Budget 2015: the definitive best guaranteed accurate winners and losers

Budgets are complicated documents in which a multitude of complex changes to expenditure and taxation are delivered in one go. It’s for this reason that media organisations helpfully break the detail down into concise lists, usually with groovy little graphics like these ones.

I read every single one of the 93 winners and losers lists published by the Australian media on budget night to bring you this, the most definitive list of all.

Which I suspect makes you the winner and me the loser.

WINNER: Adelaide

Joe Hockey said that this was “a budget for a start‑up business in Adelaide”, which is fabulous news for whoever owns it. There will undoubtedly be more, as the City of Churches is inundated by froyo shops.

LOSERS: Backpackers

Travellers on working holidays visas will no longer have access to the tax-free threshold that’s available to Australian residents, so they’ll have to pay income tax on all of the non-cash-in-hand income they almost never earn.

WINNERS: Small business

Assets worth less than $20,000 will be able to be deducted immediately. There will also be lots of work for accountants, as the threshold of $2 million will see all major Australian businesses restructured into related entities with turnover of $1,999,999.99.

LOSER: Apple

The US device maker is being targeted, along with 29 other multinationals, in an attempt to bypass its complex tax minimisation and profit-shifting measures. Fortunately, any increased tax it pays will be more than offset by the deluge of small business owners buying tax write-off iPads.

WINNERS: Smash repairers

Not only will they be able to invest in new equipment, but there’s a bonanza on the way from all the small business owners who misunderstand Hockey’s invitation to go out and write off their assets immediately.

LOSERS: Expats

They’ll now have to pay back the HECS they’re using their degrees to earn money in London or New York instead of here. And if they don’t pay it, presumably we’ll seize the sweet little apartment they bought themselves with the first home owner’s grant. That’ll teach you to abandon Australia, brain-drainers. Or to leave to get educated even earlier.

WINNER: Netflix

Sure, customers will have to pay an extra 90c a month to use their service, but does anyone really think that’ll make any difference when figures published this week say that their market share’s already ahead of Foxtel’s? After all, they have Orange Is The New Black, while their local competitors may discover that their new black is red.

LOSER: Indonesia

Along with our ambassador, we just recalled 40% of our aid, presumably because if the country can afford to send air force jets to escort a handcuffed pastor and painter from one prison to another, they don’t need so much of our help any more. Although we might want to pay for Joko Widodo to get an answering machine, so he can do a better job of returning Tony Abbott’s calls. That said, phones have been a contentious subject in recent years.

WINNERS: Waterslide lovers

The Treasurer promised an “immediate tax deduction for new investment in water facilities”, which we can only hope inspires the construction of dozens of aquatic theme parks right across the country.

LOSER: Anti-vaxxers

Their childcare payments will be reduced unless their kids are inoculated, although if their approach to the science of mathematics is the same as their approach to the established science on vaccination, they might not actually notice.

WINNER: Hockey Real Estate

The Treasurer mentioned how his family’s family real estate agency “put a roof over our heads” and “gave all of the family a chance at a better life”. No doubt the whole country was listening, and thinking hey, why not ask the Hockeys to put a roof over our heads too? No word on whether you get a cigar for a successful transaction.

LOSER: Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey

Do you remember that guy, who said things like “[Wayne Swan] wants you to believe he can deliver a Budget surplus, but as each day goes by there’s increasing doubt that he ever will (2011)” and “Labor’s planned return to surplus is not credible and presents a potential black hole in future Budgets (2013)”? Being unable to resisting the direction of the global economy seems far more forgivable when you’re on the Treasury benches.

WINNER: Northern Australia

$5bn of loans will be made available for anybody who wants to build a port or other major infrastructure up there. Which is presumably the government saying it can’t be bothered, because it’s just so incredibly hot and humid up there – but sure, knock yourself out, Gina et al.

LOSER: Bill Shorten

Last year’s budget was so unpopular that Bill Shorten went on a months-long spree in the polls. But now the government has remembered that it needs to make people like it to win re-election, so it’s been doling out money to the voters whose support it needs, the way John Howard used to. Which means Bill Shorten’s job just got a whole lot harder than it was when he was ahead in the polls as a proxy for “anyone else”.

LOSER: Bill Shorten again

This time because it was his birthday on budget night. Seriously, who wants to spend their birthday wading through financial documents? (Well, Albo would have been up for it, but that’s still an awkward subject.)

WINNER: Joe Hockey

After the criticism he’s weathered from the media, the pollsters and even some of his colleagues over the past year, it’s a huge triumph for him even to be delivering this budget – even though Scott Morrison got to sell the most attractive bits. Nobody can say that Joe didn’t follow his own advice and have a go, even if some of his colleagues ultimately conclude he has to go.

Charlotte Elizabeth Diana: what’s in a Royal Name?

Congratulations to his current Royal Highness and future Britannic Majesty William, Duke of Cambridge, Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus, and future king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, the fifth of his name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, on the birth of his daughter!

And of course congratulations also to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who seems to have handled matters ever so well for a commoner. She is now Mother of Heir and Spare, having admirably prolonged the House of Windsor into yet another generation, unlike newfangled dynasties like the House of Cards, which sank into mediocrity in only its third year.

Especial congratulations too to the family on the choice of the child’s name, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge. It’s a fine choice, full of heraldic significance. A name befitting a princess, really, which is lucky, because unlike your computer-animated Disney versions, this is an actual, proper princess, with access to castles and everything.

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I was a high school debating geek

debatingIn my youth, I was not the flabby, docile creature you see in the little photo atop this page. I was a warrior. I trained at least once a week, often more, and went into battle each weekend to defend what was right. I would dispatch my enemies with scornful panache, and sometimes facts gleaned from The Economist. For I was a high school debater.

A flabby, docile debater, admittedly.

Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, here’s how it went down. On Fridays, I donned my foppish debating tie, which boasted purple and white stripes for reasons I’m still unable to comprehend, and hung around for hours after school, supposedly reading up on current affairs but in fact tackling the all-you-can-eat record at the local Pizza Hut.

Then, as night fell, we would either drive off to another fancy school or welcome them to our fancy school, so the Games, or at least the Talking, could Begin. Continue Reading →

Thirsty for a ‘Straya less obsessed with booze

Controversy has always come to Shane Warne as effortlessly as that cheeky grin and those huge leg breaks. Last night, the genius spinner who can get himself into trouble with nothing more than a mobile phone and his own legendary libido managed to cast an idiosyncratic shadow over the moment when his former teammates won their first-ever home World Cup.

Mark Taylor often does the on-field interviews on Nine’s Wide World of Sports, and tends, boringly, to ask his fellow cricketers about the game. Not our Warnie. All he wants is to ascertain their level of thirst.

And we aren’t talking about thirst as a metaphor for desire to win. We’re talking about the consumption of liquid, and not the sort that gets brought onto the ground on a little cart shaped like a giant bottle. At Warnie’s journalism academy, all that matters is the likelihood of a cricketer smashing a Boonyesque number of tinnies to celebrate. Continue Reading →

Why I’m a fan of Game of Thrones, and not fantasy

I always hated He-Man. An action figure that time has largely forgotten, he – sorry – ‘He’ was the lord of Castle Grayskull, and spent the 1980s battling Skeletor, whom he always defeated, and irrelevancy, which ultimately vanquished him.

The other boys in my primary school collected He-Man much as they collected head-lice, but I always despised his page-boy blonde haircut and bulging muscles. His appearance would have reminded me of Clive James’ famous description of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a ‘condom full of walnuts’ if I’d known what a condom was at the age of eight.

I mention He-Man not just to pat myself on the back for rejecting plasticised machismo early in life, but because that’s where my lifelong antipathy towards fantasy literature began. While many of my sweaty teenage boy classmates spent their lunch hours swapping Magic: The Gathering cards and rolling AD&D dice with an unfeasibly large number of sides, I was never interested. Continue Reading →

We should care more about state politics

Wait, don’t stop reading! Let’s forget I said “state politics”, and instead said “delicious snacks”

We treat state politicians vendors of delicious snacks as though they were mediocre players in an amateur theatre production – the Woop Woop Players doing A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Legislative Assembly, or, given the penchant for bloodshed in politics today, perhaps Hackbeth.

And fair enough, too – in recent years, when they’ve made the news, it’s usually because of some scandal that made state pollies seem dodgy, or hopeless, or in many cases, hopeless at being dodgy. Continue Reading →

The mere competence of Guy Sebastian

When the decision was announced this morning, it had the daggy inevitability of a zinger at a Bill Shorten press conference. Inexplicably ignoring my helpful list of suggestions for an interesting, unexpected option like Prince Philip, SBS has opted for Guy Sebastian as our Eurovision representative.

Well, of course they did. They had only a few weeks to decide, which didn’t allow them enough time to conduct the traditional selection process, so instead they chose somebody who had already been anointed by an excruciatingly drawn-out reality TV talent contest, as they did last year when Jessica Mauboy performed at the semi-final. Jess’n’Guy are both pleasant people who are household names, which means that everyone’s mum knows who they are, even if they couldn’t name a song.

Guy Sebastian ticks all the boxes, if you’re the kind of person who likes making decisions by ticking boxes instead of coming up with an idea that gets everyone excited. I presume that the decision was made by a large committee piling into the SBS boardroom and throwing around ideas, until all the interesting suggestions got vetoed and they arrived on a consensus that the management team would sign off on.

I can’t imagine that anyone in the room had a burning desire to showcase the music of Guy Sebastian to the world, but nor can I imagine that anybody objected to him. Because you really can’t. Objecting to Guy Sebastian is like objecting to the offer of a nice cup of tea. Continue Reading →

Of strangers and dogs

Nowadays, people often smile at me when I’m walking down the street. I make an effort to smile back, naturally, because I assume they’re readers, awestruck by the shock of seeing someone they admire so much on the street right in front of them. Or maybe they’re trying to play it cool, and subtly acknowledge that they definitely know who I am even though they don’t want to make a fuss. That’s fine. They know, and I know, and a smile is enough.

Occasionally they’ll say something like “So cute”, which is totally unnecessary, but, hey, that’s their opinion, and of course I’m flattered.

Recently, though, I’ve started to realise that these random expressions of admiration tend to happen only at certain times, and are immediately followed by an admiring look downwards. And while I have excellent taste in footwear, I have to acknowledge that it’s not me. It’s the dog. Continue Reading →

Some real vision for Australia’s Eurovision

As of today, Tony Abbott has a fresh global accomplishment to chalk up alongside his three free trade agreements and whatever is happening with those submarines.

This year, Australia will be allowed to compete in Eurovision in honour of the song contest’s 60th anniversary – despite the country being thousands of kilometres away from Europe, and further away still in terms of musical taste.

We are the only ones being so honoured, presumably in reflection of the great loyalty we have displayed by watching in large numbers each year. I can only imagine the Eurovision organisers don’t realise that 97 per cent of viewers watch for the purpose of sniggering at the many inadvertently hilarious entries. After all, Europe may be the cradle of Western civilisation, but it is also the cradle of pop music so heinous that it only gets played in gyms in order to encourage people on treadmills to run away as quickly as possible. Continue Reading →

Spill averted, but for how long?

Tony Abbott is holding on, but only by his powerful fingers. 61-39 is hardly a hearty affirmation of a prime minister’s leadership less than halfway through his first term. As an endorsement, it’s about as enthusiastic as Kevin Rudd looked in that notorious 2010 photo shoot with Julia Gillard.

It’s important to note that this morning’s vote should be adjusted for cabinet solidarity – even Malcolm Turnbull promised that he would vote to oppose the spill. Consequently, the real margin of dissent is likely closer. The PM still has a sword in close proximity to his neck, and it’s not about to tap each shoulder and award him a knighthood. Continue Reading →