The address by Scott Morrison at the National Press Club and his subsequent interview with Leigh Sales on Wednesday evening was, to say the least, uninspiring. Much of the generous time he was given was wasted on waffle.
For his audience of journalists, it was sleepy time, and one or two of them looked like they were about to drop off. For the politicians there lending moral support, they too looked none the wiser as to whether his message actually had content.
What was he saying? Answer: not much. The only message seemed to be a plan to move spending around, take from some, lump it somewhere else with no appreciable difference in the bottom line.
He talked about an, “uncertain outlook” limiting the government’s options. Really? When has an outlook ever been certain and doesn’t that mean you lead from the front, not hang back waiting to see what happens next?
His pet goal is to reduce spending and this is where he just doesn’t get it. He wants to take money away from some and give it to others, presumably in the form of tax cuts. That doesn’t mean more money available to spend. That means re-distributing existing spending. That won’t generate economic activity.
If you are confused, join the queue.
His interview with Leigh Sales saw him defending his government’s decision not to proceed with a proposal to increase the GST. That too was waffle. But even though he wanted to increase the GST and now couldn’t, he was keen to attack Labor for putting out policies that, in his words amount to “tax and spend”. Wow!
There’s every chance he is now feeling the heat after Labor have grabbed the initiative and announced tax expenditure savings in negative gearing, superannuation, capital gains and multi-national tax avoidance.
We will have to wait until the leaks from the budget begin before we can see how innovative Scott will be. His form to date suggests there’s not much turning around in his head beyond what Laura Tingle describes as, “overblown rhetoric”.
On the positive side, he has reinforced the common perception that the Coalition are a policy vacuum.