Everything old is new again. It has taken 20 years but federal Parliament is back for an August budget session. It’s as if Ralph Willis had never started that funny May business. And this time we don’t need one of those ridiculous budget lockups to keep us in suspense about what’s in-store. This time the negotiations about what’s in and what’s out are being played out in public and we are still none the wiser about the economic outcome.
What fun it is to have a proper minority government. Not like that last one where Labor, the Greens and a couple of independents stitched things up in private before hand. This Liberal-National coalition is letting us see the legislative sausage machine at work with all the crude ingredients that a Palmer United Party can throw in. Parliament, or at least the Senate half of it, is really relevant again.
The government is doing its best to spice things up as well. We go from a looming budget crisis to being relaxed and comfortable about the inevitable outcome. The Education Minister Christopher Pyne threatens one day to cut research funding for universities so the Prime Minister can assure us the next about the vital importance of university based research to the nation’s future.
And as if that mixed message was not enough for the start of a budget session, the Finance Minister Mathias Cormann this morning was still preaching his fears of having to raise taxes while Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that his government would be reducing taxes not putting them up.