Tuesday, November 21, 2006

From 1997 until 2005 Graham was the patron of the Australasian Tax Teachers Association. Cynthia Coleman, who invited him to be patron is reported as having said:

“He came to every conference, he gave a fabulous technical talk, and he always said ‘put me up in the cheapest accommodation so I can meet the most people’ - he made himself available to everybody.”

Without any doubt, nearly everyone who heard Justice Hill speak at conferences on issues such as public private infrastructures became interested in tax issues. I first met him in late 1990s at one of the NSW Public Accounts Committee seminars and my interest in taxation was never the same ;-)
His greatest contribution to revenue law was in the area of practising, teaching and deciding revenue issues. Professor Patrick Gallagher had this to say of Graham as an academic:
' In that time, he had created an unannounced reputation as one of Australia's leading tax academics - albeit his academic work was always 'part-time' - in name at least. The quality of his teaching was exceptional and his writings and legal research (which have been fully catalogued recently by Colin Fong), in the form of papers, judgments and public addresses - not to mention the Stamp Duty service he wrote with Bill Cannon and Michael Aitken - were at the cutting edge of practical tax analysis .'

Sunday, November 19, 2006

WHEN it comes to freedom of speech we are in danger of losing our sense of perspective, as well as our sense of humour. The latest proposal from Attorney-General Philip Ruddock is to ban books that praise terrorism and to censor TV shows like Big Brother. The status quo in Australia is shifting, writes George Williams
THE most depressing aspect of yesterday's landmark High Court decision on the Freedom of Information Act is the virtual how-to guide it includes for ministers of the Crown who want to keep documents secret. In killing off Michael McKinnon's four-year fight to get hold of documents about abuses of the first-home owners' scheme and the government tax revenue from bracket creep, the court backed four of Peter Costello's seven arguments stating their release was not in the public interest. Scrutinising our political masters just got harder

Catch a Fire of Freedom Noyce of Loud Note
conTROVERSY is the lifeblood of a university that is doing its duty. It has long been thus and it is today. Modern societies expect contemporary universities to be working at the frontiers of knowledge, discovering new insights that advance understanding and improve wellbeing. Discovery, whether in the biosciences or nuclear physics or other fields, raises questions that challenge orthodoxy within the disciplines and also in the wider community. Complex matters give rise to competing views and values. Restricting academic freedom

THE John Howard–Peter Costello leadership rivalry is moving towards a denouement of sorts. While the outcome is unpredictable, it is worth posing a question that goes beyond the standard political calculations over which man will ultimately prevail. Is there a point when a government’s longevity ceases to be compatible with the best democratic interests of the nation and, if so, are we approaching that time with the Coalition government, no matter whether led by Howard or Costello?

The longer a government remains in power, the less it is willing to be accountable ; Why property investors love the tax man
• · Nicholas Gruen Improving capital taxation in Australia; Roy Davies, a librarian at University of Exeter, United Kingdom, has put together an impressive collection of links relating to financial scandals Scandals of Real Note ; Trust in business is falling, industry chief warns
• · · Legislative anarchy ; Court ruling says the days of tax exiles are numbered
• · · · Before the moratorium on income trusts was announced recently, they were costing Canada's treasury about $500 million a year, on target to reach $800 million or more - much more. No corresponding figure is available for the taxes Canadian firms and wealthy individuals are not paying Ottawa by parking their money in offshore tax havens. But the numbers are big, billions big. Overseas havens favour the wealthy ; Billionaire Roman Abramovich owns a large amount of property in London Londoners complain that it is expensive, dirty and over-crowded - but not everybody agrees. The capital, which is home to 7.4 million people, is also home to 23 of the world's richest people. With this tally, London was named yesterday as the 'unchallenged magnet' for the world's billionaires. No other city holds such a captivating power over people who have enough money to live in a palace anywhere that they choose. Research shows London is now home to the world's super rich

Monday, November 13, 2006

Internet stocks stage comeback. By Emma Connors, 18/11/2006, The Australian Financial Review, Page 38. Australia's internet and new media companies are attracting strong interest from investors. Their prospects are increasing daily as the number of broadband connections in the nation exceeds 3.5 million. Outstanding performers include online accommodation booking service Wotif.com, job site Seek.com.au and domain-name registry Melbourne IT. Highly regarded companies planning to list soon include Hitwise and RP Data. The online advertising market in Australia is worth $A1bn and growing rapidly. However there are no guarantees - iiNet shares have declined 64 per cent in the year to November 2006. It's a sign of good IT leadership when a CIO takes a different path from his competitors. The Road Less Traveled

Brave Blogging World SEARCHER'S VOICE Hard Times
No one can deny that these are difficult times for traditional publishers and information services.

Competing with voluminous, universally available search services pouring data upon a waiting world at no visible cost — in other words, living in the “Google Age” — leaves services which have to charge to survive struggling. At the same time, trying to charge for content with an end-user market that, in large part, never experienced online before the Web puts the pressure on the content provider to come up with product that consistently and noticeably beats the freebie content every time. That’s a tall, tall order. To satisfy it fully, traditional content providers would probably have to restructure their whole systems, incurring significant, if not massive, cost burdens, and all at a time when their current market hold is decreasing, probably along with their ability to raise capital. In the grip of this challenge and, possibly, clinging to the subconscious, psychological support of the self-inflated ego, many traditionals seem more inclined to simply declare anything they produce, anything bearing their brand, as ipso facto top quality and worth whatever they charge. And, following the internal logic of this semidelusional position, they choose to prove it to those amazingly unobservant end users, unaware of the glory before them, by the most logical approach, to wit, denying them the content until they can learn to show it a proper respect.

When carried to extremes, the whole process can begin to look like a curriculum designed for Lemmings U. In an era when the one universal, first-and-foremost complaint of all information consumers is the issue of overload, an era when people reject the idea of a vacation lasting longer than 7 days because of nightmare visions of digging out from under an avalanche of e-mail messages, an era when not even need or greed can drive people to search one more search engine or even go further than two (three max) pages into Google search results — in this era of answers, answers everywhere drowning questions and questioners, someone wants to hide their data and wait until searchers clamber over hill and dale until they find it. Puh-leez!

And it gets worse. Some producers waver between a pro-Web and anti-Web strategy and come up with a composite business strategy. I’m looking for an analogy here. Zoological ones come to mind. How about “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”? No, that won’t work. After all, despite a somewhat nasty disposition and a distinctly uncomfortable riding surface, a camel can survive in hard places. A camel works. What about a mule? But a mule works too. In fact, it is stronger than the horse, its maternal parent, but no matter how well the hybrid works out, a mule is sterile. It can’t increase its numbers on its own. Sooner or later you’re back working with jackasses.

One classic example of a failure-bound composite business strategy — the me-first one — offers a whole range of mistakes. It wrongly identifies the true competition, attacks allies, diminishes both product quality and brand awareness, and sticks it to end users — all in one fell swoop. For example, this month the Financial Times (FT) will — once again — alter its information flow to its outside carriers. Factiva and LexisNexis, which once operated under a 4-hour embargo delay for Financial Times content — a delay expanded to 12 hours late last year — have to suffer a 24-hour delay.

FT apparently hopes that despondent Factiva and LexisNexis users will migrate to its site, FT.com, where you can get some current content for free and paying can get you more. For example, you can access an FT archive — a rolling 5 years — plus other services for $119 per year or $9.92 a month, while $300 per year or $25 a month will buy all that plus access to 500 World Press Monitor and Archive sources and more. Going to FT’s partner in digitization, ProQuest, may even get you a rolling 10-year FT archive.

Whoopee! Meanwhile, Factiva and LexisNexis offer FT archives reaching back almost a quarter-century (26 for Factiva, 24 for LexisNexis) with full-text collections of other sources numbering over 8,000 (Factiva Publications Library) and 34,000 in LexisNexis. Both Factiva and LexisNexis are busy finding new current business and financial sources to supplement their collections — now more than ever.

So what happens to the user? Both Factiva and LexisNexis have a policy of merging masses of sources into large groupings. It’s highly unlikely that most users will even notice the absence of the most-current FT information. Many times that won’t matter, as some other source will have supplied sufficient information. Sometimes it will matter, because FT will have met time-related user needs before other sources or because FT will have stronger, more informed and informative coverage. Most likely users simply won’t notice. They will think that they have searched FT because they see older FT references in the results. Over time, the breaking-news enthusiasts will simply come to think that FT isn’t a reliable source for the latest information, even in its own areas of focus. (For those not in the business field who don’t know the Financial Times, it amounts to the U.K. equivalent of TheWall Street Journal.)

Whether the marketing strategy works or not, whether the number of subscribers increases on FT.com, the devisers of this strategy have apparently ignored one key factor — a factor, by the way, that the real enemies of all traditionals (Google et al.) hardly ever forget — namely, the interests of the user. This kind of strategy decreases the quality of the content, depriving it of the benefit of full currency. People who use the established outlets for FT will simply not be getting the best FT has to offer, and, depending on which service they are using and which pricing plan, they may not even be getting their money’s worth. Imagine someone having to go back into LexisNexis to check FT a day later under a price-per-search-statement package. But, in any case, it means searchers have to waste their time doing second searches, either a day later on services they know or clicking over to another Web site (FT.com).

Maybe the benefit of gathering more registered users and opening up more advertising revenue opportunities makes the business strategy appealing to FT managers, as it has to other traditional content providers. But I don’t believe that any strategy that disregards the full interests of customers can truly serve the long-term interests of vendors.

Winners think like winners. And, as one big winner is so fond of repeating, “First, do no evil.” ; Calling all moguls: a new haven for mega rich
• · This rocks: Search Engines ; Packer goes public on his desire to go private
• · · With Members back home and no floor and committee activity in October, it can be challenging to keep congressional Web sites fresh and interesting. But election years are exactly when constituents are looking for information from you, so your site needs to remain relevant to their needs The October Challenge: Stagnant Web Sites ; The government is likely to introduce its media reform legislation into parliament this week, but what's not in the Bills might be as important as what is, writes Jock Given Should we rely on the regulators?
• · · · Newspaper magnate Lord Northcliffe famously said 'news is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising'. And when it comes to government in Australia a culture of suppression of information is endemic among politicians and civil servants. - Strike a blow for media and cultural diversity German Labour Rebecca Kaiser and Cuban Liberal Luis m Garcia Waging a cultural revolutionary war

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just too busy being busy at Bay? It's not often that I break into song, probably because whenever I do, bad things seem to happen. Birds fall from the sky; normally gentle domestic animals suddenly turn rabid and terrorize peaceful suburban neighborhoods; fistfights break out amongst flower-bearing Hare Krishnas at Jervis Bay… Still how nice to anticipate the moment of song, peace and tranquility ;-)

As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back...
Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.
- Anonymous Media Dragons

Children of Men Catch a Word
Imagine building a friendship with someone you thought you could trust - only to have that person deceive you! This happened to two famous women in the 1980s.
Is it possible for humans to discover the key to happiness through a bigger-than-life, bad-boy dog? Just ask the Grogans.

-I Know This Much is True never grapples with anything less than life's biggest questions....a modern-day Dostoyevsky with a pop sensibility. In his view, it's not just the present that's the pits...it's also the ghosts of dysfunctional family members and your non-relationship with a mocking, sadistic God, whom you still turn to in times of trouble -- which is all the time. [Oprah Winfrey's benediction]

Never underestimate the power of understatement. Many people wonder why Jane Austen's "Emma" has lasted in our hearts so long, and why we linger over her love. Emma's true love is finally recognized at the end: Mr. Knightley. It begins with him declaring his love for her, as they stand alone in a garden. The air is thick with emotion. What does she reply? Austen says: "What did she say? Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does." We end up filling in the blank with our own emotion, and when we think about it months later, we don't remember the absence of words, but the emotion we felt.
Also, it is usually better to show the emotion than to try and put it into the character's words (show it through actions and reactions). In real life, this is often the case.

Writing about Wtiting ;
'To do our work, we all have to read a mass of papers. Nearly all of them are far too long. This wastes time, while energy has to be spent in looking for the essential points.
I ask my colleagues and their staff to see to it that their reports are shorter.
The aim should be reports which set out the main points in a series of short, crisp paragraphs.
If a report relies on detailed analysis of some complicated factors, or on statistics, these should be set out in an appendix.
Often the occasion is best met by submitting not a full-dress report, but an aide-memoire consisting of headings only, which can be expanded orally if needed.
Let us have an end of such phrases as these:
'It is also of importance to bear in mind the following considerations', or 'Consideration should be given to the possibility of carrying into effect'. Most of these woolly phrases are mere padding, which can be left out altogether, or replaced by a single word. Let us not shrink from using the short expressive phrase, even if it is conversational.

Reports drawn up on the lines I propose may first seem rough as compared with the flat surface of officialese jargon. But the saving in time will be great, while the discipline of setting out the real points concisely will prove an aid to clearer thinking.' Winston Churchill, 9 August 1940 'Brevity' - Memo to the War Cabinet
• · Entertainment and Poisone; ‘Community media is undoubtedly the way of the future’ –Rupert Murdoch (The Australian, 29 June 2006)
Think very carefully before you purchase a digital free-to-air television set or box. Depending on where you live, you might lose an entire channel. This may come as a surprise. It is unlikely that you will have read about it in the news or seen a warning sticker on a set-top-box. We were told that digital television would offer more television, not less. In fact, the underlying principle of digital conversion was that households who purchase digital receivers would still get to see programs shown on conventional analogue television. It was supposed to be ‘TV for all’, delivered free-to-air, whether through microchips or rabbit ears, right up until the analogue switch-off date. Why would any of us purchase a digital television set if we were going to get less television? Where is OurSpace on Digital Television? By: Ellie Rennie
• · · Online Opinion article: Australian literature on the nose? ; So here’s a question for you — Is it enough just to believe that governments should interfere less in both the economy and citizen’s personal lives, or does a person have to believe this for the right reasons? Is Andrew’s definition too narrow? Keating Musical: Liberal Light on the Hill ; Fearless and flexible: views of gen Y
• · · · Out of India, a daughter claims her inheritance; Some Writers Deserve to Starve: 31 Brutal Truths About the Publishing Industry

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Media Dragon blogs less, but it reads more. Gems like this caome from one and only David aka Barista: A community doesn’t recover its arts community quickly. Once it dissipates, you can’t just fire up a few kids with some guest lecturers and get it going again. It is an intergenerational ecology, a habit of affection between artist and audience. You can pump money into it, but it goes to imported talent, unrooted in the local world. Federal Square doing its hub stuff, inducing thousands to have fun on its slopey bits

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Bathtub Test

It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started.

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalised.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

> -
"No." said the Director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

How To Finance a Hollywood BlockbusterStart with a German tax shelter. Behind them dust billows up from trucks that crisscross a giant, uninhabited new town where dozens of ugly, high-rise blocks are hurriedly emerging. This, Spain's biggest single housing project, will soon be home to up to 40,000 people. Raiding Germany's coffers

Sample Of Nobember and Movember Things: Conquering 'Everests of Data' - Anyone can sue anyone at any time

• Tax evasion is like pornography, says Julie Segedin, tax manager at Beattie Rickman. “You may not be able to define it very easily, but you know when you see it.”
And just like pornography, it’s almost impossible to find people who will talk openly about using it. But the wealthy, who are under suspicion of doing their utmost to pay as little tax as they can, are not finding things as easy as they once did, tax experts say. Virtual world: tax man cometh ; Taxman muscles up in hunt for rich tax-dodgers • · > Hungary Commemorates Anniversary of 1956 Revolution Hungary remembers 1956 uprising; Another measure of how inequality has widened since Ronald Reagan was elected shows in the ratio of CEO pay to the average working person. It rose from 42 times in 1980 to 85 times in 1990 and 431 times in 2004. The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class; The next time you submit a Freedom of Information request to a NSW Government department and feel cheated when the pages come back all blacked out, try clicking on the NSW Crown Solicitor's website to better understand what's happened. Trust us, we're government
• · · Library Research ; Wired & Scary moments


1. Take into account that great love and great achievements
involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three R’s:
Respect for self,
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a
wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate
steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for
your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the
current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your
love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order
to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.