Saturday, 16 December 2017

Ballot Count starts Bennelong Federal By-election, Saturday 16 December 2017



Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) Virtual Tally Room – count begins after 6.30pm.

See http://tallyroom.aec.gov.au/HouseDivisionPage-21379-105.htm for rolling results of Bennelong by-election.

ABC News 24 live by-election coverage at http://www.abc.net.au/news/newschannel/

Just because it is beautiful.......(34)


Sulpher Crested Cockatoo
Cacatua galerita

Image: Clement Tang


Frequently kept as a pet by Australian families.

Tweet of the Week



Friday, 15 December 2017

Crime trends in the Clarence Valley October 2007 to September 2017


In the ten years between October 2007 and September 2017 crime trends in the Clarence Valley Local Government Area have remained numerically and statistically small in 5 crime categories covering murder and violent robbery.

While crime trends remain stable in 6 crime categories (assault unrelated to domestic violence, sexual assault & other sexual offences, stealing from a car and stealing from a store ) and fallen in another 4 crime categories (stealing motor vehicles and break, enter dwellings & non-dwellings and malicious damage).

Crime trends have only risen in 2 out of 17 commonly listed crime categories over these ten years – Fraud up 10.5 per cent & Assault –Domestic Violence Related up 3.6 per cent.


October 2007 to September 2017
Fraud, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
Statistically significant Upward trend over the 120 month period.
The average annual percentage change was: 10.5%

October 2007 to September 2017
Assault - domestic violence related, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
Statistically significant Upward trend over the 120 month period.
The average annual percentage change was: 3.6%

Other crimes that are often mentioned whenever the subject of crime arises.

October 2007 to September 2017
Sexual assault, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
No statistically significant upward or downward trend over the 120 month period.

October 2007 to September 2017
Indecent assault, act of indecency and other sexual offences, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
No statistically significant upward or downward trend over the 120 month period.

October 2007 to September 2017
Break and enter - dwelling, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
Statistically significant Downward trend over the 120 month period.
The average annual percentage change was: -5.5%

October 2007 to September 2017
Motor vehicle theft, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
Statistically significant Downward trend over the 120 month period.
The average annual percentage change was: -4.2%

October 2007 to September 2017
Malicious damage to property, Clarence Valley Local Government Area
Statistically significant Downward trend over the 120 month period.
The average annual percentage change was: -5.9%

As for drug and alcohol offences in the Clarence Valley Local Government Area (est. resident population 51,367), the data collected over the ten year period revealed that cannabis cultivation was stable but possession and use of cannabis had risen over that period. While possession and use of cocaine, ecstasy,narcotics and other drugs was numerically small and statistically insignificant over those same ten years.

Click on images to enlarge

Selected crimes across 17 major crime categories.


NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research Crime Trends Interactive Tool to create graphs and tables for other NSW local government areas.

About that political influence on domestic affairs on the part of foreign powers, Prime Minister Turnbull.....



He went on to excoriate the Labor Party in parliament last week with regard to its contacts with Chinese nationals.

This week the primary subject of Turnbull's verbal attacks announced his resignation from the Australian Parliament.

However, this week also brings news from Western Australia which demonstrates just how hypocritical is the prime minister’s political posturing.

Via @kimbakit

Then came this three days later.

Via @kimbakit

When it comes to close association with or susceptibility to foreign influence, Malcolm Turnbull is engaging in a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black.

By way of background…..

Political donations to the Liberal Party & fund raising at West Australian level involving The 500 Club and companies/individuals having ties to the People’s Republic of China in 2015-16:

The 500 Club (WA) - $15,000, $20,000, $20,000, $20,000, $20,000, $30,000, $55,000
Chaoshan No 1 Pty Ltd ATF Legpro 30 Unit Trust (Chinese billionaire Xiangmo Huang is a director) - $10,000, $20,000,
Hong Kong Kingson Investments (Australian-Chinese billionaire Chau Chak Wing) - $200,000, $200,000
Kingold Group (Chinese-born billionaire Chau Chak Wing) - $200,000

Political donations to the Liberal Party & fund raising at Federal level involving The 500 Club and companies/individuals having ties to the People’s Republic of China in 2015-16:

The 500 Club (WA) - nil
Hong Kong Kingson Investments - $400,000, $100,000, 10,000

Of course neither Western Australia nor the Liberal Party are alone in receiving political donations from Chinese interests and readers can click on this searchable database 
http://democracyforsale.net/search-aec/ to view declared donations from all sources going back to 1998-99.

The connection between political parties and big business which appears to be cemented by these donations has long been a troublesome aspect of federal and state election processes, with ABC News reporting in December 2016; Declared donations and payments to Australian political parties are about to top $1 billion, a new analysis of data shows.

Businesses with Chinese connection donated more than $5.5 million between 2013 and 2015 - a breakdown of these donations can be found here.

Then there is the matter of undeclared donations and other undeclared income.

According to GetUp!:

Australian law requires all payments to politicians over $13,200 to be publicly declared - an important public transparency measure to stop corruption.

But right now there are some gaping legal loopholes that see tens of millions of dollars funnelled into the pockets of our politicians with no oversight, no accountability.

By piecing together fragments of publicly available data, our research reveals the full extent of hidden 'Dark Money' flooding our political system…..

Last election the Liberal Party transparently declared only 13% of their total private income. 

The Liberal Party declared $8.98 million transparently, funnelled a further $5.5 million of donations through "affiliated entities", and listed $8.97 million as "other receipts". A full $45.9 million of their income was undisclosed Dark Money.

Last election the Labor Party transparently declared 21% of their total private income.  

Labor declared $10.4 million transparently and listed $15 million as "other receipts" (note: Labor listed all income from affiliated entities as "other receipts"). A full $24.4 million of their income was entirely undisclosed Dark Money.

Make no mistake, it is not the intention of the Turnbull Government to turn off the foreign donation tap, no matter what the current rhetoric. If NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations have shown us anything, it is that politicians, political parties and vested interests are highly creative in how they deliver/receive banned political donations.

"Inequality is neither a personal choice nor a national tragedy. It is a choice governments make"


Chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society national council Dr John Falzon, writing in The Guardian on 13 December 2017:

In 1952 a Catholic newspaper in Ireland proclaimed: “The welfare state is diluted socialism and socialism is disguised communism.”

Extreme? Yes. Dated? No. When you listen to the dying declarations of the spear-carriers for neoliberalism, it’s hard not to hear the same alarmist codswallop.

The logic goes like this: being unemployed and poor is bad because people choose to be unemployed or poor. If you receive income support, it is because you are unemployed and poor. Therefore, receiving income support is bad. Therefore, removing income support is good. Coincidentally, this means more money for the rich and less for the poor.

Social services minister Christian Porter’s recent National Press Club address was replete with denunciations of the “politics of envy” associated with redistributionist policies, as well as the “morally unacceptable” nature of social expenditure because it means placing a debt burden on the children of today to pay off as the adults of tomorrow.

These are old tropes. Joe Hockey used them regularly when he was treasurer. The intergenerational framework is always going to be a useful means of distracting from the uncomfortable reality of class inequality in the current generation.

A false divide is constructed between those who have a job (and pay taxes) and those who don’t.

It is time that we did away with this fictitious divide. It was always false. It implied that the low-paid cleaner had more in common with the mining magnate than with the person who is locked out of the labour market.

But now, especially as we try to understand the future of work and the massive changes to the structure of the labour market, it is time we consigned this nonsense to the rubbish bin of ideological history.

People who are low paid, casually employed, underemployed, unemployed, informally employed, on dodgy contracts, women who work as unpaid or low-paid carers, students who take whatever work they can get and remain silent about the indefinite training wages, sole parents, people with a disability, aged pensioners, veterans; all have more in common with each other and with other members of the working class than we dare admit.

By recognising this commonality, we can begin to reframe the way in which so-called welfare dependency and the “injustice” and “immorality” of social expenditure is presented. This is crucial at a time when the government has ruled out increasing the woefully inadequate Newstart payment, which has not seen an increase in real terms since 1994 .

The discussion needs some perspective. We have a minimum wage that sits at around 40% of the average weekly earnings and a Newstart payment that sits at around 40% of the minimum wage. The minimum wage is not a living wage and the unemployment benefit is not even a pale shadow of a living wage. And we see the consequences at the St Vincent de Paul Society every day, where topping up from charitable assistance has become the norm for many people simply to survive.

We need a solid jobs plan, and full employment should be a policy priority. Instead we keep getting served up a putting-the-boot-into-the-unemployed-plan and a slashing-social-expenditure-plan. Behavioural approaches won’t fix structural problems. The government can blame people all they like but this won’t address the inequality many are burdened with, as wages are suppressed and profits soar, buttressed by tax cuts, wage cuts and social expenditure cuts….

Our social security system was built in very different structural circumstances. The labour market is different. Work is different. We should be embarking on a serious reframing of how we can, collectively and with common resources, achieve social and economic security for everyone. We need, for example, to explore how government might play a leading role in achieving full employment instead of harassing the people who have been structurally excluded from jobs.

There is nothing innovative about marginalising people who are already made to feel that they have been stigmatised through drug-testing and cashless welfare cards.

There is nothing smart about a program like Path that uses young people for six months as cheap labour and then discards them.

We need to build a way forward that ensures that no one misses out on the essentials of life: a place to live, a place to work (or income adequacy for those who cannot engage in paid work), a place to learn (from early childhood through to university and TAFE), and a place to heal.

This means not just leaving these essentials to the whims of the market but actively ensuring that no one is excluded. This is an economic as well as a social imperative.

Inequality is buttressed and boosted by unfair rules that must be changed. We need to imagine a future predicated not on the perpetuation of inequality but the provision of social and economic security.

Inequality is neither a personal choice nor a national tragedy. It is a choice governments make.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Effect of proposed company tax cuts according to Australian Prime Minister Malcom Bligh Turnbull - "All boats will rise"



As households across the country began the count down to the holiday season, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull smugly informed an ABC interviewer that as a result of a proposed cut in the company tax rate* everyone’s income will increase – “All boats will rise”.

This is another way of referring to that now legendary faux economic theory popular with right-wing politicians – the Trickle Down Effect.

This assertion is tested in an Australian Treasury working paper ANALYSIS OF THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF A COMPANY TAX CUT (May 2016) which modelled a tax cut reducing company tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent – presumably implemented over the 10 years to 2026-27 proposed by government.

Yes, this working paper estimates that for “a static representative household” “calibrated to match the expenditure, income patterns, and taxes faced by aggregate Australian households” real wages will rise if all other factors in the economy remain unchanged.

So it seems that Turnbull's claim is genuine - or is it?

What Turnbull fails to say is that this “real” wage rise will probably be a paltry est. 1.0-1.1% in total, will take at least 20 years to achieve and will only come about if the average individual also works longer hours.

Based on ABS May 2017 All Employees Average Weekly Total Earnings and an optimistically estimated average annual wages growth of 1.9 per cent; at the end of those 20 years an average worker will have received a total wage increase of est. $851 to $929. Spread out over those 20 years that works out to between 81-89 cents a week extra in his/her pay packet as a direct result of the Turnbull Government’s company tax cut.

Because in real life these company tax cuts are staged and, each stage would have a lag time, no-one is going to see 81-89 cents in their pay packets anytime soon. Indeed a great many people will probably never see this meagre increase at all as the real wages of many low-skilled workers haven't increased alongside higher-skilled workers for the last seven years and there is no indication as to if or when this trend will end.

Over this same twenty-year time period any increase in company income as a result of a 5 per cent cut in the company tax rate would result in millions to one billion plus being added to the bottom lines of a significant number of medium to large corporations. With such savings being just as likely to be diverted into bonuses paid to senior management or paid as dividends to shareholders as they are to being reinvested in a business.

Once more proving that tax cuts for industry, business and those individuals wealthy enough to incorporate their landholdings/investments, have what is essentially a neutral outcome for rest of the population.

Company tax cuts will hardly stir the water beneath those metaphorical boats belonging to ordinary workers.

Therefore this classic illustrative meme still stands under the Turnbull Coalition Government:


Something to remember when it comes time to vote in the next federal election.