George Megalogenis has an analysis in The Australian that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny.
New analysis of fiscal policy going back to the 1970s contains a shock for voters who generally rate the Coalition as the better economic manager.
In fact, Labor treasurers have been more frugal, with Paul Keating the only treasurer to cut government spending in real terms, when the economy was growing in the second half of the 1980s.
Mr Swan’s effort at holding the increase in real government spending to 1 per cent a year between 2010-11 and 2014-15 would be the second best on record, if the budget projections hold.
I suspect he did that analysis himself.
The figure below shows the growth in government spending back to the 1970s and is taken from the Budget papers.
The blue line is the one to watch (the red line using the non-farm GDP deflator isn’t used for policy purposes only for comparative purposes). It is hard to say that the ALP are more frugal than the Coalition over that period. But what George M has done is throw away a heap of data. It looks like he has only counted spending when the economy is growing by two percent or more. That distinction is very arbitrary. The notion that Wayne Swan is more frugal than Peter Costello is extraordinarily misleading. As Samuel J keeps pointing out (see here and here) the policy decisions of this government have been to increase spending not decrease spending.
Update I: George M replies in comments.
Update II: I have updated SamuelJ’s graph.