I love the federal budget. And I’m unapologetic about it.
But there is one part of budget week that annoys me no end: the winners and losers commentary.
Now, the federal budget is really just the household budget for the nation. We estimate our receipts for the year and divvy it out to pay for the need-to-haves, and hopefully, a few nice-to-haves. The focus of the federal budget should be the health and prosperity of the nation. It is about all of us.
It’s not so long ago that our economy was wrapped in cottonwool to nurse it through the height of the COVID19 shutdown. The 2020 budget was designed to minimize unemployment and put a rocket up the business sector to get the wheels of the economy turning again. This year, the budget has been designed to keep that recovery going with added support for jobs growth. Essentially, if we help the economy recover, that rise in tide will lift all boats.
And you’d think that after the rollercoaster that was 2020, the soufflé of whine would’ve subsided. That people would’ve gained a bit of perspective.
The federal budget continues to be treated like a candy shop with various groups expecting the government to move them from the ‘losers’ side of the ledger into the ‘winners’ side. For some vulnerable Australians, government assistance will make a material and genuine positive impact on their lives. We must look after those people. But for most people, their financial betterment should depend on their own financial and lifestyle choices. They shouldn’t be looking to the government for some extra pocket money because they fall into this group or that group.
And what is the effect of that?
Well, the winners/losers commentary pits various groups of Australians against each other in the colosseum of entitlement. Homeowners v first home buyers, pensioners v self-funded retirees, businesses v employees, and of course, the perennial men v women. The related commentary is the lovechild of intellectual laziness and class warfare — and, yet again, identity politics.
The waft around this year’s budget being a ‘pink budget’ is particularly infantile. It is so dismissive of those women who run businesses, take up apprenticeships and who don’t view their life and work solely through the prism of gender. It tells women that there is a little fluffy pink book of budget measures for them and the big book with the big business is for the boys. The reality is, a budget measure doesn’t need to come with a perfume sample for it to be ‘for’ women.
We should look at the budget as being for the benefit of the nation, not for its various squeaky wheels. The fact we live in Australia means we’ve landed with our arse in the butter. We are all winners. And our principal budgetary concern should be that our most vulnerable Australians are cared for.
The rest of us should get about our business without expecting the government to sprinkle sherbet on our finances.
Caroline Di Russo is a lawyer, businesswomen and unrepentant nerd.
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