Well there ain’t no pleasing some.

Some of us predicted, back when the hysteria about the government’s insulation program was in full swing, that when it caved in and cancelled the program the media would, having agitated for an immediate end to the ‘debacle’, instantly turn around and begin lamenting the impact of the closure of businesses.

That duly followed, with footage of sheds full of batts and unhappy employees who, of course, wouldn’t have had a job in the first place but for the much-criticised program.  Presumably none of the featured businesses were the shonks and spivs the media said had been lured into the industry by Garrett.

It’s déjà vu all over again today with the two most aggressive opponents of the RSPT, The Australian and the Financial Review, suddenly mortified at the massive loss to taxpayers of the deal struck between the government and the miners.

You’ll recall both papers happily ran the miners’ agenda against the tax, although the Fin, which retains some sort of intellectual rigour, did provide the occasional rather unforgiving insight into the lies being pedalled by the foreign multi-nationals campaigning against the tax.

Now, however, Goldman Sachs research, calculating the cost of the compromise at $35 billion over a decade has given the media the opportunity to get stuck into the government for doing what it was demanding it do.

The government had, the Fin reported, “taken another blow to its budget forecasts yesterday when analysts identified a $35 billion revenue gap from the major concessions offered to miners last week…”  (yes, evidently Treasury has changed its policy and is now doing Budget forecasts out to 2020). At The Oz: “The government gave away $35 billion in potential tax receipts over the next decade for a deal with the big miners, research has revealed.”

The Fin doubled up by running pieces suggesting the brown coal industry and small miners were unhappy that the compromise tax would cost too much.

Which is it, chaps?  Too much or too little?

Politicians should bear all this in mind when they do the political maths of caving in to pressure and change policies. You’ll never get any credit for doing what the media’s demanding, because journalists will just turn around and get stuck into you for back-flipping.

Peter Fray

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