In January 2013, the International Monetary Fund declared the Howard government to be the most ‘wasteful spending government in the history of Australia’. It has also been argued that his tax cuts and lavish handouts caused untold structural damage to the Australian economy.
Just before the election of 2007, the then ALP leader, Kevin Rudd pronounced that “this sort of reckless spending must stop!” He could not foresee that a year later the global financial crisis would require substantial spending to keep people in jobs. Although he was pilloried by the press and Opposition, Australia did not go into recession. Still, it was a close-run thing. Highly-respected economist Saul Eslake commented that if Rudd had spent too little it would have been far more damaging than spending too much. He argued that Labor got it right when it came to the big calls.
Now Scott Morrison has had to go against the grain of Liberal Party ideology. Smaller government and balanced budgets have had to be jettisoned as the country finds itself in crisis again, only this time facing something far worse. Like Mr Rudd he is generally making the right calls but this time the press and the opposition have been in lock-step.