Tuesday 3 May 2016
It is only three years ago that the then Opposition leader Tony Abbott, with the use of language more befitting a prophet predicting the end of the world, described the health of the Australian economy thus: “Disaster, catastrophe, failure, debacle, fiasco, shambles” and many other words were repeated and repeated ad nauseam. Over time, Hockey and Abbott doubled the debt, having done so the government still continues to blame Labor for all their woes. Hockey and Morrison have proven to be ineffectual Treasurers. Now returning to a surplus isn’t important anymore.
All the talk around the budget today seems to centre on the fact that this is not your usual budget. This one has a plan attached, or a blueprint. The Treasurer Scott Morrison has stated many times that we don’t have a revenue problem but a spending one. That implicitly implies that there will be a lot of it if he has budget repair in mind. Of course, none of this has been leaked but it will come out in the wash.
This budget is further complicated by its inclusion in an election campaign. Just backtracking on the plan thing, I would like a quid for every time I have heard Abbott, Morrison or Turnbull say that “only the Coalition has a plan”. Indeed, I would be a wealthy man. It seems it is one of those plans that needed a lot of planning before becoming one. Almost three years in fact. There were of course other plans but they seem to have been discarded along the way.
This budget, just a month or two back, with all Turnbulls grandiose talk of Tax Reform promised to be the most talked about one for many a year. Everything was on the table and then off it. The waiters didn’t know their right hand from their left. Gunnar Morrison promised much but was overruled by his boss.
Then until the last couple of days nobody, including the media wanted to talk about it. Like a crescendo the good, but obviously misleading news started to fall like an avalanche from mainstream media sources. Tax breaks for business and the few who earn in excess of $80,000 a year. Not your average wage earner. An infrastructure spend that has been announced so many time that six lane highways might now have twelve.
The Budget Repair Levy on earners over $180,000 will end as scheduled, on June 30, 2017 meaning high income earners will get a double wammy tax cut. Small business will get an extension to the $20,000 instant asset write off. It didn’t give the boost it was supposed to last time. ASIC will have the funding the Government took from them in the last budget reinstated. Schools will get an extra $1.2 billion which is well under Labor’s $4.5 billion. University students are set to pay a greater proportion of fees, which might be capped. Tobacco will cost more which is in line with Labor’s policy. And there is a new dental scheme which on the surface is a new money-saving one.
The rhetoric behind the budget will be the oft-repeated one of jobs and growth, as the economy transitions. Which I might add is just rhetoric for two reasons. One, there are more people looking for work now than any other time in the past twenty years. Two, there is no evidence that we are successfully transitioning our economy. Oh I forgot about innovation. It will yet be championed despite the anti-innovation sacking hundreds of scientists and building the world’s 63rd slowest internet. Not to mention the pitiful investment in education together with the Government’s ambivalence to Climate Change.
And on jobs and growth let me quote Stephen Koukoulas of the Guardian:
“In terms of jobs and growth, the ABS data shows that average quarterly GDP growth and average monthly increases in employment are stronger when Labor has been in government compared with the Coalition”.
“I recently analysed the rates of GDP and employment growth under Labor and Liberal governments. The data were based on the 43-year period since December 1972 when the Labor Whitlam government was elected. This meant, quite neatly, that there was around 21 and a half years of data for Labor governments and around the same for Liberal governments”.
Tonight’s budget will have everything to do with the Government’s re-election and little else.
The propaganda attached to this budget will be Turnbull, Morrison and others trying to convince Australia that the past three years have been an aberration.
It will be interesting to see if those policies rejected by the Senate in the last two survive for a third. And of course if they are submitting as their future plan for Australia will they then replace it with another election campaign plan. I wonder, given the state of the budget just where the money might come from for it. A budget coinciding with an election might be a very tricky thing.
My thought for the day.
“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you”.
PS Barnaby Joyce was asked a question about the health of our rivers in Question Time on Monday. His answer was that of a complete fool. No wonder many are embarrassed with him being our Deputy Prime Minister.
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