Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Prime Minster warns of recession under Labor government

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered a stinging sledge against Bill Shorten — and warned that everyday Australians would be $200 billion worse off under a Labor government.

Speaking at the Australian Financial Review’s business summit this morning, Mr Morrison said the economic policies of both major parties were more dramatically different than they had been in 40 years.

As he made the case for re-election at the looming federal election, he argued that it was the “truth” that the country’s economy would be weakened if Labor won power, hinting at a return to 90s-era recession.

“Between 1960 and 1991 the Australian economy had six recessions — since 1991 it has had 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth. That’s an extraordinary national achievement and it’s arguably our most significant national achievement,” he told the audience.

“I’m saying the economy will be weaker under Labor — that’s exactly what I’m saying.

“They’re going to put $200 billion worth of taxes and take Australia’s industrial relations system back to the times when we had recessions in this country.”

But he stopped short of actually predicting a recession under a Shorten government, saying instead that “history would show” whether that would come to pass.

When asked if he was being “alarmist”, Mr Morrison simply replied: “I think it’s the truth.”

Mr Morrison said Australians would be facing a “very stark choice” at the election and urged voters to consider what an alternative government would mean for the economy for the next decade.

He said the 2019 election would have a “profound impact” on the economy. “Labor can do a lot of damage in only one term,” he argued.

He boasted of the Coalition’s economic track record — including maintaining Australia’s triple-A credit rating, record low unemployment and high female participation, the creation of more than 1.2 million jobs since 2013 and the lowest rate of welfare dependency in three decades.

“We are faced with the most important election in decades — there’s a big choice to make that will have an impact for the next 10 years,” he said.

“I haven’t seen so much hubris from an Opposition — they think they’re already there and they can’t wait to get their hands on the power so they can wield it against their list of enemies — and on that list are retirees, small and family businesses, those with investment properties … they’re the real targets.

“A Shorten Labor government would not be a slightly more progressive version of the Coalition government. It would be an economic leap in the dark.”

The prime minister also warned of the ALP’s penchant for raising taxes — and delivered a brutal sledge at the Opposition leader’s expense.

“The answer to every question for Labor is higher taxes — anything they want to do, they hit you up for more. You end up paying every time you see Bill Shorten’s lips move,” he said.

However, according to Fairfax, that $200 billion figure touted by Mr Morrison is a government estimate of revenue raised over 10 years via Labor’s plans, including both new policies — such as proposed changed to negative gearing and capital gains tax — as well as Labor’s plan to scrap Coalition tax cuts that haven’t come into effect yet.

Mr Shorten will have his chance to refute Mr Morrison’s claims when he fronts the summit tomorrow morning.

According to the latest Newspoll, the Coalition is trailing behind Labor 47 to 53 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

It was the third survey in a row which saw Labor come out on top, with the election tipped to be held in May.


Treasurer’s super war on activists

The Morrison government is weighing up new powers to ­prevent industry super fund managers, responsible for $630 billion in retirement savings, from using their financial leverage over ­publicly listed companies to advance the political ­objectives of militant ­unions.

Josh Frydenberg yesterday wrote to the prudential regulator urging it to consider whether it had the “appropriate powers” to ensure union-appointed super trustees did not pursue political objectives at the expense of members’ best interests.

The Treasurer’s move comes after the ACTU backed the Maritime Union of Australia’s high-profile campaign for industry funds to pressure BHP and BlueScope Steel into reversing a contentious decision not to renew a legacy contract for two Australian-crewed vessels — the last servicing the iron-ore industry.

Mr Frydenberg yesterday sounded the alarm on financial activism, warning that unions were “openly pressuring superannuation funds to use their leverage over listed companies and their management”.

“This is a dangerous development and could potentially undermine the integrity of our $2.7 trillion superannuation system,” he told The Australian. “Superannuation is not a plaything for union bosses nor a platform for pushing their industrial relations agenda.”

Industry funds operate an equal-representation board model, meaning they appoint ­directors from unions and ­employer groups. Together, they have $631bn of assets under management — more financial power than the bank-run retail fund sector ($622bn), or public sector funds ($462bn).

With the industry fund sector set to manage more than $1 trillion by 2024, the government is concerned at activist investors using the savings of disengaged workers to dictate how companies operate.

In a letter sent yesterday to Australian Prudential Regulation Authority chairman Wayne Byres, Mr Frydenberg said it was “important that the public have confidence that (superannuation) trustees are discharging their duties in accordance with their legal obligations”.

He said it was important to have “satisfactory arrangements” in place for trustees to “manage any associated conflicts of interests such that members’ interests are preferred”.

Mr Frydenberg said that, given the scale of Australia’s super ­industry, which is bigger than the entire market capitalisation of the local sharemarket, these issues “take on even more significance and present wider risks to the economy”.

“I seek your urgent advice as to APRA’s views regarding these matters, including whether APRA has the appropriate powers to ensure that trustees are meeting their obligations in regards to these legal duties,” he said.

The nation’s biggest superannuation fund, the $140bn AustralianSuper — which draws board directors from the ACTU — recently joined forces with a group of large investors known as Climate Action 100+ to force global commodities powerhouse Glencore to limit coal production.

The activist investor group has 12 other Australian companies in its sights, including BHP, BlueScope, Rio Tinto, Qantas, Woodside and Woolworths.

Meanwhile, BlueScope and BHP are already facing pressure from industry funds over plans to import iron ore from Brazil rather than Western Australia. Bill Shorten, who has been under pressure from the MUA to establish a “strategic fleet” of ships that could be requisitioned by the government in a crisis, faces a looming battle with the industry funds over proposals to dismantle the sector’s stranglehold over the nation’s retirement savings pool.

The proposal from Kenneth Hayne’s banking royal commission to ensure workers are given only one super account for life threatens to dismantle the present system in which industrial awards nominate default super accounts for workers. These overwhelmingly favour industry funds to the tune of $30bn in contributions each year.

Attaching civil penalties to breaches of super laws that require directors to act in the best interests of members — a royal commission recommendation passed by the Senate — will also allow the Australian Securities & Investments Commission to intervene in more cases.

Mr Hayne, a former High Court judge, said all funds “must also recognise and deal with conflicts between the interests of members and the interests of shareholders or nominating ­organisations”.

Mr Frydenberg told The Australian that superannuation was the product of the “hard work of all members and represents their nest egg in retirement”.

“It must be protected,” he said. “It’s time Bill Shorten distanced himself from his union masters and condemned this aggressive union behaviour.

“His continued silence on these issues confirms what we already know — that Labor is on the side of the unions, not the superannuation members.”

The concern over union influence comes as the industry-fund sector braces for significant structural change after the Morrison government secured passage of legislation through the Senate last month consolidating $6bn worth of low-balance inactive super accounts through the Australian Taxation Office.

The rules will force a wide array of smaller funds to seek mergers with larger funds when they are cut off from the fee revenue siphoned from inactive ­accounts. These include the CFMEU-backed $3bn First Super, where 44 per cent of members are inactive, and the $3bn Club Super, which is backed by United Voice and the Australian Workers Union and had 42 per cent of its members considered inactive.

The $1bn Meat Industry Employees Superannuation Fund has 36 per cent of its membership inactive, the same rate as the $3bn United Voice backed Intrust Super Fund.

Several funds in the system, including First Super, are reluctant to leave the industry or merge, even under pressure from APRA. According to KPMG national superannuation leader Paul Howes, the former national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, the options available to sub-scale superannuation funds in terms of mergers with other funds of an equal size are quickly shrinking.


Child care boss’s mammoth payday, while you fork out more

WHILE parents scrape together the cash to send their children to child care, the boss of one of the industry’s biggest providers has just accepted a $100,000 pay rise.

From January 1, Gold Coast-based G8 Education’s CEO Gary Carroll salary reached $840,000, including superannuation, after a review of his pay saw it significantly boosted, the organisation’s annual report revealed.

On top of that he will be receiving a healthy bonus.

It follows The Courier-Mail revealing the average cost of childcare had risen $302 a year, or up to $480 a year for parents with children in care 48 weeks a year.

The huge pay packet and pay rise has been slammed as being out of touch with community expectations, particularly given the industry is taxpayer subsidised, while Labor’s early education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said “parents have a right to be angry”.

In the 2018 financial year Mr Carroll took home $760,290 and a $145,000 bonus payment taking his total salary to $905,290.

It is well in-excess of the Prime Minister’s salary of about $540,000, while the pay rise is higher than the average full-time yearly wage of $82,000.

As his pay soared, the company’s profits dropped in the 2018 calendar year from $80 million to $71 million.

By comparison, not-for-profit Goodstart Early Learning’s nine executives still took home an average of $355,222 in the 2018 financial year, which was a 2 per cent increase.

Smaller child care provider C&K pays its nine executives an average of $167,000, while KU Children’s Services’s seven executives are paid an average of $252,000 a year, both based on the most recent annual report from 2017.

A G8 Education spokeswoman said: “The Board sets the remuneration package for the Chief Executive Officer and other executive leaders using independent expert advice and utilising market benchmarks in line with businesses of comparable size and complexity.”

Ms Rishworth said the pay rise and salary were not within community expectations.

“Whilst it is up to these companies to justify to parents and educators the pay rises they are giving to their CEOs, parents and educators have a right to be angry,” Ms Rishworth said.

“Families are paying more than ever for child care, and educators are among the lowest paid workers in the community.”

Ms Rishworth said it was “unacceptable” for providers to give executives massive pay rises while the Commonwealth spent $8 billion a year on the sector.


Pauline Hanson slams Scott Morrison's government as 'gutless and weak' for not granting Milo Yiannopoulos an Australian visa over protest fears

Senator Pauline Hanson has slammed the Scott Morrison government for not immediately approving a visa for right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos.

The One Nation leader said she has contacted Minister for Immigration David Coleman through letters, texts and phone calls - urging the government to grant Yiannopoulos a visiting visa ahead of his second Australian tour. 

'You may not agree with everything that they say as long as they don't go out there and advocate violence,' Ms Hanson told on Sky News Australia on Tuesday. 'If you actually want to stop someone. Stop the protesters with their violence.'

The conservative provocateur and anti-feminist had initially planned a speaking tour to Australia with far-right commentator Ann Coulter in December but was cancelled 'due to unforeseen circumstances'.

Outraged ticket-holders who demanded a refund, were instead offered to attend the 'Deplorables' speaking tour with Yiannopoulos, convicted criminal Tommy Robinson and self-described 'western chauvinist' Gavin McInnes.

The Deplorables tour was rescheduled to February 2019 but has been cancelled for the second time because the visa applications were still being considered by government authorities.

Ms Hanson claims Mr Coleman had told her he would have an answer regarding Yiannopoulos' visa by Monday when she contacted him on Friday. 'I rang him on the Monday. Still haven't heard anything,' she said. 'They're trying to keep me at bay and they still wouldn't make an answer.'

'I think that is weak. I think it's gutless. He has no reason for keeping Milo not coming into the country or Tommy Robinson.'

Robinson was jailed for endangering the trial of a group of sex attackers last year, then freed when his conviction was quashed on appeal. 

Mr McInnes' visa was refused, with the denial being appealed.

Yiannopoulos' is known for his commentaries mocking left-wing political correctness and feminists.

His Sydney speaking tour in 2017 attracted about 100 protestors who chanted 'f*** off Nazi', which led to seven arrests.

His Melbourne leg of the tour was even more violent, with police forced to use sticks to keep the demonstrators at bay.

Ms Hanson has blamed protesters for being the ones who instigate violence.

A statement from the Immigration Department to Yiannopoulos warned it is likely to deny him entry because there was a 'risk' he would 'incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community'.

The letter outlined the protests at his Sydney and Melbourne events as one reason for his likely ban, the Herald Sun reported.

'You were issued a bill of $50,00 by Victoria Police for the cost of your policing event,' the letter read. 

'They're the ones that should be stopped but they're reluctant to do it because the police are told not to do anything about them,' she said.

'I blame state governments and I blame local authorities.'


 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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