Tony Abbott… Not my PM #1 – Budget 2014

TonyAbbotttees

This is a new mini-series which will articulate the areas/reasons why I believe Tony Abbott is destroying Australia and is thus an unsuitable Prime Minister:

  1. Federal budget 2014 (this article)
  2. Stop the Boats
  3. Repeal the Carbon Tax
  4. Higher Education Private Sector Unleashed
  5. International Diplomacy Fail

When Labor was voted out of government last year in September 2013, Australians inadvertently gave the keys to Kirribilli House to one Tony Abbott. Kirribilli House is the official residence of all Australian Prime Ministers, just as the White House represents not just the residence, but office of the US President.

Australian’s were quite clear that Labor did NOT deserve to continue governing the nation. However, as our elections are designed, we do NOT get to vote for issues, but people, personality and parties. Technically, we are even voting directly for who sits in the Office of Prime Minister, but only our respective local Member of Parliament (MP). Having empowered an individual to represent our electorate, those individuals then stand as members of the various political parties to decide their party leaders, and consequentially the leaders of government and nation.

Historically, I have voted Labor because, as a young person growing up during the 1980s and 1990s, the vision espoused and policies implemented to help develop Australia were found in Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, two politicians recognised for their legacy even today by both sides of politics. It was the clarity of leadership that also saw me drawn to the progressiveness of Jeff Kennett, who just happened to stand on the other side of politics in the Victorian Liberal Party. The rise and tenure of John Howard was one of love-hate on my part. In 1999, as part of my Year 12 English studies, I had chosen the issue of the republic. Need I say more as to why I do NOT support Howard? If you were not aware, John Howard allowed his personal monarchist views to bias and ultimately prevent the will of the Australian people from being articulated. Tony Abbott is to a certain extent, a repeat of John Howard. As part of this quick journey and review of our nations leaders through my eyes – Kevin Rudd in his early days was a breathe of fresh air, but his personality became a double-edged sword, which helped bring about Julia Gillard. The hung parliament/minority government positions were unfortunate circumstances under which we had our first ever female PM. However, the Rudd/Gillard years of Labor government did help the nation through some tough times and issues.

Which brings us now to Tony Abbott. Tony Abbott himself articulated his strategy as Opposition Leader in seeking to oppose everything about the then Labor Government. As former minister under the Howard Government, Abbott first served the Department for Employment & Workplace Relations, and then later for Health & Aged Care. His views have made him known as one of the most right-wing politicians within the Liberal Party which, like the Labor Party, tends to remain focused on the centre of the political spectrum.

Tony Abbott is a conviction-driven politician. You see it in the way he keeps pushing his two pet mantras – Stop the Boats! and Repeal the Carbon Tax! Both issues may have had popular support at one point domestically, but internationally, both policies make Australia appear parochial. A third policy which is a subset of the bigger string of Federal Budget cuts handed down by Joe Hockey is the changes to higher education funding and the whole unshackling of universities competing on the open and free market. A fourth reason for being against Tony Abbott as Prime Minister is his lack of diplomacy and boorish attitude he beings to the international political scene – his style and substance is highly inappropriate for engaging with our Asian neighbours.

Now, all these issues have each been featured fairly recently in the news for one reason or another. The Federal Budget as a whole was poorly delivered. Across the board, the budget cut funding from way too many areas of society – hurting the more vulnerable. Take the $7 increase to GP fees. As long as you remain healthy, you can rest assured that this fee won’t be hurting your hip pocket! But, if you do fall sick and require constant and regular visits to the doctor, too bad! It would not be enough that you are sick, but you will incur the additional $7 cost.

Pensioner payments are currently indexed, but under this budget, from 2017, that indexation will be reduced to the level of inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI). Subsidies currently paid out to the same pensioners may also be removed, with this change coming into effect from now / July, which will translate into higher utility bills. Further, the deficit levy of 2% tax on higher income earners also appears off target and does little to mollify concerns that the budget aims to be fairer to Australians as a whole.

If you are under the age of 30 and become unemployed, look out now – because those first six months of unemployment payments is set to be axed. How that is supposed to further motivate the young people and avoid the situation of unemployment is concerning, particularly when our society already suffers from less job opportunities. It becomes a double whammy when you consider higher education fees will be “uncapped”.

Another tax cut which will affect the entire economy is the increase to the fuel excise. Raising the price of fuel has flow on effects across the board – as the cost of transportation forces prices up on produce, consumers not just pay slightly more to go shopping, but pay the higher prices. Let us not forget the double tax effect – where a higher fuel excise also means more GST collected, even if it is 10% of a slight increase…

The justification and selling of the Federal Budget has been quite poorly delivered. It was only in the weeks leading up to its scheduled May release that the Government started to push a message that Australia was in a budget crisis, which necessitated the need for upcoming brutal cuts. When the budget was eventually delivered, the cuts were present but were clearly unequal and biased, targeting policy areas, wholesale abolishment of non-government organisations, plus all the above-stated cuts. The unpopularity of the budget has been unprecedented – various movements and protests have been unleashed by different sections of the community:

Never before, have Australians been this vocal about a Federal Budget handed down. Fortunately, Labor and the Greens have succeeded thus far in stalling Senate approval of the budget bills. Along the way, with the new Senate formation bringing in 8 independent/cross benchers, further compromises have been secured, reducing the budget cuts by some $20B. Unfortunately, thus far, whilst the Clive Palmer/Palmer United Party (PUP) has rattled the Government by their recent Senate dramas of initially NOT repealing the Carbon Tax, it would appear that Thursday 17 July is the next test of ALL Senators, given some from within the Government party are uncomfortable with the negotiations and compromises agreed and required to secure the cross bench.

Tony Abbott repeated claims that the new Senators were elected, like his government, to approve the budget bills, amongst the other series of legislation – stopping the boats and repealing the carbon tax. However, given the consistent polling results that have been published since the release of the budget, the current will of the people would indicate we do NOT approve of this budget, or any of these key policies anymore.

ABC’s Fact Check website offers a lot of good research on various claims made by both the Government and Opposition. Their meticulous and unbiased research helps to highlight a number of claims thrown about somewhat carelessly by all politicians. However, Tony Abbott has brought about a lot of the criticism levelled against him, particularly in the lead up to the 2013 Election by claiming not to legislate any new taxes. Tony Abbott’s claims, including this one, have tended to be rather outrageous to the point on unbelievable. I group this along with his other now spurious claims such as “This will be a Government of no surprises”… Who seriously believed Abbott when he made that claim? Of course, whilst that was a pie-crust promise, easily made and easily broken, we can still hold him to it since he tried to get away with it in the first place. So, who is really to blame – Tony Abbott for thinking he could get away with such an audacious claim, or us the voting public for actually voting him into power?

Next stop – the boats!

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