Allan Takes Aim Blog

The Battle of B Day

Posted on: 5 June 2013

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The Battle of B Day

Every year a day is set aside in the ACT Legislative Assembly for B Day. If you haven’t already guessed, B Day is the non- lethal budget battle even if, on occasion, some of the combatants might wish otherwise. The Treasurer in his wisdom has called this a budget for a rainy day and as an alternative a visionary budget.  I find this surprising given most voters want budgets of sunshine.

However, in this set piece battle the Opposition tries to upset the Government on the matter of how much money it needs to run and expand ACT services and facilities now and in the future. In a sense it tries to rain on the Treasurer’s budget.

As to the budget itself, unfortunately for householders some budget announcements look as if they are going to experience many rainy days, caused by the Government’s increases in fees and taxes. As he tries to put a good face on it the Treasurer’s in his most sympathetic manner will plead, that without the rises Canberra could go to hell in a hand basket.

Indeed, voters worried about the future could find the Treasurer’s face so sorrowful they might be inclined to say the rises should be greater. On the other hand the first impressions of the mass of voters suggest they have no particular love for his rainy day proposition. Whether his visionary propositions will receive a better hearing is yet to be seen.

Of the budget battle itself I am in no doubt the Opposition will argue with the Government about: a.) The amount of money the Government says it needs to run the ACT properly, and b.) How the Government intends to raise the money.

That said and regardless of what the Government says it needs, its first and most important priority is to get a majority vote of approval for the proposed budget from the 17 Assembly Members. A few days later following the Opposition’s budget reply that important vote is taken. Should the Government not get the majority it needs the possibility exists of it being replaced by the Opposition.

Should this happen the former Government will bewail that giving Government to the former Opposition will ring Canberra’s death knell. Parliaments are not called theatres of the absurd for nothing. That being the case I wonder what Shakespeare might have called this performance? ‘Battle of the Hams’ perhaps?

Not that there is any indication that such an event will occur, so during the budget speech in reply what will be the Opposition’s budget targets? The Opposition will say the Government has failed and continues to fail Canberra; that it has been a government of austerity not a government dedicated to prosperity; that it is a government of misery with its failure to give voters a sense of being a government that cares.

However, some Property Developers will say the Government cares and who’s to blame them, with the budget having treated them well. And so will many in the Arts world which has been the beneficiary of large dollar sums dedicated to the centenary that thousands of homeless Canberrans would have found useful.

And what will the growing numbers of Canberra’s aged feel, many of whom, through no fault of their own become prisoners of poverty standing behind the curtains in houses that speak of affluence staring in grim despair at the world outside.

I couldn’t depart the blog without mentioning our ‘poor ‘sporting Brumbies and Raiders. Had the ACT government not poured thousands of dollars into keeping them in the pink they might have been in danger of dying from hunger or thirst.

Comment welcome.

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