Whatever else one can say about tonight’s federal Budget, at least Josh Frydenberg has held the line firm against the utopian idiocy of the high tax brigade (or as they’d call themselves, friends of fair social spending).
There’s been a powerful force in Australian politics gathered around Morry Schwartz’s publications, The Guardian, The Australia Institute, the ABC (of course), the welfare lobby, the Greens and the sillier sectors of the ALP and its affiliated think (or maybe want) tanks ever since the GFC, Thomas Piketty’s celebrity and the rise of Bernie Sanders and his handmaidens, AOC and The Squad that have put their delusions very publicly on display: greater incentives not to work are our path to prosperity.
This mob thought their time had come with the increase in unemployment benefits that came with the introduction of the JobSeeker allowance to battle the immediate impact of coronavirus earlier this year.
Already the impact is clear. Increased welfare has meant the un and underemployed haven’t taken up jobs, delaying our recovery. They haven’t left their sofas. They haven’t been prepared to travel to tourist towns, let alone agricultural areas where fruit and vegetable crops need harvesting.
Tonight, Josh Frydenberg didn’t give them their marching orders. There was nothing like Thatcher minister Norman Tebbit’s famous “on your bike” line. Indeed, there was nothing really specific in the way of orders.
Instead, there was a simple recognition of reality — that it’s unfair to pay people to sit on their arses; unfair on the people who fund their bludging and ultimately unfair on the people who lap up the welfare but remain marginalised from mainstream Australia and all the personal, mental and financial benefits gainful employment brings.
Millionaire Morry’s The Monthly has already pulled out the onion. Its Budget bleatings opened “Dashing faint hopes of a permanent increase to income support for welfare recipients, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has budgeted to force some 2.2 million Australians currently receiving the coronavirus supplement ($250 per fortnight) back below the poverty line just a week after Christmas.” Cue scenes of Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol, the Little Match Girl and orphans in the snow.
Tonight’s Budget was an unprecedented economic statement for any party to make.
It’s to both the Prime Minister’s and Treasurer’s credit that their new normal remains rooted in the real world.
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