On the day after the election Andrew Robb appeared on the ABC's Insiders and I was struck by just how cocky he was. When confronted by the challenge of the budget deficit Robb said:
But the other part of it is this campaign has focused overwhelmingly on one side of the ledger. What it hasn't, what it hasn't focused on is what we can do on the revenue side.
As of today the mining boom will be rebooted, right. Under Labor it was finished because of the cost uncompetitiveness that we now have. We will change that. There's $150 billion worth of projects there to be grabbed. We can do so much. We can get Australia open for business. We'll restore an appetite for risk and investment, people's jobs will grow massively. Small business will come out from under the huge shadow that they've had for the last two years.
The mining boom has done the complete opposite of being "rebooted." ANZ economists were reported to be forecasting a slowing in the middle of this year from as early as January.
Today the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics is reporting that investment in new mines is at its lowest level for ten years. The Australian observed:
But according to BREE, the backlog is now at the feasibility study stage, not because of government delays, but because of a reluctance to commit to new capital expenditure because of the slump in commodity prices.
So when Joe Hockey next blames the revenue side for a poor budget outlook he should be reminded of what Robb said. It is no wonder that one of the few changes the PM made in the move from Opposition to Government was to remove Andrew Robb from Finance.
And Robb's second prediction was all about business confidence.
The NAB Business Survey supported a contention that it would surge after the election, as it usually does when uncertainty of the outcome is removed. But trend is dipping rapidly.
Maybe all this is because Robb was so wrong about what his own PM would be like. On Insiders he also said:
He will be methodical, I mean that's what he has been. When he says there'll be no surprises and no excuses, that's the sort of fellow he is. I do think that he will … We've got a major agenda. You know, I hear what Bill says but I don't think Labor should kid themselves what's gone on here. People did vote for change.
The last six years has been marked by a highly dysfunctional government, a massive waste. In many respects the biggest mining boom in 150 years has been wasted. So many people say 'what have we got to show for it?' It's not just a question of how we are in relation to the rest of the world, it's how we have treated and responded to the great blessings that we've had as a country compared to the rest of the world. And it is those sorts of things that we've got to fix.
We've got to fix so much. Tony is a fellow who has laid out a very clear first term agenda. We've also got a series of things like a tax review, which will give us a second term agenda. And you know Tony, I think will stay true to what we said we would do coming into the election.
As Anna Burke said on Kitchen Cabinet "Government is really, really hard."
I got into trouble for a cheeky tweet I made earlier this year responding to a claim by Christopher Pyne that the Liberals were the only truly "national" party because they don't seek to represent a sectional interest. But that isn't how they have goverened.
Too much of the Abbott Government has been implementing an ideological agenda that comes from outside the Coalition parties - mostly from the IPA and the BCA. It is a mistake to think that either of these is representative of even the business community - let alone the general community.
No wonder the Prime Minister is doing a repeat of Howard in 2007 and begging the business community for support.
It is no wonder they won't support him. To thrive business needs customers with disposable income. Cutting the real wages of the defence force and public sector does nothing to help business. Wasting political capital on a GP co-payment to build a health research fund does nothing to help business. And cutting access to tertiary and vocational education does nothing to help business.
It is more than a few barnacles that need to be knocked off - this Government needs a whole new boat. I wonder if Andrew Robb has worked that one out yet.
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