Saturday 30 April 2022

Cartoons of the Week

Cathy Wilcox

Peter Broelman

Matt Golding

Fiona Katauskas


Tweet of the Week



Friday 29 April 2022

Australian Federal Election 2022: and the economic outlook gets gloomier for us all

Bottom line, cost of living and other economic pressures are not going to ease anytime soon, with almost half of all businesses now passing on cost increases to customers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), media release, 28 April 2022:

Source: Business Conditions and Sentiments, April 2022

More than half (57 per cent) of all businesses experienced increases in the cost of doing business over the three months to April 2022, with almost a quarter (21 per cent) reporting costs had increased to a great extent, according to data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Consistent with the results from March, most of these businesses had seen increases to the cost of fuel or energy (83 per cent) and the cost of products or services used by the business (82 per cent).

ABS Head of Industry Statistics, John Shepherd, said: More than half of the businesses with higher costs (52 per cent) did not increase their prices. For those that did increase prices, 42 per cent had partially passed on costs and 6 per cent had fully passed on the increases to customers.”

Businesses also provided information about other actions they had taken in response to increased business costs.

Over a third (39 per cent) of businesses had made changes to their operations or processes and 17 per cent had renegotiated payment terms with customers and suppliers,” Mr Shepherd said.

The results also provided information about business staffing levels. One in five businesses (18 per cent) did not have enough staff in April 2022, consistent with findings in January 2022.

More than four in five businesses (84 per cent) with staff shortages were unable to find suitable staff, rising from 69 per cent in January. Uncertainty due to COVID-19 was less likely to be an influence on staffing levels (36 per cent compared to 62 per cent in January).

Further information, as well as insights into supply chain, are included in Business Conditions and Sentiments. 

Second Term of the 2022 academic year, education still disrupted for students in flood damaged Northern Rivers schools


Across the Northern Rivers region this week Term 2 began for primary and high school students.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 2022:

Flood-hit schools face years of disruption will be anything but business as usual for many students in the Northern Rivers. The devastating floods that hit the region in February caused mass disruptions and meant thousands of children missed weeks of in-person learning. For many students, school won’t return to normal for months, or even years, after the floods forced classes off-site for the foreseeable future.

Nine public schools in the region were significantly damaged and earmarked for rebuilding along with several Catholic and independent schools, and many more were damaged. At Lismore’s Trinity Catholic College, which has almost 1000 students, all but eight rooms were inundated by floodwaters and the damage bill is expected to top tens of millions of dollars.

Universities and community groups have opened their doors to displaced students.

At Lismore’s Trinity Catholic College, which has almost 1000 students, every room but eight was inundated with water and the damage bill was expected to top tens of millions of dollars.

Trinity Catholic College in Lismore was almost completely destroyed by floods.

Read the full article here.

Thursday 28 April 2022

Australian Federal Election 2022: inflation and cost of living a live issue 23 days out from polling day

Australia recorded its largest quarterly & annual inflation increase in 21 years in the first Quarter of 2022.

The Cost of Living Index (CPI) rose 2.1 per cent cent in March 2022 quarter and 5.1 per cent annually - again largest annual change in 21 years. 

That 5.1 per cent exceeds the 2021 annual rate of 3.5 per cent, as well as the overly optimistic projected inflation figure of 4.5 to 4.6 per cent floated by some economists for the March quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics, media release, 27 April 2022, excepts:

The most significant contributors to the rise in the March quarter CPI were new dwellings (+5.7 per cent), automotive fuel (+11.0 per cent) and tertiary education (+6.3 per cent)…..

Notable rises were also recorded across the food group (+2.8 per cent), reflecting high transport, fertiliser, packaging and ingredient costs, as well as COVID-related disruptions and herd restocking due to favourable weather. Main contributors to the rise in food prices included vegetables (+6.6 per cent), waters, soft drinks and juices (+5.6 per cent), fruit (+4.9 per cent) and beef (+7.6 per cent)…..

The grocery component of the group, which excludes meals out and takeaway foods, rose 4.0 per cent in the March quarter." Ms Marquardt said.

Prices for other grocery items, such as non-durable household products (+6.7 per cent), which includes products such as toilet paper and paper towels, also rose in the March quarter….

The price of goods (+6.6 per cent) rose more strongly through the year than that of services (+3.0 per cent)…..

It appears that cost of living increase is now running significantly ahead of wages growth in Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's one-off election campaign bribe of $250 for eligible Centrelink/DVA recipients won't even touch the edges of the yawning gap which has developed between income and costs due to the broad base of rising prices. In fact the positive impact of this so-called Cost of Living Payment is unlikely to last beyond polling day in many low-income family households.

$312 million roads funding boost. It's a little being asked to go a long way in flood ravaged regional NSW, but it's still good news

 Approaches to Main Arm, NSW, March 2022

IMAGE: Byron Shire Council



Byron Shire Council, media release, 22 April 2022:

Byron Shire to share in $312 million roads funding boost

Byron Shire Mayor, Michael Lyon, has welcomed the news of the Australian and NSW Governments’ $312 million Regional Roads and Transport Recovery Package saying it will have long-lasting benefits for communities in the Byron Shire.

Mayor Lyon this week met the NSW Minister for Regional Roads and Transport, Sam Farraway, and other Mayors and Members of Parliament in Lismore, to hear details of the funding package and to discuss the way forward in relation to the repair and rebuilding of roads and infrastructure in the Northern Rivers.

This joint funding from the Australian and NSW Governments will go a long way to ensuring our roads and bridges are not just rebuilt, but they will be to a standard that will better withstand future floods,” Mayor Lyon said.

The term people use for this is ‘betterment’ – which in the context of a natural disaster is the process of building a damaged road or bridge back better than its original condition prior to the event,” he said.

This is about building resilience into our road network which is a very encouraging development, it is something European countries do very well, spending money on prevention, rather than recovery.

Traditionally, the State Government would only fund the restoration of an asset, leaving the cost of any identified improvements which could mitigate damage in a future event to Council.

Given Council’s usually stretched financial situation, these improvements rarely, if ever, got funded.

We have been lobbying for years for the idea of betterment to be funded as part of the recovery from a natural disaster, because it makes sense and it saves dollars in the long run as well as minimising disruption caused by these events,” Mayor Lyon said.

The meeting with Minister Farraway, NSW Transport officials, local Members of Parliament, Mayors and General Managers was most valuable as we talked through how we can most effectively respond to the enormous rebuilding challenge before us and ensure that we have a coordinated, regional approach, given we are all competing in some way for the same resources.

Minister Farraway has visited the region several times since the first flood and it has been impressive to know he listened to our concerns around betterment, the need for it and then to effectively lobby on behalf of our region and come up with a result for our community.

It sets a good precedent for the future and our ability to be resilient in the face of the expected increased frequency of natural disasters.

Simon Richardson, our previous Mayor, was very good at recognising the desire in other people to do good things, irrespective of their political flag and he was able to obtain funding for our area through this approach.

I intend to seek to emulate this approach with the intention being to secure as much funding as possible for the benefit of our residents and businesses.

The recovery in the Byron Shire, and in the Northern Rivers, is going to be a long, slow process, and it’s going to test everyone.

This sort of financial package takes some of the pressure off and for this I am very thankful,” Mayor Lyon said.


Palmwoods Road Reconstruction
March 2022
IMAGE: Byron Shire Council

Wednesday 27 April 2022

Candidates standing in Page Electorate at 21 May 2022 Federal General Election - Part 5. One major party & 5 minor parties reviewed


Liberal Democratic Party (LNP) – registered by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in September 2007.

This is a political party which for the purposes of progressing itself is blatantly chasing the “freedoms” vote, with its “Policy One” of eight policies listed being “FREEDOM FROM COVID ALARMISM”. A document not updated since 2021 and redolent with the echo of that motley collection of white supremacist, QAnon, anti-vaccination and other conspiracy theory nutters who rallied and protested during 2020 and 2021.

It is not considered a parliamentary party as it had no elected member as at March-April 2022.

It appears to be standing 16 candidates for Senate positions and 101 candidates for House of Representatives seats.

PAGE candidate: Thomas Searles

The Australian Federation Party (FED) – although this party was first registered by the AEC in 2011, by 2022 it was firmly in the ‘freedoms’ camp of anti-public health measures resistance spawned by that same motley collection of white supremacist, QAnon, anti-vaccination and other conspiracy theory nutters who gave us collective action such as this:

The party has subsequently dressed up in smart suits and penned fine words, however it remains a largely untested entity.

It is not considered a parliamentary party as it had no elected member as at March-April 2022.

FED is standing 47 candidates at the 21 May federal election – 11 for Senate positions and 38 for House of Representatives seats.

PAGE candidate: Heather Smith

United Australia Party (UAP) registered by the AEC in 2018. The brain child of rather notorious mining magnate Clive Palmer who as the leader of the Palmer United Party was a rather desultory member of the Australian House of Representatives for one term marked by his absences – retiring prior to the 2016 federal election.

Currently he is standing for a Senate position representing Queensland.

He is using what is alleged to be his personal wealth to run 22 Senate candidates and 151 House of Representative candidates in the 21 May federal election. Although rather oddly, the party’s official list of candidates seems to number 152.

This is a classic disruptor party, out to “Make Australia Great Again” because there is a need for “freedoms” - with at least one notable Trump-QAnon-Antivaxx supporter in its ranks, Craig Kelly.

It is considered a parliamentary party as it had one member as at March-April 2022 - Craig Kelly being elected in 2019 as the Liberal Party MP for Hume but resigning in February 2021 and, moving to the cross benches until joining the UAP in August 2021.

PAGE candidate: Ian Williamson

TNLregister by the AEC in March 2022. Has approximately 1,527 members. It coyly insists on reminding the general public that it was formerly The New Liberals”, a party formally deregistered on 7 December 2021 in part based on the potential for name confusion with the Liberal Party. 

On 13 March 2021 it rather quixotically sought to have the Liberal Party of Australia deregistered

Presidency and leadership of the party appears to be a family affair.

It is not considered a parliamentary party as it had no elected member as at March-April 2022.

TNL is fielding 19 candidates at the 21 May federal election – 7 for Senate positions and 12 for House of Representatives seats.

PAGE candidate: Serge Killingbeck

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (ONP) – registered by AEC in 2004. A political party with an unashamedly resentful, far right and racist worldview plucked straight from the ugly underbelly of 1950s Australia.

It is a parliamentary party as it had two elected members as at March-April 2022.

One Nation is standing 9 candidates for Senate positions and 69 candidates in the House of Representatives in the 21 May federal election.

PAGE candidate: Donna Pike

National Party of Australia (NSW) (NAT) – registered by the AEC in 1984. 

A party which has proudly followed a regressive policy path of cronyism, isolationism, environmental vandalism and what, in practice, has been crude climate change denialism which left Australia vulnerable to the worst climate change impacts.

It was also a party which during the 26 months to date of the global pandemic has been in favour of doing the bare minimum when it came to the public health response and which did not favour lockdowns - with some MPS quietly muttering about individual freedom.

The AEC lists it as a parliamentary party, having 7 NSW MPs out of the 9 National Party elected members in the House of Representatives (the remaining 2 are from Victoria) and 1 NSW Senator out of the 3 Nationals in the Senate (the remaining 2 are from Qld & Vic) as at March-April 2022.

It is fielding 11 NSW candidates - 1 for a Senate position and 8 in the House of Representatives, as Coalition partner to the Liberal Party of Australia.

PAGE candidate: Kevin Hogan

Tuesday 26 April 2022

How will February-March 2022 flooding in Northern NSW affect land values?


It would appear that the Northern Rivers region bounced back from any flow-on effect on land values due to the 2019-20 mega bushfires and, the pandemic appears to have actually increased demand for housing in the region. Now residential and commercial property owners are waiting on the first official post February-March 2022 floods land value report.


Pre-July 2019 to March 2020 Bushfire Season

NSW Valuer-General’s Report for NSW Land Values at 1 July 2019

North Coast NSW region local government areas

Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie- Hastings, Richmond Valley, Tweed

General overview

The total land value for the North Coast NSW region increased 1% between 1 July 2018 and 1 July 2019 from $85.8 billion to $86.7 billion.

The value of residential land value in the region generally remained steady or increased slightly with an overall increase of 0.6%. However, moderate increases were experienced in Richmond Valley (6%) and Lismore (5%). Overall, values in Byron decreased slightly by 2.6% except for residential land in central Byron Bay which increased by 6.5% and residential land in the villages of Billinudgel, Federal and Main Arm which increased by 5%.

Commercial land values across the region generally remained steady or increased slightly with an overall increase of 0.9%. An exception to this was Kyogle where values increased moderately by 6.8%, with increases mainly confined to the northern part of the Kyogle town centre.

Industrial land values in the region generally remained steady with an overall increase of 1.6%. Values increased slightly in Port Macquarie-Hastings (4.4%) and Richmond Valley (4%), and moderately in Kyogle (6.2%) and Ballina (5.9%).

Rural land values in the region generally increased slightly with an overall increase of 2.5%. Rural land in Lismore, however, experienced a moderate increase of 8.1% due to a strong demand for hobby farm and rural lifestyle properties.

Post-July 2019 to March 2020 Bushfire Season

North Coast Voices, 14 February 2021:

As of 28 January 2020 the climate change-induced 2019-20 bushfires in New South Wales had burnt 5.3 million hectares (6.7% of the State), including over 52 per cent of the land area in the Clarence Valley and close to 49% of the land area in the Richmond Valley.

Now we find out how this affected land values in those two local government areas.

Decreases were evident in some areas impacted by bushfire events, with the largest land value decreases in Rappville and Whiporie in Richmond Valley (-21%) and unspecified moderate to strong decreases in localities south of Grafton, Coutts Crossing and the Clarence River.

In the middle of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic

NSW Valuer-General’s Report for NSW Land Values at 1 July 2021

North Coast NSW region local government areas

Ballina, Bellingen, Byron, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Kyogle, Lismore, Mid-Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie- Hastings, Richmond Valley and Tweed.

General overview

The total land value for the North Coast NSW region increased by 28.7% between 1 July 2020 and 1 July 2021 from $89.3 billion to $115.5 billion.

Residential land values increased by 27.9% overall. The strongest growth was in Byron (51.9%), followed by Ballina (39.3%), Richmond Valley (38.4%), Clarence Valley (31.9%) and Kyogle (27.4%). Strong increases were also seen in Port Macquarie (17.9%), Kempsey (17.0%) and Lismore (17.7%).

Sea and tree changers relocating to work remotely drove demand along the North Coast seaboard.

Overall, commercial land values increased by 28.7%. Byron (50.3%) experienced the strongest increases due to strong demand in a tightly held market. Other large increases were seen in Tweed (23.6%), Ballina (28.8%), Richmond Valley (37.5%) and Port Macquarie (27.3%), Kyogle (11.4%) and Kempsey (10.7%), while Lismore (9.0%) increased moderately with supply meeting demand.

Industrial land values for the region increased by 22.6%. Very strong increases in Byron (37.1%) followed heightened demand for relatively affordable industrial space in Bangalow and Mullumbimby. An increase in building activity saw demand outstrip supply in Port Macquarie Hastings (36.5%). Nambucca (31.9%) saw strong demand for limited stock while a balanced supply of industrial land resulted in moderate-strong value increases in Clarence Valley (7.3%), Lismore (11.1%), and Richmond Valley (11.7%).

Rural land values across the region increased by 30.5%. Byron increased 70.5% as the residential market moved into hobby farms and lifestyle properties, while nearby Ballina experienced a very strong 32.2% increase. Strong increases were also seen in Coffs Harbour (11.9%), Nambucca (28.8%) and Clarence Valley (22.9%), with increased demand from both lifestyle changers and rural producers. Good rainfall, buoyant commodity prices, low interest rates and a favourable seasonal outlook has seen on-going demand for quality cropping and grazing land from local and interstate buyers and western graziers.

Generally the Valuer-General’s land value reports are published within six months either side of the 1 July date at which any value change is calculated.

Given that property sales are the most important factor valuers consider when determining land values and since the NSW February-March 2022 widespread destructive flooding along the Australian east coast has left whole villages, towns & even cities with a significant percentage of their housing stock in an unsaleable condition, I suspect that this year’s land value report may be delayed.

Monday 25 April 2022

Australian Federal Election 2022: what do political funding rorts look like and are they part of a corrupt process?

Looking at past Liberal Party of Australia political rorts may help to assess Scott Morrison's current election campaign promises which have a dollar amount attached when first announced and/or a specific electorate is included in the announcement.

So what has all the Liberal Party's much touted "individual freedom and free enterprise" delivered since 2013?

Well between 2013 and 2018 it appears to have delivered federal regional grants totally $714,563,851. With 57.62% of this funding directed to 77 Coalition-held electorates and, the remaining 26.92% going to 74 other electorates - 68 ALP & 6 minor party/independent.

Some electorates such as Hinkler (Qld) held by Nats-LNP since 1993 received well in excess of $26 million in regional grants. Mallee (Vic) held by Nats since 1972 and Capricornia (Qld) held by LNP since 2013 received over $24 million each. While Dawson (Qld) held by LNP since 2010 received over $31 million - and on it went over the approximately six year span.

Has this brazenly partisan allocation of Treasury funds lessened under the prime ministership of the Liberal MP for Cook?

Apparently not, because the bulk of the billions listed in the next paragraph were distributed on Morrison's watch.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald on 16 April 2022, taxpayers have funded $55.6 billion in federal government grants over less than 4 years (including a hefty $20 billion last year) under rules that give ministers sweeping powers to decide payments, often without any criteria or reporting & against departmental advice. From January to March this year another $1 billion was distributed as grants.

So where might some of those $55.6 billion dollars have found a home?

Nor being a forensic accountant I am not up to the task of tracking that down, but there are some clues to be found.

Take the joint Federal-States Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.

The “Black Summer” bushfire season actually ran from July 2019 through to early March 2020 and during this period est. 2.9 million adult Australians had their property damaged, their property threatened, or had to be evacuated, often along with their families.

This Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program funding pool held $390,893,779 – with $296,746,274 allocated and $94,147,508 still unspent in February 2021.

Over 100 local government areas in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria were listed in the grant eligibility criteria.

A total of 57.63% of all grant allocations worth est. $171,035,576 went to Coalition electorates, 31.33% worth $92,994,495 to Labor electorates and, 11.02% worth $32,716,230 to Independent/minor party electorates.

In December 2020 it was revealed that one of Australia's richest men who happens to be a Liberal Party donor had received $10 million in bushfire recovery funding - to expand a paper mill not directly affected by fire.

In February 2022 the Morrison Government announced that the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Fund had received an additional $110 million for 524 "broad recovery projects" with unspecified recipients. The this grants program is now listed as closed.

Just in case a reader might think that the nature of that 2019-2020 mega bushfire season might have skewed funding allocations, here is another example which clearly indicates bias.

Round 5 of the Building Better Regions Fund – Infrastructure Projects Stream.

There it is in glorious colour.

A total of 73. 23% of this grant round, worth est. $215,281,617 going to Coalition electorates and 26.76% worth est. $78,678,728 going to electorates held by Labor and the cross benches. Liberal & LNP MPs receiving the bulk of this largesse held federal seats in New South Wales and Queensland.

Then there is the National Commuter Car Park Fund.

The Urban Congestion Fund (UCF) was established in the 2018–19 Budget. Total funding for the UCF had grown from $1 billion to $4.8 billion as at 31 March 2021.The National Commuter Car Park Fund is a component of the UCF.

This is what commuter car park funding allocation looked like in February 2021.

A total of 77 Liberal Party electorates received a whopping 81.75% of the total funding pool worth $575,890,000. Among the Liberal Party luminaries lining up for the prime minister’s largesse were; Josh Frydenberg (Kooyong Vic), Alan Tudge (Aston Vic), Tim Wilson (Goldstein Vic), Michael Sukkar (Deakin Vic), Jason Wood (La Trobe Vic), Angus Taylor (Hume NSW), David Colman (Banks NSW), Stuart Robert (Fadden Qld), Bert Van Manen (Forde Qld) Peter Dutton (Dickson Qld) and Andrew Hastie (Canning WA).

In June 2021 the Australian Auditor-General handed down a performance report titled Administration of Commuter Car Park Projects within the Urban Congestion Fund.

The performance report found numerous inadequacies, including:

  • at 31 March 2021, there had been 44 commuter car park projects announced involving upgrades at 47 identified sites with a total Australian Government funding commitment of $660.4 million;

  • assessment work had been completed for 10 car parks resulting in $100 million of Australian Government funding being approved for the full project (including delivery of construction work). Construction had been completed at two sites and had commenced at a further three sites;

  • The Department of Infrastructure’s administration of the commuter car park projects within the Urban Congestion Fund was not effective;

  • The department’s approach to identifying and selecting commuter car park projects for funding commitment was not appropriate. It was not designed to be open or transparent. The department did not engage with state governments and councils, which increased the risk that selected projects would not deliver the desired outcomes at the expected cost to the Australian Government. Departmental advice did not contain an assessment against the investment principles or policy objectives and it was not demonstrated that projects were selected on merit. The distribution of projects selected reflected the geographic and political profile of those given the opportunity by the government to identify candidates for funding consideration; and

  • The selection of 47 commuter car park sites for funding commitment were decisions of government taken over the period January to July 2019 and:

      • effected in 38 cases (81 per cent) by the written agreement of the Prime Minister to a written request from Ministers;

      • effected in seven cases (15 per cent) by the election commitment process; and

      • in two cases (four per cent) the department had not evidenced how the funding commitment was effected, beyond email advice from the Minister’s Office and a media announcement by the Prime Minister. [my yellow highlighting]

By 2022 it was apparent that most of 47 commuter car parks which had funding allocated were no longer considered active proposals and at least 5 proposed car parks appear to have been scrubbed from the original list – 4 in Labor electorates and one in a Liberal Party electorate.

Lack of transparency, across the board poor record keeping, no apparent accountability for decisions made and politically partisan use of public money - are all indicators of corrupt processes in this particular grant fund. 

This next chart demonstrates funding allocations for sports infrastructure.

A breakdown of full details can be found at:

To say that voters are not happy with the Liberal Party is an understatement. This was one voter in the Australian Capital Territory......

Firstly, the biggest misdirect, perhaps lie, perpetrated by the Liberals is that they are a Federal Political Party - a single administrative & policy unit like the ALP. They are a bunch of independent Fiefdoms, ruled in what looks like a Feudal system with a truly byzantine organisation…..

I’ve looked at the Liberal Federal Secretariat & "Liberal Party NSW" sites and they don’t publish any “Values”,

They publish some very rubbery & loose “Beliefs”. Untestable, and unaccountable motherhood statements. Summarised at the end as:

In short, we believe in individual freedom and free enterprise"

Tony Abbott around 2013 clearly annunciated both Liberal Party Values & Purpose: “We are not Labor”.

Nobody in their right mind would invest in a company with the absence of proper Governance & Accountability embodied in the many “Liberal” party Fiefdoms in Australia, nor would they tolerate the absence of consistent Values, Priorities and Policies.” [Voter from Kippax, ACT, 3 March 2022]


The VOG Files, Rorts Central at:

Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) at:

Parliament  of Australia, Members at: