THE trust deficit Australia's politicians are racking up with the public has never been worse, says a man who has brought current affairs into our living rooms for half a century.
Former 60 Minutes presenter and Current Affair host Ray Martin was in Grafton on Monday on a charitable mission with the organisation he is a patron of, The Humpty Dumpty Foundation.
The foundation, founded around 2008, has raised more than $40million for hospitals around Australia and Grafton Base Hospital has received almost $100,000 of lifesaving equipment from the foundation.
He said the fallout from last week's budget was only making matters worse.
"It used to be politicians were just above journalists and used car salesmen in their public standing, it's got to be much less than that now," he said.
"On both sides, the trust in terms of promises is gone. You can't say no taxes and give taxes and say no carbon tax and give a carbon tax.
"Especially now with the media. I mean in the old days we didn't remind them. Now there's the video tape of what Tony Abbott said.
Mr Martin finds the attempt to evade responsibility for broken promises particularly galling.
"The comments are absurd, I don't know who they think we are," he said.
"You read the cartoons and editorials of papers who were heavily behind the Coalition are now attacking them mercilessly, with both barrels.
"You can't call black white or white black or pretend it's something else."
He believes recent gov-ernments have lost sight of the core principle of a democratic society.
"Governments only have one role: To look after people who can't look after themselves," he said.
"Most of the rest of us are law abiding, we pay our taxes, we don't drive too crazily. Mostly people are law abiding.
"You need governments to look after people who are in need and it's the general consensus from those who know that those most in need are going to be most affected.
"And that's a terrible state of affairs, even if we have to fix the budget."
Mr Martin said governments needed to back up their austerity measures with action if they wanted the community to believe them.
"Joe Hockey said we're paying $500million to hold the G20 Conference. $500million for a talkathon," he said.
"It's a previous government decision and the Liberal Government have decided to go ahead with it. $500million. Imagine how much that would do for this hospital. That's for a talk-athon that will do nothing."
Mr Martin does not buy the notion taxing the rich will kill the economy.
"For the life of me - and I'm part of it - can't see why people who make good salary can't be taxed accordingly," he said.
"They can afford to pay a lot of money and yet they're not.
"There's some belief that you'll stop spending if you hit the wealthy with tax. It just won't happen."
In the USA business and wealthy families might pay low taxes, but there is a long-standing tradition of philanthropy, which Mr Martin would like more Australians to embrace.
"America has this tithing principle of 11% and if you can't give the money you can at least give some time," he said.
"We don't do philanthropy that well, it isn't part of our culture."
He said Sydney leads the way as Australia's most generous city.
When they were doing fundraisers for Chris Masters and RedKite (a fund that supports kids with cancer) they raised $1million with 400 people in Sydney.
The next Saturday night in Perth with 700 people, all they could raise was $200,000.
"Sydney, as much as it's LA and Glitz City is very generous."