As predicted, the Coalition’s budget surplus is a fairy tale, a projection based on “fancifully optimistic forecasts” that also provide the cash (on paper) for some vote-buying tax cuts. Paddy Manning challenges the idea that middle-income earners are “winners” when they are given a pre-election tax cut: “as anyone who has ever struggled with addiction can attest, there comes a point where the temptation is accompanied by a knowing fear: the empty thrill of another hit comes with full foresight of the difficult battle that will follow to give up all over again. Australia is at exactly that point: the sugar-hit in the polls from a tax cut the country can’t afford will be weak and short-lived, and followed only by more grinding frustration.” And the ABC’s Michael Janda has another budget metaphor — that we are now holding a time bomb that is set to explode in 2024: “That’s when the vast bulk of the Government’s already legislated income tax cuts kick in. Tax cuts that overwhelmingly favour higher income earners and cost the budget tens of billions of dollars.” Labor agreed to pass those laws, but promised to repeal them after the next election — a stupid and short-sighted promise because it can’t predict the makeup of the Senate. We need leaders who make the case for strong revenue to support strong investment in our communities.