02 April 2010

Abbott a risk to our future

For some time now, the Australian electorate has been able to observe Tony Abbott as a leader.

Compared to his predecessor, Mr Abbott has performed remarkably well in that he has re-established the Liberal voting base and improved the Coalition’s standing in some national polls.

Mr Abbott has also recently demonstrated that he has physical stamina — certainly more than most politicians.

However, Tony Abbott’s recent comments regarding the stimulus package is perhaps one of the most fundamental indicators that he is simply not the right person to lead this country.

To suggest that the fiscal stimulus ‘wasn't necessary’ is perhaps one of the most irresponsible and uninformed comments that an alternative Prime Minister could make.

Setting aside for one moment, Mr Abbott’s complete lack of judgement in choosing his initial finance spokesperson, Senator Joyce, his economic credentials must continue to be seriously questioned.

Not only does this statement fly in the face of conventional economic wisdom about dealing with downturns, it is a complete contradiction to detailed Treasury analysis.

It has been well accepted that the core reason why Australia was one of only two advanced economies that did not slide into a recession was due to the fiscal stimulus engineered by the Rudd Labor Government.

Treasury advice is clear. The Rudd Government’s policies saved approximately 200,000 jobs and protected Australia from the worst effects of the global downturn.

The Liberal’s then answer to the threat of recession was practically to do nothing.

That answer, which lacked a thorough appreciation of one of the worst economic downturns in 80 years, has been echoed by Tony Abbott.

Mr Abbott’s assertion that the New Zealand model of economic management is superior is somewhat puzzling.

What federal Treasurer Wayne Swan was quick to point out is that policies implemented in New Zealand didn't prevent that country from recording five consecutive quarters of negative economic growth! Hardly an inspiring example for Australia to follow.

What Mr Abbott has shown is a complete and utter misunderstanding of the current economic environment. He simply fails to appreciate the serious nature of the global financial crisis and how it has impacted across developed and developing economies.

Whilst he is commended for his physical stamina, to date, Mr Abbott is clearly lacking in ‘policy stamina’. Remember, that this is the same man that requested a policy debate with Mr Rudd on the issue of health and then failed to articulate any sensible policies.

Interestingly, long serving Liberal Treasurer, Peter Costello recently added his two cents to the ongoing assessment of Mr Abbott.

Effectively questioning Mr Abbott’s ability to manage the Australian economy, Mr Costello re-affirmed what many Australians are starting to realise. That is, Mr Abbott is a definite risk to the economy and with it, Australia’s future. In a time where the global economy is still weak, it is a risk that Australia cannot afford.

Rod Beisel is Secretary of the Annerley Branch and delegate to the Griffith FEC.

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