Browsing articles in "Politics"
Thursday 14th July 2016 - 10:00 am
Comments Off on Inaction on coal “still polluting our skies”Climate Council

Inaction on coal “still polluting our skies”Climate Council

by Alan Thornhill

Australia is making too little progress in tackling climate change, according to the Climate Council.

 

The council’s CEO Amanda McKenzie said this is confirmed by new data.

 

She said a new survey, by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows coal’s market share has barely moved over the past three years., slipping only marginally from 65.3 per cent to 64.9 per cent

 

Yet burning coal to generate electricity is one one of the major drivers of climate change.

 

Ms McKenzie noted that renewable power generation has increased from 9.6 per cent to 12 per cent, according to the survey.

 

However,  shr said the true test of a climate change policy is how much emissions are reduced.

 

And  the US is doing much better than Australia in this regard.

 

“In the U.S, emissions from the electricity sector fell 18 per cent in 2014 and coal-fired power generation fell from 39 per cent in 2014 to 33 per cent in 2015,”   Ms McKenzie said.

 

She said  also that the fact that electricity generation from coal has barely moved in Australia, is a sign of two things.

 

One, the renewable energy industry is not growing at anywhere near the rate we need it to in order to tackle climate change.
“That’s because of the chopping and changing of policy.

 

“We’ve got enough renewable energy resources to power the country 500 times over – but we are not capitalising on it.

 

‘And two, it’s a sign that there is our climate policy is not robust enough to reduce emissions at the source.

 

“We must introduce climate policy which reduces our fossil fuel emissions if we are to effectively tackle climate change and protect the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms McKenzie said .

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Tuesday 12th July 2016 - 4:48 pm
Comments Off on Borrowing “not immoral” RBA chief

Borrowing “not immoral” RBA chief

by Alan Thornhill

 

Too little credit can present risk to an economy, a Reserve Bank chief warned today.

 

Luci Ellis,who heads the bank’s financial stability department said this is something policymakers need to keep in mind.

 

Addressing a seminar in Sydney, Ms Ellis said the dangers of too much credit are well known.

 

“Over-exuberant lending and borrowing can mean that some people are getting loans that they have little prospect of being able to repay even in good times,” she said.

 

But she added:  “Less well appreciated are the costs of having too little credit available.

 

“The point here is simply that in recognising that too much credit can be dangerous, we should not instead fall into the trap of thinking of all borrowing as illegitimate or somehow immoral,” Ms Ellis said.

 

“Less credit isn’t always and everywhere better.

 

“ The low levels of credit available in economies in the regulated era of past decades are not the benchmark we should be evaluating ourselves against now when we try to assess the risk in the system.”

 

“ Some activities can and should be financed with at least some debt, even in bad times – even though there are plenty of others that should not.”

 

Ms Ellis then said:  “in their efforts to protect the real economy, policymakers need to ensure that credit is still being supplied to good borrowers even in bad times.

 

A healthy and resilient banking sector can help achieve that;” Ms Ellis said

 

“Indeed, it would be difficult to manage it without one,” she added

 

She said though that Australia is not facing a credit squeeze.

 

“Let me be clear that Australia is not anywhere near having this problem,” Ms Ellis said.

 

“Whatever the concerns about concentration and competition in the Australian financial system, there is plenty of finance readily available to lower-risk customers.

 

“ But some recent examples overseas show the damage that can be done when there isn’t enough credit available

Tuesday 12th July 2016 - 1:42 pm
Comments Off on PM’s “get out of jail” card

PM’s “get out of jail” card

by Alan Thornhill

Analysis

 

What happens now that Malcolm Turnbull has at least the 76 lower house seats that he needs to form majority government?

 

We can expect to see tight government, as the Prime Minister takes up the reins, to start his fresh three year term.

 

Not quite as tight, though, as the independent Bob Katter has suggested.

 

 

Mr Katter warned, not altogether seriously, that a government with a majority of one, might lose a critical vote, if he left Parliament to attend his mother’s funeral, or to respond to a call of nature.

 

That’s not a worry

 

Australian parliaments, thankfully, have civilised arrangements called “pairing” to deal with exigencies like these.

 

The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, though, did raise as serious matter, when he warned of divisions in the Liberal party, particularly those involving the hard right, which supported Tony Abbott against Malcolm Turnbull, last September.

 

They have not forgotten or forgiven.

 

That became clear this week, when one member, Cory Bernardi, sent e-mails to supporters, urging them not to “… allow the political left to keep eroding our values, undermining our culture and diminishing our important institutions.”

 

The ratings agency, Standard and Poors, delivered the biggest challenge Mr Turnbull will face late last week, though, when it put Australia’s triple A credit rating on “negative watch.”

 

It cited both uncertainties which then existed about the July 2 election results and high levels of both domestic and international debt.

 

This means that the agency might well downgrade Australia’s presently excellent credit rating, if we don’t get those issues under control, over the next two years.

 

An astute Prime Minister might see it as more than that, too.

 

A “get out of jail free card” in fact.

 

Even governments which want to keep their pre-election promises often find it very difficult to do so.

 

So what could Mr Turnbull do, if he finds himself in that all-too-likely position?

Mr Shorten warned, during that eight week election campaign, that this is no time to be giving big companies $50 billion worth of tax cuts, over 5 years, even if they are to be phased in slowly.

 

And a report funded by Getup and published just days before the election said big miners and cigarette companies would be among the main winners, from that policy, which Mr Turnbull repeatedly said would create more “jobs and growth.

 

The miners, perhaps.

 

The cigarette companies.

 

Never.

 

So some adjustments can be expected there.

 

Nick Xenophon might also  be in for some disappointment when he comes to Canberra, seeking more money, to protect the jobs of steel workers, in his home State of South Australia.

 

Mr Turnbull might even be able to convince voters that some restraint in these areas is virtuous, as well as necessary, to avoid extra interest rate pain, for home buyers and others.

 

 

If he is astute enough.

 

 

Sunday 10th July 2016 - 7:49 pm
Comments Off on “Celebrate democracy” PM

“Celebrate democracy” PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said today that Australians should “celebrate” their democracy and “not take it for granted.”

 

He was speaking to reporters in Sydney shortly after the Labor Leader, Bill Shorten, had telephoned him to concede defeat in the July 2 elections.

 

“Earlier today Bill Shorten called me and congratulated me on being re-elected.” Mr Turnbull said.

 

He added:  “when Bill called me I had our little granddaughter Isla on my left hip.

 

“So she was a one-year-old witness to history when I was having that discussion with Mr Shorten.”

 

Mr Turnbull recalled that many issues in the election had been “fiercely fought.”

“We have resolved this election,” he said.

 

“ We’ve gone through this election with fiercely fought arguments.

 

“Issues of policy, issues of principle.

 

“And we’ve done so peacefully and constructively.

 

“And it is something we should celebrate but not take for granted.

 

“That here in Australia we settle these big political issues, we settle who sits in our parliaments, we settle who governs our country and we do so peacefully through our democratic processes.

 

“So above all, I want to thank the Australian people,” Mr Turnbull said.

Friday 8th July 2016 - 1:29 pm
Comments Off on ASIC tightens its watch on IOOF

ASIC tightens its watch on IOOF

by Alan Thornhill

The financial services giant IOOF will be required to accept a measure of external surveillance, under arrangements announced today by the industry watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

 

However ASIC stopped short of taking further action against IOOF, which offers superannuation products, financial advice and many other similar products.

 

It noted that, in July last year, it had commenced inquiries into allegations made against I.O.O.F. Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries (IOOF), including issues raised by a former employee of IOOF.

 

It said the allegations have been the subject of several media articles and an inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

 

And it added: “ASIC has now finalised its inquiries.”

 

It had investigated several issues, including allegations of insider trading,raised by a former employee of IOOF.

 

ASIC  said the allegations had also been the subject of several media articles and an inquiry by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.
“ASIC has now finalised its inquiries,” the commission said.
It said the allegations of insider trading concerned an IOOF staff member’s involvement in insider trading before research reports became public.

 

The commission found that although this did occur it failed to move the share price enough to warrant action.

 
ASIC’s inquiries also included a review into allegations relating to corporate governance and licensee breaches by IOOF.

 

It said: “This review identified a number of concerns relating to IOOF’s compliance arrangements, breach reporting, management of conflicts of interest, staff trading policy, disclosure, whistleblower management and protection and cyber security.

 

And added:” We have raised these concerns with IOOF.

 

“We have also advised IOOF that in our view the corporate culture at that time within IOOF contributed to these issues occurring.”
Then the commission said:  “Concurrent with ASIC’s inquiries, IOOF appointed Price Waterhouse Coopers to conduct an independent review of its regulatory breach reporting policy and procedures and the control environment within its research team.

 

And it added:  “IOOF has made significant changes to their policies and procedures as a result.
The commission said:  “While ASIC welcomes such initiatives and steps taken by IOOF to rectify these issues, ASIC has also reached an agreement with IOOF to engage an external compliance consultant to conduct an expanded, broader and more comprehensive review of compliance arrangements within all IOOF business units.”

 
“ASIC will continue to monitor and work cooperatively with IOOF and its board to ensure the necessary changes are properly effected,it added.

Thursday 7th July 2016 - 6:13 pm
Comments Off on Politicians squabble over Triple A warning

Politicians squabble over Triple A warning

by Alan Thornhill

The Federal government and opposition differed sharply today, after a major ratings agency, Standard and Poors, put Australia’s prized triple A status on negative watch.

 

It did so citing both the still unresolved Federal election result and high levels of both household and external debt.

 

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, said the agency’s move, “reaffirmed the government’s fiscal direction and the need to “stick to the plan” the Coalition set out in its last budget.”

 

However the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, said it underlined the government’s “fiscal failure” and cast further doubt on its budget projections.

 

 

The agency’s warning means that  Australia’s AAA credit rating might be slashed in future  if there is no improvement in its budgetary performance.

 

 

This  could  increase  government borrowing costs and weaken international investment.

 

Mr Bowen said S&P statement is “sombre reading.”

 

He said the agency  “…calls out the Government on three years of fiscal failure, based on unrealistic Budget revenue forecasts and savings measures that will never pass the Parliament.

 

“S&P makes it clear that it doesn’t have much faith in the Government’s Budget revenue forecasts – a point Labor has consistently made since the Budget in May,” Mr Bowen added.

 

However Mr Morrison took a different view.

 

 

He said the agency’s warning reinforces the government’s message that Australia must “live within its means”.

 

 

He said S&P were clearly concerned about the outcome of the election and that “the pace of fiscal consolidation may be postponed”.

 

Mr Morrison said it would be irresponsible to increase the deficit over the next few years, because “that increases the debt and you can’t get that money back”.

Thursday 7th July 2016 - 11:39 am
Comments Off on Medibank tax statements delayed

Medibank tax statements delayed

by Alan Thornhill

Many Medibank customers will have to wait longer than usual for their annual tax statements.

 

The health fund’s chief, Craig Drummond, said the delay followed a major technology upgrade.

He said the fund is : “….. experiencing a reporting issue which will likely prevent it from providing  annual tax statements to a majority of customers by July 15.

Mr Drummond also said the situation is:  “is result of customer data migration and acknowledged that it is   unacceptable for customers.
He said:  ““I sincerely apologise to our customers for this disruption.

 

“It is important for customers to know their personal data has not been compromised.

“Our team is working around the clock to resolve this issue, and I want to assure customers that our focus is on minimising the impact this will have on them,” Mr Drummond said.

Customers wishing to find out more information can go to the website www.medibank.com.au he added.

 

 

 

Wednesday 6th July 2016 - 2:30 pm
Comments Off on Visitor numbers up

Visitor numbers up

by Alan Thornhill

Australia has had great success in attracting visitors over the past year, particularly from South Korea and Japan.

 

The Bureau of Statistics reported today that, in trend terms, the number of visitors arriving from South Korea increased by 30.8 per cent, in the 12 months to the end of May, while arrivals from Japan rose by 30.6 per cent.

 

Overall, too, the number of arrivals also rose strongly in this time, chalking  up a 10.9 per cent increase.

 

Visitor numbers from the United States rose by 18.4 per cent.

 

Relatively new markets are also rapidly gaining strength, too, in Australia.

 

On trend figures, for example, 99,400 visitors arrived in this country from China, during May this year.

 

That number was 18.6 per cent higher than that seen 12 months earlier.

 

The Statistician also reported that the number of Australians travelling overseas, as short term visitors rose by 3.4 per cent, over the 12 months to the end of May this year.

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Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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