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A Budget that will marry economics with the common good

For the last decade, we have been used to, and it’s no exaggeration, awakening to a daily crisis from the Coalition. Some were more excruciating than others, but, more often than not, severe.

As a writer of politics and social justice, one could not complain as the avalanche of wrongdoing or corruption cascaded over the walls of our democracy. I had plenty with which to exercise my fingers.

This list found its way into my misdemeanours’ file, and astonishing as it is, it bears witness to what I have called the Luddite period of Government. It was a period when the leadership and governance of our country were so appalling that the word ‘crisis’ became synonymous with conservatism.

Now a few short weeks down the track, I’m complaining to the editor that there isn’t much to write about. This one, however, elicits some pleasure because it’s about leadership. Sarah Martin, writing for The Guardian, reported that; “Australians’ confidence in government integrity has increased since election, study finds.”

Yes, you read correctly. These encouraging words originate from an ongoing study by Swinburne University. The study has shown that Australians are more confident in the Federal Government since Labor took power in May.

It isn’t just political leadership I’m talking about here; it’s leadership for social and economic change being thrust upon us by a world sick to deaf of the capitalistic system after the failure of drip-down economics.

With leadership and integrity, governance has somewhat recovered since the election. The new Albanese government is registering a considerable bounce in general support.

Swinburne University conducts ongoing research into the public perception of many public institutions. It’s called the Australian Leadership Index: Its latest data shows that:

“… after hitting a low of 52 points out of 100 in the March quarter, public confidence in the country’s leadership has rebounded to 61 points in the September quarter. The data also shows growth in the measure of integrity.”

It doesn’t mean that the Prime Minister and his Ministers have regained trust in Government but that it is starting to regain some.

According to the data:

“… the Morrison government scored between 50 and 52 points out of 100 for integrity from October 2021 to the May election, and the Albanese government scored 60 points out of 100 in its first full quarter.”

The University’s integrity index:

“… measures qualities such as transparency, genuineness, reliability, honesty and care for the community, among other traits.”

The change in public support since the election reveals the Albanese government is sitting at 62 points for competence against a low of 53 under Morrison.

I am surprised, given the Coalition government’s performance during its tenure, that it could ever have reached 53%

The Government’s “contribution” data:

“… tracks metrics such as employment, knowledge and education outcomes – with support increasing from 55 points before the election to 61.”

All in all, it is a healthy report card leading into the first Jim Chalmers’ Budget on Tuesday, 25 October. Budgets always have winners and losers, but at least people will see what is being done with the common good in mind.

The public cannot deny that Chalmers isn’t making them aware of the difficulties that lay ahead. Daily the Treasurer reminds us. We are a wealthy country, but the demands on our prosperity are great. We are better off than most; however, we need sacrifice as we move toward a common good in society.

The demands on the upcoming Budget are so pressing that it will be impossible to meet them in part or whole.

If you watch political programs as I do, the thing that stands out the most is those being interviewed or in the discussion taking place; you will have observed that it is always about the money or the lack thereof. Finance Minister Katy Gallagher must be pulling her hair out.

Think about it. Education, Health, ADIS, disaster relief, post pandemic recovery, small business, equal pay, lifting wages, overseas aid, Health care, defence, cost of living, clean energy, child care, science, jobs and skills, infrastructure, public housing, mental health, aged care, innovation, interest on our debt, manufacturing and many others including general cost increases.

All have a loud voice in determining their priority, but there is always that other voice shouting that there isn’t enough for all our needs. Do you just patch up the various problems or fix a few in full at the expense of others?

Do you spend a lot on things that will bear fruit in the future, knowing they might not win you the next election?

There will, of course, be journalists and others who know all these difficulties but, in their dissection, won’t mention them or the lack of money. Just negativity from a worn-out capitalistic press.

We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.

Will this Budget turn out to be another of the same old patchwork quilt type?

Will it be one that will redistribute our wealth with more equity? A nation-building budget.

Will it signal a change in how we collect taxes and redistribute our wealth? Will there be new taxes?

Will it be reformist? If we continue to look back, we will lose sight of going forward.

Above all, will it demonstrate to Australians that money essentially belongs to the people and won’t be squandered to support friends of the incumbents?

We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self interest groups.

Back to good Government…

Dr Vlad Demsar, an Australian Leadership Index researcher, told The Guardian that:

“… the figures showed that public faith in the Government was heading in the right direction after the low figures detected ahead of the election under the former prime minister, Scott Morrison.”

Might l dare suggest that Albanese is intent on proving that good honest governance is possible with real people in leadership. That the tax cuts for high-income earners will be abandoned once he has exhausted proof of the Government’s trust.

Then he can say:

“We have reconsidered this tax break in the light of current knowledge and however obligated we found ourselves, the giving could never match the benefits of not doing so.”


My thought for the day

The common good, or empathy for it, should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Why do commentators only consider the revenue side of a Budget rather than looking at the waste that occurs in expenditure?

    For example, why are subsidies being paid to oil exploration corporations to determine future oil supplies when the future is becoming alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power?

    Consider education equity, or rather the current politically motivated ”education inequity”. Move to the voucher system where each kid gets the same amount regardless of where the parents choose to send them. Naturally this would require private schools to charge parents for the additional ”services” established during the Luddite COALition misgovernment.

    Residential housing is being priced out of reach for young people due to negative gearing and citizenship incentives offered to North Asian ”investors”. So, grandfather negative gearing out and limit the number of tax advantage residential investment properties to one per taxpayer. Removing the citizenship incentive is merely a stroke of the Minister’s pen.

    Stop buying third and fourth rate outdated military technology on the ”never never finished” principle favoured by US NE military industrial complex manufacturers. The JSF was always a lemon as aviation experts publicly identified before Little Johnnie Howard committed Australia to purchase too many of them.

    It is time to have government for the Australian voters rather than pouring money into the American economy when Australian citizens need jobs and investing locally has about a seven (7) times multiplier effect in the local economy.

  2. Phil Lloyd

    I would say “a world sick to death of the capitalistic system after the exposure – through COVID – of the failure of drip-down (neo-liberal) economics.”

  3. Keitha Granville

    New England Cocky took the words right out of my mouth. All of that. Especially the education idea.
    And the negative gearing. The LNP bleated on about mum and dad investors – well they’d be catered for with
    ONE property being the allowance.
    Instead of the stage 3 tax cuts, how about raise the TFT to $30k for everyone earning up to $200k ?
    That helps all under that limit, a lot ! Above $200k it remains as it is.

    But there’s no need to be discussing that right now, it’s not for 2 years anyway.

    Here’s to another 20 years of Labor !

  4. Denis Hay

    If there is a need for sacrifice as we move toward a common good in society, let corporations and the rich and powerful do the sacrificing for a change. It has been ordinary people who have been doing the sacrificing for the last 40-plus years.

  5. Fred

    NEC: I really like your education voucher idea, but wouldn’t regional areas require higher per student capita spend compared with capital cities?

  6. New England Cocky

    @ Keitha Granville: Instead of Stage 3 Tax Cuts fir the obscenely wealthy, how about spending the about $250 BILLION on establishing the ”Universal Basic Income” (UBI) for the unemployed and under-employed. Research from Canada shows that the UBI pays for itself from savings to the Health Budget by reduced servicing of a healthier population.

    @ Fred: Regional centres need experienced teachers but previous COALition misgovernments have sold off Teacher Housing which was a professional perk used to attract experienced staff. Other ”incentives” over the decades have proven less appealing to experienced teachers.

    New Zealand has had a voucher system for education funding during the past about 40 years.

  7. andy56

    phil loyd, its not capitalism per se, its how its implemented. If its going to be the be all and end all of our existence, i would rather burn it down too. But it doesnt have to be run by the rich for the rich. Our mind set has to change, its got to work for US, not be our master . User pays for government services is the first thing that needs to be binned. New England, private education must not be government subsidised. Let them have their rules and regulation and pay their own way. Government subsidised religious indoctrination just doesnt sit well in a secular society. UBI can be funded by scrapping super and calling the money what it really is , someone elses play money. By making everyone financially secure, we dont need crazy financial schemes to save for our retirement. I suspect it will have a massive effect on the cost of realestate too. Removes a need from a certain demographic to speculate on realestate. Keating was smart but at the end of the day, he was playing by neo con liberalism rules. I for one refuse to live by fear and insecurity that these protestant evangelists want us to.

  8. Stephengb

    Of course it’s all about money.

    That is all the Federal Government can do, it controls the money in circulation by spending into existance and then taxing out of existence.

    There is No shortage of money, the Federal Government can spend into existence any amount if money it needs. Of course there is a caution to be observed when the Feds spend money into existance, that caution is that spending lots of money into existence means there will be lots of money in circulation and that will mean that it may drive up demand for products (goods and services).

    To reduce demand the Feds can only reduce spending or increases taxes. The ALP have promised not to increase taxes so the only thing left will be to reduce spending.

    So how is Charlmers going to spend less without causing austerity ?

    Hmm I wonder ?

  9. Canguro

    Budgets, Warmongers, Community Groups, White Men’s Dystopias, Newscorp’s Knob Polishing…

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, news that matters…Kicking Climate Down the Road:

    Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970, report reveals

    I can’t claim to deeply care, nor can I claim to be totally indifferent… but then I’ve been dissociated for the majority of my life, and dissociation usually wraps a lead shield around emotions.

    It’s an existential issue; opinions differ, to some it’s the end of the world, to others it’s the prophesied apocalypse and the return of the Saviour (hah! nice try, delusional ones), but for me it’s just the inevitable consequence of over-population and massive over-reach in terms of fossil fuel usage; it’s mathematical, it’s cause and consequence, it’s real-time, it’s certainly of greater concern than ninety-nine percent of the trivial issues we occupy ourselves with inasmuch as it will become, for millions if not billions, a matter of life and death.

    You can’t destroy the ecosystem and bring about the massive loss of species without suffering enormous consequences.

    Quis est in culpa?

    Omnes sumus.

  10. Caz

    NEC has said it all for me.but I would include a change to our defence and foreign policy. I believe Paul Keating has the right idea. We should not be A merica’s lackey and concentrate on defence of Australia alone. Scrap the nuclear subs . We can’t compete with China. But all this pales into insignificance if we don’t put all our energies into stopping the destruction of this planet and all life on it. It’s our great grandchildren that should be foremost in our minds.

  11. Alan

    To Stephengb, I believe he will recover billions from would-be RORTS & plenty of other misuse of OUR MONEY by snot Morrison,s profligate mis-management. I for one insist on “public owned” affordable accommodation,never to be privatized! Look what happened to AGE CARE!

  12. Carina McNaughton

    NEC As a parent of a neurodiverse child i would love a voucher system for education. Also for the funding for children with disabilities to be given to the parents. As present the school receives the funds and it is up to the principal how they are spent. Parents could band together in public schools for better resources for children with learning difficulties. Evidence based science of reading could be in all schools.
    So many children who struggle at school who are neurodiverse and don’t have the right support punished for behaviour which is part of the Autism or ADHD.Al the focus on gifted or high achieving students. Not enough on those with learning difficulties who have to work twice as hard. Money spent on playgrounds etc. What’s more important cosmetic looks of a school or that the children feel safe and can read and write and do maths. So many school can’t children. Education vouchers could lead to better outcomes and more support because the parents have a much greater say.

  13. Stephengb

    Yes they have made it clear they are on the hunt kill as many wasted millions as they can, but to be honest I do not believe they will get too many billions, if at all.

    It is an exercise that reaps more political points than $ saved.

    When they say they have saved it means they have not spent.

    It’s double entry book keeping.

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