“Bad news, dear. I’ve just been sacked!”
“Never mind, we’ll sit down and work out ways we can tighten our belts so we can get through this.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no way we could do a budget at the moment. Everything’s too uncertain!”
“But don’t we need to live within our means.”
“No, that was just when I didn’t want you to spend any money.”
Yes, it doesn’t make sense when you use the household analogy that the Liberals are so fond of when talking Federal budgets, but then there’s a lot of things that don’t make sense including the fact that the National Party can continue to find leaders who make us all think of Tim Fischer as an intellectual giant.
Covid-19 has certainly raised a lot of questions, and I don’t just mean about whether there’s a Covid-18 somewhere that nobody told us about. Let’s take the Prime Minister’s comments about people who’ve lost their jobs “through no fault of their own”. Are we meant to infer from this that up until now, if somebody found themselves unemployed, it was their own fault?
It seems that way, because we were also told that we’d have people suddenly having to deal with Centrelink who’d had no experience of being on welfare before. Don’t know how to break it to the Coalition, but every day, somebody has that experience. It’s not like the unemployed are a permanent underclass who are born with an Indue card. In fact, all the reasons for not raising Newstart was that it was only a temporary thing because “the best form of welfare is a job”!
Speaking of inferences, what does one make of the idea that those who lose their jobs because of the Coronavirus are to be given quick access to a temporary wage that will be set at a higher rate than the “undeserving” people who haven’t had their dole raised in real terms since the days where we thought that the election of John Howard was an aberration that would be fixed at the next election? Are we to presume that this is to boost the economy? Or are we to presume that this is an admission that nobody could be expected to survive on Newstart and if too many people are forced onto it, no amount of sporting grants to stop girls having to change behind trees will save the government’s bacon.
Or should that be pork?
No, it seems there’s a better class of unemployed who can’t be expected to make do with the regular dole payments, unlike those people who don’t seem to understand that the best form of welfare is to be compelled to keep looking for a job while half the businesses in Australia are locked down.
At least, Peter Dutton is going to “come after” the hoarders. I’m not sure what law he intends to use but the special powers to deal with terrorists give him a pretty free hand. Mind you, he’ll only be coming after you if you have more than the prescribed number of toilet rolls or cans of baked beans. Unlike hoarding houses, this is not about the politics of envy or class warfare. Nah, keep buying those investment properties there’s no law against that. Or hoarding toilet paper, as far as I’m away, but I’m not Minister for Home Invasions.
While this may seem un-Australian, I can’t help but wonder if the Budget is being delayed for the simple reason that a May budget would have had next to no spending on the bushfires (the Emergency Fund being “notional”) or the response to the Coronavirus and it would have clearly laid out how the surplus that we achieved before we achieved it, was rather like the benefits Morrison got from an empathy consultant – largely imaginary.
Yes, when Scottie was pressed about the surplus a few weeks ago, he responded by asking if any of the journalists predicted the Coronavirus. This deflection was largely successful because none of them actually thought to say they they weren’t the ones making the predictions. If I’d declared that Gold Coast Suns will win the flag this year, I can’t say that nobody predicted the shorter season and if hadn’t been for that, they’d have won their last five games and made the finals, so there was absolutely nothing wrong with my original prophecy.
Delaying the Budget seems strange. After all it’s just a statement of what you expect to happen which always needs to be adjusted when circumstances change. To postpone it to October seems to suggest that Frydenberg is saying that he has no idea what’s happening or what’s likely to happen. While this may be true, there’s always an element of uncertainty about a budget and to throw your hands up and say it’s all too hard at the moment, doesn’t really inspire confidence.
Well, like those “Back In Black” mugs that have been removed from the Liberal merchandising, it’s always dangerous to get ahead of yourself but there’s a difference between laying out a set of expectations and declaring the future certain. If I say that the current government will be the ones who presided over the first recession in Australia this century, I’m running the risk that the run on toilet paper will somehow stop there being two quarters of negative growth, but I think it’s a lot safer than Morrison’s “We delivered a budget surplus next year”.
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