Several ideas in the developing northern Australia discussion paper were ditched by Abbott almost as soon as they saw the light of day - including different taxation zones (which he conceded was likely to be unconstitutional, the same reason John Howard and Peter Costello rejected it on every one of the many, many occasions it was raised by the Nationals during the Coalition's last term) and the idea of cutting the aid budget by $800 million to pay for new medical facilities in the north.
The Coalition also immediately jettisoned the proposed ''first term initiative'' of moving federal departments to northern Australia. As the government quickly pointed out, many public servants responsible for policy delivery already lived outside Canberra. Presumably the ones advising future Coalition ministers would need to stay within earshot in the national capital.
And since the Coalition is planning major savings from cuts to the public service and sweeping changes to the way it does things, spending money moving people and departments around the country could run a little bit counter to the plan.
If these ideas were so obviously out of the question, it is unclear why they were included in a document sent by the opposition finance spokesman to premiers just last month, and included on the list of things the Coalition ''proposes to do'' in its first term.
Saturday, February 09, 2013
For Bob and Gina
Lenore Taylor does a good job looking at the politics and improbabilities of the Coaltion's leaked discussion paper about developing Northern Australia: