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Budget 2010: no frills « Previous | |Next »
May 11, 2010

The budget spin from Canberra is "no frills", judging from yesterday's news grabs on the TV news. The "no frills" will need to help restore the fortunes of a "progressive" Rudd Labor Government, since its political credibility is looking rather tattered due to its shift to the right. Kevin Rudd's popularity is in free fall. The aura is well and truly gone--the honeymoon is over. Rudd Labor are on the nose.


One explanation for the fall from grace is that Rudd Labor have adopted the NSW Labor Right's death grip script of all electoral tactics, little long-term strategy, and no substantive policies. Everything is geared to the tactical victory and the favourable headline in the 24 hour news cycle. Rudd Labor is repelling voters, who are shifting to the Greens. Nor are Rudd + Co increasing their support amongst those working families returning to being Howard's battlers.

The result of the oh too clever politics is that Abbot's Coalition is now in a "competitive" electoral position---Labor and the Coalition are suddenly neck and neck, and the recent trend is running against the Government and in favour of Tony Abbott and the Opposition. It looks increasingly as if the name of the game for Rudd Labor is to retain power for its own sake--just like the NSW Government--and that it will do what it takes to retain power.

No doubt, we will hear much rhetoric from Wayne Swan about how Rudd Labor's great success in dealing with a global recession--defying global economic gravity-- can be turned into growing prosperity --the China boom---for all Australians under the sound management and steady hands of a fiscally conservative Labor Government.

There will be few grand or big ticket expenditures---what the mainstream media call pre-election sweeteners or giving voters a raft of goodies in an election year. There will be more talk about deficit reduction and returning the budget to surplus quicker than forecast in the context of an international economy in crisis (the cold wind blowing from Athens).

That's my guess.

How will that be achieved? Will this austerity help them win an election? Presumably it will take some of the wind out of the tax and spend government out of control sails of the Abbott Coalition who claim that the Rudd Government is "Whitlamesque'' in its reckless spending. This is an opposition whose rhetoric of real action is increasingly retreating into the right corner.

I didn't watch Swan's budget address. I listened to the blues whilst taking photos of dead flowers instead. A return to a $1 billion surplus by 2012-13 from a budget deficit of $40.8 billion this year. This will be primarily from faster economic recovery and higher commodity prices (the resources boom) rather than from big budget cuts.There was little slash and burn and no tax cuts as the recovery in revenues flows to the treasury and not to voters.

Gee, there is even a little new renewable energy fund to try to prove the government is still committed to climate change, even without the emissions trading scheme it still admits is essential. No money for an emissions trading scheme. How about that? I note that they've taken the axe to to several environmental programs, worth millions just to show that they are "balanced". This is not a green government.

I note that more money has been pumped into primary health care -- $2.2 billion all up, in addition to the funding deal thrashed out with the states and territories at COAG. There are cheaper prescription medicines, more GP super clinics; more money for clinics and nurses to staff them; a nationwide network of primary health care organisations; and electronic health record by mid-2012.

The biggest health reforms "since the introduction of Medicare"? Health under Nicola Roxon represents the strong reformist side of the Rudd Government. But there is no new mental health funding and nothing on a universal dental scheme. However, the government has not lifted the proportion of the health budget spent on prevention much above the level of the previous government, partly because of the huge increases in spending on hospitals and doctors.

There will be more analysis tomorrow. Too much red wine has been drunk whilst listening to Dark Star.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:10 PM | | Comments (7)


So, it looks as though the Australian People will have to learn the hard way, as to Abbot.
But the big question remains, why are Labor so anal retentitive of rightist ideological nonsenses and prepared to pursue neoliberalism even after the inevitable policy failures that follow from policies constructed on ideas so at variance with reality?

For the first time in years, I didn't watch the budget either. We watched people carving up piglets on Masterchef instead.

The cartoon says it all, really. This government is so focused on the opposition it seems to have forgotten the rest of us.

I own a copy of the same version of Dark Star, Gary. I haven't listened to it in months, but I might give it a spin tonight.

I did watch the budget presentation on Their ABC, and I reckon you would've had a less depressing evening.

I just couldn't bring myself to watch Swan's Budget speech. It wasn't just the memories of being in a budget lockup killing time either. It was more a case of why bother? Its not worth it.

I watched some of Question Time today on the iMac--to check the pulse as it were and to gauge the political temperature. Depressing. I know that we are going through an election etc but the banality of it all is still depressing.

The primary health care initiatives were important though. Hopefully there will be more of this kind of reform in Labor's second term.

Oh... it pains me to say this...

As much as I detested his ideology, at least JWH had the guts to see things through. As far as I can tell, the current mob has no real agenda and precious little courage.

there are limits to their preventative/primary care health reform--they are not willing to take on the powerful food and alcohol industries by banning junk-food advertising before 9pm, even though obesity was recently found to trigger more diseases in Australia than tobacco.

judging by what I heard in Question Time yesterday the Coalition appears to think that the limited impact of the global economic recession had nothing to do with government spending; and even that there was no economic recession caused by the global financial crisis.

These guys are barely economic literate. They are just throwing mud willy nilly hoping something will stick.