The Budget is nearly upon us again, and the government is in spin overdrive as usual. The game of ate seems to be to scare us about how savage it is going to be so that the nation can breath a sigh of relief that it was not as bad as they thought it was going to be. Of course there are a couple of game changers around. This was after all the year that the national accounts were to arrest the deficit, however it seems we will miss that mark by around 12 Billion dollars, due to shortfalls in revenue collection and blow outs in expenditure, the high Australian Dollar and a softening in the resources sector and concerns over the Chinese economy.
Malcolm Turnbull remarked early in the lead up to Wayne Swan‘s first Budget that the Labor Government would not deliver a surplus ever. He seems to have been on the money so far. The other concern we have is that this is an election year and the government is embarking on new big expenditure projects including the Gonski Education Reforms and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Both of these are no doubt good measures, and by and large I suspect the Australian population will be behind the NDIS. So far we seem to be funding a third of this from an addition to the medicare levy and that probably makes some sense.
It seems hard to see how this Budget will be anything other than another significant deficit budget. One concern of course is that the Government, which it might be said appears to be circling the proverbial political toilet and quite possibly headed closer to oblivion that defeat will put these massive reforms in place knowing that it will be the next government’s problem to work out how to pay for it. For a minority government hanging on by a questionable thread and with very little moral authority, that have pushed some major changes through, with our without a mandate. Some good, and some appalling, and some good ideas poorly executed.
In general terms Australians probably expect better economic management from a government than we think we are getting from this one, yet remain skeptical of the social agenda of the coalition.
The surprise announcement from Clive Palmer that he was relaunching the United Australia Party was interesting, and he got good press, and I believe made good sense and one wondered for a moment if that would make a difference. One week later the facebook page has 947 likes which is certainly less that viral. I admit I haven’t liked it yet, adopting a bit of a wait and see, and also concerned that I don’t want to be facebook flooded by UAP posts. I think that the mood of the electorate is a feeling of disappointment in the minor parties and the independents. I suspect that the minor parties will not enjoy the level of support they have previously. It would seem that despite a reticence often expressed about Tony Abbott, the need to remove the current incumbents will overcome that. Thony does seem to have been having a bit of a makeover, and trying to say less, and say it in a more statesmanlike way.
None the less I am not prepared the write of the government yet. Julia Gillard is a feisty campaigner and quite capable to pulling a rabbit out of the hat when required. The rabbit will however need a lot of bounce to get out of a 12 billion dollar hole.
Anyway for the next couple of weeks we can expect to hear all of the bad news in the budget leaked so we can be pleased with the good news. I only hope Wayne Swan doesn’t try and present it a a budget returning to surplus, as I don’t think there is anyone who will take that seriously anymore.
It seems that the libs have decided to send the whole thing up with a new headless chooks campaign. This is probably not very useful, though mildly entertaining. The libs know when the election is and they need to have policy ready to go for that, however they certainly have no need to release it before the budget.