Money talks

TOM VOSMER is a maritime archaeologist and resident of Fremantle. On the cusp of the federal election, he says the Liberal party has a long track record of economic vandalism.

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison is constantly declaring, “If you can’t manage money you can’t run a country.”

“Labor is incapable of controlling its spending.”

“The choice is between a government that knows how to manage money and Bill Shorten and Labor.”

Before casting aspersions, slurs, and calumnies, the PM might want to look at himself, do some self-reflection, examine the record of the Liberal party in economic (mis)management.

When Tony Abbott came to office in 2013, Australia’s net government debt was $174 billion. Today it is over $340 billion.

The Guardian says that the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has recorded the worst average and median annual productivity growth of any government going all the way back to the Fraser government during 1979-83.

The budget is not in the black, and the Grattan Institute declared that the wildly optimistic government predictions of a surplus ‘appear to be more driven by assumption than by reality.’

The government is still welded to the concept of ‘trickle-down’ economics, a policy repeatedly demonstrated to be at best ineffective, a system which drives wealth inequality and restricts wage growth.

For years the government resisted calls for investigations into the practices perpetrated by the banks until forced to call a Royal Commission which revealed systematic abuse of customers, gross over-charging for poor or non-existent services, and a cavalier disregard of ethical practice and regulations.

Short-sighted

The government committed more than $50 billion to build twelve French submarines in Adelaide. The submarines could have been bought ‘off the shelf’ for much less.

The short-sighted Coalition decisions on the NBN resulted in an inferior product that will in the long run cost an estimated extra $20 billion to bring up to standard.

 Tax concessions to businesses largely resulted in their buying back their own stocks and giving bonuses to executives.

Precious little showed up in workers’ pay packets.

 The financial waste and mismanagement in regard to asylum seekers is phenomenal.

The government spends $400,000 per year, per refugee to keep them on Manus and Nauru.

It is estimated that it would cost $40,000 to integrate each one into the Australian community, making them productive members of society, a one-off payment one tenth of what each one costs taxpayers annually.

The Coalition awarded multi-million dollar no-bid contracts to companies to manage facilities on Manus and Nauru.

Multiple reports reveal that management has been less than successful, yet these companies recorded multi-million dollar profits over just a few months. Value for money?

The Coalition wasted $185 million reopening Christmas Island to cope with their falsely predicted ‘flood’ of refugees after the Medivac bill passed.

Not a single refugee went to Christmas Island and the facility was closed. It was all a political stunt, fearmongering. By almost all economic measures, Labor governments have consistently outperformed the Liberal-National coalition over decades.

In environmental policy, the government is equally profligate and careless with taxpayer money.  On the Great Barrier Reef, the government gave $444m to a reef organisation without tender or application.

As for meeting carbon reduction targets, PM Morrison has stated “We are doing our bit, as we should as a global citizen, but I’m not going to do it in a way that puts our kids’ economic future at risk.”

This implies both a reluctance to invest in renewable energy and a failure to recognise the very real threat, and ultimately huge financial cost of inaction.

This was the bloke who, after all, carried a lump of coal into Parliament to try to make a point.

We can rightfully be suspicious about promises from any politician during an election campaign, but the claim that the Liberals are good managers of the economy is dishonest.

The facts tell a completely different story.

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