The Treasurer’s claims that the International Monetary Fund’s confronting forecasts for the Australian economy don’t take into account the legislated JobKeeper wage subsidies were false.
These revelations on Seven News won’t reassure Australians that Josh Frydenberg is being upfront and honest about the economy or that he knows what he’s talking about.
In difficult times like these the Treasurer needs to level with people, not just make things up as he goes along.
Yesterday, speaking about the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, he claimed:
“as the IMF a couple of weeks ago were finalising their numbers, it was before the JobKeeper payment was announced” – press conference, Wednesday 15 April 2020.
Today he repeated:
“when they were finalising their package, the JobKeeper payment had not been announced” – Today Show, Thursday 16 April 2020.
But the IMF has subsequently issued a statement to Seven News which makes it clear that:
“Our projections for Australia take into consideration the large and beneficial JobKeeper program” – IMF, Thursday 16 April 2020.
Josh Frydenberg should have already known that, given the Outlook itself says “The estimates and projections are based on statistical information available through April 7, 2020”, more than a week after the JobKeeper program was announced on 30 March.
This is a stunning rebuke.
Either the Treasurer knew his claims were false and he repeated them anyway, or he didn’t understand the IMF forecasts – either way that’s troubling.
In order for Australians to work together, and for the Opposition to engage constructively with the Government, we need to have confidence that Josh Frydenberg is being upfront and honest about the challenges ahead.
The Treasurer should not be adding to the substantial uncertainty which already exists around forecasts for jobs, the economy and the future.