It's about 2 more days until Australia votes to decide who will form the next Federal government. Then we will have to live with the effects of their policies for the next 3 years. I don't want to discuss personalities or concepts of right and wrong - but I am interested in exploring the policies and what they will mean for Australians.
Today the Opposition released their costings for their policies, and one of the big surprises is how they intend to reduce money set aside for foreign aid - to the tune of 4 billion or so, to help pay for much needed infrastructure in Australia, like roads, public transport and the National Broadband Network. This investment in infrastructure will help grow the economy, so we can afford to be more generous with foreign aid later.
I'm sure this is a policy many Australians will shake their heads at. I'm personally dismayed to consider we wouldn't be able to help those who are forced into refugee camps due to Civil War and persecution. Cutting into increasing foreign aid in order to pay for more infrastructure in Australia, seems terribly selfish. And yet choosing where the axe will fall, will surely have to be a trend for the future?
Dwindling fossil fuels, and the eventual demise of the baby-boomer driven economic cycle, will ensure the diminishing return will have to be made up for, in either incurring larger debt, or a reduction in expenditure.
It was refreshing to hear the Opposition talking within limits today, because going into increasing debt to meet financial obligations, is only avoiding what the rest of the world is currently experiencing - limits to growth. We would be borrowing on future Australian tax-payers money in order to increase foreign aid at this point in time, while still not having enough to meet the growing trend in aging population and the health care they require.
As I watched one of the debates between the two main political party leaders, and questions were taken from the audience - I couldn't help but notice how each question centered around how much more money the government needed to spend on various sections of the community. Nurses and caring for the aging, dairy farmers, women wanting to have babies without losing their income, etc. These are all very valid issues, and yet no-one discusses how much is enough. Because in reality, everything we have in Australia is presently balanced through debt we've borrowed from overseas. Will we get a choice as a voting population, once the borrowed money runs out though?
If we're currently experiencing the woes of not having the means to stretch the budget today, how much more will we be lamenting, when we've maxed out the credit? While I loath the thought of the axe ever falling - surely it must fall on something? We cannot have real growth in this country, until we start living within our means. Otherwise we're merely working to pay our debtors.
This will probably be the trend for Australian voters for a long time to come, as comfortable policies are not the way of the future. We are looking at many outside influences we cannot dodge forever. We may have allegedly dodged the recession the rest of the world had to have, but we don't seem to be doing much with it other than dreaming about better entitlements, paid for with continued debt. A technologies innovation much hailed as our economic saviour, even if we do come up with something better than solar panels - they will still have to be paid for by (you guessed it) borrowed money.
What will be left of the world which can possibly afford to buy it from us?
No matter what side of politics talks about growth in the economy, the reality will either be spending less (cuts) or borrowing more (debt). Our family has taken measures to reduce our own expenditure because we haven't always been living within our means. We make our budget stretch with the help of family tax. That particular entitlement could be on the chopping block at a later date, so it's why we have decided to take action to make savings to pay back our debt.
It hasn't been easy, in fact, there has been sleepless nights on several occasions. But it's better to get in and start early, than simply let who gets into government decide for you. Because one day the axe may fall on you. I know both sides of politics tries to avoid that kind of speculative language, preferring us to believe the only boogie-man is whomever is in opposition - we, the electorate are otherwise safe. Which inevitably leads voters to believe there is no down side at all, or there is no downside which could challenge their idea of security - so long as they vote against their perceived boogie-man.
Anyway, in the spirit of giving (if you can) please support the various stalls at voting booths this Saturday, to raise money for charity and schools. These are run by members of the community, freely giving of their time and resources to help a local cause. If nothing else, I think mandatory elections can bring community closer together. We may not all vote the same way, but we all genuinely care for our community.
How are you feeling about the impending election?