Government Giving In to Banks

In the past, I have written about how the financially disadvantaged in our communities are the demographic that would probably benefit most if they were able to access financial advice services. However, the costs of such services are so expensive that it’s effectively priced out of the reach of those who need it most: the young, vulnerable and working poor. (See: Government Absent on Credit Act-Disadvantaging Vulnerable, Youth & Working Poor).

The high-cost factor is due to the massive amounts of legislation, compliance, regulation, governance, licencing etc. plus the expense of supporting ineffective multi-layered reactive government enforcement agencies/bureaucracy. The whole structure is broken because the system favours the wealthy and ‘enforcement’ is incapable of preventing those who are not members of the industry (i.e. the unlicensed criminals) from ripping off consumers, which is the main source of losses.

All this new legislation does not make criminal activity more illegal when it was illegal in the first place, so the effect of more legislation is that it increases the costs for honest business operators. It’s just that every time the government enforcement agencies fail to do their job, they hide their incompetence, aligning themselves with Government and point the finger at the industry. So instead of the financial services industry, the legislators, the enforcement agencies and even the product providers all working together for the benefit of consumers, it’s the opposite: all the parties are ‘hostile’ and the industry is isolated. As a result, the product providers and rating agencies are taking control of the industry unabated, yet no one is receiving the right advice. What a mess!

Mind you, the Financial Services industry has not helped itself. Those representing the industry have the difficulty of managing a weak and indecisive body that has limited influence, direction and control. They busy themselves trying to convince the public that they are a Profession, not an Industry, desperately trying to pitch the ‘value of advice’, yet deriving little revenue from it. In reality, they are lorded over by their commission-driven masters, the product providers, who actually pull all the strings. Finance advisers are just facilitators for the Product & Platform providers, Insurance companies and Fund Managers, predominantly controlled by the four major Australian banks.

As with all business models, the emphasis is always on what drives revenue and the problem for the advice industry is that they just can’t sell ‘advice’ as a value proposition. The pity of it is that, in truth, the right strategic financial advice is the most important and essential cornerstone to successful planning and should always be the first step. A consequence of appropriate advice may, at a later point, involve some type of investment product but unfortunately the force$ that control and drive the industry influence the wrong behaviour (and therefore outcomes) as the weak advice industry allows the ‘trail commission tail’ to wag the dog; yet one cannot do without the other.

The Government needs to look at measures to abridge the present prohibitive governance and compliance red tape, as these costs make the provision of services prohibitive for consumers and unviable for the advice industry. Something must be done to preserve the advice industry, if not, control defaults to the Banks and insurance companies, and that would be like giving the foxes the keys to the hen house. Another consequence of the ludicrous levels of Government compliance, regulation and bureaucracy is that the product providers are finding new ways to move their wares without providing appropriate advice i.e. avoiding the industries’ compliance regime altogether.

A perfect example of this is the personal insurances industry. You don’t have to watch too much free to air television to notice that in recent years we have been overrun with commercials for all types of personal insurances. The reason for this is simply that the insurance industry had to find a new platform to move product when the ‘advice industry’ stalled due to bureaucratic and regulatory overload and Government indecisiveness.

The problem with mass product marketing is that consumers end up with the level of cover that they want, not what the need! The outcome is that most consumers are now significantly under-insured, or have no insurance at all. Many are paying for cover they don’t need or have the wrong policies.

These policyholders are then conditioned to believe they need to increase their cover (and premiums) annually by some obscure or irrelevant indicator such as CPI, when in reality they should be reducing the amount of cover in line with their needs, which generally declines annually as we gradually approach retirement (the obvious exception being Income Protection Cover).

Something needs to change in order to make financial advice more accessible for those who clearly need it most. Otherwise unscrupulous product providers and their enablers in the media will continue to take advantage of the financially vulnerable.

Unfortunately, Governments use the passage of legislation as a benchmark of their success; they actually need to reduce the red tape around compliance if they really want to assist those consumers needing help. That’s counter-intuitive and therefore a major hurdle as it’s a concept that is extremely difficult for Government to grasp. They all need to stop making the finance advice industry the enemy and engage with them to find a workable solution for those who currently cannot afford these types of services.

I’m not against regulatory controls, but it only works if enforced, otherwise it just increases the cost of services and makes it impossible for the industry to reasonably compete against unlicensed, dishonest and fraudulent shysters who continue to rip consumers off carte blanche. The Government, compliance agencies and the industry all need to start working together for the benefit of the consumers. What a novel idea!

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking. – John Kenneth Galbraith.

23 February 2017

Governments Eliminating Greenhouse Emissions by Shutting Off the Power

One of the biggest disadvantages of minority governments is that in the middle of all the madness nothing actually gets done. We are now realising the consequences of decisions made at the ballot box, yet another gigantic, predictable and foreseen cost for the ‘constituents of Australia’, as we enter a prolonged period of irregular and unpredictable power supply blackouts. The inconvenience, cost and consequences for the public and the economy are the obvious inevitabilities, following decades of indecisive politicians with injudicious policies.

Every political party argues about which idealist has the biggest renewable energy target (RET) as if the award goes to the party with the most short-sighted and unachievable target without consideration for the long-term consequences. They talk about intangibles i.e. ‘targets’ but no one is held to account for the lack of a viable plan to implement and achieve a workable outcome. Let’s not even consider the costs, because you can’t cost a plan that doesn’t exist.

I’m not against renewable energy or reducing greenhouse emissions, but I’m not in favour of reverting back to third world standards because a bunch of indecisive elected suits are incapable of doing their jobs. From what I can see coal generates approx. 73% of our power, natural gas 13%, so common sense would dictate that we secure an alternative supply of ‘constant’ or base load power source before we started shutting down power stations. What ideology is so blind that they can’t see that?

The alternative to base load power supply is, of course, renewable energy technology; hydro 7%, and intermittent power from wind and solar 7%. Broadly intermittent power can only be relied upon about 30% of the time, essentially dependent upon the right weather conditions.

The point is that when there is no intermittent power, we essentially have a 100% reliance on coal and gas. Even if wind farms could produce 100% of our power 30% of the time, it’s apparent that we still need coal and gas to produce 100% of supply when weather conditions prevent intermittent power generation. So why can’t the impaired see what is plainly obvious? It seems that vested interests line political pockets!

Why are we closing power stations before replacing them with alternative facilities to guarantee supply as the main priority? Would it be stating the obvious to say we should first guarantee supply before investing in unreliable renewable alternatives to the point of dependency?

Australia has some of the world’s largest deposits of uranium and coal yet somehow ‘blackouts’ are preferable to considering nuclear or clean coal technology. Why not get a return on the hundreds of millions of dollars invested by government into carbon capture and storage technology? Meanwhile, we fail to acknowledge that intermittent energy with current technology cannot be relied upon no matter how many wind farms we litter the landscape with, unless storage technology can be commercially adapted.

The truth is that there needs to be room for both renewable and traditional sources of power production, but first you must guarantee a reliable supply. So what is the right balance in a world of commercial imperatives and what chance do we have that those with extreme views will ever take their blinkers off for long enough to consider reality, rather than hold us all to ransom by literally keeping us in the dark? How much inflicted grief must we endure before there is a sensible debate?

Australians need to understand their voting responsibilities when they exercise the privileges provided by our democracy, after all, if you are looking for someone to take responsibility for this debacle then we need to focus inwardly and not blame some of the blind, intemperate and fanatical activists we put in office. The reality check is coming. We are facing a massive increase in the cost of power and we will all pay for their idiotic ideology. Unfortunately, the biggest losers will always be the working poor, disadvantaged and the youth, the demographics with no voice, the politically disenfranchised.

Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight. – Napoleon Bonaparte.

21 February 2017

Government Absent on Credit Act-Disadvantaging Vulnerable, Youth & Working Poor

An interesting learning this week: apparently the tabloid media declared that January is the best time for individuals to review how well they manage their finances. It would seem from the story that the levels of personal debt are at record highs and credit cards are funding extreme levels of long-term unsustainable debt at usurious rates. Unsurprisingly, this is apparently due to the fact that many of us are living beyond our means and funding the shortfall on ‘credit’.

The story then promptly proceeded with what appeared to be a paid infomercial or ‘product flog’ offering a different credit card that does essentially the same thing!  So the solution is the same wrong behaviour with a different product provider! Is that how you take responsibility and control of your finances?

The tabloid media, like the Government, keeps missing the opportunity to educate the large numbers of consumers who clearly need help, although after about 10 years of Federal Budget deficits the Government is hardly in a position to lecture. The bottom line is: if you are using your credit cards for anything other than as a ‘method of payment’ you are simply not applying ‘efficient and effective’ management of your finances to achieve an outcome that is going to be beneficial for you.

Debt management is the essential first step if you are ever going to be in a position to accumulate sufficient assets to live a reasonable existence and a comfortable life in retirement. But who thinks that far ahead? Certainly not Government!

Almost everyone needs assistance to learn how to manage their finances; after all, it’s the mechanism we all use to fund ‘living’. It can be complex and getting the right advice should start early in your working life. The misconception is that you seek financial advice when you have plenty of money, but you actually need it when you have very little and looking to accumulate wealth.

It seems incongruous that Government reactively fund ‘Credit Counselling Services’ for those who have already got themselves into financial trouble, but do nothing proactively to assist with preventative ‘risk’ education for consumers. Nor are they willing to adopt workable policies or remove the failed and ineffective Government Legislation and the associated unenforceable compliance regime. If they did, the prohibitive costs of financial advice could be slashed and services made more accessible to the masses. The barrier for the average consumer is ‘cost’. At the moment only the wealthy can afford financial advice services. Why exclude the demographic that needs help the most?

Why do we accept that a certain socio-economic demographic are the disposable victims of the questionable practices and behaviour of the financial institutions issuing these credit cards to individuals who have no capacity to repay? How do these financial institutions continually avoid regulatory scrutiny from the Government’s own enforcement authorities? There needs to be an enforcement conversation about Financial Institutions complying with the Credit Act or, more precisely, the lack of scrutinising around the practices, behaviour, ethics and morality of the financial institutions issuing these cards.

There was a time when Financial Institutions issued credit cards, but only after completing a credit assessment of the applicant’s capacity to make repayments, as well as looking at their character and capital position or net worth, essentially to ensure the applicants could afford the repayments and to reduce the risk of individuals getting themselves into financial trouble.

Now with increasingly smart technology and the removal of manual credit assessments to reduce costs, the product model has changed. It is no longer about preventing or reducing defaults but rather a high turnover computerised system, which is programmed for an acceptable level of failure or default rate. The higher the interest rate margin the higher the statistical default rate can be. So it’s no longer about looking after customers to prevent defaults, it’s a statistical formula for acceptable losses where the casualties are the customers set up for failure by design, usually the young, vulnerable, disadvantaged and working poor.

Technology has completely changed the dynamic of the card facility and it is questionable whether credit cards can still be defined as a ‘financial product’ in accordance with the intended provisions of the Credit Act. It’s now a ‘service’ generated by a statistically programmed computer; designed by actuaries based on probability and operated by a ‘processing centre’, not finance-trained people. The governing legislation has not kept pace with the technological evolution in the finance sector, where defaults are no longer a potential consequence but a planned inevitability. The cost of the ‘systems failings’ is clear to see: whether due to theft, misappropriation, dishonesty or default, the systems disposable casualties just add further pressure on society and welfare dependency.

The financial services industry seems to have completely dehumanised the relationship with their client. They don’t care or feel accountable to their customers, especially the ‘acceptable losers’ built into these programs. If clients are defaulting because they were not correctly assessed in the first place, then you must ask the question: how are these Financial Institutions meeting their ‘Duty of Care’ to their customers and how do they remain compliant with the Government’s Credit Act? More to the point, where are the regulatory enforcement agencies?

The fact is that financial institutions make large profits from credit cards when the interest margins and fees are so high, particularly at the moment where credit spreads (interest ‘charged’ versus the actual ‘cost of funds’) have never been wider due to the present historical low-interest rate market. I’m not against financial institutions being successful by making profits but businesses still have a Duty of Care to their customers. We need to ask whether the absence of ‘Care’ is the reason why the profits are so high and if that’s the case, I can’t help thinking that the Government has left vulnerable consumers exposed to predators whose behaviour appears unscrupulous, immoral with unethical standards. It’s a numbers racket that would make organised crime syndicates envious.

The gap between what’s said and what’s done has never been wider, with the absence of ‘complete truth’ reflected in the length of the product disclosure documents i.e. they are what they hide. I accept that we all need to take responsibility for our actions, but financial institutions are acting as enablers, knowingly selling what they consider is an acceptable level of grief without accountability or reasonable preventative care. Shaping an orchestrated loss scenario for certain consumers feels like predatory behaviour to me. Why is the corruption of morals the only bankruptcy acceptable to the financial services industry? (See also ‘Why are Government Regulators – not working’).

The time is always right to do what is right. –Martin Luther King Jr.

25 January 2017

Dry Rivers, Wetlands, Environmental Water & Awesome Wells

On October 30th 1938, 23-year-old American actor, director, writer and producer, Orson Welles narrated a nationally broadcasted radio program, with a contemporary adaptation of The War of the Worlds, a 19th-century science fiction novel. It was performed as a live simulated news bulletin, a realistic dramatisation: a Martian invasion of earth was in progress. It reportedly caused nationwide confusion and mass panic when listeners thought that the arrival of the extraterrestrial beings was actually occurring.

Even though the episode was performed as a Halloween event, the accidental hoax had been executed and the myth that became the legend was created. As is the case today when the media realised they had been duped, they reported ‘widespread outrage’ and then led the apparent protest demanding greater regulatory intervention from the bureaucracy. Some things never change!

The Wellesian ruse may not fly nowadays, but what is interesting is how well-educated and intelligent people still get caught up in fictitious fables, leaving themselves susceptible to mythical fabrications and as a result are easily conditioned, manipulated, persuaded and indoctrinated.

So how does this yarn relate to Australians? Well it’s about the manoeuvring, misrepresentation and untruths perpetrated by those relatively new Australians, who after 200 years still don’t understand the harmony of our environment down under, in Terra Australis Incognita (the great unknown land), as they continue to impose reckless policies, pushing a flawed agenda from questionable research based on the European experience; generally misguided, opportunistic and with ominous intent. Let me explain.

Australia is a continent of 7.692 million square kilometres. It is the driest inhabited continent in the world with 70% of its area arid or semi-arid land. It is also the smallest continent in the world, the lowest, flattest and (apart from Antarctica) the driest, with a mean annual rainfall below 600 mm. Yep, it’s as dry “as a dead dingo’s donger” to quote a line from Australian Novelist Di Morrissey (Heart of the Dreaming, 1991). 

Europe is the wettest continent. In 2012 the UK’s annual rainfall was 121% more than Australia’s mean average. The Australian continent also has a vast ‘dry river’ system, carved out of the harsh landscape over many thousands of years; the result of extreme conditions in the cycles of prolonged, severe droughts and flooding rains. The longest of these dry river systems is the Murray, some 2,500 km in length. (The Thames by comparison is 350 km long).

Many people may not realise, but in its natural state you could cross the Murray River by walking the riverbed in times of drought. Then in 1919 as part of the Murray River irrigation plan, construction was commenced on the first in a series of ‘locks and weirs’. The river was subsequently dammed with four major reservoirs and some 15 locks. The irrigation system produced what is now considered to be one of the most productive food bowls and diverse agricultural regions in the country, as well as creating a myriad of artificial man-made wetlands with their associated salinity problems.

One of Australia’s truly unique ‘natural’ wetlands is Lake Eyre. Its formation is connected to the mythological dreamtime story of Wikunda hunting the kangaroo that became Lake Eyre. The Lake Eyre Basin covers 1 million square kilometres and is located outback, some 718 km north of Adelaide. Australia’s largest dry salt lake carries water on average about once every eight years and has only filled to capacity three times in the last 160 years. When water does flow the lake returns to life; a natural spectacle as huge numbers of waterbirds flock to the area. The stark landscape comes alive with wildflowers and even native fish return to the lake.

It is truly amazing; nowhere else in the world compares. So why do we take any notice of these ‘foreigners’ telling us how to manage our unique waterways based on research conducted elsewhere, particularly when they want to ‘drought proof’ these relatively new man-made, unnatural wetlands, that are a consequence of damming a massive dry river system.

I’m talking about ‘environmental water’. We have been led to believe that it’s necessary to waste billions of litres of water on regular flows to maintain these recently created artificial wetlands and then wash the surplus productive water out to sea. What a load of drivel! Lake Eyre clearly proves that wetlands simply do not need intervention with constant water flows.

Environmental water is just another myth that has been forced upon us, based on the irrelevant European experience. We know that the Earth’s present ‘axial precession’ means that the southern hemisphere’s seasons are somewhat more extreme than the northern hemisphere. This is Australia: try to learn something from those who have had a spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to the land, the traditional owners for the last 60,000 years or more. As I mentioned earlier, how can well educated, credible and intelligent individuals be so gullible, as they embrace these fictitious, fabricated untruths, without even considering the intent of the power brokers who are funding a program based on extraneous data?

In Australia we have a unique environment like no other continent or country. European settlers need to learn how to adapt to their new environment, not change it. Stop destroying productive land, stop maintaining saline-soaked swamps, stop washing valuable water out to sea and stop doing it in the name of the environment. I’m tired of watching these enviro-warriors getting it wrong, planting trees instead of native grasses and now unsustainably mismanaging our most precious resource.

Start asking questions of politicians, why are they attempting to use ‘unsustainable water policies’ as blackmail to leverage ‘bargaining power’; it’s a guerrilla tactic that makes no sense. This week we saw a range of duplicitous Machiavellian manoeuvres by our representatives against the occupants of the driest continents on earth, threatening to waste an additional 450,000,000,000 litres of so-called environmental water, by flushing it down the Murray and for no rational, practical or logical reason other than a shameful, strategic, political ploy for the Senator’s personal career advancement!

They’ll want to ‘drought proof’ Lake Eyre next! These lunatics are from another planet; maybe ‘Mars’.

The line between reason and madness grows thinnerRosa Parks.

1st December 2016

Knowing When It’s Time for the Subterranean Dream

Well, I remember when I was young, how the world was in the midst of the Cold War, as well as the Southeast Asia conflict. But of course, there is always a war somewhere, it’s a given in any lifetime. That said, the Cold War period was different, that constant uncertainty growing up, going to school, doing time, knowing that we were potential fodder for a foreign war, didn’t leave you overly motivated or ambitious. It’s hard to explain now, but we were well aware that we lived constantly with a threat of nuclear annihilation; fortunately we were told ‘obliteration’ was an instant death.

It’s not all bad. Today I keep hearing how ‘peachy’ those days were, when the certainties in life were Coca-Cola, blue jeans and Elvis. Well maybe for some. My growing recognition of reality was quite different: isolated, remote, and tedious. You were never really taught anything that was relative to ‘living in the day’. You just eventually worked things out for yourself or figured it out through observation. With little apparent optimism for the future, the foundations of our lives felt unstable, like we were always treading water. There was no real certainty, direction or ‘givens’ in life.

For the most part, looking back tends to get overshadowed by the good things subsequently learnt, the things you weren’t materially aware of at the time. I think my experience was planted deeper in authenticity; we dared to take risks, we had few choices, our survival skills were sharper and we were not sheltered from the unsavoury realities of life i.e. pain, poverty, disappointment, failure, hardship and a non-interventionist death.

Some things just were. You didn’t think about it nor question too much. It’s like the three-quarter ‘drop post’ that was kept in our vehicle; it was always there for no apparent reason. Then one day while droving sheep on a remote stock route, its purpose became clear. I was wide-eyed and motionless with what I witnessed. While it was quick, the sound was something a kid doesn’t easily forget, even though it was subsequently explained ‘that putting a stricken animal out of its misery was a case of being cruel to be kind’. That was that and we get on with it, as I came to terms with the thought, that the peace associated with death was clearly preferable than observing a deeply distressed animal, that could not be saved or relieved of its unbearable anguish. By not prolonging the inevitable this ‘being’ did not suffering a painful and protracted death at the hands of the elements and nature.

I later learned that my experience was nothing compared to the severity of the real cruelty endured during the 1937-1947 droughts in eastern Australia, as stories were recalled of farmers forced to walk off their land, leaving thousands of sheep to starve to death in the paddock. No one could afford to shoot them in post-depression and wartime Australia. People were basically struggling to survive at a time when the charitable works promoted by animal welfare groups, such as the RSPCA were unknown or out of reach.

At least when I was a young man, we could afford to destroy maimed stock that had survived trauma like ferocious scrub fires.  I realise now that my experience as a kid was not one of cruelty but of compassion and kindness. It takes an unpleasant type of courage, care and commitment to humanely put a suffering being out of its misery. There’s a learning here for us all.

An American Professor of animal science, Temple Grandin is a world-renowned spokesperson and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behaviour. She has been quoted as saying that “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.” She is obviously right, but it leaves me wondering why we can’t apply the same kindness to humans at the end of life as we do with animals. How did we become participants in this slow cruel form of ‘legal euthanasia’ that we practice when it is accepted that there is no ‘quality of life’ and ‘natural’ death is imminent? We don’t have to be cruel, so why are we?

Why do we allow physicians to hide behind a 12th-century Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm” through inaction when their only option is to try and keep you comfortable while they starve you to death. It is unbelievable that doctors require a legal document to prevent resuscitation, just to force the medical profession to allow nature to take its course and for doctors to behave compassionately.

What is really going on here? Why the aggressive and expensive treatments that fail to improve the lives of the terminally ill, with no chance of quality and comfort for the individual? Or are they just experimenting on us? The ‘medical machine’ sells prolonged care because time is money when they know they can’t offer remedial treatment or a cure. It’s wrong that families are being robbed of the opportunity to grieve because a protracted death has been crafted into a ‘welcome relief’. We know that the profession does not make the law, but they are a powerful lobby group, hence things don’t change!

It has been reported that 25% of medical budgets are funding the final days of life; it’s a big industry. Perhaps prolonging the inevitable is something to do with medical research or is it just a very profitable business making mega profits, from those who have no voice, no representation, the comatose and infirm?

It’s certainly not about being kind, compassionate, humane or progressive. The blame lies at the feet of the policy reprobates and their insane bureaucracies; a culpable, complicit and avaricious ‘medical profession’ and the atheists, agnostics and believers who choose to use God as an excuse to secure their wealth and power. After all these years, I’m still fearful of being someone else’s ‘fodder’!

17th November 2016.

Sinking Globalisation with Oil

It has been interesting to observe since the 1970s how the term ‘globalisation’ gained traction and found a place in our lives. It has threaded its way into our subconscious, evolving to a point where it relates to all things financial, economic, political and cultural. Indeed, it has been defined as the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture.

Along the way, it was broadly dismissed by some detractors who mocked globalisation as the ‘Americanisation’ of the world. The International Monetary Fund identified trade, capital investment, migration and dissemination of knowledge, as the four basic aspects of globalisation. So what does it mean for globalisation now that the U.S.A. is moving towards a ‘protectionist economy’ trumpeted by the new president-elect?

Within weeks of the November 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the incoming administration announced that the U.S. will be withdrawing from the 12 nation Transpacific Partnership Pact or the cross-Pacific free-trade deal, meaning Australia may miss out on billions of dollars in benefits, reportedly ‘painting a bleak outlook’ according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce. If a free-trade deal meant that Australia ‘were to be winners’, then you can’t blame the losers for withdrawing, when clearly one major aspect of globalisation, trade, is no longer viewed as beneficial. So why are we surprised and what’s next?

The outlook is undoubtedly an environment where ‘capital costs’ will be higher, migration restricted and there will be a decline in shared aspirations as certainty diminishes with the effective dismantling of globalisation. The U.S. will no longer be criticised for their role as the ‘world’s police’, as they withdraw into protectionism and focus internally. The game changer for the U.S. ‘military establishment’ and clearly recognised by the new administration, occurred in 2011 when the U.S.A. became a net exporter of refined petroleum products and the world’s third-largest producer of crude oil and second-largest exporter of refined products. So where does this leave Australia in the new paradigm, particularly in relation to Defence?

That other transpacific pact, the 1951 ANZUS Treaty was an agreement to protect the security of the Pacific, which has over time provided some Australians with a false sense of security regarding our Defence arrangements, as they believe our ‘fall back’ position in defending our sovereignty is to rely on our allies in the USA & NZ. Well, maybe not anymore, it depends on what Mr Trump means when he says our alliance is a ‘special relationship’. It may be that we now need to prepare our Defence on the basis that support is no longer a given, if it ever was.

Certainly the U.S. have been looking at some of our more recent Defence policies and actions and would question why they should risk American lives to defend our inanity, based on some imprudent decisions in relation to matters like ‘Submarines’ and the ‘Port of Darwin’, the latter a strategic asset which forms part of the Australian-United States Alliance’s Strategic Defence Framework, now leased to a company with Chinese State interests.

Some would argue that the recent submarine deal demonstrates that we do have a long-term Defence plan, primarily for the benefit, welfare and votes from the good people of South Australia. The first of 12 submarines arrive in 15 years’ time, the last in 50 years i.e. 2066.

The 50 billion dollar submarine contract ($4.12 billion per sub) for equipment powered by ‘diesel electric’ technology was awarded to France after it was decided not to proceed with the bid from Japan. Apparently, ‘too soon’; it’s only 70+ years since midget subs breached Sydney Harbour.

Interestingly, it has been reported that the Israeli Navy is in negotiations with Germany to supply superior nuclear submarines for only A$600 million each. Not ‘too soon’ for Israel! So why the 595% price ‘mark-up’ for Australian taxpayers? Well, it’s not a matter of poor probity on behalf of Defence, when it’s a political decision. This is particularly concerning given that in the last 15 years we have witnessed the momentous shift in global economic power, the biggest since the Industrial Revolution, back in favour of our eastern neighbours.

So, looking at the global geopolitical trends, do you think we are adequately responding and adapting to our changing environment or alternatively are you reasonably satisfied with the current complacent status quo; the ‘she’ll be right, we’re the lucky country’ strategic plan? Pope J.P.2 made the point that we are ‘lucky’ because as a country we have never been really tested. So may the ‘Age of Luck & Denial’ continue and we’ll just ‘hope’ that the ‘reality test’ is not forced upon ‘US’… the clock is ticking!

22nd November 2016

In June 2010 Australian Emeritus Professor Frank Johannes Fenner, AC,CMG,MBE,FRS,FAA predicted the extinction of the human race within around 100 years.

Dead Set & Forget

Why is it that so many people are in denial about making provision for their death and providing instructions regarding their wishes when they die? Why are we so reluctant to make a Will?

It is reported that approx. 45% of Australians do not have a valid Will, with the consensus being that most just don’t want to ‘jinx’ themselves by considering the issue of death. However in the same breath, people will tell you that they have taken out ‘Life Insurance’ in case they die and have also made provision for death when they nominate their ‘Estate’ as the beneficiary of their superannuation fund, yet none of that works if you don’t leave a Will. Who will receive the proceeds of your Superannuation, Life Insurance and assets/possessions when you die?

How do we make sense of this and how do we change behaviour? Don’t assume that ‘without a Will’ everything will just automatically go to your spouse or family. It may seem logical, but it’s not necessarily the case once lawyers and ‘Trustees of Superannuation Funds’ get involved with an estate where the individual has died without a Will, otherwise known as ‘intestate’.

If you don’t make a Will, you are probably going to make a bunch of lawyers rich and possibly bequeath a lot of your money to the Government instead of your family. Do the unselfish thing, look after your family first and don’t leave them with the additional stress and costs of a legal minefield, on top of the grief that may accompany your demise.

So please, for the benefit of those left behind, just sort it out and finalise your estate matters; make a Will. Do it now and then forget about it so you can get on with the business of living with a little ‘peace of mind’ for you and your family?

While you’re at it, also make provision for those situations where you are alive but are incapable of making decisions for yourself due to health and sickness, either temporarily or permanently. Have the comfort of knowing that you have made provision for your family or loved ones to have control and manage your ‘health care’ and ‘personal affairs’ when you cannot.

That’s a far better outcome than doctors, lawyers and judges taking over (for large fees) and making decisions on your behalf that may never have been your wishes or those of your family. It would be nice to know that your family and those who have your best interests at heart are making important decisions for you instead of a bunch of people you probably don’t know or possibly will never meet.

Just do it, so everyone can rest in peace…Yes, and while you’re at it, donate your organs. I guarantee in perpetuity that you won’t need them.

12th November 2016