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so unless you're a rich Indon army guy in the mines, you're screwed.
May 13, 2014 11:40 PM   Subscribe


 
Generally speaking, government transparency and Freedom of Information has come of very badly. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner - Australia's Privacy and FoI regulator - is going to be cannibalised and abolished. A much reduced Office of the Privacy Commissioner will take its place.

But in a tiny win for open government, for the first time ever, the budget data has been released as a machine readable dataset. See data.gov.au for the data (and the Department of Finance blog post about it).

This at least allows cool visualisations like the Open Budget.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:51 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Can someone give me a timeline and maybe a brief explanation of how this "austerity" crap, and the surrounding "starve the beast" mindset has so efficiently spread through seemingly the entire western world?

Because damn, it's everywhere.
posted by emptythought at 11:53 PM on May 13 [22 favorites]


Cheer up. Things are swell for school chaplains, too!
posted by bystander at 12:05 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


And ballerinas.

One term government.
posted by Wolof at 12:05 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


One term governments need a credible opposition, alas.
posted by bystander at 12:08 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]


This is really inspiring me to get a headstart on the Poona Li Hung webseries I was thinking of doing, except my personal commentary on this has largely been snarky "business as usual, welcome to our world you White non-migrant types" and I'm not sure that's exactly a selling proposition for Australia's first Asian lesbian android President.
posted by divabat at 12:26 AM on May 14


Okay so imagine you're an 18 year old, just out of highschool, and you enroll in university. Which now, thanks to deregulated university course fees, gets you, say, a $125,000 student debt for a three year course in, I don't know, engineering.

You complete your course with this massive debt, and try to get a job in your field.

Oh shit you can't, because the government is paying businesses $10,000 to hire baby boomers, they're not hiring young graduates.

You're forced, ultimately, to get a minimum wage job at McDonalds to make ends meet and pay your rent.

Under the Commission of Audit recommendations, if they're adopted in addition to this budget, you still have to pay back your student loan debt. Because the HELP repayment threshold will have been lowered to minimum wage. Oh, and that debt is now indexed to real interest rates, not CPI, so it ain't going away on it's own.

Due to the general economic malaise the country now finds itself in under this self-imposed ridiculous austerity, McDonalds has to let you go. You're now unemployed. But being under 30 years old, you have to wait six months before you are able to receive any unemployment benefits, and have no income at all.

Have another fucking cigar, Joe.
posted by Jimbob at 12:26 AM on May 14 [52 favorites]


And don't forget about the $90 million budgeted to find the lost Malaysian plane! And for those of you who like pictorial summaries.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:28 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]




Have another fucking cigar, Joe.

Precisely.
posted by Wolof at 12:31 AM on May 14


.
posted by horopter at 12:38 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Bwithh: Huh, wow, that was surprising. When even the elected officials from your own party, one of which is a good friend, are angry and upset, you know you've fucked up.
posted by divabat at 12:41 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Also, $7 doctor tax includes $2 for the doctor. I guess the doctors never over service
posted by bystander at 12:44 AM on May 14


Please don't use "indon".
posted by robcorr at 12:44 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Divabat - that webseries sounds great.- do it pls.
posted by awfurby at 12:48 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I have been having difficulty coherently framing my thoughts regarding this budget, except to describe it as an awful and surprisingly comprehensive step backwards. I keep waiting for a footage of a press conference with "fuck you, got mine" banners in the background.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 12:50 AM on May 14


Steve Keen on the new Australian budget:
That means that the success of Joe Hockey’s budget depends on a continuing bubble in Australia’s private debt, and especially household debt -- since it’s households that have overwhelmingly driven borrowing in the past, and the corporate sector shows a very prudent reluctance to exceed a debt ratio of 70 per cent of GDP (see figure 5).
link
Private debt-- credit cards, home loans, car loans etc.
posted by wuwei at 12:53 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


How the hell is kicking people under 30 off the dole for 6 months at a time going to pan out somewhere like Claymore? This is obviously a bone-headed anti-everything fantasy budget, but this one measure alone would be downright apocalyptic for whole suburbs. Full on Mad Max apocalyptic must be the plan.
posted by nameinuse2 at 12:59 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


School chaplains also get A$245m. Because a religiously indoctrinated working poor can be counted on to vote as a bloc against their own interests, as in the US.
posted by acb at 1:01 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


It is so very painful coming from the US to Australia and watching right-school-tie fellows who listen too closely to the Koch Bros take a terrific country and systematically dismantle everything, including its wonderful social safety net, that makes it great, in the name of avoiding a financial crisis even though Australia coasted through the GFC without a blip. So painful.
posted by gingerest at 1:03 AM on May 14 [23 favorites]


in the name of avoiding a financial crisis even though Australia coasted through the GFC without a blip

Neoliberalism, after the GFC, has become a pure ideology.

If Karl Marx' weird afterlife has been as a sociologist/psychoanalyst, then Milton Friedman's is as the moral philosopher of the new world order, the morality being "that's not for you, peasant", and "know your place". There's plenty of money in the system, but it's Gina's and taking some of it to pay for healthcare and education would be socialism and thus evil, which is why the cupboard is bare.
posted by acb at 1:07 AM on May 14 [19 favorites]


Can someone give me a timeline and maybe a brief explanation of how this "austerity" crap, and the surrounding "starve the beast" mindset has so efficiently spread through seemingly the entire western world?

just europe & just a timeline (1972-2014)
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:12 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I think when people announce budgets as evil as this, they should have to cackle maniacally and twirl their mustaches as they do so. Just so we can be entirely clear on where this sort of slash and burn everything good to the ground strategy is coming from.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:19 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I think when people announce budgets as evil as this, they should have to cackle maniacally and twirl their mustaches as they do so.

Hockey reportedly did a little dance in his office before dropping the bomb. Does that count?
posted by acb at 1:22 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


robcorr: my apologies! I was trying to fit the character limit, but I should have known better having been the receipient of a similar slur growing up.
posted by divabat at 1:32 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]




Steve Keen on the new Australian budget

Whilst not everything he says is total bollocks, everything keen says is driven by his monomania with regard to a property bubble burst he has been predicting imminently for literally fifteen years. I prefer real economists like the kouk: here.
posted by smoke at 1:51 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I think when people announce budgets as evil as this, they should have to cackle maniacally and twirl their mustaches as they do so.

He was snapped smoking a cigar in his ubiquitous pin striped suit for celebrations...
posted by smoke at 1:51 AM on May 14


You know what? What the fuck is this.
SARAH FERGUSON: If you earn $250,000 and you're paying the deficit, the high-income deficit, you're going to pay about $1,400 as we understand it. If you're 24 and unemployed you're going to lose nearly $2,500 in a year. Now, in that equation who's doing heavy lifting?

JOE HOCKEY: Well, the heavy lifting is always done by the taxpayer and money received by an individual from the Government is someone else's taxes.

So what we want is for that unemployed person to get a job. And the best chance of them getting a job is someone else's earning taxes and creating business, making profit. If you do that then they've got a chance of getting a job.

...

SARAH FERGUSON: But you understand, for example, that young man on his unemployment benefits or a young mother who's 24 years old, the proportion of what she's going to take home, she's going to struggle to understand why somebody, a wealthy Australian, is going to take, frankly, a minuscule hit to their income?

JOE HOCKEY: I don't accept that. I don't accept that because the money is a supplement for that lady. It's a supplement.
Joe Hockey, it doesn't fucking matter whether the money is a supplement. Look at the reality of the policies you are putting in place. A 24 year old unemployed person is going to have $2,500 less money in a year after your budget. A person earning $250,000 a year is going to have $1,400 less money in a year after your budget.

How the fuck is that even remotely fair?
posted by Quilford at 1:53 AM on May 14 [25 favorites]


Don't forget that in three years the high income deficit stops, but all the cuts to to the non-wealthy are permanent.
posted by markr at 2:00 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I think young people are just going to have to put a little something extra away for those hard times when they hit, like unemployment when you're unable to collect unemployment payments for six months. A crow bar. Gloves. A balaklava. A torch. Just put something a little extra away in case you need it.
posted by Jimbob at 2:03 AM on May 14 [60 favorites]


Ive never seen a budget in Australia that incentivised criminality as much as this one.
posted by evil_esto at 2:03 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


Jimbob - we should have a beer!
posted by evil_esto at 2:04 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


How the fuck is that even remotely fair?

Because the $250k people are job creators while the 24 yo unemployed are takers.

As we all know.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:08 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I think young people are just going to have to put a little something extra away for those hard times when they hit, like unemployment when you're unable to collect unemployment payments for six months. A crow bar. Gloves. A balaklava. A torch. Just put something a little extra away in case you need it.

Have they increased funding for guard labour to keep the lid on the social upheaval this causes? I.e., building prisons and such?

The five-eyes surveillance infrastructure could come in handy as well. If they have, say, a list of mobile phones seen in the vicinity of anti-austerity rallies, or people who have bought the Thomas Piketty book, they will be able to produce shortlists of potential troublemakers to watch and (if push comes to shove) put the frighteners on to help keep disperse any rebellion. So perhaps look out for intelligence/federal police budget increases as well.
posted by acb at 2:14 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The thing that really sticks in my craw is the budget pretty much just shuffles money around, and does little to address the deficit 'emergency'.
Self funded retirees can still earn $50,000 a year, pay no tax and access a part pension while living in a million dollar house.
posted by bystander at 2:15 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


So perhaps look out for intelligence/federal police budget increases as well.
Well, the armed forces budget is growing. And foreign aid is being looted.
posted by bystander at 2:16 AM on May 14


Infographic: Promises vs Budget measures

tl;dr the Coalition got into government mostly on lies.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:18 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


bystander: One term governments need a credible opposition, alas.

Yes. People confidently pronounced the one-term nature of Britain's spectacularly awful current Tory administration. It's doing just fine, thanks to a corrupt and compliant media and the stubbornly low information threshold of most voters. Same in New Zealand, Canada, and other places. Corporate-friendly governments have a habit of entrenching themselves, thanks to money's ability to purchase public opinion. As far as they're concerned, this is the new dispensation and the rest of us can go hang.

The GFC has also horribly exposed the paper tiger nature of all political parties of the mainstream "left." Since First World labour parties sold out the socialists in the '30s, they've all really been about preserving capitalism. Social welfare, the widening of educational opportunities and healthcare: these policies were always about ensuring that there would be a competent and healthy workforce available for the factories rather than offering another political dispensation. Now that capital has decided that the vast majority of working people in the First World are superfluous - production can always be automated or offshored - social democratic parties are obsolete. Capital no longer needs them and they have spent the last few decades so thoroughly disavowing whatever residual Left ideology they had left that they're completely unable to offer an alternative.

Resistance to global capitalism will have to come from outside the established political spectrum and possibly from outside the political system altogether. It will have to be direct, not caught up in the empty symbolism and identity politics of the New Left. In an age of big data, drones, mass surveillance, and a politically anaesthetising, elite-administered popular culture, this is going to be very difficult.

As someone once said, "if this is the future, I don't want to know."
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:20 AM on May 14 [33 favorites]


Watching the train wreck that is current Australian politics would have made me ill, if not for the fact that I already am.

Personally, the changes around medicare will cost me thousands. With a chronic illness, I need to see my GP and specialists frequently and due to the drugs I take, require monthly blood tests. Imaging is also regularly required to monitor changes. I easily reached the PBS safety net the past two years. While my life insurance covers my income due to lose of employment through illness, I'm on a CPI linked fixed income at a percentage of my former salary. So I won't qualify for any concessions or other reliefs. It's like being on some slow Kafkaesque decline into oblivion.

Other than the above small circumstances; the rest of the whole fucking budget story, beginning years ago while Tones was in opposition, is so full of contradictions and hypocrisies it's hard to even know where to start.

I'm really having a hard time just getting up the energy to stay current on the news while not having to hear the utter BS being spat at the population.
posted by michswiss at 2:28 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Also, $7 doctor tax includes $2 for the doctor. I guess the doctors never over service

The Commission of Audit was also wrong (ie lied) about the average number of times Australians visit the GP per year. Tony Shepherd claimed that ""Australians, on average, go to the doctor now 11 times per year" and despite his total lack of evidence, analysis, medical qualifications or expertise in public health, he thinks that's too much. But, in fact it's more like 5-7 times a year. The Government is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

Even if it was 11 times a year, why would that be bad? If people are sick, then they're sick. Going to the GP isn't a fun day out. There's a total paucity of evidence that people are visiting GPs unnecessarily. And every piece of evidence for all over the world supports the position that preventative medicine is cheaper, more efficient and more supportive of productivity than the reactive model (ie treatment when symptoms become unbearable).
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:31 AM on May 14 [12 favorites]


As an aside, the only fun from all this news today was watching the Premiers, including Campbell Newman having a rip at Abbott. Rabid dogs.
posted by michswiss at 2:31 AM on May 14


A friend got a scary letter from the Federal Government recently saying that they were a burden on the healthcare system and should really consider going private. (I wasn't sure if the letter was personalised to them or if they'd sent out the same verbiage to multiple people.)

They see their GP once every 6 months or so and can't afford to buy necessary medications (which pre-Budget cost them $150+). The new Budget measures could very likely kill them.
posted by divabat at 2:35 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


divabat. A treatment I was on until 8 months ago and will be restarting soon is an IV infusion every six weeks. I received it in a public hospital, and while probably more expensive than the biologics I've also injected, never saw a bill. But... I've been asked if I would rather cover the costs through private insurance. This while in a room with a canula inserted in my arm and three others also on IV observing. The woman was hired to approach patients, while receiving treatment, to ask to change off of Medicare-authorised treatment and become a private payer.

Withdrawing $80Bn AUD of federal funding from Health and Education will balkanise healthcare in the country. Oh, and the supposed $20Bn AUD Medical Research Superfund from the GP surcharge is bullshit and has no meat on the bone nor meaningful plan associated with it.
posted by michswiss at 2:51 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


How the fuck is that even remotely fair?

Because the $250k people are job creators while——


You're right! It's because the poor are lazy while the rich made their money by hard work and ingenuity, and certainly not by, for example, inheriting huge assets from their deceased parents. That's why it's fair.

So why don't conservative politicians ever say so on national television?
posted by Quilford at 2:53 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]




Oh please please please.
posted by Quilford at 3:04 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


The woman was hired to approach patients, while receiving treatment, to ask to change off of Medicare-authorised treatment and become a private payer.

You're kidding. Did you ask her how far up her repugnant arse she wanted that idea jammed?
posted by Jimbob at 3:05 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Wow, all this shit circus is only going to cost me around $50 a week! It's totes worth the price of admission!

*champagne*

Sincerest apologies and commiserations to the many, many people who are much worse off than I am. I didn't vote for these fuckknuckles.
posted by Wolof at 3:07 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I think it is reasonable to hit up the private insurers for costs of treatment in a public hospital, if you have coverage.
After all, why should these businesses selling you a product that pays health bills be allowed to avoid the pay out just because the gov (us!) provides the same service for nil charge to those without insurance.
Especially as the gov (us!) pays 30% of those private insurance bills.
Of course, conducting this discussion in the middle of your treatment is a bit offensive.
posted by bystander at 3:09 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


University of Queensland economist John Quiggin makes some good points over at the New Matilda:
Above all, this is a budget full of contradictions, reflecting the different politics of the two men most responsible for it, and the approaches to politics that they represent.

Abbott is a man of three-word slogans, with little concern about a coherent approach to policy, particularly as regards economics. The three word slogans "axe the tax", "paid parental leave" and so on are his version of John Howard’s "core promises". He’s happy enough to make and abandon general assurances like "no cuts to health and education", but he’s not really interested in an economic reform agenda.

Hockey is a cipher, but his statements reflect the long standing orthodoxy of the political elite. Governments need to cut spending, particularly on "entitlements" reduce taxes and sell assets. Since the electorate doesn’t agree with these priorities, the only time to do this is years away from an election. The inconvenient feature of this timing is that it requires a rapid repudiation of the promises used to gain office, and the way to deal with this is to discover a "crisis" or "emergency".

Combine the two and we get a mixture of draconian, probably unsustainable cuts, and lavish expenditure on luxury projects.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:11 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Bwithh that is an interesting view. I do think the budget is a strategic step towards a flat tax future. The means tested levy is both temporary and has a delayed implementation; it could be abandoned at any point. A cynical person would say the deficit levy is the political equivalent of magical misdirection.
posted by vicx at 3:29 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]



I think it is reasonable to hit up the private insurers for costs of treatment in a public hospital, if you have coverage.


I can't speak for the treatment above but a good reason generally is that it leaves you with a fucking gap you have to pay out of pocket. Australian health insurance is such a load of shit: it doesn't cover GP fees, it doesn't cover specialists, it rarely covers scans, it doesn't cover medicine, and if you use it for surgery it never covers all of that, either.

A check up at the dentist, whoop de fuck.

I mentioned on Facebook how galling it was hear Hockey saying that "people need to start taking personal responsibility for their health." - as if my autoimmune disease that requires regular doctor visits and constant medication is a personal moral failing. Coming from a man who had gastric bypass surgery in the last year and regularly smokes fucking cigars, it's a bit much.
posted by smoke at 3:39 AM on May 14 [29 favorites]


deficit levy

The single, sole purpose of the deficit levy is to provide cover - it allows the Tories to say "Look, see, everyone's taking a hit in this budget! We've got this special little thing here just for the wealthy!"

The amount of money it collects is nominal, it solves no problems, it has built-in obsolescence, and there is no bloody deficit problem but it's a big neon glowing thing for the media to obsess over, leaving behind less column inches for the starving disabled and unemployed.
posted by Jimbob at 3:40 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Is sad to see the fire milne is catching over blocking the levy, simply because it's tax on the wealthy is not reason enough to support it, it's a bad tax for a bad reason -yet people are acting like the greens are selling out. A look at my former beloved democrats shows how dangerous that can be, and whoever is constantly leaking greens internal scuffles to Fairfax should be exiled in an open pit coal mine. Look to labor to see how successful that strategy is.
posted by smoke at 3:51 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Is sad to see the fire milne is catching over blocking the levy, simply because it's tax on the wealthy is not reason enough to support it, it's a bad tax for a bad reason -yet people are acting like the greens are selling out.

I live in a deliberately limited media world so I haven't seen this "fire" she's catching at all - my Twitter feed is full of #blocksupply hashtags and complaints about what a piss-weak sack of shit Bill Shorten is, and people I've spoken to IRL today universally have the same attitude; "bring it on". Who's saying this? Who, exactly, are saying the Greens are selling out? Anyone saying this has completely ignored every single other thing in the budget. This isn't a pick-and-choose situation. The budget is a completely regressive, damaging social experiment.
posted by Jimbob at 4:10 AM on May 14


Can someone give me a timeline and maybe a brief explanation of how this "austerity" crap, and the surrounding "starve the beast" mindset has so efficiently spread through seemingly the entire western world?

Because damn, it's everywhere.


Almost as if there was...a plan?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:27 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]


What a farce. Sadly, plenty of people seem to like the idea of virtuous suffering, especially if other people have to do most of it.
posted by nickzoic at 4:27 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


[Removed a couple of comments — fine to talk about policies/plans/actions of course, maybe not so much with the tabloid-style ad hominems? Thanks.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:31 AM on May 14


Almost as if there was...a plan?
Governments share these things like a social disease; I suspect its more like any other odd social trend like swag or twerking. They see a cool kid doing it and want to do it too.
posted by NiteMayr at 4:38 AM on May 14


The clash of ideas between economic downturn being battled with austerity, versus being battled with investment and stimulus is an old one, and as others have pointed out, the austerity method doesn't have many runs on the board.

What makes this particularly farcical is that there is no economic downturn. Australia has a AAA credit rating. Economic growth is the envy of the world. Debt as a percentage of GDP is miniscule compared to similar economies. The budget deficit is completely unconcerning.

The only possible explanation is that the LNP are so bitter about not being in power since 2008 and having missed the chance to impose austerity at the actual time of the global economic downturn, that they're delusional enough to try to make up for lost time somehow now. It's like they took a look at Britain, saw how useless and damaging austerity measures turned out to be there, and said "Well they just didn't do it properly, watch us give it a go!". Adults in charge, indeed.
posted by Jimbob at 4:44 AM on May 14 [13 favorites]


Governments share these things like a social disease

Except, said governments have to be of a like mind to want to share something so draconian and backward as this "austerity" bullshit. And, yet, western nations miraculously find themselves governed by exactly the kind of leaders who favor austerity, with the US just one mid-term and one presidential election away from joining the party in-earnest.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:07 AM on May 14


There's a core part of the electorate that just loves to think of itself as honest, hard working battlers fighting a desperate struggle for survival. All this budget crisis talk really speaks to that, as if they're desperately struggling to raise some sheep at the end of their cul-de-sac rather than just having trouble getting the negative gearing to work.
posted by Jilder at 5:09 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


By the sound of it (without knowing the situation in depth) what's happening in Auz is what's happened in the UK.

Regardless of evidence, logic or reason, austerity is being applied drastically and rapidly. The speed is important because it may well be a one-term government. The lack of evidence, reason or logic is important because it fits well with the Koch-brother-Shock-docterine-Tea-Party mentality that dictates that personal responsibility and small government are 100% good things and should be followed at all costs.

Realistically though it's just another expression of power by the rich and powerful over those that aren't rich and powerful. Nothing more.

I believe that the UK has experienced the closest thing it's ever experienced to a coup. No mandate and no reason, just a simple expression of power implementing prejudice. Sounds similar in Auz.

These folks are not much better than flat-earthers, unfortunately they have a great deal of power and money.
posted by rolandroland at 5:15 AM on May 14


I believe that the UK has experienced the closest thing it's ever experienced to a coup.

I wouldn't call it a coup in Australia, though, because the Australian Labor Party did their best to hand it to the Tories on a silver platter. Thanks Kev, you skid-mark sociopath.
posted by Jimbob at 5:25 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


Australia coasted through the GFC without a blip

Except for the fact that its housing bubble never deflated.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:29 AM on May 14


I'm falling into a pattern with everything this government does; I assume they're going to do something stupid, something which has no evidence to back it up and which is going to result in a more uneven, unequal community... and then they up the ante by doing something even more stupid and evil than I ever imagined.

And you know the scariest thing to me? They're so damn blatant about it. They're so patronising, so scornful, it's as if they're not even trying to put up a front of fairness. You can almost hear the snickering going on underneath the speeches. Hockey said something about the Government believing in supporting the most vulnerable "through our own personal endeavours as well as through our policies" and I nearly gagged. That sounds awfully like "Sure, I'm creating the disempowering, humiliating, dangerous, soul-destroying policies, but it's OK because I'll throw the occasional buck at the Salvos and be seen at a charity fundraiser or two."
posted by andraste at 5:40 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


It's like what Bwithh said: They're out to make the states pay for everything, but aren't giving them the cash to do so: so the Federal government is out to raise the GST (which the states get to keep), but is gonna make the state governments start the conversation, and take the heat for it.

That said, Australia DOES have structural economic problems. Greying population, shrinking tax base, expenditure greater than income blah blah blah etc. Something had to be done. But surely turning the country into a shit version of the US is an awful ideological choice, and somewhat unAustralian...
posted by Sedition at 5:40 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I have been wondering if the cuts to Medicare and the attack on social security are there to draw fire from some of the other spending. If you've got those two to save, you're going to have limited fire power to then direct at mining subsidies, for example. It's bastard cunning, sort of setting some nice easy targets to tank the protests, then you roll on that while your mates make off with the pork.
posted by Jilder at 5:46 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


How the fuck is that even remotely fair?

It's not meant to be fair. It's a blatant and open handing of money to those in the top tier, taken from everyone else. It's dressed up in language of "job creators" and "austerity" and what have you, but it's plain and simple giving to the top.

In the US it's been pushed since Reagan, and it's been interesting (and sad) to see similar things happening in other countries, one after another. It's sort of oligarchical, sort of corporatist, and blatantly corrupt, and yet so far has been pretty much unstoppable. There's always a pseudojustification of some kind, but somehow the magic prescription for every situation is austerity (meaning slashing public services) and increased inequality.

The weirdest part is how reliably vast swaths of the electorate vote for this, even though they are and always will be too poor to benefit at all from these give-aways to the rich.

I'm personally economically right at about the cusp between benefitting and not benefitting from these kinds of policies -- a bit poorer and I'd be getting fucked, and a bit richer and I'd be cackling about the latest drop in capital gains taxes. I haven't checked to see the exact number, but I'd guess my household income is at about the ten percent level, give or take quite a bit, which leaves 90 percent of the country getting screwed by policies many of them voted for. Without knowing the specifics (I couldn't find it broken out this way in the links), I'd guess that the dividing line for the new budget in Australia will be similar, with only the top ten or fifteen percent benefitting and the vast majority taking a direct hit.

There should be torches and pitchforks, and instead it's "thank you Sir, may I please have another."
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


instead it's "thank you Sir, may I please have another."

The oppressor usually rules with the effective consent of the oppressed.

You simply need a mechanism whereby A) someone is usually worse off than you are, and B) anything you do against the mechanism will cause you to fall down into that worse off group.

Hey presto, most people do nothing, preferring to hang on by their fingernails. With the advent of better recordkeeping & the ability to slice data into ever-finer detail, it's been getting easier and easier to structure society this way, fine-tuning fees and cuts, "handouts" and incentives.

...at this point, I'm almost expecting it to be "gamified". Look for that not too far down the road, probably running atop "social benefits cards".
posted by aramaic at 6:08 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


No one has shared Pyne on 7.30?

Shame.

Also: If Labor had the stones they would block supply.
Spoiler: Burt Snorten does not.
Metaspoiler: No one who was paying attention did not expect this.
Superspoiler: Voters were not.

Gutless creep.
posted by Mezentian at 6:18 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I think we're mostly preaching to the choir here. But it's cathartic to let it out anyway.

I'm tired of being angry and outraged at what's being done to my country. I'm depressed eagerness of many fellow citizens to discard reason and compassion - and their unwillingness to look beyond the three-word slogans by the LNP & the Murdoch press.

So I'm going to post just a few relevant numbers.
Here's some to start - @ the Guardian.

The cuts to healthcare and welfare have already been well covered in this thread. Here are some others that make me want to bash my head against the table:

$12.4 billion dollars for 58 additional F-35 fighters (being of questionable design & necessity) to enter service by 2020

Giving away our future - unlike Norway, which has 78% tax on oil & gas revenues, Australia's effective rate is only 13%.
Percentage of Australian mining operations which are foreign-owned: 83%. [source]. And while everyday drivers will be paying more in fuel taxation, the mining industry gets to keep its $2 billion dollar per annum fuel tax credit scheme. That's right, the taxpayer actually pays for the privilege of giving away their resources.

$7.6 billion dollars to be cut from Australia's foreign aid programs over 5 years. Having read the 2014 Gates Annual Letter about how effective these programs can be, this is short-sighted and mean-spirited. (hang on - I'm sensing a theme here).

University fees to increase ~ 30%, and if you don't pay fees upfront your loans will no longer be indexed at CPI. Instead it will be at the bond rate ~ 6%. Just what this country needs - more deterrents for study. I wonder how the lack of graduates will serve Australia in the long term?
(remember the 'no fees for degrees' protests? ...)

There's also the increase in funding to the school chaplaincy program, an illegal expenditure of our tax dollars to evangelise to students in public (supposedly secular) schools.

Of course there are many more examples of this kind.

I can't adequately describe the depths of my disgust. Words fail me.
posted by joz at 6:20 AM on May 14 [13 favorites]


I think we're mostly preaching to the choir here. But it's cathartic to let it out anyway.

I am far away (in the U.S.) and I have always been fond of Australia, always been jealous of friends who got to visit. I haven't heard about this so yes, please, go ahead and let it out!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:25 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I can't adequately describe the depths of my disgust. Words fail me.

I have four words:
BLOCK SUPPLY
DOUBLE DISSOLUTION.

The rest is swearing.
But being a childless 30-40s person who has paid of HECS with a mortage, private health insurance, and no kids, who is barely touched by this budget (because we get no handouts to strip):
This budget is bullshit.
And I hated KRudd's $900 Bonus.
posted by Mezentian at 6:28 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


If Supply is blocked the convention requires that the Government resign, and if a new Government cannot be formed, for an election to be held for the House. The Senate remains unaffected. This is not the same thing as a Double Dissolution.
posted by kithrater at 6:36 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


If Supply is blocked the convention requires that the Government resign

If it's blocked in the House, perhaps, but not if the Senate rejects a House bill in order to block supply.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:46 AM on May 14


Incorrect. If, as Government, your supply is rejected by either House of Parliament, then convention requires you resign.
posted by kithrater at 6:49 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, that Pyne on 7.30 is just amazing. In all his question evading gollumesque glory.. it is just amazing. He answers no questions- and they were all very direct questions-

..and then all of a sudden "OH LOOKS LIKE WE'RE OUT OF TIME!!" Sarah Ferguson was just fantastic ("no, we've definitely got more time.."), slapping him down and putting him in his place every. single. time he tried to weasel his way out of addressing the bold n blatant... issues right up in all of our faces.

Wow. Bring on that election.

As our American friends used to say over and over in the Bush era:

...surely this
posted by Philby at 6:51 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


As our American friends used to say over and over in the Bush era:

...surely this

And then we got Obama who endorsed more or less more of the same, only with the Official Veneer of Liberal Approval.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:55 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


[I'm absolutely not saying "never mention Washington here", but it's easy for an Australian politics thread here to get derailed entirely by comparisons to the U.S. Every time that happens a quokka cries. Fact.]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:00 AM on May 14 [14 favorites]


Here's the always wonderful First Dog on the Moon's take on the 2014-15 budget:
"Worst. Showbag. Ever."

[gnfti: sorry to bring the US into the mix. I just wanted to get across the flabbergasted exasperation that all this inspires- it truly is like a dreadful parody of itself- only somehow even worse, and for real! I love it when Australia shows up on the blue, definitely wouldn't want to distract away from the Antipodean flavour of the thread! (See what I did there? I spelled flavour the way it is meant to be spelled)]
posted by Philby at 7:05 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


. Every time that happens a quokka cries. Fact.

My Quokka is, in fact, crying.

Also, I am so sad people don't get how a DD works.
COMPLETE SPILL, MOTHERFUCKERS.

(and Clive will find it harder to -- allegedly -- organise his cash. And me may have a sensible Senate voting system).
posted by Mezentian at 7:07 AM on May 14


. I just wanted to get across the flabbergasted exasperation that all this inspires- it truly is like a dreadful parody of itself- only somehow even worse,

It's like voters didn't read Battlelines.

...


Wait....
posted by Mezentian at 7:09 AM on May 14


Incorrect. If, as Government, your supply is rejected by either House of Parliament, then convention requires you resign.

Not quite.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:16 AM on May 14


The sheer contempt for adults under 30 is doing my head in (and I'm way past that demographic, sadly). I just don't understand what is supposed to happen to people who simply can't be supported by their parents and who need to pay rent and buy food and be able to travel to job interviews etc. Youth unemployment in Australia has for generations been disproportionately higher than the national average and yet they're just supposed to pull their socks up and live on thin air? I just don't understand how this can be considered in any way just. What exactly are they expected to do?

(To explain, this incredibly awful budget will make people under 30 wait 6 months before they're entitled to Newstart, the unemployment payment).

I also hated the crowing about 'people smugglers' and 'border protection' with absolutely no mention of the refugees themselves. Ship them off to Papua New Guinea to be demonised even more than they've already been and in some cases murdered, with those who have risked everything to escape conditions that just about every non-immigrant Australian could never dream of in their worst nightmares then told 'no way' will they ever be given the chance to live here, and that's apparently of supreme importance to every Australian? Well, excuse me, but that's absolute fucking bullshit. I want people who want to come here to live full and happy lives because they will become part of our society and community, not some strange pathetic 'other' who just want to take what we have and give nothing back, which is the rhetoric that's been spewed by our various government for decades.

I'm appalled and disgusted by this Government and the sheer incompetence of the Labor party in opposition. Not using social media to bypass the stranglehold of Rupert Murdoch's media in this country is wilful ignorance at best. We mustn't forget the fact that Labor were just as enslaved to Big Business as the LNP when they were in power, at the expense of their own supporters, and their refugee policy was just as fucked and they need to be reminded of their own constitution which states: "The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields".

Major change is needed across the board and it's well past time the Australian people made it clear that they demand to be heard by all politicians.
posted by h00py at 7:21 AM on May 14 [17 favorites]


Colin Barnett makes me ashamed to be a Western Australian. Supporting a GST increase if WA gets more of the share. You cocksucking little lapdog. Uncle Tony must have given you some quality spooning time when he was over here last for you to toe the party line that hard. Or maybe because the little fucking toad is already one step ahead of Tony and ripping the guts out of education on his own.
posted by Talez at 7:27 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Not quite.
1975 burns bright in our memories.
But it is close enougfh to be real.
If Clive finds his backbone, and Greens remember where they left theirs, and Bulb Smooten can ran rally the troops... if all those unpossiibles happen.....

Eh. It'll get passed,
posted by Mezentian at 7:49 AM on May 14


OMG, don't show my 9-year old pictures of a quokka -- he already wants a pet hedgehog, and this thing would send him right over the edge.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:57 AM on May 14


smoke: I can't speak for the treatment above but a good reason generally is that it leaves you with a fucking gap you have to pay out of pocket.

Based on my recent experience with a relative in the ER, there's no gap. If you elect to use your private health insurance as well as Medicare, the hospital guarantees you won't be out of pocket.

I'm genuinely not sure why people are up in arms about this. It seems like a win-win to me.
posted by Georgina at 8:08 AM on May 14


Based on my recent experience with a relative in the ER, there's no gap. If you elect to use your private health insurance as well as Medicare, the hospital guarantees you won't be out of pocket.

If you choose to be treated as a private patient in a public hospital Medicare pays 75% and the private health insurance pays 25% which, yes, is a win-win situation.

However, if a specialist involved in your care decides to charge more than the MBS fee then the insurer can decline to pay more than their 25% share of the scheduled fee. This leaves you with a gap. However, insureres and doctors seem to have gotten it under control because 83% of services in hospitals have no gap at all these days. But you can still be hit with something unexpected if you're not vigilant and aware of fees.

I carried private health insurance when I was back in Australia despite being in the "low income" bracket but I only ever used it for optical and dental.
posted by Talez at 8:20 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Sedition, yes, there are structural issues that have to do with a reduced corporate tax base thanks to Howard-era tax concessions and the GFC. So what does the government do? Continue with the 1.5% company tax cut. Other issues like the superannuation taxation imbalance and FBT and the high levels of tax avoidance of the 1% have been ignored. (Such as the $900 million the ATO has been forced to pay News Corp because of on-paper losses.)
Personally I could get behind the levy on higher income earners - let's call it what it is, a tax - and the fuel levy, as well as a modified version of the PPL scheme that has a lower threshold, but the rest of this budget is a horrible horrible deal for Australia and I fear the damage done to our social services will never ever be undone.
(Not to mention the $7.5 billion cut to the foreign aid budget, nor the beginning of the dismantling of the ABC.)
And I'm still simmering with rage about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and indigenous people so basically I'm actually quite glad I'm not even in the country right now.
posted by jasperella at 8:38 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


That Christopher Pyne interview... what arrogant bastards. Actions like this don't make you some kind of apex predator or whatever twisted justification exists in their heads—it makes you a cannibal.

"There's no evidence that increased tuition deters poor people from pursuing education" is like saying "there's no evidence that increased food prices deter poor people from eating in order to survive."
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:38 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


> Can someone give me a timeline and maybe a brief explanation of how this "austerity" crap, and the surrounding "starve the beast" mindset has so efficiently spread through seemingly the entire western world?

Because damn, it's everywhere.


Here in my corner of what was formerly referred to as Soviet Canuckistan, even the ostensibly left-wing party has been reduced to shit like this.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:38 AM on May 14


The Ontario NDP has been trying to out-Tory the Tories for at least a year now.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:56 AM on May 14


"In science, the big losers will be Australia’s lead research agencies. Spending at five major agencies will be at least AU$420 million less than envisioned by previous government projections"
posted by dhruva at 10:03 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Here in my corner of what was formerly referred to as Soviet Canuckistan, even the ostensibly left-wing party has been reduced to shit like this.

That is a strategy explicitly about marshalling identity and engaging disengagement and is not at all about considered political views. Cynical shit not unheard of elsewhere.

digression: weirded out by McCallion there. end digression.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:42 AM on May 14


Thanks for the response, Talez.

I think you and I are talking about different things, which is understandable if you haven't been in an Australian hospital for a while. There's a new practice in which people receiving public services are asked if they'll allow the hospital to recover a portion of costs from their private health insurance. In return, the hospital promises you won't have any out of pocket expenses for doing so.

This is not the same as being treated as a private patient in the public system. It's only about saving the hospital some money.
posted by Georgina at 11:44 AM on May 14


I believe that the UK has experienced the closest thing it's ever experienced to a coup.

Huh? I don't like the policies of the current UK govt either but am struggling to understand how the Coalition can be described as coming to power through anything like a coup d'état .
posted by Bwithh at 4:02 PM on May 14


Based on my recent experience with a relative in the ER, there's no gap. If you elect to use your private health insurance as well as Medicare, the hospital guarantees you won't be out of pocket.

I haven't been to the ER. However, emergencies aren't the only reason to go to hospital. I had an operation last year which wasn't an emergency, but fairly important all the same. The waiting list to have the operation done as a private patient in a public hospital (the only type my insurance covered) was so long that I was advised not even to try as they probably wouldn't even put me on the list. I went to a private hospital and insurance covered some of the surgeon's fees, anaesthetist etc. Medicare covered some too. I was still thousands of dollars out in the gap. I knew this and budgeted, etc. I'm not complaining, it was my choice. But it's naive to think that the combination of private health + Medicare means no gap ever.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:40 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


And as if we needed any further indicators of the moral caliber of this government, here's my charming local member addressing the Leader of the Opposition yesterday afternoon (trigger: language, NSFW).
posted by MarchHare at 10:31 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I wondered if that was going to show up here! I liked the part where Pyne's office tried to play it off that he said "grub", like he was Paul Keating or something.
posted by gingerest at 11:01 PM on May 14


Yeah, that was definitely not "grub"! No r, no b; I'm not sure how they can plausibly spin it to anything else.

Gillard used grub though. Snivelling grub, to be precise, though I think Abbott is now more of a smarmy, self-satisfied grub.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:40 AM on May 15


Bill Shorten steps up. Let's hope Labor stands by it and the Australia public hears it.
posted by h00py at 3:08 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


TISM in The Philip Ruddock Blues, more than ten damn years ago:

Why should you ask me for my help, just cause you're Aussie too?
What's the difference between those boat people and you?
Australians all at once rejoice in our shared commonwealth
But now if you're Australian - help your-fucking-self!

posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 3:22 AM on May 15




It's traditional for newly elected governments in Australia to claim that they should have all their bills passed by the senate without fuss since the electoral vote proves they have a mandate for their policies. But given that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey have now been shown to have literally lied about almost every major policy (this 10 seconds on SBS on the night before the election is favourite), it'll be interesting to see how that will play out.
posted by drnick at 5:44 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Oh look, I discovered about a dozen extra 'u' s in the middle of what I previously thought of as a four lettered expletive....
posted by fFish at 6:01 AM on May 15


Penny Wong delivers Joe Hockey's more honest speech.
posted by divabat at 10:22 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


There seem to be a gap in the budget - accounting for the increased redundancy payouts. from the linked article:

Despite outlining the most ambitious job-shedding program in 15 years, the Abbott government has assumed most staff will leave of their own accord without seeking a payout.

The funding shortfall will easily exceed half a billion dollars over three years if the costs incurred in recent years are any guide.

posted by Admira at 9:04 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


The funding shortfall will easily exceed half a billion dollars over three years if the costs incurred in recent years are any guide.

That's more than the saving that is supposed to be achieved by making the cuts.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:09 PM on May 15


Very little about this budget makes any sense at all.

Why put money toward chaplains in schools and cut costs for actual, you know, curricula? Why set up the trap of being forced to try to find a job to afford prescriptions that people can't work at all without? Why make it so that the job market will be absolutely, incredibly flooded with people, highly-qualified desperate people who are apparently expected to have no redundancy payment whatsoever to tide them over between jobs, and simultaneously make it so you have to starve for six months before you can go on the dole and if you are on the disability pension and can work more than eight hours a week you need to find a job that isn't being snapped up by these masses of qualified able-bodied people who can most likely work much more consistently and reliably than anyone being forced off the disability pension, and at the same time cut services that provide job searching and training for people with disabilities?

Why dissolve the agency for preventative medicine and simultaneously raise out of pocket doctor payments?

Why plan to buy 58 planes for "border defense" at a cost of millions upon millions each and defend it as a necessary purchase when it's an expense adding up to more than what the new budget is touted to save?

I can't really think of any answer other than thoughtlessness to the point of cruelty.
posted by E. Whitehall at 8:48 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]




I was looking through the Budget stuff last night and stumbled onto a line about them consolidating all border, immigration, and customs operations into the Australian Border Force.

Not sure what happens to DIBP, but it sounds like they're making Homeland Security.
posted by divabat at 7:45 AM on May 18




(The Morrison speech linked from the DIBP announcment is an awesomely emetogenic bit of jingoism and fearmongering, mostly about THE BOATS and CRIMINALS FROM ABROAD with a fair amount of undignified slagging on Labor.)
posted by gingerest at 9:31 PM on May 18


I'm sorry, I have been to busy not updating the fact I got a $3,000 set of bike gears or a $60,000 scholarship for my daughter.... did I miss anything?

(Also partaying with the Mafia.)
posted by Mezentian at 8:28 AM on May 23




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