CategoryPoverty & Wealth

Hands Down The Best Investment We Can Ever Make

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One of the most thrilling moments I have ever witnessed occurred during the Live8 concert in 2005. A giant screen displayed footage from the 1980s famine in Ethiopia. It was distressing. Mothers with eyes evacuated of hope cradling emaciated babies; children too weak to play sitting quietly on the dusty ground surrounded by death. The camera zoomed in on one baby girl, gaunt, listless and just...

On renovating my kitchen & upgrading my boat. What the producers of reality TV know that we don’t

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Sandy and I have watched the last few seasons of House Rules, a TV reality show in which couples renovate each other’s homes. What strikes me is that the attraction of the TV show is not the quality of the renovations produced – if it was we would not be watching amateurs do their thing – but the human drama. Will the couple whose home has been renovated like what they see? Will the...

The next time you’re tempted to complain about welfare rorters, may be just shut up

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It’s not uncommon to hear people in our society grumbling about excessive welfare payments to those on lower incomes nor to hear the opposite claim that “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.” Data just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that neither of these assertions is true. It shows total after-tax income for households adjusted for...

You can tax your way to surplus. The tax debate we need to have

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Our new treasurer, Scott Morrison, stated this week that “you can’t tax your way to surplus”. It’s become something of an orthodoxy on the conservative side of politics, but when you stop to think about it, it’s a ridiculous statement.  The only way the government gains revenue is by taxing people, goods and services, and businesses, so the only way the government...

Why Today is the Most Important Day of the Last Ten Years

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It’s a cloudy Sunday afternoon that threatens to become uncomfortably cold. I sit in a lounge outside the Honeysuckle Hotel in Newcastle’s tourist precinct. Twenty metres away a one man band is playing Chuck Berry songs to which a group of five fifty-somethings from the Eagle Rock Dance Club are jiving. Beyond them small groups of people gather around a slew of vintage cars that are on display...

Did anyone else think government spending was going down?

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With all the hype about “budget repair” I had made the assumption that government spending was going down. Turns out I am wrong. At the same time that our government is demanding we slash and burn things like foreign aid, it is planning on spending $14 billion dollars more next year than it did this year,  and projects that by the year 2018-19 it will be spending $79 billion more than...

All that campaigning and the aid program is still savaged. Did we achieve anything?

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Having spent more than a decade of my life campaigning for increases in both the quantity and the quality of the Australian aid program, it has been devastating to see the aid budget slashed by more than 20%, the greatest single decrease in the history of the program. I have travelled to a number of countries with large numbers of people living in extreme poverty and seen the amazing impacts that...

Who pays too much tax? Probably not you

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Put ten Australians in a room and ask them if they pay too much tax and you’re likely to find everyone agreeing, “why yes, I do pay too much tax.” None of us likes paying tax, but are we really paying too much? Here are three ways you can answer that question. How much should we pay? At the end of the day we need to pay enough tax to pay for the services we want. At the moment...

Are we the world’s stingiest nation?

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Never before has an Australian government made cuts to the international aid program like those made by the Abbott government. The argument goes that we can’t afford to borrow money in order to give it away. We first need to deal with our debt crisis, and then we can afford to give more. A friend of mine, Gershon Nimbalker, put together the chart below. It shows the aid budgets of the...

Did I Just Leave Jesus Hungry?

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It’s early evening in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I walk through bustling streets. Hundreds of motorbikes whir by, punctuated by the presence of motor cars and trucks. The sidewalks are crowded. The sounds of car horns, chatter, laughter, music and hawkers combine to form a cacophony of life. This is a post-conflict nation that is making rapid strides to lift its people out of poverty. The task...

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