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The Morrison government has no sense of urgency on our future … or perhaps the marketing plan isn’t finished

Jon Williams owns a very progressive engineering business employing 75 people. But for JobKeeper he would have had to stand down his entire staff. He is anxious to know if the government will support him beyond the current arrangements. His overseas contracts have been cancelled and a couple of his clients have been unable to pay their accounts.

Troy Delaney plays in the center for the Calder Cannons. Turning 18 this season he would have been a certainty, given his form progressed from the previous season, to have been drafted by an AFL club. Now it is all up in the air given the season has been cancelled. On top of that his mother has lost her job as a PA to the CEO of an export company who won’t survive this recession.

Joe Cotsopulous owns 5 coffee shops in and around Melbourne and has spent the last 15 years building up his patronage based on friendly personal service. It is a highly competitive industry that without cash flow is almost impossible to exist. His employees are very loyal but without knowing the future of JobKeeper Joe is unable to tell his staff whether the business will survive.

Whilst these are fictitious stories they are typical of the many being told within a society reeling under the collapse of our economy. While COVID-9 is still inflicting havoc our society we not yet in control of our ability to think logically and rationally.

Standing beside this illogical behaviour we have a Prime Minister intent on contradicting his self-embellished thoughts at press conferences by turning up at rugby matches, clearly exhibiting the behaviour he previously identifies to the media as being erroneous.

That aside, I’m talking about honesty in government. The people I identified earlier deserve from their government leadership beyond the Prime Minister’s waffle and spin. His capacity to talk under water is what got him the top job because the people believe what he is saying without measuring the amount of bubbles he produces.

Think about the construction, aviation, retail and tourism industries. How many shocking stories of misery and pain do they contain?

What the people desire and need is for the government to come clean with what it is planning not the “We have a plan” slogans of the past 8 years. Tell us for God’s sake what it is you are going to do.

The Prime Minister’s near record approval ratings for his handling of the economy and the pandemic serves to prove that people will stick with a leader during a crisis even if he is a bungler.

They become scared rabbits in the spotlight unable to think for themselves, not willing or able to face the real pain that hasn’t yet begun.

We see what we are thinking and feeling; seldom what we are looking at.

Since March, an unprecedented 800,000 people have lost their jobs.

The next unemployment figures come in on Thursday and the Treasurer, Josh Freydenberg, has already admitted that the real figures are much worse. Around 13% at a guess.

Currently for every job available 19 people want it. How much worse will it get? Unemployment is the best measure of the gravity of a recession. It took 10 years to get back to something near 5% in the Keating recession. How long will it take this time? Will the youth of today turn 30 before they get their first job?

The Governor of the Reserve Bank Philip Lowe has warned that the:

“Uncertainty about the health situation and the future strength of the economy is making many households and businesses cautious, and this is affecting consumption and investment plans.”

“Uncertainty about the health situation” is near hyperbolic understatement. As Lowe noted, “The Australian economy is going through a very difficult period and is experiencing the biggest contraction meanwhile the 1930s. March, an unprecedented 800,000 people have lost their jobs, with many others retaining their job only because of government and other support programs.”

On the one hand the Prime Minister is entitled to a few days off but on the other he isn’t facing the miserable future hundreds of thousands of Australians are. They too need to plan for their future. He has promised some form of continuance for JobKeeper. What is it?

The government has indicated that it would extend support for businesses or industries in need beyond September but won’t divulge anything about reports that the personal income tax cuts scheduled for 2022–23 might be brought forward.

Surely it doesn’t take months to make decisions of this nature. All the Prime Minister will say is that the Treasurer has it under consideration. Given that they stuff up most of the schemes they originate I can, to a degree, understand the need for thoroughness, however, there is some need for urgency.

As I understand it the Treasurer will update the budget around the middle of July and at the same time he will outline the future of fiscal stimulus measures, including JobKeeper.

“It will be targeted, it will be temporary, and it will be designed to get help to people who need it most… ”

But what an opportunistic time it is to look at and act upon those areas of our economy that bring unfairness to our society. For example, the $120 billion it costs the economy annually in handouts to the rich and privileged. Privileges that are not afforded the lower and middle classes. And don’t present me with the adage that the rich work harder.

Why hasn’t the government at least released a reform paper on the possibilities, of what opportunities avail themselves for the linking of society to economics so that they compliment each other.

There have been small advances like yesterday’s news that banks would extend mortgage loan repayment deferrals by another four months.

That’s all very fine, but what I’m thinking of is a plan that upends how we view economics and looks 10, 20, or 30 years down the track and asks what sort of a society we want to be. What sort of jobs to we envisage. Of course. the list goes on.

On the tax cuts the Prime Minister said:

“We are looking at that issue, and the timing of those tax cuts, because we do want to boost aggregate demand, boost consumption, put more money in people’s pockets, and that is one way to do it.”

Westpac predicts a deficit next year of $240 billion, so it’s hard to see why bringing the tax cuts forward is necessary, particularly as they will only benefit the rich who are unlikely to spend it to stimulate the economy.

As a famous football coach once said in a time of adversity “don’t talk, don’t think, do.”

What is needed now is some sense of urgency: some action instead of all this waiting to see how a decision affects a certain section of the community. Do, for God’s sake, what is best for everyone. It’s called ‘the common good.’

At present millions of our fellow citizens are experiencing something completely foreign to them and they have copped it in spades. Fires, a pandemic and a recession all in one hit.

Some unfortunate souls are barley surviving without an income. Others, “in fact 2.4 million people have raided [$] their super early, in withdrawals totalling $27 billion.”

It’s time the government gave us a glimpse of tomorrow and the months and years that follow.

I hope they aren’t waiting for the “Marketing Plan.” The working families of middle Australia need to see the governments plans now. “Call it a blueprint, say everything is on the table if you want but remember you have a responsibility to all Australians and governments are judged on how well they treat their most vulnerable citizens.”

My thought for the day

We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.

 

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14 comments

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  1. Lawrence S. Roberts

    How may we make plans when the government of the day is tardy?

  2. Zathras

    Despite the constant marketing I think the Government really doesn’t know what to do.

    To their credit but after a shakey start they accepted the advice of experts but handed off the tough implementation decisions to the States and their Jobseeker and Jobkeeper strategies were the result of consultation with the ACTU and Combet.

    Now the only political weapon they had in their arsenal – the surplus – has been flushed around the S-Bend of history for a whole generation, all they still have left is the idea of tax cuts for the wealthy and probably further deregulation. With rising unemployment now will not be a good time to go back to bashing Unions and the reannouncing and repackaging of existing defence spending was aimed at the emerging Cold War with China but was only a short term distraction.

    As well as the coming heat from taking back handouts, massive unemployment is likely to result in falling property prices, bank foreclosures, homelessness and all the associated social problems. Training people for jobs that may never come back is just patching up holes left by previous cutbacks.

    In an ideal world this crisis would be better served if politics was swept aside and there was a combined effort from both the Government and the Opposition to find real and meaningful solutions together.

  3. Harry Lime

    You mention responsibility .John,something that Morrison avoids like the plague.He and his ‘government’ simply have no idea other than bullshitting their way through each day.

  4. Keitha Granville

    Think about construction, retail, hospitality and tourism industries.

    What about arts, entertainment and events ?? Unemployment in those is more likely 80%. There is not a theatre, concert hall or venue in the country that can operate for probably another 6 months. No work for actors, technicians, designers, musicians, ushers, bar and merchandise staff – and all the industries that supply these places and people – for the forseeable future. Just think about that. Cinemas will be the only ppaces that can function, and they will be able to manage with a couple of staff for the small numbers they can allow.

    It is a catastrophe of epic proportions.

    I am not downplaying the losses and unemployment in all those other areas, but these workers who provide the fun in our lives seem to have been totally forgotten.

    We need a government that realises most of the population needs the income security that all MPs take for granted. Not for them the worry of how the rent will be paid, whether the power bill can be paid for heat.

    Universal Basic Income, now, for everyone. Until we have begun to recover, probably 12 months minimum.

  5. Pete Petrass

    John, I think you are being all too hard on the government. Of course they are taking a lot of time coming up with their plan, because they are building a “claytons” plan. For it to be a real claytons plan it must look stupendous whilst not actually benefitting anyone and that is the part that takes the time – making sure nobody benefits. I mean just look at how long it took their previous stimulus packages to be released, and bushfire funds and stuff. They were an epic success because they looked like they actually cared and virtually nobody received any benefit. The true masterstroke of smirko’s genius was the bushfire fund, because it was “notional”, how good is that???

  6. totaram

    Pete Petrass: Thank you! Nailed.
    However, if they could ensure that their “donors and benefactors” could benefit, that would be even better!

  7. New England Cocky

    Now which politicians have NOT taken a pay cut or reduced access to the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme nor have they sat in Parliament earning their enormous salary packages since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic? So why would these illustrious self serving parasites be worried about a little matter like Australian voters sliding into penury while the politicians get fat on Waygu steaks and Russian caviar?

  8. wam

    Urgency, when the election is 3 years away and apart from rex and jacqui there is no opposition, what a ridiculous thought.
    Scummo is getting 90% by announcing. Not doing anything mind you just ‘announcing’.
    WTF is albo??
    ps
    Notice the loonies are quiet but they only dropped less than $3000 in the by-election. labor lost $10000.

  9. JANO from the Gong .

    Make pensions ( Uniform ) across the board – Federal, State , Local , It should be no more than the Age pension ! . Tax payers work hard for a living and some still dont have enough super to live off , They deserve an age pension – what right do politician’s have for huge big fat pension pay out’s!!!!!!!! , while ordinary working people who have paid taxes all their life get the crumbs …Imagine how much money you would save . If all pensions were made uniform at the basic level !!! After all , it should be a privilege to serve in Government – Not a life long Luxury !!!- How much would this save the economey ……….strike me Rome !

    Always a great read from you John lord .Great social justice awareness ….

  10. Josephus

    Of course there is an opposition- the Greens and the Independents, and sometimes even a few mavericks elsewhere.

  11. Jack Cade

    The ALP under Albo is a revisit of the ALP under Beazley. You don’t win government anywhere by being nice, moral people. The Coalition has been in power most of the last 20-odd years by being led by shithouse rats. Cunning shithouse rats.
    The only leader not a shithouse rat was Turnbull, and he was just a shithouse PM. Aussies love shithouse rats, especially conservative ones.
    Bob Hawke was a shithouse rat, but not in the Abbott class.

  12. Phil

    Read my lips. There is no plan. The economy is crashing and it is gathering a pace. There is a run on the Chinese banks and this is going to spread. The credit cards are being used to pay the rent and some banks are not giving any more credit. The elites in the US are getting out of Dodge, they know what’s coming and so does Morrison. It’s over.

  13. Matters Not

    Re:

    There is a run on the Chinese banks and this is going to spread.

    Not according to those who might have a clue.

    Don’t tell President Trump, but China is winning. The U.S. has thousands of new Covid-19 cases a day. China’s reported daily case count is down to double digits. The U.S. is braced for an historic 6% contraction in gross domestic product.

    How did China manage once again to defy the doubters? The answer—as I argue in my new book, China: The Bubble That Never Pops—lies in the strengths of a system that are hiding in plain sight: rock-solid funding for the banks, state intervention that can be more strength than weakness, and the competitive edge that comes from enormous size.

    https://www.bloombergquint.com/businessweek/coronavirus-couldn-t-pop-china-s-economic-bubble-what-will

    And the ‘plan’ in Australia (as always) is to have no plan. Just leave it to the market.

    https://www.bloombergquint.com/businessweek/coronavirus-couldn-t-pop-china-s-economic-bubble-what-will

  14. Jack Cade

    On the matter of the USA and China, and the delusions good ole boys have as to their nations standing in the world, can I quote another nugget from a Quora war buff…

    ‘Did any allies give us any help in the Pacific War?’

    I cannot believe how ignorant many of these people are.

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