Prime Minister Gillard and the First Week
Prime Minister Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan won the first week.
Look at the indicators. Slipper is performing in the chair. Wilkie is voting for removal of the private health insurance rebate for well-off Australians. So are the Greens. With all the constraints of a hung parliament, the government is continuing to get its program up.
It is also continuing to stay on message: focusing on the economy and jobs. The troubles of a two-speed economy are actually helping Labor. The troubles of the car industry, for example, cast the Labor government as the defender of manufacturing jobs through “co-investment” and “job support”. By contrast, Tony Abbott has to enter his party room and order his team to stop speaking out and broadcasting their differences on industry policy.
Moreover, the Opposition’s three spokespeople were caught with different lines on how quickly they could bring the budget into surplus. I’m waiting for the Opposition to address this question: will they reinstate the middle-class welfare removed in Labor budgets, such as dependent spouse rebate and vehicle fringe benefits?
The Coalition will abolish the carbon tax. The Coalition will abolish the mining tax. The Coalition will find room for income tax cuts…and close a $70 billion black hole.
How? Not the old staples of cutting advertising and consultancies. And not simply declaring that government will be smaller.
Gillard was relaxed and authoritative on the 7.30 Report last night, delivering one of her most persuasive interviews. At the end of the week, she can breathe easy. The Australia Day embarrassment is now behind her, as is the issue of Wilkie and poker machines. The biggest step towards securing a surplus – abolition of the private health insurance rebate – is going to pass Parliament.