John Wells, Chairman
Chairman address, John Wells
E-cigarettes, Benjamin Haslem & Alexandra Mayhew
365 Days of PM Abbott, John Wells
Girls at the Centre, The Smith Family CEO Lisa O'Brien
Nude photos and human rights, Alexandra Mayhew
Sacking the coach, Julie Sibraa
Bringing the black dog to heel, Benjamin Haslem
Senate review, Julie Sibraa
Phil Charley obituary, Keith Jackson AO
Bud Burst, John Wells
Digital Terrorism, Isabelle Walker
Clothing our homeless, Carrie Deane
The value of interns, Madeleine Scott-Murphy
The Shell Issue 4
365 days of PM Abbott
The Abbott Government – what’s been achieved one year on
The weekend of September 6-7 marked one year since the Coalition under Tony Abbott’s leadership was elected to replace a largely discredited Labor government.
Tony Abbott ran his campaign around Building a Stronger Australia.
Since the election, the government has worked to deliver on its commitment to the electorate to make decisions that it says are in the best long-term interests of Australia.
This process has not been without its pitfalls. Some of the government’s own making and others delivered by a largely hostile Senate.
The government’s focus has been on building what it calls a strong, prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia. Often you might argue that these are glib statements. You be the judge.
The government’s main focus has been on four key policy initiatives but backed up by a range of others. Here’s the score card:
• abolished the carbon tax;
• stopped unauthorised boat arrivals;
• began a $50 billion roads and infrastructure investment program; and
• abolished the mining tax.
Other significant policy initiatives the government claims credit for include:
• environmental approval to major new projects worth over $800 billion;
• boosting exports and jobs with Free Trade Agreements with two of Australia’s major trading partners;
• reducing Government debt and attempting to get the budget back under control; and
• creating 109,000 new jobs since the end of 2013.
These achievements, the government suggests, are just the start. To mark the occasion the government released a 20-page glossy brochure to trumpet its achievements.
Prime Minister Abbott said: “we’ve faced serious challenges in the past year because of the increasingly uncertain world in which we all live”.
“Uncertainty in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine and the rise of violent extremism has tested Australia, as it has other nations.
“In an increasingly uncertain world, we are determined to keep Australia safe and secure.
“Over the next two years, the Government will continue its work building a stronger economy because that means more jobs and prosperity over time.
“We’ll be building roads, protecting the vulnerable, ending rip-offs, fixing the Budget and ensuring the country is safe.”
While Mr Abbott has taken some time to get into stride as Prime Minister, many supporters argue that he has been confronted by extreme events, which have hardened his resolve and forced him to step up to the plate as a leader.
Certainly his performance as Prime Minister during the Malaysia Airlines disaster over Ukraine, has been very strong and the issues sensitively handled. He has been ably supported by Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister.
Notwithstanding the rogue nature of the new Senate, the government appears to have improved its communication and negotiating skills and deal more reasonably with new Senators. This has helped secure the abolition of the mining tax.
Only time will tell if this new found co-operation lasts and is applied to other significant policy changes.
The government’s major changes at a glance:
Abolished the Carbon Tax
Removed a $9 billion a year hand brake on the economy and reduced energy costs for all Australians.
Stopped the boats
Only one successful people smuggling venture has arrived in the first eight months of 2014. This compared to 268 in the same period last year under the previous Labor Government.
Getting the Budget under control
Australian taxpayers are paying $1 billion a month in interest on Labor’s debt. The government has indicated it is not going to pass on a massive debt burden and higher taxes to the next generation of Australians. Hence its tough budget.
A record $50 billion to improve road and rail links, reduce travel times and support economic growth.
Boosting exports and jobs
Securing Free Trade Agreements with two of Australia largest trading partners, Japan and Korea, with India to be negotiated.
Abolished the Mining Tax
Improving competitiveness and certainty for a major export industry sector, which employs a lot of people.
Helping small business
Up to 10,000 pieces of legislation and regulations have been removed as part of a commitment to reducing red tape.
Investing more in schools and hospitals
The government claims it has increased schools funding by $4.9 billion (37%), and hospitals funding is increasing by $5.3 billion (40%), over the next four years.
Getting the NBN under control
More than double the number of homes and businesses are receiving NBN services compared to a year ago.
Providing jobseekers with support
Restart (payments up to $10,000 for businesses to employ mature long-term unemployed workers), Job Commitment bonuses and relocation assistance.
Tackling environmental issues
The Green Army that Mr Abbott promised has been established. Over the next three years it will facilitate 15,000 young Australians, working on 1,500 community-led projects, to improve the environment.
Support for apprentices
Created Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 for apprentices.
The New Colombo Plan
The first group of 1,300 Australian undergraduate students are studying in our region, as part of the New Colombo Plan.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
Trial sites are up and running and more than 7,300 tailored packages are now supporting Australians with disability, with a participant satisfaction rate of over 90 per cent.