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Weekend reflections

September 13th, 2008

It’s time for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. observa
    September 13th, 2008 at 23:35 | #1

    Fuelwatch and grocerywatch are fizzers and now-

    ‘THE Rudd Government’s great hope to overcome the housing affordability crisis by offering first-home buyers’ beefed-up savings accounts looks set to be a huge fizzer.

    The silence is deafening from the finance sector, just two weeks out from the October 1 deadline when the accounts were set to hit the market.

    Of almost 200 banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, just 14 obscure outlets — mostly close to teachers, police and those in the Cypriot community — have expressed any interest with the banking regulator regarding the accounts.

    Life insurers and super funds can also offer them and so far the Labour Union Retirement Co-operative Fund is the first to show any interest.

    The Federal Government has allocated $1.2 billion to help set them up, including $150 million over the next four years to improve the accounts.

    Fiona Reynolds, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, said many super funds had put the first-home saver accounts “in the too hard basket”.

    “These products are welcome but, under the proposed legislation, the costs of establishing and running a FHSA are simply too high for many super funds.”

    The accounts were first lauded in February and later in the May Budget by Treasurer Wayne Swan as a great saviour to help new buyers get on to the property ladder.

    If used to their fullest, savers could receive $3400 free from the Government after four years or $6800 if a couple opened separate accounts.

    Infochoice spokesman Steven Anderson said there had not been a peep out of any major banks regarding these new products because they have been deemed too expensive and complex.

    Finance industry sources said the accounts had to be created using a trust structure, similar to superannuation, and the Government’s reporting was too onerous and complicated.

    But Mr Swan’s spokesman was adamant “a few banks and various other institutions are going to offer the accounts” from October 1, but he declined to name any.

    Opposition housing spokeswoman Sussan Ley told The Courier-Mail people now didn’t have to have $1000 to open an account.

    “I think it smacks of desperation by the Government that they’ve had to lower the threshold,” she said.

    Main points
    • Government to pay first-home savers 17 per cent on after-tax deposits up to $5000 or $850 a year.
    • Deal capped at $3400 over four years.
    • No minimum deposit but maximum $75,000 balance.
    • Open to 18 to 65-year-olds.
    • Money only to be used for owner-occupied houses or rolled into super.’

    Why is it Govts, after the usual fanfare and hand wringing makes things so irrelevant, or so onerously bureaucratic as to be virtually useless?

  2. SJ
    September 13th, 2008 at 23:51 | #2

    Michael Costa’s latest comments confirm that he was always a useless know-nothing who should never have been put in any ministerial position:

    He said state governments had no role in positive economic management and he had tried to stop the former premier’s “spin merchants” from claiming economic success.

    “The heart of modern politics is a fundamental dishonesty that politicians and governments can solve problems that are inherently insolvable,” he wrote.

    Health, transport and police portfolios, “are always under-resourced”, given to a premier’s rivals to stifle them. He said the way to succeed was to pander to interest groups.

    There’s a few things rolled in there:

    1) He adopts the US Republican position that goverments are useless at providing services, which is a corrupt, self-serving claim when made by an incumbent government. People who want to be in government, but who explicitly reject the concept of government should be weeded out real quick.

    2) He’s a whingeing bastard who thinks that he should have been the head of the government whose legitimacy he rejects, and the only reason he failed was that he was given the difficult jobs. He failed in the difficult jobs, i.e., all of the jobs he was given, but that was only because the people above him gave him those jobs because they wanted him to fail.

    3) Interest groups, e.g. those that supported or voted for him or his government, or who use the services of his government, or who are his colleagues in government, should all go and f*** themselves.

    Gee, poor Costa. It ain’t his fault.

  3. observa
    September 14th, 2008 at 08:33 | #3

    Well he’s got a point about health, transport and police SJ-

    ‘PACKS of youths hurling bottles and rocks at buses and passengers spitting on drivers are among the frightening attacks on Adelaide’s bus fleet, official reports reveal.

    Drivers are losing more than 100 hours a month on the road because of vandalism, violent passengers, breakdowns and worsening traffic congestion, Adelaide’s two largest bus companies have reported.
    Punctuality reports obtained by the Sunday Mail under Freedom of Information laws showed at least seven buses were delayed in the first six months of this year because they were hit with missiles.

    In one incident on June 14, a driver for SouthLink called for police back-up as up to 20 “youths” peppered his vehicle with rocks and bottles in the southern suburbs.

    A day later a bus driver in the northern suburbs reported that windows on his vehicle had been “smashed” by shots fired from either a gun or a sling-shot.

    The reports only reveal attacks that have delayed a journey, with bus operators saying attacks with missiles are happening at least once a week.

    The reports come a week after a passenger was hit by a Molotov cocktail thrown through the window of an O-Bahn bus at the Tea Tree Plaza interchange last Friday.

    TWU secretary Alex Gallacher said drivers faced a daily barrage of abuse from passengers.

    He said more bicycle police must be stationed at interchanges along the O-Bahn to help catch the vandals responsible for the Molotov attack.

    “There should be a whole new co-ordinated approach (to security) not just an incident-by-incident approach,” he said. “We can’t have people frightened of catching buses because of these a***holes.”

    Neil Smith, director of Adelaide’s largest bus operator, Torrens Transit, said his company was preparing a safety report on the incident for the State Government and hinted it would be pushing for improved bus security.

    “We think there are things we can do there to provide better security,” he said, declining to elaborate.

    He said it was the first time he had heard of a bus being fire-bombed and said his company’s 600-strong fleet was being hit by projectiles at least once a week.’

    If our buses, trams and trains don’t look like football stadiums in a hurricane now with higher petrol prices, then our public hospital emergency depts sure do. At least in the EDs the private security staff outnumber the shrinking service providers. The first thing any sensible, incoming Labor PM does is give aboriginal affairs to the left wing of the party for obvious reasons. Damned if they don’t and damned if they actually make waves like a Mal Brough from the usual suspects. Health and Transport at the Federal level are not too bad because you’re fairly remote from the front line provision, unlike your State counterparts. Front line performance is the field day for Oppositions nowadays.

    Overall, I’d say incumbency is getting to be more problematic as the electorate gets more grumpy, particularly now the economic good times are over. Costa has probably been in a position for long enough to notice such changing demands on the job. Basically pander to the rights of the ****holes, whilst trying to satisfy the needs of the decent majority.

  4. September 14th, 2008 at 21:27 | #4

    the australian government, at every level, is an accurate reflection of the australian electorate.

    it’s not just the yobs that make bus-driving too exciting. it’s also the quietism of what passes for an intelligentsia here, the fecklessness that has earned them the sobriquet of chatterati.

    they can not even imagine that they should do anything but talk.

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