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New lending for homes fell in November for 10th month in a row

Peter Hannam

Australian house prices have been heading south for a while (Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart posted record calendar-year drops), and so has lending for home purchases.

Data just out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show new loan commitments fell by a seasonally adjusted 3.7% in November. It was the 10th monthly fall in a row, according to CBA (which had tipped a 4% drop).

New loans for housing fell 3.7% in November (close to expectations), extending the slide to a 10th consecutive month, ABS data showed. pic.twitter.com/bNodCnOKIm

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 13, 2023

“The number of owner-occupier dwelling commitments also continued to fall in November to below the pre-pandemic level for the first time,” the acting ABS head of finance and wealth, Dane Mead, said.

Interest rates have been climbing, and one effect is that refinancing is surging as borrowers shop around for better deals or are coming off fixed-rate periods.

According to the ABS, the value of owner-occupier refinancing between lenders rose 9.1% to a new high of $13.4bn in November (seasonally adjusted).

First home buyer loans in November were 51% below their January 2021 peak and 16% below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level, the ABS said.

Looking ahead, some of the concerns about rising inflation and higher interest rates are ebbing, at least for now.

Despite some relatively strong Australian retail sales figures for November and ongoing strong demand for new staff in the economy, investors have lately been lowering their expectations of how high the Reserve Bank of Australia will lift the cash rate.

Now at 3.1%, the cash rate may not have that much further to climb.

Ahead of lending data from the ABS for November (and the weakish CPI numbers from the US), investors had been paring back their expectations of how high the RBA would lift its cash rate. The peak rate is now seen as a tad above 3.75%. pic.twitter.com/Vmp8c7IvZt

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 13, 2023

News overnight that prices in the US, the world’s biggest economy, fell 0.1% in December, will encourage those hoping the worst of inflation might have passed. It was the first decline in US prices in two-and-a-half years.

Key events

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Home of the Elvis festival in mourning for Lisa Marie Presley’s death

If there’s one town in Australia which has become synonymous with the King, it’s Parkes ever since restauranteurs Anne and Bob Steele started the annual Elvis festival to attract tourists to the town several hours inland, away from the coast in the middle of summer.

The news of Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie Presley’s, death comes less than a week after the thirty year anniversary festival was held.

Local federal member Michael McCormack, who dressed up in Elvis garb last weekend and formed part of the parade, has taken to social media to say the entire Parkes community is mourning the death.

At Parkes they are mourning the passing of Lisa Marie Presley at 54 years young. Lisa Marie always received a big mention at the annual Elvis Festival, held just last weekend. The Festival is endorsed by Elvis Presley Enterprises which includes Graceland, which Lisa Marie owned. pic.twitter.com/sGlHYqDhLU

— Michael McCormack (@M_McCormackMP) January 13, 2023

If you want to see McCormack’s get up and many other wonderful pictures from the tribute event, check out Mike Bowers gallery of pictures from this year’s festival:

Allegra Spender on Perrottet’s costume scandal

The Independent MP Allegra Spender says she is “terribly disappointed” at the news of the NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, dressing as a Nazi at his 21st birthday party.

Spender, who represents the electorate of Wentworth which has one of the largest Jewish populations, says the revelation was hurtful for her many constituents whose families were victims of the Holocaust.

In a post on Instagram, Spender said:

I was terribly disappointed to learn of Premier Perrottet’s behaviour as a young man.

These revelations are upsetting and hurtful for the many people in Wentworth whose families were victims of the Nazi regime.

The response from the Jewish Community has been very generous.

That a young well-educated man could behave in this way, emphasises the important work of our schools and the Holocaust Museums to educate on the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has shared some of the images from his visit in the coastal city of Wewak in Papua New Guinea, including visiting the home of the late Sir Michael Somare, PNG’s first prime minister, as well as laying a wreath on his grave.

Sir Michael Somare is referred to as the Father of the Nation in Papua New Guinea.

When he and Gough Whitlam oversaw Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975, there was a new hope for PNG and for our region. pic.twitter.com/BuJChiFmnG

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 13, 2023

More on Queensland weather

Hello! And thank you Caitlin.

A bit more information on the severe weather in Queensland from AAP:

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecast heavy or intense rainfall that may trigger flash flooding in the state’s central and northern interior including Julia Creek, Hughenden and Richmond on Friday.

Severe thunderstorms are possible from Mackay to Ingham on the coast, and as far west as the Northern Territory border and as far south as Winton.

The bureau warned flash flooding was possible in a number of areas with catchments already reasonably wet from recent downpours.

It imposed a flood watch warning on Friday:

Areas of heavy rainfall are likely from late Friday and expected to become more widespread from Saturday. At this stage there is some uncertainty over the location of the heaviest rainfall and therefore which catchments are most at risk of flooding.

Minor to moderate flooding is possible from late Friday. Heavy rainfall, possibly intense at times, may cause localised flooding. Disruption to transport routes is likely across parts of the flood watch area.

Part of the Mackay region including the Northern Beaches and Eton have already been flooded with police issuing a warning to residents and particularly drivers across north Queensland about “extraordinary weather” over the next several days.

They have warned people against complacency and to stay up to date with rainfall forecast maps, and to avoid flood waters.

With that I will pass you back to the lovely Natasha May. Enjoy your respective weekends.

China and Australia meet over Covid response

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

China’s foreign ministry has revealed that the country has held meetings with Australian officials regarding Covid-related issues.

Earlier this week, China imposed visa-processing freezes on Japan and South Korea in apparent retaliation for those countries’ new measures tied to the Covid wave in China, which recently relaxed its “Covid zero” policies.

No such disruption appears to have been levelled at Australia, despite the Albanese government’s decision to introduce the requirement for negative Covid tests on travellers from China. Australia’s chief medical officer did not recommend this course of action but the health minister, Mark Butler, said has said the government was acting cautiously and wanted more transparency from China about its Covid situation.

It is understood the Australian government views the negative test rule as reciprocal because China also requires it of travellers to China. Butler has made no secret of the fact he hopes the requirement is temporary and will encourage China to share more information about its outbreak.

Wang Wenbin, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, dismissed concerns about a lack of transparency at a press conference in Beijing overnight, saying China was in regular technical exchanges with the World Health Organization. He went on to discloses meetings with Australia:

In addition, over the past days, the competent Chinese authorities held a series of bilateral meetings with the EU and Australia to have exchanges on Covid-related issues and strengthen response cooperation. Relevant Chinese departments and institutions continue to share the genomic sequencing data on infections in China via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID). All this has received recognition from the WHO and the wider international community.

Comment and details have been sought from the Australian government.

Tour Down Under to get under way tomorrow in SA

The 10-day bike race returns for the first time in three years as one of South Australia’s biggest tourism and sporting events, but not everyone is happy.

Santos, a major fossil fuel company in the Asia-Pacific region, has been the naming rights sponsor of Australia’s premier cycling event since 2010.

The Greens spokesperson for resources and tourism and Yamatji-Noongar woman, Senator Dorinda Cox, called on Events South Australia to seek alternative sponsorship arrangements that “better align” with the protection of the natural environment:

The Tour Down Under is an internationally regarded, much-loved event that showcases the natural beauty of South Australia and draws tourists to the state, like the cycling grand tours of Europe.

Santos is a huge contributor to climate change, yet its sponsorship of important events like the Tour Down Under goes unchallenged.

Holding the long-standing naming rights sponsorship of the Tour Down Under demonstrates how fossil fuel companies use the soft power of sport to greenwash their operations and climate action credentials.

Saying no to new coal and gas projects and expansions, also means saying no to the invasive, greenwashing sponsorship deals that fossil fuel companies covet.

Mark Dreyfus calls Iran’s execution of protesters ‘shameful’

The Australian attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has labelled Iran’s execution of protesters as a shameful attempt to intimidate and silence citizens.

It follows calls from the Greens to escalate sanctions against Iran and list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

Iran’s ongoing execution of protesters is a shameful attempt to intimidate and silence citizens.

Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people.

We will continue to advocate for Iranians facing the death penalty for exercising their right to protest.

— Mark Dreyfus (@MarkDreyfusKCMP) January 13, 2023

ACT records six Covid deaths and 59 people in hospital

The ACT’s weekly Covid update has been released.

There have been 1,012 new cases detected and six further deaths in the week to 13 January.

There are 59 people in hospital with the virus and none in ICU.

Sadly, ACT Health has been notified of six COVID-related deaths during this reporting period; a man in his 80s, a man in his 70s, two women in their 90s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 40s.
ACT Health extends its sincere condolences to their families and friends.

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) January 13, 2023

Greens senator calls for expanded sanctions against Iran over executions

The Greens senator Barbara Pocock has announced her sponsorship of two Iranian prisoners recently sentenced to death in Iran after they participated in protests against the morality police.

Arshia Takdastan, 18, and Javad Rouhi, 35, are now awaiting execution following what supporters say were sham trials – charged with “spreading corruption on earth”.

Pocock has written to the Iranian ambassador to declare her political sponsorship of both men and urge their death sentences be revoked:

If this was happening in Australia, I, and many of my friends who attend, organise and support public protests, would likely be in jail, potentially facing the death penalty.

The international community, including Australia, needs to increase pressure on the Iranian regime to bring these show trials to an end and stop the unjust killing of innocent Iranians.

Many Australian-Iranians are deeply distressed about the treatment of their friends and families in Iran and are desperate to enlist support for their cause.

Takdastan is accused of being a leader of the riots in Nowhahr and was convicted on the basis of a confession extracted under torture, according to his supporters in Iran.

The Greens are calling on the federal government to expand sanctions against the Iranian regime and list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

New lending for homes fell in November for 10th month in a row

Peter Hannam

Peter Hannam

Australian house prices have been heading south for a while (Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart posted record calendar-year drops), and so has lending for home purchases.

Data just out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show new loan commitments fell by a seasonally adjusted 3.7% in November. It was the 10th monthly fall in a row, according to CBA (which had tipped a 4% drop).

New loans for housing fell 3.7% in November (close to expectations), extending the slide to a 10th consecutive month, ABS data showed. pic.twitter.com/bNodCnOKIm

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 13, 2023

“The number of owner-occupier dwelling commitments also continued to fall in November to below the pre-pandemic level for the first time,” the acting ABS head of finance and wealth, Dane Mead, said.

Interest rates have been climbing, and one effect is that refinancing is surging as borrowers shop around for better deals or are coming off fixed-rate periods.

According to the ABS, the value of owner-occupier refinancing between lenders rose 9.1% to a new high of $13.4bn in November (seasonally adjusted).

First home buyer loans in November were 51% below their January 2021 peak and 16% below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level, the ABS said.

Looking ahead, some of the concerns about rising inflation and higher interest rates are ebbing, at least for now.

Despite some relatively strong Australian retail sales figures for November and ongoing strong demand for new staff in the economy, investors have lately been lowering their expectations of how high the Reserve Bank of Australia will lift the cash rate.

Now at 3.1%, the cash rate may not have that much further to climb.

Ahead of lending data from the ABS for November (and the weakish CPI numbers from the US), investors had been paring back their expectations of how high the RBA would lift its cash rate. The peak rate is now seen as a tad above 3.75%. pic.twitter.com/Vmp8c7IvZt

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 13, 2023

News overnight that prices in the US, the world’s biggest economy, fell 0.1% in December, will encourage those hoping the worst of inflation might have passed. It was the first decline in US prices in two-and-a-half years.

Albanese, donned in traditional headdress, gleefully watches a traditional sing sing ceremony presented as he arrives in Wewak, PNG.

Tamsin Rose

Tamsin Rose

NSW Greens blast Perrottet on Nazi outfit revelation

The New South Wales Greens spokesperson for anti-racism, Jenny Leong, and her party colleague, Cate Faehrmann, have released a joint statement regarding the premier, Dominic Perrottet’s Nazi uniform scandal.

They said the Nazi outfit was worn at his 21st party just a couple of years before he became the president of the young Liberals.

They said:

It is difficult to fathom his political views were not already formed. Fascist extremism is not a joke. People living every day with racism can’t simply shake it away with a quick press conference, like this government tried to do this morning.

They said the premier had failed to explicitly call out racism in his comments which the pair claimed was representative of the Coalition government.

The premier had the opportunity over the last 24 hours to denounce racism and extremism. Instead, the premier tried to brush it away as a past ‘mistake’ and didn’t mention racism once … It’s hard to comprehend the sense of privilege that the premier enjoys, purporting to be remorseful about such an offensive act one day and then stepping up the next morning as if nothing happened. This luxury is not something that those who have experienced the lasting impacts of racism can enjoy. The people of NSW deserve and expect so much more.

Home loan numbers continue to fall

Turning to the cooling housing market, it’s a bad day to be a loan.

My colleague Peter Hannam notes new housing loans have slid for the 10th consecutive month.

New loans for housing fell 3.7% in November (close to expectations), extending the slide to a 10th consecutive month, ABS data showed. pic.twitter.com/bNodCnOKIm

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) January 13, 2023

‘No more important relationship’ than Australia and PNG’s, Albanese says

Albanese has made remarks at the Somare family home.

He’s looking very pleased in traditional PNG headdress, as reported by the pool journalist on the ground, McIlroy.

In a couple of years’ time, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of independence for PNG. Of course, we had self government from 1973 and 74, the lead up to 1975 was most important.

I said to the parliament yesterday that the importance of this historical event was that you didn’t see the tearing down of a flag. You didn’t see a revolution. What you saw was a peaceful transition, due to the leadership particularly of Sir Michael Somare, but also on this occasion I pay tribute to the late Gough Whitlam as well.

It took two leaders coming together, in the interests of their people, to see Papua New Guinea thrive into the future as an independent state.

Our futures, just like our pasts, are intertwined. We are connected. The stronger and more secure and more prosperous Papua New Guinea is, the stronger and more secure and prosperous Australia will be. And the same applies the other way around, which is why there is no more important relationship than between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Anthony Albanese has visited the grave of Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare in Wewak, accompanied by PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Mrs Marape pic.twitter.com/wCDPSoxefA

— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) January 12, 2023

Albanese pays respect to Papua New Guinea’s first prime minister

Over in Papua New Guinea, Tom McIlroy, the Australian pool reporter on the ground, reports that Anthony Albanese has paid his respects at the grave site of grand chief sir Michael Somare, in Wewak.

As PNG’s first prime minister, Somare is popularly referred to as the father of the nation. He led PNG four times, serving in the role for 16 of the country’s 47 years of independence, and is credited with leading the independence movement in 1975.

McIlroy, of the Australian Financial Review, said Albanese took part in a traditional cleansing ceremony, involving the breaking of a coconut. Coconut breaking symbolises welcoming of friends to one’s land by the traditional land owners.

He laid a wreath and a photo of Somare with Gough Whitlam, framed in Victorian Mountain Ash. He then planted a coconut tree outside the Somare family home.

Albanese and his PNG counterpart, James Marape, were met by Somare’s daughter Dulciana Somare and introduced to Somare family members. Grandchildren of Somare presented fresh leis to the official delegation.

The town of Wewak warmly welcomed Albanese’s visit, with locals lining the road from the airport and flying Australian and PNG flags.

Albanese gave the governor of East Sepik province, Allan Bird, an artwork by Lloyd Jampijinpa Brown depicting a “yankirri Jukurrpa” (emu dreaming).




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