Reactions to the Budget

I was working tonight so I didn't get to watch it live and have instead had to rely upon the SMH's less than stellar online coverage and comment. So here's my comments:

  1. Surplus of A$21.7 billion. I still can't find on the SMH website what Rudd and Swan are going to do with this money. It represents 1.8% of GDP and Australia's net public debt was erased 2-3 years ago so I'd like to know what they're going to do with it. Is it going into Howard's future fund? Will it be invested overseas?
  2. The income tax cuts are modest but are likely to be universal in scope, thus reducing the tax burden upon every Australian wage earner, but affecting low wage earners the most (a nice change from all the tax cuts for the rich made under Howard). High wage earners do get a cut as well, which doesn't really bother me much.
  3. Environmental spending is a joke. Rudd's environmental credentials have been shot out of the water with this budget. A$2.3 billion sounds like a lot, but it is peanuts compared to other areas of spending. If Peter Garrett doesn't resign in protest at this there is no point in supporting the guy's political career any further. Bob Brown is rightly "concerned".
  4. $250 million on roads isn't really a huge amount but there's little, if any, money going towards any form of post peak oil infrastructure. It's as though oil is still around $25 per barrel in Rudd's mind.
In short, there is nothing in this budget that could be called daring or far-sighted. There are some good things but there's a whole heap of incorrect assumptions they have made over the environment and the effects of high oil prices. Cutting spending and keeping a big budget may sound nice from an inflationary perspective, but does little in actual solutions.

Don't get me wrong - I'm glad that Howard is gone - it's just that Rudd and the ALP have not managed to go beyond the symbolic (saying sorry to Indigenous Australians, signing Kyoto) and actually done anything of substance. The budget was the ALP's chance to do something really different - instead we got a few nice things thrown together with a bunch of blinkered decisions.

My verdict? 4 out of 10. Fail.

1 comment:

Dave Lankshear said...

I've quoted that last line of yours on a few different places.