Scott Morrison tries to deceive the bankers, the voters and himself

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Morrison's speech 'riddled with evasions, half-truths and even a few falsehoods' (Art by @TwoEyeHead)

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison is distorting the record to make an appalling set of outcomes look acceptable.

His speech on Thursday to the AFR Banking and Wealth Summit was riddled with evasions, half-truths and even a few falsehoods. But who was he trying to convince?

Job losses

“In last year's Budget, I said we needed to focus on jobs and growth ... Since last year's budget, we've made good progress.”

Untrue. There has been no progress this financial year.

Since June 2016:

  • People unemployed have increased by 16,200 to more than 748,000.
  • Job participation has fallen from 64.9% to 64.6%.
  • Hours worked per person per month have dropped from 84.68 to 84.17.
  • 15 to 19 year-olds unemployed have grown by 9,600 to more than 150,000.
  • Employees needing to work more hours have exploded by more than 58,000 to an all-time high of 1.11 million.

Growth down the S-bend

Since the last budget, economic growth has lagged. September’s -0.5% growth rate was the first negative quarter outside a global recession or major natural disaster in 30 years.

Through Labor’s period, Australia’s ranking on gross domestic product (GDP) growth rose impressively to become the second highest among the 34 developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In contrast, Australia’s GDP growth has now fallen to 13th.

Finance sector corruption

“Since becoming treasurer I have consistently stressed and jealously guarded the resilience, strength and stability of our financial system.”

The opposite is true.

The Commonwealth Bank has admitted to scandals involving fraud, forgery and cover-up in its financial planning branch. The National Australia Bank’s finance arm has also confessed to corruption and has compensated clients.

Morrison has taken no action against anyone involved. As confirmed at the recent House Standing Economics Committee 'Review of the Four Major Banks', no executive has been demoted, penalised or sacked. Ireland, Iceland and other countries now gaol bank executives for corruption, as should Australia.

Banking inquiry

“We are also addressing the problems in our banking and financial system to ensure our banks and financial institutions are held to account ... and that there are serious sanctions in place to deal with bad behaviour.”


So poor has Morrison been in controlling bank misconduct, at least one Coalition senator has broken ranks to support a formal commission of inquiry.

Tax cuts do not boost jobs

“These tax cuts will allow small and medium sized businesses to invest more, employ extra staff and pay higher wages.”

The evidence proves cutting tax rates and reducing Tax Office (ATO) compliance resources has not created jobs. It has just helped in sending mega profits offshore.

The Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows company profits in 2016-17 are almost 40% higher than when Peter Costello was treasurer in 2006-07. But total company tax collected this year will actually be less in real terms. Meanwhile, the jobless rate has gone from 4.6% to 5.9%.

Multinational tax evasion

“The economic plan I outlined in last year's budget committed to fixing specific problems in our tax system. In the past year, we've continued to toughen up on multinationals.”

Plainly false.

The ATO’s transparency report and other data sources confirm the big multinationals are still not paying their share. There is no sign of gaol sentences or any other actual action from Morrison.

Infrastructure tanking

“We're making sure multinationals pay their fair share of tax ... to fund vital infrastructure and services.”

This is an area of failure on a massive scale. Engineering activity in 2016 fell 19.7% on 2015, which was down 13.0% on the year before. Even 2014 was 9.6% below 2013, which was down 1.7% on 2012. That makes four consecutive annual declines in infrastructure spending — for the first time ever.

Wasteful spending

“The Government has not shied away from the budget repair task. The predominant way to restore the Budget to balance is by getting expenditure under control.”

Just not true.

As Crikey quantified this week, the Coalition

‘... has blown over $100 billion courtesy of bad, ideological or partisan decisions, and taxpayers will be bearing the cost for a long time to come.’

Government expenditure

“Our mid-year update in December confirmed that government payments as a share of GDP have declined since the 2016 PEFO – from 25.8 per cent of GDP to 25.2 per cent of GDP in 2016–17 – and remain steady at 25.2 per cent of GDP over the forward estimates.”

Nothing whatsoever to brag about.

The range in Labor’s last three years was 24.0% to 24.9% when stimulus spending was still required to deal with the GFC. Going back to the Howard years – not particularly thrifty – Peter Costello had spending below 23.4% for his last two years.

Now the GFC is well and truly over, this should be below 24.6% to avoid unnecessary debt. Labor achieved this twice, despite the global recession. The Howard Government achieved it eight times.

Government debt blow-out

“Since we were first elected in 2013 we have ... reduced the growth in debt by around two thirds, which when Labor left office was growing at 34 per cent per annum.”

That is a shameless malicious lie. Dollar amounts are what generate interest payments and dollar amounts are what must be eventually repaid. Percentages are meaningless.

In Labor’s last 12 months in office, the gross debt grew by $25.7 billion, or $2.14 billion per month. Over the last six months, the rate was just $1.19 billion per month.

Through Morrison’s last 12 months, the gross debt grew by $67.14 billion, or a rate of $5.60 billion per month. Over the last six months, the rate has increased to $7.46 billion per month — more than six times Labor’s rate.

This disgraceful speech confirms Morrison is a hollow politician handling a critical portfolio with astonishing ineptitude. Unfortunately, there is no comfort in reports he is soon to be replaced. No-one else in this hapless regime is performing any better.

Such is Australia’s doom.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanTheAmazing.

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