Opal Tower owners corporation back NSW Building Commissioner comments

BUILDING COMMISSIONER DAVID CHANDLER warned that homebuyers should take it upon themselves to inspect apartments before they settle and adopt a “buyer beware” mindset.

IT is evident that Mr Chandler’s comments come as a consequence of the malaise of this industry, the evidence amassed over many years of defective construction and defective building materials used in housing/high-rise projects

With the industry having been deregulated, with the loss of Standards, the importation of defective building materials and Visa Workers, home buyers have been rendered no guarantees apart from self inspection and investigation … what has it come to in NSW INC?

Opal Tower owners corporation back NSW Building Commissioner comments

The owner’s corporation chair of Opal Tower has backed contentious comments from the Building Commissioner, saying in a perfect world consumers should not have to inspect buildings but until the industry changes it’s every man for himself.

Danielle Le Messurier, Anna Caldwell, Exclusive, The Daily Telegraph

October 29, 2019

AAP4:17New powers to tackle shoddy building work

October 23, 2019. NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson speaking to media at state parliament about new legi…

The owner’s corporation chair of Opal Tower has backed controversial comments by the state’s Building Commissioner, saying in a perfect world consumers should not have to inspect buildings but until the industry changes “it’s buyer beware”.

Shady Eskander said while the state government should be protecting homebuyers who have “no way” of peering behind the walls of brand new high-rise towers, consumers must do what they can to protect themselves until legislation is overhauled.

“Definitely I agree it’s not our job to know (about defects) but until the industry gets their act together and fixes the market, of course I’m going to beware,” Mr Eskander said.

Opal Tower owner’s corporation: Nick Cubbin
Opal Tower owner’s corporation: Nick Cubbin

“If you’ve got the Building Commissioner telling you yourself be careful – that is the fairest thing to say. He’d be lying if he said don’t worry, the government is going to get this right.”

It comes after Building Commissioner David Chandler was criticised at a budget estimates hearing on Monday for saying homebuyers should take it upon themselves to inspect apartments before they settle and adopt a “buyer beware” mindset.

“If I was in the market for a $750,000 apartment I would certainly be looking at who was the builder and I would certainly be wanting to have a better look at the apartment and the building before I settled,” he said.

Building Commissioner David Chandler has come under fire over controversial comments at a budget estimates hearing. Picture: Richard Dobson
Building Commissioner David Chandler has come under fire over controversial comments at a budget estimates hearing. Picture: Richard Dobson

Labor MP Courtney Houssos described Mr Chandler’s comments as “remarkable” while colleague Daniel Mookhey said he believed the average consumer would expect the government to regulate to ensure the product served up is acceptable.

Opal Tower in Sydney Olympic Park was evacuated on Christmas Eve when cracks appeared in the brand-new 392-unit high-rise.

Residents from 22 apartment are still unable to return due to ongoing remediation work.

Owners have launched a class action against the state government’s Sydney Olympic Park Authority – which owns the land on which Opal Tower sits – for losses incurred as a result of damage from defects.

The majority of owners in Opal Tower have launched a class-action lawsuit against the state government, which owns the land the high-rise sits on. Picture: AAP
The majority of owners in Opal Tower have launched a class-action lawsuit against the state government, which owns the land the high-rise sits on. Picture: AAP

It’s understood the total value of sales in the 36-storey tower was approximately $350 million and the claim could be around that figure.

Mr Eskander, who purchased his unit off-the-plan, advised homebuyers to avoid purchasing an apartment built in the last five years and know what they are buying.

“It is not our role to go and ensure the correct concrete strength was applied, the correct amount of steel reinforcement was therewhat are we paying for at the end of the day if we’re doing all of that?” he said.

Former Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Chairman of the Opal Tower body corporate Shady Eskander speak to the media during a press conference in Sydney. Picture: AAP
Former Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Chairman of the Opal Tower body corporate Shady Eskander speak to the media during a press conference in Sydney. Picture: AAP

“It is not our job but until the government realises they have to change this industry 100 per cent buyers beware of buying off-the-plan apartments.”

Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson last week introduced a suite of reforms into parliament to tighten the state’s construction industry.

*They include new measures to make it easier for owners of defective apartments pursue damages and a new registration scheme for building practitioners.

*Lead researcher in the field of defective buildings Dr Nicole Johnston of Deakin University said that while it was true “everyone needs to be a little bit more conscious”, the most problematic defects are not observable.

A photo supplied to The Daily Telegraph shows cracks in the cement ceiling of level B1 of the Opal Tower in Homebush. Picture: Supplied
A photo supplied to The Daily Telegraph shows cracks in the cement ceiling of level B1 of the Opal Tower in Homebush. Picture: Supplied

She also said it was costly and time consuming to make checks on off-the-plan purchases and “no amount of due diligence can provide certainty that you are buying something safe”.

“There’s no way a potential purchaser would know the membrane applied to a wall will cause a systemic leak – they can’t see behind a wall, there’s only so much investigation they can do,” she said.

Labor spokeswoman for better regulation Yasmin Catley said it was “pretty obvious there has been a serious failure of regulation in the building industry and we need to immediately restore confidence.”

“Sending a buyer beware message demonstrates the total and utter incompetence of this Liberal National government.”

SOURCE: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/opal-tower-owners-corporation-back-nsw-building-commissioner-comments/news-story/1ced5078db352dd3837fabd39de21f74

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FITZGIBBON’s $150,000 from CHINESE DEVELOPER: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION – Former Defence Minister cultivated over years

COPIED FROM PDF:

Fitzgibbon’s $150,000 from Chinese developer: SPECIAL INVESTIGATION – Former defence minister cultivated over years

RICHARD BAKER PHILIP DORLING; McKENZIE, NICK.

The Age [Melbourne, Vic] 03 Feb 2010

PRIVATE records of a Chinese-Australian businesswoman close to former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon indicate he received substantial payments as part of a campaign to cultivate him as an agent of political and business influence.

The confidential papers of businesswoman Helen Liu contradict claims last year by Mr Fitzgibbon and his father, former Labor MP Eric Fitzgibbon that they had no financial or business relationship with Ms Liu. Mr Fitzgibbon resigned from Cabinet last June after it was revealed his brother, NIB Health Funds chief Mark Fitzgibbon, had used his office to lobby for defence health contracts.

The minister’s political standing had already been weakened by his failure to disclose that he had accepted two first-class flights to China bankrolled by Ms Liu, a wealthy entrepreneur with high-level political and military contacts in Beijing. He was also renting his Canberra residence from the Liu family.

The documents obtained by The Age show Ms Liu recorded her 1997-98 payment of 850,000 Chinese yuan approximately $150,000 at the then current values to Joel Fitzgibbon under the heading “money paid including expenses and gifts”. The same document shows Ms Liu recorded the establishment of a joint venture with the Fitzgibbon family, including reference to “Eric (Fitzgibbon) as agent. Regular visits to China. $3 million for start up”.

In a letter to a senior Bank of China executive, Ms Liu wrote that Joel Fitzgibbon would become a cabinet minister when federal Labor won power, adding: “The money we pay him is worthwhile.

The Age can also reveal that the office of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was told in April last year by lawyers for a former business associate of Ms Liu that Mr Fitzgibbon may have had more extensive dealings with the businesswoman than acknowledged.

In response to the latest disclosures, Mr Fitzgibbon said he had already declared all he was required to about his relationship with Ms Liu, who returned to China late last year where she remains. Last night she would not comment. Mr Fitzgibbon said:

“I totally reject the suggestion that I have received any money from Helen Liu beyond campaign donations which were appropriately declared as required.”

He would not comment on his father’s dealings with Ms Liu. However, Eric Fitzgibbon who last year denied any commercial ties to Ms Liu has this week disclosed that he has worked for the businesswoman by helping sell apartments in her property development in Qingdao, in China’s Shandong province.

The former MP, who does not speak Chinese, said he was not paid in cash, but had his accommodation, travel and other expenses covered. Eric Fitzgibbon told The Age this week: “They were building a hotel, a major development in a part of China. They asked me if I would like to give them a hand for the selling of the units. I appreciated the opportunity.”

The 135 pages of personal and business records obtained by The Age after a 10- month investigation include a list prepared by Ms Liu recording “money paid” for unstated purposes to 22 individuals, including Joel Fitzgibbon, variously connected with her property interests in Sydney and Qingdao.

The list, apparently written in late 1998 or early 1999, includes senior Bank of China executives and high-level Chinese Communist Party and government officials. In another note Ms Liu refers to a planned private meeting with Joel Fitzgibbon to discuss “Family expenses support 20k.” The note also mentions Ms Liu’s intention to call on then NSW premier Bob Carr, stating: “visit Premier Bob C’s home”.

At that time, a NSW government department was a tenant in one of Ms Liu’s Sydney buildings. The note then refers to a visit to the home of a senior Bank of China executive, saying, “Give 50k cash as a gift” followed by a proposal to engage the man’s wife as a consultant. Mr Fitzgibbon was first embroiled in controversy in March last year when The Age revealed Defence Department officials had undertaken an unauthorised clandestine investigation of his 16-year relationship with Ms Liu. Mr Fitzgibbon then called Ms Liu a “close personal friend”.

Eric Fitzgibbon said at the time: “We might have had dinner a few times together, but there have been no big cheques in the mail or anything like that.”

The NSW Labor Party declared political donations by Ms Liu’s companies, including two donations totalling $40,000 to Joel Fitzgibbon’s 1996 and 1998 election campaigns.

The MP’s parliamentary declarations do not record any benefit from or financial relationship with Ms Liu other than his trips to China in 2002 and 2005, which were retrospectively added after the scandal erupted in March last year. Ms Liu’s papers include a letter to a close business associate in which she says Mr Fitzgibbon had boosted her business and political standing and that she was “willing to give him money”.

In a letter to the general manager of the Bank of China in Sydney, Ms Liu also noted that Mr Fitzgibbon was “very concerned” with legal action between herself and her former business partner, Humphrey Xu, and that the MP had given her “great help”.

The Age has had Chinese language documents included among Ms Liu’s correspondence translated by a nationally accredited translating firm. In April last year, former Labor leader Mark Latham, Mr Fitzgibbon’s former close friend, wrote in The Australian Financial Review that in regard to the relationship between Ms Liu and the Fitzgibbons he had “never encountered MPs so engaged, politically and financially, with a business benefactor” and “the full list of largesse received by the Fitzgibbon family is yet to be made public”.

Gillard’s office told of more ‘dealings’ Dorling, Philip; McKENZIE, NICK.

The Age [Melbourne, Vic] 03 Feb 2010: 2.

THE office of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard was told early last year that an associate of Helen Liu had fresh information detailing the Chinese businesswoman’s relationship with Joel Fitzgibbon.

The claim that Mr Fitzgibbon may have had more extensive dealings with Ms Liu than he had acknowledged was passed on to Ms Gillard’s office around April by Labor-linked law firm Slater & Gordon, where Ms Gillard was once a partner. At the time, Slater & Gordon was acting for a past business associate who claimed to have intimate knowledge of Ms Liu’s affairs.

The information given to Slater & Gordon included a a photograph of Mr Fitzgibbon drinking beer on a flight to China. The government has twice refused freedom-of-information applications to release any correspondence relating to dealings between Ms Gillard’s office and Slater & Gordon on the Fitzgibbon issue.

However, Ms Gillard’s office has confirmed that it was contacted by Slater & Gordon on behalf of a client of the law firm but said the information it was given was vague and uncorroborated. “No specific allegation was made and no supporting documents were supplied,” Ms Gillard’s spokeswoman said.

“The Government made appropriate checks and, given the lack of specific allegations or supporting documents, determined that no further action was required.”

The businessman conveyed the information to Slater & Gordon via an intermediary, who later claimed that the law firm had advised that involvement in political controversy could jeopardise the businessman’s dealings in NSW.

The law firm has declined to discuss its dealings with the businessman.

Mr Fitzgibbon resigned as defence minister on June 4, immediately following a meeting with then cabinet secretary Senator John Faulkner and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Alister Jordan.

Mr Rudd said the sole reason for Mr Fitzgibbon’s resignation was a conflict of interest arising from the lobbying activities of his brother, NIB heath funds chief executive Mark Fitzgibbon.

Shortly after his resignation, Joel Fitzgibbon told a local newspaper that Mr Rudd had “made it clear that there is a pathway back to the cabinet”. The minister, the money and Ms Liu:

FOCUS Baker, Richard; Nick McKenzie With PHILIP DORLING.

The Age [Melbourne, Vic] 03 Feb 2010: It was a relationship cultivated to open the doors of power and influence.

Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie report on the Fitzgibbon connection.

LIKE many ambitious property developers, Helen Liu was not about to lie down when her bank began pursuing her over millions of dollars in outstanding loans in the mid 1990s.

In her armoury was a weapon also familiar to those in her line of work: friends in high places. For Liu, these friends ranged from officials in the Chinese consulate-general in Sydney to those in the parliament houses of NSW and Canberra.

So, as the the Bank of China stepped up its demands, Liu fired back some missives of her own. In a letter to a senior bank executive, Liu made mention of a friend in Australian politics whose star was on the rise. “Joel Fitzgibbon has become a federal (MP). If the Labor Party becomes the dominant party, he will become a cabinet member,” she wrote to the bank executive. Before asking the bank to be “more co-operative with us and not

make any trouble”, she offered an intriguing aside in reference to Fitzgibbon.

“The money we pay him is worthwhile.” Along with this letter, Liu also sought the help of the Chinese consulate in Sydney, which intervened on her behalf in the first half of 1998. Her interactions with the Chinese consulate also feature Fitzgibbon’s name.

A letter written by Liu to the Bank of China’s top Sydney executive in June 1998 outlines the consulate’s intervention and Fitzgibbon’s interest in her affairs.

“Thank you very much for the help you have given us over the time. Mr Zhang, vice counsellor general in Sydney, said he has good relationship with you and has mentioned to you about us.

I appreciate your special help in our loan repayment. Federal (MP) Joel Fitzgibbon is also very concerned about the legal case I am involved in at the moment and has provided me with great help,” she writes.

Whether the dropping of a politician’s name a tactic that is also not without precedent in the world of property development had any impact is unknown, although the bank and Liu did reconcile some of their differences.

When, around a decade later, Fitzgibbon’s dealings with Liu became a political scandal, both Fitzgibbon and his father, Eric, maintained their relationship with Liu was strictly about friendship and nothing else.

But the revelation of Liu’s personal letters sourced from a collection of her papers obtained by The Age shed light on a more complex relationship. At the very least, they suggest the businesswoman’s motive in her cultivation of Joel Fitzgibbon, as well as his father Eric, was about more than friendship.

The relationship between the Fitzgibbons and Liu became public in March last year, when The Age reported that Defence Department officials investigated his ties with the well-connected businesswoman out of fear it could compromise national security.

After initially denying having received significant gifts or benefits from Liu, Fitzgibbon put his ministerial career in jeopardy when he belatedly admitted he had failed to declare to parliament free trips to China from his friend in 2002 and 2005. It also emerged he was renting Liu’s Canberra property. He constantly denied having any further commercial dealings with Liu and studiously avoided answering questions about other members of his family, especially his father, and their potential ties to the businesswoman.

Throughout it all, Fitzgibbon and senior ministerial colleagues, were at pains to suggest he had simply been sloppy with his parliamentary bookkeeping. The consistent line from the government was that there was nothing sinister about his relationship with Liu, who in the recent past had been pictured with prominent Chinese political, economic and military figures.

A Defence Department inquiry also found no evidence to suggest that defence officials had spied on the minister, although Fitzgibbon later accused some within the bureaucracy of working against him. But it was his own habit of making inaccurate or incomplete disclosures that would lead to his ministerial demise.

Matters came to a head last June when it emerged he had given a public statement that contained misleading answers to questions about his brother’s lobbying activities in Canberra. In contrast to a previous denial, Fitzgibbon was forced to admit his brother, health insurance executive Mark Fitzgibbon, had used his ministerial office as a venue to lobby defence officials for contracts.

After a meeting with then cabinet secretary John Faulkner and Rudd’s chief of staff, Fitzgibbon tendered his resignation from cabinet and returned to the backbench.

The disclosures about his relationship with Liu had been destabilising but not fatal. It was the mix-up over the venue of his brother’s lobbying that cruelled him. Or was it?

Ever since Fitzgibbon’s resignation, some of his parliamentary colleagues and Labor advisers have whispered that there may be more to the story than just the issue of Mark Fitzgibbon’s lobbying. As reported in The Age today, the government was told in April last year by Labor-linked law firm Slater and Gordon that one of its clients, an associate of Liu’s, was claiming that Fitzgibbon was not giving a full account of his dealings with her.

Among information given to Slater and Gordon was a photograph of a smiling Fitzgibbon drinking beer on a first-class flight to China. Some of this information was passed to the office of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, although Gillard’s office says the information received was not specific.

Preliminary checks were made, but there was not enough for the government to take any further action, Gillard’s spokeswoman said. But government sources have suggested that there may have been questions Fitzgibbon could not or would not answer regarding his family’s financial relationship.

Earlier this week, Fitzgibbon dismissed such claims, repeating his assertion that he has disclosed everything about his relationship with Liu that he is required to disclose. Liu’s personal papers indicate that, at least from her perspective, the story may not have been fully told.

Liu first met Joel Fitzgibbon when he had travelled to China in 1993. On this trip, Fitzgibbon had yet to enter Parliament and he was trailing along with Liu’s primary guest, his father Eric, for whom he worked as an electorate officer and whose federal ALP seat he would take three years later in 1996.

The trip was funded by Liu and her then boyfriend and business partner, Humphrey Xu. At this time, Liu and Xu were amassing a Sydney property portfolio that, in 1998, would be worth $60 million.

The pair were also seeking friends in politics in Australia, an aim that may have dovetailed with the growing friendship with the Fitzgibbons.

Donation records from the 1996 election campaign lodged by the NSW ALP branch at the time show that as the younger Fitzgibbon moved to succeed his retiring father, his campaign was given a $20,000 injection by one of Liu’s companies.

Among Liu’s papers that document her dealings with the Bank of China are other documents that suggest the existence of other financial dealings with the Fitzgibbons. In one note from Liu’s file, she documents a meeting with Fitzgibbon.

“Meet Joel in private. Family expenses support. 20 k.” It is unclear exactly what this note refers to and, earlier this week, Joel Fitzgibbon also professed to have no knowledge of what it could mean.

Fitzgibbon’s name also appears on a list of 22 names in which Liu appears to record whom she had paid. The list includes large payments to Bank of China executives and senior Communist Party figures, some of whom are now serving jail sentences in China for corruption. Her documents also record the establishment of a joint venture company with Fitzgibbon’s family, with his father Eric as the representative agent, a claim that contrasts with the pair’s previous denials of any commercial relationship with Liu.

Presented with the claims this week, Joel Fitzgibbon maintained that no such relationship ever existed between himself and Liu. Indeed, Fitzgibbon told The Age he was unable to shed light on the meaning of some of the claims in Liu’s personal papers, although he was adamant that he never did any improper favours for Liu and had nothing to hide.

However, his father, Eric Fitzgibbon, this week revealed the existence of a previously unknown role he undertook for Liu after he was replaced in Parliament by his son. He claimed no joint venture ever existed, but said:

“They where building a hotel, a major development in a part of China. They asked me if I would like to give them a hand for the selling of the units.” Eric Fitzgibbon told The Age he sold apartments on behalf of Liu. “I appreciated the opportunity. I can’t remember how many units I sold.”

When asked whether he got any payments for this work, Eric Fitzgibbon said his only benefits were travel expenses, including trips to China and a trip to London, and some lunches. He said he was also paid around $3000 to look after the Liu family’s dogs.

Eric Fitzgibbon also suggested that some of the statements in Liu’s papers were a case of a businesswoman big-noting her connections, a view seemingly shared by others.

In one of the documents among her personal papers, a senior Chinese company official writes to Liu to apparently express the view that her political manoeuvring in Australia counted for little in China. “We are the Shandong Branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. We do not express any opinion regarding the position you take in Australian political parties. Please seek advice from appropriate lawyers on whether your donation to the ALP complies with the laws of Australia,” the bank executive wrote in 1996.

While Liu’s papers suggest that it was her intention to use her connection to Fitzgibbon the politician, rather than Fitzgibbon the friend, to influence her commercial and political dealings, they contain no evidence that Joel Fitzgibbon ever approved such an arrangement.

But suspicions about the 16-year-long ties between the Australian politician and his businesswoman friend are likely to be fuelled by today’s revelations. Among the key questions that may arise is “who was using who?”

Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie are with The Age investigative unit

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/1333_age5.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3d1BBQDciWDYA4ejWyPQx6MREm5hoyytI8dYtx0JtQ5eRI_eQ8QQzK2Rs

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DEVELOPER Lang WALKER boosts Fortune on Rental Income

UPDATE ON WALKER CORPORATION … Following stiff resistance from local WILTON residents, court action and negotiations with the local council the focus now appears to be on commercial rental property development in Sydney and Melbourne …

SADLY despite the resistance from the Wollondilly community the new Walker Corporation estate comprising 696 lots in a housing corridor near Sydney’s second planned airport at Badgerys Creek will be proceeding … along with those of Chinese developers, Country Garden, and Dahua …

  • the consequent loss of Koala habitat, flora, fauna and farmlands

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Billionaire developer Lang Walker boosts fortune on rental income

Simon Johanson
By Simon Johanson

October 30, 2019

Billionaire developer Lang Walker has boosted his considerable fortune after soaring rental income at his property projects earned Walker Corporation more than half a billion dollars in pre-tax profit last financial year.

Lang Walker at his exclusive Fiji resort, Kokomo.
Lang Walker at his exclusive Fiji resort, Kokomo.CREDIT:LOUIE DOUVIS

Walker Corporation turned over $777 million in revenue from billion-dollar projects in Sydney and Melbourne last financial year, a $49-million boost on the previous period, financial statements lodged with Australia’s corporate watchdog show.

The company reported an after-tax profit of $363.4 million.

Mr Walker is renowned for taking big calls on the direction of the property market and backing his judgment, a strategy that has helped cement his business and wealth.

His company is in the early stages of developing the $3.2 billion Parramatta Square project in Sydney and has finalised the $3 billion Collins Square development in Melbourne.

The directors believe [divulging information] would be likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the company.

Walker Corp directors’ report

Walker Corporation recently announced it had won stage one approval for a large housing project in South East Wilton, in Sydney’s south-west, where it encountered stiff resistance from local residents, court action and negotiations with the local council.

The new estate will include 696 lots in a housing corridor near Sydney’s second planned airport at Badgerys Creek.

Tenants are set to move into the first of four towers in Parramatta Square this December when GT Insurance and Universal Fitness join anchor tenant the NSW government in a 65,000-square-metre 40-storey tower.

Parramatta Square will future-proof the group’s earnings for years to come.

Another big contributor to the bottom line was Collins Square in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, where five office towers have been completed and fully leased.

The ambitious project has a raft of blue-chip corporate tenants across 240,000 square metres of office sitting above 10,000 square metres of retail and hospitality space managed by Walker companies.

Around 40,000 people work or visit the precinct each day.

The group’s development portfolio has swollen to $3.8 billion, up from $2.9 billion the year before, which itself was a sizeable increase on the year earlier.

A report from the company’s directors, which include Mr Walker and his wife Sue, said the group will – after the financial year’s end – increase its debt facility by $1 billion.

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Current debt liabilities stand at $2.7 billion, accounts show.

Company directors were circumspect on Walker Corporation’s future development opportunities.

“Further information on likely developments … have not been included in this annual report because the directors believe it would be likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the company,” the directors’ reported.

Rental income from property investments increased 13.8 per cent to $119.6 million, while the company’s other major earner – property sales – contributed $76.3 million, a decline of $20.3 million from the 2018 financial year.

Simon Johanson

Property Editor at The Age and BusinessDay journalist for Fairfax’s theage.com.au, smh.com.au, watoday.com.au and brisbanetimes.com.au.

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/billionaire-developer-lang-walker-boosts-fortune-on-rental-income-20191029-p5358h.html

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COMPANY OF ANTHONY PRATT: AUSTRALIA’s Richest Man: Pays virtually NO TAX

TAX HAVENS like Bermuda, Hong Kong, Singapore together, it would seem, are a boil on the face of the global tax system.

IS it the case that we AUSTRALIANS also pay the price of environmental damage with much of this packaging ending up in either landfill or recycling piles?

Company of Anthony Pratt, Australia’s richest man, pays virtually no tax

Exclusive: despite reaping profits of more than $340m since 2013, a Pratt holding company has paid little tax

Ben Butler and Amy Remeikis

Tue 29 Oct 2019

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Donald Trump and Scott Morrison with Anthony Pratt during a tour of Pratt Industries in Wapakoneta, Ohio, 22 September 2019
 At the opening of a Pratt factory in the US with Donald Trump, Scott Morrison described Anthony Pratt, centre, as the ‘Don Bradman of job creation’. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

A key company in the business empire of Australia’s richest man, Anthony Pratt, has paid very little tax since 2013 despite reaping profits totalling more than $340m over the same period, corporate and tax records show.

Pratt, who is ranked No 1 on rich lists maintained by the Australian Financial Review and The Australian, runs a globe-spanning packaging business and has raised money for both sides of politics.

At the opening of a Pratt-owned factory in the US last month with Donald Trump, Scott Morrison described Pratt as the “Don Bradman of job creation”. Earlier this year, beforethe federal election, Pratt hosted a $5,000-a-head fundraiser for then opposition leader Bill Shorten at his family’s historic Melbourne mansion, Raheen.

 Morrison visits an Australian box factory in Ohio – and the Trump crowd goes wild

Katharine Murphy in Wapakoneta, Ohio

Katharine Murphy

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Pratt Consolidated Holdings, which is ultimately owned by a Pratt family trust, collects dividends from other companies in the group and passes them on to the trust.

Pratt Consolidated Holdings’ most recent annual report, from 2018, does not disclose which companies it owns in Pratt’s global empire, which includes the Visy packaging company in Australia, a similar business called Pratt Industries in the US and a recycling business in Europe.

Its accounts, filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, show that between 2013 and 2018 it paid more than $295m to the family trust, and accumulated a net tax benefit of about $2,300.

Data provided by the federal government under tax transparency laws shows that between 2014 and 2017 the company accumulated a taxable income of $327m but paid tax in only one of the years in question, 2017, when it paid $18.85m to the ATO.

This equates to an effective tax rate of 5.8%, or less than a fifth of the headline corporate tax rate of 30%.

Accounting figures and tax data frequently do not match because they are calculated differently.

Visy and Pratt’s US chief executive, Brian McPheely, did not respond to Guardian Australia’s inquiries about the tax paid by Pratt Consolidated Holdings, the difference between the figures in company accounts and government data and the structure of the group.

However, the company appears to be drawing on tax losses run up from unprofitable activities in the past – something it would be completely within its legal rights to do.

Jason Ward, the principal analyst at the trade union-backed Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research, said it was “disturbing that one of the largest companies in Australia – with global operations and owned by Australia’s richest man – appears to pay virtually no tax”.

He said it was “shocking” that the company did not disclose where the dividends it received came from.

Current tax rules do not require entities like Pratt Consolidated Holdings to disclose where dividends come from within those groups.

“The lack of transparency makes it impossible to know the full picture.

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Australia does better than most countries, but we are still losing billions in revenue, from those who can most afford to pay, that should be funding our schools, hospitals, aged care, infrastructure and other essential public services.”

The Pratt family’s business empire also includes companies in tax havens Bermuda, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Guardian Australia’s questions about the role of Pratt Holdings (Bermuda) Ltd, which Bermudian records show is run by directors including Pratt and his partner, Claudine Revere, were also not answered.

However, corporate records in the UK show a Hong Kong company called Allpak Trading owns the European recycling business, Visy Recycling Europe.

Allpak is in turn owned by one of the Australian companies in the Visy group, Hong Kong company records show.

Visy also has a trading arm in another tax haven, Singapore, that “is innovating supply chains by sourcing new cutting edge products saving our customers time, money and working capital”, according to the company’s website.

*Neither major political party would comment on Pratt’s tax arrangements, despite a campaign from both to tackle tax avoidance.

*“The government doesn’t speculate on the detailed tax affairs of any particular taxpayer,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.

 

Ten companies pay 45% of all corporate tax in Australia

 Read more

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“There are a number of legitimate reasons why, in any given year, a company may pay tax at a rate below the headline corporate tax rate.

“The government has however taken significant action to ensure that where companies should be paying tax, that they do pay that tax. Since 1 July 2016, the ATO has raised almost $14bn in tax liabilities against large public groups, multinational corporations, wealthy individuals and associated groups. Of this almost $9bn in liabilities was raised from multinationals and large companies.

In responding to questions from Guardian Australia, Labor’s Andrew Leigh focused on the more general issue of tax loopholes, which he said the Morrison government had not tackled.

“The Liberals refuse to close tax loopholes that are seeing billions of tax dollars flowing out of Australia’s tax system,” he said.

“Tax havens like Bermuda are a boil on the face of the global tax system. Yet the Morrison government defends tax havens, and refuses to get tough on multinational profit-shifting.

“Right now, two dollars in five of multinational profits pass through tax havens like Bermuda. Firms that channel profits into tax havens are cheating the Australian taxpayer.”

SOURCE: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/29/company-of-anthony-pratt-australias-richest-man-pays-virtually-no-tax?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX01vcm5pbmdNYWlsQVVTLTE5MTAyOA%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MorningMailAUS&CMP=morningmailau_email

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WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR AUSTRALIA TO REVOLT?

DESPITE all ‘the damage’ … So Far! ???

WE FIGURE THERE IS A LOT OF TRUTH IN THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS …

Australians are without a doubt some of the dumbest people I have met.

Conversely they also think they are the smartest people in the world.

Sure there are pockets of smart people in OZ, and plenty of idiots abroad – but on the whole it is a deeply unintelligent place.

I think one of the worst aspects of the stupidity is the self congratulatory self indulgence of the inner city urban elite. Truly the absolute epitome of feckless wonders. Just mind boggling levels of stupidity all glossed over with an almost hysterical devotion to political correctness that leaves no need or requirement for any facts, education, reason, ration, debate or logic. Just hysterical devotion to absurd social just campaigns.

I have come to the conclusion that Sam Harris, Peters, Chomsky, Hitchens belief in religion as an evolutionary manifestation – it can take on many forms, sinfulness is not restricted to the lords book.

Its like a modern Temperance movement.

The rurals don’t get off either – their denial of global warming and devotion to the LNP is disgusting its deep profound stupidity.

AND

-It was not always so. The mass protests in Australia that were called the Vietnam moratorium marches, stopped our involvement in that war. I was in the thick of it. It happened, and it worked. *

FROM ANOTHER

The first thing to do is to overthrow the media status quo. Once people stop believing the publishers of press releases and the spin doctors other things will follow.

Once they start asking how people like Liz Allen, Innes Willox and the band of usual suspect “economists” lead the discussion and debate they will begin to wake.

Anger usually follows the realisation that you have been systematically lied to by the ideological and self-interested.

Most Australians have not yet realised that the Wizard behind the curtain is a corrupt media in bed with the finance, banking, speculation and real estate cartel that are driving the great population Ponzi.

The hard to understand aspect is how the radical left threw in with the establishment to promote mass immigration. This has been an intentional strategy augmented by some really cynical manipulators and the white noise it creates prevents the truth about our “economy” and cost to our society from being known. That with the police state tactics of the last decade open up the possibility of truly frightening violence. If it happens the MSM should be held accountable for creating the conditions in which it fermented.

What will it take for Australia to revolt?

By Houses and Holes in Australian Politics

October 29, 2019 | 85 comments

US broadcasting legend, Larry King, says we should already be reaching for the revolver, at The Australian:

Veteran newsman Larry King has attacked Australia’s draconian freedom-of-speech laws, saying he would “react with violence” if police raided his home in a bid to identify the source of a story.

The American broadcaster, who hosted the eponymous Larry King Live on CNN for a quarter of a century, called on Scott Morrison to introduce legislation ­properly protecting whistleblowers and journalists, describing them as the cornerstone of a ­robust democracy.

King said he was outraged to learn Australian Federal Police had raided the home of News Corp Australia reporter Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters in June, in a crackdown on public interest reporting reliant on whistleblowers.

“I am not a violent person but, if that had happened to me, I would have reacted with violence,” the 85-year-old told The Australian.

Meanwhile, Marxism fantacist, Guy Rundle, says its inevitable at Crikey:

Nearly 10 years ago, the series of uprisings known as the Arab Spring began triggered by outrage at corruption, Wikileaks revelations, the self-immolation of Tunisian vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi and, above all, mobilisation in Cairo.

The first uprising substantially entwined with social media — the then-relatively new Twitter and Facebook — ensuring the event rapidly globalised.

As the journalist Paul Mason noted, by this point the world was thronged with newly-minted graduates — products of the long boom, whose futures were now cancelled by the 2008 crash.

The disjuncture had created a fatal gap within which absolute demands for recognition and justice could form.

*From Greece to Occupy to the Arab Spring, such malcontents had formed a new class in their own right, less likely to stoically accept a tightening of conditions than beaten-down workers and peasants. The new class could come together thanks to two newish things — the smartphone and social media — which in turn shaped their resistant identity.

*Now, the world is rising up again.

From Lebanon to Chile to France to Hong Kong people are in the streets. But this time it’s not principally or even significantly this new class; its gone one stage down to the old-fashioned working class.

In France it began with the gilets jaunes, protesters of a fuel tax, who had donned the safety vest that all French drivers have to carry in their car boot. They were angry that Macron’s elite government, who were flying everywhere, had imposed a tax which took many to the edge of solvency, and then airily spoke about climate change.

Premium: Act 11 Of The Yellow Vest Mobilization In Toulouse

A Yellow Vest protester holds a placard calling for the RIC (Citizens Initiated Referendum). For the Act XI of the Yellow Vest movement, more than 10 000 people took to the streets of Toulouse for the anti-governement protest on January 26th 2019.NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

In Chile, the first neoliberal society — the wisdom of Hayek and Friedman imposed with death squads — the cause has been a hike in subway fares; in Ecuador, it’s the withdrawal of fuel subsidies.

And in Lebanon the protests were triggered over taxes on use of the WhatsApp messaging system.

Mr Hariri announces his resignation in a televised address

Mr Hariri announces his resignation in a televised address: Reuters

It would be easy to mistake these for old-fashioned middle class tax revolts (and I’m sure the IPA will), but something else is clearly going on.

Governments with both a shrinking revenue base due to the mobility of capital, and with debt increasingly weighing upon them, are turning to easily applicable “life taxes” to fill the gap. These fall on workers and are better seen as a wage cut than a tax rise. For many, such taxes carve into their basic ability to live anything other than a “bare” life.

This sudden shift in peoples’ willingness to put up with the slow stagnation of their conditions is yet another sign that the decade-long period of “quantitative easing” has ended, and the effects of that are beginning to be felt.

There was no real recovery after 2008; simply money pumped in vast quantities, much of it hoarded by its recipients (beneficiaries of bond buy-backs), and inflating prices on the real conditions of life. The money that did trickle down pooled into the easiest channels; start ups with no revenue base or realistic business plan, and consumer franchises.

…What happens next? This wave will eventually crash across the Anglosphere when all the Trump-Brexit bluster is revealed as such. And of course the ethno-nationalist right will adapt it to their own, more lethal, ends.

And in Australia? Should a major reversal hit this place, watch out. The hidden contradictions here are greater than elsewhere.

Our traditions of mass protest are sleeping, but not yet dead. Politics, like economics, is a matter of time. That time comes when you can only live by changing life; a point that is reached when you can’t buy a tram ticket; when your life is weighed in the scales that have been taken from you.

I wish. Liberalism needs a reboot. As much to escape the totalitarian clutches of globalists like Rundle as it does to dodge the ethno-nationalist right”. Both are the enemy of progress.

But we have no history of mass protest worthy of the name to point to.

What will it take for Australia to revolt?

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/10/what-will-it-take-for-australia-to-revolt/#comments

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Solving AUSTRALIA’s WAGE CRISIS Puzzle

Image result for DAVID ROWE CARTOONS SCOMO

HOW COMPLICATED IS IT ???

IS this why the Howard Government introduced 457 visas?

IT has worked just as intended, along with allowing international students to work here, driving up unemployment, underemployment and driving wages down

IS it so the business mates can maximise their profits?

Solving Australia’s wage crisis puzzle

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

October 29, 2019 | 4 comments

MSM economist , Jason Murphy, yesterday penned an hand-wringing article lamenting Australia’s poor wage growth:

So, why are wages so low?

The fall in wages isn’t just an Australian phenomenon. It has been global among advanced economies. And we still don’t know exactly why it has happened. This is one of the things economists have to admit sometimes. The economy is complex, we don’t understand it fully.

There are a lot of theories why wages have fallen. It might be the decline of unions. It might be the rise of international trade. It might be underemployment, the rise of technology, the power of big business to pay lower wages or lower labour productivity growth…

But the best economists have fallen on the data and tried to analyse it to determine which of the above is to blame. They tend to come up saying, it’s a little bit of everything, but even when you take these things into account, we still can’t fully explain how low wages growth is.

That leaves a mystery factor.

“It appears that some, as yet unidentified, common factor, or factors, have weighed on wage growth in recent years,” the RBA says…

The good news about the mystery factor is it seems to be on the wane.

In the US and the UK, where wages growth was, like Australia’s, depressed for a long time, growth has recently jumped up to 4 per cent per year. This week, UK wages growth hit its highest level in 10 years.

What those countries have done is drive unemployment way downbelow 4 per cent.

That needs to be a priority here too, and all arms of government — RBA, treasurer, and state treasurers too — should be working to achieve it.

There’s a reason why Australia’s policy-makers have failed to “drive unemployment way down”:

*the endless strong influx of migrant workers has meant the labour market is forever in a state of overcapacity:

*The lion’s share of recent migrants are of prime working age and, therefore, have high labour force participation.

In fact, a recent paper by Melbourne University Professor Peter McDonald, found that around three quarters of employment growth in Australia between 2011 and 2016 was attributed to immigration:

The permanent and temporary skilled migration policies established by the Australian Government from 1995 played an important role in meeting that labour demand, especially in the boom years of the first decade of the 21st century…

From July 2011 to July 2016, employment in Australia increased by 738,800. Immigrants accounted for 613,400 of the total increase

Migration has had a very large effect on the age structure of employment with most new immigrant workers (595,300) being under 55 years.

Hence, the ongoing supply shock from immigration is unambiguously the primary reason why labour supply continues to outrun demand and why wage growth remains weak, especially among younger Australians.

Related to the above is the systemic wage theft from temporary migrants, which has become entrenched across the entire Australian economy:

*Entire industries have become heavily reliant on migrant workers to perform low-skilled work in the labour market for below award rates, which is unambiguously undercutting local workers and lowering overall wage growth.

The impact is most pernicious on younger Australians, as explained recently by the Grattan Institute:

As the Productivity Commission noted, where migration does displace existing populations, it tends to affect people with low skills and youth most. That seems to be happening in Australia. And because international students and backpackers are primarily looking for part-time work, they may affect under-employment more than unemployment

Low-skill migrants might also put downward pressure on wages (if accurately measured). The measured wages of those aged 20 to 34 have not risen as fast as the wages of older workers for some time (Figure 7)…

Australia is now running a predominantly low-skill migration system. People from this system form a material proportion of the younger workforce. Because of visa conditions, many of these migrants have incentives to work for less than minimum wages, and there is anecdotal evidence that many do.

It is impossible for data sources on the Australian labour force to pick up all of this phenomenon. It is possible that the scale of this influx to the labour market is depressing wages and increasing under-employment specifically for low-skill younger workers.

Commentators like Jason Murphy need to examine the issue honestly and admit that the mass immigration ‘Big Australia’ policy is a key driver of Australia’s wage crisis.

Thankfully, commenters on his article seem to have a greater grasp on the issue:

Easy

Economics can be complicated but there is one principle that is simple: supply and demand. If there are too many people competing for jobs, then wages will stay low. To increase wages you need to reduce the number of people available for work. One way to do that is to reduce immigration levels.

captain goodvibes

*This is why the Howard Government introduced 457 visas. It has worked just as intended, along with allowing international students to work here, driving up unemployment and driving wages down so the Liberal’s business mates can maximise their profits.*

Barters

*What the US and UK also did was heavily reduced immigration and created tariffs on anything created outside of their country. While this was massively unpopular by those with the loudest voices, it seems to have had the desired effect in the long run. To improve the lives of those living within the country closing it’s borders. If we want wage growth to trend upward here, we need to stop the influx of cheap labor and often cheap highly skilled labor.

Miles

Wouldn’t be due to the influx of cheap foreign labour into the country due to fake ‘shortages’ now would it? It’s so obvious, and yet nothing is done to stop it.

captain goodvibes

There are and have never been shortages of workers, just shortages of employers willing to train employees on the job and pay them a fair wage.

Some of the categories included in the 457 schedule are a joke.

QED

Image result for DAVID ROWE CARTOONS JOHN HOWARD

Photo: David Rowe

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/10/solving-australias-wage-crisis-puzzle/

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Working Class woes: ALP Strategists blamed: The Australian

Working-class woes: ALP strategists blamed

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese at the Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Sunday. Picture: AAP
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese at the Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Sunday. Picture: AAP

Queensland Labor veteran Robert Schwarten has launched an ­assault on ALP election strategists and senior MPs, accusing them of losing touch with voters and leaving “working-class” candidates ­exposed in seats the party should have won.

Mr Schwarten, a former Queensland minister and leader of the house, said the Labor election review would be another “sanitised, workshopped” document ­ignoring the realities facing ­regional communities and failed tactics that damaged “working-class ­candidates”.

The Queensland party stalwart, who represented Rockhampton for two decades and supported the ALP campaign in the key federal marginal seat of Capricornia, said he knew Labor was in trouble when lifetime supporters were asking him why they were “robbing older people and closing coalmines”.

READ NEXT

Mr Schwarten’s intervention came after Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre, called for a working-class quota system to weed out staffers, union officials and apparatchiks from ALP parliamentary teams.

In his new book Getting the Blues: the Future of Australian Labor, to be launched by opposition Treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers in Melbourne on Thursday, Dr Dyrenfurth also attacked “progressives” in the party ­obsessed with identity politics.

John Curtin Research Centre@curtin_rc

Please join us in Sydney as @AWUnion National Secretary @DanWaltonAWU launches @dyrenfurth‘s new book, Getting the Blues: the Future of Australian Labor.
When: Mon 4 November, 6pm
Where: Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/544651222746286/ …
RSVP: info@curtinrc.org

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103:54 PM – Oct 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee John Curtin Research Centre’s other Tweets

Anthony Albanese, who will deliver the first in a series of “value statement” speeches in Perth on Tuesday, rejected claims Labor was moving away from its working-class roots, saying it was a “progressive party of change”.

“The fact is we are a broad-based party; I want to see more people of whatever background join the Labor Party … but the Labor Party is a party of change, we are a progressive party,” the Opposition Leader said.

Work history of the Labor frontbench

Chart
ANTHONY ALBANESEBank officer, ministerial adviser, party official, senior policy adviser.
RICHARD MARLESSolicitor, union legal officer, federal assistant secretary TWU, assistant secretary ACTU.
PENNY WONGIndustrial officer, ministerial adviser, barrister.
KRISTINA KENEALLYTeacher, Society of St Vincent De Paul co-ordinator; NSW MP, minister and premier.
TONY BURKESales and shop assistant, union organiser; electorate officer.
BILL SHORTENAWU national secretary, director of Victorian Funds Management Corporation, director of Australian Super.
TANYA PLIBERSEKWorked in domestic violence unit of NSW Ministry for the Status of Women; electorate officer.
JIM CHALMERSDeputy chief of staff, chief of staff to treasurer Wayne Swan, executive director, Chifley Research Centre.
MARK BUTLERUnion official.
CHRIS BOWENIndustrial officer, chief of staff to NSW minister Carl Scully, councillor, mayor.
CATHERINE KINGFederal Department of Health, KPMG.
JOEL FITZGIBBONSmall business operator, electorate officer.
DON FARRELLIndustrial officer, assistant secretary, secretary, Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association; founder, Farrell Wines.
MARK DREYFUSSolicitor ministerial adviser, barrister.
MICHELLE ROWLANDDirector, Western Sydney Area Health Service; non-executive director, Western Sydney Parklands Trust; chair, Screen NSW.
KATY GALLAGHERCommunity worker, union organiser.
LINDA BURNEYDeputy director general, director general, NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs.
JULIE COLLINSManager, Department of Tourism, (Tas), Senate adviser, state secretary, ALP (Tas).
BRENDAN O’CONNORUnion official, assistant national secretary, Australian Services Union.
JASON CLAREMinisterial policy adviser, senior policy adviser to NSW premier; manager, Transurban.
AMANDA RISHWORTHUnion representative, psychologist, occupational health and safety trainer.
TERRI BUTLERCommunications officer, articled clerk, lawyer.
MADELEINE KINGAdviser, CHOGM; ministerial adviser; director, UWA Centenary Celebrations; chief operating officer, Perth USAsia Centre.

An audit of Mr Albanese’s 22 frontbench members shows most were political staffers, union and party officials before entering parliament. Nine frontbenchers were former political staffers, and 10 have union backgrounds.

Mr Albanese, himself a former NSW ALP official and Labor staffer, said his party “doesn’t just ­occupy space” and sought government in “order to change the country for the better”.

He said there was no rush on unveiling the party’s policy agenda and Labor would “do things on our own time”.

“You don’t win an election in 2022 in October 2019,” he said.

Mr Schwarten said there was too much intervention in grassroots regional campaigns by Labor headquarters and warned there was a problem when a coalminer, Capricornia candidate Russell Robertson, “can’t get coalminers to vote for him”.

He said the “Big Brother” tactics of campaign committee members in key electorates, including the central Queensland seats of Capricornia and Dawson, had delivered “total dysfunction”.

Robert Schwarten. Picture: Jann Houley
Robert Schwarten. Picture: Jann Houley

Mr Schwarten, who doesn’t agree with working-class quotas, said they were pushing for an on-the-ground campaign visiting workplaces but faced resistance from party strategists who adopted a “phone” strategy, harassing local voters at “meal times”.

“It was a rerun of a campaign handbook that has failed three times over … these campaigns were smothered by the party mach­ine,” he said.

“We had excellent candidates hampered by a centralised campaign that was irrelevant to these regions and which meant they weren’t allowed to speak and be themselves.”

Mr Schwarten said Labor’s inability to sell its policies on coal and franking credits triggered a situation where the Liberal Nat­ional Party filled the void.

“I think Chris Bowen telling people to vote against us … was full of arrogance, hubris, it was a smart-ass comment that earns you the result that we got.”

He said the election review was a “factional balancing act” led by former politicians who had “no idea” about Rockhampton or coalmines.

“People are not stupid, people do evolve, we are nation of thinkers, but if you talk about phasing out coal without having a proper intellectual discussion about it, it is not only stupid but also arrogant in suggesting you know best.

“The electorate told us they know best.’’

John Curtin Research Centre executive director Nick Dyrenfurth. Picture: Supplied
John Curtin Research Centre executive director Nick Dyrenfurth. Picture: Supplied
Getting the Blues: the Future of Australian Labor, by Nick Dyrenfurth. Picture: Supplied
Getting the Blues: the Future of Australian Labor, by Nick Dyrenfurth. Picture: Supplied

Former Labor senator Doug Cameron, a prominent left-wing figure, launched an attack against Dr Dyrenfurth following an extract of his book appearing in The Weekend Australian, labelling him a “pseudo-intellectual of the right”.

“The right-wing, conservative embrace of neo-liberalism by some in the party is a major impediment to engaging with ­working-class Australians,” Mr Cameron wrote on Facebook.

“Dreaming up reasons to move more to the right will not restore Labor’s credentials with dis­affected and disadvantaged ­working-class Australians. The policies we took to the last election should be defended and promoted. Capitulation to neo-liberalism will not save the ALP.”

(((Nick Dyrenfurth)))@dyrenfurth

My response to @DougCameron51’s surprising criticism of the @australian news story on my new book. #auspol https://twitter.com/dougcameron51/status/1187895378596679680 …

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Doug Cameron@DougCameron51I posted, on my Facebook page, a short critique of those in the Labor party who would have us reject progressive policies and become a pale imitation of the Coalition. We need to challenge the belief that we should appease the Murdoch press and capitulate to neoliberalism.171:48 PM – Oct 26, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee (((Nick Dyrenfurth)))’s other Tweets

Dr Dyrenfurth said “if persistently calling for workers to be represented on company boards is right-wing, I plead guilty”.

Dr Chalmers, a right-faction MP, welcomed “all contributions in the aftermath of what was a pretty devastating election defeat”. While not agreeing “in every way” with working-class quotas, he said Dr Dyrenfurth’s book was part of a process for supporters to put forward ideas.

SOURCE: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/labor-hero-blasts-poll-strategists/news-story/2975ea8001bcd87bfc97cedbf468d8cf

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WHAT is it with the Two Major Parties and the CCP Influence?

FROM THE COMMENTS …

‘ … Look at the facts.

We have had Chinese billionaires slapping wads of cash about both sides of politics. We have had Australia lay doggo on Hong Kong. We have had Australia do nothing about Chinese security types turning up at our universities to tone down any Uiyghur or Hong Kong related protest. We have Australian universities plugging into Chinese security apparatus with design work.

We have how many people pinged for illegally buying Australian real estate? Or laundering corruption proceeds?

Australia with its current posture is a liability to the concept of ‘Western democracy’ – and both sides of politics are central to that. And China is the major geopolitical beneficiary of that policymaking squeamishness.’

28 October 2019

When three high-tech Chinese warships sailed into Sydney Harbour on what appeared to be an unannounced visit, suspicions were raised

Photo:  When three high-tech Chinese warships sailed into Sydney Harbour on what appeared to be an unannounced visit, suspicions were raised

ALP and LNP have “understanding” to protect CCP influence

By Houses and Holes in Australian PoliticsChina American Cold War

October 28, 2019 | 10 comments

Via the Daily Mail:

The Labor Party has been reluctant to seek answers on why the Chinese frigates sailed into Sydney Harbour.

The Opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong, who hails from Labor’s left faction, didn’t pursue the issue in Senate Budget estimates committees last week.

The Labor Opposition failed to ask even one question about this on either Wednesday or Thursday, as it grilled senior executive public servants from the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments.

The Senate committee instead spent its time questioning Defence officials about building cladding and ship building in Adelaide.

Daily Mail Australia understands Senator Wong wanted other issues raised instead of this surprise visit of Chinese frigates.

While China’s human rights abuses, Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and the disputed South China Sea were discussed, the issue of the Chinese warships wasn’t asked about once.

Instead, Labor's foreign affairs frontbencher Penny Wong (pictured) spent half an hour on Thursday pursuing Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her department secretary Frances Adamson about the 2016 US presidential election

Instead, Senator Wong spent half an hour on Thursday pursuing Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her department secretary Frances Adamson about the 2016 US presidential election.

Even though only senators could ask questions on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Senator Wong’s spokesman referred Daily Mail Australia to Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles, who sits in the House of Representatives.

A spokeswoman for Mr Marles, Labor’s deputy leader, said Opposition senators were unable to ask every question they wanted to, adding there could be another opportunity by the end of the year as Defence officials were grilled again.

The Labor Opposition failed to ask one question about the Chinese naval visit (Sydney’s Garden Island pictured) on either Wednesday or Thursday, as it grilled executive public servants from the defence and foreign affairs departments

‘Pending the committee’s approval, Labor would welcome the opportunity of a spill over day for Defence estimates,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Any opportunity for a spill over day would be used by Labor to raise questions on the issues which are keenly in the public’s interest.

‘Labor will use estimates to hold the government to account.’

Liberal senator Con­cetta Fierravanti-Wells in June slammed her own side of politics for allowing the Chinese visit on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. This week, she failed to raise this matter with Defence chiefs in Senate estimates

Liberal senator Con­cetta Fierravanti-Wells in June slammed her own side of politics for allowing the Chinese warships visit in June.

‘Scott Morrison’s cabinet of groupthinkers and those responsible for the decision have sought refuge­ in appeasement,’ she wrote in a column for The Australian.

‘They were totally outmanoeuvred by Beijing.’

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian knew nothing of the visit, but a troupe of flag-waving Chinese citizens (pictured) were on hand to greet the ships as they docked at Garden Island

*New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian knew nothing of the visit, but a troupe of flag-waving Chinese citizens (pictured) were on hand to greet the ships as they docked at Garden Island*

Despite raising those concerns, Senator Fierravanti-Wells also failed to raise that issue on Wednesday or Thursday, even though she is a member of this parliamentary committee charged with probing Defence and Foreign Affairs officials.

Daily Mail Australia contacted her for a response.

Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University’s Canberra campus, said there was ‘no doubt’ backbench MPs and senators from both sides of politics were pressured into refraining from asking questions about China’s defence interests.

‘What is illustrates is the Morrison Government have become ultra-sensitive about doing anything that Beijing might take offence to,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

Professor Hamilton, the author of Silent Invasion: China’s Influence In Australia, said the government ‘seems to have clamped down on those backbenchers who wanted to express their concern about continuing Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia and in the Pacific’.

Instead, Labor’s foreign affairs frontbencher Penny Wong (pictured) spent half an hour on Thursday pursuing Foreign Minister Marise Payne and her department secretary Frances Adamson about the 2016 US presidential election

Professor Hamilton said there appeared to be an arrangement between the major parties to tone down any criticism of China, adding there were MPs tainted by Chinese donations.

‘Both sides of politics are politically compromised by their dealings with wealthy donors and having people in the party who are agents of influence,’ he said.

‘Generally, there’s a kind of truce between the two major parties that “we won’t attack you if don’t attack us” and we’ve seen that over and over again.

‘An understanding: I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy.’

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank said China gained a lot more from the surprise visit to Sydney than Australia did.

Liberal senator Con­cetta Fierravanti-Wells in June slammed her own side of politics for allowing the Chinese visit on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. This week, she failed to raise this matter with Defence chiefs in Senate estimates.

‘One of the most common arguments in favour of military-to-military relations between the Australian Defence Force and the People’s Liberation Army is that such exchanges are supposed to improve the ADF’s understanding of the PLA and vice versa,’ researcher Charlie Lyons Jones told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I think it’s worth asking what the ADF got out of the visit because that, to me, seems unclear.’

ASPI’s director of defence, strategy and national security Michael Shoebridge said Australia needed to fear President Xi and be wary of defence arrangements with China.

‘The Australian public is well ahead of both sides of politics in understanding that it is not in Australia’s interest to increase the military capability or influence of the PLA either through research in our universities or through our direct defence relationship,’ he said.

He added that China’s authoritarian regime was ‘using its political, strategic, technological and economic power in the world in ways that are against Australia’s national interests, both in our region and inside Australia domestically’.

I sincerely wish that this was just conspiracy theory.

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/10/alp-and-lnp-have-understanding-to-protect-ccp-influence/

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Class warriors smash Albo’s “progressives” …

Two men and a woman standing on footpath with coffee cups talking.

PHOTO: Peter Khalil, speaking with Sarah and Samuel Abdelsayed, represents a diverse suburb in Melbourne’s inner north. (ABC News: Cameron Best)

CAAN’s observation too … that the PROGRESSIVE Policies … are not what a large number of Voters particularly Migrants are concerned about … they are ‘conservative people’ ….

AND many Australian Voters remain concerned about … the rising inequality and the shrinking Middle Class …

-a Whole Cohort in their 40s, 30s, 20s renting with no prospect of owning a home in their own country

IT may well take another term of more of the same from the COALITION … for these VOTERS to fully appreciate what Labor’s policies meant … but as recommended in this article that Labor should abandon *negative gearing and franking credit reform, and instead pledge to halve immigration to boost wages, take the pressure off house prices and decongest cities.

*Such policies unfortunately too hard for some to grasp!

-with competing misinformation circulated by Limited News etc

AND …

the Coalition before the next Election will have to address the cost of $16Bn p.a. for Franking Credits

Class warriors smash Albanese’s “progressive” Labor

By Houses and Holes in Australian Politics

October 28, 2019 | 21 comments

Via the ABC:

A senior Labor official has warned the party will continue to lose votes to minor parties like One Nation, unless it starts talking to more people than just “university-educated, city dwellers”.

ABC analysis of voting trends and census data revealed Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party polled strongly in electorates with a high percentage of migrants, despite an outspoken stance on immigration.

That’s proved a major concern for Kosmos Samara, the outgoing deputy campaign director of the Victorian branch of Labor.

“In Melbourne, we saw significant swings against the Labor party in what one would term traditional Labor heartlandouter western suburbs of Melbourne, north-western suburbs of Melbourne — where you do see quite a lot of ethnic diversity presence,” he said.

“The vast majority of those swings were as a result of Palmer United Party collecting a swag of votes in those suburbs.”

Labor polled relatively well in Melbourne, holding all of its seats in the Federal Parliament.

Migrants voting for One Nation

But the gradual erosion of Labor’s primary vote is of concern to Mr Samaras.

“Unless the centre-left in this country, and I would actually take an extra step in defining it as the broad left in this country, faces the reality that it needs to talk to more people than just urban, tertiary-educated constituencies, it would continue to see the rise of the One Nation vote, or what I would call the alt-right vote in this country.”

Mr Samaras said what was happening in Australia mirrored the voting patterns in other countries.

“Centre-left political parties are losing ground,” he said.

“They are increasing votes among what I would call the professional class — people with a tertiary education, who are progressive — but they are losing votes to the poorer constituency who once upon a time used to be the rock bed of the Labor party.

Egyptian-Australian Labor MP Peter Khalil, who represents an inner-north Melbourne electorate, told the ABC his party could not take the vote of multicultural communities for granted.

He’s part of a new caucus committee set up by Labor to examine a range of issues, including how to better connect with diverse voters.

“We need to work hard constantly to engage, to interact, to understand,” he said.

“Not just taking for granted that just because you’re a migrant — you’re going to vote Labor, it doesn’t work that way.

“We have to do better for migrant communities.”

Experts warning Labor is facing a problem

Emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Technology Sydney Andrew Jakubowicz said the last election saw an alliance formed between conservative migrants of different faiths.

“Whether they are Muslim, Christian, conservative Jewish, Hindus, Sikhs — there is no difference in the morality espoused by these groups,” he said.

“When there is a salient issue, they may very easily lock in together — not for long, and not continuously — but for enough time for people to amass a vote that might bring about change.”

Professor Jakubowicz said Labor’s support of the same-sex marriage vote triggered concern among conservative migrants who were already uneasy about the party’s increasingly progressive policies.

“It really scared many people, they were not expecting the world to change in quite that way,” he said.

“All of that has worked its way through really to the current situation.”

Labor’s wide-ranging post-mortem of its shock election loss is due within weeks, and is expected to examine the party’s efforts to connect with the multicultural communities.

Labor feeling the pain more than Liberals

Professor Jakubowicz said the anger among conservative migrants mainly affected Labor because it was moving them to the right of the political spectrum.

*But the ABC’s chief elections analyst Antony Green said the Liberal Party was unlikely to pick up those votes, as people typically don’t change support from one major party to another.

*“People might say ‘One Nation is not a centrist party, they’re off to the right’, that’s what a lot of people who follow politics think,” he said.

*“But if you actually look at what the voters think, the Australian Election Study has shown most voters view One Nation is a party between Labor and the Coalition.

Professor Jakubowicz said the issue could affect the Liberal Party in the future.

That’s a prospect NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said her party needed to be conscious of.

They cannot be dismissed. these are voters that have a view, and for whom this particular issue is of importance,” she said.

“Any local member of Parliament doing his or her job properly has to be cognoscente of issues that are of concern to constituents.”

Quite right.

The ONLY thing that mattered in the last election was the demolition of Labor in QLD. Labor holds just six of 30 seats in Queensland versus 63 seats around the rest of the country versus the Coalition’s 53.

Labor must win back QLD, which was lost to nationalist parties like One Nation and Palmer United, or it is toast. More at The Australian:

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese at the Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Sunday. Picture: AAP

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese at the Norton Street Italian Festa in Leichhardt, Sydney, on Sunday. Picture: AAP

Queensland Labor veteran Robert Schwarten has launched an ­assault on ALP election strategists and senior MPs, accusing them of losing touch with voters and leaving “working-class” candidates ­exposed in seats the party should have won.

*Mr Schwarten, a former Queensland minister and leader of the house, said the Labor election review would be another “sanitised, workshopped” document ­ignoring the realities facing ­regional communities and failed tactics that damaged “working-class ­candidates”.

The Queensland party stalwart, who represented Rockhampton for two decades and supported the ALP campaign in the key federal marginal seat of Capricornia, said he knew Labor was in trouble when lifetime supporters were asking him why they were “robbing older people and closing coalmines”.

Mr Schwarten’s intervention came after Nick Dyrenfurth, executive director of the John Curtin Research Centre, called for a working-class quota system to weed out staffers, union officials and apparatchiks from ALP parliamentary teams.

*It’s extraordinarily easy to do. Abandon negative gearing and franking credit reform and instead pledge to halve immigration to boost wages, take the pressure off house prices and decongest cities.

*Climate change can still be pursued but it must take into account the losers in QLD with extensive offsetting investment.

*Labor returns to its working class roots and wins. *

SOURCE: https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/10/class-warriors-smash-albaneses-progressive-labor/

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Boom, doom and gloom: The forces uniting Australia and the United States

SO WELL PUT TOGETHER … and says it all … almost!


IT touches on the sacred ‘I’ word, immigration but broadly avoided the so-called ‘internationalisation’ of Australia, and it’s impending ramifications including:

diminished emphasis on maintaining those government services that are in conflict with these ‘rules of trade’
. i.e. the PBS … it may be safe for now but expect other features of economic landscape to change, for the worse

a conflict also arises about the role of government in delivering services

.meaning the sale of public assets and privatisation of services are the desired outcomes; thus the NSW Government are on task in this regard

.that a market place prevails in the vast majority of circumstances and is open to foreign entrants

Welcome to a brave new world of FREE TRADEgod help us.

The question is will SCOMO and his ilk look to adhere to the mantra or implement these dictates by stealth?

ANALYSIS

Boom, doom and gloom: The forces uniting Australia and the United States

By business editor Ian Verrender

28 OCTOBER 2019

A house auction in Norwood

PHOTO: Auction clearance rates are on the rise, even as the broader economy fails to fire. (ABC News: Michael Coggan)

RELATED STORY: RBA governor says further interest rate cuts inevitable following third cut in four months

RELATED STORY: How WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann was stopped in his trillionaire tracks

RELATED STORY: Up to 10,000 low and middle income earners to get help buying first home

RELATED STORY: ‘Mind-boggling’: Adam Neumann stays on as advisor to WeWork after billion-dollar buyout

*Why the long faces, everyone?

*For years, Australian consumers have been twitchy. With good reason. A lethal combination of soaring household debt, overpriced real estate and painfully weak wages have seen households slam the brakes on spending.

Now, the pessimism is spreading to the business world and to financial markets.

A survey of corporate leaders last week — almost 1,500 company directors — found that almost 60 per cent were concerned the economy would deteriorate next year, citing a laundry list of problems that primarily focused on things outside our control. 

China, trade wars and weak global conditions.

Few, it appears, are convinced by the Reserve Bank’s recent soothing remarks that we’ve entered a gentle upswing. In fact, just 8 per cent reckon things will be better next year.

After decades of growth driven by a resources boom, a housing boom, an immigration boom and a construction boom, it would appear we are running out of options to maintain economic momentum.

US bosses get the blues

It’s not just here, either.

The mood of American business executives suddenly has turned sour. After two years of celebrating the rise of Donald Trump — whose corporate tax cuts added a burst of nitro to an already overrevved Wall Street — they too are anxious about the future.

A study late last week showed confidence among American chief executives has dropped to its lowest level in a decade. That’s despite a constant succession of Wall Street highs.

Graph showing rising corporate debt versus domestic profit in the USA.

INFOGRAPHIC: Corporate debt is on the rise in America. (Supplied)

For two years, corporate America has pumped up company valuations — and hence executive bonuses — through buying back shares, essentially showering investors in cash. It’s been financed with the tax cuts and cheap debt.

And that’s the problem. Very little of the cash was invested for the future.

The sugar hit from the tax cuts now has evaporated and with overstretched balance sheets, there’s rising apprehension about borrowing more to simply hand back to investors, even with falling interest rates.

Not surprisingly, the share buybacks suddenly have started to fall, raising concerns that one of Wall Street’s key pillars has begun to crumble.

In the second quarter, American companies spent $US166 billion ($243 billion) soaking up their own shares. That’s well below the previous quarter’s $US205 billion and the $US190 billion they spent in the same period last year. If it continues to drop, a large slab of demand for shares will be removed

.Interest rates at 1pc may be new for Australia, but not overseas
The RBA’s cut to 1 per cent is an extraordinary state of affairs here, but less so in other economies, writes Stephen Letts.

No wonder the horses are jittery.

Money markets ignore the Lowe down

Despite all the reassurances that the economy is in recovery, and RBA governor Philip Lowe’s incantations that we’re about to return to normal conditions next year, bond markets — the financial markets that really matter — simply don’t believe it.

Given his recent bullish comments to an IMF meeting in Washington, most pundits have scaled back the odds of a November rate cut. But there is a substantial bet on a pre-Christmas cut and almost certainty of one early in the New Year.

In a weird contradiction, even senior RBA officials have hinted at just how they might continue propping things up once they exhaust their options on interest rates.

If things really get desperate, with say a banking crisis, and the RBA cuts to 0.25 per cent, it seems likely the RBA’s first step will be to inject money directly into the economy through what’s known as Open Market Operations.

This would help narrow the gap between the cash rate and the rate banks charge mortgage holders.

It did this during the financial crisis in 2008 but interest rates were much higher back then. This time around, mortgage repayments could drop to around 1 per cent or even lower.

US bond markets are behaving in a similar fashion. Late last year, American bond yields were rising in anticipation of a return to more normal economic conditions.

The Trump administration’s trade war put paid to all that. While US employment is still strong — as is the case here — the ongoing trade hostilities with China are starting to exact a toll in terms of manufacturing output and earnings.

Stock floats sinking

There’s an unmistakable air of nervousness on stock markets. While the market sits just below record levels, three major local companies have been forced to back out of a stock market debut at the 11th hour in the past few weeks.

First it was Latitude Finance, the former GE Money that enlisted the services of Ahmed Fahour in a bid to convince investors to tip in their hard-earned. Then came Retail Zoo, the owner of Boost Juice. And last Thursday, Singapore based Property Guru pulled its $362 million float.

In each case investors baulked at the valuations. Latitude, which at $1 billion was to have been the richest float of the year, simply wasn’t worth the price tag. Neither were the others.

That followed a string of failures on Wall Street, the most spectacular being WeWork. From one of the most anticipated floats just a few months ago and worth a supposed $US100 billion, it now is in crisis, with founder Adam Neumann sacked and its high-profile Japanese backer SoftBank desperately attempting to keep it afloat.

Uber and Lyft are trading at huge discounts to their listing price and investors, it would appear, have had enough.

These developments have sent shockwaves through the venture capital and private equity industries and could be making some superannuation fund managers squirm.

Australia joins low rate club
With the cash rate down to a fresh low of 1 per cent, Australia has entered what’s been dubbed the “era of irrationality, impotence and inequality”.

With interest rates so low, super funds desperately have been seeking higher returns with many opting for “alternative investments”. It’s been a strategy that has delivered handsome returns. Until now.

Venture capitalists, firms that inject cash into start ups, have been hyping the value of their investments, repeatedly marking them up each time they invest more cash despite many of them still burning cash.

Private equity firms, meanwhile, have paid over the odds for old fixer-uppers, hoping a lick of paint and some new carpet may be enough to paper over the enormous debts and poor prospects when the flick them off to stock market investors.

When all else fails fire up a property boom

So, what do you do with your cash in a low-interest world if everything is overpriced?

If there’s one area where Australians are showing no signs of restraint, it is in real estate.

Graph showing clearance rates in capital cities

INFOGRAPHIC: Weekly auction clearance rates are on the rise. (Supplied)

The three rate cuts since June have done little to ignite the real economy. Instead, after almost two years of declines, property prices are bouncing back with a vengeance, at least on the east coast.

According to CoreLogic, the past weekend saw the busiest week for auctions this year, with clearance rates climbing to a national average of more than 75 per cent. This time last year, just 48 per cent of dwellings cleared at auction.

With pressure on regulators to ease the credit restrictions imposed in the wake of the banking royal commission, it would appear the Federal Government and the Reserve Bank are keen for anything to boost sentiment and lift spirits, even if it is a return to the boom that caused the household debt problem in the first place.

What could possibly go wrong?

RBA governor Philip Lowe

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-28/forces-uniting-australia-and-the-usa-are-the-market/11644400

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