Kim Beazley elected Chair of Australian War Memorial…

Australian War Memorial Media Release The Honourable Kim Beazley AC has been appointed…

Gallic Rebuke: France and the US Rules-based Order

Gérard Araud was not mincing his words. As France’s former ambassador to…

Floods of Challenges: The Victorian Election Saga of…

By Denis Bright Victorians rejected the instability of minority government in favour of…

Julian Assange and Albanese’s Intervention

The unflinching US effort to extradite and prosecute Julian Assange for 18…

Virtual tourists can now teleport back 600 million…

University of South Australia Media Release Fancy donning a VR headset and taking…

The Right is toxic: what next for conservatives?

The international right is cynical and dangerous. It is crucial we look…

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt !

The jury of eight women and four men have retired to consider…

To be truthful, "sorry" is a word so…

When you think there isn't much to write about in politics, the…

«
»
Facebook

Raising interest rates as a strategy to deal with inflation is problematic at best

By John Haly

In July, Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced an independent review of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and in September, the Bank Review panel released Issues Papers and calls for Public Submissions. The Review Panel – comprising Renée Fry‑McKibbin, Carolyn Wilkins and Gordon de Brouwer. As I said to the panel, I have written it as though writing to Treasurer Jim Chalmers. The closing date was the 31st of October, and because this will make for a long article, I will simply say, what follows, is my submission.

* * * * *

Dear Minister Chalmers,

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this review of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Themes

This submission covers Monetary policy frameworks such as adherence to the NAIRU and neoclassical “gold standard” mentality over that of monetary sovereign fiat economies. It covers RBA and Government communications about the Finance Franchise myths on Banking, in general. It is critical of the Board composition based on bias in inappropriate neoclassical education and the selection of business representatives instead of economists trained in the issues of fiat economies. Finally, it reviews the Interaction of monetary and fiscal policy with respect to RBA’s performance in applying monetary policy where fiscal policy is more appropriate. As a former employee of the Reserve Bank, I have some knowledge of the inner workings of the Reserve Bank.

I understand the review of the Reserve Bank of Australia is underway to improve monetary policy and its success at realising its goals, governance by the Board, culture, leadership, and recruitment practices. Such a broad range of objectives has yet to be approached since the smaller incidental 1981 Campbell inquiry and before that, presumably at its inception in 1960.

Curtin

Over the last century, Australia’s Central Bank and economy have undergone many changes. In the previous World War, the Curtin Government asserted Commonwealth power over banking, which led to Ben Chifley’s later decision to legislate to nationalise the banks, effectively asserting Commonwealth control over money and credit as per the Commonwealth Bank Act of 1945. However, such nationalisation was later defeated in 1949, as the book “Curtin’s Gift” by John Edwards says on Pg 141.

Though the postwar Menzies Government amended Chifley’s central banking legislation to reintroduce a board, the Commonwealth’s last-resort power to direct the bank was retained in the legislation and remains today. The Commonwealth Treasurer has conferred on the bank an independent authority to make monetary policy, but it is a conditional independence to pursue a policy of low inflation, sustainable output and employment growth.

Curtin had also argued for two other changes,

  1. Commit to a full employment policy to improve living standards and raise national development.
  2. a floating exchange rate to free Australia from the fixed exchange rate with the British pound

Ben Chifley implemented the Full employment policy following Curtin’s full employment paper being submitted to Cabinet in March 1945. Until the rise of Neoliberalism in the 1970s, unemployment would remain dominantly at 2% (notably without substantial inflation).

Unemployment rate and NAIRU

This leads to the Reserve Bank’s first failure, which is its commitment to the NAIRU. Interestingly Albanese’s claim of the Job Summit was to seek a “Full Employment Summit”. But unfortunately, the neo-liberals of both the political Party and the Bank adhere to the conservative myth of the NAIRU. Instead of a NABIER – as a better alternative perspective, the Bank incorrectly suggests we are already “fully employed”. [See Prof Mitchell’s analysis: Never trust a NAIRU estimate]. A goal that has been achieved if you conclude ABS measures domestic unemployment, which, as you can see from the graphs and my articles covering what should have resulted from the Job Summit [my article and graphs: Stagnating Summit’s Shortfalls]. This is why “what gets measured” is essential. I will not go into detail about the shortcomings of the ABS statistics as they are probably already well known, and if not, the article aforementioned herein, should inform you.

Raising interest rates as a strategy to deal with inflation is problematic at best. The link between spending and interest rates is unreliable and unpredictable. Interest rates affect both supply and demand. Economic modelling of “supply and demand” is only relevant to highly atomised markets with many participants, like the primary sector. Secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy follow different models. Changes in interest rates can have a reverse effect on inflation. Higher interest rates only affect people with variable interest rate debts. They don’t affect fixed interest rate debt and people with no immediate financial obligation. Higher interest rates increase the income of creditors and redistribute income to the wealthier, rentier class, exacerbating inequality. Fourth, higher interest rates reduce the incentive to undertake debt and may cause “distress borrowing” to service existing debt or keep businesses afloat. The resulting Ponzi balance sheets do a disservice to the economy, and all of the above, risk yet another recession. The government should be applying fiscal, not monetary, policy to these issues rather than letting the Reserve Bank’s adherence to a disproven NAIRU theory collapse the economy into greater inequality.

FIAT economy

Paul Keating’s floating of the Australian currency in 1983 meant Australia entered a new economic space. We became a monetarily sovereign, fiat economy no longer tied to another currency or a gold standard (which even America had abandoned with the collapse of the Brenton Wood decisions in 1971). The implications of which even the Bank of England acknowledges even if neither our government’s political rhetoric nor Reserve Bank acknowledge. [Bank of England video: Money in the modern economy: an introduction – Quarterly Bulletin].

Instead of shifting into this new space and engaging with this new paradigm of fiat economies, the neoclassical economic conversation stayed with the decades-old “gold standard” economics model. Still, neoclassical economics guides the decisions of the Reserve Bank’s mission to “pursue a policy of low inflation, sustainable output and employment growth.” [“Curtin’s Gift” by John Edwards pg 142]

Problematically, even Board members of the Reserve Bank need to understand the basics of a modern monetary system. [Prof William Mitchell: The RBA has no credibility and the governor and board should resign]. The Reserve Bank’s role as the currency issuer for the government has been misunderstood by business board appointees blinded by the tunnel vision of their experience as currency users in the business community.

Most of the Board are business people (five in number), three are neoclassical economists (Dr Lowe, Michele Bullock, and Ian Harper), and Dr Steven Kennedy is economics adjacent given his Doctorate was in the Economic Determinants of Health, which is not precisely about the Banking systems. None of the Board has any formal training in the economics of fiat economies or Modern Monetary economies, although that isn’t to say their experience on the Board has yet to give them insight. Some suggest the RBA is best served with Board members selected based on expertise in modern monetary fiat economics rather than as political appointees because of their relationships with former Prime ministers.

To this day, neoclassical economics still guides the decisions of the Reserve Bank’s mission to pursue a policy of “low inflation, sustainable output and employment growth” but has universally failed to achieve what Curtin (and even Menzies) did for nearly three decades.

Banking is widely misunderstood as a heavily regulated franchise industry acting as an intermediary between scarce private capital and borrowers. Modern finance is relatively scarce, and depositors are the source of money supplied to borrowers. [Cornell Law School paper: “The Finance Franchise”].

Misperceptions

This is among many common public and media misrepresentations of the banking system. In these areas, it should be incumbent upon the government to educate the public through public broadcasting so that the expectations upon the Reserve Bank are properly evaluated. These myths include:

  • Banks can only lend out money they have from depositors.
  • Credit is an extension of a money multiplier based on deposit reserves.
  • Quantitative Easing is printing free finance into the money supply.
  • Federal Treasury deficits are a liability to taxpayers.

At a Keystroke

Money in Australia’s economy has two sources. First, that which the Government Treasury supplies through its fiscal agent, the Reserve Bank. In short, that money is spent into existence by the Federal Government. This money is called “Vertical” money, which exists as an Exchange Settlement Account between the Reserve Bank and the Private banks. As the public is not a joint holder of that account, it is not available for lending to the public. Its only purpose is for interbank transactions.

Secondly, a larger pool of credit via lending is generated “ex nihilo” in the economy through private banking, referred to as “horizontal” money. [Also, the Bank of England video: Money creation in the modern economy – Quarterly Bulletin]. When banks lend, they create deposit IOUs within that bank. Bank’s customer deposits are their liability, and the loan is their asset created by keystrokes. Deposits are fundamentally an IOU from the bank. Similarly, when a bank makes a loan, they generate an IOU deposit for the lender at that bank. The complementary asset for the bank is the loan. Banks create money for borrowers and profit (the interest) for themselves.

Unlike the banking franchise myth, deposits or reserves do not create or limit loans. The perpetuation of this myth in public debate and political pronouncements does a disservice to the public good.

Deposits/Reserves relevancy

Credit creation is simply about a bank finding a credit-worthy customer with whom it can create a digital deposit as an account with that bank with the expectation of future interest payments. The loan to the borrower becomes a bank asset, with an accompanying liability created by a computer entry, which generates the deposit for the borrower. None of the aforementioned Bank reserves is touched, and neither are deposits. The exchange settlement Account reserves are used only when the borrower spends that deposit in another bank. The reserves held at the Central Bank of the lending bank are transferred to the account of the person being paid in the other bank. This is how all bank transfers work; by using the central bank’s reserve accounts.

Instead of adequately describing this in High School and economics education, the government needs to explain how the monetary system works adequately. The government and a properly educated Board of the Reserve Bank need to address these realities.

Regarding my familiarity with this, I worked at the Reserve Bank between September 2001 and October 2002, where I worked on both the operations and technical security teams at the Reserve Bank. In that capacity, I aided reversing the RITS system’s previous outsourcing of AlphaServers operating OpenVMS, previously managed by AustraClear/SFE. Back then, the money churned between banks via their reserve accounts oscillated between $9 to $16 billion daily. The monitoring of that transfer between private bank accounts is the RITS system at the Reserve bank running on an Alpha-VMS mainframe that monitors all account exchanges between banks, which is the system I helped bring back in-house.

Quantitative Easing

In a financial crisis – such as the Pandemic – excessive needs for Exchange Settlement Reserves become evident. The overused strategy of Central banks globally during the Pandemic has been Quantitative Easing. Despite the talk of “printing money”, that is a red herring. Printing money depends on the demand for cash in the private sector – generally around 3% – and never reaches a point where it even approaches a small portion of the digital money supply. Hard currency demand during the Pandemic reached 17%. Digital money is the normality between the Reserve Bank and the private banking systems.

Quantitative Easing affects the money supply by increasing the banks’ ESA reserves at the Reserve Bank. This is done by the Reserve Bank repurchasing Treasury bonds from the private non-bank sector (i.e. pension funds and asset managers) and the private banks. The purchases from the private banking sector rise in digital money extend the ESA reserves. Many private sales of Government Bonds mean more money is circulating in the private sector that may be used to pay off bank loans, reducing the likelihood of borrowings. Technically, increased reserves, while facilitating extensions of interbank transactions, have no direct impact on any credit creation expansion.
Precisely what area of the economy Quantitative Easing serves is also of concern, as “employment growth” wasn’t one of them. The inequality of protecting financialised assets amongst the wealthy ruling class financial markets rather than the working class who lost jobs in the millions. As Adam Tooze, in his recent publication, “Shutdown”, observes

For the central bank, that meant holding interest rates down. Once again, it came down to financial markets. As far as anyone could figure out, QE worked by driving government bond prices up and yields down. Lower interest rates helped to encourage borrowing for investment and consumption. Lower yields also prompted asset managers to reallocate funds from Treasury markets, where prices were driven up by central bank buying, to riskier assets, like equity and corporate bonds. This boosted corporate borrowing and the stock market. It increased financial net worth and boosted demand.

The supportive cooperation between central banks and treasuries in the common struggle against the coronavirus was thus, the central bankers adamantly insisted, no more than an incidental side effect of their frantic and clumsy efforts to manage the economy by way of financial markets. Despite the relentless accumulation of government debt on their balance sheets, the central bankers insisted that this had nothing to do with financing public spending. Their priorities were to manage interest rates and ensure financial stability, which in practice meant underwriting the high-risk investment strategies of hedge funds and other similar investment vehicles. Rather remarkably, they insisted that tending to financial markets was a more legitimate social mission than openly acknowledging the highly functional, indeed essential role they played in backstopping the government budget at a time of crisis.” [pg 149]

When Financial markets become more important to the Reserve Bank than the well-being of the vast majority of Australians, then the bank’s philosophy is served and managed by too many businessmen and women with a neoliberal ideology to serve the interests of the few above that of the whole economy. As Curtin espoused, the Reserve bank’s original social mission is to “pursue a policy of low inflation, sustainable output and employment growth”. This mission has evidently fallen, by the way, because of the people chosen to run the Board of the Reserve Bank.

Taxpayer’s money?

Finally, It can be demonstrated simply by viewing the balance sheets (irrespective of the accuracy of dollar amounts) of the entities known as

  • the Treasury,
  • Reserve Bank,
  • the collective private banks and
  • the collective non-bank private sector

that the federal deficit of the Treasury is the surplus of the Australian economy’s private (and foreign) sector. Deficits are just the government’s way of provisioning the private sector. If a government wishes to pull the spending of an economy back and throttle the growth of an economy, it pursues a surplus for the Treasury, depriving the private sector of funds. John Howard, for example, achieved that when he throttled back the economy to provide the Treasury with a surplus. Consequently, the private sector, desperate for money, borrowed heavily from the Banks. Private debt expanded considerably under John Howard. [See here: The Howard impact or here: Debt, home repossessions portent for Australia poll]. But of course, Mr Chalmers, you should already know this.

 

Simplified Australian monetary system

 

Taxpayers are not on the hook for a government’s treasury deficit as that deficit just boosted taxpayers’ finances. The government’s debt is your problem, not ours, since the Treasury and Reserve Bank issue the dollar (which taxpayers don’t because that is a crime called “counterfeiting” with which you would charge us). The currency-issuing government can pay their debts off any time they choose by issuing the dollars to cover them. Admittedly the wedging by political opponents and the Murdoch media would require of this government political courage, not financial inability.

Knowledge is power

The problem is, if submissions for a public review of the functions of the Reserve Bank are to be effective, it is incumbent on the reviewers to have a realistic appreciation of how the banking system works and the Reserve Bank’s role in our financial system. Holding to the public franchise myth, the NAIRU myth, and the Taxpayer funds myth, as many in the media (and possibly members of the Bank Board), will limit the usefulness of any submissions. Providing faulty recommendations to politicians who frequently use the analogy of a household budget to describe how fiat economies work is a recipe for disaster and subsequent legislative policies that will hamper the workings of the Reserve Bank to aid post-pandemic financial recovery.

So we need governors and heads of departments within the RBA who know and understand inflationary causes, recognise the differences between supply vs demand causation and know that raising interest rates is an over-zealous intervention that cures symptoms by killing the patient.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit this letter for your review.

Yours sincerely,

John Haly.
(Auswakeup Media)

This article was originally published on AUSTRALIA AWAKEN – IGNITE YOUR TORCHES.

[Correction: An earlier version of this article was not “absolutely pedantic accurate” as inflation from 1945 to 1970 was so small compared to what followed, as to be negligible, but as it wasn’t nonexistent, the phrase at the end of the section on Curtin has had the word “substantial” added.]

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 5,092 total views

Real Man at Lunch – George Clooney and the Blue Heeler

By Andrew Klein

There I was at Oakleigh. An area that has a mixed community of Greek, Maltese and Asian families with plenty of coffee shops and places to eat.

I had my faithful Labrador, Donna by my side and she really is a diplomat. If you ever want to break that superficial ice that seems to separate people from each other, have your dog along to act as interpreter. They make friends easier and make it possible to have some great talks with people that otherwise would not have happened.

Sitting in the ‘Souvlaki Restaurant’ with my Donna, relaxing, as we had covered some distance examining the many changes on the area that have occurred there since I was there last so many years ago attending a funeral.

Today had been another one of those days and I had driven a friend to a funeral and after making sure everything was organized, there was time to fill.

It was lunch time and I could see the surrounding places slowly fill with people. Office staff going for the more formal luncheons carrying their iPads and other communication equipment, hurried discussions about deals being done, deals pending and where to get good advice to achieve better deals.

Personally, I preferred the little Souvlaki place that had seats on the outside and was happy to serve both Donna and I.

Donna was delighted to have her own version of Souvlaki, but then there is little difference between a Labrador and food or a carpet and a vacuum cleaner. They go hand in hand.

Then an elderly couple sat a few tables away, a lovely old Greek couple. He was fussing over his wife as she seemed a little unsteady on her feet and, once she was seated, he ordered for both and glanced at the Greek newspapers that were freely supplied by the venue.

Then the ‘lads’ arrived. Five rather solid men that, according to the badges they wore, worked on motor cars. Greetings were exchanged and the largest of them, spiky haired and ear rings made friends with Donna straight away.

He laughed as I explained the reasons for Donna wearing a ‘pink collar ‘ (to make her appear less aggressive) and he burst out laughing, gently taking Donna’s head in his big hands and whilst rubbing behind her ears said, “That’s no killer, she is a Daddy’s girl, what a cutey.“

The other guys joined in and within minutes we were talking about dogs. Not hunting dogs, man eating guard dogs, but members of their families.

The skinny guy on the right laughed and said,”Fuck talking about the kids, here, look at this, she is mine. Her head is massive but you should see her with the kids .“ At the same time, he produced his iPhone and was passing it around showing pictures of what could have been ‘Cujo‘ but was a much-loved family dog. Within seconds of the iPhone where being passed around, each with a picture of the ‘dog’ in the life of that man and his family.

They talked about the problems presented by various toys, how balls were torn apart and how the cat was allowed to get away with murder.

So many men, each with a dog in his life. Each of them happily sharing the treasured shots of their beloved pet.

“My Mrs told me she was worried about my blue heeler cross because he was getting grey hairs and she says to me to take him to the vet. I said there is nothing wrong with Bluey, he is beginning to look distinguished. Just think about George Clooney and his grey hairs. Well, that calmed her concerns and Bluey was saved from a trip to the vet.”

Laughter filled the little café as the men discussed a dog looking like George Clooney and keeping the wife happy.

Their lunches arrived and in no time, Donna’s new friend offered to share his Souvlaki with her and you could see the others guys fishing for little treats to pass to her. I politely refused on her behalf because Labradors do get fat quickly if allowed to eat whenever the option arises.

It was time for us to leave and though it was really my problem to cause as little disturbance to their meal as possible, the ‘lads‘ were concerned about Donna being able to leave in comfort and so they moved their chairs, neglected their meals and said good bye to us both.

So, if you ever wonder what ‘real men‘ talk about whilst having lunch, think about George Clooney and his distinguished grey hairs and how that hair saved bluey, the blue heeler from a visit to the vet. Even a dog can look like George Clooney and his ‘Mum’ will love his grey hairs.

Wishing you and your much-loved pets a wonderful week.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,174 total views,  4 views today

What the COVID-19 pandemic did to us mentally

By Melissa Frost

We’ve been in the second half of 2022 for several months now.

This short piece relays my experiences as a Chronic Disease Management nurse in SE Queensland.

Firstly, SE Queensland became the escape hatch for the Eastern seaboard. Tens of thousands from NSW and Melbourne, fled the most locked down city in the world to the beaches of Queensland. This has had – and continues to have – profound ramifications on the local population. Homelessness. A suffocating lack of housing. Rents have increased in Surfers Paradise by 34%. A small one bedroom unit now leases for $450+ per week. The Gold Coast rental inventory is 0.2%. No caravan parks have an inch of space left. A NGO Housing group I interact with has been mandated by Gold Coast Council to help only tourists and students. And no longer the local homeless population. I’ve had hysterical young mothers on the phone begging me to find somewhere safe for themselves and their child. A 77-year-old, whose rental unit went on the market and they’ve received a 2 month notice to Leave. Where does he go? This broken soul. Where does he go?

I’m advising homeless patients with exacerbation of respiratory illnesses to present to the busiest Emergency department in the country. That would be the Gold Coast University Hospital. At least they will have a roof over their heads, a meal, a toilet and a shower. I can assist no one with finding permanent accommodation. There simply isn’t any.

I have been bracing myself for 2 years for these post pandemic realities.

Suicides have increased. A paramedic mate of mine went to 6 suicides in one week at the beginning of the year. Young men 25-40 yrs of age hanging by ropes in their garages. Domestic violence have increased by 26%. Child abuse have increased by 24%. Alcohol consumption have increased 4 fold. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines are up. Road rage is up. I have seen Queensland number plated car owners scream “go home” to Victorian plated cars. Polite discourse at the local shops no longer exists. The daily grind of making money to pay rent, feed the kids, pay that electricity bill and fill that bank-owned car with petrol can be seen on the streets of the Gold Coast as everyone scurries by, head down, shoulders down, neck tense, willing themselves to their jobs to prevent becoming another homeless statistic.

I’ve seen a real mood change on the Gold Coast. An alarming tsunami of misery and despair. Overseas mental health studies published in 2020 suggested that the pandemic would unify humanity, encourage solidarity and harmony. I have not witnessed any of that.

I’m surveying a massive collective acting out of the Gold Coast psyche. Released from government restrictions, Gold Coasters are angrier, uglier, and participating in self harm acts of high alcohol consumption, isolation and crime.

Psychology services are booked out for six months. So the business’ of the local alcohol industry continue to be profitable while the stressed population continue to self medicate.

So I battle on in my Chronic Disease Management nurse role, as all us nurses have done, hoping the ramifications of this pandemic start to wane and people get back to been civil to each other. Back to feeling safe in their housing, their jobs, their health, their mental health and all that sustains them and their families. The lucky life. The Australian way of life. Is this likely anytime soon? No. I’m afraid I don’t think so.

I will say this. Many of us medical professionals are dismayed at the mishandling of this pandemic by politicians. Thanks for this dystopia world on the Glitter Strip.

Melissa Frost
Frustrated Registered Nurse

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,044 total views

We can do better

By 2353NM

It was probably co-incidental that the Australian Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was held in Sydney around the time the NRL and AFL finals were occurring. CPAC originally advertised the conference would be at Luna Park – until Luna Park claimed they had never had a booking. The Conference was then ‘relocated’, together with claims of discrimination, to a secret venue (which was the International Convention Centre) so that protestors wouldn’t know where to mobilise. The protestors found out and chose to protest rather than watch the football, but that’s another story.

One of the ‘headline acts’ at CPAC was Nigel Farage, of the Brexit movement. He was ‘ably supported’ by some people with a link to the Trump end of the Republican Party as well as the usual suspects comprising of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the ‘talking heads’ behind SkyNews‘ night-time opinion shows and some of the more conservative Australian political figureheads.

The Saturday Paper was at CPAC along with Crikey and the mainstream media outlets. Strangely enough, most of the mainstream media didn’t give CPAC a lot of attention. Maybe the football finals were perceived to be more important to most Australians? However, The Saturday Paper did pay attention. They had a long conversation with the former Executive Director of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) for 17 years, John Roskam.

Roskam told The Saturday Paper that the IPA was established in 1943 with sponsorship from BHP, Coles and the Herald and Weekly Times (owned at the time by Rupert Murdoch’s father). 20 or 30 years ago, the IPA had sponsorship from a number of the ASX’s top 100 companies. Today it has no ASX100 companies as sponsors and relies on some 8,000 private subscribers. Politically, Roskam admits that the IPA is now closer to the Liberal Democratic Party than the Liberal Party, despite a long list of former IPA staff that have subsequently become Liberal Party members of various state and federal Parliaments.

A contributing factor to the IPA’s political realignment is the belief amongst some conservatives that economic reform by the previous Coalition Government stopped after the disastrous reception to the Abbott/Hockey 2014 budget which would have implemented a

co-payment for Medicare; cuts to legal aid, including for Indigenous Australians and domestic violence victims; targeted family tax benefits and pensions; and a 20 per cent cut to university funding. It raised the pension age, capped redundancy payments, sought to raise prices under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and broke an election promise of a paid parental leave scheme, among other swingeing cuts. It was wildly unpopular and bits began falling off it almost immediately, either abandoned or defeated in the senate.

Roskam acknowledges that “the IPA is pushing against the mainstream, certainly in the case of economics”. He notes that to the extent it still has political influence, it is more with fringe players on the right.

Current Liberal Party Federal Vice President Teena McQueen was a speaker at CPAC and claimed it was good that all the ‘lefties’ in the Coalition had been voted out of Federal Parliament, presumably because it allows the Parliamentary Liberal Party to drift further to the right. Although shouted down by past and current Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party identities who chose to watch the football rather than attend CPAC, it demonstrates that there are differences of opinion, even within political parties.

It was also probably co-incidental that Crikey’s Guy Rundle wrote an opinion piece the same week suggesting that the current Government is not progressive enough for those on the left. Rundle makes the point that while there is now a somewhat more realistic target for emissions reduction, Australia has re-joined the international community and the October economic statement was going to remove a number of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison excesses and perceived rorting, there were still a number of the Coalition’s policies that are seen to be detrimental or regressive to the politically progressive that have been allowed to remain in place unchallenged.

But the uncomfortable fact is that Morrison wasn’t jacking up anti-protest laws, and Labor is. And this raises the hard-to-deny fact that Albanese Labor is getting a substantially free pass on a lot of stuff that is different in intensity, but not in type, from Morrison-era antics.

This is disturbing because Labor is getting away with substantial continuity on a range of issues – mandatory detention, First Nations incarceration, now the environment – with qualitatively less outrage than was applied to the Coalition. That leaves those on the sharp end of these policies in some ways in a worse position than they are under an explicitly hostile government. The smooth, efficient and compliant process that Labor is bedding down can completely obscure some of the horrors going on.

A month or so ago, we published They seem to have a plan where we suggested that the Albanese Government is working through a program and not everything that any individual wants will ever come to fruition. However, that doesn’t mean that there should be no adverse commentary on the government and the program at all.

As has been shown in the discussions that are still occurring around emissions reduction, the government has mandated an emissions reduction target of 43% by 2030 which is significantly higher than the former Coalition Government’s 26 to 28%, others claim that 80% by 2035 is not only possible but responsible. It can also be argued that Australia’s treatment of refugees either travelling to Australia by legal means (including boats) or held in endless detention on Nauru hasn’t changed for the better since May 2022. Generally the workers in service industries, traditionally female, lower paid and part of the the ALP’s historical base, are still undervalued for the work they do.

Regardless of whether you think it’s a good idea that all the Liberal ‘lefties’ were voted out of Parliament or the emissions reduction target should be 80% or higher by 2035, the problem is that there is little room for criticism and commentary when it is commonly suggested that if you’re not 100% in favour of us – you are against us. There is always room to do better. Sometimes the way to bring a fresh idea to the table is to challenge a group that you fundamentally believe is on the right track by adversely commenting on the status quo.

To start a conversation about doing it better, ideas need to be brought to the table and considered rather than dismissed out of hand because it might imply criticism. Guy Rundle and John Roskam remind us criticism is often a valuable lesson in life.

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 3,414 total views

The Second Hand Car – Credit Card Sharks and the Ordinary Consumer

By Andrew Klein

Light reading from a rather miffed old fart

Buying a car is an expensive challenge at the best of times. These days one can use the internet to go forth and find a vehicle that is within the price range planned. Not that I am fond of wasting money on cars but there is a time in one’s life where the body says; “It’s time that you find some way of getting around without having to borrow your sister’s car, and given the pounding your body has had … difficult to access public transport and the cost of taxis and a desire to get around … well … Its time.“

So there I was. Looking for something in my price range and second-hand, a car that reflected many of my own character traits. Living within my price range and very much second hand at my age.

Now, dealers of used cars can be fun. We are all familiar with the jokes and the stories that are told about this particular trade. So here is my contribution to the adventures of buying a second-hand car.

The only reason I am sharing this one is because it was not just funny but maybe a sign of the times.

I had made an effort to save money for some time to be able to pay cash for my future means of transport. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want to borrow money at high interest rates and be at the mercy of one or other finance company. The other reason being is that I don’t have a credit rating. I have never been bankrupt, always paid my bills and am financially secure. I have never had a credit card, preferring to save my cash and then make a purchase. This of course does not apply to business practices, where credit is used. But I am talking about the individual me. I discovered that I had no credit history when I tried to apply for a credit card some time ago. I thought it prudent to have access to credit when required for emergencies. I completed the forms proudly listing my assets, income and the usual things one is proud of and with some pride I also noted that I had no debts.

Now I would have thought that at my age, being debt-free would be something to be proud of. But apparently not. I received a rather curt note from the credit card service supplier – a subsidiary of one our major banks – informing me that as I had no record of debt and no liabilities, I was not able to go into debt.

I was stunned. Had I spent my life in debt, owed money and was barely managing to keep afloat financially as a private individual they would gladly not just provide me with a credit card but also offered to consolidate my existing debts which they would manage at a low rate of interest for a ‘honeymoon period‘.

Of course, after the honeymoon was over the interest rate would have shot through the roof and, given the many variables in life this approach to lending money could well have caused me problem. To me this indicates a major problem with the approach of banks and lending practices.

The more one has been in debt, the easier it is to acquire further debt and there is little incentive to save as amounts under a $100,000 attract very poor rates from the banks for borrowing money from the customer, but the same money lent out to borrowers comes at a high cost .

Money, like all things has to be bought and the Interest we way is the cost of that money.

I blame my mother; she taught me to be prudent in my financial dealings and to always try and pay cash or come to a mutually rewarding outcome avoiding banks, and now the banks were punishing me for not having borrowed money. Having once had a mortgage to buy a house did not count because that mortgage was discharged a long time ago (and no more funds being paid to the bank for that one).

Where does that leave the ordinary person that has no credit history or worse, a very bad credit history after having bought into the ‘credit scam’? After all, you are buying the use of money which belongs to other people that have put their money into banks to keep it safe (or so the story goes) and the bank acts as a ‘middle man’ selling you something it does not even own itself. I suppose one could argue that it is lending you the use of money that belongs to a third party and has some obligation to ensure that that money is safe for that third party. Given the history of banking, even this appears a myth, for in buying certain ‘bank products‘ and ‘bank services‘, the customer (lender to bank) is actually taking a huge risk. Banks are involved in superannuation schemes, retirement funds and all manner of ‘money-selling ventures‘ often using other names and identities. When things go terribly pear shaped as during the Global Financial Crisis, several of my friends lost large amounts of money that was meant to have been protected for their retirement.

One minute it was there, then next the New York Stock Market goes belly up and people get bitten in their financial arse in Australia. I remember at the time asking the financial advisors that had organized the monies belonging to friends as to what happened to these investments for retirement. The consensus comment was – “It is gone !” How can money just disappear? How can billions of dollars make a great escape, never to be seen again? The usual refrain was a referral to the stock market, where such funds had been applied to a vast assortment of companies (some superannuation funds would list over a hundred assorted companies, i.e. 1% of holdings to ‘Smelly Fish Pty Ltd’, 0.5 % of holdings to ‘Toe Rag Pty Ltd‘, ad nauseum. (Of course none of the 1% could even be found on the internet for verification but as part of an investment portfolio sold by a bank-related Fund had appeared all to very secure).

Money cannot disappear; it moves from one account to another. There is no money eating monster that digests huge amounts of liquid cash turning it into thin, bad smelling air. Indeed, no one can tell where these other accounts are but had I been in charge of financial policy and governance I would have applied the old saying “Follow the money trail” with vigour.

Where does this leave the person that requires cash at short notice and unable to buy such funds from a bank? Well, the answer is simple: being regarded as a higher risk, the borrower is forced to obtain funds from legal loan sharks in Australia. The cheerful franchises that offer money at incredibly high rates and would sell your children into prostitution or coal mines if the proponents of neoliberal free market trickledown theory had their way .

Next time I might carefully examine the many wonderful money laundering services that have become part of the Australian financial scene.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 3,192 total views

All Unions Should and Do Matter!

By Callen Sorensen Karklis

All Unions Should and Do Matter! Lessons from pandemic times

The Covid-19 pandemic, recession, and the Ukraine oil crisis caught us all by surprise. For many of us, expectations of a Roaring Twenties good times became another repeat of what felt like the 1930s and the GFC. With ever increasing cost of living prices at the grocery store, fuel pump, and stagnant wages, inflation and lockdowns forced many people out of dream jobs and many into old jobs.

For me, mostly I was working part-time in marketing while I was running a share house, and studying full-time in university on my way to gaining a promising post graduate entry level job I was running for city council, and I had a supportive partner and friends around me.

But when Covid hit I lost a great deal of all this, and I knew when my media advertising sales started to crash even before Covid that economic turbulence was on the way as I had a good track record of sales.

In 2020 I found myself losing a city council election during a bitter Labor Party split on overdevelopment issues locally in the Redlands, and half my family and friends losing their jobs (in many of their hospitality jobs) as soon as the lockdowns hit. We all became isolated from important relationships and meaning in our lives. For me, it strained a close relationship during a tough campaign I over committed myself towards … away from other things important in my own life. I found myself finding another campaign to help people in tough times away from city politics towards the politick of unionism. I had a brief history helping the United Voice and RTBU unions assisting employee bargaining notices and market research on election polling in 2011-2012, running Labor Party branches in the Redlands as a Secretary, Vice-President, and Chair/President, and helping the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) on anti-asset campaigns during the Newman era, and wharfie picket lines.

The Australian Unemployed Workers Union and IWW

I used this experience to help the huge sways of unemployed and underemployed workers sacked from bars, sports clubs locally, and cafes. Using the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) as a platform to help those who were losing their livelihoods. In one case we helped people get their jobs back in a sports club. The AUWU is an association operating as a charity advocating for welfare protection. In the past, unemployed workers’ unions were successful in the Great Depression to advocate for full employment policies to all levels of government. I made comrades and repaired old friendships during my city council campaign that continued during the Covid crisis, and we did our best to help those losing a great deal around us. We set up branches in the union to help people doing it tough particularly as many were finding it hard to adjust just living off the state welfare system, some for the first time in their lives.

The AUWU – whilst not perfect in its structure prior to the crisis and riddled with small levels of infighting – set aside these issues when Covid overruled this as a common dominator. Some in the bigger left-wing unions like the Victorian branch of the UWU and CFMMEU supported the association financially and activist. Unfortunately, whilst the union had success in assisting people land on their feet and in some cases fought for jobs being reinstated in workplaces industrially with some help with the QCU. The union sadly became overwhelmed by bitter personality politics, Twitter celebrity wars, lapses in procedure, and infighting on policy direction.

Whilst a state, then national coordinator I observed that this overwhelmed the union and it also didn’t help that the ACTU didn’t take the union seriously enough, but in the end, it was also a double edge sword as the AUWU was filled with some who didn’t take themselves seriously enough regardless of their politics of the left. The AUWU has potential still, but it must follow procedural rules structures like any charity or association. These were the pros and cons of the organisation. The same could be said of the IWW as it was consumed by similar issues despite its strong historical in activism in tough economic times. As it was riddled with a failure in attending to people struggling only focused on turning away help from AUWU activist, and politicians who were anything but supportive like Cairns former state MP and incumbent Cr Rob Pyne (Labor turned socialist).

A lesson I learnt as the interim Secretary of the Qld IWW was that if stronger open-minded activists step up and set the differences these groups could reclaim their influence when times become tough again beyond Covid. Opening membership for input would be the best way forward for these unions to regain influence as they lack positive PR and tarnished as undemocratic by critics.

The Strength of Student Unionism

As I was finishing my undergraduate degree in Government and International Relations, I found the temperament to work for former Labor leader of Brisbane City Council (2016-2020) Cr Peter Cumming of the Wynnum Ward BCC during a work placement. While working for the Brisbane City Councillor during the pandemic I observed the office helping constituents. In doing so, I found myself doing something I never thought I’d be involved in: student politics.

Particularly at Griffith University where I studied. The Labor Club that I was involved in previously in 2011-2016 was filled with bitter infighting between the rivalries of Young Labor between the Left and Right/Forum groups backed by the UWU, AMWU, ETU in the Left and AWU, SDA, and TWU on the right. In fact, in earlier years in 2011 the Left and Right of the ALP at Griffith used to compete candidates against each other in the student representative council (SRC) while I made attempts on deaf ears to see unity among Young Labor on campus. Over the years there was a multitude of SRC reps from political parties be it LNP, Labor, Greens, or independents, some good, some bad. The infighting of earlier Young Labor years soured my interest in student unionism during my 20s. Particularly as I saw first-hand how bar tabs overruled decent discussions about ideas, and policy in the youth wings of the major parties.

That said, with the pandemic hitting students particularly hard with many losing their retail, fast food, or hospitality jobs, and from what I observed in the AUWU, I endured my resolve to put aside any personal issues I was having in my own life (relationship and family issues). I networked to become more involved in the Griffith Indigenous Student Association (GISA) among fellow Indigenous students and became its secretary; one of whom resigned from a vacant position on the SRC which Indigenous students nominated me to take. On the SRC and GISA I pushed for bursary funding for food vouchers which helped many students get through the lockdowns on little wages and welfare payments. Many of us on the SRC came from different ALP factions but put aside our differences for the students in a hard time. I did this also as the University hired me as a student ambassador … the only problem was the University was running low on financial backing for many of its domestic students with cuts to mental health and financial services. As everybody’s pay was delayed which the NTEU assisted in resolving, what I learnt during this period was the value of student unionism: Unity, cooperation, resilience in hard times.

The Successes of the Retail Fast Food Union

One thing I did notice from HR departments in one retailer was a large sway of recruitment which made it clear to me there was a great deal of high turnover rates. I also noticed managers being forced out over wage disputes, stress, and younger staff barely out of high school becoming department managers and supervisors with next to no training. There were also issues of workplace bullying and harassment, particularly from young staff towards older more experienced staff. Coincidentally while enjoying music with some friends on an evening, I was also king hit and physically assaulted where I had a head injury from a stranger I never met before. As horrible as this experience was and having to deal with paramedics and police. Whilst I was already towards the end of a 3-month probationary hired at a second retail store as an Assistant Dairy/Freezer manager and 2IC for an employer I can’t disclose for legal reasons. I was responsible for dairy orders, stock rotation, managing staff, and receiving invoices from product reps. Whilst working there after becoming ill after my head injury and assault and coming down with the flu during the Covid scare I was then sacked for “working too slow” … RAFFWU organizers assisted me by assisting in a general protection order notice to the former employer on grounds it was unfair considering they knew about my medical issues taking place at that time. The matter was resolved with Fair Work’s help in conciliation.

The union was filled with organisers of other bigger unions and experience such as the NTEU and managed things with greater improvement to what occurred in the SDA (Shop Distribution Union) which I was a member of from 2008-2015. In the SDA union I felt isolated in my interests as a worker in my earlier pay disputes and agreements and on social issues such as same-sex marriage as I struggled with coming to terms with my own sexuality in my late teens/early 20s. It’s little why RAFFWU have had success in organizing the first national union strike in the retail sector for Apple workers fighting for better working conditions amid the pandemic.

 

Lessons from the Pandemic

Important lessons for me (and most importantly others) now and beyond is that all unions help either workers, the unemployed, underemployed and students, as they all matter! They shouldn’t just be used as career jumping lily pads for recruiting future politicians albeit future and past politicians can come from these roots as a recruiting ground this much is true. But their heart and passion for helping the common person must be paramount. Unity teamwork, regardless of ideology is especially important for any organisation to function, without which, chaos ensues. Over a century ago my forefathers on both sides of my family were inspired by great ideas and policies in the union movement to do great things. Alfred Martin – an early Aboriginal rights activist who along with several relations of Quandamooka workers of the Benevolent Asylum – fought for fair days’ pay for First Nations people: the first won for Indigenous peoples anywhere in Australia at the time after working slave labour. And James Wilson Hughes of Gympie – a grocery store owner amongst the bustling mining working class town of Gympie – who took on notice to fight for better services in health care providing for ambulances and better roads by implementing full employment policies to help those less fortunate to work a fair day pay who came from very little and those who were unemployed as the Town Treasurer during the Great Depression while advocating for more services in Gympie.

Callen, who has Bachelor of Government and International Relations, is a Quandamooka Nunukul Aboriginal person from North Stradbroke Island. He has been the Secretary of the Qld Fabians in 2018, and the Assistant Secretary 2018-2019, 2016, and was more recently the Policy and Publications Officer 2020-2021. Callen previously was in Labor branch executives in the Oodgeroo (Cleveland areas), SEC and the Bowman FEC. He has also worked for Cr Peter Cumming, worked in market research, trade unions, media advertising, and worked in retail. He also ran for Redland City Council in 2020 on protecting the Toondah Ramsar wetlands. Callen is active in Redlands 2030, Labor LEAN, the Redlands Museum, and his local sports club at Victoria Pt Sharks Club. Callen also has a Diploma of Business and attained his tertiary education from Griffith University and QLD TAFE. Callen is a member of Workers Power radio program on 4ZZZ.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 1,586 total views,  4 views today

The Voice

By 2353NM

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong recently addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Accompanying Wong on the trip was Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen and ‘Special Envoy for Reconciliation’ Pat Dodson. Wong told the General Assembly that Australia believed the UN and its forums “need reinforcing”, especially as others “seek to undermine them”.

At the General Assembly, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted the world had a number of problems to work through and

listed war, climate, the continuing pandemic, rising poverty and inequality. Those last points are where Pat Dodson comes in. The Aboriginal senator, who Wong introduced to the news conference as the “father of reconciliation”, had a series of high-level meetings progressing the Albanese government’s First Nations foreign policy.

Critical to this policy is the government’s commitment to right a historic wrong – the unrecognised, unceded sovereignty of the Australian continent by its original inhabitants.

There is no other polite description than ‘historic wrong’. The ‘First Fleet’ sailed into Sydney Cove in early 1788 and proceeded to set up a settlement. There was no apparent thought given to the people that were clearly already living there who were pushed away from their traditional lands as the settlement expanded. Commonly known as the ‘frontier wars’, the exercise in dispossession is claimed to have caused the death of 20,000 First Nations people between 1788 and 1928, part of our history that will be acknowledged in the expansion of the Australian War Memorial that is currently under construction.

Since 1788, more often than not the First Nations people of this country have been under-represented in the halls of power and over-represented when inequality is considered. There are examples in most jurisdictions within Australia of First Nations people being corralled into ‘settlements’ and ‘missions’ outside the view of the ‘respectable’ members of the community. Those in power used titles such as ‘Protector of Aborigines’ which they seemed to believe gave them absolute insight into the ‘needs and wants’ of First Nations people. The ‘Stolen Generations’ where children were forcibly removed from the parents and expected to assimilate into European culture are all the evidence we should need to demonstrate our misguided actions. Even if the actions were considered appropriate at the time, clearly no one in authority thought to question for a second the actual wishes and desires of First Nations people in comparison to the perceived wishes and desires inherent in the implied ‘superiority’ of ‘European civilisation’. Needless to say the implied needs or wants had nothing to do with the reality. As a country we have a long history of ‘protectionism’ and abuse of First Nations people who have the oldest civilisation in the world despite being dispossessed of their land from the time the First Fleet arrived in 1788, although the civilisation wasn’t in the European tradition.

The ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ website gives a potted history of the process to date that hopefully will create effective equality between the descendants of First Nations people who were dispossessed and those that have immigrated to this country since 1788. There have been a number of attempts and processes put into place over the past years to address the obvious discrimination, culminating in the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017. ‘The Voice’ process, as the first step recommended by the Uluru Statement, was adopted by a joint party committee of the Australian Parliament in 2018, despite the Coalition Government rejecting the proposal in the Turnbull era.

The current government came to power with a policy of providing a ‘voice’ for First Nations people to Parliament. The proposal they have announced that will be put to a referendum is

Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?

The actual intent is,

A First Nations Voice to Parliament is the first reform called for in the Uluru Statement. This is a Constitutionally-enshrined body of First Nations with a direct line to Federal Parliament, able to influence laws and policies that affect First Nations communities first-hand — at the point they originate. A constitutional Voice is both symbolic and substantive recognition.

Despite that, right wing Liberal Senator Gerald Rennick

has described the Indigenous Voice to Parliament as a “divisive measure”.

“I’m opposed to it on principle; we are one race,” Mr Rennick told Sky News Australia.

“I do not know why you need that in the constitution.

“There is already a voice, we are all a voice.

If we are ‘all one race’ why is it that First Nations people have a shorter life expectancy, lower levels of income and typically worse health outcomes than the population generally?

Like all consensus decisions, some would prefer alternatives to the ‘Voice to Parliament’. It is also easy to create theoretical outcomes of a yet to be implemented policy based on no or incomplete information, then hold the theoretical outcomes up as a reason why the policy should be scrapped. Using the same logic, no one would ever plan an overseas holiday in a year’s time, take out a mortgage or make any plans for the future as there is always the possibility it just won’t happen. Some have valid reasons for their viewpoint, others such as Rennick and former Prime Minister Abbott, with his claim of ‘institutionalising discrimination’ are opposing for the sake of opposition – something it seems the Liberal Party is very good at.

Prime Minister Albanese has argued that the ‘Voice to Parliament’ is clearly not a third chamber of Parliament, or a process to subvert the government of the day. The referendum will occur in 2023 or 2024.

Former Prime Minister Rudd started the reconciliation process with his apology in 2007, now it’s long past the time to demonstrate the apology was more than just words by including First Nations people in the decisions made about them by the Australian Parliament. The ‘Voice to Parliament’ is the consensus view of the best available option for this to occur, and should be supported.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 1,686 total views

“Science based and credible”- what’s needed for an Australian sustainable finance taxonomy

Australian Sustainable Finance Institute Media Release

A new report outlines the key considerations that will inform the development of an Australian taxonomy to advance sustainable finance and drive investment in the transition to a net zero economy using credible, science-based definitions.

In November 2020 the Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap called for a taxonomy to urgently shift new and existing capital into activities that create and better support sustainable and equitable outcomes for Australia. After its establishment in July 2021, the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute (ASFI) prioritised the development of Australia’s sustainable finance taxonomy, recognising the need to mobilise more capital towards the country’s energy shift away from fossil fuels.

Executive Officer Kristy Graham says “The strongest and most consistent messaging from our research and consultation is that the taxonomy must be science-based and credible. This is critically important for international interoperability, to ensure community confidence, and to give investors, banks and insurers confidence in their sustainability claims as they design products, make sustainability commitments and prepare their disclosures.” “There is also strong consensus that a transition category should be included to ensure a mechanism to guide capital in credible sectoral decarbonisation pathways in Australia, given the high carbon intensity of the Australian economy, which is at the early stages of the path to net zero.”

To provide technical input to the taxonomy project, ASFI brought together an expert group of 55 members and observers from across the finance sector including from banking, consulting, superannuation, asset management, private equity, ESG market specialists, academics, and international taxonomy experts, as well as key financial industry peaks and Australian governments and regulators.

ASFI has received strong engagement and support from the Federal Treasury and government regulators- Reserve Bank of Australia, ASIC, APRA, all of whom are observers in the process. “This report provides the basis for the development of a taxonomy which meets the needs of Australia, without replicating work done overseas.”

“We are confident we will be able to achieve international interoperability while considering Australia’s unique economy circumstances and starting position. ASFI is not looking to recreate the wheel but learn from what exists globally and build on it”, Graham says. ASFI are collaborating with jurisdictions across the region and in Europe and North America and are having open and ongoing conversations with them to share information, approaches and lessons learned. The Report outlines globally there are 12 taxonomies in place, and 15 currently under development– collectively representing more than 55 per cent of global GDP.

As part of the release of this paper ASFI will be surveying a broader range of finance sector stakeholders to further inform and validate the initial findings. The next deliverable, planned for release by the end of the year is a recommendations paper for an Australian taxonomy, which will set out the proposed framework and design elements of an Australian taxonomy and will be open for broad public comment and feedback.

Note: You can access the report and further information about the project here.

What is a taxonomy: A sustainable finance taxonomy is effectively a set of definitions of activities or assets that are considered sustainable, and which can be used to define sustainable investments credibly and transparently. Taxonomies help to make it easier to identify opportunities, to create sustainable assets and activities and guide capital to support the achievement of Australia’s climate, environmental and social objectives. They also provide the finance sector with confidence and assurance of sustainability claims, enabling comparability between investment products and portfolios and
reducing transaction costs.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,440 total views

Governments need to listen to community groups on climate change

By Keith Antonysen

Profit is of far more importance than the wellbeing of individuals, communities and countries it would seem, displayed by ignoring the need to transition away from existing fossil fuel mines and no new fossil fuel mines should be developed. We are constantly seeing extreme conditions amplified by greenhouse gases. Both major political parties are involved with not doing enough to ward off climate change. The LNP did little, the Labor government has sought to decrease national emissions but creates a huge carbon footprint through exporting large amounts of fossil fuels. The reason being cosy International agreements. Those agreements fit in nicely with the wishes of fossil fuel corporations.

Extinction Rebellion has been instrumental in the formation of a group of scientists taking the same kind of actions as Extinction Rebellion take. Other scientists have suggested that scientists go on strike by not involving themselves in the next IPCC Report. A number of scientists are extremely disappointed with what politicians are doing in relation to climate change policy; and so, are willing to place their positions on the line. Governments have acted by criminalising activists gluing themselves to buildings or chaining themselves to equipment. It provides a paradox; it’s not ok to be a nuisance but it is fine to support industries which cause death to humans and the biosphere along with other significant nasty occurrences which affect millions of people worldwide.

CAN-West, as with many other groups seeks to provide information about climate change. Councils have been contacted along with State and Federal politicians. CAN-West has been involved with stalls at community functions. A few years ago, CAN-West was involved with an information session organised in relation to a micro hydro plant. Some communities are centred around renewable energy obtained from micro hydro plants and solar energy.

Many Municipal Councils have policies in relation to climate change though how stringently those policies are enacted is open to question. But there have been some projects such as safeguarding shore lines that have displayed strong action. It depends on how much action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases which will determine the success or otherwise of policies and projects developed in slowing down climate change damage.

The greenhouse gases already expelled into the atmosphere do not dissipate for a number of decades in the case of methane, and many centuries in the case of CO2. Some CO2 is taken up by Oceans, though as Oceans warm the ability to take up CO2 is reduced. Deforestation is another factor which reduces the amount of CO2 stored.

Many citizens in communities are involved with practical enterprises such as community gardens, or micro hydro or solar schemes; other people are involved with promoting science; others are operating as political activists; some people might take on most of those activities. Within these groups there is a wide demographic distribution.

Keith Antonysen has been researching climate change for decades. Apart from reading about climate science, Keith also views pseudo-science presented by contrarians. It seems that the material referenced by contrarians is continually recycled. Immense problems will be created unless real efforts are made to thwart the worst climate can throw at us. Nature bats last.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,542 total views

Hey, Albo: it is “Time To Fly” beyond LNP up and away from immigration mistakes

By Jane Salmon

Midnight Oil’s historic last gig was marked by the attendance of Anthony Albanese. Band member Rob Hirst chose a particular t-shirt to mark the event. This fabled band’s form is to be political to the last, bless them.

The t-shirt, easily seen on the drum dais, is illustrated with a bird and the words “Time To Fly”. It is a design by a refugee held by Australia on Manus Island in PNG.

When trapped on Manus for 6 years, songwriter, t-shirt designer and artist Farhad Bandesh did indeed dream of flying away to a safer place such as Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

Instead, he was used as a deterrent against “irregular” (bit never illegal) maritime arrivals. He was made a hostage in a tropical hell

The children of parents held in tents on sweltering Nauru became the focus of another campaign.

Medical chaos and human distress collided, often only alleviated by Panadol. Oddball contract staff came and went as did contractors and Immigration ministers. There was the raid by hyped up outsiders and local guards that caused the death of Reza Berati within the wire. Sometimes no-one was in charge as during the November 2017 siege when generators and water as well as food were denied.

During the forced move from the RPC to new, unfinished quarters run by PNG directly after the siege, men were hit with iron bars. This was under the eye of Australian Home Affairs staff and possibly at their actual behest. Thanush Selvarasa shared this on live video with the world.

Detainees like Farhad and his friend Moz managed to turn their pain into art and music. Farhad’s “Time to Fly” design became a t-shirt worn around the world. Back in Australia, producers helped with fatter harmonies, while cartoonists and dancers gave form to Farhad’s compositions. Flash mobs danced at railway stations. Farhad’s “Time to Fly” logo was frequently seen at protests in rural towns, at churches and of course rallies against Immigration cruelty in capital cities. Years were ticking by. It is now even on bottles of wine he has produced.

 

 

The shift of detainees to Port Moresby for more inadequate medical “treatment” under guard as defined by PNG immigration led to more challenges.

There was the political fight to retain mobile phones in detention. The injunctions won by George Newhouse to save phones were temporary and not binding on PNG-run hospitals or the Bomana immigration facility in Moresby.

The relentless greyness of the Preston Mantra hotel in Melbourne under lockdown was the next of Farhad’s ordeals. The windows barely opened an inch. All visits stopped.

Occasionally they were taken under guard to a doctor or dentist or to MITA. Protests outside the hotel continued.

Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie used the lockdown and his extensive network to produce music and video for Moz.

To break up the daily selfie protest, Farhad was moved to MITA, Melbourne’s chilly Immigration transit accommodation. Many people in varying categories of indefinite immigration detention are separated by cyclone wire. Dawn deportations by masked men in riot gear are routine.

Repeal of the Medevac legislation, thanks to a “mistake” by Lambie, meant it was illegal to keep the guys indefinitely detained as Covid raged through quarantine hotels.

Refugee advocates and organisations lobbied for the New Zealand option and for sponsored migration of refugees to Canada as well as Finland.

And, finally, at the end of 2020, Farhad was freed. He walked straight out the gates of MITA and into the arms of supporters including Craig Foster, Arnold Zable and Jenelle Quinsee who were there to mark his birthday. David Bridie dropped over. The release gave hope to many left at the Preston Mantra and next the dank and completely airless Park Hotel. However, it was over another agonising year before all were freed in the run up to an election.

Since his release, Farhad’s friends have supported him with music, visits to concerts and even a donkey sanctuary. The family of Jimmy Barnes generously provided tickets and selfies to Farhad and Moz. A Midnight Oil concert soon followed.

 

 

His health is still not fully addressed. There is no compensation for the years lost. Court costs must still be met from wages or donations by an exhausted band of pensioner advocates. Worry about family left behind never ceases.

Moz has gone on to produce more music, friendships and art. He even works for a charity.

Having been uprooted from an area of Iran famous for its viticulture, Farhad began to harvest shiraz grapes to bottle own wine vintage. A gin was next.

Iranian 501s continue to be detained indefinitely, having no refoulment agreement. A slowly declining number of detainees still struggle in PNG and on Nauru. Medical need still brings many here.

With the election of a Labor Government, the rise of the Teals an part of an expanding clutch of pro refugee and pro-integrity independents, and the granting of permanent residency to the Muruguppan family in Biloela, there has been hope of a less reflexive Immigration regime.

However, concerning signs remain that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese still has not got the moral courage to face down redneck racists, to run a robust review Australia’s role in the global refugee situation or to resist the illogical Morrison/Dutton/Abbott/Downer stances based on xenophobia and an obsession with maritime security.

Labor has announced increased skilled workforce migration but not completely come to grips with the visa processing backlog. The head of a corrupt Home Affairs department, Michael Pezullo, remains in place.

The new Labor government has not renounced offshore detention, indefinite detention, the doctrine of Sovereign Borders, the policy of turnbacks.

The crowds of 13000 refugees stranded in Indonesia have not been processed.

More than 100 days since the appointment of the new Labor government, the offshore cohort are still in limbo. Their short-run visas are still being renewed piecemeal. Those working on SHEVs and transit visas are still affected by bans on study and by continuous uncertainty. Those on Community Detention visas are refused the right to work.

Worse, those on Bridging Visas include men like Farhad from the Medevac cohort.

In the past month, many have been given letters signed by Alana Sullivan (First Assistant Secretary of the People Smuggling Taskforce). These letters tell Farhad’s cohort that they will not be settled here, that it is in fact “Time To Fly” to New Zealand or the US or wherever. The New Zealand offer is generous and it may be a workable destination, as Behrouz Boochani’s career shows. However the offer comes after almost a decade of being being made an example, of being dragged in handcuffs from pillar to post. It is a policy based on a previous situation and one of our own making.

Had we established regional processing in 2007 there would have been no boats. Labor simply had to stare down the Islamophobic fear of inundation and they didn’t.

That is, after 9 bitter years, Farhad and friends are still being treated as unprocessed hostages and Hanson is still permitted to indulge in racial slurs against brown colleagues in the Senate. Enough is enough.

Molan, Abbott, Downer, Dutton and Morrison’s outdated and still apparently Islamophobic doctrine of Sovereign Borders still holds at a time of workforce shortages arising from the hiatus in migration during Covid.

Many of the Manus and Nauru workforce have settled into life here, held down frontline jobs during Covid, pay taxes, have leases and are looking forward to acquiring mortgages.

It is not time to flee or fly. It is time to stay.

It is to be hoped that when Albo was grooving to Midnight Oil’s last Sydney concert, he caught a glimpse of Hirst’s t shirt and the story it tells. It bear’s witness to one man’s ordeal and the struggle of a brave group of refugees who beg to be simply left to rebuild their lives in peace. They have been the playthings of politicians for too long.

One thing is for sure, Farhad will not be abandoning his partner, musical collaborators, colleagues or friends to rush back to Iran. Guns are not his thing and their prevalence in America makes the US a less than appealing destination, too.

He is part of a cohort of men who have been internationalised by their time together in detention. Their cultural wisdom, patience, resilience and tolerance has become an asset Australia should embrace.

This week has been significant for Iranian Kurds like Farhad. It was a Kurdish woman’s (Mahsa Amini) relaxed use of the headscarf that led to her death. The national uprising against repression of women by the patriarchal regime has drawn global support. Worry for family is exacerbated.

If Ukranian and Afghan refugees can be flown straight here to be settled, if the housing market is easing enough to reduce rents and sales, it is time to put aside the legacy of racist police, military, immigration and political institutions that are holding the 2013 boat cohort back. We need these workers. We need their culture. We need their contribution and we need their warmth in an increasingly troubled international context.

And thank you so much Midnight Oil. You have always pointed the way to a more compassionate Australia. And on so many levels.

We can do better. I sincerely hope Albo’s government can grasp the nettle and try. Or red will turn teal and flee.

 

 

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,840 total views

Kicking climate down the road

By 2353NM

You’re probably aware of some who don’t see the need to reduce emissions. They have a lot of different reasons or excuses for the position, including the current systems have served us well in the past, we’re only a small population so our changes won’t mean much or just a general reluctance to consider the future. These people typically will not like Dr Saul Griffin who is Australian, an adviser to the current US President and a global advocate for net zero emissions using a really simple process – electrify everything.

Dr Griffin claims

The general idea is to replace technologies that still run on combustion with alternatives that run on renewable electricity: swap petrol cars for electric vehicles (EVs) and gas heaters with reverse-cycle air conditioners.

By electrifying everything that can be electrified, Australia could cut its emissions by 80 per cent by 2035, according to credible estimates.

And it wouldn’t need to invent any new technology to do this.

And how does Dr Griffin believe we generate the power for this transformation?

The main reasons Australia has an advantage in electrification is its geography and relatively small population, Dr Griffith said.

“We have the best solar resources, we have the best wind resources, we have a giant landmass so we can produce copious quantities or renewable energy — more than we need for ourselves.

“Our giant houses have very large roofs … we can generate enormous amounts of our residential and even our transportation loads off our own rooftops.”

While the Government’s 43% emissions reduction by 2030 is far better than the former Coalition Government’s 26% to 28%, clearly it’s not that hard to do better.

So now you’re thinking if it’s that easy to get to net zero emissions, we could have done it years ago. The companies that supply the items needed to get to net zero should just get their act together and have the right products available for sale. Sadly, it’s not that easy and that’s where the politics comes in. The ‘right products’ are in high demand.

Volkswagen’s Australian General Manager claimed in 2021 that the company sold 212,000 electric vehicles across the world in 2020.

Volkswagen didn’t ship any EVs to Australia in 2020, despite many Australians asking to buy them, said Michael Bartsch, general manager of Volkswagen Group Australia.

“There isn’t a day go by where we’re not answering a query on when we’ll be able to supply an electric vehicle in Australia,” he said.

So why not meet this demand?

Because his global head office, located in Germany, won’t agree to it, Mr Bartsch said.

“Australia has some of the most lax environmental standards in the world.

“We are a Third World dumping ground in terms of automotive technology.

“We’ll put those cars where we get the biggest commercial advantage, and the biggest commercial advantage of the moment, when you overlay the fines for not achieving the CO2 targets, is Europe.”

Fair enough too. If Volkswagen would be fined, it’s logical to expect that every other vehicle manufacturer that supplied cars to Europe would be in the same position. Volkswagen aren’t the only ones ‘making adjustments’ for our pathetic environmental record over the last decade, Hyundai Australia effectively conducts a raffle for the right to purchase one of their pre-configured new design electric vehicles while you will apparently be waiting for years for Kia’s version of the same car.

The leaders of the former Australian Government at the time were claiming that if sales of emissions intensive utility vehicles fall, the weekend would be ruined, or more disingenuously that there are no electric utility vehicles manufactured anywhere in the world. Why would Volkswagen and others attempt to sell ‘in demand’ electric vehicles in Australia (where the government of the day didn’t give a toss) while being fined for not selling enough electric vehicles in regions that are taking emissions reduction far more seriously?

According to The Guardian

In 2014, the Climate Change Authority recommended Australia adopt standards to reduce emissions intensity of cars. It failed to do so, and became an outlier, with countries representing 80% of the global market opting to impose such standards.

In 2018, the average emissions intensity for new passenger vehicles in Australia was 169.8 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, compared to 129.9 in the United States, 120.4 in Europe and 114.6 in Japan.

Clearly this was seen as another attack on ‘the weekend’ by the former government and nothing was ever done about it, except for some ‘promises’ around tightening fuel standards in 2027, which the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government never got around to legislating (unlike the ‘Stage 3’ tax cuts). When the lack of fuel standards and emissions regulations are considered, the statement of Volkswagen’s Michael Bartsch is even more telling. Apart from Russia, Australia is the only country in the OECD that doesn’t have fuel efficiency standards. The Australia Institute released a report in August 2022 that

shows that $5.9 billion in fuel costs would have been saved and emissions equivalent to a year’s worth of domestic flights would have been avoided, if robust fuel efficiency standards were adopted in 2015.

At the same time, Australian Governments are actively subsidising fuel companies. The Conversation reported recently

Australia spends billions each year giving subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, despite our climate change commitments. The Australia Institute estimates that in the 2021-22 budget period, Australian federal and state governments’ total fossil fuel subsidies cost A$11.6 billion. That’s up $1.3 billion on the previous year.

Yet there are claims by the climate change skeptics that financial support to increase the uptake of electric vehicles should not be allowed.

Logically those that are arguing for no change are in a difficult place. The petrol pump was only invented around 100 years ago, some time after motor vehicles were introduced. A lot of people who had forged a career in looking after horses and carts had to re-skill. Prior to the advent of the motor car and suitable roads (which arguably have yet to arrive in parts of Australia), the way to ‘get away’ was to catch a train or walk, not jump into your car and drive for hundreds of miles. To seriously suggest that generations of families have hooked up the caravan or boat behind the oversized Tonka truck and driven for 500 miles without stopping as some politicians and climate change skeptics have attempted to do is ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous when it suggested that the caravan is hooked up every weekend.

Albanese’s ALP Government is at least doing something to prepare for our inevitable future, unlike the Coalition Governments of the past decade who realistically did nothing except wreck a perfectly good emission trading scheme. Whether the government is acting fast enough is a discussion for another day, however faster is apparently possible. All kicking emissions reduction down the road has really done is ensured we gained a reputation of being seriously out of step with the majority of the world, we are worse off economically and we’ll have to work harder and cut emissions faster to get back on track.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 3,734 total views

Farhad Bandesh gets the letter

By Jane Salmon

This sadistic letter (see letter at the bottom of this article) is doing the rounds of Medevac survivors on Bridging Visas. It shows that Labor have yet to end the abuse meted out to those held offshore since 2013. This outrageous immigration stance reduces Labor to the low moral level of Dutton, Morrison and Abbott who used refugees as mere deterrents. Labor’s position is an electoral bonus for the Greens and Teal Independents.

My response:

Going to NZ is brutal for people such as Farhad Bandesh who has long standing friendships, business partnerships and started to build a life here. His cohort has already been bullied with iron bars on Manus at Australia’s behest, made sick, been held in hotel detention and pushed from pillar to post by Australia. We have yet to heal or compensate them adequately. Enough is enough. Farhad has a business here. NZ is splendid, though smaller and less diverse.

It is legal under the Geneva Convention to seek asylum by any means.

The so called “Sovereign Borders” doctrine is rubbish. “Push” factors outweigh any “pull” factors. People only resort to boats if there are no other options. Naval interception happens.

If the Labor Federal Government can create an orderly and efficient visa process and boats will be less attractive. They have so far baulked at this challenge.

Australia has yet to sort out regional processing pathways and processes. Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan remain unstable and unsafe as do Myanmar, Uyghur China and Sri Lanka, parts of Africa. The fact that Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan are drawing the majority of refugees speaks for itself.

Why is it that Shorten can start overhauling the NDIS in days … but Giles and O’Neill are still listening to and being stymied by the old guard?

We have a workforce shortage exacerbated by short-sighted racist policies.

Farhad is contributing to industry, commerce, tax and culture. What’s not to love? Ditto Moz, Thanush and their friends.

Labor will be judged by their deeds, not their rhetoric. Their actions have not significantly separated them from racist bigoted (thug) leaders like Dutton, Abbott, Morrison or Molan to date.

The culture of Home Affairs, ABF, Immigration and their contractors is unacceptable. There seems to be no capacity for change. Pezullo should not be retained.

Ongoing displacement and abuse of this cohort is intolerable. They need to heal. Healing from trauma takes peace, consistency and security.

People like Farhad, Moz and Thanush are contributors not takers. They are forgiving, resilient and capable. Their departure to the NZ or US would be our loss. That they can tolerate Australians after the abuse they have suffered at our hands is remarkable.

As an Australian citizen of 66 years, I (like others) are being denied the opportunity to maintain and develop established friendships with them.

I can promise Albo that if he behaves like Morrison he will be treated like Morrison.

Refugee advocates don’t discriminate.

Albanese needs to show moral courage.

Ending the abuse of the Bilo family was great.

But it is now overdue for Labor to prove it wasn’t a shallow gesture. End all the ongoing abuse and repair the damage.

The refugee sector will judge Labor by its acts. They end the suffering or we will help turn every marginal Teal and Green.

They get on with it or can expect a world of pain.

On the other hand, we will be very grateful for acts that substantively differentiate the current Immigration regime from that administered by Dutton, Tudge, Andrews, Morrison.

Albo, O’Neill, Giles may expect the political fate of Keneally if they further harm our refugee friends. These people are as much victims of Labor’s moral cowardice as of (bogan racist security nuts on the conservative side of politics) LNP.

Talk is cheap. Action is what matters.

As someone who has spent years trying to provide 24/7 mental health support to traumatised victims of sovereign borders policy these letters seems incredibly destructive of any hard won equanimity. It is violent to maintain this abuse. I resent the vicarious distress.

We have not yet offered reparation or fully addressed the mental and physical harm of offshore.

Pamela Curr can describe the birth trauma of women on Nauru in great detail.

These men deserve our love and care. They deserve a fair go within Australia.

Anything less is intolerable.

Jimmy Barnes, Jim Moginie of Midnight Oil, Miss Higgins, Mark Seymour, Simon Holmes a Court, artists, Angus McDonald, Craig Foster and the independent political bloc or Teals, the Bilo campaign, Gillian Triggs AND many rural Australians have demonstrated their care. Many want to share Australia with Farhad, Thanush, Moz and their cohort.

Finally the signatories to these letters are shameless and obsessively vindictive. They have already abused these men in detention using Australian taxpayer money for 9 years, opposed them in court and then demanded costs.

On the other hand, we’ll celebrate every good thing Labor does. It’s up to them. We are a very cohesive community, either way.

*(Some lawyers, Human Rights Watch and others like RCOA might have suggested that these letters carry very little legal weight but that the government will ramp up the harassment.)

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 3,306 total views

Advancing the Quest for Popular Entertainment

By Denis Bright

Faced with months of lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian households have been in revolt against hours of uninspiring free to air television network options. Householders are firmly wedded to subscriptions to commercial streaming services whose programme choices are quite removed from the controls available to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Years of financial austerity in Australian Government media policies have certainly broken the hegemony of the free to air television networks.

The costs of subscriptions to streaming services does not seem to be a barrier. A Netflix premium subscription costs $22 per month. Foxtel requires commitment to a variety of twelve month subscription plans at rates of up to $120/month for the Platinum Premier Plus Package. Subscription costs can be halved by reduced access options. The Disney channel is included in all options. Subscribers can choose to specialize in sporting channels, movies or access to television channels covering crime, history or home and reality series.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shows the trendlines in viewing behaviour in its annual surveys. The arrival of Catch-up television has temporarily saved free to air television despite the strong challenges from subscription services and free access to some social media channels such as YouTube, TikTok and Facebook. A typical viewer spends 26.6 hours per week watching video content according to the latest ACMA survey which has been processed from data collected in June 2021. Time spent watching videos from subscription services including Foxtel at 10.2 hours in the survey week slightly exceeds the use of free to air television and catch up television.

The popularity of the newer streaming services obviously reflected a profound dissatisfaction with the content of free to air drama programmes. The quest for exciting viewing might compromise quality viewing.

Research by the ACMA on the trending production hits might assist in developing alternative themes for more discerning audiences that are more relevant for Australian audiences.

Netflix claims to be reviewing its trending movies as shown by the background notes on Jason Wiese as team writer for Netflix:

The Background: Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend’s SEO Team. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a “professional film fan” career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun.

What He’s Into: Readers may notice a recurring theme of horror and superhero-related content (especially in regards to Batman) in much of Jason’s work, but his favorite film of all time is more in line with traditional action/adventure stories: Raiders of the Lost Ark. His favorite TV series is the gritty, grounded crime thriller Breaking Bad and if you catch him reading anything, it is probably a comic book (and, more often than not, one featuring Batman). More important to him than entertainment, however, are his wife and two dogs.

What He’s Excited About Right Now: Two of Jason’s all-time favorite movie franchises (Indiana Jones and Evil Dead) are making a comeback in 2023 with James Mangold’s fifth instalment and Evil Dead Rise, which has made staying calm quite a struggle for him lately. However, even more than either of those sequels, he is especially looking forward to returning to Matt Reeves’ vision of Gotham City in the upcoming follow-up to The Batman.

The latest survey by the ACMA shows that usage of Foxtel is eclipsed by other streaming services which can bypass traditional Australian content regulations.

The hierarchy of online video access is monitored by ACMA

Use of Online Video Services June 2021

 

The appeal of the streaming services is so great that the Australian Government’s Screen Australia has invested in productions on these commercial services:

Stan and Lionsgate have commissioned the brand new Stan Original Series Prosper, with major production investment from Screen Australia. Produced by Lingo Pictures, this razor-sharp drama of faith, ambition and divided loyalties is set in the inner sanctum of a family bound together by unfathomable wealth and unchecked power as they build an evangelical megachurch hell-bent on global domination.

In the case of public television networks offered through the ABC and SBS, government resourcing has been eroded by years of financial austerity. This austerity extended resources available from the Australian government to the wider arts sector.

This was apparent in the last federal LNP budget for 2022-23. Expenditure on the Australian Film Television and Radio School, Screen Australia and public sector television services were cut in real terms after allowing for inflation. Even in these public broadcasting networks, Australian content has artificially been maintained by current affairs segments with the support of quiz programmes. SBS is notorious for its repeats of imported low cost documentaries and for saturation levels of advertising to keep the network in operation and to support its multicultural commitments.

SBS News (30 March 2022) noted that funding for the arts had been slashed from $989 million in 2021-22 to $799 million in 2022-23, and even further to $736 million in 2023-24. Limelight magazine elaborated on the consequences of these cut-backs:

With spending set to fall from $990 million in 2021-22 to $799 million in 2022-23, arts and cultural development funding will tumble from $159 million to just $20.3 million.

Meanwhile forward estimates paint a dire picture for government film and television investment, particularly for funding body Screen Australia, as well as a big reduction in funding for regional arts.

Dr Ben Eltham, a lecturer in Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism, tells Limelight there is “grinding austerity baked into the next three or four years.”

Such long-term deficiencies in public funding cannot be addressed overnight. It takes time to train a new generation of competent producers, writers and actors.

Screen Australia generates small amounts of additional revenue from its own investment in commercial network productions according to the latest annual report available for the 2020-21 financial year.

Michelle Rowland as the new Minister for Communications has been given the task of developing proactive media policies in the context of years of commitment to a neoliberal focus in our media policies.

With its partial ownership by Telstra in association with News Corp, Foxtel has a superior borrowing capacity than the Australian Department of Communications.

This gives Foxtel a real capacity to anticipate the programmes and news services which have wide appeal to audiences. The current borrowings by Foxtel alone approach the total resourcing of the ABC Network for 2022-23 and are running at twice the current resourcing level of SBS.

The investment by Netflix in The remake of Heartbreak High is attracting potential audiences on both the local and overseas markets. The original television series was partially funded by public television from BBC2. A successful film sequel was released as The Heart Break Kid in 1993.

More government funding of public broadcasting networks and cinema and documentary productions through Screen Australia will not restore old viewing habits which may have been state of the art policies during the 1970s when the intrusions of commercial streaming services were not a problem.

Any changes in media policy must also interact with the enormous profile video sharing and social media platforms which can be accessed without cost. YouTube is the second most popular web site which is owned by Google. Globally, Facebook and TikTok attract billions of users.

Australia could easily establish a Dreamtime Hub to share our diverse national values through the uploading of popular entertainment, videos and soft news from our own communities and to invite feedback from viewers overseas. I am sure that there are thousands of creative people who would like to have their say and to export an authentic voice to the global community and to receive feedback for their best efforts.

In times of budget austerity, funding for the Dreamtime Hub could also come from registrations from artists and writers who want to promote their content after registration and commitment to the ground rules of an innovative network under the sponsorship of Screen Australia or another appropriate ethical organization. Trending issues from the Dreamtime Hub could be used to liven up existing news and current affairs programmes to permit contributions from the grassroots to be heard in the corridors of power and political influence. This might beat any remakes of those coming of age themes like Heartbreak High.

Let’s support the media revolution on behalf of deprived Australian audiences who spend their hard earned savings in a quest for vibrant productions that seem to take everyone back to a quest for nostalgia over quality entertainment.

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

 

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 1,718 total views

A home amongst the gum trees

By 2353NM

A local real estate agent rings me every couple of months asking if I am willing to sell my house. So far he’s tried the ‘look how much you could get’ strategy, ‘the market is moving, you don’t want to miss out’ strategy and telling me he could help me buy another house if I did sell; to which my response was something like ‘and you get two commissions – how does that help me’. He has now accepted that I’m not one of those people that move every few years to ‘climb the real estate ladder’. Although he persists in still ringing me regularly to check that I haven’t changed my mind.

The real estate agent’s actions are logical – his business is the sale of properties on which he receives a percentage of the purchase price – so he’s eager for the price of houses in my area to go up. Clearly the ‘look how much your house is worth now’ sales pitch works, otherwise the agent would be changing the sales patter to something that did work or be out of business.

While the sale and purchase price numbers may be ridiculously high to those who have lived in the one house for decades, the reality is if I was to take up the real estate agent’s suggestion of selling and buying again, I would be doing so in the same market, so the cost difference is relative to the amount of equity I have in the current house. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case to the person entering the housing market for the first time. Politicians also have used the property feeding frenzy to their benefit, claiming at election after election that they will ensure property prices keep rising, interest rates (a loan is necessary for many property ‘investment strategies’) will stay lower and there will be nothing done to alter the favourable taxation treatment given to rental property owners.

Australia has an unholy obsession with property. Effectively a house is somewhere for people to live. It shouldn’t solely be part of an investment strategy that shows regular growth and numerous tax advantages paid for in a large part by those who are forced to rent the property in an environment where they can’t afford to buy their own home. Our housing prices are some of the most expensive in the world.

That’s not to say there isn’t a need for rental properties; it is also a reasonable expectation for the rental property to be a healthy environment at a reasonable value and maintenance is attended to in a prompt and efficient manner. Sadly, that isn’t always the reality. Obviously, private investors generally will not happily make a loss on a property unless it is to make a ‘tax loss’. Even then, the tax loss has to fit a reasonably narrow definition as dictated by The Australian Taxation Office. Yet there are articles in the media on a regular basis discussing the ill-fortune of those that can’t afford the rent, so they are living in their car, on someone’s couch or have to relocate to find something affordable.

There are demonstrated benefits to having a ‘permanent home’. If someone has a ‘permanent address’, there is a greater chance of any underlying health, mental or social issues being addressed. It makes sense really, if the formerly homeless person doesn’t have to expend physical and mental energy in locating a bed for the night, there is a better chance for them to connect and retain engagement with support services. Employers are also more likely to employ people with a ‘permanent address’. Academic research supports the concept.

The problem is that if you have no or minimal income, it is difficult if not impossible to be able to afford a rental property. Anglicare complete an annual rental Affordability Snapshot across Australia and depressingly

Out of 45,992 listings, we found just eight rentals (0 percent) that were affordable for a single person on the JobSeeker payment. There was one listing (0 percent) in a share house that was affordable for a young person on Youth Allowance anywhere in the country. The most generous income support payment is the Age Pension. Yet for a couple living on the Age Pension, just 1.4 percent of rentals were affordable. Finding an affordable rental is even harder for single aged pensioners, with 0.1 percent of listings left to compete for. Many are rooms in share houses that might not be appropriate for an older person.

Working people are hardly better off. A single person working full-time on the minimum wage will find that 1.6 percent of rentals are affordable. Of all the households featured in this Snapshot, families with two parents each earning a minimum wage stand the best chance of finding an affordable home. Even they will only be able to afford 15.3 percent of the rentals we surveyed.

For better or worse, while the federal government has a seat at the table when interest rates and investment strategies are being discussed, social housing is a primary responsibility for state governments. There seems to be little interest in working across the three levels of government to produce any sort of solution, let alone an acceptable one where there is very few if anyone that doesn’t have a suitable roof over their head tonight or any other night.

This month Queensland is convening a forum to discuss how to build the 10,000 additional social homes that are claimed to be needed in the state. The next problem will be getting the materials for the homes as well as overcoming the negative perception of social housing in areas where there is a demand, but no supply.

It’s all very well to continue to expect that property prices will continue to rise far in excess of personal incomes and it’s nice to know that the decision you made to buy some years ago has paid off. However, for those that don’t have a property, the future is looking increasingly dire.

While housing summits and intentions to build 10,000 homes are worthwhile, the Albanese Government could do more in lifting the rental assistance component of various social security payments to a meaningful level so that people can afford to put a roof over their heads and stay there for a reasonable period. All levels of government do also have the right and ability to ‘encourage’ landlords not to choose to either leave their investment properties vacant or only available for short term rentals through strategic taxation levies and so on. Superannuation funds can choose to invest into social housing providers such as BHC rather than fossil fuel or gambling companies.

After all, if a person has a guarantee of a roof over their head for the foreseeable future, they can put some effort into finding appropriate healthcare, employment and social services so they can contribute on a meaningful level to society. A society that looks after those that are less well-off is a society that looks after everyone.

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 3,454 total views

“Unbeatable impact”: Almost 66,000 Australians united for environment thanks to Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants

Landcarers across Australia are celebrating their outstanding achievements for bushfire affected environments and communities following the completion of the landmark $14 million Landcare Led Recovery Grants Program.

Managed in partnership between Landcare Australia, the National Landcare Network and the peak Landcare State and Territory organisations, the program saw almost 66,000 Australians- including over 10,000 volunteers, working together to deliver 111 community-driven projects in bushfire affected areas across the east coast and South Australia.

With project successes ranging from Upper Snowy Landcare discovering the best eucalyptus seed sources for future bushfire recovery efforts through climate testing, to the South Australian Museum’s research data leading to the Kangaroo Island Assassin Spider being listed as Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act, the program has had an overwhelmingly positive impact across some of Australia’s most heavily bushfire affected regions.

Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish applauded the outstanding results, saying that it demonstrated the incredible power of landcare and its partners across the country.

“Forming effective partnerships is what landcare does best, and the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants program really highlights our unbeatable impact when we unite to take action,” said Dr Norrish.

“By bringing together a diverse range of expertise and experience from multiple stakeholders, this program has delivered practical, innovative and science driven projects utilising cutting-edge technology including artificial intelligence, drone monitoring and DNA science.”

“This program has proved invaluable to bushfire recovery for countless species, environments and communities. I could not be more impressed and look forward to seeing what the partnerships established through this program continue to achieve in future.”

As part of the program, a joint study undertaken by University of Melbourne and Federation University into the social impacts of post-disaster environmental work indicated that landcare provided an opportunity to extend the reach of environmental recovery activities undertaken on public lands through their connections with landholders. Participants in the study identified the wide range of activities they had been involved in to support the recovery of the fire affected environment. This included monitoring fauna using motion sensor cameras and water sampling for eDNA, revegetating burnt areas, implementing pest control programs and providing appropriate supplementary food sources and shelter for native animals that had survived.

“Disaster recovery is often a long, complex and difficult process for those impacted. Our research found that community based environmentally focussed groups like landcare often embody evidence informed psychosocial support principles, such as helping people feel connected, hopeful and providing opportunities to actively participate in the recovery of the places they love,” said lead researcher Dr Kate Brady.

CEO of the National Landcare Network Jim Adams said that because of the positive community impact and scale of environmental recovery achieved, the program served as a testament of the strength of the community landcare movement.

“Our movement is driven the tens of thousands of landcarers across Australia who share their expertise and bring communities together to take action for their environments, and this program has really shown how effectively we can act at scale in disaster response and recovery,” said Mr Adams.

“The Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants program showcases just how integral local landcare groups and volunteers are in delivering large-scale, nationwide projects and what can be achieved with additional support and funding.”

“The overwhelming success of these landcare led projects shows the model is well placed to be scaled as required and tackle future disaster responses and deliver real action on the pressing climate and environmental challenges of our times,” said Mr Adams.

Photos HERE

About the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program
The Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program is a $14 million program funding community-driven projects across bushfire affected areas of Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and South Australia. Together the 111 projects funded by the Program benefitted over 100 federal and state listed threatened species and ecological communities, including 16 mammal species, 16 bird species, 9 frog species, 34 plant species and 16 threatened vegetation communities.

Supported by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat, the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program is managed by a partnership between the National Landcare Network, Landcare Australia and the Peak Landcare State and Territory Landcare organisations.

For further information, visit the Program Website: https://landcareledbushfiregrants.org.au/

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 2,230 total views