Oil price to surge – experts predict – unless OPEC expands supply, which is unlikely. Hedge funds play with gas prices. Chinese-Australian billionaire Shi “Sunshine” Zhengrong tells John Howard to back solar power rather than nuclear.

“I urge Australia to promote renewable energy, such as solar energy. Australian sunshine is an asset – you have to use it,” Dr Shi said.

Stories such as this will become endemic. There are lots of alternatives to dear oil and dirty coal – and Australia is well placed to benefit if we support the relevant research and tax carbon emissions.

Exports to surge

The government’s commodity forecaster, ABARE, is in a position to predict a significant expansion of exports despite ongoing congestion at Australian ports.

According to an article in today’s Oz, the commodity boom of recent times shows no signs of letting up:

Combined rural and mineral commodities exports are forecast to rise seven per cent, reaching just under $150 billion.

Between 2002-03, when the boom began, and 2005-06, the minerals industry was only able to lift production by 2.3 per cent. Over this year and next, ABARE is forecasting a 17.2 per cent increase in mine output.

However, there is some bad news that stems from the current strength of the Australia economy in general, and the strength of the Aussie dollar specifically. Andrew Trounson, also in today’s Oz, writes that “for the first time in decades, Australia’s balance of trade in tourism has fallen into deficit.”

“In 2001-02, the nation enjoyed a $4 billion surplus in tourism consumption, with overseas visitors spending vastly more than Australians were spending on their international jaunts. But the strength of the dollar in recent years, which has made it cheaper for Australians to travel overseas while at the same time making it more expensive for visitors to our shores, has wiped that out and replaced it with a $60 million deficit.”

The (ex) Treasurer & (ex) PM

Finally, former Treasurer and Prime Minister Paul Keating has continued his verbal slanging match with all and sundry, rebuking recent claims by JWH and Cozzie that past Labor government reforms were not the foundation of Australia’s prosperity.

Of course, Keating is typically frank and colourful in describing the relevant events:

Howard has spent two decades of his life trafficking in the lie that the Liberal and National parties in Opposition supported the reform agenda of the Hawke and Keating governments.

Bob Hawke and I needed Howard’s endorsements for our policy changes in 1983 like we needed a dose of rabies.

Henry’s editor – PD Jonson – will weigh into this debate in the next day or so. 

Read more at Henry Thornton.