6 Exciting Adventures You’ll Want to Try This Summer

With the weather warming up, you can save on outdoor fun with a whole host of adventures from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula to Far North Queensland and Western Australia.

Source: 6 Exciting Adventures You’ll Want to Try This Summer

The Real Impact of Proposed FBT Changes on Vehicle Salary Packaging

FBT and car packaging

Prime Minister Rudd announced on 16th July 2013 that the ‘statutory’ method for claiming an FBT (fringe benefit tax) deduction for vehicle expenses, based on the flat rate of 20% of the cost of the car, would no longer be permitted. 

Without the ‘statutory’ method introduced to simplify red tape, FBTers need to use the ‘operational’ method aka the logbook method.

The Rudd government claim a $1.8 billion saving over the next four years, helping pay for the decision to move from the carbon tax to a market based emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Now whilst the details of the announcement are unclear, as ever there are immediate and long-term implications of such an announcement.  Businesses need certainty in policy so they can plan and remain competitive.  Equally, taxpayers deserve the same certainty else, chaos quickly rules the decisions they make with vehicle packaging.

What are the implications of any change?  From my understanding, it is not so good.  Here are some pointers:


The Good

  1. $1.8 billion over 4 years for the government coffers to offset the cost of moving to an ETS.
  2. People living away from the city that rely on the cost effectiveness of vehicle salary packaging will move closer in and thereby reduce the carbon footprint.
  3. It only affects 320,000 people.  Two thirds of which earn over $100 000.
  4. The used car market can expect some growth as ex-leasers switch to retain their income.


The Ugly

  1. Leasing businesses are immediately affected.  Any leases taken up from 16th July 2013 that run into April 2014 are impacted.  Consumers are less likely to take up new leases whilst uncertainty remains.
  2. Leasing companies need to make decisions today.  If there is a substantial fall in new leases in the short term, jobs will be lost.
  3. The share prices of leasing companies fall.  Maxxia saw a 15% fall in its share price on 16th July before its share were put into a trading halt.
  4. Individuals that live in the outer suburbs or away from public transport will lose out unless they can prove ‘business use’ with the logbook method.  The incentive for those that don’t is to up sticks and move back towards the city.
  5. With fewer leases written, the new car market falls.  Up to 80% of all locally made cars are bought by fleets.
  6. With fewer new cars built, there is a predominately negative effect on jobs in the primary and secondary car market (new builds, parts, accessories, components)
  7. An argument put forward by leasing experts suggests a move from leased, new cars to private, used cars.  This affects road safety and increases used car prices.


What are your thoughts on the FBT change?  Do you see any ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’ points not covered here?

By Phil Williams

Inspiring 21st Birthday Gifts for Her

We’ve all been there. Got a 21st birthday gift idea that’s just right for her.  You’re ready to buy and you’re standing there in that store gazing at all the usual stuff that everybody else is buying and your thinking, heck, this is so boring – she deserves more! These presents are all dull! Gimme something different, please, someone, give me some gift ideas that really rock…

Well here we are. I feel your pain.  We are that someone because we know how difficult choosing great presents for her can be. And that is why I chose to start Gifts That Thrill – so that you can find something different with one of our gift experiences that’ll absolutely make their day.

Since 2006, Gifts That Thrill has been about satisfying dreams, inspiring people with unforgettable gift experiences. I truly hope Gifts That Thrill can help you find inspiration in your selection of a 21st birthday gift for her whether it be your sister or friend and for that matter any occasion.  But do let me know if there’s something missing that you’d like included.  I’m all ears.


V8 Hot Laps in Australia

ImageV8 Supercars is the most popular category of touring car racing in Australia. Touring car racing has its roots dating back to 1938 when in Mt Panorama, Bathurst, a public road was first used for motorcycle racing and 9 years later for the Australian Grand Prix.

It was to take until 1967 for the first alternative aspirated 4 cylinder touring car race to be born. Harry Firth and Fred Gibson in a Ford XR Falcon V8 and in the following year with the now legendary Holden Monaro GTS won the race. Even to this day, the Ford versus Holden rivalry continues and is a major aspect of the sport’s appeal.

V8 Supercars are the top end car in the touring calendar. With 650+hp, 5L V8 power, they represent the ultimate in touring cars. Regulations for V8 competitions ensure there is a balance of technical competition and break neck speed vehicles. Speeds are recorded up to 300kph. Racing is nearly always very close with the cars sharing common elements (e.g. differentials and gearboxes) as part of the competition requirements introduced in 2003 as Project Blueprint. This makes for a very close race and no one team dominates the race in the way they have been able to in the past.

V8 Hot Lap events are available for the novice to try out in just about all states of Australia. Don’t expect the crowds of 150,000+ spectators but get ready for an amazing time behind the wheel.

Who’s Bruce?

Ah don’t ya love it? Over the last few months and even longer, Gifts That Thrill received a number of telephone calls and emails from the tour operators it works with. Some operators have provided very insightful information into the workings of a Gifts That Thrill competitor and others have regretfully bowed to the competitor’s wishes, perhaps out of pure fear.

What’s been happening?

Well there’s this chap called Bruce. He works for the competitor. His role appears to be tracking the prices Gifts That Thrill sets for its customers. Gifts That Thrill is super efficient with low overheads, so it passes on its savings with lower prices. It doesn’t advertise too much either. Bruce’s company isn’t so efficient and advertises lots at immense cost, so it cannot afford to offer such deals. Instead it has an elaborate scheme. Each day Bruce looks up the deals that Gifts That Thrill are serving and calls up each operator in turn. He uses his company’s size to suggest to the operator that Gifts That Thrill cease selling at the lower price.

Some operators do contact Gifts That Thrill out of fear of losing out, others do nothing and interestingly, others are now telling our competitor where to get off and are closing their account with them. Good on them we say! Such bully tactics are not good for competition. They certainly do not serve customers. As for Bruce.. well he’s the one that has to live with himself. We’ll keep doing the right things by our customers.

Have you been the target of Bruce-like tactics?

Radical Hot Laps – An alternative to V8 power?

Radical Hot Laps – An alternative to V8 power?

New Technology Saves Time

Technology is changing the world everyday but it is rare that something comes along that frees us from the daily house chores. I found one such technology about a year ago and my wife hasn’t stopped thanking me since and for that I’m truly pleased. Yet somehow as the guy that researches new technology all the time, this one has caused a switch in responsibility that I’m only just beginning to realise.

Enter the robotic vacuum. No not one of those round things that seems to aimlessly bounce around the place for hours and still not clean much at all. This one is super intelligent and does exactly what it says on the tin. The Neato robotic vacuum won some serious awards not so long ago. I managed to track it down in the USA and brought it back to Australia via a large US online retailer. Yes, you know the one.

It was in my hands within a staggering 5 days. How’s that for turnaround?

Unboxed and ready for action, my wife and I watched as this grey box of tricks began to measure the room out with its laser. It then mapped out a path around the house, returning to base only to recharge. It didn’t miss a thing and was particularly careful not to bump into obstacles left throughout the house by our children.

We’ve always kept a clean house with the regular, pull-behind vacuum coming out at least 2 to 3 times per week. However, Neato still managed to collect a tremendous amount of debris. It turns out that it rotates its brush so many more times over the carpet and wooden floor that it is inevitably going to be better at picking up dirt.

Neato is now scheduled to come on at least every other day. It does this automatically when we are all out of the house. Yet the real bonus is the amount of time saved. And time is precious to us. We worked out that we save at least 10 hours per month on cleaning. That’s time that we now spend on other more important things. Plus there’s no noise – we’re not in when the vacuum is on.

Wondering where to find Neato? Check it out on YouTube or visit NeatoRobotics for more information. It’s well worth the money. I only wonder why its not promoted as widely as I feel it should be. 10 hours saved per month makes this an easy buy in my books.

Oh… and you may be wondering what the switch in responsibility is? As the guy that likes new technology, I’m now the one that has to schedule the robot and take it upstairs to clean. So saving time is one thing, but this robot has also changed household responsibilities – not that I ever sat on my backside!

The coming months…

I have made a commitment to blog regularly. I have spent a good part of the past few years trying to get my head around blogging and not really understanding why so many people wish to spend their precious time writing stuff and yet more stuff. After all, isn’t the web just completely full of stuff that nobody will ever want to read… not ever?

I mean stuff about their visit to the park, about that amazing new recipe, what their dog has done today or the ins and outs of IE web standards. Really? I’ve got better things to do like stroke my cat or entertain my children. And let’s face it, most people do have better things to do. The vast majority of regular Joes in this world have never entertained the thought of reading a blog, let alone leaving comments. I was one of those people until recently.

Then came Google shouting its mantra… ‘New and fresh content is good – it helps get your web site in the top positions’. And top positions are good for business. So am I here, writing about stuff because somehow Google will penalise my business if I don’t feed its ever so hungry desire for fresh content?

There is one big problem with the Google message. It’s not hard to see its implications. Whole teams are now organising themselves to create more content than ever before. Indeed, some businesses now exist purely to create stuff for others. The whole World Wide Web is filling up with lots of their useless noise.

Arrgghhh! That’s not me. I’ve decided I’m not going to bow to Google after all. I never have and never will.

Yes, I have my blogging style cheat sheet prepared. My fingers are primed. I plan to blog at least once, twice or three times a month. It will be me blogging – honest. I’ll keep the quality right up there with the best. I only hope you gain from what I have to say. Feel free to write comments and join in the conversation. Let’s make our time together worth shouting about. Until next time… Phil 😉