Just increasing the debt

Harry Wallace writes: Re. “Consumers, services put Australia back into trend growth” (yesterday). Please get your journalists to look at the overall picture when quoting ABS results. Today’s GDP comments by Glenn and Bernard ignored Tuesday’s horrendous ABS Current Account results!

Cat 5302 shows that for the 2015 Calendar year Australia’s foreign income was $73 billion less than our expenditure. So those GDP results only happened because we sold off assets and borrowed heavily from foreigners. We borrowed with our ears back! As at December 31 our NET foreign debt topped $1 trillion at $1002 billion for just 24 million people! This debt is real because it is from our banks, companies and institutions, as public as any government debt!

Anyone using borrowed money can get a good GDP. It is the utter immorality of Boomers and others living it up while leaving the debt to coming generations.

PS: If you are going to join the current adulation of John Howard please remember that Australia’s total foreign indebtedness (our IIP) more than doubled under the Howard/Costello reign! This, despite them having the best boom time from mineral exports in our history!

Fantasy Senate, part two

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “A fantasy Senate” (Tuesday). Jackson Harding produced an impressive bit of work. There were just two issues to revisit. The first was the fact of the Senate President having a deliberative vote on all issues, the second was Section 282 of the Electoral Act. This section provides for an alternative means of determining the long term and short term Senators. This has only been used in 1987 but is determined by the Senate. In 1987 the Labor and Democrat Senators voted to use the actual order of election as opposed to use that which would result as if a half-Senate election had been held. The latter would normally favour major parties, and means that Senate blocks with larger votes would have more Senators elected for six year terms.

The figures that Jackson has produced for half Senate election reflect the outcome of S282 in determining long term Senators. In summary the 36 long term Senators are: LNP 17, ALP 12, Green 4, Lazarus 1, Xenophon 2. The 40 short term Senators are LNP 20, ALP 15, Green 4, Xenophon.

In 2019/20 the third ALP Senators in NSW, Tasmania, are at risk of losing to the Greens; and in SA, a LNP Senator is at risk, the ALP could pick up a Senator and a Green Senator is at risk.

If the numbers fell in 2016 as Jackson predicts the change on current Senate numbers are: LNP gain 4, ALP gain 2, Greens lose 2, Lazarus is unchanged, Xenophon gains 2, minor parties lose 6. Such a Senate would enable a government to fashioning a blocking vote with the smallest block of one Senator Lazarus, and a majority with any of ALP, or Greens or Xenophon. The official opposition the ALP would not be that “disadvantaged” in this equation. It is stronger and has to share media coverage of the Senate with fewer players. Gary Gray’s predisposition for the changes are hardly surprising as Sam Dastaryi’s argument is based on a complete distortion of possible informal vote percentages. The 1984 problem was with the House of Representatives vote not the Senate.

Peter Fray

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