14 May 2015
by John Passant

The bullsh*t Budget

‘Have a go.’ This is the mantra of the Abbott government in response to Tuesday night’s Budget.
They forgot to add the final two words of this famous Australian sporting epithet. ‘Have a go, ya mug’ is what they really mean. Mugs are what they are taking us for.

The Budget is anything but beige. There are a long list of losers. These include many women workers covered by employer paid parental leave schemes, home mums and their families, families receiving Family Tax Benefit Benefit B with kids 6 or older, Universities and their staff and students, Aboriginies, the health system with $2 bn in cuts now and in 2018, along with education, $80 bn in cuts. Here is a list complied by Peter Boyle from Green Left Weekly of some of the cuts in Abbott-Hockey’s ‘nice’ Budget 2015.

This list is incomplete and more and more cuts (for example to the Arts) will come to light as time goes on.

Make no mistake. This is a budget that gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It takes away from the working class and the poor to give to other groups in the working class a bit, but also to small business and the rich and even to big business.

The subterfuge continues in what the government won’t do – attack the massive but disguised spending on the rich through tax concessions. For example the Murray report into Australia’s Financial System highlights the $15 bn going to the top 20% of income earners through superannuation tax reductions and exemptions. This graph captures the reality of these tax grants to the rich.

Chart 6: Share of total superannuation tax concessions by income decile

Or take negative gearing, another area along with superannuation the Abbott government has ruled out doing anything. How gets the most benefits from negative gearing? This graph is from the Australia Institute via the New Daily.

Malcolm Turnbull's constituents gain the most from negative gearing. Source: The Australia Institute.

No doubt you are as shocked as I am that the main beneficiaries of negative gearing appear to be rich people, and not just rich people but rich people in senior Liberal Party member seats. Of course, that wouldn’t explain the government’s inaction. Not at all.

The government’s guesses for future economic growth look – what is a nice word I can use? – ‘optimistic’. In 2015/16 the Budget estimates that GDP will grow by 2.75% and in 2016/17 by 3.25%. If you believe this I have a nice little bridge in Sydney I’d like to sell you.

Their revenue projections look like mad hatter jabberings (or should that be jabberwockerings?).

The figures and predictions for total tax receipt growth are 3.7% in 2013-14, 3.9% in 2014-15, then skyrocketing to 5.3% in 2015-16 and a massive 7.1% in 2016-17. Bracket creep of course will bring in some extra money from the working class but with only small wage increases and the end of the mining boom the trends for revenue collections should point at best to modest increases. To throw the hackneyed cry of conservatives down the ages back in their faces, where’s this money coming from?

These sorts of figures are designed to give the impression that in the medium term Abbott and co will return the Budget to surplus. The government is lying to us because it is trapped by its fake Budget emergency rhetoric of the past.

There is no government Budget emergency, now or into the foreseeable future. The Budget black hole bullshit was and is cover for austerity, basically attacks on the working class and poor to further the shift on national income from labour to capital.

While Australia has a private (personal and business) debt problem, the government’s program of immediate write offs for small business expenditure up to $20,000 will only worsen that. The banks are gearing up for a spending bonanza, as are local business suppliers and retailers.

This Keynesian neoliberalism won’t address the fundamental problem of Australian capitalism, the decline in profit rates since about 2011.

It may create a demand bubble for a while but one which doesn’t restore profit rates.

Other ‘solutions’, solutions which are already under way, include lengthening the working day – Australian workers already work long hours, on average 43 hours a week, with up to $110 bn in unpaid overtime – cutting real and even nominal wage and ‘refocussing’ spending on social welfare and services while increasing spending on the strong state (defence, border ‘protection’, spies, surveillance).

The biggie of course is a crisis in which a lot of capital goes to the wall, but perhaps the too big to fail syndrome will prevent that from happening, ensuring that the next crisis will be even deeper and fall even more heavily on workers and the poor.

The Budget shows the government is treating us like mugs. The next time Abbott or Hockey tell us to have a go, our response should be ‘you have to go, ya mugs.’