Schooling the major parties

Today in Parliament, Abigail contributed to a farcical debate over Labor's idiotic election promise of not introducing new taxes and the Coalition's motion addressing it.

Abigail said:

Many stupid things are said during elections, but there is nothing quite as stupid as saying "no new taxes". It is so very stupid that I am genuinely surprised that it could be so easily eclipsed in its sheer idiocy by a motion calling for a party to stick to such a stupid promise more than a year down the track. Let me break it down. Very simply, the Government's budget is bounded by revenue. Some of those revenue sources are relatively stable and predictable, while others are impacted by unanticipated peaks and troughs. Some are more easily within the control of the State Government, like State taxes, whereas others are not, like Federal payments. On the other side of the equation are the expenses paid out by the Government.

Similarly, the amount of expenditure a government chooses to make changes over time depending on the circumstances, not just the changing priorities and policies of the party in government but also as a result of the general economic conditions we find ourselves in. As a general rule, a fiscally responsible government will spend more in the bad times—at a time of natural disasters or a global pandemic, for example—and save more in the good times. The height of the mining boom would have been a good time.

The idea that parties entering an election can control reality for the next four-year term is absurd. That somehow they can ensure no unexpected economic headwinds and guarantee no change to policy based on new events, learnings or change in public sentiment is absurd. The notion that a government should limit itself in its fiscal management when it has not even been elected yet, and then sit stubbornly for four years not changing anything despite the passage of time and an entirely different set of circumstances having presented itself, would not just be wildly economically reckless and a complete abrogation of its duties to the people of New South Wales but would likely lead to it losing at the next election for being just so utterly moronic. That is why no party should ever say such a stupid thing in the first place.

Even if we could freeze time, why on earth would anyone endorse the concept of no new taxes? Did Labor seriously think that the Coalition Government's tax settings were the absolute best they could be? Labor wanted to try to win an election against a sitting government by saying that it would not change a thing. Did it think that it would not then go through the State finances with a fine-toothed comb and work out who should be paying a fairer share towards the bottom line so that others in more need can benefit from a lower burden? Greater taxes overall mean more available for services for those who need it most. Greater taxes in one specific area can be a smart way to pay for lower taxes in another. Labor knew that and yet it still said the stupid thing. Even worse, it allowed this even more brainless motion to shame it for that.

 

Read the full debate in Hansard here.

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