Today was about debates. First the Treasurer's debate at the National Press Club, and then the Leaders debate at Rooty Hill.
Prior to the Treasurer's debate Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb realised some of their savings. The $31 billion worth came out not in the PBO official costings format but the Libs’ own version.
I’d much prefer to see the actual PBO document like the Greens have been more than happy to display, there does however seem to be a bit of argy bargy over the savings of the 12,000 reduction in the public service, with the ALP claiming they have a PBO costing that suggests 20,000 fewer public servants would save the amount the Libs are claiming for 12,000. There were reports that today the ALP would release these costings, but I have yet to see them anywhere.
Moreover I largely agree with Laura Tingle in the AFR that this is not the biggest issue:
While Labor continued to suggest that there was something dodgy about the numbers because the Coalition hasn’t released the detailed Parliamentary Budget Office costings documents, it would really be better off moving on to argue the substance of the policy differences. There is nothing to suggest that it will find the sorts of holes in these numbers that Treasury and Finance found in the Coalition’s 2010 costings.
The problem is I don’t know if the ALP leadership is up to the task. They haven’t even thought to point out that while Abbott is pledging to have the Productivity Commission to look into child care, his PPL scheme was given the thumbs down by the Productivity Commission.
Instead we get dopey lines about “$75,000 payments for a billionaire to have a baby”.
The Treasurer's debate didn’t really reveal anything. To be honest I can’t even remember muc of it now.
Joe Hockey is apparently a glass-0half full kind of bloke, which is kind of odd given the past 5 and half years he’s been screaming that the glass is fricken empty.
Chris Bowen was Chris Bowen.
He had one good line which appropriated the old Keating line about the GST of “if you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it, because if you did, you’d never vote for it” (it has also been stolen by Tony Abbott to attack the carbon tax.
Bowen said, “If you don't know where the opposition will cut, then don't vote for them. Because if you did, you never would vote for them”
What this all means I think is we need more Keating in this election campaign.
The Rooty Hill Leaders debate actual contained some new policy!
Tony Abbott contradicted both Peter Dutton in yesterday’s Health debate and himself a week ago, when during the debate tonight he said that no Medicare Local would be closed.
Six days ago he said this:
There will be a review and the object of the review will be to try to ensure that we maintain the actual health services that are being provided by Medicare Locals while minimising the bureaucracy associated with them. Now, can I say that absolutely no Medicare Local will close? I'm not going to say that…
So that’s nice to know.
I wonder if it falls under the category of “sometimes, in the heat of discussion, you go a little bit further than you would if it was an absolutely calm, considered, prepared, scripted remark”
Kevin Rudd meanwhile suddenly morphed into Bob Katter and decided we needed to be cautious about foreign investment. Bizarre.
This is the standard of our campaign. Making it up on the run to get agreeing nods from people in a western Sydney RSL
Both leaders also pledged to honour their election promises even if it meant pushing of a surplus till later.
In the last debate Tony Abbott was accused of trying a “There’ you go again” moment when he said, “Does this guy ever shut up?” Tonight he decided to just steal the line completely and said at one point in a very over rehearsed attempt to appear unrehearsed “There he goes again.”
Well I’m sorry Tony Abbott, you are no Ronald Reagan:
I was waiting for Abbott to say “Mr Rudd, tear down this carbon tax”. Alas it was not to be.
Anyway, the debates were irrelevant. Watched only by tragics and rusted on voters.
Meanwhile I wonder if now the Essendon issue is over whether Melbourne voters will realise there is an election happening?
I won’t be posting for the next couple days because I’m doing things at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Tomorrow night I”m on the Radio National “Politics in the Pub”. It’s hosted by Jonathon Green and I’ll be on a panel with Corinne Grant and John Safran. The show starts at 8pm EST, so tune in to listen to me attempt to be not too lame.