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The impact of climate change felt in the National Accounts

When Josh Frydenberg gave his press conference about the June Quarter National Accounts, he tried his hardest to stick to the designated talking point.

Josh said our continued growth was “a reminder of the remarkable resilience of the Australian economy and a repudiation of all those who sought to talk it down.”

In case anyone missed that, Josh reminded us again, finishing his speech with “The Australian economy has shown remarkable resilience and these numbers are a repudiation of all those who have sought to talk down the Australian economy.”

When asked if he was happy with the worst GDP figures since the GFC, Josh replied “what this number shows, is the resilience of the economy, a repudiation of those who sought to talk it down.”

In response to a question about declining public investment from state and local governments, the Treasurer said…wait for it…“these numbers show resilience in the Australian economy… twenty eight consecutive years of continuous economic growth is a repudiation of those who’ve sought to talk down the Australian economy.”

The constant repetition is deliberate and mind-numbing. We are supposed to focus on one phrase and don’t look too hard at what is actually happening. Others have done analysis on the figures and it isn’t good.

But one thing that struck me that I am sure that Josh didn’t intend, was the impact that climate change is having on our economy.

Continued repetition that we are meeting our emissions reduction targets “in a canter” can’t hide the economic impact of increasingly severe weather events and climate trends.

According to the Treasurer, the rise in government spending was driven by consumption rather than investment, including “flood remediation works in Queensland” and “the payments in relation to the floods and the droughts and the victims.”

Further, “with the terrible droughts and the floods, we’ve seen farm GDP down 8.3 per cent through the year.”

There was “a reduction in manufacturing, wholesale trade and mining inventories, partly related to weather events, particularly the drought.”

Josh also explained that a “major factor” in the decline in household saving this quarter was because household income in the previous quarter was significantly boosted by “pay outs on insurance claims for hail storms in New South Wales, but also the floods”.

In August, Guy Debelle, the Deputy Governor of the RBA, gave the Keynote Address at the 14th Annual Risk Australia Conference where he warned that “Beyond the near-term risks for the economy, climate poses a material risk for the economy and financial markets over a longer horizon.”

One paragraph in his speech to business people should be particularly heeded by our government:

“I would emphasise the importance of disclosure, echoing the comments by Geoff Summerhayes of APRA and John Price of ASIC, as well as the information that ASIC released earlier this week. You should all be aware of the recommendations of the recent report of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) chaired by Michael Bloomberg. It is important not just to have disclosure for disclosures sake, but to have consistent and informative disclosure. Investors need to be able to take account of that information in making their decisions, and be able to compare that across companies and across financial assets. Risk management under uncertainty is always challenging, but the challenge can be reduced with better and consistent information both in terms of the data inputs and the consistency of the scenarios considered.”

No doubt Matt Canavan would call him a “weak as piss bedwetter”.

Almost on a daily basis we are being reminded of the danger of ignoring the need for urgent action.

The AMA have declared climate change a health emergency.

Even the South China Post are pleading with us to save the Great Barrier Reef after it’s condition was downgraded to very poor by the GBRMPA. Maybe we need an example of dying beauty to galvanise us to work together.

But what MUST happen is the government must understand the risk and stop playing what are, quite literally, lethal games. Stop the spin, stop the cover-up, stop pandering to lobbyists.

If they won’t listen to the scientists, the financial and business world must show these dinosaurs just how expensive climate change is going to get.

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  1. Jack Russell

    The deliberate “design features” our Best Economic Managers built into their policies don’t seem to be bringing them much joy. The smirking seems a little forced these days. Denial is such hard work when it’s fake. Perhaps a spot of Labor-blaming might help . . .

  2. Miriam English

    They are such slow learners, the dimwits in this “miraculous” government. Of course the real miracle is that they are able to ignore reality so consistently and lie so much. But then it is probably easy for them to convince themselves that lies work, when they were elected on a raft of lies. Add to that, so many of them, like their grinning fool leader, are able to lie to themselves on a daily basis and live the delusion that a contradictory collection of texts written by superstious primitives is more imortant than the real world surrounding us.

  3. Ross Barrell

    Thank you Kaye for that summary. No surprises here of course. And the outcome and financial impact of years of denial and prevarication and time wasting at the behest of the Liberal party’s patrons have been well understood for decades. Impacts felt by our economy? Hell yes. Some parts of Australia haven’t yet recovered from last summer’s weather events, and this summer’s fire season has already started (and we are only 6 days into spring already). And it is going to get harder and harder and harder to keep up with the ongoing impacts. Think now about little Nassau, flattened recently by a cat 5 hurricane. I have read accounts of the damage that suggest it will take years to recover. And what happens in next year’s hurricane season when another monster storm further damages the island? Easy to picture a scenario where they (and we) will never recover.

    And Miriam. I’m afraid the LNP/IPA mob in charge here are not much interested in reality. They are only interested in staying in power. And Smirky Scummo reminding us he’s waiting for the next set of economic figures to show his “plan” is working reminds me that he believes in god’s great plan for us all. What I want to know is when will the electorate wake up to what these knuckle draggers are doing and boot them out?

  4. New England Cocky

    Once again Kaye Lee, you have provide a succinct summary of political stupidity by the Morriscum Liabral Nat$ COALition misgovernment. Perhaps somebody may be able to enlighten me about “How does a failed former professional tennis player, seemingly without any academic education in Economics, have the necessary skills to be an effective Federal Treasurer setting the economic guidelines for a prosperous Australia benefitting Australian voters”?

    1) “[T]wenty eight consecutive years of continuous economic growth” means that the initial turning point was 2019 – 28 = 1991, a year when the Hawke Keating LABOR government were leading Australia into economic prosperity that successive COALition misgovernments, especially during and since the Howard disastrous 11 years, squandering this opportunity to grow public infrastructure projects.

    2) “[W]ith the terrible droughts and the floods, we’ve seen farm GDP down 8.3 per cent through the year” ably assisted by the failure of NSW and Federal COALition misgovernments to act on controlling water theft in the MDB by cotton growers in NW NSW producing bumper crops during a no pump season at the expense of every agricultural enterprise downstream”.

    3) “[A] reduction in manufacturing, wholesale trade and mining inventories, partly related to weather events, particularly the drought” is correctly attributed to the deliberate and irrational ideological COALition misgovernment policy to smash the automobile assembly industry into oblivion with the loss of about $200 BILLION ANNUAL tax revenue and the loss of about 30,000 jobs across the supply chain.

    Perhaps these Friedeggburger comments are best described by Matt Canavan as “weak as piss.”

  5. Phil Pryor

    With economics idiots and political perverts in office, what may we ask has caused this steep decline in public morals, ethics, awareness, decency? We have been saturated by distorting factors for a century, all overcoming mass education, that’s why. Mass advertising, media expansion from virtually nothing, movies, cheap fiction; how can ordinary people profit from educational opportunities when they cannot and will not think clearly? Dogshit lies, exaggerations, propaganda, slogans, dogmatic assertions, fantasy filth in truckloads, all have drowned our general perceptions and ability to perceive. The P M is a trained liar, advertising being his profession of distortion and unreality. The treasurer is an adherent of extreme superstition whereby one submits to the requirements of the official organised lie, endless lies being required to remain submissive and bent. Trumpery and Borisism is extreme lying, a perversion so deep it kills will, intellect, honesty, accuracy, reason, like a pox or plague or pestilence. We should kill all this off, become mentally shitfree, but will we? NO!! We will, too many of us, adhere to eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, injecting, fantasising, scheming, covering up, cheating, swindling, bluffing it out, existing.., and miserably for the planet.

  6. JudithW

    I thought war was good for the economy.
    So when are we going to hear war declared on climate change?

  7. Peter F

    Judith – these idiots do not have the ammunition to fight that war.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Another thing that Frydenberg said, in amongst a whole heap of spin about jobs, was that the only gains in productivity were in the mining sector due to their uptake of autonomous vehicles and other technological improvements. Does he realise that he is admitting that mining will not provide jobs?

    Autonomous vehicles can run 24 hours a day 365 days a year controlled remotely by a few people thousands of km away. That is what they are investing in in WA and have been for some time.

    The only thing that has seen an unexpected increase in funding every year since the Coalition came to power is defence spending. Is it any wonder that productivity and wage growth have tanked?

    The federal government wants everyone else to do something about it. The states should bring forward infrastructure spending. Businesses should stop buying back shares and start taking risks despite the absence of any sort of policy and regulatory certainty. They should expand despite a lack of demand and consumer spending also falling. They should keep inefficient old power stations open to cover the government’s lack of planning for expected end-of-lifetime closures. Gas companies should voluntarily quarantine gas for domestic uses to cover the government’s inept handling of mining approvals and export contracts. The people should get out and spend their tax returns and take on more debt because of low interest rates – forget the uncertainty caused by insecure employment without unions to help. Young people cannot save the deposit to buy a home when they are paying high rent and are on casual or contract employment. On and on it goes…..with the federal government blissfully sailing on who knows where.

  9. Andrea Weymouth

    The scriptwriters of Utopia have a lot to answer for!

  10. Jack Russell

    “The economy has never been stronger: People who only had one job now have two.” ~The Shovel.

  11. James O'Neill

    “Stop the spin, stop the cover-up, stop pandering to lobbyists.” A fine ambition, but as it has been part of the political landscape since Adam was a boy it would be unwise to hold one’s breath while waiting.

  12. Kaye Lee


    A friend of mine recently got a new government job. After attending a few meetings, she was amazed at how realistic Utopia is. The hilarious part is that a previous employee actually now writes for Utopia. Satire is pert near impossible under the current government. Rossleigh sounds more like a policy consultant.

  13. DrakeN

    And, Kaye, the scripts for “Yes, Minister” and “Yes Prime Minister” are the Instruction Manuals for present day governments’ internal management around the ‘Western World’.

  14. Pete Petrass

    Just like the cost to the country of building an NBN that is “cheaper faster and sooner” the same inaction on climate change will be enormously expensive to make right, so much so that we just may not be able to afford to do it.
    I do believe there has to eventually come a point in time when they can no longer continue their lies because the physical evidence will be just too damning. Problem is when is that going to be and how bad do things have to get?

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