We will know pretty soon, probably next week, how Scott Morrison’s fiscal statement (aka the budget) has gone down with the electorate. Trying to judge the mood of the voters today is fraught with difficulty. It is safe to say, however, that at least 52% will not be swayed by this so-called Labor-lite document.
Some would even see it as a complete capitulation of long standing Liberal values in their desperation to remain in power. For indeed that’s all it is; a pathetic attempt, not to balance the books, for they now know that is a bridge too far, but to give the impression that they can make the right call given changed circumstances. They will fail.
Initially, the swinging voter, however, might be impressed. Such is the ignorance at street level of what is really required despite what has been thus far, a fairly spirited reaction from Labor. But of one thing we can be certain. Any bounce in the polls for the government will be short-lived.
They now have too much baggage, both in what they have failed to do and what discontent exists within the party with this and other issues. All this means further displays of discontent that will, from time to time, spill over onto Main Street where those swinging voters, ignorant and ill-informed as they are, will recognise a government in disarray and revert back to their pre-budget position.
Taking a swipe at the banks is good politics, but Labor won that initiative a couple of years ago. By taxing the big four, the government has legitimised and strengthened Labor’s call for a Royal Commission. By forcing students to pay higher fees they have placed a generation at odds with a government full of graduates who received their degrees for free.
By drug testing welfare recipients, they not only demean the unemployed but clearly show their deep dislike for them. This resonates with all of us. This is blame shifting designed to disguise their inability to provide sufficient jobs for all those who want to work. It will end badly.
Bill Shorten has rightly emphasised the lack of fairness, the inequality of taxing the poor to service the wealthy. It is not a two day headline grabber. It is something that will become increasingly apparent as families continue to struggle meeting mortgage payments.
On Insiders this morning, Scott Morrison stated that the next likely move in interest rates would be up. He is right, but does he have any idea what that will do to the outer suburban mortgage belts of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane? For him, and his government, it will become like a festering sore that won’t heal.
As for the attempt to placate those trying to buy into the property market by offering salary sacrifice incentives, this too will fail. Who has the flexibility, in the short term, to establish a home saving account with sufficient funds that could keep pace with prices today?
The government knows, that to introduce a program abolishing negative gearing, the one issue we all know is fuelling the housing market, would mean most of their own members would be disadvantaged. They can’t bring themselves to do it. The rewards have been that good and they all want them to continue.
But they will pay for it in the long run. It’s not that hard to see how an increase in interests rates will hit investors just as savagely as it will the average homeowner, now mortgaged to the back teeth.
This fiscal statement may well prove to be worse than Joe Hockey’s first effort in 2014. And wouldn’t Joe salivate at the thought of that.