The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, seems unaware of the arithmetical system we used to call Six Degrees Of Separation. By this we learned three decades ago that a Niugini cannibal knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who knew the Queen Mother, or Marilyn Monroe, or Lee Harvey Oswald.
Joe has not picked up this titbit. And he thinks that if you get the pension this year at sixty-five you won’t worry much if others don’t get it till they’re seventy, in 2035.
But these ‘others’ include your children, your cousins, grand-nieces, neighbours, fellow club members, fellow members of the church choir or the book club and they will tell you, at Christmas parties and family weddings and bingo nights and Sunday School, how unfair this is, and you are likely after a while to change your vote to Labor, whose pension age beginning limit was sixty-seven.
Joe thinks also that single mothers who work part-time as waitresses will be as glad to get ten thousand for having a baby as will married mothers who are company directors and get fifty thousand for having a baby. No, no, it isn’t so, Joe, it isn’t so. They’d rather, like Oliver, have more.
Joe thinks too that young people ‘encouraged’ to leave their home town, where they live rent free with their mum, to seek work in the big city, where they can’t afford the rent of a car boot, will be glad to do so. A few of them might, but their mums will not. Their mums would rather keep their daughters close by, and not see them flung into danger of prostitution, addiction, murder, three hundred miles away, like my sister Margaret who was killed in Leichhardt at 22. These mums might have voted National or Liberal all their lives, but they won’t any more when a Truss-Abbott government takes their daughters from them. You wait and see.
He thinks too that if he and his wife bring home three million a year to their house in Milson Point they are ‘entitled’ to this. But if a borderline-autistic teenager on a disabled pension does not move away from his parents to seek work cleaning lavatories in a capital city he is not ‘entitled’, Joe says, to the twenty thousand he gets now. It does not occur to him that the contrast of the three million, and rising, to which he, Joe, and his wife are ‘entitled’, versus, say, the eighteen thousand, and falling, that the borderline-autistic teenager now gets will be uppermost in his mind and those of his parents when next they vote, for or against Joe’s party; probably against.
This failure to add in this most basic way is breathtaking; but even more breathtaking is Joe’s unflinching illusion that people are so keen on surpluses that they would give up their way of life, their family home, and their adult children’s proximity to get one.
Let us imagine we left the deficit where it is, and paid interest on it this year. That interest would be two billion dollars. That two billion could be found by not spending, this year, that amount on a jet fighter useless in any war, and next year too, and the year after that. Next year when the surplus doubles we could pay the extra two billion by raising the GST to 10.7 percent, and the next year to 11.4 percent.
And this would leave all the things we like — NDIS; Gonski; the CSIRO; SBS; the ABC; the local Medicare centres; the NBN — unimpaired where they are, with nobody sacked, nobody suiciding, nobody beating their wives but awaiting, as nations do, another windfall, another upturn in trade, another fall of the dollar, or a solar industry or cancer cure that goes gangbusters in markets overseas.
Why is this not more preferable? Why tear up, root and branch, the Federation? Why utterly shred and stomp on Australia? So the word ‘surplus’ can be uttered in Budget night 2030? In an Australia nobody wants to live in anymore?
Why such madness? Why smash up civilisation in the name of ‘surplus’? What’s surplus to me, or me to surplus, that I should bleed for her?
Joe has never asked these questions, nor studied the link between the way most parents vote and the foul things he does to their children, and shows such signs of being a damfool that he will not be Treasurer by August (when Palmer demands his dismissal and gets it) or an MP by Christmas when he ruefully opts with vast wet sweaty smiles to spend more time with his wife’s millions and their young family.
He is as idiotic as that.
And as smug as Costello, without the mathematical skills.
And it’s a pity.