Ian Macfarlane To Retire From Parliament At Election

Ian Macfarlane, the LNP member for Groom in Queensland and former minister in the Abbott and Howard governments, is to retire from parliament at the election due this year.

MacfarlaneMacfarlane has been the member for Groom since 1998. He was Minister for Small Business and then Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources in the Howard government, from 2001 until its defeat in 2007.

Macfarlane was again Minister for Industry and then Minister for Industry and Science in the Abbott government from 2013, until Malcolm Turnbull replaced Abbott last September. Macfarlane agreed to step down from the ministry to allow Turnbull to promote new blood. [Read more…]


First Turnbull Ministry Announced; More Women Into Cabinet, Abbott Supporters Axed

Malcolm Turnbull has announced the composition of his ministry, five days after being sworn in as prime minister.

As expected, Joe Hockey has been replaced as Treasurer by Scott Morrison. Hockey is expected to be appointed Ambassador to the United States, replacing former Labor leader Kim Beazley in the new year.

Five women will be in the Cabinet, an increase of three. Senator Maris Payne becomes Defence Minister, whilst Senator Michaelia Cash will be the Minister for Women. They will be joined by Kelly O’Dwyer as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Small Business.

Turnbull has sacked a number of Abbott supporters. The most prominent casualties are Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and the Senate leader and Workplace Relations Minister Eric Abetz.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has been left out of the ministry, as has Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. The Special Minister of State, Senator Michael Ronaldson, has also been dropped.

This is the official list of ministers released by the Prime Minister’s office:

15-09-20_first-turnbull-ministry


Government Announces Industry Innovation And Competitiveness Agenda

The Federal Government today announced an Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda.

Abbott

Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and the Minister for Industry, Ian Macfarlane, announced a series of measures to life apprenticeship rates and encourage employee share ownership. The plan also aims to promote science and technology skills in school, reform the 457 visas programme, and establish Industry Growth Centres.

  • Listen to the joint press conference with Tony Abbott and Ian Macfarlane (37m – transcript below)
  • Watch Abbott and Macfarlane (37m)

Downloads (PDF)

Statement from Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry.

Strengthening Australia’s competitiveness is the key to our future prosperity. [Read more…]


Australian Car Industry Dies: Toyota To End Local Production By End Of 2017

Toyota has announced that it will end vehicle and engine production in Australia by the end of 2017.

The announcement marks the formal death of the Australian car manufacturing industry. A product of post-war economic development, the automotive industry at its peak included manufacturing plants operated by General Motors Holden, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Toyota says “various negative factors such as an extremely competitive market and a strong Australian dollar, together with forecasts of a reduction in the total scale of vehicle production in Australia, have forced us to make this painful decision”. [Read more…]


Abbott Offers $100 Million Employment Fund For Car Workers

In the aftermath of the announced departures of Ford and Holden, Prime Minister Tony Abbott today announced a $100 million employment fund for Victoria and South Australia.

Abbott

Details of the assistance package won’t be decided until the second half of 2014 but Abbott said the money would be spent on “economically responsible” projects.

The federal government will provide $60 million whilst Victoria and South Australia will each contribute $12 million. Holden will be asked to provide $20 million. [Read more…]


GMH To Close Australian Manufacturing Operations In 2017: Official

General Motors has announced that it will discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing in Australia by the end of 2017, bringing to an end 60 years of making the iconic Holden car.

HoldenThe official announcement from General Motors says it will “transition to a national sales company in Australia and New Zealand”.

The decision will affect approximately 2,900 positions over the next four years, 1,600 in South Australia and 1,300 in Victoria.

The announcement cited the value of the Australian dollar as a chief reason for the decision. “The appreciation of the currency alone means that at the Australian dollar’s peak, making things in Australia was 65 percent more expensive compared to just a decade earlier.”

News of the General Motors decision was announced by the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, during Question Time. In Federal Parliament, the Opposition moved a motion criticising the government over the loss of jobs.

Treasurer Joe Hockey accused the Opposition of confected outrage and hypocrisy over Holden’s decision. He said global car manufacturers were moving operations to locations where production costs are cheaper. He pointed out that former Prime Minister Paul Keating, who as Treasurer floated the dollar in 1983, is to address the Labor Caucus tomorrow.

In Parliament yesterday, Hockey made a spirited demand that Holden announce its intentions. His remarks received front page treatment today, as shown below.

Text of a statement from General Motors.

GM to Transition to a National Sales Company in Australia and New Zealand

Company to cease manufacturing in Australia by 2017

GMDETROIT – As part of its ongoing actions to decisively address the performance of its global operations, General Motors today announced it would transition to a national sales company in Australia and New Zealand. The company also said it would discontinue vehicle and engine manufacturing and significantly reduce its engineering operations in Australia by the end of 2017. [Read more…]


Reserve Bank Raises Interest Rates 0.25%

The Reserve Bank of Australia has increased the cash rate by 25 basis points to 6%.

Widely predicted, the 0.25% increase in interest rates is the third rise since the re-election of the Howard government in 2004.

This is the statement from the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Ian Macfarlane.

Following a decision taken by the Board at its meeting yesterday, the Bank will be operating in the money market this morning to increase the cash rate by 25 basis points, to 6.0 per cent. The decision reflects the Board’s assessment that economic activity remains strong and that inflation pressures have increased.

Growth of the Australian economy is taking place against the background of strong international conditions. The world economy is in its fourth successive year of above-average growth, and official and private-sector forecasts are that this will continue next year, despite some moderation in the United States. The general strength of the global economy has been reflected in further increases in commodity prices since the start of the year. These increases have been broadly based and are adding to the growth in Australia’s national income and spending.

Despite regional differences, most indicators suggest that demand and output in Australia have strengthened over recent months. A favourable business climate, strong profitability and high levels of capacity usage are contributing to rapid growth in investment spending. Even with moderate growth in household spending, this has underpinned a solid rate of expansion in domestic demand and a pick-up in employment over recent months.

Strong demand for finance over the past few months indicates that households and businesses have continued to find it attractive to borrow at recently prevailing interest rates. Compression of lending margins over recent years has contributed to a lowering of borrowing costs relative to the cash rate. This has meant that although the cash rate has recently been slightly above its average for the low-inflation period since 1993, interest rates paid by borrowers have remained below average.

The growth of demand, against the background of an economy operating with limited spare capacity, has contributed to increased inflationary pressures this year, and businesses report that labour market conditions are tight. Raw materials costs have picked up as a result of broad-based increases in global commodity prices, and there has been a more general pick-up in output prices at all stages of production.

These pressures have also been evident in underlying consumer price inflation. In the June quarter, underlying inflation is estimated to have picked up to a rate of just under 3 per cent, confirming the upward drift that had started to become apparent in the previous quarter. Although the increase in the headline CPI was much larger, reflecting fuel price increases and a sharp rise in the price of bananas in the wake of Cyclone Larry, the Board recognises that it is necessary to abstract from temporary influences in forming its policy assessments. Overall the Board’s assessment, based on the gradual increase in underlying inflation this year, and the wider background of above-average global growth and strong domestic demand, was that underlying inflation in the period ahead was likely to exceed previous forecasts.

Given these circumstances, the Board judged that an increase in the cash rate was warranted in order to contain inflation in the medium term.