How Swan almost took a dive on the Budget Speech
Trapped in a political death roll, Treasurer Wayne Swan prepared a Budget speech that would see him go down in history as the most desperately honest politician the world has ever seen. Then, in the wee small hours, a spin doctor talked him down from the ledge. Here’s how it went down.
Wayne Swan (hand on heart): Madam Deputy Speaker, this Government will be a Robin Hood taking from fat cats like Clive Palmer and giving to working families. We have an ever so slightly personal dislike for these magnates messing around in politics, and think we look pretty tough giving them these little smackdowns.
Labor also feels that the next Government will reap all the benefits of the mining boom so we must redistribute that money before we lose power, and be remembered for slipping the dosh straight into the pockets of Australians whom we will refer to repeatedly as working families.
Spin Doctor: Wayne. No. Stop right there. Make it the Opposition’s fault from the start because they were going to block the company tax cut anyway.
And don’t say fat cats. The fat and the single childless catlovers in the 40-59 bracket won’t like it. But keep ‘working families’. That’s good stuff.
This Labor Government knows that for too many Australians this feels like someone else’s mining boom. Someone else’s prosperity. We understand the pressures Australians face, paying for electricity, housing, groceries, petrol or even a simple family outing. That’s why we’ve gone into bat for working families.
We wanted to do more for business with a company tax cut but the Opposition’s negative tactics have prevented that tax cut flowing.
WS: In many ways we want to frame this as a battlers’ Budget. It’s about battlers. That’s the vibe. It’s about a fair go. For battlers. Working family battlers. With schoolkids. Who battle.
SD: Sorry, Wayne. You used ‘battlers’ in the doorstop earlier and it just reminded people of how great Howard was.
WS: Yeah but all our research shows that bloody Abbott has successfully made Australians feel hard done by and that they care more about cost of living than anything else. That’s why they’re battlers. I like that word.
SD: No, Wayne. Lose it. And have another crack at Abbott.
The Government has always been committed to sharing fairly the benefits of the resources boom. And every step of the way we have been opposed by the Coalition.
SD: Great, now move on to the schoolkids stuff, that’s a cracker and the papers love pictures of mums and kids so it’ll get a good run.
WS: To bribe the parents of Australia we will increase family tax benefits and give families a Schoolkids Bonus. The fact that they just get the cash with no need to keep receipts or to wait until June and can basically use the money for whatever they want is a cheap move but we believe it could scrape back some votes. Hell, it worked last time we splashed cash around.
SD: Say ‘schoolkids’ a few more times once you get to the presser. Don’t say bribe, people are bit edgy about words like ‘bribe’, ‘rort’, and ‘misappropriation of funds’ at the moment. Make sure you emphasise that families will not really be held accountable for how they spend the money, though.
From next year we will deliver a new Schoolkids Bonus. This will replace the Education Tax Refund and will provide an extra $2.1 billion in more timely relief to 1.3 million families. They will no longer need to keep receipts and wait until tax time to claim the refund.
WS: Should I put something in here about the GST?
SD: Nah, let the Premiers suffer in their jocks.
WS: OK. Let’s move on. Madam Deputy Speaker this Government will give a paltry amount for foreign aid because our Media Monitors reports show that most people don’t really care about the starving Ethopians or Somalians or whatever and those that do care still care more about giving a fair go to working family battlers with schoolkids.
As for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, we’re pretty sure we got a good enough bounce from just announcing our commitment to it that no one will notice we have only funded it for a fraction of what the Productivity Commission says it needs.
SD: Good. Now gloss over the relatively disappointing efforts in the minor portfolios like health and education and get back on message.
WS: This Labor Government will continue to paint itself as a friend to families and a foe to big companies and mining magnates because we believe that keeping things black and white and making it sound like a battle between good and evil is the only chance to shore up the few seats we will have left.
Battle battle. Kids. Battle. Working families.
SD: And one more fair go for good luck.
WS: A fair go for working families.
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