Wayne Swan didn’t actually say that – but I’ve saved you the trouble having to read his op-ed in the Fairfax Press. Taking one for the team.
Let’s deal with the cheating at cricket allegation first.
Then onto the more substantive allegations:
To understand that we have to put ourselves back in that summer of 1932-33. Australians were in the middle of the Great Depression, with the mass unemployment, homelessness, deprivation and betrayal of hope that it brought. Australians didn’t cause that depression and to a very great extent we were powerless to tackle it: because we lacked full economic sovereignty. At home, our adherence to the gold standard and low foreign exchange reserves made it impossible to increase public spending to raise demand. Even worse, austerity was strongly recommended to us from on high and from overseas – largely by English gentlemen, whose gentlemanly rules had little interest in the welfare of ordinary Australians. The result? Catastrophic unemployment, hardship and loss.
Well Australia was not powerless to tackle the Great Depression and the austerity measures adopted worked quite well. Australia also left the gold standard. We’ve seen these graphs before but I thought this would be a good time to repeat them. First unemployment during the Great Depression and then GDP per capita during the Great Depression.
I don’t want to under-value that the decade of the 1930s was tough – yet it looks to me that Australia adopted policies that lead to an immediate turn-around and a v-shaped recession (or depression if you prefer). Not the impression you’d get from the Swan piece.
Then there is this bit of fluff:
Today, Australia stands almost alone among the developed nations in having stayed out of recession during the most significant global economic downturn since that same Great Depression. This in no small part speaks to an enduring determination for our country never again to be at the whim of anyone who claims an inherent right to make the rules and break them at our expense.
So we’re going to be withdrawing from the IMF, World Bank, United Nations, Basel Accords, etc. etc.? No, I didn’t think so.