The first time I took an interest in a Federal Government Budget was 77 years ago when I had to write an essay about it at High School in Toowoomba. I knew so little about Budgets of any kind that I barely scraped a pass.
Since then, I must report that I have never ever seen a Government Budget that everyone thought was the right one. Indeed, voters are usually split somewhere around 50/50 in their opinions of its worthiness, no matter what type of government is in power.
This year has been no different.
I have known Jim Chalmers for 15 years having first met him when he was the key economic adviser to Wayne Swan and played a considerable role in deciding Australia’s response to the Great Financial Crisis. We have kept in regular contact down the years and I was greatly honoured when he launched my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS at a function in Brisbane two years ago.
He has put an enormous amount of work into this current Budget Update and I know that he firmly believes in its capacity to work for Australia. I also know that he a person of honesty and integrity who will readily admit to any errors of judgement that he may have made and do something about fixing them if he believes that criticisms are valid.
The main criticism in the public arena has been that there is little of obvious significance in the Budget to directly help pensioners, people on fixed incomes, and those who have not had a wage rise, to handle the widespread ravages of inflation and huge rises in energy bills. I feel for them mightily but I can’t see a way to solve that problem until inflation comes under control. The key issue for us to understand is that inflation is not a domestic issue for Australia alone. Every nation in the world has been hit with it and it already has caused some political casualties, eg, former British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, who totally misjudged it.
My view is that, while the Ukraine War initially created some inflation, it has been grossly fuelled by far too many businesses using inflation as an excuse to unjustifiably put up prices and lie to us that inflation was the cause. It is one of the purest examples of greed I have ever seen. Quite disgusting.
Nevertheless, there were many good things in the Chalmers Budget such as in the area of child care and paid parental leave, flood relief etc.
This brings us to an important point for debate.
Must governments do everything for us. Do they need to control and dictate our lives and how much should we determine for ourselves? And in what ways are we personally responsible for our neighbours. If there are struggling pensioners in my street, should I take them some food as often as I can? The answer is YES.
I remember the dark days of the Great Depression of the 1930’s when my mother took meals to friends who were unemployed and there was no dole to sustain them. I was her helper in cooking and delivering, even though I am certain she would have done much better without my amateur efforts.
So it is that Australia’s most urgent need is to have strong caring communities and it is our calling to create them wherever we live. And to ask Jim Chalmers to back us in every way that he can when the next Budget arises in May 2023. State and Local Governments must do likewise. They share responsibility with the Feds and ourselves.
I hope you will find time to enjoy reading my book DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS. It tells the story of how the Australian Constitution was written in the 1890’s and implemented in 1901. It forecasts that we now need many changes to it that will enable us to adapt to a totally different world 120 years later. For example, if we had only two levels of government instead of 3, Australia would have much more money to provide for the needs of pensioners. If we had a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME embedded in the Constitution, then no one would ever be in need or left behind.
We face a challenge right now. We know that we live in a world of huge change and I reckon that Jim Chalmers has the ability and humility and decency to help us face those changes and lead us to a better quality of life that gives us the opportunity to shine as good citizens. Let’s keep him on his toes while he walks with us towards the light on the hill.
And keep smiling.