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Costello's Budget no.10 « Previous | |Next »
May 10, 2005

I flew into Canberra last night on the shuttle service. I go into budget lockup early this afternoon and stay there until 7.30 pm. So I will be spending the next 6 hours working my way through the documents of the 10th Costello Budget.

In that time I will try to make sense of the volumes of documents, probe the ways that the surplus will be spent on facilitating the long-term reform agenda, and analyze the Treasury's economic strategy on economic governance.


There's lots of money to play with. Will it be spent on the homeless and the vulnerable?

The economic back drop to the budget strategy is 3-4 years of big trade deficits in spite of a strong global economy and good commodity prices for Australian producers. This is a woeful trade performance which cannot be dismissed as a short-term glitch. So how will they tackle it?

My other question going into the lockup: is the Howard Government serious about welfare-to-work reform, given all the rhetoric about the Costello Budget helping get people get off welfare and back into the workforce. As Andrew Bartlett rightly observes:

This aim is something that virtually no Australian has a problem with. The trouble is that this Government's record shows much more of an emphasis on 'getting people off welfare' without worrying so much about first making sure those same people are getting 'back into work.'

I concur. So:is the reform thrust going to be more about crime and punishment (harsh welfare penalties), or a big investment in providing disabled and unemployed people with real opportunites for the training, education and employment they need. Will the reforms go beyond forcing people to do work-for-the dole programs that have little or no skills or training components?

The budget is a chance to assess whether the Howard Government can overcome its reform fatigue, given a strongly growing economy and the big demographic changes of an ageing population that are already beginning to bite.

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

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I've bene in budget lockup and I'm too tired to post. Have a read of this. It is opportune since the environment did not figure that strongly in the federal budget.... [Read More]



Now that's real cartooning.