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How many twists to change a light bulb?

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

NEW LIGHT: An impression of the architecturally designed bulbs that could be installed to achieve a similar look to the original lights. Picture: Newcastle Council
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NEWCASTLE COUNCIL staff have baulked at orders to look at returningdome-shaped lightingto the Cowper Street Bridge, warning councillors it would be a costly exercise for lights that arelikely to “self destruct”.

Residents of Carrington lauded it as a victory last month, when councillors ordered a review of a staff decisionto replace the original dome-shaped lamps with“soulless”energy efficient LED lights.

The review was to examinereplacements that wouldrespect“the heritage values” of the entryway to the suburb.

But with that review now finalised– and set to go before councillors at Wednesday’s meeting–council staff are still insisting the lighting installed in January be kept.

Sphere-shaped lights were no longer widely available,the review said,and a bulb suggested by residentswas“not fit for purpose”.

How many twists to change a light bulb? The “much admired” dome lights that once lined Cowper Street Bridge.

The new LED lights that have caused outcry since they were installed in January.

NEW LIGHT: An example of an energy efficient, architecturally designed bulb that could be installed. Staff say they would achieve a similar look to the original dome lights. Picture: Newcastle Council

NEW LIGHT: An example of energy efficient, architecturally designed bulbs that could be installed. Staff say they would achieve a similar look to the original dome lights. Picture: Newcastle Council

TweetFacebook The changing lights of Carrington “This style of sphere dome light will quickly self-destruct due to the severe vibration caused by traffic on the bridge, will not survive in the salt environment and will be prone to vandalism,” it said.“Note that the previous sphere-shaped lights were a regular target for vandalism.”

But Carrington resident Susan Mitchell couldn’t recall any instances of the old lights being vandalized.

“The lights that we researched, I’m sure that a light manufacturer would know his lights need to be of a robust nature, made out of suitable materials to be functional,” she said.

The review said that if councillors proceeded with the replacement, there were energy efficient, architecturally designed fittings that could achievea similar look to the original dome lights.

They would not be compliantwith pedestrian lighting standards but that could be overcome by installing lighting on the bridge’s handrails.

”Council could propose a selection of three lights, one of which could be selected through consultation with the local community,” the report said.

The cost of installing thelights in January was just over $48,000.To replace all 44 lights would cost $305,000, but a compromise could be reached by installing just 12 lights instead for $88,600.

Labor councillor Stephanie Posniak had not seen the report on Friday, but said she expected she would be asking for clarification onsome aspects of it.

“We’re not questioning the staff’s ability but in this particular case you have to be sensitive to what the community wants,” she said.

Ms Mitchell believed the community would be open to a compromise.

“The reflection on the water from the old lights was beautiful. If they could just replace the ones on the outside of the walkways, it could relive that effect.”

The review warned there would also be ongoing financial costs of about $7,800 or $2460 a year–depending on how many lights were installed–as a result of extra maintenance on the bulbs and power consumption.

Six degrees of Bob: celebrating an AFL legend

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

Six degrees of Bob: celebrating an AFL legend Bob Murphy of the Bulldogs poses during AFL Captains Day 2017 at the MCG. Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
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Easton Wood and Bob Murphy with the trophy during the Western Bulldogs AFL Grand Final celebrations at Whitten Oval. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates a win. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates that 2016 Grand Final win. Photo: Getty Images

Robert Murphy of the Bulldogs leads the team off after the final siren during the 2017 JLT Community Series match in February 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy celebrates during the 2016 AFL First Preliminary Final match between the GWS Giants and the Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy and Easton Wood embrace after the 2016 AFL Grand Final win. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy of the Bulldogs holds up the premiership cup with Easton Wood. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy is embraced by team mates as he heads onto the stage to receive his 2016 Premiership medal. Photo: Getty Images

Bob Murphy and Easton Wood of the Bulldogs celebrate with the trophy after the 2016 grand final. Photo: Getty Images

TweetFacebookPaul Kelly, Wil Anderson, friends, even his publican on what Bob Murphy means to them as the Western Bulldogs captain prepares for his 300th match.PAUL KELLYMusician, songwriterDear Bob,

In show business, things aren’t always within your control. So it was that I found myself flying home from Dublin via Abu Dhabi last grand final day. We were three hours from landing when the game started. I paid for a wi-fi connection and managed to get score updates that clicked over every couple of minutes. By the last quarter a large swathe of passengers around me were tuned in to my announcements. With five minutes to go I called it for the Dogs just before all electronic devices had to be switched off as the plane prepared to land. Jubilation all round.

That night I watched every second of the replay on TV and, like many others, I suspect, wept as Luke Beveridge draped his premiership medal around your neck. Like many others, too, I’d been barracking for you and your brothers throughout your seemingly Quixotic finals campaign.

You’ve been called the “spirit of the club”. It’s a cliché overworked. But, in your case, perfectly apt. Cruelly injured for the whole season and unable to join your brothers in the heat of the final battle you were the animating force, the touchstone, the one everyone turned to and sought out.

Rockdogs: Bob Murphy and Paul Kelly at the Community Cup in 2012. Photo: Craig Johnstone

Before the grand final youwrote about the loch locked inside of you, the secret sorrow at the deep heart of joy. You and Keats. “Ay, in the very temple of Delight veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shine.”

Things may not have turned out the way you imagined in your childhood dreams, your adult hopes. But something bigger, wider, deeper happened. Your particular trial made the whole a greater triumph. Your absence from the field made you even more present in the story. Your constraint generated enormous power.

Congratulations, Bob, sprite of the club. (Sprite – a legendary creature with magical powers). Congratulations, tough elf, on 300 bone-jarring games. Congratulations and thanks for it all, the great long story you’ve told. Your story isn’t done yet. It will run long after we’re gone.

WIL ANDERSONComedianI remember distinctly the first time I saw The Artist Formerly Known As Robert Murphy play for the Dogs. As a fellow Gippslander I was excited to see this player who had been described as having the skill of a young Robert (Robbie not Bob) Flower.

But when young Robert took the field wearing the number 22 on his back, it seemed like the club was so poor they had got him a guernsey two sizes too big in the hope he would grow into it.

Physically he probably never did – I have a theory the reason he ended up wearing number 2 was, when they took the jumper in, his shoulders weren’t wide enough for two numbers – but 300 games later he is a giant of the club and the game.

Sometimes as footy fans I think we are disappointed when the way someone plays on the ground doesn’t represent who they are off it. But that has never been the case with Bob.

On the field his greatest skill is that he makes those around him better, and in turn makes the game better. And that’s what he’s like off the field too. A unique individual who loves being part of a team.

So congratulations, Murph. As Bulldogs fans, we’ve had way more than our two Bob’s worth. In fact there’s an idea, is it too late to clone him?

JOHN SCHULTZChampion Footscray ruckman, 1960 Brownlow Medallist, mentorI first met Bob during the pre-season of 2000 when I was fortunate to act as a mentor at the induction of the 1999 draft players. Former players are often asked to speak to inductees to explain what they can expect. We, past players, are always interested in the composition of the team each year and when you speak at an induction you forever have a special interest in these players. I found Bob to be a particularly interesting person; he certainly thinks outside the square and is, in many ways, not your typical league footballer. I recall him lobbying to retain the old tree stump in the property room, the stump that the boot-studder had used for many years as a support when he worked on the boots. I think Bob thought it had historical significance.

What a draft year that was for the Western Bulldogs. Bob, Daniel Giansiracusa, Lindsay Gilbee, Mitch Hahn, Ryan Hargrave and Nathan Eagleton. They formed lifelong friendships and Bob and Gia, who is now a Bulldogs coach, still do part of Bob’s pre-game warm-up together.

Class of ’99: draft buddies Daniel Giansiracusa and Robert Murphy Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

When Bob seriously injured a knee in the dying minutes of an exciting game against the Hawks on Sunday May 10, 2016, he only needed five more games to achieve the dreamed-of footballer’s goal of 300 games. It was an especially cruel blow because Bob had a similar injury in 2006 and he knew the hard work that the recovery would entail. His dilemma was whether to retire then or at his age try to recover the fitness and form that would assure him of a place in the side. Thankfully he decided to play on and what a joyous celebration it will be when he runs onto the ground on Saturday.

DIEGO ORTUSOOsteopathIn 2008 we struck a deal with a handshake, a so-called gentleman’s agreement, Bob and me. “I will get you to 200, but you have to get yourself to 250.” Back then he was injured, low, uncertain, hurting – but I knew he would get better, he just needed to become whole again. He couldn’t even see himself making it to 150 games, but he worked hard – physically, emotionally and mentally.

I used to tell him in those dark days, “I begin the treatment and will help bind your wounds, but it’s you who finishes it and heals them.” He is smart. He understood what needed to happen. He trusts me and I trust his health. This is the basis of our relationship. He bestows upon me the great privilege of caring for that which is most precious to him – his health. Even more importantly, the health of those he loves most – his family.

Murphy has had two knee reconstructions, 10 years apart. Photo: Martin Philbey

You can judge the size of the man by the size of the things that bother him, and recent setbacks have changed the way he views the horizon. But Bob understands perspective. In treatment we talk all sorts of things – about his body, what worries him, what’s on his mind and what’s in his heart. He’s not a tortured artist, though – he loves stories and he laughs easily, which can only be a good thing in the magnified world he exists in.

They also say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Bob is wise enough to realise you only become better if you surround yourself with people who are better than you. He definitely has that in Justine. She is his wife, adviser, confidant, right-hand woman, the mother of his children and the real captain in his most important team. My wife describes Bob and Justine best. “When I’m around them I just feel like hugging them all the time.”

I’m proud to have watched the young rebel become a wise leader. Proud that he picked himself up from the ashes again. Proud that he stands up for what he believes in. Proud that on the field he can once again “move like Jagger”. Proud to call him my friend.

BEN HUDSONFormer teammateHe cares for people, and that’s probably something not as common in footy circles. He’s the first to admit he’s not your typical footy nut, but you can see how the young players at the Bulldogs admire the way he goes about things, and he shows that care and empathy that goes beyond when they cross that white line.

I was lucky enough to share car rides with him to training, so I got to listen to his music and see what he wore into training. His fashion is left of centre and his music is the same, but that’s what makes Bob unique and such a loveable character. He’s pretty quiet and likes to keep to himself. Probably, in all honesty, he hates all the attention he’s copping his week.

People’s beard: Murphy has described Ben Hudson as one of his his favourite teammates, while “Gia” is like family. Photo: Paul Rovere

When Luke Beveridge gave him his premiership medal, that’ll go down as one of the greatest sporting moments. When Beveridge let him lift the premiership cup, it was very emotional, but at the same time you could see the passion and care and what it meant to him, but also to all the supporters in the west. For that iconic moment, he got to share that moment that not many captains or players get to do. You’d have to ask him how he felt about not being able to play, but I reckon, at that split second, he didn’t care.

PATRICK WALSHPublicanI’ve always said that if somebody was going to marry your sister you’d be pretty happy if it was Robert Murphy, and if you needed someone to find a target on their non-preferred side you’d be equally pleased.

We met for the first time in my pub, not long after he wrecked his knee for the first time. I was struck by him from the start – he was interested and interesting. Always admirable qualities, but especially so for someone who lived in the rarefied air of AFL. I felt like we were from a similar place. We talked about music, travel, love, family, writing, Guinness and sunscreen, occasionally arguing about football despite the vast difference in our qualifications.

An osteo (Diego Ortuso), a publican (Patrick Walsh) and a footballer (Bob Murphy).

We’ve covered a fair bit of ground since then and my understanding of a footballer’s life has changed how I watch the game. What hasn’t changed is that I’m very proud of my friend.

Usually after Christmas we have a kick, where he does all the running. I have never got a better appreciation of how good he is than in these moments. It’s like standing in the straight as the ponies head for home. If we get interrupted by his kids, or someone else’s, his football face goes and the other Robert seamlessly appears. Then it’s back to business, and just so you know, even when he’s easing into it, the ball smacks into your hands well before but exactly where you expect.

The Age

Clint Eastwood’s next project is a film about hero backpackers

Wednesday, 25 July, 2018

They were the American backpackers who made headlines around the world after crash-tackling a would-be terrorist armed with an AK-47 on a crowded European train.
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Now, Clint Eastwood wants to immortalise the story of the three men who risked their lives to save their fellow passengers.

The Hollywood veteran has decided to produce a movie based on the real-life survival story and subsequent book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train and Three American Heroes.

Eastwood has directed a string of action movies in recent years, including Sully and American Sniper. The latter snapped up more than $700 million at the box office worldwide and a string of Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture.

The demand for the genre doesn’t appear to be dying down, with Eastwood currently working on a film about an aid worker who is kidnapped by Somali pirates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alex Skarlatos’ quick-thinking on the Paris-bound train fits with Eastwood’s love for stories about ordinary people who are forced to do extraordinary things.

On the day of the thwarted attack, the three mates – who grew up in California together and were in Europe to celebrate Mr Skarlatos’ return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan – attacked the gunman while he was cocking his assault rifle.

Mr Stone choked the man while Mr Skarlatos hit him over the head. The would-be terrorist was armed with an AK-47, pistol and box cutter and one of the men almost lost their thumb in the process.

Mr Stone also had to stick his fingers into an injured man’s neck to stem the bleeding until paramedics arrived.

The trio were awarded French Legion of Honour medals by president Francois Hollande after the ordeal.

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Low interest rates underpin strata strength

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Strata office deals in the CBD are continuing to set records as owner occupiers take advantage of low interest rates to stake a claim on city real estate.
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Colliers International agents Chris Ling and Anthony Kirwan recently negotiated a series of strata deals, including a unit at 552 Lonsdale Street which fetched $2 million, a 25 per cent premium on the last office sold in the building.

The 258 square metre office on level seven was sold with vacant possession to a local accounting firm looking to establish a presence in the city.

“The sale price represented a significant increase on the sale price of level six, which sold for $1.6 million in September last year – a 25 per cent uplift in six months,” Mr Ling said.

“We received more than 120 enquiries for this property and six genuine offers, underscoring the substantial lack of supply for well-located whole-floor office assets.”

It followed the recent sale by Supreme Court judge Michael Sifris of his 777-square-metre strata office at 530 Lonsdale Street in Lonsdale Chambers which fetched $4.25 million or $5500 a square metre.

While most of the interest is coming from local owner-occupiers encouraged by low interest rates, there is steady enquiry still coming from Asia and United States-based investors, he said.

However some buyers are starting to show concerns about the potential for interest rate rises limiting how much they can borrow.

“With recent increases in residential interest rates and new rules about interest-only loans, we are seeing some cautiousness from buyers who are uncertain as to what will happen in the commercial property environment in the near future.”

“It’s at the back of everyone’s minds,” he said.

Strata sales in the western end of Collins Street nonetheless reflected strong demand. A local financial advisory firm paid $1 million for the 104 square metre suite 202 at 546 Collins Street, in the Art Deco McPherson’s Building.

Its neighbour, suite 310, fetched $1.175 million or $8,835 a square metre. A management consulting firm bought the 133 square metre office with plans to occupy it in the future and grow its portfolio in the office building.

Mr Ling said an international expressions-of-interest campaign generated 132 enquiries for the office and several first-round offers.

“We are experiencing strong demand from owner-occupiers who are desperate to secure CBD office space – buyers are willing to pay over the odds,” he said.

Off the plan strata sales are also selling well. Owner occupiers and one investor helped sell out four off-the-plan strata office units at 420 Spencer Street, West Melbourne for Bill McNee’s Vicland Property Group.

“We managed to transact the four first-floor offices on Spencer Street in the past five months for rates of $6,600 a square metre, which translates to transactions between $1.55 million and $2.6 million per office,” Mr Ling said.

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‘I might ring Cheika’: Furious Maguire slams ‘rugby rules’

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

An incensed Souths coach Michael Maguire has scolded the NRL’s multi-million bunker and claimed he would call Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to brush up on the rules of rugby union after two controversial refereeing moments plagued the Broncos’ wild win over the Rabbitohs on Friday night.
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Anthony Milford snapped a dubious 78th-minute field goal after appearing to fumble the ball in the lead-up to settle the contest 25-24 at ANZ Stadium – barely 10 minutes after also being the centre of attention in Tautau Moga’s bizarre try that levelled the scores.

Rabbitohs skipper Sam Burgess also said lead referee Ashley Klein was “confused” as the voice of an emotional Maguire, who is normally so reserved in post-match press conferences, wavered on several occasions when he spoke about his players “busting their arses” after the loss.

In a game plagued by multiple referrals to the NRL Bunker, on-field officials didn’t check Milford’s handling in the lead-up to the game-deciding one-pointer in which he appeared to momentarily lose the ball.

“I came in here looking to blow up, but to be truthfully honest I don’t think that’s going to do anything anyway,” Maguire said. “They’ll just hunt me up for a fine or something or other that usually happens in this situation.

“I think the on-field ref said we’ve got to have a look at [Milford’s field goal], but sure enough they actually called it. That’s the decision made.

“We’re spending a lot of money in areas of our game and we’ve got to get them right, especially in moments like that. Those games change your season. Those two points are what every team is fighting for. We’ve got a multi-million dollar system in place and everyone in this room saw it.

“Was it a knock-on or wasn’t it a knock-on? You can say that, but I can’t because it’s around decisions. Make a call. I don’t want to have to get charged 10 grand.

“Can you [then] explain that to all the Souths fans that continually turn up to our ground that are passionate around our club, we’re a building team with young kids … they have to sit in the change room there disappointed because of things that went on out there on the field? Ridiculous.”

Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett claimed Milford had not lost control of the ball and the player himself was adamant it was a fair catch.

Rabbitohs officials will also seek clarity from the NRL over a first-half concussion incident involving Milford, who jumped to his feet to kick a penalty goal after a Sam Burgess hit before being taken off immediately for a Head Injury Assessment.

The call was made on the instruction of the Broncos’ medico Dr Peter Hackney, who followed the NRL protocol of making a sideline assessment from vision provided to him when the on-field trainer initially cleared Milford to stay on the field.

“The trainer didn’t make the decision,” Bennett said. “The doctor wanted him off. That’s why he came. Anthony had no symptoms. I spoke to him at half-time and it was just the doctor [going] by the letter of the law, which is totally fine.”

Milford wandered back onto the field in the second half after passing his tests and was then involved in the game’s two flashpoints.

The first came when he scrambled over the line before spitting the ball out the back for Tautau Moga to score.

Klein sent it upstairs as a try, but replays were inconclusive over whether Milford had actually grounded the ball.

Fumed Maguire: “I might ring up Michael Cheika and find out about his rules in rugby union?”

“I think we might start playing rugby union down close to the line. I thought when you cross the line and the arm actually touches the ground that that is actually classed as a tackle but they seem to say, ‘play on and let’s throw the ball back and score a try’.”

Added Burgess: “I think [Klein] was a bit confused at times as well. I think if you see the footage of our conversations – it’s all recorded – he seemed pretty confused with the calls. It’s out of his hands I guess when it goes up to the big screen.”

Corey Oates’ first-half double powered the Broncos to a 10-point lead before the Rabbitohs, thanks to two try assists from Robbie Farah, who was unused in the first half, helped the hosts reel off 16 straight points.

But the late intervention of Moga and Milford settled the result with Bennett, who was spotted deep in conversation with Maguire in the Rabbitohs’ sheds after the game, admitting even he was confused with some decisions.

“When they get across the try line I’ve got no idea when the play is dead, I’ll be honest with you,” Bennett said of the Moga try after Milford appeared held up. “I don’t think there’s any rules they go by.

“It was a crazy game. That’s the best way to describe it. I couldn’t put it any other way. There were lots of controversial moments. Just weird.”

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Greenwood Hotel to test hot pub market

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

One of the most recognisable pubs in Sydney, the Greenwood Hotel’s leasehold is being offered for sale as the operators take advantage of the booming hotel sector, which has seen more than $200 million worth of assets and leases change hands this year.
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Mirvac will continue to own the freehold interest of the hotel, which is connected to the Greenwood Plaza.

Where buyers and leasees were once mainly investors when the pubs sector was in a distressed state and laden with debt, they are now being snapped up by food and beverage operators, determined to offer more than meat pies and poker machines.

Daniel Dragicevich and Sam Handy of CBRE Hotels have been appointed to steer the Greenwood leasehold campaign, which is timed to capitalise on the current bullish market conditions, as evidenced with recent Sydney leasehold sales such as the Cargo Bar, Bungalow 8, Winery and Verandah Bar.

The hotel is being sold on behalf of the Balmain Pub Group, who own a stable of Sydney pubs including the Swanson Hotel in Erskineville and the Balmain and Town Hall Hotels in Balmain.

The North Sydney institution, formerly a church, comes hot on the heels of the sale of the Hotel Marlborough, Newtown to Solotel, run by chef Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon. They paid about $34 million and were advised on the sale by Andrew Jolliffe, national head of hotels at Ray White Hotels.

Australian Pub Fund, run by long-time business partners Geoff Dixon and John Singleton, were the sellers of the Marly and are expected to also sell the Kinselas middle bar in Taylor’s Square this year.

Originally built as a church in 1878, the Greenwood Hotel has evolved into one of North Sydney’s landmark pubs and sits across a 1761sq m trading footprint with multiple bars, function rooms, outdoor areas plus a dedicated gaming and wagering area.

It is located immediately above North Sydney train station, bus interchange and Mirvac’s Greenwood Plaza which comprises over 100 retailers, 273 car parks and delivers in excess of $100 million in annual net sales across 18 million visitations per annum.

CBRE National Director Daniel Dragicevich said the Greenwood Hotel is “truly one of Sydney’s iconic establishments”.

“The venue has only had a few operators over its 25-year lifespan which is testament to its ongoing popularity and standing. It will undoubtedly appeal to a wide spectrum of hospitality operators across the country,” Mr Dragicevich said.

“The business currently achieves revenues of $9 million per annum and the recently reconfigured model is well positioned to take advantage of the of the short to medium term exponential growth within the North Sydney CBD.”

North Sydney is the state’s second largest CBD, outstripping Parramatta, Chatswood and Bondi Junction with the skyline set to be dramatically reshaped over the next few years with in excess of $2.5 billion worth of development investment.

At least three commercial skyscrapers, including a $200 million 44-level tower in the heart of Mount Street and a 30-storey commercial tower on Denis Street, are set to rise in the next 24 months with these developments following a rash of approvals which has seen five commercial towers and 14 residential towers approved over the last 18 months.

CBRE Director Sam Handy said the North Sydney CBD has undergone a real resurgence over the last few years. The CBD has previously been dominated by retail and commercial towers but there has been a renewed focus on residential development over the last 12-24 months.

“The North Sydney population is forecast to grow by 25 per cent over the next 20 years via increased supply of commercial and residential developments, accommodation hotels and the addition of the new Victoria Cross train station,” Mr Handy said.

The sale also comes as Dixon Hospitality, owners of over fifty food and beverage leasehold venues across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, are rumoured to be being circled by private equity buyers eager to acquire a strong cash flow offering an immediate national footprint, market share, size and scale.

It has been reported that Quadrant Private Equity and Adamantem Capital are currently running their rule over the entire portfolio.

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Investors circle SW Sydney land sites

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

The Malouf family is taking to market its large land holding in Sydney’s south-west, to take advantage of investor demand for assets near to the site of the proposed Badgerys Creek Airport.
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It has been in the family for many years and is one of the few “englobo” sites of this scale that has been bought to the market.

Englobo is an undeveloped lot, group of lots or parcel of land that is zoned to allow for, and capable of significant subdivision into smaller parcels under existing land use provisions.

There is no price guide but based on recent sales the ranges are from $1 million to $4 million per hectare depending on size, current zoning terms and location.

Colliers International’s Harry Bui, Fab Dalfonso and Joe Sacco are the agents on the site located at 565 Bringelly Road, Rossmore, and covering about 45.44 ha within the South West Growth Centre.

Other sales in the area have included the Dahua Group, which acquired 89 hectares of rural land at Menangle Park from Campbelltown City Council for $65 million in late 2016; Boyuan Holdings bought 40.5 hectares of rural land on the Northern Road in Bringelly for $70 million in January 2017; Aqualand bought a 12.51 hectare site, for $87 million in Baulkham Hill in January 2017.

Late last year, Dyldam Development bought a 20.02 ha Leppington Town Centre site for about $85 million.

“As one of the last remaining large englobo land sites in Sydney’s South West Growth Centre, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a strategic land holding in close proximity to Leppington train station and the proposed Badgerys Creek Airport,” Mr Bui, the national director, investment services at Colliers International, said.

“Demand for englobo sites of this scale have attracted strong interest from local and offshore developers keen to capitalise on consumer demand for new housing in growth corridors that offer proximity to existing or committed public infrastructure.

“Over the past 18 months similar land sales have resulted in substantial prices for their owners.”

The Department of Planning Sydney Growth Centres Strategic Assessment Draft Program Report May 2010, indicates 565 Bringelly Road, Rossmore, falls into the Rossmore precinct, although it is yet to be released or rezoned.

Mr Bui said, that according to government sources, subject to release, rezoning and development approval, the Rossmore precinct is expected to house about 9000 dwellings with a population of about 25,000 people, and a proposal to build a new town centre, neighbourhood centre and commercial space.

The site is also identified as part of an “enterprise corridor” in accordance with the 2014 Metropolitan Strategy – A Plan for Growing Sydney, which was released in December 2014 by Department of Planning and Environment.

“Sydney is currently experiencing a once-in-a-generation infrastructure boom, with Rossmore situated perfectly within close proximity to the Moorebank Intermodal employment hub and proposed Badgerys Creek Airport site,” Fab Dalfonso, the national director, industrial at Colliers International, said.

“Construction of the proposed new airport alone is expected to generate around 4000 new jobs during the peak of construction according to the government.

“The federal and state governments have also committed significant funding to infrastructure upgrades including the Bringelly Road upgrade and the NSW government is planning for growth in the area by preserving an additional public transport corridor in the south-west.”

According to Colliers International research, south-west and Western Sydney are predicted to be the growth engine of Australia’s economy.

“Over the next 20 years the government expects the population of south-west Sydney to grow by more than 325,850, which means more jobs, increased amenity and greater opportunity for local residents,” Joe Sacco, senior executive, investment services at Colliers International, said.

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CBA raises interest rates on investor and interest-only loans

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Australia’s biggest bank has hiked fixed interest rates on investor and interest-only home loans.
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The Commonwealth Bank said the move was to ensure it “continue[d] to meet our regulatory requirements”.

Fixed rates on interest-only loans will rise by 25 basis points, while investor home loans that are principal and interest will rise by 25 basis points. Investor loans that are interest only will rise by between 25 and 50 basis points.

The changes are effective immediately.

The big four banks have been lifting rates on investor and interest-only loans after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority moved to tighten lending in those areas amid concerns about heightened risk in the housing market.

The regulator wrote to all banks last month, outlining new requirements for banks to reduce interest-only lending to 30 per cent of total mortgage lending. Currently the banks sit at around 40 per cent.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is also conducting surveillance in the interest-only lending sector to identify lenders and mortgage brokers who are recommending high numbers of more expensive interest-only loans.

Interest-only lending allows borrowers to pay back only the interest on a loan over a period of time, usually up to five years. They are considered higher risk because the repayments rise sharply once the interest-only period ends.

CBA said home loan customers who already had a fixed rate loan with the bank would not be affected by the changes.

“Home buyers looking to make principal and interest repayments and live in their property are not affected,” a spokesperson said.

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Chevron eyes high court as it loses landmark tax case

Monday, 13 May, 2019

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 23: Grant Wardell-Johnson of KPMG poses for a picture on July 23, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel MunozMultinational oil giant Chevron has lost its appeal against a multimillion-dollar tax bill issued by the Australian Taxation Office, setting the scene for the tax man to challenge other companies with dubious tax schemes.
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While Chevron’s appeal to the Full Federal Court is not the end of the matter – the company has told Fairfax Media it may appeal to the High Court – the case has emboldened Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan to go after other multinationals.

The Australian Taxation Office has already issued tax bills totalling $2.9 billion to seven large companies.

The Chevron case was in many ways a major test case for the ATO, and will have global implications for the way tax paid by large companies is assessed.

The ATO has been fiercely battling Chevron in court over unpaid taxes between 2004 and 2008.

The case examined the tax deductibility of a $2.5 billion inter-company loan made from a Chevron subsidiary in Delaware to Chevron Australia.

The Full Federal Court unanimously agreed with the ATO that Chevron used a series of loans and related-party payments worth billions of dollars to slash its tax bill by about $300 million. ATO is ‘heartened’ by outcome

The agency has to date spent more than $10 million in out-of-pocket expenses in the the Chevron case and was hoping for a win.

The ATO will now be able to challenge other companies with similar transfer pricing arrangements.

In 2015, Chevron paid itself $2.2 billion in interest payments; that amount is over half of the $3.9 billion in offshore interest payments to related parties that the ATO reported for the offshore oil and gas industry in its recent submission.

“We are heartened by the outcome,” an ATO spokesman told Fairfax Media. “This is the first matter to reach an Australian court which tests how our transfer pricing rules apply to interest paid on a cross-border related party loan.

“In short, the Court did not accept the proposition that the Australian subsidiary group of Chevron should be allowed to claim interest on the basis that its borrowings should be judged under the transfer pricing rules as if it was a standalone ‘orphan’ company separate from the rest of the Chevron Group.”

“This decision is significant and has direct implications for a number of cases the ATO is currently pursuing in relation to related party loans, as well as indirect implications for other transfer pricing cases.”

The ATO noted that Australia’s transfer pricing rules have been further strengthened since the years under consideration in the Chevron decision, and there were also tougher domestic laws including the Multinational Anti-Avoidance Law and Diverted Profits Tax. Chevron can appeal

But a Chevron spokesman signalled this may not be the end of the battle. “Chevron is disappointed [with] today’s decision … We will review the decision to determine next steps, which may include an appeal to the High Court of Australia.

“As recognised by the trial court in the dispute, the financing is a legitimate business arrangement and the parties differ only in their assessments of the appropriate interest rate to apply.”

He said Chevron Australia was one of Australia’s largest investors and employers and since 2009 had paid almost $4 billion in federal and state taxes and royalties.

The tax and business community have also been keenly watching the case.

“The ATO’s win against Chevron should send a strong signal to all multinationals that these blatant tax avoidance schemes will be challenged,” said International Transport Workers Federation senior researcher Jason Ward. The union, which represents workers on the offshore LNG projects of WA, has been a vocal critic of Chevron.

“With this judgement, Chevron should be forced to change the current $42 billion loan which is already being audited by the ATO. If the current larger scheme is not restructured, Australians will lose billions more in future tax revenue.” Global ramifications

KPMG tax partner Grant Wardell-Johnson said the case would have global ramifications. Companies could no longer postulate that a subsidiary is completely independent of its parent.

“You cannot treat it as if it were an orphan,” he said. “Rather you must take into account the common ownership in determining the appropriate consideration.”

The Tax Institute’s senior tax counsel Robert Deutsch said “multinationals should as a matter of urgency review their existing offshore financing arrangements in light of this decision”.

“The decision may yet be appealed to the High Court but there is neither certainty that such an appeal will be made nor, if made, that it would be successful,” he said. “For the moment all parties should proceed on the basis that the Full Federal Court has provided the final word on this matter.”

Chartered Accountants tax leader Michael Croker said: “This is such an important win for the ATO and will influence many conversations with other multinational companies.”

He said the Chevron decision could influence government thinking on the need for further statutory limits on interest deductibility, noting Labor’s worldwide gearing ratio policy.

“But there are those who say Australia’s resource based economy and substantial infrastructure needs mean we cannot be too proscriptive on interest deductions,” he said. “One model is to impose restrictions but allow the Treasurer to authorise higher gearing for nation-building projects.”

Shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, said the decision highlighted the importance of closing debt-shifting loopholes. “For all its hot air, the Turnbull Government has consistently opposed Labor’s fair measures to tighten the rules that let multinationals use internal loans to shift profits offshore,” Mr Leigh said.

Australian Greens finance spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young said Chevron had fought for almost 15 years against paying its fair share of tax to Australians. “The Chevrons and Adanis of this world do not need, or deserve, handouts from the Australian taxpayer when billions are being ripped out of our school system and our young people are struggling with record cost-of-living expenses”. Senate inquiry

The Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance, which has looked at profit-shifting techniques used by tech giants including Apple, Google and Microsoft will now shift its full focus to the oil and gas industry. New hearings are expected to take place in Perth on April 28.

As outlined by both Chevron and the ATO in the Senate hearing in 2015, the new $42 billion loan, like the smaller $2.5 billion loan in the court case, is a hybrid loan structure. It reduces profits in Australia and makes tax-free interest income in Delaware.

The Delaware parent company, which has no office and employees, pays an annual filing fee to the state of Delaware of $US175 and no tax on interest income.

Chevron admitted in the Senate hearings that this larger loan, under audit by the ATO, could reduce corporate income tax payments in Australia by $15 billion. But tax experts say the actual impact could be much larger.

The ATO will be releasing detailed guidance to help companies with related party loans comply with Australia’s transfer pricing rules.

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

Coke loses fizz as Australians turn off soft drinks

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Investors in Coca-Cola Amatil have pummelled the soft drink giant after weak trading at its core local beverages arm prompted an earnings downgrade and sending shares down more than 10 per cent.
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Australia accounts for about two thirds of Coca-Cola Amatil’s market. The company has been challenged to grow market share in a saturated and price-sensitive market that has increasingly turned its back on soft drinks.

Scan data obtained by Fairfax Media revealed soft drink sales slumped 2.9 per cent in volume in the 2016 financial year across the aisles of Coles, Woolworths, Foodworks and IGA supermarkets, reversing almost a decade of growth in the sector.

“Trading in Australian Beverages for the year to date has been weaker than last year with all channels experiencing volume and price pressure due to competition and category trends,” Coca-Cola Amatil told the market on Friday.

“Amatil management expects underlying (before non-trading items) net profit after tax [NPAT] will decline in the first half of 2017.

“While our medium term target continues to be mid single-digit earnings per share growth, at this early stage of the year we are expecting full year underlying NPAT to be broadly in line with last year. This is largely driven by the challenges being experienced in Australian Beverages.”

After a solid run this year, Coca-Cola Amatil’s shares were smashed on Friday, closing down 10.7 per cent to $9.61, wiping about $800 million from the company’s market capitalisation.

Bruce Smith, of investment fund Alphinity, said the announcement cast doubt on Coca-Cola Amatil’s full-year results.

“Everyone has known that the local business has been struggling to grow volumes and it’s difficult for the whole company to prosper when the biggest part has flat or declining volumes,” he said.

“It feels a bit hopeful to say full year will be in line … being down to date, and with so much of the year to go and so much earned in the final quarter, I’d be surprised if the company was really confident about a flat full year.”

Dean Fergie, director and portfolio manager at Cyan Investment Management, described the announcement as “disappointing” and lacking in detail.

“I’m not surprised the re-rating has been sharp and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues,” he said.

“If they can’t produce even modest EPS [earnings per share] growth the stock moves from being what has previously been a growth stock to a value stock, and then your PE [price to earnings ratio] goes from 30 times back to 15.

“If I were a shareholder I’d be really reassessing my position because it looks like they’ve gone, certainly domestically, ex-growth.”

Coca-Cola Amatil, which is 29 per cent owned by The Coca-Cola Company of the US, said trading in New Zealand and Fiji, Alcohol, Coffee and food business SPC were within expectations.

Papua New Guinea was performing well and while trading in Indonesia continued to be affected by soft market growth, the business was delivering to expectations, it said.

“Amatil’s initiatives, which includes strategies to address the structural changes in our market and rebalance our portfolio, working together with our partner, The Coca-Cola Company, continue to be implemented. Further time is required for these initiatives to gain traction.”

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Sweating on every word – how ASIC massaged the banking message

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 20 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew Meares”Sorry about this, it’s obviously a huge deal for CFP [Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning unit]. They have sweated over EVERY word in the media release, believe me …”
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Rather than being an email from a CBA PR about a press release it was about to issue, it is an email from an ASIC executive, relating to an enforceable undertaking after finding gross misconduct in its financial planning division, thanks to a tip-off from CBA whistleblower Jeff Morris.

The executive was part of a process that saw ASIC taking weeks to draft press releases then submitting them for vetting to the very organisations they are supposed to be policing.

It sounds like something out of a Monty Python or Yes Minister skit but sadly it is not.

ASIC documents released in response to a freedom of information request made by News Limited two years ago show that it was commonplace until 2015 for ASIC to send draft press releases to the banks for feedback before issuing them to the media and the public.

In some cases ASIC acted like an extension of the banks’ PR team. By doing this it left itself open to being bullied into submission. Email correspondence between various ASIC staff reveals that sometimes the sugar-coating was self imposed, with some ASIC staff wanting to go in hard, while others pulled rank and went in soft. ‘Dialling down’

In one press release dated May 2014 that relates to ASIC imposing new licence conditions on two of CBA’s financial planning arms, an original draft press release called it for what it was: the business had “misled” ASIC over its compensation scheme and the methodology used to compensate clients.

But the word “misled” was dropped by an ASIC executive.

The ASIC media staffer, who no longer works at the regulator, wrote back: “We are not stating openly that CBA misled us? Are we dialling down that rhetoric?”

He goes on to say: “We have removed the reference about the results of the review being monitored by ASIC and will be made public? Do we want to consider that such a reference would provide some (even if on a minuscule scale) sort of comfort/reassurance to customers/media/observers who when they read this or hear about it third-hand will (already being disillusioned by how this matter has been handled) roll their eyes and refuse to believe there are no other surprises lurking about? Also consider the issue of transparency (then and now) being at the heart of this whole CFPL matter.”

The version that was released doesn’t mention “misled” and, after weeks of editing, plays down the significance of the licence conditions.

What is most interesting is the attitude of one of CBA’s spin doctors on receiving the draft release: “I think the language needs to align. A bit about semantics but we do need to be clear so will make some suggested adjustments.”

Asked about the arrangement a CBA spokesman said: “We value our relationship with regulators and we engage with them every day on a range of topics. ASIC plays a crucial role in ensuring Australia has a strong and stable financial system, and fact-checking statements prior to announcements is an important part of a regulatory process.”

It is all too cosy. Neutral tone

“Systemic fraud”, “systemic theft”, doctoring of customer files and “lying to clients”, were some of the words used by Senator Mark Bishop, who chaired the Senate inquiry into ASIC and the CBA, and recommended a royal commission into the bank’s financial planning arm.

In contrast, ASIC’s press releases favour a “neutral tone” about its concerns, as one email relating to a NAB release reveals. Words such as “superficial” were airbrushed from a Macquarie draft press release despite an independent experts report being considered a “sham” by a senior officer at ASIC.

In one press release ASIC deliberately left out the compensation figure despite knowing what it was. Correspondence between ASIC and Westpac relating to a dodgy Westpac home loan manager, David St Pierre, who has since been sentenced to jail, was rejigged with the ASIC PR saying to her colleague the restructure was to “placate” Westpac.

Emails show Westpac and ASIC discussing the timing of the media release and Westpac giving ASIC the heads-up it was briefing Senator Williams.

Again, not a good look. Nor was ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell’s curious remarks: “Given the good Senator’s current practices we should expect it to be leaked very quickly. I assume Westpac understand this?”

What is particularly disturbing is ASIC continued to send out draft press releases to the banks after chairman Greg Medcraft told a parliamentary inquiry into the performance of ASIC that the regulator had been “too trusting” of the banks, particularly CBA in its dealings with it over a financial planning arm.

That same Senate inquiry had found ASIC was too timid and trusting and that this was “inherently dangerous to ASIC’s legitimacy as a regulator”. ASIC promised to lift its game. Despite this, the policy to show draft releases and allow them to be edited continued. Culture exposed

It speaks volumes about the culture. It can only serve to embarrass Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who described ASIC as the tough cop on the beat when defending his decision not to have a royal commission into financial services despite public support.

ASIC says it changed its policy on media releases in February 2015. That’s all well and good, but the brutal reality is that policy only changed after Fairfax Media embarrassed it with an article, “ASIC allowed NAB to check and alter media releases”, in February 2015. The article was picked up in a Senate hearing by Senator Williams, with a commitment from ASIC that it wouldn’t do it anymore.

The information was supplied to Fairfax by a NAB whistleblower who released documents that showed ASIC agreeing to alter a draft media release about a significant, six-year-long system error in NAB Wealth’s Navigator platform, which affected tens of thousands of customers.

These documents shine a light on the impact of getting the heads-up on press releases. One internal NAB document says that “feedback provided was incorporated into the final release”, contributing to a “well executed” strategy that resulted in “minimal” media coverage and public reaction.

It was a win for NAB. A February 2014 document obtained by Fairfax refers to ASIC’s acceptance of NAB’s plan to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers to independently review the Navigator problem. “This approach avoided a formal enforceable undertaking.”

A second February document states: “This is a less severe regulatory outcome than was originally anticipated.”

Instead of calling it for what it was, the media release, issued on May 2, 2014, described it as “a systems error that resulted in some customers having incorrect investment income allocated to their account”. In the media release, ASIC acknowledged the “co-operative approach taken by NAB Wealth in this matter”. Macquarie sham

Another set of correspondence relating to Macquarie and its financial planning scandal describes an Ernst & Young independent experts report as a “sham”.

The ASIC officer Adrian Borchok, who has since left ASIC, who labelled it a sham requests the word superficial be included in the draft press release. However, Louise Macaulay, who is still at ASIC, wrote: “In para 5 do we really want to say ‘superficial’, as MEL [Macquarie Equities Limited] did engage EY to do a review of their compliance system.”

Borchok fired back: “I think the use of ‘superficial’ is appropriate because it reflects the situation. Further, the EY review was a sham therefore they are getting off easy with ‘superficial’.”

Correspondence such as this never came to light in the Senate inquiry into ASIC. Nor was it raised as an issue in a productivity commission report into ASIC and its capabilities.

A royal commission would compel complete correspondence as well as the various independent expert reports, along with a lot more.

Is it regulatory capture? Naivety? Why ASIC adopted such a policy in the first place is hard to understand. Whatever the reason, it strikes at the heart of the culture inside the regulator. It is why when Mr Medcraft finishes his term as chairman later this year it is imperative his replacement comes from outside and isn’t part of the club.

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

Litbits April 22 2017

Monday, 13 May, 2019

ABR Gender Fellowship
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Australian Book Review is seeking proposals for a substantial article on any aspect of gender in Australian literature (any genre). The Fellowship is worth $7500 and applications $7500. Applications close May 1. See: australianbookreview南京夜网419论坛. ACU Poetry Prize

Entries for the 2017 Australian Catholic University (ACU) Prize for Poetry are open until July 3, with a $10,000 first prize for poetry with the theme “Joy”. See: acu.edu419论坛/poetry-prize. What’s on

April 22: Canberra author Courtney Carr will be signing copies of her debut science fiction horror novel Cosmic Decay: Contamination at Paperchain Manuka at 11am.

April 24: Queanbeyan writer Omar Musa will launch his third book of poetry, Millefiori, at Smith’s Alternative at 7pm. Tickets $10. smithsalternative南京夜网.

April 23: In Writing While Female at Muse Canberra, some Canberra writers of life explore what it means to write as a woman. Featuring Jessica Friedmann, Lisa Fuller, Zoya Patel and Melinda Smith. Tickets $10 includes a drink.Bookings: musecanberra南京夜网419论坛/events/.

April 26: Dympha by Judith Armstrong tells the story of the wife of historian Manning Clark. Armstrong will discuss her book in the National Library Conference Room at 6pm. Admission free. Nla.gov419论坛.

April 27: The Mysterious Mr Jacob: Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy author John Zubrzycki will talk about his latest book at Asia Bookroom, Lawry Place, Macquarie (adjacent to the Jamison Centre) at 6pm. RSVP to 62515191. Entry by gold coin donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. See: AsiaBookroom南京夜网.

April, 27: At 6.15pm for 7pm at the University House Common Room. Meet the Chef dinner with Valli Little who will be in conversation with Alex Sloan on Little’s new book My Kind of Food. $85 per person for pre-dinner canapes, three course dinner with wines from Mount Majura Vineyard. Bookings at: http://unihouse.anu.edu419论坛/events/meet-the-chef-dinner-with-valli-little/

April 27: At 7 for 7pm, John Foulcher, Melinda Smith, and Hazel Hall are reading at Manning Clark House. $10.00 entry at door, wine and nibbles served. Contact 0478640169 for more information.

April 30: At Muse Canberra, in Question Time:Katy Gallagher find out if and how Katy Gallagher, the person is different from Senator Katy Gallagher, federal politician. Tickets $10 includes a drink.Bookings: musecanberra南京夜网419论坛/events/.

May 4: In the lunchtime event The Long Table, Meg and Tom Keneally’s The Unmourned will be launched at Muse Canberra at noon. Tickets $75 includes 90-minute two-course lunch and a copy of the book. musecanberra南京夜网419论坛.

May 6: At 2pm at the National Archives of Australia, Professor Joan Beaumont’s book Moving Beyond 1915 Remembrance will be launched for Peace Works! at the National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace. There will be displays and events and free refreshments from 10am to 4pm..

May 6: Come for afternoon tea with Jenevieve Chang, author of The Good Girl of Chinatown: From suburban Sydney to Shanghai Show Girl at 2pm at Asia Bookroom, Lawry Place, Macquarie (adjacent to Jamison) RSVP to 62515191. Entry by gold coin donation to the Australian Childhood Foundation. See:AsiaBookroom南京夜网

May 8: At 6.30pm, Manning Clark Lecture Theatre 2, ANU, in an ANU/The Canberra Times meet the author event, xo-founder and creative director of the Mama Mia Women’s Network, Mia Freedman, will be in conversation with Genevieve Jacobs on Freedman’s new book: Work, Strife, Balance. Free event. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Pre-book signings at 6pm.

May 10: The next Poetry at the House reading is at University House at 7.30 pm. It will feature Louise Nicholas (from Adelaide), Paul Cliff (from Canberra) and Victoria McGrath (from Yass). Admission: $10 waged, $5 unwaged. RSVP: [email protected]论坛.

May 11: Still touching hearts: an evening with May Gibbs for the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature. Includes a presentation of original artwork to the Centre by Jane Brummitt, co-author of May Gibbs More than a Fairy Tale. 5.30-7pm at ALIA House, 9-11 Napier Close Deakin. $15 ($12 for CBCA members). RSVP by May 9: [email protected]南京夜网.

May 13: Plotting Your Novel with Ian McHugh is a writing workshop from 10am to 4pm in the E-Block Seminar Room, Gorman Arts Centre. Cost: $145 members, $210 non-members (includes 12-month membership). Concession rates available. Bookings: bit.ly/ianmchugh.

May 29: At 6pm at the Copland Lecture Theatre, ANU in an ANU/ Canberra Times meet the author event, Robert Dessaix will be in conversation with Professor Nicholas Brown on Dessaix’s new book, The Pleasures of Leisure. Free event. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Pre-book signings at 5:30 PM .

May 30: At 6.30pm in the Copland Lecture Theatre, ANU in an ANU/Canberra Times meet the author. Chloe Shorten will be in conversation with Anna-Maria Arabia on Shorten’s new book, Take Heart: A Story for Modern Stepfamilies. Free event. Bookings at anu.edu419论坛/events or 6125 4144. Pre-book signings at 6pm.

* Contributions to Litbits are welcome. Please email [email protected]南京夜网419论坛 by COB on the Monday prior to publication. Publication is not guaranteed.


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Embassy workers allege ‘betrayal’ over unpaid super

Saturday, 13 April, 2019

A former Canberra embassy worker has spoken of her “betrayal” by her former employers, the Spanish government, which is accused of refusing to hand over years worth of superannuation payments.
Nanjing Night Net

Another former worker for the Spanish government in Australia says she has been left disabled by cancer but without vital disability cover because of the consulate’s failure to pay her super.

The two women are now taking legal action against their former employer, looking to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid super, interest and penalties.

But the Spanish government has defended itself, claiming its two former employees were covered by their home country’s social welfare system during the periods in question and their current claim was an attempt to “double-dip”.

Lawyers for the two women, Maurice Blackburn, says the case is the latest example of foreign governments refusing to follow Australian workplace laws.

Canberra grandmother Esperanza Poveda had two stints as a secretary at the embassy of Spain in Canberra between 1986 and 1998, and from 2004 until 2014.

In 2012, she secured an order from the ATO for the embassy to pay her unpaid super for the second period she worked there, but she says her former bosses refused to pay her for her first stint.

Maurice Blackburn is claiming damages of $68,000, for Ms Poveda which includes $32,000 in unpaid superannuation for 1992-1998 and penalty interest.

Melbourne woman Miren Itziar Urbieta worked at Spain’s consulate in the Victorian capital for 18 years until 2011 and says she was not any paid any superannuation at all.

According to her lawyers, the consulate’s failure to pay her superannuation, left her ineligible for total and permanent disability cover through her VicSuper fund and she is battling tonsil cancer which has left her permanently disabled since 2015.

Ms Urbieta is seeking damages of $131,000 including $54,000 in unpaid superannuation, $62,000 in penalty interest, and $15,000 for the TPD benefit that she would have been entitled to if super payments had been made into her VicSuper account.

Ms Poveda told Fairfax that she “furious” at the Spanish government over its treatment of her and her colleague.

“I feel furious because they think they can do whatever they want, like they do in Spain, and they think they can do the same thing here,” Ms Poveda said.

“I think its time for the Australian authorities to say that’s enough and you have to obey the Australian law.”

But a spokesman for the Spanish embassy indicated it would be defending the claims, saying the women were covered by the Spanish social security system during the period in question and were therefore not entitled to payments under the Australian system.

He also denied Maurice Blackburn’s claim that the embassy had not engaged with the law firm.

“We have been in touch by phone and the decision coming from our government has been duly notified to the former employees,” the spokesman said.

“The former employees opted expressly to be under the coverage of the Spanish social security.

“Their current claim implies a double dipping situation prohibited by law.”

But Maurice Blackburn lawyer Josh Mennen dismissed the Spanish defence as “absurd”.

“To suggest that an employee who resides and is domiciled in Australia is ‘double dipping’ by seeking their minimum superannuation contributions because they are said to have some cover under the Spanish social security system is absurd,” Mr Mennen said.

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