Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Foreign property buyers in Australia face sweeping crackdown

This will no doubt be popular but it is a very foolish attack on foreign investment from China.  The Chinese can't pick up the property and take it away so why not accept their money?  It's only the top end of the real estate market that will be affected anyway so it is only the rich who will benefit from lower prices -- and they can look after themselves

Tony Abbott has unveiled a sweeping crackdown on foreign property buyers, including fees to acquire real estate and tough new civil and criminal penalties for investors who knowingly break the rules.

Real estate agents and others who assist in breaches of the laws, to apply from December 1, will for the first time face fines, while large-scale agricultural and business acquisitions will be hit with fees as high as $100,000.

The Prime Minister has pledged to enforce the new arrangements, with penalties of three years’ jail and fines of $127,500 for individuals and $637,500 for companies.

Foreigners will also be prevented from making a profit on the forced sale of illegally purchased properties and be hit with penalties of 10 per cent of the purchase price.

Temporary residents who break the rules will face fines of about 25 per cent. Third parties who wrongly assist foreign investors will face fines of up to $42,500 for individuals and $212,500 for companies.

The tax office will be given responsibility for enforcing the new foreign investment rules on residential real estate and will use its data-matching systems to catch out wrongdoers.

A doubling in overseas investment in residential real estate to $34 billion from 2012-13 to 2013-14 has sparked parliamentary inquiries, amid claims of heavy buying in some suburbs by Asian investors.

Mr Abbott is framing today’s announcement as part of a drive to reduce the upward pressure on housing prices.

“Part of the Australian dream is to own your own home and I want that dream to continue,” the Prime Minister said.

“I know from personal experience how tough it is to get into the housing market. I’m determined to crack down on any illegal ­activity that could be putting upward pressure on property prices. We want the rules enforced and we want Australians to be operating on a level playing field.”

From December 1, a $5000 fee will apply to foreign investment in residential properties valued at $1m or less.

According to the Foreign ­Investment Review Board annual report for 2013-14, the average price for residential properties valued at less than $1m and purchased by foreign interests was about $550,000.

The $5000 fee will increase ­prices by nearly 1 per cent and would have delivered a yield of close to $100m alone in 2013-14.

Properties worth more than $1m will incur a larger $10,000 fee and attract a further $10,000 fee for every additional million in value after that.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said foreign investment was very important and Australia remained open for business.

‘We also understand that it is very important that the public can have confidence that the foreign investment coming into Australia is not contrary to our national interest, which is why we do have to have a framework in place that applies proper scrutiny,’ he told Sky News.

The move is likely to draw strong criticism from many quarters. Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison recently warned against the imposition of “unwarranted big new fees”.

He said foreign investment helped to expand housing supply and was putting downward pressure on prices.

Mr Morrison said Treasury ­estimates on foreign investment in off-the-plan residential developments showed 65 per cent of units in major apartment complexes were usually bought by Australians while only 35 per cent went to foreigners.

Mr Abbott said the changes were not aimed at stopping overseas investment. “Foreign investment has been very, very good for Australia but it’s got to be the right foreign investment under the right circumstances, properly policed and it can’t disadvantage Australian home buyers,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals have clinched a victory with a new $55m threshold for scrutiny of agriculture investments to apply not just to primary production but to a wider range of agribusinesses such as seafood, meat, diary, fruit and vegetable processors.

However, the threshold will remain at just under $1.1bn for private investment from the US, New Zealand and Chile.

Investment in agribusinesses will be more exposed with investors being hit with a $25,000 fee if their investment meets the lower FIRB screening threshold of $55m. They too will also face a $100,000 impost if the value of the transaction is greater than $1bn as was the case with the unsuccessful bid for GrainCorp from US company Archer Daniels Midland in 2013.

Agricultural land valued at more than $1m will attract a $10,000 fee and a further $10,000 fee for every additional million in value after that.

The additional costs will be capped at $100,000. Fees of $25,000 will apply to acquisitions in “sensitive” sectors including telecommunications, transport, defence and media if they meet the FIRB screening threshold of $252m. The fee will rise to $100,000 if the transaction is greater than $1bn.

The screening threshold for non-sensitive business acquisitions applying to free trade partner countries will remain at its current level of $1.1bn, although the same fees will apply.

Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones said the government was declaring Australia open for business and in the next breath saying ‘but let’s check your passport’.

‘We will have differential arrangements for different countries. The government needs to send clear messages about foreign investment. We think it’s important,’ he told Sky.


Rogue union on the side of the Warmists

Collusion between two lots of crooks.  ETU members get to install a lot of the "sustainable" crap

Thousands of Australian jobs in the renewable energy sector are at risk due to the ongoing failure of the Federal Government to adopt a reasonable renewable energy target, Electrical Trades Union assistant national secretary David Mier has warned.

“The Abbott Government has already destroyed jobs, trashed Australia’s renewable energy sector, destabilised the industry and damaged its international reputation with its ideological crusade against renewable energy,” Mr Mier said.

“It is time for the Federal Government to pull its finger out and come to the negotiating table on this vitally important matter, before further damage is done.

 “We’ve waited for well over 12 months for Abbott and co to get it together on renewable energy, and they’re still quibbling over a matter of 1000 gigawatt-hours. In the interests of industry, workers and the country, they need to make a deal.”

Mr Mier said that the Labor Opposition had led the way on the target, maintaining their pre-election promise of a decent renewable energy target and working with industry to form a plan for the future.

“This morning on ABC radio we saw Mr Shorten indicate the ALP was willing to consider accepting 33000 gigawatt-hours if that’s what it takes to resolve the impasse, 500 less than what was offered for bi-partisan support last month,” he said.

“Labor’s offer to take a bipartisan approach to the renewable energy target, in line with the recommendations of the industry, puts the ball firmly in the Federal Government’s court.

“The Government can’t blame the Senate cross-bench for causing uncertainty, because there is now a clear offer on the table that could pass through the parliament that also  comes with industry backing.”

Mr Mier said that it was vital for Australia to adopt a progressive and ambitious renewable energy target, in order to take its place among the world’s leaders in the sector.

“Let me be clear –the original RET target was appropriate and it has only been the Government’s intransigence and incompetence that has led to this point. We need to forge ahead on this issue,” he said.

“A deal needs to be done, and it needs to be done now. But then it needs to be improved on, and quickly. “Our jobs, our businesses, and our nation’s energy future depends on it.”

Press release

Why turn drug smugglers into heroes for our kids?

THE nauseating canonisation of executed convicted heroin smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran was well under way before their corpses had been returned to their families.

At Castle Hill High, the words “merciless”, “barbaric”, “futile” and “weak” were plastered on the noticeboard on Wednesday by principal Vicki Brewer after students ­expressed horror at the executions of Chan and Sukumaran, and six others in Indonesia.

“I think it’s affecting students and staff, they’ve been chilled by it, haunted by it and there’s been certainly a good deal of reflection and discussion about the ethical and moral dilemmas this has caused,” she told the Hills Shire Times.

According to Ms Brewer, “a number of students felt like they had a relationship with the young men because they had seen them on TV and seen their parents and families”.

“Because they had developed this relationship their death was so much more poignant and a number of ­students said to me the way they died — tied to a stake and shot — was especially draconian.”

Judging by the responses on social media, a lot of locals would prefer Ms Brewer to concentrate on teaching the basics — reading, writing and arithmetic — rather than ­dabble in social engineering or encourage youngsters to think they are engaged in ­relationships with drug ­smugglers.

Keith thought that: “through this comment the school is promoting these two criminals as ‘heroes’. Gosh, wonder how many students in this school will engage in drug dealing over the next 10 years to emulate their ‘heroes’. Also, is it appropriate for the school to demean Indonesia in the public arena? Rightly or wrongly, these two criminals were caught organising drug trafficking in a country which has legitimately warned about the consequences for drug trafficking.”

Mel17 was of the same mind, saying: “The thoughts of a bleeding heart principal should not be shoved down the throats of an entire school population. Different people have different opinions on this matter and I’m sick of teachers forcing their opinions on this and a whole variety of issues onto their students. Stick to the curriculum and that’s it.”

Jo56 agreed, saying “schools should teach, not indoctrinate. The idea that the students had a relationship with the two executed is laughable. It’s the same as the kids’ ‘relationship’ with celebrities. Non-existent and only in their heads ...”

But the puerile fantasies of a suburban high school teacher were just an indication of what the education sector has become.

Vice-Chancellor Greg Craven of the Australian Catholic University announced that two full tuition scholarships (equivalent to up to four years fees) would be set up for international students from Indonesia in the criminals’ names.

Candidates would be required to submit an essay on the theme of the sanctity of human life.

Going by their public comments, the two dead smack peddlers would not have made the cut.

Chan and Sukumaran — who were attempting to smuggle 8.3kg of heroin, ­valued at around $4 million, into Australia — were professionals who themselves showed zero regard for the sanctity of human life.

It was Chan’s third run, one successful, one aborted, and, bingo, total failure.  Sukumaran was more unlucky. It was his first attempt to make a big score.

In 2010 Chan told SBS that he hadn’t given a thought about the consequences of his actions — it was all about the cold, hard cash.

“I don’t think I was really going anywhere in life. I don’t think, you know, I was achieving too much, even though I had a stable job and all. Yes, I don’t think I was really heading anywhere, to be honest, you know, I’ve used drugs myself. I was a drug user.

“You know, I know what it feels like to — to be, you know, one of them junkies walking on the street I guess ... You don’t think too much about. I didn’t anyway.

“You know, most people think yeah, you would, but I didn’t. It wasn’t — more or less for me it was just a quick payday, that’s it. Just think to yourself, quick payday, that’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.”

A quick payday, that’s it.  Sukumaran was just as greedy. He told SBS that he, too, was in it for the cash.

After being approached by a university friend who took him for a lavish dinner, he was sucked in by pure greed.

“It was kind of funny to me, like, they pay for dinner and the nightclub afterwards and stuff like that, so I was like ‘Yeah’ ... it’s just the lifestyle, all the people that were living, you know, you want to be like those people, get the girls like those people, and I was hoping to buy a car, hoping to start a business.

“Those are the sort of the things like I didn’t see, like, myself working in the mail room for the next 50 years of my life. I thought, ‘no, I can’t do this’, then you see all these people like in night clubs with nice BMWs and nice Mercedes and there’s always chicks there, and they was buying drinks for everyone and you think, ‘f ..., how do you do this on a mailroom salary’?”

Had Chan and Sukumaran succeeded, they would doubtless have been smugly driving around in Ferraris or Porsches and thinking what a great life it was bringing drugs into Australia to sell to vulnerable kids. Perhaps Ms Brewer’s pupils.

Then, of course, there would have been no thought (or need) for either to look to religion or the arts to bring meaning to their lives.

It’s simply naive to venerate them like a couple of Mother Teresas for finding Christianity — as Fairfax writer Michael Bachelard wrote under the headline “Myuran Sukumaran: the good man I got to know” — for redemption. There ain’t a convict anywhere who doesn’t, once incarcerated, find God or some means of showing that he’s given up his bad old ways and become a good guy.

As detestable as the Indonesian government’s handling of the execution process has been, there are two points which are indisputable.

The first is that Indonesia is a sovereign nation with extremely well-publicised penalties, including execution, for drug offences.

The second is that this pair were guilty.

As usual, a moronic band of brainless entertainers made absolute fools of themselves with a four-and-a-half-minute expose of their ignorance on the eve of the execution in a video (no longer linked through Fairfax but still on the web) titled Save Our Boys, Mr Abbott.

A parade of faces someone might recognise read scripted lines calling for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fly to Indonesia, to get tough (presumably with Indonesia), and to apply sanctions (again, presumably against Indonesia) — as if Australians were so exceptional that they were to be exempted from the penalties that apply to breaking laws abroad.

Immediately after the executions were carried out, the Labor Party attempted to politicise the matter with absurdly false claims about directions to the Australian Federal Police.

Victorian judge Lex Lasry called for a group of eminent persons to lobby governments in countries such as Indonesia and the US to persuade them to end their use of the death penalty.

It is estimated that China executes thousands every year, the numbers in Iran run into the hundreds, Iraq is believed to have executed more than 160 last year, Saudi Arabia 79, North Korea 70 and the US 39. Justice Lasry should take his campaign to Beijing.

If Australia’s empathetic headmistresses and pseudo-celebrities want the Indonesians to stop executing young Australians, they should start by getting young Australians to stop taking drugs.


Islamic State: Medical Board of Australia takes action over doctor Tareq Kamleh's decision to join militant group

The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) is investigating West Australian doctor Tareq Kamleh, after he appeared in a propaganda video for the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group urging other medical professionals to join him in Syria.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) took the unusual step of releasing a statement late on Friday confirming the MBA had taken regulatory action in relation to Dr Kamleh's medical registration.

In the statement, the AHPRA said it would continue to liaise with the Australian Federal Police in relation to the issue.

The medical regulator also warned other health workers considering travelling to IS-controlled areas that it is an offence to enter a declared area, and that doing so could have a direct and immediate impact on their registration in Australia.

In a video posted last week promoting an IS health service, Dr Kamleh identified himself as Abu Yusuf and called on other medical professionals to join him in Syria.

Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au
Dr Kamleh's decision to join the terrorist group has drawn widespread condemnation from politicians and his former colleagues, who said they were appalled and horrified by his actions.

The 29-year-old graduated from Adelaide University with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 2010 and has worked at hospitals around the country including in Mackay, Adelaide and Alice Springs.

He is the first known Australian health worker to travel to the Middle East to join IS.

The AHPRA said it felt the need to confirm the investigation to uphold professional standards and maintain public confidence in the regulated health industry.

"We protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered, it said.

"To protect the integrity of its ongoing work, and the efforts of other authorities, no further comment can be made at this time."

Under section 119.2 of the Criminal Code, a person who enters or remains in a declared area without a legitimate purpose faces a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.


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