Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The AFR beat-up that caught a carping trout ...

So here's how desperate and pathetic Tony Abbott has become in the last few days of the budget melt down.

The AFR, which seems to think it can out-do the lizard Oz, ran a beat up about Australia's AAA credit rating.

Oh it was all unusually blunt and forthright and yadda yadda gorilla chest beating and fear mongering:

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s is warning Australia’s prized AAA credit rating could be reviewed unless substantial cuts are made to the budget in coming years. 
In an unusually forthright warning, a lead sovereign analyst for S and P, Craig Michaels, said he was counting on the Abbott government to win Senate approval for at least “some” of its $37 billion in planned savings against opposition from Labor, which has pledged to veto about $18 billion in cuts and tax rises. 
“We’re looking to see the government improve budget performance over the next few years,” Mr Michaels said in an interview. 
If it looked as though “sizeable budget deficits were considered acceptable at the political and the community level then we might reassess, certainly, government commitment and also potentially the trajectory for public sector debt,” he said. 
A cut to Australia’s rating would drive up the government’s borrowing costs and be a huge political blow. S and P’s comments may serve as a wake-up call for opponents of the budget, including Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer, who argues there is no need for big cuts to the $48 billion deficit because of the AAA rating. 
It coincides with a revolt from state premiers enraged by $80 billion in cuts to health and education and a collapse in support for the government after record numbers of voters judged the budget to be unfair and likely to leave them worse off. 
However, by emphasising the need for budget repair, S and P has put Australia on notice that its rating is dependent on decisions made today, rather than events of the past. “We’re looking for action,” Mr Michaels said. A leading credit analyst, Martin Whetton at Nomura, said the S and P comments suggest any back-down by the government on budget repair would be frowned upon by S and P. 
 “If the government chooses to substantially water down its proposals because of the political cost, that is the sort of thing that would concern rating agencies looking at Australia over the longer term,” he said. (and the rest of Jacob Greber's shameless beat up here, currently outside the paywall, because beat ups should run wild and free)

Abbott was all over it like a rash, or like a drowning man clutching at a straw or any other metaphor you care to mix along with your afternoon cocktail ... shake those metaphors but never stir them.

Only problem?

Yep, you've guessed it already:

The real reptiles didn't mind Abbott looking silly, provided they also made the reptiles at the AFR look silly. No hard task, it must be said, not when they're up shit creek with an egg beater rather than a paddle (please, indulge in mixed metaphors in moderation):

Tony Abbott’s charge that Labor is threatening Australia’s AAA credit rating has been discredited, after a leading ratings agency rejected claims it was poised to review the nation’s credit score. 
The Prime Minister this morning seized on a media report of comments by a Standard and Poors sovereign analyst, Craig Michaels, that the nation’s prized credit rating could be reviewed if parliament fails to approve significant budget cuts. 
Mr Abbott used the Australian Financial Review report – titled “AAA credit rating at risk” – to repeatedly attack Labor today, urging the opposition to pass his government’s first budget through the Senate. 
However Mr Michaels has told The Australian “there is no immediate risk to the AAA credit rating”. “We have a stable outlook on the AAA rating, which means we think there’s a less than one-in-three chance of a change to the next couple of years,” Mr Michaels said this afternoon. 
“Our view hasn’t changed from what we said a week ago … that we were looking for the government to run its finances prudently and to gradually improve budget performance to see deficits decline over the medium term. The budget is consistent with that.” 
“There’s always negotiation that post budget to get measures through the parliament. We wouldn’t speculate on the outcome of that, but we have a stable outlook on the rating which means we don’t see any immediate risk to the rating change.” 
The Prime Minister this morning said: “If these necessary measures don’t pass the Senate our AAA credit rating is at risk, and if we lose our AAA credit rating we pay higher rates of interest on our debt, and that means it’s more than $1bn a month, every single month, just to pay the interest on the borrowings.” 
“Labor is putting our AAA credit rating at risk. We have a plan to tackle Labor’s debt and deficit disaster. It is the only plan and until such time as Labor comes up with a plan of its own they are nothing but fiscal vandals.” (and the lizard Oz put it outside the paywall, here, because showing up the AFR, even if it involves even more pain for Abbott, is surely a good thing.)

It probably doesn't mean that much to anyone outside the world of financial journalism, but it's a pure delight for the pond, even if it means the scorecard runs this way:

Abbott: 0 (desperate and pathetic and needy and nil credibility)
AFR: 0 (desperate and pathetic and nil credibility by virtue of relying on an egg beater while putting Mr Michaels in an embarrassing position)

The reptiles at the Oz: 2, by virtue of simply asking a sensible question and reporting it accurately.

Oh and for providing a clip which shows Abbott looking as if he's in a world of pain, a bonus mark.

Memo to the AFR. Have you thought about using a mechanised egg beater?

And why is the pond so antsy about this?

Well the moment we heard the ABC recycling it, we knew it was a beat-up. Not that you could tell from the ABC, accustomed as that broadcaster is to recycling the droppings from Fairfax and Murdoch la la land ...

And then the Murdochians surprised the pond by shooting the beat up down ... no matter that it meant that once again Abbott was exposed as a prime doofus, who'd say and do anything to talk down Australia if he thought it meant he could talk himself up.

Good on the reptiles. No doubt this temporary rapprochement will pass in a heartbeat but the pond can only acknowledge there are reptiles and then there are reptiles like the AFR, which routinely looks pretty scaly ...

And it's about time Media Watch dusted off their old prize and handed it out to the AFR, perhaps with a special duplicate for Abbott, for falling for the oldest lure designed to catch a carping trout  ...


  1. Tim Wilson grossly misquotes Stephen Fry in a piece in the Guardian today about the right to be offensive.

    To set the record straight, here's Fry on Racism and the dehumanising impact of racist language.


  2. If you Google "existence of women declared anti islamic" you get 2,390,000 hits. Yep the righteous racists went ape-shit. But they've been suckered again, as have many of Bolt's readers. Its a satirical column in Pakistan Today, much as Mike Carlton might write. Good to see our Pakistani friends have a sense of humour.


  3. Well I never. First The Oz shreds Abbott's economy scare story, and then The HUN has an article today highly critical of Bolt and the racism he promotes. "We cannot afford to confuse ridiculous with reasonable" by Rafael Epstein.

    "Bolt says he is “determined to find what unites us and not to invent racist excuses to divide”. But when he asks, “What have we imported and what danger would we run by importing more?”, I believe he does the opposite.

    "The online comments from his readers show that Bolt’s words give permission for prejudice to flow. One reader worries about a culture “that endangers our own”. Another says “fortunately I can’t stand looking at Aly long enough to know what he has to say”. Another slights a major religion, writing “I cannot for a moment trust believers, followers and supporters of Islam”. Yet another gets the facts wrong, “protecting the terrorists and their murder and rape of Christian schoolgirls is disgusting”. Audience feedback is not dictated by content, but Aly’s views were misrepresented and the commentary follows."...

    "Perhaps we should heed Bolt’s warning and worry about what “we are importing”. But who are the imports? Andrew Bolt’s parents came to Australia from the Netherlands in 1958, but Muslims from Afghanistan are thought to have come here almost one hundred years earlier. Should the descendants of those Afghans immigrants be worried about “importing” immigrants from the Netherlands? Or would that be silly and simplistic?"



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