Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A little fact checking of claims made by NSW Nationals candidate for Page Kevin Hogan

Kevin Hogan For Page 31 July 2013

So unemployment has risen in the Northern Rivers since Federal Labor gained government in 2007?

The Northern Rivers Regional Profile 2011 Update states that in 2006 the Northern Rivers unemployment rate was between 7.9 and 20.1 per cent and, this occurred when there was a Federal Coalition Government.

In January 2013 the combined unemployment rate for the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast (from Tweed Heads down to Taree) was 6.8 per cent.
Which meant that there had been a 9 per cent increase in the number of people in the working age population who were employed compared to a 6.6 per cent increase for New South Wales generally.
The overall unemployment rate for the Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast between 2008-2013 was 0.5 per cent.

This same document stated:

The number of employed persons in regional NSW grew by 7.2% (85,000 persons) between 2008 and 2013. Newcastle experienced the largest growth (22,600 persons) followed closely by the Richmond-Tweed and Mid-North Coast region (19,700 persons).

Here is a graph showing the percentage of the Northern Rivers population of workforce age who were unemployed between September 2008 and March 2012 according to Regional Development Australia: Northern Rivers (2013) and, one can clearly see that this figure fell after peaking during the Global Financial Crisis

What about Kevin Hogan’s claim that Northern Rivers regional economy is not doing as well as it could?

It would appear that, contrary to his claim, the Northern Rivers is not doing too badly compared with the rest of regional New South Wales.

Lawrence Consulting and Regional Development Australia: Northern Rivers documents show that the Northern Rivers Gross Regional Product (GRP) has continued to grow annually. In 2008/9 it was $7.8 billion, in 2009/10 it was $11.1 billion and, by 2011/12 the annual growth of GRP was 11.4 per cent compared with overall NSW GRP growth at 2.2 per cent.

As to the Kevin Hogan’s claims that the Northern Rivers families are struggling with the costs?

Here is a 2012 table showing the weekly personal incomes of the entire population across the Northern Rivers (from dependent children through to those aged 65 years and older) according to Regional Development Australia: Northern Rivers:

Click on image to enlarge

As for Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) determinations regarding the cost of living - it can be seen that cost increases are not generally rising sharply and in some categories appear to be falling over time.

The CPI rose 3.1% through the year to the December quarter 2011, compared with a rise of 3.5% through the year to the September quarter 2011.

The living cost index for employee households rose 0.2% for the June quarter 2013. The main contributor to the rise was alcohol and tobacco (+1.3%), partially due to the flow–on effects of the federal excise tax increase on 1 February 2013. Clothing and footwear (+2.6%) and health (+1.8%) also contributed to the rise.
The most significant partially offsetting fall was recorded for insurance and financial services (–0.9%), driven by a fall in interest charges. Transport (–0.9%) and recreation and culture (–0.8%) also recorded falls this quarter.
The LCI for employee households recorded a smaller rise than the CPI (+0.4%) for the June quarter 2013. Employee households have a relatively lower proportion of expenditure on housing than the CPI population, which recorded a rise this quarter. This was further offset by the fall in interest charges, which for conceptual reasons is not included in the CPI.
The LCI for employee households rose 1.4% through the year to the June quarter 2013 compared to the CPI which rose 2.4% through the year to the June quarter 2013.

While the  Living Cost Index and Consumer Price Index comparisons for independent retirees and those receiving government pensions, benefits and allowances show that the percentage change has fallen from between June-September Quarters 2012 and March-June Quarters 2013:

What about Hogan’s claim that Northern Rivers debt is at record levels?

He does not indicate whether he means public or private debt which makes this assertion difficult to check.

If it is public debt, then The Australian has reported that under the O'Farrell Coalition Government the state debt projections (based on NSW Treasury figures) are as follows:

As for local government debt, one has to acknowledge that all Northern Rivers local government would carry some degree of operating debt and all would have a backlog of infrastructure maintenance/upgrade requirements. As local government is a creature of state government, one can hardly sheet home blame for its structural/funding inadequacies to the federal government  - especially since the Australian Constitution presently makes no mention of a direct funding relationship between the Commonwealth and local governments.

To place council debt into some sort of perspective, here are tables covering revenue sources for local government across the Northern Rivers in 2011-12.

No comments: