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Political Groundhog Day - Fear as an Electoral Weapon

Monday, 3 June 2013
Author: John Spoehr, The Adelaide Review

Generating fear in the electorate about the policies of your political opponents is a national pre-election past time. The latest is Tony Abbott's claim that Australia faces a "budget emergency". The problem, he claims, is not that revenue has fallen dramatically but rather spending has been excessive. For this reason he indicated that the Coalition would support the Government's proposed budget cuts. In his Budget reply speech the Opposition Leader confirmed that he would establish a Commission of Audit to undertake a major budget review if elected on September 14.

The Coalition's script if a familiar one. It goes something like this.

Labor has mismanaged the Budget and has been spending like a drunken sailor. That's why we backed the cuts in the Federal Budget. Much more will need to be done to bring the Budget back into balance. We will appoint a Commission of Audit to advise how to cut our cloth to wear when elected. Government waste will be eliminated. There are 20,000 more public servants now that there were 10 years ago. We are committed to smaller government, less taxes and individual reward for individual effort.

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