It was always completely bogus to argue that Labor's association with the trade union movement would lead to economic cataclysm.And that's in a Murdoch paper, right?
Consider these numbers. When the Fraser government, of which Howard was the long-running treasurer, fell in March 1983, GDP growth was running at -2.5 per cent a year, inflation was 11.4 per cent, unemployment 9.9 per cent, cash rates 16.7per cent and housing interest rates 12.5 per cent. The profit share was 18.1 per cent and the wages share was 61.1 per cent.
When the Keating government fell in March 1996, GDP growth was running at 4.9 per cent, inflation at 3.7 per cent, unemployment at 8.2per cent, cash rates at 7.52 and housing interest rates at 10.5 per cent. The profit share was 23.2 per cent and the wages share was 55.4per cent.
The numbers tell the story. The Hawke and Keating governments, with the active and constructive engagement of Australia's trade union leadership and membership, rebuilt the economy from the steaming wreckage left by the Fraser government into the powerhouse it still is, despite the dumbed-down policies of the Howard Government. Howard's trade-union bogy is bogus: always was, still is.
To the extent that Abbott's performance this week unpicks the first stitch in the tale Howard is trying to weave on Labor, unions and the economy, it could be one of those memorable moments that campaigns turn [*] on.
What next? Right-wing US bloggers taking on FOX News? Ouch! The pain...!
[* or "don't turn", more to the point. The rock-solid stasis of the polls over the last year suggests to me that Australian voters have already "locked in" their decision on Howard.]