The voters have spoken. Or at least the pollsters have gathered public opinion that claims to be reflective and representative of the general population.
No one likes the Abbott government's first budget. Probably not even Abbott. Nielsen has a majority of voters, for the first time since these particular budget questions were asked in 1996, believing this budget is unfair (63%).
Most interesting is the shift in opinion on the previous Labor government's "toxic" taxes. A majority now oppose the abolition of the mining tax (56%) and opposition to the abolition of the carbon tax has softened.
Why? Because compared to Abbott's pre-election "no new taxes" and "no cuts" rhetoric, both the carbon tax and the mining tax did appear to be severe economic burdens. But having seen Abbott's economic vision for Australia, voters have realised that two taxes targeted towards the big end of town are preferable than massive cuts to health, education and those most vulnerable in the community.
But perhaps Abbott's playing the long game. The inevitable future "discussion" of increasing the GST has begun. Resistance to increasing or broadening the GST has decreased, perhaps indicating what the electorate is willing to tolerate as revenue measures. It seems voters would rather see wholesale changes to the GST than those most vulnerable in the community left to the whims of the market. There's hope for the country yet...
Whether this budget proves to be "catastrophic", time will tell. What is clear - after two terms of the previous Labor government and 8 months of the Liberals - are three things:
- Abbott has (dangerously) vindicated Kevin Rudd's pre-election "cuts, cuts, cuts and more cuts" rhetoric.
- Labor's next election campaign has been gift-wrapped.
- The electorate doesn't mind pragmatism or tough decisions, but they must be clearly explained and justified.