Allan Takes Aim Blog

An ACT Budget check

Posted on: 11 May 2011


First posted to The Chronicle, Tuesday ,April 10, 2011

Last Tuesday, the ACT Government delivered its 2011-12 year budget. Not that it’s a budget for a year because much of the money won’t be spent until 2013 or beyond. Nor is there any guarantee it will be spent then. That will depend on the Government elected in October 2012.

That apart and despite the Government’s rhetoric about the future, the only future it wants to secure is theirs and how better to do it than by dishing out budget sweeties. Well it seems the ACT Government thinks that health, education, business, property, transport, sport and development need sweeties. But don’t forget that before the next election, the Government will open the sweetie jar again, although by that time more Canberrans might have joined the already long homeless queue.

Reports clearly indicate the budget has caused the ACT Public Service some discomfort but there is little chance that discomfited as it is, in an effort to discomfit the Government in return public servants are unlikely to give up their jobs because where else in Canberra will they get one. Indeed Government itself might get discomfited because while a budget is a financial instrument and the treasurer first fiddle in the Government orchestra, if the first fiddler gets the orchestra out of sync and the conductor loses control, the audience could get so annoyed it might decide not to renew the orchestra’s application for another four years’ licence.

If this happens some individual Government members would be more discomfited than others by the thought that, after October 2012, they might need to audition for a position in an unknown orchestra. And while the next election is still too far away to decide which Assembly Members are likely lo be affected, the oracles are being consulted already to try and ensure that during the next eighteen months everything they say and do will help them avoid having to attend an audition.

In the meantime talk back radio commentators and newspapers will cover this budget comprehensively a cover that will be backed up daily by letters to the editor as to the Government’s incompetence or otherwise. As usual the letters will come mostly from supporters of both Government and the Opposition although in this case there is a third party, the Government’s partner, the Greens, a party given to make grand gestures which says it wants to govern but doesn’t want to be seen as making hard decisions.

Indeed at times I am a given to think it should change its name to the Cherry Pickers Party because while all parties occasionally tend cherry pick, the Greens try to make a virtue of it.

To assist their cherry picking agenda the Greens signed a pact with Labor that ostensibly allowed them to influence Labor policy. But whatever the Greens think, for Labor the pact was a matter of convenience as it gave them the support necessary to form Government.

Two and a half years later, Labor might now see the pact as a matter of inconvenience but one they cannot afford to ditch as it might make the Greens and its supporters ditch Labor at the next election. Although that is pure speculation on my part, it is not speculation that I know a number of previously rusted on Labor supporters who think along similar lines.

This not to say The Greens have nothing worthwhile to say. Indeed Caroline le Couteur and Amanda Bresnan have impressed me to some degree although I don’t know if they have impressed the electorate at large; that is something the rest of the electorate will have to make up their own minds about as they judge the Greens contribution to the budget.

Now if you think I’ve forgotten the Liberal Opposition, I haven’t. I imagine their having to face two parties of Government at the same time has been no easy job but they seem to have tackled it with some success. Perhaps too, the electorate at large will see that and also see their alternative budget proposals and their budget criticisms as sensible? 

If it does and though the result of their efforts will not be seen in the current Assembly, the election in October 2012 might reflect those thoughts.          

dca@netspeed.com.au

 The Chronicle for Canberra’s best community news. Published every Tuesday

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