A spanking $50,000,000,000 deficit!
Watching Julia Gillard and her team watching Tony Abbott deliver his budget reply speech was like watching a group of naughty school children. They had been very, very bad boys and girls – and they knew it.
Since Kevin Rudd shot to power in 2007 Australia has witnessed the creation of some of the most absurd economic and social decisions imaginable. Most were the result of academic and social-engineering theories that had been floating about campuses for some time. Some were the result of noisy pressure-groups promoting “legalised” illegal immigration; climate change or gay marriage. But the first years were mostly concerned with maintaining the notion that the Rudd/Gillard nexus was an “economically conservative” outfit. This notion didn’t last long.
Under the cover of the Global Financial Crisis everything changed. One of the big shifts that seems to have gone unnoticed was the move by government ministers, and in particular, Wayne Swan, to suddenly talk in billions of dollars. From memory, prior to the arrival of Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, the public was familiar with government expenditure being more in the millions. Sometime after 2007 Labor discovered the magic of the word, billion.
There was 14 billion for building halls and lunch-rooms, 43 billion for the NBN, 2 billion for pink batts, 1 billion for helping illegal immigration, a 100-odd billion for 20 new submarines, 60 billion for health. Then the 250 billion of government loans and of course the 50 billion deficit. It was as though the spending of “billions”, as opposed to millions was some sort of government objective – a source of national pride.
Another trick, or perhaps better described as “spin”, was to make an announcement in the budget of a multi-billion spending allocation only to find out in the fine print that the expenditure was over four years. So what is actually an item in the budget for say 500 million, magically becomes 2 billion (over 4 years). Having stretched expenditure into the future, despite Commonwealth budget being only for the next 12 months, the vision-splendid-thing knows no bounds.
Two days earlier Wayne Swan had delivered the most boring soufflé of a budget speech in living memory – he had forgotten the eggs! And by the time his 30 minutes of mumbo-jumbo had ended, TV viewers must have been desperate to shoot outside for a breath of carbon-dioxide. For this viewer the only thought was “when will all this silliness end”?
Unfortunately what seems to be left for the Labor core-voter, is a weird belief that the present crop of Labor politicians are somehow representatives of the old working class. They are not. The poshoids that float about the countryside attacking John Howard and now Tony Abbott wouldn’t know a shovel or pick if they tripped over one. Most are either former lawyers or union officials whose eye was always on the main game – politics.
Listening to the speeches of Swan and Abbott was enlightening. Swan was talking about the loose change in the bar till on the Titanic. Abbott was trying to draw attention to the iceberg.
What has changed is the Labor party. It once represented miners, their faces blackened with coal-dust; haggard factory workers, impoverished dirt-farmers, bar-maids and clerks. Today they seem to represent the memories of those past times (in an older generation), together with a younger set moulded and influenced by disgruntled ideologues and bored elitists. The underlying passion of socialists is to tell people how to lead their lives, and if they won’t listen, then make them.
The alternative is the idea that most people are quite capable of making decisions for themselves, without the services of a nanny state. The greatest political cross-dresser of all time, Joseph Stalin, proved the extent to which nannyism can go. Nanny Joe, under the banner of “workers of the world unite”, only managed to prove that he didn’t know what was good for them at all.
Of course what Tony Abbott was alluding to was the dire need for an election. While he has focused on the up coming carbon dioxide tax, the real issue is the mess the parliament is in with minority government. Julia Gillard clings to power with the indulgence of the Greens and three independents. Where the minority government becomes a nonsense is when you look at how it is held together. A pair of rural independents from NSW and a former spook from Hobart. These three promised to support Gillard for three years. The notion the three “independents” will commit to support the unseen budgets over a period of the two years really extends the flexibility of the word independent.
Then there are the Greens. The sea-Greens, the forest Greens, the gay-Greens, the boat-people Greens and, as yet to arrive from NSW, the dark Greens. Kermit was wrong. Being Green is easy – once you control the Senate.
The potential for parliamentary theatre is great. If Gillard doesn’t bend to Bob Brown’s will she only has the Liberals/Nationals in the Senate as an option – some chance. Her form so far has been to do secret deals with the Greens. We have yet to see her not crumble to their demands. Having seen the Labor caucus ignored and sidelined since 2007 by the new Rudd/Gillard command and control, it will only take a couple of disillusioned Labor MPs to destroy the government.
Perhaps one of the independents will snap. Perhaps a government MP may die in office or resign. A bye-bye election is more than possible. What ever happens, things can only get worse … the nation needs an election.
Labor needs to be spanked!