Just about every politically aware Oz blogger has expressed their impressions of LAST NIGHTS budget delivery, so I thought I may as well do likewise.
I actually enjoy watching such deliveries, in fact, I find watching the Parliament fascinating just about anytime. The edge-of-view antics of those back-benchers and even the odd front-bencher as they forget that television camera see all. What Chris Bowen was doing in chatting to whomever it was across the aisle from him, as he flapped his hand and chuckled, is anyone’s guess. Then there was the robotic head nodding, reminiscent of those 1960’s noddy dogs on a car’s back parcel tray. Even back-benchers were doing it. The ‘hear-hear’s on queue as well. All part and parcel of the Parliamentary theatre.
That’s what the Parliament – the House of Reps and "the other place" – has become. Australia’s own theatre of democracy. As to the principle player LAST NIGHT, I found Wayne Swan to be the epitome of the nervous public speaker. He had a prepared speech, written for him by a crew of lackies in 16 point font, no doubt, and he never varied from it. To the extent of being head down speaking to the despatch box 99% of the time, fluffing a few lines and delivering what amounts to one of the most important and powerful soliloquy of the governmental play in the most stilted, unsure manner I think I’ve ever seen.
I found myself yearning – faintly, but yearning – for the delivery of Peter Costello. The sure and certain, eyes up and looking around, delivery of a man who knows what he’s there for, and it’s not to read a speech.Frankly, Wayne Swan is the novice speaker at a Rotary dinner, while Costello is the after dinner speaker you’d actually pay to listen to. Well, I wouldn’t, but you get my drift.
Okay, I’m not a Wayne Swan fan at the best of times, but surely, over time, we can expect the man to develop just a little character? Maybe? I’m dubious. What did I think of the fiscal side of the delivery? Symbolism, pure & simple. It’s a Labor budget. Hit the rich, and rightly so, they can afford it, and see to the less well off in society. Some government programs have been trimmed, but none cut entirely that I’m aware of. It wasn’t the whiplash we were told it was going to be, and thank the gods for that. With $22 billion rolling into the multiple future fund variants, neither it needed to be. The arts and the ecologically aware aren’t impressed, but this is the first budget of a three year term. Realistically, those things will come from the budget of 2010, and I’m betting a whole lot more. This is politics we’re on about. Politics and power. As John Laws was wont to say, "You know what I mean"