FLEDGLING political organisation The Lamington Party has issued a response to the Gillard government’s 2013 budget, calling Treasurer Wayne Swan’s effort “less Robin Hood and more Sheriff of Nottingham” and “probably one of the weirdest budgets you’ll ever see.”
The centre-left party, founded by Queenslander Jason McKenzie, are campaigning in this year’s federal election on a platform emphasising government support for innovation and sustainable development. The Lamington Party intends on running a number of candidates in the eastern states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
The Lamington Party’s reply to the government’s budget announcement accepted the notion of a fiscal deficit, claiming that it was acceptable as long as government spending was going towards programs that added value to the economy. The Lamington Party said that the government had prepared a “responsible budget”, however that the opportunity to invest in research and development that would increase Australia’s productivity had been missed.
The budget response said: “While it is simplistic to compare a country’s debt to a household’s debt, most financial planners and economists would say as long as the debt is due to spending on value-add activities, such as creating new jobs and infrastructure (or investing in property for households) and providing repayments can be met, a deficit is not a bad thing.
“Whether you agree or disagree with how Labor has decided to earn revenue and spend on initiatives, everyone can agree that this is not a budget that will buy votes. They have attempted to create a responsible budget. We believe that the opportunity for greater spending and incentives for environmentally friendly and R&D (research and development) friendly programs to boost Australia’s competitiveness and productivity was missed.”
The Lamington Party budget response specifically noted that the government had once again deferred meeting the foreign aid commitment of 0.5% of the country’s Gross National Income, as established in the United Nations Millennium Goals. It states that the United Kingdom would this year contribute 70 cents of every $100 earned in the country to foreign aid, while Australia lingered behind with 37 cents of every $100 being spent in this manner.
The Lamington Party said: “the government has continued to ‘raid’ the foreign aid budget by diverting $375 million of funding to domestic processing and support of asylum seekers. Ironically, this makes Australia the 3rd largest recipient of Australian aid. We think it is embarrassing to Australia’s international reputation that other countries, that are still struggling after the Global financial crisis, such as the United Kingdom have been able to meet even higher targets.”
The Lamington Party announced a range of initiatives that they would push to achieve if elected to federal parliament. The budget response supported the fast-tracking of the Houston report’s recommendations that low-risk asylum seekers be allowed to work in order to improve quality of life for the individual and decrease the cost of mandatory detention to the government. The party also suggested a review of the Australian tax code in order to identify opportunities for reform, including the potential broadening of the GST base.
The government restriction of research and development incentives to businesses with a revenue base of less than $20 billion was criticised, with the Lamington Party claiming that the funding cut would drive major companies like Rio Tinto and Telstra to move their research facilities to more financially-attractive destinations off-shore.
The statement said: “The Lamington Party believes that the budget lacks an overarching strategy for the digital economy, with few projects and initiatives to truly benefit Australia’s participation in the digital space. We believe that targeted tax incentives to encourage more small businesses to build digital capacity and capabilities must be delivered, as the digital economy and the NBN is about more than simply connecting Australians with faster internet speeds.
“The Government needs develop new initiatives to educate the public and business community about both the social and economic benefits of a truly digital economy and must encourage related private sector investment.”
Minor political parties do not typically release a response to the federal budget, however the Lamington Party claim that they believe that it is important for organisations campaigning for election to outline both their spending program and how they intend to fund it.