Economy Continues to Grow

Australia’s 21-year unbroken run of economic growth continues. The GDP growth figure for the three months to the end of June was still strong: up 0.6 percent for the quarter with annual growth of 3.7 percent.

The numbers are strong, but challenges lie ahead, with the slow-down in iron ore and copper prices contributing to BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals all deferring expansion plans.

Given that much of Australia’s growth will come from the development of resources projects, not the production from them, the announcements from these key miners is important.

The Government, however, has in its back-pocket massive Liquefied Natural Gas projects such as Gorgon and the Browse Basin that are already in advanced stages. And while oil and gas prices have shown no recent signs of weakening, the Government will continue to talk up its Budget and its prospects.

Central Bank Interest Rate cut

The RBA on Tuesday cut the cash rate by a quarter of a per cent to 3.25 per cent in response to a weakening global economy. It was the fifth time the central bank has cut interest rates in the past 12 months and futures markets are forecasting another three cuts by the middle of 2013.

“As of June next year the market is pricing in a cash rate of about 2.4 per cent, which is more than three more rate cuts.”

CommSec chief economist Craig James warned that it would hurt bank deposit holders. “Judging by what has happened in previous months, home borrowers are more likely to respond to a rate cut by paying off their home loan at a faster rate, rather than going on a spending spree.”

In a statement accompanying the decision, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said a modest outlook for inflation – which is expected to remain within the target range of two to three per cent in 2013, gave the central bank room to cut in response to weaker global economic growth.

Meanwhile, commodity prices had fallen sharply in recent months and Australia’s terms of trade continued to decline while the jobs market had also weakened since early 2012.

Life of an Expat

There are some things every person considering living in Australia must take into account.

Firstly, although Australians speak (relatively) the same language, don’t be fooled into thinking they are the same. The same words have different connotations, the sense of humour is different, and most definitely etiquette is not what it is over here. If you are willing to have the mickey taken out of you (sometimes mercilessly) for no seemingly good reason and are capable of laughing at yourself then you will enjoy the learning process that comes with adapting to life in Australia. An Australian will not bother to take the Mick (it’s called Sledging over there) if they don’t like you. If, after a couple of meetings with someone they are not having a go at you I’d worry slightly. Be direct. It’s hard at first to overcome the Brittishness of it all, but you’ll be fine after a few times.

Secondly, Australians take sport SERIOUSLY. Watching, playing, barracking (yelling and going for a team are both called barracking), discussing…..again, be direct, expect sledging, and don’t take offence. Win or lose (although winning is always best to an Aussie) enjoy the verbal sparring that comes with passionate team support.

Thirdly,  the vast majority of Aussies are open, friendly and welcoming. They will appreciate the fact that you have chosen to live in their wonderful country (indeed they can’t imagine living anywhere else) and as long as you are prepared to ‘have a go’ and learn the foreign ways then you will be made part of the family in no time.

And finally, Aussies don’t major on the formal thank you card thing…..but never turn up to a BBQ without a bottle (there are drive-in bottle shops aplenty!).

Queensland shivers through winter’s coldest night

Brisbane awoke to its coldest morning since last winter today, while some parts of the state shivered through their coldest night in eight years. The temperature in Brisbane dropped to 6ºC just before 6am, several degrees below the July average minimum of 10ºC.

But it was far colder in other parts of the state, falling to -3.1ºC in Kingaroy and Oakey, -2.4ºC in Warwick and -1ºC in Ipswich. It fell just below freezing at Amberley and Beaudesert (-0.2ºC) and just under 1ºC in Gympie and Toowoomba, senior meteorologist Brett Dutschke said.

”Some real standouts are in the west of the state, mainly west and northwest. In fact for Cannington (3ºC) and Longreach (1ºC) it was their coldest night in eight years. In Winton (2°C) it was their coldest in seven years.”

In Brisbane and Ipswich today, maximum temperatures are predicted to reach 19ºC, while it will reach a top of 18ºC on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.”The coldest place in Queensland today will probably be Stanthorpe, which will probably only get to 10ºC or 11ºC degrees today,” Mr Dutschke said, while Toowoomba is expected to reach a top of 12ºC.

It’s expected to be much the same tomorrow before warming up later in the week, he said.

Australia facing the prospect of a whitewash in the ODI

England are threatening to take Australia’s ranking as top one-day cricketing nation as skipper Michael Clarke concedes his team needs big improvements quickly.

The Australians never threatened England in a six-wicket loss at the Oval yesterday for a second straight defeat in the series and Clarke admitted the gulf between the teams was even larger than the scores suggested. “I think the scoreboard at the first game at Lord’s probably hid how far away the teams were,” he said. “It says we only lost by 15 runs but I think they outplayed us at Lord’s and they certainly outplayed us here, so we need to get better quickly.”

England is fourth in the One-Day International rankings but a whitewash in the next eight days would install it at the top of the table, deposing Australia. That would make England the first team to hold a triple crown in cricket, as it already leads the Test table and the new T20 rankings, introduced just eight months ago.