Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My favourite place in Bali is now for sale


If I were twenty years younger, I'd probably buy it - but then again, I did a lot of stupid things twenty years ago ☺

For more photos, click here.

If you're interested, email me at riverbend[AT]hotkey.net.au and I put you in touch.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bali on a pension


Each year Australian taxpayers pay nearly $800 million to support over 81,000 pensioners living overseas, but changes to criteria could see their Age Pensions reduced or cut altogether.

Over the last two decades, the number of Australians living overseas who receive Age Pensions has tripled. Currently, more than 81,000 full- or part-age pensioners live offshore, with a further 6500 disability support pensioners (DSP) in the same situation.

In 1993 around 23,000 age pensioners and 8455 disability support pensioners lived overseas. In 2013, that number rose to a total of 87,791 being supported.

Most of these pensioners live in New Zealand, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Britain and Spain.

According to The Australian, Social Services Minister Christian Porter wants to enforce the “residency-based nature of Australia’s welfare system” but, so far, his wish has been blocked in the Senate by Labor.

“The annual combined cost of these is $765.4m,” said Mr Porter. “$660.8m from the Age Pension and $104.6m from the DSP."

In response to this, the Government has proposed to reduce the period that the means-tested Age Pension, as well as some other payments, can be paid to people living outside of Australia. It plans to reduce this period from 26 weeks to six weeks.

Currently, Australians who receive a full Age Pension must have worked in the country for at least 35 years.

However, the proposed changes to residency criteria, will see pensioners have their rates adjusted according to how long they’ve worked in Australia. So if someone has worked in Australia for 13 years but moves overseas once they retire, they will receive 13/35ths of the Age Pension they’d receive if they stayed here.

“This measure will provide savings of $168.4m over the forward estimates, which Labor has opposed. This change reinforces the strong residency based nature of Australia’s welfare system,” said Mr Porter.

A Labor spokesperson has said that the proposed changes would affect 190,000 “migrant pensioners”, such as those who want to travel overseas for more than six months at a time, as well as close to 90,000 who live permanently overseas.

Here are the current pension rates. Bloody generous, if you ask me (but no-one ever does ☺):

Ag Pension rates

Pension rates per fortnight Single Couple each Couple combined Couple each
separated due to ill health
Maximum basic rate $794.80 $599.10 $1,198.20 $794.80
Maximum Pension Supplement $65.00 $49.00 $98.00 $65.00
Energy Supplement $14.10 $10.60 $21.20 $14.10
TOTAL $873.90 $658.70 $1,317.40 $873.90
ANNUALLY $22,721.40 $17,126.20 $34,252.40 $22,721.40

And here are the current Australian pension rates payable to pensioners living overseas: click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

27th August 1883 - The Day the World Exploded


On 27th August 1883 the most terrifying volcanic eruption occurred on the island of Krakatoa, five miles off the western tip of Java.

The island was destroyed and almost 40,000 people were killed. The impact was truly global: ships sailing in the Red Sea were covered in ash; barometers went haywire in Washington; the seas were disturbed in Devon; stunning sunsets burned over London; immense rafts of pumice floated to Africa.

The world shifted, geologically, politically and socially, and the word 'Krakatoa' became embedded in the consciousness of the modern world.

I have just read Simon Winchester's book by the same name and it was absolutely rivetting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

When Bali's Hotel Boom Goes Bust

With an estimated 130,000 rooms for rent every night in Bali, many of which remain empty, it should be apparent to even the most casual observer that Bali is in a critical oversupply situation.

Further confirmation of Bali’s oversupply of tourist accommodation is also seen in occupancy rates well below 50%. Low occupancies and the open tariff war now underway is resulting in bottom line results viewed by industry experts as non-sustainable.

Accurate data on the actual number of tourist accommodation rooms for sale in Bali is hard to come by, especially when illegal villas and unregistered hotel rooms are added to the equation. If, however, the number of 130,000 room number is largely correct, this translates into 47,450,000 hotel room nights for sale in a single year.

Extrapolating further and assuming an average of 2 people per hotel room, Bali would need its current estimated 10 million domestic and international visitor to stay between 9-10 days each visit to achieve 100% occupancy.

But, in fact, the average length of stay for tourists visiting Bali is only 3.8 days resulting in an average of 25-30% occupancy across the board.

Despite this dismal reality, an estimated 25 new hotels opened in 2015 with a number of major hotels still under construction. Add to this controversial plans to build a major new hotel project on reclaimed land in Benoa Bay that, if completed, would add thousands of new rooms to the Island’s already overstocked accommodation inventory.

A lack of understanding on just how dire the oversupply of hotel rooms has become among Denpasar and Badung officials who sign the “lucrative” permits for new projects suggests that the worst is yet to come in the continuing decline of the Island’s once proud hotel sector.

Seems like the rumour I heard is true: that business is so bad that some of the hotels are stealing towels from their guests.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

... und im Radio läuft Popp-Musik


There has been a German retreat from Banjar Hills Retreat with the German couple Ralf Pelzner and Anke Sawalies returning to Germany after little more than eighteen months in Bali. What happened?

And what's going to happen next? Is there life after Bali? Will Anke again be waxing bodies at waxy-hexy and Ralf making pop music with the swing-doctors? (he's the one on the far right)

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Anyway, following the departure of the German couple, the Australian "owners" (no foreigner can actually own Indonesian real estate) are now closing Banjar Hills Retreat and it is again up for sale. As one of the four part-"owners" put it, "We are through with the place. And we are through with Bali. The crowds, the traffic, the general greed are all very disappointing."