Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Dick Smith has come into his own

Dick Smith was undoubtedly the most popular man in Australia.  As a successful businessman he was known for his sense of humor and the comic stunts he did to publicise his electronics business. From Wikipedia: 

"Smith has also attempted a number of well-publicised practical jokes, including the April Fool's Day attempt to tow a purported iceberg from Antarctica into Sydney Harbour in 1978, a new source of fresh water. Smith appeared in several TV ads on a pogo stick, promoting his business. In the early 1980s, Dick Smith served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. The bus, driven by Hans Tholstrup, was a humorous poke at Evel Knievel, who had visited Australia in 1979 and jumped his motorcycle over buses. Dick Smith's presence on the bus was a last-minute decision by himself."

Additionally, he was often ready with a cheque for people in the news who had fallen on hard times.  He was a genuine philanthropist -- and still is.  When he speaks publicly it is news.

When a few years ago he sold his business to Woolworths for a large sum, his focus changed somewhat.  He had always been a keen patriot -- something else that tended to endear him -- and he now set about doing something about it.  Like Trump, he deplored the  way Australian businesses were being shut down by cheap inports from China and elsewhere. 

Unlike Trump, he can't impose tariffs but he could try to persuade people to "Buy Australian".  And he did.  And to encourage that process, he set up a retail business that exclusively stocked Australian products.  It had some success but struggled.  Dick turned his business brain to the project, however, and came up with various ways of making sales.

Dick advertises his new sandwich spread on his hat

One of his inspirations was to sell "hampers" of Australian-made food products -- jams, sauces etc.  The hampers included quite a lot of different products and came in a nice wooden box with a latch.  I bought one to give to Jenny on her birthday a few years back.  It cost me a bit but it was worth it to see Jenny's glee in getting it.

Eventually, however, most of the business faded away, though I see that Dick has persuaded Woolworths to stock a few of the products he sponsors.  They are dearer than competing lines but the Dick Smith name on them is prestgious and generates some sales.  I suspect that Woolworths stocks them mainly as good PR.

So when Dick saw the problems Australia was having with its high level of imigration, Dick spoke out -- pleading for a pause while Australia built the new roads and houses that had become necessary.  He was ignored.  Some Leftists even called him a racist. 

But he was proved right.  In the absence of much new housing, the price of existing housing stormed up to levels similar to London and Manhattan.  It was a disaster for young Australian couples wanting to get into their own first homes.

Do Dick lost a lot of love over his opposition to high levels of immigration.  For the first time, some people were saying bad things about him.  He was of course greatly hurt to be condemned for trying to help his beloved country to get off an unsustainable path.

Quite recently, however, the excreta has hit the rotating device and former PM Tony Abbott made a speech or two along the same lines that Dick had taken.  He stressed the housing shortage, the traffic congestion and the overstretched public hospitals that the immigration surge has brought about.  The authorities have actually been very diligent in buiding new roads, traffic tunnels and bridges but finding room for such things in already crowded cities was not easy so the traffic jams have lengthened.

And guess what?  Mr Abbott was called an racist too.  But that seems to have been the last hurrah from the abusive Left.  Even the Leftist ABC recently aired a big program pointing out the difficulties that immigration has caused.  And there have been other voices raised that no longer get condemned as racist. 

So Dick has been exonerated.  His warnings are now widely accepted as wise and in need of action.  We may not see much action immediately but there is now a pretty good consensus over the need for action.  Below are two of the recent articles in support of an immigration  slowdown.  The first is from the ABC "4 Corners" TV program

Is YOUR suburb at breaking point? Inside the areas DOUBLING in size as garden blocks vanish, roads are clogged, and home-ownership dreams end for Aussies - while baby boomers make MILLIONS

When John McCaffrey moved into Cliff Road at Epping more than 60 years ago there were cows, horses and a creek across from his home.

Now when Mr McCaffrey looks out from his front lawn he sees rows of four-storey apartments and he is ready to sell up and leave his little part of suburbia in Sydney's north-west. The 64-year-old can no longer resist the forces of huge urban population growth.

Sydney is still Australia's largest city but Melbourne is growing faster and both capitals will have populations of eight million by the middle of the century.

The fastest growing areas in Australia's two biggest cities are South Morang in Melbourne's north-east, and Cobbitty-Leppington in Sydney's south-west. Some suburbs in both cities have more than doubled in size in the past 10 years.

Mr McCaffrey, his mother, father and two brothers first crammed into their two-bedroom home in 1956. It had cost his parents just £5,000 pounds.

The recent death of his mother means Mr McCaffrey is selling up and leaving with an almost $4 million windfall.

'I've been here 62 years and when I first came here it was rural,' he said. 'When I first came to Epping there used to be a produce shop, a fish shop and some other little shops. On this street kids used to go down to the creek and catch eels and fish.

'On the other side of the road, was a meadow with cows and horses, a creek and farmland.

'I guess it was probably about two years ago I reckon that these units started popping up. I understand people need somewhere to live and I certainly understand people wanting to sell with the prices that are being paid.'

Sydney's population topped 5million at the end of June 2016, with an increase of almost 83,000 - or 1.7 per cent - over the previous year. It took the city almost 30 years - from 1971 to 2000 - to move from 3million to 4million. The next million took just 16 years.

Melbourne's population has grown by a third in just 15 years and added almost a quarter to its population in the past decade. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates that in the 10 years to June 2016, the population of Greater Melbourne grew by 880,876, or 23.4 per cent.

Most of the growth is due to immigration. Australia's net annual immigration rate moved above 200,000 a year in 2012. A decade earlier it was 100,000. The country's immigration rate averaged 70,000 during the 20th century.

The number of Australians born overseas - 28 per cent - was a record, up from 24 per cent 10 years earlier.

An ABS estimate of net overseas migration for the year ended 30 June 2017 - 245,400 people - was 27.1 per cent higher than the net overseas migration recorded for the year ended 30 June 2016.

The population of Australia, which is now about 25million is set to hit 40million by the middle of the century. There were just 19million people living in Australia in 2000.

That year former New South Wales premier Bob Carr declared Sydney 'full'. Since then, the population of Greater Sydney has increased by 22 per cent, while its area has increased by less than 2 per cent.

Australia's capital cities grew faster than the rest of the country in the 12 months to June 2016, accounting for 82 per cent of the nation's population growth.

Sydney and Melbourne experienced 56 per cent of the entire nation's population increase.

ABS statistics figures released in March last year put the population of Greater Sydney, which includes the Blue Mountains and Central Coast, at 5,005,400.

Sydney is bearing the brunt of population increases in New South Wales, absorbing 78 per cent of the state's growth.

Four of the five fastest growth areas in the country in the 2015-16 financial year were in Melbourne and two in the top 10 were in Sydney.

Businessman Dick Smith warned of an end to the Australian way of life if the country continued to accept more than 200,000 immigrants a year. 'You're jammed like a termite in a high-rise, or I say battery chooks,' Mr Smith told Four Corners this week.

'Now we've got 20 storeys and presumably in 20 years' time, the 20 storeys will be knocked down and we'll go to 50 storeys.'

If the current trends continue Melbourne will pass Sydney as Australia's biggest city in the mid-2050s, by which time both cities will house more than 8million residents.

Mr Carr warned on Four Corners that unrestrained growth could create a dystopia.

'When you contemplate the eastern suburbs of Sydney, access to the beaches - which is a natural space, recreational space - what do you do?' Mr Carr asked. 'Do you have fences and turnstiles? When the population around Bondi, for example, reaches the sort of intensified level that means the roads are choked most days in summer, do you start to ration access to the coastal walking trails along the coast?'

A ReachTell poll conducted for Fairfax Media in October last year found more than two thirds of respondents believed Sydney was full.

At the same time, the Greater Sydney Commission said the city would need about 725,000 extra dwellings over the next 20 years to accommodate the growing population.

The growth means increases in housing density in some parts of Sydney and Melbourne. 

Greater Sydney has an average 405 people per square kilometre while Greater Melbourne has 465 people per square kilometre.

But Homebush Bay-Silverwater in Sydney's west has a population density of 1,773 per square kilometre, while Maroubra, in the city's south-east has 5,591.

Paddington-Moore Park in the east has 4,394 and the Concord-Mortlake-Cabarita area in the inner-west 3,706.

It is expected Green Square, in the city's inner-south, will have a population density of 22,000 people per square kilometre by 2030.

By comparison, the New York urban area has a population density of 1,800 per square kilometre. London is 5,600, Tokyo-Yokohama 4,400 and Paris 3,700.

Dhaka in Bangladesh has 44,100 people per square kilometre and India's Mumbai has about 26,000.

This week NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley called for a cap on Australia's immigrant intake set in consultation with the states and territories.

Experts are warning Sydney and Melbourne are becoming so big infrastructure, health services and education facilities cannot keep pace.

'We've done an abysmal job,' Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told Four Corners.

'There has been really no serious integrated debate around all the key factors that population growth brings to our economy and our national way of life.'


Add new migrants and stir carefully

If Australia — or any other Western democracy — were able to have a grown-up conversation about immigration and integra­tion, then that conversation would start with difficult questions. One of them would be this: “Who do we not want to join us here?” If there are people who we do want then there must be people we do not want. And if we agree that we cannot take in the world then we must have this conversation.

As gang violence once again makes itself felt in Melbourne the Australian public will be mulling this matter. But few people in public life — and almost no one in mainstream politics — dares to even talk about this subject, or show they’re thinking about it. For the time being we all have to pretend that 10,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa will contribute no differently to a country than 10,000 arrivals from New Zealand. Such cowardly and immature public discussion — across all the Western democracies — is provoking disastrous mistakes.

In recent years I have researched and addressed questions of immigration and identity around the world, but particularly in Europe, whose situation is most similar to that in Australia. And I have often asked these uncomfortable questions. I once pressed an elected British official in public to tell me who they did not want in Britain. The only clear answer I could get was that Britain should not allow in people who had been convicted of war crimes. Which means we have a moral right to keep out about a half-dozen people, all of whom are spending the rest of their lives in jail in The Hague anyway. Is all of the rest of the world really welcome?

We have stopped ourselves being allowed to think out loud about these matters. The plain reason is that for the time being the social costs of speculating about this in public are just too high. And there are some good reasons. Nobody wants to alienate people who are not alienated already. Plus there are a small number of people around who genuinely hate people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Nobody wants to provide cover or give succour to such people. But in attempting not to aid them, and while signalling that we are not such people ourselves, we have disabled our ability to have a sane public discussion. Simultaneously, “open borders” fanatics see how afraid everyone else is even of false accusations of bigotry and push their advantage, throwing around accusations of racism for short-term wins towards a long-term political goal.

Nevertheless, serious questions about immigration and integration will keep finding us out. Today in Europe they are finding us out all the time. Particularly in the aftermath of the German Chancellor’s 2015 decision to say that the world could come if it could make it to Europe.

In 2015 up to 1.5 million came to Germany in one year alone, adding about 2 per cent to the German population. Nobody thought the matter through. Nobody wanted to admit the consequences. Everyone was fearful of the discussion. But the German public is now living with the consequences. A report commissioned by the German government and released at the start of this year found that a double-digit increase in violent crime had occurred in the years since 2015 and that “more than 90 per cent” of this was due to young male migrants. Three years ago if you said that a huge influx of young male migrants from the developing world might cause an increase in violent crime you would be dismissed as a racist. Today it is clear that — whether you were a racist or not — you also were right in your prediction. Is it wise to depict accurate predictions as racist? Rather than address this conundrum, we shut it down.

For the time being there remains only one acceptable tone in which to talk about immigration and integration. That is to talk about it as an unending boon and one big success story. Merely signal that there are pros and cons and you land in a whole world of pain.

Australians are particularly keen to talk about the positive side of the ledger. And to some extent Australians have a right to do this. The country has much to be proud of. What country has coped better with a swiftly changing and pluralistic society? Can any of Australia’s numerous homegrown critics name one? And it has had a political class that has been willing — on occasion — to break the consensus, certainly far more so than its counterparts in Europe.

For instance, in a recent speech, Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge made one of the most important points that can be made — not only to praise what Australia has done well in the past but also to warn of the consequences of getting things wrong. Because a nation does not remain the same by some law of nature. It does not remain the same whatever you put into it. As with any recipe, change the ingredients and the whole thing will change. Some change may be good. But some may be retrograde. In Europe in recent years politicians have appeared to believe that you can do anything at all to a country — throw in whatever ingredients happen to arrive — and it will remain the same. It is a presumption for which the public — from Rotherham to Cologne — is paying.

The mistake is based on errors the public can see with our own eyes. For instance we can see that there are essentially only two things that matter in migration: speed and character. The speed matters because if you bring in people too fast then there is almost no chance of integrating them. They will congregate in areas with people like them and will have little or no interaction — or desire to interact with — the rest of the community or country. Anyone visiting the towns of northern England, suburbs of Marseilles or outskirts of Stockholm can see this for themselves. Australia may be coping with this better, but ask anyone in Australia where a particular ethnic community lives and you will get directions. That is not a sign of wholly successful integration but a form of segregation — whether self-imposed or not.

Yet even harder to discuss than speed of migration is the identity of migrants. But identity matters, because — and here is a great shibboleth to break — some identities are simply easier to integrate than others. There are 67 suburbs in Melbourne and Sydney in which more than half of the residents were born overseas. Melbourne is grappling with the problem of African street gangs. Some of these are refugees from South Sudan. Of these some — including the children of refugees — have been involved in violent home invasions in the city that gave them a home.

Similar stories occur everywhere. In London there has been a significant rise in knife crime in the past year, much of it gang-related. Last month in London, within a few kilometres of each other, and within just 1½ hours, two young men of Somali origin were stabbed to death in gang fights.

So some truths need to be considered, even if they are not accepted. One is that members of the Australian public, like members of the public around the world, are right to be concerned about the speed at which immigrants come into the country. The ability of a country to absorb people does not forever increase. And it is not the case that people in Australia become as Australian as the next person simply because they have arrived in Australia.

That mistaken presumption — the one that has guided (or misguided) Angela Merkel — is disintegrating in every modern liberal state at the moment. But another truth that must be considered, even if not accepted, is that it is unlikely that knife crime in London, or home invasions in Melbourne, would be at the same levels if Britain or Australia had imported the same number of native Scandinavians as they have Somalis or South Sudanese.

Here everybody gets understandably nervous. Somalia has had a brutal civil war in recent decades and South Sudan has been marked by ethnic conflict. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of others have been involved in that violence or seen it first hand, with effects that will never leave them.

But here is the hard question. At what stage are we helping to save people from Somalia or South Sudan? And at what stage are we at risk of resembling those conflict-torn states ourselves? The hope of our time is that while the first generation may bring problems, the second generation will not. Of course the list of second-generation immigrants in Australia who went to join Islamic State should at least give pause. But fine: if not this generation then the next, or the one after that will be fully integrated. And if many refugees don’t find employment in five years (as is the case in Australia) perhaps the country will find a use for their skills in 10 or 20 years, or some other spot in the future.

Just one problem in considering this is that it is not a science. There is not a tipping point worked out by careful equation at which one can show that integration stops occurring and tribal and gang violence — as well as many other beliefs and behaviours people bring — begin to make themselves felt. In the absence of such an equation we have only one device to work with, which is the extent to which the public feels happy with the speed of change in society and the agility of the political class to respond to this.

In Europe the political class knows that it has done mass immigration against the will of its public. Partly as a result, politicians have done everything they can to disable the public’s response mechanisms. They have ignored expressions at the ballot box, ignored manifesto promises, and when something such as the Brexit vote occurs (a vote driven largely by concern about unrestricted immigration) much of the political class continues actively to berate the public.

It is easy to experiment on people (and even berate them for objecting) if you don’t live with them. In general politicians are able to live away from the situations they create. Few Australian cabinet ministers will have their homes invaded by African gangs. They tend to be luckier in the neighbourhoods they can choose to buy in. Likewise, when Merkel meets a migrant it is in a carefully vetted photo op. Her country’s citizens are not so lucky, as the rise in violent crime — including sex crimes — suggests.

All the time the public is having to think quietly. We wonder whether integration will ever happen for some groups, and what must be put up with to get to that nirvana. Others wonder whether the destination is worth the journey. Others worry whether some groups just don’t want to be integrated, and wonder what anyone can do if that is the case.

Though there are plenty of easy mistakes that can be made in thinking through all this, there are few easy answers. Yet what answers do exist, all originate from the same places. The first lies in re-finding the ability to talk all this through honestly, plainly and without fear. The second is to do so in a recognition that most countries aren’t like this. Tolerant, pluralistic liberal democracy is not the default state of humankind. What we have is a blip point in a world of violence and millenniums of chaos. So we should be careful with experiments that cause concerns about our future and develop better remedies for when our experiments go wrong.

A generation of Australians — like their European counterparts — have been told there is nothing so appalling, oppressive and racist as the society in which they have grown up. The most charitable response to that is to say these critics can never have been anywhere, and have zero idea of how lucky they are. Saving the rest of the world from misery is a precious ambition. But recognising your own good fortune and seeking to preserve it for the next generation is a precious ambition, too — and one that happens to be within the nation’s gift. So tread wisely, Australia.


Labor voter fury over losing 30pc of income under Shorten plan

Fully-self-funded retiree, Margaret Osborne, 64, is a rusted-on Labor voter but will abandon the party at the next election.

The former teacher, who lives in Sydney's Rozelle with her husband, said Labor's proposal that, if elected, it would make changes to the dividend imputation system, would see the couple's income drop by 30 per cent. "I'm very angry about this," she said.

The couple have all their savings in Australian-listed investments through their self-managed super fund. About 85 per cent of their money is the big dividend-paying shares such as Telstra and the big banks.

Under the plan announced by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday, imputation credits would no longer be refundable. These are tax credits attached to dividends of Australian-listed companies where shareholders can claim a cash refund from the Tax Office if the value of the tax credits exceeds the shareholder's tax liabilities.

Most retirees have tax liabilities and without refundable tax credits, lose the benefit of the credits.

"We were encouraged by successive governments during our working life to set aside for our retirement and not become an added burden on the economy by accessing the age pension," Margaret said.

It is not only a major problem for better-off retirees like Margaret and her husband, but also for other retirees, many of whom are likely to be pushed onto the age pension, she said. "I don't think Labor has thought this through," she said.

If Labor wins the next election the change to dividend imputation would start from  mid-2019.

It is not only the better-off retirees who would be affected. Andrew Stark, who is in his "mid-50s", came out of a divorce with a modest amount of money which he invested in Australian shares.
He lives off about $150 per week after paying the rent on his home on the NSW Central Coast of $210 a week.

"I am a Labor supporter and to vote for the Liberals at the next election will gut me, but I will have to do it, look at my situation," he said.


Labor victory fuelled by Catholic education backing

Bill Shorten has privately hailed a Catholic education sector ­campaign days before the Batman by-election as a key factor in Labor’s win.

The Catholic intervention, which helped fuel the nearly 8 per cent primary vote swing to Labor, is already being taken as a warning to the Turnbull government that it could lose seats over the school-funding issue at the next federal election.

The Australian can reveal that the Opposition Leader called Catholic Education Melbourne chief executive Stephen Elder on Saturday night after the bigger-than-expected win over the Greens. Mr Shorten thanked the sector for its support in the by-election campaign after the Catholic body made 30,000 robocalls to almost every household on Thursday, urging a vote for Labor. The campaign helped propel the ALP’s Ged Kearney to a win with a two-party-preferred vote of about 55 per cent to 45 per cent.

Northcote resident and working mother of three Vanessa Lania said she had been compelled to vote Labor for the first time in more than three years after receiving a letter for her children’s Catholic school telling her that its funding was at risk under the Liberals.

“You don’t want to say panic set in or anything, but we were made aware that the school could be facing funding cuts, and it worried us,” Ms Lania said. “And so you do what you can to try and stop it.”

Having young children and paying school fees means her priorities have shifted, she says. “The Greens and what they say and their values align to my values, but your priorities change and education is higher on my agenda at the moment,” she said.

Catholic Education Melbourne has been at war with the Coalition over funding reforms it says have robbed millions of dollars from Catholic schools, threatening to campaign strongly over the issue at the next federal election.

During the Batman campaign, CEM wrote to every parent of the 5000 Catholic schoolchildren that make up more than a quarter of all school students in the seat, claiming Labor was the only party that would provide an extra $250 million in funding to Catholic schools over the first two years if Mr Shorten was elected to office.

It is understood that Labor’s poll tracking a week ago was pointing to a loss in the seat.

Mr Elder said he believed the issue played a significant role in the outcome, having run similar campaigns in Victorian state by-elections.

“(Bill) sat down and listened to us, got across the detail and worked out we had a fair case unlike Turnbull and (Education Minister Simon) Birmingham,” he said. “People who dismiss the church forget we are on the high moral ground when it comes to school funding. Birmingham is taking hundreds of millions of dollars off Catholic schools and many parents can’t afford to pay.”

Senior Labor MPs have seized on the by-election win to spruik the party’s chances in the next federal election. Malcolm Turnbull and senior Liberals batted away suggestions the result sent any message about Labor’s chances on federal polling day.

“We weren’t involved in that election, and I guess it tells you a lot about Bill Shorten’s situation in that he’s crowing about holding a seat the Labor Party have had for 50 years,” the Prime Minister said.

Labor’s initial plan trained the party’s sights on trying to retain traditional Labor voters in the north while attempting to win back younger families and more socially progressive voters living in the comparatively affluent suburbs in the south.

Australian Electoral Commission data reveals the strategy worked, with the party netting some of its biggest swings in the south and areas close to schools.

The Northcote West polling booth at Northcote High School experienced a swing towards Labor of 34 per cent, delivering Ged Kearney a final tally of 62.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent over the Greens in that booth.

Labor picked up a swing of more than 10 per cent at the Westgarth Primary School polling station in southern Northcote.

Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives secured 6.37 per cent of the primary vote, with most of the preferences flowing to Labor, ALP sources estimated.


Australian PM 'disappointed' the Greens linked destructive wildfire to climate change

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his "disappointment" that the Greens linked the catastrophic bushfire that ripped through Tathra overnight to climate change.

"I'm disappointed that the Greens would try to politicise an event like this," the Prime Minister told reporters, speaking from the fire-ravaged town this afternoon.

“You can’t attribute any particular event, whether it’s a flood or fire or a drought or a storm – to climate change."

As Tathra residents waited to hear if they'd lost their homes, businesses, and or livelihoods, Greens leader Richard Di Natale rose in the Senate and linked the catastrophic bush fires to climate change.

"We are seeing climate change in our every day lives have an impact on the risk of bush fires in our communities," he said.

"We can't any longer be complacent about risk of bush fires once the end of summer comes around. "And yet here we are with bush fires racing through my home state and indeed my community."

But Malcolm Turnbull said such intense fires are part and parcel of life in Australia.

“We are the land of droughts and flooding rains, we're the land of bushfires,” he said. “Nature hurls her worst at Australians – always has and always will."

“We saw from the air how the fire had not just leapt over a river, but had leapt over streets of houses, apparently without any damage, and then landed on a group of houses which had been burnt out. So, you can see how unpredictable it is.

“We have an environment which has extremes. Bushfires are part of Australia, as, indeed, are droughts and floods.”

Coalition Senator, Ian Macdonald, called the speech "hypocritical and a fraud". "These events happened before. They will happen in the future," he said.

The official New South Wales bush fire season ends at the end of March.



Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here


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