That Tiger flag!

I’m not a Richmond supporter, but of course my heart was with them in the Grand Final.    However, I wasn’t optimistic, and I told the newsagent last week that the Tigers ought to enjoy the celebrations after winning their Preliminary Final because things would be different after the Grand Final.

But I was wrong, I’m pleased to say.   However, we weren’t watching. Due to an oversight on my part, I had booked an MTC play for 4 pm on the Saturday afternoon!     We left for the theatre at quarter-time, when the Crows were ahead.  Only at the interval did we find out that at three-quarter time, the Tigers had a convincing lead, and by the time the play had finished, the result was known.

However, the match was replayed next day, so we watched the last part of it then.

Well done Tigers!



Penguin are re-printing a series of Maigret stories, but I’ve seen very few of them in the bookshops or the local library.   Actually, I had more-or-less given up on the library, as (in the fiction area) it seems that the policy is to buy multiple copies of  authors it presumably considers to be “popular”, instead of maintaining a collection across a broader range.  Perhaps, given limited shelf space, that’s OK;  anyway I’ve just accepted it and haven’t sought be involved.

Because I like Maigret, I was  pleasantly surprised when browsing the shelves at the library to see four of the Simenon reprints on the shelf!  I immediately borrowed two of them, and  I finished the first (Maigret’s Revolver) within 24 hours!   Simenon’s style shines through:   lots of detail about everyday life including the weather and pausing for a drink, Maigret’s discomfort at being out-of-his-zone in English speaking London and more.  Of course, being set in the 1930s, phone calls are made through an operator, but somehow, there are always back-up police available waiting to drop everything and follow any instructions that they might be given.


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.

ATM charges

So, CBA is dropping the $2 charge by its ATMs when you have an account at another bank but withdraw from a CBA ATM?   Well, yes, but read the fine print:  it doesn’t apply to international cards, nor does it apply to BankWest ATMs (BankWest is owned by CBA).   And BankWest ATMs are regularly found in 7-11 stores.

And then it only took a few hours for the other banks to announce that they would drop their own fees, although NAB seems still to be working through the issue in relation to the RediATMs, with which it is associated but are owned by Cuscal.   On that point, the tone of CBA’s announcement certainly suggests that if your account is with one of the 2nd tier banks or credit unions in the Cuscal network, you’ll still get fee-free withdrawals at CBA ATMs.

I’m not sure that this is a big issue for me.   I don’t expect to be able to buy KFC at a McDonalds, so why should I expect to get money held in a NAB account from a CBA ATM?  However, press reports suggest that consumers don’t like these charges, and CBA isn’t exactly held in high esteem right now, so a gesture like this could help.  And $2 always seemed excessive to me.


Just the same, there are times when I might now take advantage of the ability to use a CBA ATM.


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).

Are there too many coffee shops?

The question has been raised in Britain as to whether the market for coffee shops has become saturated.   From the BBC report, it seems the issue there arises because there appear to be a number of chains competing in the market.  This seemingly makes the market there rather different from ours, as (at the risk of generalising) it seems that Melburnians (and Australians) don’t favour chains (look at the Starbucks experience).

It’s interesting that the report mentions an opinion in Britain that the big brands need to watch out for the rise of independent coffee shops.

Just the same in some areas, the market in Melbourne definitely appears saturated.  Sure, the coffee culture is particularly strong in our neighbourhood, but the competition is brutal.   Just as one place starts attracting a crowd, another place opens up or is re-furbished, the and the crowd’s loyalty quickly switches.  And a change on proprietorship can result in a dramatic fall-off in business.

I wonder how many people have put their savings into buying a business, only to see the money disappear.    Enthusiastic would-be operators need to take a cold, hard look at the area before jumping in.