by Alan Thornhill
Trend employment growth in Australia has eased.
The Bureau of Statistics reported today that this indicator, which the Bureau regards as the most reliable it produces, fell to just 2.2 percent in March.
That was down from 2.6 per cent in December last year.
On its more commonly used seasonally adjusted measure, the Bureau reported that the number of Australians with jobs rose by 26,100 in March.
That left the nation’s seasonally adjusted labour force participation rate for March at 64.9 per cent.
The Bureau said too that – on the same basis – the number of people unemployed fell by 7,300 during the month
This left Australia with a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent for the month, 0.1 percentage points below the February level.
by Alan Thornhill
Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten meet again tonight for the second of their pre-election debates: ABC
Barrack Obama visits Hiroshima ABC
More than 100 leading scientists say the Rio Olympics should be moved or postponed over the Zika outbreak BBC
by Alan Thornhill
Hot weather kept shoppers at home – and retail sales flat in February.
| This situation is reflected in figures the Bureau of Statistics published today.
These showed that – overall – the increases that occurred in retail sales in February –were offset by falls, at least on seasonally adjusted figures.
The Bureau reported that sales of clothing, shoes and household goods had all risen during the month.
But we spent less in the nation’s cafes, restaurants, take-away food and other retail outlets.
Our spending also continued t o rise on trend figures, with the Bureau reporting a 0.2 per cent rise on this basis for the month.
FEBRUARY KEY POINTS
CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE
This issue includes updated online retail turnover estimates for the February 2016 reference month.
Revisions have been applied to the original estimates for January 2016 as a result of updates to survey respondent information. Net revisions totalled $24.2 million. Revisions were applied to all publication industries.
Revisions to seasonally adjusted estimates are due to revisions to original estimates as well as the concurrent methodology for deriving seasonal factors.
TIME SERIES DATA
Data available from the Downloads tab of this issue on the ABS website include longer time series of tables in this publication:
by Alan Thornhill
The Turnbull government may be facing the rare prospect of a defeat in Federal parliament which could lead to an early election.
This prospect has arisen because the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull does not control the Senate and he is anxious to set up a building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission Bill.
This is one of a number of bills on which debate between the two houses of parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate is deadlocked.
Control of the Senate is currently shared by the Labor party, the Liberals and Nationals, the Greens and various micro parties.
The micro-parties and independents would probably be wiped out if voting reforms that the government is also proposing area adopted.
For that reason – if no other-a fierce and messy debate on these plans has been predicted this week -and – in fact – it has already begun.
The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, was severely embarrassed yesterday when he was forced to admit in parliament that that cuts he had flagged earlier, for this year’s budget are no longer likely to be realised.
This led Labor members to suggest that his position is now untenable.
MrMorrison is now saying that individual tax cuts – which he has previously flagged – will not be possible until the budget is in better shape – he Morrison has dashing hopes he had previously raised, in that area. Now, he is saying that only tax cuts for business are still on the cards. Mr Morrison regards them as a tangible “growth dividend.” That is Treasury-speak for economic growth and higher employment rates.
So some opposition members are now wondering if the Treasurer is engaging in the traditional pre-budget game of expectation management, where gloomy predictions are seeded before delivering a bretter than expected outcome on budget nigh, to to sighs of relief.
However the shadow treasurer Chris Bowen sees the government’s mixed messages on tax changes with glimpses of a higher offset by loweri aand now earlier cuts in tax rates as evidence that Mr Morrison lacks authority.
“It took Joe Hockey two years to crash and burn,” Mr Bowen told Parliament.
It’s taken Scott Morrison six months.”
“When it comes to economic policy and tax reform, the last three years have been a waste, with the government promising three more years of the same.”
He said it was time Mr Morrison “considered his position”.
The comments followed media reports that the Treasurer has told colleagues that a lack of “fiscal headroom” made tax cuts for individuals impossible at present.
This is despite the fact htat Mr Morrison wasg among the most vociferous advocates of returning “bracket creep” to taxpayers who through wage inflation had drifted into higher taxation brackets.
The government effectively surrendered the scope for large-scale tax reform once it pulled out out of lifting the GST – a measure it was understood Mr Morrison was more inclined towards than Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
On Tuesday, Mr Morrison attacked Labor’s proposed halving of the capital gains tax discount on housing, arguing it would inhibit rather than encourage investment.
Confusion over the finalisation and release of the tax package had seen it flagged for April, then in the budget, and then both, although a government source said it was merely a matter of keeping release options open allowing budget details to be reported in the days leading to it.
But the date of the budget itself remains in play
by Alan Thornhill
China is already Australia’s best customer.
However new research suggests it could be much better.
It also suggests that your business might well benefit.
The research, published by the Australia China Relations Institute points out that at 109 million in 2015, China’s middle class is already bigger than that in the United States.
Seventeen million bigger in fact.
So we can expect to sell more than iron ore and coal in future.
The Institute also says : “Australia’s ‘China Resources boom’ may have peaked but 57 cents in every dollar increase in Australian exports between 2009-10 and 2014-15 still came from China”
And it adds: “If managed well, Australia’s ‘China dining and services boom’ could run for decades.
There is much more on the Institute’s website at Australia China Relations.Org
Here, though, are some samples:-
In 2014-15 Australia’s agricultural exports to China stood at $9.0 billion
That was up from $3.7 billion in 2009-2010 and 72 percent more than to the US, our second largest customer.
In 2014-2015 Australia’s services exports to China stood at $8.8 billion.
This was up from $5.5 billion in 2009-2010 and 24 percent more than to the US, our second largest customer.
In 2015 more than one million Chinese tourists visited Australia spending $7.7 billion.
That was up from $3.3 billion in 2010 and more than double that of UK visitors in second place.
By 2020 Chinese tourist spending is forecast to reach $13 billion and account for 44 percent of the growth in total tourist spending to 2024-25,the Institute said.
It added:“ China’s middle class is no longer confined to the tier-one metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
By 2022 84 percent of the middle class is expected to live outside these cities.”
“In 2011 the only direct flights to Australia were from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen”
“ Now there are direct flights from 11 Chinese cities, including inland centres such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Xian.”
“ In 2015 there were 170,212 enrolments by Chinese students at Australian educational institutions, 2.4 times the number of students from India in second place
In 2013-14 the number of Australian student visa applications lodged from China’s traditionally less wealthy inland provinces was 12,345, up 30 percent from a year earlier.
“Those from coastal provinces stood at 23,805, up 24.6 percent.”
by Alan Thornhill
Malcolm Turnbull declared that his new cabinet “combines youth, new talent, and experience” as he announced its membership at a press conference in Sydney today.
The truth, always, is a little more complicated.
The reshuffle that the Prime Minister had announced, just months before the next Federal election, was not his choice.
It was forced on him by the resignation of a minister, Stuart Robert, who had held the Human Services Portfolio.
Until Labor pursued him relentlessly in Federal parliament.
It alleged Mr Stuart had used his public office to promote the interests of a company that donates generously to the Liberal party.
And that he did so while on a private visit to China.
Meanwhile the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, was cheered enthusiastically at a Labor conference, also in Sydney.
That happened as he explained new tax policies meant to make new home purchases more affordable for young Australians.
Beyond that there was a sense, in the conference room, that Labor’s fortunes might have changed.
And that it might now have at least some chance of defeating the government in the forthcoming elections, even though it has been trailing the Coalition in the polls for several months.
But who has found a place in Mr Turnbull’s new Cabinet?
The Prime Minister congratulated Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash on their respective elections as Leader and Deputy Leader of the National Party, the junior partner in his Coalition government.
And he said:” Barnaby Joyce will consequently be sworn in as the Deputy Prime Minister and he will retain his portfolio of Agriculture and Water Resources.
“His Deputy, Senator Fiona Nash, will be sworn in as the Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Rural Health.”
Mr Turnbull also said:” I’m appointing Andrew Robb as a Special Envoy for Trade between now and the election so that he can support Steven in the transition into the new portfolio and ensure that Andrew’s remarkable range of international contacts will be introduced to his successor.
Darren Chester will take on Warren Truss’s responsibilities for infrastructure and transport. Darren will make a formidable contribution in this portfolio.
He has been one of the younger stars in the Parliament and recognised as such for a long time.
Mathias Cormann will retain his responsibilities that he’s taken on in an acting capacity but he’ll retain them formally as the Special Minister of State in addition to being the Finance Minister.
“As you know, Mal Brough informed me earlier today that he did not wish to be considered for a position in the new executive line up given the fact that the police investigations are continuing and will continue at least for some months, as he understands.”
Senator Scott Ryan will be sworn in as the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.
Now this ministry was previously, has been held by Luke Hartsuyker and he is not featuring in the National Party’s ministerial line up on this occasion.
‘I want to thank Luke for his contribution in that portfolio.
“He also has made a great contribution to the Coalition in opposition as well and we worked very closely together when I was the Shadow Communications Minister and he was the Shadow Minister for Regional Communications.
“He’s a great parliamentarian, a great coalitionist and he will be missed.”
“Alan Tudge will be sworn in as the Minister for Human Services.
|“Dan Tehan will be sworn in as the Minister for Defence Materiel and the Minister for Veterans’ Services.|
“Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells will be appointed and sworn in as Minister for International Development and the Pacific.
“This is a very exciting promotion for Connie and recognises her extremely successful and very important work as the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
“Senator Matt Canavan from Queensland will be sworn in as the Minister for Northern Australia.
“He will work closely with the senior minister in that portfolio, Josh Frydenberg and the Cabinet Minister.
“This is a policy area of Northern Australia, of northern development which is absolutely central to Australia’s growth and future prosperity.
Mr Turnbulll said the changes ‘in the Assistant Minister ranks would be:-
Keith Pitt will serve as the Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Craig Laundy will become the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
Jane Prentice will be the Assistant Minister for Disability Services working with Christian Porter.
Angus Taylor will serve as the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister with special responsibility for Cities and Digital Transformation. These are two key whole of government areas and they will be taken, continued to be driven through my leadership and my department in the future.
Dr Peter Hendy will serve as Assistant Minister in the Finance portfolio supporting Mathias Cormann and also as Assistant Cabinet Secretary.
Senator James McGrath will continue to serve as my assistant minister but will take on additional duties supporting Peter Dutton as Assistant Minister for Immigration.”
The Prime Minister said his new team would be sworn in on Thursday morning.
by Alan Thornhill
Australian families spend more on energy than some of the nation’s most important industries.
This is confirmed in figures the Bureau of Statistics published today.
These showed that the energy bills Australian families paid in 2013-14 totaled $47 billion.
They included the $18 billion we spent on electricity and the the $25 billion we spent on petroleum products.
Many of us spend quite a lot on energy.
The Bureau noted that between 2008-09 and 2013-14 Australian families spent more on energy than the mining, manufacturing or service industries.
However Steven May, ABS Director of the Centre of Environment Statistics, also said:”More productive use of energy is also occurring across the board with industry. ”
“Energy intensity (the energy consumed to produce one unit of economic output) has leveled off after four years of decreases.
“Decreases in manufacturing, transport and mining were offset by increases in agriculture, construction and services.”
Mr May also said our use of renewable energy sources is still quite small at 2 per cent of total supply.
However , he added, our use of these sources did increase rapidly between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
“In terms of our energy assets, we have approximately 660 years of brown coal, 230 years of uranium and 10 years of crude oil left under current production capacity.” Mr May said.
This does not take possible new discoveries into account.
“Today’s figures are part of the ABS environmental accounts program which produces integrated energy supply and use tables in physical and monetary terms,” Mr May said
The program is also used in the production of the Australian National Accounts.
by Alan Thornhill
Australia may soon be seeing more students from Singapore.
This is part of the adjustment that this country has been forced to make to the collapse in iron ore and coal prices.
We are now looking to expand service industries – like education – instead.
Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister, Andrew Robb, who is now in Singapore to drum up business is well aware of all that.
In a statement today Mr Robb said he would be seeking both to assess the Australia-Singapore Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and to advance progress with it,
The Prime Ministers of both countries launched the partnership last June.
It marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Mr Robb said the new partnership identifies a wide range of initiatives across the economic, foreign affairs, defence and security fronts.
“One of the many initiatives identified was an early review of the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which entered into force back in 2003,” he added.
“ The review is scheduled for completion by July this year,” he said.
“Other economic initiatives include expanding two-way investment flows and exploring investment opportunities in sectors such as food, agribusiness and infrastructure in areas like northern Australia.”
Mr Robb also spoke of increasing the flow of skilled labour and visitors; joint tourism cooperation; building additional research and development partnerships and enhancing aviation and maritime connectivity.
“There are also various initiatives to deepen defence cooperation in areas such as military training, exchanges and postings; intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism, organised crime and cyber-crime,” he said.
“A strong focus has also been placed on deepening links between our educational, scientific and research institutions, including new opportunities for students under the New Colombo Plan,” he said.
“There will also be more cooperation between our arts institutions,”Mr Robb added.
He said, too, that a shared strategic perspective and complementary economies are the cornerstones of the Australia-Singapore relationship.
“To me our ambition for deepening our relationship and economic integration should be akin to the close relationship we enjoy with New Zealand,” he added.
Mr Robb said the FTA is an important component of our economic relationship, and the review provides an opportunity to further strengthen our bilateral trade and investment links with our fifth largest trading partner and foreign investor.
“The review of the FTA is timely and consideration is being given to enhancements in areas such as goods trade, services, investment and government procurement,” he said.
“There are significant opportunities to build on our relationship across a range of sectors including in science and research, advanced manufacturing, agribusiness and infrastructure.”
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
|Bhp Blt Fpo||23.97||+0.07||+0.29%|
|Cwlth Bank Fpo||86.14||+0.88||+1.03%|
The News This Week
- Postscript 2
- Postscript 1 – Australia in the age of Trump
- Thank you
- The news: Friday January 20
- Scrap debt reduction plan:Greens
- How prices are moving:ABS
- Trade:Trump warned
- The News: Wednesday January 14
- It’s one rule for them…and
- The news:Wednesday January 11
- Retail growth flattens
- The news:Tuesday January 10
- The news:Monday January 9
- The news: Sunday January 8
- Don’t come the raw prawn with us:Barnaby
- agriculture (203)
- Airlines (329)
- Banking (3,951)
- Business (4,227)
- climate (107)
- Communications (127)
- corruption (33)
- crime (84)
- defence (105)
- Diplomacy (106)
- disability (19)
- Disaster (180)
- Economics (4,246)
- education (177)
- employment (435)
- Environment (214)
- farms (135)
- Financial advice (3,783)
- Health (266)
- Housing (1,094)
- Inflation (662)
- Insurance (155)
- Investment (3,169)
- Law (34)
- manufacturing (203)
- Markets (3,121)
- Media (157)
- medical (152)
- mining (577)
- pay (348)
- pensions (121)
- Politics (4,585)
- population (1,228)
- property (138)
- Regulation (1,460)
- retail (113)
- retirement (207)
- rural (68)
- Rural australia (185)
- Security (66)
- Social security (497)
- Superannuation (324)
- Tax (672)
- terrorism (29)
- The latest (1,519)
- Trade (1,572)
- transport (112)
- Uncategorized (1,006)
- welfare (219)