The Government promised a “dull” budget but that’s a promise that’s impossible to keep.
A Government is such an enormous and diverse enterprise that it’s always up to something that will make you shake your head in surprise.
Here’s the five strangest things announced by the Honourable Joseph Benedict Hockey in the 2015-16 Budget of the Commonwealth of Australia.
1. Emergency response to banana freckle
When Banana Freckle strikes, you better believe the government reacts. The fine yellow skins of this nation’s fruits shall not be flecked while our apparatus of government stands idly by! The emergency response to eradicate banana freckle is in train, and so it is that the Emergency Plant Pest Response levy will be activated, as of 1 July 2015. This, and a range of other levies (on honey and chicken meat) will see $3.4 million flow through the Department of Agriculture each year.
2. Bathurst 200 Commemorative Flagstaff Project – contribution
The good burghers of Bathurst want to raise a bit of cloth into the sky? Let’s help them buy a flagpole! At $300,000, it’s a snip.
3. Stronger relationships trial – cessation
If you wanted the government to pay for you and your partner to talk out your problems, bad luck. That ship has sailed. If you got a voucher for federally funded marriage counselling before February and haven’t used it yet – good news. The Government will honour your purchase. But if your relationship hinges on a $200 voucher, then maybe that’s a sign… Saving: $17.2 million.
4. Official Histories of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor
Does your mahogany-lined library have acres of embarrassingly vacant shelf-space? You’re in luck. Taxpayers are funding a six-volume official history of Australia’s engagement in Iraq, Afghanistan and a one volume history of Peacekeeping in East Timor. The histories will be produced after the appointment of an Independent Official Historian. With funding set at $12.7 million, historians around the nation are urgently revising their resumes.
5. Release of superannuation for terminal medical condition
Does the generosity of our political establishment know no boundaries? The benevolent public servants who oversee superannuation have made a significant concession. Previously, terminally ill people who could get two medical specialists to confirm that they were likely to die within a year would get unrestricted access to their own superannuation. Now that time scale has been extended to two years.