Weekly weigh-in: Petrol prices, alcohol taxes and attacks on liberty



Ask any driver on the road at this time of year who the Christmas Grinch is in their life and the unanimous answer will be—— service stations, who gouge petrol and diesel prices over Christmas.

Yes, we hear it’s the fault of the cartel of exporting nations increasing prices, but a shock discussion with a service station part owner last week confirms what we had always thought.

While paying for a full tank last week, the pleasant female attendant had just finished a phone call as I mentioned the bouncing prices of petrol around the nation.

“Well, you are lucky that you are filling up today, I’ve just had a call that Shell has upped their prices by 5c and we will now be doing the same tomorrow,” she surprisingly shared.

“So is this a result of a Singapore or some other overseas increases in price?” I asked.

“All I know is Shell have just gone up and we follow tomorrow,” the service station attendant replied.

Service stations are definitely the number one Grinch.

Continuing the shock stories, is this week’s move by Federal and State Health Ministers to significantly increase prices for beer and wines under a proposal to cut Australian alcohol consumption.

It became very personal when the targeted areas are wines, which have a lower tax level, and beer with Victoria Bitter (VB) slabs as an example.

The announcement was released last month but only became public on Monday and is a draft national alcohol strategy chaired by Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt. It also calls for tough restrictions on alcohol advertising during sports, and laws to stop bottle shops from providing two-for-one offers and bulk-buy booze discounts.

Alcohol companies will also be asked to put readable, impactful health-related warning labels on their products.  Minister Hunt chaired last month’s ministerial forum which agreed to release the draft strategy for a final round of feedback after three years of consultation, with the aim of finalising the strategy by March 2018.

However within 24-hours of the strategies release, Mr Hunt distanced himself with a spokesman telling the Herald Sun “It’s not a Commonwealth initiative, or anything we are proposing to adopt. This would be a matter for individual jurisdictions.”

Another questionable approach by a senior politician who should be looking at education, not regulation.

So with alcohol under pressure, pokies disappearing from Tasmania’s hotels and clubs, cigarettes now $10 a drawback – if Labor wins next year’s election, what else will be on the attack list?

Another shock which the old Truth newspaper would have screamed: BRAINLESS ACADEMICS CALL FOR SEX BAN IN AUSTRALIA.

And Truth’s intro would have said: “The Academics at Melbourne’s RMIT University are calling for Australian universities to institute a blanket band on sex.” Correct to a point.

However, as the ABC story correctly said: “etc. etc. …………….calling for Australian universities to institute a blanket band on sex between faculty members and students.”

Unfortunately there’s no doubt that some unbalanced politician will suddenly advocate for the Truth approach which would be the start of the end of this planet.

I wish all a happy and holy Christmas and welcome in a fascinating 2018.

Weekly weigh-in: Scale of economies, recycling aldermen and job creation

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The vulnerability of Tasmania’s economy was highlighted this week when it was announced the expansion of Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel will now cost $6.7 billion, a blow out of $1.2 billion from the original budget.

This is just one of many infrastructure projects in Victoria, which has a population of 5.791 million, with 3.848 million living in Melbourne alone, a figure that is rising rapidly.

In comparison, Tasmania has a population of around 520,000 and a total annual expenditure of $5,819 million reported in the 2017-18 state budget.

The cost blow out of the tunnel is double Tasmania’s infrastructure spend this financial year, although the government did allocate $2 billion for the budget and the Forward Estimates.

Tasmania is geographically close to Victoria and we share so much of Melbourne’s facilities, such as the arts, international and Australian live shows and sport (AFL, cricket and racing). It’s a reminder of why the management of the state’s funds is paramount. By adopting the business type approach of not spending more than you can afford, Tasmania is now in its most viable economic position for years.

This approach means Tasmania doesn’t have $1.2 billion blow outs on projects. Instead, you create a spending environment which enables you to get back in the black while expenditure must hit the targets, which is now happening in schools, hospitals, health facilities, roads and rail, technology, tourism and assisting business opportunities. In addition, there are rebates for the community to assist with the cost of living including energy which is also extended to more than $120 million for business big and small.

Tasmania doesn’t have everything, but it’s pretty close, and you could argue that while we need more population, we don’t need Victoria’s 5,791 million.

The sacking of the 10 Glenorchy Aldermen had ratepayers cheering, after three years of war between many of the aldermen and some management including the General Manager, which left ratepayers to pick up the bill for more than $1.2 million worth of absurd legal challenges. One comment described the council as being beset by rivalry and spite.

The announcement of the new election, with voting taking place from December 19 to January 16, was a breath of fresh air for so many.

But the list of candidates has created disappointment from some ratepayers who now realise that many of the former aldermen are back in the hunt, despite a damning report of their behaviour which certainly wasn’t in the interests of ratepayers.

So how does a sacked council come to be potentially resurrected with possibly the same people from the previous council? Obviously, the result is in the hands of ratepayers who determine the winners and losers, but why allow sacked councillors a second chance?

Advice from local government experts revealed that changes to eligibility of candidates amongst other local government regulations were rejected by the Local Government Association of Tasmania.

The other argument is that while the Glenorchy aldermen were suspended for many months, most resigned their seat before the Minister for Local Government, Peter Gutwein, sacked the suspended councillors.

If there is to be change, it’s now on the shoulders of the Glenorchy ratepayers.

This week’s announcement of a $56 million state-of-the art fish feed innovation and production plant to be built at Wesley Vale by Danish company BioMar, is not just a boost for the North West, but also for job creation state-wide.  BioMar is fully owned by Danish conglomerate, Schouw and Co, which was founded in 1878 and listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange with a market cap of around $3.3 billion Australian.

Once the operation is up and running in September 2019, BioMar will produce up to 110,000 tonnes of high performance fish feed for Tasmanian grown salmon, as well as fish farms in other parts of Australia and New Zealand. BioMar currently delivers about $65 million of product to Tasmania from Edinburgh which cemented the decision to set up operations in Wesley Vale.

The production will create 55 full time jobs alongside a potential 80 contract positions around the state through operational, port services and logistical jobs. Construction is expected to employ 250 contractors when work is planned to start in May next year, depending on the finalisation of the development and environmental plans.

A couple of interesting statistics were shared at Monday’s press conference with Premier, Will Hodgman, Deputy Premier, Jeremy Rockliff and BioMar’s UK Managing Director, Paddy Campbell who is based in Edinburgh.

Explaining the significance of aquaculture in Tasmania, Mr Rockliff said that export income from the broader fishing industry in Tasmania was now bigger than the combined cattle and sheep income.

The second statistic came from a Government advisor while explaining the impact in the area of the 55 manufacturing jobs. The wage base for the 55 jobs is at least double the average wage of people working in the electorate.

The site is the former Specialist Veneers factory and management which closed eight years ago.

Weekly weigh-in: Cash payments, ‘free’ marketing and political correctness

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I’m not a dobber, but the days of paying tradespeople with cash for a significant price cut to the consumer and a tax-free transaction for the tradies, is again in the cross hairs of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) – which is now trying to come to grips with an estimated $25 billion a year cash economy.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan has issued a passionate call to arms to Australians to stop paying tradespeople in cash as he confronts a host of black-economy rorts, which include the fraudulent misuse of the Bunnings ABN by service providers.

Mr Jordan said cash discounts were ripping “billions of dollars” out of the economy that should be supporting services such as schools and hospitals. In an interview with The Australian, Mr Jordan has made a direct plea to taxpayers to stop the “less for cash” mentality ingrained in the Australian psyche.

“Stop paying cash for a discount because you are effectively cheating the system or helping someone else cheat the system,” was the message from Mr Jordan.

“This is not a victimless crime. If you pay cash for a discount, in many cases you are effectively ripping off yourself as an Australian taxpayer, because this type of behaviour is what sees billions flow out of the tax system and into the cash economy.”

Hands up who hasn’t taken the cheaper approach for a house reno or landscaping job etc.? My experts assure me it’s not as relevant today as some years ago, when it was cash payment or “sorry, we can’t do the work.”

The ATO are up against a brick wall at the moment, but there are suggestions they will adopt a more aggressive stance on rorts, and will publicly name and shame offenders.

The thought process of some in this funny old world was highlighted in an e-mail yesterday titled “They walk among us.”

The story went along the lines that a guy bought a new fridge for his house. To get rid of the old fridge (still working), he put it in his front yard and hung a sign on it reading “free. You want it, you take it.”

For three days the fridge sat there without anyone looking twice.  He eventually decided that people were too mistrustful of this deal so he changed the sign to read “Fridge for sale $50.”

The next day someone stole it!

Political correctness can create the most stupid decisions, but when you run through the list of definitions you can understand why.

If somebody dislikes what you have said, you’re pretty certain to get hammered.

There’s a story a day of political incorrectness upsetting communities, be it an over reaction to a comment, or a decision refusing to allow an historic and accepted event such as Christmas to be celebrated.

When Service Tas offices around the state were told yesterday to take down Christmas decorations, I hope it wasn’t because someone who doesn’t believe in Christmas was offended by the decorations.

Whatever the reason for the decision was, political correctness has been taken to edge of the cliff.

Thankfully the Department of Premier and Cabinet introduced the common-sense approach, and now the decorations are back in the offices as they should be.

Last week, Millionaire Hot Seat compere, Eddie McGuire, found himself pilloried for some light-hearted banter with a contestant on the TV show.

“So, you have a Jewish father and a Scottish mother? I reckon it would have been hard getting pocket money from them.”

I’m not great supporter of Eddie, although we did share a very funny night in a Melbourne restaurant a couple of years ago.

Maybe this is because he’s President of the Collingwood Football Club, but regardless, was his comment worthy of the resulting uproar and media tirade?

With an Irish background, I could be claiming PC outrage daily for the number of Irish joke e-mails flooding through my laptop.

While they are pretty rough sometimes, I love them, and having caught up with relations in Dublin, they are actually often true!

I think one of a host of letters to the editor this week hit the target. “Now we are so sensitive that if you look sideways at someone, or say something slightly wrong, then you could be sacked from your job or face public ridicule by minority groups. We have lost touch with our humanity and we have lost all sense of freedom of speech.”


Weekly weigh-in: Tasmanian nepotism saga, banking Royal Commission and TV misconduct



The questions surrounding Tasmania’s nepotism sage were beautifully answered by a cartoon in Wednesday’s Mercury.

The cartoonist drew a before picture showing Tasmania attached to a strong winch based in Victoria. The after showed Tasmania connected to the rest of Australia.

The story was simple: how to solve Tasmania’s nepotism problem.

Just think how hard it is in Tasmania to employ or promote somebody you don’t know, or isn’t a close, or not so close, relation.

This is Tasmania, with a population of only 500,000 people – half of which have never been interstate, and many still waiting for their first trip to Hobart or Launceston, yet alone Devonport or Burnie.

Professional sectors such as legal, accounting, all sectors of health, and teachers are close groups. Some obviously closer than others, but they most likely know of one or the other.

Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, a son and grandson of lawyers, studied his law degree through the University of Tasmania in the mid-90s and later practiced as a solicitor before an overseas stint, and eventually entering politics. There’s a fair chance he knows a few thousand people in the legal industry alone.

So, for politicians to suggest that a Supreme Court Judge was recently appointed because of his friendship with the Premier is a bit rough.

Yes, the appointee Gregory Geason, was the best man at the Hodgman wedding, as I’m sure dozens of legal friends were also part of the wedding party.

Tasmanian Bar president, Chris Gunston, was concerned by the comments of Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor, and commented that ”The most recent appointment of a judge of the Supreme Court was conducted in accordance with the Tasmanian Government’s publicly available protocol for judicial appointments.”

Mr Gunston was also scathing of Ms O’Connor for using parliamentary privilege in question time to undermine public confidence in the administration of justice and the supreme court in order to score political points.

The Premier said from the outset that he had stepped aside from the appointment interview and any process in his role as Attorney General.

Today we have a $75m Royal Commission to scrutinise the four major banks by looking at the nature and extent of misconduct, behaviour of business activity by financial services, the effectiveness of redress for consumers who suffer as the result of misconduct by an employee, and a raft of areas still to be completed for the terms of reference.

The banks have called for the Royal Commission after continued attacks on them by the Opposition and media which have been publicly hurting confidence in the financial service system. The Opposition and some National backbenchers have also called for the commission, leaving Prime Minister Turnbull with little choice but to call a commission.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has already warned senators to be wary about the terms of reference, fearing it will become a witch hunt into industry funds and unions. This is an interesting little twist for Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has been demanding the commission into banks for some time.

By the way, the banking industry has warned homeowners could face higher interest rates as a result of a royal commission according to The Australian. Why? Well, the banks say share prices are resilient, but something has to give in the face of a powerful, year-long inquiry into misconduct that could cost $50 to $100 million per bank.

Please, Mr Banker, you started this process through your questionable behaviour, so don’t start kicking your clients again.

But should we stop at banks? Why not create a Royal Commission to shake the skeletons out of all the cupboards?

Obviously, we also have a problem with television stars. Daily we are hearing of alleged sexual approaches, and lewd and inappropriate language in Australia, the UK and the US. The number of Hollywood stars now named by alleged victims is staggering and is now at the stage of ‘who will it be tomorrow?’.

The terms of reference we have to include should cover questions such as why victims held back for so long; why did managers and leaders who were aware of the problems do nothing; the same for boards; and, what is being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

We could learn a lot from the current Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse.

Weekly weigh-in: Flight paths, cricket and investment


We want more and more flights in and out of Tasmania for interstate holidaymakers and to export fresh Tasmanian produce. Also, we want more national and overseas tourists into the state..

Obviously the planes have to land and take off which means they will need to fly over some houses in the regions or suburbs. Flight paths are created to allow the planes to land safely and not to destroy the environment of people living below the flight paths.

A decade ago, we stayed with close friends in Barnes, near Hammersmith in England for a couple of months.

At 5am the first morning I thought it was a second World War Luftwaffe airstrike but in reality they were international aircrafts preparing for landing at Heathrow Airport 20 minutes away by car.

They were so low you could see the brand of the tyres on the landing wheels (exaggeration).

Within a few days you knew the planes were still there but they didn’t wake you anymore and life was back to normal. The flight paths varied each week, sometimes no aircraft and other times limited numbers, which neighbours and friends around the area simply didn’t hear the planes.

On a much smaller scale we live under a West Tamar flight path which is probably about six minutes before landing. The Melbourne flights come directly over the house and suburbs while the Sydney and Brisbane flights come from the East and takes a tight left hand turn over our suburb.

Do you hear the planes? Not really but you are conscious of something up in the sky. Are you awoken in the night, or early morning flights? No. Even the cargo planes in the early morning are basically silent compared to the 80’s and 90’s cargo planes which previously attracted regular Letters to Editor complaining about the groaning cargos upsetting their sleep and making the dogs bark.

It’s a case of accepting change and living with the positive aspect and not the negative.

It was great to see a full house on the first day of the Ashes Test in Brisbane and even better to have a Tasmanian back in the Australian team.

While Paine is in great pain for dropping a fifty-fifty catch, the remainder of his wicket keeping was crisp and classy. We’ve been spoilt over the decades with David Boon, Ricky Pointing (captain), George Bailey, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Faulkner, Alex Doolan and other Tasmanian players at the top end of international cricket.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that Australian vice-captain David Warner, may not play because of a pain in the neck. I thought everyone realised his problem, however it was a little embarrassing when I realised it was literally neck pain.

The ABC commentary team certainly isn’t a shadow of the past particularly with former cricketers employed on names not voices. Gerard Whatley and Jim Maxwell are certainly holding together but Tim Lane where are you?

Thank goodness for English BBC specialist, Alison Mitchell, who not only understands the game, but obviously does her homework as one of her colleagues discovered when questioning a comment. Interesting to see how the commentating team is functioning by the final Test.

Attracting interstate and overseas investors has been a high priority for governments, tourism organisations and local government for yonks. We’ve had success in recent years but support for development is a hungry giant.

One of the new investors is Singaporean billionaire, James Koh, who has opened his wallet for millions of investment into hotel developments in Hobart and Launceston.

He owns the Styles Hotel in Macquarie St, Hobart which was opened this year and waiting for further approvals, he recently bought out the development company building the Hyatt Centric Hotel, in the former Westpac building in Elizabeth St, Hobart.

The problems facing Mr Koh are the 210m and 94m hotel applications in Hobart and a sizeable hotel site on an historic block away from the CBD in Launceston is also creating grief.

Having attracted the investor, it would be foolish for both cities to kill the golden goose. The issue shouldn’t be high rise, it should be how can we work with the client who wants to spend millions of dollars?

Negotiation and creativity ideas from both parties can create brilliant results.

Weekly weigh-in: Turnbull’s slump, a premier’s wisdom and protecting the golden goose



No surprise to see the headline “Turnbull’s horror poll slump” in the Australian on Monday. Nor was the continued slide of the Coalition, which now trails Labor 45 to 55 per cent in two party terms, correlating to about 20 seats lost.

The Newspoll ‘better Prime Minister’ shows that Malcolm Turnbull has dropped from 41 to a new low of 36 per cent, and now only two per cent above Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.

The PM’s support has now dropped from 48 per cent in July last year to today’s 36 per cent. Adding to the party’s anxiety is the ‘best Liberal leader’ poll which has Julie Bishop at 40 per cent, the PM on 27 and Peter Dutton at 11.

While the PM’s approval has dropped by 12 per cent you would expect his opponent, Bill Shorten, would be on the rise. Well yes, his rating has increased since July last year, but only from 31 per cent to 34 per cent.

So if Malcolm’s on the nose, Bill has a pretty nasty cold as well, and the nation is showing its frustration by supporting neither.

Sticking to the theme, Newspoll has listed the highest and lowest satisfaction ratings of PMs since its inception in 1985.

The top seven shockers are:

Paul Keating, 17 per cent,  August 1993; Julia Gillard, 23 per cent, September 2011; Tony Abbott, 24 per cent, February 2015; Bob Hawke, 27 per cent, December 1989; John Howard 27 per cent December 2001; Malcolm Turnbull 28 per cent, October 2016 and February 2017; Kevin Rudd, 32 per cent September 2013.

The top seven highest ratings are:

Kevin Rudd, 71 per cent, April 2008; John Howard, 67 per cent May 1996; Bob Hawke, 62 per cent, January 1987; Malcolm Turnbull 60 per cent, November 2015; Julia Gillard, 50 per cent, February 2011; Tony Abbott, 47 per cent, October 2013 and Paul Keating, 43 per cent, April, September and November 1994.

Wow, the highs and lows of politics.

When former Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Robin Gray, starts talking about his party at both state and federal levels, you know it’s worth listening. The calls I received after his ABC interview this morning suggests I’m not the only listener.

Growler, as he is known by so many of his friends and colleagues, was Tasmanian Premier from 1982-1989 during  a time of extraordinary political upheaval, including  the protests of the Gordon below Franklin dam, which became an international issue and was finally stopped by the High Court of Australia. Despite this loss, Growler was elected to a second term – the first time in 58 years that a non-Labor government had won a second term.

The basis of today’s interview was the call for senior Senator Eric Abetz to retire and Tasmanian Liberal Party Director, Sam McQuestin to stand aside to renew the campaign and strategy for the 2018 state election, probably in March.

The “yes” vote of the people for same sex marriage is an embarrassment for the parliament which avoided a vote for more than five years. Coalition pollies were not listening to their constituents including Tasmania which overall voted 63.7 per cent yes.

While there’s no suggestion that Senator Abetz should be shoved because of the same sex marriage vote, a series of questionable decisions have not sat well with the former Premier. As he said of Senator Abetz: “I believe that the party (state) has been in array for 20 years under his watch.”

Mr Gray is not suggesting sacking State Director, Sam McQuestin, who has attracted criticism for his handling of the recent Pembroke Legislative Council bi-election, but he is calling for a fresh approach for the 2018 election.

Feedback from the ABC interview strongly supported Gray’s suggestions with another twist. No matter how good the director may be, or the senior advisers, nobody really understands an election campaign except a successful candidate who has door knocked and connected to the community.

The clock is ticking for the Tasmanian election.

Weekly weigh-in: Clever CommBank, media migration mitigation and tax rate troubles

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While users of overseas call centres share stories of their frustrating interactions daily, the Commonwealth Bank has finally bitten the bullet.

Last weekend CommBank sent its message in a full-page advertisement through the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun and a number of other interstate Sunday papers.

No photos, or graphics, just a poignant message of 20 words.

“Our customer call centres aren’t overseas, they’re over here, and you’ll be talking to CommBank people.

“That’s a welcome change.”

A beautifully crafted message which everyone understands without creating a potential racist argument.

The only reason Australian companies close down their local call centres is to save costs. Quality is way down on the priority list.

A very smart move by CommBank.

The move by CommBank also highlights the need for media to take a deep breath before blaming governments, both Federal and State, for not growing the workforce, or blaming businesses for moving operations offshore and cutting jobs in Australia.

While we hate to see it happen there are multiple reasons for the measure, including exorbitant payment agreements. Just look at the closing of the car manufacturing industry as a classic example.

But the Mac the Slasher approach of Australia media companies and the ABC in Tasmania has no bounds.

Fairfax has slashed employment numbers, particularly in regional areas including Launceston and Burnie.

Yes, advertising revenues have dropped dramatically, consequently reducing editorial and advertising numbers – probably two thirds less than the 225 of 15 years ago, including the advertising call centres which are now operating out of Manila.

The Mercury fought head office and submitted a business case showing it was cheaper to retain the current local employment and had the support of the Hobart community.

Within 12 months of The Examiner’s advertising call centre closure, the overseas call centre was costing significantly more than the once local and loyal team.

The Fairfax owned Ballarat Courier warned headquarters their classified clients wouldn’t accept the Manila centre. Within a few weeks of the change, the numbers of Ballarat clients using the call centre dropped from 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

Sometimes headquarters should listen.

Governments aren’t there to employ people but they can generate international investment and employment by ensuring company tax rates are competitive.

This is now going in the wrong direction with Australia heading to the highest company tax rate in the world. Australia’s company tax rate of 30 per cent has been out of touch since a decrease by the Howard government in 2000.

The average tax rate in advanced countries has fallen from 32 per cent in 2000 to 24 per cent. The US is currently 35 per cent with President Donald Trump planning reduction to 20 per cent, or realistically 25 per cent.

Australia’s problem is the Senate with Labor and the crossbenchers not accepting that the lower tax rate will loosen up business costs and create opportunities for expansion, ultimately meaning more jobs.

The Tasmanian Government’s 2017 budget tax incentive is such a paragon. The two schemes covered around 2500 payroll tax businesses and around about 32,000 small businesses below the payroll tax turnover.

The small business pilot program was capped at $2 million and provided a $4000 incentive payment to employ apprentices and trainees. When the cap of 500 jobs was reached last month, the government extended the program and added another $3 million to attract 750 jobs.

Five million for 1250 new apprentices and trainees is a great investment for the state and example of what could be created by a Federal government.

Weekly weigh-in: AFL neglect, bargain flights and a changing world



Good to see returned Hawthorn Chairman, Jeff Kennett continuing to support Tasmania, this time attacking the AFL over Hawthorn’s football fixture next year. And he’s spot on in accusing the AFL of treating the state as an “appendage to the competition”.

The reason for Jeff’s anger is that the Hawks will only play one Melbourne team in Launceston next season – a Saturday night game against St Kilda.

The overall fixture for Tasmanian games means only two Melbourne teams will make the trip, the other being Carlton vs. North Melbourne under lights in Hobart.

St Kilda aside, Hawthorn plays Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Brisbane while North plays West Coast and GWS.

While the Brisbane game has some ginger with former Hawks star, Luke Hodge, tackling his former team, the stats show a dramatic drop in attendance since their halcyon days, and Gold Coast has always struggled to attract a crowd, which will be even tougher without star Gary Ablett.

As Jeff said:

“The AFL should be giving the community of Tasmania the opportunity of seeing a greater percentage of Melbourne-based teams. I’m reasonably happy with our total program, but I’m disappointed that the AFL continues to treat Tasmania as an appendage to the competition.”

Airfare bargain hunting Launceston flyers are now the smartest in Australia, following data from low cost carrier, Jetstar.

The data available honed in on the postcodes as the basis of the numbers of fares purchased under $100. Launceston, with 56,000 seats under $100 tipped Gold Coast with 51,000 and Cairns third with 32,000. The remaining top 10 in order was Melbourne, Werribee, Sydney, Mackay, Geelong, Ballina and Carrara.

Capital cities were the top destination for most of the bargain savvy suburbs with the exception of North Bondi residents who travel to Gold Coast.

The overall staggering information came from Jetstar Australia, CEO , Dean Salter, revealing that two thirds of all Jetstar fares were under $100.

The low-cost, domestic operator attracts its fair share of detractors slamming seat room, unhelpful staff, cancellations, and on-board costs, but the inarguable facts now show the arrival of Jetstar in 2003 was the birth of a generation of new aircraft passengers. The cost reduction was the magnet and overwhelms the failures.

Maybe a touch of exaggeration but if you flew out of Hobart or Launceston 30 years ago you would know 90 per cent, maybe more, of people on the plane. Today it’s closer to zero.

No wonder clients and the broader community battle with decisions by our four major banks.

Yesterday, the National Australia Bank released its massive $6.64 billion cash profit with some $5.3 billion in dividends delivered to shareholders. Oh, and now we’re going to get angry about costs and sack 6000 staff over three years says the NAB chief executive, Andrew Thorburn.

“What we’re doing is we’re simplifying the bank,” Mr Thorburn said.

“And as we simplify, we automate processes and things move to digital channels. We will need less people.”

While 6,000 front liners will be replaced by automation, NAB will hire 2,000 staff with different capabilities such as data scientists, robotics, automation, technology and AI. Basically, technology people.

I’m sure clients will be cheering now they have 6,000 less people they can actually talk to and another 2000 IT people who aren’t client facing.

NAB wants to become the best business bank in Australia. Very positive approach, but I hope somebody has been talking to existing and potential future clients.

Weekly weigh-in: Name changes, north west masters and conspiracies



Tasmania’s newest bank opens its doors next Wednesday, 1 November with an interesting name.

The B&E Building Society will now be known as the ‘Bank of us’ replacing the names of the Bass Building Society and Equitable Building Society, which has been operating for 160 years.

Respected CEO, Paul Ranson was certainly accurate when he said it would be a “different kind of bank.” The two key differences being customer-ownership, and the name, Bank of us. The marketing company is already back slapping as the name debate becomes the centre of discussion on traditional and social media.

I’m sure the 30,000 strong customer base will warm to the name as they realise customer service will continue at a high level and day-to-day transactions will remain unchanged.

Whether it becomes BOU, or Bou, is debatable and it certainly won’t be confused with other BOU’s around the world such as Bou, a town in France, the Bank of Uganda, Boulder Geomagnetic Observatory, British Ornithologists’ Union or the Basis of Union.

Names aside, it is a great asset for Tasmania to have a bank which returns profit to the state.

It’s hard not to admire the performance of so many competitors in the 16th Australian Master Games in the state’s north west this week as they break records, or simply do their best in a fun and healthy environment.

I’m sure there’s a terrific story behind every one of the 5000 plus competitors, but the star performer must surely be 90-year-old Heather Lees from NSW. Heather set a world record masters time of 24.56.97 minutes for the 90 plus, 3000m walk.

Her radio interviews were full of interesting information including her concerns about the warm weather and she certainly sounded like a much younger athlete.

A great example for all.

There are times when governments need to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and release information from significant issues and events such as the death of US President, John F. Kennedy. Like millions around the world, I can recall when and where I was when JFK was assassinated, or John Lennon, the car crash of Princess Diana and the tragic swimming death of Prime Minister, Harold Holt.

The official investigation says John Kennedy was assassinated by former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald, who shot three bullets from a rifle as the President and his wife Jackie were riding in a presidential motorcade.

So unconvinced of the outcome of various inquiries, 60 per cent of Americans still believe a group of conspirators were responsible for the assassination.

The planned release of the last trove of secret files of the Kennedy’s murder was agreed 25 years ago.

Evidently there are some 2800 documents set to be released but after pressure from the FBI and CIA,  President Trump has reluctantly agreed to withhold 300 documents and guess what;  who wants to worry about the 2800 when the hidden 300 hold the nitty gritty.

Welcome to another 25 years of conspiracy theories.