Why the Budget is a failure

Thursday, 10 May 2007 

Ignore all the applause on the Budget, it comes from commentators seeing it as a repeat of 2001/2004 – and even that is a mis-reading of those elections as noted in a nice little piece in Crikey. If people call it politically clever, that usually means it wasn’t because it had no agenda and was too transparent. The budget is a failure for three reasons:

1) no credibility on its main theme: Labor’s attack on the education proposals has not been strong but then it doesn’t need to be. How can the commentariat possibly think that the coalition can take Labor’s lead on education in a few months after downgrading it for a decade? The fact that Julie Bishop is leading the portfolio indicates the importance they give it. A good measure of the federal coalition’s credibility on education is the concern that is now emerging that the endowment fund will increase their control over it.

2) tax cuts do not necessarily mean more votes: there is something slightly unpleasant in the commentariat’s assumption that the Australian electorate is susceptible to tax bribes. It used to be a left-wing explanation for the electoral failure of Labor but now seems to be picked up by the right to explain the political genius of Howard. As the Crikey piece above notes, this is a highly dubious notion and even they may be somewhat exaggerating its effect. Focusing the cuts on lower income earners is a strange tactic, they must be believing their own myths on the ‘battlers’. It would have made more sense to consolidate their own supporter base in the upper income bracket, the only section that really care about tax cuts.

3) no real response to global warming: this is by no means a view on the merits of the global warming argument but rather the fact that it is now geopolitical reality. In 2005/2006 it translated to the domestic arena when drought, hurricanes and even this April’s warm weather in Adelaide were all attributed to global warming. Costello claimed that he was waiting for its taskforce’s findings later next month but the response is unlikely to be effective. What they are not prepared to do is implement the austerity measures that is at the heart of the climate change agenda. Labor is already getting adept at this at the state level with the rolling out of water restrictions to manage poor water infrastructure.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 10 May 2007.

Filed under Tactics

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