Economically the budget is hastening slowly. The trend is right and really is a matter of taste. I wouldn’t expect any serious revival before 2015 but this has hardly been the savaging everyone was talking about. After 2015 it sets us up for a quite good recovery. As with everything in economics, there are so many unknowns of the known and unknown variety that nothing can be certain. But it puts us in a good position to catch any passing wind.
Politically, however, it looks even better. I teach of a Tuesday night so don’t get home till late and had to catch up by watching ABC News 24. And what struck me was the extent to which the critics were pretty subdued. No real heavyweight venom and anger, just the usual negativity about trying to repair what everyone knows needs repairing. We are the lucky country in the sense that the harder we work the luckier we get. Just as in 1931 the Lyons Government cut deeply into public spending allowing Australia to be the first economy in the world to emerge from the Great Depression, so the cuts and crafting of expenditure this time round will allow us to put ourselves on a very solid foundation for growth.
Even the supposed nasties, listening to some woman worrying whether she might be able to find the $7 to get to the doctor came across as a pretty weak and whiny complaint. The co-payment is designed to make you think twice in a way that a freebie doesn’t. For 98% of the country, if your illness isn’t worth paying $7 for the medical advice you get, you either have your priorities wrong or you have been wasting a lot of our precious medical resources because you’ve treating them as a free good. Well, it might have been free to you but not to the rest of us.
Same with cutting Newstart for the under-30s. Luckily again we are a community that doesn’t look benignly on living off the earnings of others although there are many still trying to expand this constituency. But what is more important is that it will mightily discourage many from a wastrel style of life. Falling into a welfare trap young and early is a disaster. Maybe it will save a bit of money but more importantly it may save a few lives from being lost and wasted.
We’ll see over the next few days and months how the politics plays out in the real world. In the meantime I think it is a job well done.