Sunday, 17 May 2015

Notice to all North Coast Voices readers

Due to events beyond our control North Coast Voices will not be posting until further notice.

For this we apologize to all our regular readers and to those that just drop by from time to time on a whim.

Desmond John Euen is still hunting the Snark*

Never let it be said that Desmond John Euen’s self-aggrandisement is not a hardy plant.

A reader of this blog alerted me to the fact that there was yet another slide show posted on the Internet by Queensland’s former truck driver and wannabee infrastructure entrepreneur who would like to see the small coastal towns of the Lower Clarence River turned into residential precincts for a large container and coal loading port of impossible dimensions.

His latest effort includes this intriguing statement for which I can find no supporting evidence:

Mr. Euen’s enduring presence on the Internet in chronological order:

2015 (website for Mr.Euen’s incorporated entity Y.P.R. (AUST) PTY LTD registered in March 2014, in which he is sole director and secretary with all its shares owned by him through his first $1-1 share company AUSTRALIAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENTS PTY LTD in which in turn he appears to be the only director, shareholder and company secretary)

14 December 2014 (an undated and unsigned letter purporting to support Mr. Euen)

25 November 2013 (anonymous document alleged to be a presentation at two-day Regional Ports Conference in 2013)

* The Snark is an absurd creature in a nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll published on April Fool’s Day 1876.

Who is not telling the truth in these Question Time exchanges?

Excerpts from the Australian House of Representatives Hansard, 13 May 2015:

Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (14:34): My question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister agree with the Minister for Social Services that mums who get more than 18 weeks paid leave at home with their new babies are 'rorters'? Or does he agree with his Treasurer, who believes they are committing fraud?
Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:35): The premise of the question is simply false. I have seen too many members of the Labor Party verbal members of the coalition to accept that.
Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:41): My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that Woolworths workers have negotiated an extra eight weeks parental leave? Why does the Prime Minister want to take this extra bonding time away from mothers and their babies? Does he agree with his ministers—
Government members interjecting
The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my right!
Ms PLIBERSEK: that these mothers are rorters and fraudsters?
Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:42): Members opposite should stop telling lies about ministers in this government. They really should stop telling lies about ministers in this government.
The SPEAKER: I would remind the Prime Minister that the term 'lies' is unparliamentary and I would ask him to withdraw.
Mr ABBOTT: I was not accusing any particular member opposite of telling lies. But, Madam Speaker, to assist you, of course, I will withdraw. The claims that have been made by members opposite about statements by ministers in this government are simply false. The assertion that was made by the minister who asked the question again is simply false
Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:50): My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that the Victorian nurses have negotiated, in return for forgone wages, an additional 10 weeks of parental leave on top of the minimum paid parental leave? In the light of that, why are the Prime Minister and his ministers describing nurses, and indeed Woolies workers and 80,000 other new mums, as rorters?
Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:51): I say again that members opposite should tell the truth. They should tell the truth. They should not tell lies, Madam Speaker. They should not do that. A moment ago, we just heard the phraseology of the Leader of the Opposition. We heard the phraseology from the member for Sydney. We heard the phraseology in particular of the member for Jagajaga. The member for Jagajaga said that the Treasurer was calling people taking paid parental leave from their employer and from the government fraudsters. That is what she said. This is dead wrong. I have the transcript. I defy the member for Sydney or any other member opposite to point to any time where the Treasurer used that word 'fraud'. You know who used the word 'fraud'? It was Laurie Oakes. That is who used the word 'fraud'. He said, This is basically fraud, isn't it?' And the Treasurer made it very clear that he supports people on paid parental leave.
Journalist Katherine Murphy writing in The Guardian on 14 May 2015:

From Scott Morrison’s official transcript – Sky News, 11 May:
Q: Sometimes employers don’t give generous programs. I know of a lawyer in Canberra she gets six weeks, how is that generous?

Scott Morrison:
Well she will get the balance through the paid parental leave scheme which is provided by the taxpayer. She will get the same thing as someone working for the bakery and that’s the important thing here we are getting rid of what is an inequity and frankly in many cases I think is a rort.

Treasurer Joe Hockey being interviewed by Laurie Oakes on 11 May 2015:

But this is basically fraud, isn't it, taking an allowance twice effectively? Who is doing it?

Well, it is, in many cases it’s mostly people who go on parental leave that earn more than $90,000 a year. But there are people at various levels who have been claiming parental leave payments from taxpayers, as well as from their employers. Given that our own paid parental leave scheme is not proceeding, we want to make sure that the system is fairer and that’s exactly what we are doing. [my red bolding]

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Best Meme of Budget Week 2015

Want to know how responsible the NSW North Coast Member for Page is for our economic, environmental & social predicament?

It would appear that Kevin Hogan is your run-of-the-mill hypocrite.

This is how Nationals MP for Page for the NSW North Coast finally presented himself to the electorate up to May 2015:

FEDERAL Member for Page Kevin Hogan has told Federal Parliament how a visit to the coal seam gas mining fields in Chinchilla convinced him to continue his opposition to CSG in the Clarence Valley.
On Thursday Mr Hogan addressed Federal Parliament about his concerns about the impact of CSG mining in his electorate.
He said he came to the conclusion that CSG was inappropriate for Page after he visited Chinchilla in Queensland in January 2013 to speak with community members about the impact of the industry there.
"I tried to envisage what the industry would look like in my region," he said.
"I could not see how the industry could work without being extremely invasive given the nature of our topography and small land owning. It would be exceptionally detrimental to neighbouring properties."....

* This is how the member for the federal seat of  Page, Nationals MP actually voted on key issues since 2006, according to Open Australia:

*Voted very strongly against a carbon price. votes
*Voted moderately against increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management. votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing trade unions' powers in the workplace. votes
*Voted moderately against implementing refugee and protection conventions. votes
*Voted moderately for temporary protection visas. votes
*Voted very strongly for increasing or removing the debt limit. votes
*Voted very strongly against a minerals resource rent tax . votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing protection of Australia's fresh water. votes
*Voted strongly for regional processing of asylum seekers. votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing marine conservation. votes
*Voted very strongly for unconventional gas mining. votes
*Voted very strongly against restricting foreign ownership. votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing investment in renewable energy. votes
*Voted very strongly for privatising government assets. votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing funding for university education. votes
*Voted very strongly for increasing the price of subsidised medicine. votes
*Voted very strongly against increasing the age pension. votes
*Voted very strongly for decreasing availability of welfare payments. votes
*Voted very strongly for an emissions reduction fund. votes
*Voted very strongly for increasing funding for road infrastructure. votes
*Voted very strongly for decreasing ABC and SBS funding. votes [my red bolding{

Never rebels against their party in this parliament.

The day after the 2015-16 Budget was delivered......

ReachTEL conducted an opinion poll the day after the Abbott Government delivered its second budget on 13 May 2014.

Due to a number of media releases and ministerial interviews in the weeks before Budget Night these respondents would have possibly been aware of some of what was in the 2015-16 Budget aside from the actual contents of the Treasurer's budget night speech.

There appears to have been no immediate positive bounce for the Coalition in voting intention numbers and Tony Abbott is not seen as the preferred prime minister.

The majority of respondents did not see the budget as making themselves and their families financially better off, while less than half of those respondents identifying themselves as small business owners were inclined to see this budget as one that benefits them directly.

Comparing the two genders, women seem slightly less impressed by this budget than men. 

Question 1:
If a Federal election were to be held today, which of the following would receive your first preference vote? If you are undecided to which do you even have a slight leaning?

Two party preferred result based on 2013 election distribution

Vote intention by employment status:

Question 2:
Who of the following do you think would make the better Prime Minister?

Question 6:
Thinking about the federal budget announced last night; do you think you and your family will be financially better or worse off as a result?

NOTE: This survey was conducted using an automated telephone based survey system among 3,180 voters. Telephone numbers and the person within the household were selected at random. The results have been weighted by gender and age to reflect the population according to ABS figures. Please note that due to rounding, not all tables necessarily total 100% and subtotals may also vary. 

As Australia begins to move further into drought the Bureau of Meteorology confirms an El Niño and the Abbott Government dismantles Water Commission and cuts water funding

Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirms tropical Pacific now at El Niño levels

Media Release, 12 May 2015

The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest update on the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) today confirms El Niño thresholds have been reached in the tropical Pacific for the first time since March 2010.

Assistant Director for Climate Information Services, Mr Neil Plummer, said El Niño is often associated with below average rainfall across eastern Australia in the second half of the year, and warmer than average daytime temperatures over the southern half of the country.
“The onset of El Niño in Australia in 2015 is a little earlier than usual. Typically El Niño events commence between June and November,” Mr Plummer said.
“Prolonged El Niño-like conditions have meant that some areas are more vulnerable to the impact of warmer temperatures and drier conditions.
“The failed northern wet season in 2012–13, compounded by poor wet seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15, have contributed to drought in parts of inland Queensland and northern New South Wales,” he said.
Mr Plummer noted that while the El Niño is forecast to strengthen during winter, the strength of an
El Niño does not necessarily correspond with its impact on Australian rainfall. Australia experienced widespread drought during a weak El Niño in 2006–07, while stronger events such as the El Niño event in 1997–98 had only a modest impact on Australian rainfall.
“Recent significant rainfall and flooding along the east coast of Australia, associated with two almost back-to-back East Coast Lows, did not penetrate far into inland regions and therefore have done little to alleviate conditions in drought affected areas,” Mr Plummer said.
While El Niño increases the risk of drought, it does not guarantee it; of the 26 El Niño events since 1900, 17 have resulted in widespread drought.
Despite El Niño increasing the likelihood of drier conditions later this year, the Bureau’s May to July Climate Outlook (see link below) indicates much of Australia is likely to be wetter than average.
This is being driven by warmer than average Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures, which are dominating this outlook.
Further information:
* The Bureau’s ENSO Wrap-Up is published at
* A video entitled Understanding ENSO can be viewed on YouTube
* May to July Climate Outlook
* An El Niño explainer article is published in The Conversation

In the same month that the Bureau confirmed the existence of a Pacific El Niño and 80 per cent of Queensland was officially drought declared - with northern New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range and an area stretching from southeastern South Australia and western Victoria also experiencing drought - the Abbott Government began to dismantle the National Water Commission, abolished the River Murray Water Committee and cut funding to the Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Programme by $22.7 million over the next two financial years.

It seems that men still want female partners who are attractive, sweet, deferential and nurturing homemakers

A graph which clearly indicates the truth behind Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s observationplus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Quote of the Week

Truly, it is a full metal panic in Abbott circles now to become an acceptable centrist government. [Macro Business, 8 May 2015]

Friday, 15 May 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not the Minister For Women - he is the Minister for Violent Men

Destroy the Joint tally as of 12 May 2015

After cutting $30 million from affordable housing and crisis housing services in late 2014, only extending the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness which helps fund domestic violence refuges for another two years, then calling the rate of violence against women an "epidemic" in March 2015, the self-appointed federal Minister for Women Tony Abbott cannot be surprised at these reactions to his paltry effort in the 2015-16 Budget.

The Sydney Morning Herald 13 May 2015:

A partially-funded awareness campaign was the only domestic violence measure announced in the federal budget, leaving frontline workers aghast at critical funding gaps.

Not one out of nine crucial funding areas identified by family violence experts in a pre-budget report was filled, said Renee Carr, executive director of Fair Agenda, a community organisation that consulted a dozen experts to determine what budget funding was required to address the issue.

The only announcement was a $30 million awareness campaign, to which the federal government offered $16.7 million.

Crisis and counselling hotlines, men's behaviour programs, community legal centres, primary prevention initiatives and services for indigenous or culturally diverse communities were ignored.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said on Wednesday morning that there would be more announcements in the coming weeks but Ms Carr said Tuesday night was a chance for the government to put domestic violence front and centre after recognising that it had become a national epidemic.

"Last night was a test of the government's commitment to dealing with Australia's domestic violence crisis, and it's a test they failed," she said.

"Instead, we heard no new announcements of funding to tackle this issue."

In 2013-4, 423 people were turned away from homelessness agencies every night, many of them women escaping violence. In the same year, 150,000 people were turned away from receiving legal help through community legal centres, Fair Agenda's report said. 

Last year, 18,631 phone calls to the national hotline 1800RESPECT went unanswered. Domestic and Family Violence Crisis Lines Australia also expects demand to grow 40 per cent in the next year.

Karen Willis, executive officer of Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, which administers 1800RESPECT, said they required an extra $2 million to ensure one in four calls don't go unanswered.....

Analysis of the budget announcement shows (as at 14 May 2015):

* 1800 RESPECT – received no additional funding in the budget
* Community legal centres – had no additional funding provided in the budget; and with cuts in the funding model in some jurisdictions, and cuts made in the forward estimates (from mid 2017), NACLC expect turn aways from Community Legal Centres will get worse.
* Family Violence Prevention Legal Services – received no additional funding in the budget
* Homelessness – received the previously announced $230 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. This doesn't include indexation which means a real cut to services of $12.58 million (over the current year and two years of extension). Services can't meet the increasing demand without sufficient and fair increases, so we can expect more women will be turned away unless this is rectified.
* Men’s behavior change programs – received no new funding
* Primary prevention – no additional investment in strategies for primary prevention. Unless that becomes the focus of the still to be defined national awareness campaign. Regardless, investment is still vastly inadequate.
* Family & relationship services – it’s unclear if any additional funding has been provided for these services.
*Services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities – it’s unclear if any additional funding has been provided.

AGL Energy Limited a supplier of gas & coal based electricity is behaving badly yet again

AGL Energy Limited (AGL) sells and markets gas and electricity. It owns a number thermal stations, has an operational gas plant in the Camden area and approvals for exploration and production of coal seam gas in the Gloucester district in New South Wales. 

On 11 May 2015 Smart Company reported that:
The Australian Energy Regulator has penalised energy retailer AGL for disconnecting customers in hardship or on payment plans, with AGL South Australia and AGL Sales both receiving a $20,000 fine from the regulator.
Energy retailers are prohibited from disconnecting customers under certain circumstances, including when they are participating in a hardship program or a payment plan.
However the Australian Energy Regulator said in a statement this morning, it was notified by AGL of incidents in which nine of the company’s customers were wrongfully disconnected from their electricity supply.

This is not the first time that AGL has been in the news for behaving badly.

A quick Internet search brings up this disturbing timeline: 

* August 2003

* September 2004

* July 2005

* August 2006

* May 2008

* May 2009

June 2008 AGL became our electricity provider. This surprised us when we received the first "Dear Customer" letter from them in November, attempting to bill us all the way back to February!
In fact, we had been contracted to Simply Energy (gas + elec) for over a year and owned the house for four years. Every AGL customer "service" person attempts to convince us we just moved in!
Of course we called AGL after getting the November letter (actually two bills for different amounts). The help desk woman apologised, said she could see the account had been transferred to them in error, and promised to send us back to Simply Energy. "No need to worry about it". Famous last words.
Come April 2009, and two more envelopes arrive from AGL. Amount owing is over $1,100, please pay within two weeks. An entire afternoon wasted calling AGL then Simply Energy then AGL (with SE on the line), then AGL again. Each time the recorded voice said we owed a different amount! In the first call, AGL told me to tell SE to check MSATS (their common database) for the handover date. SE said it was June but AGL was billing back to February! SE confirmed we'd paid up to June. All good so far.
AGL claims that because 130 days had passed without hearing from SE, they _own_ our account, under law. They could well be right, but surely SE would be due compensation? AGL checked their own records and could see that they had reminded themselves in November to ask SE for a "winback", but never actually sent the message to them.
To add to the insult, two days after those phonecalls we received a letter from AGL thanking us for agreeing to this payment plan during your phonecall. We did nothing of the sort! We laughed when we saw the "instalment plan" was one payment of the full amount including the months already paid, due in June.  Ta.
The good thing about dealing with AGL is that you get to read up on what your rights are. You can read the entire ombudsman's website while you're on hold! In Victoria, utilities can't backbill residents for more than nine months' worth of power, and have to give an equivalent time to pay if requested. The longer they take to work their stuff out, the more free electricity we have received.
The last time I called them was a week ago, because they'd promised to call me by then. The guy was a lot more candid about the extent of their problems, said their complaints department was VERY busy and while they would try to ring me in the next week he couldn't guarantee it. Meanwhile (after I pressed him to say it) we should ignore the demands for payment. So we're relaxed and waiting ... next step the ombudsman because there's no way they can get away with this.
 [Resolved in the customers favour after what appears to be almost twelve months of negotiation]

* May 2010

* September 2010

* May 2011

In May 2011 a large drilling fluid spill occurred at AGL’s CSG well head at Camden North in NSW during routine maintenance. According to STOP CSG!, AGL failed to report the incident for two days until the leakage was shown on TV

* September 2012

* 2012

AGL sent me a letter advising me that I had entered into a default contract with them because the electricity at that address was still being used despite the cancellation of the A/C. This puzzled me as I had not cancelled the contract with AGL. As requested I phoned the number listed in their letter. At the outset of the conversation with AGL I was required to identify myself by giving my name and DOB. When I asked who had cancelled my A/C, my request was denied on the grounds of privacy regulations. My response to this was that my privacy had been violated when a third party had been allowed to cancel my account with AGL. When my letter of complaint to the GM retail was not answered, a week later I sent an e-mail citing the issues raised .This proved more effective because Customer Relations then contacted me. Their case is that the new tenant next door initially gave the street number of my holiday house, later phoning to correct his error. If the tenant had made this correction before the letter about a default contract had been written, then the issue of a default contract is in my opinion a red herring. Instead AGL should have come clean with me. Alternatively if the tenant had not yet alerted AGL to this debacle, there was no need to send a letter concerning electricity consumption at the address initially given by the new tenant next door. In summary, despite their claim to the contrary, I cannot accept that AGL can cancel an A/C without checking with the person who responsible for the A/C. Even for a simple enquiry a customer is required to identify themselves. Secondly I am not confident that the default letter was written in good faith. If AGL already knew about the source of the confusion at the time of writing to me , they should have been frank and open. XXXX XXXX Address in question-XX XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX

* March 2013

* May 2013

* July 2013

* December 2013

* December 2014

* January 2015

* April 2015

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Abbott Government's 2015-16 Budget is like the curate's egg#

"My determination is to ensure that this budget is fair"
[Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaking with 3AW's Neil Mitchell, May 2015] 

Only time will tell just how 'fair' this federal budget is. It still contains elements of Tony Abbott's desire to penalise the poor and vulnerable at every opportunity, his determination to avoid funding climate change initiatives or water savings measures where possible and his seeming need to stifle innovation and science.

Here are some of the features of the Abbott Government’s 2015-16 Budget:

* The government is providing $131.3 million over three years to help the telecommunications industry meet their initial capital costs of retaining all metadata belonging to phone and internet accounts held by Australian citizens.

* Income management will continue for another two years in all twelve locations where it currently operates, with possible expansion to four new communities at a cost of $145.8 million and with these scheme trials ending on 30 June 2017. However, the scheme will no longer include Voluntary Incentive Payments and the Matched Savings Payment.

* The government will also spend $2.7 million over three years from 2014-15 to undertake a trial of new welfare debit card arrangements in up to three communities, based on the recommendations made in the report Creating Parity — the Forrest Review, with locations to be determined in consultation with key stakeholders.

*Low Income Supplement — cessation. This represents the loss of an annual $300 payment to eligible low-income households.

* Personal Contact Interviews will be removed from the repertoire of activities required of individuals receiving unemployment benefits. However, from 1 July 2016, the Government will extend the ‘no show no pay’ principle to missed appointments and activities like work for the dole, to encourage positive job seeker behaviour and compliance. Job seekers who fail to undertake adequate job search will be subject to income support payment suspension until they demonstrate genuine job search efforts. These job seekers would also no longer be able to have the financial penalty waived by agreeing to undertake a compliance activity.

* Cessation of the Large Family Supplement of Family Tax Benefit Part A. Large families will continue to receive a per child rate of FTB Part A for each eligible child in their family.

* Family Tax Benefit Part A — reduced portability. With some exceptions the amount of time Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A will be paid to recipients who are outside Australia will be reduced to 6 weeks in every twelve months they are overseas.

1 July 2016 onwards the government is removing all or part of federal paid parental scheme entitlements for to an estimated 79,000 working women expected to take maternity leave. Under federal legislation these women had an expectation of receiving up to $11,500 for maternity leave of 18 weeks duration.

* From 1 January 2017 the government will reduce from 26 weeks to six weeks the period that some recipients of the Age Pension, Wife Pension, Widow B Pension and the Disability Support Pension can be paid their full basic means-tested rate while absent from Australia. After six weeks absence from Australia, pensioners who have lived in Australia for less than 35 years will be paid at a reduced rate proportional to their period of Australian Working Life Residence (AWLR). The AWLR is the period a person has lived in Australia, as a permanent resident, between the age of 16 years and Age Pension age.

* The Government will not proceed with changes to eligibility thresholds for Australian Government payments for the next three years that relate to the Age Pension, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, and the Veterans’ Service Pension income test free areas and deeming thresholds over three years from 2016-17. The pension income test free areas and deeming thresholds will continue to be indexed annually by the Consumer Price Index. This means that 170,000 extra pensioners with moderate assets will now receive a full or increased pension. At the same time, the asset test taper rate will increase from $1.50 to $3. This means for every $1,000 of assets over the asset free threshold (eg. $202,000 threshold for a single homeowner age pensioner & 286,500 for home owning age pension couples), the pension rate will reduce by $3 a fortnight. Those who no longer receive a pension will remain eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or Health Care Card. The Government has decided not to proceed with the 2014 Budget measure to index pension and pension equivalents by CPI alone.

* The government will pause for a further two years the indexation of 78 programmes under the Administered Programme Indexation Pause measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget. For each programme, the extension of the pause to indexation will apply from 1 July 2017 or 1 July 2018 depending on the original start date of the pause.
All elements of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy do not appear to be resuming indexed funding until 2018-19.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs dental and allied health provider payments will not resume being indexed until 1 July 2018.

* A new single Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be introduced on 1 July 2017. Families meeting the activity test with annual incomes up to $60,000 (2013-14 dollars) will be eligible for a subsidy of 85 per cent of the actual fee paid, up to an hourly fee cap of $11.55 for long day care, $10.70 for family day care, and $10.10 for outside school hours care. The subsidy will taper to 50 per cent for eligible families with annual incomes of $165,000. The CCS will have no annual cap for families with annual incomes below $180,000. For families with annual incomes of $180,000 and above, the CCS will be capped at $10,000 per child per year.

* Cooperative Research Centres — reduced funding. Lost funding will be $26.8 million over four years from 2015-16.

* Industry grant programmes — reduced funding. Lost funding will be  $31.7 million over three years from 2014-15 and will apply to the following programmes; Commercialisation Australia, Enterprise Connect and Industry Innovation Precincts.

* Regional Development Australia Committees — reduced support. This loss of support activity represents $3.6 million over four years.

* Sustainable Rural Water Use and Infrastructure Programme — reduced funding. Loss of $22.7 million in water buyback funding over two years from 2017-18.

* National Low Emissions Coal Initiative — funding adjustment. Funding for the Australian National Low Emissions Coal Research and Development Project will be reduced by a one-off $3.4 million before 30 June 2015.

* The Government will abolish the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Environment Strategic Advisory Committee, as the function has been reallocated by CSIRO to the relevant flagship advisory committee. IIF Investments Pty Ltd, and its assets, have been transferred to the Department of Industry and Science. IIF Investments was established as a mechanism to deliver the Government’s capital into the venture capital funds licensed under Rounds 1 and 2 of the Innovation Investment Fund (IIF), PreSeed Fund (PSF) and Renewable Energy Equity Fund (REEF) programmes. It will also dissolve the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) and the Consumer Advocacy Panel

* The Government will reduce the company tax rate to 28.5 per cent for companies with aggregated annual turnover less than $2 million. Companies with an aggregated annual turnover of $2 million or above will continue to be subject to the current 30 per cent rate on all their taxable income. Individual taxpayers with business income from an unincorporated business that has an aggregated annual turnover of less than $2 million will be eligible for a small business tax discount of five per cent of the income tax payable on the business income received from an unincorporated small business entity. The discount will be capped at $1,000 per individual for each income year, and delivered as a tax offset.

* Application of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be extended to cross border supplies of digital products and services imported by consumers from 1 July 2017.

* Under the new arrangements, increased criminal penalties and a new civil pecuniary penalties regime will be introduced for breaches of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975. A reduced penalty period for foreign investors that have previously breached the foreign investment rules in relation to residential real estate has been provided until 30 November 2015. These investors may avoid prosecution, but will be required to divest the property.

* Stronger Relationships Trial — cessation. Those couples with a $200 pre-marriage relationship counselling subsidy will have these honoured up until 30 June 2015 for couples who registered prior to 9 February 2015.

* Expenses under the broadcasting sub‑function are estimated to decrease by 3.2 per cent in real terms from 2014‑15 to 2015‑16 and by 8.5 per cent in real terms from 2015‑16 through to 2018‑19. Due to these cuts the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) is reportedly withdrawing from the digital platform FreeView so if viewers wish to see a certain documentary, drama, comedy or current affairs show they will have to view it on their television at the time of broadcast and wait for any televised repeat in the future if they miss doing so.

* The Australia Council arts funding will be cut by $110 million between 1 July 2015 and 30 June 2019. This arts funding will be transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department to be distributed at its direction of the Attorney-General.

While Thursday marks the 29th anniversary of Paul Keating's famous "banana republic" warning that ushered in two decades of more disciplined government, more than $1 out of every $4 created by the economy will be taxed and consumed by the Abbott government. 
According to a Treasury measure of the "call on resources", which gauges the tax and borrowings needed to fund the government, the burden will hit 26.7 per cent in 2015-16 and 2016-17…..
The budget papers show the measure will remain at more than 26 per cent for at least four years, until 2018-19. The figure looks better than it seems in the final year, which is when the federal government plans to cut $80 billion in funding to states.....
Between 1987 and 2013 the size of government breached 26-per cent only once, in 2009-10, when the Labor government's stimulus package led to increased borrowing. It climbed above that level for only the second time in 26 years in 2013-14, which was the Coalition's first budget, and it has remained there since.