Insiders leads Coalition’s election campaign on economic supremacy

The ABC continues to violate its constitution by boosting one aspect of politics with false info, as Alan Austin reviews.

THE ABC’S FLAGSHIP present affairs program, Insiders, included an intriguing trade on Sunday 6 March. This helps clarify why most Australians, based on opinion polls, erroneously consider the Coalition manages the books higher than Labor.

Presenter David Speers introduced authoritatively [46 minutes, 14 seconds]:

“We saw growth figures for the final three months of last year. They were strong — 3.4%. The Government is hoping to get the focus as much as they can onto the economy. It’s got a good story to tell in terms of growth and unemployment.”

This follows Speers enthusiastically endorsing the Morrison Government’s financial credentials on 7 November final yr:

“The Prime Minister is urging us to move on and you can see where they want to spend the coming weeks and months… on the better news we are seeing on the economy. The Reserve Bank this week had some pretty rosy forecasts… roaring back to life, unemployment dropping back to 4%, steady increase in wages.”

There was no detailed dialogue of the financial system in final Sunday’s program, however visitor Amy Remeikis managed to cite in passing the Liberal Party’s fixed speaking level about Australia’s financial system being “one of the strongest in the world”.

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Actual financial progress lagging badly

The Government doesn’t have a great story to inform about financial progress or jobs. Nor on wages. That quarterly determine of three.4% progress in gross home product (GDP) introduced on this month’s ABS nationwide accounts is poor, given the latest previous.

Yes, 3.4% quarterly progress could be nice in regular occasions. But this consequence follows unfavorable 1.9% within the September quarter, unfavorable 0.3% in March 2020, the appalling unfavorable 6.8% in June 2020 and flat numbers from 2017 to 2019.

To restore the financial system, Australia actually wanted quarterly GDP progress in December of 5.4% and an annual rise of 6.2%. Minimum.

Given the sturdy international restoration from the COVID-19 recession and Australia’s booming exports, 6.2% annual was an inexpensive expectation. That would have put Australia again into the OECD’s prime ten, the place it has traditionally been positioned.

Greece, Hungary and Poland expanded greater than 7% in December. Israel, Estonia, Croatia and Turkey superior greater than 8%. Columbia, Slovenia and Malta surged greater than 10%.

In distinction, Australia’s annual progress was simply 4.2%, rating twenty eighth within the OECD, near the bottom ever. That just isn’t a great story.

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Dismal employment information

Similarly, on jobs, the truth is disappointing. Yes, the headline 4.2% jobless appears passable. But a number of uncommon contingencies distort the image.

First, the collapse in migration has decreased the variety of folks with jobs and with out jobs. So whereas this has generated decrease jobless charges, it has additionally led to document job vacancies and decrease productiveness.

Second, low common hours labored monthly makes the roles market look more healthy than it’s. Hours labored per grownup monthly have traditionally stayed nicely above 86.

Between the restructure of the financial system within the Nineties and the arrival of the present Coalition, the bottom common hours in any calendar yr was 85.6 in 2001. That was in the course of the early 2000s international recession. Not dangerous. The lowest annual common by the Global Financial Crisis was 86.8 in 2009. Impressive.

This measure has since collapsed badly, tumbling to 84.8 in 2016 and simply 81.9 in 2020. The newest month-to-month quantity, for January, was 79.4 — the bottom January determine on document.

Thirdly, now we have seen the inexplicable enlargement since 2015 in public service jobs by 464,000. That is 3.4% of the workforce.
Yet, even so, Australia’s headline jobless fee of 4.2% ranks a lowly fifteenth within the OECD, decrease than beneath any earlier post-war authorities.

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Press gallery in unison

On the 6 March program, the Insiders panel agreed with David Speers that the Coalition manages the financial system higher than Labor.

The Guardian’s Catherine Murphy stated:

“I think you just described it. Obviously, the Government will point to the data.”

Network Ten’s Peter van Onselen went additional:

“It’s a straight-up launch pad for the Election, just like last time. I guess that [Scott Morrison] hopes he can land it the way he did last time… It’s whether that works or not. And these things are not based on fact. They are usually based just on fiction.”

It is true that the Coalition’s financial status is predicated totally on fiction, extra so over the past eight years than ever earlier than. Lists have been printed right here at IA and elsewhere of fifty financial outcomes since Scott Morrison turned Treasurer that are the worst since data have been stored.

These embody:

Not all these occurred in the course of the COVID-19 recession.

So why achieve this many skilled journalists, together with some with the nationwide broadcaster, unfold the furphy of Coalition financial prowess? Do they really consider it? Or do they settle for Insiders is now the Liberal Party Hour? Either method, that is unhealthy for democracy.

Alan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can observe him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

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