Browsing articles in "farms"
Tuesday 17th November 2015 - 3:04 pm
Comments Off on The economy:how the RBA sees it

The economy:how the RBA sees it

by Alan Thornhill

The Reserve Bank expects Australia’s economic growth will remain below its target range, even tbough we will keep spending.


It made this clear today, when it published the minutes of its the board meeting it held earlier this month.


The bank said it expects Australia’s economic growth to be be between 2 and 3 per cent, in the period until June next year, before rising to 2.75 per cent.


The bank aims to keep growth between 3 and 4 per cent, over the course of a business cycle.


However the shortfall now in sight is probably not big enough to cause the bank to cut its marker interest rate – which now stands at 2 per cent – in an attempt to boost growth.


The bank said its board members had noted that recent data on economic activity in Australia suggested that the moderate economic expansion had continued.


The very low level of interest rates was supporting growth in household consumption and dwelling investment.


In addition, the Australian dollar was adjusting to significant declines in key commodity prices and boosting demand for domestic production.


This had been most evident in the services sector, which had experienced strong employment growth over the past year.


And while measures of non-mining investment intentions had remained subdued, surveys of business conditions had strengthened to above-average levels.

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Thursday 5th November 2015 - 10:48 am
Comments Off on A scientific look at our prospects

A scientific look at our prospects

by Alan Thornhill

Some of Australia’s best scientists say the nation’s economic prospects are bright.


But they also caution that our prosperity in future will depend on the choices we make now.


This advice is offered in the Australian National Outlook report which the CSIRO published today.


Standing back from their test tubes for a moment, these scientists warned bluntly that Australia’s future will be shaped by innovation and technology uptake and the choices we make as a society will be paramount.

They are proud of their report, describing it as “, is the most comprehensive quantitative analysis yet of the interactions between economic growth, water-energy-food use, environmental outcomes and living standards in Australia.”


CSIRO Executive Director Dr Alex Wonhas said the report focuses on the ‘physical economy’ that contributes to about 75 per cent of natural resource use and produces about 25 per cent of Australia’s GDP.


“The National Outlook is a first attempt to understand and analyse the connections in Australia’s physical environment many decades into the future,” Dr Wonhas said.


“It has a particular focus on understanding two aspects: The ‘water- energy-food nexus’ and the prospects for Australia’s materials- and energy-intensive industries.”


National Outlook finds a number of key insights and potential opportunities across the Australian economy.? ?“For example, we find strong growth prospects for Australia’s agri-food production, which are forecast to increase at least 50 per cent by 2050, provided long term productivity improvements can be maintained in line with historical rates,” Dr Wonhas said.


So are we to do?


Dr Wonhas says:”“There’s a ….possibility of a win-win for farmers with potential growth in agri-food exports and new income sources for rural landholders through carbon farming on less productive land.”


What about water?


The report acknowledges that demand for water will grow with population.


But it adds:“Despite projections of a doubling of our water use, Australia could meet this growth as well as enhance urban water security and avoid increased environmental pressures through increased water recycling, desalination and integrated catchment management.”


It says too, that energy and other resources could remain a pillar of the Australian economy well into the future.


And it says our energy intensive industries could be well positioned to continue to grow, even in scenarios where the world is taking global action to significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.


“The key to this success will be innovation and application of smart technologies,” Dr Wonhas said.


“We hope the National Outlook will help Australia chart its future in an increasingly complex and interconnected world,” he added


The National Outlook explores over 20 possible futures for Australia out to 2050 against the backdrop of the past 40 years.??The work was undertaken by a team of 40 CSIRO experts and university collaborators, and draws extensively on observed data and analysis.


It utilises a world-class suite of nine linked models, includes input from more than 80 experts and stakeholders from over ten organisations and has undergone rigorous international peer review.


National Outlook is underpinned by more than 10 journal papers including a Nature paper published today.  The report is available at outlook

Monday 12th October 2015 - 12:30 pm
Comments Off on Home buyers still borrowing heavily……

Home buyers still borrowing heavily……

by Alan Thornhill

Australians are still borrowing heavily for housing, but the amount of lease finance taken out dropped sharply in August.

Seasonally adjusted figures that the Bureau of Statistics published today showed that home buyers borrowed $20,795 million that month, 6.1 per cent more than the amount borrowed in July.
However the $601 million borrowed in August – by way of lease finance – was 33.2 per cent below the comparable figure for the previous month.

The $42,037 million worth of commercial finance, taken out in August, was 4.4 per cent below the amount borrowed in July.

We are also becoming more cautious about how much we borrow for personal finance.

The Bureau reports that we borrowed just $7,184 million to finance personal transactions in August 2.5 per cent less than we borrowed in July.

Wednesday 9th September 2015 - 6:09 pm
Comments Off on It’s “manageable” Hockey says

It’s “manageable” Hockey says

by Alan Thornhill

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says the challenges now facing major global economies are “manageable.”

In a statement to parliament today, Mr Hockey said : “whilst the global economy faces some headwinds, there is a deep resolve amongst policy makers to implement domestic and international initiatives that help to deliver structural improvements in growth.”

But he added:” The recent volatility in global financial markets reminds us that this is not a time to be complacent.”

“We have all been affected by the deterioration in business and consumer confidence as a result of significant volatility in currency markets, equity markets and commodity prices.

“As a result of this, all countries must do more to implement enduring structural reforms that boost growth and create new jobs.”

Mr Hockey, who has just returned from a G20 meeting in Turkey, said: ” The frank and honest exchange about the real challenges we all face provided me with a sense of cautious optimism.”

He said US representatives at that meeting had flagged their intention to start raising interest rates soon.

“This is a positive signal that illustrates a sustainable improvement in the US economy.”

But Mr Hockey cautioned.

“Yes, there may be some volatility in markets as a result of the decision.”

“… but like the previous so called “taper tantrum” associated with the ending of quantitative easing, the transition is definitely manageable.”

Mr Hockey said China needs to undertake some “difficult structural reforms.”

However he sees bright prospects there, too, although he admits this process will take some time.

This is a process that will take a number of years as China moves from an investment economy to a consumption economy, Mr Hockey said.

But he added.

“This will be of great benefit to the Australian economy where non-mining exports represent the greatest opportunity for medium-term job growth.”

Mr Hockey said, too, that:” Our involvement with other economies such as Europe has not waned.”

“The recovery in the euro area will continue, supported by accommodative monetary policy and low oil prices, but at a slower pace.”

Friday 4th September 2015 - 1:02 pm
Comments Off on Graziers call for a halt to giant coal project

Graziers call for a halt to giant coal project

by Alan Thornhill

Queensland graziers are calling for government intervention to block the proposed Alpha coal mine, despite a Supreme Court ruling allowing it to proceed.

And they have vowed that they will “stand firm” against the GVK Hancock project themselves, in the meantime.

A West Queensland grazier, Bruce Currie, one of three who challenged the proposed project in court, declared after the court announced its decision today that “justice had not been done.”

He said he – and other graziers – had been trying for years to reach agreement with Gina Rinehart – and her company – on the impact the proposed mine would have on their operations.

“We’ve been trying for almost three years to have an honest conversation about the billions of litres of water GVK Hancock wants to take from our country,” Mr Currie said.

“But, from the start, all they’ve given us is the run-around.”

“If this mine goes ahead, it risks draining away the groundwater that our lives and businesses depend on.

“This is our lifeblood.

“We cannot sit back and allow permanent damage to groundwater supplies and the Great Artesian Basin.”

“The agricultural industry in central west Queensland absolutely depends on groundwater.

“And the proposed Alpha coal mine is stated to remove up to 176 billion litres of water over its lifetime, depleting the groundwater table and impacting family-run, sustainable farming businesses.

“We’ve had a gutful of governments and big coal fast-tracking these massive mines without proper process, and trampling on us and farming families along the way,” Mr Currie said.

” This our life.

” We are producing high quality food off this land we love.

“We are grateful that we have a legal system in Australia that protects the country we hold dear, but today I feel like we’ve been failed.”

“It’s down to the government now to stop this mine.

“If they’re interested in the future of this country, they should protect a viable farming sector, not unviable foreign miners,” Mr Currie said.

Thursday 3rd September 2015 - 1:47 pm
Comments Off on International trade improves but retail trade falls

International trade improves but retail trade falls

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s international trade improved in July but retail sales fell.

Both developments are confirmed in figures the Bureau of Statistics released today.

The Bureau reported that the nation chalked up a deficit of $2,460 million on its international goods and services trade for the month, on seasonally adjusted estimates.

It said that was $590 million less than the comparable figure for June.

The Bureau also reported that retail sales – during July – were 0.1 per cent lower than those in June.

There had been a 0.6 per cent rise in retail sales in June.

Shoppers spent more on clothes and shoes in July and in department stores, cafes and restaurants in July.

But our spending in food stores was flat.

The bureau also said that retail sales had risen in Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory in the month.

But they had fallen in NSW, Victoria and the ACT .

Sales in Tasmania had been flat.

Friday 14th August 2015 - 3:15 pm
Comments Off on “We’ll scrap direct action” Shorten

“We’ll scrap direct action” Shorten

by Alan Thornhill

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, says a Labor government would scrap Tony Abbott’s “direct action” policy which he described as “wasteful.”

The Prime Minister says his policy, which offers subsidies to companies which reduce or stop polluting, is an effective way of tackling climate change.

However, in a statement today, Mr Shorten said:” Tony Abbott is stuck in the past when it comes to climate change, and he wants to keep all of Australia with him.”

Then he added:”Australians know he (Mr Abbott) doesn’t believe climate change is real.

“But we can’t afford to let Tony Abbott’s flat earth views hold our country back.”

The Opposition Leader said:” the Government’s emissions reduction target puts Australia at the back of the pack in the lead up to Paris and yet we have the highest emissions per person in the developed world.

“The truth is that without investing in renewable energy, without an emissions trading scheme, without modernising our overall energy sector – it doesn’t matter what number the government picks – because we won’t get there.”

“To date, Tony Abbott’s only response to climate change has been to give billions of dollars to big polluters under Direct Action, run ridiculous scare campaigns and try to destroy the renewable energy industry,” Mr Shorten said.

“Direct Action is a waste of money built on one counter-productive idea: giving great wads of taxpayer cash to big polluters to keep polluting.”

Mr Shorten also said: “Malcolm Turnbull has said Direct Action is ‘a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale’. ”

He recalled, too, that an independent firm, Reputex, had reported last week that under Tony Abbott’s policy, emissions will actually rise by 20 per cent over the next decade.

“This is in spite of all the money being paid to polluters, and expected to grow to around $200 million a year according to Greg Hunt,” Mr Shorten said.

“We can’t afford to waste taxpayers’ money on a plan that won’t work,” he added.

“And Australia can’t afford to sit on the sidelines or turn our back on global efforts.”

He said:”A Shorten Labor Government will put a strong commitment to renewable energy at the centre of Australia’s response to climate change.

Renewable energy will deliver new investment, good jobs, lower power bills for homes and small businesses and it will help cut pollution.

“If elected, Labor will scrap the Abbott Government’s expensive and ineffective Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

“We will honour contracts that the Government has entered into, but the waste ends there.

“Based on the remaining uncommitted funding allocated in the 2014 Budget, and the additional $2.4 billion announced this week, abolishing the ERF represents savings of up to $4.3 billion,” Mr Shorten said.

“There is a better, cheaper, faster and more efficient way for Australia to tackle climate change and at the centre of this plan, is renewable energy.”

Tuesday 11th August 2015 - 4:22 pm
Comments Off on PM defends “weak” emissions target

PM defends “weak” emissions target

by Alan Thornhill

If there is to be a significant reduction in emissions there will also a significant cost, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, told Federal parliament today.

He was speaking at question time after his government had been sharply criticised over its plan to reduce emissions by 26 per cent from the 2005 levels by 2030.

Its own Climate Council had recommended 40-60 per cent cuts from the 2000 levels.

Mr Abbott was asked to explain, at one point, why his government’s controversial decision is not “weak and dangerous.”

He said the cost, at some levels, could be in the order of $3 to $4 billion a year.

Mr Abbott said that would be “a massive hit” on the economy.

Critics attacked the government’s new policy early today, even before it had been announced.

The Greens described it as “weak.”

However its decision has won support, too particularly from business which has described it as “practical.”

The government is expected to announce its decision later today.

However in a statement early today, the Climate Council said the government’s decision is “out of step with the rest of the world.”

The Council also said it would disappoint other nations attending a climate summit that is to be held in Paris in November.

The statement quoted Professor Tim Flannery, who said:” these targets are vastly inadequate to protect Australians from the impacts of climate change and do not represent a fair contribution to the world effort to bring climate change under control.”

Labor, too, has criticised the government’s decision.

In a statement early today, the Climate Council said the government’s decision is “out of step with the rest of the world.”

The Council also said it would disappoint other nations attending a climate summit that is to be held in Paris in November.

The statement quoted Professor Tim Flannery who said:”these targets are vastly inadequate to protect Australians from the impacts of climate change and do not represent a fair contribution to the world effort to bring climate change under control.”

Labor, too, has criticised the government’s decision.

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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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