Archive for August, 2007

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Oh, Look! I’ve Found A Few Billion – And Just Before An Election.

21 August 2007

We hear today that Peter Costello, described by the Prime Minister as the greatest Treasurer this country has ever had, finds that his budget calculations weren’t quite right  –  he has an additional budget surplus of $3.7 billion.   Or, rather, we do.  Whether it’s a budget surplus or budget deficit really seems irrelevant. The man is incompetent.  If budgets I produced for my clients were so wildly inaccurate, I’d soon be out of a job, even if they were making more money than I’d forecast. 

And it does raise a number of questions.  Are we paying more tax than predicted?  Or is money not being spent where it should be spent?  I tend to go with the latter.  And in that case, who is suffering? 

lf this is “expert financial management” roll on November (or whenever the election will be called – the sooner the better). 

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If This Is The Answer, What Was The Question?

16 August 2007

In my last post I talked about the new laws introduced to govern the Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.  From the emails I’ve received, I realise that this story has had limited play in the rest of the world so overseas readers weren’t sure what I was talking about.  Sorry! 

Rather than list all the clauses of this new law here (and run the risk of omitting something or getting it wrong), may I suggest you read an article written by David Marr and published in the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend? 

And then get back to me.  As I’d love to hear what non-Australians make of this.

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Don’t Know Where To Start (Or, Where Will It All End?)

14 August 2007

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I do like a little rant now and again.  Politics, religion and marketing-speak are my particular betes noire at the moment.  In the last couple of weeks though I’ve got so agitated about so many things that I just haven’t felt up to blogging about them.  Cynicism and apathy are setting in.  What’s the point?  Is the whole world mad (but me, of course)?  But if I don’t put fingers to keyboard soon, I’ll give up and I know that I usually feel a lot better for getting things off my chest and onto my blog.

So:

1.   Having complained bitterly about the $50 million the State Government is going to give to World Youth Day, I wrote to Greg Smith, my State Member of Parliament.  No reply.  Wrote again two weeks later.  Still no reply.  Now I hear that Kevin Rudd is also promising $15 million dollars to help pay for travel and accommodation costs.  If I wanted to donate money to the Catholic Church, I would do that myself and at least get the benefit of tax relief on the donation. 

2.   Then I read last week that a Government diktat had gone out to State schools that “schools are not places for recruiting into partisan groups”.  Great, I thought.  They’re going to close faith-based schools.  But apparently this ruling only applies to what the Government perceives as teaching of a political nature.  So teachers have to be careful to avoid being partisan when presenting lessons about economics, social history etc . . .  but can still treat schools as recruitment centres for any number of crazy beliefs as long as they can be classified as “religious” and not “political”.

3.   Last week I watched a debate on ABC television about the new Work Choices legislation in which one of the panel (unfortunately I didn’t make a note of his name) was extolling the virtues of the new rules.  Under the new laws, according to him, employers are now free to pay their staff more!!!  I’ve seen no sign of this during the course of my work and I certainly had no idea that under the old legislation there’d been any cap on the amount an employer could pay his workers. 

4.    Then we have the situation in the remote Aboriginal communities, which is being debated in the Senate as I write this.  I’ve lived in one of the communities affected by these laws and could fill half a dozen blogs with my feelings on the subject, but more skilled writers than I have already taken up their pens.   But so many questions still remain unanswered.  Why drop the permit system, which will allow paedophiles and alcoholics back into the communities?  Why stop the CDEP programme?  Have you ever heard of people being taken out of work and onto benefit, BY THE GOVERNMENT?  The word is that this has been done because the Government can’t “quarantine” CDEP money, but can tell recipients how to spend their welfare payments.  And why does the Government need to examine every Aboriginal child, which they say is not just for signs of abuse but in order that “their health problems can be identified”.   With no medical training, I think I pretty well identified the health problems within my first week.  And haven’t health workers in the Territory produced tomes on the subject – all ignored?  The legislation is racist and indiscriminate.  Surely international human rights law cannot allow an entire race of people to be treated like this?   Not saying “Sorry” for errors in the past is one thing, but recreating the horrors is unforgiveable.  Have they learnt nothing?  (No need to answer that.  The answer is obviously “No”.)

So that’s it – what’s been bugging me for the last week.  And, yes, I do feel a bit better for writing it. 

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Demanding or What? . . . Part 2

4 August 2007

You may remember David’s scarf request.  He went through my stash, chose the wool then presented me with a Photoshop design.

Scarf

Well, the picture became this, which I’m quite pleased with as I think it’s pretty much what he asked for. I had to slightly change the width of the stripes to make them multiples of 2, but apart from that, I worked to his pattern.  

David's scarf 1

 He likes it; he’s wearing it.  What more could I ask for? 

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Home Sweet Home etc etc

3 August 2007

One of my dearest friends in Sydney, Lara,  and her husband Mark have today bought their first house.  They’re expecting a baby in November and decided that now would be the right time to put down roots and get the security of their own place, rather than being at the whim of the rental market.  A perfectly adult decision.

However,  I read today that a survey of 16-24 year old Australians shows that for over 90% of them buying their own house is their greatest ambition!!!   What sort of society have we bred when the number one ambition of the young and single is to own their own house?  I really don’t think it was something I gave any thought to at that age, any more than I worried too much about a pension plan when I was 21.  If I’d done both of those, I’d be a lot better off than I am now, but what an incredibly dull life I would have had.  I was able to up and go when the fancy took me – give notice at work, notice to my landlord and away I went.   I find this survey incredibly sad.  Some people may feel that it shows how sensible and mature our young people are.  But when it comes to houses, the time to become sensible and mature isn’t before your 21st birthday. 

May I also say that I really don’t like the Australian habit of calling bricks and mortar a “home”.  Lara and Mark have bought a “house”, and they’ll make it into a “home”, with their child, their cat and their rabbits.  Best wishes to the two of you . . . and when’s the party?