1. The real deal on the FTA and Chinese workers
Craig Emerson in the AFR lifts the lid on what is really going on with the Chinese free trade agreement and the right to bring in their own workers on projects worth more than $150 million.
The Government says this would have to be done under Australian law, which requires testing the market for Australian labour.
Emerson points out that Australian law allows the Government to waive 457 provisions on a case by case basis. The Chinese clearly expect this to happen, otherwise why have it in the FTA?
Emerson’s solution of passing legislation to remove the Government’s discretion but leave the FTA as it is would surely upset the Chinese.
Nick Xenephon told Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive that he’d read Emerson’s article and he won’t be voting for the FTA.
Xenephon also said he couldn’t vote for the investor state relations clause, which he saw as a threat to our sovereignty. That’s where international companies can sue governments for adverse decisions, like plain packaging and health warnings on cigarettes.
The Government is obviously expecting trouble with the cross bench, so they are putting the weights on Labor.
Henry Sherrell, policy analyst at the Migration Council Australia in his AFR column says labour mobility and migration are going to feature increasingly in trade agreements. It’s good for us and we should get used to it!
2. No gain in ending bracket creep
Brian Toohey in a column in the AFR takes a look at bracket creep, which Hockey has promised to return to taxpayers.
Bracket creep would scarcely be noticed by taxpayers, he says. It would cost someone on $37,000 pa less than $1.50 per week. Exactly the same result applies up to $80,000.
The budget, however, would suffer big time. The cost would be $25 billion over four years.
In short it’s a dumb thing to do until the budget is in surplus.
Mark has an excellent overview of what has been happening with Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in the UK:
- What is intriguing about Corbyn’s candidacy and the excitement it has generated is twofold. First, although hardly a fiery orator, Corbyn treats audiences and publics not just with respect but as interlocutors. For me, one of the most interesting aspects of following his candidacy from afar has been watching something in the many videos of his speeches or responses to questions online that we see so very rarely: a politician engaging in public reasoning as well as persuasion. The fit between his persona and his politics is part of this appeal too; Corbyn is a person of integrity, and has been the UK’s most parsimonious claimer of parliamentary expenses.
Secondly, the unlikely frontrunner has engaged and inspired generations said to have become deeply cynical about politics and public affairs – precisely because he is not part of the ‘Westminster bubble’. His proposals for participatory policy making, both within and beyond the Labour Party, are fascinating because they are well grounded, as Corbyn himself says, in the ability and the desire of citizens to articulate and reason around their own views.
4. Economic growth flatlines
GDP growth was just 0.2% seasonally adjusted and 2% over 2014-15 year and net national disposable income fell by 0.3%.
Here’s Bernard Keane at Crikey:
- Given that, under Hockey, the budget deficit has more than doubled, net debt has soared, unemployment is up 0.7 points to its highest level since Simon Crean was Labor leader, growth has slumped, wages are stagnant and infrastructure spending has collapsed, you might be forgiven for wondering what things would be like if his economic plan weren’t working.
Hockey says the figures were “encouraging” and “The economic plan that we laid down is actually delivering the dividends.”
Treasurers are apt to talk the economy up; the ABC captured some of it here, but it begs the question of what his plan actually is to save the economy. What saved us from dipping below the line this time was government expenditure, albeit the fortuitous purchase of three warships in the quarter. Keane points out that government expenditure levels are actually quite high measured against the Swan years.
Hockey does not seem to be able to find a convincing narrative, and there has been internal LNP chatter about removing him.
For now I think we settle down, the Liberals will win Canning, Hockey will stay, as will Abbott. However, even by December if the economy continues to tank, there could be personnel changes.
Fleur Anderson in the AFR says the Government seems to be adopting a small target strategy, behind the mantra of “jobs, growth and community safety”. We’ll need more than that to get the animal spirits of business and consumer spending moving.
She has been seen as strangely conservative, or sucking up to conservative interests, whereas she was actually more radical than most.
Introduction to Saturday salon
Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.
An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.
For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.
The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.
Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.
The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:
The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.