By Alan Austin
A colourful meme showing a grumpy Anthony Albanese and a genial Scott Morrison is doing the social media rounds.
Federal ministers have posted it on their Facebook pages with the comment “The next election will be a choice – a choice about who can best manage our economy to ensure a stronger future. It’s a clear choice.”
The meme lists fifteen items which purport to show the Liberals beating Labor. It is blatantly dishonest.
1 and 2. Unemployment and youth unemployment.
It is quite deceptive to compare today’s jobless rate with 2013. First, the collapse in migration has reduced the numbers of people with jobs and without jobs. So while this has cut jobless rates, it has also led to record job vacancies and dismal productivity.
Second, low hours worked per person per month makes the jobs market look healthier than it is. The lowest monthly level through the Labor years was 85.8 hours. This collapsed to below 84 in 2016 and below 80 in 2020. The latest monthly number, for January, was 79.4, the lowest January figure on record.
Thirdly, the public service has expanded inexplicably since 2015 by 464,000 “workers”. That is 3.4% of the workforce.
3. Welfare dependency
Of course welfare recipients would be high in 2013, after the worst global recession in 80 years. That was true everywhere.
But for this measure to have declined by less than one per cent is an appalling failure, given the boom times since 2014.
4 and 5. Taxation rates
It is blatantly dishonest to cherry-pick one or two tax brackets and try to make comparisons over a nine-year span. The best measure is the overall tax take relative to GDP.
According to Treasury, the Tax Office and the Bureau of Statistics (ABS), taxes are always higher under the Coalition. John Howard was the highest-taxing PM since records have been kept, Morrison the second highest.
6. Electricity prices
Over any nine year period, some prices will go up, others will go down. The critical measures are the overall inflation rate and wage rises. The data is crystal clear that inflation is always lower under Labor and wage rises are always lower under the Coalition.
7. Defence funding
It is extremely deceptive to compare military spending to GDP without noting (1) military needs and (2) the quantum wasted. When these are considered, Labor’s record is much stronger than the Coalition’s. An extremely high percentage of military spending under the Coalition has been wasted – from the F111 jets ordered in the 1960s which never flew in combat to the submarines ordered from Japan in 2014, then cancelled, then ordered from France, then cancelled, then … who know what will happen next? Billions have been wasted.
8. Naval shipbuilding
It is false to claim Labor built no vessels. The hull of the aircraft carrier HMAS Canberra was constructed in Spain in 2008, then transported to Williamstown, Victoria, in 2011 for completion. It was officially christened in February 2013. There appear to have been others.
It is equally false to claim 70 vessels were built since 2013. Published lists of Australia’s naval fleet show seven Australian-built vessels have been commissioned since 2013. Several of these were designed and ordered under Labor.
9. Foreign criminal visas cancelled
Why are so many criminals now seeking to come to Australia? That is answered by Transparency International which has shown corruption has escalated since 2014. Last year’s report claims:
“Australia faces several corruption challenges, including anonymous company ownership and money laundering. Following the FinCEN files, where thousands of leaked financial documents exposed a vast paper trail of money laundering across the globe, more than US$150 million were traced back to Australian banks.
“The country also shows severe deficiencies when it comes to corruption in international real estate.”
Australia’s international anti-corruption score was much healthier under Labor.
10. Detention centres for illegal immigrants
The sneaky deception here is that the Liberals under Tony Abbott abandoned bipartisanship on border control to maximise the deaths at sea during the Labor years. As is well-documented, Abbott orchestrated a global advertising campaign attracting illegal boats to Australia.
After the 2013 change of government, bipartisanship was restored by the Shorten Opposition and the billboard abandoned.
Nevertheless, Australia is now despised globally for its asylum seeker policies, as was not the case before 2013.
11. Hospital funding
No source is given, so we cannot check those figures. The deception here is that the break-down into public and private hospitals is not shown. The ABS confirms that private sector profits have soared since 2014. So these numbers may simply reflect higher corporate profits rather than quality care. We need more data.
12. Medicare bulk billing rates
So what? Far more critical is the impact on costs for vulnerable Australians. Advocacy groups remain profoundly concerned at the extra burden following the Morrison Government’s Medicare cuts.
13 and 14. Aged care and schools funding
Again, no source shown, so we cannot verify those figures. The deception again is that we can’t see how much went to healthy hot meals for elderly residents or to new yachts for the rich foreign owners of the private nursing home corporations. We need more data. Same regarding schools.
15. Mobile phone towers
Does the Liberal Party really expect us to believe that no towers were erected before 2014? This item is simply a blatant barefaced lie.
Liberals actually the worst economic managers
None of these fifteen items shows that the Liberal Party is a better choice than Labor. In fact, an Independent Australia article lists fifty economic outcomes under the Morrison Government which have been worst ever or worst for a very long time. These include:
- the longest sustained retail slump;
- Australia’s deepest post-war recession;
- the deepest budget deficits;
- greatest increase in gross debtsince World War II;
- a record number of profitable companies paying no tax;
- greatest wasteof any government program ever;
- lowest infrastructureinvestment as a percentage of GDP;
- lowest rate of wagesgrowth; and
- the first and only time household spendingdeclined year on year.
Not all these occurred during the Covid recession.
This exercise underscores two realities: First, the facts clearly show the current Government is the least competent at economic management since records have been kept. They also show Australia had the world’s best economy under Labor.
And secondly, the Liberal Party now relies entirely for its messaging on distortions, exaggerations and lies.
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