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Local News - Victoria

Camera mecca shuts for good after 105 years of trade on one site


Mr Michael said the pause placed on the return of office workers to the CBD this week showed the end of the pandemic was uncertain.

“It’s costing a fair bit to stay open. I’m going backwards at the moment,” he said

The store began as a gun and pawn shop.

The store began as a gun and pawn shop.

He felt “very emotional” and it was “extremely difficult”, but he had decided to operate online from now on.

The business was opened in 1916 as a gun and pawn shop by Mr Michael’s great-grandfather Emanuel Michael.

It became a pharmacy in 1925 that also sold photography equipment.

Mr Michael, 62, worked as a child for his father, Alan, counting pills, cleaning and delivering goods.

It was also a chemists and then branched out into photography.

It was also a chemists and then branched out into photography.

He sold his first big camera, a Minolta SRT 101 for $250, in 1971. He was 13

During and after World War II, the pharmacy was known for selling contraceptives, including a thriving mail order business.

An elderly woman told Mr Michael that she worked there in the 1950s, but never told her friends, such was the taboo around such matters.

From 1976, Michaels solely focused on photography, but its attitude stayed the same: “You care about the customer, you know about the product,” Mr Michael said.

It is hoped the store's camera collection will be donated to an institution.

It is hoped the store’s camera collection will be donated to an institution. Credit:Nicole Emanuel

Elton John once bought a Polaroid camera at Michaels. Lionel Richie, Bette Midler and John Farnham have all been customers.

Theft was a constant. Recently a man walked out without paying for four $200 cameras. He was arrested across the road.

Mr Michael would like to donate his museum of 10,000 items, which he believes is the largest private camera collection in the world, to an institution such as the Melbourne Museum, as “a lasting tribute to our family and our place in Melbourne”.

Pieces include a metal “birdie” of the kind that early photographers whistled into, while their head was under the cloth camera shade, to signify to photo subjects to look at the camera, or “watch the birdie”.

Harold Michael with a customer. Alan Michael is in the background.

Harold Michael with a customer. Alan Michael is in the background.

There are two telephoto lenses that were damaged in the 1986 bombing of the Turkish consulate in South Yarra, and a sleek 1928 green ladies’ pocket-sized vanity camera that includes a powder compact, lipstick and mirror.

Customer Adrian Roy, 65, of Glen Waverley, said he felt “shock and dismay” at the store closing.

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A keen photographer, Mr Roy has has been coming to Michaels for over 30 years, often just to look at museum exhibits, such as photos taken using Leica cameras.

Mr Roy said, of the closure: “You’ve got to follow business realities, I know, and this COVID business has slammed everybody, tragically. It’s unfortunate.”

Michaels is still trading online at michaels.com.au

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Australian News

China wants relationship with Australia back on track as ‘early as possible’ as trade war bites


Australia’s $20 billion trade war with China could soon ease, with their country’s foreign minister saying he wants the relationship back on track.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a private event earlier this month he wanted relations to return to normal as “early as possible”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Wang spoke at a private Asia Society Policy Institute event hosted by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd on December 19.

“We hope that the relationship can come back to the right track as early as possible, and we would welcome efforts by all who want the relations to improve to make some efforts,” Mr Wang told the former prime minister.

The comments come after Mr Rudd asked the foreign minister if there was a way to accommodate a “restabilisation” of the relationship between Beijing and Canberra, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“If Australia sees China not as a threat, but a partner, then for the issues between us there are better chances that we find solutions. So I would kick the ball to Australia,” Mr Wang said.

Chinese tariffs have been imposed on Australian barley with the federal government asking the World Trade Organisation to investigate the measure.

Other Australian products including beef, timber, cotton, lamb, coal and lobster have also been hit by sanctions.

The statements come after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “happy to have a discussion” with China at a UK policy event in November.

But a tweet from a Chinese bureaucrat showing a fake image of an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a child sparked outrage.

It prompted Mr Morrison to label it as “repugnant” and said he wanted an apology from the Chinese government.

But an expert said the Chinese foreign minister’s comments should not be “over-interpreted” as a positive signal.

“They are at best mild and conditional,” ANU National Security Colleges head Rory Medcalf told the paper.



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Australian News

China accuses Australia of trade violation


Australia has been “laughed at” for accusing China of breaching their free trade agreement, Chinese state-owned media says.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham this week made a complaint to the World Trade Organisation over massive tariffs on barley exported to China.

But the Global Times on Thursday said it was China that should be resorting to international courts more often to protect its interests.

“It is Australia, instead of China, that is violating the terms of the agreement, “ the outlet wrote.

Australia’s ban on some Chinese investments, including vetoing Huawei from its 5G rollout, is being used as ammunition by China as the trade dispute deepens.

Guangdong Research Institute for International Strategies professor Zhou Fangyin told the Global Times that China hadn’t argued with Australia over “those violations”.

“But it should resort to the WTO more frequently to safeguard its interests now that Australia is damaging its relations with China,” he said.

Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Co-operation research fellow Song Wei told the Global Times that Australia raised the bar for Chinese companies after siding with the US, which had “seriously affected trade” between China and Australia.

China’s tariffs on Australian barley were “not a violation” of their free-trade agreement because a Chinese investigation concluded that the barley was sold below market prices that hurt local growers, she said.

This claim has been repeatedly denied by Australian authorities.

RELATED China blasts Australia over ‘hysterical slander’

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Thursday said China abided by World Trade Organisation rules.

“The discriminatory practices of the Australian side against Chinese enterprises are not in line with the principles of market economy and international economic and trade rules,” he said.

“We hope that the Australian side will adopt practical measures to correct them.”

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Today that Australia would make no apologies for protecting and preserving its national interests.

“Where those trade tensions can be resolved bilaterally, we would obviously like to do so,” he said.

“Where they can’t, we reserve the right to use multilateral forum.”

China’s demand for Australian iron ore has resulted in prices soaring to record highs in recent weeks.

The development prompted an economic boost in Australia’s mid-year economic outlook.

Mr Frydenberg said this showed that economic relationship was “mutually beneficial”.



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Business

How Biden’s new trade chief will keep the pressure on China


She has been credited with creating the coalition of countries that challenged China’s restrictions on exports of rare earths in 2012.

Rare earths are a commodity that China dominates and one vital to production of smartphones, electric vehicles, aircraft, military equipment and other 21st century technologies.

Tai was able to convince 18 other countries to join the suit against China – including Australia – which eventually ended with China removing the export quotas in 2015.

Tai, like Biden and unlike Trump and his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, is a multilateralist who will seek to enlist allies, and revive multilateral institutions, to prosecute America’s trade policies.

The Trump administration’s preferred bilateral and heavy-handed approach to trade and its indiscriminate use of tariffs as its weapon of choice has been less-than-successful – America’s trade deficit has swollen, not shrunk – and has alienated its traditional allies, which have been on the receiving end of Trumps trade wars.

While Trump’s tariffs have reduced the deficit with China, imports from other parts of Asia and from Mexico and Canada have more than replaced them and in the meantime US companies and households have effectively paid the tariffs, rather than Chinese exporters.

Biden and Tai are likely to be more sophisticated, but no less hawkish towards China, sharing the Trump administration’s hostility to China’s trade practices and its concerns about China’s overt efforts to challenge America’s economic and geopolitical leadership.

While her methods might be different, the Democrats share the same underlying suspicion and hostility towards China as the Republicans.

Biden has said the Trump tariffs on China’s exports will remain, at least initially, but Tai is expected to try to create a partnership of western economies and to use the WTO to try to change the way China does business with the rest of the world.

For China, a coalition of the larger part of the global economy would be far more threatening to its ambitions that Trump’s unilateralist approach and would make it more difficult for it to isolate and target individual economies – as it has done with its trade sanctions on Australian exports – than is now the case.

One of the issues that led to those sanctions (along with Scott Morrison’s call for an international investigation of the origins of the coronavirus) was Australia’s criticism of China’s treatment of the Uighur ethnic minorities in its Xinjiang province.

Tai worked on China-related issues during her period advising the Ways and Means committee, including legislation that barred imports made with forced labour by the Uighurs.

Trump’s crude approach to trade has been less than successful – even the great trade agreement he struck with China at the start of this year has failed, badly, to live up to expectations.

Trump’s crude approach to trade has been less than successful – even the great trade agreement he struck with China at the start of this year has failed, badly, to live up to expectations.Credit:AP

China might expect a Mandarin-speaking Asian-American with experience of working in China to be more understanding of China’s complexities and less aggressive than the China hawks in the Trump administration but, while her methods might be different, the Democrats share the same underlying suspicion and hostility towards China as the Republicans.

Tai has said that the current trade strategy is too defensive – she believes that while America needs to confront China’s unfair trade practices like forced technology and state subsidies, with its allies, it also to focus on improving America’s domestic productivity and competitiveness.

Trump’s crude approach to trade has been less than successful – even the great trade agreement he struck with China at the start of this year has failed, badly, to live up to expectations. China isn’t buying anything like the amounts of US goods, energy and agricultural products it pledged to buy.

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China is having a similar experience with its bans on Australian products ranging from barley, lobsters, wine and coal.

China has imported Australian metallurgical coal for its steel and power generation industries because it is high-quality and relatively low-cost, allowing for greater efficiency and less carbon-intensive emissions.

The ban on Australian coal is forcing the Chinese mills and power companies to use much higher-cost and lower quality domestic coal and import more expensive coal from elsewhere – even as their competitors in Japan and South Korea enjoy lower prices.

In the meantime, the escalation in the trade aggression towards Australia – and the extent of the infrastructure-led, steel-intensive resurgence in China’s economy – has seen the price of iron ore rocket from around $US80 a tonne during the height of the pandemic to nearly $US160 a tonne.

The steel mills are panicking, calling in Australia iron ore suppliers to question them about the prices, suspecting manipulation even though the Pilbara producers haven’t reduced their production. Potential disruption to future volumes generated by the fallout from Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Junken Gorge caves might also be playing a role in the price spike.

In any event, the combination of the soaring prices of both iron ore and coal are threatening to throttle the profitability of China’s steel and energy industries. Efforts being attempted to get the power companies to cap the price of the coal they buy, or trying to revisit the way in which iron ore is priced, are fruitless.

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China is experiencing a similar blowback from its trade policies as America experienced from Trump’s. The tariff and non-tariff sanctions China has imposed on Australian exports are not without significant costs to its own economy.

The likelihood is that a Biden administration will re-examine the $US360 billion ($478 billion) of tariffs Trump imposed on China’s exports and eventually be somewhat more selective and strategic about the imports from China that it targets to ensure that they impose a greater weight on China than on US companies and consumers.

It would be reasonable to assume that when it calls on its allies, including Australia, for help in dealing with China’s trade practices and human rights violations, it will also recognise the need to ensure the alliance protects its own from the kinds of bilateral Chinese retaliation Australia is experiencing.

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Australian News

China replies over latest wine tariffs as Australia’s Trade Minister lashes out at Beijing


China’s state media has described its latest move against Australian wine makers as a “destructive blow” that could see prices triple and shoppers ditch Aussie products in a new article overnight.

It comes after Trade Minister Simon Birmingham lashed out at China over its “false” claims surrounding the Australian wine industry in some of his harshest words against Beijing yet, saying he will continue to “call out” China’s bad behaviour.

In an article in Chinese state mouthpiece The Global Times, an importer of Australian wine claimed he has “he has started to explore wine from other countries, including Chile, and he expects the demand for Australian wine to crater.”

“Chinese customers chose Australian wines mostly because of the prices advantage compared with other countries’ wines, and I expect the volume imported Australia will drop sharply,” Long Guanyu, the general manager of a wine importer based in Xiamen, told the Global Times.

It comes as the world’s eyes focus on China’s tough action on Australia, with the BBC describing some of Birmingham’s comments his “strongest yet” against Xi Jinping.

RELATED: China slaps Aussie wine makers with more tariffs

RELATED: World reacts to Australian-China drama as wine war rages

RELATED: Beijing’s bitter wine backlash will have ‘major impact’

Mr Birmingham warned this week the world is watching as China bans more Aussie products.

“Australia is not the only country that has seen these types of punitive measures and I expect the rest of the world will be watching quite closely what is happening in Australia,” he said.

Overnight the European Council on Foreign Relations said China’s recent actions against Australia “show how far it is already willing to go on economic coercion”.

Yesterday, China – which is Australia’s number one trading partner – slapped Australian wine makers with even more tariffs than the original 107-212 per cent rise it hit producers with last month.

China’s Commerce Ministry said it would impose temporary anti-subsidy tariffs on imported Australian wines of an added 6.3 per cent to 6.4 per cent, concluding “Australian subsidies have caused substantial damage to China’s domestic wine industry”.

The Global Times piece claims the move is “not linked to the deteriorating bilateral ties” but Australia has been singled out with a series of complicated and bitter trade disputes erupting in recent months.

In August, China launched an “anti-dumping investigation” into Australian wine exports, which accused Australia of flooding China with cheap wine at cost or below cost prices in an effort to skew the market in Australia’s favour.

Australia vehemently rejects the claims, with Mr Birmingham telling the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas that Beijing doesn’t have the evidence to support the claims and that “we appreciate there’s a bigger picture and issue here”.

“The idea that Australian winemakers dump their product in China, as was originally claimed by China, or that they are subsidised by government to some extent to export to China, is just false,” he said.

“The evidence is very clear in the Australian wine industry’s favour, and we will continue to defend the wine industry by using the domestic processes available in China and, ultimately, considering the appeal rights of the independent umpire through the World Trade Organisation.”

Almost 40 per cent of Australian wine is exported to China in a $1.25 billion industry. Australia ships more bottles to the country than other wine producing regions such as France, Italy and the US.

“These tariffs are a likely blow to Australian wine makers exporting to China, locking out price sensitive consumers,” The Global Times piece states.

A flabbergasted Mr Birmingham described China’s recent actions as “obviously another step in what has been a disappointing, a frustrating and a deeply concerning pattern of decisions by China over quite some period of time”.

“We have called out those behaviours and that pattern of behaviour. We’ve done so publicly. We’ve done so directly with China. We are continuing to do so through the WTO, and we will keep standing up for Australian industry.

“Any idea that our wine is dumped in the Chinese market doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Australian wine is the second highest price point in the Chinese market.

“And for Australia, it’s basically our highest-priced market, and so our producers are sending their premium product at premium prices into that market, and they’re doing so free of any government subsidy.

“Winemakers are more likely to complain about how much tax they pay than how much subsidy they get.”

Industry group Australian Grape and Wine have previously said they were “deeply disappointed” by China but the latest round of tariffs are likely to have little impact.

“It’s unlikely they’ll have any practical implication given the current tariffs are so high,” CEO Tony Battaglene told the ABC.

China’s investigation is expected to be completed by August 18, 2021, under normal circumstances, but could be prolonged until February 18, 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic, a Chinese ministry statement said.

Mr Birmingham agreed there were “clearly impacts” on Australian wine producers and that “we recognise that some are now under stress and pressure as a result of the decisions China has taken”.

Already this year China has slapped tariffs on Australian barley and suspended some beef exports in what is a significant blow since almost 30 per cent of Australia’s total agricultural exports go to China.

Lamb joins a long list of Australian products sanctioned by China that also includes timber. A sixth Australian beef exporter was hit with a ban on Monday.

Australian wheat and cotton farmers have been put on notice they are next in China’s firing line in a move that could further strain tensions between the two countries.

“Our wine industry knows there’s something to see here. Our live seafood industry knows that there is. Our timber industry knows that there is. Our fresh meat industry knows that there is. Our barley and grain sector knows that there is,” Mr Birmingham said.

“The sectors that have seen the obvious, continuous accumulation of impacts throughout the course of this year, and, indeed, in the case of the barley processors that started a couple of years ago, clearly can see a pattern of behaviour, and that pattern of behaviour is inconsistent with both the intent and the spirit of the commitments China has made more broadly to the World Trade Organisation.”





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Business

Why the Aussie dollar is booming amid a trade spat with China


More than half of Australia’s total exports to China consist of just one product: iron ore. That trade has been on a tear over the past year, with Beijing employing its usual strategy of industrial stimulus to grow its way out of a coronavirus-induced downturn. Brazil, the second-biggest exporter after Australia, has been hit hard by the pandemic, and thus hasn’t been able to increase shipments enough to keep up with demand. Prices for iron ore are at around seven-year highs.

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There’s little to suggest this trade will recede over the coming months. While the median analyst forecast has Singapore-traded ore averaging $US92 a tonne in 2021, compared with $US102 this year, forward pricing implies a figure of $US116.64.

The pace of revenue growth in China’s steel-intensive engineering and construction sector isn’t set to peak until the first half of next year, according to Fitch Ratings. Even after that, expansion will continue. Shares in Australian iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals rose more than 13 per cent on Thursday after Brazil’s Vale put out downbeat production targets for this year and next.

Coal, the second-biggest export, is a dicier proposition. President Xi Jinping has promised to move China to net zero emissions by 2060. As we’ve written, it wouldn’t take much for China to be entirely self-sufficient in soot, a proposition that’s out of the question in the case of iron ore. Coal is also on the list of products subject to Beijing’s unofficial import ban.

Still, even there the prospects are surprisingly rosy. Australian thermal and coking coal is far cheaper than its Chinese-produced equivalent, a fact that’s been exacerbated by the current embargo as supply dwindles and mainland prices rise. Utilities, especially in coastal provinces with good port access, prefer imported product. Those pleas will only get louder as Beijing pushes forward with deregulating its power market, shrinking revenue for coal-fired generators and encouraging them to reduce their costs by seeking out cheaper fuel. vaccinations open up borders again.

Australia’s third-biggest export to China is education, which has been hard-hit by the pandemic. Some 166,206 Chinese students are enrolled at Australian universities, but more than half that number are currently stuck outside the country, according to an October study. The population of Chinese students living in Australia fell by about 25,000 between March and October. A substantial slice of education “exports” consists of money spent on rent and shopping. As the receding outbreak causes in-country student numbers to rise again – and the first such flight touched down in Darwin this week – export revenue will increase too.

As construction continues to boom, China's reliance on Australia's iron ore is unlikely to recede anytime soon.

As construction continues to boom, China’s reliance on Australia’s iron ore is unlikely to recede anytime soon. Credit:Bloomberg

For all the bad blood between Australia and China these days, those links may prove surprisingly resilient. Students are more or less bound to return when they’ve paid for multiyear courses. Tourists, too, seem to let bygones be bygones far more readily than politicians. A war of words over South Korea’s deployment of a US anti-missile shield caused Chinese tourist visits to drop by nearly 50 per cent from a year earlier in 2017. The following year, however, numbers grew 15 per cent, and then 26 per cent again the year after that.

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Why trade wars are dumb and we don’t need one with China


Why? Well, first, doing so would be illegal under international rules. We’d have to come up with some bogus excuse under the rules permitting “countervailing duties” – the same bogus excuses that Beijing is using against us.

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Second, such duties would likely only escalate tensions, leading to more retaliation. Recent Sino-American trade history reveals just how quickly that mutual impulse towards self-immolation can escalate.

Third, tariffs on imported Chinese products would simply mean Aussie shoppers would pay more for a host of consumer products, leading to a cost-of-living squeeze when we can least afford it.

And fourth, because it’s one of the fundamental revelations of economics that freer trade underpins greater economic prosperity for nations – and that those gains are available to countries which keep tariffs low regardless of what other countries do.

How could we benefit from keeping tariffs low if other countries aren’t doing the same? Because tariffs give domestic producers an artificial leg up. Great, some might say. Let’s help our own. But history shows – including the recent history of Australia’s car-manufacturing industry – that propping up domestic industries doesn’t really help them or their workers. Ultimately, workers are kept in jobs with no real long-term prospects – at least not without costly taxpayer support – and domestic consumers pay higher prices for the imported cars they clearly prefer.

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Rather than sheltering unviable industries behind high tariff walls, workers and capital tied up in those industries are better off redeployed to industries where we do have a “comparative advantage” over the rest of the world – that is, where we can produce products better than other countries.

Dismantling tariffs is an economic reform program with solid bipartisan support in Australia, having been initiated by the Whitlam government and later extended by the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments.

Importantly, we didn’t wait for other countries to cut their tariffs before we moved. Why? Well, partly because in the 1970s we were fighting a desperate war against inflation and anything to bring down prices was good.

But as the 1980s reform era rolled on, the advice of economists finally took root, that dismantling tariff walls would create more competitive tension in our economy and encourage resources to flow to what we do better.

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As a nation, we took a punt that we’d rather run the risk of interrupted supply than continually protect industries that weren’t truly competitive and pay higher prices as a result. We’ve enjoyed higher productivity and wages as a direct result.

COVID-19 has led many to question this rejection of domestic self-reliance, but the gains to ordinary Australians from cheaper imports over the past decades are undeniable.

A desire to protect domestic industries is likely a driving force behind Beijing’s recent actions. And if so, the Chinese Communist Party and China’s citizens will have to find out the long and hard way about the economic toll of propping up unviable industries. In contrast, it is critical Australia remains a proud advocate of free trade and the unparalleled opportunities for mutually beneficial exchange and prosperity it offers.

It’s time for our leaders to double down on advocacy for a return to a truly multilateral, rules-based global free trading system – something the incoming US president, Joe Biden, has also vowed to promote.

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In the meantime, Australian producers will need government support to help find alternative markets in which to promote their exports now being heavily penalised by China. Because the short-term shock to Australian jobs and incomes of China’s actions are very real. This was always the hidden risk in the collective decision by Australian businesses to exploit the opportunities presented by the fastest growing nation in our region.

Helping exporters to diversify into other markets is a much better course of policy action than engaging in a damaging trade tit-for-tat with China.

That’s particularly so now that China, once the world’s fastest growing economy, appears hellbent on a path of economic self-harm. If it continues, it certainly won’t be growing fast for much longer.

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Just like Trump’s tariffs, China’s trade attack will backfire


Trump’s tariffs, particularly those he placed on China’s exports to the US during last year’s American-instigated trade war, were initially misconceived – they were the product of Trump’s lack of understanding of international trade and the significance, or otherwise, of trade balances – and then morphed into a broader and more complex attempt to damage China’s ability to challenge America’s economic, technological and geopolitical leadership.

China’s actions are punishment for Australia’s outspokenness and an attempt to intimidate the Morrison government and prevent it from airing its opinions and inciting a broader western consensus and alliance that could have a material impact on the issues whose visibility Australia has raised.

Like Trump’s tariffs and assaults on the multi-lateral organisations that America had played a pivotal role in creating, which alarmed America’s traditional allies, China’s attempt to intimidate Australia is likely to be counter-productive and force other western nations to consider what China’s new belligerence might mean for them.

Just like Trump’s tariffs, there is also a cost to China’s companies and consumers from its actions.

The Trump trade war might have damaged China, although it largely redirected the exports affected by the tariffs, but it was paid for by US companies and consumers in the form of higher prices. Similar outcomes could be expected from China’s bans on Australian products.

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Australia, apart from its proximity, has become one of China’s major trading partners because it is reliable, its products are high-quality and its prices are competitive.

Take coking coal. Australia – mainly BHP – supplies roughly half the metallurgical coal China’s steel mills import. While China has a massive domestic coal industry, its steel mills need the premium coal Australia produces.

Higher quality raw materials make the mills more productive, lower energy costs, produce less environmentally-damaging emissions and help contribute to higher quality end-products.

Since China first canvassed the ban on Australian coal, about 7 million tonnes – an estimated $US700 million ($950 million) worth of coal – has been left stranded, awaiting unloading, in Chinese ports. The ex-Australia coking coal price has slumped to about $US100 a tonne, its lowest levels for four years and nearly 30 per cent lower than the price two months ago.

BHP is the biggest Australian exporter of coal to China.

BHP is the biggest Australian exporter of coal to China. Credit:Peter Braig

That would suggest the “ban” – China says the curbs on imports of Australian coal are because many Australian producers have failed to meet environmental standards – is working to hurt Australia.

Chinese domestic coal prices, however, have risen sharply – they’re now about twice the price of imported coal – and the prices of the US and Canadian coking coal that is being substituted for the Australian product have also spiked.

So, Chinese steel mills are paying a lot more for lesser quality coals that reduce the productivity of their operations, produce more environmentally harmful emissions and lead to lesser quality products.

The market for coking coal is far more diversified than for, say, iron ore where China takes up to 80 per cent of Australia’s production. Japan, South Korea, India and even Europe are existing customers. India, in particular, is experiencing something of a steelmaking boom and has been buying more Australian coal.

Thus, to punish Australia China is damaging its own steel’s competitiveness by providing its competitors with access to more high quality but lower-priced raw materials that self-evidently meet the Japanese, Korean and Indian environmental standards.

The massive tariffs on Australian wine for supposed dumping – selling products below the cost of producing them – is as absurd, although the cost of that action will be borne via reduced choice for Chinese consumers.

Australia is the biggest exporter of wine to China and Treasury Wine Estates is the heavyweight among those exporters. The 169.3 per cent tariff on its wines will effectively price them out of the market.

Maybe the targeting of Australian wine and coal is as much a protection racket as it is punishment for Australian politicians offending Chinese sensitivities.

If Treasury is dumping wine in China, however, it’s not at all obvious in its financials. The Treasury EBITS (earnings before interest, tax and the accounting treatment for its wine inventories) margin in Asia, where China generates more than two-thirds of the division’s earnings, is a touch under 40 per cent.

That compares with a margin of 22.5 per cent in Australia, 13.8 per cent in the US and 14 per cent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and looks more like profiteering than dumping.

China is trying to revive its domestic wine industry, where production has more than halved in the past three years. There’s also been a spate of defaults on corporate bond issues by Chinese state-owned coal producers.

Maybe the targeting of Australian wine and coal is as much a protection racket as it is punishment for Australian politicians offending Chinese sensitivities. In any event, while it will harm Australian producers, there’ll be some self-inflicted harm, too. Just like Trump’s tariffs.

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Adam Treloar trade raises questions over Collingwood’s approach to his family issues, says employment lawyer


An employment lawyer says Collingwood’s concerns that Adam Treloar’s family circumstances might have impacted his ability to play football are unfair and potentially discriminatory.

Treloar was one of four Magpies players forced to find new clubs on a frenetic final day of the AFL’s trade period last week, as Collingwood tried to release pressure on its salary cap.

Despite having five years remaining on his contract, there had been intense speculation about the future of Treloar after his partner Kim Ravaillion announced she was moving to Queensland with their infant daughter to continue her Super Netball career.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told SEN radio on Monday Treloar’s family situation was “a catalyst in some shape or form” for the club’s decision to considering trading the midfielder to another club.

Buckley said there was no way Treloar’s split from Collingwood could have been done “without trauma or pain”.

Giri Sivaraman, an employment lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said Collingwood’s approach was not fair to Treloar.

“I’m very surprised,” he told the ABC.

“Effectively what he seems to be saying is: ‘We can’t keep you here because you might at some point have to support your wife, and or your child and we can’t accommodate that.’

“Firstly, I wonder if that’s discrimination on the basis of carer responsibilities, and secondly, I think it’s just asking too much of someone, and whether it’s discriminatory or not, it certainly seems unfair.”

Mr Sivaraman said every employer had an obligation to accommodate carer responsibilities and Collingwood’s approach would not be appropriate in any other workplace.

“There’s not even been an attempt to accommodate it here,” he said.

“They’ve just made the assumption that because his partner is moving interstate — just for the netball season I assume — that that’s just something they can’t accommodate.

“It’s like saying to someone who’s pregnant: ‘Well, even though you’ve said to me when you come back to work that you’ll be able to manage your job and care responsibilities, I just think you won’t be able to, therefore I’m not going to have a job for you when you come back.’

“Many women I’ve represented have been in that position and I’ve always said it’s unlawful.”

The Collingwood AFL coach walks alongside one of the Magpies players before a match in Perth.
Nathan Buckley (left) signed off on Adam Treloar’s departure from the Magpies last week.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Buckley said it was Collingwood’s responsibility to work out how his partner and child’s relocation would affect his job.

“We are within our rights to have an assessment of that given our knowledge of Adam and the experiences we’ve shared since he came to the club,” Buckley said, alluding to Treloar’s history of anxiety.

Mr Sivaraman said under workplace law employers also had an obligation to attempt to accommodate an employees’ mental or physical impairments.

“[Collingwood] has taken a different approach and decided, well it’s just not going to work and we don’t want what they perceive as a liability,” he said.

“I just think that’s disappointing.”

Mr Sivaraman said the management of Treloar and his family exemplifies how AFL clubs demand a player’s “mind, body and soul”, and was not in the spirit of the direction of workplaces in 2020.

“What this year has shown us is that things that weren’t thought possible certainly are,” he said.

“The number of flexible work arrangements has stratospherically increased.”

Pies players treated ‘too good’: McGuire

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire rejected criticism the club had mistreated players it had traded.

“If there’s a criticism of what Collingwood did with its players in recent times it’s that they’ve looked after players too good as far as the salary cap was concerned,” McGuire told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast radio program.

“And the players have been sensational back-ending their contracts to make it happen because there was a window of opportunity [for a flag].”

McGuire suggested the fallout over the Magpies’ trading period was a media beat-up.

“It’s a big story because the other stories have been done to death for 10 days and Collingwood didn’t do a whole lot on (AFL) Trade Radio and things like that,” he said.

“The media always like to come after people who aren’t racing to be on those types of things.

“Nuance is everything. We could’ve gone on with the salary cap, so it wasn’t as if it was a fire sale. We changed, we pivoted and we’re looking ahead.”



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Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says Adam Treloar’s family situation was ‘catalyst’ for AFL trade move


Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says the Magpies were concerned about Adam Treloar’s family situation and it was a “catalyst” for the AFL midfielder’s departure from the club.

Treloar joined the Western Bulldogs last Thursday night as one of four players offloaded by the Magpies to other clubs on the final day of the AFL’s trade period.

The Magpies floated Treloar as a trade option during the last off-season before he re-signed with the club until 2025.

The 27-year-old’s partner, Kim Ravaillion, is about to leave Melbourne with their infant daughter and play Super Netball with the Queensland Firebirds next year.

Treloar wanted to remain at the Magpies, where he played 94 matches after arriving in 2016 from Greater Western Sydney.

Buckley said Collingwood officials wondered how being in a long-distance relationship would affect Treloar’s wellbeing.

“There’s no doubt that was a catalyst in some shape or form,” Buckley told SEN radio.

Buckley said the Magpies had conversations with Treloar about his family situation.

“The possibility that he might have been considering going to Queensland and being with his family was part of the reasoning around having the initial discussion 12 months ago, and then again this year,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, it’s not our jobs to live Adam’s life. Adam and Kim and their family are entitled to live their lives as they see fit.

“But it is our responsibility to work out on a professional level how that might affect Adam’s ability to do his job, which is to play football and contribute to the club.

The Collingwood AFL coach walks alongside one of the Magpies players before a match in Perth.
Nathan Buckley (left) described Treloar’s exit from the Magpies as “brutal”.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Buckley said there was no way Treloar’s split from Collingwood could have been done “without trauma or pain”.

“I am old enough and mature enough to understand in high-pressure situations, in situations that involve the heart, that unpredicted outcomes can occur,” Buckley said.

“This is brutal. This was always going to be a shock and always going to cause distress.”

Treloar, speaking on Friday, said Buckley told him senior Magpies players no longer wanted him at the club.

“To be told there are some players who don’t want you there when I know that the majority of players love and care for me,” he said.

“They were adamant on moving me on so no matter how they were going to go about it, it was going to happen.

“It was a fight up until the end because that’s where I wanted to be, at Collingwood.

“I guess anything was going to be said to move me on.”

The Magpies also arranged trades for Jaidyn Stephenson, Atu Bosenavulagi (both North Melbourne) and Tom Phillips (Hawthorn) last Thursday.

AAP



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