Happy 2017, Good Riddance 2016

Well that didn’t take long – I made a New Year’s resolution to update the blog everyday and I managed to miss out the first one of the year. 2016 started well but spiralled down towards the end with two of my loved ones suffering serious illnesses. We can only hope that 2017 will bring us hope and relief from the illnesses at hand.

In the meantime we’ve got Trump’s presidency to look forward to – or not

How Time flies etcetera

Sunset at the Keep River National Park
Sunset at the Keep River National Park

We’ve been languishing in Broome since Tuesday, enjoying pleasant temperatures but its a bit windy. We joined a tour out to the Willies Creek Pearl farm yesterday for an informative look at the cultured pearl industry. We were given a well formed introduction to the methods of seeding oysters and the techniques of farming cultured pearls, after which we enjoyed a nice lunch in their cafe. Following lunch was a brief boat trip out into the lagoon to view the oyster racks on the long lines. We were also shown how the workers descale, debarnacle the oysters while aboard the shell cleaning boat doing 10 hour shifts. Good money but hard work. After that display it was back to the showroom in an attempt to sell us some pearls. Jenny succumbed and bought some cheap fresh water pearls from Asia. Today we went into the town centre to hit the shops. We met up with the Coopers for an iced coffee.

The view from our caravan park
The view from our caravan park

Melva is still struggling with her arthritis, her hands and wrists are extremely swollen and she appears to be in a great deal of pain. We suggested she increase her pain medication but it looks like they may just visit the pearl farm and then head off toward home. If she is really bad, I think Laurie will take her straight back down the Stuart Highway to home. It would be quicker that going down the coast. We have another tour tomorrow around the town and Jenny is doing the camel ride at Cable Beach (because that’s what you ave to do in Broome) tomorrow evening. We will depart Broome on Saturday and head out to Cape Leveque. How long we stay depends on how long it takes for us to get out there and what we find when we get there. A fellow traveller has suggested an alternative route to head down to Marble Bar so we may check that out after the weekend. The adventure continues.

We’re at Katherine

Just arrived at Katherine after spending two days at Mataranka. We made excellent time to Mataranka a full two days ahead of when we were travelling with our normal companions. Enjoyed the hot pool at Mataranka even though there were heaps of noisy school kids there because of the school holidays. Weather has warmed up now to a pleasant 30 degrees during the day and cool nights. Caught up with the Coopers yesterday and they are slowly travelling in front of us. They left yesterday but we anticipate that we may overtake them today. We’re heading to Gregory National Park to check that out and then onto Keep River National Park which will fill in the next two nights before we head into Western Australia.

The vehicle is going well, with only one minor alteration (my fault I meant to do it before we left but forgot). We cruised at 100 kph on the way up but decided we will drop back to around the 85 kph now we are in holiday mode.

Don’t know when we will have service again, until then keep well.

Oh Effie, I thought you understood

There she was the usual picture of beauty, Effie Stephanidis gracing the screens of the Today show. Effie (Mary Coustas) proclaimed (and I paraphrase) that penalty rates on Sundays should be paid to those important professions like ambos and the like but not to hospitality workers. Damn, I thought she was one herself! I’m sure that Effie didn’t really mean it – surely she is not saying the waiting staff are lesser people than paramedics. Or did she mean that highly paid paramedics need the money more than the struggling single mums and university students – no I can’t believe she would think that.

Perhaps she believes that by employing the low paid on Sundays will mean that because they now have to work longer hours to make up the difference in pay it will keep them off the streets and stop them wasting money on food and the like. Or perhaps it could be one of the main drivers in this debate – because the Productivity Commission (those unelected, unaccountable to the public, bureaucrats) says it must be so, and business both big and small like the idea of paying out less money on labour. That doesn’t make it right. We constantly hear how our society is now a seven day a week society but that is simply not true. Just because shops are allowed to open seven days a week does not mean we are a seven day a week society. If this was the case, then schools would open seven days a week. Office workers would be toiling seven days a week. Public Servants would be working seven days a week. If we truly live in a seven day a week society why are we paying fire fighters, police, paramedics and hospital staff penalty rates? By the very definition of a seven day a week society we would have to remove penalty rates for all workers not just the lowest paid because they are easy targets.

Make no mistake, this attack on penalty rates is about placing more money into the pockets of employers so that the well heeled in society can continue to have their coffee and cake on the weekend. In The Age this week one commentator suggested that if penalty rates weren’t reduced then businesses may have to put an extra levy on the Sunday menu in order to cover costs (I think he was trying to frighten us with the prospect of dearer coffee). Now that is equitable – you want to go out for coffee and cake on a Sunday then you pay the extra instead of expecting some low paid employee to take a pay cut so that you can enjoy your coffee at their expense. Oh Effie, I think the romance is over.


GST Increase to Fund Income Tax Cuts

The Turnbull Government has suggested that everything is on the table when it comes to tax reform. Turnbull himself has said that it would be possible to increase either the rate of GST or the spread of GST as long as the was compensation for the less fortunate. The thinking apparently being that income tax rates are unfair so the GST increase could be used to fund reductions in income tax. My question is why?

We are constantly being told that the government is facing a problem where expenditure is exceeding income. The future projections for expenditure on health and pensions appear to show that extreme pressure will be placed on the federal budget. So why would you collect more tax in the form of increased GST revenues but offset that by reductions in income tax. Don’t we need to have a net increase in the tax take? Or would it make more sense to limit the tax deductions that are available in various parts of the economy?

According to recent figures, removing the generous tax concessions for superannuation would save the same amount that is currently being expended on the aged pension. When you consider that these tax breaks are mainly used by the wealthy, there would be no need to pay compensation to the people in lower income brackets. The GST is a regressive tax, it penalises consumption but it is consumption that grows the economy. Income tax, on the other hand, increases with your capacity to pay. I must admit I am sick and tired of hearing commentators saying that the top end of town pay 49 cents in the dollar tax. That is patently incorrect – the top tax rate is only paid on the top end of the scale, i.e. when your weekly income exceeds $3461. I’m sorry, but I think if you are earning that much you can afford to pay the extra tax. In any case most don’t pay that rate as they minimise tax through superannuation arrangements and negative gearing arrangements for investment properties – both of which are of questionable benefit to Australia’s economy.

Penalising Penalty Rates

Here comes that old Liberal Party favourite – we need more flexibility in the labour market so reducing or removing penalty rates will fix the problem. Then we have the Labor Party’s automatic response – “Run for the hills. Work Choice!, Work Choice!”. So let’s have a little bit of a look at each argument.

  • Removing Penalty Rates will increase employment

Why? How? Let’s look at working on Sundays in the hospitality industry, the scenario that Malcolm Turnbull raised. Working on the premise that the cost of employing people  on Sunday is much more expensive (which, if you are paying penalty rates of double time or double time and a half, is irrefutable) then I would suggest that a competent business owner would be making the most efficient use of employees in periods of high wages cost. In other words, they will only use the minimum number of labour hours necessary which in turn means they are maximising labour productivity. By reducing penalty rates we may increase the productivity per DOLLAR but we do not increase productivity per HOUR worked. In fact if an employer paying less penalty rates increases employment by the same ratio as the penalty rate is reduced there is a decrease in productivity per HOUR worked and NO CHANGE per DOLLAR unless there is an increase in output. So the example of a service industry like hospitality, which does not produce outputs as such but instead services customers, has no increase in productivity unless more customers come into the business AS A RESULT OF REDUCED PENALTY RATES. Now, in this example of the hospitality industry, if a Cafe opens on a Sunday and employs waiting staff, their bottom line will only improve if (a) they keep employing the same number of waiting staff at a decreased rate of pay and maintaining their current level of pricing, (b) they continue to pay penalty rates and increase their prices compared to weekday rates, or (c) they lower their prices in an attempt to get more customers in. As any quality business will attest, option c is only a rush to the bottom and causes the eventual failing of the business, just have a look at the turnover of businesses in the cleaning industry. So my prediction is that the removal of penalty rates will result in no net gain of employee hours. It will make no difference to the rate of youth unemployment (in fact it may have the reverse effect, as at the moment, penalty rates encourage the employment of lower cost employees such as juniors). Most business owners set prices based on the rate the market will bear so businesses are unlikely to reduce prices to consumers unless there is a widespread push by the market. In any case, who will the reduced prices in the hospitality industry benefit? Those who work only during the week – the people that don’t have to work on weekends. Are the Liberal Party suggesting that those that HAVE to work on the weekend should take a cut in pay so that those that do not have to, can get cheaper coffee and cake? Really?

The Myth Expounded by Big Business

Off we go again. Big business and the Australian Federal Government are describing our current level of Company Tax as making us uncompetitive in this global economy. May I ask how? I ran my own business for twenty-five years. At at no stage did I weep into my pillow complaining that the company tax rate was making my life hell because I couldn’t compete against my opposition. Company Tax is not an expense of running the business, it is a levy that imposed on the profits from running a business. As such it occurs after the business has carried out its fundamental role.

I know I, like most other people, would have loved to keep that extra money in my pocket but we live in a society where not all people are equal which is what governments are there to help with. Now consider this when you listen to the Treasurer and the big business lobby groups, if the company tax rate is so unhealthily high why is it that the extremely wealthy love to convert their directly earned income into so called company income by forming questionable private companies? Simple, its the ability to claim almost anything as a legitimate cost of doing business, thereby reducing your taxable income substantially. My partner used to get upset with me because I refused to follow that lead. I held onto one main principle when it comes to paying tax – if we all pay our fair share then the tax burden would be able to be reduced on us all. Sadly, the wealthy are the one’s that have the government’s ear.

The World has gone mad


Here we go again – cowards thinking that they are heroes, martyrs for their religion when any thinking person of whatever religion sees them for what they are – murdering criminals.

So if you are contemplating being involved and supporting these cowards take the time to consider this.

It is an act against Islam

Why do I say this? Simple, you cannot reasonably believe that Allah would think that the murder of unarmed innocent civilians of whatever faith (and as far as I remember, rarely do these cowards check if their victims are muslims or not) is an act that would be rewarded in sending the perpetrators to heaven. A god that is just and fair would not forgive this brutality and would not allow those perpetrators to share heaven with their victims. Every time some murderer commits one of these acts in the name of Islam, true believers are pressured by society as if they are to blame. In some cases this leads to those faithful questioning if they want to stay within the family of Islam. But its not their fault, it is the fault of whoever offers support or guidance to these fools.

The perpetrators are at the very least misguided, at best stupid

Why do perpetrators do the bidding of others? Why wont they query those that tell them that carrying out an act of murder then to kill yourself to take more casualties because this will lead you to heaven? I have a number of questions for those people. If these acts of barbarity are so noble why aren’t you doing it yourself? Or do you think that if someone is dumb enough to do as you say they deserve to die? How is it that you don’t attract a vast following of beautiful women but by blowing yourself and others to pieces will make you more attractive than you are now? How does trying to make every body afraid of muslims lead to a world where more people embrace Islam? Why is it that areas under the control of D’aesh can only be controlled by force – if it were the will of the people there would be no need for murder, rape or brutality. Islam is the religion of the people> You have failed. You will languish in hell.