Making Up Facts
Shane Watling, a member of the Liberal Party and production manager at Wespine Industries, had an article published by the ABC on its “unleashed” section today.
The link to the article is here.
In what can only be an oversight, it is hoped, the article is riddled with errors, many of which are wrong to the point that they are appear to be fabricated to try to support Mr Watling’s prejudices.
I am taking this opportunity to look at the errors of fact and in doing so, hope to alert the ABC and others to the importance of checking and then sticking to the facts.
In terms of Mr Watling’s story, I highlight some claims in his story and my comments or the facts are in blue below each quote:
- “On paper the Australian economy is in great shape. With unemployment at around 5.1 per cent, inflation at 2.2 per cent, and GDP growing at 4.2 per cent, our economy is the envy of the world.”
For the record, the unemployment rate is 5.2%, inflation is 1.2% and GDP growth is 4.3%. And by the way, not since 1964, has Australia simultaneously enjoyed this mix of fundamentals with a mortgage rate as low as 6.85%.
- “Why is consumer confidence at an all-time low? “
Wrong: the index of consumer sentiment is currently 99.1 points, well above the low of last year, well above the low under 80 reached during the GFC and well above the low that prevailed for several years during the 1991 recession.
- “…this hides the fact that huge parts of the economy and population are struggling with some of the worst trading conditions in living memory.”
This “worst trading conditions in living memory” is not sourced. I have check the business surveys form Dun & Bradstreet, Westpac, NAB, the ABS and Yellow Pages and cannot see where the weakness is. Perhaps Mr Watling can provide a source for this outlandish claim.
- “During the decade or so leading up to the GFC in 2008, households in Australia spent more than they earned.”
That is not correct. There have been only three quarters (ie 9 months) in Australia’s history (data back to 1949) where household spending was more than income. All three observations were in a tight period in 2002 and 2003.
- “So what’s the big deal if the credit card is maxed out – the house we bought for $200k last year is now worth $350k.”
There is no house price series for any city or suburb that shows an annual rise of 75%. Not one. Not ever. Looks like another made up fact.
- “Australians are currently saving an unprecedented 10-12 per cent of their income.”
The most recent household saving ratio is 9.3% but I will let that pass. That said, the same data base I cited above, back to 1949, and for every year between 1949 and 1987, the household saving ratio was above 9.3% – every year for 38 years – so much for “unprecedented.”
- “those of us in the private sector live in a different world. We live in a world where 30 per cent or more of consumer demand has disappeared.”
I am not aware of any industry, in any state at any time that has seen a 30% fall in consumer demand. Looks like another made up fact from Mr Watling.
Scary stuff that a someone would write this stuff, more scary that the ABC would publish it.
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