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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

News&Views, No 14, April 23 to 29

Updated: May 2, 2022

Paul Kelly, ‘Nation’s strength at risk when politics kills policy debate.

‘The government at the end of the second week of the campaign is struggling to set the election agenda. Unless this is corrected Morrison’s prospects look grim’.

This is a long article and I will present only a few salient points. But do read it if you can. It is a fine piece of journalism. …

‘Industrial relations was once an enduring reform of the Liberal Party on the cause of higher productivity-driven wage rises but that era has largely passed. Morrison was never prepared to mount a sustained political effort for IR reform and floating this in the campaign proper was never going to succeed. …

‘During the people’s forum Morrison was lost at sea on the issue of integrity in government. The government simply has no case and cannot find the language to mount its own view of integrity and trust’. …

‘By vacating this political field the government handed the integrity issue to the Labor Party and the independents. Even since, this cause has gained vast publicity. … the damage the integrity issue has done to Morrison is immense.

‘When you don’t contest an issue, you lose. For Morrison, there are too many uncontested issues outside the economy and national security that frame him unfavourably.’

Greg Sheridan, ‘China menace now on our doorstep.

‘’The Chinese military is coming to the South Pacific, and Australia is completely unprepared to deal with this sobering reality. Unprepared militarily. Unprepared diplomatically. We may be witnessing a revolution in our strategic outlook.’ See pages of Inquirer P 15.

This is one of another set of wonderful articles, but I cannot continue pinching the writings of others. Do read all the articles in Inquirer’s Weekend edition.

Especially do not miss the large typeface across Pages 20 and 21: ‘Beijing’s Big Boasts are proving Premature.’ But do not forget to read especially the darker articles by Messrs Kelly and Sheridan.

AFR, Weekend Edition. Front page started with large letters: ‘State of Independents‘. The question is: ‘Will it mean chaos or better government?

The state of the numbers still have Labor well in front of the Liberals and Nationals. I must say I expected some movement toward the Conservatives by now. Perhaps ‘Independents’ are showing some generous solidity to the ailing Mr Albanese or Conservatives are likely to keep Labor well ahead. ‘Independants’ could ‘create chaos’ is the P5 headline of the article by Ronald Mizen.

Henry and Mrs Thornton have both had successive weeks of the Covid-19. Another AFR article said ‘Covid-19 cuts a swath through Albenese’s campaign trail’, but this could help or hinder the Labor leader.

This may make the ‘chaos’ possibility more likely but I must report that Henry’s pals mostly think Scomo is facing a time of rest.

The Editorial&Opinion column on P 42 of the Weekend AFR advice about fresh lessons for this Anzac Day’.

Here is the first paragraph. ‘Australia commemorates Anzac Day in 2022 amid unusually powerful echoes of the 20th century’s world wars that produced so many of the nation’s legends. The diggers of Tobruk and El Alamein would easily recognise the sieges and the sweeping armoured warfare, now raging on the Ukraine steppes, both their own experience and from Ukraine of the same era. Sadly, our veterans of the 1940s would also recognise the authoritarian brutishness and paranoid ultra-nationalist fantasies that are driving this new European war. …

And in conclusion: ‘What does Ukraine’s experience say about conflict avoidance? It says we must use time well, focussing on deterrent missile development now, because the submarine project will take so long. Alliances are vital; Mr Putin’s grievance with Ukraine was its desire to join NATO. But if it had joined, it would not be facing destruction now. However, it was Ukraine’s ability to rapidly help itself that emboldened Europe to step up instead of stepping aside. Because Ukraine was prepared, it was not abandoned. That’s an important lesson for this Anzac Day.

Please do not miss ‘Why Zelensky gives hope to us all by Bret Stephens. ‘The Ukrainian president’s forthright courage is everything that the insecurity and paranoia is not. He shows that democracies can elect leaders that inspire, ennoble and even save’.

The AFR, 26 April, John Kehoe, ‘Inflation jump to test RBA and election debate.

We shall certainly be facing an inflation jump. Mr Kehoe says: ‘Inflation is poised to a 14-year high of about 4.5 per cent this week and the rising price pressures will reignite election debate the cost of living’.

We now know that our inflation jumped to 5.7 per cent and just about every commentary now says the mighty RBA is surprised and should not wait to rsaise interest rates until the Federal election is over.

The Oz, April 28, P 10, The Oz pronounces that ‘Policy must reflect the challenge of inflation.

Surely it must. ‘The real challenge will come in the event of a hung parliament, with the Greens and teal independents demanding much tougher action than the Coalition or Labor.

‘The evidence is that voters want action on climate change but are reluctant to pay for it ... Higher costs that result from taking action on climate change could well compound the impact of rising inflation. As always, it will be the less well off who are most vulnerable’.

Peta Credlin: ‘Existential to Libs as teals drag party left’.

Adam Creighton makes a stronger point: ‘Buckle up for a wild ride as inflation goes viral.’

Peter Jennings makes a further point. ‘Swap Pacific policy on the run with three steps.

First, however, a wise general statement: ‘Australia needs more than a whiff of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s fighting spirit.’

But to the three steps:

1. First, we need to convey to Pacific Island leaders the danger China presents.

2. Second, after the election, a Pacific affairs minister should be in cabinet at least for that term of government., and

3. Third, let’s work with Pacific Islands' leaders to form a response force, comprising units from Australia, the militaries from PNG, Tonga and Fiji, and police and agencies from the other Pacific Islands countries.

AFR, 28 April, P1, Ronald Mizen, ‘CPI puts election rate rise in play’.

‘Labor Treasurer spokesman, Jim Chalmers was quick to highlight the growing gap between costs and incomes.’

AFR Editorial&Opinion, AFR Review, P 42: ‘Rates should rise now to retain RBA credibility’ and Warren Hogan ‘RBA must reset ideas ideas on inflation’.

Amen to these wise suggestions.

AFR, Friday, April 29, P1 and P4, Phillip Coorey and Vesna Poljack, ‘RBA caught between poll and markets.

‘Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has reminded the Reserve Bank of Australia of its plan to wait for wages data due later this month (sic!) before increasing interest rates, but most of the major banks are urging the RBA to move next week, right in the middle of the election campaign’.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers yesterday accused Mr Morrison of looking for excuses.

‘This is a full-blown cost-of-living crisis on Scott Morrison’s watch. This is a triple whammy of skyrocketing inflation, falling real wages and rising interest rates’.

‘Scott Morrison has an excuse for everything and a plan for nothing’.

The Economist, P9, Leaders, ‘The Fed that failed’.

‘Central Banks are supposed to inspire confidence in the economy by keeping inflation low and stable. America’s Federal Reserve has suffered a hair-raising loss of control. In March, consumer prices were 8.5 per cent higher than a year higher, the fastest annual rise since 1981. …

‘It is the Fed, however, that had the tools to stop inflation and failed to use them in time. The result is the worst overheating in a big and rich economy in the 30-year era of inflation-targeting central banks.’…

And the final comment. ‘In the 1980s the recessions brought about by Paul Volcker’s Fed laid the foundations for inflation-targeting regimes world-wide. Every month inflation runs too hot, part of that hard-won credibility ebbs away’.

Readers will recall that Australia in the 1980s reduced Aussie inflation in starts and stops, but failed the final improvement when the governor told the board to ignore my recommendation of an increase in interest rates. My successors – two newbies – panicked and crashed the economy. They created low inflation at great cost to the economy.

Australia this time may have relatively large inflation created by waiting to tighten the belt. Another stuff-up perhaps. As in the USA, acting too little, too late.

Another Fed that failed.


Fiona Prior realises just how much she dislikes actor Nicolas Cage. More here

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