Was the COVID recession 30 times worse than the GFC? Is everything going up except your wages? Have all of Fiji’s COVID vaccines been deployed by Australia?
The first leaders’ debate of the 2022 federal election campaign had no shortage of demands worthy of scrutiny. Here’s what we found.
The cost of everything is not increasing – it might seem like it is
One of the Leader of the Opposition’s first contributions to the debate was a claim that was at the heart of his budget response speech: “The cost of everything is going up, but not your salaries.”
Broadly speaking, inflation is on the rise – and moving at a faster pace than before the pandemic.
And the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index is rising faster than wages as measured by the Wage Price Index.
At 1.3%, the CPI increased at almost twice the rate of 0.7% of the IPW in the December quarter. In the 12 months to December, the CPI rose 3.5% while the WPI rose a slower 2.3%.
But even though most prices go up, there is more to it.
CPI figures also show healthcare costs fell 0.3% in the last quarter, as did rents in Sydney (0.3%) and Melbourne (0.4%), continuing a trend seen throughout the pandemic.
Figures from property data firm CoreLogic show house prices also fell in the two biggest capitals in March – albeit from a much higher position than a year ago.
Longer term trends show that we are paying much less for communications purchases than a decade ago, clothing and footwear are also down slightly under this government and education costs have barely moved from where they were at the start of the pandemic.
ABS noted that its “automotive fuels series” was at an all-time high in the December quarter. Petrol prices rose again in March, but fell in capitals and most regions following the cut in excise duty on fuels in the March 29 budget, the Australian Tax Commission said. competition and consumption.
CPI figures for the March quarter are released next Wednesday, while the next WPI is released on May 18.
The pandemic was different from the GFC – don’t call it 30 times worse
On economic management, Mr Morrison justified the level of public debt accumulated under the coalition by pointing to the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had overshadowed any crisis to which Labor had faced during their last mandate.
“The economic recession we went through because of the pandemic was 30 times worse than what happened during the global financial crisis, 30 times worse,” he said.
But when Mr Morrison made the same claim in 2021, Fact Check found he was comparing apples and oranges, with experts saying his approach was not the normal way of assessing two economic periods.
In fact, they said his assertion was confusing, misleading, and most likely wrong, while noting that the two recessions were fundamentally different in nature.
Experts also told Fact Check that while the final numbers are not yet known, they expected an orthodox comparison to reveal that the 2020 pandemic downturn would be twice as large as the GFC, or may -be similar.
Debt had doubled, but that’s not the whole story
Mr Albanese also hit back at Mr Morrison’s justification of the scale of the debt, saying the Coalition ‘had already doubled the debt before the pandemic hit’.
Fact Check took a fresh look at this claim during the Labor leader’s recent budget response speech, finding that the dollar value of public debt had doubled, in nominal terms, under the Coalition in the years up to January. 2020.
Official monthly data shows gross debt has risen by $280.3 billion to $568.1 billion (103%) since the 2013 election, while net debt — which better reflects the government’s ability to repay its debt — rose from $174.6 billion to $430.2 billion (146 percent). hundred).
But as Fact Check also noted, a fairer comparison should also take into account the changing size of the economy.
The 2022-23 budget data, which is produced on a fiscal year basis, does not perfectly match election dates or the start of the pandemic.
It shows that between June 2013, three months before the Coalition election, and June 2019, seven months before the pandemic, gross debt as a percentage of GDP increased by 65% and net debt by 85%.
Learn more about Morrison’s asylum claim
Mr Morrison was keen to establish government credentials on asylum seekers coming by boat.
“I designed Operation Sovereign Borders and our government’s rollback policy that ended the deaths at sea.”
As a reminder, Operation Sovereign Borders is “an army-led border security operation that was established in 2013” by the coalition government with the aim of “combatting human trafficking in our region and prevent people from risking their lives at sea”.
Fact Check has already verified a claim by Mr. Morrison on this subject. In 2013, when he was immigration minister, Mr Morrison claimed an 80 per cent reduction in asylum seekers arriving by boat was due to the start of Operation Sovereign Borders.
In the case of this claim, Fact Check found there was more to the story.
Indeed, as the graph below shows, there has been a decline under Mr Morrison’s tenure as Immigration Minister compared to Labour’s tenure.
But there is a noticeable decrease in arrivals of asylum seekers which occurred after then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a regional resettlement agreement with Papua New Guinea that prevented applicants asylum seekers arriving by boat to settle in Australia.
Fact Check previously found that the reduction under Operation Sovereign Borders was part of an earlier trend that began under the former government.
Integrity Commission lacking teeth?
Mr Morrison has championed the government’s proposal for a federal integrity commission, although he failed to deliver on his 2018 pledge to create such a body, but Mr Albanese said ‘what we have need is a national anti-corruption commission with teeth”.
He said the new body would have to “control its own investigations” while the government’s model “would ask ministers to determine whether or not they can be investigated”.
He also called for the body to have the power to hold public hearings “if it believes it is in the public interest”.
But would the government’s current proposal already have the ability to do just that?
In a previous investigation, Fact Check examined a claim by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston that a bill for the government’s Commonwealth Integrity Commission published in 2020 showed she would have “powers… well superior to those of a royal commission”.
Fact Check found this claim to be exaggerated.
As explained in the analysis of Senator Ruston’s request, under the government’s proposal, the CIC would be split into two divisions.
The first is a “Law Enforcement Integrity Division” which would have jurisdiction over certain federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Police, as well as public sector agencies with investigative functions, such as the Ministry of the Interior.
Second, a “public sector integrity division” would investigate parliamentarians, the civil service, higher education providers and other Commonwealth entities.
As for Mr. Albanese’s criticisms, there are key differences between the divisions in how referrals are made and whether public hearings can take place.
Referrals to the Public Division can only be made by certain people, including the Attorney General, the Minister responsible for the agency under investigation, Commonwealth Integrity Office holders and certain Members of Parliament.
Meanwhile, investigations by the law enforcement division can be dismissed by anyone, including members of the public.
Similarly, hearings relating to the Law Enforcement Division would be public. By contrast, hearings relating to the division of the public sector, including politicians and their aides, “must be held in private”, the government bill says.
Lots of vaccines in Fiji – but not all
As Victoria and NSW ease some of the last remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the country, the health crisis received surprisingly little airtime during the debate, with only the economic implications of the pandemic being raised by questioners.
Although neither leader took the opportunity to comment on or condemn Australia’s response to COVID-19 at home, Mr Morrison highlighted his government’s efforts overseas, saying:
“In Fiji, we vaccinated the whole country.”
But while Australia has undoubtedly played an important role in providing vaccines to Fiji – which has a double-dose vaccination rate of 94.5% for people aged 18 and over – it has not. been the only contributor of inoculations to the Pacific nation.
According to the Australian government’s Indo-Pacific Center for Health Security, more than half a million doses of the vaccine had been delivered to Fiji courtesy of Australia by July 2021.
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes added in February that an additional 530,000 doses of the vaccine would be provided to the island nation by the end of 2022, bringing Australia’s total contribution to 1.6 million. doses.
It should be noted, however, that these additional doses were provided in partnership with UNICEF and New Zealand.
Other countries have also made significant contributions to Fiji’s vaccine supply: the UK sent 12,000 doses to Fiji in March 2021, the same month in which 100,000 doses arrived in the country of india.
Additionally, the United States provided 150,080 vaccine doses to Fiji in July, while 56,000 arrived via Japan in August.
Principal Investigators: Jack Kerr, David Campbell, Matt Martino, Sonam Thomas and Ellen McCutchan