One of the two parties prepared to devastate economy for ludicrous “surplus” promise, reneges

Shame, Labor, shame. So after years of following the Liberals’ asinine lead, against the advice of pretty much every economist, and sacrificing jobs and growth at the altar of the hallowed budget “surplus” – you’ve now realised that it’s so bad an idea, and the consequences of maintaining this obsession so obviously serious, that you are finally pulling back from it.

Well, better late than never, I suppose.

And at least you’ve finally realised how stupid the attempt was, unlike your opponents in the Liberal party who still like to pretend there was no Global Financial Crisis but who want to be taken seriously (yes, such brilliant economic managers that apparently they didn’t notice the most significant phenomenon to hit the world’s economy in the last thirty years – imagine where we’d be if they’d been in charge).

At least you’ve recognised that it’s idiotic to consider yourself bound to an economic goal several years later when changed circumstances clearly require revision, and make destroying the country in order to “keep your promise” about the least responsible thing you could do.

But now you’ve given up the stupid attempt, could you please also wind back the devastating attacks on the poor and vulnerable that you attempted to justify on the basis of it? The PM concedes that Newstart is below subsistence. You’ve slashed funding of chemotherapy. Taking money from aid to fund paying prison guards to lock up refugees on hot, remote islands is adding insult to injury.

I look forward to the media calling you out on this. I look forward to the editorials slamming you for making the irresponsible promise in the first place, and calling on the Opposition to abandon their reckless obsession and contribute rationally to economic debate in this country. I look forward to their re-examining your most destructive cuts and asking each Labor minister how on Earth they can justify them now that the fig leaf of “protecting the surplus” has disappeared.

Yeah, I know. That’s not not what we’re going to get at all. What we’re going to get is nothing more than the repetition of the Liberals’ ridiculous “a broken promise is a lie” primary-school level political “debate”. No analysis of whether it was actually in the interests of any of us to keep it. No persistence in questioning just exactly what the Liberals would be slashing to keep a surplus if they were in government, as they keep telling us they should be.

There will be no analysis of the merits of a surplus at this time. Just endless back and forth on the “political implications”, by which they mean whether it will enable them to pretend the Liberals have actually won something, and just how important that “victory” will be to voters.

No wonder you made the idiotic pledge in the first place. No wonder you held onto it for so long, long after reason would have suggested abandoning it.

But the incompetent national political media aren’t going to change. At least, for a brief moment, you have. A little. Back towards the realm of sanity and responsible government. Here’s hoping you take the next step.

12 responses to “One of the two parties prepared to devastate economy for ludicrous “surplus” promise, reneges

  1. Pingback: so no suplus...good or bad?

  2. Wisdom Like Silence

    Hockey is balking at the idea of promising a surplus. Maybe they are all starting to get it?

  3. I KNEW Jeremy wouldn’t be able to resist responding to the news.

    Just like waving a raw steak in front of a tiger.

  4. narcoticmusing

    Well said J. We will get sound bites from LibCo reported as fact. There will be no analysis or questions asked of the impact of cuts. How do we know that? Because there haven’t been so far. No question on the impact of the current cuts. No questions when a program has been ‘offset’ what was it offset with? Which program ceased to fund the program it was to offset? When funding was reprioritised, no question of ‘reprioritised from what?’ No analysis of which had more merit or which was just a political farce.

    imagine where we’d be if they’d been in charge
    Around the same point as Victoria, who, on its momentum alone would have grown year on year if the Govt did nothing but maintain the place. Instead, Victoria has contracted year on year due to unnecessary austerity measures which – WOW OMG WHAT A SHOCK – reduced revenue. We’ve also had one of the fastest growth in debt in decades, yet, what the hell it is spent on no one knows – certainly not services. Certainly not capital.

    Their solution to reduced revenue due to spending cuts? MORE CUTS! Clearly what has not worked and has caused the state to contract in an unprecedented fashion has its solution in simply repeating the same austerity cuts but more severely!

  5. Did anyone see the OP sqawking on about it on the telly this morning?

  6. Wisdom Like Silence

    e-cigarettes? Your fan base is expanding to new and exciting areas Jeremy!

  7. Is that some WordPress ad? I can’t see them. And I get no revenue from them.

  8. A strongly pursued counter-cyclical fiscal policy is not ludicrous, but is in fact one of the main reasons Australia is doing so well relative to other developed nations. There’s no doubt the Federal government overcommitted to this particular surplus, but that’s macro-economically a far better “mistake” to have made – a small temporary hit to growth – than the converse one advocated by deficit doves “oh don’t fetishise surpluses, the debt is just a number anyway, structural deficits never hurt anyone!*”

    The government made some good cuts – military spending in the face of U.S. complaints come particularly to mind – and some cuts I wouldn’t have countenanced myself, like the single parent payment. But the actual decision to make cuts of some sort, the imperative to attempt to bring the budget back into surplus while the economy is doing well, was absolutely the right one; especially in light of the planned upcoming massive increases to recurrent spending, Gonski and NDIS, that everyone agrees are essential.

    The Liberals “all deficits are evil” line is a bit over the top and irresponsible, in the manner of most partisan point scoring. But its far more sane in economic policy terms than the response of the Greens, who seem to be arguing that now that the unlikelihood of the surplus has been acknowledged, since all deficits are basically the same lets go and spend (tens of?) billions more financed by borrowing. Ludicrous! Cover dental on Medicare, build high-speed rail, invest more in education, finance more scientific research, these are all great ideas; but you fund them by making cuts to other programs or by raising taxes, not by forwarding the bill to some future government with a heavily aged population and all that implies for both costs and revenues. Honestly.

    And if you don’t believe an arch conservative like me, just ask Ross Gittins.


    * Except, you know, the crippling damage to the U.S., Japan, most of Europe, well the vast majority of the industrialised world actually.

  9. Looks like I had some malformed HTML (honestly wordpress? is basic rich text editing, or even something like Markdown, or failing all that comment previews, that much to ask?)

    The link is:

  10. narcoticmusing

    Although Jordan, in this current environment, money is pretty much free so this is exactly the time to stimulate an economy and borrow. Gaining a surplus with rates so low is as irresponsible as reckless expenditure, possibly more so when we have massive cuts to revenue due to cuts that create diminished returns. To pretend the system doesn’t have feedback loops – such as cutting basic welfare type mechanisms – is going to come back on you.

    I would also say that if the Government is going to cut funding it should be required to disclose exactly what it is not funding. Which portfolios are taking the burden of the cuts? I’m sick of the Budget Papers having, in a separate paper from the service delivery set, a massive wad of ‘administrative adjustments’ that are actually billions in savings without any disclosure where they are. It is farcical and designed to hide what they are actually doing.

  11. Wisdom Like Silence

    you got pingback Jez, not ad’s.

  12. You said “imagine where we’d be if they’d been in charge” I tried to imagine that:

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