My, What A Big Package You Have


Ever since his election, Kevin Rudd’s reign has been epitomised by one word: stimulation. He stimulated our enthusiasm for democracy on election day; he stimulated our sense of justice with his apology to the Stolen Generations; he stimulated our love of minor policy adjustments and interesting hand movements with every sure-footed, evidence-based step he took; and now, finally, he has got around to stimulating the economy.

The Government’s $42 billion stimulus package is probably the most ambitious and sweeping public spending program since 1974, when Gough Whitlam bet the entire Commonwealth Budget on black, and is the sort of development that can restore people’s faith in politics and make them feel that for once in their life, they have more money than they did yesterday.

It is true that when we voted in Kevin Rudd, we anticipated a better future. But we had no idea just how good it was going to be. We knew the man-gods of the Rudd Government would act in our best interests, but we didn’t know that they were actually going to regularly give us large sums of money.

The stimulus package gives $950 to every worker earning up to $80,000, as well as $950 for every school-age child, and $950 for single-income families. This means that a working couple could receive $1900. If they have two children in school, they will receive $3800. If they have seven children in school, they will receive $8550, and if each of those seven children also has a job, they will receive $15,200. Polygamous families and patriarchal religious cults are the real winners here, while the losers include childless businesspeople and, as usual, the rich — modern society’s whipping boys.

Self-funded retirees are also losers, and not just in an economic sense. One is forced to reconsider the advisability of the concept of superannuation when you consider the devastating tsunami of whininess that super has wrought upon our country. Every time the Government gives anyone a break, these saggy, prune-faced old nuggets come out in force to write about seven million letters to newspapers bitching about how they never get anything and killing our buzz. A cautionary tale for those who support life-prolonging advances in medical care. But I digress.

What to do with our windfall? Some plan to spend their $950 on a holiday, or a home entertainment system, or a highly skilled prostitute. I have one friend who plans to buy 95 packets of cigarettes, which will not only make him popular and likeable, but it will stand him in good stead when he lands, as we all must, in prison. Yes, we all have our dreams, and this stimulus package will help us a little way towards each of them.

Which is why it is so horrifying to see Malcolm Turnbull, a member of Her Majesty’s Parliament, a man sworn to the service of the Australian people, vomit on those dreams. Turnbull has decided that the Coalition will vote against the stimulus package. According to him, the level of debt is "too high". Well, I say Turnbull is "too high" — too high on the intoxicating fumes of being an idiot.

Thank you very much, Malcolm Turnbull. Thank you for your efforts to bring the economy down in a screaming heap. Thank you for your attempts to ruin all our lives. Thank you for trying to rob me of a PS3. Thank you right to hell.

Said Turnbull of Rudd’s proposal to extend the Government’s line of credit to $200 billion: "That is a $9500 debt for every Australian, a debt our children will have to pay off years into the future". Yes! That’s exactly the point, Malcolm! Our children will have to pay it off! Not us! OUR CHILDREN. That is the beauty and the genius of Rudd’s plan. It offloads our debt onto our children, thereby making the package completely consequence-free! It’s amazing that Turnbull can publicly acknowledge the plan’s greatest strength, and yet still oppose it.

All of that is why we can thank the good Lord that we don’t actually need the Liberals to get this package passed. We just need the minor parties and independents. And oh look, who’s this skipping into view? Why, it’s Senator Bob "Let’s Destroy Our Way Of Life" Brown, all ready to throw a big hemp-flavoured spanner in the works. Brown has decided to delay the legislation so that the Senate can "scrutinise" it.

So here we are, all ready to be stimulated. Kevin has whipped out his $42 billion and is waggling it in his sexiest way, we’re lying back breathlessly, waiting for it, and suddenly Bob Brown steps in and says, "Oh no, we can’t stimulate you yet, we have to sit around and have a big girly talk about it".

Here is what Brown fails to grasp: we are on a war footing here. Australia is, quite literally, at war with economic badness. Now think about war for a moment. Imagine yourself in World War II. Hitler is rampaging across Europe, slaughtering millions. You’re about to set out to stop him, when Bob Brown pops his head up and says hang on, don’t set out for Normandy yet, we have to scrutinise these bombs to make sure they’re appropriate. Bravo.

Now I’m not saying that Bob Brown is a Nazi sympathiser — I leave it to the readers to connect those particular dots — but there’s no doubt that it is frustrating to have a wonderful package held up just because one man wants to examine the bill and insert a clause to subsidise solar-powered bird-feeders. He also misapprehends the basic nature of the Senate. The Senate is not meant as a house of legislative review. As per the Constitution, it was set up to give a voice to impractical leftists and religious zealots.

Look, I know the package isn’t perfect. Fairfax columnist and self-described politics buff Peter Costello has pointed out that the stimulus represents a seismic shift in approach by Kevin Rudd, who only last year was pushing the virtues of cost-cutting and fiscal conservatism. And it’s true, the change in attitude is slightly startling. It’s almost as if — don’t laugh — in the past year some massive, globally devastating economic development has occurred, rendering the policies and strategies of a year ago inapplicable to the current situation. So that’s a bit of a mystery.

But we shouldn’t quibble over Kevin Rudd’s wild irrationality. Would we rather a stable, steadfast prime minister who practices fiscal restraint, or a schizoid, maniacal prime minister who gives us 950 bucks? Assuming you’re not the worst kind of moron, the choice is pretty clear.

So don’t be put off by smug, marsupial-faced plutocrats and their calls for discipline, or weedy little tree-fondlers’ procrastinations. The stimulus is coming, and it’s going to blow your minds. Open your wallets, and brace yourselves.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.