Punch: Labor’s waste is to blame for dud budget
As we enter another budget season, we are again swamped by a wall of excuses from Treasurer Wayne Swan, excuses that are supposed to explain why his budget will be a dud, again.
Each year it’s the same. As budget night approaches, out come the excuses. It’s someone else’s fault. It’s the financial crisis. It’s a natural disaster. It’s a mining boom that won’t deliver like other mining booms.
Wayne Swan acts as if he is the only Treasurer to face challenges. In Wayne’s world, all others had it easy. Peter Costello and the Howard Government were lucky, according to him.
This version of history ignores many issues. The Asian Financial Crisis, the Tech Wreck, a US recession, 9/11, Bali bombings, a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a one-hundred-year drought that very nearly brought regional Australia to the brink of collapse. All these issues impacted on the federal budget during the former government’s term.
So did $96 billion of debt left by Paul Keating. But prudent economic management meant the federal budget remained in good shape despite all these challenges.
This is not to say that issues faced by Wayne Swan aren’t impacting on the federal budget. But it is how he complains and uses them to cover-up his own incompetence which is infuriating.
This incompetence – the wasteful spending, the mismanagement of government funded programs and bad policy decisions – is the main reason why the federal budget is producing such ugly figures, and is why taxpayers will be left with an interest repayment bill of $4.3 billion for this financial year alone. But you won’t hear Wayne Swan talk about these issues, these factors.
Building the Education Revolution – a $1.7 billion blow out with up to $8 billion wasted. The Home Insulation disaster - $2.4 billion wasted and mismanaged. The Solar Homes program - $850 million wasted. The Green Loans program, which became Green Start before being dumped altogether - $300 million wasted.
Tax bonus payments - $46 million wasted, with money sent to people overseas, criminals and people who had passed away. Grocery Choice – $8 million spent on a website that delivered nothing and was eventually shut down. The 2020 Summit - $2 million wasted on a great big talk fest.
Recently it’s been revealed that $1.3 million was spent on payouts to terminated staff immediately following the political assassination of Kevin Rudd, and $13 million was wasted on advertising Kevin Rudd’s now dumped health reforms. Incredibly, Labor used taxpayers’ money to make claims it now says were not correct.
Then there’s the cost of Labor’s failed border protection policies. So far, taxpayers have forked out an extra $1.4 billion to deal with the influx of asylum seekers. But with more boats coming and no policy to stop them, current trends would indicate that an additional $1.9 billion in expenditure will be required over the next three years.
Then there’s the National Broadband Network – a $43 billion project with no business case.
If it wasn’t for all this wasteful spending, the Government would be in a better position to deal with unforseen events, like natural disasters. If it wasn’t for the wasteful spending, we wouldn’t need to impose new taxes and levies on hard working Australians. If it wasn’t for wasteful spending, medical researches wouldn’t need to worry about their funding being slashed.
The blame for all the wasteful spending, the driving factor behind the budget woes, falls on the feet of this Labor Government. Wayne Swan can use all the excuses he wants, but he cannot hide behind the fact that it is he and his Labor colleagues that have put the budget in this position.
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