Archive for May 9th, 2007

Letter To The Editor: Praise for the budget

It looks like Maritz (I could have been certain there was an S and another R in that name), a seemingly very polite Russian lady who has recently been emailing various radio presenters, has found this website due to a photo of 2UE presenter Paul Makin, and would like to share her thoughts about the federal budget with us. I was tempted to add this as a comment to my budget editorial, but Maritz has put so much effort in to her letter, and sent it to letters@samuelgordonstewart.com, that it should get front page prominence as a Letter To The Editor.

Dear Mr. Samuel,

I have been writing this email and the similar ones to the good people on the 2UE and the 2CC but I do not have the blog and would like people to see it in the fullness please. I found you by the picture of the lovely Mr. Paul Makin from the 2UE and I hope you can be able to please be assiting of the helpfulness please. This I think is my better letter so far and it was to Mr. John Stanley earlier. He read some little bits of it which was nice, he made it clearer than I can.

I am writing to you to let you know of my thoughts about the nice budgets of the government man Mr. Costello last night.

As the lady previously from the Russia I feel very privileged to be in this country of the wealthyness to spend the money on the things that need the spending on them without causing the issued to the budgets. Many of the spendings are on the things of very good like education and roads, and the tax cuts and payments are the very nice as well. I think, although I have not been here for all of that long, that I Mr. Costello is the very clever man for all he has done.

I am becoming the citizen of this country in later month July and I think the budget from Mr. Costello provings that I have made the decision correctly for moving to this country.

Please be having a lovely day.

From Maritz

Ms Maritzkrozlavsky Throrglasnishozly

This is your chance to set the agenda on Samuel’s Blog, all you have to do is send a Letter To The Editor to letters@samuelgordonstewart.com. Your letter can be about almost anything, and it can be from any part of the opinion spectrum, as long as there is some point to your letter. I don’t have to agree with your letter, but I am moderating, so the usual no defamation etc rules apply. For more details click here.

Samuel

4 comments May 9th, 2007 at 02:19pm

Spare Movie Ticket – Hoyts Woden 7pm Tonight

Update: The ticket has been claimed. End Update

I know this is a bit short notice, but I have a spare ticket (courtesy of 2UE and 2CC’s At The Movies with Dale Sinden and Simon Foster, Sundays 6pm) to tonight’s 7pm screening of Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis and Halle Berry at Hoyts in Woden.

For some crazy reason I am opening up the offer to all of you, first one to request it by email to samuel@samuelgordonstewart.com gets the ticket.

The only condition is that you must be able to get to the cinema by 6:55pm, other than that you can do what you want, you don’t have to sit with me if you don’t want to…and if you’re really deranged you could even get the ticket and just walk out the door…although why you would do that is beyond me.

If I get no interest by 6:15pm then the offer is closed.

More details for the lucky recipient of the ticket.

Samuel

May 9th, 2007 at 01:34pm

Budget

Yesterday I made a few predictions about the federal budget, and in a moment I will check my accuracy on those predictions, but first my overall opinion on the budget. Generally I was quite pleased with the budget, the surplus was a bit bigger than I expected, and as such so was the amount of spending, most of the cuts to income tax were expected, although perhaps a bit bigger than I expected towards the top end of the scale, and I shudder to think how much money the government can afford to lose in tax from the top two income tax brackets.

I was pleased to see a bunch of one off payments to a lot of people who would fall in to the lower tax brackets instead of massive tax cuts there, as tax cuts are permanent (relatively speaking), they cost money this year, next year, the year after that, etc etc etc. A lot of the one off payments are an awful lot larger than any tax cut would have been, and on a one-off basis, are sustainable. There is a bit of election grandstanding going on here, but overall the payments were targeted at those who really deserve a helping hand, and were well thought out. (OK, so 2GB and 2CC’s Jason Morrison did convince me of that one a little bit…I was thinking roughly the same thing last night but Jason ran through the economic arguments a whole lot better than I ever could have).

I thought education did pretty well, increased opportunities for teachers to study, and incentives to do so, something I think a lot of reports have been showing is lacking. The “coupons for tuition” idea is absolutely brilliant, and possibly the first real, widespread initiative, to do something useful with the data from the years 3, 5, 7 and 9 testing and benchmarking of students literacy and numeracy testing (although year nine is excluded from the scheme, I did think it should be included for at least the first two years of the scheme…or is the ACT the only place to test in year nine?).

I am a bit sceptical of the merits of the “extra money for schools that have a large increase in student performance” scheme, or at least I was, then I thought about all of the distant schools, especially aboriginal communities who could benefit from this…now if we could just convince the states to actually maintain the schools properly.

The thing that really interested me though (and people who heard me talking to 2CC’s Mike Jeffreys at 7:40 this morning can skip this section as you’ve already heard most of it) was the automated online tax returns. For once the hansard people at Parliament House don’t have proof hansard online so I’m unable to quote what treasurer Peter Costello said, but I’ll do my best to explain it.

Basically instead of filling out forms or going through the whole E-Tax process you just go the ATO website, presumably login somehow (probably the same way you verify your identity with E-Tax) and you are presented with a pre-made tax return produced by a computer (although Mr. Costello would have you believe the commissioner writes them all). This tax return will (theoretically) have all of your income, Centrelink payments, bank interest…in fact everything you would normally find on your tax return. All you have to do is review it and, if you agree with it, click submit, otherwise you can modify it to what you believe is correct.

I can see this working in one of two ways. Either it will be based on the tax paperwork filed by your employer(s), Centrelink, bank etc, which would effectively mean you would lodge your tax return some time later in the decade, or it would be linked the the government’s favourite little project, the National Access Card, or as I like to call it the “National Not An ID Card”…this is about the only way I can see this working with any kind of efficiency. I’m not going to go in to the whole debate about the card here (although you can feel free in the comments), but on the whole, with the proper safeguards, I have no problems with it, and this would be not only a good practical way to provide an extra service to the public, it would help to cut down on tax fraud, and save a whole lot of time and money on processing tax returns from individuals, and verifying them against business records.

Now, how did I go with my predictions:
Tax cuts: Yes, but not as minor as expected, half a point.
Infrastructure: Well they had the already announced Murray-Darling basin funding, and there was some stuff about water tanks…half a point
Education: Looks like a full point there
Environment: Bob Brown said $4 billion, Peter Costello said $4.3 billion. Add in rounding and it looks like I was overly cynical. No points on that.
Total: 2 from 4 or 50%, not too bad, if this were high school it would have just made it through as a pass. Of course if I only talk about my original predictions it’s 2 from 3, which is 67%. On the whole, pretty good.

So to briefly summarise this for those of you who didn’t feel like reading all of that, I’m 95% happy with the budget…I would have preferred a bit more spending on infrastructure, but overall I thought it was a very sensible and balanced budget once again from Peter Costello and his staff. A hearty congratulations are in order here, so well done. I will, much like last year, send a letter to that effect shortly (although last time I did send an email).

For those of you waiting to see how the public reacts to this…next week’s Newspoll is a waste of time as most of it will be done before people have had a chance to work out what the budget means to them. The week after that will start to show a trend, but it’s the one after that which really counts. The predictions I’ve heard this morning indicate that if there is between about an 8-10% “two party preferred” swing to the coalition, we will see an August election, and the coalition will be almost unbeatable. (And this comes from people at both ends of the spectrum).

Time will tell.

Samuel

3 comments May 9th, 2007 at 09:13am

Photos

Please accept this as my temporary retirement from predicting when I will get things online. I suspect that fifteen cats fighting over a violin would be better at it than me.

Message from the cats: The Sydney photos will be online tonight and the series may be a day behind the latest schedule…but you were expecting that weren’t you?

Samuel

5 comments May 9th, 2007 at 08:14am

Cremation

Good morning Clive and Abe,

Further to this issue of being cremated and the fact that generally six people will be cremated at once and the ashes can't be sorted out, the only benefit I can see with cremation is that you get to annoy five other families for the rest of eternity…can you imagine being stuck with me for eternity? I think you'd go peculiar.

And if the ashes were spread on the backyard, the property would get sold every few months by deranged people. I don't think anybody could put up with me all the time…even I need a break sometimes.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra

May 9th, 2007 at 04:24am


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