Federal budgets are always interesting because they have the potential to impact so many lives. They also mark the start of the ‘battle of ideas’ that will carry duelling political parties forward for the next twelve months.
This year’s budget was notable for the change in government rhetoric and its obvious focus on the forthcoming election. Whether believable or not, it is refreshing to hear talk of lower and flatter personal taxes, smaller government, encouragement for pensioners and improvement in aged care.
The predictions of surpluses and debt abatement are based on lofty economic assumptions and fantasy tax recovery efforts but it seems to be a baby step in the right direction. So too is the requirement for welfare recipients to pay outstanding fines from their government receipts and lose welfare benefits altogether for so long as they have an outstanding arrest warrant. It’s common sense and it made me question why I didn’t think of it first!
But there are some alarming signs of where future governments intend to take us. Taken in isolation, these initiatives may seem reasonable but when framed around principle they are the portend of much more dangerous moves.
One such decision is the determination to make cash payments in excess of $10,000 illegal.
I perfectly understand that most people will say this is excellent, as only crooks deal in cash payments like that. The government insists it will tighten the tax net. However both claims ignore the principle attached to what is proposed.
A national currency should be legal tender for all debts or transactions in the country of issue, regardless of their size. We already have compulsory reporting requirements for substantial cash transactions but outlawing its use suggests it is only a matter of time before the threshold for cash payments is reduced further or abolished altogether.
People will scoff at this suggestion but the government has every incentive to do so. Making all payments traceable will likely increase tax receipts but it will also enable actions which are untenable to a prudent conservative.
If you are forced to store your money in a bank, then negative interest rates act as an incentive to make you spend what you have or risk having it eaten away by government fees. Mandated bank bail-ins or special levies (taxes) become unavoidable.
However, digital-only transactions are also a massive intrusion on your privacy.
If everything you spend is traceable then so too is what you eat, drink and enjoy. Big data becomes even bigger and it won’t be just advertising you are susceptible to. Imagine the alcohol consumer identified as drinking too often and has their health premiums raised accordingly. Or the book buyer who is blocked from purchasing ‘unauthorised content’.
These scenarios sound Orwellian and that’s because they are. The move to outlaw cash is the start of the effective removal of our right to privacy and the potential ‘Big Brother’ implications are truly frightening.
The budget has seen our government take a step in a direction we should all be very concerned about. However, I don’t doubt that my concerns will be dismissed by the great majority of the political class (and likely the media and public too) but the abandonment of principle has a way of making things worse.
Our current political malaise is all the proof you need of that.
Things that make you go Hmm…
A Perth woman falls victim to a speed camera glitch as a Melbourne driver comes Under Siege at a red light. Queensland farmers lose control of their own trees, there’s fury from Qantas frequent flyers at vanishing points and from Jets fans over this video stuff-up. Made in NZ doesn’t mean what you think, a NSW Liberal branch proposes sharia-style criminal punishment as this Sydney law school introduces sharia for our legal system.
Hollywood celebs ‘culturally appropriate’ Catholics at Met Gala 2018, just like they appropriated Chinese culture in 2015 – yet a US teen can’t wear a Chinese prom dress? Apparently Mr Tickle is now ‘sexist’ and dancing drones have set a world record. Fantasy gold is now worth 7x socialist Venezuela’s bolivar, there’s terror ties in Trudeau’s taxpayer handouts as a burger promotion hits a small hitch. China marx 200 years with a big gift to this German town as the UN deploys an anti-racism envoy - to investigate Brexit.