Thursday, September 05, 2019

A wonderful Brisbane afternoon in winter

For people who like warm weather -- as I do -- Brisbane is a great place.  Even our winter afternoons are almost always warm.  But yesterday Brisbane really excelled itself.  The midafternoon temperature was 34C -- which is a normal SUMMER temperature for Brisbane.

Warmists would regard that as a global catastrophe but for Brisbane people it is just a part of normal variations.  And if Brisbane people carry on regardless in such temperatures, does anyone need to fear the one or two degees of warming that the climate fanatics foam about?

Where many countries are experiencing negative economic growth, Australia is still growing -- But that's not good enough for the Left

Considering that Australia has also just had the first positive balance of payments for many years, you would think that a decent Left would rise to some sort of congratulations -- but no such luck

Australia’s economic growth has fallen to the lowest level since the global financial crisis but Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he “can’t see” the country falling into recession.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Wednesday confirmed gross domestic product grew by 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, dragging year-on-year growth to 1.4 per cent.

The result was slightly better than some predictions of as low as 0.2 per cent, or 1.1 per cent year-on-year. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the result was “a repudiation to all those who sought to talk it down”.

Addressing a media conference in Canberra, Mr Frydenberg was hit with a particularly brutal question. “Are you saying you’re happy with the worst economic growth in a decade because you thought it might have been worse?” a journalist asked.

Mr Frydenberg responded that it was “a challenging environment”. “People were speculating in the media about a negative growth number in the quarter,” he said.

The Treasurer stressed that “significantly, these numbers do not incorporate the passage through parliament of the most significant tax cuts in more than 20 years and the full impact of the RBA’s decision to reduce interest rates by 50 basis points”.

“As of today, the ATO has issued more than 5.5 million refunds totalling more than $14 billion. This money is flowing through to households and will be reflected in the September quarter,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg said the combination of tax and interest rate cuts, the stabilisation of the housing market, continued spending on infrastructure and a more positive outlook for investment in the resources sector had “led the RBA governor to say there are signs the economy may have reached a ‘gentle turning point’”.

The GDP figure “shows the Australian economy continues to grow in the face of significant headwinds”. “It’s a difficult time for global economies, with Singapore, Sweden, Germany and the UK all having negative economic growth in their June quarters,” he said.

“The IMF and the OECD have both downgraded their global economic growth forecasts. In the face of these challenges and the uncertainty created by increasing trade tensions between China and the US, the Australian economy has again proven its remarkable resilience.”

Mr Frydenberg added that “the only people who are disappointed with today’s national accounts” were Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers “because their efforts to talk down the Australian economy have not succeeded”.

“New national accounts data shows slowest annual economic growth in a decade on the Liberals’ watch and yet still no plan to turn things around,” Mr Chalmers earlier wrote on Twitter.

It came after Mr Morrison defended his government’s economic management, telling 3AW’s Neil Mitchell conditions had “softened” but that Australia was doing better than many other developed countries.

Asked if Australia was facing a recession, Mr Morrison said he “can’t see us going into that territory”. “Let’s remember, Germany just had a negative quarter of growth, the UK just had a negative quarter of growth. Australia hasn’t,” he said.

“Today’s growth figures will show over the year a softness … what we will see is that in a tough climate we are actually battling away quite well. I’m not surprised by the difficulties we’re seeing globally at the moment. When we put the budget together in May I said we should cut taxes, we should spend more on infrastructure, I said we should invest more in skills transitioning.”

The Morrison government is banking on tax refunds and low interest rates to bolster the economy.

The current account surplus revealed on Tuesday — the first in 44 years on the back of strong export volumes of coal, iron ore and liquid natural gas — is set to contribute about 0.6 per cent to GDP growth.

“I was pretty pleased with the current account numbers that came out yesterday,” Mr Morrison said on 3AW. “That’s the first current account surplus that we’ve had since 1975, I mean Skyhooks were leading the charts back then. Our export performance today has been quite extraordinary. That’s been building up over many years. The work we’ve done to build our export markets over the last five years is really paying dividends now and we’re going to keep expanding those, both with the European Union and the UK.”

HSBC, however, sees the current account surplus as “more of a negative than a positive development”. “The current account surplus implies net foreign capital outflow rather than inflow and a lack of investment relative to local saving,” the bank said in a research note.

“Australia’s current account deficits, which it has had for almost all of its history, reflect that the country has good growth prospects, but insufficient local saving — partly due to a small population — to fund all of the investment that should be done.”

A current account surplus “thereby could imply that growth prospects do not appear as strong or that there is less investment happening than would be ideal”, HSBC said.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison rejected suggestions the tax cuts had failed to stimulate the economy. “That’s a ridiculous comment,” he told 3AW. “The figures that are coming out today are for the June quarter. The tax cuts were passed in the September quarter. Of course I am (confident they’ll work).”

The weak growth figure — on top of Tuesday’s weak retail trade results — will be seized on by Labor as a sign of a government which has no plan for the economy.

However, Mr Frydenberg believes trade deals, a $100 billion infrastructure plan, funding for training and skills, record low interest rates and income tax cuts will deliver better results in the final part of the year.

The Australian Taxation Office told AAP it had now received over 7.8 million individual 2019 tax return lodgements — a 15 per cent increase on the previous year.

“We have issued over 5.5 million individual 2019 income tax refunds with a total value of over $14.2 billion,” an ATO spokeswoman said.

Retail spending fell by an unexpected 0.1 per cent in July, missing forecasts of a 0.2 per cent rise. The biggest fall was in spending on cafes, restaurants and takeaway services.

The Reserve Bank, which kept the cash rate on hold at 1 per cent on Tuesday, flagged it would ease rates further “if needed to support sustainable growth”.

The outlook for the global economy remained “reasonable”, the RBA said, although the risks were tilted to the downside. “A further gradual lift in wages growth would be a welcome development,” RBA Governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.


Tanya Day inquest: officer denies ‘false stories’ about extremely drunk woman

Drunks can be extremely hard to handle -- and Aborigines particularly so.  But when an Aborigine dies, the police are always suspected

The police officer responsible for making welfare checks on an Aboriginal grandmother who died after banging her head in police custody has denied he told paramedics “false stories”.

Leading Senior Constable Danny Wolters denied to an inquiry into the 2017 death of Tanya Day that he had been misleading when he told paramedics the Yorta Yorta woman had hit her head just once.

“I don’t believe I put together any false stories,” he said in response to questioning by Peter Morrissey SC, who is representing Day’s family. “I referred to observations.”

Sen Con Wolters said he went up to Day's cells at 4.51pm and asked her if she was OK and she replied that she was.

Footage played to the inquest on Tuesday shows Day, who was heavily intoxicated, lying on her cell bed during checks at 4.17pm and 4.50pm. At 4.51pm she tumbled over the cell bench and smashed her forehead against a wall. The inquest heard the fall was ­ultimately fatal.

Day, 55, was arrested for being drunk on a train on December 5 in 2017. The coronial inquiry is examining the role systemic racism played in her death.

The inquest heard on Tuesday Sen Con Wolters asked to alter the timing of physical checks on Day from every 20 minutes to every 40 minutes, saying the physical checks were disturbing her.

The inquest heard he checked on her alternatively through the cell window and using CCTV, partly because of staffing issues due to Castlemaine police holding their Christmas party that day.


Fair Work Commission upholds BP sacking of worker over Hitler  parody

No free speech for extreme abuse

BP’s sacking of a technician for sharing a Downfall parody video the company said compared its managers to Nazis has been upheld by the Fair Work Commission.

Process technician Scott Tracey said the video was intended to be a humorous parody of long-running enterprise bargaining negotiations at the BP’s Kwinana refinery in Western Australia.

The video is an extract from the German language film Downfall which portrays the final days of Adolf Hitler’s life. Hitler responds in a highly agitated and aggressive manner to advice from his generals that the Nazis have lost the Second World War.

Mr Tracey said his wife used the Caption website to create the “Hitler Parody EA Negotiations”, adding subtitles that referenced comments made by BP management during the negotiations.

Mr Tracey shared the video with a private Facebook group whose members included refinery employees and also showed it to BP nightshift employees.

A BP investigation found Mr Tracey had been “involved in creating, and made available, shared and distributed an offensive and inappropriate video depicting BP representatives involved in the current …. negotiations as Nazis”. He was sacked and paid four weeks’ notice.

Rejecting his unfair dismissal claim, commission deputy president Melanie Binet said she was satisfied the video was “objectively inappropriate, offensive and “did cause offence to a number of BP employees”.

“The Hitler Video had the potential to undermine, demean and denigrate the BP senior management team amongst an audience which they were charged to lead,’’ she said.


Melbourne council bans residents from putting glass in recycling bin

This is recycling that has lost the plot.  Glass is one thing that can easily be recycled. So glass recycling should be made easy, not hard

A Melbourne council has banned residents from putting glass in their recycling bins, forcing them to either travel to recycle the items or to let them go into landfill.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council has warned residents that if they place glass in their yellow bin then its whole contents will have to be thrown in landfill.

The council was forced to implement the sudden ban after the company behind Victoria’s largest recycling processor went bust.

Recycling giant SKM collapsed owing more than $100 million to creditors, and after a series of factory fires and government shutdowns because of stockpiling safety risks.

The shutdown affected more than 32 councils across the state, with Macedon Ranges Shire Council being one of them.

“Council has identified a recycling company which will process the shire’s recycling going forward as long as glass is removed and the other recyclables are not contaminated,” the Council said.

“Shards and small pieces of glass can become embedded in paper and cardboard in recycling bins and contaminate the other recyclables.”

In the coming weeks the council plans to install public skip bins around the area which residents can use to dispose of their glass.

But until then people that want to recycle their glass items will be forced to travel to one of three transfer stations in Kyneton, Woodend or Romsey.

For those residents that can’t make the trip or simply refuse, the council had one final suggestion. “As a last resort, glass can be placed in general rubbish bins,” the Council said.

The plan to remove glass from the mixed recycling bins was endorsed at an Ordinary Council Meeting last Wednesday.

A decision was also made to investigate whether to introduce a fourth bin that would be used for glass only.

Some people living in Lancefield are exempt from travelling to dispose of their glass as they have been provided with a special glass only bin as part of the trial.

Along with installing the public bins and introducing the glass bin trial, the Council also announced is allocated funds over temporary higher landfill costs and cover additional required staff and resources.

The Council will meet again in October to consider long-term options for recycling, like rolling out the fourth glass only bin across the shire.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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