On the subject of...

Australian Economy

1
Apr
2016

Turnbull on Federal State Relations

It is becoming more difficult by the day to guess what rationale is behind the limited policy announcements Malcolm Turnbull is starting to make. One interpretation of Turnbull’s latest announcement is that he reached a personal view that he needed to announce something new. That led to his decision to announce a “new” policy on federal-state relations without providing substantive detail because he thought that there would general agreement that something needed to be done to reduce the vertical fiscal imbalance between the Federal and State governments. And that there would be much discussion of the idea and praise for him for initiating it.
8
Mar
2016

Electoral Position, Defence & Budget Policies

Today’s Australian publishes an unchanged electoral position of the two major parties (TPPs of 50% each) but another reduction in Turnbull’s net satisfaction ratio. He is still well ahead of Shorten in the unchanged Better PM category (55/21). But the uncertainty about Coalition policy in various areas has been allowed by Turnbull to reach the point where an “early” election seems increasingly likely, with policies being unduly determined by electoral “demands” and Turnbull himself having a bigger say as to what is in the policies.
2
Mar
2016

Economic Outlook

At a time when in January the IMF revised down its global GDP forecast for 2016 from 3.6% to 3.4%, and also forecast a fall of 9.5% in non-oil commodity prices (after a fall of 17.4% last year), Treasurer Scott Morrison is justified in repeating his boast that today’s December quarter GDP increase of 0.6% (seasonally adjusted) shows Australia is continuing to grow well above the average in the OECD. In fact, the trend in GDP growth has edged up slightly since 2013.
25
Feb
2016

The Missing Economic Policy

Today’s Newspoll shows the two major parties are now on the same TPP (down from a steady 53/47 for the Coalition). Although Turnbull remains clearly preferred as PM, his indecisiveness over whether to raise the GST/cut income tax and his failure to produce any new substantive economic policy has contributed to the downturn. Turnbull’s general approach of not ruling any policy in or out –and then not deciding on anything – has not helped and his net satisfaction rating is down to 10 compared with 38 in mid-November. As Rowan Dean put it in Saturday’s AFR, “Turnbull: The Force Awakens has lost business to Deadbill”.
19
Feb
2016

Treasurer Morrison on Government’s Economic Policies

It is not often that one accepts most assertions and back up used by 7.30’s Leigh Sales when interviewing a minister from the Coalition Government. But her interview of Scott Morrison after he gave a 9 page address to the National Press Club (text attached with 5 pages of Q&A) go to the heart of the problem with the performance of the government led by Turnbull since he became PM. The text of her interview with SM is set out below and attached are comments on the address by her, another ABC interviewer and Shadow Treasurer Bowen. Following are the main points arising from SM’s presentation and his interview with Sales.
31
Jan
2016

Australia Day & Some of Its Consequences; Budget & Spending Levels

With minimal editorial change, today’s Australian has published a letter of mine praising the virtues of the present Australian political system. The Letters Ed interpreted it more as an attack on the US system (which it is indirectly) but its main intent is to question the merits of the alternatives proposed for us, including the republican one for which our current PM led the charge in the 1999 referendum but is now suggesting that any move should await the death of the Queen. While he knows Prince Charles favours a republic, he is off track even there: as the monarchical head for Australia Charles would have no legal power or influence on policy.
24
Jan
2016

Turnbull – What are His Policies?; Stone on Budget; Bob Carter

When an Australian PM makes an obviously pre-prepared address during a visit overseas his main object is not so much to inform his overseas audience as to let his supporters and opponents at home know his thinking about those government policies that are in dispute domestically. The address Turnbull made in Washington to the think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies was relevant particularly to his government’s policies on Islamic terrorism and our military involvement in Iraq/Syria –and to his own capacity to deliver them.
28
Nov
2015

Commentary on Turnbull’s Security Statement

PM Turnbull’s National Security Statement tells us that ISIL is “in a fundamentally weak position” and this has “strengthened the resolve of the global community... to defeat it”. But there is apparently a consensus among the leaders he met at recent international meetings against “sending a large US-led Western army to attempt to conquer and hold ISIL controlled areas”.
22
Nov
2015

Some Things are Ruled Out, Some Not

We have now experienced two meetings/summits of world leaders following the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday, one by the G20 in Turkey and one in Manila by those involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (still to be approved by the US Congress). Although there was a general recognition at both meetings that the Islamic State constituted a powerful force and agreement that “something needs to be done” to combat it, no specific combined response was agreed, except that whatever else might be done boots on the ground are ruled out.
8
Sep
2015

Coalition Needs Major Policy Initiative

It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how Abbott can survive on the basis of existing policies and the way they are presented. After a period of public debate over the Royal Commission, during which Shorten and various unions were exposed as having behaved very poorly, Newspoll is still unchanged on a TPP basis (46/54) and Shorten remains Better PM (41/37). In addition, while 68% want the RC to continue, Heydon himself gets bad marks for his mishandling of the invitation to a Liberal Party function. Further, the support for the China FTA (only 43% and 22% uncommitted) indicates a failure to fully explain that it exposed virtually no risk from foreign-sourced labour ( Robb’s explanations yesterday on the ABC’s Insiders was excellent but he should have been more upfront earlier).