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IA will be at Parliament House all week, reporting from Canberra

IA press gallery correspondent and political editor Dr Martin Hirst previews the 2017 Budget from Canberra.

AFTER ELECTIONS and leadership coups the handing down of a national budget is high on the list of highly-choreographed political circus acts.

The 2017 Budget, coming in a couple of hours from now, is one of the more precisely-scripted and image-controlled that we’ve seen in recent history.

The Coalition is generally on the scale of slow learners, but even it couldn’t miss the lessons Australians en masse, learned from the failed budgets of 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Economically illiterate and ideologically-driven political budgets that promise plenty but only deliver on pain are not popular with punters.

The Coalition is so bereft of big policy ideas, and so blinkered and backward looking in its vision for Australia that this budget is going to be yet another exercise in repeating the well-worn (and worn-out) mantra that the LNP government is still trying to fix the “debt and deficit” problems it inherited from the ALP … all those years ago.

The (neo-)Liberal Party and its agrarian socialist junior partner has spent the last four years dismantling Labor policies – the carbon “tax”, a world-class NBN, the Gonski school-funding reforms and equitable higher education policies – it has not been a proactive, vision-driven policy-forward government.

As IA found out today in Canberra, speaking to trade unionists and students protesting at the Jobs Embassy in front of Parliament House, ordinary working Australians will be paying the price of the government’s lack of policy and vision.

The theme that we’ve picked up on, by speaking to ordinary Australians – not the mandarins, pundits and privileged who glide around behind the Canberra curtains – is that the future is being taxed to pay for the follies of the present.

Future generations, priced out of education, housing and health and forced into low-paying jobs, where wages fall ever further behind the cost of living, are paying for Fizza Turnbull’s indecision, his blind determination to hang on to the Prime Minister’s office keys and his craven capitulation to the right-wing inside his own party.

As ACTU President, Ged Kearney (it's pronounced “Jed”, by the way) told IA today, the 2017 budget is a document to satisfy Malcolm Turnbull’s base in the boardrooms of corporate Australia.

The burden of paying for necessary social measures is being pushed onto those who can least afford it: the low-waged and those on welfare.

At the same time, the already wealthy are getting a $ 50 billion tax cut and over 100 of Australia’s top companies pay absolutely zero taxes.

This is a budget that will see ordinary Australians paying the cost of innovation, education, health and other social services while the 1% enjoy tax breaks and bigger profits.

As Greens senator Lee Rhiannon told IA today, the 2017 budget is more about protecting Malcolm Turnbull's job than securing jobs and growth for future generations.

But it is the politics of this budget that provide the most interest.

With Tony Abbott refusing to stay “dead, buried and cremated”, he continues sniping from beyond the political grave.

The interesting numbers in the 2017 budget are not the financials, but the factionals.

Has Turnbull done enough to ensure that talk of a Liberal leadership challenge dies down for the rest of the year?

It’s hard to tell, but given all the bad news in the budget, it is unlikely – barring any kind of miracle – that tonight’s budget will quieten internal speculation that Fizza will retire before the next election to allow a smooth transition.

The question is, who will be PM and who will be the Treasurer delivering the coalition’s pre-election budget in 12 months time.

Independent Australia will be will be live tweeting the budget tonight under the hashtag #Budget2017IA. Follow and feel free to join in!

The video interviews Dr Martin Hirst recorded today mentioned in the piece will be uploaded to the IA YouTube channel very soon. You can follow Doc Martin on Twitter @ethicalmartini.

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