‘On track’ for a surplus? Not good enough

Temporary deficits have a tendency to become entrenched – just ask the US. If Tony Abbott fails to return the budget to surplus quickly, Australia could face the same fate, writes Chris Berg at The Drum.
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The State, Community, & Society

Chris Berg, writing at ABC's The Drum, scripts the speech Tony Abbott should give. A brief extract:

Red tape, bureaucracy, and the nanny state are eroding away the institutions of civil society that have made Australia great.

Across Australia we have amateur sporting clubs which are dying because bureaucrats have told them they can't serve spectators beer.

Volunteers with the Red Cross can't help make lunches for volunteer firefighters, because they might breach the rigid and extensive food handling codes imposed by governments.

Jam can't be sold at fetes without labels detailing every ingredient. Lemonade can no longer be sold by children on the side of the road.

Street parties are so over-regulated that they have virtually disappeared.

And no wonder. To host a street party you have to go through a mass of bureaucratic hoops. There is paperwork to be filled out, emergency plans to be coordinated, supervisors to be nominated, acoustic engineers to be hired to monitor the decibels of stereo systems, and qualified electrical engineers needed to plug the stereo in.

The Australian government needs to take a good hard look at itself.

That's what a Coalition government will do.

There's too much acceptance that every problem should be fixed by a new law or a new regulation. But those laws are stifling the development of the Australian community.

They're preventing social capital from building. They're forcing the little platoons to disband.

The Coalition will challenge this trend.

A speech I think all of us very, very very much hope Tony would give. Read the whole thing.

I am strongly reminded of what actually is my personal favourite speech in recent years; Peter Costello's  2001 Henry Bolte Lecture "The Spirit of the Volunteer":

I can remember that under some Whitlam scheme the Government began building community centres in local areas. Now, I have nothing against community centres and believe that fine facilities for games and meetings is a good thing. But there are community halls and mechanics institutes and CWA halls in country towns all across Australia. I'll bet that in the early days the citizens in the community came together and built them, physically built them, laid foundations and put up the frame and nailed on the boards. And in later years the community would come together and fundraise and employ a builder to build them. And I'll warrant that if there wasn't a community before the construction started there certainly was after the locals had spent hours together at fetes and raffles and pie drives, working together to realise a common goal which they owned.

And then the Government began building community centres. And this was no doubt on the theory that if you built a centre a community would materialise to fill it. If you build it they will come. Individuals can build buildings but I don't know that buildings can build individuals and their relationships. Individuals with a sense of personal responsibility and a shared experience and a commitment beyond themselves build a community.

And that is a phrase that you don't hear too often in the political lexicon these days:- personal responsibility. There was Henry Bolte at 18, Secretary of the local race club and the church and captain of the football team. He wasn't sitting around in Skipton waiting for the Government to build the community.

We need to remind ourselves that there is a whole sphere of life outside Government. And this is where important personal decisions are made and personal emotions are felt. There is a place where Government ends and the local church, or the family, or the Immigrant Elderly Citizen Association takes over. This is the place of the shared experience and the voluntary commitment. This is the place of the community. This is the place of the volunteer.

Again, I very, very much recommend you click through to read the whole thing.  

(Posted by Timothy Andrews. Timothy Andrews is Co-Founder & Editor of Menzies House, and his personal blog is Musings of an Australian Classical Liberal in Washington DC)