Watching Costello on 7.30 last night reminded me of why the Howard government was so popular in the early years.
He espoused a principle that many Australians appreciate. Fiscal responsibility.
Howard’s government have come under some scrutiny recently with the IMF releasing an international study which charged Howard with reckless spending. Costello defended his budgets admirably. What seems to be neglected in the reporting of Howard and Costello’s ‘reckless’ spending sprees is the amount of public pressure they faced at the time to give the money back to the people. How they went about redistributing the wealth the government had accumulated is up for critic. What is not fair, I think, is to suggest they should of saved more money. Not when the public voice to redistribute that money was so loud. We live in a democracy and they followed the will of the people.
Costello’s statements hit a chord in me. He emphasised the need for the books to be balanced. There is no reason why they could not be. I, amongst many, felt the ‘tough decisions’ that Labor have made in budgets since the stimulus was released have been more based in rhetoric than reality. Labor has failed to manage the economy. They have however pushed through much needed funds into social services such as education and health. I begin to despair that it just may not be possible for a government to prioritize public services and the economy simultaneously. Is it the case that we need Labor to pump money into the public service and then the Coalition party to fix the economy while extracting funds from the public purse? At present, it seems so.
Gillard rubbed salt into the wound today by announcing an extra levy on all Australians to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Costello’s words still ring loud for me. The easiest cuts to make are for services not yet implemented. Why are we spending money we have not got? It seems that Labor needed a Costello in their camp to reign in some imaginations and remind the party that services have to be paid for. Swan has shown himself as being incapable of doing this.