Thursday, June 09, 2022

‘I rent because I choose to have my money working harder in other places’

Wow! How poorly advised can you get? See below. The only way of making enough money to have an independent income is usually via real estate. I too come from a humble background but real estate allowed me to retire at age 39

When personal trainer Brando Hasick catches up with friends, he is often the one who brings up the subject of money.

“I can’t help it. I like surrounding myself with people who are doing interesting things with their money,” he says.

“When we’re out for dinner, I find it fascinating to hear their approach to making it work for them. It’s how I learn,” he says.

The 29-year-old Sydneysider’s ultimate dream is to establish a passive income stream – maybe shares that pay good dividends – that will set him up financially for life. He hopes it would enable him to retire early. “It would be nice to think that working is a choice,” he says.

Brando has a savings account, a transaction account and another as a means for stashing some cash away to pay any additional tax requirements. He admits to being a diligent saver.

He rents an apartment that he shares with partner Aisha and their baby Rupert. It provides him with greater liquidity to make a move – if he sees a good investment opportunity.

‘We always had what we needed, but there wasn’t much left over.’

“I rent because I choose to have my money working harder in other places”, he says

Brando has always been determined to be financially independent, even paying mentors to teach him the tricks of business. One charged $6000 to impart their knowledge, but he didn’t flinch. “I saw it as an investment in my future,” he says.

However, learning financial lessons has come at a cost: He lost more than $75,000 in a failed business attempt. “That experience definitely made me systemise things better, which has probably been a silver lining for me,” he says.

‘Being careful with money was drilled into me’

Brando grew up in a working-class family in Sydney’s western suburbs, which spurred him on to work hard and seek out financial independence. “We always had what we needed, but there wasn’t much left over,” he says.

By his teens, he was working in a fast-food restaurant and managed to save up to 50 per cent of his pay while trying to figure out what to do with it long term. This meant that when he was offered the chance to live in the UK for six months as part of his tertiary education, he was able to jump at the opportunity, using $30,000 in savings to cover living expenses.

When he returned to Australia, he moved into an apartment with a friend. He worked as a personal trainer, launching a side hustle in his backyard a year later.

Brando has been an investor in cryptocurrency for a few years, and also bought shares. Ultimately, he would like to help his parents financially. “They’ve always been there for me, and I’d like to be able to be there for them,” he says.


Submarine realism at last

Defence was working on a plan before the election to purchase two Virginia-class nuclear-­powered submarines from the US by 2030 – at least a decade before their scheduled arrival if they were built in Australia.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who was defence minister three weeks ago, says he came to the view that the American submarine was the best option for Australia, and believes the US government would sell Australia the boats off its Connecticut production line.

The disclosure is the first ­concrete insight into the work of Defence’s high-level nuclear submarine taskforce, led by navy Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead.

It’s understood preliminary discussions on the option were held with the US government, which would also have to supply submariners to serve on the vessels to train Australian personnel.

The plan would, if successful, eliminate a feared capability gap following the retirement of the Collins-class submarines from 2038. Writing in the The Australian, Mr Dutton says the option is “laid out” for new Defence Minister Richard Marles, and makes an interim “Son of Collins” submarine “unfeasible”.

If it went ahead with the option, the Coalition would have pledged to build a further eight boats in Adelaide, as originally envisaged, lifting the planned acquisition to a total of 10 nuclear-powered submarines.

Mr Dutton, who hinted before the election of a plan to fast-track the nuclear-powered submarine program, says it “became obvious” to him that Australia should opt for the US Virginia-class boats under the trilateral AUKUS partnership with the US and UK.

The prospect of securing two Virginias within the next eight years was key to Mr Dutton’s preference for the US design.

“I believed it possible to negotiate with the Americans to ­acquire, say, the first two submarines off the production line out of Connecticut,” he writes.

“This wouldn’t mean waiting until 2038 for the first submarine to be built here in Australia. We would have our first two subs this decade. I had formed a judgment the Americans would have facilitated exactly that.”

Mr Dutton says the Albanese government should “continue to encourage the Americans to base some of their Virginia class subs here in our waters”.

“Again, I believe this is achievable and should be pursued vigorously,” he says.

Unlike Britain’s Astute-class submarine, the Virginia has vertical missile-launch tubes, and is a “mature design”, with 22 completed and another 44 on order.

As production of the Astute is due to end in the UK after seven submarines, Mr Dutton says ­selecting a British boat would mean signing on to a “first-in-class design”, with inevitable time and cost blowouts.

Mr Dutton says Australia could purchase more Hunter-class frigates or other British made hardware to “honour and respect” the UK’s role in the AUKUS partnership.

Mr Marles told The Australian this week that plugging the anticipated submarine capability gap was his most urgent priority. He said he was “completely open-minded” about the potential options, declaring it was too early to be drawn on whether an interim “Son of Collins” or some other capability could plug the gap.

Mr Dutton says more Collins boats would be “easily detectable and inoperable” by the time they get in the water, and “Australia doesn’t have the construction workforce, let alone the crew capability to run three classes of submarines”.

“I am speaking out on this topic because Labor is on the cusp of making a very dangerous decision which would clearly be against our national security interests,” Mr Dutton writes.

Vice-Admiral Mead’s taskforce is midway through its 18-month study to determine how Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

The process, due for completion in about March next year, will identify a preferred design, develop plans for building and crewing the submarines, and examine the regulatory and infrastructure requirements for basing nuclear submarines in Australia.

Mr Dutton told the ABC’s Insiders program in March that the anticipated 2040 timeline for the arrival of the first nuclear submarine could be brought forward, with details on design and construction to be announced “within a couple of months”. He later told Sky News he believed the first subs could be acquired “much sooner” than expected, avoiding the need for an interim conventionally powered boat.

Mr Marles told Nine Newspapers this week that the projected submarine delivery schedule under the Coalition was “more likely to be in the mid-2040s”.

Mr Dutton says Australia needs nuclear-powered because “diesel-electric submarines would not be able to compete against the Chinese in the South China Sea beyond 2035”. His successor said the Albanese government was “completely committed to doing what is required” to deliver eight nuclear submarines, including providing the necessary funding.

“We have got to make this work,” Mr Marles told The Australian.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute says building eight nuclear boats in Australia could cost $117bn to $171bn, with extra regulatory and infrastructure costs potentially adding tens of billions of dollars to the bill.


The dismal history of bushfire prevention

We once knew how

Three consecutive extreme summers accompanied the Settlement Drought of 1790-93. Masses of flying foxes and lorikeets dropped dead in Parramatta during three days of blistering northwesterly gales with temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius. Aboriginal fires were burning 24/7 but there were no fire disasters.

Our first megafire, around 1820, established the Great Scrub of South Gippsland after Aboriginal burning was disrupted by a 1789 smallpox epidemic. Following European occupation, five million hectares of Victoria exploded in the Black Thursday disaster of 1851. The Strzelecki Ranges were incinerated again on Red Tuesday 1898.

When the Highlands were set alight in extreme weather on Black Friday 1939. Fourteen large fires in East Gippsland did little damage because the land was managed by grazing and burning. In 1961, four towns in Western Australia were destroyed by the Dwellingup fires. Foresters woke up, reintroduced broad area burning, and developed aerial ignition techniques. Bega was saved from disaster in the horrendous 1968 fires by prior aerial burning in what is now wilderness to the northwest.

In the 1970s, ecologists had a dream that species that thrived through about 40,000 years of Aboriginal burning would be wiped out by mild fires. Prescribed burning was reduced and the Hume-Snowy Bushfire Prevention Scheme was disbanded.

In 2003, lightning strikes started many fires in and around Kosciuszko National Park. Fires in managed areas outside the park were all rounded up within three days. Fires in the park went on to destroy nearly 500 homes in Canberra and claim four human lives.

The parliamentary inquiry into A Nation Charred took evidence from land managers and:

‘Heard a consistent message right around Australia:- there has been grossly inadequate hazard reduction burning on public lands for far too long; local knowledge and experience is being ignored by an increasingly top heavy bureaucracy.’

A dissenting report relied heavily on information from Professor Robert Whelan of Wollongong University who claimed that ‘broad scale hazard reduction is threatening biodiversity conservation and must therefore be avoided by land managers and resisted at a political level’.

South-eastern bureaucracies boycotted the Nairn Inquiry and set up a Council of Australian Governments Inquiry under an emergency manager, Professor Whelan, and another professor. They gave us ‘learning to live with bushfires’ – education, emergency response, and evacuation instead of sustainable fire management.

Since COAG 2004, more than 200 people have been killed in bushfires.

Whelan set up a bushfire ‘research’ industry at Wollongong University which eventually became the core of NSW Bushfire Research Hub. The academics made models supposedly showing that prescribed burning doesn’t work in the southeast because it’s biogeographically different from the southwest, where 60 years of real data have proved its effectiveness. They said that, in any case, prior burning has no effect under extreme conditions.

The long-term operational data from Western Australia show that burning is ineffective unless a minimum of around 9 per cent of the landscape is treated each year. The effects last up to six years. So prescribed burning is effective when at least half the landscape is being maintained. In the southeast, the figure has been around 1 per cent per annum. The real data also show that the positive effects of maintenance apply particularly in severe seasons, by preventing the development of unstoppable firestorms.

Authorities in the southeast use models to target the miniscule amount of prescribed burning around the edges of suburbia. They are, in effect, creating supposed firebreaks. The scientific and historical evidence is crystal clear that firebreaks, fire engines, and waterbombers can’t stop firestorms coming from unmanaged land. The world record Gospers Mountain fire of half a million hectares started from one lightning strike in the Wollemi Wilderness.

After Black Summer, NSW’s Bushfire Inquiry took advice from the Bushfire Research Hub. I will not attend the International Fire & Climate Conference set to be held on 7-9th June 2022, but I think one of the highlights must surely be this presentation by Professor Ross Bradstock, the Founder and, until recently, Director of the Research Hub: The role of science in the bushfire-inquiry cycle: a case study from the 2019/20 fire season.

It will be impossible for attendees to miss the Keynote Address by Mr. Greg Mullins, Climate Councillor and Founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action: Climate and fire – learnings from the political interface.


Lockdown disasters: We told you so

Not for the first time – and certainly not for the last, we can assure you – The Spectator Australia has been shown to have been prescient and astute in its analysis when all around us were heading in the opposite direction. That the knowledge that we belled the cat early on and against the orthodoxy comes with a degree of satisfaction is self-evident, but it also comes tinged with genuine unease. Why on earth does what appears to be common sense to so many of our writers and readers fly in the face of the accepted media and political dogma of the day?

In this instance, and it is by no means a solitary example, we now learn from a variety of respected and reputable sources that the draconian lockdowns we repeatedly railed against in these pages may have done more harm than good – quelle surprise! – including untold medical damage out of all proportion to their claimed successes. Worse, lockdowns may even have led to the deaths of thousands of young people who were never at risk from the virus in the first place. Indeed, one US study reports 170,000 surplus deaths amongst people in the prime of their lives (18-44) who were of low risk from Covid.

This disgraceful news was conveyed to an astonished world via the Australian newspaper this week along with numerous other sources.

Yet twelve months ago Dr David Adler, in his column in these pages entitled ‘Lockdown needs a slapdown’, was predicting this very outcome.

For the first time I deeply fear for the future of my country. This fear arises not from existential threats and challenges but because Australia is being trashed by incompetent control freak leadership which has also succeeded in severely scaring much of our citizenship. Panic rules the day.

Melbourne with over six months cumulative lockdown already holds the world record for the most locked down city and we’ve seen other cities locked down for a handful of community cases. Our state premiers are the world’s most reactionary in imposing panic lockdowns. The PM has signalled this is to continue.

There has been a complete loss of proportionality with Australian lockdowns doing much more harm than good and based on international data and experience, we now have impossible policy settings to sustain if we want life to return to normality. Our situation could now be described in the Eagles classic hit ‘Hotel California’, ‘you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave’.

The damage being done by lockdowns in smashing small businesses, disruption of education for kids, mental health problems including rise in self-harm and suicides, deferred routine health services resulting in delayed diagnoses of cancer and other illnesses – far exceed the harm caused by the virus. Australia may experience a wave of additional morbidity and mortality in the next few years due to cancers not being detected in 2020 and 2021 at Stage 1, but once they have spread to Stage 3 or 4. This could well affect thousands of patients.

Pursuing the lockdown and zero-case policy will do untold economic, health and lifestyle damage to Australians.

That is just part of Dr Adler’s article from a year ago. Several other Speccie writers, but most notably Rebecca Weisser and Ramesh Thakur, have throughout the two years of the pandemic, often on a weekly basis, provided insights, analysis, facts and warnings regarded as heresy by the left wokerati. Indeed, both have must-read articles in this week’s magazine, including a terrific – and terrifying – piece on excess mortality and the vaccines by Ms Weisser.

As the editor of The Spectator Australia, my commitment to you is that we will never flinch in providing you with well-researched and informed opinion that quite often upsets those in positions of power and flies in the face of the politically correct dictates of the day. And yes, there is a word for that, too. It’s called journalism.


Poor to suffer as the climate wars bite

As Woke South Australian politicians last week declared a ‘climate emergency’, the reality of Australia’s ill-thought-out climate policy is biting families and businesses.

Regulators are warning of a shortage of gas and the possibility of electricity blackouts for no other reason than bad politics.

The Australian reports:

‘Regulators have warned Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania face potential gas shortages while power supplies in NSW and Queensland will be stretched over the next 24 hours, as (Treasurer) Jim Chalmers declared the economy confronted a “perfect storm’’ of energy price spikes.’

Our nation is blessed with some of the world’s most abundant reserves of energy, yet some people may not be able to heat their homes this winter and all of us are paying through the nose.

How did it come to this?

The answer lies in the shutting down of discussion on climate policy. This censorship has been as ruthless and premature as the shutting of coal-fired power stations which have not been replaced with a suitable or stable generating capacity.

Regardless of where one sits in the debate about the impact of small quantities of human-generated CO2 joining the vast array of naturally occurring CO2 in the atmosphere, it is an incontrovertible fact that our energy policies are driving prices through the roof and reliability through the floor.

Meanwhile, China keeps opening new coal-fired power stations, emitting more CO2 every 16 days than Australia’s entire annual contribution.

This will not stop any time soon.

Even our chief scientist said Australia’s contribution could not influence the temperature of the planet, yet politicians are happy for some pensioners to freeze this winter because they can’t afford their rising utility bills.

For sure, the war in Ukraine is having an impact on global prices, but that is driving the United Kingdom and Europe back to cheaper and more reliable fossil fuels while Australia jettisons reliable energy sources without a viable replacement plan.

The LNP’s Matt Canavan was not wrong to observe that Net Zero, as a policy aim in Europe, is dead.

Reality bites.

The UK is re-thinking plans to close coal mines because windmills and solar panels can’t do the job.

At this crucial moment for energy security, Australians from rich suburbs (who are largely insulated from rising electricity and gas prices) have populated our Parliament with un-costed demands to close fossil fuel generating capacity.

There is no consideration of, or debate about, the consequences.

What happens if there’s not enough power after the premature closures? They don’t know. Mumbling something about ‘battery storage’ isn’t going to cut it when the lights go out.

Even the new Nationals leader, David Littleproud, is turning Teal as out-going leader Barnaby Joyce now admits that Net Zero is not a realistic objective.

He wrote on Facebook this week:

‘Climate policy affects how much is in your wallet and this is becoming more and more evident each day. The question is, are you willing to pay the price for the policy?

When you pay for your power, you are paying for a 2050 target, when you pay for your petrol, you are paying for a 2050 target, when you buy groceries, you are paying for a 2050 target. Some people cannot afford the extra cost of a 2050 target and a 2030 target will massively exacerbate this. These people must be heard.

The nation cannot shut down its major exports, such as coal, gas, live cattle and sheep, losing hundreds of billions of export dollars and associated taxes, but still expect to have the same money for health, education, the NDIS, roads, communication, the arts and defence.’

It’s a shame he wasn’t writing this on Facebook when he was cajoling the Nationals Party room to get on board with Net Zero before then Prime Minister jetted off to the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow last year.

Discussions of ‘green’ policy consequences have not formed part of the election discourse. Politicians sadly kowtow to politically correct and Woke orthodoxy rather than telling us the truth – afraid it would lose them the votes of young apocalyptic ideologues.

But these energy shortages and price hikes are our moment of truth in what was a completely avoidable crisis.

We all want to help the environment, but we need a truthful debate about the costs versus the benefits.

To get that, we must put principled and courageous people in our parliaments.




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