Well, it is the day after the budget was released and I thought it appropriate to share some thoughts with everyone. I actually believe that my thoughts would be best summed up by an experience at the airport yesterday. I was in Brisbane waiting for my flight to Perth and there were two televisions operating – one was screening Parliament Question Time and one was screening Days of Our Lives (I was actually quite shocked to see that Bo Brady was still alive). It was the day of the budget and I felt certain that people would be very interested by what was being said by our Prime Minister and Treasurer, however there was a bigger crowd watching good old Days of Our Lives. Sadly, I just don’t think people really cared that much to be honest.
So, what did the budget deliver for us all? The government has outlined a comprehensive dental health plan, coupled with a long overdue disability care plan. This is probably where Mr Swan scored his biggest points of the budget. Harvey Norman will be happy again following the means tested cash injections for children at primary and high school. However, the biggest question was always going to be how they paid for these policies while also taking $17bn out of the economy? So, the losers include:
• High income earners who contribute additional funds to their superannuation will be taxed at 30% as opposed to 15%.
• The annual defence budget was slashed by approximately $5bn
• Foreign aid commitments were wound back by $2.9bn
• The previous commitment of a 1% cut to company tax was cut and the rate will stay as it presently stands.
The budget was proclaimed as a budget that aligned the government to its base and looked after the “battlers”. Mr Swan drew an ideological line in the sand and continued his mantra of class segregation.
However, one must ask, will these measures really look after the “battlers” in the long term? The feeling in Western Australia is that they
have most certainly been ignored. The local paper was scathing this morning about the “Robin Hood” nature of the budget and one of my team members summed it up this morning when he said that he felt as though Western Australia is propping up the Eastern States. My greatest question is around the issue of employment; namely, what incentive is there for people to provide employment opportunities for Australians. The winding back of the previous commitment to company tax cuts is disappointing and the lack of foresight to tackle issues such as payroll tax (albeit a state tax) and labour shortages in certain markets. To me, some of these measures have been counter productive.
The Opposition gets its chance to respond to the budget in the next day or two. I would expect the response to be short on policy and large on rhetoric as all opposition responses tend to be. The only certainty is that by the end of the week, the budget will be forgotten and the focus will be on Craig Thompson, Peter Slipper, leadership issues and everything that is not relevant to successful government and leadership. If only our political leaders could get their acts together and work to put in place the policies and procedures to provide certainty and prosperity for all, it would be a lot more conducive for us all to conduct business.
Brad McMahon – Managing Director