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Abbott deserves a Tony Award for that speech!

Peter Switzer
22 May 2013

The Abbott reply to the Budget has cut the ribbon on a four month election campaign but if the Opposition leader can maintain the strong, “I look like a grown up” image he delivered in Parliament last night, then Labor’s worst nightmares of a complete rout on September 14 could actually happen.

On Wall Street

In case the importance of the Coalition’s comeback to the Budget offering of the Gillard Government is not a prime concern, Wall Street was down marginally after some loose talk from a Federal Reserve president, who suggested quantitative easing could soon be tapered and even ended this year. However, all of this is predicated on unemployment coming down markedly. The size of the fall — the Dow off 0.28 per cent and the S&P 500 down 0.5 per cent — indicates the market was not too spooked at the prospect.

Abbott’s proposals

Now let’s get back to Abbott and get prepared for media madness, as he is accused of depriving low income Aussies and their school kids.

Let me give you a quick summary:

  • Abbott looks like he will pocket the Government’s savings from Tuesday’s Budget if they pass the Parliament.
  • So the baby bonus goes, the Medicare Levy goes up 0.5 per cent and the super changes would be accepted, etc.
  • He will keep the carbon tax compensation tax cuts, but kill the carbon tax, which the Coalition say makes the average family better off by $600.
  • The removal of the mining tax and carbon tax will be a cost-reduction shot in the arm for many businesses and will help build a snowball of confidence and might help business investment pick up over 2013-14.
  • While he has signed up for the Government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, he’s not a Gonski disciple and its $7 billion price tag. Instead he will try to crack a deal with the states for an alternative education package.
  • 12,000 public servants will go.
  • The superannuation rise from nine per cent to 12 per cent will be delayed for two years, though the rise to 9.25 per cent starts on 1 July. Small business will like getting a break from this cost impost, and when it resumes, the economy might be stronger and it might be easier to pay the higher super. Finance Minister Penny Wong’s reaction shows what lies ahead, saying the superannuation changes would "take an axe" to the superannuation savings of 8.4 million Australians.
  • The twice-yearly supplementary payment for people on benefits will go and battlers won’t like that.
  • He dodged how he will pay for the parental leave scheme. That will be a campaign revelation and another battleground but it can only be on how does he pay for it because Labor won’t want to look anti-women.
  • Tony threw in a promise to cut red tape to small business and this will be a critical test of his Government for me. This is like the Loch Ness Monster of political promises — you hear a lot about it but you never actually see it!
Labor’s challenge

Most of these promises are appealing to the voters Tony is chasing — the aspirational middle class, small business, big business and all of those Australians who might think the Gillard Government is either dysfunctional, incompetent or has lost its way.

Labor has a philosophical challenge. It is true enough to left-leaning supporters but their right-wing former supporters are bewildered at their spectacular failures, such as asylum seekers, budget finances and the loss of the likes of Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson from the Government’s management team.

All the Government can do is paint Abbott as the mean, wealthy-loving Liberal, who will demolish the happy and better life created by the Rudd-Gillard teams. You can see this as fact or irony depending on the way you see life.

On your mark, get set, go!

My objective view is that Abbott delivered the best speech I’ve seen him do — he’s been practicing — but most importantly, he did look like a grown up and someone who might be able to do a better job. And that’s all Opposition leaders have to do as generally Government’s lose elections.

Let the election campaign, the insults, the lies and the dirty tricks begin. I wonder what or who will replace a rampaging Mark Latham with a Channel Nine microphone? Who knows, Mark might be in training for a comeback — no, not as a politician, but as a media maelstrom!

Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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