Allan Takes Aim Blog

Budgets are illusions and promises

Posted on: 4 June 2013

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Budgets are illusions and promises

Budgets have different effects on voters and non-voters with young people the biggest segment of the latter. For some people, the day of the budget will be day of celebration because it addresses their needs while for others it will be the day they wished the treasurer could be hung drawn and quartered.

On the other hand after budget day has come and  gone, many young non -voters wonder what all the fuss was about; why their parents had voted for a party that thought the treasurer was a person of financial competence; and why their parents hadn’t consulted them because either they could have done better or knew someone who could.

But putting the wisdom of young non-voters aside for a moment, why is so much made of budget day? I ask because if the budget is supposed to remain secret until delivered, why is so much of what the budget contains leaked in the days previous to it being delivered?

Once upon a time a journalist finding out budget details pre budget delivery and publishing them would claim it as a scoop. These days, with so many budget leaks before budget day, what formerly were scoops are now thought of as old news..

That budget details are leaked is not because treasurers have cast aside their reputation as scrooges but because they want to gauge public reaction to the leaked details so that they can prepare for questions on Budget Day It also gives them time to think up suitable incentives to counter any bad reactions to the leaked details by different sections of the community. When tackled about this, their reply could best be summed as – that’s politics.

Adding to the charade of the budget being secret, what is known as a lock up takes place. The lock up is where journalists and interested parties, but not Mr and Mrs Ordinary voter, as politicians like to call them, will be represented when the budget is delivered a stance that  to me, suggests contempt for Mr and Mrs Everyman.  On this basis, it could be further argued that budgets are undemocratic because they do not reflect the community’s wishes about how its money is to be spent.  A further argument: a budget is even more undemocratic if the Treasurer is part of a minority Government.

Some voters say they find it odd when Treasurers without family say they know how economic conditions ‘impact” (do they mean affect?) family budgets. The fact is, most family treasurers don’t need an IQ that would make them eligible for MENSA to tell them that. And even if the family’s treasurer is not financially minded most know when they can’t afford the things they’d usually buy- like food for example. That apart, how many families actually do a budget? Few, I think.

Today, Tuesday 4 June is Budget Day in the ACT. This blog has been written about budgets in general but whether or not it will be a budget of illusions and promises I won’t know until I’ve studied and absorbed it. For example, what will interest me is how it treats disability and the Arts? Of equal interest is what it will say about Canberra’s future particularly in relation to business. For example will the budget make the business world feel optimistic enough to suggest that it will have jobs for school leavers in the future?

And while there could be many other things worth writing about, I won’t speculate about what they might be. I’ll wait for the budget to find out.

Comment welcome.

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