Thursday, June 18, 2015


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is appalled by revelations about Shorten the union leader selling out his own  members.

"New Matilda's" idea of survey research

I am probably one of the very few who take any notice of Matilda but they are so determined to come to their foreordained conclusions that I find them amusing.

I find the latest effusion particularly amusing because I spent 20 years as a university survey researcher -- resulting in many academic publications.  So I am quite sure how the sleight of hand below works.

What they do is to compare a properly conducted survey with responses gathered over the internet.  And they found a great divergence of results.  But such comparisons always do diverge.  People contacted over the internet are not representative.  They differ from the mean in being better educated, more socially isolated, more Leftist and in various other ways.  As far as generalizing to any known population is concerned they are invalid and useless.  It takes Matilda to hang their hat on such a survey

A survey distributed on social media has recorded dramatically different results to those released by the government-funded group, finding stronger support for constitution reform among white Australia than black. Amy McQuire reports.

Only 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the “grassroots” Recognise group, and a majority would vote no in a referendum if it delivered only symbolic recognition, according to a new poll that pours cold water on the Recognise’s claim that nine out of ten blackfellas support their campaign.

In May, the government-funded Recognise group released research suggesting nine in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people supported constitutional recognition.

The polling was conducted by Polity Research, which surveyed 750 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and 2700 non-Indigenous voters, according to Recognise.

Recognise said the “research confirms continuing support for recognition from the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”.

The group released its media statement without detail of the question that was posed to interviewees, or where it had retrieved its sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voters.

But the claim of overwhelming Indigenous support is one that was controversial among many who believe the issue is being met with a much more diverse sample of opinions in Aboriginal communities.

While conservative opposition to constitutional reform has been highly publicised, the concerns from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has been largely overshadowed by the Recognise campaign’s claims of almost unanimous support.

In February, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples acknowledged that there was a growing opposition to constitutional reform from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with co-chair Les Malezer saying “we are already receiving messages from our people that they are determined to vote against any referendum”.

This opposition is confirmed by an online survey conducted by Luke Pearson at IndigenousX, a social media platform across Twitter and Facebook, who released the results last night.

The survey drew responses from 827 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country, with the majority of responses coming from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The poll, conducted on Survey Monkey, was widely shared across Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which has high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users.

The survey acknowledges that, like the Recognise polling, the sample size was “still quite small”.

“Questions regarding the distribution of data collected by Recognise should be similarly asked and caution must always be exercised when claiming that a survey is ‘representative’,” the group says.

But the IndigenousX poll produces radically different results to those promoted by the Recognise campaign.

It found that rather than Recognise’s stated 87 per cent Indigenous support, only 25 per cent of IndigenousX respondents supported the group. 58 per cent were in opposition, while a further 17 per cent were still unsure.


The rich are the savers

And it is savings that allow investment.  Without a pile of savings under their control, the banks would have nothing to lend.  Economic progress and increased overall wealth depend therefore almost entirely on the rich.  Taxing them dry would stop all borrowing stone dead.  So no new houses, builders out of work etc. The rich are a vital asset

At least three studies into wealth distribution landed this week, all offering varied takes but inevitably painting an overall picture of a world in which the divide between the haves and have-nots is widening at an increasing pace.

Australia, Canada and Sweden are important exceptions to a middle-class squeeze being experienced in many advanced economies, the IMF declared.

This widespread crunch which Australia has conspicuously avoided is the result of a shift in the allocation of income to the higher and lower rankings, reducing the portion going to the middle 20 per cent in these advanced economies, as well as some large emerging markets.

Pre-tax incomes of middle-class households in the US, the UK and Japan have experienced declining or stagnant growth rates in recent years, reducing the predominant source of income for the majority of households.

Average wages have risen at a slower pace than productivity growth, even as advances such as large increases in executive compensation go to the top end of the income distribution.

But lest we get complacent in Australia, separate research reveals a yawning chasm in household savings that far outstrips disparity in incomes.

The wealthiest fifth of Australian households hold more than 200 times the average savings of the poorest fifth, according to an examination of levels and distribution of savings and debt by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

The number of millionaire households has more than doubled in the last ten years. So now, the wealthiest fifth of Australians have on average $1.3 million and account for three-quarters of all household savings, while the poorest fifth have saved on average less than $6,000.

“The top quintile may receive one-third of all income but they own three-quarters of the total value of savings,” BCEC director Professor Alan Duncan said.

This reveals a gulf between the top and the bottom much bigger than seen by looking at income alone.

Superannuation and cash saved in financial institutions are the main form of savings for Australians, with the median saver sitting on household savings of around $100,000.

Millionaire households, while only accounting for 8 per cent of all households, hold more than half of all savings.

Superannuation and cash deposited in financial institutions are the main forms of savings for most Australians, representing two-thirds of average household savings.


China and Australia formally sign free trade agreement

China and Australia have signed a trade agreement that is set to increase market access for Australian beef and wine exporters while boosting Chinese carmakers and electronics producers who wish to sell their goods to Australians.

But as ministers from both countries promoted the benefits for industries and consumers, the Australian Labor party and the Greens vowed to scrutinise the yet-to-be-released details to ensure it was a good deal.

One flashpoint is the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which grants foreign companies the right to sue governments for breaching commitments in such agreements. The Australian union movement has also raised concerns about the access to be granted to Chinese citizens under labour market provisions.

Both governments concluded negotiations on the free trade agreement (FTA) in 2014, but it was formally signed in Canberra on Wednesday by Australia’s trade minister, Andrew Robb, and China’s commerce minister, Gao Hucheng.

Gao said it was a “comprehensive, high-quality and balanced agreement” that was a milestone in relations between Australia and China. “It is the highest degree of liberalisation of all the FTAs China has so far signed with any economy,” he said.

The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, said the agreement would give each nation “unprecedented access to each other’s markets” and pointed to the reduction in tariffs imposed on trade.

“It removes barriers to Australian agricultural exports across a range of products, including beef, dairy, lamb, wine, horticulture and seafood,” he said.

“It means duty-free entry for 99.9% of our resources, energy and manufacturing exports within four years. But it’s about so much more than just exporting more and reducing tariffs. Australian services providers, financial, education, health and aged care will have new access to China’s services sector, a sector that is already the largest contributor to China’s GDP and is set to drive economic growth in coming years.

“For China, this agreement liberalises the screening threshold for Chinese private sector investment in Australia and it puts Chinese businesses in the same position as those of our other major trading partners. And of course it means that Australian consumers will pay less for cars, for clothes, for electronics and other goods imported from China.”

The full text of the agreement will be subject to an inquiry by parliament’s joint standing committee on treaties, paving the way for parliament to consider amendments to relevant legislation.

Labor’s Senate leader and trade spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said the party would assess the deal against the test of whether it would increase jobs and economic growth. Labor would look closely at the effect on the Australian labour market.

“Labor supports temporary skilled migration to fix skill shortages. That scheme should never be used as a mechanism to bypass local workers and we will certainly be looking at the detail of that,” Wong said.

“And, as I’ve said previously, Labor does not support investor-state dispute settlement clauses in agreements.”

The Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said: “Regardless of the supposed marginal economic benefits, the Greens will never support an agreement that makes future governments liable to be sued by foreign corporations simply for making laws that protect the public interest.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) raised concerns that the deal would “make it much easier for employers to bring in Chinese workers without having to advertise jobs to local workers”.

The ACTU’s president, Ged Kearney, said the government appeared “intent on selling out even more local jobs”.

“There must be strong rules around labour market testing and labour mobility clauses in the China free trade deal to ensure local jobs are protected,” she said.

The Electrical Trades Union went further, describing the FTA as “an irreversibly reckless move”.

But the Business Council of Australia’s president, Catherine Livingstone, said the agreement would unlock significant opportunities for two-way trade and “deliver lasting benefits for the whole community”.

The Australian Industry Group’s chief executive, Innes Willox, said industry had long viewed the agreement with Australia’s largest trading partner “with a mixture of optimism and trepidation”.

“As with all trade agreements, the process would have benefited from deeper consultation and a better understanding of the opportunities and the threats before signing,” he said.


Firearms Prohibition Orders

One worrying trend in Australia is toward orders prohibiting individuals from possessing firearms. ‘Firearms Prohibition Orders’ (‘FPOs) are the means by which this is achieved in NSW and SA, and in April 2013 the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, urged other states to adopt the South Australian model. So, if you live in a state not currently affected by FPOs - watch out!

Strictly speaking there is nothing new about FPOs, in that they existed under the NSW Firearms & Dangerous Weapons Act 1973.  What is new are recent ‘bells and whistles’ that have seen Police powers of search increased in respect to people who are subject to them.

This increase in powers in NSW occurred against the backdrop of a gang war between rival groups in Southwest Sydney.  The gangs were shooting against one another and, even when someone was the victim, they refused to talk to Police, leaving the crime unsolved and Police looking impotent.

An FPO may be ordered by a delegate of the Police Commissioner, who may be any serving officer above inspector level, even in the absence of a conviction, providing that they are satisfied the subject of the order is ‘not fit, in the public interest to have possession of a firearm’.  In NSW, the power is to be found in section 73 of the Firearms Act 1996.

It comes into effect upon issue, but a person cannot contravene it until the order has been personally served upon them.

A person who is subject to an FPO cannot acquire possess or use a firearm or firearms part.  Penalties on conviction are a maximum of 14 years for a pistol or prohibited weapon or five years in any other case.

Possession of ammunition attracts a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.

If they attend a firearms dealers premises, shooting range or club without reasonable excuse, they may be subject to a fine of up to fifty penalty units (a penalty unit is $110) or 12 months imprisonment.

Worryingly, section 74A of the Act, provides Police with the power to search or detain a person who is subject to an order, enter their premises, or stop a vehicle occupied or controlled by them, and conduct a search for firearms, firearms parts or ammunition.

Therefore, if an order is made against you, it is very important that you appeal it within the time period stated on the document.

The Act provides a limited mechanism for review.  This is initially via internal review and then, if the outcome of that is not satisfactory, it may be reviewed under s60 Administrative Decisions Review Act.

Section 75(1A) of the Act, prevents a person who would be refused a Firearms Licence under section 11(5) or 23(9) of the Act, from applying for external review.  Thus, if you are under 18 years of age, subject to an AVO, a good behavior bond, or have been convicted of a prescribed offence (i.e. one involving drugs, violence, fraud or stealing) within the last ten years, you cannot appeal to the Tribunal.

Ah, I hear you say, FPOs only apply to bad guys, so why should I care?

I was recently consulted by a gentleman who became subject of an FPO 34 years ago, following a failure to produce an Inquiry Agents Licence on demand and possession of a loaded firearm in a public place.

There was nothing sinister about the loaded firearm, it had inadvertently been left loaded in the boot after a hunt.

He was charged with these offences and a fine of $200 recorded.

That the matters were dealt with in a Local Court, and the presence of non-custodial penalties, would suggest that the offences were not considered particularly serious by Police Prosecutors or the presiding Magistrate.

Nevertheless, my guess is that the light penalty upset someone, because Police issued a FPO. This was appealed (note, it was externally reviewable under the 1973 Act, but not the 2006 one).

Unfortunately, his solicitor had made an error in entering the matter in his diary, and he failed to appear, with the result that the Court affirmed the order.

In NSW, under the Criminal Records Act 1991 minor offences become ‘spent’ and drop off a criminal record after a number of years of good behavior, and this has been the case in this case. Notwithstanding this, the FPO remains.

The Gentleman concerned has held Inquiry Agents Licence for  almost four decades in Australia.  He has completed a law degree in the UK, and has been considered to be a ‘fit and proper person’ for the purposes of being admitted as a Solicitor of England and Wales.

He has been granted a Shotgun Certificate in the United Kingdom and has competed internationally in that sport. He is now a company director.  He is certainly in my opinion the very example of a model citizen.

Notwithstanding this, he cannot obtain a firearms licence, in Australia and is also deprived of a number of fundamental rights regarding search and detention.

This unfair law can adversely effect any of us at any time. It is time Parliament stop giving Police everything that they claim a need for on ‘operational grounds’ and start to build in to the system appropriate safeguards to protect individual liberty.


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