Australia’s China Syndrome

Posted on Fri 01/08/2016 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

If China falls, it will take Australia with it:

ChinaAustraliaA loss of confidence in the ability of Beijing to manage the downturn in the Chinese economy has sent shares plunging for the fifth successive day, amid fears it will spark a new bout of global ­instability.

As legendary investor George Soros warned of a “crisis” to rival the global downturn in 2008, the Australian sharemarket slumped another 2.3 per cent to take investor losses to $87 billion in the first four trading sessions of the year…

Chinese authorities yesterday closed the Shanghai sharemarket for the second time this week, after the price fall hit the 7 per cent level ruled as the maximum permitted in any one trading day. Markets were also rattled by a sharp fall in the Chinese currency.


The Australian dollar has fallen to a three month low as concerns about the Chinese economy push the currency and share markets even lower this week.

But what is our political class doing about cutting spending? Restoring a Budget surplus to at least give us a fighting fund? Reforming our workplaces to make us more competitive?

Instead, the timid Turnbull Government is turning from even the easiest challenges, as former deputy Treasury secretary Des Moore notes:

Immediately following the publication by Justice Heydon of the Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance and Corruption, on 30 December the government issued a press release by the joint team of Turnbull, Brandis and Cash acknowledging the assessment of “a ‘widespread’ and ‘deep seated’ culture of lawlessness among many union officials. It also said it would submit improved legislation on regulating the construction industry and (separately) on the governance of trade unions. It promised to give full and careful consideration to the recommendations in the final report and “announce a detailed response to the public in early 2016”. 

Four out of the twelve parts of Volume 2 of the final report contained critical commentary on the behaviour of the CFMEU. (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) One such commentary (on CFMEU Queensland) provides an idea of the tone, viz

“The mass destruction of documents by the CFMEU Queensland was as great a danger to the rule of law as any threat of violence on a building site, any illegal strike, any corrupt payment, any blatant non-compliance with legal standards”.

Potential criminal offences were listed and 10 CFMEU officials or former officials were listed as referrals for possible prosecution.

Today’s Australian reports that, notwithstanding the widespread corruption and criminality revealed in the report, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash had indicated that the government would “not move to deregister the CFMEU but will instead seek to transform the ‘perverse culture’ and ‘mindset’ across the construction industry”… It appears that, as the report did not recommend deregistering, the government has decided there should be no deregistration come what may. The report itself offer some support for this viz “Cancelling the registration of the whole union may have a disproportionate effect on union members who have not been ­involved in illegal activity”.

But this seems an odd comment for the government to accept as a basis for a decision on the treatment of the CFMEU: would investors in a project be allowed to keep their investment if they were not involved in the criminal activity which caused the project to collapse? The large number of CFMEU members who have participated in marches may have included some who have not been involved in illegal activity but they certainly supported it and would have been well aware of the lawless action being taken by their union.

More importantly, the decision and other comments by Minister Cash, doubtless with guidance from Turnbull, in the attached seem to be sending the “soft” signal before the detailed response to the report is made. She is wrong, for example, to imply that lawless action is confined to the construction industry and that legislative reform of the regulatory arrangements in that industry should be the principal aim.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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