by Alan Thornhill
The value of new home loans let in April fell by 1.8 per cent, on seasonally adjusted figures that the Bureau of Statistics published today.
On trend figures, though, the fall was much smaller at 0.3 per cent.
The biggest fall, though, was in fixed loans taken out for investment housing.
These fell by 5 per cent in April.
Differences in the housing tax policies that the major parties are taking to the July 2
elections are the probable cause of this fall.
by Alan Thornhill
Home building approvals continued to rise in April, with medium and high density projects still dominating the scene.
The Bureau of Statistics reported today that in trend terms the total number of home building approvals rose by 1.2 per cent during the month.
This was the fifth straight monthly rise on this indicator.
However, on trend figures, approvals to build private sector houses rose by just 0.2 per cent during the month.
On seasonally adjusted comparisons, the rise in total approvals was even bigger, at 3 per cent.
And approvals for medium and high density projects rose by 8.7 per cent.
The Bureau also reported that home building approvals in the ACT rose by 6.7 per cent in April.
Approvals also rose by 2.9 per cent in Queensland, 2.2 per cent in South Australia, 1.9 per cent in Tasmania and 1.4 per cent in NSW.
But there were falls in the Northern Territory and WA on trend comparisons.
by Alan Thornhill
More than one million Australian families will benefit from child support changes Labor is proposing, the party claimed today.
The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and the Shadow Minister for Early Education, Kate Ellis, made the claim in a joint statement.
The plan is based largely on in increases to the annual cap on the present Child Care Benefit.
Mr Shorten and Ms Ellis declared: “the annual cap on the Child Care Rebate will be increased from $7,500 to $10,000 per child, leaving families up to $2,500 per child per year better off.”
And they added: “Low and middle income families will benefit from an increase to the Child Care Benefit of 15 per cent.
“Every one of the 813,000 families that rely on the Child Care Benefit will be better off – an increase up to $31 per child per week, or up to $1,627 per year, will provide much needed relief for the family budget.
“Right now, too many Australian women have their pay packet eaten up by the costs of child care,” they added.
“Labor’s plan will take pressure off the family budget and help grow the economy by keeping more parents in work.
“Better child care is essential to a growing economy,” they said.
“It’s central to Labor’s plan for fairer growth, real jobs and greater opportunities.”
“Families who rely on child care need a better deal now – and that’s what Labor will deliver,” they said.
“By boosting the current system Labor will ensure that all children continue to have access to two days of vital early education,” they said.
Labor’s plan will also include:-
– Cracking down on unjustified price increases
– New transparency and accountability standards
– Extra powers to investigate unjustified price increases and stop price gouging.
– Supporting flexible Family Day Care – Investing an additional $50 million to support improvements to the Family Day Care system, including flexible options for families and enhancing the education, investigation and compliance programs.
– Better services for Indigenous children and children in remote areas –
– Increasing support for children in Budget Base Funded Services by 15 per cent, in line with the increase to the Child Care Benefit.
– Valuing our early education workforce – $150 million investment towards developing the early education workforce – developing a new Early Years’ Workforce Strategy
-And establishing a national Educator Professional Development Program,”
” Labor will also make submissions to the Fair Work Commission proceedings in support of professional wages for early childhood educators,” they said.
They also claimed that Labor’s plan compares more than favorably with the Liberal alternative.
“And it is affordable,” they added.
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?
The authorities simply brought out our governments’ credit cards and borrowed another $7.6 billion.
by Alan Thornhill
Home building approvals rose 1.2 per cent in April, on trend figures the Bureau of Statistics published today.
These figures – which are among the bright spots in the Australian economy – followed four previous months of rises.
The Bureau said that dwellings approvals had increased by 6.7 per cent in the Australian Capital Territory in April.
There had also been a 2.9 per cent rise in Queensland, a 2.2 per cent rise in South Australia, a 1.9 per cent rise in Tasmania and a 1.4 per cent rise in NSW.
But there were also falls of 15.2 per cent in the Northern Territory and 0.1 per cent in WA.
Approvals in Victoria were flat during the month.
The Bureau also said that in seasonally adjusted terms, dwelling approvals increased 3.0 per cent, in April, driven by private sector dwellings excluding houses which rose 8.7 per cent.
Private sector house approvals fell 2.3 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.
The value of total building approved rose 1.1 per cent in April, in trend terms, and has risen for three months. The value of residential building rose 1.6 per cent while non-residential building was flat, the Bureau said.
by Alan Thornhill
Tax breaks which favour investors have pushed Australian home prices to record – and unaffordable – levels, according to bodies representing families on low to moderate incomes.
These include the Australian Council of Social Security.
Its chief executive officer, Dr Cassandra Goldie, says its time to “get serious” about reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks, which unfairly favour the rich.
Speaking on behalf of A national alliance of community housing and welfare groups, which is urging swift and deep reforms, Dr Goldie said: “Australia is in the midst of a housing crisis…”
She said:“Tax settings that encourage speculative investment and inflate house prices – like negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount – must be addressed in a new national strategy to address housing affordability.”
“These unfair tax concessions cost the federal budget more than $7 billion every year,” Dr Goldie said.
Over half of these tax breaks go to investors in the top 10 per cent of income earners, she added.
The alliance is made up of Homelessness Australia , National Shelter, the Community Housing Industry Association and the Australian Council of Social Service .
It is asking all Australians to sign a petition calling for tax reforms that put ordinary people ahead of the interests of investors.
Dr Goldie said: “People who negatively gear claim an average loss of $8,722 per year.
“This means funding for essential services such as education, health and dedicated housing for low income families are reduced.
“Spending savings should be redirected to improve affordability, including a tax rebate for new affordable housing, and significantly increased investment in public and community housing,” she added.
She said governments must do all that they can to ensure everyone pays their fair share of tax to enable us to fund our services properly into the future and to help end the housing crisis that is pushing people into financial hardship.
“By signing the Vote Home petition, Australians can call on party leaders to change unfair tax concessions and unlock affordable housing for all ,” Dr Goldie added.
However her campaign has little immediate chance of success.
The government argues that negative gearing is necessary to produce the supply of homes that Australia needs and the opposition is prepared to accept only limited changes to it.
by Alan Thornhill
The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, told voters tonight that growth is necessary for Australia.
He said that is fundamental.
And – taking care to appear Prime Ministerial – Mr Turnbull said his government had a plan to achieve growth that would produce new jobs and prosperity.
The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, responded by saying that fairness is needed for growth.
And he said the government’s plan to give big foreign companies $50 billion worth of tax cuts over the next 10 years is not fair.
He said a well educated population, with access to good health care, is essential.
The two leaders were speaking in the second of their debates in the current election campaign, leading to national elections on July 2.
Tonight’s debate was the first to be televised publicly.
The first was carried only on pay television.
Although both leaders were criticised tonight for not giving enough detail about their policies, both would probably be reasonably happy with their performances.
Both managed to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
And both stuck to carefully considered strategies.
Mr Turnbull sought to re-assure those who share his philosophies and to convince doubters that voting for a reckless spending Labor government on July 2 would be just too risky.
And Mr Shorten, who realises that he is less well known than his rival, took care to present himself as a moderate responsible leader, who will advance thoroughly thought out policies, in this campaign which still has five weeks to run.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash says new figures, produced by the Statistician today, show that Australia’s job market is stable.
She also said: “… today’s data reflects a resilient Australian labour market and highlights the need to continue with the Coalition’s plan to strengthen the economy and stimulate further jobs growth.”
However Labor’s employment spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, said the bureau’s figures showed that 50,000 full time jobs had been lost, under the Turnbull government, this year.
And the bureau of statistics, itself, still has some doubts.
It said its April Labour force figures show that trend employment growth in Australia is still easing.
They had shown that trend employment had risen by just 4,100 – or 0.03 per cent – during the month.
“This monthly growth rate was below the monthly average over the past 20 years – 0.15 per cent – and down further from the recent peak of 0.26 per cent in October 2015,” the bureau said.
That left Australia with a trend unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent for the month.
Australia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April was also 5.7 per cent.
However part time employment is still surging, with 10,500 new part time jobs appearing in the month.
General Manager of ABS’ Macroeconomic Statistics Division, Bruce Hockman said this was: “.. “the eleventh consecutive monthly increase of more than 10,000 persons in part time work.
“In contrast, trend full-time employment decreased by 6,400 persons, its third consecutive monthly decrease,” he added.
Mr Hockman said this change is also reflected in the trend monthly hours worked in all jobs series.
This fell by 5.6 million hours (0.3 per cent) to 1,628.9 million hours, he said.
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.
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