TONIGHT’S federal budget could be the making or breaking of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership and Treasurer Joe Hockey’s career.
Both must be congratulated on having the foresight to focus on the future infrastructure problems Australia is starting to develop, especially with an ageing population to consider.
But why did they base it on a whole lot of negative perceptions, rather than announcing a brave new world?
The fact of the matter is that the conservatives’ claims — and that of the extreme right wing media — that Labor left a terrible mess and there is a budget emergency — is starting to run out of steam.
How many respected economists from major Australian financial businesses have uttered dire warnings that Australia has a massive budget emergency and it’s Labor’s fault?
Does Australia still have a AAA credit rating with at least two of the major ratings companies, didn’t it earn that rating from all three major ratings companies in 2011 — for the first time in Australia’s history — and what was the actual debt handed to the Hawke government by the Fraser government?
And was it asset sales that allowed John Howard’s government to wipe out sovereign debt?
Did Howard’s government preside over a massive boom in Australian private debt and what was behind the almost unbelievable run of consecutive current account deficits while it was in power?
Does Australia have one of the lowest levels of sovereign debt, as a percentage of gross domestic product, in the western world, as it also does with unemployment levels when compared to others?
If the Howard government had the same level of revenue that the Rudd government had, how many of his budgets would have finished as deficits?
What role did his tax cuts play in reducing revenue structures, what’s the net value of the mining industry to Australia and how much tax is paid by mining companies?
Aren’t Australia’s future generations being left a much better country in so many material ways than their parents and grandparents enjoyed and, if so, why shouldn’t they pay their share?
And so on.
I suspect that many of the cuts leaked by the government simply won’t happen and its strategy is to threaten doom and gloom and then in the budget before the next election rain goodies down upon the electorate to prove what a good economic manager it is.
But I hope the budget gives a vision for the future, something which includes all of us, where our older generations are treated with respect and we all prosper.
I’ll work until I am 70 and probably beyond — no worries — but what will my employment opportunities be, how will I obtain new skills and will the attitude of employers to the more mature job seekers change?
Or is that a problem for me, and me alone, to solve?
OK, so, let’s make our economy a true “free market”, one where we can all compete for jobs on an equal footing.
In such an economy there is no room for a paid parental leave scheme, for example, and employers will give their best employees the best conditions, simply because they need to retain them.
At the same time we should also recognise trade unions have a role to play and they should concentrate on skilling their members so employers seek them out.
The Snowy Mountains Scheme was begun before 1950.
Surely we have progressed to the stage where we can tackle a much bigger scheme — one that will create enormous employment opportunities — such as drought-proofing rural Australia.
So it’s over to you Tony and Joe — don’t blow this opportunity to create a fairer and more prosperous Australia.