August 20, 2012 | Graham

The future spending gambit as sandbag

I saw this technique at work in the minds of some at the end of the Fraser government. The gambit was that you weighed promises not on the basis of whether they were responsible or affordable, but on whether they improved your chances at the next election, which you didn’t expect to win.

If you lost the election, then your successor was lumbered with the policy. They could either find the money, or wear the odium of dismantling the policy while you scored political points and hope to hold seats you might otherwise lose. If by some chance you won the election, then you inherited these problems, but hey, being in government beats being in opposition.

The Gillard government is racking up an impressive list of policies that they have no easy way of funding. First the NDIS, which the Productivity Commission thinks might add another $6.5 billion net to Commonwealth outlays, and now the Gonski Report at $6.5 billion too.

In a twist on the gambit the government doesn’t expect to fund all of these costs themselves, but hopes to shove a proportion  onto the  states, which just happen to be managed by their political rivals. So added to the benefits they gain against Abbott, they also manage to position the Liberal states as being uninterested in “reform”, as well as providing a friendly public relations field on which to display their care and compassion.

And in the world of CV building it also provides the PM and her government with another dot point on history’s page.

I didn’t approve of the gambit back in 1982, and I don’t now. It’s another sign of a government that has lost the will to govern and is consuming itself with in the quest to secure its legacy and fork its opponents so that in the long game it’s successors get back into power faster than otherwise.


Posted by Graham at 10:49 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. The technique I see at work in your mind Graham is to use emotional and derogatory adjectives when you talk about things you don’t like; and this is a feature of propaganda type writing. Is that what you thought you were doing; writing propaganda or or you telling it like it is?

    I haven’t listed all the negative words you used and I am assuming that you know what adjectives are, right? But I suspect that a number of your readers might not have had the benefits of a good state education that was free back in the day and they might need to google it.

    Do you remember those days Graham when state schools were as good as the exclusive private schools and they really were free? When the kids who’s parents were down on their luck were able to go to school and participate in all that was on offer. How good was that? But so not fair I suppose to those were willing and able to work hard and wanted more for their kids. Oh well it does trickle down doesn’t it?

    But there were some amazing things we, the ordinary people who aren’t good at competing with the best of them, had back then, when Mr Frazer was our prime minister. Clearly though, it must have been the wrong thing that he did when he left those awful policies in place for the next government to carry on with. I guess they didn’t provide some of the foundations for the success that we have now? Like the good things Labor did to bring the economy into line with the rest of the world.

    Oh that’s right, but we aren’t doing all that well are we? Good grief, we have a prime minister who may have done something rather dreadful 17 years ago , but I can’t tell what it may have been, and… she lied! Who would have thought a politician would say something they didn’t really mean? Beyond the pale eh?

    And so, now we’ve got these awful policies that she/they are putting in place that will in no way provide any benefits for our country in the future; of course she/they just want to have their own wicked way and bankrupt us all.
    Graham there are so many good answers to your questions about how we can easily fund investments in our nations future, there are economists out there who can explain it to you. You do need to read more widely and believe in science and truth justice and the Australian way. I think all you conservatives have become postmodernists and are believing in your own narrative. The grand narrative has moved on and you haven’t.
    And I wouldn’t write off this government so quickly; you might be surprised and possibly secretly relieved as we watch with appalled fascination the behavior of Campbell and everybody, except of course those who continue to read the fictional journal called The Australian, thinks OMG this is what a Tony Abbot government will do with just as much (lack of) style.

    Comment by Julie Thomas — August 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  2. Hi Julie,

    Which adjectives are you complaining about?


    Comment by Graham — August 27, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  3. Hi Julie,
    I guess you’re the pot.
    Your tirade comes out of your own bigotry. Your biases are showing. Read the message and find something you can agree with. Sometimes you can improve your own thinking. At the least you may learn something even if it is only tolerance of other points of view.

    Comment by Will — September 4, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  4. There are two ways you could look at the recent policy announcements.

    One is as you have mentioned.

    The other is that many in the Labor party don’t think that an Abbott-led government will do anything to address the serious equity and access problems in Australia’s education, dental and disabilities systems. They therefore bed down some policy before the election, because after that it’ll be another decade before anything will be done.

    Or both, perhaps.

    Comment by Marcus — September 8, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

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