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Day to Day Politics: It’s Morrison’s budget but Shorten’s reply has more intrigue

Monday 7 May 2018

Tuesday night the Treasurer will deliver yet another pre-election budget which will undoubtedly be just that. It will neglect the long-term common good in favour of retaining power. As is usual some things have been leaked but it seems more sweeteners will be handed out on the night.

Unashamedly all pretence to “Debt and deficit” has been dropped as if it never existed and was never a problem. Morrisson will have doubled the debt but will say “bugger it”, the kids can pay for that. Australia has had a “disappointing” debt legacy created by federal governments of both persuasions.

If something is not done now the young of today will live lives more impoverished than their parents. They will look back and ask why on earth were the olds so stupid? Look at all the prosperity you had and what did you do with it? Why didn’t you invest in our people rather than seek profit?

Pre-night rumours abound, the first being that the Government plans to spend $100 billion on increased in-home care and streamlined services which should be popular amongst their key voters. I read on the weekend that the 2018 Turnbull government budget will build on the foundation provided by the Gillard government’s “Living Longer, Living Better plan”.

From what has been leaked thus far it would appear that Aged Care will be a major beneficiary of the handouts with in-house care a central focus. This, of course, will appease the older members of the community who are the conservative base.

Tax cuts will also be a central feature in this pre-election budget. They will apply to those earning under $87,000.

Depending on when they apply personal tax cuts will momentarily replace wage rises that seem to have dried up. Those earning above $180,000 will benefit from 2024. I cannot imagine too many getting excited about that prospect.

Mr Morrison won’t say if the budget will be back in surplus faster. Last year he predicted the budget would be back in surplus in 2021, after a deficit of just $2.5 billion in 2020. First and foremost the budget must be if we are to have sustainable surpluses, be fair and reasonable recognising that revenue is important. Something they have denied for years.

Labor is in the box seat to match the Coalition promises with a huge war-chest from not proceeding with company tax cuts, and to achieve a stronger surplus. However, both parties need to urgently tackle the problem of “bracket creep” otherwise tax cuts will become meaningless. Having said that the whole tax system badly needs a review.

All the permanent promises so far have been made on a temporary and sudden rise in revenue.

If there were to be a domestic or worldwide economic downturn then we would be up shit creek without a paddle.

So far all we are seeing are sweeteners when what is needed is a grand plan that explains Australia’s economic path toward the future that includes jobs and growth and takes into account the collective feelings of our citizens, or “Common Good” as I have written on these pages dozens of times.

“Trickle-down economics” that had failed to result in higher wages or more equal wealth distribution will continue to hold sway with conservative thinking even though it is fairly well acknowledged that it simply doesn’t work.

Their closeted conservative minds just will not “acknowledge the empirical evidence that greater equality and decent living standards increase economic growth as promoted by organisations such as the IMF, OECD and the World Bank”.

Australia’s peak Union body asked the Turnbull government to recognise demand “as a crucial driver of economic and job growth, and that raising the wages and living standards of low and middle-income households increases the size of the economic pie for everyone”.

The ACTU also backed Labor’s plans to curb negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, and reform tax arrangements for family trusts.

So, my tip for Tuesday is a typical Conservative budget, one laced with sweeteners for the upcoming election. It will not address fairness in a changing society but further, reinforce its reliance on drip down economics in order to make the rich richer.

Budget in reply

The “budget in reply” speech need not necessarily be a direct redress to the Treasurer’s budget speech because Bill Shorten is at liberty to digress into various aspects of country and economy. So, he should take the opportunity to expand on the words of:

Robert Kennedy

“I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I’m obliged to do all I can.”

Abe Lincoln

“Labor is prior
to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Labor philosophy (no link available)

“Is it impossible to hope that there are some people of integrity who might form a centrist party dedicated to honest government for all and the principles of “from each according to her/his ability, to each according to her/his need”? There is no one now to keep the bastards honest.”

All this talk about budget surpluses doesn’t register with the historical facts

“Since 1945, significant budget surpluses have been achieved only rarely: once by Ben Chifley, three times by Bob Hawke, and eight times by John Howard, who shared another with Rudd, who was elected during the 2007-08 fiscal year. That is, the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments managed only a few, small surpluses. So much for the claim about the Coalition’s Fiscal management. The surpluses by Howard came from an unprecedented, never to be repeated mining boom and the sale of public assets. Let’s keep it in perspective.”

Lastly, a few things to consider from yours truly

Day to Day Politics: A new way forward to a better society: a Labor perspective (part 1)

My thought for the day

”We live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us. The shame is that we have normalised them and adjusted accordingly”.


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  1. New England Cocky

    It seems unlikely that the about $150 BILLION PER YEAR government gifts to the undeserving wealthy and corporates will be stopped or even reduced in this last Morriscum Budget. Removing those free, gratis and for nothing financial “rewards” would allow a more egalitarian society.

  2. Keith

    In the past the LNP have likened a household budget to that of the government; very different. Though if that approach is taken with the current Federal Budget, the appropriate analogy would be of a worker getting more overtime for a period. The worker expects more overtime in the future; and so, decides to buy a house just on the margins of what they can afford through expecting overtime to be a new constant source of extra income.

    Turnbull talked about innovation at the last election. Innovation appears to have been applied to communicating the budget deficit lately, though innovation has not been witnessed in other areas the government controls.

  3. Terry2

    This dog-end of budgetary planning by the coalition seems to have gone through to the keeper :

    The Turnbull government will aim to raise $3.6 billion over four years through a crackdown on illicit tobacco to be announced in Tuesday’s budget.

    On Sunday (6 May 2018), the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, confirmed the plan to prevent the sale of 864 tonnes of illicit tobacco that escapes duties each year.

    This, it seems, is a dig in the ribs for Commandant Dutton whose Border Force empire is responsible for customs and the collection of excise. There are really only two ways for untaxed tobacco to get into the mainstream and they are chop-chop the illegally grown tobacco that is harvested, dried and chopped up for smoking puposes and fags brought in from overseas and sold on the black-market.

    If it’s true that 864 tonnes of this gear is getting into the country annually then it is a catastrophic failure on the part of Dutton and his Home Affairs Department. In true Westminster tradition we can expect Mr Dutton to humbly tender his resignation to the Prime Minister, probably before morning smoko.

    Or, maybe I’m being cynical, could there be a hole in the budget that needs plugging and Scomo came up with this one to have a crack at Cormann for his cigar chomping days with former Treasurer ‘smoking’ Joe Hockey.

    With the budget coming down tomorrow there will be enormous relief in the broader Australian community that the debt and deficit disaster bestowed on us by the former Labor government has been eliminated by the deft and sure-handed management of the economy by Scomo and his team : phewww, what a relief – now did I take my medication this morning or am I hallucinating again.

  4. Graeme Henchel

    This budget will be just another con and failure. Just like their last 5. The coalition is in desperation land and their attempts to repeat the strategies of the Howard years will fail. They simply do not have the wit.
    The partisan pundits will laud it. They might even trot out a prospective “Turnbull’s brilliant budget bounce”.
    This will last less than a week after which the reality of this abysmal kakistocracy will prevail.

  5. helvityni

    They will be innovative , creative, finally; we’ll hear some stories on Tuesday night…

  6. John Millar

    Aged Care was handed over to the ‘For Profit’ sector by that helicopter (grand)parent Bronwyn. With such weak oversight we have seen the plethora of non care and abuse examples in the 20 years since. Another failure of ideology over humanity

  7. Kaye Lee

    They already announced that $100 billion aged care figure last year – it is funding over the next five years adding together lots of things.

    They spent $17.1 billion on aged care in 2016-17 (once again adding together many things)

    I do think Ken Wyatt is a caring man who is doing what he can. Any improvement (rather than the cuts from 2014-16) is welcome but they shouldn’t keep reannouncing stuff like it is new.

  8. Frank Smith

    I note that Morriscum and Conmann appear to have learnt a lesson from the immediate aftermath of the 2014 budget. The Treasurer and Finance Minister are now seen in the pub before budget night sipping beers with “working Aussies” rather than celebrating on a Parliament House balcony with Havana cigars after a disastrous budget. Ah, how things can change when survival becomes the imperative! They haven’t changed their blue ties though so the question is “will those ‘working Aussies’ be fooled yet again by Coalition spin doctors”?

  9. wam

    The debt deficit was always a baldrick cunning plan but the rabbott delivered the morning shows with the controverrsy Sadly labor has flirted with exposing the lnp lies, with tanya on today show,but has let the power of the AAA rating still even with the arseholes doubling the debt(thanks to the greens) become lost.
    Mr lord, I am a monkey magic fan and like he you are irrepressible in you faith in shorten. Not sure about ‘intrigue’ because that is a word that I use about the rabbott because billy is not up to intrigue albeit he can be intriguing??

    What is in a name? How can anyone say ‘trickle down economics’ doesn’t work? I read US$171b to share holders and $6b to workers. Is 30 to 1 not fair for conservatives?

  10. helvityni

    John Millar; ” Another failure of ideology over humanity. ” Yes, once more (without feeling)…

    Frank Smith, the spin-doctors tell stories before the Budget , and afterwards they’ll explain us what they REALLY meant…

  11. Florence Howarth

    Suspect there is much more to innovation than building a few roads, railway lines & odd bridge. Suspect it means investing in human infrastructure as well.

  12. MikeW

    Get the microscopes out folks sure to be a lot of fine print in the budget that Morrison won’t mention.

  13. Terry2

    The fiendishly clever trick being perpetrated on us is that the corporate tax cuts that don’t have a chance of getting through the Senate will now be bundled with the personal income tax cuts and the Treasurer will tell us, with a straight face, that if the Senate (i.e. the Labor Party) don’t pass the package immediately, working Mums & Dads won’t get a tax cut in July.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat !

  14. Stephen Bowler

    Every year about a week before a budget and is handed down; media, charities, lobby groups and all and sundry, trot out their various wants and self serving ideas about what the budget should contain, somehow thinking that their individual wants will be considered by the treasurer of the time.
    Oh and how the treasurer revells in his or her new found popularity with photo ops galore and fained sincerity.

    How pathetic; how stupid; too bloody late; by a month before budget day all the budget has been already worked out been written up and sent to printers etc etc.

    It’s a bloody talk fest, a game.

    These media and organisations are supposed to be savvy, they and many others think somehow that its so important to get their point accross for the budget to address their apparently desperate situations, A WEEK BEFORE ITS HANDED DOWN !

  15. John O'Callaghan

    Morrison the Magician will be performing his amazing pea and thimble trick on Tuesday night at Parliament house in Canberra on the 8th of May at 7PM, so come one come all,free admission and lollies for the kiddies as well.
    Mr Morrison will astound us with his amazing sleight of hand,and will leave you speechless with a dazzilling display of dexterity,adroitness and deftness never before seen in the hallowed halls of this most auspicious eddifice in our nations capital,so dont be late folks because Morrison the Magician is retiring after this last spectaculous spalacious splendiferous display of deception to become President of The Talking In Tongues Transmission Association,so remember! this is your last chance to see this Charlatan in action! DONT BE LATE!

  16. Kronomex

    All I expect to see is the lower classes (let’s call it for what it is with the LNP) copping it in the neck yet again when the shiny foil falls off the Morriscum budget and they scramble to make up for the losses that are sure to occur. As with most promises the LNP make in a budget a lot will happen in the future so when it falls apart they can come up with excuses or blame Labor.

  17. Scott Cliften

    @ Stephen Bowler, thanks for a correct interpretation of the annual farce.
    @ Kronomex, sounds about right.
    The Treasurer with his best acting face declares a set of cunningly designed tax breaks aimed at anyone other than those who most need it. Watch for the joyous reaction of well-paid newsreaders.

  18. John Kelly

    A good article, John, but one small correction. Our grandchildren won’t be paying for our debt. Each generation only ever pays for its own spending. The “debt” so called is not real debt. There was never a debt and deficit disaster. If there was, we would be in twice as much trouble as we were in 2013. Government’s of both persuasions choose to run the country as if it were a household. That’s a political choice and does not reflect the reality of a fiat currency under which we and most western countries (excluding the Eurozone), operate. One can only hope that a journalist with balls could take Morrison and co. to task in the upcoming election campaign on this very point. But I’m not holding my breath.

  19. Möbius Ecko

    I wonder what the word count for “Labor” will be in Morrison’s budget speech?

    You will be able to gauge how bad the budget is by how much it is used to negatively attack Labor rather than spruik the positives of it for the nation.

  20. diannaart

    The School Chaplaincy Program is to finish this year, unless the pious LNP get their prayers answered for an increase of 25% to the $250 million program and that’s not all, that the program be permanent.

    I guess with the magic disappearance of the big bad debt thingy, Morrison may well grant those prayers.

    A push is on within the federal government to renew, and significantly boost, the “absolutely essential” school chaplaincy program in this year’s budget.

    Fairfax Media has learnt dozens of Liberal MPs are lobbying senior ministers to increase funding for the $250 million scheme by 25 per cent, and make it a permanent, indexed commitment.

  21. Matters Not

    John Kelly re:

    but one small correction. Our grandchildren won’t be paying for our debt. Each generation only ever pays for its own spending. The “debt” so called is not real debt. There was never a debt and deficit disaster

    Seriously, what’s with this small correction crap? Surely, you don’t believe that for a moment. And if you do, your credibility would be destroyed? Yes?

    As for the political reality. (Apart from the MMT construction of reality.) The author has a politically valid point.

  22. Kronomex

    How in f—s sake are they going to pay for it?

    “Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack this week indicated the Government would pay off its massive $523bn debt by 2021.”

    McCormack, who with a few words seems to have squarely placed the entire debt as…you guessed it…being Labor’s debt and fault.

    “He’s [Morrison’s] looking forward to getting this nation back on track, so that by 2021 we’ve paid down Labor’s debt.”

    My favourite part of the article was, with absolutely no surprise –

    “The tax cut will be introduced on July 1, with recipients receiving the boost in an end-of-year tax rebate. But high-income earners will be protected from having to pay more taxes.”

    So it’s to be a Clayton’s tax cut which can be halted or stopped if there is suddenly another concocted “debt and deficit disaster” or something just as horrible which of course won’t be their fault. And we must shed a tear for the poor 10% who must be looked after because they are so unfairly burdened.

    Sigh, what else did we expect, it is the LNP after all.

    Oh yes, the SMH goes into a little more detail, but it still doesn’t change much. A Clayton’s budget that is full of magic flying pigs.

  23. diannaart

    Tax cuts for low to middle income do nothing to compensate for decades of wage stagnation, Scott Morrison.

  24. Kronomex

    This makes me want to be violently ill –

    ” ABC to have its funding cut by $83.7 million over three years. Meanwhile a Captain Cook statue in Scott Morrison’s electorate is to be built at a cost of $25m.”

    Then there is these scary fascist style bits –

    Sorry, but as far as the government is concerned, you must be up to no good. In an attempt to stamp out money laundering and tax evasion, large cash payments over $10,000 will be banned economy-wide from July 1, 2019. Payments will instead have to be made through electronic transfer or by cheque.

    The government has splashed out to hunt down criminals, terrorists and paedophiles. More than $37 million has been pledged for the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, $68.6 million to establish the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, and $59.1 million to establish the National Criminal Intelligence System, a national database for use by police and intelligence agencies.

    The government is investing $293.6 million in aviation security to safeguard Australia against “evolving threats” in civil aviation. This will include $50.1 million to enhance security at 64 regional airports with new and upgraded screening technologies.
    It will also spend $121.6 million to enhance screening of air cargo and international mail.
    The government is also providing $62.2 million to deter people smuggling.
    To tackle the increasing threat of cyber crime and terrorism, the government is also providing $130 million to identify threats via visa screening.

    Il Duttonuci will be just about having orgasms. More power for the most evil little man in the country, yay. Dog help us if the bastards get back in again!

  25. Glenn Barry

    On February 12, 2018 at 11:53 pm – I wrote…

    I want to see Morriscum in a cute little skirt, nice read shoes singing somewhere over the rainbow, because he’s in F#$@ing fantasy land

    I am the prophet

  26. PK1765

    Matters not Re: John Kelly…

    MMT simply describes the fiat monetary system… it is a macroeconomic reality… use a bit of brain logic… what happens if you tried to create money or a Business did??? Thats right you’d and the Business owners would be in jail for counterfeiting… so where does it come from initially, the Federal Government…

    The most dangerous question in political debate is the one always rolled out by every journalist, on air or in other media, which is to ask a politician ‘How are you going to pay for it?’

    Why is the question dangerous?

    It assumes that the government spends other people’s money. It doesn’t. It spends it’s own. That’s because it actually creates all money at the end of the day (even that put into circulation by private banks is done under government licence). And because it creates all money there is technically no limit on the amount it can produce if it so wants.

    by Richard Murphy
    on behalf of Tax Research LLP.
    Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City, University of London
    Certificate from the Institute of Chartered Accountant in England and Wales

    How are you going to pay for it?

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