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Wednesday 25th February 2015 - 6:53 am
Comments Off on Coalition picks up – some – support

Coalition picks up – some – support

by Alan Thornhill

The Coalition has – indeed – picked up a little support – but a new poll confirms that if a Federal election were held now, Labor would win.

The Morgan poll shows Labor with 56 per cent support, down 1.5 per cent on a two party preferred basis.

That left the Abbott goverment with 44 per cent support, on the same basis, a rise of 1.5 per cent.

These trends were similar to those seen in a Newspoll earlier this week.

Garry Morgan said: “The ALP as maintained a strong lead over the L-NP on a two-party preferred (basis) as damaging leaks continue to emerge concerning Prime Minister Tony Abbott and also his chief of staff Peta Credlin.

“Abbott’s judgment has been brought into question by suggestions in The Australian that last November he advocated unilaterally sending up to 3,500 Australian military personnel into Iraq to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).

“Abbott has dismissed the allegation as ‘fanciful’ and ‘false’.

“In addition, the position of Abbott’ chief of staff Peta Credlin has been called into question today after the leaking of an internal email by the Liberal Party’s honorary federal treasurer Philip Higginson.

“Higginson suggested there was a definite ‘conflict of interest’ for the Liberal Party to have a married couple,” Mr Morgan said.

Ms. Credlin’s husband Brian Loughnane, is the Liberal Party Federal Director.

Mr Morgan also said: “The next test for Prime Minister Abbott is the NSW State Election – due in just over a month.

He said NSW Liberal Premier Mike Baird currently enjoys widespread support in NSW.

He claimed, too, that a Morgan poll, predicting that the recent State election in Queensland would be too close to call, was the only one to get the result right.

Mr Morgan said other major polls had predicted a LNP win.

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Monday 23rd February 2015 - 11:49 am
Comments Off on PM promises action against “hate preachers”

PM promises action against “hate preachers”

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, declared today that his government would take action against what he called “hate preachers.”

He said he could not guarantee that there would never be another terrorist attack on Australian soil.

But he declared:”My government will never underestimate the terrorist threat.”

And he said Australians could look forward to the stronger Australia, that they had a right to expect.

Mr Abbott was delivering a statement on terrorism to the Australian people.

He was expected to do that in Federal parliament.

However, he chose to do so in the Australian Federal Police conference room in Canberra instead.

His speech was centred on the Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney, in which two hostages – and an Islamic terrorist – died.

That was in mid-December.

Mr Abbott appealed to relatives and friends of those attracted by Islamic terrorist propaganda to contact the police and other agencies.

He said the authorities could not do their job, without that help.

Thursday 19th February 2015 - 7:29 am
Comments Off on Playing “gotcha”

Playing “gotcha”

by Alan Thornhill


There are two kinds of knowledge, we are told.

The kind we all carry in our heads.

Like what day it is.

And the kind we know where to get.

And that’s never been easier than it is today, in the Age of the Internet.

There are also two kinds of media interview.

The better is that which seeks relevant knowledge for its public.

Sarah Ferguson’s budget interview with the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, is an excellent example, even if an internal ABC investigation concluded later that the commission’s guidelines “might have been breached.”

The other seeks entrapment of the person being interviewed.

Alan Jones, who succeeded in embarrassing the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, in a Sky News interview, by asking him what the tax free threshold is, under Australia’s progressive tax system, is a fine example.

It might be called playing “gotcha.”

Mr Bowen was duly embarrassed.

But that threshold – now $18,200 – is definitely type two knowledge.

Mr Jones is a past master of this kind of journalism.

But what point is there to it?

Yes. It’s always fun to see a politician squirm.

Especially one we don’t like.

But that’s about it.

Viewers might not have emerged with much more knowledge, from watching Sarah Ferguson’s interview with Joe Hockey, either.

But that wasn’t Sarah’s fault.

She is a fine reporter.

Tuesday 17th February 2015 - 7:50 pm
Comments Off on Hackers attack Australian banks

Hackers attack Australian banks

by Alan Thornhill

Australian banks have been hit in an international hacking scandal, according to an ABC report.

The report quotes the international cyber-security company Security company Kaspersky Lab which says the hackers have stolen more than $1.2 billion from about 100 banks and other financial institutions in 30 countries – including Australia – over the past two years.

The ANZ bank said it had not been affected.

The other three big banks refused to comment.

The hackers, based in Russia, China, Ukraine and parts of Europe are using a type of virus known as Carbanak malware to access bank employee computers and ultimately to get inside bank networks.

They then transfer money from a bank into off-shore accounts, or order the bank’s ATMs to dispense cash to a waiting criminal.

The thefts have mostly targeted central accounts rather than customer accounts, the report said.

The hackers usually took up to $10 million in each raid, the ABC added.

Banks and other financial institutions in the USA, Russia, Germany and China were among the others said to be affected.

But the Australian Federal Police say they have not received a referral on this matter from the banking sector.

Thursday 12th February 2015 - 8:29 pm
Comments Off on The gaffes keep rolling on

The gaffes keep rolling on

by Alan Thornhill

Despite Mr Abbott’s promise to do better, the gaffes keep rolling on.

There were three today.

And the world is watching

The Prime Minister’s description of the Human Rights Commission report on children in detention as “blatantly political” was excessive.

After all, the number in detention has fallen, as Mr Abbott says.

Why not just say that?

Even if this was achieved through the questionable methods used to stop the boats.

Mr Abbott also upset – and had to apologise to – the Australia’s Jewish community – for saying there had been “a holocaust” of job losses in the defence sector, under Labor.

Holocaust is a very special word in the Jewish lexicon.

Mr Abbott also allowed a government backbencher to ask a pre-arranged question in Parliament, to establish that two Sydney terrorism suspects were allowed to enter Australia, while Labor was in power.

What of the presumption of innocence?

Accused people must be regarded as innocent, until proven guilty.

That has not happened yet.

Using parliamentary privilege – in pursuit of political advantage -like this – to undermine that principle – is nasty.

Them today.

Us tomorrow.

And now a leading US think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, is now asking, in a headline, whether Tony Abbott is the most incompetent leader of any industrialised democracy?

It says “….Abbott’s policies have been all over the map…”

It’s not hard to see why.

Friday 12th December 2014 - 10:20 am
Comments Off on PM says Peta Credlin’s critics are misogynist

PM says Peta Credlin’s critics are misogynist

by Alan Thornhill

Tony Abbott has strongly backed his chief of staff, Peta Credlin, accusing her critics of sexism.

In a television interview today, the Prime Minister said Liberal MPs, who have been criticising Ms Credlin, need to “take a long hard look at themselves.”

Ministers and backbenchers have accused Ms Credlin of ruling the government with an iron fist and questioned key strategic decisions.

And those tensions mounted after it was reported that Mr Abbott’s office this week had blocked Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s plan to attend climate talks in Lima.

Ms Bishop had to take her plans to Cabinet to get the trip approved.

In an interview with ABC News Breakfast on Friday, Mr Abbott said Ms Credlin’s critics would not have been so vocal if she was a man.

“Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was Peter as opposed to Peta?” Mr Abbott asked the ABC’s Lyndal Curtis.

“I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.

“If people have a problem with my office obviously they can tell me because what my office does is what I ask my office to do,” Mr Abbott said.

Friday 7th November 2014 - 1:17 pm
Comments Off on Rates likely to stay low:RBA

Rates likely to stay low:RBA

by Alan Thornhill

The Reserve Bank signalled today that Australia’s interest rate will stay low for some time yet.

But it also warned that the nation’s growth would remain “below trend” until at least the middle of next year.

The bank isn’t expecting much relief from unemployment in the short term either.

The tone of its Quarterly Statement on Monetary Policy, which was published today, was subdued.

There was good news, though, for both actual and prospective home buyers.

The present regime of low interest rates is likely to continue.

Or, as the bank said:”on present indications, the most prudent course is likely to be a period of stability in interest rates.”

“Meanwhile, inflation is expected to be consistent with the 2–3 per cent target over the next two years,” it added.

The bank also noted that Australia’s economic growth had been below trend, over the past year or so.

“In 2013-14, Australian GDP growth was a bit below trend in year-average terms,” it said.

“Growth of mining activity remained strong, with a rise in resource exports more than offsetting large falls in mining investment,” it added.

But there had also been significant falls in commodity prices.

The bank also said:” conditions in the labour market remain subdued.

“On revised estimates, the unemployment rate has risen a little over the past six months.”

And it added: “employment has grown by about 1 per cent over the year to date, which is somewhat slower than population growth.

“Forward-looking indicators have increased to levels consistent with moderate employment growth in coming months.

“Meanwhile, wage growth remains low, which is in line with a degree of spare capacity in the labour market,” the bank said.

Wednesday 8th October 2014 - 12:15 pm
Comments Off on Don’t panic on house prices:HIA

Don’t panic on house prices:HIA

by Alan Thornhill

Australia’s housing industry is warning against new curbs on home lending.

And – in a study released today – the Housing Industry Association argues that debate over home prices must be kept in perspective.

The Reserve Bank is worried about sharp rises in Sydney and Melbourne home prices over the past year.

And the bank’s Governor, Glenn Stevens, has said that lending to investors, in particular, has been “unbalanced” and may need to be curbed.

In its paper today, the HIA noted that “recent pronouncements” from the Reserve Bank and – some media commentators – have suggested that further rises in home prices might well raise the risk of “a significant housing price correction.”

But it said price rises – outside Sydney and Melbourne – had been quite modest – at 2.2 per cent overall – in the 12 months to the end of June.

Home prices in Sydney rose by 13.1 per cent in that time, while Melbourne prices rose by 6.9 per cent, the HIA said.

It said, too, that these rises follow a decade in which “home prices were flat relative to inflation.”

The association pointed out, as well, that 60 per cent of Australia’s population lives outside Sydney and Melbourne.

It noted, also, that investors are helping to provide much needed rental accommodation, particularly in Sydney.


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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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