Looking at the by-election results and the unfavourable backlash for the Prime Minister and his team and what it might mean for company tax cuts, when it comes to the voters in those seats, an economist could easily lament: “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do!”

Of course, this is the gamble that comes with that beautiful political system called a democracy, meaning that the party with the best policies might lose out because they don’t look like the best policies.

Winston Churchill was said to have observed that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”. I totally concur with his sentiment but it does mean that the calibre of the leader and his/her ability to communicate effectively to the electorate becomes critical.

Right now, Bill Shorten has collated together a clever group of policies that appeal to a majority of voters and has effectively gone tribal to tap into disgruntled Aussies.

How has he done it? Here are a few examples:

• Those who couldn’t buy a home saw investors threatened by changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax.

• Those who don’t want the big end of town to get company tax cuts would like Bill’s tirade against the tax cuts.

• He has opposed the changes for weekend penalty rates, despite the fact they were put forward by a Fair Work Commissioner, who was a former ACTU leader and was appointed by Bill Shorten!

In a series of reactions, the man who looks set to be PM, (unless Malcolm Turnbull can pull a leadership rabbit of Churchill proportions out of his hat) showed why he’s resonating with normal voters.

“They [voters] don’t want to see corporations get large tax cuts,” he said. “It renews my conviction that we need to make sure we prioritise the health of Australians over tax cuts for the big end of town.

“It renews my conviction that [the] education of our young people and the retraining of our adults is much more important than tax cuts at the top end.

“Australians want a political party who is on their side, and we’re going to go for that.”

This is great politics but I’m not sure it’s spot on economics. And this is where Malcolm’s messaging has to improve or he should start writing his farewell speech.

No one in the party is getting the message across that our economy is doing a lot better than expected. There are occasional salutations when the job numbers come in miles better than tipped or when economic growth is about the best in the Western world. But even then, there’s no real continual, ‘in our face’ reminding that this economy under Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison has turned the corner.

The only real economic negatives are threats that a house price collapse might come or mortgage stress could be here soon, if interest rates rise. Against that, the experts say wage rises are finally seeping through, interest rates are on hold for at least a year, consumer confidence says optimists outweigh pessimists by a long chalk and business conditions have been at record highs.

Two weeks ago, this is what CommSec’s Craig James had to say about our latest jobs report: “Employment rose by 50,900 in June after a 13,400 increase in May. Full-time jobs rose by 41,200 and part-time jobs rose by 9,700. Economists had tipped an increase in total jobs of around 17,000. Total employment is at a record-high 12.574 million.”

And unemployment was at 5.4% but that was rounded up from 5.37%, which was the lowest jobless rate in 5½ years!

And the participation rate (i.e. those in work and looking to work) rose from 65.5% to 65.7%, which is just below record highs.  

On June 26, I came across this pearl that a smart politician would never have let go unnoticed, with consumer confidence at its best in four months at 120.8 points, if you focus on the 4-week moving average (in smoothed terms) of the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly index. And consumer views on (current) economic conditions over the next year was the second best on record.

Meanwhile, the economic growth story has to be another badge of achievement that the Turnbull team fails to play up. This is the way the abc.net.au reported the last very good number: “The Australian economy has beaten expectations, with very strong 1% growth in the first quarter driving a 3.1 % annual increase in GDP.” Of course, it was countered in the next paragraph with “But economists have warned that may be “as good as it gets”, with a range of one-off factors boosting the data and weak household income growth limiting consumer spending, which makes up about 60 % of the economy.”

However, these are largely the same economists who didn’t see this good number coming, so they’re hardly reliable economic experts. And this is what the Government needs to keep saying, if remaining in power is important. And that’s where I think Malcolm and his team let themselves down. They don’t seem to want to win as badly as Bill.

I always come back to how the great tennis player Chris Evert explained her career, and it’s what the Malcolm and his team need to embrace, if they want to win. “There were times when deep down I wanted to win so badly I could actually will it to happen. I think most of my career was based on desire.”

Bill wants to hand opportunities to potential voters, which is a more Labor way. Malcolm wants to make conditions better, via tax cuts for business, so jobs will be created and opportunities come from a more thriving private sector.

It’s getting down to the different philosophies of Labor and the LNP but, right now, Bill is a much better salesman, even if his ‘product’ is hardly pro-business, which can lead to economic problems down the track.

Before I go here’s one last accolade for Turnbull and Morrison, who have been trying to KO the budget deficit left behind by previous governments. This is Craig James again:

“The dramatic improvement in Australia’s fiscal situation continues. Late last year, the government’s finance boffins mapped out where the budget should be each month in order to hit the target of a $23.6 billion deficit for the full 2017/18 year. At April 2018, the profile deficit was expected to be $22.8 billion. The actual result was $14.93 billion, a 35% improvement.”

And the latest reading told us that in the 12 months to April 2018, the Budget deficit stood at $12.1 billion (less than 0.7% of GDP) – the smallest rolling annual deficit for nine years!

These are huge stories and I wonder if the voters in the weekend by-elections were aware of all this. If they weren’t, someone in the Government has to take the blame and promise to take a Chris Evert approach to winning or else it will be Prime Minister Bill Shorten in 2019!