Election diary No. 24: Saturday, 2, April 2022.
Before I even begin to comment on this year’s budget, I must point out that I am not an economist. In reality, I have no training in finance whatsoever.
Having said that, let me say this: Most goodies are handed out to maximise the “vote for us” value during the upcoming campaign. Even Blind Freddy could explain why this is a short-term formula for winning an election.
Wages are stagnant with consumer prices steadily rising; the Coalition’s election gift to voters is cash for Australia’s low-and middle-income earners. It is a blatant attempt to buy their votes. Will it buy them enough? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.
I have picked up over many years of more than an average interest in politics and a lifetime in marketing the ability to read the spin of politics. After all, we, the voters, pass judgment on a budget’s worthiness. Therefore, our opinions are the most consequential.
As the Treasurer was reading his speech, I was with a glass of red in one hand and the volume control in the other, asking myself all the relevant questions pertaining to a national budget. It was not by coincidence that the handouts all happen during the election.
What is its intention, how forward-looking is it? Does it look after our most vulnerable? How does it address the health of its people or the condition of our infrastructure and our education? Does it endeavour to make right our inequality? These are the sort of questions a layperson like myself asks.
Indeed, many questions are asked of a budget. However, they are always constrained by the politics of the day and the proximity of an election.
As a layperson, l see this budget as driven by the requirements of an election that is just around the corner, nothing more, nothing less. Politics takes precedence over everything.
It seeks to succeed by addressing the immediacy of our society’s cost of living problems. To this end, it is wholly devoted. But all the gifts our Government offers have a use-by date and will expire in six months. There is no longevity. No thought for the future. No climate change crisis. In fact, every agency dealing with the climate had its funding cut.
In Katharine Murphy’s article in The Guardian; “At this gravest of times the Coalition has served up an election budget designed simply to keep itself in power” she reported that:
“With wages stagnant and consumer prices on the march, the Coalition’s primary pre-election gift to voters is cash for Australia’s low-and-middle income earners.
As well as cash, the government will cut the fuel excise in half in the hope a price cut at the bowser isn’t swallowed immediately by another adverse shift in the global oil price or an interest rate rise between now and September, when the excise is supposed to revert to its full rate.”
Don’t hold your breath.
Anthony Albanese has commented that supporting climate change has not won them an election (paywalled). Just when people have been sufficiently aroused to take it seriously. What a shame it would be if he walked away from it now.
And am I to seriously believe that in the next 20 years, when the whole world is driving electric cars, Australia will have to import them with all our manufacturing knowledge? This budget failed to give them a mention.
What will eventually happen when electric vehicles eliminate the petrol excise altogether. What will replace this massive source of Government revenue?
The words ‘childcare’ and ‘aged care’ hardly ever get a mention, but a wage rise so often predicted, but it never actually happens. Also ignored are those front-line workers who put their lives on the line during the pandemic.
It is a budget based on hope. The hope is that China will continue to pay the top price for our iron ore and coal commodities and that our wheat will continue to bring in record prices.
The politics of survival and the retention of power have taken over this budget, and it is about nothing else.
Remember those historic levels of debt that Abbott and Morrison threw at Labor? Now the shoe is on the other foot.
The way this budget seeks to give cash handouts in exchange for people’s votes is typical of this Government.
In fact, the value of the pension is likely to diminish over the next few years as the cost of living rises. The periodical increases are measured against movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whereas previously, they counted them against a set of articles related to pensioner’s actual costs.
The much-muted low unemployment figure is only because immigration stopped during the pandemic. Unemployment will rise when it resumes.
“… of the 144 projects being funded by the Government in Tuesday’s budget shows that just 21 are included on Infrastructure Australia’s current list of priority projects, accounting for $5.7bn of the approximate $16bn in new funding. The analysis also shows that of the $6.4bn that is allocated to projects within a single electorate, more than half – $3.4bn – is directed to marginal seats.”
If we were to forget Josh Frydenberg’s dour introduction to this year’s budget, “Tonight, as we gather, war rages in Europe,” you would miss any plan for the future and instead find one for the next six months. After that, it’s all about hope.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has outdone himself yet again to prove how out of touch he is. This time telling renters to just buy a house if they can’t afford soaring rent prices. Anyway, just to cap off its silliness, Morrison finally did it! We didn’t think it was possible, friends, but here we are.
Then at the end of play, Tammy Wolffs tweeted:
People who earn up to $126,000 per year will get $420 back in their tax, while people who rely on government payments will only get $250. Because the more you earn, the more government support you need? 🙄#Budget2022 #auspol
— Tammy (@TammyWolffs) March 29, 2022
My previous diary entry: They simply have a plan to keep wages low. They always have.
My thought for the day
At the time of the election, the Coalition will have been in power for nine exhausting years and want you to give them another three. What, as a legacy, do they have to show for it? Has this Government raised your standard of living?
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!
Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.
You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969