Headline skewed my view says Tehan

WANNON MP Dan Tehan has claimed The Standard skewed the meaning of his views on why tough federal budget cuts were needed now to prevent the next generation from being left with a huge debt burden.

After a story on Saturday with a sub-heading, Tehan blasts 'selfish' Aussies, a flood of criticism was directed at the Hamilton-based Liberal politician, many of them saying he was out of touch.

The story summarised his long opinion piece on the ABC's The Drum which in part said "the damage will be horrendous and we will go down as the generation that trashed the country on the altar of our own selfishness: the lotus eaters".

He told The Standard on Friday Australia risked becoming a basketcase economy like Greece unless drastic action was taken in the May budget.

Yesterday he said Saturday's headline was "incredibly misleading - it skewed my intentions".

"It did not capture the sense of what I meant which was an appeal to Australians' better nature that we must take action now, otherwise our children will be left with the fiscal burden," he said.

"I was not having a crack at the current generation.

"The blame for our deficit lies with the Rudd-Gillard governments, but the onus of fixing the problem is up to this generation".

However, Deakin University accounting professor Graeme Wines who analaysed Mr Tehan's ABC comment piece said the deficit issue dated back to at least the late 1990s.

"The results are now coming home to roost," he said.

"Past governments of both major parties can be blamed for not exhibiting the level of economic management required in coming to grips with the problems that should have been planned for many years ago."

Professor Wines said Mr Tehan's reference to selfishness effectively blamed the current generation for the ageing population that followed the post-Second World War boom.

"Is it fair to blame the general public when it is the political parties themselves continually offering tax cuts and handouts while at the same time portraying themselves to be responsible economic managers?"

He also said Mr Tehan's comment that the Rudd government stimulus spending wasted an accumulated surplus ignored the positives.

Professor Wines acknowledged a tough budget was necessary to put the economy on a sustainable footing.

"Decisions will obviously not be easy and will require necessary trade-offs between different groups in society," he said.

"But what is inevitable from the past is that it will no doubt be politics that will drive the decisions that are necessary."

Read Professor Wines' opinion piece here 

Read Mr Tehan's article on The Drum here

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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