When Joe Hockey delivered his first fiscal statement in December 2013, it painted a much bleaker picture than the PEFO produced by Treasury and Finance in August based on Labor’s policies.
This was in part due to the Coalition’s decisions, foregoing $7.4 billion in revenue from the carbon tax and unnecessarily gifting $8.8 billion to the RBA for example, and partly due to Hockey changing forecasts, assuming a sustained unemployment rate of 6.25 per cent over the forward estimates for example.
“We have inherited from the Labor Party budget deficits totalling $123 billion over the next four years, and unless we take immediate action, we’ll be in deficit for more than a decade,” Mr Hockey said.
Whatever action they have taken doesn’t seem to have worked because the deficits over the four years since the Coalition took government have added to $159.2 billion with another $20 billion to the end of February this year.
Hockey’s 2013 MYEFO also warned of ballooning debt suggesting that Labor’s profligate spending would see gross debt hit $460 billion by the end of 2016-17.
Under the Coalition’s supposed superior economic management, gross debt was actually $501 billion by the end of 2016-17.
Hockey, Cormann and Abbott went into overdrive about the “debt and deficit disaster”, saying that taxpayers were on track for a $667 billion debt bomb if Labor’s policies and spending was left unchecked over the next decade.
The latest fiscal statement delivered by Scott Morrison in December last year has that figure now projected to blow out to $684 billion.
Despite Hockey’s prediction about unemployment proving wrong, with the unemployment rate dropping from 5.8% in August 2013 to 5.5% in February 2018, there are almost 20,000 more people unemployed now. Those that are employed are working less hours on average suggesting there is a significant underemployment problem.
Labor governed during a time of global financial collapse and their stewardship got us through relatively unscathed.
The Coalition has governed during a time of global recovery yet we find ourselves in a worse position than when they took over.
Many will argue that deficit spending is a good thing and that it is private debt, not public debt, that is the problem. That is a valid argument and a separate discussion. This is about comparing the Coalition’s performance to their promises.
If the Coalition want to go to the election claiming to be better economic managers, a simple look at the figures combined with some footage and quotes should be enough to put paid to that idea. And that’s before we even look at rising power prices coupled with rising emissions.
But then again, we have the Murdoch media who have that mantra so ingrained in their heads that we are unlikely to see any real analysis from them or from those who blindly believe them.