I am not an economist: Hockey

The oppositions treasury spokesperson said on Lateline on Wednesday night that he is “not an economist and I’m certainly not going to pretend to be one”.

For weeks the opposition, and especially Hockey, has been saying that the Pre-christmas stimulus package was a failure.

This is what Hockey said on PM on Wednesday:

Well today, Wayne Swan’s words have come back to haunt him. He said in January that there had been a surge in retail sales of socks and jocks as a result of the cash splash before Christmas. Mr Rudd and Mr Swan have to explain to those 1,850 workers, why spending $10-billion just before Christmas was money well spent when the clear evidence today is that the cash splash did not create jobs, in fact, Australian jobs have been lost.

The fact is the Australian Government has gone harder, larger and earlier than other governments and they would be hoping like hell that it’s a 100 metre sprint and not a marathon.

Glen Dyer in Crikey reports:

Australian business investment was much stronger than expected in the December quarter, but more signs are emerging that business is scaling back its capital spending plans as the resources boom exhausts itself and the general economic slowdown gathers pace.

So it seems that the stimulus package did work after all, the Australian economy is not in freefall like others around the world.

Maybe Turnbull should have put someone into the position who actually knows a little about economics and is not just a “formidable communicator”?

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92 Responses

  1. joni,

    I think you missed a ‘not an’ in the first sentence before the quote.

    Otherwise – good post.
    I thought this from the crikey link was interesting:

    The ABS said total new capital expenditure in the December quarter (in volume terms) rose 6.0% in seasonally adjusted estimate terms from the September quarter, with the estimate for buildings and structures up 11.5% and 1% for plant and machinery. (All seasonally adjusted).

    That’s much better than market estimates which ranged around a fall of up to 3% (2.7% for Goldman Sachs JBWere, for instance).

    In the fifth estimate for the current financial year, the ABS said spending could total $98,145m, 14.3% higher than estimate five for 2007-08.

  2. D55 – fixed.

  3. Is it pure coincidence that the acronym for Joe Hockey – the “Formidable Communicator” is FC?

    In much the same way as the licence plate on Howard’s government limo was “C number One”

  4. Is being an economist a necessary qualification for being shadow treasurer? What about the actual Treasurer of Australia – should he be an economist?

    By the way, even ‘our friend Possum’ conceded on another thread that it wouldn’t be known whether the Pre-Christmas stimulus package had worked as predicted until the figures for the first two quarters of this year are known. The fact is, no-one knows whether it worked or not – not Mr Hockey, and not Mr Swan .

  5. “Maybe Turnbull should have put someone into the position who actually knows a little about economics and is not just a “formidable communicator”?”

    Exactly. The Libs have well and truly screwed themselves. Credibility ZERO!

  6. Here’s a little information about the formal qualifications of some of our Treasurers.

    Wayne Swan – public administration
    Peter Costello – arts and law
    Ralph Willis – commerce
    John Kerin – economics
    Paul Keating – nil
    John Howard – law

    It would be reasonable to suggest that the only Treasurer that had a qualification in economics was John Kerin, hardly an outstanding example of a successful one. The basic qualification of a politician seems to have no relationship their success or otherwise.

    Studying accounting, law, or public administration is not economics.

  7. To put someone in the opposition who knows about economics…..like who. Even their great economic saviour Turdball is flapping in the breeze. He might have been better staying on as the shadow treasurer, and leave the party with no leader…after all who would notice.

  8. Dave55

    There was a bounce in December yes.

    That’s the problem with much reporting on business confidence, there’s a time lag that can mislead people into believing business investment and confidence is still strong. From the 10th of Feb:

    Business confidence plunges to record low
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,28124,25037033-36418,00.html
    BUSINESS confidence fell to a record low last month as the federal Government’s first stimulus package proved just a temporary boost to the economy.

    The National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey showed confidence sank 12 points in January to a new low of minus 32, more than reversing the 10-point gain in December.

    NAB said the latest survey was completed before Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the second stimulus package worth $42 billion and the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates by another 100 basis points.

    “Confidence may have improved a touch since then,” NAB said. But it added that there were “strong indicators” in the survey to point to further falls ahead, rather than a flattening out of the downward momentum.

    Business conditions slipped five points in January, halving December’s bounce, as forward orders and employment remained at recessionary levels.

  9. The point Tom is that Hockey says that he is not an economist to avoid answering questions and then goes on to make assumptions as if he is an economist.

    He is the one that brought up the fact he is not an economist, when on the oppositions front bench there is an economist.

  10. Oh – forgot to say that the economist on the opposition front bench is Andrew Robb.

  11. Joni

    “The point Tom is that Hockey says that he is not an economist to avoid answering questions and then goes on to make assumptions as if he is an economist.”

    That’s the scam in a nutshell Joni. Spot on.

    What happened to Joe’s challenge to support the merits of free-market fundamentalism? He’s out of his depth and he knows it.

  12. John

    With respect, those figures weren’t about confidence, they were about capital spending.

    Business confidence figures are misleading at any rate and probably shouldn’t be used as a foil (or even comparison) to capital spending unless the confidence indicators relate to business confidence in the longer term. If there is one thing that we should be doing at the moment it is investing in building and infrastructure capital to position us for when things improve.

  13. Dave55

    “If there is one thing that we should be doing at the moment it is investing in building and infrastructure capital to position us for when things improve.”

    That would be the job of government Dave – taxpayer funded of course Because businesses are as sure as hell cutting back in everyway possible. That’s a reality.

  14. As a matter of interest, one of the qualifications I hold is in economics. Admittedly, it is not particularly contemporary.

    But I wouldn’t presume to have a better understanding of the subject than anyone else.

    All politicians will make assumptions, statements, for example all pretend to understand the hardships of pensioners and others that are struggling, they all admit that they aren’t struggling personally. I’d suggest that this is a little of a cherry picking style of criticism.

  15. Perhaps the real point is that, as we have determined, neither parties are ‘economists’.

    Yet Labor are acting on the advice if economists, whereas the other mob are acting on their ideological beliefs, which do not have the backing of most economists.

  16. Tom

    “the other mob are acting on their ideological beliefs, which do not have the backing of most economists.”

    The Libs have lost contact in a major way.

  17. I personally do not care if Joe is an economist or not as I have no time for most economists as their predictions are based on historical results and we all know previous resuslts are not an indication of future performance.

    What I am concerned about is his comments and his historical support of WorkChoices and trying to convince us how good it was. He knew it was a dud, he also knew people would be destroyed by it and this is why the sudden implementation of protection for workers under $75,000 under the guise of the workplace ombudsman a number of months after the implementation. If he was honest he would have refused to support Work Choices and held to his beliefs rather than support its implementation at the time whitout ombudsman protection.

    Pacific Brands and their disgraceful actions is another example of the reason Work Choices had to go and the extreme situation workers would be in had it it existed now with the GFC as well.

  18. Tony

    I agree with you about the qualifications for treasurers (and indeed anyone commenting on anything) being irrelevant. Actual qualifications are not necessary for a person to make an informed comment on something; what is needed is for the person to be informed (and have sufficient understanding of how to interpret that information).

    For example – I have no formal qualifications in economics however I have read extensively on the subject to facilitate other studies which required an understanding of it. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, I do consider that I have sufficient understanding to make informed comments.

    The question that will be answered in the coming months is whether or not Hockey has sufficient understanding to make informed comments, particularly under questioning from the media. His concession that he isn’t an economist was unnecessary and not very politically astute IMO but not conclusive that he has no idea.

  19. joni at 10.14

    Good point.

  20. Ok, then as someone that is qualified in economics, I’ll say that I’m quite concerned about the size of the projected budget deficit. I also see not great economic problem with bringing forward tax rates that are already scheduled for introduction.

    But as I said above, my opinion (as someone with an economics qualification) is no better than that of anyone else.

  21. Tom of Melbourne, on February 27th, 2009 at 10:42 am Said:

    …I also see not great economic problem with bringing forward tax rates that are already scheduled for introduction.

    Except perhaps the overheads passed onto businesses attempting to implement this in the short term.

    And the evidence that tax cuts are more likely to be banked than handouts.

  22. John

    That would be the job of government Dave – taxpayer funded of course Because businesses are as sure as hell cutting back in everyway possible. That’s a reality.

    I can’t agree with that John, and in fact it is exactly that kind of mindset that results in Companies paying their execs large bonuses based on short term profits and share price improvements. There are many businesses that recognise they need structural improvements in the business over the medium term to improve profitability and expansion. Provided they have access to the cash to fund these capital improvements in the short term, it makes a lot of sense to keep existing staff on and carry through with the projects rather than lay off staff (with redundancies) only to have to re-employ them again when things pick up.

    Have a look at wheer those capital expenditures in the last Qtr were, or more pointedly, where they weren’t! Capital expenditure in plant increased much less than than in building and structures. This is indicative of long term rather than short term investment .

    And even if you are right and that is a reality, then the way in which companies are valued by shareholders need a major shake-up because if share prices only reflect short term profits, there is a good bet that the business isn’t sustainable in the long term.

  23. Tom R

    You are the only person other than me who I have heard raise this as a point – even Peter Martin, Quiggan and Gans have been quiet on this. Are we missing something because it makes sense to me?

  24. His concession that he isn’t an economist was unnecessary and not very politically astute IMO but not conclusive that he has no idea.

    I agree with you that it was probably not politically astute, Dave, and that was probably Joni’s point too – that Mr Hockey selectively used the ‘not an economist’ line to avoid answering a question.

    However, that would depend on the actual question, and whether it was one usually left to economists to take a guess at. Since there is no transcript at the Lateline link above, it’s hard for me to know. (Maybe someone will have a chance to watch the video and can let us know.)

  25. Tom R – “Except perhaps the overheads passed onto businesses attempting to implement this in the short term.”

    I don’t think the lead time on this is particularly demanding. Most businesses are reasonably well organised with their payroll systems these days.

    We’ve debated before the impact of the stimulus package, and whether the government is getting the best economic and jobs bang for its bucks ($42bn of them).

    I recall you suggesting that it was fair that the government moderate the bang, as the bigger bang suggestions I made required more state coordination etc.

    Which economist came up with the idea of home insulation? I suspect a politician came up with this one, and sanitised it with a tame economist.

    A stimulus package is about the mix of programs, and I’m not particularly impressed with the mix of the one we have.

  26. TomM

    We know you don’t like insulation, lets not go there

    You specifically mentioned tax cuts, which I raised issues to

    Your answer is of course business should be ready to adapt, which indicates that even you are aware that additional work is to be done on their behalf

    With the one off payments, there is no added overhead to small business (except perhaps, hopefully, in the processing of new orders)

    Dave55. lets hope that the government can attack this. They need to be on the offensive, and it appears that the libs are getting that ground. (At the expense of workers, mind you, but thats nothing new)

  27. I’m not particularly bothered in reality. The stimulus package is significantly about generating confidence. I was simply trying to illustrate that an academic economic qualification is hardly relevant to the management of the economy.

    Nonetheless I do think that some may legitimately argue that tax cuts create a greater sense of longer term disposable income, and therefore a longer term level of confidence. Such a contention is not entirely without legitimacy.

    Others may argue that a handout is ill directed, and the $billions could be used to better, direct effect.

    The most sensible would suggest that spending $billions more on installation of insulation is not an economic panacea.

    There will be intelligent, qualified people recommending each point of view, along with a lot of those that are qualified and unintelligent.

  28. Tom of Melbourne, on February 27th, 2009 at 11:30 am Said:

    There will be intelligent, qualified people recommending each point of view, along with a lot of those that are qualified and unintelligent.

    Yes, and as I said, the only ones listening to those who are intelligent, qualified people is the government. The opposition rejects advice from both the World bank and Treasury

  29. Tom of Melb,

    I used to work for a software house that develops software for payroll in Australia (and if you ask who I will tell you to mind your own business) and changing the income tax rates in the middle of the year is a very non-trivial issue. The cost to business would be very great – in IT costs, in manpower, in reconciliation – let alone the cost to the ATO to manage the mid-year change.

    Income tax changes occur at the start of a financial year for a very good reason.

  30. Tom R, do you think the World Bank recommends that we insulate homes at taxpayer expense?

    If we had a conservative government and they chose to initiate tax cuts, do you really think that treasury wouldn’t have endorsed the policy as appropriate and prudent?

    These organisations don’t operate in isolation from government and politics.

  31. It’s amazing, really, and Tony pointed it out last week. In a week where it’s been revealed that despite assurances months ago that the pay issue of serving soldiers in Afghanistan would be sorted it hasn’t, and the affected soldiers have been threatened by their superiors if they speak out, in a week where it has been revealed that union super funds have around a third of members’ funds invested in unlisted assets (notice how quickly that issue died down when it was revealed that it was the union funds rather than the retail funds that were at risk here), and in a week where a jocks manufacturer sacks a thousand odd workers despite the Federal Treasurer’s assurance that the Christmas bonus had worked in saving jobs and gave socks and jocks as an example, the best we can come up with is a campaign against Joe Hockey, for admitting, of all things, that he is not an economist. How many here swore they would hold the Rudd Government to the same level of scrutiny as the Howard Government. Well I’m seeing little evidence of that.

  32. These organisations don’t operate in isolation from government and politics.

    Was that a typo, Don’t you mean ‘in insulation from’ 🙂

    And I guess we will never know about treasury and tax cuts

    But the question remains, if the package is endorsed by everyone mentioned, why did the opposition refuse to back it, before even reading it?

  33. Ah yes James – attack us because we are not holding the government to account. I believe that if you look closely there are threads here that criticise the government as well as threads that do the same. Just that you do not take note of them (see internet policing thread for one).

    When the government is deserving of criticism then they will get criticised.

  34. Tom R – That’s politics, the Liberals will have to live with their political decision.

    Equally valid questions are – why did the government choose to provide so little opportunity for examination and consultation? and – Why does the government think that only they have all the ideas for an economic stimulus?

    Insulation – dumb policy.

  35. James

    I don’t care that Hockey is not an economist.

    How on earth can you state it is only union funds that are at risk and not retail funds. Please provide your evidence of this. Did I miss something while I was busy this week ?

  36. Shane – “only union funds that are at risk”

    ‘cos half the board are tools, and the other half are fools.

  37. Joni, I’ll grant you the internet policing. But come on mate, a thread on Hockey’s qualifications, as though that’s been an issue ever before? When he stuffs up, sure, go for it. But did you see my point about the super funds? As soon as I revealed that the massive risk lay in the industry super funds, the discussion shut up shop. Can you not see how multiple threads on one person in one week looks more like a campaign than a discussion?

  38. Shane, go to the “super rooted” thread and read through. Notice how the discussion closed down after I illustrated the various super funds’ exposure to unlisted assets.

  39. So if in Hockeys mind it goes like this
    Pacific sacks 1,850 workers = Gov did bad

    Doesn’t it follow that this means

    Woolworths will have another 7000 workers on its payroll by June = Gov did really, really good?

    http://business.smh.com.au/business/bucking-the-trend-woolies-takes-on-7000-more-staff-20090227-8jo1.html

  40. http://www.news.com.au/business/money/story/0,28323,25104230-14327,00.html

    Then look at this article and wonder if this guy is serious??

  41. Public Administration by training; Public Administration as occupation (Treasurer). Swan seems singularly well qualified.

  42. James

    The reason we have been “campaigning” against Joe is because he has been all over the media this week huffing and puffing… and because he is remembered as being the buy who tried to sell us WorkChoices.

  43. James,

    We will have to accept the fact that this is predominately a pro-Labor site. The few of us who would like to see a bit more balance will have to provide it ourselves. Joni and Reb have always published any guest-posts I have offered, and Tom has written one as well. You should do the same when you get the time.

    Until then, we should keep providing the counter-point in comments, using our most powerful weapons: facts and logic.

  44. I’ve written 2 or 3 threads. They’ve all been really well received.

    My sense it that I’ve persuaded everyone that has read them.

    (insert little smiley face indicating sarcasm)

  45. Tony

    I’d pull you up on the pro-Labor comment. I do not think that we are pro-Labor – more that it is a decidedly left-wing blog.

    And James – if you want to be a contributor, just let us know and we can set you up and then you can right write your own threads. We welcome more authors.

  46. “right” ? …brang?

    Heavens we don’t need more thread writers, we need some proof readers.

  47. In my defence…

    I doubt that my persistent calls to bring back public floggings would constitute a leftwing bias.

  48. Tom…. I was trying (and failing) to be amusing.

  49. reb

    That is just one of your perversions coming to the fore.

  50. I second that call Tom.

    We’ve already got poof writers, so all we need now is a couple of proof readers.

    (They’d have to be well-dressed though..)

    Successful applicants receive a compliementary pair of crushed velvet slippers..

  51. Joni – I get it now!! Apologies

    I’m obviously so thick and useless that I’ll start to use the blog name “Insulation of Melbourne”

  52. Tom

    But will you be pink?

  53. That’ll be fifty lashes of the mink whip for you young joni…

    Guards! Take him away…!

  54. I’d like to contribute, and I will when I have some time, thanks for the offer. However, I’d also still like to snipe, just as I am often sniped at, which is what I did here. I don’t particularly think I’m right wing, although I’m a fair way to the right of most here. There were a lot of hand on heart bloggers committed to holding the Rudd government to the same levels of scrutiny as they did with Howard’s, I’m simply calling BS on that. By the way, being a contrarian, I wouldn’t contribute much to a blog where I wouldn’t get a debate, I’d be bored.

  55. *predominantly*

    Joni,

    Pro-Labor; left-wing; whatever you want to call it, but it is definitely anti-Liberal Party.

  56. @James
    I really think you should follow Tony’s advice and submit a guest post. I don’t think this is necessarily a “pro-Labour” blow so much as a “left-leaning” one.

    You will note that Labour is still pulled up on legislation & policies they put forward that lean a little too far (for this blog) to the Right. For example, the Internet censorship has been roundly thrashed here.

    If we’re honest about it, Blogocracy was left-leaning as well…. just not as far to the left as it was (a) a commercially sponsored blog (i.e. there was editorial concerns) and (b) there were more right-leaning readers/commenters.

    I just get annoyed when pro-Liberal/Right & pro-Labour/Left posts are made that are off topic because someone doesn’t like the way their “side” is going (the SAS bungle has nothing to do with Hockey &/or his qualifications as an economist). Personally, I’d love an informed guest post (and the subsequent discussion) RE: the SAS pay bungle because I cannot get a clear view of the subject atm (for example, when did the pay issues start?).

  57. James

    I would also like to read some posts from you, as your comments are generally quite good.

    I realise that writing new posts is quite different from replying, but your replies indicate a potential for this, and you definitely have the nouse.

    A thread on the Industry ministers (?) inane comments about no ones jobs being safe is a prime example

  58. @Tony

    Pro-Labor; left-wing; whatever you want to call it, but it is definitely anti-Liberal Party.

    I disagree. It’s this kind of generalisation that brings about the “If you are against the US President’s policies, you are against America” claptrap that was prevalent during the leadup to the (second) Gulf War.

    I remember that Malcolm Turnbull was getting praise for some of the positions he held as Environment Minister against the “prime directive” set down by Howard. We all (both right & left) questioned Malcolm’s motives, but the polices he put forth were praised around these here parts.

    There is a big difference between being “anti-Liberal” and “pro-Left”. Mixing the two is an exercise in misrepresenting our position in order to attack our credibility where we oppose a Liberal policy.

  59. Joni and Reb have always published any guest-posts I have offered~Me

    Actually, that’s not entirely true. I did suggest one the other day, entitled “Is Kevin Rudd a Toxic Bore?”, but strangely it never saw the light of day.

    😉

  60. Tony,

    I did get your email suggesting a post on the topic “Is Kevin Rudd a Toxic Bore”

    I’m sorry for not replying, but I work fulltime and don;t have time to write up a topic just because it has been suggested..

    On the other hand, if you would like to write the actual topic up yourself (as opposed to just suggesting it) I’ll be only too happy to post it.

  61. And anyway – I think we mostly all agree that Rudd is a bore, whether he is toxic is another issue. But is the fact he is a bore against him being a good politician?

    One thing you could say for Wilson Tuckey is that he is never boring….but toxic?

  62. It’s OK Reb. It wasn’t worthy of writing-up, but may have been an amusing – to me, anyway – one-liner type post (which you guys throw up as conversation starters all the time). I had actually hyperlinked the article in question. I’m guessing, however, that if Julia Gillard had said that about, say, Malcolm Turnbull, there would have been a post up in seconds.

  63. speaking of the toxic bore comment last night, did any of you see Q and A last night.

    I usually don’t watch it but the Aussie Miss Universe (or was that world – I wasn’t reading the text because I was otherwise distracted) Contestant was quite good; she had some sensible things to say as well 😉

    Pyne was his usual smart-arse self but the person who impressed me most was Bill Shorten. I must have been persuaded by Tom of Melb’s comments and the Lib Ads because I really did think he just got into Parliament because of his Union links and didn’t have much to offer. While he probably did get in because of his Union Links, he is obviously very intelligent and, based on what I saw last night, IMO a good person for Australia to have in parliament. If the unions are producing leaders like him, I’m going to have to be a little more critical of Tom’s posts.

  64. dave,

    Apparently Shorten is Parliamentary Secretary to Joel Fitzgibbon, the Defence Minister. I think Mr Rudd may have got their roles the wrong way round.

  65. …(deep breath).

    Dave, there is nothing wrong with union officials entering parliament per se.

    Shorten is obviously very talented, he is a lawyer and holds an MBA.

    Individually some are fine. It is simply that they monopolise the preselections for safe or winnable seats for the ALP. So many talented, committed ALP people outside the union structure don’t have an opportunity.

    I think it might have been Barry Jones that made an observation a few years age, along the lines of – union officials have won pre selection for 21(?) out 25 seats in during recent years.

    The span of experience entering state and federal parliament is very limited as a result

  66. Tony, on February 27th, 2009 at 1:45 pm Said:

    Joni and Reb have always published any guest-posts I have offered~Me

    Actually, that’s not entirely true. I did suggest one the other day, entitled “Is Kevin Rudd a Toxic Bore?”, but strangely it never saw the light of day.”

    Come on guys, you’ll end up being accused of censorship. Bring it on Tony.

  67. Tom,

    Fair point and I agree about the system hurting the talented members of the Party who have worked their way up the Branch. Although to be fair, if the best the Branch can put forward is someone like Belinda Neal than I’m all for branch stacking to put people like Combet and Shorten into parliament. (and yes I do know that you referred to safe seats and that Robertson is not safe but it’s not as if safe seats have a monopoly on the talent within the party either)

  68. This is for you James, Tony and Neil if you’re reading.

    We are the leftoids of the Blogocrat society,
    non-believers of sobriety
    poofo & leso unite
    to chardonnay swill with delight
    while debating free-market magic
    into the wee hours of the night
    for all whose lives are powerless and tragic
    We will never surrender the good fight

  69. Thanks RN,

    I can’t speak for my fellow rightoids, but I am moved to beers.

  70. That was very touching RN.

    Is the bar open yet..?

  71. If anyone is toxic it’s our ‘Monk in waiting’.

    Abbot is like Hydrofluoric acid…extremely corrosive and dangerous to handle.

    N’

  72. Hmm…the above comment should be elsewhere. I’m thread shifting again…watching too much LOST obviously.

    N’

  73. Dave, the issue isn’t simply that the union controlled process allows officials to monopolise preselection. It is also that many talented political and social activists see unions as the only way to develop a political career.

    If you look at the bios of many ALP figures, you’ll see that there has been a fair stint in the unions. This is fine, but there should be a few alternative pathways for them.

    Activists in environmental, social welfare, consumer advocacy groups no longer get a look in. Academics, activist lawyers and even some business people used to have a run. If these types want a political career, they’ll need union support, and usually a union background. It denudes worthwhile groups of committed talented people.

    I think it is unhealthy.

  74. TomM

    What role did Rudd hold in a union?

  75. So, no whinging about the number of lawyers, farmers and business owners in the coalition? Just asking……

  76. Tom of Melb has a fair point here. I don’t know a lot about the preselection process for any party but what he says makes sense to me seeing who actually gets preselected.

    One thing I will say is that I have very little respect for most environmental activists so if they get shut out, I’m not so miffed. At least the union movement has produced people like Hawke, Combet and Shorten (but I’m on a hiding to nothing saying this so I’ll shut up now).

    Bring back the Dems I say.

  77. I’m with you on the Democrats Dave.

    A bit of a rabble, but their ethics were always good, and that’s the political orientation that I prefer.

    I’m personally very disappointed that they aren’t around now.

    I’m not fond of the Greens.

  78. Can someone please enlighten me? What are these ‘union super funds’ of which people speak?

    I know there are a lot of funds with boards of trustees comprising equal numbers of nominees of unions and employer associations. Clearly they are not ‘union super funds’; the expression was coined by Liberal politicians back in the 1980s trying to scare voters with bedtime stories. According to them, union officials were to be controlling all our big companies by now and introducing socialism via the back door.

    Since this was self-evidently pure nonsense, can someone name a few of these ‘union super funds’ and explain why they deserve that label?

  79. BTW I have accounts in two super funds: one is an industry fund and the other is a private for-profit AMP fund. I’ve chosen balanced portfolios in both funds.

    The AMP fund dropped more than 30% last year, the industry fund 10%. The industry fund’s cumulative return over the last 10 years leaves the AMP for dead. So even if Kohler’s predictions come true (his record is less than stellar, as he himself cheerfully admits) the industry fund has a long way to fall before it matches its private sector counterpart.

  80. Clearly they are not ‘union super funds’; the expression was coined by Liberal politicians back in the 1980s trying to scare voters with bedtime stories. According to them, union officials were to be controlling all our big companies by now and introducing socialism via the back door

    Ken, you’d be referring to the likes of union-hater and low pay advocate, John Leard, by any chance?

    I’ve just sped read a book he wrote – actually it’s a compendium of his speeches and writings from the 1980s – called Australia: The Worst is Yet to Come. A more paranoid, right wing extreme torrent of hatred I’ve yet to read in any Australian literature.

    He said he wasn’t New Right or a supporter of any political party – he denied labels altogether. But he is obviously hard right, and his policies (for want of a better word) are the fantasies of the likes of Howard and Costello. A hard-right Liberal, in other words, if that makes any sense …

  81. I only remember Leard vaguely Caney. No, I was referring to much more mainstream parties. Alston and Howard were the most vocal amongst the Libs, supported (or led) by organisations like the then Confederation of Australian Industry (now ACCI). They mounted a campaign that was remarkable for its outright dishonesty, seldom matched until the 2007 ads featuring union thugs running rampant over small business.

  82. Howard’s mob passed off as ‘reforms’ a number of measures that were pure spite: evening up the score from ancient fights that he and his hangers-on had lost in the 1970s and 80s. Voluntary student unionism was one; mandatory choice of super funds was another (the market fundies confidently but erroneously predicted that the awesome power of private sector competition would sweep the industry funds away in short order); abolition of ATSIC; de-recognition of numerous lobby groups; and of course the endless campaign against the trade unions.

    Hardly any of these measures were supported by solid public policy considerations. They were just to get square from the long years when Howard and company were on the losing end of fights with Labor.

    One of the things for which I give Rudd’s mob credit is that they have shown little inclination to go down this path of reviving old vendettas … even when IMHO they should (e.g. Haneef, children overboard, SIEV X).

  83. “One of the things for which I give Rudd’s mob credit is that they have shown little inclination to go down this path of reviving old vendettas … even when IMHO they should (e.g. Haneef, children overboard, SIEV X).”

    I agree on both counts Ken. Valid points above.
    N’

  84. Of extra interest to me Ken is student unionism. Interestingly Barnaby supports it’s reinstatement due to the degradation of services to struggling students especially in regional areas. Note, it may not be ‘especially’ however Barnaby believes so. Subsidised meals is one of many items that have had to be deleted.

  85. And I second that N’. However I do think that Rudd might have these on the agenda, but is following his usual careful considered way of gradual introducing reform compared with frightening the horses.

  86. “Interestingly Barnaby supports it’s reinstatement due to the degradation of services to struggling students especially in regional areas.”

    Wouldn’t be a QLD election coming up now would there?

    Gotta love the SOFTER more UNDERSTANDING approach of the normally mean, tight-arsed, flow money upwards & onto big rural property type Nats these days. As they prepare to cut the crap out of public service jobs…I can see that axe falling on urban schools big time…to pay for these Springborg promises/policies.

    Didn’t ya know they listen to pop & dance music these days on I-pods…they’re so hip.

    I wonder if Springborg has started drinking? Must be hard not to have a beer w/ the ockers at the pub who can’t wait to give it to that woman Anna Bligh…permanently.

    I feel a shadow…in the heart of Ruddland. That could lead to a domino effect and undermine REAL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER.

    The eyes give it away. Look deeper QLDers.

    Remember that previous QLD premier Jo helped fck over a Federal Labor govt. before.

    N’

  87. N’..standing up for Barnaby (choke, choke) he has always been against the abolition of student unionism realising that without these fees that the quality of uni life would deteriorate especially for those students who are from less well to do families. Examples apart from subsidised meals are child minding, cut price haircuts, dental and second hand book shops.

    As Ken states: Howard’s mob passed off as ‘reforms’ a number of measures that were pure spite: evening up the score from ancient fights that he and his hangers-on had lost in the 1970s and 80s…

    It is my firm belief that Howard considered student unions breeding grounds for leftist radicalism.

  88. I got the distinct impression that if these services (student unions) had simply called themselves ANYTHING but a union, howie wouldn’t have had a real problem with them.

    Perhaps ‘Voluntary Student Business Participants’ or some such would have pacified him.

  89. “he has always been against the abolition of student unionism realising that without these fees that the quality of uni life would deteriorate especially for those students who are from less well to do families”

    Does that extend to the students from “eco-Nazi” aka “Green Party” supporting families?

    It’s much easier to play the ‘maverick’ when you’ve got Steve Fielding backing up the Howard govt. And the polls pointing to “the winds of change” pre-election. We saw the mongrel in the McCain “maverick” come to the fore when the chips were down.

    Put me down as a cynic when it comes to Barnaby & his motives.

    N’

  90. N’..duly noted..you don’t like Barnaby.

    One thing that always struck (striked??) me was that if any student had an ideological problem with leftist unionist activities such as cheap haircuts and the book exchange and subsidised meals then there was no obligation to use these facilities. One could always go to Maccas.

  91. “you don’t like Barnaby.”

    More like I’m suspicious of some of his political motives. He might be a nice guy for all I know. I have no probs w/ him expressing the concern of his constituents and respect the fact he generally supports small business.

    As for this:

    Joyce would back student union fees

    NATIONALS Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has vowed not to cross the floor on the controversial reintroduction of student union-style fees..
    (Wed Feb 2009)

    I reckon it’s a positive. But that doesn’t mean I’m going shower him w/ flowers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met & known plenty of Nat voters over the years…my wife’s entire family generally vote that way…on the whole a generally kind, practical, down-to-earth lot.

    But every once in awhile that mean-spirited, parochial, xenophobic, anti-higher education chip on the shoulder comes out that has been exploited by the Howard team, One Nationalists, Nats and the like…time & time again…to ensure they vote occasionally against their own interests and those of their family…& leads to great suffering & social humiliation for some homosexuals, Aborigines, certain migrants, and those who think outside of the conservative BOX.

    Certainly Joyce has proven himself to be somewhat “independent” thinking…but I guess the Jo years have coloured my view of the Nats…& TRUST is something hard to gain if you belong to a political party that consistently supported the SerfChoices & Iraq war policies of the Howard team. Party affiliation can be problematic sometimes if you want to be a true “independent”.

    And yes, “big tent” aspect is taken into account…but how big was the AWB? Big enuff to feed Saddam money that may have become weapons it seems.

    Still, I hope Joyce proves me wrong over time…I’ve an open mind. Once the “seeking suspicious-character” shades come off…& the smell of pollies sweating & kowtowing to top-end-of-towners begins to dissipate.

    “One could always go to Maccas.”

    One could always pack a lunch.

    🙂

    Point taken.
    N’

  92. Been thinking about this Hockey thread and have come to this conclusion; Hockey isn’t an economist but he is a w@nker.

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