Damien Birkinhead of Australia finishes 10th in Rio Olympics shot put final

Finished 10th: Damien Birkenhead. Photo: Glenn HuntRio de Janeiro:  Australian Damien Birkinhead says nerves may have got the better of him in the Olympic shot put final.
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Birkinhead was eliminated after failing to make the top eight following three throws.

The Victorian’s best attempt of 20.45m left him outside the positions to advance to the last three throws. Birkinhead, 23, was unable to match his best effort from qualifying earlier in the day of 20.50m, and finished 10th in the 12-man final.

The US had a quinella with Ryan Crouser’s reaching an Olympic record of 22.52m to earn gold, with compatriot Joe Kovacs (21.78m) second.  New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh won bronze with a best effort of 21.36m. With the crowd behind him, Brazilian Darlan Romani threw a national record of 21.02m to come fifth.

Birkinhead’s first throw was his best of the final as he fouled his second and could muster just 20.02m with his third.

He though the occasion might have played a part in his performance.

“I felt pretty confident [after the first throw]. I was really looking forward to the next two throws, and I don’t know [what happened],” Birkinhead said.

“[I was] a little bit nervous and maybe rushed a few things.

“As you can imagine. People are throwing 22 metres and 21 metres. I obviously tried to throw harder and it didn’t work out for me.”

Still the Australian thought he could take plenty from the experience.

“[It was] pretty unreal. A much bigger crowd than this morning, and much louder as a result.

“It’s exciting times.”

He will also gain confidence from making the final on his Olympic debut.

“I’ve got what it takes to hopefully get up with them in the next couple of years. I’m looking forward to the next comps.

“Hopefully I’ve got another 10 years in me.”

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Australian decathlete Cedric Dubler nearly hurts cameramen during javelin throw

Australia’s Cedric Dubler makes an attempt in the javelin throw. Photo: Matt DunhamRio de Janeiro:  Cedric Dubler isn’t the first Australian athlete to apologise during these Olympics, but his reason for doing so is probably the most unusual.
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The decathlete’s Olympic debut took an unfortunate turn on Thursday night when during the penultimate event of his competition – the javelin – Dubler’s second throw went askew and nearly struck a cameraman.

“He nearly took out some cameramen here, I’m not even joking,” 2008 Olympic pole vault medallist Steve Hooker said on Channel Seven’s coverage.

“You can see there in the background a few cameramen are congratulating each other on still being alive.”

Dubler was distressed in the immediate aftermath, but could see the funny side of the incident come night’s end

“It didn’t go as planned,” Dubler said of his throw.

“My body was starting to shut down. I don’t know what happened. The tail sort of hit the ground, it sort of spun out and almost hit a cameraman. So a little bit embarrassing, but I apologised to him and he was good.”

Dubler recovered well, finishing strongly by running a personal best of 4:32.12 in his 1500m heat, and ended up 14th in the field with 8024 points.

American world record-holder Ashton Eaton defended his crown from London four years ago, taking gold with an Olympic record 8893 points. Frenchman Kevin Mayer (8834) won silver, while Canada’s Damian Warner (8666) took bronze.

Dubler, 21, said he was proud with the way his competition wrapped up.

“We had a little bit of time to go back…put the headphones on, have a bit of a massage just to try and get the body moving a little bit. I guess that time allowed me to focus on what I needed to do, reset the goals and focus on what I needed to do in the 1500,” he said.

“I needed 4:35 to break the 8000 point barrier. After a few of the events didn’t go quite right I had to sort of readjust the goals so 8000 became the goal for the competition.”

He said that overall his Games had been a relative success.

“I’ve learnt a lot. Some of the events didn’t go quite as planned but I was pretty happy with how I was able to re-focus on certain events.

“Overall I’m very happy with the experience of the competition, and I’m very happy with how myself and all the other decathletes have gotten along.

“I’m excited to go back, go back to the drawing board, see what we can improve on with an even better result.”

He also said his preparation had been compromised by a transport delay following day one of the two-day event.

“I didn’t pull up from day one as well as I would have liked to. We had a little bit of a wait for the bus after the competition,” he said.

“I didn’t actually get to sleep until 1am, and I had to be up at 5:15.

“It was an 18-hour day yesterday.”

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Rio Olympics 2016: Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova forge Boomers success at AIS

Patty Mills in the centre at the front and Matthew Dellavedova at the back on the far right during their days at the AIS. Photo: AISBefore they were NBA millionaires or Olympic Games medal contenders, the Australian Boomers were schoolkids at the AIS in Canberra trying to kick-start their careers.
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But the man who helped shaped Australia’s golden generation of basketballers, Marty Clarke, says the groundwork on campus at the AIS has set them up to chase an historic medal.

Ten of the 12 Boomers at the Rio Olympics went through the AIS program that Clarke played a major role in from 1998 to 2010.

Canberra star Patrick Mills was initially overlooked for an AIS basketball scholarship in 2005 and was only included in the program when Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury instead chose the AFL.

Mills then handed the AIS captaincy to Matthew Dellavedova and now they’re both NBA champions with the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers respectively.

Add to that Andrew Bogut, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes and David Andersen and the nucleus of the Boomers side has its roots in the capital.

So if anyone knows if the Boomers can break through for their first Olympic medal, it’s Clarke.

“Those main guys are going back for a second and third time, so this year and the next one are huge windows of opportunity for Australian basketball,” Clarke said.

“They have proved that they’re there not to participate, they’re there to win. And they’re doing a great job of it.”

The Boomers have drawn accolades from all corners of the world after their stellar run at the Olympics, including pushing powerhouse the United States and beating Lithuania in the quarter-finals.

They play Serbia on Saturday morning with the winner to advance to the gold-medal match and the loser to play for bronze.

Australia’s style has been punctuated by an electric offence and hard defence, and Dellavedova attributed the combinations they’re executing to their formative years training and playing together at the AIS.

Clarke said their friendships and bond on the court were “the most important thing” and it was the one area where Australia are better than the rest of the word.

“Our willingness to do what is good for the group rather than what’s best for the person. That was something we worked on every single day; we met about it, we talked about it, we worked through it every day.

“Because most of these guys are institute players they have had that drilled into them from a young age and hopefully they have remembered it.”

NBA champion centre Bogut has led the way with his trademark aggression and been vocal in his determination to take on the world.

Before the Boomers played the US he criticised other teams for overly idolising the Dream Team.

“Teams who ask the Americans to autograph their shoes are beaten before the game begins,” Bogut said. “But that’s not us and we think we can win.”

Clarke said it is this attitude and team-first mentality that sets the Boomers apart.

“You need to take that approach because otherwise you end up getting the autograph and that’s not what you go for,” he said.

“It’s always been my philosophy of Australian basketball, that’s our competitive advantage; it’s not going to be size, it’s not going to be in the athleticism.

“We’ve made great strides in skill and when you do that and you’ve got your base of great teammates, now they have a real chance in being able to compete with the rest of the world.”

He said the professionalism ingrained in the players through the AIS, combined with the friendships forged, underline both the sudden success of the Boomers but also the championship-winning contributions in the NBA.

“We used to play probably 30 to 35 international games a year against men, and then they would play their junior stuff as well,” Clarke said.

“I know things change and that’s just the nature of the beast, but when these guys were at the institute they were getting significant international competition against men, they were playing domestically against men, and they were practicing every day against really good players.

“They had great facilities, all the support and infrastructure around the institute, nutrition, psychology, bio-mechanics, skill acquisition, all the bits and pieces that go in to making a professional athlete.

“It’s hard work, but 10 years down the track for some of them and it’s really shown some benefits.”

One corner of the globe where the success of the Boomers is no surprise is St Mary’s College in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Clarke is an assistant coach.

The NCAA Division I basketball college is intimately connected with Australian basketball, having been home to many players and coaches from Down Under, most notably Dellavedova and Mills.

OLYMPIC GAMES MEN’S SEMI-FINALS

Saturday: Australia v Serbia, 8am.

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Bondi Fitness First personal trainer Lee Clark gets five years for dealing drugs

Lee Clark was a mid-level drug dealer while working as a personal trainer at Fitness First. Photo: SuppliedAfter a Sydney personal trainer was declared bankrupt, he decided to roll the dice and live a double life.
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Lee Clark, 43, who worked at Fitness First Bondi Platinum gym, was running a sophisticated criminal side business out of his Randwick apartment and a Paddington garage.

A day before his arrest Clark was recorded saying: “I could end up in a prison cell, you know? It’s not like, it’s not all peaches and cream, but you know?”

Clark was not only selling cocaine, ecstasy and steroids to clients himself but also employed five other people to run drugs for him.

He prepared the drugs for sale by cutting the cocaine with other substances, placing MDMA into capsules, weighing and placing the cocaine into plastic bags for distribution and packaging the steroids in vials for sale.

On Friday, Clark was sentenced to a minimum five-year jail term in the NSW District Court.

In a conversation recorded by police, Clark spoke to an associate about how much cocaine he was selling.

“I have five people working for me as well. Yeah I give them, I give them each week about forty bags. They make eighty, ninety bucks on one, I make a hundred.

“I just paid two fifty for a kilo of coke and still got one twenty in a safety deposit, just sits there doing nothing you know what I mean? If someone raided me now they’d find nothing. Find about, probably five, six bags, that’s it.”

But police found a whole lot more when they raided his unit, a garage and a safety deposit box he had registered in someone else’s name on March 26, 2014.

Police found $143,980 in cash, 417 grams of cocaine, 402 grams of MDMA and nearly 60 kilograms of steroids.

In the Paddington garage officers also found a hydraulic pill press, a booklet titled Cocaine Handbook, a set of electronic scales, various sizes of plastic bags, a Sunbeam Foodsaver vacuum packager and 563.9 grams of lignocaine – a substance commonly used to cut cocaine for supply.

Court documents obtained by Fairfax Media outline how Clark met one Commonwealth Bank employee three times in seven days, selling him a total of 10 grams of cocaine.

Just hours before his arrest, Clark met the Commonwealth Bank employee known as the “Irish guy” and sold him six grams of cocaine at the Rose Bay Caltex Service station.

After the sale, police record Clark talking to an associate about how much cocaine he sells the “Irish guy”.

Clark: “Irish guy, f—ing, I don’t know how he’s still alive. And him alone uses for himself at least ten bags a week … ten to fifteen. He just got six off me now.”

Associate: “Aren’t you worried that if something happens to the guy it’s going to come back to you? If he dies?”

Clark: “Mate, he holds a job down, he works at Commonwealth Bank. What would they do, go through his phone, if they see a dodgy number, that phone gets thrown away.”

During his sentencing remarks on Friday, Judge Andrew Scotting​ took into account Clark’s guilty plea and noted he suffered from depression and drug and gambling addictions at the time of the offences.

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Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer releases bizarre ‘motivational video’

A stills from the motivational video posted by controversial Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer. Photo: YouTube A shot from al video posted by Salim Mehajer. Photo: YouTube
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In times of crisis, one must seize control of the narrative.

With three apprehend violence orders against him, several court battles to fight, his marriage broken down and a public inquiry into the local council he used to lead, controversial Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer has released his own inspirational video.

Published on his Facebook page overnight, Dream – Motivational Video features stirring music, a rousing narration,  plenty of slow motion and stock footage, and the word “dream” over and over again.

“Do you dream of being successful? Do you think you will ever make it to the top? Do you dream of becoming an inspiration to millions of people out there? Or are you just one of them?” the narrator asks over shots of a blue-suited Mr Mehajer stepping out of his  white Ferrari and walking through a crowd of people.

“Well let me tell you … if you don’t dream … then you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

A climatic moment in the two-and-a-half minute YouTube clip comes when a latte-sipping older woman reads a newspaper headline about Mr Mehajer before looking at him, shaking her head and walking away.

“Not everyone will like you. Some people will try to put you down. They will discredit you. They will back stab you,” the narrator says, before Mr Mehajer chases after the woman to return her lost mobile phone.

“Just be yourself, stay genuine, and dream.”

The clip is directed by Manuel Abdo, whose True Dreams Media company was also behind Mr Mehajer’s now infamous pre-wedding video.

It was the extravagant wedding, which shut down a public street with helicopters and a cavalcade of luxury cars, that threw Mr Mehajer, then deputy mayor of Auburn Council, into the headlines.

It also drew the spotlight onto Auburn Council, which was ultimately sacked and is now the subject of a public inquiry.

Mr Mehajer’s latest video appears to be only the start of his video ambitions. On his Facebook page he wrote that the clip was just a teaser trailer with a “full episode” to be released on October 21.

But it seems Mr Mehajer might first be the unwitting star of another video.

Television show A Current Affair has been running promo advertisements featuring a video of Mr Salim losing his temper during a telephone call.

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Man shot at in car keeps driving to bowling club for help

A man who was shot multiple times while driving in Sydney’s south west pulled into a popular bowling club in the next suburb looking for help.
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Detective Inspector Stuart Cadden said the 35-year-old man was driving with two passengers along Edensor Road in Cabramatta West when the car was sprayed with bullets on Saturday night.

“There’s three fellows in a car driving along. A car has pulled up alongside them and from the passenger window a number of shots have been fired,” Inspector Cadden said.

The man was shot in the upper legs and lower body, and kept driving until he reached St Johns Park Bowling Club in the neighbouring suburb.

Emergency services were called to reports of a man shot in the stomach and bleeding in the club’s foyer just after 10.20pm, and he was taken to hospital in a serious condition. The man’s two male passengers were not injured.

Inspector Cadden said police were following a “number of lines of inquiry” but there there was no “immediate indication” of what, if anything, triggered the shooting.

Asked if road rage could have been behind the shooting, Inspector Cadden said: “we don’t have anything at all to indicate that at this stage.”

Police have spoken to the man in hospital, but he has not yet been formally interviewed as he was due to undergo surgery on Sunday.

Channel Seven reported on Sunday night that there was an incident at the hospital as the man’s family members tried to gain access to him.

“As a precaution, there was extra security for the safety of patients and staff,” a NSW Health spokeswoman said.

Inspector Cadden said the injured man’s two passengers were co-operating with the police investigation, and had both made statements.

“I don’t know why but he kept driving. He was going west and he kept going west. I guess it’s really the first thing you come to. There’s a 7/11 and the bowling club,” Inspector Cadden said.

“He’s probably taken his bets there would be security there and help for him there.”

On Sunday morning, a manager at St Johns Park Bowling Club said it was business as usual and there were no signs of any disturbance in the foyer.

On Sunday night, the man was listed as being in a stable condition. */]]>

With Josh Dye

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Sydney weather: cold snap brings rain and temperature drops for the end of winter

Sydney wet weather in August this year. Photo by Edwina Pickles. Photo: Edwina PicklesSydney can expect wet conditions this week as we enter the final weeks of winter.
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Rain is expected to fall all week, after last week’s first glimpse of spring was felt with sunshine and balmy weather in the mid 20s.

But, heavy rain this week will remind us that winter is still very much here.

The rain is expected to start on Monday, with up to five millimetres forecast to drop in the late afternoon with more of the same on Tuesday. This is expected to increase throughout the week, with Wednesday forecast to be the wettest day with up to 35 millimetres expected, combined with strong winds.

The wet weather is expected to ease on Thursday and Friday with a max of five millimetres of rain expected on both days, in time for the weekend which is forecast to be rain-free.

With the wet weather will come colder nights, as temperatures dip to overnight minimums below 10 degrees near the coast and five degrees in the west.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Mohammed Nabi said maximum day temperatures would remain near average for this time of year between 17 and 19 degrees.

He said another cold front was expected early next week. “It won’t be as strong as Wednesday’s cold front,” he said.

The expected front will signal the official end of winter, but Mr Nabi said cooler days were still expected in Sydney until October.

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Sara Connor and David Taylor join long tradition of Byron Bay media obsessions

Sara Connor travelled to Bali to meet up with David Taylor, friends say. Photo: Supplied David Taylor being interrogated by Bali police on Saturday. Photo: Supplied
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Sara Connor after a physical examination at Trijata police hospital in Denpasar. Photo: Amilia Rose

 Saturday evening in Byron Bay’s main street and a lone guitarist is making like Santana for the coins of passersby outside the Patagonia shop.

The 6pm news had just told the town one of their women had been charged with murder. So too had her friend, an Englishman.

“Play some sad song for Sara,” a local shouted across Jonson Street to the player.

A lot of people know Sara Connor, 45. She is the woman who has the pasta-making business in town and two little boys at Byron Bay Primary School.

Few know her friend, David Taylor, 35. But many heard him on the local radio station, BayFM 99.9, through his Thursday night show First Bass, a program of “phat funky fresh beats and some booty bouncing breaks”.

Until the killing in Bali, hardly anyone around town even knew they were an item.

Perhaps the only hint surfaced on August 3, when Taylor interrupted his usual stream of consciousness thoughts on dub music to post a coy Facebook reference to her business, Byron Bay Fresh Pasta, with just five words: “Perfect dinner made with love!”

Now the world has descended on the two lovers.

Bali and Byron are paradises found and sometimes lost. The 2002 bombing, the hangings, Schapelle Corby, schoolies week, shark attacks, Bali and Byron just seem to drive the media into frenzy.

The internet trolls have started. 60 Minutes, the acme of chequebook journalism, is trawling Byron Bay for friends of Connor and Taylor.

Depending on the court outcome, this is a story that will run and run. Australians could be following it for years. As the story erupted on Saturday, a Byron Bay marketing consultant Sarah Mulvin moved in to handle the story, she said “on behalf the family and the local community”.

“The accusations laid against her are totally out of character for this beautiful person,” a statement issued by Mulvin said.

“All of Byron unite in harmony and wish the world to know that Sara is one of the most generous, fun, honest and loved women in the Byron Bay community. She is incredibly inclusive of everyone, making sure anyone in her company feels nurtured and cared for. She has a huge heart. Her love for her boys is the biggest love in her life. She is very passionate about life and exudes enthusiasm wherever she goes.”

Sara Connor moved into the Byron area with her new husband after they met roving the world in the late 1990s.

Twig Connor, a knockabout surfer dog cum barman/ manager from the Tweed Coast, had long dropped his Christian name Anthony, – preferring to answer to the nickname bestowed upon him by surf mates during his early teen years – when he met Sara Pistidda.

She had left northern Italy and headed for London where she shared a house with Connor. They poured beer at various pubs and clubs and ended up working together at the Southside Bar, a DJ nightclub/bar in Covent Garden. He managed, she collected glasses.

A Swedish-born friend, now residing north of Byron, lived with the couple in London.

“Sarah is my surrogate big sister,” she says. “I’ve never met anyone so kind, so gentle, all she wants to do is mother everybody. It’s inconceivable what’s happened,” she says.

Twig Connor and Sara Pistidda married in London and he took her home to northern NSW. They moved into an idyllic farmhouse secreted in the cane fields besides the Clarence River outside Yamba. They married there.

Two boys, Noah and Eli, arrived. The family moved to Berlin for a year or so and then returned to Australia, moving into a house on the northern outskirts of Byron Bay.

In 2013 Sara Connor got a half arm tattoo and a job as a cleaner at the nearby Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge. Older, better organised and overflowing with personal warmth, management saw her value and put her on the front desk.

But the marriage had started to sour and she moved out to a house nearer the backpackers lodge.

But with the two boys at school, coupled with the cost of living in Byron, Sara Connor in 2014 thought up a way of making money on the side: she returned to the old marital home so she could start a pasta -making business in the twin-door garage supplying local restaurants and food outlets.

“Pasta was her passion and her heritage,” a fellow worker said.

She quickly became a leading member of Byron’s happy tribe of workers who service the tourist trade but still manage to live the life laid back. And in the Byron way of kindness, she sometimes offered a spare room or tent space to backpackers she took a shine too.

A couple of dub music dudes moved in and she started to hang with the crew who play reggae at the Beach Hotel every Monday.

David Taylor was born in Halifax, England, in 1982; He has travelled the world for the last 15 years, working as a disc jockey under the name DJ Nuts. After temporary visits, he settled in Byron By in 2014.

His last program on BayFM was on July 22. He reportedly left Australia because his visa had expired, or was about to.

Sara Connor followed Taylor to Bali. Her sons were left in the care of Twig Connor.

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Woolworths to scrap Woolworths Dollars in rewards program revamp, leaked document shows

Woolworths Reward Card. Photo: Delyse Phillips A leaked copy of a Woolworths Rewards Support Guide sent to store managers. Photo: Supplied
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Woolworths customers have complained about the current loyalty scheme, saying it is too hard to earn Woolworths Dollars. Photo: Brendon Thorne

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Orange tickets begone? Woolworths appears set to relaunch its rewards program and scrap the “Woolworths Dollars” feature that has confused and frustrated shoppers for the past 10 months.

A leaked, confidential document sent to Woolworths store managers around the country and seen by Fairfax Media, indicates customers will no longer have to buy hard-to-find, orange-ticketed products to earn “Woolworths Dollars”.

From Wednesday, August 31, customers will be able to earn one point for every $1 spent at Woolworths supermarkets as well as Caltex petrol stations and BWS liquor stores, it says.

There’s more news in the document for Qantas frequent flyer point collectors, who successfully fought for Woolworths to reverse its decision to cut ties with the airline.

Under the yet-to-be-launched scheme, members can convert 2000 points into $10 Woolworths Rewards dollars, which can be traded in for 870 Qantas frequent flyer points.

They can also use $10 Woolworths Rewards dollars to instantly shave $10 off their grocery bill at the checkout.

“We’ve been listening closely to customer feedback about how we can improve Woolworths Rewards,” the confidential “support guide” document reads.

“We’re making significant improvements to the program and with your help, we know we can win the hearts and minds of our loyal customers!”

David Flynn, editor of Australian Business Travellerwhich broke the story, said the new scheme wasn’t all good news.

“Unfortunately, under the new scheme it’ll cost almost twice as much to earn the same number of Qantas Points compared to the long-running program which Woolworths axed in December 2015,” he said.

“You’ll need to spend around $2000 to earn 870 Qantas Points, and you’ll need 16,000 points for a return economy ticket between Sydney and Melbourne. So if you want to spend almost $40,000 on groceries to get a free flight, go right ahead.”

The current Woolworths Rewards program was launched in October 2015. The general response has been lacklustre, with thousands of customers hitting the phones to complain it was too hard to earn Woolworths dollars, which amount to deductions on future shops.

One influential supplier said the cost of the present scheme did not stack up next to the cost of regular promotions, and as a result he did not participate.

Adam Posner, chief executive of strategic loyalty consultancy Directivity, said Woolworths’ initial decision to remove Qantas frequent flyer points was a “big error”.

“Also, the program was too complicated with different stickers for different specials and orange stickers for the program and products that rewards were being allocated to were far too few and so many members were spending a lot for little or no rewards,” he said.

“The power of social media also knocked them about, as once members felt they were not getting any rewards for their spend, the noise became very loud.”

His latest research found changes in program structures, such as Woolworths’ one, was the second biggest reason for defection after not earning rewards fast enough.

The research shows Coles’ flybuys program retained first place in the top 10 unprompted most mentioned programs as “doing a very good job”, at 36 per cent, increasing its lead over the Woolworths scheme, at 9 per cent.

Qantas Frequent Flyer remained in third place since the first study in 2013.

A separate survey of 2300 supermarket shoppers by research firm Canstar in June found the average spend per visit was $133.

“This was consistent across each state. Based on a spend of $133, Woolworths’ original Everyday Rewards program would have returned 103 frequent Flyer points,” said Canstar’s Justine Davies.

“Under the new system, a $133 spend would return 58 Frequent Flyer points.”

The leaked document says Woolworths intends to kickstart the new scheme with a series of “double point” offers between the launch date and December, starting with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and behind-the-counter deli and seafood.

Customers will earn points in Caltex Woolworths service stations, but not at Star Mart and Star Shop, it says.

“This is on top of the 4 cents per litre fuel discount they receive when they spend $30 or more in a supermarket,” the document reads.

“There is no action or negative impact for members – all Woolworths Dollars will be automatically transferred to points on the 31st August 2016.”

A Woolworths spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm or deny the details in the leaked document.

“We won’t comment on speculation but we have said for some time that we would make improvements to the program and include a partnership with Qantas,” she said.

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Mamak fined almost $300,000 for short-changing workers

The operators of Mamak have been fined almost $300,000 for under-paying staff. Photo: Jennifer Soo An Ombudsman investigation found six employees at the popular inner Sydney restaurant were collectively underpaid more than $87,000. Photo: Supplied
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Mamak attracts large crowds, but has not escaped the attention of the Fair Work Ombudsman. Photo: Supplied

People queuing up to enter Mamak restaurant in Haymarket. Photo: James Brickwood

The operators of Mamak Malaysian restaurant in Haymarket have been fined almost $300,000 for paying workers as little as $11 an hour.

Federal Circuit Court Judge Justin Smith found the Goulburn Street restaurant had deliberately ignored its workplace obligations “to maximise profit”.

The Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against the popular inner Sydney restaurant which relied on informal market research to set wages.

An Ombudsman investigation found six employees, including five visa holders from non-English speaking backgrounds, were collectively underpaid more than $87,000. They were paid as little as $11 an hour between February 2012 and April 2015.

Restaurant owner-operators Joon Hoe Lee, Julian Lee and Alan Wing-Keung Au were each fined around $36,000. Their company Mamak Pty Ltd was penalised $184,960.

Judge Smith on Friday found the underpayments came from informal research based on what other restaurants were paying staff.

“They discovered that there were three approaches – the first were the star-rated restaurants which paid according to the Award, the second were medium restaurants that followed the Award half the time and the third included small restaurants that just paid illegal rates,” Judge Smith said.

“Mamak took the third approach. The fact that there are many restaurants in the industry that do not comply with their legal obligations does not exculpate the respondents in any way.”

Judge Smith said the restaurant deliberately chose to ignore salary award rates to maximise profit.

“That approach, of course, was taken at the cost of the employees, who in reality, funded the success of the business,” he said.

“Not only did the respondents know that the employees were being paid less than their legal entitlements, but they also knew that their records were not kept in accordance with the law.”

The Haymarket restaurant and Mamak Malaysian restaurants in Chatswood and the Melbourne CBD and a food preparation factory at Marrickville will be audited until the end of the year.

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James said researching “black market wage rates in an industry is not the way to determine how to pay your staff”.

“Minimum wage rates apply to everyone in Australia – including visa holders – and they are not negotiable,” she said.

“While I understand there are cultural challenges and vastly different laws in other parts of the world, it is incumbent on all businesses operating in Australia to understand and apply Australian laws.”

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Apprenticeships can improve mental health

Will Gulliford, Tom Gulliford and Matt Ventrella have all been taken on as apprentices with Hutchinson Builders. Photo: James Brickwood Will Gulliford, Tom Gulliford and Matt Ventrella. All three have taken on Apprenticeships with Hutchinson Builders. Photo: James Brickwood
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Andrew Gulliford is a site manager at Hutchinson. Photo: James Brickwood

 

An apprenticeship provided Hutchinson Builders site supervisor Andrew Gulliford with more than just a job.

It gave him quality training, mentoring, skills and a trade. It also gave him and other apprentices self-worth and purpose.

“The company invested a lot of time and effort into me,” he says.

Mr Gulliford now wants new apprentices, including his sons Will and Tom, to have the same quality training and life opportunities he was given.

“You are giving them a purpose in life,” Mr Gulliford said.

New University of Sydney research has found that quality apprenticeships can provide valuable social support and improve the mental health of young people making the transition from school to work.

The study showed how the workplace can play an important role in supporting mental health and wellbeing, beyond medications and therapy.

“Social structures of support are a vital third element in any mental health care and prevention regime,” it says.

Quality of training and mentoring can also boost apprenticeship completion rates which are as low as 50 per cent in Australia.

Study leader Professor John Buchanan said companies that provide quality training and mentoring have completion rates as high as 90 per cent.

The study Beyond mentoring: social support structures for young Australian carpentry apprentices looked at the best apprenticeship training schemes in the Australian carpentry trade and found work-based mentoring and social support could help prevent mental health problems, or detect them early. The study included small businesses and larger companies including Hutchinson Builders, Fairbrother Pty Ltd, Barangaroo Skills Exchange and East Coast Apprenticeships.

Professor Buchanan said many young people battle with mental health problems long before they are finally detected.

“The right support can prevent a lot of problems from happening. Or if you can’t prevent them, you have early warning systems that allow intervention before things spiral out of control,” he said.

“Among mental health experts is it widely recognised that the next big breakthrough for mental health isn’t going to come from drugs and one-on-one counselling, it is going to come from better social structures and support.”

The study quoted an experienced carpenter and now supervisor with Lend Lease at Barangaroo saying: “I came from Coffs Harbour originally … I dropped out of school there in year 10 and became a mischievous street kid … I moved to Sydney to work in a labouring job my uncle found for me … but it fell through … I’d just turned 18 and wanted to party with my mates. Sydney has so many openings with clubs, the Cross … too many distractions … without them, I’d have been lost.”

The research found that quality apprenticeships were not something that could be simply “added on” as a separate program. Quality on-the-job learning and informal and peer-based mentoring was found to be more effective.

“An effective social structure support isn’t something you bolt onto the side of something,” Professor Buchanan said. “When you look at the apprenticeship system the things that really provide the support are not the arrangements that are funded by the Commonwealth Government. It is the quality of the day-in-day-out arrangements that merge skill development and personal development.

“When people turned up on the job people took notice of them and respected them and listened to their requests for help, offered insights in how to become more competent on the job and if problems emerged, helped them solve them. They felt safe to ask for guidance.”

Professor Buchanan said apprenticeships were most effective in workplaces that provided on-and-off-the-job training and enough time for skills to be learned gradually.

Will Gulliford, 20, from Narrabeen is six months into a four-year apprenticeship with Hutchinsons and is one of seven apprentices. He hopes to become a site manager like his father and said he socialises with some of the other apprentices. He said older workers are always willing to help him learn the trade.

“They know you are a new person on the job. They always help you out,” he said.

Fourth-year apprentice Matt Ventrella, 19, from Picnic Point said he was given a variety of roles and hopes to become a site or contract manager.

“We are all very close in Hutchies. If I want to do something, I’m not shy to ask. They are very helpful and willing to give you a go.

“I think doing an apprenticeship is very good for your confidence.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Shares Race Week One: Profit results heat up competition

The AFR’s Phil Baker and Money’s Caitlin Fitzsimmons have created a commanding lead. Photo: SuppliedProfit reporting season is a nail-biting time for companies and investors, as our Shares Race players experienced this week.
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Ansell has been one of the stars of reporting season so far. Its shares have risen 12 per cent during the race week – where the All Ordinaries slipped 0.5 per cent – after investors welcomed the potential sale of its condom business to focus on its industrial clothing and protective gloves operations. The stocks sits in the portfolio of second-placed Money editor Caitlin Fitzsimmons.

Ten Network is also a strong performer off the blocks for Fitzsimmons, a happy accident as she originally picked Technology One but the code TNE was incorrectly input as TEN. Technology One has lost ground.

But it’s Ausdrill that edged out Ansell at the top of the leaderboard, rocketing after the mining services company secured a $157 million contract extension at a mine in Ghana. It has helped lift the Australian Financial Review’s columnist Phil Baker into first spot. Baker has also picked some companies that have impressed in reporting season so far, including Magellan Financial, Orora​ Group and Mirvac Group.

The Shares Race this month features four Money readers, all of whom are trying their hands on some relatively unknown small cap and speculative stocks. The small cap space is traditionally more volatile, so there may be a few shakeups in the leaderboard this month.

A bet on investor relations firm Redchip is a standout among the smaller names and reader Mendy Amzalak’s pick, but some others have disappointed, including Kingston Resources and South Pacific Resources, which have dragged him into last place. South Pacific is the worst performing stock so far, falling around 15 per cent during the Friday to Thursday race week.

Three Money readers will be looking to recoup their losses from the first week, with David Atkinson and Susan V. Miles joining Amzalak in shrinking their initial $100,000 investment after week one.

Company profit season is set to heat up in week two. No doubt the contestants will be eager for their companies yet to report to prove their faith in them right, though with most of Baker’s and Fitzsimmons’ companies already reported, they look hard to beat.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

How to be your own real estate agent: selling your property yourself can save thousands of dollars

Selling your property yourself can save you a bundle. Photo: Frances Mocnik Laboratory manager Marina Tretiach sold her house recently through an online marketplace, bypassing the services of a real estate agent. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
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It’s never been easier to be your own real estate agent.

There are at least a dozen websites that let you sell your property yourself, with fees a tiny fraction of the commissions charged by real estate agents.

Marina Tretiach recently sold her house in Sydney’s Lane Cove through ForSaleByOwner南京夜网419论坛, saving tens of thousands of dollars in agent’s fees.

The laboratory manager was looking to buy another house outside Sydney for more than a year and had attended many auctions.

“I thought to myself that I can do all the things that agents do,” Marina says. “I am really familiar with the area and I know the house and I was sure that I could do as good a job as they could do.”

Marina found the process easy, the website providing a video tutorial on what to do.

The websites appear to be broadly similar in their approach. They have a basic marketing package where online ads are placed on leading real estate websites as well on the sites themselves.

The vendor can add further services and products, such as a “for sale” sign for the front of the property and brochures.

Although all properties are listed with prices, the vendor can opt to go to auction where the website can supply an auctioneer for the day.

The vendor decides whether to have open houses or whether to have private viewings, the vendor handing all the inquiries themselves.

Marina sold her house for the asking price within three weeks of listing.

Her open houses were well attended but one day she received a call from someone who had seen the for-sale sign and wanted to see the house privately. He was the eventual buyer. Save commissions

Paul Heath, the chief executive of BuyMyPlace南京夜网419论坛, says by selling their properties themselves vendors can save a fortune in commissions and marketing costs.

Applying a typical commission of 2.25 per cent to the median Sydney house price equates to a saving of $24,000.

Also, there are some savings on the typical marketing expenses of about 1 per cent, he says.

Heath says private vendors most often still get appraisals from their local real estate agents and go to a lot of auctions and look at what similar properties are fetching.

The websites can provide local sales records.

Colin Sacks, chief executive of ForSaleByOwner, says private vendors need proper support.

“It’s one thing not to use an agent but another not to use an agent and to do it well,” he says. “An agent does bring certain skills to the table and so the question is whether we are able to bring those skills together in an online environment. We provide vendors with a ‘dashboard’ where they will see all the inquiries and whether people are looking at their ads in Domain南京夜网419论坛 and Realestate南京夜网419论坛 and other sites.”

Sacks says most people using his site are paying about $1000, which includes a for-sale board for the front of the property. Agents fight back

Real estate agents are sceptical of claims made by websites that private vendors are routinely achieving higher prices than if they had used an agent.

Michael Harris, the director of Raine & Horne in Sydney’s Newton, has been selling property for 17 years.

“What I am today is not what I was when I started in real estate, which is what your average mum and dad is going to be like,” Harris says. “People do not realise the amount of work that you have to do to sell a house.”

Real estate agent Trudy Biggin, of Biggin & Scott in Melbourne’s Brighton, says a good agent can advise on how the property should be presented to create that “wow” factor.

She says one of the main skills of a good agent is in negotiating with a potential buyer so as to achieve the best price for the vendor.

“If you know that someone really likes the house, the skill is to keep them focused on that house and to pay a premium price,” she says.

Sam Lally, a buyer’s agent at Buyer’s Advocate Australia in Melbourne’s Hawthorn, agrees.

Lally sold real estate before switching to helping buyers and he says you need to know how to talk to potential buyers, what information to get from them and how to qualify them.

In his role as a buyer’s agent, Lally “loves” dealing with vendors directly.

“Some people think their skills in their professional areas of expertise are transferable to property negotiations,” he says.

“Private vendors are often no match for experienced property negotiators, such as buyer’s advocates or agents.

“Vendors who use good agents have a better chance of getting a better price for their property.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.