Monday, March 25, 2019

Shooters party, who want to ease Australia's strict gun regulations,  take two lower house seats with MASSIVE swings in State election - just one week after 50 people were killed in Christchurch mosque massacre

Clearly, country people are worrying about what IS happening rather than what MIGHT happen

A minor party that wants to weaken gun laws has tripled its number of lower house seats in Australia's biggest state - just one week after 50 people were shot dead in the Christchurch massacre.

The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party retained Orange with a 37 per cent swing towards them and picked up two more seats, Barwon and Murray, with massive double digit swings against the National Party.

They now have the same number of seats in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly as the Greens following Saturday's state election, with more than 100,000 voters backing them.

Third-time Shooters party candidate Helen Dalton resoundingly defeated Nationals candidate Austin Evans in the seat of Murray, which stretches along the Victorian border.

She secured a swing of 27.8 per cent against the Nationals, more than overcoming a 3.3 per cent margin in a seat previously held by former state education minister Adrian Piccoli.

Ms Dalton confirmed her victory on Saturday evening, writing on Facebook that Mr Evans had called to concede defeat.  

'I'd like to congratulate him on a gruelling and hard fought campaign,' she said. 'This has been an amazing performance by all of you. I'd like to offer my sincere thank you to every volunteer and every person who voted for me. 'I'm extremely honoured to be able to end 35 years of National rule and look forward to representing you as YOUR member for Murray.'

The Shooters are also on track to grab the state's largest seat, Barwon, which stretches from Walgett, Narrabri and Coonabarabran in the east to Broken Hill and the South Australian border.

Shooters candidate Roy Butler led the race on Saturday night with a 21.5 per cent swing against the Nationals.

The Shooters party won the seat of Orange in a 2016 by-election. Philip Donato retain that seat on Saturday with a 37.2 per cent swing. His primary vote of 50.6 per cent was double that of his National Party opponent Kate Hazelton.

The Nationals, previously known as the Country Party, had held this seat in the state's Central West from 1947 until the 2016 by-election.

The Shooters want the government to stop recording ammunition sales and are pushing a controversial plan to allow former police and army officers to grant gun licences and exempt them from paying any fees.  

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, who was also a state Country and National Party MP for 13 years, said the Shooters party was influenced by the American National Rifle Association and presented a real threat to gun laws in NSW.

'It's not helped if the Shooters party were to win an outright balance of power and multiple seats in both houses,' Mr Fischer told Daily Mail Australia on Friday.

'The National Rifle Association in the USA is still a presence on the internet.'

Mr Fischer, who championed national gun laws in 1996, said 'any wholesale chipping away of the gun laws' was a risk to 'children's safety and community safety' in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre.

Outgoing Shooters MP Robert Brown hit back at Mr Fischer's suggestion his party was influenced by the NRA and downplayed the possibility of them securing changes to gun laws.

'Bulls***. You can quote me on that,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 'Tim Fischer is telling lies.'

The massive swings come just one week after 50 Muslim worshippers were gunned down during Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch.


A fading national party is a problem for the PM

Maybe but the "lost" votes went to other conservative parties -- and coalitions are routine among right-leaning parties

The NSW elections have sent confidence-jolting shudders through the Nationals federally and will have the Morrison Coalition government wobbling at the knees.

The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and One Nation went from fringe presences in non-metropolitan areas to conspicuous rivals to the Nationals, previously the sole political proprietors of those electorates.

The guns-are-fun crowd and a party linked to racist views did well, as if the 50 Christchurch mosque murders just over a week earlier had no impact on NSW voters.

The central question for Prime Minister Scott Morrison now is: Wentworth or the bush?

Do the Nationals and Liberals concentrate on the issues such as climate change important to voters in the east Sydney electorate formerly held by Malcolm Turnbull? Or cater for the competing priorities of non-metropolitan Australia?

For example, does it bow to the coal mining/burning ambitions of central Queensland or the pursuit of renewables strongly pushed in Brisbane electorates?

And the shake-up which might be needed to bring the Nationals back into favour, could be just as uncomfortable as the NSW lessons.

“People who want to give rifles back to farmers are getting votes,” former Nationals federal leader Barnaby Joyce repeatedly said on Seven’s election night coverage.

Mr Joyce would then deny he supported the lifting of firearm restrictions, arguing he was pointing out the movement of votes, not calling for a policy change. But it was not clear.

Because Mr Joyce also raised complaints by non-metropolitan electorates they were being deprived use of river water which was being directed to environmental priorities, not their direct access.

And the former federal Water Minister was certainly calling for policy changes there.

Barnaby Joyce is campaigning as much for his return to the party leadership as much as for a reshaping of policy priorities, and not all his colleagues believe he has been helpful.

Liberal MP for North Sydney last night told ABC viewers Mr Joyce should “spend more time in Tamworth and less time on TV”.

The wannabe returned party leader made no mention of how much his private life might have turned off voters, particularly women.

There was little joy for Labor, of course, and a lesson in hoping negatives will give it federal victory.

The final campaign week blunders by state Labor leader Michael Daley cannot be held solely to blame for voter rejection.

NSW was the muscle of the ALP nationally and the failure Saturday was a further sign of political atrophy.

Just as the Morrison Coalition needs Queensland to hold firm, the ALP wants to maintain its NSW holdings at least in the election expected in May.

And it needs a demonstrable improvement in its standing in western Sydney, one which was not obvious on Saturday.

Prime Minister Morrison will rightly take heart from the result, aside from the Nationals’ embarrassments.

There is no equation connecting state election results to federal outcomes, but a winning party is easier to lead than one used to losing.


Larger home units on the way?

I am not at all sure of the logic here.  Owner-occupiers want big properties?  Some might but young people starting out are usually going to need small, affordable units to get a foot on the ladder

The property downturn may finally spell the end of the “dog box”.

As local and overseas investors flee en masse, property developers are struggling to get funding from banks, with a growing number of apartment buildings being delayed or abandoned altogether.

Non-bank lenders are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap — and the focus is turning away from the 20-storey high-rises and tiny one-bedroom apartments favoured by investors to larger units in smaller-scale developments targeted at owner-occupiers.

“There is a tailwind in terms of the demographics, especially the baby boomers who have more capital, as they make that transition to apartments for lifestyle reasons,” said David Chin, founder of investment advisory firm Basis Point.

“The larger two- and three-bedroom apartments still have a market. In Europe and (places like) Paris, it is quite common for apartments to be very large, three bedrooms, almost like homes. It sets the higher density living in three- four-, five-storey buildings, not high rises. It works and I think that will be more common in Australia.”

Mr Chin hosted a Deloitte seminar this week titled “Preparing for Pain and Gain in Western Sydney”, which discussed the coming “fast and furious times” amid the property downturn, slowing Chinese capital flows and US-China tensions.

Speaking on a panel discussing the role of non-bank lenders — both Australian “old money” and new “Chinese money” — Dorado Property co-founder Peter Packer highlighted the role of the sector in cushioning the falls in Brisbane.

“We were reading headlines about how that was going to crash and burn,” he said.

A number of major banks had funded construction projects without being covered by sales, which “meant you had expiring bank debt at completion of projects”.

“But us and a number of private lenders jumped into that market and refinanced that debt, usually with 18- to 24-month terms, putting requirements on the developers to slowly sell down their stock,” Mr Packer said.

“What it meant was that market never had the crash that (people) were talking about. That’s where non-bank lenders can help.”

Dorado Property is currently funding a number of projects in Perth and Brisbane. Mr Packer said successful developers were turning to “smaller projects, more boutique, higher-density areas, good locations”.

“They’ve generally moved away from investor focus (which meant) internal bedrooms, small floor plans,” he said.

“You’re getting more light, bright, airy apartments, they’re getting larger. Well designed, good apartments that owner-occupiers want to live in, but smaller-scale projects where you don’t have to go out and get a huge number of presales. That’s typically what needs to happen in a down market.”

REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee said the flood of investors and offshore buyers had “led to a lot of projects starting that would have otherwise not been able to start”.

“In many cases, particularly in Melbourne, developers selling to Asia were able to get projects up and running from that buyer group which from there have been sold more broadly into the market,” she said.

Concerns about apartment quality, amenity and overdevelopment have led to a number of states implementing minimum size requirements in the past few years to clamp down on so-called “dog boxes”.

Ms Conisbee said the changing environment meant developers were now having to set their sights on the three owner-occupier groups — first homebuyers, downsizers and upsizers.

“Downsizers are a key market, what they’re looking for is often quite bespoke apartments. They want greater choice in the layout, bigger apartments, they’re a bit more fussy about the type of fit-out,” she said.

First homebuyers, while more price driven, are also more discerning. “The better developers at the moment are looking at more communal areas, more places to hang out,” she said.

“They’re trying to create places that people want to live in as opposed to small apartments that don’t offer the best sense of community.”

David Mao, executive director with real estate investment firm White & Partners, told the Deloitte conference he still saw plenty of opportunities in the falling market.

“We see value everywhere — western Sydney, the north, the south,” he said. “We’re maintaining our discipline as long as we find the right asset at the right price.”

White & Partners sees the market as “not so much a down market but more of a moderating market”. “The run-up particularly in the last five years has been quite tremendous because of the low interest rate environment,” Mr Mao said.

“You saw asset prices reach historical highs. What we’re seeing currently is not so much that it’s down but it’s moderating such that the long-term average is reached.”

Paul Zahara, executive director of Austar Fund Management, was optimistic about the outlook for the market.

“I think we’re in a fortunate position where if you look at previous downturns there’s been grave imbalances between the supply and demand situation,” he said.

“We’ve got generally a balance between supply and demand at the moment. Even though we’ve got affordability issues, the supply and demand situation isn’t bent out of shape. That’s a dramatic contrast to previous downturns, 1991, 1974.”

A property cycle can come off a peak in one of two ways. “It’s like a balloon, you can either pop the balloon or you can let the air out,” Mr Zahara said.

“This time we’ve done a pretty good job of letting the air out of the balloon, we haven’t seen the major pop. For me 1991 was a major, major crisis. We’ve done a very good job this time of managing that decrease in the property market.

“The banks pulled back, the government’s gotten involved, developers have realised what’s going on.”


A realistic population policy?

We did not get that this week from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. We got an announceable. He announced that net immigration will be capped at 160,000 a year for the next four years. Previously it was nominally 190,000, but even so it was only a tad over 160,000 last year anyway.

So there is really no change from the short-term growth mania that profits the big end of town who are all donors to major parties, particularly the Coalition.

But so close to the election we have to have an annouceable that something is being done about congestion. Part of that was a populist system of work visas that demands that recipients live away from of the major cities for three to five years or forfeit any chance of permanent residency.

This is the great ebb and flow of Australian politics. Promise what the people really want in the weeks leading up to an election in the most imprecise but expansive terms possible and afterwards just pander to the big-growth donors.

The Coalition’s so-called population policy has no chance of reducing congestion or infrastructure shortages.

While fish are dying in Murray-Darling and we are facing droughts, floods, under-employment, unemployment, homelessness, housing shortages, crowded schools and hospital waiting lists, the message should be that Australia is full.

Now is precisely the wrong time to lock in four years of 160,000 net immigration – that is 640,000 people or one and a half Canberras.

Canberra has struggled to build just one short track of light rail over the past decade. Its schools and hospitals struggle, yet it is considered among the nation’s best.

The infrastructure maths, like exponential growth, is little understood.

But look at it this way. Given the average piece of infrastructure – road, hospital, signpost, fence etc – lasts about 50 years, you have to spend 2 per cent of the nation’s capital every year just to keep up existing infrastructure. But if you increase the population by 2 per cent a year, you have to add another 2 per cent of the nation’s annual capital expenditure just to keep the same amount of infrastructure per head.

In short, a 2 per cent population increase, which Morrison has more or less locked us in to, means we have to double our infrastructure spending each year. But we are not. That is why people are rightly upset.

This may sound like a lot of statistical babble. But consider algae in a lake or cancer in the body without treatment. Each doubles every six months. So the lake looks okay for 30 years until the algae takes up half the lake. “Oh, it will be another 30 years before the other half gets overtaken with algae.” Wrong. It will take six months.

Same with cancer. The cells grow exponentially. The last doubling to fatal size can be alarmingly quick after a person has coped with it for quite some time.

Australia is but a small example of the global population problem. Globally and nationally we must do whatever we can to control the exponential growth in population before it controls us.

Morrison’s “population policy” is far too little for too short a time.

Australia is full. Like most other countries we should not have an economic immigration policy, just a humanitarian one. Clearly the economic program has not helped the vast majority of Australians over the past decade or more.

Further, the population growth, even under this week’s announcement, understates the true position. We have to add the 30,000 illegal immigrants a year who come in by air.

Unlike boat people, more than 95 per cent of whom had a legitimate claim of persecution, those who come in by air have no claim. They are coming with the illegal intention of overstaying. But they do not make dramatic media footage so can be safely ignored.

Yes, we should stop the lethal boats, but let’s not pretend we have our borders and population policy under control.

And this must have nothing to do with race. The white, English-as-a-first-language tourist overstayer is foreign.

The hijab-wearing Muslim who speaks English as a second language and got her Australian citizenship yesterday is not. She is one of us. Her chances of a job, access to good infrastructure in Australia, and a liveable environment have to be protected against the growth fanatics and any influx of overstayers, many of whom are British, New Zealanders and American.

So let’s remove race from the population and immigration question and concentrate on the environment and the living amenity of the people already living here.

If we did that we would have a sensible population policy not, as we have now, the irrational immigration policy based on bringing in as many consumers and low cost employees as possible for the profit of the big end of town.


Jobless rate falls to eight-year low

The national unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level in eight years but signs are growing the jobs market may be easing, with large increases in jobless rates in NSW and Victoria.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday reported the unemployment rate edged down to 4.9 per cent in February from 5 per cent. It is the lowest jobless rate since December 2010 and below market expectations of 5 per cent.

But the fall was due to a drop in the number of people looking for work. The total number of Australians in work in February rose by just 4600. Markets had been expecting a 15,000 increase.

The number of people holding a full-time job actually fell, down by 7300.

The biggest impacts were in NSW, where the jobless rate jumped to 4.3 per cent from 3.9 per cent, and in Victoria, where it lifted to 4.8 per cent from 4.6 per cent.


 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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