Pre-budget fun and games.
We are waiting for the first federal budget of the Abbott government, and our new glorious leaders want us to be waiting in fear. So far, they have scared the bejesus out of pensioners, public servants, uni students and academics, medicos (and their patients), the ABC, SBS, all government-funded not-for-profits, and have public school teachers and parents on tenterhooks. All are waiting for a terrible axe to fall.
As a communications professional, however, I think I see a strategy in play. It’s not a stupid strategy -- in fact, it's what I would advise Coalition MPs to do in the unlikely event they’d ever ask me. I think they are making the budget sound as fearful as they possibly can so that when they hit us with cuts that are less awful than expected, instead of howls of outrage, they will be received with a collective sigh of relief. It’s called the management of expectations, and it is a sensible thing to do.
It seems that a Deloitte report
agrees that the budget axe might not be as draconian as expected. Deloitte gives a different reason, however -- namely that the Abbott government has found making the cuts it wants to make harder than it had thought. It is, of course, entirely possible we are both right.
Or, indeed, that we are both wrong and the cuts really will be as terrible as people fear. Here’s another view on the anticipated budget from Leith van Onselen at MacroBusiness
. Van Onselen is pointing out the obvious: there is an alternative to squeezing (non-existent) blood from the (lowest-income) stone.
Another take on the spin around this much-anticipated budget came from Laurie Oakes in News Corporation tabloids
. The veteran political observer takes us from the unfortunate visual cues in a photo of our illustrious, tough-talking, pain-administering Treasurer to the stubborn problem his boss Tony Abbott still has with female voters.
If Deloitte and I are both proved wrong on the anticipated budget cuts, this government is even stupider than I thought, particularly after spending $12 billion on new fighter jets that will likely never fire a shot in anger.
Highway to the danger zone.
The foolishness of this purchase at a time of -- ahem -- supposed budget crisis --
was a gift to cartoonists. Here are two of my favourites: the first, powerful and devastating, from Michael Leunig
about the nature of immature masculinity and war in The Age ...
And this one
, from Alan Moir in The Sydney Morning Herald
, making it crystal clear how the aircraft purchase looks against all the threatened cuts to public services ...