A liberal history of irresponsible economics


We were told ad nauseam: “It won’t be easy under the Albanian”. But Sam Leckie asks, how much better will it be under Morrison and Frydenberg?

AS THE GAP in the polls widened in the week before the election, a reformed Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, faced the media to acknowledge he had been a ‘bulldozer’ in the past – assuring voters that he could change. This seems a far cry from the apparent reluctance of voters to change governments that he asserted on April 10.

We know that the economic fitness of both major parties has been a primary concern in this election and the L-NP seems more dogmatic than ever on this particular issue. The slogan “a strong economy — a stronger future” comes to mind. Or maybe the earworm from a beat-to-the-beat TV commercial “There’s a hole in my bucket”.

With that in mind, I would like to take a look at this government’s history of responsible economics.

pork barrel

Sounds delicious, right? It’s because it is — for the Coalition and its constituent allies. Not for the productive development of the nation. The process of channeling public funds to constituencies of interest to hold them in elections would be subject to scrutiny by a federal anti-corruption commission, but that’s a story for another day.

The pork barrel controversies have been well documented, but here are a few of my favorites.

Fight against floods and fires: During the early 2022 floods, disaster payments for flood relief in northern NSW were directed to the electorate of Page, held by nationals, victims affected in Lismore and in the Clarence Valley receiving support during the crisis. Just up the road in the Labor headquarters of Richmond, the affected families of Tweed, Ballina and Byron Shire were left with nothing.

This followed controversy over funding provided to areas ravaged by bushfires in 2019-20, where Labor headquarters Macquarie – estimated to have lost 80% of the Blue Mountains heritage area and racking up $66 million in losses in direct consequence of the bushfire crisis – received nothing in the bushfire grants. The Liberal electorate in Hawkesbury – whose economic impact is half that of Macquarie – received $4 million in wacky economic recovery funds.

Sports roles: Amid an unprecedented global pandemic, which resulted in job losses to the tune of 700,000, a $100 million sports development project was underway. More than 70% of these funds went to projects not formally approved through Sports Australia’s review process, with these public funds channeled into Coalition-held and fringe seats.

Community Development Grants: The CDG program that was extended from 2020 to 2026 — in two more federal elections than originally planned — resulted in a cost of public funds of $2.5 billion. In 2019, the first year of the scheme, 75.5% of grants went to Coalition seats and just 19.9% ​​to Labour. Labor grant money was on average $1.25 million less than Liberal seats, with 22 voters receiving nothing from federal government pockets.

Scott Morrison promises change as he continues to bulldoze us

French submarine saga: To add to the fallout from a less than desirable appearance by Morrison at the COP26 climate summit, an undersea deal previously agreed with the French government has been – excuse the pun – blown out of the water. A $55 billion deal with Paris to buy and build Barracuda submarines for the Australian military has been torn up in favor of a nuclear submarine alliance with the US and UK .

Not only did Scott Morrison deceive his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, but settling the canceled deal would cost $5.5 billion in public funds. The cost of the AUKUS alliance agreement for nuclear submarines will cost between $70 billion and $171 billion, and will not be operational to defend Australians from the existential threat from the East until at least 2040. A simple question remains: is this a responsible use? taxpayers’ money?

Robodebt: Scott Morrison’s first attack on Australia’s economy came before he became Prime Minister, during his 2015 term as Minister for Social Services. The Robodebt program removed the human element from welfare repayments and created $1.76 billion in debt for welfare claimants under the new system.

These illegal debts consequently created significant financial and personal distress for over 400,000 unemployed job seekers and led to the suicide of Jarrad Madgwick in 2019. In addition to applying the already mounting pressures of the cost of life during this period, the Coalition had to reimburse $1.8. billions in compensation and legal costs for victims of the Robodebt scheme, ending an embarrassing chapter in the government’s civil service history.

'Bulldozer' Morrison: Can he fix it?  No, he can't!

Super diet for homes: If the Coalition is re-elected, first-time home buyers could be forced to choose between struggling to enter the housing market at 30 or risking poverty in retirement. The pandemic has already seen a Coalition attack on Australia’s workforce pension funds, bringing 3 million people down $20,000 from their superannuation to ease the life pressures of COVID-19.

These types of policies, while perhaps a good short-term solution, put unnecessary pressure on consumers to contribute or risk a poor standard of living after their time in the labor market is over. . The Frydenberg-Morrison alliance’s latest super-based policy allows eligible members to withdraw a $50,000 deposit from their retirement fund to deposit a house deposit.

Instead of sustainable infrastructure projects for the benefit of the general public, the Coalition has once again put pressure on consumers, which will drive up already exorbitant home prices, to the great detriment of owners and buyers.

Among these coalition economic policy failures was the $60 billion chasm left by the COVID-19 JobKeeper package, which failed to encompass large numbers of individuals left unemployed or without work or income. during the early stages of the pandemic.

As of this writing, Labor has yet to release the full cost of its electoral politics. Despite this, the focus on improving the quality of investment rather than cutting government spending by Anthony Albanese and shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers has great potential to reform a lethargic period of Australian economic policy on the climate, quality of life, aboriginal affairs, disability and elder support networks. and the public health sector.

There may be a hole in the Labor bucket, but Morrison said it himself: people can change, and governments can too.

Sam Leckie is passionate about sports, politics and economics. He is currently in his second year of an undergraduate journalism degree at the University of Queensland, majoring in political science and peace and conflict studies.

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