Here’s the nature of the problem. The Treasurer goes to the public service – the very people whose entire livelihoods are financed by public spending – and says to them that the government has a massive deficit that has to be dealt with. And he adds, in the short term, there are only two solutions:
What do you think these self-interested custodians of the public good are going to answer?
Every regulation has a thousand regulators who want to keep their jobs. Every program has ten thousand programmers who like the steady income and their cushy jobs. Much of it is a ponzi scheme in which they even get to set their own level of wages.
There is, of course, the one additional problem. Every regulation has a fan club. Every program has its clients. It is the regulations they have to endure they are really interested in removing. It is programs that don’t benefit themselves they think need to be ended. But there is a kind of everyone defends regulation since no one trusts the market, and removing any public programs threatens all of them so there is a reluctance to see any of them wound back.
Finally there’s the media, especially the publicly-funded ABC, who can be counted on the bag and slag any serious effort at public saving if it is done by a more conservative government.
In sum: where’s the constituency for cuts to spending?