‘It could have been a museum …’

‘… but rather we built a cricket oval’.

So now I’m watching Bill Shorten on Sky spruiking Jay Weatherill’s government. He literally said, rather build a sports stadium than a museum. Okay – different people value different things but that goes to the heart of the problem. The private sector should be building sports stadiums not the government.

Anyway, first question to Shorten was why should we believe Labor of unemployment when the two highest unemployment rates are in those states with Labor governments? Good question – bad answer. Shorten produced a stat along the lines that there has been a job lost every three minutes since Tony Abbott become prime minister. That is a great line, but not the answer to the question (a Type III error).

Unemployment - South Australia

So looking at the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures over this century it becomes clear that unemployment in those two states has tended to be above the national average. (The Tasmanian figures are anomalous in the period 2008 – 2009, I suspect that was due to small sample size estimation issues).

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19 Responses to ‘It could have been a museum …’

  1. gabrianga

    He really IS a bigger bore and bullshitter than Gillard and Rudd put together.

    Such a sad little fellow with all the appeal of a dead blowfly.

  2. Pyrmonter

    Two comments (which will sound like a defence of Labor, they’re not, but may go toward explaining the dominance Labor has enjoyed in both states over the past 15 years or so):

    (a) for the first period of the chart, until March 2002, when the SA unemployment rate tracked significantly above the national average, the state had a Liberal government (Olsen, then Kerin). The non-performance of the Brown/Olsen/Kerin governments in the matter of economic reform, and in particular the constitutional issues those governments faced (at no point did the government come close to have a majority in the Legislative Council, facing various parties of the established left (first Democrats, and an ALP that is well entrenched as the “natural party of government) and then the insurgent populists (Xenophon), goes a long way to explaining why market-oriented reform isn’t respected in SA. My deepest understanding is of the position in SA, but I understand that in Tas isn’t greatly different (albeit the arrangement of single-member constituencies and a large area proportional vote are reversed): bicameralism makes reform hard; deliberately so, but in ways that have undermined reform in both states in the direction of a very conservative statist status quo.

    (b) these are the two smallest states. I’ll venture the actions of their local governments can have, relatively speaking, least effect on the overall performance of the local economy and of the national economy. Hence, state government, to the extent their is any discretion, turns into parish pump bread and circuses: something SA Labor perfected as a model under Dunstan in the 1970s, and which was well exploited by his protege Rann in the decade just passed.

    A third thought does occur: in both states the conservative/Liberal forces have been racked by open factionalism between a “cultural values” conservatism that tends to be anti-union, but no more market-friendly than the left; and a sort of “soft social liberalism” that may be somewhat more market friendly – seeing markets as an extension of the social view – but which has little impetus for reform absent the backing of meaningful local professional, commercial and industrial support. It must, after all, be seen as something of an achievement for the SA Libs to have won a majority of the two party preferred vote, without obtaining a majority on the floor of the Assembly, on no less than 5 occasions in the past 10 elections.

  3. HK_Brother

    I agree gabrianga.

    The Australian Labor Party really has a way of disappointing people in the 21st century. We thought Rudd and Gillard were dodgy or incompetent. But they surprise us again when they elected (on their own accord) a leader (Shorten) who brings the bar to an incredibly new level of BS.

    Its not regular political BS you expect. Its the type of BS that presumes the audience or public is f**king stupid and that the Internet doesn’t exist. That’s how out of touch those people are.

    The more I think about it, the more I realise the greatest invention of man is the Internet. It is the anti-BS mechanism of humanity. Discussions and sharing of ideas is what gets lies outed and the public will judge harshly of dodgy people.

  4. entropy

    Its the type of BS that presumes the audience or public is f**king stupid and that the Internet doesn’t exist.

    to be fair, Ministerial offices from both sides of politics can be infested by this type. the advisers should never be allowed to aspire to greater things unless they go into the world for five years or so.

    And I don’t mean being parked in a temporary holding pattern in law firms like S&G, MB or B&B (or did they go under?) or any of the myriad think tanks established with government loot while the cronies are in power.

  5. Wozzup

    South Australia has the lowest performing economy of any mainland state in Australia. South Australia has a strongly entrenched habit of voting Labor. In fact it is often know as a “labor state”. Coincidence? I think not.

    In the years that labor has been in power in SA almost all economic measures have performed badly. Unemployment- higher, participation rate – lower, business formation – lower, productivity – lower, inbound private sector investment – lower, public sector size – higher, government taxes and service fees – higher, cost of living – higher, taxes on employment (payroll tax) higher, outbound population migration to other states – higher, highly distorting taxes that restrict economic activity (like stamp duty) – higher, levels of regulation and government intervention – higher. Every measure that indicates how well a state is likely to perform is back to front. And under Weatherill’s labor (Weatherill is a leftist’s lefty) it’s been even worse. This is partly due to Weatherill and his preference for government activity over private sector activity but its also partly to do with that fact that caucus and cabinet are dominated by the union controlled labor right.

    The present mob is hardly the “A” team – those who were experienced and had some claim to competence are long departed when Rann left. Now |SA has the likes of Minister Koutsantonis (the Minister for testosterone and fast cars) and Minister Chloe Fox (the Minister for buses running on time – which mostly they don’t). The others are not much better.

    Here’s the thing. Labor used to have some claim to representing workers when 50% of the workforce were in unions. Today its down to 13% of the private sector and perhaps 16-17% overall. The unions that have survived are more militant and more ideological. And guess who the Labor Party are beholden to. Exactly these unions – who call the shots when Labor is in power.

    These people do not represent ordinary Australians because they no longer understand who ordinary Australians are. The union machine is often made up of people who come straight from Uni and then time serve in a union till they can get their arse in a nice cushy labor safe seat.

    Little wonder they have no idea how to run a state economy – they have never run so much as a chook raffle. And talk about a “rust bucket” state. After Labor, SA can no longer even afford the bucket.

    Little wonder that every time Labor gets into power the Liberals are called upon a few years later to patch up the desolated economy after the years of Labor waste and abuse. But South Australians have a short attention span and an even shorter memory. Then inevitably its back to Labor once more for more destruction of the state’s assets and wealth.

    They say we get the politicians we deserve. This has never been so true than of SA.

  6. Pyrmonter

    @ Wozzup: what SA has is a tradition of returning Labor governments, not a tradition of voting Labor.

    In 1975, 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2010 various majorities of the overall electorate favoured the Liberals in some form or another, yet Labor formed government. It is as much Labor’s skill (and the Liberals’ ineptitude) at translating popular votes into seats that has driven this as the popular vote. There is a similar issue in the federal scene, where the Liberals do well overall, but accumulate enormous majorities in their own seats, leaving Labor with more seats won more efficiently with lower margins. Antony Green has a rather good diagram showing this: the Labor vote in SA was below the national average from 1977 to 2007, although Labor often did disproportionately well in terms of seats:


  7. Baldrick

    Dolly Shorten (14 October 2013):
    ”I will lead a party of big ideas, not slogans.”

    Dolly Shorten (16 February 2014):
    “There has been a job lost every three minutes since Tony Abbott become prime minister.”
    Dolly Shorten (13 February 2014):
    “One job has been lost every three minutes in Australia since the Prime Minister was elected.”

  8. Fisky

    In 1975, 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2010 various majorities of the overall electorate favoured the Liberals in some form or another, yet Labor formed government.

    Labor did not form government in 1997. The margin was just too big for them to steal the election and keep a straight face, so they waited until 2002.

  9. Squirrel

    Over the years, I’ve noticed that regulators in other jurisdictions are apt to cite SA as an example when seeking to justify the imposition of questionable rules and associated costs – there may be a message in that.

    As to Shorten, I too often get the feeling that he’s having trouble working out what he wants his public persona to be. As a union official, he seemed quite comfortable in his skin, but as a politician, still somewhat more of a work in progress.

  10. Pyrmonter

    @ Fisky – mea clupa re 1997.

    1997 did however see the elimination of the substantial majority won by Brown in 1993, and resulted in a government dependent on the support of “independents”, generally ex-Liberals, of varying qualities and levels of reliability.

  11. Pyrmonter

    @ Baldrick … yet they’re slogans that will bite with some of the biddable part of the electorate. Abbott’s team committed to no substantial IR reform in the face of what was always likely to be a good election to lose (so far as there ever is one): having made the bed, the government can’t really complain when Shorten says they have to lie in it.

  12. Wozzup

    ” @ Wozzup: what SA has is a tradition of returning Labor governments, not a tradition of voting Labor. ”

    That’s probably right Pyrmonter but it amounts to much the same thing in effect. SA seems incapable of learning the lesson that as long as they return Labor it means an under performing state economy.

    I should also take the opportunity to resile a little from my statement above casting aspirations on various members of Labor cabinet. I think I got carried away in my anger. While I do have some serious doubts about various members its unfair to comment on specific people who I suppose are doing their best within a faulty system.

    Which brings me to the real point – on the whole (and on reflection) the problem is more one of the Labor machine and Labor ideology than of any specific members of government. Increasingly in my view Labor, as a party, is unfit to govern.

    And the reason I have formed this conclusion is the reason shared by many old timers within Labor. Remember in 2013 when quite a large number of federal Labor backbenchers quit. And some of the, as they did so, pointed out that Labor has a number of exceedingly serious systemic problems that have led them to the decision to disassociate themselves from the party. The issue is that these insiders realized that Labor no longer serves the interest of the majority of Australians – or even tries to. Instead it sees itself as owned lock stock and barrel by a few influential unions. (And in effect this means by a few influential people within the labor movement). To the extent that it does serve the interest of some part of the population its limited to that small cadre of inner city leftists and academics who happen to agree with Labors ideology.

    The rest of us are just “p#ssing in the wind” if we think they will ever identify with ordinary aspirational Australians.

    The ideology referred to above has something like the following elements:

    -Western civilisation has no redeeming features but has a history of murder, conquest and repression.
    -It follows from the above that if you are white you are a racist. And if you are non-white you are a victim.
    -Diversity is an end in itself no matter what the consequences for society.

    It follows from the above that we should open the flood gates to allow as many of the 30 million refugees in the world (and the over 3 billion people living in poverty) as make it to the border in to the country no matter what the cost to society or the economy.
    – Government activity trumps private sector activity.
    It follows that taxes and regulation are paramount tools of economic intervention.
    -The environment trumps humanity.
    It follows that if this means people have to freeze in the dark, then so be it.
    -It also follows from the above that mining and industry are to be despised – except to the extent that they provide a means of employing more due paying unionists.
    – The only social issues worthy of discussion are indigenous issues, environmental issues, gender issues and gay issues.
    – It follows from the above that if you disagree you are racist, sexist, homophobic or a latent or actual raper of the earth.
    – Indigenous culture is wonderful and is at least superior to our own.
    – It follows from the above that problems with Aboriginal society, Aboriginal health and Aboriginal education have nothing to do with Aboriginal society or culture – whats needed is just more “other peoples money” to be thrown willy nilly at the problems.

  13. Ripper

    (The Tasmanian figures are anomalous in the period 2008 – 2009, I suspect that was due to small sample size estimation issues).

    Maybe , but a heap of Tasmanian refugees came to WA back then for work. One evening I conducted a survey in the local beer garden and 66% were refugees from Tassie.
    A lot have since gone home as the work has dried up since the mining tax and carbon taxes have destroyed exploration.
    One bloke even went home because Barney Rubble was re-elected.

  14. Andrew

    While we think of SA as a no-hope version of TAS, other the iron ore it seems competitive with WA for other resources. Olympic Dam* etc. We just seem to accept that it’s a drier Tassie with temporary car factories, but that’s giving the Criminal Party way too much credit. There is absolutely no excuse for unemployment rates worse than WA – people should refer to WA as “SA without the car factories” and feel sorry for it.

    *BTW can someone ask the Senior Labor Figure why the genius R-G-R and SA govts allowed the Olympic Dam expansion to be killed off? Must be 1-2 blue collar jobs went begging in that one.

  15. Bons

    SA is a one city electorate comprising a rump who understand that no matter what happens to their economy, their jobs are safe. Essential services, law firms, academics, rural services providers, health workers, insurance outfits and the odd traditional rural based ‘old money’ families.
    They all live well off Federal funds. The farmers and producers – not so well; they pay the country’s highest fees and charges to support people whose sole purpose is to impose themselves on otherwise productive enterprises. I have a number of rural volunteer fire service acquaintances ( everyone in rural SA joins the RFS at a young age) – they have all quit due to the imposition of ill-informed, threatening, bureaucrats upon their operations. Goal achieved – volunteers displaced by union members.
    Go to Adelaide and observe the extraordinary publically funded facilities, everything from the brick paved footpaths to the unsustainable entertainment and sports complexes. All funded with Federal funds.
    SA has never changes.
    As a kid at Uni (not from SA but attending AU) I was shocked by the elitist complacency of my fellow students. SA is driven by an inward looking arrogance that ignores reality.
    SA can only be reformed by pulling the federal funds and making these elitists understand reality. The rural sector will survive – the elitists – probably not.

  16. Driftforge

    Actually 2008-2009 was pretty good down here. The GFC hit everyone else far faster than it did us. One of those cases where being behind the times worked for us.

    Seems to generally be a 12-18 month delay for most national and international effects down here.

  17. Wozzup

    It seems somehow fitting that the word “mseum” should appear in the title of an article in which the state of South Australia’s economy is discussed. Somehow very fitting…………

    I despair of the complacency of this state. Made worse with time and a succession of lack lustre governments. We used to have a saying about the denzens of this state – they love progress, but only if nothing changes. If its not opposition to development based on heritage, its based on the environment, or based on “not in my back yard” considerations or based on…..well you get the picture. For years the state has been anti development.

    In the past decade that debate has not really arisen though, as apart from some public funded projects there has been precious little development to debate the merits of. And in the mean time Adelaidians and other South Australians grow older and more reliant on government services, and their kids and grandkids vote with their feet and move interstate in search of a career and a life.

    But government goes on. Only this morning Weatherill announced the Labor party’s policy platform for the upcoming election. Its about jobs, he tells us – then goes one to talk at length about the many exciting publicly initiated and funded “initiatives” (why is it that they are always called initiatives – even when they dont actually show any?) he proposes to make happen to create jobs. Not bad for a state that is already on the bones of its arse broke.

    It seems that when Mr Weatherill was at Uni studying hard to become a socialist and change the world, he mst have been sick on the day that the curriculum was devoted to discussing capitalism and the private sector. I think its existence somehow eludes him. Nary a mention of it. Which again somehow seems very fitting – given how relatively little there is of it in this state now. But I suppose thats what you expect when you have 12 years of Labor government.

  18. .

    So I’m paying GST so water pinching, sister shagging, serial killing and shark loving Sandgropers can have cobblestone footpaths?

  19. Combine Dave

    Excluding the private vs public debate….

    Should we be proud that our state funds sporting arenas rather than places of learning?

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