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24/05/2012. Norsk Hydro senior vice-president Olaf Wigstol announced yesterday the Kurri Kurri plant near Newcastle would be mothballed within three months and that many of the 344 remaining employees would be made redundant.
Greg Combet, the local member and the federal Minister for Industry and Innovation, stated in a press release: "today’s announcement has been driven by current financial losses that are unrelated to the carbon price"
This is contrary to the press release from Norsk Hydro, which does appear to blame the carbon tax, at least in part.
"Following a thorough review, it is clear that the plant will not be profitable in the short term with current market prices, while long-term viability will be negatively affected by a number of factors including increasing energy costs and the carbon tax."
The company plans to mothball the Kurri Kurri plant until conditions improve.
Mister Combet stated he was "especially concerned for the workers and their families."
The carbon tax starts on 1 July.
21/05/2012. Qantas is axing 500 jobs and reviewing hundreds of maintenance positions after reporting a sharp fall in first-half profit.
The airline made $42 million in the six months to the end of December, down 83 per cent on the $241 million it made a year earlier.
Mr Joyce blamed industrial action, which led him to decide to ground the airline's entire fleet last year, and high fuel costs for the profit slump.
Although the carbon tax was not mentioned, under the carbon tax, the excise on kerosene used in aircraft will nearly triple from 3.556 per litre to 9.536 cents per litre.
This increase might not sound a lot; however, a 747 has a fuel capacity of about 216,000 litres. The carbon tax will add nearly $13,000 to a tank of fuel.
01/05/2012. After the weakest retail annual growth in almost 28 years the Reserve Bank has cut official cash rate by 0.5% to 3.75%.
Good news for mortgage holders IF the banks pass this on. Better still if banks pass this on to struggling (small) business.
The reduction should also reduce the A$, which in turn would help farmers, manufacturers and miners.
A one cent reduction in the exchange rate should cut $500 of a $50,000 car exported to the USA saving jobs at local car manufacturers like Holden.
In fact if the Government really wanted to save jobs, they should cut their spending. Interest rates are high, and therefor the exchange rate is high, because the Federal Government continues to borrow money, in competition with home-buyers and business.
The Federal Government is currently borrowing $100 million dollars per day. That is equivalent to over 300 average ($300,000) mortgages each and every day.
When the Government stops their spending, it is no longer competing for funds with home-buyers and business. Interest rates would come down, exchange rate would come down and banks would have to increase their staffing instead of reducing it.
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20/03/2012. According to the Government, iron ore and coal miners will pay an additional $10.6 billion over three years.
The tax is designed to raise an additional 30% on profits over $75m and will be used to increase compulsory superannuation contributions, pay for infrastructure and provide a 1% income tax cut for business.
We are not against a "Super Profit Tax" on minerals, after all they are owned by all Australians; however, there are some fundamental problems with this tax:
The largest miners will pay very little, because of the deal they did.
Miners can revalue already depreciated assets and use this as an offset against future profits.(In the case of BHP and RIO, this amounts to nearly $2 billion)
Miners can offset Royalties paid to State Governments.
State Governments will simply increase Royalties and Canberra will pay for it. Miners might pay more tax; however, it is unlikely the Federal Government will see much of it.
Furthermore, the amount of tax if highly unpredictable, as it depends on the value of the Australian dollar and the value of the commodities and for the Government to start spending the proceeds of this unpredictable tax is fiscally irresponsible.
A 1% tax-reduction, which only applies to companies, not sole traders or partnerships
However, only one third of small business are companies
Only half of these make enough profit, to pay any tax
The increase in super contributions are paid for by the employer, (not government) including those employers who do not get the 1% tax reduction
This may lead to job-cuts, not from miners, but from small business
The tax will be challenged in the court, costing the taxpayer millions, as the minerals are owned by the States not the Commonwealth
If miners earn less (after-tax) profits, then so do our Superannuation Funds - we may contribute more into super, but it is worth less
The infrastructure improvements are for the ports and (freight) rail. It will do nothing to fix the congestion on our roads
And what happens when the mining boom is over?
18/02/2012. A bill to reduce private health insurance rebate has passed through the senate.
According to the Government, this bill ensures that the lowest paid workers are not subsidizing the private health insurance of "Millionaires".
We wonder how valid this argument is.
The lowest paid workers, up to $16,000, do not pay any tax, let alone subsidize the "Mega-Rich".
Someone earning a million dollars is paying the top rate of tax. see tax calculator
Over $423,500 in income tax
$15,000 in medicare levy (in addition to their private health insurance)
$10,000 ($15,000 from July)in medicare levy Surcharge (if they do not have private health insurance)
and over $9,000 in flood levy.
In total they pay almost $450,000 (nearly half their income) in tax.
These Mega-Rich were only getting some, about $1000, of their tax back.
We believe that the greatest burden of tax should be on those who are best able to pay.
However, keeping more people in the private health system takes the burden off the public system for the rest of us.
Inevitably some people will drop out of private health insurance and will be queuing for the already under-resourced ailing public system, resulting in even longer waiting lists.
The result is that the Government has to pump millions into the public system, just to maintain the status quo.
When people leave the private funds, the remaining members, including those on low incomes, will have to pay increased premiums.
Ironically, for all but the "Mega-Rich", 30% of that increase will be rebated by the Government.
Those who decide to stay with their private insurance (pensioners, families with young children) but miss out on part or all of the rebate, will have to find the additional premium plus an extra $1000 to pay their premiums.
$1000 they now cannot spend in our struggling retail industry.
Perhaps this is good for the budget, for the rest of us:... Not so much.
01/12/2011. Just 2 days after the Gillard Government announced plans to slash billions of dollars in public spending as part of a savage mini-budget, the base salary for even the most junior parliamentarian will jump nearly 30% from $140,910 to at least $185,000.
Treasurer Wayne Swan, the deputy Prime Minister, will earn about $370,000, an $83,000 rise.
Finance Minister Penny Wong, who has been busy slashing spending, will earn an increase of $70,000, boosting her pay to about $310,000.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard's salary will jump $115,000 to around $481,000 and Peter Slipper gets a pay rise of almost $70,000 to more than $315,000 as Speaker.
How can our "representatives" feel with "hard working Australians" struggling with increased rent, electricity, grocery bills, child-care and fuel prices?
How can they possibly relate to pensioners having to choose between necessary medications, heating their home or even food?
Or self-funded retirees whose income has fallen, due to interest rate reductions and a share market decline of 12% in the last 12 months.
How can they identify with a worker who has to put fuel in the car, so he can go to work, knowing that his children went to school without breakfast?
We have to pay our politicians a decent pay, but when their pay-increase is more than our minimum wage, they are no longer capable of understanding the struggles the rest of us face.
27/07/2011. Shell today confirmed its decision to stop refining operations at its 79,000 barrel-per-day Clyde Refinery in Sydney.
Refining at Clyde will cease prior to mid-2013. The Clyde refinery and Gore Bay will be converted into import-only terminal operations.
The decision to close the refinery will have far reaching consequences :
Shell currently employs over 300 workers and around 200 contractors on site.
In addition to this, Shell draws on a network of firms in finance, logistics, engineering and IT. The refinery directly supports the local polypropylene plant with 57 employees, which produces plastic products for the automobile and household sectors.
The company states that the closure is not the result of the proposed carbon tax.
However, although oil refineries will qualify for free carbon permits, it is not enough to cover all carbon emissions (and the tax will grow), and any cost increase in a fiercely competitive market is damaging.
03/06/2010. Xstrata, which last month halted some copper exploration in Queensland, said it was now also immediately suspending
A$586 million of expenditure to develop both the A$6 billion Wandoan thermal coal project and a A$600 million project, to extend the life of the Ernest Henry copper mine.
The company says the two projects would have created 3,250 new jobs which have now been put at risk.
The difference between this announcement and the Fortescue suspended iron ore projects is that Xstrata projects are projects where spending had already been approved.
19/05/2010. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group has reacted to the Federal Government’s proposed Resource Super Profits Tax with a statement that up to 30,000 jobs could be at risk if the tax is introduced.
The company cited the uncertainty in the financial markets caused by the proposed tax.
• Solomon Hub - US$9 billion proposed investment with 6,000 people employed in operations and 15,000 through construction.
• Western Hub - Estimated US$6 billion proposed investment with 4,000 people employed in operations and 7,500 through construction.
• Chichester Hub expansion – US$4.5 billion invested to date with 2,700 people employed in operations and 7,500 during construction - proceeding
with the Road Rules
Options for older drivers
NSW (RMS (=RTA) website)
A guide for older (NSW) drivers (RMS (=RTA) Website pdf)
Some useful information about your options,
How the test will be conducted,
A refresher on the road rules.
RMS (former RTA) Live TrafficLive updates and traveller information for NSW roads
High and Low petrol price for today
(MotorMouth - New Window)
17/02/2012. As part of national jobs cuts and re-allocations, commercial airline Qantas will close its Adelaide-based catering operations, with 150 job losses expected.
SA Employment Minister Tom Kenyon expressed hope for the future of the affected workers.
"It's disappointing to see South Australians losing jobs."
12/12/2011. From the 1st of November 2011, NSW Maritime and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) were "wound up" and renamed the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
Rather than actually fix the congestion and infrastructure problems plaguing our city, it was better to adopt a new name and logo and move on.
Same potholes, raising tolls, unfunded road tunnel projects, but a new name.
10/03/2009. John Willis lost his job as captain of a Gippsland brigade for swearing on emergency radio during the Black Saturday bushfire crisis.
John was battling a fire that had already claimed 50% of his own dairy farm and was threatening a house.
The CFA said the firefighter, who has 40 years experience, (has travelled on his own time to hundreds of fires - in Victoria and interstate - and worked at car accidents, storms and other emergencies, saving countless lives) was stripped of his rank after at least two outbursts during last month's tragic inferno.
"He wasn't a suitable person to represent his brigade, let alone CFA in a senior role," Mr Hogan said. "He's got a history of that sort of behaviour."
In our opinion, when John is willing to put his own life on the line to save someone else or their property, he may swear to his heart’s content.
This volunteer was fighting fires, some deliberately lit, where flames four storeys high, raced across the land like a speeding train, wiping out towns within an hour and where so far 210 people died.
And he swore.
It is not as if he was doing a cooking show on national television.
13/02/2009. Many lives lost, many families left with nothing.
People who have lost everything are helping each other.
Neighbours helping neighbours.
Over $65 million has so far been raised.
All over the world there is coverage.
Queenslanders, after two thirds of their State was (and still is) flooded, receiving Government assistance, have donated part or all of it to Victorians.
Companies like Coles, DJ and others are donating a full day’s profit.
Dairy farmers who lost their stock make their equipment available to those who lost their equipment.
Volunteer fire-fighters were saving lives and property, while their own home burnt to the ground.
Truckies, delivering donated food, blankets and clothing, are donating their time and part of their pay.
Our cricket team has given up time to raise the spirits of the survivors.
And so it goes on and on and on.
The generosity is overwhelming.
It’s good to be Australian.
12/12/2008. "Small business will get an 'effective' tax cut by deferring part of their next tax installment", PM Kevin Rudd says.
Businesses with an annual turnover under $2 million will be allowed to postpone 20 per cent of their next Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax installment - due in January and February - until annual tax returns fall due in July.
This is not a tax cut. It's a deferral, and not a reduction, of tax liabilities.
Typically, businesses estimate in advance how much tax they will pay each quarter. These estimates can be varied downwards each quarter but most business operators do not bother, preferring to reconcile their return at the end of the financial year.
12/11/2008. The Federal Government's stalled FuelWatch plan to regulate petrol prices has finally been killed in the Senate with the upper house voting against the legislation this morning.
Independent Nick Xenophon was the crucial vote.
The scheme was to start on the 15th of December and would have cost $20.9 million over 4 years.
11/06/2008. PM Kevin Rudd yesterday pledged $35 million to Toyota from Labor's new Green Car Innovation Fund as an incentive to assemble the Hybrid Camry at the Altona facility in Victoria.
Victoria matched the $35 million.
To us this sounds like policy on the run. No inquiry and no HCC (Hybrid Car Commissioner). Also, according to last month's budget, the Green Car Innovation Fund (for which guidelines have not yet been developed) does not start operating until 2011.
Toyota announced it would have build the cars here "with or without assistance".
07/06/2008. A SUCCESSION of interest rate rises is blamed for the greatest single drop in Australian house prices on record.
The national median house price lost nearly $13,000 in the first quarter of this year.
Home prices may slide further this year after housing affordability deteriorated in the first quarter to the worst on record, according to a separate report by the real estate institute published May 28.
Member calls for investigation into benefits and risks associated with genetically modified orgasms.
03/06/2008. We're not touching this one.
Wages, House Prices and Petrol
16/05/2008. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Adult average wage has increased by 4.8 % over the 12 months to Feb 2008.
The Capital Cities House price Index rose 13.8% over 12 months to Mar 2008.
In the 12 months to Feb 2008 petrol has increased from $1.06 to $1.46.
An increase of 40 cents or 37.7 %.
13/05/2008. Read the full text of the Budget Speech delivered on the 13th May 2008.