Archive for September, 2019

New Reserve Bank research says election wins make us spend up on cars

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Former treasurer Joe Hockey tipped big spending by celebration Coalition supporters back in 2013. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBefore the election that swept Tony Abbott to power in 2013, his incoming treasurer, Joe Hockey, forecast an explosion of spending as consumers opened up their wallets in celebration of a Coalition win.

As unlikely as it sounded, that’s exactly what happened for some voters, even though the official figures didn’t show it at the time.

The Reserve Bank has gone back and examined spending by postcode and used it to calculate what happened to spending by the supporters of each side of politics.

In the years after the 2013 election, Coalition supporters bought far more cars than did Labor supporters. Yet in the years after Labor took office in 2007, it was Labor voters that spent big on cars, an effect economists Christian Gillitzer and Nalini Prasad describe as far from trivial.

“Going from a hypothetical postcode with only Liberal/National voters to another postcode with only Labor voters is estimated to have increased per capita motor vehicle purchases by around 30 per cent four years after the 2007 election,” they say in a research discussion paper released on Monday.

The purpose of the study was to try to find out whether the answers to questions in consumer confidence surveys reflect actual buying intentions. Those surveys invariably show that after each change of government, supporters of the party that won suddenly become more rather than less confident than supporters of the other side. If the surveys reflected actual buying intentions their purchases would shoot up relative to those of the other side, even though overall purchases hadn’t changed.

That is what the study found: “evidence that self-reported spending intentions are indicative of actual consumption behaviour”. And it has told us something else: we take politics seriously enough to vote with our wallets.

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Greens and One Nation make strange bedfellows in push for Parliament to approve war deployments

Friday, September 20th, 2019

“We need to make sure that the Parliament, representing the people, have that say”: One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts Photo: Andrew Meares Protests against the Iraq war at Parliament House in Canberra in December 2002. Photo: Pat Scala

One Nation has joined the Greens in calling for reforms that would force governments to seek parliamentary approval to commit Australian troops to war.

Currently the law gives the government the power to send troops into conflict, but the issue of parliamentary approval has been raised this week by Victorian campaigner Michael Smith, who has walked from his home town of Chewton to Canberra carrying proposed legislation that would require the green light from the House of Representatives and the Senate.

He was backed by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts on Monday, who said “the voice of the people is ignored”.

“We need to do this before any commitment of troops overseas or any forces overseas. We need to make sure that the Parliament, representing the people, have that say. Not a couple of people,” Senator Roberts said in video posted to YouTube.

Following Britain’s Chilcot inquiry into the country’s involvement in the Iraq war, the Greens renewed their push for parliamentary approval of war.

“Our own decision-makers must be held to account for their involvement in the conflict, and our parliament given the power to decide when we go to war,” Greens foreign affairs spokesman Scott Ludlam said in July.

Britain has developed a convention of seeking authorisation from parliament before engaging in conflict.

Mr Smith’s proposed legislation – drafted by Canadian lawyer Robert Amsterdam – would compel the prime minister and cabinet to present a report to members of parliament, outlining the justifications and the size of the commitment.

Neither the Australian constitution, nor defence legislation, currently require the executive to seek approval from parliament to commit Australian troops to conflict abroad. In practice, the national security committee of cabinet, made up of the prime minister, foreign and defence ministers and several others, generally makes a preliminary decision which is then put to cabinet.

The question of parliamentary approval has been hotly debated however, particularly in the wake of the controversial 2003 invasion of Iraq based on faulty intelligence. Former Army chief Peter Leahy has long called for parliamentary debate and approval on sending Australian troops to fight in wars.

Defence scholar and former Army officer James Brown is also a prominent advocate for greater parliamentary involvement in decisions about going to war.

However both have argued that the executive should make a preliminary decision with parliament then reviewing the deployment within strictly set timelines.

In the United States for instance, the War Powers Resolution forces the president to inform Congress within 48 hours of committing forces to military action and cannot continue the action for longer than 60 days without congressional approval.

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Ice addict was ‘the walking dead’ when she stabbed boy in Coogee: court

Friday, September 20th, 2019

“I was the walking dead.”

That is how a young woman described feeling the afternoon she chased and stabbed a boy in a Coogee park, while she was drunk and high on ice.

Kyissa Bell, 21, told the Downing Centre District Court on Monday that she used “half an eightball” of ice every day, which cost up to $3000.

The court heard that  Bell injected ice in the toilets at the eastern suburbs park on the afternoon of October 9, 2015.

The boy, whom Bell did not know, was held up against a tree, and she used a flick knife to stab him in the back, missing his spine by two centimetres.

Asked whether she went to the park armed with the knife, she said: “I don’t remember that at all.

“I’d been awake for three to four weeks. I was the walking dead.”

She was on bail for another violent offence at the time of the stabbing, and has been in custody for more than a year.

Bell has pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless wounding in company.

“Having a life of drugs is jail. It’s woken me up. It’s terrible that it had to come to this stage to wake me up,” she said.

“It makes me sick.”

Bell struggled to speak through her tears as Judge Chris Hoy questioned her firmly about the stabbing, and how she planned to change her life.

“I was lost,” she said, crying.

Judge Hoy asked: “How would you feel if [your relatives] got attacked by someone iced up in a park on an afternoon, having a good time with kids? How would you feel?”

“I can’t explain that feeling,” Bell said.

“Does it make you angry?”


Bell said she was “very, very sorry”.

“I’ll do anything … you’ll never see me again.”

Judge Hoy told her: “That’s not for me, it’s for you. You and the community – the white community and the Indigenous community.”

The hearing continues. ​

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From birdseed loaf to pulled pork rort, site swaps tips on the cheap, cheap, cheap

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Bargain hunter Tom Nguyen with some of the things he’s bought on the cheap. Photo: Steven Siewert Tom Nguyen says he fed his family take-out for a week using a Delivery Hero discount code. Photo: Steven Siewert

Can you save money by grinding down birdseed into flour, and then making bread with it?

Does pulled pork have less pork in it than … non-pulled pork? Does that make it a scam?

How do you convince your significant other that it’s still a romantic dinner – even though you’re paying in coupons?

These are the questions that obsess Australia’s leading bargain hunters, the membership of OzBargain.

For 10 years, the site has been drawing the value-conscious together to share deals and money-saving tips.

“People think on OzBargain you ought to buy first and think about what it’s for later – just because it’s cheap,” founder Scott Yang tells Fairfax from his home office.

Mr Yang started the site as a personal blog a decade ago, and has watched it grow into a sprawling community.

It’s now the seventh-biggest shopping-related website in the country and the fastest growing, according to Roy Morgan research.

The site’s key function is a rolling list of deals submitted by members. About 100 are submitted each day, with members voting on the best.

Top deals recently have included cheap phones, clothing, headphones, TVs and frozen turkey breasts.

But the real action is in the site’s sprawling forums. This is where the most devoted deal-chasers lurk.

Like the person who posted about grinding birdseed into flour (for the record: birdseed is generally marked as “not for human consumption” and is more expensive than flour, which is 75 cents a kilogram at the supermarket).

Or like Winston Chui​. He went to buy a mirror at Masters’ closing-down sale.

After finding the best deal, he hurried home – where he bought Masters gift cards online at a 5 per cent discount, and then used them to buy the mirror. Total savings: 23.5 per cent.

“It’s a bit trivial, but it’s fun! It’s the thrill of getting something unexpectedly cheap,” he says.

When OzBargain posted about a 75 per cent off moving sale at Target, Mr Chui was quickly on the scene.

“Now in my wardrobe probably about 70 per cent of the clothes I own are from Target. And I have enough button-up collared shirts that I could probably wear a different one each day for three weeks.”

OzBargain “changed my lifestyle”, says another use, Tom Nguyen, before adding, “the wife hates it”.

“She hates the site because she likes to pay full price. She’s accepted it now. She goes OK, you’re going to read about it online, and then buy it – three days later.”

Mr Nguyen says he bought many of the possessions in his house using deals posted on OzBargain, including his TV and fridge. He got his home loan the same way.

He fed his family take-out for a week using a Delivery Hero discount code.

What’s the weirdest thing he’s seen on the site?

“Ooh, the weirdest things – are we allowed to talk about forum posts? The pulled pork is a scam post – because they give you less pork for the money,” he says, laughing. Ten years of OzBargain deals – the best of the bestSave money on a McDonalds’ McFlurry by ordering the ice cream and topping as separate menu items, then mixing them yourselfA price error on a fake-camera-lens-mug cost Kogan $30,000 after OzBargain members noticed it$5 of free credit from PayPal​A $40 gift card from Rebel Sport if you pay $1 to sign up to a newspaper subscription (the subscription can then be cancelled)A $2 hamburger meal deal from Hungry Jack’s (“I won’t cook in the next month”, replied one forum member)A $9 printer, thanks to a pricing error (although the company will still get you on the ink prices)

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Wallabies will be just as motivated against England without grand slam on the table: Michael Hooper

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Seeking vengeance: Michael Hooper is very excited for a chance to beat England on their home soil after the June whitewash in Australia. Photo: Dan MullanLondon: Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper says Australia will play with the same enthusiasm as if a grand slam was still on the line when they seek revenge against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

A 27-24 loss in Dublin ended Australia’s hopes of a setting up a grand slam-decider at the home of English rugby but the Test is the furthest thing from a dead rubber given what occurred in June.

Last month at the John Eales Medal in Sydney, Hooper, with a smile on his face, said he already knew the date of the England match – December 3.

For Hooper, a three-nil June series whitewash is vivid in the memory and he says there is more than enough to play for despite what happened against the Irish.

“We’ll take this game just as hard as we would’ve had there been a grand slam on the line,” Hooper said. “Every Test match is massive for us. We want to play the best we possibly can in this jersey and do better than we did [on Saturday].

“Every Test is hugely important, especially such a fun one to play in and such a big occasion to play in. It’d be really nice, for us as a group, to have a really good performance.

“We’re a completely different side [to June]. [There are] 13 new caps from the start of this year. Finishing on a high is going to be huge for us. It’s like coming full circle from playing them at the start of the year to seeing where we are now. We’re excited to put our best men up against them.”

Coach Michael Cheika has drilled the phrase “resetting to zero” into players all tour.

Such a mantra has prevented any player speculating about what it would be like to complete the grand slam but now the dream is over, thanks to a remarkably disciplined display from the Irish, the disappointment from those involved has bubbled to the surface.

“It [a grand slam] was a goal of ours,” Hooper said. “It was a goal to work week-to-week, however, it would’ve been really nice to claim that title at the end. So that’s gone, but we have to review the game first and see where we could’ve done a lot better.

“They got out really hard which put us under the pump straight away. We felt like at half-time we hadn’t had any opportunity to attack, which was probably the case. I thought the guys came back really well but to get pipped like that at the end was really tough to take.”

Australia conceded 13 penalties at Aviva Stadium and while Cheika believes that was down to inconsistent refereeing more than anything else, such a disparity in discipline cannot be repeated against England.

“It’s never a plan of ours to go into a game and be pinged that much,” Hooper said. “It’s annoying we come out of the game with stats like that and it’s disappointing because that’s not how we go into the game playing.”

If the Wallabies had completed the grand slam it would have ended their year on an extreme high, juxtaposed to some equally bad lows, notably against the All Blacks.

Australia cannot finish 2016 with more wins than losses but victory in the final game of the year would at least give them the potential to help their image back home.

“I’ve been really proud of how we’ve taken to different teams this year,” Hooper said. “We’ve had those ups and downs and consistency has been lacking, but what’s been the wrap up of the year is that when we do our stuff really well we can beat any team in the world. It’s just about doing it more often and sticking to that sort of stuff.”

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