After 10 years of economic boomtime Hillary is not impressed with Cozzie’s deficit budget.

Populism has undermined good economic policy just think how last year’s Budget turned into a spendfest on the oldies, spending that is going to cost more and more and be a big political ask to claw back. Or just look at what Sue West was talking about in Question Time today taxpayers helping out on the purchase of three million dollar houses.

Populism has whacked a huge hole in the Budget bottom line 1.2 billion smackeroonies worth. All that deficit just to keep the reffos and ragheads under control.

Populism pays, of course 12 months ago, it was easy to imagine that the bloke giving the speech tonight would be Treasurer Crean. Trouble is, someone has to pay for populism and that, dear readers, is us.

Do those boat people and terrorists make you sick? Well then, that’ll cost you an extra six dollars a throw when you go to get the script made up. Bet that doesn’t make you feel any better.

The Government is trying to slash almost $2 billion off the cost of the price of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. While the debate over the price of medicine is one worth having, tonight isn’t the time. This is going to hit home hard at all those millions of Australians who suffer from asthma, high blood pressure or cholesterol, chronic pain or are just getting older or fall sick more often. It’s a big, big nasty.

The other nasty is the change to the disability pension. We all know why the number of people receiving this benefit has doubled since 1990. It’s been one way of parking people who will never work again particularly blue collars males over 50 somewhere where they can get some income support without having to go through a fruitless, useless rigmarole of looking for jobs that don’t exist for them.

That isn’t the best policy but it’s what has happened. The changes announced tonight to nothing to fix the problem while forcing a lot of people of no value to the labour market back on the merry go round of looking for jobs that’s aren’t there or pretending to.

And that’s about it. As some clever sub at AAP said, it’s a terror, not a horror, budget. Two big nasties one that will hit most people, one that will hit a group that’s already been knocked round enough and no sugar.

Make that two nasties and a possible timebomb. If you read Hillary’s column this week, you would have seen the item on negative equity. Tonight’s Budget provides $784 for first home owners. That’s about 100,000 more new homes and very expensive pump priming.

Somewhere down the track, after several years’ worth of new home purchases have been brought forward, are people going to be stuck servicing mortgages worth more than their houses?

Heaven help the Government if it does. Then they’ll pay the ultimate price for populism.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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