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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

election scripts + mantras « Previous | |Next »
August 4, 2010

The Coalition's mantra or slogan --- end the waste, pay back the debt, stop the big new taxes and stop the boats--- is wearing rather thin. Instead of being a framework for their ideas about economic policy it looks more like an election script based on zombie economics.

The reason that it is more mantra than framework is that the Coalition is giving the impression that there was no global financial crisis at all. The mantra about Labor's ''reckless spending'' and ' big 'waste'' and "huge debt" gives the impression that government's stimulus package thing just went to Labor's head---(its what Labor does) and because they are Labor they throw money around----"Labor is borrowing 100m a day"--- to keep the state big. Labor just loves a big state that crushes individual freedom. Or Labor are just tizzy.


The government is the problem not the economy is the implication. The global financial crisis and the global recession that followed is simply airbrushed out of history.

So there is no need to say what the Coalition would have done to deal with the global financial crisis; how they will bring the budget back to surplus other than cutting the waste (eg., killing off the national broadband network!) or how they will "stop the big new taxes" when they are proposing a new tax on larger companies, a 1.5 per cent levy, raising $6.1 billion in the first two years, to help pay for his paid parental leave scheme.

The reality is that Australia has low public debt according to the Glenn Stevens, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, good credit ratings, limited pressure on interest rates due to moderate inflation, and a mining boom that will increase government revenue.

So where is the Gillard Government's attack on the Coalition's mantras? Where is their economic narrative to show their good economic management? The general economic consensus is that the Rudd Government's fiscal stimulus package designed by Treasury, which includes the school building program and the $900 Commonwealth payment, saved the Australian economy from the worst of the economic crisis.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:10 AM | | Comments (12)


Gary I think it's a hard argument to condense into campaign material. People tend not to be too impressed by claims they were saved from potential harm by the government. They're just as likely to believe the threat was over-hyped in the first place and resent having been made to worry about it. They may also believe that Labor's actions were little different to what the Libs would have done - something I tend to believe too - and so the argument would depend on reminding voters of what the Libs said from the safety of opposition. It's a coherent argument but like I said, not one that can be made quickly. And it also feeds the Libs' counter-argument that it was a short-term fix with long-term debt problems, which is also rebuttable but again not in a 30 second sound-bite.

One possible complicating factor is that Gillard has never held an economics portfolio and in fact I can't recall ever hearing her engage in any kind of deep discussion of economics. It may be that she has limited knowledge of the field and Labor's trying to minimise the risks of her making a gaffe or two. Economists and business pundits are somewhat precious about their secret handshakes and so on. They had great fun at Barnaby Joyce's expense when he mixed a few things up - imagine how they would react if a PM did something similar.

I agree with you that Labor's actions were little different to what the Libs would have done re the global financial crisis - the Liberals would have just spent less on the stimulus. There still would have been government debt and waste.

I do recall that the Coalition kept on saying that in the aftermath of the global financial crisis that the Government’s stimulus packages wouldn’t work.They insisted on it when the evidence was the opposite.

Gillard performed well in spruiking the government's economic achievements yesterday. I guess they had to wait to start pushing this line until the RBA confirmed no interest rate rise, but from now on she must not stop pushing this line.

Australia's economy is a very very good story, by world standards.

No matter the question, the PM, Swan, Ministers, must all frame their answers in the context of the govt's economic record.

What you say is true. However, the only economic policy Hockey or the Coalition has to offer is the straw man of Labor debt driving up interest rates.

Surely that can be knocked for a six?

Gary one would hope so, but against all the evidence, the Coalition keeps being rated as superior to Labor on economic management whenever polls measure these things.

The cartoon missed one movement. Moving my bowels.
Seems to be more unhappy faces than happy. Hard to know whether the birds are chirping or yelling Who chopped down my tree! The fish is just sitting waiting for it to rain next to his puddle neither happy or sad. But the flowers are blooming and there is music so the people would still get up and dance.
Its a hopeful nice drawing that captures where we are in Oz right now.

It is not just Zombie Economics that is the problem. It is our zombie culture altogether especially its long ago zombified archaic religion.

Witness the number of books promoting old-time father-knows-best patriarchal religion being published by right-wing media hacks. Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens, Paul Johnson etc etc.

A case in point is Greg Sheridan's essay in the ALR today.

Johnson's work is completely fictional. The other book in review is also woeful, one of the most tacky books on religion and culture that I have come across in a long time. I had a good browse on it in Borders recently.

And yet the author is tauted as one of the "best and the brightest" defenders of the "faith" in the English speaking world--and certainly in Australia.

"...People tend not to be too impressed by claims they were saved from potential harm by the government. They're just as likely to believe the threat was over-hyped in the first place and resent having been made to worry about it..."

Oh... hmmm... does that line of reasoning apply to the asylum seeker "issue" as well? Or is the potential harm from that quarter simply too overwhelming to ignore?

Labor is missing Tanner aren't they? He's the only one who can string lots of points together in a compelling economic narrative that knocks the wind out of the Coalition's sails.

Gary they certainly are. I would not be surprised if he and Faulkner said basically OK, you go ahead with this hare-brained unprincipled attack on Rudd if you like; we won't openly criticise you but don't expect us to help in the campaign.

Tanner isn't helping much in the campaign. If he is, he's not in the public eye much. Faulkner is travelling with Gillard to keep an eye on things and providing much needed advice. His usual role.

Leunig to the rescue with humour.