Category Archives: Australia
Australia is the name of an island continent in the southern hemisphere, between the pacific and Indian oceans. Europeans arrived in great numbers starting on January 26 1788. Extensive conflict with the original peoples ( who had been living there for at least 40,000 years) has continued in different forms to the present day. No peace treaty has ever been signed.
Recently we have had debates about education funding and regulation. So it would be a worth considering the woeful path New Zealand took with its education funding model about 23 years ago.
The New Zealand loan scheme, the rapacious debt monster that for the first 20 years of its life was unbankrupt-able. Starting out at 7% plus CPI interest rates being charged daily culminating in monthly 2% penalties for non payment, this political football generated billions of dollars of debt placed squarely on the shoulders of the youngest and least able to pay. How did people deal with this in a country with shallow employment markets, low wages and few opportunities. One option was emigration and a significant number who did so simply left the debt behind. Australia with its strict privacy laws vast landscape became an attractive hideout for those who sought to escape the debt slavery of the student loans scheme. Australia is home to approximately 7500 long term non payers owing about 450 million dollars of this debt. Worst of all was the continuous tinkering with the terms and conditions of this debt making it difficult to understand what was actually required. This confusion was exacerbated by the IRD deliberately providing misinformation to confuse and deceive borrowers in paying more that they were legally required to. The IRD is a powerful government agency in New Zealand and has on occasion enacted legislation taking force retroactively, one of the more infamous cases was the first student loan bankruptcy in the mid 1990’s where the borrower had filed for bankruptcy and been discharged after several years only to then be told the loan could not be bankrupted and the debt still stood. For almost 20 years the loans could not be bankrupted. Recent developments with contacting historical borrower appear to be a form of gaming borrowers and simply waiting until they have enough assets to chase despite ignoring them for many years. The statue of limitations on debt ( typically 7 years) does not apply to these loans either.
Recent changes to information sharing between the ATO and IRD ( NZ ‘s tax office) announced by Tony Abbott means that the ATO will be giving information to New Zealand regarding borrowers that are sought for payments. The Australian based hold outs have been getting some very large bills lately.
Recently however the NZ government relented and accepted that a NZ student loan was in fact bankrupt-able, this of course leads to the inevitable new wave of bankruptcies where the largest (and often only debt cited) was the NZ Student loan. So here we have Kristina Andersen, New Zealand based bankruptcy specialist explaining the situation in an interview with radio New Zealand.
But the New Zealand government has changed it’s mind before (retrospectively) to re-shackle a bankrupt with their student loan debt all over again. I’m sure many of the long term defaulters are watching this situation carefully so see if it a real remedy or whether it is just more ‘bait and switch’ policy in the student loan shell game. I guess that’s the reason why they called it the student loan scheme.
Scheme ( definition)
Yes the student loan scheme certainly turned out to be underhanded and completely impractical for borrowers.
The amusing fact is this, NZ student loan borrowers are actually advised to consider declaring bankruptcy right after graduation.
So that is the possible legacy of a completely deregulated education system with loans and debt as fuel for a massive debt and bankruptcy bomb the explode in the future.
Eventually one would hope the business model of putting students in to enormous debt with the intention of farming them over a lifetime will come to an end with the simple inability to pay converged with the fact that information is now almost completely free via the internet. The voucher of a university degree will simply lose its luster as a guarantee of a better middle class life. There is of course the real competition, open source, free market online style education.
It’s seems an anachronism that people would opt for 6 figure debt for information they could get for free. Perhaps the university degree will become a thing of the past, and future people will educate them selves in a lifelong process of continuous learning.
In a surprise move the beleaguered Prime minister of Australia announced his resignation today.
Tony Abbott released this statement to the press :
Its become clear to me my popularity is the lowest of any prime minister in Australian history. Modern democracy is really a fancy a popularity contest, and without the Murdoch press constantly spruiking and spinning every move I make, my position and lobbyist for various corporations and private interests is untenable. I have feathered my nest quite well in this time is politics but the game is up. It’s time to hand the mask to a new monster currently more palatable to the mindless masses we call the Australian public. I wish the next soulless opportunist to take on the captaincy all the best, as captain of this now sinking ship.
Self-reporting to authorities of suspected foreign bribery and corruption by Australian companies is failing to occur, with top accounting firm Deloitte revealing it has investigated at least 100 potentially illegal acts involving local firms in the past two years.
It is understood that only a handful of those companies have reported to police their suspicions that their own staff have engaged in foreign bribery or other criminal conduct.
The revelations are likely to strengthen calls from the federal police to reform Australia’s anti-bribery regime to encourage companies to disclose suspected corruption.
Deloitte senior partner Frank O’Toole said the upcoming Senate committee on foreign bribery by Australian companies should call for major changes to the nation’s anti-bribery laws.
His comments come with the release by Deloitte of a survey of more than 250 senior executives from top Australian and New Zealand companies and public sector organisations.
The survey, released exclusively to Fairfax Media, found that one-third of all companies operating in high-risk offshore destinations, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East, had uncovered a suspected bribery or corruption incident over the last five years.
Almost a quarter of all executives surveyed said their firm had, during that same period, confronted corruption involving a staff member or contractor inside Australia.
The Australian Federal Police recently told a Senate inquiry it had more than a dozen active foreign bribery investigations.
Mr O’Toole said another alarming finding from the Deloitte survey related to the failure of many firms to have an adequate anti-corruption regime to detect and prevent graft in their overseas operations.
Forty per cent of executives interviewed from firms with an offshore operation “don’t have (or don’t know if they have) a formal compliance program in place to manage corruption risk”.
“We haven’t seen any tangible decrease in levels of corruption in recent years, or any major shifts in attitudes towards it, especially in offshore jurisdictions,” Mr O’Toole said.
He said the findings highlighted the ongoing problems with the way Australia tackled white collar crime.
“We have heard a lot from the federal police about how they have ramped up their investigations of foreign bribery and that is no doubt true. But they are coming off a low base and there is still only two still unresolved prosecutions in the 15 years since foreign bribery laws were passed in Australia.”
The AFP is preparing to charge several executives and companies in the coming months with foreign bribery offences.
Senior federal police have previously called for companies to be given incentives to co-operate with authorities, including a commitment to have self-disclosure recognised during sentencing.
In the United States, which has one of the more successful anti-foreign bribery regimes in the world, disclosure by companies or whistleblowers is encouraged through a series of incentives.
These include financial rewards for tip-offs and negotiated settlements with companies that co-operate with investigators.
The Senate committee inquiry into foreign bribery will start later this year.
It was established after Labor senator Sam Dastyari told Parliament he had evidence that major Australian firms had engaged in corrupt practices overseas.
Mr Dastyari was also critical of the failure of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the AFP to effectively combat the problem.
Former federal court judge Roger Gyles, who was recently appointed by the Abbott government to review the nation’s terrorism laws and who also chairs the local branch of corruption watchdog Transparency International, recently told Fairfax Media that Australia’s foreign bribery laws needed to be overhauled.
Mr Gyles said the key change was moving the burden of proof from prosecutors to those who have been shown to have made payments to foreign officials.
If the company cannot show a payment is legitimate, then a case may be proven, he said.
OK I know what you are thinking, WTF is this about. After doing some legal research (which we do from time to time for the lols), we discovered that locomotives and railway rolling stock are not classed as vehicles according to the road safety act 1986, and therefore are completely unregulated. Insanely enough a bicycle is considered to be a vehicle or almost any thing else that moves. Kick a can down the road, its vehicle, but if it has railway wheels under it, they can’t touch it.
Vehiclemeans a conveyance that is designed to be propelled or drawn by any means, whether or not capable of being so propelled or drawn,and includes bicycle or other pedal-powered vehicle, trailer, tram-car and air-cushion vehicle butdoes not include railway locomotive or railway rolling stock;
So for all the people who don’t have a license we have the solution: Jet train.
Our resident engineers are furiously struggling to find way to steer the dam thing, and there is also that kind of annoying thing about the way it leaves massive grooves in the road, but we are sure than since speeding fines alone are a billion dollar per year industry, the market will find a way.
So lost your license due to speed, booze, pills, or what ever?
Want to escape the hassle of staying sober and obeying speed limits?
Getting tired of having to stop for flashing blue lights?
Tired of waiting at intersections?
Then jet train could be right for you!
Save money and time by avoiding fines and court cases!
Best of all its completely legal*.
*According to Victorian Road Safety Act 1986 a locomotive is not a vehicle and none of the act applies to it.
Legal and making sense are not the same thing obviously.
For those on a budget we are working on a small flat bed bogey with a pulse jet for forward motion.
I think this speaks to the housing affordability crisis that has artificially been created in Melbourne (and other Australian cities) by super funds speculating in real estate.
So enters Courtney Barnett to explain the situation with her unique style of silver tone guitar, incisive half sung/half spoken word lyrics. Then something really strikes you about this young woman, she actually seems authentic, apparently no make up, jeans and t shirt sensibility. She is almost a reaction to utterly plasticized corporate controlled music and pop culture of the last three decades.
But I guess you would have to be authentic to say, “Hey buying a house is going to be a hell of a struggle in Melbourne right now” rather than the oh so standard response of people just grinning and bearing it to keep up appearances. Thanks for singing about something that really resonates with a lot of people.
Courtney Barnett: More likely to meet Christopher Walken, than put a down payment on a flat in Brunswick.
ABC 4 corners investigation has uncovered the amoral gamification of government contracts purported to offer job seeker assistance.
This video may not be available after march 9 2015 so get in fast.
Forging and falsifying documents seemed to be industry standard practice.
Specific rorts uncovered were:
Categorizing people into more at risk categories in order to get more funding.
Claiming payments for assisting job seekers into work even when the job seeker was not assisted.
Funneling job seekers into in-house training courses order to claim a training payment, often the training was low quality, inappropriate or never actually provided.
What is more shocking was successive governments were aware of the widespread fraud and waste but did nothing to punish the fraudsters.
So a total of 18 billion dollars was spent on this program, conservative estimates are that about half was fraud by the contracted agencies.
18 billion dollars spent over a 16 year period is a lot of money, what else could be done with such a sum.
In November 1960 President Kennedy was elected and quite quickly promised to have a man on the moon before 1970.
In the period of 1961 and 1969, 34 billion dollars was spend on getting man on the moon.
So effectively we could have had half a moon landing for the price of the wacky ideologically driven ‘be mean to the battlers’ program.
So who is behind all of this, who else Tony Abbott,
Minister for employment when the program was announced,
under John Howard.
It really goes to show the circus politics descends into. The system is based on two things that you will see again and again;
1) it is based on violence
2) the rules don’t apply to the rulers and their puppets.
Look at how they behave. Honestly you can make this stuff up.
This is your ‘democracy’ in action.
Ryde mayor Bill Pickering has been knocked unconscious and taken to hospital after tensions erupted at a polling booth for a council byelection on Saturday.
Cr Pickering was handing out ham sandwiches at Putney Public School when he was allegedly confronted by independent candidate Vic Tagg, according to deputy mayor Roy Maggio, who witnessed the incident.
Cr Maggio described the punch as a “king hit” which caused Cr Pickering to fall backwards into a garden bed, at which point he began to have a seizure.
Voting was under way at the time for the East Ward byelection, which was triggered by the resignation in December of former mayor Ivan Petch, who was found by ICAC to have engaged in corrupt conduct.
It is understood Mr Tagg, who is a former mayor of Ryde and former-Liberal councillor, had been talking to voters at the booth and describing the Liberal party as “corrupt” before he allegedly approached Cr Pickering and punched him in the jaw.
Both Cr Pickering and Cr Maggio are members of the Liberal Party. Mr Tagg is currently the president of the Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Ryde-Hunters Hill Life Education. He unsuccessfully ran as an independent candidate for the East Ward in the 2012 Ryde City Council elections.
Independent candidate Vic Tagg.
Police and ambulance were called to the scene and Cr Pickering, 52, was taken to Ryde Hospital.
He is in a stable condition in hospital, where he has been put in a neckbrace and is awaiting the results of scans to determine the extent of his injuries, according to a person close to Cr Pickering who did not wish to be named.
Cr Pickering has also given a statement to police from his hospital bed.
Mr Tagg allegedly left the school after the incident and could not be contacted on Saturday afternoon.
Cr Maggio said a “sombre” mood descended on the polling booth after the incident, and that most of the other candidates left the site soon after.
Police are investigating the matter and ask anyone with information that has not already spoken to police to come forward.
Mr Petch, who was suspended by Local Government Minister Paul Toole, resigned in December after his Supreme Court challenge to the ICAC’s corruption findings failed.
The ICAC also recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions examine whether Mr Tagg should be pursued for breaches of campaign donation laws.
Lisa Visentin with Leesha McKenny