Election 2016 open thread

The election campaign grinds on, and we are not yet half way there. In this post I look at some of the claims being made on the economy, and it can serve as an open thread on the election.

The Coalition has made a big play on jobs and growth, plus Labor’s said recklessness and inability to manage the economy, finding huge ‘black holes’ in their costings. Of course, Labor is yet to supply it’s costings, which in 2013 the LNP only released on the Thursday before the election. So, always helpful to a fault, they’ve done Labor’s work for them.

Problem is, say Labor, it was a litany of fiction and lies. For example:

    Labor’s foreign aid policy as announced by deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, was costed by Labor at $224m. In a disingenuous mathematical distortion, Morrison and Cormann suggested it was in fact $19b because of a bipartisan target of getting foreign aid to .5% of gross national income.

Tony Bourke:

    “Now, let’s make no mistake here: Joe Hockey had a reputation for making errors whereas Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann are not stupid people.

    “They know exactly what they’re doing; these are not accidents from the two of them.

    “They know the information they are giving the Australian people is wrong, but they intend to give it anyway because they believe they can get away with it,” he said.

The instrumental ethics of Turnbull is staggering. Anything goes to achieve power.

If you think I’m just being partisan, Peter Martin says ScoMo and Cormann’s effort was a ” triumph of hope over experience” and “much of it was fiction. He says these guys should not take to figuring when they don’t have the Public service to do it for them.

Laura Tingle says they must be getting desperate and Morrison and Cormann were left with over-egging all over their face.

The LNP have a tradition of finding ‘black holes’. Can you spot the Beazley black hole of the 1998 election?


It’s that last tiny deficit, coming out of the early 1990s recession.

Stephen Koukoulas has researched the economic competence of every government back to Whitlam’s, and has found Labor governments superior in both jobs and growth. There are some surprises – how well the Whitlam government performs, for example.

The LNP always wants to sweep away the GFC as though it never happened. That’s why the Rudd-Gillard government looks ordinary in absolute terms. When Koukoulas benchmarks our performance against the US economy, Rudd-Gillard actually comes out best of all:


Finally, Koukoulas has also looked at three promises made by Abbott which weren’t delivered.

Abbott claim No 1

    In the campaign launch Abbott said: “We’ll build a stronger economy so everyone can get ahead.” He added: “I want to lift everyone’s standard of living.”

Abbott-Turnbull achieved about 2.5% pa growth, the same as Rudd-Gillard without the GFC.

Abbott claim No 2

    “We’ll get the budget back under control by ending Labor’s waste”. He added, “By the end of a Coalition government’s first term, the budget will be on-track to a believable surplus”.

What happened?

    Unfortunately for the Liberals, its third budget confirmed a three-fold increase in the budget deficit, a blowout in net government debt to the highest level in 60 years and government spending as a share of GDP above 25.2% in every year, to outpace the level of spending of just 24.1% in the last full year of the Labor government in 2012-13.

Abbott claim No 3

    “I want our workers to be the best paid in the world and for that to happen, we have to be amongst the most productive in the world”. He added, “I want to see wages and benefits rise in line with a growing economy.”

The result?

    The bad news for the Coalition and the electorate is that annual wages growth has weakened to 2.2%, the lowest for 50 years. At the same time, overall productivity measured as real GDP per hour worked has fallen in the past year. Low wages growth and faltering productivity are among the most serious shortcomings of the last three years of Coalition economic management.

Con-artists and duds, surely.

36 thoughts on “Election 2016 open thread”

  1. I meant to mention that Michael Pascoe, a financial journalist I respect, talking on local radio the other day, said that even when Treasury/Finance do the budget projections, they are virtually meaningless after the current year, because reality mugs the forecasts. Problematic, because the budget works on four years and we are increasingly being given 10-year projections.

    It’s a dilemma, because pollies should be planning longer term, its just that the tools are not there to do it accurately.

    Chris Bowen and ScoMo are debating at the Press Club today. Peter Martin says he would rather they talked about purpose rather than figures.

  2. Three press comments on budget stuff.

    First Laurie Oakes, who said the Morrison/Cormann show in attacking Labor’s costings was “shamelessly shonky” in “using bodgied-up costing figures” for which they were rightly ridiculed. If it nevertheless had some success and was deliberate “the price was high. It erodes trust in the Treasurer, despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declaring that the election is about trust.”

    He then goes on to say Labor was “just as bad”, for a botched attack in 2013, and this time withholding the fact that they couldn’t restore the school kids bonus and the age pension criteria change.

    Oakes is trying to look ‘balanced’, but the ‘black hole in the black hole’ was a good line .

    Second Laura Tingle has two informative articles Labor shrinks ‘black hole’ by another $11bn while Libs flag new spending and Morrison vs Bowen – the sun is going down on tax reform. Too much to summarise here, but restoring the school kids bonus would have cost $4.5 billion, and the pension entitlements a further $3.6 billion. Significant money.

    She also said that some of Labor’s revenue measures, like negative gearing, would yield little at first, but more in the out years.

    I think this means that when Labor’s costings come down the first four years won’t look too flash in terms of deficits and budget balance. Tingle says this is a risky strategy.

    Third, Phil Coorey in the AFR has a very even-minded look at happenings. He says the LNP is ahead on talking points, as

    all the barely-switched-on voters were hearing as the election punctuated their busy lives was “billions”, “black hole” and “Labor”, reinforcing already entrenched negative perceptions.

    He thinks without a strong desire for change the election is Labor’s to win and there is a mountain for them to climb.


  3. A new poll from ReachTel has Labor pulling ahead to 52-48. That isn’t enough to shift the poll aggregations to any significant degree, and the race is still in the marginals.

    However, I found this better than I’d expected:

    It found 47.4% of voters said they most trusted Labor to manage the economy, slightly more than the 44.6% when the poll asked the same question last week. 52.6% said they most trusted the Coalition, down from 55.4% a week ago.

  4. Michael Gordon has an informative and perceptive article on how Bill Shorten changed himself this year.

    I think Gordon is right in picking the negative gearing announcement as the point when momentum changed. At that point Turnbull went feral, and has been sloganeering ever since.

    Shorten reckons it’s easier to remember your lines when your values line up with those of your party. Turnbull leads a party fundamentally divided.

    Neil James, the Plain English Foundation director analyses the speech of the leaders. It’s quite technical, but in short he finds that we are warming to Bill’s daggy dad language, whereas meandering Mal fails to inspire.

  5. To give an idea of Kouks position when ALP were government.

    The problem with the Australian level of gross debt now and this is the Basel three requirements for looking after banks in the post GFC world is we don’t have enough debt.

    But now debt is bad, apparently…..

  6. Jumpy I can’t remember, but I imagine you know how to do links. You should have given a link or reference for that quote. Otherwise people (eg me) might think it’s just a right wing talking point that someone has given you, devoid of any context that would make it meaningful.

  7. Val, Jumpy does links all the time.

    Jumpy, you are cherry picking and trying to discredit Koukoulas. Ad hominem, again, I’m afraid.

    Val, you probably know that it’s really easy to find these quotes. Just Google ‘Koukoulas’ and the first half dozen words. Here it is.

    I’ve only got time for a brief glance, but it looks a really interesting article on public and private debt, and the LNP ignoring the former and using the latter for cynical political purposes.

    Val is quite right in her suspicions.

  8. Actually Brian I think it’s here http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3751658.htm

    The transcript puts the relevant bit under Emma Alberici’s name but that’s obviously a mistake.

    I’d be really interested to know how Jumpy just happened across this though, especially as the quote is quite hard to find, given the mistake.

    Jumpy, fess up, are you receiving talking points from the LNP or Liberal Democrats HQ or somewhere like that?

  9. Jumpy, you are cherry picking and trying to discredit Koukoulas. Ad hominem, again, I’m afraid.

    No, not at all. I quoted his words without any attack whatever.
    Your words above are more of an “ad hominem ” than anything I said Brian.

    And Val, yes, use the method people use to steal from behind paywalls.

  10. Val

    Jumpy, fess up, are you receiving talking points from the LNP or Liberal Democrats HQ or somewhere like that?

    No, I remembered Judith Sloan slapping the Kouks arguments down so I googled it to get the precise quote.
    And yet I’m the one being accused of personal attacks on character.
    That’s funny in a weird way, hey ?

  11. Yes, Jumpy, you are cherry picking and taking words completely out of context.

    But then that just may be the level of your comprehension. Perhaps your brain picks up random words to reassemble in any form that suits you and then you apply that jumble to anyone you don’t like.

    Is this a uniform Libertarian trait? If it is it explains so much about what is going on in the US.

  12. Anywho, gotta go do a few hours work then off to the local footy ( girls kick off at 1pm ) so may have to take this up again next weekend, time permitting.

  13. BilB, that’s probably unkind, but jumpy should have given us the link. I think I’ve finally found it now. It was a Lateline stoush between Koukoulas and Judith Sloan back in April 2013 before the last Swan budget.

    Sloan used arguments like “That’s rubbish”, which don’t, by any debating standards, amount to slapping him down. Sloan is not a Keynesian, Koukoulas is. Sloan is in my experience to the right politically. Koukoulas is no doubt to the left.

    In my view Koukoulas is not partisan, whereas I wouldn’t say the same about Sloan.

    Jumpy was basically accusing Koukoulas if being partisan, but I can’t see any evidence of that.

    Anyway Sloan, back in 2013, was spruiking a credit downgrade if we didn’t get the budget back into surplus pronto. Koukoulas was disagreeing. Three years later it is clear that Koukoulas was right.

  14. BTW, on private debt, I understand that it increased steadily throughout the Howard years. Private consumption feeds into GDP, which made Howard/Costello numbers look good. Unfortunately much of it went into house prices, which is not particularly productive.

    I’d be interested in international comparisons of housing space per capita. My guess is that it would show us even ahead of the Americans by now.

  15. Footy was brilliant and a ton of beers prevents me from articulating my defence , in any wat . properly.
    Have a great future folkd.

  16. Brian, Jumpy was taking a set of words and applying an entirely different meaning to them (cherry picking). Koukoulis was saying that in an economic situation of global financial crisis the best way to support the banks was to be paying interest on bigger loans rather than handing them cash. It is exactly the same tactic as Turnbull’s “we’ll bring forward steel intensive rail infrastructure” projects to attempt to save the Whyalla Steel Works. Jumpy’s take on it was “Koukoulis said the country has got to have more debt” (poor comprenhension)

    You’ve got to wonder how Jumpy found that little collection of words. He’s either got a “Smear Labour” app on his phone or he has been trawling the Libertarian drainage ditch looking for muck to sling around.

    Sloan is Libertarian and a key contributor to Catallaxy, the drain, which makes her both political and extreme right.

  17. Bilge said

    You’ve got to wonder how Jumpy found that little collection of words. He’s either got a “Smear Labour” app on his phone or he has been trawling the Libertarian drainage ditch looking for muck to sling around.

    That needs repeeting, ( slow golf clap )
    Is that a ad homosomethin ? a insult ? on my character ? or factual ?

  18. For the record the Comments policy says up front:

    Do not comment on other commenters with negative implications.

    In this regard BilB’s comments are on the colourful side, and personally directed.

    Problem is, Jumpy, you often present ideas that amaze me, such as your authoritative statements on the “GDP thang”. The suspicion is that you’ve picked up stuff at Catallaxy and are giving us the benefit of your new-found wisdom.

    BilB’s description of a “Libertarian drainage ditch” is colourful, but may not be inapt if you hold different values.

    So I’m thinking it’s not an attack on your character as such, but no doubt exceeds my exhortation “to engage in a civil and respectful manner.”

  19. Not sure that’s what a good moderator should say, but BilB, best tone it down a notch, and Jumpy, if you are going to leave what you know will be seen as a smelly pile on a left-leaning blog, please tell us where you got it from.

  20. I just wasted an hour of my life watching the leaders debate. I thought they were both diminished, and the good thing is that most people would not have lasted past the first 15 minutes. FWIW, some comments.

    The questions were mostly crap and didn’t draw anything new out that I could discern.

    Chris Uhlmann perhaps showed his colours when he questioned Shorten with a censorious tone and then immediately talked over his reply. He was never so rude to Turnbull.

    As often on the ABC, there seemed to be no rules about when the leaders could comment on each other or not. On one occasion Uhlmann gave Turnbull the last word when a response was clearly required from Shorten. Then he tried to do it again, but Shorten cut in.

    I thought Shorten missed some opportunities, firstly to talk about Labor’s innovation and manufacturing policies in relation to jobs and growth, secondly on asylum seekers by not mentioning the extra numbers Labor would take and the funding support for the UNHCR.

    Turnbull’s hands kept going up and down like he was lecturing and pontificating, Shorten’s were mostly stuck to the sides of the lectern, like he needed to hang on to keep upright.

  21. Apologies, Brian.

    In my defence I point to the opening shot in this exchange, “an idea of Kouks position “, which to my mind gave license for, though not my preferred style, a freer use of language.

  22. Thanks, BilB for the Richard Fidler interview with Lyn Hinton. I did hear it and was going to look for it, so thanks again.

  23. Shorten quite rightly linked fairness and the health of the economy. however, he presented this as agiven instead of explaining it.
    He needs to explain that fairness puts more money in the hands of the low incomer consumers who are the most likely to spend extra money on goods and services in Australia.
    Shorten might also point out that government expenditure creates real jobs, both public and private and that public servant jobs are real and important. (Think teachers, health workers and……)

  24. The Courier Mail commented on 30 May that:

    A significant slump in support in key election battlegrounds could cost the Turnbull Government 10 seats in NSW, six in Queensland and three in Western Australia, an analysis of Newspolls over the past two months shows.

    The analysis for The Australian reveals the Coalition has suffered a 6 per cent swing against it in two-party-preferred terms in Queensland, a 7.3 per cent swing in Western Australia and 3.6 per cent deterioration in NSW, enough to lose the election
    The polling also shows that in South Australia, Nick Xenophon’s party has attracted one in five primary votes at the cost of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens.
    The Coalition leads in two-party-preferred terms in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, is tied in NSW and trails in Victoria.

  25. Somebody at the Guardian, where I hang out nowadays – paulburns – under comments if you’re interested, though I mainly talk about books – suggested a change.org petition to the ABC to sack Uhlmann.

  26. I have great difficulty with Chris Ullmann not regularly declaring an issue of perceived conflict of interest – namely that he is married to an ALP member of Parliament. The media apparently don’t think that this is a problem

  27. Didn’t Uhlmann contest an election as a Liberal Party candidate at some stage?

  28. Zoot – Close but not quite – Uhlmann unsuccessfully contested the ACT 1998 general election for the electorate of Molonglo with the Osborne Independent Group. Osborne was a famous Rugby League player – socially conservative – but to the left of the Liberal Party on economic issues – is my memory

  29. Douglas, I’m sure I’ve said this before. I think Chris Uhlmann overcompensates and is harder on Labor to show that he has no favouritism.

    I’d like someone to explain why Leigh Sales viscously attacked Richard Marles when he came on the program, and is consistently rude to ALP politicians

  30. John d I’m surprised at the Courier Mail thing putting Labor ahead. Poll Bludger in today’s Crikey says that Labor may score a few seats in WA, but it’s not working for them in the eastern states.

    Last election ReachTel was wildly inaccurate on individual seats, but I’m not sure where their information comes from.

  31. This is what Bernard Keane said at Crikey about the debate, in part:

    Only a small fraction of voters watch them, and only a fraction of those are undecided, and only a fraction of those are likely to be influenced by the outcome of the debate, and only a fraction of those are in marginal seats where their decision is likely to make a difference.

    Essentially the leaders play safe, because the risk is a big clanger.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we have no more debates this time around.

  32. Alan Austin identified the 10 top porkies Turnbull told in the debate. He said there were more.

    I’d like to reprint them, but I don’t think I can steal so much copy from a paywalled source. Here’s one:

    2. High company taxes

    “Our company tax rate is now the seventh-highest in the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development].”

    It is quite dishonest to compare company tax without including corporate social security contributions. Within the OECD these vary from 7% to above 40%. Australia’s 9.25% is near the bottom. All imposts included, Australia’s corporate tax take is nowhere near seventh-highest.

    John D you are right in saying public service jobs are real jobs. Apart from teachers and health workers the next is probably police.

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