Media biases on display over Australian budget

Media biases on display over Australian budget. By Chris Mitchell.

The federal budget editions of the major newspapers and websites on Wednesday told readers a lot about how editors see their markets.

Center media:

At the national papers, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review, the best commentary was underpinned by the papers’ views about what is good for the economy. Both align with their readers by backing economic growth, business investment, more efficient taxation and low inflation. The editors know a rising economic tide that floats all boats is the best way to lift the poor and unemployed.

Left media:

At the ABC, Guardian Australia, and the Nine city papers, more space was, as usual, given to demands for ever larger spending on welfare. Like many look-at-me comments by reporters on social media, journalists of the Left are keen on parading their good hearts but less interested in hard heads. Their readers seem to share the approach.

Most news sources linked last week’s budget surplus to former Labor Treasurer and PM Paul Keating, the last ALP Treasurer to produce a surplus and the last hard-headed Labor Treasurer. Incumbent Jim Chalmers, who wrote a PhD on Keating, has now flagged a $4bn surplus, the first by any treasurer since Liberal Peter Costello’s 10 surpluses. …

The Australian left used to know better:

Unlike the Greens and modern ABC journalists, for whom campaigning on higher welfare payments has become an article of faith, Keating always said the best form of welfare was a job. He wanted budget repair — and micro-economic reforms that opened up our cosseted economy — to set the nation up for what turned into 30 years of uninterrupted growth.

It was no political parlour game but a plan to modernise the economy. That was why he and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1985 lowered the top tax rate from 61 to 49 per cent and lowered the intermediate rate from 46 to 40 per cent.

Keating later reduced company taxes twice — from 49 to 39 per cent in 1988 and down to 33 per cent in 1993. The subsequent boost in national productivity from tax reform kept Australia out of recession for three decades.