In the report, the OECD points out that substantial fiscal and monetary policy stimulus, along with efforts to repair the financial sector, has meant that Australia ‘avoided the worst of the global crisis’. The OECD also notes that in the current environment, the Government’s policies have provided a ‘very important cushion for economic activity in the downturn’.
While the OECD observes that the rate of contraction within the OECD region is moderating, following the deepest decline in activity in the post-war era, it also warns that the global economy still faces a very difficult period ahead.
Importantly, the OECD cautions that the negative economic and social consequences of the global recession will be long-lasting. It is because of this warning that the Rudd Government acted decisively to support jobs and invest in ‘nation-building’.
Compare, however, the measured, sensible policy approach of the Rudd Government to that of the current Liberal/National Opposition.
Time and time again, Mr Turnbull repeatedly dismissed the economic stimulus package as misdirected and a waste of taxpayers money.
Offering no real solution, the Opposition has only backed itself into a corner, hoping that the economic situation would worsen.
In hindsight, the ‘do nothing’, ‘wait and see’ approach of the conservatives would have been nothing short of a disaster for the Australian economy and Australian jobs.
Instead of a government that retreats from its responsibilities, Australians need a government that understands the complexity of the global economy and the need for a clear, rational response to the worst economic crisis for a generation.
The fear campaign waged by the Opposition about government debt denotes a lack of any genuine policy alternative. For this, the current lack of support for the Liberals, demonstrated in recent opinion polls, is no surprise.
Despite pointing out his so-called economic credentials, Malcolm Turnbull has failed to articulate anything that has commanded respect from mainstream economic commentators. If anything, the lack lustre Opposition has cemented itself as severely wanting on the issue of the economy and recent events have added to the widespread perception that Mr Turnbull lacks vision and judgement.
Although there are still major challenges ahead for the Australian economy - particularly the spectre of rising unemployment, the OECD report serves to demonstrate that the Rudd Government's actions are protecting Australia from the worst impacts of the current global recession.
Regardless of whether one likes him or not, Kevin Rudd has earned the respect of an ever growing number of Australians who believe that they made the right choice on 24 November 2007.
(Originally published June 2009)