Budget, smudge-it

Writing the day after Budget night, Barney Zwartz argues that we need a broader perspective than Budget "winners" and "losers". 

Decades ago as a young journalist I learned to read upside down and back to front so I could check the massive trays of type that would become newspaper pages when they went to print. Pretty soon after, the process became computerised and the skill largely redundant, but I am still more comfortable with that than reading a balance sheet or a government budget paper.

How fortunate, then, that other journalists and commentators are competent to interpret and judge yesterday’s Federal Budget so they can tell me what happened last night and what it all means.

But wait, what’s this? “This country is cooked”: Jim Chalmers delivers a “disaster budget for Australia”, says Sky News. But on Crikey I learn that we have the opposite problem, that it’s not a real Labor budget in delivering on its ostensible values. “What’s in here that looks different to what former treasurer Josh Frydenberg would have done?”

The Age calls it “balanced but timid”, while The Australian thinks it’s too adventurous: “Big spending risks inflation backlash, despite surplus.”

It seems the political lens is as one-eyed as ever. Which one to look through? I’ll have to read a variety of commentators to get a balance, but most people don’t have time for that.

Poor Treasurer Jim Chalmers. Not only can he not please everyone, perhaps he can’t please anyone.

What we all need is a broader perspective than Budget winners and losers. We need a philosophy that can guide us decade after decade, not by media news cycle. As usual, the Bible provides this: “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal,” Jesus says. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”