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ABC opts for Murdoch misinformation on MYEFO

For those who may be watching the ABC to get updates on the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, don’t bother.

The first thing I saw was a large banner on the bottom of the screen:

Australia scheduled to be out of debt by 2021

For those more interested in the truth, MYEFO actually says

“Net debt is expected to be $343.8 billion (18.9 per cent of GDP) in 2017‑18. Net debt is projected to peak at 19.2 per cent of GDP in 2018-19, before declining over the medium term to 7.7 per cent of GDP ($228 billion) in 2027-28.

Gross debt, measured as the face value of Commonwealth Government Securities (CGS) on issue subject to the Treasurer’s Direction, is expected to be $531 billion at the end of 2017-18 before increasing to $583 billion at the end of the forward estimates. By the end of the medium term (2027‑28) the total face value of CGS on issue is projected to rise to $684 billion.”

As of December 15, Australian Government Securities on issue had a face value of almost $517 billion.

No matter which way you look at it, the ABC is talking crap and appear to have fallen into the Murdoch habit of headlines that misinform.


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  1. etnorb

    Sadly, since the Mudrake crony has been appointed to head the ABC, things seem to have gone downhill! Not only the axing of popular (& ABC only!) TV shows, but the “general tone” seems to have dropped somewhat in comparison with previous ABC heads! It seems as if Mudrake’s “tone” applies to all that work or used to work for this dickhead! My only hope is that no more TV shows are axed, or if they are, something equally as good takes its place. However, with this current head I think that even “worse” things may happen, & “our” ABC will become even more “dumbed down” with TV shows of little value or interest to the “typical” (& usually discerning) ABC viewer/listener. At least, PLEASE enable “our” ABC to only present facts, news & current affairs etc in the ABC “way”, NOT some stupid bloody fake news & crap news Mudrake way!

  2. Harry

    Hi Kaye,

    I differ on the significance of Commonwealth debt.

    Its quite correct to point out that under the Coalition the level of so-called debt has increased since they were elected. I do think that the level of State and local government debt can be an issue as they have no ability to create money in contrast to the C’wealth; so they have to fund spending from taxes, fees and charges plus what they receive from the GST dole-out. Like you and I they do have substantial ability to borrow from banks to fund capital works which will serve generations of taxpayers. But there are serviceability limits. If they increase borrowing too fast or too much they will have to increase taxes substantially to service their debts or sell assets of course. The key question in that case is: who pays? Voter resentment ensues and the state government loses office.

    So under the paradigm you apparently subscribe to the federal government is in a similar situation to the states and broadly to that of a household: debt essentially has to be limited otherwise the federal government could become insolvent or interest rates will rise or spending has to be severely curtailed to prevent a budget blowout and ballooning debt.

    I think that paradigm is flawed (apologies if I have misunderstood where you are coming from). It plays into the hands of neoliberals who want to limit the role of government as much as possible. This is incredibly damaging to so many in society as Scott Morrison and others have been able to claim that There Is No Alternative (TINA) to returning the budget to surplus. Few seem to really challenge the logic and the “need” for that aim. But many progressives accept TINA without much questioning or at most exhort the government to tax the rich rather than the neoliberal approach of cutting spending.

  3. amethyst3009

    Yes, I used to think the ABC was the ‘go-to’ for information. The facts were presented in an unbiased fashion. People were able to poke gentle fun at the government (of whatever flavour) with satirical drama and comedy.

    Now I feel on edge and i have to have my ‘impartiality meter’ constantly running, as I find that the news (which used to be so well trusted) is now so full of government spin, as to be an arm of the lnp.

    Sad, frustrating and very frightening.

  4. Kaye Lee


    In your haste to push your MMT barrow again, you have neglected to read what I have written and completely misinterpreted the intent of the article which is displayed by the headline.


    They have sidelined their strong interviewers. Oh for a Kerry O’Brien again or even Sarah Ferguson.

    When Leigh Sales was returning from maternity leave, she insisted that limp lettuce leaf Uhlman take over for a while so the contrast between Sales and Ferguson wouldn’t be so stark.

  5. Harry

    OK Kaye,

    What is your take on all this? Does the debt matter? You actually did not write much. What are you trying to say?

    What barrow are you pushing?

    I am not trying to be snide but want to understand where you are coming from, what your views of economic reality are.

  6. Alpo

    Looking forward to seeing what’s the coming ALP Shorten Government going to do re: the ABC.

    This Neoliberal Government has been desperately trying to keep unemployment at bay by increasing the ranks of the public sector. If this sounds rather un-Neoliberal you are perfectly spot on, it is. But when you are desperate, even Neoliberals try to disguise as “Socialists”. But there is an additional trick, I guess: Neoliberals pack the public sector with useful mates… in the ABC, CSIRO, ABS, ADF, etc.

  7. DipsoFacto

    Kaye, if you watched Ferguson’s fawning, hagiographic ‘interview’ with Hillary Clinton, you would have seen that there is no stark difference between her and Sales. Her over-rated reputation rests more on her ominous inflexions and apparently ‘serious’, allegedly ‘probing’, intent than anything else. Clinton went completely unchallenged.

    But thanks for your brief, necessary, but ire-inducing penetration of the ABC mind-set.

  8. totaram

    Alpo: I have not checked, but I have read somewhere that the increase in employment is indeed in the public sector, but caused by the NDIS, which the coalition would love to scupper or cut but cannot really do just like Medicare. I also understand that Queensland is replacing the slash and burn in the public service of Can-do Newman’s govt.

    What Labor will do to the ABC, I don’t know because when Rudd came in, he did not remove all the conservative culture warriors John Howard had stacked the board with.

  9. Kaye Lee


    I am trying to say that the ABC is using extremely misleading headlines.

  10. townsvilleblog

    As a regular ABC viewer I see the difference in what used to be and what is. The news now just covers an issue as a headline, but does not really explain in layman’s terms what the situation really is. When we lost Kerry O’Brien we lost the only interviewer that would question politicians without fear or favor, he was the top person in his craft in Australia. His replacements have been mediocre at best, and it is clear that instruction has been given from Guthrie as to how to present what now passes as ABC News.

    However, that said the commercial networks also fall into line, and rarely ask a difficult question of a government Minister. Their current affairs shows seem to concentrate on the odd dole bludger, or someone who rout’s the system, but never in prime time do they ask why is it that 30% plus of the multinational multibillion dollar foreign owned corporations get away without paying a red cent in income tax? Is there an investigative journalist left in Australia who will break a government scandal? I fear not.

    We desperately need need such an individual however they have to eat like the rest of us, and if they are instructed to ‘go easy’ on the current government then they as employees will fall into line, which is a real shame in this 21st century, it appears that unregulated capitalism goes unchecked as one cannot see a tory government installing a federal Crime & Corruption Commission because ICAC found so many State LNP politicians in NSW that it became embarrassing and the structure of ICAC was altered accordingly. We still see news on various online networks such as The Guardian reporting of a coal fired NSW power station that was recently sold by the State LNP government for a million dollars probably to a donor, that was independently valued following the sale to be worth something like $70 million, but no rolling heads anymore as ICAC these days is a toothless tiger.

    Ordinary people have lost much in these recently past LNP government years, and we probably will not retrieve what we have lost under a weak Labor government, so it looks as though the average working person on a median wage of around $43,000 per annum has little to look forward to. They will work until they reach 70, if they reach 70, and retire on a miserable pension that loses value every day as the LNP have altered the mechanism of payment to CPI increases, instead of the percentage of male average weekly earnings, ensuring that the median worker will work in poverty and die in poverty, a very sad situation for what was once an exemplary country that looked after the people who built it.

    We have a situation in Australia which is similar to the yanks, where we choose between two right wing political parties, neither of which really have the workforce at heart, one party is slightly less destructive to working people than the other however it seems that the yank corporations have ruined this once great country in record time, and the hurtful thing for me is that except for Sally McManus the ACTU Secretary nobody seems to give a damn.

  11. Kaye Lee

    In Hockey’s first MYEFO in December 2013, he fiddled the books and then stated “Without any policy changes, the budget is projected to be in deficit in each and every year to 2023-24 and Commonwealth Government Securities on issue would reach $667 billion (around 26 per cent of GDP) in 2023-24.”

    Seems like all their policy changes haven’t changed that trajectory.

  12. Jack Russell

    Yes, Kaye. The true purpose of this current government is to set up legal and financial structures that siphon off, as quickly as possible, the wealth of this country into the hands of private parasites … and, to achieve that, it is imperative that they also corrupt the institutions that could interfere with this activity. It is also necessary to enlist other institutions and individuals who’s greatest talents are in the areas of misrepresentation, misdirection and outright lies, to manipulate the voting citizens into passivity as they rob us blind. The Sherriff of Nottingham would be sooooo proud!

  13. Jaquix

    I just cant believe a word Motormouth Morrison says. And the ABC has definitely let us down, especially during the Bennelong campaign, although it did today graciously allow Chris Bowen and Jim Chalmers a decent amount of time to pick the MYEFO to pieces. What is obvious to me is that this government is continuing on its merry way of transferring wealth (and privilege) upwards towards themselves and higher. At the expense of the rest of us, of course. And I know this is boring to repeat, but the media lets them get away with it. Im heartened though that Facebook and Twitter give people a voice and the majority of it is not inclined to trust this government.
    Something that has got lost in all the Bennelong hoo ha, is that Malcolm Turnbull and Christian Porter do not intend to give those people who endured horrific abuse as defenceless children, any compensation for that abuse if they later went to jail. Porter sanctimoniously opines “To ensure public confidence in the system”. Meanspirited, despicable people they are. Quite happy to inflict even more pain on these people who were damaged by their childhood experiences.

  14. Jagger

    I must admit that Michelle Guthrie has done a spectacular job with the ABC, she was sent in to destroy it and she’s managed that in no time.

  15. guest

    I see where the Coalition claims it will take $23bn off the debt. Meanwhile it is reducing monies to welfare, universities and family payments. The Coalition will also reduce company tax whether or not companies pay any tax at all, and there was a brief mention of middle class tax reduction as well. Is this what is known as “small government”?

    Meanwhile we had the kerfuffle against Dastyari which must have had some effect on voting in Bennelong – which was the purpose of the contrived exercise in the first place. But I cannot help but think – and I know it is legal – that our PM has his money stashed in a foreign banking system to reduce tax payments and he comes up with some kind of paranoidal Chinese xenophobia against our top trading partner.

    And another itch. There are those who keep telling us that Labor is no better than the Coalition with regard to policy, especially with regard to globalised neo-liberal economics Maybe, but I would like to know how critics of Labor in that area would decouple from international economics. As I see it, Labor had sufficient differences compared to Coalition policies at the last election to make it clear that Labor and the Coalition are not the same. It was disappointing that the Coalition scraped in by one seat – and are still on tenterhooks even after the Dastyari contrived distraction.

    If you are not sure about that distraction, read “The Hunting of the Sam” (15/12/17) by Barry Hindess, Emeritus Professor at ANU School of Politics and International Relations. The Coaltion has good form for ad hominem attacks on people who annoy them. And they seem to get away with it.

  16. economicreform

    Anyone with the slightest understanding of economics would know that the budget will likely remain in deficit for a long time to come, whatever our politicians happen to be claiming. The banner “Australia scheduled to be out of debt by 2021” is obvious nonsense. Why do they do it? One can only conclude that this is a deliberate attempt to give some credence to the hysterical outpourings of Morrison. And giving support or credence to talk of a budget surplus at this time is dangerous for our country, because any misguided attempt to impose it in a sustained way would crash the economy.

  17. JohnI

    Maybe that banner was just an application of Hanlon’s Law:

    “Never attribute to malice, that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”.

    It looks like the person who was responsible for the banner hasn’t studied Economics, because they made the rookie mistake of mixing up stocks and flows. (Maybe the Business, Finance and Economics staff were at a Christmas party and someone who normally covers e.g. sport was in charge of the graphics; who knows?)

    What was said in MYEFO was that (on current projections) the Budget would be back in surplus by 2020-21. Now, the money going in and out of the Government’s various accounts during the year are flows. The debt created by the ‘outs’ exceeding the ‘ins’ on balance over many years is a stock.

    So, all that was being said was that Government debt will peak in 2019-20, and fall after that – “on current projections”.

    And – finally – someone fesses up that maybe chopping people’s pay is no good for economic growth and thus the Government’s fiscal position. From the Graudian’s MYEFO coverage:

    “The forecast for GDP growth in 2017-18 has been revised downwards, from 2.75% to 2.5%, after Treasury factored in the larger-than-expected fall in consumer spending in July, August, and September that followed cuts to public holiday and Sunday penalty rates on 1 July. ”

  18. Christian Marx

    ABC have lost the plot. The final straw for me was when they blocked my page, DLATP from posting comments on their News Facebook page. They don`t like the truth.

  19. totaram

    economicreform: you know they don’t care if they crash the economy. In fact they love it. Every crash gives them assets to pick up cheaply, and when the economy picks up again they are twice as rich as they were before! Check out the results of the GFC in any country.

  20. totaram

    Christian Marx: the ABC hasn’t lost the plot. They’ve just cottoned onto a new one, as devised by Michelle Guthrie, once part of the Murdoch stable.

  21. Kaye Lee


    I saw that interview with Clinton and felt the same. To tell the truth, I haven’t seen a good interview in a very long time. On the rare occasion when a lie is exposed, the interviewer quickly says well that’s all we’ve got time for and moves on to a story about pandas.

  22. stephengb2014

    What I find difficult to comprehend 8s that after the unbelievable shambles of Abbott s leadership the nonsense of Hockey and Abetz, there were sufficient numbers to keep them in power.

    I fear for the intellectual capacity of the average voter.

  23. Wam

    What the ABC say is not worth a lettuce leaf because no rabbotts watch it.

    The intellectually bottom 60% have no problems with the rabbottian style lies because they hear and see them.

    When billy decides to feed controvesy to the morning shows they will hear and see the alternative but labor leaves morning comments to mark latham. QED

    2019 is in trumbles bag already.

  24. Harry

    Sorry Kaye I understand where you are coming from. I did react too quickly.

  25. Kaye Lee

    MYEFO forecast a smaller deficit of $23.6 billion compared with the previously forecast of $29.4 billion for the 2017-18 financial year.

    That’s interesting because the monthly accounts show “The underlying cash balance for the 2017-18 financial year to 31 October 2017 was a deficit of $23,130 million.”

    That means, for the next eight months, the government will only increase the current deficit by half a billion even though, in the first four months, they overspent by over $23 billion. Optimistic?

  26. mark

    God,that picture of Guthrie speaks volumes.Thanks kaye.mark

  27. Florence nee Fedup

    I have obviously been misinformed for most of my 70 plus years when it comes to the ABC. Seems present management believes it is not to serve the best interest of society, to provide access to the arts, to inform, even educate. It is about aiming at lowest denominator, about audiences.

    Mostly it is now about not upsetting the sitting government. This in spite it is a independent statutory body that no government should interfere with in any way.


    i get what u r saying Kaye and agree entirely. watched an interview on abc with morrison and it was just congratulatory back slapping for morrison without any critical analysis. but then that is all you get from them – the unqualified inexpert opnion of journalists without any genuine knowledge of any specific field. their idea of objectivity is impartiality which they present as balanced reporting which just means they present two partisan opinions. thats not objectivity. we never see theoretical economists intetviewed or social scientists just fiancial sector hacks from banks or the commericial sector talking about markets etc. the abc is crap. just mediocre celebrity journalists expressing their uniformed opinion in reliance upon some fallacious notion that members of the press have some special privilege to opine that ordinary citizens dont.

  29. MikeW

    Reading the SMH lately I was wondering if Murdoch had taken them over, same goes for the Guardian. Bring back Sarah Ferguson, let’s see the coalition dipsticks answer her questions.
    The whole of the media seems to be taken over by the Mudrake press lately. How much influence does this piece of garbage hold?

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