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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