Archive for August 2019

Manufacturing not dead, just dieting

Here’s a surprise: amid all the headlines about the demise of Australian manufacturing at the hands of our strong currency, militant unions, interfering governments, poor productivity and the solar eclipse, employment in the manufacturing sector actually grew in the year to the end of August.
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What’s more, productivity also has been improving and is now running at a bit above the average of recent years – admittedly faint praise. It still adds up to the standard liturgy chanted by the high priests of business being as dangerously outdated as the Catholic Church’s celibacy and men-only rules.

The accompanying graph from the Reserve Bank’s quarterly statement on monetary policy showing growth in the manufacturing workforce is indeed a surprise, running against a decade-long trend of falling employment as manufacturing slipped from being the nation’s number one employer to fourth place. It also is a minor exception to the general rule of a weakening labour market, especially for males.

“Total male employment has been little changed over the past two years, and the ratio of male employment to male working-age population has fallen to around the same level as its trough in mid 2009,” observes the RBA. “This has coincided with a decline in the participation rate of both prime working-age males and males aged 15 to 24 years. Consistent with this, employment has been particularly soft in male-dominated industries such as construction and transport, postal & warehousing. In contrast, female employment has grown in line with the female working-age population in recent years.”

What the graph also shows is the diversity of our labour market, that we are not the one-trick pony – or mine site – that popular media and the more hysteric commentary sometimes pretends.

The non-resources construction industry has had the worst of it, with the slowdown in building activity wiping out about 7 per cent of that industry’s jobs. Various governments hitting their fiscal walls with staff reductions are having the predictable result in the public administration sector and even mining “recorded a small decline in the three months to August, its first quarterly decline since mid 2009”.

On the other hand: “Employment growth has remained relatively strong in a number of business and household services industries, including professional services, health care and education. Recent data also suggest that manufacturing employment has increased slightly over the past year after falling sharply during the first half of 2011.”

That increase is indeed slight in light of the previous falls, but at the fall in manufacturing employment has outpaced manufacturing output: our productivity has lifted as manufacturers who want to survive have invested in best-practice machinery and smaller, more-skilled workforces. Manufacturing sector private capital investment rose in the last financial year.

The days of less-than-best-practice manufacturing are over and gone in Australia and even with the best machinery, the reality of being an expensive country undergoing massive restructuring is painful and financially dangerous. But we’re also doing better than indicated by the steady diet of headlines about job losses here and factory closures there. You never have to worry about missing out on bad news, but you have to search for the good.

That good doesn’t change the softened outlook, particularly with the working age population growth picking up again. The RBA summarises it thus:

“Labour market conditions continue to vary across states. Trend employment growth has slowed in Western Australia and Victoria since earlier in the year. In Queensland, the level of employment has fallen since the start of 2012, while it appears to have stabilised in South Australia and Tasmania.

Employment growth has picked up a little in New South Wales from the low levels seen earlier in the year.

“Leading indicators of labour demand have generally remained subdued, and point to only modest employment growth in coming months. The ANZ job advertisements series fell for the seventh consecutive month in October, to be around 15 per cent lower over the year. In contrast, the ABS measure of job vacancies increased in the three months to August, though this only partly reversed a fall in the previous three months. Reports from the bank’s liaison suggest that businesses in many industries are cautious about hiring more staff.”

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Shane Watson named in squad for Second Test

Shane Watson celebrates taking Darren Bravo’s wicket earlier this year.Injured all-rounder Shane Watson has just under a week to prove he has overcame a calf injury after being provisionally named in Australia’s 2nd-Test squad.
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The vice-captain has missed Australia’s past seven home Tests due to injury. Despite his inclusion in the 13-man squad, he is far from certain to return at Adelaide Oval against South Africa because selectors have made it clear they need him to be able to bowl as well as bat.

Batsman Rob Quiney, who came into the Test team for Watson in Brisbane and even had to assume some of his bowling duties, held his place.

Chief selector John Inverarity said Watson was making good progress in his recovery but warned it was “too early to determine if he will be fit to come under consideration for selection”.

The bowler passed over for the recent Gabba Test, NSW left-armer Mitch Starc, kept his place in the squad. Starc pressed his claims for inclusion into the team with a four-wicket haul for the Blues against Victoria in the rain-affected Sheffield Shield match at the SCG.

South Africa will make at least one change for the match due to J.P. Duminy’s series-ending Achilles tendon injury. Batting all-rounder Dean Elgar has replaced Duminy in the squad but the Proteas 12th man from Brisbane, Faf du Plessis, is expected to be chosen ahead of him.

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir is also likely to earn a recall, probably for seamer Rory Kleinveldt.

Australian players are currently in their home cities but will reconvene in Adelaide on Sunday, with the match to begin on Thursday.

The three-match series is currently at 0:0 after the opening Test was drawn at the Gabba. Despite that result, Inverarity said selectors were encouraged by the performance of the team, especially due to its “indifferent opening day”.

“They were put under pressure early, but showed great composure to not only regroup but then put considerable pressure on South Africa,” he said.

Selectors have yet to decide whether tall NSW seamer Josh Hazlewood, a shadow member of the squad in Brisbane, will reprise that role in Adelaide.

SQUAD: Michael Clarke (c), Ed Cowan, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Rob Quiney, Peter Siddle, Mitch Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Heart joins growing queue to secure Beckham

Fox Sports tweets Beckhams’ iminent announcement. Soccer Superstar David Beckham from L.A Galaxy trains at Carltons home ground in Melbourne before his game against Melbourne Victory.
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David Beckham pleases the kids, in Newcastle, November 2010.

MELBOURNE Heart and Perth Glory are the first of two A-League clubs to have formally registered an interest in bidding for superstar David Beckham after it was confirmed that the former England captain was interested in continuing his career in the A-League.

Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar, the defending A-League champion, are also reckoned to be potential candidates to snare his signature.

Lou Sticca, the Melbourne-based sports management consultant who has close links with Beckham’s management team through his business dealings with LA Galaxy, is the point man in Australia for any deal. Sticca negotiated to bring Galaxy out to Melbourne last year when Beckham played against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.

Football Federation Australia has confirmed that it has received an approach from an agent representing Beckham’s management ”in relation to an A-League club acquiring Beckham’s services in season 2012-13”.

FFA says ”discussions are at an early stage and FFA is exploring the options available”.

While Melbourne Heart immediately threw its hat in the ring – chief executive Scott Munn talked of the club offering the superstar equity in the team and the chance to leave a legacy by having some ”skin in the game” – the league’s biggest team, Victory, quickly ruled itself out.

Coach Ange Postecoglou said he would not be pursuing the ex-Manchester United and AC Milan star.

”That’s great if he is [interested in playing in Australia]. Would we be interested? No.”

With Sydney FC already hosting the biggest name in the A-League, Alessandro Del Piero, the Wanderers suddenly loom as a far more realistic option for Beckham.

Also on the Wanderers’ side is that the FFA owns the club – meaning that the money could come directly from chairman Frank Lowy.

Brisbane would also be in the mix because it’s believed its billionaire owners, the Bakrie Group, would see Beckham as the ideal way to put Brisbane Roar on the map globally – and to fill out the 52,500-seat Suncorp Stadium, something it has only ever done when hosting the grand final.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

GALLERY: The week in focus

A collection of the best images captured by Newcastle Herald photographers during the past week.
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Rehearsal for the play A Christmas Carol. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Hunter Valley Gardens opens its Christmas lights display. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Baby Animals at A Day On The Green. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Headliners The Hoodoo Gurus at A Day On The Green. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Roz Holme of Cedar Creek Wombat Rescue. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Long-table charity lunch for Soul Cafe. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

The Orange Tree Tapas Bar, Maitland. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NSW Wheelchair Rugby League. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Ben Kennedy and James Virgili re-sign with the Jets. Picture: Ryan Osland

Angie Di Lorenzo with foster dog Misty. Picture: Ryan Osland

Beach volleyball match at Nobbys Beach. Picture: Dean Osland

Renovators Karstan Smith, Maxine Stokes and their dog, Duke. Picture: Dean Osland

Ann-Maree Putney, who is off to represent Australia for a 12th time. Picture: Simone de Peak

Womens All Star Rugby League representative Nakia Davis-Welsh with her dad Paul Davis. Picture: Simone de Peak

Elly-Rose Okeno and Taylor Scanlon with a disco ball at the Morisset PCYC. Picture: Simone de Peak

Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrives at John Hunter Hospital. Picture: Simone de Peak

Newcastle Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis with Jerry Ray. Picture: Marina Neil

Nippers event at Blacksmiths Beach. Picture: Marina Neil

Nippers event at Blacksmiths Beach. Picture: Marina Neil

James Brown and Taylor Regan clash at Jets training. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scene of fatal collision near Muswellbrook. Picture: Peter Stoop

Riding for the Disabled volunteer Michelle Bullen with Rider of the Year Jordan Brown and Horse of the Year, Wedge. Picture: Peter Stoop

Hot chips at Nobbys Beach. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ozzy Towers at the SIDS Car Cruise. Picture: Peter Stoop

Champion archer Laura Salter. Picture: Peter Stoop

Australia’s Marlboro Man, Bruce Adams. Picture: Peter Stoop

PROPERTY: Snippets

Stage one land is now available in Apple Tree Grove Estate at West Wallsend.
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A development by Roche Group, which owns Hunter Valley Gardens, the estate has been designed in keeping with the turn-of-the-century character of the West Wallsend village.

Land is being offered off the plan and work is expected to be completed on the site in May or June 2013.

At present the land is not registered, which gives buyers the opportunity to buy on a 10 per cent deposit with nothing more to be paid until registration is complete, allowing them more time to save.

For sale through LJ Hooker Belmont agent Rob O’Brien and Street Property Group agent Pat Mitchell , first-home buyers are taking advantage of the state government’s incentive to

buy and build a new home in the estate as they receive a grant of $15,000 plus the added bonus of exemption from stamp duty.

A Woolworths Shopping Centre, 40 specialty shops and a Harrigan’s Irish Pub will be constructed on George Booth Drive near Withers Street, about one kilometre from the site. Mr Mitchell said interest in the estate had been very strong, with 15 blocks of land sold within the first two weeks.

Lots are priced from $119,000 and are open for inspection today and tomorrow at Appletree

Road, West Wallsend, from 1pm to 2pm.

Holiday retreat for sale

LANDMARK Dungog property Crooks Park, arguably one of the Hunter’s most significant rural properties, is for sale.

The asking price is $2.75 million for the circa-1873 homestead.

On Clarence Town Road, Crooks Park is the original estate of early pastoralist James Hooke. Hooke family members are believed to be the first European settlers in the district.

The property has two residences and is on 85 hectares with stunning views and more than one-kilometre frontage to the Williams River.

Marketed as an executive holiday retreat, the extensively renovated and restored main house has five bedrooms, two bathrooms and wide, covered verandahs on the northern, southern and eastern sides.

Set in manicured lawns and delightful gardens, anin-ground swimming pool and clay tennis court offer excellent entertainment options.

A fully restored original dairy (1832) next to the homestead serves as a wine cellar.

Set away from the homestead, Bagnall’s Cottage is a four-bedroom weatherboard and iron home with 3.5-star accommodation.

The property has a carrying capacity of 50 breeders. There are three dams plus a 120-megalitre irrigation licence, delivering water to all 12 paddocks.

It is for sale through McElwaine Hunter Valley agent Natasha McElwaine.

History made here

HISTORIC Stroud property Peach Trees is for sale.

The 97-hectare property is nestled in the sought-after Mill Creek Valley and was originally part of the Australian Agricultural Company’s land grant from the NSW government.

Peach Trees was also the subject of the book, The Letters of Rachel Henning, which gave a personal day-to-day account of living in the 1800s in Australia.

On the market for $990,000 through R&R Propertyagent Denise Haynes, 1140 Mill Creek Road has a three-bedroom weatherboard home. Mill Creek flows along one boundary.

An attached portion of the house was one of the original dwellings and would be perfect as a guesthouse or artist’s studio.

Ms Haynes said the property could carry about 64 cows plus calves and two bulls.

Solid cattleyards plus RPM vet crush and calf cradle, shedding and good fencing are also on the property.

There is DA approval to subdivide the land into two lots.

Grand terrace on market

ONE of The Hill’s quintessential grand Victorian terraces will go to auction early next month.

The first open house will be held today at 24 The Terrace, at 11.15am.

The five-bedroom, two-bathroom, brick-and-tile house on more than 314 square metres is the

home of the University of Newcastle’s Laureate Professor Rob Sanson-Fisher, recognised this year by the Cancer Institute NSW for his cancer prevention work.

Overlooking King Edward Park, the two-storey terrace has original details, a beautiful faux marble fireplace, a large formal dining room, high patterned ceilings and large rooms.

Set back off the street with a private courtyard garden, there is also side access allowing entrance to the rear garden.

It will be auctioned on site at 10am on December 8 through Sonia Walkom, of Walkom Real Estate, and George Rafty, of PRDnationwide. Offers over $1million are expected.

Federation beauty

A GORGEOUS Federation classic in Mayfield formerly owned by Harriett Winn, of the Arnott’s-Winn family, is for sale.

Named Bencluna, the three-bedroom brick house at 120 Hanbury Street, Mayfield, positioned on an elevated corner block of 677 square metres has a return verandah, kauri pine polished floors, open fireplaces, 11-foot ornate ceilings and picture rails.

It is for sale for $588,500 through Robinson Property agent Mike Flook.

The property is open today from 1.30pm to 2pm.

NOSTALGIC: Appletree Grove Estate will be developed along the lines of a turn-of-the-century village. Fifteen blocks have already been sold off the plan.

GETAWAY: Crooks Park, Clarence Town Road, Dungog.

FRUITY: 1140 Mill Creek Road, Stroud.

GRAND: 24 The Terrace, The Hill.

BENCLUNA: 120 Hanbury Street, Mayfield.