It was recently revealed that a clandestine group of Australian Labor politicians had taken to meeting and exchanging emails and texts. The group, which includes nine Labor frontbenchers, is determined to unshackle the party from the extreme left. Pandering to the left, they argue, is making the party unelectable. The Otis Group, as they call themselves, aim to drag the party right-wards and back to the centre.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers is not part of the Otis Group. Indeed, rather than wean the party from the lunar left, Chalmers is doubling down. His role model? Jacinda Ardern.

Jim Chalmers has declared Australia should consider adopting a version of Jacinda Ardern’s “wellbeing budget” and flagged a rethink of how economic output is calculated, advocating a more creative approach considering social and environmental factors.

In a speech on Wednesday night, the opposition Treasury spokesman championed Ms Ardern’s budget process, which he said “redefines what success means in terms of economic outcomes”.

Well, Ardern is good at “redefining” things. After all, she’s redefined two years of doing nothing, abandoning key policies and stuffing up major initiatives as a “Year of Delivery”. Which raised the eyebrows of even New Zealand’s normally obeisant legacy media.

Her “wellbeing budget” fared little better. Indeed, the “Minister for Child Poverty” has conspicuously failed to deliver much in the way of “wellbeing”.

Speaking at an event held by The Australia Institute, Dr Chalmers said the Ardern government was reporting against specific measures under four headings — “financial and physical capital, human capital, natural capital and social capital”.

So, one objective measure and three clouds of subjective fairy-floss. There’s a reason economists focus on GDP: it might not tell you everything, but at least it’s an objective fact. It also correlates pretty well to subjective measures like “happiness”. Studies show that, within certain ranges, income correlates quite well with happiness.

I guess, when you can’t sell yourselves as credible economic managers, it’s just easier to give up and start promising pony rides and lemonade fountains and hope that enough voters are gullible enough to fall for it.

[Treasurer] Josh Frydenberg on Thursday labelled Labor’s ideas “laughable”.

“Labor hasn’t delivered a surplus since 1989 so it should surprise no one that they’re going to look around for some other way to measure economic output,” he told Sky News.

“They’ll be looking for any alternative than proper accounting, that has seen the Australian government, the Coalition government, deliver the first balanced budget in 11 years.

“This is another thought bubble from Labor, this is Labor doublespeak for higher taxes and more debt.”

Y’know, Labor, the whole point of making mistakes is to learn from them. Others’ as well as yours. Clearly, Labor isn’t learning from either.

The only silver lining here is that, as the Otis Group at least are capable of seeing, Labor are consigning themselves to electoral oblivion by chasing lunar left-wing unicorns.

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