Last night Henry joined with several hundreds of Peter Costello’s best pals at Leonda. The PM-in-waiting was in fine form, telling in his introduction of a young gal called Julia, who told him she planned to be Australia’s next prime minister. “Now I’ve got to wait for Julia” the Treasurer quipped — a version of an old joke that got the Liberal faithful going.

Naturally Peter put in a plug for his government’s economic achievements — eliminating Labor’s $100 billion debt, containing inflation, slashing unemployment and earning high marks from agencies such as the OECD and the IMF. However, Peter’s main role at Leonda was to welcome his political pal, the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Education, Science and Training and Minister assisting the PM on Women’s Affairs, correction, Issues. Bishop gave a feisty speech on the importance of education reform, pre-school, primary school, secondary school and at university. She will go far, gentle readers, possibly all the way to end as a Cardinal, or even Pope, as the Treasurer quipped.

But to return to the economic situation. Henry’s dining companion was very worried about the Current Account Deficit (CAD), and Henry was unable to reassure him. Inflation and taxes also worried the attending bizoids, although it must be said this did not inhibit the bidding at the auction for a pair of cuff links that went for a cool $21K.

John Garnaut, in today’s SMH, reports on Australia’s booming consumer spending, saying “Tax cuts, reduced fuel consumption and bumper winter sales at department stores fed a boom in consumer spending likely to result in a further interest rate rise.”

Although overall retail trade increased by only 0.6% in July, similar to the 0.5% economists had been expecting, the ABS figures showed a 7% surge in department store turnover. Year on year, retail spending grew by 6.2% — with Western Australia leading the way with a 9.9% yearly growth. This surge was due to the June tax cuts coinciding with department store clearance sales — Myer and David Jones led the way.

Although these figures were for the month prior to the August 2 rate rise, such strong growth will provide at least some impetus for the RBA to make another move before the year is out.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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