You think the budget is all about boring productivity measures that affect the economy?
Wrong! Reading the budget is like picking up a rock in the backyard and uncovering a thousand weird little things that try desperately to go crawling back into the darkness.
The business of government is not all sweeping visions, grand statements, Churchill and Chifley. Sometimes it’s about beagles.
The government is going to get some puppies, the budget tells us. It registers an expenditure measure of $12 million for floppy-eared little frolickers (it doesn’t say how many) that will sleep in their government-owned kennels, poop on government-owned floors, lick their government-appointed handlers right on the mouth and one day grow up to sniff bags in Australia’s airports.
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If I were Jim Chalmers I would have made that the budget centrepiece instead of ominous talk of cuts and tax reform — but he’s the expert I guess.
The puppies would definitely have been a better PR stunt than the government’s miserly pronouncement on showbags. No Bertie Beetle for you, the budget tells us! Funding for the government’s agricultural shows development program has been unceremoniously dropped, like a child’s ice-cream from the top of the Helter Skelter, while the agriculture shows and field days funding program has been partly reversed.
Shows are in the dog house, but caravan parks? Caravan parks are where a wise treasurer invests even in a time of great fiscal discipline. Apparently. The government has spent a rather surprising $48 million on a program that includes infrastructure investments in caravan parks. When you’re lying in your tent, listening to the specific slap-squelch noise made only by the pension-aged man on his peregrination from brand new shower cubicle to caravan, you know who to thank: Treasurer Jim Chalmers.
But wait, there’s more!
Casino Beef Week… gets money. While that sounds like free steaks while you play roulette, it’s actually significantly more rural (a farming event in the town of Casino).
Hells Gate… doesn’t get money. The plan was actually not about damnation but a large dam in Queensland that is now not going ahead (probably fine since most of Australia is knee-deep in water by this point).
Seaweed farming… gets money. Help for kelp! Nori for all!
Bitcoin investors… don’t get money. The budget goes out of its way to whack crypto investors trying to be sneaky. Bitcoin is not a foreign currency, you clever devils. So no, you can’t have the tax discounts you’d get if it was. And no, just because El Salvador has adopted it as a national currency doesn’t mean it is one. El Salvador is as much a cryptocurrency hedge fund these days as a real sovereign entity.
Ukraine… gets special treatment. Everything from Ukraine is now duty free! Pickles and vodka all round.
So yes, there’s something in this budget for everyone. You just have to look below the surface.
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