Pin The Tip On The Iceberg

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With discussion of Peter Costello’s competence raging, here’s a special New Matilda quiz. Just how well do you know Australia’s amazing recent treasurers?

Test yourself. No Googling!

1. Easy one to start. Which treasurer formulated the goods and services tax? Clue: He was bitterly opposed by the unions and welfare groups. But it turned out well eventually.

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

2. Which treasurer budgeted for five consecutive budget surpluses but delivered five deficits?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Phone a friend

3. Which treasurer inherited an inflation rate stuck intractably above 9 per cent and reduced it to below 4.6 per cent where it has stayed ever since?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) No one. Never happened.

4. Remember the fun times before the 1996 election when shadow treasurer Peter Costello was "burning with a cold anger" at the Keating Government for letting the Aussie dollar fall to 74 US cents. A weak dollar, he said, "impoverishes every Australian".

So, in September 2001, after Costello had been treasurer for five years, had the Aussie dollar:

a) Risen 10 per cent to 81 US cents
b) Risen 33 per cent to 98 US cents
c) Dropped 33 per cent to 49 US cents
d) Stayed at the same level?

5. Which treasurer lost control of interest rates and allowed the cash rate to hit 85 per cent, the highest in Australia’s history?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Impossible. Never happened.

6. Who was treasurer when Australia first achieved triple A credit rating with all three international credit agencies?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

7. Which treasurer brought in four successive surplus budgets after 16 consecutive deficits?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

8. Which death-defying treasurer lost more than $4.5 billion — yes, billion — gambling on currency fluctuations at the exciting Casino of Foreign Exchange?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

9. Who is the only treasurer since 1970 to cut real spending; that is, to have the government spend less in one year than was spent the year before, and who slashed the company tax rate from 49 per cent to 33 per cent?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Ask the audience

10. Who was the generous Treasurer of the People who allowed workers’ wages to rise by 16 per cent in one year?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Never happened

11. Who was the recession-plagued treasurer when a US-based Nobel Prize winning economist wrote that Australia had "put in place one of the best-designed Keynesian stimulus packages of any country in the world"?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

12. Which treasurer sold 167 tonnes of Australia’s gold reserves when the price was near an 11-year low and just before it rose spectacularly, giving overseas buyers a windfall, and costing Australia several billion dollars?

a) John Howard
b) Paul Keating
c) Peter Costello
d) Wayne Swan

Answers:

1: (b) Paul Keating proposed a GST at the 1985 Tax Summit. The idea was quashed by PM Bob Hawke under pressure from the ACTU, welfare groups and business.

2: (a) Yes, John Howard. But you have to admire his persistence.

3: (b) Paul Keating "snapped the stick of inflation", as he memorably claimed. For the five years of treasurer John Howard, inflation ranged between 9.1 and 11.2 per cent. Keating got it below 2.7 per cent where it stayed for seven of the next eight years.

4: (c) Dropped to 49c.

5: (a) John Howard in 1982. How embarrassing. Yes, interest rates peaked under Howard.

6: (d) Wayne Swan in November 2011.

7: (b) Paul Keating, beginning in 1987-88.

8: (c) Peter Costello between 1998 and 2002. The newspapers didn’t tell you this?

9: (b) Paul Keating from 1986 to 1989.

10: (a) John Howard in 1982.

11: (d) Wayne Swan in 2010.

12: (c) Peter Costello in 1997.


Rating:

0-5 correct: You read The Australian, right? Don’t worry, this is what most people score.

6-8: You are an astute student of economics.

9-11: You work in Treasury.

12: You cheated.

New Matilda

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.

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