The Financial Review
leads with budget cuts to welfare this morning, indicating we’re now
in “Budget Leak Season”. According to the paper the budget plan reduces
spending on the pensions by up to $288 million in 2006-07, while
disability and sole-parent pensioners deemed to be “work ready” will
also have their benefits cut under the new plan.

The Fin also reports on
a new tax ruling that deems protection provided outside the workplace
as a fringe benefit and so subject to tax at the top marginal
rate. Such protection potentially includes the cost of installing
security cameras and alarms at an employee’s home, bodyguards and the
cost of protection for workers sent on assignments in war zones and
natural disaster zones.

Fairfax’s Alan Kohler
comments on “the ludicrous, almost scandalous, way that property
investors and owners are being kept in the dark” on house prices. The
incidence of “price undisclosed” after a house is auctioned in Sydney
is now up to an all-time high of 17%, but Kohler notes there is
no privacy issue – all real estate transactions must be reported and
the details made publicly available at the titles office at some stage
so why not instigate a system that requires the vendor or agent to
report each sale on the day the contract is signed?

Property issues are also explored in The Bulletin
today. Just how far will people go to avoid paying land
tax? As a couple’s principal place of residence is exempt from
the tax, the concept of spouses who own multiple properties splitting
up, can make good financial sense. The Bracks’ government in
Victoria has promised land tax relief for middle-income couples, but
there are still strong incentives to avoid property taxes, says The Bully.

Meanwhile, Robert Gottliebsen’s column in
The Australian

focuses on the next generation of net inventers. Vinton Cerf –
one of the founders of the internet – is in Australia and warns
businesses that many of their long-term business models will not work
in the coming era with the advent of internet applications yet to be
invented by the “email generation” of the early 1990s.

Peter Fray

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