POPPINS GETS IT WRONG

It is a sad time when someone elected to represent local residents gets the wrong answer so often. Denise Knight is one such person. Elected as mayor in the last election, she promised so much but delivered very little.
Each time there was a major decision to be made it seems she simply complied with the wish of the General Manager. The roles were reversed. Instead of being a voice for the community Mrs Knight frequently ignored the residents. At times she even said she was “listening” – but, it is obvious, not to the residents.
In fact, she seemed to forget the General Manager is a paid employee. In the role of Mayor she should have given direction to the General Manager. In turn the General Manager is there to put in place activities to achieve the desired direction. He is not and should not be regarded as the oracle (or a dictator).
Look at some of the problems from the last election period. The Mayor did not express a worthwhile opinion on:
Budgetary control measures,
Proposed rate level increases,
Creation and operation of Coastal Works,
Saving the Deep Sea Fishing Club,
Acquisition of the old “Catholic Club”,
Volunteer contributions to the Botanical Gardens,
Saving trees in Pioneer Park,
Proper planning for the Jordan St intersection and
Many more substantial tasks.
Rather the Mayor took the easy option. It didn’t require any mental exertion to “rubber stamp” anything and everything put before her.
Did the Mayor not realise the council employees were prepared to send her on a wild goose chase rather than have her monitor what was happening in the council? Why else did the control of the feral shopping trolley attract so much attention? It was a distraction. Better to have the Mayor do something could have been very easily fixed by a junior member of council. Make the task so important it needed the attention of the most senior person. Mayor, the solution was so simple. Ask the council to impound the offending trolleys. Next have the supermarket pay a premium to get them back otherwise sell them off as scrap.
So Mayor, what will the community remember about your term in office? Residents will recall the numerous photo shots of you opening fetes and fairs. A task that is operational and not exactly strategic in its nature.
Perhaps Mrs Knight you should adopt the campaign slogan “A vote for Knight is a vote for the General Manager”. After all he wants to be strategic and you want to be operational.

Scott Morrison is attacking the old when he puts down the ‘taxed-nots

It’s a sad day when economic commentators like me have to spend so much time explaining what’s wrong or misleading about the things the federal Treasurer says, rather than backing up his efforts to educate the public on economic realities and helping him fight for sensible though unpopular policies.

To be fair, Scott Morrison did have useful points to make in his big speech last week, his first major contribution since the election.

Treasurer’s dire economic warning
There’s less than a decade to get debt under control or risk our future generations, according to Scott Morrison. Courtesy ABC News 24.
But then he veered off onto reinforcing the mythology of the greedy well-off, who resent being taxed to help those less fortunate than themselves.

He announced there was a new divide in the community – “the taxed and the taxed-nots”.

“Get it? Here are you and I, working hard all our lives, having far too much of that income taken off us in tax. Yet out there somewhere, living in suburbs we rarely visit, is a growing army of bludgers who don’t bother working, but find some way of conning the government into paying their way. Now, apparently, a lot more of them will go their entire lives without paying more in tax than they get back in benefits.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison issued a dire warning on federal finances last week

It’s built on a few simple tricks. It hopes you won’t remember that Australia’s social security system is the most tightly means tested among the developed countries, paying flat amounts that aren’t at all generous – which is the main reason we pay less tax than most.

And it hopes you won’t remember that we pay many more taxes than income tax. Personal income tax accounts for only a little over half the federal taxes we pay. Add in state and local taxes, and income tax accounts for 40 per cent of all taxes.

So the notion that people who don’t work don’t pay tax is silly. Even taking account of benefits received, next to no one goes through their life being “taxed-not”.

It’s true we spend almost $160 billion a year on social security – most of it going on pensions and benefits – which accounts for more than a third of all federal spending.

Official figures show there are about 5.2 million recipients of federal “income support”. So who are these bludgers? People on the dole? They account for just 13 per cent.

Sole parents? They’re 5 per cent. People at home being “carers”? Just 4 per cent.

I know, all those people faking bad backs on the disability support pension. Sorry, that’s only 16 per cent.

So where are the rest of the people not pulling their weight and expecting us to support them? Well, half the people on income support are people on age or service pensions.

Oh. You mean the people who keep saying they’re entitled to the pension because they “paid taxes all their lives”. The people whose investment advisers helped them have lots of other income, but still get the pension.

And that doesn’t count all the retired people paying no income tax on their income from superannuation, at present no matter how huge.

Nor does it count all those bludging parents getting the family tax benefit or those bludging mothers expecting us to help with the cost of childcare so they can go to work.

Family benefits and childcare subsidies account for more than a quarter of federal spending on pensions and benefits.

What, not quite so many lazy loafers as you expected?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a study where it attempts to allocate as many taxes as possible from all levels of government to each of Australia’s 8 million-plus households, while also allocating as many cash and in-kind benefits as possible from all governments.

Morrison ought to look at the most recent study, for 2009-10, particularly page 41. It shows that whether we pay more to the government than we get back in benefits changes as we move through the life cycle.

It shows that, on average, single people of working age pay a lot more than they get back, as do couples without dependent kids.

Couples with a few kids pretty much break even or get back a bit more than they pay, but the people who really clean up are the retired.

Elderly couples are ahead to the tune of about $690 a week, on average, with elderly singles getting $475 a week, mainly because they pay little income tax but get huge health benefits along with the pension.

ScoMo isn’t smart enough to know it, but in disparaging the “taxed-nots” he’s really attacking the old.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.

Victoria permanently bans fracking and coal seamgas exploration

Activists and farmers hail decision after inquiry into onshore unconventional gas received 1,600 submissions
A locked gate
The Victorian government said the fracking ban ‘acknowledges that the risks involved outweigh any potential benefits’. Photograph: Tim Wimborne/Reuters
Melissa Davey
@MelissaLDavey
Tuesday 30 August 2016 11.22 AEST Last modified on Tuesday 30 August 2016 14.51 AEST
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Victoria is to introduce a permanent ban on all onshore unconventional gas exploration, including fracking and coal seam gas, becoming the first Australian state to do so.

The premier, Daniel Andrews, made the announcement on Tuesday morning and said legislation for the ban would be introduced later this year, making the current moratorium on unconventional gas exploration permanent.

A parliamentary inquiry last year into onshore unconventional gas in Victoria received more than 1,600 submissions, most of them opposed to fracking and coal seam gas exploration.

A statement from the Department of Premier and Cabinet said: “It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken. They simply don’t support fracking.

“The government’s decision is based on the best available evidence and acknowledges that the risks involved outweigh any potential benefits to Victoria.”

Court rules in Santos’s favour over coal seam gas water treatment plant in Pilliga
Read more
The government said the move would protect the reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector, which employs more than 190,000 people; provide certainty to regional communities; and end anxiety felt by farmers about the environmental and health risks associated with fracking.

Exemptions to the ban will remain for activities not covered by the current moratorium, such as gas storage, carbon storage research and accessing offshore resources. Exploration and development for offshore gas will also continue.

The Greens energy spokeswoman, Ellen Sandell, welcomed the news, describing it as “a relief to communities that have fought the threat of fracking for years”.

“This decision proves the power of grassroots advocacy,” she said. “Individuals have won over powerful and influential mining companies, and the Greens are proud to have led the political campaign which forced the government to support a permanent ban.

“But it’s disappointing the government is leaving the door open to conventional gas drilling after the next state election. We won’t stop fighting until all onshore gas drilling is banned.”

A dairy farmer in the Victorian coastal town of Seaspray, Julie Boulton, said the threat of unconventional gas mining had been hanging over farmers’ heads for years. “It has been so heart-wrenching at times, when we thought the drill rigs were coming and there was nothing we could do,” she said.

Fossil fuel register shows more than a third of Australia earmarked for coal or gas
Read more
“But we pulled together as a community and decided to fight this threat to our farmland, water and health and today’s decision is just fantastic – we are ecstatic.”

Over the past five years the Lock the Gate coalition of rural communities, environmental groups and farmers has fought unconventional gas exploration.

Chloe Aldenhoven, coordinator for Lock the Gate, said about 1.4m hectares of Victoria was threatened by some form of onshore gas mining, which included coal seam gas, tight gas, shale gas and underground coal gasification. “Labor has shown real leadership by listening to community concerns,” she said.

“This is good news for every Victorian, but for the farming communities that have been fighting to stop this industry for over five years now, this is a wonderful day. This decision gives them certainty to move forward, and this decision protects Victoria’s vital clean and green image.”

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Principal Adviser at The Australia Institute, Mark Ogge, praised the ban as “sound economic and energy policy”.

He said that Queensland’s experiment in unconventional gas had demonstrated that the economic benefits promised by the gas industry had largely failed to materialise, while negatively impacting other industries. Research had found that for every 10 new gas jobs, 18 agricultural jobs were lost, he said.

“The manufacturing industry has been one of the biggest losers with LNG exports allowing gas suppliers to drive up prices to Australian users, and suppliers exercising their market power keep Australian prices high even as global prices collapsed,” Ogge said.

“We now have the ridiculous situation that Australian gas is now cheaper in Korea than it is in Australia. That’s a double-disaster for local manufacturing jobs.

“What benefits there are, have gone almost entirely to the overseas owners of global oil and gas companies licensed to export Australian gas, largely at the expense of Australian businesses and local jobs.”

Coffs Harbour vocational student among the best in the state

lOCAL MEMBER FOR cOFFS hARBOUR

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, today congratulated Coffs Harbour local, Lauren Tarrant of the Office of Environment and Heritage for being named as a finalist in the 2016 NSW State Training Awards to be held in Sydney on 8 September, 2016.

Lauren is a finalist in the Trainee of the Year category and has demonstrated exceptional passion and commitment to her vocational education and training.

“The NSW economy is growing strongly, and we need to make sure we set our young people up with the right skills and training to get a job,” Mr Fraser said.

“The NSW Government is offering 550,000 subsidised places in vocational education and training so people like Lauren have the best start to getting a job and building a career,” Mr Fraser added.

“Being named as a finalist in the NSW State Training Awards is a fantastic achievement and I wish Laruen well at the awards – I am sure she will do the Coffs Harbour electorate proud.”

Minister for Skills John Barilaro also congratulated the finalist on joining the ranks of the best VET students in the State.

“The NSW Training Awards is an annual showcase of the world class vocational education and training offered in NSW,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The quality of the finalists is outstanding and is testament to our excellent teachers and trainers in NSW in our quality public, private and community training providers.

“NSW continues to have the strongest economy of any state in the country and the highest jobs growth confirming the position as the economic powerhouse of the nation.

“To ensure that our economic advantage is supported and sustained, we need to continue to strengthen our skills base by providing vocational education and training options that connect everyone with jobs,” Mr Barilaro said.

For more information contact www.training.nsw.gov.au/training_awards/
Smart and Skilled: www.smartandskilled.nsw.gov.au

Why the era of economic reform has ended

In case you haven’t noticed, you’re staring at the end of the era of economic reform. It has ended because it’s come to be seen by many voters as no more than a cover for advancing the interests of the rich and powerful at their expense.

The evidence that the jig is up is all around us, in Brexit, Donald Trump and, at home, the near defeat of a government that went to the election with just one substantive proposal – to phase down the rate of company tax – which it sought to hide behind the empty slogan of “jobs and growth”.

The economic reform era began in the early 1980s with Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and, of course, the Hawke-Keating ...
The economic reform era began in the early 1980s with Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and, of course, the Hawke-Keating government.  

In the Senate we’ve seen the rise of the protectionist Xenophones and the resurrection of One Nation in even madder form.

To call the end of the reform era is not deny we’ll still see the occasional policy proposal worthy of that name – such as Malcolm Turnbull’s highly desirable changes to superannuation tax concessions and Labor’s plan to curb negative gearing and reduce the capital gains tax discount.

But these have become exceptional events, hidden among the more numerous proposals to disguise rent-seeking as reform.

The economic reform era began in the early 1980s with Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and, of course, the Hawke-Keating government.

Many of those early reforms were unavoidable and greatly beneficial. America’s airline deregulation brought an end to the cosseted flag-carriers and their unaffordable fares. Britain needed to end nationalised coal mines and other inefficiencies.

In Australia, we needed to open up our economy to the reality of a globalising world: to deregulate an inefficient and expensive financial system, float the dollar, phase out protection and move from centralised wage-fixing to collective bargaining.

But from such a promising start, now it’s over. What brought the era to its ignominious end? Its noble goals were lost as it was hijacked by faulty ideology and vested interests.

The sceptical approach towards government intervention of the otherwise naive economists promoting reform left them susceptible to the smaller-government ideology – the belief that the private sector always does things better than the public sector, that government does too much and taxes are always too high.

This made them sitting ducks for the greedy rich – who cloak their greed in “libertarianism”, while actually resenting being asked to subsidise the poor via taxation.

Economists were also the dupes of business people anxious to find ways of increasing their profits easier than the hard graft of price competition and struggling for market share.

What brought the era to its ignominious end? Its noble goals were lost as it was hijacked by faulty ideology and vested interests.

They happily turned the provision of government services over to private firms. It never occurred to them that the private providers might cut corners on quality, exploit the naivety of public officials, find a way to get at the pollies, or lose all sense of restraint in their efforts to rip money out of the public purse.

After the long list of disasters in the field of outsourcing – the great private childcare collapse, the exploitation of foreign students by firms selling phony courses in return for permanent residence, the fly-by-night pink batt installers, and the near destruction of TAFE – the punters can tell something’s badly wrong.

An early area of outsourcing was the replacement of the Commonwealth Employment Service with a network of charitable and for-profit providers of “employment services”. Just wait for its inadequacies to be exposed when next we suffer a severe recession.

The outsourced provision of aged care is likely to be an ever increasing headache for governments.

Then there’s privatisation, where too often governments have sacrificed the reformist ideal of increasing competition to increase efficiency on the altar of using existing or newly created monopoly power to enhance the sale price.

Why maximise sale price at the expense of consumers? Because of the obsession with debt levels and maintaining credit ratings. Faced with a choice between efficiency and the budget deficit, too many state treasuries have looked the other way.

A win for accountants over economists.

But the reformers’ greatest failing has been the conceit that they look after efficiency and leave equity to lesser mortals: they ignore their reforms’ effect on fairness.

At a time when technological change and globalisation are shifting the distribution of market income in favour of the top few per cent of earners, they’re pushing “reforms” to make the tax system less redistributive.

And the very reformers who want freedom for some industries to expand while others contract have been happy to allow the rate of unemployment benefits to fall to almost a third below the poverty line.

Then they wonder why the punters decide something is badly off-beam and turn to soothsayers and medicine men.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.

Alan MOIR thinks the Knight in Silver armour is in a bit of trouble

COMMUNITY DROP-IN SESSIONS FOR COFFS HARBOUR BYPASS

Residents and business owners have been invited by State and Federal local members to attend community drop-in sessions to learn more about the Coffs Harbour bypass project.

Andrew Fraser New South Wales Member for Coffs Harbour said the drop-in sessions give the community an opportunity to have their say on the preliminary concept design for the much anticipated project.

“The preliminary concept design incorporates refinements made to the previous design, and identifies the location of possible tunnels and access points to and around the new highway,” Mr Fraser said.

“Drop-in sessions will be held at Cavanbah Centre, 191 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour on Wednesday 31 August from 5pm to 8pm and Saturday 3 September from 9am to 12pm.

“The project team will be available at both drop-in sessions to discuss the project and answer questions about the progress of the project.

“There will be no formal presentations so community members can attend at any time.”

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the Coffs Harbour bypass would improve road safety, cutting down travel time, improved accessibility to the city’s Central Business District and create jobs in the region.

“The bypass is a critical infrastructure project for both the state and our region and we invite community feedback on the preliminary concept design,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

Comments are invited until September 19 and Roads and Maritime Services will consider all comments as part of the development of the environmental impact statement.

or more information about the upgrade project please contact 1800 550 621, email CoffsHarbourBypass@rms.nsw.gov.au or visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/projects/

 Media Contacts

For Mr Fraser:                                                                                               6652 6500

For Mr Hartsuyker:                           Nikki Voss                                          0408 070 056

Thousands protest against offshore detention

 Protesters in Melbourne on Saturday calling for immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island to close. Photograph: Refugee Action Collective Victoria

Good morning, and welcome to the Morning Mail.

Among the stories on our website this morning are the protests against offshore detention that were held across Australia over the weekend. 2,000 protesters in Melbourne on Saturday, up to 5,000 in Sydney and more in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Ballina and Hobart called for refugees and asylum seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island to be brought to Australia.

Here is a selection of reader photos from the rallies. If you attended one of the protests, you can submit your own pics here, or see all of the reader submissions to our Guardian Witness assignment.

The rallies in Australia came after protesters in London staged a 10-hour live reading outside Australia House of all 8,000 pages of the leaked incident reports contained in the Nauru files. 

Keep reading for the rest of the top stories this morning, with more news from around Australia and the world.

Majority of voters back lockout laws across NSW, poll shows

A majority of NSW voters say the controversial “lockout” laws in Sydney’s centre should be extended across the state and three-quarters of young people support existing laws, an exclusive Fairfax poll has found.

Nearly 60 per cent of NSW voters support extending the 1.30am “lockout” and 3am last drinks in force across Kings Cross and parts of the CBD to the rest of the state, according to a Fairfax-commissioned ReachTEL poll of 1600 voters.

Lockout laws have saved lives: Mike Baird

NSW Premier Mike Baird says that while he remains open-minded, the Sydney lockout laws have already saved lives and prevented brain injuries.

The findings come as the state government prepares to receive a review of the 2014 laws, which have this year continued to draw protests of up to 10,000 people and criticism they have neutered Sydney’s night life. Most voters, and especially younger voters, say core elements, including a 1.30am lockout, should be retained.

Only one-quarter of voters are opposed to extending the lockouts statewide; the balance are undecided.

Mike Baird's government is due to review the 2014 lockout laws.
Mike Baird’s government is due to review the 2014 lockout laws. Photo: Peter Rae

Tamworth and Newcastle have independently brought in lockout regimes and the idea has the backing of many physicians and emergency workers.

“We are just continuing to accept more than 2000 non-domestic assaults a month in NSW as background noise,” said Dr John Crozier from Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. “These are reasonable measures and they work.”

Dr Crozier said the CBD lockouts had more than halved the number of patients needing serious facial surgery.

An accompanying 10pm bottle shop curfew was also followed by a decrease in the statewide assault rate, Dr Crozier said.

A majority of voters from all three parties supported extending the lockout, but Greens MLC David Shoebridge said the party would not drop opposition in response to polls. “We want to see the big beer barns and mega casinos targeted, not a blanket lockout,” he said.

FEE FREE TRAINING – CHANGING LIVES

lOCAL MEMBER FOR cOFFS hARBOUR

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With National Skills Week (29 Aug-4 Sept) putting the spotlight on the benefits of vocational training, the State Government is asking residents  in the Coffs Harbour electorate who may be dealing with difficult life circumstances to consider fee free training as a pathway to more positive life and career outcomes.

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the State Government’s fee exemptions and free scholarships were helping some of the state’s most vulnerable people ease the financial burden to rebuild their lives through training.

“Vocational training and learning new skills can literally change the course of an individual’s life and future prospects.

“The value can be even more pronounced for those dealing with difficult life circumstances – for example those in out-of-home care, in social housing, or surviving domestic violence.

“Since we launched this fantastic initiative in July 2015 over 27,000 people have taken the opportunity to choose from more than 590 qualifications from Certificate I to Certificate IV level.

“The funding includes support for apprenticeships and traineeships – giving people the confidence to know they can complete their training without paying a cent in course fees,” Mr Fraser said.

Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro said up to 200,000 free training places are available over four years under the $48 million program.

“We need to do more to get the message out – there are plenty more opportunities for people to secure a scholarship and I encourage people in the Coffs Harbour electorate to find out more.

“We want to see more eligible students take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to gain the skills and training that can change their lives for the better,” he said.

Smart and Skilled was introduced in 2015 and eligible students can choose from more than 700 qualifications on the NSW Skills List.

National Skills Week: http://www.nationalskillsweek.com.au/

Smart and Skilled: https://smartandskilled.nsw.gov.au/for-students/fee-free-scholarships