A treasurer afraid of budget cuts is the real political 'bedwetter' | OPINION

THE high-wire arrogance of some politicians is breathtaking, but the anonymous Liberal MP who labelled colleagues reticent about a GST hike "bedwetters" takes the cake.

Any Liberal MP faced with the prospect of increasing the GST from 10 to 15 per cent — that's at least a $35 billion hit to Australians' hip pockets — is right to be nervous about a furious voter backlash.

But this is not, as Labor seems to believe given the tenor of its noisy no-GST campaign, because the electorate is so simple we oppose any increase in any tax.

The fact is successive governments have managed to increase budget outlays from a low during Paul Keating's time as Treasurer of 22 per cent of Australia's economic output to more than 25 per cent for the coming financial year.

That's an increase in budget expenses from $135.5 billion in the last year of the Keating government to an estimated $475.4 billion for 2017‑18.

Adjusting for inflation the numbers may not be as bad as all that, but when you factor in the collapse of government revenue from an economic slowdown and a ballooning of government debt, the real political bedwetter is the Treasurer without the guts to cut future outlays.

Although Treasurer Scott Morrison has form for using the term "bedwetter", he's not owning up to the accusation about his colleagues which appeared without attribution in the Financial Review.

But nor has he criticised it.

He seems intent on letting a debate about a GST hike rage while neither major party has the guts to take the axe to the budget.

So far Mr Morrison hasn't had the guts to come out and tell people he supports it, even though he's "considering" the option.

It would take real guts to go to the election expected later this year with a budget we could afford, by taking a real political risk and spending less of our money.

As Mr Keating said this week: "If you give a dog a bone, they’ll bury it; if you give the political system $35 billion, they’ll spend it".


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