Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Why, oh why, has no one called the victory of Evo Morales a revolution, despite it sharing some of the characteristics of the "coloured revolutions" in post-Soviet countries? Roses, oranges... and coca

When I was young (yup, this is mostly a Grumpy Old Men column), no one cared about superannuation reforms. Today small superannuation funds want more reform of the Australian superannuation industry. Virgin Money says that large funds are making it difficult for members to exercise their right to change funds. It claims that members are being misinformed and the process of change is being made difficult. Industry Fund Services is critical of some eligible rollover funds. A survey shows that most of these funds make little return after fees. Both funds have called for more changes to super legislation Virgin Money CEO, Rohan Gamble and others, believe that many consumers have been misinformed about changeover processes by groups such as Promina, Asteron, AMP, Colonial First State, Recruitment Super and Rest Super. Watchdog readies probe on super choice dirty tricks You bullies say funds - ASIC to break super chain

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Health ties: Australia and New Zealand Health Policy
Developments in Australian general practice 2000-2002: what did these contribute to a well functioning and comprehensive Primary Health Care System?

In recent years, national and state/territory governments have undertaken an increasing number of initiatives to improve links between general practice and the rest of the primary health care sector. This paper reviews how far these initiatives have contributed to a well functioning and comprehensive primary health care system during the period 2000–02

Primary Health Care System [Jeff McMullen, chair of the Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth which is involved in improving educational and health outcomes, explains how literacy can mean life in remote Aboriginal communities When literacy can mean life ; Australian local democracy: past to present ; The personal is political. What is it that makes life livable? And why should life be bearable in some nations but not in others? Unlike Sigmund Freud, I do not think mankind suffers from a universal death wish, any more than it benefits from a universal instinct for self-preservation. Some people have a death wish, and others don't. The devil's sourdough and the decline of nations]
• · An interview with George Soros on the global movement for an ‘open society’. Soros on opening up closed societies ; From Parliament to sporting fields, the ethic of "whatever it takes" rules Packer, ANI and the ethics of corporate secrecy ; Only a meaner nation could turn Kerry into a saint ; An investigation into the private and public finances of Rick Santorum Might want to reconsider becoming the ethics czar
• · · Middle-class snout in Treasurer's trough - Herald Sun (Melbourne), 21/02/2006, John Beveridge - Peter Costello must love this time of year. Every man and his dog comes up with sensationally unsustainable ideas about how the budget surplus should be spent He's in a win-win situation; Spy agencies and police across Australia may soon be given powers, for the first time, to monitor the phone calls, email and text messages of people not suspected of any crime. The power to spy on terrorism and serious crime suspects already exists Big Brother says hello ; Heads roll in Machiavellian mystery
• · · · Is there any smart tax or treasury officer who is not sallary sacrificed or negatively geared? I seriously doubt it ;-) By Peter Cerexhe. Smartinvestor, 01/03/2006, If you are well read about the tricks of running a property investment or have attended any of those become a millionaire through property' seminars, you may have picked up on the strategy of seeking a cut in the tax taken out of your wages by your employer. The idea is that since you are going to get a large tax refund or tax credit at the end of the year (because you're bleeding through your negative gearing), the Australian Taxation Office may as well let you get the tax benefit week by week instead Tax refund: now or later ; Does the High Court disagree more often in constitutional cases? ; Abolishing income tax returns could save the economy $3 billion in lost productivity and give most people the equivalent of an extra public holiday a year. Economist urges scrapping of annual income tax returns
• · · · · Bill Clinton: Now everyone can make a difference Power to the people; Police Cameras in Your Home
• · · · · · Receiving almost no corporate media coverage, a Senate committee recommended on January 31 the passage of a bill that will make it easier for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to police and shoot civilians. The powers go well beyond dealing with a terrorist threat and in important respects put the military above state criminal laws New shoot to kill powers: Da Capital Iron Curtain in the making? ; From depression to freedom

River of Reforms

Taxing Times Ahead
Tax system comes under microscope: We know that governments are traditionally loath to call investigations unless they already know the outcome usually goes without saying. Yesterday, however, Peter Costello was happily boasting about the likely result of his surprise, quickfire inquiry into Australia's international tax competitiveness. It is hard to see how a one-month inquiry comparing our tax system with overseas can find answers to sustain this nation's future. After Treasurer Peter Costello's announcement yesterday, NSW politicians quickly zeroed in on GST revenue. NSW government calls for GST overhaul ; Costello gets little GST sympathy; We begin with Adam Smith's contention..that peace, low taxes, and good government will lead a nation to prosperity. Timmer updates this view by analyzing the role that investments in education, technology and trade have made in the rapid progress of countries like South Korea, Singapore, and Brunei. He concludes that the "miracle" of getting rich lies in creating a durable set of institutions - some public, some private - that encourage the "Smithian conditions" as well as economic openness for long periods of time. Unfinished tax symphony
• · · Businessman Dick Warburton and business lobbyist Peter Hendy will lead a comprehensive study of all taxes in Australia as a springboard for major reforms. Treasurer Peter Costello said yesterday the study would also examine overseas tax systems to find ways to lower the burden on average Australians. An inquiry into Australia's tax system will help Treasurer Peter Costello decide on a new wave of tax reforms in time for this year's federal budget. Mr Costello said the inquiry, which is expected to report by April 3, would focus on how Australia's tax system compared with other developed countries. The findings of a lightning inquiry set up by Peter Costello to settle the argument about whether Australians are too highly taxed will drive instant tax relief in the May budget, almost certainly offering cuts to highincome earners. The Treasurer appointed prominent businessmen Dick Warburton and Peter Hendy yesterday to report within five weeks on how Australia's income, business, superannuation, property, indirect and transaction taxes compare with international and regional competitors. By Peter Costello's reckoning, Australia's personal tax system ranks only so-so by international standards. It sits on the middle of the ladder. After 10 years in government yesterday's announcement of an inquiry to benchmark the Australian tax system against those of comparable countries is long overdue. Given the parameters and the time frame for reporting it will probably find that, taking into account all levels of tax, Australians are not overtaxed. Shape of things to come: I’m here to change politics, not to have politics change me ; Imrich One Agenda, Many Voice: Being Poor is Expensive
• · · · Judging by the submissions to the taskforce set up last year to identify practical options for reducing the compliance burden on business from commonwealth government regulation, there is obviously some heavy and impractical baggage weighing on a range of industries and individuals. The regulation taskforce set up by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer last October has had just over three months to consider 151 submissions from concerned parties, including exclusive private schools, mortgage providers, small business and large financial institutions. Red tape in need of a quick snip ; Tax – who's telling the truth?
• · · · · Federal Treasurer Peter Costello has revealed he was "scarred for life by the GST experience", admitting the introduction of the tax was flawed and too generous to the states. As he prepares to celebrate the Howard government's 10th year in office, Mr Costello has revealed he believes the intended transfer of responsibility to the states in return for $35 billion in GST funds was a "failure". Costello's GST nightmare: Respect goes further than love in politics ; State welcomes GST shakeup ; Bold as brass NSW just wants a fairer slice of the pie
• · · · · · The NSW Parliament, which resumes tomorrow, will celebrate 150 years in May. Celebrations will be low-key, but is there much to celebrate? Parliament matures, not so its members; Govt to review Commonwealth penalties