Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tony Abbott attacks Gillard over restrictions on legal immigration

Pauline Hanson is a generally conservative independent politician who is known for her criticism of Asian immigration.  Many of the skilled workers whom Gillard wants to bar are also Asian.  Abbott is generally sympathetic to minorities so is appalled by Gillard's stance

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has called Julia Gillard worse than Pauline Hanson and used the government's chief spin doctor's foreign worker visa to attack and mock legislation to crackdown on 457 visas.

After accusing the government of "dog whistling" and creating a distraction from its failure to stop tens of thousands of asylum seekers arriving on boats, Mr Abbott told Parliament the Prime Minister was dividing Australia.

"I never thought I would see the day it wouldn't just be an independent Member of Parliament, a disendorsed member of a political party but it would be the PM of this country (seeking) to deliberately divide Australian from Australian to serve a political purpose, it is an embarrassment," he said.

The proposed laws which would force employers to market test and advertise to prove no Australian was available to fill a position was "false patriotism from a failing government," he claimed.

Mr Abbott mocked Ms Gillard's head of communications John McTernan, who is working in Australia on a 457 visa, calling his employment a case of "complete hypocricy."

"I've got nothing against the Prime Minister having someone working in her own office on a 457 visa, if he is the only person who can do the job, fair enough," he said, mocking the new legislation.

"For all I know there wasn't a single Australian capable of giving political advice to the current Prime Minister. For all I know not a single Australian wanted the job.

"I don't say that person is stealing the job of an Australian, I assume that person is making a unique and special contribution to our country. But if it is right in the PM's office, why isn't right for the other employers in this country?

"If the PM didn't have to advertise, if the PM didn't have to engage in six months of labour market testing why should every other employer in this country?"

He claimed the government "can't get tough on illegal arrivals by boat so they've decided to get tough on legal arrivals by plane."

"It is happening because this government has a political problem. Never mind the facts, never mind that everyone who has seriously looked at this knows the system is working well and if there are one or two problems or abusers they can be sorted out in the normal course of events," he said.

"The government has got a political problem, so what do they do? They look for someone to blame, they look for more people to demonise in their attempt to hold onto office.

"This government has a serious political problems, it's the border protection disaster which has meant since August 2008 we've had more than 700 illegal boats, we have had more than 44,000 illegal arrivals by boat. A problem this government cannot solve, a problem this government has effectively surrendered to the people smugglers."


ALP MPs kept in dark on disastrous Labor poll which predicts election wipeout

AN internal ALP report containing polling for 40 seats across Australia, and circulated among selected members of Julia Gillard's leadership group, shows Labor would be lucky to retain 30 to 35 seats after the election.

But the report has not been shared with most Labor MPs.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained data from the party's UMR research report compiled for the ALP national secretariat in the past two weeks.

It shows that in NSW, the swing against Labor is 10 to 12 per cent on average and warns it would lose 12 seats in NSW, the majority in Sydney.

In WA, the report warns of a wipe-out with the party unlikely to retain any seats, but for the outside chance of keeping Fremantle.

In SA, it would keep only two seats, including Kingston.

It would lose all four seats in Tasmania. The polling report shows that independent Andrew Wilkie would keep Denison, however.

It would also lose its two seats in the Northern Territory. In Victoria, it has forecast the loss of eight seats.

And in Queensland, Labor would be left with only Kevin Rudd's seat of Griffith and possibly the seat of Oxley.

A senior ALP source confirmed that a select group of cabinet ministers in the leadership group were aware of the report but had declined to circulate it or share the results with MPs at risk of losing their seats.

It warns that Labor, with an overall primary vote of 32 per cent, would likely only retain between 30 and 35 seats in the 150 seat House of Representatives - a loss of more than half its existing MPs.

The report showing the polling results of 40 seats across the country also reveals that the swings were twice as bad in seats held by Labor than those it didn't hold - confirming the electorate was now intent on punishing Labor.

"This reduces us to a rump. I'm not sure people realise this is going to be a defeat of the likes the Labor Party has never seen," the ALP source said.

Several MPs last night, when told of the report, demanded that the results be shared with the caucus.

The polling report comes on the back of analysis by The Daily Telegraph warning that Labor would also likely be stripped of any influence in the Senate, with the Coalition being delivered command of the numbers in both houses of parliament.

Yesterday Rudd supporter and veteran ALP strategist and campaigner Bruce Hawker warned that the Labor Party and the trade union movement risked oblivion if it lost its ability to influence the Senate - with Labor and the Greens likely to be able to command no more than 36 votes out of the 76.


Australia's banks are top of the world again

At the risk of being totally obnoxious, I note that about half of my portfolio is in Australian bank stock

Australia's big four banks have been ranked the most profitable in the developed world for the third year running, reigniting criticism about their market dominance.

With big bank profits likely to exceed $26 billion this year, figures show the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB made better returns last year than lenders in 10 major developed countries, including Canada, the US, Britain and Europe.

In figures to be published on Monday, the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements says pre-tax profits of the big four were equal to 1.18 per cent of their total assets.

This puts Australian banks well ahead of all other wealthy countries on the list, with lenders only in the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China making better returns.

The league table shows Australian banks have lower costs than most of their peers and enjoy wider interest margins, a measure of profitability from lending. After the banks failed to pass on official interest rate cuts in full to borrowers last year, consumer group Choice seized on the results as a sign of feeble competition.

Its head of campaigns, Matt Levey, said the figures undermined bank claims that conditions were tough, an argument banks made last year to justify unpopular decisions on mortgage rates.

"It shows we have inadequate competitive pressure in that market. We still have don't have a situation where consumers are willing enough to look beyond the big four banks," he said.

"These are institutions which enjoy a privileged position in the community. They are supported to a huge extent by government and taxpayers and in return I don't think we are seeing the amount of competitive pressure that we deserve to see," he said.

The big four control 83 per cent of the lucrative mortgage market, after several smaller lenders were taken over during the global financial crisis.

In late 2010, the Gillard government made changes designed to put more competitive pressure on the big four and the issue will be examined again as part of a financial system inquiry if the Coalition wins government in September.

But the chief executive of the Australian Bankers' Association, Steven Munchenberg, said the banks' superior profits were explained by the economy's resilience. Most other countries on the list had been in the economic doldrums in recent years.

"There's a little bit of the Steven Bradbury effect - we've been doing so well because everyone else has fallen over," Mr Munchenberg said.

"The big difference between Australia and the rest of the world is we've had 20 plus years of uninterrupted economic growth."

But even before the crisis, the figures show Australian banking was a highly profitable business. Among developed countries, only the US had more profitable banks between 2000 and 2007.

In response to a sharp slowdown in loan growth since the global financial crisis, banks have embarked on deep job cuts. The Finance Sector Union says the big four cut more than 3300 positions last year, and 1300 jobs so far this year.

After it emerged last week that ANZ was considering sending 590 jobs overseas, the union's national secretary Leon Carter said the profit numbers from the Bank for International Settlements showed banks were "sacrificing" their staff for shareholder gain. The figures also showed Australian banks' operating costs were the fourth lowest among their peers after Sweden, France and Japan, at 1.19 per cent of assets.

Net interest margins were third highest among banks in developed countries, while provisions for bad loans were in the middle of the pack.

The BIS also ranked Australian banks as the most profitable in the developed world in 2011 and 2010. The latest report said Australian banks had "consolidated" the gains of previous years.


Spring Gully offers creditors full payment

A victory for sentiment.  I am pleased to say that I too bought some of their products recently, via Dick Smith. 

Background: A small family firm that has been making quality products for generations was losing out to cheap supermarket brands largely sourced from overseas.  Sympathy was aroused

Jams and pickles maker Spring Gully and its administrator say creditors can expect to be paid in full, in instalments, if they approve a management plan at a meeting next Monday.

Copies of a deed of company arrangement were sent to creditors last week by administrator Austin Taylor.

They outlined a return to profitable levels for Spring Gully's normal business operations due to strong sales and said creditors would get an initial downpayment then quarterly payments until the debt was cleared.

Spring Gully managing director Kevin Webb said strong support from shoppers had allowed the offer to repay 100 cents in the dollar.

"The support that we've been given by our consumers, everybody to be honest, through the corporate world, the media, through our customers, other retailers and I think we all know that the support has been absolutely amazing for Spring Gully," he said.

"Through that support, and what's been happening over the last two months as we've traded very strongly, we've been able to put together this proposal that, if the creditors decide to accept it on the first of July, we will then sign that with our creditors and move forward."

After Spring Gully ran into financial strife this year, retailers and customers showed overwhelming support for its range of food products.


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