Friday, November 29, 2019

Jason Murphy launches another attack on the elderly

This time he makes it clear that it is only home-owners who are in his sights. But he also loathes superannuants.

Some people scrimp and save to pay off their own home. It usually takes them many years.  Other spend all their spare cash on beer and cigarettes (etc.).  Which group should we encourage? Neither, seems to be Jason's answer. Yet the savers take a huge burden off the taxpayer.  They get reduced pensions and no housing allowance.  In a rational world the savers would be praised but Murphy is clearly a Leftist envier.

He is right that a small number of homeowners and superannuants live more comfortable lives in retirement than others do but that is so throughout a capitalist system.  Some people are better at using their opportunities and may be envied for it,  but the alternative -- communism -- just makes everyone poor, the nomenklatura excepted, of course.

It's the whole capitalist system that Jason dislikes.  Capitalism runs on incentives and incentives produce very uneven results. Because of that unevenness in results Jason wants to take the incentives away.  He apparently wants, for instance, to abolish the tax concessions to superannuation. 

But those incentives are there for a good reason.  They were put in place to encourage more people to save for their own retirement and not depend on the pension.  And they do exactly that.  That the concessions benefit some people more than others is what Jason dislikes.  He wants a Soviet-like system for us  -- with enforced equality.  I will not be alone in saying "no thanks" to that.

Part way down page 17 in a long report released last week, Treasury boffins buried a landmine.

“Where one generation is required to fund their own retirement as well as the retirement of a previous or future generation they may view this as inequitable,” they wrote.

No kidding, Treasury. No kidding.

This line comes from the consultation paper on a retirement income review the government is doing. The review has promised to recommend no changes, lest the powerful be disturbed.

Nevertheless my former colleagues at Treasury, perched in their modernist office block on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin ought to be careful.

Last week, I wrote a story about the immense privileges being provided by our system to the boomer generation, and the backlash was strong.

People contacted me in droves to tell me they knew someone who was struggling. I called the boomers a “luxury generation” and the response I got was #NotAllBoomers.

You know what, fair enough. I should have been more specific. If you’re 65, renting a place to live and reliant on the pension, you’re having a bloody hard time. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be unkind to you.

Poverty among people aged 65 and over who don’t own their own home is extremely high. It’s a genuine issue; but, of course, they are not the only ones doing it tough. The type of household with the worst rates of poverty is the sole parent. There are more children in those households living in poverty (230,000 children) than there are people over 65 renting and living in poverty (135,000 over 65s).

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Because the point of the boomer wars is not to focus on people in poverty, it’s to focus on people who have many millions and are getting more.

The boomers I don’t mind niggling a little are the ones who point to the two million dollar home they bought for $50,000 and say “we earned this!”.

The ones who strolled out of school into a labour market with 2 per cent unemployment and found jobs with no degree.

The ones who like to chirp about how they endured 17 per cent interest rates without ever mentioning that, in 1974, average weekly ordinary time earnings rose 28 per cent in one year alone (and then rose 20 per cent the next year, and 13 per cent the year after).

The ones who feel, when they structure their financial affairs in order to maximise the tax breaks available through superannuation and home ownership, that these are the product of a universe where all is suitable, appropriate, just and correct.

People in the top 1 per cent of the income distribution get a very handy $700,000 helping hand from the government in preparing for their retirement. That compares very generously to people at the middle of the income distribution who get $250,000.

The biggest helping hand for lower income earners is the pension. That’s not available at the top. But what they lose on the swings, they gain on the roundabouts, because the superannuation earning tax concessions really start to kick in.

When your super investments earn income (eg, dividends), they are taxed. But unlike income from working and other income earned outside the super system, this income is treated differently. It gets tax concessions. Earnings inside super get taxed at 15 per cent.

Superannuation contribution tax concessions also help. Money you put into super is taxed on the way in too, at 15 per cent, which is potentially a lot lower than your marginal tax rate. These contribution tax concessions are not quite so powerful at the top of the scale thanks to some recent changes that double the tax rate on contributions for people earning more than $250,000.

It certainly causes a person to wonder if the taxes on superannuation are designed to help those that need help in getting ready for retirement. Treasury is calling for comments on its retirement income review. It is sure to be besieged by furious people calling for the benefits to be retained.

But there’s a trap here for any young person who wants to play the intergenerational equity game. Any push for fairness here will probably be introduced gradually. Which is to say that it will be staged and scheduled in such a way that it hits not the retirees currently floating off the Whitsundays, but the ones who intend to give up work in two or three decades time. That is, you and me.


Advance Australia’s new boss Liz Storer says political correctness is alien to Australian culture

If Bob Hawke was an early career politician today, the plain-talking larrikin would’ve inevitably offended a certain cohort on Twitter and become a victim of “cancel culture”.

That’s the view of Liz Storer, who’s settling into her new role as the boss of Advance Australia – the right’s version of left-wing activist group GetUp.

The 36-year-old former political adviser believes there are “millions more of us” than what she describes as the “radical left”.

It’s just that her potential supporters – quiet Australians, to borrow a phrase from Scott Morrison – haven’t felt a sense of urgency to get involved in “boots on the ground” activism.

Until recently, that is.

“You know what I think the vast majority of mainstream Australians miss? The straight-talking Aussies of the past. I know I do,” Ms Storer told

“This political correctness rubbish has absolutely undermined our culture – our larrikinism, our very heritage. What we’ve become … this is not us.”

Ms Storer claims the broader community has been paralysed by fear – a fear of saying the wrong thing, being shamed, having their businesses boycotted or being “bullied” online.

“I used to love watching political clips of Paul Keating, (Bob) Hawke – those guys were straight shooters before political correctness rotted the way we talk, the way we relate to each other, the way we do business, the way we conduct politics.

“These days, they would’ve absolutely been de-platformed.

“It’s why politicians now are having to dumb down their speech, to try to say things in a way that ticks the PC box.”

She believes many figures in Canberra – of all ilks – are a shadow of what they used to be – not saying or doing much out of fear of losing votes.

“Say it like it is, call it like it is. If you want to be respected by the Australian public, that’s what you’ll do. So far, the only role political correctness has played is to eat away at our heritage, our very culture as Aussies.”

It might come as no surprise who she blames for the trend.

“This culture of pandering to the radical left, can’t be seen to call a spade a spade, dance around it, we want everyone’s votes come the next election, it has such far-reaching effects,” Ms Storer said.

Ms Storer points to the recent decision by Inner West Council in Sydney to cancel Australia Day festivities on January 26 out of respect to Indigenous peoples – a decision reportedly based on just 37 survey responses.

“Whether it’s climate alarmism, cancelling Australia Day, threatening free speech … it’s this squeaky wheel getting the oil. But the radical left are not the majority.

“It’s a small contingent getting upset about what the majority of us mainstream Australians are up to.”

She also attacked the “de-platforming” of Australian tennis great Margaret Court and rugby union star Israel Folau over their religious views and homophobic remarks.

“This constant bullying by the left – you’re not allowed to have a dissenting opinion,” Ms Storer said. “People cop it because they won’t bow a knee to the PC authoritarian rubbish.

“I do believe mainstream Australians are well and truly waking up to this. They’re sick and tired of the tripe.”

While she wouldn’t be drawn on whether she accepted some of Ms Court and Mr Folau’s remarks were offensive to the LGBT community, Ms Storer said it was unfair for anyone to suffer because of their personal beliefs.

“There’s no mainstream Australian who’ll look at that and think it’s fair and it’s OK,” she said. “Once again, it’s the radical left.”

Advance Australia launched about a year ago in a bid to mobilise the centre right to champion its own issues of importance.

“The centre right is best known for our thought leadership,” she said. “There are lots of groups out there doing good work, but we’re lacking in boots on the ground.”

Ms Storer, who has worked as an adviser to Liberal MPs at a state and federal level, was herself a local councillor in Perth for two years. Her efforts now will be focused on expanding Advance Australia’s membership base and campaigning efforts.

In Ms Storer’s view, “there’s no end of work to do”, but she identified free speech, climate change “alarmism” and national sovereignty as major concerns.

Advance Australia has 45,000 members across the country, she says, and they call the shots, deciding what campaigns are rolled out.

While the group might be on the right, Ms Storer isn’t shy to criticise her own side when the need arises.

“We (recently) saw our PM give $1 billion more, taxpayer dollars, to the CEFC (Clean Energy Finance Corporation). For what? These guys started back in 2012 as a Labor-created, snot wad of a useless body,” she said.

“They sunk $11 billion into it at the time. It’s done absolutely nothing, except ruin our grid with a pile of unreliable renewables.

“We’ve heard en masse from our supporters saying they elected a Liberal Government that have just enacted a Labor Party.

“I don’t care whether you’re in opposition or in government, Advance Australia is here to speak for the mainstream. Whether you’re blue team or red team, we will fight you if you’re not representing us.

“We will be speaking up and calling out hypocrisy. You certainly cannot be elected saying one thing and less than six months, change and do another. You’re not going to get away with it.”

Despite some of her pointed language when discussing “the left”, Ms Storer doesn’t believe Australians are any more divided now than they have been.

She even claimed to champion a respect for differing opinions and political views.

“We can respectfully disagree with each other – we live in a representative democracy,” she said.

“Australia is the land of opportunity. That is the best thing about this place. We (can be) a lot better than we are now.

“I’m optimistic about the future because Australia, in my humble opinion, and I’ve travelled the world, is the best country on earth.”

But Ms Storer then added: “But are the radical left undermining that? Absolutely.”


A politically correct but mostly imaginative rewrite of Aboriginal history

If indigenous author Bruce Pascoe is correct, most of what we were taught of how Aboriginals lived prior to the arrival of Europeans was based on a combination of ignorance, omissions and lies.

In his landmark book Dark Emu, Pascoe claims indigenous Australians were not hunter-gatherers but were sophisticated in the ways of food production, aquaculture, and land management. They were not nomads but lived in large towns in permanent dwellings. Their civilisation was, he wrote last year, “one that invented bread, society, language and the ability to live as 350 neighbouring nations without land war, not without rancour … but without a lust for land and power, without religious war, without slaves, without poverty but with a profound sense of responsibility for the health of Mother Earth for more than 120,000 years.” According to him they also invented democracy and government.

The book won the 2016 NSW Premier’s Literary Award and has sold over 100,000 copies. The ABC and Screen Australia have provided funding for a documentary series written by Pascoe. According to the head of ABC Indigenous, Kelrick Martin, the book “offers a revelatory context for future generations of Australians and ABC Indigenous is proud to work alongside Bruce Pascoe … to correct these stereotypes.” A children’s version, “Young Dark Emu: A Truer History”, is now part of school curriculums.

Much of Dark Emu’s positive reception has to do with Pascoe’s masterful presentation skills, for he is naturally telegenic. Showing a knack for reading his audience, he can be avuncular, affable, disarming, reserved, and even melancholic. He is articulate, an orator, persuasive and endearing. Complementing this is his disdain for modernity and his claim that we can control climate change by using the techniques of the “old people”, as he refers to them, thus “calming the bush down”.

He has admirers aplenty. Such is their effusiveness, you could say Pascoe is the Tom Jones of historians. To his detractors, he is a revisionist and fantasist. Writing for the Weekend Australian Magazine in May this year, journalist Richard Guilliatt observed “many academic experts also believe Dark Emu romanticises pre-contact indigenous society as an Eden of harmony and pacifism, when in fact it was often a brutally tough survivalist way of life”. But as Guilliatt also noted, there is a reluctance in academia to make public these criticisms given the author’s popularity and aboriginality.

If you think that is too much of a stretch, remember that this year the University of NSW’s science faculty distributed guidelines to lecturers, warning them that it was “inappropriate” to specify an estimate of when the first human migration to Australia occurred. Instead, staff were told it was “more appropriate” to say Aboriginals have been here “since the beginning of the Dreaming/s”, as this “reflects the beliefs of many Indigenous Australians that they have always been in Australia, from the beginning of time, and came from the land’’.

That a science faculty would resort to this is ridiculous. While some studies estimate that Aboriginals have been here for as long as 65,000 years, the conservative estimate is 50,000 years ago. You would think then that any public figure who claimed it took place 120,000 years ago would be asked to justify that estimate. Yet I know of at least three occasions this year when Pascoe has repeated that claim when interviewed by an ABC presenter, none of whom even so much as sought clarification.

The ABC’s political correspondent, Andrew Probyn wrote this month that Dark Emu “demolish(es) the myth that Australia at the time of white settlement was a wilderness occupied by merely hunter gatherers”. ABC presenter Wendy Harmer referred to Pascoe as an “oracle”, and chief political writer Annabel Crabb tweeted admiringly regarding Dark Emu: “I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much from one slim volume”. Another ABC presenter, Benjamin Law, said “reading it should be a prerequisite to non-Indigenous citizenship”. Just this month RN Drive host Patricia Karvelas concluded an interview with Pascoe with a fawning endorsement of the book, urging listeners to buy it. “Just do it now,” she stated.

If scholarly authenticity in the fields of history and anthropology were determined by the number of “oohs” and “aahs” uttered into an ABC microphone, Dark Emu would be nothing short of magisterial. In reality, such recognition is properly realised only through sources that are both primary and verifiable. Even then, the mere inclusion of this material is nothing more than window dressing if the analysis and conclusions are far removed from those sources. The “feel-good” factor should never be a criterion in such evaluations.

Those giving accolades to Pascoe seem oblivious to the many instances, particularly on the website Dark Emu Exposed, where readers have highlighted stark inconsistencies regarding what appears in his claims and what is outlined in the respective primary source. Peter O’Brien, a Quadrant magazine contributor and retired military officer, has written a book “Bitter Harvest: The Illusion of Aboriginal Agriculture in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu” highlighting what he claims are Pascoe’s omissions, mischaracterisations, and distortions.

The stoush has been described as a resumption of the history wars, a term I think unhelpful, for it leads to much distraction in fruitlessly arguing solely about the motives of historians. If anything, and for once I am not being facetious, the modern historian’s role is in one way analogous to that of today’s comedian. Both professions now operate according to the woke expectation that practitioners must always “punch up”, never down. A historian can be sure of at least a favourable reception, as in Pascoe’s case, if he or she promotes and defends the wretched at the expense of a so-called privileged demographic.

To do the reverse, however, is taboo. Many of you will remember the furore that erupted in 2002 following the release of historian and now Quadrant editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle’s book “The Fabrication of Aboriginal History: Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847”. Taking issue with many historians, Windschuttle disputed the theory that indigenous Tasmanians were the subject of genocide, arguing they had succumbed largely through introduced diseases. He also dismissed the romantic theory that the original inhabitants had engaged in “guerrilla warfare” against Europeans, stating their attacks were motivated by a desire for tea, sugar and flour.

To question the narrative was unforgivable, but what made it worse in the eyes of leftist academics was that Windschuttle both exposed and embarrassed many a historian by forensically analysing their footnotes. What he demonstrated was both revelatory and disconcerting. Historians had inflated the figures of killings, misquoted colonial administrators to give the appearance of malevolent intent towards Aboriginals, and even listed as sources local newspapers that had not yet existed at the time of the historical incidents in question.

The response from the historical establishment was both defensive and risible. As reported by The Australian’s Ean Higgins in 2004, the Australian Historical Association even discussed enacting a code of ethics to prevent historians from criticising their peers’ integrity in public. One academic described his astonishment at the “pack mentality” of his fellow historians. “It was like ‘let’s get a group of people together to ambush Windschuttle’,” he stated.

The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen wrote nearly 10 years ago to this day of visiting the National Gallery of Victoria and seeing an exhibition surrounded by a fence. In the confines pasted individually on the floor were the 472 pages of Windschuttle’s book. The work, by artist Julie Gough, was designed for visitors to walk over the exhibition and thus, in her words, “blacken and erase this text”. As Albrechtsen states, this was an example of “the Left’s addiction to emotion, feel-good symbolism and an infantile rejection of facts as heresy”.

Despite the many misgiving concerning Pascoe’s research and findings, Dark Emu shows every sign of being regarded as the most authoritative text in its field. Whether it be apathy or pusillanimity, our public institutions accept without question his conclusions, irrespective of the anomalies, or how ludicrous his premises. Only last year Pascoe wrote “Almost no Australians know anything about the Aboriginal civilisation because our educators, emboldened by historians, politicians and the clergy, have refused to mention it for 230 years” – a claim that can only be described as a conspiracy theory.

Indigenous and non-indigenous Australian students alike are entitled to a history curriculum based on fact, whether the subject matter is triumphs, tragedies or atrocities. To have it any other way is a politicisation of the discipline. It is time Pascoe responded to his critics. Only then can readers decide whether Dark Emu is historical fact or a flight of fancy.


ASX200 hits new all-time high

PM Morrison take a bow

The Australian share market has hit a fresh intraday all-time high in early trading before fading a bit in the afternoon.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index traded as high as 6,869.5 points before closing on Thursday at 6,864, up 13.4 points, or 0.2 per cent, from Wednesday.

The broader All Ordinaries was up 15 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,965.6 points - also a record.


NSW Labor Leader: Shorten Daylight Saving Time To Fight Climate Change

Labor leader Jodi McKay has lobbied the NSW government to consider a request made by one of her constituents that daylight saving be shortened to help combat climate change.

In the letter sent by the Strathfield MP to Energy Minister Matt Kean, Ms McKay writes that her constituent "advises that daylight saving time in NSW had made last summer too hot for walking in Hammond Park, her local park, at 8pm as the temperature at that time remained at the 40°C mark".

"[The constituent] has requested the duration of the daylight saving period in NSW be shortened as it has a significant impact on climate change," Ms McKay wrote on October 11. "I await your consideration and response on this matter."

Daylight saving has been a fraught issue since being introduced in 1971, with multiple referendums in Queensland and Western Australia rejecting the arrangement.

Over the years, critics have attributed the change of time to a fall in robberies, increased petrol sales, a jump in heart attacks, less milk being produced by cows and faster fading curtains.

There are also various studies that show the change in time leads to higher or lower energy use.

A spokesman for Ms McKay said it was not her view that daylight saving should be changed. "Strathfield has a diverse community with a wide variety of views," he said. "It is the job of the local member to represent those views to government without judgment ... she will never apologise for making sure that members of her community have their concerns heard."

Mr Kean, who is in London, declined to comment.

Without daylight saving, which begins on the first Sunday of October and continues until the first Sunday in April, the sun would rise in Sydney between 4.30am in summer and 7am in winter.

Ms McKay's constituent is not alone in calling for the daylight saving period to be shortened. Adam Marshall, now the Agriculture Minister, told the Moree Champion in 2015 that he would propose cutting the first and last months of the daylight saving period.

"While it's not in my top two or three burning issues, it's an old chestnut, but it's a real burr in the saddle and it grates for many of my constituents," he said at the time.

Despite the Strathfield electorate resident's concern, and numerous university studies, there appears to be no strong connection between daylight saving and climate change.

A 2011 study published in The Review of Economics and Statistics found daylight saving time increased the social cost of pollution emissions by up to $US5.5 million that year. Another paper, published in the journal Energy Policy in the same year, found energy had been saved in southern Norway and Sweden.

Earlier research by two University of California, Berkeley, academics — which focused on Sydney during the 2000 Olympics — decided there was no effect on energy consumption whatsoever.


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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