Aug 25, 2014

Budget sales bungle was built in from the start

Fairness, infrastructure, or emergency management? The problems with the government's explanation of its budget were consolidated even before budget night.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The government’s hopelessly confused rhetoric over its budget didn’t start on budget night. By that stage, its lines were already hopelessly muddled. The post-budget sales process merely created more opportunities for the government to fluff its lines, and it has seized them with both hands.

Central to the government’s fiscal positioning, of course, was the “budget crisis” narrative. In fact the government rarely, if ever, used words like “crisis” or “emergency” — although the Prime Minister in December referred to the “fiscal emergency we face”. Instead it spoke about the need for budget repair and, to try to personalise the narrative, explain how much debt each Australian “man, woman and child” was accumulating. As we’ve previously noted, the government even confused this particular message, using multiple numbers about how much each of us apparently owed; recently, it appears to have settled on “$25,000 for every Australian man, woman and child” as its phrase of choice (google the line and see how often it comes up).

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

17 thoughts on “Budget sales bungle was built in from the start

  1. klewso

    I’m surprised they’re not telling us that passing their budget will “stop the drownings and terrorism” too?

    I’d like them to reinstate those taxes – to the level before Howard (with much of this same government) white-anted our bottom line to buy votes – to watch them sell it, the way they’re selling this Limited News Party packapoo.

    [And Abetz – how true – Hero of Utegate – Mr Poisonality – the “Mr Burns of Canberra”?]

  2. rhwombat

    I do miss the functional competence of Gillard’s government.

  3. Jaybuoy

    For a man who has had a bariatric band installed due to his inability to control himself to be sarcastically saying that it was quite likely that Malcolm Turnbull had run into Clive Palmer by accident because “Clive has two meals every night”says a lot about Hockey and none of it good..

  4. The Old Bill

    So do I rhwombat, Julia would have managed to broker a deal with Clive for a start. Maybe mot Bob Day or Leyonhjelm, but now that Clive is a global warming believer, a Greens, PUP, Labor Coalition could have ruled us happily.

  5. Steve777

    At the heart of the Government’s problems selling the budget is that the Budget is not about fixing the nation’s finances so much as implementing a radical reform agenda. This agenda was not disclosed before the election. Little or no effort has been made to sell this agenda. The Government prefers to pretend that it’s all about fixing the previous Government’s ‘waste and mismanagement’.

    The savings measures hit those who can least afford it for very little return to the bottom line. The Medicare Co-payment would only save several hundred million dollars per annum in return for effectively ending bulk billing, (which I suspect is its real purpose). Meanwhile, billions in revenue have been thrown away, including Carbon Pricing, the Mining Tax and FBT tax reforms. On the other hand, low-handing fruit like the truly unsustainable superannuation tax concessions have been ignored.

    Add to this wasting billions on a ‘Direct Action’ plan supported by no one, an absurdly generous parental leave scheme and red-herrings like medical research funds and it’s a complete mess.

    The Budget doesn’t need a tweak here and there or major surgury. It needs to be dumped and started again from scratch.

  6. CML

    Klewso 1 is correct. The tax rates need to be returned to the levels they were at pre-Howard – especially for those at the top-end.
    There, in all seriousness, I’ve said it! Now you can all pick yourselves up off the floor and ditch the fake outrage!!
    We need to get real here – we have a REVENUE problem. Where does the government get the bulk of its income from? TAXES!!!!!!
    And I’ll say it yet again – the $7 co-payment is a load of nonsense. If we need more money to provide good quality health care, we do what we have always done. RAISE THE MEDICARE LEVY. Good Lawd, someone with half a brain should be able to work that out. It seems that rules out the rAbbott’s front bench!!!

  7. Neutral

    “I do miss the functional competence of Gillard’s government.”

    Haha yeah it’s getting that way but I still blame her and Rudd and Shorten for the lot we have now…

    Elsewhere it’s bit of a surprise that it is recognised as a budget. But I suppose it is in a GW Bush sense in that it has a lot of numbers…

  8. mikehilliard

    No wonder Abbott et al keep daring Shorten and Bowen to say what Labor would do as the Coalition certainly doesn’t have any idea.

  9. Draco Houston

    Easy to see now why the Coalition would not give details during the election, they just didn’t have any.

  10. Duncan Gilbey

    That’s right Draco, the “plan” was to win the election.

    They’ve been demonstrating that they didn’t have a clue what to do once they did (win the election) ever since.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details