15 May 2014

Budget: The voter's digest

Viewed as a pre-electoral message, Mr English's Budget speech has to be seen in a political light. So, what are the key messages for voters and for the opposition?
Mr English is implicitly saying 'vote for us again' by arguing that the strong economy is allowing households and the government to bank their gains, and (above all) that we should 'stick to the plan.' He is also warning the opposition that any claims to increase spending will run them into the counter-argument that these could put upward pressure on interest-rates, thus cancelling out the benefits for householders.
The Budget attempts to 'head off at the pass' political arguments by the opposition that the government is doing nothing for critical social issues such as child poverty and education. Naturally the social sector and the opposition will accuse the National-led government of not doing enough for the worst-off. But Mr English's speech presents a more optimistic view, with impressive figures to boot. For instance, $493 million over four years for support for children and families. Spread over four years that is actually less impressive than it sounds, of course, but it's material for sound-bites that pre-empt or counter opposition attacks.
Hints about future tax-cuts for middle-income earners suggest that the election debate leading up to 20 September could well focus on the big left–right contest of 'more state spending' versus 'working people can bank (or spend) the benefits themselves.'
So, Budget 2014 is neither an election-winner nor an election-loser for National. It stands in stark contrast to the badly received Budget delivered in Canberra recently. But Mr English's Budget speech does give us some big hints about how the election campaign will be fought.


Post a Comment

<< Home