Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

`Small' Government?

Alan Kohler's editorial on Inside Business today was so interesting that it bears summarising (you may well have missed it, having kicked a hole through your TV after Andrew Bolt's idiotic comments about the Stolen Generations being `a myth' at the end of Insiders. Come down my way, Andy. A lot of my mates are myths).

The Federal Budget Surplus for 2005, published on Friday, revealed that the May estimate was out by over 50% or $4.4bn. As Kohler pointed out, the chief accountant of any major corporation would be sacked over a mistake that big - Peter Costello's still plugging away for the job of CEO. But more importantly - government spending is out of control. Spending increased by 7.5% last year, nearly the largest increase in Australian history. This comes even despite the Liberal party's ostensible commitment to `small government', and its neverending criticisms of the `big government' approach of previous administrations such as the Whitlam Government. Interestingly, the same thing is happening under the Bush Administration, which has increased spending by 5% every year it has been in power. For all the rhetoric about `being the one to trust' with the copious amount of money we shovel their way, the Howard Government demonstrate about as much fiscal discipline as an obese five year old with a fistful of twenty dollar notes at a cinema lolly counter.

I am certainly no opponent of big government. I have a crazy old fashioned notion that governments are elected to take care of their people. But where is this money going? Is it going to assist the mentally ill, and by extension, reduce crime, suicide, and domestic violence? No. Is it going towards strengthening public healthcare (unless you count the 30% private healthcare rebate, and frankly, I don't)? No. Is it going towards bridging the ever-increasing gap between the rich and poor? Doesn't look like it.

Last year, amidst all the financial gerrymandering (yep friends - the election was less than a year ago), a few brave souls dared to suggest that the government were throwing away the chance of a lifetime in million dollar bundles. One day - in much the same way as people did the Roaring Twenties during the Great Depression - we might well look on these days with a very wry smile.


At 9:04 pm, Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

The Economist sinks the boot into big-gov conservatism in the US this week. Talk about political confusion. They're all bloody opportunists, aren't they?

At 1:39 pm, Blogger Minotaur said...

Julia Gillard recently had some interesting comments on the Howard Government's redefinition of small government in the Jim Cairns Memorial Lecture - well worth a read.

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