Senator Richard Di Natale is the Chair of a Senate Committee that has been set up to scrutinise the work of the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit.
The Senate Inquiry is injecting some much needed transparency into the commission's process for developing recommendations, it is testing the underlying economic assumptions that guide their work and it is examining the real impact of cuts to services.
The Greens understand that the budget is about more than just getting the numbers right. We are making a choice about what sort of country we want to live in. We can create a caring society where people can see a doctor and get an education regardless of their bank balance. We can make sure the needy and vulnerable are cared for and that profitable businesses genuinely pave their way. Or we can cut the services that Australians rely on while continuing the largesse to the big end of town.
The commissioners have been handpicked from the business sector and the Liberal Party. Unions, welfare groups, academics and the community sector have been deliberately excluded.
The terms of reference that guide their work are narrow, focusing almost exclusively on government expenditure and deliberately excluding the revenue side of the equation. The Treasurer has claimed that spending cuts foreshadowed by the government and the Commission of Audit aren't based on ideology and that the state of the budget is forcing their hand. But budgets are always about values and choices and by choosing the players and writing the rules, the government has rigged the game to get the outcome it wants. And no matter what Joe Hockey says, that is all about ideology.