Media Circus: Budget 2013 edition

What stood out for you in tonight’s Federal Budget?


As usual, the topic of these media-circus posts is just a discussion-starter. Please discuss any sociopolitical issue currently making the news, or highlight egregious churnalism and those far too rare instances where the MSM rises above it.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, media, Politics

Tags: ,

27 replies

  1. I’m a little horrified that a young couple, earning $130 000 a year combined, can go to the newspaper and say that with their $420K mortgage and $380K (shared with another couple) investment property that they aren’t sure they can afford to have a baby. Perhaps the Govt could pay for them to do a course on budgeting?
    I’m not suggesting that paying the costs of raising children are negligible and goddess knows there are many things that the Government should be doing to make it easier for parents to participate in the workforce if they want to/need to. But helping people keep an investment property shouldn’t be it. IMHO.

  2. I share your horror, Mindy. I’m sick of rather well off people whingeing about stuff like this. They really don’t know what being poor means. And politicians keep pandering to them but won’t increase Newstart, for example. Or be nicer to unemployed single parents. Or complain we can’t afford the NDIS and Gonski.

  3. The Greens are saying they won’t support the cuts in the Senate but that won’t matter as Labor and the Coalition will combine against them, as they routinely do on Green senate motions on all sorts of subject. A futile gesture is not a noble one, IMO.

  4. Mindy – depending on how their investment property is geared it may not actually be costing them anything at all. The lower means test on the baby bonus is I think a good thing. If anything average household income is probably a good cut off point for family subsidies and payments (though tapered reduction).
    I’m not sure we should be concerned too much about whether people think they can afford to have a baby as population-wise we have no shortage of people wanting to immigrate. But we should ensure that those who do have children have sufficient means to care for them adequately. And pumping money into schools is a good alternative use for the funds.

  5. I only saw what was reported on Lateline, but I have to say I was a bit perplexed by the Opposition’s response. They kept almost refusing to comment saying they were going to give ‘a careful, considered response’ to the Budget. That came across to me as ‘this took us totally by surprise and I have no idea what to say’. Is it supposed to be a counter to the idea that Tony Abbott goes about shooting his mouth off do you think?

    • angharad, I expect they’re waiting to see what the op-ed columnists come up with and what the comments sections on those commentscolumns say so that they can fine-tune their soundbites according to what appears to be resonating most.
      I wish I were joking.

  6. I’m not sure we should be concerned too much about whether people think they can afford to have a baby

    It’s not so much that I’m concerned whether this particular couple end up having children or not, I think they will probably either decide that in fact they don’t or decide to try to get pregnant anyway and sort it out as they go along. Nor am I concerned that they are looking at their budget and trying to work out how childcare etc will affect them.
    What does concern me is that many people, the ’privileged poor’ if you will, think that they are battling on $130 000 a year. How did we get to this point where quite frankly, and I include myself in this, we are so fucking selfish?

    • I think it’s more that an income of $130K no longer represents the financial security that it once did, and that is what is read as being one of the “battlers”.

  7. Sorry my comment should have had the following disclaimer: $130K+ assuming able bodied and not having to purchase expensive medications, treatments,mobility devices etc for yourself or caring for someone who does.
    @Tigtog – is that lack of financial security a result of our own choices though? Is it because some, by no means all, people choose a larger house, a nicer car, more expensive holidays? Or is there an economic reason that I am missing?

    • Some of the problem comes down to lack of sufficient savings in a more consumerist culture, but one major economic reason is simply employment security. Once upon a time being on a $130K (combined) salary meant that one or both could easily leave and find another job within weeks, if not days, at the same pay-scale, and thus felt very safe projecting one’s financial plans a decade or more into the future.
      That really is no longer true at all, and this makes people far more anxious about anything they think could affect their employment, and resentful of any changes which might affect their personal budgets.

  8. Right, yes, now I understand. Absolutely. The lack of job security is a big thing. I would also argue that we are still a bit at fault here for choosing bigger houses etc. *gazes out the windows of her glass house*

  9. Meanwhile, over at Our ABC, there’s an article about the Australian dollar “losing ground” against the US dollar. All, of course, rather negatively slanted.
    Except, hello? Isn’t this what our manufacturers and miners and farmers and exporters have all been shrieking about for the past four to five years? They’ve wanted the Aussie dollar to lose ground. They’ve been begging for the government to do something to make this happen. And now it is happening, and the ABC (and probably the rest of the mainstream finance media) is reporting as though it’s an oncoming catastrophe.
    I swear, Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard could walk across Lake Burley Griffin and they’d get dinged by the mainstream media for disregarding bylaws or something. Manifesting manna would get them yelled at for littering, and I dread to think how the media would manage to misconstrue the miracle of the loaves and fishes…

  10. Gillard walks over Lake Burley Griffin – Gillard can’t swim trumpets the Terror. (not my joke, someone on Twitter I think)

  11. Very true. That’s an old joke, though. Lyndon Johnson told it about himself.

  12. tigtog @ 11 – I agree with you, and is one of the reasons that I argue that net assets is a much better measure of “wealth” than income. And I get a bit annoyed about news reports which assume that income level is equivalent to wealth. Also although they may be on $130k+/year they are probably (hopefully!) making their financial calculations based on a single wage.
    Megpie – personally I love any drop in the exchange rate because I’m essentially an export. But the downside for many will be increased inflation with imports becoming more expensive and a consequent rise in interest rates. Exporters have been complaining a lot about the high exchange rate but as long as you’ve kept your job its been a pretty good ride for those who are employed, keeping inflation and interest rates low.

  13. Question; Am I becoming more radical, or is the MSM becoming more absolutely blatant in their language indicating anti-government sentiment?
    (For instance, what is THIS piece of tripe but an opinion puff piece pretending to be news, without anyone claiming responsibility? http://www.news.com.au/money/federal-budget/things-you-wont-believe-are-in-federal-budget-2013/story-fn84fgcm-1226642450043 )

  14. @Chris, I think the couple in the article were making their readiness for children decision based on what a single wage would be which is good management, but for mine FFS no one is making them have an investment property. Also, anyone making a decision to have a child or not based on $5k from the government is going to be shocked at how little that actually pays for when it comes to children.

  15. Mindy – I agree with your overall sentiment. I haven’t seen the original article or know how much detail was in it, but an investment property isn’t necessarily a drain on their cash flow – it could even be positively geared.
    However I suspect that the phrase “to be able to afford a child” means for many of those couples who complain, that they be able to maintain their pre-children lifestyle – perhaps just at the cost of reduced savings. And to do that you either have to be very well off, or have been basing your lifestyle on one income rather than two.
    I was lucky enough to have my child at the peak of baby bonus payment period before the means testing. And whilst $5k was not that significant to the budget in the long run, it did seem a lot at the time – it covered all the upfront costs – pram, change table, car seat, cot, bedding, clothes, baby monitor, etc with a decent amount left over.

  16. Yeah not really sure why it bugs me so much. Still I’m sure they will find a way to manage if they do want to try for kids.

  17. It doesn’t always come out clearly in coverage so a note: the Baby Bonus and Paid Parental Leave are presently exclusive: you can only get one of the two. (If eligible for both, you can choose which.) It seems means testing for PPL is not being introduced?

  18. It seems means testing for PPL is not being introduced?

    I believe PPL is not going to be means tested. Probably politically too difficult, but if they were looking for savings I think it makes sense to at least make parents choose between employer provided PPL if they are entitled to it and the government funded one. Not an explicit means test, but I’d guess that most high income earners would have access to a PPL scheme that is worth far more than the government one.

  19. I’d guess that most high income earners would have access to a PPL scheme that is worth far more than the government one.

    Typically at the moment employers who offer generous schemes make up the difference, they don’t add PPL on top of the parent’s salary.
    PPL isn’t means-tested, but it is taxable income: perhaps that’s enough? Or at least, I’m not sure why we’d judge that high income people should pay 45c in the dollar tax, except for high income new parents, who should pay 100c in the dollar? And moving the burden of paying it onto employers’ budgets (further) risks women facing pregnancy discrimination, in particular. I’m inclined to think making PPL taxable (as it is already) is enough.

  20. Nice post on The Conversation regarding how a government presiding over a strong economy can produce such a weak budget (and how the trap was set): Has Labor’s tax aversion left them on the verge of electoral defeat?

    One day soon the ALP is going to have to decide if it wants to chase the Liberals down the low tax/fend for yourself American path or talk honestly with the public about the fact that tax is the price we pay to live in a civilised society. Hopefully the party chooses the latter. And hopefully it hurries up and actually makes a choice, because the current farce is as destructive to public debate as it is to policy development.

  21. And moving the burden of paying it onto employers’ budgets (further) risks women facing pregnancy discrimination, in particular. I’m inclined to think making PPL taxable (as it is already) is enough.

    But those employers who provided PPL before were happy to pay the full cost before until the government introduced their scheme. It is a rather unfortunate side effect that in cases where businesses were willing and happy to pay the full cost of PPL we now have the government subsidising it.
    Given these employers saw the benefit of the paying the full cost before do you think they would suddenly reduce the value of their PPL scheme to their employees if the government subsidy was removed?
    btw I think the long term solution to discrimination around PPL is to legislate a scheme that would in practice result in men taking PPL as much as women so it makes no difference to employers. Which would probably be something along the lines of a type of PPL leave that only partners can take, perhaps up to say 2-3 years after the child is born. Also would probably need to relax the requirements around being the primary carer to at allow the legal recognition that the primary carer role can be shared.

  22. Given these employers saw the benefit of the paying the full cost before do you think they would suddenly reduce the value of their PPL scheme to their employees if the government subsidy was removed?

    It just sounds rather hard to test for, at least on a naive interpretation of “reset your scheme to what it was five years ago!” Paid parental leave schemes that are company funded were and still are optional, and (depending on the level of means testing) you end up in a weird situation where, say, 60 to 70% of women get government PPL, a substantial fraction of but not all of the best paid 5% together with public servants get employer-paid PPL, and the women in the upper-middle are means-tested out.
    In addition, those schemes have their issues. I know of quite a few with onerous return-to-work requirements: eg return to your old role and your old hours by 16 weeks or pay it all back. (Even aside from parenting preferences, it may well be impossible to secure childcare that early.) And the vast bulk only offer the scheme to employees with a year or more at that particular company*, whereas the government scheme asks for a history of employment in general, not with one company.
    To sum up: I’m not wedded to government funded PPL, but I am fairly convinced of the need for universal PPL (after all, payment for other forms of work is generally mandated…), and I’m not convinced the workforce divides completely into “people with low incomes” and “people with great bargaining power with their employers who can be guaranteed to negotiate a deal at least that good”. Making it taxable income seems reasonable in terms of not unfairly benefiting wealthy people; that’s the general solution for the problem of wealth after all.
    * Actually this can be an attempt to avoid hiring managers additionally discriminating against visibly pregnant people. You already know (assume) they’re going to go on leave soon, but at least they won’t get their salary while they’re gone.

  23. I know of quite a few with onerous return-to-work requirements: eg return to your old role and your old hours by 16 weeks or pay it all back.

    Wow that really is very restrictive. And conflicts with legal requirements for a year of unpaid leave (though I’d guess technically legal).

    To sum up: I’m not wedded to government funded PPL, but I am fairly convinced of the need for universal PPL

    Oh I certainly agree with that. Abbott’s proposed scheme probably is the closest to the ideal of parental leave treated as “leave” rather than welfare and since its a general tax on business shouldn’t lead to any hiring discrimination. Perhaps something only a LNP government can get away with (raising tax on business) without a big backlash.

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