In his re-election speech, Scott Morrison is insisting on several talking points that are overwhelmingly refuted by the facts, as Alan Austin reports.
IN THE LEADERS’ FINAL DEBATE last week, Prime Minister Morrison looked straight into the camera at Australian voters and said:
“The Coalition took six years to clean up the fiscal mess of the previous government. We rebalanced the budget.”
He made an impressively straight face for two of those blatant whoppers. Simultaneously, his opponent, Labor leader Anthony Albanese, rolled his eyes with a pained half-smile and countless economists and others shouted “Liar!” on their television screens. The moderator, Channel Seven “journalist” Mark Riley, steadfastly refused to point out to viewers what he knew to be the case: that Morrison’s claims were false.
The worst fiscal deterioration in the developed world
Australia’s fiscal position for most of the Labor years was the strongest in the world. Budget deficits were among the lowest in the OECD. Australia’s debt was the third lowest for most of Labor’s term. Credit Suisse recorded Australia’s average wealth per adult as the highest in the world between 2009 and 2013.
The unemployment rate hovered between the fourth and eighth lowest in the OECD for most of Labour’s term. Australia got its first AAA credit rating from Fitch in 2011. The Australian dollar soared.
All key outcomes have plummeted since 2013. The unemployment ranking has fallen to 14th. Budget deficits have deepened disastrously. The debt explosion is greater than in any developed country except Costa Rica. See the green box below.
“Economic management is critical for the future of the country”
This is the only key message that is true.
“The Coalition handles the economy better than Labour”
All the data from the OECD, the IMF, Credit Suisse, the World Bank and elsewhere amply refutes this, as do I.AN has continuously reported.
in collaboration with meANthe website Friendly Jordies: The Facts now has a documented list of over 160 independent economists, world leaders and other authorities who have claimed that the Australian Labor Party handled the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) better than any other government.
“Australia’s economic recovery is leading the developed world”
We now have annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth figures for the December quarter of 2021 for the 59 highly developed countries listed by the UN Development Program. Australia’s modest 4.2% growth ranks 43rd. Nowhere near the leaders.
Under Labour, Australia’s GDP growth was primarily in the world’s top ten and number one in 2009.
COVID Recession vs. GFC
Morrison claimed in all the debates that “Australia has been through the most difficult period since the Second World War” Y “The COVID recession was 30 times worse than the global financial crisis.”
These are ridiculous claims. The global recession of the early 1980s and the oil price shock recession of the early 1990s lasted longer and caused much more damage. The GFC was much worse than all of these.
Through the GFC, only one developed country avoided a negative quarter of annual GDP growth: Australia. Twelve nations faced between one and five reversals. Most suffered between 6 and 14, while four economies suffered more than 14. See GFC chart below.
In contrast, the COVID-19 recession ended within a year for all OECD members except Austria. See the COVID chart below.
Yes, the negative quarters in the COVID recession went deep. But the recovery was quick. France, for example, suffered a quarterly drop of 13.5% in the second quarter of 2020, the worst recorded in history. But it fully recovered the next quarter with a huge 18.6% gain, erasing the losses instantly.
Or we can look for jobs. France already has a lower unemployment rate than it did in December 2019, before the pandemic. Impressive. But it has not yet restored the jobs lost by the GFC. This is the case for 15 developed economies, mainly in Europe, including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Spain, Austria, Luxembourg and Turkey. All of these have recovered the jobs lost in the COVID recession, but have yet to fully recover from the GFC.
Allowing Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to get away with the ridiculous lie that their challenge was “30 times worse” that Labor is one of the most cowardly failings of Australia’s current crop of corrupt economic reporters.
“The Coalition has always delivered lower taxes”
Chief ministers routinely claim that Labor is the highest tax party, a charge that has been false since records began. To his credit, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers bluntly refuted Josh Frydenberg in the recent National Press Club treasurers’ debate.
“Well, the Treasurer just lied to you. In every way taxes are measured in Budgets, this Government has taxed more than the last Labor Government. That’s just a fact. They have taxed more in total, they have taxed more as a percentage of GDP, they have taxed more per person, and they have taxed more adjusted for inflation. So that’s a lie. And we have to call him when we see him.”
By the way, Chalmers shouldn’t have had to do that. Media organizations, especially the Press Club, should alert audiences to blatant hoaxes. Every minute a candidate spends verifying bogus facts is one minute less to advance his or her policies.
“We are investing a lot in infrastructure”
No, they are not. Spending has decreased substantially under the Coalition. The largest infrastructure investment relative to population was by Kevin Rudd, closely followed by Julia Gillard. They are followed, in order but far behind, by Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Morrison and John Howard.
“We have one of the lowest COVID mortality rates in the world”
That was true in the early months of the pandemic, but not now. Australia’s death toll for 2022 is 206 per million, ranking 142nd out of 224 countries, not by far the lowest. In the Asia-Pacific region, a far cry from the epicenter in Italy, only South Korea has fared worse this year. See the gray chart below.
“Workers are weak on national security”
All the evidence is to the contrary. Under the Coalition, relations have deteriorated with China, other trading partners, the Solomon Islands, and most other regional neighbors. The Coalition has drastically cut the aid budget. They sold the Port of Darwin to China, which is emerging as a potential adversary. They squandered more than $5 billion on an abandoned submarine contract, and other waste and procurement delays were confirmed.
When we carefully analyze the core narratives of the Coalition, the opposite of their claims is almost always true.
Alan Austin is an Australian freelance columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaaustin001.
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