Tag Archives: excuse

My great prediction


In a few days time, if it passes into law or not, we will pay GST on any goods we order that come from overseas.

Apparently this will be a big boost to our local retail sector. Unfortunately my prediction is that it will not be anywhere near as big a boost as they are hoping for.

For decades we have all had to pay the Australia Tax. This is the massive differences in price to, say, a notebook for sale in the US and the price the exact same notebook sells for here. You can find even worse examples in everyday painkillers (we pay around $8 for 24 ibuprofen tablets and in the US you pay $10-15 for 500 tablets!

Other examples are DVDs, CDs, books, food…. basically anything.

And when the companies that sell these products at vastly different prices are asked why, the excuse they always offer is the distance to Australia and our smaller market.

So either the suppliers are making a fortune because no-one in Australia has the guts to ask the tough questions or our local retailers are terrible at negotiating.

Maybe a bit of both. Personally I am staggered by the number of people here who will pay nearly double for the latest smartphone or Apple product, as they sell for in the US. Go ahead, check it for yourself.

So, my prediction is that on the 1st of July the people of Australia will have finally had enough of governments introducing new taxes seemingly every week. (A sugar tax? What a laugh. Apparently we can’t be relied on to make our own decision on what we should drink, so of course we need a tax to help us out. To paraphrase The Beatles, they’ll be taxing air next).

We will have had enough, finally, and we will revolt. Personally those items I purchased from overseas – because of this thing that is meant to be free, called the internet – I simply will not buy again.

Why not? Because every time I go to do so online there will be a stark reminder in my shopping cart, GST of 10%. I will get angry and log out.

And I will not buy it locally because unfortunately local retailers, big and small, are lacking when it comes to understanding buying on the internet. Ask them what a Google rating is and they will ask what movie are you referring to. Seriously, key into Mr Google the item you want to buy and stipulate Australia. The first items listed will be Ads for overseas sites, followed by some articles or reviews (from overseas of course) followed by something completely unrelated. Unless you include a store name in your search you will not even get close.

So until the local retailers discover Google search, it will make me so angry trying to find the item I want that I’ll end up not wanting it anymore. Shopping online should be easy and fun, and only a dozen or so Aussie retailers get it.

So, our local retailers will see a much smaller increase in online sales than they hoped for. My prediction is that less than 50% of what was spent overseas up until June 30 this year, will be spent locally in the next financial year.

If I see a news article stating how local retail has boomed I will know it is false, and was probably influenced by government press releases. How do I know this? Because every year, about two weeks before Christmas, every news outlet predicts the biggest spending Christmas ever of $X billion dollars. Then in February or March, on page 27, will be a small article saying the figures are in and it was actually a very disappointing Christmas for retailers. It happens every single year, like clockwork.

I am especially a fan of TV newsreaders proclaiming that in the last weekend before Christmas shoppers went crazy and spent $X billion dollars. Hello? How could you know that? Did you ring every shop in the State and ask them for their sales figures? No? Would the shops even know what their figures were for those two days, and get them to you within just 24 hours so you can run your news item? Somehow I doubt it.

Wet your finger and proudly hold it up high. There, now you have as much chance as getting your prediction right as 80% of our so-called economic ‘experts’.

As Steve Jobs said on many occasions, do not listen to anyone who says they are an ‘expert’ or worse, a ‘guru’, because no-one is, it’s impossible.

So buy big and buy now, the clock is ticking. At least this is one tax you can choose not to pay. And just think of all the money you will save!

GST payable on all items purchased overseas – WTF!!


From the 1st of July, courtesy of the Federal Government who has once again bowed to big busines, lobbyists and those who provide large donations (to both political parties) another tax will be forced upon us.

This new tax will apply to all online purchases under $1,000, where the items come from overseas.

This is the result of extensive lobbying from big business (Harvey Norman, Myer, David Jones et al) who claim their declining sales have been caused by these types of purchases.

Basically they are saying it is not fair for an overseas retail business to provide the same goods they sell but at a better price and with better service.

If you believe that, then you are a big business wearing blinkers to stop you from seeing reality. The reality is that in Australia we receive poor customer service and are ripped off by their suppliers pricing models.

Allow me to explain. But first a quote from an Australia Post study published in 2017*;

Online retailers are a blessing for many Australians – especially those living remotely, or in areas with limited access to conventional bricks-and-mortar stores. Increasingly, customers are heading online to find their everyday essentials at better prices, with buyers in remote
regional locations and tourist towns shopping online the most.

So if shopping online to get the best deal is so important to us, why are they going to tax it?

The answer is in the question, as Governments are always looking to increase taxes. Or, in this case, impose a brand new one. It pays for their perks and helps to fill holes in their budget created by overspending on shiny new infrastructure in marginal electorates.

This new tax goes against the findings of the report quoted above and is weak, pathetic and completely unjustified. Do local businesses really believe that an increase of 10-15% on the price we pay for an item overseas is going to somehow force us to buy local instead? Maybe, if they offered free shipping instead of charging $10-25.

I can buy one book a day for a week (or a month!) from the UK and have free shipping on each one. I can also buy almost anything from China with free shipping. And yet Australia Post would charge me around $20 for me to send one book interstate (including packaging).

I would hate to get a quote from Australia Post as to what they would charge me to send just one book back to the UK!

Local businesses need to be better negotiators with Australia Post, or use someone else (Startrack).

And then there is the ‘Australia tax’.

The ‘Australia tax’ is another way of saying suppliers (Apple, Samsung, HP, Sony, LG and many, many more) rip us off because we are “just a small market” so their costs are higher. Since all their products come from the same factory I find this argument hard to swallow. Again, local businesses need to lessons on negotiation.

So overseas companies sell their products to Australian retailers at up to 30% more than their very same goods sell for overseas. Books, DVDs, medicines and computers to name but a few.

On a visit to the US in December of 2015 my family saw bottles of 500 ibuprofen tablets (yes, 500!), possibly the biggest selling painkiller in Australia, on sale for $10 each. Here $10 buys you about 48 tablets, or ten times the price of the same product you can buy in the US! The same whopping price differential can be found on many everyday medications and vitamins.

A pair of Rockport shoes is half the price if ordered from overseas compared to my local shoe store. The exact same product from the same supplier from the same factory.

I think you get the point.

In addition there are some products you cannot buy here at all, so you have to purchase them from overseas. This includes many excellent vitamin supplements and other health care items. Why should we be punished because we have to buy these from overseas?

There are many, many more examples, especially if you do a quick search for technology, clothing and health products. Many of these overseas sites have free shipping (as per the above examples) and arrive within days. This is mainly because they do not use Australian Post, who take longer to deliver everything and charge you three times the amount for the privelidge.

So because Australia Post cannot get its act together (except when paying their CEOs very large bonuses despite losing money, in which case they are extremely efficient) and large businesses cannot negotiate properly they blame overseas purchases for their declining sales.

Actually we buy online simply because we want the best price and the best service, and unfortunately businesses in Australia cannot compete in most cases.

So we will be paying the government a brand new tax of around 15% of the value of the items we now buy online.

Fifteen percent? Yes, because GST will not only apply to the price of the item you purchase online from overseas, but also on any overseas taxes (such as the VAT in the UK, their version of our GST) and shipping. So you will soon be paying up to 15% more for those items you buy online today from Amazon, Book Depository, iHerb, Alibaba and many, many more.

The same Australia Post report quoted above says most of our purchases online are with largely domestic businesses, not overseas ones;

“Despite international access, domestic purchases still make up the majority of online spending in Australia. At the end of 2016, domestic spend represented 79% of the online market, showing a growth rate of 11% compared to 7.3% for international spend.”

So why did businesses here complain so much about it being unfair? Because that is easier than competing or trying to negotiate better pricing from their overseas suppliers.

The report also states that overseas spending accounted for 21% of purchases. The vast majority, 79%, being purchases from Australian online sites, so they can get it right if they want to. The only unknown factor is how many of those overseas online purchases were under $1,000, the target of this new tax. My guess is around 70%, but we will use 50% to be conservative.

Given that Australian households in 2016 spent $21.65 billion (according to Australia Post whom I don not believe as I shall explain shortly) in online purchases, collectively we will be paying an additional $341 million in tax each year.

It gets worse if you believe Roy Morgan Research over Australia Post (I would) as their study states that we spent $37.8 billion online during the 2014-2015 financial year”**. If we use their figures, we will be paying a total of nearly $834 million a year (using the same numbers as above) on this new tax.

No wonder the Government chose to listen to big business over common sense. However doesn’t the Federal Government keep saying they should let market forces decide pricing because competition is a good thing? At least that is what they say about the electricity market.

So not only are we currently paying far more locally for many hundreds, maybe thousands of items because of the Australia tax, we will soon be paying 15% more for those same items.

My suggestion is that local businesses lift their game and then we would gladly buy from them, as many studies show we want to buy Australian. To do this they need to significantly improve their customer service, have far better web pages, make it easier for people to buy online (have you seen the David Jones and Myer websites? Complete rubbish) and improve their Google search score.

Much easier to blame someone else, and it’s free too.

However, within this rant of mine I do concede that some big businesses here are viewed as quite minor in sales by their global suppliers. Therefore they cannot negotiate lower pricing (Samsung, Sony, Apple to name a few). I suggest they make this fact publicly known so we can decide what to buy with all information on the table. A nationwide boycott of certain brands might even get them to lower their prices.

Oh, and also go to war with Australia Post over their rediculous delivery charges.

When an overseas online book retailer in the UK can send me a $12 book with NO delivery fee, and I can buy a product from China that is worth $5 and get it delivered FREE, we are being ripped off by local freight charges.

In summary GET RID OF THIS STUPID TAX! Businesses have to learn to be more competitive, improve their customer service, maximise profits, make sure they can be found by Google and have great websites that look good on a phone. Pull your socks up folks, do some targeted marketing and stop blaming everyone else.

The retail market has always been tough, so learn what works for your business, keep experimenting.

You must keep up with technology and react quickly by constantly making changes to your product or service.

Or we could all just pay hundreds of millions of dollars in a lovely new tax.

* Inside Australian online shopping, Australia Post and Startrack, 2017

** According to Wikipedia there were 9 million households in Australia in 2016

*** The state of Australia’s $37.8b online shopping landscape, Roy Morgan Research, 2nd December 2015

Chronic Illness: The Curse of Invisibility


I, like many others, live within a predominantly transparent bubble behind several masks.

I was taught, as we all were, to wear a mask that conforms to my surroundings and most importantly the people within those surroundings. All to fit within the acceptable confines of my particular place in society, and the position of the people I am conversing with at that time.

We must choose the particular mask to wear for each occasion in order to meet society’s expectations, as we have all been taught (either directly or indirectly)

The (predominantly translucent) bubble I spoke of earlier is reserved for those, such as myself, who suffer from an unseen ailment. These various ailments could be the result of an action or experience (one incident or many) that we have endured, or the profound loss of someone who had a special (perhaps critical) meaning in our life or, as in my case, a chronic illness.

The bubble allows those of us who would otherwise be viewed as flawed, to outwardly project an image of conformity. It protects us making it possible for a vast majority of chronic illness sufferers to answer politely to such mundane and repetitive questions such as; “How are you today?”. Automatic questions that society dictates people ask out of courtesy every day, but inflict upon those of us with an invisible illness an internal and stressful conflict; Do I answer truthfully or do I value this person’s company?

The correct answer and the one expected is, of course; “Fine thanks”. However this answer is lightyears from the truth.

Steangely, if others have a minor ailment such as a cold, or a short term pain or discomfort that will pass within days, people are allowed to respond (to myself and my fellow sufferers astonishment) with an informed and lengthy response. After they have described their minor ailment the acceptable, indeed expected, response is immediate sympathy accompanied by offers of assistance!

Those of us who suffer a chronic illness do not receive such a welcome response to a description of what ails us, for we appear to be in good health (no sniffles, coughs or bandaged limbs). Alas, the exact opposite is true.

Therefore our answers range from a stuttered; “Oh, not too bad thanks” to naming our affliction and then describing detailed symptoms.

Worse still are greetings such as “You look great, you must be feeling much better!” and “You just need some fresh air and exercise and you will be better before you know it”. Indeed a knife thrust into a random body part is often preferable.

My own predominantly transparent bubble is becoming increasingly fragile, for every time I have responded to this unthinking, automatic (but well meaning) question with a “Fine thanks” accompanied by a smile, internally the lie builds and builds. This internal conflict adds to my stress and threatens to collapse and reveal the real me, something we are taught to hide. In truth I am afraid of what I might see.

My chronic illnesses (ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia) are completely invisible to the naked eye. However they are rated by published peer reviewed research as comparable to suffering the same pain, exhaustion and depression of a cancer patient in their final months.

Yet I have also been taught so well throughout my life, through repetition and society’s expectations, to provide the expected response just as quickly and unthinkingly with two little words “Fine thanks”. Once uttered, the lie is immediately regretted.

The internal anger that follows those two words is aimed squarely at my vacuous utterance, the falsehood of my answer and my (quite unreasonable I admit) regret that my illness is invisible.

I recently attempted a slight change to my response, to avoid my bubble from disintegrating followed almost certainly and immediately by my screaming “Can’t you see how bloody ill I am! I bet you couldn’t last a week in my body!”. I answered some greetings with; “Oh, about the same I’m afraid”, and failed miserably. This experimental response was met with confusion, blank looks and awkward prolonged silences. I should have anticipated such reactions as they are perfectly understandable, for my answer disturbs the flow of greetings that society dictates and indeed expects.

The simple and automatic process of a greeting has been irretrievably programmed into our social subconsciousness, and my unexpected answer was outside the acceptable parameters resulting in people not knowing how to react.

I have therefore abandoned this truthful response in exchange for peace and normality. It also preserves my bubble, allowing me some sort of social interaction and protection.

When I am greeted by those who are aware of my true condition and believe and understand it, I answer truthfully and honestly and am rewarded with genuine expressions of sympathy and offers of support.

Unfortunately this bubble varies for everyone forced to live within its confines, and not everyone has people close to them who believe their illness exists and is completely debilitating. This does not allow them to unburden themselves nor receive the assistance, sympathy and support they so desperately need.

With ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, the illnesses are monumentally painful and include a list of symptoms so crippling you would wonder how anyone could live with them, but the illness and its symptoms are completely invisible. Unfortunately this is why many sufferrers are sadly met with incomprehension and a complete lack of understanding, which often leads to disbelief.

And their bubble darkens and becomes more fragile, another weight to carry equal to all the others combined.

And if their bubble breaks desperation fills the void, followed by even more stress which feeds the illness which then causes more stress…

Unfortunately when someone is confronted with something they do not understand, the social norm is to refute its existence. To not know something and admit to it out loud is to risk being called a fool. If you are a professional in the medical field with years of learning and experience, these illnesses are so rare and contentious that the safest thing for many is to ignore it. Better still, deny it exists.

Many times have I, and people with the same afflictions, been told by a medical professional, “I don’t believe in ME or CFS, as for Fibromyalgia just exercise four times a week for twenty minutes and you will be fine.”

WRONG!!

Countless studies have shown that exercise, even in its gentlest form, causes crashes that can take weeks for us to recover from.

Ten years or more of medical training and experience apparently beats what you are feeling and experiencing and therefore you, the patient, are wrong.

This cannot last as more and more people are presenting with these symptoms. Fingers crossed…if I could as they are too painful most of the time.

The struggle to continually assert to people that we do in fact suffer severely and there are hundreds of A class published research papers and millions of dollars being spent chasing a cure, is ridiculous and exhausting.

The fact that the majority of medical professionals believe their current collective knowledge is ‘obviously inscrutable’ (as it was before penicillin, medicinal cannabis, sterile operating theatres…) and therefore must be faultless and we are fine, just adds the proverbial insult to our injury.

I believe the current scepticism is born and raised on the fact that we appear so damn healthy.

So our bubble becomes solid, unmoving, inscrutable in self preservation. One day it will become so hardened by disbelief that it will shatter, causing us to crash and burn like Icarus but without the luxury of a warning. We simply experience the end of the story, and in too many instances without the preparation or support we so desperately need.

So we constantly use our masks. We smile when we want to cry, cry when we want to scream, and scream into our pillow when we want support and acceptance.

And we may never see our true selves again.