Tuesday 12 May 2009 at 4:29 pm
Hourann’s Federal Budget verdict: not perfect, but decent, and surprisingly well balanced.
Most of the criticism I’ve read is rubbish — what’s up with Joe Hockey and this “lost control” nonsense, or his constant dummy-spit about taking on some debt? There is a pretty strong global consensus that cutting spending is unwise (witness California, or indeed any American state), and while it’d be lovely and morally pure to remain debt-free, that’s nigh impossible in the current climate. We will at least still be one of the least-indebted OECD members, and unless the recession becomes long-lived and revenues drop sharply again, the proposed debt is quite manageable.
Rather than arguing about how much is spent, though, I think it’s quite fair to entertain criticism on where it’s spent. There is room for decent arguments that this budget does scant little for the environment, that the spending on education is good but not targeted correctly, or that the proposed infrastructure spending is neither big enough nor bold enough. But then again, see above; not going too far into deficit is a pretty important consideration, and on that front I think the general balance looks about right. (Imagine if the spending levels had been Keating-esque!)
Oh, and the budget includes $236 million for the Northbridge Link rail project in Perth (leaving the Sydney Morning Herald to whine on the front page). Again not perfect (it’s not enough to go past Lake Street!), but still, who says the Commonwealth never did anything for WA?
Wednesday 6 May 2009 at 3:09 am
- Sentiment of the moment: “pandemic swine flu, aaarrrggghh”! And in fairness, there is a reasonable risk here, but right now it’s just a tiny problem — so it’s entirely correct to act swiftly to stop its spread (nip the problem in the bud, as it were). But hearing about this has clearly gotten a bunch of people awfully panicked (to the point that I’ve repeatedly been warned to avoid New York?! xkcd summarised this pretty well). Thus it seems the world’s public health authorities are getting better at managing outbreaks, but failing miserably at managing public perceptions and PR …
- Good grief, President Obama has announced a lot of stuff these last few weeks (maybe it’s the hundred-day anniversary thing?). Talk of spending cuts, prodding Congress with its environmental legislation, proposing investment in high-speed passenger rail, and more! It is wonderful to see people getting excited about these announcements — but for now, they are just announcements. I dearly hope some-or-all of these plans turn into reality, because that would be really exciting.
- Looking back at Australia, and to wrap up the National Fibre Spend-fest coverage, I noticed an interesting comaprison of fibre prices — although I suspect the numbers in my last post, rough-and-ready though they were, are more accurate — and it’s interesting to see a defence of the ownership model that Team Rudd are going with. (though, who left the stupid Perth comment?!)
- It so happens that I fly into Perth on the day of the daylight savings vote! And I still think it’s breathtakingly pointless; I mean, c’mon, anyone notice anything wrong with, oh, the economy lately? But still … this is pretty funny (via Rick!)
- I was saddened to hear that the fourth East Asia Summit meeting, due to be held in Thailand, was cancelled (and the accompanying ASEAN meetings were cut short). Not to dismiss the protestors — Thailand is in a rough state and the current government is far from universally representative — but they are screwing with their country in ways that don’t seem to be helping.
- And finally, there’s been a server change around here (yay OpenVM and cheapness!), but hopefully that was seamless from your point of view.