Commissioner Bret Walker SC took aim at Mr Blair for insisting that the NSW Government’s controversial Menindee Lakes project should proceed despite the fish kills, and for suggesting that not doing so would “blow up” the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
*The Menindee Lakes project is a proposal to save water by reducing the size of the lakes and emptying them more oftento prevent water evaporation!!!!
Niall Blair singled out by Murray Darling Royal Commission over Menindee fish kill comments
The Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan has singled out NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair, describing his comments in the wake of the Menindee fish kills as “grossly irresponsible”.
The commissioner took aim at Niall Blair over the controversial Menindee Lakes project
The scathing comments threaten the Government’s grip on the seat of Barwon
The Opposition and minor parties are using the water issue to pressure the Government
Commissioner Bret Walker SC took aim at Mr Blair for insisting that the NSW Government’s controversial Menindee Lakes project should proceed despite the fish kills, and for suggesting that not doing so would “blow up” the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
Mr Walker said Mr Blair’s warning was “presumably meant to menace the continued cooperative national endeavour to save the Basin from irreparable degradation”.
“It amounts to saying that NSW will do what it can to destroy the plan if this particular highly problematic project is not guaranteed, in advance, to contribute to a reduction in environmental flows and a commensurate increase in irrigation intake,” Mr Walker said.
“It threatens a travesty of lawful administration, along the lines of ‘the fix is in’.”
*The Menindee Lakes project is a proposal to save water by reducing the size of the lakes and emptying them more oftento prevent water evaporation, but federal authorities had raised environmental concerns about the plan.
The timing of the fish kills and the royal commission’s scathing assessment of the NSW approach is highly problematic for the State Government as it faces a fight to retain the seat of Barwon at the state election on March 23.
Senior Nationals sources say the water issue is biting hard in the seat, which is being targeted by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
‘Can’t see it changing’
Menindee resident Karen Bates, who had a fiery argument with Mr Blair when he visited the river earlier this month, said the Minister put a wall up between him and the people.
“He has his defences up and just kept pedalling the same line — ‘we are sticking to the plan’,” she said.
“We couldn’t believe he was fully supportive of the management that caused this very problem … it’s just so wrong.”
VIEW SOURCE LINK BELOW TO FIND THIS FORM:
What do you want to know before #NSWVotes on March 23?
Ms Bates felt yesterday’s findings were focused on South Australia, and said people in Menindee needed the NSW Government to step up.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in, both parties follow the plan in some way. I can’t see it changing.
“And that just makes us feel like we are dog shit on the bottom of the shoes.”
She urged the NSW Government to put permanent restrictions on pumping from the upper basin and to stop releases when the lakes are full.
‘The gloves are off’: NSW Government
The State Government said it would release an interim response to the royal commission report today, but Mr Blair and NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro indicated they would resist any further cuts to the water entitlements of NSW farmers.
That suggests it’s a speech they want to keep giving all the way to the election, which in turn means we’re watching the Morrison government draw its battlelines, on the economy at least.
And while it’s fair to say neither of these speeches was long on policy detail, what made them almost interesting is that they were calling on a fight it’s far from clear the Coalition can win.
The basic pitch seems to be that Australia’s prosperity, which is the result of what Frydenberg called the “invisible hand of capitalism”, is under threat if Labor wins the election because Labor no longer believes in it.
By the lights of modern political history, this is all pretty conventional. And it’s a version of what the Coalition has said before elections for as long as I can remember.
But this is a moment when the lights of modern political history are going out. Trickle-down economics, the conventional wisdom of merely a few years ago, is under historic assault.
The fundamental idea that lower taxes will necessarily stimulate the economy and that companies will use the extra cash to pay us more and create extra jobs is simply not the gospel it once was. That’s why Malcolm Turnbull’s efforts to sell us company tax cuts failed so ignominiously.
The problem is that this theory no longer chimes with the experience of swaths of people. As the economy has recovered from the global financial crisis, we’ve seen productivity rise, we’ve seen company profits increase, we’ve even seen executive pay climb.
And while it’s true (and good) that we’ve seen jobs created, what we haven’t seen is wages go up. In fact, they’ve been basically flat for the past five years or so, especially in the private sector.
That means that while the Coalition might only be asking us to believe no more than we’ve believed in the past, it is now asking this in a significantly different environment: one where electorates increasingly suspect the system is built to serve the interests of elites.
But people’s lives don’t exist in aggregate, they exist in the particular. What we call the economy is experienced in lots of particular ways by lots of different people. And mostly, the broad, overarching numbers we use to define the economy aren’t directly experienced by any of us.
Unless the circumstances are quite extreme, you do not experience an unemployment rate. What you experience is either your own employment or unemployment. What you definitely experience is whether or not you’ve had a meaningful pay rise in the last five years. And if you haven’t, it doesn’t mean much to be told the economy is growing. In fact, it’s probably irritating.
Once people make this cleavage between theory and experience, it’s the concrete things that begin to be more persuasive. And here it’s a major problem for the Coalition in that it has almost nothing to say about wages that isn’t simply more theory.
“By focusing on delivering a strong economy we create the right environment for wages growth,” was about all Morrison said on the matter this week. The problem is that if you believe the Coalition, they’ve been delivering a strong economy for years now and wages have gone nowhere.
In those circumstances, you probably need a better pledge than “if you just keep waiting, the wages will come”; that you should trust the system that hasn’t delivered for you yet.
Now look at Labor’s posture. What the Coalition calls “new taxes” Labor sells as closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to reduce their tax bill – negative gearing and refundable franking credits being prime examples.
It is pledging to restore penalty rates, and focuses its tax cuts on individuals earning under $125,000 per year. In short, it’s stuff that is concrete, targeted at individuals, and badged as being all about “fairness”. In that way, it speaks the language of the moment; a language that would have been positively suicidal as recently as when Labor was last in office, but which is suddenly plausible.
To be clear, there’s a vagueness to Labor’s offering. The Coalition asks an excellent question – not yet convincingly answered – when it asks how exactly Labor intends to create economic growth, rather than fairness alone.
It’s also unclear precisely how Labor intends to tackle wage stagnation for those not eligible for penalty rates. To what extent, for instance, does it think wages are stuck because union power is limited? Does it plan to loosen those shackles? Would it, say, bring back the right to strike? Or does it have some post-collectivist idea we haven’t yet heard?
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely Labor will seriously have to answer these questions if the Coalition’s main strategy is to appeal to our faith in capitalism.
Of course, it’s possible the strategy will work; that we’ll discover that the turn away from capitalist orthodoxy is thinner than it appears and that faced with the prospect of taking the plunge into Labor’s scepticism, we baulk and become prodigal capitalists.
But if not, we face the prospect of Labor’s economic worldview being triumphant but ultimately untested because the Coalition couldn’t find something relevant to say.
IN RESPONSE TO this article, and in reference to the March AFR Business Summit with a Keynote Speaker being a leading economist, Keyu Jin, who alleges that Australia will lose out if we do not follow the likes of World-beaters like the Balkans, Latin America and Africa who can now rely on the systematic flow of Chinese investment … at a price … but not that China wants to get hold of what “we have” … cough … cough … and all of it!
The WORLD is a big place, and no doubt others too would like our commodities! And it would seem there are many other Nations that could provide us with cheap household wares that rapidly end up in landfill, or we could manufacture our well-made goods again … heaven forbid!
What we are seeing is the Chinese are buying us out of house and home!
And as a CAAN Commentator suggested PERHAPS we need instil fear in our commodities because the Chinese despite their love of money are even more superstitious so to counter their agenda we need instil bad “Feng Shui” practice in our housing designs blessed with the devil spirits.
Then put the word out that our baby formula has been contaminated, and elephant tusks and rhino horns have evil voodoo, or we haven’t got a hope in Hades of stopping them from their buy-up of our Real Estate and everything else!
How embarrassing this must be for all the generations of immigrants before them? How they must be cringing at the activities of their former homeland leaders from the Communist Party and the plans Xi Jinping has lined up for us and indeed the World!
Political hostility towards China will backfire for Australia: Keyu Jin
By Michael Smith
30 Jan 2019
Shanghai | Australia will lose out if political sentiment is hostile towards China given other countries in Europe, Africa and other parts of their world are opening their door to the world’s second’s largest economy, leading economist Keyu Jin says.
Professor Jin, a London School of Economics professor and a keynote speaker at The Australian Financial Review Business Summit in March, said China remained interested in buying Australia’s exports and investing in the country but a hostile attitude towards its economic growth could backfire.
“China has vast interest in continuing its collaboration with Australia in terms of importing resources and also investing. But the political sentiment is not necessarily conducive for the collaboration … especially if Australia takes on a more hostile view towards China,” she said.
“I think that would be very sad given there are so many synergies between the two countries. A misunderstanding and misinterpretation of China’s – let’s say – Western-perceived ambitions would hurt the relationship and that would be unfortunate.”
“There are many other countries that are strengthening their ties with China, in Europe, the Balkans, Latin America and Africa, because they can rely on the systematic inflow of investment and support of various kinds. and that is what China is willing to do.” Professor Jin’s comments came as Canberra faced more diplomatic uncertainty with China following the detention of Australian writer Yang Hengjun and Canberra’s support for a US-led ban against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne this week signalled a tougher stance against China’s aggression in the South China Sea while also calling for greater political and economic engagement with Australia’s latest trading partner.
“It would beunfortunate to let politics get in the way of development,” she said in an interview that took place before his speech.
China’s relationship with the United States and its traditional western allies is in the spotlight following the arrest of senior Huawei executive in Canada and her pending extradition to the US.
‘Totalitarianism 2.0’: Australians would be ‘mad’ to choose China over US, warns Niall Ferguson
By Jacob Greber
London-based Professor Jin, the Harvard-educated daughter of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) president Jin Liqun, is a prominent economist and has often been characterised as a bridge between China and the west.
Huawei ‘will do just fine’
Speaking by telephone from Davos where she told audiences that fears about China’s slowing economy had been blown out of proportion, Professor Jin downplayed the backlash against Huawei, which she said had the most advanced 5G technology in the world.
“Huawei is going to be an ongoing issue, there is no doubt about that. I think Huawei feels it has been unfairly treated but in the end countries will make their own choices about whether they want to adapt the best technology that it is years ahead or not,” she said. TheUS filed a series of fraud charges against the company this week.
“In the end it is individual countries that will prioritise different things. Huawei still has a big domestic market in China, their technology is unparalleled when it comes to 5G. It will do just fine.”
London-based Professor Jin is the Harvard-educated daughter of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank president Jin Liqun (pictured). Jason Alden
The case further inflamed US-China tensions and followed confirmation by the White House on Monday that its top trade negotiators will hold two days of talks with a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He on Wednesday and Thursday.
Professor Jin said she was optimistic the US and China, which has signalled it is willing to make concessions, could negotiate a truce in the trade war which threatens global economic stability and would harm both countries.
“There are growing hopes there will be a deal done because both sides clearly want it,” she said.
“China needs to bide some time, strengthen its economy and wants to prevent any subversive elements from taking place. You will always get some tit-for-tat back and forth, but I think we are basically safer than getting into a real conflict.”
While upbeat on China’s future economic prospects, Professor Jin said the world was heading for a financial recession triggered by US rate increases, the vulnerability of emerging markets and political issues such as Brexit.
“None of that is looking all that good so I think there is a quite a big probability, or at least a knowable possibility, of a financial recession coming down the line given we are ten years due for a recession,” she said.
It would be unfortunate to let politics get in the way of development. Keyu Jin, London School of Economics
“The question really is how many people are really prepared for the oncoming recession in terms of protecting their financial situation and being prepared for a Fed hike.”
She said China’s biggest challenge was reforming its financial system to ensure resources were redirected to the companies that needed them. China last week posted its lowest quarterly growth rate since the global financial crisis.
Room for improvement
China’s gross domestic product rose 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter, in line with economists’ forecasts, while annual growth came in at 6.6 per cent, which was the lowest in 28 years.
President Xi Jinping urged government officials to guard against unexpected financial risk.
“I don’t think it is right to say that China’s growth has permanently slowed but let’s get prepared for that. I think China needs to sort out of some of its problems, mainly the financial system distortions that are preventing resources from being directed to more productive firms and firms that really need them,” she said.
“These contradictions and distortions can be improved over the next three years and you can well see that enhanced dynamism in the private sector whether it is through entrepreneurship, innovation or increasing services, urbanisation. All of that can be unleashed better with a better financial system.”
The Australian Financial Review Business Summit, presented by BHP, is on March 5-6, 2019 in Sydney. Find out more at afrsummit.com
For months the Morrison Government has argued Labor’s controversial plan to raise more than $5 billion a year by scrapping refundable franking credits on dividends from shares is “not fair”.
Photo: The Australian
In a speech to the Alliance for a Fairer Retirement System, Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said the plan would hit some of the lowest paid Australians.
“How is that fair on the lowest paid, those with low fixed incomes, those who are retired?” he said.
“It is not fair.
“Any changes will overwhelmingly hit low and middle-income earners, with 84 per cent of the individuals impacted on taxable incomes of less than $37,000 …”
Will the changes mostly hit low and middle-income earners, with 84 per cent on taxable incomes of less than $37,000? RMIT ABC Fact Check investigates.
Mr Robert’s claim is misleading.
He suggests Australia’s least well off will bear the brunt of the pain.
To make his case, Mr Robert relies on the taxable income of people claiming excess franking credits as a cash refund. This is problematic for a number of reasons.
First, taxable income does not include the largest source of income for many retirees: superannuation.
Superannuation income (for fund balances of up to $1.6 million) is generally not subject to tax in the retirement phase, and is therefore excluded from taxable income.
Second, in a related sense, taxable income often has little to do with wealth.
For example, the Grattan Institute has estimated that, when superannuation withdrawals are pared out of income data for retirees, almost half of the “wealthiest” 10 per cent of people over 65 report incomes of less than the $18,200 tax-free threshold.
Third, Labor’s policy applies to both individuals and superannuation funds. By focusing on individuals, Mr Robert is ignoring the impact that would flow through to members of superannuation funds, particularly self-managed superannuation funds, which account for almost half the refunds claimed.
Figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office show that almost a quarter of all refunds claimed in 2014-15 went to 33,761 self-managed superannuation funds with balances of over $2.4 million.
This is not to say the policy will have no impact on some individuals with modest incomes and wealth.
What is clear, however, is using the taxable income of individuals tells us little about the overall financial position of those affected, or about the fairness or otherwise of Labor’s policy.
What is dividend imputation?
The dividend imputation system was introduced by the Hawke government in 1987.
The logic was that the profits of Australian companies should not be taxed twice: first at the corporate level; and second at the shareholder level, after distributing profits as dividends.
Hence, “imputed” credits were attached to dividends, equivalent to the amount of company tax already paid on those dividends.
These credits, known interchangeably as imputation credits or franking credits, could be used to offset an individual’s tax bill.
The catch under the original system was that once an individual’s entire tax liability had been offset, any excess credits could not be claimed as a cash tax refund, and were effectively worthless.
In 2001, following the 1999 “Ralph Review” of business taxation, the Howard government changed the law to allow individuals and superannuation funds to claim “excess” imputation credits as cash refunds.
Under those changes, which apply today, if an individual or superannuation fund has imputation credits exceeding their tax liabilities, they are entitled to a cheque from the Government handing back the difference.
If an individual pays no tax (with a taxable income below the $18,200 tax-free threshold) they are entitled to a refund for all of their imputation credits.
According to Treasury documents released under freedom of information laws, in 2014-15 the value of franking credits refunded was $5.9 billion.
The largest portion, $2.6 billion, went to self-managed superannuation funds, followed by $2.3 billion to individuals, $700 million to tax exempt entities and $300 million to regulated superannuation funds.
In his claim, Mr Robert referred only to refunds claimed by individuals.
Background to the claim
The Coalition Government has repeatedly suggested the proposed changes are unfair for people on lower incomes.
For example, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Parliament on November 26, 2018:
“On average, if you’ve got a self-managed super fund, you’ll be $12,000 worse off under Labor’s policy. If you’re an individual with these franking credits, you’ll be $2,200 a year worse off as result of Labor’s policy. What’s more, 84 per cent of those people who are currently getting the benefit of those franked dividends have a taxable income under $37,000—under $37,000!”
In a January 21 press release, he said despite Labor claims the policy would tax the rich “nothing could be further from the truth with about 84 per cent of those affected having a taxable income of less than $37,000, and 96 per cent of those affected having a taxable income of less than $87,000”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (when treasurer) said the policy was a “cruel tax to hit retirees with small nest eggs”.
“These aren’t millionaires and multinationals,” Mr Morrison said in a press release.
“They are grandads and grandmothers simply seeking to support their own retirements. They are in Labor’s firing line while those with more means dodge the tax hit.”
Labor, on the other hand, argues the system of refundable imputation credits is an anomaly in the Australian tax system (and internationally) as most tax credits are non-refundable.
For example, the Low Income Tax Offset or the Seniors and Pensioners Tax Offset can be used to reduce tax liabilities, but they cannot be claimed as refunds if those tax liabilities are fully offset.
According a Labor policy paper, the “vast majority” of working Australians don’t receive cash refunds for excess imputation credits.
“Recipients of cash refunds are typically wealthier retirees who aren’t PAYG (Pay As You Go) tax payers. These are people who typically own their own home and also have other tax-free superannuation assets,”
The cost to the budget of the refund system for imputation credits is substantial. When the change allowing cash refunds was introduced, it cost the budget about $550 million a year, compared to about $5.9 billion a year in 2014-15, according to Treasury figures.
Labor is promising to reverse the Howard government decision to introduce cash refunds for excess imputation credits for individuals and superannuation funds.
Labor’s original policy, announced on March 13, 2018, would have applied to all individuals and superannuation funds claiming excess credits.
Two weeks later, on March 27, after warnings the policy would hurt some low and medium income pensioners receiving income from imputation credits, Labor announced what it called the “pensioner guarantee”.
Under this change, according to estimates by the Parliamentary Budget Office, some 320,000 pensioners and allowance recipients would continue to be able to claim cash refunds for excess imputation credits.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also promised self-managed superannuation funds with at least one pensioner or allowance recipient before March 28, 2018 would be exempt.
The PBO estimated this iteration of the policy would improve the budget position by $10.7 billion over the four-year budget period — about $700 million less than its original announcement.
Almost two-thirds of this revenue, or $6.9 billion, would come from superannuation funds, with the remainder ($3.8 billion) collected from individuals.
After overhauling the dividend imputation system in 2001, the Howard government introduced other changes benefiting superannuated retirees.
Specifically, in 2006 it announced superannuation income streams would be tax free for individuals aged over 60 from July 1 2007.
As superannuation fund Sunsuper explains to its members, in addition to this measure, the investment earnings a superannuation fund earns for any person receiving an income stream from their superannuation savings are also now tax free.
*Under the current rules, individuals can transfer up to $1.6 million into a tax-free, retirement phase superannuation account.
In the pre-retirement phase, superannuation funds generally pay 15 per cent tax on earnings.
This also allows them to benefit from franking credit refunds, as the current corporate tax rate on which the franking credit is based is 30 per cent.
Testing the claim
Mr Robert’s assertion is difficult to precisely assess independently, at least on publicly available data.
ATO statistics based on information contained in individuals’ tax returns do not capture all franking credit refunds.
As the ATO says on its website, individuals who are not required to lodge a tax return can still claim a refund.
And according to Treasury, there are “difficulties” in using tax data to estimate the number of people holding retirement phase accounts with self-managed superannuation funds who receive franking credit refunds.
The Grattan Institute’s Brendan Coates and Danielle Wood have pointed out the fragmented nature of the data on what retirees earn, what they own and what tax they pay.
Fact check: Do two-thirds of negative gearers have a taxable income under $80,000?
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says that two-thirds of people who use negative gearing have a taxable income of under $80,000 a year.
“Personal income tax returns provide only a patchy picture of the earnings and wealth of retirees,” they wrote.
“Superannuation payouts have been tax-free since 2006: they don’t even have to be declared on personal income tax returns. And draw-downs of savings other than superannuation to fund retirement — whether shares, bank deposits or investment property — are not declared as income.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducts a survey of share ownership and other assets for retirees.
But the survey does not include information on imputation credits received, nor tax paid.
Fact Check contacted the ATO and Federal Treasury requesting detailed data needed to assess the claim.
Two sources of data are available. First, documents marked “protected” prepared by Federal Treasury but released under freedom of information laws provide an analysis of the impact of Labor’s plan, including by taxable income.
Second, the Parliamentary Budget Office has released two sets of analyses, the first requested by Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm, and completed in May 2018, the second requested by Labor MP Matt Thistlethwaite, and completed in November 2018.
The second of these analyses was released after Mr Robert made his claim.
Who bears the burden?
Federal Treasury undertook an analysis of 2014-15 taxation data to estimate the number of individuals claiming excess franking credits in various tax brackets.
As can be seen, according to Treasury’s analysis, 86 per cent of the individuals who received refunds had taxable incomes of $37,000 or less.
It is to some extent self-evident that the policy will mostly affect individuals on incomes below $37,000, because $37,000 is the threshold for the 32.5 per cent tax rate, higher than the corporate tax rate of 30 per cent that determines the franking credit.
As Treasury put it: “Providing refundability of franking credits allows taxpayers with a marginal tax rate below the company tax rate to receive a refund of tax paid by the company.”
Treasury also notes that individuals in the top two tax brackets receive “a small amount” of overall refunds, because of their high marginal tax rates.
“Refunds in these brackets would be limited to individuals with only a small proportion of income from other sources or a significant amount of tax losses/non-refundable tax offsets available,” it said.
Modelling by the Parliamentary Budget Office roughly concurs with Treasury’s assessment. It analysed 2014-15 tax data by income decile, finding that 87 per cent of those affected have a taxable income below $35,000.
What about the impact of Labor’s “pensioner guarantee”?
According to the Parliamentary Budget Offices estimates, there are some 320,000 pensioners and allowance recipients who claim refunds for excess imputation credits.
Those estimates show the guarantee would reduce revenue by $300 million in 2021-22, or just 5 per cent.
The relatively small loss of revenue due to the guarantee in itself suggests most of the revenue from the policy is not coming from full or part pensioners, but wealthier retirees.
According to experts consulted by Fact Check, the bulk of pensioners and allowance recipients would have taxable incomes below $37,000, although a handful of part pensioners might have taxable incomes above $37,000 and dividend imputation credits exceeding their tax liabilities.
For the sake of analysis, Fact Check assumed that 95 per cent of the 320,000 pensioners claiming cash refunds had taxable incomes below $37,000, finding some 83 per cent of individuals affected by Labor’s policy have taxable incomes below $37,000, after making allowances for Labor’s Pensioner Guarantee.
As previously noted, “taxable income” does not include the largest source of income for many retires: tax-free superannuation.
Nor does it tell us much about the overall wealth of those claiming refundable franking credits.
The Grattan Institute’s Ms Wood said analysing the changes by focusing on taxable income did little to explain the economic position of those affected by the policy change.
“Take the example of a self-funded retiree couple with a $3.2 million super balance, plus their own home, and $200,000 in Australian shares held outside super. Even drawing $130,000 a year in superannuation income, and $15,000 a year in dividend income, they would report a combined taxable income of just $15,000 and pay no income tax whatsoever.”
Calculations by the Grattan Institute show when superannuation income is removed from ABS income and wealth survey data (reflecting taxable income), almost half of the wealthiest 10 per cent of those over 65 report income of less than the $18,200 tax free threshold and thus pay no tax.
On average, however, this group had wealth of nearly $2 million, even before factoring in the value of their home or other property assets.
This illustrates the extent to which individuals with relatively high levels of untaxed incomes (including from superannuation) and wealth have low taxable incomes.
Economic modelling on retirement savers by a group of academics from the College of Business and Economics at the Australian National University, including Associate Professor Adam Butt, Dr Gaurav Khemka and Associate Professor Geoff Warren, found the impact of Labor’s policy would be “greatest for wealthier retirees”.
“Our analysis … confirms that the impact of the proposed Labor policy will be greatest for retirees on larger balances, with significant effects occurring at initial balances at age 65 ranging from $800,000 up to the $1.6 million limit on tax-free retirement accounts,” the academics said in a submission (no. 158) to a parliamentary inquiry.
Another way to view the issue is to look at share ownership by wealth.
The Parliamentary Budget Office estimated the bottom 50 per cent of households by net wealth own just 3.2 per cent of the total value of Australia’s shares, with 72 per cent of the value of all shares held by the top 10 per cent.
What about superannuation funds?
Treasury has found that 90 per cent of the refunds accruing to superannuation are claimed by self-managed superannuation funds.
The Parliamentary Budget Office analysed the impact of the policy on this sector, finding that in 2014-15, 201,439 self-managed superannuation funds claimed almost $2.6 billion worth of excess franking credits.
The bottom half by fund balance claimed just 6.4 per cent of the total value, compared to more than half claimed by the top 10 per cent of funds with balances of more than $2.4 million.
When considered as a proportion of the total refunds claimed in 2014-15 by superannuation funds, individuals and tax-exempt entities combined, the 33,761 self-managed superannuation funds with balances of more than $2.4 million accounted for almost a quarter of all refunds.
Treasury analysed the refunds to self-managed superannuation funds by the balance per member, rather than by the total fund balance.
It found that “more than two-thirds of refunds to SMSFs are to those whose fund balance per member is greater than $1 million”.
What the experts say
Melbourne University tax law expert Professor Miranda Stewart said the use of taxable income to assess the impact of Labor’s dividend imputation policy “does not tell us very much”.
“In fact it is precisely because taxable income is low that a refund is achieved,” Professor Stewart said.
Ms Wood, from the Grattan Institute, said most of the people affected were self-funded retirees.
“And the reason they are affected is because they get refunds and the reason they get refunds is because they have low taxable incomes,” Ms Wood said.
“The reason they have low taxable incomes is because the income generated by self-managed super funds up to balances of $1.6 million is tax free. So their taxable income could be low but their actual income is often reasonably healthy, but they are still getting access to imputation credits.
Kathrin Bain, from the School of Taxation and Business Law at UNSW Sydney, said as a general rule most of those affected by Labor’s policy had marginal tax rates less than the company tax rate.
“To be affected by this policy you have to have a marginal tax rate that is lower than the company tax rate,” Ms Bain said.
“If you are just looking at individuals, of course it is going to affect people with lower taxable income.”
“In terms of whether it is fair, that goes into a theoretical debate about what the imputation system is meant to do. Some people would argue of course you should get a refund because the whole idea of our current imputation system is that dividends are effectively taxed at the individual’s marginal rate. On the other hand, others argue that our original imputation system shouldn’t have been changed to give a refundable tax offset. The argument there is that even if no refund is available, the dividend still has not been taxed at a rate higher that the company rate.”
Ms Bain said the current system of refundable imputation credits benefits superannuation funds that have a tax rate of 15 per cent and will often receive large tax refunds as a result of the imputation system.
Photo: A hearing of the Franking Credit Inquiry in Dee Why, Sydney, in November.
Have these people and retirees like them across the Nation been misinformed by the LNP? You betcha! Meanwhile the LNP through its policies is denying our families a future in their own country with the ongoing sell-off to foreign buyers facilitated by no legislation for the Real Estate Sector to prevent black money awash in our property!!
Nice work. In short, it is another boomer tax rort.
WHAT has brought this issue back to the table? Ah, we have seen the Construction Industry through the LENS of the OPAL TOWER …
IT would seem the deve-loper lobby are seizing on the opportunity to revive their pitch for Medium-Density mouldy terraces again … ahead of a NSW Commission of Inquiry into the Construction Industry with Rowena Orr to run it.
The client for this survey happens to be the Committee for Sydney … have a look at who they are! No vested interests there, of course … cough … cough …
The NSW LNP have it all set up for ’em deve-lopers having rezoned our suburbs for higher density with the Medium-Density Housing Code and complying development; on lots as little as 400M2 so they can come in, buy-up your street, and build whatever they like!
So when a survey company calls have a think about what it will mean!
In this case another picnic for deve-lopers with row upon row of mouldy terraces sold off to foreign buyers …
WHY? Because the Feds policies on high immigration, Visa Manipulation, 100% sell off overseas, and No Anti Money Laundering Legislation for the Real Estate Sector remain in place with this Sector deemed exempt from the AML Legislation as recently as October 2018!
PLEASE SHARE this and many articles from CAAN to inform those aged between 18 to 34, renters and University Graduates so they will not be deceived by the Spin circulated about higher density!
Sydneysiders are more comfortable with extra medium density housing in their suburb than they are with a greater number of high-rise towers – even those who live in crowded inner city areas.
A new Ipsos poll on attitudes towards urban density conducted for the Committee for Sydney lobby group, underscores tensions about surging residential development amid the city’s population boom.
The majority of people – about 53 per cent – supported increased density in “satellite centres”, such as Parramatta, Rhodes and Liverpool, and outer suburbs in the Hills District, northern beaches and Sutherland Shire.
While 40 per cent of people supported greater density in the city’s core, 37 per cent were opposed.
Forty-one per cent of respondents thought inner city suburbs such as Newtown, Woollahra and Neutral Bay should get more residential housing, compared to 42 per cent of people who were against it.
However, the poll showed a preference for medium-density residences as opposed to high-density housing in all parts of Sydney.
Half the people surveyed supported more medium-density housing in inner suburbs, compared to 23 per cent who opposed it. Forty-two per cent were against more high-density housing in those areas.
More than half supported more medium density housing in the “satellite centres” and outer suburbs.
Opposition to increased development was highest when people were quizzed about their own area.
Overall, 47 per cent of respondents were supportive of more medium-density housing where they lived, while only 25 per cent were in favour of more high-density residential development nearby.
“People are clearly much more comfortable with medium density than high density, particularly when looking at their own suburbs,” Ipsos research institute director Stuart Clark said.
The NSW government faced widespread opposition to its medium-density housing code, which prompted a string of councils to seek a deferral of the planning rules to consider the impact of increased density last year.
Committee for Sydney acting chief executive Eamon Waterford said the broad support for medium-density housing in the polling data suggested policy-makers might need to revisit the code as the city’s population continued to climb.
“Really there are only two types of housing that are being built in Sydney at the moment – low-rise development and high-rise development.
“Maybe medium-density development is the answer to that dilemma.”
The poll showed support for increased density was greatest among people aged 18 to 34, renters and university graduates. Those aged over 50, retirees and homeowners were most likely to oppose it.
Jobs and growth … chasing its tail … with ever more people migrating here there is a much bigger pool looking for work … a million jobs 30 years ago when we had a much smaller population meant somethin’ …
KEY POINTS …
-almost half the new jobs created between 2013 and 2018 were part-time
-due tothe reduction in average hours worked, driven by part-time work, that the million-job threshold was reached and exceeded
-the labour marketmust create more than 1 million jobs every five years to keep up with population growth
Million new jobs promise will hinge on population growth
The federal government’s success in meeting a newly minted target to create 1.25 million jobs in the next five years will, like its predecessor, likely hinge on population growth, say economists.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the new target on Tuesday after the government last year met its target to create 1 million jobs in five years after its election in 2013.
“Our job growth has been high in terms of numbers but that is because the population growth, mainly immigrants, has been high,” Bob Gregory from the Australian National University Research School of Economics said.
“If you correct for full-time jobs the labour market has been even flatter because we have created so many part-time jobs. This is not necessarily bad, but it does mean that it is more difficult to get a job for those looking for full-time work.”
Professor Gregory said the federal government’s promise to creating 1.25 million new jobs in the next five years will depend in part on immigration numbers.
“If the government cuts immigration numbers substantially, the job growth will also fall so that they could not achieve 1 million,” he said.
Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales Richard Holden said flat wages growth was concerning and the unemployment rate could be lower, but overall the picture was not bleak.
The number of full-time jobs created has been high by historical standards and “there is not a big move to part-time and casualisation supported by the numbers”.
“Labour force participation rates in Australia are pretty high by world standards,” he said.
“I don’t agree with the idea that the economy is not creating enough jobs overall. And I don’t think the shift towards part-time is supported by the facts. A lot of people want to work part-time.”
A lot of people want to work part-time.
UNSW’s Richard Holden
*A report by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work to be released on Wednesday shows that almost half the new jobs created between 2013 and 2018 were part-time.
“It is only because of the reduction in average hours worked, driven by part-time work, that the million-job threshold was reached and exceeded,” the report says.
Report author Jim Stanford said the 2013-2018 period marked the 10th time in Australia’s history that more than 1 million jobs were created over five years. The first time was 30 years ago.
Dr Stanford said that given the size and growth rate of Australia’s working age population, the labour market must create more than 1 million jobs every five years to keep up with population growth and to maintain unemployment at its current rate.
“In the next five years, the labour market will need to produce well over 1 million jobs again, just to keep up with the swelling population.”
Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O’Dwyer said more than 1 million jobs have been created under the Coalition government but under Labor, the unemployment rate increased by 1.3 per cent.
Anna Patty is Workplace Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a former Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter. Her reports on inequity in schools funding led to the Gonski reforms and won her national awards. Her coverage of health exposed unnecessary patient deaths at Campbelltown Hospital and led to judicial and parliamentary inquiries. At The Times of London, she exposed flaws in international medical trials.
MIRVAC because of its projects in Marrickville and Sydney Olympic Park with Sydney’s apartment price index having fallen 5 per cent since their launch
SQM Research’s property analyst Louis Christopher said, despite recent falls, Sydney and Melbourne’s property market are still overvalued.
-despite the price falls
With an election a few months away where negative gearing is at play, and the banks are still being very draconian on providing loans to the market.
SQM predicts more price declines
HOWEVER, from Juwai prediction that Chinese buyers will be attracted by the price fall, and that their participation in the Australian property market especially for “new homes” will be maintained!
It would seem with tightening of bank credit that will lessen opportunities here for Australian First Home Buyers!!
Note nor has the Marrickville project been without community objection!
‘Mirvac most at risk’: Apartment warning to big property players
Australia’s largest property players face an escalating risk of buyers failing to pay at settlement time because of falling apartment and land prices, analysts say.
In a gloomy outlook for the country’s largest real estate developers, UBS says Mirvac, Lendlease and Stockland face a higher risk of settlements falling over because of their exposure to projects sold to buyers at the 2017 peak of the property cycle.
“We see Mirvac as most at risk followed by Lendlease and Stockland,” analysts Grant McCasker and James Druce said.
Australia is in the midst of a property slump with apartment prices falling 7 per cent in Sydney and 2 per cent in Melbourne.
Lending is down 22 per cent from its peak as the big four banks tighten the screws on investors, raising standard variable interest rates and ramping up scrutiny of borrower’s applications.
Apartment sales make up a significant chunk of earnings for Mirvac, in particular, over the next three financial years.
In 2020, nearly a third of the group’s earnings will come from settlements in Sydney and Melbourne.
The most at risk projects are in Sydney’s Marrickville and Olympic Park which “appear already out of the money” because Sydney’s apartment price index has fallen 5 per cent since launch, the analysts said.
St Leonards could also become an issue were prices to fall a further 5 to 10 per cent.
“We are less concerned about Lendlease’s settlement risk given the price growth since the 2015-16 launch dates,” Mr McCasker and Mr Druce said.
Another major developer, Stockland, has minimal exposure to the apartment market but is banking on substantial earnings from land sales for new homes.
The number of buyers cancelling contracts on land purchases is presently low, but UBS warns that tightening credit, price falls, incentives and lower deposits will increase the number of struggling buyers.
There has been a documented rise in speculative land buyers trying to offload their purchase contracts on Gumtree and other sites, which adds to the risks.
Mirvac, Stockland and Lendlease declined to comment on the report, saying they are in the ”blackout” phase before the release of their interim reports for the December half, due in the coming weeks.
“We expect Stockland’s second half settlements to disappoint as cancellation rates increase and settlement times extend,” UBS said.
Property experts believe there is more pain to come for the sector.
SQM Research’s property analyst Louis Christopher said, despite recent falls, Sydney and Melbourne’s property market are still overvalued.
“This downturn still has some legs to run yet,” he said Tuesday.
“Sydney and Melbourne remain heavily overvalued despite the price falls that have happened, there is an election just a few months away where negative gearing is at play, and the banks are still being very draconian on providing loans to the market.”
“We think there will be more price declines,” he said.
TODAY in the Oz “Berejiklian will form minority government”
The Australian’s NSW Political Editor Andrew Clennell says the Berejiklian government will be breathing a sigh of relief in light of Wednesday’s Newspoll numbers with the two-party-preferred vote at 50-50.
That Labor leader Michael Daley has been performing well, but will rely on ‘a protest vote against the government’ to get across the line …
There you have it folks … we KNOWwe have plenty to PROTEST about!
And why we want to hear more from Michael Daley about what his Government will do to take the pressure off NSW Families with the cost of quality affordable SHELTER a major factor!
Here is a small list of the LNP Damage!
REZONING for higher density for where we live! With Exempt and Complying Development (we have no say) …
–High-Rise Precincts, 20, 30, 40 or more storeys
–Medium-Density Manor Houses (blocks of flats), Terraces, Townhouses, Triplex, Duplex, Villas and Granny Flats next-door … it all comes under “Complying Development”
The Berejiklian Government Housing Boomhas not been able to meet the Foreign Demand …. a major factor perhaps why there have been so many dodgy builds! (85% of apartments defective on completion: Engineers Australia reports and others)
The SCOMO Government made the Real Estate Sector EXEMPT from Anti-Money Laundering Legislation in October 2018 … so with the house prices dropping the high influx of foreign buyers will be maintained!
IN NSW the Libs allege they have been working hard to build a stronger NSW to take the pressure off families … how come with the lowest wages growth, contract work = insecure work they can claim this?
That NSW has no debt and the budget is in surplus … well, they have sold off $BILLIONS of Our Public Assets …
In July 2018 Ryan Park, Shadow Treasurer issued this Media Release to reveal that “on top of the more than $50 BILLION of publicly-owned assets already sold off by the Liberal-Nationals which includes income–generating assets such as the Land and Property Information, electricity assets and the ports … “
That the “Berejiklian Government is asking its departments to identify which assets can be sold off, as it pushes ahead with its privatisation agenda and leaves NSW with less money in the long-term.”
The NSW Libs allege they have created more new jobs but … in fact the jobs growth has been weak barely enough to absorb the population growth!
And Australians have to compete with Visa workers willing to accept slave rates to gain permanent residency!
The infrastructure cannot catch up to the population growth … it began from behind in the first place!
Sydney has been ripped apart with the closing of the heavy rail network for months from Chatswood to Epping; more traffic clogging Epping Road, Victoria Road, and all those in between to be replaced with a dinky privatised Metro owned by Hong Kong Developer Consortium MTR for more Towers out to Rouse Hill!
The Light Rail Fail for the Eastern Suburbs that has meant much disruption and closed down businesses with fragmented replacement public transport.
WestCONnex and its tentacles paid for by taxpayers for Transurban’s benefit, and now homes are cracking up en route! And more!
Many of Our Public Schools have demountable classrooms covering what were playgrounds … again NSW INC has not been able to catch up with the population growth!
Every piece of land is made available by these Awfulizers to the Mates … whether it be a swimming pool, a sports field, a Stadium, an ice skating rink, bushlands, parks … for high density residential …
HAVE you received a letter in the mail from your local LNP MP much of which we have been able to refute as outlined above?
Further that: P.S. Voting is compulsory, “so I have enclosed a postal vote application form in case you are unable to go to a polling booth on Saturday, 23 March 2019.”
REMEMBER all the FACTS we have been sharing with you since November 2014, tell others, and VOTE the LNP OUT!
PM Scummo begins his re-election pitch today with a speech based upon fantasy:
Labor said we would fail, but we nailed it – 1.1 million jobs within five years and we are now past 1.2 million jobs.
Today, I am making a new jobs pledge for our government, to see 1.25 million jobs created over the next five years.
…[with] continued good management, our debt can be eliminated within the decade.
At this next election, only half of those of voting age will have experienced a recession during their working lives.
So it is important to remind all of us that our economy cannot be taken for granted.
Over five years, we have repaired Australia’s fiscal position. We did this without slowing the economy or harming jobs growth.
You’ll be deciding the economy you and your families – your children and grandchildren – will live in for the next decade. And the consequences will be real.
Labor and Mr Shorten are offering you a weaker economy to live in, held back by higher taxes.
The jobs pledge is a nothing benchmark. As we pointed out during the Abbott years, the one million pledge is weak jobs growthamounting to barely enough to absorb population growth:
Job growth since September 2013 has averaged 18,200 a month, which is marginally above the 17,230 jobs per month created in the decade to September 2013, which also included the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis.
However, this level of jobs creation is off a much bigger base than was experienced previously. That is, there were 12,173,000 people in the labour market in September 2013, versus 11,253,900 in September 2008 and 9,985,900 in September 2003.
Australia’s population is also growing quickly, which (other things equal) means that employment must grow faster to absorb the additional workers.
At current rates there will be another 800k foreign workers in Australia over the next five years leaving a paltry 200k to split between the existing population.
As we have observed for the past five years, this level of influx of foreign workers destroys industrial relations rules. It is no wonder then that the underemployment rates was virtually unchanged from November 2013 to November 2018 – i.e. 13.8% versus 13.4% – nowhere near low enough to generate wages growth.
The second pledge of paying down net debt is preposterous, especially so when coupled with employment commitment. Over the next five years China will almost certainly slow and commodity prices fall, as well as the world experience a shock of some kind necessitating greater fiscal spending and deficits. This is underlined by the fact that in the past year government created 304,500 jobs, whereas private sector employment contracted by 92,700 jobs. There are no private sector drivers for jobs growth with mining carrying over-capacity and the much vaunted services economy paralysed by deleveraging and the RBA out of bullets.
As that process intensifies and the private sector retrenches, if government runs larger surpluses while Australia runs external deficits then the basic calculus of GDP guarantees that growth, jobs and budget revenue will fall. Yet somehow Scummo is pledging to find an additional 35bn per annum to pay off the $350bn in net debt.
It is also a straight lie that the Coalition has not raised taxes since 2013, they have marched higher, via Gerard Minack:
And they will continue to do so thanks to bracket creep and a Coalition schedule of tax cuts that heavily favour the wealthy.
The one pledge that we can expect the Scummo Government to deliver on in spades is a boom in economic lies.
Economic experts have warned the Government faces a challenge in meeting its new jobs target if it restricts migration, and even if it does deliver on its pledge, Australians may not be the ones to benefit.
It follows a similar pledge by Tony Abbott prior to the 2013 election to create 1 million jobs by 2018.
Peter McDonald, Emeritus Professor of Demography at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, said it was an “achievable” target and that a recent projection of labour market demand by Victoria University had already earmarked a similar level of demand.
But he also noted migration was the largest contributor to the growth in employment numbers in Australia since 2013, ahead of the growing trend for older Australians to stay in work.
The permanent migration program was reduced from around 190,000 to just above 160,000 in the past two years.
Mr Morrison revealed last year it’s likely the intake would remain at this new, lower level.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said his firm forecasted that, at this stage, jobs growth would fall short of the Government’s 2023 target.
“You get, basically, growth in jobs pretty much anyway — over time, there are more Australians, that typically means more jobs, but it does get more complicated than that,” Mr Richardson said.
“An ageing population means more people are retiring, that makes it harder.
“The migration debate — if it means winding back the number of migrants — that also makes it harder.”
The Department of Jobs’ Employment Outlook, released last year, projects employment to increase by 886,100 over the five years to May 2023.
Mr Richardson said the ratio of new skilled adult migrants to jobs growth was “pretty much one to one”, despite community concerns over migration fuelled by “barbecue logic”.
“People think, ‘well if migrants arrive, surely they’re taking jobs and if other things are equal, that means less jobs for everyone else’,” he said.
“If somebody puts up a hand to take a job — a migrant, a married woman, a Martian — they get the job, they earn the income, spend the income, then create the next job.”
Professor McDonald said if the Government restricted permanent migration, the employees needed by Australian businesses would not come from the ranks of the local unemployed.
“If labour demand is strong, and permanent migration is not filling the demand, then it will come from temporary migration or New Zealanders,” he said.
A reduction in immigration, he argues, would not necessarily lead to more jobs for Australians.
What total drivel. Australia has a large surplus of labour which is why wages are stuck in the gutter:
If migration is cut then we’ll see a shift in the patterns of demand in the economy not the end of the world. There will be less urbanisation and therefore less jobs in that area. That will result in lower interest rates and a much lower currency triggering greater offshore demand and boosting the 40% of the economy that is tradable. Ironically this will prevent any serious shakeout from hitting urbanisation sectors while rising prospects for exporters and import competers will create more jobs in those areas of the economy and they will all go to locals. When the labour market tightens enough and shortages appear then wages will rise. Fancy that!
If these wage rises get excessive then interest rates will rise and job creation slow or firms invest more heavily in automation for greater productivity and the gains be shared with fewer needed workers. these are also the dynamics that will easily resolve any aging population issues.
This is simply called an “adjustment”. The economy is not set in concrete (unless you’re paid by property developers to say so), it is a living system designed to compensate for such shifts.
What this debate is really about is not who gets what jobs but which elements of capital win along the way. McDonald and Richardson are obsessed with supporting the immigration-led urbanisation sectors to the detriment of tradables and wider community living standards as infrastructure fails to keep up, wages are crushed by the rush of cheap foreign labour and house prices shoot to stupid levels. McDonald is a demographer not economist so has no idea. Richardson has simply lost the macro plot.
Before these dills came along with their immigration voodoo Australia and its labour market fared just fine and it will afterwards as well. In fact it will be better in time as the permanent supply shock of cheap foreigners killing wages and productivity ends, boosting income.