The Australian Alert Service is the weekly publication of the Australian Citizens Party.
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11 May 2022
Vol. 24 No. 19
“Is housing our greatest policy fail?” blared an Australian Financial Review headline on 9 May. The latest Demographia study shows that it takes more than 15 years of median household income to pay for a median-priced home in Sydney. Stunningly, reported the article, “Sydney is now the second and Melbourne the fifth most unaffordable cities in the world”.
Yet as the Australian reported on 2 May, ANZ bank’s head of economics David Plank suggested that the Reserve Bank is raising rates because the economy is strong and needs to be dampened with “restrictive rates”. Former RBA Governor Bernie Fraser, cited in the 3 May Sydney Morning Herald, added: “There’s a lot of stimulation around; there’s the fiscal stimulus there and then every day there’s a promise in the election campaign to spend more.”
But governments refuse to invest it where it will work to expand the productive economy—particularly in infrastructure with its transformative effects, creating ripple effects across business and industry.
A significant amount of the inflation the RBA is fighting is artificial, given that as Treasurer in 1978, John Howard signed us up to match global fuel prices despite our ability to produce it much more cheaply, because of a commitment to neoliberal economic ideologies! (AAS, 27 April)
And the rate rises won’t help. Higher interest rates equate to higher mortgage payments, worsening effective inflation for households while real wages are already falling. This negatively impacts the economy.
Former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate has taken a different approach. In a painful reminder of what Australia Post lost, Holgate has turned around Global Express since she took over eight months ago, from significant losses of up to $140 million in recent years, back to positive earnings. She is now proposing a wage increase to match inflation, confident in the company’s increased growth and productivity. This is how the entire economy can work. But as seen in the cries of “reckless” which greeted Opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s statement that wage increases should match inflation, this is not part of the neoliberal economic policy script.
Nor does it serve the target audience. ABC reporter Nassim Khadem, who covered the cash ban and bail-in, reported 10 May that while mortgage holders are being squeezed, bank profits have increased more than 5 per cent over 2021 figures. Studies have estimated that a 25-basis-point rate rise brings in an extra $6 million or so in profits each day for the banks.
Perhaps the biggest rival for housing as Australia’s greatest policy fail is healthcare. On 5 May a committee of the NSW Parliament tabled the findings of its inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW. Its assessment of “historic failures” in various sectors is indicative of the state of healthcare across the entire nation. Receiving 750 submissions and conducting 15 public hearings, the committee “heard stories of emergency departments with no doctors; of patients being looked after by cooks and cleaners; of excessive wait times for treatment; and of misdiagnoses and medical errors.” Rather than being the fault of staff, this “is an indictment of the system that has allowed this situation to develop”, states the report, going on to document horrifying staff shortages, unsustainable working hours, terrible pay and conditions, lack of recruitment and retention strategies, lack of resources, physical threats to safety and a culture of fear to raise such issues. The committee demanded an urgent “ministerial level intervention” to develop a strategic plan to rectify the system’s failings, including rural area pilot programs and recruitment strategies, but both the NSW Liberal-National Government and Labor Opposition failed to support a recommendation to mandate minimum staffing ratios.
Successive governments on both sides of politics have brought us here, but it’s the economic policy playbook from which they both work that must be junked, not just the parties.
In this issue:
- Vote for candidates who support a post office bank
- Banking regulator fixes long-standing data errors—but where are the banks?
- Geopolitical strategists fabricated BRI ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ narrative
- Stage being set for regime change in Solomon Islands
- Central banks walk the line
- The new public-private McCarthyism
- Veteran diplomat warns Australia could pull the trigger for war with China
- John Lander: ‘If we want Peace, we must prepare for Peace’
- Citizens Party fight is about more than votes
- ALMANAC: The inside story of China’s Belt and Road Initiative