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Rudd has a splurge to tackle cost of living issue

Kevin Rudd spent $650 million today - $450 million in the afternoon for out-of- hours school care, after $200 million in the morning for the car industry. Not a bad effort in a campaign where money is…

Kevin Rudd is trying to pick up votes from families, with new cost of living initiatives. AAP/Lukas Coch

Kevin Rudd spent $650 million today - $450 million in the afternoon for out-of- hours school care, after $200 million in the morning for the car industry.

Not a bad effort in a campaign where money is supposed to be tight. There was also another $23.6 million in car money - this time towards Toyota’s investment - but this was money allocated under the $5.4 billion car plan.

The big dollop of cash for the out-of-hours care is designed as a major attempt to address the cost of living issue, and to contrast Labor’s approach with what it claims is Tony Abbott’s plan to “cut to the bone”. Among his savings, Abbott is committed to scrapping the popular school kids' bonus.

In Rudd’s defence, today’s largesse is already provided for in last week’s economic statement.

Rudd used the phrase cost of living seven times in his introductory comments announcing the school plan, and another nine times in answering questions.

The out-of-hours initiative was just “practical stuff to help families struggling with cost of living pressure… good for cost of living and good for the economy and these difficult economic transitions that lie ahead of us,” Rudd said.

“Wherever I go across Australia, what I hear is cost of living pressures and the pressures on family life in general and this is designed to help families with cost of living pressures and to help deal with the time constraints of daily life.”

Also on the cost of living theme, on the eve of the Reserve Bank’s meeting to consider a cut in interest rates, the government jumped on shadow treasurer Joe Hockey’s comment that: “The fact of the matter is, we should not be in a position where interest rates are being cut because the economy should be growing faster.”

Rudd described the comment as “an absolute clanger when it comes to cost of living pressures faced by Australian families”. What Hockey was saying what that we shouldn’t be in a position where interest rates were being cut. “That is a kick in the stomach to Australian families who are all struggling from cost of living pressures.

“Mr Abbott’s treasury spokesman says you should have higher interest rates rather than lower interest rates. I think it is an appalling statement”.

Hockey also should not be lecturing the Reserve Bank on what it should or should not do. This was ‘'an appalling indictment about how you go about managing a sophisticated $1.5 trillion economy."

The out of hours program would give funding for up to 500 schools so they could offer more flexible hours, including before and after school and during holidays; more places, and new high quality activities including sports, music lessons and “homework clubs”.

The money could see schools open as early as 7am and close as late as 7pm, with extra hours also available to help during school holidays. Schools will team up with outside school hours care providers to apply for the extended hours.

Families who benefit from this non-means tested measure would still be eligible for the 50% childcare rebate – which is worth up to $7500 a year.

Rudd defended the government’s claim that Tony Abbott was planning $70 billion worth of cuts. Asked to point to where the opposition leader had said that, Rudd said that Hockey had announced that number a long time ago.

“They have never walked away from that,” he said, referring to Finance Minister Penny Wong’s recent statement detailing measures worth nearly $69.7 billion. These were opposition spending measures “as well as the cuts they have failed to embrace.”

“$70 billion is an entirely credible number,” Rudd said, again challenging Abbott to have a debate to “explain what the bottom line figure is. What will you cut, what will you spend, what will your bottom line be? There is no scrutiny of this. None whatsoever. This bloke thinks he is a shoo-in to be prime minister of the country.”

Tony Abbott has started his campaign by touring businesses. AAP/Dave Hunt

Abbott had a parsimonious if rather bloody day, when he hit the campaign trail at a meat processing plant in Queensland which he said was under direct threat from the carbon tax. (It was perhaps a slightly unfortunate location for pictures when he is being accused of planning to “cut to the bone”.)

He said he had written to the head of the Prime Minister’s department to say that the first act of an incoming Coalition government would be to prepare the repeal of the carbon tax legislation, repeating a timetable he has previously announced.

When he was challenged over the fact that the firm, JBS, had received $4.4 million from the government to help reduce its emissions and hardly sounded like a business under threat, he said “the fact remains that the carbon tax is a massive hit on this business… as the carbon tax goes up and up and up, the hit gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and rather than get a government grant to deal with a regulatory burden, wouldn’t it be better if there’d been a government grant to actually help this business improve its core efficiency?”

Abbott criticised the government for not detailing what the $200 million for the car industry was for. Industry Minister Kim Carr is having discussions with the industry about the spending of the money.

Abbott said it was typical of the government’s approach that “they just throw tax payer money around like confetti.

“I want to say to the Australian people, I have more respect for your money than to just write blank cheques to industries which - let’s face it - have been very good about using taxpayers money but haven’t always been that good at maintaining production and jobs despite the use of taxpayers money.”

He said the government had given a lot of money to the motor industry and said it was going to create jobs, “when in fact within weeks and months of those announcements jobs have been shed.”

It was “scandalous” that the government couldn’t detail what the $200 million was for. “That $200 million is conscience money for the $1.8 billion hit they have just put on the industry [with the crackdown on the fringe benefits tax]. It amounts to a band aid on a bullet wound.”

He reiterated a Coalition government would not go ahead with the FBT change.

“I think that if the motor industry has to choose between the government, which is offering a nebulous $200 million, and the Coalition which is going to take $1.8 billion in unjustifiable tax increases off you - surely the opposition is offering a better deal.”

LATEST POLLING: Essential Research has the Coalition leading Labor 51-49%.

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22 Comments sorted by

  1. Dale Bloom

    Analyst

    The “out-of- hours school care” may be a good idea if it can be funded, but really this was raised by John Howard when he was Prime Minister.

    It was once done for free when teachers volunteered to train children in sports after normal school hours, but school sporting activities or any physical activities are becoming highly important with childhood obesity now such a problem.

    I have concerns that “homework clubs” will be misused by teachers to hide poor teaching practices duing school hours, and I have yet to see a teacher’s car park at a school that is not almost empty by 4 pm.

    An 8.30 am start and a 3.30 pm finish with time out for lunch for the “working day”, (with no weekend work, shift work, public holiday work, and up to 10 weeks holiday a year).

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    1. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      I love this anecdote from a colleague's wife - and it stacks up pretty well against plenty of others that are similar:

      Their neighbour was moaning about how good teachers have it - knowing full well that my colleague in question was a teacher himself. The colleague's wife said in his defense: "Well actually he was on camp all last week and had to be on duty 24 hours a day." The neighbour retorted: "Oh, but think of the overtime he is getting!"

      For all the Dales out there who haven't got it…

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to John Perry

      I have yet to see a teacher’s car park at a school that is not almost empty by 4 pm.

      I have an enquiring mind and I actually asked a primary school teacher why there were teachers driving out the gate earlier than the students could get on the school bus, and she said the teachers were hurrying home in the afternoon to see the soap operas on TV.

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    3. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      "... she said the teachers were hurrying home in the afternoon to see the soap operas on TV"

      I have never laughed so much. Thank you, Dale. That was hilarious.

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    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to John Perry

      I believed her, but anyone can check out how many teacher’s cars are left in the teacher’s car park of a school after 4 pm.

      I personally would think it a good idea if teachers themselves got more physical exercise, as it may help reduce the obvious obesity problem amongst so many teachers.

      So teachers and students could both do physical activity after school hours, and both would benefit.

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    5. John Perry

      Teacher

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Keep it up, Dale, this is brilliant.

      Says the teacher who cycled home after that late meeting this evening.

      And who cycles to and from work everyday.

      And who counts for himself the number of cars in the park after 4pm because he is generally still there.

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    6. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to John Perry

      I can remember sharing a house with 2 teachers.

      After one teacher had spent a long and exhausting 7 hour day at the school, I watched as they wearily opened their briefcase when they got home.

      The only thing in it was their empty lunch box and some comics.

      They had confiscated the comics from some student, and then brought them home to read.

      So perhaps physical activity would have been better for that teacher also.

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  2. Ben Neilson

    Marine Engineer / Farmer

    I'm trying to find the bunch that promises not to promise anything! Might just count up the promises over the next few weeks and vote for the team with the smallest total!

    Errrrr and Mum's already at school early...usually taking a loaf of bread and Vegemite for the kids who got sent in hungry. Then she's there until late...getting all of the work done that simply needs doing to make sure her kids get the very best duration she can give. Guess she may as well add baby sitting. Might get a few extra bucks!

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Ben Neilson

      Yes Ben, thinking exactly the same thing on reading the opening paragraph or two in that as well as a Fact Checker, we could well do with a Promises account and it ought to also detail historical promises never met and for those that have been met, how they feed into higher costs of living by virtue of taxes and fees necessary.

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  3. Steve Phillips

    Nurse Practitioner

    If Kev could say definitively WHERE the money is coming from I would listen.
    As it stands he is spending money he/we simply do not have.
    I can do that, say to the wife and kids "we'll have holidays in Europe every year and live in a new house with a new car each etc etc" but they know full well it cant happen because we dont have that kind of money coming in.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Steve Phillips

      You have not learnt the trick of forever borrowing Steve to get yourself a debt you'll never pay off and so you can take all those holidays and even when someone comes to turf you out on to the street, just make sure you have a camper van and a car and head off on a permanent holiday!

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Greg North

      Pining for the euphoria of the Howard, Golden Era, ten year long, trillion dollar private debt orgy!
      The chickens, or is it the carrion crows, have come home to roost on that little example of where me, me, me middleclass welfare will get you.
      There will be plenty of cold turkey for some in the inevitable Abbott recession.
      Don't you just hate debt addicts!
      Mooching about, whining, complaining and blaming everyone else for the problems they caused themselves.
      Look Labor is running a deficit, look Labor is funding employment, but all Howard's hollow eyed debt addicts want to know is when their house values are going to skyrocket again, get a capital gains fix, so they can ignore those killer mortgage repayments.
      Abbott's your man, Abbott's your man.

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  4. Leigh Burrell

    Trophy hunter at Trophy hunter

    “they just throw tax payer money around like confetti."

    Quite. Where's the programmatic specificity?

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  5. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " The big dollop of cash for the out-of-hours care is designed as a major attempt to address the cost of living issue, "
    That's so classical Rudd logic in that we'll be raising revenue via likely taxes or even more borrowing with interest for some nebulous expenditure which is supposed to deal with cost of living!
    Who does he think is going to be paying for the cost of the funding?
    I wonder whether anyone might have mentioned what all the added insurance costs will be as well.
    " The out-of-hours…

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  6. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    Michelle,

    You said: "In Rudd’s defence, today’s largesse is already provided for in last week’s economic statement."

    Rubbish.

    It is taken from the contingency reserve, which is there in case of emergency.

    I am happy for you to be rooting for Rudd, even if the man is a lying and incompetent narcissist - each to their own, but please don't lie to the rest of us.

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    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Yes, so busily lying to themselves, Michelle "possibly" doing so is quite redundant.
      What's that floundering noise?
      It is getting rather loud.
      Abbott to the rescue!

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  7. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    Schools to be turned into child care centres.

    Another example of the state nationalising yet another component of civil society.

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  8. James Hill

    Industrial Designer

    The cost of living?
    Anything to do with servicing a massive 1.75 trillion dollars worth od private debt, most of it incurred during the Howard Golden era and facilitated by the excesses of middle class welfare?
    A sizable economic elephant in the room?
    While the enormity of the problem means that people should be careful of where they stand under such an animal, the best that can be anticipated of a policy free Abbott, is that he will be like the scriptural dog that returneth to its own vomit, as Hansard shows a former PM saying of the conservatives in parliament.
    So, contrary to the perceived wisdom, Labor did not cause this cost of living problem, and a return to the conservatives will make it worse.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      James Hill,

      Damn, those insidious Tories.

      I know, it is all Howards fault.

      Like the US, Every single thing wrong is George Bush's fault too, isn't it. Nothing to do with the White House being currently controlled by children,,.

      After all, the ALP has only been in government for six tiny years, every single thing wrong just has to be the fault of Howard.

      Well, Howard and Abbott as well, of course.

      After all, these people are eevviilll, and everything is their fault.

      Absolutely nothing can be laid at the door of these nice people, Rudd and Gillard. They are NOT incompetent. They are NOT wastrels. They are nor fiscal fools who p****d other peoples money against the wall, spending $300 Billion they didn't have, and running out of other peoples money. How anyone dare do something as invidious as point out, well, the truth about them...

      Waaahh.

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    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Was that a genuine display of unhingement or just a parody?
      But Abbott's and Hockey's leadership on that front does seem to have induced a sympathetic reaction in their acolytes.
      It is like something out of The Omen, a singular allergy to the truth.
      Waaahh indeed!
      I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and go for the parody explanation, Chris.

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to James Hill

      James,

      The Rudd Gillard government has been in power for six years, please spare us the ''It's all Howards fault' schtick.

      Not interested.

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    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Come on Chris, "interested" or not $1.75 Trillion of private sector debt is not going to go away as fast a Howard did.
      It is Howard Horrors who must be disabused of following their glorious leader down a similar path.
      Or that GFC staved off by government borrowing over the last six years will be coming through the Australian front door.
      Unsustainable housing debt tends to be unsustainable for some part of the now normal 25 year mortgage.
      Now getting back to Mr Hockey, he has suggested the issuing of fifty year government bonds which will allow those unsustainable mortgages to be stretched out to forty years, reducing the repayments to more affordable levels.
      So at least Joe has been thinking about the problem, while others want to wave it out of existence with their magic wands.
      Yeah, that'll work.
      And it is still all Howard's fault.

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