Browsing articles in "Health"
Friday 10th June 2016 - 4:50 pm
Comments Off on Labor budget “savings” target the rich

Labor budget “savings” target the rich

by Alan Thornhill

 
Labor has targeted tax breaks enjoyed by Australians on high incomes, in the Federal budget revisions that it announced today.

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen and Shadow Finance Minister, Tony Burke, said these would include negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions on property purchases.

They said they were advancing a budgdet repair plan “which is fair.”
But many will not agree.

 

In a joint statement the three Labor leaders said: “Labor has been announcing budget repair measures over the last two years to improve the budget and support our investments in schools and Medicare.
“Today we are announcing a $10.1 billion improvement to previously-announced budget measures, as a result of 2016-17 Budget update.
“This includes boosts to our negative gearing and capital gains reforms, and VET-FEE HELP loan caps.
“Labor’s announced savings from these measures now total $122 billion over the medium term,” they added.

 
Then they said: “Labor is today announcing a further $6.1 billion in budget improvements through measures that better target the Private Health Insurance (PHI) rebate, reduce wasteful spending and better target family payments.

 
These measures have been designed to limit the impact on the household budgets of low and middle income families.

 
They saiid the savings would include:-

 

*$3.0 billion from better targeting the PHI rebate over the medium term, by continuing the Government’s 2016-17 threshold freeze and removing the rebate from natural therapies.

 

 

*Reforming Industry Growth Centres, saving $0.5 billion over the medium term.

 

 

*Re-directing DFAT spending to other budget priorities, including the abolition of the Innovation Xchange which focussed on purchasing bean bags. This saves $0.4 billion over the medium term.

 

 

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Friday 10th June 2016 - 1:23 pm
Comments Off on The cards that keep us warm

The cards that keep us warm

by Alan Thornhill

Australian shoppers sharply increased their credit card debt, as cold weather approached this year.

The Bureau of Statistics reported today that revolving personal credit commitments rose by 14.2 per cent in April, a traditional time for buying new clothes and shoes.

The bureau also noted that, overall, personal finance commitments rose by 5 per cent in the month.

But housing finance, for owner occupation, rose by just 0.1 per cent in April.

All of these figures are seasonally adjusted

There were some signs of pre-election caution, though, in the bureau’s lending finance figures for April.

Commercial finance, for example, fell by 3.3 per cent in the month.

And lease finance rose by just 0.4 per cent.

Thursday 2nd June 2016 - 1:28 pm
Comments Off on Retail sales rise – slightly

Retail sales rise – slightly

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s retail sales rose by 0.2 per cent in April.

And our trade deficit shrank by 20 per cent during the month.

These seasonally adjusted figures were published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

The Bureau also said that, on similarly adjusted figures, sales in cafes, restaurants and take away food stores had all risen during the month.

We also spent more on clothing and shoes.

But we spent less on food.

Tne small rise in our spending in April followed a rise of 0.4 per cent on the same indicator in March.

The Bureau also reported yesterday that – spurred by exports – thee Australian economy grew by 3.1 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March.

Tuesday 31st May 2016 - 4:53 pm
Comments Off on Government spending:the talk

Government spending:the talk

by Alan Thornhill

Australian governments are still better at talking about spending restraint than matching their outlays to their income.

This is shown once again in March quarter figures that the Bureau of Statistics published today.

These showed that our governments – at all levels – raised $116.605 billion through tax collections in the quarter, a 2.4 per cent fall from the result seen in the final quarter of 2015.

The Bureau also reported that once general government expenses were counted the nation’s governments were left with a net operating shortfall of almost $4.6 billion, for the first quarter of this year.

So how did we cope?

Easily.

The authorities simply brought out our governments’ credit cards and borrowed another $7.6 billion.

Thursday 31st March 2016 - 4:55 pm
Comments Off on Malcolm Turnbull puts a dodgy case to the Premiers

Malcolm Turnbull puts a dodgy case to the Premiers

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government will use its economic heft, over the next few days, to force the States to impose their own income taxes, to cover an $80 billion cut in Federal health and education funding.

It says the cuts, over 10 years, have been necessitated by shortfalls in expected  revenue growth.

However figures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today, suggest otherwise.

They strongly suggest, that the argument Malcolm Turnbull has advanced, in this case, represents little more than an elaborate job shuffle.

At first, it all seems simple.

The Federal government and the States remain at odds over a tax reform plan that Malcolm Turnbull will put to the Premiers over the next few days.

The Prime Minister will urge the Premiers, at a dinner he will host for them tonight, to impose their own State income taxes to cover an $80 billion cut in Federal revenue, over the next 10 years.

The dinner will  launch proceedings in the latest meeting of the Council of Australian Governments, or COAG.

But Mr Turnbull’s already widely discussed proposal  has not found favour with the Premiers.

However the Prime Minister will insist that shortfalls in expected economic growth have made the cuts necessary.

He will, almost certainly, urge the Premiers over the next few days, to show patience as there are now fresh signs of strength emerging in the economy.

So what do we have, so far?

Another predictable argument between the Federal government and the States, over the carve up of the money used to govern this country.

Ho hum.

But let’s take a closer look at the figures the ABS published today.

They show a remarkably strong trend increase of 3.1 per cent in the number of job vacancies between in Australia between November  last year and February this year .

That left  Australia with 172,900 job vacancies in February this year.

The Bureau also reported  a spectacular trend rise – of 13.4 of cent – in these vacancies since February  last year.

Remarkably, the public sector led the way – with a 24.8 per cent trend rise – over the year, to February.

The  private sector also turned in a strong performance with a 12.4 per cent trend rise.

But as the Federal government is urging the States to do something they don’t want to do – that is impose their own taxes – they would be quite entitled to ask what these figures mean.

Does the spectacular rise in public sector job vacancies, for example, cover a lot of job churning?

The Premiers might  ask, for example, whether highly publicised job cuts – imposed by the Federal  government, were real or illusory.

That is were there a significant number of  Federal public servants who were sacked in  economy drives,  say on Fridays, who were back at new desks, perhaps by the following Mondays.

If job churning of this kind was significant, doesn’t  that cause the Commonwealth case for State income taxes  to collapse?

In any case, the   Federal  government will be hoping that all vacancies are filled quickly.

That would mean that many more people would – once again –  be paying tax and easing the Federal government’s budgetary problems.

Tuesday 29th March 2016 - 12:35 pm
Comments Off on Australians working longer than ever before

Australians working longer than ever before

by Alan Thornhill

Australians aged 45 years and over are intending to work longer than ever before, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics  today.

The Bureau said this was shown in the the results of a survey conducted in 2014-15.

 

It said these showed that 71 per cent of Australians intended to retire at the age of 65 years or over, up from 66 per cent in last survey result of 2012-13 and 48 per cent in 2004-05.

 

(More later)

Wednesday 16th March 2016 - 1:49 pm
Comments Off on The deadlock:What now?

The deadlock:What now?

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.”

“Impressive,”

“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

Tuesday 9th February 2016 - 5:42 pm
Comments Off on PM talks of faster Medicare refunds

PM talks of faster Medicare refunds

by Alan Thornhill

Malcolm Turnbull told Parliament today that the government wants Australians to be paid their entitlements as fast and efficiently as possible.

The Prime Minister was replying at question time to the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who had asked about a report in today’s West Australian that which said the government is planning to privatise both Medicare and the PBS.

Mr Turnbull said the government is always looking for ways of bringing the delivery of its services into the 21st Century.

Australians now commonly use their smart phones to transact their business.

Yet Medicare procedures are still firmly paper based.

So the government has been looking for ways to bring the large number of Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme transactions conducted each day into the 21st Century.

Mr Turnbull also said the only way young Australians could look forward to secure well paid jobs, in the longer term, was if their employers also kept their operations up to date in this way.

”This is about making it simple for patients to transact business with Medicare,” Mr Turnbull said.

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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