CRUCIAL JUNCTURE: The NRL are eager for Wests to assume ownership of the Knights but need to convince the group’s seven board members.THE salvationof the Newcastle Knights could hinge on a show of hands, possibly within a matter of days.
After months of confidential negotiations –confirmed this week by Knights chairman Brian McGuigan –theNewcastle Heraldunderstands that the Wests Group board of directors remain undecided about the NRL’s bid to sell them Newcastle’s embattled rugby leaguefranchise.
It is believed the NRL will soon be sending a high-powered delegation to Newcastle to meet face-to-face with the seven directors –chairman Owen Kilpatrick, Wayne Hore, John McLaughlin, Geoff Coburn,Jack Ashman, BobDarcy and Scott Holmes, as well as chief executive Phil Gardner –in an attempt to clinch a deal.
Having funded the Knights for almost three years since the demise of former owner Nathan Tinkler, the NRL have reached the conclusion that a Wests takeover is the only feasibleoption.
If it cannot be agreed by the end of this season, there are genuine fears the governing body will turn its attentionto relocating the franchise andforming a second Brisbane team.
This might seem unthinkable to Knights fans, especially in light of last week’s21,412-strong crowd for the clash with Sydney Roosters at McDonald Jones Stadium.
But the governing body has always maintained that its ownership of the Newcastle franchise was an interim measure. Their budgetis not unlimited, nor is their patience.
The NRL put the Knights out to tender late last year, but despite expressions of interest, no suitable consortium or individual emerged.
Combine that with the club’s financially troubled history, dating back to its foundation season in 1988, and would it be any real surprise if the powers-that-be started to seriously question Newcastle’s viability?
Relocating the team, and using Newcastleto hostoccasional games, as clubs do with Central Coast Stadium, might be a last resort. But you can bet your bottom dollar it has been discussed.
All of which can be avoided if Wests agree to come to the party.
The licensed-club juggernaut was immediately identified after Tinkler’s demise as the NRL’s best option to replace him.
As then NRL chief executive Dave Smith said at the time: “As a leagues club they [Wests] have been incredibly successful …you could see how there would be a natural alignment.”
It is believed Wests were interested in taking over the Knights, but only on their terms.
They wanted the remainder of the bank guarantee ($5.1 million) Tinkler forfeited, and further NRL funding tosafeguard against incurring any costs.
The NRL decided they could do better. With the benefit of hindsight, it appears they were wrong.
With no viable alternatives, the NRL returned to the table with Wests early this year.
Unlike the other interested parties during last year’s tender process, Wests tick every box. They are a local organisation, founded by rugby league people, with a massive community presence.
And most of all, they have the necessary financial clout. According to the group’s last financial statement, for the year ended January 31, 2016, they enjoyed a record turnover of almost $137 millionand banked a net profit of$23.186 million.
That took the group’s net assets to$207.6million.
How much would it costto buy out the Knights?
TheHeraldunderstands the major outlaywould be $10 million towards a proposed rugby league centre of excellence, plus yet-to-be-determined running costs that the NRL maintains will be offset by increased club grants from 2018 onwards.
The NSW Government has committed to matching NRL clubs on a dollar-for-dollar basis to build centres of excellence, so Newcastle is in line to receive a state-of-the-art $20 million complex.
It would be situated at District Park, Broadmeadow, possibly replacingthe existing harness-racing track.
So by agreeing to the NRL’s offer, Wests could potentially not only save the Knights from the threat of extinction but contribute towards perhaps the most impressive sporting facility in Newcastle’s history.
That would be some legacy.
So what is stopping them?
Well, their track record would suggest the Wests board rarely make a bad business decision.
They buy struggling, run-down licensed premises, renovate, and turn them into thriving establishments.
As one source said: “They don’t waste one dollar.
“They treat it as if it’s their own money.’’
One of the fewregrettableinvestments they have made over the years was in 2005, when the Knights were verging on insolvency and Wests committed $1 million a year to underwrite the city’s NRL flagship.
It was a partnership that lasted barely twoacrimonious years, afterthe Knights posteda $1.3 million deficit in 2007 and Wests angrily rejected some of the liabilities.
The arrangement was eventually terminated, although Wests continued to support the Knights by providing a training and administration base.
Kilpatrick, who has been a board member for 45 years and president for 11,Hore (36 years), Coburn (24 years), McLaughlin (19 years) and Ashman (16 years) were all directors during that contretemps.
Once burned, twice shy.
It would also be understandable if Wests felt they have already been extremely generous to the Knights for 30 years and have no real need to acquire an “asset” that, history suggests, has been a money pit.
There certainly appears to be a degree of wariness.
TheHeraldhas been told that at a recent board meeting, three directors voted in favour of the NRL proposal, three opposed it, and one abstained, for reasons unknown.
Soon they are expected to vote again, after hearing the NRL’s sales pitch. A ballot, apparently, that they are constitutionally entitled to holdwith no input from the group’s members, who at last count talliedmore than 120,000.
Knights fans can only hope that when it comes time for the directors to raise their hands, those in favour holdthe majority.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is facing claims he has spread “children overboard” style misinformation by appearing to blame asylum seekers for last week’s violent outburst at the Manus Island detention centre.
Mr Dutton on Thursday raised the possibility that fears over a five-year-old local boy who was allegedly led into the Australian-run facility sparked the fighting, which resulted in PNG soldiers and police firing up to 100 gunshots.
Without specifying the timing of the alleged incident, Mr Dutton said there was “a lot of angst” in the community about why three asylum seekers had brought a child into the centre – especially in light of two sexual assault charges earlier this year.
But officials in PNG disputed that account on Friday. Manus Province police commander David Yapu confirmed a child had been brought into the facility but said it took place “about one week” before the Good Friday brawl, and had nothing to do with the later outbreak of violence.
“A child about 10 years old was taken into the centre and then was given some fruit,” Mr Yapu told Fairfax Media by telephone.
“Then Wilson Security had to intervene and get him out from the centre. That had nothing to do with the latest incident involving soldiers.”
The child was returned to his parents unharmed, Mr Yapu confirmed. He said the police investigation into Friday’s incident was ongoing but stressed: “The child issue is unrelated – unrelated.”
“That’s a total different issue altogether,” he said.
Fairfax Media did not receive a response from Mr Dutton’s office before deadline.
PNG Defence Force chief of staff Raymond Numa, whose soldiers were accused by police of drunken violence in the Good Friday brawl, told Fairfax Media he was not aware of the involvement of a child.
“On the preliminary investigation, there’s no mention about a young boy being led into the detention centre,” he said Friday.
Refugees at the Manus Island facility have also vehemently denied any link between the fight and the incident involving the child.
Benham Satah said on Facebook that two weeks ago a boy who was asking for money or food was brought to the centre and given fruit, before being escorted away by Wilson Security.
Australia-based refugee advocate Ian Rintoul, who has visited the Manus Island facility, said it was “farcical” to suggest refugees could “lead” a child into the detention centre without being noticed by authorities.
“There’s a constant movement of staff up and down that road,” he said. “The idea that anyone could lead a boy away from the soccer field back to the detention centre, unimpeded or unquestioned or unobserved, is absurd. It just wouldn’t happen.”
Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim seized on the discrepancies and called on Mr Dutton to resign or be sacked.
“It’s bloody outrageous. He’s been caught out lying and he’s got to go,” Senator McKim told Fairfax Media.
He said the apparent conflation of two separate events by Mr Dutton “smacks of children overboard” – a reference to false claims from the Howard government that asylum seekers threw their children off leaky boats to prompt a rescue.
Meanwhile, a long-running Senate inquiry into alleged incidents of self-harm and abuse on Manus Island and Nauru handed down a report that fell along party lines.
Labor and Greens senators recommended an independent audit and investigation of incidents at both islands, including responses by contractor Broadspectrum.
As part of the inquiry, the Immigration Department on Friday confirmed 41 people at the Nauru regional processing centre had been diagnosed with Dengue fever.
Coalition senators dismissed the entire inquiry as “a politically motivated public-relations stunt” designed to tarnish Operation Sovereign Borders by “interference and hearsay”.
Time magazine has unveiled its 100 most influential people of the year, with a list that includes the likes of Samantha Bee, Chance the Rapper and Ivanka Trump. Australia’s Margot Robbie also made the cut.
The list includes artists, business types and icons.
In keeping with tradition, the magazine had other influential people write their new Linkedin bio for them, with a paragraph on what makes them so influential.
And the best part was reading the woman-to-woman affirmations from one famous woman to another, an important thing to note when the gender pay gap exists even in Hollywood and women can sometimes struggle to be heard. It’s kind of like the magazine version of the ‘amplification’ strategy that women on Barack Obama’s team used when he was in office to make sure they had a seat at the table/didn’t have some average dude getting all the credit simply because he spoke up in the brainstorm session.
According to the Washington Post, ‘amplification’ worked like this.
“When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognise the contribution ??? and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”
“We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,” one former Obama aide told the reporter.
And it worked. President Obama called on women and more junior staff more often.
Then there’s ‘shine theory’ which is, as described by writer Ann Friedman, all about surrounding yourself with women that you admire and revelling in their gloriousness, rather than feeling intimidated or jealous of them.
“When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her. Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better,” writes Friedman.
So back to that Time list. Below are some of the best things that famous women – arguably the shiniest of them all – had to say about each other.
Emma Stone, by Brie Larson
“Emma takes on significant roles off-screen as well. The selfless friend. The wise psychiatrist. The fearless leader. The coolest girl at the party. (She’s even the intense soccer mom, cheering you on, no matter what, at the top of her lungs.) I know that she has played all of these roles in my life. And for that I’m lucky to call her my friend.
But what I really admire about Emma the person???as well as Emma the actor???is that she is never afraid to show us the most difficult thing you can show the world: yourself.”
Viola Davis, by Meryl Streep
“???Viola has carved a place for herself on the Mount Rushmore of the 21st century – new faces emerging from a neglected mountain. And when she tells the story of how she got from where she was to where she is, it is as if she is on a pilgrimage, following her own footsteps and honouring that journey. Her gifts as an artist are unassailable, undeniable, deep and rich and true.”
Melinda Gates, by Sheryl Sandberg
“Her vision for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has helped lift the lives of millions of people. Its work reflects her impatient optimism. Her ability to think big and move fast. Her love of numbers. (Bill’s not the only data geek in the family.) Her passionate commitment to empowering women and girls, seen in the foundation’s support for increasing access to contraceptives in developing countries. Her fundamental belief in human dignity. It’s all there, woven tightly into the DNA of one of the most ambitious and generous philanthropies in history. And with the launch of her new organisation, Pivotal Ventures, Melinda has yet another avenue to effect meaningful change.
“Her impact will be felt for generations to come.”
Simone Biles, by Leslie Jones
“Simone is a very extraordinary person, and she’s going to be a very extraordinary grownup.”
Demi Lovato, by Arianna Huffington
“Demi Lovato is a remarkably talented artist and performer. But her courage, honesty and willingness to use her own experiences to help others are what make her a true star.”
There are no plans for Australia to follow the UK policy of requiring internet service providers to offer network-level filters that block online porn.
The option isn’t part of the government’s response to a senate committee inquiry into harm being done to children through access to pornography.
The government will wait instead for new research and will support continued education for parents and teachers.
The inquiry received 416 submissions, many of which proposed filtering pornographic content to make it inaccessible for children.
Britain introduced optional filtering for new ISP customers at the end of 2013 and it’s been extended to existing users on a rolling basis.
The committee reported that between six and 40 per cent of UK customers [depending on the ISP] had taken up filtering by June 2015.
The Australian Christian Lobby recommended blocking pornography at ISP level by default, requiring adults to opt in.
The Burnet Institute argued ISP-level filtering was unlikely to succeed for technical reasons and the committee heard that parental control tools currently exist.
The government acknowledged evidence that pornography harms children.
The Royal Australian College of Physicians submitted that one study found 28 per cent of 9-16 year-olds had seen sexual material online and 73 per cent of 15-16 year-olds.
A 2013 UK study revealed 11 as the average first age of exposure to pornography.
Evidence to the committee showed harm included pornography being used as sex education; distress for young children; addictive behaviour; changing sexual practices; consequences for body image and self-esteem; viewing women as sex objects and potential sexual offending.
The Australian Medical Association submitted the proliferation of online pornography was shaping social norms in relation to sexuality.
“The AMA believes that children viewing highly sexualised pornographic material are at risk of negatively affecting their psychological development and mental health by potentially skewing their views of normality and acceptable behaviour,” the submission said.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists told the inquiry that children exposed to pornographic material could exhibit inappropriate and distorted sexual behaviour.
“Anecdotally, exposure to pornography is an element of some presentations at child and adolescent mental health services, however more research and data is needed in this area,” the college said.
Professor Freda Briggs [dec], foundation chair of child development at the University of South Australia, submitted last year that child sex offenders used pornography to seduce targeted victims.
“There is research evidence that pornography affects the brain in much the same way as drugs,” Professor Briggs wrote.
“It can become addictive.
“There is international evidence that some children become addicted to downloading pornography and rape younger children.
“… clearly we are paying too high a price for adults’ right to view whatever they wish regardless of the consequences for young people and society.”
The committee concluded more research was needed and suggested a national forum to “build consensus on whether a problem exists that warrants government intervention, and if so, the policy options that should be pursued”.
The government’s response says having the right policy settings and programs in place is critical.
It says in July 2015 the government established the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to take a national leadership role with education resources through a web portal.
“While significant progress has been made to increase the protection for vulnerable Australians on the internet more can always be done,” the response says.
“The government is committed to further consultation and research to ensure that our future policy responses can be even more effectively and efficiently targeted.”
Some Canberra teachers are reducing their hours to better cope with a workload the education union has labelled a major threat to the workforce’s health and wellbeing.
One long-serving secondary school teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, said the increasing expectation that teachers would complete administrative work without recognition of what they already did left her feeling like she was “drowning”.
Teachers in Canberra preschools and primary schools may teach up to 21 hours and 30 minutes face-to-face each week. In high schools and colleges, teachers may be asked to teach up to 19 hours weekly, averaged over the year.
As well, teachers are expected to undertake curriculum planning, assessment, student supervision, reporting, professional learning, parent-teacher interviews and “activities to enrich the educational experience of students”, an Education Directorate spokeswoman said.
The Canberra teacher said “intrusive” administrative work was unable to be completed during school hours and had eaten into family life.
She this year reduced her workload from full-time to .8, a reduction of one day per week, and said several others she knew had done the same.
“It’s not about the stuff that I really love which is preparing, and I even enjoy marking kids’ work and reporting,” she said.
“It’s filling out online surveys and the burden of administration stuff about TQI [ACT Teacher Quality Institute], it just sort of seems that instead of having a couple of jobs you have to do a day it seems that it’s job after job after job.
“You can’t breathe.”
Australian Education Union ACT branch secretary Glenn Fowler said excessive workload was a threat to the sector’s ability to attract and retain quality staff.
“We hear anecdotally from teachers who have regrettably chosen to go part-time and thereby reduce their income in order to cope with demands,” he said.
“Hours of 50 per week for teachers and more than 60 per week for school leaders are unsustainable and cannot continue.”
The union welcomed recent government initiatives that recognised teacher workload. The Education Directorate allocated $6 million to address workload issues in 2016-17.
“Each school has an established workload committee to monitor, review and address local site workload issues,” the directorate spokeswoman said.
“In addition, the directorate has established a system workload leadership team to support schools to develop and implement workload reduction plans and drive sustainable workload reduction to enable teachers’ time to focus on their core role of improving student learning in the classroom. Teachers are required to participate in approved professional learning and time is allocated to this.
“The ACT government is committed to supporting teachers through a range of measures including employing support staff to provide administrative support for teachers.”
Classroom teachers in their first year of teaching have reduced face-to-face teaching loads, the directorate spokeswoman said.
Sydney’s measles patient count continues to rise, with the latest infectious person spending time at the Powerhouse Museum, Darling Harbour and a busy shopping centre in the middle of school holidays.
NSW Health is urging people between 20 and 40 years old to check they have been fully immunised against the infectious disease, reporting the latest person to contract measles only had their first dose of the vaccine.
The most recent case brings to 17 the number of patients connected to an outbreak in western Sydney, and the total number of NSW measles cases so far this year to 23.
While infectious, the individual visited: Powerhouse Museum on April 14 in the early afternoonRashays, Darling Harbour on April 14 later in the afternoonLiverpool Westfield, including an optometry practice on April 13,15 and 17Blacktown Hospital on April 15 between approximately 7.30 and 8pmCasula Central Medical Practice and Chemist Warehouse on April 18 at approximately 10am
“Our public health units are contacting people known to have been in those locations to offer preventive injections, as appropriate. However, it will not be possible to identify and contact all people who may have been exposed to the disease,” Director of Communicable Disease at NSW Health Vicky Sheppeard said.
“Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease,” she said.
People born between 1966 and 1994 may have only had one dose of the vaccine rather than the two doses needed due to the changing vaccination schedules over the period, Dr Sheppeard said.
“We are urging all people in this age bracket to check their vaccination history and have the measles vaccine if they do not have a record of having received two doses previously.
“Don’t assume you are covered unless you have written records of two doses. It is perfectly safe to have the measles vaccine again, if you are not sure whether you’ve had two doses of the vaccination in the past,” she said.
The vaccine is free to people in this age group through GPs.
Dr Sheppeard said it was important for people to watch for symptoms, arrange to see the GP if concerned, and limit exposure to others until the GP has made a diagnosis.
Symptoms of measles include fever, sore red eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head and neck to the rest of the body.
US Vice-President Mike Pence has his work cut out for him during his first Australian visit this weekend, with a new poll showing 60 per cent of voters have a negative view of Donald Trump.
Mr Pence, the first senior US administration official to visit Australia since the Republicans’ shock election wins last year, will meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney to discuss regional security and the North Korean nuclear threat, as part of efforts to reassure America’s allies in Asia and smooth over relations with the federal government.
A new poll from the left-leaning think-tank the Australia Institute shows 60 per cent of Australians think Mr Trump’s election will result in a negative outcome for the world, while 48 per cent said Australia should be more independent from America on military and security matters.
The poll of 1420 voters released on Friday showed 19 per cent said the New York businessman’s win was a positive outcome, with 65 per cent of women and 55 per cent of men responding negatively.
Asked if Australian “politicians should be more like Donald Trump”, 70 per cent of respondents disagreed.
There was little support for Mr Trump to be invited to address federal Parliament, with 54 per cent answering no and 32 per cent saying the President should receive the honour.
Mr Trump’s domestic approval ratings are the worst for a new president in recent history.
Australia Institute deputy director Ebony Bennett said voters had a dim view of Mr Trump as an ally.
“As a nation with a strong alliance with the United States, Australia is well positioned to provide frank and fearless counsel to the Trump administration,” she said.
The alliance was rocked by a January phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull, when the pair clashed over an asylum seeker deal signed with the Obama administration.
Mr Pence will meet Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during the three-day visit.
When looking to pick an A-League team of the season it’s tempting just to stick in the whole of the Sydney first XI.
After all, Graham Arnold’s team have proven themselves week after week to be so far ahead of the rest that even second-placed Melbourne Victory have needed binoculars to see them in the distance.
Sydney has set a new benchmark for the most competition points in a season, their 66 in 27 games bettering Brisbane Roar’s 2010-11 record of 65 points in a 30-game season.
They also set a record for an undefeated start to a campaign, going 19 games without a loss, and also became the first team to post 20 wins in a regular season.
Not surprisingly, the 17 points by which they won the title was also a new standard, bettering the 12 points Victory had to spare over their opposition in 2006-07.
What has been a key to Sydney’s success has been their parsimony at the back, which is why our team of the season features four of the Sydney back five. Hardly surprising given they have conceded only 12 goals in 27 matches, keeping 16 clean sheets in the process.
So step forward Danny Vukovic, Rhyan Grant, Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo, respectively the goalkeeper, right-back, centre-half and left-back of the all-conquering Sydney squad.
Vukovic has given Sydney stability between the posts and his excellent form this season was rewarded by national-team coach Ange Postecoglou with a call-up for the Socceroos for the recent World Cup qualifiers against the UAE and Iraq.
So, too, was marauding full-back Rhyan Grant, whose driving runs and energy have made him a key component on the flanks for the Premiers.
Alex Wilkinson’s days in the Socceroos may be over but he is still a rock-solid proposition at the heart of defence. Along with Vukovic he has given Sydney a solid spine that they lacked before and his calmness and organisational ability have played a major role in the Sky Blues’ concession of so few goals.
Zullo is, like Wilkinson, another former Socceroo who appears to have been discarded at national-team level. But he has enjoyed a new lease of life in the NSW capital after leaving Melbourne City last season and his pace and skill on the left flank mirrors Grant’s work on the right.
There are few candidates who stand out to partner Wilkinson. Jordi Buijs would be a contender, but the Dutchman only joined Sydney in January and missed half the season.
Evergreen Jade North has started in 24 games for Brisbane this season, but perhaps Danish defender Michael Jakobsen might get the nod. His coach, Michael Valkanis, says he is the best centre-back in the league, and City badly missed his defensive nous when he was out of action for eight weeks.
Given this is a team that will play only on paper we can eschew some of the niceties of real-life selection.
Were this side facing an Asian Champions League opponent we might be tempted to field two midfielders of the ilk of Sydney pair Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brilliante to provide a base for the likes of Milos Ninkovic, their Sky Blue teammate, to wave his creative wand.
But as it’s playing in fantasy land we can dispense with the blue-collar virtues of holding midfielders and plump for creativity in our midfield unit.
So the Serbian Ninkovic is the first name on this list, alongside the Argentinian Nicolas Martinez, who has lit up the centre of the park for Western Sydney Wanderers as Tony Popovic’s men made a late-season charge to the finals.
We can also find a place for Melbourne Victory’s James Troisi, whose consistent season and attacking flair has allowed him to win his place back in the Socceroos squad.
Up front it’s hard to go past the two men who shared the Golden Boot award this season, Victory’s Besart Berisha and Brisbane’s Jamie Maclaren, with Perth’s scintillating Spaniard Diego Castro also adding to the squad’s attacking armoury.
Tim Cahill has delivered in the big moments for Melbourne City, so he is on the bench, alongside teammate Bruno Fornaroli, Kiwi winger Marco Rojas, with Rojas’ Victory teammate Lawrence Thomas as back-up shot stopper and the aforementioned O’Neill and Brillan
This is a side that is certainly entertaining and attacking. And who, in a fantasy world, is going to argue against picking a side that plays fantasy football?
“Leverage is the only way a smart guy can go broke.” – Warren Buffett.
Borrowing to invest. The idea is almost as old as investing itself. Australians know the concept only too well, having dramatically increased our household debt levels as we chase ever-higher property prices.
And, thus far at least, it’s been a successful strategy – using the bank’s money to lock in a price on an asset that has gone nowhere but up (quiet, you West Australians, we like our “property never goes down” fiction, thank you very much).
As it should be. After all, if you put $100,000 down and borrow the rest to buy a $1 million property, it needs to rise only 10 per cent, to $1.1 million, and you’ve doubled your money (the $100,000 profit compared with the $100,000 deposit you saved).
See, money for jam. Of course, if that same house fell in price to $900,000, your equity goes from $100,000 to, well, something you can carry around in a thimble ??? with space left for your finger.
Now, reasonable, intelligent people can disagree on will happen next with house prices, but the maths doesn’t lie. That is what leverage does – it magnifies your gains and losses – turning a 10 per cent change in an asset price into a huge win or a disastrous wipeout.
But this isn’t an article about property prices, or the wisdom of borrowing to buy a house. Instead, I want to look at its stepcousin: the margin loan.
That is the term given to an investment loan that is used to buy shares, because we used to say that using the bank’s money to buy shares was “buying on margin”. But it’s essentially the same thing: debt, used to buy an asset, secured against that asset.
But margin debt is different, in three important ways:
First, the interest rate is usually meaningfully higher than mortgage debt. That’s fair enough – the banks judge their risk to be higher, so charge borrowers more for the privilege. But it means you need to get a higher return to cover the cost of that debt.
Second, while a mortgage is secured against a house, and the bank could technically “call” its loan and force you to sell if you’re unable to refinance, it almost never happens. Banks don’t call housing loans. But they do call margin loans. All the time. If your equity falls, you need to top it up with new cash, or the bank can – and will – forcibly sell your shares.
Third, and more destructively, because share prices tend to be more volatile than house prices, short-term share price movements can destroy your portfolio, even if those same share prices recover. During the global financial crisis, share prices almost halved. If you had a margin loan that equated to, say, 70 per cent of your $1 million portfolio, a 50 per cent fall would have seen the bank sell all of your shares, at or near the bottom of the market, and you would have essentially nothing left. Back to square one. Compare that with someone who had a $300,000 portfolio and no debt – their portfolio is now higher than before the GFC. Foolish takeaway
That is the ugly side of leverage. Now, many of you reading this would hear my cautionary tale and think that you’ll be the exception to the rule. You would use margin sensibly. You wouldn’t get caught out. But, like the 90 per cent of drivers who believe themselves to be above average, you can’t all be right. Debt, used well, can be a great tool for wealth creation. But used badly, it can kill your retirement dream. And is that really worth the risk?
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Scott Phillips is the Motley Fool’s director of research. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TMFScottP. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors.
London: An analysis of “green jobs” in five advanced economies ranks Australia as number one in terms of opportunity but the same data shows Australia at the bottom when it comes to job-seeker interest.
The study, which also ranked the top five green jobs in each country over 2016, shows that “Green Army participant” ranked number three in Australia in terms of job postings. And industry sources said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to scrap the Green Army program could undermine Australia’s favourable ranking in terms of green job opportunity.
The Green Army, a pet policy of former prime minister Tony Abbott, will wind up in June after it was scrapped by Mr Abbott’s successor – Malcolm Turnbull – in last year’s budget update.
The research was conducted by global job search company Indeed ahead of Earth Day on Saturday and analysed the market for green jobs in five English-speaking countries: Australia, Britain, the United States, Canada and Ireland.
Australia came up number one when it cames to the concentration of green jobs and opportunity. But job seeker interest in green jobs did not match the opportunity, with Australia coming last.
Green jobs are any that protect or restore the environment and can be found across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, renewable energy and recycling.
Chris McDonald from Indeed said Australia had “led the way” in fostering green jobs but this was not matched by job seeker interest.
“Globally, green jobs are a growing source of opportunity and, of the countries studied, Australia led the way in terms of green job concentration levels.
“There is however an interesting anomaly: when compared to the other markets, Australia appears to face a greater challenge in attracting job seekers to green jobs.
“The study suggests a mismatch in green job opportunities and job seeker interest compared to the likes of Canada and the United States,” he said.
Based on the data, the green job concentration levels suggest that in Australia there are around 6.8 jobs per thousand compared to around four in the US.
However, the research shows that job seekers are 1.7 times more interested in green jobs in the US compared to jobs overall, whereas in Australia job seekers are less likely to seek out green jobs (at a rate of 0.9) compared to regular jobs.
In 2016, “Green Army participant” was the third most common green job posting. Fairfax Media understands job seeker interest effectively halved overnight when it was slated for closure in December 2016. By contrast, searches for green jobs peaked in August 2015.
The Green Army is a taxpayer funded program that paid young Australians aged 17 to 24 up to $996.60 per fortnight based on a 30 hour week. It was hoped up to 15,000 young unemployed people would make use of the scheme where they work in teams for six months on projects such as cleaning up waterways and clearing weeds. But the program was scrapped in the budget update last year to save $350 million, despite the Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg describing the policy as having been “very successful”.
However the Green Army’s website still prominently calls for potential applicants to register their interest and gives no clear indication on the homepage that the program is to be wound down in just a few months.
Green Army vacancies are still being advertised as the government agreed to honour existing project contracts. A current search on Indeed’s Australian site showed 25 job postings for Green Army participants.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott expressed his disappointment at the scrapping of his pet policy at the time.
“I’m dismayed by reports the Green Army may be scrapped,” Mr Abbott wrote on Facebook.
“Not only has it been good for grass roots conservation but it got unemployed people working too.
“It’s a bad principle to axe your own policy for the Greens policy because it means that their priorities are more important than ours.
“That would hardly be a smart move for a centre right government.” Of the savings, $100 million was diverted to Landcare projects as part of a deal the Coalition struck with the Greens. Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz labelled the decision to scrap Green Army projects as “unpalatable”.
Former Socceroo Jason Culina sells colonial mansionBryan Rose, the buyer of Mosman’s most expensive $22.5 million houseLiberal MP John Alexander sells his Putney home for $2.7 million
Former Socceroo Jason Culina and his wife Terri are set to flip another home renovation, cementing the football star’s new career status as a property investor.
The couple have rendered their Putney home almost unrecognisable since they purchased it three years ago for $1.77 million.
Gone is the red brick facade and segregated floor plan and in its place is a Victorian-style, five-bedroom home with a living area that overlooks a swimming pool.
The result is in large part thanks to Terri’s interior styling skills, which are showcased on the Eighty Spaces property staging and styling website the couple founded in late 2013 soon after Culina’s retirement from professional football.
The Mitchell Street property goes to auction on May 13 for $3.2 million through Nicholas McEvoy and Peter Grayson, of Bresic Whitney.
The Culinas’ last home renovation was of their 200-year-old colonial mansion Denham Court, which the couple sold in 2014 for $1,725,000. The Culinas owned the historic mansion only two years, restoring and modernising it after they bought it in 2012 for $1.2 million from Dr Keith Okey.
At the time Culina listed the National trust-listed property he told Title Deeds: “I still get my kicks commentating for SBS but in general I don’t miss football.”
The Culinas are already on the house-hunting trail to upgrade their next home, but meanwhile records suggest they have their next renovation lined up given a recent purchase of a restored farmhouse also in Putney for $2.9 million.
When Michael Jakobsen finally shrugged off the long-running calf injury that kept him out of the Melbourne City line up for eight weeks, coach Michael Valkanis could hardly disguise his relief.
In his absence Valkanis had taken every opportunity, when asked about the importance of his Danish centre back, to insist that he was the best defender in the A-League and that he couldn’t wait to rush him back into the starting line-up.
Valkanis’ judgment looked to be spot on when Jakobsen returned to the City rearguard for the penultimate game of the regular season, a 1-0 win over Adelaide United in which City kept an all too rare clean sheet.
Things didn’t quite go to plan in Perth the following week, however, when City shipped five goals in a ludicrous nine-goal thriller.
Jakobsen laughs when asked about that and whether his contribution to City’s defensive set-up might have been over-rated, succinctly pointing out that he was simply one man in a defensive machine that failed to properly function last Sunday evening.
“I don’t think I could make that massive a difference on my own,” he says.
“It’s all about the whole team defending as a unit, not one or two guys at the back. We all have to stick together and work as one, defend and attack with 11 players and concentrate fully from the start.
“We have to be more aware and get more players behind the ball and not get caught out in the way we were, not be so open.”
Jakobsen, in common with his teammates, is expecting a much tighter game this weekend. Last Sunday Perth had to roll the dice and attack to try to win by four goals to force a home final.
This time the season will be over for who loses, so the Dane expected a much more controlled environment and a much more disciplined approach by both teams.
“Last week there was a lot of space out on the pitch. They were attacking, and that meant we could get forward. If we had been better in taking our chances we would not have had the concerns we did.
“They do have some good players going forward and they will try to hit on the break, so we need to have a better balance – and take the chances that we do get.”
This game kicks off at the distinctly un-fan-friendly time of 7pm on a Sunday, but Jakobsen says that City fans should defy the FFA planners and get out in force to support the team as it bids to play its way into the semi-final.