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Byron Shire
May 23, 2022

Thus Spake Mungo: Fizzler with little new budget sausage 

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The election is almost here. Hooray. It’s time we got down with Elvis Presley’s suggestion of ‘A little less conversation, a little more action, please.’ I’m a big fan of action. I’ve been at this for 14 months, and as a writer who holds the ear of the community each week I’ve been cognizant not to turn this into a hostage situation. For twenty years I’ve talked about politics and social issues and shared insights into my personal experiences, but this is one journey where I’ve had to keep you locked out. 

A somewhat exasperated Bill Shorten accuses Scott Morrison of playing games over the election date – and so he is.

But why not? He has very little else to play games about. The decision for an election is one of the very few things the prime minister can control – it is the one issue on which his authority is unquestioned.

So when you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Of course this can be seen as mean, tricky, cynical, opportunist – but that is part of the ScoMo brand. It’s a bit too late to complain about it now.

And talking of things that have missed the boat – the one so many of his former colleagues are jumping off –  the last-chance budget can hardly be called visionary and inspiring, a rousing call to arms to a desperate party.

Instead we got another promise of a surplus next year, much in the manner of the regular pronouncements of Wayne Swan, the usual beefing up of tax cuts for potential swinging voters with heaps more to come for the party’s real constituents, immense quantities of pork barrelled out to vulnerable coalition seats and a paean of wistful nostalgia for the great Liberal days of the past, the ones before the current government arrived.

Very little sizzle and almost no new sausage, essentially an exercise in self-congratulation and spin. The regular repetition of the mantra “with no new taxes” was particularly touching, with the follow up that the coaliton’s taxes will always be lower than Labor’s.

In fact, ScoMo’s take is considerably higher than Labor’s ever was, but that’s the budget for you – and that’s our marketeer, embarking on the campaign of his life, the one he was born for.

Almost all my treatment was in public hospitals, and bloody good they are, but there are still plenty of extra expenses

Bill Shorten’s reply did not set the place ablaze either, but at least he had something to say about the future, and a big announcement on cancer. The government’s response was that it already had the situation under control, but as a sufferer of the disease for more than five years and counting, I can assure them that there is plenty of room for improvement. Almost all my treatment was in public hospitals, and bloody good they are, but there are still plenty of extra expenses; Shorten’s proposal will be warmly applauded, and already has been.

But of course the nay-sayers of News Limited will have none of that reckless, economy-wrecking spending and Morrison should stop pussy-footing around and just get kicking and gouging. One of the most rabid, Chris Kenny, says that Morrison’s failure to double down on his rightwing base has meant that the coalition’s vote has been eroded by extreme-right splinter groups like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Clive Palmer’s Australia Party, and Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives – he could have added the clique of commentators in the Murdoch media.

To respond to the threat, Kenny  demands more negativity, more aggro, more Peter Dutton from Morrison, who, he laments, has simply followed the namby-pamby script devised by the hated Malcolm Turnbull in the 2016 campaign. Kenny has apparently not been listening for the last couple of weeks, when Morrison has done little else than scream brutal personal abuse about Bill Shorten’s lies and taxes. And if Kenny hasn’t been listening, you can bet not many other people have either.

The constant repetition of  ‘Labor’s  $200 billion worth of new taxes’ starts with the use of pretty rubbery figures

But ScoMo’s slogan is based on a lie of its own – or at least a severe bending of the truth. The constant repetition of  ‘Labor’s  $200 billion worth of new taxes’ starts with the use of pretty rubbery figures – even the Liberals’ own website, hardly the most objective source, struggles to ramp up the total, adding in the purely mythical assumption that Labor’s climate-change policy would require unspecified billions in new tax.

But the three-word slogan masks the fact that most of them are not new taxes at all. The vast majority – the abolition of  negative gearing for new investment properties, the reduction of exemptions for capital gains tax, the ending of tax refunds for those who did not pay the tax in the first place – are in fact restoring old taxes that had been distorted by concessions used overwhelmingly by the rich as a method of tax avoidance.

Then there is the rejection of the coalition’s plans to reduce some of the pie-in-the-sky tax cuts for the higher income brackets. And most absurdly the continuation – not the initiation – of the coalition’s own deficit levy for top earners. The tweaking of old superannuation can be stretched as a new tax, but the only measure that really stands up to ScoMo’s fantasy horror story is a new tax on some family trusts.

And in any case it needs to be emphasised that whatever the status of the $200 billion, it is not proposed for next year, but cumulative over the next decade – meaning that much of it may or not happen, just like Morrison’s second-and third-tier tax cuts, the ones that even the sainted Peter Costello regards as too far into the never-never to be credible.

But most importantly, when Morrison rails about Shorten raiding the pockets of hard-working Australians, it is simply not true

But most importantly, when Morrison rails about Shorten raiding the pockets of hard-working Australians, it is simply not true – few if any of Shorten’s prescriptions will affect the vast bulk of the population because they are targeted at well-off punters looking for tax advantages and believing they are entitled to them – the ones Joe Hockey used to call leaners, not lifters.

The PM’s office and their Murdoch minions have diligently unearthed a few disgruntled nurses, school teachers, and firefighters as well as a crop of long-term Liberal apparatchiks to bolster the case that Shorten is attacking the battlers, but the only battle most of them are worried about is their battle to maintain their lurks and perks. Class warfare, splutters The Australian – well perhaps, but the billionaire American investor Warren Buffet summed it up best when he said that, yes, there is a class war and his class is winning. Most of what Shorten is doing is simply trying to redress the balance.

So there will have to be yet another last chance – indeed, the  conservative fantasists will no doubt go in insisting that there is still a last chance until about 5.55pm on election day.

But even they are sick of ScoMo’s shilly-shallying. They just want to get it over with. And don’t we all.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. PM Scott Morrison holds the stakes in a monopoly withholding the date of the election while Bill Shorten tells him to throw the dice and reveal the number of the day.

  2. Beautifully put Mungo. The Giddy Aunt reckons
    a shilly-shalling ScoMo dreaming of the perks
    that lurk within the ‘class warfare’ is close to
    a re-write of ‘does your chewing-gum lose its
    flavour on the bedpost over night’ sung by the
    anon One Nation choir.

  3. Remember when Prime Minister Gillard announced the election date months prior to the election, so that there would be one less topic for the seemingly out of control vicious media, to relentlessly stalking and attacking her over, refusing to give her even a moment of clear air?
    There was a real Prime Minister, not this “Bogan with a Slogan”, the ad man Morrison.
    The man is without doubt the worst PM since federation! Wasting millions of “YOUR” dollars on ads no one is even looking at or has the slightest interest in!
    We could have had a new Hospital built and finished in Tweed Heads years ago with the money the LNP has wasted on these ads. How many people have died because of loss of health funding by the LNP?
    Word is there are some 2000 “Questionable” deaths associated with the LNP’s punative “Robo-debt” collection program, that no one is allowing to be repeated in the media either?

  4. Well said, Tweed: “Bogan with a Slogan”. The most offensive “mother of a waste” of our taxpayer money is the opening and closing of Christmas Island, in the blink of an eye, on the whim-of-a-scare of what hasn’t eventuated !

    I say: SloMo GO MO !

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