SUBJECTS: MYEFO; UK Election Result
MARK BERETTA, HOST: The Treasurer is expected to downgrade expected wage growth in his mid-year budget update. It is tipped to be as low as 2.5 per cent.
MONIQUE WRIGHT, HOST: Now Labor says the shortfall from the Government’s wage forecast, compared with what workers have actually received, is more than $2,000 since 2014. For their take on this, we are joined with Labor MP, Joel Fitzgibbon, and Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce – they both join us now and good morning to you both. Joel, we’ll start with you. Moving forward, in a nutshell, what does this mean for the average worker?
JOEL FITZGIBBON, MEMBER FOR HUNTER: Good morning Team. Well, Scott Morrison has been promising Australian workers something better ever since he became Prime Minister. But, he hasn’t delivered. What the update will tell us today is, one, even the Government’s modest predictions on economic growth were heroic. Two, that wages remain stubbornly stagnant and all the economists were right when they warned Scott Morrison many months ago now that he needed to switch economic policy to give some stimulus into the economy. Having failed to do so, this is a very bad Christmas present for Australian workers.
WRIGHT: Joel, to be fair though, Treasury and the Reserve Bank have been consistently overestimating wages growth since 2011 when Wayne Swan was Treasurer.
FITZGIBBON: Well, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg might learn from past experiences. The fact is that the Government keeps overpromising…
WRIGHT: Yeah, but Labor consistently – sorry, Joel, to interrupt you – but Labor consistently got it wrong as well. Is there actually a problem with the way we are marking this if we are consistently overestimating it from both sides of the Government?
FITZGIBBON: I think you’ve got to be really careful about comparing what was happening in our economy throughout the course of the Global Financial Crisis and what is happening in our economy right now. What is happening right now is pretty simple; the Government is making its priority – what I call it – trophy budget surplus at a time when economists everywhere are telling the Government that economic policy needs to change to put some stimulus into the economy to give workers a hope of securing greater purchasing power this year and into the new year.
BERETTA: Barnaby, the Government has missed the target on wages growth something like 33 times, is there any point to this forecast at all?
BARNABY JOYCE, MEMBER FOR NEW ENGLAND: Ah yes, what you see from Labor is their overwhelming desire for another deficit; they just love them. Their last surplus was in 1989 when Jim Chalmers would have still been getting presents from Father Christmas, and what you just heard from Joel then is that they want to go back to Mr Rudd’s spending on such things like ceiling insulation, school halls, spending money on dead people; random cheques going out the door because they believe that that is the economic solution. What we have seen here is low inflation as well as low wage growth. I acknowledge one but we also have low inflation. We also have record – near record unemployment – low unemployment, near record employment – and of course what we have is an economy that can thank, basically, the coal miners and iron ore miners for driving it ahead. We have a predicted budget price of about $55 a tonne for iron ore and it’s currently ticking on at about $85 a tonne. Yet, what we had when Mr Albanese went to central Queensland, he said he wasn’t going to open another coal mine; he wasn’t going to build another coal fired power station. Now, I know that’s an issue that even Mr Fitzgibbon might challenge because they seem to have two different policies. What we do agree is this is the major export earner for our nation. What we have to do, and what we are doing, is bringing infrastructure spending forward so what you get from a stimulus package which is being provided is real and tangible outcomes that make the economy and Australia a stronger place into the future and it’s not just frittering money away for no real economic gain in the longer term.
WRIGHT: Ok, let’s move on and head overseas now. Boris Johnson remains the British Prime Minister after his party staged the biggest conservative victory since Margaret Thatcher in 1987. Barnaby, it was a huge majority. He will get Brexit done now, it’s still going to take years until everything is done around the outside, but he was elected strictly on Brexit really. Now does he have to front up on all of his other policies?
JOYCE: Well, what is shows is that if you think that the audience from Q and A in England is going to win you an election, if you make a small group of people very, very happy, you lose elections like the Labor Party lost in Australia, like the Democrats lost in the United States, and now like the Labour Party in England have lost to the Conservatives. You’ve got to understand that most people are concerned about their job; they’re not fascinated in things such as making power prices higher and they want to make sure that if a decision is made at a referendum to exit Brexit, that’s what the Government actually does. This is the biggest win for the Conservatives since 1935. And yes, Mr Johnson now has to fill the whole remit of Government which is not just Brexit but managing the whole economy. Mr Corbyn – it’s a reflection on the British Labour Party. Mr Corbyn was totally and utterly unelectable, yet they persisted with him and got smashed.
BERETTA: Joel, Boris says he will get Britain out of the EU by January 31st, that’s not that far away. Can he get it done you think?
FITZGIBBON: Well, technically he can and he will claim to have a strong mandate to do so, so I am sure he will go at that pretty hard and if he fails he will come very close. But, I think the parallels between the British election and the election here in May 18 are very eerie and the main message to take from it is, one, people want their political parties to stick pretty close to the centre. Two, elections in an uncertain world are very, very much about economic security and, you know, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t provide that reassurance and Boris Johnson was able to do so. He filled the vacuum left by Jeremy Corbyn. But interestingly, of course, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have won by targeting working class people who are, of course, concerned most about economic security. And Barnaby can’t have it both ways. He just told us the Australia economy is just wonderful but he’s not talking to local people because I don’t find anyone in my electorate who feel comfortable with the state of the economy or their household budget situation.
WRIGHT: All right Joel and Barnaby we are out of time…
JOYCE: They don’t feel comfortable about Labor’s position on coal mining I can assure that.
WRIGHT: Alright Barnaby, thank you very much Joel for your time this morning.
SUBJECTS: MYEFO; UK Election Result