Doctor and activist


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Category: Justice

Welfare Repayment for Some- Nick Scali Optional?

6 February 2021

We all saw the callous and incompetent saga of Robodebt, where the tax database and the welfare database were imperfectly matched, the welfare recipients were accused of understating their incomes and put in the unenviable position of having to prove that they system was wrong, as their support payments were cut to below survival level.

Now we see some companies who are doing very well getting Jobkeeper and being asked politely if they would mind paying it back.

Nick Scali, the furniture retailer has done very well out of the lockdown as people still at home and working, with forced saving on their out of home recreations have upgraded their furnishings.  His profit has risen 99% to $40 million, and the share price  from $3 to $10.51 in the last 12 months.  The dividends are up 60%.  Nick Scali as the major shareholder with 13% of the company will make $4.4 million personally.  The company has received $3.5 million in Jobkeeper payments, so Labor MP Andrew Leigh has asked that it be repaid.  Of course, Scali has done nothing illegal and has taken money that companies were entitled to.  But the Government which is so careful and niggardly when it comes to poorer people getting money is totally silent on this situation. They are very thorough when it comes to giving out Jobseeker or any type of pension, yet seem unable to restrict much more generous handouts to business, let alone having a mechanism to get it back.   The stockmarket profit reporting season is just starting so we are likely to see many more examples of this.

The only explanation I can find is ‘For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ — in Matthew 25:29, Revised Standard Version.

www.smh.com.au/business/companies/nick-scali-s-profits-double-in-covid-boom-triggering-dividend-bonanza-20210204-p56zfl.html

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Crikey- While Porter Parties, his protection racket inflicts misery, By Bernard Keene

 
https://www.crikey.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/20181204001374704937-original-600x320.jpg
While Porter parties, his protection racket inflicts misery BY: BERNARD KEANE As Alan Tudge tried to protect Christian Porter from embarrassment, so Porter is trying to protect Alexander Downer from scrutiny over his role in the bugging of Timor-Leste. Privilege protects privilege. So it seems after further revelations today about how Alan Tudge pressured an ABC journalist to delete a photo taken in a Canberra night spot that, according to Four Corners’ bombshell report on Monday, would have embarrassed and compromised Christian Porter. Any minister of the Crown learning that a colleague may have placed themselves in a position to be compromised should have immediately alerted the prime minister, possibly for referral to intelligence agencies. Public Bar in Manuka is a well-known locale for politicians, staffers and journalists, the latest in a succession of such nightspots in Canberra. Don’t think people connected to foreign intelligence services weren’t mingling there on Wednesday nights as well. Who else took a photo of Porter, more surreptitiously? In any event, Tudge, a child of Melbourne privilege — elite Haileybury, Melbourne University, Harvard — sought to protect another child of privilege, Christian Porter, whose offensive frat house behaviour as a young man — as opposed to his alleged continuing partying these days — was well documented by the ABC. Significant as it is in itself, the incident is the perfect symbol for what party boy Porter himself is doing for Alexander Downer. Downer ordered ASIS to bug the cabinet rooms of the Timor-Leste government in 2004 in order to give Australia an advantage over the fledgling state in negotiations over resources in the Timor Sea. The advantage gained would accrue to resources company/de facto government agency Woodside. After leaving politics, Downer took a job with Woodside. His DFAT secretary of the time, Ashton Calvert, took a directorship. Porter’s authorisation of the prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery for revealing ASIS’ crime is intended to punish them for exposing Downer and the Howard government. Porter’s conduct in the prosecution, however, is designed to cover up Downer’s role.
He has sought to make the trial secret, he has repeatedly intervened in proceedings (separately from the DPP; Collaery and K face two legal oppositions — the barristers of the DPP, and Porter’s barrister trying to keep as much as possible secret); Porter has so stymied and delayed the trial of Collaery that his barrister has been twice chided by magistrates for delays. There is a key question in this trial about Downer: what authority did he have to authorise ASIS’ conduct? Did prime minister Howard, his cabinet or the National Security Committee approve it, or did Downer decide himself? We may never publicly learn the answer to that crucial question because Porter is trying to keep it secret. Privilege protecting privilege. Only, instead of demanding the deletion of a photo, Porter is trashing basic rights like open trials and long-standing norms like the Commonwealth’s status as a model litigant. Porter’s conduct has had enormous impacts on K and Collaery — two men who have served their country and protected its national security in ways Porter could only dream about as he sleeps off another big night on the dance floor. K remains unclear exactly as to what he is being asked to plead guilty to, having indicated that, given his health and the mental toll Porter’s vexatious prosecution has inflicted, he wants the whole thing done with. Collaery’s practice has been wrecked and he is living on borrowings. The process has so far dragged on for more than two years, with 42 hearings so far without a trial date in sight — the majority driven by Porter’s interventions. It includes the juvenile tactic of requiring Collaery to travel interstate to view, but not retain, the allegedly secret brief directed against him. All while Porter, according to footage aired by the ABC, carried on carousing, and allegedly compromising himself as a national security risk far worse than even the fantasies claimed by the prosecution of K and Collaery. The bugging of Timor-Leste and the persecution of K and Collaery are the biggest political scandal of recent decades in Australia. That the press gallery seems to have been mostly uninterested in it — or have fallen for Porter’s tactic of dragging things out so long people forget about it — doesn’t change that. It’s been a raw demonstration of the ugliness of how power is used in Australia by well-connected corporations, their political shills and the parties that protect and enable them. Power used at the expense of the people of Timor-Leste. Power used at the expense of K and Collaery. And despite Porter’s efforts at secrecy, at least some of it has occurred in plain sight at the ACT Law Courts building, in full view of the press gallery if they wanted to come five minutes down the road. Like Porter’s alleged behaviour in Public Bar, in full view five minutes in the other direction from Parliament House. If you’re not enraged by the smug, smirking indecency of it all, you might want to check your moral compass. It’s an obscenity.
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Justice for Some 11/1/21

As NSW builds more prisons (SMH 28/12/20- 1000 bed prison at Camellia) and inequality grows apace, it is interesting to look at what penalties are given for what.  Here is an article about a multimillion dollar owner of aged care homes where 38 residents died of COVID.

He was charged with 101 counts of rorting a government taxi scheme that subsidised fares for disabled people,  pleaded guilty to three to the value of $3000 and got no conviction and 6 months community service.

His nursing home is being investigated and faces a class action on behalf of residents. He resigned when the media drew attention to his lavish lifestyle.  His lawyer warns against defaming his client.

The full story is below

With a justice system like this it is hard to see how we could possibly need more gaols.

http://theworldnews.net/au-news/aged-care-mogul-once-pleaded-guilty-to-deception-charges

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Assange has Avoided Extradition to the USA for now. 5/1/21

But Judge Baraitser accepted most of the US government’s arguments that journalism could be espionage, that he would get a ‘fair trial’ in the USA. and that his extradition would have been legal, though political crimes are supposedly excluded from the extradition agreement. He has not actually been freed, and one might reasonably ask why he is being held at all, since the trumped up Swedish rape case is no longer being pursued. There is also a possible appeal from the US government, at a time when Trump is on his last legs and looking for publicity and a legacy.


Julian Assange is still in danger from COVID in Belmarsh prison. It is hard to see anything other than the British, US and Australian Establishments trying to destroy him, if not by COVID, then simply psychologically. One shudders to think what his mental state will be after being locked up for a decade with no substantial charge and having tried to do good. ‘All journalists beware!’ is the message.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56130.htm

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The International Criminal Court has Declined to Prosecute Britain for War Crimes in Iraq. 1/1/21

Some have said that the ICC is where the big countries prosecute small dictators. The ICC has, in a 184 page document declined to prosecute British soldiers for war crimes in Iraq. They have also declined to say that the 2nd Iraq war was illegal. To do this they have quoted British rationale about the need to find Weapons of Mass Destruction, WMDs and ignored that fact that the weapons inspectors said that they have not found any, the Iraqis were cooperating better and that they wanted more time.

They use British names for Iraqi places, refer to the Iraqis as ‘insurgents’ in their own country and took refuge in the fact that the ICC does not have to investigate war crimes if the country that committed them is itself investigating. They then look at how the British investigations have gone, which is actually nowhere.

The author of this piece says he was a great fan of the ICC, but now concludes that it has no credibility. It is not a short piece, but this can be excused as it summarises the 184 pages of the ICC’s decision not to prosecute.

It is sad, but unsurprising that there is no credible enforcement of international law at an individual level, or in statements as to the actions of countries.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/56113.htm

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Workers Compensation in NSW and Victoria- ‘Immoral and Unethical’ – 4 Corners Exposes It. 28/7/20

This is what I have been saying for years. If you think the banks are bad, you have not dealt with insurers. They will do anything rather than pay people’s legitimate medical and living expenses.

My poor patients literally starve. They change their addresses each visit as they couch-surf their friends. The foreign patients with no Medicare cannot even get GP treatment, and because they are often paid sub-award wages in cash cannot even prove their incomes. Most specialists simply will not operate for the Medicare rebate, and even if they will the waiting time is a year. I tell the patients where the soup kitchens are. They are in huge pain and the most I hear from governments are warnings that they have been on narcotics too long, as they wait for the surgery that the insurers have refused to pay for.

The patient Scott with his supportive wife, at the beginning of the 27/7/20 4 Corners tells the story of his shattered life, which is just like what my patients tell me.

The Victorian the Ombudsman, Deborah Glass did an investigation into WorkSafe Victoria, the callous government insurer there. She found appalling behaviour and says so very clearly.

In NSW it is the same- the appalling, hopeless iCare, who should be called ‘I Don ‘t Care’ put together a bunch of insurance executives who had no experience in working with people. They all got awarded huge salaries and set about having computer algorithms to replace claims clerks. So when a claim goes wrong (which takes a while to figure out as 3 week delays are pretty much the norm), you call and ask to speak to the case manager. You can’t. But if you persist eventually you find one, but he or she only got the claim yesterday. i.e. There had been no person managing it until you hassled like hell, and it is often refused anyway.

Meanwhile the patient had no treatment and the fat cats at the top had not noticed that their system had a few glitches. And most of the concern in both the management echelons and the media is about some financial deficit which, if we are to believe the totally out-of- touch iCare CEO, Ken Nagle, depends how you do the accounting.

No one seems to remember that this is just a health insurance scheme to help Workers’ Compensation and Motor Vehicle accident Victims. If Medicare worked it would be completely unnecessary, and it cannot even manage to function like a private health insurer. It assumes that all doctors are crooks who cannot be trusted to order just the tests and operations necessary- they all have to be evaluated and denied by insurers who get every dollar that they refuse to pay, and who seek out dodgy doctors to carry out ‘Independent Medical Examinations’ (IMEs) to deny normal treatments. If the IME doctors do not do what the insurers want they get no more work from them.

The directors and top executives of iCare should be sacked and the whole thing given to ICAC to examine. ICAC needs more resources also.

SIRA (State Insurance Regulatory Authority) has been more hopeless than ASIC and APRA were with the banks, and should be abolished also. This story came from a whistle-blower, not from SIRA, the responsible agency, though some of us have been trying to get SIRA to act for years.

SIRA became a bit more interested after the Hayne Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry reported in February 2019, presumably as they realised that if the Commission has been given enough time to look at insurance, they would have had their own hopeless regulatory efforts scrutinised. They had an internal investigation, the Dore Inquiry (no, you almost certainly have not heard of it), but it did actually find that iCare was behaving appallingly. The report release was delayed 5 months (July-December 2019) and released just before Christmas with iCare’s reaction, which was to admit that they had made ‘mistakes’ and that they accepted all the recommendations. Great PR! Released on a busy day to avoid scrutiny and if you as a journo were a tiny bit interested, there was no story because iCare accepted the changes suggested. The SIRA strategy worked- no scrutiny of either iCare or SIRA.

At last there is a 4 Corners on this! Watch it if you missed it!

Let us hope that when it goes to ICAC some major changes are achieved. It seems that 4 Corners is the only regulatory force in the country. I guess that is why the government wants to de-fund the ABC.

https://youtu.be/fxIvKogrE2Q

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Vale Trevor Morling – the Passive Smoking Judgement of 1991, 10/6/20

Judge Trevor Morling has died at the age of 92.

He was the author of the famous ‘Morling Judgement’’’ which sent a shock around the world in 1991 as it stated that ‘passive smoking was potentially lethal’.

This has to be put in context if its significance is to be duly recognised.  The seminal article about smoking causing lung cancer had been written by Doll and Hill in the British Medical Journal in 1950, and many articles followed in the 1950s linking smoking to a great many diseases.

In 1961, the Royal College of physicians, concerned that the UK government had not done anything to curb smoking, commissioned their landmark report ‘Smoking and Health’ in 1962.  The US Surgeon-General did the same, resulting in a similar report in 1964.

The tobacco industry had to decide whether it would scale down its production, or tough it out and take the money.  It did secret research which confirmed that burning tobacco produced carcinogens and other harmful products which could not actually be removed.  There was a change of personnel and ethos.  Prior to 1950, tobacco was a legitimate product like anything else.  After the research was confirmed, the decision to keep selling and to deny the effects and hinder government action was the strategy that everyone working at the top of the tobacco industry had to accept.

Tobacco use was mainstream.  45% of all US adults smoked in 1954 (Statistica- Gallup) and consumption peaked in Australia in 1963.  People smoked everywhere. There were no smoke-free areas in bars, restaurants or anywhere else.  It was normal for house guests to light up and then ask ‘where is the ash tray?  The Tobacco industry was keen to maintain this situation and talked of the need for ‘courtesy and tolerance’ between smokers and non-smokers, which was code for ‘doing nothing political’.  Smokers all ‘chose to smoke’, which of course meant that they had voluntarily (and knowingly) assumed the risk and consequences of their behaviour.  The tobacco industry also gave money to political parties, just asking for a secret promise that there would be no legislation against them before the next election.  The medical industry were unaccustomed to this, and kept giving advice that was ignored, with a few significant voices such as Dr Nigel Gray of the Victorian Anti-Cancer Council and Dr Cotter Harvey of the Thoracic Society doing what advocacy they could. 

Non-Smokers Rights groups were the main driving force for change in the US in the 1960s and 1970s  arguing that people had a right not to breathe smoke.  The health charities, Cancer Councils, Heart Foundations were very keen to be non-political as their core business was raising research funds. Real activists soon discovered that their opponents were not the smokers, but the industry, who claimed that there was no proof that passive smoking was harmful, and that courtesy and consideration was all that was needed.  Their public stance was referred to as the ‘tightrope policy’.  They had to admit that many people believed that tobacco was harmful, as they had to contend that the smokers knew the risk that they were taking and hence could not sue them for deceiving them. But they also had to claim that they did not know that smoking was harmful, so that they were no liable for selling unsafe goods.  It was absurd, but it continued. 

The tobacco industry as well as being very politically active were the major advertiser, tobacco being second only to food.  This meant that the media were more reluctant to run stories that would affect their advertising revenue.  Outdoor advertising was also ubiquitous with over 50% of billboards being for tobacco, reminding people to smoke, and especially plastered all over convenience stores where cigarettes were sold.

In 1981 Prof Takeshi Hirayami published a seminal paper showing that non-smoking wives of smoking husbands got more cancer than wives of non-smokers (Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:183).  At last there was substantial medical evidence of the harm of passive smoking.

In Australia the medical groups had done quite good advocacy and in NSW a Transport Minister, Pat Hills, simply banned smoking on buses and trains in 1977, but pubs and clubs knew that smokers drank and gambled more than non-smokers, so they took the money from the tobacco industry and lobbied hard against smoke-free indoor air.  The restaurant industry followed them, somewhat lamely.

But a breakthrough came in 1979 when 3 activists, Bill Snow, Ric Bolzan and Geoff Coleman formed BUGA UP (Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions).  Coleman had studied political economy, and saw the issue as the tobacco industry killing people for money.  BUGA UP saw irresponsible and misleading advertising as the major vehicle for the promotion of products that had no intrinsic worth, tobacco being the leading example.  They wrote on billboards, changing the wordings in satiric and humorous ways, and signed their work, BUGA UP, which was an invitation for all to copy.  They also did street theatre, often concerned with disrupting tobacco promotion activities in supermarkets or malls.  This had an immense direct effect as the billboard posters were only being changed every 3 months and the leaflets and street theatre were amusing.  There was a lot of popular support as most people saw that smoking was harmful, and governments were too craven to act.  There was also a lot of publicity when Coleman and Neville Biffin were arrested in 1981 and charged with defacing a billboard.  They were convicted in 1982 and fined, but praised by the judge (Daily Telegraph 26/2/82) and given a light penalty, which sent a strong message.  It also sent a shot around the world by making all other tobacco activism seem moderate by comparison.  Australia’s activism was seen as more direct with a ‘Robin Hood’ flavour, but was also more conspicuous because it was against the ubiquitous tobacco billboards, and targeted the industry directly, rather than the more subtle and legalistic approach of the non-smokers’ right groups who had previously been the front line against the industry.  It might be noted that at the 5th World Conference on Smoking and Health  in 1983 there were no scheduled sessions on political action or advocacy, and the first meeting was convened by renowned Californian activist Prof Stan Glantz.  The presentation on BUGA UP had to be repeated as the room was not large enough for the people who had wanted to attend.  The medical system was becoming energised.

The tobacco industry was very demoralised by this.  They had set up a lobby group, pretentiously called the ‘Tobacco Institute.’  But this was re-energised by John Dollisson who was there from 1983-87. 

In 1983 the Western Australian lower house supported a private member’s bill by Dr Tom Dadour to ban tobacco sponsorship of sport, but an energetic campaign led by Dollisson and using sporting bodies who received money from tobacco, defeated this in the upper house (Musk, BMJ Vol 290 25/5/85). 

After his successful Industry fight against the WA Dadour bill, Dollisson’s feisty style set the tone for the tobacco struggles of the 1980s.  He was physically strong and in debate would cram a number of aggressive arguments into each sentence, such as,  ‘You are treating the smoking causes disease hypothesis as fact, then want to even say that passive smoking is harmful, and smoking is addictive and the advertising get the kids and then you want to tell people how to live their lives and trample on their rights and then you want the government to enforce a nanny state for you.’  (This is not a direct quote, but an example of how his speech was structured).  Assuming that he was interrupted at this point, as he would not stop if he were not, the tobacco control advocate would then be able to only answer one of the points already raised.  But Dollisson’s aggressive style eventually got him into trouble, with the Trade Practices Commission, prohibition of ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’ being used against one of his advocacy ads. Then the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations bravely took him on.  The story is told by Stacey Carter (Tobacco Control- BMJ Issue 12 Suppl 3):

In July 1986 he [Dollisson as CEO of the Tobacco Institute (TIA)] placed an advertisement in the national press entitled “A message from those who do…to those who don’t”29 in which he claimed “there is little evidence and nothing which proves scientifically that cigarette smoke causes disease in non-smokers”.30 Early in 1987, Dollisson placed a “followup” ad for the TIA, as demanded by the Trade Practices Commission, which among other things stated that the TIA did not accept that their original advertisement was misleading.31 This action triggered a six year legal war between TIA and the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations (AFCO), at substantial cost to the TIA.

On 7 February 1991 Justice Morling decided that the TIA “had engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive” and banned the TIA from speaking publicly on ETS.40,41 On appeal the injunction was lifted, but the court granted a declaration that the advertisement was misleading and deceptive contrary to the Act and the TIA were ordered to pay a large proportion of AFCO’s costs.

The ‘Morling Judgement’ as it was termed was the first time in the world that passive smoking had been held by a court to be harmful, and this rang around the world.

Dollisson left the Tobacco Institute and went to Philip Morris where he helped the campaign against the Victorian Government’s Tobacco Act of 1987, which raised the State tobacco tax and replaced tobacco sponsorship money as well as promoting health (which replaced tobacco advertising from the advertisers point of view) and also funded medical research.  The Victorian legislation, effectively paid off the tobacco industry’s bought acolytes, and the aggressive approach to advocacy by Dollisson in Australia was seen as backfiring. 

The decision also set the precedent for the test case Scholem v NSW Dept of Health, where a psychological counsellor successfully sued for workplace tobacco smoke exposure in May 1992.

Australia has been drifting in its tobacco control endeavours of late, but Trevor Morling will be remembered for his contribution, as well for the many other achievements cited below.

www.smh.com.au/national/chamberlain-royal-commission-judge-was-a-lawyer-s-lawyer-20201006-p562hk.html

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Domestic Violence Becomes a Workers Comp Issue 8/6/20

The NSW Supreme Court has held that the children of a worker killed at home by her mentally ill partner in a domestic violence incident can have compensation.

It is good that the issue of domestic violence gets publicity and that the children get compensation. But it raises the issue of whether employers are seriously able to assess the domestic situation of all employees and then whether they can ever hope to intervene in them.  Employers ran a long campaign not to have to pay for journey accidents, people injured on the way to work, on the basis that it was not a risk that they could control, yet which potentially might cause a big change in their insurance premiums and thus costs.  If we want our employers to be concentrating on making their businesses efficient and looking for hazards in the workplaces that they do control, it is slightly dubious public policy to have them sniffing around about employees’ home life.  This case is slightly unusual in that the employer was effectively a partnership bet ween the couple rather than having a distant employer, and the company had been deregistered which suggests some dysfunction  But the money accessed was Workers Compensation insurance and this will affect premiums and potentially other work situations.

It is true that a lot needs to be done about the discovery and action on domestic violence.  It is also true that mentally ill people need to live somewhere and that their carers are at risk.  Judges faced with people in dire need of help such as the children in this situation search for answers, and the Workers Compensation insurance scheme is a source of such funds. But the precedent set is not a good one.

The same principle applies when a baby gets into trouble at birth and has long-term adverse effects. If the obstetrician is found to have erred, there is a lot of money to give the unfortunate infant.  If he or she is not found to have erred, there is no money for the infant.  So now the premiums for obstetricians are very high and some retire in consequence.  4 Corners ran a show on this issue some time ago and it turned out that one doctor was responsible for about 60% of the problem births in Western Australia and had declined to speak to the show. Wow- go after him!  Who was he?  The Professor at the biggest teaching hospital of course.  Most of the difficult cases in the State were admitted under his name, and the staff of the hospital did their best with these cases. 

What is needed is a compensation system that is no fault.  Sometimes bad things happen.  Sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes big mistakes have small consequences and sometimes little mistakes have big consequences.  With systems, it is not usually one person who makes a mistake, there are miscommunications, lack of clarity who was responsible, lack of availability of something or someone.  Accident causation theory is now an academic discipline, but the legal profession has not really caught up, let alone the political system.

A lot needs to be done about domestic violence, but I am not sure that making it a workers compensation issue will do anything more than push it into the public eye and help these children.  Employers and insurers will run a successful political campaign to change the law to exclude it.  I am not often on the side of Workers Compensation insurers, but a better solution has to be found.

www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/no-longer-a-private-matter-employer-held-responsible-for-family-violence-20200605-p54zy1.html

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Aboriginal Deaths in Custody are not far from the US situation. 5/6/20

Australians looking at the riots happening in the US may be tempted to feel smug that it does not happen here. The riots don’t, but there has been a long history of Aboriginal deaths in custody, seemingly unchanged by a number of Royal Commissions. This is long overdue to be addressed, and is the peak of the tendency to criminalise our social problems.

You might argue that the policeman who tripped a 16 year old to arrest him did so because the youth threatened to break his jaw, but you cannot argue with the many deaths and inquiries’ findings.

We need to put our own house in order.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/04/morrison-says-australia-should-not-import-black-lives-matter-protests-after-deaths-in-custody-rally?CMP=share_btn_fb

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Housing Stimulus: More Middle Class Welfare 5/6/20

Successive governments have used the building industry to pump up the economy on credit.  How so?  For decades the tax deduction on negatively geared real estate has made housing a favoured investment. It has been the no-brainer way to make money. You borrow to own a property, and as long as it is your, all the capital gain is yours.  So the lesser fraction that you own, the greater the percentage rise in your total assets.  And since you save on tax and gain rent, it is far better than shares or other assets. If you ask to borrow 90% to buy shares, no bank would lend you 90%. They would fall about laughing, and you would be taking a big risk.  If you wanted to borrow 90% of real estate, no problem- all perceived as low risk.  How come?  Because Australia’s private debt is rising and is now the highest in the world.  This little Ponzi scheme has a cost. We have the best houses, which are the most expensive relative to our incomes, and we have a huge national private debt, which means that we pay interest to foreign banks and have no money to develop and own our own country.  Like all Ponzi schemes, it is OK as long as you sell out before the bubble pops.  The older generation are doing this, cashing out as the younger generation takes up the huge loans that are now necessary.

The tax department got less money to create this mess, so public housing was not built, and there is a huge shortage of public housing.  Because prices are so high there is also a problem in affordable housing as wages in the real world have stagnated as globalisation allows jobs to go offshore to be done more cheaply by third world people.  The negative gearing thing amounts to middle class welfare, where those who had one house were able to buy more, and those that did not merely saw rents and prices rise.  Labor tried to address this and lost the election.

Now we have a recession, worsened by the COVID-19 crisis and the taxpayer has to step in, making more debt for the future.  So what projects to spend the money on?  More middle class welfare! Those who already have $150,000 to improve their house get another $25,000 from the future taxpayer, the young people of today.

It is merely another example of the Morrison government’s lack of commitment to a fair go for all. This could be a huge opportunity to build social housing to help those who have been left behind.  Is the excuse that the projects are not ‘shovel-ready’?  The government could pay for the huge outstanding renovations and repair bill on the public housing, which has been neglected for 30 years.  Surely these repair lists on yellowed paper could be found and actioned.

Morrison governs for his voters, not for the country as a whole. His policies increase inequality, which stores discord for the future.  This last effort will further the Matthew Effect, named after the biblical quote, ‘For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away’.

— Matthew 25:29, RSV.

www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/03/morrison-government-to-offer-25000-grants-to-help-build-and-renovate-homes

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