Thursday, May 08, 2014

Blimey, what a pre-budget fracas

Forgive me readers for being off-subject, but I read that other artists have been equally distracted from their art by current political shenanigans. It is no wonder, as each day brings more alarms and bombshells.  Australians have always been proud of their fair-go society, but it appears that we are to be dragged into the age of 1% whether we like it or not. Government budgets are often fought over, but this year's Australian Federal budget is turning into a fiasco and let me tell you why.

Joe Hockey, Treasurer (from The Guardian website)
The Audit report commissioned by the Abbott Government to support their budget has turned into a political cluster bomb. The auditors were selected from such a narrow group of far-right people that the resulting audit is seen as a piece of political rhetoric, instead of an assessment of the nations finances. Those who have analysed the figures  are finding errors, gaps  and figures purposely misinterpreted to fit an ideology. The economist Ross Gittins says the audit report shows what sort of Australia these men envisage, an Australia following the USA down the 1% path.

The audit report was probably written to show voters just how hard budget cuts could be, in the hope that lesser cuts would not look so bad. The plan might have worked except for the environment in which this is all taking place, with the corruption inquiry (ICAC) in NSW showing that businesses (especially miners and property developers) appear to have been buying favours by donating to Liberal Party (currently governing NSW) coffers and that these (often illegal) donations have been deliberately disguised from the eyes of voters by the Liberal Party.  A Premier and four members of the Liberal Party in NSW, two of them Ministers, have had to step down and more are likely. It appears that politicians will do anything for a buck, sign off dodgy mining licenses and  property developments for example. All of this is being reported instantly via social media, especially twitter which has gained a host of followers who depend upon it to point them to  trustworthy news sources. (Our print media is largely dominated by the Murdoch Press.)

The money trail appears to lead right to Canberra and citizens are now calling for a Federal corruption body to investigate.

The Federal Government (also Liberal Party) has been lamenting budget black holes left by the previous government but in the meantime many people are aware that there was no black hole, except that created by the current government (ABC Fact check: Government has doubled the budget black hole due to their own policies).

The Government says they have to balance the books, but they have also just spent over 12 billion dollars on 72 new jet fighters. People are scratching their heads and wondering if the government thinks they are especially stupid. In addition, before the election Prime Minister Abbott repeatedly promised there would be 'no new taxes'. It was his 'core' promise, repeated ad-infinitum. His budget is to include new taxes and levies, which comes as a big shock to many who voted for him. Perhaps he thinks he can disguise permanent cuts to health, education and welfare by introducing taxes on the more privileged which he says are to be short term (but of course, now you cannot trust what he says).

Is it any wonder that people are turning off this government in droves? When  Labour self imploded before the last election it would have been difficult to believe that they would have a fighting chance winning back government after just one term.  Whether they have sorted out their issues well enough to actually win the next election is debatable (supporting a call for a Federal ICAC would certainly help) but in the meantime support for the Greens, the only party not touched by the corruption inquiry,  has soared.

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