It has a bizarre kind of symmetry to it.
All is not well with the Australian economy. Sure, monetary deregulation (in a large part thanks to Keating) has kept today’s interest rates from spiking like they did before the 90s, thus rendering election debate on interest rates more-or-less moot. Enterprise bargaining (thanks again Keating) has ensured the growth of our economy; productive growth. The kind of growth that puts the P into GDP (or GNP if you prefer), not growth in speculation, not cost-push inflation simply making the numbers bigger.
Still, things could be better. Whether or not we are experiencing inflation depends on which basket you use to measure the CPI. My own personal basket, if you consider rent, is skyrocketing. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Debt. Once upon a time, debt used to be a stick that the Libs would beat the Hawke-Keating Govt. with (despite how much the prior Fraser Govt. contributed). Australian private sector debt (as a percentage of GDP/GNP) is worse under our current Federal Government than under any Australian Government in history. And that budget surplus that the Peter “The Grin” Costello is grinning about, well the shine is taken off of it when you consider the black hole in treasury to the tune of 60-odd-billion-dollars of unfunded super that the Federal Government has accrued.
Things could be worse, but things could be better. The Federal Government has nothing to pat itself on the back about when it comes to the economy and let’s face it, working families have it tough and more-so now that it is a lot easier to sack them (and while screwing their pay-packets down may be illegal according to the “Workplace Authority”, the “Authority” is often impotent in making determinations).
So it has to grate on many Australian’s nerves when they see comments like these.
(Source: Howard Facts ‘Never Better Off?‘)
Now Keating’s reforms (monetary and enterprise bargaining) may be things he can be proud of. They did good things for the Australian economy and still continue to do so. But… Things weren’t all that flash back when Keating was PM so getting all puffed-up and proud was probably a bad idea. Just as it’s a bad idea now.
Indeed, Keating was taken to task on his confidence. He was taken to task for his pride. A certain Australian lectured him on this mistake in the lead-up to mid-90s electoral defeat.
Surely then, the words of said Australian would also be pertinent political advice for John Winston “Never Had It Better” Howard!
Ah. The smell of hypocrisy in the evening.
Disclosure: Bruce Everett is a (pretty nominal) member of the Australian Labor Party.