Like many parents, I often reflect on the state of the world we are leaving our children.
As a South Australian, I worry that the jobs and opportunities for my children won’t be available in their home state. After all, thanks to government we can’t even keep the electricity on so it’s difficult to imagine how investment will flow here to create the jobs of the future.
Nationally, I worry about the debt binge of successive governments and the seemingly broken contract of society that Edmund Burke described as being a “partnership… between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
The spendthrift ways of government and households alike will end very badly and that legacy will be felt for generations to come. Asking our children to pay off the consumption debts of today is a moral failing and yet that is what many of your public leaders expect.
Every populist spending demand - from the likes of Senator Nick Xenophon and his allies in the Labor/Green team - in return for passing legislation, adds to our national debt, yet is justified in order to puff-up some egos and fluff some comfort pillows for their voter base.
Last week was a prime example. In return for passing tax cuts, Xenophon demanded a ‘solution’ to the energy crisis in the form of one off payments to compensate for the high cost of electricity. What he never mentioned was that his policy of a 50% renewable energy target and his longstanding ideological support for big-government and uneconomic and inefficient policies has created the very crisis he claims he wants to solve.
Like so many of Xenophon’s ‘solutions’ it involves spending more of taxpayers’ money and increasing our national debt.
How any politician can blithely ignore the state of our national finances and think the debts of the last ten years will be cured by more spending strains credulity. Unfortunately that’s what many of them believe.
They are caught in the ‘if only’ trap. If only we can spend more on (insert your chosen focus group here) everything will be ok. Regardless of the policy area, the lived experience is that whenever government gets involved the ‘cure’ is often worse than the ‘illness’.
Energy policy is a prime example. The irrational political demonisation of coal fired power and the subsidies for renewables has made our power among the most unreliable and expensive in the Western world. The ‘cure’ is apparently more taxpayer funded subsidies.
Despite spending more on education, our measurable outcomes in reading, writing and arithmetic have declined. We now have high school graduates that know everything about gender fluidity but nothing about Western civilisation.
Too many university graduates can’t get jobs whilst too many of us can’t get a plumber because trades training has been spurned in favour of degrees in sociology. Apparently the ‘cure’ is more education funding and diversity classes rather than re-focusing on the building blocks of learning.
Over a third of our national budget ($153bn) is spent on welfare and social security. How did we become a country where so many are reliant on the efforts of others to sustain their lives? The answer to that lays at the feet of our political class. They have sought to solve immediate problems without heed to the more substantive and longer term problems their quick fix creates.
It’s a process that is common to most of the major political players and it is being compounded by the free spending cross-bench that believe greater and more expensive government programs are the key to their political success.
Regrettably, by the time they realise that incurring new spending to paper over their failed previous policy ideas is just an expensive cover-up, either they will have long left the political scene - leaving our children to pick up the cost - or they will yet again blame someone else.
To borrow and redeem the words of one of our worst ever Prime Ministers: “this is the great moral challenge of our time.”
When this false edifice of moral vanity eventually comes crashing down, I suspect it will be left to Australian Conservatives to pick up the pieces.