May 092007

In a word….unimpressed. That’s my impression of Peter Costello’s 12th budget delivery.

WIIFM or What’s-In-It-For-Me presents as very disappointing for someone like myself. I’ll wind up with somewhere between $10 and $12 a week in the eagle’s nest. Better than a sandwich and milkshake, but not enough to buy a can of brew concentrate. Maybe enough to get me to the Sunshine Coast, fuelwise, but not enough to get me home again. In nationally averaged mortgage terms, it’s enough to reduce a thirty year term by three years and save some $45,680……if Costello’s largesse doesn’t adversely impact on inflation and interest rates.
It’s sweet, I suppose, for those lower wages earners on $30,000/annum or less, but common-sense and statistics say that demographic is the largest and most likely to spend the new-gotten gain. The potential for damage to Costello’s arse-plucked percentages in relation to inflation and growth is clearly evident. Time will tell, but the political imperatives associated with this tax tinkering at the margins is the real focus of the handouts. Let’s face it, with $15.6b in the kitty, Smirkey Pete could have been much more generous, but he also knows the price he’d pay. This is as far as he could go.
On education, the coalition is only half-dressed. The pronouncements from last evening don’t address future productivity and learning issues any more than at present. Three new TAFE colleges! Whoop-dee-doo! Okay to build these edifices, but are they going to be properly staffed and resourced into the future? I agree with the endowment fund for tertiary institutions, and the money being thrown at teachers, apprentices, broader education initiatives like ‘summer schools’, childcare resources, family tax breaks and so on. However, and this is the ideological cynic in me, why weren’t these things addressed more broadly and thoroughly three years ago? Six years ago? Eleven years ago? The answer is simple. Three and Six years ago, Howard and his henchmen weren’t facing political exile. This year they are.
Not that Labor appears to be presenting any panaceas either, but after eleven years of inaction on a broad range of social issues, I believe it’s past time for one more time around the block with Little Johnny Howler. Last nights budget was – is – what it was always slated to be. A budget designed by and for political opportunists as one last desperate throw of the populist dice, in a bid to erode the lead Labor is currently enjoying in the polls. Personally, even as an opportunists budget, it’s still a half-baked effort.

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