Ian McAuley | The Howard Years Were No Golden Age

If Tony Abbott is serious about the Opposition’s claims of economic competence, he should stop harking back to the Howard years as he did yesterday at the National Press Club – and here’s why.

CPD Fellow, Ian McAuley, writes in New Matilda:

“The only foundation for a successful country is a strong economy”, said Tony Abbott in his National Press Club address yesterday.

That much is uncontentious, but his claim that previous Coalition governments had delivered sound economic management was outrageous.

“Australians can be confident that the Liberal and National parties will provide good economic management in the future because that is what we have always done in the past,” he said. “We have done it before and we will do it again.”

That’s a wild statement. The Coalition has had the fortune to hold office in good economic times — including the postwar boom of the 1950s and 1960s and the period from 1996 to 2007 when the Howard government enjoyed the dividends of the Hawke-Keating economic reforms, and when the world economy was enjoying a long speculative-driven boom. Good luck, perhaps, but not good management.

In fact he went on to praise the Howard government specifically, saying: “16 members of the current shadow cabinet were ministers in the Howard government which now looks like a lost golden age of reform and prosperity.”

If he were serious about the Opposition’s claims of economic competence, he would hardly mention service in the Howard ministry as an endorsement. The Howard government’s economic report card is overall a dismal one.

Read the full article in New Matilda here.

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