Yesterday John Adams self-nominated a challenge for the PMs position. In doing so, John set out a long list of “failure” that he slated home to current PM Malcolm Turnbull. To my mind many of these “failures” were either state matters, or pre-existing problems, or not government problems, while others were positive benefits (I mean who knew that high property prices are a problem?).
Anyway, I digress.
So what would an Adams government do about:
- The highest level of household debt in our history (both absolute and relative to disposable income)?
- The highest level of foreign debt in our history?
- The lowest level of household savings since the GFC?
- The biggest financial bubble in our lifetime?
- The highest real estate prices in our history?
- The highest electricity prices in our history?
- The highest level of Commonwealth debt?
- The highest level of drug crime and drug abuse in our history?
- The highest levels of net overseas migration and has therefore directly contributed to the worst traffic congestion in our capital cities?
- The most public money on consultants?
- The lowest international education attainment rates in over 20 years?
- The most obese and unhealthiest Australian population ever?
First point – household debt is not necessarily a problem. Yes it is high relative to income, but it is not high relative to wealth. In any event, household debt tends to be private debt and has few, if any, public policy concerns. Australia is a net importer of capital and as such will always have high levels of foreign debt. This in, on balance, a good thing. Less foreign debt would mean that we are capital constrained. It also is a good reason why sabotaging the banks is such a bad idea – every single member of the Coalition who voted for the Royal Commission should be purged from public office.
It is not clear to me that we are in a financial bubble or that high real estate prices are a problem. But in any event, I suspect that interest rates are too low that an increase in interest rates would simultaneously address both those issues assuming they might be a problem (but I don’t think so). it may also lead to an increase in household savings – why bother save when interest rates are so low and the government intends to steal your Super anyway?
Commonwealth debt is a problem and government spending must be cut and debt reduced.
The high electricity prices are a problem and I would recommend withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and ending subsidies to renewables. I might write about the need (or otherwise) of a government owned power plant generation system ala the Monash ginger group in the next few days if I have time.
Crime and drug abuse are state government problems as is education. In any event I would abolish the federal department of education, and health too, as a budget saving. I am unconcerned about high levels of immigration given that Australia is very highly skewed towards skilled migration. I am not convinced that the population is unhealthy or that obesity is a federal government problem and even if it was I’m not convinced the government can or should do anything about it.
So where does that leave us? Electricity prices and Commonwealth debt. As far as I can work out the Turnbull government is working on both those issues – not pursuing my first choice policies to be sure, but doing something. So then what is the basis for a challenge?