THERE’S an inherent conflict in the business of politics, perhaps never better demonstrated than at budget time each and every year of the political cycle.
Politicians who seek to do what’s good for the country run the risk of losing support from voters who have become accustomed to the “what’s in it for me” syndrome, if they dare to seek to do their job properly and make difficult decisions when they need to be made.
Over-promise though, and we continue to pay forward those tough decisions that will one day need to be made, and the accompanying changes that need to be implemented for the good of our nation.
One of the problems politics in this country has long had is the relative ease with which elected representatives can act with a measured dose of reckless abandonment and splurge away with the intention of winning the next election, whenever that might be.
The federal government will probably earn itself about a six out of 10 for this week’s effort, but the budget is, as always, riddled with paradoxes that can never be satisfactorily explained.
One of the budget’s main ingredients is the bevy of tax cuts that will be available to Australian workers, sitting alongside very generous cuts to company tax that will impact upon future budgets, all at a time when our nation’s growing pains demand we spend more on infrastructure and services than ever before.
Many Australians would rather see their smallish tax cut instead allocated towards better services and better resourcing of important government agencies.
The coalition has made promises to deliver tax cuts across a number of years well in the future, but there’s no guarantee the coalition will be in office to oversee the delivery of something the party is already busy campaigning on.
The Australian Tax Office has pledged to crack down on expenses claimed by ordinary mums and dads, but surely there are bigger fish to also fry?
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has taken a beating in this year’s budget, but we should expect more from ASIC than ever before, especially given what has been uncovered in the banking industry Royal Commission.
And, as a nation, we have left behind those Australians saddled to the woefully inadequate Newstart allowance.
It’s far easier said than done to dismiss calls for a long overdue increase to this most basic allowance and instead suggest those on Newstart simply go out and get a job.
It’s also cruel, insensitive and ultimately disrespectful. Stronger than expected government revenues should be shared more equitably.
That’s the Australian thing to do.