The Coalition have delivered a budget full of promises that they hope will win them re-election but, until those promises actually eventuate, they’re only words.
It is perhaps more instructive to examine what the government has actually done with its two terms in office rather than listen to a whole heap of things that haven’t happened yet.
The budget is not in the black. At the end of February, there was a deficit of $10.657 billion. The budget predicts that that will reduce to a deficit of $4.2 billion by the end of June.
They have not paid down “Labor’s debt”. They have increased net debt from $161.2 billion at the end of August 2013 to $370.9 billion at the end of February 2019 despite a strengthening world economy.
The Coalition like to make much of their job “creation”. From November 2007 to September 2013, the Labor Party, whilst negotiating the GFC, created 1.1024 million jobs. The Coalition have, by the end of February 2019, created 1.0952 million jobs.
Ever since the carbon price was removed, emissions have gone up. The latest figures show that emissions to the end of September 2018 were expected to be 2.6% below emissions in 2000. Our commitment was to reduce them to 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. This will only be achieved by dodgy accounting.
Meanwhile we suffer increasingly intense droughts, floods, bushfires and cyclones and the Great Barrier Reef hovers on the edge of extinction as bleaching events come more frequently.
The mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Scheme, with water theft facilitated by the government, has put our largest river system, and all those who rely on it, under great stress.
Instead of a world-class FttP national broadband network that could cope with the demands of the future, we are using aging copper connections that cannot even deal with the demands of today.
Foreign aid has been slashed in every Coalition budget with it now at its lowest level ever. Meanwhile, defence spending has received an increase above and beyond what had been budgeted every year.
Not only did we not get the “rolled gold” paid parental leave for “women of calibre” that we were promised, parental leave entitlements have been cut back with parents no longer able to combine the government leave with workplace leave.
Penalty rates have been cut, wages have stagnated, and job security has been eroded.
Over three million people are living in poverty and more than 100,000 are homeless.
Power prices have skyrocketed and we still don’t have an energy policy.
Little progress has been made on Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage. Aboriginal people are incarcerated at record rates and recommendations from countless reviews remain ignored. In what was a heart-breaking snub, the Uluru Statement From the Heart was summarily dismissed.
In 2012, Australia ranked 7th on Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI). By 2015 it had slipped to 13th and has remained there ever since.
In 2014, we were mentioned on the Human Rights watch list for the first time and have scored a mention every year since.
At the end of February, there remained 974 people stuck on Manus and Nauru for whom the government has been unable, or unwilling, to find resettlement places. In September last year, incoming UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet referred to Australia’s offshore processing centres as an “affront to the protection of human rights.”
In July 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern over the rate of gender-based violence against women in Australia, the treatment of asylum seeker and refugee women in offshore detention on Nauru, and the lack of harmonization in state and territory legislation on abortion.
The UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders released a report on Australia in February 2018 highlighting efforts to undermine the Australian Human Rights Commission, and how activists face “enormous pressure” and vilification from public officials and media outlets.
It is unsurprising that Australia has fallen out of the top ten on the World Happiness Index this year.
Two sitting Prime Ministers have been knifed by their own party, scandals have abounded, and internecine warfare remains fierce with the hard right inflicting policy paralysis and the Nats deciding it’s every man for himself.
Tony Abbott once asked for the government to be “judged on what we do, not on what we say.”
And so they should be.
The budget is just words and numbers on a bit of paper that cannot erase the reality of the last six years.
The shit-eating grins and smirks need to be well and truly wiped off the faces of the worst government ever.
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