Economic vandalism

Tony Evans


Tony Abbott is looking after its mates and leaving everyone else to look after themselves. Pensioners, the sick, and students are amongst those targeted for harsh treatment in the budget, while tax breaks for the wealthy are left untouched. Worse still this government is sacrificing future growth for its own narrow, selfish ends. The $30 billion cut from education spending over the out years in the Budget projections will leave future generations underskilled.


Equally important are the cuts that are little talked about – cuts to spending on science and research and support for industry development. Together these cuts equate to a further $5 billion that is pulled out of funding for the country’s future, leaving our industry structure reliant on the boom and bust mining sector, threatening the living standards of all Australians.


This is economic vandalism of the first order. As prominent business specialist Goran Roos warns, future living standards at risk as Australia faces further de-industrialisation and loss of economic complexity.[1] A tax system that cuts out unproductive rorts would enable genuine welfare needs to be met and fund a increase in government direct expenditure on R&D to improve long-term industry competitiveness in high value adding goods and services.


Since the election in 2013, reports from the Productivity Commission and the Commission of Audit have been used to justify a ‘flat earth’ approach to economic and industry policy. An alleged ‘budget crisis’ has been conjured out of nothing to justify the Abbott government’s proclamation that the ‘age of entitlement is over’ as cover for its cuts to welfare payments, support for science, and other industry assistance. ‘Overly generous’ workplace agreements were criticised as ministers sought to shift the blame for job losses in manufacturing onto the victims. Wage cuts are called for, for the young, for workers in depressed states, and for those working on weekends. It was suggested that workers who took time off to make blood donations were bludgers.


Abbott’s tactic of blaming the victim was working until the budget, but now iseems to be unraveling. Much has already been written about the government’s cuts to pensions (which would see people forced to work until they are 70), health, and education so these notes will concentrate on the reduced spending on science and research and support for industry development set out in the budget.


Industry

The cuts to research and science spending include reduced funding going to the CSIRO and other public sector research organisations. The funding for commercialisation of new ideas and processes is ended, as are ten different programs supporting apprenticeships and skills development, along with programs that sought to improve the financing of technology start ups, and support for the hundreds of local parts makers in the Automotive industry.