacks. For 2 years my monthly fee on that account is 3 times any growth that I recieve, so that if the fund remains frozen long enough, the fees will swallow up… Read more »

  • Fiddlesticks says:

    12:14pm | 11/10/10

    Fehlhaber has started with a fundamental error. It’s not the first time. Not good enough. In point of fact, as various observers of finance noted at the time and since, it is quite untrue to claim that the bank deposit guarantee *caused* a run on term investment funds. In actual… Read more »


The likelihood of interest rates rising is back on the agenda, following explicit warnings from the Reserve Bank that it is considering the need for tighter monetary policy.

Cartoon by The Australian's Peter Nicholson

The Coalition has consistently warned that the Labor Government’s heavy borrowing and build up of debt will put upward pressure on interest rates.

These warnings have been rejected by the government and by a few select commentators in the media.

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  • Laurie says:

    09:25am | 27/09/10

    The interest rate/mining boom issue should be seen for what it is. It is a good problem for the economy to have. You can have a Japan,US.Canada economy where itnerest rates are near zero and nothing happening including high unemployment or a buoyant economy not without issues but high levels… Read more »

  • Bernard says:

    07:58am | 27/09/10

    Dear Joe, Under Turnbull you and your colleagues seemed intelligent and sensible and took the government to task in a good way and you had my vote.  Since the rise of the redneck abbott and a return to stronger negative adversarial politics by yourself, abbott, and turnbull… all your IQ’s… Read more »


There are a couple of reasons why Tony Abbott rebuffed the independents demands to have Treasury and finance cost their policies: they probably are a bit dodgy, he doesn’t trust treasury not to leak it and it’s an attempt at a show of strength from someone who’ll probably end up on top in the seat count.

Tony Abbott doing his best Tony Abbott

During the campaign Abbott refused to submit his policies to Treasury under the Charter of Budget Honesty because he couldn’t trust treasury, or more specifically the Treasurer’s office, not to leak the findings.

Abbott appeared to refine his argument for not releasing the costings down to this reason this morning on ABC radio, calling a leak during the campaign from Treasury on Coalition costings: “an act of political bastardry”.

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  • Gregg says:

    01:55pm | 27/08/10

    It’s not quite what he said MarkH It was more of that he agreed there was room for improvement in the level of confrontation that has been present in recent years, it does take two to tango and you would have seen a former PM as one of the greatest… Read more »


Taxation reform as a political issue may not float many people’s boat but in an election year it promises to be as entertaining as a day in the life of Jack Bauer. We have two political leaders - Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott - who are equally unconvincing on the economy and who must grapple with a political hot potato.

The director, Ken Henry

The Rudd Government will soon respond to the final report of Australia’s Tax System Review Panel. The Panel, headed by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry, will recommend the most comprehensive reform of the tax system in a generation.

Taxation reform is a policy challenge more complex than quantum mechanics.  Australia’s existing tax system has outdated Commonwealth-State financial arrangements and effective marginal tax rates that discourage people on welfare from participating in the workforce. Australia also faces significant economic challenges that are intimately related to the taxation system, such as an over-reliance on mining for national wealth; an aging population; and the need to reduce the carbon output of the economy.

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  • BoyerMaryanne says:

    01:26pm | 22/03/12

    That’s known that cash can make us independent. But how to act if someone doesn’t have cash? The one way is to receive the personal loans and just term loan. Read more »

  • COF says:

    02:55pm | 01/02/10

    Great post, Taxed. It is a shame that an issue such as Taxation is so overtly politicised and causes such an emotional response when it should be approached as rationally as possible. I agree wholeheartedly with your view on Super, a scrapping of payroll tax will alleviate the burden of… Read more »


In conventional Wayne Swan fashion, he was triumphant as he unveiled Treasury’s stern rebuttal of Frontier Economics research report into an alternative emissions trading scheme.


Given the Rudd Government’s deeply flawed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, the Coalition had commissioned the report in order to inform discussions about a better carbon trading scheme. But yesterday Mr Swan informed reporters that a $3.2 billion hole had been found in Frontier’s alternative by the Treasury Department.

So where is the modelling? Mr Swan has refused to release it and until he does, Treasury’s alleged rebuttal amounts to zip.

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We knew something was up when the party pies ran out. There was a whiff of the end of times that the cheap percolated coffee couldn’t quite hide.

Exciting stuff: Journalists in the federal Budget lock-up in Canberra.

And so it came to pass. The state Budget lock up was no more.

South Australia – first state to give women the vote, to ban plastic bags and forbid groups of people who ride motorcycles from hanging out together, has now become the first state to lose the lock up.

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  • Eric says:

    06:06pm | 18/06/09

    The problem with locking up journos is that they keep letting them out again. Read more »

  • JG says:

    02:10pm | 18/06/09

    Thank the gods of bureaucracy for that. Budget lockups have been a farce for years. Hope this sanity spreads. It’s bloody cold in Canberra at winter time. Read more »


WAYNE Swan and his mates at Treasury put a lot of effort into producing pretty graphs whose sole intention seems to be to make us feel OK about all the bad news in the Budget. There’s little that needs to be said here except that a lot of this is clearly spin, but under the very last chart below I’ve pointed out a few things worth thinking about.

Australia v Rest of World: We're OK folks.

A graph showing the Budget will return to surplus (with the massive rider that pretty much everything goes to plan).

Here’s a confronting concept to grapple with first thing in the morning: opposition assistant treasury spokesman Tony Smith saying that Kevin Rudd’s deficit will last longer than the Second World War.

VD Day in Martin Place as Rudd and Swanny triumph over the deficit

Or so long that, if your first child is born on budget night next Tuesday, they will have enrolled at primary school by the time the Budget is back in the black.

The Daily Telegraph’s Sue Dunlevy reports this morning that next week’s economic statement may contain a deficit figure as high as $70 billion, $10 billion higher than most other estimates in the pre-budget marketplace. Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd remain sanguine about the enormity of this figure.

But there’s one very big problem with their laid-back approach. 

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