||Issue No. 178||16 May 2003|
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
In Defence of Tom
In the real world, his $4 tax cut, wouldn't buy you a sandwich and milk shake - and even the Daily Tory-graph cut him to pieces for his 'piddling' offer to Australian workers.
But what the Human Smirk's latest fiscal effort did deliver was enough white noise to divert attention from the real issue - the attacks on the universality of health care and equitable access to higher education.
These twin policy assaults amount to a policy victory lap by Australia's most conservative of leaders, a man who now is recognised the leader of the international Right.
The 2003-04 budget will be remembered as the death knell of Medicare, the socialisation of Australian health pioneered by Whitlam and maintained for more than 30 years to deliver care to all Australians.
It will also mark the death knell of the Clever Country, with the sons and daughters of the rich now able to buy their way into universities, while academics are demoted to pawns in an ideological game to kill the award system.
And it does not stop there. Budget 2003-04 continues the conservative party's payback on public broadcasting, with programs and jobs within the ABC slated for closure within weeks.
And while it's Costello's baby, his comic side-kick Abbott's paw-prints are all over it, from a brazen grab for state unfair dismissal laws to another $17 million to prosecute his vendetta against the CFMEU.
Abbott's also emerged successful in his crusade to poison the water on paid maternity leave, with the money required to fund this initiative of Sex Discrimination commissioner Pru Goward now in the hands of the bosses through some deft corporate welfare.
But at the end of the day this is Howard's vision of Australia, a land where government is the problem not the solution and the role of politicians is to pare back services and balance the books. Nothing more and often less.
As the corporate giants like AMP are finding, being run by money men might help you manufacture a decent share price for as long as it takes to cash in the options, but long-term viability requires vision.
This budget has none of that, just an idea of community that belittles us all, a community built on wealth and status where you can buy your way to the front of queue; where your fellow citizens are competitors and where you're expected to be grateful and shut up for a couple of shekels.
We can only extend Amanda Vanstone's ham-fisted food analogy. For working Australians and their families, Budget 2003 is a shit sandwich - not enough bread and lots of crap in between.
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