Thursday, September 24, 2015

2016 Budget -Parliament Over for A Few Weeks and A New Cabinet. Who Knows What Next?

September 24 Edition
The big news this week  has two strands.
1. We got a new PM
2. The US Fed kept interest rates at zero - and upset the markets more than somewhat.
Budget Night was May 12, 2015. It now seems to have been forgotten and in the Press we seem to be hearing just a little more about recession.
The big question will be if we see some more confidence in the whole country with a new PM. Only time will answer that question!
Of course I suspect what will happen next is going to be hard to work out for weeks and all previous commentary may now be safely ignored.
Well at least it is really feeling like it is Spring!
Here is some other of the recent other news and analysis.

New PM - A Few Articles.

6:15am September 15, 2015

What a new-look Turnbull cabinet could look like

Finally got there...PM-designate Malcolm Turnbull with perennial deputy Julie Bishop following the leadership spill. (AAP)
Joe Hockey's scalp is almost certain to be among those on the pile as Prime Minister-designate Malcolm Turnbull looks to form a new cabinet in the wake of yesterday's dramatic spill that saw Tony Abbott rolled as Liberal leader.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is being tipped to replace the much-maligned Mr Hockey as treasurer, despite the member for Cook declaring his support for Mr Abbott shortly before last night's ballot.

Malcolm Turnbull to be Australia's new PM after ousting Tony Abbott in Liberal party vote

Former communications minister beats incumbent leader by 54 votes to 44 and promises respectful, slogan-free leadership style
Government whip Scott Buchholz announced the news that Malcolm Turnbull has been elected Liberal party leader with 54 votes to Tony Abbott’s 44. Link to video
Malcolm Turnbull is set to become Australia’s new prime minister after beating Tony Abbott by 54 votes to 44 in a snap Liberal party ballot and promising the country a new, respectful, slogan-free leadership style.
The Liberal party whip Scott Buchholz announced the results to waiting journalists about 30 minutes after the meeting of parliamentarians began. There was one informal vote.

Malcolm Turnbull era: Joe Hockey’s grand designs end in tears

  • The Australian
  • September 16, 2015 12:00AM

David Uren

Joe Hockey is angry at being made the scapegoat for the fall of the ­Abbott government, believing the economy is doing well con­sidering the headwinds from the China downturn and the end of the resource construction boom.
The Treasurer believes small-business tax incentives in this year’s budget helped fire up employment and retail spending and are contributing to the best business trading conditions since before the global financial crisis. He contrasts the 20,000 jobs being created each month with the 2000 monthly tally in the final months of the former Labor government.
But the big promises made when he came to office — ending an “age of entitlement”, fixing the budget and securing the foundations for future growth — remain unfulfilled.
Joe Hockey set out his ambition as treasurer in a speech to the British free-market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs, in London 18 months before he became Treasurer. The challenge for Western governments was public entitlements increasing to a point where the cost in higher taxes and debt was choking growth.
  • Editorial
  • Sep 16 2015 at 11:45 PM
  • Updated Sep 16 2015 at 11:45 PM

Prime Minister Turnbull must reset the budget process

If the core purpose of the Turnbull government is to create a new mindset for economic growth, one of the most important tasks confronting the likely new Treasurer, Scott Morrison, will be to get the federal budget back on the rails.
It was the political failure to convince Australians that leaving the public finances so entrenched in the red would both frustrate a return to economic growth and leave them without any cushion from trouble ahead, that killed the Abbott government and Treasurer Joe Hockey.
After his Labor predecessor, Wayne Swan, unveiled what he promised to be a mere "temporary" budget shortfall, Canberra is now well on its way to racking up a dozen years of deficits approaching $400 billion in total. While rightly pressing the emergency button on this before being elected, Tony Abbott and Mr Hockey failed to prepare Australians to reduce their resource boom-inflated expectations of what services and transfers the budget could sustain.
Sep 19, 2015

Kicking the Abbott

It is no exaggeration to say Tony Abbott is the worst prime minister Australia has had. To the extent that his brief and destructive leadership of the country is remembered, it will not be remembered well.
Abbott is a prime minister without a legacy. In attempting to defend one this week, he came up with not much: some jobs, a few trade agreements, an infrastructure project, a border protection regime founded on human rights abuses, a royal commission so compromised by bias its own commissioner had to consider removing himself.
Abbott governed for the past and the few conservatives desperate to continue living there. He governed against science and in contempt of the environment. He governed in opposition to social equality, in terror of reform. His was a government of fear and avoidance, a rolling sideshow anxiously avoiding the fact it had nothing to add and no idea what to do.

General Budget Issues.

Abbott v Turnbull: Challenger no ordinary Joe

  • The Australian
  • September 15, 2015 12:00AM

David Uren

Malcolm Turnbull has exploited widespread public dissatisfaction with Joe Hockey’s performance and the belief within the Coalition that Scott Morrison would do a ­superior job as treasurer.
Mr Morrison has won a reputation as a minister who can get things done, both in his immigration portfolio, where he is credited with stopping the flow of asylum-seeker boats and, since the beginning of this year, in charge of the $150 billion social services portfolio. He has built a profile as an economic minister in charge of social services, emphasising the economic goal of lifting workforce participation alongside the social goal of alleviating poverty.
Mr Hockey’s tenure as Treasurer has been marred by the failure of last year’s budget and by a series of unforced errors, most ­famously his comment in support of indexing fuel excise that “poor people don’t drive cars”.
Mr Hockey forcefully rejected Mr Turnbull’s claims the government’s economic strategy was failing. “He has never said to me or to the cabinet that we are heading in the wrong direction,” he said ahead of last night’s ballot. “We have an economic plan that is being delivered and is working.”

Joe Hockey has been a good treasurer with our best interests at heart

Date September 16, 2015 - 7:12AM

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

Defending his record in what may be one of his last days as Treasurer, Joe Hockey told Parliament on Tuesday that the Australian economy was $68 billion bigger than when it had been entrusted into his care.
Without Hockey that result may not have happened. Had the Coalition slashed spending in order to quickly return the budget to surplus as it implied it would, or made cutting debt its number one priority as it said it would, the economy might not have grown at all.
Hockey stood in the way of those wanting to cut spending sharply, delivering a clever first budget that provided for big spending cuts over time, rather than upfront.

Liberal leadership switch to Malcolm Turnbull: Scott Morrison is no Joe Hockey

Date September 15, 2015 - 7:58PM

Gareth Hutchens

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is relying on this fact: Scott Morrison is no Joe Hockey.
When challenging Tony Abbott for the Liberal Party leadership on Monday, Mr Turnbull said it was "clear enough" that the government was not providing the economic leadership that Australia desperately needed.
Things had to change, he said, otherwise Labor would win the next election.
It was a denunciation of Abbott and his Treasurer, Joe Hockey. The attack didn't mention Hockey specifically, but it didn't need to.

Tax avoidance crackdown: 1000 multinationals face tax squeeze under new rules

Date September 16, 2015 - 7:46PM

Heath Aston

Political reporter

'I'm not going to buy into that'

Joe Hockey refuses to feed speculation that he could be replaced as Treasurer by Scott Morrison under the new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Turnbull government expects to raise "hundreds of millions of dollars" from 1000 multinational companies through new rules designed to extract more tax from profits made in Australia but accounted for overseas.
In what could be his last act as Treasurer, Joe Hockey made good on a budget promise, introducing to Parliament a bill altering existing tax laws to target companies suspected of avoiding their fair share of tax through complex offshore arrangements.

Joe Hockey's reckoning: budget outcome $8b worse than forecast

Date September 18, 2015 - 8:31AM

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

Joe Hockey has concluded his first and only financial year as treasurer with a budget outcome $8 billion worse than forecast.
In May 2014 Mr Hockey forecast a budget deficit of $29.8 billion, itself a big step up from the $24 billion forecast by the Treasury at the end of Labor's term in office.
Treasury documents to be released on Monday will show the final budget outcome for 2014-15 was a deficit of $38 billion, a figure well below the peak of $54.5 billion reached under Labor during the global financial crisis, but well above the number first forecast by Mr Hockey and at odds his pledge ahead of the election to "deliver a surplus in our first year and every year after that".

Health Budget Issues.

Doctors accuse Abbott government of delaying health cuts until after Canning

Date September 14, 2015 - 7:17AM

Matthew Knott

Communications and education correspondent

Doctors have accused the Abbott government of delaying the introduction of Medicare changes that would increase out-of-pocket health costs until after next Saturday's crucial Canning by-election.
The government has proposed saving $270 million by changing the Medicare safety net, which covers out-of-hospital services such as in vitro fertilisation, specialists, and some pathology and diagnostic imaging services.
The increased thresholds, due to come into effect in January 2016, mean patients would need to spend more on out-of-pocket medical expenses to become eligible for additional Medicare benefits.

Medicare review chief says 30pc of treatments of little benefit

  • The Australian
  • September 16, 2015 12:00AM

Sean Parnell

A quarter of the services listed on the $21 billion Medicare Benefits Schedule do not appear to be supported by evidence, while about 30 per cent of all healthcare treatments would be of little benefit to patients, ­according to the head of a federal government taskforce.
Bruce Robinson, the dean of the Sydney Medical School chosen to lead the Medicare review, told The Australian significant changes would be ­required for the 5500 items on the MBS if the health budget were to become sustainable and the health system more responsive.
Finalising a discussion paper yesterday, Professor Robinson said the taskforce had an opportunity to convert the MBS from an administrative and accounting system to a clinical tool powerful enough to influence how patients are tested, referred and treated.

How bulk-billed healthcare payments reward quantity, not quality of treatment

Date September 16, 2015 - 9:00PM

Vlado Perkovic

With rampaging overall health spending in a system which is geared for quantity over quality, perhaps it is time for change.
Take this example. Mr Jones is a 50-year-old man who goes to see his GP about back pain. He is overweight, smokes, does no regular exercise and has had back pain on and off for a few years. It worsened after some gardening, hence the visit. His doctor has a cursory look at his back and gives him a form for an X-ray and advice to take painkillers.
Within six minutes, the consultation is over, the fee is bulk-billed, with the patient happy that he is not out of pocket, but returns in a week to discuss the results of the X-ray.
The taxpayer has paid for the consultation and the X-ray – a test that is not recommended for uncomplicated back pain - and the patient has received an ineffective therapy. The pain returns a few weeks later after another bout of gardening.

Medicare review placates AMA by agreeing to stagger changes

  • The Australian
  • September 17, 2015 12:00AM

Sean Parnell

The powerful Australian Medical Association has won an early concession out of much-anticipated Medicare reforms, with the head of a review taskforce agreeing that recommended changes should be staggered to protect doctor and practice incomes.
The Australian revealed yesterday that Bruce Robinson, who is heading the review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, believed that a quarter of the services listed on the $21 billion MBS were not supported by evidence, while about 30 per cent of all healthcare treatments would be of little benefit to patients.
Professor Robinson, the dean of the Sydney Medical School, said a properly focused MBS could become a clinical tool powerful enough to influence how patients were tested, referred and treated.
The review, and an accomp­any­ing primary practice review, were announced by the government after it scrapped the second version of its unpopular GP co-payment. At the time, Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government­ would reconsider its freeze on Medicare rebates if stakeholders helped find suffic­ient savings elsewhere.

Sussan Ley tipped to remain as health minister

Paul Smith | 15 September, 2015 |
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley is expected to keep her job in the wake of Monday night's political bloodbath.
Tony Abbott was ditched as Prime Minister by his party MPs last night and replaced by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull who is now tasked with appointing a new cabinet in the coming days.
Ms Ley has managed to neutralise health as a hot political issue following the turbulent tenure of her immediate predecessor Peter Dutton and his disastrous push for GP co-payments.

Pharmacy Issues.

Penalty rates under siege

14 September, 2015 Chris Brooker 
Leading pharmacy owners say their service to the public is being hindered by “egregious” Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.
In a series of submissions to the Fair Work Commission’s review of modern award penalty rates, pharmacy owners have outlined the impact of penalty rates on their opening hours, customer services and ultimately to health outcomes.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia is asking for a series of changes to the current Pharmacy Industry Award 2010 penalty rate regime including:
  • Removing the current 25% loading for permanent employees and 50% loading for causal employees work performed between 7pm and 9pm on Monday to Friday. They also want to reduce by 25% the loading from 9pm to midnight.
  • Halve the loading from 9pm to midnight on Saturday (from 100% to 50% for permanent employees with a 25% reduction for casuals).
  • Institute an across the board 50% loading for Sunday work, replacing the current 100% loading for permanent employees and 125% for casuals.
It is going to be very interesting to see what happens to the polls and consumer confidence over the next 2-3 months with the present market chaos. I hardly see it improving in the short term.

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