The Ticker: Modern business life

How does your pay compare? One chart on politicians’ wages over the past decade; Why our next resource boom actually hinges on Japan and this one graph nails Australia's affordable housing crisis.

On today's blog:

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2.40pm - This one graph nails Australia's affordable housing crisis

By Chris Kohler, BusinessNow

The amount of cheap properties coming on the market is falling away at an alarming rate, leaving low-income families and first-home buyers with fewer and fewer options.

The number of homes selling in capital cities for $400,000 or less now represents 39.7 per cent of all sales, down from 44.1 per cent a year ago, according to new research from CoreLogic RP Data.

“Twenty years ago, more than 9 out of every 10 house sales across each capital city were below $400,000,” CoreLogic RP Data analyst Cameron Kusher said.

“Of course over that time wages have increased, interest rates have tended to be much lower and credit has become much more freely available. Nevertheless, the drop in affordable housing across most capital cities has been substantial.”

2pm - The major loophole in Uber’s latest PR campaign

There’s nothing like a good old petition to put our pesky politicians in their place. Just ask ride-sharing service Uber, who today blogged about a new groundswell of social media support from the Twittersphere for the company in its perpetual battle against Cabcharge.

It’s a smart tactic. In the past day, the group received just under 200 tweets endorsing its place in Australia, and it just sent out its blog post to the press in the hope of amplifying its latest online victory. But there’s a hitch: Uber’s latest Twitter win is a petition masquerading as a grassroots social campaign.

With a petition, you know that somebody has gone out and convinced members of the public to sign up to a particular cause. With a social media campaign, unless you are told otherwise, it looks like a random upspring of support in response to the news. From an authenticity stand-point – and in terms of generating press coverage -- this is best kind of outcome. 

So, how do we know Uber’s campaign was prompted by the company? The devil is in the detail: The vast majority of the tweets start the exact same way.

Uber showcased this tweet in its blog: 

But this is what the vast majority of the tweets supporting Uber’s Queensland cause looked like: 

We saw the exact same thing with the Sydney tweets. Here’s what Uber promoted: 

And here’s what the majority tweeted:

On a separate note, this post is also proof that the majority of Twitter users are lazy and if they believe in the cause, (or headline) they won’t rephrase or amend what you ask them to tweet.

We’ve reached out to Uber to find out how this Twitter campaign came about. We’ll post an update on this blog when they get back to us. We’re not based in Sydney or Brisbane, but our best guess is that the app prompted users after their most recent Uber ride to tweet out this message.

There’s nothing wrong with harnessing the crowd or doing it in this way. However, given the tactics used by its rivals, is it too much to ask that Uber be upfront and honest about its methods? 

12.30pm- Why our next resource boom actually hinges on Japan 

There are high hopes for Australia’s emerging LNG export market. As the Grattan Institute noted earlier this year, the gas export sector could contribute up to $60 billion per year to the Australian economy. To put that figure in perspective, the Grattan Institute also estimates that the mining boom helped generate $80 billion a year worth of investment between 2009 and 2012. 

There are a couple of other differences between these two booms. For starters, not all of the demand for Australia’s LNG will be fuelled by China, as was primarily the case with iron ore. As the latest Bureau of Resources, Energy and Economics report into LNG notes, Japan will also play a major role in the rise of the Asian LNG export market. 

“Global LNG imports are expected to accelerate rapidly after 2015 as new supply from Australia enters the market,” the report says.

 “Asia grows strongly, although growth in Japan and South Korea moderates. Nevertheless Japan is still expected to remain the largest single importer of LNG.”

Though, it goes on to note that Japan’s position on LNG exports could be shaky in the medium-term.

It all hinges on one thing: whether the country returns to using nuclear power. 

Japan gradually shut down all 54 of its nuclear reactors in response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster. President Shinzo Abe is currently looking at reactivating that network and just how many are turned back on could impact demand for LNG.

Though, this initiative may be low on Abe’s list, given Japan’s current economic turmoil and the fact that he’s now fighting for his political life in a snap election.

11.10am - Confused? Alan Kohler explains why deflation isn’t such a bad thing

Alan Kohler: “I think it’s confusing for everybody. Are we worried about deflation? It sounds bad, sounds terrible. Or is it OK? It is OK that oil prices are coming down, it is OK that innovation is causing productivity gains, that’s good.”

Watch the video below, or if you’re a subscriber you can read Alan’s piece here. 

11am - How does your pay compare? One chart on politicians’ wages over the past decade

Cue outrage.

Let’s face it; it’s very easy to get angry over the pay of our politicians, particularly when you map it out on a graph. Our elected representatives have done quite well since 2004. Their pay has climbed roughly 30 per cent, while the wage of the average male worker has increased 15 per cent. These numbers also exclude perks and other parliamentary privileges.

It would be unfair to parade these figures without mentioning the counterargument: Tax payers get what they pay for. It’s not a new argument either. The idea is that if we want to attract top political talent into leading Australia, then we need to pay them at a rate that is comparable to what they could earn elsewhere. While it’s been argued that that our politicians could earn more in the private sector, this of course depends on the politician. Whether we actually attract quality politicians with these wages is again a matter for debate.

Back in 2012, a UK report revealed that Australia’s politicians are among the highest paid in the world. In light of the G20, many have pointed out that our Prime Minister Tony Abbott actually earns more than US president Barack Obama -- again, these estimations exclude perks.

Perhaps what should concern us most is that the average Australian has little say over how much our politicians are paid. It’s decided by parliament and is approved by the federal remuneration tribunal. Any move to increase pay or improve conditions usually goes through unopposed.

So, perhaps the real question at the heart of this matter is not whether our politicians are overpaid, but rather, is there a fairer – more democratic – way of determining their wages or is this as good as it gets? 

9.10am - Interesting reads from around the web

Behind the times? We’ve had them for years in the east, but it seems WA just launched its first 24-hour department store.

The graph is mightier than the pen: Meet the data scientist using facts and data visualisations to take on the fracking industry.

Germany is set to introduce legal quotas for women on company boards. Will others follow?

He took on the Feds, and it looks as if the Feds won. Kim DotCom is officially broke.

GoPro could now be known as GoSpy. Forget wearable cameras, now the company is moving into consumer-focused drones.

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