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Thus Spake Mungo: sweet COVID relief

We would never dream of accusing Scott Morrison of being relieved by the onset of the second wave of COVID-19, but nonetheless it has postponed a nagging problem for him.

It has been clear for weeks that the stimulus measures implemented by the government could not simply be shut off. This was the original idea, but circumstances – and mainly pressure from just about all the stakeholders – made it impossible.

However the manner and extent of the maintenance of JobKeeper and JobSeeker in particular has developed into a brawl over all fronts: economic, medical and political. And as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg faced his self-imposed deadline last week, the prospects were not propitious.

COVID-19 came galloping back, rampant in Victoria, and then crossing the Murray into New South Wales

But then COVID-19 came galloping back, rampant in Victoria, and then crossing the Murray into New South Wales. And there were ominous signs of resurgence in the other states and territories. So extending and rejigging the handouts became a no-brainer.

Kicking the can down the street, maybe? Sooner or later a real decision will have to be made, but the later the better – there will be plenty of time to prepare the voters for the inevitable, and it is more than likely that there will be other distractions to divert their attention when it happens. And for the moment, the money will keep flowing.

Once again, the spin doctors revised the original schedule. The idea was to make it all part of an economic update – but not, Frydenberg insisted, a mini-budget – on Thursday. But given the numbers on debt, deficit, unemployment and general misery were not promising, it was broken into the good news – to be delivered by Morrison on Tuesday and assiduously leaked to the morning papers before then – and the bad news, the grim statistics were left for Frydenberg on Thursday; a traditional day of mourning.

Last financial year’s deficit may indeed look eye-watering, but it is not unprecedented – we only go back 70 years, a mere biblical lifetime

Actually, some were not as grim as we had feared from Frydenberg’s diligent softening up process. Last financial year’s deficit may indeed look eye-watering, but it is not unprecedented – we only go back 70 years, a mere biblical lifetime. But then, next year’s deficit is predicted to more than double, so the records will keep tumbling.

Debt will also continue to soar. However, given that it was soaring anyway over the first seven years of the coalition, we can regard that as business as usual.  And just about all the economic indicators are on the downward slope, no surprises there.

But the crusher – the figure that drops the cess into recession – is unemployment. And that’s where the real uncertainty is festering. The headline figure is Treasury’s estimate of 9.25 per cent in the December quarter, but even the most credulous of the Pollyannas know that it is really much higher than that. The realists are saying 15 per cent out of work and that, crucially, it will get worse – much worse – before it gets better.

As JobKeeper tapers off and becomes harder to access, the numbers will rise to well over one million jobless next year, and the prediction of zero net wage growth will not help

As JobKeeper tapers off and becomes harder to access, the numbers will rise to well over one million jobless next year, and the prediction of zero net wage growth will not help. The more pedantic economists are already saying that this is not recession – it is full-on depression, and they don’t just mean the mental angst of isolation and social distancing.

And even the ever sanguine ScoMo was stretching for ebullience in the manner of a drowning man grasping at straws. JobKeeker will be maintained for at least eight months, which should keep employers, if not actually happy, at least placated. But it will need to be reassessed, and the rates will taper off over time. Any serious hope that it will trigger an investment boom is clearly fanciful.

And there is an expectation that a large majority of the nearly five million workers currently on the list will be removed from it. But unfortunately that does not mean that they will all be back in productive jobs. We don’t know how many companies will close, but the likelihood is quite a few – bankruptcies, which had stalled, will resume with renewed momentum.

Although JobSeeker will be above the abject poverty line of NewStart, it will still mean a large step down, not only in actual income but in self-belief – the confidence that is essential to power any putative recovery.

As a result, a lot of the employees propped up by JobKeeper, will lose their jobs altogether and move seamlessly over to JobSeeker – and the unemployment queue. And although JobSeeker will be above the abject poverty line of NewStart, it will still mean a large step down, not only in actual income but in self-belief – the confidence that is essential to power any putative recovery.

JobSeeker, at the propped up rate, is scheduled to close with the calendar year, and although Morrison says he is leaning towards some kind of replacement, it is unlikely to be a cause for celebration. The current regime will end as soon as the Christmas decorations have been repacked, and even before then the times will be tougher.

The gratuitous cruelty of mutual obligation, forcing victims to spend their meagre dole payments chasing non-existent job vacancies, is to be inflicted anew. If there is to be welfare, there must also be punishment – well, for the poor and the powerless. Morrison and his fellow politicians will happily absent themselves from their own well-paid jobs – attending parliament is too risky, too difficult. But of course, we are all in this together.

So where will it all end? Obviously, none of us knows, and somewhat alarmingly there are signs that the government is preparing to acknowledge this and simply give up the battle

So where will it all end? Obviously, none of us knows, and somewhat alarmingly there are signs that the government is preparing to acknowledge this and simply give up the battle. The talk last week was all about learning to live with the pandemic – even with a vaccine – the virus cannot be eliminated, outbreaks will recur.

And that being the case, we might as well stop struggling and resume the faltering economic model we were muddling through a year ago. Morrison is having one more go at prevarication. But after JobKeeper officially shuts down in March, it may be simpler to go straight to capitulation.

And even if COVID-19 can be brought under control, it is a safe bet that in the near future another virus will emerge, another infection will invade our sea-girt borders, and the whole process will start again… or perhaps not; maybe next time we will cut straight to the chase and save the money.

We could go back to traditional coalition values: looking after mates, bashing unions, states and media, and fantasising about delivering a budget surplus. Now that would really be back to normal.


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28 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: sweet COVID relief”

  1. Barrow says:

    Well Mungo !! You are implying that Morrison and his Coalitions handling of the Pandemic is unsatisfactory ?? Maybe if we run out of money
    We could go to the Renewables treasure chest
    No money in there !! Oh its okay we can go to the resources industries who incidentally are paying for the all welfare , Jobseekers, Jobkeeper etc
    10 billion a month.. how much dos coal exports
    Generate per month about 9 billion… and talk about looking after our Mates !! Good old Dan Andrews his abject failures in Victoria… no blame game Mungo !!

  2. Hi Mungo. Chasing jobless jobs is not
    for the faint-hearted. What doesn’t
    exist is no rainbow.

  3. Doug says:

    As usual well spake Mungo. I feel sorrow for the people on Job Seeker, but I also have sorrow for the poor employers who are still working. It seems even though there are very few jobs, jobSeekers are still expected to pester local employers. This costs them time & money. Surely the powers that be can see this & reduce the expectation of seeking work? Surely proving you have searched on the internet, applying for jobs where applicable should be sufficient?
    Then there are all the problems of attending meetings with your support agency: this costs money in the country, often requires a car, & any miss may mean no money for 2 weeks or more.
    How much easier was it for me many years ago in the days before Centerlink! I got my first job through the ´Professional´ section of the Commonwealth Employment Service (a traineeship with Pye Industries).
    Why have we moved to this model of obstructive Citizen support?

  4. Just ‘print’ more $$$$$. Gas is an almost useless
    commodity; so is coal & oil. Two world wars show
    us to let the purse strings drop.

  5. 2 world wars have shown the way.
    Print more $$$. It saves lives. Gas
    is more or less useless – so is coal
    & oil.

  6. Ray Armstrong says:

    High unemployment is going to be around for some time-even after we learn to live with the virus. Why?
    It will take years for some businesses to revive. Many have learnt they can still function with a much
    leaner workforce meaning many will not get their jobs back. I heard Fraudenberg on Radio National last week saying unemployment in real terms was about 14.3%. Add on those who have given up looking for non-existent jobs, those working only a few hours per week and we are looking at 20% plus. By the way, I am not blaming Smoko for this but what craps me off is they way Labor was pilloried day in and day out with debt one tenth of what the Looters are piling upon us. All we heard was ‘our grandkids, our grandkids will have to pay all this off’ which by the way is not true. By comparison and as usual, Labor lets the Libs off the hook to frightened to take on The Economic Managers (what a farce!). When stealing govt. Abbott was handed a AAA credit rating the second lowest debt in theworld and as soon as The Adults got the wheel Smokin’ Joe and the Mad Abbott had unemployment at 6.2% in what could only be called a sound world economy. Economic managers my XXXX.How and WHY do they get away with it?

  7. Ken says:

    Of course it has NOTHING to do with money, Barrow .
    Agree with you whole heartedly “that Morrison and his Coalitions handling of the Pandemic is unsatisfactory”
    Well it is basically non-existent, when you realize these idiots allowed over 50,000 Chinese students back into Australia in February, after China close it’s borders, then allowed the Ruby Princess to set sail and then return with no testing !!!! and… there are still planes arriving in Ballina from Melbourne with no testing.
    Now they are wondering where these community transmissions are coming from ?
    We have been SO lucky ! That will not last nor impress anybody as a reasonable strategy when the luck runs out and the death toll is in the thousands
    Barrow , all the coal in Australia will not count for [email protected]@###T when your loved ones die, with a little forethought this could be avoided, but this pentecostal parasite is happy to leave it up to his mythical messiah.
    Knock knock, is this the second wave or the second coming ? Cheers, G”)

  8. Joachim says:

    Barrow, Barrow, Barrow, god bless your cotton socks old son. Where does one start? ‘The Art of ScoNO’, finding a ‘lifesaver’ event as he leaps from one disaster to the next one and so forth hoping all along that the punters have forgotten all about the previous unaddressed disasters. The Covid is but the latest ‘lifesaver’ for the ScoNO but that will soon be forgotten ( the States will be left to struggle alone with the Covid ) as ScoNO now focuses on his ‘Debt and Deficit Disaster’ and his ‘Surplus / Back in Black Budget Emergency’ that will take immediate precedence ahead of the upcoming General Election. Who knows what the next ‘lifesaver’ event will be that arrives to save ScoNO from his Debt and Budget emergency worries. Nice that you mention the Coal. I know, the Fossil Fuel Industry is a favourite of yours. Your $Coal don’t come close to ‘paying’ for the damage that Coal reeks upon The Planet with Human Lives. Climate, Land and Water Landscapes all just collateral but necessary damage thanks to your ‘little black wonder rock’. But of course it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t need the Coal. What we need is a healthy Mother Earth that provides us with a sustainable environment, You know the Environment yes, the thing that supports all life on Earth.

  9. I haven’t forgotten… ScoNo’s unaddressed disasters
    & they’re enough to make me heave. Dear me. Don’t
    tell me Jesus was an Economist – Christ was, after
    all, a radicle Essene. His mother too, to boot. It’s the
    ‘human cost’ that would have got their wick just as
    it’s got mine. We have a government doing the
    figures on the cost of a ‘human life’. Let-it-rip miser
    P.M. While your at it I’d like to see you swallow a
    mouthful of 50 cents & a bucket load of coal.

  10. Barrow says:

    Come on Joachim !! Be impartial for once !!
    As previously stated i vote for who i think
    Will be whats best for the Nation .. and if policies put forward by the Greens or Labor are whats best
    In my opinion thats who i will vote for .. and all sides of Governments have faults no doubt !!
    And the coalition are not by any means ideal
    However Joachim i think the general consensus
    Would be the coalition have done quite well
    During the Covid 19 , not at all with the Fires
    Must not forget Joachim Governments work
    For the taxpayer’s with community expectations !! Just cant print money as suggested by Stefanie!! That would
    Be irresponsible for our future generations to be burdened with .. and yes we all need a healthy
    Mothers earth for our Kids ..buts this Global Warming hysteria Joachim come on .. as previously our own Council has declared a Climate emergency, and they dont even know the meaning of the Word . Nor could they give a example of this
    So called Climate emergency… so be fair Joachim
    Peace , ecology and harmony to you !!

  11. Joachim says:

    Yo Barrow old son. What’s this about “Global Warming hysteria? It feels like de ja vu with you. Where do we start again…The IPCC’s science and research for over 30 years, last summer’s unprecedented Bushfire Catastrophe in Australia that saw parts of our rainforests burn for the first time and a record summer day temperature set in Sydney, this summer’s record summer temperatures in The Arctic….please feel free to stop me at any time, Barrow my man. I know it all just more “Global Warming hysteria”. It is instructive how the deniers of Science when it comes to Climate happily embrace Medical Science – no sign of ‘Covid hysteria’ apart from the extreme nutjob “sovereign citizens” who somehow believe that Covid isn’t real and will never affect them. But then we had that recent example in The U.S of the A. of a Covid denier who wanted to prove to the world that Covid wasn’t real. He deliberately got himself Covid infected and then….he died. Before he died he put out the message along the lines of regret that he didn’t take Covid seriously but it was all too late. I’m increasingly thinking that deniers of The Climate Emergency are just a separate wing of the “sovereign citizens”, that some how think that, like the Covid, The Climate Emergency won’t affect them in any way.

  12. Barrow says:

    Joachim the mere thought of reaching any middle
    Ground regarding Global warming is impossible !!
    Look its not hard !!
    A. Not one Scientist in the past fifty years has had a prediction come true .. NOT ONE
    B. the IPCC implying that 99% of scientists all
    Agree ? Agree on what ? That computer modeling
    should be believed.. ? Absolute Nonsense !!
    C. The planet has warmed by .6 of a degree hardly alarming..
    D. One such Global Warming scientist endorsed
    By the Greens and labor .. Mr Tim Flannery
    Loved by the ABC , the Guardian now Joachim
    He has made some of the most alarmist predictions regarding Global warming and what of it Joachim??? NOTHING look it up yourself!!
    E. Now why do you not hear of any scientists that want to debate , debunk the IPCC or other scientists or organizations Joachim???
    NO way shutdown no platforms given ??
    You will be sacked if you do .. Democratic???
    And finally if global warming was such a concern
    Why did the country not vote for it Joachim??
    Go read Michael Shellenbergers latest book ..!!
    If you can find it .. or Maybe all the councils
    Should purchase one as well ..and save ratepayers
    Millions..

  13. First, the ‘loot’ needed to manage the country… the
    treasurer chose the out-of-date way. Alternative!
    Finance with ‘new’ money that does not need to be
    repaid, ever, & would not cause inflation or low
    dollar. We will have triple debt otherwise.. Next.
    Climate Change is here weather we like it or not
    [excuse the pun]. Joachim’s said the rest.

  14. Go & do some more research, Barrow. I have —— I’m
    hands on regarding Nuclear Power problems because
    Nuclear Power is our downfall & I’ve been an environ
    -mentalist for many a year. M. Shellenberger is not a
    scientist. Prof Kerry Emanuel said Michael ‘gets his
    facts wrong elsewhere’ & there’s plenty of evidence
    that Climate Change is making disasters worse. No
    one has the right to speak for the whole environment
    group. Michael believes C.C. certainly exists while
    he states Nuclear problems can be more serious. You
    see, Barrow – there’s trouble all over. Nuclear use is
    dangerous. Put a foot, a finger or some fool’s mind
    in the wrong spot & the world itself is gone. Sure,
    Murdoch encourages foolishness. I don’t.

  15. Joachim says:

    Barrow old son, I enjoy our sparring sessions in these very fine pages. To continue on with the boxing parlance – I know, it hard for you, to keep boxing on with denial of The Climate Emergency when you been knocked out by the decades of scientific research and facts on the record. So when all is lost , go with some sort of Conspiracy Theory that we are being hoaxed. Barrow, you must try harder old son but then again, I know that when it comes to Climate Denial…. “desperate times call for desperate measures”, yeah.

  16. Barrow says:

    Joachim you could not answer or debunk any of my last post !! Let me just explain in layman’s terms
    You are in the very minority when it comes to this Global Warming..just as the the Greens are !!
    End of story !!

  17. No, Barrow. It’s just the beginning
    of the end. You’ve been led along
    the garden path. The roses were
    a mirage cover-up.

  18. Ray Armstrong says:

    The best way to debate those from the Hard Right are with facts. They don’t like facts. What they DO like is scare and lies. Who are the biggest taxers? Who are the biggest spenders? Who are the economic managers-Labor has presided over larger in creases in GDP every time they have been in govt. The Looters hold the record for the biggest net debt and gross debt and this was BEFORE the virus which they blame everything on. The seven highest TAXING years in the history of our country have ALL been under Liberal governments. The ten highest SPENDING years in the history of our country have ALSO been under Liberal governments. There have been only seven occasions where the tax to GDP ratio has been in excess of 23.5 per cent of GDP and all seven were under the Howard government. All this is in the Reserve Bank and Treasury documents for all to see. As I keep saying-how do they get away with it? Maybe Mungo can tell us?

  19. Joachim says:

    Yo Barrow my man. Whether I or The Greens are any minority or not is hardly the issue. The issue surrounding Climate is the Facts and the Science and those Facts and Science are readily available for anyone to research. Barrow my man, the Facts and the Science, these are…..”End of Story!!”.

  20. Barrow says:

    You have unfortunately been indoctrinated
    With such “DO” not question Global Warming
    Its concerning!!

    • Joachim says:

      Barrow, Barrow, Barrow god bless those blinkers that you permanently have on. What are you trying to say, that Science and Facts are some sort of evil, an indoctrination as you put it. The Sciences that we are all blessed to have and benefit from, have all evolved via assessment and peer reviews, ‘questioning’ as you might like to put it, and Climate just like Medicine ( say it ain’t so, Barrow, that Medicine is somehow an indoctrination ) are no different. Your insinuation about Climate is another falsehood. But please do feel free to put forward any climate science research that you have conducted for, ‘questioning’, as you like to put it.

  21. Yes, Ray… & does Barrow understand?
    The 7 highest ‘taxing’
    years in our history = Lib. Gov.
    The highest 10 ‘Spend’ is = Lib Gov.
    Howard’s GDP ratio… easily visible.
    Info – Reserve Bank / Treasury.

    I wonder if Mungo would lay the whole lot
    out in an article for the hard right to read!

    • Joachim says:

      Yep, like Ray and Stefanie have outlined, show the deniers of reality the facts and figures and they either put the blinkers on and say it all fakery or they just don’t even bother to read and research. Much safer to plough on, stay the course, just like our own Barrow. But we get it, The World really is flat and and The Sun really does revolve around The Earth.

  22. P.S. Barrow… you’d best remember after
    reading Michael Shellenberger’s book
    that he is certainly a believer in Climate
    Change while also worrying about the
    Nuclear power problem we will all be
    facing far too soon for comfort. The rest
    is a Murdoch ‘hack job’. Read between
    the lines in this weekend’s Australian.

  23. Barrow says:

    This certainly is a problem !! Hard right Stefanie?
    What iam divisive ? Because i disagree with the
    Left ? Or called a denier because iam not of the same view as yours and the left on Global Warming? Certainly happy where i sit with my all in life Stefanie.. Right in the Centre where most should be … and certainly would not dare turning
    Left at the streetlights its absolutely poisonous
    Just look at whats happening in America with the
    Democrats and that CNN ? BLM protesters calling them mostly peaceful !! God help the US if the
    Democrats are elected socialist, Commos..

  24. Joachim says:

    Earth to barrow,. Nice that you have this connection with geography…Left, Right and Centre….that yopu like to talk about with your contributions. And yes Barrow old son, Geography is ALSO a science. But you still not getting it my man. There is no ‘Left’ about The Climate Emergency, only the facts of scientific researchings. ‘The Deniers’ provide no scientific research themselves but instead create noise with opinions. What’s with the jump in topic from from Climate to BLM?…you desperate for another distraction?

  25. Barrow says:

    Deniers create noise with opinions Joachim ?
    Are you okay ??? That is exactly what people like you do , and your Greens!!, and those
    Opinions , views , and alarmism !! And the outcome
    At the polls decade after decades 8 % of the vote
    Hence why your Greens – labor will be coming second for decades.. over and out !!

    Oh forgot !! Just in layman’s terms without deflection, please provide a example Of the
    Climate Emergency in the Byron Shire Joachim?
    Ask one of the 99% of scientists who agree
    With the Climate emergency.. you have about
    200.000 to chose from .. easy request !!
    Or are you all talk and no ACTION?

  26. Distraction’s only used when an answer does
    not exist. Left, right & center but… just not
    now. We are in ‘never, never land’. Nice &
    safe. Spin the world & words backwards
    again. A Murdoch & ScoMo game.

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