The treasurer signals the end of “crisis spending”. Did he look outside?

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set to declare the era of ‘crisis spending’ over when he presents his fourth budget tonight.

Things are looking rosy with an unemployment rate of 3.75% set to arrive in September and Australians spending far fewer billions on those in need of social benefits. What a victory!

The treasurer thinks the era of “crisis spending” is over. Did he look outside?

And a shadow budget responding to cost of living pressures is not what is needed to deal with the future, especially with inflation rising (to 3.5% over the past year) much more faster than wages (2.3%).

One wonders if the Treasurer has actually looked outside, or perhaps checked his social media feeds lately, to see those still recovering from – and suffering heavily from – the floods.

Does he still consider the positive COVID-19 numbers, as well as the number of deaths in states and territories, and the flow of families who continue to move in and out of isolation?

Has it heeded urgent calls for more funding around domestic violence support services, particularly for trauma-based services that seek to work with those directly affected by rising violence household in the past two years?

Has he turned to Northern Rivers in New South Wales, where residents still without homes or businesses following an unprecedented flood crisis just weeks ago are being ordered to evacuate again, just today?

Has he turned to those on the front lines – elderly social workers, early childhood educators, nurses – who all continue to be undervalued, underpaid and overworked, and threaten further marches and protests to get a better deal?

Did it take into account the salary and experiences of all workers in the care sectors – who are predominantly women – and indicated the burnout and difficulties in continuing in their work, including the 73% of educators who have announced their intention to leave?

These are workers who may not be “out of work”, but who lack the energy and money to meet the rising cost of living.

Ahh, but the crisis is over, says the Morrison government.

There’s this unemployment rate on the way, which is expected to be the lowest number in 50 years.

And all thanks to a “remarkable” post-pandemic recovery, according to the treasurer. One that has nothing to do with luck, but everything to do with economic management – as he puts it: “the result of a clear fiscal strategy to save jobs and bring the unemployment rate down to historic lows “.

The Treasurer spoke of the 701,000 Australians who no longer receive unemployment benefits.

The economy has recovered, the Morrison government wants to believe. Although it has never responded effectively to the various crises that this country has experienced over the past two years.

Australia has been unable to respond effectively to victims of the flood crisis for weeks.

Australia – largely through egos and political infighting – has failed to effectively deliver meaningful engagement and input on climate change, or ambitious targets to drastically reduce emissions – despite that country being at the heart of the crisis, experiencing unprecedented flooding and bushfires during Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s last term alone.

Australia has been unable to successfully fund the current need for domestic and family violence support services, including crisis accommodation and counselling.

Australia has been unable to curb rising rates of homelessness among older women, despite being ‘leading the world’ and, in the words of the Treasurer, recovering faster than most major economies.

So far what we know of the Treasurer’s 4th Budget and the Morrison government’s plans just a week before the election is a strategy based on directionless splashes of cash, aimed at coping with the ‘cost of living’ while trying to hide the many failures of the last three years.

A one-time cash payment of $250 to retirees in a matter of weeks, as if that would solve anything.

A 10-20% reduction in fuel excise duty to meet the rising cost of gasoline over six months, a band-aid solution that should save households a few hundred dollars.

A $58 million commitment around endometriosis to support women’s health – funding that looks suspiciously like funding that had been previously committed.

$52.3 million in funding for Lifeline Australia – over FOUR years. A boost, certainly, but not significant given the growing dependence on these support services.

An envelope of $189 million over FIVE years to “strengthen prevention and early intervention” in matters of family, domestic and sexual violence.

Meanwhile, defense spending is expected to soon hit $50 billion a year, or 2.2% of GDP.

Compare that $50 billion figure to everything else.

Just think of the $10 billion over two decades that will be spent on an undersea base, alongside the pathetic $1 billion over nine years that will be slated to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which has just been hit by another massive coral bleaching event, the six such bleaching events and the first to occur during La Nina.

But there is no crisis remember. Not with this brilliant unemployment rate.

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