Sunday, January 30, 2011

Slow motion car accidents and traumatic events

Have you ever had an accident involving cars or bikes, falling off the roof or something dramatic? An event that had you scared or had your adrenaline rushing? Have you experienced the effect of time slowing down, thoughts rushing through your mind, details of the moment is startlingly clear and seared into your vision?

I recently wrote about our car accident and the entire event happening in slow motion when in reality the collision and accident probably occured over two to three seconds. After doing a bit of googling and reading up on time, motion, perspective and the 'slow motion' effect, I thought I'd expound on that notion for a bit since it is rather fascinating.

The Doctor of Slow Motion Studies and High Adrenaline Situations

There aren't that many studies or research paper out there that has studied this 'slow motion' effect. Dr David Eagleman seems to be the most obvious source of information since he focused his studies particularly on accidents, falling down several feet and why the traumatic event seems to happen in slow motion.

His study involved setting up a testing environment that generates the adrenaline, fear based type of rush that causes our mind to think it's in danger and therefore, generate the 'slow motion' effect. His test subjects (humans) were falling down 100-150 feet at 70 miles per hour onto a safety net. If you would like to read up on it, you can click here and read about his experiment in detail and why Dr Eagleman decided to become a neuroscientist.

A summary of his conclusion was that it's not because our brains become turbo charged and thinks super fast. It's more mundane. He says that "Normally, our memories are like sieves...We're not writing down most of what's passing through our system". However, in a perilous situation like car or biking accidents or falling off something, our brain kicks into hyperdrive and utilises an amazing amount of our memory abilities so that our minds record a richer depth of details.

Our brain normally stores bits and pieces of our day together and when we sleep, it combines the bits and pieces into a coherent memory and discards the irrelevant junk from our minds. In high adrenaline situation where we've been scared and experience the 'slow motion' effect, our brains have engaged the amygdala section that isn't normally engaged for our everyday memory in conjunction with the brain section that normally records our day, to form a dense and rich memory of the event, which is why we experience the 'slow motion' effect.

"In this way, frightening events are associated with richer and denser memories. And the more memory you have of an event, the longer you believe it took... Your brain is not like a video camera... It can seem as though an event has taken an unusually long time, but it doesn't mean your immediate experience of time actually expands. It simply means that when you look back on it, you believe it to have taken longer," says Dr Eagleman.

"This is related to the phenomenon that time seems to speed up as you grow older. When you're a child, you lay down rich memories for all your experiences; when you're older, you've seen it all before and lay down fewer memories. Therefore, when a child looks back at the end of a summer, it seems to have lasted forever; adults think it zoomed by."

During an event that frightens us, a brain area called the "amygdala becomes more active and that helps us to lay down secondary set of memories that go along with those normally taken care of by other parts of the brain."

The amygdala peforms a primary role in the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events.

That was a mundane conclusion wasn't it? It would have been different if his studies demonstrated that time had slowed down or that our brains processed thoughts or reality a lot faster than normal but apparently not. It's just a bit more diligent in recording the event and the details when it's usually complacent.

Cramming for an exam and the link to the amygdala section of the brain

I would have liked it if Dr Eagleman studied the brain and the link between cramming and memory. Could the same thing be happening when a student is stressed out, trying to cram for un upcoming exam? Could their stress combined with adrenaline help sear their studies into their brain? Why is it that some successful crammers can learn and memorise so effectively in stressful cram sessions as opposed to studying for an exam which is a few weeks away and not being able to memorise or learn as effectively.

Or that the capacity for learning, memorising and understanding is heightened and maximised when the exam is coming up?

I would have liked to see further studies on how to trigger richer and denser memories on demand. Imagine how useful that could be if you could learn to trigger this section of the brain (without having to go through trauma or emotional, high adrenaline events) and use it's ability to memorise and remember things in a faster and clearer manner.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What happens in a slow motion car accident?

** Update 03/05/11: I've been getting a lot of readers visiting this article in search of an explanation about why their car accidents happened in slow motion. For the technical post about why your accident happened in slow motion, you can read my other post: Slow motion car accidents and traumatic events It concerns the Amygdala section of your brain which records a denser and richer memory.

Seat belts will save your life. If you ever get into a car, wear your seat belts. Last weekend, my friend and I were involved in a car accident. I could be angry and upset at the guy that hit us but it won't change anything. The only thing that I'm concerned with now is our health. The driver apologised profusely and said that he didn't know what he was thinking about when he was driving...that he had been "day dreaming" and "la di da di da" was going through his mind...

An unexpected car accident is more terrifying than one that is expected

When I've been responsible for the accidents (years ago when I was a new driver), I knew that it was coming because I didn't give way or someone in front of me braked suddenly because of the car in front of them. Or some driver darts out in front of your car last minute, or when someone changes lane without looking or indicating. You know you've been driving poorly or they know that they've been driving poorly.

Since the accident was very unexpected, it scared the sh*t out of me. We were indicating to turn right when suddenly the hardest impact combined with the noise and the car being propelled forward gave me the biggest scare of my life. If you can imagine someone crashing into the rear of your car and the car flying with fast momentum towards a telegraph pole that you just can't avoid and you know that your car will be making an impact within seconds, it's rather terrifying.

Impacting with a telepgrah pole will usually have two results, death or extremely severe injuries. I don't even know exactly when the airbag deployed but fortunately it did or else I'd have been eating the dashboard and taking my last breath on this Earth.

The car accident happened in slow motion

It happened within mere seconds yet it felt like time had slowed and life was playing in slow motion. Research indicates that it's all about our perception of time. Or adrenaline which allows our mind to process events and details faster than usual.

The bang and the impact from our car being rear ended caused me to scream (I'd always wondered if I could scream in fear and it turns out that I'm pretty loud) and the momentum caused us to fly forward. The seat belt did its job and we got whip lashed when we banged back into our seats. The noise was deafening.

Next thing I see is the telegraph pole in our path of collision. I knew we were headed for the pole dead straight. Wierd thing was that my mind was processing the entire thing and so many thoughts ran through my mind in logical successions:

1) We were going to die when we hit the pole
2) Will it hurt and will I feel the pain badly before dying

I could feel the car's metal shaking and being crumpled by the pole as it was happening and the next thought rushing through my mind was, "our legs are going to be crushed by the car and we'll be trapped if we don't die". Not sure when the airbag deployed because I was staring at the pole that we were careening towards. Fortunately I had my arm bent out in front of my chest and that took the impact from the airbag, which exploded out like gunshots. I've been told stories of people with double wrist fractures because they had their arms straight out when the airbags deployed.

The car bounced back like a toy and the next thought rushing through my mind was that we hadn't died but the car was on fire! Which it wasn't of course. It was just the smell of the airbags deploying which was giving off the smoky smell. We were alive. Our legs weren't crushed. Our car was a write off. Destroyed. Crumpled front and back. The mirrors had broken off from the sun visor. The windscreen was spider webbed.

It was still a beautiful, cloudless, sunny day. Hot and unchanged. I was still alive and breathing. Trying to breath, but that's still breathing.

I stumbled out of the car, totally winded with pain radiating across my chest. I knew I was way too young to have a heart attack so it had to be the seat belt whip lash from both, back and front impact. Breathless, trembling and shaking with shock. People were running out onto the road to see if they could help. Cold water bottles were thrust into our face with people saying, "have a drink of water" and then another voice chiming in saying, "she better not drink the water until the ambulance gets here". Another saying, "let's get you into the shade so you can sit on the wall" and voices in the background calling for polices and ambulances.

Not everyone will experience the slow motion effect. My friend on the other hand, was the driver and said that it all happened so fast that there wasn't really much time to do anything except try to step on the brakes that were useless.

It was a close call but we are still alive, thanking our ancestor's spirits and God for that

Raised with two religions (Buddhism and Catholicism), we thanked God and we thanked our ancestor's spirits for looking after us. There's nothing I fear more than being paralysed. I would rather say good bye to life than live life paralysed and unable to do the physical things that I love in life. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and preferences of course. The doctor says that we are lucky. He said that he'd seen car accident injuries where the insurers all try to avoid paying and try to use any loophole that they can to avoid liability.

Sadly most victims of accidents pay medical costs from their own pockets despite the injuries arising due to no fault of theirs, but some other driver's negligence. That's why we pay for private health insurance. And for income protection insurance. If the injuries had been bad, our health insurance would have paid for some of the medical bills and if we couldn't work, the income protection insurance would have kicked in to help pay for the bills if we couldn't work and was forced to take time off.

Do you think people feel the pain of car accidents or fear death while it's happening?

Based on my experience, I don't think there was sufficient time to fear death. I don't think I'd fear death ordinarily anyway. I think that if it had been worse, I would have felt the pain of the car crumpling and trapping the legs and being conscious of it before the adrenaline kicked in and numbed the pain. In the situation of car accidents involving deaths, it may happen in slow motion but once the impact reaches the body, they will feel pain before the head is impacted. Even when I thought we were going to die, it wasn't a crazy emotional thought, it was strangely, almost like an objective, rational thought.

It's so wierd but the scene replays in my mind in slow motion and I can even see the entire event unfolding with clarity in my mind. If I shut my eyes and think about what happened, it's almost like replaying a DVD in slow motion.

Ramifications of the car accident

1) The insurance company will pay out the insured value of the car
2) Have to buy a new car
3) The new car will cost more than the insurance payout so accidents are the pits
4) I feel guilty because we were on that road at that point in time because of the meeting that I planned on attending (which ironically I couldn't attend due to the accident) - I feel that I should help contribute financially to the new car that my friend will have to buy
5) I'll have to sacrifice some or part of my goals and delay them because if my friend accepts the financial assistance then I won't be able to meet my year end targets
6) Our health may be troublesome when we get older. Doctor says that people involved in hard impact car accidents have tendency to suffer from arthritis earlier in life
7) I want to sacrifice the holiday plans to help pay for the new car but I also want to visit my friend in England so if anything, it'll come out of the investment property deposit
8) Tow truck guys told us that it looked like a 60km/hr impact, if he'd been going any faster, we'd have been goneskis. Our car would have been crumpled severely and the momentum into the pole would have finished us off

There are also various car financing options available out there. Some of them can be tax effective, so we're doing some number crunching to see which option is preferable, allows salary sacrificing and can be expensed since the car is used for business/work purposes.

I can't help but feel guilty because we were there on that road at that point in time because of me. Everyone keeps telling me that it's not my fault. That it wasn't something in our control. That it's the fault of the guy that drove into us. I can't even be that angry with him because I was a poor driver in my teenage year. The 55 year old guy that hit us is a high school teacher with three kids. Isn't that ironic.

We are grateful to be relatively uninjured and happy to be alive. It does serve to remind me that I have to live my life as much as I can today and not plan too much for tomorrow because tomorrow may not be there. But just like the accident has demonstrated, tomorrow does and has arrived, and I'm still alive and breathing and I'm still glad that I've planned for tomorrow, regardless of how short my possible 'tomorrows' could be.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Firesheep: A Firefox add-on that is a Wi-Fi threat

I read an interesting article written by Randy Abrams about a Wi-Fi threat called Firesheep. I even doodled a little pictorial diagram of Firesheep in action...a picture is worth a thousand see a clearer image, click on the diagram and it will open up on a new page in clarity...

What is Firesheep?

Firesheep is a Firefox add-on which can automatically hijack accounts that aren't secured by SSL (https). It's difficult to protect yourself against someone hijacking your accounts when you use public Wi-Fi networks so avoid logging onto sites that requires your username and password when you're using public Wi-Fi networks.

How does Firesheep function?

Firesheep attacks unsuspecting users who are logging onto sites with their login and password on open or public wireless(Wi-Fi) network. When users log onto Amazon, Facebook or various other sites, the user name and password is encrypted but when the site sends the cookie to the person's computer(so that the site can remember the user), the cookie is not encrypted.

Because the cookie is not encrypted, it can be intercepted by anyone else using the same wireless network and the thief can access that user's account.

Prevention is better than cure

If you're going to use free or public wireless network, only surf sites that don't require you to login with your usernames and passwords.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How will the floods in Queensland and Victoria affect our economy and food supply?

(Image from

My thoughts and prayers are with the Queenslanders (QLD), Victorians (VIC) and Northern New South Wales (NSW) which is part of the state that I live in. I thought bush fires were our largest concern to date, however floods that were statistically 1 in 100 year events, and 1 in 200 year events have been decimating our second and third largest states in Australia, making a mockery of the statistics.

It's surreal. Our farmers have been battling drought for so many years now and it is horrifying to read that they have been devasted by the floods. Some commentators have been comparing the devastation results to scenes from a third world nation.

The issues from other major Australian news source:

* Thousands of Queenslanders are without power, adequate housing nor food
* Queensland supplies 28% of Australia's fruits and vegetables demand
* Agricultural industry's estimated loss from crop and equipment damage $1 billion (major farming losses in Gympie, Chinchilla, Rockhampton, Lockyer Valley, Bundaberg)
* Over 10,000 commercial businesses have been affected
* At the flood's peak, it was costing Australians $460 million per day
* The floods have destroyed about $500 million worth of sugar according to the sugar industry
* Mines and farms have been flooded and devasted - as large global suppliers of coking coal and ethanol, the world will eventually pay for this loss due to prices rising
* Food shortages due to panic buying, rail and roads transport infrastructure being destroyed
* Tourism industry is destroyed with cancellations rampant
* Estimated cost of damages so far is $6 billion and mounting
* Escalating food costs for Australians expected across a range of fruit and vegetables: melons, pumpkins, capsicum, grapes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, sugar
* Agforce(Queensland's farm group) estimates shortages in barley, wheat, sorghum, corn and chickpeas until possibly September
* Cattles and sheeps which have drowned, native Australian animals living in underground burrows such as echidnas and wombats have drowned, loss of our wildlife, damage to lands and topsoils which will affect land fertility
* Land erosion and farm equipment damage
* From The - "QLD supplies almost half the world's metallurgical coal, and prices have risen by $US50 a tonne since flooding started" ...the world will end up feeling paying for this as well
* Supermarkets and shops are experiencing shortages with bread, meat and milk supplies due to panic buying and infrastructure supply issues, thus there have been incidences of profiteering with a loaf of bread being sold at $15/loaf

* According to Hugh Tobin from Ausveg (our National Vegetable Industry Body), the vegetable supplies are currently not too badly affected however because of the wet weather conditions, we will eventually see supply drop in the winter time and prices rising as a result of farmers being unable to plant in the current condition and possibly unable to plant their crops in Autumn

* The QLD premier, Anna Bligh said that 28,000 homes have to be completely rebuilt with thousands more that is currently requiring repairs and power to be connected

If you own stocks, which stocks will be affected?

* RACQI which owns RACQ Insurance - facing 6000 claims and counting, their re-insurance trigger policy is triggered at $10 million (all insurers protect themselves by re-insuring against large claims)
* Suncorp which owns AAMI insurance- $200 million trigger for re-insurance
* IAG which owns NRMA insurance - $150 million trigger for re-insurance
* Unfortunately for many house holds and businesses, flood insurance is usually very specific and contains many exclusions, and for many, it was an optional extra and it has been estimated that many homes and businesses did not opt for flood insurance and may not be insured
* The flooding in QLD and VIC will be expensive for the insurance companies
* If you own mining stocks, you will need to check out which mines have been affected in the flooded regions, you can check the company announcements on their websites, on Commsec, Etrade or whatever trading site that you're registered with

How will the floods affect our Government?

All level of Government budgets, Commonwealth/Federal, State and Local, will be affected by the same problems:
* Loss of taxation revenue(GST/payroll tax/PAYG income tax/company income tax/levies/rates)
* Increased expenditure to rebuild infrastructure (roads/rails/ports/ferry docks/sewerage/highways/bridges/community centres/schools/electricity)

Which industries will the flood create a demand in?

Months after, when the flood water recedes and the mud is cleaned, rubbish is dumped and Queenslanders and Victorians (and to some extent, Northern New South Wales) are re-building their lives again- there will be a demand for the following:

* Cars
* Housing, builders, plumbers, electricians, engineers
* Supplies for the construction industry
* Electrical goods and homewares (washing machines, fridges, microwaves, plates, furniture etc)

Do you need financial assistance because of the floods?

There are various options out there in the form of grants and government assistance. Check out the following links here to see if you can qualify:

* Agricultural and farming assistance
* Three month payment package for those who cannot return to their jobs and have lost their jobs
* The main site outlining assistance for Queenslanders
* provided a great outline of the government payments available
* Disaster Recovery Payments at Centrelink or call 180 22 66
* Major banks are placing mortgage payments on hold for affected households - contact your bank to find out if they can assist you with this

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update on progress bars and interest income

Happy New Year to everyone! Although I haven't been very actively blogging due to millions of things in reality demanding my attention. I've got to stop joining up as a committee member too frequently or else I just get bogged down with meetings, minutes and action plans that are very time consuming and doesn't leave me much time.

It's only a few weeks away from Chinese New Year. I always look forward to it because mum always puts up a feast and I try to help her but I tend to start taste testing and munching too much *nom nom nom* to be of much help ;) This is a photo of the feast that she has cooked up last year:

Progress bars have been updated as of 12th January 2011

I've updated my progress bars. You can view the updated progress bars on my blog's right hand side column. Everything has been going along swimmingly. The savings for the IP is progressing slowly due to my bills inundating me over these past two months. My friend wants to go on our Europe trip mid-year so I may have to switch the saving goals and place the holiday as a priority ahead of the IP. I'm not sure I want to spend $12k on a trip anyway. Been there, done that, and it's been a lot of fun but then there are so many other competing things on the list to buy (see my wish list) and also to invest in. Holidays are a lot of fun, but because our holidays are so action packed, they are always so tiring!

Graph of my interest income for graph fanatics

For those of you who love graphs, here's a snapshot graph of my interest income. I like it when good things grow.... well, the interest income isn't significant yet but it's always exciting to see it increase because it means my money is working for me rather that I'm working for it. It's a source of passive income which is what I like.

It has been a very hectic month so far for 2011. In terms of returning from the Christmas and New Years holiday period and going back to work. A bunch of meetings already. I've also had to attend both, a wedding and very sadly a funeral, even though it has been barely two weeks into the New Year. Already experiencing such highs and lows.

Life can be really brief. Live life to the fullest and live each and every day as if they are special. Don't wait for tomorrow or wait for some day in the future because we never know our future and how long that we are on this earth for.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Luddenham Memorial Unwanted: No Luddenham Cemetery near Farmlands

***Update 18th January 2012:
DA11/1445 Application has been relodged by Stimson Consultant Services Pty Ltd on 23/12/11

Same sh*t, different smell ...aptly sums up the situation.

Why is it that rural residents always get hammered by developers? Is it due to the lack of density?

Are submissions lodged into council based on quantity of objections or percentage of household in the area? If it's based on the latter, then that would be more in community interest however if it's the prior, then that would be a severe disadvantage for rural residents.

There's a Luddenham Action Group on Facebook which you can join for the most up to date info on this problem:

Back onto topic, judging by the Googlers out there, if you are seeking information on this issue you can:

a) Google search: Penrith City Council
b) Click on the subsection title: Planning and Development
c) Click on: Application Search
c) Your DA search should be: DA11/1445 (You need to type that in exactly for the DA to be pulled up from the database)

A summary of the new application just recently lodged:

Click on image to see a larger version.

Luddenham Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium is not Wanted
- DA10/1208 on Lot 1 DP 529885 No 2207-2223 Elizabeth Drive, Luddenham NSW 2745.
The proposed site is about 100m from the Northern Rd/Elizabeth Drive roundabout.

***Update 21st April 2011: Council rejected the application. A win for farmers and rural residents.

Although this topic may not seem relevant to a financially orientated blog, it is still relevant in terms of protecting your property rights and your business interest if you have a neighbour who has lodged a Development Application (DA) that is detrimental to your business or your health and way of life.

Penrith City Council has received a development application for a Luddenham Memorial Park, Cemetery and Crematorium to be built in the middle of agricultural farm lands. Farms that are growing figs, vegetables, olives, fruit and raising beef cattles, poultry and eggs for Sydney and Australia's consumption. Their dams will be receiving run off in the event of rains and storms from the site that is proposed for burial grounds. There are a multitude of reasons as to why the proposal should be opposed, which I will illustrate further below. It will also mean that the Luddenham Model Park also known as Sydney Society of Model Engineers, one of the oldest engineering model club in Australia and the oldest, continuously operating Model Engineering Club in the World, will be forced to close if this development goes ahead.

How to oppose this Development Application (submissions close 31st January February 2011):1) Call Sascha on 0404 659 043 or email her on who is in charge of this and she can help guide you in any of the steps listed below.

2)Download and print the petition and the individual submissions, council will count both individually:
* Letter outlining the issues and a copy of the petition

* The petition that you can ask family and friends to help sign by clicking here* Individual submissions that your family and friends can sign
3) Write an individual submission against the DA with your argument formed objectively and you can find ideas on how to object to it from the research that the committee members have collated by clicking here

Email your submission directly to all the council members (,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

4) If you use Facebook or have friends using Facebook, join the protest group site No Cemetery and Crematorium in Luddenham on Facebook and write comments opposing the DA

5) There will be a community meeting at the Luddenham Model Park where council members and members of the Liberal and Labor Party will be present to listen to the community's views on this proposal. Ensure you show your support by turning up at the following location:

Date: Saturday 22nd January 2011
Where: Luddenham Model Park @ 869 Luddenham Road, Luddenham
When: 2pm-5pm
Who: Everyone with an interest is invited, there will be council members and political Members of Parliament attending

6) Read the following news articles that have been published and submit comments about your opposition to this DA. It has been published at the following newspapers:

* Penrith Star Article: Not in our Backyard, residents oppose Luddenham Cemetery - read and comment, the press will maintain their interest in this DA if the public shows that it is something that is relevant to us.
* Another Penrith Star Article
* Penrith Press Article: Neighbours Dig In, Luddenham Memorial Park not Wanted
* Liverpool Champion Article: Luddenham Dead-Set Against Cemetery (the irony of that byline)
* Another Liverpool Champion article: Anger at Luddenham Cemetery Plan by Anne Tarasov and Gemma Seymour

What do you need to do to compose an individual submission if you have your own research?

* Address your submission as:

To: The General Manager
Penrith City Council
PO Box 60
Penrith NSW 2751
Fax: 02 4732 7958

* You must include the reference number and the address of the property that the development application relates to. In this case you must include:

Ref: DA10/1208: Proposed Crematorium, Cemetery, Memorial Gardens with Associated Buildings and Car Parking at Lot 1 DP529885 No 2207-2223 Elizabeth Drive LUDDENHAM NSW 2745

* Clearly state the reasons why you object to the development proposal. Outline how it will negatively affect the enjoyment of your land or affect you. Do your research, illustrate facts, list points and if you have any source documents or websites, note the source in your letter

* Ensure that you include your name, contact number, signature and date the letter.
Sascha will be compiling all the letters and petitions to be lodged to Penrith City Council. You can send your petitions and letters to the following:
To: Sascha Vukmirica
PO Box 885
St Marys NSW 1790
OR Email:

If you are against this proposal and want to help in any way, please refer to the action points listed above for you. Also, feel free to ask questions in the comment section, contacting Sascha on 0404 659 043 or email me at (copy and paste the email address onto your email) if you need any clarifications.

The proposed site does not even have reticulated water (town water) or council sewerage. They expect to operate the entire place on rainwater runoffs, tank water brought in by trucks and have a massive onsite sewerage system facility.

As all residents know, there was a drought for several years where there was NO RAIN and almost everybody's dam was empty. How can they run a cemetery, crematorium, florist and onsite restaurant and cafe without city water and just by using tank water? Onsite sewerage systems have been known to malfunction from time to time, the whole entire suburb will reek if their sewerage system should malfunction.

Last but not least, the block cradles a ridge, which is a high land point and is very windy. Ashes can carry for several hundreds of metres onto farm land where animals are grazing and drinking dam water. It can carry onto property roofs which are used to collect drinking water for households.

Will Penrith City Council or the developers put their hands up to assume responsibility for future liabilities should businesses fold and collapse because of the development? Will they also reimburse residents who get sick from drinking contaminated water due to the crematorium and the ashes from the development? 

If any customers, residents, crops or livestocks get infected, sick or contaminated because of this development, Penrity City Council and the developer should be held accountable.

 Updates on this topic can be accessed here:
* Post: Say no to Luddenham, Greendale and Bringelly Cemeteries and Crematoriums

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gerry Harvey: 'I'm in a very, very, very difficult position'

Retailers must think that the Australian public are pushovers. How wrong they are.

The issue: The newly formed retailers consortium wants the Government to end GST exemptions on imported goods(goods purchased from overseas) worth less than $1000

The coalition of retailers(Myers/Harvey Norman/David Jones etc) are pushing for GST (Goods Services Tax) to be levied on online purchases from overseas valued less than $1000. With the Australian Dollar at record highs against the US dollars and international currencies, more and more Australians are going online to buy their goods directly from overseas.

The Australian public are angry that two billionaires, Gerry Harvey and Soloman Lew are trying to pressure and coerce the government into taxing online purchases. Their argument of 'level playing field' between their stores and online stores are falling on deaf ears considering that they've pulverised the smaller independent businesses and shops out of business in the past, hiked up their margins and have enjoyed their billion dollar wealth for decades. People are angry because of the contradictory stances of these two billionaires.

This means that the bricks and mortar retail stores have lost some of their sales to the online world. Instead of insisting that GST be imposed on online purchases, they probably should review their own cost and supply chain, cut their markups and provide better bargains for shoppers.

Right now, bargains from overseas along with our strong Australian dollar means that goods can be up to 40% cheaper than what you can buy them for in our bricks and mortar shopping stores. Introducing duties and GST won't stop shoppers going online for overseas good. Any government that values their neck will not introduce the new taxes or else they'll be on the chopping block too at the next election.

Gerry Harvey has been the most prominant commenter on this tax issue and now customers and the Australian public are revolting against him and the Harvey Norman chain of stores. Thousands of online commenters have been vastly negative with angry commenters using Twitter and their blogs to state that they will never buy from the Harvey Norman stores ever again. They are out for Gerry Harvey's blood and Harvey is now trying to backtrack and extract himself from the situation.

Unfortunately it's a bit late for that. It will be very interesting to see their financial statement and performance a year from today and see how all the negative publicity and backlash has hit their bottom line. Their publicity team is probably scrambling around to try and 'fix' the situation. Anyone who is looking to buy stocks in the retail coalition (who is trying to pressure the Government to impose GST onto online purchases of all value) should be wary and watch out for shopper backlash.

I've included some comments below to illustrate public opinion:

* A commenter wrote that the exact same Kate Spade shoes that retails for AUD$475 can be bought from the US directly USD$170+AUD$57 freight (total $227), even with the suggested 10% GST, it will cost around $250

* "Go blow your nose on a million dollar bill and stop trying to speak for the average Aussie- whom you couldn't possibly be more out of touch with"

* "I'm about to buy a new camera- price at Gerry's store...AUD$1800. Price online- USD$600. Saving about $1200...last time I took faulty goods back to Harvey Norman (under warranty, I was told to take it up with the manufacturer-'we are just the retailer, not our problem'"

* "Gerry nearly as bad as Mark McInnes. I will never shop at DJs or his shop" Ouch...Mark McInnes will always be known as the ex-CEO that had supposedly fondled his female staff. That's the worst association for Harvey's image.

* From Harvey himself, "Because of my profile, I then get all these threats and people hone in on me. It becomes me, Gerry Harvey and Solomon Lew- billionaires, greedy, ugly, old, out of date c***s, and the people writing this seem to think we have been ripping them off for years and that we deserve this."

What are the possible solutions?

* The retailers could have gone overseas, setup their own business and international branches and ship directly to Australians, rather than importing the goods, whacking on their margins and complaining about the loss of business to suppliers overseas

* Essentially, Australian dollars are spent overseas, which is an important leakage in our economy. However, since the goods that the shops stock are imported from overseas anyway, the money would have been spent overseas already...thus, the money that Australians save from buying cheaper goods off the internet will be spent on other industries/businesses in Australia (restaurants, other competive businesses, services etc) rather than going into Harvey Norman/Myers/David Jones' shareholders pocket.

Why do I write that? Because Australia has a very low rate of saving. The ration of saving to income was actually negative prior to the GFC. We as a nation, have been speding more than our income for several years now. Job losses in the retail sector will most likely translate to jobs in other retail or services industries. After all, if Australians aren't saving much, then the money they save from buying overseas will eventually be spent elsewhere but not at the retail store.

* Offer far superior services on the shopfloor and when there are warranty returns. Last week when we shopped at Myers, it was a good 15-20 minutes wait just for someone at the checkout. Shopping in Japan was luxury in comparison to the services we get in the major retail stores. Maybe they need to visit Japan to see what superior customer service is, or pay staff more so that they can be motivated. The biggest problem that I saw was a lack of staff.

Potential customers queuing up got sick of waiting for someone to attend to the registers. They placed their purchases down and just left.