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Better economic managers?

It is in the nature of human beings to remember the past with rose-coloured glasses. Remembering the good bits and not dwelling on the bad is a healthier way to live.

That being said, the reality of the past can help inform us about the present so we can make better decisions for the future.

The following is an article published on July 19, 2007, four months before the election that saw the end of the Howard era. The italics are my comments.

TREASURER Peter Costello has given Prime Minister John Howard a negative assessment as an economic manager in a new biography, comments which are set to reignite leadership tensions in the federal coalition.

(Leadership tensions? Poor economic management? In the Coalition government?)

In a frank interview with the authors of the Prime Minister’s biography, extracts of which are being published in Fairfax newspapers, Mr Costello said Mr Howard’s time as treasurer in the Fraser government was “not a success”.

“The Howard treasurership was not a success in terms of interest rates and inflation,” Mr Costello told the book’s authors.

(Howard was Treasurer in the Fraser government from 1977-83. In 1982, wages rose 16 per cent across the country resulting in stagflation; unemployment touched double-digits and inflation peaked at 12.5%. Official interest rates peaked at 21%)

Mr Costello continued the criticism today during a radio interview.

Asked on ABC Radio whether he believed Mr Howard’s time in the treasury was wasted, Mr Costello said: “I think a lot of Liberals would say they hoped that the outcomes would be more ambitious”.

Mr Howard earlier today dismissed anonymous calls by two Liberal MPs for him to retire before the election and suggestions that he was too old for the top job.

(Howard was 68 at the time. Bronwyn Bishop turns 73 in October.)

Howard ‘no reformer’

According to the extracts of the book, Mr Costello says Mr Howard was “not a great reformer”.

(Reform takes ingenuity and courage – something we are even less likely to see from an Abbott government)

On his failure to deregulate the financial system under Mr Fraser’s prime ministership, as recommended by the Campbell inquiry, Mr Costello said: “He (Mr Howard) would say to you now, ‘Oh well, I was always in favour of it and Malcolm stopped it.’

(The familiar blame game)

“You know the truth of the matter is if he had really wanted to push it he could have pushed it.”

Mr Costello also takes issue with Mr Howard’s record as a fiscally responsible treasurer, questioning the Prime Minister’s subsequent statement that he threatened to resign in protest at Mr Fraser’s profligacy.

“He was threatening resignation a long time after the event but there was no evidence at the time,” Mr Costello said.

(When cornered, rewrite history. Unfortunately for Abbott, people have gotten very good at retrieving deleted speeches)

Concerns at PM spending levels

The authors say Mr Costello expresses concerns at the sustainability of the amount of money the Federal Government is spending at the Prime Minister’s insistence.

(Fiscal profligacy” according to the IMF)

“I have to foot the bill and that worries me,” Mr Costello said.

“And then I start thinking about not just footing the bill today but if we keep building in all these things, footing the bill in five, and 10 and 15 years and you know I do worry about the sustainability of all these things.”

(Take heed Abbott, Hockey and Cormann. The Treasurer of the day admits that the unsustainability of our future is due to the profligacy of John Howard during the boom– not the Labor government who successfully steered us through the Global Financial Crisis. Compare the results of their response to the GFC to Howard’s response to the economic crises of the early 80s.)

Twelve months ago a bitter row erupted after Mr Costello revealed Mr Howard, now in his fourth term as Prime Minister, had struck a deal with him to stand down after a term and a half.

The Prime Minister told Liberal MPS several days later he intended to contest a fifth election this year.

(Ambition before integrity seems to be something Howard and Abbott share – and Abbott wants to run the election campaign on trust? As Bill Shorten would say – bring it on – the film clips of broken promises, lies and backflips will be endless)

‘Leaked memo’ claims

In the new biography by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, Mr Costello has suggested Mr Howard deliberately leaked a memo in 2001 to damage him.

“I read it as an attempt to finger me for the Government’s maladies at that point,” Mr Costello said in reference to the 2001 publication of a memo about his possible leadership challenge.

The memo was from then federal president of the Liberal Party, Shane Stone, to Mr Howard.

“Allegedly, only one copy was ever written by Shane and it was given to John Howard,” Mr Costello said, adding an investigation into the leak by two senior Howard staffers was still going on as far as he knew.

(Leaking to the press to damage your opponents wasn’t invented by Kevin Rudd)

The publication of Mr Costello’s comments come as senior Liberal MPs back Mr Howard to remain in the top job, despite the coalition’s poor showing in recent opinion polls.

(It didn’t work then for them and sticking with Abbott is an even bigger gamble)

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Mr Howard had the capacity to lead the country for years to come.

(As Foreign Ministers do – it’s a sweet gig that you wouldn’t jeopardise, hey Julie?)

Mr Howard is reported to have “bared his throat” at a cabinet meeting on Monday, inviting his colleagues to blame him for the poor polling, but sources said they gave him their support.

(Will 2007 repeat itself? The lead-up is looking similar – poor polling, leadership tensions, treasurer unable to implement reform)

Never a Howard-Costello foursome

The extracts also reveal that while John and Janette Howard have dined privately with various ministers and their wives during the Prime Minister’s 11 years in government, there had never been a foursome with Mr Costello and his wife Tanya.

“It might be a Sydney thing,” the Treasurer says.

(Aside from those hideously awkward photo shoots of Tony and Joe looking at over-sized graphs, I wonder if the Abbotts and the Hockeys get together after Tony took the leadership Joe thought was his)

Even knowing all this about John Howard, I never felt the horror for him that I feel about Tony Abbott. Howard was arrogant and wasteful – Abbott is incompetent and dangerous.


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  1. Neil of Sydney

    Wow, now you are saying we should be listening to Costello after saying it was the Costello tax cuts that destroyed the budget.

    Fact is the economic numbers in 2007 were the best for a generation. Most probably never to be equaled ever again.

    And the economic numbers of the Hawke/Keating govt were a disaster.

  2. Kaye Lee

    lololol How did I know you would be the first to comment Neil. I note you don’t dispute anything in the article. Costello himself warned at the time that the tax cuts and spending forced on him by the PM were unsustainable into the future.

  3. Neil of Sydney

    No I think Costello was against the spending but not the tax cuts. And i wonder what unsustainable spending you are talking about? Because we could sure do with cutting it now. And you seem to be saying that Howard did to Costello what Fraser did to Howard.

  4. Möbius Ecko

    In spite of Howard, Costello did manage one major reform to the financial sector that was a logical and necessary follow on from Keating’s reforms. That reform along with Rudd’s stimulus helped get us through the GFC. If you look back through the Howard reign you will see it was the only successful major reform implemented in nearly 11 years of government. The rest of the time is littered with Howard policy failures, many of which have now been openly documented and commented on both here and internationally.

    When the Australian history of wasted opportunity is published it will show Howard’s 10½ years of throwing away the billions of a sustained economic boom, started before he gained power, to be by the most wasteful period ever. A lost opportunity that Australia is still suffering for to this day, and Abbott without the uncountable revenue Howard was raking in, is set to exacerbate to an nth degree. Damage that will take many decades to unwind.

    Footnote. Kaye did Neil go on about Labor debt? Considering this current government has now almost tripled the debt left them and their spending is more or less out of control, which is why they are so desperate to increase the GST and blame the States for it, it would be more than disingenuous for Neil to go on about Labor debt now.

    And isn’t it something that both Howard in government and Abbott in opposition often said the only party who would ever increase the GST would be Labor, yet here we have Abbott pushing for a large increase.

  5. M-R

    Frankly, whatever Costello has to say about Howard is not worth bothering about.
    I loathed Howard with a passion: it was he who turned Australians into right-wing rednecks (well, many of us,anyway). But then, I loathed the entire NLP cabinet.
    Now I loathe, detest and actually fear them: this lot is dangerously mad.

  6. diannaart

    Damnation! A disappointed optimist such as yours truly really didn’t require memory provoking reminiscences on the Howard/Costello era.

    Yes, most people do paint the past in warm rose, however some of us remember all only too well.

    Excellent post from Möbius Ecko. I predict (this is my internal optimist) the Abbott government will be the last conservative government able to boast of economic credentials – too much evidence now revealing just how profligate the Libs really are.

  7. Neil of Sydney

    I loathed Howard with a passion: it was he who turned Australians into right-wing rednecks

    Wow i did not realise that Howard was so powerful.

    When the Australian history of wasted opportunity is published it will show Howard’s 10½ years of throwing away the billions of a sustained economic boom,

    You must have written that one hundred times and for the one hundredth time i will give the same reply. When Howard/Costello were reducing our Commonwealth debt the State govts, all Labor were increasing their debt. How come such different results during the same economic conditions?Just look at the debt Beattie/Bligh racked up.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Mr Howard refused to spend a penny on public transport in cities despite the fact that urban congestion inhibits productivity and therefore jobs growth.

    Under Mr Howard, the nation’s ports were so clogged that freighters lined up for days for access to loading facilities when they should have loaded and been halfway back to Asia.

    By 2007, public investment in infrastructure as a proportion of national income had plunged by almost 20 per cent from its Keating-era level.

    Mr Howard withdrew $2 billion from the federal roads budget he inherited from the previous Keating government.

    The incoming Howard Government also cut $1billion from the same 1997 Budget that had been allocated over the forward estimates for the construction of a Second Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.

    Planes should have been landing there by now.

    In 2005-06, Mr Howard’s last full year in office – tax revenues as a percentage of GDP stood at 24.2 per cent, having sat around 24 per cent for the previous few years off the back of the mining boom.

    By 2008-09, on Labor’s watch, the global financial crisis had smashed government revenues to 21 per cent of GDP and they fell further to 20 per cent in 2010-11.

    Despite this, Labor delivered record infrastructure investment to stimulate the economy during the GFC.

    According to a Treasury report released in 2008, the mining boom delivered the Howard Government $334 billion in windfall revenue to the commonwealth between 2004 and 2007.

    Instead of investing the proceeds of the resources boom into nation building, the Government squandered it on middle-class welfare.

    But in only six years in office Labor doubled the nation’s road budget, built or upgraded 7500km of roads and 4000km of railway track and lifted per capita infrastructure spending from $132 a person to $225 a person.

    When Labor took office, Australia was 20th on a list of 25 OECD nations in terms of investment in infrastructure as a proportion of GDP. When they left it was 1st.

  9. Kyran

    Brilliant comedic writing, Ms Lee. After I finished laughing (which started at the headline) and reading, I indulged in more nostalgia and did the ‘wiki’ thing on little johnnies ministries. Seeing familiar names of so many incompetent, self serving, self indulgent, self opinionated, wannabe’s over four governments (listed as Cabinet, Outer Ministry’s, and Parliamentary Secretaries), and knowing where these ‘people’ are now (either in government or sponging off it) only increased the irony.
    Your segue from comedic irony (possibly ironic comedy) to satire was brilliant as well.
    “It might be a Sydney thing,”, and the first comment is from Neil of Sydney! Hilarious. Out of curiosity, is ‘Neil’ an alter ego of Rossleigh? Like Dame Edna to Barry Humphries? If that’s the case, can I suggest he spell it “Kneel”? Whilst crass and blunt, I think it’s entirely appropriate.
    “Better economic managers”. Hilarious. Thank you Ms Lee. Take care

  10. Möbius Ecko

    Hell Neil the reason the Labor State governments had to increase their debt was because Howard had reduced the Commonwealth’s. He starved the States just as Abbott is doing. Howard did it because they were Labor and notice how Abbott is favouring Liberal State governments in his policies, like attempting to get WA out of the shit by increasing the GST whilst he punished SA by destroying it’s manufacturing and renewable energy base.

    How come WA has record debt under a Liberal government though it is the richest mining state that increased it’s royalties after fighting against the MRT. How come Newman’s severe austerity failed? How come this Abbott government has nearly tripled debt on it’s own after Abbott stated they would be back in surplus in their first term. Now they are saying at least 20 years until a surplus with some economists saying under the current policies it won’t be achieved in 40 years.

    And of course Neil won’t address any of these unpalatable to him things, as he has always ignored the facts and hammered over and again his misdirections and distortions.

    Howard was a spectacular failure as a Treasurer under Fraser and history is revealing he was a failure as a Prime Minister. That he’s a moral failure as a human being is another matter.

    But of all Howard’s considerable political failures his biggest by far was spawning Abbott as an attack dog and then endorsing him for the Liberal leadership. Something Howard obviously regrets as he’s spoken out against Abbott’s policies and political style.

  11. Neil of Sydney

    According to a Treasury report released in 2008, the mining boom delivered the Howard Government $334 billion in windfall revenue to the commonwealth between 2004 and 2007.

    I have seen that comment a million times. I don’t believe it. That means Costello got an extra $100B/year in revenue for his last three years. It would have shown up in the 2004 budget before Costello started giving it back as tax cuts.

    That Treasury report is a load of nonsense. You know from time to time you be suspicious about things.

    And Howard did spend on Infrastructure


    Australian Government investment in rail and road infrastructure in 2005-06 is $2.2 billion — a figure that will grow even higher in future years as the Australian Government continues to implement AusLink, the National Transport Plan. AusLink has radically transformed how Australia plans and implements the rollout of essential transport infrastructure, directly linking rail and road improvements with industry needs and growth.

  12. kathysutherland2013

    Economics aside, Howard’s work with gun control was great. I don’t know that I’d forgive him all of his other bad policies, but perhaps I could discount a lot!

  13. Möbius Ecko

    Wow. In 10½ years of record revenue and public sell off $2.2 billion on one project that Labor in government extended. $2.2 billion whilst billions more than that was taken out of infrastructure and given in tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited large corporations and the well off.

    Oh shit, I forget his greatest infrastructure achievement. Flagpoles for schools.

    Howard was not called profligate by several institutions and spokespersons for nothing. His dismal record is there for all to see.

    Told you Neil would ignore the facts about Howard’s failures. Always has and always will. Next his answer will be Labor.

  14. Neil of Sydney

    Wow. In 10½ years of record revenue

    I must admit i have never understood the hatred you have for Howard. The economic numbers for the Howard govt will never be beaten.

    When you get a chance read this little gem from John Faulkner

    Faulkner being a ALP MP i have trouble believing anything he would say. But i know this comment by Faulkner is wrong

    the rorting of the $500 million Regional Partnerships program, with massively disproportionate grants being allocated to coalition seats –

    I have studied this particular program since it was a 2007 election issue. It is true that the Coalition got 70% of the grant money. But it was not disproportionate. The reason that Coalition got 70% of the money was because they had 70% of the seats. It was a regional program and the Coalition has more seats in regional Australia. It was in exact proportion to the seats they held.

    Conversely any granting program in the cities would be expected to favour Labor since they have the majority of seats.

  15. Möbius Ecko

    Kaye I would research Howard’s gun control policy in detail. Though I agree with it and Howard’s intention, and unlike most of his other policies a decent effort was made on it, it was still a significantly flawed policy that was under resourced.

    Under resourcing was one of Howard’s greatest tricks. He would promise funding in a budget, bring in the policy but usually with onerous and convoluted conditions attached and in the end never spend anywhere near the amount he promised. Yet when spruiking his government he would always quote the amount he promised, not the amount he spent.

    Costello was the one who enabled ministers to not release final spending outlays as not in the public interest, yet again proving how deceitful and dishonest Liberal governments are.

  16. dwejevans

    Is it true that Abbott was M.I.A., (or A.W.O.L?) when there was a move against Howard shortly before the ’07 elections? Otherwise we would have had the Abbott and Costello Show.

  17. Kyran

    With sincere apologies, Ms Lee and Mobius Ecko. I honestly thought this was comedy.
    I read Ms Lee’s link and, as Faulkner observed, he only had 20 minutes. The litany of abuse would be fodder for many articles, far longer than 20 minutes. More irony.
    In the first Rudd government, Faulkner had several hats to wear. Off his ‘wiki’, check this out.
    “In his role he introduced new rules for ministerial conduct and fundraising aimed at reducing the influence of lobbyists on government decisions. He also introduced new guidelines reducing the overt political control of government funded advertising.”
    Had to laugh again. Chopper! Bishop, not Read.
    Whilst I don’t regard Faulkner as a visionary, I will always hold him in high regard as a ‘straight talker’. With regard to gun laws as a legacy to coward, it wasn’t a serious problem in the first place. Does it sound familiar to anyone else, like “There’s a threat?” Now, the threat is terrorism.
    In closing, another apology. For rossleigh. I thought Neil was an illusion/allusion. I had no idea he was real. He does, however, appear to be delusional.
    Most grateful for the link. Take care

  18. Kaye Lee


    It has become impossible to do satire anymore despite rossleigh’s valiant attempts. Every time he tries, his satirical predictions come true. And yes, the article and Neil are real. Neil has been stuck on a loop for many years which makes answering him pointless. He reminds me of the early version of a Mathias Cormann doll….pull out the string and you get the same series of responses regardless of what you are discussing.

  19. Neil of Sydney

    Neil has been stuck on a loop for many years

    So have you people. Like that $334B in extra revenue that Howard supposedly received from 2004-2007 from the mining boom that you mentioned Kaye. It just cannot be true. It is absolute nonsense. And it shows more about you people that you believe such things. And what happened in 2008/2009? Did this $100B/year extra revenue suddenly stop? If Howard had a mining boom in his last three years Swan had an explosion. Just look at the commodity prices under Rudd compared to Howard.

    Same goes for Faulkner saying that the Regional Partnership Program was rorted because the Coalition got 70% of the money. They got 70% of the money because they had 70% of the seats.

  20. Roswell

    It just cannot be true.

    Oh yes it can, Neil. Now go away and do some homework instead of being a fly in the ointment.

  21. Grant Moss

    It’s interesting to note these comments by Peter Costello (who can believe he is related to Tim Costello?) the man who seemingly didn’t have the “ticker’ to challenge Howard.

  22. sean new

    And the economic numbers of the Hawke/Keating govt were a disaster.

    howard got a 96 billion dollar deficit which 39 billion dollar was from the Fraser government with john howard as the Treasurer

    so Neil of Sydney that makes you comment of “And the economic numbers of the Hawke/Keating govt were a disaster.” silly by any standards

  23. Neil of Sydney

    And the economic numbers of the Hawke/Keating govt were a disaster.

    They were a disaster. Govt debt was at only 6% of GDP when Fraser lost office in 1983 and ended up at 18% of GDP in 1996. Govt debt tripled under Hawke/Keating, we lost our AAA credit rating and unemployment was high for all 13 years.

    And guess what unless we start running surplus budgets soon we will lose our AAA rating again. But people who believe in MMT do not think we need to run surplus budgets. It is that thinking that got Greece into trouble.

  24. Möbius Ecko

    As usual Neil ignores the elephants in the room of Howard’s plethora of failures and engages a misdirection he will harp on about for the next few years.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    And the topic diversions onto Labor begin as it’s hijacked . Should have have stuck to my long time ignoring of Neil.

  26. Roswell

    Neil, the last time I looked, this topic wasn’t about Hawke or Keating. Perhaps you’re on the wrong site.

  27. Roswell

    Mobius, we could have an article about the Patagonian tooth fish and Neil would try to derail it into something Labor did decades ago.

  28. Neil of Sydney

    Neil, the last time I looked, this topic wasn’t about Hawke or Keating. Perhaps you’re on the wrong site.

    The topic is who are the better economic managers, Labor or Liberal so my comments are on topic.

    I must admit i have never understood the hatred Labor supporters have for the Coalition. The economic numbers of the Howard/Costello govt were brilliant. Unemployment went from 8% to 4%. Debt went to zero. Everything was funded at a good level but all i remember from Labor supporters are hatred and lies. Just got lucky, mining boom etc etc.

  29. Möbius Ecko

    Whenever Howard and his failings is raised you can count on Neil to come bumbling in to defend him, not by addressing those failures but by always bringing up the same past Labor narratives purely as diversion to get the topic off the Howard failings and onto posters defending Labor.

  30. Möbius Ecko

    Sorry Neil you can’t even get the topic right. It’s about the falsehood the Liberals are the better economic managers. If you go by your own standard then you have to admit this Abbott government are woeful economic managers.

  31. Harquebus

    I have never known a better government. They have all been progressively worse.

  32. corvus boreus

    Möbius Ecko,
    Who is this ‘Abbott’ you speak of?

  33. Neil of Sydney

    Whenever Howard and his failings is raised

    Do you ever consider you could be wrong. Remember when you said Australia’s Marine Park Network was a great creation of the Gillard govt and the benefit the fisherman were getting from it? Well i had to inform you the Marine Park Network was a creation of the Howard govt.

    You have been wrong many times.

  34. Awabakal

    No, “Unemployment went from 8% to 4%”. Unemployment recordings were manipulated and posited to create data that showed less people unemployed, when in reality those unemployed were given new titles or the actual unemployment were on training regimens to massage the unemployed data. As you full well know, the deceit is in the phantom spider web of public service new-speak.

  35. Möbius Ecko

    Awabakal. Howard used the same measuring stick for unemployment that the previous government did and is being used today. Yes it’s manipulated, but it’s manipulated the same way by both parties when in government.

    Where Howard is disingenuous is that employment creation is mostly a State function and as there were nearly all Labor States throughout Howard’s reign it means it was mostly Labor who got the unemployment down from 8% to 4%, and they did so by going into debt and spending on the things Howard cut.

    Look at what Howard did in 10½ years and you will see little to no policies on job creation, just as Abbott has little to no policies on job creation and again it’s the States who are attempting to make up for the Federal shortfall.

  36. Pappinbarra Fox

    Yes Mobius and Neil Howard did spend on infrastructure – he built the Adelaide to Darwin railroad. I fine piece of engineering designed ot carry white elephants from the city to the city. Grande work Johnnie.

  37. Andreas Bimba

    Peter Costello’s criticism of John Howard arises from the fact that Costello is even more neo-liberal and more of a servant of the rich elite, than Howard. Howard was more in touch with the mood of the electorate or at least the swinging voter and adjusted policy accordingly so that he would be re-elected, while still advancing the destructive cause of neo-liberalism.

    We were extremely lucky that such a mean spirited right wing nutter like Peter Costello didn’t become PM but now we have his fellow brown shirt Abbott and his pathetic group of ministers in power.

    Some more things we should be grateful to John Winston Howard for:

    * The Howard government watered down electoral laws in 2005, including raising the threshold limit for disclosure from $1500 to $10,000; CPI increases have lifted that figure to $13,000. This has greatly exacerbated the corrupting influence of lobbyists over our governments.

    * Mass media ownership became much more concentrated during his rule which has enabled a small group of right wing media moguls to control most of the commercial media and to present false news and a biased view of reality that has manipulated public opinion and the course of elections and government policy.

    * The extremely generous tax deductions such as negative gearing and the low rate of tax for capital gains that subsidise the most wealthy and divert capital to unproductive real estate speculation as well as making housing unaffordable for many or condemning many more to mortgage payment servitude.

    * The superannuation rort where commercial fund managers receive highly lucrative and largely hidden fees while delivering rates of return less than the average growth rate of the share market. This money is provided by citizens not by choice but through regulation. The super top ups are another tax avoidance rort for the wealthy that greatly shrinks taxation revenue.

    * Due to an abismal failure to fund an adequate level of infrastructure, the lives of many has become more difficult with much time and resources devoted to commuting to work for example. The public private partnership method of funding for infrastructure was yet another rort for the wealthy where generous tax deductions were provided to private financiers that over the term of the contract cost the taxpayers far more than if those projects were funded by conventional loans.

    * The gradual transition of much of our education system to a user pays or privately owned model that disadvantages the less wealthy, sets up a preferential system for the children of the wealthy to ultimately receive the best jobs and added to the financial stress and personal debt level for many.

    * The unrelenting attack and demonisation of labour unions that has weakened the bargaining power of most workers and exacerbated the decline of real wages, consumer demand and economic growth. The abuse of the 457 visa to allow the entry of large numbers of low pay foreign workers.

    * Promotion of the mantra that stimulatory government deficits are wrong and that governments should run surpluses even though this is inherently contractionary and inevitably leads to increased private debt. The Modern Monetary Theory economists have proven that it is possible to have near to zero unemployment and underemployment by stimulating the economy with moderate government deficits within the constraints of the economies ability to grow and without producing excessive inflation.

    *General decline in the quality and range of services provided by governments.

    * Privatisation of government owned enterprises that has led to large job losses, loss of most apprenticeship positions, usually increased costs to consumers and money diverted to easy profits for the new owners and valueless expenses such as marketing. For example the electricity billing companies spend up to 60% of their expenses on marketing while important electrical distribution infrastructure was often left to decay.

    * A continual reduction in the proportion of total tax revenue paid by corporations and the wealthy through tax deductions, tax law deliberately written with loop holes and non enforcement of tax evasion by cutting the staff numbers for the ATO.

    * A general wealth shift from the working class and middle class to the most affluent and to corporations that has shrunken consumer demand and reduced economic capacity from where it otherwise would have been.

    * A participant in the public deception about Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction and the justification of the 2nd Gulf War and the Afghanistan War that led to the loss of so many lives and injured.

    * The introduction of a raft of free trade agreements that have uniquely in the world, apart from the equally foolish Americans, totally exposed our manufacturing and associated service industries to import competition from nations that subsidise their industries, artificially lower their currencies and find alternative means to restrict imports. The loss of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry for example was set in train by John Howard when he signed the Thailand Australia free trade agreement and lowered the tariff for non FTA countries to an irrelevant 5%. All subsequent governments added more nails to the coffin by signing more and more unnecessary FTA’s. The Abbott regime sealed the fate for the automotive manufacturing industry when they refused to provide the compensatory regular government grants, which were the substitute for tariffs, in subsequent years.

    The FTA’s were always a con as the promised job opportunities were always greatly exceeded by job losses and the beneficiaries were the international corporations who could make more profit by manufacturing in low labour cost countries. The people’s reprentatives, our governments, had betrayed them yet again for a few dirty bribes.

    Our mining and bulk agricultural export sectors did not need the FTA’s as they already had good market access. Given the world demand for meat, what incompetent trade negotiators we must be that we need to sacrifice our remaining manufacturing sector and a few more ‘unimportant’ hundreds of thousands of jobs through more FTA’s to sell our beef and mutton?

  38. Neil of Sydney

    * Due to an abismal failure to fund an adequate level of infrastructure, the lives of many has become more difficult with much time and resources devoted to commuting to work for example.

    My understanding is that those things are funded by the State govts. I am posting this link not because i think it is totally true but it shows Howard did fund infrastructure

    Budget countdown: Auslink infrastructure planning fail

    Auslink dwarfed Regional Partnerships. Established in the lead-up to the 2004 election, it brought together existing road and rail funding programs and established a “National Network” of nationally-important transport corridors. The first iteration involved funding of $11.8b over five years from 2004-5; the second, which starts in July this year, costs over $22b, except both political parties promised even more than that during the 2007 election campaign.

    Nearly all of Auslink was in Coalition-held electorates at the time. This was back when the Commonwealth didn’t fund infrastructure where most Australians live — cities.

    Auslink funding was mainly in Coalition seats because an upgrade of the Pacific Highway from Sydney to Brisbane will mainly go through Coalition seats. Traditionally State govts fund roads in the cities

  39. Neil of Sydney

    The extremely generous tax deductions such as negative gearing

    Do you have a link which shows Howard introduced negative gearing?

  40. Andreas Bimba

    As Kaye wrote, Howard would often announce big spending schemes but when it came to implementation, much of the promised funds were no longer available. Also grand schemes well into the future usually fell on to other governments to implement. In addition he substantially underfunded the states and this had a strong negative impact on state government infrastructure spending as the states still had to pay for higher health and education costs.

    I should also have mentioned Howard’s GST which being a flat tax and that included many essential everyday purchases was a net shift of the taxation burden onto the less well off as it replaced a portion of the progressive income tax and business taxes.

  41. Andreas Bimba

    Have a look at Chart 2 in the wikipedia link below and you will see when the speculative rort of negative gearing for existing properties took off thanks to John Howard but continued by neo-liberal team B – the ALP.

  42. Neil of Sydney

    But you said Howard introduced/invented negative gearing. I do not think that is true.

    And you should read the Crikey link. Howard did spend on infrastructure. Traditionally the Federal govt funds roads in the regional areas and State govts fund the cities.

    Budget countdown: Auslink infrastructure planning fail

  43. DC

    Neil, Howard didn’t invent negative gearing but it was originally exclusive to new dwellings to promote investment in housing and jobs in the building industry as well as helping to keep housing availability so as to keep prices affordable. Howard in his wisdom decided to change the rules so that negative gearing can also apply to investors who buy existing houses (not just new ones). I’ll leave you to dwell on the implications of that change

  44. Andreas Bimba

    Neil, one has to say crikey to your link about infrastructure. It points to gross pork barrelling by the reprehensible Nationals, poor prioritisation, an absence of cost benefit analysis and poor cost control for regional road projects. I do however concede that many regional roads were however built or upgraded during the Howard period but much more is needed.

    As for railways yes the Adelaide to Darwin railway was built which is fine but the rest of our railway network is still very poor and due to energy efficiency advantages this should have been given higher priority.

    Thanks DC for the negative gearing clarification.

  45. Neil of Sydney

    Neil, one has to say crikey to your link about infrastructure. It points to gross pork barrelling by the reprehensible Nationals,

    No it doesn’t. It actually points out that you are wrong when you say Howard did not send on infrastructure.

    Also my understanding is that the Commonwealth traditionally spends money on roads in regional areas from say Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane whereas State govts spend money on roads in the cities. Using your logic State Labor govts were pork barreling the cities which mainly vote Labor. To say upgrading the Pacific Highway is pork barrelling because it runs through National Party seats is just nonsense. The Pacific Highway is an important road.

    Howard in his wisdom decided to change the rules so that negative gearing can also apply to investors who buy existing houses

    When did this happen? The only thing i could find that Howard changed was some capital gains tax rules.

  46. Mr Pappinbara Fox

    Andreas, you probably did not pick up the irony in my comment. The Adelaide to Darwin rail is the biggest waste of money ever. It costs more to ship one container on that rail than to ship a container all the way from Melbourne to Singapore by boat. I believe that the real reason so much money was wasted on the line was for defence of the north reasons, but one missile would make it unusable anyway. If you want to spend a lot of money on rail try a VFT from Brisbane to Melbourne with capacity for goods carriage.

  47. Neil of Sydney

    The Adelaide to Darwin rail is the biggest waste of money ever.

    Maybe so but it was the biggest infrastructure project since the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

    It points to gross pork barrelling by the reprehensible Nationals,

    Upgrading the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane is not pork barrelling because it runs through National Party seats. After Howard lost govt the upgrade was continued under Rudd/Gillard. The Commonwealth whether Labor or Coalition funds roads in the regional areas.

  48. eli nes

    The difference is labor is saddled with respect for collegiality.
    The rabbutt would not have let hockey hide from his effort as a poor treasurer or not have been on robb’s case over FTAs or andrew’s gambling destruction would have been aired.
    wtf let it slide the lord will provide.
    wtf fitzgibbon with a 3 year mouth so sordid is rewarded
    wtf the neils cannot see that:
    if costello says howard was a lousy treasurer and the world says howard was profligate that is evidence suggesting the coalition under howard had a poor economic management strategy
    if the world congratulates swan and labor that is evidence to suggest labor had a good economic management.

    wtf just read NoS’ words and laugh at his ignorant flights of fancy. I hope labor begins to treat the rabbutt with the disdain he deserves rather than find something sensible in his indoctrinated eavings.

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