Australia’s first recession in almost 29 years will be a consequence of the government treating us as a society rather than an economy. The government’s task is to impress upon the people the gravity of what they were spared.

“Notwithstanding the success of the health measures that we have put in place, they have come at a significant cost.”
The government’s task, as the economy begins the long march back to recovery, is to impress upon the people the gravity of what they were spared.
It is a situation not unlike that which faced Labor as Australia emerged from the global financial crisis.
Labor’s stimulus spending helped keep the economy out of recession and unemployment under 6 per cent.
Yet all people noticed, helped along by a non-cooperative Opposition, was the end state of the budget and the unintended and tangential consequences of rushing out a lot of money in a hurry, such as cheques going to dead people.
Not that different to the anomalies associated with some of today’s measures, such as JobKeeper paying some people more than they earned before.
In his memoir entitled The Good Fight, Swan wrote of the political challenge he and Rudd faced: “The ‘curse’ of our emergency measures was that they had actually worked and the community was never exposed to the trauma they were being protected from. This was a challenge I would be up against every day for the rest of my time as Treasurer.”
Frydenberg’s challenge is greater insofar as it involves a stage two trying to salvage an economy and that will not be without more pain.
The government long ago gave up on its hope that things would snap back after about six months and is settling in for a recovery that will take years.
On Wednesday, it postponed until July 23 (and after the Eden-Monaro byelection) plans to release in June an updated set of budget forecasts.
The delay was deemed necessary to take into account what now looms as significant changes to JobKeeper. Weeks ago, the government was dismissing the notion of wholesale change on the basis the program would be pretty much wound up by the time meaningful change could be implemented.
Now, Frydenberg said the JobKeeper review would consider whether the flat rate of $1500 per fortnight should be changed to stop overpayment, and whether businesses that receive the payment should continue to receive it for the full six months if their balance sheets have recovered.
None of this will be easy but it’s the price of humanity.