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Federal LNP: Sticking with the Plan to Remain in Office by Continuing to Ignore Commitment to Our Greater Welfare

By Denis Bright  

Five months after those photo opportunities associated with the 2019-20 Budget, the LNP’s plans for the future of a hands-off open economy are not working. The missing variable is a productive investment multiplier that is concealed by good commodity and service prices in the current account surplus and largesse from a treasury that is accidentally awash with funds because opposition parties in the senate refused to cut company taxes.

Successful use of fear strategies prior to the federal election on 18 May 2019 easily got the government over the line particularly through swings to the LNP in Tasmania, Queensland and WA.

The federal LNP is continuing to perfect this top-down approach to financial governance in an electorate which scans the news quickly to avoid the policy details. Large sections of the electorate are still convinced the federal LNP is the more responsible economic manager even though the prescription mix is highly suspect and locked into the ideology of the Menzies era.

Greg Jericho does not hold back in highlighting the grim statistics for Australian investment trends:

If you take away government spending, the economy would have shrunk in the June quarter. So much for ‘remarkable resilience’

Today the government has been madly attempting to spin the GDP figures as good.  So, let’s cut straight to the point – the figures are terrible and are among the worst we have seen this century. But what makes it worse is this government would have us believe they saw them coming.

How bad are things? Today’s figures show the worst annual economic growth for 18 years. GDP per capita is now lower than it was a year ago, productivity is plunging, and the economy is pretty much staying above water purely because of government spending and a drop-in imports due to weak investment and household spending.

Data from the ABS for the June Quarter 2019 confirms the extent of the slow-down in the Australian economy as business tries to survive by running-down inventories instead of embarking on ambitious private sector capital investment which should be the strong-point of any centre-right government like the federal LNP:

The national accounts for the June Quarter are particularly appalling when consideration is given to the components of the 0.5 per cent improvement in GDP:

Neoconservatives will continue to speculate about which conventional policy levers should be pulled to make the economy more vibrant at a time of global trade wars and growing militarism. Will lower interest rates and more defence spending on strategic hardware really assist in making our future rosier?

From the heart of the USA, the pragmatic McKinsey Global Institute has warned Australians of the global headwinds that the federal LNP chose to ignore even prior to the May 2019 election with its strident support for old-time capitalism.

Need to Break with Menzies Era Market Ideology

Both Robert Menzies and Margaret Thatcher succeeded in promoting images of a mythical ethically based small business economy based on the thrift and dedicated community service. Scott Morrison gives this small business network a quasi-religious authority to justify nasty economic prescriptions for the common-good.

There is little mention of the forthcoming impact of the digital revolution which is transforming workplaces and about to eliminate many basic skill jobs in the service sector to complement the existing changes in farming and manufacturing.

In Brisbane on 5 September 2019, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus visited the picket outside Oi Glass in Montague Road, West End.

The CEO of Oi Glass on an annual salary of $7 million according to State Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the ETU at the picket rally.

Here, trade union resistance to an erosion of traditional working conditions has gone on for nine weeks.

Cheered on by the federal LNP, employers like Oi Glass claim a moral authority to withhold productivity increases on the shop floor in the national economic interest.

Screening of potential recruits by small businesses through job provider agencies is a real disincentive to a revival of mass trade unionism despite its compromises with job safety on new construction sites.

Employees at a nearly completed unit construction site in Sylvan Road, Toowong (Brisbane) advised that overseas workers routinely worked twelve-hour shifts. This made it difficult for qualified local employees to ask for fair wages and conditions. The alternative at a time of reduced investment in building and construction was no job at all.

It is convenient for the federal LNP to justify such practices in the long-term economic interests of Australia as a middle-sized open economy. Current rallies on Australian and international share markets, also appear to justify what is really unsustainable: A disciplined small business network which is justified by quasi-religious values.

Just prior to the Australian election, the McKinsey Global Institute telegraphed warnings of the avalanche of changes in the Australian workforce:

Powerful new automation technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and advanced robotics are already transforming the Australian economy, workplace, education system and community. These technologies present an enormous opportunity to restore momentum to the Australian economy and extend the nation’s 30-year economic boom in an inclusive way.

In a new report, Australia’s automation opportunity: Reigniting productivity and inclusive income growth [PDF–6.7MB], McKinsey outlines the impacts of automation across three scenarios, including slow-paced adoption, mid-point adoption and fast-paced adoption. The report sets out why and how Australia must push for the win–win scenario of inclusive growth by pursuing actions that both accelerate automation and adoption and share its benefits.

Automation and AI will be disruptive, just as other technology adoptions have been disruptive in the past. While some jobs will be lost and others created, all jobs will change. As automation technologies integrate into the workforce, the mix of skills required in all jobs will shift.

Aside from the current fear strategies being applied by the federal LNP with the support of small business, the far-off but essentially pro-business McKinsey Global Institute in New York has prepare a map of the Australian communities which are most receptive to digital automation and are skewed towards mining and large-scale farming and grazing operations:

Continuation of the unplanned corporate digital revolution should indeed be improving working conditions and hours of work required of employees. However, under the patronage of the federal LNP, McKinsey Global Institute anticipates an alarming economic divide in wage rates between skilled and unskilled workers in the more unequal Australian society of 2030. Ironically, these changes in a market economy will be accompanied by reduced real GDP levels of the type which is already apparent in the June 2019 national accounts data which is the very opposite of current LNP aspirations for our future.

Simply asking for more economic stimulus as favoured by traditional Keynesian policies with q 1950s vintage are easily outmanoeuvred by scare tactics from the federal LNP that worked well, particularly in depressed regional areas of Australia on 18 May 2019 with the support of preferences from One Nation in Queensland seats like Dawson and Capricornia.

In a world of reduced post-GFC global capital flows, progressive governments must learn to foster a more humane form of capitalism. This option is certainly in the pipeline of next week’s OECD seminar in Paris despite the willingness of the willingness of the current US and US Governments to return to the La La Lands of old style market-economics with the support of smaller players like Scott Morrison who somehow gained observer status at the G20 Meeting in Biarritz:

 

Harvesting the remnants of reduced global capital flows in the post-GFC era can bring corporate capital injections to support progressive infrastructure and community development programmes into public sector investment funds which operate quite successfully in Canada and Singapore to steer economic activity in progressive directions.

These are challenging times and advocates of responsibly alternative directions for social market capitalism need every encouragement. Now, 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is time for policy innovation to flourish before Australians are thrown more heavily into the market ideology which has been foreshadowed by the McKinsey Global Institute in its reports on Australia 2030.

Denis Bright has a background from post-retirement studies in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is committed to citizens’ journalism to raise issues for critical discussion. Commented from interested readers are welcome to advance the important issues raised in this article. Insiders with specialist interests in particular can advance the quality of the interpretations presented for critical evaluation from readers.

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23 comments

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  1. Perkin Warbeck

    The Coalition went into the last federal election expecting to lose, and didn’t bother forging (loaded word!) a policy. They discovered to their surprise – even dismay – that they didn’t need one; all it took was Bob Brown’s caravan. So for once they didn’t even fabricate a ‘children overboard’, or a ‘stop the boats’ slogan.
    So now they can just sit back and plunder the nation’s coffers knowing that they have an opposition led by a dud, and a Green Party which probably thinks keeping the ALP out of power is a good thing because it means they can maintain their ‘virginity’. They are a sort of accidental DLP.

  2. Aortic

    The only thing trickling down from the mouths of these grinning buffoons, who wouldn’t know an economy if it jumped up and bit them on the arse, is bullshit. If a recession is in sight who could possibly not be mightily afraid if it were left to Morrison, Cormann or Frydenberg to rescue the situation? Bring back Joe Hockey and all will be well. Wonder if he will solve it with a Merkin accent?

  3. Pete Petrass

    Perhaps someone like Greg Jericho should go on TV, on say A Current Affair (a show I bet a lot of those lieberal rednecks watch), to put all the real information out there to the general population

  4. Wayne Turner

    No matter how bad this government is – They are horrid,corrupt serial liars.

    The ultimate problem,is the idiot voters,that were stupid enough to vote them back in AGAIN.Ill-informed,easily manipulated by the COALition and all of their MSM.At least Channel 9 celebrated getting their government of choice,by hosting a Liberal party fundraiser.

    Poor fellow my country.

  5. Mickey

    An inspirational article Denis that makes boring national account statistics serve the common good.

  6. Leila

    Australia is well on the way to becoming a 2 tier economy with those absolutely struggling and those that are wealthy .
    This government does not seem interested in decreasing this divide and Labour did not help at the last election.
    Let’s hope they are getting their act together and developing some sensible policies for the greater good of all Australians

  7. Chris

    Addresses the dislike of boring rhetoric as political debate. More adventurous policies are needed.

  8. andy56

    These guys have a particular idea of what a market is and cant see anything else. As our economy contracts and consolidates we will loses jobs and wages and will fall behind further. Our economy is in free fall, there is no direction but more of the same. The libs have run from anything sensible that labor proposed so have nothing to stand on. Not saying labor are much better, they have tried to play by liberal rules only to have the goalposts move all the time. We need new industries that employ people, like yesterday. Budget surplus based on reduced imports compensating for the economy tanking everywhere else is piss poor management.

  9. totaram

    “..all it took was Bob Brown’s caravan…”

    There is no evidence to back up your claim. It amazes me that people just shoot their mouths with no evidence whatsoever. No different to the voters who swallowed the lies about death tax, super tax, car tax, retiree tax, and 1 trillion dollars in tax (over how many years? did anyone even think?). No wonder the place is stuffed.

    Why would an anti-Adani caravan led by a former Greens leader cause people to turn away from Labor and prefer the LNP or Coalition? Can anyone explain the logic behind this to me? Did the Greens vote reduce as much as Labor’s? How do we explain this?

    Someone else will tell us it was all because no one trusted Bill Shorten and they could have told us so right from the start. Well, the evidence does not support that either. The only evidence we have is that people’s opinion of Shorten changed in the last month ( according to some study by the ANU released recently). We are left to guess what happened in the last month before the election. Might it have had something to do with the concerted anti-Labor campaign conducted by the entire “free press” as well as the paid attack ads worth 50 or 60 million dollars put in by Clive Palmer? Might all that have just made the difference to a hugely brainwashed and uninformed voter base?

    But no. Let us go with whatever prejudice we have. That is bound to work wonders. And so we get the government we truly deserve.

    And it will continue to be so because, to tell the truth, the people behind this government are actually much smarter than you think they are, and they know just how to play most people for fools. And most of us here are too arrogant to understand that.

  10. Stella

    Denis, thanks for a great article about Australia’s changing economy. There are big changes a foot for the next generation.

  11. Paul

    Thanks for the article Denis!!! Time for some innovative policy solutions.

  12. Alpo

    totaram wrote:
    “And most of us here are too arrogant to understand that.”….

    More than “arrogant” we simply made the mistake to think that with the ALP/Greens doing their bit through the mainstream media, and GetUp!, ACTU doing the rest through internet and on the field, plus the assumption that a majority of voters would be smart enough to see what was best for them, it would have been enough to win.

    We didn’t win because the assumptions were simply wrong:
    a) The mainstream media are still very important and mainly under the control of pro-Coalition vested interests.
    b) Too many voters are just not smart enough (= Morons) and some of them contributed to the Coalition win even though they didn’t vote for the Coalition (especially in Qld) as their first preference. They voted for Hanson or Palmer but then followed how to vote cards preferences and killed the chances of the ALP.

    So, I don’t think that we are arrogant, we simply assumed a few things wrongly. What to do next? The smartest thing to do is to focus on Qld and get those voters to blame the Coalition for their predicament. Yes, it’s as simple and brutal as that. Everybody is advised not to undermine the anti-LNP effort in Qld.

    In addition, those deluded people (usually on the far left) who believe that “this is a golden opportunity to get rid of the ALP and replace them as the official opposition with a true Socialist party” should just fuck off and get stuffed. They are part of the problem, not of the solution.

  13. wam

    the logic tiny tot is in the timing
    the logic was the pictures the logic grreenniiee was the screaming of the loonies at the townsville workers the logic was the loss of jobs promised the logic was loss the jobs present the logic was the the motive of the trip the logic was to stir as much shit as possible to get the 10% of latte loonies back in line the logic was the news australia wide coverage
    the result was an increase of cash for the loonies, the loss of qld seats and a re-elected lnp.

    senile bob thinks that it didn’t influence the election in other states but bob’s purpose was to boost the loonies vote in other state duh???, in case any loonie voted labor first preference and to lure the silly labor lattes to give the loonies the AEC cash. The terrible pictures flashed all over australia and achieved his and narrownose’s purpose.
    I saw the townsville picture easily remembered on the sat.ready to vote labor down loonies up. Where did those vote materialise?
    canavan is game to say what labor should have said the loonies were dogs in 2009 voting with the rabbott and mongrels in 2019.:
    Coalition figures including Senator Canavan believe the anti-Adani convoy led by former Greens leader Bob Brown galvanised voters for the LNP as it wound through central Queensland during the federal election campaign.
    If that isn’t enough look at the posts about the vegan in WA? The attitude reflects the society of the lnp, thanks bob.

  14. totaram

    Alpo:”..In addition, those deluded people (usually on the far left) who believe that “this is a golden opportunity to get rid of the ALP and replace them as the official opposition with a true Socialist party” should just fuck off and get stuffed. They are part of the problem, not of the solution..”

    I’m not aware of too many such people, but hey, shouldn’t you also be convincing them that they are deluded? Just asking them to “fuck off” doesn’t do much good, does it?

    Also, “assuming things wrongly” comes from arrogance. Sticking to the data and basing ideas and assumptions on evidence instead of preconceived notions, implies a certain level of humility, which is often very hard to find even amongst fellow-travellers on these blogs.

  15. James_Robo

    The National Party here in Page in Lismore and Beyond got an increased majority on 18 May. Why did voters fall for the use of such blatant fear strategies.

  16. Tessa_M

    Let’s make this capitalism work for our welfare: For the Many not the Few!

  17. Jack Cade

    Capitalism only works for those with all the capital.

  18. Phil

    ‘ In addition, those deluded people (usually on the far left) who believe that “this is a golden opportunity to get rid of the ALP and replace them as the official opposition with a true Socialist party” should just fuck off and get stuffed. They are part of the problem, not of the solution..’

    I find that comment offensive. You should check your own solution next time you have a wank.

  19. Phil

    Capitalism the ‘ Golden Rule.’

    Those who have the gold make the rules.

  20. Phil

    Great article. Glad to see it covered automation. My son who works in the Pilbara tells me automation is gathering a pace. They now have driverless trains. Some of the dump trucks are now driverless. Gina will be most happy, she wont have to bring in the South African slave Labour at 2 bucks an hour she was recently waxing lyrically about.

  21. Jack Cade

    James_robo

    Surely the most puzzling electorate is the one where the local member goes to the Philippines for two months every year looking for roots, and gets an increased vote..,
    Gives their sheep a break, I suppose.

  22. Lara Gonzales

    Perhaps “A new angle on political life in Australia which I came across in a google search from overseas” Lara in the Philippines

  23. revo lu tion

    Simple solution start a revolution and have the heads of corporate directors and all politicians on stakes outside parliament. Split the cash left over between every other Australian. When were you ever not ruled by greed, corruption and evil.

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