Abbott's economic feather knocks down Labor's record
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s Press Club speech attacked the very point Labor sees as its greatest strength — economic management — armed with little more than rhetoric and previously announced promises.
That he would try this tactic says everything about how weakened Labor has become.
In Abbott’s telling of the economic story of Labor’s first term the global financial crisis disappears, leaving only the crazy maladminstration of the pink batts saga and over-spending on school halls.
That he pretty much got away with it shows how effectively he has shaped perceptions and memory of recent political history.
In Abbott’s telling of the economic story of Labor’s first term the global financial crisis disappears, leaving only the crazy maladminstration of the insulation saga and over-spending on school halls.
And that of course makes it easier to explain the contrast between the Howard government’s admirable record of budget surpluses and Labor’s string of deficits as just another example of Labor ineptitude. He failed to mention these deficits were mostly caused by the drying up of government revenues and stimulus spending (that the Coalition at the time in large part agreed with) as economic crisis swept the world.
Perhaps an Abbott government would spend less and save more and bring the budget back to surplus more quickly than Labor, but there was no clear new evidence of how it would do that in the leader’s speech today.
His concession that disability insurance and dental care, and possibly also personal tax cuts, cannot be implemented until the budget is back in the black certainly bodes well in that regard.
His argument backing government rebates for school fees and against means-testing for child care fees and private health care (because he’s in favour of ‘‘aspiration’’) less so.
The fact that Abbott can claim superior economic credentials for his current team based on little more hard evidence than the Howard government’s economic record shows that the Gillard government has so paraded its own failings it can almost be knocked down with a feather.
Lenore Taylor is Sydney Morning Herald national affairs correspondent.
Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU