A Liberal History of Irresponsible Economics

We have been told ad nauseum: “It will not be easy under Albanian”. But Sam Leckie asks, how much better will it be under Morrison and Frydenberg?

As the gap in the polls widened in the week leading up to the election, reformed Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced the media to acknowledge that he had been a “bulldozer” in the past – assuring voters he could change. This seems a long way from the apparent unwillingness of voters to change governments, as he claimed on April 10.

We know that the economic fitness of both major parties has been paramount in this election and the L-NP seems more dogmatic than ever on that issue in particular. The slogan ‘a strong economy – a stronger future’ comes to mind. Or maybe the earwig of a TV commercial to the tune of ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’

With that in mind, I want to take a look at this administration’s responsible economics history.

Pork

Sounds delicious, right? That’s because it is – for the coalition and its constituent allies. Not for the productive development of the nation. The process of funneling public funds to electorates of interest to hold them in elections would come under huge scrutiny from a federal anti-corruption commission, but that’s a story for another day.

The pork controversies are well documented, but here are some of my favorites.

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Flood and fire help: During the floods of early 2022, disaster payments for flood relief in Northern New South Wales were forwarded to Page’s electorate by the Nationals, with affected victims in Lismore and the Clarence Valley receiving support during the crisis. A little further on, in the Labour-occupied seat of Richmond, the stricken families in Tweed, Ballina and the Byron Shire were left with nothing.

This followed the controversy over funding provided to areas devastated by bushfires in 2019-20, where Labor seat Macquarie – lost an estimated 80% of the Blue Mountains heritage site and incurred $66 million in losses as a direct result. of the forest fire crisis – received nothing in forest fire subsidies. The liberal electorate of Hawkesbury — with an economic impact half that of Macquarie — received $4 million in funds in pig barrels for economic recovery.

Sports mistakes: Against the backdrop of an unprecedented global pandemic that saw 700,000 job losses, a $100 million sports development project was underway. More than 70% of those funds went to projects that had not been officially approved in Sports Australia’s review process, with those public funds being funneled into coalition-occupied and fringe Labor seats.

Community Development Grants: The CDG program, which was extended from 2020 to 2026 — the course of two more federal elections than originally planned — carried a $2.5 billion government fund cost. In 2019, the first year of the programme, 75.5% of the grant money was donated to coalition seats and only 19.9% ​​to Labour. Labor grant money averaged $1.25 million less than Liberal seats, with 22 voters receiving nothing from the pockets of the federal government.

Scott Morrison promises change as he continues to bulldoze us

French submarine saga: To add to the fallout from Morrison’s less-than-desirable performance at the COP26 climate summit, a previously negotiated submarine deal with the French government — pardon the pun — was blown out of the water. A $55 billion deal with Paris to buy and manufacture Barracuda submarines for the Australian military was torn apart in favor of a nuclear submarine alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom.

Not only did Scott Morrison mislead his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, but winding up the canceled deal is estimated to cost $5.5 billion in public funds. The cost of the AUKUS nuclear submarine alliance agreement will cost between $70 billion and $171 billion, and will not be operational until 2040 to protect Australians from the existential threat from the East. A simple question remains: is this a responsible use of taxpayers’ money?

Robodebt: Scott Morrison’s first assault on Australia’s economy came before his premiership, during his 2015 term as Minister for Social Services. The Robodebt scheme removed the human element from benefit reimbursements and produced $1.76 billion in debt for welfare applicants under the new system.

Consequently, these illegitimate debts caused significant financial and personal distress to more than 400,000 unemployed seeking work and led to the suicide of Jarrad Madgwick in 2019. In addition to enforcing the already rising cost of living during that time, the coalition had to pay $1. 8 billion in compensation and legal costs to the victims of the Robodebt scheme, ending an embarrassing chapter in the history of the government’s public service.

'Bulldozer' Morrison: Can he fix it?  No, he can't!

Super for houses arrangement: If the coalition is re-elected, first-time homebuyers could be forced to choose between a struggle to enter the real estate market at age 30 or the risk of poverty when they retire. The pandemic has already seen a coalition attack on pension funds for Australia’s workforce, forcing 3 million people to return up to $20,000 of their pensions to ease the life pressures of COVID-19.

While these kinds of policies may be a good short-term solution, they put undue pressure on consumers to re-contribute or risk a poor standard of living after their time in the labor market has expired. The Frydenberg-Morrison alliance’s latest super-based policy allows eligible members to withdraw a $50,000 down payment from their retirement fund to make a home deposit.

Instead of sustainable infrastructure projects that benefit the general public, the coalition has once again put pressure on consumers, which will drive up already exorbitant house prices, much to the detriment of homeowners and people who want to buy.

One of these shortcomings of the coalition’s economic policy was the $60 billion chasm left by the COVID-19 JobKeeper package, which failed to include a large number of individuals who were out of work or without work and income during the early stages of the pandemic. goods.

At the time of writing, Labor has not yet published the total cost of their election policies. Despite this, an emphasis on higher quality investment rather than lower government spending from Anthony Albanese and Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers has great potential to reshape a lethargic period in Australian economic policy on climate, quality of life, indigenous affairs. , disabilities and support networks for aged care. and the public health sector.

There may be a hole in Labour’s bucket, but Morrison himself said it: people can change, and so can governments.

Sam Leckie is an avid follower of sports, politics and economics. He is currently in his second year of an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Queensland, majoring in political science and peace and conflict studies.

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