Position paper

Jobs and growth ... and a few hard numbers: a scorecard on economic policy and economic performance

Economic forecasting Public debt Economic growth Economic indicators Government accountability Election promises Australia

Public opinion polls indicate that voters regularly rank economic issues at the top of their list of concerns and priorities when electing their governments. In response, it is not surprising that political candidates emphasize their economic credentials in appealing for voter support. The current federal campaign is no exception: all parties make strong claims about their capacity to best ‘manage’ Australia’s economy.

This briefing paper is an attempt to dig beneath vague claims about economic competence and friendliness to business, and consider more concrete indicators of economic progress. The paper identifies a dozen standard indicators of economic performance: covering work, production, incomes, and debt. Consistent historical data is gathered for the twelve indicators, going back to the 1950s. Then the actual historical record is compared between the various postwar Prime Ministers (any who served in office for at least a full year). Is there any correlation between the policy outlook of those respective governments, and in particular its “business credentials,” and Australia’s real economic progress?

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