Jig is up on our outsourced refugee hells in Nauru, Manus Island

Nauru and Manus Island, pictured, have served the Coalition well. Photo: SuppliedNauru and Manus Island have served the Coalition well, right up to the election, but there are ominous signs that the music may stop leaving us without a seat. The Australian government may need a new policy. It’s not a matter entirely within its control.
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In Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced – after a meeting with our Immigration Minister Peter Dutton – that the Australian concentration camp on Manus Island would close. This seemed a surprise to Dutton when he was asked about the plan and the timetable and, for a time, he seemed to imply that this was PNG’s problem, since the men in open-gate durance vile would not be coming to Australia.

That’s the problem with PNG politicians. One can rent the government – as Kevin Rudd did in 2013 – but one can never quite buy them. O’Neill has his own political problems, not least a forthcoming election, and being held to the letter of an old deal is hardly his first priority. Anyway circumstances have changed since his Supreme Court, through our very own Terry Higgins, ruled the arrangements unconstitutional.

Meanwhile the situation on Nauru is, as one commentator put it recently, only a Four Corners report away from being politically or diplomatically unsustainable. An investigation by The Guardian has put out further evidences of great unhappiness at the camp. It is not so much that it is damning (though it is), but it is yet further confirmation that nothing in that hellhole improves.

The Guardian scoop was greeted with the usual sets of official half-denials, bluster, prevarication, obfuscation, claims of exaggeration and arguments that it is an “old story”. There were innuendos of secret and hidden agendas on the part of whistleblowers and the left-Liberal media, especially the ABC. News Ltd did not notice the story, or if it did, think it worthy of even the most minor attention, no doubt helping to prove to Dutton that the non-News Ltd Media are still engaged in jihad against him.

The essential story does not turn on fresh information, as such. But what there is confirms what previous reports, whether from independent outsiders, human rights’ commissions, Amnesty and the UN, and a Senate committee have previously shown – that the system is driving almost everyone there towards suicide, depression and self-harm.

These reports continually suggest indifference on the part of the department and the contractors who carry out the government’s dirty work. The usual pattern is denial, “clarification” with very self-interested (and unconvincing) efforts to minimise or dispute the facts, intimidation of workers and assignment of blame or responsibility to the Nauran government.

But as at least Sam Dastyari, of the Labor Party, seems to have twigged, the Australian public is not that stupid. A clear majority agree that boat people will be stopped only if they are to be denied access to Australia, even if found (as they mostly are) to be genuine refugees. Ministers from the prime minister down continually reiterate it, invariably in a political context during that Labor in power would lack the guts to carry the policy through..

But there is evidence that the public no longer sees everything done with boat people as part of a seamless whole. The policies fit into two categories. One is about boat interception and resettlement, whether on Manus or Nauru. It is shrouded in secrecy and want of accountability, but apparently quite successful.

Then there’s the policy and the practice of effectively punishing the boat people – children and women as much as men – by making their lives as miserable as possible. This happens in places that are inaccessible to outsiders, particularly to those who might alert the public to the horrible things being done in our nation’s name.

More members of the public are now wondering whether the cruelty, isolation and neglect is necessary. Given the fabulous sums of money involved in detaining people on these islands, might it not be possible to give people some comfort, some dignity and some respect for the sufferings from which they have fled, or the sufferings they have endured since running into Australia’s border forces?

Some in government and the bureaucracy think that any relaxation of the regime runs the risk of seeming weak in the face of resistance, or failing to “send a message” to potential boat people. After all, the department invests millions in trying to persuade potential asylum seekers that they will ruin all of their chances if they try to come by boat, since then they will never be allowed to settle in Australia.

There is no doubt that the wider world, and probably, potential boat people, know how Australia and its client governments are treating boat people. From the wider world it is coming back to us, continually, in the form of bad international press, scarcely disguised disdain and difficult relations with countries with whom we would like to be good friends, such as Indonesia. That Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull now “owns” the problem with almost the same enthusiasm as his predecessor is a significant barrier to his ever being counted any sort of international statesman.

Effective, and some think, deliberate institutional abuse of detainees is not of itself a moral justification for such abuse, even on some claim of being cruel to be kind. And in any event, for the desperate – the potential boat people – the important message they must receive is not that they will be punished (in contravention of international law) for taking a boat, but that doing so will be counterproductive, since it will serve to deny them refuge in Australia.

Distance and bluster and blackguarding of “advocates” may serve to keep the issues at bay. But increasingly a public that can bear to know about our maltreatment intellectually, as long as it is not shoved in their face, are being forced to confront ample evidence of what is happening. It’s a bit like the Northern Territory juvenile justice system story. There was never a secret that life is tough in the NT system, that many of the guards are as brutalised as those in their custody, and that politicians (and police, and the public) turn a blind eye to a punitive regime as long as they do not officially know (or can claim they did not notice). Even sequences of reports, inquiries, criticisms and attempts to explain what is going on may not cause great ripples, especially if the reports are sober, fair-minded, somewhat academic in tone, and confined to paper, which apparently politicians do not much read much these days.

That’s the power of television. The Four Corners report showed actual physical abuse on tape. Right in your face. It excited an emotional reaction as much as an intellectual one. No effort to pretend that the problems of the system are exaggerated, or that the timing of the report was “political” – with an intention to damage the Country Liberal Party – can account for the shock or the need to be seen to be doing something. At least until everyone has forgotten when, one can be sure, the same old regime will be back, whether under a re-elected CLP government or, more likely, under a “reforming” Labor government that will not have the guts to take on prison officer unions.

With Manus and Nauru, Labor can almost certainly afford to put on its concerned face and pretend to be shocked and surprised. Still, of course, 100 per cent on turn-backs, but asking aloud what the warrant has been for the mental and physical collapse of so many asylum seekers.

Labor’s concern will, of course, be laden with hypocrisy and not only because Labor set up the system, with conscious intimations of cruelty to come. It has always known exactly what has been going on. A substantial minority of the party openly hates the policy, but none have had the guts to repudiate it because of the fear of being wedged by the coalition.

It has been, as ever, expediency over principle. But that it is Dastyari who is taking the opportunity to divide the boat-people policies is hardly insignificant. He’s expediency and opportunism personified. But he does read (and have access to) polling data.

In any event, Dutton seemed to be more going through the motions on Nauru. His department has been more than usually inept. No one can predict when it all blows up in the government’s face, but the sense that it is coming is palpable. And, like moves to dismantle Manus, the timing and the explosive are not matters in the government’s control.

At least since the election (one might say at least since his election a year ago), Turnbull has seemed in a state of drift. He’s not been shaping events. Not even anticipating them. All too often it has been ad hoc responses to an immediate crisis. The government is not setting the agenda or making things happen. There could hardly be better witness to that than the bungled decision to have a royal commission into NT juvenile justice.

Has Turnbull a plan for the next stage of immigration policy? Has his minister, or the department? Assuming that, for the moment at least, government persists with the turn-back policies, what is the contingency planning for a loss of access to Manus, and/or the disaster in waiting with Nauru? If something happens will the government seem unprepared, unready and surprised?

Of one thing one can be fairly sure. If there is to be, instead, a “be tough but nice” policy, perhaps at other, if more accessible venue, there will be years of cleaning up the mess, not least of shattered lives.

Ten minutes after “be tough” policies are dropped, there will be no nostalgic fans, or people who will insist that they had to be what they were. The most enthusiastic executors of the old policies will be distancing themselves from what happened in the past and pretending that they were always concerned with the consequences.

The next almost certain thing is that many people, particularly younger ones, will not forget, or come quickly to think that it was a sad, perhaps bad, piece of now ancient history. This one will niggle on, like Aboriginal massacres. One can see a royal commission – as, say into stolen children or institutional child abuse – 20 years from now. Old public servants and retired defence officers being taken through the files and asked to explain and account. The children of the next generation will be asking their mothers and fathers, “Just what did you do in the war?” The history books and the academic, defence and bureaucratic literature will be scathing. They will probably note the public’s complicity, but it will seem no excuse.

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

Census debacle should not stop the proposal for e-voting in federal elections

Electronic voting at pre-poll stations should be considered for the next federal election. Photo: Graham TidyFollowing the federal election there was much mumbling about the delay in getting a result and the need for online voting.
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The e-census debacle has put an end to any proposal to have voting from home.

But it shouldn’t stop the slow and gradual development of an improved voting system.

The long delay in getting a result in a close election is largely due to the time taken to process pre-poll and postal votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green suggested after the election that the process could be speeded up by having e-voting for these voters.

There are too many obvious problems with home voting including the huge scope of such a system, the danger of hacking, the danger that a home-voter could be intimidated by another person, etc.

But pre-poll voting is another matter.

There are about 600 pre-poll stations run by the Australian Electoral Commission for the three weeks before an election.

As a first step trial we could have the AEC install and run e-voting computers at some, if not all of these stations.

To verify the e-vote it would be possible to have a printed back-up. After recording their preference, voters would get a printed copy of the vote.

The voter could check to see that it is correct and then, before leaving the station, deposit the print-out in an e-ballot box. These print-outs could be kept and should the need arise be cross-checked against the station’s recorded e-vote.

Traditional voters could still be given the option of voting using ordinary ballot papers.

Their ballot papers could be deposited in separate ballot boxes to be counted in the usual way.

Voters could be offered a choice as they enter the polling booth – an e-vote or a traditional vote. Most would probably choose to go with the queue moving fastest.

The system would require the use of electronic certified electoral rolls to identify and record voters. This step has already been recommended by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral matters.

Alongside this it is surely time that voters were required to produce some form of identification when they turn up to vote.

There would be a number of advantages from having an e-voting option at pre-polling centres. Firstly it would be easier to record the preferences of electors voting away from their home electorate.

Secondly the AEC would have control of the computers accessing the system and officers could be on hand to assist with the inevitable teething problems.

Once the poll closed, the pre-poll votes would be the fastest counted, rather than the slowest as at present.

Having a mixed system has its drawbacks, but this will be necessary until a safe new system is developed and everyone is comfortable with it.

There clearly would be additional AEC costs in a hybrid system – new computers, the cost of set-up and testing in each pre-poll station, the cost of training staff and voters in how to use the system and not least the cost of securing the system.

There’s also the question of finding contractors or in-house people to build the system. With such an important project, can we trust foreign technology companies, whether Chinese or American, to be involved? Rugby Gold’s what if moment at the Olympics

It was fantastic to see Fiji win the men’s Rugby Sevens Olympic gold, but disappointing to see Australia not even make the semis – raising an age-old “what if” question.

What if the Australian Rugby Sevens Olympic team was drawn not just from rugby union players but from the best rugby union and rugby league players?

Over the years arguments have raged about which code has the best players.

Imagine the interest in pre-Olympic play-off trials between the best league and union sevens teams.

The two codes split in England in 1895, followed by Australia in 1907.

Over the years the codes have diverged but most of the player skills are common to both codes.

Rugby union was officially an amateur sport until 1995 and many top Australian union players were lured to league in the decades up to that time.

But in recent years the flow has been reversed as the union, with its greater international following, poaches players for clubs as far afield as Japan and France.

In the past challenge matches have been arranged between the codes with one half of union and one of league.

Last month Wallabies rugby union coach Michael Cheika arranged a training session with his players, taking on the Sydney Roosters league team.

Sevens is administered by World Rugby but in many ways is more like league than union.

It’s a fast running game with essential man-on-man (or woman-on-woman) tackling.

On the announcement that Sevens would be an Olympic sport the Australian Rugby Union initiated a talent identification program for women that ultimately produced a gold-medal winning team. Players for this team were drawn from a variety of sports including rugby league, touch football, athletics and basketball.

Men’s league and union are highly developed and skilled, and there is no chance that players from other codes would make the grade.

Followers of both union and league have long yearned for re-integration of the game with the best rules from each.

Australian rugby union supporters have long been exasperated by hold ups to the game with collapsed scrums, endless re-setting of scrums or repeated unfathomable scrum penalties.

Equally, critics of league complain about the lack of flair in forward hit-ups and set plays.

Sevens current rules provide a showcase for running rugby and would give league players a chance to demonstrate not only their skills in this area but also their much proclaimed tacking skills.

If the administrators, politicians and contract negotiators of both codes found a way to facilitate the selection of an Australian Olympic team from both codes we might find ourselves in the running for gold.

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Private school fees warning: time running out to give notice about swapping schools or be penalised

Mark Rosenberg, with daughter Isabella pictured behind him, is fighting a school fee charge for late notice. Photo: Janie Barrett Kambala school in Rose Bay. Photo: James Alcock
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Parents beware: if your children are at a private school, and you want to change to a new school next year, your time is running out.

Most independent schools require a full term’s notice to withdraw a student without penalty, and that means to start a new school in 2017, parents have just weeks left to avoid incurring an extra term’s fees.

Some parents have learned this the hard way.

Mosman parent Mark Rosenberg gave Kambala in Rose Bay notice three weeks into term 4 last year that his daughter would be leaving after eight years at the school, or more than three months’ notice. He says he did so as soon as the new school confirmed her place.

But now he is in a stand-off with the independent girls’ school, which charges fees of $30,189 a year for years 7 to 10. The school says he owes $8700 for term 1, 2016 fees in lieu of giving sufficient notice.

Dr Rosenberg is refusing to pay, calling the school’s actions “double dipping” as it was able to fill his daughter’s place and so was evidently not left out of pocket by her departure. Kambala has engaged a debt collector to chase the unpaid fees.

“Legally they may have a right, but morally and ethically it’s a pretty poor show considering they’ve already filled the place and considering they actually say to you the reason they do it is so they are not caught short – and they haven’t been caught short,” he said.

“They are double-dipping. …They really don’t care whether you’ve been there for 10 years or not.”

Kambala principal Debra Kelliher said the school, a not-for-profit organisation, “has a very clear and transparent policy regarding fees. The school plans for, and commits to, a range of staffing costs and services in advance. It is not fair that the withdrawal of a student in shorter than the agreed notice period should become a cost incurred by other parents.”

She said the school would exercise discretion over fees in “exceptional cases of personal hardship or family bereavement,” but said, “there were absolutely no exceptional circumstances in this particular case.”

Chief executive of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW Geoff Newcombe, said it was standard practice for schools to require a term’s notice.

“Where a student is withdrawn without sufficient notice, the school may not be able to fill that place at late notice which results in a loss of income for the school,” Dr Newcombe said.

In the public school system, there is no notice period required for enrolling or withdrawing students.

Natalie Mactier from private school enrolment service School Places says there are 11,000 available places nationally on their books, the majority of which are for “last minute” places to start in 2017 or 2018.

“We find that we get a scramble of parents at this time of year, those ones that are wanting to make a change, they know that they need to lock something in and give notice by the end of school holidays.”

Year 7 places are usually offered in April of the previous year, but many families are looking to change at other stages.

“Year 7 is a very popular year for parents to move between the public and the private system so you do find that year 7 is particularly hard to get into. But that doesn’t mean that year 5 or year 9 there aren’t vacancies,” she said.

Ms Mactier said that more than the long notice periods, unrefundable waitlist fees (usually of $100-$250) and enrolment fees of up to $1000 tended to be at the top of parents’ lists of complaints about dealing with private schools, particularly since they often can’t get information about how high they sit on the waiting list and therefore how realistic are their chances of getting in.

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How Julie Andrews chose me for My Fair Lady: Anna O’Byrne tells

Kate Waterhouse (left) with Anna O’Byrne, who says playing Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady is “really, really challenging”. Photo: Steven Siewert Anna O’Byrne (third from left) with the cast of My Fair Lady. O’Bryrne thinks audiences will have the same reaction to the much-loved musical as they did when it was first staged 60 years ago. Photo: Brian Geach
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Julie Andrews (pictured) is “so encouraging”, says Anna O’Byrne. Photo: Nic Walker

Anna O’Byrne was handpicked by Dame Julie Andrews to play Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews played the role in the 1956 original and is now directing the Australia production, at Sydney Opera House from August 30. Andrew Lloyd Webber brought O’Byrne to London, creating the role for her in Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. She now has international acclaim across opera, theatre, concert and film. O’Byrne chats to Kate Waterhouse about the difficulties filling Andrews’ shoes, Lloyd Webber’s advice for her and staying in Britain longer than she’d planned.

How did you land the role as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady? The audition notice came through and I just thought I’d better throw my hat in the ring. It was just too good  an opportunity to pass up. I’ve worked with Guy Simpson, who is the music director of the show, on a couple of other projects previously. There were just multiple reasons, and obviously Julie Andrews!

You were handpicked by her – what was that like? It was weird going into the audition room [as] she was the first Eliza … [and] particularly because I have been such a huge fan all my life.

Were you nervous to meet her? Yes I was, but she is such a beautiful person. She has, like, just amazing energy and she is so respectful to all the performers … She gets what it’s like to go in and audition and be vulnerable.

Did she give you any insightful tips? Yes, she did all the way through the audition process, but particularly for my last audition in London. We had quite a long chat afterwards … She would tell me what songs to pull back in and how to particularly approach different kinds of songs.

Is it a lot of pressure to play her former role and have her direct it? It is also a really, really challenging role too … with five huge almost operatic arias really essentially for Eliza, plus dancing, plus never really being off the stage. Obviously doing it for Dame Julie is also daunting, but she is so encouraging.

What should audiences expect from My Fair Lady? I can’t think of a person who wouldn’t know a song from My Fair Lady, the music is so familiar … We are so lucky to have Julie recreating all the splendour and magnificence of the original production and I think audiences will have the same reaction as they did 60 years ago!

Does singing and dancing come naturally? Dancing less so. I’ve had to work on that a bit as that comes a lot less naturally to me than singing.

How do you prepare for a big role like this? We have a saying …  being “show-fit”, which is being ready to do the show and all its physical demands, eight shows a week. So it’s like your stamina. It’s like being a marathon runner … I’ll probably go into class a few times so I can be with my singing teacher [and try to stay in the] eight-shows-a-week mentality.

You made your West End debut as Christine in The Phantom of  the Opera – what was that like? That’s actually another really challenging role, just in terms of the stamina of it eight shows a week as well … Christine is another one of those, like, super iconic roles that, like, every girl wants to play.

Prior to playing Christine, Andrew Lloyd Webber lured you to London to create the role for Love Never Dies. How did that come about? I did Phantom here in Australia. It was my first gig out of college, but I was Christine’s understudy … Then, a couple of years later, he wrote the sequel to Phantom, called Love Never Dies. So I did that in Melbourne and then in Sydney, playing Christine. Then I went over to London and he was definitely quite instrumental in getting me into that production.

What is it like to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber? He is such a giant in the industry and to get to work with, like, a living composer and to talk to them about their intention when they wrote this particular song and how to sing it … It’s amazing.

What is the best piece of advice he gave you? When we were previewing Love Never Dies, he was, like, “When you take your curtain call at the end, even though you’re bowing, you need to still portray [the character].” I needed to come out of my shell more rather than being myself.

You say you need to come out of your shell when you are portraying a character. How do you manage the transition? I don’t know if I’ve worked it out yet. I love playing a character on stage, but I find it stranger to kind of be myself. Just recently, in Guys and Dolls, the guy who I play opposite does the speech after we all bow … and that is just my idea of hell. I was not very good at … being myself on stage, quite particularly after you’ve been the character for the past few hours and then sort of having to step out of that.

How did you get into musical theatre? I’ve just always loved it. My mum was a music teacher for a long time and we used to [be part of the] local amateur dramatic society. I didn’t go to a performing arts school, but I went to a school that had a very good sort of, like, performing arts program.

If you hadn’t gone down this career path, what would you be doing? I used to want to be a librarian when I was younger. I’d still like to be an author or a librarian, something like that.

What was your first big break? Love Never Dies [had] a lot of international interest in the production and it was filmed and released in cinemas internationally and on DVDs.

What’s next in the pipeline? I’ve just released my album, so I’ll be doing a bit of promo for that, and I’ve got some concerts lined up over the Christmas/New Year period back in the UK.

Will you stay based in the UK? My partner is a Queenslander. We keep saying it’s a temporary thing, but then we keep staying on longer.

Is he in musical theatre as well? Yes, he is doing Les Miserables on the West End.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working? I love exploring the London parks, and spending time with my family is obviously a huge priority when we’re all in the same country.Katewaterhouse南京夜网 

Opera Australia and John Frost’s production of My Fair Lady previews from August 30 at Sydney Opera House; from $89.90. Julie Andrews is in conversation with her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton at the Opera House on August 28; from $44.  BITE SIZE

WE WENT TO Sofitel High Tea, Sydney

WE ATE An assortment of sweets: classic opera slice; macarons; wentworth cheesecake; chocolate eclairs; lemon meringue tartlet; fruit tartlet; scones and savouries; roast beef on whole wheat with horseradish butter; smoked salmon on ciabatta, cream cheese, cherry tomato, capers; cucumber dill on white bread; spinach and pumpkin muffin; quiche lorraine

WE DRANK Herbal tea and English breakfast tea.


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ASX ends choppy week flat as profit results dominate

Cleanaway was the day – and week’s – best performing stock. Photo: Joe ArmaoInvestor attention was dedicated to the flood of company profit results in the busiest week of reporting season so far, with the index finishing the week flat.
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The S&P/ASX 200 index closed Friday up 19 points or 0.3 per cent to 5526.7, but down less than 0.1 per cent for the week. The All Ordinaries finished Friday up 18 points or 0.3 per cent to 5625.4, and flat for the week.

“Bank earnings were far from spectacular and a fairly pessimistic view of the future ensured bank stocks and hence the ASX 200 finished [the week] in the red,” Suncorp head of treasury research Darryl Conroy said.

National Bank of Australia on Monday capped results and trading updates from the big four.

“Ratings agency Moody’s put the cat amongst the pigeons by confirming that the sovereign rating as stable, whilst putting the nation’s banking sector on negative watch,” Mr Conroy said.

The health index was the weakest performing sector of the week, down 3.2 per cent as results – from the likes of Primary Healthcare and CSL – failed to live up to the expectations set by their high price-to-earnings ratios, Mr Conroy said.

The materials and energy sectors stood out in an otherwise muted week for the overall index, benefiting from a shift in sentiment on commodity prices.

“After an awful five years, commodity prices are stabilising, which will likely provide the broader Aussie economy with a reprieve for an uncertain length of time,” Mr Conroy said.

BHP Billiton helped lead the index on Friday to a gain, lifting 3 per cent for the week while the materials index added 1.7 per cent, behind energy, up 2.9 per cent as oil prices charged to a bull market, and consumer staples, up 2.1 per cent.

Santos and Woodside Petroleum both reported their earnings on Friday, with the former booking a $1.1 billion loss. Its shares ended 2 per cent lower while Woodside shares added 1.2 per cent.

Other companies that reported on Friday included Medibank Private, which fell 4.7 per cent on its weaker than expected result, and Bellamy’s, one of the market’s more highly valued stocks, which trebled its profit in the 2016 financial year. Bellamy’s shares finished 1 per cent higher.  Market moversOil’s bull market

Speculation that oil producers, including from OPEC, would finally act to curb supply and a fall in stockpiles in the US helped propel oil prices towards its biggest weekly gain in five months. Brent crude oil crossed above $US51 a barrel for the first time since early June, capping a 20 per cent rise this month that has officially placed the commodity in a bull market.  Blue chips miss

Investors were less than impressed with the performance of some of Australia’s tightly held blue chip companies. AMP slid 4.7 per cent on its result, while CSL tumbed 5.1 per cent and QBE slid 8.3 per cent. BHP Billiton was cheered despite its $8.3 billion loss, climbed to its highest point this year as investors applauded its cost cutting efforts and optimism on stabilising commodity prices. Australian dollar

The Australian dollar fluctuated around the US77¢ mark this week as it continues its post-rate cut strength. Employment data on Thursday which reported a 26,200 new jobs in July, and a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.7 per cent pushed the dollar higher, helped by a weaker US dollar on divisive US Federal Reserve minutes. By Friday the currency lost steam, trading at US76.4¢.  Banks on watch

On Friday ratings agency Moody’s placed the big four banks on credit watch negative, the week after Commonwealth Bank of Australia provided its full year profit result and the other three trading updates. It’s been a rough month for the banks after earlier being criticised by politicians for not passing on the full interest rate cut from the RBA to customers, and the financials sector finished the week down 0.8 per cent.  Stock watch: Cleanaway

Cleanaway Waste Management emerged as the week’s best performing stock on the S&P/ASX 200, rocketing 15.6 per cent to $1.04 after reporting its full year results on Friday. The company reported a rise in net underlying profit to $63.3 million, and a statutory profit after tax of $44.8 million for the year ended 30 June, a swing from the previous year’s $23.6 million statutory loss. Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal attributed the profit growth to its focus on improving free cash flow and simplifying its operating structure. The company announced a final dividend of 9¢ a share.

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

Plenty of upside left in gold stocks’ shining year

The sky-scraping performance of Australian gold mining stocks this year has led to the inevitable questions of when to expect a correction, but analysts say there’s potential still to be realised.
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Of the biggest names in the index, Evolution Mining has risen 86 per cent this year to date, Newcrest Mining 83 per cent, Regis Resources 74 per cent and Northern Star Resources 69 per cent.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley say globally, total shareholder returns for 2016 so far for precious metal shares have hit 169 per cent, sending valuations at or above historical highs.

“While lifting gold prices have driven upgrades to consensus earnings, we maintain more than 50 per cent of the equity performance is explained by multiple re-ratings,” the investment bank said in a client note, adding the market is paying a 32 per cent premium compared with history.

Gold miners stand out for their strong balance sheets and, according to Morgan Stanley, 10 of 27 companies are sitting on net cash, with an average net debt to EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation] ratio of 0.3-times.

They say this rally is different to previous cycles. This year’s rally stands out among the last six rallies over the past 40 years. In just eight months gold equities have surged 111 per cent, while the previous comparable rally took 20 months to achieve the same result.

The analysts expect gold prices to remain supported by uncertainty surrounding the duration and impact from the Brexit process, and its effect on the European Union, which they say will likely result in further quantitative easing from the European Central Bank.

Combined with a “languishing” rate hike cycle from the US Federal Reserve, which has continually delayed raising rates in light of mixed economic data, and doubts over China’s economy persist, particularly its rising debt, is resulting in investors looking to preserve capital, leading them to the ultimate safe haven asset.

Morgan Stanley’s global picks include AngloGold, Centamin Goldcorp and Zhaojin.

In Australia, the future is bright for local producers, Macquarie Wealth Management says. According to analysts for the investment bank, there’s never been a better time to build a gold mine, with the price of gold at post-financial crisis highs in US dollar terms, and record highs in Australian dollar terms.

“With the completion of the major resource projects in the country’s northwest, skills abound and contract rates for services have come back to earth,” the analysts said in a note.

Of the local developers, Macquarie prefers Gold Road Resources and Dacian Gold. Both have an outperform rating and feature competitive costs, better or comparable mine lives and exploration potential. Most enticingly, these stocks are trading at a more attractive level than their peers.

“In our view, on a risk adjusted basis, both stocks are overly discounted and we see considerable upside as they progress along the path to production.”

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Intrapac Projects spending $90m-plus on ex-Lilydale quarry

ICR Property Group’s proposed Sol Invictus Tower, a 60-level, 520-unit skyscraper earmarked for a 972-square-metre parcel at 42-48 Moray Street. Photo: Supplied The Lilydale quarry is one day set to contain 2500 houses. Photo: Danie Sprague
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Melbourne developer Intrapac Projects is paying more than $40 million for an enormous 162.7 hectare former quarry in Lilydale, which needs more than $50 million invested to fill, before it can be subdivided into one of the state’s most significant new housing projects.

The sale of the ex-Lilydale Quarry by Belgian multinational Sibelco, ends the site’s 140 year association with the outer north-east suburb. The company announced it would close the mine last year, 12 months ahead of schedule, citing a depletion of its limestone assets.

In recent years, the Yarra Ranges Council, state government and Sibelco have been working on a residential repurposing of the parcels known as 4 Melba Avenue and 451-453 Hull Road. Public documents branded Plan Cave Hill show the redevelopment can make way for more than 2500 house-and-land plots.

Sibelco acquired the pit, originally a family-operated business, in 2002.

The sale campaign was managed by Knight Frank’s Ken Smirk and Michael Hede, with Charter Keck Cramer’s Andrew Grant and James Holding, the transaction advisers.

The sale price is considered relatively low compared to the going market rate of Lilydale land because the cost to fill the hole is estimated at well in excess of $50 million.

Sibelco’s sale comes in the same month the Baillieu family offloaded a 4953-hectare property near Melton to Chinese developer, Fucheng Group, for about $100 million.

In Donnybrook, nearly 50 kilometres north of town, Satterley – the country’s largest privately owned residential land builder – paid $34 million for 68 hectares, expected to deliver 1000 small house lots by 2018.

Jilted landlord looking for new relationship

The owner of a Fitzroy property recently jilted by their high-profile tenant, is seeking a new relationship.

Raine & Horne Commercial is marketing 337 Smith Street, a historic corner shop, that was occupied until recently by bridal business Primrose and Finch which suddenly shut. Its New Zealand managers Kerry and Matthew Smith reportedly escaped debt by travelling to the UK.

The business closure has left brides without dresses for wedding dates, some this month. In a liquidator report, agency Raine & Horne is one of the creditors, on behalf of the landlord, said to be owed three months’ rent plus outgoings.

The 118 square metre showroom on the north-west corner of Johnston Street is being released by Francis Sbaglia, only a year after Primrose and Finch moved in.

McCormick Foods HQ sold

A Clayton South factory leased for the past 10 years to McCormick Foods, and next door to another factory, occupied by the company for four decades, has sold to a local investor for about $6 million.

The property at 63-69 Fairbank Road covers 1.1 hectares and includes a 5844 square metre office warehouse. Based on the annual rent McCormick Foods pays of $442,496, the asset exchanged on a yield of just over 7 per cent.

GormanKelly selling agent David Minton attributed the current low interest rate environment for the solid result, saying properties of this type have historically traded on yields closer to 8.5 per cent.

Mr Minton added that Fairbank Road’s remaining lease period – four years – was considered too short for many investors in the circa-$5 million price bracket.

Nonetheless, the Clayton South property sold for half a million more than expected, within days of the agency closing an expressions of interest campaign.

The site, and the neighbouring manufacturing plant, form the national head office of McCormick Foods, which was established in the US in 1889.

Builder buys prominent Nunawading corner

One of the busiest intersections in Melbourne’s middle-ring eastern suburbs will make way for a $40-million plus residential project after selling to a developer.

Nunawading’s Formosa House restaurant site, at 86-88 Springvale Road, on the south-west corner of Springfield Road, covers 2139 square metres, and sold after a campaign also targeting owner occupiers, investors and service operators, related to aged care, child care and medical.

Not offered with a permit, the General 1 zoning allows for a medium density development. Savills Nick Peden and Jesse Radisich sold the parcel for a speculated $4 million.

Two neighbouring Werribee sites fetch $10.55m

Two neighbouring sites in Werribee, west of Melbourne, have sold in deals totalling $10.55 million.

In the biggest transaction, the historic Bridge Hotel, on a 4000 square metre site at 197-199 Watton Street, sold for $5.4 million following a campaign targeting developers and owner occupiers. The asset includes a double storey, 1926 red brick building, and several extensions, and was refurbished in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, an investment property next door, a Toyota dealership on 3568 square metres of land at 201 Watton Street, has traded for $5.15 million. Both assets were marketed by CVA’s Charles Cini and Robert Cubelic.

Golden Age pays twice the price for Box Hill supersite

Developer Golden Age Group has bought a prominent Box Hill supersite from the City of Whitehorse council for $51.8 million – almost twice the price expected when it hit the market in March.

At 517-521 Station Street, and incorporating the Cambridge Street Car Park and Central Box Hill Children’s Services Centre, the 7344 sq m block is expected to make way for a multi-tower project incorporating apartments, and possibly offices and hotel rooms, atop a lower-level shopping centre and car park.

The sale price, equating to $7053 per sq m, is particularly impressive given the deal came with redevelopment conditions – among them, that Golden Age Group incorporate large public spaces and build a new 104-place childcare facility (the existing centre caters for 35).

Council described the transaction as a “tremendous outcome for the city” adding the campaign generated strong developer interest.

However, there is an element of paradox in its sale to Golden Age which last year was trying to bank some $40 million selling 525 Station Street, next door – a project it had earlier been marketing to apartment buyers as Sovereign Square.

Instead, director Jeff Gu decided to retain the 2417 sq m property, relaunching the 35-level, 435 unit proposal earlier this year, as Sky One.

When council listed 517-521 Station Street, it carried price expectations of between $25 million and $30 million. Knight Frank selling agents Ken Smirk and Tim Grant declined to comment, other than to confirm the site sold.

Other recent sales in the Box Hill Central Activity District include 826-830 Whitehorse Road, covering 2650 sq m, which exchanged for $30.8 million and 837 Whitehorse Road, which sold for $13 million.

The owners of a 1972 sq m block at 843 Whitehorse Road listed it for sale this month, in what is expected to be a $20 million transaction, again to a developer.

Email: [email protected]南京夜网

Twitter: @marcpallisco

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Judge overturns Uber’s $130m settlement with drivers

A US federal judge on Thursday struck down a proposed class-action settlement between Uber and a group of its current and former drivers, potentially continuing a lawsuit that questioned a key tenet of the ride-hailing company’s business.
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Under a settlement forged in April, Uber had been set to pay up to $US100 million ($130 million) in reimbursement damages to nearly 400,000 drivers. The drivers first sued Uber in 2013, claiming that they should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors of the company. Uber has opposed having its drivers be categorised as employees, a more costly designation that would require the company to pay payroll taxes and ensure that drivers earn at least the minimum wage.

In documents filed Thursday in US District Court for Northern California, Judge Edward M. Chen ruled that the April settlement was “not fair, adequate, and reasonable” as grounds for denial. He also said a small portion of the $US100 million amount reflects only 0.1 per cent of the potential full verdict value of the case.

The decision is a blow to Uber in a long-standing battle with its drivers, many of whom have argued that the type of control Uber exerts over them constitutes conditions of employment. As employees, Uber drivers would be entitled to reimbursement for expenses and vehicle maintenance, costs that as independent contractors they now pay themselves.

As part of the settlement agreement, Uber also made other concessions, like recognising and speaking with quasi-unions of its drivers in New York and other states. It also allowed drivers to accept tips at the end of each ride.

Uber had hailed the settlement as a victory for drivers who wanted to maintain flexibility in their roles. But others said the reimbursement amount was far too low. Uber is valued at $US62.5 billion, and in June it raised $US3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund; the company also recently agreed to sell off its China operations to the Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.

“The settlement, mutually agreed by both sides, was fair and reasonable,” Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman, said in a statement. “We’re disappointed in this decision and are taking a look at our options.”

Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer who filed the driver lawsuits, said in an email that she was disappointed by the judge’s decision on the settlement “but I understand and I have heard him.” She said it was possible that both sides could reach a revised agreement, but that if not, she planned to take the case to trial.

Bhairavi Desai, the president of the National Taxi Workers Alliance, a union of drivers with chapters in New York and California, which helped a group of 200 Uber drivers formally object to the settlement, said her group was “pretty elated” by the judge’s overturning of the agreement.

Desai said that because the California case was one of the earliest prominent cases against Uber involving misclassification, the settlement “could have slowed down the process for everyone else” intent on challenging their status and leave drivers to wonder whether there was any real upside in bringing cases.

She added that while the initial lawsuit did not seem to attract much interest from the Uber drivers her members were in contact with, the settlement terms provoked widespread outrage. “The drivers felt so scorned by the settlement that many came forward at that point,” she said.

The New York Times

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Deutsche Bank whistleblower turns down $US16.5m payout to show industry problem

Eric Ben-Artzi is a brave man.
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The former Deutsche Bank risk officer was one of three whistleblowers who reported improper accounting at the German bank to US sharemarket regulators in 2010 and 2011.

In 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed a $US55 million ($71.8 million) fine against the bank over the issue.

Ben-Artzi is due 15 per cent of this sum, or $US16.5 million. In an opinion piece in The Financial Times on Thursday, he revealed that he had rejected the payout.

He said:

“Deutsche was the victim. To be precise, the bank’s shareholders and its rank-and-file employees who are now losing their jobs in droves are the primary victims.

“Meanwhile, top executives retired with multimillion-dollar bonuses based on the misrepresentation of the bank’s balance sheet. It is therefore especially disappointing that in 2015, after a lengthy investigation helped by multiple whistleblowers, the SEC imposed a fine on Deutsche’s shareholders instead of the managers responsible.”

He goes on (emphasis ours):

“Although I need the money now more than ever, I will not join the looting of the very people I was hired to protect. I never intended to turn a job in risk management into a crusade, but after suffering at the hands of the Deutsche executives I will not join them simply because I cannot beat them.

“I request that my share of the award be given to Deutsche and its stakeholders, and the award money clawed back from the bonuses paid to the Deutsche executives, especially the former top SEC attorneys.

“I would then be happy to collect any award for which I am eligible.”

Talk about making a statement.

In his piece, Ben-Artzi really homes in on two hot-button issues that get a lot of people on Wall Street uncomfortable: the revolving door between Wall Street and the regulator, and the regulators’ propensity to fine the firm, rather than the individual.

On the first issue, he details the numerous Deutsche Bank lawyers who moved to and from the firm and the SEC. This is common on Wall Street, and it is something the Federal Reserve for one has sought to address.

For example, bank supervisors at the Fed can’t join a bank they had been supervising for a year after leaving.

Still, the relationship between Wall Street banks and the regulators supervising them continues to be a focus. For example, a former Fed employee called Jason Gross last year admitted to leaking confidential government information to Rohit Bansal, a banker at Goldman Sachs. They pleaded guilty to theft of government property in November.

Then there is the lack of individual convictions.

Earlier this year, Jean Eaglesham and Anupreeta Das from The Wall Street Journal carried out a study on the 156 criminal and civil cases brought by various regulators including the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission against the 10 largest Wall Street banks in the past seven years.

Less than one in five of those cases, or 19 per cent of them, identified or charged an individual.

It’s part of the reason why Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has made reining in Wall Street part of her presidential campaign pitch.  “There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail.” —Hillary #DemDebate— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 18, 2016

In turning down $US16.5 million, Eric Ben-Artzi made his stand in one of the most dramatic ways possible.

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

What makes a good trader? Here’s the science

Expertise, or gut instinct? Neuroscientists have found out what makes trader click buy and sell. Photo: Jason AldenA stock’s price is ticking up and down on a screen in front of you. Do you rationally evaluate the probabilities that the price will rise before you pull the trigger on a trade? Or do you go with your gut?
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You may prefer to think superior ability – that mysterious X-factor some traders appear to have – is rooted in the former scenario. But a few years ago, researchers at the California Institute of Technology went to the trouble of taking pictures of people’s brains while they were evaluating trades. Surprise: As rational as you are, you probably opt for that gut feeling a lot.

Using fMRI scans, neuroscientists can identify which brain structures are associated with particular activities. To do so, they might put a subject in a machine and have him solve a math problem so they can watch the fireworks go off. Those math-related structures aren’t what lit up in the Caltech experiment. Instead, the activation occurred in parts of the brain associated with something psychologists call “theory of mind.”

That’s essentially the ability to read other people. “It’s a viewpoint on what another person is thinking and feeling and what they’re likely to do,” says Denise Shull, founder of the ReThink Group, a New York research and consulting firm that coaches financial professionals and athletes. You unconsciously use theory of mind all the time to process experiences in the world, says Shull. It’s what helps you navigate a busy Manhattan sidewalk: You can tell that the guy in front of you is about to veer to the right, so you step to the left. It’s also what enables some traders to look at the tape, she says, and see that “someone’s slamming the bid.” Trader intuition

In the Caltech experiment, detailed in “Exploring the Nature of ‘Trader Intuition,'” a paper published in the Journal of Finance in 2010, researchers set up a stylised market. They had participants trade two “stocks” in a series of sessions. The payoff from the two stocks together was fixed at 50¢, but the portion of the payout that would come from each stock was revealed only after the session ended. One might pay 49¢ and the other would pay 1¢, for example.

In some of the sessions, none of the participants had any additional information about the payoffs. In other sessions, some participants were given a hint about what the payoffs would be. Based on that hint, those participants might bid up one of the stocks.

The trading during those sessions took place electronically and was videotaped. Later, a different group of subjects watched replays. After a while, a researcher would stop the video and ask the subjects to predict what the next price would be.

In the sessions where some traders were acting on hints about the payoff, the observers could infer information about how stocks would move just from watching the prices and flow of orders. The explanation: The fMRI scans showed the observers had engaged the theory-of-mind-related parts of their brains. Also, the observers who were better at predicting prices did better on separate tests of theory-of-mind abilities.

The Caltech study has some interesting implications. Among them: Theory of mind may explain how uninformed traders infer new information and act on it in such a way that prices quickly come to fully reflect it – as is posited by the efficient markets hypothesis, a cornerstone of finance theory.

Peter Bossaerts, an author of the Caltech study who’s now a professor of experimental finance and decision neuroscience at the University of Melbourne, says subsequent research also supports the idea that theory of mind may explain how information flows through markets. “We have more evidence for it,” he said in an e-mail, citing papers that show connections between theory of mind and market bubbles.

The mysterious X-factor isn’t such a mystery after all, according to ReThink’s Shull. “I would describe the X-factor of risk judgment as part of a suite of emotional competencies that extends from knowledge to recognition to understanding,” she says. One part is emotional self-awareness – knowing not to make a decision when you’re agitated, for example. Another is the ability to predict prices and read people.


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