ScoMo takes axe to public service

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TODAY’s move has blindsided Public Service Chiefs, who complained they had been given no warning of the Christmas purge.

IT is alleged to be in the guise of reducing ‘Red Tape’ and cost saving …

Herein outlined including the corruption of Treasury, and the consequences of dodgy …

-Budget Forecasts,

-modelling around Company Tax Cuts

-and propaganda round mass immigration

SOME COMMENTS we have read on social media include these …

-the biggest issue is that there are now 5 ministers whose departments have been abolished … still being paid as ministers … still on the ministerial gravy train … BUT WITHOUT a department.

-Morrison fiddles while Australia’s economy burns

ScoMo takes axe to public service

By Unconventional Economist in Australian budget

December 5, 2019 | 23 comments

The Morrison Government is reportedly poised to slash Australia’s public service in a bid to reduce ‘red tape’ and save on costs:

Scott Morrison is poised to put an axe through the public service today with plans to dramatically cut the number of government departments with another round of mandarins set for the chopping block.

The Australian, which flagged the changes in July, understands that several more super-departments will be created in a move to dramatically cut bureaucratic red tape.

Senior government sources said it was expected to be the biggest realignment and reform of the public service since Bob Hawke cut the number of departments from 28 to 18 in his reforms to the machinery of government in 1987…

Mr Morrison, on becoming prime minister, appointed himself as minister for the public service in a signal that he was planning sweeping changes to the “mandarin” club in Canberra…

“We don’t expect the public service to run the government. That’s what we were elected to do,” Mr Morrison said.

I’m no fan of the bloated public service, but this does have me worried.

As we know, the Coalition has already recently stacked the public service with Liberal Party “yes men”, including:

  • appointment of former chief of staff to both Treasurers Peter Costello and Scott Morrison, Philip Gaetjens, to the secretary of the Australian Treasury and then the Secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet;
  • appointment of former chief of staff to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and cabinet secretary in the Turnbull government, Simon Atkinson, to the head of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development; and
  • appointment of former Liberal Party staffer, Michael Brennan, to head of the Productivity Commission.

*Australia’s public service has already been stripped raw by decades of government outsourcing, waves of senior redundancies, as well as a preference for governments to seek advice from paid consultants, erroneously named ‘think tanks’, and political staffers.

*The end result is that the “frank and fearless advice” that the public service was once renowned for has vanished, replaced by spin and purchased analysis designed to support a pre-conceived political agenda.

*Nowhere is this propaganda more obvious than the Australian Treasury, which has become a blatant shill for the Federal Government, as evidenced by the department’s dodgy Budget forecastsdodgy modelling around company tax cuts, as well as dodgy propaganda around mass immigration.

Further examples of the corruption of the Treasury can be found here and here.

PM&C secretary Martin Parkinson. Photo: Rohan Thomson

 PM&C secretary Martin Parkinson. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour: almost certainly our highest-paid public servant. Photo: Luis Ascui

Australia Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour: almost certainly our highest-paid public servant. Photo: Luis Ascui

In short, this “reform” agenda reads like Scott Morrison is telling the public service to “do what they’re told” and to not question government decision-making.

And with it, we should expect the public service to morph entirely into government shill “yes men/women”.

*It is also unlikely to save taxpayers in the long-run with public servants’ wages replaced by expensive external consultants, as we witnessed after the Howard Government’s downsizing in the late-1990s.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

scott morrison public service

TND: Gone Renee Leon, Mike Mrdak and Kerri Hartland. Photos: AAP





The Department of Home Affairs is determining the successful bidder for a project to build and manage a new online system to process and provide visas.


‘Premium services for high-value applicants’, is that what we call bribery?

-it is called the ‘Significant Investor Visa Class’ for $5M

-cost of a Sydney mansion

-those with the black cash ushered into our formerly great Nation

-as some vegetate in front of another episode of The Block

risks Australia losing complete control of migration numbers *



‘I’m sure getting a yes-man from the Department to ‘independently’ assess the tender will absolutely result in a fair process, with no influence whatsoever from the PM and Minister at all … ‘

Conflict-of-interests mire Coalition’s visa privatisation

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

December 5, 2019 | 11 comments

The planned privatisation of Australia’s visa system has been delayed until next year after a web of conflict-of-interests were discovered across the Morrison Government:

Immigration Minister David Coleman, right, and Scott Morrison both recused themselves from expenditure review committee and cabinet discussions on the issue.

Immigration Minister David Coleman, right, and Scott Morrison both recused themselves from expenditure review committee and cabinet discussions on the issue.CREDIT:ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

*The tender bid, managed by the department, is now at arm’s length from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister David Coleman because of their long personal and professional relationships with Scott Briggs, who is leading the Australian Visa Processing consortium…

Mr Briggs, a former NSW Liberal deputy state director, was closely linked to Mr Morrison’s leadership bid against Mr Dutton in August last year and was a former colleague of Mr Coleman at Nine Entertainment Co…

Senior government sources have conceded the government will “cop some flack” should the bid led by Mr Briggs be successful, but have stressed the decision will be “truly independently made”…


Adding to the political conflicts, opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally’s husband, Ben, is employed by Boston Consulting Group, which is advising the department on process.

*Conflicts or not, privatising Australia’s visa processing is unambiguously bad policy. *

*Visa processing is an essential government service and a natural monopoly. Its sale will inevitably result in end-users being gouged by the new monopoly private owners, as well as a reduction in transparency.

The first assistant secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, Andrew Kefford, recently boasted that visa privatisation is the “most significant reform to the Australian immigration system in more than 30 years”, and claimed it would make the “visa business” profitable by including “premium services for high-value applicants”, while providing “commercial value-added services”.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Sydney. The outsourced their visa operations

In other words, the Morrison Government would effectively make Australia’s visa system ‘pay to win’ and a profit-based. This is exactly what has happened in the United Kingdom, which privatised its visa processing in 2014 with disastrous results (see here and here).

Australian travellers and expats are telling the government not to go down the same path as the UK.

Australian travellers and expats are telling the government not to go down the same path as the UK.CREDIT:HEATHROW PHOTO LIBRARY

*Adding a profit motive and turning the visa system into a quantity-based “pay to win” business will also eliminate what little integrity there is left, and risks Australia losing complete control of migration numbers.

At a minimum, visa privatisation first be submitted for independent review by the ACCC, the Australian National Audit Office, and/or the Productivity Commission before coming into force.

To do otherwise would be policy treason.

This whole plan is Game of Mates writ large. *

Conflict-of-interests mire Coalition’s visa privatisation


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Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.




Cut RED TAPE and Keep investment in The Black

THIS ARTICLE was again reprinted reissued in the Daily Telegraph earlier this week!

DID The Liargraf have this piece by Daniel Wild ‘Cut Red Tape, Get in Black’ it would seem as another justification for sweeping aside more of the ‘Rules’ aka doing the right thing … maintaining standards etc, etc

-with faulty towers cracking 85% of ‘new homes’ defective on completion …

-the importation of some 1.6 Million Visa Workers … not trained in our TAFE … working at slave rates with long hours

-their goal being to get a ‘Permanent Resident Visa’ … the consequence being high Youth Unemployment and Underemployment in Australia

ARE we being set up to get used to ‘a new norm’ where just about anything goes?

You betcha!

NOTE CAAN INSERTS FOR FACTS throughout this article!

Related Article:

Cut red tape and keep investment in the black


Scott Morrison’s vision to cut red tape will allow more Australians to reach their potential and for the Australian economy to flourish.


In an address to the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Western Australia yesterday, the Prime Minister highlighted the need to “bust regulatory congestion” to remove “obstacles to business investment”.

CAAN: DEREGULATION … Loss of Standards and protections! As with the property sector …

His announcement that Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton will lead a review of red tape is an excellent first step. This move, along with Josh Frydenberg’s commitment to driving productivity growth, is the beginning of an ambitious third-term agenda for the Coalition.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is focusing on productivity growth. Picture: AAP

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is focusing on productivity growth. Picture: AAPSource:AAP


ALBANESE will note that annual productivity growth averaged 2.2% when Tony Abbott was elected in 2013, and the rate of growth has now halved, declining over the past two quarters, and with “productivity missing in action, that old anchor chain of class and destiny threatens to make a comeback”.

It is right for the government to focus on regulatory reform and cutting red tape.

Red tape is the biggest barrier to economic opportunity and prosperity in Australia.

Research by the Institute of Public Affairs estimates red tape reduces economic output by $176 billion a year, the equivalent to 10 per cent of gross domestic product. This makes red tape Australia’s biggest industry.

The lesson from the US under President Donald Trump is that cutting red tape and lowering taxes lead to an economic boom, and not just in terms of profits to businesses.

Since Trump came to office in January 2017, the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 per cent; the lowest rate since 1967; ­unemployment for minorities reached its lowest levels ever recorded; the unemployment rate for women has fallen to 3.1 per cent, which is the lowest since 1953; 422,000 jobs have been added in the manufacturing sector; and private sector business invest­ment has increased from 17 per cent to 18.1 per cent of GDP.

This has led to the US labour market gradually tightening, which has placed upward pressure on wages and put workers in a stronger bargaining position.

The centrepiece of the reduction of red tape in the US has been a one-in-two-out approach, where two regulations are eliminated for every one introduced. Last year, 12 regulations were repealed for each new regulation introduced, resulting in a $US23bn reduction to regulatory costs.

The result is that in Trump’s first full year as president in 2017, total pages of legislation passed dropped by 36 per cent.

This is the largest reduction since records began in 1936.

In Australia, red tape affects every sector of the economy, from multi-billion-dollar projects in the resources sector to small shops on the local high street. The Roy Hill iron ore mine in the Pilbara in Western Australia, for example, required 4967 licences, permits and conditions for the pre-construction phase alone; and a contravention order was recently issued by a local council in NSW to a small food shop whose bottle of hand soap in the bathroom was less than 50 per cent full.

These examples demonstrate why business investment in Australia is just 11.8 per cent of GDP, which is lower than during the business-hostile Whitlam years. Low rates of business investment truncate the nation’s capital stock, which reduces productivity growth, and holds down real wages growth in the private sector.

CAAN: To the contrary … VIEW: ‘One Million Aussies Forgotten in Unemployment Statistics’. Therefore Unemployment is 19.7% not 5.2% in Australia!

“This says to me that one in five potential workers in Australia, or about 20 per cent, are people who want to work, want to work more, aren’t working at all, or working less than they want to,” Dr Stanford said.

As well as dragging down productivity and wages, red tape is pushing up the cost of living.

IPA research last year found that consumer prices in sectors with heavy government intervention have risen far faster than sectors with minimal intervention.

Across 20 years from 1997 to 2017, the cost of housing increased by 330 per cent, childcare by 310 per cent and electricity by 215 per cent.

CAAN: The cost of HOUSING rose through the increased competition of foreign buyers seeking ‘Permanent Residency’ and able to launder black money in our Real Estate locking out Australian First Home Buyers!

-in the late 1990s the Howard Government made changes to our Immigration Policy for the Chinese Middle Class to invest in our education and real estate to gain “flexible citizenship”

-that led the housing boom of the early 2000s and a hike in housing prices

-the 100% sell-off of ‘new homes’ to foreign buyers esp. in China (FIRB
Ruling introduced in 2009
was this at the behest of the Developer Lobby? and May 2017 Budget Reg.)

2012/13 Planning Law changes in NSW for higher density to compliment the high immigration and Visa manipulation of the Abbot Government in 2013 to date

Real Estate Gatekeepers made exempt from the Anti-Money Laundering Legislation (second tranche) in October 2018

.AML second tranche shelved for more than 12 years prior

POWER PRICES escalated with the sell-off of Our Public Assets!

At September 2018: The foreign takeover of Australian gas and electricity

There are three main electricity distributors in NSW: Essential Energy, Endeavour Energy and Ausgrid. The NSW Government wants to sell half of Ausgrid to fund infrastructure projects.

Last year, the NSW Government awarded a 99-year lease of electricity transmitter TransGrid to a consortium comprising Canadian, Middle Eastern and local investors. The deal was worth $10.258 billion.


Childcare has largely not been subsidised by government as in other countries so it is expensive for parents however Childcare Workers continue to be underpaid! Question that Childcare has increased by 310%?

But cutting red tape is not just an economic issue. It is a profound moral issue: red tape is disempowering. It prevents Australians from starting their own business, winning a pay rise and following their dreams.

CAAN: The Morrison Government currently is pushing its Union Busting Bill which will make it harder for workers to win pay rises and protect their jobs.


Every hour spent on complying with red tape is an hour less dedicated to business expansion, in the community or helping the kids with their homework.

It is inherently undignified for an entrepreneur, a farmer, a prospector or a small-business owner to seek the permission of bureaucrats to start or expand a business or take on a new project that will employ more people and create greater opportunities. The disposition of a risk-averse bureaucracy will always clash with the entrepreneurial flair of hardworking Australians who are willing to take a risk, often putting their family home on the line, for the betterment of our nation. What have ­bureaucrats and regulators ever risked for Australia?

The exciting policy agenda of the Morrison government to cut red tape, along with reforming industrial relations and cutting income taxes, will help reverse the decline of small business, boost investment and allow the Australian middle class to prosper.

Daniel Wild is director of research with the Institute of Public Affairs.

CAAN: The Middle Class in Australia is disappearing …

Tax the rich more to help the middle class, says OECD

Middle-income households have experienced dismal income growth over the past three decades, says a new OECD report


Photo: TND: Think Tanks special report: Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting is one of the donors behind the IPA.




PUBLIC ASSETS will have to be sold to fund Phase 2.0 of rebuilding Sydney … 14 November 2019

THIS piece is ramping up the rhetoric

Those that put out this stuff seem to be under the pump to get things happening for those in the corner they are supporting …

THE sell-off of OUR PUBLIC ASSETS … means we pay more … a loss of revenue for NSW …

AND with much of these assets now Chinese State-owned … we lose our security too!

NSW INC makes much of its JOBS market 110,000 a year … but where are the workers sourced from?

-Visa holders … seeking permanent residency …


Public assets will have to be sold to fund phase 2.0 of rebuilding Sydney

There’s a clever political calculation in the government’s asset recycling program, but there are also risks of lost opportunities — and attacks from Labor if things go wrong, writes Anna Caldwell.

Anna Caldwell, The Daily Telegraph

Subscriber only|November 14, 2019

DAILYTELEGRAPH.COM.AU2:08NSW govt defends claims election promises have been broken

The NSW government is defending claims election promises have been broken, arguing bus services are being franchised and not privatized.

The opposition has attacked the Premier …

When Mike Baird ­fronted the NSW ­people five years ago and told them he wanted to sell off their electricity poles and wires, cynics thought he’d never convince them.

But Baird was the master salesman.

His pitch was to hang up the For Sale sign around NSW — a plan that would eventually net the state $34 billion for the sales of electricity poles and wires and other assets.

Labor embarked on a fierce (scare) campaign about selling the electricity network to international actors, but Baird prevailed.

How is the government planning to pay for its next round of infrastructure? Picture: Terry Pontikos
How is the government planning to pay for its next round of infrastructure? Picture: Terry Pontikos

The spoils went far and wide, ­injecting NSW with enough money to ride high on economic good times as major projects like the Sydney Metro City and Southwest, Parramatta Light Rail, WestConnex and the Western Sydney Stadium were funded.

Jobs, investment and construction were plentiful.

Treasury estimates now that the current $93 billion pipeline of infrastructure projects is driving 110,000 jobs a year over the next for year.

CAAN: No proof reading! Should it be ‘four years’?

AC: But wait. What happens when the cash runs out? What happens when the music stops playing?

Because that’s exactly what we’re on the cusp of — and it’s going to happen against an already soft economy.

The fear of Sydney stalling is ­already being quietly voiced in ­engineering firms and urban planning offices.

A slew of big projects going forward remain unfunded.

The onus now is on the Berejiklian government to activate phase 2.0 of the great building Sydney dream.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is ­unequivocally committed to continuing the state’s infrastructure story.

Speaking in his Parliament House office this week, Perrottet told me the (he?) had no intention to take his foot off the pedal when it came to building ­future infrastructure projects.

“We are rebuilding Sydney. We are taking our city from good to great. We’re building not just for now but for the future generation,” he said.

He conceded there were several big unfunded projects waiting in the wings and did not shy away from finding money for them.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says Sydney’s future is bright. Picture: Richard Dobson
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says Sydney’s future is bright. Picture: Richard Dobson

It won’t be easy. The economy is lagging and when Perrottet hands down the mid-year budget update in coming weeks, it is likely there will be writedowns.

This means future projects will be funded through a combination of ­borrowing more money at low rates and selling off assets.

Many people will be questioning whether it makes sense, too, to sell off assets such as WestConnex in an ­attempt to avoid debt at a time when money can be borrowed at historically cheap interest rates.

Spoiler alert — they are likely to borrow as well.

Perrottet is relaxed about debt even as he faces a $38 billion debt bomb over the forward estimates. On the one hand, borrowing rates are almost criminally cheap, and then on top of that he has the security of his future fund which he created two years ago and will hold $29 billion by 2029.

It was Baird who embraced the term “asset recycling”a pivot away from the politically poisonous term “asset sales” which had seen ­Queensland Premier Anna Bligh come undone.

Baird’s concept was that assets are never just sold — the money is recycled into new assets, allowing the state to continue to grow in value.

In this sense, it’s running the state like a corporation that’s in the business of constructing infrastructure, selling it, and then using the proceeds to build more of the stuff.

Former premier Mike Baird embraced the term ‘asset recycling’. Picture: Britta Campion
Former premier Mike Baird embraced the term ‘asset recycling’. Picture: Britta Campion

This economically astute concept allows politicians to sell the benefit of the transaction, which is important because Labor will mount a strong ­attack should private operators be seen to be doing a worse job than ­government.

*Think the controversy over the land registry, or the threat of industrial action over privatised bus services in the Inner West.

Earlier this year, speaking of Baird’s poles and wires sale, Premier Gladys Berejiklian remarked “would you look out the window and own the electricity pole on the corner, or would you rather us build a new hospital up the road?”

Her political calculation is that the answer is simple.

The government is already doing a scoping study which paves the way for selling its forestry corporation ­assets.

You’d be wise to expect the ­remaining stake in Sydney Motorway Corporation will also go under the hammer, which requires no legislation and therefore no messy political fight.

After that, it gets harder.

The Nationals will have a brawl with the government if it tries to sell off the bush-based Essential Energy.

A further sale of Ausgrid requires legislation and the government will face a hostile upper house.

*Selling off water assets would be politically poisonous in the current climate of drought.

Perrottet and Berejiklian have their work cut out for them.

Sydney must keep moving. There is no doubt about that.

The government has built its ­legacy on driving growth and it knows full well that it can’t afford to stop now.

It’s never easy to convince voters you want to sell off their family ­heirlooms, but this government has done it before.

Doing nothing is not an option. Sydney must continue to grow and this is even more important as the economic headwinds blow.





There’s a lot of soul searching today over whether selling off Australia’s essential assets and services was a good idea …

IS it because …

The end result has been price gouging and, in some cases, greater inefficiency?

A biggie in 2017 was the privatisation of the

RECOMMEND you view the comments … as commentators say it as it is …

CAAN has selected these:

-Even thought it is a failure, the government still continues with it. NSW government to privatize the remaining Sydney bus routes.

-What do expect? They’ve got to go somewhere when they’re not re-elected.

-and the ferries –


Privatisation has failed

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

November 7, 2019 | 12 comments

There’s a lot of soul searching today over whether selling-off Australia’s essential assets and services was a good idea.

*The first salvo comes from Howard Government transport minister, John Sharp, who admits privatising the nation’s major airports was a mistake that is costing consumers dearly:

*Mr Sharp regretted his failure to impose more stringent regulation on the crucial infrastructure when they left public hands in 1996 and said the process had failed to protect travellers from greed.

“It was a mistake,” he told The Australian Financial Review. “They are blatantly profiteering.”

“The one thing we should have done is provided airports with a more significant set of rules to protect the public interest and kept them in place right through to today”

*“I should have given the ACCC responsibility for not just monitoring but administering that particular regulation.”

Handing a natural airport monopoly over to private operators was always going to lead to price gouging. It’s economics 101. The same could be said for privatising the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure via Telstra, which we are now paying dearly for in compensation for the NBN.

Former Liberal leader, John Hewson, similarly laments the privatisation of various essential services and institutions:

The aged care royal commission has exposed shameful negligence and abuse.

*…vocational training, prisons, toll roads, airports and hospital services such as parking, public/private partnerships skewed in favour of private operators, and about those who profit personally by exploiting privileged market positions and restrictive trade practices

Ironically, many of the now privately owned businesses that provide essential services resulted from past privatisation of public assets.

*While these were mostly justified and sold at the time as a mechanism to achieve market discipline, lower costs and greater efficiency, they were driven much more by political and budgetary consideration of maximising the selling price, usually ignoring the market circumstances into which they were being sold, and failing to specify the required services to be provided by the privatised entity.

Markets are only as good as the institutional and regulatory frameworks within which the market forces are to be “free” to operate. Regulatory frameworks set to achieve a maximum selling price are usually unlikely to provide an appropriate competitive structure, nor guarantee socially acceptable service outcomes, in the longer-term…

Clearly, it is time for government and society more broadly to address what has become a most unfortunate trade-off between profit and the quality and availability of essential services.

There are three general criteria for ensuring privatisation is in the public interest:

  1. it should increase competition within the relevant market, not lessen it;
  2. the upfront funds received from the asset sale should outweigh the expected net present value of future profits; and
  3. with respect to new infrastructure, the social benefits should exceed its social costs.

Unfortunately, most of Australia’s privatisations have not met these criteria, instead placing short-term financial windfalls above longer-term competitive and budgetary concerns.

The end result has been price gouging and, in some cases, greater inefficiency.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance is privatising Sydney's last remaining bus routes in state-owned hands.

Photo: SMH




TRASHED VISA SYSTEM Fuels Human Trafficking, Exploitation and Slavery

Trashed visa system fuels human trafficking, exploitation and slavery

Photo: Macro Business


-Home Affairs has confirmed almost 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by plane over the past five years

90 per cent of the individuals are not legitimate refugees

4,037 aeroplane arrivals have made a claim for protection between 1 July 2019 and 19 August 2019

Australian black economy is indeed being supported by organised crime; businesses involved are using these methods to exploit workers,

those involved are not paying taxes and are often remitting their salaries out of the country

the number of Bridging visas on issue has roughly doubled since the Coalition was elected in 2013; numbering 205,000 as at June 2019

Trashed visa system fuels human trafficking, exploitation and slavery

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

October 9, 2019 | 11 comments

Department of Home Affairs officials have confirmed that around 95,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Australia by plane over the past five years, which Labor claims is fuelling “exploitation and slavery”:

*The figures were disclosed in answers to Questions on Notice from Labor’s spokesperson for Home Affairs and Immigration Kristina Keneally.

“There’s nothing wrong with claiming asylum. It’s an important right,” Senator Keneally said.

“However, in 90 per cent of these particular cases, the individuals are not legitimate refugees and are often being trafficked to Australia for the explicit purpose of being exploited”…

Labor is warning Australia is on track to post a new annual record for asylum seeker arrivals by air.

*It said 4,037 aeroplane arrivals have made a claim for protection between 1 July 2019 and 19 August 2019

Senator Keneally has called the figures a crisis, citing concerns for those arriving by plane being exposed to “exploitation, slavery and even sexual servitude across the country”…

*“The truth is we have no idea how many aeroplane people may have been critically injured or even died … because of exploitation and slavery that is taking place under his nose”…

Its chair Liberal MP Jason Wood issued a warning over criminal syndicates exploiting vulnerable arrivals.

“Organised crime and illegitimate labour-hire companies are using this loophole to bring out illegal workers who are often vulnerable and open to exploitation,” he said.

“This enables these criminal elements to exploit foreign workers in Australia until their claims are finalised.”

John Coyne, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s head of border security, recently raised similar concerns:

Labor’s home affairs shadow minister Kristina Keneally, who is convening the immigration roundtable, says people smugglers moving their business model from boats to planes under the current visa system.

*“Organised crime are indeed facilitating unlawful migration on a fee-for-service basis, using methodologies from fake identity documents, to gaming Australia’s visa system”

“Australia’s border security arrangements are being exploited, and individuals who have not been appropriately identified are at times entering the country”.

*“The Australian black economy is indeed being supported by organised crime, who along with businesses involved, are using these methods to exploit workers, and those involved are not paying taxes and are often remitting their salaries out of the country”…

*The best graphical illustration of the rise in ‘plane people’ entering Australia is the explosion in Bridging Visas, which are typically handed to migrants awaiting decisions on permanent residency through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT):

*As shown above, the number of Bridging visas on issue has roughly doubled since the Coalition was elected in 2013, numbering 205,000 as at June 2019.

*Back in July, former High Court Justice, Ian Callinan claimed that the AAT has been inundated with spurious asylum seeker claims, fuelled in part by organised criminals:

[Ian Callinan] said “almost everyone” with migration law experience had told him there were applic­ants and representatives who “game the system, well knowing there is an automatic entitlement to a bridging visa”.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority told Mr Callinan that delays had repercussions beyond the AAT. It told him it was aware that organised crimin­als were sometimes, “perhaps even regularly”, benefiting from fake vocational training prog­rams or “ghost’’ colleges

The AAT now handles about 59,000 lodgements a year: more than half (52 per cent) are migra­tion and refugee cases

The AAT’s caseload of migra­tion and refugee matters doubled in the two years to June 30 last year

*Thus, while the Coalition pretends that it is strong on border control because it has “stopped the boats”, bogus asylum seekers are pouring into Australia via plane.

*However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that Australia’s borders have become increasingly porous, with visa scamming occurring through a variety of channels, including:

  • Migrants arriving by plane lodging bogus asylum applications;
  • International students undertaking spurious courses for working rights and subsequent permanent residency;
  • Illegal labour hire firms, people smugglers and criminal syndicates facilitating undocumented migrants to work for below market rates; and
  • Businesses using pretend ‘skills shortages’ to hire temporary migrant workers at below market rates.

The visa rorting is systemic and has permeated across the entire Australian economy.

And now we’re going to privatise it?

About 80 people a day since July have claimed asylum at Australian airports, new figures show.

Photo: Adelaide Advertiser

Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch




SMH: BRAD LEAVES HOME AT 6.30 A.M. to avoid the Crush. Is it early enough?

DESPITE unprecedented investment in recent years, the rail and roads network faces massive challenges.

Largely due to the pace of population growth piling more people into cars, trains, buses and ferries

Brad leaves home at 6.30am to avoid the crush. Is it early enough?

An extra 1.3 million people in Sydney by 2030 is an enormous load on our roads and transport system.

By Josh Dye

SEPTEMBER 16, 2019

Medical student Brad Stanton at Parramatta Station.
Medical student Brad Stanton at Parramatta Station. CREDIT:CHRISTOPHER PEARCE

Overcrowded trains and busier roads. An extra 1.3 million people in Sydney by 2030 means a longer and more uncomfortable commute, particularly for residents in the city’s fast-growing western suburbs.

Brad Stanton is a final year medical student who lives at Liverpool and commutes to Westmead Hospital by train. He leaves at 6.30am to avoid the peak-hour crush in carriages.

“If I hop on the train any later, it’s packed,” he says. “You’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder breathing other people’s air. It’s not pleasant.”

The idea of a population beyond 5.8 million in a decade leaves Stanton feeling pessimistic about the city’s future, and he’s already planning his exit.

“I appreciate the job and study opportunities I’ve had in Sydney, but it’s not somewhere I want to live long-term and raise a family,” he says.

Despite the projected growth in rail and road infrastructure, population growth raises the risk of gridlocked roads and overcrowded trains in Sydney.

And congestion is likely to extend beyond peak periods to other parts of the day.

For many people there will be no escaping the crush as Sydney’s road and rail network comes under further strain.

Or at least that’s the worst-case scenario.

Sydney: the train city

The man responsible for moving us around does not subscribe to the doomsday model. NSW Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance paints a far rosier picture in his vision for 2030.

“Sydney is going to become a train city because of metro,” he says. “We’re going to see mass transfer out of cars onto trains as we continue to develop Sydney as a global city.”

He points to the integration between the transport and planning departments as evidence the government is armed to fight the city’s growing pains and avoid the mistakes of the past.

He spruiks the concept of the “30-minute city” and claims 70 per cent of Sydneysiders will live within half an hour of work, education and recreation by 2036.

*But that dream is a long way from becoming a reality, with two major impediments being housing affordability and a lack of jobs in the west.

Sydney’s ageing transport network is a problem, too.

*Despite unprecedented investment in recent years, the rail and roads network faces massive challenges. It is partly due to a lack of investment previously, but also because the pace of population growth will keep piling more people into cars, trains, buses and ferries.

The crush: Redfern is Sydney's sixth busiest station.
The crush: Redfern is Sydney’s sixth busiest station.CREDIT:BEN RUSHTON

*Sydney’s train lines are often overcrowded during morning and evening peak, with many services failing to run on time. The opening of the new metro line under the harbour in 2024 will alleviate some congestion, but the Western line will get busier as the population booms.

*Meanwhile on the roads, major arterial routes including the M4, M5, the Harbour Tunnel and the Harbour Bridge will remain choked as traffic grinds to a standstill during peak.

Add in some rain and Sydney seems to shut down.

*While a large wave of projects is in the pipeline, University of Sydney senior lecturer in transport and logistics management Geoffrey Clifton says it will not be enough to keep pace with rising demand by 2030.

“We’re likely to see some crunch in the public transport network in the next couple of years before the next projects kick in. Until the city metro [rail line] opens, there’s going to be a bit of a capacity gap,” he says.

“In the road network, there’ll be more choke points than there are today with more people on the roads. Local bus services will slow down unless we can put priority into them.”

While confident NSW is “on the right track”, Dr Clifton says it is critical that the government maintains momentum and “gets on with the job” of building the second wave of projects.

The Transport Minister affirms his government’s commitment to building the infrastructure required for a booming population. “We will continue to build the mega projects to fix the missing links in the transport network,” Mr Constance says.

The money problem

*Yet as politicians consider how to keep the city moving as the population swells, a critical issue emerges: how to fund a long list of promised transport projects that cost into the tens of billions of dollars.

*While the sale of state electricity assets in the Coalition government’s second term resulted in a huge cash windfall, the fact remains that public transport is a loss-making service heavily subsidised by taxpayers.


Sydney Trains.

Sydney’s trains regularly fail to run on time during evening peak

“That’s a big challenge,” Dr Clifton says. “Infrastructure projects in Australia are more expensive than in other parts of the world. That’s where the user-pays model may be needed.”

An option to alleviate the burden on the roads, and funnel more people onto public transport, is to introduce a congestion tax. Road users would be charged higher rates to enter busy areas such as the central business district or drive at peak times.

*Despite having the backing of economists, planners and transport experts, Mr Constance rules out a congestion tax as being too difficult politically.

“It’s not going to happen,” he says. “You provide better public transport, you don’t need to introduce a congestion tax.”

*Instead, the Transport Minister favours “mobility as a service”, the latest buzz phrase in the industry.

*He believes in the not-too-distant future commuters will be able to pay for their transport needs across all modes via a subscription.

Sounds interesting, but how would it work?

*Dr Clifton compares the concept to private health insurance, which offers different tiers of membership and covers hospital visits plus extras like dental and physio. In the same way, commuters could purchase a package of transport services combining public transport with car sharing and bike hire, for example.

‘The status quo is not an option’

*Ultimately, the overriding question is: will crippling congestion render Sydney unliveable by 2030?

Mathew Hounsell, senior research consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at UTS, says Sydney must be fundamentally realigned to avoid the perils of crippling congestion.

“The underlying problem in Sydney is the preference for motoring. If the rail system is faster, people will switch to it,” he says.

“If you prioritise car traffic, car traffic is always terrible. If you prioritise public transport, car traffic is still terrible but more people can be moved.”

Dr Clifton warns drifting along with the status quo is not an option.

“If we go with business as usual, then it will be much more congested. A lot of Sydneysiders will feel like they’re worse off in the future than today,” he says.

“But if we build cities with jobs located near where people live, and transport that provides people with connectivity, we’ll be creating communities where people will want to live.

“It’s not like we have to choose between a big Sydney and a good Sydney. We can have both – it just takes the will and investment.”

The Sydney Morning Herald is hosting a population summit on September 23. For more details and to view the list of speakers click here.

Josh Dye

Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.




E-CONVEYANCING: Sleep-walking into a monopoly: competition fears spark home-buyer warning

‘Sleep-walking into a monopoly’: competition fears spark home-buyer warning

Josh Dye
By Josh Dye

June 30, 2019 

View all comments

The introduction of mandatory electronic conveyancing on Monday has sparked fears that a lack of competition could cost home-buyers more in the long-term.

The transfer of property ownership in Australia was traditionally conducted using paper forms, but from July 1 must be done online in NSW.

However customer Service minister Victor Dominello has warned of the “grave risk” of creating another Telstra-like behemoth, given the online property exchange network is an effective monopoly, controlled by a company called PEXA.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is leading the charge for competition in online conveyancing.
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello is leading the charge for competition in online conveyancing.CREDIT:NICK MOIR

PEXA was born in 2010 out of federal and state government desires for a national e-conveyancing platform. Until last year, it was owned by various stakeholders including state governments and the big four banks, before it was fully privatised and sold to a consortium.

While no one disputes the benefits of e-conveyancing, there are major concerns PEXA lacks an effective competitor, which Mr Dominello believes gives PEXA an unfair market advantage.

“There is a grave risk we are sleep-walking into a monopoly which would have a very bad outcome for the people of our country,” Mr Dominello told the Herald. “I just don’t think it’s healthy to have a situation where there is no choice.”

PEXA chief executive Marcus Price said his company has committed to “never increase prices beyond CPI”.

*”This is enshrined in regulation and through the contracts we have with each of our members,” Mr Price said. “Ultimately, as an industry we must advocate for a model that first and foremost serves homebuyers without introducing new cost, risk or complexity into the process.”

Late last year, there was a new entrant to the market – a company called Sympli – but major competition concerns remain.

I can’t think of any good that would come out of creating a corporate behemoth.

NSW Customer Service minister Victor Dominello

The key to improving competition appears to be interoperability. That would mean forcing PEXA’s and Sympli’s systems to integrate with each other, in the same way you can call and speak to someone who uses a different mobile phone network.

“I can’t think of any good that would come out of creating a corporate behemoth, such as [another] Telstra,” Mr Dominello said. “Ultimately it would be a perverse outcome if we have a Telstra and an Optus, but Optus [people] can only speak to Optus people and Telstra can only speak to Telstra people. We do need that interoperability and we do need competition.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has previously weighed in, urging the regulator to adopt interoperability which it described as “essential”. The competition watchdog criticised the fact that PEXA had “already commenced operations prior to regulatory measures being resolved”.


'Unauthorised': Privatised NSW land titles registry hiked fees by 1900 per cent

‘Unauthorised’: Privatised NSW land titles registry hiked fees by 1900 per cent

Without enforced interoperability, new competitors will face “significant barriers”, commissioner Cristina Cifuentes wrote.

“Even if the new [competitor] can offer a better price or a better service, the incumbent [PEXA] will already have the network advantage of a greater number of users and will be able to leverage this advantage, as each party to a transaction must use the same [network].”

As the largest state, NSW’s mandatory adoption of online conveyancing marks a critical juncture for the industry, because in the absence of a solution, PEXA gets first bite at the lucrative NSW property market.

Although NSW has taken the lead in lobbying for interoperability, there is frustration in the industry that it’s taking so long to act. The industry regulator, ARNECC, is conducting a national review, which is due to be released in coming weeks.


MasterChef finalist caught in conveyancing hacker attack

MasterChef finalist caught in conveyancing hacker attack

‘The worst-case scenario’

Paul Bollen, director of East Coast Law, a large provider of conveyancing services in NSW, online conveyancing is a positive step.

However, he is concerned PEXA’s monopoly position will come back to bite home-buyers.

“I think it could be a money pit that they could dip into and increase fees and charges, which are ultimately passed onto the client. That is the worst-case scenario,” he said.

The digital transition doesn’t come without risks, either.

Last year, PEXA suffered multiple serious security breaches when hackers broke into the online portal and stole millions of dollars.

Despite that, Mr Bollen supports the industry moving online, but he wants choice and competition.

“If we’re faced with a monopoly and PEXA is the provider, then we don’t have a choice,” he said.

*He also criticised the NSW government for mandating the system too quickly, saying it “should have been pushed back” until competition concerns were resolved.

ARNECC failed to answer a series of questions from the Herald, with a spokeswoman saying it would take four days to get a response.

Josh Dye

Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.





e-conveyancing concerns about PEXA monopoly money

Paul Bollen

SME LAW|12 JULY 2019By: Paul Bollen — 1 minute read

New South Wales has now become the third Australian state to transition to paperless property transactions, with the mandating of electronic conveyancing coming into effect on 1 July 2019, writes Paul Bollen.

However, the change makes the current monopoly market structure troubling for practitioners, financial institutions and property transactors.

The arrival of PEXA as the original provider of e-conveyancing services was heralded as a godsend to the profession wishing to see the end of cumbersome settlement procedures. PEXA was the company to deliver that solution.

Over time, and with the growth and full privatisation of PEXA, that position changed with PEXA’s intentions to expand further downstream into document supply in a bid to monopolise the market.

The concerns in the profession about PEXA’s monopoly position were justified when it became clear that PEXA was to set up conveyancing services direct to the public to wipe out competition in the profession — something the current PEXA users seem to have forgotten.

The national regulator, Australian Registrars’ National Electronic Conveyancing Council (ARNECC), and its chair, Ms Jean Villani, have made it clear that PEXA can set up a conveyancing arm, albeit under a separate entity, to compete with their very own clients whilst controlling the entire end-to-end conveyancing process.

Not only can they control this entire process, but the monopoly position of PEXA gives them no reason to innovate their platform or work on security, something practitioners were calling out for long before the original PEXA hack occurred.

With WA and Victoria preceding NSW’s move into a mandated environment with PEXA as their only e-conveyancing platform, Mr Victor Dominello, the Minister for Services in NSW, rightly determined that it was in the interests of practitioners and their clients that competition be present in this space to prevent a monopoly.

It is hardly a matter of Mr Dominello “going it alone”, but rather a frustration that Ms Villani has not addressed the rules for competition sooner. Why has the ARNECC chair deferred any investigation into competition and, more specifically, interoperability for the last year while supporting PEXA’s ability to move downstream and offer conveyancing services?

This is less about re-regulation of conveyancing by the state but providing a choice to lawyers and conveyancers as to which settlement platform they choose.

Competition is going to bring better outcomes for practitioners and their clients rather than relying on Ms Villani to attempt to regulate a very powerful monopoly in PEXA. Competition is going to drive innovation in the e-conveyancing market, drive better security and drive better prices for consumers.

I can assure you that any practitioners, be they solicitors or conveyancers, would welcome an environment where a choice is available as to which e-conveyancing platform they can use.

As a practitioner, I absolutely support Mr Dominello’s decision to bring the industry together to investigate how competition and interoperability in the e-conveyancing market will work.

Paul Bollen (pictured) is the owner of East Coast Law and East Coast Conveyancing.



Mate Versus Mate: Inside ScoMo’s billion-dollar visa privatisation

The Unconventional Economist has spelt it out for what it is … no ifs … not buts …

Recommend everyone also view the comments starting with what looks like constructive criticism here …

-Adrian has donated money to ‘the party’ … therein lies the problem.

Would our founding fathers of the Constitution been ok with pollies being beholden to a foreign power? Through donations?

‘The fake left’ refuses to get the AEC to adequately fund the political parties thus the corruption continues!

-The extreme carpetbagging, rent seeking mentality of the LNP Right will always be among us … it is the insipid and gormless left … it is only by shutting down mass immigration and restructuring an economy befitting of what the Australian People want (Shorten tried to do that!)

SURELY NOW with what has surfaced from the LNP … and the angry reaction to it … it is time the ALP took charge!!!

Coalition’s visa privatisation will torpedo Australia’s borders

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

September 13, 2019 | 24 comments

Following his stellar expose last month, investigative journalist, Michael West, has done another excellent job exposing the cabal of vested interests behind the Morrison Government’s plans to privatise Australia’s visa system:

Scomo’s mate’s mate and the billion-dollar privatisation of Australia’s visa system

Flemington market’s fruit and vegetable mogul Santo Peter Tripodina and his 38-year old son, property developer Adrian Tripodina, have emerged as mystery power-brokers behind one of the two bids for the Federal Government’s $1 billion visa privatisation.

Together with longtime Packer lieutenant Ashok Jacob’s Ellerston group of companies, the Tripodinas will be providing the financial grunt behind the Australian Visa Processing Pty Ltd consortium.

The front man for the AVP bidders is Scott Briggs, a friend and political advisor to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

An investigation by has revealed the Tripodinas are the major shareholders in Pacific Blue Capital. Scott Briggs is chief executive and Adrian Tripodina is executive director…

Final bids for the visa processing contract were submitted to the Department of Home Affairs on June 28 and the government has said it will advise on the outcome in October.

The Tripodina family has been reported as being members of the Liberal party in Scott Morrison’s electorate and Adrian has donated money to the Party in the past. It also has investment links to the ultra-wealthy Vidor family, property and hotel moguls from Sydney’s eastern suburbs…


LVO: Morrison, as well as Immigration Minister David Coleman, who previously worked with Briggs at Nine Entertainment, have recused themselves from the process due to their association with Briggs but until now the deep involvement of the Tripodinas in the tender, and their possible connection with the PM, has not been documented…

While the Government considers the rival bidders, it is interesting to note an increasing push by some parliamentarians to demand transparency from those who bid for government contracts.

The first assistant secretary of the immigration department, Andrew Kefford, recently labelled the privatisation of Australia’s visa system as the 

*“most significant reform to the Australian immigration system in more than 30 years”, and claimed that it would make the “visa business” profitable by including “premium services for high-value applicants”, different access for those able to pay more, as well as “commercial value-added services”.

However, the experience of the United Kingdom, which privatised its visa system in 2014, has been far from complimentary. There, the Dubai-based firm that won the government contract has been accused of exploitation and turning the visa system into ‘pay-to-win’, as documented last month by The Independent:

VFS, which has its headquarters in the UAE but is owned through holding companies in Jersey, the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, faces claims of “gross maladministration” and “aggressive” selling of optional services since taking the UK government contract in 2014…

People applying through VFS – the majority of whom are from lower-income countries, with a quarter from south Asia – have said they missed flights and were wrongly denied visas due to delays and administrative errors, including apparent failure to scan vital documents.

Others said they had faced a barrage of “optional” services on the VFS website, ranging from document checking for around £5, to a “super priority” visa service costing as much as £1,000, which some said failed to deliver on the fast-tracked service promised. Lawyers said these additional services could exploit vulnerable migrants who may feel pressured to spend more to secure visas.

Meanwhile, VFS has increased its average revenue per applicant by 38 per cent between 2016 and 2018 by selling more premium services, according to an analysis of group accounts filed in Luxembourg.

Prior to the contract, the majority of UK visa applicants could submit their applications in British embassies or consulates, where their documents would be processed and decisions would be made, and where there was no system of offering priority or “added value” services.

But when the service was outsourced in 2014, decision-making was concentrated in larger hubs run by VFS, which the Home Office said at the time would “improve the efficiency and consistency” of decision-making.

Fees have increased since then, with the cost of applying for a standard visit visa – the most popular type – rising by 14 per cent, from £83 in 2014 to £95 in 2019. Applications for settlement have increased from £885 to £1,523, a rise of 72 per cent…

The figures come following widespread concern over the privatisation of the Home Office’s in-country visa system, which was outsourced to French firm Sopra Steria in November and has since, according to lawyers, offered a “substandard” service for “inflated” prices.

No matter which way you cut it, it is a staggering decision to outsource Australia’s visa processing. Quite apart from the inevitable cost increases as a monopoly supplier loads up their profits, it is about sovereignty. *

Governments must provide these essential services, they must be sacrosanct and marked ‘never to be outsourced’.*

The inevitable outcome from visa privatisation will be corruption and ‘pay-to-win’, with those willing and able to pay extra fees granted priority treatment, as witnessed in the United Kingdom.*

How can the Australian Government control immigration numbers when it adds a profit motive and turns the visa system into a quantity-based business? It cannot.*

We have already seen what happens with the international student market, whereby Australia’s universities have destroyed entry and teaching standards in order to pull in as many full fee paying students as possible.

Clearly, privatising Australia’s visa system carries enormous risks. It will torpedo Australia’s borders, drive private monopoly profits, and place Australian taxpayers on the hook when the inevitable disaster that follows needs to be fixed down the road.

There is no way any independent and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis would have resolved to outsource Australia’s visa processing. It is another prime example of Australia’s ‘Game of Mates’.