Message to Michael Cullen from Australia. Australian Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan delivered his first Budget, delivering tax cuts, middle class welfare cuts (called by some ignorant commentators "picking the pockets of the rich"), a $21.7 billion surplus ... and this amazing statement: "We have no intention of hoarding the strong surplus for its own sake. This money is not ours."
Bravo! I have no idea whether he meant what he said, (decide for yourself, the whole speech is here) but that's an incredible statement to hear from any country's Treasurer. It would be nice to think Michael Cullen was listening.
And there's a message in the budget too for John Key. Unlike other politicians who fail to realise that tax cuts must be met with concomitant cuts in spending, the ALP's Treasurer pointed out (as the Courier Mail puts it) "the $47 billion in tax cuts had been checked by an equivalent $47 billion in savings measures." Bravo, a second time.
Now, it may be true, as Opposition treasury spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says, that Swan's budget is an "economic con." It may be true that this is all spin -- after all, along with the cuts, there's $55 billion in there for a "Working Families Support Package," and $20 billion for a "Building Australia Fund" -- and in saying that the money isn't his, it was in the context of announcing "a new Health and Hospitals Fund to finance improvements to hospitals and the health care system, and "a new Education Investment Fund to finance skills, TAFE colleges and universities" -- but it's fascinating that this is one Labor Treasurer who at least wants to spin in the appropriate direction, and who looks as if he might enjoys letting people keep more of their own money.