When Joe Hockey announced that he was abandoning the 2018 date for returning the Budget to surplus, I suspected that yet again he’d blame the Labor party for his inability to deliver on his promise, but I never thought he’d try to suggest that it was – in fact – the Labor Party that tried to hold him to a target of ever getting it back into surplus.
“I never set a target. That was implied by the Labor party,” he said.
Although this does have the qualifier “based on the numbers presented today”, one would have to suggest that it’s rather disingenuos to base them on numbers that you don’t believe.
JOE HOCKEY (National Press Club, 2012): Based on the numbers presented last Tuesday night we will achieve a surplus in our first year in office and we will achieve a surplus for every year of the first term.
Ok, it’s fair to point out that they did abandon such an ambitious timeline prior to the election, but even after the election we’ve been told many, many times that getting the Budget back on – track that’s what’s important.
As Mr Hockey told us in his update on prior to the official update on the Budget:
“Twelve months ago, iron ore was at $120 a tonne,” he said. “There were market expectations it would fall to $95 a tonne. We budgeted $92 a tonne. It’s currently $63 and we are forecasting that it will remain around $60 a tonne for the foreseeable future. That more than 30 per cent fall in iron ore prices has had a big impact on the budget, as has a 15 per cent fall in thermal coal and a 20 per cent fall in wheat prices since the budget. As a result, the forecast decline in the terms of trade this year is the largest since records were first kept in 1959.
“The government has decided to use the budget, which is stronger than it was 12 months ago, as a shock absorber for the biggest fall in our export prices in many years. If we don’t use the budget as a shock absorber for this extraordinary fall in the terms of trade, then Australians will lose jobs and we will lose our prosperity.”
Mm, I don’t quite understand how the Budget is stronger than it was twelve months ago given the expectation is that it’s expected to blow out by billions of dollars in current year. In fact, it may even blow out by more this year than the measures being “held up” in the Senate (which are over the forward estimates and not as enormous as they seem when you say them quickly!) But hey, Joe must know what he’s doing. After all, he sounded so confident when he was in Opposition.
Yep, they’d be a “no excuses, no surprises” government. But they weren’t expecting the commodity prices to fall and so that’s not their surprise, which means that it’s not an excuse either. It’s just one of those things that nobody has any control over.
So Joe’s going to get the Budget back on track. But he won’t be setting a timeline. It seems the blog I wrote yesterday about the Liberals changing their name to the “Sleeping Dogs Party” is closer to the truth than I thought. I should probably sue Joe for copyright.
So Joe tells us that the Budget is going to be used as a “shock absorber” otherwise people would “lose their jobs”. Part of the way he’s using it as a shock absorber is by shutting down government departments and sacking public servants, because they don’t count as real jobs, and they certainly don’t spend the money they earn in the “real” economy. No, this’ll help consumer confidence grow and stop the unemployment rate rising.
So Joe’s going to get the Budget back on track. When he can. Just don’t rush him, ok. He’s had a lot of unexpected events. You can’t plan for the future, you know. And anyway, he didn’t promise a timeline. We just have to know that he’s in there, doing his best.
And it’s all the Labor Party’s fault anyhow.