Mar 1, 2018

While we obsess over scandal, what’s happening on policy?

While the governing class examines its own navel for scandal, what's happening on the most important policy issues?

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

With our political class, and much of the media, obsessed with scandals and personalities in Canberra, what's happening with the issues that affect real Australians outside the Canberra bubble, which aren't receiving substantial coverage because scandals are dominating the media cycle? We've gone through the biggest policy issues facing Australia to check what the government's doing and how much coverage it's received.

Employment: The big success story of the Turnbull government: massive jobs growth well ahead of anything seen in recent years, enough to drive unemployment down to 5.5% while participation remains in the healthy mid-65% range. Much of the growth is coming from state government health and education spending, which also means stronger jobs growth for women. The government has struggled to get its message across on this (as on everything else) but represents its best achievement.

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13 thoughts on “While we obsess over scandal, what’s happening on policy?

  1. Evil Garry

    While unemployment is at a fairly low level, UNDEREMPLOYMENT is probably at the highest level in my lifetime, which has the twin effect of keeping a lid on the headline unemployment rate, and wage increases.

  2. Steve777

    Malcolm Turnbull does lead a party as committed as he is to tackling climate change. He and his party are both committed to do nothing.

  3. Weary cynic

    Hello all, first time posting here at Crikey.
    Following on from the thrust of the article, another story ignored by virtually all the msm in Australia was the details of the PM’s visit to the USA. Apparently Turnbull, with a large delegation of corporate and financial leaders, went to discuss with the Trump administration a plan to use Australian pension funds to finance Trump’s infrastructure program.
    Other than the fact of this being an outrageously wrong-headed decision, especially considering the lack of infrastructure investment here in Australia, one has to wonder why this story, which directly affects the use of Australians pension funds, wasn’t reported extensively by Australian media.
    In whose interest was it served to keep this off the radar?

  4. gumshoe

    Crikey gets a good grip on a lot of news events, and I think a part of its success is its forensic activity in support of fact-checking. But I think Keane has dropped the ball with his constantly negative commentary on the Inland Rail proposal. Apart from it being championed (expectedly) by BJ, I’d like to know why Keane–apparently blind to both the intent and potential of this project–is so ‘down’ on it.

    1. JMNO

      The inland rail could be of immense benefit to Victoria and SA, especially if as well as transporting goods it provided a decent monorail service. The main problem is they are aiming for mediocrity as always with rail transport, slow as a wet week, rather than contemporary high speed rail.

      And I am not sure why Bernard is making NIMBY comments about tunnels, assuming he could be talking about the new Transurban tunnel in Melbourne. This tunnel will alienate a lot of inner city land that was earmarked for housing development, it will built vast new roads on top of roads, it will funnel lots more traffic into the CBD and it will not solve the transport problems of people who live to the west of the Yarra. There are alternatives put forward by transport planners which are much preferable to this tunnel but ignored by the State Government that didn’t consider any other proposals apart from Transurban’s.

  5. bushby jane

    Your commentary on Employment is misleading as I understand that while all these jobs that have supposedly been created must have been outnumbered by those wanting jobs, as the unemployment rate has actually gone up. Not to mention that a lot of these created jobs must be underwhelming, as voters are apparently underwhelmed. This may help explain the lack of Wages Growth.

  6. sheamcduff

    Claim [from Crikey]
    “The big success story of the Turnbull government: massive jobs growth well ahead of anything seen in recent years, enough to drive unemployment down to 5.5% while participation remains in the healthy mid-65% range. ”
    [ from Prof Bill Mitchell using ABS]
    *Hours worked – fell by 24.1 million hours (1.4 per cent))
    The decline in working hours is consistent with the sharp fall in full-time employment and the rising underemployment as a result of the renewed bias towards part-time work.
    This is now the second consecutive month that working hours have fallen in total.
    Again, a sign of a weakening labour market.
    *Un plus under employment 2013 …12%+
    Un plus under employment end 2017 …13+%
    *1.Total official unemployment in January 2018 was estimated to be 723.8 thousand.
    2. Unemployment would be 758.8 thousand if participation rate was at its November 2010 peak.
    3. The unemployment rate would now be 5.7 per cent rather than the official January 2018 estimate of 5.5 per cent.

    Whatever the change in un/under employment by the Turnbull govt has been there is no way it can be accurately described as ‘massive’.
    Perhaps ‘static’, ‘minimal’ or ‘weak’ would be better.

    1. CML

      Well said, Sheamcduff!
      Let’s see Bernard argue with the facts…or are we seeing another Aaron Patrick event? One in which you play the (wo)man, not the ball…as in Emma Alberici’s case.
      I am fed up with ALL journalists making excuses for Talcum Mal and his mob of drongos. They wouldn’t know anything about ‘real jobs’…even if someone explained it too them all in words of one syllable!!!

  7. Robert Pullan

    Of course Cash is routinely on fire–but when she goes over the top when she’s asked the name of her incoming chief of staff, don’t you think that, psychologically, there’s just a hint that there might be a real story underlying her freak-out?

    1. gumshoe

      Cash’s public persona and manner is not ‘normal’ human behaviour. There’s something burning inside that lady that is not producing any useful attributes. Her party machine has mistaken her conceited and overbearing manner for competence and aptitude. Abetz is the same but different. The imperiousness is excrutiating. She will self-destruct.

  8. klewso

    Funny(?), Turnbull’s public fixation with “Labor Malfeasance” (especially as he sees it) and is willing to move heaven, resources and the AFP to get to it’s bottom : but when it comes to what has happened by way of the corruption of the M-DBA it seems a case of “never set up an enquiry unless you know in advance what its findings will be”?

    1. klewso

      Because he knows the depth of profligate mud such an enquiry would dredge, and that he and his Coal-ition government – under the free-range term of that “Coalition Agreement” – won’t look good wearing it; that there’ll be electoral hell to pay?

  9. AR

    For all the bloodletting and forehead slapping about individual greed and trough wallowing, it seems to be a strategy – if such words mean anything to Talcum & his Turpitudes.
    Such media sound & fury signifying nothing whilst they get on with the real job, selling off our natural resources – including fresh air/blue sky above the shiitake tower blocks sprouting in North Sydney – whilst lining their pockets and ensuring sinecures post politics.
    Cynical? Moi?

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