Tony, Don’t Drop the GST Free Import Threshold.

Kerrod Gream

Kerrod Gream makes the case not to reduce the GST Free Import Threshold in an obvious case of rent seeking from the retail industry.

Coming into Christmas and New Years there have been renewed calls from the retail industry to change GST Import Laws, which the industry itself acknowledges will hurt consumers. It’s been advocating a drop in the current GST free import threshold of $999.99. While many claim that Britain and Canada are examples of countries that show that low import thresholds on sales taxes are cost-effective ways of raising tax revenue that make the local retail industry more competitive, a lower threshold simply would not be feasible in Australia.

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Why the Renewable Energy Target Must Go

Kerrod GreamKerrod Gream argues that the RET is a serious problem in pushing up costs of electricity for every day Australians.

The Renewable Energy Target(RET) has long been a contentious issue. While environmental groups claim it is needed to ensure a safe, low-pollution future, others assert that it is worse than the carbon tax. Following the repeal of the carbon tax, the Liberal Government rightly put the RET in their sight, by introducing the Warburton review into the RET.

The RET debate has re-emerged in the media with Labor MP for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, making an ‘economic’ case for the RET. Leigh’s case is filled with elementary mistakes that he rarely made prior to entering parliament. In summary, his argument is that according to the Warburton Review the RET contributes to lower electricity prices. And these lower prices increases investments and create jobs, while also creating a cleaner environment.

While he claims to care about the environment, he ignores the impact the RET has on consumers and claims that it actually benefits them. Let’s look at what exactly the Warburton Review actually said: “The direct costs of renewable energy certificates contribute to higher retail electricity prices. This impact on household electricity bills is estimated to be in the range of four per cent in 2013-14 and higher for energy-intensive businesses.” The report states that, on average, in NSW the RET adds $107 onto a yearly electricity bill, and $65 and $62 in QLD and WA respectively. But that’s not all. If Mr Leigh had bothered to look at the generation costs of each energy type he would have realised that the ‘savings’ passed on consumers from the RET don’t exist either. Coal, gas, and nuclear are all by far the cheapest options for consumers(pg 56), and their power plants all have the ability to increase production in times of peak demand, unlike standard renewable energy resources(outside of hydro-electric). Mr Leigh however is only talking about solar, and wind generation sources and again completely ignores the possibility of nuclear as a clean and efficient method of producing electricity.

Enforcing renewables production pushes up costs of electricity production

Mr Leigh then goes onto state the amount of jobs that are ‘created’ through this legislation. Not only does this ignore the fact that there are unseen jobs that aren’t created in other sectors due to the higher cost of electricity to the consumer giving them less discretionary spending money; it also ignores the jobs that are created in other sectors of the electricity generation sector. The coal industry directly employs 54,900 people in Australia, with potential future projects generating up to 75,000 jobs for Australian workers. But Mr Leigh ignores this and claims that only the RET can deliver these jobs. Proponents also ignore the costs of implementing the bureaucracy required to implement the RET. As well as ignoring the unseen costs of loss of manufacturing and other businesses that feel the increased cost going offshore where these governmental costs aren’t incurred. 

He argues that future investment in renewables may not happen if the RET is scrapped. What does this tell a good economist(which Leigh was prior to entering parliament)? That it’s not economically viable in its current form without the government creating a mandate that people be forced to use it. But instead it’s lost investment potential to Mr Leigh, investment that would occur in other areas of the economy if they failed to occur in the renewable energy sector. But again, he continues to say the Liberal Government is attacking jobs and investment, while saying the only way for the renewable sector to operate in Australia is for everyone else to be forced to pay more for their electricity and harm every day Australians.

For people that claim to hate corporate welfare the Greens and Labor sure love giving it to the renewable energy sector, while ruling out the cheaper and cleaner alternative that is nuclear energy. Encouraging nuclear power into Australia’s energy mix could turn the 2,000 already employed in nuclear related industries into 37,000, while not forcibly increasing costs to the consumer and being able to survive without inefficient quick fire gas generators when peak demand increases substantially.

Rather than continuing to hamper our economy with these Renewable Energy Targets Mr Leigh should be advocating for their removal and open up the Australian market to more economically viable alternatives.

Legal Waivers for Take Home Food: Over Regulation has gone too far

Ross K-1Ross Katsambanis takes on the nanny state after receiving a waiver to take home food:

On the 27th of December 2014 my family and I descended upon Hellenic Republic in Brunswick to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Given the season, plenty of food had been consumed by everyone in the last couple of days, so plenty of meat from the banquet was leftover.

I politely asked the waitress if I could have some of the meat and dips packaged up to take home, her response shocked me. The young lady stated that I could do so, however I had to sign a waiver declaring that I accept all responsibility if I suffer any illness from the food I asked to be packaged. When I quizzed the young lady on why I had to sign this document she indicated that it was because of City of Moreland regulation. I nearly choked on my succulent slow cooked lamb as I heard this information.

This is yet another case of the nanny state and continuous over regulation from government and regulatory bodies. It is in fact mind-boggling at times how these laws are passed through. I couldn’t even take some lamb home and reheat without signing a ludicrous waiver. A friend ate recently at the Kew equivalent of Hellenic Republic, governed locally by the City of Boroondara, where no such waivers had to be signed for ‘doggy-bags’. Ironically, this person did not bring upon himself food poisoning.

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“National” Union of Students: A National Disgrace


University of Western Australia Student Rebecca Lawrence discusses how the Australian National Union of Students fails students – and is in the process of destroying itself:

I have always been outspoken about my views on the National Union of Students. The organisation is neither national nor united, and certainly doesn’t represent the best interests of students. It is no secret that I, along with most ordinary students in this country, believe that university student unionists have no right pay tens of thousands of other students’ dollars to the NUS every year in affiliation fees, much less pay for their own flights and accommodation on junkets several times a year. Yet, year after year, our voices go seemingly unheard and the NUS marches forward, as deaf to the concerns of ordinary students as ever, just as lefty-charged and anti-democracy as its predecessor was until the day it died (the Australian Union of Students, which dissolved under the leadership of 1983 President Julia Gillard due to uncontrollable levels of debt, disunity and corruption).

Or does it? Despite what one would expect from a NATIONAL Union of Students, the NUS only managed to achieve an affiliation rate of around 50% this year – of Australia’s 39 universities, only 20 affiliated to NUS in 2014 (not one university in Queensland affiliated). As the NUS’ income is almost solely dependent upon the money it collects in affiliation fees, this meant that the Union racked up a deficit of over $95,000 over the last 12 months. A leaked audit shows that the deficit over the last three years amounted to $366,360. Unsurprising as this is (the Union is run by Labor students), this fact should come as a grave concern to all students, who are forced to pay for the NUS’ spending through their compulsory student union fees (the Student Services and Amenities Fee, or SSAF – around $280 per year, per student). Continue reading

U.S. Democratic Primaries: Your Guide to Dinner Party Conversation

It is a law of nature that any gathering of two or more politically active people in Australia will invariably turn to US politics and, irrespective of where we are in the political season, Presidential Primaries, so being conversant with what is going on is essential to all politicos.

But what if you want to hold your way in conversation, but don’t want to dedicate your life to researching every single little detail? What should you do when the question comes up?

The correct answer would be to say: “It’s way too early, are you insane for asking me this question?”

However, that doesn’t really cut it. What you need to do is have opinions – and strong ones at that. Even better is to have opinions that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy.

That’s why, once again, created the following crib notes guide to the US Primaries (starting with the Democrats), so you can confidentaly express an opinion, without knowing any of the facts.

Because really, this is politics, and who needs facts when you have a strong opinion? Continue reading

FACTCHECK: Has the Federal Government Cut Spending?


Is the Federal Government Really Cutting Spending? Tim Andrews from the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance looks at the numbers:

Almost every day we hear shrieks in the media about how the Federal Government is drastically slashing spending.

Even the Federal Government uses the rhetoric of cutting spending and “budget repair”.

But is this actually true?

Is the government cutting spending?

Make no mistake – our public spending levels are out of control, and things are only going to get worse as debt piles up, and our aging population puts increased costs on health and welfare.

Our economy is already being held back by big government. So spending cuts are desperately needed.

So is the Federal Government actually making them?

Because unlike politicians, the numbers don’t lie: Continue reading

5 Lessons from the Sydney Tragedy

1003914_567133449990733_506421512_nViral-video sensation Topher Field sets out his thoughts on the recent tragedy:

I believe there are 5 clear lessons from the Sydney Lindt store attack.

1. Live and love every day. This is the latest in a string of tragic events around Australia that remind us how uncertain life is and how precious it is. Live every day to the full, love completely and without reservation, and never part from your loved ones in anger if there is any way to avoid it.

2. The police cannot protect you. The police WANT to protect you, they will do everything they CAN to protect you, but the reality is they can’t. It’s just simple physics. They can’t be everywhere, and attackers (be they terror motivated, or just common criminals) will pick places and times when their victims are vulnerable. All the laws in the world would not have stopped this attack. And once again we see someone with a long and violent criminal history being released by our court system to strike again. It’s a story we’ve seen repeated far FAR too many times over in this country. In short, if you believe you are safe because of the police, our courts, or our laws, then the truth is you are not safe, you’ve just been lucky so far.

3. It’s true that VERY few Muslims will ever commit an act of terror, and the vast majority would work to STOP such an attack if they could… yet it’s ALSO true that the vast majority of terrorists today self-identify as Muslims (Whether rightly or wrongly is mostly irrelevant). We need to acknowledge that and deal with that reality, not wish it away because it is confronting and politically incorrect. The Muslim community needs to find ways to identify and stop these sorts of people before they strike, for the sake of their reputation and acceptance within Australian society, and for the sake of all Australians.

4. It’s not a surprise to see it happening so close to home, and judging by other western cities around the world it could get a lot worse before it gets better. Terror attacks (by which I mean random attacks designed to make a political point or score religious brownie points, rather than criminal attacks which are targeted and designed to personally benefit the criminal) have become frequent in Europe and most go unreported over here. Anyone saying ‘I can’t believe it happened here’ hasn’t been paying attention, or has been lying to themselves for the last few years. This is not the last time it will happen in Australia

5. This attack re-enforces my view that we need to be able to defend ourselves at an individual level. Terror attacks have morphed. They have become individual, lone wolf, strike anywhere at any time attacks. In many ways they make no sense and it’s hard or impossible for police or ASIO to anticipate the where, when or who of these attacks. In other words, they can’t really be stopped in advance, only dealt with once they are underway. And the best person to deal with an attacker is one of the intended victims. We all saw the pictures coming out of Sydney. The police were there in their hundreds, the best people we have were on the scene with the most advanced weapons money can buy, and all they could do was stand outside and hope. All those guns in all those highly trained hands were worth less than a single gun in the hands of one of the staff or one of the shoppers would have been. The ability to INDIVIDUALLY defend ourselves has once again become necessary. Less than 20 years ago Australia issued permits for people to carry firearms on themselves as they went about their daily lives for their own protection and the protection of everyone around them. It’s time to re-introduce such a system. We can see clearly that criminals can get guns, even people with a long criminal history (or should we say ‘especially people with a long criminal history’) can get them easily enough. And when someone attacks us the first thing we do is call for help from people with guns (the police) who, as we’ve seen, can’t always help us. So the only people who have been disarmed by anti-gun laws are the victims themselves, which are the very people who most need them and the people who are best placed to use them. It’s long past time to re-introduce sensible personal gun ownership into Australia.

Some people will hate me for saying the above, and so be it. I’ve said EVERY SINGLE ONE of the above 5 points numerous times before, and I’ll keep saying them for as long as it takes to see some common sense in our laws and in our responses to those who would do us harm.

The following is reproduced from a Facebook post with permission. You can follow Topher Field on Facebook HERE.

#Illridewithyou Shows Solidarity to Racist Straw Man

10155850_10154935100595096_437419834123704628_nSai Chiang argues the #illridewithyou campaign is inherently problematic:

A major Twitter campaign began trending on the afternoon of the Sydney Lindt Café siege which left two innocent civilians dead: #illridewithyou.

The hashtag encouraged people to protect Muslims from racist Australians by offering to ride with them on buses, trains and cars. This ostensibly heart-warming gesture came as a result of one twitter user, Tessa Kum becoming saddened when she saw a Muslim woman considering to remove her veil inside the train on the day of the siege.

However for the less media-savvy, one would reasonably presume that this is a response to some kind of widespread anti-Muslim attack in our city. As Bill Shorten wrote on Twitter, “Australians tonight doing what we do best – uniting to overcome intolerance and hate.” What hate? What intolerance? There was certainly hate and intolerance, but it was happening inside a café and not a train carriage. Another Facebook user wrote, “Come on Australia, we’re better than this – #illridewithyou.” Better than what exactly?

The left has successfully managed to turn the greatest evil of the day, the evils of Islamic terrorism to the evils of racism. But where are all these evil racists? Let’s find out.

In the morning following the tragedy, I witnessed first hand the love of real ordinary Australians as I along with hundreds of others brought flowers to pay respect to the dead and to take the opportunity to thank the police for everything they have done. The sea of flowers left by hundreds of mourners was a most moving scene and it brought tears to the toughest of men. In my short visit, I saw among the hundreds gathered a number of Muslim women wearing their religious headscarf. They showed no fear of the fabled angry mob, and two even thought that it was safe enough to bring their children along! There was no animosity, no angry look from anybody and no racist attack. Continue reading

Sydney Seige

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the hostages and police involved in this morning’s siege in Sydney.

Gunmen have taken hostages in the Lindt chocolate shop in Martin place, and a jihadist flag has been held up against the window.

UPDATE: Like all Australians, we are devastated by the tragic end to the events in Martin Place and the loss of innocent life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone and their families. A truly tragic day.


Giving Away Our Soverignty

Terje Petersen argues that immigrants to Australia shouldn’t be let in for free but should instead pay an immigration tariff of $25,147 each:

There are many reasoned arguments as to why immigration is good for the economy and good for the country. Some estimate that global GDP could be increased by 50 to 150% if completely open immigration was implemented globally. Without wishing to dismiss such arguments there is however a sense in which letting foreigners into the country is akin to giving away our sovereignty. Let me explain.

Australia is a vast nation with lots of land. For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to assume that large tracts of it are currently worth next to nothing. For example if a million illegal immigrants secretly arrived tomorrow, secretly set up camp in the Simpson desert and then secretly did their own thing there for the next 50 years or so, it is not as if we would feel deprived of the land they occupied. The reality is that we are not using lots of our land.

Some of our land however is extremely valuable and this tends to be land in cities where there is a high amount of established public infrastructure. Libertarians will at times argue that some of this public infrastructure should be privatised or even given away to Australian citizens. However they would not generally argue that ownership of this infrastructure should be given as a gift to foreigners. Given that public infrastructure is essentially owned by the Australia people, via our sovereign government, any admission of additional new Australians represents a dilution of our equity in this stock of public infrastructure. Of course in such a vast land we have the capacity to build new cities with additional public infrastructure but none the less any admission of new Australians represents a dilution of our equity in the current stock.

The stock of public infrastructure in Australia is worth in the order of $600 billion. With a population of 23.7 million this equates to a per capita value for public infrastructure of $25,147. At the margin this is the amount by which our equity in public infrastructure is diluted each time an immigrant is admitted into the country.

This dilution of equity does not occur with private infrastructure , such as housing, because private infrastructure is not owned collectively by all Australians. It is owned individually and privately. An immigrant that moves to Australia may get to use the same footpath you use but they don’t get to use part of your house. The footpath will become more crowded but your house won’t. Continue reading