Browsing articles in "Diplomacy"
Monday 18th July 2016 - 7:17 pm
Comments Off on Tony Abbott:off the team

Tony Abbott:off the team

by Alan Thornhill

Tony Abbott has missed out on a place in Malcolm Turnbull’s new ministry and Christopher Pyne is to become Australia’s new minister for defence industry.

 

The Prime Minister has also named Josh Frydenberg Australia’s new environment minister.

 

This has angered environmentalists who say Mr Frydenberg has always favoured the  coal industry over the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Mr Turnbull’s new ministry and cabinet are to be sworn in next week.

 

The Prime Minister’s decision to leave his predecessor, Mr Abbott, off his front bench comes as no surprise, even though hard right MPs, within the Liberal Party, would have welcomed such a move.

 

As he  promised do before the election, Mr Turnbull generally avoided unecssary changes changes when he announced his new team today.

 

But Mr Frydenberg will become minister for the environment and energy.

 

Mr Turnbull said all his previous cabinet ministers had been reappointed although there had been some changes and expansions in their duties.

 

He said:  “Senator Fiona Nash will add Local Government and Territories to her Regional Development and Regional Communications roles.

 

“Christopher Pyne will be appointed to the new role of Minister for Defence Industry, within the Defence portfolio.

 

“Mr Pyne will be responsible for overseeing our new Defence Industry Plan that came out of the Defence White Paper.

 

“This includes the most significant naval shipbuilding program since the Second World War.

 

“This is a key national economic development role. This program is vitally important for the future of Australian industry and especially advanced manufacturing.

 

“The Minister for Defence Industry will oversee the Naval Shipbuilding Plan which will itself create 3,600 new direct jobs and thousands more across the supply chain across Australia.

 

“Beyond shipbuilding, there is a massive Defence Industry Investment and Acquisition Program on land, in the air and inside cyberspace.

 

“This is a massive step change set out in the Defence White Paper. This investment in Defence Industry, as you know, is a key part of our economic plan.

 

“It will drive the jobs and the growth in advanced manufacturing, in technology, right across the country. And I’m appointing Christopher to be the Minister to oversee that and ensure that those projects are delivered.

 

“As I said at the outset, this is a term of government for delivery.

 

“We will be judged in 2019 by the Australian people as to whether we have delivered on the plans and the programs and the investments that we have promised and set out and described in the lead-up to the election.

 

Greg Hunt will move from Environment to become the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, where he will drive the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

 

“Can I say that Mr Hunt has been an outstanding Environment Minister and he served in that portfolio in Government and indeed, in opposition.

 

“He has a keen understanding of innovation, he has a keen understanding of science and technology and he will give new leadership to that important portfolio and those important agendas so central to our economic plan.

 

“Josh Frydenberg will move to the expanded Environment and Energy portfolio combining all the key energy policy areas.

 

“These include energy security and domestic energy markets for which he has been previously responsible in the current portfolio. Renewable energy targets, clean energy development and financing and emission reduction mechanisms which are part of Environment.

 

“Senator Matt Canavan will be promoted to Cabinet as the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and I welcome Senator Canavan to the Cabinet in this key economic development role,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday 12th July 2016 - 1:42 pm
Comments Off on PM’s “get out of jail” card

PM’s “get out of jail” card

by Alan Thornhill

Analysis

 

What happens now that Malcolm Turnbull has at least the 76 lower house seats that he needs to form majority government?

 

We can expect to see tight government, as the Prime Minister takes up the reins, to start his fresh three year term.

 

Not quite as tight, though, as the independent Bob Katter has suggested.

 

 

Mr Katter warned, not altogether seriously, that a government with a majority of one, might lose a critical vote, if he left Parliament to attend his mother’s funeral, or to respond to a call of nature.

 

That’s not a worry

 

Australian parliaments, thankfully, have civilised arrangements called “pairing” to deal with exigencies like these.

 

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, though, did raise as serious matter, when he warned of divisions in the Liberal party, particularly those involving the hard right, which supported Tony Abbott against Malcolm Turnbull, last September.

 

They have not forgotten or forgiven.

 

That became clear this week, when one member, Cory Bernardi, sent e-mails to supporters, urging them not to “… allow the political left to keep eroding our values, undermining our culture and diminishing our important institutions.”

 

The ratings agency, Standard and Poors, delivered the biggest challenge Mr Turnbull will face late last week, though, when it put Australia’s triple A credit rating on “negative watch.”

 

It cited both uncertainties which then existed about the July 2 election results and high levels of both domestic and international debt.

 

This means that the agency might well downgrade Australia’s presently excellent credit rating, if we don’t get those issues under control, over the next two years.

 

An astute Prime Minister might see it as more than that, too.

 

A “get out of jail free card” in fact.

 

Even governments which want to keep their pre-election promises often find it very difficult to do so.

 

So what could Mr Turnbull do, if he finds himself in that all-too-likely position?

Mr Shorten warned, during that eight week election campaign, that this is no time to be giving big companies $50 billion worth of tax cuts, over 5 years, even if they are to be phased in slowly.

 

And a report funded by Getup and published just days before the election said big miners and cigarette companies would be among the main winners, from that policy, which Mr Turnbull repeatedly said would create more “jobs and growth.

 

The miners, perhaps.

 

The cigarette companies.

 

Never.

 

So some adjustments can be expected there.

 

Nick Xenophon might also  be in for some disappointment when he comes to Canberra, seeking more money, to protect the jobs of steel workers, in his home State of South Australia.

 

Mr Turnbull might even be able to convince voters that some restraint in these areas is virtuous, as well as necessary, to avoid extra interest rate pain, for home buyers and others.

 

 

If he is astute enough.

 

 

Sunday 10th July 2016 - 7:09 pm
Comments Off on PM claims victory

PM claims victory

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, claimed victory today in the Federal elections that were held on July 2.

 

He said the Labor Leader, Bill Shorten, had telephoned him earlier today and congratulated him on being re-elected as Prime Minister.

 

Then he added: “Mr Shorten said earlier today that he looked forward to seeking to reach common ground.

 

“And I welcome that remark, I welcome that.

 

“Because it is vital that this Parliament works.

 

“It is vital that we work together and as far as we can, find ways upon which we can all agree, consistent with our policies that we have taken to the election, consistent with our political principles, that we meet the great challenges Australia faces.

 

“We need to ensure that we have a strong economy in the years ahead,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

The newly re-elected Prime Minister then set out broad objectives, for his second term.

 

He said: “We need to ensure that we maintain a successful transition from the economy fuelled up by the mining construction boom, to one that is more diverse.

 

“We need to ensure that Medicare and education, our health services, and all those vital government services are provided for and Australians feel secure that they are provided for and guaranteed.

 

“And at the same time, we have to ensure that we bring our Budget back into balance.

 

“These challenges are not easy, there’s no simple solution to them.

 

“But that’s why they need our best brains, our best minds and above all, our best goodwill in this new Parliament to deliver that.,” he said.

 

 

He also dismissed a reporter’s suggestion that he might have more trouble with the new Senate than he had with the old, saying there were always cross benchers in the Senate  and there would only be one more in the new Senate.

 

Mr Turnbull also signalled, very clearly, that he would  not be taking his predecessor, Tony Abbott, back into Cabinet.

 

He said: “I have obviously given consideration to the Ministry both before and after the election and as you know I have said that the Ministry I lead – I led to the election, will be the Ministry I lead after the election.

 

“Regrettably several ministers have not been returned and so there will be some changes.

 

” but you shouldn’t anticipate large scale changes. ”

 

 

 

 

Monday 4th July 2016 - 8:46 am
Comments Off on Australia’s next PM? The one who is better on the blower

Australia’s next PM? The one who is better on the blower

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s political leaders will be hitting their phones this week, trying to scrape together enough support to give the country stable government for the next three years.

 

The main rivals, Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who heads a conservative coalition and Bill Shorten, who leads the Labor party both found themselves short of the 76 seats they would need, in the House of Representatives, to govern in their own right, at the end of the initial, but still incomplete, count.

 

Late yesterday, Labor had 67 seats, the Coalition 65, others 5 and 13 were still in doubt.

 

The Australian Electoral Commission had counted 78.2 per cent of the votes cast, at that point.

 

It will not resume the count until Tuesday, and the final result, for the House, will probably not be known until some time next week.

 

Mr Turnbull had made much of the need he saw for stability, during the late stages of the eight week election campaign, particularly after Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
However the swing to Labor, evident in Saturday’s election, showed that voters were more impressed with Mr Shorten’s warning that only Labor could be trusted to protect Australia’s health insurance system, Medicare.

 

Mr Turnbull had sought support for a plan centred on tax cuts for big companies and high income earners.

 

He had warned that a big spending Labor government could not be trusted to manage Australia’s economy responsibly.

 

And, at a news conference today, he welcomed a question from a reporter who asked him if the election result could threaten Australia’s TripleA credit rating.
He thanked the reporter and said: “This is why it is very important … for me to explain what is happening at the moment.”

 

“We are simply going through a process of completing a count,” Mr Turnbull said.

 

The Prime Minister also said that he could still form a new government, for the next three years.

 

However Bill Shorten greeted the initial count with a triumphal declaration.

 

He conceded that the public might not know the outcome of Saturday’s election : “…for some days to come.”

 

“But there is one thing for sure – the Labor Party is back.” he said.

 

But which of these two men is likely to be Australia’s Prime Minister over the next three years?

 

The answer to that question will depend, very much, on their relative telephone skills.

Wednesday 22nd June 2016 - 6:55 pm
Comments Off on Who gets the good jobs?

Who gets the good jobs?

by Alan Thornhill

The hours you spend studying – after you leave school – are  likely to  lead to better jobs – and much better pay.

These lessons have not been lost on Australia’s migrants, who often come to this country seeking better chances in life.

 

We can say these things confidently, because they are based on research just published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

 

The Bureau notes, for example, that more than three quarters – 82 per cent – of people with a non-school qualification were employed last year, compared with  just 61 per cent of those who didn’t.

A second degree, or other non school qualification, can also do much to boost personal income.

In fact the bureau said:  “average personal weekly income increased with the number of non-school qualifications completed.

 

“Men working full-time, who held two or more non-school qualifications, earned on average $813 per week more than their full-time working counterparts without a non-school qualification.

 

“Similarly, full-time employed females with multiple non-school qualifications earned an average $504 per week more than those working full-time without a non-school qualification.”

 

But what of those adult migrants?

 

That is people who came to this country after their 15th birthdays.

 

The Bureau said:  “In 2015, 73 per cent of adult migrants aged 15–64 years had a non-school qualification compared with 58 per cent of those born in Australia.

 

The proportion of adult migrants who had a Bachelor degree or higher on arrival had increased from 23 per cent  for those who migrated before 2001 to 45 per cent for those who migrated after 2010.

 

“The proportion of adult migrants who held a non-school qualification on arrival to Australia increased from 39 per cent for those who arrived before 2001, to 62 per cent for those arriving after 2010.

 

“This increase is most notable in female adult migrants, with 32 per cent having a non-school qualification on arrival before 2001 compared with 61 per cent for those arriving after 2010,”  the bureau said.

Friday 10th June 2016 - 12:08 pm
Comments Off on Why we risked all:PM

Why we risked all:PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is trying to steer the election campaign back to where it started.

That is with his attempt to restore peace in the building and construction industry.

And in a speech to the American Australian Association & US Studies Centre last night, Mr Turnbull also argued that Australia’s increasing involvement with Asia is making this country’s reliance on America more important than ever.

He said the government had launched an unusually long –eight week – campaign for re-election  “in order to break the deadlock between the House of

Representatives and the Senate over two critical pieces of legislation relating to industrial relations.

“and one of those is the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission,”  Mr Turnbull said.

That aim had – previously – been hardly mentioned during the campaign, which has now passed its half-way mark.

But, last night,  Mr Turnbull declared that the course he had chosen is: “the only way we can get the rule of law restored to the construction sector.”

He said the sector  employs one million people.

“ and the restoration of law to that sector is a vital economic reform, and part of our economic plan to secure our prosperity.”

“the only way we can get that passed is through this double dissolution and getting the numbers collectively in the House and the Senate to pass that law and restore rule of law through a joint sitting of the parliament,” Mr Turnbull said.

“ That’s our commitment,” he added.

Mr Tunbull also paid tribute to a previous Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, who attended last night’s function.

He said: “John understood that the United States is the irreplaceable anchor to the global rules-based order – an order built upon shared political values and common economic and security interests.

“The truth of his insight has been affirmed by every subsequent Prime Minister of Australia.

“Earlier this year I visited and thanked our men and women serving alongside US forces in Afghanistan, in what is now the longest commitment in our military history.

“And also our forces in Iraq, where we are together with the United States and other allies jointly pushing back, rolling back the brutality and barbarity of Daesh or ISIL.

“And not a day, truthfully not a minute, goes by without our intelligence agencies working together – saving lives – in the fight against terrorism.

“Our ANZUS alliance and broader relationship is anchored in a history that is even deeper and richer than many of us realise,” Mr Turnbull concluded.

Sunday 5th June 2016 - 7:13 pm
Comments Off on Labor “a risk” PM

Labor “a risk” PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says the election of a Labor government is now the only risk to the creation of new jobs in South Australia.

Campaigning on Adelaide Sunday, Mr Turnbull spoke of the new jobs he said would appear in that state, as the Federal government’s submarine building program gets under way.

“The only risk to these jobs starting immediately this year is Labor,” the Prime Minister said.

“Labor failed to commission a single naval ship from an Australian yard in six years of government.

“Labor cut more than $18 billion from defence funding and delayed more than 100 projects.

“Risking critical gaps in capability, Labor’s neglect plunged naval shipbuilding in South Australia into the notorious valley of death.

The Prime Minister said:“ South Australians should think very carefully about whether we can afford more Labor delays and cancellations.”

He said: “Now, our GDP, our economy grew 3.1 per cent in the year to March, faster than any of the G7 economies and well above the OECD average.

“That doesn’t happen by accident.

“You need a clear plan.

“You need strong economic leadership.

’You need a pro-growth, pro-business agenda that drives investment and jobs.

“In the last calendar year, 300,000 new jobs were created and two thirds of these were women.

Mr Turnbull said: “450,000 jobs have been created since the last election.

“But we can and must do more.

We are strongly positioned to gain from growth in the large, dynamic economies of Asia.

“Our export trade deals with China, Korea and Japan are giving farmers a competitive edge and opening doors for our service industries into those expanding markets, Mr Turnbull said.

Thursday 2nd June 2016 - 10:22 pm
Comments Off on PM rebuked over war talk

PM rebuked over war talk

by Alan Thornhill

Chris Bowen said today that “the Australian people had a right to be disappointed” at the language Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison chose to attack Labor over proposed company tax cuts.

Stepping up their attacks, over the past few days, the Prime Minister and his Treasurer have repeatedly resorted to talk of war.

They did so as the bodies of Australian soldiers, killed in the Vietnam war, were flown back to their homeland.

Mr Bowen is Labor’s shadow treasurer.

Speaking of the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten Mr Turnbull had said: “Bill Shorten has declared war on business.

And he added ” the first casualties of Shorten’s war on business are Australian jobs.”

Asked today, if he would continue to use such provocative words, Mr Turnbull replied: “You have just heard me use them.”

Mr Morrison also accused Mr Shorten of declaring “war on business” and added:-
” “…and using “tax as their bullets.”

These comments were made as the first two RAAF planes carrying the remains of the Australian soldiers touched down on home soil.

Vietnam veterans were not impressed.

The national president of the Vietnam Veterans Association, Ken Foster, said war metaphors shouldn’t be used and “certainly not on a day like today”.

Mr Bowen responded carefully, when a reporter asked him to comment on Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison’s words.

He said: “I think the Prime Minister and Treasurer might want to reflect on the use of that language today.

“ Especially today.

“They might want to reflect on that.

“ I think the Australian people have a right to be disappointed in the Prime Minister’s language.

“ I don’t intend to add anything further to that. I think they might want to just reflect about the use of that language on a day when we are considering war in another context.”

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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