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

today and tomorrow « Previous | |Next »
May 10, 2006

The editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald says that the 'overwhelming emphasis of the budget is on tax cuts, to be introduced from July 1. At the height of a once-in-a-lifetime boom in commodity exports it is a risky strategy, devised under pressure. It reveals a Treasurer who may want to make gestures towards building Australia's coming years, but whose focus is fixed on the politics of the present.'

MoirC7.jpg
Alan Moir

A fair enough comment? The Canberra Times says that 'Peter Costello has gone further than most commentators expected in attacking tax rates, and in lowering top rates, but the fundamental task of reform is still ahead of him, something manifest as well in the way government has plenty of money in the kitty for later stages of the electoral cycle.'

There is a developing consensus on this is there not? It provides plenty of oportunities for the Opposition Leader to use his budget reply to talk about the economy's long-term future, education and the need to tackle structural weaknesses in the economy, especially in the area of skills. Or will the ALP be left exposed?

Update:11 May
Tim Colebatch in The Age makes some good points. He says:

What we needed from this budget, now more than ever, was a policy shift back to basics. We needed to build up the country's capacity to earn its way in the world, after the worst period of export growth in its post-war history.That means increasing spending on skills, education and training, export support, industry development and infrastructure, the drivers of future growth.

This budget spends $11.6 billion of new money in 2006-07 alone, but hardly any of that is being spent where it will increase Australia's capacity to export. There is $400 million of new investment, mostly on highways, $20 million a year extra for apprenticeships, nothing at all to lift exports, and apart from more generous depreciation rates, little for manufacturing.

By contrast, there are income tax cuts worth $9 billion a year and hundreds of new spending initiatives cumulatively costing us billions of dollars in such areas as defence, security, and fraud control.This is a Government in economic drift. It is awash with tax revenues, yet it is so obsessed with buying votes that it is prepared to burn our future rather than build it. What a waste.


A good critique isn't it.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:55 PM | | Comments (8)
Comments

Comments

Tim Colebatch from The Age is even more scathing:

There may have been worse budgets than this one for their times, but they were long ago. The last was probably 1974, when the Whitlam government refused to let a minor detail like double-digit inflation get in the way of its spending plans.

This budget, like the last few, was presented by Peter Costello, but bears the imprint of John Howard vote-buying at full speed. It ignores minor details such as record current account deficits and dependence on foreign debt, to hurl money at marginal voters, core Liberal constituencies, favoured business interests and ageing Australians alike……

This is a Government in economic drift. It is awash with tax revenues, yet it is so obsessed with buying votes that it is prepared to burn our future rather than build it. What a waste.

Guido,
I read the Colebatch piece before your post--and added it in as an update.

Yes. The Colebatch piece is probably the best of the commentary. I was unable to see what was written in the AFR as the newsagent had sold out on Wednesday and Thursday when I got there at lunchtime.

Colebatch hits the nail on the head for me.

But as I asked in a previous post, does the electorate really care about future proofing or are the great majority just living for today?

I think the latter is the case, as that is what we are being conditioned to do.

This budget really is shameful, and the electorate is like a fat kid in a lolly store, where the owner is actually a dentist...

Big Bob,
you ask:

does the electorate really care about future proofing or are the great majority just living for today?

Maybe the two dovetail together? People are concerned about what its costing them to live these days---they just cannot get out of debt. So they are worried about their future.

The middle income families only got around a $10 dollar tax cut --not really enough to ease the financial anxieties is it. Those anxieties are formed by a sense of being squeezed despite the prosperity.

Bibbob, does the electorate really care about future proofing or are the great majority just living for today?

I dont think it is any surprise that a citizen who is mired in day to day life has no "national vision". That is why we let politics be a specialist and dedicated position.

Supposedly it is what we elect and pay federal politicians for.

That's another fine mess you have got us into Peter.
The budget is vote buying par excellance, I gotta hand it to Howard and the smirker they've got the working class worked out right down to the last plasma t.v., only this time it will probably be a vacume cleaner that no doubt can suck the carpet right off the floor. So much cash so little time.

Whilst our beloved treasurer spends money like a drunken sailor, our schools and hospitals fall into, for millionairs only status. Whilst the suburban num nuts are watching their plasma t.v.'s playing with their new d.v.d.'s lawn mowers and other consumables they have sold their souls for the forty pieces of silver, just aint gonna cut it. And we are going to rue the day we voted this present shower of bastards in.

I could go on taking the piss for a month. My God what is wrong with us as a people is money all that matters? The funny thing is, this whole economic miracle we are having at present is all going to blow up in our faces.

As an aside I was talking to a mate the other day,he was waxing on about how his house had tripled in price under Howard. Very nice I said so now when your son who is a motor mechanic wants to settle down and buy a house in the future, unless he wins the lotto or they start paying mechanics $60 bucks an hour, just like me your gonna probably have to reverse your mortgage on the house you have just finished paying off, to give your children a start.

We are all going to rue the day the Howard conservatives got control of Australia.
Phill

Cameron,
You write:

I dont think it is any surprise that a citizen who is mired in day to day life has no "national vision".

Yes it has faded.The old vision of a social democratic Australia has been kicked away by globalization.

The new national vision is prosperity, being successful and earning lots of money.It's a market vision that the middle class aspires to.

Hence all the pollie spin about the 'politics of envy' to bat away any criticisms about the new form of life.

Phill,

This account makes good sense about the squeeze on middle Australia.

A political contradiction of today is that many working class people have shifted from the ALP to vote for Howard.This shift started in 1996 and this socailly conservative working class have remained with Howard ever since.

Why so? Values override economics. National security overides economics. The socially conservative (Tory?) working class now continually vote in those who would squeeze them economically though turning things into a market (eg., education, child care and health).

Beazley,in his pitch to Middle Australia in his budget reply, counteracted on education (TAFE) and child care, but not health.