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                    [post_content] => 

Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson sees a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments.

The world is motoring. Growth in the US, Europe and Japan is near 2%, with China and India doing the heavy lifting to raise overall global growth above 3.5%. But China has been tightening the screws, which will see its growth slow during 2018, with flow-on effects for the wider world. And there are structural headwinds for the medium term: the developed world is ageing, with its potential growth sapped by rising retirements. That’s true of China, too. And, at the same time, the business world has been reluctant to invest for a decade, spooked by rising political and economic uncertainty, as well as fears of regulatory and technological developments – creating an additional headwind.

Both the world and the Reserve Bank have been doing Australia favours, with China throwing red meat at those bits of its economy that buy big from the Lucky Country, and with the RBA’s 2016 interest rate cuts revving up housing prices. Despite that, production growth has been weak, as big gas projects finish construction, as the big home building boom of recent years starts to peter out, and as Cyclone Debbie took a toll. Yet our stuttering pace of production was still enough – thanks to higher commodity prices – to see national income chalk up a gain of near $100 billion in 2016-17. That brought an emphatic end to five years of ‘income recession’, though to date it has been profits rather than wages that have benefited, while the pace of home building is set to shrink further amid increasing evidence that gravity may soon start to catch up with stupidity in housing markets. And the gargantuan Chinese credit surge is finally easing back, suggesting the global economy won’t be doing Australia quite as many favours from 2018 onwards. Yet those are merely caveats on an otherwise solid outlook. Relative to the rest of the rich world, Australia’s economic outlook may not be quite as impressive as it once was, but we are still kicking goals.

Consumer price inflation remains a dog that isn’t barking, both locally and globally. And although global and local leading indicators of inflation are stirring in their sleep, they don’t look like getting out of bed any time soon. We see wage growth set to climb from 2018, as inflation lifts a tad, as retirement among boomers restrains growth in potential workers, and as the ‘income recession’ of the post-2011 period gives way to more settled gains in national income (and workers get their share of that). Even so, the pick-up in inflation and wage gains is likely to be both modest and slow.

The past decade saw a growing global gap between economies and interest rates, but the US Fed is continuing a slow grind towards closing the gap. The rest of the world will eventually follow, with Australia’s turn starting during 2018. Yet as J. Paul Getty so neatly put it: “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem – if you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Australia’s heavily indebted families are now the Reserve Bank’s problem, which is why, although interest rates will indeed rise in the next few years, they won’t rise sharply. On the currency front, Australia will sit more towards the back of the queue for global interest rates normalisation, and there’s the risk of further price pain on commodities. That combination will weigh on the Australian dollar, but not by much.

Australia is within a hair’s breadth of a current account surplus for the first time since bell-bottomed jeans were all the rage. However, just like bell-bottoms, Australia’s dash for cash looks set to be very short-lived. We got close courtesy of spikes in coal and iron ore prices, but those same global commodity prices are once again curled up into a ball and rocking. That will increasingly show up as lower export earnings over the next year or so, cementing a return towards our customary deficits.

Job growth in the next couple of years will be solid: not as good as 2017 to date, but not as bad as 2016, either. There’s good news in the better gains in national income of late, but overall macro trends aren’t really giving a strong signal either way on job prospects. And while the bugaboos of the moment (disruptive technologies and new business models) grab the headlines, they do more by way of generating churn at the level of individual businesses than they do to ruffle the surface of overall job numbers.

The Federal Budget saw the Coalition abandon Plan A (a return to sustainable fiscal finances via spending cuts) to Plan B (tax and spend, amid increases to the Medicare levy, a bank tax, and Gonski2.0). Given Plan A spent years going nowhere, we see great sense in Plan B. But it’s a real worry that a conscious shift to the centre still didn’t unleash much bipartisanship in Canberra. That says official figures (which assume stuff passes the Senate) remain at risk. And, speaking of risks, commodity prices could yet spell trouble for the Federal, WA and Queensland Budgets, while – a little further out in time – housing markets may yet do the same for the NSW and Victorian Budgets.

The tussle at the top

Among industries, it’s still a tussle for the top of the growth leader board, as mining output rides the crest of earlier investment decisions, while health care rides a demographic dividend topped with technological treats. Both sectors look set to keep growing rapidly, with mining seeing huge gas projects ramp up their production levels (to meet export contracts, and to keep the home fires of domestic markets ticking over), and with health demands marching ever-upwards. But the prospects for both also come with caveats, as mining’s fortunes remain chained to China’s, and health to Canberra’s.

Like Manny Pacquiao, the reign at the top of the pops for finance has been long and gloried, but it’s looking a little long in the tooth as the cost of credit finally gets back off the canvas. That said, there’s a long tail of growth still left in finance, and its return to the growth pack may take a few years.

Challenges loom for property services too, where a slowdown has already commenced.

Similarly, the $A -fuelled rise of fast growth in recreation (thanks to more tourists) and education (thanks to more students) may soon start to moderate from here – the $A’s fall was a while ago, and its benefits are starting to fade. But at least the education sector has the lift in the birth rate over the last decade or so to provide better base demand via extra kidlet numbers.

Construction and manufacturing are both bumping along the bottom, but for construction it may be a relatively brief spell in the doldrums, whereas manufacturing’s challenges look rather more structural.

Question marks lie over the utilities, where balancing divergent aims (power that’s clean, reliable and cheap) is hard, but becomes even harder now that Hazelwood has closed and with the nation’s onion-eaters arguing the toss on Finkel. That suggests investors may stay sidelined, which is where they’ve already been for an awfully long time. Add in rising prices, and this sector – a pathway to growth for many other industries – is left reliant on population gains to generate much by way of growth.

It’s just a jump to the south and east

On the State and Territory front, the jump from a China boom to a housing price boom sent the nation’s money and momentum from its north and west towards its south and east. Yet although the ‘sunbelt’ – WA, Queensland and the Top End – is feeling pain as a result of that, much of the drama for those regions already lies in the rear view vision mirror. Their next phase will be one of recovery, albeit not quite yet.

And don’t forget that today’s heroes – NSW and Victoria – have clay feet. A house price boom borrows growth from the future, and both NSW and Victoria will have to pay back some of that in the years ahead as today’s housing prices gradually reconnect with reality.

Luck’s a fortune, and NSW has it in spades amid the shift to lower interest and exchange rates since 2012. But storm clouds are building, as the housing price boom has artificially supported retail and home building. There’ll be an eventual butcher’s bill to pay as those supports reverse.

Victoria has benefited as key cyclical drivers – exchange and interest rates – moved in a ‘Victoria- friendly’ direction in recent years. And this State is experiencing its strongest population gains for many a decade. Yet, relative to other States, its population and housing cycles may be near their peaks.

The key headwind to Queensland’s economy for some years now has been falling engineering construction, but that pain is increasingly history. While Cyclone Debbie and slowing housing construction are current negatives, Debbie’s impact will be temporary and gas exports are lifting.

South Australia has benefited from favourable shifts in interest rates and exchange rates. In fact, and despite popular opinion, the State economy’s growth actually picked up of late. Even so, some big challenges remain, given both demographics and an unfavourable industry structure.

The construction cliff is still weighing on Western Australia. This state saw a virtuous circle of reinforcing growth drivers during the boom, but it has been seeing a vicious bust for a while now. But there has been better news recently out of China, and even vicious cycles run out of steam.

Tasmania has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of the lower Australian dollar and lower interest rates, and the state economy’s growth is currently looking pretty good. But structural negatives on the longer-term outlook remain entrenched, suggesting caveats on current conditions.

The Northern Territory’s economy isn’t a one-hit wonder, but recent years saw a Gangnam-style blockbuster hit the charts. As construction on the Ichthys project increasingly winds down and its export phase ramps up, the Territory’s challenging conditions won’t disappear for a while yet.

The good news for the ACT is that, after the cutbacks and public sector hiring freezes of recent years, the Feds are returning to more of what might be considered business as usual. On top of that, the impact of lower interest rates on the ACT’s economy remains a powerful positive.

 
                    [post_title] => Gravity is starting to catch up with stupidity
                    [post_excerpt] => There are a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments.
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            [1] => WP_Post Object
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27632" align="alignnone" width="296"] ALGA President Mayor David O'Loughlin.[/caption]

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) president Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that while the corridor protection measures put forward by Infrastructure Australia are important and worthwhile, the Federal Government must also address first- and last-mile issues.

Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) recent paper, Corridor Protection: Planning and investing for the long term, outlines the case for securing and protecting land corridors for future infrastructure projects. They stress that a relatively modest investment today can pay substantial dividends tomorrow.

ALGA has always strongly advocated for more integrated transport planning and so we support the report. However, it doesn't stress enough the importance of first and last mile issues we know enable freight to get to its destination, people to get to work, and raw materials to get to on-shore and off-shore markets.

According to the National Transport Commission (NTC), road freight grew six-fold over the period 1971 to 2007. The freight task is projected to double by 2030 and treble by 2050. This growth is an indicator of the economic activity that we must begin to plan for today. We must ask ourselves:
  • What are the transport goals and what services are required to foster growth, jobs and prosperity?
  • Where are the investments required to achieve these goals?
Many councils are already answering these tough questions by investing in regional transport plans that identify key transport routes and linkages, and investment opportunities at the local and regional level. However, for this work, to have the impact required, to make productivity gains across the country, local government needs additional support from the Commonwealth. ALGA continues to call for a federal investment of $200 million per annum over five years to establish a Local Freight Productivity Investment Plan to partner with local councils and ensure that first mile/last mile and freight connectivity issues are addressed to improve national productivity. As well as road reform and additional funding requirements, road managers need to work in partnership with transport operators and other levels of government to provide roads and road services that are fit for purpose. A business-as-usual approach will not address this issue. As emphasised by IA, we must make the right infrastructure decisions today to accommodate and meet our growing freight task, increase productivity, create jobs and help create the transport infrastructure for the future prosperity of our nation. These are some of the key messages ALGA will include in its submission to the National Freight and Supply Chain Inquiry currently being undertaken by the federal government. Submissions are due by 28 July 2017 and I encourage all councils to join us and independently make a submission identifying their first and last mile freight priorities. The seven strategic corridors singled out by IA are: East Coast High Speed Rail, Outer Sydney Orbital, Outer Melbourne Ring, Western Sydney Airport Rail Line, Western Sydney Freight Line, Hunter Valley Freight Line, and Port of Brisbane Freight Line. Further information, including the full report, is available on the Infrastructure Australia website. More information about the inquiry and how to make a submission is available on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website. The email address for submissions is freightstrategy@infrastructure.gov.au.   [post_title] => More action needed to protect vital infrastructure corridors [post_excerpt] => Mayor David O’Loughlin writes that first- and last-mile issues in freight must also be addressed. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => action-needed-protect-vital-infrastructure-corridors [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-17 22:20:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-17 12:20:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27626 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27605 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-13 19:22:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-13 09:22:19 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27606" align="alignnone" width="300"] Our national wellbeing probably peaked with Australia’s population at roughly 15 million in the 1970s, when this photo was taken in Hunters Hill, Sydney.
John Ward/flickr, CC BY-NC-SA[/caption] Peter Martin, University of South Australia; James Ward, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, University of Denver
Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion, and neither currently has a policy about it. The Greens think population is an issue, but can’t come at actually suggesting a target. Even those who acknowledge that numbers are relevant are often quick to say that it’s our consumption patterns, and not our population size, that really matter when we talk about environmental impact. But common sense, not to mention the laws of physics, says that size and scale matter, especially on a finite planet. In the meantime the nation has a bipartisan default population policy, which is one of rapid growth. This is in response to the demands of what is effectively a coalition of major corporate players and lobby groups. Solid neoliberals all, they see all growth as good, especially for their bottom line. They include the banks and financial sector, real estate developers, the housing industry, major retailers, the media and other major players for whom an endless increase in customers is possible and profitable. However, Australians stubbornly continue to have small families. The endless growth coalition responds by demanding the government import hundreds of thousands of new consumers annually, otherwise known as the migration intake. The growth coalition has no real interest in the cumulative social or environmental downside effects of this growth, nor the actual welfare of the immigrants. They fully expect to capture the profit of this growth program, while the disadvantages, such as traffic congestion, rising house prices and government revenue diverted for infrastructure catch-up, are all socialised – that is, the taxpayer pays. The leaders of this well-heeled group are well insulated personally from the downsides of growth that the rest of us deal with daily. A better measure of wellbeing than GDP The idea that population growth is essential to boost GDP, and that this is good for everyone, is ubiquitous and goes largely unchallenged. For example, according to Treasury’s 2010 Intergenerational Report:
Economic growth will be supported by sound policies that support productivity, participation and population — the ‘3Ps’.
If one defines “economic growth” in the first place by saying that’s what happens when you have more and more people consuming, then obviously more and more people produce growth. The fact that GDP, our main measure of growth, might be an utterly inadequate and inappropriate yardstick for our times remains a kooky idea to most economists, both in business and government. Genuine progress peaked 40 years ago One of the oldest and best-researched alternative measures is the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI). Based on the work of the American economist Herman Daly in the 1970s and ’80s, GPI takes into account different measures of human wellbeing, grouped into economic, environmental and social categories. Examples on the negative side of the ledger include income inequality, CO2 emissions, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and the misery of car accidents. On the positive side, and also left out of GDP, are the value of household work, parenting, unpaid child and aged care, volunteer work, the quality of education, the value of consumer goods lasting longer, and so on. The overall GPI measure, expressed in dollars, takes 26 such factors into account. Since it is grounded in the real world and our real experience, GPI is a better indicator than GDP of how satisfactory we find our daily lives, of our level of contentment, and of our general level of wellbeing. As it happens, there is quite good data on GPI going back decades for some countries. While global GDP (and GDP per capita) continued to grow strongly after the second world war, and continues today, global GPI basically stalled in 1970 and has barely improved since. In Australia the stall point appears to be about 1974. GPI is now lower than for any period since the early 1960s. That is, our wellbeing, if we accept that GPI is a fair measure of the things that make life most worthwhile, has been going backwards for decades. What has all the growth been for? It is reasonable to ask, therefore, what exactly has been the point of the huge growth in GDP and population in Australia since that time if our level of wellbeing has declined. What is an economy for, if not to improve our wellbeing? Why exactly have we done so much damage to our water resources, soil, the liveability of our cities and to the other species with which we share this continent if we haven’t really improved our lives by doing it? As alluded to earlier, the answer lies to a large extent in the disastrous neoliberal experiment foisted upon us. Yet many Australians understand that it is entirely valid to measure the success of our society by the wellbeing of its citizens and its careful husbandry of natural capital. At the peak of GPI in Australia in the mid-1970s our population was under 15 million. Here then, perhaps, is a sensible, optimal population size for Australia operating under the current economic system, since any larger number simply fails to deliver a net benefit to most citizens. It suggests that we have just had 40 years of unnecessary, ideologically-driven growth at an immense and unjustifiable cost to our natural and social capital. In addition, all indications are that this path is unsustainable. With Australian female fertility sitting well below replacement level, we can achieve a slow and natural return to a lower population of our choice without any drastic or coercive policies. This can be done simply by winding back the large and expensive program of importing consumers to generate GDP growth – currently around 200,000 people per year and forecast to increase to almost 250,000 by 2020. Despite endless political and media obfuscation, this is an entirely different issue from assisting refugees, with whom we can afford to be much more generous.
The ConversationYou can read other articles in the Is Australia Full? series here. Peter Martin, Lecturer, School of Natural & Built Environments, University of South Australia; James Ward, Lecturer in Water & Environmental Engineering, University of South Australia, and Paul Sutton, Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Denver This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Why a population of, say, 15 million makes sense for Australia [post_excerpt] => Neither of Australia’s two main political parties believes population is an issue worth discussion. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => population-say-15-million-makes-sense-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-13 19:22:19 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-13 09:22:19 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27605 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27549 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-05 16:01:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-05 06:01:40 [post_content] => Matt Grudnoff The announcement of a new state level bank levy in South Australia has upset the big banks. This is not surprising and the big banks along with their lobby group the Australian Bankers Association have launched a self-interested campaign to stop the levy. Like most industry political campaigns it relies on exaggerated claims about the impact of the bank levy on ordinary people and the South Australian economy. The South Australian bank levy is designed in the same way as the federal bank levy. Banks cannot avoid the levy by not banking or investing in South Australia. The proposed levy will therefore not disadvantage South Australia compared to any other state or territory. As with the federal bank levy, it will only impact the big four banks (Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB) as well as Australia’s largest investment bank Macquarie Bank. The rate of the levy is set so it will raise from SA the same amount as the federal levy that comes from South Australia. This is achieved by calculated the ratio of South Australia’s Gross State Product and Gross Domestic Product. At the moment this is about six per cent of the total levy. This effectively means the South Australian bank levy is the same size as the federal levy in South Australia. The South Australian bank levy is proposed at 0.0036 per cent or 0.36 basis points. That is $3.60 in every $1,000,000 of determined liabilities. It is expected to raise about $90 million per year over the next four years. Together the five CEOs of the big banks make about half of what the levy is expected to raise each year. The amount the levy is expected to rise also represents just 0.2 per cent of the $44 billion in pre-tax profits the big five made last year.  

"The reality is that the bank levy will have no real impact on ordinary South Australians and its design means that it will not disadvantage South Australia compared to any other state or territory."

  The bank levy is not a new idea and has been implemented in many other countries around the world, particularly in Europe. This, along with the size of the levy, means it will have no material impact on sovereign risk. The bank levy also represents a good opportunity for the federal government to encourage state governments to raise more of their own revenue. The federal government has recently complained that the states are too reliant on it for their revenue. When the states want more revenue they have in past suggested the federal government increase the GST. This means the states get all the revenue and the federal government suffers all the political pain of increasing a tax. The federal government should take this opportunity to encourage the state governments to follow South Australia’s lead and implement their own bank levies. This means state governments would be more reliant and responsible for their own taxes. The federal government should use the COAG process to encourage this to happen. The banks are as unhappy with the announced South Australian levy as they were unhappy with the federal government’s bank levy. This is not unexpected as it opens up an additional tax on the banks and if the South Australian government is successful, it could see other states follow suit. The South Australian bank levy is only tiny in size but the ferocious reaction of the banks is in part because they are concerned that other states will follow South Australia’s lead. As is increasingly the case in Australia, the reaction has been over blown with exaggerated claims of sovereign risk and lost investment opportunities for the South Australian economy. Such exaggeration needs a closer examination. Matt Grudnoff is The Australia Institute’s senior economist. This article is a summary of the discussion paper Bank levy in South Australia: Doing as the Treasurer says, doing as the Treasurer does. [post_title] => The impact of the South Australian bank levy [post_excerpt] => The federal govt should encourage the states to implement their own bank levies. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => impact-south-australian-bank-levy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-05 16:10:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-05 06:10:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27549 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27533 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-03 20:36:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-03 10:36:04 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_27538" align="alignnone" width="287"] Geelong’s relatively high creative industries score, coupled with a robust rate of business entries, provides a solid foundation for steady growth. Photo by paulrommer from www.shutterstock.com.[/caption] Leonie Pearson, University of Canberra Investing in regional cities’ economic performance makes good sense. Contrary to popular opinion, new research shows regional cities generate national economic growth and jobs at the same rate as big metropolitan cities. They are worthy of economic investment in their own right – not just on social and equity grounds. However, for regional cities to capture their potential A$378 billion output to 2031, immediate action is needed. Success will see regional cities in 2031 produce twice as much as all the new economy industries produce in today’s metropolitan cities. Drawing on lessons from the UK, the collaborative work by the Regional Australia Institute and the UK Centre for Cities spotlights criteria and data all Australian cities can use to help get themselves investment-ready.

Build on individual strengths

The Regional Australia Institute’s latest work confirms that city population size does not determine economic performance. There is no significant statistical difference between the economic performance of Australia’s big five metro cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) and its 31 regional cities in historical output, productivity and participation rates. So, regional cities are as well positioned to create investment returns as their big five metro cousins. The same rules apply – investment that builds on existing city strengths and capabilities will produce returns. No two cities have the same strengths and capabilities. However, regional cities do fall into four economic performance groups – gaining, expanding, slipping, and slow and steady. This helps define the investment focus they might require. For example, the report finds Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay), Sunshine Coast-Noosa and Gold Coast are gaining cities. Their progress is fuelled by high population growth rates (around 2.7% annually from 2001 to 2013). But stimulating local businesses will deliver big job growth opportunities.
Rapid population growth is driving the Gold Coast economy, making it a ‘gaining’ city. Pawel Papis from www.shutterstock.com
Similarly, the expanding cities of Cairns, Central Coast and Toowoomba are forecast to have annual output growth of 3.2% to 3.9% until 2031, building on strong foundations of business entries. But they need to create more high-income jobs. Geelong and Ballarat have low annual population growth rates of around 1.2% to 1.5%. They are classified as slow and steady cities. But their relatively high creative industries scores, coupled with robust rates of business entries, means they have great foundations for growth. They need to stimulate local businesses to deliver city growth.

Get ready to deal

Regional cities remain great places to live. They often score more highly than larger cities on measures of wellbeing and social connection. But if there’s no shared vision, or local leaders can’t get along well enough to back a shared set of priorities, or debate is dominated by opinion in spite of evidence, local politics may win the day. Negotiations to secure substantial city investment will then likely fail. The federal government’s Smart Cities Plan has identified City Deals as the vehicle for investment in regional cities. This collaborative, cross-portfolio, cross-jurisdictional investment mechanism needs all players working together (federal, state and local government), along with community, university and private sector partners. This leaves no place for dominant single interests at the table. Clearly, the most organised regional cities ready to deal are those capable of getting collaborative regional leadership and strategic planning. For example, the G21 region in Victoria (including Greater Geelong, Queenscliffe, Surf Coast, Colac Otway and Golden Plains) has well-established credentials in this area. This has enabled the region to move quickly on City Deal negotiations.

Moving past talk to be investment-ready

There’s $378 billion on the table, but Australia’s capacity to harness it will depend on achieving two key goals.
  • First, shifting the entrenched view that the smart money invests only in our big metro cities. This is wrong. Regional cities are just as well positioned to create investment returns as the big five metro centres.
  • Second, regions need to get “investment-ready” for success. This means they need to be able to collaborate well enough to develop an informed set of shared priorities for investment, supported by evidence and linked to a clear growth strategy that builds on existing economic strengths and capabilities. They need to demonstrate their capacity to deliver.
While there has been much conjecture on the relevance and appropriateness of City Deals in Australia, it is mainly focused on big cities. But both big and small cities drive our national growth.
The ConversationYou can explore the data and compare the 31 regional cities using the RAI’s interactive data visualisation tool. Leonie Pearson, Adjunct Associate, University of Canberra This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. [post_title] => Bust the regional city myths and look beyond the 'big 5' for a $378b return [post_excerpt] => Investing in regional cities’ economic performance makes good sense, writes Leonie Pearson. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 27533 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-07-04 11:08:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-07-04 01:08:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27533 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27473 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-06-26 13:25:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-26 03:25:16 [post_content] => Opinion - Paul Greenberg It seems that our work loads are expanding. Our inbox is getting fuller, more meetings, more travel, more reports. So when an invitation to attend an industry conference and expo pops up in our inbox or in-tray, it is understandable that for many of us, these invitations get binned. But I would ask you to consider the following points, in support of attending these events. Don’t forget your personal brand I am often asked to have a coffee with talented professionals in logistics and supply chain. Often, they are looking for a new role, and seeking a bit of guidance. All too often, these talented and hardworking professionals have done a fantastic job in their roles and for the company, but have all too often neglected to build their profile ‘out there’. Personal branding is a big conversation, too long for this column, but I would ask you to consider that in our working careers there are two brands we must serve in equal measure. The company brand we work for, and our personal brand and professional development. Professional development I have held a registration as a psychologist in Australia for the last twenty years. And am a member of the Australian Psychological Society. This professional board, by example, demands that I attend industry events, seminars and workshops in pursuit of professional development. CPD points (continuing professional development) must be accrued and logged in order for the annual registration renewal, and many professional bodies follow similar formats. My question to you is: why should professionals in logistics be broadly exempt? After all, we manage significant capital assets and are responsible for safety in an often ‘heavy metal’ environment. Just saying. Alliances I have written quite a bit in this column about the importance of alliances in our industry. And frequently quote Carlos Slim, who states: “In this new wave of technology, you can't do it all yourself, you have to form alliances.” This quote resonates for me and my career. Some of my regrets are around not forming alliances, even with the proverbial ‘frenemies’ I competed against. Industry events and expos are the perfect opportunity to plant seeds around potential alliances. Networking See all the points above of course. But my point here is that in our corporate roles, and often regardless of our level in the organisation, there are limited opportunities in our working week to meet in the broader supply chain and logistics ecosystem. Sure we know our colleagues, and our key suppliers, and we might have a coffee from time to time with colleagues in other organisations. But what about new suppliers, new technologies, colleagues in other verticals and organisations, locally and globally? I believe industry events are actually a very effective use of time. Over a compressed two or three days, these events allow a lot of boxes to be ticked, on all the above points. Go wide Lastly, if some of the points above resonate, consider going wider than just logistics and supply chain events. In my role as founder and executive director of NORA.org.au, I am fortunate to attend and support a number of industry events. While mainly in retail, or retail-related, I often find that the real nuggets of gold can lie in those events and streams just a little ‘outside the obvious’. Happy prospecting! Paul Greenberg is the founder and executive director of NORA.org.au.   [post_title] => Industry events: to attend or not to attend, that is the question [post_excerpt] => Professional development is an essential ingredient of your personal brand. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => industry-events-attend-not-attend-question [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-26 15:32:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-26 05:32:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27473 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27302 [post_author] => 659 [post_date] => 2017-06-06 05:00:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-06-05 19:00:58 [post_content] => Who is going to rush to the rescue of renters?   I am a single parent with two school-aged children earning a decent income but around 60 per cent of my pay every month goes on rent; childcare takes a good chunk of the rest. I pay $650 per week for a small two-bedroom flat in an apartment complex in Petersham in Sydney’s Inner West. Ten years’ ago the same apartment was leased for $390 per week. In that time the flat’s value has more than doubled and it is now estimated to be worth around $885,000.   This puts me squarely in the category of Sydney renters paying ‘extremely unaffordable rents’, according to the Rental Affordability Index (RAI), produced by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking and SGS Economics, and well above the definition of households in housing stress, defined as being a household paying more than 30 per cent of income in rent. May figures from the RAI showed that pensioners and working parents have been priced out of the rental market in all metropolitan areas across Australia and that rental affordability dropped over the last quarter in all metropolitan areas, except Perth. For me, it is an unsustainable situation and part of the reason I’m moving back to the UK and to my family this month after 12 years in Australia. But there are thousands of other Sydney and regional NSW renters who are also paying a fair whack of their wages in rent and it appears that there is little help in sight for them. Census 2011 figures show that just over one-quarter of NSW households rent privately and a further 5 per cent rent in social housing. In NSW, 76 per cent of lower-income renter households, that’s those in the bottom 40 per cent of income distribution, were considered to be in rental stress in 2013- 14. National Shelter's and Choice's report Unsettled: Life in Australia's private rental market says that 49 per cent of  renters in metro areas personally pay more than $301 a week rent versus roughly a quarter in regional areas and 42 per cent of renters overall. This rises to 55 per cent for renters in Sydney and Melbourne.  The house price boom has not only hurt first home buyers it has also hurt renters. As more and more middle income earners are priced out of home ownership they swell the ranks of renters and they can often afford to pay higher rents, effectively pushing lower income households further out of the rental market as landlords charge what they can get away with. While the most vulnerable groups are pensioners, single parents, people with disabilities, students and anyone on benefits, single people and couples on low wages or where one partner doesn’t work are also in the firing line. That's a lot of people (and a lot of voters). But the situation is unlikely to be eased by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s housing affordability reforms announced last week, which focused mainly on expanding stamp duty concessions for first home buyers and slugging foreign property investors with higher duties and taxes. Tenants NSW says the NSW government needs to remember renters  Tenants NSW Senior Policy Officer Ned Cutcher is underwhelmed by the NSW measures. "It’s not an increasing affordable housing package, that’s an access to debt package," Mr Cutcher says. “It is disappointing. Clearly there are a lot more people for whom home ownership is more of a dream than an aspiration and they’re doing it tough."  “We would have liked to have seen something more direct tackling the issue of rental affordability [although] the government has left it open to have a look at housing affordability targets.” The government needs to look at what’s driving rising rents and pay more attention to renters, he adds.   Indeed, the new reforms could aggravate the situation for renters as the government steers first home buyers towards new apartments and shifts investors away from them. Instead, he suggests there needs to be a raft of reforms and at least some of these should address negative gearing and capital gains tax discount, perhaps limiting negative gearing to new properties (as the Opposition has suggested) and reducing capital gains tax discounts, hoping to encourage long-term investment. “The combination of negative gearing and capital gains discount encourages investment churn: buying and selling properties because they’re interested in gains rather than yields,” Mr Cutcher says. Changes to negative gearing and capital gains discount would be significant because they could ‘change the way investors consider how and why they’re borrowing large amounts of money and investing in property’. But he cautions: “People [investors] aren’t going to give this up lightly but it isn’t sustainable.” Changing these price signals would enable landlords to continue to make money out of leasing property but could shift their attitudes to viewing rentals less as bricks and mortar that goes up in value and more like somebody’s long-term home. “It’s all about keeping things going the way they [have]been going - helping a few people out on the margins - but if you’re not actually looking at the systems in place, we’re going to be here in another three or four years’ time having the same conversation about stamp duty concessions and first home buyers’ grants. It’s not a very imaginative solution.” He also backs affordable housing targets for new developments to help increase supply and introducing a broad-based land tax to encourage investors to make the most effective use of their land, reducing vacant blocks and ensuring density and development where land is more valuable, for example in employment hubs. He is an advocate for new social housing being built and the government offering more Commonwealth Rental Assistance for those on benefits, especially where it has not kept pace with the private rental market. At a federal level, Mr Cutcher says Treasurer Scott Morrison’s idea of a bond aggregator model has legs. This is where investors - companies or super funds for example - buy government bonds and the government loans the money cheaply to community housing associations to create relatively affordable rental housing. He says renters would also benefit from having stronger legal rights in NSW because at the moment landlords can put up rents and terminate tenancies fairly easily. Ultimately, he believes that the growing army of renters will force the government’s hand, at state and federal level and prove the catalyst to more decisive action. “We need to be hearing from people raising families who have been renting for ten or 15 years but who don’t know where they’re going to be living next year. Increasing the visibility of people who rent, that’s going to drive these decisions." Economist and Mosman Mayor Peter Abelson says low income households under rental stress and first home buyers struggling to scrape together a deposit are the two critical housing problems in NSW. “People at the lower end are really suffering from high rents. There are real problems.” Long waiting lists for social housing, for example there are 40,000 households on the list in Sydney, and the widening gap between Commonwealth Rent Assistance and rental levels make the situation worse. He suggests developers pay an affordable housing levy of 1.5 per cent of house sale value on new units. This is preferable to rent controls, Abelson says, which can be an administrative headache (for example, if tenants’ incomes change or they sublet) and reduce capital values with minimal impact on the affordable housing available. The centrally-controlled fund could then subsidise rents for low income households.   [post_title] => OPINION: Renters left behind in NSW housing reforms [post_excerpt] => Tenant body urges action. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-renters-left-behind-in-nsw-housing-reforms [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-06-06 09:36:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-05 23:36:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27302 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 25060 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-09-19 13:02:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-19 03:02:39 [post_content] => Group of young people celebrating with drinks in nightclub   OPINION By Jason Thomas Jason Thomas is the executive director of AusComply, an Australian software company that helps businesses demonstrate a “culture of compliance”. Thomas also served almost two decades on the New South Wales Police Force, before co-founding AusComply. Sceptics could certainly be excused for assuming the results of this “comprehensive review” hadn’t already been pre-determined well and truly before the first submission had even been considered. Having read all 151 pages, the tone, short -sighted opinion and ultimately the final result is all revealed by page 12, the end of the executive summary. The compulsion to read the entire document was one of intrigue. Surely there’s some solid evidence based findings that support the lacklustre recommendations? But sadly, no. So what did we get for the money? That’s a very good question. Read more here.     This story first appeared in The Shout. [post_title] => OPINION: NSW lock-out law review a failure [post_excerpt] => What about Melbourne? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-callinan-review-failure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-11-18 11:32:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-11-18 00:32:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=25060 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24870 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2016-09-01 11:53:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-09-01 01:53:51 [post_content] => Policy Shop 2_opt   Australian governments spend around $192 billion a year on services including childcare, education, health, emergency management, housing, and justice. But is the Public Service up to the job? Despite years of preparation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics managed to mishandle the Census, resulting in millions of Australians not being able to input their details on the day. Was the Census embarrassment a one-off or is there a pattern of failure with our Public Service? Are there questions to answer over the accountability of the Public Service, its capacity to oversee outsourced services, the quality of its leadership, and its resourcing in the wake of cut backs? In this edition of The Policy Shop, University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor and a former senior bureaucrat Professor Glyn Davis runs the ruler over the public service. He is joined by former Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Terry Moran AC,and the founding director of the Melbourne School of Government Professor Helen Sullivan. On the question of the Census, Mr Moran puts the blame squarely on the politicians. “I don’t blame the poor people at the ABS, I blame successive governments which have denied investment in the ABS, and also in this case the foolishness of outsourcing so much of the collection task to the private sector without equipping the ABS to be as strong and informed a client of those companies as it needed to be in a very complex area like IT,” Mr Moran says. But Professor Sullivan says the skills to oversee contracts are now core to government and should be a requirement within the public service, including the ABS. “Governments have been contracting for years,” Professor Sullivan says. “This is not something that is new. We have lots and lots of experience of contracting. Its not good enough to say it’s because they did not have enough staff or were not trained to do that. This is something that is core to how Governments operate. That doesn’t cut it for me.” Listen to the podcast here. Hosted by Professor Davis, The Policy Shop is a monthly podcast about public policy and the way it affects Australia and the world. Subscribe on iTunes.   [post_title] => Is Australia's public service competent? [post_excerpt] => Was Censusfail a one-off? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => australias-public-service-competent [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-09-06 15:41:20 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-09-06 05:41:20 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24870 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 24442 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-07-18 20:59:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-18 10:59:27 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_24443" align="alignnone" width="287"]Frydenberg campaign_opt Environment & Energy: a Lycra Free Zone.[/caption]     When it comes to steady-as-she-goes reshuffles, it’s the subtle and incremental details that denote the real direction of the Turnbull ministry agenda for the parliamentary term ahead. That’s the take-out from the official cast list for 'Turnbull 2.0' after the Prime Minister survived a near death election after ruthlessly efficient negative campaigning from the Opposition inflicted far more damage than anticipated. Jobs and Growth? Most incumbent Ministers have kept their jobs, but there’s is anything but growth in government numbers essential to make policy into legislation. And you have to look right to the very end of the ministry list to see Turnbull’s real stamp of innovation.   Renewed Energy Listed literally last in the July 2016 class list, Victorian MP Josh Frydenberg has picked up what’s arguably the most eye opening ministry: Environment and Energy. The combination of those two policy areas under a single minister is clearly intended to send a firm message to stakeholders, industry and public servants. The message is this: what previously may have been opposing policy views must now pull together for a common good and a shared destiny. Sectoral cooperation must succeed sectoral conflict.If Tony Abbott went out of his way to punish the renewables sector through funding cuts and policies that favoured traditional energy sources like coal, gas and petroleum, Turnbull’s message is that both energy policy and industry needs look to a low emitting future to stay relevant. Sectoral cooperation must succeed sectoral conflict. If Tony Abbott went out of his way to punish the renewables sector through funding cuts and policies that favoured traditional energy sources like coal, gas and petroleum, Turnbull’s message is that both energy policy and the energy industry must look to a low emitting future to stay relevant. That's not so dumb. That's not dumb. Previously the portfolios had been split into Energy and Resources linking extraction, mining and generation while the development of the renewables industry was kept at bay by placing it in the Environment portfolio. Resources – read extraction and mining – now goes to ascendant Nationals Senator and former Barnaby Joyce staffer Senator Matt Canavan who also picks up the Northern Australia ministry for his talents and ambition. It’s a prescient move given the very public opposition of many farmers and Nationals to the encroachment of mining interests and polarising industries like Coal Seam Gas onto agricultural land. There is also a strong implicit message that any political debt owed to the mining industry following its relentless and generously funded anti-Mining Tax campaign during the Coalition's time in Opposition has been fully extinguished.   All regions are local Another Nationals winner is Senator Fiona Nash who – very logically – gets Local Government added to her duties alongside Regional Development. Local Government – which ministers to more than 500 Mayors under the thumb of state governments – had previously rested with Paul Fletcher, who now gets to devote his full concentration to Urban Infrastructure. Again, there’s a consistent theme in the new grouping of ministries along metropolitan and non-metropolitan lines. Having outlined a new federal interest in a coordinated approach to the development of cities and major infrastructure – think rail or major urban renewal – Turnbull has arguably returned policy for regional councils to a better fit.   Coordinating Infrastructure Although still in the outer ministry, Fletcher’s talent for understanding complex and technical industries and infrastructure can now be put to full use rather than being drained by distractions like unpopular local government mergers on his own doorstep. Fletcher’s role in demonstrating and selling Turnbull’s vision of cooperative federalism on the ground to voters – think opening roads and bridges – should also not be underestimated. Fletcher’s outer ministry also dovetails much more neatly with Angus Taylor’s Cities and Digital Transformation duties and provides two capable, younger and forward-looking junior ministers to help deliver coordinated national policies in areas that were previously largely left to the states. If both Taylor and Fletcher make headway, it will help Turnbull deliver on an agenda of national renewal and new industry creation that has so far proved evasive. The federal Local Government ministry didn't even get named under Abbott.   Defending votes South Australian MP Christopher Pyne’s move to Defence Industry Minister is about the strongest reflection yet of the urgent need to reinvigorate job creation in industrial sectors in transition. Pyne’s shift out of Industry, Innovation and Science (which goes to Greg Hunt) to building submarines, ships and warplanes may not be overtly upward, but it does underscore a rock solid intention to ensure that states like South Australia benefit directly from massive industries like military procurement in terms of jobs. Change management isn't always sexy, but it's crucial. Pyne’s other big challenge will be to ensure that big projects help create sustainable local industries like advanced manufacturing that can replace big losses in sectors like car building by spreading opportunities for local growth around, rather than just buying new kit off the shelf. The mission statement is clear: remake Defence into an industry that actually contributes to the economy rather than merely feeds off it. Shake down a few military industrial multinationals while you're at it. That’s no small task.   Revenue and Financial Services One of the real surprises in the mini-reshuffle is the replacement of the title of Assistant Treasurer with a sharply more contemporary post of Revenue and Financial Services – a role that goes to Kelly O’Dwyer who cedes Small Business to Michael McCormack. Fairly or otherwise, the relinquishment of one O’Dwyer’s previous ministries is certain to be regarded by many as a loss for the minister who remains in Cabinet. That interpretation could be missing the bigger policy picture. In recasting the former Assistant Treasurer ministry into a far more hands-on position, a capable plumber to ensure that the effectiveness of taxation works for the government and not against it isn't a glamour job, but it's prudent. In a digitised economy, where the physical location of payments and transactions have been routinely moved to minimise Treasury’s take, the development of effective revenue measures and mechanisms that tap into electronic commerce occurring in Australia remains a key challenge. Coupled with endemic transfer pricing and other tax minimisation techniques – of themselves part of the wider financial services market – it’s arguable a fully dedicated plumber minister unencumbered by other distractions has a better chance stemming revenue leakage. Given the Australian Taxation Office has already indicated it wants to eliminate the annual ritual of taxpayers filing an annual return through an agent when they have relatively simple affairs, an increase in the efficient targeting and collection of taxes could pay off in spades. If the likes of Google, Apple, Uber and other disruptors start paying the same level of tax locally as the industry players that came before them did it’s unlikely to hurt the Turnbull Government or O’Dwyer. [post_title] => Turnbull ministry tweaks quietly demolish Abbott’s policy agenda [post_excerpt] => Subtle, smart reforms lead rebuilding [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turnbulls-ministry-tweaks-quietly-demolish-abbotts-policy-agenda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-07-19 09:56:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-07-18 23:56:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=24442 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21729 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-10-12 13:10:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-12 02:10:10 [post_content] => Tram Circular-Quay Malcolm Turnbull’s weekend announcement that the Commonwealth will provide $95 million in funding towards the extension of the Gold Coast’s light rail system gives further impetus to the quite remarkable popularity of the technology in Australia. Trams were once Australia’s most popular form of public transport, operating even in comparatively small cities such as Geelong and Ballarat. Now they are flavour of the month for Australia’s growing band of public transport advocates, the chief of which is our new Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull delights in being seen on public transport, in great contrast to his predecessor, who believed cars made ‘kings’ of ordinary people. It has not taken long for the new Prime Minister’s ideas to see action. “Public transport infrastructure is absolutely critical to the development of our cities,” he said when announcing the Gold Coast deal, “which are absolutely critical to ensuring our future prosperity as a nation. “Our cities are the crucibles of innovation and enterprise. They are where so much of our GDP is created and it's vital that they have the right infrastructure, whether it is telecommunications infrastructure or transport infrastructure.” Sydney’s CBD has had its buses taken off George St, the city’s main north-south artery, as construction of a massive new light rail line begins. The Gold Coast line has converted many former opponents into light rail enthusiasts. Light rail in Australia is booming – there is even a major conference on the subject planned for 2016. The are many projects in the offing: In operation
  • Melbourne: Melbourne’s 250km metropolitan tram system rivals St Petersburg as the most extensive light rail system in the world.
  • Sydney: From Central Railway to Dulwich Hill, built on old tram tracks and an obsolete goods line, servicing the southern CBD, Darling Harbour, and the Inner West.
  • Adelaide: A single 12km line from the CBD to the beachside suborn of Glenelg was retained when Adelaide’s tram network was decommissioned in 1956. It has since been extended to North Terrace and along Port Road to Hindmarsh.
  • Gold Coast: The existing G:link line from Griffith University’s Southport campus to Broadbeach was opened in 2014.
Under construction and planned
  • Sydney: Major extension of the network, with a new line from Circular Quay down the spine of the CBD along George St, past Central Railway, through Surry Hills and branching at Moore Park into separate lines to Randwick and Kingsford.
  • Canberra: Capital Metro announced in early 2015, to run 12km from Gungahlin in the north, down Northbourne Avenue to Civic. Construction planned 2016-19. There is a proposal to extend it along the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin to Russell.
  • Perth: MAX (Metro Area Express), announced by the WA state government but now deferred, with construction planned from 2017 to 2022. The planned route is from Mirabooka in the north to the Perth CBD, with spurs to the University of Western Australia in the south west and Victoria Park in the south east. There are also proposals to eventually extend the line to Fremantle.
  • Gold Coast: Extension of existing line north to heavy rail station at Helensvale, to be completed before the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Proposed
  • Adelaide: A number of extensions have been proposed, to Port Adelaide, Adelaide Airport, Semaphore and Mitcham, as well as more tracks in the CBD.
  • Hobart: Riverline, a proposed light rail system from the CBD along the southern bank of the Derwent River and perhaps across the river to Bridgewater, has been shelved after the Abbott Government scrapped a feasibility study in 2014. Expect to see it back on the table soon.
  • Newcastle: The NSW government closed the heavy rail spur between Hamilton and Newcastle’s CBD in 2014, replacing it with buses. Two options have been proposed for a light rail system – one long the old rail lines, and another on Hunter St. The government is conducting a study, but there has been no announcement.
  • Parramatta: The city council has conducted a $1 million feasibility study for a network connecting the CBD with Macquarie Park and Castle Hill, with possible extensions to Bankstown and Olympic Park.
  • Sunshine Coast: The council has conducted a feasibility study of a route from Caloundra to Maroochydore, and has talked about an opening date of 2025.
There have also been calls for the introduction of light rail in major regional cities such as Geelong, Townsville and Wollongong. Trams are not a new idea, but except in Melbourne they have been out of fashion for decades. Now the wheel has turned. Light rail is cool. The Prime Minister again: “Federal governments over the years have been reluctant to invest in public transport infrastructure. There is a range of reasons for that, but they are essentially historical. “The reality is that you should assess the merit of infrastructure on its merits and not favour one road over rail or rail over road. As cities become more densely settled, public transport infrastructure is of greater and greater importance. “So, if you can't have a roads-only solution, you can't obviously have a rail-only solution either. It's just a question of taking a pragmatic, business-like, practical approach to it, no ideology involved. This is just business-like.” Business wins out over ideology. How Australia is changing. [post_title] => ANALYSIS: Boom time for light rail in Australia [post_excerpt] => From Perth to Townsville, trams are on the agenda [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => analysis-boom-time-for-light-rail-in-australia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-13 10:11:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-12 23:11:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21729 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21563 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-28 11:01:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-28 01:01:04 [post_content] => australia-post-letter-box Something has to change at Australia Post. It is losing money with the death of the stamped letter. It is making money from parcels, but the numbers don’t add up. Led by Ahmed Fahour, Australia’s highest paid public servant, Australia Post announced a full-year loss of $222 million in 2014-15. It is the organisation’s first ever annual loss since it was corporatised in 1989. The reason is clear. Hardly anybody sends letters any more. Personal mail hardly exists in the Internet era, except for Christmas cards, and even they are in serious decline. Business mail has been the mainstay of the postal system in recent years, but is also declining quickly with the move to online invoicing and statements. The decline has been obvious for years, but it has been accelerating, not declining. Last year alone addressed letter volumes fell by 7.3 per cent, with ordinary stamped letters falling by 10.3 per cent, off bases that had already declined sharply. Australians now send a billion fewer letters a year than they did in 2008, when mail was already in serious decline. Australia Post would have got out of this loss-making business years ago if it weren’t for its Community Service Obligation (CSO), a statutory requirement to deliver mail and keep post offices open. For many years the big money has been in its parcel division, now separately branded as StarTrack (Australia Post bought out Qantas’s half share in 2012). The parcels business is booming, in large part because of Australia’s love affair with Internet shopping, which is growing as quickly as ordinary mail is declining. Products can be ordered on the Internet, but someone still has to deliver the things, and Australia Post is doing well in a very competitive market against the likes of FedEx, UPS and Toll (recently acquired by Japan Post). Ahmed Fahour wants to restructure the postal part of Australia Post, but he is having to balance this against the Community Service Obligation. No Australian government wants to be seen to be cutting postal services. It is a continuing battle, one which will eventually have to confront commercial reality. The numbers are stark. Australia Post’s loss of $222 million last year was an enormous turnaround from its $116 million profit the previous year. Revenue was constant at $6.37 billion, with the parcel business comprising more than half for the first time, up 3.6 per cent to $3.21 billion. Last month Australia Post asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to allow it to increase the price of a stamp by more than 40 per cent, from 70 cents to $1, to “better reflect the cost of the regulated letters service.” The government supports the application, which also. includes keeping the concession stamp price at 60 cents for 5.7 million concession cardholders, and the price of Christmas cards at 65 cents. Concession and season greeting (Christmas) mail comprise nearly half of all mail sent by consumers. The great majority (97 per cent) of regular mail now comes from business and government, with very few personal letters. Last week the Senate approved the reforms, which also include reducing the number of post boxes nationally from over 15,000 to the 10,000 specified by the CSO, and cutting 1900 jobs (from 32,000 current full-time and part-time employees). Regular post will still be delivered every day, but it will be slowed down by up to two days to allow for savings on air freight. It is not certain the changes will be enough to cut the losses. Mr Fahour’s enormous $4.6 million salary will remain, though there may be some cuts to the 400 Australia post managers who earn more than $195,000 a year (a figure from last year’s annual report). Mr Fahour has, unsurprisingly, defended his salary as consistent with that paid to his private sector counterparts. He was formerly CEO of National Australia Bank. "We continue to make headway with reforming our letters business and we are investing in the infrastructure and digital capabilities - vital to servicing the changing needs of our customers,” said Mr Fahour last week. “We are confident we have the resources, infrastructure and support in place to manage the ongoing transition of our letters business as we become a more e-commerce-centric organisation.” Last month Mr Fahour announced the establishment of an industry working group to consider regulatory reform of the letters business and “other strategic issues facing the postal sector.” It follows a Senate Inquiry into the Licensed Post Office network, which recommended the establishment of the group. It will be chaired by former Victorian Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, and will include representatives from the printing industry, mail houses, post office licensees and unions (the Communications Workers Union is the main union covering Australia Post workers). Ms Kroger, married to Victorian Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger, lost her Senate seat at the last federal election to Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party senator Ricky Muir. The Communications Workers Union recognises the need for change, but says reforms should be done “sensibly” and without forced job losses. “It is abundantly clear that the letter side of the business cannot be profitable in its current form,” said CWU National Secretary Greg Rayner after the losses were announced. “The very encouraging part is the parcel side of the business, which is a huge growth area and will see substantial jobs growth in coming years. “The digital disruption to letter volumes we are seeing now is nothing new to Australia Post. The company, its hardworking loyal staff and the CWU have adapted before and will adapt again. “This union was working with Australia Post when it was horses and carts. Our members have transformed it from a network of telegraph wires to one of fibre optics and modern precision logistics. “We are committed to partnering with Australia Post to transform the business again because that’s the only way to guarantee secure, quality jobs for our members and a reliable, useful service for all Australia.” Mr Rayner said with the right approach, these results and the reform they demand lay a path to more jobs, better conditions and greater job security for postal workers. “We have been at the table with Australia Post at the highest level for months now preparing a long term response to reform. In the coming weeks we hope to unveil an Accord to support our members and all Australia Post employees through reform and help guide Australia Post into the future,” Mr Rayner said. Good luck to him, to Mr Fahour, and to the government. It is something of a race against time, and one that Australia Post has been losing thus far. The postal business continues to decline faster than the parcels business is growing – if losses continue expect Mr Fahour to depart (with his millions) and his successor to initiate a new round of restructuring.   [post_title] => Analysis – Where to now for Australia Post? [post_excerpt] => The government owned enterprise tries to stem the losses [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => analysis-where-to-now-for-australia-post [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-30 10:39:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-30 00:39:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21563 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 2 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21540 [post_author] => 664 [post_date] => 2015-09-23 15:04:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-23 05:04:11 [post_content] => Turnbull yes we can Australia has a new government. Normally this happens only after an election, but so significant is Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to the prime ministership, and so profound the changes that are accompanying it, that for all intents and purposes we are starting again. The speed of Turnbull’s coup stunned many, but more significant is its extent. The national mood has changed, and so have most of the old agendas. Most people are still not aware of the magnitude of what has happened, and the effects it will have. The national debate in recent years has sunk to new lows, beset by name-calling, sloganeering, and a truly astounding level of intellectual dishonesty. Turnbull has promised the change that, to engage with the public and to respect their intelligence. Debate in Australia on much-needed economic reform had all but stopped. Virtually everybody agrees that Australia’s taxation system is in great need of an overhaul, and there is even broad agreement on what needs to be done in such major areas as superannuation concessions, negative gearing, GST, company taxation, and multinational profit-shifting. Other public policy areas, as diverse as broadband communications, same-sex marriage, copyright law, water catchment management, media ownership, science and research, education, are all back in play. Mr Turnbull has a great deal of good will from a public tired of the pettiness and hypocrisy that has characterised the public agenda for a decade or more. The difference may be one of style as much as substance, but a new style of governing, of setting and executing policy, is just what Australia needs. It is the difference between pessimism and optimism, seeing the glass half full and capable of overflowing. Malcolm Turnbull has explicitly said that he will rule nothing in and nothing out. The single most important criterion will be whether it works or not. Mr Turnbull’s past record shows that he is a pragmatist, unencumbered by any ideology beyond an unwavering belief in our ability to better ourselves through smart thinking and intelligent – and hard working – execution. If he has a political philosophy, it is classical liberalism, a belief in the primacy of the individual and the necessity of the light hand of government to leaven its excesses when necessary. Few except anarchists and nihilists believe in no government, and few except Stalinists and Maoists believe government should control all we do. We live on a continuum, or many of them, and we all have different views on how far we should go towards either extreme, in any area of policy. We will never reconcile these disparate views – it is in the nature of humankind that they exist. The history of the world is the history of clashes between adherents of different ways of thinking. Effective government means creating an environment that helps ensure that intelligence drives out stupidity and knowledge drives out ignorance. Malcolm Turnbull, with a successful and varied career behind him, with demonstrable enthusiasm for technology and its benefits, with a great diversity of interests and abilities, is the right man at the right time for Australia. John Howard famously said that the times would suit him, and he was right. Then under Tony Abbott the Liberal Party became dominated by the troglodytic views of yesterday’s men, scared of the future. At the same time the once-proud Australian Labor Party imploded, also largely as a result of its anachronistic us-versus-them view of the world. Liberalism, in the true meaning of the world, is a proud and noble philosophy. It has been in short supply in recent years, in a world dominated by extremes of the left and right. It appeals to reason rather than prejudice, but for that reason it has usually won out in the end as the internal contradictions of rival philosophies have led to their eventual demise. In Malcolm Turnbull Australia has its first ever liberal (as opposed to Liberal) prime minister. He is also the first ever technocrat, and he has the intelligence and the charm to persuade others of the merits of his ideas. Australia has already become a very different place in the short time since Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister. If he succeeds in realising his vision it will also be a much better place. He has the goodwill of most of the population and much of the intelligentsia and the leaders of commerce. He is beset by critics from the left and the right, from the professionally selfish and the congenitally stupid. As so many people have said recently, ‘Australia is better than this’. Malcolm Turnbull deserves to succeed, just as Australia deserves to succeed. [post_title] => Opinion – The Turnbull ascendancy [post_excerpt] => The new prime minister wants to remake Australia in his own image. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => opinion-the-turnbull-ascendancy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-09-25 11:15:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-09-25 01:15:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21540 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 13 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27617 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-07-17 22:40:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-07-17 12:40:11 [post_content] => Deloitte Access Economics’ Chris Richardson sees a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments. The world is motoring. Growth in the US, Europe and Japan is near 2%, with China and India doing the heavy lifting to raise overall global growth above 3.5%. But China has been tightening the screws, which will see its growth slow during 2018, with flow-on effects for the wider world. And there are structural headwinds for the medium term: the developed world is ageing, with its potential growth sapped by rising retirements. That’s true of China, too. And, at the same time, the business world has been reluctant to invest for a decade, spooked by rising political and economic uncertainty, as well as fears of regulatory and technological developments – creating an additional headwind. Both the world and the Reserve Bank have been doing Australia favours, with China throwing red meat at those bits of its economy that buy big from the Lucky Country, and with the RBA’s 2016 interest rate cuts revving up housing prices. Despite that, production growth has been weak, as big gas projects finish construction, as the big home building boom of recent years starts to peter out, and as Cyclone Debbie took a toll. Yet our stuttering pace of production was still enough – thanks to higher commodity prices – to see national income chalk up a gain of near $100 billion in 2016-17. That brought an emphatic end to five years of ‘income recession’, though to date it has been profits rather than wages that have benefited, while the pace of home building is set to shrink further amid increasing evidence that gravity may soon start to catch up with stupidity in housing markets. And the gargantuan Chinese credit surge is finally easing back, suggesting the global economy won’t be doing Australia quite as many favours from 2018 onwards. Yet those are merely caveats on an otherwise solid outlook. Relative to the rest of the rich world, Australia’s economic outlook may not be quite as impressive as it once was, but we are still kicking goals. Consumer price inflation remains a dog that isn’t barking, both locally and globally. And although global and local leading indicators of inflation are stirring in their sleep, they don’t look like getting out of bed any time soon. We see wage growth set to climb from 2018, as inflation lifts a tad, as retirement among boomers restrains growth in potential workers, and as the ‘income recession’ of the post-2011 period gives way to more settled gains in national income (and workers get their share of that). Even so, the pick-up in inflation and wage gains is likely to be both modest and slow. The past decade saw a growing global gap between economies and interest rates, but the US Fed is continuing a slow grind towards closing the gap. The rest of the world will eventually follow, with Australia’s turn starting during 2018. Yet as J. Paul Getty so neatly put it: “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem – if you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Australia’s heavily indebted families are now the Reserve Bank’s problem, which is why, although interest rates will indeed rise in the next few years, they won’t rise sharply. On the currency front, Australia will sit more towards the back of the queue for global interest rates normalisation, and there’s the risk of further price pain on commodities. That combination will weigh on the Australian dollar, but not by much. Australia is within a hair’s breadth of a current account surplus for the first time since bell-bottomed jeans were all the rage. However, just like bell-bottoms, Australia’s dash for cash looks set to be very short-lived. We got close courtesy of spikes in coal and iron ore prices, but those same global commodity prices are once again curled up into a ball and rocking. That will increasingly show up as lower export earnings over the next year or so, cementing a return towards our customary deficits. Job growth in the next couple of years will be solid: not as good as 2017 to date, but not as bad as 2016, either. There’s good news in the better gains in national income of late, but overall macro trends aren’t really giving a strong signal either way on job prospects. And while the bugaboos of the moment (disruptive technologies and new business models) grab the headlines, they do more by way of generating churn at the level of individual businesses than they do to ruffle the surface of overall job numbers. The Federal Budget saw the Coalition abandon Plan A (a return to sustainable fiscal finances via spending cuts) to Plan B (tax and spend, amid increases to the Medicare levy, a bank tax, and Gonski2.0). Given Plan A spent years going nowhere, we see great sense in Plan B. But it’s a real worry that a conscious shift to the centre still didn’t unleash much bipartisanship in Canberra. That says official figures (which assume stuff passes the Senate) remain at risk. And, speaking of risks, commodity prices could yet spell trouble for the Federal, WA and Queensland Budgets, while – a little further out in time – housing markets may yet do the same for the NSW and Victorian Budgets. The tussle at the top Among industries, it’s still a tussle for the top of the growth leader board, as mining output rides the crest of earlier investment decisions, while health care rides a demographic dividend topped with technological treats. Both sectors look set to keep growing rapidly, with mining seeing huge gas projects ramp up their production levels (to meet export contracts, and to keep the home fires of domestic markets ticking over), and with health demands marching ever-upwards. But the prospects for both also come with caveats, as mining’s fortunes remain chained to China’s, and health to Canberra’s. Like Manny Pacquiao, the reign at the top of the pops for finance has been long and gloried, but it’s looking a little long in the tooth as the cost of credit finally gets back off the canvas. That said, there’s a long tail of growth still left in finance, and its return to the growth pack may take a few years. Challenges loom for property services too, where a slowdown has already commenced. Similarly, the $A -fuelled rise of fast growth in recreation (thanks to more tourists) and education (thanks to more students) may soon start to moderate from here – the $A’s fall was a while ago, and its benefits are starting to fade. But at least the education sector has the lift in the birth rate over the last decade or so to provide better base demand via extra kidlet numbers. Construction and manufacturing are both bumping along the bottom, but for construction it may be a relatively brief spell in the doldrums, whereas manufacturing’s challenges look rather more structural. Question marks lie over the utilities, where balancing divergent aims (power that’s clean, reliable and cheap) is hard, but becomes even harder now that Hazelwood has closed and with the nation’s onion-eaters arguing the toss on Finkel. That suggests investors may stay sidelined, which is where they’ve already been for an awfully long time. Add in rising prices, and this sector – a pathway to growth for many other industries – is left reliant on population gains to generate much by way of growth. It’s just a jump to the south and east On the State and Territory front, the jump from a China boom to a housing price boom sent the nation’s money and momentum from its north and west towards its south and east. Yet although the ‘sunbelt’ – WA, Queensland and the Top End – is feeling pain as a result of that, much of the drama for those regions already lies in the rear view vision mirror. Their next phase will be one of recovery, albeit not quite yet. And don’t forget that today’s heroes – NSW and Victoria – have clay feet. A house price boom borrows growth from the future, and both NSW and Victoria will have to pay back some of that in the years ahead as today’s housing prices gradually reconnect with reality. Luck’s a fortune, and NSW has it in spades amid the shift to lower interest and exchange rates since 2012. But storm clouds are building, as the housing price boom has artificially supported retail and home building. There’ll be an eventual butcher’s bill to pay as those supports reverse. Victoria has benefited as key cyclical drivers – exchange and interest rates – moved in a ‘Victoria- friendly’ direction in recent years. And this State is experiencing its strongest population gains for many a decade. Yet, relative to other States, its population and housing cycles may be near their peaks. The key headwind to Queensland’s economy for some years now has been falling engineering construction, but that pain is increasingly history. While Cyclone Debbie and slowing housing construction are current negatives, Debbie’s impact will be temporary and gas exports are lifting. South Australia has benefited from favourable shifts in interest rates and exchange rates. In fact, and despite popular opinion, the State economy’s growth actually picked up of late. Even so, some big challenges remain, given both demographics and an unfavourable industry structure. The construction cliff is still weighing on Western Australia. This state saw a virtuous circle of reinforcing growth drivers during the boom, but it has been seeing a vicious bust for a while now. But there has been better news recently out of China, and even vicious cycles run out of steam. Tasmania has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of the lower Australian dollar and lower interest rates, and the state economy’s growth is currently looking pretty good. But structural negatives on the longer-term outlook remain entrenched, suggesting caveats on current conditions. The Northern Territory’s economy isn’t a one-hit wonder, but recent years saw a Gangnam-style blockbuster hit the charts. As construction on the Ichthys project increasingly winds down and its export phase ramps up, the Territory’s challenging conditions won’t disappear for a while yet. The good news for the ACT is that, after the cutbacks and public sector hiring freezes of recent years, the Feds are returning to more of what might be considered business as usual. On top of that, the impact of lower interest rates on the ACT’s economy remains a powerful positive.   [post_title] => Gravity is starting to catch up with stupidity [post_excerpt] => There are a few worrying trends and signs on the horizon for Australian governments. 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Opinion