As of today, Australians will be running around like chooks with their heads cut off, thigh-deep in media analysis of last night’s federal budget: What the Budget Means for You.
But it will be a temporary madness, fortunately. It always is – or almost always. The big exception was the budget brought down by our previous PM and his cohorts amidst loud proclamations that ‘the age of entitlement is over’ – which to them meant that the poor are lazy buggers who needed to get their acts together and the rich should be rewarded for their diligence.
A lot of the measures in that budget never made it through the Upper House, the PM in question was ultimately shuffled off to the back bench by his own party and the Treasurer was lured away from politics altogether with the post of Australian Ambassador to the US, thus ending our very own foray into Trumpery.
There will inevitably be those who hate the budget. This time, it’s those who recognise that this budget takes the wind out of the Opposition’s sails by addressing issues of health, education and infrastructure in a manner likely to please voters, and pleasing voters never pleases the Opposition when it’s in Opposition.
Oh how I hate politics! Not because I am dedicated to a particular party and desperately want them to win. On the contrary, I am a proud swinging voter. No, my problem is a hopelessly outdated sense of idealism. I want politicians to be honest, honourable, and committed to their constituents and the overall good of country – and it ain’t gonna happen.
I blame this unrealistic attitude on my parents, who brought us up to believe in things like honour and honesty, and lived in the belief that while there is bound to be the odd rotten apple in any barrel, leaders were, on the whole, to be respected. Today is my father’s birthday. If he were still alive, he’d be 112, which possibly says it all.
I realise of course that high aspirations are a lot more widespread than used to be the case (when we all knew our place in society and stuck to it like good kids), so it’s inevitable that Getting to the Top requires more ruthless determination than might have been common among our forebears. And staying at the top in politics demands a well-developed ability to manoeuvre, manipulate, satisfy, sledge and (let’s be honest here) bullshit.
But acknowledging it doesn’t mean I have to like it.