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Tuesday, 16 February


Twitter owned Liberal MP Dennis Jensen over climate change stance North Coast Voices

This tweet exchange made me smile:

To be fair the Liberal Member for Tangney (WA), Dennis Geoffrey Jensen, left university with a credible BAppSc (RMIT) MSc (Melb) PhD (Monash) which qualified him in the field of biology/biotechnology, physics and material science and he did work as a research scientist for the CSIRO between 1995 to 1999.

He was on the Advisory Board of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Anti Matter/Matter Research however his register of members’ interests declarations do not make clear exactly when he began and when he vacated this non-paying position.

However, as he was employed as an air traffic controller for around three years before he managed to find science-related employment,...


Next problem for Australian Prime Minister Turnbull - his pick as Treasurer North Coast Voices

There is such a lack of talent on the government benches in Canberra that Malcolm Turnbull would have had few ministers to choose from, even if he didn’t owe Scott Morrison the treasury portfolio as exchange for his ‘support’ in the leadership challenge which saw Turnbull gain the prime ministership.

Even after three changes of portfolio, Morrison continues implementing his far-right Christian ideology which delights in screwing over the poor and vulnerable while rewarding god’s chosen - the rich.

As this report in The Sydney Morning Herald on 12 February 2016 indicates:

The most shocking thing in the Treasury analysis delivered to Scott Morrison on January 25 isn't the finding that a cut in income tax funded by a lift in the goods and services tax wouldn't boost the economy at all.

It's what Morrison asked the Treasury to model.

He asked it to model a lift in GST from 10 to 15 per cent and then ...

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Monday, 15 February


Guest Post: Ragu – Does Trump have a point? Catallaxy Files

While never having said it, Trump is implying a good point.

Where does your allegiance lay?

The illegal alien that cuts your lawn, or the American neighbour on food stamps?



Indigenous Australia and an Australian Republic: Moving in the same direction Independent Australia

Indigenous Australia and an Australian Republic: Moving in the same directionMeaningful self-determination for First Australians is not even a remote possibility while the nation remains a constitutional monarchy, writes Indigenous affairs editor Natalie Cromb. read now...


The Scalia replacement and the march of socialism Catallaxy Files

These are difficult times to reconcile liberty, property rights and small government with the way that democracy, as it has developed, is trespassing on these the foundations of freedom and prosperity.

That so many people have a view on whether it should be Obama or his successor who determines the replacement of Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court reveals how we have become accepting of the politicised nature of the judiciary.  Scalia’s death follows the Court’s narrow 5-4 stay in allowing the President to regulate the closure of coal fired power station.  Scalia was in the minority in the notorious Kelo case where so-called precedents were found to justify almost any government taking of individual property without compensation under the notion of eminent domain.  He was campaigning to have the judgement reversed (many US states have actually re-enacted eminent domain restraints).  Australian courts have long acquiesced in legitimising such theft.

A new Supreme Court appointment of Obama’s choosing would switch the balance in favour of legal activism.  To libertarians/conservatives it would strip a vital check on the President exercise of executive power; to socialists/liberals it would allow the executive the legitimate use of powers invested in the President by the voters.

Perhaps Supreme Court appointments have always had an air of political acceptability to the President who makes the recommendations.  But since the Ted Kennedy/Joe Biden led furour over Reagan’s proposal to appoint Robert Bork in 1987 the Supreme Court is a recognised political institution.  Generally, like many such courts all the justices back their favoured positions.  The liberals do so by inventing precedents and placing themselves as modern men and women in the shoes of those who developed the laws they now seek to modify.

While the judiciary is one highly porous dam holding back executive imperialism, it has never had much of an ability to prevent big gove...


Do only the rich benefit from negative gearing? Catallaxy Files

No – negative gearing benefits mostly those individuals on low and middle incomes (as we have shown here and here).

The AFR, however, is reporting some speculative analysis based on RBA data that suggests that negative gearing mostly benefits “the rich”. The basic logic goes as follows:

One of the RBA’s key criticisms of the property industry analysis is that the tax statistics are skewed because they only cover taxable income and leave out the huge non-taxable income from superannuation.

True – analysis based on ATO data do tend to focus on taxable income. It doesn’t have to; the ATO also report total income in addition to taxable income.

This morning, rather than slice and dice the usual graphs using taxable income, I sliced and diced the (negative gearing) data using total income.

Negative gearing total income 1

The blue line is the total income distribution of taxpayers (strictly speaking people who file a tax return). 80% of taxpayers (people filing a tax return) have a total income of about $80,000 or less. The red line shows the total income distribution of net taxpayers – 80% of actual taxpayers – people who file a tax return and pay net tax – have a total income of between $90,000 and $100,000. The green line shows the total income distribution of people claiming a rent – interest d...


The Swan Effect Catallaxy Files

One of the major contributions of the former Treasurer, the Hon. Wayne Swan, was to redefine tax increases as savings.  In this light, as reported in the Australian, political reporter Sarah Martin demonstrates how this virus has infected Australia.

Malcolm Turnbull says Labor’s negative gearing policy does not go far enough to achieve budget savings, but insists the government will not be rushed into making “instantaneous judgments” on its own plans.

Revenue increases, whether by tax increases or reduced tax payments, are NOT savings.  Please repeat after me.  Revenue increases are NOT savings.  They are revenue increases.  Expenditure reductions are savings.

Worse than calling revenue increases savings, however, are the words of our beloved Prime Minister, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull:

“As far as Labor’s announcement is concerned, I will make a couple of observations: one is that it raises relatively little money in the near term, over the next four years, and they acknowledge that. So it doesn’t address the big deficit problem we have at the moment, which I might add the Labor Party created”.

So basically, the Prime Minister says that Labor’s policy does not increase taxes enough.

Who would have thought that a Liberal Prime Minister would be engaged in a race with the Labor party to see who can increase taxes more.

Welcome to Australia.  The land of the taxed and the home of the free rider.


The Reserve Bank's OIA charges No Right Turn

Back in December, the Reserve Bank imposed a new policy of charging for OIA requests. So where did it come from? Someone used FYI, the public OIA request system, to ask. And the response is illuminating.

Firstly, there's a discussion note for the bank's Senior Management Group advocating charges. There are a couple of notable features. Firstly, the decision to impose charges is explicitly framed as a response to "greater public interest, because the Bank has been more active in the regulatory and policy space". Its also an explicit response to certain (and named) regular requesters, who for some reason the bank does not want to answer. Its also rooted in the bank's right-wing economics: the idea that if something is free, people will use it. The idea that a public agency might want public scrutiny or that it might be a core part of the bank's accountability to the public is not considered. Neither, of course, is the democratic cost of imposing charges.

Buried in there there's also some disturbing definitions. The bank's cutoff for when it will refuse a request for "substantial collation and research" is a mere three hours, while their definition of a "high volume requester" is someone who makes two requests a month for two months. Combined, these basically rule out any use of the OIA for serious research or investigation of the bank's policies, whether by academics, investigative journalists, or the public. And while MPs won't be charged, their requests will still be refused if they take more than that three hour limit. The net result: less scrut...


AFP front Senate Estimates over endless Ashbygate investigation Independent Australia

AFP front Senate Estimates over endless Ashbygate investigationThe AFP faced Senate Estimates last week to talk about the investigation into Mal Brough and others. It got weird. read now...


Jacqui’s reaction to new Turnbull Cabinet Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST

Jacqui and Hugh at the Military TattooJLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has welcomed the new Turnbull Cabinet after attending the Scottish Military Tattoo in Melbourne over the weekend with JLN Senate Candidate Hugh Dolan.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen as a Minister of the Crown. I welcome all the new ministers to the Turnbull Ministry, including sole Tasmanian, Senator Richard Colbeck,” Senator Lambie said.

“As Minister for Tourism and International Education and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, Senator Colbeck will be working very hard and spending a lot of time away from his family.

“I wish him and all the Liberal members the best and look forward to co-operating on fair and sensible policies. I hope for all Australian women’s sake that the new cabinet drops the Liberal’s proposed $650 million cuts to Medicare” Senator Lambie said.

“That’s not a fair or sensible policy – it will ultimately mean Australian women will die unnecessarily from preventable cancers and more pressure will be placed on our public primary health care system.

“It’s certainly not fair when Mr Turnbull has recently launched a program to resettle Syrian refugees that costs $650 million,” Senator Lambie said.

The post Jacqui’s reaction to new Turnbull Cabinet appeared first on Senator Jacqui Lambie - PUTTING TASMANIA FIRST.


Stop blaming the Senate Catallaxy Files

We hear a lot about the Senate obstructing government initiatives – especially we hear that the Senate is stymieing efforts to balance the budget through spending cuts.

The budget papers, however, do not support that argument.

In the table I have reproduced spending figures for Wayne Swan’s last budget and spending figures from the latest MYEFO. You’ll notice little difference, in fact slight increases.

Stop blaming the Senate


A miracle: I agree with Michael West about something Catallaxy Files

Here’s the piece:

Glamorous ad campaigns and glitzy sponsorships were once the domain of the retail super funds, the big-fee, bank-owned money managers. On the other side of the tracks, their modest rivals from the industry super sector eschewed the limelight.

They plugged away for members, their costs were lower and their returns, year after year, were therefore superior to their showy retail counterparts.

They still are. Though things are changing. Those who tuned in to the Australian Open tennis over the summer could hardly have missed the deluge of advertising by AustralianSuper, now the country’s biggest superannuation fund with a gargantuan $95 billion in assets under management. Its umbrella group, Industry Super, even rolled out tennis star Lleyton Hewitt as an ambassador for its retirement campaign.

There is an unwitting irony in this Lleyton sponsorship. Unlike the typical Industry Super battler, Lleyton Hewitt is based in the Bahamas. Whether he is receiving the 9.5 per cent super guarantee on his endorsement deal with Industry Super is therefore unclear.

In any case, AustralianSuper over the years has represented its members well. It has also gone on an unprecedented acquisition binge however, and the question needs to be asked; how is this serving the interests of members? Is it vanity? Is it a costly and unnecessary exercise in empire-building?

Unlike retail funds, imbued with an explicit profit motive, the primary duty of industry super is to represent the interests of members. The AusSuper narrative is essentially, then, if we grow we can deliver economies of scale to our membership. Ergo, costs will come down per member.

Indeed chief executive Ian Silk talked a lot about scale in a series of “exclusive” news...


Just wrong No Right Turn

We're throwing people out of New Zealand because their kids are autistic:

An award-winning Auckland University mathematics professor will leave the country after his residency application was rejected because of his stepson's autism.

Professor Dimitri Leemans moved to New Zealand from Belgium in August 2011 with his wife, Francoise Duperoux, their 5-year-old daughter, Margaux, and his stepson, 13-year-old Peter Gourle, after winning a job at Auckland University.


Leemans and his family applied for residency in March 2014. But in September last year, INZ said in a letter: "We have declined your application for residence because Peter does not meet the health requirements to be granted residence in New Zealand and is not eligible for a medical waiver."

Its explicitly discriminatory on the basis of health - a prohibited ground of discrimination - but immigration decisions are specifically excluded from the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Act. Meaning Immigration can be racist, bigoted, and (as in this case) discriminate against the disabled with impunity.

Leemans has decided not to appeal the decision, because who would? We've made it clear that he's not welcome, that we see his son as less than human, a burden to be excluded rather than as a potential New Zealander. Its a clear loss to New Zealand. But more than that: it is simply, flat-out wrong. And the message it sends to non-neurotypical New Zealanders is that they don't really belong here either.


Inequality is holding us back No Right Turn

One of the right's arguments for accepting inequality is that it is necessary for economic growth that only the rich benefit from it. But the OECD has found the opposite: inequality holds us back. And thanks to Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson, New Zealand has been the worst-affected country in the OECD:

New Zealand: New Zealand's economy could have grown by 44 percent between 1990 and 2010, but the country did only achieve 28 percent growth due to inequality. Hence, it lost 15.5 percentage points -- more than any other country. This is particularly surprising, given that New Zealand was once considered a paradise of equality, as Max Rashbrooke, the author of a book called Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, pointed out in the Guardian newspaper.

"New Zealand halved its top tax rate, cut benefits by up to a quarter of their value, and dramatically reduced the bargaining power – and therefore the share of national income – of ordinary workers. Thousands of people lost their jobs as manufacturing work went overseas, and there was no significant response with increased trade training or skills programs, a policy failure that is ongoing," Rashbrooke writes in the op-ed. He also blames New Zealand for a lack of affordable homes which led to higher rents and unpaid mortgages.

Compared to the "gains" from the TPPA - a 0.7% increase in GDP over 15 years - these losses are enormous. And they certainly show what our real problem is: not a lack of free trade, but an e...


Antonin Scalia: The damage done Independent Australia

Antonin Scalia: The damage doneBob Ellis laments the damage wrought by newly deceased U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. read now...


In which tha pond gets down wit tha truckies n' Freedom Boy n' tha gangstas n' Bolter n' reptilez ... loon pond

(Above: and fresher, if not more better, or ABC truly unique, Wilcox here).

It's a lazy, soggy, humid Monday for the pond in Sydney town, with the tang of rum and lashes in the air, and as the polls roll along, what better way to waste the morning than to go into wonder mode...

What, for example, did the good citizens of Goldstein do to incur god's wrath?

She really has sent them a kind of cosmic punishment - and ppl need 2 know why She has sent Freedom Boi to fight 4 them!!

But whoz ass will drop a rhyme fo' Gangsta n' Shakspier? (Gizoogle it here dudes).

And then there was international news of a remarkable kind: Alex Jones: 'My Gut Tells Me' Antonin Scalia Was Murdered.



Corruption on Turnbull’s watch widens and deepens Independent Australia

Corruption on Turnbull’s watch widens and deepensIf December and January were bad for corruption in Australia, February has been appalling. Alan Austin reports in what started as a monthly IA series but now looks like becoming fortnightly. read now...


What has happened in Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's first 154 days as Australia's Prime Minister? North Coast Voices

On 14 September 2015 Liberal MP for Wentworth and former Communications Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull became the 29th Prime Minister of Australia, after defeating then sitting prime minister Tony Abbott in a party room poll by 55 to 44 votes.

By 21 September Turnbull had announced his new "21st Century" ministry, removing Joe Hockey, Eric Abetz, Ian Macfarlane, Kevin Andrews and Bruce Billson from the ministry in the process.

Just 154 days later and we find that his handpicked…….

Minister for Defence Materiel and Science & Special Minister of State Mal Brough had to first stand aside in December 2015, due to an Australian Federal Police investigation into allegations that...


Negative gearing plan an exercise in Cirque du Soleil economics Catallaxy Files

Today in The Australian

Even for a political party with a pronounced death wish, it seems reckless to propose a clampdown on negative gearing just as an NAB survey shows the housing market slowing and the share of established properties sold to local investors dropping to record lows.


Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker dumped as Minister for Vocational Education and Skills North Coast Voices

Luke Hartsuyker (left) at the beginning of his brief 4.5 month stint as a full minister

Lost his bid to become Deputy-Leader of the Nationals to Fiona Nash and now swiftly given the boot from the front bench by his own prime minister – Luke Hartsuyker must either have fought an unforgivably bloody leadership battle behind the scenes, been a spectacularly underperforming Minister for Vocational Education and Ski...

Sunday, 14 February


Tax Reform – When did the definition of reform change to mean increase? Catallaxy Files

Today, the ALP announced a policy to significantly limit access to negative gearing tax deductibility to new dwellings.  It seems this policy proposal is not about increasing tax revenues, but about housing policy – to address housing affordability.

Not satisfied, it sounds as though the Liberal National Government is looking at capping the amount of negative gearing losses that can be deducted.

Allowing people to tax deduct negative gearing losses is the other side of the coin of taxing positive gearing income.

Given these policies seem not to about revenue raising but about housing policy, perhaps this would mean that the ALP policy would stop taxing income from positively geared existing dwellings and the LNP policy would cap the amount of income from positively geared investments that can be taxed.

When will the government (or opposition) offer an expenditure reform package?  You know, like reducing the amount and the cost of administration.  What about re-engineering the delivery of health and education to get rid of all the waste there.

I am not holding my breath.

I really wonder if there are any of these examples in the Australian public service.

A Spanish civil servant who failed to turn up for work for “at least” six years has been caught after becoming eligible for a long service award.

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