Sunday, April 30, 2023

Customers hit back at new dining trend taking over Aussie restaurants

I find mobile phones very tedious so use them or anything like them only to a minimum. So I object to ordering food by using one. Unless I can order from a person, I walk out. That usually makes the place back down. But if not there are thousands of other places to eat. Quality of life matters

They were an ubiquitous presence at cafes, restaurants and bars during the pandemic, but love them or loathe them, industry insiders say QR ordering is here to stay.

While some expected it to fade away as the pandemic dissolved and check-ins were no longer relevant, the opposite has actually been true.

Not everyone is a fan. In fact many people appear downright hostile to QR ordering and restaurants and cafe’s not providing physical menus.

Social media is filled with people raging against it.

One person wrote on an angst-ridden Reddit stream that they just “hate it”.

“I hate paying for dinner on my phone,’ the person complained. “I hate navigating through menus to find food.”

Another said they disliked being forced to “give every-f***ing-detail about myself or sign up”, while another observed “having phones out was a terrible way to start dinner together”.

While one person claimed they often go to the counter and refuse to do it or threaten to go elsewhere: “I haven’t had anyone let me leave yet”.

Others pointed out it isn’t practical for some.

“My grandparents never really got onto the smart phones (and with dementia it’s not the time to start) and I have a friend who has fine motor skill issues so he struggles to control the scrolling function that’s required,” one person explained.

“It’s embarrassing for them to have the menu read to them or to have others decide what they have because they can’t use a menu in that format.”

Another noted it was difficult for families with kids with “everyone is fighting over mums phone to see what they can order”.

Despite not all Aussies being a fan of the new system, Square, which provides a range of technology for restaurants and other industries, says QR codes are here to stay saying sellers were increasingly turning to tech to run their business.

“QR code ordering has definitely become mainstream for restaurants,” said Colin Birney, head of business development at Square in Australia.

“As cost-of-doing-business pressures remain and staff shortages continue, restaurants are seeing technology as a non-negotiable and a way to find efficiency gains and unlock new ways to sell.”


Mum-and-dad landlords sell up amid housing reforms

Thousands of mum-and-dad landlords are selling off their rental properties in response to state Labor governments’ strengthening of renter protections and increasing interest rates, with the threat of more changes on the horizon.

New data from PropTrack has revealed a spike in the number of investors cashing out of the market, with sales remaining notably higher than pre-Covid levels for the past two years.

It comes as Anthony Albanese secured the support of state and territory leaders on Friday for changes to strengthen “renters’ rights” on a national level and committing an extra $2bn in the May budget for 7000 more ­affordable homes.

The nation’s housing ministers will present policy options to help renters by the end of the year, with the group set to examine programs regulating landlord decisions on the size and frequency of rent increases.

“What will occur over coming months is looking at different programs that are in place … Some of those are around the frequency of any rent increase that can occur. In at least one jurisdiction’s case, it’s also over the amount that can occur of any increase,” the Prime Minister said in Brisbane.

Leading investors and real estate experts on Friday warned Mr Albanese that governments had disincentivised “demonised” landlords who provide the markets with millions of homes, and further change threatens to shake confidence in the wider property market.

Fewer landlords have been in the buying market since 2017 when numbers peaked, which has caused the rental pool nationally to shrink. With fewer homes and heightened local and migrant demand, asking rents in Australia’s capital cities have surged $80 a week on average in the past 12 months to sit at a weekly rate of $520 as vacancy rates hover at 1.5 per cent – half of what is considered a “healthy” level.

PropTrack’s director of economic research Cameron Kusher said it had become much harder for investors to park their money in property.

“Investors are charged higher interest rates, borrowing capacities have reduced quite dramatically because interest rates have risen so fast so quickly and it is generally less attractive for investors,” he said.

Landlords have become the main target of government policies aimed at providing relief to tenants facing rapidly rising rents and intense competition.

National cabinet on Friday agreed to develop a plan with housing ministers from each state and territory to strengthen housing growth and rental rights across the country, while also increasing housing supply.

Founder of investment buyers agency Propertyology Simon Pressley said investors were sick of being demonised by governments and were choosing to put their money elsewhere. “Investing in real estate is an enormous financial outlay, so you’re not going to put out this big financial decision unless you’ve got confidence,” Mr Pressley said.

“We’ve had eight years of a heck of a lot of regulatory change, all of which has been targeted at causing harm to the investor.”

Real Estate Institute of Australia president Hayden Groves agreed that a strategically aligned approach to tenancy laws between jurisdictions was productive but urged an examination of supports rather than targeting landlords. “There’s been successive housing policies that are all looking to disincentivise this very, very important cohort of the investor pool that is continuing to supply Australians with homes,” he said.

The Greens put the removal of negative gearing and two-year rental caps back on the table this week by withholding support for the federal government’s $10bn housing bill. Over the past two years, state governments have sought to introduce rental reform. NSW will soon introduce no-grounds evictions, following Victoria, which introduced the same policy in 2021 alongside a suite of changes. Queensland also recently brought in once-a-year rental increases after rolling back proposed land tax changes.

Mr Pressley said: “We don’t go and punish the farmers because the cost of the produce goes up; the cost of rent has gone up because we don’t have enough supply of rental accommodation.”

Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins also announced on Friday that May’s budget would look to increase housing supply, with extra funds and taxation changes for the development of build-to-rent projects, which was supported by the Property Council of Australia and Master Builders Australia.

Governments have been selling off social housing stock for decades, said Mr Kusher.

In the 1981 census, a quarter of renters were living in a government-provided home, with that number falling to 8 per cent today. He said increased housing stock – whether privately owned or commercial – would help to ease the escalation in rent.


University of Queensland forced to apologise over ‘white privilege’ medical assignment

The University of Queensland has been forced to apologise and scrap the results of a controversial “white privilege” medical assignment after students feared they could be expelled for failing.

First year UQ medical students had been asked to write about their own “white privilege” and institutional racism in a two-part assignment.

The Sunday Mail understands when students received their grades last week the majority of the cohort received a fail mark.

One medical student told The Sunday Mail, on the condition of anonymity, they believed the ones who had passed had effectively lied about admitting to being racist.

“The people who did well have frankly lied, they played into the notion that they’re racist, even if they’re not,” they said.

Following backlash from the medical cohort, the prestigious university has been forced to apologise and remove the results of the assignment from end-of-year grades.

Prior to the decision, students had been concerned that the university was at liberty to expel them from the program if they failed.

The medical student said that the passing grade on the assignment was required for an overall passing grade of the year.

The student said the cohort had feared that a fail on this subject could be the difference between getting an overall high distinction or a distinction which could impact postgraduate employment.

“UQ has a very good reputation internationally but students with all As in assignments are looked at better than B,” they said prior to UQ’s announcement. “You could be the best doctor in the world but fail on this.”

A UQ spokeswoman said there was no suggestion that students could be expelled for failing the assignment as the university took a “whole of approach” to progression.

The spokeswoman did not respond to questions about how many students failed the exam.

A leaked email from UQ’s dean of medical school Professor Stuart Carney to students, seen by the Sunday Mail, confirmed the results of the assignment had been removed from the final component.


Albanese is making life harder for mainstream Australians

He is hitting people from all angles

While Australians were ensconced in the Easter long weekend, the Albanese government announced that would not be extending the low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) in the upcoming budget.

LMITO was stage one in a three-phase tax reduction plan legislated by the previous government.

This revelation should not come as a surprise as the current policy agenda of the federal government is making the livelihoods of mainstream Australians more difficult. Everything from tax policy, red tape, and immigration to energy policy is making life harder for mainstream Australians.

This tax rise could not come at a worse time for Australian families struggling with the crippling cost-of-living crisis, a housing crisis, and inflation all contributing to a lowering of our standard of living. Analysis aired by Channel Nine revealed that the LMITO tax hike will take up to $1,500 from the back pockets of lower- and middle-income Australians.

It also follows the federal government abandonment of a promise to reduce household energy bills by $275 a year.

While considering energy, research by the Institute of Public Affairs previously found that the emission reduction policies pursued by the federal government will prevent the creation of approximately half a million jobs, the majority of which being in regional Australia.

Worse still, Australian households can expect retail electricity prices to double by the end of the decade due to the implementation of these policies.

Increasing household electricity prices have been accompanied by a shortage of houses themselves, which has driven an increase in their purchase value. This shortage is set to exacerbate with the recent announcement that there will be an increase in immigration of over 650,000 people over the next two years.

The federal government have justified this massive increase in immigration because of the unprecedented worker shortages in Australia. Yet, in a rush to open the front gate to new arrivals, absolutely no consideration has been given to what is going on in our own backyard.

IPA research has found this worker shortage could be alleviated by reducing red tape faced by pensioners, veterans, and students who wish to enter the labour force but cannot because of prohibitive tax and social security penalties.

This red tape is costing Australia $32 billion in forgone wages alone, all of which could be going into the back pocket of Australians.

Instead of increasing taxes on Australians who are already working, the government should increase the amount of Australians working and paying tax.

While it has been argued by some economists that the abolishment of the LMITO is a good idea as it would sure up the budget bottom line, this argument falls flat considering the Albanese government is being cajoled into bailing out the fiscally irresponsible Andrews government. A move that will only increase inflationary pressures.

Increasing taxes on the lower and middle classes is not the solution to budget constraints, especially during a cost-of-living crisis.

This tax increase is a hammer blow to the livelihoods of 10 million hard-working Australians, and should be a wake-up call to the rest of the population, with stage three tax cuts to people earning between $45,000 and $200,000 potentially next in line.

The political class must realign their values and promote policies that help lower- and middle-income Australians. Fixing the budget, providing reliable energy, and ensuring Australians keep more of their own money should all be mission-critical for the government and the opposition.

This can be achieved by reversing the emission reduction policies pursued by the Albanese government, lowering taxes on mainstream Australians, and reducing red tape in the labour market to allow more Australians to work.

Everyday Australians need a way out of the crises that are crippling our way of life, failing that then there is a very real risk then this cost-of-living crisis could very much become the norm.




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