Browsing articles in "Politics"
Monday 15th August 2016 - 7:46 pm
Comments Off on Whale nursery “at risk” environmentalists warn

Whale nursery “at risk” environmentalists warn

by Alan Thornhill

 

The world’s most important  Southern Right whale nursery will threatened if BP is allowed to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, environmentalists say.

 

The Wilderness Society said the South Australian government had “finally admitted” that this risk is real.

 

The society’s South Australian Director Peter Owen this was confirmed when  the State’s Transport Department had updated its South Australian Marine Spill Contingency Action Plan.

 

This had been done to match an increased risk of spills resulting from from oil exploration in the Bight.

 

 

Mr Owen said the department had finally admitted that:-

 

* oil drilling “will significantly increase the risk to South Australia

 

* The spill could affect all of southern Australia’s coast, from WA across to Victoria and Tasmania and

*BP plans to drill in Commonwealth marine park’s benthic (sea floor) protection zone

 

Mr Owen also said:   “The Bight’s pristine waters are home to 36 species of whales and dolphins, including the world’s most important southern right whale nursery.

 

The Bight is also home to     ”…many humpback, sperm, blue and beak whales,” Mr Owen said.

 

 

“The Bight also supports sea lions, seals, great white sharks, giant cuttlefish, some of Australia’s most important fisheries and migratory seabirds that Australia has international obligations to protect,”  he added.

 

 

“Not only does BP’s oil drilling threaten these amazing creatures.

 

” BP wants to drill in Australia’s most biologically significant sea floor, the Great Australian Bight’s benthic protection zone,” he warned.

 

“The original Commonwealth marine park’s benthic protection zone was designed to protect the huge variety of creatures that live on the Bight’s sea floor, including sea urchins, sea squirts, starfish, shellfish, sponges and lace coral. The Bight has the highest levels of benthic biodiversity and endemism anywhere in Australia, more than in the Great Barrier Reef,” he added.

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Friday 12th August 2016 - 1:19 pm
Comments Off on Commercial lending eases

Commercial lending eases

by Alan Thornhill

Commercial lending fell by 2.2 per cent in June on trend figures the Bureau of  Statistics published today.

 

On seasonally adjusted figures the fall that month  was even bigger at 8.7 per cent.

 

Lease finance fell by 2.8 per cent in June, but rose by 13 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Personal finance rose by 0.3 per cent on trend figures, but fell by 3 per cent on seasonally adjusted figures.

 

Housing finance for owner occupation rose by 0.2 per cent in June on trend estimates, while seasonally adjusted figures showed a 1.8 per cent rise.

Thursday 11th August 2016 - 6:18 pm
Comments Off on Social isolation rates high:research

Social isolation rates high:research

by Alan Thornhill

Social isolation rates are high in Australia, according to new research that the National Australia Bank published today.

 

 

The bank said less than two thirds (58 per cent) of Australians now feel connected to their local communities.

 

 

It said, too, that young women and labourers were among Australia’s most isolated people.

 

 

But older people, including widowed people and over 50s, were among those feeling the most connected.

 

 

These results showed up in a special report on Wellbeing and Importance of Community Connections.

 

 

The bank said  networks play an important role in overall community wellbeing.

 

 

It also said that while there is little difference between the sense of community connection between men and women overall, there are “notable differences by age, education, work, and relationship status.”

 

“Just as our personal wellbeing appears to increase with age so too does our feeling of community connection,” the bank said.

 

“Widows, closely followed by  over 50s (particularly women), married couples, Australians with a higher education and professional workers, not only report the highest level of personal wellbeing but they are also the most connected,” it added

 

“Similarly, there appears to be a relationship between low levels of personal wellbeing and weak community connections, with young women (18 to 29) and labourers the least connected groups.” ??The NAB Group’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, said .

 

 

“The message is clear.

 

 

Those who feel more connected within their local communities typically have higher levels of personal wellbeing,” ??Mr Oster said.

 

 

He conceded that some of the isolation felt by younger people and labourers might due to age.

 

 

“But some may also be a by-product of modern living with a lesser degree of community connection  due to frequency of job changes, increased globalisation and the associated rise in relocations and the rise of online rather than physical communities and networks” Mr Oster added.

 

 

He said too that both men and women believe that addressing safety and law and order issues would have the greatest impact on improving wellbeing, followed by housing affordability, local jobs and health services.

 

 

“While there is much that individuals can do themselves such as volunteering and getting to know their neighbours, there is also a clear role for government, community groups and business, particularly regarding issues such as safety, housing employment and health in order to improve the wellbeing of Australians,” he added.

Thursday 11th August 2016 - 1:43 pm
Comments Off on Commercial property:worth a look

Commercial property:worth a look

by Alan Thornhill

 

Commercial property?

 

With returns on interest investments at historic lows – and fresh doubts appearing about the future of residential investment, this might be worth some thought.

Especially in view of the results of the National Australia Bank’s latest Commercial Property Survey,which is for Q2 2016

 

It shows that: “sentiment in the retail commercial property market has risen to its highest level in over six years.”

 

However, the bank adds: “strong retail market confidence was not enough to offset the lower sentiment recorded across the office, industrial and CBD hotels sectors.

 

“ Overall, the NAB Commercial Property Index fell 7 points to +5 in the second quarter of this year,” it said.

 

“This was a strong quarter for capital growth in the retail property sector, with respondents expecting retail to grow 1.5 per cent in the next year.

 

“As a result, sentiment in the retail commercial property sector rose to its highest level since early 2010,” NAB Group Chief Economist Alan Oster said.

 

“However, sentiment from respondents was lower across all other sectors, particularly in CBD hotels which was the weakest sector overall .”

 

“Looking towards the future, confidence levels remain broadly unchanged over the next one to two years across all markets.”

 

Market sentiment remained strongest in NSW (+37) and Victoria (+28), likely driven by the continued non-mining recovery whilst sentiment fell heavily in SA/NT (-27

to -51) and, although still subdued, improved slightly in WA (up +4 to -48).

 

The Q2 Survey showed that one in two developers plan to start new works within the next six months.

 

“But developers have also reported further deterioration in their debt and equity funding situations.”

 

That is expected to continue over the next six months.

 

“This is coupled with respondents reporting the average pre-commitment percentage required for developments increased for the fifth straight quarter,” Mr Oster said.

 

The Bank said About 230 property professionals had participated in the Q2 Survey.

Wednesday 10th August 2016 - 1:04 pm
Comments Off on Lending for investment housing rises

Lending for investment housing rises

by Alan Thornhill

Lending for investment housing rose by 3.2 per cent last month, on seasonally adjusted figures published by the Bureau of Statistics today.

 

The Bureau’s figures show that almost $11.8 billion was made available, through fixed loans, for this purpose last month.

 

The Bureau also reported that there had been a 1.2 per cent rise, in commitments for owner occupied housing last month.

 

Loans for the construction of dwellings rose by 2.1 per cent in June, while lending for the purchase of established dwellings rose by 1 per cent.

 

Lending for the purchase of new dwellings rose by 2.7 per cent in June.

Tuesday 9th August 2016 - 2:48 pm
Comments Off on New risks loom

New risks loom

by Alan Thornhill

A new business survey shows that while the Australian economy is still strong, medium to longer term risks are becoming more apparent.

 

These are the conclusions the National Australia Bank’s Chief Economist, Alan Oster, reaches from the results of the bank’s  latest monthly business survey.

 

The bank sid: “for a while now, the NAB Business Survey has provided a relatively consistent message on the health of the Australian economy.”

 

And it added: “It continues to show a steady recovery in non-mining activity, with the services sectors clearly leading the way.”

 

However Mr Oster added a warning.

 

He said:  “there were some notable differences in business conditions across industries this month. “

 

“The largest deterioration was in mining, followed by big falls in transport and wholesale.”

 

“Retail saw the largest improvement, following a weak result last month.”

 

But  Mr Oster said:  “…the contribution from major industries suggests a relatively mixed bag.”

 

He said the service sectors continue to be the best performers.

 

“ Signs of a broadening recovery in recent months have again become more obscure following sharp deteriorations in transport and wholesale – although the recovery in retail conditions was encouraging.”

 

The bank said the economy could run into headwinds from 2017.

 

And it added: “these headwinds may require additional policy action to support growth, especially if the RBA hopes to see inflation return to within its target band.

 

“ Both global and domestic disinflationary pressures are expected to keep CPI inflation below the target band for an extended period.

 

And structural shifts in the economy and modest economic growth would leave the unemployment rate under pressure.

 

“To stabilise the unemployment rate (at around 5.5 per cent) we expect the RBA will feel the need to provide further medium term support through two more 25bp cuts in May and August 2017 (to a new low of 1 per cent).

“And thereafter raises the prospect of the RBA thinking about the use of non-conventional monetary policy measures,” it added.

Monday 8th August 2016 - 7:27 pm
Comments Off on Job ads “ease”

Job ads “ease”

by Alan Thornhill

Job advertising fell last month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

The bank said job ads fell by 0.8 per cent in July.

 

It said this was the first decline since April and may reflect heightened uncertainty temporarily delaying the hiring plans of some employers.

 

It added that the annual growth in job ads has slowed to 6.9 per cent from 8.0 per cent  the previous month.

 

 

The bank said too, that the fall in July was driven by both internet and newspaper job ads.

 

Internet job advertisements, which are the main driver of total job ads, declined by 0.7 per cent in July, the bank noted.

 

It said that annual growth in internet jobs ads had slowed from 8.8 per cent  in June to 7.9 per cent in July.

 

The more volatile newspaper ads remain on a structural downward trend and fell further in July, down 12.6 per cent  in the month to be 41.7 per cent  lower than a year ago.

 

The bank’s head of Australian Economics, Felicity Emmett, said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

She said there had been :  “slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent.

 

The labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016, with slower average growth in both employment and job ads seeing the unemployment rate stabilise around 5.75 per cent, in the second half of last year from a peak of 6.3 per cent.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “more recently, job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,

 

Job advertising fell las month, according to research the ANZ bank published today.

 

Ms Emmett also said:  “the labour market has lost some momentum so far in 2016.”

 

Ms Emmett said, too, that: “… job ads rebounded strongly in May, followed by a modest rise in June.”

 

But she also noted that:  “…these increases have been partly unwound by the decline in July.

 

“Given that ads fell sharply in early July, we think this decline may partly reflect the impact of increased uncertainty following the close federal election on 2 July and the shock decision by the UK to leave the European Union on 24 June,” she said.

 

This impact appears to have been short-lived,” Ms Emmett added.

 

 

With surveyed business conditions remaining upbeat and the RBA cutting rates in August, we look for a gradual improvement in hiring intentions over the remainder of the year,” Ms Emmett said.

 

 

Monday 8th August 2016 - 11:47 am
Comments Off on Kim Beazley:the unwritten story

Kim Beazley:the unwritten story

by Alan Thornhill

Many readers will think of Kim Beazley as the former Labor leader, who lost Federal elections in 1998 and 2001.  But this story is not about him.  It is about his father, also Kim Beazley.  It has never been written before.

 

Kim Senior, as we will call him, was also a Federal politician.  Education minister in the Whitlam government, in fact.

 

He was on the Right, in the Whitlam cabinet.

 

 

This was at the height of the Moratorium movement, as the protests against Australian involvement in the Vietnam war were known, back then.

 

And in those turgid times, Kim Senior was invited to “explain his views,” before a Trades and Labor council meeting in Perth. We all knew what that meant.  Big Kim’s job was on the line.  Left wing unions had the numbers 80-20 on the council back then.

 

 

So Kim Senior was fighting for his political life.  Whatever happened, this would be a national story.   Not just one for The West Australian, where I worked, as industrial reporter at the time.   We knew, also, the result would come, either right on The West’s deadline, that night, or just after it.  But the result, itself, was the thing.

 

Kim Senior looked remarkably relaxed, as he rose to speak at that meeting.

 

And his speech ran to just one, or two sentences.

 

“I do not support the Vietnam war,” he said.

 

“Because getting involved in a land war in Asia is the second worst military decision  it is possible to make.”

 

He then sat down, leaving the assembled union officials turning to each other, to ask: “What’s the worst?”

 

After an interval of at least two minutes, Big Kim rose again, and said: “Oh.  And by the way.  The worst is to invade Russia in winter.”

 

In a long career as a reporter, I never heard a better speech.

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