We have never had it so good. John Menadue

The election campaign by the Murdoch media and the Coalition suggests that the Australian economy is in a mess. But almost all the facts suggest that we have one of the best performing economies in the world whether we measure it by economic growth, debt, inflation or employment.

Now a survey just released by the University of Canberra’s highly regarded National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) tells us that Australian households have never been better off. The NATSEM report tells us:

  • Australian households are 15% better off since 2008 when the Rudd Government was elected.
  • ‘The gain in the last five years is a remarkable outcome, given the weakness of the global economy through the global financial crisis.’
  • ‘The strongest contributor to the cost of living increases in the last year were utilities (+14%), health (+6.2%) and education (+5.5%) whilst costs were eased by mortgage interest (-14.5%) and audio-visual (-5.1%).
  • The standard of living (disposable income less cost of living) has risen by 2.6% p.a. under both the Rudd and Gillard Governments, the same as under the Howard Government.

Whilst the ‘average’ household has been a lot better off, economic prosperity has favoured high income households. NATSEM said ‘The strong gains in the standard of living have not been equally spread across income levels.’ A particular reason for this is that the cost of living changes for the lowest quintile level over five years was 2.4% because of relatively high expenditures on rent and utilities. The highest quintile income group had cost of living increases of only 1.5% because it was particularly assisted by low mortgage payments.

This story of quite ‘remarkable’ increases in the standard of living of Australian households over the last five years is in stark contrast to the campaign of the Murdoch media, the Coalition and business interests.

Our economy is very strong. Our standard of living is rising steadily. But the government seems unable to make the case about its performance.

Its failure is overwhelmingly political.

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