Daily News - Thursday 8 May 2014
Forced mobility 'not the answer' to unemployment
Bush Telegraph, ABC
Among the raft of recommendations in last week's Commission of Audit report was how to tackle unemployment in Australia. For single young people aged between 22 and 30 who have been on unemployment benefits for a year or more, the idea was floated to force them to move to areas where there were more jobs.
The idea has concerned those who deal with the long term unemployed, particularly in regional Australia. As small towns work to retain their young people, some are wondering if such an idea would just see more towns struggling to survive.
No quick fix for unemployment
NT News (3 May)
The Top End has a problem attracting highly skilled workers in specialised areas, and those on the dole long-term are not likely to have this targeted skill set.
And how do you force someone into a job they don’t really want to be in? An employer wants the best workers, not those who are here against their will.
Drought strategy on 'borrowed' time
Joel Fitzgibbon, The Land
... farmers need a family household safety net – a temporary welfare payment with a more generous means test for farmers with significant on-farm assets. Second, we need policy responses which encourage farmers to better prepare for drought – whether it be more money in the bank, more infrastructure, or new farming methods. Third, we need polices which don’t reward those not having a go at the expense of those having a go.
... One vehicle for a marriage between this farm value and the market may be some form of reverse-equity mortgage; a scenario in which the investor provides working capital for a stake in the farm’s future worth.
Warning risky loans could leave people homeless
Belinda Merhab, The Age
Consumers are being warned to avoid risky home loans that could see them or their families left homeless.
Consumer group Choice says risky lending practices that became extinct during the global financial crisis are re-emerging in the mortgage market. They include 40-year mortgages, family guarantees and no-deposit and low-deposit home loans, which are currently used by a third of all new borrowers.
WA - Utility bill battlers hit record high
Daniel Mercer, The West Australian
The number of families asking for help to pay their electricity bills is on track to be the highest on record this year after rocketing more than 500 per cent under the Barnett Government.
Mother calls for law to allow employees to donate leave to those with seriously ill child
Felicity Sheppard, ABC
A mother whose son was diagnosed with leukemia has called for Australia to emulate a French law that allows generous employees to donate leave to colleagues with a seriously ill child.
France’s parliament has passed a law allowing workers to give some of their days off to a colleague with a seriously ill child. The idea came from the case of a man whose colleagues donated 170 days while his son was battling cancer.
The bill, proposed by right-wing MP Paul Salen, was passed in the National Assembly in 2012 and has now made it through a final reading in the Senate.
It allows workers to donate days off anonymously to a colleague who needs to look after a seriously ill child.
There are fears that thousands of people with a severe disability could be thrown out of work after a decision by the Human Rights Commission.
Last week, the commission decided to give Australian Disability Enterprises, formerly known as sheltered workshops, one year to lift the wages of workers who are now paid just a few dollars an hour.
Auditing the auditors: debunking some economic myths
Jenna Price, The Sydney Morning Herald
Australian spending has flatlined over the past 30 years. You did not learn that from the National Commission of Audit. You would never learn that from the National Commission of Audit. Narrow. Biased. Constituted purely to serve the 1 per cent.
Auditing the auditors: The People's Commission of Audit
David Richardson, Richard Denniss and Matt Grudnoff, The Australia Institute
Governments are not like businesses. They provide services because the citizens demand them, not because delivering them is profitable. They collect taxes from citizens, not charge prices from customers. While a business has a legal responsibility to maximise the dividends it pays its shareholders, it makes no sense for a government to generate a surplus from its own citizens.
The claim: Cassandra Goldie says Australia is one of the lowest taxing countries in the OECD and revenue is a problem.
The verdict: Australia pays lower levels of tax than most other OECD nations. However government spending has been increasing, and balancing the budget could be achieved by targeting either revenue or spending or both. Whether Australia has a revenue problem is arguable.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann have emerged from a key Cabinet meeting, all but confirming next week's budget will include a debt tax.
Deficit levy locked in, fuel excise rise in frame
David Crow and Sid Maher, The Australian
Tony Abbott is struggling to quell unrest over a “deficit tax” in next week’s budget as his government considers another incendiary revenue proposal: lifting fuel excise for millions of motorists.
Higher tax will slow growth
David Uren, the Australian
In his 23 years at the nation’s helm, Robert Menzies never once achieved a budget surplus. A country can run continuous deficits and, provided the economy is growing and the deficits are not too large, debt will stabilise as a share of GDP. For Menzies, growth through the 1950s and 60s was sufficient that debt fell as a share of GDP from the 70 per cent he inherited to about 10 per cent by the end of his tenure, despite the endless deficits.
... However, there is a prudential case for returning the budget to surplus. Australia’s economy is volatile — much more so than any other advanced country — because of its dependence on commodity exports. When commodity prices are up, our economy does well and vice versa. More diversified economies selling a broader spread of services and manufactured goods are more stable.
Tough budget could see rise in joblessness
Belinda Merhab, AAP
Australia's unemployment rate is expected to drift higher and economists warn a tough budget could see further deterioration in the jobs market.
Economists think the jobless rate will get worse before it gets better, as the economy struggles with the high Australian dollar and tries to adjust to the wind-down in mining investment.
Go easy on budget cuts, urges OECD
Jacob Gredber, Australian Financial Review
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has warned the Abbott government against large confidence sapping spending cuts or tax hikes.
In a report written with input from Treasury officials that downgraded Australia’s growth outlook in 2015 to “below average”, the Paris-based OECD rang alarm bells about the dangers of relying too much on record-low interest rates to support the economy.
Deficit levy makes sense: Deloitte
Colin Brinsden, AAP
Imposing a deficit levy would show the Abbott government is serious about repairing the budget.
So says economist Chris Richardson, a long-time critic of government spending by both sides of politics, who believes a levy targeted at the top end of town makes sense.
Press Conference - Outlining the Budget challenge
Mathias Cormann, transcript
JOURNALIST: Senator Cormann would it be fair if high income earners are hit with a temporary levy, while low income earners and pensioners etcetera are hit with structural changes that increase over time? Will you also have long term structural things in the Budget that hit high income earners? ...
MATHIAS CORMANN: ... Now in relation to spreading the effort, of course we are focused on both structural reforms and savings and on the special immediate effort. Now the virtue and the downside of structural reforms and structural savings is that they start low and they build over time. We do need to get the Budget back into surplus as soon as possible because if we don't, what we are really doing is we are continuing to borrow to fund consumption today. We are continuing to force our children and grandchildren to pay the price for our consumption today with interest. That reduces opportunity in the future. We want to improve opportunity in the future which is why the Budget next week will be about a new age of opportunity.
Using youth as ‘whipping boys’ sets scene for Generation Grim
Michael Emslie, The Conversation
In the English court during the 15th and 16th centuries boys were engaged to cop the punishments of young princes. These young people were referred to as “whipping boys”. When the young crown prince misbehaved, the whipping boy was beaten and made to suffer.
Such practice seems fanciful now. However, the idea that privileged members of the community can transfer chastisement onto others less fortunate appears to have endured. This is the impression left by the Commission of Audit report, which endorses the government line that Australians have been “living beyond their means”.
Take a leaf out of the airlines’ book to sell taxes to the rich
Joshua Gans, The Conversation
In the big inequality debate, one thing unites those concerned by wealth disparities: they want the rich to pay more in taxes. But how to do this? The “tax efficiency” industry is thriving, money is hidden offshore, and we seem some way away from serious global action.
I propose a fresh perspective. Governments should take a look at the private sector and learn better ways to extract money from wealthy people.
Celibacy turns some bitter, inquiry told
Eoin Blackwell, Sydney Morning Herald
Celibacy in religious institutions can turn some people into bitter "lemons" unable to reach out healthily to others - but it isn't a contributing factor to child abuse, a senior Christian Brother says.