Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label statistics. Show all posts

Monday, 9 October 2017

Polling numbers not looking good for Turnbull Government as regional Australia loses patience

The Australian, 9 October 2017:

The quarterly Newspoll analysis, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows Labor continues to lead the Coalition by 53 to 47 per cent in two-party terms, holding the same advantage for three consecutive quarters this year.

In a shock result for the government in one of its key constituencies, the Coalition’s primary vote among voters outside the five capital cities fell from 36 to 34 per cent over the three months to the end of September.

The outcome is the government’s lowest result in regional Australia since it secured a narrow election victory last year with a 44 per cent primary vote outside the capitals, 10 percentage points higher than the new polling.

In a dramatic turnaround, Labor now has stronger core support than the Coalition among voters outside the capital cities, with its primary vote rising from 34 to 36 per cent over the quarter.

The outcome raises questions about the performance of the Nationals and country Liberals in shoring up support when the government’s fate could hinge on a handful of regional electorates in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

This is the first time Labor has taken the lead over the Coalition among regional and rural voters since last year’s election, when its primary vote outside the capital cities was only 30.8 per cent……

The survey of 9889 voters from July to September combines results from Newspolls conducted over the quarter, smoothing out short-term movements and resulting in a smaller margin of error of 1 per cent for national results.

While the Newspoll published on September 25 showed the government had seen a small slip in its support over three weeks, with the Coalition trailing Labor by 46 to 54 per cent in two-party terms, the quarterly analysis shows an overall trend of 47 to 53 per cent in two-party terms throughout this year……

The government lags Labor in two-party terms in each state in the Newspoll analysis, ranging from a 47-53 result in Western Australia and Victoria to a 46-54 gap in Queensland and a 45-55 result in South Australia. The government improved its fortunes in NSW, narrowing the gap against Labor from 47-53 to 48-52 in two-party-preferred terms from one quarter to the next, and saw a similar one-point gain in South Australia while suffering a one-point decline in Queensland.

The Liberal Party is facing some of its toughest battles in seats outside the big cities, including the regional Victorian seat of Corangamite held by Sarah Henderson, the NSW south coast seat of Gilmore held by Ann Sudmalis, the NSW central coast seat of Robertson held by Lucy Wicks, and the northern Queensland seat of Leichhardt held by retiring Warren Entsch.

The Nationals are also under pressure in traditional strongholds including the NSW north coast seat of Page held by Kevin Hogan and the Queensland seat of Capricornia held by Michelle Landry. [my yellow highlighting]

Monday, 25 September 2017

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! cries Michaelia

This was Australian Minister for Employment and Senator for Western Australia, Michaelia Cash in September 2017:

Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, what Ms. Cash is confirming here is that 74,400 of the jobs she is claiming are in fact only part-time jobs and some would be for as little as half a day per week.

July 2016 – 11.963 million
August 2016 – 11.870 million
September 2016 – 11.910 million
October 2016 – 11.952 million
November 2016 – 12.017 million
December 2016 – 12.106 million
January 2017 – 11.844 million
February 2017 – 12.060 million
March 2017 – 12.079 million
April 2017 –  12.147 million
May 2017 – 12.214 million
June 2017 – 12.210 million
July 2017 – 12.213 million
August 2017 – 12.195 million
September 2017 – not known at this time

Comparing the month of August 2016 with the month of August 2017 then the number of additional persons in employment is estimated at 324,900 people of which est. 75,400 individuals were working part-time.

Perhaps the better figure is for a financial year. The number of additional persons in employment at the end of 1 July 2016-30 June 2017 financial year is estimated at 246,900 people of which est. 184,300 individuals were working part-time.

How many of those part-time jobs were Work For The Dole employment or were PaTH jobs is uncertain. Both these government programs are not known for leading to high levels of permanent employment.

There is also the statistical difficulty that any growth in the number of people employed doesn’t necessarily mean an equal number of new jobs was created during the same period. Some job vacancies were created when workers permanently left the workforce, changed positions within a business or changed employer.

Something Ms. Cash would know full well.

So while the Minister can point to an improvement in employment levels, these levels are not as robust as she would have us believe.

Looking at the numbers since August 2013 Tony Abbott’s promised two million new jobs created within a decade is never likely to eventuate.

While on the NSW North Coast the unemployment rate ranges from 5.4% in Richmond-Tweed to 8% in Coffs Harbour-Grafton in July 2017. The Coffs Harbour-Grafton Labour Force Region unemployment rate continuing as the highest rate in New South Wales.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Marriage Equality and levels of community support

The Guardian, 21 August 2017:

A majority of Australians favour changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry and over 80% of respondents also plan to vote in the looming postal survey, according to the latest Guardian Essential poll.

The latest weekly survey of 1,817 voters found that 57% of the sample favours a change to the law to allow marriage equality, with 32% against and 11% saying they don’t know.

People most supportive of the change are Labor voters (71%), Greens voters (69%), women (65%) and voters aged between 18-34 (65%).

Asked about the likelihood of voting in the non-compulsory postal ballot, 63% said they would definitely vote, 18% said they would probably vote, 4% said they would probably not vote and 6% said they would definitely not vote – with 9% unsure.

Yes voters are more likely to participate than no voters. Seventy-four per cent of those in favour of same-sex marriage will definitely vote compared with 58% of those opposed.

Close to 90% of respondents (88%) said they were enrolled to vote at their current address, while 7% said they weren’t and 5% were unsure. Supporters of same-sex marriage are a bit more likely to be enrolled than those who are opposed (92% compared with 86%).

The ballot itself remains deeply contentious, with 49% of the sample disapproving of it and 39% approving. The postal ballot has become more unpopular since marriage equality advocates confirmed they would challenge it in the high court.


Challenges to the voluntary postal survey were dismissed by the High Court of Australia on 7 September 2017.

Monday, 11 September 2017

No sign of an increase in employees' share of Australian economic growth

Financial Review, 6 September 2017:

Wage growth is showing no sign of the increases the Reserve Bank of Australia is banking on, with average employee compensation going backwards and hourly pay growth at record lows.

The economy's overall wages bill rose a modest 0.7 per cent in the June quarter and 2.1 per cent for the year, according to the latest national accounts figures, but fell per non-farm employee by 0.3 per cent on a quarterly and annual basis.

The data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday, suggests that while more people are getting into work, with 240,000 jobs created over the year, the jobs are also lower paid on average.

Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales said the wage figures were even worse when broken down to average employee compensation per hour.

Annual growth in compensation per hour fell over the June quarter from 1.1 per cent to negative 0.3 per cent, the weakest growth in almost 25 years.

While the hourly figures are volatile, the Reserve Bank last year cited strong compensation growth per hour as a cause for optimism in the face of persistent low wage growth.

Mr Dales said that "there is no evidence whatsoever that wage growth has started to rise as the RBA expects".

Professional and technical services, covering engineers and IT workers, as well as health care drove the overall growth in the nation's wages bill.

History of monetary compensation for number of hours worked - 1985 to 2015

Monday, 4 September 2017

So you held out a hope that the Turnbull Government's use of the SSM postal survey results would be straightforward?

The forthcoming Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey will contain one clearly worded question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

This question can be answered “Yes” or “No” by those Australian citizens on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll who choose to participate.

The Turnbull Government has stated that a simple majority survey result will mean that legislation legalising same-sex marriage will be introduced in the federal parliament.

However, the vote of government senators and MPs will not be bound by the results of this survey – their vote on this legislation is a ‘free’ vote.

Almost sounds kosher, doesn’t it?

Ah, but this is a government full of far-right warriors determined to protect a ‘superior’ white Christian culture which has only ever really existed in their own minds and the minds of their fellow travellers.

So the Australian Bureau of Statistics website carries this information concerning the postal survey:

Readers will notice that survey results will be broken down by age and gender and, more importantly, by state or territory and federal electorates.

Call me cynical, but these demographic groupings will allow both the Turnbull Cabinet and all government senators and MPs to decide if survey participation in their own Liberal and National Party seats was either high enough or low enough for them to risk voting against same-sex marriage legislation and yet still have a chance of retaining their Senate or House of Representatives seats (as well as those generous parliamentary incomes & entitlements) in 2018.

So for those living in the federal electorates of Aston, Banks, Barker, Bennelong, Berowra, Bonner, Boothby, Bowman, Bradfield, Brisbane, Calare, Canning, Capricornia, Casey, Chisholm, Cook, Corangamite, Cowper, Curtin, Dawson, Deakin, Dickson, Dunkley, Durack, Fadden, Fairfax, Farrer, Fisher, Flinders, Flynn, Forde, Forrest, Gilmore, Gippsland, Goldstein, Grey, Groom, Hasluck, Higgins, Hinkler, Hughes, Hume, Kooyong, La Trobe, Leichardt, Lyne, Mackellar, Mallee, Maranoa, McMillan, McPherson, Menzies, Mitchell, Moncrieff, Moore, Murray, New England, North Sydney, O’Connor, Page, Parkes, Pearce, Petrie, Reid, Riverina, Robertson, Ryan, Stirling, Stuart, Swan, Tangney, Wannon, Warringah, Wentworth, Wide Bay, and Wright – your “Yes” or “No”  is probably going to count much more to these 76 Coalition MPs than those of everyone else.

Because the likes of Tony Abbott MP for Warringah, Kevin Andrews MP for Menzies and Andrew Hastie MP for Canning are only going to be swayed by what they perceive as their own self-interest.

For them it has never been about an individual's dignity, human rights or equality.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The anti-same sex marriage lobby and below-the-radar bedfellows

There is not much transparency in the same-sex marriage debate ahead of the voluntary postal vote.

Take these websites which appear to have been purpose created in the last twelve months wth the deliberate aim of influencing voters on a specific issue…….

The Big Deal About Marriage at and It’s OK To Say NO at

These sites are registered by the Trustee for Antidote and Dean Millington according to Whois DOMAINTOOLS.

The Trustee for Antidote is a discretionary services management trust which has been operating since 2005 under the trading name ANTIDOTE Marketing and Dean Millington is a director.

The company does not appear to list any individual or anti same-sex marriage lobby group amongst its predominately pharma & health services clients.

According to Antidote website and Millington amongst these clients/business partners are:

Fresenius Kabi
Princeton Health
Princeton Digital
Ergo Advertising
VIVA Communications
Data Jukebox
DCM Partners

I wonder if these companies feel comfortable being (albeit remotely) associated with two anti-gay marriage websites which produce what are essentially simplistic, irrelevant, nonsensical or downright dubious conclusions from sometimes misrepresented data and studies.

For instance Pfizer Australia states on its own website:

Pfizer Australia employs more than 1,700 scientists, chemists, doctors, marketers, machine operators and other professional colleagues. We provide opportunities in a range of fields including medical, research and development, manufacturing, health economics, marketing and sales and regulatory affairs.
Pfizer Australia is committed to the recruitment, advancement and fair treatment of individuals without discrimination based on factors such as race, disability, sex, age, ethnic or national origin, religion, citizenship, family or marital status, political beliefs, sexual preference or other factors included in the Equal Employment Opportunity Legislation. Our Pfizer Values have ensured that this statement is more than a legal obligation. It is a way of life and a business-driven philosophy.

One suspects that this large multinational corporation would perhaps prefer to hold a neutral position on the current same-sex marriage debate in this country.

Given that these linked anti-same sex marriage websites offer site visitors a booklet written by Dr Con Kafataris, a member of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP), who publicly promotes “the case for traditional and Biblical marriage” one might suspect either the doctor or the CDP financed this website.

Either way, at the time of writing this post these websites were careful to make no mention of ownership or funding details.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Things are crook at Tallarook for the Turnbull Government in August 2017

On 21 August 2017 The Australian published the 18th Newspoll in a row with negative numbers for the Coalition Federal Government:

The Turnbull government has taken a battering after a week of turmoil over the citizenship of key ministers, with the Coalition trailing Labor by 46 to 54 per cent in another brutal verdict from voters.

Labor has climbed to its strongest primary vote this year, with its core support at 38 per cent, giving it a convincing lead that would see it form government with a gain of 20 seats if the trend held at the next federal election.

The latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows the government’s primary vote has fallen from 36 to 35 per cent over the past two weeks, amid internal rows over same-sex ­marriage and the storm over the foreign citizenship of three cabinet ministers.

Malcolm Turnbull has lost ground to Bill Shorten in his personal standing with Australians but has held his lead as preferred prime minister, favoured by 43 per cent of voters compared with 33 per cent who prefer the Oppos­ition Leader…..

The combined effect has widened Labor’s lead to 54 per cent to 46 per cent in two-party terms, a swing of more than 4 per cent against the government since the election in July last year….

The Newspoll survey of 1675 respond­ents, conducted from Thursday to yesterday, saw most of the results move within the margin of error of 2.4 percentage points, except for the fall in Mr Turnbull’s rating as better prime minister and the greater dissatisfaction with both leaders.

This is the 18th consecutive Newspoll in which the Coalition has trailed Labor in two-party terms, a tally that is now used against Mr Turnbull by his critics because he cited the loss of “30 Newspolls in a row” as a reason for challenging Tony Abbott in September 2015.

The swing against the government, if repeated in a uniform fashion at the next election, would lead to the loss of about 20 seats — eight in Queensland, four in Victoria, four in NSW, one in South Australia and three in Western Australia.

Mr Turnbull has retained his lead over Mr Shorten as preferred prime minister but the gap between­ the two has narrowed.

Voters cut their support for Mr Turnbull as better prime minister from 46 to 43 per cent, while increasing­ their support for Mr Shorten from 31 to 33 per cent.

The proportion of voters who were “uncommitted” increased from 23 to 24 per cent.

As a result, Mr Turnbull is now 10 points ahead of Mr Shorten on this measure, compared with a lead of 15 percentage points two weeks ago.

Primary vote

If the federal election for the house of representatives was held today, which one of the following would you vote for? If uncommitted, to which one of these do you have a leaning?

Two-party preferred

Based on the preference flow at the July 2016 federal election.
Leaders' net satisfaction

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the Prime Minister is doing his job? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way the Leader of the Opposition is doing his job?

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Melbourne Institute's HILDA survey report 2017

Commenced in 2001, the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey is a nationally representative longitudinal study of Australian households. The study is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne. Roy Morgan Research has conducted the fieldwork since Wave 9 (2009), prior to which The Nielsen Company was the fieldwork provider.
The HILDA Survey seeks to provide longitudinal data on the lives of Australian residents. It annually collects information on a wide range of aspects of life in Australia, including household and family relationships, child care, employment, education, income, expenditure, health and wellbeing, attitudes and values on a variety of subjects, and various life events and experiences. Information is also collected at less frequent intervals on various topics, including household wealth, fertility related behaviour and plans, relationships with non-resident family members and non-resident partners, health care utilisation, eating habits, cognitive functioning and retirement.
The important distinguishing feature of the HILDA Survey is that the same households and individuals are interviewed every year, allowing us to see how their lives are changing over time. By design, the study can be infinitely lived, following not only the initial sample members for the remainder of their lives, but also their children and all subsequent descendants

Download the report here.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

If an Australian federal election was held today......

The sixteenth consecutive Newspoll shows the Labor Party leading the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.

This time by 53 to 47 per cent on a two-party preferred basis calculated on the preference flow at the July 2016 federal election.

The primary vote in this latest poll was: Coalition 36​ (​+1) Labor 37 (+1) Greens 9 (-1) One Nation 9​ (-2) Others 9 (+1)

The survey of 1,677 voters, taken between Thursday 20 July and Sunday 23 July 2017, has a margin of error of 2.4 per cent.

As the two party preferred percentages for Labor and the Coalition have remained unchanged for the last five Newspolls this is what the Australian Parliament might look like:

Swing percentage is based on most recent data from Newspoll on a two party preferred basis
and represents changes in seats for the Coalition and Labor Party only. Data source: Newspoll
The Australian, online, 23 July 2017

Friday, 30 June 2017

June 2017 and another disappointing Newspoll for Turnbull & Co

Political strategists in both the Liberal and National parties must be wondering what else they can possibly do to swing opinion polls in the Coalition's favour.

Terrafret isn’t working its magic as strongly as before, welfare bashing no longer draws the big crowds and, budget measures can’t disguise the general lack of policy direction.

The Australian, 26 June 2017:

The survey of 6843 voters from April to June shows Labor has a commanding lead over the ­Coalition of 53 per cent to 47 per cent in two-party terms at a ­national level and in every state except South Australia, where it has an even bigger advantage……

Support for Labor has increased from 39 to 42 per cent in Western Australia on first preferences in the past quarter, adding to a trend over the past year to make this one of Labor’s strongest states, compared to being one of the weakest at the last election.

While Labor’s primary-vote support in WA has surged almost 10 percentage points since the July election, the Coalition’s support has fallen by nine percentage points to 40 per cent……

The Coalition’s primary vote in Queensland has fallen from 43.2 per cent at the last election to 33 per cent in the quarterly Newspoll survey, the biggest slump in any state for the government.

While Queensland voters shifted against the government in the six months after the election, the Coalition’s support in South Australia remained steady until ­December and then fell from 35 to 29 per cent in primary terms……

The rise of One Nation has eroded the Coalition’s support in most states while Labor has tended to hold ground or slightly increase its appeal in each battleground, with its primary vote rising from 34.7 per cent at the election to 36 per cent in this quarterly Newspoll, unchanged from the previous three months…..

Monday, 12 June 2017

Crime remains comparatively low in the NSW Northern Rivers region during the first quarter of 2017

As communities in the NSW Northern Rivers have come to expect our region is not the worst when it comes to instances of recorded crime but it is not the best either.

In the first quarter of 2017 in Coffs Harbour-Grafton and Richmond-Tweed statistical areas recorded incidents for domestic violence, non-domestic assault, sexual assault, indecent assault & other sexual offences all rose, while Richmond-Tweed saw the number of people murdered rise from one to four.

Tweed and Clarence Valley local government areas had the highest recorded incidents for domestic violence in the Northern Rivers at 312 and 213 instances respectively and, Lismore and Tweed local government areas had the highest recorded incidents for sexual assault at 77 and 56 instances respectively.

Indecent assault & other sexual offences were most prevalent in the Lismore local government area at 107 instances.

While the dubious honour of highest recorded incidents for non-domestic violence goes to Tweed (292), Lismore (281) and Clarence Valley (278) local government areas.

Sadly, it would appear that crimes against the person are our forte thus far in 2017.





NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, media release, 8 June 2017:

Crime remains low: NSW Recorded Crime Statistics quarterly update March 2017

None of the major crime categories have increased in NSW over the last two years. In the 24 months to March 2017, four of the 17 major offences were trending downward and the remaining 13 were stable.

The offences trending down were:
1. robbery with a weapon not a firearm (down 10.9%);
2. break and enter dwelling (down 5.9%);
3. steal from person (down 15.2%);
4. fraud (down 4.3%).

However, parts of the Hunter and Western NSW have experienced significant increases in particular crimes over the two year period to March 2017.

Newcastle and Lake Macquarie experienced a significant increase in four of the 17 major offences:  non-domestic assault (up 6.9%), steal from retail store (up 19.6%), steal from dwelling (up 8.7%) and malicious damage to property (up 9.6%).

The New England and North West have experienced significant increases in three of the 17 major offences: non-domestic assault (up 4.1%), break and enter - dwelling (up 16.2%) and steal from dwelling (up 20.8%).

The Far West and Orana have experienced significant increases in three major property offences: break and enter - dwelling (up 18.8%), motor vehicle theft (up 28.1%) and steal from retail store (up 28.0%).

Commenting on the results the Deputy Director of the Bureau, Jackie Fitzgerald, said that while it was reassuring that no major offences were trending upwards at the State level it should not be overlooked that some pockets of NSW were experiencing crime problems. 

“The growth in crimes in the West and North West of NSW is particularly concerning because the crime rates in these areas are already more than twice, and in some cases more than three times the State average.”

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Turnbull Government not exactly charging ahead in latest Newspoll - which is unlikely to foster calm and considered decision making on the part of the prime minister

These polling numbers represent a dangerous period for the people of Australia.

We already have Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull quickly popping over to a war zone this month for a photo opportunity in a flak jacket (left) and he is scheduled to meet with President Trump on 4 May 2017 to talk about the Korean situation, China and whatever thought bubble is exercising the U.S. president's mind at the time.

No prizes for suspecting Turnbull will offer more support for Trump's attempt to force a breakdown of the almost 64 year-old military armistice agreement between the United Nations and Korean People's Army & Chinese People's Volunteers and, a recommencement of the hostilities with North Korea.

After all, becoming a war leader is almost always good for polling numbers - at least in the first heady rush into combat - and both Turnbull and Trump have persistently low voter satisfaction levels which neither can currently shake off as well as unhealthy budget deficits and/or public debt levels*.

Both the U.S. governing Republican Party and the Australian governing Liberal-Nationals Coalition go the ballot box again in 2018, with mid-term elections for the U.S on 6 November and a general election in Australia anytime from 4 August 2018 through to 18 May 2019.

* In January 2017 the US Government budget deficit was an est. US$559 billion and public debt stood at est.US$14.8 trillion. While the Australian Government budget deficit stood at est. AUD$42.5 billion and public debt at AUD$323.8 billion net

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Turnbull Government may strike a pose each and every day - that won't change the mood in the electorate

Right now the political colour of Australian government is Liberal-Nationals 3 (Federal, NSW, Tas) to Labor 6 (ACT, NT, Qld, SA, Vic, WA).

The Turnbull Government next goes to the polls at a federal general election sometime between 4 August 2018 and 18 May 2019.

Before then Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania face the voters again at state elections.

Between August 2018 and May 2019 News South Wales and Victoria also have elections.

While the Northern Territory doesn’t have to think about a state election again until 2020. [Australian Parliament website, States and territories: next election dates]

The Liberal and Nationals political fight for voters hearts and minds is going to be fierce and is likely to be nasty given they have so few allies at state government level.

This is what they have to overcome to regain the electorates confidence in both tiers of government - their own entitlement culture, a predilection for budgetary cost cutting at the expense of the poor and vulnerable which smacks of class warfare, an ideological straightjacket hampering vital national policies and open hostility to ordinary wage earners.

Social media is beginning to draw all these strands together………….

The AIM Network, 18 March 2017:

Sally McManus is the hero of workers. Turnbull is welcome to try to villainise her, but in doing so, he’s only making himself the enemy.

In her first television interview as head representative of people who work, McManus was involved in what media-insiders call a ‘gotcha moment’. Courtesy of the get-me-a-gotcha-moment-in-place-of-any-useful-political-analysis-queen, Leigh Sales. In their version of events, McManus was in hot water for backing the safety of workers at any cost, even if that cost is breaking laws designed to help employers shirk any responsibility for protecting people who work for them.

Right wingers squealed in delight when Sales drew supposably controversial comments out of McManus so early in the piece. The attacks came thick and fast from all the obvious places, including many journalists, who tut-tutted about law-breaking as if the law-breaking in question was home invasion or carjacking. Even those from Fairfax, who were more than happy to illegally strike in protest at their own colleagues being sacked, apparently can’t see the irony of criticising workers who do the same thing when a colleague is killed. Christopher Pyne, jumping on McManus like a seagull on a chip, called on her to resign. Turnbull, grasping for something to divert from his own failures, said he couldn’t work with her.

A year ago, this whole episode would have been yet another predictable, not worth mentioning, union bashing media-beat-up. But things have changed in the past few months. People have woken up to wealth inequality. Australia saw this wake up contribute to Brexit and the election of Trump. Closer to home, we’ve had One Nation pop up in Turnbull’s double dissolution, only to be over-egged and come crashing back down in the WA election, where, lo and behold, Labor achieved an 8% swing in their primary vote without any help from minors.

Throughout this time, Turnbull’s government continues to be a mixture of insipid do-nothing indecision, scandal and destruction, infighting and chaos, ideological bastardy and economic incompetence while they sidestep from one policy disaster to the next. Amongst the attacks to Medicare, the undermining of welfare through the Centrelink debacle, the failure on energy policy, the distractions from fringe fundamentalists such as anti-marriage-equality and repealing hate-speech laws, there is one policy which stands shiny and red as the most detestable, a pimple on a bum of failure: an attack to wages through a cut to penalty rates. This decision was the nail in Turnbull’s coffin. Commentators and Federal Liberals can claim all they like that the electoral result in WA was a result of local issues. But there is absolutely no doubting that a cut to wages saw voters melting off Liberals like sweat from Turnbull’s, and Hanson’s brow.

Let’s get something clear. Wages are the central concern of the electorate. Yes, most of us have other concerns, including climate change, education, healthcare, infrastructure, housing affordability, energy policy, immigration, just to name a few. But first on Maslow’s Hierarchy of political needs for left-wing and right-wing voters alike is an economic indicator which is being felt personally in homes from Broome to Launceston, from Townsville to Bankstown: record low wage growth. To put it bluntly, workers aren’t paid enough for the productive labour they contribute to the economy. There is plenty of money being made. It’s just not reaching those who create it….

Read the full article here.

And polls are showing a level of unhappiness that is hard to miss........

Essential Report, 21 March 2017:

The Liberal Party’s main attributes were – too close to the big corporate and financial interest (71%), will promise anything to win votes (71%), out of touch with ordinary people (68%) and divided (68%).
 Main changes since June last year were – divided (up 16%) and has a good team of leaders (down 9%).

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 March 2017:

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Australians do not trust banks with their super, 7 out of 10 want a not-for-profit system, Essential Research polling reveals

AAP MediaNet, media release, 3 March 2017:

Australians do not trust banks with their super, 7 out of 10 want not-for-profit system, new polling reveals

Explosive new polling shows that when it comes to superannuation, most Australians don’t trust the big banks and over two-thirds want the system to run on a not-for-profit basis with all returns to members.
The Essential poll of 1000 people, commissioned by Industry Super Australia, has found that only 31% trust that the banks will ensure the superannuation system works in their best interest. This compares to 38% for the Federal Government; 61% for the Fair Work Commission; and 69% for Industry Super Funds.  
Consumers feel strongly that their interests should be the sole focus - 70% believe all super funds should be not-for-profit with all returns to members rather than split with shareholders; just 6% disagree.
Industry Super Australia chief executive, David Whiteley, says the results send a clear message the public want superannuation to work solely in their interests and not as a profit-making opportunity for the banks’ wealth management machines.
“When it comes to super, the banks are legally required to act in the best interest of their customers; most Australians don't believe they do," said Whiteley.
“Consumers know aggressive cross-selling of advice, insurance and super is designed to boost shareholder profits rather than leave them better off.” 
“The banks’ relentless lobbying to remove consumer default protections could result in people ending up in under-performing funds and a nest egg that’s tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars short”.
“Australians have told us what they think – they don’t trust the banks and believe their culture and profit motive are at odds with the purpose of super,” said Whiteley.
It is a sentiment shared by 58% of respondents who believe the banks would use the compulsory nature of super to exploit fund members.
Two thirds of Australians agree that the banks are already too powerful and giving them more of the superannuation market would make the situation worse.
Instead 57% want a small number of high quality super funds run by trusted providers rather than a large menu of bank offerings. 
“Public opinion clearly runs counter to the banks’ efforts to change the super system to suit their vertically integrated business models. Astute policymakers will be listening,” said Whiteley.
The big bank CEOs will appear before a parliamentary inquiry this Friday and early next week. The Standing Committee on Economics’ Review of the Four Major Banks hearings are set for 3, 7, 8 March.
ASIC has recently launched court proceedings against Westpac for a 3-year sales campaign that alleges staff were rewarded bonuses for shifting customers from external super funds into a bank fund. ASIC alleges that Westpac failed its best interests duty to consumers; breached financial licence conditions and Corporations Law and failed to ensure related financial services entities provided services honestly and fairly.
Industry Super Australia provides policy, research and advocacy on behalf of 15 not-for-profit Industry SuperFunds who are the custodians of the retirement savings of five million Australians.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Disadvantage, discrimination, disability, despair and distance still negatively impact on health outcomes for Australians - but as a population we are living longer

# People living in the lowest socioeconomic areas are more likely to have poor health and to have higher rates of illness, disability and death than people who live in the highest socioeconomic areas. If all Australians had the same death rates as the 20% of Australians living in the highest socioeconomic area, there would have been about 54,200 fewer deaths in 2009–2011.

# On a range of health measures, people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas (that is, areas of most disadvantage) tend to fare worse than people living in the highest socioeconomic areas (that is, areas of least disadvantage). For example, according to AIHW analysis of the ABS Australian Health Survey, in 2011–12, people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas were 1.6 times as likely to have chronic kidney disease and 2.2 times as likely to have coronary heart disease as people living the highest socioeconomic areas.

# There have been some improvements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in recent years, including decreases in smoking and infant mortality and in avoidable deaths from circulatory and kidney diseases. However, there is still a significant gap in health outcomes, including life expectancy at birth, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The causes of this gap are complex, and include differences in the social determinants of health, risk factors, and access to appropriate health care.

# In 2013, 29% of the Australian population lived in regional and remote areas: 18% in Inner regional areas, 8.9% in Outer regional areas, 1.4% in Remote areas and 0.9% in Very remote areas. Australians living outside Major cities tend to have higher rates of disease and injury than people in Major cities, and they are also more likely to engage in health behaviours that can lead to adverse health outcomes.

# Australians living in rural and remote areas tend to have lower life expectancy and higher rates of disease and injury than people living in Major cities (see 'Chapter 5.11 Rural and remote health').
In 2009–2011, people living in Remote and Very remote areas had mortality rates 1.4 times as high as people living in Major cities. For nearly all causes of death, rates were higher for people living outside Major cities, with people in Remote and Very remote areas faring the worst. For example, the rate of dying due to a land transport accident was more than 4 times as high in Remote and Very Remote areas as in Major cities.
People in regional and remote areas are more likely to die prematurely than their Major city counterparts. While fewer than 3 in 10 people (29%) live in regional and remote areas, deaths in these areas accounted for almost 2 in 5 (38%) of premature deaths in 2011–13.
The premature mortality rate among people living in Remote areas was 1.6 times as high as the rate among people in Major cities, and in Very remote areas it was 2.2 times as high (see 'Chapter 3.2 Premature mortality').
Disease prevalence is generally higher in rural and remote areas of Australia than in Major cities. In 2014–15, based on self-reported data from the NHS, people living in Inner regional and Outer regional/Remote areas of Australia were more likely than people in Major cities to have arthritis, asthma, COPD, and a number of other chronic health conditions (ABS 2015e).
People living in rural and remote areas are, on average, also more likely than their urban counterparts to engage in lifestyle behaviours that can lead to adverse health outcomes (such as smoking, insufficient physical activity, and risky alcohol consumption). These poorer health outcomes may also reflect a range of social and other factors that can be detrimental to health, including a level of disadvantage with regard to educational and employment opportunities; income; and access to goods and services.

# Just under 1 in 5 Australians (4.2 million people) reported having a disability in 2012. People with disability experience significantly poorer health than people without disability. Over half (51%) of people aged 15–64 with severe or profound limitation(s) in communication, mobility or self-care reported 'poor' or 'fair' health compared with 5.6% of those without such limitations. A higher proportion of people aged 15–64 with these limitations had mental health conditions (50% compared with 7.7% for those without).

# Unemployed people have a higher risk of death and have more illness and disability than those of similar age who are employed (Mathers & Schofield 1998). The psychosocial stress caused by unemployment has a strong impact on physical and mental health and wellbeing (Dooley et al. 1996). For some, unemployment is caused by illness, but for many it is unemployment itself that causes health problems through its psychological consequences and the financial problems it brings.

# In 2014–15, 50% of patients were admitted within 35 days of being placed on the elective surgery waiting list, 90% were admitted within 253 days and 1.8% waited more than 1 year. The median waiting time is lower than it was between 2010–11 and 2013–14 (36 days).
The median waiting time for Indigenous Australians (42 days) was higher than for other Australians (35 days), and a higher proportion of Indigenous Australians waited more than a year for elective surgery than other Australians (2.3% and 1.8%, respectively).
The longest median waiting times were for the surgical specialties Ear, nose and throat surgery; Ophthalmology; and Orthopaedic surgery (73, 70, and 64 days, respectively). Cardio-thoracic surgery had the shortest median waiting time (18 days).

# Hospital elective surgery waiting lists…. 2015-16…uncontactable/died [before hospital admission] 7,295…Excludes data for the Australian Capital Territory, which were not available at the time of publication.
Not contactable/died:
NSW 2,234
VIC 2,234
QLD 703
WA 1,003
SA 611
TAS 361
ACT n.a.
NT 141

# In 2013, more than 1 in 3 deaths (34%) in Australia were 'premature' (that is, they occurred before the age of 75)—substantially lower than the 43% in 1997 (AIHW 2015b).
The three leading causes of premature death for all Australians were coronary heart disease, lung cancer and suicide. Nearly 1 in 5 deaths (18%) among people aged 25–44 were due to suicide (AIHW 2015b).
The rate of premature deaths among Indigenous Australians is higher than among non-Indigenous Australians for both males and females across every age group. Between 2009 and 2013, 81% of all Indigenous deaths were of people aged under 75, compared with 34% for non-Indigenous Australians (ABS 2015b) (see 'Chapter 3.2 Premature mortality').

# after adjusting for differences in age structure, in the period from 2009 to 2013, the mortality rate for Indigenous Australians who died from all potentially avoidable causes was more than 3 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (351 and 110 deaths per 100,000 population, respectively) (see 'Chapter 5.7 How healthy are Indigenous Australians?').

# The rate of premature mortality varied considerably between states and territories in 2011–2013 (Figure 3.2.3). After adjusting for diff­erences in age structure, the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest rate (173 deaths per 100,000 people aged under 75), followed by Victoria (192) and Western Australia (205). The age-standardised premature mortality rate in the Northern Territory (388) was more than twice as high as the rate in the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory has the highest proportion of Indigenous residents (about 30%) of all Australian states and territories and the majority of the Northern Territory's land mass is classified as remote (Taylor & Bell 2013). The following section, 'Inequalities in premature mortality', describes the impact of remoteness of residence and Indigenous status on premature death.

# The majority of Australians live in Major cities, with fewer than 3 in 10 people (29% of the population) living in Regional and Remote areas (see 'Chapter 5.11 Rural and remote health'). Despite this, in 2011–2013, deaths in Regional and Remote areas accounted for 38% of premature deaths. Premature mortality rates increased with remoteness. The premature mortality rate among people living in Remote areas was 1.6 times as high as the rate among people in Major cities, and in Very remote areas it was 2.2 times as high.

# Nearly 2 in 5 people (39%) who died in 2013 were aged 85 and over….The most common cause of death in 2013 for people aged 85 and over was coronary heart disease (17%), followed by dementia (12%).

# Life expectancy at birth in Australia has climbed steadily over time, and is now more than 30 years longer than it was in the late 1800s (Figure 1.3.1). For example, life expectancy for males and females born in 2014 was 80.3 years and 84.4 years respectively (ABS 2015c), whereas males and females born in 1890 could expect to live to 47.2 years and 50.8 years respectively (ABS 2014b)…..
In 2012, a newborn boy in Australia could expect to live 62.4 years without disability and another 17.5 years with some form of disability, and a newborn girl 64.5 years without disability and 19.8 years with some form of disability (see Glossary) (AIHW 2014b). Between 1998 and 2012, the disability-free life expectancy for males rose by 4.4 years, which was more than the gain in male life expectancy over that period (4 years). However, the increase in years free of disability for females was 2.4 years, compared with a 2.8 years gain in female life expectancy (AIHW 2014b).

#A man turning 85 in 2013 could expect to live another 6.1 years, and a woman the same age could expect another 7.1 years.