Pollie Waffle on the 2019 Budget

Our lovely friend Pollie Waffle is back this week, and despite being hit with the flu, she has dragged herself from her bed to her couch to give you her un-biased opinion of last nights Budget.

Budget night for political junkies is like Christmas eve. Except this year. With the federal election hurling towards us and a budget that has just become a cash slinging, pork barrelling circus for all the major parties, it’s a bit more like the eve of a visit to the dentist for root canal. However, there was a decent dose of happy gas for some punters, but less than should have been used for others. I’m viewing this budget, and Labor’s reply later this week, rather more as their campaign launches. 

So, the big line that you’ll see splashed over the news this morning: a budget surplus of over $7 billion dollars next financial year and then up and up it goes over forward estimates. The Liberals were so pleased about it they turned their logo black yesterday and made loads of references to AC/DC. Doesn’t that make you feel good? Yeah, me neither. While the government is slapping itself on the back for its jolly big surplus, cost of living pressure and massive household debt is crushing most of us. (Cost of living pressure is loosely a political term bandied about when consumer spending is weak mainly because of poor wage growth ie: you can’t afford shit). Don’t get me wrong, reducing national debt is a good thing, but not at the expense of reducing vital services. NDIS anyone? 

Both you and I will fall asleep or start drinking if I go through the “winners and losers” and frankly, perspective is everything on the budget so a win for me might be a loss for you. To me, the hardest thing to understand with each budget are the broader consequences and projections for our economy and our quality of life.  

We all love tax cuts. And those abound. Watch this space for Labor’s budget response on Thursday night – there will be tax cuts aplenty from them too. Last night’s budget was Scott Morrison’s one big shot to turn the punters around. This election will be all about deciding who the nation believe the most on tax cut delivery and more dosh back in our pockets. 

Sure, we’ve all got our own important issues. For me, that’s climate change (helllloooo? Anyone home?), defence spending and cyber security, domestic violence and mental health (not nearly enough new spending let alone policy reform on either) and cost of living. I’m going to focus on this last one because it matters to us all. 

From my place on the couch, I call bullshit on the budget projections about our economy and wages growth. Stay with me here because this is important and I promise the only barrage of statistics. The budget papers predict China’s GDP will slow from 6.6% this year to 5.75% in 2021, the US will slow from 3% to 1.75% in the same period. Yet magically Australia’s will grow between 2.75% – 3% until the end of the next decade and wages will grow from 2.75% to 3.25% in 2019/20. Unicorns and rainbows stuff. I reckon the chance of our economy growing to 3.25% in the face of a global slowdown has less chance of happening than Josh Frydenberg actually joining AC/DC. You can bet Mr Shorten’s approach will be just as utopian because, well, May election.  You’ll have to excuse my less than enthusiastic tone this week. I’ve got the flu and am heavily medicated which I may consider continuing until the election is over. 

In other political news and an effort to end on a brighter note, there is a motion happening as I write to censure the vile Fraser Anning by the Senate over his grotesque comments about Christchurch and this will receive bi-partisan support. Penny Wong’s opening remarks are worth a read, as are those of Mattias Cormann. There is no place for hate and while we are living in what often feel like dystopian times, moments like this in the senate remind us that as Australians, as humans, we have more in common than not. I find that a comfort. 

Love, 

Pollie Waffle.