Politics Analysis

Bogus bullying, the buy-your-vote Budget and a fake tan fight-back

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

By now, you will have seen and heard plenty of commentary about the Federal Budget, which was handed down yesterday.

Independent Australia did not go to the Budget Lockup this year. We went a few years back and have the tote bag to prove it. We found it stretched our budget and provided little return for you, our audience.

What value is it to be among the first to report on financial matters reported and commented on by every man and his dog, which won’t come to pass before 1 July and often years into the future ─ if at all?

THE BUY-YOUR-VOTE BUDGET

Having already proven your intelligence by subscribing to Independent Australia, you don’t need us to breathlessly tell you if are among the 6 million Australians who will receive a $250 one-off gratuity this year, or whether you are among the 10 million people who will receive a $420 tax offset when you put in your 2023 tax return.

Certainly, you will have heard by now from other sources, that the $2.15 or so a litre currently being extorted from you at the petrol bowser might be cut by 20 cents or so by a reduction to the fuel excise levy, until that too is absorbed by the inevitable price increases, if it not before. We wouldn’t insult your intelligence by rehashing such banalities.

We also won’t bother to give any credence to any forecasts made. In 2019, just before Morrison’s  “miracle” election win, the Government said the nation was “back in the black” (next year) and forecast Budget surpluses of $38 billion between 2020 and 2023. Yeah, nah. That turned out to be deficits of $292 billion over the same time period. Oops! Apparently, debt doesn’t matter anymore (as you know, it never really did) so Frydenberg is on a spendathon. Austerity? Pfft! That can come later, according to Josh.

Yes, this is an election year budget and, as such, the Morrison Government has two main aims, which are to:

  1. buy enough votes to gain re-election; and
  2. pad the purses of their friends and donors in case they are unsuccessful in #1.

When looked at through this prism, for instance, huge increases in defence spending coupled with massive cuts to funding for climate change initiatives are easy to understand. As is the continued funding of short-term infrastructure projects in marginal electorates, while long term projects, such as the Inland Rail, continue to be kicked down the road.

Indeed, 40 per cent of the infrastructure spending announced in the Budget has been allocated to the seat of Dobell in NSW, which the Coalition are desperate to win off Labor. The rest of the $17.8 billion has gone to what Alan Kohler called "wavering regional electorates". This is a Government unashamed by the blatant pork-barrelling discovered through the “sports rorts”, “car-park rorts” and so many other rorts.

THE BOGUS BULLYING

Scotty from Marketing is trying to pull off the same smoke and mirrors trick that saw him achieve victory against all expectations in 2019. And if the turnaround in the Roy Morgan poll this week is any guide, the ever-credulous Australian electorate (present company excluded, of course) might just fall for it again.

As we wrote last week, faint hints of Labor Party bullying and internal instability following the death of Senator Kitching have been amplified and repeated in the daily news cycle by the Coalition and its media accomplices in an attempt to create a false sense of equivalency. 

It matters not whether the reports are baseless, or if actual, proven bullying is occurring within the Government, as opposed to the tactic is to repeat the rumours incessantly until they stick. And given the latest dip in the polls (if these are ever to be believed), perhaps some of the mud has stuck.

Meanwhile, back at the imploding ranch known as the Liberal Party, more natives are revolting and digging the boot in on their way out. This time, it was the usually convivial (ahem) Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' adding her name to the list of dissatisfied ex-Liberals — and in spectacular fashion, it must be said.

According to Fierravanti-Wells, Morrison is "ruthless", an "autocrat", a "bully" and "not fit to be PM". Thanks for the update, Concetta but that ship has sailed — though not the spaceship quite yet. The Senator also shared a few, similar observations on Morrison's chum and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

It's a pity that Fierravanti-Wells – from whose ears smoke could be seen billowing whenever someone so much as sneezed on Twitter – has kept her silence on ScoMo until, quite literally, the bitter end. Nonetheless, it is fitting that another woman should attest to this Prime Minister’s bullying credentials. The corporate media may even cover this now established fact of ScoMo The Bully for more than 48 hours — we are ever-hopeful.

THE 'FAKE TAN' FIGHT-BACK

And on the matter of the Budget, it is Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s “fake tan” analogy that best sums it up and the "cash splash" example that illustrates the point:

Hailed as a “cash splash”, the Treasurer’s $250 one-off cash payment for pensioners and concession card holders, is lower than the $291 travelling allowance Frydenberg got just for showing up to make the "cash splash" announcement. 

In what universe does a one-off payment of $250, compared with thousands upon thousands of dollars continuing to be spent on ministerial allowances, alone, signify anything other than an insult?

Apparently, in the same universe where flood victims who have lost everything are all but completely ignored (unless you count a possible $2,000 one-off payment for which only some will qualify) while $270 billion is spent on defence should any imaginary threats materialise. (Though, to be fair, foreign threats are more likely to materialise than most of the Government's promises.)

The same universe where the mounting impacts of the climate emergency are ignored and no money is being spent on mitigating future disaster events or alleviating emissions.

The same universe where petrol goes up by $45 in one week but the Treasurer promises up to a $15 reduction, sometime in the future. Possibly. (That 250 bucks might pay for a whole tank of petrol, after all.)

And the same universe where people concerned about sky-rocketing rents are told by the PM to just buy a house. Not in Lismore, obviously. Or Byron Bay. Or in a fire risk area. Or near water of any kind. 

The same universe where budget pledges, along with most other promises, are simply empty announcements that never come to fruition. And the one where the ever-faithful establishment media will do their darndest to ensure we all focus on the trinkets and any rumours about the Opposition and forget about the facts.

Perhaps the $1.16 billion being spent on future space travel within the universe in question is really an insurance measure for the Government in case they get booted out of office and beyond the stratosphere? 

This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members-only area.

You can follow IA founder and director Dave Donovan @davrosz and managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, Facebook HERE and Instagram HERE.

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