Archive for January 5th, 2015

Government-run terrorism insurance scheme’s unintended consequences are hampering businesses

The Sydney Morning Herald had an interesting story this morning about a federal government scheme which is designed to take over from insurance companies in the event of a terrorist incident.

Sydney retailers whose earnings were slashed by up to 70 per cent during the Martin Place siege face smaller insurance payouts if the siege is deemed a terrorism event, because a government body will step in to curb insurers’ losses.
[..]
Under legislation passed following the September 11 attacks in America, the federal Treasurer can declare certain events to be acts of terrorism for insurance purposes.

In those circumstances a federally funded body, the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation, can step in to assess the likely loss from the incident and, where necessary, reduce the scope of claim liability for insurers. The aim of the arrangement is to shield insurers from catastrophic losses and thus ensure they continue to offer the products.

(h/t Mathew Dunckley and Lisa Visentin, The Sydney Morning Herald)

The article goes on to quote a spokesperson from IAG who says the federal government’s decision, regardless of the decision, is unlikely to affect how IAG pays out claims for loss of trade, but completely ignores something which came up on 2GB this morning…the federal government scheme is designed to insure for loss of buildings and does not cover loss of trade, but is set up in such a way that it can effectively nullify any need for insurers to pay out any claims if the incident is declared to be an act of terrorism. This is currently delaying the processing of claims with some insurers as they wait to see if they will need to pay anything, and has the potential to leave some businesses seriously out of pocket despite paying for insurance for exactly this type of event.

It’s just another example of how governments interfering with private business arrangements often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences, partially because governments rarely understand the private sector well enough to write rules which work, partially because governments take time to process things which cause debilitating delays to the private sector which doesn’t have the benefit of ongoing funding from taxpayers, and also because such rules are so often filled with easily exploited loopholes which bureaucrats often can’t anticipate because they’re not familiar with life outside the public sector.

I wrote an email to 2GB’s Luke Grant (who is currently filling in for Ray Hadley and Chris Smith across the middle of the day) about this shortly after he conducted an interview (from memory I think it was with Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association, Update: It was, and audio of the interview is on 2GB’s website End Update) on the topic.

Good morning Luke,

This terrorism insurance debacle is a perfect example of the unintended consequences which occur when a well-intentioned government interferes with private business dealings.

It’s amazing that with so many bureaucrats writing the rules, government terrorism insurance for building loss can somehow nullify private “loss of trade” insurance, and nobody in government sees the problem. Unfortunately it’s all too common that bureaucrats who live in government land rather than the real world cause such a mess, and of course the private insurers don’t oppose the measures when the government makes them because they can see just how much money they’ll save.

It’s a mess which would never occur if governments kept their noses out rather than interfering with every little thing.

Regards,
Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra, Australia

In this case the good intention of the government was to ensure insurance companies don’t go under while trying to pay out terrorism-related claims. Unfortunately, as is usually the case with such bailout type programs, it ignores the simple economic fact that if a product can’t be offered viably at a price which people will pay, it probably shouldn’t exist, and certainly shouldn’t rely on some magical fallback position of a government bailout from finite taxpayer funds. Sadly it seems that far too many people and industries see the government as a magic pot of infinite money and forget that government money only exists because it is legally confiscated from people via taxation, and thus should be treated with more respect and not expected to be a magical fix for every ill.

Samuel

January 5th, 2015 at 12:49pm

Faster mobile broadband: one of the benefits of the analogue TV switch-off

One of the benefits which we are now starting to see from switching off analogue television is that radio frequencies previously needed for television can now be used for other purposes, such as expanding the amount of bandwidth available to mobile phone providers.

Telstra, Optus, and TPG have all bought some of this recently-vacated space on the 700MHz band, with Telstra and Optus switching on their new frequencies on January 1. Unfortunately, as with most of these launches of higher-speed mobile technologies, different carriers are implementing it differently, which means differing speeds and compatibilities among carriers. Regardless of that, 700MHz offers better range and building penetration than the common existing frequencies, and thus should improve coverage and reliability for people with phones which support it.

Telstra are using a system which increases speeds by having customers’ phones use both the 1800MHz and 700MHz frequencies concurrently. Very few phones currently support this (the short version being that if you own a phone and aren’t sure if it supports it, it probably doesn’t…you’d almost certainly know if it did). The speeds on offer are quite impressive though, with 150Mbps on the download side and 40Mbps on the upload side (that’s megabits per second, just like the speeds advertised for wired internet connections…divide it by eight to see megabytes per seconds).

A handful more phones (including iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy S5) support using the 700MHz frequency without coupling it to another frequency, and for them speeds of 80Mbps for downloads and 40Mbps for uploads under good conditions are reasonable.

Optus are using the latter option of using 700MHz on its own and thus their best speeds are more compatible with more phones, but unfortunately they have rolled this out to less places than Telstra at this stage.

The good news for those of us on phones which do not support the new frequency is that both Telstra and Optus are upgrading the backhaul networks to cope with the greater promised speeds, and this means greater capacity even on the older 3G and 4G frequencies, which should improve speeds to some extent on these older technologies, especially in places which become quite congested.

As far as coverage for the new 700MHz networks go, the basic rule of thumb is capital cities are covered, and major regional centres are covered. Telstra have gone to some length to spell out which areas are covered by them, while Optus have been a bit less forthcoming, probably so as to avoid a press release from Telstra pointing out which locations covered by Telstra are not covered by Optus.

Optus coverage 700MHz coverage (courtesy of Gizmodo):

Optus’ release quotes David Epstein, Vice President, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs at Optus stating that “We are improving our 4G network today with 700MHz in parts of the Sydney CBD, Chatswood and Eastern Suburbs; Brisbane CBD, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts; Adelaide CBD, Melbourne CBD, Geelong, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula; plus Hobart CBD, Perth CBD, Claremont and Cottlesloe. Whether you are in Armidale or Sydney in New South Wales, Townsville or Brisbane in Queensland, Ceduna or Adelaide in South Australia, or Wangaratta or Melbourne in Victoria, with the right device Optus 4G will have you covered as our network expands”

Telstra’s 700MHz coverage, again courtesy of Gizmodo (although I should note this list indicates which towns were to receive coverage as of January 2, and while it probably includes towns which received it on January 1, I can’t be entirely sure that it does)

ACT

Canberra: Kinlyside, Ainslie, Lyneham, Dickson, Downer, Hackett, Bruce, Belconnen, Kingston, Fyshwick, Symonston, Narrabundah, Red Hill, O’Connor, Giralang, Yarralumla, Deakin, Barton, Campbell, Parkes, Acton, Capital Hill, Pialligo, Forrest
Turner, Braddon, Canberra CBD, Reid, Banks, Charnwood, Dunlop, Evatt, Florey, Flynn, Fraser, Hall, Latham, Melba, Page, Scullin,
Spence, Lawson, McKellar, Bonython, Chisholm, Gordon, Gowrie, Greenway, Isabella Plains, Monash, Richardson, Russell, Watson,
 Chisholm

NSW

Cessnock: Loxford

Cooma: Polo Flat

Dubbo: Dubbo

Dungog: Dungog

Forster Tuncurry: Tuncurry

Maitland: Windermere, Aberglasslyn, Anambah, Bolwarra, Gosforth, Lorn, Melville, Mount Dee, Oakhampton, Rutherford, Telarah, Windella, Horseshoe Bend, Morpeth, Oswald, Raworth, Beresfield, Metford, Pitnacree, Maitland, South Maitland

Milton Ulladulla: Mollymook, Mollymook Beach

Mittagong: Aylmerton, Braemar

Narellan: Oran Park

Newcastle: The Junction, Wickham, Georgetown, The Hill, Bar Beach, Hamilton East, Tarro, Cooks Hill, Broadmeadow, Hamilton, Tighes Hill, Hamilton North, Islington, Maryville, Mayfield East, Waratah, Newcastle CBD, Hamilton South, Newcastle West, Mayfield North, Newcastle East, Stockton
Queanbeyan: Queanbeyan West

Shoalhaven: Shoalhaven Heads

Singleton: Hambledon Hill, Gouldsville, Mount Thorley

Sydney: Alexandria, Barangaroo, Darlinghurst, Dawes Point, Eveleigh, Forest Lodge, Haymarket, Millers Point, Pyrmont, Rosebery, Ultimo, Edgecliff, McGraths Hill, Pitt Town, Pitt Town Bottoms, Vineyard, Glebe, Dulwich Hill, Birchgrove, Double Bay, Lewisham, Lidcombe, Newtown, Petersham, Rozelle, St Peters, Stanmore, Sydenham, Ashcroft, Cartwright, Hammondville, Hoxton Park, Lurnea, Macquarie Links, Miller, Sadleir, Wattle Grove, Annandale, Clontarf, Cremorne, Cremorne Point, Mosman, Cammeray, Mount Druitt, North St Marys, Rooty Hill, Tregear, Whalan, Oxley Park, Artarmon, Crows Nest, Greenwich, Lavender Bay, McMahons Point, Naremburn, Neutral Bay, North Sydney, Northwood, St Leonards, Waverton, Willoughby, Wollstonecraft, Woolwich, Auburn, Camellia, Constitution Hill, Granville, Harris Park, Holroyd, Mays Hill, Merrylands, North Parramatta, Oatlands, Parramatta, Pemulwuy, Pendle Hill, Rosehill, Rydalmere, South Granville, South Wentworthville, Telopea, Westmead, Daceyville, Eastlakes, Kensington, Caringbah South, Maianbar, Yowie Bay, Watsons Bay, Waverley, Woollahra, Woolloomooloo, Bellevue Hill, Bondi Beach, Bondi Junction, Bronte, Centennial Park, Darling Point, Elizabeth Bay, Moore Park, North Bondi, Paddington, Point Piper, Potts Point, Queens Park, Redfern, Rose Bay, Tamarama, Vaucluse

Tamworth: Gidley, Taminda, Wallamore

Tweed: Pumpenbil

Wollongong: Port Kembla

QLD
Ayr: Home Hill

Brisbane: Browns Plains, Heritage Park, Meadowbrook, Munruben, Park Ridge, Park Ridge South, Regents Park, Shailer Park, South Brisbane, Ashgrove, Auchenflower, Boondall, Camp Mountain, Chelmer, Clayfield, Draper, Eagle Farm, Ferny Grove, Fitzgibbon, Fortitude Valley, Gaythorne, Gordon Park, Grange, Hamilton, Hendra, Herston, Indooroopilly, Lutwyche, Margate, Milton, Mitchelton, Newmarket, Newstead, Northgate, Paddington, Petrie Terrace, Pinkenba, Redcliffe, Samford Valley, Samford Village, Spring Hill, St Lucia, Taigum, Taringa, Toowong, Wights Mountain, Wilston, Windsor, Wooloowin, Zillmere, Annerley, Dutton Park, Fairfield, Highgate Hill, Tennyson, Woolloongabba, Yeerongpilly, Yeronga, Alexandra, Kangaroo Point, Craignish, Nundah, Karragarra Island, Lamb Island, Macleay Island, Balmoral, Bulimba, Coorparoo, East Brisbane, Greenslopes, Hawthorne,
Morningside, Norman Park, Oxley, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Sinnamon Park, Cordina, Graceville
Bundaberg: Kensington, Rubyanna
Central Queensland: Tieri

Gladstone: Barney Point, Gladstone Central

Gold Coast: Broadbeach, Broadbeach Waters, Mermaid Beach, Mermaid Waters, Maclean, Surfers Paradise, Wilsons Plains

Goondi: Goondi, Goondi Bend, Goondi Hill

Gympie: Victory Heights, Banks Pocket, Araluen

Hervey Bay: Beelbi Creek, Dundowran, Eli Waters, Toogoom
Innisfail: Belvedere, Cullinane, Hudson, Mighell, Mundoo, O’Briens Hill, Coolana, Harrisville, Lowood, Rifle Range, Tarampa, Wivenhoe Pocket

Mackay: Beaconsfield

Mt Isa: Happy Valley, Healy, Kalkadoon, Lanskey, Menzies, Mica Creek, Miles End, Mornington, Parkside, Pioneer, Ryan, Soldiers Hill, Sunset,Town View, Winston

Rockhampton: Bangalee, Berserker, Frenchville, Koongal, Lammermoor, Park Avenue, Wandal

Sunshine Coast: Alexandra Headland, Sunshine Coast Regional Districts, Twin Waters, Minyama, Mountain Creek, Buddina, Marcoola ,Pacific Paradise, Point Arkwright, Valdora, Parrearra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, West Woombye, Sunrise Beach

Toowoomba: Blue Mountain Heights, College View, Crowley Vale, East Toowoomba, Lawes, Mount Kynoch, Postmans Ridge, Prince Henry Heights, Rangeville, Redwood, Rockville, South Toowoomba, Spring Bluff, Toowoomba, Withcott

Townsville: Castle Hill, Cluden, Condon, Gulliver, Heatley, Kirwan, Mount Louisa, Rasmussen, Thuringowa Central, Vincent

VIC

Albury Wodonga: Albury, East Albury, Lavington, North Albury, West Albury, South Albury

Ballarat: Alfredton, Bakery Hill, Ballarat, Ballarat East, Ballarat North, Black Hill, Bonshaw, Cambrian Hill, Canadian, Delacombe, Eureka, Golden Point, Invermay Park, Lake Gardens, Lake Wendouree, Magpie, Mount Clear, Mount Pleasant, Newington, Redan, Sebastopol, Soldiers Hill, Wendouree

Bendigo: Flora Hill, Golden Gully, Golden Square, Kangaroo Flat, North Bendigo, Quarry Hill, Spring Gully
Berwick: Cora Lynn, Garfield, Tynong, Vervale, Burnewang
Campaspe: Carag Carag, Colbinabbin, Corop

Castlemaine: Harcourt

Eastern Melbourne: Derrimut

Geelong: Bell Park, Belmont, Breakwater, Drumcondra, East Geelong, Geelong CBD, Geelong West, Manifolds Heights, Marshall, Moolap, Newcomb, Norlane, North Geelong, Rippleside, South Geelong, St Albans Park, Whittington

Hamilton: Mortlake

Kyneton: Woodend North

Melbourne: Narre Warren North, Ardeer, Albert Park, Balaclava, Caulfield North, Elsternwick, Elwood, Middle Park, Port Melbourne, Ripponlea, South Melbourne, St Kilda, St Kilda East, Bangholme, Frankston, Skye, Newport, Wandin North, Footscray, Seddon, Spotswood, West Footscray, Yarraville, Kingsville, South Kingsville ,Williamstown North, Abbotsford, Carlton, Carlton North, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, East Melbourne, Fitzroy, Fitzroy North, Parkville, Princes Hill, Richmond, Southbank, West Melbourne, Aberfeldie, Ascot Vale, Flemington, Kensington, Moonee Ponds, Travancore, Braeside, Melbourne Airport, Aspendale Gardens, Bonbeach, Chelsea, Chelsea Heights, Edithvale, Waterways, Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Bittern, Boneo, Crib Point, McCrae, Merricks Beach, Rosebud, Rosebud West, Sorrento, Heatherton, Moorabbin Airport, Alphington, Fairfield, Northcote, Kew, Hawthorn, Hawthorn East, Armadale, Burnley, Kooyong, Malvern, Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak, Windsor, Albion, Cairnlea, Clarinda, Mernda

TAS

Hobart: Austins Ferry, Barretta, Battery Point, Bellerive, Chigwell, Claremont, Dennes Point, Dowsing Point, Dynnyrne, Electrona, Flowerpot, Gagebrook, Glenorchy, Howden, Howrah, Huntingfield, Killora, Lawitta, Leslie Vale, Lindisfarne, Montrose, Mornington, Mount Nelson, Mount Stuart, New Norfolk, , Oakdowns, Old Beach, Opossum Bay, Otago, Rosetta, Rosny, Rosny Park, Sandy Bay, Tinderbox, Tolmans Hill, Tranmere, West Moonah

Launceston: Blackwall, East Launceston, Invermay, Launceston, Mayfield, Mowbray, Newnham, Newstead, Norwood, Prospect, Prospect Vale, Ravenswood, South Launceston, Youngtown
Devonport: Ambleside, Miandetta, South Spreyton, Spreyton, Tarleton

NT

Alice Springs: Alice Springs

Darwin: Bakewell, Bayview, Bellamack, Coolalinga, Darwin International Airport, Driver, Durack, East Side, Fannie Bay, Gray, Hughes, Larrakeyah, Leanyer, Muirhead, Parap, Pinelands, Sadadeen, Stuart Park, The Gap, The Gardens, Tivendale, Uralla, Winnellie, Wishart, Wulagi

SA

Adelaide: Collinswood, Gilberton, Walkerville, St Morris, Trinity Gardens, Evandale, Marden, Glynde, Felixstow, Payneham, Payneham South, Firle, Tranmere, Magill, Wayville, Everard Park, Black Forest, Frewville, Parkside, Eastwood, Glenunga, Toorak Gardens, Glenside, Linden Park, Stonyfell, Beaumont, Rose Park, Beulah Park, Kent Town, Heathpool, Kensington, College Park, Hackney, Joslin, Royston Park, Auldana, Rosslyn Park, Dulwich, St Peters, Clarence Park, Ashford, Glandore, Kurralta Park, North Plympton, Plympton, Mitcham, Lynton, Torrens Park, Para Hills West, Parafield, Evanston, Evanston Gardens, Evanston Park, Elizabeth, North Adelaide, Elizabeth East, Para Hills, Glanville, Birkenhead, Peterhead, Exeter, Moana, Seaford Rise, Sellicks Beach, Hindmarsh, Thebarton, Torrensville

Coober Pedy: Thevenard

Hamley: Hamley

Murray Bridge: Mobilong

Port Lincoln: Hawson

Port Pirie: Port Pirie South, Risdon Park South

Riverlands: Golden Heights, Holder, Ramco, Ramco Heights, Waikerie

The Barossa: Gawler West, Reid, Tanunda, Bethany, Vine Vale, Light Pass

Whyalla: Whyalla Playford, Mullaquana, Whyalla Norrie, Kimba

Yorke Peninsula: Kooroona, Moonta, Moonta Bay, North Moonta, Port Hughes

WA

Albany: Centennial Park, Frenchman Bay, Lange, Lockyer, Milpara, Mira Mar, Orana, Walmsley, Collingwood Heights, Spencer Park, Yakama, Vancouver Peninsula

Busselton: Geographe, Reinscourt

Forrestdale: Forrestdale

Kalgoorlie: Somerville, South Kalgoorlie, Kalgoorlie, Piccadilly, West Lamington, Boulder, Victory Heights
Mandurah: Parklands, Greenfields, Coodanup, Dudley Park

Perth: Gingin, Maylands, Bedford, Inglewood, Mt Hawthorn, Highgate, East Perth, North Perth, Coolbinia, Menora, Mt Lawley, Glendalough, Osborne Park, Herdsman, Churchlands, Tuart Hill, Joondanna, Yokine, West Perth, Kings Park, West Leederville, Leederville, Shenton Park, Daglish, Crawley, Nedlands, Claremont, Mt Claremont, Karrakatta, Mount Clarence, Wembley, Jolimont

Perth South: Oldbury, Applecross, Mt Pleasant, Casuarina, Mandogalup, Postans, Wandi, Anketell, The Spectacles

Southern Perth: Lathlain, Victoria Park, Burswood, East Victoria Park, Rivervale, Redcliffe, Ascot, ,Kensington, Como, Karawara

I suppose we can be thankful that the problems with analogue television were a characteristic of the technology and not the frequency, because I dare say not many people would be very excited about receive high-speed fuzzy, ghosting Internet plagued with static and stuck in a 4:3 aspect ratio…although it would be fun to see one of the carriers thrust such a thing upon customers for a few hours on April Fools’ Day.

Samuel

January 5th, 2015 at 07:09am

Shortland Street on a 7two hiatus until February

One of my guilty pleasures is the often comical New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street. Of late, 7two has been airing it roughly 31 months behind New Zealand television (and catching up slowly, I think) with episodes from May 2012 airing in the last few weeks.

Unfortunately as 7two will be filled with tennis for most of the day for the next four weeks, Shortland Street will not be on. The tennis tends not to clash with Shorty’s 9:30am airing in the AEDT timezone, but does in other timezones and so will not be airing, as this would cause some states to either be out-of-sync or miss out on episodes completely, and the overnight 4:30am-ish replay often clashes with 7two replaying old tennis matches.

For poor Dr. Chris Warner this means another month in prison while he waits to see if anyone can prove that he didn’t kill Hayley, and for me it means a month without such amusing low-budget shenanigans as the helicopter crash from the show’s 20th anniversary episodes which aired over the last few weeks on 7two.

Oh well, I suppose a month without Shortland Street gives me some extra time in my day to devote to other things, such as my dogs and this blog.

Update January 8: It looks like Shortland Street will be back a week earlier than I thought. January 26, Australia Day. I can’t thoroughly confirm this yet, but I’ll keep you posted. End Update
Update January 15: It is now confirmed by Seven’s advance schedules that Shortland Street returns on January 26 at 9:30am. The late night replay does not return in that week due to continued late night tennis replays. End Update

Samuel

3 comments January 5th, 2015 at 05:31am


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