Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Fraser Anning calls for "White Australia" and "Final Solution" for refugees

Senator Fraser Anning, elected as a One Nation senator after getting 19 votes, called for "White Australia" and a "Final Solution" for refugees in Australia during his speech in the senate on 14 August 2018.

Anning is now with the Katter Party.

He also said the reasons to ban Muslim immigration were "compelling and self-evident", labelling them welfare-bludgers and criminals.

His speech is completely unacceptable in the Australian parliament, he should be expelled.

The Senators that shook his hand after his speech were:
  • Mathias Cormann, Liberal, WA
  • Bridget McKenzie, National, Vic
  • Matt Canavan, National, QLD
  • Nigel Scullion, Country Liberal, NT
  • Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Liberal, NSW
  • Cory Bernardi, Australian Conservatives, SA
  • Derryn Hinch, Independent, VIC
  • Tim Storer, Independent, SA
  • Barry O'Sullivan, Liberal QLD
  • David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrats, NSW
  • Amanda Stoker, Liberal, QLD
  • James McGrath, Liberal National OLD
  • Jonathon Duniam, Liberal TAS
  • Paterson, Liberal, Vic
  • Peter Georgiou, One Nation, WA
  • John Williams, National, NSW
  • Dean Smith, Liberal WA
  • David Bushby, Liberal, TAS
  • Anne Rushton, Liberal, SA
  • Stirling Griff, Centre Alliance, SA
  • Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance, SA
In doing so they have endorsed racist hate speech.  None of them are fit for office.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Oslo airport with rail link is superb

Norway has got it right with Oslo airport, arrival and departure are fast and efficient. Its really well organised and efficient.

There are many shops with a wide selection of food  travel goods, books and souvenirs.

Connections to trains inside, its very easy to get to Oslo. My favorite airport.

Let's hope we see facilities like this in Melbourne!










Saturday, February 17, 2018

EMMA ALBERICI. There’s no case for a corporate tax cut when one in five of Australia’s top companies don’t pay it.

There is no compelling evidence that giving the country’s biggest companies a tax cut sees that money passed on to workers in the form of higher wages.
Treasury modelling relies on theories that belie the reality that’s playing out around the world.
Since the peak of the commodities boom in 2011-12, profit margins have risen to levels not seen since the early 2000s but wages growth has been slower than at any time since the 1960s.
It’s also disingenuous to talk about a 30 per cent rate when so few companies pay anything like that thanks to tax legislation that allows them to avoid paying corporate tax. Exclusive analysis released by ABC today reveals one in five of Australia’s top companies has paid zero tax for the past three years.
And while the Treasurer and Finance Minister warn that Australia’s relatively high headline corporate tax rate means Australia remains uncompetitive and companies will choose to invest in lower taxing countries, the facts don’t bear that out. Business investment in Australia has been at historically high levels over much of the past decade despite our comparatively high headline corporate tax rate.
There’s more to investment than corporate tax rates
Before Donald Trump cut the US corporate tax rate earlier this year, it was 5 to 9 percentage points higher than Australia’s. That hasn’t deterred Australian companies from seeking opportunities in America instead of Ireland, where the corporate tax rate is less than half ours (12.5 per cent), or Singapore (17 per cent).
In truth, businesses make decisions about where in the world to park their money based on myriad reasons, possibly least of which is the headline corporate tax rate.
Will I be closer to my main customers? Where is the best talent located? What are the labour costs? How onerous are the regulatory hurdles to investment? Is the culture and language easy to navigate? Is the country politically stable and is there respect for the rule of law?
When Incitec Pivot chose to build a $1 billion factory in Louisiana rather than Australia, it did so due to America’s strong productivity levels and its speedy approvals processes. Tax was insignificant on the pros and cons list.
Tax rates don’t matter if you’re not paying tax
High-profile chief executives like Qantas chief Alan Joyce are adamant that investment decisions rest largely on the rate of a country’s corporate tax. But it’s hard to see how a lower tax rate is an incentive for investment when one in five of our biggest companies haven’t paid any corporate tax at all in at least three years.
Qantas is about to clock its 10th year tax free. Qantas won’t pay tax again until its profits exceed the tax losses recorded since 2010. Only when all the accumulated losses are offset will a lower tax rate mean a higher cash flow. Besides, regardless of where the corporate tax rate sits, the airline has already indicated an intention to invest $3 billion across 2018 and 2019.
The overwhelming benefit of higher profits flows to shareholders. A zero corporate tax bill at Qantas has certainly seen one significant wage rise at the company — the chief executive’s. The benefit to workers has been less pronounced.
According to the Australian Services Union, representing just under half of all Qantas workers, the average pay rises for staff since the airline has returned to profitability have barely kept pace with inflation.
Alan Joyce, on the other hand, has seen his total salary close to double from $12.9 million in 2016 to $24.6 million last year thanks to a huge jump in the value of shares provided as part of a bonus scheme.
Linda White, Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union told the ABC she is far from convinced about the value for workers of a corporate tax cut:
“While Qantas workers have seen pay rises of less than 3 per cent on average over the past decade, we’ve seen the CEO’s salary balloon to almost $100,000 a day — much more than most workers earn in a year. It doesn’t trickle down — it trickles up, and the rules need to change to give workers a better deal in this country.”
The apples and apples comparison
When drawing comparisons with experiences in other countries, Canada provides a good like for like profile.
Australia and Canada share a similar history and are both resource rich economies. Our financial and political systems are also on par.
Canada cut its corporate tax rate from 42.4 per cent in 2000 to about 26 per cent in 2011, where it has remained. In 2000, Australia cut its corporate tax rate from 34 per cent to its present 30 per cent.
Business investment rose in both countries during the mining boom but it rose more in Australia, despite a corporate tax rate that’s four percentage points higher than Canada’s.
Economist Saul Eslake says:
“It can be argued that the mining investment boom was bigger in Australia than Canada but now that it’s over in both countries, it’s worth noting that business investment as a share of GDP was 2.4 per cent higher in Australia in 2016 than in 2000, as against only 1.5 per cent higher in Canada, despite Canada’s massive cut in company tax.”
It is also worth noting that wages have risen by about 20 per cent more (in nominal terms) in Australia than in Canada since 2000, despite Canadian companies having had a much bigger corporate tax cut.
Do workers really win?
The White House claims the recently legislated cut in the US corporate tax rate will translate to higher wages for the average worker of between $4,000 and $9,000 a year, but there is no credible evidence to support that boast.
In fact, the opposite has been true in practice when you compare business activity in Britain and America. Between 2006 and 2013, while British businesses were paying increasingly less in tax (from 30 per cent to 19 per cent), wages went down not up. UK wages have started to grow over the past four years but at a much slower rate than in the United States where corporate tax rates had remained high.
Some commentators have seized on a study from Germany to support their theories about corporate tax cuts trickling down to workers. Saul Eslake makes the point that the German economy is not all that similar to Australia’s:
“Among other things, workers’ representatives sit on the ‘supervisory boards’ of large German companies so there is probably a different debate within German boardrooms as to how the benefits of any cut in the corporate tax rate in Germany might be shared among employees and other stakeholders.”
In his speech last week, the Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe reiterated the need for Australia to pursue an internationally competitive tax system but he did not specify which, if any parts of the Tax Act, might need amendment. He kept his comments on the topicvague:
“The issue of how the tax system affects the competitiveness of Australia as a destination for investment is one of ongoing political debate.”
The headline 30 per cent rate is misleading
Adding to this debate is the issue of average and effective tax rates. Effective tax rates are said to drive investment decisions and take account of what companies actually pay once deductions, depreciation and other tax minimisation strategies are considered.
According to a report published last year by the US Congressional Budget Office, Australia’s effective tax rate, at 10.4 per cent, is among the lowest in the world.
The average rate paid by American companies in Australia is just 17 per cent.
The Treasurer’s office takes issues with these figures, claiming they are out of date because they are based on data from 2012. The Government prefers a study by Oxford Universitythat puts Australia’s effective average tax rate at 26.6per cent and at the higher end of the scale.
Several analysts consulted by the ABC disagree. Managing director of Plato Investment Management, Don Hamson says:
“Whilst the data used in the 2017 CBO report is from 2012, it is the best analysis available and I don’t believe the Australian company tax landscape has changed significantly since 2012.”
Dr Hamson has worked in banking and finance in Australia, as a university professor in Australia and the United States and has served on the ASX Corporate Governance Council.
Regardless of which effective tax rate you prefer, both the Oxford and the CBO data demonstrate the folly of focusing exclusively on the headline corporate tax rate of 30 per cent.
Do tax cuts boost investment?
Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics told the ABC’s Q&A that there was a “consensus” from the experts about the macroeconomic benefits of a corporate tax cut.
He said the cut represented $20 billion a year in growth for the Australian economy with two out of every three dollars showing up as higher wages. Those figures (and experts) came from Treasury who provided modelling on behalf of the Government.
The numbers are based on the widely, but not universally, accepted theory that cutting the company tax rate will raise investment, which should in turn boost productivity and lift wages.
Apart from the obvious point that all else is not equal in practice, not all investment boosts labour productivity.
According to other Treasury-commissioned modelling, if the rate is lowered from 30 per cent to 25 per cent then gross domestic product will double by September 2038 as opposed to December 2038 without the cut. Both models predict that in 20 years’ time the unemployment rate will be 5 per cent regardless of whether we spend $65 billion on company tax cuts or not.
In truth, it is hard to find real-world evidence to support these economic theories, so the Government might be wise to heed the words of Plato: “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”
Dividend imputation often overlooked
The other issue often overlooked is the impact of Australia’s dividend imputation system. Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries in the OECD that grant companies the right to attach tax credits to dividends paid out to investors.
In most countries, companies pay tax and then shareholders pay tax on their dividends. Australia taxes just once. Cutting the company tax rate therefore doesn’t result in a higher after-tax return on investment to Australian shareholders in Australian businesses so Treasury’s theoretical model doesn’t hold.
Experts including economist Saul Eslake estimate that Australia’s 30 per cent corporate rate with dividend imputation raises about as much tax for the government as a 20 per cent rate without dividend imputation.
The principal beneficiaries of a cut in Australia’s corporate tax rate are overwhelmingly foreign companies and foreign shareholders in Australian companies. There is no guarantee at all that cutting the tax they pay in Australia will lead them to increase the level of business investment in Australia.
Can Australia afford to spend $65 billion?
The last time a government splashed around cash in the form of tax cuts the treasurer was Peter Costello, who had no debt and no deficit to contend with, thanks to oversized profits and attendant corporate tax flowing from the mining boom.
In 2018’s Australia, it’s hard to imagine how a government could ever again manage to give away the equivalent of Mr Costello’s $170 billion worth of tax cuts while still protecting the surplus.
It’s been 10 years since the Australian budget was last in surplus. With a debt of more than $600 billion, many are questioning the merits of prioritising a $65 billion giveaway to big business in the form of a tax cut.
Back in November 2016, the president of the Business Council of Australia, Grant King was warning the Government not to put the country’s AAA credit rating at risk by ignoring budget repair. He told ABC’s AM program:
“We are seeing indications that the deficit is deteriorating so it is going to be a challenge.”
Yet today the BCA and its high-profile members like Mr Joyce are insisting on a company tax cut that would blow a massive hole in the Government’s revenues and push the budget and national debt further into the red.
Emma Alberici is the ABC’s chief  economics correspondent.  This article first appeared on the ABC website.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Open letter to Labor Cabinet - reject the polluting destructive Adani coal mine.

TO: Labor Cabinet

The massive Adani Coal mine must not proceed.  It will contribute to the death of the Great Barrier Reef and the coal produce will contribute to climate change when it is exported and burnt.

When burned, the coal will generate greenhouse gases
equivalent to 4.49 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The open cut mine will also destroy the Queensland environment in the region.  Very few full time equivalent jobs (1464) will be created, contrary to company claims.

Adani has been granted unlimited volumes of water for 60 years from the Great Artesian Basin, which will compromise other users of this water.  Around 200 small towns draw their water from the basin’s aquifers.

A significant portion of the remaining habitat of the endangered black-throated finch is within the bounds of the Carmichael mine site. The mine will remove the best remaining habitat, and fragment the good quality habitat that remains.

The vulnerable squatter pigeon’s habitat is much larger, but the entire Carmichael mine site is within its territory.

The yakka skink is another vulnerable species that was part of the court case that saw Adani’s mine approval briefly overturned in 2015. The mine and connecting rail are directly within its habitat.

Shipping the coal to the international market also requires a huge expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal (which is also owned by Adani).  This means dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of the seabed and dumping it near the Caley Valley Wetlands.

Your decision on this will go down in Australian environmental history.

I will strongly consider voting for Labor in the next federal election if you withdraw support for the Adani coal mine.

Please reject this polluting and destructive coal mine.

Our future is in your hands.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Campbell

You can send your letter to the Labor Cabinet from a link here



Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Plebiscite on gay marriage is a political ruse for delay and polarisation

A majority of the Australian population clearly support marriage applying equally to heterosexual and gay couples.  It is a basic human right.

However, some religious groups and a cohort of federal MPs (both Labor and LNP) oppose it for personal reasons.

There has been only 3 Plebiscites in the history of Australia:

  • 1916: military service conscription (defeated)
  • 1917: reinforcement of the Australian Imperial Force overseas (defeated)
  • 1977: choice of Australia’s national anthem ('Advance Australia Fair' preferred.)
John Howard changed the Marriage Act by parliamentary vote to make it "between and man and a woman" - proving that no plebiscite is required.

The plebiscite was proposed by Tony Abbot when he was PM as a tactic to delay legislative changes, and provide a platform for vilification and hate speech by the minority who oppose marriage equality.

Malcolm Turnbull is too spineless to stop this expensive, divisive, ineffective and unnecessary plebiscite.

It will be ineffective because the result is not binding on MPs.

Our MPs should just do what they are elected for: vote on a bill to change the Marriage Act.





Friday, August 26, 2016

Open letter to Josh Frydenberg - SAVE ARENA stop the $1 billion cut

TO: Josh Frydenberg
Minister for Environment and Energy,

I’m writing to you today with a very important message about ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. That's the Agency you want to cut $1 billion in funding from.

ARENA is a critical force in driving renewable energy research and development in Australia. It has funded projects that developed the most efficient solar PV [1] and solar thermal technology in the world [2].

ARENA is crucial if Australia is to continue to lead in renewable energy research and innovation. If protected, projects funded by ARENA grants will create thousands of jobs [3], and help Australia transition to a renewable future.

Your government talks up innovation, but slashing ARENA's grants funding will cut the legs out from underneath a key industry that would otherwise be set to boom.

As your constituent, I am asking you to lead on innovation and make the right decision for Australia's energy future. Don't send Australia back to the Dark Ages. Don't cut ARENA.

Also, gas is just another fossil fuel and must not be used as a "transition to renewable energy".  The transition should be directly to renewable energy.

The same applies to coal seam gas - there should be a permanent ban on exploration and production of CSG in Victoria.

Regarding your previous comments on nuclear energy, could you please confirm that this dangerous and expensive energy source will  not be used in Australia?

[1] Milestone in solar cell efficiency by UNSW engineers, UNSW Newsroom, 17 May 2016, http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-tech/milestone-solar-cell-efficiency-unsw-engineers

[2] ANU team cracks solar thermal efficiency of 97% -- a world record, Renew Economy, 22 August 2016, http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/anu-team-cracks-solar-thermal-efficiency-of-97-a-world-record-34199

[3] Queensland solar projects that could create 2,600 jobs at risk in federal cuts, The Guardian, 24 August 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/25/queensland-solar-projects-that-could-create-2600-jobs-at-risk-in-federal-cuts

Yours sincerely,
Peter Campbell
Surrey Hills, Victoria, 3127, Australia

External links



Friday, August 12, 2016

Australian Census 2016 - rank incompetence, lies and a failure of outsourcing

The conduct of the Australian Census 2016 is a worrying demonstration of government incompetence.  Here are my observations on the debacle.





Privacy concerns

In the lead up to the Australia's 2016 Census serious concerns were raised relating to a change in the retention of personal data that allows respondents to be identified and what this would be used for.

I didn't see an adequate response from the Australian Government or the Australian Bureau of Statistics about why this was being done and what the personal identification data links would be used for.

I have concerns that government departments and other authorities could access this data and use it to track down issues with individuals, which is not the purpose of census data.


Funds stripped from ABS
The Rudd and Abbott governments both cut funding for the ABS.  This set the scene for the debacle that was to follow.  The ministers previously involved in this were Kelly O'Dwyer and Joseph Ciobo.


Online data collection outsourced to IBM
In a apparent attempt to save money a decision was made - its not clear to me by which minister - to shift the majority of data collection to an online process using the Internet, and to outsource the technology solution to IBM.

With this outsourcing, it was vital that requirements for the solution be specified by government, including:
  • Appropriate security for online submission of forms
  • Appropriate security for data retained
  • Performance - the maximum number of concurrent users supported
  • Website availability - protection for Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attacks
Statements were made by the ABS and the newly appointed minster Micheal McCormack that everything was in order, data would be secure and the website would handle the number of user that would use it on the night Tuesday 9 August 2016 (data collection night).


Website meltdown and failure
During the evening of Tuesday 9 August 2016 people experienced problems accessing the website.  Some people completed forms but were not able to submit them.  Others couldn't access the website at all.  Messages via Twitter from the ABS were confusing - they said to "try again later".  Millions of people gave up trying to submit their response and were left wondering what had happened.


The morning after - claims of hacking
There was intense interest on Wednesday morning on what had happened. Claims emerged on ABC morning radio that

"the website had been hacked"

"no data has been compromised"

"there was a DDOS attack" (no evidence has been provided for this)

"DDOS is not actually an attack because no data was accessed" (by Minister McCormack)

"the website was taken down by the ABS due to a false positive alert from IBM"

"a hardware router failed that prevent people accessing the website"

"the website was tested for up to 1 million concurrent users"

It is not possible to determine the veracity of any of the above claims as no information is available to validate them.

More recently, it has been claimed that:

"access to the website is geo blocked" (you must be in Australia to access the website)

"DNS servers outside Australia were blocked (preventing them routing access requests to the website)

What these claims highlight is rank incompetence by the ABS, the Government and IBM.


Solutions
I work in IT.  The following solutions were possible, but apparently neglected.

Robust security:  Encrypted sessions to secure data (appears to have been implemented)

DDOS protection:  Mechanisms are available to identify and avoid DDOS attacks, which are quite common.

8 million concurrent users:  Website performance should have been scaled to meet up to 8 million concurrent users as the majority of the population is on Eastern Standard Time and therefore was trying to access the online form at the same timee.

Drop the extended data retention:  In the absence of valid reasons for retaining identification data longer, this should be dropped.

Hardware failure: Redundancy and fail over is required, preferably via virtual devices rather than physical ones.

Increase scalability: If the application has been written properly (it may not have been) and the solution is cloud hosted, then performance can be scaled up (e.g. by instantiating more virtual servers) as required, and scaled down when not required.

Unfortunately, recent comments from Prime Minister Turnbull, Minister McCormack and the ABS only amount to misinformation, blame shifting and finger pointing.

The Australian online census meltdown is a failure of outsourcing and reveals gross incompetence of the Australian government.

Turnbull has said that "heads will roll". Perhaps Turnbull and McCormack are the ones who should be sacked for rank incompetence?

This debacle makes a complete mockery of Turnbull's "innovation agenda".

Misinformation, blame shifting and finger pointing won't fix the problems.

See also