The politics of economics

A budget is a political document dealing with economic issues. But it is politics first. I also read Henry’s post and now the comment by Sinclair and thought I might buy in as well.

The economics of this budget we shall see for ourselves tomorrow night. From everything we so far know, it’s not the budget I would have brought down but I am in sympathy with its aims. The problem will, however, be the politics. So far, and especially on economic matters, this government does politics very badly.

I understood why they decided to run a silent operation on border protection. But on other matters, what has drawn most of my attention is how on just about every issue I can think of, little has been done to shape the narrative. Labor was a catastrophe, enough for three Liberal terms in office. But the way the politics and the engagement with the community has gone, they will be lucky to survive in 2016.

The horrors of the Labor economic mismanagement ought to have been a constant theme from the day the election ended. The horrors at what was found in the books should have been drummed time and again by the government. These are genuine horrors, so why we didn’t continuously hear about NBN and company, or the unfunded nature of the NDIS, or the additions caused by Gonski, or the bank of unfunded promises that will sink us, or the carbon tax and its destructive capabilities, or any of the rest I do not know. They will therefore bring in a pain-for-everyone budget that may appeal to some but will alienate a good many others.

No one will understand the economics of this budget without instruction. The instruction should have begun months ago. Whether in regard to its economics it is a good budget or a bad one, the reality is that professional politicians though they may be, the politics has been dreadful.

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10 Responses to The politics of economics

  1. Andrew

    Yep I’ve been agitating about that for months. Obviously excluding Sir Scott, and even he should point to the scoreboard occasionally. But the rest – the narrative has been owned by GetUp with occasional comments from Blabbersac.

    Most egregious example is from Hunt.

  2. .

    It will take a few days to make a sensible comment. Those who come out with a full analysis at the end of the budget speech are generally bullshitting.

    That kind of crap is what we call The Stern Report – hurriedly written boilerplate shit.

  3. john constantine

    the focus groups found that if abbott blamed gillard for being useless, the wymynses vote wouldn’t hear the words, just feel like abbottbeast was being mean to women.

    numbers are not heard as meaningful things by a large demographic of voters, it is how they feel when they hear the person speak, not the content that matters.

    the abc plays hard with this, observe them discussing their feelings, then framing abbottbeast as a numbers fascist, then having a conversation among themselves about their feelings again.

  4. Robert Blair

    Mr Kates:

    professional politicians though they may be, the politics has been dreadful

    Yes, Abbot & Hockey & Co ARE professional politicians.

    Maybe they have given it some thought after all. Perhaps let them make their play before grading it.

    I seem to remember several occasions in the past when Abbot has been told that he got the politics wrong – later it was seen that he got it exactly right. Remember the “Global warming is all crap” brouhaha? Abbot played that one better than any other professional politician, Liberal, Labour or Green.

    Note that, in hindsight, he could have played it much better. But that doesn’t count: when you and your friend are running from the grizzly bear, you don’t have to outrun the bear. Just your friend.

  5. Roger

    what has drawn most of my attention is how on just about every issue I can think of, little has been done to shape the narrative. Spot on Steve and a point I have made here too, fwiw. At the beginning of this government I thought how refreshing it would be to have federal politics off the front page every day and not the lead of the nightly news bulletins. But that being said, Tony Abbott has thus far failed to project his vision for the nation on to the electorate, and like it or not governments need a narrative to engage the electorate and win their support over the medium to long term. The budget crisis is an opportunity to do this; there are indications Abbott and Hockey grasp this – now they need to grasp the opportunity and run with it.

  6. viva

    I dunno – just about every TV commenter I’ve listened to (on Sky News at least) reckoned Hockey has done a pretty good job drum banging the drumbeat of fiscal doom.

  7. Dr Faustus

    on just about every issue I can think of, little has been done to shape the narrative. Labor was a catastrophe, enough for three Liberal terms in office. But the way the politics and the engagement with the community has gone, they will be lucky to survive in 2016.

    Agree 100% – an expensive advantage butchered.

    Despite his personal qualities, Abbott was never going to be anything like an inspirational national leader – and he has clearly not grown in that direction. The lazy, statist approach of appointing a faceless and unrepresentative ‘Commission of Audit’ as a lever to try and jam an incoherent economic narrative through a hostile Senate plays directly to the Government’s weakness in articulating a message to the broader community.

    It would be hard to write a script that better portrays the Government in terms of the Oppossition’s memes.

  8. Mark from Melbourne

    I’m with you, Robert.

    These guys know what they are doing – or so we must assume – and to write them off before the darn thing is even delivered is a bit rich I reckon. No richer than the Doomlord’s obsession with promises he alleges to have been broken in advance, as it were, but pretty out there nonetheless.

    Perhaps the politically-”aware” classes have been so conditioned by 6 years of Labor media games that we are unable to see the wood for the trees right now?

    Come back with a mature reflection sometime around December is they way I look at it.

  9. laugh out loud

    Steve, a bit hard to bang the drums when it was left with AAA ratings, disclosure of the financial situation through the pre-economic statement and a debt level the envy of other OECD countries. The problem is that they think three words constitute a narrative – it might work in opposition but not in government. They could have set out a narrative prior to the election, but didn’t, so hence now the problems. No one to blame but themselves – laziness or duplicity – take your pick.

  10. Combine_Dave

    Steve, a bit hard to bang the drums when it was left with AAA ratings, disclosure of the financial situation through the pre-economic statement and a debt level the envy of other OECD countries.

    Thank you Howard and Costello.

    It’s a pity you allowed too much middle class welfare (and didnt end Holden subsidies and restrictions on Qantas ownership) and didnt cut taxes enough, resulting in Labor pissing your surpluses and future fund up against the wall on bullshit trinkets to impress the voters (subsidised solar panels, home insulation, unneeded school halls, NBN )

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