ON the weekend of October 11-12, 2008, Kevin Rudd, his three most senior ministers and their most trusted advisers decided to give away -- literally give away -- almost $9 billion.
Without exact information about the global economic tidal wave breaking on Australian shores, or how effective their spending would be in sand-bagging Australia from its devastation, Rudd, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan and Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner determined to send out pre-Christmas cheques worth $8.7bn, as part of a $10.4bn stimulus package.
The government's Santa sack was worth as much as its first budget had proposed in new spending over five years on the big-ticket election promises for education and health combined. It was almost half as much as the planned military spending that year. Read more.