Labor leader Anthony Albanese (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

Ready, aim, shoot yourself in the foot Crikey has been pointing out, for a while, the hypocrisy of coverage of the Coalition’s (eminently affordable and entirely necessary) COVID-19 spending spree as compared to the vitriol and bluster that greeted Labor’s equally important response to the global financial crisis.

But it turns out, we shouldn’t have bothered, because according to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese a focus on debt and deficit is an entirely correct and sane way to assess government response to a financial and public health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in a century. First, a cheap gotcha on Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s unequivocal assertion in an interview on 7.30 that the budget *would* be back in surplus this year:

Yesterday, he once again argued the budget was being blown out under the Liberals, tweeting a graph of debt levels under Labor and Liberal governments.

And sure, there is an amazing double standard about what level of spending can be tolerated depending on the party that does it, but one would think that’s not a standard the apparently progressive major party should encourage.

Palmer on the borderline Clive Palmer’s attempt to get Western Autralia to reopen its borders got off to a decent start yesterday, with the state’s chief health officer conceding in the Federal Court that there was little public health justification for keeping the state closed to the Australian states and territories that had eliminated COVID-19.

Beyond his apparent personal enmity toward WA Premier Mark McGowan, Palmer has his eyes firmly set on next year’s state election.

However his case goes, though, Palmer’s populist judgement may have deserted him on this one. McGowan’s handling of the coronavirus has made him, by some distance, the most popular premier in the country. Just last Thursday, The West Australian reported on polling that put McGowan’s state Labor government at a crushing 66-34 lead over the Liberals, with McGowan’s personal approval at 86%.

WA is a population uniquely receptive to the idea of a closed border — remember, it’s a state that four times has been too conservative to implement daylight savings, but well and truly in favour of secession.

Foster the people University of New South Wales (UNSW) economics professor Gigi Foster has been getting plenty of attention as the academic voice of the “end the lockdown, sorry about your elderly relatives” movement, with appearances on Q&A, 60 Minutes and then Q&A again last night.

Less than two weeks ago UNSW announced it was cutting nearly 500 jobs, so the last thing its PR department needs is one of its employees going all General Turgidson on national TV. Unsurprisingly, it has been swift to distance itself from Foster’s comments.

That was then, this is now A few days before the 2010 election, then-opposition leader Tony Abbott told the National Press Club that, thanks to Labor’s mining tax, “we now rank behind Argentina, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia and Botswana as a safe place to invest in mining thanks to the actions of this government”.

Firstly, it might shock you to find out, that was wrong. Now, in a piece for today’s The Australian, he has a very different idea about why investment in Africa would be attractive:

In Africa, especially, Western companies are finding it hard to compete because they can’t manage local politics as readily as Chinese-led consortiums …

Chinese-run mines in Africa have poor safety records, low environmental standards and largely use imported Chinese labour (often prisoners) and even local child labour. They get away with this because they can bribe local officials and eliminate local troublemakers.

We hope no investors were foolish enough to follow Abbott’s mining investment tips.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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