Citizenship Audit for All Members of the Parliament should be done 

Sydney, 4 Nov, 2017 

Initially, it was “Citizenship Seven”, about which the High Court of Australia gave its verdict on Friday, 27 October, 2917. 


Section 44 of Australian Constitution debars  dual-citizens from becoming members of Australian Parliament (The Senate and the House of Representatives).

Barnaby Joyce (The National Party member and Deputy Prime Minister), Fiona Nash (The National), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Larissa Waters (The Greens) and Scott Ludlam (The Greens) were declared ineligible to sit in the Parliament. Matt Canavan (the Liberal National Party) and Nick Xenophon (The Nick Xenophon Team) were declared eligible to be in the Parliament. Even before the judgment, The Green senators had already resigned and Nick Xenophon had declared his intention to quit the Senate to focus in South Australian politics. 

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-27/how-did-the-high-court-rule-on-each-of-the-citizenship-cases/9094676

Subsequently, Stephen Parry (President of the Senate) declared himself to be a dual-citizen and resigned from the Senate. 

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-01/stephen-parry-confirms-he-is-a-british-citizen/9106558?pfmredir=sm

Now, there is a controversy about Josh Frydenberg (a senior Ministet in the Coalition Government) whether he is a dual-citizen too.

http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/government-minister-josh-frydenberg-may-be-dual-citizen-of-australia-and-hungary/news-story/99ac66dd1269dcf91e8cb60db2361ab5

There is some confusion and speculation whether there are more dual citizens, hence ineligible members, in the Parliament. 

This uncertainty needs to be dealt with. The Government and the Parliament must be freed from the uncertainty about what decision involving ineligible members might later be challenged. The focus must be in the respective jobs, not on dual citizenship. The distraction must end. 

People must have the confidence that laws passed by the Parliament are indeed passed by only those who are legally entitled to be in the Parliament. 

The best strategy here will be to do an audit of citizenship status of every member of the Parliament. A committee of reputed jurists, chaired by a retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, should be tasked to do the job in 2 months. 

With many members of the Parliament demanding it and with Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten coming around with his support for this audit, it’s time that Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, agreed with the citizenship Audit for all MPs and Senators. 

Dr Yadu Singh

http://www.facebook.com/DoctorYaduSingh

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh 

Highlights of Federal Budget 2016 and my comments

Sydney, NSW

4th May, 2016

Scott Morrison

Federal treasurer, Scott Morrison, presented his maiden budget in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 3rd May, 2016.

Here are the key points of this budget.

Superannuation:

  • Lifetime cap of $500,000 for non-concessional contributions (NCC) made on/after 1/7/2007
  • Lifetime Cap will not be affected if there was already more than 500,000 NCC prior to 7.30 PM, 3/5/16.
  • This new NCC cap will replace previous contributions cap of up to $180,000/year (or $540,000 every three years for those who are less than 65 years age.
  • Catch up concessional contributions allowed if total superannuation balance is less than $500,000, and if they did not reach concessional contributions cap in previous years.
  • From 1/7/17, no tax exemption on earnings od assets supporting Transfer to Retirement Income Streams (TRIS). Such earnings will be taxed at 15%.
  • Currently, Superannuation account balance of any amount is tax free when it is in Pension phase. This will change. Only $1.6 million of this money into Pension phase will be tax free and money in excess of $1.6 million will be deemed to be in accumulation phase of superannuation and their earnings will be taxed at 15%.
  • Concessional contributions cap will be $25000 from 1/7/207. Until then, it will remain unchanged at $30000 for aged less than 50 years and $35000 for those who are older than 50 years.
  • Some restrictions to be removed for voluntary or NCC contributions for people aged 65-74 years.
  • Threshold for high Income earners who are required to pay 15% tax on contributions  will be reduced to $250,000 from $300,000 from 1/7/17.
  • Lump sum payments (up to $195,000 currently) during pension phase will be removed.
  • Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset for those with taxable income of up to 37,000, with a cap of $500.

Medicare Levy low Income thresholds for 2015-16 increased slightly for indivisuals and families.

Personal Income Tax rates:

  • 32.5% income tax threshold increased from $80,000 to $87,000. This will benefit about 500,000 taxpayers.

Increased Small Business Income Tax Offset (SBITO):

  • It will be increased to 8% from current 5%. This is available to individuals in receipt of income from an unincorporated small business of less than $2 million turnover.
  • 8% will be applicable for 8 years.

Company Tax rate:

  • By 1/7/26, it will be 25%.
  • It will be reduced to 27.5% from 1/7/16 for companies with less than $10 million turnover/year.
  • Turnover threshold for 27.5% company tax will increase every year. It will be $25 million for year 2017-18 and $50 million for 2018-19.
  • Turnover threshold keeps increasing as years pass by.

Small Business Entity (SBE) threshold increased:

  • Threshold turnover increased to $10 million from current $2 million.
  • Immediate deduction for assets purchased for less than $20,000 per item until 30/6/17.

Tax Avoidance Taskforce:

  • $678.9 millions provided to ATO to ensure compliance activities targeting multinationals, large public and private groups and high wealth individuals.
  • 40% Diverted Tax penalty for multinational corporations that attempt to shift their Australian profits offshore.

Investment on Science, innovation and research:

  • investing $9.7 billion in innovation, science and research to support Australia’s transition to a modern 21st century economy

Youth employment package:

  • $840 million in an innovative Youth Employment Package to help up to 120,000 young people over four years secure jobs.

GST on imported goods:

  • GST will be imposed to low value imported goods from 1/7/17.
  • Overseas suppliers with Australian sales of $75,000 or more will need to register for, collect and remit the GST.

Better protection of Tax whistle-blowers from 1/7/18.

No change in Negative gearing and Capital Gain Tax (CGT)

No change in work related expenses provisions

Cigarettes to become more expensive with higher excise duty (12.5% increase/year for 4 years).

Freeze on indexation on Medicare benefits for next 2 years:

  • it does not make any sense because everything which is required for medical/health servicing is becoming more expensive, but fees for such services are frozen. It is unfair.

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My comments:

  1. Considering the circumstances and proximity to election on 2/7/16, it is overall a safe and non-controversial, and overall a GOOD budget.
  2. Changes made in superannuation have impacted severely for some people, who are in the high wealth individuals category. This is the outcome of populism and with the purpose to counter scare campaign by the Opposition. These individuals (top 4% of Australians) are significant contributors to the economy, investment and businesses which create employment. These changes are quite drastic, and it would have been better to not bring such drastic changes (at least the magnitude and extent) affecting these individuals.
  3.  With substantial changes in superannuation and no changes in negative gearing and CGT, there is a risk that such high wealth individuals will divert their investment into real estate, with the potential outcome of higher prices. This may create obstacles for the entry of new home owners into the residential market.
  4. Reduction of concessional contributions to $25,000 is a wrong idea because our aim is to encourage Australians to save money for retirement. It should have instead been increased to  $50,000, which was the case a few years ago before Wayne Swan reduced it.
  5. Life time cap on NCC of $500,000 is not enough. It should have been at least $1 million.
  6. Companies are business and investment entities, used by most of the participants in the economic activities. This includes small business entities. They need to be supported more vigorously. Small businesses are a significant contributor of employment and business activities in Australia. Company tax reduction to 25% should have been done at a faster rate to accelerate business activities and job creation, and to make Australia an attractive place for investment from everywhere including overseas.
  7. My view is that the small business entities should be only those which have turnover of less than $2 million (Max $5 million), not $500 million or $1 billion.
  8. It appears that some people consider high earners as a punching bag. They forget that these are the very people who contribute in the economic activities of the nation significantly, creating jobs and paying taxes to be used for welfare, roads, education and hospitals. High earners need to be encouraged and supported, not used as a punching bag and disincentivized. Labor and Greens tend to do this all the times, but it appears that the Coalition is also now inclined that way to avoid the scare campaign by the opposition.
  9. Recognising that elections are happening on 2/7/16 and Government had to tread carefully for the sake of its own election, I can see why this budget is the way it is. It is a minimalist budget, except for superannuation changes, and reduces the chance of scare campaign against it like what happened after 2014 Budget.
  10. With mining boom truly over, Australia obviously needs to adapt to new realities and Australians will need to live within their means. Entitlement mentality will need to go. We have to accept that money does not grow on trees. Australia will need to face up the challenges to raise money for the funding of schools, hospitals and education. I support the commentary and proposal by Mike Baird, NSW Premier, in regards to hiking GST to raise money for the funding of essential services and to reduce budget deficits. The Government and the Opposition will need to discuss and come to a bipartisan agreement about our economy so that funding for services can be assured and quality of life of Australians can be guaranteed for years to come.

I have taken many points from a report published by NTAA (National Tax & Accountants’ Association newsletter sent out to their members, dated 3/5/16. I received a copy of this report from my accountant. NTAA is gratefully thanked and acknowledged.


We will hear the Budget reply and economic policies from the Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten, on Thursday,  5th May, 2016.

*I am not a financial professional. This Post should not be taken as an advice. Please consult your accountant for any matter which might have relevance to you and your circumstances.

Dr Yadu Singh

http://www.twitter.com/dryadusingh

http://www.facebook.com/dryadusingh

Indian Australian community in western Sydney and its importance in electoral politics

Sydney/18th March, 2016

Next federal election for Australian Commonwealth Parliament will be held later this year. If the Turnbull Government goes for the double dissolution of the Parliament, then this election may happen as early as July. If not, then they will happen in September-October. Opinion polls are indicating a tough contest between Bill Shorten-led Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Malcolm Turnbull-led Coalition of Liberal Party & National Party. Significant lift in the numbers for the Coalition in the opinion polls after Malcolm Turnbull became the Prime Minister has largely drifted away from the Coalition. There are multiple reasons for it and these reasons are well known. Honeymoon period for the new Prime Minister is well and truly over. Lack of policy clarifications and policy direction are also relevant. Western suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney have many seats which are classed as marginal, where a small change of voting can deliver these seats to either party. If ALP wins many of these seats, Bill Shorten will become the Prime Minister. The Coalition will need to hold on to many of these seats if they want to form the next Government. They definitely have a tight contest.

People in the Western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, like similar areas in other cities, are doing tough, with higher unemployment, cost of living pressure and poverty. These factors often lead to higher level of dissatisfaction and willingness to change the voting pattern. Their votes are up for the grab.

Newer migrants and people who can’t afford to buy expensive houses in Northern and Eastern Sydney, find Western Sydney as a place where they can find houses within their reach. In regards to Indian Australians in NSW, it is well known that this community has a significant presence in Western Sydney. Suburbs like Parramatta and Blacktown have a large number of Indian Australian families. “Singh” was the most common surname in Blacktown a few years ago. Strathfield and some area in South West Sydney in/around Liverpool also have a significant Indian Australian presence.

No party can ignore this community anymore. This fact is now well known and is evident from the efforts by both major parties to work with our community over the last 5 years. ALP had formed a group from our community in 2010, calling it Subcontinent Friends of Labor (SCFOL) and Liberals networked with this community, forming Liberal friends of India (LFI) around 2011-12. Both parties, when in government, have worked to develop better relations with India. While Prime Minister, John Howard (the Coalition) was the one who decided to sell Uranium to India in 2007, it was Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP) who managed to reverse ALP’s opposition to Uranium sale to India in 2012, despite India’s refusal to sign Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Both parties have made active efforts to network with Indian Australians too. It is an undeniable fact that none of the major parties can ignore Indian Australians in Western Sydney  if they want to win these seats.

With my interactions with Indian Australians, it is clear to me that reaching out by political parties plays a significant role during elections, even though the issues in NSW are not different for us when compared with those for the general community. Our voting behaviour should generally be similar to the general community, but networking by political parties and outreach by their apparatus and operatives can play an important role.  Having said that, I think it would be prudent to make a comment or two here about the efforts by political parties to develop better relations with our community.

ALP started the process of active networking with our community by forming SCFOL Unfortunately, the group was led, and continues to be led, poorly. They controlled and continue to control, some of the community associations, which, unsurprisingly, damaged these associations. Nobody listens to these community associations today and these associations are irrelevant for our community. SCFOL was not inclusive and left out many prominent ALP members from our community, as a manifestation of Right Vs Left factional politics. Its first president did not appear to have a good understanding of Indian community. He came from a Union background and ran a smear campaign against many people just because he did not like them, had disagreement with them or those people did not agree with his style and brand of politics. Division, not inclusion, was his “Mantra” to serve his factional interests. It is beyond me why a group of Indian ALP members will run a vicious campaign against one of the Indian sub-continental persons (Susai Benjamin) from the same party. Obviously, it was an outcome of Right Vs Left ALP factional politics. Treachery and disloyalty are generally a part and parcel of political parties. I was not surprised therefore to know that the founder president was removed recently, and quite acrimoniously, leading to hostility and animosity between key members of the group. The new president of SCFOL, in my view, does not have the necessary ability or capacity to lead effectively. He is a light weight figure, when compared to former SCFOL president, as far as ALP connections are concerned. No surprise to see that the new president and few other equally ineffective leaders of SCFOL did not get any importance during Bill Shorten’s recent visit to Revesby Gurdwara, while the ex-president had the ears and eyes of the federal leader. Whether you like him or not, he (ex-president) was, in my view, more networked and effective as the SCFOL leader. SCFOL needs to be reviewed and revamped.

Liberals had shown their interests in developing good networking with Indian Australians a few years ago, but, later, appeared to have lost interest in such networking. During the O’Farrell Government time, only one person was taken as the Indian community, solely because he was a personal friend of the Premier. Everybody else was ignored. Sadly, this particular person never had any networking with Indian community. Currently, Liberal ministers seems to think that a marketing woman from Indian community, who has charmed her way into the Liberal network, is the key person for the networking with Indian community.  Liberals are either naïve or they don’t care, if they believe this to be the case. Little do they understand that her key focus is her business interests, just like she did with ALP ministers. Federal and state Liberal leaders used to be seen in Indian community events, but this seems to have become less frequent. One pleasant thing however is that some from amongst our community with high-sounding but false positions after their names, and without matching credentials, are not in the inner network of Liberals anymore. It’s a big relief. These people are only for themselves and with their ugly antics, causing shame to themselves and our community. They were using photographs with high profile Liberal politicians to promote their business interests in fleecing money from gullible people. What is needed is the revamping and strengthening of LFI. Like SCFOL, it must be supported by key government ministers and Party officials, if it were ever to get traction in the community. Its key members from our community should be those who have good networking and are decent people, not those who are into exploitation and fleecing of the vulnerable people of our community. Those who sold work experience certificates, arranged fake marriages or arrange or sell 457 visa in return for cash should be kept away from LFI. In contrast to SCFOL, I haven’t heard much about LFI for some considerable time. I am not sure if it is still active. Obviously, LFI should become more active, and visible, if Liberals are keen for the votes and support from our community. It is in their interest to do so if they want to change the current 60:40 voting pattern against Liberal party, and in favour of ALP, as far as our votes are concerned. Improving the networking with our community is a no-brainer.

If I have an advice for ALP and the Coalition, and they listen to it, I will advise them to revamp these groups and go beyond SCFOL and LFI to network with our community. SCFOL and LFI represent a minuscule part of the community. After all, both of them need to have a large and productive network in the community to influence voting behaviour in their favour.

We, as a community, need to do a lot more to be a significant player in politics and political processes of Australia. We must work together in getting some, albeit only good ones, from our community in the local Councils and Parliaments. They must not be those who are into unethical, and illegal, activities like underpaying employees, taking or arranging 457 visa in return for cash or selling work experience for visa purposes. Such people are obviously so keen to be photographed with politicians, simply because it helps their business models and scares the victims from putting complaints. Political leaders must stay away from them and push them away into garbage bins, where they justifiably belong. It’s undeniable that we need to join political parties. Our numbers in Western Sydney are our strength and similarly our numbers in political parties will be our strength as well. One thing more. We must ensure that only good people from amongst us are supported for these roles in politics. Nobody with sub-standard qualities and ethics is encouraged. We don’t need Indian style politics in Australia. We will need to be careful, proactive and determined to not allow undesirable people with poor value system to succeed in their pursuit of selfish interests.

Finally, our support and votes for any party or candidate must be based on policies, principles and quality of the leadership. We must not allow anyone to fool us. Our votes should never be for someone who is not deserving of our votes.

Yadu Singh/Sydney/18 March, 2016
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Labor Senator Lisa Singh deserves federal Labor’s intervention

Sydney, 30th Aug, 2015

Lisa Singh

Senator Lisa Singh from ALP is a popular and hard working politician. She is high profile too. She is particularly popular in, and liked by, Indian Australian community because of her Indian heritage, beside her abilities and leadership.

She received one of the prominent awards from Government of India “Pravasi Bhartiya Samman” for her exceptional service and contribution as a person of Indian heritage not long ago. This award is only for people of Indian heritage living outside India. Her father is a Fiji-Indian and mother is from English Australian background. She has been covered by almost all Indian ethnic media in Australia. She did reach out to various groups in Indian Australian community. She is an endearing, not polarising, person. She is an asset to ALP.

She is a member of Emily’s List and had co-founded Asbestos Free Tasmania Foundation.

She is a very productive member of the Senate and is a great orator. She is currently a shadow Parliamentary Secretary.

I have listened and interacted with her in various events and gatherings.

She has had extensive political and governmental responsibilities in Tasmania, and this included a position as a Minister, before being elected as a  Senator in 2010. She was the first person with Indian heritage who was elected to the Senate then.

People including I expected her to be re-elected for the second term in The Senate, but, with recent developments, this seems unlikely.

Due to very peculiar voting for preselection, little-known John Short, secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union will replace Lisa Singh and occupy the winnable 3rd spot in the list. Lisa Singh will be at the 4th place which is an unwinnable place.

SMH article explains it nicely. (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bill-shortens-hopes-of-more-female-mps-ignored-as-union-numbers-used-to-dump-sitting-senator-20150828-gja0ay.html) I quote the relevant SMH article paragraphs.

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“Of the 542 votes cast by members, senators Urquhart and Polley received 221 and 123 respectively, with the unaligned Senator Singh close behind on 110. Mr Short was some way back with 74 votes, with the remaining 14 going to others.

However, that tally made up only half of the final result because under state ALP rules the 100 union votes are then combined with another 100 conference delegates – both of which are factionally organised – and their combined total of 200 is weighted to make them equivalent to the 542 rank-and-file votes.

Based on a loading formula in which each union-conference vote is worth 2.72 rank-and-file votes, the two halves resulted in Mr Short jumping ahead by a wafer-thin four votes, on 158 to Senator Singh on 154.

That meant he won the third and final winnable position, relegating her to the unelectable fourth spot.”

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I and many others are disappointed and unhappy with this result because;

  • it is not right for ALP to continue and allow excessive and disproportionate  influence of Unions when Unions have only about 18% of Australian workforce as their members
  • it is not right for ALP to relegate the views and choices of rank and file this blatantly in preference to Unions’ interests
  • ALP should promote and support a performing and sitting Senator in preference to an untested Union member
  • ALP should execute its professed policy of promoting women in its leadership, and Lisa Singh matter is a perfect example where this policy should be demonstrated and executed
With this all, I believe that,
  • Federal Labor and leader Bill Shorten should intervene and endorse Senator Singh at the 3rd place in its Senators’ list.
  • Bill Shorten and Federal Labor should do the right thing and demonstrate their commitments to encourage participation of women in its leadership and Parliaments.
  • ALP should dismantle the entrenched stranglehold of Unions in its processes and pre-selections. Unions are known to do a lot of good jobs, and I know it first hand, but there is no justification for their excessive and disproportionate influence and powers in ALP or any political party.  ALP will do a lot of favours to itself if it acted in this direction and gave much more importance to the voices of its rank and file.
I also exhort Subcontinent Friends of Labor to lobby with Bill Shorten and Federal Labor in support of Senator Lisa Singh. This is the time to show leadership.
Dr Yadu Singh