Are the fundamentals really sound?

Depending on how deeply the rivers of gold are flowing from China, the various policy options open to the government might put the political promise of a budget surplus at risk. But pursuing a surplus at the cost of jobs and wages would have its own political consequences and is likely to be economically irresponsible.

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Five ways to follow Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke’s memorial service last week reminds us not only of what was achieved by Hawke, Keating and their cabinets in fashioning Australia’s open, competitive economy, but what could be achieved for the future by building upon their model. Speeches delivered by prime minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese signalled a level of bipartisan support for the Hawke-Keating model, but self-evidently the reforms of three decades ago cannot simply be repeated.

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ScoMo's first job: dealing with a downturn

By now, Treasury officials will be making their way to meet the Treasurer, carrying their blue book – the incoming government brief. It will contain Treasury’s economic and fiscal forecasts. They will confirm a slowing economy and a deteriorating budget bottom line, making it challenging for the government to keep all its election promises.

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Coalition’s ineffective fig leaf would increase energy prices and emissions

Australia’s major business organisations complain about the damaging effects of a decade of climate wars. A re-elected Coalition government would continue to wage those wars as the rest of the world moved on to curb its emissions. As Malcolm Turnbull warned on the weekend, the absence of a predictable policy framework, including a mechanism such as the National Energy Guarantee, would result in both higher emissions and higher energy prices.

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Why workers are going backwards

While the government boasts daily about its record on job creation, its message doesn’t resonate with the working Australians who were already in jobs when it took office in 2013. For every unemployed person back then 17 were in work. It seems the government expects the already employed to be grateful they still have a job.

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This fight is over standards of living

Amid the myriad political scandals of the recent parliamentary sitting fortnight, a report by the IMF on prospects for the Australian economy was released to a distracted Canberra press gallery. Among the IMF’s many economic projections was one measuring the material living standards of Australians. It received no coverage whatsoever. Yet in that official projection lays Australia’s economic challenge and the Morrison government’s immediate political challenge.

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Trumpism has arrived in Australia

President Trump has arrived in Australia. Well, not physically but certainly in spirit. Throughout his term, Trump has traduced America’s institutions: the public service, the security agencies, the courts and, until the mid-term elections, the Congress – all put in place to curb the excesses of executive government. While Trumpism isn’t yet entrenched in Canberra, it has gained a foothold.  

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It won't be business as usual under Labor

When you change the government you change the country. So said Paul Keating. He was right back then, and he’ll be right again if the Australian people soon elect a Shorten Labor government. For the many company executives asking what that change will mean, Labor will support entrepreneurship and the creation of jobs and wealth while expecting companies to pay their fair share of tax, compete in an open economy and play their part in rebuilding trust in the nation’s institutions. 

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Business needs to get real on climate

The looming election will determine the course our nation takes on an issue of vital importance not only for humankind, but for Australian businesses as well. If business organisations such as the Business Council of Australia (BCA) persist with their support for the Morrison government’s carbon-emissions target of a 26 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030, they will position their members as being opposed to meaningful action on climate change. 

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The price of political madness

Political madness has its price. This year the price will be paid. China’s re-emergence is putting the United States under enormous internal political pressure. The US is crumbling under that pressure, failing the first real test of its global dominance in the post-war era. Europe, too, is struggling to sustain its war-driven commitment to peaceful economic integration, as Britain’s political geniuses execute the idea of leaving Europe to relive the empire’s glory days. Here in Australia, conservatives who yearn for a bygone white, Christian-dominated colonial era have terrorised Liberal Party moderates, carrying out their threat to destroy the Coalition village in order to save it.

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This is a de facto budget designed to fight an early election

If you’re wondering what might be in next year’s budget, you need look no further than yesterday’s mid-year fiscal and economic update. It is designed to give the Morrison government the option of cancelling parliament and going to an election earlier than the May 2019 date built into the parliamentary sitting calendar released three weeks ago. But is this de facto budget, like the economy, built on a house of cards?

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Jerusalem embassy: how a great FTA deal became an albatross

Since before the Wentworth by-election the Morrison government has been insisting it can put Australia’s embassy in Israel wherever it wants. But just as obviously, other countries can react to any decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in any way they want. It’s this second ‘obviously’ that seems to have escaped the architects of this reckless announcement. 

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