Writing in the AFR, CIS boss Tom Switzer writes:
Josh Frydenberg and I have a lot in common.
We were born in the same year (1971). In the late 1980s and early ’90s, we represented our states in national sports (Josh, Victorian tennis; me, NSW athletics.) In 2009, we contested federal Liberal Party preselection (he convincingly won Kooyong in Melbourne; I narrowly lost Bradfield in Sydney).
We are, moreover, great admirers of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, two of the greatest political leaders in modern history.
There are other similarities. Both Josh and Switz have no clue and are both high on the platitudes but low on the detail.
Putting aside the historical errors and omissions from Switzer’s piece, what he and the rest of media industrial complex have done is allowed the government to change the subject. They have allowed the Government to change the subject from their program of doing nothing but throw out buckets of other people’s money to a discussion of 2 since passed leaders from 40 years ago.
Last week, the Government detailed what would previously be unimaginable levels of government spending delivering record levels of debt to be bourne by multiple future generations. Where was the reform program? Where was anything other than a discussion about how much of this spending to permanently bake into the spending cake?
The intellectual laziness and paucity of this government was sitting there waiting to be highlighted when then … the subject was changed.
Josh Frydenberg is the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia. He is not the Chief History Officer. Although he may as well be given his lack of focus on the job of being Treasurer.
What is the government going to do on tax cuts, deregulation and the size of government? Given Australia had the largest per-capital stimulus of developed nations, what is the government going to do to engender some economic reform? Apparently they’ll talk about Maggie and Ronnie and throw a few more billion on the barbie.
Switzer concludes with this:
Once the pandemic passes, responsible governments will need to champion a broad reform agenda that sharpens incentives to invest and create wealth. If they don’t, then the coming years could be grim beyond belief. Somewhere, Thatcher and Reagan would agree.
Nonsense. Utter nonsense. The pandemic may take years to pass and we don’t have to wait years for grimness. It’s sufficiently grim now.
A responsible government should be championing reform NOW not later. The problem is that there are no ribbons to cut or other “announceables” from doing the detailed and hard work of governing.
Switzer’s article … adds nothing to this discussion. Perhaps he should leave the opeds to his CIS colleagues. This piece, it’s as if its purpose was no more complicated than to have Switzer’s name in the paper.
Balancing the budget will nonetheless require offsetting cuts to wasteful government outlays on uneconomic infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail infrastructure and subsidies to support a “green economy”. A comprehensive, external root-and-branch review of existing public spending programs at all levels of government along the lines of the Henry tax review should be instigated immediately as a blueprint for public expenditure reform.
Expenditure reduction would counter budgetary pressure caused by company tax relief and also stimulate the economy. It has been forgotten that the only genuine Australian fiscal consolidation episodes in living memory were undertaken by the Hawke-Keating-Walsh and Howard-Costello teams, and that after both, the economy flourished.