Showing posts with label Wealth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wealth. Show all posts

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Another how low can they go moment courtesy of the Catholic Church in Australia



The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 February 2018:

The Catholic Church in Australia is worth tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the country’s biggest non-government property owners, and massively wealthier than it has claimed in evidence to major inquiries into child sexual abuse.

A six-month investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the church misled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by grossly undervaluing its property treasures in both NSW and Victoria while claiming that increased payments to abuse victims would require cuts to its social programs.
The investigation was based on intricate data from local councils that allowed more than 1860 valuations of church-owned property in Victoria. That showed that across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - the church had land and buildings worth almost $7 billion in 2016.

Extrapolated nationally, using conservative assumptions, the church owns property worth more than $30 billion Australia-wide.

This put the Catholic church among the largest non-government property owners, by value, in NSW and Australia, rivalling Westfield’s network of shopping centres and other assets. It dwarfs all other large property owners.

"These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church’s wealth and their responses to survivors," said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation.

"The 600 survivors registered for our Foundation’s services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their Church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.’’…..

Monetary payments to abuse survivors have averaged just $49,000 under Towards Healing, the national compensation system established by the church in 1996……

The church also has extensive non-property assets including Catholic Church Insurance and its own internal banks - often known as Catholic Development Funds - with nearly $1 billion in assets in Sydney alone.

And it has other investments, including in superannuation, telecommunications and in the stock-market. A Church-owned fund manager has more than $1.4 billion under management.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Don't laugh, this Nationals MP was serious


David Arthur Gillespie of Wauchope entered the Australian Parliament in 2013 as a National Party Member of the House of Representatives representing the Lyne electorate, with an annual salary many of his constituents can only dream about.

He is quite literally a man of property – aside from his house and farm he owns four commercial and residential investment properties, which appear to be snugly sitting in one or more family trusts along with a portfolio of shares.

His total parliamentary entitlements expenditure paid by the Department of Finance was $65,512.97 in 2013,  $399,946.31 in 2014, $339,797.06 in 2015 and $381,651 in 2016.

Yet two years ago he caught the greed bug and wanted more, more, more………..

ABC News, 2 December 2017:

The Prime Minister's Department has lost a two-year fight to conceal a minister's bid for thousands of dollars in extra pollie-perks, including charter flights and boat rides.

Former speaker Bronwyn Bishop's taxpayer-funded helicopter ride sparked an inquiry into politicians' entitlements.

Most MPs and senators' submissions were publicly released, but bureaucrats decided to hide Nationals MP David Gillespie's proposal.

After a lengthy freedom of information (FOI) battle, the ABC can reveal Dr Gillespie argued politicians in seats like his should annually be given:

* Nearly $15,000 extra "charter allowance" for charter flights, hire cars, boat rides or taxis
* 14 days more travel allowance for overnight stays within the electorate
* An additional office
* One more full-time employee

Dr Gillespie is the member for Lyne on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

He argued the boost would help meet "the significant logistical challenges that confront all rural MPs in meeting the needs and expectations of their constituents".

"If the additional costs are $10 million, it is a small price to pay to ensure fairness within our democracy is delivered," he wrote in the October 2015 submission.

Dr Gillespie wanted extra expenses for all electorates 10,000 square kilometres or larger.

The Assistant Health Minister's seat is about 16,000 square kilometres in size, and includes towns of Taree and Wauchope.

If implemented today, 24 Coalition MPs would benefit, along with six Labor members and two independents.

Electorates 100,000 square kilometres or larger would have received an even bigger windfall under the blueprint.

But the Government has only partly adopted one of his ideas by funding an extra office in Australia's seven biggest electorates — a group of seats that does not include Lyne.

I’m sure David Gillespie is as pleased with mainstream media outing this attempted cash grab as he was when they reported this……

The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 October 2017:

A Turnbull government minister is facing up to $500,000 in personal legal bills to defend his job against a Labor High Court challenge.

While the government is covering the costs of the seven federal politicians referred to the court over their citizenship status, the eighth MP facing constitutional eligibility questions is not getting the same assistance.

Labor is challenging Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie's right to stay on in Federal Parliament, putting the government's slender majority at risk, because it believes he may have an indirect financial interest in the Commonwealth – grounds for disqualification under section 44(v) of the constitution.

As revealed by Fairfax Media in February, the Nationals MP owns a small suburban shopping complex in Port Macquarie and one of the shops is an outlet of Australia Post – a government-owned corporation.

The Lighthouse Beach Australia Post outlet in Port Macquarie owned by Nationals MP David Gillespie. 
Photo: Peter Daniels

Alley v Gillespie [2017] HCA is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday,12 December 2017 by High Court of Australia.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts


The Conversation, 28 November 2017:

Australians with lower incomes are dying sooner from potentially preventable diseases than their wealthier counterparts, according to our new report.

Australia’s Health Tracker by Socioeconomic Status, released today, tracks health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status. It shows that over the past four years, 49,227 more people on lower incomes have died from chronic diseases – such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer – before the age of 75 than those on higher incomes.

A steady job or being engaged in the community is important to good health. Australia’s unemployment rate is low, but this hides low workforce participation, and a serious problem with underemployment. Casual workers are often not getting enough hours, and more and more Australians are employed on short-term contracts.

There’s a vicious feedback loop – if your health is struggling, it’s harder to build your wealth. If you’re unable to work as much as you want, you can’t build your wealth, so it’s much tougher to improve your health.

Our team tracked health risk factors, disease and premature death by socioeconomic status, which measures people’s access to material and social resources as well as their ability to participate in society. We’ve measured in quintiles – with one fifth of the population in each quintile.

We developed health targets and indicators based on the World Health Organisation’s 2025 targets to improve health around the globe.

The good news is that for many of the indicators, the most advantaged in the community have already reached the targets.

The bad news is that poor health is not just an issue affecting the most vulnerable in our community, it significantly affects the second-lowest quintile as well. Almost ten million Australians with low incomes have much greater risks of developing preventable chronic diseases, and of dying from these earlier than other Australians.


Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australia - where the rich get richer as wealth & income inequality grows (interactive mapping)


The Guardian, 12 October 2017

Australia is among countries with the highest growth in income inequality in the world over the past 30 years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s director of fiscal affairs, has told an audience at the launch of the IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor that Australia’s income inequality growth has been similar to the US, South Africa, India, China, Spain and the UK since the 1980s.

Last month the treasurer, Scott Morrison, said that income inequality was not getting worse in Australia.

Morrison told the Business Council of Australia in late September that Treasury and the Reserve Bank had found, in specific analysis of current wage fundamentals, that Australian wages were growing slowly across most industries in the economy, and most regions of the country, so the slow growth was evenly shared.

However, he would not release the Treasury analysis.

Graph showing inequality by country by the IMF. Illustration: IMF

Gaspar said IMF staff had used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s income distribution database, Eurostat, and the World Bank’s Povcalnet data, among other sources, to calculate that income inequality had increased in nearly half of the world’s countries in the past three decades, and Australia had experienced a “large increase” in that time.

“Most people around the world live in countries where inequality has increased,” he said.

The IMF’s latest Fiscal Monitor, released overnight, is dedicated to the global growth in income inequality. It warns that while some inequality is inevitable in a market-based economic system as a result of “differences in talent, effort, and luck”, excessive inequality could “erode social cohesion, lead to political polarisation, and ultimately lower economic growth”. 

It also warns that income inequality tends to be “highly correlated” with wealth inequality, inequality of opportunity, and gender inequality……

Earlier this year, the OECD economic survey of Australia in April found “inclusiveness has been eroded” in the past two decades.

“The Gini coefficient has been drifting up and households in upper-income brackets have benefited disproportionally from Australia’s long period of economic growth,” the report said.

“Real incomes for the top quintile of households grew by more than 40% between 2004 and 2014, while those for the lowest quintile only grew by about 25%.”

In July the Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, when asked about his views on inequality at a charity lunch in Sydney, said it had grown “quite a lot” in the 1980s and 1990s and had risen “a little bit” recently, but it was important to make a distinction between income and wealth inequality.

“Wealth inequality has become more pronounced particularly in the last five or six years because there’s been big gains in asset prices,” Lowe said. “So the people who own assets, which are usually wealthy people, have seen their wealth go up.”

He said income inequality had increased slightly in recent years, but wealth inequality was more pronounced because of rising asset prices.

So how do individual regions across Australia fare?

The Guardian on 4 February 2016 published this Australia-wide interactive graphic:



Income Distribution in NSW Northern Rivers Region (based on Australian Taxation Office data for 2012-13)

Byron – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 38.5% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.544

Kyogle – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.9% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.554

Ballina – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 33.2% of income – Gini coefficient 0.495

Tweed – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.473

Clarence Valley – top 10%  of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 31.1% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.493

Lismore – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 29.7% of total income – Gini coefficient 0.459

Richmond Valley – top 10% of individuals lodging personal tax forms held 28.1% of total income  – Gini coefficient 0.448

*  Some low income earners, eg. those receiving Government pensions/allowances or earning below the tax free threshold may not be present in the data, as they may not be required to lodge personal tax forms. [Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, Total Income, 2012-13]

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Ostentatious shows of wealth a habit the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop obviously finds hard to break


Australian Foreign Minister & Liberal MP for Curtain Julie Bishop’s wardrobe shrieks designer labels, expensive shoes and accessories. Chanel, Armani, Vuitton, Louboutin, Choo, Hand, Aujoulet, Zampatti, Gilbert – all form part of the political mannequin parade.

This year’s Midwinter Ball in Canberra was notable because someone managed to put a price tag on the evening gown

A whopping AUD$32,142.97 at the time of writing or, to put it another way, worth an est. 93 per cent of the annual wage before tax of an ordinary Australian full-time worker on minimum wage.

A look at some of those F*ck You gowns down the the years

Midwinter Ball 2013

Midwinter Ball 2014

Midwinter Ball 2015

Midwinter Ball 2016

Midwinter Ball 2017

Monday, 1 May 2017

Looking for all those vacant residential dwelling being deliberately kept out of the Australian housing market


In the 2011 Census there were 2,297,460 rented private dwellings recorded. This was 29.6 per cent of the 7,760,322 private dwellings declared covering an est. 8,420,000 households.


Simple maths shows there was possibly around 534,000 private dwellings for which there were unlikely to be tenants and which were potentially available for sale.

Given these excess dwellings are likely to be unevenly spatially distributed, a number of metropolitan suburbs and regional urban areas would still be experiencing limited availability of housing stock for rent or sale and therefore demand may be unmet.

However, according to BIS Sharpnel; In 2017After a record breaking building boom in most capitals, Australia will have 24,039 extra homes above what are needed and will be oversupplied for the first time in more than a decade, a new report shows.

So why is it so hard to find a place to rent in large metropolitan areas and why is housing for sale so expensive?

It appears there is an artificial drought which can only be explained by the high percentage of investment properties in the housing stock mix which had reached 23 per cent by 2015, comprising one quarter of all house stock and two-thirds of apartment stock.

Domain.com.au released a ball park estimate of all vacant properties on 4 April 2017, based on Prosper Australia  research:

QUEENSLAND

An estimated 59,000 properties are standing empty in Queensland.

NEW SOUTH WALES

There are an estimated 121,000 properties vacant across New South Wales (with up to 90,000 properties standing empty in Sydney suburbs).

VICTORIA

The president of Prosper Australia, Catherine Cashmore, who has collected data on water usage to show there are 80,000 empty homes in Melbourne, said an empty home tax was an intuitively appealing policy that could pave the way for greater reforms.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

There are an estimated 23,000 properties vacant in South Australia.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

An estimated 21,000 vacant properties.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

There are an estimated 2,000 vacant properties in the Territory.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRIOTORY

An estimated 5,000 vacant properties.

TASMANIA

An estimated 7,000 vacant properties.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 28 March 2016:

Vacant properties were among the "perverse outcomes" of tax incentives that encouraged some investors to favour capital growth over rental returns, according to the analysis by the UNSW's City Futures Research Centre.

"Leaving housing empty is both profitable and subsidised by government," researchers Bill Randolph and Laurence Troy said. "This is taxation lunacy and a national scandal."

The ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods analysed Australian Taxation Office data and found at least 4,204 “legislators” who owned investment properties of which more than 13.87 per cent appear to negatively gear their properties.


So it is not hard to see why the Turnbull Government is dragging its heels when faced with the “perverse outcomes” arising from negative gearing and capital gain tax concessions.

Or why a Coalition state government like the NSW Government would decide that the best way to address a perceived housing shortage is to give its political supporters free rein.

Sky News, 9 January 2017:

The NSW government will be able to fast-track developments under a massive shake-up of the state's planning system aimed at tackling Sydney's chronic housing shortage.
Councils will determine fewer development applications under the proposed changes but will be responsible for devising more planning strategies with local communities.
Other proposals include providing incentives for developers if they consult with neighbours and the community before lodging development applications and simplifying building regulations.

It defies belief that the NSW Coalition Government would believe that just building more private housing for investors to warehouse for financial gain is a solution to rising house prices and limited availability.


Realestate.com.au calculates that it requires at least one person in a marriage/
partnership, presumably without children, to be in full-time employment - and earning more in wages each week than half the current workforce - for the couple to have any hope of saving for a deposit within a reasonable time period:


So if our multimillionaire prime minister, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, and his parliamentary fellow travellers won’t act to ease housing affordability by removing taxation loopholes which allow the greedy to manipulate the housing market to their advantage, then it is up to voters to apply a cattle prod to their privileged haunches – and vote them out in 2018-19.

And if state governments won’t move to penalise investors who deliberately leave residential dwellings vacant for a trouble-free capital gain as well as a tax deduction, then voters with an eye to the future of their children and grandchildren might consider letting them know how they feel about the situation.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ninety-six per cent of Australian federal parliamentarians own a property


ABC News, 20 April 2017:

There's no housing affordability crisis in the ranks of Federal Parliament's members and senators.

The politicians charged with tackling the thorny issue of spiralling house prices are among the nation's most aggressive property investors, an analysis by the ABC has revealed.

The 226 individuals own 524 properties between them and about half of them own investment properties.

That means many of our politicians have a very personal interest in any changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount……

Ninety-six per cent of parliamentarians own a property. Only 10 out of our 224 elected officials aren't in the game.

Compare that to the rest of Australia, where home ownership is expected to dip below 50 per cent sometime this year.

Register of Members’ Interests for 45th Australian Parliament.

Although a number of investment properties are listed in the members’ register this does not necessarily mean that additional property is not owned as part of superannuation schemes (other than that operated by the Commonwealth of Australia) or included in the assets of a private corporation in which a member has a significant shareholding.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A university education and a highly paid job the road to home ownership in Australia for the masses?


The Turnbull Government’s tin ear was on full display in The Sydney Morning  Herald on 21 February 2017:

The Coalition MP tasked with tackling Australia's housing affordability problems has said a "highly paid job" is the "first step" to owning a home.

The federal Victorian MP Michael Sukkar, who is the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer and has been charged with finding solutions to the country's housing affordability woes, also pointed to his own experience in purchasing two properties by the age of 35 as an example to struggling homebuyers. 

"We're also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs which is the first step to buying a house, it's not the only answer but it's the first step," Mr Sukkar told Sky News on Monday night.

"I want to see young people like me, leave university, I was a terrible university student but I left university because the economy was so good, I got a great start and I was able to forge a career," he said.

The Liberal MP for Deakin since September 2013 and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, 35 year-old Michael Sven Sukkar LLB, BComm (Deakin), LLM (Melb), who apparently walked straight into well-paying employment at PricewaterhouseCoopers after leaving university and eleven years later owns his own home in Blackburn and a residence in Canberra after selling a second investment property in Fitzroy.

Conveniently the Australian taxpayer is assisting Mr. Sukkar with the mortgage on the possibly negatively geared Canberra property by supplying him with $273.00 for every night he stays in his own residence while parliament is sitting – an est. $11,466 for the 2017 calendar year alone.

Even at a stretch, married to a professionally qualified wife with a business partnership in a multinational firm, Michael Sukkar’s economic progress though life is hardly typical of a couple seeking to buy their first home.

However, typically of a member of the Liberal Party he assumes almost everyone can be fortunate enough to have small business owners as parents, a good education and a well-paying job before securing a parliamentary seat with an excellent superannuation plan.

According to They Vote For You during his almost three and a half years in the Australian Parliament Michael Sukkar has voted for:


And voted against:


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The basic relationship between wealth, power, economic growth - globally and in Australia


It is no secret that the world is an unequal place when it comes to the distribution of wealth and the free exercise of political power.


This month Oxfam International released its Oxfam Briefing Paper January 2017, AN ECONOMY FOR THE 99%: It‟s time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few.
This paper pointed out that new estimates show that just eight men own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.
That’s eight men in a global population of over 7 billion people.
The briefing paper went on to say:
By any measure, we are living in the age of the super-rich, a second "gilded age" in which a glittering surface masks social problems and corruption. Oxfam's analysis of the super-rich includes all those individuals with a net worth of at least $1bn. The 1,810 dollar billionaires on the 2016 Forbes list, 89% of whom are men, own $6.5 trillion – as much wealth as the bottom 70% of humanity. While some billionaires owe their fortunes predominantly to hard work and talent, Oxfam's analysis of this group finds that one-third of the world’s billionaire wealth is derived from inherited wealth, while 43% can be linked to cronyism.

On 16 January 2017 BizNews reported that:

The world’s 8 richest people are, in order of net worth:
1.    Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 billion)
2.    Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 billion)
3.    Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion)
4.    Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 billion)
5.    Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 billion)
6.    Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 billion)
7.    Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle  (net worth $43.6 billion)

8.    Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 billion)
Oxfam’s calculations are based on global wealth distribution data provided by the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Data book 2016.
The wealth of the world’s richest people was calculated using Forbes’ billionaires list last published in March 2016.
According to the Credit Suisse Research Institute in November 2016:

For financial wealth at least, direct estimates for the first quarter of 2016 were available for 27 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries account for 76% of global wealth in 2016.
Australia’s percentage share of global wealth was 2.5% in First quarter 2016, with 1.06 million individuals in a population of almost 23 million holding most of that wealth.
The wealth spread in Australia last year was calculated as:
§  20 individuals holding over US$1 billion each
§  39 individuals holding US$500 million-1 billion each
§  685 individuals holding US$100-500 million each
§  1,476 individuals holding US$50-100 million each
§  25,924 individuals holding US$10-50 million each
§  55,812 individuals holding US$5-10 million each
§  976,193 individuals holding US$1-5 million each
In Australia household gross wealth was estimated to be composed of 60.6% non-financial wealth and 39.4% financial wealth.
Forbes Media listed Australia's top eight richest people in 2016 as:

Blair Parry-Oakden - heiress to Cox Enterprises fortune ($8.8 billion)
Gina Rinehart - mining magnate ($8.5 billion)
Harry Triguboff - property developer ($6.9 billion)
Frank Lowy - co-founder Westfield Group ($5 billion)
Anthony Pratt - CEO Pratt Industries & global chair Visy Industries ($3.6 billion)
James Packer - media mogul ($3.5 billion)
John Gandel - property developer ($3.2 billion)
Lindsay Fox - trucking magnate ($2.8 billion)

On 20 August 2015 The Washington Post reported a new study (based on Does Wealth Inequality Matter for Growth? The Effect of Billionaire Wealth, Income Distribution, and Poverty, IZA DP No. 7733 November 2013 and later reworked as Billionaires and Growth by Sutirtha Bagchi and Jan Svejnar).

This study reportedly found that 65% of all billionaire wealth in Australia is based on political connections rather than on business innovation and, In sum, wealth inequality that comes from political connections is responsible for nearly all the negative effect on economic growth that we had observed from wealth inequality overall.

Or to put it another way, wealth amassed by certain billionaires world-wide, through the giving of political donations, public and private lobbying of politicians and/or the exchange of political favours, was responsible for nearly all declining economic growth this century

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: spot Amanda Vanstone's attempts at political deception in The Age newspaper


This was former Liberal Senator for South Australia and former minister in the Howard Government, Amanda Vanstone writing in The Age on 9 May 2016 in an article titled Turnbull or Shorten? The choice seems clear:


Let’s break that down a little.

Schooling

Yes, Malcolm Turnbull went to a public primary school at Vaucluse in Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs for about three years and, yes he went to Sydney Grammar School from the age of eight with the assistance of a scholarship for at least part of that period. He graduated from university during the years when undergraduate and post-graduate tertiary education was free of course fees in Australia. He was the child of divorced parents. All this is on the public record.

Bill Shorten went to a local Catholic primary school before attending Xavier College’s junior & senior schools in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne – his mother taught at Xavier and presumably there was some degree of discount on his school fees. So yes, he also had a private education in affluent suburbs. He graduated from university during the years when tertiary education was free of course fees and undertook a post-graduate degree during a period when course fees were re-instituted. His parents divorced when he was about 20 years of age. All of which is also on the public record.

Wealth

Malcolm Turnbull inherited assets worth an est. $2 million from his hotel-broker father before he turned 29 years of age according to one of his biographers Paddy Manning and, he and his wife independently and jointly went on to garner considerably greater wealth which was last estimated to be in the vicinity of $200 million. His last Statement of Registrable Interests lists a veritable slew of financial investments and an expensive property portfolio shared between he and his wife. It is not known if he inherited any money from his mother.

It is not known to the writer if Bill Shorten inherited any money to speak of from his dry-dock manager father or his mother, however his last Statement of Registrable Interests lists very little in assets held by either he or his wife beyond their mortgaged family home.

What essentially separates these two men are the differences in their personal and political philosophies and the wide gap between their different levels of personal wealth.

Although this is something Amanda Vanstone is trying hard to distort in this federal election campaign and something The Age appears to be so indifferent to that its editor is not reigning in her excesses.