THIS WEEK'S FEATURE ARTICLES
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Breath of fresh air blows into the south
There was a certain irony in writing about the first time the Breath of Fresh Air Festival comes to Hobart, when outside, an almighty blow was huffing and puffing for all its worth, threatening to blow us all down. True to our expectations, the blow dissipated, changing from storm to benign calm in a few hours. That’s Tassie weather, and its changeability could be a metaphor for the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) film festival. Now in its ninth year, BOFA was in Hobart for the first time, with 10 great independent films. There was fun and networking opportunities, including several post-film Q&As during the weekend of 10 to 12 May. The festival continued in Launceston from 16 to 19 May, with a total of 32 films.
Owen And Helen Tilbury this year brought their outstandingly successful BOFA film festival to southern Tasmania, where a full house of southern film buffs enjoyed the experience of seeing a few of the films on offer. At the launch of the festival, Owen Tilbury said that it was important that Hobart was included, as many of the institutions and creators of film were in Hobart. The first film, the opening night launch, Under the Cover of Cloud by Tasmanian director Ted Wilson, was an exercise in gentle observation, and a chance for the makers to learn and show their film-making skills. It was done with no money! Director Ted Wilson spoke of how difficult it is be a creative film maker, against the constraints and impositions of the people who make the decisions about what “will appeal to the public” (i.e. what will sell!). The charming film by Ted had no funding, and its very existence was a statement of will to create, against the odds. The film, a gentle, family observation, starring many members of his family, was set in Hobart. It was almost an exercise in mindfulness – not much happened, except that we saw how family can nurture and support a person during difficult times, steering and guiding with humour and love. This was a gentle, almost relaxing use of time, watching how a problem is worked out, and how we can move on, even when times get tough. The character Ted is the creative force behind the film, with a hand in every aspect of the film. Under the Cover of Cloud is described as “a minimalist, modernist, Australian masterpiece made with no money… The result is a miracle of a film, both strangely familiar and quite unlike any Australian movie you’ve seen.” That statement was from Broadsheet, fresh from playing at the Melbourne International Film Festival. “The film is quite an experience, set in Tasmania, dealing with a journalist who leaves [or loses] his job and searches for something that will make his life worthwhile. He finds that inspiration on two fronts: his family, which gives the film an improvised/documentary feel, and a desire to write a book about cricket. Indeed, his focus on David Boon and Tasmanian players in test cricket as part of his research, gives the film a charming local focus. Wilson’s first feature film goes in directions that don’t normally occur in narrative cinema, plus he gives the film a strong sense of Tassie culture and family. His exploration of Hobart life in itself is worth the price of admission.” Another good part of the launch, and the film, was the support of the film and theatre industries of Hobart.
What is BOFA?
BOFA is an alternative, or an antidote, to the super-duper hype of the super-duper studios of the film industries of the world. BOFA has made an art out of variety. Documentaries are a feature of the 2019 BOFA program, tackling all manner of human lives and conditions – celebrity, music, our changing world, radicalisation, migration, yacht racing, food, feminism, invention, and much more. BOFA’s claims about its unique specialness include that the festival is a celebration of extraordinary films from around the world, telling stories that matter, that bring people together, to discuss and share. The films are about ideas and can make the audiences laugh and cry, feel inspired and be encouraged to take action. I look forward to next year’s BOFA.
Tax imputation and retirees
In writing this I am wearing my economist’s hat.
Several times recently my coffee friends have asked me to explain ‘franked tax credits’. You might recall that the topic has been in the news a lot latterly. Mostly the reporting has seemed to imply that retired people can get money from the government ‘for nothing’ if they are entitled to tax imputation credits.
It is important to realise that Australia has a very equitable taxation system which, in addition to collecting the money needed to run the country, also redistributes wealth to those members of our society who are not so well off. In fact about half of all Australians pay no net tax at all. They receive government benefits (health care, education, pensions etc.) which exceed the amount of income tax they pay.
Australians receive their income in many different ways but typically do so by ‘selling’ something they have (say their time and labour) to another person or to a business and in most cases they receive a salary or a wage. The person who employs you passes some of the wage to the Taxation
Department, pays some into your nominated superannuation account and gives you the rest as your ‘pay’.
We are all quite used to this arrangement. At the end of each tax year you receive a group certificate from your employer, complete your tax claim and hope to get a cheque from the tax office – because your employer has taken out just a little too much tax. If you are like me, you bank that tax refund cheque as soon as possible.
For most people, that is the way our tax system works. However there are many people who work in what I call the ‘gig’ economy. Self-employed people. These are people who do not know how much they can expect to earn. People like artists, plumbers, doctors, musicians, coffee shop owners and so on. These people have to make their own taxation and superannuation arrangements. They usually report to the Taxation Department quarterly. Most of them create a separate little company which makes life easier for both themselves and the Taxation Department. In their little company they employ themselves, very much like the way most other people are employed. Of course, their little company pays income tax on the profit of their business as distinct from the turnover of the business. (It is quite common for a small business to have a very large turnover and little or no profit. GST tax is paid on
During their working lives these self-employed people need to invest in assets which can provide a retirement income at some future date. Very often these investments are shares in large public companies (like BHP, CSL, AMP and many others). Often separate entities (called Self Managed Super Funds) are created. These SMSFs can take many forms but they are essentially only a means of preparing for retirement. They do not give the taxpayer benefits that would not be available to anybody else. (Except of course that they can make their own investment decisions while most other people have effectively delegated their superannuation investment decisions to a large public fund.)
These self-employed people eventually retire and (hopefully) they have accumulated enough assets in their SMSF to be able to live off the income from the accumulated assets. Here is the crunch. The SMSFs have
purchased and therefore own the shares in those big companies. The big companies pay dividends (expressed in cents per share) for the number of shares the SMSF owns. The dividends are the profit that the company has made apportioned across all the shares. Because the dividends are the profit of the company, tax is paid to the government at what is called the ‘company’ tax rate. But, the SMSF is an arm’s length delegatee of the self employed tax payer and so, in a very real sense that tax payer owns the dividends. The value of the dividends is then said to be ‘imputed’ to the tax payer and that value must be added to their tax return together with whatever other income they have. But the big company has already paid tax to the government, probably at a higher rate of tax than the tax payer in their retirement is required to pay. That is, too much tax has been paid and so the overpaid tax is refunded to the tax payer. This is the ‘franked credit’ that people have been talking about.
It is that simple. Most major countries have a very
Disclaimer: I am an economist and this is a simplified description of the of the franked credits system. If you are concerned about it you must speak to a taxation accountant.
Missives from the seas
Marian Hearn revisits India and reflects upon the life and times of Gandhi
I last visited India in 1984 – a never to be forgotten experience. On a stop over in New Delhi before going on an organised trek in Nepal, I realised for the first time why so many had emigrated to my home town in the UK. The ‘masses’ of people living on the streets was astonishing. We had been booked into an up-market hotel, but I never could get used to all the bowing and scraping that went on. We had time for just one tour around New Delhi, and not enough time to get to Agra and the Taj Mahal. Something I would have liked to do then and now, but not to be.
Recently I tuned into a podcast (on ABC Big Ideas) which I can recommend, and listened to Reverend Tim Costello delivering the “2019 Gandhi Oration”. Tim Costello AO is one of Australia’s leading voices on social justice and humanitarian issues. Currently Chief Advocate for World Vision Australia, he said, “The fundamental issues Gandhi addressed almost a century ago – poverty and hunger, violence, war and injustice – still remain as the world grapples with the mixed benefits of the rise of globalisation, retribalisation, marginalisation of minorities and divisive populist politics. Gandhi’s ideal of self-sacrifice over self-interest, individual obligations over individual rights, renunciation over consumption, and self-sacrifice over violence still ring true. Many decades ago before the technological revolution with iPads, search engines, Facebook, Twitter and social media, Gandhi warned that people might learn to fly like birds and swim like fish but it would be of little use and even a disaster if they forgot how to walk like human beings.”
Gandhi was well known during my ‘growing up years’. A ‘thorn in the flesh’ for the UK government, he was the leader of India’s non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against the United Kingdom’s rule of the country during the 20th century. He lived from 1869 until his assassination on 30 January 1948 but I wonder how well known he is today? Some might have seen the famous film Gandhi, a 1982 epic historical drama based on his life. The film, directed by Richard Attenborough, starred Ben Kingsley in the title role. It covers Gandhi’s life from a defining moment in 1893, as he is thrown off a South African train for being in a whites-only compartment and concludes with his assassination and funeral. Although a practising Hindu, Gandhi’s embracing of other faiths, particularly Christianity and Islam, is also depicted.
Wikipedia says, “Mahatma Gandhi is said to be revered the world over as one of history’s most transformative and inspirational figures. Throughout his life in South Africa and India, Gandhi was a fearless campaigner for the rights and dignity of all people, whose constant and unwavering promotion of non-violence as a tool to win over hearts and minds has forever left its mark on the world. His unease at speaking, (even though he was a lawyer), made him an excellent listener, whose humility and empathy allowed him to channel the dreams and aspirations of the masses. His hesitancy with words taught him the power of saying more with less – and today, these words, inflected with the heart and wisdom that have made him an international icon, continue to inspire countless millions across the globe.”
His sayings do still ring true today and are just as relevant: “An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” “A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.” “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” “If you want real peace in the world, start with children.” “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
Still so very true!
Kingston Park vision emerges
The full draft report and plans for Kingston Park have been released. Extensive consultation was undertaken in order to distil the wants and needs of the community. Key aspirations were for connections to nature; an inclusive space for all ages, abilities and cultures; public amenities; and to support the healthy ‘beachside’ culture of Kingston through opportunities for exercise and wellness.The Kingston Park master plan seeks to respectfully balance the history of the site, both recent and distant, with the contemporary aspirations of the community and a respect for the natural values of the site.
Great care has been taken in carefully planning links through the site and beyond to create seamless connections to the parkland, and support uses such as bike riding, dog walking, ball sports and gatherings, as well as connections through the large playspace, creating an inclusive space without the segregation of children often found in
The large playspace has been designed to allow for all ages and abilities, and responds to the requests of children and adults alike. The already modified topography of the site has had a large influence on the design. Its meandering nature offers the opportunity for many spaces catering to different types of play – separated by the topography as opposed to fencing or barriers.
These factors combine to create a playspace offering nine distinct play areas, representing the varying aspirations of the community, whilst also providing pragmatic solutions to construction.
Kingston Park, the former site of Kingston High School, is a large mixed green- and brown-field site immediately adjacent to the Kingston central business district.
With its very recent history as the Kingston High School, the Kingston Park site occupies a special place in the hearts of many locals. In the time since the school’s decommissioning in 2011, and demolition in 2015, the site has been used by locals for recreation and as
a link between the western suburbs of Kingston and the CBD. The site is nestled between the Southern Outlet, Huon Highway and Whitewater Creek, at what is essentially the gateway to Kingston and the Kingborough municipality. The history,
continuing pattens of use, broader connections, and position combine to make Kingston Park a development of great significance for Kingston
Every effort has been made to include those community suggestions that were repeated throughout the various consultation phases. It was expected that varying demographic groups would have very different priorities, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the key concerns and aspirations were largely consistent, despite the variations in age, abilities, and relationship to the parkland. Common priorities of the majority of groups consulted were as follows.
Connections to nature and place
There was a strong desire for the parkland and playspace to be ‘of Kingborough’. Respondants wanted the space to reflect the identity and unique qualities of the area’s flora and fauna, connections to Aboriginal history, and the more recent history of the site as Kingston High School. Natural materials were clearly preferred to synthetics such as plastic for play elements and equipment. Play elements that involve exploration and play within nature were also recurring suggestions, with ideas such as ‘loose-parts’ play with leaves and sticks, potion making with flowers, dirt and water, water play, and
All-inclusive, community focus
The requirement that the park and playspace cater to all ages and abilities was raised by every group consulted. With regards to play elements, it is essential that not only children of all abilities be able to use the space, but also that supervising adults be able to play and interact with their children, irrespective of their own abilities. Places for breastfeeding mothers, where they can comfortably feed one child and supervise another were critical, as were comfortable places for carers to oversee and monitor children playing. The level of security of the various play areas was also of great importance,
especially for those supervising more than one child at a time, or children who have a tendency to ‘bolt’ from their carers.
Numerous stakeholder groups made mention of Aboriginal culture, bush tucker and history, and how these should be incorporated in the design. Consultation with local Aboriginal people shed light on sensitive and meaningful ways to weave Aboriginal culture into the parkland while avoiding tokenism or overt interpretation of stories or traditions. Some of these methods were the use of Aboriginal
bush-tucker plants, plants with utilitarian uses such as for weaving baskets or rope, and representation of the native animals which were valuable
Pet ownership and dog walking were contentious issues amongst the community, with a distinct divide between those who wish to see an off-lead dog exercise area at Kingston Park and those who wish to exclude dogs entirely. Given the limited space available for an open off-lead area, and the likelihood of pet ownership only increasing within the precinct, neither off-lead nor dog-exclusion were deemed practical. However there should be provision for on-lead dog exercise and enrichment to allow for a truly shared community space, and afford community members the opportunity to bring their whole family, including dogs, to
Provision of public amenities was an issue raised multiple times throughout the consultation process. Easy and all-abilities access to toilets and changing places, as well as the provision of barbecue facilities, rubbish and recycling collection points, potable water fountains, shade and shelter were raised. There was a strong community desire to be able to use at least some of the playspace and parkland during all seasons and weather conditions, especially the barbecue spaces and path network. Consultation was undertaken during the particularly hot weather of December 2018 and January 2019, so shade from trees and structures was raised as a high priority. Places to relax under trees and shade structures, as well as the provision of shade to play spaces and equipment were
Community members with small children said it was important that the toddler/early years play spaces were located as short a distance as possible from
Though toilet facilities were not originally included as part of the scope of the landscape design, there are public facilities located in the Community Hub, so it is important that these junior play areas allow for easy access to the hub amenities. Additional toilet facilities have since been included in the masterplan, adjacent to the car park.
Health, fitness and well-being
Walking, running, bike riding, bouldering and climbing, as well as skateboarding and scooter riding were all forms of exercise mentioned during the consultation, along with requests that they be integrated into the playspace and parkland. Connections through the parkland to the Kingston CBD and residential suburbs were raised as methods by which Kingston Park could be activated, and form part of an exercise network linking the suburbs to Kingston Beach.
There were also requests for outdoor exercise equipment to be located in the parkland, creating
a self-contained fitness loop.
Nutrition and mental well-being were noted as important to the community. There were repeated suggestions for communal orchards and productive gardens of both native and introduced food plants. Respondants also requested vegetable gardens where the community or school groups can learn about growing food and gardening techniques, and identifying
Spaces for teaching and learning were also suggested to augment these gardening areas, and create opportunities for community groups to come together and
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Take care with what you feed to your pigs
Restaurant, food outlet and household food waste may be perceived as an economical way to feed your livestock, but Biosecurity Tasmania warns that feeding waste food to pigs may pose a significant threat to our livestock industries, our economy – and our way of life.
Foods or food scraps and food waste that contain or have come into contact with meat or meat products are known as ‘prohibited pig feed’ or ‘swill’.
Some pig owners may not be aware that feeding meat and meat products to pigs is illegal in Tasmania (and across Australia) because it could introduce devastating diseases to pigs and other livestock. This applies to all types of pigs – including pet pigs.
Foods that contain meat or meat products, or that have had contact with meat or meat products, may contain viruses that can cause severe disease in pigs, as well as providing an entry point to infect other livestock. Many viruses can survive for extended periods in meat and meat products. Many exotic animal disease viruses are highly resistant to chilling, freezing and curing. Boiling swill may not destroy all disease organisms.
All states and territories in Australia have banned swill feeding to help protect Australia’s biosecurity and enviable health status.
Examples from overseas of how swill feeding can cause disease include:
The devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 is thought to have started when pigs were fed waste containing illegally imported meat products carrying the foot-and-mouth disease virus.
The recent spread of African swine fever throughout Europe, Russia and parts of Asia is believed to have been caused by pigs accessing food waste.
Further information on foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever can be found on the Biosecurity Tasmania website at www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity.
Australia is fortunate to be free of many diseases that could affect our livestock industries and trade. Feeding prohibited feed to pigs is the most likely way exotic diseases could be introduced into Australia’s livestock.
So it’s a timely reminder that not all scrap food is suitable for pigs. If you choose to feed scrap food to pigs we ask that you take great care to ensure that the food is completely free of meat products, or any scraps that have been on a plate with
If you are in doubt as to what is actually mixed up in the food scraps – err on the side of caution and don’t feed it out to your pigs. Your vigilance could avert a potentially disastrous outcome for our state, and the rest of Australia.
Remember, Tasmania’s biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility.
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