Sunday 28th August 2016 - 7:06 pm

I’m an “optimist” PM

by Alan Thornhill

Malcolm Turnbull declared today that he is an “optimist”  as  MPs and Senators gathered in Canberra for the first session of  Federal parliament since the July 2 elections.

 

The Prime Minister, who declared before the elections that the Liberal party he leads, is the only one that could offer stable government, over the next three years,  was speaking in an ABC television interview.

 

But he was immediately challenged by the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, who had warned that divisions in a new Turnbull government, would soon lead to its collapse, said Labor’s landslide victory in the Northern Territory at the weekend, should “set alarm bells ringing” in Mr Turnbull’s office.

 

He was speaking in a separate interview.

 

Mr  Turnbull, said his government would be introducing an omnibus bill to secure a large measure of budget repair.

 

The interviewer, ABC television. told Mr Turnbull that Australia’s political system is being tested.

 

But Mr Turnbull replied: “Well, I’m an optimist.

 

“ I’m very confident that we’ll find the good sense, the patriotism, the commitment, to securing Australia’s future in this Parliament, and we’ll find the support that we need in the Senate to secure the passage of the legislation that is so important for budget repair and for ensuring that we continue to have a strong economy.

 

“We remain a first world economy, with the generous social welfare safety net, in these very exciting times,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

However, speaking of the Northern  Territory election, Mr Shorten said:  “I think that whilst many of the scandals and issues were particular to the Northern Territory, I think there is a lesson for Mr Turnbull.”

 

And other Liberals, too.

 

“…disunity is death,” Mr Shorten said.

 

“Now I think the alarm bells should be going off in Mr Turnbull’s office and for the Liberal Party nationally,” he added.

 

He said these divisions meant that  Mr Turnbull is not able to pursue his own conscience and has to take the orders of the right-wing.

 

“We see great disunity,” Mr Shorten said.

 

“ Australians hate it when they see decisions about division and point-scoring and score-settling within a political party, taking priority of decisions in the best interest of the nation,” Mr Shorten said.
However Mr Turnbull rejected that argument.

 

He said there would be give and take in the new parliament.

 

However, he predicted that the parliament would recognise that Australians had been living beyond their means and respond accordingly.

 

“We are in deficit,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

“ We are spending more than we are receiving in revenue

 

“We are increasing debt

 

“ We cannot keep doing that.

 

“Now, we set out in the Budget a clear plan to reduce that deficit and then, over time, bring that debt down. Now, the Labor Party supports some of our measures, they have opposed others,” Mr Turnbull added.

 

Then he said: “One way or another, at the end of this 45th Parliament, I want Australians to be able to say that this Parliament, which they elected, has come to terms with the budgetary challenge we face and has stopped this irresponsible business of loading a mountain of debt, mountain after mountain of debt, on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren.”

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Sunday 28th August 2016 - 11:50 am

The news: Sunday August 28

by Alan Thornhill

A landslide victory for Labor in the Northern Territory ABC

 

Federal government says bulk billing rates have hit record heights  ABC

 

Mass funerals for victims of the Italian earthquakes start  ABC

Saturday 27th August 2016 - 8:35 am

The news: Saturday August 27

by Alan Thornhill

Italy has declared a state of emergency in the regions worst hit by Wednesday’s earthquake as hopes of finding more survivors fade. BBC

 

 

 

Country Liberal party government in the Northern Territory hopes to survive in today’s vote, although it is behind in the polls

 

 

 

Friday 26th August 2016 - 4:28 pm

Greens will vote to reject plebiscite

by Alan Thornhill

The Greens will vote against the Federal government’s proposed plebiscite on its same sex marriage legislation.

 

Their leader, Senator Richard “No matter what the enabling legislation for a plebiscite looks like, the Greens will vote against it.

 

“We should never put questions of human rights to an opinion poll,” said Greens Leader Richard Di Natale,” added.

 

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, promised before the July 2 election that the plebiscite would be held before the end of the year if his government was returned.

 

However the Australian Electoral Office has since said this could not be done before February.

 

The cost has been estimated at $130 million.

 

 

Senator Di Natale said: “The easiest, simplest, quickest, most effective, least costly and least harmful way of ensuring equality in marriage is through a vote in the parliament.”

 

“And we can do that next week should the Prime Minister decides to show some leadership.”

 

 

The Greens won’t support this waste of money that is designed to delay equality and give a megaphone to hate and homophobia,” he added.

 

“The Greens will vote for marriage equality – every MP, every vote, every time – so we call on Labor and the other crossbenchers to reject the Liberals’ plebiscite and demand a free vote in the Parliament,” he said.

 

Meanwhile the Greens spokesperson on these issues Senator Janet Rice said: “Australia has fallen behind the rest of the world on marriage equality.

 

“We’ve listened to the LGBTIQ community, 85per cent of whom are opposed to a damaging and unnecessary  plebiscite because of the harm that it would do.

 

 

“John Howard didn’t need a plebiscite to deny marriage equality and we don’t need one now embrace it,” Senator Rice said.

 

 

“The Prime Minister needs to have the courage to stand up to the extreme wing of his party, who are doing everything they can to delay the inevitable.

 

“We need a free vote in the Parliament as soon as possible.

 

“We could have legislation passed next week and wedding bells ringing this spring,” she added.

Friday 26th August 2016 - 8:43 am

The news:Friday August 26

by Alan Thornhill

Hundreds of aftershocks have rocked devastated areas of central Italy, hampering search efforts after a deadly earthquake. BBC

County Liberal government in the Northern Territory to face an election tomorrow, with polls predicting its defeat ABC

 

 

 

A Victorian man finds a second gold nugget on his property and this time it’s a big one.  the sun

Thursday 25th August 2016 - 8:40 pm

Treasurer seeks to placate markets

by Alan Thornhill

Analysis

The Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, wanted to send a soothing message to financial markets today, when he addressed a function organised by Bloomberg in Sydney.

 

 

 

So he chose his words carefully.

 

His speech was entitled Staying the course – strengthening our resilience in uncertain economic times

 

And Mr Morrison said his prime  objective was to “take action to strengthen our economic resilience to deal with the shocks that will inevitably come.”

 

He said this would involve:-

 

– getting debt under control by returning the budget to balance and

 

– resilience.

 

Where have we heard that word before?

 

That’s right.

 

The ratings agency Moody’s used it, when it put Australia’s  AAA credit rating on watch, earlier thjis month.

 

It had admitted that it is worried about high levels of both government and personal debt in Australia before it did so.

 

Another ratings agency, Standard and Poors, had reached similar conclusions earlier this year   when it, too, put its AAA rating for Australia on watch,

 

But it was Moody’s, specifically, that praised the “resilience” of the Australian economy.

 

There was more, of like kind, of course in Mr Morrison’s speech today.

 

He said, for example, that In the next five to seven years we have a window of opportunity to prepare our country for what lays ahead and to set our nation up for a new generation of growth and prosperity.

 

And he declared:  “ I do not want my kids to know what a recession is and everything that goes along with that.”

 

It was the strongest line in his entire speech.

 

Thursday 25th August 2016 - 1:41 pm

Managed funds move ahead

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s managed funds had $2,721.6 billion under their control at the end of June, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

 

The Bureau reported today that this was a 3 per cent increase over the March quarter figure.

 

The latest figure included $2,031.4 billion in superannuation and pension funds.

 
However the bureau noted there had been a significant difference between the ways in which the superannuation data was collected in recent months.

It said the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority had introduced an enhanced set of reporting forms for superannuation funds last September.

These differed from the previous forms, both in concept and definition.

 

The bureau said this had affected its own calculations in this area and it urged readers to be cautious when using its superannuation data

Thursday 25th August 2016 - 8:51 am

“Remember the unemployed” Labor urged

by Alan Thornhill

As the major political parties argue over “budget repair” measures, Labor is being urged to remember the unemployed.

 

That advice comes from Professor Andrew Scott, of Jobs Australia, who says the unemployed and underemployed are already badly treated in this country.

 

It also follows recent reports of a rear-guard action within Labor to fight the $1.3 billion ‘saving’ raised by cutting off the clean energy supplement to low-income earners.

 

Professor Scott said: “for the ALP to even contemplate supporting further reductions in the pathetically low unemployment payment …. is unconscionable and unacceptable.”

 

He said unemployment benefits in in Australia remain little more than 40 per cent of a replacement wage.

 

That compares with more than 60 per cent in Canada and more than 70 per cent in many central and northern European nations.

 

Professor Scott said: “Labor and other non-government parties in the Australian parliament need to prevent any further reduction in payments to – and therefore further hardship being imposed upon – the officially nearly three quarters of a million unemployed Australians.”

 

“The actual number of unemployed and underemployed Australians is more than double this number,” he added.

 

And he suggested an alternative.

 
“Instead of any reductions in payments to any unemployed people in Australia, a direct increase in the Newstart allowance for the more than 20 per cent of those unemployed Australians who have been out of paid work on a long-term basis, to assist their better skills retraining and therefore prospects for re-entry to the paid workforce, is now justified and affordable,” Professor Scott said.

 

“This should be funded by the Turnbull Government immediately withdrawing its announced plan for multi-billion dollar cuts in company tax and its instead considering the proposals for unemployment insurance recently put forward by the Jobs Australia organisation,” he added.
“These measures are needed to boost paid labour force participation rates in Australia among workers aged 25 to 54 to the higher standards in better performing economies and societies,” Professor Scott said.
“It is the responsibility of Opposition parties and non-government parliamentarians, especially in a new parliament with such closely-balanced numbers, to steer the government away from policies which are destructive of the nation’s future,” he added.

 

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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