Why invest in our housing, MPs ask China

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A delegation from the House of Representatives ­economics committee will today begin a week-long visit to China where it will canvass the growing investment in Australia’s residential housing by cashed-up Chinese investors, reports Phillip... Hudson in The Australian 29/7.

Australia still does not maintain proper records of foreign investment in housing farms and all other real estate, including investment by companies owned by the Chinese communist government. Nor has the promised register of such investment has not yet been established.

Phillip Heath Hudson reports that Australia and China enter the final stages of negotiating a free trade agreement and ahead of President Xi Jinping’s planned state visit to Australia in November. In these negotiations Australia has little to offer as previous government shave unilaterally given these away. The Chinese will expect even more.

''The delegation is being led by committee chair, Kelly O’Dwyer, who is joined by fellow Liberals Peter Hendy and Scott Buchholz and Labor’s Pat Conroy.''.

The trip coincides with the committee’s inquiry into foreign investment in real estate which is being held amid community claims that wealthy non-resident Chinese investors are buying up housing and forcing up prices.

The committee has heard evidence that the Chinese were the biggest real estate investors, spending $5.9bn last year.

It also comes amid scrutiny about the rules covering investment in Australia by Chinese state owned enterprises.

This is not the reason for the trip but the MPs will have the chance to get China’s perspective about the sensitive foreign investment issues.

Ms O’Dwyer said on the issue of state-owned enterprises, it would be useful for the debate in Australia for the committee to “understand better the way they make investment decisions”.

And on the question of Chinese investment in housing, she said the trip would provide the ­opportunity to ask relevant questions to Chinese banks.

“It is not the purpose of the trip but it provides the opportunity to explore and understand matters more fully,” she said.

“I’m interested in exploring what happens in China. For example, are non-resident foreign investors able to purchase property in China?”

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Mortgages Available in Aisle 4

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Are the grocery juggernauts beyond control? The Australian grocery market is among the most concentrated in the Western world, with Coles and Woolworths controlling 92% of the $111 billion retail food market. With the connivance of the politicians, the chains also are acquiring larger slices of the petrol and liquor markets.

Having made a vigorous entry into the insurance industry, Coles is now teaming up with with GE Capital Australia to offer credit cards and “personal finance products” to its 8.8 million customers. In a statement announcing the joint venture, Coles said the partnership would “deliver innovative financial services to the Australian market … with the additional value and benefits of Flybuys’ award-winning loyalty program, including money off your groceries at Coles.”

As yet there has been no indication that Coles will be offering mortgages, but only the naive would assume its ambitions will see no a further expansion. Wherever the grocery giants see potential in  leveraging their dominance of the grocery market to move into other areas it is a sure bet they will — unless, of course, politicians and regulators show some backbone and do their jobs.

The grocery mammoths have already used their market dominance to damage and destroy competition, and to extract near-monopoly prices from consumers and suppliers.

Let’s be very clear about what is happening. Prices paid to farmers and processors are pushed down, not to benefit consumers but to enrich the Big Two. It is elementary that, without real competition, the firms will lift consumer prices, the direct consequence being that Australian consumers pay higher prices than in most other comparable markets.

The politicians made their position very clear when, in 2006, a bill was introduced to allow  shopper-docket discounts. The politicians allowed this when a retailer provides discounts to a supermarket customer for, say, petrol or liquor purchased at an outlet owned by the retailer.

The petrol discount is a sleight of hand, a confidence trick. We pay more at the grocery outlet to get  discounts at the petrol station. Once the independent petrol retailers have been forced out of business, prices will go up sure as supermarket eggs.

Surely the politicians knew their decision would drive out of business independent petrol stations and liquor stores. Indeed, it is hard to believe it was designed to do precisely that? So why was it introduced and passed? Was it incompetence, or was it that our politicians wish to destroy small business?

The latest move is for Coles to use its market power to enter the financial market. Using the shopper-docket precedent, consumers will pay more for groceries to facilitate the illusion that credit cards are cheaper. Next, expect a move into home mortgages. And, once they have dealt with the competition, they’ll make sure you’ll pay more for your mortgages.

Will our politicians and regulators allow this? Past experience suggests they will — another reason to make politicians truly accountable.

[This article was first published on Quadrant Online: http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2014/07/mortgages-available-aisle-4/]

Don't shoot the messenger, Mr Palmer

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Malcolm Fraser claims the return of illegal immigrants to the Sri Lankan navy is similar to the handing of the Jews to the Nazis. In saying this Fraser seriously belittles the holocaust and the crimes of the Hitler regime.
The action of the Australian government is fully in accord with international and Australian law. Were this not so their are avenues to test this.
The Australian are overwhelming supportive of the government doing its duty - protecting our maritime boundaries.
As Gerard Henderson points out in The Australian, too many political figures are resorting to classifying legitimate opposition to their agendas as fascism of communism. Clive Palmer took this to a new level when he attacked the advice of an official of the parliament on a constitutional issue as a Stalinist attempt to veto the actions of PUP senators.
The position is that financial bills cannot be initiated in the Senate. That was decided by our founders as a recognition of the Westminster principle that governments are formed in the popular house, not the states house or Senate.
In recent times the PUP has twice been thwarted by this provision.
It is reasonable to expect that those seeking political office should have an elementary understanding of the position they have sought. If they haven' t they should seek advice. When they receive it they should not, as Mr Palmer did, seek to shoot the messenger.

Gaza: violent theocrats, criminal kleptocrats

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It's the fanatical men who run Hamas, and who have grossly enriched themselves who are the cause of the civilian deaths in Gaza, not Israel.
You wouldn't think so from much of the Western media. As the Israeli prime minister says, Israel uses missiles to protect people. Hamas uses people to protect missiles.
What government could not rise to defend its population when rockets are raining down on them daily?
Now leading American lawyer Alan Dershowitz reminds us that it is the violent theocrats and criminal kleptocrats of Hamas echo are the enemy go the Gaza people, not Israel.

100 Days - Claiming Back New Zealand

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Our friends across the Tasman are also concerned by the unaccountable politicians who are taking major decisions without even consulting the people.

To often those decisions would not pass the "pub test". The pub test is simply shorthand for the common sense, good judgement and basic decency we believe rank-and-file citizens possess.

The great organisation, 100 Days, which has so inspired us, is leading the call in New Zealand for reforms which will make the country as democratic as Switzerland is. We wish them well.

Read more: http://100daystodemocracy.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/what-have-they-done-to-our-country-ukip-and-us/