Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Barnaby's choice (of words)

This stunned all who saw it at the time.

The transcript has just come out.

Cast you mind back to Wednesday morning June 1, just before the negative GDP number came out at 11.30 am AEST (it was to be minus 1.2 per cent).

Barnaby Joyce was grilling the Secretary to the Treasury.

Senator JOYCE: We have had a negative quarter of growth, Dr Parkinson; why is that?

Dr Parkinson: We had a negative quarter of growth in 2001; is that what you are talking about?

Senator JOYCE: Aren't we just announcing figures today that are going to show—

Senator Wong: The national accounts will be announced at 11:30.

Senator JOYCE: Sorry?

Dr Parkinson: The national accounts will be out later today.

Senator JOYCE: Everybody knows about them. I can even tell you the figure.

Dr Parkinson: If you know the figure, I am sure that the statistician will be interested to know that—

Senator JOYCE: Would you be surprised if we had a negative—

Senator Wong: Senator Joyce, he had not finished.

Dr Parkinson: because that would be a violation of the way in which—

Senator JOYCE: It was in the paper.

Dr Parkinson: It might be reported in the paper, Senator, but I—

Senator JOYCE: Well, how did it get out?

Senator Wong: Senator—

Dr Parkinson: Senator, excuse me!

Senator Wong: Chair, can the secretary finish his answers before Senator Joyce asks another question?

CHAIR: Yes. I would ignore his interjections, Dr Parkinson.

Senator Wong: Officials should not have to be in the position of ignoring interjections.

CHAIR: Please go ahead, Dr Parkinson.

Dr Parkinson: The statistician will release the national accounts later this morning.

Senator JOYCE: How is it reported in the paper? How did it get out, Dr Parkinson?

Dr Parkinson: Senator, what has got out?

Senator JOYCE: Apparently we are heading towards a negative quarter of growth, at about 0.4 per cent?

Dr Parkinson: That is your estimate, is it, Senator?

Senator JOYCE: Well, that is what is in the paper; is that right?

Dr Parkinson: Senator, I do not believe most things I read in the paper.

Senator JOYCE: It will be interesting to know around about where it is, because the question will be: how did it get out?

Dr Parkinson: Senator—

CHAIR: Senator Joyce, do you have another question? We have other senators waiting.

Dr Parkinson: Senator, you are actually making a very, very serious allegation. I do not know whether you realise it, but you are implying that somebody has leaked the national accounts. If you have any evidence, I would have thought it was incumbent upon you to report that to the AFP and the Statistician.

Senator JOYCE: Then I would report to them that they should read paper, Dr Parkinson, because that is where it is!

Dr Gruen: Senator, what are reported in the paper, at least as I have read it, are market economists' estimates of what they think will be the March quarter outcome. That has been reported in the papers on the morning of the national accounts release for as long as I have been reading these things—which is quite a long time. There are a large number of partial indicators that have already been published; for instance, the balance of payments was published yesterday. There are a large number of partial indicators that enable market economists to make an educated guess of what they think the national accounts will be. There are a range of estimates. Many of those, as you correctly state, are that real GDP will have fallen in the March quarter; that is all true. That is different from saying, as we have taken you to say, that the papers report on what the national accounts will be. They simply report on what private market economists are estimating will be the national accounts for the March quarter.

Dr Parkinson: And, if you read the papers in the week or the two weeks beforehand you will see quite a number of estimates, as market economists change their own forecasts for what they expect to see in the national accounts. But I go back to my point: if you believe the national accounts have been leaked, I think that is a very serious issue and I would urge you to raise with it with the Statistician and with the AFP.

Did he go to the AFP?

Do they know his information was wrong?

Related Posts

. A GDP one-off? You'd want to hope so

. GDP Negative. The damage here at 11.30am

. GDP how negative? Minus 0.4% median