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Carol Mills sacked

THE Mandarin reports that the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, Carol Mills, has been sacked. Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate president Stephen Parry announced today that Ms Mills was terminated as of Wednesday. Parliamentary Librarian Dianne Heriot is acting in the role. The DPS boss had been under pressure on several fronts. Late […]

Grattan on Friday / The challenge of budget selling for dogs with bad names

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra A shiver might have gone down Joe Hockey’s spine when he read a report that some colleagues were angry he’d missed Monday’s meeting of cabinet’s expenditure review committee. It wasn’t Hockey’s fault – bad weather had stopped him making his flight from the United States. Nor was it unreasonable that […]

Grattan / More than one elephant in the COAG meeting room

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra LEADERS were all crooning the same reassuring tune at the Council of Australian Governments news conference – about their constructive talk and co-operation – until an angry Colin Barnett declared he must have been at a different meeting. “The elephant in the room is the GST and that’s what this […]

Grattan on Friday / GST and health test Abbott in fractious federation

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra Bitter battles about money hang heavily over the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, though Tony Abbott wants it to concentrate on the less divisive topics of domestic violence, national security and ice. He says these are the issues that concern the public. Friday’s COAG table will look significantly different […]

Grattan / Voters unforgiving of Hockey but give government the edge on economics

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra WITH the May 12 budget potentially crucial for Tony Abbott’s future, a Fairfax/Ipsos poll shows the government will go into its testing selling task with Treasurer Joe Hockey at rock bottom popularity. In a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, only 33% now approve of Hockey’s performance. while 58% disapprove. […]

Video / Grattan on Friday / The wild west presents yet another taxing issue for Hockey and Abbott

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra OF all the states, Western Australia is the one that traditionally has had the most individual and, let’s face it, bolshie, identity. When it has a grievance, the west can raise hell for a federal government of either hue. Now it has a very big gripe and all the indications […]

Grattan / Expelling Martin Ferguson would be a bad look for Labor

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra BILL Shorten should resist the witch-hunt against former ALP minister Martin Ferguson over his attacks on NSW Labor’s anti-privatisation campaign. The idea that the Labor Party should expel Ferguson – which is now to be considered – is dumb. Many Labor members, and particularly union members, are deeply angry with […]

Grattan / A confused start to government’s tax conversation

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra IN launching its national “conversation” about tax reform, the Abbott government is caught between the policy imperative of “leading” and the political requirement of “listening”. A further complication is that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is seeking to wedge Bill Shorten, paving the way to blame him if no real progress […]

Tax paper shows bracket creep is stalking Australian taxpayers

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra THE government’s long-awaited tax discussion paper says Australia has a relatively low tax burden compared to other developed countries but its system faces “challenges from a changing world”. The paper, aimed at launching a national dialogue on re-thinking the tax system, says tax reform “offers one of the biggest opportunities” […]

Andrew Leigh asks when will Immigration’s future be decided?

THE Immigration Department might have joined the ACT Public Service in taking a special day off on Anzac Monday while the rest of the public have to work, but uncertainty remains over where the Department will he housed and Labor’s Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh wants to know what’s going on. “The Abbott Government must […]

Grattan on Friday / Howard and Baird offer lessons in the art of persuasion

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra SATURDAY’S New South Wales election will be seen as a major test of whether a popular leader can sell the public a much-disliked economic reform policy. On the polls – and I stress that qualification – Premier Mike Baird is on track to win, with the Coalition’s position improving in […]

Grattan / Pre-budget battle weapons – a slogan and a slide show

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra PLAYING the slogan game might degrade the political debate, but it worked alright for Tony Abbott – so now Bill Shorten’s launched into it ahead of the May budget. Labor has unveiled its “Mr Abbott. Don’t Pocket Our Pension” campaign, targeting the government’s plan, still not legislated, to change the […]