The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s biggest news, every week. This week, Qantas is accused of making promises it can’t keep, Kevin Rudd’s in line for an important job in the ALP, and the Coalition looks on the bright side of life.
Breaking up is hard to do
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Qantas gleefully announced its partnership with Emirates late last year it was meant to mark a turning point for the national carrier, which has been plagued by industrial disputes and a struggling international arm in recent times. Then came news this week that put its feet back firmly back on the ground. Along with, possibly, some of its planes. On announcing the Emirates deal, Qantas promised the public it would still be able to fly with its existing code share partner, British Airways, to Europe through the latter’s Singapore and Hong Kong services. Unfortunately for Qantas, it appears not to have checked that fact with some rather important parties. Namely, its existing code share partner – British Airways. Whoops. A "furious" BA reportedly told Qantas it would end the long-standing partnership between the two airlines, making the previously mentioned promise to customers impossible. Luckily for Qantas, it seems the story may have been just schoolyard relationship gossip. Some tactical damage control had the airline projecting a rock solid relationship with the British carrier, while a BA spokesman also denied any falling out. Each insisted talks on a refreshed agreement were continuing, in a sign that the only thing more furious than BA was the level of furious back-peddling done by both groups after the leak.
This should be good
For once, the Greens will get their way, with the left-leaning party moving a motion in the Senate this week that, with the support of their great friends in the opposition, will finally see details of the revenue raised by the ALP’s mining tax laid on the table. The Commissioner of Taxation is now required to provide the Senate economics committee with exact figures on or before February 15. Unless Wayne Swan gets to him first, one imagines. The expected result, a big fat zero, will be humiliating for a government that had predicted the levy would raise $2 billion this financial year alone. Evidence from the big miners – the ones that are meant to be paying the damn thing – indicates they’ve kept their hands in their pockets. The government had insisted for months that the commissioner could not reveal the receipts for legal reasons. Now the best they can hope is that Joe Hockey invites them to the party he is throwing on the night of February 15.
Super serious, guys
A couple of polls at the start of the week were bad news for Labor, with one showing government support in the doldrums and the Coalition’s popularity at its highest level since July. But the ALP had a plan: win the hearts of the lower and middle class by taking the money of the rich. Or at least, anyone who kind of seems rich. And old. The idea centred on cutting tax breaks on superannuation accounts which are larger than $1 million. The plan was met with derision from several industry groups, as well as Coalition doyen and former federal treasurer Peter Costello. For a minute there, it seemed like the debate in Canberra had turned to actual policy. There was even concerns that if it continued, there was a chance some politics would break out. As the cries died down, Julia Gillard put an end to the plan when she pledged no tax withdrawals on the super of anyone aged over 60. It was a solid move by the prime minister, and was surely ran past whoever came up with the original plan before it was announced. She’s always been very open with her party when it comes to those important kind of decisions.
The show must go on
The continued poor performance is still not, according to Labor sources, enough for the party to turn back in time and put former prime minister Kevin Rudd in the driver’s seat. However, pressure is growing among the caucus to use Rudd in some way throughout the campaign given his popularity among the public. Hmmm, what is the best way for Labor to capitalise on a very popular former party leader that an election result could hinge on? Well, you probably want him front and centre in voter’s minds. At the forefront of the party, really. In the media, every day, smiling, holding babies. Gee, there must be a job that the ALP can think of to put Rudd in where he could perform all of these roles. Never fear, though. We can be sure that the great minds of the Labor party will come up with something.
A change in tact, then. Recognising that the nauseatingly repetitive negativity which spewed forth from the opposition at the end of last year was hurting both its chances and humanity as a species, the Coalition has promised to steer clear of recent controversies surrounding the government as the two parties position themselves for an excruciatingly long election campaign. Instead, the opposition plans to focus on more positive issues, in a bid to show the public how an Abbott government would be different from Labor. Voters will also, presumably, see a stark contrast from the coalition they have come to know, seeing as such an attitude is the complete opposite of anything we’ve seen from them in months. Despite the pledge, senior Liberal Christopher Pyne has maintained that the AWU slush fund debacle, the Craig Thomson affair and the Peter Slipper scandal will all remain legitimate areas for questioning. So, a purely positive outlook then. Except for all of those negative things.
– Western Australian education minister Peter Collier has called suggestions that up to a quarter of public school students in the state are at literacy levels on or below minimum national standards "fully wronging”. Fully kidding.
– New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has promised to bring up the issue of his countrymen being treated as ‘second-class citizens’ in Australia when he makes coffee for his counterpart Julia Gillard at their meeting this week.
– And finally, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu says there are numerous "complexities" to be considered before the state government will support a bill to help compensate cancer-stricken firefighters. Like, for instance, his apparent complete lack of human empathy.