1. Stimulus budget wildly off target
Laura Tingle summed up the Frydenberg budget strategy in an article that in the AFR was titled Frydenberg stimulus shot veers wildly off target:
The Government has punted everything on a private sector-led recovery out of recession; one that will happen both really, really quickly and dramatically enough to offset the huge disruption just about to start as businesses lose JobKeeper support for their workforce, run out of rent and bank payment holidays, and decide to close their doors.
Frydenberg spoke of:
- “providing a helping hand to those who need it”, yet so much of the Budget is actually directed at people, and sectors, who don’t need it.
The most obviously perplexing political decision is that the Government has not only abandoned such a large swathe of its own small business base, but it has constrained the chances of it taking part in the promised recovery.
The Grattan Institute points out:
“the worst fallout in the COVID-19 recession has been in services sectors”.
“Hospitality, the arts and administrative services have all been hit hard. Yet these sectors received next to nothing in the Budget. They are also less likely to benefit from economy-wide supports such as instant asset write-offs because they are the least capital-intensive sectors.”
These sectors all have large female workforces, which is one of the reasons why Labor and others are attacking the Budget’s failures to support women.
On the public sector:
- The very sectors that conspicuously need more staff — and the fastest growing parts of the workforce before COVID — are in the public sector, in areas like aged care, disability care, health, education, mental health, employment services and child care.
Then there was the active damage the Government is doing on universities, electricity, gas and the environment.
Michael Pascoe cautions Throwing money at business won’t make it invest, while Bernard Keane asks Just how did the government stuff up the budget so badly?
His answer: no vision, no talent, the government is full of duds. Keane thinks Matthias Cormann was the only one of substance, and the thinness of talent is shown by the fact that Michaelia Cash has been appointed Deputy Leader of the Senate.
2. Recovery requires real economic reform
That’s what Anthony Albanese tells us. He says that the Morrison government is attempting to deal with recessions by restoring pre-crisis conditions, which is a sure path to failure.
- We need reform. Real reform.
Effective economic reform, as always, should focus on the three Ps – population, productivity and participation.
That article is mostly about childcare and women in the workforce. Inadequate access to childcare for women means we are not fully utilising our nation’s greatest resource – our people.
I don’t need convincing. One commentator said we were first in the world in women’s participation in higher education, and 49th in workplace participation. Craig Emerson says that 58% of university graduates are women. When using childcare women increasing work from three days to four earn less than $2.40 per hour. The net result can even be negative.
So did Albanese deliver an alternative vision?
Here is his budget reply speech.
Grattan on Friday in Anthony Albanese tries to climb an impossible mountain says:
- Albanese’s problem was that circumstances demanded too much of him in his budget reply. He had a fair crack at meeting those demands, but he couldn’t change the perception that the pandemic has made the opposition one of its victims.
The panel on Insiders – Laura Tingle, Shane Wright and Katharine Murphy – were not much impressed. There was talk about a failure to “cut through”. Perhaps their failure was to listen to what he said. which puts them in the same cart as the government, who made their disdain and lack of respect very obvious:
- PM Scott Morrison has been savaged for closing his eyes, playing with his phone and turning his back during Albo’s budget reply.
As he should be.
Josh Butler at The New Daily did what should be a journaists first duty in Albanese lays out Labor’s vision: Childcare, renewables and manufacturing jobs by summarising the speech. In addition to childcare, renewables and manufacturing jobs there was a power grid, green energy, social housing, and an Australian Centre for Disease Control.
Other items I picked up included a national anti-corruption body, aged care and dealing with work insecurity.
The truth is that ALP policy development is a work in progress. A draft National Platform has just been sent to members for comment. Some of the ideas Albanese mentioned have been worked up into policies. So far the following appear:
This involves $20 billion to rebuild and modernise the grid, in line with a blueprint already completed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and signed off by all governments. This will be done by establishing Rewiring the Nation Corporation (RNC), a public entity.
The need for this response derives from to AEMO’s Integrated System Plan (ISP) which facilitates the decentralised development of renewable energy, while stabilising the grid to make sure that large users like aluminium smelters have continuity of supply.
There’s more at RenewEconomy – Labor pledges $20 billion to rebuild grid and fast-track switch to renewables.
Angus Taylor is completely disregarding the ISP in favour of his five-basins gas plan, including the development of fracking in Narrabri and Beetaloo (also tight gas) in the NT and in further development in the Upper Dawson Basin, plus propping up old coal power stations.
Labor is on board with a green energy future, including the possibility of large scale manufacturing and export via hydrogen.
Labor’s blueprint for local manufacturing jobs and skills includes:
- A National Rail Manufacturing Plan to see more trains built in Australia by local workers and ensure every dollar of federal funding spent on rail projects boosts local jobs and industry;
- A Defence Industry Development Strategy to leverage our $270 billion investment pipeline, develop sovereign industrial and research capabilities and build skills and expertise within the Australian workforce; and
- An Australian Skills Guarantee to give apprentices, trainees and cadets a foot in the door when it comes to work on major Commonwealth projects
An Australian Skills Guarantee:
will ensure that one in 10 jobs on major federally funded infrastructure projects are given to apprentices, trainees or cadets.
This work will be supported by Jobs and Skills Australia – announced by Mr Albanese last year – an independent body designed to bring together the business community, states and territories, unions, education providers and regional organisations to match skills training with the evolving demands of industry.
The first job will be to undertake urgent repair and maintenance on 100,000 of the existing stock, then work with the states to build more.
We are the only OECD country without a national centre for disease control.
The Morrison Governments main responses to the speech were, women also drive on roads, and where does the money come from?
That was after they had handed out $138 billion in tax cuts, and are committed to handing out $130 billion more to people who don’t need tham.
That link was to Phillip Adams conversing with Emma Dawson and Janet McCalman who have written (compiled?) a book What Happens Next? Reconstructing Australia after COVID-19 where they present the contributions of some of Australia’s most respected academics and leading thinkers, setting out:
- a progressive, reforming agenda to tackle the twin crises of climate change and inequality. It provides a framework through which our collective effort can be devoted to improving the lives of all Australians, and the sustainability of the world in which we live.
They say that:
After the Great Depression and the Second World War, economic thinking was transformed across the Anglosphere, with a determination to create a more equitable society and support every child, regardless of background, to achieve their full potential. Australia’s leaders reshaped our economy through a determined and coordinated program of post-war reconstruction. Their reforms set us up for decades of prosperity and the creation of perhaps the most prosperous and stable society on earth.
Working people were given proper jobs so that they could own a house and raise a family. A middle class was created by creating Commonwealth scholarships to go to university, and there were lots of government jobs, with social mobility through nursing and teaching. We manufactured just about everything behind tariff walls.
The Australian National University was set up as a research university along with the CSIRO. They contrast this with the present lot, who in giving and extra $1 billion for research only replaced less than a quarter of what was lost through COVID.
There was lots more in the segment, but one comment stood out.
They said that the social contract had been broken by recent governments. They didn’t say it, but I thought of Joe Hockey’s lifters and leaners. Frydenberg assured us that he had our back, but in truth it was a return to the ideology of 2014.
Albanese ended his speech with:
- Tonight, I’ve talked about how we can make this once-in-a-century crisis the beginning of a new era of Australian prosperity and Australian fairness.
With the right plans, the right policies – and the right leadership – I truly believe our country can make this moment our own.
Strength and fairness.
We can beat this recession, we can launch a recovery and we can build a future where no-one is held back and no-one is left behind.(Emphasis added)
I thought it was a good speech. Laura Tingle told Phillip Adams on Monday night that she thought it was a good speech, but the virus had left Albanese somewhat stranded, sitting in the dust, as it were.
Leaving Australia similarly placed. Jim Chalmers is going to address the National Press Club today. It’s usually broadcast on NewsRadio.