Covid deaths in Oz

With over 96% of the adult population fully vaccinated and 70+% boosted, Australia has just set a new record for COVID deaths Imagine if the media was interested in covering this instead of promoting “experts” and politicians blaming surges on the “unvaccinated”

A non-paid political advertisement for our current government

This is from Terry Barnes at The Spectator: Tezza’s how-to-vote card.

On Saturday, I’ll be voting Liberal, but out of loyalty rather than conviction. The party is no longer that of Menzies, Howard, or Abbott, and instead is riven with power-hungry egos and factional warlords.

The Liberal Party needs reform. It needs to rediscover its roots. It needs to be a party of the mainstream centre-right and to stop being so desperate in trying to appease affluent progressives on issues like ‘climate action’ and public health, even while knowing they’ll never vote for it….

I believe the only way necessary change will happen is from the heights of federal government, because the country can’t afford the Left-Labor alternative. Incumbency brings purpose and demands at least nominal discipline. Opposition would bring nothing but an open invitation for Liberals to eat each other alive, unleash ferocious factional wars, and set federal and state organisations against each other.

It’s a recipe for long-term opposition and unelectability, not a quick return to government….

As a Victorian, I also know that the shock of losing office to an inferior opposition can lead – not to a brief spell in the paddock – but decades in the unelectable wilderness….

If you’re a disillusioned Coalition voter, the Liberals’ need to retain your support gives you lasting influence and leverage over the Liberal Party’s (in a wordplay readers under 40 won’t get) future directions. You are their true base. Your preferences matter. Please use them wisely.

I only differ from this in giving the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt since on most issues I think he sees things in an entirely conservative way (but who knows?). With the world filled with climate and covid zombies whose votes also matter, and who are found in large numbers even amongst those who vote for The Coalition, there is no way to remain a purist. 

Labor will follow Joe Biden on every issue. We will have open borders, massive deficits and a weakening of our national defence. Lockdowns and Covid restrictions will not come to an end.

Three years is a very long time in politics, specially if it stretches out to six years or even more. 

How to lose the election

There are wholesale numbers of fringe parties who will never form a government. To lose the election these are all that is required for the major parties:

  • argue that global warming/climate change is a hoax
  • argue that covid is almost a non-existent problem

Suppose Scott Morrison thinks exactly that. He cannot say any of it since the Coalition would end up losing in a massive landslide.

There are other issues too, but those alone would do it.

Interest rates and the deficit

What can you do if Australia has the most incompetent central bank in the world? That they have raised interest rates in the midst of an election is the second time it has thrown in its lot with Labor, as it did in 2007. 

Of course, the problem really is that it has waited this long to do what has been an essential for quite some time. Let me remind you of this: Victorian state budget: Daniel Andrews government spending splurge as debt heads to $167.5bn. Labor steals from every constituency it gets to govern. The article is mostly about how Labor blames the Federal Coalition government, but I blame it on the phenomenal level of economic ignorance, which begins with the economics profession and continues from there across the entire community who are so grateful to see the level of demand being maintained. The level of supply, not so much, but who really cares anyway?

Keynesian stupidity is now so embedded that it would be very rare economist in May who has any sense of the devastation of governments indulging in one unproductive and loss-making project after another. 

There was a time when a community would understand that with a more or less fixed resource base, the more the government spends the less available for the rest of us. They would also have understood, perhaps only dimly, that governments cannot manage productive forms of enterprise. This at the very end of the article really sums up what is going on:

Mr Pallas attributed most of this sum to the West Gate Tunnel project, which the government recently revealed would cost an extra $4.1bn and open three years late, in 2025.

Among the responsibilities of the 500 new cops will be helping to raise millions more in speed camera and on-the-spot fine revenue, which is expected to jump 16.4 per cent next financial year alone, from $615m in 2021-22 to $716m in 2022-23, and $829m over the forward estimates.

The government is desperate for money to cover the massive debts it has wracked up. Until they are permitted to sell the State to the Chinese via China’s Road and Belt “initiative” they are going to have to cover their debt from the only source available, from the people who live within the State. However, once we have a Labor government federally, the competition for your money will intensify exponentially. And this, I remind you, is the pre-election budget. Just wait till you see the one next year when they have four years till the next election. 

As for the increase in rates of interest, a mere pin prick in the midst of all the rest but it will be the only issue that anyone will pay attention to.

Are Australians stupid enough to elect our own version of Joe Biden?

From Scott Morrison invokes Anthony Albanese’s socialist left faction in attack on Labor’s national security credentials.

The government has repeatedly attacked the Opposition Leader and his frontbench on their ties with China as well as cuts to the defence and intelligence budget when it was last in power.

Mr Morrison in contrast has hit the hustings to promote his government’s strength on Chinese coercion and its massive increases in defence spending.

He said his Labor counterpart was “not the right leader for this country”, criticising his foreign policy credentials and his ideological base.

Weirdly, hardly anyone mentions border protection any longer, but the left across the world promote open borders. It would be the end of us, as it may soon be the end of the United States.

“The other part that worries me about Anthony Albanese when it comes to national security, is that he has always come from the socialist left of the Labor Party.

“He has always had sympathies with those policies which have been very hostile.”….

Mr Morrison said the voters had to “compare and contrast” between the Coalition and Labor at the next election on issues surrounding China, security and borders.

Every government is a disappointment since there are so many compromises that have to be made in government. But if we cannot see the difference a Labor Government would make, we are heading for a very dismal future.

Economists are the last people you should ever ask to design an industrial relations system

Went out to dinner a few nights ago and out of nowhere found myself in an argument about industrial relations. Having been involved in one National Wage Case after another, even having presented the employer economic submission on a number of occasions, after having written many others before that, this was an issue close to my heart. And here is my central conclusion having represented employers in so many forums over so many years:

The free market system depends for its survival on providing buffers between buyers and sellers and between workers and employers.

Leaving such matters “to the market” as it is often put is certain to end in some kind of socialist/anarchist revolution which would not be long in coming. The notion that someone who successfully manages a business enterprise is in any way evidence that such a person is actually in any way morally superior is absurd. They may put their own capital at risk, or perhaps it is the capital they have borrowed that has been put at risk, but beyond that, there is no evidence of superior virtue and moral authority of the entrepreneur. There must therefore be laws and regulations in place to create industrial peace as best as a community is able.

That there must be some kind of wage setting process in place has been discovered by every market economy that has ever existed. No one agreed with me, but what’s new about that?

These were then my morning-after thoughts following this conversation. The central issue was whether Australia’s system of conciliation and arbitration, which embeds a minimum wage adjustment process, is consistent with good economic theory and practice. That virtually no economist thinks this is true only shows what a useless preoccupation economic theory has become.

Tampering with the employer-employee relationship that leaves employees without any recourse to the actions of employers will not work anywhere. And I am conservative enough to recognise that a system that has evolved over more than a century embeds within it all kinds of features that no one can identify but which make it work out there in the real world.

The market system depends for its existence on institutions that buffer the relationships between businesses and their customers and between employers and their employees. This is the Australian system.

So let me begin. Even more than ever I was reminded that economists know almost nothing worth knowing about the practicalities of running an economy, and this is shown in spades in their thoughts, such as they are, about industrial relations. The last thing that will work is “to leave it to the market” where union power exists, and where socialist trouble makers are to be found at every turn. So I did the tiniest bit of research when I came home, and was amazed I still remembered where to look, given that I have not been personally involved in any of this for eighteen years.

The Fair Pay Commission

First there was The Fair Pay Commission. How did I even remember its name? And what a name! It might as well have been “The Just Price Commission”. Australia’s IR system was in its origins designed “to prevent and settle industrial disputes” that ranged beyond the compass of a single state. Being fair to both employers and employees was obviously a necessary ingredient if it were to function, but that was not its purpose. The aim was to provide a structure to encourage industrial peace.

“Fair pay” is not a market principle. Do economists nowadays discuss “fair” prices? The discussion of The Fair Pay Commission at the link is a generally sympathetic account, andgets the story mostly the way I remember it. There we find under the heading “2006 decision”:

On 26 October 2006, the Commission handed down its first decision. The Commission’s media release stated: The Australian Fair Pay Commission today announced an increase of $27.36 per week in the standard Federal Minimum Wage and in all Pay Scales up to $700 per week. This covers just over one million Australian workers who rely on the Commission’s decisions for adjustments in their wages.

The Commission also awarded an increase of $22.04 per week to all Pay Scales paying $700 per week and above, or more than $36,000 per year, representing another 220,000 workers, about 2% of the workforce.

In hourly terms, the Australian federal minimum wage increased to $13.47 per hour (for workers on pay scales of less than $700 per week), with effect from 1 December 2006….

Many commentators were surprised the Commission’s first decision was so generous. For example, the Australian Council of Trade Unions had asked for a minimum wage increase of $30 per week.

An absurd decision which virtually granted the entire ACTU claim in full. “Surprised” is not the word for such an extravagant decision based on nothing whatsoever, and certainly neither on economic sense nor industrial need. And just for the record, let me mention who were the members of the FPC who had made this decision.

The inaugural chairman of the Commission was Professor Ian Harper and there were four commissioners: Hugh Armstrong, Patrick McClure AO, Mike O’Hagan, and Honorary Professor Judith Sloan.

Work Choices

Work Choices was the name given to changes made to the federal industrial relations laws in Australia by the Howard Government in 2005, being amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 by the Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005, sometimes referred to as the Workplace Relations Amendment Act 2005, that came into effect on 27 March 2006.

This is how it is described.

In May 2005, Prime MinisterJohn Howard informed the Australian House of Representatives that the federal government intended to reform Australian industrial relations laws by introducing a unified national system. WorkChoices was ostensibly designed to improve employment levels and national economic performance by dispensing with unfair dismissal laws for companies under a certain size, removing the “no disadvantage test” which had sought to ensure workers were not left disadvantaged by changes in legislation, thereby promoting individual efficiency and requiring workers to submit their certified agreements directly to Workplace Authority rather than going through the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. It also made adjustments to a workforce’s ability to legally go on strike, enabling workers to bargain for conditions without collectivised representation, and significantly restricting trade union activity.

I was also long gone from involvement with the system by then so just watched from the sidelines. This is where it ended up.

WorkChoices was a major issue in the 2007 federal election, with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) led by Kevin Rudd vowing to abolish it. Labor won government at the 2007 election and repealed the whole of the WorkChoices legislation and replaced it with the Fair Work Act 2009.
The FWA was a disaster and I did a lot of work on trying to overturn it working with various IR organisations. Not mentioned, for some reason, is that not only did Labor win, but John Howard lost his own seat, the only time other than in 1929 this had happened, which also happened to be the only previous occasion when a government had tried to get rid of the Federal industrial relations system. Lots of detail at the link, but this is where it comes down to.

The Australian Government stopped using the name “WorkChoices” to describe its industrial relations changes on 17 May 2007. Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey said the brand had to be dropped due to the union and community campaign against the WorkChoices laws. “It has resonated because it has been the most sophisticated and articulate political campaign in the history of this country.” The ACTU countered that the name may have changed but the laws were the same. The Government did not rename the brand, but did launch a new advertising campaign that did not refer specifically to WorkChoices.

And the political washup.

Howard’s successor as leader of the Liberal Party, Brendan Nelson declared that his party has “listened and learned” from the Australian public. He also declared that WorkChoices was “dead” and would never be resurrected as part of Coalition policy, and called on Rudd to move quickly to introduce draft industrial relations legislation. Former IR minister Joe Hockey said the laws “went too deep” but were introduced with “the best intentions”. “As I said yesterday and I’ve said since election day, WorkChoices is dead, and there is an overwhelming mandate for the Labor Party’s policy of tearing up WorkChoices,” he said.And from the sidelines:

Former Prime Minister John Howard broke his post-election silence in March 2008 by attacking Rudd’s industrial relations policy while defending WorkChoices.

Tampering with the employer-employee relationship that leaves employees without recourse to the actions of employers will not work anywhere. And I am conservative enough to recognise that a system that has evolved over more than a century embeds within it all kinds of features that no one can identify but which make it work out there in the real world. 

The market system depends for its existence on institutions that buffer the relationships between businesses and their customers and between employers and their employees. This is the Australian labour-relations system. No one will think of dismantling it any time soon. There may well come a time, but it won’t be in any time soon. 

The rest of the world thinks Australian state governments are run by idiots

And they’re right. Australia is Under Dystopian, Military-Enforced Lockdown Despite Less Than 5 COVID Deaths a Day. Obviously whoever wrote this thinks Australian governments are exaggerating our problems and over-reacting in an hysterical way to threats from the Chinese flu.

Melbourne, a major Australian city, just entered its 6th lockdown. (Yes, you read that correctly). It joins many of the nation’s other major metropolises, such as Sydney and Brisbane, in once again restricting its economy and social life. According to the BBC, the lockdown will be in place until at least August 28 and “bars people from leaving their home except for essential exercise, shopping, caregiving and other reasons.”

“Our people are [poor and]  they already feel picked on and marginalised,” Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou told the BBC. “They can’t afford to pay the mortgage, the rent, the food or work. Now to throw out the army to enforce lockdown on the streets is going to be a huge issue to these people.”

It’s mind-boggling that the Australian government is practically placing its citizens under house arrest and outlawing their incomes over five deaths per day. It’s particularly bizarre given that countless studies have shown the ineffectiveness of stay-at-home orders and lockdown policies. (In fact, most COVID-19 spread happens at home.)

And the conclusion.

It’s inexplicable. If lockdowns could really vanquish COVID-19, why would Australian cities be on their sixth one? And how could a handful of deaths per day in a nation of 25 million possibly justify such draconian measures and using the military to crack down on citizens?

Ultimately, it’s not our responsibility here in the US to answer these questions. But there’s a bigger lesson we can take away from watching such a totalitarian policy descend upon a Western, advanced society like Australia. If we are not vigilant, it can happen here….

Americans must heed this warning, lest we end up meeting Australia’s sad fate.

Alas, it has happened here. Australia’s reaction to Covid really is pathetic and genuinely shameful.

State of bankruptcy

I have often thought that the reason Michael O’Brien, the Victorian Leader of the Opposition, remains so out of the public eye is that the deep strategy for the Libs is NOT to win the next state election by which time not all of Daniel Andrews’ chickens will have as yet have come home to roost. But coming home they most surely are. Take this from the front page of The Age this lovely freezing Sunday morning: Unions rage as Victorian government plans to cut back public sector wage growth.

The Victorian government will cut the future salary growth of the state’s 325,000 public sector workers by a third, potentially saving billions of dollars as part of cost-cutting measures aimed at combating record levels of debt inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Victoria, bless her, is a mess beyond imagination. I often mention the billion dollar station at the Shrine – the once a year train stop that is already serviced by around seven tram lines – that has for all practical purposes been abandoned. It is a shell of a worksite, as is so much else in this state run by the man who could not even walk down a flight of steps without ending up in hospital. So we also have this: Acting Premier defends tax hikes as responsible and appropriate.

Victoria’s acting Premier James Merlino has defended his government’s new suite of tax increases including a stamp duty rise on high-end property buyers as appropriate and responsible measures.

The proposal, which includes [but is by no means limited to] increases in land tax, stamp duty, taxes on developer windfalls and a 10 per cent hike on fines, to be included in Thursday’s state budget, drew criticism from the property industry and home buyers after they were announced by Treasurer Tim Pallas on Saturday.

Not to mention that other great responsibility, health care and hospitals, which according to the paper today are “at crisis point”.

All you Keynesians who think you can make growth happen by wasting public money have a lot to answer for. Frightening but unless we throw out modern economic theory along with Labor and the socialists generally, all of this and more will be a recurring problem that will never go away.

Prudential idiocy

An accessible version of this infographic is available at

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has just released a note on “guidance on managing the financial risks of climate change” which includes the graphic shown above. Now, if they were releasing an approach to dealing with the psychologically disturbed people who take this stuff seriously, that would be one thing. But they seem to believe that the risk actually comes from global warming itself. What can be done with such fools? They will be the financial ruin of us.

What is particularly obvious is how inane modern economic theory is

I only look at Ross Gittins to find out just how far off the beam economists are, and once again he does not disappoint: Now we’re trying Plan C to end wage stagnation:

It’s a tacit acceptance of an obvious point many economists (and I) have been making for ages, but the government and its advisers haven’t been prepared to acknowledge: since consumer spending accounts for well over half of gross domestic product, and growth in wages is the chief source of growth in household incomes, without real growth in wages economic recovery simply isn’t sustainable.

The key to rising real wages is rising value added per employed person (ie higher productivity). That many economists (including Ross) think buying things will create value only shows to go you what a primitive subject economic theory remains. Come and see the billion dollar station they are building at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to see why real wages are going nowhere. If you build what no one is going to buy – a government speciality – you will not only fail to create growth you will diminish it.

Why isn’t that obvious? And it won’t matter a bit whether every single worker on every single project spends all of their income to the last dollar.