May 20, 2013

Sudden outbreak of responsibility from both parties on budget

The Coalition's sudden enthusiasm for spending cuts is rather hypocritical -- but a welcome embrace of fiscal responsibility. Both major parties are lifting their game, improving the dire standards in political debate.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Unexpectedly, Australia’s politicians have been infected with policy courage. And an opposition that was probably the most cynical and negative in Australian history has decided it can take a risk and not merely endorse some politically unpalatable spending cuts but even break the hitherto unbreakable rule of 21st century politics — never mention the GST.


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24 thoughts on “Sudden outbreak of responsibility from both parties on budget

  1. Gavin Moodie

    I agree with and think most important the last point that ‘The more you do it [‘articulating the case for complex or unpopular policy’], the better you get, and the Coalition will discover it’s easier to do so in government if you’ve already done it in opposition, when the playing field is tilted against you.’

    For this reason I have never been convinced by ‘small target’ lesson commonly drawn from Hewson losing the ‘unlosable’ election.

  2. JackAubrey

    While it is pleasing to see the Opposition talking about reviewing the GST, there’s still a bit of fog around whether they are talking about the rate and application to current non-GST items like food, or whether it is just the State-by-State distribution formula. Joe Hockey’s “challenge” to the States to lead the review on the basis that the GST is a “State tax” is cowardly blame-shifting before the event. But at least the issue is on the table. Hopefully the Liberals also have a shopping list of inefficient State taxes to target in whatever deal emerges.

  3. Jimmy

    It helps the Libs be hypocritical when their backflips are just glossed over by the nedia, if Gillard had done the same thing she would be damned.

    And for all this good decision making from the Libs they stil have a whole lot of unfunded spending to be accounted for and are clinging to the idea there is no problem with education funding.

  4. Mark from Melbourne

    I suspect its less about fiscal responsibility and more about cheap politics. They get to take the savings whilst hanging it on the Government as being “objectionable”. Cake, see, eat.

  5. mattsui

    That playing field might be slightly less tilted, once the media haters have gotten rid of Gillard.

  6. klewso

    Why wouldn’t the Coalition be considering opposing any baby bonus-style payments and suchlike – it doesn’t need this sort of electoral bribery like Howard did – first up (this election) anyway.

  7. klewso

    Labor didn’t get enough practice at selling and “explaining policy that isn’t obvious or easy”?

  8. Warren Joffe

    Ism glad to say that it has caught up with the group think in Canberra BK what has been obvious to me for over a year – as I have said on Crikey and to anyone that will listen. That is because it was clear it would be good electoral politics, safe electoral politics and a huge advantage for a new government which wanted to be able to be fiscally responsible without being accused of breaking promises to simply say “this election is about trust; we will tell you what we would like to do and will try to do, maybe not as soon as we would like, but we make no promises”. I still predict that, a short time before the election all policy projections which might be taken to be promises will be cancelled except for the promise to try and govern so as to be re-elected in 2016.

    I am disappointed however that you BK can’t see that some “middle class welfare” is acceptable. E.g. If one can’t afford to cut taxes so the government is taking (largely to transfer to other Australians) less than 46.5 per cent at the margin of a person’s income isn’t it reasonable to target the educated career woman who is already forced by mortgage payments, HECs, the requirement to buy health insurance and the perfectly reasonable desire to send her children to a private school (expecially if she has a high powered job which doesn’t allow her to keep a beady eye on the local state school) and give her and her husband/partner concessions on health and education. It is not in the interests of any of us that our best and brightest have one or two children in their mid 30s rather than three or four at average age 30.

    Correspondingly you seem to have gone quite goofy in your logic when you say “punishing low-income earners on superannuation”. I suppose you are critical too of tax concessions which allow high income earners, i.e. those who pay a lot of tax, to save for an OAP-free retirement without having to do it out of heavily taxed residue from income. There was a lot that Costello got wrong but is it not ridiculous to give people a taxpayer provided lump sum who will never earn or save enough not to be largely reliant on taxpayers – mostly other people’s children and corporations that other people have financed – to provide their income and health care in in retirement (assuming they were ever employed)?

  9. Mike Flanagan

    I don’t believe they wll get ‘rid of Ms Gillard’ It is not over until the big lady sings mate. Bernard’s dismissal of Ms Gillards chances of returning to government are built on a historic perspective through the polls and although many may say that history often repeats itself, I wouldn’t be relying on that prediction on that flimsy reasoning.

    It is marvelous to see Bernard concede that Labour are being prudent when the evidence of both their prudence and fiscal acumenn in both dealing with GFC and its’ aftermath, has been on display for the past two years or more.
    Neither Abbott or Hockey, or even Turnbull for that matter, have shown any inclination to adopt a long term vision and stratagy, apart from the Hayekian and Freedmonite failed theorems.
    Even when reality drags them to the table they still depend on revising and rebirthing of the accounting principles to balance their books.

  10. Damon Roberts

    Pity neither of the major parties has the intestinal fortitude to call an end to Negative Gearing.

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