THE LATEST empty slogan hurled vigorously, repeatedly and abusively at Prime Minister Tony Abbott by the ALP is that he has “refused to fight for Australian jobs” by “allowing the car industry to shut down;” the warped premise these stupid pronouncements are based on has been picked apart and — needless to say, in a play on his own words — shows Labor “leader” Bill Shorten to be considerably dumber than “every other first world country.”
The problem with the politics of abuse and deceit is that eventually, someone calls the ruse; it mightn’t make the front page of a newspaper or otherwise gain the mass circulation it should, but eventually, the truth will out. It always does.
For this reason, I’d especially ask readers who find today’s piece resonates with them to share on Facebook, retweet on Twitter, repost in other social media forums or otherwise help to circulate it: the material I am featuring today explodes at a stroke the myths and lies behind Labor’s predictable attack on the Abbott government in the wake of Toyota’s announcement that it will stop building cars in Australia.
I have read an article in The Australian this morning from its regular columnist and economist Professor Judith Sloan, and whilst it sums up neatly the whole distort-and-smear approach of the ALP to the daily political grind, it also knocks out the foundations on which Labor’s latest ill-conceived offensive is based.
Most readers will know that since the Toyota announcement was made on Monday (catching a good number of political players off guard, I’m told), Labor — and its “leader,” Bill Shorten, in particular — have expended a greater amount of energy even by its own usual grimy standards to run around the country accusing Abbott of “refusing to fight for Australian jobs.”
The basic charge seems to be that Abbott has “allowed the car industry to shut down,” despite Ford calling time on its manufacturing operations during Labor’s own term in office, Mitsubishi having departed some years ago, and in spite of ample anecdotal evidence to suggest General Motors had made a similar decision about Holden in the middle of last year — but which it delayed making a formal announcement on until the September election had been held and finalised.
Even so, Shorten thunders, Labor holds Abbott “at fault” for the looming disappearance of the car making industry.
If Labor won last year’s election, Shorten says, Toyota would still be making cars here into the future — no ifs, no buts, despite the rather obvious fact that this piece of hyperbola can never be tested or validated.
And one of the gems he and his colleagues have been circulating to bolster their “case” against Abbott and fortify their onslaught against the government is a disingenuously dishonest assertion that the level of industry assistance historically provided by the Australian government to car makers is far lower than that given by other first-world governments who subsidise their car manufacturing sectors.
“Mr Abbott thinks he’s smarter than every other first-world country,” Shorten blustered accusingly.
If we run through the reasoning and logic of Sloan’s article, it ticks off a series of boxes that ultimately expose Labor’s (and Shorten’s) position as the manipulatively dishonest rubbish it is.
When was the information relied on by Labor compiled? 2009, in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, when stimulus spending by governments across the developed world ran at record levels in a one-off spike desperately seeking to stave off a 1920s-style economic depression. That spending spanned whole economies, and was not limited to automotive manufacturing.
Other forms of government expenditure in foreign countries have been lumped together with the kind of industry assistance the ALP advocates to stiffen up its argument and sharpen the attack on the Liberals in what, viewed from any perspective, isn’t and wasn’t intended as a like-for-like comparison.
Using Productivity Commission figures — a much more objective reference point than Labor’s dodgy, doctored, self-serving numbers — Sloan’s calculations based on a level of subsidy per vehicle manufactured reveals the truth of the issue, and detonates Labor’s ridiculous accusations: at subsidies of US$1,885 per vehicle, Australian government assistance to car makers is six times that of the Swedish government, nine times that of the Germans, and eleven times that of the USA.
I would also point out that even many Labor Party and trade union figures concede that the auto workers in those countries are far, far more productive than their counterparts in Australia: this fact, combined with the true scope of industry assistance in Australia, makes it fairly easy to see why the car makers don’t want to continue building their products here any more.
The other thing that stands out for me insofar as the homework Sloan has done for her article (and I am grateful to her: it has saved me doing a lot of the donkey work I don’t have time to do at present) is that industry subsidies shelled out to Toyota alone over the past four years average out to some $50,000 per worker per annum, based on the size of Toyota’s workforce and the half-billion dollars shovelled out to the company by the last government.
Viewed in such terms, the spectre of industry subsidies are nothing short of a national obscenity — especially when it is remembered that labour costs have been the greatest driver of the car manufacturers in shutting up shop and going elsewhere.
In the context of industry assistance to car makers, does this all add up to Tony Abbott arrogantly believing himself “smarter than every other first-world country?” On no account. In fact, a case could be made around the stupidity and vacuity of Shorten for even suggesting it.
But to suggest that Abbott has “refused to fight for Australian jobs” because the government he leads has declined to continue and increase the obscene amounts of money being thrown at car makers — especially in light of Productivity Commission figures Sloan quotes — should be seen for what it is: a cheap, tacky, meaningless slogan from a cheap, tacky, worthless political outfit.
Shorten might think that his ticket to becoming Prime Minister is to oppose and criticise everything, as he and his colleagues regularly complain Abbott did to them when the latter was opposition leader.
The fundamental difference is that Labor’s policies were bad policies, as is becoming clearer with every day the new government digs further into the mess it inherited; and in any case, Labor mishandled the nation’s finances so badly in office that were it not for the hundreds of billions of dollars in debt it bequeathed its successors to deal with, the conversation around the cessation of industry assistance to the car sector might not even be happening.
I think Australians can have faith that their Prime Minister will indeed fight for Australian jobs, although I acknowledge some in the labour movement might not agree with that assessment given yet another of their cosy little sinecures — this time, at Toyota — is soon to cease to exist.
But whether they do or not, the people of this country are entitled to better than the bare-faced lies the ALP is attempting to peddle.
Once again — this time on the issue of jobs — all of this is just another Labor lie, and deserves to be called out as such.