Liberals outdo themselves with untruths, hubris and hypocrisy

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The Liberal Party released a propaganda video celebrating their 75th anniversary (Screenshot via YouTube)

The Liberal Party is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a video which shamelessly falsifies history. Alan Austin reports.

“These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight”, declared Prime Minister Scott Morrison in an election night clip at the start of a mendacious video released on Saturday to mark the Liberal Party’s milestone.

This is the first of many falsehoods. The May election victory was won by the Murdoch and Fairfax media empires and other “news” organisations that lied shamelessly to the Australian people about Labor and the Coalition day in, day out, for years. Saturday’s video is a neat compilation of some of those time-honoured untruths.

It claims child endowment, the expansion of university places and the Snowy Mountains scheme as Liberal achievements. Child endowment was introduced in 1941 before the Liberal Party was formed. It was Labor, not the Liberals, which opened tertiary education to students from low-income families. The Chifley Government initiated the Snowy Mountains scheme, beginning in 1946.

Economic collapse

The rewriting of the Liberal economic record is laughable:

William McMahon became prime minister in 1971 where he continued the Government’s record of economic stability.”

Didn’t happen. By 1971, the economy was badly weakened by years of poor policy, low productivity, cronyism and union-bashing. The September quarter of 1970 recorded negative GDP growth for the fourth time in four years. The economy went into actual recession – for the first time since the war – with consecutive negative quarters in Q4 1971 and Q1 1972.

The Coalition lost control of inflation in 1970 and 1971, seeing it rise from 2.1% to 7.1% in 18 months.

Social progress

The video claims falsely:

“During the six years spanning Holt, Gorton and McMahon as Prime Minister, the Liberal Party provided an engine room for social progress.”

Pure nonsense. The examples offered include giving women equal pay, ending the White Australia policy and the 1967 referendum. Australia was late to the party on all these. Canada enacted equal pay in 1956, the USA in 1963.

The real social progress that transformed Australia in the 1970s occurred during the brief but energetic three-year period of the Whitlam Government which followed the decades of stagnation under the Coalition.

Whitlam’s reforms

The video damns the Whitlam Government with deception and hypocrisy:

“Within the space of three years, mortgage rates had risen from seven to ten per cent, the unemployment rate had doubled and the inflation rate tripled.”

Yes, interest rates did increase to 10.27% in 1975. But let’s remember two facts: the interest rates blow-out was a global phenomenon, not due to any policy in Australia. Second, after the rate slipped back below ten per cent between 1976 and 1978, it then took off again in 1979 after John Howard had been Treasurer for three years. It hit 14.3% in 1980 and a staggering 19.3% in 1981, the highest on record — still. The video does not mention these facts.

Hawke and Keating

Labor’s reign in the '80s and '90s is falsely condemned:

“...against Labor’s backdrop of economic insecurity and wrong priorities.”

In fact, most of Australia’s major post-war economic reforms were accomplished in this period. These include expanding trade with China, the prices and incomes accord, opening the economy to global competition, slashing tariffs, floating the dollar, reforming the tax rates, capital gains and fringe benefits taxes, universal superannuation, and fixing Medicare.

The dismal Howard years

Not surprisingly, this era is airbrushed within an inch of its life:

“The Liberal Party pledged to govern for the many, not just for the few.”

This is the opposite of what happened. Inequality – as measured by the Bureau of Statistics via its Gini coefficient – increased markedly during the Howard years.

“...unemployment was reduced to four per cent, the lowest level since the seventies.”

Almost true, but not quite. The lowest the jobless reached was 4.21%, seasonally adjusted. But here’s the thing — that was during the 2007 global boom when far more jobs should have been generated than were. In 2007, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, Cyprus, Malaysia, Mexico, Switzerland, Singapore and the Philippines got their jobless lower than 4%. Norway, Iceland, Vietnam, Guatemala, Bolivia and India were below 3%. Kuwait, Qatar, Thailand, Cuba, Pakistan and Laos were all under 2%.

Liberals are loud and obnoxious in bragging they get lower jobless rates during global booms than Labor gets in world recessions. But they have never succeeded in getting Australia’s outcomes among the world’s leaders. Labor has.

Labor’s “disasters”

Then comes a segment where the video castigates Labor for its management of the global financial crisis (GFC). On this, the Liberal Party is at one with the mendacious Murdoch media and the Institute of Public Affairs. But no one else.

The list of independent economists and other authorities worldwide who have praised Labor for implementing the world’s best response to the GFC now totals more than 140. See here and here. In contrast, seven economists have claimed Labor botched the GFC, all paid by Rupert Murdoch.

Yet here in this video, ten years after being discredited, the Liberals still scream about “$8 billion wasted on school hall rip-offs” and “Labor’s insulation disaster putting 240,000 homes at risk”.

The video declares:

“Labor’s debt is growing by over $100,000,000 every day”.

That was actually true. But this is hypocrisy at its most putrid. Through the financial year 2016-17, the Coalition added $221,000,000 every day. More than double. So far this financial year, it has added $227 million per day.

The present

The video asserts:

“Under the leadership of Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, the Coalition once again put Australia back on track.”

The opposite is true. On every significant measure of economic and social progress, Australia has tumbled down the global rankings.

“The flow of illegal immigrants was stopped, saving the budget billions.”

Completely false. The extraordinary cost to the budget of wasted orange lifeboats, the aborted deal with Cambodia and offshore detention is a major reason the Coalition has not achieved the surpluses it promised, “in our first year in office and... every year of our first term”.

Irregular immigration has increased, not stopped. They are now arriving at airports.

“A record $100 billion is being invested in nation building infrastructure.”

No, it isn’t. That is a hope for some time in the future. The actual record on infrastructure over the last six years is the worst in Australia’s recent history and close to the worst in the developed world.

Any positives?

There is one initiative and one only for which the Liberal Party deserves commendation and thanks. That is the 1996 gun buy-back. The Howard Government can also be applauded for continuing the economic policies of the Keating era over most of its term, although that was not an initiative.

This video is a fitting tribute to the Liberal Party. It shows the party stands for denial of reality, malicious falsehoods and breathtaking hypocrisy.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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