Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Public Trustee animals again

All they want to do is hang on to other people's money and charge huge fees for doing so.  Don't put yourself or anyone else into their "care"

The NSW Trustee and Guardian has apologised to the family of a man who died in squalor in his North Coast home following claims the government authority ignored repeated requests to salvage the property from disrepair.

The body of Steven Colley, 57, was found in an advanced state of decay at his Kingscliff home on June 7, 2018, just two days after his death.

The mentally ill man's inheritance was being held in trust by the NSW Trustee and Guardian, who Mr Colley's cousin Michael Beehag said had been repeatedly asked to release funds to fix worsening structural issues, in particular a leak in the verandah roof contributing to a mould infestation.

Following Mr Colley's death the authority sought a $25,000 administration fee to release the property so that its title could be transferred to Mr Beehag, which his lawyer Debbie Sage described as "unconscionable".

“Due to their consistent and continued failure to act, NSW Trustee and Guardian is directly responsible for the substandard conditions in which the deceased lived at the time of his death," Ms Sage previously claimed.

Trustee and Guardian chief executive Adam Dent has now apologised to Mr Colley's family and waived its administration fees, saying in a letter to Attwood Marshall law firm the authority acknowledged it should've been more proactive and communicative with Mr Colley and his family.

"We recognise and acknowledge in relation to this trust we have not delivered services to an acceptable standard. This includes how we have responded to requests and the regularity of our communication. We apologise to Steven's family for this," Mr Dent wrote.

Mr Dent said the issue with the verandah roof dated back to its construction, and that the building firm had closed down and an insurance claim against the defect had been denied.

He said that over the course of the administration of the trust funds were advanced for plumbing, pest control, gutters and electrical works.

"Notwithstanding the above actions NSW Trustee accepts that it did not progress the repairs to fix the leak in the verandah roof. NSW Trustee apologises for not adequately responding to communications regarding the problem and acknowledges the frustration this caused," Mr Dent said.

A coroner's report, which places Mr Colley's date of death as being on June 5 last year, states that when his body was found in his bed two days later it "was severely altered by the decomposition process to the extent that it was not possible to identify a cause of death".

A November 2018 builder's inspection report seen by the Herald showed the house had an extensive list of major and minor defects.

In a letter to Mr Colley's disability advocate in April 2018, the NSW Ombudsman said the Trustee and Guardian acknowledged that, in relation to roof repairs, it was "clear that the service level experienced by Mr Colley was not to NSWTG's normal and expected standards" with the government body recompensing the trust almost $6000.

In a January 2019 legal letter to the Trustee and Guardian, Attwood Marshall senior associate Lucy McPherson said Mr Colley was charged almost $9000 in commission and fees "shortly after providing the compensation".

In his February 15 letter, Mr Dent said the Trustee and Guardian was waiving almost $32,000 in fees, which included figures previously charged.


Liberal Party study claims household energy bills could soar by HUNDREDS of dollars under Labor's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Households would be forced to fork out hundreds of dollars more on their energy bills under Labor's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to recent modelling.

A comparison of the two major parties revealed Labor's plan to cut down on emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 would cost households in NSW an additional $600 on average on their power bill.

By the time the policy is fully implemented, power bills could cost an extra $480 per household on average in Victoria.

The analysis was brought to light by Coalition-associated Menzies and Page Research Centres who claim power bills would soar between six and 30 per cent by 2030 under a Labor government, News Corp reported.

By comparison, the Coalition policy would see a 40 per cent decline in the average household power bill by the same year.

The Coalition is planning to reduce emissions by 26 per cent, almost half of Labor's commitment, by 2030.

An average annual power bill in Victoria in 2017-18 is about $1208 a year but is expected to drop to $796 by 2030 amid the Coalition's proposed plans to reduce emissions.

Under the Coalition in NSW, the average annual bill would drop from about $1368 to $804.

By comparison, the annual household power bill in Victoria under Labor is forecast to jump six per cent to $1276.

Labor has committed to cutting down on emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. The Coalition is planning to reduce emissions by 26 per cent by 2030.

Power bills would soar between six and 30 per cent by 2030 under a Labor government - while the Coalition would see a 40 per cent decline, according to the findings.

According to the economic modelling, it would rise three per cent in NSW to $1404 a year by 2030.

Small and medium businesses with annual consumption of 16,000 kWh should expect the same electricity prices under Labor, the report found.

An Australia-wide drop of an average of $1,500 in electricity prices for small and medium businesses is anticipated under the Coalition.

Under the more conservative emissions policy employed by the government small and medium sized businesses would be $2164 better off a year in NSW and $1892 in Victoria.

With polling day three months around the corner, the cost of household power bills is expected to be draw-card for voters who could be willing to swing.

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler would not guarantee whether energy bills under his party would drop when asked last week. 

Nick Cater the Executive director of the Menzies Research Centre said the research proved that Labor's commitment to renewable energy would not necessarily bring down the costs. 'The inconvenient truth is that there are huge costs to reducing emissions from energy production, and these are paid for by all of us, either as consumers or taxpayers,' he said.


Tony Abbott stands by Cardinal Pell

The testimony on which his Eminence was convicted was most implausible and was clearly unsafe.  Many Australian conservatives are therefore disturbed that a prominent conservative churchman was sent down on such evidence. They do not believe in his guilt at all and think he will be exonerated on appeal.  Miscarriages of justice often come to light

A common claim is that the jury must have seen Pell as guilty of SOMETHING in order to convict but an alternative hypothesis is that Pell was penalized not for anything he did personally but rather as a scapegoat for the foul deeds of many others in the church

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has defended his decision to stand by George Pell after the Cardinal's conviction for child sex offences, but says he does not recall whether he was asked to provide a character reference.

Mr Abbott, who phoned Pell last Tuesday when the guilty verdict became public, told Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley on Monday morning that the Cardinal "has been a friend of mine for a long time, and at a time like this you've got to feel for people".

"You've got to feel for the victims, who have been dreadfully betrayed by an institution they should have been able to trust, you've got to feel for the people who are dismayed at this verdict against someone they put up on a pedestal," he said.

Hadley last week excoriated former prime minister John Howard for the glowing character reference he gave Pell following the conviction, saying it showed a "a complete lack of understanding" of the victims of paedophiles, and on Monday demanded to know whether Mr Abbott had also provided a reference.

"Look, Ray, I honestly don't know if I was asked to provide a reference or not," Mr Abbott said. "I have no recall of providing a reference but, just, when it comes to the phone call, look, I'm not a fair-weather friend. This was someone who was obviously going through a very, very bad experience.

"I'm not saying he's the only one who is going through bad experiences, but he has been a friend of mine for a long time, and at a time like this you've got to feel for people ... These are tough times for a lot of people."

The interview comes after Hadley issued a fiery diatribe on air last week, in a rare moment of criticism against Mr Abbott, who is a regular guest on his show.

Hadley said that he found himself "at odds" with Mr Howard's decision to give a reference in which no mention was made of the victims of Pell's crimes, saying it was highly unusual for a convicted paedophile to receive such unwavering support.

"I consider it to be a gushing reference, considering it's for a convicted paedophile," he said, noting that the jury must have found the evidence from the unidentified victim "compelling".

"Everyone has a right to seek an appeal, but usually that doesn't dominate a discussion after a conviction."

Hadley said Mr Howard had made "a very poor error of judgment".  'You don't get references provided by a former prime minister portraying someone as a saint given he's just had a conviction for paedophilia."

Mr Abbott declined to comment on Mr Howard's decision, saying he could not speak for the man who had been "my colleague and mentor for many years".

He suggested the reason the conviction had been so thoroughly dissected was that it was "very unusual for someone of Cardinal Pell's seniority and substance to be on trial like this and, as we all know there's a sense that the church as been on trial in all this".

Hadley said the church, along with other institutions where paedophiles had access to children, had "rightly" been exposed after the problem was "for too long ... swept under the carpet and ignored".

The shock jock, who has long used his radio program to draw attention to the crimes of paedophiles, last week implied Mr Abbott's actions could cost him his seat in Federal Parliament at the election.

He asked this morning if Mr Abbott felt "compromised" by having someone close to him convicted of being a paedophile, after having supported the Gillard government's royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse as opposition leader.

"Well I don't believe so, Ray, I supported the royal commission because I thought it was the right thing to do," he replied.  "There's a verdict that's been delivered, a damning verdict against a friend of mine. It is subject to appeal, but I absolutely accept that the courts and their judgment are the best means we have of coming to the truth."

Mr Abbott said he took Hadley's point about victims having been "disbelieved for far too long", prompting the 2GB morning host to interject: "And it appears one is being disbelieved by some here as well, Mr Abbott!"

"I mean without knowing what the victim's said, there are people who have not given one sense of thought to this person," he said.


Housing will be a hot topic as we go to the next federal election

It is one area where the policies of the Coalition and Labor are markedly different.

Labor is proposing a massive change to existing arrangements, first by restricting negative gearing to new properties only, and second, effectively increasing capital gains tax by reducing the present 50 per cent discount to 25 per cent.

It has announced these policies will be grandfathered, so they will only apply to assets acquired after a certain date (yet to be announced).

Labor’s reasons for the changes are that investors enjoying tax concessions are competing with first-home buyers and thus driving up prices, making it more difficult for young people to acquire their first home.

Reducing the tax concessions available to investors should cause demand to drop and property prices to stabilise, or even fall.

However, given the increasing disparity between the average home price and average weekly earnings, a fall in property prices might not do much for aspiring young homebuyers.

If a $500,000 property dropped 10 per cent to $450,000, the buyer would still need a deposit of at least $45,000, plus the income to service a debt of about $420,000, when mortgage insurance is taken into account.

Making homes more affordable for first-home buyers is extremely difficult and many of the initiatives taken in the past have been self-defeating, as they have pushed up the price of housing by creating more buyers.

According to Labor's website: “This policy will see a boost in new housing and will provide young families with the chance to find a home, and will take pressure off inner-city housing markets that are predominantly made up of existing dwellings.”

Buyer behaviour

Whether or not this is true will depend on buyer behaviour.

It may well be that millennials prefer to rent in the inner city, rather than take on a large mortgage for a new home that is a long way from the action.

It’s wrong to compare Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing with what Paul Keating introduced in July, 1985 — and later repealed in September, 1987.

Keating increased the depreciation allowance to 4 per cent for new construction and stipulated that losses on investment properties could not be written off against current taxable income, but would be quarantined to be offset against future income from the property when it became positively geared.

Under the current Labor proposals, as I understand them, any losses cannot be offset against future taxable income, but will be added to the base cost to reduce capital gains tax on the property when it is eventually sold.

Labor’s proposals also apply only to new properties — Keating’s applied to all properties.

Labour is using a 2016 report from the Grattan Institute to support its case. It concluded: “Ultimately, people who invest in property take into account a host of factors, including rental returns, risk perception, familiarity with the asset class, and ability to obtain bank finance. Modest changes in tax treatment will not affect their decisions much.”

In contrast, a report commissioned by Master Builders Australia, prepared by Cadence Economics, has forecast a decline in new home building of between 10,000 and 40,000 dwellings and a loss of 7500 to 32,000 full-time construction jobs.

Reduced demand

Master Builders tell me it is not the abolition of negative gearing per se that will cause a slump, but the combination of the new negative gearing and capital gains tax rules.

Keep in mind that restricting negative gearing to new properties makes established properties less attractive to some investors because the moment a new house is occupied it becomes an established house.

Just this week, the Property Council released the results of a survey of 1000 current and potential investors that showed Labor’s initiatives would reduce demand for new housing.

Which forecast turns out to be correct will depend on buyer behaviour.

In 1985, when the Keating changes were all the news, I did several roadshows with a leading chartered accountant — we had conflicting views.

My modelling demonstrated that the Keating proposals were not really too tough and should not put anybody off acquiring an investment property.

The accountant’s view was that perception, rather than facts, would resonate with the public and they would desert investment property in droves. His view proved to be correct.

The distinction between new and established properties could have some serious consequences.

Think about an investor couple who decide to buy a $500,000 new investment property. They sign the contract and apply for finance.

Fundamental truths

The bank’s valuer will do the valuation based on a forced sale of what would then become an established property.

Valuers tell me this could reduce the valuation to $450,000 and the application for finance may be rejected. If the buyer cannot get finance, the contract will be cancelled, and there may be one less property available to be rented.

If the negative gearing rules are to be changed it would make more sense to include all properties, as Keating did. After all, the majority of tax deductions that relate to investment property come from new properties.

If the government wants to increase revenue, it seems self-defeating to encourage investors towards new properties, where tax deductions are maximised.

Double win for Australia

Political parties of all persuasion should understand some fundamental truths about the property market.

There are many investors who are terrified of shares and wary of superannuation because of the continual rule changes. They use borrowing for residential property as their means of saving for retirement. This is a double win for Australia — it provides an ongoing supply of rental properties, reducing pressure on rents, while enabling hundreds of thousands of people to become self-funded retirees, with no expectation of help from the government.

Given these facts about the housing market, what does the future hold?

It’s anybody’s guess but we do know the election will be in May and the result may be a narrow win for Labor. If this happens, expect months of negotiating with the minority parties to get these changes passed. This will create uncertainty, which may well mean that potential homebuyers sit on their hands, waiting to see what laws will be changed and how.

Labor has promised that their capital gains tax increases will affect only assets acquired after a specific date in the future. Once that date is announced, expect a flurry of buying in both property and shares, as everybody who can jumps in before the tax rules change.

If this happens, it is highly likely to be followed by a significant slump in buying activity after the change date because everybody who could buy would have already bought.

But it’s a paradox. An asset bought before the change will be worth more than one bought after the change, for tax purposes.

However, if you buy or own a house — new or established — before the change it may well be worth less than it would be after the change because there will be less people who want to buy it.

The big question now is whether such radical property changes should be contemplated at a time when the market is in a slump, with strong indications that it may get worse.

The CoreLogic monthly property report, released last Friday, showed that Australian housing values continued to trend lower in February, with their national index down .07%.

Head of research Tim Lawless said “the housing market downturn is now more widespread geographically and we aren’t seeing any indicators pointing to the market bottoming out just yet”

Furthermore, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the construction sector has moved sharply into reverse.

Private surveys run by groups, such as the Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association, have reported home-building activity to be at its lowest ebb in six years.

The construction industry is one of the biggest employers in the country, accounting for 989,400 full-time jobs during the three months to November, 2018. If it continues to slump, the job losses could be catastrophic.

It’s a great discussion for the Sunday BBQ.

The certainties are that Australia’s population will keep growing, property will stay out of reach for many renters and builders won’t build to sell at a loss.


 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

1 comment:

Paul said...

The only thing that brings prices down is a reduction in demand or an increase in supply. Tinkering with taxes or offering subsidies distort the market, but supply and demand is the big one. Knocking out the free ride for foreign buyers (who wouldn't allow us to own property on equal terms in their countries) would be the best way to deal with demand and it appears that, for external reasons as much as anything, this is happening.