Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Blue November

It's jacaranda time again, and they really do look stunning.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A new low

I'm not usually surprised when Tony Abbott embarrasses us, but I could hardly believe my ears at his speech opening the G20 meeting.

The most powerful leaders in the world, the world's media watching - and he brags to them that he stopped the boats, he whinges about not getting his $7 tax to see a doctor and uni fee increase legislation through parliament.

Worse, given the emphasis on climate change, the US/China agreement, Obama's speech, he brags that he scrapped the carbon tax.

Small town small time, a pygmy way out of his depth.

His myopic narrow thought process is on view too. What matters, he says, is jobs now, not what might happen in the future.

Like fishermen complaining about catch limits and restrictions because it puts their jobs in jeopardy. No understanding that to continue unrestricted will kill their jobs forever when the fish are all gone.

Abbott can't join the dots, doesn't understand the ripple effect that all actions or inactions have, the interconnection.

What a complete and utter embarrassment.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Property obsession

Something I've talked about for while is at last getting some media coverage - our obsession with property investment.

I posted about it back in May  saying that we treat our houses as simply another commodity to be bought and sold.

Now that the CEO of ANZ bank has started talking about it, saying there's "an irrational obsession with housing as an investment class", the subject is getting an airing in the media.

The facts back the argument too. In Sydney we're getting a thousand auctions a week, while here on the Central Coast at any one time there are around fifteen hundred properties on the market.

There are endless stories about how first home buyers are priced out of the market, the shock jocks incorrectly blaming 'cashed up Chinese buyers', and talk about bubbles about to burst.

The ABS has just released its September housing data, which confirms the market is being driven by investors, using negative gearing, who are out-competing owner/occupiers, including first time buyers. In September there was a 3.7% jump in investment lending to $11.94 billion.

Until the culture changes, until we think of houses as places to live rather than as a commodity, the problem won't disappear.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Choice? What choice?

Trying to do some shopping yesterday, I ended up ranting - yet again - about the influence Coles and Woolies have over our lives.

They have identical products and, increasingly, less choice on offer.

And their dominance (they have 80% of the grocery market) has forced indpendent retailers to join co-operatives and franchises. So, for example, independent delis have all but disappeared - they're now Peters Deli's - and they sell exactly the same stuff as the Big Two.

So, bugger all choice.

Today I was interested in the comment from Coles' boss John Durkan.

He said while Coles would continue to reduce its product range, it would always be a full-line supermarket because 'customers expect choice when they come to Coles'.

How's that for a contradiction in terms in one sentence.

And, by the way, they've again been revealed as conning us by lying about their 'fresh 'products.

A few weeks ago it was the bread - 'baked fresh daily' in their own bakery but in reality much of it imported frozen from overseas. Now it's apples, which they advertise as 'spring' fruit when in fact they were picked back in April and have been in cold storage for the last six months.

Their mates in government won't, of course, do anything about it. But it's not only against the public interest to have two such huge companies dominating our economy, it's downright dangerous.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mind boggling treasurer

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey was on the radio this morning, waffling on in his usual style. But a couple of his comments really were mind boggling.

First, his complaint that the Opposition was being negative.

This from someone who was very much part of the Opposition which by common consensus was the most negative we've ever had. The party which set the standard for negative opposition.

Joe Hockey: ...In their heart of hearts, the Labor Party knows this; that's why I think everyone's a bit surprised at how negative they have been...

CHRIS UHLMANN: Why is this government bewildered by the fact that the Labor Party is being negative in Opposition when you made that template and they saw how successful it was.

Why would they have a mature debate when you wouldn't have one when you were in opposition?

JOE HOCKEY: Well I don't accept that.

Denial of the obvious truth.

Then another classic of either misunderstanding or a refusal to accept the truth:

JOE HOCKEY: Well, no, no, hang on. Governments do not create jobs; ultimately, businesses create jobs, and you've got to create an environment where business has confidence to go out and invest...

We have, according to their own organisations, something over 1,200,000 public servants in Australia. That's 10% of the workforce and their jobs were created by government.

The full transcript is here.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Enough is enough

Yet another in an endless saga of trucks running amok on our already overcrowded roads.

In Dee Why an out of control truck smashed into eight cars. Six people were hospitalised, one in critical condition.

Photo. John Grainger. Daily Telegraph

The truck driver claimed the brakes failed.  The fleet of his company, Top Express, was checked and two further trucks failed the inspection.

As a result of the crash, police brought forward their planned operation targeting semi-rigid and rigid trucks, such as the truck that crashed.

They pulled over 21 trucks and 14 failed the inspection, including the two from Top Express.

And a driver allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine. He was given a 24-hour driving ban while the sample was tested.

The problem is that with politicians and business in each others' pockets at the expense of the rest of us, this is just going to keep on happening.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The juveniles are in charge

On winning the last election, Tony Abbott declared "the adults are in charge"  - in itself a juvenile remark.

Since then examples of the juvenile attitude of Abbott and many of his front bench have been coming regularly.

The latest include Abbott's aggressive threat to 'shirt front'* Russia's President Putin.

Typical of his hairy-chested, aggressive schoolyard bully-boy persona.

Now we have the idiot Finance Minister Mathias Cormann name-calling, saying Labor leader Bill Shorten is a 'girlie-man'.

Not only is it infantile, it's not even original, having been used regularly by right-wing Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What an embarrassment this lot are.

*'Shirt-fronting' comes from AFL, where it describes the action of one player deliberately crashing chest-on into an opposing player.