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Terry McCrann: Early election ~ around March?

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"The intention would be to fiddle again. --Or, to grab the opportunity for an early election, around March, if the vicious smear campaign against Tony Abbott was paying sufficient dividends."

 

Mini-budget captures emptiness of the Gillard Government, writes Terry McCrann

 
 

Mini budget a thimble and pea trick

Business commentator Terry McCrann says savings in the Government's mini-budget target big business and middle income earners

 
 
 
 
 
 
0:00 / 3:27

WAYNE Swan's first four budgets were all deep in deficit. Those deficits added to a 

WAYNE Swan's first four budgets were all deep in deficit. Those deficits added to a thumping $173 billion.

Now he promises, he really really promises, to have the next four budgets, including this year's, all in surplus. Even if he delivered - he won't - the surpluses would add to all of just $13 billion.

That's to say, the eight Swan budgets - if we had the great misfortune to ever have to live through them - would still have delivered a total deficit of $160 billion.

This mid-year update perfectly captures the complete and utter emptiness of this Gillard-Swan government.

Everything it does is entirely and always political. Here, it's a desperate series of cascading fiddles to cling to the pretence that it will finally deliver a surplus.

An utterly ridiculous, totally contrived, simply unbelievable and in any event frankly quite pathetic $1.1 billion surplus in a budget of $370 billion.

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This is a government that is completely incapable of making any tough or substantive fiscal policy decisions.

Aside from, outside the narrow fiscal arena, the punishing and pointless carbon tax and the wasteful and likely obsolescent national broadband network.

The one thing it 'decides' is to kick the fiscal can further down the road, in the hope that something, anything, will turn up. Even if it's only further fiscal, can-kicking fiddles.

This process started in the mid-year update a year ago, when it fiddled the numbers sufficiently to 'forecast' a miraculous swing from an emerging huge deficit in 2011-12 to the mythical $1.5 billion surplus figure for the then-coming 2012-13 year.

That kicked the can to May, when it had to fiddle further to still manage to keep that surplus 'forecast.'

That though succeeded in kicking the can down to yesterday. But more fiddles were required, to maintain the pretence of a yet smaller surplus of $1.1 billion; and the can kicked down the road to next May.

The intention would be to fiddle again. Or, to grab the opportunity for an early election, around March, if the vicious smear campaign against Tony Abbott was paying sufficient dividends.

Back in May, I wrote that Swan's fiscal exercise was not a horror budget. Nor even a mildly scary one.

The May budget which was supposedly to slash and burn its way to surplus, actually initiated new spending that added up to $22 billion over five years.

So again yesterday. Swan proudly trumpeted 'savings' of $16 billion over four years. Pity about the $6 billion of new spending that reduced the effectiveness to just $10 billion over four years.

And of that, an extraordinary $8.3 billion - 80 per cent of the net so-called savings - came from the company tax pea-and-thimble trick.

But a pea-and-thimble trick which will actually impose serious pain on corporate Australia.

And do its greatest damage, precisely when the investment in the resources sector has peaked and could be falling sharply.

By moving corporate tax payments from a quarterly to a monthly system, the budget achieves a permanent once-off pull forward of tax payments.

The biggest impact, adding $5.5 billion to revenue, is in the 2013-14 year. Without it, the budget would have slid back into deficit in that year, to the tune of $3.3 billion.

That's of course, using the fantasy figures in yesterday's document.

Yes, it only brings forward tax payments that would still have been paid. But the impact on corporate cash flows remains real.

And over the next few years it is intended to hit companies with revenues of as little as $20 million a year. Essentially, everyone.

The real indicator of just how fraudulent the document is, is the one that shouted the fiscal fraud in May. Swan wants you to believe the unbelievable. That government spending will miraculously fall this year, only to resume rising, by $30 billion next year, and by $20 billion in each of the subsequent years. The real answer is that spending was pulled forward into the 2011-12 year with its huge deficit, and pushed back into the 2013-14 year. The surplus 'forecast' for this year, is a total confection.

And that's before dealing with the heroically optimistic treasury forecasts which underwrite the buoyant budget numbers.

Who knows whether they'll be even close. The one thing that can be said with absolute confidence about these and every budget, is the actual numbers for both the budget and the economy will be very different, when they finally surface next September.

 
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  • doyla66
    doyla66 Tuesday, 23 October 2012

    The real tragedy of Australian Politics is that the Labor Party has all the ideas and the Coalition has all the fiscal skills. The best of both would produce good, steady a-political government, greater efficiency and a fair and progressive Australia. Far too much time and (our) money is wasted in political point scoring and personal ambition. It's puerile and it reduces our parliament to a circus. They set a poor example to so many others.
    On with the job and clean up Australian Politics in the national interest.

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