33 days to go

August 5th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A prime minister you can trust, or an opposition leader who’s fair dinkum.

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have kicked off their September 7 election campaigns by making personal appeals to Australia’s 14  million registered voters.

Rudd made his pre-election pitch in the same prime minister’s courtyard at Parliament House were three years ago he tearfully stepped down.

He made it clear this election is about unfinished business.Borrowing a line from former Liberal prime minister John Howard,  Rudd asked voters ‘‘who do you trust’’ to deal with the challenges presented by a faltering global economy.

He portrayed himself as the election underdog with a ‘‘steady  hand’’ and a positive plan for the future.

In contrast, he said Abbott was negative, immersed in ‘‘old politics’’ and three-word slogans.

Rudd also blatantly borrowed from US President Barack Obama by appealing to supporters to donate a few dollars to Labor to counter  the ‘‘few millionaires’’ bankrolling the Liberal-National coalition.

Making his pitch surrounded by portraits of past Liberal leaders in the opposition party room, Abbott kept to the script he’s been spruiking for three years.

He harked back to the ‘‘faceless men’’ who ousted Rudd in 2010, then turned on Julia Gillard this year, contrasting it to his stable leadership and team.

‘‘It’s really about who is more fair dinkum. Who can you rely on to build a better future?’’ Abbott said.

The national polls will be interesting, but more interesting will be the polls in marginal seats – especially those with retiring Labor MPs. Labor could tie with the Coalition on nationwide vote but still lose enough seats to lose office.

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The Australian economy

May 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent set to rise with more job losses in manufacturing sector Ford’s decision to shut down its production lines in Australia at the cost of thousands of jobs across the automotive industry has dealt another heavy blow to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ailing minority Government.

Although Ford’s exit has long been expected after 20 years of declining fortunes for the industry, the disappearance of its iconic Falcon is not only a heavy blow to the national psyche but will also further undermine voter perceptions of Labor’s economic credentials.

Ford’s announcement comes a week after a federal budget marked by major spending cuts and expectations of continued deficits, driving down consumer confidence and placing employment squarely in the spotlight for the September 14 election.

Luke Malpass wrote at Stuff how Australia is not living within its means:

A regular question in New Zealand and Australia is whether our respective nations succeed because of, or in spite of, our politicians.

As both nations’ Budgets were read this week, it was a story of two countries that have faced a vastly different set of circumstances over the past five years, and the choices both have made in light of that.

In 2008, Australia had a mining boom, rising wages and no debt. Its government had delivered consistent surpluses, tax cuts and targeted cash payments to targeted voter groups. Growth was assumed and household wealth doubled during the Howard years. It even avoided recession.

In contrast, New Zealand was lurching into debt, had a collapsed non- bank finance sector, a tradeables sector that had been squeezed for several years, a real recession in advance of the global recession, and a structural deficit

So when Finance Minister Bill English announced last Thursday that New Zealand is on track to record a budget surplus (albeit tiny) in 2014-15, it stood in stark contrast to Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan announcing his sixth budget deficit.

Unfortunately for Mr Swan, he had been promising a surplus for 2013 since 2009, and last year he announced “four years of surpluses” to begin this year. So his staggering A$19.4 billion deficit, with years of deficits ahead, was quite incomprehensible.

And recall how certain parties attacked every single act of spending restraint done by the Government over the last four and a half years.

Since Mr Swan has taken over as treasurer, tax revenue has increased by roughly the equivalent of New Zealand’s entire budget. Unfortunately, he and prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard spent all of the increase plus some, and are miffed because revenue did not increase at an even higher rate.

Yep. While NZ Labour’s plan are to bring in some new taxes, and hike spending.

Budgets are ultimately about choices. The Australian Government chose to run it close to the wind, increasing spending by as much as the most optimistic revenue forecasts would allow.

New Zealand made a very different and far more difficult set of choices. In 2008 the issues were obvious: productivity growth was poor, taxes too high – particularly at a relatively modest level of income – and the tax system had little internal integrity.

Government was chomping its way through far too much of the national pie, crowding out private sector activity.

One important thing the New Zealand Government has done is tamp down expectations of spending increases, concentrating on core activities and not using government as a vehicle to give handouts to partisan coalitions of voter groups.

In fact much of the extra spending by National has gone in areas where there are not high pressure lobby groups demanding more money for themselves, but in areas that will promote economic growth such as tourism and science.

But there are still worrying signs. Both New Zealand and Australia have superannuation burdens set to grow immensely, and health and welfare spending continues to outstrip the ability of society to pay in the long term.

Yep. They will be the big challenges for the future.

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The “right wing agenda”

May 23rd, 2013 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran exposes at Red Alert the right wing agenda. It seems to be:

  1. Tony Abbott spoke at the 70th anniversary of the Institute of Public Affairs
  2. Tony Abbott is advised by Crosby Textor
  3. The NZ National Party is also advised by Crosby Textor
  4. Hence the NZ National Party plans to implement the policy agenda of the institute of Public Affairs

Clare goes on to list some of the policies that may find their way into National’s policy agenda here, which she disagrees with. They include:

  • Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
  • Introduce a special economic zone for northern Australia
  • Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
  • Cease funding the Australia Network
  • Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
  • Privatise the CSIRO and the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
  • Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
  • Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

I’m pretty sure we won’t see any of the above implemented in New Zealand. Well, we could try to implement them but Australia may not take too kindly to us passing laws on their behalf.

There is one policy Clare agrees with:

Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database

That’s good to see, as I’ve been pushing this for some time. I would have thought Clare also supports:

Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship

As it happens I think many (not all) of the IPA’s policies are very laudable and sensible. Ones I especially like are:

  • Means-test Medicare
  • Abolish the Baby Bonus
  • Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
  • Repeal the alcopops tax
  • Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
  • Introduce a single rate of income tax
  • Return income taxing powers to the states
  • Cut company tax to 25 per cent
  • Cease subsidising the car industry
  • Privatise Australia Post, Medibank and SBS
  • Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
  • Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
  • Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
  • Repeal the mining tax
  • Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
  • Means test tertiary student loans
  • Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
  • Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
  • Rule out government-supported or mandated internet censorship
  • End public funding to political parties
  • Introduce voluntary voting
  • Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a % of GDP
  • Legislate a balanced budget amendment which limits the size of budget deficits and the period the government can be in deficit
  • Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
  • Remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
  • Deregulate the parallel importation of books
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$43 billion of cuts in Australian Budget

May 15th, 2013 at 7:56 am by David Farrar

As I’ve previously blogged, the Australian Government have been unable to get a path back to surplus, despite the mining boon and previously strong economic growth.

So yesterday’s Budget saw $43 billion of spending cuts and tax increases on the back of a $13 billion deficit for the upcoming year. This is what happens when you let spending get out of control.

Some of the major announcements:

  • Scrapping family tax benefits and bonuses $4.9b
  • A 15% surtax on super fund earnings over $100,000 a year

It will be interesting to compare and contrast the NZ and Australian budgets on Thursday.

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NZ vs Australia

May 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Luke Malpass writes in the Australian Financial Review:

How exactly is it that New Zealand – a country that went into recession in early 2008, had a collapsed non-bank finance sector, didn’t have a mining boom, has a historically high dollar and had its second biggest city basically levelled by an earthquake – is on track to record a budget surplus as scheduled and on time in 2014-15? This question raises a second one: why is Australia not in this position?

I think we don’t give enough credit to the Government for the very challenging task they have had, where they had to both have an expansionary fiscal policy during the depths of the global recession, but also impose spending restraint so that the projected structural deficit would have a path towards becoming a surplus.

Australia has shown how easy it is to blow a projected surplus.

The odd thing about this is that Swan and his government perpetually cast themselves as victims: of a global downturn and an unappreciative public.

But in fact, a look across the Tasman shows Swan and Labor are victims only of their own appalling policy choices. Overall Kiwi growth is at about 3 per cent – NZ grew 1.5 per cent last quarter alone. Unemployment and welfare numbers are dropping, virtually every export sector, including manufacturing has been growing. Businesses everywhere are complaining they can’t get skilled labour.

The growth in Australia is hugely variable. Western Australia has been growing faster than China. Queensland has had strong growth. But the larger states of Victoria and New South Wales were actually contracting for a while.

The Gillard government is now in the ridiculous situation that despite revenue increases since 2010, historically high terms of trade, and relatively low unemployment, any surplus has been shunted away into the future. Comparatively, New Zealand, despite relatively poor growth until recently, no mining boom and an enormous earthquake, will complete a bigger surplus than expected, earlier than forecast.

Go New Zealand!

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NZD vs AUD

April 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony Alexander from BNZ writes:

Against the Australian currency the NZD has risen firmly in recent weeks and now sits at its highest level since October 2009. This movement upward from 80 cents a month ago is based upon a number of things. …

Third, the fiscal track in NZ is surprising on the positive side with revenue inflows running ahead of expectations this year. In contrast in Australia the Treasurer Wayne Swan has had to make a very embarrassing climb-down from his position that fiscal surplus would be achieved in 2013/14 no matter what. Now he speaks in terms of a surplus not appearing for many years. Commentators are noting that a Federal Labour government in Australia has not produced a surplus since 1989, there is growing criticism of the never-ending spending promises being made, and this week Standard and Poors warned that they could cut Australia’s rating in five years’ time.

That is a fascinating statistic. No surplus since 1989.

Fourth, Australia’s currency is more strongly assessed as being tied to growth prospects in China than the NZD.

Fifth, as China grows the expectation is that NZ will benefit more than Australia from here on out because of strong food demand compared with past strong demand for coal and iron ore.

Hopefully the demand will hold up. As unemployment in Spain hits 27%, Europe is going to remain a basket case for some time.

 

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No wonder the ACTU is worried

April 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

THE Australian labour movement will wage a pre-emptive strike against the federal opposition as the election nears, ACTU boss Ged Kearney says.

This means spend a shitload of money. They’ll need to as the latest poll projects 109 seats for the Coalition and just 36 for Labor.

In a candid address to a NSW Teacher’s Federation conference in Sydney on Saturday, Ms Kearney indicated the ACTU was bracing for a coalition win on September 14 and a royal commission into union corruption.

That could be devastating for them.

“The royal commission is coming – because of the HSU, because of the whole slush fund stuff, they will come at us with lawyers and barristers and queen’s counsels and they will try to send us broke,” she said.

They should welcome a Royal Commission to clean their mess up.

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The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was John Howard, one of Australia’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was Helen Clark, the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible Tony Abbott government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

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An Australian election calculator

March 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Antony Green has launched his 2013 election calculator. Antony is the premier election analyst in Australia.

It makes predictions for all 150 seats on the basis of either the swing or two party preferred vote. But it has some additional nifty features.

  • Can select the results from a recent poll
  • Can set individual swings for each state (and swings do not tend to be uniform across the country)
  • Can factor in retiring MPs
  • Can over-ride the projected result in a few marginal seats

On the latest (Neilsen) poll Labor is projected to lose 25 seats and win 47 while the Coalition is projected to gain 25 seats and win 98.

On the best poll to date for the Coalition, they would win 110 seats to 35 for Labor.

One can see why some of the Labor MP are thinking the unthinkable and Rudd may challenge again.

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Labor punished in Western Australia

March 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Normally Oppositions gain seats and Governments lose seats in elections. Not so in yesterday’s Western Australia election.

Of 59 seats, the 2008 election resulted in the Liberals had 24 seats, their partners in the Nationals had 4 seats, Labor had 28 seats and there were three Independents. The Liberals won the two-party preferred vote by 51.8% to 48.2%. So it was a Liberal minority government.

The Liberals have had an 8.8% increase in their primary vote and are projected to go from 24 seats to 33, making them a majority Government. The Nationals picked up one seat also so combined they will have 40 out of 59 seats – a two thirds majority. Labor have been slaughtered going from 28 to 19 seats. Such a slaughter is not unheard of for an incumbent Government (like in Queensland) but is even rarer for an opposition.

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Madness takes many forms

March 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports:

Next week Daniel Nalliah will be taking his crusade against Muslim immigration and multiculturalism to the Australian Islamic Peace Conference at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

In the meantime he will be plugging democracy and the nation’s “Judeo-Christian heritage”, protecting the nuclear family, urging the pruning of big government and pushing for tax to be cut to the barest possible minimums.

Nalliah, a Sri Lankan-born fire and brimstone preacher who claims to have resurrected three people and to have been instructed to head down under by Jesus, is the leader of the nation’s newest political party.

Just another charlatan and mad fraudster.

He claimed Victoria’s disastrous Black Saturday fires was a retribution for the passage of new abortion laws, and lambasted Prime Minister Julia Gillard for “living in sin”

Yes Gillard should remain a virgin, as she is unmarried.

During the launch Nalliah called for the end of a multicultural Australia, a reduction in the intake of Muslim immigrants, and the defence of Judeo-Christian culture.

He is from Sir Lanka himself. I’d say if they are to reduce immigration, they should have started with him.

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The battle for West Sydney

March 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley reports at NZ Herald:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is spending much of this week in western Sydney, trying to win back support in the vast suburbs of two million people that could destroy her Government in September. …

Chifley is one of Gillard’s key battlegrounds: it recorded an 11.6 per cent swing against Labor in 2010, and is now among a series of former blue-ribbon Labor seats under real threat of falling to the Opposition on September 14.

If polling is accurate, an exodus of voters across western Sydney could alone be sufficient to bring down the Government.

Losing West Sydney is like losing West Auckland for NZ Labour. They have nine seats at risk in Sydney, and they really can’t afford to lose any seats. They have 71 seats in Parliament and the Coalition has 72. They only remain in power through the Independents anyway.

What voters are making abundantly clear is that, at this stage at least, anything is better than Gillard: Abbott may also be heartily disliked, but a rush from Labor in the opinion polls points to a landslide for the Coalition..

The latest Morgan poll, reflecting recent findings by Newspoll and Nielsen, said the Opposition held a crushing 9 per cent lead in the two-party preferred vote that determines Australian elections.

New allegations about the depth of corruption involving former Labor ministers, rolling out daily from hearings at the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, continue to stain the party brand.

The level of corruption in Australian unions and Australian Labor is staggering. We have nothing like it (so far) in NZ. The Coalition have promised a judicial inquiry into union corruption if it wins the election.

News.com.au has a poll of 11 electorates in West Sydney:

If given the choice of four prime ministers, 39.2 per cent of voters would choose Mr Abbott, followed by Mr Rudd at 26 per cent, Malcolm Turnbull at 22.1 per cent, and Ms Gillard at just 13.2 per cent.

It is rare for an Opposition Leader to be ahead of an incumbent Prime Minister as Preferred PM. To be ahead in a Labour stronghold is even rarer.

If you add the two Liberals up they have 61% support and the two Labor contenders have 39%.

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Thoughts on the asylum seekers deal with Australia

February 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A few thoughts:

  • Isn’t it amusing that when Helen Clark agreed to take some boat people who were seeking asylum in Australia she was lauded by the entire left for her humanitarian gesture yet when John Key agrees to do much the same, but annually, he is condemned by the exact same people. And yes, the Tampa refugees were treated as part of the quota also.
  • How can one criticize this deal for encouraging queue-jumping yet also advocate that Australia should resume onshore processing which has been shown to massively encourage boat voyages and queue jumping.
  • Personally I think there is a legitimate criticism that this deal may encourage queue-jumping, but probably not significantly enough to actually lead to a group of people deciding to make a boat voyage they otherwise would not have.
  • There is a surprising lack of sophistication in understanding our relationship with Australia is not purely a transactional one. The decision by the NZ Government helps Julia Gillard (and any successor)  in what is arguably her most difficult domestic issue. That will not be forgotten.
  • The notion that Australia bullied NZ into this is ridiculous. In fact as reported it was a NZ initiative
  • What is surprising is the lack of focus on a centre-right NZ PM helping out a centre-left Australian PM. It’s a nice example of not letting domestic politics interfere with having a strong relationship.
  • I’m surprised also no one has cottoned on to Gillard making an unprecedented early announcement of the election date, almost certainly being because Key the same thing in 2011.
  • Personally I think taking in refugees is one of the better things a country can do, so long as they are able to integrate well into their new country and that the level is sustainable. Note that Australia takes in 20,000 to our 750. I’d like that to increase at some stage in the future when our economy is stronger. But I think it is best increased through the UNHCR process, not through increasing the number in the bilateral agreement with Australia
  • You have to love Labour’s strong clear policy on this issue. They are outraged of course, but when asked what they would do, the answer is “Shearer said if elected, Labour would discuss the policy with Australia.” – you can’t make this stuff up.
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The Aus-NZ agreements

February 10th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Quite a few things announced by Gillard and Key in Queenstown. They are:

  • Joint action to address the high cost of mobile roaming rates between the two countries
  • an $8 million trial of fast‑track automated border technology for trans-tasman travel
  • Commencement of new retirement savings portability arrangements between Australia and New Zealand from 1 July 2013
  • Entry into force of the CER Investment Protocol from 1 March 2013
  • New Zealand has agreed to resettle 150 refugees who are subject to Australia’s offshore processing legislation, as part of their annual quota of 750 refugees
  • NZ$3 million in matched funding over two years to support trans-Tasman collaboration to identify potential vaccines for rheumatic fever
  • Investigate a possible reciprocal student debt recovery scheme.
  • An A$5 million memorial will be erected in Wellington’s National War Memorial park precinct by the Australian Government

 

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10 reasons NZ is better than Australia

February 7th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes in The Press ten reasons why he thinks NZ is better than Australia:

  1. We’re more friendly
  2. Small is beautiful
  3. Our houses are cheaper
  4. Our food and drink is better
  5. We love our indigenous culture
  6.  We’re not so uptight
  7. We’re more entrepreneurial
  8. There’s fewer things that can hurt or kill you
  9. Our TV’s better
  10. The weather

I’m sure there will be a variety of views on this one!

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Australian election date announced

January 31st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

THE issue of trust and economic management will emerge as the ultimate background areas in a super 10-month campaign that will leave no excuses for flimsy promises and plenty of time to trip, experts say.

And with both leaders painting the other as untrustworthy, voters should be prepared for the “liar” verses the “misogynist’.

Economic management, boats and the carbon tax will all feature heavily in the lead up to September 14, but political pundits say the overarching issue will be trust.

“The unpopularity of the two leaders will be the main talking point because most people will agree, both the leaders are very unpopular,” veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras said.

“I think it will be a nasty campaign.”

The broken carbon tax promise and inability to deliver a budget surplus was widely perceived to have left Labor’s reputation and economic policy in tatters, he said.

“They have established a general trust which the Labor party have failed to establish,” he said.

Sadly I think he is right, and it will be a pretty nasty campaign.

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The Australian heatwave

January 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

news.com.au reports:

Monday remains the hottest day since records began with an average maximum temperature across Australia of 40.33 degrees, beating the previous record of 40.17 degrees set in 1972, the Bureau of Meteorology’s David Jones told AAP.

And in one place:

The hottest place was Oodnadatta in South Australia 48.2 degree but temperatures well into the 40s were also recorded in South Australia, Western Australia, NSW and Queensland.

And at Bondi Beach, it was still 35 degrees at midnight, leading many to a midnight swim.

I like temperatures in the high 20s. I find that great. Low 30s can be okay but high 30s and even 40s is just plain nasty unless you are in water!

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Australia on ANZUS

January 1st, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Greg Ansley at NZ Herald reports on some interesting Australian views during the US and NZ stand off on nuclear ships.

“Several Nato and Asean countries have said to us that, while disturbed by New Zealand’s policies, they regard the Americans as having over-reacted and as running the risk of creating a ‘laager’ mentality in New Zealand,” it said.

This is basically correct. The NZ policy was wrong, yet the US reaction was over the top.

Canberra did not accept New Zealand’s belief that it was not affected by a global superpower threat and that regional security did not require a nuclear capability.

With more than 40 per cent of its combat ships nuclear-powered – and “almost all would assuredly be nuclear-capable” – the US could not be expected to maintain two navies, one for global security and another for regional stability.

A fair view.

The Cabinet was reminded that the (former) Soviet Union was trying to gain a foothold in the Pacific and had turned New Zealand’s policies to its propaganda advantage.

The USSR was delighted by the anti-nuclear policy. It weakened the western alliance, and gave them hope the West would crumble. As it turned out, it was the USSR which crumbled as it was unable to keep pace with the West.

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The trans-Tasman productivity report

December 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The recommendations from the joint report by the Australian and NZ productivity commissions are here. Some of the more significant ones are:

  • Mutual recognition of imputation credits (MRIC) would be expected to result in a more integrated capital market and improve trans-Tasman economic efficiency.
  • The prerequisite conditions for a trans-Tasman monetary union do not exist.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should proceed with the implementation of a single application and examination process for patents.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should waive CER Rules of Origin for all items for which Australia’s and New Zealand’s Most Favoured Nation tariffs are at 5 percent or less and  consider reducing any tariffs that exceed 5 percent to that level.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should remove the remaining restrictions on the single trans-Tasman aviation market.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should consider removing remaining restrictions on trans-Tasman foreign direct investment.
  • The Australian and New Zealand Governments should consider a ‘trans-Tasman tourist visa’ for citizens from other relevant countries who wish to travel to both countries.
  • The Australian Government should address the issues faced by a small but growing number of non-Protected Special Category Visa holders living long term in Australia, including their access to certain welfare supports and voting rights.

Many good proposals there.

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Australian excitement

December 10th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

7 News reported:

A record number of New Zealanders are arriving in Australia, and thousands are doing it thanks to cash handouts from their own Government.

Umm, not thousands. Six people.

The outrageous unemployment policy is turning Australia into a dumping ground for the out-of-work Kiwis.

Yes those six extra Kiwis last year have grown the Australian population by 0.000027%. How will they cope.

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Australia objects to 129 new TLDs

November 23rd, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia’s government is lodging more warnings than any other government in the world against top level domain name applications, reinforcing its reputation as an over-regulator of the internet.

Out of 243 “early warnings” against domain applications, the Australian government lodged 129 - more than half.

The period of evaluation for applications for top-level domains began after Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the new generic category in June.

Most of the objections are against generic terms, such as .food, .tennis or .books, where giving one company exclusive use of the domain would “exclude potential competitors” and allow that company to dominate the market.

129 objections is ridicolous. The Australian Govt is often regulation heavy when it comes to the Internet. Having said that there are legitimate issues with some applications such as do you let Amazon get .books which is a generic term?

Having said that, I note Amazon got famous as amazon.com and I don’t even know if there is a site called books.com – so a name is not as important as what you do with it.

However, the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) also objected to domains ending in fail, gripe, sucks and wtf (short for what the f–k?) because they are “overtly negative or critical connotation’. The government is concerned these domains could be used to damage individuals or organisations, for example www.labor.sucks or www.liberal.sucks, and force organisations into buying the website to avoid embarrassment.

Now that is just silly. People could get liberalsucks.com at the moment anyway.

Australia has a history of strict internet naming regulations, according Ms Carlsson. It is one of the only countries will only allow someone to purchase a .com.au domain if the name relates to their trading name, for example. In recent years Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has been criticised for his proposal to introduce an internet filter.

By contrast co.nz has no restrictions on who can register there.

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Australian Growth

August 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Just been going through the GSP growth for the various Australian states. The data tells a real story of two Australias. The data I am using is seasonally adjusted state final demand, which is similar to our GDP or economic growth.

  • Western Australia 14.5%
  • Queensland 7.5%
  • Victoria 2.7%
  • South Australia 2.3%
  • NSW 1.9%
  • Tasmania -0.8

It would be worth remembering those massive differences when certain politicians bemoan the fact Australia’s growth is higher overall than in NZ, yet oppose New Zealand undertaking the activities that are fuelling the boom in WA and Queensland.

 

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Australian Super

July 4th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One News reports:

 Thousands of New Zealanders with retirement savings stuck in Australia face an even longer wait to bring their money back home. 

The Australian Government is yet to pass legislation allowing Kiwis who have worked across the ditch to access money saved under their compulsory superannuation scheme in New Zealand.

This is despite the New Zealand and Australian government signing a reciprocal superannuation agreement three years ago.

Returned ex-pat David Buckingham has been fighting politicians from both sides of the Tasman to access his superannuation funds. 

He said his funds are being eaten up by fees and wants to see the money put toward supporting his young family. 

“I’ve got a lot of super sitting in Australia and I worked hard over there and 9% of my income went into these funds,” he said. 

The Australian Superannuation scheme has been compulsory for the last 20 years, meaning any New Zealander who has worked there since the early 1990s is likely eligible for a pay-out.  

More than $16 billion of retirement savings are locked up in so-called lost super accounts in Australia, and a fair chunk of it belongs to Kiwis.

Finance Minister Bill English remains confident the Australian Government will pass the legislation next year, nearly four years after New Zealand passed similar legislation.

“There’s a lot of Kiwis who have actually got quite large superannuation balance and their ability to bring them back to New Zealand might make it more likely they will come back,” he said.

Ever since the Paul Keating days, I’ve never entirely trusted Australian Governments. Hopefully they will legislate as promised, but the delay is suspicious.

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Throwing out a policy that worked

June 27th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This graphic is from Andrew Bolt. It shows that the Howard Govt policy on deterring boat people was a stunning success, and the Labor Government’s changes entirely coincide with a massive explosion in boat people numbers. So when they drown at sea, it is because the previous policy of deterrence was dispensed with.

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Now job growth is a bad thing

April 19th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I thing politics has got to a farcical level when the Opposition complain about jobs moving from Australia to New Zealand. The SMH reports:

HUNDREDS of Australian jobs have been shifted to New Zealand as local producers try to avoid the impact of high wages, a soaring Australian dollar and restrictive labour laws.

Woolworths is the latest to transfer jobs across the Tasman. It transferred 40 contact centre jobs to Auckland this week. Imperial Tobacco has also announced it will move cigarette manufacturing from Sydney to New Zealand.

The companies are following in the footsteps of the food production industry, which has been shifting jobs out of Australia to take advantage of New Zealand’s lower wages.

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Heinz Australia recently scrapped more than 300 jobs across three states in favour of its large plant in Hastings, New Zealand’s largest food processing and food producing centre.

The International Labour Organisation says Australian manufacturing workers earned more than $US35 an hour in 2008. In New Zealand the rate is under $US20 an hour.

Average weekly earnings for manufacturing workers in Australia are higher than those in Canada, Britain, New Zealand and the United States, says a study which put Australian earnings at more than $1000 a week, versus about $700 in NZ.

Now Labour for four years has gone on about jobs. It has said that the number one priority must be more jobs. If you try to discuss welfare reform, they say “what about the jobs”. No matter what the issue, they say “what about the jobs”.

So what do they say to jobs moving from Australia to New Zealand:

“Labour does not want New Zealand to become Australia’s Mexico, yet with lower value jobs such as making cigarettes that is exactly what is happening.

“Bill English has been misdirecting his energy on praising the advantages of low wages to attract Australian jobs rather than coming up with real ideas to grow the economy.

“There are record numbers of Kiwis leaving for Australia. They are not going so they can work in call centres or cigarette-making factories,” David Parker said.

This is just bullshit elitism, that must be unique to the Wellington beltway. Go out to a provincial town with high unemployment and tell them that a job in a call centre is not worth having, and they should remain on welfare.

Anyone who buys into this sort of bullshit is seriously out of touch with reality, and reflects more their elitist views.

They are also economically ignorant also. If you argue against Australian companies creating jobs in New Zealand because our wages are lower, you don’t understand the basics of supply and demand. Remember it is the market which broadly sets wages – not Goverments.

Now if you have more jobs created in New Zealand, it increases the supply of jobs. What does increasing the supply do? It pushes wages up. Just as when the supply of jobs diminishes, then wages drop or at least do not increase in real terms.

Next time Labour complains about unemployment, remember how they think some jobs are not worth having. They’d rather people be on welfare than working in call centres.

As for closing the wage gap with Australia. There is only one sustainable way to do that – greater productivity including labour productivity. The very thing that Labour is fighting against at the Ports of Auckland, where the union is striking rather than accepting a 10% pay increase in return for greater labour productivity.

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