Australian delegation to the Middle East
Who, in their right mind, would send Christopher Pyne, Bronwyn Bishop and Tim Wilson to the West Bank to help with the peace process? I could not think of three more annoying people.
Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian Education Minister called the group “rude” and said they had “false information” and were “not well educated”.
“I thought the Minister of Innovation would come with innovative ideas, but instead he came with a list of complaints.”
According to Tim Wilson, the group “quizzed” the Palestinian Prime Minister and Education Minister about a range of topics though Christopher Pyne was very quick to say he didn’t quiz anyone whilst admitting that other members of the delegation were “more robust”.
One wonders at the choice of sending freedom boy when his religious freedom summit in November didn’t go so well when he forgot to invite any Muslim or Aboriginal representatives.
The 20 or so participants at the event, which was closed to the public, included representatives from the Anglican Church, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, two rabbinical peak bodies, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Sikhs, Buddhists and other faiths, as well as a representative of the atheist association and a representative of the Church of Scientology.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (Muslims Australia), the Islamic Research and Educational Association, the Lebanese Muslims Association, the High Islamic Council of Australia (Darulfatwa) and the Islamic Council of Victoria all said they were not aware of, or invited to, the event.
Free Trade Agreements
The government is spending $10 million spruiking the China Free Trade Agreement but MYEFO would tend to indicate it is nothing to be boasting about.
Since the budget, there has been a $3.8 billion write-down in receipts over the forward estimates “primarily due to reduced tariff receipts associated with the China‑Australia Free Trade Agreement.”
But they will improve “jobs and growth”… right? It appears not.
GDP growth forecasts have been decreased significantly.
Scott Morrison is claiming the creation of 340,000 jobs over the last 12 months. According to the ABS, “Over the past 12 months, trend employment has increased by 293,300.”
Whichever figure you use, individuals and other withholding tax has been written down by $300 million (0.2 per cent) in 2015‑16 and $11.8 billion across the forward estimates, “reflecting ongoing weakness in collections, a weaker outlook for wages growth and lower population growth.”
Despite supposedly creating 71,400 jobs last month, aggregate hours worked in all jobs decreased by 12.7 million hours and labour force underutilisation is 14.3% (16.6% for females).
But are companies doing better due to our FTAs?
Company tax receipts have been written down by $1.1 billion (1.6 per cent) in 2015‑16 and $12.1 billion over the forward estimates, “mainly owing to weaker expected mining profitability associated with lower commodity prices.”
How about investments?
Business investment fell 6.3 per cent in 2014‑15 as resource investment continued to decline. Non‑mining business investment grew modestly in 2014‑15. The outlook for 2015‑16 is more subdued than forecast at Budget as the transition towards broader‑based growth is materialising at a slower pace than previously anticipated. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Capital Expenditure Survey indicates weak investment intentions.
But surely our exports are booming with a low Aussie dollar and the opening up of new markets?
“In 2015‑16, rural exports are expected to fall as a result of adverse weather conditions associated with El Niño and as beef producers enter a period of restocking.”
Terms of trade?
“In the May budget the terms of trade in 2015-16 was expected to fall 8.5%; now it is expected to fall 10.5%. And while the budget hoped next year would see the terms of trade stabilise and indeed rise 0.75%, now 2016-17 expects to see another 2.25% fall.”
It seems the negatives from the FTAs have been felt immediately but any benefit is yet to appear.
Finding out anything specific about Malcolm’s dogs breakfast NBN is difficult because it is off budget and information requests, including those by Senate Committees, are met with the “commercial in confidence” brick wall.
But under the Statement of Risks in MYEFO it confesses that we are being sued because of Malcolm’s tinkering.
“The termination of the funding agreement with OPEL Network Pty Ltd has resulted in the Australian Government being a party to legal action brought by OPEL Networks Pty Ltd (in Liquidation) (OPEL) and Optus Networks Pty Ltd (Optus) in relation to an agreement under the Broadband Connect Infrastructure Programme. OPEL is a joint venture between Optus and Elders Telecommunications Infrastructure Pty Ltd. The outcome of that litigation is unknown as the proceedings are ongoing.”
Even though there will no longer be any brownfield FttP rolled out, the government refuses to release the modelling we paid for that gave the cost of continuing with FttP, quoting the usual excuse, c-in-c.
And Malcolm promised transparency?
All in all, things aren’t going that well but that’s what happens when you choose your delegates unwisely, rush free trade agreements, and destroy nation building infrastructure just because you didn’t think of it. But that’s Coalition politics for you.
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