Monday, July 15, 2019

Pensioners with significant savings and investments look set to receive $804 compensation for unrealistic deeming rates

Some lucky Australians look set to get a cash boost of about $800 after the government caved to pressure to compensate them for plummeting interest rates.

Around one million people, including more than 600,000 pensioners, will receive up to $804 after the income they received from their savings took a massive drop due to recent cuts in rates.

The new plan will offset the damage done by the deeming rates applied to pensioners, which are used to estimate how much income they receive from their financial assets - and those rates have not fallen in step with interest rates.

The government was criticised because many saw the rates as a backdoor tax on retirees.

The current rates are at an extremely high 3.25 per cent for assets over $51,800 for singles and $86,200 for couples, and 1.75 per cent for assets underneath those levels, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The Morrison government proposes to cut the rates to 3 per cent and 1 per cent, which will give pensioners a lot more back for their financial investments.

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the cuts would benefit pensioners as well as up to 350,000 other people who receive income-tested payments, including veterans and those on disability pensions.

'It will mean more money in the pockets of older Australians,' Ms Ruston said.

The cuts are expected to cost $600million over the next four years.


Human rights in China: Why Australia should keep out of it

My "unfeeling" view is that the Wiggers should change their barbaric religion.  It should be clear to them by now that Allah is not standing by them -- JR

Tom Switzer

The promotion of human rights is a noble cause, one not to be cynically dismissed. But acting on it – if one is concerned to be effective and not merely feel virtuous – is more complicated than many human rights activists recognise.

As former CIS senior fellow Owen Harries and I have argued, individuals and special interests are free to give absolute and unqualified priority, but governments are not. “For the activist, human rights are a cause. But when they are incorporated into a government’s foreign policy, they become an interest among many,” we argued in 2011. “Their claims have to be balanced against other interests, many of which have a compelling practical as well as moral importance: for example, peace, security, order, prosperity. The place human rights will place in the hierarchy of interests will vary according to the circumstances.”

I once again made these banal points on the ABC’s Q&A this week in response to a question about the Chinese Communist regime’s brutal treatment of the Uyghur population in north-west China. My panel colleagues – Labor Senator Penny Wong, Liberal Senator Scott Ryan and ANU defence intellectual Hugh White – agreed. However, Diana Sayed, formerly of Amnesty International, charged we were indifferent to the fate of Muslims. See video (54m 45s).

Never mind the many occasions in recent decades when the US and its allies put their men and women in harm’s way – from Kuwait and Somalia to Bosnia and Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan – to help people suffering from tyranny or famine who happened to be Muslims.

Moreover, what complicates human rights policy — what makes it not a simple act of consistency, but a complicated one of judgement and discrimination — is the variability of circumstance. It’s easier for Canberra, for instance, to take a more moralistic approach to Zimbabwe or Syria, states with which Australia has few trade links, than it is for us to be hard on China, our most important trade partner.

If we sacrificed our relationship with Beijing on behalf of the Uyghurs, we’d destroy our economy without having any positive impact on China.


Pauline Hanson worried Muslim extremists could exploit religious freedom laws

Pauline Hanson has predicted new laws banning religious discrimination could be exploited by Muslim extremists to justify child brides, female genital mutilation and polygamy.

The One Nation leader has voiced her fears as Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government plans to introduce legislation making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their religious beliefs.

'I am concerned that such a bill could be used by radical Islamic extremists as a shield to protect the worst aspects of their political ideology,' the Queensland senator told her 278,000 Facebook followers on Tuesday night.

'By forcing this through without scrutiny the government may be creating a pathway for extremists to practice polygamy, genital mutilation, or even under-aged marriage and this cannot be allowed to happen.

'We must always be on guard for the unintended consequences of good intentions.'

The Coalition last year flagged a new Religious Discrimination Act, following a review into faith freedom by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock.

Plans for a new Religious Freedom Commissioner were announced in December, five months before Rugby Australia sacked star Wallabies player Israel Folau for tweeting that 'drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters' needed to repent or face hell. 

Section 116 of the Constitution already bans the federal government from 'imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion'.

It also says there shall be 'no religious test' to hold a Commonwealth position. That aspect of the Constitution, however, doesn't cover private sector employment.

Senator Hanson accused the government of failing to properly explain the details of its proposed legislation. 'Many people, including myself, are concerned about the rights of Australians who practice a legitimate religious faith,' she said. 'But what do we do when a belief clashes with the laws and customs of our land?

'The government wants to force a bill through parliament they say is aimed at protecting religious freedom but have failed to give any details of the bill.'

The Labor Opposition is expected to back the government's religious discrimination legislation, after suffering at the May election strong swings against it across south-west Sydney, where a swathe of electorates voted against gay marriage in a 2017 postal vote survey.

Government MPs from the Liberal Party's right faction are reportedly pushing to strengthen religious discrimination laws.

Existing laws already allow religious schools to sack homosexual teachers for leading lifestyles that contravened church teaching.

Attorney-General Christian Porter last week held a workshop for Coalition MPs to explain the bill, with more sessions to follow for other backbenchers.

The draft laws are likely to come under scrutiny from a parliamentary committee, making it unlikely religious freedom protections will pass the Parliament until at least late this year.

Senate Hanson is opposed to Muslim immigration and in August 2017 wore a burqa into the Senate to demonstrate her case for banning full facial coverings in public.


Plastic bag ban: Critics warn it isn’t helping Australia reduce waste

Coles and Woolworths say the bag ban diverted about 4.7 billion single-use plastic bags from landfill in 12 months, but a research study says the policy may be doing more harm than good.

University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor studied a similar policy in California to analyse the behaviour of consumers when it comes to bags and recycling.

She said the stores gave out less bags, but the shopper still needed something to put rubbish in at home or pick up dog poo with. “What I found was that sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned,” Dr Taylor told the NPR podcast Planet Money.

According to her study, the purchase of small plastic bags jumped by 120 per cent.

Dr Taylor said consumers typically used the reusable bags for rubbish, which was problematic because they’re thicker than the single-use bags and take longer to break down in landfill.

“So about 30 per cent of the plastic that was eliminated by the ban comes back in the form of thicker garbage bags,” she told the podcast.

Speaking on Channel 7’s Sunrise, the economist cast doubt on the success of the environmental policy.

“If we don’t consider the thickness and the types of bags people substitute to, we could be substantially over-estimating the benefits of the policy,” Dr Taylor said.

Hazardous materials management expert Dr Trevor Thornton echoed the economist’s concerns. “Garbags are only used once,” he told Sunrise. “They generally have more plastic, they’re heavier, they’re often coloured so there’s chemicals and are often perfumed so there’s chemicals in them.

“Sometimes the cotton bags or the reusable bags are the ones that are causing more environmental concerns than the plastic ones. “We don’t get that sort of data from the supermarkets or the retailers to say what is actually happening.”

Aldi says its policy of never offering single-use bags has kept 40,000 tonnes of plastic from entering the environment, while nearly 5000 tonnes of plastic have been kept out of circulation from Woolworths alone since the supermarket plastic bag ban was introduced 12 months ago — equal to more than 780 African elephants.

Despite some controversial backflips and modifications to the environmental policy along the way, both major supermarkets have revealed its massive impact.

Woolworths has issued about three billion fewer plastic bags from its stores over the last year.

It says shoppers have embraced the new habit, with one in six transactions now including the purchase of a plastic bag, and that number is decreasing month-on-month.

Coles says the sustainable strategy has diverted 1.7 billion single-use bags from landfill, with data claiming seven in 10 of its consumers now remember to bring a reusable bag when they shop and a further two in 10 bringing them on more occasions than not.

Single-use plastic bags have been banned in South Australia, Queensland, the ACT and Western Australia, while Victoria is expected to follow in November.

Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said consumers were quick to embrace the change despite vocal criticism from portions of the country. “We recognise change is never easy, particularly when it comes to something as habitual as grocery shopping,” he said. “Yet one year after we phased out single-use plastic bags, it’s clear Australians have formed new habits and embraced a vastly more sustainable way of shopping with reusable bags.”


 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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