Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sport(s) Report(s) Template


Free for editorial use. 
Please select applicable cliché.

Well there's no doubt about it. It was a game of TWO HALVES / FOUR QUARTERS. You know, you've got to give full credit to THE OPPOSITION / THE TEAM, everyone gave 110% / THEIR ALL. We knew THEY'D COME OUT HARD / GIVE IT THEIR ALL so we just STUCK TO OUR GAME PLAN / CONCENTRATED ON PUTTING OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD.

BEING TRUTHFUL / TO BE HONEST / LOOK, IF I WERE TO BE TRUTHFUL, the whole game FELL APART / WAS WON, you know, in the basics and I TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY / PUT MY HAND UP / TAKE CREDIT / STAND UP AND BE COUNTED for the WIN / LOSS

You know, a couple of decisions probably went against US / THEM, but that's THE NATURE OF THE GAME / BULLSHIT. I mean, NO POINT CRYING OVER SPILT MILK / FAIR GO, MATE. The WIN / LOSS gives both sides something to work towards in ORIGIN 2 / NEXT ROUND / THE TRIBUNAL / MY NEXT COURT APPEARANCE

At the end of the day, EVERY GAME COUNTS / WE TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME / WE WILL ANALYSE THE BREAKDOWNS GOING FORWARD AND TRY TO IMPROVE ONE STEP AT A TIME BECAUSE THE SEASON'S NOT OVER 'TIL IT'S OVER you know?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Local Retailers Call on Government to Ban the Internet



<b><satire></b>

CANBERRA–In the wake of the 2015-16 federal budget, the local retailers are calling on the government to do more for local business by banning the Internet.

Gerry Harvey, chairman of Harvey Norman has called on the government to shut down the Internet for all uses, except for the transmission of retailers' catalogues in Netscape browsers.

"It's not fair that people can buy things without walking into a store and being accosted by sweaty, middle-aged salesmen selling last year's products at an inflated price," Mr. Harvey said.

Although yesterday's federal budget imposed the 10% GST on so-called "intangible" goods such as music, movie and software downloads, Mr. Harvey says this is not good enough, "Holy shit, my business is fucked."

Local retailers, including Mr. Harvey, have waged a campaign for the abolition of the Low Value Threshold, or the value of goods that can be imported into Australia tax free. Now with the government receptive to imposing the GST on all imported goods, Mr. Harvey has moved on to other policy areas of concern.

"Having to compete with innovative entrepreneurs in other countries is simply unfair. It's not a level playing field when our Netscape-compatible best viewed at 640x480 web zone has to compete with Amazon," Mr. Harvey said, "Shutting down the Internet will help local retailers close the gap and support local jobs."

Responding to fears limiting e-commerce could be viewed as protectionism in the global market, Mr. Harvey said: "I'm more than happy to use cheap, international labour to make our furniture. But having Australian customers cut out the middle-man is a step too far. It's about preserving local jobs," Mr. Harvey said. Apparently without irony.

More to follow...

<b></satire></b>

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

In an astonishing feat of fiscal dexterity in the midst of a budget emergency, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has found $450 million to battle "local jihadis". According to Fairfax reports, the new money brings the grand total committed to "deradicalisation" programmes to well over $1 billion.

Meanwhile, many federally-funded mental health services, such as Lifeline and Reachout, faced an uncertain future as their Commonwealth funding came within a whisker of expiring last month. It's a sad reflection on this government that it took until the last minute for the health minister to announce $300 million of funding. Even now it's not clear exactly where this money is going.

Nobody doubts spending cuts have to be made. But to find even more money for national security (after 15 years of obscene funding increases), when services that affect hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis have to beg for their continued funding, it is unforgivable. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Coalition Folds on GST Threshold


Australia's leading mediocrities, the nation's perennially un-innovative bricks and mortar retailers, have won favour from a government bereft of ideas and economic credibility.

According to Fairfax reports, the government will expand the 10% GST to so-called "intangibles" including games, software, music and movie downloads, as well as online subscriptions such as Netflix and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Post-budget, Frydenberg will push to apply the GST to low value parcels entering the country. At the moment, GST is only applied to parcels above $1000 in value. Retailers, led by neo-Luddite rent seekers such as Gerry Harvey, Solomon Lew and Russell Zimmerman of the Australian Retailers Association, have pushed for the low value threshold to be substantially reduced or eliminated, arguing it's a "loophole" that gives "unfair advantage" to overseas retailers, placing local jobs at risk.

Their hypocrisy is breath-taking. For decades, these large and lazy retailers have gouged consumers with massive margins and markups, safe in the knowledge that customers had nowhere else to go. Thankfully, the internet has allowed consumers to call local retailers out on their pricing practices, where identical products can be upwards of 100% more expensive for no justifiable reason. Now, with their scam business model under threat, retailers have turned to the government to do their dirty work, crying poor over "local jobs", when no such evidence is available.

Let's just say the low value threshold is lowered or removed (even though the Productivity Commission says it will cost more to recover the tax than revenue gained) then what? Retailers will be happy and content? Customers will come flooding back through the doors? Not likely.

The fact is these local retail is struggling because the world they operate in has irreversibly changed. Stuck in their ways, they have largely failed to embrace e-commerce*. Threshold or not, there is little that can be done to save these people from themselves.

Whether it's employee penalty rates, workplace "flexibility", high rents or "red tape", Australia's Captains of Retail Industry always have an opinion at the ready, usually seeking some form of government intervention to solve all of their problems. Post-GST, They will merely find another hobby horse to jump on, one that would perhaps be far more devastating to workers (penalty rates, I'm looking at you).

With a declining dollar making overseas transactions less attractive, the lowering of the threshold will likely be a non-event. In principle, I am not against paying tax on overseas purchases, although I do question why a goods and services tax should be levied upon goods and services that are not readily available in Australia. Also, shouldn't the government be targeting the tax-avoiding multinationals first before targeting consumers? Apparently not.

Speaking from personal experience and anecdotal evidence, I will continue to purchase from overseas for a variety of reasons:
  1. Price (yep, even with 10% GST, many items will still be cheaper)
  2. Range (as a photographer, B&H Photo Video > Ted's Cameras)
  3. Service (a quick email response is better than in-store intransigence)
  4. Speed (via courier from USA, quicker than local retailer orders + Australia Post)
The challenge will be whether Josh Freydenberg wants to make revenue collection efficient, or whether he intends to cripple the international freight system. Today, if an item is above the $1000 threshold, it is either held by Customs until the GST is paid (plus, naturally, a handling fee) or the item is delivered and the GST collected by the courier company. Neither of these is a particularly efficient manner of collection.

I hope, unlike their last budget, the government think this one through very carefully before implementing a system that doesn't work.

*There are notable exceptions to this. While Harvey, Lew, Zimmerman, Brookes et al have been cheering the loudest to "level the playing field" other large retailers have refrained. JB Hi-Fi, for instance, has hardly said a peep, prefering to improve their online and in-store offerings to cater to consumer demand. Australian online retail, while behind where the US and Europe are at, has a number of success stories.