2019: A year of fake growth

By Kelvin Thomson, National Media Spokesperson, Sustainable Australia Party

We’ve just had another bout of breathless reporting from journalists, economists and commentators about our economic growth, accompanying the release of the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. Remarkably, people who ought to know better continue to talk about GDP, but make no mention of GDP per capita.

In Australia’s case, nearly all our growth comes from population growth. This is fake growth. If more people come and live in your street, an economist or a journalist is likely to tell you “your street is richer”, having added up the wealth of everyone living in the street. But it doesn’t make you personally any richer. Indeed you are likely to be worse off, given the prospect of more traffic in your street, trees being cut down for extra dwellings, and more competition for open space.

For journalists and commentators to keep reporting GDP, without reporting GDP per capita, is breathtakingly dishonest. People are interested in knowing the size of the cake, but they also want to know how many people it is being shared out amongst. Ignoring the latter is like reporting one team’s score in a football match in great detail, but saying nothing at all about the other team’s score! Or reporting the distance an athlete ran, but not the time it took them.

Of course it would be even better if we moved on from using economic growth to using more useful indicators of performance. Greta Thunberg was right at the United Nations to call “endless economic growth” a fairytale. It is a fairytale. Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has pointed out that GDP fails to capture the impact of climate change. It is hard to see how we can launch an effective attack on climate change while we make GDP our key performance indicator.

And, as has been pointed out many times, it is full of flaws as a performance indicator. As Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir noted recently, if a man has sex with a prostitute rather than his wife, GDP is increased. That doesn’t make it a good idea.

Prime Minister Jacobsdottir, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have put forward a ”well-being” agenda as an alternative to GDP. It is much more likely to improve our lives, AND save the planet, than the Ponzi scheme of population growth fuelled never-ending expansion we are on.


  1. The language is weak.

    They should be screaming MSM are elites scamming and selling out Australians for their own benefit.

    • SA are taking warm lettuce to a cage fight, determined to flog the purveyors of corrupted narratives to death. “Splot, splat, split…take that you naughty neoliberal behemoth!”

      Then SA wants to rise and unite those in the nation who feel that we should never seek to upset a crowd that has gathered to admire the Emperor’s new clothes. Because while mass immigration is sinking our society we should never seek to be anything else but incipit and tepid.

      • I agree they need a stronger message, a more creative strategy. I really like your comments on MB but wtf are you wasting your time for preaching to the converted. Do you have any ideas? I’ve always thought a MB readership funded billboard in Melb and Syd would be a great move. You could write the copy.

  2. “Well being” is too airy fairy. It has echoes of the “Hope Not Hate” campaign, effectively calling for open borders and branding any nationalist sentiment as rayciss.

    Give me pragmatism all day long.

  3. How about a press release…..”MSM business model is getting you to pay subscription to be then told lies that destroy your country and kids futures for the benefit of the business”?

    SA need to be 100 times more angry, confrontational and aggressive. Like Trump.

    Where was SA’s opposition to recent major amalgamations in the media?

        • It’s working out OK, given they are taking on the entire Establishment and a media whose financial interests run contrary to what the party says and contrary to the community interest. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Are you a member of the party or do you just keyboard?

          • I was close enough to a founding member, but now I’m just a keyboard critic.

            It’s better that way. I can actually remain objective and see what they’re STILL doing is pointless.

          • Don’t get me wrong astro.

            They’re great guys, and smart but this takes being complete asssholes. Probably even better without brain cells.

    • SA? Who are they? How many seats in Federal parliament? Just another whiney, irrelevant group without a voice.

    • Which is why Mark Latham despite attending a few of their talk fests, never stood for them as a NSW parliamentary candidate.

  4. Putting out fires requires substantial input of resources and effort. There is no doubt it increases GDP. Would we prefer to have no fires to put out and therefore less growth in GDP?

    • did you say fires? you need more fire fighters? why fire fighter has just been added to the skilled migration program for Australia, how good are FIRES!! we’ve opened up another 500,000 visas for fire fighters, because we have a dire skills shortage in Australia, you know how hard it is to find a good fire fighter around here ?