If Australians are getting from Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison more of the same as they got from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey -- what is the point of the Turnbull Government?
Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have all but confirmed Australia is heading towards a repeat of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey's disastrous 2014 Budget, making a myth of Malcolm Turnbull's promise of "new economic leadership".
Last week, Scott Morrison even used the exact same arguments to justify cuts in the upcoming Budget as Joe Hockey used to justify cuts in the 2014 Budget. When asked about the need to address declining Government revenue, Scott Morrison returned to the Abbott-Hockey rhetoric of old, saying he didn't "accept the view" Australia has a revenue problem.
This is the same view every Liberal MP used to justify the 2014 Budget -- a Budget soundly rejected by economists and the Australian people. It's a view that saw the Liberals cut $80 billion from schools and hospitals, $6,000 a year from a typical Australian family, and $80 a week from Australian pensioners in the 2014 Budget. It's a view grounded in ideology and political expediency, not reality. That's why it's been rejected by two Treasury secretaries -- who have both referred to falling revenue as the main driver in the deterioration of the Budget -- and even by New South Wales Liberal Premier Mike Baird.
Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison's dogged pursuit of ideology, in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, has led them to rule out Labor's sensible policies to tackle multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance; rein in high income superannuation tax concessions; stop giving more support to someone buying their second or tenth home than to someone buying their first home; and increase the tobacco excise to reduce the cost of smoking on the economy.
The Turnbull Government has forced itself into a corner by criticising Labor's sensible policies to improve the Budget bottom-line and by floating and then shelving or abandoning an endless list of ideas, including increasing the GST to 15 percent; broadening the base of the GST to fresh food and education; allowing states to levy their own income taxes; and, most recently, changing work-related deductions. This approach has forced the Turnbull Government into a position where its only option is a repeat of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey's 2014 Budget, with its cuts to essential services and its attack on the household budgets of Australian families.
Against that, we have been upfront about our plans. We have announced more than $100 billion worth of improvements to the Budget bottom-line and to help fund our policies and improve Australia's fiscal position over the medium term.
Australia has a spending problem and a revenue problem, and sensible savings need to be made. That's why Labor would scrap Tony Abbott's Emissions Reduction Fund, which pays polluters to pollute; scrap the Baby Bonus Malcolm Turnbull wants to introduce as part of his deal with the Nationals to become Prime Minister; and not proceed with a marriage plebiscite the Government's own MPs say they will ignore.
We recognise the need to look beyond the political cycle and take a long-term view of Australia's future. We've announced policies such as investing in science, technology, engineering and maths that will have a long-term positive impact on the economy by preparing Australia to take advantage of the next wave of global growth. Labor's policies are independently costed and fully funded.
Malcolm Turnbull promised a Government that would respect the intelligence of Australians and provide a higher level of debate about the issues we face as a nation. Instead, Australians are getting the same lies and deception they got from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.
So, again the question must be asked: if Australians are getting from Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison more of the same as they got from Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey -- what is the point of the Turnbull Government?
This opinion piece was first publish in the Huffington Post on Monday, 18 April 2016