Australian budget fallout deepens political crisis

 

Australian budget fallout deepens political crisis

By
Mike Head

20 May 2017

Less than two weeks after the Turnbull government’s 2017–18 budget was handed down on May 9, it is clear that the crisis of the government and the entire political establishment has only intensified.

Ludicrously presented by the government as “fair” and “balanced,” the budget has been damned by big business as a retreat from imposing its austerity agenda, and derided throughout the media for its unrealistic forecasts of economic growth that would supposedly eliminate the intractable budget deficit by 2020–21.

At the same time, the budget has been met with hostility throughout the working class, where millions of people face higher income taxes, steeper education fees, ongoing cuts to schools and health care, and another brutal assault on the unemployed and other welfare dependents. Even according to media polls, the government is headed for electoral oblivion.

Compounding the instability is the global uncertainty produced by the aggressive “America First” program of the Trump administration and the doubts about the future of that government, to which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has tied his political fortunes. Just days before the budget, and before the crisis surrounding Trump erupted, Turnbull flew halfway around the world for a brief audience with Trump, pledging an unbreakable commitment to the US military alliance.

The budget was a politically-desperate attempt to satisfy the demands of the financial elite for stepped-up cuts to social spending in order to slash corporate taxes and boost profits—as well as Washington’s requirements for higher levels of military spending.

At the same time, the Turnbull government sought to revive its popular support. It abandoned…

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