Monthly Archives: July 2019

31/7/19: Fed rate cut won’t move the needle on ‘Losing Globally’ Trade Wars impacts

Dear investors, welcome to the Trump Trade Wars, where 'winning bigly' is really about 'losing globally':

As the chart above, via FactSet, indicates, companies in the S&P500 with global trading exposures are carrying the hefty cost of the Trump wars. In 2Q 2019, expected earnings for those S&P500 firms with more than 50% revenues exposure to global (ex-US markets) are expected to fall a massive 13.6 percent. Revenue declines for these companies are forecast at 2.4%.

This is hardly surprising. U.S. companies trading abroad are facing the following headwinds:

  1. Trump tariffs on inputs into production are resulting in slower deflation in imports costs by the U.S. producers than for other economies (as indicated by this evidence:
  2. At the same time, countries' retaliatory measures against the U.S. exporters are hurting U.S. exports (U.S. exports are down 2.7 percent in June).
  3. U.S. dollar is up against major currencies, further reducing exporters' room for price adjustments.
Three sectors are driving S&P500 earnings and revenues divergence for globally-trading companies:
  • Industrials,
  • Information Technology,
  • Materials, and 
  • Energy.
What is harder to price in, yet is probably material to these trends, is the adverse reputational / demand effects of the Trump Administration policies on the ability of American companies to market their goods and services abroad. The Fed rate cut today is a bit of plaster on the gaping wound inflicted onto U.S. internationally exporting companies by the Trump Trade Wars. If the likes of ECB, BoJ and PBOC counter this move with their own easing of monetary conditions, the trend toward continued concentration of the U.S. corporate earnings and revenues in the U.S. domestic markets will persist. 

Australian Politics 2019-07-31 15:40:00


Domestic violence: The feminists are on the move again and we need to stop them

Bettina Arndt

They are up in arms at the move by the Federal Government to provide some counselling for couples dealing with domestic violence. A tiny $10 million out of a budget of $328 mill, which is the latest raft of funding adding to the huge cash cow which supports the domestic violence industry. This includes ongoing funding for the male-bashing Stop It At The Start television campaign which has already cost $30 million.

See this Guardian article showing all the lobby groups lining up to try to put a stop to the couple counselling. You’ll see they all promote the usual feminist propaganda, claiming domestic violence invariably involves dangerous men controlling their partners and suggesting couples counselling puts women at risk.

I’ve long argued that we are enabling the feminist capture of government policy by failing to challenge the persistent lobbying of this tiny minority group. This is a classic example. The government is finally making the right move in giving some funding to start to properly address this issue – after having wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on domestic violence money spent mainly on advertising campaigns to demonise men and boys, blaming misogynist attitudes for the entire problem. But unless we get moving the wicked witches will win again. The Guardian article makes clear they intent a ferocious scare campaign to try to get the government to back down.

So come on, people. Get active and write to relevant Ministers, your MP and to the Prime Minister and support this move to properly address one of the real issues at the heart of this problem. If you all wrote one letter we could really support the government and persuade them to stick to their guns.  Here’s some of the basic information you will need to make the argument that this is a sensible move:

There is strong evidence that most violence begins early, with couples at the start of their relationships reacting to conflict with two-way violence. Years ago, Professor Kim Halford and colleagues from the University of Queensland conducted a series of studies which focussed on couples at the start of their relationships, newly-wed couples and couples expecting a child together. Even with these early relationships about a quarter of the women admit they have been violent towards their partners – just as many as the men.

Professor Halford, who is one of Australia’s leading family relationship experts, points out this evidence means it is really important to help couples learn to deal with conflict without resorting to violence. He makes the point that one of the strongest risk factors for a woman being hit by a male partner is her hitting that male partner. “It’s absolutely critical that we tackle couple violence if we really want to stop this escalation into levels of violence which cause women serious injury.”

It’s nonsense to suggest that couples counselling will put women at risk, as this article by Maccollum and Stith makes clear, provided there are exclusion policies making sure no member of the couple is coerced, that there’s not ongoing mental illness, nor history of severe violence or weapon use. Avoiding couple counselling mean we are not addressing the patterns that lead to violence, leaving men and women trapped in conflicted relationships without the tools to find other ways of dealing with marital stress, and putting women and children particularly at risk. Here’s another review and meta-analysis of this subject which suggests couple therapy can significantly reduce domestic violence.

In fact, there are some good relationship counsellors across the country already doing this work. You may remember Perth counsellor Rob Tiller who was forced out of his job with Relationships Australia last year, after he posted my article on domestic violence on his personal Facebook page. I made a video with Rob at the time when he talked about working successfully with violent couples helping them learn to deal with conflict. Unfortunately, Relationships Australia, one of our peak counselling bodies, proudly promotes feminist policies on domestic violence which means couples are often refused help in these circumstances.

This is only one aspect of a proper comprehensive approach to tackling family violence, which would include support services for male victims of violence and their children and targeting at risk groups like people with drug and alcohol problems and mental illness. Such targeted approaches are being trialled overseas, with significant success.

Let’s hope this small move by the government is a sign that they are willing to deal more effectively with this major social problem rather than simply supporting the male-bashing feminist domestic violence industry. But this won’t happen if we sit back and let the feminists bully the government into backing down.

Here’s some addresses you can use to lobby on this issue, as well as your local MP:

Minister for Families and Social Services, Hon Anne Ruston:

Minister for Women, Hon Marise Payne:

Prime Minister:

Anthony Albanese’s political strategy of backing government plans is passive and risky, says Peter van Onselen

The debate as to how political parties should react to electoral failure is an interesting one: both philosophically and in terms of pure political strategy. Should they respect a government’s mandate, getting out of the road of most legislative initiatives, or should an opposition hold the line on policies tested with the community but ultimately rejected at the recent election?

There are virtues and vices in both options.

Right now new Labor leader Anthony Albanese is indicating that his preferred strategy is for the opposition to wave through government plans, in particular those it took to the election. The context Albanese is using for this strategy is what happened after the Coalition’s 2004 victory, when John Howard gained control of both houses and hence forth implemented Work Choices, which cost him dearly at the following election. So Albo is largely thinking strategically.

However Work Choices was implemented against Labor’s will, and of course it wasn’t taken as a policy script to the 2004 election either. In other words, the circumstances were very different.

Nonetheless, it is clear what is behind Albanese’s thinking: let the government have its way, unfettered and without the opposition saving the government from itself. Remember, Labor was devastated at the 2004 election but won a thumping victory just three years later. Politics can change quickly, and giving a government what it wants can evoke hubris.

It is unclear, however, if voters will credit Labor with getting out of the road right now, when it has the capacity to stifle agendas it might philosophically oppose. Or indeed policy settings it has genuine concerns about. In looking to avoid being cast as wreckers unwilling to accept the voters’ collective judgment Labor thus risks being accused of standing for nothing. It’s a catch-22.

Should Labor dump all its policies from the 2019 election and find a new agenda? Or should it recalibrate what was offered and hope that the sales pitch (and the then leader) were the real problems which led to the defeat? In truth it’s never such a black and white choice.

Labor as a party needs to stands for certain values, which means being prepared to argue for policies which aren’t always popular. That likely means not dumping everything it took to the election. Yet it is important that the party makes clear that it understands it was rejected by voters, including because of policies it campaigned on.

Albanese is right to therefore pause for thought. And one suspects voters are in a mood for governments to be given a reasonably free rein to govern, with voters then able to judge them three years later come election time. It’s a form of elected dictatorship which ignores the parliamentary processes and their value in the crafting of policy, but it still represents a form of democracy in action.

The danger for Labor is what if Scott Morrison governs effectively? Labor would be out on a limb, and unlikely to be competitive at the next election.

Albanese’s strategy is therefore passive and risky. It also won’t appeal to Labor’s base. Even though he is giving most voters what they want.


Government rejects Keneally’s calls to ban far-right activist

The government will reject Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally’s calls to ban a far-right British writer from Australia over misogynistic, racist and homophobic tweets, as a pair of Liberal MPs defended appearing alongside him.

The Australian understand that the Department of Home Affairs will not revoke a visa for former Brietbart UK editor Raheem Kassam despite his offensive tweets which have included calling on Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to “shut her legs” after she revealed she had a miscarriage.

Immigration Minister David Coleman refused to comment on individual cases. He has blocked far-right celebrities like Milo Yiannopoulos coming into Australia in recent months, but The Australian understands Mr Kassam already has a visa and the government will not intervene.

Liberal backbenchers Amanda Stoker and Craig Kelly will appear at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney next month, where Mr Kassam will also speak.

Senator Keneally highlighted both Coalition MPs’ attendance in her attack on Mr Kassam.

Senator Stoker said the Labor home affairs spokeswoman wanted conservative views “silenced and siloed.  If we are doing our job properly as politicians, we should be talking with people from all walks of life, every day. We won’t agree with them all,” Senator Stoker told The Australian.

“Trying to shame into silence anyone who would speak to a person who is wrong on an issue damages our capacity for constructive democracy. When we are confronted with people with whom we disagree, we need to talk to them more, not less.

“Clearly Kristina Keneally would rather see Australians silenced and siloed, rather than able to interact with people who have different beliefs.

“While I don’t know all of the speakers at CPAC, I’m proud to be talking about economic productivity at an event with people of the calibre of John Anderson AO, Jacinta Price and Janet Albrechtsen, to name a few.”

Mr Kelly said Australia cannot ban everyone with offensive views. “I’m sure the organisers of CPAC in Australia would like to thank Kristina Keneally for giving the CPAC Conference in Australia publicity,” he told The Australian.

“We are a nation with a long and proud history of free speech and Senator Keneally’s demands are part of a disturbing recent trend of attempts to silence those that hold different political views.

“If we banned everyone from Australia that said something offensive things on Twitter — our tourist numbers would be well down.”

CPAC director Andrew Cooper said he was proud to bring Mr Kassam to Australia and said Senator Keneally’s attacks showed the success of his upcoming conference in Sydney.

“Raheem Kassam is a Brexiteer and popular commentator and is attending and speaking alongside the head of the UK Brexit Party, Nigel Farage,” he said.

“CPAC is proud to bring Raheem Kassam to Australia and rejects Senator Keneally’s embarrassing attempt to shut down political opponents.

“Australia is a country with a long history of free speech, something authoritarian hard left opponents such as Senator Keneally seek to change simply because they sometimes do not like what their opponents might say.”


Australia approves controversial oil and gas deal with Timor-Leste

Now they will no longer be able to blame their third world economy on Australia "robbing" them.

Australian parliament has approved a new treaty with Timor-Leste governing how the two nations carve up rich oil and gas deposits.

Impoverished Timor-Leste and Australia signed a treaty in March last year ending a long-running ocean border dispute.

Legislation passed federal parliament on Monday to create a new regime to share oil and gas under the Timor sea, in an area known as the Greater Sunrise fields.

An authority will be established to act on behalf of Australia and Timor-Leste to facilitate joint management of the new area.

Australia backed the treaty days after Timor-Leste's parliament did the same, paving the way for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make a historic visit later this year to the tiny nation, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Under the treaty, Timor-Leste will get the biggest share of revenue from exploiting Greater Sunrise.

It will be split 80-20 if gas is piped to Australia for processing or 70-30 if it is piped to Timor-Leste.

Mr Morrison said the government had worked with Timor-Leste's government and offshore petroleum operators on arrangements to provide commercial certainty.

"With the passage of the treaty's implementing legislation today, Australia is now ready to partner with Timor-Leste to jointly develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields for the benefit of both countries," he said in a joint statement with senior cabinet colleagues.

"Greater Sunrise will provide new opportunities for income, and commercial and industrial development in Timor-Leste, and is an important part of Timor-Leste's economic future."


Wind and solar turn up pressure on electricity supply in South Australia and Queensland

A complicated balancing act from coal and gas is needed to keep the lights on

Daily price ramp on Australia’s wholesale electricity markets is quite strong in most states right now,  and particularly in South Australia and Queensland. The evening peak price ramp is about $100/MWh difference between low and high price, but the duration of low and high price is short.

Despite exports to NSW, coal in Qld is ramping up and down about 1000 MW twice a day. However, it’s the gas-driven QLD early evening peak that really moves prices. In South Australia in July, there were mostly exports even in the early evening peak. Those exports to Victoria required more high price marginal gas to enter the system.

Even in winter the aggregate influence of  rooftop and utility solar is very noticeable and a vast transformation from a few years ago. In South Australia at the moment wind and solar are well over 50% of generation driving prices on average below Victoria.

Victoria’s average price for July is about $11/MWh higher than either South Australia or NSW and $20 MWh above Qld,  basically because its midday price in July was around $70 MWh, compared to say $40 MWh in the solar richer States.

The five year total average in the NEM in front of the meter is around 193 TWh as measured by metered demand using NEM Review as a source. Although it looks like 2019 is soft in Autumn and Winter, due to the hot start to the year , the 2019 year to date average is right in line with the five year number.

The annualized level of the last 30 days is around 193 TWh which is in line with the full year average.  So when we look at what’s happening to price we are in effect seeing price at the average level of demand. Following so far?

Solar output is depressed in Winter  (it’s about 5% of total demand including behind the meter now, versus a peak  in the March quarter of over 8%).

Despite all that we are seeing some strong price ramps up and down in the daily average numbers. Two interesting cases are solar-strong Qld and wind-strong South Australia.

It seems self evident the spike in QLD when the Sun goes down and demand goes up and also the depressed price at lunch time. Looking at the supply and demand side what we see is that when the solar comes into action QLD exports and turns down its gas and coal. In the evening peak this is reversed although on average there are still some exports.

What’s most interesting to me is that even in Winter we are seeing coal ramping up and down 1000 MW pretty much twice  a day in QLD.  Coal has always had to be flexible because demand is itself volatile, but the ramping is already becoming stronger.

I don’t know how efficient it is to have the coal generators doing that morning ramp for just 2-3 hours but clearly they can still outcompete gas in that time frame.

I expect, based on the new Mt Emerald wind farm, that as the Coopers Creek wind farm gets into action it may start to eat into that morning peak. Note demand includes behind the meter and solar is combined utility and behind the meter.

Also it’s interesting to look at the daily average wind pattern in Qld from Mt Emerald. Unlike the other charts this is a 9 month average and there may well be seasonal factors I haven’t looked at. Assuming its representative of Qld in total though its quite encouraging.

The wind output drops off in the middle of the day and picks up again when the Sun goes down. Wind won’t quite pick up the early Qld peak but it will assist with the latter part. Again we look for more data over time and more wind farms to see if these early results can be replicated.

Enthusiasts might recall that one of the several far sighted principles underlying  the German Energiewende that kicked off the whole globabl energy transformation was that wind and solar were complementary to each other.

This is also supportive of the hybrid wind and solar farm pioneered by Windlab for Qld and now proposed by for instance by Goldwind at the Clarke Creek wind and solar farm and shortlisted by Cleanco in the recent tender for 400MW.

South Australia

In wind heavy South Australia price is softest early in the morning and the solar induced middle of the day reaction is less, probably because  thermal  supply in Victoria is constrained.

As with Queensland, South Australia is exporting most of the time right now. In this case though its exporting wind to Victoria, just not enough to reduce Victorian prices down to the level of other States.

Wind is 50% of supply in July 2019. On average wind has a remarkably steady hourly output in South Australia during the seasonally windy July. Most of the gas ramp is driven by solar.

It looks like peak prices in the South Australian evening would be lower except for the export opportunity.  The extra 250 MW of gas in the evening peak over the the morning peak requires a higher price but mostly wouldn’t be needed save for exports.

Both QLD and South Australia exhibit about $100 MWh afternoon ramp move  low to high but the duration of the low price and the high price is small suggesting it wouldn’t take much to arbitrage out both the low and the high.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Median Household Income in June 2019

Median household income in the United States rebounded to reach a new record high of $64,430 in June 2019, a 1.0% increase from Sentier Research's initial May 2019 estimate of $63,799.

The following chart shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through June 2019. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant June 2019 U.S. dollars, where June 2019's figure is just a bit below the inflation-adjusted peak of $64,809 recorded in January 2019.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Estimates, January 2000 to June 2019

The year-over-year growth rate for median household income in the U.S. showed a small rebound in June 2019, increasing to 3.6% from 3.1% in the previous month in nominal terms, which is shown as the red line in the following chart.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Year Over Year Growth Rate, January 2001 to April 2019

Adjusted for inflation, the year-over-year growth rate of median household income was 1.9% in June 2019.

Analyst's Notes

With its latest data release, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its previously reported personal income data from January 2014 through May 2019. We have updated our alternate model accordingly, with the updated relationships between average annualized wage and salary income per capita and median household income presented in the following chart.

Trailing Year Average Annualized Wage and Salary Income per Capita Versus Median Household Income, January 2000 to June 2019

Following the revision, our alternate methodology for estimating median household income using all of the updated data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis would put the figure at $64,761 for June 2019, which is within a half-percent of Sentier Research's estimate.

Coming up in September 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau will publish its estimate of median household income for 2018, which will provide a reference point for assessing Sentier Research's monthly estimates of median household income during that calendar year.


In generating inflation-adjusted portion of the Median Household Income in the 21st Century chart and the corresponding year-over-year growth rate chart above, we've used the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to adjust the nominal median household income estimates for inflation, so that they are expressed in terms of the U.S. dollars for the month for which we're reporting the newest income data. Our data sources and other references are provided in the following list.

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: January 2000 through June 2019. [Excel Spreadsheet with Nominal Median Household Incomes for January 2000 through January 2013 courtesy of Doug Short]. [PDF Document]. Accessed 30 July 2019. [Note: We've converted all data to be in terms of current (nominal) U.S. dollars.]

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database]. Last Updated: 30 July 2019. Accessed: 30 July 2019.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database]. Last Updated: 30 July 2019. Accessed: 30 July 2019.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 11 July 2019. Accessed: 11 July 2019.

Australian Politics 2019-07-30 15:43:00


There was no "welcome to country" at this weekend's WA Liberal conference, with the leader saying it's not meaningful to 'tick a box' to be politically correct

Just because Aborigines once lived in a place, why does it mean that we have to keep mentioning it?  It achieves nothing.  It is just Leftist virtue signalling that costs them nothing

It is also at much conflict with other claims of the Left, particularly when the speech concerned is some addled rave from an Aborigine, which it often is.  The Left like to claim that there was a great struggle of Aborigines against white settlement -- while in fact Aborigines mostly just faded away in the face of white encroachment.

So what we now see is a colonialist's fancy -- pretending that blacks "welcomed" whites to their land.  However you look at it, it is a gross distortion of the truth.  It in fact demeans Aborigines.  It makes them puppets for whites

West Australian opposition leader Liza Harvey has trotted out a "tired, lazy argument" in defending her party not starting its annual state conference with a welcome to country, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt says.

Asked if it was a good look for the WA Liberal gathering on Saturday to omit the Indigenous ceremony, Ms Harvey replied: "It is what it is".

"I think the worst thing you can do is for the sake of political correctness, engage in welcome to countries that aren't meaningful," Ms Harvey told reporters on Sunday.

"Where it's appropriate, there are welcome to countries, for example the City of Stirling at their citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day," Ms Harvey said.

"It's fantastic - I'm a big fan of that but I don't think we should do these things just because you've got to tick a box.

"It needs to be meaningful and respectful."

Mr Wyatt, whose relative Ken Wyatt is pushing for constitutional recognition, was unimpressed. "A welcome is about a modern, inclusive, respectful society," he tweeted.

"Even Colin Barnett understood that, which is why the parliament amended the WA constitution to recognise Aboriginal traditional ownership."


Central Australian date farmers determined to fight cheap imports as industry grows for sugar substitutes

This is the old, old story of Australian agriculture: We can grow huge quantities of almost everything -- but can we do it at a competitive price?  Mostly the answer is No

Spread out across the edge of the Simpson Desert is a date palm plantation, trees swaying in the breeze.

The Desert Fruit Farm near Alice Springs is the only commercial date operation in the Northern Territory, and one of only a handful in Australia.

The trees are a legacy of Afghan cameleers who arrived in the middle of the 1800s — the 'pilots of the desert' effectively helped set up Central Australia's vast interior, and to keep homesickness at bay brought a little bit of home with them, in the form of palm trees.

"Dates [were] first grown in the Hermannsburg Indigenous community, with the mission they had to be self-sufficient in their food," said Ben Wall, the manager of the Desert Fruit Farm.  "[They] grew dates by the Finke River, the oldest river in the world, and the first commercial farm was set up in the 1950s."

Mr Wall said it was a thoroughly modern trend that has made this date palm a desert gold mine; as more people seek out sugar-free alternatives to get their sweet fix, dates are in high demand.

The farm has about 10 varieties of date.

"Often a lot of people want them for processing dates like energy bars and doing things with hemp, so these are good because they are kind of dry," he said.

The cooperative has been running since 2014 on a farm established by the previous owner in the 1990s. Mr Wall manages the farm on behalf of investors, and is passionate about sustainable agriculture, particularly in Australia's arid zone.

Across 6 hectares, there are 700 mature female date trees, with about 20 male trees to pollinate them, he said.

But fickle in its fertility, date trees need to be hand-pollinated, with pollen from a male tree extracted and cut with powder to help transport it.

The farmers essentially have to do the job a bee would do with conventional plants.

"It generally takes about five years [to attain] first fruit, but then you don't want to farm until about eight to 10 years," Mr Wall said.     "Dates are like humans, they live to be the same age — 80 to 100 years — and are most productive when teenage to 30 years old.

["They're] fertile, yes, and then a gradual decline, very elegant decline just like us."

Harvesting is also onerous, as the dates have to be picked by hand one at a time.

This year the farm was up 300 per cent on the previous year's yield, with 2 tonnes sent to the Middle East and the rest sold domestically.

"There's a huge market for them, and we get calls all the time from the Middle East because we are in the southern hemisphere," Mr Wall said.

    "There are 2 billion Muslim people [for whom] dates are an important part of the culture, [so] we can sell anything we can grow, really."

Dates are grown in 40 different countries across 800,000 hectares, and Central Australia's arid zone is the perfect landscape and climate for growing them.

But despite that, the industry remains extremely small, with only a handful of operators across the country.

The Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) is working to change that, and holds the largest collection of date varieties in the southern hemisphere.

Its research will help inform farmers about the best varieties to grow to suit the climate and conditions, and will also offer pollination advice.

Stuart Smith from AZRI sees the Australian industry expanding in future years, particularly in the desert.     "Because of our isolation and dry atmosphere, we can produce a lot of crops without disease," he said.

"If you have adequate water well-allocated, and sustainably-allocated groundwater systems, which we have here in Central Australia, I think the arid zone is a good place for agriculture."

Further south, farmers are also having success.

Dave Reilly has 3,000 date palms on his family property Gurra Downs in the Riverland District in South Australia, where they have been growing dates for 20 years.

He's a big supporter of helping other growers get a foothold in the market, but there is competition he doesn't welcome from cheap imports.

Biosecurity Australia is currently considering allowing fresh dates to be imported from Africa and the Middle East, which has him and other growers worried.

"That will totally change dynamics," Mr Reilly said. "For example, we pay our staff $25 an hour, and we'll be competing with countries that pay a $USD1 an hour, so it's going to be very difficult to compete.

"Unfortunately that's what happens with free trade agreements; it doesn't benefit everyone, and our industry being relatively labour-intensive may well get beaten up by cheap imports."

Mr Reilly is hopeful that discerning consumers will continue to seek out locally-grown dates.

"Australian relies almost entirely on imported dates so the demand is there, there's curiosity surrounding the Australian-grown fruit, so we are benefiting a bit over the last 10 years, selling that into the area," Mr Reilly said.

"Dates are now being recognised for their health benefits … so we are getting a lot of interest from health food people.

    "Dates are sweet but also have a lot of nutrition so from a health food perspective dates are a wonderful substitute to sugar."

This ancient fruit could also be grown on Indigenous-run plantations, Mr Wall said. "There is a lot of potential to grow the industry, there are a few growers around Australia now just finding their feet, [so there is] potential for dates to be growing around each Indigenous community," he said.

"You can use low-quality water, salty water to grow food, and they create a shaded ecosystem to grow other food underneath it, so we are really hopeful the industry can grow from this little farm here."


Household income plunging and poverty rising: How Australians were BETTER off during the global financial crisis - and experts say immigration is to blame

Australian households are earning less than they did during the global financial crisis a decade ago.

A survey of 17,500 people confirmed stagnant wages are even worse than first thought, with pay packets falling as immigration has surged.

Median household incomes, after tax, are now $542 less than they were during the GFC.

They have fallen from $80,637 in 2009 to $80,095 eight years later, new data from the Melbourne Institute's annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) study for 2019 showed.

Income growth has been patchy during the past decade, falling in the two years after the GFC, rising in 2012 and mainly stagnating after that.

During that time, Australia's population has surged from 21.2million in 2009 to 24million in 2017, before rising above the 25million milestone in August 2018.

The Grattan Institute think tank's chief executive John Daley has told economists with the Reserve Bank of Australia that low-skilled migrants were driving down wages.

'Many believe that Australian migration is highly skilled and has nothing to do with the underpayment of minimum wages,' he said in his April presentation, which was made public on Monday.

'That might have been true in the past, but it's less true now.'

Professor Daley said 59 per cent of temporary visa holders were in low-skilled jobs.

For student and working holiday visa holders, that number in low-skilled jobs rises to 75 per cent.

With one in five Australian workers on the minimum wage, Professor Daley said 'low-skilled' employment at or below the minimum wage was 'big enough to matter'.

Australia is home to one million temporary migrants, with 450,000 of them being on student visas with another 150,000 on working holiday visas. Then there are 250,000 temporary migrants in the 'other' visa category.

If all migrants worked, they would comprise four per cent of Australia's 13million workers.

When household incomes were adjusted for needs, the HILDA research found salary levels over five years had gone backwards in Adelaide, Perth and regional New South Wales but had risen in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Poverty levels, defined as income that is half of the median, have also risen in recent years.

Financial hardship levels fell from 12.4 per cent to 9.6 per cent between 2007 and 2016 but rose again in 2017, to reach 10.4 per cent.


One in five solar units ‘defective’

More than one in five rooftop solar installations on Australian homes were found to be substandard in 2018 amid a boom in the renewable energy source driven by cheaper costs and government rebates.

More than 20 per cent or 748 of the 3678 solar units inspected last year were found to be substandard, meaning defects were found such as incorrect wiring that could lead to “premature” equipment failure, Clean Energy Regulator data shows.

The government’s renewables regulator has been conducting random inspections of rooftop solar units across the nation since 2011, with the average number of substandard systems recorded at 17.7 per cent as of July 2018. Last year’s figure of 20.3 per cent marked a jump and was also a slight increase on the 19.8 per cent of systems labelled substandard in 2017.

The number of unsafe systems, defined as a possible safety hazard, also grew slightly with 80 out of 3678 solar units receiving the rating, equating to a rate of 2.2 per cent compared with 1.9 per cent in 2017. Common issues included water found in electrical components and products subject to recalls.

The growth of solar continues to accelerate in Australia with 2.15 million households now owning rooftop systems spurred by the falling cost of kit and subsidies at federal and state level.

The technology’s rampant growth is helping to reset the generation mix of the nation’s power grid while the growth of rooftop solar contributed to prices hitting zero across the entire national electricity market last Sunday, underlining new-found volatility for electricity generators in the market.

Growth in solar will continue over the next decade even as subsidies are retired, the regulator said.

“We continue to see growth in rooftop photovoltaic for households and businesses, even as the level of the support from subsidies under the Small-Scale Renewable Energy Scheme gradually decreases between now and when the scheme ends in 2030,” Clean Energy Regulator chairman David Parker said.

The number of accredited installers working in Australia and New Zealand surged by more than 1000 to 5922 by the end of 2018 with the Clean Energy Council taking action against 590 installers or roughly 10 per cent of the entire workforce, the report found.

New guidelines to improve safety and quality effective July 1 will cut the number of jobs an installer can sign off on to two from three while ongoing work with product manufacturers and safety regulators is being conducted to improve safety concerns.

In Victoria, the Andrews government’s solar subsidy was plunged into disarray this week with the staggered nature of the $2225 subsidy leading to a boom and bust cycle and forcing some businesses to the brink.

The $1.3 billion Solar Homes program — launched last year in the lead-up to the election — was designed to help 770,000 households invest in solar while creating 5500 new jobs and slashing carbon emissions.

However, the Smart Energy Council, which organised a mass protest on Thursday over the rollout of the scheme, yesterday urged those affected to meet with their local MPs to try and reset the system.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here