Category Archives: Finance

The Decaying Morality of Big Business in Australia


Once upon a time…yes I am using a fairytale opening, because big business and morals in this country has now become a fairytale concept.

With the Royal Commission into Banks, who would be naive enough to think that all the other big publicly listed businesses actually do the right thing?

Why would they?

Their advertising says that you, the customer, are the most important thing to them when in fact it is hitting targets to gain bonuses. They couldn’t care less how they achieve their bonuses just as long as they receive them.

When was the last time you heard of a major Australian public company contributing to a crowdfunding campaign for someone in desperate need? I cannot remember one.

Small businesses have, however, and enjoy a far better image as a result.

The four major banks should have an ‘Humanitarian Budget’ which is allocated to the worthiest causes as judged by senior, or even middle management (remember them?). They can, and should, by any moral or ethical argument put some of the Billions of dollars in profit they make each year towards dozens, perhaps hundreds, of worthy causes. Their bottom line would barely be affected.

The one stupid, contrary argument (and unfortunately it is law) is that as publicly listed companies they must put shareholders interests first. In other words they must maximise shareholders’ dividend payments.

As mentioned they could easily give away $10M each and split it up into hundreds of worthy causes. However their shareholders would rightly ask “Hey, by law you have to put us first and by giving that money away I got $10 less in dividend income!”

With the law on their side unfortunately it is a circular argument, a Catch 22.

As long as that law remains as it stands, profits will always be put before helping people where public companies are concerned. Perhaps a ‘tweaking’ of the law is required?

Many large private companies (but still too few) are well known for their generosity. I argue it is because they decide what to spend their profits on, not a horde of needy shareholders.

At this stage I must put my own hand up, and reveal that I have owned shares and as a shareholder I lived for those dividends. Yes, I am two faced but at least I admit it and am ready to discuss badly needed change.

The big four banks might point to a number of charitable donations, but they seem to only contribute if they can place a huge logo on it, in order to achieve a return on investment for their marketing dollars. Yes, they call helping people in need “Marketing”.

Westpac used to have a lovely rescue helicopter flying around but only because it was saturated with their logo. Then they did some analysis and ROI (return on investment) calculations and ceased funding this rescue helicopter. Not because they couldn’t afford it, but because they need to put shareholders first followed closely by their bonuses (or is it the other way around?).

Putting bonuses ahead of helping people is disgusting and definitely unAustralian. Which is ironic because had they helped more families they would have received more favourable media coverage and may not be facing a damaging Royal Commission right now. It would definitely would change our perception of them.

But there is one final problem, and this is the biggest and by far the most difficult to understand. Almost everyone hates the big four banks, and will complain about them ad nauseum but they will not close their accounts and take their business elsewhere! The big four easily have 85% of the total market, so there is no incentive on them, at all, to change their ways. In fact it encourages them to behave badly because their customers do not leave them.

So, in the end, it is your own apathy and unwillingness to follow through on your complaints that makes them so comfortable. It also creates the perfect environment for corruption, because they know that no matter what they do their customers, by and large, will stay with them. So up go fees, down goes quality of service and contributing to the community.

Well done Australians, you reep what you sow.

P.S. If you liked this short article please click on the “Follow” button, I would love to have people other than my wife and parents read my rantings!

Concrete legs..how common are they?


My first symptom that something was seriously wrong (I have Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS) was the feeling that my legs were incredibly heavy.

Not just heavy, really, but “are you sure they haven’t turned into concrete?” type heavy!

This lead to me, whenever I walked down a corridor, for some reason to lean to one side until I hit the wall, literally.

It affected my brain somehow, these concrete legs, and I had absolutely no control over where I was going. For the life of me I could not walk straight, and you can only use the excuse “You know, I should really stop drinking at work!” so many times.

It would also happen suddenly. I’d be walking past a student’s desk (my last job was as a teacher) then suddenly head straight for it and…bang!

My legs felt so heavy when I sat down that the relief was palpable, but then slowly, over a few minutes, they would feel even heavier…massively heavy in fact so that I was scared the chair would surely break and then I would fall through the floor and keep on falling until I hit something heavier than my legs. I had no idea what that was and very little ambition to find out!

Lying in bed at night it was the same. I was constantly amazed that the bed wouldn’t collapse under their enormous weight.

Obviously walking itself, and getting up to walk, was massively difficult and I could hardly move forward. One of the simplest things we do in life, walking, we do not even think about it and yet it was so incredibly difficult because my legs, I was convinced, were made of concrete.

They are slightly better now, but not much. For example at present I’m lying in bed using my phone to write this (apologies if it shows!) and my legs feel so heavy I just want to stay in bed forever. Please don’t make me feel the pain of getting up!!

However I also want to spend some time with the love of my life (no my wife, not a dog!) so shortly I am going to have to stand up and I am dreading that moment.

One of the worse things about this illness and in particular it’s symptoms is that you cannot see them. Therefore people had no idea I feel like I am fighting to stay alive. Instead I would get comments like “You’re looking a lot better”, and “You look so healthy, you must be glad that’s over!”

No, not really, I feel so heavy and dizzy and have a huge headache and I am seriously considering whether I can continue working.

I would arrive home after work and would have to literally wait for my wife to come to my car and help pull me up and out of it, such was the feeling of massive exhaustion and heaviness. If she didn’t hear me come home I would ring her from the car, which was in the garage, to come and help me get up. Pathetic, isn’t it? And I felt pathetic, and useless, and a burden unable to contribute in any way to our home or, indeed, contribute at work.

It all became too much for me, even when I cut my hours down to just one day a week. I wouldn’t have recovered from that one day until it was upon me again. Yes, it takes me that long to recover from ‘activity’, such as working, even if I sat down all day and only got up when I had too.

My lunch became protein drinks because I didn’t have the energy to chew.

So eventually I had to give up work, which financially was terrifying and also filled me with dread and massive guilt.

Soon after this we sold our dream home and moved further away from the city (we received very little from the sale of our home, unfortunately). Fortunately my superannuation insurance policies paid out my Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) claims and are also paying me a couple of years in income protection payments. So we can save, hopefully, a little bit of money to live off of for about thirty years. And when I say little I mean it, as it will be less than a years income and will have to last whilst both of us are not working. I think the word I am looking for is ‘tenuous’.

The insurance companies had a waiting period of three months (for the income protection payments) so we went into debt. I then decided to do one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and started a crowd funding campaign for us. It had a target, and vain hope, that we would get enough money to stay in our glorious home. However enough was raised so that we could live until the house sold, and for that we will be forever grateful to those who contributed in our darkest hour.

People do not realise what you feel (myself included, although I am far more aware now and not so quick to judge) and what you go through emotionally in times like these. They think they do and try to be helpful by saying “It’s only bricks and mortar.” Maybe, but it has been our home for nearly 18 years and it is embedded in our hearts and souls.

I must add though, that when the insurance companies paid out my TPD claims we were able to purchase a beautiful home we now both love, with a mortgage but a significantly smaller one, about another fifteen minutes further away from the city. It really is wonderful, and a lot better than moving in with my parents or being homeless, which were our other two choices.

So life has settled now, the dust has fallen after the whirlwind has passed and our sorrow has turned to greatfulness.

Finally, and the purpose of this article (sorry but I am easy distracted….oh look, a bird!…….sorry again.)

I would be interested (if you are a fellow sufferer of these invisible illnesses) if you have, or had, the same symptom of concrete legs?

$Billion Bank Profits yet they sack workers!


So NAB announce a full year $5.3bn profit and at the same time the sacking of 6,000 staff.

Absolutely disgusting! With the $5.3b profit they should be hiring people to take care of the community, not firing 6,000 and potentially destroying 6,000 lives!

I know legally they have to put shareholders first, but surely the time has come for social responsibility to outweigh and extra couple of cents dividend per share! Oh, and I am sure executive bonuses will go up as people are shown the door carrying their careers in cardboard boxes.

We desperately need a change in corporate focus!

Medical Expenses Tax Offset to be Axed!


More evidence that governments attack those who can’t fight back, namely the ill and the poor.

The net medical expenses tax offset will no longer be available from 1 July 2019.

From 1 July 2019 if you have to buy a wheelchair to get around, the tax offset you were allowed (a pathetic 10% of the cost, but at least something) is being deleted. How lovely and caring of those on over $200k p.a. and couldn’t give a stuff.

“From the 2014-15 income year until the end of the 2018-2019 income year, taxpayers can only claim the net medical expenses tax offset for medical expenses that both meet: the current definition and eligibility requirements, and relate to disability aids, attendant care or aged care”.

How lovely of our caring government to kick all sick people in the balls!

Centrelink payments should take into account your net, NOT your gross income! – Petition


To The Hon Christian Porter MP: Centrelink payments should take into account your net income, NOT your gross income.

Counting your gross income is plain crazy, as you don’t get to keep it all, you pay taxes! And yet your “support” from Centrelink is reduced by every GROSS dollar you earn.

Just another way to cut people’s benefits and save the government money so they can spend big on wasteful promises and gain votes!

You can sign the petition here at ChangeAUS.

Adelaide more expensive to live in than Melbourne!


Adelaide is now more expensive to live in than Melbourne?? Thank you politicians and greedy utility companies, way to go!! We are so over-taxed in SA it’s a disgrace.

Desalination plants that never get turned on, expensive non-functional hospitals, mounds of money spent on reviews that have gone nowhere…thanks Labor!!

Visit the printed story here.

Post GFC


Well, it looks like we survived (sort of). The unemployment rate did not leap up as predicted, although personally I believe this is because many people went from full-time to part-time work or at least had their hours reduced.

So, while we wait for the inevitable bleating from world governments regarding how they need to massively increase taxes to pay for their amazing stimulus packages, we watch as millions are wasted in Copenhagen.

The merry-go-round continues!