Sunday, May 20, 2007

Electoral uncertainties

John Howard failed to get any bounce in the polls from his big election budget. Experts are still uncertain why, but at least one straw poll suggested that many Australians are pondering the idea that we should be putting humanity before the promise of economic growth. Particularly apt as few of us really benefit from the economic growth.

The fundamental battle now is between the Feds who control money supply, of funding, and the states who are in charge of delivery. That at least is those areas which the Feds have not yet usurped. But when it comes to handing out the cash the Feds are unable to simply hand it over without strings, and refuse if the strings are refused.

When we complain about health services the Feds are quick to shunt the blame to the stats. Yet in the recent budget Federal funding for hospitals allowed for 5% growth when the actual growth needs are 7.5%. Presumably they can then blame the states for poor spending habits.

The big funding mismatch has occurred because state funding comes from consumer taxes which are falling. The feds are benefiting from corporate taxes, thanks to the country’s current resources boom. But they are using that money for their own political purpose – our money for their use at a time when there is so much infrastructure need.

Instead of tackling some of the more thornier problems of Federal and state overlap the Feds are intent on playing politics and allowing vital services to run down. It is still too far out to call, but voters are now talking about social and environmental issues being at the forefront of the agenda.

Typically, come election time, the economy will rise to the top of the heap again. But it is tempting to think the growing cynicism in the electorate might just hold out for a change. Tempting, but perhaps not very realistic.

4 comments:

Kvatch said...

Typically, come election time, the economy will rise to the top of the heap again.

But social concerns and the delivery of vital services are often closely intertwined.

You'd think that the Howard administration would see the writing on the wall and divert their attention to services as a bulwark against too small a parliamentary minority. If things are looking dire, begin the work to regain power in the medium term. I'm sure that this is how the GOP is looking at '08 here in the states.

reality-based educator said...

Pay off the voters right before the election, then cut services afterwards for all but your closest cronies.

Ahh, victory.

Kvatch said...

Pay off the voters right before the election, then cut services afterwards for all but your closest cronies.

Ahh, victory.


Rb-E... And people say you're a cynic...sheeesh! ;-)

Cartledge said...

LOL, I'm with the cynic. Howard first said the poll numbers were just a joke. Now he's saying he doesn't have a rabbit up his sleeve.
The fact is a real allocation to social issues would go a long way, but he won't risk the States getting the glory from ‘his’ money.
Sadly I feel he might still pull through in the end.