THE best economics newspaper writer in the business, The SMH’s, Ross Gittins, said this week: “Sadly, you can’t believe what you read in the federal Budget … (one) we can’t trust or respect”.
If you thought that harsh, Gittins colleague, Jessica Irvine, a senior SMH economics writer since 2005 assessed the Budget this way: “Let’s not beat about the bush. The package of income tax cuts announced in the Budget is the worst piece of tax design in recent history. It’s not tax reform, far from it”.
Before Labor or Bill Shorten takes any heart from those assessments and other media commentary like them, his Budget-in-reply speech was an absolute turn-off.
Again, The SMH summed it up well - the headline above its letters page last Saturday read: “Shorten struggles to sell Labor”.
The Turnbull administration (and Treasurer Scott Morrison) is shaping as the worst Coalition Government since Sir William McMahon’s (although some in the press gallery say it reached that point last year) yet Shorten is behind Turnbull by 20 points as preferred PM.
As one Fairfax letter writer puts it: “He (Shorten) cannot find a way to sound real”.
Then this from Norm Neill who lives in Darlinghurst: “I’ll vote for the first party to offer a realistic challenge to voters to help make Australia a better country rather than trying to bribe us with bids in a tax-cutting war”.
That reminded me of a retired Sydney couple interviewed on television last week; the man clearly unwell but both hoping the Budget would have given them some better news (it didn’t as it turned out) that they might fulfil their desire to remain in their own home for as long as economically possible.
Asked which of the major parties he might vote for in the coming so-called “tax election”, the man said he would not vote for either.
Many voters have a similar stance which underlines again what this column has proposed consistently, Australians need a new party; it accentuates, too, what Norm Neill wrote (above).
Why do MPs and major parties have trouble understanding that we demand better! A simple request to parties to consider re-framing our system of state and federal parliaments, especially the Senate; abolishing grand-standing events like question time; an overhaul of the tax system; revitalising the Public Service as a nationally great career path; – all these, and others, are treated with disdain, a silent rebuttal by MPs and major parties.
A regular DA reader, John Goonan, in a recent contribution to this column, posed these questions: Are we as a nation finally realising that there is a place for ethically correct decision making rather than politically expedient decision making; are we now ready to admit that we have stopped the boats and we do have a compassionate heart big enough to bring those illegally incarcerated on Manus and Nauru here; will rural Australia now start getting the services and support taken for granted in the capital cities; are our pollies now ready to pass laws which are just and not simply a response to their big donors? “Unfortunately”, John concluded, “I don’t think so”.
A quote from a former great leader sums up politics and Australian politicians in recent years and the past fortnight in particular. Canada’s PM of the 1920-40s, William Mackenzie King, said: “The politicians’ promises of yesterday are the taxes of today”.