First they damage the economy, then they fudge the figures

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (Screenshot via YouTube)

It is bad enough that the Coalition is dismantling Australia’s once-great economy piece by piece. Now they are blatantly denying it.

Work experience treasurer Josh Frydenberg made outrageous claims on Wednesday. As expected, the mainstream media repeated them as though they were self-evidently true. They are not. Let’s examine them.

Economic mismanagement

‘Today's National Accounts for the September quarter 2018 show the... strong economic management of the Liberal National Government.’

Nonsense. Australia is lagging the rest of the world badly on virtually all indicators.

Wednesday’s Bureau of Statistics release shows annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to the end of September 2018 was 2.77%. That ranks 106th among the world’s 183 economies, well down in the bottom half. That is as low as Australia has been. Ever.

The actual OECD average

‘... this sees Australia growing faster than the OECD average and all of the G7 nations except the United States.’

Plainly false. This was clearly written for Fairfax, News Corp and the commercial radio newsrooms who can be relied upon to regurgitate it without checking.

First up, who cares about the G7? Australia is not a G7 member. Frydenberg may as well say Australia is doing better than all former Belgian colonies, or all countries ending with “-kistan”. (Except that neither of those is true either.)

Yes, Australia is a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but the average growth of those 36 wealthy, developed economies is 2.94%. So claiming Australia’s 2.77% is higher is a blatant porky pie and a shameful one.

For most of Labor’s period, Australia’s GDP growth was in the OECD’s top six. For two quarters in 2009, it was actually top of the table. Australia now ranks 15th — an absolute disgrace!

Uninterrupted growth why?

‘We have completed our 27th consecutive year of economic growth...’

That part is correct. But no thanks to the Coalition. Credit goes, first, to the Hawke/Keating administration which restructured Australia’s economy in the 1980s and 90s. And, second, to the Rudd Government whose rapid response to the 2008 global crisis ensured Australia – alone in the developed world – averted recession, widespread job losses and suicides in the thousands.

The Coalition opposed most of Labor’s historic moves to bolster the economy’s resilience.

Jobless rate distortions

‘... the unemployment rate has fallen to 5.0% and nearly 1.2 million jobs have been created.’

Yes, the rate has fallen from 5.7% in September 2013 to 5.0% now. But, again, that is a dismal result relative to the rest of the world.

Australia was in the top ten OECD countries for jobs right through the Labor years, finishing in ninth place in both September and October 2013. Australia’s OECD ranking has now crashed to 16th as the rest of the world has advanced.

Fudging the reviews

‘The strength of the Australian economy has recently been recognised by the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and our AAA credit rating...’

That’s only part of the story. The recent OECD update also noted that ‘wage rates have not picked up significantly’, ‘high indebtedness of households remains a risk’ and ‘under-employment measures indicate that a significant share of part-time workers would like to work longer hours’.

Australia gained the full set of triple-A ratings with positive outlooks for the first time in 2011, after Labor had nurtured the economy through the GFC. Australia then lost the positive outlook with Standard & Poor’s in 2016, after three years of Coalition mismanagement.

The very recent recovery of that positive outlook may well be based on forecasts of Labor’s imminent return.

Next budget surplus

‘Because of the Coalition's strong economic management we will deliver next April the first budget surplus in more than a decade.’

Again, completely untrue. The budget which concludes on 30 June next year will show a deficit of about $14.5 billion. The only thing that will happen next April is that Frydenberg will predict a surplus which might arrive in June 2020. Or might not. There will almost certainly have been a change of government in May 2019. So they will definitely not “deliver” anything in April.

Actual state of the economy

‘The Government's plan of lower taxes and stronger economic growth is working and today's numbers show the strength of the Australian economy...’

Quite false. Additional to the above, the variables on which Australia’s economy has deteriorated badly in global rankings since 2013 include, but are not confined to:

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