Can you run an ironman and run a country?

I’m not generally a fan of political scandals: at worst, they are spurious, at best, they involve random exposure and punishment of misdeeds that usually go unchecked. But there’s one big exception for me, and that’s when political scandals intersect my sporting interests.

Last year, the high-profile case was that of Republican VP nominee, Paul Ryan, who claimed to have run marathons in his younger days, with times in the 2:50s, an impressive achievement at any age. It turned out that he had run a single marathon, in 4:01:25. As all runners know, no one who has put the effort to run a marathon makes that kind of mistake. Ryan’s time is better than either of mine (4:37 and 4:24), but I’m aiming to break four hours in the next year or two, and I have a good few decades on him.

Now there’s Tony Abbott, who seems to have claimed expenses for everything from weddings to music festivals. But the only one that really interests me is the $2100 he claimed when he went in the 2011 Port Macquarie Ironman. I couldn’t find a time for 2011, but he did the 2010 event (3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle 42.2 k run) in 14 hours, whereas I took 8 hours to do half as much in the Cairns 70.3 in June.

What strikes me about this is not so only the expenses issue (although that obviously irks me) as the training time that must be involved, and the implications for the rest of Abbott’s commitments. Preparing for a marathon or a 70.3 while working full time, even in a flexible job like mine, requires putting most other things, like social engagements, on hold. If he’s training for a full ironman and managing the commitments inherent in being a politician, it’s hard to believe he can have any significant amount of time free to study policy issues and consider the best responses (as I know, you can’t think about these things while you’re running an endurance event – there’s not enough blood flow to the brain to think about much more than keeping your legs moving).

Looking at Abbott’s actual approach to policy, the three-word slogan approach is unsurprising. He can’t have had the spare time or energy for anything better. That worked fine in Opposition, but it hasn’t been great preparation for government.

150 thoughts on “Can you run an ironman and run a country?

  1. @martin

    PrQ banned “@ngus C@meron” some time ago and as “Fergus” is his “twin brother” he has been speared too.

  2. @Fran Barlow I have various family living at Winmalee and one lost the lot, house pets the whole kit and kaboodle. Sure the conditions are unusual for this year but the fact that they lived on a north/south ridge with bush to the west was always questionable.

    The Blue Mts have many such developments, roads running along ridges flanked by steep heavily timbered slopes.

    I’m not denying climate change just saying that in this instance other factors need to be considered.

  3. …and perhaps instead of complaining that they are now having to work harder and longer (than in opposition), they should work smarter; isn’t that the advice they so love dishing out while cutting funds?

  4. @rog

    I’m not denying climate change just saying that in this instance other factors need to be considered.

    I wasn’t saying for certain that the 93 outbreaks of fire we say on Thursday were caused by climate change either. I made it clear to the kids that there was simply no way of anyone proving that.

    OTOH, it was clear that climate change would nurture many of the predisposing conditions for fires, and ensure that sufficient conditions for such fires would occur more frequently, and with greater intensity, and that when they did, they would impose upon us all much as these outbreaks have if not worse.

    The question at each moment a bushfire breaks out, I added, should not be was this fire the result of climate change?, (which we will probably never know) but rather how much more frequently would I like fires like this or worse to occur? For every rational person, the answer should be no more frequently at all.

    This bushfire is a taste of what is in store, and even if one could somehow prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it had nothing at all to do with climate change, the point would be entirely moot because the general claim would stand. That’s why discussing climate change is germane.

    Where the people you know who sadly became victims built/bought is germane to the losses they suffered, but plainly not to the aetiology of the fire outbreaks.

    Indeed, even if one could demonstrate conclusively that arson was a factor in some fires, the climatic conditions would still be an important factor, because the conditions make arson far more devastating.

  5. Good on Adam Bandt and the Greens for raising the policy issues of climate denial in the bushfire context, and calling for the setup of a Disaster Management Fund. There was much po-faced tut-tutting by various media commentators that he should have shown more sensitivity and “waited a couple of days”, but the immaturity of the MSM was really on show in their attempt to decouple the personal from the political. And note the sloppy and unprofessional distortions in the MSM (Samantha Maiden on The Drum program Fri night at 23.06 actually said the Greens were “blaming these bushfires on Tony Abbott”).

    As a politician Bandt’s entitled to draw us back to the big picture – it’s easily balanced by the tea and sympathy from small picture people who are most comfortable with tragedy as a personal story. However, it would not surprise me if there is a lot of support for Bandt’s view and more attention to climate issue in society generally as a result of the latest disaster.

  6. @kevin1

    No question about it higher temperatures in the southern half of Australia look like making bushfires fiercer when all the factors of drying out, wind speed (maybe no greater but still there will be high winds on v. hot days) and how and where people build and live are taken into account. This invites the question, not least of economists like JQ, as to how the extra dollar is best spent; e.g. on reducing CO2 emissions in Australia, reducing CO2 emissions where it is much cheaper to do so (there was an interesting piece in Friday’s AFR suggesting that the Coalition could buy a hell of a lot more CO2 elimination by buying UN certified credits than by anything its direct action plan was going to buy in Australia, or perhaps making a radical change to the usual vegetation in and near new housing on the outskirts of our major cities (and building fireproof structures). The latter would only be supplementary probably but it is worth serious thinking about if we are not to see developers recognising the fire dangers and concentrating their defensive efforts on making sure there is nothing growing of any size and certainly no eucalypts or other inflammable natives.

  7. Its important to not engage in blame game, which nobody can win. RFS have adopted the slogan “planning to make a plan is not a plan” and Govts should follow suit.

  8. The significance of climate change to weather related events including fire are apparently unsuitable for discussion before, during or after any that impacts people’s lives or property. So when and where is appropriate for it to be discussed? As far as I can tell, preferably nowhere and never?

    I noticed that Christine Milne’s remarks were selectively edited down to one line, to make it appear she didn’t think she didn’t think climate change has anything to do with bushfire frequency or intensity – and to make it appear she is at odds with Bandt. A bit like quoting someone who says they accept that climate change is real but editing out the follow up “but there are dissenting scientists and climate’s always changing and it’s uncertain and we should not commit taxpayer funds until we are more certain… etc” (clear code for “I think climate science is wrong”).

    If the public discussion can be constrained within bounds that prevent the public being aware of the real world consequences to ordinary Australians of anthropogenic climate change, the illusion that doing nothing about it is doing the public’s will can be maintained.

    I think we are being treated like mugs by Tony Abbott and his team; they are conducting government business and policy development on the basis that climate science is crap but are not prepared to tell us so.

    It’s like an open secret that the new Federal Government gives lip service to acceptance of the science on climate when they don’t and don’t. It’s obvious – if unstated – that Abbott and his team have no confidence in the science on climate. Yet Abbott presented his team as one that can do emissions reductions cheaper and more effectively; he did not campaign on the basis that climate science is wrong.

    I think it’s not just vital that we know just where Abbott stands on this as a matter of being honest with Australia, but because Australia will be sending delegates to future climate treaty negotiations. If the working assumption is that the science on climate is wrong, those delegates will unable to act in good faith – to achieve ambitious agreements to limit future damage from AGW – but to limit the ‘costs’ to Australia from ambitious international emissions reductions agreements.

    I don’t think the media is incapable of exposing the true extent of the disdain and contempt the science of climate change held by PM Abbott and his senior Ministers – although they are up against a slick supply of stock answers that fail to answer or reveal when they can get any to answer these kinds of questions at all; I think journalists choose to let those stock sidesteps pass them by. Some because they simply are not well informed themselves and a slick pollie can run circles around them. But that doesn’t explain a culture of not questioning.

    The Australian public deserves to know where PM Abbott really stands on this.

  9. @Ken Fabian

    I too would like to have the Coalition’s thinking about the science, economics, diplomacy and policy implications of AGW though it is not trivial to note that the idea might be fallacious, a bit like the “mandate” after a general election. It is probably an evolving mess to the extent that more than the relevant minister and the PM are doing the thinking.

    So, who matters and what do they think? Why would you not take Greg Hunt’s long record (20 years plus it is said) at face value?

    And, genuine question, not merely rhetorical: why do you say that those who make an economic or other case for not spending a lot of taxpayer funds until it seems likely to do something actually good for the taxpayers (or their descendants) are putting arguments like that as a “clear code” for “I think the climate science is wrong”? Couldn’t they say, with a good deal of logic on their side, “why do you recommend spending a lot of taxpayers’ money without any proven likelihood that it will do them any good?”

  10. In addition to the failure to address climate change, there is the failure to address the issue of fire-proof and flood-proof development and re-development.

    Nobody seems to question the issue of having urban and semi-urban development always conform to high flood-proofing and fire-proofing standards.

    I wonder what is the most cost efficient path? Developing almost blindly with no thought about floods and fires or developing with stringent disaster preventation standards? The former is cheaper up front but then large costs are borne later as we react to emergencies and then rebuild often in the wrong place again.

    Nobody seems to be taking the real lessons from these disasters, namely that flood proof and bushfire proof urban planning needs to be seriously addressed. I would suggest that estates which conform to new, very high standards for prevention of damage from flooding and fires should see homeowners able to insure against ALL risks at a very low rate with a national insurance scheme. People who want to live and build elsewhere, subject to the more standard (i.e. low standard) planning rules should pay the full acturially calculated cost for such insurance plus a government levy predicated on the likelihood that they will sooner or later be calling on government rescue services, rebuilding subsidies and so on.

  11. @Ikonoclast
    Good thinking if I may say so. I have been looking for a developer to invest in who is taking seriously the idea of marketing a fire safe house and housing development. It would be one who had seriously good design ideas and wasn’t waiting for their to be a government backed insurance premium incentive to attract people. I would have thought a few select clips from bushfire stories on TV would, after putting off half the audience from the idea of going anywhere but an apartment in the CBD (below suicide pilot level) , get a lot of sensible people to trade an extra room, say, for the security of them, family and family possessions against fire.

    While, if the government took the lead fire and flood might be treated similarly I don’t see that as the way of most developers. There aren’t nearly as many likely development areas which are prone to flooding (or might be in future) as there are fire prone areas, and the worst flood risks are already refused insurance I understand.

    If I were devising government policy I would look for some v. small incentives which might prod developers to have a look at the idea of marketing fire and/or flood safe projects. I would be concerned that the bureaucracy, necessarily recruited initailly largely from generalist public servants would get into an expensive and complex tangle by the time that canny private planners, developers, farmers’ organisations and community groups had all put their cases for special circumstances to be considered. At best their would be rough and ready movement in the right direction. Not my first choice of approach.

  12. Given that the entirety of Australia experienced a new record for the area-averaged maximum temperature (i.e. 40.3C on 2013-01-07) only last summer, with 11 of the 21 hottest days recorded all occurring in January 2013, it isn’t just germane to discuss the ramifications of AGW / climate change and the projected impacts for Australia and the world, it is now a moral imperative, IMVHO. Why isn’t now a good time to reflect upon the reality of the savage impact of bushfires upon Australians, and why shouldn’t we discuss the prospect of making it a more severe and more frequently recurring tragedy? Discussing this is not to dis-respect those who have recently been affected by the tragic events of the bushfires, unless of course the orator tries to make an infantile gesture out of it, and in Adam Brandt’s case, I do not believe that he was doing that in the slightest, whatever Bolt and his ilk might care to say.

    Given the previous Liberal coalition’s propensity to airbrush out of history anything that reflected poorly upon the western Christian tradition of heroic self-improvement against the savage environment (Australia, to be specific), and given that the current cabinet is largely the previous Liberal coalition cabinet, we must be forever on guard against the crushing of unwelcome but honest voices. I for one will only believe the benefit of “direct action” policy on reducing our overall emissions in absolute terms once it happens and is measured by a truly independent authority. Direct action in itself isn’t mistaken, just the double-speak it represents as a Liberal coalition’s name for a policy. Let’s call the charade for what it really is.

  13. Following up on that, the now defunct Climate Commission^fn1 had a very nice report on the previous Australian summer, titled The Angry Summer. Guess the Liberal opposition party of the time must have sh*t their pants at such information being provided to the Australian public, written in an easily comprehensible form.

    fn1: Like any good Phoenix, it rose from the ashes of the incoming government’s first act of belligerence, the defunding of the Climate Commission, the public contributing a cool $1 million to fund it for another year—all donated money. If the disbanding of the Climate Commission wasn’t a symbolic gesture by a government that proclaims contempt for symbolic acts (you know, like saying sorry to the Indigenous people of Australia), I don’t know what is.

  14. @Donald Oats

    I shared your scepticism about the Coalition’s “direct action” policy. I saw it as a way for Turnbull and Hunt, and no doubt a few others supporting them, to get some half-way plausible policy up which allowed the Coalition to simultaneously attack the ALP’s and Greens approach. (What unbelievable incompetence for a lawyer like Gillard to make that “no carbon tax” promise and then, having succumbed to Greens pressure, acknowledged that it was a tax. She should have just said and kept on reiterating that it was just the first stage of an ETS which Howard had eventually propounded. Unbelievable that a lawyer, a person of a verbal profession, should be so ham-fisted).

    Now, however, having heard Hunt on Lateline, I can see that the direct action approach is going to at least attempt rational use of market mechanisms. I don’t remember the details but apparently compeititive bidding is an important part of it.

    No doubt there were many flaws in the Gillard government’s approach, including overcompensating some big emitters and setting the carbon tax too high instead of by reference to Eu trading levels. But the big hole in the scheme was not to recognise the part played by carbon dioxide embodied (notionally if not physically) in imports. To export half our coal to China so it can keep its costs down and export goods to us which close down local businesses and put Australians out of work seems crazy if one doesn’t attempt also to impose a deemed carbon tax on imports.

  15. @Martin #48 – valid point. I am unaware of the time Abbot spends training. I still feel that those individuals with the drive/determination to reach the top (be it business, politics, government, sport etc) can fit more into a day than myself.

    I also dislike the dumb down / lowest common denominator / sound bite / 24 hour news cycle style of politics that has dominated our country for the last 6 or 7 years. I actually prefer politics off the front page unless something substantial is being reported. It certainly seems to be a determined strategy, I just hope Abbot doesn’t take it too far, we all want open and transparent politics for the good of all. Regardless if we agree with policy.

    I am willing to give Abbot a go. He really can’t be any worse than the previous government.

  16. David S, I’d suggest looking at the economies of every other developed nation since the Global Financial Crisis. That will tend to rub in how much worse the current government could be compared to the previous one.

  17. Now this is interesting, an intelligent carbon tax. What gives the idea more credibility is that conservatives in the GOP are recommending it, for a variety of reasons, one being that they need to arrest or turn their political direction from crazy suicide missions.

    George Schultz has been reported as recommending the GOP to run with it.

    Should the US conservatives develop or adopt a carbon tax as policy initiative Australian LNP could find themselves well and truly up the proverbial.

  18. A bit more on the US carbon tax proposal

    Haw stressed that the government should not keep a penny of the carbon tax but return all money collected to American consumers. “We think this is the American way. It offers people a choice,” he said. “I will make some changes or I’ll stick it in my pocket.”

    The libertarian philosophy of allowing the free market to play out is what is attracting some Republicans to the proposal. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, called the CCL’s Santa Clarita chapter and asked for a sit-down with the group three weeks ago. “He thought it was a very interesting idea,” Haw said, but told them it wouldn’t be approved by the current Congress.

    Former South Carolina Republican Congressman Bob Inglis favors a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Some pundits say his devotion to the idea cost him his job.

    Many Republicans privately say they favor the idea but have signed pledges not to raise taxes or fear political repercussions if they went public, members of the group said.

  19. Hi Ronald B. It is true our economy is strong compared to other OECD Countries. I think China has more to do with that than the previous government. We have all heard of the “2 speed” economy. Wayne Swan was a joke, who was lucky the mining boom was staggering to an end. I rate the previous government poorly based on the terrible record of effective implementation of policy. It is one thing to have a nice idea, if you cannot implement it, then the value of those ideas are diminished. I believe good government needs good ideas, consults properly with cabinet / stakeholders and in my idealistic view implement policy that is not just a political grab for points. I don’t think either side of politics have proven to be great against this criteria.

  20. David S, I’m pretty sure that the Chinese stimulus took place in China. It was the Australian stimulus that occurred here. It’s hard to see why you think events in China would have more of an effect here than events here. For one thing there is a considerable water gap between Australia and China. Also China and Australia have separate currencies which is apparently very significant thing indeed, fiscally speaking.

  21. Ikonoclast, I expect you agree that a government that does not have confidence in climate change science – and is operating on the basis that it’s wrong – will be incapable of planning ahead for the expected consequence of climate change, such as increased risks from fire and flood. If it is the case that Abbott and team are operating on that basis we should be allowed to know it.

    Not telling us what they think or intend smacks of paternalism; no need to confuse or worry the public, or debate the “controversies” in the public arena. If they are engaged in eliminating climate change as a policy consideration, whilst promoting policies that will make the problem worse and constrain our nation’s capacity to deal with it in a rational, before the worst happens, I think we should be considered grown up enough to tell the truth to. We don’t even know what if any “sufficient evidence” could cause them to reconsider because they are so opaque about what they really think. Do they even have contingency plans for the emergence of a “sufficient confidence” consensus?

    I think we are being treated like mugs – or perhaps like punters from a bookie’s perspective(ie there to be fleeced).

    Mainstream media is aiding and abetting the LNP in keeping Australians from knowing where they really stand and what they really intend. A nudge and wink type agreement between Abbott’s government and journalists to allow them to not say what they mean when it’s an open secret – reveals a contempt for the Australian public by both Abbott’s team and Australian journalism.

  22. @rog

    Jim Hansen, the guy that the Republicans have publicly denounced on numerous occasions, is a major promoter of the notion of a carbon dividend, where all collected monies from a charge on carbon emissions are paid back to the public as a dividend. No doubt the Republicans are now trying to claim ownership of the idea as if they invented it, but they didn’t.

    Given that Republicans such as Senator Inhofe have said such crazy, and quite frankly dishonest, things about Jim Hansen, all as part of delaying or preventing some action on emissions, I fail to have much confidence that this time, they are going to get on board and do something about it. If they do though, I agree with you that it leaves Abbott’s direct action and repeal of the carbon tax as looking pretty stupid, even by conservative’s standards.

  23. @rog

    In the US this is called “fee and dividend”. Reagan-appointee and McCain supporter James Hanson favoured this kind of arranegement.

  24. Ronald, very astute observation. I was actually talking about Chinese demand for our resources and the flow on effect this has on our economy. I believe the Australian stimulus was full of good political point scoring, however largely ineffectual. The cost far outweighed the benefit. I believe in government stimulus, however $9 billion dollars in hand outs, massively overpriced school halls, insulation schemes that kill people (another good idea poorly implemented) does not warrant good policy in my opinion. Let’s hope we don’t need another lot of stimulus. I hope I never see government spending like that again in my lifetime. Build roads, hospitals, affordable housing, ports, invest in better public transport. These are assets that provide stimulus and real returns on investment. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on opinions of the previous government.

  25. @Fran Barlow fee and dividend is necessary because federal taxes are so progressive. 47% of the US population pay no federal incomes taxes, as I recall. compensating tax cuts are a challenge for people who do not pay taxes.

  26. @Jim Rose

    The 47% figure is misleading, because it overlooks the payment of other state income taxes and levies. It also covers people serving in the military who don’t pay taxes and of course there are various taxes on goods in various states too.

    Moreover, the very low wages available to unskilled and semi-skilled workers and the low levels of minimum wage mean there really isn’t a lot of scope for imposing taxes on them.

    If you did go the carbon tax route you’d probably need, at a minimum, to find a way of compensating those for whom a tax cut wouldn’t be a lot of value. The 47% figure is a net figure (tax v rebates) so cutting taxes might help those who are net non-payers but those below the threholds would need payments or some other benefits.

  27. There’s a handy article on the 47% claim here

    Note here:

    Firstly, some of those people who did not pay income tax still paid payroll taxes, for social security and Medicare, so that it was only 18.1% of households that did not pay any income or payroll taxes. Given that there are sales taxes, state property taxes and state income taxes these people are still paying some tax – at what point you are deemed to be taking personal responsibility is subjective.

    Of the 18.1% paying no income or payroll taxes, more than half (10.3% of all households) were elderly, so retired people who may well have paid income and payroll taxes, as well as others, during their working lives. Of the remainder, 6.9% of all households did not pay income or payroll taxes, essentially because they were poor, leaving 1% of “others” who did not pay either of these two types of taxes. Presumably, within the “others” category would fall the likes of six of the 400 US tax filers in 2009 with the highest adjusted gross income (at least $77m), who, according to Internal Revenue Service studies, paid no US income tax, and the 19,551 US households with income above $200,000 who owed no US or foreign income tax.

  28. NSW RFS Commissioner is quietly saying that this is the worst brushfire scenario ever. Normally fires are in Dec/Jan with rain to follow, here we are in October with possibly months of hot dry winds. RFS are saying the fire front has potential to spread north and south threatening Southern Highands, Sydney basin and Hunter district.

  29. David S, why do you believe that Chinese demand for resources had more to do with Australia’s good economy than events here? The mining sector contracted more than the rest of the economy after the Global Financial Crisis so it wasn’t Chinese demand that kept Australia out of recession.

  30. Ronald, there is a wealth of reading out there on the Australian economy post gfc. The strong banking sector and mining always rate highly. Try these

    Even the parliamentary library rate these 2 factors higher than the stimulus package

    I will bite though and ask. What did keep our economy strong?

  31. Hi Ronald. I do not dispute that mining exports decreased immeadiately following the gfc. It is also important to note that the position dropped rapidly, then picked up equally rapidly. What caused this reversal?

    This graph also does not show the value of committed capital investment in mining / oil and gas that helped keep the economy ticking over.

    The Parliamentary Library research paper in my second link above states

    China is in the course of urbanisation and rapid infrastructure reconstruction and its demand for energy and minerals, especially for these products from Australia, expanded in 2009. The value of energy and mineral exports to China accounted for the bulk of Australia’s merchandise exports (80 per cent) in 2009. In 2007, the value of these exports was only 57 per cent of exports. While China’s manufacturing production fell the most on record during the global recession, its energy and mineral needs from Australia increased more rapidly than its economy.

    I understand this to mean that following the gfc (when to so called stimulus was supposed to kick in) China was powering ahead in its use of resources from Australia. This point is evident in the graph with the sharp increase in whatever the units are on the y axis dollars or quantities of resources.

  32. David S, the graph is supposed to be quarterly ore exports in millions of Australian dollars. Sorry that’s not very clear.

    So do you agree with me that mining was not responsible for Australia not entering a recession in 2008 and 2009?

  33. Hi Ronald, it is a very one dimensional view on mining total sales. As per my previous post although total sales went down, over the post gfc period the proportion of exports categorised as energy and mineral exports went up (from 57% in 2007 to 80% in 2009). This illustrates the importance of mining to our economy and the fact that we avoided the bulk of the gfc. Our strong financial sector, not laden with the same degree of toxic debt also kept us in a stronger position. The government stimulus would have also had an impact, I would just argue not as strong as the mining / finance sector. I just cannot reconcile the previous government claiming responsibility for avoiding the recession.

  34. David S, the mining sector contracted after the GFC. How did a contracting sector of the economy keep Australia out of recession? Please explain in very simple words so I can understand how an industry losing over a quarter of its revenue stimulates an economy. I’m quite curious as to how that works.

  35. @Ronald Brak

    Even accepting, arguendo.that Chinese demand for Australian minerals kept us out of the GFC, where did that demand come from? China also pursued stimulatory polices during the GFC, so David S is actually arguing that Chinese stimulus is effective but Australian stimulus is ineffective. Personally I suspect it has something to do with the direction the water swirls when you flush.

  36. Alan, good point we are all guilty of bias. However, your argument suggests that any kind of stimulus is as effective as any other kind of stimulus. I don’t know any of the details of the Chinese stimulus package. I know Chinese manufacturing took a hit (reduced demand from US and Europe). However energy and resource imports went up. That may well have been a result of some kind of Chinese stimulus. I think the Australian stimulus was a knee jerk reaction cash handout vote buying exercise. Was it $9bn on cash handouts? What a fantastic use of our money investing in now and the future!

    Ronald, my same point remains, mining grew as a portion of our exports over that time period.

    Kind of funny how this started with a question of ironman training! I have enjoyed the to and fro all the same. However the water in my toilet still flushes clockwise! Or is it counter clockwise??

  37. Alan, yes, it’s the old, “Stimulus doesn’t work because it wasn’t stimlus that kept Australia out of recession it was actually stimulus,” arguement. But I don’t think grasshopper is ready for that. One must first learn to walk before one can fall over. But I am completely sure that David S will realize that he was wrong to think that the mining industry kept Australia from having a recession and even now is coming to the conclusion that it’s not possible for a contracting mining sector to stimulate an economy and he will change his belief. After all, that is how things work on the internet.

  38. @Ronald Brak

    I expect David S to change his position at any moment. Sadly it will probably be to argue that mining did not contract or even if it did contract that it could still keep the economy afloat or that the wind was north northwest and very like a camel, a weasel, a whale and therefore…

  39. Gents, do you understand mining can contract (total dollars) and still represent a larger proportion of our exports? That is my whole point which neither of you have addressed. If I contribute $100 dollars of an overall total of $200. My $100 contracts to $80 (the decrease you are fixated on Ronald) but the overall decreased to $100 then the proportion has increased. Very simple I know, but you have not responded to my point at all. I am open to contradiction, but you are not responding to my point at all. The condascending tones in your posts belittle your argument if you cannot respond to the points I have raised.


  40. More to the point, mining exports contracted relative to GDP, and therefore acted as a contractionary shock, additional to any shock arising from other export industries

  41. Hi John Q. Very good point. Comparison relative to GDP is a more effective measure than that of relative export sales. Although mining exports contracted, mining investment as a share of GDP grew.

    This can be seen in this RBA produced graph

    I am not against government stimulus and believe it has its place. I think the combined effect of mining and our strong financial insitutions had far more to do with Australia’s very quick recovery from the GFC than the government stimulus.

    Ronald, yes $80 is less than $100.

    Alan, yes even a contracting export industry can be important in keping an economy afloat, as the increasing share of investment of GDP shows.

  42. David, are you saying that while mining exports contracted investment in mining increased by more than the amount that exports contracted and so the mining industry was actually expanding after the GFC and so and helped Australia avoid a recession? If so, did you check to see if there was an increase in investment in mining after the GFC that more than offset its decrease in revenue? Personally I find that if you look things up now and then it can save you the trouble of believing in things and you can actually know instead.

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