Boring, unsexy: Who’d rather watch MasterChef?
As all the cool kids got themselves in a lather over last night’s budget I noticed a distinct void in the chatter. Where were the mums and dads? Turns out that lots of them were watching Masterchef (possibly the people’s new opium) - studiously avoiding the budget telecast.
Political apathy seemed to be the flavour of the day, plated up and served with a side of Couldn’t Give a Shit.
Was it the fault of the no-frills budget? Or have we lost faith in a government which once seemed to promise so much?
Or was an ‘unsexy’, boring budget simply a clever way of getting us to tune out from a government in all sorts of trouble.
Probably closer to the truth is the fact that families - all kinds of families - are actually too busy working, wrangling kids, balancing their own budgets, paying the bills, worrying over interest rates, childcare, rising costs of living to be worried about the budget telecast. Most of us only have time to read the headlines the next day and ask, “So what’s in it for me?”
Turns out this year, not so much. Naturally the health initiatives are of interest. Sickness and injury are a mainstay of family life. Something all too apparent for me as I picked my sick daughter up from her nan’s so that I could rush home and prepare for the budget speech. Significantly, she threw up all over the loungeroom floor during Joe Hockey’s ABC interview.
I wondered aloud if any of the new super clinics were open yet.
After cleaning her up and I looked back over what else was on offer. They were slim pickings.
Proposed simplified tax returns: Yep, most of us hate the annual tussle with the Tax Pack so this holds definite appeal. But I found the introduction of this initiative with a spiel about how the average person’s desire is to spend more time with their ‘loved ones’ particularly annoying.
At first I thought Wayne Swan was about to offer us all a free week on the Gold Coast. But no. A few hours annual relief from sorting through work receipts is all that this offers, because if your tax obligations are more complicated than that chances are you can’t use the new ‘click and flick’ option anyway.
Budget sweetener lite if you ask me.
Childcare is the other thing which is usually wheeled out to catch the eye of the mum and dad voter. But blink and you would have missed this years offering - which, actually is no offering at all. Capping of rebates to the 2008-2009 level is a cut many of us didn’t expect. Although the announcement of the National Quality Framework for early childhood education and child care is what we can expect to see as a result of this capping.
After that it was all a bit yada yada - the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT) and its link to superannuation is all a bit tenuous for many of us to take seriously right now.
Granted, the Renewable Energy Fund sounds like just the thing to keep the government in the green parenting good books after the ETS backdown. They know that parents are passionate about the future of the planet because their kids are going to be walking it. But is it going to be any good? We’ve already seen an ill-conceived green initiative go bad this year.
There is no denying that this was, as promised, a no-frills budget. Perhaps the kind of budget that, in other years that would have mums and dads jumping up and down shouting, “I got nothing!’
I’m going to bet that is year they won’t. And here’s why. Despite its lack of sweeteners, the spin on this years budget, with it’s heavy emphasis on caution and fiscal responsibility, is perfectly suited to families. The spectre of the scary GFC and our ‘lucky escape’ from it plays right into the heart of most parents. Yes, we watched the world go into financial meltdown, and for many of us we were terrified that we were going to go down too. The government knows our fears only too well and has played them perfectly.
What they also know is that most families have had to have the ‘hard money talk’ themselves at various times. “Time to tighten the belt if we want to give the kids Christmas this year!” Swan has aligned himself with all of us who are trying to be responsible and ‘do the right thing’ financially. How can we argue with what seems like good sense?
Just don’t mention the insulation scheme, or the school building program or the fact that the RSPT hasn’t actually been passed yet.
Otherwise you might find that tonight’s budget is even unsexier than you think.
In that light it might sound a little like this: “Um… honey –I kinda just maxed out all our credit cards on Davo’s snake oil scheme and possibly sold our firstborn so, you know, it’s time we tightened our belts, wait for that money we’re getting when Uncle Harold dies, and have ourselves a little quality no-frills time together. Hey, at least we didn’t lose the house like our neighbours, eh? ”
Er, yeah, thanks for that, sweetheart. Isn’t it time for Masterchef?
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