The number of wealthy Chinese people has overtaken the number of rich Americans for the first time, according to a report by Credit Suisse.
The bank’s annual wealth survey found there were 100 million Chinese people among the world’s top 10% of richest people, compared with 99 million in the US.
The report says the “rapid transformation of China from an emerging nation in transition to a fully fledged market economy” helped create a record number of rich people.
“Despite the trade tension between the United States and China over the past 12 months, both countries have fared strongly in wealth creation, contributing $3.8tn and $1.9tn respectively,” said Nannette Hechler-Fayd’herbe, the global head of economics and research at the Swiss bank.
Personal savings of $109,430 (£83,630) are required to be part of the top 10% of the world’s richest people. While China has overtaken America at this level, the US is still ahead when it comes to the super-rich, accounting for 40% of the world’s millionaires.
The number of dollar millionaires in the US increased by 675,000 last year to 18.6 million. This means about one in 14 adults in America is a millionaire.
In China, there are 4.4 million millionaires, an increase of 158,000 on 2018, according to the report, and 10% of the global total. There are an estimated 1.1 billion adults in China.
The Brexit-led decline in the value of the pound caused the number of UK millionaires to drop by 27,000 to 2.46 million. The UK held on to fourth place in the global league table behind the US, China and Japan with 3 million millionaires – 5% of the global total.
Commenting on the UK, the authors of the report said: “The outlook is now uncertain, with future prospects depending very much on what happens in terms of Brexit.
“Our estimates indicate a rise of 2.2% in wealth per adult from the end of 2018 to mid-2019. However, both the stock market and exchange rate showed increased volatility over the summer, reflecting the heightening of Brexit worries.”
Across the world, a further 1.1 million people joined the millionaire club taking the total to 46.8 million. Collectively, they own $158.3tn in net assets, 44% of the global total.
The report estimates 55,920 adults are worth at least $100m and 4,830 have net assets above $500m. Net assets are defined as realisable savings minus debts and does not include the value of property.
Credit Suisse forecast global wealth – which increased by 2.6% over the past year – would rise by 27% over the next five years to $459tn by 2024. The number of millionaires is expected to grow over this period to almost 63 million.
Anthony Shorrocks, an economist and author of the report, said: “With almost two decades of data at our disposal, we can see two distinct phases of wealth growth. The century began with a ‘golden age’ of robust and inclusive wealth creation. But wealth growth collapsed during the financial crisis and growth never recovered to the level experienced earlier.Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk
“There was a seismic change at the time of the financial crisis, when China and other emerging market economies took over as the engine of wealth creation. Meanwhile, the United States has maintained an astonishing 11-year spell of increasing wealth per adult.”
The report says millennials – those born between the early 1980s and the late 90s – are the least well-off age group.
The report says: “Not only were they hit at a vulnerable age by the global financial crisis, its associated recession and the poor job prospects that followed, but they have also been disadvantaged in many countries by high house prices, low interest rates and low incomes, making it difficult for them to buy property or accumulate wealth.
“Studies in several countries have indicated that the millennials can expect to be worse off than their parents.”
An analysis of The List – Australia’s Richest 250, published by The Australian, reveals 23 members of the country’s richest people live in Toorak. It is more that any other individual suburb, including the likes of Point Piper and Vaucluse in Sydney or Mosman Park in Perth.
What Toorak lacks in flash and pizzazz, it makes up for with high property prices, large grounds for mansion owners with room for swimming pools, tennis courts and immaculate gardens.
It may not have a natural geographic advantage, but Toorak is seen as the place to live when one has truly “made it” in Melbourne.
“There’s only one Tookak,” says Sarah Case, a real estate agent for RT Edgar who specialises selling mansions to and for the uber wealthy in Melbourne.
“There’s usually not a lot of stock on the market, and once you move there you tend to stay there. It is different in Sydney, where you’ll have quite a few suburbs that would be the equivalent of a Toorak.”
The revelations of Toorak’s esteemed position for Australia’s moneyed class is contained in The Weekend Australian’s The List — Best Mansions magazine, out on Saturday, which explores the suburbs where the rich live, assesses the top real estate agents of 2019 and takes a look inside four spectacular mansions from the coast to the country.
Toorak boasts residents including billionaire Lindsay Fox, who moved to Toorak in the late 1970s and has owned a mansion on one of the best streets in the suburb, Irving Road, ever since. Other big names include retail magnate John Gandel, young property developer Tim Gurner and Jayco caravans owner Gerry Ryan.
The List’s Top 50 Mansions includes several big Toorak sales in recent years, such as the $38.8 million purchase of a Chastleton Ave mansion by Ruslan Kogan, the founder of online retail business Kogan.com, last year.
That price set a record with Kogan taking ownership of a mansion spanning 2600sq m on three blocks.
The 50 most expensive mansions in Australia are priced over $26 million, and a property which Ms Case is selling in Toorak could soon join those ranks.
A mega mansion at 2-3 Myvore Court is on the market with an indicative selling price of $27 million to $29 million and is set on 2138 sqm of land in an exclusive cul-de-sac.
The house has a lift servicing four levels and garaging for six cars, Jack Merlo-designed landscape gardens and a tranquil infinity pool with water wall courtyard.
Ms Case says Toorak buyers like prestigious addresses in St Georges Road, Lansell Road, Albany Road and Irving, though big properties can be hard to find.
An analysis of the Richest 250 members in Toorak show that the average estimated value of the 23 residents’ houses is $23 million, but they have been owned on average for at least 15 years.
Don’t miss The List — Best Mansions. Where the rich live, the dream houses that never come up for sale, the real estate agent A-league. Out Saturday in The Weekend Australian.
EDITOR, THE LISTJohn Stensholt joined The Australian in July 2018. He writes about Australia’s most successful and wealthy entrepreneurs, and the business of sport. Previously he worked at The Australian Financial Review and … Read more
While NSW’s politicians continue to fight a phoney war over Sydney’s ‘overdevelopment’, while ignoring entirely the mass immigration causing the said development, NSW voters have delivered another damning indictment.
Yesterday, a Newspoll survey revealed that 80% of voters in NSW do not want the state’s population to increase, with majority support across all three major political parties:
Of course, you can add this result to the conga-line of recent opinion polls calling for lower immigration, including:
Successive governments have maintained high levels of immigration to stoke the economy. The argument against this is growing, bringing together odd bedfellows. By Mike Seccombe.
Inside the ‘just add people’ dogma
It was the experience of working in Japan that caused the scales to fall from David Pilling’s eyes.
Over 20 previous years as a reporter in various parts of the world, Pilling did the orthodox thing for a Financial Times journalist and viewed “everything through the prism of economic growth”.
Writing in his new book, The Growth Delusion, he says: “I taught myself how to compare every number to GDP and to mention it in almost every article …”
Then in the mid 2000s he was posted to Japan, a country he considered to be a “basket case”. That all-important measure – gross domestic product – had been stagnant for two decades. So had the country’s population. And the conventional economic wisdom to which Pilling then subscribed “could not imagine how a country can possibly progress if it is not forever adding people to its workforce”.
This, of course, is the same conventional wisdom that informs Australia’s immigration policy. Indeed, no other country is so dedicated to a simple formula for jobs and growth: just add people.“ONLY IN ECONOMICS IS ENDLESS EXPANSION SEEN AS A VIRTUE. IN BIOLOGY IT IS CALLED CANCER.”
So what Pilling has to say is instructive at this time of renewed debate about immigration.
The country of his posting was regularly reported as being “stuck in perpetual stagnation and without the wits to haul itself out of misery”.
But Japan’s supposed misery, as measured by nominal GDP, really wasn’t miserable at all, he found. Unemployment was extremely low, prices were stable or falling, the standard of living was rising, communities were intact “certainly in comparison with America, Britain and France”. Crime was low, drug abuse almost non-existent, and life expectancy about the highest in the world. The food was excellent and consumer goods and services were world class.
That’s not to say he didn’t recognise Japan’s problems, only that his Japanese experience drove home to Pilling the folly of equating economic growth – as currently measured – with progress.
Japan made him realise the fundamental problem with GDP as an indicator of how a society is doing: it is a measure of quantity, not quality. It tots up the negative along with the positive, measuring activities where money changes hands, be they worthwhile or not. If crime goes up and more has to be spent on locks, jails and police, GDP goes up; if cars burn more fuel because they are stuck in traffic, GDP goes up.
A few years ago, the British statistics office decided to estimate the “value” of activities they had previously not included in their accounts, including sex work and the illicit drug trade. Hey, presto: Britain’s economy instantly appeared bigger by about 5 per cent, or £65 billion, although no one was actually any richer as a result and the problems of drug trafficking, for example, were no less pressing.
As Pilling says, there is something wrong with a system in which unpaid activity is uncounted, where if someone steals your car and sells it, that counts toward growth, but if you look after an aged relative or bring up three well-adjusted children, that does not.
Yet GDP, he writes, is presented to us as a moral measure and a “proxy for wellbeing”. And in pursuit of endless growth “we are told we may have to work longer hours, slash public services, accept greater inequality, give up our privacy and let ‘wealth-creating’ bankers have free rein”.
“Only in economics is endless expansion seen as a virtue,” Pilling writes. “In biology it is called cancer.”
As for why Japan, among all the countries across five continents in which Pilling worked, should have inspired an epiphany and a book? Well, Japan is unique.
For about 40 years, the Japanese have been having fewer babies than is necessary to maintain the population, but that is not the unique bit. More than half the people of the world now live in countries where the fertility rate has fallen below the replacement level.
What makes Japan different is that it has not sought to cover the shortfall through immigration. There’s no denying the reason: Japan is xenophobic. It is not welcoming to foreigners, no matter their circumstances.
In 2016, for example, it accepted just 28 refugees, and another 97 people for unspecified “humanitarian reasons”. It does give very generously to the UNHCR – almost $US165 million that year – but only so refugees can be cared for somewhere else.
As a result Japan’s population has begun to fall. From a peak of just over 128 million in 2010, it is already down by about 1.5 million.
It is feasible for countries to manage population decline so long as their birthrate is just a little below the replacement rate of about 2.1 children per woman, on average, says Peter McDonald, professor of demography at the University of Melbourne.
Once you drop below the 2 to 1.7 range, though, “you cause too much damage to your age structure”.
Japan’s reproduction rate is less than 1.5. In the longer term, if the country maintains its demographic trajectory, it is likely to be in trouble. We can’t be sure, of course, because it has never happened before.
For now, Japan defies economists’ talk of a demographic death spiral. Over the past decade, its GDP has grown by an average of about 0.5 per cent. In 2017, it grew by about 1.6 per cent.BY TACIT AGREEMENT, BOTH MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES PERSIST WITH THE “JUST ADD PEOPLE” STRATEGY.
That looks poor, compared with Australia’s long-term average of more than 3 per cent economic growth, and even against last year’s 2.4. But things look very different when you examine how that growth is shared.
Australia’s per capita growth last year was just 0.8 per cent, by the recent calculation of business journalist Alan Kohler.
“That is, two thirds of last year’s economic growth came from population and most of that from immigration,” he wrote.
“So Australia’s actual national economic strategy, as opposed to the pretend one, is to simply add numbers – not to encourage jobs and growth through tax cuts – and it has been since 2005, when John Howard doubled average immigration from 100,000 per year to 200,000.”
In conjunction with the natural increase in the population, immigration now adds about a million more people to Australia every three years.
By tacit agreement, both major political parties, as well as the econocrats who advise them, persist with the “just add people” strategy. It’s convenient because it allows them to maintain the fiction that Australia is some kind of miracle economy that due to their superior economic management hasn’t had a recession for more than a quarter of a century.
It’s convenient, too, for Australia’s corporate sector, because it’s a lazy way to make money. Indeed, the Business Council of Australia would like to import even more people each year.
“The BCA/boardroom orthodoxy simply says ‘the more the merrier’,” says former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, a long-time sceptic about the benefits of high immigration.
“Australian growth is dependent on the highest rate of immigration, proportionately, of any developed country. It is excessively dependent on … building apartments and struggling to build infrastructure,” he says.
“That’s not a smart society. That’s not innovation. Maybe it’s time to shift the debate to the appropriateness of this economic model. I pose the question: would it be such a tragedy if we took about six years before we added another million to our population, instead of three, as we do now?
“It might free up capital to invest in other areas, like innovation.”
Carr has been expressing his concerns about the environmental and development consequences of “untrammelled” population growth for years, but lately he’s been pleasantly surprised at the odd coalition of people who’ve joined him.
Still, he can’t help question the motivations of some of those now calling for a rethink of immigration, such as John Howard and Tony Abbott.
“Howard and Abbott were part of an orthodoxy that drove immigration to higher levels,” he says.
And that’s absolutely true. During the term of the Howard government, the migrant intake doubled. And the permanent migration program, which Abbott now wants reduced to 110,000 a year, has been set at 190,000 migrants a year for the past six years. Abbott was prime minister for two of those years.
Carr suspects mischief, but whatever Abbott’s motivation, he’s boots and all with the immigration critics now.
Back in February, in an address to the Sydney Institute, Abbott advanced several arguments for cutting the intake: that too-high immigration depressed wages and increased the demand for housing, inflating prices. The rate of population growth, he said, was so high that the infrastructure of Australia’s major cities was “clogged”.
Where, he wanted to know, was the planning? Why was it that “no one on the front bench of government or opposition had been prepared to raise the one big contributing factor that is wholly and solely within the federal government’s control – until Peter Dutton finally said last week that immigration could be cut ‘if it’s in our national interest’ ”?
“Just 16 years ago,” Abbott said, “in the first Intergenerational Report, it was expected that our population would not reach 25.3 million till 2042. But due to current immigration levels, we’re going to achieve that figure next year – or 23 years early.”
Abbott could not resist bringing issues of race into it, blaming the immigration rate for “ethnic gangs that are testing the resolve of police”. This is where the arguments fester: there is an economic rationale here, powerful on the numbers, but it is undone by ugly appeals to racism and xenophobia.
Treasurer Scott Morrison promptly slapped Abbott down, saying the proposed cut would cost the budget $4 billion to $5 billion over four years and deprive the country of necessary skilled migrants. Morrison’s claims were in turn systematically taken apart in The Australian, of all places, by economics writer Judith Sloan, who alleged “an immigration conspiracy going on involving Canberra bureaucrats and politicians, among others, who are only too happy to overstate the benefits of immigration while downplaying the costs”.
Sloan’s evidence-based debunking was quite compelling, and also rude and patronising. She took Morrison’s argument as proof that “he doesn’t know the first thing about economics”. That is perhaps the more interesting aspect of the debate: the way it has cut across normal ideological boundaries.
Ian Lowe, emeritus professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University, and a former head of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is not one you would usually hear singing from the same song sheet as Abbott, but he is in wholehearted agreement on the need to work towards a long-term population goal, rather than a short-term immigration target.
“We should have a policy of stabilising our population at a level that can be sustainably supported,” he says.SOME EVIDENCE SUGGESTS PERMANENT MIGRANTS RAISE WAGES, WHILE TEMPORARY ONES LOWER THEM.
“You can debate the level, because [sustainability] depends on things like levels of consumption – whether we continue to have the largest houses in the world, whether we continue to drive large, inefficient cars.
“But it is self-evident that population cannot expand forever. We need a long-term goal because of the inertia of growth. If we had zero net migration today … the population would take about 20 years to stabilise.
“The ABS has done three projections of future population based on different assumptions about birthrate and migration rate. The ‘A’ projection has us at 60 million at the end of the century, but we are currently tracking above the A projection.”
Australia is the driest continent, with a very limited carrying capacity, Lowe says. “At 60 million people, we could not even feed ourselves.”
The more immediate problem, though, is that Australia’s infrastructure just can’t keep up, and will fall further behind over time, Lowe says.
And the government’s own bureaucrats – at least the ones not party to Sloan’s alleged conspiracy – lend strength to the argument.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates the “avoidable” social costs of traffic congestion in the eight Australian capitals cities. They reckoned it to total $16.5 billion in the 2015 financial year, up from $12.8 billion in the 2010 financial year. By 2030, they forecast, the cost of congestion would rise to between $27.7 billion and $37.3 billion. That is roughly the cost of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, fully implemented.
In Japan, bullet trains arrive on schedule measured to the fraction of a second; here we can’t get a light rail system built on time.
As with transport, so with housing. A report last month from centrist think tank the Grattan Institute warned that Australia’s major cities were struggling to keep up with demand.
And no wonder, really. In addition to the 190,000 permanent migrants brought into the country each year, there are, according to Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs, nearly 1.6 million temporary migrants in Australia: students, working holidaymakers, temporary skilled migrants, and New Zealanders living in Australia.
Unlike the permanent migrant program, the temporary stream is largely uncapped, and has grown like Topsy over recent years.
The Grattan report scrupulously avoided nominating the “right” number of migrants, but it cautioned that unless the states could provide housing for them all, it would be necessary to cut the intake.
A big part of the immigration dilemma is that it is the feds who decide numbers, and reap the tax dividends, while states mostly have to provide the necessary infrastructure and local governments are responsible for much of the urban planning.
Nearly 90 per cent of those temporary visa holders also have work rights. The government insists this enormous influx of labour does not drive down wages. Tony Abbott and ACTU secretary Sally McManus – another extraordinary alliance – insist they do.
There is a growing body of academic research that suggests Abbott and McManus are right. But like almost every aspect of immigration, it’s complex and contentious.
Some evidence suggests permanent migrants raise wages, while temporary ones lower them. As the department tells us, “almost half of the individuals granted permanent residency are already in Australia on a temporary visa”.
There are, according to the department, more than 5500 possible pathways through which temporary visa categories can convert to permanent residence. So working out whether migration is a net benefit or cost is exceedingly difficult.
There is one argument advanced by the high-immigration lobby, however, which can confidently be dismissed as rubbish. That is the claim that immigration protects us against the ageing of the population.
Treasury and Home Affairs made the argument again in their most recent report, “Shaping a nation: Population growth and immigration over time”. That is that high immigration serves as a way of “ameliorating the ageing of Australia’s population”.
It doesn’t. At best is defers it, and the reason is obvious: migrants also age. Therefore, the quest for eternal national youth means bringing in ever more young migrants to augment the ranks of those who have got old. It is the very definition of a Ponzi scheme.
A few other things are clear, because they can be precisely measured.
From 1996 to 2016, migrants accounted for 63 per cent of all population growth in Sydney, and 50 per cent in Melbourne and Perth, the latter due to the mining boom. Migrants were responsible for more than 40 per cent of the growth in every other capital, save Hobart, were they caused one third of it. In some suburbs, where migrants cluster, they accounted for 100 per cent of growth.
According to the 2016 census, for the first time in Australia’s history, a greater proportion here of people born overseas are now from Asia rather than Europe.
That proportion will likely continue to grow, if for no other reason than that all of Europe now has fertility rates below replacement level – some even lower than Japan. As they shrink into the future they will have fewer people to send. The countries that still have high birthrates are almost all in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
But pursuing endless GDP growth through endless population growth is not a viable option. Very soon, we will have to set a limit on growth.
And in doing it, as David Pilling concludes at the end of his book, we will have to consider other measures of progress. “Some things – safe streets, good jobs, open spaces, a sense of security and well-being – are a good in themselves,” he says.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 5, 2018 as “Inside the ‘just add people’ dogma”. Subscribe here.
Almost all of these age pensioners will have lived in their homes for many years, being unwitting beneficiaries of house price appreciation. Mind you, they are beneficiaries on paper only; you can’t pay the bills just because your house is worth a whole lot more than when you bought it.
You also have to live somewhere. So short of moving a long way from the neighbourhood where you have friends and possibly family and where you have the services you need, the alternative is to downsize with all the attendant costs (house repairs, real estate agents, conveyancing, stamp duty, etc.) to move somewhere else close by.
Is it any wonder that many elderly citizens decide to stay put, not least because all the fuss and bother wouldn’t release much capital?
The argument is often put that the family home is the best form of tax/welfare protection available. But this overlooks the fact that the family home is purchased using after-tax income — the deposit must be saved after tax is paid and mortgage repayments are made using after-tax income.
So what about the idea of the value of the family home above a certain figure — shall we call it $1.5 million — being counted as part of the asset test for the Age Pension?
Let’s face it, the politics of the suggestion are absolutely appalling, but let’s keep going for the sake of argument.
One of the most immediate problems is the fact that such a move would involve treating older citizens around the country differently. A home in Sydney of a given value is not the same as a home in Adelaide or in Bendigo. In effect, there would be a penalty for people living in Sydney or Melbourne.
There is also the issue of the rules which people have followed to plan for their life in retirement. Given that the exemption of the family home has been part of the rules for a very long time, it would only be fair to phase in any change over a long time frame, say 20 years.
But given that bipartisan support for such a change is highly unlikely — there would always be political gain from ruling out the change — the net impact would simply be to make people’s planning for retirement even more uncertain.
And let’s not forget that the family home does figure in a number of welfare assessments that are made. There is an asset test within the Age Pension for homeowners and a higher figure for renters. And the degree of age care residential assistance also takes into account the value of the family home.
In fact, there is an argument for making the age pension universal — this happens in New Zealand, for instance — in which case the high cost of determining eligibility is removed but people can save for higher incomes which are taxed at full marginal rates. That could be a debate worth having here.
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.
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.
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
Bank officer, ministerial adviser, party official, senior policy adviser.
Solicitor, union legal officer, federal assistant secretary TWU, assistant secretary ACTU.
Union representative, psychologist, occupational health and safety trainer.
Communications officer, articled clerk, lawyer.
Adviser, 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”.
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.’’
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.”
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.
A week prior to the Federal Election, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a surprise First Home Buyer (FHB) deposit subsidy scheme, which would enable eligible FHBs to purchase a home with only a 5% deposit, for the express purpose of lifting house prices:
“We want to see more first-home buyers in the market, absolutely, and we don’t want to see people’s house prices go down” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 13 May 2019.
Yesterday, the Government unveiled the finer details of the scheme, which is to be limited to 10,000 FHBs annually on a first come, first served, basis:
The Federal Government will offer loan guarantees for eligible buyers on low and middle incomes.
The scheme is aimed at helping up to 10,000 first home buyers enter the market each year…
Speaking on Sky News, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said price caps for eligible properties will take into account the median house price in capital cities and regional centres.
“The price caps are calibrated to take into account median house prices and conditions in respective markets and indeed they are set with reference to the threshold for concessional arrangements for stamp duty in various states,” Senator Cormann said.
“There is no specific number of guarantees per jurisdiction it will be on a … first-in, best-dressed basis.
“Ultimately the scheme will be driven by demand, up to 10,000 guarantees a year.”
The program will be open to singles with a taxable income up to $125,000 per year and couples earning less than $200,000 per year, and will apply to owner-occupied loans on a principal and interest basis.
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said only two of the big four banks will be chosen to take part in the scheme, with 50 per cent of all guarantees set aside for smaller lenders.
*It’s interesting to note that the price caps pertaining to each capital city is below the current median dwelling value:
Thus, the Coalition’s FHB subsidy is being targeted to lower value properties.
That said, the income caps ($125,000 for a single, $200,000 for a couple) are well above the median Australian household income, which was $88,452 (gross) in 2017-18, according to the ABS:
Given almost any FHB will qualify for the subsidy, and there are only 10,000 places available, this should ensure that the scheme is way over-subscribed.
Therefore, expect the Morrison Government to significantly expand the number of places in the scheme to placate FHBs and prop-up the property market. *
IS PROPERTY OVERDEVELOPMENT AT THE CORE OF THIS DISRUPTION?
IN 2017 this EXTRACT was reported in The Australian:
‘Four candidates in NSW local government elections this month
have strong links to a Chinese Communist Party-backed lobby group and the
wealthy businessman behind its operations, fuelling concerns about external
influence in Australia’s political process. (Huang Xiangmo)
The four candidates
— SIMON ZHOU, Paul Han, Jeanette Wang and Nancy Liu — are all close to Chinese
national and property developer Huang Xiangmo, and have belonged to one of
three lobby groups he runs in Sydney to advance Beijing’s interests.
Three of the
candidates have won places on Sydney councils, and another who served
previously was defeated.
Two of the
candidates who won council positions this month, Mr Zhou and Mr Han, were NSW
Labor Senate candidates in last year’s federal election. … They have now
shifted attention to local government, with Mr Han winning a place on
Parramatta Council in Sydney’s west for Labor, and Mr ZHOU winning a place on
Ryde Council as an ‘INDEPENDENT’. … ????
The Australian: Four Council Candidates linked to China Communist Party Lobby https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/nation/four-council-candidates-linked-to-china-communist-party-lobby/news-story/30b8c115f8c873accbd8d979a3adecf2
Clr Shuo (Simon)
ZHOU is now the ‘Independent’ Deputy Mayor of the City of Ryde …
Is it Zhou’s role
as Independent Deputy Mayor formerly a Labor Party Candidate
Source: The Australian: Four Council
Candidates linked to China Communist Party Lobby
Clr Shuo (Simon) ZHOU is now the
‘Independent’ Deputy Mayor of the City of Ryde …
Is it Zhou’s role as Independent
Deputy Mayor formerly a Labor Party Candidate … that has brought about this
Seminar specifically for Chinese children to transition to school … over and
above Australian Children?
FYI: On Tuesday night, 22 OCTOBER
‘Police called to council meeting for
second month running’
Four councillors – Labor’s Peter Kim,
independent deputy mayor Shuo (Simon) ZHOU, and Liberals Trenton Brown and
Jordan Lane – initially left the meeting on Tuesday night.
“It was a deliberate action of
disorder from them to leave … and make it inquorate,” Labor mayor Jerome
Laxale said. Cr Brown disagreed, saying he had stepped out to talk to
Cr Kim said he had walked out because
the chair rejected his motion to amend the council’s heritage plans without
providing a good reason. …
The heritage issue has pitted
residents who say the listings have crippled their finances and property values
against others who are concerned about over-development.
Crs Kim and Zhou did not respond to
requests for comment.’
Recall last year a couple from China
had purchased a Heritage Home with a view to demolish it for increased
With so much lost to overdevelopment
in the Ryde LGA A 2019 HERITAGE REVIEW is underway for the community to have
their say …
Police have been called to a fiery council meeting in Sydney’s northern suburbs for the second time in two months, after several councillors walked out and a female councillor was allegedly grabbed by a member of the public.
The City of Ryde council has been divided over concerns heritage orders are being used to slow development in established suburbs and over plans to build a new section of boardwalk on the Parramatta River.
The proposed boardwalk was being debated shortly before four councillors exited the meeting, leaving it without a quorum on Tuesday night.
Labor councillor Edwina Clifton – who was allegedly “grabbed” outside the meeting – said a small number of residents were too aggressive about the heritage issues. She called on councillors to be more respectful to avoid aggravating the crowd.Advertisement
“I think the level of aggression that people are showing about heritage is too much,” she said.
“Verbal attacks can become physical attacks, quite frankly. It’s not good.”
Four councillors – Labor’s Peter Kim, independent deputy mayor Shuo (Simon) Zhou, and Liberals Trenton Brown and Jordan Lane – initially left the meeting on Tuesday night.
“It was a deliberate action of disorder from them to leave … and make it inquorate,” Labor mayor Jerome Laxale said. Cr Brown disagreed, saying he had stepped out to talk to residents.
Cr Kim said he had walked out because the chair rejected his motion to amend the council’s heritage plans without providing a good reason.
The departures rendered the meeting inquorate, prompting Cr Clifton to go outside and try to convince Cr Lane, who was the last to leave, to come back and to document his exit.
“I said, ‘Well there’s going to be an investigation into this and I’m going to take your photo if you don’t come back in,’ ” Cr Clifton, a family law barrister, said.
Shortly after Cr Clifton took the photos of Cr Lane and Cr Brown a member of the public allegedly grabbed her. “I can’t say too much about what happened to me, other than that I was physically assaulted,” Cr Clifton said.
A police spokeswoman confirmed officers attended the meeting and are investigating the alleged incident.
“Obviously if that occurred it is unacceptable on any measure,” Cr Lane, who did not witness the incident, said.
Other locals who were present said the incident was very quick and they did not see anyone intentionally touch Cr Clifton.
Cr Laxale said Cr Clifton had been “grabbed”, describing such treatment as deplorable. He also criticised the four councillors’ decision to depart.
“They were deliberately denying staff requests to come back in, other councillors’ requests to come back in and to do the job that they’re paid for, and that is to turn up to meetings and vote on important issues,” Cr Laxale said.
Cr Lane said some councillors’ decision to leave was “an act of civil disobedience” to protest “censorship” because the council had moved to have a confidential discussion on the boardwalk at the end of the meeting, while Cr Brown said the council had a “toxic culture” under Cr Laxale.
Cr Laxale said it was standard practice for councils to discuss legally sensitive matters such as the boardwalk confidentially.
Police were called after threats were allegedly heard in the public gallery during a council meeting in September, when tensions about heritage matters were also running high.
The Glades Bay boardwalk under debate is the final piece of a riverfront walk on the Parramatta River. A small number of residents say their properties and privacy would be affected, while Cr Laxale says it is critical to open the river to the public.
All of Australia’s major media organisations have joined forces to call for reforms to protect public interest journalism in Australia. Australia’s Right to Know coalition includes Nine, News Corp, the ABC, SBS, The Guardian, and journalists’ union the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
The campaign, an unprecedented show of unity between competitors, is pushing for stronger protections for media freedom after years of perceived deterioration.
The outlets are seeking to combat a growing culture of secrecy that restricts journalists’ ability to hold the powerful to account.
Did anything, in particular, spark this?
Media organisations in Australia have long been concerned about threats to journalism, but the issue exploded into the public consciousness following two consecutive police raids earlier this year.
On June 4, police conducted a six-hour raid on the home of News Corp political journalist Annika Smethurst over an April 2018 story. The story had revealed a proposal for electronic intelligence agency the Australian Signals Directorate to take on an expanded domestic role and that figures inside government were concerned about the idea.
On June 5, as part of a separate leak investigation, police raided the Sydneyheadquarters of the ABC over a 2017 series on accusations of war crimes committed by Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan.
The warrant named multiple ABC journalists responsible for the reporting. A week earlier, a former military lawyer was committed to stand trial over the leak of documents to the ABC.
A further raid on News Corp was planned for June 6 but did not go ahead. The back-to-back operations, taking place long after the publication of the stories, triggered concerns that police were seeking to intimidate whistleblowers and journalists. The police actions highlighted a perceived rise of cultural secrecy and legal restrictions that impinge on media freedom in Australia.
What was the government’s response?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and senior colleagues defended the police raids as the independent actions of an agency doing its job to protect national security. They have responded to the broader furore over press freedom by calling a parliamentary inquiry and issuing directives to agencies emphasising the importance of a free press.
The inquiry, conducted by the intelligence and security committee, is examining the impact of national security laws on press freedom.
This inquiry has heard from media outlets, government officials and independent experts. It is being conducted alongside a more wide-ranging press freedom inquiry by a Senate committee.
Officials, including senior figures at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Department of Home Affairs, have defended the need for a high level of secrecy, criticised media coverage and argued that some of the recommendations put forward by media organisations would threaten national security. Ministers and officials have declined to rule out pursuing charges against the News Corp and ABC journalists targeted in the raids.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has issued a directive to the federal police stating they should consider the “importance of a free and open press” and broader public-interest implications before involving media outlets in investigations.
Attorney-General Christian Porter also instructed Commonwealth prosecutors not to charge journalists under certain secrecy laws without his approval. Porter has said he would be “seriously disinclined” to authorise the prosecutions.
Privately, the Morrison government has indicated a scepticism that media freedom is something that grabs the public’s attention. There is also hostility within the Coalition towards any changes seen as weakening national security. With these political and policy factors in mind, the government does not yet seem convinced of the need for sweeping law reform.
Australia’s Right to Know coalition has six key proposals for “necessary and urgent” reform. The changes would strengthen rights and protections for public-interest journalism.
The right to contest search warrants: Applications for search warrants to be made to a high-level judge, with the relevant media outlet to be notified and given the opportunity to challenge the warrant.
Protections for whistleblowers: Expanded safeguards for government whistleblowing, including an expanded public interest test. The outlets want to see a culture of secrecy replaced with a culture of disclosure.
Restrictions on secrecy:New rules governing what information governments can deem secret, with obligations to regularly audit the material being kept from the public.
Freedom of information reform:A suite of changes to FOI law to reduce and restrict the significant delays, obstacles, cost and exemptions that allow government agencies to prevent disclosure.
Journalist exemptions:Exemptions to protect journalists from prosecution under a number of national security laws.
Media outlets can currently mount legal defences against charges under these laws but want this strengthened to exemptions for public-interest journalism.
Defamation law reform: Overhaul of defamation law to adapt to the digital era, address inconsistency across states territories, and ensure it is operating as intended.
What’s the experience of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age?
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, formerly owned by Fairfax Media and now Nine, have a long history of significant investigative journalism. This work has regularly come into conflict with the authorities, and journalists have faced police raids, punishment of whistleblowers and restrictive FOI processes.
In 2010, The Age revealed that the Victorian Labor Party held sensitive personal information about voters without their knowledge. This reporting was based on information from the party’s database, which the reporters had accessed. Victorian police later obtained warrants to search the journalists’ digital and hard copy files. If The Age had the ability to challenge the warrants, the lawyers may have been able to restrict police access to the reporters’ computers.
In April 2012, investigative journalist Chris Vedelago submitted a FOI request to the Foreign Investment Review Board for documents relating to the approval of the sale of a vast tract of agricultural land to a Canadian company. The board rejected the request as not in the public interest.
Vedelago appealed the decision to the independent information commissioner, who didn’t make a decision until November 2014. The documents that were ultimately released were of little value because so much information was redacted.
In 2018, a joint investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC’s Four Corners uncovered the Australian Taxation Office’s mistreatment of taxpayers. The information was revealed by ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle. He has now been charged with 66 offences and faces 161 years in prison.
Isn’t this a case of media self-interest? Why should I care?
Publishers and broadcasters have been at pains to emphasise that protections for media freedom are about the health of democracy. They argue that members of the public have a right to know about the conduct of those in power, with this transparency and accountability critical to the functioning of a free and functional society.
*Research conducted by the media companies found 87 per cent of people believe it’s important for Australia to be a free and open democracy. Only 37 per cent think this describes the status quo. A majority of survey respondents also agreed the government had become less transparent, whistleblowing was important and should be protected, and journalists should be protected from prosecution.
A key concern in the discussion is also whistleblower protections to ensure that any individual has the ability to approach media outlets with information they believe should be aired publicly.
So you’re saying journalists should be above the law?
The reform proposals put forward by the media outlets have been met with scepticism from some in Parliament and the community who have questioned why journalists should receive special treatment.
In response, media outlets have argued that protections for journalists do not make them above the law. They say there are many nuances in the legal system, pointing to examples such as parliamentary privilege and the confidentiality between a doctor and their patient. According to the coalition of media organisations, the balance is wrong and the law should be changed to plug gaps and protect public-interest journalism.
How does Australia compare internationally?
Reporters Without Borders ranked Australia as 21st in the world for press freedom in 2019, dropping two places since last year. The international organisation has warned that investigative journalism is under threat from “draconian” laws.
Another global watchdog, Freedom House, has warned of a troubling trend in Australia despite a strong democratic history.
Australia’s protections for press freedom are weaker than other Western democracies. The United States constitution enshrines free speech and a free press.
In Britain, human rights legislation explicitly protects freedom of expression. Both countries also have stronger protections for journalists facing defamation actions.
Australia has no strong legal protections for journalism and free expression, making it unique among comparable countries. The defences available in defamation law are also considered to be weak and complex, with Australia attracting a reputation as the defamation capital of the world.
Constitutional lawyer George Williams has pointed to the approximately 75 rounds of national security legislation that have been passed by the Parliament since September 11, 2001. He says the scale of this legislation far exceeds comparable democracies and have significantly heightened secrecy and restrictions on press freedom.
How can you support the campaign?
Write to your local MP and make your voice heard. Tell the government that you have a right to know, and that you are joining the call for reforms to legislation to protect media freedom in Australia.