Environment Minister Greg Hunt dodges questions

K.J. Lewis writes: Re. “Crikey says: Hunt needs a plan B” (yesterday). Apparently Hunt knew what he was talking about — he was probably the only one. Why can’t these professional prevaricators and obfuscators be questioned by people with an in-depth knowledge of these niche subjects, instead of by journalists with an at best superficial opinion they know all there is to know? Dwell upon certain phrases or words in an answer, to be expanded upon? Or interviewed in conjunction with those that do know more, so they can contradict these professional vagaries? What does Hunt’s “deep and personal commitment” to anything have to do with what would have been done already, before he became “Yes Minister”? Who is going to be judging the suitability of these projects into the future? That question didn’t occur to be explored?

Workforce participation rate a smokescreen for unemployment

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Coalition inherits a workforce participation challenge” (yesterday). Once again Glenn Dyer and Bernard Keane have excelled in not understanding one of the key reasons why the workforce participation rates have fallen for so long —  that is that there is a decline in the number of jobs available. Why look harder for non-existent jobs? Currently the ABS estimates that there are 132,000 vacancies (advertised and not advertised) vs. a real unemployment figure of two-million-plus, as revealed in the ABS annual unemployment survey.

No one, apart from Glenn and Bernard, should believe in the monthly unemployment figure of 5.8%, as it emanates from the monthly labour force survey which is based on a political definition of unemployment, not an actuarial one. The lack of vacancies was the one key point missing from this story. The current vacancy rate stands at just over five unemployed people for every vacancy, the lowest for many years. If every job available was filled instantly, there would still be more than 700,000 people unemployed, or really two-million-plus if you used a more accurate definition of unemployment. Any signs of so-called improvement is usually due to a drop in the participation rate and on the most important measure of all, vacancies, it’s getting much worse, under both the Liberals and Labor.

Abbott and Bishop embarrassing us across the world

Venise Altergren writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday). As suspected, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is proving to be an ignorant amateur in the field of international politics. His less than extensive knowledge prevents him from understanding that free trade agreements always benefit the stronger negotiator. The Chinese, with their not inconsiderable experience in these matters, will end up with the sharp end of the lollipop. And, as usual, Australia will end up with the fuzzy end. If the Liberal Party have any desire to be in power for more than six months, they would be well advised to dump him.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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