Weekly weigh-in: Turnbull’s slump, a premier’s wisdom and protecting the golden goose

goose

17/11/2017

No surprise to see the headline “Turnbull’s horror poll slump” in the Australian on Monday. Nor was the continued slide of the Coalition, which now trails Labor 45 to 55 per cent in two party terms, correlating to about 20 seats lost.

The Newspoll ‘better Prime Minister’ shows that Malcolm Turnbull has dropped from 41 to a new low of 36 per cent, and now only two per cent above Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

The PM’s support has now dropped from 48 per cent in July last year to today’s 36 per cent. Adding to the party’s anxiety is the ‘best Liberal leader’ poll which has Julie Bishop at 40 per cent, the PM on 27 and Peter Dutton at 11.

While the PM’s approval has dropped by 12 per cent you would expect his opponent, Bill Shorten, would be on the rise. Well yes, his rating has increased since July last year, but only from 31 per cent to 34 per cent.

So if Malcolm’s on the nose, Bill has a pretty nasty cold as well, and the nation is showing its frustration by supporting neither.


Sticking to the theme, Newspoll has listed the highest and lowest satisfaction ratings of PMs since its inception in 1985.

The top seven shockers are:

Paul Keating, 17 per cent,  August 1993; Julia Gillard, 23 per cent, September 2011; Tony Abbott, 24 per cent, February 2015; Bob Hawke, 27 per cent, December 1989; John Howard 27 per cent December 2001; Malcolm Turnbull 28 per cent, October 2016 and February 2017; Kevin Rudd, 32 per cent September 2013.

The top seven highest ratings are:

Kevin Rudd, 71 per cent, April 2008; John Howard, 67 per cent May 1996; Bob Hawke, 62 per cent, January 1987; Malcolm Turnbull 60 per cent, November 2015; Julia Gillard, 50 per cent, February 2011; Tony Abbott, 47 per cent, October 2013 and Paul Keating, 43 per cent, April, September and November 1994.

Wow, the highs and lows of politics.


When former Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Robin Gray, starts talking about his party at both state and federal levels, you know it’s worth listening. The calls I received after his ABC interview this morning suggests I’m not the only listener.

Growler, as he is known by so many of his friends and colleagues, was Tasmanian Premier from 1982-1989 during  a time of extraordinary political upheaval, including  the protests of the Gordon below Franklin dam, which became an international issue and was finally stopped by the High Court of Australia. Despite this loss, Growler was elected to a second term – the first time in 58 years that a non-Labor government had won a second term.

The basis of today’s interview was the call for senior Senator Eric Abetz to retire and Tasmanian Liberal Party Director, Sam McQuestin to stand aside to renew the campaign and strategy for the 2018 state election, probably in March.

The “yes” vote of the people for same sex marriage is an embarrassment for the parliament which avoided a vote for more than five years. Coalition pollies were not listening to their constituents including Tasmania which overall voted 63.7 per cent yes.

While there’s no suggestion that Senator Abetz should be shoved because of the same sex marriage vote, a series of questionable decisions have not sat well with the former Premier. As he said of Senator Abetz: “I believe that the party (state) has been in array for 20 years under his watch.”

Mr Gray is not suggesting sacking State Director, Sam McQuestin, who has attracted criticism for his handling of the recent Pembroke Legislative Council bi-election, but he is calling for a fresh approach for the 2018 election.

Feedback from the ABC interview strongly supported Gray’s suggestions with another twist. No matter how good the director may be, or the senior advisers, nobody really understands an election campaign except a successful candidate who has door knocked and connected to the community.

The clock is ticking for the Tasmanian election.


Weekly weigh-in: clever CommBank, media migration mitigation and tax rate troubles

cash 2

10/11/2017

While users of overseas call centres share stories of their frustrating interactions daily, the Commonwealth Bank has finally bitten the bullet.

Last weekend CommBank sent its message in a full-page advertisement through the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun and a number of other interstate Sunday papers.

No photos, or graphics, just a poignant message of 20 words.

“Our customer call centres aren’t overseas, they’re over here, and you’ll be talking to CommBank people.

“That’s a welcome change.”

A beautifully crafted message which everyone understands without creating a potential racist argument.

The only reason Australian companies close down their local call centres is to save costs. Quality is way down on the priority list.

A very smart move by CommBank.


The move by CommBank also highlights the need for media to take a deep breath before blaming governments, both Federal and State, for not growing the workforce, or blaming businesses for moving operations offshore and cutting jobs in Australia.

While we hate to see it happen there are multiple reasons for the measure, including exorbitant payment agreements. Just look at the closing of the car manufacturing industry as a classic example.

But the Mac the Slasher approach of Australia media companies and the ABC in Tasmania has no bounds.

Fairfax has slashed employment numbers, particularly in regional areas including Launceston and Burnie.

Yes, advertising revenues have dropped dramatically, consequently reducing editorial and advertising numbers – probably two thirds less than the 225 of 15 years ago, including the advertising call centres which are now operating out of Manila.

The Mercury fought head office and submitted a business case showing it was cheaper to retain the current local employment and had the support of the Hobart community.

Within 12 months of The Examiner’s advertising call centre closure, the overseas call centre was costing significantly more than the once local and loyal team.

The Fairfax owned Ballarat Courier warned headquarters their classified clients wouldn’t accept the Manila centre. Within a few weeks of the change, the numbers of Ballarat clients using the call centre dropped from 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

Sometimes headquarters should listen.


Governments aren’t there to employ people but they can generate international investment and employment by ensuring company tax rates are competitive.

This is now going in the wrong direction with Australia heading to the highest company tax rate in the world. Australia’s company tax rate of 30 per cent has been out of touch since a decrease by the Howard government in 2000.

The average tax rate in advanced countries has fallen from 32 per cent in 2000 to 24 per cent. The US is currently 35 per cent with President Donald Trump planning reduction to 20 per cent, or realistically 25 per cent.

Australia’s problem is the Senate with Labor and the crossbenchers not accepting that the lower tax rate will loosen up business costs and create opportunities for expansion, ultimately meaning more jobs.

The Tasmanian Government’s 2017 budget tax incentive is such a paragon. The two schemes covered around 2500 payroll tax businesses and around about 32,000 small businesses below the payroll tax turnover.

The small business pilot program was capped at $2 million and provided a $4000 incentive payment to employ apprentices and trainees. When the cap of 500 jobs was reached last month, the government extended the program and added another $3 million to attract 750 jobs.

Five million for 1250 new apprentices and trainees is a great investment for the state and example of what could be created by a Federal government.


Weekly weigh-in: AFL neglect, bargain flights and a changing world

jetstar

3/11/2017

Good to see returned Hawthorn Chairman, Jeff Kennett continuing to support Tasmania, this time attacking the AFL over Hawthorn’s football fixture next year. And he’s spot on in accusing the AFL of treating the state as an “appendage to the competition”.

The reason for Jeff’s anger is that the Hawks will only play one Melbourne team in Launceston next season – a Saturday night game against St Kilda.

The overall fixture for Tasmanian games means only two Melbourne teams will make the trip, the other being Carlton vs. North Melbourne under lights in Hobart.

St Kilda aside, Hawthorn plays Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Brisbane while North plays West Coast and GWS.

While the Brisbane game has some ginger with former Hawks star, Luke Hodge, tackling his former team, the stats show a dramatic drop in attendance since their halcyon days, and Gold Coast has always struggled to attract a crowd, which will be even tougher without star Gary Ablett.

As Jeff said:

“The AFL should be giving the community of Tasmania the opportunity of seeing a greater percentage of Melbourne-based teams. I’m reasonably happy with our total program, but I’m disappointed that the AFL continues to treat Tasmania as an appendage to the competition.”


Airfare bargain hunting Launceston flyers are now the smartest in Australia, following data from low cost carrier, Jetstar.

The data available honed in on the postcodes as the basis of the numbers of fares purchased under $100. Launceston, with 56,000 seats under $100 tipped Gold Coast with 51,000 and Cairns third with 32,000. The remaining top 10 in order was Melbourne, Werribee, Sydney, Mackay, Geelong, Ballina and Carrara.

Capital cities were the top destination for most of the bargain savvy suburbs with the exception of North Bondi residents who travel to Gold Coast.

The overall staggering information came from Jetstar Australia, CEO , Dean Salter, revealing that two thirds of all Jetstar fares were under $100.

The low-cost, domestic operator attracts its fair share of detractors slamming seat room, unhelpful staff, cancellations, and on-board costs, but the inarguable facts now show the arrival of Jetstar in 2003 was the birth of a generation of new aircraft passengers. The cost reduction was the magnet and overwhelms the failures.

Maybe a touch of exaggeration but if you flew out of Hobart or Launceston 30 years ago you would know 90 per cent, maybe more, of people on the plane. Today it’s closer to zero.


No wonder clients and the broader community battle with decisions by our four major banks.

Yesterday, the National Australia Bank released its massive $6.64 billion cash profit with some $5.3 billion in dividends delivered to shareholders. Oh, and now we’re going to get angry about costs and sack 6000 staff over three years says the NAB chief executive, Andrew Thorburn.

“What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the bank,” Mr Thorburn said.

“And as we simplify, we automate processes and things move to digital channels. We will need less people.”

While 6,000 front liners will be replaced by automation, NAB will hire 2,000 staff with different capabilities such as data scientists, robotics, automation, technology and AI. Basically, technology people.

I’m sure clients will be cheering now they have 6,000 less people they can actually talk to and another 2000 IT people who aren’t client facing.

NAB wants to become the best business bank in Australia. Very positive approach, but I hope somebody has been talking to existing and potential future clients.


Weekly weigh-in: Name changes, north west masters and conspiracies

JFK_limousine_cut_off_ver.

27/10/2017

Tasmania’s newest bank opens its doors next Wednesday, 1 November with an interesting name.

The B&E Building Society will now be known as the ‘Bank of us’ replacing the names of the Bass Building Society and Equitable Building Society, which has been operating for 160 years.

Respected CEO, Paul Ranson was certainly accurate when he said it would be a “different kind of bank.” The two key differences being customer-ownership, and the name, Bank of us. The marketing company is already back slapping as the name debate becomes the centre of discussion on traditional and social media.

I’m sure the 30,000 strong customer base will warm to the name as they realise customer service will continue at a high level and day-to-day transactions will remain unchanged.

Whether it becomes BOU, or Bou, is debatable and it certainly won’t be confused with other BOU’s around the world such as Bou, a town in France, the Bank of Uganda, Boulder Geomagnetic Observatory, British Ornithologists’ Union or the Basis of Union.

Names aside, it is a great asset for Tasmania to have a bank which returns profit to the state.


It’s hard not to admire the performance of so many competitors in the 16th Australian Master Games in the state’s north west this week as they break records, or simply do their best in a fun and healthy environment.

I’m sure there’s a terrific story behind every one of the 5000 plus competitors, but the star performer must surely be 90-year-old Heather Lees from NSW. Heather set a world record masters time of 24.56.97 minutes for the 90 plus, 3000m walk.

Her radio interviews were full of interesting information including her concerns about the warm weather and she certainly sounded like a much younger athlete.

A great example for all.


There are times when governments need to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and release information from significant issues and events such as the death of US President, John F. Kennedy. Like millions around the world, I can recall when and where I was when JFK was assassinated, or John Lennon, the car crash of Princess Diana and the tragic swimming death of Prime Minister, Harold Holt.

The official investigation says John Kennedy was assassinated by former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot three bullets from a rifle as the President and his wife Jackie were riding in a presidential motorcade.

So unconvinced of the outcome of various inquiries, 60 per cent of Americans still believe a group of conspirators were responsible for the assassination.

The planned release of the last trove of secret files of the Kennedy’s murder was agreed 25 years ago.

Evidently there are some 2800 documents set to be released but after pressure from the FBI and CIA,  President Trump has reluctantly agreed to withhold 300 documents and guess what;  who wants to worry about the 2800 when the hidden 300 hold the nitty gritty.

Welcome to another 25 years of conspiracy theories.