I used to think Mark Kenny was a reasonably well-informed political commentator but I have felt recently that he was trying overly hard to give the Coalition the benefit of the doubt.
And then I saw his latest offering and thought WTF, do we live on the same planet?
The title – “As ‘ascendant Malcolm’ shows, nothing succeeds like success” – made me expect a satirical smackdown but I was sorely disappointed. He actually meant it.
“Buoying the spirits of team-Turnbull is a confluence of factors including a rebounding economy, a generally well-received budget, Bill Shorten’s imminent byelection challenges, and the hope of extra pressure on the Labor leader around his party’s July National Conference.
Nothing succeeds like success.
And what could be more emblematic of success than 1 million jobs created under a Coalition government?”
It would be really nice if experienced journalists like Kenny actually did some analysis on those claims, put them in context, make some comparisons – did something to earn their salaries.
According to the ABS, between November 2007 and August 2013, the number of employed people increased by 1,088,500 despite Labor having to manage through the greatest global financial meltdown since the Great Depression.
So adding one million more employed in five years during a time of global resurgency is hardly anything to crow about. It follows the average jobs growth over the last 15 years of about 200,000 per year which does not keep up with current population growth.
Kenny concedes that, despite the million jobs, wage growth “languishes at 2.1 per cent” which “has put a crimp on the budget’s shiny revenue projections barely a week after they were published.”
But he, again, fails to point out how significant that “crimp” is. Adam Creighton gave a better idea in The Australian.
The budget anticipates wage growth rising to 2.25 per cent this financial year, which would require the quarterly rate of growth to surge to more than 0.7 per cent — a level not seen for four years — over the final three months of 2017-18. Wage growth is then expected to rise to 3.25 per cent by financial year 2020.
Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle commented this week that wage growth could remain stuck at about 2 per cent for longer than people anticipated.
Speaking on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday, the chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Elizabeth Proust, said it was hard to see how Treasury had come up with such optimistic figures, describing the wage growth forecasts in the budget as “pretty heroic” and warning the government’s surplus will be delayed if they’re not achieved.
Undeterred, Kenny concludes with his own heroic prediction that “persistent internal critics – read Tony Abbott et al – might pull their heads in after realising that the PM could jag another term after all.”