Category: Joe Hockey

Australian ambassador to US red-faced over ‘mateship’ campaign featuring only rich white men — RT US News


Hockey 1, Hockey2, Hockey3  The man is worse than Abbott is that possible? (ODT)

Australian Ambassador to the US Joe Hockey once said that the “age of entitlement is over” – but not for the 15 rich white men he selected to be patrons of a ‘mateship’ campaign to celebrate to promote US-Australian relations.

The list, which failed to include any women or people of color, has been met with ire online; forcing the Australian embassy in the US to expand the campaign to those from non-military backgrounds.

via Australian ambassador to US red-faced over ‘mateship’ campaign featuring only rich white men — RT US News

Joe Hockey sought to block release of Cabcharge details, citing terrorism risk

Former treasurer’s office said the release of five-year-old hire car travel details could put him at risk in a heightened terrorism environment.

Source: Joe Hockey sought to block release of Cabcharge details, citing terrorism risk

Joe Hockey’s unscripted moments of truth reveal what the Government really thinks

Don’t sack Hockey. After all, it’s his slip-of-the-truth lines that give us a glimpse of the Government’s real agenda: only the rich and powerful matter.

Source: Joe Hockey’s unscripted moments of truth reveal what the Government really thinks

Joe Hockey defamation trial: Treasurer to recover only small fraction of legal costs from Fairfax case Updated 33 minutes ago

Joe Hockey leaves the Federal Court with his wife Melissa Babbage

The Federal Court awarded $200,000 in damages to Treasurer Joe Hockey in his defamation case against Fairfax Media.

Hockey to pay 85 per cent of legal costs in Fairfax defamation suit

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit (another term for this would be “hollow victory“).

AAP: Nikki Short

Treasurer Joe Hockey will recover only a small fraction of his legal costs incurred in suing Fairfax Media for defamation.

In June, Mr Hockey won a Federal Court defamation case against Fairfax and was awarded $200,000 in damages.

The court examined whether Mr Hockey’s reputation was damaged by a series of reports last year from Fairfax, including an article headlined “Treasurer for sale”.

Justice Richard White found that a poster headline and tweets reading “Treasurer for sale” were defamatory.

All other claims made by Mr Hockey were dismissed.

In the Federal Court today, Justice White ordered that Fairfax pay no more than 15 per cent of Mr Hockey’s recoverable costs.

This means his legal bill is expected to be far in excess of the $200,000 he was awarded.

A source close to the case dismissed speculation Fairfax and Mr Hockey each incurred more than $1 million in legal bills.

However, the bill for both parties combined is expected to top $1 million.

If that is the case, Mr Hockey would net $250,000 from Fairfax in damages and costs but face a legal bill of about $500,000.

The reports, published in newspapers including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and online on May 5, 2014, related to Mr Hockey’s involvement with Liberal Party fundraising group the North Sydney Forum (NSF).

Justice White had found that Fairfax Media may have been able to rely on a defence of qualified privilege to justify the headline and tweets, however this defence was not available because the headline was motivated by “malice”.

In March, the court heard from Sean Nicholls, The Sydney Morning Herald’s state political editor and the author of the “Treasurer for sale” article, who said he believed the story was in the public interest because there was “significant public debate about donations being tied to access to politicians”.

Posted about an hour ago

Joe Hockey Belongs To A Class Of Wealthy Landlords, who invest for subsidised capital gain,and rent through negative gearing and depreciation. So much for trickle down theory and productive investment. There’s 100s of politicians concerned for themselves. We are however investing in him.

Joe Hockey Belongs To A Class Of Wealthy Landlords, Of Course He’s Untroubled By Housing Affordability |

Joe Hockey’s housing comments prompt call for crackdown on politicians using taxpayers’ funds to pay off Canberra houses – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Joe Hockey and Annabel Crabb

Joe Hockey’s housing comments prompt call for crackdown on politicians using taxpayers’ funds to pay off Canberra houses – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

The Real News Channel

So sad how many, many of the elderly still vote Liberal. Explain to your elderly folk that #LiberalsDoNotLikeYou and implore them to #PutLiberalsLast on March 28.
HE could be set to make his generation work until they’re 70, but when Treasurer Joe Hockey leaves federal Parliament he will be in line for a pension of at least $270,000 a year.
Yes, that’s right, $270,000 a year.
That’s about 10 times what an average male his age could pocket in retirement on current trends.
Assuming Tony Abbott remains Prime Minister for the next four years he could walk away with an annual pension of more than $380,500 and his deputy Warren Truss just over $300,000 a year, according to News Corp analysis, and that’s not including travel perks.
If Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was to remain in his job for the same amount of time, he is on track to take away at least $164,000 each year.
The calculations take into account their time in Parliament and the salary of the highest office they’ve held.

The figures stand in stark contrast to the $27,600 an average male currently earning $79,700 could pocket when he turns 70, based on predictions which factor in a CPI increase of about 1.5% annually over the next 20 years.

Hockey’s Intergenerational Report ignores biggest intergenerational issue: Fantasy dressed to sell policy their prediction to reality ratio has always been minus. This one totally avoids climate change impact on Australia.

Hockey’s Intergenerational Report ignores biggest intergenerational issue.

Much obliged: The poor face onerous rules while rich corporations avoid tax with impunity

Australian politicians love the idea of mutual obligation. But the disparities underlying it are becoming more and more extreme. Welfare recipients are painted as getting “something for nothing”, and pushed into more and more restrictive versions of the social contract. Meanwhile, corporate citizens are happy to take subsidies and shirk tax, and can expect little or no punishment if they break the law. Some are trying to excise themselves from society altogether. The government has talked tough about tax and regulation at the G20, while gutting enforcement agencies at the same time. Don’t expect that to change.

“NO PORNOGRAPHY” is what the blue signs used to say, alongside “NO LIQUOR”. To make them more “respectful”, the pornography part was changed two years ago to read “PROHIBITED MATERIAL”. The most important part – the “PRESCRIBED AREA” at the top – stayed the same. There are hundreds of these warnings spread across the Northern Territory, most on the outskirts of indigenous communities, but some placed seemingly at random. Near the town of Emu Bore, there’s one on the lonely road leading to a single family’s property, reminding them again and again of the proscriptions. Outside Yuendumu, the locals have placarded their own counter-suggestion: “IF U WANT PORN GO TO CANBERRA”. These signs don’t just delineate the areas affected by the Northern Territory Emergency Response, better known as the Intervention. They also mark another border: the farthest reach of the idea of mutual obligation.

Like the term “economic rationalism”, “mutual obligation” is a piece of Third Way political nomenclature that Australia has made its own. Both concepts were pioneered by the Hawke–Keating governments, before being fully realised by their successors. By 2000, John Howard could tell a Today Show interviewer that “mutual obligation is an Australian concept” and expect no argument. Politicians and government literature now often refer to the idea as being intuitively comprehensible, a kind of common sense. The principle that welfare recipients are expected to provide something in return for their payments has been normalised, especially if the alternative is “passive” benefits.

A love of mutual obligation unites even bitter adversaries in the political class. Policy engineers from Tony Abbott (“Although most people don’t choose to be on welfare, once they’ve become accustomed to it, it’s easy enough to find reasons why going back to work is too hard”) to Mark Latham (“aid the unemployed by developing their skills and reconnecting them with the benefits of work and active citizenship”) have endorsed it. The Liberals use the language of incentives, and the ALP the language of empowerment, but their end points are not so different. Before the last election, Julia Gillard’s reduction of the single-parent payment was given a familiar rationale. While admitting that the Newstart Allowance was too low, the then prime minister made her priorities clear: “I want to see everybody have the benefits, choices and essential dignity that comes with access to paid work.”

Few other kinds of contracts operate like those implicit in mutual obligation: the terms are not negotiable, duties can increase even as payments decline, and one party must fulfil its duties on pain of poverty and homelessness. Its political appeal causes strange ideological inversions: even dry conservatives suddenly become fans of the statist nudge of behavioural economics. But its most eerie power is to make its adherents, of whatever political stripe, junk all the modern information we’ve accumulated about unemployment in favour of conceptions that are centuries old.

Whether or not paid work has an essential dignity rather than a conferred one is open to argument. As the British journalist Jeffrey Bernard put it, “If there was something romantic about [work], the Duke of Westminster would be digging his own fucking garden, wouldn’t he?” But that argument is over for almost everyone in the Australian political class.

Like the term “economic rationalism”, “mutual obligation” is a piece of Third Way political nomenclature that Australia has made its own.

Workers are virtuous, but those on welfare are depicted as dole bludgers, job snobs and disability-pension rorters. This is a picture that has little relationship with reality. Unemployment in Australia is almost always a transient and unwilled state, and workers have little control over it. Most of the jobless have worked in the past, and will work again. The official unemployment figure is around 800,000 (and an even greater number of people, almost a million, are classified as underemployed). Total job vacancies in August this year numbered less than 150,000. All the virtue in the world can’t overcome a disparity like that.

Compared to other countries with our level of development, Australia’s spending on unemployment benefits is already low and well targeted. So is our social-security spending. When the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a compendium of relevant data recently, it showed that regardless of age, household demography, income, wealth, or income source, Australian households in 2011–12 were less dependent on welfare than they were in 2003–04.

There was no revelation here, nothing new. The reality of welfare in Australia has been known for a long time. But in the media, and even at policy level, anecdotes and age-old taboos about shirkers rule.

The template for today’s policy thinking on welfare is so old, it can be pulled almost verbatim from a 200-year-old book. Here it is in Alexis de Tocqueville’s Memoir on Pauperism:

Man, like all socially organized beings, has a natural passion for idleness. There are, however, two incentives to work: the need to live and the desire to improve the conditions of life. Experience has proven that the majority of men can be sufficiently motivated to work only by the first of these incentives. The second is only effective with a small minority. Well, a charitable institution indiscriminately open to all those in need, or a law which gives all the poor a right to public aid, whatever the origin of their poverty, weakens or destroys the first stimulant and leaves only the second intact.

The Liberal backbencher Ewen Jones produced a fresh formulation on this just last month. “Is it better to have someone earning and learning?” he asked. “Or is it better to say to them, ‘There’s your dole, go home, eat Cheezels, get on the Xbox?’”

For the current government, “job snobs” are a modern variation on the idea of “sturdy rogues”, the able-bodied vagrants who resisted work in medieval times. They were contrasted with the genuinely needy “impotent poor”. Despite its information-gathering powers, the government isn’t interested in how many of these largely mythological figures clog Centrelinks around the country.

“There are clearly some job snobs around,” Senator Eric Abetz told Lateline in July. “I’m not going to put a figure on it, but we do need to encourage them, for their own sake, for their own benefit.” The employment minister and others believe the best way to encourage them is through work for the dole, a program that has been shown to be spectacularly ineffective. A study by Melbourne University economists Jeff Borland and Yi-Ping Tseng found the Australian variation actively prevented people from seeking long-term employment, locking them into dead-end positions with limited prospects. Jobseekers in Adelaide have found themselves building dioramas of World War One battlefields for RSL clubs. How they were supposed to market this skill on “graduation” is unclear.

The reality is that the assumptions underpinning work for the dole are not economic, but moral. As former Liberal leader John Hewson told the Saturday Paper, the program “is more about prejudice than it is about policy”.

If you’re a welfare recipient, especially an indigenous one, your obligations are devised to be onerous to the point of humiliation. Recently the Coalition mooted plans to no longer accept “reasonable excuses” for missing an appointment with a job agency. Only “extreme” excuses would do, like a bushfire or the death of an immediate family member. Being mentally ill wasn’t an extreme excuse. Being assaulted was, but only if you were assaulted the day before the interview. “Someone subject to an assault a week before their failure would not have a reasonable excuse,” the Australian reported, as it would not “directly prevent them from meeting their requirement (unless they were still incapacitated as a consequence of the assault)”.

Earlier this year, authorities used armed police in riot gear to remove children deemed at risk from an Aboriginal family. The children were later returned to their parents. The Intervention, a multi-million-dollar, multi-agency effort operating from a framework of new legislation, partly implemented by the military, was put together in just six days. By contrast, simply repairing the water supply of the Aboriginal community of Utopia took more than three months.

The government routinely investigates welfare fraud using powers it originally sought to target terrorism. Centrelink now accesses more personal metadata than any other enforcement agency, more often even than the New South Wales Police Force. It’s a simple procedure: a Centrelink agent fills in a form, gets approval from elsewhere in their department, and is authorised to tap into personal phone records and email history. The subject is not informed.

So far there’s not much evidence welfare fraud is out of control. Between 2006 and 2010, Centrelink conducted an average of 4 million compliance reviews each year, which covered 60% of its “customers”. The yield of cases referred for prosecution was on average 0.04%, or 3192 people. In 2012, fewer than 1500 people were referred for welfare fraud.

The Newstart Allowance, always set well below the poverty line, has now become so low that even groups like the Business Council of Australia say it should be increased. Government has so abandoned the unemployed that even employer groups feel compelled to advocate on their behalf, a situation that may be unique in the developed world. According to the current minister for employment, the ideal environment for a young unemployed person is one in which they apply for 40 jobs per month regardless of how many real vacancies are available, work 25 hours per week on menial tasks, and receive nothing in return for six months in every twelve.

One of the ironies of mutual obligation as it’s now conceived is that the vulnerable receive tough treatment, while the powerful are regarded as delicate, unstable and easily upset.

Humiliating job-seekers is supposed to build their moral character, but even tepid criticism of business might lead to “uncertainty”. Tony Abbott gave his own formulation of this at the Rocklea Markets in Brisbane in 2012, arguing that “government … create[s] the sort of stability and certainty which is necessary for confidence and which, in turn, is necessary for prosperity to grow. Stability breeds confidence. Confidence breeds prosperity.” For individuals, on the other hand, the uncertainty that would come from a six-month period of unemployment with no income was a good thing. It’s this inversion that has allowed the concept of mutual obligation to encompass such glaring disparities.

If employment is a necessary pre-condition of moral citizenship, then employers are not just economic actors, but gateways to social legitimacy. Despite the best efforts of the treasurer, Joe Hockey, the term “job creators” has not made an easy transition from American political rhetoric to ours. But the concept has arrived all the same. Ironically, as global competition makes jobs more contingent and precarious, simply being a for-profit entity has taken on a kind of sanctity among the political class, and a corporation fulfils its social obligations simply by existing – while proper regulation, pursuit over unpaid tax, and even prosecution for criminal acts are painted as threats to the moral order.  That is, if any of these things could “cost jobs”, which they seem always on the verge of doing.

So while the most disadvantaged are being surveilled and constrained like never before, the social contract’s claim on the privileged has rarely been looser.

Multinationals assert their right to government assistance, both direct and indirect, avail themselves of legal systems, infrastructure, political influence and the many other benefits of civil society, and at the same time often assert that they’re not really participants in society at all. In 2009, Apple Sales International’s accounts stated, for example, that “the company is not tax resident in any jurisdiction”. Its average tax rate across all jurisdictions in which it operates is 4%. In Australia, it claims among other things to be a part Bermuda-based, part Singapore-based company selling second-hand Irish electronics. Last year this arrangement let it pay $36.4 million in tax on more than $6 billion in revenues. The then financial services minister, Arthur Sinodinos, “declined to criticise their actions”, according to the Australian.

The American economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is less reserved. There’s an asymmetry, he says, between corporations taking benefits from legislation, subsidy and other government actions, and their willingness to contribute. “That kind of asymmetry is, I would say, understandable, because they’re trying to hide any income. They’re acting on behalf of their shareholders – but, we might say, rob the rest of the society to do it.

“You can see that across the board. Apple in the United States, its very existence almost depends on the internet. Things like the iPhone wouldn’t exist without the internet. And that was created by the government. The company uses American institutional infrastructure, the legal system, the courts – and it doesn’t pay taxes.”

The company now has greater cash reserves than the US government itself. Apple’s huge war chest is the result of an aggressive form of tax minimisation referred to as base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). There are different kinds of tax architecture that multinationals use to pare down their bills, but perhaps most common is a complex system of profit shifting and reporting known as the “Double Irish Dutch Sandwich” technique. Take Google, for example. The billions the tech company earns from advertising in Australia are paid to a company called Google Ireland Limited, which then pays them to a Dutch subsidiary, which then pays the money back to another Irish company. Google is an Irish company, except when it is in Ireland, where it is a Bermudan company.

“I am very proud of the structure that we set up,” Eric Schmidt, the company’s executive chairman, told Bloomberg. “We did it based on the incentives that the governments offered us to operate … It’s called capitalism. We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”

I asked Google’s operations in Australia about its tax arrangements. They expressed less pride in the “structure”, and went back to a familiar line about jobs.

“For financial year 2013 we paid $7.1 million in corporate taxes and $15 million in payroll and other taxes in Australia as part of our investment in a local workforce of over 900 people,” their statement read. “We believe international forums like the OECD are the right place to decide tax rules for multinational businesses because everyone would benefit from a simpler and more transparent system.”

It must be pointed out that if employing people were a legitimate excuse to avoid paying company tax, there would be no such thing as company tax. In Australia, the community has agreed that companies should pay tax, and the rate is set at 30% of profits.

Google also noted, with some justification, that while technology corporations inspire most of the excitement around base erosion, profit shifting and transfer pricing, there are plenty of companies in Australia that pay even less tax than they do. Old-school companies in industry and finance are some of the worst offenders.

According to a Tax Justice Network report, a third of ASX200 companies pay less than 10% tax, while 57% operate subsidiaries in tax havens. Not only does Australia miss out on an estimated $8 billion in annual revenue because of these fudges, but many of those taking the most tight-fisted approach are only too happy to unclench a palm when a government handout is available.

Take James Hardie, still making a strong claim to being one of the worst companies in the world. It has deliberately underfunded a compensation fund for asbestos victims that it was forced by the government to set up (its directors were given minuscule fines as a result). Now the fund is unable to meet its liabilities and will have to draw on a government loan facility to make payments to the dying. James Hardie is now arguing that the payments should be made in instalments. In the past two years, it has paid out $600 million in dividends to its shareholders. In the past ten years, the company has paid an average of $0 in corporate tax. In 2012, it won a tax case against the government, which now owed it $300 million.

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest is the chairman of Fortescue Metals, and the man whose welfare review for the federal government called for “an end to paternalism” while expanding welfare quarantining. In 2011, Fortescue Metals admitted it had never paid corporate tax. “We have not cut a corporate tax cheque to date, no,” was a spokesman’s elegant formulation.

I asked Forrest about his conception of mutual obligation. Even he seemed surprised by how much emphasis the media had placed on the punitive aspects of his report.

“I don’t look at mutual obligation [as] trying to get value for money out of welfare, that is not my purpose … When it comes to welfare, it’s an opportunity for someone to upskill and to become a more valuable member of their community, a more contributing member of their family. There’s an opportunity to grow from that experience.”

I asked him about how people on welfare might come to view their role in the social contract, when they saw highly publicised stories about companies taking research and development tax credits while paying almost no tax. Wasn’t that also a kind of “something for nothing”?

“That’s a hard one, which I’d probably ask Ministers Hockey and Turnbull to turn their minds to. I would suggest that if the Australian government is trying to encourage research, then those companies who do the research have every right to claim it. But if it then leads to artifices which are beyond the spirit of the law, then, yes, I think those companies should be looked at with serious rigour.”

That is happening, at the G20. Google’s dream that these issues be looked at an OECD level has come true. Joe Hockey has been triumphant. “We are determined to improve the integrity of the global tax system by addressing the erosion of our collective tax base through work undertaken by the OECD,” he said, while announcing a Common Reporting Standard for the automatic exchange of financial information. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) itself would be leading one of these new collaborative investigations. Australia would be at the forefront of a new co-operative age of tax collection and transparency, and the twilight of BEPS.

But inside the ATO itself there is a very different impression. The government might be talking tough on tax collection, but its enforcement is weak and getting weaker. When he was still shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey’s main criticism of the ATO was not that it was ineffectual in its collection duties, but that it was “overly aggressive”. It had an “insular and inward-looking culture that has put it at odds with taxpayers”.

“Taxpayers are not the enemy,” he told the National Press Club. “They should be respected.” He mooted a possible break-up of the ATO’s functions, and upon taking government, announced plans to hasten layoffs of 4700 staff over four years. Strangely, for a government that was to renew focus on transfer pricing, the specialist team within the ATO taking aim at multinational tax evasion was disbanded.

The staff cuts were said to be part of Hockey’s deficit-reduction treatment, though that explanation is baffling. Cutting funds to the tax collection arm of government may be the single most inefficient form of austerity there is – each dollar spent on enforcement brings in around six in additional revenue.

So if the rationale isn’t economic, what could it be? “They’re trying,” says Stiglitz, “to give a free ride to rich people.”

The government’s sabotage of its own efforts to go after multinationals caused the normally staid ATO to start leaking in earnest. Senior staff, or former senior staff, describe a transitory, junior bureaucratic culture, where the emphasis is on short, relatively simple investigations, preferably cases that can be cleared in 90 days or less. Often the crudest tactic in company tax avoidance is the most effective: time-wasting.

“There was also an absurd clear-out of senior transfer-pricing staff about two years ago, so there is very little likelihood of the ATO ‘manning-up’ on multinationals any time soon,” an anonymous former tax official told the Fairfax business reporter Michael West. “The best chance of that happening is if the revenue collapses and the government asks the commissioner to explain how that happened.”

To make matters worse, the nation’s big accountancy firms have skimmed off the best of the ATO’s former staff, turning them from gamekeepers into poachers. Armed with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the ATO, their clients have become more adept at disguising their moves.

It’s not just compliance and enforcement that’s the issue. In practice, the government has offered no policy response to reduce corporate tax avoidance. Despite Hockey’s belligerent talk about tackling the problem, the government has no legislative agenda to rein in tax avoidance, other than to water down measures introduced by the previous government. Having opposed the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, Hockey seems to be pinning his hopes on brokering a unanimous, comprehensive and enforceable agreement at the G20.

The ATO is not totally toothless, though. In July it used a combination of big data techniques and coercive powers to commence a new hunt for tax evaders. “This data matching program will assist the ATO to identify taxpayers that may be operating outside the taxation and superannuation systems,” said ATO Assistant Commissioner Darryl Richardson.

He was talking about the Music Industry Royalty Payments Data Matching Program. The taxpayers “outside the system” were musicians.

Joe Hockey has earnt a reputation as being sympathetic to high finance. “Around the big banks and financial services industry – they love him,” the writer Joe Aston told the treasurer’s biographer. Hockey’s legacy of a tax-enforcement regime that’s both more enervated and collegial looks like it will cement that loving relationship.

The chasm between how the government treats the most powerful and the rest of us does not apply only to tax affairs. Consider the record of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Australia’s chief corporate regulator. Like other Western enforcement agencies, its response to the global financial crisis was to do almost nothing. In the five-year period up to February 2014, it prosecuted just 32 insider-trading cases. It boasts failed or non-existent prosecutions in some of the biggest episodes of fraud and collapse in Australian corporate history, among them Securency, Banksia Securities, LM Investment Management, Storm Financial, RAMS and the AWB scandal.

Most recently, it refused to press charges against former Trio Capital executive Jack Flader, claiming it would be “irresponsible”. Flader is the mastermind of the largest superannuation fraud in Australian history; Trio collapsed in 2009, with executives stealing at least $180 million. Government paid the jilted investors $54 million in compensation. It took ASIC three years to interview Flader, leading the Sydney Morning Herald to describe him as a “poster boy for regulator indifference”.

Even in the mundane paperwork it oversees, ASIC itself concludes there is an “unacceptably high level of non-compliance with the financial reporting obligations by administrators of insolvent public companies”. Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting failed to lodge its annual financial reports on time for seven years. Not only were “reasonable excuses” acceptable, no excuses were necessary. With that kind of attitude to filing forms, Rinehart could find herself in trouble if she’s ever unemployed.

Budget cuts to ASIC are unlikely to improve this situation: 12% in 2014 alone, $120 million in the next five years. Almost 200 of its barely 1800 staff will be laid off. Again the excuse was budgetary, but the animus was openly ideological. In May, the parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, Steven Ciobo, told a post-budget breakfast that “the government thinks that there is scope for the financial services industry, and for all the other industries, to self-regulate more … There will always be (as a general statement of principle) our preference for self-regulation over the need to have a regulator [that is] taxpayer funded.” In response, ASIC admitted that it might be unable to perform its most basic consumer protection functions.

Chairman Greg Medcraft has made some disquieting comments. In 2013, he told a forum that experience has taught him “disclosure doesn’t work, in many cases”, that auditing often does more to hide corruption than expose it, and that “we can’t have cops on every street corner”. More recently, he said that Australia is a “paradise” for white-collar crime and that penalties are “not strong enough, not tough enough”. In June this year, a Senate inquiry concluded that, even accounting for ASIC’s limited powers and resources, “it appears to miss or ignore clear and persistent early warning signs of corporate wrongdoing or troubling”.

Hence, presumably, the new emphasis on self-regulation. It’s a philosophy that works in many ways, and has long been supported within ASIC. For instance, a secretive secondment program brings external corporate lawyers into the bosom of ASIC’s operations. James Wheeldon, a whistleblower who worked with the regulator on fee disclosure before he left in 2005, describes the process as “tainted by corruption”. Not only was his advice routinely ignored in favour of the interests of big banks and super funds, but he was also asked to take instruction from a lawyer on secondment from the fund manager MLC. The lawyer was helping to prepare ASIC’s response to a lobbying submission from MLC. He had helped to draft the original submission, and was now writing part of his own reply.

Nothing symbolises ASIC’s comical misallocation of resources better than the way it now conducts raids. Usually it doesn’t conduct them at all, and the most high-profile bust of 2013 wasn’t on a house or an office, or even a building. It was a tent, the abode of activist Jonathan Moylan, who sent out a hoax press release, ostensibly from ANZ, as part of an environmental campaign against Whitehaven coal. Investigators raided his campsite, seized his computer and phone, and quickly put together a criminal prosecution.

Compare that to what happened during the Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning scandal, where predatory advisers scammed an unknown number of customers out of millions of dollars. ASIC was handed evidence of widespread criminality by internal sources – it responded with a year of paralysis. Then, instead of prosecution or investigation, it reached a “settlement” with the bank, a compensation package that amounted to a fraction of the amount taken. The CBA apologised for its “defensiveness” on the issue, which included having consumer advocates tailed by private security firms, inducing the defrauded not to do media interviews, promoting advisers (including the infamous Don Nguyen) who had forged signatures, and giving huge bonuses to the executives who oversaw the toxic divisions. It claimed a “small number” of customers had been given “poor advice”. This number was later revised to a possible 400,000.

After all this, ASIC praised the CBA for its “co-operative and consultative approach”. The CBA explained that it had promoted Nguyen in 2008 so he would be “subject to higher levels of supervision”.

It’s this kind of behaviour that shows the illusory nature of the social contract that mutual obligation is supposed to be based on. The CBA isn’t exactly a rugged free-marketeer. Deemed too big to fail, it benefits from an effective subsidy estimated to be as much as $4.5 billion a year. The government rushed to guarantee the bank’s loans during the financial crisis, and funnels billions in compulsory superannuation its way every year. The minimum expectation in return is that it avoids rampant fraud. It can’t, and even the expectation that this criminality might be punished looks pathetically naive.

“I want a regulator that is feared, not a wimpy group of bureaucrats,” said Nationals Senator John Williams, a key figure in the Senate inquiry into ASIC’s failings, and almost alone in the Coalition in making such criticisms. More representative of his party-mates is Senator David Bushby, chair of the Coalition Economics Committee. Bushby absented himself from Senate hearings where the victims of CBA scams gave evidence. He then produced the sole dissenting report from the inquiry, which otherwise called for a royal commission. Part of his reasoning was emotional. A commission “could protract the emotional strains on victims of malpractice over a longer time period, without the advantage of offering additional remedies beyond those that are already being worked through”. Unwilling to listen to the victims, he was happy to speak on their behalf.

Bushby also stressed the importance of waiting for the outcome of the banking inquiry headed by David Murray, while also suggesting that the banks had learnt their lesson. This dissent, six pages in a 547-page report, was taken up by both Tony Abbott and the finance minister, Mathias Cormann.

The truth is that the banks have learnt their lesson: they know that the people supposed to hold them to account will believe almost anything they say. No matter how many times regulators, judges, politicians or even sections of the media encounter fraud and wrongdoing, it seems a fresh shock every time.

After evidence of endemic fraud, ASIC still trusted the CBA to run the compensation program itself with no oversight, and was so credulous about the CBA’s claims that it cribbed material from the bank for its own submission to the Senate inquiry. Full of lies, it had to be pulled and amended.

“I think it is fair to say that the level of trust and confidence was misplaced by us,” said the ASIC chairman.

The response from the financial industry itself was robustly frank.

“No shit,” wrote John Addis, the director of Intelligent Investor Share Advisor.

Limiting the ban on one of Australia’s most disgraced businessmen to seven years, Administrative Appeals Tribunal member Geri Ettinger said: “I am mindful that there is no allegation that Mr Nguyen engaged in dishonest conduct.” His document-forging was never mentioned.

“The CFP [Commonwealth Financial Planning] outcome reverberated around the financial advice industry,” said Greg Medcraft, as he gravely delivered a slap on the wrist, “and sent a very clear message that ASIC is deadly serious about lifting standards.” The only reverberation was from laughter.

Another Senate inquiry, pushed by the Greens and lacking the support of the government, will examine large-scale tax evasion. There will be well-meaning declarations made at G20. But within the ATO, few expect significant changes. Now the emphasis isn’t on enforcement but “settlement”, avoiding litigation in secret. Not threatening any jobs. More like an agreement among friends.

That suits the government. You might call it a “general statement of principle”. Besides, their attention is elsewhere. is running stories on scam welfare recipients again. Under the headline, ‘It’s so easy to fudge a bludge: Online guides used to con doctors into giving out disability support pensions’, the yarn outlines how web forum users share information about how to maintain benefits.

On the web forums themselves, most people are trying to figure out how to get by. “If you do a bit of volunteer work, a bit of study, do some part-time work, you cut your own throat,” wrote one “con artist”. That’s apparently one of the more common kinds of scam among the disabled – trying to work.

Joe Hockey breaches Charter of Budget Honesty

Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has breached the Charter of Budget Honesty by failing to publish the latest Intergenerational Report on time.

In a further sign the government is distracted by internal chaos, the Treasurer has not met the timeframe to publish the report within five years of the last one, despite a legislated requirement to do so.

The Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998 requires that Intergenerational Reports be publicly released and tabled within five years of the preceding report, and the last report was released by Treasurer Wayne Swan on February 1 2010, and tabled in both houses of parliament on February 3 2010

The deadline to publish the most recent report passed on Tuesday this week.

The missed deadline comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott continues to stare down a backbench revolt over his leadership, and as the Treasurer received a tongue-lashing this week from his state colleague and Liberal WA Premier Colin Barnett, who partly blamed him for Mr Abbott’s poor ratings as leader.

“I don’t think the Treasurer’s done a great job and that last budget was flawed and therefore the leader ends up wearing it,” Mr Barnett told Perth radio 96fm on Tuesday.

“But look, at the end of the day, Australia voted for Tony Abbott to be prime minister.”

Mr Hockey’s office said the IGR was a “priority for the government” but admitted it had not been released within the required timeframe.

“The release of the IGR is a priority for the government. It is a vital social forecasting document,” the spokeswoman said.

“However, it is a complex modelling task. Getting the data right is the most important thing. The latest economic data was only released via the September Quarter National Accounts in early December and MYEFO in mid-December last year.

“We will be releasing it very soon.”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has jumped on the missed deadline, saying Mr Hockey ought to release the report immediately.

“Basic processes are grinding to a halt as Coalition infighting and self-interest dogs the Abbott government,” Mr Bowen said.

“It is simply unacceptable for the Treasurer to be in flagrant breach of the law.”

The government’s intergenerational reports are used to assess the longterm sustainability of current government policies over the next 40 years, including by taking account of the financial implications of demographic change.

There are no civil or criminal penalties for failing to comply with the Charter of Budget Honesty.

Who pays if Hockey loses? Joe Hockey defamation case: Fairfax Media calls for documents regarding Treasurer’s involvement in North Sydney Forum as part of defamation case

Fairfax Media is defending a defamation case brought by Treasurer Joe Hockey, pictured, saying it was reasonable to publish details about the North Sydney Forum, which allegedly offered access to Mr Hockey in exchange for donations.

Fairfax Media has called on a Sydney Liberal Party fundraising forum to provide all documents regarding any involvement by federal Treasurer Joe Hockey in its activities as part of the defamation action brought by Mr Hockey.

The Treasurer is suing Fairfax for defamation in the Federal Court, claiming a series of articles published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times last year conveyed a series of defamatory meanings, including that he “accepted bribes paid to influence the decisions he made as Treasurer”.

Among the articles was a front-page story in May last year that carried the headline “Treasurer for sale”, about Mr Hockey’s alleged involvement in a Liberal Party Fundraising group known as the North Sydney Forum.

Fairfax is defending the case, saying it was reasonable to publish details about the North Sydney Forum, which allegedly offered access to Mr Hockey in exchange for donations to the forum of thousands of dollars, as it was information concerning government and political matters

The Federal Court heard on Wednesday that Fairfax has issued the North Sydney Forum with a subpoena effectively requesting any and all documents relating to Mr Hockey’s involvement in its activities, as well as documents about the activities of the forum more generally.

The subpoena includes a request for any documents relating to:

  • Any involvement by Mr Hockey in the establishment of the North Sydney Forum.
  • Any involvement by Mr Hockey in the forum’s fundraising activities between 2009 and May last year.
  • Any policy directive that the identity of members of the forum should be kept secret.
  • The use of funds by the forum, including any involvement by Mr Hockey in these decisions.
  • The process by which the National Australia Bank, the Financial Services Council, Restaurant and Catering Australia, Servcorp, Metcash and Australian Water Holdings allegedly became members of the forum, and
  • The alleged return of North Sydney Forum membership fees to Australian Water Holdings and any involvement by Mr Hockey in this alleged process.

It is possible that the forum will object to at least part of the subpoena, but it is yet to formally do so.

The court also heard on Wednesday that Mr Hockey has issued a subpoena to Pagemasters – the company which undertakes some sub-editing work for Fairfax Media.

It is understood that Mr Hockey is requesting all communications between Fairfax Media and Pagemasters in relation to the allegedly defamatory stories.

Mr Hockey is claiming that, as a result of articles published on May 5 under the headline “Treasurer for sale” he has been “greatly injured, shunned and avoided and his reputation has been and will be brought into disrepute, odium, ridicule and contempt”.

But Fairfax Media denies the articles and the headlines, including “Treasurer for sale”, are capable of defaming Mr Hockey in the way that he claims.

Further, it says the Australian public has a legitimate and significant interest in the implications of senior government ministers using the authority of their position to assist in fund-raising for a political party.

Mr Hockey said Fairfax Media’s “over-sensational, extravagant and unfair presentation” of the articles indicated an “intent to injure” him.

He is claiming aggravated damages, interest and costs.

Fairfax Media says the articles were based upon information obtained responsibly and fairly.

On Wednesday, Federal Court Registrar Michael Wall gave the North Sydney Forum until January 30 to formally object to the subpoena issued by Fairfax and ordered the parties to return to court on February 4.

Now, If I Say It, It must Be True, Because Liberals Never Lie. And You Can Trust Me On That Because I Said It!


BARRIE CASSIDY: Sure, but do you accept climate change potentially is one of the biggest impediments to growth?

JOE HOCKEY: No. No, I don’t. Absolutely not .

Well, I guess we can just accept that Joe Hockey could be right on this one. After all, climate change could lead to a lot of floods, fires and other devastation. This should be a real pick-me-up for the building industry, shouldn’t it? Impediment to economic growth? I don’t think so.

It’s just a shame that it’s still unclear that the climate even exists, let alone that man could have any effect on it. After all, we’ve been dumping stuff in the ocean for years and, in spite of what that upstart President from the USA has to say, the Barrier Reef is doing just fine, thank you.

As for those ABC cuts, well I think they’ve been well and truly dealt with. As Mr Turnbull implied, while Mr Abbott may have said no cuts to the ABC, the SBS and no changes to pensions, there was no reason to think that he was speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party. Or, indeed, was there any reason to think that he had the authority to deviate from the policies that had been so clearly spelt out by IPA prior to the election.

Of course, all these critics who are complaining (wrongly, of course) that Abbott changed his mind on the ABC, had no problem when he went against his election commitment on pensions. He clearly said they’re be “NO CHANGES TO PENSIONS”  in the same interview. Yet, in spite of the fact that the intention was to eliminate all future rises, the government is still allowing some indexation, albeit at a lower rate. We didn’t hear a whimper out of the left on that one!

Now, to quote Scott Morrison from last week:

“And as former president Yudhoyono said, in advice to Australia, you’ve got to take the sugar off the table, and that’s what we’re doing.”

He pointed out that they were “taking the sugar off the table” so many times in that interview that I decided it must be some sort of metaphor and not simply a way off helping Joe to keep his weight down to somewhere near his IQ. A friend helpfully suggested that the metaphor was about making the table less attractive to ants.

“So, the asylum seekers are being compared to ants. What’s the table?”

“The table is Australia.”

“I see. I guess that means that the sugar is what makes Australia appealing. Affordable healthcare, a living wage and the Great Barrier Reef.”

So, I see it all now. Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb are right. The Liberals know what they’re doing with their Reef management. They’re taking the sugar off the table.

Silly old Obama. As if we want foreigners coming over here, telling us what to do. (And don’t say that Tony and Matthias are foreigners – that’s just racist – they’re as Australian as Anzac Biscuits with Vegemite!)

     *                   *                    *

Peter Reith just wrote that he found it hard to believe that Labor would win this week’s Victorian election, in spite of the polls having them “slightly ahead” (on average, at 54-46%). It defied “common sense” according to Mr Reith.

This morning, Victoria’s Treasurer announced that – a few weeks ago – the Liberals signed a contract for the East-West Link which would entitle the consortium to over a billion dollars, even if Labor kept their election promise and didn’t build it OR the councils opposing it blocked it in Court.

Why did they sign a contract with such a big penalty clause so close to an election?

I guess it was just common sense!

Thank God for the Lord John Lord somebody needs to make sense of this lot.

Foot in mouth

I recently read an article by Miranda Divine titled ‘Why the Libs are Ruddy marvelous’. It outlines the academic qualifications of government members. It is truly impressive. They must be the brainiest bunch to have ever graced our parliament.

“For starters, there are three Rhodes Scholars: Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Angus Taylor. Two more ministers have degrees from Oxford University: George Brandis QC, and Josh Frydenberg, who has the added distinction of a master’s degree from Harvard. Two other MPs also have master’s degrees from Harvard, among the seven MBAs, two MPAs and four PhDs on the government benches. Two more have masters of philosophy from Cambridge. Fulbright scholar Greg Hunt has an MA from Yale. Former WA treasurer Christian Porter has an impressive four degrees. And he’s a backbencher”.

And it doesn’t end there. Read this. She of course failed to mention that it is essentially a men’s club. Or that Brandis cannot use a computer.

Now let’s look at what a Queens College Oxford education has done for our Prime Minister:

“We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice”.

“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia”.

“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss”.

“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.

Statements like the aforementioned (often embedded with religious intent)) are devoid of social empathy and are reflective of thinking that has been influenced by notions of dim-witted superiority. They are the words of a ruler not a leader. They are an indictment of both Abbott and his ministry.

They are statements of the uncaring, the intellectually barren, the cerebraly deficient, the privileged and the narcissistic elitist.

Of the born to rule with ideals of grandeur.

We are experiencing something very unique in Australian politics. A belief that lying has approval, that deception and misleading words will and can persuade the electorate to your view. A belief that there are enough people so politically naive that they will believe you. And that’s the majority of Australians.

It’s straight out of the Conservative Tea Party Handbook. This is deliberate ‘’foot in mouth disease’’ with intentional consequences. There is a pattern and they have been persuaded it works.

“Of course I would have read The Gonski Report had the dog not eaten it”.

Christopher Pyne.

Tony Abbott. Prime Minister. “I will shirtfront Putin”. “Coal is good for humanity”.

George Brandis. Attorney General.People have a right to be bigots”.

Eric Abetz Employment Minister. “Abortion causes breast cancer”.

Christopher Pyne. Minister for Education. “Uni fee hikes wont impact women because they don’t study expensive degrees like law or dentistry”.

Mathias Cormann. Finance Minister.Bill Shorten is an economic girlie-man”.

The Right’s right to be wrong

Has anyone else noticed the ever increasing drift from reality those famous bed-partners – the Coalition and the Murdoch media – have settled comfortably into? They also have some absurd idea that this new, fabulous paradise is all that exists.

Joe Hockey for example. He repeatedly bellowed that the age of entitlement was over, and followed up with a budget that showed us that the age of entitlement is of course over, except for those who are entitled to it.

Miranda Devine lives there too. ‘The Left’s race to call us all bigots

No Bigots here



Maybe Ms Devine hasn’t been reading the very paper she writes for,let’s take a random look at what her newspaper – and other media outlets – have been saying:

# Young filmmaker Kamal Saleh is optimistic for the future of Australia after his social experiment on Islamophobia but says discrimination remains an issue in the community.

# Five threatening letters delivered to Muslim businesses and ­groups in Lakemba are being investigated by police, with more incidents believed to be going unreported. Campsie crime manager detective Inspector Paul ­Albury said the material was offensive and would be to anybody in the community. “It’s degrading, disgusting and derogatory to people and their religion,” he said.

# Last week, after Bernardi’s comments, I was interviewed by the ABC for an explanatory article on the burqa, the niqab, and my choice of garment, the hijab, which covers only a woman’s hair, neck and shoulders. Bizarrely, when posted by the ABC on Facebook, the article received more comments than the ABC’s reports on the anti-terror raids themselves. The comments section is sobering reading for anyone with any doubts about the perniciousness of Islamophobia in Australia.

# Australia has emerged as a fertile environment for Islamophobia. Stereotypical representations of Muslims in the early years of the “War on Terror” – which linked terrorism, violence and Islam – gained wide currency by the mid-2000s. Sections of the news media, politicians and social media have re-activated these stereotypes. Muslim Australians are made to feel they are targets – for everything from the everyday racism encountered in schools and on the streets, to draconian counter-terrorism legislation that restricts civil liberties, to war and the preparations for war.

# In the contemporary socio-political context of Australia, Islamophobia continues to be haunted by the cycle of moral panics around the Muslim “Other.”

# Tony Abbott has been urged to speak out more strongly against Islamophobia in Australia following reports of mosques being defaced, women verbally abused on the street and death threats issued to Muslim figures. Community leaders have said they are deeply worried that Australia’s mission against Islamic State (Isis) and recent anti-terrorism raids are fuelling attacks against Muslims in Australia.

# The waves of abuse on social media has also highlighted how open bigotry has become, as if the disgust around the Islamic State has given a free pass to intolerance.

# Many Muslim women, say Ms Kay and other community members, are fearful of going out and many won’t venture far beyond their homes. Ahmed Kilani, editor of website, says some are now questioning whether Australia is still a safe and tolerant society. “My own mother rang me yesterday,” Mr Kilani told SBS, “with concern about what’s going, she said, ‘I don’t feel safe and secure.’ She made the comment to me that despite living here for 40 years which is a lot longer than she lived in Egypt. She said perhaps I need to consider moving back there and questioned whether I should go and get myself a dual citizenship in case things get really bad.” Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has called for calm, saying, “Muslim Australians are entitled to a fair go and to be treated with respect and there is simply no place for this kind of bigotry and this kind of criminal behaviour.”

The Daily Telegraph – the very paper Ms Devine works for – even published an article titled ‘Incidents of Islamophobia‘.

I’m baffled that Ms Devine finds it necessary not only to blame the Left for Islamophobia in this country – then announces that it doesn’t exist here anyway – yet works in an industry (and a newspaper) that keeps telling us how rampant it is.

If I may borrow an old adage: who makes this shit up?

The drift from reality is almost complete. She is quickly catching up to Joe Hockey



Professor John Mathews and Hao Tan pointed out in their research

“latest target is that renewables will have a capacity of 550 gigawatts — over half a trillion watts — by the year 2017. We calculate that this will exert a major impact in China — enhancing energy security; reducing emissions pollution; and reducing carbon emissions .… If it can reach its 2017 target of 550 GW renewables, we calculate that this would translate into a saving of 45% on current imports of coal, oil and natural gas.”

Added to this, the price of coal dropping, largely due to oversupply and import tariff  thereby lowering profit. Coal production costs will put an enormous strain on mines.

Our biggest client for coal and gas is Japan. After Fukushima, Japan has become more wary of nuclear power and, as such, will rely, in the short term, on importing coal and gas from Australia — amongst others. Abbott last week opened a Japanese/Australian partnered mine. However Japan has plans to go renewable as well 20% by 2020 All this accompanied by divestment  is  highly negative portent for the industry.

Joe and Tony, “the fossil fuel ride is over”, it’s time you recognised that.

Australia was noted in the 60’s for it’s equality. A classless society one proud of the “fair go” offered to each of us. That’s changed and this government is determined to widen the gap.

14 October 2014, 6.19am AEDT

Do Australians still believe in the fair go? Views on pay suggest not

 Which country favours the biggest pay gap?

The United States was not the country in which people saw the largest gap between CEO and worker as ideal. The identity of that country might come as a surprise.

It was not Germany or Japan or France. It was Australia. We thought the ideal ratio of CEO pay to worker pay would be 8.3.

Not only did Australians approve of the largest gap between CEO and worker, we did so by a fair margin. Here, in order, are the countries seeing the largest pay gaps as ideal:

Kiatpongsan and Norton/Harvard Business School, Chulalongkorn University

The “gap” between Australia at 8.3 and the second place-getter – the US – is 1.6. This is more than twice the “gap” (0.7) between the US and fifth-placed Japan.

By a significant margin Australians are, it seems, most accepting of a large pay gap between those at the top and those at the bottom. This is certainly very different from the image of Australia as a highly egalitarian country.

In The Lucky Country (published in 1964), Donald Horne described Australia as “the most egalitarian of countries” where “most people earn within a few pounds of the average”. Although Horne acknowledged there were still some forms of inequality, he expressed the belief these would fade with time. For Horne, Australia was above all a place that valued egalitarianism.

What’s become of our fabled egalitarianism?

Now, 50 years later, we are the country (at least of those surveyed) most accepting of big differences in pay between those at the bottom and those at the top. What has happened? Is it possible that in the last half-century we have in our values gone from being “the most egalitarian of countries” to the least, or one of the least, egalitarian?A few possible answers to these questions might be considered

So it remains unclear why Australians are accepting of such large pay differences between those at the top and the rest. Is it possible we just no longer believe in the fair go? Let alone know the reality of those differences and how incorrect those beliefs are.

Pravda’s Andrew Bolt compares Abbott to Pol Pot and Hitler. …..” the most blatant example of shit-faced ignorance and pig-headed arrogance”

Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin

Pravda writer compares Abbott to Hitler, Pol Pot

Mr Abbott’s comments have prompted another scathing rebuke from Russian newspaper Pravda.

In an email exchange with the ABC’s AM program, Pravda journalist Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey said Mr Abbott’s comments were “the most blatant example of shit-faced ignorance and pig-headed arrogance the world has seen since the likes of Hitler or Pol Pot”.

Bancroft-Hinchey was speaking after penning an editorial for Pravda, in which he wrote of Mr Abbott that: “It is difficult to find a more blatant example of childishness, incompetence for the position, criminal intent, downright nastiness and an indication of a disturbed mind crying out for therapy. Don’t the Australian people deserve better?”.

Pravda is historically associated with the Russian Communist party and was an official government mouthpiece during the Soviet era.

“While I do not speak for President Putin, if someone ‘shirtfronted’ me, then I would throw the perpetrator over my shoulder, slam him onto his back on the floor behind me, place my boot on his face and ask ‘What was that you were saying?’ before I saw him scurry away snivelling to his sister’s for a clean pair of Y-fronts,” Bancroft-Hinchey wrote.

Treasurer Joe Hockey, speaking in London where he had been holding preparatory meetings for the G20, said he would not get into commentary about the words used by the Prime Minister, but said his comments echoed the “deep-seated anger across the Australian community about what happened to the 38 poor souls who were Australians that died on the Malaysian plane”.

“I think the Prime Minister is reflecting the anger and understandable emotion of many Australians about what happened,” Mr Hockey said.

Earlier a spokesman from the Russian embassy in Canberra described Mr Abbott’s comments as “immature”.

Alexander Odoevskiy said the comments were indicative of the fact that “Russian/Australian relations are at historic low”.

Thirty-eight Australian citizens and residents were among the 298 passengers and crew killed when MH17 went down on July 17 over territory held by Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev and the West have accused the Moscow-backed separatists of shooting down the jet with a surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia.

Moscow denied the charge and pointed the finger at Kiev.

Mr Peskov said in Russia’s view, the investigation into the tragedy “is not active and effective enough”.

He said “lots of data” from Ukrainian air traffic control had not been submitted to the investigators.

Russia, he said, insisted that this data was submitted.

Australia a laggard rather than leader on climate change, says Wayne Swan Former treasurer says there is ‘genuine dismay’ on global stage at the lack of attention given to climate issues on G20 agenda

Wayne Swan

“Inevitably, though, having made such pains of ourselves insisting on the G20 as the steering room of the global economy, the expectations on Australia in its host year are enormous.”

Australia has “gone from lifter to leaner” on action against climate change, and must not block the topic’s inclusion on the agenda for the G20 summit in Brisbane next month, the former treasurer Wayne Swan will say.

When asked about climate change in February the prime minister said:

“We do not want to clutter up the G20 agenda with every worthy and important cause because if we do, we will squander the opportunity to make a difference in the vital area of economic growth.”

But Swan, the Labor treasurer from 2007 to 2013, says climate change previously sat at the core of the G20 agenda “not just as an environmental issue but as a core issue of sustainable economic growth”.

“In the corridors of Washington, Berlin and elsewhere, there is genuine dismay about the lack of attention to climate change in the G20 agenda,” he says.

Referring to the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme, which has since been abolished by the Abbott government, Swan says: “Australia has been recognised around the world as an energy-intensive nation and a beneficiary of significant commodity exports, for taking seriously its international obligations to reduce its carbon emissions.”

“At best, Australia has gone from leader to laggard on climate change,”

Swan says.

“At worst, it’s gone from lifter to leaner. This is at the very time significant players like the US and China are more willing than ever to address climate change, and international financial institutions like the IMF are highlighting the strong links between climate change action and positive economic outcomes

Mining companies are campaigning for the G20 to support continued use of coal as a solution to the global “energy poverty” crisis.

Abbott said on Monday coal should not be demonised because it was “good for humanity”.

On Tuesday the treasurer, Joe Hockey, dismissed the finding that Australia was the highest per-capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the OECD.

Another Nobel Prize winner is challenging Abbott/Hockey Economics. Has the Nobel board gone a little crazy it’s Tony/Joe not Gillard /Swan

An inconvenient truth countered by a blatant liar: Hockey denies Australia is dirtiest greenhouse gas emitter in OECD

Nobel Prize for economics challenges Hockeynomics

The newly awarded Nobel Prize for economics challenges Joe Hockey’s voodoo economics prescription for Australian economic growth, writes Alan Austin.

THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR ECONOMICS announced yesterday bolsters the campaign for better industry regulation in Australia.

The prestigious award – officially, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences – went to Professor Jean Tirole of the Toulouse School of Economics in France. It recognises his work on how poorly regulated corporations operate to the community’s detriment. And how the problems can be fixed.

Drawing attention to industry regulation is timely for Australia as the Abbott Government strives to wind back regulation brought in by previous administrations, but with little success.

Tirole’s analysis of corporate market power has shown how big companies damage the communities in which they operate. And also how they may be regulated to everyone’s advantage. He believes different industries require quite different regulation.

The Academy noted that Tirole’s work not only described the negative outcomes of regulation failure, but recommended specific responses:

‘The best regulation or competition policy should therefore be carefully adapted to every industry’s specific conditions. In a series of articles and books, Jean Tirole has presented a general framework for designing such policies and applied it to a number of industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking. Drawing on these new insights, governments can better encourage powerful firms to become more productive and, at the same time, prevent them from harming competitors and customers.’

The French Government, however, is delighted.

Spokesman Stéphane Le Foll said:

‘The Nobel Academy making this award is also a reflection of the absolute necessity in today’s crisis that we have regulation and mechanisms for stability. We must not just leave management of the economy to the free market.’

Will the global discussion this award is generating engage hapless Treasurer Joe Hockey and the Abbott Government?

Clearly, the mindless mantras he mouthed before the 2013 election have not materialised into benefits for Australia’s businesses or people.

Hockey promised this:

‘Reducing the burden of taxes and regulation, ensuring fair and competitive markets, and reducing the size of government will boost business investment and spending. And from investment and spending will come growth and jobs.’

The Abbott Government then undertook a highly visible exercise in deregulation with its Autumn Repeal Day last March — the first of two promised every year. The Government boasted that 10,000 regulations and acts would be removed from the statute books.

So what has been the result? How much better is the economy now performing?

It is, in fact, performing much worse. In the 13 months since Hockey became treasurer, business confidence has slumped, the value of the all ordinaries on the Australian Stock Exchange has fallen, consumer confidence has collapsed, the Aussie dollar is at the lowest level since 2010, inflation is up from 2.4% to 3.0% and rising, unemployment is at the highest level in a decade and government debt has blown out by $39 billion – up 22%.

The failure to regulate appropriately, Tirole shows, risks not just weaker company profits and a poorer community, but another financial crisis:

‘The gradual lowering of regulatory standards predated the recent crisis. To be sure, other developments such as “irrational exuberance,” loose monetary policy, and global macroeconomic imbalances also contributed to the crisis. But underregulation or ineffective regulation is rightly blamed for playing a central role in the crisis.’

Much of the world is now listening to Jean Tirole. Which is just as well.

But is Joe Hockey?


“The nation’s most senior economic leader has embarrassed himself on international TV over a fact most school students would know,”

Joe Hockey

Joe Hockey ridicules suggestion Australia is among top emitters

Treasurer rejects ‘ridiculous’ comment from interviewer, despite Australia topping OECD per capita rankings

Joe Hockey has ridiculed a suggestion that Australia is one of highest emitters of greenhouse gases in the OECD, despite the fact that it does top the OECD rankings of greenhouse gases per capita.

“The comment you just made is absolutely ridiculous,” the treasurer said in an interview with the BBC when it was suggested to him that Australia was among “the dirtiest, most greenhouse gas-emitting countries in the OECD group of developed countries”.

“We’ve got a small population and very large land mass and we are an exporter of energy, so that measurement is a falsehood in a sense because it does not properly reflect exactly what our economy is,” Hockey said.

“Australia is a significant exporter of energy and, in fact, when it comes to coal we produce some of the cleanest coal, if that term can be used, the cleanest coal in the world.”

The latest OECD greenhouse gas emissions index, released in January, ranks Australia as the highest emitter per capita, with Luxembourg second, followed by the US and Canada.

Luxembourg reaches such a high position on the list because its low fuel taxes mean motorists from neighbouring countries drive over the border to fill up their cars. The study found Australia emitted nearly 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in 2010.

Emissions released during the process of mining coal and gas are counted towards Australia’s total, but the emissions when the fossil fuels are exported and burned are counted in the country that buys them.

So-called fugitive emissions from mining have been the fastest growing source of Australian emissions in recent years, according to the national greenhouse gas inventory, but still account for only about 8% of Australia’s total.

Australia also lags when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the past two decades, according to the OECD data.

Of the 34 nations, only Chile, Mexico, Korea and Turkey have increased their emissions more than Australia since 1990, while the UK, France, Germany and Italy all achieved cuts in that time.

The shadow environment spokesman, Mark Butler, said what was really ridiculous was “that Australia’s treasurer doesn’t know this about Australia”.

“The nation’s most senior economic leader has embarrassed himself on international TV over a fact most school students would know,” Butler said.

Hockey angered conservationists in May when he said he found the wind farms he passed when driving between Canberra and Sydney “utterly offensive” and a “blight on the landscape.”

Last month he clarified that it had been a comment about “aesthetics”.

“I drive from Sydney to Canberra on Sundays to go to parliament and I just look at those wind farms around Lake George and I’m just appalled at a beautiful landscape ruined,” he said.

“Just for all the ‘greenies’ in the audience, if they built a huge coal-fired power station there, I would be equally appalled. So, it’s just an aesthetic view.”

Santos and Illuka ” not ethical investments is a bizarre decision,” Suggests he is unaware and needs information. Slippery as an eel.

Christopher Pyne

Education Minister Christopher Pyne describes ANU decision to ditch mining company investments as ‘bizarre’

“For one of [our] leading research institutions to come out and publicly attack them, with no opportunity to respond, does seem not just bizarre, but is quite outrageous behaviour and of course the Government is watching this.”

Minister not just one but the best of our universities. It’s so far in advance of where you came from, Adelaide. It has made a 5% portfolio change and your throwing fuel on what was a damp match. Do you deserve your position Minister? Your Party obviously doesn’t operate as a team or you would have shut the wannabe heard,Jamie BriggsMP down, oops!!

Reputational problems only exist when things are fueled and sure enough between you and Briggs that is now burning. But what a coincidence this is going to be put down to Joe. It is Joe’s fault. Shit his autobiography did create a stir didn’t it so much so he seems as popular as Peter Slipper now. Tony really does want Joe Hockey politically dead.

“A university like ANU invests its funds for the betterment of its stakeholders, our staff, our students, our alumni,” Professor Young said

“Just a like a super fund needs to respond to what its investors want, a university like ours needs to respond to those stakeholders.”

“We actually developed a socially responsible investment policy, modelled on the policy of Stamford University, one of the leaders in this area,” he said.

This is one of the universities you modeled  the current changes on. Andrew Bolt seriously hates these subsidized institutions filled and run by the Socialist Left he wants to be on the board as he never made it past first year.

Professor Young said the university had been overwhelmed by the positive response from the community on its new investment policy.

“It’s been very eye opening for me to see the volume of support that the university as received from people right across the country,” he said.

Student group Fossil Free ANU were supportive of the policy, but urged the vice-chancellor to go further by committing to full fossil fuel divestment.


Joe Hockey “the bully” had called on the university to reconsider its decision to jettison investment in seven companies

Joe Hockey

Coalition accused of ‘bullying’ ANU after criticism of fossil fuel divestment

Joe Hockey the invisible man had called on the university to reconsider its decision to jettison investment in seven companies

The government has been accused of bullying the Australian National University, after Joe Hockey criticised it for divesting from a number of fossil fuel companies.

“I would suggest they’re removed from the reality of what is helping to drive the Australian economy and create more employment,” Hockey told the Australian Financial Review.

Tim Buckley, former head of equity research at Citigroup and now head of the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said ANU was being “bullied” by the government over its stance.

“I find it absolutely bizarre because, the last time I checked, investment managers have the right to change their portfolios,” he told Guardian Australia.

“I can’t fathom why Australian politics has stooped as low as this. Joe Hockey should really be concentrating on his day job and try to pass his budget.

“The fossil fuel industry may be trying to desperately to put its fingers in the leaking dyke left, right and centre, but that won’t change the fact that Australia will have to face up to a future as a low-carbon economy.”

Sydney University has ruled out future investments in coalmining, while the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has said it will not lend to firms involved in thermal coal and coal seam gas. Last week, the Anglican diocese of Perth joined the Uniting Church in Australia in divesting itself of fossil fuels.

The viability of new coalmining projects in Australia has been questioned due to a depressed trading price and indicators that key markets are beginning to wean themselves off imported fossil fuels.

Last week China, the destination for 25% of Australia’s coal exports, imposed a 6% tariff on non-coking coal. The country is also introducing new standards to phase out imported “dirty” coal, which is blamed for causing the smog that regularly envelops cities such as Beijing.

Last year, China spent an estimated $US56.3bn on wind, solar and other renewable energy projects.

Investment in clean energy in Australia has slumped by 70% in the past year, due to uncertainty over the future of the Renewable Energy Target. Hockey has previously called wind turbines “utterly offensive” and “appalling”.

ACOSS report: Poverty among Australians on the rise; one in six children struggling

HomelessPoverty is on the rise in Australia, with more than two and a half million people – and one in six children – struggling to fulfil their daily basic needs, statistics suggest.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) revealed in its latest national poverty report that more than 600,000 children, and one third of children in single parent families, lived below the poverty line.

The report analysed figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 2012.

To be considered “below the poverty line”, a family of four needed to be surviving on less than $841 a week, and a single adult on less than $400 a week.

The 2014 ACOSS poverty report also revealed more than 40 per cent of all people on social security benefits fell below that line.

It also showed that women, people with disabilities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were among the worst affected.

Australia’s peak social services body said the new poverty figures should force a rethink of proposed budget cuts to welfare payments.

ACOSS 2014 poverty report key findings:

  • Poverty line: single adults on $400 a week; couple with two children on $841 a week
  • Poverty rate: 2,548,496 Australians (13.9%) living below the poverty line
  • Child poverty: 602,604 children (17.7%) living below the poverty line
  • Income support: 40.1% of people on social security living below the poverty line
  • Unemployed: 61.2% of unemployed people living below the poverty line
  • Working poor: 33.2% of people below the poverty line came from a household with wages as their main income
  • Overall growth in poverty: Poverty increased between 2010 and 2012 by nearly 1%, from 13% to 13.9%

“For us to find that we do not have the right policies, the right measures in place for us to turn the tide on the rise in poverty in Australia, is a wake up call for all of us,” ACOSS chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

“We have to take this issue seriously. This is not the idea of if we just have economic growth, then everything will be all right.

“The reality is we need a really strong set of policies and we [need to] know what they are in order for us to make sure that every person – and importantly every child – in Australia has a decent chance to a decent start, and that we are a country that does not need to have one single person living in poverty.”

“What we are asking the Governments around the country to do is stop what we seem to be having at the moment in Australia, which is once again a blame game that the problem, if you are living on unemployment (benefits), that you are not trying hard enough.”

Salvation Army back calls to stem welfare cuts

The Salvation Army said it supported calls for a reduction in budget cuts for welfare recipients as many Australians were going without basic necessities such as food and electricity.

State by state – below the poverty line:

  • Tasmania 15.1% (Hobart 13.8%, rest of state 16%)
  • Queensland 14.8% (Brisbane 13.9%, rest of state 15.4%)
  • NSW 14.6% (Sydney 15%, rest of state 13.8%)
  • Victoria 13.9% (Melbourne 13.7%, rest of state 14.3%)
  • WA 12.4% (Perth 12.4%, rest of state 12.4%)
  • SA 11.7% (Adelaide 11.5%, rest of state 12.5%)
  • ACT and NT 9.1% (No separate data available due to small sample sizes in ABS survey). 

The Salvation Army’s Ronda McIntyre said this was an indictment on a wealthy country like Australia.

“Poverty is about people; it’s about women and men and children,” Ms McIntyre said.

“Poverty is about individuals and families who are excluded from fully participating in society – people who are humiliated about the circumstances that they find themselves in.”

Dr Goldie also said the 2014 poverty report highlighted inequality posed by Budget proposals to reduce the indexation of pension payments to the Consumer Price Index only.

Dr Goldie said this would result in higher poverty rates over time and that pension payments should be indexed to average wages.

On a state-by-state breakdown, Tasmania had the highest number of people living in poverty at 15.1 per cent, while the ACT and Northern Territory had the lowest proportion of people living below the poverty level, at 9.1 per cent each.

The most at-risk groups included:

  • Women, who were more likely to experience poverty than men – 14.7 per cent compared to 13 per cent;
  • Children at 17.7 per cent;
  • Sole parents at 33 per cent; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders at 19.3 percent, compared to the national average of 12.8 per cent.

Low-income families in Sydney’s west, Melbourne’s north to suffer most under Coalition budget: NATSEM

Low-income families in Western Sydney and Melbourne’s northern suburbs will suffer the most under new Federal Government budget measures, a study has found.

Low-to-middle income families could be worse off by more than $3,500 a year, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) study found, while low income families with children could lose more than 6.5 per cent of their disposable income.

A couple with children in the lowest income quintile will, on average, lose 6.6 per cent of their disposable income by 2017-2018 while a top quintile family will actually gain 0.3 per cent.

The study modelled 19 separate budget measures and also included some additional elements outside the Coalition’s 2014-2015 budget.

These measures differentiate the trajectory of the previous Labor government and that of the Abbott Government’s first budget.

The study identified Broadmeadows, Campbellfield and Coolaroo in Melbourne and Mt Druitt and Whalan in Sydney as the areas hardest hit by the federal budget.

The report said families in Elizabeth and The Parks in Adelaide will also suffer.

Some of the suburbs least affected include Wahroonga in Sydney, Cottesloe in Perth, Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory and Forrest in the national capital.

The research was funded by the Australian Workplace Innovation and Social Research Centre at the
University of Adelaide.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, responding to the study, said the budget burden was falling on those least able to afford it.

“It’s all right for senior members [of the Government] to make sure their electorates are paying only a small increase and experiencing small cuts, whereas the rest of Australia has been left to its own devices by the Abbott Government,” he said.

Addressing the Tasmanian Liberal conference in Launceston, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the budget contained tough but necessary measures.

“We said before the election that we would bring the budget back under control,” he said.

Mr Abbott also told the gathering that while the campaign to get the budget through the Senate had its “ups and downs”, the Government would persevere.

“Inch by painful inch, step by difficult step, compromise by hard-negotiated compromise, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.

“So we are getting there. It’s not easy. Every single step has to be negotiated through a Senate dominated by our political opponents, but we will never ever give up.”

Commentators this week said that while domestic activity is showing signs of improvement, the federal budget is coming under increased pressure from slower global growth and falling commodity prices.

Our Budget their Budget. For The Homeless Featuring Gym, Library, And Art Studio. California taxed the wealthy they didn’t leave.

The Star Apartments on Los Angeles' Skid Row, seen here during construction in 2013, will provide permanent housing to 102 homeless people and the county agency that works to end homelessness

Jerry Brown took California from a real finacial basket case to profit in 3 years.The coalition invented one  that didn’t exist and now are facing a self-fulfilling disaster and trying to blame Labour.

Los Angeles’ Skid Row has been home to thousands of homeless Angelenos for decades, but downtown development has started to squeeze the area one longtime resident described as “a giant outside insane asylum.” The city is hoping that a new 102-unit housing complex for the homeless that opened Wednesday can help alleviate the resulting tension between the area’s destitute outsiders and the new-money lofts and restaurants popping up nearby

At ground level, the Star Apartments building holds the new headquarters of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services agency that works on homelessness issues, called the Housing for Health division. The building also holds a gym with a track, a library, a garden, and art studios for residents, according to the Los Angeles Times. Residents pay 30 percent of their income — meaning they pay nothing if they have no income — with city housing funds subsidizing the remainder of the rent cost.

102 prefabricated apartment units are stacked atop the Housing for Health headquarters like children’s blocks. The final product is a modern, eye-catching structure. Seen from the street, the apartments jut out at improbable-looking angles from the ground floor facilities. The interior facing views from the apartments look over a concrete valley strung with cable-edged staircases.

More important than the aesthetics is the good the facility will do for its residents and for Skid Row as a whole. It is three times more expensive to leave homeless people on the street than it is to simply give them housing. The stability that a home provides makes it far easier for homeless people to regain their footing socially, economically, and often medically or psychologically.

This approach to ameliorating homelessness is known among advocates as “permanent supportive housing.” The federal government has begun emphasizing permanent supportive housing in the formulas it uses to divvy up funding for state and local housing authorities, signalling that the largest financial player in the fight against homelessness is putting its weight behind the idea. But despite the evidence that permanent housing with supportive services is not only effective but a cost saver, many cities around the country continue to criminalize homelessness, raise ordinances that make it harder to help the homeless, and experiment with policies that simultaneously raise money for the homeless and push panhandlers out of downtown areas.

In Los Angeles, officials hope to further smooth the Star Apartments’ residents’ reintegration into society by locating key wraparound services directly below the beds where they will sleep and kitchens where they will cook for themselves.

With an estimated 5,000 people living on the streets in Skid Row, the Star Apartments have had to be selective over the past year since the building was ready for occupants. “We want to target the people who are costing the taxpayer the most by not being in housing,” Skid Row Housing Trust executive director Mike Alvidrez told Marketplace last year. That means people who are most prone to ending up in emergency rooms and jails.

The Times interviewed one Star Apartments tenant named Bill Fisher who ended up homeless thanks to health problems and “the death of his life partner” at the age when people with mailing addresses start to get flyers from the AARP. “If somebody had told me 10 years ago I’d lose everything and end up homeless, I’d have said you’re nuts,” Fisher told the paper. He has “decorated his studio apartment with art projects, including antique sheet music, his guitar collection and an orchid suspended from a palm frond.”

The promise the building holds for people like Fisher is not invulnerable, however. Even successful permanent supportive housing programs can be undermined by bureaucratic disputes over funding and jurisdictional lines, as a community of formerly homeless families at the border between Atlanta and Fulton County learned recently when they were forced to relocate by County officials.

Do these fools know what they’re doing?

Image by

So Joe Hockey is telling us that we can’t afford to go to war and Tony Abbott is telling us that we can. Joe Hockey is the more persistent of the two, today telling us that Labor needed to pass stalled budget measures to pay for Iraq war.

To Bill Shorten’s credit he asked Tony Abbott whether he backed Joe Hockey’s comments. There was, of course, no response. Tony Abbott would have looked a fool if he had answered the question, and still manages to look like a fool for remaining silent. Perhaps, in future, before he talks about our fiscal position he might want to confer with the Treasurer. Whilst I have no confidence in the Treasurer (or the PM) it would be a big plus if they trumpeted a consistent message. Seriously, do these fools know what they’re doing?

As you can see it’s easy to assume that the Bible might have been talking about these too men with the quote, which I will repeat:

The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips.

I am also unable to comprehend why the media in this country hasn’t asked the same simple questions as Bill Shorten. One says we can afford to go to war, while the other says we can’t. And the media swallow each comment without even thinking of saying; “Hang on, the other day the Prime Minister/Treasurer said . . . “.

But can these fools ever be trapped with their lips while the media allows them to flap them about so thoughtlessly?

Treasurer Joe Hockey pressures Labor to pass stalled budget measures to pay for Iraq war . PM pressures him to shut up

Treasurer Joe Hockey in Washington: "We will spend what we need to spend to defend the nation."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is being urged to “correct” his Treasurer Joe Hockey, who has said the Labor opposition should pass stalled budget measures if it is “honest” about supporting the Iraq mission and its associated costs.

Mr Abbott on Thursday was asked several times whether he backed Mr Hockey’s comments, but he declined and instead praised Labor’s leader Bill Shorten for his bipartisan approach to the military action against Islamic State extremists.

Mr Shorten said he was “extremely disappointed” Mr Hockey had “chosen to make the Iraq intervention a source of political point-scoring”.

Speaking earlier in Washington, Mr Hockey said the Australian government would reveal how it would fund the Iraq mission, which is estimated to be roughly $500 million a year, in the December budget update.

However, the Treasurer said if Mr Shorten was “honest” about his promise of bi-partisan support for Australia’s mission in Iraq, he would pass budget measures currently stalled in Parliament.

“We will spend what we need to spend to defend the nation,” Mr Hockey said.

“Given that we spend tens of billions of dollars each year on defence we have the capacity to deliver what we say we are going to deliver and it’s another good reason for Mr Shorten to immediately pass the remaining measures in the budget.

“Everything comes at a cost and if Bill Shorten truly is honest about his commitment to deliver bipartisan support in relation to our defence efforts in the Middle East he’ll provide bi-partisan support to pay for it,” he said.

While Mr Abbott on Thursday declined to back his Treasurer’s call, the opposition’s treasury spokesman Chris Bowen attacked the tactic as “disgraceful” and “blackmail”.

“Just when you think Joe Hockey can’t stoop any lower, there he is. Australians won’t be blackmailed into supporting this unfair budget,” Mr Bowen said.

“It is simply disgraceful that Joe Hockey is trying to link his failed budget with national security. Under no circumstances should our international obligations be used to justify the cuts or taxes in this budget,” he said.

Mr Shorten said Australians would “see through this political game”.

“Under no circumstances should our intervention be used as a source to justify hurting Australian people through this unfair budget and the cuts and raised taxes which flow through it,” he said.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek also said it was “incredibly poor taste” that the Treasurer had attempted to politicise the bipartisan mission.

Speaking a short time after Mr Hockey’s media conference, Mr Abbott thrice declined to back his Treasurer’s call and said Labor should devise its own budget strategy if it wanted to continue rejecting the government’s.

“To his great credit Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been very, very bipartisan on this,” he said on 3AW.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with Bill about this and he is an Australian patriot.

“I want our budget measures to be passed by the Parliament, I accept that the opposition is absolutely entitled to come to its own position on our budget measures…if the Labor party doesn’t want to support our budget measures I think they should come up with their own alternative measures.”

He also failed to endorse the Treasurer’s call during a later press conference in Sydney.

Mr Abbott earlier this week ruled out introducing a tax to pay for the Iraq mission.


If Hockey’s still in the game he’s the puck.

Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott praises Labor on Iraq, distancing himself from Joe Hockey

The prime minister,Tony Abbott, has praised Labor’s support for military intervention in Iraq, distancing himself from his treasurer, Joe Hockey, who questioned the value of bipartisanship on the issue when the opposition would not pass the budget.

As Australia carried out its first air strike on an Islamic State target in Iraq, Hockey demanded that the federal opposition pass the budget in order to allow the government to meet the costs of the conflict, expected to run to hundreds of millions.

But during a morning radio interview, and at a press conference later on Thursday, Abbott declined to endorse Hockey’s remarks, pointing instead to co-operation between the major parties on the Middle East conflict to date.

Labor however moved to capitalise on Hockey’s untidy intervention. The Labor leader, Bill Shorten, said the prime minister should “correct his treasurer”.

“Joe Hockey probably thought he was being clever, creating this political issue. Well it’s not,” Shorten said in Melbourne. “Every time Joe Hockey opens his mouth now he says something silly.”

“Australians will see through this political game. Under no circumstances should our intervention in Iraq be used as a source to justify hurting Australian people through this unfair budget – and the cuts and raised taxes which flow from it.”

Shorten went to a matter of policy contention within the Coalition: declaring that if the government needed additional resources to fund Australia’s military operations, it should dump the prime minister’s signature paid parental leave scheme.

Coalition MPs have continued to speak out against the generous scheme – arguing the money would better be directed elsewhere.

“Why don’t they actually go after the multinationals they’ve gone soft on?” Shorten said “There are plenty of measures that this government could do if it really is the crisis that Joe Hockey says it is.”

Hockey had told reporters in Washington that the costs associated with Australia’s military intervention were another reason Labor should “immediately pass the remaining measures in the budget”.

“Everything comes at a cost and if Bill Shorten truly is honest about his commitment to deliver bipartisan support in relation to our defence efforts in the Middle East he’ll provide bipartisan support to pay for it,” he said.

Earlier in the week, the finance minister, Mathias Cormann, declined to rule out raising taxes to pay for the conflict, but the prime minister stepped in on Tuesday to do so.

Abbott, speaking on Fairfax Radio on Thursday, would not link passing the budget and paying for the Iraq contribution, despite being given several opportunities to do so by his host, Neil Mitchell.

Abbott said Shorten had been a “patriot” on Iraq, and had been concerned to address the threats posed by Islamic State.

On the subject of the budget, the prime minister said it remained incumbent on Labor to suggest alternative savings or revenue measures to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability if the opposition did not like the government’s approach. Abbott also accused Labor of playing politics on unpopular measures such as the GP co-payment.

At a media event later in the day, Abbott said: “What is important is that the opposition continues to support our mission in Iraq and the Middle East.”

“Obviously there’s a lot of things that the government and the opposition disagree [about] but when it comes to national security it’s good that we stand shoulder to shoulder together.”

Hockey died and we don’t know where we buried him. Yet he’s been caught out again by John Howard

Treasurer Joe Hockey has been caught out – by John Howard no less.

In 1998 the Howard Government passed the Charter of Budget Honesty Act. It required the Department of Finance to publish a “Final Budget Outcome” by September 30 each year.

In any event, the 2013-14 Final Budget Outcome has just been published. Of course, treasurers can put whatever spin they want on the document. In Hockey’s opinion the document is “a report card on the previous Government’s irresponsible fiscal and economic management”.

Well, Hockey is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts. The facts are different. So different, indeed, that the aura that conservative governments are better economic managers is now exposed as myth.

In Opposition, the Liberals carried on mercilessly about Labor’s spending blowouts and rising government debt. But what about the facts? The last report under Labor in August 2013 showed projected year-end debt of $178.1 billion. It remained the same for the next four months – the first four months of Coalition Government.

Then, in December 2013, it rose to $191.52 billion and stayed at that till rising in May 2014 to $197.85 billion. And now in September it is $202.5 billion – up 14 per cent on Labor’s debt level.

So now you have it, the Coalition is as bad at running up debt as Labor.

Yet this government abolished the mining and carbon taxes. It is absurd that we allow mainly foreign-owned mining companies to dig up and take our minerals paying virtually no company tax and very little royalties.

Smart countries like Norway taxed their main resource – North Sea oil – at 78 per cent and built up a vast sovereign fund. The tax did not deter the miners.

. Moreover, spending on the military and security has ballooned. But the problem is not government spending, it is the failure to gather the revenue to match it.

$8.4 billion a year is lost in company tax through evasion and minimisation, mainly by saddling up Australian arms of multinational companies with large interest payments on loans that are used worldwide. These companies should pay full Australian tax on their Australian revenue.

One of the most effective ways of making big companies and high-wealth individuals pay at least some tax is the GST. If you want to buy a fur coat from DJs, you pay the GST.

Australian workers and consumers must stop fearing an increase in the GST, because an increased GST could give income tax relief. Australians on quite modest incomes are now facing significant tax increases as inflation pushes them into higher tax brackets.

We should at least index the brackets. A far better solution – as a reader of this column has suggested – would be not to have the four big steps of tax brackets at $18,200, $37,000, $80,000 and $180,000.

It is manifestly unfair that the $1 earned after $37,000 (a very modest income) is taxed at 32.5 cents – the same rate as the $1 earned after $79,999 (a very comfortable income).

In these days of computerisation why not have a Cartesian scale? We could have the tax rate at zero for the marginal dollar after $18,200 gliding incrementally up to, say, 60 per cent on the marginal dollar after, say, $1 million. And then plateauing. That would be better than having these vicious steps.

And please ignore Hockey’s rubbish about the top 10 per cent of earners paying 46 per cent of total income taxes and the top 2 per cent of earners paying 26 per cent, whereas the bottom 20 per cent pay just 2.5 per cent.

The trouble with this is the definition of “earners”. These are ATO figures. The level of “earning” is based on DECLARED income. As the corporate figures suggest there must be a lot of individuals pulling in very, very large incomes but whose “declared” income is very modest indeed

It is indefensible that someone on just $37,000 will pay almost a third of the next dollar they earn in tax. So, let’s forget the hysteria about government spending and have a rational overhaul of revenue.

Government was warned that the ATO was not up to catching corporate tax avoiders. Yet it’s cutting 3000 staff. But Hockey is touting the G20 will close International tax loopholes

Understaffed: An independent report has raised serious concerns about an exodus of experienced staff from the ATO, creating difficulties in dealing with corporate tax avoidance.



Bill Shorten accuses the government during Tuesday’s question time of going soft on corporate tax avoidance; All Tony Abbott could say is  Labor did nothing in government. Is that his justifcation. Staff will be need to be increased to supervise his welfare cuts.

The Abbott government was warned that the Australian Tax Office was ill-equipped to tackle a potential multibillion-dollar international tax dodge as it prepared to cut 3000 ATO staff.At a time when Treasurer Joe Hockey is touting Australia’s efforts in conjunction with the G20 to close international tax loopholes, the Tax Office no longer has a dedicated team to fight the problem.

The irony of it all the ATO’s most experienced staff in tracking international profits have moved to the big four accounting firms, where they now advise the nation’s biggest companies on how to minimise their tax. Furthermore they have left without passing on their knowledge, Good one Mr Abbott

Mr Hockey has been accused of

“hectoring the ATO” to clamp down on multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance.

“But at the same time he has gutted the workforce that would actually deliver on that. By cutting over 3,000 tax officers, the Abbott government has allowed decades’ worth of experience in this highly specialised area of tax law to just walk out the door,” he said.

Read more:

30% of our largest companies pay less than.10c in the dollar corporate tax. We have a revenue problem not a spending problem

Global crackdown on tax havens fails to sway Australian companies

There would be no deficit Mr Hockey. If you collected what Mr Murdoch and others have been allowed to forego: Murdoch alone $1.5billion.

How is it that I paid 35% income tax and 30% company tax throughout my working life and the largest companies pay less than 10% and you call them lifters.?????





“Tell The Leaners My Cigars and Whiskey Are Good For The Economy” Jolly Joe



Hockey in his eagerness to do something right for a change tripped  and found himself licking Palmer arse. He’s delayed the increase in compulsory super   from 9.5% to 12% for another 7 years. Of course Joe magnanimously said the workers will see that extra money in their pay packets. A straight out lie because employers are not obligated to pass it on.

Tell me an employer that will pass on a 2.5% wage increase when they are not obliged to. His man will go down in history as little more than a waste of space. Please explain Mr Treasurer

If it stays with employers the best way to grow superannuation

“Tell The Leaners My Cigars and Whiskey Are Good For The Economy” Jolly Joe


Hockey in his eagerness to do something right for a change tripped  and found himself licking Palmer arse. He’s delayed the increase in compulsory super   from 9.5% to 12% for another 7 years. Of course Joe magnanimously said the workers will see that extra money in their pay packets. A straight out lie because employers are not obligated to pass it on.

Tell me an employer that will pass on a 2.5% wage increase when they are not obliged to. His man will go down in history as little more than a waste of space. Please explain Mr Treasurer

If it stays with employers the best way to grow superannuation in Australia is to have a stronger economy because ultimately because superannuation is invested back into the economy’

If the employer keeps the money Joe it’s not my super Joe it’s his new Merc or his overseas trip. It’s the Christmas present my wife or kid just might miss out on. Maybe the school excursion. What utter horse shit is the man saying the improvement in my employer’s life style is good for the economy. That’s as Liberal as you can get and Abbott is running the same line on this.




Hockey tells Kiwis there is no economic crisis in Australia


 Lisa Owen began by asking him how much trouble the Australian economy was in given his drastic measures in the recent Budget. 
Joe Hockey:  The Australian economy is not in trouble. We’ve had 23 years of consecutive economic growth. We want another 23 years of economic growth, and as a result, the reforms you undertake today will build the growth tomorrow. So we need to undertake these reforms.
But there’s no crisis at all in the Australian economy. The fact is you need to move on the budget to fix it now, and you need to undertake structural reform to structure the economy in the years ahead.
Lisa Owen: So if there is no crisis, and a number of economists in your country have said that there isn’t one, is this budget about ideological changes, trying to push through some things that might have been highly unpalatable unless you told people there was a real need to do this?
Well, no, I don’t accept the premise of your question because the fact is if you make decisions now, you’ll get the prosperity in the future. And that’s one of the ways we’ve been able to deliver low unemployment, high economic growth, a diversified economy that has built, unquestionable, advantages for everyday Australian families into our daily living.
Now, if you undertake the reforms, and this is a good lesson out of New Zealand, if you undertake the structural reforms, the benefits flow.
But I’m just wondering, you’re our second biggest trading partner; should we be concerned about the status of that relationship, given you feel that there is a need for quite significant changes in your economy?
Well, our economy is undergoing change. We’ve had a massive mining boom, and the mining boom has involved a huge amount of resources for construction of new mines and gas projects, and so on. Now we are into the production phase so we’re exporting our socks off in coal, in gas, in iron ore, so that requires, obviously, far less labour.
Mining and resources represents 10% of our economy, but just 2% of employment. And agriculture is around 2% and 2 ½%  of our economy, so how do we stimulate the other 88% of the economy to pick up the slack? And that is exactly what we are focusing on. We’re shifting resources from mining and gas into new areas of the economy that help to grow the pie. And, frankly, it is a transition, but that means we will have sustainable growth into the future, and like New Zealand, we’ll capture the huge trading opportunities in the Asian region that lie before us.
So we don’t have anything to worry about in terms of our trading partnership with you?
No. No, not at all. You’re highly competitive. We’re like brothers and sisters. There might be a little competitive tension in the family, but there’s no doubt in my mind that, you know, we’re shared blood.
I want to look at some of the changes that you have made and are making – you’ve raised taxes. Your top tax rate is now 45 cents in the dollar. Ours is just 33 cents. How worried are you that some of your best and brightest might think that New Zealand is the better place for them now?
Well, they may well do, and this is one of the challenges that we have because other jurisdictions, not just New Zealand, but company tax in the United Kingdom is 21%, and far less than that in Hong Kong and Singapore. There are lots of competitive advantages that other countries have, that’s why we need to live within our means. When we start running surpluses instead of massive deficits, we have the capacity to further cut taxes. But the only way we can cut taxes is if we start to generate more income and start to live within our means. And that’s why we’ve had a hard budget.
So do you accept, then, while you are rebalancing like that, there is prospect,… you accept that some people could jump across to New Zealand because they see it as a better option.
Of course. Yeah, yeah.
Does that worry you? Your best and your brightest.
We’ve just got to manage. We’ve got to manage the challenge. Never take it for granted. There are other advantages that we have. I’m rolling out, in partnership with state governments, around $125 billion of new additional infrastructure over the next six years. That is a massive, a massive stimulant to the Australian economy, and that will obviously attract businesses to Australia.
We’re undertaking significant reforms in health and welfare and education. That will act as an incentive for people to come to Australia. So there’s twists and turns.
Super. That’s another change to the age of 70. Isn’t it inevitable that New Zealand will have to match that, do you think, over time?
Well, it might be a priority for the people in New Zealand to keep a lower pension age. That’s up to the people of New Zealand. But in Australia, when the aged pension was introduced in the early 1900s for men and women aged 65, life expectancy was 56. Life expectancy now is heading towards 100,, so, obviously, in our case, we had to make the change.
If we stick with 65, do you think older Australians might jump the ditch to get an extra five years of pension out of us?
Well, no, because there’s other things that might cause them to jump the ditch or perhaps stay on the other side. There are many factors…
But what would stop them doing that, because we treat them exactly the same as our own citizens?
Well, there might be the argument that we may have a better health-care system and a better age-care system for people over 65. I’m not saying that is the case, but there might be an argument about it. So there are many reasons why people might not suddenly flood the New Zealand marketplace to get an extra five years of aged pension.
You’ve had a really strong housing market, has your capital gains tax kept those housing prices lower than you would otherwise expect them to have been?
Uh, well, no. There are many factors that play in the Australian housing market. There is arguably an under-supply, and we’ve got a big immigration programme, so our population does grow significantly every year. So there are many other factors at play in Australia.
Our housing market is robust. There is a big…
So capital gains hasn’t done a lot?
Capital gains tax is, you know, … it varies. You’ve got to have a competitive capital gains tax regime, but if you’re fishing for with a comparison to New Zealand, I’m not familiar with the New Zealand regime at this moment.
Well, for the first time since 1991, we’ve got migration figures that show New Zealand migrants to Oz have levelled off. Are you relieved by that?
Well, we welcome New Zealanders coming to Australia, and they make a massive contribution in many areas. The fact that they’re choosing to come home is a lot about the strength of the New Zealand economy, and if New Zealanders are coming home, it means that they’re voting with their feet for a strong New Zealand economy and strong future for New Zealand. You should be proud of that.
But the ones who do choose to stay, since 2001, New Zealanders can’t collect welfare in Australia. Most of them can’t access student loans. They can’t vote. I’m wondering, does the Anzac spirit mean anything any more?
Oh, it means a lot. It means a lot. It’s just…. We’re…
So why not treat them the same way?
Because they are not Australian citizens. And the fact is there are a lot of countries that would find it attractive to access all the entitlements that are afforded to the Australian people, but, ultimately, we’ve got to strike a balance when we’re running out of money, and at the moment we are running big deficits. We’ve got to live within our means.
But you said we’re like family. We’re like brothers and sisters, and we treat Australians like brothers and sisters in terms of welfare and benefits and what have you.
Well, that’s right. We are. But if my brother and sister were in very desperate financial trouble, I wouldn’t be asking them for money, and similarly, given that New Zealand’s doing very well, and Australia is not in desperate financial trouble, but we’re short of a quid at the moment because we are running deficits, I think it’s not unreasonable that we both live within our means.
So do you see a time then, if it’s a problem at the moment, do you see a time in the future when that could change?
Yeah. Look, the Prime Minister raised with me… Prime Minister Key raised with me a number of issues. I think we can move on some, but let me go back and speak to my colleagues…
Could you share with us what are the ‘some’ things?
There were a couple of initiatives in welfare that I think the Prime Minister put forward a pretty convincing case…
What are they, Treasurer?
Let me speak to my colleagues first. I want to know what the cost if, but in deference to John Key, I will go back and have a good look at it.
So, maybe unemployment benefit?
I said I would have a look. I’m not going to go through the shopping list.
OK, so do you have any concerns that perhaps there might be an underclass of New Zealand citizens in Australia?
No, not at all because New Zealanders know how to stand on their own two feet. They don’t need to rely on Australian welfare to get ahead.
Then that leaves me to the thought. Is this policy actually not about blocking New Zealanders coming into Australia, but is it a means of stopping citizens from other places, like Pacific Island migrants, coming to Australia through New Zealand?
Well, it’s about placing limitations on the amount of money that the Australian government, the Australian taxpayers, pay out, and the first priority is to Australian citizens. It’s pretty understandable.
But is part of that stopping people from the Pacific Islands coming into Australia?
Well, no, because we’re a very welcoming nation for people from the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand is a great leader in the region. So… Look, it’s a balancing act, and you can afford to be more generous when you have more money, and in Australia, gee, I wish our budget was in the position of the New Zealand government. They’ve done the hard yards. They’re getting to surplus. At the moment, we are a long way from surplus.
There was one thing in your budget which suggested that your government was actually going further than previous governments in terms of excluding New Zealanders. It was this work commitment bonus. The 2500 if you stay in employment for a year. You have specifically excluded New Zealanders from picking up that bonus, haven’t you?
Look, I’m not familiar with any specific exclusion of New Zealanders. I’m going to follow that up. I didn’t know there was… I would be surprised if it was specific to New Zealand, but let me have a look at that.
OK, so, overall,  would you be happy if we treated Australians, coming into our country, the same way New Zealanders are treated when they move to Australia?
Well, look, the relationship is much more sophisticated than any one area of activity, and, look, Australia has a deep and enduring relationship with New Zealand, and will continue to do so. How New Zealanders treat Australians I would hope is to your benefit, and I don’t want to get into it tit-for-tat sort of arrangement…
But as part of that enduring relationship, it sounds like you’re going to give it a nudge for us when you go home, are you?
Well, I’ll tell you what. If you send Richie McCaw over to play for the Wallabies, then I’m prepared to do a deal in other areas.
Oooooh. We’ll have to weigh that one up. Thank you so much for your time today. Very appreciated.
Thank you. Thank you.


People under 25 will have to wait 6 months for unemployment benefits. Who will support them in the interim their family or friends if they have any. It’s NOT A TAX
I know an ill person who needs weekly blood tests and  needs to see a doctor each week. That’s an extra $700 per year. It’s NOT A TAX.
He is under 35 so Abbott wants him off his PDS and on New Start a reduction of $120 a week. That’s a 30% reduction. Ofcourse if he has a family they’ll pay. To make things worse Keven Andrews is suggestig policing spending. It’s NOT A TAX.
Driving people off welfare is not SHARING THE BURDEN it’s making sure the  a lot of families can’t save anything. They are literaly running on empty , live on credit & pay 20% interest in doing so. This is what Abbott & Hockey call basket case economics it has to be fixed an this is the way to fix the books. He is handballing the problem and riding on the backs of ordinary families to do it. 

The wealthy get 55 days interest free on their credit cards and can minimize their costs while ordinary families play ring around my credit cards & not by choice. After all the cards are easy enough to get even the family dog is sent one by the banks. The wealthy & businesses owe billions of dollars in unpaid taxes and super which the government writes off or discounts in order to get something. No discounts for working families I’m afraid only government negotiated unemployment and the pain of sharing this burden. Holden a case in point.
Abbott Hockey and their ilk run around in lycra and smoke cigars. Welfare is a foriegn country to their families. One they never have to visit or even consider. Surely if gov revenue has fallen and the disjunct between ordinary & wealthy has grown a tax on spending and vigilance on tax avoidance by individuals and business would have been fairer. Glencore the biggest coal miner made $15bill profit on which the paid no tax. We subsidised their fuel costs recieved nothing in return. They could have done nothing and made a profit.

The coalition agenda to deregulate the finance sector is caused the GFC in the first place. Australia was saved from the worst of the financial crisis because our banks were regulated. Australians will be presented with a range of crazy  junk product as happened in the US will be courted by planners who again neither have to reveal their commissions nor operate in their best interest. It’s putting the hens back in the hen house with the foxes still there and a door sign Caveat Emptor, Buyer Beware.
CBA is in the news currently for lending money, designing product & selling the product with commissions at every step all in house. They don’t create anything of use only collect rent on shuffling paper. The more they shuffle the more they make.