amateur hour .....
from politicoz ….
After more than a fortnight of fury from the electorate, prime minister Tony Abbott last night found a friendly audience at the annual Minerals Council of Australia dinner. The mining industry is one of the few groups to have benefited from the May 13 budget, so it's perhaps unsurprising that BHP Billiton's CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, agrees that the budget is "fair".
But Abbott's speech, which focussed on the proposed $7 GP co-payment, seemed merely to highlight the government's hopelessly mixed budget messages. He argued that the co-payment is necessary to "send a price signal" just one day after rejecting the idea that it would deter anybody from seeing a doctor. He argued its policy merits by comparing it with the PBS co-payment, ignoring the fact that it breaks his pre-election pledge that voters should expect neither taxes nor surprises. He confirmed that the co-payment was a necessary saving, despite the fact that most of it is to go to the creation of a new fund for medical research. And the speech came just days after Abbott incorrectly explained the policy's detail on radio. Similar confusion is repeated across the policy spectrum.
Voters are increasingly unimpressed by the amateur politics on show.
That Abbott's speech was received well by its audience, however, emphasises what seems to be a deep disagreement running through the body politic. Business groups applaud the budget's necessary "toughness", pointing to big problems with Australian debt, wages and productivity. But evidence shows that debt is relatively low, wages growth has almost flatlined, and productivity is relatively high.
Even if the case can be made for the need for a fiscal fix in the longer term, the question remains: why are the poorest hit hardest while concessions to the wealthy go relatively untouched?
No wonder Coalition MPs are finding the "budget sell" difficult.