At the start of the election campaign federal environment minister Greg Hunt came here to announce $50 million in new projects to boost water quality, including efforts to keep sediment, fertilisers and pesticides off the Great Barrier Reef. This announcement was partly to allay concerns over research showing 93% of the Reef had been bleached and dire predictions that the Reef will be dead in 25 years.
Remember last year when federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, picking up where Joe Hockey left off, declared that we had a spending problem not a revenue problem? That seems like a long time ago now.
They did try to increase revenues by floating an increase in the GST but soon after came the revelation that 600 of Australia's biggest companies paid no tax and hundreds more pay less that the 30% they could be paying. This is all the more galling when you consider that the rate has been cut from the 48% it had been in the early 1980s. And then came the Panama Papers!
The release of the Defence White Paper in February reveals the Malcolm Turnbull government sees engaging in a regional “arms race” and securing its borders as far higher priorities than guaranteeing our healthcare system, quality public education, housing and welfare entitlements.
While this thinking is nothing new and continues the trend of successive governments — both Coalition and Labor — the Turnbull government added an extra twist, in quarantining the defence budget so that it is protected from cuts if revenue decreases.