On a mission to upset everyone

Having upset the rich with their ‘debt levy’, and with 72% of people thinking it a broken promise, Abbott and Hockey are on a mission to upset the rest of us by re-indexing the fuel excise.

Richard Denniss told the 7.30 Report that the tax was good policy.

Sinclair Davidson told Waleed Aly that if you must tax, then taxing consumption is better than taxing production. The fuel excise taxes consumption. He forgets that sole traders (like me) driving a ute or a van would pay the tax. Nevertheless the LNP backbencher Ken O’Dowd in the linked article appears to be wrong:

A Federal Government MP has spoken out against plans to raise the fuel excise, warning it will force up the cost of everyday groceries.

Farmers and miners don’t pay fuel excise. That tax concession is worth some $13 billion, which the Greens would like to abolish.

Davidson also pointed out that fuel excise was a regressive tax, it disadvantages the poor. Those with time to ring up are letting Mr O’Dowd know:

“The phones haven’t stopped, especially with our older folk. We got off on the wrong leg, talking about increasing the pension age, I don’t think it was explained too good. It really concerned a lot of old people that they were going to lose their rights.”

It hardly matters now what the budget detail turns out to be – the damage has been done.

Meanwhile company directors are losing faith. Only 30% of company directors expected the new administration to have a positive impact on their business decision making, down from 70% when the LNP took over. Furthermore:

This loss of confidence has also translated into a fall in the proportion of directors who believe the Federal Government understands business – from 55 per cent last year to 48 per cent now.

Fully 80% say that achieving a budget surplus in the next three years is not a priority.

Wayne Swan says he left the budget in good shape. Chris Bowen has been saying that Joe Hockey has doubled the deficit by changes to Government spending and changes to Government assumptions. The ABC FactCheck verdict:

Since the election, the official forecast deficit has doubled. The economic assumptions are different from those used before the election, and spending decisions have been made that were not in the previous forecasts. Mr Bowen’s claim checks out.

Here’s the table that tells the story:


The PEFO of August 2013, prepared independently by Treasury and Finance, shows a surplus for 2016-17. Leaving aside Hockey’s moral austerity crusade, it does appear that he has confected the crisis.