Browsing articles in "Communications"
Sunday 19th June 2016 - 7:04 pm
Comments Off on Shorten sharp:Labor chief’s warnings

Shorten sharp:Labor chief’s warnings

by Alan Thornhill

Bill Shorten sought to inspire Australian voters with a speech he gave today.

Acknowledging that the Labor party he leads polls more strongly among women than men, Mr Shorten opened his speech with a line that reverses an old favourite, of Australian politicians.

“Women and men of Australia,” he declared.


An edited version of his 5,000 word speech is reproduced below.

As expected, Mr Shorten concentrated on traditional Labor themes, health, education and jobs, while attacking the government’s “arrogance.”

And he warned that the Liberals pose a real threat to Medicare .

Mr Shorten said: “ We gather as one united party: ready to serve, ready to lead, ready for government.”

He declared that “a great future is within Australia’s reach” – and  said he is “certain that Labor has the plans to grasp it.”
“Labor knows “… that this election can be won…”Mr Shorten said

“Mr Turnbull says he’s got this in the bag, he claims he’s already won it,” Mr Shorten added.

“I say to him – never underestimate Labor.

“You ain’t seen anything yet, has he?”

“… only a Labor Government will build a stronger economy and a fairer society, Mr Shorten said.
Only Labor would:-

*…. fund our schools and protect Medicare.
*….create jobs and build roads, rail and a proper National Broadband Network.
On aborigines, Mr Shorten said:-“I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respects to elders past and present,“…but let our respect travel past words into action.
“ because as long as a young Aboriginal man is more likely to go to jail than university, words are not enough. Action matters. ”
“Friends, our issues are starting to bite – please, keep up the great work, we count on all of you.
Mr Shorten thanked three previous Labor Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and Julia Gillard who attended his launch and mentioned Kevin Rudd who is overseas.

He said that under Labor “… Medicare stays.”
Mr Shorten also said: “We’ve got the best people, we’ve got the best policies and we’ve got the best plan to pay for them.”
He said Labor would be :” …accountable and responsible for every single dollar.”

It would deliver: “Only policies that we can fund, only policies our country can afford.
“We will not be a big spending government.
“We will be a government for the fair go, fully paid for.

“Bringing down the deficit each and every year.
Mr Shorten said: “… the difference in competing economic visions has never been sharper or starker:
“A Labor party investing in people, in productivity, in infrastructure and technology.

“And a Liberal party asking for three more years on the back of one bad idea.
“A $50 billion giveaway to big business, $30 billion of which goes straight overseas.
“This is not a plan for the Australian economy – it is foreign aid for foreign companies.

“Treasury has put a final figure on the economic benefits, such as they are.

“A growth dividend of 0.1 per cent a year.

“Zero. Point. One.

“$50 billion dollars for a benefit that rounds down to zero.

“But at least Mr Turnbull has already told us already how he is going to fill the void it that will leave in the Budget – a 15 per cent GST, on everything.

“Or ripping every single Commonwealth dollar out of every single government school.

“And letting the states loose to charge their own income tax.

“Make no mistake, if the Liberals win, we shouldn’t be worried about Mr Turnbull breaking his promises, we should be worried about him keeping his promises.

“Mr Turnbull’s plan, such as it is, means a $7.4 billion windfall for Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and NAB.

“Three out of four of these are under investigation for rigging the interest rates of Australians trying to save for a home, pay-off a mortgage or plan for a self-funded retirement.

Mr Shorten said: “The Australian economy needs a real jobs plan.”

And he said that was what Labor would provide. (see earlier story)

Mr Shorten also said: “… the two most important things for an economy in transition are: public investment in infrastructure and education.

‘Building and teaching.

“Labor will do both.

“We will turbo-charge Infrastructure and create a new ‘Concrete Bank’.

“We will clear away the market blockages that hold back our superannuation investing in good projects.

“We will build if given the opportunity by the Australian people, the Perth Metronet, AdeLINK, the Melbourne Metro and of course Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail.

“And we will build the Western Sydney Rail Line connecting fast growing communities.

“We’ll back this up with 15,000 new places for apprentices – of all ages – right across the nation.

“And we will clean-out the dodgy private colleges undermining vocational training in this country.

“Politics, as you understand, is about choices,” Mr Shorten said.

“We choose TAFE.

“We choose local content.

“We choose the apprenticeship system.”

“We choose renewable energy and Australian steel because we believe advanced manufacturing has a future in this country.”

On schools, Mr Shorten said: “We will build – and we will teach.

“And our future as a knowledge economy depends upon the National Broadband Network, “ Mr Shorten said.
“It’s vital to small businesses in the regions engaging in our region.”

But Mr Turnbull has made a horrible mess of the NBN.

The cost is now double what he promised – and it’s going to take as twice as long to build.

Australia’s ranking has collapsed from 30th to 60th in the world in global internet speeds.

“I suppose, this was the perfect preview for his time as Prime Minister.

“Over-promise, under-deliver and take forever to get to the point.

“Australia deserves so much better than this.
“A new Labor Government will connect up to 2 million more homes and businesses to a first-rate fibre National Broadband Network.

“Equality for women will be a national mission for my government,” Mr Shorten added.

“That would mean:-
A minimum of 18 weeks paid parental leave, guaranteed.
Better childcare, sooner – for 800,000 working families.
He said, ,too, that Family violence is not a family matter – it is a national disgrace.
Mr Shorten also said, Labor would provide “…will provide the leadership in the Parliament to deliver marriage equality within our first 100 days.”

And he added: “There is a hidden story in our country.

“Teenagers are taking days off school to attend the funerals of classmates who have taken their own life.

“Parents sitting at kitchen tables, numb with incomprehension, shattered by grief, trying to write a eulogy for their child. No parent should ever bury their child.

“Yet seven Australians die every day at their own hand.

“Every single day.

“We can do better than this.

“A new Labor Government will start by providing $72 million for 12 regional suicide prevention project, Mr Shorten said.

He said the election on July 2 would be “ a referendum on the future of Medicare.

“Medicare is the community standard, it’s the gold standard, it speaks to Australians about who we are,” he added.

“And Medicare costs Australia far less than other countries pay, and we get better care,” Mr Shorten said.

And he added:”The Liberals have given the Productivity Commission new riding instructions, to investigate privatising human services and Americanising Medicare.

“This is Mr Turnbull’s second strike on Medicare and we know he won’t stop, he won’t rest,” Mr Shorten added.

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Thursday 16th June 2016 - 1:43 pm
Comments Off on Looking behind those unemployment figures

Looking behind those unemployment figures

by Alan Thornhill



The job market figures, that were published today, don’t look too bad.


Indeed graphs that the Bureau of Statistics presented with its  May labour force figures appear to show things moving both strongly and in the right directions.


They show Australia’s unemployment rates unmistakably on  a downward path.


Total employment, too, is rising strongly.


The Bureau’s integrity, too, is beyond question.


So why, then, does the uncomfortable feeling, that perhaps the monthly labour force figures are no longer capturing the full picture, of Australia’s increasingly complex labour markets,  persist?


There are, of course, special cases, as there always will be.


The nation’s latest youth unemployment rate, for example, has not yet been published.


But it will probably turn out to be roughly double the general unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent.


What else, though, is actually going on out  there in the real  world?


One figure, that the bureau did publish today, offers a clue.


The bureau said Australia’s labour force underutilisation rate was steady in May, at 14.2 per cent.


That means, at the very least, that many workers who have lost “old” jobs, perhaps in the now abandoned car industry, are still waiting around – maybe  in part time work – until they can get better “new” jobs – making submarines.


But will that part time work pay their grocery bills?


And what do we mean by full time work, anyway?


There are still many  questions to be asked – and answered – about Australia’s new workplace practices.

Wednesday 1st June 2016 - 2:47 pm
Comments Off on So what happened?

So what happened?

by Alan Thornhill


That was quite a trick.

The Australian economy grew by 1.1 per cent in the first three months of this year.

And by 3.1 per cent over the year to the end of March.

What is particularly remarkable about these seasonally adjusted figures, produced by the Statistician today is that this growth, which was boosted by our exports, was achieved, as the prices we were getting for them were falling.

Quite sharply, in fact.

Indeed the Statistician also reports that our terms of trade dropped by 11.5 per cent over the year, including a 1.9 per cent fall in the March quarter itself.

So how did we do it?

Overwhelmingly, by selling quite a lot more of the stuff that we do produce well.

Mining products, for example.

The Bureau notes that their value rose by 6.2 per cent in the quarter.

And our household consumption spending rose by 0.4 percentage points in that time.

Impressive figures, certainly.

Especially for uncertain times, like the present.

But we shouldn’t read too much into them.

And they can bounce around quite around quite a bit.

So we shouldn’t be too surprised if we find our political leaders differing a little in their views of these developments.

Sunday 29th May 2016 - 1:45 pm
Comments Off on Labor attacks PM’s company tax cuts

Labor attacks PM’s company tax cuts

by Alan Thornhill

Malcolm Turnbull cant’ fund schools or Medicare because he is giving $50 billion worth of tax cuts to big business, a senior Labor figure said today.

Speaking on ABC television, the shadow finance minister, Tony Burke also hinted that the opposition might be able to announce some changes, that would leave
Australian families better off, before the election on July 2.

“….and we’ll have more to say about that later in the campaign,” Mr Burke added.

However he kept the strongest words, in the interview, for an attack on the Prime Minister.

“His tax cut is effectively the biggest single give away of the election campaign,” Mr Burke said

“We’re talking about $50 billion to some of the biggest businesses in the country,” he added.

” Now, the impact of that, in the first instance, means that is why Malcolm Turnbull is making the decision he can’t fund Medicare and he can’t fund schools.”Mr Burke said.

“What does it mean for Australian shareholders? Australian shareholders,” he asked.

Mr Burke said local shareholders – including anyone with a superannuation account – would “receive a fraction of the benefit that goes to foreign shareholders.”

He said the changes Labor is proposing, to tax and other laws, would in make sure that “we have proper investment in education.”

“That’s not only school education, that’s university as well.

” It’s in higher education.

“It’s in making sure you have a better skilled work force.

” Now – bizarrely – in this election campaign, the Liberal Party have wanted to argue somehow there’s no productivity improvement for having a better trained and skilled work force,” Mr Burke said.

Friday 27th May 2016 - 1:27 pm
Comments Off on Anxiety strikes Australian women

Anxiety strikes Australian women

by Alan Thornhill

Anxiety remains a big problem for young women in Australia.

This is confirmed in new research carried out by the National Australia Bank.

It is reported today in the bank’s Quarterly Australian Wellbeing Index.

The bank says that around 1 in 6 “highly” anxious Australians are not coping and young women are struggling most

It identifies anxiety as the main detractor of personal wellbeing in Australia.

The bank says this mirrors results in many other advanced countries.

However it notes that some of us are managing our anxiety much better than others.

“In this report, we asked how well “highly” anxious Australians think they are managing their anxiety,” the bank said.

“ On average, around 60 per cent of highly anxious Australians believe they are coping well, around 25 per cent are managing but around 16 per cent are not coping.”

“The survey also reveals significant differences in how well different groups are coping with their anxiety,” it added.

”While both young men and young women identify as having high levels of anxiety, around 1 in 3 young women who have “high” anxiety say they are not managing their anxiety well,” the bank said.

It said this is “ by far the biggest share of any group.

“In contrast, fewer than 1 in 10 young men with “high” anxiety believe they are not managing it well. ”

The bank’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, said:“ while this is clearly a concern, it is unclear to what extent young women feel more comfortable speaking about their ability to cope with anxiety than young men”.

The bank said:” around 1 in 4 highly anxious singles and defactos are also not managing their anxiety well.

The report also updates NAB’s Wellbeing Index for the March quarter 2016.

Wellbeing fell to 64 in Q1 2016 (64.4 in Q4 2015), with all measures rated lower, except anxiety.

Among key demographic groups, wellbeing was highest in Tasmania, capital cities, for high income earners (+$100K), men, over 50s, widows, two person households, those without kids and professional and part time workers.

In contrast, wellbeing was lowest for singles, young Australians (particularly women), low income earners (less than $35,000) and labourers.

Saturday 21st May 2016 - 7:52 pm
Comments Off on PM talks of extra protection for the Great Barrier Reef and….

PM talks of extra protection for the Great Barrier Reef and….

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced new measures today to protect the Great Barrier Reef and other Australian tourist attractions.

He also said he had not been told in advance of plans by the Federal police to raid a Labor party office and homes in Melbourne searching for leaked material, about the woes of his troubled National Broadband network.

The broadcaster, David Attenborough, who recently completed a series of programs on the Great Barrier Reef, said later that it is mad to think that unlimited growth is possible in a finite world.

Mr Turnbull, who will face elections on July 2, said that before European settlement rainwater had sunk into Australian soils, and had been cleaned naturally before it reached the sea.

But he added: “As there is more development, you get more runoff.

“You get more nutrients in the water.

“And you see what’s called the wrack, the weeds, you see along the foreshore there and a deterioration of the quality overall.

He was speaking in the Tuggerah Lakes district, a series of three interconnected lagoons, on the New South Wales central coast.

Mr TurnbullHe said the government’s new policy: “… means installing more and better pollutant traps so that large, as you know, large bits of rubbish don’t float into the lakes.

Mr Turnbull said that – as they had developed their communities – European settlers had allowed water to rush through, rush down drains and storm water pipes, far too quickly.

“So the key is to slow it down< Mr Turnbull said. He said: "... one of the big priorities of the Great Barrier Reef, for example - is to build swales *along streams. (my dictionary says swales are "... low tracts of land, especially ones that are moist or marshy. The term can refer to natural landscape features or a human-created ones It says artificial swales are often designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration). “So when the run-off comes off fields, particularly with fertilisers, instead of rushing straight into the water-course, it is slowed down, settles and sinks into the ground and is then naturally cleaned through the environment,” Mr Turnbull said. He also confirmed that his Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, had known about the Federal police investigation into the NBN leaks some months ago but did not tell him. “...yes, that’s right,” Mr Turnbull said when questioned on the matter. “I think it’s entirely appropriate,” he added.

Friday 20th May 2016 - 8:47 am
Comments Off on Labor suspects PM behind police raids on rivals

Labor suspects PM behind police raids on rivals

by Alan Thornhill

Labor suspects that Malcolm Turnbull’s embarrassment at cost blowouts on the National Broadband Network is behind police raids Stephen Conroy’s office in Melbourne.

However the Prime Minister has not yet commented on the allegations made by the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus.

The raids are unprecedented during an Australian election campaign.

They have rocked the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten’s, bid to replace Mr Turnbull as Australia’s Prime Minister, in a double dissolution election on July 2.

There have been reports of big cost over-runs – and likely poor performance – of the National Broadband Network.

These have been blamed on leaks.

Mr Dreyfus said last night: “I can confirm the office of Labor Senator Stephen Conroy has this evening been searched by the AFP.

“I understand two Labor staff members have also been named in warrants relating to this matter.

“I understand these searches are in relation to documents relating to NBN Co.”

“I have no further information about these documents,” Mr Dreyfus added.

Sunday 8th May 2016 - 3:52 pm
Comments Off on The economy:according to the experts

The economy:according to the experts

by Alan Thornhill


More jobs?

More rate cuts?

What, really, are Australia’s economic prospects?

These are questions are critical, now that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has visited government house, seeking the Governor General’s approval for an early double dissolution elections on July 2.

Puzzling ones, too, as this election will be held against a background of falling prices.


Not the inflation that most of us have come to know well.

So this will be a rare experience.

We will need the best possible information.

A chance to look behind what our politicians are telling us, in a fiercely fought election campaign.

Fortunately, the experts who have the best access to that information are much more generous in sharing it than they used to be.

They include people like the Reserve Bank’s Glenn Stevens, and the Secretary to the Treasury, John Fraser.

Of course, having good information, provides no guarantee that people will be right, in their conclusions.

A former Treasurer, Paul Keating, pointed that out quite forcefully, in a current book by Kerry O‘Brien, called Keating.

He was speaking there of the troubled times, in the late 1980s following the global economic crisis.

But it’s just as worthwhile consulting the experts now, as it was back then.

Even though they are still careful to avoid saying anything which might be regarded as politically partisan.

So what are they saying, now?

Mr Stevens issued statements, on Tuesday and Friday last week, explaining why the Reserve bank had cut its marker interest rate by 25 basis points, to a new low of 1.75 per cent.

Friday’s 66 page statement goes into some detail.

(And it is just the right length for downloading onto your Ipad, if you haven’t done so, already).

It notes, for example, that we appear to be spending more than we earn, at present.

“Growth in consumption is forecast to be maintained at a pace that is a little above average despite only modest growth in wages,” it concludes.

There is lot more like that on Australia’s present – and likely future – economy, in the Reserve Bank’s latest statement on monetary policy.

You’ll find it at

John Fraser, the Treasury Secretary, also had some interesting things to say last Friday, when he appeared before the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, to comment on the 2016-17 Budget estimates.

He noted, for example, that there “will be opportunities for Australia” in the current transition from a commodities based economy, to something much broader.

If you’d like to grab some of those opportunities, for your business or yourself, the Treasury website is also worth a visit.

You can see it at

Even if all you want is a little help in deciding how you will vote on July 2.


My book

wx 2

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

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.

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