The Australian government's internal talking points have been leaked. Here's what it reveals about the economy, Newstart and Julian Assange

Julian Assange, known for being behind plenty of government leaks, cops a mention in this one. (Photo by Jack Taylor, Getty Images)
  • The federal government has accidentally leaked its own policy talking points on Monday, sending them off to media agencies around the country.
  • While unofficial, they guide government MPs on what to say publicly on each issue and how to answer questions posed by journalists.
  • We’ve included the full document and highlight key quotes on various issues so you don’t have to read the whole dreary thing.

There’s someone in the Prime Minister’s office with a significant headache currently, after the government’s talking points were sent out to the media by accident on Monday.

While it’s common practice for governments to prepare and rehearse their official lines on policy topics, it’s rare they ever see the light of day. While there are few surprises in there, it’s interesting to see where the government expects pushback and how it peddles different political narratives.

Chief amongst the topics of the week is the economy, welfare plans, water, immigration, justice and energy policy.

If nothing else, reading these will allow you to avoid following politics for the next week.

Here’s the full leaked talking points document:

Here’s what can be gleaned:

The government doesn’t want to talk about rising unemployment, instead of focusing on job creation

“With about 300,000 additional jobs created in 2018-19, employment grew by 2.6%, well above the 1½ per cent growth forecast in the 2018-19 Budget.”

The Coalition expects the economy to improve from here on out despite challenges

“In setting out the budget we anticipated the economic challenges ahead and put in place significant tax cuts and infrastructure spending which together with the 50 basis points in rate cuts and improving housing market will be reflected from the September quarter onwards.”

It won’t raise Newstart

“The best form of welfare is a job, and the Government is absolutely focused on getting people off of welfare and into work.”

“It is a taxpayer-funded allowance that provides a safety net for people while they look fora job and is increased twice a year, every year in line with [inflation]. It is not intended to be a wage replacement.”

The government is going to drug test welfare recipients despite ‘fear-mongering’

“Welfare recipients who test positive will not lose a single cent of their payment but will be placed on Income Management for a period of 24 months which will quarantine 80% of their welfare payment on to the Basics Card which prevents spending on drugs, alcohol and gambling. The remaining 20% will be deposited in their regular account.”

“It is disappointing to note the fear-mongering around the Government’s proposed drug testing trial which is a genuine attempt to help unemployed Australians overcome substance abuse which is a barrier to work.”

It won’t back down on its cashless welfare card

“The Cashless Debit Card is financial management tool helping unemployed Australians stabilise their personal circumstances while our proposed Drug Testing Trial will help identify welfare recipients struggling with substance abuse and provide them with support to get back on track.”

It won’t intervene in the case of Julian Assange

“We appreciate that some members of the public feel very strongly about Mr Assange’s situation but it is important to remember that Australia cannot intervene in the legal processes of another country.”

The government thinks it can achieve its 2030 Paris Target without a climate tax despite modelling to the contrary

“The IMF report does not take into account our $3.5 billion package which maps out to the last tonne how we will deliver the 328mt of abatement needed to reduce emissions to 26to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”

READ MORE: The IMF reckons Australia needs a carbon tax if it’s going to hit its Paris targets – and says we likely can’t hike it quickly enough

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