If you were looking for a case study in the separation between political reality and what matters in the real world, then today’s news that the Australian economy grew at 0.6% in the June quarter is tailor made.

Unquestionably the confirmation that our economy is growing — and robustly at that — is good news. The Great Recession looks increasingly like a 2008 kind of thing, the future looks brighter than it has done for many, many months. But buried in all of that is a political headache for Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan and the first bit of good luck Malcolm Turnbull has enjoyed in his fraught stewardship of the Liberal Party.

The debate on the government’s penchant for stimulus — Are we over stimulated? Should it stop now? How will we all pay for it? — will get a generous kick along by news that the economy is pulling its socks up. Rates will almost certainly rise and the discussion will turn to the queasy prospect of federally driven over-heating. A beautiful set of numbers you might say, but numbers that will mean all things to all people.

A cynic might almost suggest that Rudd and co could have dealt more easily with a small negative growth figure. Just a little one, just low enough…

Peter Fray

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