Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tax Cuts Less Important than Balancing the Books

After its election the Liberal Government waxed long and hard about what it called a Budget Emergency. There was no end to the shrill and hysterical rhetoric about the state of the Budget and the prospect of Budget Deficits into the future.

The Budget Emergency was used as the alibi for all manner of attacks on public services and lower income earners in the 2014 Budget. It was the justification for the cutting of pension indexation. It was the justification for the deregulating of fees for university students. It was the justification for a new payment to visit the doctor. It was the justification for cuts of billions of dollars in health and education for the States. It was the justification for cuts to foreign aid, legal aid, and the ABC. It was the justification for abandoning the promise to implement the Gonski funding which had been promised to schools.

When we voted against these broken promises, these harsh and counterproductive austerity measures, the Labor Opposition was attacked relentlessly for sabotaging the Government's efforts to "repair the Budget".

Then, disappearing almost as suddenly as it came, the Budget Emergency vanished. The 2015 Budget took a new tack altogether. The Government stopped talking about it, and if asked about it, suggested they now had the problem under control.

But the fact is that the Budget Deficits are still there. And yet Treasurer Hockey now talks about tax cuts! What a lightweight Joe Hockey is. He is totally incoherent on the subject of economic management. He must think the Australian electorate has the memory of a goldfish, that people will forget that only last year he was lecturing us day in day out on the need to balance the books.
The fact is that balancing the books does matter, and we should not be talking about tax cuts – and note that it is only talk, there is no substance to this talk whatsoever – until we have the books in a healthier condition, and have taken serious action to crack down on tax avoidance. It is not prudent or responsible to spend money we don't have, and Joe Hockey damages the credibility of politicians generally when he abandons the idea of fiscal discipline without any rational basis for doing so.

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