Tuesday, March 01, 2022

The END of ATMs in Australia? Thousands of cash machines are removed across the country as banks go digital

This is obnoxious. It is in effect banning cash. But many older people are much more comfortable with cash. A cash transaction is much simpler than navigating the frustrating and time-consuming complexities of the internet. And going into a branch is frustrating too. The few that still exist are overwhelmed with customers -- leading to long waits. A modern society should be able to limit time-wasting. The reality is the opposite. Just handing over cash for a transaction is so much simpler

As Australian banks continue to focus on digital transactions for customers, ATMs and bank branches are disappearing across the country, according to new data.

The analysis revealed close to 460 bank branches have shut down across the nation in recent years, and dating back to 2020, approximately 3800 previously active ATMs have been removed.

NSW alone now has 140 fewer in-store banks, and almost 300 suburbs don't have a singular ATM to withdraw cash.

It is a similar story in Victoria, where 120 branches have permanently closed their doors to customers.

'Closures have a devastating impact on local communities,' Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said.

'Jobs are lost, business is impacted, and another local service disappears.'

The closures have hit hard in regional and rural areas, and for older citizens, Ms Angrisano added.

Another key factor for the branch closures and reduced ATM's is the fact that banks are bringing in a small fortune from daily digital transactions.

As Australia accelerates towards a cashless society, fees from either the customer or vender for online banking have become common place.

In a modern-day digital world, an estimated 80 per cent of Aussies prefer to bank online.

But the remaining 20 per cent, namely the disabled or those who are not digital savvy, have been left stranded.

Tellingly, CBA now has 875 bank branches nationwide - compared to 1134 in February 2020.

Their number of ATMs has reduced to just over 2000 - in 2019 there were 4118 ATM's in circulation.

Last year, ANZ head of distribution Kath Bray said bank branch closures were a sign of the times, with digital transactions now the primary focus for many.


Qld. Labor govrernment in bed with corrupt union

Queensland’s militant CFMEU could control every major construction site across the state as part of a new “deal” drawn up by the state government which could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, insiders say.

New requirements developed by the Department of Transport require projects $100m and above to include a Best Practice Industry Conditions agreement.

The agreement, supported by left-faction Transport Minister Mark Bailey, requires a building company tendering for a government contract to negotiate with left-leaning unions including the CFMEU.

While it is not compulsory for a contractor to sign the agreement, industry sources say they are being pressured to agree to union enterprise demands or risk missing future government contracts.

Mr Bailey declined to say whether companies were being pressured to sign the industry condition agreement and if they could lose future government contracts on refusal.

The industry conditions agreement will give the CFMEU a greater input in the civil construction of road and tunnels, which had traditionally been the remit of the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).

Construction industry insiders fear the new conditions agreement will give the CFMEU more say over every major construction project in the state.

A senior Labor Party source familiar with the matter said the industry conditions agreement was developed by Mr Bailey, a leading left-faction minister, to “cut in the left-aligned CFMEU”.

“The government is putting a gun to the head of major contractors and saying let the CFMEU in or risk future work,” they said.

“Contractors are saying do we want to go to war with the CFMEU and the government, which controls the purse strings, or do we roll the dice and deal with the CFMEU?”

The party official said the AWU was considered more “rational and reasonable actors to negotiate with” compared to the “chaotic” practices of the CFMEU.

Both the CFMEU and AWU declined to comment.

Negotiations over the industry conditions agreement has created a stalemate at stage three of the $1.04bn Gold Coast Light Rail project.

The Courier-Mail can reveal preferred contractor John Holland Group is refusing to retrospectively apply the industry conditions agreement despite pressure.

It is understood the major building firm is yet to sign the project contract with the state government over fears it would increase the cost and set a precedent for future developments across the state.

LNP MP Ray Stevens, who represents Mermaid Beach where light rail will be built, said the industry conditions agreement could also add “wage loading to the tune of some $300m” on the project – which he declared was the “sticking point” for John Holland Group.

“John Holland will be locked in forever on future infrastructure projects if they cop this over-the-top ambit claim,” he said.

A spokesman for John Holland Group declined to comment due to ongoing negotiations with the Queensland Government.

Mr Bailey defended the industry conditions agreement, declaring it beneficial for workers and the economy.

“Our procurement rules create local jobs and encourage use of local suppliers and manufacturers because we want as much of our record infrastructure investment as possible to benefit Queensland workers and businesses,” he said.

“They ensure contractors adhere to the highest possible safety standards and emphasise training opportunities for Queensland workers especially during such a tight labour market period.”


NSW Treasurer ‘shocked’ by allegations Covid-19 money was treated as ‘slush fund’

The NSW Treasurer says he was shocked by a report Covid-19 emergency money had been used as a “slush fund” by government departments.

Matt Kean told a budget estimates hearing on Monday he would order a review of the checks and balances in place to avoid pandemic funds being wrongly used.

It came after a media report at the weekend alleged agencies had used emergency cash as an “endless slush fund”.

Whistleblowers alleged government agencies used money meant for pandemic-related costs for such things as office equipment and carpet replacements with “very little oversight”.

“When I read that article, I was shocked by it, and I’ve asked the (Treasury) department to look into it and advise me on whether or not our systems and processes are up to scratch,” Mr Kean said.

The Treasurer, who has the power to approve emergency payments, was unable to say how much such pandemic cash he had personally approved.

When asked repeatedly about it, Mr Kean became irritable and accused opposition MPs of trying to “lecture” him on financial management.

But the Treasurer promised the issue would be dealt with. “I can absolutely give the committee and the people of NSW an assurance that we will be paying close attention to these issues raised and put in place the systems and processes required to give people confidence that the money is being spent wisely,” he said.

The committee heard $346 million of Covid-19 expenditure above the appropriation had been approved in the 2020-2021 financial year.

That’s more than 10 per cent of the funding of the Treasury’s budget, Labor’s Daniel Mookhey told the hearing.


Wishy washy conservatives are now the norm

Where are our human rights ‘experts’ as Covid authoritarians strip away our freedoms?

I have resisted the temptation to write about the fact that ScoMo and co. have earlier this month decided to unfreeze $84 million previously held back from the ABC, thereby guaranteeing them $3.3 billion dollars over the next three years. You see it comes close to defying belief that a political party would do this, one that is always and everywhere hammered and traduced by a public broadcaster that has not a single, solitary conservative presenter, producer or higher-up type – not one – and which is so skewed to the left that (I quote a British journalist here) ‘it makes the BBC look like Fox News’. Why do it? Stockholm Syndrome? My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that the lefties in the party room – the Sharmas and Zimmermans and yes, our Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – are so desperate to retain their chardonnay-sipping inner-city seats that they begged a pusillanimous PM to do this. On their hands and knees they begged and pleaded. And right now in the Liberal party what the left faction (aka the people who put him in the job) wants, Mr Morrison gives.

But as I argued in a column at the start of this month, in the near to medium term all of these inner-city seats will be lost to the Coalition. Conservative parties, even ones that make only vague genuflections in the direction of anything remotely conservative, will lose all these seats. That has already pretty much happened in the rest of the Anglosphere. Only our preferential voting system is slowing down – not stopping, just slowing down – that trend here because it forces disaffected conservatives like me not just to vote for some other small party and be done with it (as in Britain, the US and Canada under first-past-the-post) but positively to preference Labor over the Libs. Most righties can’t bring themselves to do that. I can. In fact, I did it in the Turnbull election. Yet most can’t. Still, a PM who capitulates to the ABC-appeasing instincts of Messrs Frydenberg and co. is not just devoid of principle and strategic acumen, he’s stupid; he’s unaware of the sort of winning conservative coalition that Mr Trump built and that does not include these sort of seats. Such a placatory PM will lose more votes than he gains with this type of appeasement. Ditto the PM’s net zero cave in. Ditto his abandonment of all freedom-related principles during Covid. Ditto his inability to grasp the presumption of innocence. Etc., ad nauseam. OK, so I only half-resisted that temptation to blast a pusillanimous Coalition for throwing billions of our money, the taxpayers’, at this biased behemoth. But you have to agree it was a powerful temptation, one requiring super-human restraint to resist.

Meanwhile on that point about the way in which not just the Liberal party, but virtually the entirety of the elite and establishment class in this country has actively encouraged or turned a blind eye to the draconian Covid restrictions imposed on so many ordinary people, let us not forget the disgraceful inactions by the human rights lobby. I’ve noted this before, but it is worth another mention. All those highly resourced legal centres, law firms, self-styled human rights barristers and the like have barely said a word while police have hounded citizens, arrested pregnant women and attacked a swathe of civil liberties. The human rights mob will rouse themselves into paroxysms of indignation at the mere thought that someone claiming to be a refugee (who basically isn’t complying with an out-of-date convention from the 1950s, as though we wouldn’t repeal or amend domestic laws that were seventy years old) might have to apply from off-shore – otherwise known as ‘not skipping the queue and cheating others’. Basically the human rights lobby, often able to convince a good few like-minded judges, will fight tooth and nail on behalf of ‘rights’ in these sort of instances. Or give the HR lobby some pseudo-Marxist race-based claim, framed in the language of ‘equity’ or ‘diversity’, and they can kick into gear faster than Lewis Hamilton can take a knee. This might include lawfare, or op-eds in the Guardian or in that scintillatingly good read the Conversation or make-up the entirety of a week’s ABC early evening programming, with the requisite self-flagellating attacks on Australian democracy.

But come, in the words of retired British Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, ‘the greatest inroads on our civil liberties in over two centuries’ and the human rights brigade in this country is almost completely silent. Actually, to be fair, the same is true in the entire Anglosphere. In the face of governmental despotism and illiberalism and heavy-handed policing and real attacks on the freedoms and civil liberties of all citizens of the sort none of us has ever seen in our lifetimes, these self-proclaimed ‘human rights experts’ and ‘human rights organisations’ are as mute as Oddjob in Goldfinger. And it’s not hard to guess why. It’s because most members of the lawyerly caste (one which leans so far politically left, as a generalisation, that a Rip Van Winkle awakened after fifty years simply would not believe what had happened to the legal profession) agree with all the Covid heavy-handedness. As part of the laptop class they favoured lockdowns. Wanted masking. Liked muscular policing. Couldn’t wait for vaccine mandates. And so on and so forth.

This has long been the core of my claims against bills of rights. When you buy one of these instruments, be it a constitutionalised or a statutory model, all you are buying is the policy druthers of unelected judges. Full stop. The vague, amorphous rights in a bill of rights are not self-enforcing or self-defining. These instruments take that power from elected politicians and hand it over to the judiciary. If most judges happen to put more weight on equality concerns over religious freedom ones – and they do, nearly everywhere – then that is what these instruments will deliver. And notice that nowhere, not even in the US with its admirable free speech First Amendment jurisprudence, have we seen judges using a bill of rights to strike down and invalidate despotic Covid laws. Nowhere. Not once. What we have seen, in a few US state jurisdictions in the last few months, are judges using old-fashioned administrative law principles to rein in despotic Covid rules decreed by the executive. These judges have looked at the governing statute and demanded that it clearly authorise whatever regulations or orders the state governor has issued. Great. But no one needs a bill of rights to go down that path. Long ago I predicted that that was the best shot to win in court. Asking judges to gainsay politicians under the banner of some shapeless ‘rights-respecting’ claim can work when the judges agree with the substance of the underlying claim. (And note here that since 1992 all successful implied rights cases in this country have been against Coalition legislation, never Labor’s.) But when the preponderance of the judges are as happy with the lockdown mania as your average Canberran public servant, well fuggeddaboudit. Some of my fellow writers here at the Speccie think a bill of rights would have helped during the pandemic. Alas, they’re indulging in ‘modelling’ I’m afraid, not looking at the data.

And we know where that leads us.


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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