Tag Archives: promises

Swan promises rigorous audit of election policies

Updated February 22, 2013 09:08:51

The Parliamentary Budget Office will be required to release a post-election audit of all election commitments within a month of polling day under changes announced by Treasurer Wayne Swan today.

In a speech to an Australian Business Economists forum this morning, Mr Swan has also promised to release a preliminary budget outcome for the current financial year well before the September 14 election.

Amid an increasingly personal debate with the Coalition over economic credibility, Mr Swan has committed to a funding boost for the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to ensure it has the resources needed to prepare rigorous policy costings in the lead-up to the election.

“Transparency would be further enhanced if the PBO were to prepare a post-election audit of all political parties, publishing full costings of their election commitments and their budget bottom line 30 days after an election,” he said.

“We will introduce legislation for consideration by the Parliament to enable this reform.

“This will remove the capacity of any political party to try to mislead the Australian people and punish those that do.

“It will avoid a situation we saw last election, where the Liberal Party thought they could con the Australian people.

“As a result of the reforms I am announcing, their $11 billion black hole in the budget bottom line would have been uncovered regardless of the election outcome.”

After the 2010 election, Treasury analysis revealed a multi-billion-dollar shortfall in the Coalition’s election costings, although the Opposition described the figures as a “difference of opinion”.

The analysis was only made public because of the post-election negotiations between the independent MPs and the major parties.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has welcomed Mr Swan’s move, saying the Coalition strongly supports the PBO.

“I cannot believe my luck in Wayne Swan calling for sunshine on budget numbers,” he said.

“I mean, he is just the gift that keeps giving in this regard.

“Every single number from the mining tax and the carbon tax through to the budget surplus that he claimed he was going to deliver, every number he’s got wrong and transparency only helps the Coalition.

“It seems as though Wayne Swan is actually trying to get more prepared for opposition than he is actually running the country. I mean, he’s almost declared the innings closed on Labor by going down this path.”

The Coalition has said it would not be able to finalise its policy costings for the 2013 election until the Pre-election Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) is released, which will occur after the official campaign begins in August.

Mr Swan has today pledged to release a preliminary budget outcome for the 2012-13 financial year as soon as he is given a “reliable figure”.

“Treasury and Finance officials last week were clear that a reliable estimate of the underlying cash balance could be made well before the election and we commit to releasing them,” he said.

“This means that the 2012-13 outcome of the underlying cash balance – the most important budget aggregate – will be there for everyone to see.

“There will be no fiscal surprises after the election.”

Both the Coalition and Labor have indicated the economy will be a key focus of its election pitch to voters, although the Government is still dealing with the fallout of walking away from its promise to deliver a surplus this financial year.

It is also coming under pressure to explain how it will pay for signature policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the overhaul of school funding.

“Inevitably, these reforms will involve very difficult decisions, but they will always be guided by our Labor values,” Mr Swan said.

Topics: federal-government, government-and-politics, budget, business-economics-and-finance, australia

First posted February 22, 2013 06:18:50

Cameron promises referendum on EU membership

Updated January 23, 2013 22:33:15

British prime minister David Cameron has delivered a major speech on Europe, calling for Britain’s relationship with the European Union to be redefined.

Mr Cameron has promised a referendum on whether Britain stays in the EU if he wins the next election.

He said a vote would be held sometime between 2015 and 2018.

“The danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit,” he said.

“It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe.”

But before he asks people to vote, he wants to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU.

He says it needs to be more flexible and that the EU needs to address the growing gap between it and its people and its lack of democratic accountability.

“When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum,” he said.

Whether Mr Cameron will ever hold the referendum remains as uncertain as the Conservatives’ chances of winning the next election due in 2015.

They trail the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and the coalition government is pushing through painful public spending cuts to try to reduce Britain’s large budget deficit, likely to upset voters in the meantime.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said the speech would define Mr Cameron as a PM driven by his backbenchers and not the nation’s economic interest.

The move may also unsettle other EU states such as France and Germany.

“It risks being dangerous for Britain itself because Britain outside of Europe, that will be difficult,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio.

Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said he hoped Britain would stay in the EU but insisted membership is an all-or-nothing proposition.

“Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Union,” he said.

“Cherry-picking is not an option.”

European officials have already warned Mr Cameron against treating the bloc as an “a la carte menu” from which he can pick and choose membership terms.

ABC/wires

Topics: world-politics, globalisation—economy, united-kingdom, european-union

First posted January 23, 2013 20:04:27

Labor promises rail line to Ellenbrook if elected

Updated January 30, 2013 19:54:09

The Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has promised to build a rail line to Ellenbrook by the end of 2018 if Labor wins the March election.

The 21 kilometre line would connect to the Midland line and stop at Morley, Noranda, Bennett Springs and Whiteman.

Mr McGowan says it would cost $863 million, excluding the cost of new rail cars.

Both major parties committed to an Ellenbrook line at the last election and Labor has constantly attacked the Premier Colin Barnett for dumping the plan.

The Premier has previously argued there is not enough demand for the line but Mr McGowan insists it is needed to cope with rapid population growth in the north-eastern suburbs.

He says the Government should never have scrapped it.

“Today, I’m here to right a wrong, the wrong that was committed to the people of Ellenbrook by Colin Barnett,” he said.

“[Ellenbrook is] full of people moving in, full of people who need public transport to fix the congestion crisis.”

Mr Barnett maintains the business case still does not stack up.

“Eventually a rail line will go out there as the population develops but at this stage that rail line is not justified,” he said.

“Look, Mark McGowan and the Labor Party are announcing a new railway every day.

“I mean when’s it going to stop?”

Mr Barnett says the Government has allocated $20 million towards improving Gnangara Road.

The Ellenbrook line is part of Labor’s heavy rail proposal, known as Metronet.

Yesterday, Mr McGowan also promised to build a railway line to the Perth Airport by mid-2018.

The 10.5 kilometre rail line, stopping at Redcliffe, the airport and Forrestfield, would cost $731 million, but that does not include the cost of new rail cars to service the line.

Mr McGowan says the airport line is a priority for Labor.

Labor has costed Metronet at $3.8 billion but the Treasurer, Troy Buswell, has previously estimated it at $6.4 billion.

Topics: rail-transport, government-and-politics, ellenbrook-6069

First posted January 30, 2013 15:00:00

Cameron promises referendum on EU membership


British prime minister David Cameron has delivered a major speech on Europe, calling for Britain’s relationship with the European Union to be redefined.


Mr Cameron has promised a referendum on whether Britain stays in the EU if he wins the next election.


He said a vote would be held sometime between 2015 and 2018.


“The danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit,” he said.


“It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe.”


But before he asks people to vote, he wants to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU.


He says it needs to be more flexible and that the EU needs to address the growing gap between it and its people and its lack of democratic accountability.


“When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum,” he said.


Whether Mr Cameron will ever hold the referendum remains as uncertain as the Conservatives’ chances of winning the next election due in 2015.


They trail the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and the coalition government is pushing through painful public spending cuts to try to reduce Britain’s large budget deficit, likely to upset voters in the meantime.


Labour leader Ed Miliband has said the speech would define Mr Cameron as a PM driven by his backbenchers and not the nation’s economic interest.


The move may also unsettle other EU states such as France and Germany.


“It risks being dangerous for Britain itself because Britain outside of Europe, that will be difficult,” French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told France Info radio.


Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said he hoped Britain would stay in the EU but insisted membership is an all-or-nothing proposition.


“Germany wants the United Kingdom to remain an active and constructive part of the European Union,” he said.


“Cherry-picking is not an option.”


European officials have already warned Mr Cameron against treating the bloc as an “a la carte menu” from which he can pick and choose membership terms.


ABC/wires

Topics: world-politics, globalisation—economy, united-kingdom, european-union

First posted January 23, 2013 20:04:27

Daly River bridge promises all-year road access

Posted December 14, 2012 18:13:35

A new multi-million dollar bridge over the Daly River has officially opened, giving some remote Northern Territory communities year-round road access.

The 18-metre-high bridge has taken more than a year to build, at a cost of $24 million to the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments.

Located near the community of Naiyu, about 160 kilometres south of Darwin, it means that, for the first time, about 4,000 people will have access to roads leading out of their communities in the wet season.

Residents of places like Wadeye, Naiyu and Peppimenarti are normally stranded during the summer months when heavy rains fall and the river rises.

Topics: government-and-politics, regional, regional-development, daly-river-0822, wadeye-0822, peppimenarti-0822, darwin-0800

Labor promises ban on ministers trading shares

Updated October 22, 2012 11:40:37

The State Opposition says it is inappropriate for WA ministers to trade in shares, and it has promised a blanket ban if Labor comes into power at next year’s election.

There are reports Deputy Premier Kim Hames has bought and sold 400,000 shares since January last year, while Local Government Minister John Castrilli has also traded in iron ore, gold and uranium explorer shares.

The Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan, says while the ministerial code of conduct permits share trading, it can lead to perceived conflict of interests.

He says WA should follow the lead of the Federal Government which has banned all of its ministers from trading in shares.

“As a minister, you are privy to all sorts of information and it’d be inappropriate if there’s any suggestion that you somehow profit from that information,” he said.

“Naturally, at a state level, there should also be a ban on ministers trading on shares, and if Labor’s elected that’s what we’ll do.

“The time has been reached for ministers to have a formal ban on trading in shares.”

In a statement, the Premier Colin Barnett said the existing ministerial code of conduct provides an appropriate mechanism to deal with any “potential or perceived conflicts of interests by Ministers with respect to cabinet matters,” he said.

Mr Barnett went on to say that it is preferable ministers do not directly trade in shares.

The Premier says he sold his shares when he became a minister.

Topics: stockmarket, political-parties, perth-6000

First posted October 22, 2012 10:46:32

Can the world keep its promises?

15 October 2012 Last updated at 23:06 GMT By Sean Coughlan BBC News education correspondent  Long road to learning: Tanzania has been held up as an example of progress The millennium pledge made by international leaders that all children would have a primary education by 2015 is going to be “missed by a large margin”.


That’s the stark conclusion of a report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).


Despite an initial surge that saw tens of millions of extra children enrolling in primary schools, the report says progress is now “grinding to a halt”.


The report, published in Paris on Tuesday, shows the number of children without this basic level of education has fallen from 108 million to 61 million in the first decade of this century.


It means that since 2000, the percentage of the world’s children entering primary education has risen from 80% to 90%.


It’s a leap forward, but some distance from reaching the finishing line.


“It is simply unacceptable that out-of-school numbers have stagnated, and in Africa have risen,” said Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister and now UN global education envoy.


But he added: “Now is not the time for defeatism and despair,” and called on the international community to “redouble our efforts”.

‘Stagnated’

Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, says the drive for universal primary education had enjoyed an initial “honeymoon period” with strong political backing and financial support.


If that early rate of progress had been maintained, the target would have been achieved, she says.

Unesco education graphic

But at the current slow rate of change, Dr Rose says it would take at least until 2030.


Why has it proved so difficult to provide primary schools? If the world can put a spacecraft on Mars, surely it can build and staff enough classrooms. This pledge on primary schools has now been a target since 1990.


“To a large extent it’s a lack of money, aid donors have not provided the $16bn (£10bn) needed to get every child into school,” says Dr Rose.


There is also a sense of fading international attention, particularly since the financial crisis. “People have lost their interest and turned to other things,” she says.


The corrosive impact of armed conflict and political instability has also been a barrier. And the shooting in Pakistan last week of 14-year-old education campaigner, Malala Yousafza, showed the cultural barriers that remain.


There are also distinct regional patterns below the headline figures.


While many Asian countries have made strides forward, including Pakistan, there has been much less advance in sub-Saharan Africa.


The single biggest number of children out of school is now in Nigeria – with the report showing there are 3.6 million more children missing school than in 2000.

Adult illiteracy

But despite the forecast of missing the target, there are some reasons for optimism.


Many more girls are in school – and in many countries there has been a substantial improvement in the availability of school places.


Ethiopia and India are given as examples of what can be achieved, with “dramatic” reductions in out-of-school children.


Tanzania trebled the proportion of national income spent on education and saw its primary enrolment rate double.


“Overall it’s a story of success. We’ve managed to make great progress, but we must not stop,” Dr Rose says.


There will also need to be a more targeted approach for those groups still missing out, she says.


The report published by Unesco shows how within countries there are deep inequalities in access to school – with the rich many times more likely to attend than their poorer compatriots.


Among wealthy families in African countries, enrolment rates are on a par with anything in the developed world.


But even the lowest level of school fees can be enough to exclude the poorest families.


It’s not only children who are missing the barest of essentials in education.


There was also a target to cut adult illiteracy by half, also by 2015, which the report predicts has little chance of being achieved – a casualty of “government and donor indifference”.


It means there are 775 million adults unable to read or write.

‘Tinderbox’

It’s not only individual life chances that will be lost.


The report highlights the deepening economic problem of the lack of skills needed for employment.


While there has been a focus on getting all children into primary school, in sub-Saharan Africa only 40% of youngsters stay on for secondary school.

Chris Stowers/Panos Despite the forecast of missing the target, millions more are in school. Pic: Chris Stowers/Panos

In countries with large young populations, the combination of a tough jobs market and poor education and qualifications is a political and social tinder-box.


There are huge potential gains for countries that can raise the standard of education, says Halsey Roberts, the World Bank’s lead economist on education.


“Each additional year of schooling will increase an individual’s wages by 8% or 10% for every year that he or she works, so that obviously has a tremendous effect on your lifetime earnings,” he says. It will also bring wider benefits to families and their communities.


“If you look at the experience of East Asia, you can see that education can really transform societies.


“The best way to get across what education can mean for development is to look at an example like Korea.”


South Korea, from a starting point of great poverty, has deliberately invested in education as a route to becoming a modern industrial power.

‘Resource curse’

The progress of countries such as China, Peru and Ethiopia also shows that there is nothing inevitable about the link between poverty and poor performance in education, says Andreas Schleicher, head of education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


He has also highlighted the curious and counter-intuitive link between a wealth in natural resources and a dearth of success in education.

Continue reading the main story Since 2000, primary children without schools have fallen from 108 million to 61 millionHalf of out-of-school children are in sub-Saharan AfricaNigeria has most children out of schoolIndia and Ethiopia made most progressExtra 5.4 million primary teachers neededInternational aid to education in 2010 was $13.5bn (£8.4bn)Further $16bn (£10bn) needed to achieve universal primary educationDonations from US private foundations were 53% to health, 8% to educationThis so-called “resource curse” shows that countries with very little natural resources appear to perform much better in education than those with an abundance of oil money.


The Unesco report says that if a fraction of the oil and mineral wealth in some African countries had gone to education, rather than military spending or lost to “mismanagement”, they could educate their children without any need for international aid.


But was it ever really going to be possible to reach the target of universal primary education?


Clare Short represented the UK when the promise was made at the World Education Forum in 2000 in Dakar in Senegal.


“What’s the point of a target that’s easy to achieve? That doesn’t change anything. We knew we were taking on something big,” said Ms Short.


She strongly defends the setting of the target – and says that it delivered “big, driving change”.


She also puts it into its historical context – coming in a window of optimism between end of the cold war and the beginning of the war on terror.


“The world was looking for something big to mark the millennium – the cold war was over, Nelson Mandela had been released from prison.”


The setting of such measurable goals also represented a battle of ideas in international relations.


“How do you make the world safe? Is it lots of military spending or is it more children in the world being educated.”


So what happens next?


Despite the gloomy prospects of reaching the target, the UN last month said it had secured a further $1.5bn (£0.93bn) to invest in primary education.


Gordon Brown says he wants to “concentrate the minds of governments and mobilise new resources”.


“We know it’s achievable,” said Halsey Roberts. “The question is when.”

Doyle promises free Docklands ferry

Posted October 02, 2012 14:56:55

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has promised to trial free weekday ferries around the Docklands if he is elected for a second term.

The ferries would make three stops on a run between the Docklands and the north bank of the Yarra River under a year-long trial.

Councillor Doyle says people find the Docklands difficult to get to.

“It’s not just about buildings, it’s about people and connecting people,” he said.

“I know the people who live and work in Docklands want a better connection to the CBD.”

Councillor Doyle has rejected suggestions the route should include stops closer to Melbourne’s CBD, like Federation Square.

“We think this is the thing that will work for Docklands…these are the points that people need to move to,” he said.

He says the system could expand if the trial is successful.

Robert Doyle has already lent his support to a State Government plan for ferries between Williamstown and the Docklands in a bid to ease traffic congestion on the West Gate Bridge.

He says the plans compliment each other.

Councillor Doyle is running with his deputy Susan Riley on a ticket called “Team Doyle”.

He has also played down his criticism of his Liberal rivals.

Yesterday Councillor Doyle used Twitter to accuse Liberal stalwart John Elliot and former pollster Gary Morgan of putting “politics before principles,” after they put his team last on preferences.

He says he ordered his preferences on merit.

“That’s how you should do preferences.”

Council elections will be held on October 17.

Topics: elections, local-government, transport, docklands-3008, melbourne-3000

Oil exploration: New petroleum policy promises incentives

OGDC’s major oil and gas discov­ery was Nashpa-2, expect­ed to produc­e 3,370 bpd and 11 mmcfd of gas. United Energy discovered Gharo-1 oil and gas field in July, 2012 which is producing 520 bpd of oil and 0.03 mmcfd of gas.

ISLAMABAD: 

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain expressed confidence that the new Petroleum Policy, 2012 provided significant incentives for the exploration and production companies operating in Pakistan’s oil and gas sector, according to a press statement released on Tuesday. He further said that the companies should take advantage from the incentives offered by the policy.

To reduce the prevailing demand and supply gap, the energy and production companies were successful in discovering new hydrocarbon reserves.

United Energy discovered Gharo-1 oil and gas field in July, 2012 which is producing 520 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 0.03 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas.

Oil and Gas Development Company’s major oil and gas discovery was Nashpa-2, expected to produce 3,370 bpd and 11 mmcfd of gas.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.

View the original article here

Oil exploration: New petroleum policy promises incentives

OGDC’s major oil and gas discov­ery was Nashpa-2, expect­ed to produc­e 3,370 bpd and 11 mmcfd of gas. United Energy discovered Gharo-1 oil and gas field in July, 2012 which is producing 520 bpd of oil and 0.03 mmcfd of gas.

ISLAMABAD: 

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain expressed confidence that the new Petroleum Policy, 2012 provided significant incentives for the exploration and production companies operating in Pakistan’s oil and gas sector, according to a press statement released on Tuesday. He further said that the companies should take advantage from the incentives offered by the policy.

To reduce the prevailing demand and supply gap, the energy and production companies were successful in discovering new hydrocarbon reserves.

United Energy discovered Gharo-1 oil and gas field in July, 2012 which is producing 520 barrels per day (bpd) of oil and 0.03 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas.

Oil and Gas Development Company’s major oil and gas discovery was Nashpa-2, expected to produce 3,370 bpd and 11 mmcfd of gas.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.

Tokyo donors, KL programme: Enthusiasm dies down as world lenders fail to honour promises

So far $1.6b has been releas­ed out of $12.5b promis­ed in 2009. This July 2010 photo shows former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi attending a meeting of representatives of nations comprising The Friends of Democratic Pakistan forum. Pakistan has so far received less than $1.3 billion of the total pledges of $5.1 billion made by nearly 30 countries and international lending agencies. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has so far managed to get just $1.6 billion (12.8%) out of $12.5 billion pledged at the Tokyo donors conference and under the Kerry-Lugar Act, the two major international initiatives launched to support the country’s fragile economy and help it fight terrorism.

The assistance package of $5.1 billion offered in Tokyo for 2010 to 2013 is going to end next fiscal year. The Tokyo pledges had been made in April 2009 on the sidelines of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan forum, jointly organised by the World Bank and Japan.

According to budget documents, Pakistan has so far received less than $1.3 billion out of the total pledges of $5.1 billion made by nearly 30 countries and international lending agencies.

In the first year – 2010, the country received Rs95.7 billion while in the second year the amount dropped to only Rs13.7 billion. In the third year, it came down further to Rs5 billion. For the next financial year, the economic managers have estimated to receive only Rs1.1 billion or less than $10 million, indicating the donors’ conference could not achieve the desired results. The donors honoured only 25% of their pledges and most of these were loans.

Sources in the finance ministry said in the initial year the response was very encouraging, but due to trust deficit the donors started distancing themselves from the government, which is evident from the amount loaned in the previous three years.

Thanking the world leaders for offering ‘generous support’ to Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari, who had attended the Tokyo meeting, promised to use the money to “fight the tremendous challenge of extremism.” “If we lose, you lose. If we lose, the world loses,” he said at that time.

The US and Japan had pledged $1 billion each. The European Union promised $640 million over four years while Saudi Arabia pledged $700 million over two years. Saudi Arabia was the only country that fulfilled its pledge and gave the entire amount, largely loans. Iran also offered $300 million.

US assistance

While promising to address Pakistan’s grievances of the past, the Obama administration convinced the US Congress to pass a historical Kerry-Lugar Act in 2009, promising $7.5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan over five years. Of the total, $1.5 billion was to be released every year.

According to the budget documents, the country has received a meagre $340 million in two years. For the next year, it has budgeted less than $100 million, suggesting that the government has accepted the reality that it may not get maximum from the US at a time when their relations are at new lows. Ideally, in two years, Pakistan should have received $3 billion, but the amount is less than 12%.

However, the US claims that it has so far given over $1.5 billion, but Pakistan does not have record of the assistance spent outside the budget.

In the first year of implementation of the Kerry-Lugar programme in 2010-11, Pakistan received only Rs11 billion against estimates of Rs52 billion. In 2011-12, the government had budgeted to get Rs34.2 billion, but it received only Rs20.4 billion. For the next fiscal year, the government has projected to receive Rs8.2 billion.

Despite the marked slowdown in assistance and strained relations, both Pakistan and the US stress that civilian assistance would not be suspended this time.

After the 2010 floods, the European Union also took an initiative. It offered duty-free access to Pakistani export products for a period of three years. However, the announcement still remains on papers and in an effort to achieve consensus at the World Trade Organisation and the EU Parliament the period has already come down to one and a half years.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.