There has rarely been an election where the parties are so far apart. September 2013 will shape the nation for the next decade. So let’s imagine its already September 2013. What will the economy look like and what will have been the issues that grabbed the nation?
My fear is that the election will have been about a government wanting to take the axe to those with large superannuation balances versus an opposition wanting to achieve its additional revenue via a substantial reduction in the public service as state and federal functions are rationalised (Abbott's controversial new foundation for Australia, January 29).
But first, how will the economy have changed by election day? By September Australians will have realised that the mining investment boom is winding down, particularly in coal. More coal mines will have shut and the impact of the looming rise in global energy supplies on our tax revenues will be better understood.
There will have been at least a couple of interest rate cuts as the Reserve Bank tries to stop the dollar rising further. Dwelling prices will be stronger but the capital strike by business will have continued. Currently few are seeking funds for expansion or modernisation. Unemployment will be creeping up.
In this environment job security will be an issue so Julia Gillard will attack Tony Abbott at every opportunity to raise fears that he will make made retrenchment easier and slash conditions. She will also attack Abbott’s lack of costing in an attempt to flush out the substantial public servant cuts involved in the Abbott rationalisation of state and federal activities. Public servants will want Gillard to be re-elected so there will be many 'leaks'. This will be a vicious game which may decide the election.
Treasury has always hated superannuation – particularly self-managed funds – and it looks like they have convinced the government to take out the axe to tax free benefits to the middle class. Abbott will duplicate Gillard’s WorkChoices fear campaign with a widespread superannuation attack fear campaign.
Abbott’s plan is to slash the cost of commercial building (not housing) by ending the agreement between large builders and unions, which sees unions control who can be sub contractors and have great powers in running building sites.
Abbott does not want to attack superannuation because he wants the money to fund his massive infrastructure plans on the back of the lower building costs.
Gillard wants extra money for schools and disabilities and can’t reduce the public service so is being shown superannuation and other middle class benefits.
Abbott has an amazing set of small business policies, and with the help of Queensland (and Victorian) plans, Abbott will revitalise small enterprise and create new jobs (Abbott's enterprise masterplan, January 30).
He will sell this message hard but Gillard will say it's bringing back WorkChoices by the back door.
Gillard's strongest state is Victoria, but she is forcing the Victorian state government to close hospital beds by slashing funds and blaming the state government. Abbott does not yet understand the power of this issue in the Labor heartland. In New South Wales the local ALP problems will deliver many seats to Abbott. Business expects Abbott to win, but there are no certainties in elections like this.