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Election 2022: Can a Short-term Economic Indicators Save Mainstream Politics from More Adversarial Rhetoric?

By Denis Bright

Josh Frydenberg’s address to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) in Canberra brings the LNP’s campaign agendas back into full focus. The Morrison Government is depending on a budget bounce in polling to save some of the LNP’s furniture against a swing of up to 10 per cent in WA where the government holds two thirds of federal house seats from the 2019 elections.

With the announcement of the election date less than a month away, Josh Frydenberg must play the role of the loyal lieutenant as his magic short-term economic numbers ameliorate the forthcoming rendezvous with the electorate after a disastrous couple of years in Australian politics. At this stage, only a premature resignation of Scott Morrison could change the short-term agendas.

The Australian put a lot of weight on the ACCI address. It was published in advance of the address on 21 March 2022. The full text of the address is readily available on the Treasurer’s web site.

The LNP identifies itself as the appropriate administration to rebuild that old normalcy in the traditions of Menzies, Howard and possibly Josh Frydenberg in the future as Prime Minister or at least Opposition Leader after the 2022 election. Josh Frydenberg is splendidly qualified for either of these roles and is surely one of the most academically qualified Treasurers in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The PM’s nostalgia for a return to normalcy was evident at a recent doorstop interview at the WA Chamber of Commerce breakfast on 16 March 2022:

We knew we had to spend during the pandemic to get the economy through, but we also know when it’s the responsible time to stop that and start returning the fiscal management, the money management of our economy and of the government back to more normal settings. And the Treasurer will have a bit more to say on that.

Right on cue, the ACCI address showed a grasp of detail with some assurances that the treasury portfolio was in caring and competent hands with its saturation of good short-term economic indicators.

YouGov polling was still highly unfavourable to the LNP. The Treasurer was enthusiastic about ameliorating these polling trendlines (Poll Bludger, 13 March 2022):

As reported in The Australian, the latest fortnightly Newspoll records no change for either major party on voting intention, with Labor retaining a lead of 55-45 on two-party preferred and 41% to 35% on the primary vote. For the minor parties, the Greens are down a point to 8%, One Nation is steady on 3% and the United Australia Party is down one to 3%, with all others up two to 10%. Anthony Albanese has drawn level with Scott Morrison on preferred prime minister for the first time since Morrison’s post-bushfires nadir in February 2020 at 42-42, after Morrison led 42-40 last time. Morrison’s approval rating is down two to 41% with disapproval steady at 55%, while Anthony Albanese is respectively steady at 44% and down one to 42%. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Saturday from a sample of 1520.

As mentioned in many previous articles, the future trendlines of our market economy are embedded in actual levels of capital expenditure rather than short-term economic projections.

Both federal and state deficit spending offered with bipartisan support have contributed to the current round of good short-term economic indicators although actual rates of investment growth are generally lower than a year ago in the latest ABS data.


Industry chain volume buildings and structures
Sep Qtr 21 to Dec Qtr 21 Dec Qtr 20 to Dec Qtr 21
% change % change
Mining 4.5 14.1
Manufacturing 7.1 9.6
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste -6.7 4.3
Construction 395.5 94.6
Wholesale Trade -21.9 36.8
Retail Trade 5.7 16.9
Accommodation and Food Services -0.4 -5.9
Transport, Postal and Warehousing -5.0 17.1
Information Media and Telecommunications 10.0 23.8
Financial and Insurance Services -11.3 53.4
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate -5.7 0.5
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services 117.2 35.2
Administrative and Support Services 40.0 -11.3
Education and Training 11.5 17.5
Health Care and Social Assistance -5.6 -16.2
Arts and Recreation Services 40.2 90.7
Other Services 14.3 -16.1

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics


In the longer-term, the trendlines in Net Capital inflow should be of concern. Any incoming government should want to reverse these downturns as supply problems emerge from current international tensions. As always, the RBA charts for March 2022 are worth considering. These structural problems won’t disappear by resetting the post-1996 button when the minerals boom was still on the ascendency after the election of John Howard. Any incoming government must be interventionist enough to talk up the value of the investment multiplier on behalf of the most disadvantaged sections of the community. Multiplier investment on behalf of disadvantaged Australians must surely give a higher priority to the employment and living standards of indigenous Australians and still reach out to other areas of chronic need. As a reward for saving at least some of the LNP’s furniture, Josh Frydenberg could easily come to terms with a more progressive economic agenda either in government or in opposition. In the 2020-21 budget, The National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA), the federal Indigenous body, will have almost $3.9 billion at its disposal for the financial year 2021-22, including $348.7 million in departmental resourcing. This was down from last year, where the NIAA ended up with over $4.1 billion. There is little enthusiasm for indigenous welfare in the Liberal Party’s national platform which offers just one commitment in the entire document amidst the numerous references to so-called free enterprise values.

The Europeans who began to settle Australia more than two hundred years ago did not come to an empty land. For tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples had lived on this continent. Their contribution to Australia’s identity has been, and will continue to be, a vital and enriching one. The history of modern Australia and our democratic institutions reflects the traditions and institutions of Britain from which most of the original European settlers had come.

Over time, those traditions and institutions were adapted to Australia’s unique circumstances and came to reflect the evolution of a distinct Australian identity.

The outrageous deficiencies in indigenous health programmes were covered on a recent Four Corners programme which is available on iView from 7 March 2022.Much of the Four Corners programme was filmed on location in Doomadgee. Nearby, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill National Park) is a mecca for tourists during the cooler drier months. Adjacent Adel’s Grove was developed as a private botanical garden a century ago by Albert de Lestang. In 2020, the site and business were taken over by Waanyi Advancement Limited Group, a commercial entity that fosters the economic development of the Waanyi people. Royalties from the Century Zinc Mine near Doomadgee have contributed to the advancement of the Waanyi People. The camping ground now known as Adel’s Grove was opened in 1984 by a private tourist operating group from Mount Isa. These gains came through a successful native title claim in 2010 over 1.7 million hectares of contested land. Community development programmes for Indigenous employment and development are largely bipartisan initiatives which can challenge the innate conservatism of Australian politics and its loyalties to short-term economic indicators which have minimal traction in remote communities. All sides of politics will support the Hon Ken Wyatt in his current initiatives:

The 2021-22 Budget ensures Indigenous Australians are fully part of the Government’s plan to secure Australia’s recovery, delivering the support they need to build skills, address barriers and find employment, with thriving families and communities that are safer, healthier and more resilient,” Minister Wyatt said.

Further measures will be released mid-year in line with the delivery of the Commonwealth’s first Closing the Gap Implementation Plan, which we are developing in partnership with the Coalition of Peaks and Indigenous Australians.

“Ahead of the delivery of the Government’s implementation plan for Closing the Gap, we are already moving on our priority reforms, reviewing a number of services to improve the way they work for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, according to their priorities.

“We have seen over the last year how effective we can be when working in partnership and we are committed to continuing to deliver our investments with that strong local input, so together, we can rebuild our economy and guarantee the services that all Australians rely on.”

To ensure employment services fit the changing job market in remote Australia and meet the unique needs of job seekers in remote communities, the Government will introduce a new remote jobs program in 2023, replacing the Community Development Program (CDP). This new program will be developed in partnership with communities and will complement the broader New Employment Services Model being rolled out in the latter half of 2022.

At least a stage has already been set for change by the LNP but the resources of $42.8 million being offered for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) are still token gestures in an economy which offers too much in the way of middle-class welfare and legalized tax avoidance in that forthcoming $650 billion re-election budget. The words of the old number crunchers as policy advisers are hardly relevant to a new generation of Australians who are pretty disillusioned with mainstream politics in a week which should be devoted to the fond memory of Kimberley Kitching (1970-2022) who comes from a similar vintage to Josh Frydenberg. Reaching across the aisles to handle economic and social challenges should unite a new generation of still competitive leaders with their respective outstanding game plans.

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.



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  1. John Hanna

    Reads like a bunch of pro liberal waffle. ‘Best credentialled treasurer” my arse. A failed professional tennis player maybe.

  2. Amanda

    A highly relevant article for these times when the profiles of many democratic leaders are sagging.

  3. Leila

    The late Kimberly Kitching is a great political icon for both sides of politics. Our leaders are too detached from the needs of their electorates and devote so much energy to the construction of more partisan defences.

  4. David Stakes

    Seems all commentators are jumping on the LNP wagon, to try and save the furniture.

  5. Harry Lime

    Some good points regarding the still ridiculous treatment of our indigenous population,and tax dodging,but giving the grossly incompetent and dishonest zoob Frydenberg any kudos has got to be a pisstake What’s even more alarming,he’s not even the worst offender in a government full of insulting and blatant crooks’led’ by the greatest fake of all time.It’s slam dunk time.

  6. Phil Pryor

    As queer as a square grape, this article seems to search for, and not find, relevance and meaning. It speaks warmly of a P M, with no intellect, broad education, feeling, meaning, action, having never worked, and having failed at the liar’s game of advertising, and having backstabbed, bludged, cheated, lied and exaggerated for a living, totally given to him by donors, patrons, minders, svengalis, so that Morrison is unfit to run a small kiosk or stall. As for Frydenberg and his credentials, he fails to understand the consequences of even printing money or rationalising its flows and accounts. B Joyce, a notorious drunk, rorter, rooter, cheat, liar, dodger, yapper and smokescreen merchant, is utterly and terminally useless in public life except to deal up brawls, schemes, dreams, frauds and fantasies. If Mr. Bright wants damaged and partly ruined Australia to continue under this form of microbial leadership (hah), he is welcome to go elesewhere and run a small atoll. This continent nation could still do well, certainly better, with plain competence, clarity, vision, planning, focus, decency, truth, honesty, action and procedure. And greedy, ignorant, undereducated, hunnish conservative corporate clapped out fronts for profiteering imperious corporate parasites and media maggots will NOT DO.

  7. Terence Mills

    I heard an economist on the radio after the revelation that our unemployment rate was down to four percent , the lowest it had been for forty-five years.

    He said, what do you expect, the international borders have been closed for two years with no immigration to increase employment demand I.e. all growth in employment is coming from an existing workforce that is only growing marginally [school leavers mainly].

    Plus the fact that the government has been pump-priming the economy with injections of billions of dollars support [including $180 million in JobKeeper payments made to ineligible businesses] – pushing gross government debt to close to a trillion dollars.

    Added to that was the pent up energy in the economy following state COVID shut-downs – i.e people couldn’t travel or go out.

    He pointed out that the official unemployment rate (i.e those who work one hour or more in the reference week are considered as ’employed’) could not have done otherwise than drop.

    He noted that It is short term and illusory and not necessarily a good thing for our economy going forward but looks good if you are approaching an election.

    Is he right ?

  8. leefe

    Fraudenburger is a Thatcher/Reagan fanboy. That outweighs whatever credentials he may have.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Josh Frydenberg was born in July 1971.
    He took a year off to play tennis after high school.
    He then did an honours degree in economics and law (4-5 years)
    Then he undertook his articles of clerkship at the law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques (2 years)
    He accepted the Commonwealth Scholarship to Oxford University where he completed a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree in International Relations. (2 years)
    After Oxford Josh returned to Mallesons and was subsequently admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria though I don’t see any time for him to have practised because…
    From 1999-2004 Josh worked as a ministerial adviser in Canberra
    After leaving Canberra Josh spent a month as a jackaroo on a sheep station in South Australia before joining Deutsche Bank as a Director of Global Banking in January 2005. A few months later, Josh took leave to complete a Masters of Public Administration (MPA) at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, before returning in 2006 to Deutsche Bank in Melbourne. Once again, not much work done because….
    In 2006, Frydenberg announced that he was seeking Liberal preselection for Kooyong. He unsuccessfully contested it against the incumbent member, Petro Georgiou, who had held the seat since 1994.
    Joshy finally got what he wanted when elected in August 2010.

    Frydenberg might have spent a long time studying but, as is patently obvious, our work experience treasurer has ZERO real life experience of working to make ends meet. He’s big on regurgitating failed theories but REALLY crap at prioritising a budget.

  10. Ross

    Let us all hope Young Josh will be the best federal opposition leader for a very, very long time.

  11. Kaye Lee

    I am not sure about fond memories of Kimberley Kitching either.

    She was a ‘friend’ of coal and guns. She was a member of James Patterson’s ridiculously named Wolverines who delight in making intemperate public comments about China. As our intelligence agencies and business community keep pointing out, that is is not helpful.

    Apparently she was complaining to several journalists about her treatment – I’m not sure that’s what you do if you want a solution. It’s unlikely to reassure your colleagues that you are a team player. Nor would warning Linda Reynolds convince people about your discretion.

    Since Michael Danby spoke publicly, it’s worth noting that Kitching’s husband was convicted of vandalism for damaging and stealing rival Liberal and Greens campaign advertising material in Danby’s electorate prior to the 2016 election. Landeryou ran a blog described in The Age as a “dirt-dishing” site. “The overwhelming majority of what Landeryou prints is vague rumour, personal vendettas and outright fiction.” said another. Point being, Kimberley didn’t come from a shrinking violet, terribly correct, household. They were political players, and not always nice about it.

    And Ken Wyatt is a lightweight, Three terms in government and all we have is more announcements about something that might start next year. We have more kids in detention. the expansion of the cashless welfare card, the insistence by the government that we worship Captain Cook and the ANZACS in our history curriculum, the failure to close the gap in too many areas.

    It’s one thing to look for positives but that shouldn’t entail ignoring reality.

  12. GL

    I see we are watching a new “I don’t pretend to be anyone else” Scummo persona: Partnership Scummo, friend to all the premiers. Urk, gag, choke…

    Anyone have an idea of how much the taxpayer funded fantasy $16 billion pork and promises barrel still remains because I reckon he’s blown through the lot and is now raiding the public pig trough for even more imaginary cash splashes.

  13. Ian Farrell

    Kaye Lee, Terence Mills et all take a big bow for accuracy and honesty. Hopefully, those who vote like sheep don’t swallow the Liebrals” baited hook this election – whenever it may be called by Oz’s Flimflam Man. If only
    we had a responsible press like you guys with maximum exposure, rather than the paid lackeys of the fantasy land MSM and crap “free” TV.

    Keep on keeping on. Love your comments especially Kaye Lee’s, Phil Pryor , and John Lord -but I feel you represent a relatively too fast a “passing parade” , Nere the less, keep punching….. HARD.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Ian, you are not alone. I learn just as much from the comments than I do from the articles.

  15. Mateo

    Good to see an interesting perspective from outside the press gallery. Our politicians leave their paper trails on media releases which are easily picked up by commentators if they do the right searches.

  16. Williambtm

    I vote for Phil Pryor to become Australia’s new Prime Minister. For starters, he always relates to the truth as we know it to be.

  17. Phil Pryor

    Thank you William, but, I lack money, immorality, depravity, youth, energy, evil intent and connections with political perverts.

  18. New England Cocky

    @ Kaye Lee: I always enjoy your backgrounding of the news and especially COALiiton politicians. It makes up for the inadequate researching &abysmal propaganda masquerading as reporting in main stream media-ocrity. Thank you.

    @ Williambtm: I agree. However, a prophet is rarely respected in his home country.

  19. Harry Lime

    Phil,three weeks in the Liar’s party will correct all those deficiencies.

  20. Jack Cade

    Kaye Lee

    You have to wonder how Kitching got a guernsey to play for Labor anyway. If you listed her views on just about everything without naming her you’d guess you were reading about someone in the right wing of the Coalition.
    I don’t really understand how a Labor Party can have left and right factions anyway, given it’s origins, but Kitching didn’t sound like a Labor person at all.

  21. Terence Mills

    I was just looking up Andrew Landeryou ( Ms Kitchings partner/husband) online, a man I really had never heard of until the last few days.

    Suffice to say, these people are a different breed to the rest of us – I hope !

  22. James Robo

    To the post-2022 era when talking up the property boom and unaffordable rents cease to be an advantage.

  23. Tessa_M

    More rhetoric will hardly restore flood affected communities. The electorate wants something different.

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