Running out of money? What an incredibly stupid thing for Joe Hockey to say. The Health cost for the nation is set to increase from $65 billion to $75 billion in three years and this is the reason he says we are running out of money. Really? After what we have witnessed from this government over the past six months I think it’s time Joe realised we are now less likely to fall for this kind of emotional hysteria without hard evidence. We live in an educated society. Unlike the days of Robert Menzies where the ‘reds under the beds’ tactic of the Liberal Party was played out so successfully, today our politicians need to be reminded that we are a thinking nation. Well, most of us.
If we are running out of money then we should double the Medicare levy from 1.5% to 3% and that will raise an extra $10 billion in just one year. There you are, problem fixed! Scrap the private health insurance rebate while we are there and we have another $5 billion. See, it’s easy when we de-mist our glasses and see the outgoing revenue streams for what they are. It’s the wealthy where we need to focus our attention. But it comes at a cost. It means the highest paid in the country will have to contribute the most. I suspect that’s why it won’t happen.
I can’t help but wonder what Joe Hockey was thinking to have him say we will run out of money. Is he setting us up for something? If so, he is underestimating the resilience of the Australian people. If he wants to prepare us for some shock and awe why not just come out and say it. If he wants to scrap possibly the most advanced universal health system in the world and substitute it for something less, for no reason other than to bring in a surplus budget, why not just say so. But if he is trying to scare the voters with some childish little door stop comment surely he could do better than that. I could do better than that. Pathetic, Joe. Utterly pathetic!
What we are witnessing here is a classic case of ‘ideology blues’. It’s a condition conservative governments suffer when they see anyone they despise receiving government money; the unemployed, the sick, public servants, the lower income workers and the aged; the easy targets in budgetary reviews. It is never the wealthy, the overpaid, the corporate sector, politicians, mining magnates and so on. Tony Abbott says he wants to be the best friend Medicare ever had. Another ridiculous statement! What does that mean? Would a best friend make poor people pay an upfront fee at their local GP and then try to convince them it is in their best interests?
Not content with trying to butcher the health system Joe wants to get stuck into welfare and education as well. Never mind the assurances his leader gave prior to the election. Joe Hockey should take a hint from a popularity survey published in The Saturday Age on 22nd February. It shows he has a net positive approval rating of 2%. His boss has a negative rating of 8%. Don’t bother looking at Christopher Pyne’s figures. But I think he had better start rethinking how he will address the budget position and where his focus should be if he wants to hang on to that 2%. And he should also take a look at voters’ attitude to education. 63% want the full Gonski school funding package for 6 years, not the 4 years reluctantly agreed to by the government. That 63% includes a lot of people who voted Liberal in the last election.
Putting the Treasurer’s bizarre comments in context, they were a prelude to a meeting of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Sydney, a meeting that includes IMF chief Christine Lagarde. He has placed great store in the agenda of growth and resilience and thinks Australia can be a beacon of light leading the world to a better economic future. Good luck with that. He wants investment in infrastructure to be a priority but his only suggestion as to how this could be funded is to privatise anything that is not tied down.
In reality the finance ministers, the central bank governors and Christine Lagarde have heard it all before. Their attention is on the position of their own countries and the impact of winding back their own post GFC stimulation measures which many of them are still applying. Any brash young newcomer’s advice will be largely ignored; particularly one that espouses cutting back on health and education. Besides, pushing for growth is something they have agreed to before, but have never done anything about once they got back home.
So, my advice to Joe Hockey is that whenever he feels the onset of emotional histrionics and the urge to speak about curtailing spending in unsustainable areas, he should concentrate on subsidy payments to industries with record profits that don’t need it, and leave alone those areas of the economy that do.
And one more piece of advice: don’t try to be too clever.
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