Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is nothing if not innovative. In a daring new plan for Australia’s economy, instead of implementing policies – with all the tedious work and planning that that would require – he has embarked on an ingenious approach: begging.
Most recently, the Treasurer has begged the Reserve Bank (RBA) to “do more” as well as the business community to begin that trickle-down effect, pretty please!
THE NO-POLICY POLICY
Treasurer Frydenberg, in fact, has taken the art of policy evasion to a new level. And who can blame him? A platform comprising zero policies has worked pretty well for the Coalition so far.
And so, with the Reserve Bank and business groups now calling for leadership and structural economic reform, Josh says: Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions! Also, our policies can’t be to blame — we don’t have any policies!
By the Treasurer’s logic, it would seem, everyone is at fault for Australia’s stagnating economy, except the Government — though it is in power and therefore technically in charge of the economy. But to be fair, this is only their third term…
As always, the Labor Party is still the natural go-to scapegoat for the Coalition and declaring war on unions continues to be high on its agenda with WorkChoices 2.0 now looming on the horizon. But this time around, pointing the finger at workers just isn’t providing enough of a buffer for the Treasurer.
Thus, on the issue of culpability for Australia’s economic woes, Frydenberg has been driven – through no fault of his own, mind – to share the love more widely.
The Treasurer has cited mysterious far-away world events, which his Government can’t possibly be expected to mitigate. He has accused the Reserve Bank (now definitely off the Christmas card list) of not doing enough to stop these cosmic economic downturns. And, in an exceptionally innovative move, the Treasurer has even reproached the Coalition’s traditional support base: big business.
OH, THE WOES
Oh, the woes are coming thick and fast.
There’s more than a little talk of a recession heading our way and it appears Australia may not be in a strong enough position to ward it off as easily as during the GFC — which by international standards, was managed exceptionally well by the Rudd-Gillard governments.
Frydenberg has already started foreshadowing the possibility that the “Back in the Black” Budget surplus he sold in advance, may be so far from happening it may not happen at all. But let’s not go worrying our pretty little heads with all that high finance talk — let’s leave it to the best economic managers, the Coalition.
“Well, I wouldn’t get your hopes up about a surplus, Annabel”, Frydenberg told Insiders host, Annabel Crabb, just … weeks after being elected.
THE TRICKLE-UP EFFECT
And there’s little chance of that. What with the world recognising back in 2012 that the tax cut method of giving money to the already rich only makes them richer and does nothing to create economic growth, there’s very little reason for optimism.
The Reserve Bank has been calling for the Government to do more to stimulate the economy for some time. It has continued to cite high household debt and low wages growth, combined with the fact that interest rates have already been cut to a record low, as sure signs of disaster ahead.
Josh, therefore, pulled out all stops. No, he didn’t stimulate spending. No, he didn’t increase infrastructure investment and, no, he didn’t implement any structural economic changes either. He did, though, respond with characteristic aplomb. The Treasurer organised a photo opportunity with the RBA Governor Phillip Lowe to demonstrate that all is well. After all, this ploy worked so well with Banking Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne.
JOSH GETS A SERVE OR TWO
In a moment of insolence, however – grinning photo op notwithstanding – Lowe decided to deliver a rap over the knuckles for Josh.
Dr Lowe, who also chairs the Bank for International Settlements’ Committee on the Global Financial System, ignored the Government’s strict no-policy policy and urged infrastructure spending or structural policy changes, instead.
And lastly, in response to Frydenberg begging them to pass on some of their dividends to employees, Australia’s business leaders have also dared to stare the Treasurer down, declaring the Government’s place is, basically, to stay the hell out of their business.
Boral CEO Mike Kane said:
"I don’t wait to be told by politicians as to what we’re supposed to do… What we're doing is what's in the best interests of Boral and its shareholders in the long run."
Yes, that trickle-down plan is working pretty well so far. So well, in fact, the Treasurer is “confident” in Australia’s economic growth, even if he is the only one.
Do you want fries with that economy?
This is only half the story! The other part of this editorial may be read in the IA members-only area. It takes less a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a small sum for superb journalism and lots of extras.