As Christmas approaches, many Australians will be planning to donate to charity.
Few would realise, however, the incredible damage the Gillard government is about to unleash on the sector with the advent of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC), expected at some point before the end of the year.
The ACNC will force charities to adhere to a raft of new tax and compliance requirements, dissuade people from becoming involved with charities and turn people off from donating.
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This week, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, the Federal Opposition and Australia’s leading industry lobby group all armed themselves with sharp cutting implements to confront a menacing threat to the nation’s future: tape.
We’re not just talking about run of the mill tape, either. None of this clear, transparent, colourless, odourless stuff. It’s tape of colour that’s got everybody worried sick. Apparently, the entire country is being held back by brightly coloured bits of plastic. Particularly of the red and green varieties, the ghastly cyan scourge of blue tape having yet to infringe on our precious freedoms.
Even the PM joined in the tape-bashing yesterday. All that onerous red tape needs to be scissored, STAT! But what has tape, a humble piece of material that possesses a variety of stick- and non-stick uses, really done to deserve being endlessly abused as a metaphor for government regulation?
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Poor old Wayne Swan! He may be the world’s best treasurer but he can’t get the big banks to be nice to consumers.
It’s a bit like the world’s best dad asking a family member to behave or be nice to the other members of the household. And that’s the point. We have four big banks that, despite being valued members of society or the Australian “family,” are being self-centred and not very nice to consumers or the Australian household.
We then have a federal Treasurer and PM who are supposed to be guardians of the Australian household or economy being ignored by the big banks. And that’s after the federal Treasurer has been so nice to the big banks.
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Finally, we have a government willing to stand up for small business in the face of hysterical opposition from the big end of town and their legal advisers.
Last week the South Australian Labor Government successfully got its small business commissioner reforms through the Parliament. Those reforms had been subject to a frenzied attack by elements of the big end of town and their legal advisers. Despite such a self-interested and panic-stricken campaign the reforms secured the numbers in the South Australian Upper House.
Like most Upper Houses in Australia, the SA Legislative Council is a place where the Government lacks the numbers and, accordingly, needs to convince the minor parties and independents of the merits of all government initiatives.
We live in an environment where alcohol is under siege.
Every day we are assailed with stories of glassings, drunken and rampaging footballers, binge drinking and all manner of other incidents pointing to an alcohol-fuelled end of civilisation.
Every day our politicians are making new suggestions about how to solve the problem, including today’s suggestion from the Prime Minister: confronting advertising campaigns to warn young Australians about the dangers of excessive drinking.
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Before the election, in the May 2007 budget in reply speech, Rudd the Regulator stated “I have already announced our intention in government of adopting a simple principle: no new regulation imposed on business unless an existing regulation is withdrawn”.
So how is Mr Rudd going with this promise? According to the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments on the Comlaw website, in 2008 – 4699 new legislative instruments were added and in 2009 till the end of September – 3699 new legislative instruments were added.
That’s 8398 new forms of select legislative instruments, statutory rules and regulation.
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Sometimes you have to feel sorry for the Government. On the one hand they are constantly criticised for making laws that are cumbersome, unwieldy, hard to enforce and costly for business to comply with.
But on the other, no sooner is a law passed and no matter how plain the spirit and intention of that law, there is someone trying to find a loophole to get around it. This leaves the government having to close the loophole, followed by someone trying to get around the new law which, in turn leads to – well – cumbersome and unwieldy laws.
It’s also a process that often produces the opposite result to that intended. A classic example of the syndrome is the evolution of the United States military’s purchasing specification for biscuits in the 1980s.
Whatever you do, don’t watch the above ad before you drive home. You might turn into a maniac and start aiming at bus queues. Happily, the car advertisements of the not too distant future will feature a middle-aged dad in a beige cardigan and a mum in a twin set, and a couple of kiddies lashed into ergonomic capsules and wearing crash helmets for added protection.
They will be putt-putting along in the non-fast lane at 47kmh as the ad extols the car’s safety features and ability to get you from A to B. There will be no mention of how much fun the car is to drive, how it handles corners, how quickly it can go from nought to 100, how it’s got racy bucket seats, beautiful zippy lines, a cracker of a stereo or a monstrous donk under the bonnet.
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While everyone knows about the current financial crisis, few people know of Australia’s other crisis.
That other crisis involves the growing over-concentration of key markets in the economy and how our competition laws are impotent to deal with the growing crisis.
That crisis is already having a major negative impact on consumers and the economy through such things as higher food prices and higher bank fees.
Sadly, if this is not properly handled the negative impact will continue long after the current financial crisis is a distant memory.
So, what lies at the heart of this other crisis? To understand that, it’s important to go back to basics.
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