If you don’t think it is fair to call the budget a “Labor lite’ version, maybe you would settle for ‘Labor zero.’ This does not ignore in any way the slew of unconscionable measures that accompany the sudden resurgence of spending on health and education, but there certainly looks to be a deliberate effort to reduce the differentiation between Liberal and Labor in several areas. It is also a pretty obvious departure from the last three budgets that focused on cuts to services and seemed to be largely crafted for the benefit of Coalition shareholders (you can call them political donors if you prefer, but the term shareholder seems more accurate to me).
Budget time is not like Christmas, where everyone gets something they want. It is just the time where the government announces how it will tweak its expenditure and revenue processes. There will always be people who feel they have missed out. Remembering how far to the right the ALP has moved in recent decades, anyone claiming that a Labor budget doesn't make cuts or miss anyone out is being revisionist.
In light of how badly national debt has exploded under the Liberal Party’s supposedly austere and responsible stewardship (far worse than can be explained by their failures to fully pass their budget savings measures too), a change of approach is beyond due, but these altered priorities seem far more a response to the pressure from the opposition, the electorate and the government’s disastrous poll numbers. But that isn’t a bad thing either. We can’t really complain that the Liberal Party is out of touch with voters (which it is) and also ridicule them when they try to respond to voter concerns.
I’m not going to criticise Turnbull and Morrison for their sudden willingness to invest in health and education, no matter what I suspect their motives to be. The ‘Labor lite’ part of the budget is the best part. The Coalition is still a nasty self-serving party that will continue to set policy that benefits the wealthy and their naked disdain for the less fortunate is still readily apparent in impractical ideological measures such as drug testing welfare recipients, the economically indefensible cashless credit card and reducing government assistance to refugees. Meanwhile the 50 billion dollar corporate tax cut has risen to 64 billion. These policies are anything but ‘Labor lite.’
There is plenty to criticise this government’s budget for, but I won’t complain that they have moved back towards the centre an inch.