Would you be willing to pay an extra $9 every time you fill the car with petrol if it would help fund the national disability insurance scheme?
Should the rate or reach of the GST be increased to give the states more money for education?
Or are these lazy options for governments who already collect enough tax and simply waste what they’ve got?
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A donut here. A missed gym session there. We’ve all done it.
Too many calories in and not enough out. Over time, the weight starts to creep up and boom: you’re overweight.
It’s the same with the federal budget.
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The policy bigwigs who heard Joe Hockey’s provocative speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in London back in April could hardly help but be impressed.
Here was a leading politician arguing for cutbacks in welfare payments. Voters, he said, must be told that “the age of entitlement is over”.
Indeed, that was the title of his speech. You can imagine the audience thinking: “What courage! There should be more politicians like this - prepared to tell unpalatable truths and ignore the political risk.”
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A crackdown on government-funded liposuction; tax cuts for Mongolian, Tongan and Tunisian diplomats; a cut to the cherry and stone fruit export levies; a tax holiday for the Cricket World Cup; tax-free donations to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Fund; money for Afghan soldiers; a rock and roll program for school kids; $2 million for an Australian Ballet production centre in the Prime Minister’s home suburb of Altona…
Think you’ve heard the full story of the government’s mid year budget up date? Think again. The devil of this budget update is in the detail. Appendix A to the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook is where all the bodies are hidden.
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My entire public life has been governed by a simple principle that we have a responsibility to keep our economy strong in the interests of working Australians.
Everything we do as a Labor Government is about ensuring people on low and middle incomes benefit from our strong economy.
During these times of ongoing global economic uncertainty, one of the most important things the government can do to support families is to run a strict budget of our own.
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Wayne Swan is looking more Stepford wife than Bob the Builder. His mid-year budget update yesterday was largely an exercise in housekeeping – a massive spring clean to balance the budget books – rather than a major structural renovation to fix the fiscal house.
It detailed a whopping 76 policy decisions taken since the budget to either increase revenue or cut spending to keep the budget in surplus – just – this financial year. While economic growth is at its historic average and joblessness still relatively low, it is prudent for the government to return to surplus.
The turn around in the budget from a big deficit to a slim surplus is already taking heat out of the economy and paving the way for the Reserve Bank to keep interest rates lower than otherwise.
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There might be a substantial number of people a bit gobsmacked that a Budget which started only last July 1 is after just four months some $16 billion out of whack. So out of kilter, in fact, that the Government today has had to effectively recast all its expectations and introduce some big-hit measures to get back on course.
Consumers who already are close to deciding that the next few years might best be endured down in the onion cellar with a supply of can food and batteries might now feel their instincts are right.
But this is what happens to a 21st century economy exposed to global markets which dip and dive frequently and have almost instantaneous effects on domestic economies. And the response to these fluctuations is important.
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Warren Buffett once said that only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. The tide is certainly going out on the Gillard government, but that doesn’t stop them from trying every trick in the book to delay everything from being revealed.
At a time when budget honesty is desperately needed there is strong speculation Labor is going to rush out its Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) weeks earlier than normal perhaps even as soon as Monday.
If Labor is to release the budget update next week it will be for the most cynical of reasons. It will allow them to avoid factoring in additional economic data due in late October which is tipped to show declining revenues. Of the past 14 MYEFOs only two have been released in October and that was in advance of November elections.
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This government must have the courage and discipline to cut spending, reduce borrowing and to repay debt.
The mid year economic update (MYEFO) expected this week needs to take the form of a mini-budget. Wayne Swan needs to accept that government spending has and is contributing to the upward pressure on interest rates. We have now seen seven rises under his watch.
The Treasurer was at direct odds with leading economists such as Saul Eslake, Chris Richardson and RBA board member Warwick McKibbin, when he said: “Anybody who’s claiming the stimulus is somehow related to rate rises is simply talking rubbish.”
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