Showing posts with label Wealth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wealth. Show all posts

Thursday, 28 June 2018

So that champion of silvertails Malcolm Bligh Turnbull thinks mentioning his wealth in public is a form of class warfare?


“They want to attack me having a quid…They want to attack me and Lucy for working hard, investing, having a go, making money, paying plenty of tax, giving back to the community." [Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, The Guardian, 25 June 2018]

“The honourable member has asked about my investments, which are set out in the members' interests disclosure….. If honourable members opposite want to start a politics-of-envy campaign about it, I don't think they'll be telling people anything they don't know.”  
[Malcolm Bligh TurnbullHansard25 June 2018]

“It has embraced the politics of envy and class war”;
[Malcolm Bligh Turnbull speaking about the parliamentary Labor PartyHansard25 June 2018]

“He says I'm a snob." [Malcolm Bligh Turnbull speaking about Labor leader Bill Shorten, Hansard, 19 June 2018]

I can’t speak for anybody else. However I would gladly “attack” the vainglorious Malcolm Bligh Turnbull - not for being wealthy but on the basis that:

(i) during his time practising law he was allegedly not above abusing the legal process, a judge stating in 1984 that he “managed effectively to poison the fountain of justice”;

(ii) he reportedly made millions from the logging industry in the Solomon Islands in the early 1990s – when Hong Kong-listed Axiom Forest Resources of which he was chair virtually clear-felled its holdings and, whose logging practises were considered "amongst the worst in the world";

(iii) he was at the centre of Australia’s biggest corporate failure to date in 2001, as chairman of investment bank Goldman Sachs Australia, and many ordinary working class people lost everything while he walked away virtually unscathed;

(iv) as Water Minister in the Howard Government in 2007 he wanted to wreck water sustainability in the Clarence River catchment area on the NSW Far North Coast in order to satisfy Liberal-Nationals supporters in the Murray-Darling Basin;

(v) as an independently wealthy federal minister in 2007 Malcolm Turnbull was submitting claims to the Dept. of Finance for $175 accommodation costs per night while in Canberra even though he was staying at an ACT residence owned by his wife and, until he was caught out in 2014 also submitted claims of $10 per night if his wife came to stay at his ACT penthouse;

(vi) as chair and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia and partner in New York-based Gold Sachs and Co. from 1998 to 2001, he helped lay some of the early building blocks for the Global Financial Crisis;

(vii) his political judgement was so poor that, after meeting then public servant and Liberal Party supporter Godwin Grech in private on or about 12 June 2009, he asserted to parliament on 22 June that a forged email was a true document in an effort to bring down the government of the day; 

(viii) he and his government opposed any real wage increase for workers on the minimum wage in a submission to the Fair Work Commission and went on to actively support a cut to penalty rates – safe in the knowledge that their own parliamentary salaries would increase at fairly regular intervals;

(ix) he resisted the creation of the Banking and Finance Royal Commission and set up terms of reference which sought to nobble that commission;

(x) as Communication’s Minister and then Prime Minister he deliberately wrecked Australia’s hope of having world-class Internet connections;

(xi) he continues to move forward with imposing a punitive cashless welfare payment system on the majority of welfare recipients while also continuing the reduction of funding to vital social services; and

(xii) his first response to any challenge to his world view is to sneer at both the questioner and the content of the question.

An more authentic telling of Malcolm Turnbull’s own ‘poor boy made good’ story

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull went to a public primary school at Vaucluse in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs for about three years. During this period the family income was in the vicinity of £8,700 to £9,700 a year – with his mother earning four times the average female wage as a successful screenwriter.

Then from the age of eight he went to Sydney Grammar School as a border during and after his parent’s divorce proceedings. He received a scholarship for at least part of that time.

When Malcolm was in Year 10, his father bought a luxurious three-bedroom apartment in Point Piper. The apartment had extensive water views and cost Bruce Turnbull est. $36,000. Before that both he and his father had lived in a flat belonging to his mother.

He graduated from university during the years when undergraduate and post-graduate tertiary education was free of course fees in Australia. All this is on the public record.
Malcom Turnbull purchased his first house while still a university undergraduate.

At age 23 he bought a semi-detached house in inner-Sydney Newtown for almost $50,000 and at age 25 he bought a Redfern terrace for $40,000. He bought his own first home as a married man, for an undisclosed sum in Potts Point, after returning from his stint as a Rhodes schlor at Oxford University.

Malcolm Turnbull inherited assets worth an est. $2 million from his hotel-broker father before he turned 29 years of age according to one of his biographers, Paddy Manning.

He went into  a cleaning business with former NSW premier Neville Wran. After the sale of his co-founding interest in IT company Oze Email Ltd for a reported $60 million, he also founded a merchant bank with Nicholas Whitlam, son of the former prime minister (both Packer and Larry Adler gave their financial backing for a short time). 

In 2008 BRW reportedly estimated Malcolm and Lucy's joint wealth as $133 million and, in 2010 he was included in the BRW Rich 200 list for the second year running for having a personal fortune of $186 million. He and his wife Lucy went on to greater wealth which was last jointly estimated to be in the vicinity of $200 million.

His last Statement of Registrable Interests lists a veritable slew of financial investments and an expensive property portfolio shared between he and his wife. 

Malcolm Turnbull’s annual salary as Australia Prime Minister places him in the Top 10 for world leaders and even the most conservative estimation of his total annual income places him in the top 5 per cent in this country.

In the second half of 2016 Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull made a political donation towards the Liberal Party federal election campaign of $1.75 million.

It has been reported that Malcolm Turnbull and his wife give $550,000 annually to charity via the Turnbull Foundationtheir "private ancillary fund" which apparently has a family corporation/s as trustee/s and appears to act as a tax minimisation scheme as the entire $550,000 is potentially 100 per cent tax deductible.

The personal income tax ‘cuts’ recently pass by the Australian Parliament will potentially benefit the Prime Minister, as will the proposed company tax cuts as he owns or co-owns a number of active corporations.

I say potentially, because during the Panama Papers exposé it was revealed that Malcolm Turnbull is not adverse to availing himself of the advantages of international tax havens and likely already pays little tax on much of his financial interests.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

US President Donald Trump's businesses lost $100 million over the past year


In 2005 Donald J. Trump unsuccessfully sued an author who stated that he was not as rich as he claimed to be.

The author had written that Trump was only worth between $150-$250 million.

Over a decade later and his 2016 claim of a fortune in excess of $10 billion is looking a lot like delusional thinking.

The latest assessment is that Trump's net worth is around $2.8 billion, down from $2.9 billion in 2017.

If he continues to lose money at this rate he will probaly leave office a lot poorer than when he came in.

The New York Post31 May 2018:

President Donald Trump’s businesses lost $100 million over the past year, with revenues sinking at Trump Tower and his golf courses — though he’s still a billionaire with a net worth of roughly $2.8 billion.

The drop, his second in two years, was based on figures compiled by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index from lenders, property records, annual reports, market data and a May 16 financial disclosure, the news service reported.

During the same period, his once-hugely marketable brand has also taken a hit as assorted scandals and controversies prompted the owners of buildings from Manhattan to Toronto and Panama stripped his name from their buildings.

The most recent estimate, down from $2.9 billion last June, is the lowest since Bloomberg began tracking Trump’s wealth in 2015.

The biggest declines, totaling $220 million, came from adjacent buildings in midtown Manhattan — 6 E. 57th St., which had housed a Niketown store, and Trump Tower, where lower occupancy resulted in less income.

The Trump Organization’s 16 golf and resort properties also dropped in value, by $70 million, as revenue fell at some courses and gained at others.

Losers included Trump’s Doral, Palm Beach and Mar-a-Lago clubs in Florida, while his courses in Scotland and Ireland posted revenue gains. Annual reports for those overseas properties, which have historically lost money, are expected later this year and will show whether they were profitable.

Overall, the clubs are now worth about $650 million, based on lower valuations across the industry……

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Wealth Inequality in Australia – something to think about



In 2015-16 there were an est. 326,000 to 337,000 households out of 8.9 million households which could be classified as the richest Australian households based on income and/or wealth, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Wealth in this cohort starts at $10 million and rises, with average weekly incomes starting at a little over $5,000.

The Guardian, 18 March 2018:

The richest 20% of Australians hold about 40% of the national income but nearly 65% of the national wealth, and a majority of the wealth is held by those over 55. And our tax system is designed to help them not only keep it, but to garner more and then give it to their children (who then garner more and then give it to their children, who then ...)

Our retirement system is based around tax-free holdings of wealth – through the family home, which is exempt from capital gains tax, and tax-free income from superannuation.

With those exemptions comes revenue forgone, and the cost of paying for our ageing population is an issue that is hitting us square between the eyes.

The prime earning age for workers is between 25 and 54. Between those ages, you are no longer studying, and not really thinking about retirement. These workers not only power much of our production, but also our tax revenue.

And right now the cohort is shrinking.

Currently just 41% of the population is aged between 25 and 54. The last time it was that low was in 1987, when the first baby boomers were entering their 40s.

Back then, it wasn’t a problem because only 10.5% of the population was aged over 65. But now those 40-year-old baby boomers are retiring and those over 65 account for 15.5% of our population.

That jump is the equivalent of about 1.2 million extra people aged over 65 – people who mostly don’t work (and nor should they be expected to), or pay income tax, but whose pensions and services need to be paid for by the revenue derived from those prime-aged workers.

So what is to be done?

You could – as is the government’s current policy – increase the retirement age to 70 (this policy is still on the Department of Human Services website). That might be fine for someone like me typing away at a desk but not for many others.

You could “crack down on welfare cheats”. The problem is, despite protestations from the government and conservative media, there aren’t many of those.

On Friday, the government announced that it had saved $43.4m – $17.8m in this financial year – from “more than 1,000 wealthy welfare cheats”. That’s from a $46.1bn annual budget for Newstart, DSP and Family Tax Benefit (and the aged pension is another $45.4bn).

Or you could, as the ALP is doing, seek to find extra revenue by cutting out rorts that were designed as electoral sweeteners and favours to the Howard-Costello key demographic.

When this imputation cash rebate was introduced, not many were affected but like any good tax rort, accountants soon caught wind. Add in the 2006 decision to make income from superannuation tax free for those over 60, and suddenly you had a lot of people with a high actual income but very low or zero taxable income taking advantage of it.

Further add in this weird belief that the retirement nest egg must not be touched, and you get a lot of idiotic reporting – such as in the Herald Sun, which had the case study of a woman with an income of $160,000, who we should feel sad for because she will lose her $12,775 rebate. She could, of course, sell some of her shares, but that would actually be using superannuation for its purpose and not as a tax-free inheritance fund.

So it is a smart and needed policy, but also a dangerous one because it affects an area shrouded in confusion and thus very much susceptible to fear-mongering……


Friday, 9 March 2018

Two perspectives on global economic and social inequality


So you thought trade agreements were really about win-win free trade?

John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University, Dani Rodrik, excerpts from What Do Trade Agreements Really Do?, February 2018:

As trade agreements have evolved and gone beyond import tariffs and quotas into regulatory rules and harmonization, they have become more difficult to fit into received economic theory. Nevertheless, most economists continue to regard trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) favorably. The default view seems to be that these arrangements get us closer to free trade by reducing transaction costs associated with regulatory differences or explicit protectionism. An alternative perspective is that trade agreements are the result of rent-seeking, self-interested behavior on the part of politically well-connected firms – international banks, pharmaceutical companies, multinational firms. They may result in freer, mutually beneficial trade, through exchange of market access. But they are as likely to produce purely redistributive outcomes under the guise of “freer trade…..

The consensus in favor of the general statement supporting free trade is not a surprise. Economists disagree about a lot of things, but the superiority of free trade over protection is not controversial. The principle of comparative advantage and the case for the gains from trade are crown jewels of the economics profession. So the nearly unanimous support for free trade in principle is understandable. But the almost identical level of enthusiasm expressed for the North American Free trade Agreement—that is, for a text that runs into nearly 2,000 pages, negotiated by three governments under pressures from lobbies and special interests, and shaped by a mix of political, economic, and foreign policy objectives—is more curious. The economists must have been aware that trade agreements, like free trade itself, create winners and losers. But how did they weight the gains and losses to reach a judgement that US citizens would be better off “on average”? Did it not matter who gained and lost, whether they were rich or poor to begin with, or whether the gains and losses would be diffuse or concentrated? What if the likely redistribution was large compared to the efficiency gains? What did they assume about the likely compensation for the losers, or did it not matter at all? And would their evaluation be any different if they knew that recent research suggests NAFTA produced minute net efficiency gains for the US economy while severely depressing wages of those groups and communities most directly affected by Mexican competition?

Perhaps the experts viewed distributional questions as secondary in view of the overall gains from trade. After all, opening up to trade is analogous to technological progress. In both cases, the economic pie expands while some groups are left behind. We did not ban automobiles or light bulbs because coachmen and candle makers would lose their jobs. So why restrict trade? As the experts in this survey contemplated whether US citizens would be better off “on average” as a result of NAFTA, it seems plausible that they viewed questions about the practical details or the distributional questions of NAFTA as secondary in view of the overall gains from trade.

This tendency to view trade agreements as an example of efficiency-enhancing policies that may nevertheless leave some people behind would be more justifiable if recent trade agreements were simply about eliminating restrictions on trade such as import tariffs and quotas. In fact, the label “free trade agreements” does not do a very good job of describing what recent proposed agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and numerous other regional and bilateral trade agreements actually do. Contemporary trade agreements go much beyond traditional trade restrictions at the border. They cover regulatory standards, health and safety rules, investment, banking and finance, intellectual property, labor, the environment, and many other subjects besides. They reach well beyond national borders and seek deep integration among nations rather than shallow integration, to use Robert Lawrence’s (1996) helpful distinction. 

According to one tabulation, 76 percent of existing preferential trade agreements covered at least some aspect of investment (such as free capital mobility) by 2011; 61 percent covered intellectual property rights protection; and 46 percent covered environmental regulations (Limão 2016)…..

Consider first patents and copyrights (so-called “trade-related intellectual property rights” or TRIPs). TRIPs entered the lexicon of trade during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, which were completed in 1994. The US has pushed for progressively tighter rules (called TRIPs-plus) in subsequent regional and bilateral trade agreements. Typically TRIPs pit advanced countries against developing countries, with the former demanding stronger and lengthier monopoly restrictions for their firms in the latter’s markets. Freer trade is supposed to be win-win, with both parties benefiting. But in TRIPs, the advanced countries’ gains are largely the developing countries’ losses. Consumers in the developing nations pay higher prices for pharmaceuticals and other research-intensive products and the advanced countries’ firms reap higher monopoly rents. One needs to assume an implausibly high elasticity of global innovation to developing countries’ patents to compensate for what is in effect a pure transfer of rents from poor to rich countries. That is why many ardent proponents of free trade were opposed to the incorporation of TRIPs in the Uruguay Round (e.g., Bhagwati et al. 2014). Nonetheless, TRIPs rules have not been dropped, and in fact expand with each new FTA. Thanks to subsequent trade agreements, intellectual property protection has become broader and stronger, and much of the flexibility afforded to individual countries under the original WTO agreement has been eliminated (Sell 2011).

Second, consider restrictions on nations’ ability to manage cross-border capital flows. Starting with its bilateral trade agreements with Singapore and Chile in 2003, the US government has sought and obtained agreements that enforce open capital accounts as a rule. These agreements make it difficult for signatories to manage cross-border capital flows, including in short-term financial instruments. In many recent US trade agreements such restrictions apply even in times of macroeconomic and financial crisis. This has raised eyebrows even at the International Monetary Fund (IMF, Siegel 2013). Paradoxically, capital account liberalization has become a norm in trade agreements just as professional opinion among economists was becoming more skeptical about the wisdom of free capital flows. The frequency and severity of financial crises associated with financial globalization have led many experts to believe that direct restrictions on the capital account have a second-best role to complement prudential regulation and, possibly, provide temporary breathing space during moments of extreme financial stress. The IMF itself, once at the vanguard of the push for capital-account liberalization, has officially revised its stance on capital controls. It now acknowledges a useful role for them where more direct remedies for underlying macroeconomic and financial imbalances are not available. Yet investment and financial services provisions in many FTAs run blithely against this new consensus among economists. A third area where trade agreements include provisions of questionable merit is socalled “investor-state dispute settlement procedures” (ISDS). These provisions have been imported into trade agreements from bilateral investment treaties (BIT). They are an anomaly in that they enable foreign investors, and they alone, to sue host governments in special arbitration tribunals and to seek monetary damages for regulatory, tax, and other policy changes that reduce their profits. Foreign investors (and their governments) see ISDS as protection against expropriation, but in practice arbitration tribunals interpret the protections provided more broadly than under, say, domestic US law (Johnson et al., 2015). Developing countries traditionally have signed on to ISDS in the expectation that it would compensate for their weak legal regimes and help attract direct foreign investment. But ISDS also suffers from its own problems: it operates outside accepted legal regimes, gives arbitrators too much power, does not follow or set precedents, and allows no appeal. Whatever the merits of ISDS for developing nations, it is more difficult to justify its inclusion in trade agreements among advanced countries with well-functioning legal systems (e.g. the prospective Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and European countries).

Read the full paper here.

So you thought globalisation was a good idea?

Harvard Business Review, Lucas Chancel, 40 Years of Data Suggests 3 Myths About Globalization, 2 March 2018:

Globalization has led to a rise in global income inequality, not a reduction
Inequality between individuals across the world is the result of two competing forces: inequality between countries and inequality within countries. For example, strong growth in China and India contributed to significant global income growth, and therefore, decreased inequality between countries. However, inequality within these countries rose sharply. The top 1% income share rose from 7% to 22% in India, and 6% to 14% in China between 1980 and 2016.

Until recently, it has been impossible to know which of these two forces dominates globally, because of lack of data on inequality trends within countries, which many governments do not release publicly or uniformly. The World Inequality Report 2018 addresses this issue, relying on systematic, comparable, and transparent inequality statistics from high-income and emerging countries.

The conclusion is striking. Between 1980 and 2016, inequality between the world’s citizens increased, despite strong growth in emerging markets. Indeed, the share of global income accrued by the richest 1%, grew from 16% in 1980 to 20% by 2016. Meanwhile the income share of the poorest 50% hovered around 9%. The top 1% — individuals earning more than $13,500 per month — globally captured twice as much income growth as the bottom 50% of the world population over this period.

Income doesn’t trickle down

The second belief contests that high growth at the top is necessary to achieve some growth at the bottom of the distribution, in other words that rising inequality is necessary to elevate standards of living among the poorest. However, this idea is at odds with the data. When we compare Europe with the U.S., or China with India, it is clear that countries that experienced a higher rise in inequality were not better at lifting the incomes of their poorest citizens. Indeed, the U.S. is the extreme counterargument to the myth of trickle down: while incomes grew by more than 600% for the top 0.001% of Americans since 1980, the bottom half of the population was actually shut off from economic growth, with a close to zero rise in their yearly income. In Europe, growth among the top 0.001% was five times lower than in the U.S., but the poorest half of the population fared much better, experiencing a 26% growth in their average incomes. Despite having a consistently higher growth rate since 1980, the rise of inequality in China was much more moderate than in India. As a result, China was able to lift the incomes of the poorest half of the population at a rate that was four times faster than in India, enabling greater poverty reduction.

The trickle-down myth may have been debunked, but its ideas are still rooted in a number of current policies. For example, the idea that high income growth for rich individuals is a precondition to create jobs and growth at the bottom continues to be used to justify tax reductions for the richest, as seen in recent tax reform in the U.S. and France. A closer look at the data demands we rethink the rationale and legitimacy of such policies. 

Policy – not trade or technology – is most responsible for inequality

It is often said that rising inequality is inevitable — that it is a natural consequence of trade openness and digitalization that governments are powerless to counter. But the numbers presented above clearly demonstrate the diversity of inequality trajectories experienced by broadly comparable regions over the past decades. The U.S. and Europe, for instance, had similar population size and average income in 1980 — as well as analogous inequality levels. Both regions have also faced similar exposure to international markets and new technologies since, but their inequality trajectories have radically diverged. In the U.S., the bottom 50% income share decreased from 20% to 10% today, whereas in Europe it decreased from 24% to 22%.

Rather than openness to trade or digitalization, it is policy choices and institutional changes that explain divergences in inequality. After the neoliberal policy shift of the early 1980s, Europe resisted the impulse to turn its market economy into a market society more than the US — evidenced by differences on key policy areas concerning inequality. The progressivity of the tax code — how much more the rich pay as a percentage — was seriously undermined in the U.S., but much less so in continental Europe. The U.S. had the highest minimum wage of the world in the 1960s, but it has since decreased by 30%, whereas in France, the minimum wage has risen 300%. 

Access to higher education is costly and highly unequal in the U.S., whereas it is free in several European countries. Indeed, when Bavarian policymakers tried to introduce small university fees in the late 2000s, a referendum invalidated the decision. Health systems also provide universal access to good-quality healthcare in most European countries, while millions of Americans do not have access to healthcare plans.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Another how low can they go moment courtesy of the Catholic Church in Australia



The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2018:

The Catholic Church in Australia is worth tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the country’s biggest non-government property owners, and massively wealthier than it has claimed in evidence to major inquiries into child sexual abuse.

A six-month investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the church misled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by grossly undervaluing its property treasures in both NSW and Victoria while claiming that increased payments to abuse victims would require cuts to its social programs.
The investigation was based on intricate data from local councils that allowed more than 1860 valuations of church-owned property in Victoria. That showed that across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - the church had land and buildings worth almost $7 billion in 2016.

Extrapolated nationally, using conservative assumptions, the church owns property worth more than $30 billion Australia-wide.

This put the Catholic church among the largest non-government property owners, by value, in NSW and Australia, rivalling Westfield’s network of shopping centres and other assets. It dwarfs all other large property owners.

"These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church’s wealth and their responses to survivors," said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation.

"The 600 survivors registered for our Foundation’s services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their Church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.’’…..

Monetary payments to abuse survivors have averaged just $49,000 under Towards Healing, the national compensation system established by the church in 1996……

The church also has extensive non-property assets including Catholic Church Insurance and its own internal banks - often known as Catholic Development Funds - with nearly $1 billion in assets in Sydney alone.

And it has other investments, including in superannuation, telecommunications and in the stock-market. A Church-owned fund manager has more than $1.4 billion under management.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Don't laugh, this Nationals MP was serious


David Arthur Gillespie of Wauchope entered the Australian Parliament in 2013 as a National Party Member of the House of Representatives representing the Lyne electorate, with an annual salary many of his constituents can only dream about.

He is quite literally a man of property – aside from his house and farm he owns four commercial and residential investment properties, which appear to be snugly sitting in one or more family trusts along with a portfolio of shares.

His total parliamentary entitlements expenditure paid by the Department of Finance was $65,512.97 in 2013,  $399,946.31 in 2014, $339,797.06 in 2015 and $381,651 in 2016.

Yet two years ago he caught the greed bug and wanted more, more, more………..

ABC News, 2 December 2017:

The Prime Minister's Department has lost a two-year fight to conceal a minister's bid for thousands of dollars in extra pollie-perks, including charter flights and boat rides.

Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop's taxpayer-funded helicopter ride sparked an inquiry into politicians' entitlements.

Most MPs and senators' submissions were publicly released, but bureaucrats decided to hide Nationals MP David Gillespie's proposal.

After a lengthy freedom of information (FOI) battle, the ABC can reveal Dr Gillespie argued politicians in seats like his should annually be given:

* Nearly $15,000 extra "charter allowance" for charter flights, hire cars, boat rides or taxis
* 14 days more travel allowance for overnight stays within the electorate
* An additional office
* One more full-time employee

Dr Gillespie is the member for Lyne on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

He argued the boost would help meet "the significant logistical challenges that confront all rural MPs in meeting the needs and expectations of their constituents".

"If the additional costs are $10 million, it is a small price to pay to ensure fairness within our democracy is delivered," he wrote in the October 2015 submission.

Dr Gillespie wanted extra expenses for all electorates 10,000 square kilometres or larger.

The Assistant Health Minister's seat is about 16,000 square kilometres in size, and includes towns of Taree and Wauchope.

If implemented today, 24 Coalition MPs would benefit, along with six Labor members and two independents.

Electorates 100,000 square kilometres or larger would have received an even bigger windfall under the blueprint.

But the Government has only partly adopted one of his ideas by funding an extra office in Australia's seven biggest electorates — a group of seats that does not include Lyne.

I’m sure David Gillespie is as pleased with mainstream media outing this attempted cash grab as he was when they reported this……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 October 2017:

A Turnbull government minister is facing up to $500,000 in personal legal bills to defend his job against a Labor High Court challenge.

While the government is covering the costs of the seven federal politicians referred to the court over their citizenship status, the eighth MP facing constitutional eligibility questions is not getting the same assistance.

Labor is challenging Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie's right to stay on in Federal Parliament, putting the government's slender majority at risk, because it believes he may have an indirect financial interest in the Commonwealth – grounds for disqualification under section 44(v) of the constitution.

As revealed by Fairfax Media in February, the Nationals MP owns a small suburban shopping complex in Port Macquarie and one of the shops is an outlet of Australia Post – a government-owned corporation.

The Lighthouse Beach Australia Post outlet in Port Macquarie owned by Nationals MP David Gillespie. 
Photo: Peter Daniels

Alley v Gillespie [2017] HCA is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday,12 December 2017 by High Court of Australia.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts


The Conversation, 28 November 2017:

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts, according to our new report.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Socioeconomic Status, released today, tracks health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status. It shows that over the past four years, 49,227 more people on lower incomes have died from chronic diseases – such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer – before the age of 75 than those on higher incomes.

A steady job or being engaged in the community is important to good health. Australia’s unemployment rate is low, but this hides low workforce participation, and a serious problem with underemployment. Casual workers are often not getting enough hours, and more and more Australians are employed on short-term contracts.

There’s a vicious feedback loop – if your health is struggling, it’s harder to build your wealth. If you’re unable to work as much as you want, you can’t build your wealth, so it’s much tougher to improve your health.

Our team tracked health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status, which measures people’s access to material and social resources as well as their ability to participate in society. We’ve measured in quintiles – with one fifth of the population in each quintile.

We developed health targets and indicators based on the World Health Organisation’s 2025 targets to improve health around the globe.

The good news is that for many of the indicators, the most advantaged in the community have already reached the targets.

The bad news is that poor health is not just an issue affecting the most vulnerable in our community, it significantly affects the second-lowest quintile as well. Almost ten million Australians with low incomes have much greater risks of developing preventable chronic diseases, and of dying from these earlier than other Australians.


Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australia - where the rich get richer as wealth & income inequality grows (interactive mapping)


The Guardian, 12 October 2017

Australia is among countries with the highest growth in income inequality in the world over the past 30 years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s director of fiscal affairs, has told an audience at the launch of the IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor that Australia’s income inequality growth has been similar to the US, South Africa, India, China, Spain and the UK since the 1980s.

Last month the treasurer, Scott Morrison, said that income inequality was not getting worse in Australia.

Morrison told the Business Council of Australia in late September that Treasury and the Reserve Bank had found, in specific analysis of current wage fundamentals, that Australian wages were growing slowly across most industries in the economy, and most regions of the country, so the slow growth was evenly shared.

However, he would not release the Treasury analysis.

Graph showing inequality by country by the IMF. Illustration: IMF

Gaspar said IMF staff had used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s income distribution database, Eurostat, and the World Bank’s Povcalnet data, among other sources, to calculate that income inequality had increased in nearly half of the world’s countries in the past three decades, and Australia had experienced a “large increase” in that time.

“Most people around the world live in countries where inequality has increased,” he said.

The IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor, released overnight, is dedicated to the global growth in income inequality. It warns that while some inequality is inevitable in a market-based economic system as a result of “differences in talent, effort, and luck”, excessive inequality could “erode social cohesion, lead to political polarisation, and ultimately lower economic growth”. 

It also warns that income inequality tends to be “highly correlated” with wealth inequality, inequality of opportunity, and gender inequality……

Earlier this year, the OECD economic survey of Australia in April found “inclusiveness has been eroded” in the past two decades.

“The Gini coefficient has been drifting up and households in upper-income brackets have benefited disproportionally from Australia’s long period of economic growth,” the report said.

“Real incomes for the top quintile of households grew by more than 40% between 2004 and 2014, while those for the lowest quintile only grew by about 25%.”

In July the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, when asked about his views on inequality at a charity lunch in Sydney, said it had grown “quite a lot” in the 1980s and 1990s and had risen “a little bit” recently, but it was important to make a distinction between income and wealth inequality.

“Wealth inequality has become more pronounced particularly in the last five or six years because there’s been big gains in asset prices,” Lowe said. “So the people who own assets, which are usually wealthy people, have seen their wealth go up.”

He said income inequality had increased slightly in recent years, but wealth inequality was more pronounced because of rising asset prices.

So how do individual regions across Australia fare?

The Guardian on 4 February 2016 published this Australia-wide interactive graphic:



Income Distribution in NSW Northern Rivers Region (based on Australian Taxation Office data for 2012-13)

Byron – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 38.5% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.544

Kyogle – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.9% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.554

Ballina – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.2% of income – Gini coefficient 0.495

Tweed – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.473

Clarence Valley – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.1% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.493

Lismore – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 29.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.459

Richmond Valley – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 28.1% of total income  – Gini coefficient 0.448

*  Some low income earners, eg. those receiving Government pensions/allowances or earning below the tax free threshold may not be present in the data, as they may not be required to lodge personal tax forms. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Total Income, 2012-13]