This week we featured a ‘Crossfire’ Debate, discussing the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to survive the current deficit. Political expert Dr Ian Cook faced off with business reporter Matthew McKenzie in a very passionate and at times heated discussion, with great insight into Australia’s political and economic future.
Dr Cook asked Mr McKenzie if he sees the Governemt’s handling of the Corona Virus as a failure or success?
His response: “I don’t think this is something we should consider a failure or success, I don’t know if we should be blaming politicians…”
“When I think back to a few months ago the numbers we got were terrible, the Economy Intelligence Unit were saying maybe 100 million deaths around the world,”
“The fact that we’ve managed to keep it down to the level that we have so far is a very fortunate thing,” he commented.
The focus then shifted towards Victoria’s current lockdown with Mr Mckenzie alluding to a failure in leadership and Victorian’s letting their guard down against the potential second wave (and now in full force).
“The economic consequences of the lockdown are troubling, and I can’t see how we come out of a lockdown particularly well with the sense the virus will return,” Dr Cook said.
“So what do we do? Go back into full lockdown?”
“Can we afford that? The price has already been incredibly high…”
Mr Mckenzie responded: “If you let this spread through the economy, I suspect the economic damage will be and prolonged and very substantial, which is why the quick action of a lockdown works,”
Dr Cook said the resulting deficit is an issue in which the Liberal party will turn around and say it’s about running it back in.
He went on to say that governments will really have no room for any economic or other initiatives because they will be concerned about paying off the deficit we’re got ourselves into.
“This deficit is deep at the state and federal levels,” said Dr Cook.
“…And temporary,” Mckenzie added.
“We were almost in surplus before the pandemic hit and at some point revenue will get back to the trend it was on and it may take a couple of years,”
“The deficit is so high because we’ve taken action to protect people right now when it was really necessary; when it was an emergency,”
The pair bickered over how to reduce the deficit, with welfare services coming to the forefront.
Dr Cook believes welfare services will need to be reduced as a result, meanwhile Mr McKenzie said that’s just reducing them to the level they were before the pandemic.
They agreed this should not be about targeting vulnerable members of the community who rely on welfare services as a means for survival, but disagreed on the government’s COVID-19 economic polices.
Mr McKenzie concluded by saying let’s be thoughtful about this analysis.
“People wanted us to be risk averse, we’ve saved lives and it looks so far that the economic impact has been contained,”