Browsing articles in "rural"
Friday 24th June 2016 - 1:11 pm
Comments Off on High Brexit vote hits markets

High Brexit vote hits markets

by Alan Thornhill

The $A tumbled today, as the vote to leave the EU came in higher than expected.


However, a short time ago, the BBC still had the vote to stay higher than the vote to leave.


At that point, 2,933,388 Britons had voted to stay in the EU.


But 2,841,709 had voted to leave.


The $A fell by 1.35 per cent, to 75.35 US cents in the confusion that followed the unexpectedly high vote to leave.


That vote is seen, in large part, as a product of British impatience with calls for austerity.


But British Conservatives are being urged today to maintain their faith in the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who campaigned hard for the no vote, that would keep Britain in the EU.

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Friday 24th June 2016 - 9:49 am
Comments Off on Labor to announce its temporary worker policy

Labor to announce its temporary worker policy

by Alan Thornhill

Labor says it is planning to ensure that temporary workers are not exploited and that local workers get priority.
In a statement early today, the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said: “Australians have rightly been appalled by the systematic exploitation of workers on temporary work visas.”


He said thousands of employees at 7-Eleven stores had been exploited through the underpayment of more than $100 million in wages.”


The issue of temporary work visas has already become controversial in the current election campaign, with the National Party urging the government to clarify issues with 457 visas.


These allow farmers to employ visiting students, on pay rates they consider affordable.
Mr Shorten said: “Labor believes the temporary work visa system must have robust safeguards in place to protect all workers.”


It must not be used as a back door avenue to source cheap labour.

“This means that we need policies and systems in place that support a growing economy, prioritise Australian workers, allow industry to access the skills they need, and importantly, ensure and importantly, ensure workers are not disadvantaged or exploited,” Mr Shorten said.


He said Labor’s policies would meet these tests.

Friday 10th June 2016 - 12:08 pm
Comments Off on Why we risked all:PM

Why we risked all:PM

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is trying to steer the election campaign back to where it started.

That is with his attempt to restore peace in the building and construction industry.

And in a speech to the American Australian Association & US Studies Centre last night, Mr Turnbull also argued that Australia’s increasing involvement with Asia is making this country’s reliance on America more important than ever.

He said the government had launched an unusually long –eight week – campaign for re-election  “in order to break the deadlock between the House of

Representatives and the Senate over two critical pieces of legislation relating to industrial relations.

“and one of those is the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission,”  Mr Turnbull said.

That aim had – previously – been hardly mentioned during the campaign, which has now passed its half-way mark.

But, last night,  Mr Turnbull declared that the course he had chosen is: “the only way we can get the rule of law restored to the construction sector.”

He said the sector  employs one million people.

“ and the restoration of law to that sector is a vital economic reform, and part of our economic plan to secure our prosperity.”

“the only way we can get that passed is through this double dissolution and getting the numbers collectively in the House and the Senate to pass that law and restore rule of law through a joint sitting of the parliament,” Mr Turnbull said.

“ That’s our commitment,” he added.

Mr Tunbull also paid tribute to a previous Liberal Prime Minister, John Howard, who attended last night’s function.

He said: “John understood that the United States is the irreplaceable anchor to the global rules-based order – an order built upon shared political values and common economic and security interests.

“The truth of his insight has been affirmed by every subsequent Prime Minister of Australia.

“Earlier this year I visited and thanked our men and women serving alongside US forces in Afghanistan, in what is now the longest commitment in our military history.

“And also our forces in Iraq, where we are together with the United States and other allies jointly pushing back, rolling back the brutality and barbarity of Daesh or ISIL.

“And not a day, truthfully not a minute, goes by without our intelligence agencies working together – saving lives – in the fight against terrorism.

“Our ANZUS alliance and broader relationship is anchored in a history that is even deeper and richer than many of us realise,” Mr Turnbull concluded.

Sunday 14th February 2016 - 6:39 pm
Comments Off on Decentralisation:who really benefits?

Decentralisation:who really benefits?

by Alan Thornhill


Barnaby Joyce’s imminent rise, to the post of Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, is producing some apprehension in the nation’s capital, Canberra.

Not least on the issue of decentralisation.

Mr Joyce’s promotion became inevitable last week, when his National Party colleagues chose him to succeed the party’s previous leader, Warren Truss, who is retiring.

The National Party, now the junior partner in Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government, was once called the Country Party.

And Mr Joyce retains its strong rural and regional focus.

That is reflected in his attitudes to decentralisation.

So no-one in Canberra was particularly surprised when plans to decentralise government scientific and other work to the Great Southern region, near Albany in Western Australia’s Great Southern region, Northam in that State’s Wheatbelt, or even to Tasmania, seemed to take on new life, with the announcement  of Mr Joyce’s new job.

He doesn’t actually become Deputy Prime Minister, of course, until he takes the oath of office.

That is scheduled for Thursday this week,at Government House in Canberra.

Those looking for differences between Mr Joyce and Mr Turnbull, won’t have too much trouble finding them.

Mr Turnbull is, after all, a free-trader, right to the soles of his highly polished shoes.

There is something of a protectionist about Mr Joyce.

He would not shrink from a direct intervention in a market, if he believed that to be valuable.

All this is illustrated, clearly enough, in his attitude towards decentralization.

But he is clever about it.

Earlier this month, while announcing the relocation of three research organisations from Canberra to regional Australia, he said:”I have accepted proposals from three Canberra-based research and development corporations to increase their regional presence, which will boost jobs and growth in Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Toowoomba and other areas.

“As well as being home to vibrant farming communities, these regions also have some of the best agricultural universities and research facilities in the country.

“It is logical that strong links should exist between the RDCs, universities and farmers on the ground in each industry.

“Being geographically closer to the industries they serve will strengthen their relationships and help the RDCs better understand their individual industry’s needs.”

There are limits to this kind of thing, of course.

Valuable knowledge, built up over years, in a sophisticated city like Canberra, which offers a wide range of educational and medical services, can be lost if a key scientist, chooses to leave a particular project, rather than accept a particular transfer.

And that whole process can become economically expensive, if adopted for political, rather than industrial reasons.

There are some fine questions of balance, here.

Monday 30th November 2015 - 5:38 pm
Comments Off on Pollster says support for Turnbull government still strong

Pollster says support for Turnbull government still strong

by Alan Thornhill

The Turnbull government has maintained its lead over Labor in the latest Morgan poll.


It would easily win an election held today.


The poll results, published today , give the government 56 per cent support, on a two party preferred basis, to Labor’s 44 per cent.


They also show confidence in the government up 2.5 points to 122, its highest level since March 2011.


Pollster Gary Morgan said the study showed the Turnbull Government’s honeymoon continuing  as Australia heads towards Christmas.


This week Prime Minister Turnbull has travelled to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta – his first meeting with the Queen since becoming Prime Minister – and on to the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.


“However, despite the issues of Global Warming and terrorism dominating the news headlines lately, Turnbull’s most important task as Prime Minister is to ensure a growing Australian economy which provides gainful employment to as many Australians as possible.”


“Ultimately it is job creation and sustainable economic growth in Australia which will decide the success or otherwise of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership,” Mr Morgan said.
“To be a successful Prime Minister Turnbull needs to take advantage of the boost to confidence his ascension to the top job has created …. and not allow Labor and the Greens to obstruct the implementation of overdue reforms to the Australian economy.


“If they continue to hold-up needed reforms, Turnbull must bypass this ‘blackmail’ and let Australian electors decide by calling an election early in 2016.” Mr Morgan added.

Wednesday 9th September 2015 - 6:09 pm
Comments Off on It’s “manageable” Hockey says

It’s “manageable” Hockey says

by Alan Thornhill

The Treasurer, Joe Hockey, says the challenges now facing major global economies are “manageable.”

In a statement to parliament today, Mr Hockey said : “whilst the global economy faces some headwinds, there is a deep resolve amongst policy makers to implement domestic and international initiatives that help to deliver structural improvements in growth.”

But he added:” The recent volatility in global financial markets reminds us that this is not a time to be complacent.”

“We have all been affected by the deterioration in business and consumer confidence as a result of significant volatility in currency markets, equity markets and commodity prices.

“As a result of this, all countries must do more to implement enduring structural reforms that boost growth and create new jobs.”

Mr Hockey, who has just returned from a G20 meeting in Turkey, said: ” The frank and honest exchange about the real challenges we all face provided me with a sense of cautious optimism.”

He said US representatives at that meeting had flagged their intention to start raising interest rates soon.

“This is a positive signal that illustrates a sustainable improvement in the US economy.”

But Mr Hockey cautioned.

“Yes, there may be some volatility in markets as a result of the decision.”

“… but like the previous so called “taper tantrum” associated with the ending of quantitative easing, the transition is definitely manageable.”

Mr Hockey said China needs to undertake some “difficult structural reforms.”

However he sees bright prospects there, too, although he admits this process will take some time.

This is a process that will take a number of years as China moves from an investment economy to a consumption economy, Mr Hockey said.

But he added.

“This will be of great benefit to the Australian economy where non-mining exports represent the greatest opportunity for medium-term job growth.”

Mr Hockey said, too, that:” Our involvement with other economies such as Europe has not waned.”

“The recovery in the euro area will continue, supported by accommodative monetary policy and low oil prices, but at a slower pace.”

Tuesday 4th August 2015 - 4:47 pm
Comments Off on Rates:where we are now

Rates:where we are now

by Alan Thornhill

With inflation cotained – and growth low – the Reserve Bank has again decided to keep its marker interest rate on hold at 2 per cent.

In a statement today, after a bank board meeting, its Governor, Glenn Stevens, said:” While the rate of growth has been somewhat below longer-term averages, it has been associated with somewhat stronger growth of employment and a steady rate of unemployment over the past year.”

Mr Stevens also said:” Recent information confirms that domestic inflationary pressures have been contained.

“That should remain the case for some time, given the very slow growth in labour costs.

“Inflation is thus forecast to remain consistent with the target over the next one to two years, even with a lower exchange rate.”

The bank aims to keep Australia’s underlying inflation rate between 2 and 3 per cent, over the course of a business cycle.

Mr Stevens said:”” In such circumstances, monetary policy needs to be accommodative.

” Low interest rates are acting to support borrowing and spending.

” Credit is recording moderate growth overall, with growth in lending to the housing market broadly steady over recent months.”

The Reserve Bank Governor then noted that:” Dwelling prices continue to rise strongly in Sydney, though trends have been more varied in a number of other cities.”

He said:” The Bank is working with other regulators to assess and contain risks that may arise from the housing market.”

And he added:” In other asset markets, prices for equities and commercial property have been supported by lower long-term interest rates.

” The Australian dollar is adjusting to the significant declines in key commodity prices,” Mr Stevens said.

He said:” The Board today judged that leaving the cash rate unchanged was appropriate at this meeting.

” Further information on economic and financial conditions to be received over the period ahead will inform the Board’s ongoing assessment of the outlook and hence whether the current stance of policy will most effectively foster sustainable growth and inflation consistent with the target.”

Friday 31st July 2015 - 2:35 pm
Comments Off on Where “affordable” houses can still be found

Where “affordable” houses can still be found

by Alan Thornhill

Still dreaming of moving out to the country?

This might be the time to act.

New research, that the Housing Industry Association published today, confirms that homes in most capitals have become less affordable, in recent months.

That is particularly so in Sydney and Melbourne.

But it also shows that the opposite is true in the country.

In fact the situation is so diverse, across Australia, that Dr Harley Dale, the Association’s Chief Economist, says these variations simply “… expose the folly” of sweeping talk of “an Australian housing boom.”

So what, really, is going on?

The rate cut, in May, certainly raised hopes that buying a home would become more affordable.

But two other factors hit those hopes in the June quarter of this year.

Home prices rose sharply, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

And wages, mostly, were flat.

So what was the net effect?

That depends on where you are thinking of buying your new home.

Dr Dale said that most capital city buyers will find that the benefit of that rate cut was outweighed by that combination of rising prices and flat wages.

That was particularly so, for those buying in Sydney or Melbourne.

Dr Dale said he based his assessment of the price impact on affordability on research by CoreLogic RP data.

What does that show?

He said housing affordability in capital city marketshad deteriorated by 3.6 per cent, during the June quarter.

That had been driven by developments in Sydney and Melbourne.

“This was in stark contrast to a 2.7 per cent improvement for regional Australia,” Dr Dale said.

That meant talk of a national housing boom made no sense.

“That is simply not what is occurring,” Dr Dale said.

“In many parts of Australia the extremely low interest rate environment is delivering historically favourable affordability conditions.”

“It is against this backdrop that authorities have escalated their requirements for the rationing of credit to residential investors.

The risk is that this will obstruct new housing supply, aggravating affordability conditions in markets around Australia,” Dr Dale added.

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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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