June 18, 2014
Abbott-Hockey budget have failed to convince the public of a budget emergency. So they are shifting the rhetoric to lifters and leaners with unfairness being defined in terms of the lifters having to work a month a year to support the "leaners"--those Australians on pensions and benefits. The "learners", by implication, are the undeserving poor.
Abbott-Hockey seem to unaware that after the global financial crisis the political terrain has shifted to seeing economics in terms of the increasing economic inequality under a neo-liberal mode of governance. Their budget was seen to be increasing this inequality and that is why it was seen to be unfair. The Abbott-Hockey rhetoric of lifters and leaners basically says that inequality exists and that it is okay and runs counter to the view that the degree of inequality is both unfair and increasing.
So Abbott and Hockey's budget is seen to be based on inequality and social divisiveness in a rogue coal state trying to keep King Coal alive despite its key contribution to climate change. The budget is hard to sell cos making the rich richer by squeezing everyone else, and making taxation become regressive---the rich pay less, the poor pay more---goes against the grain of the egalitarian ethos in Australian culture.
The aim of a neoliberal mode of governance is the restoration of the power of capital to determine the distribution of wealth and to establish the enterprise as dominant form. This requires that it target society as a whole for a fundamental reconstruction, putting in place new mechanisms to control individual conduct. It is Abbott and Hockey's job to implement this. Hence all their rhetoric about the Australian economy spirally down and becoming "sclerotic" due to its "excessive" welfare state and "rigid" labor markets.
Their ideology postulates that the reduction of state interventions in economic and social activities and the deregulation of labor and financial markets, as well as of commerce and investments, have liberated the enormous potential of capitalism to create an unprecedented era of social well-being in the world's population.
What people see is the substantial growth of social inequalities and that this fundamentally undermines the argument that market rewards are “fair.”