Actually, we do know

Phil Morgans writes:  Re. “Rundle: worst Australian government ever, proven by science” (yesterday). On whether the mining industry saved Australia from recession during the GFC, Guy Rundle writes today, “Maybe the mining sector gave us more of a buffer than was thought, but we’ll never know, will we?”

Actually, we do know and the answer is a resounding no, the mining industry didn’t save us from recession. In fact, if the rest of the economy performed as badly as the mining industry after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, we would have been in shitters ditch.

The budget estimates process is a good place for myth-busting.

During the May 2010 budget estimates hearings, former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry was asked about the claims being made at the time that the mining industry saved us from recession.

Henry had this to say:

“I have heard it said on a number of occasions, in fact I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people say, including senior commentators, that the mining industry saved Australia from recession or, even in less extreme versions of the statement that the mining industry contributed strongly to Australia avoiding a recession. These statements are not supported by the facts I would have to say.

“As senators know, if one defines a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative growth then it is true that the Australian economy avoided a recession but the Australian mining industry actually experienced quite a deep recession on that calculation.

“In the first six months of 2009, in the immediate aftermath of the shock waves occasioned by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Australian mining industry shed 15.2 per cent of its employees. Had every industry in Australia behaved in the same way, our unemployment rate would have increased from 4.6 per cent to 19 per cent in six months. Mining investment collapsed; mining output collapsed. So the Australian mining industry had quite a deep recession while the Australian economy did not have a recession. Suggestions that the Australian mining industry saved the Australian economy from recession are curious, to say the least.”

Where are we going, Australia?

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Quelle surprise — government hands big banks a tax win” (yesterday). Once again the tea party ultra-rights in this fatally split federal government have got their way.

And once again the consumer loses. This time the minister responsible for kick-starting small business has lost out to the big business representatives in Hockey, Robb, “Labor’s debt and deficit” Corman and their ilk. The changes he wanted to make small business more competitive by giving them a fair go against the big monoliths thrown out.

Every day in every way this government continues to trash the people of this country.

Free trade agreements, foreign worker rorts, jackboot uniforms and concentration camps are all appearing.

The workers’ party, Labor, are essentially absent from this debate and this is a disgrace.

My late father described to me what happened in Germany between the two world wars and the march into history of absolute racism and barbarity.

Are we seeing this beginning in Australia?

Peter Fray

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