Foolishly during Kevin Rudd’s Australia 2020 Summit a few years ago I thought that the political circus in Canberra couldn’t get any more ridiculous. Sadly I was wrong. The Gillard led government is now doing its very best to destroy what little respect the public have left for politicians and Wayne Swan is sure to produce another work of economic & finance fiction – the 2012 Federal Budget.
Julia Gillard to me is like a red chameleon that can’t change colour but thinks it can and believes it is always well camouflaged. At times she wants to appear greener than a bunch of Woodstock hippies, but alas she is still as red as Chairman Mao’s little book.
At other times she tries to change to business blue or farmer brown, but again she has only changed her appearance in her own mind. Few people are fooled and most see Julia for what she is: a desperate Prime Minister who will go down in history as one of the worst Australia has ever had the misfortune to be saddled with.
In days gone by Gillard would have already been toppled from power, but the Labor Party’s talent pool is so shallow that even the algae at the bottom is drying out.
So Gillard holds the highest elected office in the land simply because there is no real alternative apart from Kevin Rudd. What a choice…a bumbling P.M. or an egomaniac ex-P.M. How sad is that for the Australian public?
Julia Gillard will not make it to the end of 2012 as Prime Minister and I suspect she knows it. If she truly wanted to do what is best for Australia she would call and election to give the public a chance to make a change if they so wish. However she seems intent on making a last stand and every day she remains in office, the more damage is done to the Australian economy and our international image.
Generally I try to avoid talking about Australian politics when overseas, however if pushed I cunningly attempt to change the subject to either The Wiggles, Kylie Minogue or the Australian cricket team. This normally works well.
For example if someone asks me who the Prime Minister is I answer “Well it should be Steve Waugh” or “Isn’t it the Red Wiggle or “We don’t need a P.M, we have Kylie”.
Usually this works well, especially if people have had plenty of alcohol to drink. However a few months ago in Singapore my strategy came unstuck when a local business entrepreneur brushed aside my attempts to avoid talking about politics and proceeded to give a very good summary of the Rudd-Gillard saga.
As I sat and listened, I realised how pathetic our government must appear to overseas business & political leaders. The truth is we have a government that is simply focused on remaining in government and a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to have the courage to resign.
We also have a government that has managed to take a surplus handed to them by the previous Howard government, spend it all, borrow billions and have very little to show for it.
Soon to make matters worse, Wonky Wayne and his Budget Factory will once again produce a federal budget that will demonstrate that the government’s vision extends only as far as saving as many seats at the next election as possible.
Last year I made this comment about Swan’s 2011 budget:
“Will productivity in Australia be improved because of this years budget? No. Will the Australian manufacturing sector be made more competitive because of this years budget? No. Will Wayne Swan’s 2011 budget help position the Australian economy to be able to better withstand the next economic downturn? No.”
After this years budget I guarantee you the same comments will be applicable. Swanny spends when he should save and saves when he should spend.
The slowdown in the Chinese economy is happening despite the best efforts of the China bulls to talk it away. A few years ago we could have taken some measures which would be kicking in now and these could have provided a buffer for the period when commodities prices will be lower & mines start to close. We are probably already in that period now.
It also amazes me that the Treasurer & Treasury appear surprised that tax revenues will come in less than they forecast. Clearly they need to pay more attention to what is happening in the real world and less time tweaking their computer models.
There is only one thing more scary than an economist tweaking an economic computer model to suit an economic theory and that’s a politician who actually believes the model works.
Regarding Swan’s 2010 budget I wrote:
“Supporters of the budget will say I just don’t have a good grip on how strong demand is from China, but a quick look at the stock & commodities markets today suggests that I am not the only one not buying into Swan’s optimistic view of the economy.
Maybe the budget forecasts are correct, but I doubt it and the repercussions for the Australian economy if they are wrong will be severe.”
Well folks many of the forecasts have turned out to be wrong and on budget night we will find out what some of repercussions will be. As per usual not much will be done to make the economy more competitive, most problems will not be addressed and the the new forecasts are unlikely to be any more accurate than the last ones.
That’s because the 2012 Federal Budget will be about getting as many Labor Party members of parliament and senators re-elected as possible. The sad reality is that the government is not watching the economy but instead watching the Opposition and opinion poll numbers.
We can only hope that a few of the ‘Independents’ re-discover their backbones and that this madness ends soon…for Australia’s sake.
Greg Atkinson is the editor of Shareswatch Australia and the Managing Director of Ohori Capital. He is originally from Australia but currently resides in Japan. He can be followed on twitter via @GregAtkinson_jp