Preparing for Problems Ahead

Parliament has resumed and it feels like we never left. The temperature in the respective chambers is already heated and seems to be rising.

Labor are reeling after a series of own goals that can all, in one way or another, be linked back to Julia Gillard. Her unqualified support for Craig Thomson, political adoption of Peter Slipper and broken promises call her judgment into question.

And it is not only the Australian people who are coming to that conclusion. Media reports suggest a growing number of her own colleagues are asking difficult questions too.

Like a hungry wolf that detects wounded prey, Kevin Rudd keeps circling, helping himself to snippets of flesh while keeping the prey alive. It is reported that he now has the support of 45 of his colleagues to reclaim the top job. He only needs another handful or so to ‘have the numbers’.

While the Labor Party are struggling in their own entanglements, the issues confronting the country proceed relentlessly.

Our national debt continues to rise, the boats keep coming, increases in cost of living are hurting families and people are scared of losing their jobs.

Now there are some new worries on the international horizon that could impact Australia. There are escalating international tensions between Japan and China. Intelligence reports suggest that Iran may be only weeks away from successfully enriching uranium.

The US economic recovery has stalled and Europe’s economy is parlous, while Australian Labor continues to proceed down the same path that has brought those economies to their knees.

While the optimistic economic outlook is peddled by those trying to keep confidence in the system, a more balanced approach questions how long the game of monetary musical chairs can continue.

The world has undergone a 60-year credit expansion that has brought abnormal growth, fuelled by easy money. Abnormal growth ultimately needs to be countered by a time of relative underperformance in order to revert to the mean. That’s a complicated way of saying we face a major economic slowdown to bring things back into balance.

Unfortunately, governments across the world are refusing to confront this new reality. They are so obsessed with maintaining the unsustainable that they risk destroying the financial system in the process.

Without printing money in such quantities that will ultimately mean it has little or no value, there is no hope that major countries can repay their debts.

The smart operators who avoided the debts to begin with, or those who took their medicine early, have set themselves up to prosper in the difficult times ahead.

Regrettably, Australia isn’t in that boat. Only five years ago we had no national debt and a grand pool of savings. It has all been squandered with our nation’s credit card limit lifted to $300 billion. The chances of paying that off in less than a generation is somewhere between Buckley’s and none.

Being unprepared for the uncertainties ahead means we are more likely to commit the same mistakes in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable. With Labor in charge, spending will only increase, business will continue to struggle and borrowings will grow.

In short, they will plunder from tomorrow in order to shore themselves up for today.

This is an outcome none of us can afford. The case for fiscal restraint needs to be made – not just for Australian families but for our governments, both state and federal.

The implications of not doing so could be dire for us all.

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