Leith van Onselen


Victoria’s COVID-19 infections plummet

Victoria’s COVID-19 nightmare is finally coming to an end with only 28 new cases recorded overnight alongside 8 deaths. It was the lowest daily count for months: Melbourne’s 14-day infection rate continues to fall below the 50 threshold required to ease Stage 4 restrictions at the end of the month: NSW recorded only 5 new


Tripolar jobs market emerges

From SEEK: STATE OF THE NATION: THREE RATES OF RECOVERY EMERGE ACROSS AUSTRALIA The latest SEEK Employment Report data shows a 2.0% month-on-month (m/m) national decline in jobs advertised. This is the first time a decline has been reported since April. Comparing August 2020 with August 2019, job ads are 29.1% lower, which is the


Federal government passes buck on repatriating Aussies

With up to 100,000 Aussies stranded abroad, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has written to state governments demanding they lift their hotel quarantine capacity so that the arrival cap on returning Aussies can be lifted from 4,000 a week to 6,000 a week: New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have each been asked to


Permanent migration falls to 15-year low

The Department of Home Affairs yesterday released permanent migration outcomes for 2019-20: The permanent migration intake was 140,366 in 2019-20. Seventy per cent of the visas were granted through the skilled stream (95,843 in total), including 4,109 places under the highly skilled Global Talent – Independent program, launched in November 2019. There were 23,372 regional


CHO Brett Sutton exposes VIC Government’s COVID failures

More cracks have appeared within the Victorian Government over the state’s bungled COVID-19 response. Yesterday, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton fronted the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry whereby he confirmed that he wanted to be in charge of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic but was sidelined: Professor Sutton said he would have preferred being in


Links 17 September 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: Why the supply of electric vehicle nickel is so constrained – Kitco WeWork may end up being the Napster of the post-pandemic economy – Bloomberg IEA says oil demand recovery set to slow for rest of 2020 – Reuters Small cap stocks post biggest single day jump in six


Parliament grants farmers more slaves

Yesterday I reported on the endemic wage theft and ‘modern slavery’ on Australia’s farms. Today, The Australian reports that a new plan backed by Coalition, Labor and Greens MPs would gift farmers an endless supply of cheap labour: University students would be offered a HECS discount for picking fruit under a new plan backed by


Revenge of the mortgage ghosts

Australian Bankers Association (ABA) CEO, Anna Bligh, last week announced that banks would commence “the largest ever customer contact process in the industry’s history” as it seeks to contact around 400,000 customers that have deferred repayments on around $167 billion worth of mortgages. According to The AFR, one in five deferred mortgage customers have “ghosted”


Dan Andrews lied: ADF troops were offered for hotel quarantine

During last month’s parliamentary inquiry, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews explicitly denied that Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were offered for use in the state’s hotel quarantine program: Liberal MP: “So my question is: Why did you choose to use private security guards rather than police or ADF?: Dan Andrews: “I’m glad you mentioned the use


Melbourne’s COVID-19 infections hit key milestones

Victoria recorded 42 new COVID-19 infections overnight and 8 more deaths. Importantly, Melbourne has crossed below the key 30-50 new case threshold required for easing draconian Stage 4 restrictions at the end of the month: NSW recorded 10 new COVID-19 infections with only 4 locally acquired: Its success in controlling the outbreak without imposing draconian


Saul Eslake calls for 9% inheritance tax

Independent economist Saul Eslake has produced a ‘blueprint’ for a potential national tax reform agenda. The 48-page report was commissioned by the Australia Institute and, among other things, proposes the introduction of a 9% tax on deceased estates that are worth more than $1 million. Death taxes were abolished in Australia more than four decades


ANZ: Employment won’t recover until 2023

ANZ economics believes that Australia’s labour market may not recover to its pre-pandemic levels until 2023 “despite our assumption of an additional $180 billion of government spending over a four-year horizon”: ANZ added that “one of the takeaways from the last two recessions and the GFC – that it takes many years for the labour


Inflation expectations tumble to new low

From Roy Morgan Research: In August Australians expected inflation of 3.2% annually over the next two years, down 0.2% points on July and equalling the record low in June. Inflation Expectations are now down a significant 0.7% points on a year ago. The big economic impact in August was the imposition of a hard lockdown


Sydney and Melbourne rental markets collapse

SQM Research has released rental vacancy data for the month of August, which recorded a 0.1% decline nationally but ballooning vacancies across Melbourne: As shown in the next chart, the rental vacancy rate has hit a seven year high in Melbourne at 3.4%, whereas Sydney’s retraced to 3.5% but remains near record highs: Commenting on


How virtue signaling botched Melbourne’s hotel quarantine

Recall that United Security – a tiny security firm with only 89 permanent employees that wasn’t on the Victorian Government’s preferred supplier list – was granted the biggest ($44 million) contract to mismanage Melbourne’s hotel quarantine program: The security company paid $44 million to guard Victoria’s quarantine hotels says it does not know why it


Young and old bear brunt of COVID job losses

According to Deloitte Access Economics, Australians aged 70 and over and between 20 to 29 have been hardest hit by COVID-19 job losses. These jobs could also take years to recover: When COVID first hit, job losses were most severe for our oldest and youngest workers. It’s a trend we’ve seen in past economic downturns,


Labor takes baby steps toward immigration reform

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there was a strong case to cut immigration, which had run at turbo-charged levels for 15 years: First, Australian real wage growth had remained stillborn for nearly 10 years: Australia’s labour underutilisation rate had been stuck at stubbornly high levels: Whereas average monthly hours worked had collapsed to record


Australian property valuations hit a double top

The ABS yesterday released its property price data for the June quarter, which valued Australia’s dwelling stock owned by households at $6.82 trillion, whereas the total housing stock was valued at $7.14 trillion. As shown below, the total value of Australia’s dwelling stock owned by households was 7.2 times employee incomes as at June 2020,


Links 16 September 2020

Global Macro / Markets / Investing: How Amazon Raised Prices to Profit from the Pandemic – Citizen Will home office kill big city centers? – Finances Herald How the Coronavirus is Changing Personal Finance – Medium Global oil demand may have passed peak, says BP energy report – The Guardian Americas: “The Top 1% of


Victorian job listings sliced in half

Callam Pickering, economist at global jobs site Indeed, has updated his weekly job postings data, which shows that Victorian postings are running 51% lower than the same time last year: By contrast, job postings are only down by 21% across the rest of Australia relative to the same time last year.


Australian migrant farm slavery endemic

Last week, the Migrant Workers Centre demanded major changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program to better protect vulnerable people on the visa following countless reports of exploitation. Fast forward a week and we have another report documenting the modern slavery on Australia’s farms: After two months of working on a farm, Elin had


Shock horror! Companies want lower taxes

Accounting software company MYOB has asked companies what they would most like to see in the federal government’s October budget to support business. Unsurprisingly, lower taxes was the leading response with 31% of respondents wanting a reduction in the corporate tax rate: Let’s hope the federal government doesn’t share the same view. Because cutting company


COVID-19 shutdowns eliminate Aussie flu season

According to The Economist, COVID-19 shutdowns and social distancing policies have all but eliminated the flu season across the Southern Hemisphere: Although 2020 has been a difficult year in many ways for Aussies and Kiwis, it has not necessarily been bad for their physical health. This winter only around 0.4% of people in the two


Property listings collapse to new low

According to CoreLogic, property listings across Australia have collapsed to around 8-year lows: As shown above, new listings are tracking 23.9% lower year-on-year across the combined capitals, whereas total listings are 20.0% lower. Obviously, the numbers have been dragged down by Melbourne, which is in lockdown. Nevertheless, total listings have fallen significantly everywhere except Sydney.


CCP’s Aussie interference hits new lows

Over the weekend, DFAT Secretary Frances Adamson vowed Australia won’t tolerate Beijing’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy or interferences in our internal affairs, warning that our legal system, freedom of speech and democracy are at stake: “We’ve seen China seeking to assert itself in this region, in the Indo-Pacific and globally, in ways that suits its interests


ABS: Property prices fell 1.8% in Q2

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its property indices for the June quarter, which recorded a 1.8% quarterly decline across the combined capital cities led by Sydney (-2.2%) and Melbourne (-2.3%): It was the first quarterly decline in property values since June 2019: The ABS’ quarterly decline is worse than CoreLogic’s results for


Victoria nears key COVID-19 threshold

Victoria recorded 42 new COVID-19 infections overnight and no new deaths. Importantly, Melbourne is on the verge of crossing the key 30-50 new case threshold required for easing draconian Stage 4 restrictions at the end of the month: NSW recorded only 7 new COVID-19 infections with only 3 locally acquired: Its success in controlling the