Some ABC staff will lose their jobs as the broadcaster deals with the Federal Government’s budget freeze, the national broadcaster’s boss has confirmed.
Mr Anderson did not say how many staff or from where in the ABC the jobs would be cut
He told Senate Estimates consideration would be given to keeping regional and remote jobs
The Government has frozen the ABC’s budget for three years, at a cost of $83.7 million
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s managing director David Anderson made the comments in Senate Estimates on Tuesday night, under questioning about the impact of the Coalition’s budget decision.
“There will be job losses,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s not something I can quantify at this point in time, there’s still more work to be done.
“Some of it relates to people’s employment, some of it does not — efficiency comes in many forms.”
The Federal Government last year announced it would freeze the ABC’s annual funding at the same level for three years — a move that will cost the broadcaster $83.7 million.
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The cut will be phased in over three years, starting with an almost $15 million cut in 2019-20, about $28 million in 2020-21 and just over $41 million in 2021-22.
Mr Anderson acknowledged it was a period of uncertainty for staff.
“For me to be able to say ‘yes I believe there will be staff losses’ — but not to be able to say how many, or where from — I certainly appreciate is quite uncertain,” he said.
Mr Anderson said the organisation had found $17 million in savings to-date but more work needed to be done.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to close that gap without losing staff.”
However, he told the committee consideration would be given to keeping jobs in regional and remote areas.
“One of our priorities for the future is certainly to remain as local as possible,” he said.
“Our role is to reflect the culture and community of the country back to itself.
*It is time to ditch the surplus mania and force our government to stop worrying about some political con-job about economic management and to start facing up to the five years of falling living standards that have occurred under their watch.*
This government has abandoned economic logic – and no one seems willing to call them on it
The biggest con in Australian politics is the belief that a budget surplus not only matters, but that it demonstrates good economic management.
Our lives would be improved overnight if the political debate in this country could ditch the surplus obsession. The pertinent question at the moment is not whether a budget surplus will be delivered this financial year, but why on earth would you aim to do so?
Why do we need a budget surplus? It is not a question that gets asked too much – certainly not during the election campaign just passed, where both major parties argued over who had the bigger surplus.
The typical answer you get given is some vague notion of living within your means, saving for a rainy day, needing to pay down debt.
It’s all simplistic babble spoken by politicians with next to no economic logic in order to convince voters that somehow they are good at managing the economy – and for the most part it is taken as given by journalists.
The balance of the budget tells us very little about the management of the economy.
Liberal Party MPs would have you believe that the mining boom during the 2000s occurred because of the budget surplus. In reality the stonking amounts of revenue that flowed in to the government’s coffers during that time meant it was almost impossible not to run a surplus.
In 2000-01 government revenue reached 26% of GDP – a level greater than the amount of spending done by the Rudd government in 2009-10 when it embarked on its massive stimulus program to offset the impact of the GFC.
If the Rudd government had enjoyed the same level of revenue that the Howard government routinely did, it would have at worst had a deficit of about $3bn – rather than going into a deficit of 4.2% of GDP, or $54bn.
But of course, if it had revenue of that size it would not have needed to create a massive stimulus in order to keep the economy going.
When you get down to it, the only outcome that really matters in the economy is household living standards.
We want low unemployment, high productivity growth and all other things because we want it to lead to better living standards.
During the mining boom, you could be forgiven for thinking that a surplus was a sign that the economy was being well managed – household disposable income was growing at around 4% a year in real terms
Now, government revenue is growing off the back of high commodity prices, but our economy is struggling and household living standards are falling.
Over the past three years household living standards have fallen by levels more akin to a deep recession than a period where a government should be seeking to take the heat out of the economy with a budget surplus.
Because everyone should tattoo this to their eyeballs: the only reason for a budget surplus is to slow the economy in order to control inflation.
This happened during the mining boom – but so addicted was Howard to cutting taxes and providing tax concessions that the budget surpluses were actually too small to stop inflation growth from rising.
And thus the Reserve Bank raised interest rates 12 times in six years in order to slow things down.
Back then the Howard government was content for this to happen because they believed they would always be able to sell the line that interest rates would always be lower under a Liberal government.
Now we are in the opposite situation. Inflation barely has a pulse, the overall economy is growing slower than it has since 2001, and the private sector is growing slower than at any time since the 1990s recession.
The Morrison government is mostly content to let the RBA keep cutting rates to stimulate the economy because it believes it will be able to sell the line that it is doing a good job because it has delivered a budget surplus.
The last time we had a budget surplus was in 2007-08, when the RBA raised the cash rate four times, from 6.25% to 7.25%.
*So far this financial year the RBA has cut the cash rate three times, from 1.5% to 0.75%.
*That is not a sign the economy needs slowing.
The last time the RBA raised the cash rate was in November 2010 – a time so long ago Steve Smith had only played in two test matches, Novak Djokovic had won only one grand slam title and Australians had yet to see the new British TV series, Downton Abbey.
During that entire time we have been obsessed about trying to get back to a budget surplus andyet also during that time inflation growth has remained weak, and household living standards have stagnated.
But such has been the potency of the surplus con job that should the government actually face reason and dare to utter the words “stimulus,”most news outlets would be quickly running with the failure to deliver a surplus, and the ALP as well would quickly get on board attacking the move.
And we would continue this awful economic debate where we discuss things through a frame that has been irrelevant for more than a decade now.
*At some point, someone in the ALP or LNP is going to twig that the economy has changed since the GFC – what seemed correct then is most definitely not now.
*It is time to ditch the surplus mania and force our government to stop worrying about some political con-job about economic management and to start facing up to the five years of falling living standards that have occurred under their watch.*
• Greg Jericho writes on economics for Guardian Australia
It is a worry for the Government. It is much less secure than Labor is making out (for no apparent reason), via The Australian:
The Coalition has maintained its lead over Labor despite pressure over the economy and criticism of drought relief for farmers as Anthony Albanese’s approval ratings sink to their lowest since he came to the job.
An exclusive Newspoll conducted for The Australian shows no change in the headline numbers for the government, with the Coalition holding a two-party-preferred lead of 51 per cent to 49 per cent.
It’s not hard to see why:
falling living standards;
interminable per capita recession;
falling real wages;
force fed mass immigration;
CCPs silent invasion of universities, Canberra and the Gladys Liu affair;
endless energy crisis;
house price bubble yoyo.
I can’t recall a new Government honeymoon this weak.Perhaps the only reason it is not as issue in the press is that its lost all faith in polls itself.
If Labor had a brain they’d be making hay. Scratch that, they’d be in power.
Scott Morrison’s problem is that he gets politics – and is good at it – but doesn’t get economics.
*ThePrime Minister doesn’t get that if he keeps playing politics while doing nothing to stop the economy sliding into recession, nothing will save him from the voters’ wrath.
Neither he nor Josh Frydenberg seem to get that if we endure another year of very weak growth before they pop up next September boasting about their fabulous budget surplus, no one will be cheering.
…Frydenberg’s argument about the need to “reload the fiscal canon” ready for the next downturn makes perfect sense – provided you’re paying back public debt at a time when the economy’s growing strongly and, if anything, could use a bit of slowing to ensure inflation doesn’t get away.
That’s not us, unfortunately.
…My bet is Morrison and Frydenberg will eventually panic and take stimulatory measures (probably a lot of them), but they’ll come too late in the piece to stop confidence unravelling, with punters tightening their belts as businesses lay off staff.
That’s my read too, reinforced by more blather from the L-plate treasurer today:
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has left Washington upbeat about challenges facing the global and domestic economies, including a “more positive” outlook for a US-China trade fix, even as the IMF warned Australia must tackle tax reform and that next year’s budget may need to tap some of the surplus to stimulate growth.
Mr Frydenberg said his message was “there’s no need to panic” and that the global economy “remains sound”, after three days of intense talks with counterparts from around the world, including US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid and India’s Nirmala Sitharaman.
“Despite the challenges facing the global economy I found that people were more optimistic than not about the ability of the economy to get back on track,” he told The Australian Financial Review before boarding his flight back home.
So, let’s not assess the Aussie economy on its merits. Instead let’s deploy a false binary in which we shouldn’t “panic”. Who is suggesting that we panic? Nobody. Just about every economist I read is suggesting we should boost infrastructure spending, Newstart, etc. It’s hardly panic. It’s decreasing the fiscal drag when you’ve got weak growth. To wit, today:
The Morrison government has spent only $2.2 million out of a $3.5 billion infrastructure fund designed to connect key ports, airports and other transport hubs around Australia.
The “roads of strategic importance” scheme, which had its funding boosted by a further $1 billion in the 2019-20 budget after being announced 18 months ago, has only started construction on the $2.2 million upgrade to the Murchison Highway in Tasmania.
As Gittins says, what will happen is that Recessionberg will panic when he leaves it too long. Moreover, because the next accident coming to Australia is a terms of trade crash (that has already begun), which is largely driven by market adjustments in bulk commodities not slowing global growth anyway, Recessionberg will panic just as the viability of his next wave of tax cuts come into question. This is poor budget management, poor economic management and poor politics.
But at least the rictus treasurer will smile all the way through it.
Last week, Labor attracted scorn from union leaders after the party’s caucus voted to support the federal government’s proposed free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.
The key area of contention is that the Indian and Peru FTAs include working rights, which would expand the number of temporary migrant workers in Australia by several thousand, thus further undercutting local workers.
Over the weekend, a union-backed motion opposing free these FTAs was narrowly defeated 67 votes to 64 at the 2019 conference of Labor’s Northern Territory branch.
The motion included a provision that MPs who vote for policies against the national platform should be expelled from the party. Warren Snowdon, Luke Gosling and Malarndirri McCarthy could have faced expulsion if the motion had been passed. From The Australian:
The ACTU and some Labor MPs argue that the free-trade deals, which the Labor leader and federal caucus backed last week, are a violation of the policy platform.
The motion was proposed by the Electrical Trades Union and backed by the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union. CFMEU Queensland and NT secretary Michael Ravbar spoke in favour of the motion…
The Opposition Leader yesterday defended supporting the agreements, saying they were “good for Australian jobs”…
The union movement claims that Labor has reneged on a deal to protect Australian workers in FTAs:
Back in December 2018 the AMIEU and other Unions made a deal with the Labor Party that the conditions of Australian workers would be protected in all future trade agreements.
Labor was so embarrassed when we threatened to picket a Bill Shorten fundraising event they agreed to introduce better and fairer trade agreement legislation.
We expect Labor to honour the deal struck with the Union movement, but already they are showing signs of flopping.
Labor Parliamentarians MUST OPPOSE the Liberal Government’s new free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru.
These new trade agreements will increase the number of temporary visa workers in Australia, of which there are already 1.4 million. Visa workers are taken advantage of by multinational corporations and used to erode the wages and conditions of everyone.
Not only have these free trade agreements not been independently assessed, they do not require labour market testing and even allow multinationals to sue the Australian government if they aren’t making enough money.
The AMIEU has written to Federal Labor, Greens and Independent Parliamentarians to oppose the proposed free trade agreements. We urge these Parliamentarians to closely examine the new trade agreements to see just how they will disadvantage Australian workers.
Federal Labor Parliamentarians, if you aren’t going to fight for the workers you claim to represent, you aren’t fit for your job.
As I said last week, the “Labor” Party no longer supports the working class, but rather inner-city social justice warriors and virtue signallers. They care more about identity politics than real issues that impact the working class.
*Nor is the union movement adequately representing its working-class. While it is fighting the good fight on FTAs, it remains a wholehearted supporter of Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy, even signing a ‘Big Australia’ immigration compact with employer groups last year.
This comes despite mass immigration being a key driver of inequality, since it raises the wealth of capitalists while driving down the wages of ordinary workers, and forces workers to live in smaller and more expensive housing.
Rather than focussing on tiny FTAs, unions need to push for root-and-branch immigration reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings or double the median wage.
This would ensure the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour and eliminating the need for training.
Photo: The Australian: Mimicking Howard just a start for Albanese
IS ‘CRITICAL THINKING‘ being taught in Our School system any more … or if it is perhaps the power of the Press Moguls has diminished it?
The opening sentence in this report by the ‘STAFF WRITER’ rings alarm bells for us at CAAN …
‘A reporthas claimed that former Labor leader Bill Shorten wanted his election campaign to ‘soften’ his image – but instead, the party decide to ‘confuse’ voters with unpopular policy detail.‘
Compare the pair … Bill Shorten and the Ad Man with the Cap? The Ad Man who wrote the policy for the developer lobby, the Property Council of Australia, as National Manager of Research and Policy from the age of 21 to 26 … and the property lobby runs through his veins, expect the Coalition to throw more support at FHBs for the housing market‘.
‘but instead, the party decide to ‘confuse’ voters with unpopular policy detail.’
Is this ‘Construct’ the consequence of the Coalition ‘fear and lies Campaign’ about an alleged Labor Party death tax; the Franking Credits which were not to affect pensioners but the Rich Listers; the changes to negative gearing were about encouraging the building of ‘new homes’, and to grandfather investment in ‘established homes’ … to open the housing market for First Home Buyers …
WAS this so-called unpopular policy a consequence of this ‘fear and lies Campaign’ … because the Liberals in fact had no policies! Was it The Libs who called for details, it would seem, to conceal the fact they went to the Election without any policies?
Until the week prior to the Election with the launch of the Coalition’s FHB scheme when Scomo said:
“We want to see more first-home buyers in the market, absolutely, and we don’t want to see people’s house prices go down” ….
PERHAPS undertake some ‘critical thinking’ about the remainder of the text? Sadly from the Mogul’s print media the misinformation spreads across television networks, polls, WeChat, UTube, and our social media … to become ‘Gospel’!
ALP ‘denied Bill Shorten’s election campaign cry for help’: report
A report has claimed that former Labor leader Bill Shorten wanted his election campaign to ‘soften’ his image – but instead, the party decide to ‘confuse’ voters with unpopular policy detail.
Staff writer, News Corp Australia Network
October 19, 2019
DAILYTELEGRAPH.COM.AU1:43Who will be the next Labor leader?
With the Labor Parties election loss and the announcement that Bill Shorten will step down as leader.
Former Labor leader Bill Shorten urged the ALP to help him soften his image during the election campaignbut was turned down, in one of several disagreements between the leader and the party that have emerged ahead of the release of a review into the election defeat.
The Weekend Australian reports that the review will say that Labor’s campaign was poorly organised, contained confusing messages and unpopular policies, as well as an unconvincing advertising campaign. Mr Shorten’s personal unpopularity will also be highlighted as a key reason for Labor’s shock defeat to Scott Morisson in May.
CAAN: WHO owns ‘The Daily Telegraph’, ”The Australian’ and 9 News from where it would appear the reports of ‘Bill Shorten’s alleged personal unpopularity, and an ‘unconvincing advertising campaign’ emanate from …
The post-election review will say the ALP should have worked harder to shield Mr Shorten against attacks from the Coalition on his character – even though Mr Shorten raised this as a campaign priority.
CAAN: ‘The Herald Sun’ where this article, ‘Bill Shorten accepts responsibility for shock May election defeat’ was published is also owned by Rupert Murdoch, and is a subsidiary of News Corp Australia … with a little critical thought … one may begin to question the veracity, the truthfulness of this reportby this subsidiary of the Murdoch Media …
Mr Shorten wanted the ALP campaign to counter his low personal popularity with direct-to-camera advertising, but this was not supported.
CAAN: With daily reports of the alleged ‘low personal popularity’ of Bill Shorten … was he being targeted by Murdoch?Repeated often enough … that it must be true … that it has become Gospel ?
… as CAAN Page Admin learnt early in its career … it is the Media that wins elections …
Personal attacks against the then Opposition leader by Scott Morrison concerned Mr Shorten to the extent that he asked Labor national secretary Noah Carroll to respond with a negative advertising blitz on the Prime Minister. But the answer was no, The Weekend Australian reports.
Labor’s six-person review team will meet in Canberra on Sunday to begin finalising the report.
According to The Weekend Australian, the review team will find that voters were confused by Labor’s excessive campaign messages and they disliked the party’s policies on taxation and climate change.
CAAN: According to the Gospel of ‘The Weekend Australian’ that Australian voters were confused by Labor’s campaign messages, but how much more excessive were the ad campaigns, and fear and lies campaigns of The Coalition? Funded by the Big End of Town and was it approved by our Big Neighbour to the North?
Labor’s social media and advertising response to attacks on policies was ineffective and the campaign was poorly organised, with staff unclear about who was responsible for what during the campaign.
CAAN: Give some critical thought to the veracity of this. Perhaps Labor needs to attack The Coalition more!
The review was ordered in the wake of Labor’s disastrous result in May when it received a primary vote of just 33.3 per cent nationally, with especially poor outcomes in Queensland and Western Australia.
CAAN: The Election was close; the Coalition won with a slim majority of 77 seats in the Lower House, one more than it needs to govern in majority. That’s all!
As Ms Liu holds the Morrison Government’s majority in the palm of her hand so here we are.
Was the Labor loss in Queensland largely due to the $80M Ad campaign of Clive Palmer and his UNITED AUSTRALIA PARTY? Whereby it appears he deceived many into the belief he would make Australia great and reduce taxes etc … Clive was not elected but his Party preferences went to the Coalition!
Labor’s six-person review team will meet in Canberra on Sunday to begin finalising the report as the party debates what its policy agenda should look like under new leader Anthony Albanese – especially on climate change and emissions targets, an issue dividing the party.
CAAN: Published in The Daily Telegraph; owned by Murdoch …
Although the party ran a limited “soft” advertising campaign featuring Mr Shorten, his wife Chloe and their family, the former leader thought there should be more of this.
But the campaign team pushed on with highlighting Labor’s positive policy agenda rather than tackling Mr Shorten’s electoral unpopularity head on.
CAAN: At CAAN we believe Labor was moving in the right direction concerning Housing Affordability, by encouraging investors to invest in new property to open up the established housing market for First Home Buyers, more benefits for HealthCare, Education, and tackling Money Laundering in our domestic housing and more!
Yet the situation was dire: despite a mild popularity increase during the campaign, analysis of Newspoll results shows Mr Shorten had a negative net satisfaction rating for more than four years – worse than any other opposition leader.
CAAN: Again an Analysis from NEWSPOLL … Newspoll is an Australian opinion polling brand, published by The Australian (owned by Newscorp; Chairman and Founder Rupert Murdoch )
A senior campaign source told The Weekend Australian that Mr Shorten’s popularity was not the main reason the party lost; it was because it had too many policies and failed to defend them against a scare campaign.
CAAN: Yet again a report in The Advertiser by Staff writers, of News Corp Australia Network
Is it NEWS CORP that is alleging Labor had too many policies? Is that because the Coalition had too few?
UNFORTUNATELY for the Constituency, and democracy with so much high wealth behind the Coalition, and its larger share of political donations, how will we in Australia achieve a fair and honest election result?
PERHAPS … ‘if Bill Shorten had been able to unify Labor earlier on these Policies’ … they may well have pulled off the Election?
-time perhaps to look inwardly?
HAS LABOR like the LNP FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS … ?
IS THIS DUE TO THE LOBBYING BY MIGRANTS FOR MORE MIGRANTS?
ALSO why they lost was largely due to the fear and lies campaigns of the ‘death tax’, the Tim Wilson Franking Credits recruiting campaign across Seniors Clubs, and Clive Palmer’s Trump-like b.s. make Australia great …
SEARCH CAAN WEBSITE to read more!
DESPITE … as we keep saying … a Whole Cohort of Australians locked out of home ownership … our Housing Market target is for foreign buyers …
–the low rate of Newstart for the Growing band of Unemployed, the punishing Indue Card, the Tax Cuts to benefit the Rich, high Youth Unemployment and UnderEmployment due to the competition for jobs from low-paid Visa Workers ..
NOW Albo is supporting FTAs … And Fitzgibbon’s retreat on Climate Change … WT *
MEANWHILE why do so many believe ‘The Daily Terror’ … the Spin on the television networks … like it’s Gospel … are they not capable of critical thinking?
LEADERSHIP MURMURS BEGIN AS ELECTION REVIEW FINDS BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS ABANDONED LABOR
The ALP post-election review could have repercussions for Anthony Albanese beyond Bill Shorten. Photo: Getty
The Labor Party’s scathing post-mortem into the 2019 election defeat will be finalised on Sunday amid complaints it’s “a hatchet job” on Bill Shorten and growing concerns about Anthony Albanese’s leadership.
The final report will be thrashed out
over the weekend in talks to prepare the findings before the next meeting of
the ALP national executive.
But there are growing fears it could
reignite tensions in the party, despite Mr Shorten’s attempts to pre-empt
the report by issuing a public mea culpa where he admitted he had too many
policies and that the so-called ‘retiree tax’ to reform franking credits
had angered seniors.
The New Daily understands
the ALP review will find blue-collar workers turned on Labor in a dysfunctional
campaign devoid of a clear strategy and a $60 million Clive Palmer advertising
Conversely, voters in inner
metropolitan areas and white-collar jobs were more likely to back Mr Shorten’s
calls for a crackdown on tax concessions for the rich, and action on climate
Early drafts of the ALP review, led
by former SA Premier Jay Weatherill and former trade minister Craig Emerson, were
highly critical of Mr Shorten.
Dr Emerson, who was a minister in the
Gillard government, has been directly lobbied to soften some of those
criticisms in the interest of party unity.
Union leader Linda White, former
Queensland ALP secretary Senator Anthony Chisholm, former NSW assistant
secretary John Graham and Lenda Oshalem have also worked on the components of
the final report.
Dr Emerson and Mr Weatherill have
interviewed Mr Shorten, Mr Keating, MPs, unionists and campaign staff to
prepare the final report.
The Liberal Party’s own review, led
by Australia’s next ambassador to the US Senator Arthur Sinodinos has also
found Mr Shorten was a drag on the vote.
“What it finds is he was clearly an
asset for us, rather than an asset for Labor,” Senator Sinodinos told The
“His performance reinforced
reservations people had about him. For example, appearing not to want to
explain the cost of his climate change. In the case of blue-collar workers,
economic management was a big issue.
“We noticed a spike in support when
the budget came out. We were getting the budget back into surplus.”
Underlining questions over Mr
Albanese’s leadership there is emerging chatter among MPs about a future
leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya
The battle over the new deals with
Indonesia, Peru and Hong Kong has sparked warnings of an influx of foreign
workers that unions say will put pressure on wages.
Australian Council of Trade Unions
president Michele O’Neil has slammed the decision as anti-jobs.
“They’ve made a mistake that will not
be forgotten by Australian workers,’” she said.
“The decision by the ALP to side with
the government is an abandonment both of their own platform, and of their
responsibility to stand up for fair trade deals which deliver jobs for local
workers, that protect Australia’s public services, sovereignty and visa workers
from exploitation and that ensure international laboir standards in the
countries we trade with.”
ETU Victoria released a savage new
advertisement on social media after the decision, depicting Mr Albanese as a
“13 million working Australians are screaming out for politicians to stand up for them and their families. Sadly, however, Albo has shown it’s just too hard for him,” ETU Victoria secretary Troy Gray said.
Little did he know? Scott Morrison with Josh Frydenberg on Budget night. Source: ABC
Measuring the track record of Australia’s treasurers by worst growth figures detonates the Coalition myth of superior economic management.
Michael West reports on 50 years of treasurers and Scott Morrison’s hospital pass to Josh Frydenberg.
When Joshua Anthony Frydenberg was elected deputy leader of the Liberal Party last year he got his choice of portfolio. Julie Bishop had selected Foreign Affairs. Mr Frydenberg was in Environment and Energy. Treasury offered an extra $32,101 in ministerial salary.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison could show him a nice set of quarterly GDP growth numbers: 0.675 per cent, 0.650 per cent, 0.782 per cent, 0.827 per cent; all up for the year, 2.935 per cent.
Mr Frydenberg chose Treasury and walked into his new office on August 8, 2018. Four weeks later he got the June quarter number. It was 0.716 per cent. It was good too. It lifted growth for the Australian economy to 3.009 per cent for the year.
This was the highest growth under this government and higher than anything Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey had seen. Mr Morrison was truly delivering, or so Mr Frydenberg thought.
Appearances can be deceptive
Did Mr Morrison know that things were already going pear-shaped? What were his Treasury officials saying behind closed doors? Mr Frydenberg certainly found out.
Three months later, in early December last year, Mr Morrison’s last report card was released: 0.447 per cent for the September quarter, almost half Mr Morrison’s 0.827 per cent of just three months ago.
Mr Frydenberg must have turned white and felt the chill of impending failure.
It would only get worse. In March, with an election having to be called, he was told the number was down again; to 0.307 per cent for the December quarter. What had happened? Perhaps he could blame this one on Mr Morrison too. After all, Mr Morrison was the previous Treasurer.
Or perhaps the polls were right, Labor would inherit the mess, it would be theirs to sort out. Like the Global Financial Crisis.
On April 2, Mr Frydenberg gave his first budget speech, probably assuming it would be his first and last. All he had to offer was the prospect of a budget surplus. Better to bury the downward trend in the growth numbers and simply say, “Australia is stronger than it was when we came to government six years ago. Growth is higher …. It is a testament to the strength of the Australian economy that it is its 28th year of consecutive economic growth”.
Bonds, lame bonds
It was true that growth was higher. But it had been a lot higher under Treasurer Morrison than it was now. And it was not true to say the country was stronger, at least if the trend in bond yields and GDP were any guide.
Notwithstanding the narrative “Back in the black and back on track”, the numbers were all heading the wrong way, and it was Budget day.
Quarterly growth had slumped from 0.827 per cent to 0.307 per cent in nine months. It had more than halved.
And, as he stood at the rosewood Despatch Box, the eyes of a nation upon him, he knew that two year government bonds had dived from 1.842 per cent to 1.444 per cent in less than three months.Five year bonds were even worse, down from 1.967 per cent to 1.434 per cent — a shocker, an interest rate nose-dive which augured ominously for the economy.
Worse again; the yield on the five year bonds had been less than the two years bonds, and this had been going on for ten days. A dreaded short-term “inverse yield curve” had arrived and it had been sitting there for nearly two weeks, conventionally a bad omen. Indeed, something not to be uttered in any Budget speech.
The Prime Minister then needed to move fast if he wanted to spin this growth number into the never-never.
On April 10, he called the election and told his party, by his actions, if not his words, that he would run the campaign and everybody else should keep out of the news.
Mr Frydenberg had promised 1.25 million new jobs over five years: “under a coalition there will always be more jobs”. Mr Morrison repeated the jobs number in his campaign launch speech, saying that growth was higher, but not saying what it was higher than.
Obsessed with the excitement and theatrics of the big campaign, it was glossed over by the media.
Now safely and surprisingly back in office: three weeks ago, on June 5, things took another turn for the worse.March quarter growth was now at 0.259 per cent, under one third of what it had been when Mr Frydenberg ascended to the cherished role of Treasurer last year.
You would have to go back to Peter Costello to find any quarterly number that bad, even during the GFC.
It was underplayed however, due to “round-ups”. What the public saw in the last one was the number rounded up to 0.3 per cent but if you looked into the actual data which Mr Frydenberg must receive, it is far more frightening at 0.259. Moreover, the rounded 0.7 per cent from June last year is still sitting in the annual data so it’s propping the headline numbers up.
*Throughout the election campaign, Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg made much of the Coalition’s mantra “superior economic managers”. How does this claim stack up?
*Did you know that the only treasurer to start and also finish his time as treasurer with lower quarterly growth than Mr Frydenberg was none other than John Howard (1977-82)? And he inherited his bad start from fellow Liberal Phillip Lynch.
*Did you know that the treasurer presiding over the worst quarterly growthsince Australian Bureau of Statistics records began in 1959 is likewise Mr Howard at negative 1.214 per cent in December 1982 (the biggest quarterly negative so far)?
*Did you know that the most recent treasurer with worse quarterly growth than Mr Frydenberg is Peter Costello who conceded growth of 0.167 per cent for September quarter 2000, 0.202 per cent for December 2000 (the 2000 figures were affected by the introduction of the GST) and 0.212 per cent for March 2003?
*Mr Frydenberg’s 0.259 per cent is even less than the lowest result during the GFC when Wayne Swan was treasurer and notched up his worst at 0.286 per cent.
And back in 1961, future Liberal prime minister Harold Holt notched up a string of quarterly negatives during his time as treasurer.
Ranking the worst quarterly growth achievers:
*John Howard romps in in 1st, 2nd and 4th positions with the worst quarterlies Harold Holt comes 3rd and 5th Labor’s Paul Keating is 6th.
Consecutive negative quarters – and bearing in mind the definition of recession is two negative quarters in a row – this time ranked by annual negatives:
*Mr Howard is the winner with four quarterly negatives in a row (and the worst annual result at negative 2.943 per cent) Mr Holt had three in a row (and an annual negative 1.237 per cent). Mr Keating had four in a row (and an annual negative 1.147 per cent)
The Australian Bureau of Statistics: 5206.0 Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product Table 2 (1959 to 2019).
So what do Josh Frydenberg’s numbers look like to June?
We’ve let Josh Frydenberg and Reserve Bank chairman Phillip Lowe devise an index.
We call it the MWI – the Michael West Index. It shows that the economy has decelerated since December. It has lost momentum. It’s a bit like what happens when you drive a car uphill and take your foot off the accelerator.
How does the index work? We took the Government’s election pitch on Growth (in GDP) and gave it the greatest weight. We blended in the RBA’s concerns with the CPI and interest rates (bond yields) and gave them less weight. We smoothed the numbers because they only come out quarterly. And added in the currency. All these numbers are down since December. This gave us 75% of the MWI. The rest reflects market sentiment and some data derived daily. It could pick up.
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Michael West established michaelwest.com.au to focus on journalism of high public interest, particularly the rising power of corporations over democracy. Formerly a journalist and editor at Fairfax newspapers and a columnist at News Corp, West was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s School of Social and Political Sciences.
John Howard wants the Liberal Party, on its 75th anniversary, to claim its place as the driver of national economic and social progress, and as an innovator in foreign relations, which has given Australia decades of prosperity and stability, and shaped our national character, aspirations and ambitions.
CAAN COMMENTATOR: Every LABOR PARTY program that has been established, and designed to push Australians forward they have negatively attacked so far:
They were contemplating privatizing the CSIRO in 1997
From 2000 to 2007 they refused to give us Internet despite the fact that we had a bubbling economy then! NBN that was to cost $39 billion was bitterly attacked; they claimed it was too expensive. Malcolm Turnbull mucked around with it raising the cost to over $55 billion now claiming it was Ferrari of Internet.
Now let’s examine LIBERALS inputs:
GST in 2000; 15% Tax on your Superannuation; 2014 to 2019 no wage rise; wanting to designate our Industrial Relations to Corporations. Now according to Simon Birmingham the Trade Minister, constructing roads everywhere and putting tolls on them, therefore, increasing the cost of carrying on business. I can go on all day writing Liberals backward-looking madness against Australian progress*.
It is a bold claim — one that will be contested by Labor, formed in 1891 — but which Howard believes is supported by the contribution the Liberal Party has made to Australia since its formation at conferences convened by Robert Menzies in Canberra and Albury in 1944. The Liberal Party has governed nationally for almost two-thirds of its existence.
“The essential contribution the Liberal Party has made to Australia is progress, stability and laying the foundations of our middle-class character,” Howard, 80, tells The Weekend Australian.
CAAN: It appears that in fact with the return of the Coalition in 2013 that there has in fact been a program to eliminate ‘the Middle Class’ with the loss of home ownership for a Whole Cohort of Australians locked out, priced out largely by the competition from wealthy foreign buyers! Insecure work, lowest wages growth since WW2 with Australians having to compete for work with Visa workers.
CAAN COMMENTATOR: It’s widely known that countries exorcising ‘social democracy’ Norway, Sweden, Denmark for example always do much better than capitalist countries when it comes to looking after their citizens in need of support, and society generally is fairer.
Capitalism is the perfect tool that promotes inequality. In many instances when there is extreme wealth inequality widens exponentially resulting in extreme poverty as the bi-product – as is very evident in the USA and sadly gaining momentum in Australia
“What is often not remarked is it is the party that oversaw the removal of negative aspects of our domestic, political and social discourse. It was under a Liberal government that the White Australia policy disappeared. It was under a Liberal government that a massive contribution was made to reducing the level of sectarianism in the Australian community.
And it was under a Liberal government that the first opening up of Asia as a trading place for Australia occurred.”
CAAN: The following would appear to refute the benefits of this claimfor the Constituency …
In the late 1990s John Howard introduced the changes to our immigration policy for the Chinese Middle Class to embrace the offer of “flexible citizenship” in return for investing in property and education. This led to a housing boom in the early 2000s.
While he SCAPEGOATED REFUGEES …
“He scapegoated the very tiny number of people coming by boat, and at the same time opened the floodgates on people coming by plane,” he said.
Howard is referring to the dismantling of Australia’s racially based immigration program by Harold Holt’s government, the introduction of state aid for non-government schools by the Menzies government, and the signing of the Australia–Japan Commerce Agreement, also by the Menzies government.
To these achievements he adds “the dramatic growth in home ownership” and the rapid expansion of Australia’s middle class in the 1950s and 60s, the establishment of new universities where most students enjoyed scholarships, and “our most important security relationship” with the US being cemented with the ANZUS Treaty in 1951.
Howard, who led the party from 1985 to 1989 and from 1995 to 2007, is speaking exclusively to The Weekend Australian to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Liberal Party of Australia. It is the first in a series of interviews with Liberal prime ministers that will continue next week.
While birthdays are a time for celebration, they are also an opportunity for reflection. Howard acknowledges the Liberal Party has “made errors” from time to time and there are always regrets and misjudgments, but insists “the balance sheet is a very positive one”.
Nevertheless, in recent years the Liberal Party has been convulsed with leadership changes, differences about philosophy and policy, and calls to revitalise its membership and organisation.
But it still managed to win an election this year and is in its third term of government — something Labor has achieved only once, and more than 30 years ago.
In his most candid interview since the election, Howard concedes that Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull had “a people management issue”. The most important relationship that a Liberal leader has, Howard argues, is with those they immediately lead. Abbott and Turnbull are the only Liberal PMs to be felled by their partyroom since John Gorton in 1971.
“People management is critical,” Howard says. “I didn’t do it very well the first time I was leader of the Liberal Party; I was better the second time. This idea that you can reach out across the parliamentary system and draw all your authority from the people is true to a significant degree but if you don’t have a good relationship with the people that you immediately lead, you will get into trouble.”
Howard is generous to Abbott and Turnbull in his assessments of their leadership. He admires how Abbott, as opposition leader, reduced the Gillard government to a minority of seats. He says Abbott fulfilled his promise to “stop the boats”.
View: TONY ABBOTT evokes JOHN HOWARD in slamming doors on Asylum Seekers
He often found Turnbull’s speeches on economic and foreign policy to be well crafted and sensible.
He says Scott Morrison was “a miracle worker to win the last election” and praises his first year as Prime Minister. Howard concedes the leadership churn has been “traumatic” for the party and encourages MPs to continue to support Morrison and usher in a new period of stability.
“I rang Scott Morrison the night he became leader and said: ‘I will do anything I can to help you except barrack for Cronulla’,” Howard recalls. “I’ve been involved in, and seen, enough of leadership contests to understand they happen but we have been through a very strange period and I hope that that is behind us.”
Many of the differences between Abbott and Turnbull were ideologically driven as much as they were personality based. Howard says the key to unifying the Liberal Party is recognising that it is a custodian of both liberalism and conservatism. It is a lesson that must be perpetually learnt.
“It is very much a broad church,” Howard explains. “It is the trustee of both the classical liberal tradition and the conservative tradition. We are not wholly conservative or wholly classically liberal; we are a mixture of the two. And we are normally more successful when that is the prevailing sentiment.”
Some Liberal leaders, such as Menzies, Gorton and Malcolm Fraser, preferred to describe themselves as “liberal”.
Howard and Abbott have used “conservative” to describe their personal political philosophy. Turnbull has described the Menzies tradition as “centrist” and “progressive”.
“There can never be a winner-takes-all approach to everything,” Howard says. “You are going to have differences and managing differences within a political party is a challenge, and it is a greater challenge now in some senses than it was in Menzies’ time.”
Howard is the only living Liberal PM to have met all of his 13 predecessors and successors who have led the party.
Like all Liberals, Howard puts Menzies on a pedestal. He met Menzies only once — at a cocktail party at the Lodge in 1964. (He was mixing drinks.) He especially admired Holt’s focus on Asia. And he formed “a more positive view” of Gorton, who “saw Australia as a single unit” at a time when “economic parochialism” was prevalent. He saw a lot of Billy McMahon and assisted him during the 1972 election campaign.
When Howard was elected to parliament in May 1974, Billy Snedden was Liberal leader. But he thought Fraser should lead the party. Howard supported a spill motion in November 1974 and then backed Fraser against Snedden in March 1975.
Howard served as treasurer (1977-83) during the Fraser government. When Andrew Peacock challenged Fraser in April 1982, Howard stood by his prime minister.
“I thought Fraser was effective as an opposition leader and his early years as prime minister,” Howard recalls. “He became very critical of my government and I thought some of his criticisms were unreasonable, but there you go. He was a very strong, effective leader in his early years.”
It diminishes the Liberal Party’s historical memory that Gorton and Fraser resigned from the party. Gorton stood unsuccessfully against the party as an independent Senate candidate in December 1975. (He later returned to the fold.) Fraser became a biting critic of the party he led for eight years. John Hewson is routinely at odds with the party today. “I think they probably, in some cases, do themselves more harm with their criticisms,” Howard says.
Howard says he did not have a strong ambition to lead the party from a young age. His priority was to secure preselection for a safe seat, win that seat and then join the frontbench. “I can’t say that I saw myself as a likely leader the moment I entered parliament,” he reveals.
But Howard had a rapid rise through Liberal ranks. In only his second year in parliament, he became a minister in the Fraser government. He became deputy leader in April 1982. He lost a leadership ballot to Peacock in March 1983. The long-running Peacock-Howard feud continued through the 80s. When Peacock tried to dump Howard as deputy leader in September 1985 and failed, Howard unexpectedly emerged as leader when Peacock suddenly resigned.
Howard’s first period of leadership was not a happy time. The Liberals were divided between “wets” and “dries” on policy issues. He labels the quixotic bid by Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen to become prime minister and the resulting split in the Coalition as a time of “civil war”. It was the most difficult period during his time in parliament.
Howard defeated Peacock when his leadership was challenged after losing the July 1987 election to Bob Hawke’s Labor. In May 1989 Howard was the victim of a surprise coup by Peacock, who reclaimed the leadership. It looked as if Howard’s chances of becoming prime minister were finished. “That would be like Lazarus with a triple bypass,” he said.
But Howard is Australia’s greatest political survivor. He failed to dislodge Hewson from the leadership after the disastrous March 1993 election. In May 1994, the party made Alexander Downer leader. Then, after Downer’s leadership collapsed, Howard returned, Lazarus-like, to the leadership unopposed in January 1995. He led the Liberals back to power in March 1996.
Howard has identified economic and budget management, taxation reform, border protection and waterfront reform high among his achievements as prime minister.
He especially nominates gun law reform, assisting East Timor’s transition to independence, developing a closer relationship with Indonesia, and balancing relations with the US and China. But in this interview, he will not be drawn on regrets. “I obviously made some mistakes,” Howard concedes. “(But) I’m not into self-flagellation.” Pushed on the decision to commit Australian forces to disarm Iraq in March 2003, Howard acknowledges it was “very unpopular” but not that it was a misjudgment in hindsight.
Howard praises his long-term deputy, Peter Costello (1994-2007), and the four Nationals leaders with whom he worked closely: Ian Sinclair (1984-89), Tim Fischer (1990-99) John Anderson (1999-2005) and Mark Vaile (2005-07). These relationships were indispensable, he says, to leading a government of longevity and stability.
As Howard reflects on the Liberal Party today, he is concerned about declining membership and formalised factions, which did not exist when he was leader. The party had about 200,000 members in the 50s; it is about 50,000 (including the Liberal National Party in Queensland) today.
The result is that the party is less representative of the electorate than it once was and is finding it difficult to attract candidates with a diversity of life and work experience.
“Party membership decline is an undoubted fact (and) it does bother me,” he says. “You have this phenomenon in political parties all around the world where the active membership is unrepresentative of the generality of the people who vote for them.”
When Howard stood for preselection for the federal seat of Berowra ahead of the December 1972 election, there were 33 candidates. When he won preselection for Bennelong for the May 1974 election, there were 24 candidates. Howard says this would not happen today.
“The party is too heavily factionalised and people feel they are wasting their time in nominating because the factions have got it sewn up and anybody who pretends otherwise is deluding themselves,” he says.
Howard supports more democracy within the Liberal Party and says the introduction of plebiscites in NSW should help to break down the influence of factions over time. “I’m in favour of capable party activists getting preselection — I was one myself — and many of them end up making a big contribution, but you’ve also got to allow for the talented outsider,” he says. “It’s quite hard to get talented outsiders if you have a tight factional system.”
Howard would like the Liberal Party to do more to tell its own story. As the author of several books and having presented a documentary on Menzies, Howard has done his share. The history of the Liberal Party is not just a partisan story but one that, like the history of the Labor Party, is inexorably woven into the story of Australia.
“I don’t think the Liberal Party has done enough to promote its own history,” Howard says. “I think the Labor Party has run away with the narratives about Australian history. But we are gaining ground on them.”
Superannuation funds fear an inquiry into the retirement income system could eat into people’s savings, after the federal government appointed an inquiry member with a history of critiquing the super sector.
Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean said the coming review into the sector was a big opportunity to improve the superannuation and pension systems “so that people have more money to live on in retirement”.
But he said the appointment of Professor Deborah Ralston – who has previously lobbied to make superannuation payments voluntary for low-income earners – to the inquiry’s panel could compromise the review.
“I’m not suggesting for a moment that we need to approve the appointees,” Mr Dean told The New Daily.
“But putting up people to lead an allegedly open review who have very fixed and pre-determined views of what the outcome should be, that’s not going to instil much confidence.”
“There’s two significant debates going on. The first is whether super should be compulsory or optional, and the second is whether the [amount of super] that employers pay on top of your wages should be frozen,” Mr Dean said.
“Both of those are bad ideas.
Winding back compulsory super would leave the whole country worse off, as we’d all end up paying more tax to support a flood of people fully relying on the pension.”
Employers must contribute 9.5 per cent of a worker’s salary into their superannuation fund. That figure (known as the superannuation guarantee) is set to increase by 0.5 per cent a year from 2021 until 2025.
The Grattan Institute has claimed these increases will come at the expense of a pay rise for workers.
But Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said the legislated increases were a “pivotal measure to improve retirement income adequacy across all working Australians”.
“We hope that the review focuses on ways to make super stronger, not weaker,” Ms Scheerlinck told The New Daily.
“This means sticking to the legislated timetable to increase in the compulsory super rate to 12 per cent by 2025 and focusing on plugging the gaps in the system to make it fairer for all.”
With Australians living and working for longer, and most women retiring with roughly half the amount in super as men, Ms Scheerlinck highlighted Australia’s ageing population and gender inequity as two particularly important issues she hoped the review would examine.
“There is also the need to re-examine how the age pension currently interacts with the super system and whether the tax concessions could be better targeted,” she said.
Dr Ralston’s appointment comes just months after Liberal backbencher Andrew Bragg called for superannuation contributions to be made voluntary for people earning less than $50,000 a year.
*CAAN: Low wages … lowest wages growth since WW2 … AND … the high competition from Foreign Buyers together have made it impossible for a Whole Cohort of Australians to gain home ownership!*
Australia spent 4.4 per cent of its GDP on retirement incomes last year, well below the OECD’s 2013 average of 7.6 per cent.
And while industry figures have flagged concerns around underperforming funds and unnecessary fees, Andrew Craston, director of economics at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, said the system was far from broken.
“Ensuring superannuation guarantee coverage for the self-employed, workers on lower incomes – particularly those earning less than $450 a month – and persons on parental leave would materially improve retirement outcomes and improve the sustainability of the Age Pension,” Mr Craston said.
“While improvements are always possible, fund members should be aware that the system is not broken – it is considered to be one of the best retirement income systems in the world.”