YOU CAN BANK ON LABOR – Every time I fall despondent about how disappointing the Coalition government has been, there pops up Labor to demonstrate how much worse they will be for the country if they get their grubby little hands on the levers of power (and on our money):

Labor is planning to turn the ­Finance Department into a kind of entrepreneurial bank that would use the commonwealth’s balance sheet to fund business ventures that cannot gain access to private finance.

Finance spokesman Jim Chalmers says the department has been too narrowly focused on budget repair.“I want to make the case for an engaged finance ministry with a renewed focus on co-investment and for an entrepreneurial state as a source of new inclusive growth,” an advance copy of a speech that Dr Chalmers is delivering at the ANU today says. He says that while budget repair is important, “we need to squeeze more juice out of the budget lemon we will likely inherit”.“With the budget as tight as it is, with record, increasing debt, our task is to be more disciplined but not less ambitious for the country,” Dr Chalmers says.He argues there is scope for the Finance Department to become directly involved in supporting ­entrepreneurial business.“This is a more sophisticated ­approach to government — leveraging the commonwealth balance sheet to invest in ventures and interventions that have the twin virtues of building value and generating assets on the balance sheet.” He cites Australian Bureau of Statistics findings that nearly one in three innovative businesses say access to finance is the major barrier to their investment and growth.“There are many investments that are in the private and national interest that are not able to access ­finance,” Dr Chalmers says. “Responsibly and robustly encouraging greater capital into innovative businesses will help them overcome these barriers.”

Jesus wept. Because Labor hasn’t under Rudd/Gillard/Rudd put Australia in a bad enough financial position, now with the government half a trillion dollars in debt and budgets continuing in deficit, Labor will spend even more money it doesn’t have to be the banker of the last resort for ideas that Australia’s very robust, responsible and extensive private financial system have deemed too risky or too stupid to lend money to. Jim Chalmers will be picking winners!

I know that “Vote for us because we’re not as bad as Labor” is a pretty uninspiring slogan for the Coalition to take to the election, but it’s pretty much all they have at the moment, and sadly it will have to do.

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