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Archive for April, 2019

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.
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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.

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

An Aussie thriller with Canberra links premieres at Dendy

Saturday, 13 April, 2019

The world premiere of a new Australian thriller will take place at Dendy Canberra on Sunday night – because the producer, Brian Cobb, and the lead actress, Miranda O’Hare, were both originally from Canberra. Although no longer based here they remain close to the city that produced them and have family and friends here.
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Indigo Lake, written and directed by Martin Simpson, is a Sydney-set film in which artist Jack Zeffa (played by Andrew Cutcliffe) is hired by Bill Kazak (Marin Mimica) to paint a portrait of his wife Ruby (O’Hare). As Jack paints Ruby a bond develops between them and as it deepens so do the jealous Bill’s suspicions.

Cobb, whose company Cobbstar Productions produced the $1.1 million film, says Simpson’s script was quite different to any other Australian film he had seen.

“It had a film noir aspect I liked.” he says. He is taking the film to Cannes and hopes to get it in wide release soon.

Cobb, who will be celebrating his 40th birthday on Sunday – “What a way to have a party!” – says he came relatively late to the arts. He was going to be a rugby league referee and it wasn’t until a trip overseas and a part in a corporate film when he was 20 that he decided to become an actor (he’s still a big fan of the Canberra Raiders). He trained at ther Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Sydney and had a few small parts but found himself producing plays for himself and his friends to perform in pubs and bars which drew him to the production side of the business and he studied it at the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

Since then his projects have included the longrunning gay digital drama series The Horizon, which began in 2009. He joined it in 2012 and it’s still running. Other upcoming projects include the virtual reality series Dream Channel and the coming-of-age story Patricia Moore. In 2016 Cobbstar won the City of Sydney’s accommodation grant for the space formerly known as Metro Screen.

O’Hare acted from a young age, being part of Canberra Youth Theatre and studying at the National Acting School before gaining an agent at a showcase in Sydney when she was 19. She didn’t know Cobb in Canberra but met him in 2008 when they did a play for Mardi Gras, The Unicorn and the Girl (no prizes for guessing who played who). They kept in touch and in September 2015 he told her about Indigo Lake. But her casting was not automatic.

“I did a fair few auditions – I had to fight my way to get the role. As soon as I read it. it meant so much to me,” she says.

“Ruby was a real character. She resonated with me… I understood her completely.”

Recently, O’Hare has been working on two international television series, Killing the Cure and Age of the Living Dead.

The premiere Q&A screening of Indigo Lake (CTC) is on at Dendy Canberra on Sunday, April 23 at 6.30pm. dendy南京夜网419论坛.

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

Toxic chemicals in fire-fighting foams could be phased out

Saturday, 13 April, 2019

The federal government is considering its “management options” for a potential [phase-out of some toxic chemicals once used in fire-fighting foams, in the wake of a spill near Brisbane Airport nearly two weeks ago.
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The Queensland government has already banned use of the PFAS chemicals and the Defence department is facing two class actions linked to contamination at airbases near Oakey in the state and Williamtown, NSW.

It comes as the federal government also considers wide-ranging reforms to the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, which assesses such substances, which The Canberra Times has previously reported prompted concerns about the protection of public health and the environment.

After a spill of up to 22,000 litres of fire-fighting foams containing the chemicals at a Qantas-owned hangar at Brisbane Airport, federal infrastructure minister Darren Chester has indicated the Commonwealth may now consider “phasing out” the substances.

It is understood the vast majority of the spilt foams were contained in the hangar, although fishing bans remain in place in nearby Boggy Creek, although the creek as been reopened to recreational activity.

The spill led to a fresh round of calls for the chemicals to be banned nationally, calls which have previously fallen on deaf ears in Canberra, despite the Defence-related class actions and on-going wrangling between airports and the government over what to do about potential contamination elsewhere.

Mr Chester said in a statement the government was now considering the “transitional removal” of the chemicals used in the foams.

“While it is known PFAS can persist for a long time, there is no consistent evidence that PFAS exposure is harmful to human health,” he said.

“The government is considering management options for PFOS and PFOA transitional removal from use, improved management and appropriate disposal of PFOS-containing firefighting foams at all facilities in Australia, consistent with the listing of the chemical under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.”

Mr Chester said a number of Commonwealth agencies were working with the Queensland government, Qantas and others to “ensure the spill is managed correctly and in line with respective jurisdictional regulations”.

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

Heavyweights and DUET drive ASX higher

Saturday, 13 April, 2019

Australia’s benchmark index followed offshore leads solidly higher on Friday, but it wasn’t enough to reverse losses in the earlier part of the week.
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The benchmark S&PASX200 soared at the open and held onto its gains to add 0.6 per cent to 5854.1 on Friday, narrowing its weekly loss to 0.6 per cent, while the broader All Ordinaries index shed 0.7 per cent over the week to 5925.9.

Driving the index higher on Friday were the big banks and miners, who together make up the majority of the ASX200’s market capitalisation.

Greg McKenna, chief markets strategist at AxiTrader, said markets saw “an outbreak of positivity” after the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested overnight that tax cuts weren’t far off, as well as a poll that shows good odds for a victory by moderate independent Emmanuel Macron in the first stage of the French elections on Sunday.

“Even though I’ve been highlighting the downtrend and the associated drift in data prints in recent weeks, should the market get the result that traders and investors like out of the French election on the weekend, we could see one heck of a risk on rally in stocks and other assets early next week,” Mr McKenna said.

“Traders seem to be alert but not alarmed at the moment.”

The miners soared off a 4.2 per cent rise in iron ore prices, adding ot Thursday’s 2.2 per cent rise, and were further aided by strong performances acrosss aluminium and copper commodities markets.

Pure-play iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group leapt 5.2 per cent. Rio Tinto had the biggest impact on the index, up 2.7 per cent, while BHP Billiton rose 1.7 per cent – its only day of gains for the week.

Traders in the big banks took heart from a resumption of the reflation trade.

CBA rose 0.6 per cent, ANZ added 0.9 per cent, Westpac strengthened by 0.5 per cent while NAB was up 1 per cent. Macquarie Group also rose strongly, after being part of a consortium that purchased the UK Green Investment Bank in London.

Outside the heavyweights, there was no shortage of corporate news. with a takeover and a profit downgrade causing the market’s most dramatic performances.

A profit warning at Coca-Cola Amatil sent its shares tumbling 10.5 per cent, while government approval of an offshore takeover of energy company DUET Group sent its shares soaring 9.5 per cent to $3.01 – just under the $3.03 per share takeover offer made by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings.

Stock Watch: Coca-Cola Amatil

Investors punished Coca-Cola Amatil on Friday after the company backed away from its promise of mid single-digit earnings growth, saying it now expects underlying net profit to decline in the first half, while full year profits will be flat. The share price tumbled 10.5 per cent to $9.61. Trading in the Australian drinks unit 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, the beverages giant said on Friday. Chief executive Alison Watkins re-affirmed earnings guidance for mid single-digit earnings per share (EPS) growth in February. But the company said that while that was a longer-term target, full year underlying net profit after tax to be broadly in line with last year.

Iron ore

Australia’s largest export managed to claw back some of its losses on Friday, climbing 4.2 per cent to $US68.68 a tonne. But over the week iron ore was down 8.9 per cent thanks to speculative traders betting an onslaught of new high grade supply would wash into the market. Brazilian producer Vale announced on Friday its first-quarter iron ore output fell 6.7 per cent as seasonal rainfall in a fast-growing mine in northern Brazil hampered extraction and the world’s No.1 producer.

??????Transfer pricing

The Australian Taxation Office has won a landmark transfer pricing case against Chevron, which could have ramifications for the $400 billion in loans that multinationals use to finance their activities in Australia. Chevron appealed an earlier Federal Court decision that came down largely in favour of the ATO, which claimed the company owed roughly $340 million in taxes, penalties and interest on a 2003 loan for its North-West Shelf gas project. But a unanimous judgment by the full bench of the Federal Court on Friday reaffirmed the ATO’s position. It said the appeal was dismissed, with costs.

Infrastructure takeovers

Shares in DUET Group rocketed 9.5 per cent higher on Friday after the government approved an offshore bid for the company. Shares in fellow utility groups Spark Infrastructure and AusNet also spiked higher and RBC analyst Paul John suggested the DUET deal “may pave the way” for other offshore bids. DUET Group said this morning that the overwhelming majority of its proxy holds – 99.3 per cent – have approved the takeover. Mr Johnson wrote that RBC was “confident of the deal ultimately proceeding”, and noted the $3.03 per share offer price was “very much at the high end of M&A valuations in the sector”.

US tax cuts

US markets enjoyed a positive boost following US Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin’s comments around tax reform. The Trump administration is aiming to complete the biggest overhaul of the tax code since President Ronald Reagan by the end of the year, even if a second attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act fails, he said. Mnuchin’s comments eased growing concern that Trump’s fiscal agenda is foundering, while the odds for a rates hike in June surged toward toward 60 per cent after Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan reiterated that three increases this year remain appropriate.

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

Bitter Masters battle coming to an end

Saturday, 13 April, 2019

Retail giant Woolworths is a step closer to putting its disastrous foray into hardware behind it.
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In a long-awaited ruling, Woolworths’ joint venture partner, the US hardware giant Lowe’s, has been ordered to sell its shares in the joint venture behind hardware chain Masters for an amount yet to be determined.

The share sale to Woolworths will enable Woolworths to then sell the business to a consortium that includes some of Australia’s richest families.

Woolworths and Lowe’s have been squabbling over the value of the latter’s 33 per cent stake in the joint venture behind Masters. Woolworths said it was worth nothing; Lowe’s said it was worth more than $600 million.

The two companies had poured poured billions into launching hardware chain Masters in Australia, to compete with No.1 chain Bunnings. Woolworths pulled the plug on the business in early 2016 after years of losses.

In August last year it announced that Home Consortium – which includes families behind retailers Chemist Warehouse and Spotlight – would buy 40 Masters freehold sites, 21 Masters freehold development sites and 21 Masters leasehold sites.

In addition, it said it would sell inventory for about $500 million and sell the Home Timber and Hardware Group business for $165 million to the listed wholesaler Metcash.

Combined, Woolworths said it would reap $1.5 billion in gross proceeds from the three deals, but only $500 million after costs and prior to shareholder payments.

Woolworths on Friday announced a ruling that Lowe’s was required to sell its 33 per cent stake in joint venture vehicle Hydrox, for a value determined by a third-party independent expert.

“As a consequence of today’s award, Woolworths will be able to conclude the proposed transaction with Home Consortium without the consent of Lowe’s, once the final valuation and share transfer processes have taken place,” it said.

It’s unclear how much money Woolworths will net after paying out Lowe’s for its shares, and then selling the 82 blocks to the Home Consortium.

The Consortium will buy 61 Masters properties and 21 development sites, and then lease them to the likes of retailers Chemist Warehouse, Spotlight and Masters’ one-time rival Bunnings.

Industry insiders suggest there have been delays that have held up Bunnings’ plans to move into those former Masters sites.

Questions remain about how Woolworths would spend a windfall from the proceeds.

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