A very pretty picture. Get out there and spend for your country was the Prime Ministerial message and get out there and spend we have. The Australian Bureau of Statistics retail sales figures for May show that in current price seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover increased by 1.0% in May 2009, following increases of 0.3% in April and 2.2% in March. Turnover increased in four of the five months prior to March including a 3.8% increase in December 2008.

This was just the kind of result the Government was hoping to get from its pair of stimulus packages last year and early this. And yet again the Treasury forecasters have proved the doomsayers of the financial markets wrong. The sales increase in May was twice the level predicted by the business economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The increased spending was evident right across the board with the exception of household goods retailing which was down 2% in seasonally adjusted terms. All the states and territories shared in the growth with the exception of New South Wales and the Northern Territory where there was virtually no change and Tasmania which had a decline of 0.1%

Running out of first home buyers? If the $900 giveaway to individual taxpayers worked as planned then so too has the increased support from Federal and State governments to first home buyers. Total dwelling units approved and private housing approvals have both turned up this year but while the trend figure from the ABS for both is still rising in this morning’s figures, the seasonally adjusted number suggests the growth is coming to an end.

The big fall is in approvals for private sector dwelling units other than houses where the seasonally adjusted estimates for May fell 43.6%. The trend estimate for private sector other dwellings approved fell 3.4% in May and has now fallen for 11 months.

News from the Afghan front

From The Guardian.

Marvelling at the hypocrisy of politicians. I chuckled when I first read this morning, and am still chuckling as I type it, that Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee is “deeply disappointed” in the decision made by the state Supreme Court of Minnesota that will finally see the Democrat candidate Al Franken take his place in Washington as a Senator. Just cast your mind back to the initial election of George W. Bush in 2000 and the counting of the Florida vote as you read these comments of Mr Steele and you should see a funny side yourself:

I am deeply disappointed in the decision made by the state Supreme Court, and I share the frustration of Minnesota’s voters. At the core of our democracy lies two concrete principles: No valid vote should go uncounted and all votes should be treated equally. Sadly, those principles were not adhered to during this election.

While I would have proudly stood behind Norm Coleman had he chosen to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, I know that his decision to withdraw from this race was not an easy one, but one that he felt was the best decision for the people of Minnesota. For the last six years, Norm represented the people of Minnesota with distinction, earning a much deserved reputation as one of the hardest-working members of Congress. I, on behalf of all Republicans, thank him for his service and will miss his leadership in Washington.