When Kevin Rudd was elected to take over the country's ultimate job in November 2007, he inherited a sizeable budget surplus – roughly $22 billion, to be precise. Less than two years later, he's managed to turn our nation's hefty surplus into a staggering $22 billion deficit. What on earth did K-Rudd rack up on his credit card to achieve such a feat?!
The Rudd government has been handing out cash like it's monopoly money, with virtually all Australians on the receiving end of a cash bonus in the last twelve months. If his spending habits across that period were to appear on a credit card statement, it would read something like this:
In October 2008, a $10.4 billion entry for the 'Economic Security Strategy' would take pride of place.
The Economic Security Strategy committed $4.8 billion towards long-term pension reform, $3.9 billion in support payments for low and middle income families, $1.5 billion to help first home buyers purchase a home, and $187 million to create 56,000 new training places in 2008-09.
In December 2007, he charged $4.7 billion for the 'Nation Building Package', which injected $1.2 billion into the Australian Rail Track Corporation, brought forward $711 million in road spending to the 08/09 financial year, and invested $1.6 billion in critical university and TAFE infrastructure.
February 2009, however, is where Rudd really let loose. The federal government's $42 billion 'Nation Building and Jobs Plan' knocked things up a level, delivering millions of one-off cash payments to ordinary taxpayers, among other economic initiatives:
- $14.7 billion for schools ($200,000 each school)
- $6.6 billion for 20,000 new housing
- $3.9 billion to insulate 2.7m homes
- $890 million for road repairs and infrastructure
- $2.7 billion small business tax breaks
Shortly thereafter in May 2009 the federal budget was announced, which included $47 billion worth of tax cuts over four years, and a $22 billion Nation Building Infrastructure centrepiece:
- $3.4 billion for roads
- $4.6 billion for metro rail
- $389 million for ports and freight infrastructure
- $4.5 billion for the Clean Energy Initiative
- $2.6 billion for the Education Investment Fund
- $3.2 billion for the Health and Hospitals Fund
- Partnering with the private sector to build the $43 billion National Broadband Network
- $2.7 billion in funding for tertiary education, research and innovation
- $1.5 billion for the Jobs and Training Compact
It's evident how easy it was for the Prime Minister to lead the country into account arrears: all in the all, the total at the end of the credit card statement would amount to $126 billion. It is payable across several years, however, and things could be worse. Rudd's spending spree could pale in comparison to the debts that spendthrift and former PM John Howard might have amassed.
Howard was always a little loose with the purse strings. In 2007, he was criticised for spending $100,000 to refit the government's VIP aircraft to remove a long-range fuel tank – only to reverse the decision a little while later, and spend the same amount again to restore it to original condition.
That same year, he was famously forced to cancel a planned $540,000 taxpayer-funded upgrade to his private dining room in Parliament House, after public outcry over the renovation's exorbitant price tag.
And in retirement, Howard hasn't reigned in his spending habits at all. New figures reveal that he whittles through around $8,560 per week in travel perks, staff, magazine and office expenses – all of which is paid for by hard-working taxpayers.Back to top