Counterpunch: a Budget mess of Pro Hart proportions
You may remember that great carpet ad with the late Pro Hart, where together with his dog Rembrandt, he totally trashes a rug with pasta, red wine, chocolate sauce and cake. He splashes it about, rolls around in it, and even fires a shot gun at it. The cleaner then walks in and famously says, in that great accent, Oh Mr Hart, what a mess!
The only difference I can see between the Rudd Government’s approach to fiscal policy and Pro Hart’s carpet antics, is at least Pro Hart produced a work of art (of sorts).
For the past eighteen months, Kevin and Wayne have been splashing around cash and rolling around on the carpet in others people’s money, like there is no tomorrow. They’ve taken a shot gun to the surplus, like Pro did with the cake, and splattered it all over the room.
Like Pro Hart, the ‘carpet’ Labor started off with was absolutely spotless. With the Coalition paying off all Labor’s previous $96 billion debt and leaving money in the bank.
No wonder we are standing there with the Australian people, looking at Labor’s $58 billion deficit and $315 billion debt and declaring, ’Oh Mr Rudd, what a mess!’ Regardless of last week’s national account figures, these two chronic figures remain unchanged.
And it is this question that will dominate the Australian political debate between now and the next election – who do you trust to clean up Labor’s mess?
The Coalition have the form. Cleaning up Labor messes is what we do. It is the recurring theme of Australian politics. To dangerously mix analogies, we are the political equivalent of Pulp Fiction’s Winston Wolf. We’re the party you ring when you need a serious problem solved. I’ll leave you to guess who Jules and Vincent are. Perhaps, like Jules, Kevin will some day take to roaming the earth, doing good deeds at the UN.
Labor are mired in self denial and delusion. It took Kevin and Wayne a week to even say what the debt and deficit was. They followed this up by saying it would all be OK because Kevin had prophesied 12 years of miracle growth to get us out of it. Carrying on this Messiah complex, he went to say this would be achieved by placing him, the Government, at the centre of our economy.
He says this is necessary because ‘the private sector is in retreat’. I cannot think of a more insulting thing to say to Australian business people turning up to work every day at the front line of the global economic downturn, taking risks to keep people in work, to be told by their Prime Minister that they have dingoed the fight and it’s now up to Captain Kev to come and save the day.
By contrast the Coalition believes it is Australian business that will lead us out of this downturn, not the Australian Government. That is why we have announced polices such as the tax loss carry back and in February proposed targeted incentives to support small business cash flow, when Labor decided to just borrow another $14 billion and give it away.
Kevin Rudd justifies all of this on the basis that this is the worst recession we have faced since the Great depression and our revenues have collapsed. But this is complete spin.
The Government’s own forecasts show that we are looking at a half a percent fall in GDP. This is only a third of the contraction of the early nineties and a fifth of the contraction of the eighties. At the same time, collapse in revenues as a percentage of GDP, was far greater in the 90s than is forecast in our current budget. The only difference now is that Labor are spending more and our deficit is greater. Perhaps Hawke and Keating were not so bad after all, especially when compared to these guys.
We cannot allow our economy to contract what I’d describe as ‘Swan Flu’. This is an aggressive virus that affects the fiscal system of a nation’s finances following exposure to Labor ideology. It leads to an inability to control spending, resulting in massive deficits and spiraling debt. The only known cure is to quarantine the carrier from Government – for at least a decade. But take care, it can reoccur if you allow them back to early.
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