Sunday, 25 June 2017

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's agile & innovative NBN accused of screwing the poor. Why am I not surprised?


“Examining the rollout of NBN technologies as of December 2016, our preliminary analyses suggest areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage overlap with regions typically receiving NBN infrastructure of poorer quality.”  [The Conversation, 22 June 2017]

c|net, 23 June 2017:

The richer you are, the better the NBN getting rolled out in your area.

That's according to a new study that maps Australia's disadvantaged communities against the NBN technology they're receiving. The findings show that when it comes to accessing the technology of the future, the poorest in our community are being left behind.

Conducted by the Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity at Flinders University, the study ranked Australia's richest and poorest communities according to ABS data. The team used the ABS's 2011 socio-economic indexes for area (SEIFA) and index of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage.

Matching these metrics against NBN technology, the researchers found "areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage [shown on the left of the graph below] overlap with regions typically receiving NBN infrastructure of poorer quality."  

There is massive difference in the NBN technology rolled out to the least advantaged parts of our society (on the left-hand side) and the most advantaged. The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to be using fibre (shown in blue). 
Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity

The Conversation, 22 June 2016:

This result tells a similar story to an early analysis by Sydney University’s Tooran Alizadeh of 60 NBN release sites that were announced in 2011. She found some of the most disadvantaged areas of Australia were not gaining equal access to the new infrastructure.

If we look only at major cities in Australia – where the level of fibre technology is higher overall – areas with the greatest disadvantage, while exceeding similarly disadvantaged areas nationally, still received significantly less FTTP and FTTN: 65% of areas with a SEIFA decile of one had FTTP and FTTN, compared with 94% of areas with a SEIFA decile of 10…. 

NBN services in outer regional areas

Composition of currently available* NBN service technologies in outer regional areas by Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas deciles (SEIFA). SEIFA decile 1 denotes the most disadvantaged areas, and SEIFA decile 10 denotes the least disadvantaged areas. 
Note: Decile 10 has been excluded from this chart because only one suburb falls into this category, whereas other deciles have between 129 (Decile 8) and 341 (Decile 4) suburbs.
Notes: 
(i) A suburb can have multiple NBN service types. The data is for services that are currently available*. (Services that are planned or where build has commenced is not included).  
(ii) Fibre denotes both Greenfields and Brownfields fibre, and includes Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), Fibre to the Building (FTTB) and Fibre to the Node (FTTN). 
(iii) HFC is Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial service. 

*Technology available at December 2016

Another perspective on the issue……..

How the early NBN roll out was originally determined.

Telecommunications Policy, Volume 41, Issue 4, Tooran Alizadeh,  and Reza Farid, Political economy of telecommunication infrastructure: An investigation of the National Broadband Network early rollout and pork barrel politics in Australia, May 2017:

Abstract

It has been argued that infrastructure unevenness rigidifies into more lasting structures of socio-economic and political privilege and advantage. This paper focuses on telecommunication infrastructure as the backbone of the fast-growing digital economy, and raises important questions about the early National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout in Australia. The paper asks whether there was any case of pork barrelling in the selection of early release sites that enjoyed a regional competitive advantage against other localities that had to wait several years to receive the infrastructure. The answer to this question then leads to a second question about the degree to which voting in the early NBN release sites has swung following the infrastructure rollout. In order to answer these questions the paper examines the voting patterns in the earlier NBN release sites versus all electorates in the Federal elections in 2007–2013 using the data available via Australian Electoral Commission. Findings show trends of politically targeted funding, followed by vote swing in the very next election.


An analysis of the voting behaviours within the suburbs that were selected by governing Australian Labor Party, for the early NBN release, reveals that those suburbs that voted for the opposition Liberal/National Coalition and where the Coalition-held marginal seats were the key beneficiaries. This pattern occurred in all three states, as highlighted in Figure 3. In New South Wales and Queensland, electorates where either party held marginal seats had the most likely chance of receiving the NBN, followed by those were the Australian Labor Party-held safe seats. Chances of receiving the NBN in Victoria differed to the northern states, with electorates where the Australian Labor Party-held safe seats almost as likely as suburbs where marginal seats were held by the Liberal/National Coalition to receiving the NBN in the early rollout. Moreover, across the three states, the opposing Liberal/National Coalition-held safe seats were least likely to receive the NBN. With this said, fairly safe-held seats by either party also lucked out, although those held by the Australian Labor Party overall had slightly higher chances. Thus, in terms of receiving the NBN early rollout, the overall winners were those seats held marginally by the opposing Liberal/National Coalition. At the same time, the biggest loosers where the safe seats held by the opposing Coalition.

The Liberal Party has a new website *chortle*


The Liberal Party of Australia has a new website, The Fair Go, which it officially launched on 23 June 2017 at the party's federal conference.

Created on 2 May 2017 with registration expiring on 2 May 2018, it appears to have been established with the next federal election in mind.

Its admin email is thefairgo.com.dit@domainprivacyservice.com.au.

It has everything from The Words of the Week through to Pollies Horoscopes and Agony Bob advises – along with articles like Women are just people, Simplify Medicare to make it better and more sustainable and From laissez-faire to much fairer (the last two require a log-in to read)

No, I’m not joking. These are all on the current homepage.

Presumably the Liberal Party sees this website as aiming for the 18 to 25 year-old vote (the er...."woke generation") and surely must have used the Young Liberals from Sydney University as their focus group because the lameness level is off the charts.

According to outgoing acting Liberal party director Andrew Bragg undecided voters and swing voters would be targeted and the website"is designed to support the coalition's overarching narrative into social platforms and arm supporters with bottom up perspectives on public policy issues. Publish or perish must be our credo"

Suspend disbelief and enter at  http://thefairgo.com/whos-your-grand-daddy/:
                                       
We can’t be the only ones who remember that brief, disturbing time in which Australia declared the newly-minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to be “daddy”.

We were curious how UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and US Democrat candidate Bernie Sanders would stack up in the daddy stakes. Corbyn got a huge slice of the youth vote and Sanders didn’t make it through the primary but still commands the hearts, minds and Twitter feeds of voters craving a political quality which has been thin on the ground.
It’s The Fair Go’s considered opinion that this quality is Daddiness. Or maybe more like grand-daddiness. Hear us out.
At first glance, you’d have to say that these old white leaders (OWLs) are unlikely heroes for a woke generation. But the young, white and wealthy just can’t get enough of them. [my yellow highlighting]
Potential Pest Warning


'Chances of hitting the floor whilst reading' rating  

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Koalas in Iluka, NSW lead such interesting lives


One young well-known koala attempting to hide in Loxton Street from the Iluka paparazzi……

Quotes of the Week


If you want to build a new coal plant you have to think about what is going to happen to electricity prices over the next 20 or 30 years, because that is the time frame that you have to sell over to make back the cost of building the plant. The reality is that renewables and storage is going to be much cheaper than coal in far less than 20 years, so anyone building a coal plant today is never going to make back their money. [Senior economist at The Australia Institute Matt Grudnoff writing in The Guardian, 14 June 2017]

“Keep him away from Twitter, dear God, keep him away from Twitter”  [anonymous quote alleged to come from White House sraffer concerning US President Donald J. Trump]

“Advisers to the President describe Mr Trump as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy.” [ABC News, 18 June 2017]

"At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us, as a country?" [President Donald J. Trump, 1 June 2017]

Friday, 23 June 2017

Members of Australian Parliament receive third pay rise in four years raising base salary to $203,020 per annum


The 226 members of the House of Representatives and Senate will receive a base salary which is almost six times higher than the June 2017 full-time minimum wage – commencing on 1 July 2017.

Excerpts from Remuneration Tribunal 2017 Review of Remuneration for Holders of Public Office Statement, 22 June 2017:

The Tribunal has decided to increase remuneration by 2 per cent for public offices in its jurisdiction, with effect from 1 July 2017…….


In conducting its annual review of remuneration, the Tribunal takes account of economic conditions in Australia, past and projected movements in remuneration in the private and public sectors (including the APS), as well as the outcomes of reviews of public offices completed by the Tribunal. In order to inform its conclusions the Tribunal draws upon authoritative external sources such as the published material available from the Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as well as trends in public and private sector remuneration. It is obliged by its legislation also to consider the Annual Wage Reviews of the Fair Work Commission.

Adjustments arising from the Tribunal’s annual review generally apply to the broad spectrum of offices in the Tribunal’s determinative jurisdiction including the most senior offices in the public service and statutory agencies, certain government-owned businesses, Secretaries, numerous part-time offices and the federal judiciary, as well as parliamentarians. Ordinary annual adjustments in remuneration of this kind recognise the achievement of ongoing objectives and the steady evolution in responsibility that is characteristic of public administration.

The Tribunal considers it important that remuneration for offices in its jurisdiction be maintained at appropriate levels over the longer term to attract and retain people of the calibre required for these important high level offices. The Tribunal is conservative in its approach to annual increases and in this case is conscious of the Government’s policy of wage restraint for the APS and non- APS government agencies. Ideally, the Tribunal is concerned to avoid, in the future, any need for significant one-off increases to restore proper relativities and to recognise fully ongoing changes in work requirements…..

The Tribunal sets remuneration for a range of offices that sit at the forefront of the private/public sector ‘divide’. Heads of agencies, members of boards and technical/professional specialists often straddle roles between both sectors. Many of these office holders do not expect or require that monetary compensation be set at private sector levels.

Rather in the true sense of the phrase ‘public service’, office holders serve for the public good. This means that in setting remuneration the Tribunal has traditionally set rates below those of the private sector.

Nonetheless over the past year there has been a notable increase in submissions to the Tribunal seeking higher remuneration for offices and individual office holders based at least in part on private sector remuneration.

As well as achieving an appropriate balance in the assessment of both private and public sector wage movements, the Tribunal must make its assessment of wages and other economic considerations based not just on past experience but also on predictions of future movements. The Tribunal is also conscious of the Government’s policy of wage restraint applying to APS and non-APS agencies. Ultimately the Tribunal has decided to set its general increase at 2 per cent…..

This wage increase translates into the following figures.

The Australian, 22 June 2017:

The rise will push ordinary members of parliament up by just under $4000 to $203,020 per annum.
The Prime Minister will get a $10,350 pay rise from $517,504 a year to $527,854
Cabinet ministers, currently paid a base salary of $343,344, will get nearly $7000 extra and will now be paid $350,210 a year.
Shadow ministers, on $248,800 per year, will get bumped up to $253,776 a year.

MPs and senators had already been granted additional taxpayer-funded support staff six months ago.

The Australian, 20 December 2016:

Taxpayers will fork out an extra $35.8 million over the next four years for federal politicians to ­employ 33 additional staff, adding to more than 1500 people already employed by MPs.

The allocation will see the extra full-time positions divided ­between the Coalition, Labor, the Greens and crossbench MPs, and also provide for some existing roles to be reclassified, costing $9.1m annually from 2017-18.

The mid-year budget review says $35.8m will “allow parliamentarians to more effectively manage their workload and represent the interest of their constituents”.

The total number of personal staff employed by government MPs is 448, including 401 for the 30 ministers and 25 for the 12 parliamentary secretaries, who are called assistant ministers.

Eight staff work for government whips and a further 14 have other roles.

The opposition employs 101 personal staff; 37 are allocated to the Leader of the Opposition, and six to opposition whips. The Greens have 17 personal staff. Each of the 15 crossbench MPs and senators have been allocated an extra three staff. In addition, there are almost 1000 staffers working in electorate offices, with the 226 MPs and ­senators entitled to four workers each.

Department of Finance documents show the number of staff classified as senior advisers ­jumped from 61 in February last year to 101 last month. In the same ­period, the total staff in lower-paid positions fell by eight.

Government staff are paid ­between $48,000 annually for an entry-level electorate staffer to $245,000 for a senior adviser, plus allowances of up to $30,000 a year.

The staff have just signed a new enterprise bargaining agreement that locks in salary and allowance increases of 2 per cent a year for the next three years.


About those rules for joining the Liberal-Nationals' cosy little citizenship club.......



This bill raises the bar on applications for citizenship and increases the power of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, over the citizenship process - including granting him the power to override Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions on citizenship applications.

One of the components of this bill is the introduction of an English language test, which means that with few exceptions applicants between 16 and 60 years of age will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test.

Applicants will be required to undertake a separate upfront English language test with an accredited provider and achieve a minimum level of ‘competent’.

According to the Immigration Minister the minimum level of competency is the IELTS General Training language test at  “Level 6 of the General stream focuses on "basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts".

This particular test has three components – listening, reading and writing - and takes the better part of three hours to complete.

An example of the type of questions contained in the General Training reading test can be found here.

There is a strong likelihood that between est. 7-16 million Australians (including those born in Australia of Australian parents) would fail this test if they were required to take it today.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded the results of direct measurement of three critical information-processing skills: literacy; numeracy; and problem solving in technology-rich environments and the 16.3 million people whose skills were measured included those not in the workforce, those in employment and those without a job.

In 2016 ABS recorded:


By 2011-12 ABS was stating:


In the 2011-12 round of testing 43% of participants born in Australia and 51% of participants born outside of Australia had English literacy levels below Level 3.

The chances of the majority of these people, regardless of whether they are citizens or residents with visas, being able to pass Peter Dutton’s new English language test is slim to say the least.

According to Catherine Elder, a world-leading expert at Melbourne University and president of the International Language Testing Association; "A level six on both tests requires you to be highly literate and to be able to do things like write an essay. It would take a great deal of time and be beyond the reach of many people who come to Australia."

The fact of the matter is that in 2011-12 it was people who had attained a higher education qualification (Bachelor degree and above) who were more likely than others to have achieved a score at Level 3 or above in literacy and numeracy, and Level 2 or above in problem solving in technology-rich environments.

So according to the new citizenship rules being supported by millionaire parliamentarians Malcolm Bligh Turnbull and Peter Craig Dutton, it would appear that only those that managed to acquire a decent education need apply to join the Liberal-Nationals’ cosy little citizenship club.1
  
Footnote:

1. In 1788 when the forbears of many individuals and families - which are both grand and humble members of  Australian society of today - first stumbled off those early British convict ships onto shore the vast majority of them would have been illiterate. On the basis of poor literacy levels and criminal records Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's many convict forbears wouldn't be allowed to become permanent residents much less citizens today under the new rules.

When Labor senators play petty politics and women literally pay the price


On 19 June 2017 The Greens Senator Larissa Waters moved an amendment to the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017.

This amendment sought to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from sanitary products used by the vast majority of Australian women and girls during their reproductive years.

The Australian Parliament Senate Hansard recorded the fate of this proposed amendment of 19 June 2017 at Page 17:

The TEMPORARY CHAIR (Senator Leyonhjelm): The question is that amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 8153 be agreed to.
Question agreed to.
Senator WATERS (Queensland—Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (11:52): I move amendment (1) on sheet 8156:
(1) Page 27 (after line 16), at the end of the Bill, add:
Schedule 2—Exemptions
A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 1 At the end of Subdivision 38-B
Add:
38-65 Sanitary products
A supply of *sanitary products is GST-free.
2 Section 195-1
Insert: sanitary products means tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners and similar items.
3 Application
The amendments made to the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 by this Schedule apply in relation to supplies made on or after 1 July 2017
…………..

The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 8156 as moved by Senator Waters be agreed to. The committee divided. [12:07] (The Chair—Senator Lines)

Ayes ......................15
Noes ......................33
Majority...................18

AYES
Di Natale, R
Gichuhi, LM
Griff, S
Hanson-Young, SC
Hinch, D
Kakoschke-Moore, S
Leyonhjelm, DE
Ludlam, S
McKim, NJ
Rhiannon, L
Rice, J
Siewert, R (teller)
Waters, LJ
Whish-Wilson, PS
Xenophon, N

NOES
Bernardi, C
Burston, B
Bushby, DC
Chisholm, A
Cormann, M
Dodson, P
Duniam, J
Farrell, D
Fawcett, DJ
Fierravanti-Wells, C
Gallagher, KR
Georgiou, P
Hanson, P
Hume, J
Ketter, CR
Kitching, K
Lines, S
McAllister, J (teller)
McCarthy, M
McGrath, J
McKenzie, B
Moore, CM
Nash, F
Payne, MA
Pratt, LC
Reynolds, L
Roberts, M
Ryan, SM
Sinodinos, A
Smith, D
Sterle, G
Watt, M
Williams, JR

Question negatived.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.

Noticeably absent for this particular vote were all 26 Labor senators.

The House of Representatives passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (GST Low Value Goods) Bill 2017 (with the four other Senate amendments agreed to) on 21 June 2017.

Females of all ages who still have their menses will continue to pay GST on the sanitary items necessary for their general health and wellbeing.

I'll remember to 'thank' those missing Labor senators at the ballot box, along with those senators who voted Senator Waters' amendment down.

In my case that means not voting for NSW senators Sam Dastyari, Jenny McAllistar, Deborah O'Neill and Doug Cameron (all Labor), along with Brian Burston (One Nation), Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Fiona Nash, Marise Payne  and Arthur Sinodinos (Liberal) & John Williams (Nationals).