Abbott hits his mark with G20

Tony Abbott has achieved the goals he set for the G20 summit, but there was never much doubt he would.

As a three-word slogan for an economic summit, "growth and jobs" had a nice ring to it.

The G20 was always going to deliver on host leader Tony Abbott's goal to back up the slogan with action plans.

And, at least on that level, the prime minister has chaired a successful Brisbane summit.

The challenge now is for all of the G20 countries to deliver on their $2 trillion worth of promises, which is the trickier part.

US President Barack Obama, among others, shares Abbott's frustration with trying to get economic reforms and budget measures through parliament.

Abbott kicked off the "retreat" session of the G20 summit reminding his fellow leaders of the limitations of their authority.

"The clash of policy and politics, the difficulty of trying to put good economics into practice given the political constraints that we all have - that's what I would like us to be able to discuss very candidly."

He vented his frustration outlining how he faced the "massively difficult" problem of getting the GP co-payment and university deregulation through the Senate.

For that he faced sharp criticism from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for being weird, graceless and parochial.

"The G20 is not a domestic whinge-fest," Shorten said.

The commitments Australia spelled out in the final G20 documents included a list of 2014/15 budget measures, from welfare changes to the asset recycling fund and free trade agreements with Japan and Korea.

Centre for International Governance Innovation political analyst Bessma Momani says the plan amounts to "a lot of recycling of old ideas and initiatives".

Australia's efforts in delivering on the goal of an extra 2.1 per cent growth by 2018 will depend not just on domestic factors but the effort of other countries.

About a quarter of the growth depends on what the Brisbane Action Plan describes as "positive spillovers" from other countries.

Abbott hit the nail on the head when he said governments should be about "not overpromising things that are unaffordable and undeliverable".

No one could accuse the prime minister of over-promising when it came to the G20.

There was no promise to comprehensively deal with what Obama called the greatest challenge facing the planet - climate change.

The three-page statement merely encouraged countries to announce their updated carbon emission reduction targets "well in advance" of the Paris summit in December 2015 "if they are ready".

As Michelangelo once said: "The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."

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