I hate saying it, but perhaps it was an election Labor should consider themselves fortunate to have lost. And perhaps they should seriously consider not blocking any legislation in the senate. By that, I mean ANY legislation. Let the government hang itself with its own rope.
Far too often the finger has been pointed at Labor as the cause of some failure in outcome resulting from their senate obstruction. It’s a pathetic excuse but given that 51.5% of the electorate (disproportionately represented in Queensland and Western Australia), seems to believe everything the Prime Minister and his cohort of self-indulgent yes-men say, what is there to lose?
There are dark clouds on the horizon, particularly and most notably with regard to the economy. Fifty-one and a half percent of the electorate believe the Coalition are the better economic managers.
Most of this belief stems from the Coalition’s economic performance during the Howard years (2001-2006). On face value, it seemed everything was being managed so well. Net national debt had been eliminated, middle class welfare handouts were rife, all while the Treasurer, Peter Costello was producing surplus budgets.
Could it possibly have gotten any better? Never mind that private debt was soaring as a result. That was the fault of the consumer. The Howard Government were being portrayed as wizards in economic management. How did they do it?
The answer to that is simple. They had truckloads of money to play with, from a mining boom construction phase no one saw coming. No one thought to question the wisdom of spending all that extra cash like drunken sailors. Not until Kevin Rudd came along and said, “this reckless spending must stop.”
Enter Kevin Rudd, the GFC, a sudden downturn in the mining boom windfall and the whole economic outlook took a sharp dive. The only way to save it was to inject billions of dollars into circulation which meant abandoning surplus budgets and going into debt. Wayne Swan did exactly what needed to be done, but politically, he was crucified for it.
The Coalition convinced the electorate that it needed the expertise of those who were at the helm during the Howard years. Enter the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison era, with one big difference. No mining boom windfall and with it, no bucketload of money, no economic wizardry.
But, after six years and some twisted, bizarre, psychological deception, the Coalition were still able to convince 51.5% of the electorate that, even though public debt had more than doubled and evidence of a tanking economy was already obvious, they were the better choice. It was a replay of 2001, when Kim Beasley was denied the chance of becoming prime minister.
So, here’s the reason Labor should consider itself fortunate it lost. This is the first real test of the Coalition’s economic credentials since the late 1970/early 1980s, when they brought the economy to its knees. Not surprisingly, it was when John Howard was Treasurer.
It happened because the electorate believed they were better on the economic front than Labor, unaware dark clouds were gathering, unaware the coalition was untested, unaware they had no economic expertise. Then, world events took over, particularly with interest rates and John Howard had no idea how to manage them.
Today, the new Morrison government finds itself in exactly the same position as Malcolm Fraser did in 1980. The economy is seriously in decline and our fledgling Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg has no idea how to manage it.
Frydenberg confirmed his incompetence when he told a London seminar recently that he would rather produce a budget surplus than arrest a declining economy. That, more than anything else, was grounds to disqualify him from holding the office of Treasurer.
Thus, the next three years will reveal, as world events take control, the great lie that has captivated 51.5% of the electorate concerning the Coalition’s economic credentials. Frydenberg’s inability to react will consign him to the political scrap heap and Morrison along with him. By 2022, no longer will that outrageous claim be sustainable, even to the most loyal Coalition voter.
So, notwithstanding a likely unemployment rate of 7%, with no capital investment, the mess that an incoming Labor government will have to deal with and an economy they will have to resurrect, it’s perhaps the better result in the long run.
And so, with the 51.5%, who will get far less than they bargained for and the rest of us who will watch it play out as expected, the truth of it will finally be revealed.
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