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

Canberra watch « Previous | |Next »
May 16, 2008

I watched Brendon Nelson's Budget reply. His performance was okay (passionate populist outrage) but the content was pretty thin. The Coalition doesn't have many cards to deal with, given their recent talk about Rudd's budget as an irresponsible big spend high tax one ( despite the huge tax cuts) that soaks the rich (tax on luxury cars) and doesn't make enough cuts to government spending to constrain inflation that isn't a problem.

SwanBudget1.jpg Leak

In contrast, the Coalition presents itself as a low tax party (so, in an overheated economy they would fuel inflation and increase interest rates, grocery prices and increase unemployment). As their fiscal policy is at odds with the RBA's monetary policy rather than working together, so their economic management credibility looks tacky and fractured. Their claim that they do not support higher taxes and higher spending is at odds with their record as a government.

Nelson's performance was probably enough to protect his leadership in the short term. The Coalition will block the tax on alcopops (its just a tax grab) the Medicare levy (defend private health insurance) and budget changes to income tests for the Commonwealth Seniors card in the Senate (formal equality). They will reduce the excise on petrol by 5 cents to make it cheaper (so much for enabling the shift to a carbon economy) whilst giving a high priority to dealing with the environmental challenge.

The Coalition's decision to oppose the tax on premixed spirit drinks (alcopops) on the same basis as spirits in general looks to me to be akin to political suicide. This is a preventative health measure designed to discourage excessive drinking among young people, particularly young women. All the tax does is tax the pre-mixed spirit drinks on the same basis as unmixed spirit drinks.

Julie Bishop on Lateline tried to justify the Coalition's opposition to scrapping the changes to private health insurance (increasing the threshold to pay the Medicare levy surcharge) as forcing people into a NHS socialist medicine model. Yet this is a tax cut that eases the penalties put in place by the Howard government to subsidise the private health insurance industry and shift people into conuming private health services. The language of choice--consumers can choose to purchase the products offered by the private health insurance---is now dumped in order to prop up the private insurance industry.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:45 AM | | Comments (8)


Just like Krudd and his gang, Nelson can promise anything while he's opposition leader. Like Krudd has found out there is a huge gulf between dreams and reality.

The Coalition is really at sixes and sevens. Nelson, appears to have dropped the language of choice despite the appeal to the individual. He also continues his university bashing ---academics are more concerned with social engineering than high quality teaching. We need more teachers.

The Howard Government was a social engineering government --forcing people to pay a lot more for their education and health care and running down public education and health.

Henry Ergas addresses the choice issue in an op-ed in The Australian. He says that:

it is choice [that] is the key to efficiency. At the end of the day, it is consumers who are best placed to evaluate the services offered to them by suppliers. And it is the threat of that choice being exercised that disciplines suppliers and ensures that they innovate, invest and provide consumers with enduring is that choice is the key to efficiency. At the end of the day, it is consumers who are best placed to evaluate the services offered to them by suppliers. And it is the threat of that choice being exercised that disciplines suppliers and ensures that they innovate, invest and provide consumers with enduring value....This is no less true of the services traditionally provided by state governments, including education and health, than it is of those goods and services supplied by the private sector. It is for this reason that the expansion of choice that has occurred in the past decade - with the growth of non-government schools and private hospitals - is so important.

He adds that Labor came to office committed to maintaining choice, and rightly so. But this makes the messages in Labor's first budget mixed, if not somewhat concerning. then this:
Weakening private health insurance could affect the growth of the private hospital sector, making consumers more dependent on a public hospital system that has found it difficult to meet the community's expectations. It may be that this is merely the consequence of rushed decision-making and a failure to think through the longer-term effects of what is being done. But it could also reflect an instinctive and unthinking centralism that views choice as incidental rather than being at the core of good policy.

He ignores that reducing the tax on the Medicare levy provides greater choice.It gives them more money in their pocket and ---people can evaluate whether to go public or private.

the clash between dreams and reality for Nelson may be resolved in a quick fashion; and sooner rather than latter.

There wasn't an awful lot of budget in it, considering it was supposed to be a budget reply.

We're all pretty sick to death of 'working families', but around two thirds of Nelson's speech was conservative values statements. It sounded as if he'd stuck a few extra budget paragraphs into an Anzac Day speech.

Aah Lyn, the performance, the perfomance. What matters in the House of Representatives is the political theatre. What we are being presented with from the Opposition is a comedy routine by rusty actors who are not sure of their lines. So they stumble around cover it up with confected moral outrage.

the Stay-at-home mums need to get drunk on alcopops and cry on Brendon's broad shoulder.

The Liberal response to the Rudd/Swan budget is all about short-term political gain its a kind of political posturing in terms of threatening to block the mix drink and luxury car tax in the Senate.

They can only do that until June 30th.