Senator Pauline Hanson (Image: Pauline Hanson's Please Explain/Facebook)

Surging inflation has given Labor the chance to turn economic management to its own purposes in the campaign, as cost-of-living and coming interest rate rises (“rate rise looms”, to use the journalistic parlance) dominated the day after the shock March quarter CPI rise.

The golden rule of progressive campaigns on the economy (which we’ve named the “Fingerhut Rule” after longtime US Democrat pollster Vic Fingerhut) is that progressive parties do well when they make the economic debate about who manages the economy best for working people, not just who manages it best.

The inflation result has shifted the campaign economic debate on to the cost of living and impacts on working families facing higher prices for basics and rising mortgage costs — right where Labor would prefer it to be.

Labor’s Jim Chalmers led the way this morning, the opposition Treasury spokesman using a childcare announcement to take aim at the government’s economic legacy: “Skyrocketing cost of living, falling real wages, interest rates rising and $1 trillion in public debt.”

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(Crikey is old enough to remember the financial crisis, when opposition Treasury spokesmen Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey argued that Commonwealth borrowing to fund stimulus measures would “crowd out” private investment by lifting interest rates. Nearly a trillion dollars in debt later, it seems that argument has been crowded out of the debate, and not before time, given it was always horseshit, as a decade of falling interest rates and government bond yields demonstrated.)

Scott Morrison, forced on to the defence on an issue he’d been hoping might at least split in his favour, found himself denying that he took credit when the economy went well and blamed external forces when it didn’t — he fielded that question on Sky News, of all places — while insisting indeed that external forces were to blame, that things were much worse overseas, and indeed that things were much worse when John Howard suffered an interest rate rise during 2007 election.

(Morrison is right to reject the Howard comparison: Howard, despite throwing money at anything that moved in an unsuccessful attempt to buy the 2007 election, was at least running a budget surplus at a time of high inflation, whereas Morrison is tipping $80 billion in deficit spending into a tight labour market.)

On that theme, in Cairns for some particularly high-quality pork-barrelling ($24 million wasted on something called a “marine precinct” in Warren “I was born marginal!” Entsch’s seat, which comes on top of $60 million just a month ago) the prime minister continued promising jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs for everyone, a line somewhat at odds with the reality that the labour market is already tight as a drum and states like NSW are delaying spending because it can’t find enough workers.

By May 21, Morrison might be the first prime minister to promise a negative unemployment rate — although presumably that still won’t be enough to shift wages growth.

Speaking of marginal MPs, Pauline Hanson has thrilled the psephologists by threatening to preference against the Coalition in key marginal seats after the Tasmanian Liberals did a “dirty deal with the devil” (erm… OK) and preferenced the Jacqui Lambie Experience (I think that’s its name) ahead of One Nation. Guardian Australia reports One Nation will preference against Trent “Don’t Go To (North) Sydney” Zimmerman in his battle royale with North Shore teal independent Kylea Tink.

(I happen to live in North Sydney, and can advise that 1) Tink posters significantly outnumber Zimmerman corflutes; 2) of the six or seven likely One Nation voters in the electorate — a Hanson candidate didn’t stand in 2019 — the main problem will be getting them out of the Artarmon TAB on a Saturday; and 3) the local by-law requiring Arthur Chesterfield-Evans to stand in all North Sydney elections has now been repealed.)

The Greens, meanwhile, have demonstrated there’s at least one party taking the climate emergency seriously, unveiling a policy to end coal-fired power by 2030 and ban coal exports by then, ending new fossil fuel projects, and guaranteeing jobs for workers affected by decarbonisation.

Oddly enough, the Greens’ plan is the closest we’ve seen from a prominent party to the plan put forward by the international lobby group for fossil fuels, the International Energy Agency, to reach genuine net zero (i.e. nothing like Morrison’s farcical “net zero by magic” policy) by 2050, which includes phasing out unabated coal emissions in developed countries by 2030.

It’s a demonstration of the extraordinary extent of state capture in Australia that the major parties being profoundly outside the global consensus on the need for urgent climate action attracts little if any media scrutiny. Though, of course, much of the media is itself an arm of the fossil fuel industry, so don’t expect to hear much about the Greens’ plan.