New CDU leader lags Bavarian premier in race to succeed Merkel

New CDU leader lags Bavarian premier in race to succeed Merkel

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Global Economic Activity Lags Despite Post-Holiday Bounce

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(Bloomberg) — After slumping during the year-end holidays, activity in several of the world’s largest advanced economies partially recovered in the first week of January. Still, it remains significantly lower than at the start of last year, according to Bloomberg Economics gauges that integrate data such as mobility, energy consumption and public transport usage.

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US surpasses 20 million confirmed coronavirus cases, as vaccine rollout lags behind forecasts

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has surpassed 20 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The tally accounts for nearly one-quarter of the more than 83 million cases confirmed globally and is nearly twice as many as the country with the second most cases — India.

The US also has by far the most deaths attributed to COVID-19 related complications, at 347,517.

The per capita death toll — one dead of every 950 Americans — ranks 16th in the world.

The number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients exceeded 125,000 on New Year’s Day, setting a new daily record.

The grim milestone comes as the country struggles to roll out a vaccine to combat the surging rise in hospitalisations and deaths.

An estimated 2.8 million vaccine doses have been administered in the US so far, much less than the 20 million promised by President Donald Trump.

President-elect Joe Biden said at the current rate of vaccination it would take “years” to inoculate Americans.

Romney urges sweeping vaccination plan

Republican Senator Mitt Romney called for greater action to increase the rate of vaccinations.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney has criticised the rollout of vaccines in the US, calling for a new plan to accelerate inoculations.(Reuters: Erin Scott)

The Utah Senator, who ran unsuccessfully for president as his party’s nominee in 2012, urged the US Government to immediately enlist veterinarians, combat medics and others in an all-out national campaign to administer coronavirus vaccinations.

“That comprehensive vaccination plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Senator Romney said in a statement.

Senator Romney called for inoculation clinics to be established at sites such as school buildings that are largely empty because of the pandemic.

He also recommended establishing a clear order for Americans nationwide to receive their shots according to priority groups and birthdays, while welcoming other ideas from medical professionals.

Prioritising vaccine recipients is currently being handled state by state.

Senator Romney said the country needed to acknowledge the current vaccination plan “isn’t working”, was “woefully behind,” and that leaders must urgently find ways to quickly bolster capacity.

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Qld economy lags but jobs bounce back


Queensland’s economic “bounce back” was the second-worst in the nation last quarter, beating only locked-down Victoria, a new report shows.

The latest ANZ Stateometer report found that every state except Victoria “recovered ground” in the September quarter and there were positive early signs of growth continuing to expand through to the end of the year.

ANZ senior economist Cherelle Murphy said border closures had dragged down growth in states such as Queensland that enforced strict travel controls between July to September.

“There still was somewhat of a recovery and I think that will probably get better in the December quarter,” she said.

“A lot of the indicators we’ve been getting have been quite strong … showing that the economy is getting back closer to normal,” she said. The report found economic growth in Queensland was “below-trend pace” for the September quarter, but had improved following the disastrous June quarter at the height of the pandemic.

Cherelle Murphy, ANZ Research.

“(The Queensland economy) did not bounce back as well as the rest of Australia, with the obvious exception of Victoria,” the report says.

Consumer spending was the only sector in Queensland that grew above the trend rate, but the housing, business, labour market and trade sectors were all down.

“Queensland’s economy has recently felt the impact of reduced resources industry investment and reduced dwelling investment,” it says.

“Prices for Queensland’s major commodity exports, LNG and coal, also fell in the quarter. China’s import restrictions and strong domestic ­supplies are weighing on the coking coal price.”

Prices for Queensland’s major commodity exports, LNG and coal, fell in the last quarter.

Prices for Queensland’s major commodity exports, LNG and coal, fell in the last quarter.

But the green shoots of ­recovery were also starting to show with positive signs in employment and consumer confidence.

Queensland’s job market recorded the nation’s second-largest plunge (8.2 per cent) between March and May, but since then, its “bounce was also strong”, according to the report.

From May to October, employment across the state was up 8.7 per cent, the best recovery in the nation for the period. Consumer confidence around the nation had also surpassed levels from early March.

Confidence levels in Brisbane and the rest of Queensland were both higher than the national average.

The report also included gross state product figures for the 2019-20 financial year, with Queensland again recording the second worst result following a 1.1 per cent drop in output.

Originally published as Qld economy lags but jobs bounce back

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State Govt cranks up advertising spending as transparency promise lags

Treasurer Rob Lucas’s promised new era of advertising transparency has had a tardy beginning, despite the State Government approving new campaign spending of nearly $9 million in the space of one month.

Lucas told InDaily on September 1 that he had decided to change official guidelines to require public reporting on the proposed budget for all Government advertising and marketing campaigns worth more than $50,000 as they began, rather than only publishing evaluations after campaigns had ended.

However, as of yesterday, despite numerous Government campaigns being approved in September, there was no reporting on the Department of the Premier and Cabinet website, as required by the new guidelines.

After InDaily inquired yesterday about the lack of reporting, the body that oversees government advertising campaigns – the Government Communications Advisory Committee (GCAC), chaired by Lucas – published its report for September.

That report shows that at least six campaigns have been approved since Lucas made his September 1 promise – including five on that day – worth a total of more than $8.8 million.

Lucas defended the near two-month lag in reporting today, saying that under his new guidelines, he expected information to be published in the month following approval of campaigns.

He also insisted the new measures still provided much greater transparency than in the past (scroll down for a full statement from the Treasurer).

The bulk of the new spending approved in September – more than $5 million – is earmarked for inter- and intra-state tourism campaigns, to capitalise on South Australia’s relative success in containing the coronavirus. (Solstice Media, publisher of InDaily, receives Government advertising spending from time to time, including tourism campaigns.)

An additional $1.5 million was approved on September 1 for a campaign to attract New Zealand tourists to SA – well before the so-called travel bubble with our trans-Tasman neighbour was approved.

The GCAC report says the money will be spent on an “international campaign to encourage New Zealanders to travel to South Australia when able”.

By contrast, another substantial campaign – worth just under $1.2 million – is directly targeted at South Australian voters.

Approved on September 27, the “infrastructure campaign” – designed to “raise awareness of the government’s record investment in infrastructure across the state” – has sparked a change in political rhetoric from government MPs, from the Premier down to backbenchers.

The advertising insists the Government is “building what matters” – “because the things that matter to you, matter to us”.

The messaging has been echoed in coordinated political rhetoric by the Government in recent weeks.

Liberal marginal seat MPs, ministers and Premier Steven Marshall are using the messaging in their social media campaigning ahead of the State Budget in November, many including the hashtag #BuildingWhatMatters.

A screenshot from Member for King Paula Luethen’s Facebook page. Similar messaging is being used by other Liberal MPs.

A screenshot of a video on Steven Marshall’s Facebook page.

Announcing Government funding for road maintenance projects this week, Marshall said: “This is another part of our plan to keep South Australia safe and strong, by creating jobs, backing business and building what matters.”

Government rules explicitly prohibit the use of paid advertising campaigns for party-political purposes.

The rules also state that public funds cannot be used for paid advertising when “members of the government are named, depicted and promoted in a way that could be seen as excessive or gratuitous” or “it can be interpreted as political”.

In this case, the main advertising campaign does not include politicians, but supplementary social media posts, media releases and interviews with politicians have been used to explicitly reference the paid campaign messaging.

InDaily asked Rob Lucas whether the campaign could be construed as political, given it is promoting the Government’s broad infrastructure spend, rather than providing direct information about individual projects.

“The infrastructure campaign is an important initiative to inform South Australians about where their money is being spent to build and upgrade roads, schools, hospitals and affordable housing across the state and create jobs,” he said in response.

“The campaign encourages South Australians to visit to learn more about the infrastructure projects and jobs being created in their local area. It also engages the private sector to register their infrastructure projects on the website, which also provides helpful direction to local businesses who wish to gain access to project tender information and job seekers pursuing employment.”

InDaily reported in July that GCAC had scaled back its public reporting on communication campaigns’ cost and effectiveness.

The GCAC was formed in July 2019 and, as of June this year, had published one evaluation report for the financial year. In the previous financial year, the Government had reported monthly on campaigns’ cost and effectiveness.

In response to InDaily’s questions in July about the frequency of reporting, Lucas promised to review the guidelines for reporting on government advertising.

On September 1, he said he had approved an amendment to the guidelines to require additional reporting and greater transparency about the cost of campaigns.

In addition to the rules requiring public reporting of the total cost and an “evaluation summary” for each approved communications initiative, typically done after its completion, the GCAC would now publish the cost of each campaign as it begins.

“This enhanced reporting will ensure South Australians are better informed about Government communications initiatives’ associated costs at the start of a campaign period, not just at the end,” Lucas said.

“The total cost and an evaluation summary for each communications initiative above $50,000 (ex GST) will continue to be published on the DPC website.”

However, the new guidelines – effective from September – don’t specify a timeframe for reporting campaigns.

They simply say: “To further improve transparency, the proposed budget, total cost and an evaluation summary for each communications initiative (above $50,000 ex GST) will be published on the DPC website.”

InDaily has asked Lucas how transparency has been improved, if the timing of reporting isn’t specified.

“The September report was approved by me in the past week and it has been subsequently published,” he responded. “As per the new guidelines, communications initiatives (above $50,000 ex GST) approved since July 1 are now published, together with their proposed expenditure.

“We’ve committed to monthly reporting, however, the actual timing of the report’s publication is dependent on the preparation of the report and subsequent approval by me, as chair of GCAC. We would expect a report will be published in the following month, for example, a September report will be published in October.

“Under the previous system, expenditure associated with a campaign wasn’t published until well after the campaign’s conclusion. The new guidelines provide much greater transparency, with the proposed expenditure associated with a new communications initiative (above $50,000 ex GST) published in the month after its approval.”

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