It’s A Good Time To Be Labor

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And not just because of a couple of bad weeks for the Abbott Government, but for the long term impact this Federal Government will have.

The phalanx that surrounded this Federal government is breaking away, with Alan Jones, the usually placid morning TV shows, and even the Daily Telegraph reluctantly reporting some facts.

Conservatives Officially Bad At Economics

Yes, the mood has been set for a defeat in 2016 (unless something truly dramatic happens—like a coup by Julie Bishop). But the damage being done to the conservative brand is deep, and unprecedented in recent history (which of course is the only history that matters to electorates—that and mythological history). It’s not that they’re doing the usual unpopular things, that is, cutting anything with the word ‘public’ in it: school, hospital, broadcaster (as Albo put it), because we would expect that of conservatives, and so would their supporters. No, it’s that they’re clearly failing on what people expect them to be good at: the economy.

Labor supporters know that conservatives have never been very capable with the economy. It just appears that they are because of the work of previous Labor Governments, notably Hawke and Keating.

Our Economy’s Really Not Great

The electorate saw Howard and Costello’s Liberals as good economic managers, and that perception is being smashed by the current government. As Ben Eltham put it, “The fall in national income is starting to flow through to the broader economy. Growth is anaemic at just 0.3 percent for the quarter, in seasonally adjusted terms. Unemployment is rising. Business confidence is falling. Consumer confidence has been in negative territory for nine months now—the longest period since the global financial crisis.”

This will taint the conservative brand for the foreseeable future.

A Helpful Narrative For Getting Rid of Tories

The speed at which this Government has demonstrated their incompetence makes their narrative such a potent weapon to be used in not just their defeat, but the defeat of the mythology that Liberals are better with the economy. Often we hear on the campaign trail things like, ‘I just think the Liberals are better with the economy—and they’ll get the budget under control.’ In a couple of weeks, we will confirm just how false that is with the size of the deficit revealed in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO).

Abbott Can’t Do Complexity

The budget position cannot be blamed on mitigating factors. Because complex environments are something they’re meant to break through. Remember, he’s a tough man with simple answers. They might try the excuses of falling commodity prices, Senate intransigence or Labor’s legacy, but none will be convincing.

Because the only promise they can’t break is their promise to be a simple and commanding government. They’re the people that would make all things better by removing the carbon price. ‘That’s happened, so why isn’t everything better,’ people will rightly wonder.

This is what makes it all so beautiful. Simplicity was what made him so effective in winning, and it’s what will be his undoing. It’s a great takeaway for future politicians: politics is complex, and three word slogans don’t work, in the long term.

Mark Kenny from Fairfax agrees, “the rampaging opposition leader specifically ruled out using changed budget circumstances to justify breaking promises. Now he wants precisely that room.”

The Recession We Shouldn’t Have to Have

And rightly so. Because the cuts to productive Government spending have affected the economy. What’s needed is infrastructure spending, but this Government’s brought nothing new. The recession on the horizon will be the recession we didn’t have to have.

As they salivated in ravenous pursuit of their unbridled ideological agenda, they were oblivious to the horrified dry-retching of their audience. And now they’re waking up to the hangover. This is three years of pain with a lot to gain in the future for a progressive Australia and for Labor.


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  • commented 2014-12-10 14:34:32 +1100
    When MYEFO shows how Hockey doubled the budget deficit and all the other economic indicators point to how the Tories have destroyed cnsumer confidence, blown out unemployment figures, achieved nothing through their attack on the unemployed, disabled, aged and ill population but rather have inflicted terror upon Australia’s vulnerable, shock tactics are the main game of the neoliberals and where their false crisis bore no fruit, history has shown time and again they are not above creating real ones to get their neoliberal agenda through. Think Chile, Argentina, Indonesia, Iraq, Russia, etc. To focus on their economic mismanagement alone is ill advised as they will happily induce a crisis to get what they want. Their rejection of Labor’s record in saving us from the GFC is as much about how they see it as a missed opportunity to impose austerity on the population as it is a typical peice of spin.