THE LAST GASP: Wiping the floor

This week Canberra follows the economic lead of Europe, John Howard mops up Tony Abbott's policy and a building union brings down the house.

The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s news, every week. This week the federal government maintains its policy of bowing to big business, John Howard offers some much-appreciated advice to the Liberals, and the construction union huffs, puffs and stops building things.

We all rolled over and the floor fell out

Arriving a few weeks late for the Olympics, the federal government performed a perfect 10 backflip when it bowed to pressure from the business community and scrapped the proposed floor price on its incoming carbon emissions trading scheme. Instead, Australia's scheme will now be linked to the European carbon market from July 2015, negating the previously legislated $15 floor price. It’s a logical move from the government, because if you’re going to tie economic policy to anywhere else in the world, why not make it Europe? They seem to have the show completely under control. The federal Opposition said the backflip shows a genuine pattern of chaos and confusion within the government. As opposed to the calm and calculated Coalition, which couldn’t work out if its leader has read a BHP release or not. That man, Tony Abbott, has accused the government of being "wrong-headed" over the European link. He later allegedly described the mining tax as ‘super gross’ and called Julia Gillard a ‘stupid-face’.

Take it from me

Much-loved former Prime Minister John Howard popped up again this week, with off-the-record comments he made over a month ago somehow all of a sudden becoming big news. Howard has urged the opposition to bring back the individual employment contracts that existed during the Howard-run Work Choices era. It’s a great idea for the Coalition given how popular the laws were at the time, and should add to some already great recent poll result for the Liberals.

Well hello there kettle

Howard also used his speech to hit out against a recently emerged attitude from the Liberal Party toward Chinese foreign investment in Australia. The former PM said the government should welcome more Chinese investment, regardless of whether the money comes from state-owned enterprises or not. The comments follow suggestions from Abbott earlier this month during a tour of China that it would rarely be in Australia's interest to allow a foreign government to control local business. Labor sources have allegedly slammed the stance, saying that with that attitude, a Liberal government could go banning companies from participating in Australian infrastructure projects based simply on their country of origin. And that would be disgusting. Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Howard comments show that the Liberal foreign investment policy is currently a shambles. As opposed to the calm and well thought-out policies of the ALP on, say, asylum seekers.

But I haven’t thought of you lately at all

Global banking giant Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit came out in support of more regulation in the global banking sector this week, but said he would resist a push to force banks to choose between lending and trading on global markets. Pandit allegedly argued that such an artificial separation would be difficult, and also make it extremely hard for lenders to fleece money from depositors who don’t really understand where it was going. The chief executive admitted the banking industry had a lot of trust recently, and said the recent Libor scandal had hurt the sector badly. It’s a fair point from Pandit, given that before that story broke, the relationship between banks and the public was basically at an all-time high.

Nice guys finish projects

Bill Shorten was forced to attempt to broker a deal this week between the construction group Grocon and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, after a series of protests halted construction at a site belonging to the group in the Melbourne central business district. The extended Melbourne action broke out into violence midweek and even led to protests in Sydney – which later turned out to be mostly not employees of the group. But hey, it’s not like employment is a condition of being able to protest against employment conditions. Is it?

Some things you do for money, some things you do for 15-love

Tennis Australia got a scare this week when news of a player boycott cast a shadow over its key event, the Australian Open. Media reports claimed the Association of Tennis Professionals, which governs the men's game worldwide, was considering staging an alternative tournament in Dubai in January in protest over player payments for early-round exists at Australia’s flagship tennis tournament. Players are upset that first-round losers at the open receive just $20,800. The poor buggers. The winners at Melbourne Park will walk away with $2.3 million. Perhaps that is a good place to start if organisers are looking for extra funds to spread around.

Quick misses

ALP backbencher Kevin Rudd has told a mining conference that Tony Abbot does not ‘get’ Africa, but said his deputy Julie Bishop had a good understanding of the continent. It’s a wise move from the former PM, given anyone who has seen Bishop’s death stare knows not to get on her bad side.

Jackson Hole is the most unfortunately named place in the world. Do they know they can change it? They should change it.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says those who use Australian courts constantly should expect to pay more to ensure the legal system becomes more accessible. Expert litigator Clive Palmer is unfazed by the news, but has allegedly promised to sue Nicola Roxon.

InvestSMART FORUM: Come and meet the team

We're loading up the van and going on tour from April to June, with events on the NSW central & north coast, the QLD mid-north coast and in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Come and meet the team and take home simple strategies that you can use to build an investment portfolio to weather any storm. Book your spot here.

Want access to our latest research and new buy ideas?

Start a free 15 day trial and gain access to our research, recommendations and market-beating model portfolios.

Sign up for free

Related Articles