Winter is coming

April 10, 2019

The Conservative Party's South Australian Senate candidate Rikki Lambert is a Game of Thrones fan, as you can see from this opinion piece he wrote for South Australian newspapers:

"Our forebears did the hard yards towards drought-proofing and recession-proofing Australia and politicians are failing them – and us – today.  Whilst we are thankfully now debating how to further drought-proof the nation, the tradition of recession-proofing is fading from the nation’s corporate memory.

Rumours persist that the world, and Australia, might be on the cusp of recession. Far be it from me to talk down the economy, but we do need to talk about the future.

Older Australians remember the Global Financial Crisis, the 1990s’ ‘Recession we had to have’ and passed-down or lived childhood experiences of the desperate thrift of the Great Depression.  

Like winter and its attendant horrors in a Game of Thrones, some say recession is coming - yet others say that’s just goblin tales to scare the kiddies.

As a trading nation, Australia’s wall against the economic winter of recession has been reduced debt and deficit. Australians now carry far higher levels of household debt, so public debt levels should be of greater concern. Thus far our economic and regulatory settings, trading ties and maybe a stroke of being the ‘lucky country’ have seen us to set an enviable global record of avoiding recession.

The next government - blue, red or rainbow - will only have the taxpayer to call upon to service public debt and defend against recession. Debt is future consumption brought forward, so our future selves, our children and grandchildren will face the reckoning for the partying, gossip and leisure of our economic summer.

Australia may soon switch from a blue to red federal government, but – as Howard did – the blue cycle traditionally ends with the red paid down and a shiny black savings wall against economic winter. By contrast, today we have an April promise of a likely modest and symbolic surplus - yet public debt is almost 10 times what it was at Howard’s end, a staggering half a trillion dollars.

Australians remember the ravages of economic winters and those scarred by recession - as my family was - can see the signs it is coming again.  Call it scare tactics if you will, we’ll only have ourselves to blame for being unprepared.  Meanwhile the ruling class thinks itself isolated and safe in a political south, jostling for a flimsy throne and bickering over trivialities and pet projects. Elites think themselves insulated by a taxpaying north against the ravages of economic winter, and it falls to all of us to demand better – before it’s too late."

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