Retirement Income

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Why Australians fell out of love with Holdens

<p>The jingle used to tell us we loved “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars”.</p> <p>These days we <a href="https://www.caradvice.com.au/817278/vfacts-2019-new-car-sales-results/">love</a> Japanese utes and small Toyotas, Hyundais and Mazdas more.</p> <p>Monday’s <a href="https://media.gm.com/media/au/en/holden/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/au/en/2020/feb/0217_Holden.html">announcement</a> from General Motors, Holden’s US parent, that the brand will be “retired” and local design and engineering operations cease is doubtless based on strong financial reasoning, but poor brand management is also part of it.</p> <p><strong>The numbers didn’t stack up</strong></p> <p>Sales of Holden vehicles and a <a href="https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/car-insurance/research/australian-car-sales-statistics.html">shift</a> from large sedans to small and medium sized cars and sportscars and SUVs didn’t help.</p> <p>At its peak, between 2002 and 2005, Holden sold more than <a href="https://www.whichcar.com.au/news/the-decline-of-holden-and-the-commodore-in-numbers">170,000</a> vehicles a year. By 2019 it sold less than 40,000; none of them made here.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VGW-WX77zjY?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class="caption">Holden ad, 1970s.</span></p> <p>In November, it sold just 2,668 cars, down from 5,125 the previous November.</p> <p>Global competition from Japan, Korea and Thailand for brands like Kia and Hyundai, <a href="https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-advice/australian-car-market-car-sales-statistics-and-figures-70982">added to its woes</a>.</p> <p>Internationally, Holden was only present in two small markets, Australian and New Zealand, which between them don’t even account for 1% of global sales, and require steering columns on the right hand side of car. It has made Holdens hard to internationalise.</p> <p>Monday’s <a href="https://media.gm.com/media/au/en/holden/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/au/en/2020/feb/0217_Holden.html">press release</a> blamed “highly fragmented right-hand-drive markets”, the cost of growing the brand, and the unlikelihood of achieving a decent return on the investment if it tried.</p> <p>General Motors isn’t even going to bother to sell foreign-made sedans in Australia, although it will continue to sell speciality vehicles.</p> <p>Yet its brand is ingrained in Australian history.</p> <p><strong>Holden defined a brand</strong></p> <p>Brands are a combination of tangible and intangible elements. Among the tangible elements are visual design elements, like logos, colour, images and packaging, such as the Holden “Lion and Stone” and distinctive product features, such as the feel of the leather, the sound of a roaring V8 and the quality of the duco.</p> <p>But that is only part of what makes a brand. Tangible elements can be easily copied and are a feature of nearly all products. The challenge is to develop and leverage intangible qualities.</p> <p>These can include experiences (such as service) and feelings such as reputation, personality and <a href="http://www.ignytebrands.com/the-psychology-of-brand-personality/">values</a>.</p> <p>Nostalgia is a Holden value. Its rich history, dating back to 1856, has helped define the brand.</p> <p>Many of us who grew up in the 1970s remember family car trips to the beach in a Kingswood station wagon. In the 1980s, we watched <a href="https://www.mount-panorama.com.au/history/race-results/27-bathurst-1000-winners">Brock, Richards and Perkins</a> win Bathurst. Movies like <a href="https://www.imcdb.org/v589530.html">Puberty Blues</a> made the Holden Sandman panel van every young man’s dream, and every parent’s worse nightmare.</p> <p><strong>General Motors killed it</strong></p> <p>Being <a href="https://www.cmo.com.au/article/659053/marketing-professor-holden-brand-nostalgia-ain-t-what-it-used/">Australian</a> was at the core of that identity.</p> <p>General Motors took it away.</p> <p>On October 20, 2017 it stopped production of all Australian-made vehicles and began importing Commodores from Germany.</p> <p>Then in December last year it axed the Commodore, after 41 years.</p> <p>It killed the value that was left in the brand.</p> <p>We fell out of love with Holden because it fell out of love with us.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/131907/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/gary-mortimer-1322">Gary Mortimer</a>, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behaviour, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-australians-fell-out-of-love-with-holdens-131907">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Age discrimination biggest barrier to job opportunity

<p>Nearly half of Baby Boomers believe their age is the biggest barrier to job opportunities, a new report has found.</p> <p><span>A <a href="https://www.afr.com/work-and-careers/careers/ok-boomer-is-age-stopping-you-from-getting-ahead-20200210-p53zbn">quarter of Australians</a> view age as the biggest barrier to opportunities, while 24 per cent feel most held back by their lack of financial resources, <a href="https://economicgraph.linkedin.com/research/opportunity-index-2020">LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020</a> revealed. </span></p> <p><span>The survey discovered that under one in two (46 per cent) Aussie Baby Boomers, or those born from 1946 to 1964, believe their age is the main hurdle standing in their way of finding employment. Younger generations are less likely to feel inhibited by how old they are, with only 31 per cent of Gen X, 11 per cent of Millennials and 22 per cent of Gen Z sharing the sentiment.</span></p> <p><span>“While younger generations feel their age is a reflection of their lack of experience, more mature generations are struggling to adapt their skills for the changing workforce,” said Matt Tindale, country manager for LinkedIn in Australia and New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>“Professionals are working well beyond their retirement years and we now have four generations working together for the very first time. </span></p> <p><span>“Embracing Australia’s multigenerational workforce and leveraging this diversity of talent will be imperative in order for businesses to remain successful.”</span></p> <p><span>Australians also have low confidence about accessing job opportunities, ranking 17 out of 22 countries.</span></p> <p><span>More than 30,000 people around the world, including 1,025 Australians, were polled for the index.</span></p> <p><span>LinkedIn’s index came months after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s call for <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-20/retraining-wont-keep-older-workers-from-choosing-to-retire/11720482">older workers to undergo more training or upskilling</a> to allow for their continued participation in the workforce.</span></p> <p><span>“This year, as the economic landscape and job market continues to evolve, it will be important that Australians adopt a growth mindset and embrace lifelong learning to ensure they are best placed to seek the opportunities they want,” Tindale said.</span></p>

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Fancy working for the Queen? The Palace is now hiring

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>The Royal Family is hiring again and this time, they’re looking for the best of the best when it comes to numbers and spreadsheets.</p> <p>Buckingham Palace is looking to hire an accountant to join the Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office.</p> <p>The role is based at Buckingham Palace and offers a whopping £40,000 ($AUD 77,000) a year salary while promising a job that’s “forecasting figures whilst surrounded by a priceless past”.</p> <p>"No two days will be the same and the deadlines we work to will stretch you," the job description reads.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6fflJVn-oE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B6fflJVn-oE/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)</a> on Dec 25, 2019 at 2:29am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"Yet in all that you do, you'll rise to the challenge and deliver faultless accuracy and a first class service to this unique organisation."</p> <p>The right candidate needs to be able to work well under pressure, and "feel comfortable with a high level of responsibility and variety in your work."</p> <p>"You'll produce management information and financial accounts for the official and private finances of a number of entities and account holders including both retail and charitable bodies."</p> <p>"You'll provide everything from annual reports and statements, to tax advice. Preparing budgets, forecasts and reconciliations, your timely financial planning and control will be vital."</p> <p>The right person also needs to be as “good with people as you are with numbers, which is crucial, given the customer faced nature of this role”.</p> <p>If you’re interested in relocating as well as working within the walls of Buckingham Palace, better get in quick as applications close at the end of February.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper"> <div class="post-actions-component"> <div class="upper-row"></div> </div> </div>

Retirement Income

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The main barriers to downsizing

<p>More than half of Australians over the age of 55 are open to downsizing, according to a <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/325">new report</a> based on a survey of 2,400 households. The main barrier to moving to a smaller home is a lack of housing that matches their needs and preferences. The rapid growth in the number of older Australians adds to the major challenge housing markets face in meeting their diverse housing needs.</p> <p>Downsizing, or rightsizing, is considered an essential component of meeting the <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/317">housing aspirations of older Australians</a>. At the same time, downsizing creates housing opportunities for younger households by freeing up family homes.</p> <p>The ageing population also creates fiscal challenges for government, in terms of delivering services to the home and providing residential care. Downsizing can enable older Australians to age well and age in place rather than potentially move prematurely into residential care.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/325">report</a> released today by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), for which 2,400 households over 55 were surveyed, found 26% of such households had downsized. Another third had thought about it. Overall, the findings point to a strong appetite among older Australians to downsize their dwellings.</p> <p>With about <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/D3310114.nsf/Home/Census?OpenDocument&amp;ref=topBar">6.5 million Australians aged 55 or older</a>, living in about <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/6503.0Main+Features100002015-16?OpenDocument">4.3 million households</a>, our findings suggest downsizing could be relevant to 2.5 million households.</p> <p><strong>Why downsize? And what are the obstacles?</strong></p> <p>We know older Australians downsize in response to life events such as changes in health and relationship status, or children leaving the parental home. Lifestyle preferences and difficulties maintaining their garden or house also <a href="https://businesslaw.curtin.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2016/06/bcec-keeping-a-roof-over-our-heads-report.pdf">shape downsizing behaviour</a>.</p> <p>Barriers to downsizing include a lack of suitable housing and a <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/214">lack of financial incentives</a>. There are also emotional and physical barriers to moving. Financial factors, however, do not greatly impact the decision to move, nor does <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/321">perceived financial well-being increase</a> once they have downsized.</p> <p>Where those who had downsized were dissatisfied, this was most commonly related to the new dwelling, particularly its size, and the neighbourhood.</p> <p><strong>Is it actually downsizing?</strong></p> <p>One of the policy rationales for downsizing is to reduce the <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-17/vacancy-tax-wont-solve-australias-empty-housing-problem/8709184">underutilisation of dwellings</a>. However, this is at odds with the attitude of many older Australians. They consider “spare” bedrooms necessary for use as permanent guest rooms (58%), studies (50%), or dedicated rooms for children or grandchildren (31%).</p> <p>Space remains important to Australian downsizers. Over half of them move to a dwelling with three or more bedrooms. A third move to an apartment.</p> <p>However, two-thirds of downsizers surveyed did move to a dwelling with fewer bedrooms. Three bedrooms was the preferred dwelling size for older Australians. Downsizing the garden was essential for most.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314365/original/file-20200210-27560-1bsfxmt.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314365/original/file-20200210-27560-1bsfxmt.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314368/original/file-20200210-27548-6krfsn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/314368/original/file-20200210-27548-6krfsn.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><span class="license">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>Older Australians aspire to attain or retain home ownership. Their preferred neighbourhood has shopping, medical, recreational and public transport services all within walking distance.</p> <p>Downsizers appear mobile. While under a quarter downsized within their original neighbourhood, 42% moved to a neighbourhood completely new to them.</p> <p>The survey finding of a lack of suitable housing options matching would-be downsizers’ preferences may explain why so few were able to downsize in their original neighbourhood.</p> <p><strong>Delivering what older Australians want</strong></p> <p>If the local market does not have enough options available to meet the needs of older households, it is very difficult to downsize within an existing community. Moving to another desired location can also be problematic.</p> <p>Meeting the needs of older Australians generally means an increase in medium-density housing. Developers are likely to require incentives to produce these medium-density products rather than potentially more profitable high-density development – although there is, of course, a downsizing market for well-located apartments.</p> <p>The retirement industry has begun responding to the aspirations of older Australians. It is developing larger dwellings and offering a growing range of options, from high-end to affordable — all of which are accessible and suitable for ageing in place.</p> <p>Equity-rich older Australians may wish to build a new dwelling in which to downsize. But they are often unable to borrow for this unless they have considerable capital available.</p> <p>To support this avenue, new development finance models could be created to allow older Australians to develop without first having to sell the primary home. This shift would allow more collaborative forms of development, such as a group of <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/294">like-minded individuals developing</a> a site as housing for a small community.</p> <p>For those <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-10/older-australians-who-own-home-more-than-20-times-better-off/11815006">vulnerable private renters</a> moving into retirement, more secure rental accommodation through the social housing sector and delivered privately is essential. The community housing sector has a key role to play.</p> <p><strong>Where next?</strong></p> <p>The Australian housing landscape must shift towards a model of dwelling diversity with secure tenures – ownership and rental – in neighbourhoods where residents can walk easily to weekly services and recreation facilities, participate socially and be close to public transport options.</p> <p>Design is equally important. Australians need <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-need-more-flexible-housing-for-21st-century-lives-102636">adaptable dwellings</a> that can change to meet housing needs.</p> <p>Such a landscape will provide effective downsizing options in which households can age well in the places that best meet their needs and aspirations.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amity-james-272922"><em>Amity James</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer, School of Economics, Finance and Property, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-rowley-201914">Steven Rowley</a>, Head of School, Economics, Finance and Property, Curtin University. Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Curtin Research Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/curtin-university-873">Curtin University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/wendy-stone-9804">Wendy Stone</a>, Associate Professor, Centre for Urban Transitions and Director, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Swinburne Research Centre, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/half-of-over-55s-are-open-to-downsizing-if-only-they-could-find-homes-that-suit-them-130531">original article</a>.</em></p>

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“I wouldn’t want to buy even if I had the money”: The rise of renters by choice

<p>The private rental sector has expanded at <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/53619/AHURI-Final-Report-323-The-supply-of-affordable-private-rental-housing-in-Australian-cities-short-term-and-longer-term-changes.pdf">more than twice the rate</a> of the increase in Australian households in the last two decades. This <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14036096.2018.1467964">increasingly diverse form of tenure</a> now houses about <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4130.0%7E2017-18%7EMedia%20Release%7EMore%20households%20renting%20as%20home%20ownership%20falls%20(Media%20Release)%7E10">one in four of us</a>.</p> <p>Australia’s <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0028/15895/AHURI_Final_Report_No_292_The_changing_institutions_of_private_rental_housing_an_international_review.pdf">lightly regulated private rental sector</a> means the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1440783317707833?journalCode=josb">insecurity of tenants</a> is a key factor in why most Australians <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/federal-budget-2017/2017-05-07/housing-affordability-australia-statistics-federal-budget-2017/8502106">aspire to own their home</a>. However, despite this insecurity, our <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14036096.2018.1467964">research</a> suggests an increase in people choosing to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673037.2017.1301400">rent for a long time</a> – ten years or more – accounts for a small part of the growth in private renters.</p> <p>Much of this growth is attributable to <a href="https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/53619/AHURI-Final-Report-323-The-supply-of-affordable-private-rental-housing-in-Australian-cities-short-term-and-longer-term-changes.pdf">middle- and high-income tenants</a>. Especially in Melbourne and Sydney, <a href="https://localgovernmentandhousingproject.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/iuhf-journal-summer2018_alan_morris.pdf">high housing prices</a> mean saving for a deposit takes much <a href="https://neo.ubs.com/shared/d1ZatPa3iM8ech/">longer than in the 1990s</a>. In the meantime these households are renting <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673037.2017.1301400">for a long time</a>.</p> <p><strong>‘Who stays put, loses’</strong></p> <p>In our survey of 600 private renters in different areas of Sydney and Melbourne, we asked: “Many people are renting privately for longer periods (10+ years). Do you think this is a positive trend?”</p> <p>About a third responded in mainly positive terms. Their main reasons were:</p> <ul> <li> <p>renting is more affordable than owning</p> </li> <li> <p>there are fewer worries and liabilities</p> </li> <li> <p>renting is more flexible than owning.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Some questioned the <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14036096.2018.1467964">norm of home ownership in Australia</a>.</p> <p>For a more in-depth understanding, we interviewed 60 long-term private renters in low, medium and high-rent areas in Melbourne and Sydney. Almost all who chose to rent mentioned flexibility as a key advantage.</p> <p>“Choosers” highly valued the freedom to move or travel at will. Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of <a href="https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Liquid+Modernity-p-9780745624099">liquid modernity</a> highlights the increasing desire for transience. As he <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?id=zZwvv3tQ1UYC&amp;pg=PT95&amp;lpg=PT95&amp;dq=Transience+has+replaced+durability&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=VbuUO62ZhV&amp;sig=ACfU3U32LtxCmjxJfboinOrMwt706zkAVw&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=2ahUKEwjP4_qby7vnAhXwwzgGHYJXDagQ6AEwAHoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=Transience%20has%20replaced%20durability&amp;f=false">explains</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Transience has replaced durability at the top of the value table. What is valued today (by choice as much as by unchosen necessity) is the ability to be on the move, to travel light and at short notice. Power is measured by the speed with which responsibilities can be escaped. Who accelerates, wins; who stays put, loses.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Renters in their own words</strong></p> <p>Patricia*, who lives in a high-rent part of Melbourne, has always rented.</p> <blockquote> <p>Well since I came to Australia in 1977, I rented. I didn’t want to buy. Got close [to buying] a couple of times, but changed my mind.</p> <p>I just travel anywhere and everywhere. I thought […] if you’ve got a house you’re stuck there, and I thought, no. I work hard for my money, so that money that I work hard for is for me, not to have a [permanent] roof over my head. […] Renting has been good for me because I can still do what I want.</p> </blockquote> <p>Myra lives in a studio apartment in a high-rent area in Sydney and has no desire to own a home. She is single, in her mid- to late 30s, and earns well. The possibility of being asked to vacate did not bother her.</p> <blockquote> <p>Maybe I’ve been lucky, but every situation has always sorted itself out. You know a lot of people would have freaked out if they had to move out […] It didn’t concern me in the slightest, yeah. I mean not at all. There’s always somewhere to stay. So it suits my lifestyle. I wouldn’t want to buy [a property], even if I had the money.</p> </blockquote> <p>Leanne inherited a third of a house. Rather than using the proceeds to buy a property, she decided to move to Melbourne’s inner city (a high-rent area) and continue renting.</p> <blockquote> <p>So I thought rather than put money into a house […] I would invest it and I could travel and go to concerts and live the life I wanted to lead, so that’s basically what I did and I’m still renting.</p> </blockquote> <p>Pam was renting in a low-rent area in outer Sydney. She felt her situation required the flexibility of renting:</p> <blockquote> <p>The relationship was rocky and you can’t predict the future, but I knew it wasn’t going to end up in marriage and kids and all that kind of crap […] We were both working, both earning good money and we could have afforded to buy a house between us […] But for me it was like, no. I don’t know where this [her relationship] is going, so no way, I’m not going to put myself in that predicament [having a joint mortgage] and then have to go through court to go, “This is mine, this is yours”, all that crap. But so it was my choice to rent and to stick to it […] I’m not going to rely on anybody else for anything, no way.</p> </blockquote> <p>Her renter status allowed Pam to make a rapid, clean break.</p> <blockquote> <p>I just got up one day and walked cos I knew he was going to ask me to marry him the next day, so I said: “I’m just going to go to the shops to get a packet of cigarettes.” I left everything behind. I went for a walk, never went home.</p> </blockquote> <p>For the families with children who choose to rent long-term, the key reason is it allows them to live in highly desirable areas where they cannot afford to buy. Gabrielle and her partner earn well and live in a high-rent area in Sydney:</p> <blockquote> <p>Sure it [home ownership] provides you with security and you don’t have that stress of […] having to move. I get that, but at the same time, you know for us, for example, if we wanted to buy we’d be paying four times what we pay at the moment in a mortgage […] It doesn’t really make financial sense to go and do that […] You’d have to live somewhere. So I choose to live in a nice area where my children are [at school].</p> </blockquote> <p>They also did not want the burden of a large mortgage:</p> <blockquote> <p>[…] I have no desire to put myself in a position where I have a $2 million mortgage and have to work for the rest of my short life to pay for it […]</p> </blockquote> <p>Although probably only a small proportion of people choose to rent long-term, this option may be gaining ground. Young, well-paid professionals in particular see the flexibility of private renting as attractive.</p> <p>Location also seems to be a critical factor. Most of the choosers rented in desirable inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, which would otherwise be inaccessible. An estimated <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02673037.2014.925097">one-in-eight private renters</a> are “rentvestors” who rent where they want to live and buy elsewhere to get a foothold in the housing market.</p> <p><em>*All names used are pseudonyms.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130696/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-morris-13337">Alan Morris</a>, Research Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hal-pawson-147969">Hal Pawson</a>, Associate Director - City Futures - Urban Policy and Strategy, City Futures Research Centre, Housing Policy and Practice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kath-hulse-228874">Kath Hulse</a>, Research Professor, Centre for Urban Transitions, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/swinburne-university-of-technology-767">Swinburne University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-wouldnt-want-to-buy-even-if-i-had-the-money-the-rise-of-renters-by-choice-130696">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Online romance scammers cost Aussies more than $28.6 million

<p>Australians lost more than $28.6 million to romance scams in 2019 – and these numbers are expected to be “just the tip of the iceberg”, according to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/romance-scammers-move-to-new-apps-costing-aussies-more-than-286-million" target="_blank">the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission</a> (ACCC).</p> <p>Nearly 4,000 dating and romance scams were reported in 2019, with 37.5 per cent of them resulting in financial losses.</p> <p>The victims lost an average of $19,000 from scams on various online platforms, including dating platforms Plenty of Fish and Match.com, social media sites Google Hangouts and Facebook, and online games Words with Friends and Scrabble.</p> <p>“We’ve seen an increase in reports from people who did not originally seek an online relationship but have been caught up in a dating and romance scam,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.</p> <p>“No longer are dating websites the only contact method for dating and romance scams, with an increasing number of reports coming from these emerging websites and apps.”</p> <p>The most affected demographic was people aged 45 to 64, with 1,470 reports and more than $18 million in losses. More than a third of the losses (33.8 per cent or almost $9.7 million) occurred through bank transfer, followed by other payment methods such as iTunes and Google Play gift cards, which 30.8 per cent ($8.8 million) of all losses.</p> <p>Scammers would generally ask the victim to send money or provide financial aid so they can purportedly meet each other in person, the ACCC warned.</p> <p>The con artist would guilt-trip the victim if they refuse, or ask for more money if they comply.</p> <p>“Don’t give out personal information, including your financial details, to anybody you haven’t met in person, no matter who they say they are, and don’t share intimate photos or use webcams in an intimate setting,” Rickard said.</p> <p>“Don’t agree to carry packages internationally or agree to transfer money for someone else as you may be inadvertently committing a crime.”</p> <p>“If you become concerned by the conversation, such as if the person is asking for ‘favours’ or money, cease communication.”</p>

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British coin sparks grammar controversy

<p>Britain’s new 50 pence coin has sparked debate after a renowned author pointed out the absence of a certain punctuation mark on the piece.</p> <p>On January 31, the Royal Mint launched three million coins with the slogan “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” to mark the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.</p> <p>Novelist Philip Pullman called for a boycott against the new coin ahead of its release, citing what he perceived as a grammatical error.</p> <p>“The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” Pullman wrote on Twitter.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">The 'Brexit' 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people.</p> — Philip Pullman (@PhilipPullman) <a href="https://twitter.com/PhilipPullman/status/1221365577157087232?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>The <em>Times Literary Supplement </em>editor Stig Abell also wrote, “The lack of a comma after ‘prosperity’ is killing me.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Not perhaps the only objection, but the lack of a comma after “prosperity” is killing me. <a href="https://t.co/ZCN6Zt45cH">pic.twitter.com/ZCN6Zt45cH</a></p> — Stig Abell (@StigAbell) <a href="https://twitter.com/StigAbell/status/1221405487725453312?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 26, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>According to the Associated Press, Oxford commas should be used whenever necessary to clarify.</p> <p>“We say: If omitting a comma could lead to confusion or misinterpretation, then use the comma. But: If a comma doesn’t help make clear what is being said, don’t use it. ‘The flag is red, white and blue’ is clear.”</p> <p>Writing for <span><a href="https://theconversation.com/comma-again-philip-pullmans-oxford-comma-rage-doesnt-go-far-enough-130699"><em>The Conversation</em></a></span>, Associate Professor Roslyn Petelin of the University of Queensland’s School of Communication and Arts said the absence of Oxford comma is not the coin’s only shortcoming.</p> <p>“Does ‘Peace with all nations’ make grammatical sense? No. Does ‘Prosperity with all nations’ make grammatical sense? No,” Petelin wrote.</p> <p>“As admirable … as Pullman might be in advocating for the use of the Oxford comma on the coin, it’s clear this coin has committed more than one crime against the rules of grammar.”</p>

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Why we value diamond rings and other Valentine's Day gifts

<p>“Diamonds are a girls best friend”, so the saying goes. These shiny rocks are durable and pricey. And on Valentine’s Day, it’s likely someone’s new diamond engagement ring will pop up on your Facebook or Twitter feed.</p> <p>Many couples rely on rings to communicate their deepest feelings to each other and the world. An engagement ring is worth more than its sticker price: it tells family, friends and strangers that you are planning a wedding, you are cherished, you are an adult. It is likely the most expensive and most important object many of us will ever own, but why do we invest sentimental feelings in inanimate objects?</p> <p>Turning objects into cherished items is nothing new. People have been spinning tales about why <a href="http://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/ecf.23.2.347">things matter</a> to them for centuries. Think of your favourite teddy bear, your baby blanket, the hand-me-down furniture and bric-a-brac around your home. These objects may be crafted from ordinary cotton, wood or clay, but our feelings about them turn them into valuable assets. We cost them well above their price in the marketplace.</p> <p><strong>Not just a ring</strong></p> <p>It’s a story I know all too well. Over ten years ago, as my now husband and I were starting to talk marriage, I asked my mother if she was ready to part with her grandmother’s engagement ring. The setting needed work, she said, and the “diamonds” were small (I believe she used the word “paste”).</p> <p>It was clear she wasn’t ready. And after all, I had never even met my great grandmother. Margaret had endured an unhappy marriage: she left her husband in 1925 and divorced him in 1941 (the grounds were adultery). How could this ring possibly ensure anyone’s happiness?</p> <p>Two years after my son was born, my mother bestowed this ring, of no great monetary value, upon me. We both teared up. Three weeks later, I lost the ring. I turned our house upside down searching for it. I cried. I lied to my mother about how much I was wearing it.</p> <p>Six months later, my toddler ran into my bedroom, gleefully brandishing a small, shiny object he had discovered (or more likely squirrelled away). It was the ring. I screamed. I cried again. I rang my mother to confess. The ring had transformed from a keepsake passed from mothers to daughters for three generations into a new tale of lost and found.</p> <p><strong>Stories about objects</strong></p> <p>In the 18th-century, dozens of writers took to a new form of fiction that focused on ordinary things – coins, banknotes, shoes, carriages, dolls. These stories brought things to life, granting them their own voices. Today literary scholars call them “object-narratives” or “it-narratives”, so named after their inanimate protagonists. Think Toy Story, Georgian-style.</p> <p>My own research into <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/literature/english-literature-1700-1830/women-work-and-clothes-eighteenth-century-novel?format=PB#7ipO191ldzRTSTjh.97">18th-century clothes</a> has meant reading novels narrated by waistcoats, petticoats, shoes and slippers. Georgian object narratives overflow with scandalous gossip about the foibles of humans.</p> <p>The brothel is a frequent stop in these tales of circulation and the truths (mostly of the bedroom variety) owners seek to conceal from the world. And at the time, these stories became so popular that book reviewers complained about them flooding the literary marketplace.</p> <p>By the late 18th-century, the genre had grown up to focus on children and their possessions. Children could read about <em><a href="https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=The+Adventures+of+a+Pincushion&amp;oq=The+Adventures+of+a+Pincushion&amp;aqs=chrome..69i57j69i64.2014j0j9&amp;sourceid=chrome&amp;ie=UTF-8">The Adventures of a Pincushion</a></em>, the <a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Life_and_Perambulations_of_a_Mouse.html?id=6YY6AQAAMAAJ&amp;printsec=frontcover&amp;source=kp_read_button&amp;redir_esc=y#v=onepage&amp;q&amp;f=false"><em>Life and Perambulation of a Mouse</em></a>, <em><a href="https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Adventures_of_a_Whipping_top.html?id=SPt4mQEACAAJ&amp;redir_esc=y">The Adventures of a Whipping-Top</a> </em>and <em>The Silver Thimble</em>. English professor and author Lynn Festa has <a href="http://www.bucknell.edu/script/upress/book.asp?id=255">written brilliantly</a> about how these stories instructed Georgian children to care for their things: good owners made good British subjects. And in this way, it’s not hard to see how these stories paved the way for books like <em><a href="https://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q%3Dtbn:ANd9GcSZ7ylq6PDaokG7VNWpt6qbBSxnnyL9q8R1_fFIV3-yc5yE5gAe&amp;imgrefurl=https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Velveteen_Rabbit_Or_How_Toys_Become.html?id%3DcRumDgAAQBAJ%26source%3Dkp_cover&amp;h=700&amp;w=543&amp;tbnid=_fzxhK683qN9ZM:&amp;tbnh=160&amp;tbnw=124&amp;usg=__2yGT0rjbbLH3hEm7BsDkJ4GqZWE%3D&amp;vet=10ahUKEwiK17mTnaDZAhXJAMAKHYh5AjQQ_B0IkwIwHQ..i&amp;docid=DLhr4nyP5RT_wM&amp;itg=1&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwiK17mTnaDZAhXJAMAKHYh5AjQQ_B0IkwIwHQ">The Velveteen Rabbit</a></em> and <a href="https://www.waterstones.com/series/paddington"><em>Paddington Bear</em></a>.</p> <p><strong>The story of things</strong></p> <p>Last year, I led a school project that taught children how to recreate these tales. In the <a href="http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/education/story-of-things/"><em>Story of Things</em></a>, year four and five pupils devised their own versions of the histories of secret dresser drawers, tea caddies, dolls, shoes and yes, many chamber pots, inspired by the collection of Georgian furniture at <a href="http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk">Fairfax House</a> in York.</p> <p>I thought I was teaching the children, but their brilliant stories convinced me of our <a href="http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/education/story-of-things/teacher-resources/">continued longing</a> to connect with the objects around us and our imaginative capacities to turn inanimate things into vivid, talkative beings.</p> <p>On Valentine’s Day, it’s all to easy to feel annoyed by couples advertising their deepest feelings with objects – or by the ever more elaborate stakes of social media ready proposals. But it’s important to remember, that we all hold at least one object close to our hearts – no matter how chic or shabby. And in this way, the stories we tell ourselves about the things we own remind us of the ways we love and are loved by others.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/89056/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-wigston-smith-429745">Chloe Wigston Smith</a>, Lecturer in 18th-century Literature, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-york-1344">University of York</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-we-value-diamond-rings-and-other-valentines-day-gifts-89056">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why the economic impact of Wuhan coronavirus is likely to be limited

<p>The Wuhan coronavirus has had a significant human toll. More than 100 people have <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-27/who-chief-heads-to-china-as-efforts-to-contain-virus-accelerate">died</a> and <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-virus-risks-factbox/factbox-what-is-known-about-the-new-coronavirus-idUSKBN1ZQ0K5">nearly 3,000</a> are known to be infected, including some in <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-sydney-scare-as-china-heads-into-shutdown/71c2e099-d49b-42b9-b4b1-02bc4a0457a6">Australia</a>. The number actually infected will be <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/26/what-is-the-coronavirus-wuhan-china-virus-sars-symptoms">higher</a>. People experiencing only mild symptoms often don’t report them.</p> <p>The economic cost is as hard to tease out as the health cost, but there are clues.</p> <p>They suggest the coronavirus will have little impact on the global economy, quite a bit in China, and some in Australia, which will most likely be short-lived.</p> <hr /> <p><strong>Confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus</strong></p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/312201/original/file-20200128-81362-og8o5w.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/312201/original/file-20200128-81362-og8o5w.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Data included until January 27th 2019.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">The Conversation</span></span></p> <hr /> <p><strong>China is bearing the immediate brunt</strong></p> <p>The impact in China is already apparent, with 35 million people under effective lockdown, air travel curtailed, and some tourist destinations closed. In a sign the virus might spread, five million people <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au/5-million-left-wuhan-before-coronavirus-quarantine-2020-1?r=US&amp;IR=T">reportedly</a> left Wuhan before the lockdown.</p> <p>The Shenzhen and Shanghai composite stock market indexes fell 3.52% and 2.75% before they closed for what turned out to be an <a href="https://www.scmp.com/business/markets/article/3047765/hong-kong-markets-open-normal-amid-wuhan-coronavirus-fears-bourse">extended</a> Lunar New Year break.</p> <p>While China’s steps to contain the coronavirus will hurt its economy in the short term, in longer term they might contain the damage.</p> <p><strong>Previous pandemics suggest scale</strong></p> <p>The world has changed significantly since the the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the Asian Flu pandemic of 1957-58 and even the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic of 2002-04.</p> <p>On one hand the world has become better at containment and treatment; on the other, it has become more connected. But previous <a href="https://www.verywellhealth.com/difference-between-epidemic-and-pandemic-2615168">pandemics</a> can tell us a lot.</p> <p><strong>1918 Spanish Flu:</strong> According to the US <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>, the Spanish Flu hit <a href="https://www.stlouisfed.org/%7E/media/files/pdfs/community-development/research-reports/pandemic_flu_report.pdf">500 million</a> people worldwide, killing as many as 50 million worldwide, including 675,000 in the United States.</p> <p>The US Congressional Budget Office believes such an event in 2006 would have cut US gross domestic product <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/109th-congress-2005-2006/reports/12-08-birdflu.pdf">4.25%</a> below where it would have been.</p> <p>World Bank calculations suggest a severe pandemic, killing 71 million people, would cut world GDP by <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/977141468158986545/pdf/474170WP0Evalu101PUBLIC10Box334133B.pdf">about 5%</a>.</p> <p><strong>1957-58 Asian Flu Pandemic:</strong> The 1957-58 pandemic killed about <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1957-1958-pandemic.html">1.1 million</a> people worldwide. A follow-up 1968 pandemic had a <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1968-pandemic.html">similar</a> effect.</p> <p>The Congressional Budget Office believes a recurrence would cut United States GDP to <a href="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/109th-congress-2005-2006/reports/12-08-birdflu.pdf">about 1%</a> below where it would have been. Similar countries would be affected in a similar way. The World Bank believes such a scenario would cut world GDP by between <a href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/977141468158986545/pdf/474170WP0Evalu101PUBLIC10Box334133B.pdf">1% and 2%</a>.</p> <p><strong>2002-04 SARS pandemic</strong>: <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/faq.html">According to the US CDC</a>, SARS infected around 8,100 people, with 774 dying, which was a 9.4% mortality rate. Its economic impact is open to debate. SARS mainly affected mainland China and Hong Kong, with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92473/">one study</a> estimating it cut their GDPs by 1.1% and 2.6%.</p> <p>But because the event coincided with the recovery from a global recession, the effect is hard to estimate. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthpol.2008.03.003">Other estimates</a> are less pessimistic.</p> <p>The economic impact was limited, with little impact outside of China and Hong Kong, as Australia’s Treasury <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/economic-roundup-winter-2003/the-economic-impact-of-severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome-sars">noted</a> at the time.</p> <p><strong>This one should be smaller</strong></p> <p>Here’s what we know.</p> <ul> <li> <p><strong>It’s not yet severe</strong>. Fewer than 100 people have died so far. The mortality rate is just under 3%. China has moved aggressively to contain the virus meaning it should have have less impact on gross domestic product than earlier pandemics.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>There’s been minimal global impact</strong>. There have been few cases outside China. The countries with few if any reported cases are likely to suffer little impact, as correctly predicted by a Treasury <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/economic-roundup-winter-2003/the-economic-impact-of-severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome-sars">discussion paper</a> on the impact of SARS.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>China and Hong Kong are the worst hit</strong>. The impact is likely be less than SARS because the coronavirus is less severe, because of China’s forthright containment efforts and because the outbreak has coincided with the Lunar New Year break. However, the aggressive steps taken to contain the virus might have a significant short term impact. Travel has declined significantly. Tourist attractions, such as <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/24/business/disneyland-china-wuhan-virus/index.html">Disneyland in China</a> have closed. Wuhan is likely to see a significant economic decline.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>The impact should be short-lived</strong>. With SARS, the economies of both China and the rest of the world rebounded shortly afterwards. To some extent, this coincided with the world emerging from an economic downturn. But other <a href="https://www.stlouisfed.org/%7E/media/files/pdfs/community-development/research-reports/pandemic_flu_report.pdf">estimates</a> suggest that even the impact of the severe 1918 pandemic was short-lived.</p> </li> <li> <p><strong>Different industries will be impacted differently</strong>. In impacted regions, tourism and consumer spending are likely to be the most significantly hit, <a href="https://www.stlouisfed.org/%7E/media/files/pdfs/community-development/research-reports/pandemic_flu_report.pdf">as was the case in 1918</a>. China has already suffered a significant reduction in <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/26/how-coronavirus-is-beginning-to-hit-chinas-economy.html">travel expenditure</a>. Other industries, including medical industries, will experience positive impacts. But given that the coronavirus is relatively contained, the impact is unlikely to spread those industries in other countries.</p> </li> </ul> <p>Taken together these points suggest the coronavirus is unlikely to significantly affect the world economy.</p> <p>Based on what we know so far, the impact on China is likely to be short-lived.</p> <p>The flow-on effect to countries with a relationship with China such as Australia is likely to modest and and also short-lived.</p> <p>Should infection or mortality rates spike, the impact could worsen.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130598/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/mark-humphery-jenner-118505">Mark Humphery-Jenner</a>, Associate Professor of Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-we-know-suggests-the-economic-impact-of-wuhan-coronavirus-will-be-limited-130598">original article</a>.</em></p>

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"Dismal": 2020 economic survey predicts bleak year ahead

<p>2020 is shaping up as a dismal year for the economy, with no progress on many of the key measures that matter for Australians.</p> <p>Unemployment will stay above 5% and probably rise rather than fall.</p> <p>Economic growth will continue to have a “1” in front of it, instead of the “2” or “3” that used to be common, and living standards will grow more slowly.</p> <p>Wage growth, forecast in the budget to climb to 3%, will instead remain stuck near 2.2%, where it has been for half a decade.</p> <p>Those are the <a href="https://cdn.theconversation.com/static_files/files/857/2020___CONVERSATION_ECONOMIC_SURVEY.pdf?1579661077">central forecasts</a> of a panel of 24 leading economists from 15 universities in six states assembled by The Conversation to review the year ahead, a year they expect to be marked by one only more interest rate cut, more modest growth in house prices, and a return to slower growth in the share market.</p> <p>The panel comprises macroeconomists, economic modellers, former Treasury, IMF, OECD, Reserve Bank and financial market economists, and a former member of the Reserve Bank board. Combined, their forecasts are more likely to be correct than those of any individual member. One-third are women.</p> <p>They expect the long-promised budget surplus to all but disappear as a result of responses to the bushfires and weaker-than-predicted economic growth.</p> <p><strong>Economic growth</strong></p> <p>The Treasury believes the Australian economy is capable of growing at a sustained annual pace of <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/australias-economy-grew-08-per-cent-in-june-quarter-20170906-gybpqu.html">2.7%</a>, but it hasn’t grown that fast since mid-2018. Growth slipped below 2% in March 2019 and hasn’t recovered. It now has been below 2% for <a href="https://theconversation.com/gdp-update-spending-dips-and-saving-soars-as-we-stash-rather-than-spend-our-tax-cuts-128297">three consecutive quarters</a>, the longest period since the global financial crisis.</p> <p>The panel’s central forecast is for economic growth to stay at or below 2% for at least another year, producing the longest period of low economic growth since the early 1990s recession. The average forecast for the year to December is 1.9%.</p> <p>Panellist Saul Eslake says it will be the result of persistently slow growth in household disposable incomes, reflecting “very slow growth in real wages, the increasing proportion of gross income absorbed by tax, and weakness in property income (interest and rent) as well as (at the margin) the impact of the drought on farm incomes”.</p> <p>It will be domestic rather than overseas conditions that hold back Australian growth. US economic growth is expected to remain little changed at 2.1% notwithstanding trade friction with China, and China’s officially reported growth is expected to ease back only slightly from 6% to 5.8%.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="2I7gi" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/2I7gi/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Living standards</strong></p> <p>One of the best measures of overall living standards (the one the Reserve Bank watches) is real net national disposable income per capita, which takes better account of buying power than gross domestic product does. In the year to September it climbed an unusual 3.3%, pushed up by a resurgence in iron ore export prices.</p> <p>The iron ore price has since slid from US$120 a tonne to around US$90 a tonne, and the panel’s average forecast is for it to fall further.</p> <p>As a result it expects growth in living standards to slow to 2.4% in 2020, a result that will still be better than between 2012 and 2016 when a dive in export prices sent it backwards.</p> <p>Growth in nominal GDP, the raw total unadjusted for inflation, is also expected to slow, slipping from 5.4% to 4.4% as export prices weaken, producing a decline in revenue growth the government has already factored in to the budget.</p> <p>The unemployment rate is expected to end the year near the top of the 5%-to-5.5% band it has been stuck in for the past two years, rather than falling to the 5% forecast in the budget or towards the <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/smp/2019/nov/overview.html">4.5%</a> the Reserve Bank believes is possible.</p> <p>Only one of the panel, Warren Hogan, expects the unemployment rate to end the year below 5%.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="5RnFy" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/5RnFy/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Wages and prices</strong></p> <p>The panel’s central forecast is for inflation to remain below the bottom of the Reserve Bank’s 2-3% target band, where it has been for most of the past five years.</p> <p>One panellist, Margaret McKenzie, breaks ranks. She expects the drought and bushfires and floods to sharply push up the cost of food and essential items including energy, quickly pushing inflation into the range the authorities have long wanted, but not for the reasons they wanted.</p> <p>“I don’t think people have thought about it, because there hasn’t been inflation for so long,” she says. “The problem is that the fires are likely to contract an already weak economy, impelling the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates further, even though its inflation targeting regime would tell it not to.”</p> <p>Wage growth is forecast to be well below the highest inflation forecast and only a little above the central forecast, resulting in continued low real wage growth and seeing the budget miss its wage growth target for the eighth year in a row.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="GN8R8" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/GN8R8/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Business</strong></p> <p>Household spending barely grew in the year to September, inching ahead by a shockingly low 1.2%, the least since the financial crisis, and not enough to account for population growth.</p> <p>The panel’s central forecast is for a recovery in spending growth to a still-low 2.4%, with spending held back by low consumer confidence and what former Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development director Adrian Blundell-Wignall calls a “sense that we are living on borrowed time”.</p> <p>“China is slowing, bank-financed housing has been pushing the envelope and is very expensive, and the governments have never had a plan for the next phase of sustainable growth,” he says. “This perception of no confidence in the government has not been helped by the bushfire events.”</p> <p>There are few signs of a recovery in business investment, notwithstanding record-low interest rates.</p> <p>The panel’s average forecast is for investment by mining and non-mining companies to grow by only 1.7% and 1.9% in 2020, which will represent a turnaround for mining, in which investment fell 11.2% in the year to September.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="rUx3F" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/rUx3F/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Markets</strong></p> <p>Financial markets should provide less support to households in the year ahead, with the ASX 200 share price index expected to climb only 6.4% after soaring 20% in the year just ended.</p> <p>None of the panellists expect last year’s growth to continue.</p> <p>The Australian dollar is expected to end the year at 68 US cents, close to where it is at present. The iron ore price is expected to fall to US$75, a smaller slide than was assumed in the budget.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="WFAig" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WFAig/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Home prices</strong></p> <p>Housing investment (homebuilding) is expected to stabilise in 2020, falling only slightly from here on, after sliding 9.6% in the year to September 2019.</p> <p>Sydney and Melbourne home prices are expected to continue to recover, growing by 5% in 2020.</p> <p>Panellist Nigel Stapledon says the higher home prices will in time boost perceptions of wealth, opening up the possibility that consumer spending will “surprise on the upside”.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="sVb2U" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/sVb2U/6/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><strong>Interest rates and budget</strong></p> <p>The panel’s central forecast is for only one more cut in the Reserve Bank’s cash rate this year, in the first half, followed by no further cuts in the second half. This would allow the bank to avoid so-called unconventional monetary policy or “quantitative easing” in which it forces down longer-term rates by buying government and private bonds, an option Governor Philip Lowe said it would only resort to after it had cut its cash rate to 0.25%.</p> <p>The single cut would take the cash rate to an all-time low of 0.5%. In anticipation the ANZ cut its online saver account rate from 0.1% to <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/anz-cuts-deposit-rates-to-all-time-low-20200123-p53tzd.html">0.05%</a> on Thursday.</p> <p>The cut could come as soon as next week when the board holds its first meeting for the year on February 4. Governor Lowe has scheduled an address to the National Press Club for <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/media/">the following day</a>.</p> <p>Most of the panel think quantitative easing will not be needed and many question its effectiveness, saying the government could achieve much more by fully abandoning its commitment to surplus in order to stimulate the economy.</p> <p>The panel expects the government’s 10-year bond rate to remain historically low at 1.3%. That makes it about as cheap as it has ever been for the government to borrow for worthwhile purposes.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="9nmRo" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/9nmRo/3/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has abandoned his absolute commitment to return the budget to surplus this financial year, saying his first priority is “<a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/josh-frydenberg-2018/transcripts/doorstop-interview-treasury-canberra">meeting the human cost of the bushfires</a>”.</p> <p>The 2019-20 surplus was forecast at A$7.1 billion in the May budget and then downgraded to $5 billion in the December update.</p> <p>The panel’s average forecast is for a bushfire-ravaged $2.2 billion.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="9ON15" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/9ON15/2/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>Most of the panel believe that with good management the government can avoid a recession for another two years, propelling the Australia economy into what will be its 30th straight year of expansion.</p> <p>On average they assign a 27% probability to a recession within the next two years, down from their average forecast of 29% in June.</p> <p>Several point out that, whereas the main risks to continued growth come from overseas, China appears to be managing its slowing economy better than expected, although the emergency triggered by the new and deadly <a href="https://theconversation.com/should-we-be-worried-about-the-new-wuhan-coronavirus-130366">Wuhan coronavirus</a> might change that.</p> <p>Among those who do fear a home-bred recession is Julie Toth who has lifted her estimate of the likelihood of a recession from 25% to 50%, saying growth is already so weak that it won’t take much to send it backwards.</p> <p>“The bushfire disaster presents the real and immediate possibility of two quarters of negative growth for the fourth quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of of 2020,” she says.</p> <p>“Even if disaster relief and fiscal stimulus are delivered swiftly, resource constraints (a lack of skilled tradespeople, water, equipment and appropriate building materials) mean reconstruction will be very slow.”</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="WPaz5" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/WPaz5/2/" height="400px" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p>The panel began compiling its responses when the bushfires weren’t as bad as they subsequently became and before the emergence of the Wuhan coronavirus.</p> <p>It delivered its final forecasts on January 20 when the worst of the bushfires appeared to have passed but before the coronavirus had <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-wuhan-coronavirus-is-now-in-australia-heres-what-you-need-to-know-130580">spread</a> to Australia.</p> <p>The effects of both won’t be known for some time.</p> <p>2020 is turning out to be a year of uncertainty, as well as low expectations.</p> <hr /> <h2>The Conversation 2020 Forecasting Panel</h2> <p><em>Click on economist to see full profile.</em></p> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-457" class="tc-infographic" height="400px" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/457/bf44ce885daf5a3f6f0c3f21add509bc262c561f/site/index.html" width="100%" style="border: none;" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <p><span><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, Visiting Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/crawford-school-of-public-policy-australian-national-university-3292">Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/2020-survey-no-lift-in-wage-growth-no-lift-in-economic-growth-and-no-progress-on-unemployment-in-year-of-low-expectations-130289">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Income

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How homeowners could cash in on homes with higher energy ratings

<p>Everybody wants an energy-efficient home. After all, an energy-efficient home is comfortable to live in, without large energy bills. These can be important factors for prospective home owners or renters. <a href="http://builtbetter.org/node/8139">Our review</a> of international research found energy-efficient homes typically fetch a higher price.</p> <p>An energy performance rating is one way to show how “energy hungry” a home could be. In many countries, it is mandatory for the seller to obtain and disclose a home’s rating. <a href="https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-efficiency/energy-performance-of-buildings/energy-performance-buildings-directive">For European Union countries, this has been the case for ten years</a>.</p> <p>But that’s not the case in most of Australia. Only one of the states and territories – <a href="https://www.accesscanberra.act.gov.au/app/answers/detail/a_id/1492/%7E/energy-efficiency-rating-%28eer%29-statements">the ACT</a> – has a regulated scheme to disclose the energy-efficiency rating of housing to prospective buyers.</p> <p>Disclosing energy ratings is <a href="https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-productivity-and-energy-efficiency/commercial-building-disclosure">standard practice in the commercial building sector</a> in Australia. <a href="https://www.buildingrating.org/file/1215/download">Previous research</a> showed this increases the value of buildings with higher energy ratings (a price premium). Our <a href="http://builtbetter.org/node/8139">recent review</a> of international research looked to see if a similar effect exists in the residential sector.</p> <p><strong>What does the research show?</strong></p> <p>The majority (23) of the 27 relevant studies we reviewed found more energy-efficient homes fetch higher prices than less energy-efficient, but otherwise comparable, homes. So what sort of price premium do houses with a higher energy rating attract? It’s typically around 5% to 10%.</p> <p>Price effects were considered in two ways. The first involved comparing rated versus unrated residences. The second compared higher-rated residences with lower-rated ones. In both cases, a price premium was found to exist.</p> <p>The reported price premium varied substantially by study, country and real estate market. <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJHMA-09-2014-0035/full/html">One study</a>, in Belfast, found a 27% price premium for higher-rated buildings. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421516303482">Another in the Netherlands</a> found a price premium of 2.7% for similarly higher-rated dwellings.</p> <p>Only <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014098831830166X">one study looked at Australia</a> (the ACT scheme, which has operated since 2003). It found a 2.4% price premium for a six-star house and a 9.4% premium for a seven-star house compared to a 3 star home. For Australia, with a median house price of $773,635 in late 2019, the ACT results equate to potential price premiums of $18,500 and $72,721.</p> <p>Obviously, it isn’t just the energy rating of a house that affects its price. Location, size, age and other relevant features of a property influence the final price. Researchers use a statistical method, called <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hedonic-regression.asp">hedonic regression</a>, to estimate the effects of all these factors. A home energy rating was included as one of these factors.</p> <p>The studies we reviewed were published between 2011 and 2019, covering 14 countries and ten energy performance rating schemes. Most of the studies (18) considered the European Union’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Although there are differences in how each EU country defines and manages these certificates, they are broadly comparable, in that they use a standard A (high) to G (low) grade.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/310183/original/file-20200115-151834-c1hbeb.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">Example of a displayed Energy Performance Certificate from the UK, with an A to G rating. The certificate include details on how to improve the rating and indicates the potential rating if all upgrades were completed.</span></p> <p><strong>How would this system benefit Australia?</strong></p> <p>This system would obviously be good for people trying to sell (or wanting to buy) energy-efficient homes, but it’s also good for our society. It has been estimated <a href="http://coagenergycouncil.gov.au/sites/prod.energycouncil/files/publications/documents/Report%20for%20Achieving%20Low%20Energy%20Homes.pdf">almost half the homes that will be in use in 2050 have already been built</a>. If we are to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions from our cities and built environment, we need to tackle our existing building stock.</p> <p>A scheme that allows owners to capitalise on the energy efficiency of their home would change the economics of <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-other-99-retrofitting-is-the-key-to-putting-more-australians-into-eco-homes-91231">retrofitting existing homes</a>. Owners would have a clear incentive to improve energy performance without the need for large government subsidies.</p> <p>Unfortunately, there is <a href="http://www.asbec.asn.au/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/160119-ASBEC-National-Framework-for-Residential-Ratings-Policy-Platform.pdf">no agreed method to measure energy-efficiency</a> for the majority of existing Australian homes (i.e. those outside the ACT). This means there is no simple way for prospective owners or renters to make an informed decision about the likely comfort and future energy bills for a home.</p> <p>Other countries have already shown the path forward. Key steps include:</p> <ol> <li> <p>define a nationally consistent rating tool for existing homes. The Victorian government has developed the <a href="https://www.energy.vic.gov.au/energy-efficiency/residential-efficiency-scorecard">Victorian Residential Efficiency Scorecard</a>. This voluntary tool provides owners with a star rating for the overall energy performance of their home. It also provides specific information on its performance during hot weather, as well as recommendations on how to improve that performance</p> </li> <li> <p>provide a framework for owners to voluntarily disclose the certified energy performance of their home at the point of sale or lease. Only owners of higher-rating homes will be likely to do this voluntarily</p> </li> <li> <p>legislate for mandatory disclosure of a home’s energy rating when it’s being sold or leased</p> </li> <li> <p>introduce minimum standards of energy performance for rental properties. Once a property’s energy performance is rated and disclosed, the government has a powerful policy lever to drive improvement of the energy efficiency of the existing building stock. For instance, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-energy-efficiency-standard-landlord-guidance">in the UK</a>, owners are obligated to improve the energy performance of any property they wish to offer for rent to at least grade E (on an A-to-G scale).</p> </li> </ol> <p>Our review of international academic literature suggests home buyers typically value a more energy-efficient home. When presented with easily accessible information in the form of an energy performance rating, they are willing to pay more.</p> <p>Hence, energy rating disclosure policies can help consumers make informed decisions that will result in lower energy bills and more comfortable homes. At the same time, by allowing sellers to capitalise on energy-efficiency improvements through a certified rating, government can support reducing carbon emissions from our existing building stock.</p> <p>To ensure we realise these societal and environmental benefits, all levels of government should co-ordinate to enact appropriate nationally consistent legislation.</p> <p><em>The author would like to acknowledge Michelle Zwagerman for her contribution to this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/128548/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/daniel-daly-140665">Daniel Daly</a>, Research Fellow at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/homes-with-higher-energy-ratings-sell-for-more-heres-how-australian-owners-could-cash-in-128548">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Honda and Mitsubishi recall 42,000 cars

<p>Honda and Mitsubishi have announced voluntary recalls for 42,000 cars with airbags linked to the deaths of two Australians.</p> <p>The cars manufactured between 1996 and 2000 may have been fitted with Takata NADI 5-AT airbags, which could cause injuries or deaths through misdeployment, according to <span><a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/honda-and-mitsubishi-recall-42000-cars-due-to-serious-airbag-safety-risk">the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission</a></span> (ACCC).</p> <p>“These Takata NADI 5-AT airbags may kill or injure vehicle occupants if they misdeploy in an accident,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.</p> <p>“Two drivers have already died in Australia after their Takata NADI 5-AT airbags ruptured and propelled metal parts into the car interior.”</p> <p>Owners of the affected vehicles are urged to stop driving their cars and contact their manufacturer.</p> <p>“Any consumer who is concerned about the response from their manufacturer or the remedy offered should contact the head office of their car maker. If consumers are still not satisfied, contact the Department or the ACCC,” said Sims.</p> <p>Honda and Mitsubishi have offered to buy back the affected vehicles at market price and arrange alternative transport option until the repurchasing process is completed.</p> <p>The announcement follows the <span><a href="https://www.productsafety.gov.au/news/toyota-mazda-and-suzuki-join-new-airbag-safety-recall-due-to-serious-safety-risk">earlier recalls</a></span> from BMW, Audi, Ford, Mazda, Suzuki and Toyota related to the same airbag, bringing the total number of recalled vehicles to 78,000.</p>

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Global trust crisis as people no longer believe hard work will bring a better life

<p>Many people no longer believe that <span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/2020-edelman-trust-barometer-shows-growing-sense-of-inequality/11883788">hard work will lead to a better life</a></span>, a new survey found.</p> <p>In its <span><a href="https://www.edelman.com/sites/g/files/aatuss191/files/2020-01/2020%20Edelman%20Trust%20Barometer%20Global%20Report_LIVE.pdf">20<sup>th</sup> annual Trust Barometer</a></span>, which polled more than 34,000 people in 28 countries, public relations firm Edelman found that despite strong economic performance, the majority of people in developed markets said they believe they and their families will not be better off in five years’ time.</p> <p>“We are living in a trust paradox,” said the agency’s CEO Richard Edelman.</p> <p>“Since we began measuring trust 20 years ago, economic growth has fostered rising trust. This continues in Asia and the Middle East but not in developed markets, where national income inequality is now the more important factor in institutional trust.</p> <p>“Fears are stifling hope, as long-held assumptions about hard work leading to upward mobility are now invalid.”</p> <p>Trust in government also continued to decline as people grappled with concerns over job insecurity and income inequality.</p> <p>More than four out of five (83 per cent) employees said they worry about losing their job due to a range of factors, including gig economy, looming recession, foreign competitors and automation.</p> <p>Government was viewed as the most unethical and least competent institution, with only 42 per cent of respondents saying they have confidence that government leaders will be able to address the challenges int their country.</p> <p>Media was also considered incompetent and unethical, with 57 per cent saying the media they consume contain untrustworthy information.</p> <p>Business ranked the highest in competence but was deemed unethical, with the majority of respondents agreeing that capitalism does more harm than good in the world today. No institution was seen as fair in the survey’s index of public perception.</p>

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Why paper maps still matter in the digital age

<p>Ted Florence is ready for his family trip to Botswana. He has looked up his hotel on Google Maps and downloaded a digital map of the country to his phone. He has also packed a large paper map. “I travel all over the world,” says Florence, the president of the international board of the <a href="https://imiamaps.org/">International Map Industry Association</a> and <a href="https://www.avenzamaps.com/">Avenza Maps</a>, a digital map software company. “Everywhere I go, my routine is the same: I get a paper map, and I keep it in my back pocket.”</p> <p>With the proliferation of smartphones, it’s easy to assume that the era of the paper map is over. That attitude, that digital is better than print, is what I call “technochauvinism.” In my book, <em><a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/artificial-unintelligence">Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World</a></em>, I look at how technochauvinism has been used to create an unnecessary, occasionally harmful bias for digital over print or any other kind of interface. A glance at the research reveals that the paper map still thrives in the digital era, and there are distinct advantages to using print maps.</p> <p><strong>Your brain on maps</strong></p> <p>Cognitive researchers generally make a distinction between surface knowledge and deep knowledge. Experts have deep knowledge of a subject or a geography; amateurs have surface knowledge.</p> <p>Digital interfaces are good for acquiring surface knowledge. Answering the question, “How do I get from the airport to my hotel in a new-to-me city?” is a pragmatic problem that requires only shallow information to answer. If you’re traveling to a city for only 24 hours for a business meeting, there’s usually no need to learn much about a city’s layout.</p> <p>When you live in a place, or you want to travel meaningfully, deep knowledge of the geography will help you to navigate it and to understand its culture and history. Print maps help you acquire deep knowledge faster and more efficiently. In experiments, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.014">people who read on paper consistently demonstrate better reading comprehension</a> than people who read the same material on a screen. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0165551512470043">A 2013 study</a> showed that, as a person’s geographic skill increases, so does their preference for paper maps.</p> <p>For me, the difference between deep knowledge and surface knowledge is the difference between what I know about New York City, where I have lived for years, and San Francisco, which I have visited only a handful of times. In New York, I can tell you where all the neighborhoods are and which train lines to take and speculate about whether the prevalence of Manhattan schist in the geological substrate influenced the heights of the buildings that are in Greenwich Village versus Midtown. I’ve invested a lot of time in looking at both paper and digital maps of New York. In San Francisco, I’ve only ever used digital maps to navigate from point to point. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know where anything is in the Bay Area.</p> <p>Our brains encode knowledge as what scientists call <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.014">a cognitive map</a>. In psychology-speak, I lack a cognitive map of San Francisco.</p> <p>“When the human brain gathers visual information about an object, it also gathers information about its surroundings, and associates the two,” wrote communication researchers Jinghui Hou, Justin Rashid and Kwan Min Lee <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.014">in a 2017 study</a>. “In a similar manner to how people construct a mental map of a physical environment (e.g., a desk in the center of an office facing the door), readers form a ‘cognitive map’ of the physical location of a text and its spatial relationship to the text as a whole.”</p> <p>Reading in print makes it easier for the brain to encode knowledge and to remember things. Sensory cues, like unfolding the complicated folds of a paper map, help create that cognitive map in the brain and help the brain to retain the knowledge.</p> <p>The same is true for a simple practice like tracing out a hiking route on a paper map with your finger. The physical act of moving your arm and feeling the paper under your finger <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/06/smarter-living/memory-tricks-mnemonics.html">gives your brain haptic and sensorimotor cues</a> that contribute to the formation and retention of the cognitive map.</p> <p><strong>Map mistakes</strong></p> <p>Another factor in the paper versus digital debate is accuracy. Obviously, a good digital map is better than a bad paper map, just like a good paper map is better than a bad digital map.</p> <p><a href="https://medium.com/@mitpress/3-recommendations-to-combat-technochauvinism-9099b257b92c">Technochauvinists</a> may believe that all digital maps are good, but just as in the paper world, the accuracy of digital maps depends entirely on the level of detail and fact-checking invested by the company making the map.</p> <p>For example, a <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/20/business/la-fi-tn-apple-google-maps-lost-20121220">2012 survey by the crowdsourcing company Crowdflower</a> found that Google Maps accurately located 89 percent of businesses, while Apple Maps correctly found 74 percent. This isn’t surprising, as Google <a href="https://www.google.com/streetview/understand/">invests millions in sending people</a> around the world to map terrain for Google StreetView. Google Maps are good because the company invests time, money and human effort in making its maps good – not because digital maps are inherently better.</p> <p>Fanatical attention to detail is necessary to keep digital maps up to date, as conditions in the real world change constantly. Companies like Google are constantly updating their maps, and will have to do so regularly for as long as they continue to publish. The maintenance required for digital content is substantial – <a href="https://www.pprune.org/private-flying/601767-maps-obsolete.html">a cost that technochauvinists often ignore</a>.</p> <p>In my view, it’s easier to forgive the errors in a paper map. Physical maps usually include an easily visible publication date so users can see when the map was published. (When was the last time you noticed the date-of-last-update on your car navigation system?) When you are passively following the spoken GPS directions of a navigation system, and there is, say, an unmarked exit, it confuses the GPS system and causes chaos among the people in the car. (Especially the backseat drivers.)</p> <p><strong>The best map for the job</strong></p> <p>Some of the deeper flaws of digital maps are not readily apparent to the public. Digital systems, including cartographic ones, are more interconnected than most people realize. Mistakes, which are inevitable, can go viral and create more trouble than anyone anticipates.</p> <p>For example: Reporter Kashmir Hill has written about a Kansas farm in the geographic center of the U.S. that has been <a href="https://splinternews.com/how-an-internet-mapping-glitch-turned-a-random-kansas-f-1793856052">plagued by legal trouble and physical harassment</a>, because a digital cartography database mistakenly uses the farm’s location as a default every time the database can’t identify the real answer.</p> <p>“As a result, for the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the U.S. it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country,” Hill wrote. “This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate.”</p> <p>A technochauvinist mindset assumes everything in the future will be digital. But what happens if a major company like Google stops offering its maps? What happens when a <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/19/16910378/government-shutdown-2018-nasa-spacex-iss-falcon-heavy">government shutdown</a> means that <a href="http://satnews.com/story.php?number=827160505">satellite data</a> powering smartphone GPS systems isn’t transmitted? Right now, ambulances and fire trucks can keep a road atlas in the front seat in case electronic navigation fails. If society doesn’t maintain physical maps, first responders won’t be able to get to addresses when there is a fire or someone is critically ill.</p> <p>Interrupting a country’s GPS signals is also a realistic cyberwarfare tactic. The U.S. Navy has resumed training new recruits in <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11931403/US-navy-returns-to-celestial-navigation-amid-fears-of-computer-hack.html">celestial navigation</a>, a technique that dates back to ancient Greece, as a guard against when the digital grid gets hacked.</p> <p>Ultimately, I don’t think it should be a competition between physical and digital. In the future, people will continue to need both kinds of maps. Instead of arguing whether paper or digital is a better map interface, people should consider what map is the right tool for the task.</p> <div><a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/artificial-unintelligence"></a><em>MIT Press provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.</em><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></div> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/meredith-broussard-659409"><em>Meredith Broussard</em></a><em>, Assistant Professor of Journalism, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/new-york-university-1016">New York University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-paper-maps-still-matter-in-the-digital-age-105341">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Australian building codes don't expect houses to be fire-proof

<p>More than <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51015536">2,000 homes</a> have been destroyed in Australia since the start of the bushfire season. More will certainly be destroyed before the season ends in March.</p> <p>Could these houses have been built to better withstand fire?</p> <p>Quite probably. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Australia’s building regulations need reforming to ensure homes are made more fireproof.</p> <p>Appropriate building codes are about weighing costs and benefits. Only analysing the reasons buildings were destroyed will tell us if more needs to be done.</p> <p><strong>Performances standards</strong></p> <p>Not all buildings are created equal. Newer buildings will generally be more fire-proof than older ones, due to building regulations having been improved over time.</p> <p>In particular, national building requirements for residences in bushfire-prone areas were improved after the 2009 “Black Saturday” bushfires in Victoria, in which 173 people died and more 2,000 homes were destroyed.</p> <p>Buildings are regulated by states and territories but governments have recognised the value of nationally consistent building codes through the National Construction Code. This code, among other things, sets minimum standards for the design and construction of new buildings on bushfire-prone land. (What land is deemed “bushfire prone” is defined by state and territory legislation.)</p> <p>The National Construction Code is “performance-based”. It doesn’t specify how a building must be built, but how a building must perform. This means innovative designs, materials and construction methods can be readily approved.</p> <p>A residential building on bushfire-prone land, the code states, must be designed and constructed to “reduce the risk” of ignition from a bushfire, appropriate to the risk from bushfire flames, burning embers, radiant heat and intensity of the bushfire attack.</p> <p>The risk to which a building is expected to be exposed depends on the individual site and conditions such as vegetation type and density, and slope of land. Properties are assessed and given a “Bushfire Attack Level” (BAL) rating by inspectors.</p> <p>There are six BAL levels that classify the severity of potential exposure to bushfire. The highest – BAL FZ – is for buildings exposed to an extreme risk, such as a house surrounded by trees that could produce direct contact from flames.</p> <p>Lower BAL levels take into account risks from burning debris, ember attack and radiant heat. The lowest deems the risk insufficient to warrant any specific construction requirements.</p> <p>Construction details for each BAL cover building elements such as floors, walls, roofs, doors, windows, vents, roof drainage systems, verandahs, and water and gas supply pipes. For example, fire-resistant timber may be required for floor framing, or windows may be required to use toughened glass.</p> <p><strong>Balancing competing interests</strong></p> <p>Are the requirements of the National Construction Code good enough?</p> <p>If the aim is to minimise the number of buildings damaged or destroyed in extreme fire events, the answer is no.</p> <p>But that’s not the aim. Like most government regulation, the code requirements are about balancing competing interests.</p> <p>All building regulations are subject to cost-benefit analysis. They must demonstrate a “net cost benefit” to the community – that the cost of compliance will be less than the benefit delivered to the general community.</p> <p>It’s a cold calculation about the risk and potential cost of homes being destroyed in bushfires versus the more certain costs involved in requiring all homes to be built to more stringent building codes.</p> <p>Government policy treats potential property loss as a matter for owners to address through property insurance. There’s no reason to expect this to change any time soon.</p> <p><strong>Learning from experience</strong></p> <p>If the cost of building destruction in bushfires turned out to be greater than the cost of more stringent building requirements, there would be a strong rationale to improve the regulations. This is why post-fire analysis is so important.</p> <p>A prime example is the royal commission into the causes and costs of the Black Saturday fires.</p> <p>The commission’s <a href="http://royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Commission-Reports/Final-Report.html">final report</a> made a number of recommendations for changes to the National Construction Code. These included new provisions to:</p> <ul> <li>make protection from ember attack a performance requirement</li> <li>address the design and construction of private (underground) bushfire emergency shelters</li> <li>include design and construction requirements for non-residential buildings, such as schools and aged-care centres, in bushfire-prone areas.</li> </ul> <p>All governments agreed to the first two recommendations, which were promptly implemented in the National Construction Code (in 2010).</p> <p>The recommendation about non-residential building was not implemented at the time because governments considered that planning laws would not allow these types of buildings to be built in a bushfire-prone area.</p> <p>However, the 2019-2020 business plan of the Australian Building Codes Board (which administers the National Construction Code, includes a “bushfire provisions for non-residential buildings” project, so it is reasonable to expect changes to the code in future.</p> <p>This season’s fires may also provide impetus for other changes to the construction code. One key factor that will be worthy of research is the age of the buildings destroyed.</p> <p>Depending on how many homes lost were built after 2010, it might be argued that changes made after the 2009 Victorian fire have been insufficient to keep up with evolving conditions.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129540/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/raymond-william-loveridge-924307">Raymond William Loveridge</a>, Adjunct Professor - School of Built Environment, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-building-codes-dont-expect-houses-to-be-fire-proof-and-thats-by-design-129540">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to care for and recover personal items after bushfire

<p>The devastation wrought by the Australian bushfires has been immense and, as the fires continue to burn, the final loss won’t be known for many months. While the impact on the environment, human and animal life is overwhelming, for many individuals the loss of personal items such as photographs, documents, artwork and personal treasures is significant.</p> <p>Heirlooms and artworks are often cherished for the people, events and experiences they represent rather than their monetary value or cultural importance. They can be integral to understanding our personal history, culture and identity.</p> <p>While damage to them can be heartbreaking, even a badly damaged family treasure may hold immeasurable personal significance.</p> <p>For those threatened by bushfire, planning for the preservation of your treasured items can start now. Planning resources are <a href="https://aiccm.org.au/disaster/fire">available online</a>. For those who have been affected by fire damage, you may still be able to salvage items.</p> <p>There are three main factors to consider when thinking about the impact of bushfires on your personal treasures – smoke, heat, and water.</p> <p>The most obvious damage from smoke is soiling. Soot, ash and other particulate matter are usually dark and greasy. When deposited on the surface of an object, colour and detail are obscured. Damage from high heat exposure can result in blistering, melting, warping, charring and partial or complete loss.</p> <p>If water has been used to put out the fire, water related damage can be an issue. Water can cause shrinkage, distortion, discolouration, mould and partial or complete loss of original material.</p> <p>The possible damage to your items will depend on the material types. Here are some tips for handling them.</p> <p><strong>Paintings</strong></p> <p>Paintings can be affected by all three factors.</p> <p>• If an artwork is framed, it is recommended that you leave the frame in place. Exposure to high heat can soften the paint layer, which may cause it to stick to the frame. A specialist should remove the work from the frame.</p> <p>• The particulate nature of smoke means that it can cause abrasion as the soot is wiped away. Get advice before undertaking any cleaning. Do not use water.</p> <p>• Assess the surface for loose material (lifting paint, blistering). Take care when handling to ensure no loss of fragile material. Retain any loose elements in a Ziplock bag. These can be reattached later.</p> <p><strong>Paper documents, prints and photographs</strong></p> <p>Though potentially affected by all three factors, water damage can be the most severe for these items, with the risk of mould.</p> <p>• Allow wet items to slowly air dry, indoors if possible. Increase indoor airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Do not use hair dryers, ovens, irons.</p> <p>• Photo albums can stick together. Do not try to open them. Ask a conservator for advice.</p> <p>• Dry paper documents and photos can be cleaned of soot with a vacuum and dry sponge.</p> <p><strong>Textiles (i.e. sporting memorabilia)</strong></p> <p>Textiles can be affected by all three factors.</p> <p>• Handle with care, as they may be fragile.</p> <p>• Low powered vacuum removal of soot may be possible if fabric is not weak (shedding).</p> <p><strong>Glass, metal and ceramic objects</strong></p> <p>These items can be affected by high temperatures and smoke. Heat can distort shape (melting) or alter surface finishes (i.e. glaze on pottery). Such damage is usually irreversible. Smoke damage can leave a darkened layer of soot on the surface.</p> <p>• Care is need when removing soot to ensure abrasion of the surface doesn’t occur.</p> <p>• Heat can make these objects brittle. Care is needed when handling.</p> <p>• Use gloves when handling. Skin oils can damage the surface.</p> <p><strong>What else can you do</strong></p> <p>You may not be able to save everything, so focus on prioritising what is most important to you. Personal safety is the highest priority when entering damaged buildings. Wear protective clothing, footwear, goggles, gloves and masks to protect from hazardous material and possible mould spores.</p> <p>Items may be more fragile than they look, so consider using something rigid to support them when lifting and transporting such as a piece of tray, pieces of cardboard, box, a plastic container or lid.</p> <p>Retain any items that are recognisable, it may be possible to restore them.</p> <p>The national conservation body, the <a href="https://aiccm.org.au/disaster/fire">Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Materials</a>, provides a number of useful fire recovery resources.</p> <p>Details for accredited conservators can also be found through the AICCM website. A conservator will be able to provide advice on how to best approach the recovery and ongoing preservation of your heirlooms and artworks.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129356/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/vanessa-kowalski-929999">Vanessa Kowalski</a>, Painting Conservator, Grimwade Conservation Services, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-care-for-and-recover-personal-items-after-bushfire-129356">original article</a>.</em></p>

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A crisis of underinsurance threatens to scar rural Australia permanently

<p>Australia is in the midst of a bushfire crisis that will affect local communities for years, if not permanently, due to a national crisis of underinsurance.</p> <p>Already more than 1,500 homes have been destroyed – with months still to go in the bushfire season. Compare this to 2009, when Victoria’s “Black Saturday” fires claimed more than 2,000 homes in February, or 1983, when the “Ash Wednesday” fires destroyed about 2,400 homes in Victoria and South Australia, also in February.</p> <p>The 2020 fire season could end up surpassing these tragedies, despite the lessons learned and improvements in preparedness.</p> <p>One lesson not really learned, though, is that home insurance is rarely sufficient to enable recovery. The evidence is many people losing their homes will find themselves unable to rebuild, due to lack of insurance.</p> <p>We know this from <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/VF2QKHQM2J3JQ3YRXZQZ/full?target=10.1080%2F00049182.2019.1691436&amp;">interviews with those affected</a> by the October 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires (in which almost <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-17/remembering-the-blue-mountains-bushfires-one-year-on/5819100">200 homes were destroyed</a>). Despite past disasters, more than <a href="https://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/19722/Submission-Natural-Disaster-Funding-Arrangements-June-2014-final.pdf">65% of households affected</a> were underinsured.</p> <p>Research published by the Victorian government in 2017, meanwhile, estimated <a href="https://providers.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-02/promoting%20financial%20resilience%20to%20emergencies%20through%20home%20and%20contents%20insurance%20strategy.pdf">just 46% Victorian households</a> have enough insurance to recover from a disaster, with 28% underinsured and 26% having no insurance.</p> <p>The consequences aren’t just personal. They potentially harm local communities permanently, as those unable to rebuild move away. Communities lose the vital knowledge and social networks that make them resilient to disaster.</p> <p><strong>Miscalculating rebuilding costs</strong></p> <p>All too often the disaster of having your home and possessions razed by fire is followed by the disaster of realising by how much you are underinsured.</p> <p>As researchers into the impact of fires, we are interested why people find themselves underinsured. Our research, which includes <a href="https://insuranceresearchblog.wordpress.com/">interviewing</a> those who have have lost their homes, shows it is complicated, and not necessarily due to negligence.</p> <p>For example, a woman who lost her home in Kinglake, northeast of Melbourne, in the 2009 fires, told us how her insurance calculations turned out to bear no resemblance to the actual cost of rebuilding.</p> <p>“You think okay, this is what I paid for the property,” she said. “I think we had about $550,000 on the house, and the contents was maybe $120,000.” It was on these estimates that she and her partner took out insurance. She told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>You think sure, yeah, I can rebuild my life with that much money. But nowhere near. Not even close. We wound up with a $700,000 mortgage at the end of rebuilding.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>An extra mortgage</strong></p> <p>A common issue is that people insure based on their home’s market value. But rebuilding is often more expensive.</p> <p>For one thing there’s the need to comply with new building codes, which have been improved to ensure buildings take into account their potential exposure to bushfire. This is likely to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/VF2QKHQM2J3JQ3YRXZQZ/full?target=10.1080%2F00049182.2019.1691436&amp;">increase costs by 20% or more</a>, but is rarely made clear to insurance customers.</p> <p>Construction costs also often spike following disasters, due to extra demand for building services and materials.</p> <p>A further contributing factor is that banks can claim insurance payments to pay off mortgages, meaning the only way to rebuild is by taking out another mortgage.</p> <p>“People who owned houses, any money that was owing, everything was taken back to the bank before they could do anything else,” said a former shop owner from Whittlesea, (about 30km west of Kinglake and also severely hit by the 2009 fires).</p> <p>This meant, once banks were paid, people had nothing left to restart.</p> <p>She told us:</p> <blockquote> <p>People came into the shop and cried on my shoulder, and I cried with them. I helped them all I could there. That’s probably why we lost the business, because how can you ask people to pay when they’ve got nothing?</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>Undermining social cohesion</strong></p> <p>In rural areas there is often a shortage of rental properties. Insurance companies generally only cover rent for 12 months, which is not enough time to rebuild. For families forced to relocate, moving back can feel disruptive to their recovery.</p> <p>Underinsurance significantly increases the chances those who lose their homes will move away and never return – hampering social recovery and resilience. Residents that cannot afford to rebuild will sell their property, with “tree changers” the most likely buyers.</p> <p>Communities not only lose residents with local knowledge and important skills but also social cohesion. <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959378013001684">Research in both Australia and the United States</a> suggested this can leave those communities less prepared for future disasters.</p> <p>This is because a sense of community is vital to individuals’ willingness and ability to prepare for and act in a threat situation. A confidence that others will weigh in to help in turn increases people’s confidence and ability to prepare and act.</p> <p>In Whittlesea, for example, residents reported a change in their sense of community cohesion after the Black Saturday fires. “The newer people coming in,” one interviewee told us, “aren’t invested like the older people are in the community.”</p> <p>Australia is one of the few wealthy countries that heavily relies on insurance markets for recovery from disasters. But the evidence suggests this is an increasingly fraught strategy, particularly when rural communities also have to cope with the reality of more intense and frequent extreme weather events.</p> <p>If communities are to recover from bushfires, the nation cannot put its trust in individual insurance policies. What’s required is national policy reform to ensure effective disaster preparedness and recovery for all.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129343/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chloe-lucas-132984"><em>Chloe Lucas</em></a><em>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Geography and Spatial Sciences, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christine-eriksen-106365">Christine Eriksen</a>, Senior Lecturer in Geography and Sustainable Communities, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-bowman-4397">David Bowman</a>, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-crisis-of-underinsurance-threatens-to-scar-rural-australia-permanently-129343">original article</a>.</em></p>

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