Pollies take plum seats
Thousands of dollars in free tickets for MPs, senators, ministers
SPORTS-LOVING politicians have received thousands of dollars worth of free tickets to some of the country’s biggest events.
Government documents reveal Federal MPs are being showered with freebies by sporting and cultural bodies which has seen them secure plum seats at the tennis, cricket and major concerts.
Liberal WA Senator Linda Reynolds, the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, accepted two passes to the WA Cricket Association, while fellow WA MP Steve Irons was at Perth Stadium for Australia’s One Day International.
With the Australian Open due to kick off tomorrow, MPs are expected to flock to Melbourne to catch some of the action at Rod Laver Arena.
WA’s Labor backbenchers Matt Keogh, Patrick Gorman and Josh Wilson have had their tennis fix at the Hopman Cup final where they were wined and dined in a corporate box last week.
Australia’s dismal performance in the cricket failed to deter Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who was spotted at the Sydney Cricket Ground for the first day of the New Year’s Test.
As a junior player he may have defeated Mark Philippoussis in doubles, but Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remained in the commentary box during last week’s Kooyong Classic.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester was given two tickets to Wellington Phoenix’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on December 28, courtesy of Telstra.
Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm received four free tickets to watch the Socceroos and Korea face off in an international friendly at Suncorp Stadium courtesy of online bookmaker Bet365.
As expected, Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie has spent her summer at some of Australia’s best sporting grounds including the MCG for the Boxing Day test.
Senator McKenzie tweeted that the cricket was responsible for “strong economic cultural and social links between India and Australia.”
Musical theatre fan Christopher Pyne received two free tickets to see Mamma Mia in Adelaide valued at $220.
Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowlands mixed high and low culture with free tickets to see Bell Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar at the Sydney Opera House as well as a double pass to the filming of the My
Kitchen Rules semifinal.
NSW Liberal Trent Zimmerman was shouted free tickets to Taylor Swift courtesy of Tabcorp.
Federal MPs and senators have 28 days to update the register after receiving gifts such as free tickets.
THE Federal Government’s re-election strategy will be in tatters if the economics outfit Fitch Solutions is correct and the forecast surplus for 2019-20 evaporates.
It predicted this week that global economic conditions were deteriorating in a way that might require the Government to prop up the national economy with more spending.
If revenues fall and the propping up efforts are required, that would be enough to turn the small surplus into a deficit, especially if the growth forecasts need to be downgraded. The Government is building its re-election strategy around contrasting its ability to bring the Budget back into surplus with the conga line of deficits that built up on Labor’s watch.
Of course, that only works if next year’s Budget actually includes a surplus.
The whole reason the Budget was brought forward to April was so Josh Frydenberg could rise to his feet and crow about delivering a surplus right before the campaign for the May election.
Otherwise the Budget simply could have been delayed, to be delivered after the election by the winning side.
If the surplus evaporates, what does the Government do? It can hardly call an early election, say in March. For a start, it would need to see evidence that the polls have tightened to do so, otherwise it would simply be bringing forward its own political death warrant.
But a March election would also see an overlap between the Federal campaign and the NSW State campaign.
The Government may simply try to hold on to its growth numbers, refuse to inject extra spending into the economy even if it is needed, and use some of the $9 billion contingency fund it set aside for tax cuts to instead prop up the surplus.
The Coalition’s plan has been to deliver a surplus then also woo voters with income tax cuts.
But if it can only achieve one of the two within the fiscal envelope, I would assume the surplus is the more important goal. Or at least it should be.
Having made such a big deal about the return to surplus when announcing numbers in its mid-year economic outlook, Frydenberg and the Government would have egg smeared all over their collective faces if just a few months later, on the eve of the election no less, they had to concede another deficit was in the offing instead.
Peter van Onselen is a professor at UWA and the political analyst at The Sunday Times.
Freebies: Linda Reynolds and Matt Keogh.