Earlier today, Labor have released a 32-page booklet called â€œ10 Year Plan for Australiaâ€™s Economyâ€, probably because â€œ5 Year Plan for Australiaâ€™s Economyâ€ is no longer considered a thing on the left. Still, a 10 year plan has just about as much substance and as much chance of being realised. On the flip side, I have perused the document and it is my best judgment no kulaks should need to be starved to death during the implementation stage. So thatâ€™s something.
Many pages of â€œ10 Year Planâ€, in between all the big colourful stock photos, which take up most of the space in the booklet, bear an impressive, official-looking seal â€œFully Costed. Fairness Testedâ€. I find this quite reassuring. Iâ€™m not quite certain how fairness is tested â€“ I hope thereâ€™s no lab somewhere out there where cute fluffy bunnies and cheeky monkeys are restrained, immobilised, and subjected to Chris Bowen reading aloud the manifesto over and over again â€“ but Iâ€™m pretty sure that â€œfully costedâ€ doesnâ€™t mean what you think it means.
Apparently the Shadow Treasurer admitted today â€œthe deficit would be larger under Labor in the short term, though he argued that “based on the government’s figures, we would get back to budget balance in the same year as the government, 2020-2021”.â€ Sorry to break it you Chris, but borrowing even more money to pay for all your spending promises (more infrastructure! more on education! small business relief! innovation! renewables! better broadband!) does not make them fully costed. â€œIâ€™m planning to go on a year-long around-the-world holiday trip with two hookers, one blonde, one brunette (investing in recreation!), a private masseuse and a photographer to hold the selfie stick, and Iâ€™m going to pay for it by getting ten more credit cards and maxing them all out. So the tripâ€™s fully costed! And after I return my budget will return to balance!â€ See what I did there? Yeah, it doesnâ€™t work.
As I wrote elsewhere not that long ago (George Bernard Shaw used to say, â€œI often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversationâ€) â€œAny promise or a plan made beyond the forward estimates â€“ and therefore beyond two federal elections â€“ is completely meaningless.â€ That makes any â€œ10 year planâ€ particularly tiresome and pointless, except perhaps as an exercise to further muddy the waters as to when youâ€™re going to deliver all the promised goodies and when the electorate is going to see any outcomes. If you think that a decade has any meaning in politics, remember this: ten years ago John Howard was the Prime Minister, Australia had zero government debt, and Bill Shorten was a private citizen still married to a woman who was not the Governor-Generalâ€™s daughter.
Oh, did also mention that my â€œaround the world with two hookersâ€ plan has also been â€œfairness testedâ€? Iâ€™m designing an appropriate seal right now.