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Sep 13, 2017

Think Scott Morrison is a good treasurer? Here are 40 reasons you are wrong

Suddenly everyone seems to have forgot to hate Scott Morrison, with his polling numbers surprisingly good. Here are 40 reasons his treasurership has been a shambles.

Monday’s bizarre Fairfax-Ipsos poll suggests most voters think the Coalition runs the economy better than Labor. It claims Scott Morrison’s approval as Treasurer is 42%, against his disapproval of just 38%. That, according to Fairfax, is “a vast improvement over Joe Hockey’s position … when his disapproval exceeded his approval by 25 percentage points”.

There are two responses to this. The first is to recall all the evidence that Australian opinion polls are rigged. Clive Palmer memorably admitted paying pollsters for the results the Liberal Party wanted when he was a state director.

The second is that if there is indeed any deluded soul who still believes the Coalition is competent in economic management following the dismal Howard/Costello period and now the disastrous Abbott/Turnbull years, then that is due entirely to the mendacity of the mainstream media.

The reality is that the economy collapsed inexcusably during the two years Joe Hockey was treasurer. But it has tanked even further — except for the very rich — since Scott Morrison replaced him.
So here is a Crikey challenge for enthusiasts of Australian politics, economics and media: how many of these 40 verifiable facts you can find reported in any mainstream news outlet?

Record-low wage rises

  1. Annual wage growth is now 1.9%, the lowest rate ever recorded.
  2. As a proportion of Australia’s total income — gross domestic product (GDP) — wages are now the lowest since records began in 1959.

Household disposable income

  1. This fell again in the latest data, after a substantial fall the quarter before. Disposable income is now just $29,640 per household, well below the 2013 level of $31,650.
  2. The decline over the last six months for the nation was a staggering $20.4 billion, the steepest percentage drop since the 2002 recession.

Median wealth

  1. Australia had the highest median wealth in the world during the Labor years, recorded at US$219,500 per adult in 2013. It has declined each year since and is now US$162,815, ranking third globally.

Economic growth

  1. Through the Labor years Australia’s economic growth was in the top three in the developed world. For some quarters in 2009 and 2010 it was the highest.
  2. Only three countries of the 35 members of the OECD — the rich nations’ club — averted deep recession during the GFC: Australia, Poland and Israel.
  3. Of these, only Australia also avoided widespread unemployment and recession-related deaths.
  4. Australia’s annual growth, after four years of the Coalition, is now 1.8%, ranking 25th out of those 35 countries.

People unemployed

  1. August figures showed the jobless has been above 710,000 for nine months now.
  2. The last time that happened before the Coalition was elected in 2013 was in 1997.

Monthly hours worked per adult per month

  1. In July, this tumbled to 85.04, bringing to 15 the months below 85.10 during the 22 months since Malcolm Turnbull installed the current ministry. The lowest this reached through the Labor period was 85.70.
  2. Of the 46 months since the 2013 election, this has been below 85.70 for 41.

Percentage of workers with full-time jobs

  1. Now down to 68.4%, compared with 69.8% at the 2013 election. The lowest this reached during the Howard, Rudd and Gillard years was 69.70% — even through the global financial crisis (GFC).
  2. Number of months below 69.00% under Morrison is 21 out of 22.

People underemployed

  1. Workers with at least one part-time job but needing more hours to survive now number 1,129,100.
  2. In September 2013 this was 950,500. So it’s up 19% — against a 5.9% population gain.

Unemployed for more than a year

  1. Now 166,200. That’s up 22.4% since 2013, compared with the 5.9% population rise.
  2. For 41 months straight this has been above 155,000. This never exceeded 136,000 during Labor’s entire regime.

Average weeks the jobless spend looking for a job

  1. Four years ago this was 38.6. Now five weeks longer at 43.9.


  1. Labour productivity advanced from March 2011 onwards with 17 consecutive quarterly rises, but came to a shuddering halt in June 2015 after Joe Hockey’s second failed budget. It is now just 102.2 points — below 2014 levels.

Budget deficits and surpluses

  1. After 11 deficits in 12 years, Australia’s economy was returned to structural and headline surplus in 1987 by the Hawke Labor government. It remained in structural surplus for the next 18 years, and achieved headline surplus 13 times.
  2. The Howard government pushed the economy back into structural deficit in 2006.
  3. The highest budget surplus ever delivered in Australia was $19.75 billion in June 2008, after Wayne Swan had been Labor treasurer for seven months. (Former treasurer Peter Costello had budgeted for a surplus of only $10.6 billion.)
  4. Only once in history has there been a run of four deficits deeper than $37 billion. That was under the Coalition during the 2014 to 2017 global trade and profits boom.

Gross debt

  1. Gross borrowings added by the Rudd/Gillard governments were $211.3 billion in 69 months. That is $3.06 billion per month, during the worst global economic crisis in 80 years.
  2. In its last financial year, 2012-2013, Labor added $1.95 billion per month.
  3. Gross borrowings added by the Abbott/Turnbull governments were $231.9 billion in 48 months. That is $4.83 billion per month, during the strongest global recovery since the 1950s.
  4. In its latest financial year, 2016-2017, the Coalition added $6.71 billion per month.

Net debt

  1. After committing to cut net debt by $30 billion, the Coalition has doubled it from $161.3 billion to $325.1 billion.

Interest on the debt

  1. Interest paid in Labor’s last financial year, 2012-13, was $8,285 million, or $22.7 million each day.
  2. Interest paid in the Coalition’s last financial year, 2016-17 was $12,248 million, or $33.7 million daily.
  3. Interest to be paid on the debt, according to Treasury, if Coalition policies continue, will be $15,506 million in three years’ time, or $42.5 million daily

Housing approvals

  1. For July these were just 18,299. That is below July last year and July 2015. It is below the average monthly approvals for the last three financial years — 19,155.


  1. Building and construction investment has declined for three financial years in a row. First time ever.
  2. Total construction for the financial year to June was $192.3 billion. This is the first year below $200 billion since 2010-11, at the depths of the GFC.


  1. Tax revenue during Labor’s last four years averaged 20.6% of GDP.
  2. Taxes over the four Coalition years were well up, averaging 21.7% of GDP.
  3. Taxes for the next four years, 2017-18 to 2020-21, are projected by Treasury to average 23.0% of GDP — if Coalition policies continue.

Two economies

  1. Meanwhile, the economy for the rich is booming with record company profits, flourishing trade, a buoyant share market and huge executive pay rises.

Australia’s doom is that only the rich, and especially the big, foreign corporations, are benefiting from this extraordinary global trade and profits boom.

So how did you go? How many of these 40 fun facts have the Australian mainstream press reported?

Two? One? None? Well, there you go.

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23 thoughts on “Think Scott Morrison is a good treasurer? Here are 40 reasons you are wrong

  1. Michael

    Sure Alan, you make some compelling points. And they would mean something if we didn’t know that things would be much worse under a Labor/Greens government.
    Cheers, M

    1. Longfulan

      Michael…did you read the article? Did you note any of the evidence supplied? That i.e. evidence of coalition economic incompetence? So how would things be worse under Labor? Oh, I see…..alternative facts.

    2. Dog's Breakfast

      Of course you can’t argue with that. It’s true because it’s true because I said so!

    3. billie

      Statistics say “Life was better under Labor!”

    4. AR

      wha… serious or delirious? Micky taken.

  2. graybul

    Given the big picture debate about mainstream media’s struggle to survive is it any wonder Alan, why anyone even cares anymore? Having skimmed your list . . . it is crystal clear “Big Media” is no longer a credible journalistic source worthy of trust. One may hope that labor will accept responsibility to read your “facts” into Hansard at the earliest possible opportunity. The existence of CRIKEY again proved value for money.

    1. billie

      You average economist who remembers their macro conomics knows this government is rubbish and that most journalists breathlessly report the goings on in Canberra like a breathless tennis match, rather than undertaking a modicum of economic analysis.
      Slomo evidently studied Economics at Sydney University – you wonder what the hell they teach there

      1. AR

        Most journos. are functionally innumerate. Oddly, even, or especially, the financial ones.

      2. brian crooks

        billie, slomo did`nt study economics at sydney uni or any uni, he has no economic degrees, none, thats why the economy is in such a mess, he`s treasurer as a reward for helping turnbull kill of abbott, no other reason, the planes flying with a pilot who has`nt got a licence so reach for your parachute

  3. klewso

    Mind you this “everything’s rosy or Labor’s fault” persepective of Slomo’s has come from the same fevered, delusional mind that has “observed and analysed”, giving us “This Labor Party is the most, the most, left-wing Labor Party in a generation!” – only a couple of weeks ago.

  4. Dog's Breakfast

    Perversely, given where the MSM is these days, we will be better off when News Ltd and all their daily rant sheets, as well as the SMH and the Age, are finally bundled off to bankruptcy. Speaking truth to power! Wasn’t that part of the raison d’etre for the 4th estate.
    I suspect that won’t happen while Rupert is still alive (at least for News Corp publications) but the SMH and Age must be close to tanking by now. I barely get enough paper to wrap the scraps in these days.

    Facts, damn facts, be done with them.

  5. Rohan Wood

    I am filled with apoplectic rage, but now I realise, what can I do? I’m at a total loss as to how Governments peddle myths and so convincingly hoodwink society into believing all their BS? I personally feel utterly powerless as an individual to hold Governments (of any persuasion) to account. This current Government has pretty much bungled everything they’ve set out to do, yet such few media outlets ever interrogate ministers on the voracity of these politicians claims. We have an energy crisis, a changing climate, wage stagflation, rampant corporate corruption, gaping holes in taxation, unsustainable population growth with no commensurate infrastructure to support it, a hideously inadequate NBN, erosion of our civic institutions, the list goes on and on. It is impossible for ScoMO to open his mouth without some whipped up spray of confected outrage at how everything is Labour’s fault. I used to be passionate about Australian politics. Now I’m utterly apathetic. How is anyone to change the politics of this Nation?

    1. John Homan

      Dear Rohan,
      Do not succumb to ‘learnt helplessness’. You do have power. Your power is in the credible and trusting relationships you have in the community. You influence them every time you see them, ask them RUOK, and have a conversation with them. You can influence the political outcomes well beyond your individual vote.
      Go for it!

  6. billie

    Great to see that Alan Austin is writing about Australia’s economic performance for Crikey and telling it like it is

  7. Bill Hilliger

    Despite the issues of the above items, the Australian voting sheeples will vote against their own best interest as long as the LNP comes up with a nifty slogan come next election. Da Labor Party fault, da Labor Party did it, Beel Shortin bad, unions bad, union thugs, industry super funds bad. LNP good, axe the tax, superior NBN the sheeples will buy it, haw, haw, haw.

  8. Susan Anderson

    Fairfax Ipsos polls say anything the Fairfax top brass want them to say and currently they are trying to save this moribund so called government, they must have given up on Trumble and figure that Treasurer Scum is a better choice than Mr Potatoe Head over at the Immigration Stasi

  9. AR

    Thanks, another screed to keep in my just in case events conspire to dump such fun with facts’n’figures disappears down the Memory Hole.
    Beautifully laid out too, dense but cogent.

  10. Graham R

    One of the reasons I maintain a Crikey subscription is for articles like this. Dense with facts and memory, if reveals just how appalling are the MSM – especially the M.I.A. A.B.C.

    Have we ever heard an interview with an LNP pollie that told us what the national debt now is? That told us any of these facts? The MSM appears to exist in a frothy vacuum of froth, frothing and gibbering away about the fascinations of froth, saying nothing of import.

    1. klewso

      Like that ABC Sales pitch? Monday night the UNs Christiana Figueres, with her analysis of where we’re going and why : last night Sales’ indulgence of Joyce – staking us in this shit-hole of (donor) coal subsidies?
      …… If only he was Labor politician – then we’d get the third degree he’s owed?

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