Joyful crowd celebrates end of Rudd’s six-year deficit
Here’s a confronting concept to grapple with first thing in the morning: opposition assistant treasury spokesman Tony Smith saying that Kevin Rudd’s deficit will last longer than the Second World War.
Or so long that, if your first child is born on budget night next Tuesday, they will have enrolled at primary school by the time the Budget is back in the black.
The Daily Telegraph’s Sue Dunlevy reports this morning that next week’s economic statement may contain a deficit figure as high as $70 billion, $10 billion higher than most other estimates in the pre-budget marketplace. Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd remain sanguine about the enormity of this figure.
But there’s one very big problem with their laid-back approach.
Their relaxed and comfortable demeanour is predicated on an absurd belief that the $60-$70 billion can be paid off within a six-year time-frame provided NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS over these coming years.
This would represent something of a watershed in governance. Even a smallish nation such as ours, tucked away at the arse end of the world, is not only still vulnerable to the ill-winds of the global economy, as the past 12 months have amply demonstrated - but our dosmetic agenda throws up plenty of unforeseen and expensive policy challenges.
It is only a few months since Kevin Rudd stood before the Parliament and pledged, to his credit, that Canberra’s support for the people of Victoria in the wake of the February bushfires would be “open-ended and ongoing”.
Be it natural disasters, company collapses, bank guarantees, bailouts for workers entitlements - you name it - the chances of the deficit being paid off with no other fiscal distractions are so remote as to be laughable.
After Labor’s five-point slide in Newspoll this week, the deficit issue is emerging as Rudd’s greatest weakness and the Opposition’s best political opportunity.
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