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Dad forced to live in tent amid housing crisis

<p>An Aussie dad is the latest to fall victim to the housing crisis, with soaring rent and low vacancy rates forcing him to live in a tent. </p> <p>Peter Woodforde, 58, has been forced to live makeshift gazebo wrapped in tarps that's set up in an Adelaide park, and while his children know that he is doing it tough, they don't know that he is homeless and living in a tent. </p> <p>The father has yet to tell his kids, who live with their mother, that he's unable to find a suitable place to live as he said that they would be distraught if they found out. </p> <p>He admitted his 15-year-old daughter once told him that it "hurt her" to know her dad was struggling to find a comfortable place to live - but she doesn't know the extent of it. </p> <p>Speaking to <em>7News</em>, Woodforde said it's been difficult not being able to offer his kids a place to sleep. </p> <p>“Every parent wants to give their kids everything they possibly can and wants to give them the best chance of having a good life,” he told the publication. </p> <p>“What I say to them is that this is only temporary, Dad will get back on his feet.</p> <p>“(But) you’re missing out on some golden years ... I help where I can, I might pick them up and drop them off from school, but now they’re too far for me to do that,” he added. </p> <p>"I have to get myself off the street. I have to get my family into a house." </p> <p>Woodforde is sharing his story because he believes that homelessness is in a “state of emergency”,  especially with winter approaching. </p> <p>He is also unsure about whether his makeshift tent will collapse when heavier rain hits, and hopes that more could be done to help these people facing desperate circumstances. </p> <p>“We’re coming into the colder months - what’s the bill going to be for all the health problems that are going to arise out of this?" he said. </p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Australia's most trusted brands for 2024 revealed

<p>Despite the rise in cost-of-living, there are some brands that Aussies continue to have confidence in, and are willing to spend their money on. </p> <p>Over 4,000 Australians were surveyed by market research agency Catalyst, who were commissioned by Reader's Digest, and they were asked to choose the brands they trusted the most across nearly 70 different categories. </p> <p>"It's been a very challenging few years, but ultimately our category winners share a key common trait," Catalyst Research director Cameron Gentle said.</p> <p>"They consistently deliver on their promise. People have an expectation of what they're going to get, and the particular product or organisation delivers what they're after. Time and again."</p> <p>The survey, now in its 25th year, has crowned Bunnings as the ‘most iconic’ retailer and the fourth most trusted brand. </p> <p>Other noteworthy winners include Singapore Airlines for the most trusted brand to fly with, Panadol for pain relief, and Toyota for cars. </p> <p>Dettol was ultimately crowned the most trusted brand, earning the number one spot. </p> <p>"Since its humble beginnings in 1935, when Dettol Antiseptic Liquid was used as a post-surgery antiseptic skin wash in hospitals, Dettol has evolved to become the trusted brand in germ protection around the home," Readers Digest wrote.</p> <p><strong>Check out the list of Australia's top 20 most trusted brands below: </strong></p> <p>20. Stihl</p> <p>19. Weber</p> <p>18. Mitsubishi Electric</p> <p>17. Persil</p> <p>16. Specsavers</p> <p>15. Selleys</p> <p>14. Glen 20</p> <p>13. Dairy Farmers</p> <p>12. Royal Flying Doctors Service</p> <p>11. Weber</p> <p>10. Bega</p> <p>9. Toyota</p> <p>8. Panadol</p> <p>7. Bridgestone</p> <p>6. Cancer Council</p> <p>5. Dulux</p> <p>4. Bunnings</p> <p>3. Cadbury</p> <p>2. Band-Aid</p> <p>1. Dettol</p> <p><em>Image: Trusted Brands</em></p>

Money & Banking

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"I felt duped": 95-year-old loses $1.6 million in bank scam

<p>A 95-year-old has been left feeling "sick" after she was scammed out of $1.6 million by heartless scammers claiming to be a bank. </p> <p>In November last year, Harriet Spring received a call from a man who called himself George Thompson, and said he worked for ING Bank. </p> <p>The man gained Harriet's trust over several months, at the difficult time that the great-grandmother was handling the sale of her mother's house.</p> <p>"Over time, I completely thought he was from ING, I had no reason to believe he wasn't," she told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/today/95-year-old-great-grandmother-loses-more-than-1-million-life-savings-to-scammers/f41540e7-f5c9-4c3b-89a7-ac94dd81bf6a" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>"George" then convinced Harriet the money from the sale of the house could build interest in an ING account, but it was actually being held by Westpac Bank.</p> <p>"It sounds implausible now, but the scammer had me convinced and I told my mother's bank, Teachers Mutual Bank, that this was an ING fixed term deposit, but it was being put in the Westpac bank," she said.</p> <p>"I put down the BSB number and the account number and what I thought was my name attached to the account, (my mother's bank) pointed out that it seems strange and ING account would be held with Westpac, but they still went ahead and authorised the transfer."</p> <p>When Harriet realised the scammers had taken hold of her life savings totalling $1.6 million, she felt "sick". </p> <p>"Obviously my world just fell out from under me - I just felt sick," she said.</p> <p>"I felt utterly responsible, I felt duped, foolish, ashamed - a lot of shame associated with it and I think that's why a lot of people don't come forward and talk about this kind of thing."</p> <p>Harriet has shared her story as a warning for others to be wary of potential scammers, while also calling on banks to have better protocols in place to stop suspicious transactions from going through. </p> <p>"Someone with basic training from the bank would have known that ING don't bank with any other banks and they should have flagged it," she said.</p> <p>"I believe the reality is that the banks 100 per cent put the blame on the victims and they minimise their own liability."</p> <p>"There should be some sort of system for compensating victims, the banks don't commit the theft, but they certainly drive the getaway car and they need to be held responsible for being complicit with this."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

Legal

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David Beckham's incredible offer for 'stealing' couple's wedding venue

<p>David Beckham has reportedly made a huge offer to a couple in a bid to steal the venue from them. </p> <p>The couple had booked the luxury resort Gleneagles in Scotland, UK for their dream wedding, but the football legend - who has reportedly been busy hunting for the perfect location to celebrate his 50th birthday - also wanted to book the venue to mark the milestone birthday. </p> <p>According to <em><a href="https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/david-beckham-steals-couples-wedding-32864115" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Mirror</a>,</em> Beckham has apparently convinced the couple to move their wedding date and venue by helping them pay off their wedding and a few other special offers. </p> <p>A “friend of a friend” took to X, to share the claim this week. </p> <p>“A friend of a friend is getting married at Gleneagles next year but David Beckham wants the date for his 50th, so to get the friend to move it so he can have the hotel, Gleneagles are paying for their new wedding date, honeymoon AND paying off their mortgage … the power of Becks," user Ollienarrator wrote in a tweet. </p> <p>Fans of Beckham praised the football legend for being so generous. </p> <p>“OMG!!!! That’s absolutely wild! Ah but so worth it,” wrote one person. </p> <p>“What a wedding present!” added another, to which the original poster responded:  “I bet Beckham won’t have to pay either! But yeah, mortgage paid off will do!” </p> <p><em>The Mirror</em> reported that they have contacted Beckham's representatives for a comment. </p> <p><em>Image: Ryan Browne/ Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Gina Rinehart's financial advice for Anthony Albanese

<p>Gina Rinehart has offered some free and unsolicited financial advice to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in the wake of his divisive Federal Budget. </p> <p>Australia's richest woman, who has no experience in politics, suggested cutting the fuel excise and halting immigration would have a greater positive impact on the economy, as opposed to the Albanese government's measures to curb the cost of living. </p> <p>Rinehart has been critical of the $300 handout to combat energy bills regardless of household income, and believes that a big-spending budget is not the best way forward.</p> <p>Rather than tax Australians more to hand the money out again through handouts and welfare, she said lower taxes overall was a better way forward.</p> <p>Ms Rinehart said cutting fuel tax, which the government has rejected as too expensive, was one option.</p> <p>“I have advocated strongly for the government to directly reduce costs of living for Australians by cutting their fuel excise taxes, which would spread not only to car users, but all products that require transport,’’ she told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/gina-rinehart-tells-anthony-albanese-to-cut-fuel-excise-migration/news-story/bb84ef69e8a19506e7e3ae3e1f678e7c" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a>.</p> <p>“I have also advocated for cutting other taxes, payroll tax, stamp duty and license fees, that not only would bring down the cost of living, but were supposed to have been cut when GST was introduced decades ago."</p> <p>“Big spending, big government costs all (which I advocate against), and adds to the costs of living."</p> <p>“Recycling taxes paid is very inefficient, the taxpayer is actually better off paying less tax, and spending their income as they prefer.”</p> <p>Ms Rinehart, who has racked up a net worth of over $46.5 billion AUD through her investments into mining, has previously suggested a better way is to cut taxes and allow people to keep more of what they earn.</p> <p>“To help people suffering the most on low incomes, such as veterans, pensioners and uni students, if the government really cared about these fellow Australians struggling with high costs, they would remove the onerous government paperwork and their unfair limits on pensioners, veterans and students working hours, each of whom face higher effective tax rates than me if they choose to work above a very small threshold of hours,’’ she said.</p> <p>“Letting Australians who want to work, work, would be not only better for those Australians and their families, but would save the need for the government’s very expensive policy of hugely increased immigration, to allegedly bring in more workers.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Darren England/EPA-EFE & LUKAS COCH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Editorial</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Telstra announces thousands of job losses

<p>Telstra is set to axe 2,800 jobs, or 9 percent of their total workforce, by the end of 2024 in a bid to save a whopping $350 million. </p> <p>The telco giant announced that the job cuts would "begin immediately" as a result of the impending business "reset" strategy. </p> <p>Chief executive officer Vicki Brady announced the cuts on Tuesday, and said the job cuts were "difficult" but "necessary" as parts of Telstra were not performing to the required levels.</p> <div> <div>"We need to be a more efficient and sustainable business to ensure we can keep investing at the levels required to meet the ever-increasing demand for our connectivity and services for our customers right across the country," she said.</div> </div> <p>Ms Brady also assured Telstra customers that the job losses would not affect customer service teams. </p> <p>“We have invested significantly in our customer service over recent years. That includes on-shoring our call centres for consumer and small business customers, it includes buying back our stores to deliver consistently good experience,” she said.</p> <p>“None of these changes impact those commitments." </p> <p>“As we work through the further changes still to come that I expect to be able to share with our employees in mid-July, customer service and experience will continue to be a key priority in that.”</p> <p>Despite Ms Brady's claims, Communication Workers Union (CWU) National Assistant Secretary, James Perkins, who represents Telstra workers said there was no way the substantial job cuts would not affect services.</p> <p>“While the detail of where exactly these jobs are being cut from is still unclear, one thing is certain – it will have a devastating impact on services,” Mr Perkins said. </p> <p>“You can’t slash thousands of jobs without seriously impacting the delivery of services across the country. Telstra has to answer to this.”</p> <p>The job cuts come as Telstra continues to scale up AI adoption, after the company announced in February it was expanding two in-house developed generative AI solutions following “promising pilots with frontline team members, enabling faster and more successful interactions with customers”.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Where did money come from?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-hail-1302961">Steve<em>n Hail</em></a><em>, <a href="https://www.torrens.edu.au/">Torrens University Australia</a></em></p> <p>For the most part, economists continue to believe a story of money told to generations of students by a series of textbooks over the past 150 years.</p> <p>This story asks us to imagine a pre-monetary barter economy, where people bought goods and services by trading them for other goods and services.</p> <p>Eventually a suitable commodity – perhaps gold or silver – emerged as both an acceptable means of exchange for conducting trade and a convenient unit of account for expressing value.</p> <p>Later, coins were issued – eventually to be monopolised by governments – and later still paper money, credit, and banking systems.</p> <p>The problem with this story is that there is no historical evidence to support it. As was <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/2802221?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">noted</a> by prominent anthropologist Caroline Humphreys:</p> <blockquote> <p>No example of a barter economy, pure and simple, has ever been described, let alone the emergence from it of money … all available ethnography suggests that there has never been such a thing.</p> </blockquote> <p>So where did money come from exactly? One difficulty we face is that writing about money – what gives it value, and how monetary systems work – is not something young economists are generally encouraged to do.</p> <p>As a consequence, among the best articles ever written about money are two now more than 100 years old by British economist Alfred Mitchell-Innes, entitled “<a href="https://www.community-exchange.org/docs/what%20is%20money.htm">What is Money</a>?” and “<a href="https://cooperative-individualism.org/innes-a-mitchell_credit-theory-of-money-1914-dec-jan.pdf">The Credit Theory of Money</a>”.</p> <p>These papers, until recently almost completely ignored by the economics profession, tell a different story, rejecting the idea that money evolved naturally from barter.</p> <p>We can now be confident this version is closer to the truth. And it has big implications for how we think about the role of governments within monetary systems, and what gives money value. Acknowledging the true story of money would force a paradigm shift among economists – no wonder a lot of them don’t want to think about it.</p> <h2>Actually, early governments invented money</h2> <p>The truth is that money predates markets. <a href="https://youtu.be/7cLDFjTt4Bs?si=fDTafcZD_u1S23kD">Governments invented money</a> – it did not emerge independently from pre-existing barter systems.</p> <p>Market economies simply could not develop until money existed. For much of history, the currency tokens people regarded as money had little or no intrinsic value, taking the form of clay tablets, hazelwood tally sticks, base metals, shells or paper.</p> <p>The earliest forms of what Keynes called “modern money” – to distinguish it from gift tokens used for ceremonial purposes in communal groups – go back to the origins of taxation, accounting, and even literacy and numeracy. These early currencies were units of account used to assess the tributes that had to be paid to early governmental institutions in the Middle East.</p> <p>The word shekel is still used as a currency unit, but dates to ancient Babylon and the emergence of money itself, over 5,000 years ago.</p> <p>The idea that the need to pay taxes is what creates a demand for a currency was well understood by colonial governments. They knew how to introduce their currencies into countries they had invaded. To force locals to supply labour or goods to the government, they imposed a tax liability – often, a hut tax. This tax could only be paid using the currency of the colony.</p> <p>Locals had to either work for the colonial government or supply goods to others who did, else they wouldn’t have the specific currency needed to pay taxes. This created a demand for the colonial power’s currency, which the government could then spend.</p> <p>If such a government spent more overall than it withdrew in taxation – running a budget deficit – the community could add the remaining currency to its savings. Taxation and the legal system created a demand for the government’s money and provided the impetus for the development of a monetary economy.</p> <p>Even today, it’s the tax system that drives the monetary system. Demand for a government’s money is guaranteed because people need it to pay federal taxes.</p> <h2>But banks create money too</h2> <p>Actual physical cash makes up a tiny proportion of the money in circulation. Most of what we regard as money is held in our bank deposits, effectively a bunch of numbers on a ledger. Most of these bank deposits are created by banks when they make loans to us, and this is not government money at all – it is private money, created by the banks themselves.</p> <p>When a bank makes a loan to you, that loan becomes an <em>asset</em> for the bank, because you have to pay it back with interest. But at the same time, the loan appears as a deposit of funds in your account, which is a <em>liability</em> for the bank. Technically, you both owe each other.</p> <p>On paper, this means there’s now money in the system that wasn’t there before. The bank hasn’t actually lent you someone else’s money, the loan deposited in your account represents the bank’s IOU to you.</p> <p>Both the loan and the deposit are created by the bank, using nothing more than a computer keyboard. The bank has promised to use its holdings of government money to make payments on your behalf, including tax payments to the government, or to provide you with government money in the form of physical cash.</p> <p>As economist Hyman Minsky once said, “anyone can create money – the problem lies in getting it accepted”.</p> <p>Obviously, private banks don’t issue government currency. The Commonwealth government and its agent, the Reserve Bank of Australia, sit at the top of our own monetary system.</p> <p>Government-issued currency will always have value because it’s the unit of account needed to assess and pay our taxes. How much value the currency holds depends on how much the economy produces, how difficult it is to obtain the currency and on how much tax we have to pay.</p> <p>Here is some food for thought. If we accept that money and markets did not emerge naturally but had to be created by governmental institutions and legal systems, this means that there is no such thing as a genuinely free market, no such thing as a natural rate of unemployment, and no such thing as a natural distribution of income and wealth.</p> <p>The theory that money emerged naturally in the private sector encourages people to believe that free markets are natural systems in which governments only interfere. But in truth, early governments invented the very institutions of money and markets, and the regulatory frameworks that determined how those markets work and in whose interests.</p> <p>Exchange economies have always depended on systems of law and they always will. The more pertinent question concerns who writes those laws – and in whose interests those regulations are applied.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Correction: This article has been amended to reflect that a loan deposit represents a bank’s IOU to the customer, not to a bank’s other customers, as originally reported.</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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229481/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steven-hail-1302961"><em>Steven Hail</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://www.torrens.edu.au/">Torrens University Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/where-did-money-come-from-229481">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Money & Banking

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“Truly disgraceful”: Landlord cops backlash after posting photo of evicted tenant

<p>A landlord in Victoria has been slammed online after posting a photo of a former tenant who was evicted, and was forced to live in their car.</p> <p>The picture was originally posted to the private Landlords Victoria Facebook page, but was then leaked to X (formerly Twitter), and shows an old Nissan sedan with a tarp over the top, where a person was living after getting evicted from a rental.</p> <p>The landlord had described the tenant’s living situation as “karma” for the financial toll her eviction process had taken on him, claiming he dealt with years of legal battles.</p> <p>He claims he was left out of pocket to the tune of “thousands of dollars”.</p> <p>“Took me almost three years to get this person out of my rental,” he wrote in the post. “It seems she had trouble finding a new place to live."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="qme"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALAB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ALAB</a> <a href="https://t.co/2WEn1hyBnf">pic.twitter.com/2WEn1hyBnf</a></p> <p>— Purplepingers (@purplepingers) <a href="https://twitter.com/purplepingers/status/1790345077816279280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 14, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>“I am thousands of dollars out of pocket in legal fees and lost rent not to mention the stress and frustration with VCAT ... Looking at this karma must be real.”</p> <p>The landlord added that it “must be bloody freezing” and gloated that the woman was “not (in) an enviable position”.</p> <p>The landlord's post welcomed a wave of criticism, as many took aim at the landlord for broadcasting, and even taking pleasure in his former tenant's hardship. </p> <p>One social media comment accused the landlord of “publicly shaming and degrading her", while another said the post was “truly disgraceful”.</p> <p>While several people were disgusted by the landlord’s lack of empathy, others defended his rights as a property owner.</p> <p>“I wouldn’t want to see my tenant in that situation. But the fact is unless they pay the rent on time it won’t be me turning them out onto the street,” one person wrote. </p> <p><em>Image credits: X (Twitter)</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Huge drop in international economy airfares revealed

<p>Airfares to some of the most popular tourist destinations have dropped over the past year according to new data released by Flight Centre. </p> <p>The Australian agency revealed that average price of an international economy airfare sold in Australia has dropped by 12.8 per cent.</p> <p>The top three destinations with the most significant drop in prices include Indonesia at 21.01 per cent, New Zealand with 13.03 per cent and the US at 12.45 per cent. </p> <p>The UK has seen a decrease of 8.05 per cent and popular European destinations like France, Germany and Spain down 7.91 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 6.03 per cent, respectively.</p> <p>The cost of flights to Thailand has also gone down by 3.84 per cent. </p> <p>The figures are based on a comparison of the cost of flights between January and March last year and the same period this year. </p> <p>“In fantastic news for travellers the latest data shows the average cost of an international airfare is down almost 13 per cent when compared to this time last year,” Flight Centre global managing director Andrew Stark told news.com.au.</p> <p>“What that means in real figures is that an economy return airfare between Sydney and Bali would’ve cost on average $1010 this time last year, now it will now set you back under $800.”</p> <p>He attributed these changes to the increased competition and capacity. </p> <p>“It’s vital that there is active competition between the airlines and the more we see of it, the more likely we are to see cheaper airfares, more destination options and a better experience for consumers.”</p> <p>Qantas has also recently announced that they will be increasing the number of flights to Singapore and India, with flights from Sydney to Singapore set to increase from 14 to 17 return flights a week, and Sydney to Bengaluru from five a week to seven. </p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Nat Barr quizzes Jim Chalmers over one major budget flaw

<p>Nat Barr has quizzed treasurer Jim Chalmers over one major flaw in the federal budget. </p> <p>On Tuesday night, Chalmers <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/biggest-winners-and-losers-of-the-2024-25-federal-budget" target="_blank" rel="noopener">handed down</a> his third federal budget that prioritised cost-of-living relief, with one major initiative saving Aussies big on their next energy bills. </p> <p>All Australian families will get $300 off their annual electricity bill, while small businesses will also get a $325 rebate for their bills.</p> <p>Chalmers joined Nat Barr on <em>Sunrise</em> on Wednesday morning to discuss the initiative further, as the host pointed out one major flaw in the government's plan. </p> <p>“If you’re earning a million dollars, why do you need a $300 power rebate?” Barr asked.</p> <p>But Chalmers said wealthier Australians weren’t the focus of the rebate, as everyday Aussies struggling with the rising cost of living were sure to benefit. </p> <p>“It is primarily for people doing it tough — you know, millions and millions of Australians are under cost-of-living pressure,” he said.</p> <p>“We’re trying to help. So more help is on the way for millions of people under the pump. Whether it is a tax cut for every taxpayer or energy bill relief for every household.”</p> <p>Barr asked Chalmers if people earning $1 million were “under pressure”, but the treasurer said offering specifically targeted assistance was logistically impossible.</p> <p>“Once you go beyond (pensioners), you have to design a whole new system because the energy retailers that we use to provide this help, they don’t have income information for people,” he said.</p> <p>“We deliver this relief via energy bills, via the retailers. There’s not a system that allows you to slice and dice that beyond providing it either to people on pensions and payments.”</p> <p>Barr's comments were echoed online, with many slamming the logistics of the rebate on social media. </p> <p>"I'm sure Gina Rinehart is stoked she's getting $300 back on her energy bills," one person commented. </p> <p>Another added, "If this stupid government gives me $300 off my energy bills it goes straight to charity. Join me if you can afford it."</p> <p>A third wrote, "Feel like there should be an exemption in the $300 energy rebate for anyone who has ever slept under a doona with the aircon on."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Sunrise </em></p>

Money & Banking

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Woman shares fury after unknowingly paying for her engagement ring

<p dir="ltr">A new wife has shared her fury after she discovered her husband had been paying off her engagement ring from their joint bank account. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 28-year-old woman was overjoyed when her partner proposed to her with an $8,000 two-carat lab diamond ring, which he bought on a payment plan because he “didn’t have the funds available” when he bought it. </p> <p dir="ltr">The couple got married just three months later at the courthouse after they realised they could not afford a big, fancy wedding. </p> <p dir="ltr">After their big day, the new wife was shocked and annoyed when she discovered she had “unintentionally partially paid for two instalments”, which now makes her a “part owner of the ring”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I found out after we married and merged our finances that he has been withdrawing funds from our joint account — we make roughly the same — to finance this ring,” the furious woman shared in a Reddit thread.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have been having some arguments lately and he feels that the ring is a wedding expense and it’s only fair that I contribute towards it too, and that as a woman of this day I shouldn’t hesitate to be an equal partner.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She took particular issue with her husband for making her pay her share on what was supposed to be a gift from him.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I was just taken aback and honestly put off by the fact he is making me pay for a gift he gave to me. You don’t make the recipient of a gift pay for the damn gift,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The woman said if she had known her husband was going to make her pay for the ring, she wouldn’t have agreed to “buy it”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Mutual consent is essential when a couple is deciding to invest in an asset. Owning a house or a car jointly requires two ‘yeses’ and I wouldn’t certainly have said yes to jointly owning a ring he was supposed to give to me as a gift,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">Although the woman admitted that she had asked her partner for a “nice” ring before he proposed, saying that she “deserved a quality piece symbolising our love”, she said she wished her partner talked to her about the big expense before signing her up for payments. </p> <p dir="ltr">“My then-fiancé knew about the expectation I had of him and was upfront about things from the get go,” she explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“He could’ve discussed things with me and we could’ve seen if we were truly compatible like that. What I didn’t know was that he was plotting to ‘get even’ with me by taking out a payment plan and using our funds to finance it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“I don’t mind splurging for him, but this whole situation has left a very bad taste in my mouth.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Now she’s demanding her husband return her engagement ring to the jewellery store because she refuses to pay for it.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Reddit post has racked up thousands of comments, with some people jumping to the woman’s defence. </p> <p dir="ltr">One person wrote, “I’d be livid if I found out I was diamond poor instead of house poor.”</p> <p dir="ltr">However, not everyone thought the wife’s actions were justified, with one person writing, “You’re married, there is no ‘my money’ and ‘his money’. Money he spends towards the debt for the ring is money that can’t be spent on other things for your lives together. You wanted an expensive ring, they aren’t free”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Quiet beach town offering $450k job with free house and car

<p>A picturesque beach town in Western Australia has found a creative way to bring jobs to the area: by offering a range of enticing bonuses. </p> <p>The town of Bremer Bay, south-east of Perth, is desperate for healthcare providers to join the small town and have offered a range of persuasive perks to a doctor who would be willing to leave a big city for the job in the regional location. </p> <p>Bremer Bay is next to the Fitzgerald River National Park and nearly 40 minutes away from the closest town. Currently, they only have one temporary doctor; the next permanent GP is in Albany, almost 200 kilometres away, and the town is looking for the "Swiss army knife of doctors" to step up.</p> <p>According to the job listing on Seek, the successful applicant will be granted a rent-free five-bedroom house and a four-wheel drive, on top of a salary of up to $450,000 a year.</p> <p>"Live rent-free in a scenic location, experiencing the true essence of rural Australia," the advertisement reads.</p> <p>"We offer a competitive 70 per cent of Billings or a generous Salary, based on your preference. In addition, you'll enjoy the convenience of a beautiful new 5-bedroom home and 4X4."</p> <p>Applicants must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and be willing to train as a rural generalist.</p> <p>According to the <a title="Australian Institute of Health and Welfare" href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/rural-remote-australians/rural-and-remote-health" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Australian Institute of Health and Welfare</a>, people living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, deaths and injury compared to city-dwellers, while also having poorer access to primary health care services.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Yes, Australia’s big supermarkets have been price gouging. But fixing the problem won’t be easy

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bree-hurst-174985">Bree Hurst</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-richards-153226">Carol Richards</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hope-johnson-125018">Hope Johnson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rudolf-messner-1373038">Rudolf Messner</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>A much-awaited report into Coles and Woolworths has found what many customers have long believed – Australia’s big supermarkets engage in price gouging.</p> <p>What <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Supermarket_Prices/SupermarketPrices/Terms_of_Reference">started</a> as a simple Senate inquiry into grocery prices and supermarket power has delivered a lengthy 195-page-long <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Supermarket_Prices/SupermarketPrices/Supermarket_Prices">report</a> spanning supermarket pricing’s impact on customers, food waste, relationships with suppliers, employee wages and conditions, excessive profitability, company mergers and land banking.</p> <p>The report makes some major recommendations, including giving courts the power to break up anti-competitive businesses, and strengthening the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).</p> <p>It also recommends making the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct mandatory for supermarket chains. This code governs how they should deal with suppliers. The government’s recent <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2024-510813">Independent Review of the Food and Grocery Code</a> also recommended making it mandatory for the supermarket giants.</p> <p>But at this point it’s hard to say what, if anything, the recommendations will mean for everyday Australians and the prices they actually pay.</p> <h2>Price gouging isn’t illegal</h2> <p>At the heart of the Senate inquiry was the question of whether Australian supermarkets were price gouging. According to the committee, the answer is a “resounding yes”, despite the evidence presented by supermarkets to the contrary.</p> <p>Price gouging is when businesses exploit a lack of competition by setting prices well above cost price. But the practice is <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/pricing/setting-prices-whats-allowed">not explicitly illegal</a>.</p> <p>The committee put forward a number of recommendations that could help reduce price gouging. These include making it an offence to charge excess prices and establishing a new “Commission on Prices and Competition” to examine price setting practices in different sectors.</p> <p>The committee also wants the ACCC to be given enhanced powers to investigate and prosecute unfair trading practices, and to be better funded and resourced.</p> <p>The committee says supermarket claims that price gouging does not exist should mean the giants have nothing to fear under tougher legislation. However, it says:</p> <blockquote> <p>the evidence brought forward by people willing to speak out about the business practices of Coles and Woolworths suggests that maintaining margins and increasing margin growth is occurring at the expense of suppliers, consumers, and best business practices, and without proper justification.</p> </blockquote> <h2>It’s unlikely we’ll see relief anytime soon</h2> <p>Will these recommendations actually deliver any relief on prices? It’s hard to say at this point. The recommendations put forward are comprehensive, but they’re unlikely to result in any short-term change for consumers.</p> <p>At any rate, the Albanese government does not support many of them. In the report’s additional commentary, Labor senators argue that Australian competition law already addresses excessive pricing by prohibiting misleading and deceptive conduct. They also don’t support establishing a new commission to examine prices.</p> <p>Rather, the report calls for a dramatic overhaul of current regulatory settings, which it says are “not appropriate or fit for purpose”. This is not going to be an easy or fast process.</p> <h2>What does the report mean for the Greens’ divestiture bill?</h2> <p>While the inquiry was underway, the Greens <a href="https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;page=0;query=BillId%3As1413%20Recstruct%3Abillhome">introduced a bill</a> which would give courts “divestiture powers”. This means a corporation could be ordered to sell some of its assets to reduce its market power.</p> <p>While the bill lacks support from the major parties, the committee suggested that such divestiture powers should be introduced specifically for the supermarket sector. Where abuse of market power was able to be proven, supermarkets could be forced to sell certain stores.</p> <p>While Australia does not have divestiture powers in this context, some other countries do. In New Zealand, the UK and the US, courts can force corporations that are abusing their market power to sell components of their business. Such powers are very rarely used, but the deterrent they impose can be <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-time-to-give-australian-courts-the-power-to-break-up-big-firms-that-behave-badly-226726">highly influential</a> on corporate behaviour.</p> <p>Labor rejects creating any forms of divestiture power in the report’s additional commentary. But the Coalition isn’t entirely against the idea, noting that it “does not believe the committee has persuasively found that divestiture powers should not be pursued at all” and that “divestiture powers should be targeted to sectors of concern”.</p> <h2>What’s next?</h2> <p>At this stage, the report suggests there’s only one action all political parties agree on at this stage: making the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct mandatory and ensuring its full enforcement. We’re unlikely to see much unity on the other recommendations.</p> <p>In a scathing commentary, the Coalition argues the report represents “a missed opportunity to address some of the structural imbalances in our supermarket sector that are impacting Australia’s growers, farmers, small businesses, and ultimately consumers”.</p> <p>While this is a harsh assessment, the reality is that unless these structural imbalances in our food system are addressed, we’re unlikely to see meaningful change.</p> <p>The report draws on substantial evidence to paint a troubling picture of the food system in Australia – in particular, how growers and consumers are struggling. The task for regulators is working out what mechanisms can be used to address the imbalance of power in the market, in a way that doesn’t force growers or Australian consumers to bear the cost.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229602/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bree-hurst-174985">Bree Hurst</a>, Associate Professor, Faculty of Business and Law, QUT, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/carol-richards-153226">Carol Richards</a>, Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hope-johnson-125018">Hope Johnson</a>, ARC DECRA Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rudolf-messner-1373038">Rudolf Messner</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/queensland-university-of-technology-847">Queensland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/yes-australias-big-supermarkets-have-been-price-gouging-but-fixing-the-problem-wont-be-easy-229602">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Sydney Airport launches massive auction of lost property

<p>Have you ever lost something at the airport? </p> <p>You're not alone.</p> <p>This year there were more than 2,500 unclaimed items left at the airport including electronics, jewellery and designer handbags, and now they are up for grabs for a fraction of their retail price. </p> <p>The airport has launched their annual online auction, with all the money raised going to the Harding Miller Education Foundation, which grants four-year scholarships to high-school girls with high academic potential who are experiencing disadvantage. </p> <p>Over the past decade, the auctions have raised $1.6 million for various charities. </p> <p>“It’s clear the public love nabbing a bargain in support of a worthy cause," Sydney Airport general manager of corporate affairs Josh Clements said. </p> <p>“There’s something for everyone with plenty of great tech, clothing, accessories and beauty products as well as a host of unique items like a massage table, an electric scooter, a leaf blower and a quintessential Aussie favourite, a jaffle maker (sandwich press),” he added. </p> <p>“It’s great to see these unclaimed items find new homes, while also supporting a charity that’s offering comprehensive scholarships to help level the playing field for high school girls facing disadvantage.”</p> <p>“Opening bids start at just $10, which means shoppers have a chance to grab a great deal while also supporting an impactful charity,” Theodore Bruce Auctioneers director, Casi Prischl, said.</p> <p>The auction runs until Sunday May 12, with the <a href="https://www.theodorebruceauctions.com.au/sydney-airport-lost-property-auction-2024a" target="_blank" rel="noopener">complete list of auctions currently open for bids below</a>: </p> <ul> <li>Tech & Gaming - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Sunglasses, Bags, Scarves & Accessories - Saturday 4 May to Saturday 11 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Jewellery & Watches - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 10am</li> <li>Clothing - Saturday to May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 2pm</li> <li>Beauty, Alcohol, Home - Saturday 4 May to Sunday 12 May, closing at 4pm</li> </ul> <p>Goods can be delivered at a price, or picked up by appointment. </p> <p><em>Images: Theodore Bruce Auctions</em></p>

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Kochie's thoughtful act for scam victim

<p>David Koch has given back to a hard-working Aussie who lost her life savings to a convincing scam. </p> <p>For many years, scammers have been using the likeness of Australian celebrities to con people out of their money. </p> <p>Kochie is just one of many high-profile personalities who have had their identities used to run convincing scams, that thousands of people have fallen victim to. </p> <p>The former <em>Sunrise</em> host has often taken to social media to warn people of the illegitimate ads, but it hasn't been enough to stop the scammers in their tracks. </p> <p>In a special <em>7News Spotlight</em> investigation, Kochie joined the team to lift the lid on the multi-billion-dollar scam industry in which fake advertisements featuring well-known celebrities have been used to con more than 600,000 Aussies.</p> <p>“It’s devastating because it’s my reputation on the line,” says Koch.</p> <p>“And these scams are so good, they’re so believable that people who trust me look at me and say, ‘Wow, I’m getting some comfort out of what this bloke is saying,’ and then are ripped off by some scammer from overseas.”</p> <p>Koch is desperately trying to stop this criminal act, saying, “I’ve reported it to the ACCC and ASIC. I’m part of an ACCC case against Meta at the moment surrounding these scam ads.”</p> <p>As part of the investigation, Kochie met Allison, who lost $250,000 when she invested her money in what she thought was a reputable company, fronted by who she believed to be the former <em>Sunrise</em> host.</p> <p>As an avid Port Adelaide supporter, she trusts Koch, who is also the Chairman of the football club.</p> <p>“Port Adelaide members are all part of a big family,” says Koch. “And the fact that these scammers use my association with the club to prey on members is just abhorrent.”</p> <p>After losing her savings, Allison has been struggling to make ends meet, and is on a payment plan so she can stay as a member of the AFL club she loves.</p> <p>After learning of her story, Koch himself has stepped in and ensured she has lifelong membership.</p> <p>“It’s the least we can do,” says Koch to Allison. “Because, football has got to be your haven.”</p> <p>Allison is just one of the many victims of complex scams in Australia, with reporter Sarah Greenhalgh believes millions of dollars have been illegally stolen.</p> <p>“The scammers successfully prey on these people’s unique vulnerabilities and the victims’ lives have changed forever as a result,” she says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: 7News Spotlight</em></p>

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Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228901/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Becoming a landlord while still renting? ‘Rentvesting’ promises a foot on the property ladder, but watch your step

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-graham-1264059">James Graham</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>As home ownership moves further out of reach for many Australians, “rentvesting” is being touted as a lifesaver.</p> <p>Rentvesting is the practice of renting one property to live in yourself, while simultaneously purchasing an investment property somewhere cheaper and leasing it out.</p> <p>Ideally, “rentvestors” get to enjoy the capital gains on an investment property while living where they actually want to live, allowing them to cash in and upsize to their dream home later.</p> <p>It might seem like a savvy way to game the property market. But what are the risks of such an investment strategy? And how might broad adoption of this behaviour affect housing affordability in Australia?</p> <h2>A rising tide lifts all boats differently</h2> <p>The aim of the rentvesting game is to buy cheap property now, ride the expected capital gains, and move into a more desirable home down the track. The hope is that by climbing the first rung of the property ladder early, the whole thing won’t be pulled up out of reach.</p> <p>The first problem with this strategy, however, is that capital gains on housing are not always and everywhere equal.</p> <p>Generally, the cheapest properties available to rentvestors will be houses in the regions or apartments in the city. But both regional housing and apartment properties <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/house-apartment-price-gap-widens-record-high-property-market/103484076">tend to appreciate more slowly</a> than the inner-city houses rentvestors might hope to live in one day. They might get a foot on the property ladder, but the rungs themselves are slowly drifting apart.</p> <p>Would-be rentvestors should also be aware that investments by “out-of-town” buyers tend to generate <a href="https://academic.oup.com/rfs/article-abstract/29/2/486/1902789">much lower returns</a> – both capital gains and rental yields – than investments by locals. Out-of-towners don’t know the local market trends, don’t know which neighbourhoods to avoid, and aren’t able to monitor their investments as effectively from afar.</p> <p>Avoiding the regions by investing in city apartments presents its own difficulties. Large, unexpected maintenance bills and poor strata management are <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-03-21/a-world-of-hidden-charges:-strata-company-insiders/103617944">common complaints</a>.</p> <h2>Different costs lead to different returns</h2> <p>Perhaps the potential rentvestor should invest in something more straightforward instead, like stocks. After all, the return on equities in Australia has <a href="https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/134/3/1225/5435538">outperformed housing</a> in recent decades.</p> <p>However, it is much easier to borrow to invest in property than it is to borrow to invest in the stock market. And leverage is the investor’s secret weapon. For example, if house prices were to appreciate at 10% per year, then using a mortgage and a A$100,000 deposit on a $1 million property would earn you a 100% return on equity before costs.</p> <p>But while both investors and homeowners would earn that same basic return, their costs could be very different. For starters, property investors face capital gains tax on the proceeds of property sales, <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/investments-and-assets/capital-gains-tax/property-and-capital-gains-tax/your-main-residence-home/eligibility-for-main-residence-exemption">unlike those selling their primary residence</a>. Banks also typically charge <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/chart-pack/interest-rates.html">higher interest rates</a> on mortgages to investors than to homeowners.</p> <p>At times, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has also imposed caps on bank lending against investment properties, making it more difficult to find mortgage financing in the first place.</p> <p>Highly leveraged properties require mortgage insurance, too. Investors may need to take out larger insurance policies against the properties themselves, reflecting the higher risks associated with investment properties. Then, you also have to throw in property management fees, council rates, strata management fees and regular and unexpected maintenance costs.</p> <h2>Negative gearing offers little benefit</h2> <p>What about negative gearing? Property investors that generate losses on their property can deduct these costs against the tax bill on their other income.</p> <p>But negative gearing disproportionately benefits high-income earners with large tax bills. The <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/earnings-and-working-conditions/personal-income-australia/latest-release">median Australian individual income</a> is around $55,00, which generates a tax bill of about $8,000 – not a lot from which investment property losses can be deducted.</p> <p>The bigger picture is that while negative gearing helps defray the regular costs of managing a property, it doesn’t do anything to change expected capital gains.</p> <p>At the end of the spreadsheet tally, an investment property could end up earning rentvestors significantly less than they could have gained by simply buying their first home.</p> <h2>Effects on housing affordability</h2> <p>Rentvesting is new enough that its prevalence and influence awaits formal academic study. But economists might speculate about its implications for the housing market more broadly.</p> <p>The simplest analysis suggests that a rentvestor occupies one rental property while supplying an additional rental property to the market. If, instead, they had bought a home, they would vacate a rental property while removing another property from the market. In this case, even rentvesting en masse would have zero net effect on the housing market.</p> <p>But a more nuanced perspective might consider where rentvestors are renting and where they are investing. Perhaps they are most likely to rent properties in the already-crowded inner city, but purchase investment properties in regional areas where other first home buyers would like to live.</p> <p>This would increase demand for rentals in the city and reduce the supply of owner-occupier properties in the regions, worsening the affordability of both.</p> <p>Of course, if these rentvestors all eventually move up the property ladder – selling in the region and purchasing in the city – this effect would be reversed. From that longer-term perspective, rentvestors would ultimately have little effect.</p> <h2>We still need more houses</h2> <p>Rentvesting is not a panacea for Australia’s housing market woes. Potential investors should weigh the benefits of property investment against its substantial costs and risks. Additionally, they need to carefully consider the obvious alternative: simply buying their first home up-front.</p> <p>We have good reason to be wary of yet another get-rich-quick scheme involving the housing market. But initial considerations suggest that for the market overall, rentvestor behaviour is no worse than someone simply buying their first home, which we would otherwise encourage.</p> <p>Rather than criticising those seeking a way though our housing market morass, we might instead redouble our efforts to increase the supply of housing.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229116/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/james-graham-1264059">James Graham</a>, Lecturer in Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/becoming-a-landlord-while-still-renting-rentvesting-promises-a-foot-on-the-property-ladder-but-watch-your-step-229116">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Australians lose $5,200 a minute to scammers. There’s a simple thing the government could do to reduce this. Why won’t they?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/peter-martin-682709">Peter Martin</a>, <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></p> <p>What if the government was doing everything it could to stop thieves making off with our money, except the one thing that could really work?</p> <p>That’s how it looks when it comes to <a href="https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams">scams</a>, which are attempts to trick us out of our funds, usually by getting us to hand over our identities or bank details or transfer funds.</p> <p>Last year we lost an astonishing <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/scam-losses-decline-but-more-work-to-do-as-australians-lose-27-billion">A$2.74 billion</a> to scammers. That’s more than $5,200 per minute – and that’s only the scams we know about from the 601,000 Australians who made reports. Many more would have kept quiet.</p> <p>If the theft of $5,200 per minute seems over the odds for a country Australia’s size, a comparison with the United Kingdom suggests you are right. In 2022, people in the UK lost <a href="https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/system/files/2023-05/Annual%20Fraud%20Report%202023_0.pdf">£2,300</a> per minute, which is about A$4,400. The UK has two and a half times Australia’s population.</p> <p>It’s as if international scammers, using SMS, phone calls, fake invoices and fake web addresses are targeting Australia, because in other places it’s harder.</p> <p>If we want to cut Australians’ losses, it’s time to look at rules about to come into force in the UK.</p> <h2>Scams up 320% since 2020</h2> <p>The current federal government is doing a lot – <em>almost</em> everything it could. Within a year of taking office, it set up the <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/national-anti-scam-centre">National Anti-Scam Centre</a>, which coordinates intelligence. Just this week, the centre reported that figure of $2.74 billion, which is down 13% on 2022, but up 50% on 2021 and 320% on 2020.</p> <p>It’s planning “<a href="https://treasury.gov.au/consultation/c2023-464732">mandatory industry codes</a>” for banks, telecommunication providers and digital platforms.</p> <p>But the code it is proposing for banks, set out in a <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">consultation paper</a> late last year, is weak when compared to overseas.</p> <h2>Banks are the gatekeepers</h2> <p>Banks matter, because they are nearly always the means by which the money is transferred. Cryptocurrency is now much less used after the banks agreed to limit payments to high risk exchanges.</p> <p>Here’s an example of the role played by banks. A woman the Consumer Action Law Centre is calling <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Joint-submission-CALC-CHOICE-ACCAN-31012024-Scams-Mandatory-code-treasury-consultA.pdf">Amelia</a> tried to sell a breast pump on Gumtree.</p> <p>The buyer asked for her bank card number and a one-time PIN and used the code to whisk out $9,100, which was sent overseas. The bank wouldn’t help because she had provided the one-time PIN.</p> <p>Here’s another. A woman the Competition and Consumer Commission is calling <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Targeting%20scams%202022.pdf">Niamh</a> was contacted by someone using the National Australia Bank’s SMS ID. Niamh was told her account was compromised and talked through how to transfer $300,000 to a “secure” account.</p> <p>After she had done it, the scammer told her it was a scam, laughed and said “we are in Brisbane, come find me”.</p> <h2>How bank rules protect scammers</h2> <p>And one more example. Former University of Melbourne academic <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377766055_Scams_Blaming_the_Victims">Kim Sawyer</a> (that’s his real name, he is prepared to go public) clicked on an ad for “St George Capital” displaying the dragon logo of St. George Bank.</p> <p>He was called back by a man using the name of a real St. George employee, who persuaded him to transfer funds from accounts at the AMP, Citibank and Macquarie to accounts he was told would be in his and his wife’s name at Westpac, ANZ, the Commonwealth and Bendigo Banks.</p> <p>They lost <a href="https://www.afr.com/wealth/personal-finance/i-lost-2-5m-of-my-super-to-scammers-20240423-p5flzp">$2.5 million</a>. Sawyer says none of the banks – those that sent the funds or those that received them – would help him. Some cited “<a href="https://www.choice.com.au/money/financial-planning-and-investing/stock-market-investing/articles/st-george-capital-investment-scam">privacy</a>” reasons.</p> <p>The Consumer Action Law Centre says the banks that transfer the scammed funds routinely tell their customers “it’s nothing to do with us, you transferred the money, we can’t help you”. The banks receiving the funds routinely say “you’re not our customer, we can’t help you”.</p> <p>That’s here. Not in the UK.</p> <h2>UK bank customers get a better deal</h2> <p>In Australia in 2022, only <a href="https://download.asic.gov.au/media/mbhoz0pc/rep761-published-20-april-2023.pdf">13%</a> of attempted scam payments were stopped by banks before they took place. Once scammed, only 2% to 5% of losses (depending on the bank) were reimbursed or compensated.</p> <p>In <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/information-for-consumers/app-fraud-performance-data/">the UK</a>, the top four banks pay out 49% to 73%.</p> <p>And they are about to pay out much more. From October 2024, reimbursement will be compulsory. Where authorised fast payments are made “because of deception by fraudsters”, the banks will have to reimburse <a href="https://www.thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/investigation-fraud-and-risk/app-fraud-uk">the lot</a>.</p> <p>Normally the bills will be split <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/news-and-updates/latest-news/news/psr-confirms-new-requirements-for-app-fraud-reimbursement/">50:50</a> between the bank transferring the funds and the bank receiving them. Unless there’s a need for further investigations, the payments must be made within five days.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.psr.org.uk/media/as3a0xan/sr1-consumer-standard-of-caution-guidance-dec-2023.pdf">only exceptions</a> are where the consumer seeking reimbursement has acted fraudulently or with gross negligence.</p> <p>The idea behind the change – pushed through by the Conservative government now led by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – is that if scams are the banks’ problem, if they are costing them millions at a time, they’ll stop them.</p> <p><a href="https://www.thepost.co.nz/business/350197309/banks-given-fraud-ultimatum">New Zealand</a> is looking at doing the same thing, <a href="https://www.biocatch.com/blog/mas-shared-responsibility-fraud-losses">as is Singapore</a>.</p> <p>But here, the treasury’s discussion paper on its mandatory codes mentions reimbursement <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-11/c2023-464732-cp.pdf">only once</a>. That’s when it talks about what’s happening in the UK. Neither treasury nor the relevant federal minister is proposing it here.</p> <h2>Australia’s approach is softer</h2> <p>Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones is in charge of Australia’s rules.</p> <p>Asked why he wasn’t pushing for compulsory reimbursement here, Jones said on Monday <a href="https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/stephen-jones-2022/transcripts/interview-mark-gibson-abc-perth">prevention was better</a>.</p> <blockquote> <p>I think a simplistic approach of just saying, ‘Oh, well, if any loss, if anyone incurs a loss, then the bank always pay’, won’t work. It’ll just make Australia a honeypot for these international crime gangs, because they’ll say, well, ‘Let’s, you know, focus all of our activity on Australia because it’s a victimless crime if banks always pay’.</p> </blockquote> <p>Telling banks to pay would certainly focus the minds of the banks, in the way they are about to be focused in the UK.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.ausbanking.org.au/submissions/">Australian Banking Association</a> hasn’t published its submission to the treasury review, but the <a href="https://consumeraction.org.au/scams-mandatory-industry-codes-consultation-paper/">Consumer Action Law Centre</a> has.</p> <p>It says if banks had to reimburse money lost, they’d have more of a reason to keep it safe.</p> <p>In the UK, they are about to find out. If Jones is right, it might be about to become a honeypot for scammers. If he is wrong, his government will leave Australia even further behind when it comes to scams – leaving us thousands more dollars behind per day.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228867/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><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></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australians-lose-5-200-a-minute-to-scammers-theres-a-simple-thing-the-government-could-do-to-reduce-this-why-wont-they-228867">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Battling to make ends meet? Financial planning expert offers 5 tips on how to build your budget

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p>Every day seems to bring new headlines about rising costs. <a href="https://www.news24.com/news24/africa/news/nigerias-big-unions-call-indefinite-strike-over-fuel-prices-and-the-cost-of-living-20230926">In Nigeria</a>, unions are threatening to strike amid soaring fuel prices; the country’s inflation rate <a href="https://www.cbn.gov.ng/rates/inflrates.asp">hit 25%</a> in August. The amount it costs to fill a food basket in South Africa <a href="https://pmbejd.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/PMBEJD_Key-Data_September-2023_27092023.pdf">keeps climbing</a>. Ghanaians <a href="https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/multi-day-protests-over-economic-crisis-grip-ghanas-capital-2023-09-23/">took to the streets</a> of Accra in late September to protest about the cost of living.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/retail-distribution/consumer-behavior-trends-state-of-the-consumer-tracker.html">recent study by the audit and consulting firm Deloitte</a> found that 75% of South Africans were concerned that the prices for everyday purchases would continue to increase, while 80% of consumers across all income groups expected the prices of groceries, household utilities and fuel to rise.</p> <p>This stark reality means budgeting may be more necessary than ever.</p> <p>If you don’t know how to create a budget, then you shouldn’t feel bad – most adults aren’t taught how to create one. And most people don’t budget, because they see it as restrictive or unsustainable. But it need not be: once you appreciate that a budget can work for you, it can be a financially empowering exercise. It’s a cornerstone of financial planning because it ensures you are living within your means and helps you remain in financial control.</p> <p>As a financial planning academic, I focus in <a href="https://researchprofiles.canberra.edu.au/en/persons/bomikazi-zeka/publications/">my research</a> on improving financial wellbeing and promoting savings behaviours through interventions such as budgeting. Here are five guidelines for creating a budget.</p> <h2>1. Apps vs spreadsheet</h2> <p>A good place to start is to choose the format of how you’re going to budget. There are several <a href="https://www.sanlamreality.co.za/wealth-sense/setting-up-a-family-budget-that-works/">online templates</a> and apps you can use for budgeting. For instance, <a href="https://www.22seven.com/">22Seven</a> has gained popularity in South Africa due to its compatibility with several financial institutions, including the country’s big five banks. Similarly, <a href="https://www.the-star.co.ke/business/kenya/2021-01-25-budgeting-using-mint-app/">Mint</a> is a popular budgeting tool that is used in Kenya and Nigeria.</p> <p>If you prefer to put pen to paper, some online templates come with <a href="https://www.wonga.co.za/blog/free-budget-template">free printable budgets</a>. Creating your own <a href="https://create.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/articles/how-to-make-excel-budget">Excel spreadsheet</a> is an equally good approach.</p> <p>What matters most is using a tool that you can commit to.</p> <h2>2. Itemising your income and expenses</h2> <p>A budget essentially shows how much you’re spending in relation to how much you’re earning. So once you have selected your budgeting tool, you need to fill in your income and itemise how much you’re spending on each expense in a month. A budget can be considered a cashflow statement because it allows you to track money coming in (income) and money going out (expenses).</p> <p>If you are living within your means, your budget should indicate a surplus – more cash inflows than cash outflows. So budgeting provides an accurate account of your short-term financial position.</p> <h2>3. A realistic account of expenses</h2> <p>When you look at your financial statements, fill your expenses into your budget honestly and accurately. Don’t cheat! Since everyone’s financial situation is different, your budget will also be unique.</p> <p>Even though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to budgeting, it should still consider all of your expenses (both regular and intermittent). A general rule of thumb is that if it’s deducted from your account then you should treat it as an expense. This includes payments for housing, medical insurance, fuel, dining out, credit card repayments and even bank fees.</p> <h2>4. Save first, spend later</h2> <p>Now you’ve seen how much you’re spending. Either it’s too much – and you can plan where to cut back – or you have savings at the end of the month.</p> <p>When compiling your budget it’s important to demarcate how much will be in the form of savings. What’s more important is getting into the habit of saving before you spend instead of saving after spending. If you spend first then you’ve deprived yourself of the opportunity to save for a rainy day.</p> <p>Furthermore, <a href="https://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/10231/1/Microsoft_Word_-_submitted_version_3rd_June_201.pdf">research</a> has shown that getting into the habit of saving has a transgenerational effect: it can be considered a cultural value that is passed on from one generation to another. So think of saving as paying yourself first. Once you have done so, you won’t feel guilty for treating yourself because you’ve already done the financially responsible thing by putting your savings aside.</p> <h2>5. Considering assets and liabilities</h2> <p>Once you’ve become comfortable with consistently budgeting, you can take it up a notch by including your assets (everything you own with an economic value) and liabilities (everything you owe) to determine your overall financial position.</p> <p>You can get a clearer picture of your overall financial wellbeing by compiling a list of all your assets, for example your savings and <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/home_equity.asp">home equity</a>, in relation to liabilities (such as bank loans). Knowing your long-term financial position can indicate how financially resilient or vulnerable you are. In the event of a financial emergency, you will know which resources you can draw upon to meet an unexpected expense.</p> <p>By creating a budget (and sticking to it), you can protect yourself and your household from financial shocks. Consider the alternative. Imagine you haven’t budgeted and set savings aside. If a financial emergency were to arise, your next best bet would be to borrow the funds you need. You’d have to come up with a plan to repay what you’d borrowed while also building your savings.</p> <h2>A healthy habit</h2> <p>Getting into the habit of budgeting isn’t easy, especially if you haven’t done it before or you’re intimidated by the process. But, as the expression goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Think of budgeting as taking a small but important step towards reclaiming control over your finances and improving your financial well-being.<!-- 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;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214861/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: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/bomikazi-zeka-680577">Bomikazi Zeka</a>, Assistant Professor in Finance and Financial Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/battling-to-make-ends-meet-financial-planning-expert-offers-5-tips-on-how-to-build-your-budget-214861">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Cancer survivor slapped with $15,000 water bill

<p>An Aussie man has been slapped with a $15,645.86 water bill after the <span style="font-family: Inter, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; letter-spacing: -0.16px; background-color: #ffffff;">Goulburn Mulwaree Council </span>claimed he had used more than 35,000 litres a day over 104 days. </p> <p>Anthony, who lives on his own in the Southern Tablelands, said that his bill is normally around $290 and that he uses about 130 litres of water a day, the average amount a person would use according to Sydney Water. </p> <p>"A 15-and-a-half thousand dollar water bill, they can go and get themselves nicked," he told <em>A Current Affair</em>. </p> <p>"I'm not paying it, no way in the world."</p> <p>The local mechanic is a cancer survivor, but the disease has made it difficult for him to communicate, so he went to a council meeting with his father, Neil, who talked on his behalf. </p> <p>"I couldn't believe it when he showed me the bill," Neil said. </p> <p>"Currently now, we're at this point in stage where we can't get any reasonable common sense from the council.</p> <p>"I said, 'It's got to be the crook meter', and she said, 'We've had a lot of meters tested and they've all come back positive. </p> <p>"And I said, 'What about this meter?' and she said, 'It'll cost you $50 to have it tested but there'll be nothing wrong with it'."</p> <p>Anthony is accused of using more than 3.6million litres of water,  which is equivalent to filling two Olympic sized swimming pools - or having five taps running all-day. </p> <p>He has received multiple emails from the local council asking him to prove his claim. </p> <p>The local mechanic also said that he received an overdue bill notice ordering him to pay it immediately. </p> <p>"I got an email saying I can have a payment plan and all the rest of it... like, get real," he said. </p> <p>"I'm not going to pay it."</p> <p>Anthony uses his own water tank to water his lawn, fill his fishpond and wash his car, and only uses town waters to wash up and shower. </p> <p>He has been asked to prepare a detailed letter of his water usage, which will be presented at a council meeting later this month.</p> <p><em>Image: Nine</em></p> <p> </p>

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