Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the budget

I wanted to write a blog post today, and I wanted to not write about the budget, but as I was reading a few articles in the SMH this morning I found it impossible to resist. But I don't want to talk about the budget, really I don't. Think of this more as a blog about journalism. Or subjectivity. Or similar.

The first thing I went to this morning was an article by Ross Gittins, hoping for a good budget summary that would mean I didn't have to wade through too many specifics. Here is an extract:

"Swan is worried about the size of the budget deficit and how long it will take to get the budget back under control.

Hence his plans to cut back middle-class welfare by reducing superannuation perks, means testing the private health insurance rebate, and cracking down on abuse of the Medicare safety net. Not to mention hikes in the Medicare levy surcharge.

The trouble with this is it's all a bit previous, as the Poms say. The recession has hardly got started, we have only the faintest idea of how long and bad it will be, but already we're worrying about what we'll do when it's over.

It's as though we're planning the clean-up after the cyclone, even before the cyclone's hit. Surely battening down the hatches would be a smarter idea at this point."

So the general idea is that the Government is trying to cut back on spending too early and still needs to deal with the recession.

Compare and contrast:

"Make no mistake. It is good policy to increase spending in a recession. A deficit is a good thing in bad times. It softens the blow, providing a countervailing force against the downturn.

But it's only good policy if you cut spending accordingly once a recovery is under way.

The Rudd Government has been commendably bold in boosting spending in the downturn.

But it is now exposed to be woefully timid in its plans for cutting spending in an upswing."

So you're saying that the problem with the budget is that the Government is spending too much, because we are in an economic upswing and we should be cutting back?

I particularly like the way the Government doesn't win either way. On the positive side, both these articles were in the same paper- the SMH- which does make me feel better about its objectivity as a whole, and its ability to present different viewpoints. At any rate, I'm a bit confused now, so I leave you to make your own judgements about this budget.


  1. Anonymous13/5/09 20:37

    well surely you know the golden rule: "it's all the fault of the previous government." So now all the little people (like us) are pulling in our debt, and the government is running it back up again, much to the chagrin of Peter Costello, who spent ten years getting the government out of debt.
    See, all simple!

  2. I'm not pretending to know anything about the budget (in fact, being out of Australia at the moment, I have no idea). I do, however, know a few things about journalism.

    Those articles are not news articles. They're opinion pieces, which means the journalists (or commentators, really) can say whatever they want. Hence, two completely different opinions about the same budget. You've gotta love the modern media!

  3. Yes, and it's kind of nice that a paper would print two very different opinions. Although it does make you feel unsure of their legitimacy...