Saturday salon 21/5

1. Protect your plastic money

If you haven’t heard about it you will. And if you think it won’t happen in Australia, you’re wrong.

Thieves can use RFID technology to empty your card. Seems they can steal your details with a cheap credit card reader, which they hold near you wallet or purse. It could be on public transport, or standing next to you in a supermarket.

Here’s 2014 article warning about it as a potential problem. Here’s a recent article that gives details of how it works.

I can tell you, someone in Sydney this week had their debit card emptied. Also my wife spoke to someone whose daughter lost $7000 that way.

Today, my wife bought a protective sleeve for a passport and three sleeves for cards from a travel bag shop, for just $12. Seems like a good investment. Any card with a chip needs protection, including a driver’s licence.

2. ABC Fact Check unit to close

ABC Fact Check was set up prior to the 2013 election after the Rudd government gave the ABC $60 million over three years for enhanced newsgathering services. Now that funding has been trimmed to approximately $41.4 million for the next three years.

Fact Check had originally employed 14 staff, but this had been cut to six with previous budget cuts. Now 30 positions across the Corporation will be affected, but Fact Check, which cannot be usefully be trimmed further, will disappear.

The SMH says it’s a disgrace. The Oz is, shall we say, unsupportive.

Crikey pointed out that none of the 400 findings over the years have been challenged. Fact Check has been quoted 50 times in parliament, more by the LNP than Labor.

Fact Check took a look at the Abbott government’s 2013 election promises and found 19 broken, 8 stalled, 21 in progress and 30 delivered.

The independent PoliFact Australia is gone leaving The Conversation.

3. Wage growth hits an 18-year low

Wages growth is now lower than any time in the last 18 years, when the ABS index started.

Workers’ pay rose just 0.4 per cent last quarter and 2.1 per cent over the past year. The public sector did better than the private, except in the ACT.

    Over the past 12 months, finance and insurance, education and training, and healthcare and social assistance had the best pay increases of 2.6 per cent.

    Rental, hiring and real estate services workers had the weakest pay rises of 1.3 per cent over the year to March 31.

For the first time ever the Reserve Bank is concerned about low wages growth.

From the SMH:

    Weak wage growth, even in countries with low unemployment, has become a feature of the developed world. Economists say the trend reflects an absence of inflationary pressures across the spectrum of input costs, led by energy and raw materials.

    In Australia, low wage growth has also been part of an economic transition, as high-paying jobs in mining infrastructure give way to less lucrative and more casual work in areas such as hospitality, real estate and house-building. Technology-driven competition in a range of sectors has also held down wages.

4. ScoMo’s budget gets a tick with a warning

Scott Morrison had his budget verified as theLNPs election promise in the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) process, but it brought a warning from Finance and Treasury, who once in three years get to tell us diractly what they think. They want to see more serious attention to bringing the budget back to balance, which, of course, can only be done by increasing taxes or cutting expenditure.

They seemed to indicate that the assumptions on which it was based were optimistic.

I think ScoMo went early so he would have the inconvenience of having to make changes if the price of iron ore changed, or something else in the budget assumptions. Also he can put pressure on Labor. I believe he has an unallocated $1.6 billion line for progressive campaign announcements.

Chris Bowen has said Labor won’t be rushed, but we’d get it earlier than the LNP did last time, which was two days before the election.

I think that Bowen is still working out how to spend the savings created by not giving a $48 billion company tax cut over 10 years. I’m betting that he will try to bring the budget back to surplus at least a year earlier than the other mob.

Stephen Long says that there’s $18 billion of unfunded revenue in ScoMo’s budget where legislation would be required. Therein lie the nasties that no half sensible senate is likely to pass. They are in the budget as “saves” but are unlikely to be realized short of the LNP controlling the senate.

5. Labor ends freeze on Medicare rebates

One of the uses to which Labor will put the cash bonanza is in Medicare, which is a central concern to voters.

Labor will end the freeze on Medicare payments to GPs, started as a temporary measure in 2012 by Labor and extended by Abbott/Turnbull to 2020. Labor’s policy would apply from 1 January 2017, at a cost of $2.4bn over the next four years, and $12.2bn over the decade.

I’ll put more about this in a separate post, hopefully tonight.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

4 thoughts on “Saturday salon 21/5”

  1. Fact Check helped improve democracy in Australia. It was one of the few glimmers of hope when so much of our democracy either had been destroyed or was under serious attack.

    Now it’s going.

    So too is the need for authority-figures to avoid tell bare-faced lies.

    So too is democracy – so why do we bother holding elections?

  2. Graham, the Oz took the low road with the cheap shot that of course any journalist needs to check their facts, completely missing the point.

    Everyone knows that with staff cuts journalists are working under greater pressure. I understand the norm with Fact Check was to have three people working for a week before they brought down a finding. It’s a subset of investigative journalism, which is becoming more rare.

    Fact Check provided greater accountability on politicians who are inclined to spin and mislead if not outright lie.

  3. Had an internet outage today. It was deemed unfixable, so they booked a technician to come tomorrow. I finally got to go out, and came back four hours later to find it had fixed itself!

    Then had to ring them and cancel the tech. Two and a half hours of my day down the crapper.

    And they simply can’t understand that I don’t have a smart phone, so no I can’t click on the link they send.

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