With the economy in recession, Prime Minister Scott Morrison should spend less time trying to be popular and attempting to be everyone’s friend and more time advocating for the policies that will get Australians back into jobs.
When he stood up at the National Press Club last week, the Prime Minister could have announced corporate tax cuts, or reductions in red tape, or, if he had really wanted to be bold, that Australia was going to develop a nuclear energy industry.
Instead he talked about organising five working groups to have employer groups and the ACTU talk about industrial relations reforms they might each eventually agree to. Zoom chats between bosses and unions organised by the government might well fulfil what pollsters claim is the public’s desire during the coronavirus crisis for “consensus” politics and an end to partisan bickering. But what will be the real outcomes is at this stage difficult to envisage.
To get Australia out of the recession we’re now in will require the government to do more than say “we tried”. It will need a clear-eyed and hard-nosed understanding of what want to achieve
As was reported in this newspaper this week, Steven Kennedy, the secretary of the Treasury, said at a private meeting of the working groups “it could take five to seven years to bring the economy back to its pre-pandemic state” and with unemployment at up to 9 per cent by 2021.