by Alan Thornhill
New figures show that Australia’s building industry continued to strengthen in October.
The Bureau of Statistics reported today that the amount of money lent for to build new homes rose by 1 per cent, on seasonally adjusted figures, in that month.
The amount lent for all owner occupied homes also rose by 1 per cent during the month.
The amount lent for the purchases of new homes rose by 3.6 per cent in October.
And the amount lent to buy established homes rose by 0.8 per cent.
by Alan Thornhill
Farm leaders will meet in Canberra on Thursday to discuss ways of making Australian agriculture more competitive.
Their meeting, organised by the National Farmers Federation will be the second forum held on the Federation’s Blueprint for the future.
It follows the Federal government’s announcement yesterday, of the terms of reference for the White Paper the government is proposing on the future of agriculture in Australia.
The Federation’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Linnegar, welcomed that announcement, made by the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce.
“Minister Joyce has confirmed that the Federal Government’s White Paper will build on the Blueprint for Australian Agriculture – cementing its importance as a key visioning document and strategic plan for the sector,” Mr Linnegar said.
“On Thursday, key industry leaders from across agriculture and its supply chain will again meet in Canberra to drive the Blueprint forward – and the competitiveness of the sector is one of the key items on the agenda,” he added.
“And this competitiveness means a focus on both farmer profitability and the farm and wider sector’s productivity – as we must ensure that our farmers are not only producing more food and fibre to meet growing world demand, but are doing so in a way that makes them, and the wider sector, more profitable and sustainable.
“Agriculture is an incredibly important part of our national economy, and our society, so it’s very pleasing to see the Government reinforce its commitment to make agriculture one of the five central pillars of its policy focus by commencing this White Paper process. Critically though, for the sector to benefit from this process, real action has to occur.
“In the past 12 months, the agricultural sector has worked together to develop the NFF-led, industry-developed Blueprint for Australian Agriculture.
“The sector continues to work together to turn the Blueprint findings into reality. Farmers understandably want to see real, tangible action that contributes to a strong and sustainable future: exactly what we’re delivering through the Blueprint, but also what must be delivered by the Government through their White Paper,” Mr Linnegar said.
He said the Federation would also be making a formal submission to the White Paper process.
by Alan Thornhill
Although many Australians are still retiring early, a substantial number are now planning to stay in the workforce until they are at least 70.
This is shown in new data, that the Bureau of Statistics released today.
The Bureau noted that almost one in five Australians, who intend to retire, now plan to do so when they are 70, or older.
The Bureau’s study follows a controversial report, by the Productivity Commission, saying the pension age may have to be lifted to 70, as Australians are now living longer.
Its survey showed that 50 per cent of the Australian men, who were retired in 2012-13, had left the nation’s workforce, while they were aged between the ages of 55 and 64.
Half of the remainder had left before their 55th birthdays.
And the rest had left on or after their 65th.
Retirement, for women, often comes earlier than it does for men.
The Bureau noted that 55 per cent of the nation’s retired women had left the workforce before they were 55.
It said 36 per cent had retired when they were aged 55-64.
And just 9 per cent had stayed on until they were 65.
The Productivity Commission urged the Federal government to study the increases in health and social security costs, that will come with an ageing population.
It also warned that, if they don’t act now, Australian governments would, collectively, face extra spending on health, aged care and the Age Pension, equivalent to 6 per cent of national GDP by 2060.
However a critic, Dave Roberts, said in a letter to the Canberra Times, that the Commission’s report “is a typical suggestion from a bunch of well-paid white collar public servants in their plush ivory tower.”
“Why don’t they go out and ask brickies, farmers etc how their bodies are holding up at 65 and whether they can work another five years?” he asked.
by Alan Thornhill
Australians are building more homes – and the building industry’s recovery is broadening.
High density housing is also becoming more popular.
However, a study identifying these trends, reports that it is still unclear whether the present shift to high density living will be sustained.
The study was undertaken by the Housing Industry Association and the results released today.
It showed that the trend improvement in building approvals, evident in the second half of this year, has strengthened.
The study notes, too, that there are now brighter prospects for builders outside New South Wales and Western Australia, the States which led the recovery, in its early stages.
It concludes, too, that: “Much of the aggregate growth has been driven by higher density approvals.”
However the report adds: ““Whether this will be sustained remains unclear.
“But recent growth in this category of approvals has been broad-based.”
However detached houses are still popular, with people who can afford them.
“Approvals for lower density dwellings continue to grind higher,” the report says.
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal Opposition says Holden “can and must be saved.”
Its Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek, gave that blunt assessment, in an interview on ABC radio today.
She was discussing reports that General Motors, which owns Holden, has already decided to close manufacturing operations in Australia from 2016.
Ms Plibersek said the car industry in Australia does get support, but that support is at a lower rate than in many other countries.
Another report, in Fairfax newspapers, says Holden has already set a price, for continued operations in Australia.
Those reports say the car maker did that in discussions with the previous Labor government.
Senator Kim Carr, who was Industry Minister, in that government, said Holden had agreed not only to continue operations in Australia until 2025, but to build two more “next generation” models, if it was offered $150 million extra in support.
However the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has said that there won’t be any more “blank cheques” for the motor industry.
Ms Plibersek took a different view, when she was asked if Holden could be saved.
“Well I think it can be and it must be,” she said.
“We’re talking about 200,000 jobs related to the car industry in Australia, and a million jobs across the manufacturing sector if we keep losing these big important manufacturing sector employers.
“The car industry in Australia does get Government support, but it does get support at a much lower rate than comparable countries.
“Per person the United States subsidises its car industry fourteen times per person more than we do.
“And even the German car industry, which most people would say is considered a very effective one, they subsidise at a rate five times per person higher than Australia does,” Ms Plibersek said.
by Alan Thornhill
A trade reform package – that is expected to create more than 21 million jobs worldwide – has been approved in Bali.
Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister, Andrew Robb, said he “warmly welcomed this outcome, reached through the World Trade Organisation.”
Mr Robb said Trade Ministers from 159 countries have reached this “historic trade agreement.”
“The trade reform package will make it easier and cheaper for goods to flow through the ports and customs processes of 159 countries,” he added.
“The agreements adopted today reaffirm the global commitment to eliminate agricultural export subsidies, address genuine food security needs through non-trade distorting policies, and to maximise export opportunities under tariff rate quotas,” Mr Robb said.
“Despite some suggestions, the Ministerial meeting was not about North-South differences.
“The overwhelming majority of WTO Members wanted a result, and we got there,” Mr Robb said.
“After 13 years of talks, the Bali outcome offers us a real opportunity to re-energise the WTO and get back to its core business of delivering trade liberalisation,” he said.
“This result is a testament to the tireless efforts of WTO Director-General Azevedo and to Indonesia as the host of the Bali meeting,” Mr Robb added.
by Alan Thornhill
Big “shopper discounts” at petrol stations will soon be a thing of the past.
They have been above 8 cents a litre, at times.
However the consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has been worried about aspects of this trade.
It has been investigating whether fuel savings offers, made by Coles and Woolworths, were lessening competition in the retail sales of fuel throughout Australia.
Becoming aware of this, the two giant retailers offered to voluntarily cease making fuel saving offers which are wholly or partially funded by part of their business outside their service stations.
Thy also offered to limit fuel discounts which are linked to supermarket purchases to a maximum of 4 cents per litre.
The Commission accepted these offers.
Its Chairman, Rod Sims, said: “We’ve accepted the undertakings because they address the ACCC’s principal competition concerns and allow the matter to be resolved quickly and efficiently.”
Other service station operators had complained about unfair competition.
They had said: “…that they simply could not afford to match the supermarkets’ fuel discounts of 8 cents or more.
That was because those discounts were being funded from markets that were separate and unrelated to the fuel retailing markets.
“By removing the funding by supermarkets and limiting the supermarket offers to a maximum of 4 cents per litre, the ACCC considers that other fuel retailers will be able to compete on a more level playing field.,” Mr Sims said.
by Alan Thornhill
The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, announced today that Australia has reached agreement on a free trade negotiations with the Republic of Korea.
He told Parliament that this is good news for Australia’s exporters and farmers and that new agreement will boost jobs and the economy.
The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, welcomed the announcement.
In a statement later, Mr Abbott said independent modelling had shown that the Agreement would be worth $5 billion between 2015 and 2030 and boost the economy by around $650 million annually after 15 years.
“As a result of the Agreement, tariffs will be eliminated on Australia’s major exports to Korea and there will be significant new market openings in services and investment,” the Prime Minister said.
“The FTA translates to higher economic growth and more jobs for Australians,” he added.
“As part of the FTA, tariffs of up to 300 per cent will be eliminated on key Australian agricultural exports such as beef, wheat, sugar, dairy, wine, horticulture and seafood, as well as resources, energy and manufactured goods,” Mr Abbott said.
“The FTA will also provide new market opportunities in Korea for Australian services in education, telecommunications and a range of professional services including financial, accounting and legal services,” he added.
Australian farmers welcomed the announcement.
The National Farmers’ Federation said the agreement would provide millions of dollars in export value to Australian farmers, including those in the red meat, grains, dairy, sugar, pork and horticulture sectors.
NFF President Brent Finlay said the deal recognises agriculture as one of the nation’s export strengths and will open opportunities for the sector in Korea.
Business also welcomed the new deal.
Director of Trade and International Affairs at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bryan Clark, said: “The announcement will provide a substantial boost to the two way trade and investment opportunity between Australia and Korea.
“The deal is comprehensive in its coverage with very few exclusions and a substantial benefit to Australia’s important sectors, particularly manufacturing, agriculture, food and service sectors like professional services. We particularly welcome and support the government’s flexibility in investor state dispute settlement and a pragmatic approach to foreign investment review board thresholds,” Mr Clark added.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Tuesday December 10
The Dow Jones index rose 6 points to 16,026
Holden boss Mike Devereux refuses to answer Productivity inquiry questions on government funding.
In October 2013, the total number of owner occupied housing finance commitments rose 1.0 per cent:ABS
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says she will dissolve parliament and call an election, after sustained protests in the capital, Bangkok.
Parliament abolishes the debt ceiling just three days before the Government said the nation’s books would hit the cap of $300 billion.
|Aud To Usd||0.911||N/A||N/A|
|Bhp Blt Fpo||37.020||+0.250||+0.68%|
|Bramb Ltd Fpo||8.740||-0.540||-5.82%|
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