Junk Robot

Well, I haven’t written for a while, and the first post is about junk?


Is it a Robot that is rubbish, a robot that just didn’t work…


…. Let’s scroll down and see ….

Meet “Riccy”, our gorgeous “Junk Robot”

Junk Robot

Junk Robot - back What is a “Junk Robot”, well a robot made from junk of course! This lovely little robot that my son has build, was made from scrap parts that were pulled out of a disposed TV Box.

Well… He isn’t really junk any more is he!

He may be made from junk… but he is definitely GORGEOUS!

He doesn’t function as such,
so no walking skipping or moving!

Bits of him do move – you can twirl the two fans around.
… and yes you can pick him up… gently… and move him around.


This week in our local area there is what we call a “council cleanup”. Everyone who has junk, pops their rubbish onto the nature strip (footpath) for council to come around and crush it for landfill.

… yep VERY wasteful.

Why a Junk Robot?

There was recently a post on our local facebook page from my son’s Out Of School Hours (OOSH) care. It was about kids picking up “bits and pieces” and assembling them into some form of art – here is the video.

… So that’s what we did.

My son and I picked up a TV Box, stripped it of the interesting bits, and built a “Robot”.

Oh he is drop dead gorgeous (if you like that sort of thing), and I was super proud of his efforts.

Why post this

But by posting this post, I hope to inspire others to assemble art from scrap that might be lying around. In Australia (and probably elsewhere in the world) we have a wast problem.

Most of what is produced soon after ends in land fill.

Our land fills are overflowing, but waste keeps on coming…

Rather than going to landfill (at least straight away), it can be used to help kids be more creative, think outside the box, and build something that inspires them.

In this case it was “Riccy” the Robot!

Why waste it, when you can build something creative out of it!

Bye for now,


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Electricity costs and usage – Solar payback

Good morning readers,

I wanted to post an extract of a newsletter by Alan Cuthbertson from www.diydoubleglaze.com.au. It is a short story about pay back costs for solar panels depending on your own power usage.

Prior to the extract, I wanted to present a brief introduction to electricity usage (that became a bit longer than planned), and what it really means when you see numbers and figures on your electricity bill.

An introduction to solar panels and feed-in tariffs

In Australia until recently, consumers who installed solar panels, and exported electricity into the grid (what wasn’t used by the consumer), received a feed-in tariff of up to $0.60 per kWh. i.e. for every kWh that the consumer generated and exported back into the grid, the electricity supplier paid the consumer up to $0.60. This was gradually reduced over the last 4 or so years, but it allowed many consumers to pay off the cost of their solar panel installation costs quickly. (I think this was actually paid by the each State Government, but can’t remember exactly how it worked) 

Sadly though, most consumers didn’t really understand how to use the energy they generated from their solar panels, and relied on the subsidy that they received from their supplier to both reduce their electricity costs, and to pay back their solar panel installation costs.

Now that the higher level feed-in tariff has been removed, many consumers are facing high electricity costs, due to a lack of understanding on how to use their solar panels to their fullest.

Sadly, some consumers are now even looking towards battery storage in order to reduce their electricity costs because they don’t understand enough about electricity usage. However, currently in 2017, battery storage is NOT a cost effective solution for most people to reduce their power bills. I might talk about this later.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. While the feed-in tariff has been reduced, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your costs are going to rise sky high. You MUST learn to be wise with your electricity consumption.

I would hope that most solar panel owners at least understand that only when your panels are in full sun do your solar panels generate most power – some systems are better than others in this regard. Once the sun stops hitting your panels at their optimum angle, your generation capacity drops slowly to zero.

Now that feed-in tariffs are essentially zero, this is a very critical factor.

I have drawn up a rough graph to demonstrate this (it is not designed to be an accurate presentation of generation, just an example).

A possible curve showing solar generation

A 2.5kW solar system might look something like this. In this example the sun comes up at about 7am, peaks at around noon, and sets at about 6.30pm.

As you can see, your electricity generation only rises to about 1kW between 9.30am and 4.30pm. At 7am, or 6.30pm you might only generate 100w (or less). This might be enough to light a lamp, but no more. At 9am, you might be able to run your TV, or perhaps your your washing machine, but running an electric kettle will draw energy from the grid.

But… The above is an ideal generation, with sun lighting your panels all day long.

Unfortunately this is not what many homes are faced with!!!

If your panels only have sun on them between say 11am and 3pm (as my last house did), the graph would show a significantly steeper curve, with less energy generated over a given time. In this instance your electricity generation could look like the following curve.

Solar panel output between 11am and 3pm

In this example you can see that your electricity generation only rises to about 1kW between about noon and 2.30pm. This would give you 2 and a half hours of generation to run appliances like washing machines and driers or stoves. Beyond that your energy drops quite quickly.

This is exactly why you need to understand how your solar system works on your roof. Understanding your system allows you to determine when your peak generation occurs, and when your system starts generating anything that is usable for your requirements.

Peak energy generation from solar cells

Now that we understand a little bit about how solar panels might generate energy on your roof, we need to learn how our own system is working. As the graphs above only provides one possible example (and different to your roof), you need to check your own electricity generation to gauge when you should use certain appliances.

Most inverters, the box that converts the solar energy generated by your panels into 240V ac (the electricity your house uses), have a display on the front of it that indicates when you are generating energy, and what the power supplied is. Internationally the voltage varies depending on the country you are in.

As an example of a modern inverter is the one shown below by SMA. The picture shows the display on their Sunny Boy inverters. On the display in this photo you can see that the solar panels are generating 1250 W of power,  368 V dc is coming from the solar cells, and is converted to 236 V ac to match the grid. It also shows the days and total generation for the period – which at this stage we aren’t interested in.

Display on a Sunny Boy inverter by SMA

Other more basic inverters, may just have a simple digital display that indicates Voltage, Current and Power generated – but this is enough for you to determine when your solar system starts to generate usable electricity.

Other units, such as that which Enphase Inverters currently use is the Envoy system. This incorporates software and uses apps on smart devices – phones, tablets and computers – to monitor generation and usage. It also allows you to show historical information.

Enphase MyEnlighten

By monitoring your system’s inverter, you should be able to draw a rough graph like the one above, to get a general idea as to when your system is generating most of its power.

Please note however, that if a cloud passes over your panels, there is debri on them, or when one or more of your panels have shade on them, your output will drop – possibly considerably.

Now that we understand a little bit about solar panel output, we need to have a look at electricity usage. It is all well and good to know that you are generating 1.8 kW of electricity, but if you don’t understand how each appliance uses power, you won’t be able to determine how to use that effectively to reduce your electricity bills.

A little bit about electricity consumption

If you have solar panels, the best way to reduce your energy consumption, is to use all of the energy you generate from your solar panels.

If you don’t have solar panels, the only way you can reduce your electricity bills is to fully understand the amount of electricity that each appliance uses, monitor their use or use them differently.

All appliances have a power rating on their compliance label. This indicates the maximum amount of energy your appliance could use.

Some common examples might be as follows: (these are examples only – yours will be different so you will need to check them)

Item Average Wattage One hours usage
Electric Kettle
(similar to a large room heater)
2400 W – (2.4 kW)  2.4 kWh
Electric Iron
(similar to a medium room heater)
1500 W – (1.5 kW) 1.5 kWh
Television 450 W – (0.45 kW) 0.45 kWh
Television in standby 15 W – (0.015 kW) 0.015 kWh
Desktop computer not running, but left plugged in to a switched on powerpoint 30 W – (0.03 kW) 0.03 kWh
Lamp 50 W – (0.05 kW) 0.05 kWh

As per the table above, if you use your kettle for one hour, you will use 2.4kWh of electricity. If you use your iron (ignoring the fact that the thermostat cuts the heating element in and out), you would use 1.5kWh of electricity. etc…

The chart below indicates the maximum you might pay, should your usage tariff be at $0.35 per kWh. I note that the rates have just increased by 16% or more in most states of NSW. If you are on a time of use tariff, you might even be paying $0.55 per kWh during peak times.

Item Wattage (W) Cost of use for
one hour
@ $0.35/kWh
Cost of use for one year
1 x Kettle
(similar to a large room heater)
2400 W $0.840  $152
2 hours per day for 3 months
(i.e. winter)
1 x Iron
(similar to a large room heater)
1500 W $0.525  $93
2 hours per day for 3 months
(i.e. winter)
1 x Television 450 W $0.158  $230
4 hours every day
1 x Television in standby 15 W $0.005 $46.00
1 full year in standby
1 x Desktop computer left plugged in to the powerpoint 30 W $0.011 $92.00
1 full year in standby
1 x Lamp 50 W $0.018  $25
4 hours per day every day
10 x Lamps 500 W $0.18  $250
4 hours per day every day

Note the cost of leaving a television in standby. Standby means that the television (or DVD player, VCR, Computer, Microwave etc…) is turned off, but still plugged in to a switched on power point. The power consumption might only be 15W (yours could be more or less) and cost half of one cent, but over the course of a year, the cost adds up to around $46 per year. In another example above, a desktop computer left plugged in to the power point, could cost you $92 per year.

While one 50 W lamp left on for 4 hours per day might only cost your $25 per year, 10 lamps turned on for 4 hours per day will cost you $250 per year.

As shown above with the computer and television examples, every single electronic device has a standby power consumption if the powerpoint is not turned off. The standby power can often be found in user manuals – the manufacturers values are somewhat understated though! Double their values for a more accurate picture of your costs.

Consider this if you have two desktop computers, a microwave oven, a DVD recorder, and two televisions. Your wasted electricity could be as high as $300 per year for those devices to sit in standby. A ridiculous waste of money (and greenhouse gasses).

By using these simple examples, you should now see where your electricity costs could be reduced if you become wise with your electricity usage.


Switch off your devices at the powerpoint when you are finished with them, or buy a remote switch if you can’t reach the powerpoint. I personally use several “Eco Switch” Switches (but there are others) for use with my appliances such as television and computers. They save me $300 per year.

Eco Switch

Another area you might consider are things such as boiling water in a kettle. While the example of running a kettle for one hour might seem ludicrous (it isn’t if you are using an electric heater to heat a room), if you boil water for 5 cups of tea (that might take about 10 minutes in winter to boil) it will still cost you $0.15. If you only need water for 1 cup (which might only take 2 mins to boil), you are paying 10 cents more than you should for 1 cup of water. If you do this 10 times per day, you are paying $1 per day boiling water you don’t use – that is $365 per year in wasted money – let alone massive amounts of greenhouse gasses. So, only boil water for one cup if you are making one cup of tea.

If you are reading in one room but walk out of it for one hour leaving the lights on, you will waste nearly $0.02. This might not seem like much, but if you do this 3 times per day every day, you waste $20 per year.  So, turn your lights off as you walk out of the room.

By using these simple relatively accurate examples, you can start to see where some of your electricity costs could be coming from, and where you might be wasting money.

Using your solar panels effectively

We have now looked at solar power output, and we have looked at energy usage. So how do we use our solar panels more effectively to reduce our electricity bills?

Let’s look at the kettle as an example.

If you turn on a kettle that is rated at 2.4kW (2400W), you need to be generating 2.4kW of power from your solar panels. This way you don’t import energy from the grid and pay for the privilege.

If you are only generating 1kW of power from your solar panels and you turn on your kettle, you will be using 1.4kW from the grid, and 1kW from your panel.

Kettle power use: 2.4kW (used for 5 minutes)
Solar panel generation at time of kettle use: 1kW
Grid import: 2.4kW – 1kW = 1.4kW
cost of 1.4kW imported from the grid for
5 minutes @ $0.35
= $0.041
current feed-in tariff for example $0.06 / 1 kWh
How long would it take to export enough solar power to recover the cost of the imported power to boil the kettle – @ $0.06 per kWh feed-in tariff:
40 minutes at 1kW generation or 1 hour @ 666W


If you were to use your kettle during a period when your solar panels are generating a higher power output, say 1.8kw, your generation/usage costs might look like:

Kettle power use: 2.4kW (used for 5 minutes)
Solar panel generation at time of kettle use: 1.8kW
Grid import: 2.4kW – 1.8kW = 0.6kW
0.6kW imported from the grid for 5 minutes @$0.35 = $0.0175
current feed-in tariff $0.06 / 1 kWh
How long would it take to export enough solar power to recover the cost of the imported power @ $0.06 per kWh feed-in tariff:
18 minutes at 1kW generation or 1 hour @ 300W

As you can see with this basic example, the time of day when you boil the kettle (heat the room, wash the clothes, cook the dinner) makes a big difference to the cost of your electricity bill. In other words, when you use your appliances (when you have solar panels) affects the overall cost on your power bill.

This is still relevant if you don’t have solar panels because you know how much each appliance cost you. However it is more important if you have “Time of Use” metering, where you pay more during certain times of the day – peak times.

To expand on this…

As another example, if your solar panels are generating more than 1kW between 9am and 3pm and you use a 1kw appliance throughout that period, your net electricity import would effectively be zero.

If you are generating more than 1kW and only using 1kW, you could actually be exporting electricity and earning money (though not much), and paying nothing for the use of your appliance.

This is how you save money on your power bills.

So going back to the beginning and the curves that I presented….

The time you generate your electricity should determine when you use your most power hungry appliances. If you are only generating 100W of power from your solar panels, when you use a 2400W appliance it will cost you a lot of money!


If you are generating 2400W of power from your solar panels, and you turn on a 2400W appliance, it will cost you nothing.


Now that we have a very tiny feed-in tariff how do we reduce our electricity costs?

Reducing our electricity costs

  • We need to use the power that our solar panels generate !
  • We need to turn on appliances that use high amounts of electricity during periods that our solar panels generate the most electricity.
  • We need to limit power consumption during times our solar panels are generating low amounts of electricity – or understand that it will cost us for importing power from the grid!

For those of us without solar panels:

  • We turn off lights when we walk out of the room,
  • We boil one cup of water for one cup of tea,
  • We turn off appliances at the power point (where possible) to reduce standby power consumption.

If you have “Time of Use” metering:

  • We use our power hungry appliances during off peak time. (usually between 10pm and 7am)
  • We turn off lights when we walk out of the room,
  • We boil one cup of water for one cup of tea,
  • We turn off appliances at the power point (where possible) to reduce standby power consumption.
  • We limit power consumption during peak times. (usually between 2pm and 10pm)

Now back to Alan Cuthbertson’s article about solar panels

I have subscribed to Alan’s newsletters for only a few months; Alan provides tips for energy efficiency. In his latest newsletter article he presents information on payback times for solar panels. Rather that try to summarise his informative article on solar panels, I have included this extract for you to read directly. (A big thank you to Alan for allowing me to use his article.)

Alan writes:

A great time to buy solar panels [May 2017 newsletter]

The most cost effective way to take a significant  action on Climate Change is to install solar panels.

12 months ago panels cost around $1,200 for 1 kw of pan¬els and they generated 1300 kwh per year.

If you used all of the power, saving 30 cents a kwh, it took 3 years to pay them off. However, if you used none of the power, exporting it all to the grid you got paid 6 cents a kwh and it took 15 Years to pay it off. The red graph shows how long it takes to pay it off, depending on how much power you used.


Now panels have dropped to around $1,100 and as of July 1st, Victorian feed in tariffs increase to 11 cents. If you use all the power, the payback time has dropped marginally to 2.8 years, but the real change is if you export all of your power. Payback is under 8 years. Most people use around 30% of the power, giving a payback of 5 years. Better than most other investments.

So, get out there and buy panels!

Perversely, this increased feed in tariff is a disincentive to buy batteries! When you could charge them with power that was worth 6 cents, the economics was almost there. Now, if you are using power worth 11 cents, batteries are much harder to justify.


Thank you  to Alan for allowing me to use an extract of his newsletter to show you how by using your solar panels effectively you can reduce the time it takes to pay them off.

Alan is far more knowledgeable in the area of energy efficiency than I; my expertise predominantly lies in electricity.

A battery brief

While I haven’t spoken about batteries (this short article became long – as usual), the current state of battery development is such that batteries are currently not cost effective. Batteries currently have a very high initial cost and a very limited life span.

Due to this, it is far more cost effective to use your solar panels more efficiently, and import the small amount of electricity you need from the grid. As the price of batteries become lower, and the cost of electricity increases, battery storage will become more cost effective and more feasible.

Batteries currently cost around $10,000, but they also have around a 10 year life span. That means that you need to make a saving of $1000 per year, just to cover the initial cost of your batteries – and you need to do this within their 10 year lifespan.


On top of this $1000 per year saving for your batteries, you also need to make enough savings to pay back the cost of your panels. Therefore this doesn’t sound cost effective to me at present.

In my opinion, at this stage the cost of batteries is such that it is currently cheaper to use your appliances efficiently, during the peak generation period of your solar panels.

Once the cost of batteries decreases, purchasing in using batteries will become more cost effective.

Another but…

If however you can’t connect to the grid – i.e. you are in a remote location – batteries will be an essential component of your system.

I hope that this article helps you to understand how the use of appliances increases your electricity bills (or decreases them). I also hope that my basic description of solar panels helps you to understand how they work, and how you can use them for your benefit to reduce your electricity costs.

As Alan has said in his newsleter – now is “A great time to buy solar panels!”

But you just have to know how to use them efficiently to get the most out of them!

Bye for now,


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#ElectricityPrices #AusElectricity #SustainableEnergy #SolarPower #EnergyEfficiency

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A DODO in flight

Why would a modern telecommunications choose the name of an extinct bird –

Because they are complete and utter imbeciles.

This blog post is really just a great big whinge about a telecommunicaitons company that is quite hopeless. And while I often have a whinge, this is the biggest whinge that I have had by F   A   R.

The crux of it…

Don’t ever use DODO for your home phone/internet. Or ANYTHING ELSE ON THIS PLANET – unless you’re mad of course!

We have finally got our phone/internet connected today having waited nearly 7 weeks for the privilege.

We organised a move from our old address to our new location on 8th March 2017. It was specified to be activated on 7th April 2017, giving them one whole month to organise themselves.

I knew of course that they would stuff it up, as they had stuffed up the last move (only 6 months before that)!

I even phoned the idiots at DODO to confirm that everything was OK two weeks before the 7th April. They confirmed that everything was going as planned and that I would receive a text message when it was connected.

I waited…..

And waited……………….

And Waited…………………………………

……………………………………….but no text message – which was ominous!!!

Low and behold I turned up to the new house on the 7th April and there was no phone connection. I was not surprised!

After quite a few attempts to contact them (on expensive mobile calls), we were told there had been a technical issue.

Dodo were using Optus as their service provider at our previous location. According to DODO, Optus had indicated that they would connect us but then later declined the service request to reconnect us at our new location. According to Dodo (who I wouldn’t trust as far as I could kick them) Optus didn’t tell Dodo.

….   And of course DODO didn’t tell us, so we didn’t know about it until we arrived on site at our new home on 7th April.

Ho hum….

We were then told that we had to connect using Telstra as our new service provider who apparently said that there was an active service at the premises already. They therefore wouldn’t connect us unless we could provide proof of occupancy.

This of course is very bloody hard to provide when you have no internet/phone/fax or connection to anything web based.

Eventually we were told that we could pay an extra $300 to speed up the process, and install a new line.

I beg your bloody pardon! WTF?

We were then told that it could take another 14 and 24 days to deliver the new service. This was on top of the 5 weeks we had already waited.

After a half hour phone call about 1 week ago now, I made it quite clear that they were complete imbeciles and that they should have checked along the way to make sure of what was going on. Of course their response was of to blame everyone else but themselves for their cockups.

I was told that we would still be waiting up to two more weeks for a connection to take place, and that it wasn’t their fault!

Of course it wasn’t their fault!

Imagine having to take responsibility for something!

After various SMS messages during the last week, I finally got a message that seemed promising. A message indicating that our service was now connected.

Sadly that would have been too easy. When I tried to connect – nothing.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Of course, how could they possibly have got this final part correct! Dodo had changed my username and password but didn’t tell me!!! Why would you tell your customer that they had a new username and password – that would not be logical!

After another long phone call, I was given my new username and password.

They did get one thing right during this process. We have a new “silent” telephone number – Oh but DODO, you are supposed to tell your customer what the phone number actually is!

What is it you idiots!!!!

After phoning DODO, I managed to get my new username and password, and upon accessing my account later on in the evening to find out my new number, my account still has our old phone number listed – from three years ago – it has changed three times since then… but that’s another story…

Further to this fiasco, I have now found that they have charged us $169 for God knows what, and deleted our previous account. I no longer have access to any of our previous invoices. I can’t find out what they have or haven’t charged us previously… Some of the $169 I am sure we have already paid when we organised the new bloody phone line!

Absolute bloody imbeciles these guys.

We organised a phone to be connected on 8th march. We finally got it today. nearly 7 weeks later.

Efficiency with DODO –

7 weeks to connect a telephone line – Woohoo,

I wonder if this is why they named themselves after an extinct bloody bird!

Oh and to make matters worse…

We were already 7 months into a 24 month contract with these fools before this fiasco.  Low and behold they have decided to restart the contract back from the fucking beginning again. We are now back at the beginning of another 24 month contract!!!

God almighty – when will it end!

These guys are the most useless bunch of pricks I have ever come across in my entire life!

Complete and utter imbeciles!!!!!

This isn’t the first time they have stuffed up our service. The last move (7 months ago) wasn’t as bad, but we ended up having three different phone numbers over three weeks. During the process we lost our service when they “apparently” connected the cables into the wrong exchange. They blamed Optus of course!

I wonder if they will get it all sorted tomorrow when I phone them for about the 10th time in the last two weeks to sort out this mess!

Bye for now,


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#DodoAustralia #accan #optus

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Housing affordability

Good morning readers.

Taken from SMH: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/how-to-fix-sydneys-housing-affordability-problem-20160725-gqd42f.htmlThis will be a multi-part blog where I will look at housing affordability in Sydney. The idea is to raise:

  1. House prices
  2. Tax concessions (relating to housing)
  3. Low interest rates
  4. Loans and lending practices
  5. Mortgages

As you might know, during the last six months we have been searching for a new home. If you follow my blog, you might have seen – https://blogofgreg.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/were-moving/ and https://blogofgreg.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/were-moving-part-2/.

I wanted to write about our journey through the process of selling our family home and buying a new one. I particularly wanted to write about the purchase process, as I have seen some really significant issues over the last six months.

Part 1. House prices

Sydney has the second most expensive housing market in the world.

In Sydney we have what some say is the second most expensive housing marking in the world – second only to Hong Kong. This fluctuates depending on the time of year and the article/s you read. Some put Sydney as the fourth most expensive.

I believe that this figure is determined by comparing median wage to median house prices.

Whatever the case, for a small country of about 25 million people, and a city (Sydney) of about 5 million this is quite obscene.

Over the last 70 years, owning your own home provided financial security for Australians. A roof over your head was certain, you had equity in your own home, there was certainty in your housing expenses and standard of living.

Over recent years (the last decade or so), our governments have classified home ownership as a privilege. In their minds it would seem that owning a house is no longer guaranteed and should not be guaranteed by Government.

What is certain is that home ownership for first home buyers and our children would appear unlikely to ever be affordable into the future (at least in Sydney and Melbourne – but many other capital cities in Australia as well).
This places Australians in a position where financial security and a certain standard of living will never again be guaranteed!

Financial security and standard of living into the future will never again be guaranteed by current Governments

What a disgrace!

The Government’s response to house prices

The Honorable John Alexander MP - taken from: http://www.anc.org.au/news/Media-Releases/Australian-MP-slams-Azerbaijan-on-Human-Rights-and-Karabakh-in-Federal-ParliamentAs a result of high house prices, the Government commissioned a team to review housing affordability in Australia. The commission was chaired by MP John Alexander.

Following the report, Alexander commented in the local paper, suggesting something along the lines of

‘if you are a first home buyer in Sydney, don’t expect to ever be able to afford a home’

[I was unable to confirm the newspaper that I have paraphrased this from, but I believe that it was from the Northern District Times]

Another comment in the media by Minister John Alexander shows the distorted focus of our Government. (This statement was in response to the Labor Party’s (currently in opposition) desire to reduce negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions to investors):

Mr Alexander said Labor’s policy would reduce the number of investors bidding for property, and hurt those looking to sell.

“We must not hurt the many thousands of mums and dads who work hard to pay their mortgage in the hope of building up equity,” [Northern District Times 30th March 2016]

That’s all well and good John, but what about future generations who will never have the opportunity to build equity in their own home, have housing or financial security.

This statement by Alexander clearly shows that the government is focused on the now, and not the well being of future generations. Which is probably why Governments keep ending up in a mess.

Our experience

Investors - taken from: http://stockcharts.com/articles/journal/2014/08/a-game-of-21--21-investors--21-rules.html

During our attempt to buy a home over the last six months we saw many different issues relating to house prices.

  • Some were related to investors with significant amounts of cash,
  • Some were related to Chinese investors with what appeared to be significant amounts of cash [likely Chinese, but Asian at least – the Chinese are buying up Sydney and Melbourne in particular]. They would essentially look at the property on the day, and buy it without ever seeing it before. They would be happy paying $150k more than it was worth, because they are looking at the property from a land banking perspective.
  • Some were related to emotional buyers who were just desperate to own a home, often competing with investors. [The word desperate here is important to note!]

Market forces

Predominantly Governments have indicated that the high cost of housing is due to supply and demand. During periods of high supply, housing is cheaper because there are more houses and less competitors per house. Competitors can walk away and look at the next house.

When supply is low and demand is high, the prices are higher as there are more competitors per house. Buyers are more desperate (note this word), as there aren’t many houses for them to move on to.Supply and demand - taken from: https://infograph.venngage.com/p/94064/supply-and-demand

This is a typical “market” response that doesn’t look at the real issues. In my opinion, this type of response is a way of ignoring the real causes of housing costs, and it reduces our capacity to address the problem.

As housing is a market driven system, each time a home in the suburb fetches a high price, it sets a precedent for similar homes being sold in the area. Sellers expect a “comparable sale” price – higher price – and generally get it because buyers are desperate in this current market!

While I noted above that supply and demand have a big play on house prices, it is a bit more complicated than that.

There are investors in the market in record numbers, who have the backing of banks with interest only loans. If they have capital in other properties, the banks are more likely to lend them large sums of money. The chances that an owner occupier could compete with them, and succeed, is limited. Should they try to compete and drive up the price, a precedent will be set and similar properties will be marketed at the newly set high levels – we saw this continuously.

Interest rates are at record lows. What this means is that banks are lending massive amounts of money to buyers for properties that are well over-valued. This allows buyers to spend more, competing for limited stock as emotional buyers. The interest rate and lending issue will be discussed at a later stage.

In Australia (and probably around the world), we have an ageing population. Older people are wanting to stay in their own home and aren’t downsizing. Sometimes family members come to stay with them so that the older person can stay living in their own home.

Sometimes the older person has carers that come to help them during the week; they can seek meal deliveries or other help around their home. The older person can remain independent and stay were they are living for longer.

For those who would want a smaller home, the cost of selling and buying a home is prohibitive and they can’t afford it, nor manage with the massive changes that are involved. Hence they don’t sell until they are forced to by health or family reasons.

Often in these homes there are bedrooms that are not being used; we call these empty nesters.

These are just some of the other issues beyond normal supply and demand based house prices.

Stamp duty

As mentioned, stamp duty is prohibitively expensive. State Government’s charge stamp duty on house purchases, at it varies with cost of house. The more expensive the house, the more stamp duty you pay.

As an example, a house purchased at $1,000,000 will have a stamp duty bill of around $40,490. A house purchased at $1,500,000 will incur a stamp duty bill of  around $67,990 (there are some other expenses that are not included as well). As you can see, stamp duty is not a flat rate, nor a flat percentage, but changes with increasing value of the property. This is a significant problem in this inflated market and stops people selling.

One of the issues with stamp duty is that charges have not changed (percentage wise) as house prices have increased. What this means is that as the median house price has risen, the stamp duty has also risen, but out of proportion to the median house price. The Government is unlikely to lower stamp duty as they are making record earnings from it.

Sadly though, if the Government were to reduce stamp duty, buyers would then have more money to pay for a house (at least in their own mind) and spend more on the house, and less on stamp duty.

This is exactly what happened with the first home buyers grant. So lowering stamp duty isn’t the answer, particularly as there are many buyers who can get a big loan (at least at present).

Interest rates

I will cover this in more detail in a coming blog, but…

Sadly, just after we sold our home, interest rates were lowered by the central bank. Immediately after this we noticed house prices go up by about 10%! For us, that meant that we were now competing with people who were lent more money, or thought they could afford, bigger loans.


We weren’t prepared to have a big loan, and we are smart enough to understand that;

  1. we have to pay it back with interest
  2. should interest rates rise we would have to pay back more
  3. should there be a change in the financial market, job losses etc., we could get into financial trouble (and many people are currently, or soon will be)


The outcome was that some buyers (investors in particular), were prepared to pay larger amounts for the houses that were selling for $100k – $150k less just a month earlier.

Now the central bank (the RBA) have indicated that they are concerned that raising interest rates will cause significant numbers of people to default on their loans – perhaps they should have thought about this earlier.

As an aside, apparently 1 in 5 mortgagees are in financial stress. A slight increase in interest rates, a dip in the economy, job losses, Government changes, could cause them to default. Sounds a bit scary!

I will talk about his more later.

Desperate buyers

Bid - from: http://www.nordonews.com/2016_08_01_archive.html

This kind of speaks for itself.

The housing market is very tight. There are relatively few houses on the market which has resulted in more competition and higher prices. Desperate buyers have been prepared to pay greater than 10% more than they should for housing at auction.

Desperate buyers have been watching the market increase by 20% per year, and know that if they don’t pay the price being asked at auction, they won’t even get into the market.

They believe that if they don’t get into the housing market now, next year the house prices will be 20% higher again. Their cash will effectively be devalued and they might have to buy a smaller home, a unit, or buy into a different area or town (that has fewer jobs).

Desperate buyers who pay big sums of money for houses, ultimately push up the prices in surrounding streets, set a precedent, and inadvertently push prices up.

Desperate buyers are desperate. They make rash emotional decisions and often get themselves in trouble. Unfortunately there are significant problems in paying too much for a property, and I will look at that in at later blog.

I will talk about these issues more in coming weeks, but for now I need to get back to packing boxes!

Bye for now,


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#sydney #housing #auspol #affordability #ausproperty #homeowners #crisis #affordablehousing

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Electricity costs

A different blog for this evening.

I thought I would share our electricity usage with you.

I am quite proud of our family.

As a household of three we use about 18% of the electricity of an average three person household. Even more interesting is that we only use around 37% of the electricity of an average 1 person household.

The graph shows it all!

Our electricity usage

In this current rental home (we are soon moving – see the next post) we have time of day metering – see the different colours on the graph. What that means is that at peak times of the day, we pay double what most other people pay. However during off peak times (between 10pm and 7am), we pay half of what most people pay. We therefore do things like washing after 10pm to reduce our electricity usage.

If you look at the graph above you will see two bars. The first bar shows the previous quarter, and the second bar shows the last quarter.

Comparing the two you will notice that we have reduced our peak usage (purple) during this summer, as we have become more familiar with our usage and metering. Because it was summer we had an overall increase in electricity usage (not unforseen), but predominantly that was off-peak (green).

What is fantastic though, even though it was summer, we actually had a decrease in peak usage (purple) with a slight increase in shoulder usage (red). Overall this meant that summer this year was cheaper than it was the previous summer, even though electricity costs had increased.


While we have air conditioning, we use it rarely. During summer this year, we preferred fans on most occasions – though some days were just too difficult. Apart from a few really bad days/nights, we didn’t use our air conditioning at all. [As we have a very leaky rental house, there wasn’t much point anyway 🙂 ]

At our home, we are quite frugal with our electricity usage. We actively turn devices off and check our consumption on a regular basis – I also have a live meter that allows me to monitor my usage whenever I want to check it.

Also, I have either bought or made switches (I am an electronics technician) that will turn off our television/DVD/HiFi/Computers etc. You could just turn off your power points if they are accessible.

We cut our night time electricity to around 50W (according to our relatively inaccurate meter), which is quite low in this electronics age. I could cut it down lower, but I like to have my router running so that I can listen to internet podcasts as I go to sleep, or when I wake up during the night – very wasteful I know 🙂 . If I turned it off, I could reduce my electricity consumption by another 7 to 15W!

Over the last decade, Australia has had vastly increasing electricity costs. While it is said that we have a relatively low cost of electricity by world standards, I have watched prices more than triple in NSW since privatisation.

If you are facing high electricity usage like most Australians,  one way for you to mitigate some of your usage costs is to monitor, and actively reduce your electricity usage.

By monitoring what you have turned on during the day and night, you might be able to reduce your bills as we have done, and make your yearly energy costs lower than they currently are.

If we can do it, you can do it!!!

We could do even better than we are, but I am just lazy!!! Perhaps in our new home, I will install a switch beside my bed that I can turn on to start my internet.

Good grief, talk about lazy 🙂

I would have to say that I am extremely proud that we have done so well, and that we have an electricity consumption that is just slightly more than one third of a single person household in NSW.

I think that is quite fantastic!

A proof that it can be done through determination!

I will write more about this in coming months/years as we start to review how we manage our energy in our new home – that is hopefully less leaky!

Bye for now,



PS:     I must note: at that rental property we had gas cooking and solar panels. We also had gas water heating, which I found extremely inefficient and costly. The gas cooking does reduce our electricity usage, and it is definitely cheaper than electric cooking (let alone more efficient). However as gas prices go up, electricity could work out cheaper eventually – particularly if you have solar panels.

In my experience from this property, off-peak hot water (which we had at our previous property) worked out a bit cheaper than gas hot water at this property.

We are about to get solar panels at our new house, and I will comment on that in weeks to come.


Bye for now,


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#ElectricityPrices #AusElectricity #SustainableEnergy #SolarPower #EnergyEfficiency

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Risks on the water

Good afternoon readers,

We decided to have a day out near the water this afternoon; it was very hot today. We decided on a quiet little area where the munchkin can play, and still be safe in the water.

Deaths in water

As you might know, there have been a lot of deaths in NSW in and around water over recent weeks. Before the holiday season began, I read that deaths in recent years were predominantly males. The statistics showed that over confidence, risk taking, drugs and alcohol were some of the contributing factors.

Hmmm I thought… Interesting.

Until about three years ago, I was a kayaking instructor, but due to an injury, I decided to have time out, and give my body a rest. However the aspiration is still there, and I have slowing been working my way back up to kayaking again.

Over the years, I have seen lots of silly things on the water. People who think they can just jump into a kayak and paddle. Even with a sit on top kayak, there are some risks, and people often get themselves into the water, and sometimes in danger.

Oh well I hear you say, that’s OK – kayaking’s pretty safe isn’t it?

Well, maybe, and maybe not.

Some kayaking scenarios

What would happen if you hit your head on the boat as you tip yourself into the water – or you hurt yourself in some way. What happens if you can’t get yourself out of the cockpit easily (sit in kayak), or what happens if you are in shallow water and get caught on submerged debris; perhaps you can’t reach your kayak so that you can hang onto it again?

Generally you drown.

As I was going through my training as an instructor (some time ago now), we were told of an incident where a mixed experienced and less experienced group went out paddling, but they didn’t do through enough checks of the weather. Risks were taken.

The group got into trouble due to a weather change, and at least one person died – even though there were some experienced paddlers with them.

Sadly it happens, and all too often.

So what is the point of this post?

Today I saw an incident that I thought was going to become quite serious.

A young man, probably in his late 20s was in a kayak that looked to be a kids boat. It was windy, probably 15-20 knots, with gusts around 25 knots at least. It was a “tippy” boat, a lot of rocker, and very narrow.

For inexperienced paddlers, the wind was dangerous. For experienced paddlers, you would seriously consider your options, and not paddle unless you had to. Even after about 8 years of paddling, I thought the conditions were even of concern to me as a relatively experienced paddler.

While I was drying and wiping the sand off my feet (we were packing up), I was watching this person some distance from shore. It was obvious that they were a novice, and I thought they were a bit far out for the conditions. They were also very near the river channel, which increased the risks substantially.

I had previously checked the tides, and was aware that the tide was going out. We were essentially in the middle between low and high tide, which meant that the current was at its highest.

The next time I looked up from wiping my feet, I noticed that the person was no longer sitting in the boat, but in the water. The boat was upside down.

(my thoughts as the situation unfolds are “blockquote” and in bold)

Hmmm I thought, this looks interesting.

As I watched, the wind and tide were pushing the man further into the channel, and he appeared to be getting himself into trouble. He was floundering, and trying (unsuccessfully) to get back into the boat.

Hmmm I thought, this is starting to look a bit concerning.

At this point in time, I said to “B”, is that guy in the kayak getting into trouble? “B” didn’t know, and wasn’t even aware of what was going on – like everyone else on the beach!

The next moment, I see a hand go up, and he is waving to the beach. Nobody seemed to notice!

A boat motors by, and I thought, they will stop  and render assistance, but they keep going…

Hmmm, OK, he is now being pushed further into the channel by the wind and current, and closer to the bridge…

A jet boat zooms by, and I think, they will stop – Nope!

Nobody on the beach seems to have noticed, or they don’t seem terribly concerned

Hmmm… I am not quite sure what to make of this situation. I don’t want to overreact, but the situation seems to be getting more serious.

Some of the recent drownings were rescuers trying to rescue victims – what should I do?

Is the guy really in trouble, do I put myself at risk to be a rescuer?


As I watched a bit longer, the guy is still floundering and I see him wave again – he appears to be getting a bit more desperate. Then the waving stops; the boat appears still; I can’t see any movement.

At this point my heart starts racing as I realise that I will have to act. I have enough experience to know the behaviour of water filled boats, and inexperienced paddlers – and it is windy and gusty – my concern for my safety is very high, and I don’t want to be another casualty.

Should I attempt to rescue this person? It is high risk for me, having not paddled much over the last three years! My competence and my experience is less than optimal – what should I do?

Panicking people often struggle, fight their rescuer and often cause a rescuer to drown. I don’t want this to be me.

If he is unconscious, can I safely bring him back to shore, without risking my life too? I can’t see any movement.

Based on what I was witnessing, I honestly believed that this was going to be death number 15 for NSW!!!

I am trained in kayak rescue/recovery (getting a person back in their boat), I am a former instructor only three years ago. But I have to assume that this person is a complete novice, and doesn’t know anything about rescue/recovery – it is potentially high risk.

I raced to the water, threw on my PFD (Personal Flotation Device – used to be called a life jacket), got myself into my boat and raced out

Good grief, am I going to have to rescue this bloody idiot?

Am I putting my life at risk trying to rescue this person?

Will I be the next casualty?


When I got there, the guy was conscious but appeared to be a bit stressed, a bit embarrassed, and some of his family had swum out to try to help him (about 80m [about 90yd]). When I asked him if he was OK, he indicated that when he tipped himself in, he was trying to wave away the motor boats that were getting a bit too close, the wind and chop had tipped him in. He couldn’t get himself back into the boat, and needed help, he was drifting further out into the channel where there were motor boats!

Good grief!!!

He was not wearing a PFD, he was in a boat that was inadequate for the conditions, it was very windy and gusty, he was too far out from shore, he was inexperienced and wind and current were pushing him into a channel where the current was at its fastest.

This was a recipe for another death on the water in NSW – simply because the guy was stupid and thought he was more clever than he actually was!!!

I didn’t have the heart to berate him for his stupidity, as he was already embarrassed and a bit stressed. I as at least glad that he was OK, and that I didn’t have to rescue the silly bastard. I was also very relieved that I didn’t have to put myself at any further risk.

This situation could easily have led to another death. Should this person have drifted further into the channel, experienced some stronger wind gusts, got hit by a motor boat, or become tired, another drowning could very easily have occurred.

So going back to my comments above. Water is dangerous, it can easily become a death sentence as this incident demonstrates.

With regards to kayaking, just because you have a new kayak or canoe, and that you think you can easily paddle it, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get yourself into trouble.

It might seem to be a simple task to paddle a kayak, but, as seen in today’s real life situation, it can also be simple enough to get yourself into some very serious trouble and even die.


Some simple questions to ask yourself should you have a new kayak or canoe for Christmas.

  • How does the boat handle in wind and waves – how do you cope with wind or waves?
  • What do you do if you tip yourself into the water – what if you are a long way from shore?
  • Can you get yourself out of trouble if you get into it?
  • Where is the nearest help – can they get to you should you get into trouble?
  • Do you know how to handle tides, or currents – when is it most dangerous?
  • Do you know what the weather will be like as the day progresses?
  • Do you know the shipping rules?
  • Have you got all of the essential safety equipment?
  • … and these are only a some of things you need to know.

If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, you probably shouldn’t be getting into your new kayak this summer.


If you don’t have a PFD on, you shouldn’t be paddling AT ALL!!!


There are basic courses to bring you up to speed. If you have a new kayak, it would be a good time to phone a few providers – that is of course if you value your life, the lives of your children, or your family or friends you lend you kayak to.

Am I being too harsh here?

Water kills – do you want to be the next statistic?

Water can be very dangerous and people regularly die. If you don’t know what you are doing in your new kayak, you could be the next casualty!

Please use your brain!

Bye for now,


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#kayak #kayaks #kayaklife #kayaking #water #paddle #river #adventure #canoe #canoeing #NSWCanoe #PaddleNSW #AusCanoe

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Nasty Neighbours

Good morning readers,

Nasty Neighbour Pic
From: Here

I haven’t written for quite a while, as we were selling our home and moving. Although there are a number of other articles in the back-burner, I haven’t had time to finish them.

I have a bit of an unfortunate story to share in this post. I haven’t talked about it much with people, because I was hoping it would just “go away”; apparently it hasn’t L

So the subject of this post is “Nasty Neighbours”.

One of the driving reasons for moving from our previous home, was that we had an extremely nasty neighbour.

This person is quite clearly mad, but it isn’t noticeable if you just meet her a few times; she just comes across as weird.

For about the last five years, this neighbour has been abusive and just plain nasty. Initially I had tried to solve problems with her by rationalising, discussing, and talking – that’s what you do to solve problems isn’t it? It always ended in her being abusive and nasty.

The first incident that I experienced (probably about five years ago now) was after the local council collected our household waste bin one day. The truck picked up our bin, emptied it, and then placed it down on “her” nature strip. No matter how I reasoned, I was to blame, and I had to put my bin somewhere else.

No matter what I did, there was always something that would provide reason for her to be abusive. When we started to repair our house, it was in a degraded state, the abuse and complaints got ten times worse.

It continued to escalate from here.

During another incident she said: ‘your a piece of shit dickhead, your a piece of shit. We have the beautiful house, and we owns it, not like you. You take your grandmother’s house and now she’s dead. ha ha ha. Oh well, I’ll have to make another complaint to council…’

This was the style of behaviour we were putting up with.

She started filming everything that we were doing in the property, listening in to our conversations, and monitoring what we were doing at all times.

She started to make complaints to various authorities (WorkCover, Local Council, and apparently the police), claiming that we were doing things that we shouldn’t be doing. According to our local municipal council, the complaints included everything that she had ever taken offense to.

After the first visit by council, the council officer went away and dismissed what she had complained about, believing that there was no validity in what she complaining about. WorkCover came out and weren’t interested and left immediately.

However the complaints to the authorities didn’t stop, and council came back out again (about five times in total, with several more phone calls from them).

Eventually the only issue that council had with anything that we had done, was that they wanted us to lower some shelves 25mm, (1”) so that the chance of water going over her fence was nill. There was never a chance anyway because of the type of material, and the distance from the fence, but it was best to just keep them happy and do what they wanted.

Because this woman didn’t get to punish us as she appeared to want – for some crimes against her that don’t exist – she then started to become more threatening.

Expressions such as “I am going to get you”, “revenge is sweet” were now the approach.

The monitoring of our activities became so ridiculous that if I walked out into our backyard, she would appear to come out of her house and stand beside her fence to listen in to what we were saying and doing. We often saw her looking out of her window into our backyard.

Of course, as a result of this abuse and threats, we approached the police. While they did take one formal report (she had threatened us with personal financial information – presumably gleaned from listening in to our conversations), their general response was ‘there isn’t anything that we can do. Either you have to put up with it, or you have to leave’. They suggested seeing a lawyer and taking out a personal violence order (PVO). They were generally unsympathetic.

Having spoken to the police assistance line about four times, spoken to three different officers at Gladesville Police station, the only officer whom we saw who was sympathetic, was a female officer – but she couldn’t do anything either. At least she was more willing to help. She indicated that should the nasty neighbour start screaming abuse over our fence, try to have a witness (if possible) and call the police to attend immediately.

So after speaking to the police we did approach a lawyer, who said ‘there isn’t much anyone can do. The police always tell clients to take out a PVO because they don’t want to deal with the matter. Unless the neighbour attacks you in some way, the chance of success is slim; you could end up having to pay her legal fees.’

Hence we didn’t pursue the legal approach.

We spoke to council about the abuse, spying, and filming of us. We showed them one of our recordings where she was being abusive towards us. They indicated that she appeared mentally disturbed. They also said that in the past they had tried to seek medical treatment for neighbours who were acting in this way (apparently it happens often), but it had not been successful, and had cost council significant amounts of money in the past. They indicated that they weren’t going to help us either.

But her monitoring of us just didn’t stop. I often heard shuffling beside her fence when I was in the back yard, and if I walked towards the shuffling, I would see her side door quietly open and close again.

The police said that we could put cameras up on our house, and that she might feel insecure enough to leave us alone. We eventually put cameras up.

It seemed pretty obvious what she was doing to us.

Ultimately, after five years of this, we decided we had had enough and decided to move. The police wouldn’t do anything, the lawyers wouldn’t do anything, and council wouldn’t do anything. These were our only avenues to protect ourselves.

Nobody can live like this for years, nor should they have to. We sold our home, which was in a partly renovated state and lost significant amounts of money. House prices went up after we sold, and we are now about $200,000 behind. Not including the losses from our house sale and part renovation which probably cost around another $100,000.

So, as you would know from reading this blog (https://blogofgreg.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/were-moving-part-2/), we put our house on the market; we sold moved about three months ago.

So now you know a large part of the reason why we moved.

The next part of the saga…

Having believed that we had escaped this piece of shit woman, and her obsession with us… she saw me at the local shops and immediately started being nasty again – in front of all of the other shop staff and customers.

I turned my back and walked away. However she just kept going and followed me, trying her hardest to be as nasty as she could. As I paid and walked out of the store, she said “see you at [our] street” – I am obviously not going to disclose where we currently live! But somehow this piece of shit has found out! We have a silent phone number, and can’t be found anywhere on the web!

Fuck me.

After five years of this shit, having chased us out of our family home, and not even living anywhere near her, this nasty piece of shit is still having a go at us. She even knows where we live, and is, in her own way, still threatening us. She is so obsessed with us, that she just can’t let go.

For God’s sake, when will it end!

Once again, of course, I phoned the police, who again said, ‘sorry we can’t do anything. Unless she stands outside the front of your house, threatens you, screams abuse and vitriol, or attacks you in some way, we can’t do anything. You will need to see a court magistrate and take out a PVO.’

Same old story.

What I don’t understand, is why nobody can stop her. Don’t we have rights as well? Or is it that deranged people need to be carefully protected! Good grief what is wrong with this picture!

When I asked the police if this sort of thing is a regular occurrence, they indicated that it was. It might be a next door neighbour, or the person down the street, but it happens all of the time.

It makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with our society.

While I completely understand mental illness and am compassionate, there is a limit to my compassion. Having put up with this abuse, threats and harassment for five years; having had NO protection from her by the authorities –

I want this deranged piece of shit woman kept away from me!!!

So that is our sad little story for the last five years – and why we moved! Apparently the sad little story is continuing – even after we have moved away from her! and no-one can, or wants to, do anything about it.

That’s it for now, today’s little whinge.

Bye for now,


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#mentalhealth #depression #mentalillness #wellbeing #nastyneighbour #abusiveneighbour #nswpolice #threatened #stalker

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The blockers

Dear readers,

While I am not in the habit of forwarding other peoples posts, or letters, this email from the activist group “GetUp” highlights why Australian politics is so dirty.

The Politicians highlighted within this article and video, are some of the many people within politics in Australia who make our society so undemocratic. They need to go, so that Australian politics can become democratic again, and finally work for the needs of the people – not vested interests.

Here is the post and video – if you haven’t already seen it.



From GetUp

You may not know Federal MP George Christensen, but he’s got a habit of calling younames – “gutless green grubs”, “eco-terrorists” and, just last week, “bastards”.1, 2, 3

And you’re not the only one. He’s made headlines for calling women stupid, joking about gay people suffering from AIDS and for telling people to “jump on the first plane and head back to where you come from”.4, 5, 6

Not one to stop at hate-mongering, Mr Christensen is a fervent champion of the Adani coal mine, which, if built, will wreak irreversible damage on our Reef. And George has used his time in parliament to attack climate science as “fiction” and viciously block climate legislation.7, 8

But the worst part? George doesn’t work alone. Mr Christensen is part of a minority group of far-right MPs who wield enormous, disproportionate influence over our politics.

Well-connected in the mining industry and beloved by the big end of town, this group of Abbott-era crusaders works relentlessly to drag our politics to the right. Prime Minister Turnbull lacks the the power to stop their influence, but if we act together, we can make a difference.

That’s why, this election, GetUp members are going after them, in an ambitious plan to pare back their undue, dangerous influence. So Greg, without further adieu, click here to meet ‘The Blockers’…


This campaign isn’t personal, despite the personalities involved. These MPs systematically undermine progress on those most urgent issues our movement fights for: respect for our multicultural communities, protection of Australia’s stunning environment, public funding for our local schools and hospitals.

Over 5,200 GetUp members have already kicked in an average donation of less than $40, to a $190,000 war chest to fund this ambitious election effort. The war chest is powering hyper-local campaigns in target electorates, thousands of phone calls to undecided voters, direct mail outs, digital, radio and print ads and over one million election day how-to-vote cards.

This is what a grassroots political revolution looks like – paid for by people, not corporate billionaires.

GetUp members are throwing everything they’ve got at unseating these hard-right ideologues – and the polling streaming in shows our national movement is turning the tide against them.

This election time, we’re doing the impossible – and it’s all thanks to people like you.

With 16 days to go, let’s give it all we’ve got.

Paul, for the GetUp team

PS – GetUp’s how-to-vote cards have the power to change the election outcome for these blockers – but not without volunteers to hand them out to undecided voters on election day. Do you have a few hours spare on July 2? Click here to sign up to volunteer at your local booth.

[1,2] ‘Nationals MP George Christensen calls Green activists ‘terrorists”, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September 2014
[3] ‘Election 2016: Coalition MP George Christensen referred to AFP over turtle ‘bribery’ allegation’, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2016
[4,5] ‘Abbott defends candidate critical of Jews, gays, women’, ABC News, 10 August 2010
[6] ‘Non-Australian protesters face deportation if charged’, ABC News, 18 September 2012
[7] ‘LNP backbencher George Christensen likens climate change to science fiction film plot’, ABC News, 9 July 2014
[8] ‘George Christensen: How do they vote?’, They Vote For You






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What is a LIBERAL

Rather than a blog post, I have created this acronym for what might be a:


L – Little
I – Infants
B – Bellowing
E – Endlessly
R – Rancid
A – Arrogant
L – Lies

Is this the picture!

What is a LIBERAL


Bye for now




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Political corruption in Australia

Good evening readers,

I have written about political corruption in Australia before, this time I wanted to comment on an aspect of corruption in Australian politics that sadly seems to be becoming more common!

Cake or Pie?

Australia is in the grips of a two month electoral campaign, with elections being held on 2nd July 2016. The usual lies and deceit are continuously arising – it brings a sour taste to my mouth!

Today (12th June 2016), through a media release (and also reported on the ABC), I have read that the two major political parties (the old, or dinosaur parties) in Australia, the Australian Labor Party, and the Liberal Party, have done a preference deal that would see some competitors preferenced last in the upcoming election.

The reason for this deal is to reduce political competition, and to try to maintain absolute power in government.

What is a preferential system

This section has just been updated to correct an error – my apologies. 13th June 2016.

taken from: http://www.aec.gov.au/voting/counting/hor_count.htm

A House of Representatives candidate is elected if they gain more than 50 per cent of the formal vote.

First, all of the number ‘1’ votes are counted for each candidate. If a candidate gets more than half the total first preference votes, that candidate will be elected.

If no candidate has more than half of the votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is excluded. This candidate’s votes are transferred to the other candidates according to the second preferences of voters on the ballot papers for the excluded candidate. If still no candidate has more than half the votes, the candidate who now has the fewest votes is excluded and the votes are transferred according to the next preference shown. This process continues until one candidate has more than half the total number of formal votes and is elected.

A distribution of preferences takes place in every division, even where a candidate already has an absolute majority of first preference votes. The result of this full distribution of preferences is used to calculate the two-party-preferred (TPP) statistics for divisions that have the Australian Labor Party and Coalition representatives as the final two candidates.

In divisions that do not have the Australian Labor Party and Coalition representatives as the final two candidates, a scrutiny for information is conducted to determine the TPP result. A scrutiny for information, in such cases, is a notional distribution of preferences to find the result of preference flows to the Australian Labor Party and Coalition candidates.

If you are interested in how votes in the senate are determined, which is different again, you can review the following document:


The corruption!

Unfortunately of late, this process is being used to block potential candidates from achieving a majority through preferences. The two major parties are doing deals to place potential rivals lower on the preference list, in order to block their ability to receive usable preferences.


Pathetically, even though Labor and Liberal hate each other, they would prefer to see each other in power, rather than have a real opponent (an independent or minor party) in that seat. It shows quite clearly how corrupt these two major parties have become.

To extrapolate, Labor would prefer to see a Liberal candidate in power, rather than a Greens candidate with more closely aligned policies. It shows you how pathetic they really are!

How and why

While there have been independents and smaller parties, like The Greens, Fred Nile, Australia First etc., for some time, their ability to achieve a majority vote has been small, and therefore their chances of attaining a position in Australia’s parliament has been small.

However, the general population are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the two major parties, and more people are voting for independents and smaller parties that better represents their values.

Unfortunately for the Labor Party or the Liberal party, the more seats they lose, the more seats that independents, The Greens or other minor parties achieve. This results in more alternative policies and opinions than the Labor Party or the Liberal Party – what we would call a democracy!

This is the very reason why they are trying to block other political representatives using the preference system.

A democratic system forces those in parliament to form coalitions, and debate policies in parliament. This can inhibit them from implementing their particular agendas, and block bad or ruthless policies.

However by corrupting the preferential voting system, as they continue to do, they can control who sits in parliament. This makes it more likely that they will get policies passed that suit their own agendas.

Such is democracy in Australia!

Two corrupt parties

So what does that mean for Australia.

The more the major parties use this kind of technique, the more it reduces our ability to democratically elect the representative of our choice. The political system becomes corrupt and controlled by those with the most power – or money!

This is not the first time that this sort of preference deal has occurred; it happens every election, and it won’t be the last.

The two “old”, or “dinosaur” parties have had power in Australia for a very long time. They have implemented their own form of democracy [almost] to the exclusion of all others for more than a century.

Our system, which purports to be a democratic system, is being manipulated by those in power, to maintain power – this is the corruption.

Realistically, the preferential system is flawed. It has the potential to be corrupted by those who feel threatened by opposition. This is becoming increasingly obvious.

As Hitler once did, our major political powers are [trying to] eliminate their competitors. They are backed by money, largely from the corporate world. By eliminating competitors they have a greater chance of implementing their own political agendas – unopposed.


As they say – Absolute power corrupts absolutely!


Is this democracy?

I would say NO!!!

What are your thoughts?




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We’re moving – part 2

Good morning world!

We're moving - from: http://www.picgifs.comA little while ago I wrote that we were planning to move:

Well, the time of sale is now right on our doorstep; we finally decided on an agent a bit over a week ago.

Today was the first day of the official advertising programme, and our house was listed on the web. Whoohoo!

We had a stylist assist us last Friday, designing our interior. As a result of that guidance, we worked feverishly over the weekend for a photo shoot on Monday.

Two days to empty the house (literally), and transform it into a comfortable and livable home. It was miraculous considering what the house looked like beforehand. Apparently we even surprised the agent, who didn’t think we could make it.

It has been a really crazy week – and it has really been a terrible drain on us, me in particular.I am also looking for other places to live at the same time as repairing this one, and getting it ready for sale.

A bit of history

My grandparents bought the home in 1954, and as my grandfather was a war serviceman (though he never left Australia – the war ended just before he was set to leave), he was entitled to a war service home as he served in the army in Australia.

It is a difficult time for my family, going through the sale process, as this has been my family’s home for three generations.

Our family was the first to ever live in this home; it was an area made available to the war service after the army moved out.

My grandparents (who bought the home) => My mother and uncle were raised in it => I (and my siblings) grew up in and around it => my family, and now my son have grown in it – my boy is still 4, but growing.

From my family:
two children, five grand children, one great grand child (and another four who visited from Melbourne), have lived in, and grown up in this home.

The house has changed little over the years, it remains basically as it was then. A humble, but functional home.

I thought that I would post a few (and perhaps the last ever) pictures that were taken as part of the advertising plan by Bresic Whitney (bresicwhitney.com.au)

Sadly, in this day and age in Sydney, most old houses are knocked down, and replaced with newer, more modern homes. It is both good and bad. This house is still standing after 62 years. The foundations are still solid, and there has been little movement over the years.

Few new houses would last so long!

Unfortunately, with modern life, the old houses don’t suit the lifestyle of new families and they are knocked down for newer, better (in some ways) homes.

But that means that the history – the memories – are knocked down with them. In this case, a whole generation of memories are gone with the bulldozer.

Much of my life has been spent in and around this home – my families home – so it is very sad, and very difficult to move. Once we move, it will only be a short time before the house is demolished, and land is flattened for a new development, and a new family to create new memories.


On the positive, it will also be a new start for my family, in a new home that we choose, that will suit our purposes.

So in that regard, it is also like a renewal for my new family.

I feel a bit sad at the moment, knowing that I will be moving soon; knowing that I will be leaving behind a home (that will be smashed up) that I grew up in for 45 years.

bye for now,

PS: there will be more updates, as we will be having an article written about my family in the local newspaper next week. Stay tuned!

In case you are interested in how our home is described on the web, this is it!


Our advertisement



With a 23m frontage & 657 sqm allotment, this cottage has development potential (subject to council approvals). In the meantime, it’s a ready rental prospect or neat home for a young family.

  • Easement free, big future possibilities
  • Potential duplex site (subject to council)
  • A corner block & highpoint of the area
  • District views & natural sunlight all round
  • Scope to capitalise on the views to city
  • Updated gas kitchen, tidy bath, garage
  • Near trains, express city bus, Macq Uni
  • Near top schools & 1 traffic light to city
  • Short stroll to Coxs/Blenheim Rd shops
  • First time property offered in over 60 years

Get to know North Ryde

Residents value this area for its family-friendly ambience and leafy environment. Yet it’s still within easy reach of the CBD, major shopping centres, and the M2. A true village feel. An array of quality public and private schools. Arguably the best-kept secret of the Ryde area.

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Visit Australia – and the dying Great Barrier Reef

I wanted to post this to my blog to highlight the deception of our current Liberal Government.

While some in the world would be aware of what our current Government is doing to our environment, it may not be widely known in the rest of the world.

In Australia our environment is becoming so degraded, that significant tourist destinations are at great threat.

Concerningly, our current Liberal Government is so deceptive, that even when our Great Barrier Reef is heading towards destruction, details of its demise is removed from literature, so that wider reporting doesn’t present the grim picture.

I have included an article published on:
that lists some of the facts about our Great Barrier Reef.

While this particular video attached to that article is “tongue in cheek”, the message is not, and it shows the length to which our current Liberal Government will go to, to hide the truth about Australia’s environmental crimes.



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We’re moving…

We're moving - from: http://www.picgifs.comAs you would know if you read this blog, I haven’t written anything much of late. While I have wanted to, there just hasn’t been any time.

What is going on!

we are moving!

Having lived in and around this family home for most of my life, my family has decided to move on.

It has been a difficult few years. We started down the renovation path several years ago. We approached builders and architects in an effort to build a home that was functional and usable for both business and family life.

I even started to replace the cladding in preparation of the big build – but it just wasn’t meant to be!

This home was build in post war Sydney – in the early 1950s. It is old, tired, and run down. The work involved in repairing, let alone remodeling this home was just too costly.

In fact sadly if we had continued to remodel and repair the home, it would actually add NO value to the property at all.

Such is life in Sydney, where the median home price is $1 million dollars!

While I could rant about the cost of housing in Sydney, a favourite rant of mine, it is a fact of life in Sydney – and one that we have to live with – or move out!

Since we made this decision about three weeks ago now, I have spent much of every day researching locations, interviewing real estate agents (some of whom I wouldn’t want to let them sell a packet of chips), and visiting open houses.

I will be very glad when it is all over.

It is tiring, and a bit worrying. Apparently we need to sell now, as winter is the best time to sell (you get the highest price), but it is a bad time to buy, as prices are also higher.

While we are not sure just how it will all work out, we will hopefully have our house sold in about two months, and hopefully moving into somewhere else either at the same time, or soon after.

Well it is again 11pm, and I am TIRED!

So off to bed for me,

Bye for now!




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Private Health Insurace – a ministers response

Good evening all,

I wanted to follow up from a previous post regarding private health insurance in Australia.

Following that post, I wrote to my local Federal MP, The Honorable John Alexander MP, questioning the operation of Private Health Insurance, and clauses contained within, that exclude conditions or place restrictions on them.

Just a couple of days ago, I received a reply from his office. The reply was of course quite typical in our capitalist economy, and it essentially said look elsewhere for a better, or cheaper, deal.

Because we all know that competition is the best answer to all of our problems!

As usual, there was the typical avoidance of the issue at hand, which was the exclusion of conditions and/or restrictions – which was the main reason for writing in the first place.


taken from: knowyourmeme.com

As the letter is interesting, I have decided to post the entire transcript below.

Response by:
Electorate Officer Simone Stark, for The Honorable John Alexander MP.



Stark, Simone (J. Alexander, MP) to me
29 Mar
Dear Greg,
Thank you for contacting John Alexander MP, John has asked me to respond on his behalf.
John appreciates your feedback and continued support.

Private Health Insurance (PHI) premium increases take effect from 1 April 2016.

The approved industry average premium increase is 5.59 per cent, however this figure is an average across all Private Health Insurers with some increases falling below this figure and some above it.

Table B lists the average premium increase for each Private Health Insurer, with some as low as 4 per cent.

We encourage consumers who are not happy with their insurer’s premium increase to shop around for the best deal they can get.

Every year, health funds increase their premiums so they can cope with the rising costs of claims and still provide their customers with the best services that they can.

This year the Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, asked all insurers to revise their applications for a premium increase to offer lower increases to consumers. Due to this, overall premium increases are $125 million less than what they would have been if the Minister had not asked insurers to revise their applications.

We understand that consumers are not happy about large PHI premium increases, and this is something we are committed on addressing through our forthcoming PHI reform package

Please be assured that John continues to recognise the importance of maintaining a dialogue with the electorate on all matters.

If you have any additional questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Kind regards,

Simone Stark

Electorate Officer
John Alexander OAM MP | Federal Member for Bennelong
44-46 Oxford Street, Epping NSW 2121
Electorate Office | P: (02) 9869 4288 F: (02) 9869 4833



A typical response from a government minister? What do you think?

Bye for now,




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Turnbull obsolete and backwards to 1945

A bizarre tax reform by our Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull thinks - badly

Malcolm Turnbull’s thought bubble


Having thought that we had got rid of our last dinosaur Prime Minister – Tony Abbott, our New’ish Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, now wants to turn back the clock to 1945?

In a modern era, where economies have changed since World War II, our Prime Minister wants to turn back the clock, and change components of our modern, although dysfunctional, tax system back to the time of world war II!

How peculiar that in modern times, a Prime Minister in the year 2016 can only look to a war period long past for his brilliant policy ideas!

Good grief, I would have thought that modern times required modern tax policies, but instead we have post war tax policies – that are well and truly obsolete.

Is this an indication of where the Liberal Party thinkers come from – the obsolete past?

Bye for now,




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