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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

the feel-good Budget « Previous | |Next »
May 12, 2004

I watched Costello deliver his Budget. Strong economy, strong families and reform was the theme of the rather flat speech. Then I caught the quick wrap on the 7.30 Report, where Kerry asks the tough questions and nails the evasive answers about the spending spree.

He didn't ask very many about the little money being spent on the nation's collapsing social, environmental and economic infrastructure?

What I saw confirmed the pre-budget Government "leaks": it was all about families and tax cuts for those with lots of money. Singles on below average income have to rely on a strong economy, good economic policy and sound economic management. There was nothing much on education; suprisingly little on health apart from a boost to aged care; nothing on the environment.

Inequality is built into the Costello budget, since those on low to middle incomes--Labor's traditional constituency--- were forgotten. See John Quiggin for more on the good, the bad and the ugly.

Cleverly crafted was my immediate response. A classic pre-election budget that makes it very difficult for Labor. It helps people to juggle family and work responsibilities and it will play well with the middle income voters in the marginal seats, such as those in inner Adelaide. Hence all the smiles on the Minister's faces. They will have a bounce in their step tomorrow as they seized back the political agenda---pinched it from the ALP. And they still have $2.4billion left in the war chest to tie up the loose ends. They've achieved their central goal: making life difficult for the Latham-led ALP.

Who cares if the cupboard is bare? Who cares if the billions pumped into the economy will fuel interest rates. The budget does not do too much economic damage so the financial markets will be relaxed and comfortable about the "growth dividend" to the middle class. Remember public debt is very low and the economic downturn is still around the corner. And who is thinking about the increasing current account deficits, rising debt and unemployment?

There are some real uglies. No money for the Murray-Darling Basin: nothing for buying back the over-allocated entitlements; no commitment to returning 100 gigalitres a year to the River Murray for a decade; no mechanisms put in place to recover the water to help restore health to the river.

I'm working my way through Budget Paper No 1. But I will run out of time.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:08 AM | | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (1)

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Trevor, I've been very busy with all that budget stuff these last few days. It is hard to pick up [Read More]



what do you make of this new "National Values Framework" in schools, Gary?

Okay with provisos.

A values education is a good idea--in the sense of helping people to think ethically. Value-free kids and adults is a genuine problem.

It is good if they teach students to think critically and for themselves at the same time as active and informed citizens.

That means they think otherwise to what the government says about going to war, locking up refugees in detention centres etc etc.

It becomes a problem when John Howard says that the public school system is too politically correct and is too value free. It cannot be both.

In this situation a values education becomes an instrument in the re-engineering of the education system. It is being used to run down the public education system in favour of a private one.

A good values education would enable, and empower, students to see through, and challenge the above, as part of them defending the push for a more democratic Australia.