Bad Economics || Russel Marks for Politicoz

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 1.59.29 pm

This article was first published Politicoz on 7 October 2014 and was written by Russel Marks. 

There will be predictable reactions to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s announcementthat the government needs to scale back its budget surplus predictions because of global factors outside of his control. The Right will agree, and will continue to blame Labor for creating the “debt crisis” and for not agreeing to the Coalition’s desired spending cuts. Progressives will point out that the government has abandoned revenue measures (like the carbon price and mining super-profits tax), and will want to hold Hockey to account for using the same arguments for a continued deficit that he rejected when Labor used them.

Behind this political play is a deep disagreement about budgets, social security, taxation and the role of government itself. It’s a disagreement that’s often papered over by political parties in constant election-mode “me-tooism”, and neither party seems willing – or competent – to engage voters on the fundamentals of their political and economic philosophies. The problem is more acute for Labor. As the Chifley Research Centre’s Michael Cooney points out, its lionising of the Hawke-Keating government and its “microeconomic reform” precludes it from responding to today’s challenges.

The most immediate of those challenges is an extraordinary right-wing shift in the social contract that the Coalition is trying – and mostly failing – to engineer, against, it seems, the values of the bulk of Australians. Labor has struggled to articulate an effective response beyond “No”, perhaps because the Coalition’s policies look from some angles like extensions of the Hawke-Keating microeconomic reform. But the Coalition’s economic policy is built on the theoretical assumptions which economist Steve Keen argues have kept Europe in deep and sustained crisis.

About Chifley Research Centre

Chifley Research Centre

The Chifley Research Centre is the Labor Party’s official think tank, committed to the advancement of public policy debate and progressive thinking in Australia.

    CONTRIBUTOR click to Donate

    The Chifley Research Centre relies on contributions from individuals and organisations to fund our operations, events and research. Without your donations, nothing we do would be possible.

  • Cameron Clyne

    Cameron Clyne is the former CEO of National Australia Bank and now chairman of advisory firm Camel Partners and a

    Catherine King

    Catherine King is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.

    Cilla DeLacy

    Cilla has 20 years’ experience in public policy and corporate strategy across the water, land use planning and environmental management

    David Coats

    David Coats is in Australia as a Visitor at the Chifley Research Centre. He is a research fellow at the

    Gabrielle Kuiper

    Dr Gabrielle Kuiper has a background in science, sustainability and urban planning. She was previously Senior Adviser, Climate Change, Energy

    Jim Chalmers

    Jim Chalmers MP is Shadow Treasurer, and the federal Labor Member for Rankin. Prior to his election he was

    Linda Tirado

    Linda Tirado is a completely average American. She also has good rants about how much it sucks to be poor

    Terri Butler

    Terri Butler is the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water, and the federal Labor Member for Griffith, Queensland.

    Tim Kennedy

    Tim Kennedy is national secretary of the United Workers Union, organising for secure jobs and a fair Australia.

    Website design and development by