Carbon tax – what it means for property


carbon taxEveryone is jostling for space in the carbon tax debate this week. Cate. Michael. And even Ross Cameron, a former Liberal MP known for campaigning on morals, and then proving, Clinton-style, that he didn’t walk the talk, and losing his Federal seat as a result.

Among those in the ear of the Federal Government is the Housing Industry Association, which has declared its opposition. It argues that a tax on carbon emissions will flow through to adversely affect all building products and all sectors of the construction industry.

"Building product manufacturers and new home buyers across Australia will be the hardest hit by a carbon tax," says HIA’s chief executive, Graham Wolfe.

"There will be an immediate and inevitable flow through of cost increases across the broad range of building materials, products, fixtures and fittings," says Wolfe.

Wolfe says at $20 per tonne, a carbon tax will add an extra $6000 or more to the cost of building an average new residence, placing additional affordability pressure on new housing activity, and adding $43 extra per month to family mortgage repayments.

"That adds a further $12,800 in repayments over a 25-year loan," Wolfe says.

The HIA estimates that constructing the average new home and land package involves the emission of about 240 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

And Wolfe argues that $6000 – or about $12,000 if the price was to be $40 a tonne of carbon – could, for some people, be the straw that breaks the banks’ willingness to lend to someone building a home.

"There are a lot of people who don’t have a house who can’t afford to buy a house who are saving as quickly and mightily as they can but they can’t get across the line because they can’t get the deposit together. I’m not going to dismiss $6000 as being a small amount of money that should not have some consequence on the cost impact of … a new home."

But Wolfe concedes that the amount of carbon emitted during building could well come down – and is already doing so.

"Some of the steel manufacturers and the aluminium manufacturers, the cement manufacturers are already increasing the efficiencies of their production line," he says. "That is happening now, whether or not this makes it happen any faster, in time we might see the result of that. Efficiencies in carbon footprints are being improved all the time in any case."

He also says, should makers of steel, aluminium, cement and other building products be compensated, that could reduce the impact of a carbon tax on people building homes. "If there is a compensation for [manufacturers] … then the cost increases won’t be as significant. So the $6000 might be a little less. "

While the HIA has made up its mind that a carbon tax is a bad idea, pointing out that it could make people look for cheaper non-taxed products from offshore, not everyone in the building industry agrees.

Cameron Rosen, the director of sustainable building consultancy Australian Living, who has recently built four eight-star homes in Sydney’s east, says a carbon tax would not necessarily cost more.

"Sure if you think old school, prices are going to up, but if you think new school, prices should come down," Rosen says. "I think it opens up the doors for innovation to come alive."

Rosen says a carbon tax could push builders to investigate more efficient building systems, that reduce waste, and open up the potential to integrate ideas from the commercial building sector.

On his recent build, Rosen used concrete from Boral that has a high recycled content. Doing so saved 13 tonnes of carbon emissions per home.

Rosen also says if a carbon tax pushes up the energy efficiency of new homes, people could save thousands of dollars on electricity and gas.

"About 38 per cent of our energy consumption goes to heating and cooling. It’s the biggest amount of our energy expenditure and, through good design, you can wipe that 38 per cent out [or get close to it]."

Story by Carolyn Boyd

Gillard to push ahead with web censorship


gillard A change of Prime Minister is not enough to kill off one of the most stupid ideas of the 21st century.

It had been thought that when  Julia Gillard took over the Australian government that she would allow a little bit of common sense to happen in Aussie politics.
However, it seems that Gillard is cut from the same mold which believes that Australians are precious snowflakes who need protection from the rest of the world.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she is going to press ahead with plans to filter the internet Chinese style and cut Australians from a stream of information that the government thinks is too dangerous for them.

n Julia Gillard’s first comments on the filter since becoming Prime Minister, she told ABC Radio in Darwin that the proposal was an effort to control the dark side of communications technology.

Again she drummed up the image of child porn and abuse which she claims you are able to see on the Internet but for some reason cannot see in a movie theatre.  No we didn’t get the link either.

Gillard indicated that the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, might tweak parts of the proposed filter before it is introduced. But given Conroy’s own spittle reactionary approach to web censorship is legendary, Australians who actually want to use the Internet like ordinary citizens of the world will probably have to vote the Labour government out.

Unfortunately the Australian opposition has yet to announced that it is against the filter. It seems that the government feels that there is a chance here to control citizens through net use and although the opposition does not want to be the one to make the unpopular move, it also sees the advantage of not dismantling it.
After all, what government would not like to control the information that citizens get on contentious issues such as abortion and human rights?
Gillard admitted that there were technical concerns that Conroy’s filters will slow the Aussie internet down and will take away legitimate use of the internet.
Gillard’s comments have won backing from the Christian group FamilyVoice Australia.

Spokeswoman, Ros Phillips, said she was ”delighted” the government’s position was being maintained.

However given that christian groups in Australia look at the internet as created by Satan as a method to draw people to the anti-christ we can’t see how they can be taken seriously.

There had been hopes that Gillard’s rule of the Labour Party would be a move to common sense.  However it appears that she is exactly like her predecessor.   Hopefully the Australian people will show that they do not want this sort of censorship in their lives and vote against any party that tries to bring it in.  Don’t hold your  breath though.

Story by Nick Farrell

Swan hands down first part of tax reform


skynews_2072109239 Low-income workers, people coming up to retirement and small business are the main winners in the federal government’s first wave of tax reform.

The Henry tax review finally saw the light of day on Sunday after four months of consideration by Treasurer Wayne Swan.

There weren’t the sweeping changes that had widely been speculated, but superannuation, corporate tax and small business all received a positive shake-up.

These proposals, however, hinge on resource companies and the states agreeing to a new way of taxing miners – a 40 per cent Resource Super Profits Tax.

The impact of these entire measures will add 0.7 per cent to economic growth over the long run and lift wages by 1.1 per cent, or the equivalent of $450 per year for the average paid worker.

Mr Swan, addressing reporters in the media lock-up in Canberra, said the government’s response to the review was an ‘ambitious challenge for long term reform’.

‘For better super, less tax for business, especially small business … and 21st century infrastructure,’ Mr Swan said.

‘It will insure all Australians get a fairer share of the (resources) boom.’

From 2013/14, the superannuation guarantee will increase to 9.25 per cent from a long-standing 9.0 per cent and then rise incrementally to 12 per cent by 2019/20.

The super guarantee will also be extended to 75 year olds, up from 70 at present.

The government will provide a super contribution of up to $500 annually to those earning under $37,000, while retaining the current co-contribution scheme.

Also workers aged 50 and over with a super balance below $500,000 will be able to make additional payments into their super of up to $50,000 at a concessional rate, benefiting 275,000 people.

These measures will cost $2.4 billion over the next four years, but will add some $85 billion to Australia’s superannuation pool over the next 10 years.

‘This plan means that working families in the future will have to worry less about their retirement,’ Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told reporters in the lock-up.

The corporate tax rate for the nation’s small businesses will also be cut to 28 per cent from 2012/13 – and incrementally to that level for big business by 2014/15.

The rate has been 30 per cent since 2001.

Small business red tape will also be cut with an ‘instant asset write-off’ on assets under $5,000, compared with $1,000 now.

Additional the government is setting up a state infrastructure fund that will permanently support support spending on road, ports and railways with government contributing $700 million in 2012/13 and more than $5.6 billion over the next decade.

However, all these initial measures will be dependent on the government’s 40 per cent Resource Super Profits tax starting in July 2012.

The states will be able to keep their existing royalties, but the commonwealth will refund these payments to the companies.

‘Our resources belong to all Australians, and so they do deserve a fair share,’ Mr Swan said.

‘These are very significant steps in a decade long process of reform.’

He said he would make further announcements in the coming months, but ruled out a number of recommendations that were made by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s review team, including changes to concessions on capital gains tax and negative gearing.

He also again ruled out changing the rate of GST or broadening its base.

Original Story from & Skynews

Internet Filter Not Censorship Says Conroy

Stephen ConroyI don’t know about you, but that old saying about if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it must be a duck, certainly rings true to me and everyone else it seems with the exception of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on the proposed Internet filter for all Australians being planned by the Rudd government.

Conroy, speaking at The Sydney Institute on Monday has described the planned mandatory internet filter as a modest regulatory measure,whilst critics believe it is mandatory censorship, being imposed on all Australians by the federal government.

The Obama administration in the US has already raised concerns about the proposed filter, saying it flies in the face of their policy of a free and open internet, here’s the link to that story if you’d like to read what the US government thinks of Rudd’s plans.

Here’s more of the story on Conroy’s speech:

“The internet is an incredible piece of technology and in our lifetime it’s unlikely we’ll see anything like it again,” he said.

“But for all its technical brilliance, the internet is a distribution and communications platform.

“Having no regulation to combat illegal activity actually weakens all that is good about the internet.”

The federal government’s $128.8 million Cyber Safety policy includes legislation to block access to certain websites and blacklist offensive material.

The policy has been widely criticised by internet and software companies and free speech supporters.

But Senator Conroy said it can’t remain largely unregulated.

“With great opportunity, comes even greater responsibility, and having sensible, appropriate protections in place is also the role of government,” he said.

“There are some who want to argue that on the internet, people should be able to publish anything they like – regardless of whether it contravenes laws in the off-line world.”

Senator Conroy said ISP level filtering alone was not enough to help fight child pornography or keep children safe online, which was why the government supported the block of content such as child sexual abuse imagery and material advocating terrorism.

“This is a modest measure, which reflects long held community standards about the type of content that is unacceptable in a civilised society,” he said.

“Those who claim the government’s approach is akin to the sort of political censorship practiced by authoritarian regimes are simply misleading the Australian public.”

Original Story appeared on Ninemsn