Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not homes, simply a commodity to be traded

It's yet another record property weekend, with 900 houses being auctioned in Sydney.

And there we see the problem.

The problem isn't what too many people are claiming - cashed-up Chinese pushing up the prices to the point that poor Aussies are being priced out of their own housing.

Every weekend we see hundreds of houses being auctioned, demonstrating the real problem behind our housing costs. We've developed the culture that it's just a commodity to be bought and sold to make a profit.

The reserve Bank put out some information last week, reported in Sydney Morning Herald. 

Amid anecdotal claims some local buyers are being priced out of the market by cashed-up overseas investors, a new submission from the central bank examines official data on the topic.

It says foreign investment in residential housing was at most 5 to 10 per cent of market turnover, and last year the government approved $17 billion in property investment from overseas, with most of the money funding the purchase and construction of new homes.

As foreign investors' share of the market has remained fairly steady over the past two decades, the Reserve concluded overseas buyers were not the main reason for price rises over the period.

It's not foreigners to blame, it's us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Admit the mistake and replace Abbott

Not only is Tony Abbott hugely and increasingly unpopular with the electorate but the Liberals themselves are coming to realise what a mistake it was to make him their leader.

He won the leadership from Malcolm Turnbull by just one vote with just enough members believing Turnbull wouldn't be able to lead them to government. A bad error of judgement, because the Coalition would have won with Jack The Ripper as leader; Labor gave it to them on a plate.

The Coalition won even though Abbott was hugely unpopular right up to the election. Now with his entirely predictable actions since, he's plunging ever further down the drain of unpopularity and taking the party with him.

Not only has the electorate woken up to what he's all about, the state and territory leaders are in open rebellion and an increasing number of his own party are voicing disapproval. So are previous Lib leaders including his mentor John Howard.

The party did a huge disservice to the country by electing him as leader and thus foisting him on us as Prime Minister. They owe it to us to take a leaf out of Labor's book and get rid of him in a leadership ballot.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Killer trees

Yesterday's local paper has a story about yet another dangerous gum tree in a residential area, something I've complained about in previous posts.

As I said in those posts, branches come crashing down from gum trees year round.

Photo: News Ltd

This big lump came down early one morning which, as the resident said, was lucky because later in the morning and in the afternoon the road is full of kids from the nearby school being dropped off or picked up.

He said that the tree, outside his house, "had shed several branches over the years" and added that it's "a beautiful old eucalypt, but safety has to come first".

Council wasn't much help. They have too many trees to monitor them all, they said, so they want residents to monitor them and inform council if they think there's a problem.

Trouble is that their default position is to say there's nothing wrong with the tree, or it's protected.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Catching up

It's been a while since I was here but it's been a busy few weeks.

We had another trip up to Singapore with a side trip to KL. Singapore was back to its normal uncomfortable humidity, the rains having returned after the very unusual dry spell I posted about in February.

To KL the budget airline Air Asia had the schedule that suited us and it was sort of OK. Like so many of the 'budget' airlines it isn't much cheaper than the full-service carriers by the time you pay all the extras - an $89 advertised fare more than doubles in reality.

The real problem, and surprise, was the airport. It was designated KUL so I assumed it was the usual KL International, but it wasn't. It was a very old airport way out in the bush somewhere and in this age of terrorism the lack of security was mind boggling.

The aircraft park on the tarmac, passengers clamber down the steps and wander about in confusion.

There are a couple of employees waving passengers in the general direction of the terminal & exit and vague signs dotted about. Incoming and outgoing passengers, international and domestic, are all wandering about together, past the luggage collection/distribution area, past all the parked aircraft and the other airport sections.

Not a sign of any security people anywhere.

Back in Oz we had to go up to Newcastle a couple of times, then overnight to Canberra, then a Saturday drive to Sydney airport -Saturday is the busiest day on the roads and it wasn't a fun drive. All of that used up a week.

That's the traveling done for a while so we can relax and get stuff done around the house and garden. There was good rain while we were away so the weeds are doing well.

And then the budget of course. The media has been saying that Abbott has reneged on his promise to lead a government of no surprises. I disagree. He's acted in exactly the way I expected him to.

In spite of us being one of a handful of countries with a AAA rating, with an economy the envy of the world, he and Smokin' Joe have continued their scare tactics from their time in opposition, screeching endlessly about a budget crisis, a budget emergency, a budget disaster.

All bullshit of course, as the leading economists keep telling us, but it suits their extreme ideological agenda.

Abbott hit the radio waves this morning, trotting out the cliches and sound bites written by his spin doctors and, as is his way, repeating each one so the hacks would be sure to write them down.

Young people must 'earn or learn' he repeated several times, the Medicare payment to visit bulk-billing doctors is a 'co-payment' - that's worked already, with all the media using the 'co-' in all reports.

The budget-we-had-to-have is all the fault of the previous government, naturally, and nothing to do with ideology.

All right-thinking people will accept that there's a long term budget problem if we don't take steps to put strategies in place now, but this lot haven't done it. No vision, just politics and ideology.

Hit the weakest and neediest in our society while protecting the big end of town and big business.

A tough budget in the first year, blamed on the previous government's profligacy, most of the actions delayed until after the next election, then the next budget will be easier and the last one before the election will be designed to buy votes.

The only surprise for me with Abbott breaking so many pre-election promises is that he's broken so many in one hit and so early. I thought he'd spread them out more than this.

It does confirm the cynicism of our politicians and the contempt they have for the rest of us. Say anything to get into power, con the gullible and once in power forget all that and do what you really intended to do all along but didn't have the guts or honesty to put on the table.

And where's the Opposition? MIA.

They've done it again with the wrong choice of leader. Smokin' Joe caused giggles in parliament calling him Electricity Bill but he's more like Beige Bill, dull, boring, uninspiring. His shadow Treasurer's missing in action too, in fact the whole shadow cabinet seems to have disappeared.

A pox on all their houses.