From Australian elections to current and future economic stature, we bring you a collation of key updates for May 2022.
Economic Challenges Facing Australia After The Election
The pandemic, plummeting job market, and Russia-Ukraine war have caused more damage than anticipated to the Australian economy.
While the economy grew 4.2% in 2021 and the central bank is expecting a similar pace for 2022 of about 4.5% averaged over the year, it could likely hit a snag. The increase in fuel prices and property rates accounted for almost half the March quarter’s headline consumer price inflation spurt to 5.1%. The RBA summarised its monetary policy by stating, “A strong expansion in the Australian economy is underway and inflation will increase further”.
Not just liquid fuel prices are on an upward trend, but also the wholesale power prices are rising too. Last month, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) reported a rise of two-thirds in the March quarter to $87 per megawatt-hour. Accounting for roughly one-third of retail bills, the jump in generation costs is already showing up in utility charges with some New South Wales consumers hit with 30% tariff increases.
Additionally, pressure mounting for higher wages could pose a challenge for the next treasurer. The Australian Council of Trade Unions argued to lift the minimum wage by 5.5%. In addition, independent economist Saul Eslake said that both the Reserve Bank and the Treasury are forecasting that consumer spending see a huge spike. It will rise by more than 5% this year, which is the highest since 1984.
Anthony Albanese Sworn In As Australia’s New PM
Australia elected its first Labor government in over a decade. Anthony Albanese wins the Australian election against the conservative Liberal Party.
The newly sworn PM has confirmed Australia’s parliament will meet before the end of July. He has asked his party to begin work on anti-corruption ahead of time. Including anti-corruption, here are the 8 agendas that the new government aims to focus on:
- Anti-corruption commission
- Employment summit
- Respect at work
- Voice to parliament
- New agencies and funds
- Climate policy
- Aged care
- Cheaper childcare
Australia’s Unemployment Rate At 50-year Low At 3.9%
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that the nation’s unemployment remained steady at 3.9% in April 2022. However, it has hit a near 50-year low.
Bjorn Jarvis, head of labour statistics at the ABS, said “3.9% is the lowest the unemployment rate has been in the monthly survey. The last time the unemployment rate was lower than this was in August 1974, when the survey was quarterly.”
State-wise, WA was the best-performing state with its unemployment rate plunging to 2.9%, down from 3.4% in March. It overtook the ACT, which stood at 3.1%. NSW, showed another big plunge, with its jobless rate down to a record low of 3.5% (from 3.9%), while Victoria’s unemployment rate went up to 4.2% (from 4.0%). While Tasmania improved sharply from 4.5% to 3.8%, the NT remained unchanged at 4.1%. Queensland and SA both landed at 4.5%.
Rod Sims Says Media Bargaining Laws Must Apply To Facebook
The media bargaining code was legislated in 2021 so that Google and Facebook could potentially pay news publishers to display articles in the search engine and “newsfeed”, respectively. However, the government introduced a loophole. The government stated that the new laws did not apply to either of these tech companies as they were not “designated”.
Former competition boss, Rod Sims is urging the new government to ‘designate’ Facebook under the federal media bargaining code. This action could result in the tech giant receiving substantial fines in case they fail to strike deals with Australian news publishers, including SBS and The Conversation.
Australia’s Climate Data To UN Questioned
A recent study found a discrepancy in data reported to the UN regarding land clearing in Queensland. The national system found on average 245,767 hectares were cleared each year across 2018-19, while the study of data from Queensland’s state-wide landcover and tree study (Slats) shows 455,756 hectares of forests were cleared. As per the new study data, the forests are cleared at twice the rate of the reported figure.
If the national data reported to the UN is found to be incorrect, it would mean the government could claim only much smaller emissions cut over the past 16 years. This would put Australia off the track from meeting the Coalition’s target of a 26–28% cut in emissions by 2030.
Angus Taylor, a spokesperson for the federal energy and emissions reduction minister, rejected the Queensland study findings, stating, “Any suggestion that the inventory has underreported emissions from land clearing is incorrect and wrong. The methods and data used are reviewed each year by a team of international experts assembled by the UNFCCC.”
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