Abbott Releases Foreign Investment Discussion Paper

The Coalition has released a discussion paper on foreign investment in agricultural land and agribusiness.

Abbott, Truss & Hockey

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said “the Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment”. However, “there is scope to improve Australia’s foreign investment regime when it comes to investment in agricultural land and agricultural business”.

The paper was released by Abbott, Nationals leader Warren Truss and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in Sydney today.

The paper is titled: “Foreign Investment In Australian Agricultural Land And Agribusiness”. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has been put in charge of managing a “Discussion Paper process”. Submissions to the process are open until October 31, 2012.

Abbott, Truss and Hockey discussed foreign investment at a press conference this morning:

Media release from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the Foreign Investment Discussion Paper.

The Coalition unambiguously welcomes and supports foreign investment.

Foreign investment has been and will continue to be instrumental to the economic development and growth of Australia.

We support a foreign investment regime that strengthens our economy, promotes growth, and fosters confidence that foreign investment is in our national interest. [Read more…]

Hockey: Springsteen Not A Basis For Sound Public Policy

The Shadow Treasurer, Joe Hockey, has castigated Wayne Swan for being inspired by Bruce Springsteen.

“We might as well have Glenn A. Baker and Molly Meldrum running the country,” Hockey told a media conference.

Joe Hockey

“This is another ‘look at me’ speech… this is the clown trying to run the circus… it says everything about this government that it’s guided by the principles of a rock singer rather than any enduring philosophy that builds a stronger nation… I see rock and music as entertainment, I don’t see it as the benchmark of guiding principles for the destiny of a nation…”

Mr. Hockey said he was inspired more by Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, or “a Menzies who said we should be a nation of lifters not leaners, or a Howard who says the things that unite us are far bigger than the things that divide us. Or a Teddy Roosevelt who said it’s far better to dream mighty things, to seek glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to be amongst those poor souls who neither suffer much nor enjoy much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

  • Listen to an indignant Hockey’s media conference

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[Read more…]

Unexpected 1.3% Economic Growth Rate In March Quarter

National Accounts figures released today show a 1.3% economic growth rate in the March quarter.

A growth rate of around 0.6% was predicted by most economists.

A beaming Treasurer Wayne Swan told a press conference that the nation should have a bounce in its step today and described the result as “stunning set of numbers”.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey awkwardly told his press conference that the economic situation would be even better, “if only we had a good government”.

  • Listen to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s press conference (25m)

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  • Listen to Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey’s press conference (10m)

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Text of media release by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Today’s National Accounts paint an extraordinary picture of exceptional growth in the March quarter, and showcase the rock-solid economic fundamentals which put our economy in a league of its own, despite ongoing global turbulence.

Gross Domestic Product rose by a stunning 1.3 per cent in the quarter to be 4.3 per cent higher through the year, underpinned by a broad-based surge in business investment and strong growth in household consumption.

This is a remarkable outcome and reaffirms Australia’s position as one of the strongest economies in the world, with the Australian economy growing faster than every single major advanced economy in the March quarter. In through the year terms, this result is the fastest growth in over four years, which have been the most turbulent in the global economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

These figures come at time when many advanced economies are struggling to grow at all, with a number of economies already in recession and suffering crippling levels of unemployment. Europe faces profound economic challenges and this continues to cast a shadow over the global outlook. Despite these global challenges, the contrast between many advanced economies and the Australian economy could not be more stark.

Household consumption grew by a strong 1.6 per cent in the quarter and 4.2 per cent through the year, which is above its long term trend. Consumption growth was broad-based in the quarter, with continued strength in the consumption of services, but also of goods, with consumers taking advantage of price discounting by retailers. At the same time, households continued to strengthen their balance sheets, with the household saving ratio remaining high at 9.3 per cent in the quarter, supported by strong growth in household incomes. [Read more…]

Reserve Bank Cuts Cash Rate By 0.25%

The Reserve Bank has cut the cash by another 0.25%.

The reduction follows the 0.5% cut last month. The cash rate is now 3.50%.

  • Listen to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s press conference on interest rates (11m)

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  • Listen to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey on interest rates (11m)

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  • Table of interest rate changes since 1990

Statement by Glenn Stevens, Governor: Monetary Policy Decision

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 25 basis points to 3.50 per cent, effective 6 June 2012.

Growth in the world economy picked up in the early months of 2012, having slowed in the second half of 2011. But more recent indicators suggest further weakening in Europe and some further moderation in growth in China. Conditions in other parts of Asia have largely recovered from the effects of last year’s natural disasters, but the ongoing trend is unclear and could be dampened by slower Chinese growth. The United States continues to grow at a moderate pace. Commodity prices have declined lately, though they are mostly still high. Australia’s terms of trade similarly peaked about six months ago, though they remain historically high.

Financial market sentiment has deteriorated over the past month. The Board has noted previously that Europe would remain a potential source of adverse shocks. Europe’s economic and financial prospects have again been clouded by weakening growth, heightened political uncertainty and concerns about fiscal sustainability and the strength of some banks. Capital markets remain open to corporations and well-rated banks, but spreads have increased. Long-term interest rates faced by highly rated sovereigns, including Australia, have fallen to exceptionally low levels. Share markets have declined. [Read more…]

Joe Hockey’s National Press Club Budget Address

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey addressed the National Press Club today on last week’s Federal Budget.

Transcript of Joe Hockey’s post-Budget Address to the National Press Club.

Joe HockeyIn a part of my north shore electorate our Prime Minister describes as “privileged,” I have watched the fate of a small convenience store unfold over the last thirty five years. Whilst the shop has changed ownership it has only ever been a small family business usually operated by recent migrants to Australia.

Some months ago I dropped by late at night to buy some milk and I had a chat to the owner, lets call him “Sam” for the sake of anonymity.

During our conversation his young son was by his side doing his school homework on the shop counter.

Sam lamented to me how business had collapsed since the milk price had dropped to just one dollar a litre. Passing trade had fallen and his understocked shelves reflected the drop in sales. I admitted that there was little I could do to prevent a price discounting war between supermarkets. I did not want to create false hope.

At about this same time Sam was being hit with much higher electricity bills.

In order to save some outgoings he turned off his fridges at night and placed blankets over his freezer. His electricity bill dropped from around $600 a month to $300.

Since then Sam‘s electricity bill has been creeping back up to more than $500. He is very anxious about what the bill will look like after July. There is little more that he can do to reduce his electricity bill.

In the meantime, his customers have not come back and they can still buy milk down the road for just $1 a litre.

Of course there are billions of dollars of carbon tax compensation for some power stations and companies like Blue Scope Steel. There is no compensation for Sam or over two million similar small businesses.

The limited income tax and pension compensation for many Australians will not be enough to blunt the direct and indirect impact of the carbon tax.

I doubt that Sam’s family income is large, they live at the back of the shop, not in a waterfront residence such as Kirribilli House.

They may qualify for some form of compensation but nothing will compensate their small business for the day to day dislocation and rising costs. Nothing will compensate their business for the carbon tax.

Julia Gillard calls these people “privileged”. Yeah right. [Read more…]

Q&A: Wong And Hockey On Gay Marriage

The final question on tonight’s Q&A produced an interesting contrast between Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Penny Wong.

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Reserve Bank Cuts Interest Rates By 0.5%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut the cash rate by 50 basis points, or 0.5%, to 3.75%.

The decision, predicted last night by former RBA Governor Bernie Fraser, takes interest rates back to where they were in December 2009.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Peter Anderson have all commented on the rates decision.

  • Listen to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s press conference (12m) – transcript below

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  • Listen to Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey’s media conference (5m)

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  • Listen to Peter Anderson’s media conference (6m)

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  • Table of interest rate changes since 1990

Text of statement by RBA Governor Glenn Stevens.

At its meeting today, the Board decided to lower the cash rate by 50 basis points to 3.75 per cent, effective 2 May 2012. This decision is based on information received over the past few months that suggests that economic conditions have been somewhat weaker than expected, while inflation has moderated.

Growth in the world economy slowed in the second half of 2011, and is likely to continue at a below-trend pace this year. A deep downturn is not occurring at this stage, however, and in fact some forecasters have recently revised upwards their global growth outlook. Growth in China has moderated, as was intended, and is likely to remain at a more measured and sustainable pace in the future. Conditions in other parts of Asia softened in 2011, partly due to natural disasters, but have recently shown some tentative signs of improving. Among the major countries, conditions in Europe remain very difficult, while the United States continues to grow at a moderate pace. Commodity prices have been little changed, at levels below recent peaks but which are nonetheless still quite high. Australia’s terms of trade similarly peaked about six months ago, though they too remain high. [Read more…]

Hockey On Lateline: The End Of The Age Of Entitlement

Joe Hockey11.15pm – Notwithstanding the usual annoying and incessant interruptions from his interlocutor, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has just offered up a remarkably woolly performance on Lateline.

Hockey has delivered a speech in London – transcript not yet available – in which he argues that The Age of Entitlement is over.

In the interview he was pressed on how this would be achieved in government. Aside from a defence of the Health Insurance Rebate as a government spending measure which actually reduces expenditure on other entitlements, Hockey was less than specific about what he will do as Treasurer in less than 18 months time.

  • Listen to Hockey explain his entitlement policy:

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Update: Click here for a transcript of Hockey’s speech.

Hockey Speech: The End Of The Age Of Entitlement

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has used a speech in London to call for an end to “the age of entitlement”.

Joe HockeyAddressing the Institute of Economic Affairs, Hockey said “entitlement is a concept that corrodes the very heart of the process of free enterprise that drives our economies”.

He said: “The entitlements bestowed on tens of millions of people by successive governments, fuelled by short-term electoral cycles and the politics of outbidding your opponents is, in essence, undermining our ability to ensure democracy, fair representation and economic sustainability for future generations.”

Hockey said economic problems in Europe were attributable in part to an entitlement culture: “The sovereign debt problems we are seeing in Europe and the US today are the outcome of countries wanting a lifestyle they cannot afford but are quite happy to borrow from others to pay for.”

In a wide-ranging speech, Hockey gave contrasting examples from China and the United States. He said the only solution in the long term “is for countries to live within their means”.

“We must rebuild fiscal discipline. Budget surpluses must be restored, ideally until the debt is repaid.”

“THE END OF THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT”

SPEECH NOTES FOR AN ADDRESS TO THE INSTITUTE OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

Introduction

I wish to thank my friends at the Institute of Economic Affairs for the opportunity to discuss an issue that has been the source of much debate in this forum for sometime….that is, the end of an era of popular universal entitlement. [Read more…]

Tony Abbott Responds To Mid-Year Budget Update

Tony Abbott has described the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook as a “crisis mini-budget.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb, Abbott claimed there is now no buffer against international economic problems because of the incompetence of the government.

  • Listen or watch Abbott, Hockey and Robb speak on MYEFO.

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Transcript of joint press conference with Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb.

TONY ABBOTT:

Today the Government has finally admitted what the Coalition has been saying for months. Namely, there is a crisis in Europe, there is a global economic slowdown and it will impact on Australia. I want to make the fundamental point that this is a government which is imperilling our ability to respond to this global problem. It is imperilling our ability to respond to this very serious set of international economic numbers.

This is a government which is making a bad situation worse with its new taxes and with its continuing waste. There is no good time to introduce bad taxes but this is the worst possible time to be introducing a carbon tax and a mining tax which are going to damage Australia’s international competitiveness. [Read more…]