The horsey set avoid $100 million. The racing industry should be happy this morning that the Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke has announced the government will not be hitting the horsey community for the $100 million or so spent on combating the outbreak of equine influenza. The money was used to search for the source of the outbreak and enforce quarantine zones around the country and most livestock industries have an agreement with the Government over paying a substantial share of such costs. With the horsey set, no such agreement was completed by the previous Coalition when in office largely because of the difficulty of finding a representative body of owners. With sheep and cattle it is easy to determine who has an economic interest and working out a way of applying the user pays principle but it is much harder when so many horses are owned as pets. Seeking reimbursement from the tens of thousands of kids with a pony for the cost of dealing with EI would be as difficult as charging every dog owner should there be an outbreak of rabies. Hence Minister Burke’s decision not to try and collect the money.
The daily terror goes to paper. Those self-proclaimed “fearless” crusaders at the Sydney Daily Telegraph are playing with origami at the one time the paper might be able to exert some influence on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to get tough with Japan for killing whales in southern ocean waters. During the last summer the Tele joined forces with Greenpeace to try and whip up anti-Japanese feeling among its readers with what it called its “Stop the Japanese Whaling Campaign.” The new Labor Government reacted to the pressure by chartering a ship to monitor the whaling operation but ministers have since gone silent on using the information to take legal action against the Japanese. A fair dinkum campaigner would surely be urging Prime Minister Rudd to make a big issue of Australia’s opposition to whaling when he meets his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Fukuda this week but the Tele has gone quiet. The latest suggestion on the paper’s whale campaign page is to make an online origami whale to launch at Mr Fukuda. That will have as much influence on the Japanese Government as the public silence which Mr Rudd is maintaining on the whaling issue while in Tokyo – none at all. As the Australian delegation flew in to Japan at the weekend, a fleet of whaling vessels set out from Japan to hunt 100 endangered sei whale in northern Pacific waters along with 60 minke, sperm and bryde’s whales.
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The inflationary genie spreads. Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan was under attack from within the Opposition Coalition earlier in the year for his suggestion that the inflationary genie was out of the bottle and the Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens had his critics over the Bank’s last interest rate rise. Today both men are looking far more prescient than the shadow Treasurer Malcolm Turnbull who was leading the critical division. Right around the world concern about inflation is growing with the US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke saying he’ll “strongly resist” any surge in inflation expectations, while European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet reiterating this week he may raise rates as soon as next month. Rising prices, especially for oil and food, are rapidly replacing the concern that the world’s central bankers had for the financial instability created by the US loans crisis. The International Monetary Fund is now forecasting the world will have its highest inflation rate for 13 years even though economic growth is stalling. Bloomberg reports that Vietnam today raised its rate to the highest in Asia. Brazil, the Philippines and Indonesia also lifted borrowing costs this month. Chile’s central bank raised its benchmark lending rate half a percentage point late today, more than expected, to help contain the fastest inflation since 1994.
The mob get the right feeling. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment out this morning suggests that Australians believe we might be in for a new bout of economic misery. Confidence as measured by the index dropped to its lowest level since 1992, when Australia was coming out of the last recession, with high petrol prices being the principal cause in the mind of Westpac chief economist Bill Evans who declared himself surprised by the monthly fall of 5.6 per cent. Perhaps Mr Evans has not been reading papers like this morning’s Hobart Mercury where the news about inflation is put in a fashion all consumers readily understand. Pain at the checkout reads the headline above a story saying Tasmanians are paying 30 per cent more for their daily bread and butter than they were six months ago and shoppers should brace themselves for more pain at the checkout.
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