Political heresy at Fairfax?

John Styles writes

There appears to have been an outbreak of political heresy at Fairfax.

On Wednesday, Peter Hartcher, the Sydney Morning Herald’s political editor, confirmed what the Opposition has been saying and the Rudd Government has been denying: the continuing roll-out of economic stimulus measures is more about the politics of re-election than responsible economic policy.

Commenting on economic data released that day, Hartcher told Sky News, “The Government is stuck with an outdated fiscal policy that it put in place for a giant crisis that did not materialise and doesn’t want to unwind that policy because much of its electoral plan for getting re-elected depends on that fiscal stimulus—the school projects, the council projects—being rolled out over the next year and year or two, and they’re not interested in scaling back. Even though the underlying economic reality has changed the Government doesn’t want to change.”

Peter Hartcher’s candor contrasted with the comments of Sky News’ Kieran Gilbert and Hartcher’s co-panellist Michelle Grattan of the Age.

Gilbert argued Labor’s position by playing up the Rudd Government’s line about the uncertainty of the current economic situation.

Age political editor Michelle Grattan acknowledged that the Opposition had “reasonable grounds” to argue that a very large deficit loomed, that revenue had not taken the “giant wrecking ball hit” that Treasurer Wayne Swan kept saying it would, and that the deficit is the result of Labor’s spending and that it will push up interest rates.

However, she added, “I think they will continue this argument, but, from the point of view of converting the public, it’s a pretty difficult argument,” she said.

It is not a difficult argument to make. If the press gallery journalists fulfill their fourth estate obligation and spell out the facts clearly, the public may well see the Rudd Government’s economic strategy for what it is: the electoral politics that Hartcher described.

But straight facts will not be what the public is going to hear.

Michelle Grattan, as an opinion leader in the Canberra press gallery, is one of those, of course, who determines what messages the public receives.

And Grattan went on to give a sample rationale for the Rudd Government’s ongoing economic policy and provided a taste of the kind of lines that journalists have been running and are likely to continue to run.

“Yes, these [Rudd Government] policies will have to be changed at some point, but, clearly, the Government would rather err on the side of doing too much rather than doing too little. And economists also maintain that the monetary policy adjustments can take the first adjustment, if you like, and then the fiscal policy follows. And, of course, there’s a budget coming up in May and the Government can start readjusting its fiscal policy then.”

So, if the press gallery follows Grattan’s spin, the lines are clear: Rudd’s continuing stimulus largesse will be framed as erring on the side of “doing too much rather than doing too little”. The next budget will be the time to adjust fiscal policy and not before. Interest rate rises in the foreseeable future will always be characterised as a return to “normal” levels. They will be attributed to independent monetary policy. When rates rise above what are deemed to be “normal levels” do not expect the the Rudd Government’s policies to be blamed.

Yes, as Michelle Grattan asserts, the argument about Labor’s reckless stimulus spending will be difficult for the Opposition to make – because the influential members of the press gallery are likely to make sure it is. They will go on making excuses for Labor’s excessive spending and continue to ignore or be vague about the consequences.

The Australian Conservative.

The views represented in articles republished on the this site reflect the views of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Protectionist Party.


  1. Of course Michelle Grattan is a highly professional and well-advised liar and promulgator of propaganda whereas politicians are but amateurs at this game; which is why other journos are required to do time making spin for pollies. Without these soulless creatures to move their mouths for them most politicians would appear to us as the vision-deprived plebians they really are.

    The real key to understanding their orchestrated dialogues is to ignore them all and to check out the more realistic economic scenarios on the Internet. Global influences on Australia’s financial system and economic status can easily be read on any number of sites… GlobalResearch.com, easily the best; but also the Huffington Post, RealNews.com, Rense, and so on.

    The Australian situation can be gauged by others more local… where you are now, PeterMeyers, oziz4oziz.com and a dozen other analysis sites for ordinary citizens.

    Had we ignored the mass-crass media we would know that the following successive events will impact on Oz, proportionate to our trading and banking relationships:

    (1) The collapse of US business credit and cash flow as unemployed consumers (now 20%) cease to purchase;

    (2) The US housing bubble of mortgages set at negative amortisation (deferred interest payments) will finally erupt and collapse in slow motion over the next two years, progressively depriving commerce of income;

    (3) Starvation of the US IRS as unemployment rises incrementally;

    (4) Deflation of US commercial real estate conjointly with all of the above;

    (5) The restoration of US tariffs, now already launched to protect the tyre industry;

    (6) The gradual implosion of the Chinese economy as its export-based industry is deprived of the very consumer sales that destroyed western economies in the first place.

    How the Australian Government should react?

    Restore tariffs, especially vis a vis all farming product, but also existing manufactured items, but followed by economic stimulous of fledgling or struggling manufacturing enterprises;

    Withdraw from the Oil Price Parity Agreement, in which we pay international prices for Australian oil. This would eventually reduce bowser prices to between 12 and 25 cents per litre (yet four times what Venezuelans pay for essentially the same grade of oil). Most Aussies are unaware that international oil prices have nothing to do with supply and demand, but are set by NYMEX and IPE as part of futures trading… which is simply gambling.

    Launch an Australian gas MV engine, and convert all new cars;

    Abandon ETS;

    Ban Codex Alimentarius;

    Review the criteria for setting pensions, minimum wages and consumer price index;

    Introduce flat tax.

    Yes, there needs to be many more changes, but let’s first save our economy and our citizen’s lives.

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