Sarah Gall: A plummeting budget shows Australian work hasn’t changed its high spending habits

Sarah Gall is Political Data Specialist and Membership Secretary for Conservative Friends of Australia in the UK. She previously led policy and strategy research for the Australian Prime Minister.

Last week, the Australian Treasurer (the equivalent of the Chancellor of the Exchequer) presented Labor’s first federal budget since taking office.

To say he descended like a plummet would be an understatement. Almost half of the voters think they will be worse off next year, just over half think the budget has not done enough to address cost of living pressures, and only three in ten think it will be good for the economy – the lowest level for any saved budget.

So where did the newly elected Labor government go so terribly wrong?

To use Anthony Albanese’s own line of attack when he was Leader of the Opposition, “everything increases except wages”. Cost of living, energy bills, interest rates, unemployment, taxes, debt and deficit. The first Labor budget was an outline of problems without solutions.

This despite the Prime Minister telling voters during the election campaign that Labor was the party with a plan to ease cost of living pressures, create jobs and raise real wages again.

It was also the party promised cut Australians’ electricity bills by $275 a year; a now broken promise that the opposition seized on, reminding voters of the 97 occasions Albanese promised to cut their electricity bills.

Voters have been deceived and they should be angry. According to the government’s own forecast, electricity bills will rise by more than 56% over the next two years – up to 80% in some parts of the country – and gas prices are expected to rise by 44%. Moreover, he foresees an increase in inflation, which will continue to weigh on household budgets.

Although the government is not responsible for the rising level of inflation, it is responsible for the response.

In this budget, the Labor Party has reshuffled the cards by redirecting the spending commitments of the previous government to fund its own election promises. That means it’s good news for parents with children who will benefit from generous grants, but bad news for anyone hoping to receive relief.

However, the biggest problem is that around half of Labor’s spending will be on aged care, health, disability support and, of course, interest on the public debt. . While these are laudable causes, medium-term projections show that Labor’s economic management – ​​or lack thereof – will ensure that there is no return to surplus and that there will be no there will be no responsible approach to reducing debt.

This despite the fact that the government inherited a better-than-expected budget outcome from the Coalition, providing an additional $54.4 billion in tax revenue, largely due to higher-than-expected commodity prices and strong job growth.

With an aging population, a forecast that the commodity price boom is only temporary and unemployment will start to rise, Labor finds itself with a structural budget deficit. That is of course unless they cut spending elsewhere or raise taxes.

Neither of these two electoral options is good given the already poor reception of this budget which was considered the second worst budget since Tony Abbott’s austerity budget in 2014-15 after the Coalition returned to power. in 2013.

Fortunately for Labor they are still well ahead in the polls as voters have yet to reconcile with the opposition. However, that may be starting to change as Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has used his budget speech in response to restore Conservative values ​​and demonstrate that the Coalition is the party to ensure a strong recovery.

What Labor has shown is that it has not changed since its days of reckless spending when it was last in power between 2007 and 2013. The government is continuing the general trend that sees Labor using his time in government like a wrecking ball with no accountability budget, racking up public debt.

This then leaves the Coalition to use its time in government to make unpopular and tough choices to get the budget back on track to pay off Labor’s debt.

This budget confirms The first 100 days of work in power, in that it continues to do nothing to respond to cost-of-living pressures and to focus only on the superficial. This is proof that this is the same old Labor Party that does not know how to manage money and does indeed have a spending problem.

The problem with this is that the election cycle gives Labor enough time to cause massive damage to the economy, leaving Australians worse off.