Date: May 03 2012
Somewhere among the chaos of Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper and the moribund polling of the Labor Party lies our nation's forthcoming federal budget. It will be made up of two items, one a fact, the other a fiction.
The item of fact, or near fact, will be the numbers for the current financial year, finishing on June 30, 2012, and confirmed in September.
The item of fiction, like every one of Labor's budgets, will be their future prognosis.
The government is firmly installed at the table of spending obesity. Day after day they have been gorging themselves oblivious to the excess while promising that there will come a sunny upland of fiscal rectitude, tomorrow, when they will burn more calories than they consume.
In preparation for that day they will throw the bathroom scales out the window, sit down and consume five meat pies and eight hamburgers. Burping and belching with a distended belly they will wake on budget day a paragon of economic health, then after a 24-hour reprieve will continue back on the path of consuming every spending calorie in sight.
The government is creating a ''manipulated'' surplus year and I believe even this manipulated surplus will never happen. Here is one example of many. The government will spend $1000 million this year on energy security, yet only $1 million in the next manipulated, magical surplus year, and then $1000 million the year after that.
Two years ago, Wayne Swan stood earnestly before the despatch box and said that this year, 2011-12, would be a $13 billion deficit, which was bad enough. Now we are told it will be a $37 billion deficit: 200 per cent wrong is not a reasonable statistical error in Econometrics 101.
Two years ago Swan also said our gross debt would be $221 billion in 2012-13. The latest estimates are now at $273 billion and that is likely to blow out further in next week's budget.
The numbers they predict never seem to bear any resemblance to the numbers that turn up, but there is always an excuse.
I have listened to all of the excuses and I have summarised them down to one word: Wayne.
Wayne Swan is trying to tell us that by having one day without a seventh hamburger we are on a health kick. In fact, more than a health kick, he is trying to tell us that he is Harry Hardbody at Bondi Beach.
The sad fact is that we will probably borrow more this week than our surplus will be.
The reality is, deficits or surplus, it's debt that counts. It's debt that you have to repay. Just as one swallow does not make a spring and one surplus does not repay your debt.
Labor has a very interesting view of the value of things they have borrowed for, such as the NBN. Their surplus, even if they got one, does not take into account the more than $50 billion in debt you will have to repay for the NBN, which will soon be an appropriate acronym for the Next Budget Nightmare.
Good or bad, credibility comes with getting the numbers right. Accuracy counts.
I find it nauseating to hear the earnest proclamations made by the Treasurer about numbers that he can never get right. It's really just a good night wasted in front of the television listening to his budget prattle.
The anarchy at the front counter, seen in the perplexing appointment of Peter Slipper to one of the highest offices in our land, reflects the chaos in the back office.
The bizarre endorsement, for about three years, of Craig Thomson with a story that not even Hans Christian Andersen could have gotten away with saps our confidence.
The free character assessments made about Kevin Rudd by his colleagues; all is chaos.
In the back office, with coffee stains over the pages, lies what will very soon be called the Commonwealth of Australia's budget.
Intertwined in this manic turmoil is the carbon tax, and an economy that is now putting carbon tax margins on quotes. Rather large margins; indeed I recently saw a margin of $70,000 on the construction price of a house. You need to have a large margin for whoopy ideas devised by the Labor party. What's worse than the silliness of their ideas is the fact that the cost is never correct.
Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate Leader.
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