Criticising Swan’s “Broken Promise” is just dumb heckling…













There’s been a lot of carping on lately about Swan’s”broken promise” on the matter of the Surplus.

But after it’s acknowledged that the promise was broken  – HAD to be broken in Swan’s estimation, and that of most of the public, plus most professional economists – what next?

Where does the finger pointing get us? What economic flaw does it fix? None, as far as I can see. It’s a cheap shot, a heckle, pretty obvious and unproductive.

Swan needed to promise a Surplus to give the nation some hope, to try to balance the dimwitted negativity of the Opposition, their business and political allies.

He needed to put Hope supported by cautious optimism on the table, as a counter to the trash talking that has been going on.

And until very recently it looked to be a good bet, until it became clear that for every dollar cut from the Federal Budget, the Commonwealth might lose more than that dollar in revenue.

I am still amazed that newspapers and TV dare to criticise the government’s performance when their own is so woeful. But there you go. Apparently THEY are the experts.

Everywhere I go I see businesses struggling. Many of the proprietors I talk to see little connection between their firm’s performance and the way the economy is being talked down by the right of politics.

This is one piece of political cynicism that can’t be pinned on the government. No “both sides do it” here at all. Why would Labor trash-talk their own economy? It’s the Liberals who are guilty this time, no doubt about it. But why do they do it?

A confident economy is prepared to take risks, to make bolder investment decisions than one which hides with its money under the bed. Why would what Katharine Murphy calls the “putative Prime Minister” want to destroy an economy? In order to save it?

The press buys the “Broken Promise” meme to a certain extent (although its bleating hasn’t been half as bad as it might have been). But what does pointing out Swan’s abandonment of further cuts accomplish?


It’s a simple dummy-spit, an “I told you so.” But so what? He tried, he failed despite giving it a good go. In any case the Budget will be much closer toward being balanced than if Swan had done nothing at all. Not even the Coalition is promising a river of Surpluses now… I think that’s the latest message.

Is whingeing and heckling about “broken promises” going to reconstruct the economy, boost confidence, create employment? Of course not. If it has any effect it can only make things worse by further eroding confidence.

However, the public – after spending two years weeping and gnashing their teeth, condemning the BER and other stimulus programs, bawling that “She lied!” – paradoxically WANTS more stimulus. They are clamoring for an end to the cuts and a resumption of the gravy train.

While it’s not clear that Swan will oblige 100%, and end to looking for savings is a good start.

If anything, Swan’s failure wasn’t mistakenly promising a surplus, but was his inability (admittedly with the cards stacked against him by a bitter media) to convince the public that they were being duped by Abbott’s short term strategy turned long-term economic trench warfare.

Ironically they’re punishing Abbott personally for his negativism on the economy and then punishing his political opponents for not being able to surmount that negativism. In punishing both sides of politics, the public can once again avoid examining whether they, themselves, are not their OWN worst enemies.

Of course the harpies and moaners only do this because they can. Things aren’t THAT bad, in fact things are pretty good. If we were in a real pickle, we’d not be able to afford to complain. We’d be too busy suffering for real. It’s the ultimate irony of this situation, if you will, like a North Shore matron complaining she couldn’t get an appointment for her poodle’s haircut.

Business has become used to the idea that if they take a temporary hit in trading conditions, with the payoff being a reuturn of the Liberal government, then it’s worth the sacrifice.

The only problem is that this was all supposed to have happened by mid 2011.

Any number of things could have brought it about – a successful Convoy protest swelling into a national movement, a No Confidence vote on the floor of the house, the death or incapacitation of a Labor member in a marginal seat, a scandal that caused someone to be convicted of a crime that disbarred them from holding a seat, a defection of the Independents (in particular Wilkie) and (I’m sure) you all have your own favourite method by which Abbott was going to move from Sydney’s Northern beaches to Kirribilli.

None of these happened. The most plausible was death or incapacity, but so far no go. The rest showed just how inept and in the thrall of their own publicity were the Coalition and their supporters. They really thought they could pull it off! Instead they’ve talked themselves into a near-recession.

They didn’t succeed, and the short term tactic where business would take it on the chin for a brief period has become a war of attrition, fought by the same means, but damaging only to themselves. They’re wrecking their own businesses and cheering themselves on for doing it!

“Home by Christmas {2010}” has become a sick joke, except that by now it’s doing real harm.

Crazy, I know, and hard to fathom, but look at what the Tea Party are foisting on the American public. Things can get a lot crazier before they get better. At least we don’t have too many guns here, yet.


Forum posts will be every few days, but we don’t kid outselves that the PB Tragics will stick strictly (or even loosely) to the topic at hand, so don’t get yourselves into paroxysyms of grief if – or when – you stray from the OP’s subject matter.

The basic rules are the same as William’s benign autocracy with one exception. Trolls will be dealt with severely, and banned sooner than William might have done so. One warning only. But as this is just a casually moderated blog for the Xmas season, don’t expect instant gratification if you feel offended.

We’re into free speech here, and anything that interferes with that Free Speech will be excised from the blog permanemtly.

Apart from that you can say what you like within the usual norms of civil discourse and avoidance of slander.

468 thoughts on “Criticising Swan’s “Broken Promise” is just dumb heckling…

  1. As for the paper;s chastising of the govt for “cutting a deal here, severing a tie there” in order to get legislation through parliament, all that does is highlight the opposition for opposition’s sake by the opposition.

    In the Land Of Cloud-Cuckoo…

    Yes, the newspapers run this image of the “:Noble Philosopher-Politician” prepared to sacrifice office at any stage for the sake of principle, no matter how big or small.

    Doing deals is portrayed as politics at its grubbiest. Abbott was prepared to stick to his guns in negotiations with the Independents, and did not thereby attain the Prime Ministership but, refusing to compromise, gained the high moral ground yada, yada…

    Gillard meanwhile… Thomson, Slipper, the Greens… I weep for my country.

    Of course, at the first sign of opposition from anyone, or at the hint of a scandal, Gillard should have immediately resigned and taken the issues to the true arbiters: the public.

    Breaking promises? Ditto.

    The Australian and the rest of the upright bastions of Freedom Of Speech can only point this flawed government out. Alas, they cannot do more than that…. Far be it from them to spruik for one side or the other. They must remain above the fray, scrupulously balanced.

  2. BB:

    If anyone should stand accused of slinging mud and behaving unscrupulously it’s Tony Abbott!

    Meanwhile, this made me laugh:

    A Very Merry Geek ‏@geeksrulz
    Abbott’s favourite day of the year is Boxing Day. The one day where he doesn’t feel like the odd one out. #Pugilist #auspol

  3. kezza2, you will find some comments by John Quiggin, in an article for Crikey about the OECD report, about the privitisation of TAFE and its ill-effects.

    The survey gives a glowing account of developments in the TAFE and vocational education sector, with no discussion of the fiasco that saw the Victorian system swamped with sham providers of bogus certificates and useless courses in personal training, not to mention the savage cuts that are now crippling the TAFE system in most states. More generally, the discussion takes no account of the comprehensive failure of for-profit education in the United States, often seen as the model for market-responsive provision.

    I am pretty sure he has written more elsewhere.

  4. I am heartily sick of the Opposition. We have had to endure a five year long tantrum. In ye goode olde days someone would have given it a ye goode olde spanking by now. I hope the voters do it at the ballot box.

  5. Hey everyone

    Just spoke to Fiona’s husband.

    Fiona had a fall down the stairs during the early hours of yesterday morning and suffered a compound fracture. In hopital.

    She says she’s been a “silly chook”

    will post more detail later
    my son has just called from Europe

  6. All I’ll say is that the Editors at The Australian should turn their eyes away from Canberra and look up the road from Holt Street to Macquarie Street in NSW where Barry O’Farrell’s Coalition government HAS been doing deal after deal with Laura Tingle’s dad’s party ‘The Shooters and Fishers Party’ to get most of their contentious legislation through, with a side order of outrageous gun-based legislation on the side.

    I suppose that’s OK with the OO, or sumfink, because O’Farrell leads a Majority government. Even though he does not have an outright majority in the Upper House.

    Only the twisted logic of a paper run by the minions of a megalomaniacal plutocrat could justify leaving him out of their sanctimonious sermon though.

  7. Murdoch & Mitchell probably justify it by believing O’Farrell is doing the Lord’s work. Lord Murdoch, that is. 😀

  8. “Fiona had a fall down the stairs during the early hours of yesterday morning and suffered a compound fracture. In hopital.”

    Bloody awful news. Send her all our regards, Kezza, please.

  9. PtMD – Dog fun was had last night.

    We went to my nieces place. On arrival I went out to the backyard for a cigarette.
    I was immediately challenged by “Stains”, a small collie with a toy green bone that was dropped at my feet.

    So we chucked the bone around for a while, then once that got a bit ‘wet’, we agreed on a small soft black ball that can be thrown or kicked.

    Dusk was coming on and the black ball was starting to get hard to spot, so next a woman’s regulation size netball that Adam found is just the right for her to ‘trap’.

    Around then Ms Ciara arrived and the door to hiss at me “Are you going to talk to any of your relatives or just keep playing with the dog all night”?

    Adam tells me that I am now definitely approved of, so on next visit I will be required to walk to the Oval with Stains to play with her all time favourite – an Aussie Rules football which of course has an unpredictable bounce.

  10. Some guy singing the Sri Lankan national anthem before the test match sounds like he has a strangulated bowel!

  11. I can’t belive the Canberra Press gallery and their inflated opinion of fthemselves- they decide which are the most important moments of the political year and who are the best parlimentray performers…Like Swan “the world’s best treasurer’is a dud because they think his parlimentary performance is dull.. well boo-hoo I think its more important that his monetrary policy is right.
    And Julia Gillard being dragged off after the Australia Day non riot- has to be dragged back- so they can pointg out Oh look ‘she’s a girl! and wears girly shoes’ Code for she’s not a bloke- like TA and we want a bloke… The misogyny speech isnt rated too highly etc etc-
    Dilusional dinosours…facibng demise..

  12. kezza2

    Oh dear. I suspected something had occurred following Ducky’s ominous message that fiona was unable to moderate.
    All my best wishes for a speedy recovery

  13. Played ball with a kelpie last night. She never tires of it. Never.

    This dog is amazing: can catch on the full, even over the shoulder if I throw the ball over her head.

    Was throwing it from the top deck. Each time she fetched it she’d plod up 16 steps, drop it gently at my feet, then back down the stairs ready for the next ball.

  14. “Fiona had a fall down the stairs during the early hours of yesterday morning and suffered a compound fracture. In hopital.”

    Oh no! What dreadful luck. I hope those bones heal quickly.
    Get better soonest Fiona.

  15. “A compound fracture of her lower leg, I mean.”

    Oh dear. Poor lady. That must have hurt like hell.

  16. Whilst my post is in moderation … How do I get my PB gravatar back?
    Oh yes and I trust you enjoyed whatever festivities yesterday presented to you

  17. No mention of policy, of course, but…

    While Australia’s economy is the envy of most countries, the Treasurer’s performance as a parliamentary debater earned few brownie points {from the Press Gallery}.

    “Wayne Swan is the least effective Treasurer in Parliament in recent memory,” said one senior Gallery figure.

    “The Labor backbench seems to be more interested in discussing the weather than listening to (Mr Swan) whenever he’s on his feet,” said another.

    But while her Deputy struggles to cut-through, the PM is considered the best in the business. Her October speech to parliament – during which she lashed out at Tony Abbott over his alleged sexist attitude – received worldwide attention.

    It was considered the Most Memorable Moment in 2012 by seven survey respondents – while the extraordinary photos of Ms Gillard being chaperoned to safety by burly security during the so-called Australia Day riots also rated a mention.

    Note that all the highs – and lows – refer to government members. The Opposition may as well have not turned up.

    Shorten got a gong for biggest gaffe – for his “Whatever she says…” – interview on Sky, but I’d have given it to Abbott for producing an electricity bill that doubled in cost for the sensational reason that consumption had doubled too.


  18. Of course…

    The Low Point of a year which many experienced commentators are calling the dirtiest in memory was the former Speaker Peter Slipper – and his infamous text messages to his one-time adviser-turned-accuser James Ashby.

    … says Steve Lewis, who manufactured the story in the first place.

  19. So why now is Swan’s surplus issue casted (rightly) as a broken promise, yet the carbon tax promise is a LIE? I dont get it

  20. Sorry for the abbreviated news re Fiona earlier.
    Just got off the phone from the worst connection ever.
    My son sounded like he was talking underwater!

    Fiona has surgery scheduled for 12 noon today; because of the compound fracture to her lower left leg, just below the knee, it was unlikely to heal with the usual plaster, so it plates and pins and the whole gamut.

    According to her husband, she is in fine spirits and sends her love to all here; apparently he tried to access this site last night but reckoned Fiona’s instructions were a bit muddled. Consequently he’s going to update me by email and I’ll post the contents here as they come in.

  21. PtMD – It’s nice to see a little hound is very well looked after. In addition to her toys she has two kennels.

    It depends on the season which one is next to the kitchen door. Adam watches to see where she’s sleeping at season change so he knows when to swap them.

  22. Bought our dog a squeaky toy in the shape of a duck as Chrissie present. Dog freaked out and whimpered for an hour or so, following us around and complaining. This is a very large dog and a very small duck. Pressie fail!!

  23. Oh poor fiona! The things she’ll do to get out of coming to the Poll Bludgers next bash. 😉

    Actually, I had a compound fracture, tibia and fibula, about 3 years ago. I didn’t know what pain was until it happened. I slipped and fell on the wet grass running to get in the car in the rain. I pretty much had to drag myself back up the steps and into the house to await the ambulance as the OH was pretty weak from his leukaemia at the time. He helped as best he could.

    Strangely though, even though it was exquisitely painful, once it was put in a cast and I was dosed up on painkillers I was relatively OK. I guess it must be a pretty bad fracture because I was never admitted with mine, and it was fractured in 3 places.

    The thing that fiona must do, and it’s very important wrt a full recovery and no consequences down the line as far as osteoporosis goes, is to follow the physiotherapists directions to the letter. The thing I found was most important was to get up and about asap, do lots of walking on it and go for bushwalks on uneven terrain to get the ligaments stretching and to keep the joints mobile.

    Actually, that’s what took the longest to repair, the ligament damage. Took a year longer than all the rest to fully heal.

    Poor fiona. 😦

    I wonder if she can has her tablet in hospital? 😀

  24. I just don’t get the widely held belief that Swan is a weak link…although i think its mainly treasury that runs the show no matter who is in power, Swan has been a steady steward of the economy in a time of global instability. He is not as dynamic in parliament as previous treasurers Costello and Keating were which is I suspect where the perception of Swan being the government’s achilles heel comes from. Yet give me someone who steers the economy for long term prosperity anyday over Costello’s short term vandalism for political gain.

  25. victoria

    Sorry for your BIL’s loss. The first of anything without a loved one is always so very sad and does put a dampener on an otherwise festive time for all the rest.

    But, I’m absolutely gobsmacked by your CFMEU and ETU post. I had no idea of the real shite behind the Baillieu govt and Grocon’s ratfinking ways. It needs to be voiced loud and clear.

    The CFMEU is continuing to fight with the Ballieu govt re the right to elect their own delegates on Grocon sites. New aspect of campaign involves the ETU. Some Grocon projects are funded by Colonial First Mutual.

    The fund can access for its investments of 1.5 billion dollars of workers money that is being held in the Constructions Superannuation Fund CBUS.

    i.e. Grocon is using construction workers super to fund its projects via Colonial First State. This is the case with the Myer Emporium Project. The ETU are not amused that their retirement savings are being used on projects which threaten their safety and rights at work.

    That’s the bloody pits.

    Where’s the fourth estate to inform the public. Oh, that’s right. Gone missing. Would rather lie about unionists rioting and punching horses.

    There just has to be a solid advertising campaign to cut through. Bastards always have a way to make money out of getting the truth across.


    Hi there. Yeah had a good Christmas. How did your salad travel in the heat?

  26. Poor Fiona. All her bad stars must be aligned.

    Example of “dog in the manger”. Dog won’t let cats near “his” toy duck, even though he doesn’t play with it.

  27. looking good

    #Newspoll SA State 2 Party Preferred: ALP 49 (+6) LIB 51 (-6) #saparli #auspol

  28. Having a mandatory. rest break. and. saw the news about Fiona
    Absolutely dreadful news .Wishing her a speedy recovery. compound fractres are horrible,
    Home in about 3 hours

  29. kezza2

    The Ballieu govt together with Grocon, is attempting to smash the union power in Vic. There is an ongoing legal dispute with the CFMEU as we speak. The union have to play this smart in my opinion, because the msm always report it from the thugs and riot angle.

  30. I just don’t get the widely held belief that Swan is a weak link…

    In typical shallow fashion, the nobs of the Press Gallery made their decision based on Swan’s “performance” in QT.

  31. kezza:

    Salads and prawns travelled in an esky with ice, and got to my friend’s place intact.

    I’m feeling a bit seedy today though – too much bubbles yesterday and last night.

  32. “The nobs of the Press Gallery made their decision based on Swan’s “performance” in QT”, the Question Times they usually don’t report, good or bad, and sometimes dismiss in their articles as unwatched by the public.

  33. [A Fairfax Media survey uncovered more than 200 Australian intelligence officers who had disclosed their classified employment on sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Many disclosed only the fact they had worked for agencies like the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation or Defence Signals Directorate, but others wrote about specific postings here and abroad, languages spoken, information systems used and liaison with allied agencies.

    Fairfax quoted security experts who described the information as “a gift for foreign espionage, especially through social engineering”.

    Information technology professionals were the most likely to disclose their involvement in classified intelligence work, Fairfax reported.]

  34. Neil deGrasse Tyson ‏@neiltyson
    In Walmart, America’s largest gun seller, you can buy an assault rifle. But company policy bans pop music with curse words.

    “America getting its priorities right” 😦

  35. Had a very good discussion with a close friend last night. He is a retail business owner who was ranting and raving about FWA and its in depth investigation into HSU. I pointed him toward Independent Australia’s in depth investigation into Kathy Jackson, as he was citing the only investigative newspaper in Australia ( the OO 😉 ) as proof of the corrupt ness of all unions. He scanned the site and responded that it shed a very different light on the matter. My little bit of conversion

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