Mungo MacCallum: More debt, no jobs or growth? Labor's fault, says Turnbull

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

Not only has the debt and deficit emergency ballooned and productivity stalled, but the mantra of "jobs and growth" ... has signally failed to deliver. 

AFTER the last fortnight, Bill Shorten will have to update his Wikipedia entry.

It appears that apart from being, as he insists, a Victorian, he is also a Cuban, an East German, a member of the Taliban, a Stalinist, a New Zealand double agent and – perhaps worst of all – a hereditary Pom. Is there no end to the man’s iniquity?

Well, apparently not, because now Malcolm Turnbull has managed to draw enough breath to point out that Shorten and his colleagues are not small businessmen; instead, they are largely trade unionists and party apparatchiks, which of course makes them totally unfit for office — unlike the stalwart burghers of the Coalition.

This is at least plausible, if only in comparison with the nonsensical bombast of the previous diatribes. It is true that few small businessmen are attracted to the Labor side of politics; their natural habitat is the Liberal Party and a few may be found in the ranks of lawyers, bankers, accountants and PR merchants who throng its ranks.

Of course, it can be argued that running a union is no less demanding than running a family store and in many cases requires considerably more expertise. But given that Turnbull appears to be trying to tell us that Shorten’s mob will bugger up the economy while his own team are the ones to fix it, our Prime Minister is on very shaky ground.

The melancholy truth, as has been shown for many months now, is that since the change of government in 2013, things have got not better but considerably worse. Not only has the "debt and deficit emergency" ballooned and productivity stalled, but the mantra of "jobs and growth" – which Turnbull still insists is not a slogan but an outcome – has signally failed to deliver.

Growth is at best sluggish, certainly compared to the rest of the world, which has generally recovered from the depredations of the global financial crisis rather more robustly than has Australia. Admittedly the rest of the world fell faster and further — it did not have Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan to cushion the impact. But the current figures make it plain that Australia is lagging, and continues to lag.

And as for jobs, the Government is relying on spin to produce alternate facts rather than the harsh reality households (and of course hard-working families) have to suffer. It is true that some jobs have been created but most of them are part time jobs; the percentage of workers with full-time work (and remember, that can mean only one day a month) is down from 2013.

Hours worked have, inevitably, decreased to an historic low. Long term and youth unemployment have soared. On any objective assessment, the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd regime was considerably more successful than the Abbott-Turnbull replacement.

Turnbull and his spin doctors continue to blame Labor, or the rest of the world, or just about anyone and anything for their own failings; if forced to admit that things aren’t actually rosy, they fall back on the rejoinder that even if there are problems, things would be worse under Labor and its (shudder) “socialists”.

The problem is that history shows otherwise. But history, as Henry Ford pointed out, is bunk. We may revere the lies on statues of Captain Cook, so why not the lies on the economy? Next week: Shorten reincarnates as Darth Vader.

Mungo MacCallum is a veteran journalist who worked for many years in the Canberra Press Gallery. This article was published on 'Pearls and Irritations' and is republished with permission.

Original cartoon by Mark David is published with permission. You can see more cartoons from Mark on his website Mark David Cartoons or follow him on Twitter @mdavidcartoons.

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