Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gambling: Sports + Advertisements

So here is one thing I really dislike in Sweden – advertisments for gambling agencies… For a country that is so highly regulated in many other aspects – alcohol, etc – I don’t understand why gambling is so prominent on TV’s and not just during sporting matches, but constantly.. Now my understanding is that they are mainly British companies, circumventing the law by setting up online sites outside of the country, but I don’t understand why the government doesn’t just ban the advertising..

This whole concept of gambling just mystifies me. Admittedly I’ve gone to the pokies and played a few times, but I’ve had a limit of $20, after which I walk away.. The problem is, it’s not as easy as that for most people.. It goes beyond pokies though, you can’t even watch a game of football anymore, without odds showing up all over the screen for who will score the next goal, the finishing margin in the scores, I’m sure one day it will be who hits their head next..

I think it’s sick that such companies are allowed to brainwash society and become unescapable as they are constantly shown.. The whole concept feeds off a weakness in the modern human psyche that seeks to be rich, and to make a ‘quick buck’ without any effort.. and what’s scarier is that people actually believe it will happen to them, and next thing you know they gambled their entire house away…

The problem is present around the world, but I think governments should intervene and slowly shrink the influence of these companies, which are just as bad as tobacco firms profiting of people with drug addictions..

Ultimately, there will be some who argue that humans can’t save humans from themselves.. but we also can’t just stand by and watch society collapse around us.. Good policy and regulation is necessary on issues where individuals are unable to comprehend the consequences of their actions..

GST on Internet Purchases…

I’ve been thinking about this one a bit recently… My father is a small business owner, running a bike shop for the past 5 years in Ipswich. Over recent years, there has been a significant decline in his business due to customers purchasing items overseas, rather than from his shop..

He was finding that people would come into the shop, try out a bike, or a jersey, or shoes, get the right size, then disappear. A few weeks later they’d be riding around or wearing those items, and how did they get them? Not from another shop… Nope, from the UK! For some reason, these British companies can purchase stock cheaper than the Australian wholesalers, and then on sell the items to customers around the world (with no GST component)..

Now there’s a few different arguments in this case.. The likes of Gerry Harvey and others, have come under fire for pushing the case for the Internet GST threshold to be reduced from $1000, to $100, because the importers are killing Australian businesses.. It’s a valid point..

On the other side, you have groups pushing the fact that the current system is best for consumers, and that if Australian businesses want to compete, they need to move into the online space.. They also claim that the 10% GST doesn’t account for the significant savings consumers can make online, which raises the question as to why are Australian wholesalers paying so much more for stock? Is it purely due to the quantity, and that these overseas firms have much greater purchasing power?

I have trolled the net and the only political party I can find supporting the move are interestingly enough, The Greens – http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8191827/greens-back-retailers-internet-gst-bid – I’m not sure if this is just because the major parties haven’t made up their mind or they are just against it..

I understand that consumers want competition so they can pay the least amount for a product, but I am seriously concerned about where this is heading for Australian companies, particularly small business.. Admittedly, there is an emotional involvement for me in this topic and thus a bias, due to my father’s shop, but if we continue to purchase more and more products from overseas, sending our money out of the country, Australian businesses are the ones that are going to suffer, and eventually we will end up doing more harm than good.

Although I don’t usually agree with the Australian Federal MP, Bob Katter, I really see his perspective on issues like this and that of Woolworths/Coles.. Sure it’s great to have cheap prices in the short-term, but what about when all the Australian businesses go broke and there is no competition?? Can we really expect prices to stay low? I doubt it..

There are a few questions to be answered, and first and foremost that is why are Australian wholesalers being charged such higher prices.. Secondly, though, what would the cost of lowering the threshold be and in turn, a cost-benefit analysis..

I fear the same thing that has happened to manufacturing in Australia, will happen for many small businesses, due to our ‘global economy,’ and before I hear any comments about the Carbon Tax, these industries were screwed over a long time before that policy came to fruition, and Australians have the likes of Keating and Howard to thank for that.. Deregulation may have seemed like the right thing to do at the time, whilst blindly following the USA, but look where we are now??

Bit of a story here – http://www.smh.com.au/business/online-shopping-threatens-88k-jobs-retail-sector-claims-20110603-1fjys.html?from=smh_sb

Love to hear your thoughts :)

Tim Jackson

Simplistic assumptions that capitalism’s propensity for efficiency will allow us to stabilise the climate and protect against resource scarcity are nothing short of delusional.

Prof. Tim Jackson

Preferencing Lies: Misleading and a Waste of Paper!

Is anyone else sick of the Preferencing Lies we are fed at each and every election?! I happened to help hand out preferencing cards at the 2010 Federal Election, and the amount of waste at this single electoral location was hideous.. Every party would be giving them to every person they could, regardless of whether people wanted them or not, and 10 seconds later they’d be in the bin, or worse, lying on the ground.. Thankfully ours were made from recycled materials, however, it’s still ridiculous..

That’s really a side note to my main point here though.. So much ‘horse-trading’ is painted in the media, due to political parties ‘preferencing’ each other in individual electorates… And this charade is painted to the public like if you vote for the Greens, your vote will go to Labor, or if you vote for the Liberals, your vote will go to the Greens, but it’s all just rubbish..

Only once have I ever heard someone try to explain the fact to the public, that each individual voter chooses who they preference… If I want to vote Greens, then Liberal, then Labour, that’s my choice and more importantly, I CAN! No party is stopping me from doing so…

Sure enough, in the Upper House/Senate, it’s a little bit different. You can choose to only place one number in the box, and use the predetermined preferences, but YOU DON’T HAVE TO! You can preference in whatever order you want, that’s the point of democracy!

Personally, I think the whole preferencing war distracts from the real issues of elections. Not only are ‘how to vote’ cards a waste of paper, but they can be misleading and should be banned!

At the very least, if they must remain, I would insist that each booth has a laminated how to vote card attached to it, that people can view when they vote.. But otherwise, parties can’t hand out such material outside…

Any arguments against this logic? I honestly don’t see the value in allowing preferencing deals.. I think it’s fine that we can preference when we vote, I think that makes sense (although I can also see how proportional voting is also a valid system, such as in Tasmania/Senate), but that’s another topic again anyway..

An end to ‘how to vote’ cards is my message! :) Each individual voter should be able to make their own minds up as to who they vote for..

Related article here (more so about the preferencing deals) – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/18/3069503.htm

Car Dependency, Obesity and the Benefits of Active Transport

My current PhD research is  looking into ways to encourage commuters to choose more ‘sustainable’ modes of transport such as public transport and active transport (walking, cycling, etc)…

What I have found quite interesting is the amount of evidence linking car dependency and obesity. In countries like Australia, we have huge issues with road congestion and the flow on effects of this phenomena, and linked with this the country has one of the highest levels of obesity in the world…

Interesting article about Sydney, Cycling, Car Dependency and Obesity – click here

There are a few fronts of which we need to tackle this issue:

1.) Develop new residential areas around better design principles which promote active transport and allow convenient, fast and efficient public transport alternatives.

2.) Find ways to shift the behaviour of commuters in established residential areas to active/public transport..

I’m investigating ways of doing this through congestion charging, also through a ‘emissions trading-like’ scheme.

Interested to know what others think we should do to improve public transport, promote sustainable modes of transport and hopefully in the process reduce obesity…

Why is Australia’s mindset so far behind its neighbour New Zealand?

With the New Zealand Prime Minister visiting Australia, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on a few contemporary issues that distinguish the two OECD nations.

Kiwi’s cop a lot from Aussie’s, especially to do with Sheep, but I have to say that they are so far ahead in front of Australia it’s not funny. New Zealand have successfully introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme and are working hard to invest in renewable energies; they are willing to stand up to the US and not bend to their every desire; NZ have banned live exports since 2003, recognising the cruelty of the industry; and they have a much more democratic federal parliament, with a minority government made up of 4 parties (National, ACT, United Futures and Maori) and an Opposition made of Labour, Greens, Progressive and 2 independents! Not to mention they actually have a party representing the Indigenous peoples and acknowledge their traditional ownership through a Treaty they signed decades ago.. The list goes on..

Now I’m sure some will read this and say, if I like NZ so much, why don’t I move there? Sure enough, with such a progressive approach, even with a conservative government for the previous four terms, it is tempting, but I love my home country of Australia. I want to see Australia progress past all of this political nonsense, and actually come to the forefront of progressive countries around the globe..

I used to think the mindset in Australia was due to our isolation from the rest of the world, but reflecting on NZ’s accomplishments, I’m now not so sure..

In any case, I hope we can look up to our neighbours, rather than down; appreciate their magnificent political achievements and not only follow in their footsteps, but catch up to where they are at present.

– Ban Live Exports! (even the Indonesian Agricultural Minister has admitted that Indonesia aren’t worried because they can import meat from NZ – FROZEN MEAT because NZ don’t live export: see 6th last paragraph @ ABC NEWS – http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/15/3243901.htm

– Standing up to the US and not agreeing with everything they do.. After all, look at the current state of the USA, do we really want to end up like that?

– Implement a Carbon Tax (to be an ETS)/ETS and start reducing emissions. Invest part of the revenue into a publically-owned renewable energy firm that will invest in renewable energy projects and pay a dividend back to taxpayers, similar to the UK Conservative Governments Green Deal, See: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/tackling/green_deal/green_deal.aspx OR http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/green-new-deal OR http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/

– Encourage political representation for the Indigenous Peoples of Australia and sign an official Treaty.

– Encourage more political parties to give wider representation to the people of Australia in parliament, and bring about true democracy!

As I commented on another article, I think we should externalise the factions, this way parties can be true to their word and judged on their merit.. Unlike at the moment, where you’re constantly guessing what’s going on with each Union Boss within the Labour Party, and who’s pulling the strings within the divisions of the Liberals, not to mention the Nats that are a faction to themselves.. I admit though, at least the arrangement of the coalition is a step in the right direction of externalising factions i.e. Libs plus Nats..

Labour needs to split in two and form a Red-Green Alliance with the Greens, Libs should split into Turnbull’s side and Abbot’s side, and stay in bed with the Nats.. Throw in a few independents, and one or two more minor parties and that’s what I’d call a real democracy!

Any other ideas?

Don’t wish to be complaining, but I think in these aspects we can do more.. We are lucky in what we have in terms of lifestyle and freedoms, but politically we could be doing more.

 

I should add though.. NZ aren’t perfect.. No country is..
NZ has the same flawed economic model, which has made the country very trade dependent and destroyed the domestic manufacturing sector and limited a high-tech industry.. Similar to Aus, sadly..