Politics with Michelle Grattan
Morrison suggests voters judge him as they would their dentist

Morrison suggests voters judge him as they would their dentist

April 13, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this podcast Michelle and politics + society editor Amanda Dunn canvass the fallout from Anthony Albanese’s lapse when asked to nominate the unemployment level and the cash rate.

Meanwhile Scott Morrison, with poor popularity, has drawn on voters’ experience with their dentist: it doesn’t matter whether you like them – it’s about their competence.

They also discuss the strange story of Alan Tudge, who remains in cabinet and education minister, albeit without ministerial salary or duties, despite Morrison earlier saying “he is not seeking to return to the frontbench, and I support his decision”.

Finally, they canvass whether this election will ever turn to actual policy issues.

Josh Frydenberg is optimistic about wage growth

Josh Frydenberg is optimistic about wage growth

March 31, 2022

The tax offset for low and middle income earners (LMITO) will not be extended beyond this financial year, so does this amount to a tax increase for these people?

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tells the podcast the offset was a “temporary measure” that was extended as fiscal stimulus, due to the pressures on the budget from COVID. It’s being removed “now that the economy is normalising”.

With unemployment set to fall below 4%, Frydenberg also says “what we think is going to happen is upward pressure on wages”.

Annual wage growth is at 2.3% but Frydenberg says there’s a “broader indicator of earnings across the economy [Average Earnings in the National Accounts (AENA)] which has been higher than where the wage price index is. It’s expected to get to 5% this year, which is above where inflation is at. That’s a broader earnings indicator, which takes into account bonuses, promotions, people moving jobs and the like.”

 

The treasurer, who holds the Victorian seat of Kooyong, is one of the Liberal members being targeted by “teal” independent candidates running on issues such as climate and the need for a federal integrity commission.

Frydenberg – who is more popular than Scott Morrison in the “leafy” seats – will be used to campaign where these candidates are strong. “I will give as much support as I can to my colleagues who face those opponents.”

Word from The Hill: Next step for Morrison is visit to governor-general

Word from The Hill: Next step for Morrison is visit to governor-general

March 30, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this podcast, Michelle and politics + society editor Amanda Dunn talk about treasurer Josh Frydenberg's 'big spend' budget, Anthony Albanese's coming budget reply speech, a Liberal senator's scathing review of Scott Morrison, and what the parties' key issues will be at the election that's about to be called.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Jim Chalmers on the budget Labor can’t oppose

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Jim Chalmers on the budget Labor can’t oppose

March 30, 2022

The opposition is criticising the government’s “giveaway” budget but, predictably, with the election close, is not opposing its cost of living package, which includes a temporary cut in full excise and billions of dollars for low and middle income taxpayers, pensioners and welfare recipients.

Jim Chalmers is shadow treasurer, and he tells this podcast, “It’s a vote seeker budget in the sense that it’s got a shelf life of six or seven weeks.

"The government is temperamentally incapable of seeing beyond the election, and that’s the difference [with Labor]. I think there was a real appetite in the community for something that said, ‘we’ve been through a lot together. And what does the future look like?’”

Chalmers argues voters will “see through it in the same way they see through the prime minister”.

 

Like the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Chalmers rules out extending the petrol excise cut beyond its September expiry date.

“I’ve said, to be upfront to the Australian people, it’s difficult to see a government of either political persuasion being able to afford to extend that excise relief forever. We’re just being upfront about it because we believe in being responsible with the people’s money.”

He dodges when asked about a Labor government’s response, after the budget didn’t renew the tax offset for low and middle income earners. But the signal is that Labor would not seek to restore it.

“We don’t want to pre-empt decisions that a future government may take,” he says.

“The reality is this government is going to the election with the worst set of books that any government has ever taken to an election in Australia. There’s not room in our alternative budget, even for all of the good ideas. And so we’ve got to prioritise and sequence and make sure that whatever we do is delivering maximum bang for buck.

"This is the inheritance if government changed hands and so my responsibility if I was the treasurer […] is to weigh up all of those pressures to implement our election commitments.”

Sarah Ferguson on reporting from Ukraine

Sarah Ferguson on reporting from Ukraine

March 25, 2022

As the devastating war in Ukraine continues, Michelle Grattan speaks with ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson about her experiences in reporting her Four Corners episode Despair and Defiance – how she was able to capture this story – and her views on where the conflict is likely to go from now.

Sarah and her team presented a raw portrayal of the conflict and its human toll in Kyiv and elsewhere.

“[In reporting] so much of these things comes down to simple practicalities. Can you get food? Can you get a driver? Can you get out? And once we’d got all of those things in place, we were good to go.”

Ukranian officialdom knows how vital it is to get its story to the world. Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy “has understood the importance of telling people the story of what’s happening.”

 

“The Russians actually shelled people during the evacuations and fired on people. […] The Russians aren’t observing the sort of conventions of war where civilians are able to be evacuated. So getting them out and witnessing that was unquestionably dangerous. It was a dangerous place to be.”

Caught in this horrific situation, ordinary Ukrainians can do little but just think “from day to day” rather than contemplate the future. “‘If I can get through today, what is my plan for tomorrow?’ […] The fear of what lies ahead is so grim that the human can’t – you can’t live with that amount of fear. So in order to function, you keep your horizon nearer.”

Labor will give human rights award in memory of Kitching

Labor will give human rights award in memory of Kitching

March 22, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

In this podcast, Michelle and politics + society editor Amanda Dunn talk about Anthony Albanese’s handling of the bullying allegations mounted by friends of the late senator Kimberly Kitching, Labor’s sweeping victory in the South Australian election, and next week’s budget which will contain measures targeting the cost of living, which is escalating as an election issue.

Stay calm, petrol is headed down, budget is improving – economist Chris Richardson

Stay calm, petrol is headed down, budget is improving – economist Chris Richardson

March 17, 2022

Australia’s budget situation has been quietly improving. Deloitte Access Economics director Chris Richardson says the remarkable strength of the Australian economy means it no longer needs the emergency support it has been getting from the government and the Reserve Bank. Government spending fell by a record 10% in the year to January.

He counsels against emergency measures to protect Australians from the soaring price of petrol, saying today’s international oil price implies that in less than a fortnight petrol prices will be between 15 and 20 cents lower a litre.

While there is no guarantee they won’t climb again, the relief that’s in store is half as big as the relief the government could deliver by cutting fuel excise, a measure he says would be like applying a Band-Aid that would be difficult to rip off.

Rather than pumping more money into the economy, the March 29 budget should be withdrawing support in a measured fashion. Although government debt has climbed, low interest rates mean the payments on government debt cost less than before COVID.

 

With Australia just a “handful of months” away from an unemployment rate of 3.5% – Thursday’s February rate was 4.0% - Australia should celebrate its success in getting its economic policies right during COVID. While the reopening of borders will slow Australia’s success in bringing down unemployment, it is unlikely to reverse it.

After petrol prices, the next challenge for Australians will be higher mortgage rates, but they will be going up for a reason, Richardson says, because inflation is climbing and wage growth is climbing, which will improve the budget position further.

Be careful what you say about your opponent’s ‘makeover’

Be careful what you say about your opponent’s ‘makeover’

March 15, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

This week Michelle and politics + society editor Amanda Dunn talk about the continuing "blame game" after the floods, the pressure on the government over petrol prices, the coming weekend's South Australian election, and the PM's campaigning in Western Australia, now its border is finally open. 

Then there's that Morrison crack about Anthony Albanese's 'makeover'! 

Mark Maund on improving our resilience to deal with flood crises

Mark Maund on improving our resilience to deal with flood crises

March 10, 2022

Catastrophic floods have devastated large areas of NSW and Queensland. More than 20 people have lost their lives and Scott Morrison moved for the declaration of a national state of emergency in response to this disaster.

Mark Maund is from the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle. He has qualifications in environmental science, urban and regional planning and project management.

This latest national disaster has seen the climate debate re-ignited. Maund agrees “climate change is one of the issues that we all need to deal with”, but “there are a number of other issues that come into play as well.”

Where “we choose to build our infrastructure and buildings is obviously one of the issues that we need to deal with”.

 

When “we choose to live and develop infrastructure in flood-prone land, then we consciously make these choices that we’re exposing some of our buildings and communities to risk.”

With this increasing number of natural disasters occurring in Australia, Maund says governments and citizens need to ask themselves “what risks are we as Australians prepared to accept and put communities at risk in some of these natural hazard prone areas?”

To better address disasters “we need to improve facilities and services and support for our responders”.

“We need to make sure is that they have the facilities, equipment, training and support when these disasters happen – because they will continue to happen, unfortunately – [so] that they can respond as quickly as possible.”

“One thing I do think we really need in terms of infrastructure is evacuation centres. I think we need places, permanent places, even if they’re multi-purpose that can be used for other service facilities and activities. We really need evacuation centres for people to give them time to recover when these disasters happen.”

“It’s really less about who takes the lead and more about how, as a nation, we come together and really work towards better outcomes for these situations.”

Word from The Hill: Subs, floods and people saying it’s ‘time to give someone else a go’

Word from The Hill: Subs, floods and people saying it’s ‘time to give someone else a go’

March 8, 2022

As well as her interviews with politicians and experts, Politics with Michelle Grattan now includes “Word from The Hill”, where she discusses the news with members of The Conversation politics team.

This week Michelle and politics + society editor Amanda Dunn talk about the government’s proposal for a new east coast submarine base and the politics of that in an election Scott Morrison wants to frame around national security.

They also discuss the blame fall-out from the devastating floods, and the latest Essential poll finding that nearly half the electorate (48%) think it’s “time to give someone else a go” at governing federally.

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