Politics Analysis

Morrison and Frydenberg's only economic success isn't even true

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

There is less to Australia’s jobless situation than the Coalition and the craven mainstream media want us to believe, as Alan Austin reports.

AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY RECENTLY, before, during and after delivering last week’s Budget, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has bragged about Australia’s jobless.

He has boasted that the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, that a million new jobs were created late last year, that Australia leads advanced economies and that all this is due to effective Coalition policies. The hard, cold evidence refutes all these claims.

Blatantly falsified figures

Frydenberg’s Budget Paper No. 1 asserts (page 55):

‘Strong labour demand has allowed more than one million workers to start a new job in the three months to November 2021, an increase of 65% from the low experienced in 2020.’

Really? Based on what data? The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows people employed increased between August and November 2021 by just 176,200. Nowhere near a million. The total jobs added in the entire period since the May 2019 Federal Election is only 513,300.

In fact, the number of jobs added since Morrison and Frydenberg became PM and Treasurer in 2018 is just 1.05% of the population per year, one of the worst of all administrations. Bob Hawke generated 1.35%, John Howard 1.39% and Malcolm Turnbull 1.47%.

The budget document claims that:

‘...employment growth since then has seen the unemployment rate fall to just 4.0% — the equal lowest outcome since 1974.’

Not true. The latest rate is 4.042% to be precise. In February 2008, it was 3.981%.

Trailing other advanced economies

The budget paper also asserts:

‘Employment in Australia is now well above pre-pandemic levels and has grown by more than any major advanced economy.’

Also highly deceptive. The Treasurer’s document includes an extremely sneaky graph (page 81), which compares Australia with a cherry-picked group of seven economies, the G7 members. See below.

(Source: budget.gov.au)

The problem, of course, is that Australia is not a G7 member and ought not to be compared with them. G7 countries have higher populations and larger, more sclerotic economies.

In fact, the International Monetary Fund lists 40 “advanced economies” which the budget paper references on page 87. A fair comparison is with the non-G7 countries with smaller populations and more vibrant economies. When we do this, Australia is nowhere near the leaders. See blue chart, below.

(Graph supplied)

Coalition policies did not generate low jobless rates

The budget paper claims on page 8:

‘These [employment] outcomes have been underpinned by the Government’s $314 billion in direct economic support, including JobKeeper, which assisted around 4 million individuals and 1 million businesses.’

Here we come to the core deception in the narrative that the Coalition and its spruikers in the mendacious mainstream media hope will win the next Election. Australia’s job figures have in fact been mightily skewed by a surge in public servants since 2016, when Scott Morrison was Treasurer.

This is revealed in an obscure ABS file which is critical to understanding the fraud the Coalition and the mainstream economics writers are perpetrating. We go to Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, file 6291, table 26a, column B: Australia public sector employed total.

Over the last six years, a staggering 529,500 “workers” have gained government jobs. That’s up from 1,451,700 in February 2016 to 1,981,200 this February, an expansion of 36.5%. That is 4.2% of the 2016 workforce, which easily explains the drop in the headline jobless rate. See yellow chart, below.

(Graph supplied)

The percentages are just as emphatic. From August 2014 to early 2017, public servants comprised below 12% of the workforce. For the last four years, the average has been above 14%. See pink chart, below.

(Graph supplied)

Hence, the decline in the jobless rate since 2016 is not the result of business expansion in a well-managed economy. It is the result of state and federal governments vastly extending the public trough.

The private sector employed 83.2% of the workforce in February 2016. By February 2022, after hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars had been shovelled to corporations in an affectation of boosting jobs, the private sector now employs 82.2% of the workforce — a significant decline.

Meanwhile, the percentage employed by governments soared from 11.5 to 14.2 over those six years.

Three inescapable conclusions

So what does this tell us? First, when comparing today’s jobless rates with any period before 2018, we must add 2.2%. That’s based on the simple observation that before 2018, public servants comprised 12.0% of the workforce and they now comprise 14.2%.

Hence, today’s headline percentage of 4.0 looks superficially okay and is indeed well below the 5.1 average through Labor’s last term. It is less impressive when we add 2.2 to make the comparisons valid. Less impressive, but more honest.

Second, the Morrison Government gets away with all these crude deceptions because it is protected by the mainstream media which repeat and amplify the lies. To achieve a better society, we must combat the established press and support the alternative media.

The final message is that those extra half-million government employees cost taxpayers at least $49 billion each year. That’s a fair slice of the gross debt stacked on since 2018, which averages $86.9 billion annually.

Interest on this will be paid by our children and grandchildren for the rest of their lives to subsidise us today, unless they are taxed even further to repay that debt, now at $869.9 billion. The obvious conclusion here is we must be extra kind to our children and grandchildren henceforward.

We can start by banishing the current corrupt and incompetent regime forever.

Alan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @alanaustin001.

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