Having just watched Scott Morrison deliver his first budget as Federal Treasurer, I find myself wishing Scott had been Treasurer from the start of Tony Abbott’s government. If Scott had the simplified portfolio of “Money & Boats” (his work to stop illegal immigration was vital, as was his more recent work on welfare reform), the first budget wouldn’t have faced the opposition it did, and Tony Abbott would still be Prime Minister.
While I respect the work Joe Hockey did as Treasurer, there can be no doubt that Scott Morrison is better at explaining and selling these things to the public, and takes a more thorough and forensic approach to achieving outcomes. This is the first time since Peter Costello was Treasurer that I find the forward estimates to be believable. Peter Costello was a masterful Treasurer, Wayne Swan was a quack who seemed to think budgets were just meaningless numbers which got better as they got redder, and Joe Hockey tried hard but had some interesting logical leaps in the further-ahead forward estimates. Scott Morrison, on the other hand, has outlined a plan which uses incentives for business growth and increased employment to chip away at the budget black hole left by Labor’s debt and deficit disaster.
As Scott commends his budget to the House, I commend Scott for his budget. I wish the deficit was cut more and faster, but Scott’s approach seems prudent and practical.
Importantly, this is a fairly conservative budget (with the obvious glaring exception of greatly increased tobacco tax) and it is now up to voters to hold the government to these conservative principles as Malcolm Turnbull is not a conservative and will need to be kept in check. My view on how to do this is that, at the ballot box, only vote 1 for your Liberal or National candidate if they are a conservative, and otherwise vote for other conservatives first and then the Liberal/National candidate slightly further down the preference order. This has the benefit of boosting the smaller conservative parties by getting public funding for your first preference vote, and by either electing a conservative or electing a Liberal or National on the back of conservative preferences, which sends a message that voters want a conservative trajectory for government.
My congratulations and thanks to Scott Morrison. I sincerely hope that he is able to see his economic plan through over the coming years and beyond.