Leith van Onselen


Women’s group lobbies against 12% compulsory superannuation

Over the past month, we have witnessed various groups call for explicit government intervention to bridge the discrepancy between male and female superannuation savings. It started when the ACTU demanded the superannuation guarantee be lifted to 15% for women. Shortly afterwards, KPMG requested the government make direct contributions into women’s superannuation accounts, which was echoed


Universities told to cut prices for international students

With Australia’s universities facing a sharp drop in Chinese international student enrolments because of the coronavirus, Stephen Parker – a former vice-chancellor at the University of Canberra – says that universities need to reduce their reliance on Chinese students and has urged universities to instead target Indonesia. Parker has also called on universities to lower


Links 25 February 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Some of the world’s biggest economies are on the brink of recession – CNN Financial Markets – Top 5 Things to Watch This Week – Stock Market News Coronavirus shock weighs on global bond yields – Nikkei The Virus Is Interrupting Supply Chains From Watches to Lobsters – Bloomberg


Drought slashes Australian farm output to record low

Some interesting analysis from Phys.org: Australia’s hottest and driest year on record has slashed crop production, with summer output expected to fall to the lowest levels on record, according to official projections… The country’s agriculture department said it expects production of crops like sorghum, cotton and rice to fall 66 percent—the lowest levels since records


Israelis don’t trust Australia’s Coronavirus quarantine

With the coronavirus pandemic spreading, Israel has added Australia to the list of countries from which returning travelers will be required to enter quarantine: “We are prepared to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated during an emergency meeting at the Health Ministry in Tel Aviv Sunday in an


Another FIRB failure: Chinese land bank Melbourne property

The paucity of Australia’s foreign investment laws have been exposed again, with Chinese nationals land banking Melbourne property: Nearly $60 million worth of real estate in one of Toorak’s most-exclusive streets has been reduced to a patch of dirt, with mystery surrounding what’s going to happen to it. On well-heeled St Georges Road, where two


Is property investment a “mugs game”?

The Australian’s James Kirby asks this very question today: Nobody wants to believe it’s true but it’s becoming obvious that investment property as a source of income is fast becoming a mug’s game… It’s the flip side of a mind-bending acceleration of residential property prices over the past two decades that has now left us


Immigration ponzi fleeces NSW taxpayers for another $3b

Incessant claims that Australia just needs to ‘plan better’, invest more and build more, ignore the increasingly costly and constrained options for further infrastructure in the face of such unprecedented numbers of people pouring into our major cities. In already built-out cities like Sydney and Melbourne, the cost of retrofitting new infrastructure to accommodate greater


Tiny house propaganda mushrooms as housing policy fails

The sadists at Domainfax have published another propaganda article on how so-called ‘tiny houses’ are an innovative and sustainable solution to Australia’s housing affordability problems [my emphasis]: Ms Paton discarded many of her belongings before moving into her tiny house, which is just over 20 square metres in total… Port Phillip Council believes the tiny


Visa privatisation faces parliamentary roadblock

The Morrison Government’s planned privatisation of Australia’s visa system faces roadblocks in parliament after the Department of Home Affairs advised that the reform would likely need to be legislated: The timeline for the Australian government’s controversial $1 billion plus visa processing privatization project has been blown out by at least six months. The latest hitch is


A $25 million example of how private schools can’t offend China

If you want a textbook example of how Australia’s private schools have become beholden to China, look no further than Melbourne’s Caulfield Grammer: Caulfield Grammar will keep the name of its golden graduate Mack Horton off its newly-opened, $25 million aquatic centre to preserve the school’s commercial interests in China. A plan to name the


Retailers: Traffic down 20% at some shopping centres

The Australian Retailers Association’s (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman says that foot traffic at some shopping centres has fallen by up to 20% due to factors such as the bushfires and the coronavirus. He has raised the issue with the Shopping Centre Council of Australia’s executive director Angus Nardi, but says retail landlords are unwilling


Superannuation increase means 20% lower wage growth

Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, last week attacked “an unholy coalition attacking the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee”: At the moment we are witnessing an unholy coalition attacking the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee. They want to see super wound back or abolished. The prescriptions of ACOSS and others play into the hands of the Liberal


PwC: 13% of Aussie workers are underpaid

The Australian Payroll Association has challenged the view that wage theft is endemic across the Australian economy. It has conducted 39 audits of company pay processes in the last 18 months and found evidence of staff being overpaid in 27 instances: The APA’s review found overpayments, involving employers with between 200 and 25,000 staff, ranged


Morrison Government risks virus spread via international students

Via the World Health Organisation WHO: The window of opportunity to contain wider international spread of the epidemic of the new coronavirus disease is closing, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Friday, after cases were reported in Iran and Lebanon. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, asked whether the outbreak is at a “tipping point”


Auction clearances go boom!

Auction clearance rates boomed over the weekend, driven by Sydney and Melbourne whose preliminary clearance rates were around 80% off strong volumes. At the national level, the preliminary rate was 77.7%, down marginally from 78.6% last weekend, but way above the 49.4% recorded in the same weekend last year: Sydney’s preliminary clearance rate was 81.5%,


Links 24 February 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: 30-Year Treasury Yield Drops To All-Time Low Of 1.89% – Stock Market News Wall Street slides as data shows early business impact of coronavirus – Reuters Fed’s Brainard Calls for New Strategy to Boost Inflation – Bloomberg Wall Street opens lower while Coronavirus spreads beyond China – Nation Overload


Weekend Reading: 22-23 February 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Bank of America warns negative U.S. rates could hurt operations – Stock Market News Coronavirus Begins to Spread Economic Gloom Worldwide – Foreign Policy Coronavirus could cost global economy $1tn in lost output – The Guardian Americas: There’s No Resurgence In American Manufacturing. It’s A Myth– Talking Points Memo


Canadian house prices rebound

The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index for January has been released, which shows that Canadian house prices rose another 0.1% across the 11 major markets, with annual growth improving to 2.1%: After falling for 14 straight months, Vancouver house prices have clearly bottomed, rising by 0.8% since their trough in September 2019. However, Vancouver’s house


Labor wants Budget to move beyond GDP

Labor’s Shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, is the latest to question the usefulness of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a welfare measure, and has called for the federal budget and Intergenerational Report to adopt broader measures of welfare: Many of you know Robert Kennedy told a Kansas audience in 1968 that GDP measures everything ‘except that


ASIC orders mortgage brokers to clean up their act

In September 2019, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) reported that one in 10 consumers who took out a home loan via a mortgage broker were finding it hard to meet their repayments within 12 months. ASIC’s research also found that although consumers generally expect a mortgage broker to secure the most suitable home


One in eight Aussies living in poverty

A new report by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) claims 13.6% of Australians live in relative poverty after housing costs are taken into account. ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie says the depth of poverty in Australia is getting worse, with households in poverty on average living


Immigration spruiker bemoans jobless elderly she put out of work

Cognitive dissonance certainly runs strongly through the veins of the ANU’s Dr Liz Allen (“Dr Demography”), who has spent years vigorously promoting/defending Australia’s mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy. Hilariously, Allen is now complaining that older Australians are unable to find jobs: “I see lots of women in their mid-40s who take redundancies that look financially


Brisbane’s apartment market no longer oversupplied

CoreLogic’s head of residential research, Eliza Owen, has penned interesting research on Brisbane’s apartment market, which appears to be no longer oversupplied: The narrative of over-supply and under-performance in Brisbane units has dominated conversations around south-east Queensland property for almost 5 years. At January 2020, Brisbane unit values remain 11.5% below their 2010 peak to


Youth labour market goes from bad to worse

Yesterday’s ABS labour force release for January revealed a mixed outcome for Australia’s youth labour market – i.e. those aged 15 to 24 years old – with annual jobs growth falling, and unemployment and underemployment near record highs. The trend headline unemployment rate rose further to 11.91% in January: Total employment growth for those aged


CoreLogic weekly house price update: More rises

In the week ended 20 February 2020, the CoreLogic 5-city daily dwelling price index, which covers the five major capital city markets, rose another 0.25%: The rise in values was again fairly broad-based: Quarterly dwelling values continue to rise strongly, driven by Sydney and Melbourne, where prices are still rocketing: The strong rebound across Sydney


Links 21 February 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Coronavirus Begins to Spread Economic Gloom Worldwide – Foreign Policy Companies are racked with loads of low-quality debt – Business Insider Coronavirus could cost global economy $1tn in lost output – The Guardian Where Is the Gold Rush Leading to? – Journal Neo This ‘Crisis Investing’ Hedge Fund Manager


Sydney and Melbourne final auction clearance rates surge

Earlier this week, CoreLogic released its preliminary auction clearance rates, which revealed the following results: Today, CoreLogic has released its final auction results, which reported a 5.3% decline in the final national auction clearance rate to 73.3% – well above the same weekend last year (51.2%): As you can see, Sydney’s final auction clearance rate


CommSec: High immigration is lowering wages

CommSec senior economist, Ryan Felsman, has broken rank and linked high immigration levels with slow wage growth: ‘So why is wage inflation contained, despite strong job creation? The simple answer is that Australia has an excess supply of workers,’ he said. ‘Population growth remains elevated and workforce participation has lifted to record highs, driven by