On the final pages of the 2020-2021 budget papers is a table showing that, in real terms, the Whitlam government’s net debt peaked at a little over $1000 for every Australian, the Rudd-Gillard government’s after the global financial crisis peaked at $8500 per person, while the Morrison government’s legacy is projected to exceed $28,000 per person1.
Despite this massive increase, this level of debt is said to be sustainable because that debt was borrowed at record low interest rates. Indeed, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) has estimated that government gross debt will hit 55% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 and will still be above 30% of GDP by 2055 – a rate nearly double anything seen since the Second World War. The PBO concluded that “the government will be able to maintain a sustainable level of debt relative to GDP over the coming decades”2.
In 2010, it was the laughably incompetent Tony Abbott who complained that the Labor government was going to “saddle our children and grandchildren with unsustainable debt”2 In the runup to the 2013 election, Abbott whipped up a storm about what he said was the atrocious state of the economy under Labor, saying that the gross government debt, which was sitting at $273 billion (31% of GDP) at the time, was astronomical and was a ‘debt and deficit crisis’. Abbott promised to reduce government spending, lower deficits and, at some stage, start paying off the debt. But by 2015, the Abbott government had managed to add a further 35% ($100 billion) to the debt to bring it up to 38% of GDP3,4.
By the middle of 2017, with Scott Morrison as Treasurer under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the debt passed the $500 billion mark (41% of GDP), and in early 2020, well before the Covid-19 ordure hit the budgetary fan, and with Morrison as Prime Minister, it had reached $685 billion (50% of GDP)3,4.
Back in May 2009, when the Labor government was busy ladling money to consumers and infrastructure, with the aim of warding off the worst effects of the Global Financial Crisis5, Scott Morrison rose to comment on the recently presented Labor government’s 2009-2010 budget. He said, in part: “The real cause of our debt and deficit is the Rudd government’s reckless spending. At 28.6 per cent of GDP—this is the big figure—it is a record high since World War Two. It has eclipsed even the largesse of previous Labor governments and is staying that way over the forecast period. This is a government that simply believes it can borrow and spend its way out of trouble with other people’s money”6.
This clearly demonstrates what is wrong with the political class. Everything is about scoring points. While the lack of integrity has been documented numerous times on this site and elsewhere, it is the rampant hypocrisy (also detailed on here numerous times) which is just as sickening, and Morrison has that in spades.
This is actually quite a serious matter which future generations will have to sort out–I do not think that they will thank us. However, one of the real problems is that the modern capitalist economic model of continual growth is totally illogical and in the long run is doomed to failure–it is simply not possible to have continual growth without the whole system eventually becoming unstuck. As part of continual growth the world population has got to the stage where it is simply unsustainable, and indeed has been for some time. This is not an original thought, but unfortunately it is true. Basically we are stuffed.
Yep. I think that our generation will be thought of as the negligent generation. We have known about climate change for 40 years or more and very little has been done, and a 2 degree or more rise seems inevitable. This is on top of the stupidity of infinite growth on a finite planet. Climate change will exacerbate the problems caused by that stupidity and will make the Covid-19 pandemic look like a storm in a teacup.
Yeh, yeh, you anti-Australian commies love to point out my hypocrisy but what I meant to add was “unless I’m the Treasurer or PM and there’s an election to be won, in which case all my previous comments – on any matter – were obviously not meant to to taken seriously. Apart from the one about shooting leftie female protestors – who I would have met had they rolled out the red carpet like all good sycophants and forelock tuggers should – of course.”
“And besides why would any thinking adult believe anything I say? As you know well, one minute telling people in no uncertain terms ‘I’m the Prime Minister’, the next minute I’m saying I’m responsible for nothing, even things the Constitution says unequivocally that I am directly accountable for like aged care and quarantine, or pulling unelected Department Heads into line when they make public pronouncements about preparing for war with those Chinese bullies, er, I mean foreign policy.”
That puts it in a nutshell. Morrison states ‘I am the Prime Minister’ and at the same time shovels all of the responsibility of that position to others.
I suggest everyone beware at the immediate moment a politician, especially the PM or Treasurer, begins to babble on about economics writ large. That is, macro-economics. Often these furphy addicts just aim to bamboozle the public for the usual dirty unstated political aims. One cannot make comparisons between household budget matters and those related to the entire national economy or GDP. It’s a different ball game, talking of macro-economics, from discussing Mr and Ms Smith’s monthly need to keep their credit card debt down to a safe level. Most economics raves by the party in power are squalid attempts to call black white; to excuse themselves for overspending on one item they never mention: BLOODY WASTE ON DEFENCE PROCUREMENTS, costing tens of billions every single year. And all that budget money to no end, because if an enemy attacks us down under, it will likely be so overwhelming in fire power, it will knock out our defence capability inside a few days. HOWEVER, I think the colossal, superdebt situation we are now in opens up the question of what this thing money truly is; and as far as our whacky neoliberal capitalist globalism goes, the emperor has no clothes. In fact the emperor is a skeleton, no flesh at all – totally morally bankrupt, to allude again to the economy. We live in a welter of capitalist propaganda, a tired dead narrative that almost every postmodern neo-Marxian critic has shown to be not only false, but utterly destructive of the biosphere and human health, both mental and physical. It’s a broken, twisted system that has only one descriptor: Shit!
Yep, the debt and deficit disaster mantra from a decade ago, is like most political propaganda, pure equine ordure. And yet, the gullible, with the aid of the Murdoch and Nine media swallowed it all. I also agree with you that capitalism is the root problem. As midnight oil said in one of their songs ‘the balance sheet is breaking up the sky’. It will be our end, unless we act now.
Truth is we’re an ignorant, lazy, complacent and insular nation when it comes to managing and nurturing our national estate, our democracy, and many of the things which we thought were intrinsic to the Aussie psyche – like mateship, helping others, egalitarianism, a fair go etc. As much as some people like to cling to the myth, most of those things are long gone thanks largely to self-centred, self-interested modern politicians and a dearth of decent leadership in politics, business and religion.
I did the ABC Australia Talks poll yesterday (https://australiatalks.abc.net.au – some pretty lame questions imo). It compares your responses to a series of set questions to those of 60,000 previously polled responses. Of particular interest to me were concerns/views on wealth distribution and political integrity (ie a federal ICAC). Oddly these concerns don’t seem to carry any weight when it comes to the ballot box. Either that or the alternative government (Labor) is incapable of getting its message across. Probably both.
The survey is possibly skewed given that it is ABC associated. I couldn’t find aggregated demographic data for the respondents in the 2019 version – age, sex, education, income, politics etc – to see if it was representative but this statement leads me to believe that it’s not:
“Participants in the Australia Talks National Survey were selected from the Vox Pop Labs online respondent panel, comprised of a diverse cross-section of Australians. The panel was recruited from Australians who have completed ABC Vote Compass surveys in the past and who said they were willing to participate in further research projects.”