I would have cut out the $3 bil or so wasted on the insulation program.
Obviously others disagree, but I still reckon that was a pretty good idea for an economic-stimulus program. Clearly it was very poorly implemented though.
The $32b (?40 ?50) for the broadband network
1) A rare example of a truly innovative and forward-looking piece of government policy
2) Importantly, not an expense, but rather an investment. If you "cut" this you'd actually be hurting the long-term budget position, even if you just look at the investment case and ignore the social / economic / etc benefits the NBN will bring.
And for the record, the project cost was originally $43b, which has since been revised down to $35.9b with the Australian government contributing $27.5b of that.
$16 bil on school renovations
Again, I personally think this was a good idea for needed (at the time, based on what was going on worldwide) economic-stimulus. And before you trot out lines about wastage, etc, do what not many people have bothered to do and read the Auditor General's report into this program (http://www.anao.gov.au/uploads/documents/2009-10_Audit_Report_33.pdf - for the cliffnotes read the "Overall conclusions" section starting on page 14) - it's not all positive, but overall it is.
But I completely agree that winding back Howards middle class welfare is a small step in the right direction.
I'll finally agree with you on someting here ;-)
Now it probably will surprise you to know I am from the left side of politics - which puts me left of most people in the government. But I am sick to death of overly complex tax/rebate/subsidy/cap/benefit/penalty systems. Every $ that people earn should be taxed and everyone should be entitled to a good health and education system. The current merry-go-round is a waste of space and the only positive aspect is the number of people it employs to maintain it. Of course it would be better for Australia if they were actually producing something.
I don't think your view is all that surprising - there is no inherant incompatibility between being "left leaning" and wanting government efficiency / simplicity, or wanting social support to go to those who actually need it, etc. Being on the (moderate) left side of politics (which is also what I'd identify as) is about believing in social welfare / justice / etc - and a more efficient government should equal these goals being more efficiently delivered upon.