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ABC embedded in existing growth oriented economic paradigm

A recent interview of the Prime Minister by Leigh Sales in the 7.30 Report on Tuesday 29 January 2019 provided a good illustration of the lack of understanding of economics by ABC journos or their deliberate and calculated rejection of some simple truths. John Coulter has written to Leigh Sales as follows.

Dear Leigh,

Last evening in your interview with the Prime Minister you raised the issue of government debt. You suggested to Morrison that he was not really such a good economic manager because government 'debt' had increased on his watch and you allowed the PM to go on and claim that he had to pay back the debt that Labor had created. This part of the interview was initiated by you and predicated on the undesirability of government debt.

What you should have asked Morrison, 'to whom is government debt owed' for it is actually owed to itself and is not a matter of concern as long as certain conditions are met. You may then have gone on and asked whether 'if the government does achieve a surplus is this not likely to lead to an economic downturn?' A government surplus means that the government is taking more from the economy and there is less for private investment.

Nearly all the ABC interviewers are firmly embedded in the existing economic paradigm which regards endless growth of GDP as both desirable and necessary whereas it is one of the fundamental drivers of our environmental degradation and not actually leading to improvements in human welfare.

With best wishes,
John Coulter, former leader, Australian Democrats

Transcript of the actual interview

Economic experts have warned the Government faces a challenge in meeting its new jobs target if it restricts migration, and even if it does deliver on its pledge, Australians may not be the ones to benefit.

It follows a similar pledge by Tony Abbott prior to the 2013 election to create 1 million jobs by 2018.

Peter McDonald, Emeritus Professor of Demography at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, said it was an “achievable” target and that a recent projection of labour market demand by Victoria University had already earmarked a similar level of demand.

But he also noted migration was the largest contributor to the growth in employment numbers in Australia since 2013, ahead of the growing trend for older Australians to stay in work.

The permanent migration program was reduced from around 190,000 to just above 160,000 in the past two years.

Mr Morrison revealed last year it’s likely the intake would remain at this new, lower level.

Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said his firm forecasted that, at this stage, jobs growth would fall short of the Government’s 2023 target.

“You get, basically, growth in jobs pretty much anyway — over time, there are more Australians, that typically means more jobs, but it does get more complicated than that,” Mr Richardson said.

“An ageing population means more people are retiring, that makes it harder.

“The migration debate — if it means winding back the number of migrants — that also makes it harder.”

The Department of Jobs’ Employment Outlook, released last year, projects employment to increase by 886,100 over the five years to May 2023.

Mr Richardson said the ratio of new skilled adult migrants to jobs growth was “pretty much one to one”, despite community concerns over migration fuelled by “barbecue logic”.

“People think, ‘well if migrants arrive, surely they’re taking jobs and if other things are equal, that means less jobs for everyone else’,” he said.

“If somebody puts up a hand to take a job — a migrant, a married woman, a Martian — they get the job, they earn the income, spend the income, then create the next job.”

Professor McDonald said if the Government restricted permanent migration, the employees needed by Australian businesses would not come from the ranks of the local unemployed.

“If labour demand is strong, and permanent migration is not filling the demand, then it will come from temporary migration or New Zealanders,” he said.

A reduction in immigration, he argues, would not necessarily lead to more jobs for Australians.

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