A perspective on the budget from Kings Cross

By

12/05/2017

OPINION | It’s not fashionable to speak well of the government at budget time but I appreciate this year the absence of lectures about our sense of ‘entitlement’, coming from politicians whose pension plans are beyond the wildest dreams of ordinary people.

I should probably not express this but I love the tax on banks. It’s odd that the same party told us that a tax on the mining industry was going to end the world, but it is what it is. It is a mystery to me why governments have often been so shy to raise taxes.

If a half-percentage point increase in tax would fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme, then who would begrudge it?

The random drug testing on the poor is well intentioned but nasty. It reveals that what the government understands about the causes of our deeply entrenched social disadvantage is about the same as what Kim Jong-un understands about diplomacy. It’s discouraging that governments know that “getting tough on the poor” is a message that seems to hearten those who point fingers and don’t understand.

I remember life before negative-gearing and I suspect this matter has much to do with the housing crisis of our day. I’m no economist, but I know enough economists to know that this isn’t an exact science, and my hunch might be as good as someone who gets paid to make hunches.

Let’s give ourselves a little bit of room to be thankful that we live in this country and that even the poorest of us eat and get healthcare. There is much to be done but let’s guard against having perfect vision about what we lack while being blind to what we have.

Graham Long is the pastor and chief executive of The Wayside Chapel in Sydney’s Kings Cross. This article is an edited excerpt from his regular ‘inner circle’ newsletter. For more information on how you can donate to The Wayside Chapel, or get involved at an individual or corporate level, see their website.