This is me second outing as guest co-host on Well May We Say, the Australian politics podcast from Jeremy Sear-Pirko in Melbourne. As usual we had opinions on things. The episode is titled “TVs Just Don’t Smash Like They Used To“.Continue reading “The 9pm Extra: Well May We Say episode 127, “TVs Just Don’t Smash Like They Used To””
Last Sunday the Australian government launched its COVIDSafe contact tracing app, and my week of Monday 26 April to Sunday 3 May 2020 contained a lot talking about it — for which I’m not paid of course. However my writing for ZDNet was about longer-term issues of national cyber resilience and diplomacy. Mostly.Continue reading “Weekly Wrap 518: COVIDSafe, cybers, and a lot of wind”
The week of Monday 10 to Sunday 16 February 2020 was wet. I lost a day clearing up after the weekend rainstorms, but I still got a couple of things written, and a lot of planning done. And a nice long Sunday lunch.Continue reading “Weekly Wrap 507: After the rains the clean-up, and cuttlefish soldiers”
What a week! Monday 2 to Sunday 8 December 2019 was drenched in bushfire smoke, disrupted by another set of missions on Health Patrol, and riddled with other sources of chaos. And yet…Continue reading “Weekly Wrap 497: A podcast, a cyber document, and a smoke-soaked warship”
[As it turns out, my planned Budget commentary for Crikey didn’t happen. I got up early in San Jose, read the budget papers and made notes, but then my as-yet-unwritten article got spiked. This is a quick and somewhat belated post based on my notes, not as polished as it might have been if written for Crikey.]
The problem with Australia’s Labor government is that after having had One Big Idea for a bold new future in the National Broadband Network (NBN), they’ve come up with almost nothing anywhere else. This year’s federal budget was a dull plod. Again.
There was even one move which struck me as remarkably dumb: capping the available tax deductions for self-education expenses at just $2000 a year. Apparently that saves $500 million, and that’ll go to the schools — and schools are good for the kiddies, of course — but that’s half a billion dollars less for people to be able to keep up with a rapidly-changing work environment.
This strikes me as particularly stupid when so many of the people servicing the computers, networks and other technology that powers small business are often freelancers, as are so many web developers and designers.
Two grand a year doesn’t go far when it costs nearly half that just to attend the annual user conference for just one of your core software toolsets — more if you have to add airfares and accommodation — and the rest would soon be burnt up on a handful of reference books.
Back when I used to work in various management and staff development roles, I was told that any organisation that wants to advance its knowledge base should be spending at least 5% of its time on staff development. In a technology field, in my opinion, that should be at least 10%. That’s four hours a week, or a week or so every three months.
That still doesn’t sound very much, but it’d cost at least four times that capped amount. And that’s still not compensating freelancers for the loss of billable hours.
“Business and training groups have already said capping the expenses will stop employers from being able to offer staff new training initiatives. There were reports [the week before the budget that] the government would end up reversing the move, but the budget papers now state the change is locked-in,” wrote Patrick Stafford at SmartCompany.
“The announcement is sure to raise the ire of small business groups. Many business owners also use these deductions for short courses and industry-based training sessions.”
There’s two particularly galling lines in the budget papers themselves. First, the tax deductions are now only available…
…where these expenses are incurred in the production of the taxpayer’s current assessable income.
So you’re discouraged from educating yourself for the jobs that will become available even in the very near future. Why?
The potential for uncapped claims for a wide range of expenses provides an opportunity for some people to enjoy significant private benefits at taxpayers’ expense.
Orly? That’s a bit rich, given that vast sums already given to private schools. Or the “baby bonus” that people on quite significant household incomes still get for extruding another brat. That simply reeks of hypocrisy.