On the subject of...

Federal Politics

17
Apr
2019

Election Campaign Still Not Informing Voters

I start by mentioning that my daughter, Lisa, is re-visiting us in Australia after performing in America (where she presently lives) to give piano recitals here. She has recently played on several occasions in New York and has had excellent reviews in the NY Times. Her first recital here on this occasion is at the Melbourne Recital Centre next Wednesday at 6pm (the program is here and tickets are available – phone 9699 3333). Yesterday’s electioneering has started across scattered issues, with both sides seemingly stuck on announcing every day small amounts of new money for initiatives regarding which the great majority know little about (other of course than to “buy votes”). The Coalition needs to focus more on the economic picture which, Morrison says, is what the Coalition is all about. Rather surprisingly, Shorten has attracted media criticism while Morrison has come off largely scot free. Of particular interest was that the leftish Australian Financial Review drew considerable attention to Shorten’s problems. It is encouraging that this section of the media has (almost) given a bipartisan view/comment.
14
Apr
2019

Coalition Election Campaign Starts Poorly

The campaign for the election on 18 May started officially on11 April although statements of policy had been made prior to that, as had media assessments. Two prominent conservative commentators had in fact already indicated their view that Labor will win. Terry McCrann wrote on 11 Apr “One thing is absolutely crystal clear about the election. If Labor wins — as to me, seems certain — it will hit the ground running, straight after the election, in June”. He added that “it has a program to dramatically increase taxes on negative gearing, franking credits, capital gains and trusts; it will not cut the company tax on big companies from 30 per cent, which is now very uncompetitive, with the US down to 21 per cent, and will revisit the cut on medium-sized companies; it will also further squeeze especially small and medium-sized businesses with the so-called “living wage”; and then there’s the whole issue of power prices, which will just continue to increase and increase at an accelerating rate under Labor’s so-called climate change policy”
8
Apr
2019

Polling Shifts for Parties

Two new polls tell different stories, one favouring the Coalition but the other not. First, Newspoll shows the Coalition’s TPP as up by two percentage points with Labor’s down the same two points compared with the March 7-10 poll. Hence the Coalition is up from 46 to 48 while Labor’s is down from 54 to 52 now. Also, while the primary votes ( before taking account of preferences from other parties) for the Coalition have improved (from 36 to 38), Labor’s have fallen (from 39 to 37). These send out a hopeful signal to the Coalition.
3
Apr
2019

Commonwealth Budget 2019/20

Today’s Media has included many comments on the Morrison Government’s Budget for 2019-20 as well as estimates of revenue and expenditure for the following three years. These include a large number of decisions and it would not be appropriate here to examine them in any detail: indeed I challenge anyone to examine what one journalist described as “a budget speech littered with references to plumbers, couriers, cranes, hard hats, teachers, tradies and nurses”. My general conclusion on the speech I watched on TV was that it did not impress most on the Coalition benches and some of those there tended to drop off and, after a time, showed little encouragement as Frydenberg continued well after the half-hour finishing time allocated to budget speeches. In consequence, what my comments below mainly relate to are the totals of revenue, expenditure and what is commonly treated as the deficit or surplus for the four years.
17
Mar
2019

NZ Killings

As expected, there has been universal condemnation of the killing of 49 Muslims in two NZ mosques by an Australian using automatic weapons. That person is Breton Tarrant, who seems to have planned the killings carefully, including by spending three months in Christchurch and maintaining contacts with 3-4 colleagues. The incident has naturally raised questions about the implications for police/defence policies and whether existing policies are adequate.
14
Mar
2019

RBA Publishes Surprise Pre-election Analysis Of CC

I was surprised yesterday to see a report on a speech made by the RBA’s Dep Gov, Guy Debelle, on climate change and the possible implications for the economy and monetary policy. I judged that, with just a few weeks until the election, it would be wrong to publish an analysis on how to treat changes in climate when that subject is probably the most controversial between the political parties. Statements by government bodies which can influence attitudes, add to the controversy and possibly favour one party, should not be made at this time. This generally accepted rule applies to the Reserve Bank notwithstanding its claim to be “independent” and the more so as Debelle claims climate change influences monetary policy.
12
Mar
2019

Coalition Must Take Now Risks with Policies & leaders

In yesterday’s Commentary I argued that, given the latest Newspoll (and for policy reasons too), the Coalition should “change courses” asap. I also sent a letter to OZ (unpublished) advocating the cancellation of Turnbull’s membership of the Liberal Party. My advocacies are based on my perspective that, although risky, the Coalition needs to take risks now if it is to have any chance of winning the election and that an improved set of policies would in any event provide a better starting point in Opposition to a Labor government.
11
Mar
2019

Should Coalition Change Any Policies?

The latest Newspoll shows that, after three successive results on 47/53 TPPs, the Coalition has now fallen to 46/54. Even though Morrison’s personal approval ratings improved a single point to 43 per cent so too did Shorten’s and, while Morrison’s disapproval numbers fell from 48 per cent to 45 per cent, Shorten’s also fell two points. These ratings gaps have not altered to any significant extent over the last fortnight and, although they still favour Morrison, there is no real sign that the Coalition can close the overall gap on TPPs by the May election
4
Mar
2019

More Ministers Quit; Treasury Officer’s Life

Last Friday’s Commentary suggested that the latest Coalition’s Newspoll of 47/53 for the third successive time indicated that the Morrison government was still in serious trouble. I suggested that the additional policy decisions announced by Morrison on climate policy would be unlikely to help close the gap. These measures included acceptance of the Paris agreement and an expanded use of renewable through the establishment of the very uneconomic Snowy2.0 and the usage of “big batteries”. Energy Minister Taylor also claimed the new measures would cut energy bills while lowering emissions but this failed to take account of the additional costs from using the Snowy or from back-ups needed when other renewable are not available. I noted that it seemed unlikely that the Energy Minister would be able to reduce electricity prices except through the adoption of a regulatory system which legally limited the maximum price able to be charged by retailers.
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