Politics Analysis

Taylor and Ley continue long Coalition tradition of fudging the figures

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

It is time to debunk "the Coalition are better economic managers" theory — once again.

While all this noise about the superior economic prowess of the Coalition hails from the Coalition itself, its symbiotic relationship with Australia’s media means even a murmur is soon amplified to a deafening cacophony.

This week, the garbled blabberings of Liberal Member for Hume Angus Taylor along with Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley have enjoyed centre stage.

According to these two exemplars of good governance – cabinet members of the former Morrison Government which failed every conceivable economic test – in 18 whole months Anthony Albanese has demonstrably failed to deliver a harbourside mansion for every Australian. 

During Parliamentary Question Time this week, Angus piped up with the following:

“Why did the Prime Minister prioritise a divisive referendum over Australians struggling with the cost of living?”

Angus took to the media room to declaim that Labor did "not have the tools" to combat cost of living pressures, before baldly declaring that the Liberal Party did, without explaining at all what they'd do differently. This, despite not giving a fig about cost of living pressures during its last three electoral terms in office, but then cut the press conference short before anyone could ask about the details. Well, the devil is in the detail — or perhaps more pertinently, in this case, without it.

In other arrant blather, Ley outlined her three-point plan to win back"every single Teal seat", through "more affordable housing, great support for working women" and, wait for it, "tackling the rising cost of living".

And to prove she's serious, Sussan has demonstrated her commitment to her party's new hobby by hanging out in the Teal seats at every opportunity and repeating her favourite new mantra:

“People have moved on from the former Prime Minister."

So animated is the Member for Farrer by her sudden revelation that it almost seems mean-spirited to remind her that she was not only an enthusiastic supporter of the "former Prime Minister", whom she appears hesitant to mention by name since we have all apparently "moved on", but was reinstated into the front bench by him after her spectacular sacking for rorting by the other former PM under which she served, Malcolm Turnbull. That we have moved on may come as news to some, including Morrison himself, given he still sits in Parliament.

Of course, these are also details conveniently left out of James Massola's gushing puff piece in the former Fairfax Press, in which he lays out the Liberal Party's latest talking points.

Australia is currently experiencing a cost of living crisis — a cost of living crisis which began and thrived under the previous Coalition Government and which the Labor Government again inherited.

Even as recently as the concluding weeks of the Morrison Government, our own Dave Donovan detailed the deplorable state of the economy after almost ten long years of L-NP rule.

Wage growth remained stagnant during this time — another detail conveniently forgotten by both Taylor and Ley and their media fan club. This is, in fact, a "design feature" of Coalition policy, as illuminated by former Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, in an hilarious exchange on Sky News

Reynolds first accused then-Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of lying when he pointed it out:

“No, I don’t believe that – absolutely not – and for Bill Shorten to even suggest that, I think, shows a fundamental lack of understanding about economics.”

However, once she realised that it was then-Liberal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann who had come up with the stagnant wage plan, she declared him to be"absolutely right".

Shows you just can't trust the Coalition to tell the truth about economics.

It was a decade that made us all poorer (not only financially, though that’s a subject for another article) and IA is one of the few publications to demonstrate this fact consistently. CPI skyrocketed, wage growth plummeted and, as pointed out by IA's Alan Austin, between 2012 to 2022, the Coalition added more debt to GDP than any developed country (with the exception of Costa Rica).

Indeed, apart from the accompanying den of iniquity during which rorting became normalised, the only things that increased during the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments were astronomical corporate windfalls and the level of trumpeted praise from the establishment media. Just like during the Howard years — an era of abysmal economic management, which was only reversed by the Rudd/Gillard Labor governments, who also saved us from the worst ravages of the global financial crisis. In fact, then-Treasurer Wayne Swan was anointed global treasurer of the year for that marvel. No Coalition treasurer has ever even been remotely in the hunt for such a plaudit, for reasons abundantly clear.

The highest taxes as a proportion of GDP Australia has ever seen occurred during the long and profligate Howard years. They were also the highest spending — by far. Yet still the Coalition and many in the media repeat those specious old Howard saws about taxes "always being lower under the Coalition" and Labor being addicted to "taxes and spending".

Some might suggest that one way to help Australians struggling from cost of living pressures would be for Labor to cancel its planned stage three tax cuts. However, as we saw during the days of the Gillard Government, any attempt by Labor to renege on an election promise would lead to it being lambasted by the mainstream media, then tarred and feathered and possibly later hung, drawn and quartered for good measure.

It is a truism barely worth mentioning that a very large part of the mainstream media have a radically different set of standards when it comes to holding governments to their election promises, depending on which side of politics happens to be in power at the time. Remember the fury over the Gillard "carbon tax" (that was never, in fact, a tax), as opposed to the plethora of broken promises from the Tony Abbott regime?

Don't believe the hype. The Coalition are, in truth, the tools without the tools when it comes to running the economy. 

This editorial was originally published as part of our members-only weekly newsletter – usually only available to subscribers in the IA members-only area. To receive the IA weekly newsletter and editorial directly to your inbox, subscribe here

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9 and IA founder and director Dave Donovan @davrosz. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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