With the September Federal election looming, both Labor and the Coalition are expected to use every political weapon in their arsenal, aimed at capturing every possible vote. Undoubtedly some of the most lethal are fiscal policies offering the highest possible marginal political benefit. Already, treasurer Wayne Swan’s decision to rescind the long held promise of a budget surplus has captured headlines in almost every major print newspaper in Australia. In contrast, the Coalition remains loyal to a surplus even though the budget’s automatic stabilisers are dragging it into a deficit. Juxtaposing these two budgetary stances, it is important to ask: which of the two is the better policy?
I have written previously on inequality and gender relations in the Australian economy and, in light of ESSA’s upcoming Q&A, I thought I would put an immigration and two-speed economy spin on the topic.
There has been considerable dialogue on whether the two-speed economy is causing inequality – between the east coast and the west, between mining and manufacturing and retail, between the super rich and ‘the rest’.
It’s Budget time! On Tuesday May 8th, Treasurer Wayne Swan handed down his fifth budget to an eager and expectant crowd of media commentators following a significant lead-up of leaks and speculation. This crowd has since devoured the budget’s contents and embarked upon a reporting frenzy that has been nothing short of what’s expected. There has been tremendous coverage on the politics of this Budget, with the Government accused of playing the class warfare card to appeal to traditional Labor supporters.
There will be a lot of people tuning into Wayne Swan’s budget speech on Tuesday night, and not just from within Australia. Provided that the Treasurer delivers a much-hyped budget surplus (despite a softening in tax revenues due to the global slowdown), he will be able to claim that Australia is one of the first developed economies around the world to emerge from the threat of the Global Financial Crisis.
What is the Budget?
The Budget is the Government’s annual financial report. It outlines planned expenditure, and comprises the Treasurer’s speech, the main appropriation bills allowing the allocated spending of public money and other legislation to bring about financial proposals in the Budget Speech.
Treasurer Wayne Swan has promised a surplus in this year’s federal budget, fulfilling a pledge he made two years ago when growth forecasts favoured a 2012-13 surplus.
Wayne Swan’s essay in The Monthly titled ‘The 0.01 Per Cent: The Rising Influence of Vested Interests in Australia’ has caused quite a stir in the last few weeks. Swan laments the rising influence of wealthy vested interests in Australia’s public policy debate, and warns of it undermining our equality and democracy. These are strong, politically-potent words from Australia’s Treasurer, and have brought interesting reactions from the opposition, the media, the mining industry magnates he attacked, and the general public.