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Day to Day Politics: When bullshit comes back to haunt you

Friday 16 December 2016

Australia received worldwide recognition for its prompt action when the Global Financial Crisis hit enabling it to avoid a recession. In order to blame Labor for it’s own mishandling of the economy the Coalition releases a report by Griffith University professor Tony Makin criticising the economic stimulus. Makin’s bona fides are highly questionable.

According to the SMH:

“The status of his new paper is unclear. It is dated August 2016 but did not appear on a Treasury website until late Friday morning after requests for it and after two newspapers were apparently given early access to it.”

So one cannot help but think that the substance of the report and its subsequent release was to set up a blaming mechanism to be used this coming Monday when the MYEFO update is released. Treasury had been critical of Makin’s work and it remains a mystery as to how his work was published on its website.

In addition to this the Treasurer has been in recent times reversing the language that supported its attacks on Labor’s debt and deficit disasters.

When previously it attacked Labor’s economic management in terms of the worst imaginable, it is now backtracking on its previous language. Whereas once they proclaimed there was no GFC. Now it seems there was but Labor managed it poorly.

Whereas once they, and their Newscorp supporters, proclaimed Labor debt as a disaster waiting to happen now it seems there is good and bad debt and they know which is which.

So what is the truth of it? Well here is a selection of past Coalition comments when all debt was bad debt.

We are getting to a point where we can’t repay it

“We’re going into hock to our eyeballs to people overseas. And you’ve got to ask the question how far in debt do you want to go? We are getting to a point where we can’t repay it.” – Barnaby Joyce, February 2010

Debt and deficit disaster

“What we will see today is the sad truth that six years of Labor fiscal profligacy has given us cumulative deficits in order of a quarter of a trillion dollars.”

“The repair job started from day one obviously, with the election of the new government, but it accelerates from today given that we will see the full extent of Labor’s debt and deficit disaster.” – Tony Abbott, midyear economic and fiscal update, December 2013

Hockey compares deficits to a house on fire

“On the back of five budget deficits in a row, we have inherited a further $123bn of deficits.”

”We were not prepared to stand idly by whilst a fire was starting in the house.” – Joe Hockey, May 2014

Debt is ‘a financial melanoma, it will kill you’

“This is our first budget, I understand the concerns people have, I fully understand them, but what is our alternative? We either accept that we’ve got a debt problem and we’ve got to turn it around or we basically we say, ‘No, this is only a small melanoma on our arm and if we just wait long enough it’ll go away.”

“No, it’s a financial melanoma, it will kill you.” – Barnaby Joyce, August 2014

‘We inherited a budget emergency’

“We inherited a budget emergency from the previous Labor government and we are working in an orderly and methodical fashion through usual processes of parliament to fix it.” – Mathias Cormann, August 2014

‘Labor were the fire, we are the fire brigade’

“I know what it’s like to get to the scene of an emergency. If you get to the scene of the fire, immediately the situation starts to ease once the fire brigade’s there. Labor were the fire, we are the fire brigade.” – Tony Abbott, 18 March 2015

Australia’s $1tn foreign debt rated ‘extreme’ by S&P

Foreign debt grows by $28.1bn to $1.045tn, but Mathias Cormann says it is lower than if the government had not changed policies it inherited from Labor.

Debt could top $1tn

“Whether the measures that are necessary to return to budget balance are supported is yet to be seen.”

“Failure to do so, in the worst-case scenario, will see our gross debt rise to more than $1tn – one thousand billion dollars – in the next 10 years.” – Scott Morrison, August 2016

Foreign debt is ‘vital’

“Attracting and keeping this foreign debt is vital for this country but there are understandably some concerns about the size and nature of this debt, particularly in the context of maintaining Australia’s AAA credit rating.”

“Once borrowing for recurrent expenditure is under control, we will have more headroom to take on and deploy so-called good debt. This is debt used for investment purposes that increases productive capacity and produces future income.” – Scott Morrison, 14 December 2016

28 March 2014

DEBT is a concern for every family in the New England Electorate” local MP Barnaby Joyce said.

“He said one of the major concerns of the Federal Government was the legacy of the previous Labor Government who left a gross debt projected to rise to $667 billion.”

“Labor wanted to leave every Australian with a credit card bill of $23,000.” Mr Joyce said.

We know that you have to fix the budget if you want to fix the economy.”

“Labor’s legacy to Australians is 200,000 more unemployed, gross debt projected to rise to $667 billion, $123 billion in cumulative deficits, more than 50,000 illegal arrivals by boat and the world’s biggest carbon tax.”

Mr Joyce said the Coalition Government understands the demand from Australians for a strong, prosperous economy and safe, secure Australia.

Labor causes chaos then complains about the clean-up” he said.

Reading all of that you can be left in no doubt that the Coalition had a miserable view of Labor’s ability to manage the economy and that debt, as described by Barnaby Joyce was tantamount to an economic life in hell. They have been shouting it with all the vileness their mouths could utter for over 6 years.

Now on the eve of announcing that indeed they are far worse economic managers they are reverting to spin and lies. Yes their words have come back to haunt them. And the worst part of it is that they will probably get away with it. Yes the crisis is of their making but come Monday the Treasurer and the Finance Minister will put on their very best bullshit suits and at a press conference (although last year they didn’t have one) and with their high-speed motor mouths proclaim that debt of their making is superior to that of Labor’s. That debt is good when they govern but a living hell when Labor do.

My thought for the day.

“Politicians who change their minds aren’t necessarily seeing the light. They might just be feeling the heat.”


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  1. ace Jones

    648 .. Six Hundred and Forty-Eight Federal Liberal govt. advisers to be re-deployed to ATO …. its not true but does that really matter these days

  2. Terry2

    Well it looks as though the government are on top of budget cuts and fixing the deficit, yesterday they announced that from 1 January 2017 they will cut child dental care entitlements from $1000 over a two year period to $700.

    Minister Sussan Ley gives as her rationale for the cuts that the full $1000 was not being fully utilised . So, rather than ploughing this surplus back into additional services for children (and adults), the allocation is cut.

    Go figure !

  3. Möbius Ecko

    Terry2 that was a favoured Howard/Costello tactic. They sometimes achieved their over allocations by making the application and conditions for getting an entitlement onerous and restrictive, but would then claim in propaganda they had implemented the full amount originally allocated.

    I have no doubt this government will claim the child dental scheme as an overwhelming success because it was fully utilised but didn’t require the full allocation.

  4. Ella

    Mr. Lord,
    I for one will not be watching, I will NOT submit myself to all the anger and distress of listening to them.
    We know that they spend money on things like Royal Commissions (but not into banks.) just for one and then take the wasted money from the skins of those who can least afford it.
    Providing tax cuts to those who should pay tax and will not accept that they have a revenue issue.
    The sorry saga of this LNP Government is sickening.
    I hope Labor will find some intestinal fortitude with the aid of those so called Independents and bring this government down.
    The sooner the better.

  5. wam

    A good dose of truth today, Lord.
    The alp boys could be laughing at the boo and pistol tomato head.
    The alp girls could be laughing at the payne of cash withdrawals by suss on everything.
    They could together be giggling at the son of a small car as an inept treasurer.
    The alp strategists could be devising questions for kochie and karl baby’s brother to ask.
    But labor has not the rabbott’s understanding of the effect of fans on heat.
    Good to see your ‘hanson’ assessment(5/7/16) repeated.
    But any change of mind has resulted from evidence of which heat is one.

    Could little billy grow and capitalise or will he leave it to the dixxbransims, hanson and hinch?(has the slimyX retired??)

  6. stephengb2014

    Such a fertile government for an opposition to have a field day, every day.

    Is it possible that in parliament such a field day is implemented but our captive MSM just too captured by LNP reprisals to report it?

  7. MichaelW

    It’s not debt. It’s efficiency expenditure, or something like that.

  8. Andreas Bimba

    Neoliberalism is the melanoma attached to Australia, not the so called ‘debt’. For a currency issuing government like our federal government the so called ‘debt’ is more accurately described as just a record of additional money spent into the economy which is essential if the economy is to grow. It should never be repaid and in fact to do so would contract the economy, plunge us into recession and greatly increase unemployment. Leaving a smaller and weaker economy to future generations that would be true intergenerational theft.

    Currently government bonds are issued in a parallel operation to the same value as any federal government deficits but these bonds do not fund the deficit. This practice is a historic relic from when the Australian dollar was pegged to the value of gold. Such bond issuance could end immediately the government so decided.

    All federal government spending is in fact new money creation and all federal taxation extinguishes money. The gap between the existing economy and its productive growth capacity can be funded by new money creation by the federal government without any risk of inflation or any additional debt being incurred.

    The neoliberal corporate lobbyists spread these lies about federal government debt as it serves their destructive ideology that small government that doesn’t ‘waste money on people’ and instead rewards the already wealthy is the ideal economic system. So called ‘trickle down’ economics. Because consumption demand from the general population is constrained the wealthy have no desire to invest their wealth gains in new production or business capacity and so such wealth redistribution to the wealthy is inherently economically contractionary as well as being extremely unjust to those discarded by the economy.

    Because the electorate incorrectly assume the federal government’s ‘debt’ is just like that for a household or business where too much debt is indeed risky, the lies of the neoliberals are generally still believed. The electorate does indeed end up voting for its own destruction and for true intergenerational theft by ensuring a smaller and weaker economy is left to future generations.

  9. stephentardrew

    Excellent as usual John.

    Point is the planet is going to hell in a hand basket while the media has become so complicit in the lie that they believe their own propaganda. Cognitive dissonance writ large supported by an endless flow of lies and misinformation. The financiers and corporations are peddling the government debt lie while they continue their drive for increased inequality and the real debt burden private citizen based debt servitude. They continue to convince people black is white while drowning them under a burden of private debt charging more and more fees to drain your life savings from what little most of us have.

    Conservatism is a parasitical virus that will not stop until it eats the very life out of the citizens it is purporting to help and the biosphere that gives support to life. They care not one iota about you. That treasury has allowed itself to be so deeply politicised demonstrates clearly that we no longer live in a democracy but a corporate plutocracy driven by lying neoliberal and neo-conservative propaganda and insatiable greed yet citizens still swallow this absolute load of concocted garbage.

    We are on the cusp of environmental devastation while the doyens of greed convince you to slumber in a pot of water while they turn up the heat only to boil you alive while you sleep. Point is can you wake up before it is too late. The signs are not looking good.

  10. Wayne Turner

    “Australia received worldwide recognition for its prompt action when the Global Financial Crisis hit enabling it to avoid a recession”. – Except where it really mattered: Australia. No instead we got the MSM’s LYING version aka the LYING Libs version.

    The LYING LIBS and The Australia mediaocracy continues…

  11. helvityni

    I’ll be more happy to have Gillard as our PM, and Swan as the Treasurer; now we have Turnbull and Morrison, not much to rejoice there.

    Why don’t Australians stop believing those LYING LIBS, that’s what I don’t understand..

  12. Kim Southwood

    I agree wholeheartedly, John. Those whose politics allowed the GFC are now pointing the finger at those who won global respect for their handling of it.

    Now might be a good time for Social Democrats to strike back with some facts on Neo-Liberal inefficiencies. Going back to the time of the GFC, our then PM (Kevin Rudd) defined neo-liberalism and social democracy in a contemporary context in an impressive 7000 word essay (link:

    At the time (and still today) I am impressed by his clear, concise explanation of the cause of the GFC. I have never forgotten that the economic chaos of the day, which is still with us and will get more entrenched as long as the neo-libs run the show, rests squarely with the past and current ‘open/free’ market, Neo-Liberal leaders.

    Unfortunately, there has been a polarisation in politics, rather than an honest appraisal of our times. But both major polar extremes are clinging to corporate support to maintain their position. The corporations and big banks, (oligarchs, moguls, new-age mafia bosses and other hopefuls) transparently revel in the power they exert. Turnbull spruiks innovation but practices the opposite. He tries to sell a few minor tweaks as major achievements. Shorten makes a few broad brush gestures towards fairer practice, but stands for not much seriously promising.

    A case in point is Labor’s contradiction on the issue of climate change which is at the centre of our economic malaise. Broad brush – Shorten wants to address it. In practice he supports our fossil fuel producers, most notably Adani – largest coal mine in the Southern Hemisphere. How serious is that?

    I recommend that true Social Democrats re-visit the causes of the GFC and offer serious policies to redress the wrongs. Is social media the new way ‘acceptable’ to spread the message, or does it just impact the converted? It seems that activists with a more direct approach are being too easily dismissed as ‘ratbags and leftist loonies.’ Perhaps those who really want serious change need to swell the ‘loony’ ranks to make their goals more legitimate!

    Ironically, the ‘trouble’ with activists is that their goals are often too humanitarian for the public taste which has been corrupted by fear-mongering and extreme remedial action disguised as successful policy.

    Thought for the day: We might describe the major parties as politically bi-polar.

  13. totaram

    Andreas Bimba has explained the real problem. Unfortunately, the Labor party and even the Greens, believe the nonsense about govt. “debt”. So do many people who read this blog. Until that hurdle is cleared, we have no real hope. Kim Southwood is correct. Anyone who tells the truth about govt. “debt” is dismissed as a loony. We need many more loonies to turn the tide.

    In fact, if Labor understood correctly, what is happening, they would have countered that poster by one showing the extent of private sector debt, which was run up by the Howard govt. because of their “surpluses”. It is a far higher debt, and can lead to another financial problem because of default. No default is possible on govt. debt.

  14. jimhaz

    [Such a fertile government for an opposition to have a field day, every day]

    I think this shows that the ALP still has too many “should have been liberal” folks in their ranks.

    I blame the unions. Too many union leaders have become useless fat cats on a gravy train.

    Nowadays in a wage and conditions restraint era (ie low expenditure) due to the pay and conditions equalisation demands of globalisation, they did not reduce union fees to attract membership as they were afraid of loosing the gravy train they were on.

    Of course they are just one example of the loss of people power due to the corruption of US political systems over the last few decades, wherein only money buys policy.

  15. Bacchus

    In support of Andreas Bimba and totaram, this from Ellis Winningham a few days ago.

    Those who live in fear of credit ratings agencies, and those who do not, would be well advised not to read this article that appeared in the Financial Review. Those who buy into the fear-mongering will only remain terrified of the monster they are told is hiding under their beds that lies in wait for them to turn out the lights, so it can pull the covers off, scream “boo!” and then eat their shoes. Those who know that these credit ratings have no meaning whatsoever to national governments that issue their own currencies will only be left cleaning up a huge mess when blood shoots out of their ears from the extreme stupid.

    Well worth a read of the entire article!

  16. Andreas Bimba

    Kim Southward, that article written by Kevin Rudd that you provided a link to is indeed an impressive piece of work. Rudd certainly deserves a great deal of respect for initiating the appropriate measures during the GFC of stimulating consumption through direct grants and through the school building and the home insulation programs. The latter was however badly managed by the bureaucrats. Imagine if Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were in power when the GFC struck, massive numbers of business and personal bankruptcies would have occurred and unemployment would have been enormous. Rudd also shows he is well aware of the risks of allowing the financiers to do as they please.

    Rudd’s article does however reveal that he is a neo-Keynesian and a neoliberal lite. He writes that budgets must balance over the cycle and repeats the standard neoliberal lies about the danger of excessive federal government debt. He does not realise the basic truths of macroeconomics as they apply to any government with its own sovereign currency. The Modern Monetary Theory economists like Bill Mitchell do understand how the economy works and he and others have been spreading the word for a few decades now yet the minds of the ALP’s economics elite remain as closed as the hard core neoliberals in the Conservative parties.

    The Greens also unfortunately remain in the neo-Keynesian macroeconomics camp but at least they have a policy of federal deficits of 3% of GDP for as long as it takes to transition to a sustainable economy.

    Rudd also talks of the dangers of protectionism and is almost as guilty as the Conservatives for the destruction of our manufacturing industries. Totally free trade is a race to the bottom for countries like Australia and the optimal solution for Australia is something in the middle – moderate trade protection whereby highly automated manufacturers can compete with imports. For example a 15% tariff would probably suffice to retain our automotive and white goods manufacturing industries. Labour intensive manufacturing like most clothing and footwear does however not suit developed countries like Australia as consumers would be excessively burdened.

    A multi party system where the electorate could choose between Monetarism, neo-Keynesianism and MMT macroeconomics would be a big improvement over our current predicament. Proportional representation voting would then be needed to break the stranglehold of the duopoly.

  17. Andreas Bimba

    Bacchus, I enjoyed Ellis Winningham’s torrent of contempt, humour and macroeconomic truth directed at our current baseless concerns about losing our AAA credit rating.

    “As far as the people of Australia go, they should ignore any and all talk about credit ratings, and rid their government of the current crop of politicians that are running it. Rip the neo-liberal infestation out by the roots and plant a new crop of politicians who understand macroeconomic reality and are willing to expand the deficit towards full employment, the public’s well-being and prosperity.”

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I wonder what it will be like when Uncle Rupe,

    FINALLY drops off the perch and no longer rules his large stake in the MSM with an iron fist.

    I wonder if that is when obvious lies by the LNP can be hosed down with the retribution they deserve.

    I would have thought this following comment clever [if it weren’t for the sociopathic, senseless speaker and his wrongful summation] because it was my birthday:

    ‘Labor were the fire, we are the fire brigade’

    “I know what it’s like to get to the scene of an emergency. If you get to the scene of the fire, immediately the situation starts to ease once the fire brigade’s there. Labor were the fire, we are the fire brigade.” – Tony Abbott, 18 March 2015

  19. zoltan balint

    Mr Lord, if you hate someone anything they do will be the worst thing ever, even if you would have done the same thing if they did not do it first. Even if it was the best action you would still find problems with it. Sounds like the LNP thinks it is married to Labor and the LNP wants a divorce.

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Quite right zoltan balint,

    if a duel between the Lib/Lab dinosaur duopoly.

    However, smart people should be looking to widen the field and to give the field depth of difference.

    Hence the need for The ALLiance which combines Left Political Thinking that seeks to bring reformist, progressive and inclusive change for All Aussies.

  21. Matters Not

    Andreas Bimba at 5:17 pm

    school building and the home insulation programs. The latter was however badly managed by the bureaucrats.

    The historical record will show that the bureaucrats in question, via the Minister, warned the Rudd Cabinet of the dangers re the proposed implementation of the ‘pink batts’ disaster. Rudd as the master of Cabinet gave the Minister an almighty ‘backhander’ and ordered him (and the bureaucrats) to ‘just do it’. Time was of the essence (and in economic terms he was correct) but he refused to take advice as to the implementation risks involved. This failure to listen to others comes from his belief that he is infallible. Kevin ‘knows’ things.

    Yes Rudd is a ‘brain’ but in many ways he is a ‘political dill’ – and I won’t go into the insufferable arrogance that earned him all types of pejorative descriptors when he ‘controlled’ the Queensland Public Service. I should add, it was not only the ‘bureaucrats’ who hated him but also almost the entire Cabinet and certainly the whole of backbench. Almost alone, he caused Goss to lose government.

    If you work with Rudd, you will come to hate him. And sooner rather than later.

  22. zoltan balint

    Jennifer … give me a sec … … … – … nah can not think of any smart people in the LNP. We’re f …

  23. zoltan balint

    Matters not Andreas (sorry could not resist that, you should change your tag) Yes Rudd is responsible for not controlling the bats and realising that there are businesses out there in Ausiland that pray there is a situation (like employment, education, old people, child care, … ) that the government is putting money in AND THEY WANT A PIECE OF IT. YES YES thank God there are innocent people in this world. If you are willing to take you shall receive. Praise the Lord.

  24. Kim Southwood

    Andreas and Totaram, I strongly agree the electorate (including me) would benefit from a better understanding of current economic theory, which seems key to taking us where we want to go. I enjoy being enlightened in this forum. Also agree with Matters Not that Rudd had no finesse in getting the best out of those he needed most in that time of crisis.

    At least his essay did shine a sharp and timely spotlight on the origins of the GFC: great ammunition to hit back with in the current war of words.

  25. Zoltan Balint

    you should be very careful using Tony Makin’s article as some sort of bases for your pint of view as his qualifications to comment have been questioned. I do agree that Rudd was not the sharpest tool in the shed but at least he tried to do something different to the rest of the world.

  26. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    you make me shiver in my shoes since you seem to have read my comment, as some sort of plea for the LNP menagerie.

    Perish the thought!

    If they were farm animals, they’d be off to the abattoir! Some could say, it’s a pity they don’t swap places with those farm animals.

    Never mind, we’ll be rid of most of them next election when The ALLiance made up of the Greens, Left Leaning Labor, progressive micro parties and sane Independents is formed to beat the LNP resoundingly, and to bring about reforms for equitable, innovative and intelligent progress, which supercedes the neoliberalism that has constricted Australia for more than three decades.

  27. Andreas Bimba

    Zoltan, governments can be more efficient providers of goods and services than the private sector with proper planning and the right management. The government sector also has the advantage of cheaper finance and the ability to sail through bad economic periods. The private sector is known for cutting all costs to the bone and maximising profits and trying to drive up share prices which are hardly appropriate aims for most service delivery enterprises such as healthcare, agedcare and education as well as for utilities.

    Compare the UK’s NHS with the US health system where 30% of health insurance fees go to profit and marketing and the less wealthy often miss out on adequate healthcare. Rorting for example with hospital fees, doctors fees and pharmaceutical costs are largely unrestrained.

    Compare the semi government owned SECV with the shambles that came with Jeff Kennett’s privatisation. Mass layoffs of workers, deteriorating infrastructure, big profits for investors, huge sums wasted on marketing by billing companies, billions in compensation for the carbon tax, little investment in clean energy, major increases in electricity charges, overcharging for recent investment in ‘poles and wires’, the Morwell coal pit fire due to neglect, the government being left with the cleanup bill for when power stations are decommissioned and a fragmented structure that is virtually impossible to transition smoothly to clean energy.

    The Snowy Mountains Scheme was a highly successful government project where most of the construction work, detailed design and hardware were provided by the private sector through competitive bidding.

    I have worked for Toyota which is the world’s most profitable automotive company but my most productive employer was the tunnel construction operations of the semi government Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. This tunnelling group was later sold off to Transfield.

    Some privatisations have however provided productivity benefits and an example is when AMECON took over the Williamstown Naval Dockyard in Melbourne.


    Jennifer, I would certainly hope the progressive side wins office next federal election after two terms of the worst Conservative federal governments in Australia’s history but unfortunately Australia may do a ‘Trump’ by electing many more One Nation representatives who will align with the Coalition and allow them to continue in government. Polling in those states where mining was a big employer such as Queensland and WA as well as regional Australia in all states show that large numbers may switch to One Nation.

    The WA elections in March next year will give a good idea where politics will head. Those that are unemployed, underpaid or worried about being laid off will vote for whoever they think can deliver jobs and currently the progressive side is not seen as offering this. It is therefore essential that the ALP the Greens and any progressive micro-parties and independents be more radical about rejecting the failed neoliberal path and offer full employment policies which means adopting substantial levels of economic stimulus by spending on clean energy and vital infrastructure, restore government services and wealth redistribution policies just like Bernie Sanders offered in the US.

    I would also strongly recommend openly campaigning to reintroduce moderate trade protection to enable the survival of highly automated and capital intensive Australian manufacturing and for existing FTA’s to be amended. Trump gained many votes for highlighting the job losses associated with NAFTA and from excessively free trade with China.

    If the ALP effectively remains a party of the Financial establishment like Hillary Clinton and the US Democrats they will likely suffer the same fate and the slide to neoliberal corporate feudalism will continue.

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Andreas.

  29. zoltan balint

    Andreas, for years I have been saying the government is the entety that can – should – will build public infrastructure on behalf and the request of the people they serve. Privatization of public assets should only happen when the asset is mature and not of critical need by the society AND the money is used to build another asset the society needs that the private sector does not or could not build. Government are nothing else but the administrators of public assets.

  30. zoltan balint

    Jennifer the Government is us – we own the Government. The group of people working in Canberra are employed by us and we pay their wages. When did the workers start telling the boss what the boss has to do.

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Agree, zoltan.

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