NEWSFLASH! In September I will join The Conversation as its Business and Economy Editor. I have been honoured to work at The Age for the past ten years, originally alongside the legendry Tim Colebatch, and for the past four years as economics editor in my own right.

At The Conversation, my job will be to make the best thinking from Australia's 40 univerisites accessible to the widest possible audience. That means you. From the new year I will also write a weekly column.

On this site are most of the important things I have written for Fairfax and the ABC over the past few decades. I recommend the Search function. The site is a record for you, as well as me.

I'll continue to post great things from The Conversation and other places here, and also on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rudd's done it!

The 'D' word.

"KEVIN Rudd has conceded for the first time that Australia's budget may have to go into "temporary deficit" if the global financial crisis worsens.

And the Prime Minister warned any failure to do so would be irresponsible, putting jobs at risk.

It's the first time the Prime Minister has finally admitted the budget may go into the red after weeks of word games over the state of the increasingly wafer-thin surplus."

JUST IN: Rudd's words:

"If Australian economic growth slows further because of a further deepening of the global financial crisis, then it follows that the Australian Government revenues will reduce further.

Under those circumstances, it would be responsible to draw further from the surplus and, if necessary, to use a temporary deficit to begin investing in our future infrastructure needs including hospitals, schools, TAFEs, universities, ports, roads, urban rail and high speed broadband.

Mr Speaker, under those circumstances, such action would support growth, would families and jobs and would be undertaken in the national interest. In fact Mr Speaker, failing to do so would be irresponsible – and would sacrifice growth and jobs. But any such action would need to be temporary, consistent with the discipline of maintaining a surplus across the economic cycle.

These circumstances do not prevail in Australia at present. Our current circumstances do not require us to embrace such a course of action. And the Government will do everything possible to swim against the global tide to support both growth and the surplus – but this is becoming tougher and tougher."

Turnbull's response was unfortunate... along the lines of there being no such thing as a temporary Labor surplus.