Within the next few days, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to announce a 2 July election which, based on the Federal Budget, he says he is “quietly confident” of winning.
The PM has told news sources that on 2 July Australians will have their chance to decide who will be the country’s next leader, and he believes the election will be won based on which party has the better economic policies.
“I’m quietly confident that the Australian people will give us another term in government, but you can’t take anything for granted and it’s a two-horse race and it’s a choice,” said Mr Turnbull. “It’s a choice between me and Bill Shorten.
Claiming Budget 2016/17 is not a short-term fix aimed at garnering votes in the next election, Mr Turnbull firmly believes that voters will back the Coalition based on its financial policies.
“We’ll be going to the election with a positive national economic plan,” he said.
However, even members of the PM’s own party aren’t so sure that will be the case, saying this budget was a “fudged opportunity”. Whilst it does the Coalition no major disservice, according to departing Western Australian Liberal MP Dennis Jensen, it’s “a budget that essentially does nothing”.
It seems that electioneering has already begun, with Mr Turnbull wasting no time in attacking Labor’s policies. The PM has also called out Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for trying to start a “class war” because of Labor’s disapproval of the Coalition’s new income tax policy, the lowering of the company tax rate and its treatment of what is to be considered ‘small business’.
“They’re arguing that people who earn $80,000 a year are rich,” he said. “Labor doesn’t want them to benefit from a tax cut … that the type of war of envy, the politics of envy which absolutely stands in the way of aspiration and enterprise and growth.”
The PM is expected to announce the 2016 Federal Election on Friday or over the weekend.
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Now that Budget 2016/17 is out of the way, the next step for the Coalition is securing government for the next term – and the PM may have a couple of aces up his sleeve to help his party over the line.
The Coalition’s cards are all but on the table – all except that mysterious $1.6 billion in expenses for “decisions taken but not yet announced”. These expenses are as yet for unknown budget announcements, but many are referring to them as a ‘war chest’ to be used to fight the upcoming election. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has confirmed the ‘buried coffers’, but has played them down as ‘something governments do’.
And he’s right. In the past, most governments have set aside funds to help them in an election war. In fact, the Parliamentary Library has tracked this occurrence over the last 12 budgets, and says it’s nothing out of the ordinary.
But Opposition finance spokesperson Penny Wong feels the Government may be up to something, and expects there to be some last-minute “nasties” it is currently trying to hide from voters.
So, with the Coalition’s financial policies outlined in Budget 2016/17, the Opposition has its chance to do the same today, with Labor Leader Bill Shorten due to make his party’s case for election in his budget response tonight.
It is expected that the Opposition Leader will announce taxes and savings measures that will fund spending on services such as health, education, renewable energy and housing affordability, as well as an increased tobacco excise and superannuation changes. But, no doubt, he will also take a few pot shots at the Government for its budget being “fundamentally unfair” to the working class and instead prioritising big business over good old Aussie battlers.
Malcolm Turnbull’s claims of being “quietly confident” of winning the next election is bold, but it may be premature. With the lowest Government Confidence Rating since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, the Coalition may have more of a fight on its hands than it is publicly acknowledging. And if the PM’s intention is to clear out seats to refill them with more ‘malleable’ MPs, then he may receive a rude awakening. According to Roy Morgan Research, if Australia went to the polls today, it would most likely result in a hung Parliament.
The Coalition is, as usual, doing all it can to look after its wealthy constituents, at the expense of the less well-off – including older Australians. As Debbie McTaggart points out, the changes to super do very little for retirees and the PM’s youth jobs plan, whilst commendable, will, if successful, further reduce employment opportunities for older workers. If you had the option to pay someone $4 per hour over paying a minimum wage to an older worker, what would you do?
And say what you may about Bill Shorten, he has solidified his party into a force to be reckoned with, he’s a seasoned campaigner and Labor’s policies are, let’s just say, a little more focused on improving conditions for the average Australian.
As far as the PM hoping to win off the back of this budget? Well, as far as political pundit Barrie Cassidy is concerned, Scott Morrison’s first budget won’t help – that advantage will have to come from elsewhere.
Either way, the battle lines for the next Federal Election are being drawn. Stay tuned for more political pantomime involving scare campaigns, policy attacks, and ‘he said, she said’ daytime soap-styled electioneering.
Do you think the PM is right to be confident of winning the next election? Would you vote for the Coalition based on its budget? What would Bill Shorten have to do to get your vote? Do you think that the Government is justified in holding back $1.6 billion for ‘pork barrelling’ marginal seats at the 2016 Federal Election?
Budget 2016/17: Is that all there is?
What’s in the budget for you?
Budget 2016/17: Super changes for high income earners
Budget 2016/17: Reducing the tax burden
Budget 2016/17: Targeted welfare safety net
Budget 2016/17: Crackdown on multinational tax avoidance
Budget 2016/17: How will the new tax changes affect the individual?
Budget 2016/17: Government to invest a record $50 billion on infrastructure
Budget 2016/17: Scott Morrison on a fairer super system
Budget 2016/17: Making super fairer and sustainable
Budget 2016/17: What’s in it for retirees?
Budget 2016/17: Is that all there is?