“So these numbers are extraordinary,” Joe Hockey awkwardly said yesterday. “Imagine what our nation could do if we had a good government.”

Imagine, indeed. How much better could it possibly get?

As European economies fall like dominoes, as America lumbers painfully out of recession, as Asian markets cut growth forecasts, Australia marches on with a truly triumphant 4.3% annual jump in GDP. Mining is booming, the investment pipeline is clogged and productivity is up. The expected jump in the unemployment rate today belied the fact some 46,100 more full-time jobs were created in May.

But the Treasurer isn’t allowed to say that. That would be “gloating”, as Sydney’s tabloid terror wrote today.

People aren’t shopping (in traditional shops). Businesses are laying off workers (in declining sectors). Battlers are still battling. In an extraordinarily volatile global market, parts of the domestic economy are undoubtedly grinding wheels. Wayne’s Cheshire grin cruelly mocks them.

But these are structural changes in an economy undergoing not one but several major transitions — not just a made-in-China mining boom but the impact of the internet and the transformation of Australia into a safe haven for worried investors. The government would be foolish to try to stop any of them and has mostly refrained.

The genuine doom and gloom from some only makes the macro picture even more impressive. If this isn’t good economic management, it’s hard to know what would be.

Peter Fray

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