While acknowledging that political rhetoric is not the most accurate of mediums for factual analysis, Crikey was struck by this statement from the Prime Minister at yesterday’s “campaign rally”, when he was urging voters not to vote for independents or minor parties.

“Vote for any of them and you could end up with Bill Shorten as Prime Minister in a government where unions, Greens and independents pull the strings. This will mean less investment, less employment and an economy going into reverse. It would mean higher deficits and more debt.”

So we thought we’d fact-check that. What happened when, in Turnbull’s words, “unions, Greens and independents pulled the strings” between 2010 and 2013?

According to the ABS, the highest ever level of private investment in Australian history was in the December 2012 quarter, when investors pumped $43.8 billion into the economy. In the March 2016 quarter, private investment was just $27.9 billion. Since December 2013, it has averaged $36.5 billion. The mining investment boom, of course, explains those figures — but peculiarly neither a minority government, nor the mining tax, nor a 30% company tax rate, discouraged investors.

Unemployment has averaged 6% in trend terms since the Coalition was elected in 2013. It averaged 5.3% during the life of the minority government.

And during that period of minority government overall government expenditure fell to 24.1% of GDP in 2012-13 and net debt, at the end of 2013, of 10% of GDP. Expenditure is now 25.8% of GDP and net debt will be 18.9% of GDP in 2016-17. Economic growth averaged 0.7% per quarter in trend terms from 2010-13. Under the Coalition, economic growth has averaged … 0.7%.

Economists might be mistaken for hankering for the days of minority government.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey