With New Year’s Eve festivities done and dusted, another year of uncertainty has dawned with a mix of good cheer and hangovers from 2023 of extreme weather, cost-of-living woes, unaffordable housing and sovereignty conflicts.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at least says he is “hopeful and optimistic” about Australia’s economic conditions in 2024.
He points to falling inflation, jobs growth and wages increasing, and has flagged further cost-of-living relief measures for lower and middle-income earners in the new year.
Others have got their crystal balls out to make predictions on the nation’s fortunes in 2024. Here are a few:
* The Reserve Bank will lower the cash rate by 0.75 percentage points in the second half of 2024, as inflation returns to its two-three per cent target range earlier than the RBA has forecast, Commonwealth Bank’s chief economist Stephen Halmarick says.
* He also forecasts home prices to rise by five per cent in 2024, following a 9.6 per cent growth spurt since troughing in February 2023.
* Political analyst Malcolm Mackerras predicts Labor will hold on to the Victorian seat of Dunkley in a federal by-election resulting from the death of Peta Murphy.
* He dismisses speculation of a federal election in 2024.
* He predicts Labor will hold on to power in both territory elections, but the party will lose office in Queensland under new Premier Steven Miles in October.
* The Bureau of Meteorology’s long-range forecast (to March) includes unusually high temperatures for much of Australia and below median rainfall across much of the north and west.
* For January above median rainfall is forecast from southern Queensland to eastern and central NSW, and into western Victoria.
* University of NSW’s Professor James Wood and other academics, writing in The Conversation, expects the latest Omicron wave to be over early in the summer holiday period.
* Then they say it’s “plausible” for Australia to follow the northern hemisphere in settling into an approximate seasonal pattern of COVID infections.
* Nielsen’s Gracenote data business is relying on Australia’s swimmers to lift the nation to its best Olympic performance in 20 years with 50 medals overall – sixth behind the United States, China, Great Britain, Japan and host nation France.
* Australia is predicted to pick up 15 gold medals to rank seventh on that score, with the Netherlands pipping it by one gold.
(Australian Associated Press)