Leading article Australia

Making inflation great again

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

The Albanese government have made excellent use of the long winter break, taking advantage of the warmer weather in the northern hemisphere to have a working holiday abroad.

It’s been a great opportunity to celebrate their glorious victory in the recent ‘climate’ election in the traditional manner. Nothing shows more concretely how much you care about cutting emissions than jetting around the world with hundreds of staff to deliver the message personally to fellow enthusiasts.

But all good things must come to an end and it was back to Parliament this week where Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has laid out his plans. Like President Joe Biden, the PM seems to be intent on making inflation great again. In the US, inflation was more than 9 per cent in June. In Australia, it rose by 1.8 per cent in the June quarter to 6.1 per cent.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers admits it’s ‘confronting’ that Australians have to choose between eating vegetables and paying the rent, but not so confronting that Mr Albanese is going to put downward pressure on the cost of living. Rather, ably assisted by Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen, the PM is taking practical measures to increase power prices, with steadfast encouragement from the Greens, the Victorian Liberals – bless their little green hearts – and the Teal Maidens, who this week declared that they want faster, deeper cuts across the board, except in their own offices. Net-zero emissions does not mean net-zero staffers. Closing cheap coal-fired power generators is creating dramatic shortages and price spikes, but to permanently drive up power bills, Mr Albanese will build transmission lines to every last, lonely turbine and solar panel. When it comes to increasing the cost of energy, renewables are the gift that keeps on giving as they have to be replaced at least twice as often as traditional generators. All that spending may not put a lot of heat in a pensioner’s home but it puts heat into the economy. In that respect, all Australian governments are doing their best to spend like it’s 1975, safe in the knowledge that no treasurer need fear being fat-shamed just because of the size of his budget.

Mr Albanese’s commitment to abolishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission will also ensure there is healthy growth in building costs in all sectors of the economy.

Mr Albanese still has a long way to go to surpass the achievements of his hero Mr Whitlam – inflation peaked at 17.5 per cent in 1975 – but the international environment looks promising and he is off to an impressive start.

Progressive pride and prejudice

Sport has always had a special place in Australian life, uniting a diverse nation across class, religious, racial, ethnic, and political divides, and excluding only effete individuals and bookish intellectuals.

In earlier, less enlightened times, the primitive means of achieving harmony among disparate people was to avoid topics of controversy and unite for the love of the game. It was considered impolite, for example, to raise the topic religion since it could lead to raised voices, fisticuffs, and the occasional civil war.

Now we know better. Why preach tolerance and respect for personal differences when you can out undesirables and expose them to derision and humiliation? And also consider the dismal fate of the faceless sporting administrator who has no chance of winning applause for sporting prowess and whose only consolation is generous financial compensation.

So it was a stroke a genius for administrators of the Manly Sea Eagles to surprise the players with an opportunity to don rainbow jerseys. Not only did it demonstrate that it was the management who deserved credit for supporting ‘advocacy and human rights pertaining to gender, race, culture, ability and LGBTQ movements’ as the coach framed it, but it publicly shamed any player that didn’t want to be ‘inclusive’, as the Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission Mr V’landys said. Because nothing says ‘inclusive’ like excluding Christian Pacific Islanders who decline to be living billboards in a progressive morality parade. That the loss of  players will harm the team’s sporting chances is a small price to pay. As chief executive of Racing NSW, Mr V’landys was not loved by animal rights activists. At last he has had an opportunity to come out of the closet and declare himself a proud progressive.

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