Wayne “Fluffy Duck” Swan and Kevin “Teflon Man” Rudd have delivered their first budget and so I will share my thoughts on a few areas in the budget and my impression of the budget overall.
Firstly let me say that I believe in small governments, less politicians and the empowerment of individuals. In short this means the private sector should be left to do what it does best, we should be reducing the number of state and federals MP’s since they should be able to work more efficiently via the use of technology (and be more productive like the rest of us) and individuals should be given the opportunities to succeed but also not be rewarded for self inflicted under achievement.
Now onto some areas of the budget that caught my attention:
Changes to the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
The changes to the Medicare levy threshold will result in many tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people dropping their private health insurance . Over time the substandard public health care system will deteriorate further as it groans under the weight of even more people heading towards it’s crowded wards and emergency rooms. State governments are responsible for running public hospitals and have shown over many years they are unable or unwilling to effectively manage the public hospital system. Even after years of critical reports, avoidable deaths and patient malnutrition etc nothing ever seems to change. It is classic example of where no competition and indifference results in substandard service, and just as a viable alternative to public hospital system was gaining strength, the new federal government seems to be intent on putting the brakes on any growth in the private health care sector. Rather than encouraging more people to head to public hospitals we should be encouraging those who can afford it, to take up private health cover and utilize private hospitals whenever possible. Let’s have some real competition and choice in regards to health care!
Personal income tax cuts.
The government is focused on fighting inflation so we are told, but nonetheless they went ahead with the planned tax cuts anyway. If they really wanted to show courage they would have scrapped or scaled back the tax cuts rather than pumping more money into consumers hands and thus helping to feed the inflation beast. But to be fair, the previous government would not have tampered with the tax cuts either so I guess you cannot fault the Fluffy Duck or the Teflon Man on this point..they are after all, politicians.
Luxury car tax increase.
It seems in order to appease the masses and the media that the new government aims to increase taxes and lower benefits for the wealthy. Nobody seems clear how these “wealthy” people are defined but if you earn near $100k or more then do not expect any favours from the Rudd and Co. The luxury car tax increase is just the first of many little barbs that will be aimed at the wealthy, but this measure will actually impact many people who simply like a better(safer) than average car or an imported car. It seems if you are in the private sector you get hit with fringe benefits tax and luxury car taxes, but if you are Kevin Rudd you get to spend $500,000 or more of tax payers money flying an entourage of you pals up to Bali on a private jet to sign a pointless treaty. It also seems a car over $57,000 is a luxury for the so called “wealthy” but it is quite okay for Rudd and Swan etc to cruise around in their chauffeur driven taxpayer supplied luxury car…talk about double standards!
Most of the other budget measures like the “Education Revolution”, “Building Australia Fund” or “National Health and Hospitals Reform Plan” are just typical allocation of resources exercises and are nothing particularly special or revolutionary. They do indicate however what we can expect in the future and that is:
- Grand sounding plans and stage managed media events to give the illusion of brilliant policy development.
- Government or management by committees. This means the “Teflon Man” can be seem to be proactive by setting up committees to look into everything but is then shielded from any fallout since he can say he was just acting on the advice the committee gave him. Of course if any of the various committees he has set up actually do any good he will be quick to take the credit.
- Plenty of spin, verbose statements and long winded speeches but I doubt we will be dazzled by the results this government achieves. Already we can see the national broadband roll out turning into a mess and the “petrol commissioner” does not seem to be helping petrol prices very much!
There were some good things about the budget such as the extra money for public hospitals and universities, but overall I was pretty underwhelmed. It will be interesting to see where the nation is when the next budget is handed down.