A certain email has been festering at the back of my inbox since 23 November 2007. It was received just one day before the election of the Rudd Labor government ended eleven and a half years of Tory rule. It was written by a beloved family member and is only made public with his approval. The text is as follows:

Hi Ben,

Disclaimer: I think you are a great Brother and I love your style, but this must be said:

Mate! Reality Check!

I want Howard & Costello to keep the economy the way it has been going for the last 10 years or so, however this will clearly not happen. Rudd will unfortunately win the election by about 3.2% remember this number!!!!!!!! I am good with numbers.

Anyway, If “Rudd-erless-boat” docks in as I predict, the economy will die and mark my text … interest rates will become too unpredictable – and climb higher to again –  (I’m good with the numbers) 12.5% within 3 years… again mark my text.

If I am wrong, please print this email in ten years time from now and “let me have it.”

Well I haven’t waited ten years, however, I have waited long enough to see these predictions prove to be completely false and evidence of the popular fallacy that the ALP are poor economic managers. Rudd, of course, won the 2007 election by twice the margin suggested and interest rates, nearly three years on, are only a third of what this doomsday email imagined.

Over the Howard years this message that Labor are poor economic managers was drilled into the Australian public, but what does good economic management even mean? Under Howard, with Tony Abbott as Health Minister, over $A1b was taken out of the public health system. With Julie Bishop as Education Minister, Australia distinguished itself as the only OECD country to reduce its spending on education, despite facing a skills shortage! Budget after budget Captain Smirk would boast of the great surplus he presided over and offer a tax break of such miserable proportions it would pay for a packet of chips and a chubba chub. In the meantime, riding on the back of a resource boom, where was the investment in infrastructure, where were the grand projects of nation-building? The fact is, Howard played a selfish game of party politics with the treasury and refused to do anything which may help the Labor states. Instead he financed Australian involvement in an illegal and unjust war in Iraq. He paid bribe money to our Island neighbours so that we could avoid our international humanitarian responsibilities. Sadly, this is typical toryism. No money for health and education but plenty for war and terrorism. Is this economic management or is this economic management burlesqued? That money belonged to the Australian people, but it would not be spent for their benefit till 2007.

The Australian Tories finally revealed their ignorance and economic imbecility on a grand scale in the wake of the global financial crisis. The Rudd Labor government quickly and effectively implemented a stimulus program with the two fold benefit of giving the economy an immediate injection of capital while also directing the majority towards infrastructure and schools. The Tory response was initially to do nothing (a conservative position indeed). Peter Costello led this argument, still considering the taxes of the Australian people to be his personal plaything. Then the Tories changed their minds and Turnbull suggested virtually the same stimulus package. Then Joe Hockey began arguing for a scaled back package. This confused and clearly leaderless coterie of pen-pushing blotter jotters, completely unable to come to any decision how to respond, then had the audacity to complain of the 5% national debt incurred by the ALP!

And what did we get in return for this 5% debt, which the independent Reserve Bank of Australia predicts will peak at no more than 10%? Did not Australia distinguish itself among developed nations by avoiding technical recession and at the same time enjoying a lower national debt than the UK, USA or Japan? Are not public schools receiving quite possibly the only substantial injection of capital they will see for fifty years? Has our unemployment rate not stayed stubbornly low in stark contrast to world trends? When a person buys a house do they not incur a debt against their wage in the order of 300-400%? By this logic, the Tories would suggest virtually every home owner in Australia is a Labor style, big spender intent on ruining the economy. This is, of course, laughable. The stimulus package worked, the debt is well manageable and it is the Tories not the ALP who appear completely incapable of managing the economy.

So with an election looming, the question as always is who will you believe? Is it possible to still believe the tired stereotype that Labor can’t handle money? Is it possible after weathering the financial tsunami to believe that the Tories are inherently better at economic management? This Tory propaganda, as shown in the email I received claiming under Labor the economy would ‘die’ and that ‘interest rates will [be] too unpredictable’, is plainly wrong. As if any further evidence were needed, consider the Tory choice of Opposition Finance Minister, Barnaby Joyce! A man who, were it not for Steve Fielding, would stand alone as the most mentally inept person to ever shame the halls of parliament. It is no surprise that he has already been sacked. Lacking the ability to count must have been a serious impediment to his role.

The Tories were not good economic mangers under Howard and they aren’t good economic managers now. The current opposition led by the Vampire of Warringah are the most miserable brutes G-D ever put guts into. They are the nefarious representatives of the Australian business oligarchy and the flagitious bourgeoisie who fight still against every egalitarian principle the Australian people have found to be good, just and noble. They have fought every Labor initiative to raise the dignity of Australian workers choosing always to crawl meekly into the black hole of elitism and fear; the Tory base.

So let us not be surprised when the old mantra comes out this election year that Labor can’t handle the economy and apparently has been doing a poor job for three years. The truth is there for all to see. The Mad Monk and his Tory acolytes may venture to dream that their economic credentials will see them over the line in the forthcoming election. I, for one, wouldn’t put money on them.



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3 Comments

  1. Jimmy Kebab April 22, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    your foolishness in comparing debt ratios with the US, UK and japan surprises me. The only thing more foolish would be to compare us to greece, or maybe iceland.
    And to compare govt. borrowing with that of buying a home…benny, by doing these things u are no better than the tories u so willingly condemn. Especially with ur argument on interes rates! Now, keeping interest rates low is not for any govt. to brag. The coalition sold the line well, but I really think they had less to do with it than they’d like us all to think. By the same token, KRudd and his posse may have stopped a technical recession with thier injection into gambling, but how hard is it to get a few ppl to open up thier wallets for a few months when it’s not going to cost them anything? Anything outside the flash in the pan impact of those pmts has almost nothing to do with rudd. Ongoing economic activity would have been quite robust without KRudd’s credit card.
    Stick to ur argument on schools n infrastucture…fair point there. The howard years should have seen better investment on both fronts. As should have the endless labor govt. of NSW seen such investment in infrastructure (but lets admit it, it’s been a long time since the ppl of nsw had a competent alternative). It’s a shame Rudd’s spending on schools was so unbridled that it was largely squandered….along with the cash payments and spending on home insulation and energy conservation programs. The only problem is that for all the summits and inquiries, and there’s been plenty, these policies and programs (and many others that don’t get real press coverage) always end up fundamentally flawed. Then they need to be stopped or drastically chandged in
    an instant, sending devastating shock waves through the economy in thier respective industries. Now this is bad economic management, as all real management involves a plan, and no one can plan for such predictable inconsistency.
    The values of the left are great, but when u implement them in such a hap hazard way they’re useless. The long term affect of rudd era policies will need a lot of cleaning up…

     
  2. benny April 23, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Dear Jimmy Kebab,

    Thanks you for your thoughtful response to my article. Clearly it wasn’t to your taste but a few words in my defence.

    If my foolishness in comparing Australia’s debt level with the USA et al surprised you, I would be interested to know what your response was to then Shadow Finance Minister, Barnaby Joyce, telling the Australian people that our debt was so high we were in imminent danger of defaulting. The Tories, though quieter these days, were beating the debt drum mercilessly. Perhaps someone as learned as you saw straight through it and felt no need to comment. Be that as it may, I hardly see why it upsets you so that I pointed out other nations have much higher debt levels and have, thus far, avoided the sky falling in.

    Perhaps you could articulate why the comparison to buying a house was so ungratifying. ‘… Benny’, was not exactly the clearest argument I’ve ever been faced with. In the face of Tory scare-mongering I think it is entirely reasonable to remind people that there is such a thing as manageable debt and that if money is targeted at desirable goals (surviving the GFC springs to mind) then debt can even be a preferable situation to surplus. In any case, I borrowed the analogy from the Herald’s chief economic writer Ross Gittins so you can take it up with him.

    I could only laugh when you condemned MY argument on interest rates. If you’ll recall, the whole premise of the article was an email I received from a Tory predicting interest rates to go through the roof. It was not MY argument at all. All I did is point out this insane perception that the Tories keep interest rates low is pure nonsense.

    All in all I think you have missed the point entirely. I’m not able or inclined to defend every economic decision by the Rudd government, although I think you are way too early in predicting the legacy of the Rudd era – it’s his first term for Heaven sake! The point of the article is that before the 2007 election there was an endless stream of Troy propaganda claiming Labor would ruin the economy. As the first Rudd term comes to a close that lie has been exposed. The ALP have different spending priorities based on their commitment to the working class and social justice, this is true. The fear-campaign of Howard, ‘interest rates will always be higher under Labor’, can now be seen for what it is. The outright lies from this conservative apparatchik and the other creatures of the Tory pack are without evidence, without credibility and without truth.
    Kind Regards
    BTJ

     
  3. Andrew Thomas April 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Dear Benny,

    Lovely. You did indeed treat our Tory brothers and sisters more fairly than you might have.

    The failure of the Howard Government to invest in our Universities and force them to become businesses is one of the biggest indictments of their woeful legacy. Our universities are so reliant on philanthropy, business research partnerships and international students fees they have created entire divisions to address this funding shortfall.

    Our drop in University rankings worldwide is a disgrace and our inability to meet our own skills shortages because our inadequately resourced lecture theater’s are filled to the brim with full fee paying internationals who find it impossible to remain here post degree anyway is obvious for all to see.

    You could have lambasted them also for the lack of understanding of “Capacity constraints” although you did touch on the increased in infrastructure spending by Rudd in comparison to Howard. Even before the GFC the mantra from the government was in the need to invest in the infrastructure we need for tomorrow now. Imagine the inroads we could have made to our ports our rail our green technology investments over the mining boom decade of Howard if he had not insisted on 20 billion dollar surpluses to be splashed about in an election year on whichever constituency would give him 3 more years. Kevin and his team have a vision not based on nearsighted greed or opportunism but ,like Obama, a vision which will assist all Australians to be the best they can and not just maintaining the lifestyles of the few. Look at the best they have now. Abbott, Bishop, Pyne, Dutton, Hockey and Hunt with Pyne, Dutton and Hunt. GOd help us all if Australians fall for them again.

    Well done Benny!

     

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