On the subject of...

Australian Economy

24
Aug
2016

Budget Savings, Protecting Voluntary Agencies, Clinton’s Health, Syrian War

With the imminent resumption of Parliament some warming-up is occurring. In The AustralianFinance Minister Cormann is reported as making new claims that the Coalition has already made large budget savings ($221bn over 10 years locked in) and that more could be made with Labor support. It appears Cormann refers to possible savings additional to those proposed by Turnbull to implement a miniscule $6.5 billion in budget savings said to have been agreed by Labor. But why hasn’t the Coalition detailed some possible additional savings?
19
Aug
2016

GST Shares, Budget Strategy, NT Royal Cn

In my Commentary on Tuesday I suggested that Turnbull’s announcement at the WA Liberal Party’s conference held last weekend that each State would now be guaranteed a minimum share of GST revenue was, once again, lacking in any serious analysis or any checking first even with senior ministers, let alone other states. It has subsequently emerged that the new arrangements, the calculation of which has not been stated, are first to be discussed with other states and that it is unclear when they might start (although WA Premier Barnett who has an election next March says he thought it would be this calendar year). The Australian also published an analysis on the assumption that the minimum share would likely be 75% and that WA (now receiving only 30%) might not receive any future benefit from any such arrangement. My letter to the Australian on the issue was published yesterday with four others (see GST Shares).
5
Aug
2016

Outcome in Senate, NT Royal Cn, Rudd, Bank Interest Rates, US Defence Policy, CFMEU Behaviour

Since the election on July 2, Turnbull has continued his record of mistaken decisions as to both substance and process, plus a failure to indicate what substantive policies will be pursued other than the legislation already foreshadowed to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to make unions more accountable under the registered organisation arrangements. But unless the (recounted) loss of Herbet by 37 votes is successfully challenged and another election held there (which seems too risky a venture), he has a majority of only one in the Reps and a deficit of 16 in the Senate.This means that if the two houses sit together he would need 9 votes from cross benchers (who include no less than 4 from One Nation and 3 from Xenophon) to obtain a majority to pass that legislation, which is a possibility but clearly uncertain. It is of some importance to climate change and extremist terrorist policy that One Nation ended up with 4 Senate seats, including one held by a sceptic (Malcolm Roberts) on global warming who is well versed in the data.
6
Jul
2016

McCrann on Turnbull

Whether the Coalition will have enough seats to form government remains unclear and it is by no means certain that it will be able to remain in government. But one or two certainties are clear. Most importantly, the governing of Australia will be much more difficult, perhaps as difficult as it was under Whitlam when the initial budget was put together by Whitlam and his Deputy on their own. The Turnbull government has already introduced a budget but that has still be considered by Parliament. Labor will doubtless argue that Turnbull’s bad election result means that this budget needs to be revised. As Terry McCrann points out below, any budget now needs to alsotake account of the likely reduction in Australia’s AAA credit rating.
5
Jul
2016

Election Result & Muslim Leader on Homosexuality

Whatever the outcome of the election, the 2.8% swing against the Coalition, and thenow very real possibility that it will be unable to form government on its own, is clearly a vote of no confidence in Turnbull and the policies he presented since taking-over from Abbott – or rather the lack of them. Those who were characterised as Del-Cons, which included myself, correctly identified that Turnbull is at heart a big government interventionist who lacks the capacity to adopt policies which would encourage private enterprise and should not be a leader of the Liberal Party. His attempt to persuade the electorate that he had an “economic plan” was unconvincing and wrongly used the word “plan”. Concern remains that a government led by him would aggressively pursue policies supported by him in the past, such as global warming, but not outlined before or during the election campaign.
29
Jun
2016

Some Important Implications of Brexit, Failures in Interpreting Muslim Religion

David Cameron has been British PM since May 2010 and won a second term in May 2015 with an all Conservative government (his first government was a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats). That second term was won with a much larger majority (331-232) than predicted by polls, probably because the polls under-estimated the (then) unpopular proposals by Labour Leader Millibrand (now replaced by the extremist Corbyn!). An independent inquiry into the polling suggested that the polling methods resulted in conservative voters being under-represented. The 72.7% who voted on the EU referendum exceeded the proportion in the May 2015 election (66.4%) and the 1975 European referendum’s 64.62%. Reports indicate that those who voted to leave appear to have comprised a high proportion of lower-middle income groups.
26
Jun
2016

Voters Want Neither Turnbull nor Shorten

The longer this election campaign continues the more it becomes apparent that voters are becoming increasingly sick to death of both leaders. The analysis below of voter satisfaction shows that “last weekend, net satisfaction — the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction — for the Prime Minister was minus 16, the Opposition Leader’s was minus 15 and both had 51 per cent of people dissatisfied with their ­performance. While Turnbull is favoured over Shorten as preferred prime minister 46 per cent to 31 per cent, there’s never been as low a collective vote nor as high an undecided factor at election time”
19
Jun
2016

Turnbull’s Islamic Policy

Due to the time needed to complete the sale of the house Felicity and I owned at Malua Bay, I have not been able to send a Commentary since 29 May. With the house sale completed today, it is opportune to comment briefly on an attempt by Turnbull to portray a close relationship with Australia’s Muslim community while at the same time acknowledging that “in this age of terrorism –overwhelmingly inspired by radical Islamist ideology –our security agencies must have the trust of Isalmic communities in order to succeed”. Attached are reports from today’s Australian, which gave front page treatment to Turnbull’s dinner invitation “dozens” of Muslims.
25
May
2016

Election Proposals Omit Structural Reforms Too

My Commentary sent out late Sunday (thanks to those who sent compliments) drew particular attention to the article by Judith Sloan on the Federal budget and her conclusion that “Labor is completely out of control fiscally; the Coalition is slightly better but no cigar”. This followed other strong critiques, including by John Stone. Meantime we have Turnbull and Shorten buying votes as they go from electorate to electorate and adding up to $100mn a day to budget spending. What does the odd million matter?