January 24, 2014

Horse 1600 - The Commission of Audit's Final Sixteen Items

Before I go any further I should like to point out that I spent most of last night carefully considering my first words for this edition of Horse because I realised that they had to be quite prolific, so then, here it goes:
Welcome to Horse 1600.

“The Commission has advised the Government that while it has made considerable progress in preparing the report, it would require a short extension,” Mr Hockey said on Tuesday.
“The Government has granted this extension on the basis that it is important for this report to be as comprehensive as possible.”
- Sydney Morning Herald, 21st Jan 2014

How curious. The Commission of Audit which is supposed to find 'savings' in the budget and being led by Tony Shepherd who is the President of The Business Council of Australia, has even before it's reported found a way to blow out its own budget.
In 1996 when Peter Costello organised a Commission of Audit, it was chaired by a lecturer at Melbourne University’s Business School, Bob Officer. In contrast, not only is Abbott's Commission of Audit being led by the BCA's President but the Secretary for it is Peter Crone who also just happens to be the Chief Economist and Director at the BCA:
I suppose that provided that you can get a free lunch, a little pork whilst on the gravy train is pretty tasty. In days gone by you could have used words like Nepotism, Cronyism and Plutocracy but mention such things now and you'd be accused of bias. I digress though.

The two main cuts and thrust if the audit will be to privatise and or abolish a lot of current government services. To be honest, business has repeated said that it HATES the government sector in places where it sees a profit to be made. The thing is that I don't see Abbott as particularly gutless when it comes to dealing with business as much as he and the party is owned by business.
However, rather than wait for the The Commission of Audit to report, I'm going to try and predict what it's going to suggest. I have a feeling that the Business Council of Australia probably already wrote the report and if it wasn't then, then the IPA probably did the work for them. Mr Shepherd probably doesn't need to do anything in reality except write speeches for when the report is finally published.
I think that the sixteen main items that Commission of Audit will probably suggest will be to:

- Australia Post
- Medibank Private
- SBS and sell off the subtitling and transcription service
- the ABC, or if not then break it up and tender out each individual function
- the AIS
- the CSIRO
- the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

- The Department of Climate Change, and with it repeal the Carbon Tax, withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol requirements
- Clean Energy Fund
- Commonwealth Grants Commission
- Medicare
- Human Rights Commission

There are other issues which may or may not fall into the remit of the audit but I suspect that they'd be included either in submissions or tabled before other committees in connection with it.
Tim Wilson of the IPA was parachuted into the role of Human Rights Commissioner and so he's probably going to suggest a repeal of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and that would be his last act as Commissioner.
People like Mr Murdoch who want to run the Australia Network will probably want things like local content and media ownership rules eliminated and both the IPA and the BCA will want an end to mandatory disclosures on political donations and abolish mandatory voting in Australia.

The obvious question that arises from all of this is how can I possibly know what savings that The Commission of Audit are going to find before they've reported. The reason of course is simple. Most government Commissions, Royal Commissions and Inquiries are bound by guidelines. It could be argued that these bodies are in theory supposed to be impartial. I ask how that's even possible when clearly the Business Council of Australia is basically running the show here.

If the 2014-17 Senate proves to be friendly and depending on how much of a gamble the government wants to take, we might very well end up at the polls well before the first normal House and half-Senate election date of 6 August 2016. If the Senate does prove to be friendly, then we may start hearing the word "mandate" being thrown about like a truncheon whilst its used to beat us all up with. I wouldn't necessarily expect a 2014 election but a late 2015 election might happen, after the '15 budget has been handed down.
In the mean time, there's sixteen items that I think are in the gunsights of The Commission of Audit, currently standing in the lights like stunned rabbits, not knowing that they're going to get their brains blown to pieces; all in the name of savings.

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