Buying property

There was yet another “successful” auction not far from us recently.  A small place sold for $2 million, an amount that would have been undreamed of only a year or so ago.    Sure, the property had a number of nice characteristics, but still ….

But leaving this aside,  curiosity led me to check the stamp duty that the purchaser will have to pay on this purchase, over and above the purchase price.  It’s $110,000!   Then there are conveyancing expenses and some other fees.  It certainly means that buying a property is not a cheap exercise.


Doing the MyTax tax return

I have become accustomed to the quirks of the “MyTax” tax return website (you get to it via MyGov).   As I’ve said before, it takes a bit of getting used to.  One way of looking at it is that the powers that be have tried to “dumb down” the tax return process so much that it’s actually harder to use than the older electronic eTax site.  Still, in this day and age, perhaps even tax returns have to be able to be handled by an iPhone?

Having said this, my impression is that in some ways, there have been some marginal improvements to the format this year.  For example, there’s now an option to review the form before pressing the “Lodge” button.   However, one thing that did annoy me this year is that some of the pre-filled information arrived very late.    I had been working on and off on my return for a number of weeks, yet in mid-September, another dividend was “pre-filled”.

True, this isn’t the Tax Office’s responsibility, as it can only handle information supplied to it when it arrives.   And the site certainly draws your attention to the fact that new pre-fill information is available, and this year, identifies the particular item as new (I don’t think this occurred last year).

Car recall

We became aware through the news media that our 3+ year old Mazda was subject to a recall.   That was in July.   The issue seems to be with one of the airbags.    Given the number of vehicles having an issue with these airbags, it seems that it took some time for the recall program to get moving and that it had been under way for a while before we became aware of it.

As it happens we received a letter from Mazda confirming the recall, dated 24 August.  True, we didn’t ring the dealer immediately.   But then we received a letter dated 1 September, noting that we hadn’t responded, and suggesting that the replacement should be done urgently!  Given that this issue has been around for some time, this seemed a bit odd.   Do I detect a bit of pressure from the authorities?

But I rang the dealer anyway.   Ah yes, they said, but there’s a minor problem – we’ve run out of the replacement part!   Provide us with your details, and we’ll ring you when more supplies arrive.   So the end of the saga is yet to occur in our case.

And in the meantime, a 3rd letter has arrived from Mazda!    Amazing!

I don’t underestimate the issues that are no doubt involved with such a massive recall.   It does raise the issue, however, whether it’s desirable that the supply of a component should be so concentrated.  This is said to be  the largest recall in history, and the ACCC release (link above) states that 2.3 million vehicles in Australia alone have become subject to the recall. Is there a need to ensure that there’s a greater diversity up the supply line?  And how might this be achieved in our trans-national world?


Bollards (2)

As I’ve previously blogged, those concrete blocks around the city are very intrusive and have attracted lots of comments.   They appeared on the scene very quickly, so perhaps the design was due to the fact that they had to be hastily prepared.  Or does the cynic in me mutter that their “obviousness” has helped contribute to the feeling that the authorities are “doing something”?

In fact, on a short wall around the city recently, there are already many bollards and the like that we hardly notice (because we’re so used to them) – and more could easily be placed so as to deter vehicles.   There are also  items of street furniture that would be effective.  Perhaps not all of them would be completely stop an extremely determined attacker with a very heavy vehicle – but I suspect that they’d severely hamper all but the most determined “baddies”.

Hopefully, devices such as these will replace those blocks sooner rather than later.


Those concrete bollards being placed around the city are attracting quite a lot of comment.  It’s true that they’re not pretty, and it’s unfortunate that they’re seen to be necessary.  The ones near Fed Square are certainly very “obvious”.   Hopefully they’ll be replaced in the not-so-distant future by something more attractive.  In the meantime, I’m not convinced that the answer is to “decorate” them, as reported on the news.

In Flinders Street, at Fed Square
In Swanston Street, at Fed Square
TV news report of bollards “being decorated”

New financial year

The advent of the new financial year brings with it numerous changes, mostly too boring to blog about.   But one change (perhaps small in the overall scheme of things) is the abolition of “outgoing passenger cards” when departing for overseas.

Last time we left Australia, we placed our completed cards in a big bin.  No-one seemed to care whether we did so or not (but we did), and it seemed most unlikely that anyone ever looked at the completed cards.  So their abolition perhaps means that the bureaucracy is catching up with the reality?