The Australian Conservatives’ budget crisis – an ideological ruse…

The Abbott government was the most extreme right wing administration federally in Australia in its short history. Abbott came to power off the back of a fractured Labor Party and a destructive force known as Kevin Rudd. After he was rolled by Tony Abbott in September 2015, Turnbull to the disappointment of many, chose to continue down the ultra right path of his predecessor in most areas. Central to this was the manufactured “budget crisis”

Much of the instability in Australia between 2007 and 2013 can be put down to the fractious relationship between Rudd and Julia Gillard, but even more so this instability can be explained by a totally unprincipled opposition leader in Tony Abbott who seemed to believe lying and bullying was the best way to power. It has now come home to roost for him.

Since his election in 2013, virtually none of Abbott’s promises which showed him up to be “reasonable” have come to the fore. Quite the opposite in fact. He  pursued an ideological agenda which demonstrated ideas far to the right of the Australian mainstream, and a wish to change a society which has been regarded internationally as the most progressive, economically advanced, socially inclusive, racially tolerant, business friendly in the world. In short, time and time again international surveys have shown Australia up as having the best lifestyle, the most equality, and being a super power in sport, business, the arts and economic performance. The Abbott government’s agenda is to dismantle all this and turn Australia into a mirror image of the US with its entrenched inequalities and its substandard and costly government services. Unfortunately, Turnbull has largely continued down this path.

If you don’t believe me look at this manufactured crisis to do with the so called “budget deficit”. THERE IS NO BUDGET CRISIS IN AUSTRALIA. It is purely manufactured by the LCP government pandering to vested interests and its inability to make urgently needed economic reforms in the interests of all Australians. Let’s take the following costs to the budget:

Abolition of the carbon tax: $7.5 billion
Abolition of the mining tax. $3.0 billion
Failure to abolished fossil fuel subsidies to farmers and miners. $12.0 billion
Superannuation entitlements to the rich. $15.0 billion

The deficit in Wayne Swan’s last budget was $18 billion. You be the judge!

Instead of targeting the poor and disadvantaged, and dismantling world leading infrastructure to make Australia a more tolerant and equal society, why doesn’t the government attack real reforms like:

– rationalising government duplication at the federal level, and between federal, state and local governments;

– getting rid of government rules which entrench monopolies and engender inefficiencies eg allow pharmacies to open anywhere including in major chain stores;

– dismantling monopolies in the media which is currently a closed shop entrenched via government regulation;

– accelerate the roll out of the NBN to help dismantle those monopolies;

– merge government back and front-office services across a variety of retail government outlets at both state and federal levels and migrate as many as possible online particularly as the NBN is rolled out and extend many of them to video conferencing;

– reversing monopolies in airports in such areas as parking and transport;

– get serious about reforming federal/state relations  by forcing the states to harmonise regulation across most area of common activities by threatening the cutting off of federal funds if the don’t comply;

– force the states to vote to increase the GST and to cover all goods including food to fund urgently needed infrastructure and the health system  (including extending Medicare to dental, disabilities  and mental health);

– remove remaining restrictions on the national water market;

– abolish paid for television and radio advertising of less than 15 minute ads during federal and state elections  and instead replace it with 15 minute and 30 minute slots for major parties paid for by the government in proportion to the last election’s vote in much the same way as Britain does today;

– substantially increase the deposit parties need to pay to get on the senate electoral ticket and require them to collect at least 250000 signatures before they are allowed to field candidates;

– set up a working party to legalise marijuana and heroin, and have it treated as a medical issue in much the same way as alcohol and tobacco is, including collecting substantial taxes from them;

– address the housing supply shortage by removing local governments’ abilities to stymie property development with no  specific framework, and

– urgently implement the national curriculum and the eHealth agendas.

There are no shortage of reform opportunities for the government to pursue which will both save substantial money and promote efficiencies across the board. Instead, the Conservatives seems intent on pursue an ideological agenda which dumbs down the population by starving the Arts boards, the ABC, the CSIRO,  and universities of funds. Real economic and structural reform it ain’t.

 

 

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