Wayne Swan’s recent diatribe in The Monthly about the evils of mining billionaires would have been comical, a nostalgic trip back to the class war caricatures of the 1890s, were he not Treasurer of Australia.
Had Mr Swan been truly interested in talking about maintaining a vibrant, high income economy, he would have focussed on what the high dollar is doing to many domestic industries; how convergence is making previously shielded industries, like retail, trade-exposed; or how technology is reducing the demand for labour.
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In my response to Mr Swan’s essay published in the Australian Financial Review today (available online here), I wrote about the vast structural changes our economy is undergoing and the challenges they present to maintaining growth in middle incomes in a developed economy like ours.
And as for vested interests? Well, as I point out in the AFR, it is the job of Governments to defend the national interest against vested interests – and Swan’s track record, whether it is the miners or the pubs and clubs, has been one of buckling to vested interests.
Last year in an effort to have a whack at News Ltd the Government set up an inquiry into the news media. The Finkelstein report has now been published recommending the establishment of a News Media Council to regulate all media including blogs and newspapers.
On behalf of the Coalition, I rejected that recommendation (the only one of the Report) – on my blog and on Lateline – emphasising that we believe in a free and diverse media. Increasing government regulation of news media is neither necessary nor desirable in a free society in which the news media, and journalists, play as essential a role as do legislators like myself.
Regrettably I was obliged to publish a detailed rebuttal of the IPA’s John Roskam, for a very misleading op-ed in the Australian Financial Review, about the Coalition’s position.
Launch of Community of Schools in the Eastern Suburbs
Bondi Pavilion provided relief from the downpour to host the launch of Cosies (Community of Schools in the Eastern Suburbs). Cosies is a partnership of the 13 public schools in the Wentworth electorate, joining together to share knowledge, resources and expertise for both cultural and academic enrichment.
Gabrielle Upton, Member for Vaucluse and Parliamentary Secretary for Tertiary Education, and I were thrilled to join Principals and Deputies from all schools, P&C members, parents and students at the launch,.
The ceremony was led by Michelle Tye, School Captain of Rose Bay Secondary College and the very able Joshua King, a Year 1 student from Bronte Public School, standing on a block beside her. Costa Georgiadis, the new host of Gardening Australia and a former student of Rose Bay Public School, revved the room up by handing out freshly grown vegetables. His passion for locally grown food is finding a new outlet in the Cosies program.
Wentworth Veterans’ Forum
My good friend and colleague, Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Michael Ronaldson, recently visited the electorate to talk with veterans at Club Bondi Junction about how to improve the delivery of vital Government services.
The youngest World War II veterans are now in the 80s and we have a strong responsibility to look after the members of the ‘Greatest Generation’ who did so much for this country. Senator Ronaldson fielded a range of questions and shared his ideas for ensuring the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is more responsive to the needs of our veterans.
Visit a photo gallery of the event here; or watch a video of Senator Ronaldson talking about his visit:
Welcoming our Newest Australians
One of the best things about being a member of parliament is attending citizenship ceremonies and welcoming our newest citizens.
This Australia Day I was able to welcome new citizens at both Woollahra and Waverley Councils’ ceremonies. The Woollahra ceremony was on the evening of January 25 and Waverley was on Australia Day itself.
As always I felt honoured that so many people had chosen to become Australian citizens. After all, like most of us I came into the world as an Australian citizen, but the people who became Aussies on Australia Day had all made a conscious decision to choose to join the Australian family. There was no need for them to do so; all of them no doubt could continue living here all their lives without becoming a citizen. So in making choice they honoured all of us and Australia. Thank you!
An Unlikely Unity Ticket for Ovarian Cancer
Recently I joined with MPs and Senators (including my NBN sparring partner Stephen Conroy) to attend a breakfast hosted by Ovarian Cancer Australia as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and of course Teal Ribbon Day.
Ovarian Cancer Australia is launching a new programme to support ovarian cancer sufferers aptly named “Resilience” – and details are on their website.
There were many brave women at the breakfast who had battled with ovarian cancer. One of them, Paula Benson, is the chairman of Ovarian Cancer Australia and also Stephen Conroy’s wife, and she spoke powerfully of her experience and of the need for better support for women who have suffered from ovarian cancer.
February was Ovarian Cancer Awareness month but it is still very worthwhile to visit http://www.ovariancancer.net.au and find out what you can do to help their research and support programs.
Recent Speeches and Writings
I recently launched Eric Knight’s book on economics, Reframe. I addressed the Young Liberals’ Conference on the continuing importance of thise values our party holds dear: Self-reliance and enterprise; personal freedom and personal responsibility; opportunity and competition.
In my portfolio, I gave a speech on the future of media and the importance of Governments not strangling innovation by over-regulating the industry. I also spoke on Labor’s lack of transparency in tendering the universal service obligation for telecommunications services.
I wrote on Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson’s speech, which highlighted a key argument for a sovereign wealth fund. I responded to Herald Sun columnist, Terry McCrann, who resorted to dumb slogans rather than rational debate in arguing against a sovereign wealth fund.
Podcasts and Video
I spoke to ABC’s Lateline on the importance of the freedom of the press, following the Finkelstein report and congratulated the ABC on its appointment of Former NSW Chief Justice Jim Spigelman as its new chairman.
I campaigned with Campbell Newman in Brisbane for the upcoming Queensland elections and told Brisbane’s 4BC why he’s the best placed to run the state.
I gave a speech at the NSW Art Gallery on art and innovation, coinciding with its wonderful Picasso exhibition.
I spoke with Sky News on the NBN’s decision to buy two new satellites for more than $600 million rather than proceeding with a more rational and cost effective approach of leasing capacity.
And spoke with 7.30’s Chris Uhlmann on our approach to delivering fast and affordable broadband to rural Australia.