Archive for: August, 2019

Swan warns over ‘international storm clouds’

Aug 30 2019 Published by under 苏州半永久

The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute monthly inflation gauge for November released yesterday ose by a further 0.

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3 per cent for an annual rate of 3.4 per cent, well above the Reserve Bank's two to three per cent target range.

Mr Swan says he is adamant Labor's election promises would be implemented – including $31 billion in tax cuts – despite concerns public spending was fuelling inflation.

Dealing with inflation ‘a priority’

“Dealing with inflationary pressures in the economy is our number one priority,” he told ABC television.

“But we can also meet our election commitments because expanding the productive capacity of the economy is very important … in terms of the fight against inflation.”

Labor's agenda of lifting workplace participation, investing in skills and removing infrastructure bottlenecks would all help put downward pressure on inflation, he says.

‘Discipline’

“But over and above that, strict budget discipline is very important.”

Mr Swan says he took inflation warnings very seriously and was determined to find further savings in government spending.

“We are very serious – very serious indeed – about strict budget discipline, and that does mean making savings in the budgetary process and it also means redirecting some of those savings to vital expenditure which lifts the productive capacity of the economy,” he says.

RBA meets today

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is widely tipped to keep official interest rates steady after today's final board meeting of the year.

But economists say homebuyers should be prepared for another increase when the RBA board next meets in February with little sign of inflation pressures being curbed as yet.

The central bank raised its official cash rate to 6.75 per cent last month, the second increase this year and 10th since 2002.

Optimistic despite international pressures

Mr Swan acknowledged “international storm clouds” were a possibility on the economic horizon, but says he is optimistic about Australia's outlook.

“We've got to do as much as we possibly can to make this economy as productive as it can be to insulate ourselves from the fallout of what occurs internationally,” he says.

Commercial banks continue to threaten to independently raise their mortgage rates because of their own higher borrowing costs on world markets due to the lingering fallout from the collapse of the US subprime mortgage market earlier this year.

Whether that increase is passed on to clients is up to the individual distributors.

‘Re-engagement’

Mr Swan pledged to involve Treasury more closely in policy areas such as education, skills, infrastructure and federal-state reform.

“It would be, I think, true to say that they haven't been as listened to in recent years as they should be,” he says.

“The Treasury has been locked out of the process. I think it's very important that they get re-engaged.”

The treasurer also warned banks against using the US sub-prime mortgage crisis as an excuse to lift interest rates in the absence of an official increase.

Urges banks to be cautious

“I would urge all of the banks to take great care and great caution. Because there have been six interest rate rises on the trot a lot of people out there are (under) financial pressure,” Mr

Swan says.

“I would urge all of our banks to think very long and very hard before they (go) putting up rates.”

Mr Swan says he will attend the Bali climate conference for talks on the economic impact of global warming.

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Thousands expected at Banton's state funeral

Aug 30 2019 Published by under 苏州半永久

Thousands of people are expected to honour the life and accomplishments of Bernie Banton when he is farewelled at a state funeral at Sydney's 21,000 seat Acer Arena, at Olympic Park today.

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Flags will be at half mast on all NSW government buildings today to mark the passing of the campaigner, who took on corporate giant James Hardie to win compensation for asbestos disease sufferers.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma said flags will be flown at half mast in a sign of respect usually reserved for those who have held public office.

“As a mark of respect the Australian flag and the NSW State flag will be flown at half mast on all NSW government buildings and establishments all day on Wednesday,” Mr Iemma said.

Mr Banton already suffered asbestosis when he was diagnosed in August with peritoneal mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, and died surrounded by his family in Sydney last Tuesday.

He contracted his asbestos-related diseases while working in a James Hardie factory in western Sydney for six years in the 1960s and 70s.

Of Mr Banton's 137 workmates at the plant at the time, only a handful are still alive.

Mr Banton campaigned successfully to force the company to pay compensation to thousands of Australian workers and their families.

Five days before his death, James Hardie agreed to a confidential payout to settle Mr Banton's second compensation claim against the company.

Three weeks before his death, in the middle of the federal election campaign, Mr Banton won his fight to have the expensive palliative drug Alimta subsidised by the government.

And just a day after his death, construction started on a $12 million facility to fight asbestos diseases at Sydney's Concord Hospital. It is named in his honour.

Tomorrow's funeral begins at 10.30am (AEDT).

RailCorp will put on extra train services from Lidcombe to Sydney Olympic Park between 9am (AEDT) and 2pm.

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Aussies slipping against OECD students

Aug 30 2019 Published by under 苏州半永久

The study, which examined the classroom performance of 400,000 15-year-old students in OECD nations between July and September this year, showed the Australians performed above the OECD average but have slipped in two of three main academic areas.

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The results were dragged down by poor performances by indigenous students and those from a low socio-economic background, Fairfax newspapers reported today.

Students' reading, mathematic and scientific literacy were tested in the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment, released yesterday.

Only Finland, Hong Kong and Canada significantly outperformed Australia.

Australian students improved their ranking in scientific literacy, rising from fifth place in the last survey to fourth.

But their comparative reading ability declined, with Australian students in sixth place for reading literacy levels, down from second in 2000 and third in 2003.

Victoria was the worst performing mainland state. Its results were above the OECD average, but it ranked sixth in the country in each of the three test areas, beating only Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

“Something is happening in Victoria that's making Victoria perform at a lower level than NSW,” Geoff Masters, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Educational Research, told Fairfax.

“It's probably not starting age or the year that they transfer from primary to secondary school.

“The question we should be asking is: Is it something to do with the quality of teaching? Maybe not. Is it something to do with the curriculum? We don't know

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Economy 'at full stretch'

Aug 30 2019 Published by under 苏州半永久

Economists warn the national accounts data due to be released today will show Australia's economy is too strong for its own good.

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The September quarter national accounts, containing the all important gross domestic product (GDP) reading, will be released just hours after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announces if it has decided to lift interest rates.

Economists expect GDP accelerated 1.0 per cent in the three months to September, lifting the annual rate to a racy 4.8 per cent.

But it is widely forecast that the RBA will hold off any decision on rates until February.

Access Economics director Chris Richardson says the national accounts are the most comprehensive measure of how the Australian economy is going.

“It will give us essentially the good news that the Australian economy is growing fast, that we've been been picking up for a while and even though the drought remains a rotten one, the Australian economy is growing at speed,” he told ABC Radio.

But Mr Richardson warned the economy could be growing too fast.

“We have a problem of too much success at the moment – too much demand chasing around the Australian economy … our problem now is we are already at full stretch.”

Westpac senior economist Anthony Thompson agrees.

“We're expecting growth of 1.0 per cent for the quarter – that'd give you an annual rate getting close to five per cent now and that's clearly in our view beyond the long term speed limits of growth for our economy before you ignite inflation figures,” he told ABC Radio.

Dr Shane Oliver from AMP Capital Investors said there were other concerns too.

“Also just as worryingly the trade imbalance – in other words the gap between imports and exports – is running at about the worst it's ever been,” he told ABC radio.

Dr Oliver said the new Australian government should put its focus on tightening fiscal policy.

“I think the most important thing the new government can do on fiscal policy is look for savings,” he said.

“Obviously the government will be keen to fulfill their election promises but if they can find savings to reduce the amount of fiscal stimulus going into the economy, I think that would take a lot of pressure of the Reserve Bank.”

Labor's promised $31 billion in tax cuts should also be dumped, he said.

“In an ideal world it would be great not to have the tax cuts coming through but I think that we all realise that this is not an ideal world.”

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RBA leaves rates unchanged

Aug 30 2019 Published by under 苏州半永久

The central bank's board met for the last time this year today to discuss monetary policy.

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It announced today that the cash rate would remain unchanged at 6.75 per cent.

The decision was widely expected.

Financial market economists predict the bank won't move again until next year, perhaps as early as February following the release of the next set of quarterly inflation figures.

In a statement accompanying the bank's decision today, governor Glenn Stevens said inflation remained a concern.

“The board remains concerned about the outlook for inflation,” he said.

“But given the heightened uncertainty about the international outlook and the local trends in wholesale borrowing costs, both of which could have a bearing on inflation over the medium term, it judged that the current stance of monetary policy should be maintained for the time being.”

This is the first time the central bank has released a statement explaining its reasoning when it has left rates unchanged.

Mr Stevens said the decision to release a statement today was part of a move by the Reserve Bank to be more transparent.

“As part of wider changes to communication practices which the board has adopted, it was further decided that a statement explaining the decision would be released,” he said.

Mr Stevens said also that recent data continued to indicate strength in demand and output in Australia, with the economy having little surplus capacity.

He said the annualised rate of inflation, as measured by the consumer price index and underlying measures, was likely to be above three per cent in the first half of 2008, and to decline somewhat thereafter.

The outlook was in line with the bank's last quarterly statement on monetary policy released in November.

“Sentiment in global credit markets has deteriorated recently after an earlier improvement and prospects for growth in the major economies appear to be weakening. It is unclear to what extent that will affect Asia, where conditions at this point look quite strong,” Mr Stevens said.

“But overall, it now appears likely that global growth will be closer to trend in 2008, after several years of above trend growth.

“High prices for food, energy and natural resources, however, continue to pose a significant risk to inflation around the world.”

He said that in Australia, the pressures arising from the global financial market turmoil have been less pronounced.

The flow of credit to “sound” borrowers did not appear to have been impaired.

“Nonetheless borrowing costs have risen appreciably since mid year, particularly for business borrowers, as a result both of changes in monetary policy and market-driven increases in funding costs for intermediaries,” Mr Stevens added.

“Depending on conditions in wholesale markets in the near term, some further rise in rates charged to borrowers may yet occur.

“These developments will help to contain private demand over the period ahead.”

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