by Alan Thornhill
Australians are still showing a clear preference for sports utiility vehicles, at their local car dealers.
The Bureau of Statistics reports that sales of these vehicles rose 1.5 per cent nationally in October.
However new vehicle sales, overall, fell 3.6 per cent last month, on seasonally adjusted figures, though they rose by 0.4 per cent on trend figures.
Sales in October this year, though, were well above those seen in the same month last year, on both measures.
On seasonally adjusted figures, the rise was 4.2 per cent.
On trend estimates, it was 5.5 per cent.
by Alan Thornhill
Some of Australia’s best scientists say the nation’s economic prospects are bright.
But they also caution that our prosperity in future will depend on the choices we make now.
This advice is offered in the Australian National Outlook report which the CSIRO published today.
Standing back from their test tubes for a moment, these scientists warned bluntly that Australia’s future will be shaped by innovation and technology uptake and the choices we make as a society will be paramount.
They are proud of their report, describing it as “, is the most comprehensive quantitative analysis yet of the interactions between economic growth, water-energy-food use, environmental outcomes and living standards in Australia.”
CSIRO Executive Director Dr Alex Wonhas said the report focuses on the ‘physical economy’ that contributes to about 75 per cent of natural resource use and produces about 25 per cent of Australia’s GDP.
“The National Outlook is a first attempt to understand and analyse the connections in Australia’s physical environment many decades into the future,” Dr Wonhas said.
“It has a particular focus on understanding two aspects: The ‘water- energy-food nexus’ and the prospects for Australia’s materials- and energy-intensive industries.”
National Outlook finds a number of key insights and potential opportunities across the Australian economy.? ?“For example, we find strong growth prospects for Australia’s agri-food production, which are forecast to increase at least 50 per cent by 2050, provided long term productivity improvements can be maintained in line with historical rates,” Dr Wonhas said.
So are we to do?
Dr Wonhas says:”“There’s a ….possibility of a win-win for farmers with potential growth in agri-food exports and new income sources for rural landholders through carbon farming on less productive land.”
What about water?
The report acknowledges that demand for water will grow with population.
But it adds:“Despite projections of a doubling of our water use, Australia could meet this growth as well as enhance urban water security and avoid increased environmental pressures through increased water recycling, desalination and integrated catchment management.”
It says too, that energy and other resources could remain a pillar of the Australian economy well into the future.
And it says our energy intensive industries could be well positioned to continue to grow, even in scenarios where the world is taking global action to significantly limit greenhouse gas emissions.
“The key to this success will be innovation and application of smart technologies,” Dr Wonhas said.
“We hope the National Outlook will help Australia chart its future in an increasingly complex and interconnected world,” he added
The National Outlook explores over 20 possible futures for Australia out to 2050 against the backdrop of the past 40 years.??The work was undertaken by a team of 40 CSIRO experts and university collaborators, and draws extensively on observed data and analysis.
It utilises a world-class suite of nine linked models, includes input from more than 80 experts and stakeholders from over ten organisations and has undergone rigorous international peer review.
National Outlook is underpinned by more than 10 journal papers including a Nature paper published today. The report is available at www.CSIRO.au/national outlook
by Alan Thornhill
We’re buying more new motor vehicles – and trying to squeeze them onto already overcrowded roads and parking lots.
The Bureau of Statistics reported today that new vehicle sales rose by 5.5 per cent in September to a level 7.7 per cent above those of the same month last year.
The biggest rise in September this year was in sales of sports utility vehicles.
The Bureau also reported that there were an estimated 17.7 million vehicles registered in Australia in October 2014.
That was an increase of some 1.1 million vehicles since the Bureau’s previous survey, which covered the 12 months to the end of June 2012.
It also estimated that those vehicles travelled 244,369 million kilometres in the 12 months to the end of October last year.
It said personal and other use accounted for 56.6 per cent of this travel.
by Alan Thornhill
A Reserve Bank chief says “the fundamentals” of the Australian economy “are strong” and provide grounds for “optimism” about the future.
Philip Lowe, the Bank’s Deputy Governor, made the observation in a speech he delivered to the CFA Institute Australia Investment Conference in Sydney today.
Mr Lowe said the central message of his speech was: “that these fundamentals are strong.”
“…and that they provide us with the basis to be optimistic about the future.”
“ At the same time, none of us has a crystal ball, so we can’t be sure exactly what that future holds,” Mr Lowe added.
“What we can be sure of is that we will be best placed to take advantage of our strong fundamentals if our economy is flexible and if it is able to adapt to the changing world in which we find ourselves,” Mr Lowe added.
“Hence the title of my remarks this morning: Fundamentals and Flexibility.”
Mr Lowe said advancing technology had greatly affected the way Australians work.
“The advances in technology are reshaping, in unexpected ways, the jobs that we do,“ he said.
“If we were to go back to 1995, or perhaps even to just 2005, I suspect that there are very few of us who could have imagined many of the new occupations that have emerged.”
“There are big data architects, cloud computing experts, social media strategists, mobile app developers, information security technicians, green retrofit architects, genetic counsellors and the list goes on.”
“Each of these new occupations is possible only because of advances in technology.”
“More broadly, the huge growth in employment in the services sector has taken many by surprise,” Mr Lowe said.
“I suspect that if in the early 1990s we had known that there would be a net loss of over 100 000 jobs in the manufacturing sector in Australia over the next 25 years, there would have been a sense of despair about the future.”
“This despair would probably have been compounded if we had also known there would be no growth in jobs in both the utilities and wholesale trade sectors over the next quarter of a century.”
“Yet, over this period, we have enjoyed a strong rise in our living standards, the unemployment rate has come down substantially and we have generated around 4 million new jobs across the economy, mostly in the services sector.”
by Alan Thornhill
The Federal government is to buy 1,100 locally built Hawkei protected vehicles and more than 1,000 trailers to strengthen Australia’s defence force.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister, Marise Payne,who made the announcement today, said waa a great day for the army.
They said: “under a $1.3 billion agreement, the vehicles will be manufactured at Thales Australia’s production line in Bendigo, creating 170 jobs there and another 60 jobs in Victoria.”
The Opposition welcomed the announcement, saying it would secure 170 jobs for five years.
Mr Turnbull also said there is a “very big export potential” for this type of vehicle.
It is light enough to be transported by helicopter.
“The addressable market for a vehicle of this kind is enormous,” the Prime Minister said.
But he warned that the market is “very competitive.”
by Alan Thornhill
Cabin crew working on Virgin Australia’s short-haul routes have won big improvements in their working conditions.
The Transport Workers’ Union, which negotiated the deal, said more than 90 per cent had approved it.
In a statement today, the union said:“The agreement, covering over 2,100 Virgin Australia short-haul cabin crew, includes specific leave for employees experiencing family and domestic violence.”
It allows five days to attend medical or legal appointments.
The union also said the deal would improve consultation with employees while ruling out less favorable conditions or wages for new entrants.
“This agreement will make Virgin Australia a better, more sustainable airline. It will ensure current and future employees have a strong voice in the airline,” the TWU’s National Secretary Tony Sheldon said .
“The company has gained productivity improvements by enhancing the staff’s consultative culture in a highly motivated workforce.”
“The process of negotiating this deal proves that when management engage in a respectful and meaningful way with their employees a lot more is achieved,” Mr Sheldon added.
“This is a first step in securing a better future for cabin crew.
“We will keep up the pressure to ensure good, quality jobs are the norm not the exception.”
“We are proud to have family and domestic violence leave in this agreement, following its inclusion in other Virgin Australia agreements.
“This is a major problem throughout our society with one in three women experiencing physical or sexual violence and one in four children exposed to domestic abuse.
“We remain hopeful other aviation employers will see the importance of supporting staff when they experience domestic violence,” Mr Sheldon said .
TWU negotiating team member Anne Brine said: “My colleagues and I are delighted with this deal which will give us good careers while we provide for our families.
“Negotiations were tough and lengthy but the result shows what can be achieved when the crew stand together.”
Key elements of the deal include:
· Updates to wages, conditions and classification to recognise the role of cabin crew in Virgin Australia’s expansion and move to a full-service airline
· No ‘B’ rate conditions or wages that have proliferated elsewhere in the industry
· Incentives to minimise flight cancellations and delays
· Improved consultation and dispute avoidance and settlement procedures
· Recognition for key public holidays
· Industry-leading provisions for domestic violence leave
by Alan Thornhill
Joe Hockey has sought to assure international investors that Australia can cope with “whatever happens in China.”
The Treasurer was speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, during a visit to the Turkish capital of Ankara for a B20 meeting.
The interviewer asked Mr Hockey if he is concerned that his budget forecasts might turn out to be too optimistic, in view of recent developments in China.
Mr Hockey’s reply was adamant.
“No, because we think our forecasts are about right at the moment,” he said.
” What we’re seeing is pretty strong employment growth even in the wake of us not getting our economic growth back to what is our trend growth rate of around three and a quarter per cent.
The Bureau of Statistics reported this week that Australia’s economic growth has slipped back to an annual rate of just 2 per cent, on the latest available figures.
Mr Hockey then said: “Now this is a new phenomena in a number of different economies.
“The fact that you can have pretty strong employment growth despite not having your normal level of growth, that’s quite encouraging.”
The interviewer then noted that the Australian economy had grown by just 0.2 per cent in the June quarter, a result below the expectations of many economists.
He asked what the economists had been missing.
Mr Hockey replied:” Well, they’re missing the full year data.
“And they’re also missing more recent data, which indicates that the 70 per cent of our economy which covers services, has actually grown by nearly seven and a half per cent in the last 12 months.
“Mining and resources represent only ten per cent of the Australian economy.
“Agriculture is less than five per cent of our economy.
“But they are obviously, a big part of our exports.
“We’re now seeing the emergence of a middle class in Asia that has massive demand for our exports in education, tourism, advanced manufacturing and a range of other things that represent 70 per cent of our economy and just 17 per cent of our exports.”
The interviewer then asked Mr Hockey what it would take to force him to change his budget forecasts.
He replied:” Well, it depends.
“There’s many factors at play.
“China is our biggest trading partner.
“But the United States is our third biggest trading partner.
“And we’re seeing strong growth in the United States.
“Low energy prices help us on the one hand because we import a lot of oil.
“On the other hand we export a lot of gas, so that’s not necessarily helpful to our domestic gas prices.
“Australia has a diversified economy, much more diversified than people appreciate and therefore we will be able to cope with whatever happens in China, or particularly, in other parts of the world.
” So long as it’s not a global wide phenomena,” Mrr Hockey said.
by Alan Thornhill
The public is more likely to be excited by prospects of economic growth than economic reform, the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, said today.
He was addressing the National Reform Summit Hosted by The Australian and The Australian Financial Review in Sydney today.
Mr Stevens urged those present to remain aware that the “to do list” necessary to secure greater productivity in Australia “remains substantial.”
And he urged those present to be careful about the ways in which they argue the case for productivity growth.
“I would like to suggest that ‘reform’ is a term which excites the intellectual elites and the various interest groups – including those who feel they have something to lose from reform – but doesn’t do much to excite the general public,” he said.
“And getting buy-in from them is ultimately critical.
“To be sure, they have to be led.
“But they have to be convinced too.
“I submit that the general public is much more likely to grasp, intuitively, a conversation about growth.
“Growth in jobs, in incomes, in their standard of living, wealth and prosperity.
” Better allocative efficiency, if we could secure it, would doubtless add to growth.
(But) “That growth is worth having.”
Mr Stevens said Australia already has a “robust and stable” financial system.
” Our financial sector is robust and stable,” he told his audience.
But he said while those are “necessary conditions for prosperity” they are “not sufficient ones…”
“More is needed – and that’s why you are here,” Mr Stevens said.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
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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