Australia set for a DD election

April 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

The Senate has defied Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just one day into a three-week special sitting of Parliament, handing him a double dissolution trigger and setting the stage for an unprecedented 75-day election campaign.

Mr Turnbull’s high-risk plan to hold a double dissolution poll on July 2 comes as two new polls found the Coalition tied or even trailing a resurgent Labor opposition.

It will be a fascinating election.

The winning party may also get a majority in the Senate as they have changed the law so preference deals between parties no longer have the same impact so you are less likely to get someone elected who had 0.5% primary vote.

That means the May 3 federal budget will now form a key element of the government’s re-election pitch and that a pair of untested leaders – neither Mr Turnbull nor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten have led their party in a campaign before – will fight for Australians’ votes in what shapes as a marathon political contest.

Mr Shorten is due to deliver his budget reply speech on May 5, and Mr Turnbull must visit the Governor-General no later than May 11 to formally issue the writs and announce the poll.

On Sunday, Mr Turnbull confirmed defeat of the ABCC bill would mean “there will be a dissolution of both houses and an election of the 2nd of July” and speaking after the Senate vote, Liberal Senate leader George Brandis said the restoration of the ABCC was an important part of the government’s economic agenda.

The election needs to be fought on more than the fighting union corruption. That is an important issue, but not the most important issue to every day Australians.

Australia jumps the shark

April 13th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Christopher Snowden highlights a bad trend in Australia:

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has called for all women “of reproductive age” who consume more than two standard drinks a day to be subject to “interventions” on the basis that they might be pregnant, in a remarkable submission to a Senate inquiry.

I know a lot of women who need an intervention then!

Children’s toys should be subject to plain-packaging laws similar to cigarettes, an inter­national women’s group says. 

Crazy.

Alcohol packaging should carry warning labels, akin to cigarettes, under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code

Yes every bottle of wine should carry a photo of a corpse on it.

Best Australian PMs since 1972

March 14th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A poll in the Australian about whom Australians think has been the best Prime Minister since 1972. The results are:

  1. John Howard 34%
  2. Bob Hawke 13%
  3. Gough Whitlam 10%
  4. Paul Keating 6%
  5. Kevin Rudd 6%
  6. Julia Gillard 5%
  7. Malcolm Fraser 3%
  8. Malcolm Turnbull 3%
  9. Tony Abbott 2%

I’d agree with Howard and Hawke as the two two. I’d put Keating third. My list would be:

  1. John Howard
  2. Bob Hawke
  3. Paul Keating
  4. Julia Gillard
  5. Tony Abbott
  6. Gough Whitlam
  7. Malcolm Turnbull Fraser
  8. Kevin Rudd

Australia NZ relationship at its strongest

March 9th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Alex Malley, the CEO of CPA Australia writes:

The trans-Tasman relationship between the Key and Turnbull Governments has reached a new level of mutual respect and intimacy not previously seen during the decades since the signing of the CER agreement in 1983.

This bodes well for both countries’ economic, diplomatic and security future.

Over all those years there has been some fine talk from Australian leaders about the special relationship between the two countries but it’s fair to say that, from a New Zealand perspective, there’s been precious little action on a range of issues affecting Kiwis.

Even when Julia Gillard addressed New Zealand’s Parliament, in what was a first for the two countries, she was unable or unwilling to change policy that was causing political and diplomatic tension. She did say she wouldn’t challenge the world trade decision on apples but, as seen with Kiwi eyes, that was perhaps making a virtue out of an original sin.

So, Prime Minister Turnbull’s initiative to lay a pathway for some Kiwis to Australian citizenship is a significant one.

No previous prime minister – Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard et al – has actually implemented a New Zealand request for a change to Australian domestic law to accommodate its citizens living in the Lucky Country.

This is basically correct. Turnbull is the first PM since CER to actually change Australian law to benefit New Zealanders living there.

Easier Australian citizenship for Kiwis

February 20th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Thousands of Kiwis who arrived in Australia after it tightened its immigration rules in 2001 will now be given an easier path to seek Australian citizenship under certain conditions.

If they earned A$53,000 over five consecutive years ($57,000) between 2001 and today, they will eventually be able to apply for permanent residence and eventually apply for citizenship.

Mr Key estimates that up to 100,000 of the 305,000 Kiwis who arrived to live in Australia between 2001 and today could meet the criteria and get a new pathway to citizenship.

That’s the best solution for Kiwis in Australia who don’t get the same rights as Australians – allow them to become Australians.

Tracy Watkins notes how rare this is:

Leverage – it’s that thing Australia has got in spades in the trans-Tasman relationship, and something that has always been in short supply on our side.

So whether it’s thanks to Pyjama diplomacy, trans-Tasman arm wrestling or the Anzac spirit, Malcolm Turnbull’s move to open the door wider to Kiwis across the Tasman is the first real instance of an Australian leader backing up his words about our “special relationship” with action on the expat front.

Actions, not words.

The most important plus is the reversal in trans-Tasman flows to a small net gain in people crossing the ditch from Australia to New Zealand, rather than the other way.

It would have been much harder to sell the deal if there were still 35,000 Kiwis a year flooding Australia’s borders, as there were when the Key government first took power.

It helps also that in the Australian business community at least, New Zealand is no longer seen as a basket case economy – in fact, most look across the Tasman with envy and ask their Government why things are not so good in Australia.

Our economic strength made this possible.

But there is also a personal dimension to the win.

Key and Turnbull clearly have a warm relationship – something that took Australian media by surprise when they learned Turnbull was hosting John and Bronagh Key overnight at his Sydney waterfront mansion.

They were dubbing it Pyjama diplomacy, noting that it was unprecedented for an Australian leader to host a visiting foreign leader at their own home.

And relationships count.

Jacinda on Australia Day

February 9th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Jacinda Ardern writes in the SST on the call for NZ to have a national holiday that is an actual celebration like Australia Day:

Australia Day? Are you kidding? That is the last place we should be looking for a model of race relations, let alone a national day of celebration – unless you’re into drunken, casual racism. 

Jacinda seems to be judging Australia Day off the basis of what a small minority do. I doubt most Australians see it as a day of drunken casual racism.

Melbourne Age notes the migration flow to NZ

February 7th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Melbourne Age reports:

More people are moving to New Zealand from Australia instead of the other way around for the first time in decades as Kiwis return to a buoyant economy and are joined by foreigners in search of work.

According to new figures released by Statistics New Zealand, 25,273 people migrated east across the Tasman Sea in 2015, compared to 24,504 who went the other way.

This net flow of 769 to New Zealand is the biggest since 1991 and the number of people coming to Australia is the lowest since the same year.

It comes as the country of 4.6 million is experiencing consistent political stability and strong economic performance while other countries falter.

We’re pretty much the only country on the OECD to already be back into surplus after the GFC.

The trend began in the middle of last year and these new figures confirm the anti-New Zealand migration is over, having peaked in 2012 when a total of more than 53,000 fled to Australia.

In 2013, the net migration flow to Australia was 19,600. By 2014, this was down to 3800. 

Halting the “brain drain” was a major campaign commitment of Prime Minister John Key who, after more than seven years in power, is a popular leader running a steady, successful government.

Australians would like some stability in their Governments!

Since John Key became National Party Leader, there have been six PMs of Australia.

The continued economic growth, low unemployment numbers, strong New Zealand dollar, budget surplus and migration success story of the country are all feathers in the cap of the Prime Minister, who last year joked that you “wouldn’t know who’s going to show up” when you’re expecting an Australian prime minister.

Heh.

One victim of this revolving door of political leadership, former treasurer Joe Hockey, last year insisted that the lower tax rates of New Zealand were “unquestionably” part of the exodus.

A top tax rate of 33% is attractive.

The Washington Post has also reported on the change in net migration between Australia and NZ.

Australian High Court rules in favour of off shore detention

February 5th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The SMH reports:

The High Court has ruled that Australia’s offshore detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful, dashing the hopes of asylum seekers that detention centres would be closed and they would be settled in Australia.

This ruling will save lives. The hardline policy has stopped hundreds of people from drowning by trying to reach Australia.

Here’s the deaths by drowning by year:

  • 2015: 0
  • 2014: 0
  • 2013: 236
  • 2012: 421
  • 2011: 235
  • 2010: 168
  • 2009: 132

The drop to zero for two years in a row is not a coincidence. It is a direct reflection of removing the incentive for people to pay tens of thousand of dollars to people smugglers.

The full bench of the High Court on Wednesday ruled that the federal government has the power under the constitution to detain people in other countries, finding that its conduct was within the law.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been under pressure to allow child asylum seekers to stay in Australia regardless of the court’s decision. The Greens said on Wednesday that forcing their return amounted to “child abuse”.

No child abuse is when they drown at sea because they are incentivised to try and sail to Australia.

If NZ did join Australia

November 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather du Plessis-Allan writes:

Sure, it’s not an immediately popular idea, but hear me out. Taking up the offer to become part of Australia could be a good thing.

If New Zealand did join Australia as two states (NI and SI) then John Key would no doubt become Prime Minister of Australia, with Malcolm Turnbull as his Deputy.

The North Island would have 22 MPs and the South Island seven MPs, out of 178 total.

In terms of Senators they would have 12 each out of 100 total.

Andrew Little would roll Bill Shorten as Federal Opposition Leader.

But who would become the Premiers of the NI State and SI State?

My pick would be Jacinda Ardern as the Premier of the North Island, as all NI Premiers would come from Auckland.

And down south, Amy Adams as the Premier of the South Island!

More nonsense from Labour on detainees

November 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The arrest of a former detainee deported to New Zealand shows why they should remain in Australia where their families and friends can support them, Labour leader Andrew Little says.

This is pretty idiotic. They got deported from Australia because they were committing crime in Australia. So blaming their criminal offending on not being with family and friends is making excuses for criminals.

And Australia has every right to deport serious or persistent criminals who are not Australian citizens, just as we have the same right to deport non New Zealanders who commit crimes.

No wonder Little got nowhere in Australia with his advocacy.

He was not concerned that the arrest would reflect negatively on Labour’s advocacy for Kiwi detainees.

“I expected at some point we would start getting reports of the returned deportees starting to offend here, so it doesn’t surprise me and I doesn’t undermine a thing I’ve said or done.”

Labour has tried to portray them as victims, when the vast majority of them are not. The person who got burgled by this guy is a victim. He is not.

Little wins big in Australia – gets an invitation for us to become a state

November 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As Andrew Little flew to Australia yesterday to address politicians today about Kiwis’ lack of rights in their adopted country, an Aussie senator made a suggestion that would likely make the average bloke in his stubbies choke on his tinnie.

Ian Macdonald, who chaired the parliamentary committee that recommended a new law leading to the detention and deportation of NZers, said New Zealand could become the country’s seventh and eighth state.

He said Labour leader Little’s calls for, among other improved rights, access to citizenship for Kiwi expats would not be controversial to most Australians.

“The issue of closer ties with New Zealand is one beyond any limited expertise I might have, but as an observer … I would love to have New Zealand join us perhaps as the seventh and eighth state.

A huge diplomatic victory for Andrew Little. Kiwis who are criminals can stay in Australia for as long as they want, so long as New Zealand gives up being an independent country.

Well that’s seven who might be staying in Australia now!

November 12th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Seven New Zealanders have been flown off Christmas Island, as images emerge of the damage caused by rioting at the detention centre.

The ABC reported it had witnessed detainees being transported to the Christmas Island airport.

Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton subsequently confirmed their removal to a correctional facility in Western Australia.

Looks like they may get to stay in Australia after all now! Of course in a prison, if they get sentenced.

“They are among a group of extreme-risk individuals who are alleged to have been involved in the disturbance at the centre,” he told the ABC.

The men, who were handcuffed, said they were from New Zealand and claimed to be on their way to a prison in Perth.

Remember that some of the asylum seekers at Christmas Island said they lived in fear of these guys, and were often beaten up by then. They are not nice individuals.

That doesn’t mean that every person caught up in this new Australian policy is bad. The case of the former Kiwi soldier is a case in point. It appears he has committed no offence, except join a motorcycle gang or club. There may of course be more to the story than we know at this stage.

However Australia gets to decide who stays in Australia. And if they tell you you are no longer legally able to live in Australia, then the best thing to do is leave, and come back to New Zealand – if you are a citizen. You can fight your appeal from here, and in fact I read somewhere around a third of the appeals have been successful. But helping cause a riot won’t help your appeal.

I think the new Australian policy is overly harsh and inflexible. But that doesn’t mean it is a breach of human rights. NZ sometimes detains people for immigration reasons also – Ahmed Zaoui was detained for a lengthy time when Labour were in Government here.

The ones Labour are defending

November 11th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have been battling for weeks and months for the NZ citizens held in detention in Australia as they fight deportation orders, trying to make them the victims. They have glossed over the fact that they have all been sentenced to at least a year in prison. Now I don’t know if Australia is the same as NZ, but in NZ to get a year in prison you need to either be a recidivist offender or a reasonably serious offender. You don’t go to prison for one burglary.

Stuff reports:

A mob of aggressive New Zealanders has been terrorising other detainees inside Christmas Island detention centre for weeks, leaving asylum-seekers fearing for their lives.

Dozens of Kiwis are locked up in the Australian detention facility – many had their visas revoked on character grounds under section 501 of Australia’s Migration Act, earning them the nickname “501s”.

But while they may not have committed crimes, fellow detainees say inside Christmas Island detention centre, the Kiwis are anything but innocent.

A distressed Lebanese detainee told The Australian he feared for his life at the hands of the 501s during a riot that broke out on Monday.

“They’re f***ing going to kill me … We are in danger. You need to tell someone who cares that our prison is in the hands of very serious criminals.”

So it is not the evil Australian Government’s guards they are scared of, but the NZ detainees whom Labour are championing.

He said the New Zealanders had beaten more than 20 weaker detainees over the last month, stealing their phones and other property.

“These Kiwis are like a group. There’s about 25 of them. Very, very strong and they are very, very aggressive. We have problems with them. They call us dogs. Dogs and b****es.

“I got bashed by 14 men … My eyes are destroyed. I cannot see more than 20m. They ­f***ing ­destroyed my life.”

Perhaps not a huge surprise that Australia is deporting them.

Other detainees also blamed the New Zealanders for starting the riot, after escaped Iranian refugee Fazel Chegeni was found dead on the island, far northwest of Australia near Indonesia.

Tuk Whakatutu told Radio New Zealand there was an armed group mostly made up of New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders, who had broken into garden sheds to find weapons.

“They’ve got petrol bombs, they’ve got machetes, they’ve got chainsaws, metal bars, all sorts.

Outstanding citizens.

The New Zealand government has since promised Kiwis who elected to return home would be able to do so in a “matter of days, or at most, a week”, despite the riot.

Potential obstacles to a swift departure included detainees’ lack of travel documents, the need to charter private flights for high-risk offenders, and assessing potential risks that detainees could present upon their arrival.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had confirmed “there would be no prejudice to consideration of the cases of detainees who chose to come to New Zealand in the interim”.

“Further, Minister Dutton gave me an undertaking that any New Zealander wanting to return would not have to bear any of the expense involved in returning to New Zealand,” Adams said. 

“He has previously confirmed that for those who return, if their appeal is subsequently upheld then there would also be no barrier on them returning to Australia.”

But if they come back to NZ, then they don’t have Labour MPs championing their cause to try and paint them as the martyrs.

Labour were all offended when the PM said they were supporting rapists, child molesters and murderers. Well the Herald reports:

The Prime Minister’s office later released figures which showed that out of 585 New Zealanders facing deportation, 34 had been convicted of child sex offences, 22 convicted of murder, and 16 convicted for rape or sex offences.

22 of them are murderers!

A win for toy dinosaurs

November 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The police case against Rickey Caton started with a “roaaaar!” when he was forcibly arrested by two officers after jokingly producing a toy dinosaur during a roadside car stop.

But it ended with a whimper on Friday when a magistrate ordered the police force to pay more than $105,000 in legal costs after finding the matter should never have gone to court.

The police are facing even more financial pain over the ill-judged prosecution, with Mr Caton and his mate set to launch a claim for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for assault, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.

“The [police] proceedings should not have been brought,” Magistrate Mark Douglass told Kiama Local Court on Friday, as an inspector from the police force’s Professional Standards Command looked on.

“The prosecutor failed to reasonably investigate relevant matters … which might have suggested that the accused was not guilty.”

The magistrate was referring to the evidence of the third officer present on the night of the arrests – Lucie Litchfield – who said that far from assaulting police as her colleagues had claimed, it was Mr Caton and his mates who had been the victims of aggression.

Ms Lichfield said that when police stopped Mr Caton and his mates in Queanbeyan in late December 2013 and asked if they had any weapons, the local father had cheekily pulled out the toy and declared “I’ve got a dinosaur – roaaaar!”.

She said one of the officers, Senior Constable Todd Finnegan, had subsequently forced Mr Caton from the car, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. Her other police colleague, Senior Constable Patrick Hicks, had then crash-tackled Mr Caton’s friend, Adam Antram into a retaining wall.

What an appalling over-reaction by Police, and good to see them lose big time in court.

Thoughts on Australian deportations of Kiwis

October 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar
  1. Australia has every right to deport non-citizens who commit crimes
  2. The threshold of those who have been sentenced to one or more years in prison doesn’t seem unreasonable
  3. It would be sensible if Australia used some discretion based on the seriousness of the crime, and how long the person has lived in Australia
  4. Ideally the deportation decision and appeal should occur while the person is serving their sentence, so they get deported immediately on release
  5. If there is a gap between the prison sentence and the conclusion of the deportation process, then the person facing deportation should not be held in custody unless there is reason to think they are going to go into hiding
  6. If any potential deportee is held in custody, it should be on mainland Australia. There is no good reason to shift these people off-shore
  7. If you don’t wish to get deported then don’t commit any serious crimes in Australia
  8. If you do wish to stay in Australia and do wish to be a criminal, you should become a citizen first!

I’m on Australia’s side

October 1st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It could soon be time to introduce laws to treat Australians in New Zealand as poorly as Kiwis are received across the Tasman, the Maori Party says.

If this means deporting Australians who do serious crimes, I’m in favour.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully and Prime Minister John Key in New York this week.

Afterwards, she said the Australian Government would talk further about its policy of detaining and deporting non-Australian offenders who have served a prison sentence of a year or more. Ms Bishop said she would ask Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to speak to New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse but gave no indication that the policy would be reviewed. That meeting has not been scheduled.

If Australia was deporting people for incredibly minor offences such as say one shoplifting offence after 30 years of living there, then that would be stupid. But to get a jail sentence of one year or more requires a relatively serious or persistent level of offending, and why would Australia want to keep criminals they don’t want to?

If you are a Kiwi living in Australia and don’t want to be deported back to NZ, then there’s two ways you can do that.

  1. Stop committing crimes
  2. Become an Australian citizen, which you can do after four years in Australia

Tenure of post WWII Australian PMs

September 17th, 2015 at 1:44 pm by David Farrar

Fascinating to look at the length of tenure of Australian PM since WWII:

  1. Robert Menzies 16 years (retired)
  2. Harold Holt 2 years (died)
  3. John Gorton 3 years (rolled)
  4. Billy McMahon 2 years (defeated)
  5. Gough Whitlam 3 years (defeated/sacked)
  6. Malcolm Fraser 8 years (defeated)
  7. Bob Hawke 9 years (rolled)
  8. Paul Keating 4 years (defeated)
  9. John Howard 12 years (defeated)
  10. Kevin Rudd 2.5 years (rolled)
  11. Julia Gillard 3 years (rolled)
  12. Kevin Rudd 0.25 years (defeated)
  13. Tony Abbott 2 years (rolled)

So you had the Menzies era, then a series of short-term PMs. Then from Fraser to Howard you have huge stability, and since Howard no Prime Minister elected at one election has survived until the next!

The Australian Border Force fiasco

August 31st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

IT’S less than two months old but the Australian Border Force became well known for all of the wrong reasons on Friday.

The force had planned to spot check people’s visas on the streets of Melbourne this weekend as part of its Operation Fortitude, but the crackdown was cancelled at the last minute amid angry protests in the Victorian capital.

The furore has left the combined Customs and Immigration unit accused of being “uniformed goons” by one senator and an MP has likened it to a Stalinist operation.

The Australian Border Force (ABF), founded on July 1, had its officers shoved into the spotlight by an overeager press release, which hinted at activities as dark as the organisation’s quasi-military uniforms.

An announcement Friday morning made clear that ABF personnel would patrol the Melbourne CBD with police “speaking with any individuals we cross paths with”.

Visas would be demanded and checked.

And the aim was to “target crime in and around the Melbourne CBD to make the city a safer place for everyone”.

This was startling news for the many who might not have heard of the ABF, except perhaps as the officials who stamp passports at international terminals.

The idea they could roam city streets pulling up and threatening people was deeply disturbing.

“Either the Border Force are doing racial profiling, in which case they should stop it, or they are hassling everyone, and they should stop that as well,” Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said.

“We do not need any more uniformed goons.

“This indicates that the Border Force should be radically downsized and its workers allowed to do something useful for a living.”

Think about how awful this sounded.

You’re walking around the Melbourne CBD and some uniformed officers approach you demanding you can prove you are a citizen or resident of Australia, or have a visa. If you can’t produce proof, bang you are arrested and/or deported.

Think if you’re a Kiwi, and don’t have your passport with you.

They have later said they will only be interacting with people who come to the attention of the Police. But the original release sounded like a bunch of goons marching up and down the streets of Melbourne demanding to see your papers. A huge own goal.

Australia worried about brain drain to NZ

August 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia has a new fear – a brain drain to New Zealand.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has sounded the alarm, warning that an increasing number of Australian residents are moving to New Zealand, including “high net worth” individuals, The Australian reported on Monday.

Hockey has outlined a proposal to cut taxes to make Australia more competitive.

He told ABC  Radio New Zealand’s lower income tax rate was “unquestionably” part of the reason increasing numbers of Australian residents were moving to New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a top personal tax rate of 33 cents in the dollar. We have a top personal tax rate of 45 cents in the dollar, plus two per cent for the Medicare levy, plus two per cent for the temporary budget repair levy – so 49 cents in the dollar.

“Sooner or later people start to move to New Zealand and that’s what’s happening. In fact, in the last 12 months, for the first time in years, there were more people moving to New Zealand than there were New Zealanders moving to Australia.”

Labour and capital is now globally mobile. If you tax either too much, they will move to where they get taxes less. It is not the only factor in the movement of labour and capital – but it definitely plays a role.

CIS says Australia has given up

May 25th, 2015 at 12:15 pm by David Farrar

The Centre for Independent Studies looks at the Australian Budget and isn’t impressed:

In Budget 2015, the government has waved the white flag on attempts to reduce the size of the state. It has given in to the vested interests calling for your tax dollars.

The budget is littered with references to the fairness of paying more tax, and hands out government largesse to the middle class. It is little wonder that government spending is at almost record high levels. Excluding the 2009-10 budget at the height of the GFC, government spending as a percentage of GDP is at its highest level since the recession in the early nineties. Net debt will exceed $300 billion inside two years and gross debt will now peak at nearly $600 billion — and that’s if we are lucky.

The government’s so-called credible path to surplus is built on artificial assumptions of a return of economic good times and rising tax revenue through bracket creep. Spending remains far above the level of the Howard government. It is even above the level of the Gillard / Rudd governments. It is disappointing that those in charge no longer believe in the benefits of small government.

In NZ spending as a % of GDP is dropping. It peaked around 35% and is now around 30%. I think 25% would be a good level to end up at.

Australian Treasurer on NZ economy

May 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey writes:

APPARENTLY preparations are under way across the ditch for a Kiwi ­national “parity party” to ­celebrate when the New Zealand dollar reaches the same value as the Australian dollar.

Now we don’t need a national day of mourning over here, but we do need to look at how New Zealand has been able to put in place structural reforms that will promote ­future growth in their economy.

New Zealand has been busy making the difficult decisions for their future. As a result they have falling unemployment, rising living standards and a Budget that is coming into surplus.

And near zero inflation.

In contrast, Australia has a ­Budget that is still operating on the presumption of a never-ending ­mining boom.

Previous governments locked in spending that didn’t consider that there might be a fall in revenue from declining mining investment and much lower global commodity ­prices.

As a result of falling revenue and ever-increasing expenditure, we are currently spending $100 million a day more than we collect.

NZ took decisions to reduce the deficits, and head back to surplus. If Australia continues to borrow $100 million a day, then the interest on their debt will make it even harder to balance the books one day.

With that money we could build 40 kilometres of new road, or two brand new high schools, every day and in a week, you would get a brand new major teaching hospital. Instead, we are borrowing this money just to pay our day-to-day bills.

The opportunity cost of not getting spending under control.

Australian deficit projected to hit $45 billion

May 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Adelaide Now reports:

AUSTRALIA is facing deficits “as far as the eye can see’’ and next week’s Federal Budget is likely to be $41 billion in the red, respected economic forecasters have predicted.

The 2015-16 budget is likely to include a $41.3 billion deficit — a $14 billion deterioration since the December update, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics to be released on Monday. The underlying cash deficit would be $45.3 billion.

And because of the Senate, the Government can’t get through policy changes to reduce the deficit. It may be a very long time until Australia gets back into surplus.

The great Australian experiment

April 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Austarrivals

It is hard to think of a bigger proven disaster, than that of the Australian Labor Party’s boats policy. People will recall how John Howard’s hardline on asylum seekers arriving by boat with hated by the liberal left in Australia. They demanded an end to it, and when Labor won in 2007, they scrapped it.

You can see above what happened. The scrapping of Howard’s policy saw an exponential growth of people trying to arrive by boat. Not a 100% increase or even 1,000% increase but a 10,000% increase. Before they did a u-turn in 2013, the number had grown from around 10 people a month to 4,000.

But that was not the worst impact of Labor’s policy. It was the death toll. Their policy change may have been well intentioned, but it incentivised desperate people to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to try and get them into Australia onto unsafe boats. The so called humane policy turned out to be a lethal policy.

Austdrownings

When say two or three civilians die in an overseas war zone, some are quick to say the Government is responsible for their deaths. Well what do you can it when a Government policy led to almost 1,200 human beings being killed. And not a quick death, but probably an awful panic stricken event as their boats sink in the middle of an ocean, and they slowly drown or freeze.

Sometimes correlation is not causation, but in this case it clearly is. Note that since the change of Government, there has not been a single drowning at sea, and the level of asylum seekers arriving by boats has fallen by a massive 99%.

Greg Sheridan in The Australian noted:

While Australia will still be one of the most generous societies in the world to refugees, they will arrive in an orderly and lawful manner and be chosen by Australian authorities.

Australia has the highest refugee quota per capita in the world.

The Abbott government will neither confirm nor deny the numbers, but in the past four weeks some five boats have been turned around or towed back towards Indonesia.

Operational secrecy has been central to the success so far.

Operationally, turning boats back is even more effective than transferring people to Manus or Nauru.

The arrival of people in Manus and Nauru often still triggers final payment for the people-smugglers, who continue to tell their customers that people housed on those islands will eventually get to Australia.

Failed illegal arrivals who return to Indonesia, on the other hand, demand their money back and tell everyone they know that the mission was a flop. Even if the boat is sound and the crew competent, they are met by the Australian navy and kept out of Australia.

And so the people smugglers are out of work, and you don’t get hundreds drowning out at sea.

Meanwhile, Australia continues to have, per capita, the largest permanent refugee resettlement program in the world. But these refugees are not self-selected nor chosen by illegal people-smugglers – they are all genuine refugees, and none of them drowns on the way here.

Exactly.

It is a salient reminder that good intentions are not enough. Bad policy can lead to people dying. Promoting biofuels for example led to mass starvations as third world nations changed their land from food production to biofuels. And taking a soft approach on boat arrivals led to an exponential increase in boats, and hundreds drowning at sea.

Stanley

April 16th, 2015 at 4:19 pm by David Farrar

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This is one of the views from the top of The Nut in Stanley. We only popped in there to grab a bite on the way to Smithton, but were very glad we did. They have a chairlift up to the top of The Nut, which is basically a flat mountain. You can then do a two km loop around the top, getting great views in every direction.

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A very tranquil area.

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Can just see some of Stanley below. It is a small 500 population tourist town – a few souvenir shops and cafes.

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The lobster at the Stanley Hotel attracted us in. Very reasonably priced, and very nice for lunch.

 

Cataract Gorge

April 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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A must visit if if the north of Tasmania is Cataract Gorge at Launceston.

It was created around 1899 as a Victorian garden. There are two cafes, a like, outdoor swimming pool, large grass area, and lots of trails and lookouts.

Also a chairlift to take you from one side to the other.

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A view from the far side at the top of the Inclinator.

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There’s around 20 peacocks all around the main cafe. They literally walk around the tables, hoping for food.

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And in one of the playgrounds, you can see wallabies.

They have walks ranging from 5 minutes to 90 minutes to various dams and bridges. Liked it so much, we went there twice.