Matter of Public Importance Debate - the Budget

Matter of Public Importance: The Budget

In this annus horribilis for the Abbott government: they have given Australia back knights and dames; they have taught us that the name of our North American friend is pronounced 'Canadia'; they have suggested that the US is at risk of default—and I am sure the member for Riverina would not have made a mistake like that. They have shown their common touch by smoking cigars just before handing down the most unfair budget in living memory; enlightened us about the link between breast cancer and abortion; taken to the barricades to defend the rights of bigots; told us that poor people do not drive cars; said that the Australian Submarine Corporation, despite being headed by Sophie Mirabella, still cannot build a canoe; and shown us that demon dialling is the way to every crossbenchers heart.

What they have not done is deliver a budget that will grow the Australian economy, improve egalitarianism and create jobs. In fact, just like one of the member for Sturt's text partners, they have run screaming in the opposite direction. This budget is Robin Hood in reverse. It gives billions to multinationals and hundreds of thousands of dollars to people with more than $2 million in their superannuation accounts but it takes one dollar in every 10 from the wallets and purses of Australia's poorest single parents. This is not a meritocracy; this is a budget for a mate-ocracy.

This government has attempted to bring in a GP tax. They have attempted to take one dollar in five of student funding from Australian universities. They have cut pensions and, in breach of their pre-election promises, they are attempting to cut into the ABC to turn it into a 'Very Small Business'. They have 'Shaun the Sheep'. They have told porkies about 'Peppa Pig'. In 'The Health Report' they are soon going to be asking, 'Doctor Who?' The'Hollowmen' are on their 'Media Watch'.

When he was swearing in the Governor-General, the Prime Minister told Australians that the reason we have a Governor-General is to visit 'places that aren't important enough for Prime Ministers'. Right now that is a pretty long list. It includes universities, because you need a small SWAT team to get a member of this front bench to visit them. It includes hospitals. It includes childcare centres and it includes the entire state of Victoria.

The Prime Minister is about as popular in Victoria as a fruit fly invasion. He is about as useful as a porthole on a submarine. That is why they started their campaign for Victorians by sneaking in a fuel tax through backdoor means and ended up sticking to the GP tax like a captain going down on a barnacle-ridden ship. The Prime Minister shirt fronted his Victorian colleagues and he is shirt-fronting Australians with his unfair budget.

Today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka uprising. As Gough Whitlam put it in his 1973 Eureka lecture, 'Egalitarianism—by whatever name we call it—is at the heart of the Australian tradition.' But now, with inequality at a 75-year high, we have a government that wants to take from the vulnerable to give to the affluent—a government which is, literally, governing for the knights and the dames.

We, on this side, have a proud legacy. We kept Australia out of the biggest downturn since the Great Depression. We put in place a carbon price that saw the biggest drop in emissions in 24 years—a great economic reform that allowed us to lower the taxes on work while we were putting a price on pollution, and which boosted egalitarianism, because it is the poorest who will be hurt by unchecked climate change.

We made $180 billion in responsible savings, including means-testing the private health insurance rebate, reforming the PBS, and getting rid of the dependent spouse tax offset. Those opposite claimed last year that they would deliver a surplus in their first year and every year after that. They said there was no revenue problem and that there would be an 'adrenaline charge'. Instead of the adrenaline charge, we have had a government that looks like a dose of valium. We have had more tantrums than a daycare centre at nap time. They are blaming the opposition for opposing, blaming the media for reporting, and blaming the business community for failing to sell their budget.

The problem is not the sales job, it is their very budget. We do not know what cuts will be in the mini-budget when it comes, but we know that what they are selling stinks. It is not the barnacles; it is the ship and the captain that should be sent back out to sea.

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