We thought Professor Peter
Saunders, the social research director at the Centre for Independent
Studies, came up with a pretty smart simile in an op-ed in The Oz
on Tuesday when he compared the tax/welfare churn with playing the
pokies – you feed in your money and hope you’ll get something back. We
clearly weren’t alone.

“Fair dinkum, this Treasurer is like a poker machine,” a certain leader of the opposition said in his Budget response
last night. “You put in, you pull the arm – nothing. You put in again,
another pull – nothing. Time after time – nothing. And then, at last,
the lights flash, the bells ring, crowds gather round, ‘Jackpot!’ the
Treasurer crows –10 bucks. That is the drop – 10 bucks. Surely, middle
Australia deserves better than this…”

The Prof is being
generous. “I’m delighted to see that Mr Beazley liked my metaphor,” he
told Crikey today. “I look forward to the time in the future when he
starts to borrow my policy ideas too.”

There mightn’t quite be
room for them at the moment. Labor seems just to be coming to terms
with catchphrases. How many times have you heard the words “triple
whammy” this week? Kim Beazley and Wayne Swan have been parroting them

They’re obviously very heavily programmed up to stay
on-message – and going by the Budget response, that leaves very little
room in their memory space for policy.