Saturday, February 10

The rains in Africa - Angel City Chorale



At our next concert of the Open Door Choir we intend to sing this number inclusive of the man made sound effects. By rubbing the hands to commence, then for different sections begin to click their fingers at varying intensities, followed by varying stomps, you can emulate perfectly a storm

Friday, February 9

Governance and Accounting standards in Australia

 
Introduction
 
In Australia the information in published accounts is highly regulated in accordance with comprehensive legislative and professional bodies that issue standards and guidance. In addition the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) provides rules for listed entities which come under the provisions of contact law. Whilst the ASX also issues a number of non- binding suggestions, nevertheless they have been almost unanimously adopted. Hence the format of Reports for most publically listed entities is very similar.
From my experience the Australian approach which tends to favour descriptive principles rather than a prescriptive approach favoured by the US is far more effective. People tend to respond more ethically if one is required to use one’s imagination. In other words applying a broadly based principled approach as opposed to being prescriptive which risks dissolving into a purely box ticking compliance approach.  
 
The principal legislative requirements are contained in the Corporations Act 2001 whose provisions are enforced by ASIC.  (Australian Securities & Investment Commission). ASIC is involved in surveillance, investigation and enforcement of the financial reporting requirements.  
The Act gives legal effect to auditing standards requiring auditors to adhere to the ethical standards laid down by the Accounting Professional and Ethical Standards Board (APESB).
Input by professional bodies.
In turn professional accounting bodies also enforce expected professional standards and integrity from their members.
For instance, our largest accounting body, namely CPA Australia,  last year reported 94% of members met all professional standards and requirements or had minor non-compliance issues which were resolved before the review was finalised; and that 6 per cent of members reviewed showed a level on non-compliance where follow-up action was required. All such matters were resolved after follow-up action. These results were similar to the previous year.    
Advocacy & research- Governance Institute of Australia. 
The Institute champion’s ethics in business and for its members who may be employed as governance professionals or legal counsels in larger organizations. The institute provides consultative services pertaining to governance strategies and solutions aimed at not only ensuring a company conducts its affairs ethically, but also can evolve, grow and succeed by adopting enhanced risk management practices.
The institute engages with government on any proposed legislative and regulatory reform.  
 Financial Reporting Council.
The FRC appoints members to the Accounting Standards Board in Australia, and has listed its aims to reduce the cost of capital and ensure Australian entities can compete effectively overseas. Its principal thrust is to maintain investor confidence and to ensure accounts are clearly stated and easy to understand. Its annual report is presented to the Federal Treasurer.  
The ASIC Act however limits the FRC’s ability to act directly in relation to setting accounting standards which becomes the responsibility of the Australian Standards Board.
Rather the role of the FRC is to monitor Australian accounting, auditing and assurance standards to ensure their relevance to capital markets and reporting by the private and public sectors. 
Its principal role is to oversee auditing and assurance standards for world-wide use, whilst ensuring it continues to be best practice in Australia. However the technical know-how in achieving that aim is delegated to the standards Board.     
 
Accounting Standards Board in Australia.
Hence the actual drafting of accounting standards in Australia is governed by the Australian Accounting Standards Board.  The process involves continual review and commences with discussion papers for both internal and external consultative reviews with the various professional bodies. 
The Board has 11 members including the Chair. The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law. Members, are appointed by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).
According to its latest report accounting standards have increasingly become internationalised to ensure consistency in their presentation. Currently the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) has been adopted in over 100 countries, including China, European Union, India, Korea and New Zealand.
 

Wednesday, January 24

As time goes by


Our Open Door Singers choir resumes this year to night.
Here is a list ( thanks to Bryan) of most of the songs from last year.  
Adiemus
Any dream will do.
Ascot opening day
As time goes by
A whole new world
Beauty and the beast
Black Bird - Beatles
Blue moon
Bridge over Troubled Waters
Bring him home
Californian Dreaming
Candlelight Carol
Carol of the Birds 
Celebrations
Change the world
Chariots Comin'
Circle of Life
Coran Fields
Daisy Daisy
Don't bring me down
Do you hear the people sing
Empty chair and empty table
Feliz Navidad
Fragile by Sting
Fransicus’s Christmas carol
Freedom is coming
Gershwin - They can't take that away
Gershwin - Lets call the whole thing off
Gershwin - S' Wonderfull
Gershwin - Who's got the last laugh now
Get me to the church on time
Ghosts riders.
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Hey hey hey she's having a baby
Here comes that day
He Lives in You
Homeward bound
I could have danced all night
I Have a Dream
I'm Dreaming of home
I'm gonna wash that man 
It's a long way to Tipperary
I't don't mean a thing
I've got the music in me
Lanterns
La La Land
Lean on me
Les Miserables - Suddenly
Les Miserables -One day more
Les Miserables - I dream a dream
Les Miserables -The end of the day
Les Miserables -Master of the house
Let's Dance
Life on Mars
Mamma mia
Memories.
Monday Monday
My castle in the sky
On a starlit night
Once a jolly vagabond
One day I'll fly away
On the street where you live
Oh Happy day
Only Time
Other Side of the World
Pack up your troubles
Peace on Earth
Penny Lane
Perhaps love
Rolling in the deep
Rhythm of life
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Santa Clause is coming to town
Sausi Carol
Scarborough fair
Shosholoza
Silent night
Singing in the rain
Simply having a wonderfull Christmas time
Somewhere over the rainbow
Someone in the crowd
Sophia
So this is Christmas
South of the border down Mexico way
Summer night
That’s what friends are for.
The Bell of creation
The big yello taxi
The end of the day
The impossible dream
The lion sleeps tonight
The Little Drummer Boy
The Mahogany ship
The man in the mirror
The prayer
The Sound of silence
The Sussex Carol
There's nothing like a dame
The Way You Make Me Feel
The way your hot
Up there Cazaly
Viva La Vida
Vos Sur Chenin
Walking In The Air
We'll meet again
Wind Beneath My Wings
What a wonderful world
Why we sing
You'll never Walk Alone
You made me love you
You Raised Me Up
You’re my everything
Waltzing Matilda
Waterloo
Wings
With a little bit of luck
Wonders of love
Wouldn't be loverly

Monday, January 22

That certain warm hearted feeling


Suffering from a perennial crook back I nevertheless had come to manage it reasonably well with a daily exercise plan and ensuring I kept reasonably fit.  So, when the request came to share in the joy and excitement to attend the inauguration of the new Church in Malawi, funded by the Malawi Support Group I belonged to, it seemed natural enough to accept their invitation. All was well until just few days prior I encountered a severe back attack which only worsened on the night before I was due to depart. Going to bed early with severe nerve pain signals shooting down my legs, which ignored strong pain killers, I tossed and turned in a state of extreme anxiety wondering how I could possibly now undertake such a journey.  

Somehow in in the early morning hours I must have finally dozed off only to be awakened with what felt like a sudden jolt so that all that was present in my mind was an unexplainable warm hearted feeling. It didn’t last for long as the alarm intruded onto what must have been only a few seconds. The back continued as a problem but remarkably thereafter everything turned out very well as the warm heart of Africa carried me along in its wake.    
After visiting all of the local communities and attending the opening of the new church I had intended meeting up with my wife for a holiday. Our plan was to rendezvous at Heathrow, hopefully at around the same time, but presuming Anne would have a few hours wait.    

Flying from Australia, my wife, on arrival at Heathrow was to encounter a series of kind acts. Firstly from a young man who helped her with her luggage on to the transfer bus to my terminal, to another who gave up his seat and then in unloading her luggage at my terminal where we were to meet up.
Concurrently on arriving from South Africa, I had to catch a driverless train (a bit unnerving) to collect my luggage from the pick-up terminal.   

As planned I had reached into my pocket to make the call to find Anne’s location when a jolt went through my head. I looked up and there she was walking towards me.  Having recently experienced the warm heart of Africa maybe there was need to be surprised.       

Saturday, January 13

Walking in the shadows of the Fisherman


Just for the sake of clarity, can I introduce Jesus as a stranger, (since I’m not at all  keen on the idea of a personal saviour ) just as I imagine he came to those fishermen so long ago. Also it seems to me, for the most part, so he remained to a large degree, even to his disciples.
 
So I think we can say in essence Jesus (as opposed to the crucified Christ) is only known to us by way of a collection of his remarkable sayings and principally the loose narrative of his brief ministry.
 
But how can one not be drawn to his words. For me they resemble explosive bullets which shatter the conscious minds status quo and invite a new form of enquiry. So I might posit at the outset, from my perspective, the higher self gets a high dose of adrenaline to shape that ongoing creation of which we are a part. At least I would like to think about it like that as one ponders the relevance to day of those ancient thoughts.   
 
Many passages come to mind but none more so than the parable of the “Good Samaritan”, etched as it is into everyday language. One can imagine then the shock of the audience as Jesus attributed the noble act to the much hated Samaritans. That would have been extraordinarily radical, given the deep seated tribal animosity ingrained in society then. Even today, don’t you agree how easy it is for racial prejudice to bubble up in conversations of fear expressed by otherwise remarkably fine people.  And so it was with many of his sayings and parables.
     
For the scriptures (NT) talks of an extraordinary teacher, one who does not indulge in abstract ideas, or engage intellectually but rather is focussed at a practical level on the expansion of good works and compassion in preparedness for the long awaited messianic kingdom. One can’t help but notice this thematic, in his exhortation to show compassion, in forgiveness and in not being judgmental. Notice the judgemental aspect only creeps into the narrative due to its unmistakable eschatological roots. This is evident in the warning bells prior to a soon to arise messianic kingdom. This new world order is defined in the Sermon on the Mount.  
  
But I think one must acknowledge this eschaton was never possible as we understand the cosmos today. However this does not detract from the wisdom and practicality of his teachings. Nor does it preclude us from proclaiming “the Christ” as in his divinity in death, to add another vital link to our spiritual self. Nor does it lessen in any way his impact on humanity as the guiding light out of darkness we attribute to “the Christ”.  
In fact I believe the opposite is true. As a fully human Jesus, this complements the divine risen Christ as a cosmic force for the greater good and a telos for ongoing creation.
But the ideas of the second coming and all that entails as in judgements needs to be jettisoned in my view from mainstream thinking. Surely the idea that GOD needs to return or indeed such event occurred in the first instance can be jettisoned. Such an event seems entirely unnecessary with what is visible and known in the Universe and how the divine or greater good can co- exist independent of supernatural events.  Of course I am not ridiculing such concepts, only questioning why we need to believe such things, and posit that their origins in my view arise from mistranslations.              
Hence over time I feel one can anticipate the dismantling of such unnecessary rituals and so called statements of faith such as reciting the current Creed, with its reference to such things as the 3rd day, right hand side, judgements and so forth. This idea of judgment, as I outlined previously (as a forewarning to the imminent messianic kingdom) has led, I believe, to many bad sermons.
 
So it is, that the Christ comes to us today as the lone stranger, executed with few around to lend any support, but continues on now for ever in divine cosmic memory as an extraordinary man. So I see that extension to the kingdom is now being realised and expressed as an extension in humanity’s higher self. So that his divinity, I posit, is after his death and not before. For my question is how could it be so essential that we must believe he was God on earth? One again I am not ridiculing those who do. But he talks about his Father and even at times his brothers and sisters. What I find puzzling is that we go to these extraordinary efforts to maintain credence to this idea, even though paradoxically in the first early Christian communities such diversity of views were common place.
 
So in summary I see room to relax dogmas with more emphasis on what you do. I think it means we can talk about Jesus, the extraordinary Man, who was not GOD on earth, but became the risen Christ. But a counter view to that is fine, so long as we don’t make that a prerequisite of calling oneself a Christian. I have deliberately refrained from mentioning the Trinity, but by now I think you would have gathered my views. The more we seek to complicate the wonderful legacy of Jesus the greater risk we have of failing to walk in his shoes as the great fisherman for humanity he remains.  
 

Wednesday, January 3

Rays of sunshine


On January 2, 2018 – we reached Earth’s closest point to the sun for this entire year at 11:35 p.m. CST (central U.S.). It occurred the morning January 3 for Europe and Africa … later in the day for us at 3.30pm down under.

Whilst the longer days are relevant to the closer proximity of the earth to the sun our longest days are two weeks earlier in December.  Hence although the Earth is closest to the Sun presently (said to be its Perihelion) we have a December Solstice.   When the Sun is furthest away (called the Aphelion) that event is 2 weeks after the June Solstice.

The reason for this is principally the moon and planets interact  with both the Earth and the Sun at the same time, being drawn by the additional gravitational effect of the Sun.

Interestingly enough from the 1970’s US Astronauts and probes have also revealed the moons recessionary rate = 3.8 centimetres per year as it gradually moves further way from the earth. In the far far off future our days might conceivably stretch out to be a thousand hours.

But for the present a warm welcome to 2018 from Melbourne where it is foceast to be 42 today with a gusty northerly. Prior to today it has been it has been remarkably cool. During December we continued to enjoy early morning showers and bouts of heavy downpours.  Amazingly we have just had one of our wettest Decembers with a third of annual rainfall falling just in December. The green landscape this year contrasts with the words of Wheelers Christmas Carol where we sing “The north wind tosses the leaves as the grass in the paddock is brown”.

Thursday, December 21

Catalan and similarities to past WA succession proposals

In Australia West Australians have been reported to have some sympathy for Catlin separatists as distinct from those in other states.  A brief history of both regions is helpful in demonstrate similarities. In the case of the Catalonians they no doubt rally around their countries past when Spain was the leading powerhouse of Europe during the 16thand mostly the 17th century. However in the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into decline, surrendering territories to France and the Netherlands; with a diminished but still vast overseas empire until the beginning of the 19th century. The 20th century brought little peace. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, led by General Francisco Franco and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

It was only after a peaceful transition to democracy following the death of the dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, that economic and modernization proceeded. In 1986 Spain joined the European Economic Community, which became the European Union. Some would say this move was premature since it was still recovering from her dictatorship past. The country subsequently borrowed large amounts at low rates of interest and clocked up deficits accompanied by some reckless lending. What the Catalonians say is this reckless behaviour didn’t apply to them. The end result for Spain following the GFC was to expose Spain’s fragile position and to enter a severe economic recession from 2008.  The austerity measures have led to one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.

Against this backdrop it is hardly surprising old loyalties by Catalonians boiled over in a desire to form a separate sovereign state. Catalonians claim they disproportionally contribute to the economic pie whilst receiving lower returns from the central government and were not responsible for the economic mess.   

But Secessionism was also on the minds of Western Australians just after British settlement in 1829 who raised the same sort of arguments.   Petitions emanating from the WA Legislative Council were presented to London in 1865 and 1869. This was granted in 1870 but maintained a Governor's veto.

1933 referendum
On 8 April 1933 a referendum on secession was held in conjunction with the State parliamentary election. The Nationalists campaigned in favour of secession while the Labor party had campaigned against breaking from the Federation. 68% of the voters voted in favour of secession, but remarkably at the same time the Nationalists were voted out of office. It was only the mining areas, populated by keen Federalists, voted against the move. Today some west Australians feel they disproportionally contribute to Australia’s wealth because of mining but get back unfairly a diminished proportion of GST. Past history indicates just how close they came to secession.
 
 
 

Friday, December 8

Understanding Cryptocurrencies and Block Chain technology.


Jamie Diamond caused a stir in September when he claimed bitcoin as a fraud although he did commend the block chain technology which facilitates not only the use of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but has many other applications. 

Block chain is regarded by many as a brilliant technology which will revolutionise the way business is conducted.

Someone asked me yesterday at a luncheon celebrated with former workmates how to explain it and although I am no expert here is how I would attempt a simple explanation.
Maybe the first thing you need to understand is how the age old universally accepted Double Entry Accounting concepts work. In a nutshell the principle of double entry recognises the reality there is always two sides to every transaction, so there is always a seller and a buyer, a receipt to add to one account and a corresponding reduction in another’s indebtedness and so on. 
Now replace that double entry principle with double entry block chain accounting.  That’s because block chain accounting at the outset facilitates transactions between two pairs, a buyer and a seller or a receipt and payment or one virtual wallet increasing whilst another deceases. It happens virtually instantaneously because those in the encrypted chain using cryptocurrencies to record the transactional effects at the same time. Think of it as giant ledger in cyber space where all the debits equal to the credits of the linked parties from the aggregate of parties’ transactions at any given time in the block chain.
The final seal of approval has led some to try and distinguish the process from double entry accounting by call this the third entry. 
  
Parties hold the Cryptocurrencies in so called wallets and the largest of these is Bitcoin.
Hence, there is no need for 3rd party clearing houses or back office staff to facilitate large numbers of bundled same type transactions for subsequent settlements which mostly occurs to day.  


What is mining Bitcoin ? Mining can be carried out by anyone who has invested in a very powerful fast computer, has the capacity to pay for the large energy bills and has a penchant or talent to solve puzzles. The system was predicated on the basis of each batch of transactional  data is encrypted by a formula that can only be unlocked after a  massive scale of trial and error guesses. As the first miners solve the puzzle, the answer is verified by others, so that the data is added to an existing linked chain of blocks of data. The miner in return  receives newly issued Bitcoin. One of the criticisms of the system is it uses up a lot of electricity.    


I think financial institutions will eventually begin to use more of the Block chain technology which will mean the adoption of either a digital cryptocurrency or a similar substituted means to do that. After all cryptocurrencies are no more than bits of code. But eventually such facilities will have to have some form of regulation for what it is as an alternative more efficient system of settling business transactions. But even given eventual regulation not everyone is going to be happy trusting in the integrity of a new technology and we all will have to have a new breed of technologically savvy auditors to check the integrity of the Block chain providers. 
In relation to Bitcoin there are currently several Hedge Funds which have bought large holdings which of course have gone up exponentially due to the rapid rise in this Cryptocurrency. Such rises are underpinned by pure speculation as no one can put a value on this Cryptocurrency which is responding to a rapid demand when there is currently only a limited supply.

But Cryptocurrencies are no different to traditional currencies which appreciate or depreciate according to supply and demand.   But the important distinction of course is currently they are unregulated by any central banks and have attracted criminal activity as it is much harder to ascertain transactional records.

The question of trading in Bit Coin is facilitated by on line platforms such as Coinbase which provides a market. The facility allows for buying, selling or transfer of digital currency between online wallets involving merchants or individuals. Currently the facility is free of charges and such facilitators claim they provide both security and backups.
Nevertheless there has already been some bogus websites where the holdings of digital currencies have vaporised without trace.  Since the arrival of Cryptocurrencies more than one billion has been stolen from wallets. 

On the question of Bitcoin being a bubble set to burst that in turn depends more on whether or not merchants will continue to accept them. Microsoft and Pay Pal already accept Bitcoin under their platforms.

The total size of the traditional market dwarfs that of the Cryptocurrencies suggesting it may well have further to run. But when it finally crashes don’t rule out another version rising from the ashes.