Shorten budget reply speech

Crikey has obtained an advance copy* of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech, to be delivered tonight:

This government’s Budget is an outrageous fraud upon the Australian people, and I have confidence that those Australian people will see through it with their usual wisdom and perspicacity. Australians know when they’re being sold a pup, and never has a pup been sold with such disregard for fiscal prudence or animal welfare as this one. Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have cooked up a devilish brew of unfair cuts, poorly targeted spending and rampant inequality that frankly turns the stomach of any fair-minded centrist. And the worst thing of all is that they stole it all off us.

The Australian people will rightly be disgusted by the Turnbull-Morrison junta’s plagiarism. Look, for example, at schools. “Needs-based funding”, they say — that was our idea. I’m not saying we invented the concept of needs, but it was a Labor innovation to connect them to funding. Plus Labor came up with the idea of David Gonski, or at least with the current conventional usage of him. We could’ve patented him at the time, and we’re now regretting we didn’t.

It’s the same story with the Budget’s plans to increase the Medicare levy and increase taxes on the big banks. How can a responsible government, at a time of rising cost-of-living pressures, seek to increase the tax burden on ordinary Australians? And more importantly, we thought of it first. Higher taxes — that’s a Labor idea. We came up with it. Where do they get the unmitigated gall to raise taxes as if they’re the party of big government. We invented big government, and that’s our intellectual property Morrison has ripped off. I pledge now that the Labor Party will work day and night to make sure that these unacceptable imposts on the populace do not pass Parliament until we get credit for them.

Moving on, we find the government has committed to an astoundingly brazen boondoggle in the shape of the inland rail project. This is a breathtaking example of waste on a grand scale, billions of dollars to be thrown away on a worthless infrastructure white elephant, and I would thank Mr Turnbull to stay off our turf. The Labor movement in this country has a peerless record on throwing billions of dollars away on worthless infrastructure, and we will defend that legacy to the hilt.

On housing affordability, Turnbull and Morrison have been found utterly derelict in their duty to this country. We have a housing affordability crisis in this country, and the Liberal-National government opts to simply fiddle around the edges of the issue, promising cosmetic changes that will achieve no significant change. That’s Shorten territory, pal — the least you could do is pay me royalties. The failure of the government to do anything about negative gearing, in particular, truly grates. We were doing nothing about negative gearing before Turnbull ever came to power, and the Australian voting public deserves to know the truth about who originated the concept.

Of course, it’s no surprise that Turnbull and Morrison have been lifting ideas shamelessly from our playbook in this manner. Ever since they were elected, they have been running Budget deficits in a clear show of jealousy at how good we were at doing the same — it’s only natural that having adopted our broad Budget strategy, they would now be picking the eyes out of the detail. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand for it. And it doesn’t mean that everyday Australians have to stand for it.

The government’s attitude towards the Australian people is epitomised in its attack on the most vulnerable in our society: the unemployed. Drug testing and harsh punitive measures for job-seekers demonstrate that the government’s claims to have compassion for the poor are completely hollow, and anyone with even a passing knowledge of Australian political history knows that demonstrating the hollowness of claims to compassion is a hallmark of Labor philosophy. How dare Mr Morrison stand before this country and pretend that he thought of it.

This Budget is a disgrace and an offence not only to common decency, but to basic copyright law. I will shortly be introducing amendments to all Budget legislation requiring that any measures contained in this year’s Budget carry a disclaimer to the effect that “This Was Labor’s Idea”. This is only fair.

*As leaked to satirist Ben Pobjie

Peter Fray

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