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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sir Edmund Barton’s ideas on Immigrants and being an Australian in 1907


'In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an Australian and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an Australian, and nothing but an Australian... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an Australian, but something else also, isn't an Australian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Australian flag.... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the Australian people.'

Edmund Barton was Australia's first Prime Minister, and the last one who had enough courage to speak the truth.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

bp - we're bringing oil to American shores


Click on the image to see how


The Hundred-Year War ?


They are fighting an enemy that has no tanks, no planes, and no ships - and they are losing!

So what's this war for?

1. It's enriching Afghan heroin processors and the Afghan ruling elite

2. It's enriching Haliburton and other military contractors

3. It's bankrupting the United States

4. It's shredding the lives and bodies of thousands of American and Allied soldiers.

This is a dishonorable war fought over massive amounts of cash. Here's just one example quoted from today's ABC News Bulletin:

Leaked documents from the Afghanistan war appear to confirm that Australian forces are backing a local war lord who has been extorting money from NATO convoys carrying supplies to Coalition forces.

Australian troops are working with Matiullah Khan, a powerful war lord in the southern Uruzgan province.

Matiullah, through his private militia, earns millions of dollars a year guarding NATO road convoys and he commands a militia of over 2,000 armed men.

According to Matiullah himself, he works closely with the Australian forces in Uruzgan.

"The Australians have changed their tactics, they were going on missions alone. The Australians did not know about the Afghan traditions. Now we work together," he said.

"For the last six to eight months I have given them my soldiers. Since then there hasn't been any problems in the whole province and nobody has been angry with the Australians."

But according to a report in the intelligence database leaked to the Wikileaks organisation, Matiullah's men were caught red-handed in an extortion attempt on the very road they were paid to protect in late November 2009.

A NATO fuel convoy reported it had been held up by a group of 100 insurgents armed with heavy machine guns.

They demanded payment of $3,000 for each truck to pass and eventually it became clear that they were not insurgents, but Matiullah's militia.

US forces sent two helicopters and an armoured convoy to negotiate, but Matiullah refused to budge, saying he needed the money to run his operation.

Six hours later, after many desperate calls to government officials in Kabul, he let the convoy through without payment.

The Australian Defence Force has refused to comment on any extortion attempts by Matiullah Khan, but said that he is an influential figure in the Uruzgan community and Australian troops engage with him on this basis.

It comes after a US government report released last month labelled Afghan security companies and private militias a "vast protection racket".

According to Dr Zalmai Zabuli, head of the Parliamentary Complaints Committee of Meshrano Jirga, the companies even resort to paying insurgents to attack the convoys, to make their services more valuable.

"In this case usually the leaders of the security company are paying the money for the Taliban or other local people to attack the convoys, to show the foreigners that if you don't pay for us, then there's a lot of problems that can be created," he said.

There are also concerns that security companies have spawned a whole new range of war lords, growing rich on the huge inflow of foreign cash.

Wardak Governor Muhammad Haleem Fedayee says the security companies are making the country far more dangerous.

"The complaints are there about the security companies assisting the Taliban," he said.

"Also on the other side we also receive reports and complaints from the public that there is a negative competition among the security companies themselves. They are sometimes attacking each other."

US politicians are becoming increasingly concerned that the massive amounts of money they are pumping into the Afghan economy could actually be fuelling the insurgency.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where to go?

Click on image to enlarge

The Southern winter is killing me and it's still another month to spring. I want to strike out for warmer climes but where to go? The big wide world doesn't look all that inviting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Robinson Kreutznaer



"I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he had married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but, by the usual corruption of words in England, we are now called--nay we call ourselves and write our name--Crusoe; and so my companions always called me."

So begins one of the world's classics, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.

The book was published on April 25, 1719. The positive reception was immediate and universal. Before the end of the year, this first volume had run through four editions. Within years, it had reached an audience as wide as any book ever written in English.

By the end of the 19th century, no book in the history of Western literature had spawned more editions, spin-offs, and translations (even into languages such as Inuit, Coptic, and Maltese) than Robinson Crusoe, with more than 700 such alternative versions, including children's versions with mainly pictures and no text.

It was praised by eminent figures such as Coleridge, Rousseau and Wordsworth. Even Karl Marx used Robinson Crusoe in "Das Kapital", citing Crusoe's rampant capitalist acquisitiveness to demonstrate economic theories in operation.

And yet by the 1950s it had been downgraded to children's book status despite Defoe's stated aim to inform his readers about the world beyond England and the wide possibilities for self-improvement both economic and spiritual.

I had, of course, read the book as a boy in its German translation and, coming to Australia in the 1960s, still remember the TV series which had one of the best theme music ever written:

for the original soundtrack check [here]

Reading this almost 300-year-old book fifty years after I had first read it, I am struck by the resemblance it bears to my own life's experiences, such as when Robinson Crusoe, having successfully settled in Brazil but "born to be my own destroyer" and being "the wilful agent of all my own miseries" through "apparent obstinate adhering to my foolish inclination of wandering abroad ...", was ultimately shipwrecked through having "... obeyed blindly the dictates of my fancy rather than my reason".

This could well become my epitaph, "Blindly obeyed the dictates of my fancy rather than my reason."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A thousand onions and a million tears later ...

Click on image for another image

... it's all done: for two days we chopped onions, cooked steaks, fried sausages, made pancakes, buttered breadrolls, turned roasts on spits, and poured coffee and tea for three hundred bikeriders and their families and friends at the annual APEX Dirt Bike Rally in the Mogo State Forest.

It was all for a worthwhile cause and MARINE RESCUE earned itself a donation of a thousand dollars but I don't want to chop another onion until next year's rally!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lost Horizon

"Cigars had burned low, and we were beginning to sample the disillusionment that usually afflicts old school friends who have met again as men and found themselves with less in common than they had believed they had."

So begins Lost Horizon, one of my favourite books. The origin of the novel is explained in a prologue and epilogue, whose narrator is a neurologist.

This neurologist and a novelist friend, Rutherford, are given dinner at Tempelhof, Berlin, by their old school-friend Wyland, a secretary at the British embassy. A chance remark by a passing airman brings up the topic of Hugh Conway, a British consul in Afghanistan, who disappeared under odd circumstances. Later in the evening, Rutherford reveals to the narrator that, after the disappearance, he discovered Conway in a French mission hospital in Chung-Kiang (probably Chongqing), China, suffering from amnesia. Conway recovered his memory and told Rutherford his story, then slipped away again.

Rutherford wrote down Conway's story; he gives the manuscript to the neurologist, and that manuscript becomes the heart of the novel.

The book, published in 1933, caught the notice of the public only after Hilton's Goodbye, Mr. Chips was published in 1934. Lost Horizon subsequently became a huge success and in 1939 was published in paperback form, as Pocket Book #1. Because of its number-one position in what became a very long list of pocket editions, Lost Horizon is often cited as the first American paperback book, which is not correct. The first mass-market, pocket-sized, paperback book printed in America was an edition of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth.

The Shangri-La Hotels, based in Singapore but extending to Australia, Malaysia and other Asian countries, are also named and to some extent themed after the lamasery of the book. Some of the hotels provide guests with a complimentary copy of the book, a practice stretching back to the chain's first hotel in Singapore in the 1970s.

I obtained my first copy of the book when I stayed at the Shangri-La on Singapore's Orchard Road in January 1983. I have re-read the book several times since then and also watched the 1937-movie.

Super answers to super questions

A whole new industry has sprung up cashing in on DIY superannuation funds. They charge the unwary huge sums of money - and I mean THOUSANDS! - for doing the annual audit and answering the occasional question.

I am using the no-frills auditors at SuperHelp Australia.

And if I am not too clear on something and need some questions answered, I go to Trish Power's excellent Superguide or John Wasiliev's Your Super. Both Trish and John also answer your questions by personal email. John also publishes an excellent column in the Weekend Australian Financial Review while Trish has published several books on superannuation which I can highly recommend.

You can also subscribe to all the latest superannuation news straight from the horse's mouth at www.ato.gov.au.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The unions' first foray into the election campaign



Appropriating the iconic hit 1960s television show, The Addams Family, the Australian Workers Union has superimposed the faces of the Coalition's front bench on the characters.

Backed by the show's theme music, the union came up with the side-splitting ad with the aim to remind the wider public "that we've got some pretty disturbing characters on the frontbench of the Liberal Party," said AWU national secretary Paul Howes.

The ad sings out: "They're tricky and their sneaky, dishonest and cheeky. They're all together freaky, the Abbott Family".

So yes, this is a very low form of campaigning – using weak humour to trigger irrational fear responses in voters. But will it work? Of course it will. Can't wait to see the Coalition's response.

Nice to see a few business-minded types cutting through the 'WorkChoices is back!' spin yesterday that erupted after Tony Abbott's refusal to rule out making some changes to the regulations created under the Fair Work Act.

Poll Position pointed out yesterday that even a Labor government would have to 'tweak' the regulations attached to the Fair Work Act. The regulations are not perfect and many of the minor aspects of the administration of this Act need tweaks. Some want more tweaks than others – Bluescope and Brambles chairman Graham Kraehe told The Australian: "There are some flaws in Fair Work Australia that need to be urgently corrected. The union right of access is the biggest one."

That 'tweak' – admittedly a big one – is potentially fixed through changes to the regulations rather than redrafting of the Act. Even so, it would meet with strong opposition in the Senate if introduced by an Abbott government.

The Australian National Retailers Association's executive director Gary Black went further, by telling The Australian that Abbott would have to change the Act itself to make changes to the current minimum shift requirements for young workers (currently set at three hours).



DON’T LET JOOLYA FOOLYA!!

The Sussex Street union thugs, who have proven they have little regard for Australia, will sell us anything, so long as they can con the gullible voter and win another victory in order to continue WRECKING AUSTRALIA and treating us like second-class citizens.

Higher taxes

MORE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

An ETS

More rorts and stuff-ups, i.e…

The insulation disaster and Julia’s own debacle the BER rorts…


As Tony Abbott said, "She can execute a prime minister but she can't execute a government program."

Julia will put on her make-up, do her eyes, get her boyfriend to fix her hair and get out there to the cameras. She will talk, and talk, and promise, and talk: but be assured of one thing - she’s not going to be tested on anything! The same leftist media and political commentators who promoted Rudd and gave him an armchair ride, will do exactly the same for Julia Gillard. While she is still on her political honeymoon, she will go to an election untested!! Well, we all know the rest because we’ve all been there before. She’s exactly the same person who signed off on all of Rudd’s policies and schemes for nearly four years - with the very same Wayne Swan!

Despite inheriting a $20 billion surplus, zero net debt and $60 billion in the Future Fund, Labor is delivering:

$78.5 billion of net debt in 2010-11 – $3,500 per person

$4.6 billion of interest paid on net debt in 2010-11 - $205 for every Australian (and it will get worse)

a Budget deficit of $40.8 billion in 2010-11 (the biggest deficit since World War II)

to fund its reckless and wasteful spending, Labor needs to borrow more than $100 million every day!!


Be very, very cautious of this new PM. To understand her agenda and modus operandi, you need to know her background, her enduring commitment to the Fabian movement, and her lifelong passion for Socialism. Go study the history, the background, of this person. Go read about what Fabianism is, how it performs and behaves. Beware of anything she and her band of cronies have to say. The PM’s orders come from two sources - Trades Hall and the Fabian Society.

She will tell the swinging voters precisely what it is they want to hear so they’ll vote for her. Then, over the months and years that follow, we’ll slowly start to discover (because the Leftist press will do its utmost to keep a lid on things) that the government is doing something else entirely. Beware!!

After the election it’ll be back to 'normal' for Labor should they win another gig.

“Whatever it takes”: Graham Richardson

“When we get in we’ll change everything”: Peter Garrett.

Labor has put fresh icing on a mouldy cake, but it will not camouflage the taste.

Same trough - different pig; just that this one wears lipstick!

Share this with your friends!



Thursday, July 15, 2010

Victor Aung

Putting something on the internet is like launching a message in a bottle as one never knows where it may end up. I hope this one ends up with someone who knows the whereabouts of Victor Aung whom I met while living on Thursday Island in 1977. Victor, who is from Burma, worked on an oyster farm on nearby Friday Island implanting nuclei into the shells to produce cultured pearls. Being young and single, he had got tired of his monotonous work in an isloated location and left the Torres Strait soon afterwards. The last time I heard from him, he was sorting mail at the GPO in Sydney!

Victor AungI was reminded of all this when I read Eric Hansen's story "Life at the Grand Hotel" in which he describes his meeting with Kazuyoshi Takami, the owner of the cultured pearl farm on Friday Island. Kazuyoshi was brought up in Japan, but at the time of Eric's visit in 1992 he had already lived on the island for eighteen years. Once a month he flew down to Cairns to visit his wife and two children. The rest of the time he worked on the oyster farm, tending the 10,000 oysters placed in wire baskets and suspended from oil-drum rafts for the two or three years it takes to make a cultured pearl.

I've contacted Kazuyoshi on Friday Island to find out if he knows where Victor is now. If anybody else knows Victor's whereabouts, please email me at riverbend[AT]batemansbay.com

Here's a short clip of the Torres Strait, courtesy of Peddells Ferries:











And here's a GOOGLE Earth map of Thursday Island:


View Larger Map

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Every Chinaman has one!


There's an election coming up as evidenced by the sudden increase in media activity, including this one:

A pretty little girl named Suzy was standing in front of her home. Next to her was a basket containing a number of tiny creatures; in her hand was a sign announcing "FREE KITTENS".

Suddenly a line of big black cars pulled up beside her. Out of the lead car stepped a tall redhead.

"Hi there little girl, I'm Prime Minister Gillard. What do you have in the basket?" she asked.

"Kittens", little Suzy said.

"How old are they?" asked Gillard.

Suzy replied, "They're so young, their eyes aren't even open yet".

"And what kind of kittens are they?"

"Labor supporters", answered Suzy with a smile.

Gillard was delighted. As soon as she returned to her car, she called her PR chief and told him about the little girl and the kittens.

Recognizing the perfect photo-op, the two agreed that the prime minister should return the next day and, in front of the assembled media, have the girl talk about her discerning kittens.

So the next day, Suzy was again standing there with her basket of "FREE KITTENS" when another motorcade pulled up, this time followed by vans from ABC,Channel 7, SBS, Ten & Nine.

Cameras and audio equipment were quickly set up, then Gillard got out of her limo and walked over to little Suzy.

"Hello, again", she said, "I'd love it if you would tell all my friends out there what kind of kittens you're giving away".

"Yes miss", Suzy said. "They're Liberals".

Taken by surprise, the prime minister stammered, "But... but... yesterday, you told me they were Labor supporters".

Little Suzy smiled and said, "I know. But today, they have their eyes open".

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

EXXON Valdez 24 March 1989 vs BP Gulf of Mexico



In the early hours of March 24th 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil supertanker runs aground in Alaska. It discharges millions of gallons of crude oil. The incident becomes the biggest environmental catastrophe in North American history. In a flash, dramatic images shoot across the planet. They show thousands of carcasses of dead seabirds and sea otters covered in oil. A thick black tide rises and covers the beaches of once-pristine Prince William Sound. For twenty years, Riki Ott and the fishermen of the little town of Cordova, Alaska have waged the longest legal battle in U.S. history against the world's most powerful oil company - ExxonMobil. They tell us all about the environmental, social and economic consequences of the black wave that changed their lives forever. This is the legacy of the Exxon Valdez.

Tuross Head you win!

Want to see more pictures? Click here


We went for a drive today down to Tuross Head where we lunched on barramundi at the Tuross Head Country Club and went for a walk along an almost deserted beach.

Padma asked me to take a photo of her favourite Hansel & Gretel house which not only looks cute but also has great views out to the ocean.

Tuross Head is a very special place and we always enjoy visiting it!



Monday, July 12, 2010

Empire of the Word



A series that traces the impact of reading and writing over five thousand years of human history

Eight years in the making, Empire of the Word is a compelling look inside the act of reading and traces its impact on more than five thousand years of human history. Introduced and narrated by one of the world’s great readers, Canadian writer Alberto Manguel, the series traces reading’s origins; examines how we learn to read; exposes censors’ attempts to prevent our reading; and finally, proposes what the future might hold for this most human of creative acts.

Empire of the Word will tell us its narrative in a mesmerizing style. Each episode shares the history of reading by introducing us to the fascinating characters that populate the grand story. We meet Martin Luther being marched into Wartburg Castle in the Sixteenth Century, where he will translate the Bible into German for the first time. We are also introduced to contemporary characters such as Barbara Taylor, an adult illiterate living in Toronto and fighting to learn how to read. Some characters we meet live in danger, such as Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, whose writing has inflamed passions in the Indian sub-continent. Blending potent re-enactment with real life stories and illustrated with stock footage and powerful Computer Generated Images, the series is a dramatic and engaging look across the Empire of the Word.

Filmed in fifteen countries, Empire of the Word is an ambitious television documentary series in the grand tradition of the BBC’s Planet Earth, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos or Jacob Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man. Writer and Director Mark Johnston was inspired by Adrian Malone (who created Cosmos and The Ascent of Man) while they worked together on Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World (PBS/BBC). Like these series, Empire of the Word will be must-see television for a broad audience about how reading is at the heart of human existence.

Empire of the Word is built upon the ageless struggle between individual readers and the forces lined up against them. Reading has been characterized by this never-ending struggle for the self-determination of readers. Crushing poverty, organized religion, authoritarian rulers, even our own brains – they can all conspire to keep us from reading. Censorship too is a constant danger to readers. Some submit to the censorship, but others resist. And the reading tools they deploy in their resistance shape the future of reading. For example, readers in the electronic age are hard to stop: they text message; send email; post something on YouTube or Facebook. Technology has become their tool for fighting censorship.

But will technology mean the end of reading as we know it? For the past forty years, pundits and academics alike have predicted the imminent demise of the written word. Television, movies, now the Internet – each has been held up as the nemesis of the book. But the written word and its readers have always survived, and today there are more people who can read than ever before. And for some, these new technologies are causing a renaissance in worldwide reading. What will these new forms of reading look like? Millions of Japanese commuters read Ketai Bukai novels, which scroll out on the screens of their mobile phones.

But no matter what shape reading will take in the future, why does this system of small squiggles on a page really have such a hold over us? The answer is rooted in some of our key human impulses. Some would say the drive to read is found in our need to be ourselves. It is the realized individual human self that is unlocked by reading. Empire of the Word will tell us the stories across the ages, the stories of writers and their readers battling to be free to read. It is a story nearly every single one of us shares. ...

I'd put a squid on Spain ...



... and Spain won! Viva la España!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A STOP-sign of the times


Did you know that holding up a STOP-sign requires the completion of a "nationally recognised training course"? On completion of said course, one is handed a 'blue card' and presumably allowed to call oneself a "Traffic Controller, W.A.L.O.B.".

I was reminded of this certification-nonsense-gone-mad when I heard again from an old friend who back in the 1970s had been on the Bougainville Project with me. He had spent the last ten years doing workers compensation wage audits - a mundane job if ever there was one - but was made redundant about twelve months ago when it became mandatory that all personnel working on such jobs had to have a university degree. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and holds a practising certificate in his own right and yet they deemed it insufficient to meet their criteria!

Nobody of my generation ever went to university to become an accountant. It was correspondence courses or evening classes at best, and the rest was the "University of Life ". Having started work at the age of 14, I myself graduated summa cum laude from the "School of Hard Knocks". The rest was 'learning on the job' with a few lucky breaks such as signing up with Mr Manfred Weber for a professional articleship in Germany despite my lack of a high-school education (1960), and being hired as a bank officer by the ANZ Bank's then Canberra manager, Mr Robert Reid, when I arrived in Australia with no money and even less English (1965), and passing the friendly Mr McFadden's interview in Canberra and being sent up to the Rabaul branch of his chartered accountants' firm of Hancock, Woodward & Neill (1970). Thank you, Messrs. Weber, Reid and McFadden! I am sure you have all gone to Heaven!

So where would I be today had I done 'the done thing' and completed high school and university (not that there had ever been any money for such luxury)? Perhaps I'd be doing workers compensation wage audits in Germany instead of having followed my motto "Have pen, will travel!"

Brings to mind W. Somerset Maugham's story "The Verger", doesn't it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good Mourning, Deutschland!


No more Deutschland über alles, ja? Spain beat Germany 1-0 and stopped their advance to the World Cup Final. There will be a great deal of mourning and teeth-gnashing all over the old Vaterland today and for days and weeks to come.

Never mind, the morning looks beautiful at "Riverbend" and the earlier thick fog cover on the river promises another perfect day. I've just fed the wild birds and the wild ducks and the one lonely rabbit who feeds with them and probably thinks he is a duck, and I exchanged glances with "Skippy" grazing in the back-paddock.

I am now back in front of the screen and the rest of the world looks pretty good, too: the Dow Jones is again above 10,000, copper on the London Metals Exchange is above $3 a pound once more, BHP jumped 3.38% in New York overnight, and the ASX Futures are up 85 points. Locally, BHP should bounce back above $38 today which is still a long way off my target of $48 but every little bit helps. (For more information on BHP [click here]).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Don't mention the war!


Germany put in one of the most impressive performances in recent World Cup history to absolutely thrash Diego Maradona’s Argentina side 4 - 0.

Don't mess with Germany, on or off the field.

On Tuessy, 6th July, Uruguay plays the Netherlands, and on Wednesday, 7th July, Germany plays Spain. I predict the winners to be the Netherlands and Germany who would then meet on Sunday, 11th July, for the final match.

If Germany wins, it would be the German side's fourth win after it won against Hungary in 1954, against the Netherlands in 1974, and against Argentina in 1990.

Early-morning magic at "Riverbend"

All is quiet as I walk in the early-morning sun, cup of tea in hand, across "Riverbend". Even my friend "Skippy" enjoys this special moment.

Who really owns BP ?

Part 2
www.asalbuchi.com.ar


There's a lot of talk about BP being a British company.

Actually, the ownership and control of the company is a lot more complex.

Some facts not reported in the news:

1. 29% of BP is owned by JP Morgan and US companies own 39% of it total

2. Halliburton, one of the main contractors on the rig, is considered the party responsible for failing to cap the well properly. They moved their headquarters out of the US to Dubai recently.

3. The former CEO from 1997 to 2009 who was ousted by a sex scandal was also Chairman of Goldman Sachs. Goldman sold a massive amount of its BP holdings in early 2010 and one of its employees bragged in an e-mail in early April that they were "shorting" the Gulf and looking forward to huge profits from an environmental disaster there.

As CNN is now reporting, the U.S. government has issued a new rule that would make it a felony crime for any journalist, reporter, blogger or photographer to approach any oil cleanup operation, equipment or vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone caught is subject to arrest, a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a federal felony crime.

CNN reporter Anderson Cooper says, "A new law passed today, and backed by the force of law and the threat of fines and felony charges, ... will prevent reporters and photographers from getting anywhere close to booms and oil-soaked wildlife just about any place we need to be. By now you're probably familiar with cleanup crews stiff-arming the media, private security blocking cameras, ordinary workers clamming up, some not even saying who they're working for because they're afraid of losing their jobs."

The rule, of course, is designed to restrict the media's access to cleanup operations in order to keep images of oil-covered seabirds off the nation's televisions. With this, the Gulf Coast cleanup operation has now entered a weird Orwellian reality where the news is shaped, censored and controlled by the government in order to prevent the public from learning the truth about what's really happening in the Gulf.



Friday, July 2, 2010

Breaking news is breaking new grounds


The RSPT is dead; long live the MRRT ! Start saying "Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT)" every morning in the mirror because that's the new term we will all hear a lot from now on.

The Resources Super Profit Tax has been relaunched as the Mineral Resource Rent Tax as follows:

Today, BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer, Marius Kloppers, said the company was encouraged by the Australian Government’s decision to replace the proposed Resource Super Profits Tax with a Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) on mined iron ore and coal.

“As we have previously stated, BHP Billiton believes that tax reform that is prospective, competitive, differentiated and resource-based will ensure that the Australian mining sector continues to grow through investment in the industry which benefits all Australians.

“We are encouraged that the MRRT design is closer to our frequently stated principles of sound tax reform, in that the proposed tax will be prospective in its treatment of profits from our iron ore and coal businesses, and not apply to the other commodities in our portfolio.

“At the request of the Prime Minister, there have been constructive discussions in the last week with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Resources Minister which have resulted in a material improvement from the original tax proposal,” Mr Kloppers said.
The proposed MRRT is closer to meeting the tax design principles in the following ways:

Prospective – businesses can transition into the MRRT at market value of the business (not the previously proposed book value) with depreciation over 25 years. This is particularly important for the iron ore and coal operations which have been in existence for many years.

Competitive – the headline tax rate is 30 per cent, with a 25 per cent allowance for the extraction activity such that only the resource profit is taxed. Company tax will continue to be paid.

Differentiated – the tax applies to coal and iron ore resources with all other resources exempt.

Resource based – taxable profit will be that at the mine gate and not on downstream processing or infrastructure.

“There is still a great deal of work to be done before this tax is enacted, and we will work constructively with the Government to ensure that the detailed design of minerals taxation maintains the international competitiveness of the Australian resources industry into the future and is in the long term interests of the industry and all Australians,” Mr Kloppers concluded.


Here's the news item:

Julia Gillard has announced that the Government has reached a deal with the mining industry over its controversial super profits tax.

The Government has made major concessions to the mining industry in a redesign of the tax.

The new arrangements will apply to iron ore, oil, gas and coal.

Iron ore and coal will now be subject to a new tax at a rate of 30 per cent instead of the originally announced 40 per cent.

And the tax will kick in at the Government bond rate plus 7 per cent, which would be at around 12 per cent.

"The new arrangements also recognise the preference of industry for more generous recognition of past investment, through a credit that recognises the market value of that investment written down over a period of up to 25 years," Ms Gillard said in a statement.

Today's agreement with the industry after intensive discussions with Rio Tinto, Xstrata and BHP Billiton in Canberra this week ends a two-month brawl with the resources sector which contributed to Kevin Rudd's ousting as prime minister.

The resolution is likely to increase speculation that an election will be called soon with the stoush now defused.

The legislation for the tax still needs to go through Paraliament but will not be introduced until after the election.

The Federal Opposition has vowed to block the tax.

Here are the full
MINERAL RESOURCE RENT TAX HEADS OF AGREEMENT:

The Design of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax

The new resource tax will apply from 1 July 2012 only to mined iron ore and coal. All other minerals are excluded.

The rate of tax will be 30% applied to the taxable profit at the resource.

Taxable profit is to be calculated by reference to:

• The value of the commodity, determined at its first saleable form (at mine gate) less all costs to that point
• An extraction allowance equal to 25% of the otherwise taxable profit will be deductible to recognise the profit attributable to the extraction process. (i.e. this to only tax the resource profit)
• Arms length principles on all transactions pre and post first saleable form.

MRRT is to be calculated on an individual taxpayer’s direct ownership interest in the project.

There will be no MRRT liability for taxpayers with low levels of resource profits (i.e. $50m per annum).

All post 1 July 2012 expenditure is to be immediately deductible for MRRT on an incurred basis. Non-deductible expenditure will be broadly consistent with PRRT.

MRRT losses will be transferable to offset MRRT profits the taxpayer has on other iron ore and coal operations.

Carried-forward MRRT losses are to be indexed at the allowance rate equal to the LTBR plus 7 percent.

The MRRT will be an allowable deduction for income tax.

All State and Territory royalties will be creditable against the resources tax liability but not transferable or refundable. Any royalties paid and not claimed as a credit will be carried forward at the uplift rate of LTBR plus 7 percent.

Starting Base

The starting base for project assets is, at the election of the taxpayer, either:

• Book value (excluding the value of the resource) or
• Market value (as at 1 May 2010).

All capital expenditure incurred post 1 May 2010 will be added to the starting base and depreciated against mining operations from 1 July 2012.

“Project assets” for the purpose of the MRRT will be defined to include tangible assets, improvements to land and mining rights (using the Income Tax definition).

Where book value is used to calculate starting base, depreciation will be accelerated over the first 5 years. The undepreciated value will be uplifted at LTBR plus 7 percent.

Where market value is used to calculate starting base, there will be no uplift and depreciation will be based on an appropriate effective life of assets, not exceeding 25 years.

Any undepreciated starting base and carry forward MRRT losses are to be transferred to a new owner if the project interest is sold.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

"I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think."


Thus said Socartes, one of the chief founders of Western philosophy.

Here are seven more Life Lessons from Socrates:

Be Content

"He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have"

Having a beautiful home and the latest car will not make you content. Contentedness is birth from the inside, it's a decision, it’s your choice. Things will never make you happy, happiness is a choice.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend

"Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions; but those who kindly reprove thy faults"

The Scripture says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful". True friends will reprove your faults; they will tell you when you are "out of line". Be wary of friends who only say kind words. A true friend will tell you the truth, and often the truth hurts. Socrates said, "Do not be angry with me if I tell you the truth".

Study

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall gain easily what others have laboured hard for"

Do you realize that you can read a book in a few hours and learn what it took someone twenty years to learn. You can literally pick someone's brain for $19.95. Learn to cultivate the joy of reading, and you will gain with ease what others have sweated for.

Be by Doing

"To do is to be"

As the quote goes, "Be the change you want to see". Don’t just talk about it, be the example, be the leader. Socrates said, "Let him that would move the world, first move himself". If you can move yourself, than you will easily move others.

Gaining a Good Reputation

"The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavour to be what you desire to appear"

Solomon said, "A good name is better than rubies". And the way to gain a good name is to be how you want to be perceived. Be in the dark the way you want to be perceived in the light. If you can master that, you will never need to worry about your reputation. Socrates said, "It is not living that matters, but living rightly".

Avoid False Words

"False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil"

Labour for accuracy in your speech! Don't stretch the truth, don't bend the truth, only speak the truth. Exaggerations infect the soul! You can be just as truthful and accurate in your speech as the most honest men who have ever walked the earth.

Beware of a Busy Life

"Beware the barrenness of a busy life"

If you don't take anything else away from this, please remember this question. You should ask it every day. The question is, "What am I accomplishing?"

Never get lost in the "busy-ness" of life, avoid all of the distractions and attractions.

Examine your life. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living". So ask yourself not "What am I doing?" but "What am I accomplishing?" If you do this, you will begin to awaken to your true potential, you will begin to become who you are.



P.S. By the way, if you have struggled with who came first and who came next, Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle - relax! Indeed, relax inside your warm SPA while you remember that first came Socrates who taught Plato who then taught Aristotle.