• Archives
  • Categories
  • Relaxed living in quiet, historic suburb

    2018 - 08.01

    Relaxed living in quiet, historic suburb HISTORIC: There are some beautiful period residences in Bolwarra, with many seeing record sales for the suburb in recent years.

    PICTURESQUE: Bolwarra is steeped in history and has a semi-rural setting within 10 minutes of Maitland CBD. The population is just under 1000 residents.

    CLASSIC: Immaculate gardens and fine Federation architecture are common in Bolwarra, which became known as the “gentleman’s suburb” in its early days.

    TweetFacebookSUBURB SNAPSHOTSituated just 10minutes from the heart of Maitland, Bolwarra enjoys a semi-rural setting while being predominantlya residential area.

    The suburb’sEuropeanhistorybegan in 1822 as an agricultural estate, known as BolwarraEstate, when timber merchant John Brown settled in the area.

    Bolwarraeventually became known as a gentlemen’s suburb with the building of many fine estates and villas between 1885 and 1926.Bolwarra Public School, established in the 1850s,is one of the oldest schools in NSW.

    LIFESTYLEA walk through the quiet streets of this picturesque suburb reveals plenty of Federationarchitecture from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

    Beautiful sweeping views over Maitland and the surrounding river flats can be admired at Bolwarra’s scenic lookout.

    It is not far from the city of Maitland but offers a relaxing, family friendly, country lifestyle.

    There are just under 1000 residents of Bolwarra with an average age of 44.

    FROM THE EXPERTSIt is considered one ofthe most respected and sought-after real estate holdings in the area with Kensington Road benchmarking many record sales of fine heritage residences.

    Surrounded by fertile farmland but just three kilometres from Maitland CBD, this suburb provides an ideal mix of a relaxed rural environment yet just minutes from facilities.

    The corner store is iconic with the best hamburgers in the area and quirky paraphernalia on display. Moments down the road, Maddies B&B is also an idyllic function venue.

    There is a wide range of real estate opportunities in the area with homes available in most budgets.

    – Presented by Rhonda Nyquist, Principal, PRDnationwide Hunter Valley

    Australian dollar surges to two-year high

    2018 - 08.01

    The Australian dollar soared to a two-year high against the US dollar on Friday as ripples from an interest rate meeting in Europe on Thursday spread right through the global currency markets.

    The Aussie traded strongly against the US dollar from the start on Friday and at lunchtime was at 80.92 US cents, a level it hasn’t traded at since mid-May 2015.

    The surge in the Australian dollar followed a meeting of policy makers at the European Central Bank, where ECB president Mario Draghi suggested that its bond buying program will only be gradually tapered.

    The euro hit a nine-day high above $US1.20 as Mr Draghi spoke, with investors piling into euro zone bonds on the prospect of continued ECB buying.

    “It seems the lack of detail and indecision over tapering dominated, while moves in German bunds helped drive down US Treasury yields to their lowest since November,” noted NAB currency strategist Tapas Strickland.

    As US yields declined the US dollar dropped, with traders not fully convinced at a speedy pace of Federal Reserve rate hikes and amid worries that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will weigh on economic growth.

    The Aussie dollar is launching into the highest close for 2017 off the back of US dollar weakness, noted Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader in Sydney.

    “It is clear to note that the mindset of Aussie dollar traders has changed and the market is well and truly supporting the Aussie dollar on each pullback,” he said.

    “That’s much because of recent local economic strength. It’s also because metals prices have been strong, global growth likewise, and the Aussie-US bond spread has been moving in the Aussie dollar’s favour.”

    The differential between Australian and US bonds has been notably helping the Australian dollar this week and the currency has made a few attempts to set fresh highs.

    As to how high the Australian currency could go, analysts at Commonwealth Bank recently.suggested that a continued slide in the greenback could see the Aussie dollar push as high as US85?? by the end of next year.

    Weakness in the US dollar explains much of this expected strength in the local currency, CBA chief currency strategist Richard Grace said in a note to clients, as trends that were apparent in late 2016, but which were knocked off course by the shock election of Donald Trump as US President, reassert themselves.

    The factors to weigh on the US dollar are the same, Mr Grace said. Specifically, while the US Fed is poised to lift rates again by the end of the year, the monetary tightening in other jurisdictions, such as Europe, will have a “greater appreciating impact on their exchange rates” this year and the next.

    Investors have lately also become a bit more comfortable with China’s economic outlook and that has helped to push commodity prices higher in recent months, providing another layer of support for the Australian dollar.

    Still, some question marks remain over the strength of the Australian economy and the expected path of interest rates in Australia, with Wednesday’s GDP numbers a touch weaker than forecast.

    “There was nothing in the GDP numbers to advance the case for a rate hike … we’re a long way from operating at full capacity and so a long way from raising interest rates,” AMP head of investment strategy Shane Oliver said after that data.

    He sees the Aussie at 70 US cents on a one-year view “largely because the Federal Reserve will tighten policy while the RBA will stay on hold.”

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

    Nurse charged over fatal breast procedure at beauty clinic

    2018 - 08.01

    A second beauty clinic worker charged over a breast procedure that allegedly killed the clinic’s owner was on a student visa and paid $17 an hour to do simple beauty treatments only, a court has heard.

    Yueqiong Fu, 29, was charged with manslaughter on Thursday, a week after Jean Huang went into cardiac arrest while having fillers injected into her breasts at the Medi Beauty Clinic in the Central Park development in Chippendale.

    Ms Fu has no formal medical qualifications in Australia but allegedly worked as a nurse during the fatal procedure on Ms Huang, 35, the manager and co-owner of the newly opened clinic.

    Another woman, Chinese tourist Jie Shao, 33, was allegedly asked by Ms Huang to perform the procedure. She has also been charged with manslaughter.

    Ms Shao was introduced to the salon owner through a mutual friend and has argued that she has medical qualifications in China.

    On Friday, Ms Fu’s lawyer Neville Parsons told Burwood Local Court that Ms Huang had asked his client to work as a nurse during the procedure.

    He said Ms Fu had recently graduated with a nursing degree from UTS and worked at the clinic since it opened in May but only in standard beauty treatments rather than cosmetic surgery.

    She had assisted in inserting canulas in some procedures and “had skills as a nurse”, he said.

    “She being a nurse, she was trained to do what doctors tell her,” Mr Parsons said.

    “The deceased told her that the co-accused was a qualified doctor in China, she wanted her to simply just assist the doctor … She believed she was following directions of a qualified doctor. That may well result in an acquittal.”

    He said Ms Fu came to Australia three years ago and had also studied nursing in China.

    However, prosecutor Sergeant Liam McKibbin said Ms Fu engaged in “highly dangerous medical procedures in an unqualified capacity” and, in the days after Ms Huang’s death, she allegedly lied to police about what happened.

    It was only after police confronted her with CCTV footage from the salon that she “fessed up”.

    She has been charged with hindering a police investigation and administering a poison.

    Police allege Ms Huang died after she was injected with varying amounts of anaesthetic in the form of tramadol, lidocaine and the restricted substance hyaluronic acid.

    Mr Parsons has asked the magistrate to grant Ms Fu bail with conditions that would effectively be home detention.

    He proposed that she would live in Burwood with her husband and father-in-law.

    But Magistrate Susan Horan denied bail, concluding that Ms Fu had a strong incentive to flee the country.

    Ms Huang had previously lived in Melbourne, studying at the University of Melbourne, before opening the clinic in May. She had also studied at the University of New South Wales.

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

    Suburban strips thrive despite retailing woes

    2019 - 08.15

    Tatts agency owner Simon Alan says he owns one of Melbourne’s most recession-proof businesses.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mr Alan took over the lotto franchise outlet eight weeks ago in Reservoir’s Broadway, a typical middle suburban shopping strip filled with cafes, butchers, bakeries, estate agencies and fruit and veg shops.

    The small agency is among 80 shops in the bustling northern suburbs strip that show little sign of depressed sales or the gloom confronting retailers.

    Melbourne’s popular suburban shopping streets appear to be thriving despite retailers decrying tough conditions. Retail sales flatlined in July after a run of stronger than expected monthly results, the latest government data shows.

    Yet Broadway has no empty shops or “for lease” signs even with annual rents of about $35,000.

    “I used to run petrol stations. There was a lot of drive-offs, a lot people not able to pay for their fuel,” Mr Alan said.

    Now he sells Tattslotto tickets, gift cards and other knick-knacks in “one of those industries that have never gone belly up”.

    Closer to the city centre, Knight Frank research shows the vacancy picture is much more patchy.

    Prime strips such as Bridge Road and Chapel Street are in trouble with empty shops near all-time highs.

    At the same time, emerging retail strips such as Smith Street in Collingwood, Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, High Street in Northcote and Swan Street, Richmond, were booming amid population growth and a surge in new developments, Knight Frank’s Paul Pellegrino said.

    Emerging strips had an average vacancy of 4.3 per cent, compared with 8 per cent across prime retail strips.

    Smith Street had the least vacancy, 1.5 per cent, with only four shops available, researcher Jane Wong said.

    Brunswick Street’s vacancy was highest at 6.3 per cent, Northcote’s High Street had 4.1 per cent and at 5.7 per cent Swan Street had far less than nearby Bridge Road where the vacancy rate was 21.4 per cent.

    At Tunstall Square, in middle-ring suburb Doncaster East, only one shop is empty and even it is undergoing a refurbishment to become a speciality shoe store called The Comfort Zone.

    Annual rents for the Square are between $60,000 and $70,000.

    Comfort Zone owner Neil Blyberg is midway through moving from another popular street, Balwyn’s Whitehorse Road, where changing demographics are making trading conditions tougher.

    An influx of Asian immigrants who prefer shopping in larger centres has whittled down the street’s customer base.

    Once one of Melbourne’s premium suburban strips, Whitehorse Road “has been steadily in decline for the past five or six years”, he said.

    While Tunstall Square with its 38 shops has no vacancy, Whitehorse Road north of the popular Balwyn Cinema has 125 stores, eight of them empty.

    It’s a tolerable vacancy rate, perhaps indicative of rising rents which, Mr Blyberg said, have risen above the inflation rate at 5 per cent annually.

    “Balwyn will turn out to be another Bridge Road if they keep raising rents,” he said.

    Rents in Smith Street range between $400 and $550 per square metre, Mr Pellegrino said.

    Along High Street they range between $400 and $600 per sq m, while Brunswick Street attracts rents between $550 and $700 per sq m.

    Swan Street has the highest rental rates of the emerging strips between $700 and $1000 per sq m.

    “Chapel Street, South Yarra, has the same rents despite having a higher vacancy rate at 12.4 per cent,” he said.

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

    Don’t drop your economic bundle just yet

    2019 - 08.15

    godrays . 010405 pic by Tanya Lake **colour use only** generic sunset cloudburst silver lining dark clouds hope ray of light sunlight sun light red firey sky look to the heavens futures exchange future depression lift positive outlook happiness happy optimistic outcome prozac storm at sea ocean of doubt rocky beginnings religion faith spirituality spiritual spirit death life birth afterlife stormy weather predicition horizon cloudsHave you noticed how people are getting more upbeat about the economy? It’s no bad thing. And, on the face of it, the figures we got this week confirmed their growing confidence.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ national accounts showed that real gross domestic product grew by a very healthy 0.8 per cent in the June quarter. That’s equivalent to annualised growth of 3.6 per cent.

    But GDP growth is far too volatile from quarter to quarter for such calculations to make much sense (even though it’s what the Americans do). And, just to ensure we don’t get too confident, we have a media skilled in finding the lead lining to every silver cloud.

    They lost no time in pointing out that half that growth came from increased consumer spending during the quarter of 0.7 per cent. But this return to strong growth was unlikely to be sustained because weak growth in wages meant much of the spending was covered not by an increase in household income, but by a decline households’ rate of saving.

    The household saving rate had fallen from 5.3 per cent of household disposable income to 4.6 per cent. Indeed, this was the fifth successive quarterly fall from a rate of 7 per cent in March 2016.

    It’s undeniable that we won’t get back to truly healthy economic growth until we see a return to wages growing in real terms. And it’s hard to know how long this will take.

    Without doubt, weak wage growth is the biggest cloud on our economic horizon.

    But the story on the decline in our rate of saving isn’t as dire as the figures imply. Saving is calculated as a residual (household income minus consumer spending), meaning any mismeasurement of either income or spending – or both – means the estimate of saving is wrong, and likely to be revised as more accurate figures come to hand.

    This time three months ago, for instance, we were told that for consumer spending to grow by 0.5 per cent in the March quarter, it was necessary for the saving rate to fall from 5.1 per cent to 4.7 per cent.

    Huh? Obviously, the March-quarter saving rate has since been revised up 0.6 percentage points. How? By the bureau finding more household income. (The saving rate was revised up by lesser amounts in each of the previous six quarters.)

    And it won’t be surprising to see it happen again. We know that, according to the wage price index, average hourly rates of pay rose by 1.9 per cent over the year to June, whereas this week’s national accounts tell us average earnings per hour fell by 0.8 per cent.

    It’s quite possible for the national accounts measure to show less growth than the wage index if employment is growing in low-paid jobs but declining in high-paid jobs, but it’s hard to believe such a “change in composition” would be sufficient to explain so wide a disparity.

    Moral: don’t drop your bundle just yet.

    A second line of negativity we’ve heard this week says much of the rest of the June-quarter’s growth came only from increased spending by governments, with government consumption contributing 0.2 percentage points and capital spending contributing 0.6 points.

    Two points. First, increased spending on public infrastructure is no bad thing and, indeed, is exactly the budgetary support for stimulatory monetary policy (low interest rates) the Reserve Bank has long been calling for.

    Second, the transfer of the new, private sector-built Royal Adelaide Hospital to the South Australian government during the quarter had the effect of overstating public investment for the quarter and understating business investment.

    Looking at the adjusted figures for business investment, we find the good news that non-mining investment spending grew by (an upwardly revised) 2.1 per cent in the March quarter and 2.3 per cent in the latest quarter, to be up 6.1 per cent over the year to June.

    That says the long-awaited recovery of business investment in the non-mining economy (the other 92 per cent) is well under way. It’s also good to know that the long, growth-reducing decline in mining investment isn’t far from ending.

    Growth in home-building activity was negligible during the June quarter, although Treasurer Scott Morrison says there’s a “solid pipeline of dwelling construction” remaining.

    The volume of exports of goods and services rose by 2.7 per cent during the quarter, offset by a rise of 1.2 per cent in the volume of imports, implying a net contribution to growth of 0.3 percentage points in the quarter.

    However, this was more than countered by a negative contribution of 0.6 percentage points from a fall in inventories, mainly a rundown of the grain stockpile. (That is, grain produced in an earlier quarter was exported in the latest quarter.)

    Rural export volumes rose by 18.7 per cent over the year to June. Exports of services were also strong, having averaged annual growth of more than 7 per cent over the past three years, driven by exports of education and tourism.

    So, overall, economic growth in the June quarter was a mixed picture which, following a contraction of 0.4 per cent in September quarter last year and – also weather-related – weak growth of 0.3 per cent in March quarter this year, amounted to growth of just 1.8 per cent over the year to June.

    This is artificially low, but the September quarter should see us bounce up to artificially high annual growth of about 3 per cent, as last September quarter’s minus 0.4 per cent drops out of the calculation.

    If you want more persuasive support for our more optimistic mood, however, don’t forget employment grew by a super-strong 214,000 in just the first seven months of this year – with 93 per cent of those jobs full-time – and leading indicators showing more jobs strength to come, plus surveys of business conditions showing them at their best in almost a decade.

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

    Gold miners fuming over WA gold royalty hit

    2019 - 08.15

    Australia’s biggest gold miner Newcrest Mining has blasted the Western Australian government over its higher tax regime unveiled this week, saying the government had broken two commitments and that higher gold royalties would hurt the state and cost jobs.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Newcrest owns the Telfer gold-copper mines in the Great Sandy Desert of WA and the company’s chief executive officer Sandeep Biswas pulled no punches when he responded to the tax changes on Friday.

    “This is the breaking of two commitments – to not raise taxes, and to consult the mining industry prior to any increase in royalties.

    “The increase in royalties reflects a lack of understanding of the dynamics of the Australian gold industry, and will hurt Western Australia as a place to invest and explore, threatening the viability and longevity of gold mines. At the end of the day it’s going to cost jobs and investment dollars into WA,” he said.

    From January 2018 WA will increase gold royalties, from 2.5 per cent to 3.75 per cent, when the gold spot price is above $1200 per ounce. The current price is about $US1350 ($A1666) and it is not forecast to drop by most analysts against a backdrop of global turmoil. The WA government said the change would raise $392 million in extra revenue over the forward estimates.

    he WA tax changes are not limited to higher gold royalties, with the budget also hiking payroll tax on all businesses with a national payroll above $100 million per year. These changes are projected to raise $435 million over the forward estimates, hitting major iron ore producers such as BHP and Rio Tinto and other businesses.

    The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA (CME) condemned the increases, and estimated that iron ore miners would cop about $100 million of the $435 million payroll tax slug. While the $392 million jump in gold royalties would affect about 40 gold mines and cut gold exploration.

    Gold miners have reacted with the most anger to the changes so far while major iron ore players like BHP and Rio Tinto have declined to comment.

    Nicole Roocke, acting chief executive of the CME, said the tax changes were disappointing.

    “Taxing companies, whether it’s an increase in payroll tax or through the increase in royalties is stripping money out of those companies and really reduces their ability to be able to employ people, invest in their businesses or pay dividends to shareholders,” she said.

    “They (the WA government) really should be looking at deferring some of their election commitment expenditure, so that they can operate within their means. That’s what households do, that’s what companies do when they don’t have as much income.”

    Luke Tonkin, managing director of gold producer and explorer Silver Lake, urged the government to cut costs instead.

    “Unlike governments, which continue to add layer after layer of bureaucracy and cost, listed companies need to offset increases in the cost base and revenue base. We do this by finding areas to cut and freeze,” he said.

    “Should these proposed cost increases be implemented, Silver Lake will be forced to consider options such as wage freezes and cutting exploration to the value of the costs incurred. This will have a compounding impact on our contractors, suppliers, employees and the community.”

    Announcing the higher gold royalty on Thursday WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said WA’s current royalty rate was “at the lower end of rates levied in Australia. At current price levels, increasing the royalty rate to 3.75 per cent equates to an additional royalty of about $20 per ounce. This is a modest increase for the industry.”

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

    Fly longer, but the airport transfer is not departing just yet

    2019 - 08.15

    For all the hardships of long-distance travel, stopping mid-journey at an unfamiliar airport to change planes is generally accepted as one of the more trying.
    Nanjing Night Net

    So two pieces of news from Australia’s largest airline created quite the stir among frequent flyers.

    Firstly, Qantas will drop Dubai from its network early next year and reroute flights from Sydney to London to stop in Singapore instead.

    And in the not too distant future the airline hopes it won’t have to stop anywhere at all, with chief executive Alan Joyce outlining plans to fly non-stop from Australia’s east-coast to London and New York by 2022.

    In doing so he put Qantas at the pointy end of a trend that has the potential to upend global aviation, as a new generation of aircraft threatens the model which underpins how we travel. To the point

    The cornerstone of long-haul aviation for decades has been the “spoke and hub” model: gather all your passengers in a central point (like Sydney or London), put them on a large aeroplane like a Boeing 747 or an Airbus A380 and fly them to an other well-connected hub (say Hong Kong or Los Angeles).

    From there, passengers can board smaller planes to travel to their final destination.

    This has been a boon for well-placed hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong – traditionally where flights from Australia to Europe stopped off to refuel.

    Airports in the Persian Gulf later emerged as a competitor through the late 1990s and 2000s, becoming popular stop-over points on flights between continents and driving the growth in their local airlines: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar.

    “These major Asian hubs have really suffered from the gulf carriers,” says Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the industry intelligence firm CAPA – Centre for Aviation.

    “Singapore Airlines has been languishing because of low-cost local short-haul entrants, but also because Emirates has been vacuuming away a lot of its transfer traffic.”

    Last week Qantas said it was altering its Sydney to London service to stop in Singapore instead of Dubai from March 2018.

    Its Melbourne-Dubai-London flights were already set to be routed through Perth when it starts its non-stop London service in March, meaning Dubai will disappear from Qantas’ network entirely.

    Rico Merkert, an air transport expert and professor at the University of Sydney, said Qantas’ decision was a blow for Dubai as competition between the hubs was fierce.

    “A lot their economies are built around those airports,” Merkert says.

    “Yes they want you to connect there, but ideally they want you to spend a couple of days there. They’re trying to grow their tourism, and both are very important trade hubs.”

    Qantas will maintain its code-sharing arrangement with Emirates under an extension of the deal that saw the “Kangaroo Route” move to the United Arab Emirates from Singapore five years ago, as it tried to stem the flow of cash hemorrhaging from its international arm. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframe’);

    Harbison suspects the Gulf carrier would have extracted its “pound of flesh” in exchange for Qantas dropping its home base. (The airlines wouldn’t provide details).

    Virgin Australia has meanwhile secured slots at the crowded Hong Kong airport, with plans to build on its daily flights to and from Melbourne and using it as a hub to tap into the lucrative Chinese market, with flights connecting to mainland China through its code-share partner Hong Kong Airlines. Don’t stop

    But a new generation of jetliners that fly longer, use less fuel and carry fewer people are presenting an alternative to the hub model by making it possible – and economical – to fly non-stop between new city pairs.

    United Airlines, for example, on Friday announced it would fly 787-9 Dreamliners between Sydney and Houston, a route not previously served, while Air Canada last week unveiled a year-round Melbourne to Vancouver service, also on Dreamliners. And Chinese carriers have added a slew of new non-stop services to Australia from cities like Hangzhou and Shenzhen.

    Qantas will use 787-9s on its 17-hour non-stop route from Perth to London, starting in March next year, carrying just 236 passengers on the 14,498 kilometre journey – fewer than half the 484 seats on the A380s Qantas flies to London from Sydney.

    And the airline has tasked airline manufactures with providing planes that can fly non-stop from Australia’s east coast to destinations like London, New York, Paris, Cape Town, and Rio de Janeiro.

    It should be easy enough for Boeing and Airbus’ to make their latest aircraft (the 777X and the A350) go the distances Qantas wants by reducing their payloads (generally done by putting in fewer passengers), says Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group, an aerospace consultancy based in Virginia.

    But he says the economics of long haul “point to point” travel will largely rest on the price of fuel.

    “Very long haul aircraft are guilty of self tanking: you have to carry more fuel in order to carry the additional fuel that you’re carrying, which weighs you down even more,” he says.

    “If fuel is $40 a barrel it’s not all the important. If it’s $70 or $80 it becomes ruinous.” Departure time?

    Qantas expects to be able to squeeze a premium from time-hungry corporate travellers on its non-stop flights, and has geared its cabins to be heavy with business class seats.

    “[But] that additional revenue better outweigh the additional cost of flying a plane that’s stuffed to the gills with fuel,” says Aboulafia.

    Fuel is an airline’s biggest single cost, and price fluctuations can wreak havoc on a carrier’s balance sheet.

    Qantas, for example, spent $3.03 billion on fuel in the 2017 financial year but $4.59 billion in 2014, when a barrel of oil was about twice the price it is today.

    The $1.4 billion difference in fuel expenses is the same size as Qantas’ entire underlying profit last year.

    Aboulafia says that is where airlines like Emirates have an advantage with their central stopover and refuelling points – they won’t need to carry as much fuel at any one time, creating savings they can pass on to passengers.

    Merkert agrees that flying through stop-over hubs will remain the best option for cost-conscious Australian travellers, particularly holidaymakers.

    “Although Emirates is not a low-cost carrier, if they can fill those A380s on the trunk route every day, then they are fairly low cost and they can use that cost advantage in terms offering customers lower [fares],” he says.

    Harbison says the hub airport operators aren’t facing an existential threat just yet. There aren’t enough of the long-haulers around yet, he says, and new point-to-point routes create more passengers and don’t necessarily steal them from existing routes.

    “But give it five years, and it’ll be a different equation.”

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

    Gap between rich and poor a growing drag on our wellbeing

    2019 - 08.15

    The cost to Australia’s collective wellbeing from income inequality has reached $233 billion a year, the equivalent to about 14 per cent of the national economy, a key measure of national welfare shows.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The quarterly Fairfax-Lateral Economics wellbeing index report reveals the yearly drag on national wellbeing caused by income disparity across the economy has grown by $62 billion during the past decade.

    The findings come amid fierce debate in Australia, and other western democracies, over how to respond to voter concern about economic inequality.

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed to tackle inequality describing it in a recent speech as “the biggest threat to our health as an economy and our cohesion as a society”.

    But the government has accused Labor of playing the “politics of envy” with the issue and claims the opposition’s policies to promote greater equality will cost jobs and stifle economic growth.

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said in a speech last month that economic inequality would increase if Mr Shorten was able to implement “the socialist agenda that he is promoting”.

    The Fairfax-Lateral Economics wellbeing index puts a dollar figure on Australia’s collective wellbeing by adjusting official gross domestic product figures to take into account changes in know-how, health, work life, environmental quality and income distribution. It provides a superior measure of national progress than traditional economic indicators.

    Economic inequality is one of the index’s six main components because the distribution of income has a bearing on national wellbeing.

    “A dollar in the hands of those with low incomes tends to meet far more urgent needs than a dollar in the hands of those with high incomes,” said the report’s author, Dr Nicholas Gruen.

    “The wellbeing index takes research investigating that effect, modelling each additional dollar received by the poorest fifth of households as adding five times more to collective wellbeing than each additional dollar earned by the wealthiest fifth.”

    A decade ago the annual wellbeing cost of income inequality was $168 billion a year but that had ballooned to $233 billion in 2016-17.

    Analysis by the index’s authors shows that every dollar of income in the mid-1990s translated to 86?? of wellbeing. But today, that has fallen to 83??, because a greater share of total income now accrues to those at the top of the income scale.

    The most recent Bureau of Statistics figures on the distribution of income in Australia showed the share accruing to the top one-fifth of income earners increased while the share going to households in all other income quintiles fell or remained unchanged. The wealthiest 20 per cent of Australian households received nearly 41 per cent of all income in 2013-14 while the poorest fifth took home just 7.5 per cent.

    Overall, the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Index of Wellbeing showed Australians became better off last year after a 2.8 per cent increase in the index.

    However, the index rose by just 0.2 per cent in the June quarter, well below its decade average quarterly growth rate of 0.7 per cent.

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

    ‘Gentler, flexible’: Women outnumber men in dentistry for first time

    2019 - 07.13

    SMH. 7th of September 2017. Portrait of dentist, Dr Melanie Patney for a story about females outnumbering male dentists for the first time. Photographed at Duneba Dental in West Gordon. Story: Anna Patty. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer The Age, News.Dr Susan Wise – periodontist. Story is about women outnumbering men as dentists for the first time. Melbourne case study.Pic Simon Schluter 7 September 2017

    It was a toss-up between studying medicine or dentistry, but Sabrina Manickam and Susan Wise decided that work as a dentist would give them more freedom and flexible hours.

    They are among a growing number of women who have taken to the profession in recent decades.

    The latest figures for June show that women make up slightly more than half of all dental practitioners in Australia for the first time. Women now represent 50.2 per cent of dental practitioners, including dentists and other dental therapists.

    Dr Manickam, who is the Australian Dental Association NSW president, based in Orange, has been a dentist for 25 years since having a long conversation with her father about the hours involved in medicine. He warned her she would need to do an internship and work as a registrar.

    “I work 8.30am to 5pm, whereas if you are in a hospital situation as a medico, you may not have that luxury,” she said. “Quite often you have to work the night shift.

    Dentistry is very procedural. Patients walk in, get treated and walk out.

    “Dentistry is a very flexible career for women,” Dr Manickam said. “If you work in private practice, you can work part-time and still earn a reasonably good wage.

    “You can own a business as well as be a health-care professional.”

    When deciding to study dentistry, Dr Manickam also wanted a job that involved using her hands after helping her father, an engineer, in his workshop.

    “Dentistry is a great combination between health sciences and being able to help people but at the same time using your hands to fix and create things,” she said.

    Dr Susan Wise, a specialist periodontist in McKinnon, decided to become a dentist when she found out her Year 7 maths teacher had two daughters who were dentists.

    “I sat in the class and thought ‘wow, I’m going to be a dentist’. It was the first time I realised a girl could be a dentist,” Dr Wise said.

    “I had never seen a female dentist before.”

    When later deciding between dentistry, medicine and physiotherapy, her late father, a GP, talked her out of doing medicine.

    “He said ‘do dentistry, it’s a great job. You work with your hands, you talk to people, you’ve got good hours but you don’t do an intern year’,” Dr Wise said.

    “My uncle overseas is a dentist and I watched him work and I thought, I’d like to do that.

    “I’m someone who likes their eight hours’ sleep every night.”

    Dr Wise, who is the Australian Dental Association Victoria president, was one of 17 women and 34 men in her University of Melbourne graduating class in 1994. Her dentistry school was one of five. Now there are nine.

    Of 732 current student members of the Australian Dental Association Victorian branch 410 are female and 322 male, including students at the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and overseas-trained dentists who have not passed their registration exams to practise. Dr Wise said of 127 Australian Dental Council student members, 90 were women and 37 men.

    “The number of female students has increased markedly since I graduated,” she said.

    “There is an oversupply of dentists now. The market is flooded.”

    Dr Juliette Scott, a specialist paediatric dentist based in Crows Nest, said dentistry had changed in recent decades.

    “It is far gentler now and with the rates of decay dropping, general dentistry is not just concerned with the drill-and-fill mentality of the past, or just extracting teeth,” she said.

    “The technology in dentistry now is amazing. Perhaps this has made it a more attractive profession for women – the ability to combine art and science and treating the whole person. Technology has also made it easier to enhance work/life balance.”

    Dr Scott’s mother was a dentist and one of about six women in a dentistry class of more than 100 in the 1970s. She took time off work to have five children.

    Her father was a lawyer, which meant he spent long hours at work.

    “I didn’t want that for my family,” she said.

    Dr Scott’s husband is a dentist.

    “For male or female, dentistry can offer a great work/life balance,” she said.

    Dr Melanie Patney, a general dentist in West Pymble, said women, like men, did dentistry because they enjoyed it and “it’s a great career”. She now enjoys the flexibility it offers her as the mother of an 18-month-old child.

    “I love working in a profession where you help improve someone’s health. Every day has new challenges and requires problem solving, emotional sensitivity and manual dexterity.”


    1901 – 20 women practising as dentists (first register of the Dental Board of NSW)

    1901 – two women in a class of 17 students when Australia’s first dental school opened at the University of Sydney

    1966 – 152 female dentists (6 per cent of the 2400 people listing their occupation as dentists in the 1966 Census)

    1979 – 741 female dentists (9.8 per cent of registered dentists nationally)

    1992 – 1,274 female dentists (16 per cent of 7,670 dentists)

    2000 – 2009 – the number of female dentists increased by 89.5 per cent. In 2009, 33 per cent of dentists were female (3,869 of 11,882).

    2014 – 39 per cent of employed dentists were women

    Source: Australian Dental Association NSW

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

    Insurers need to focus on fairness ASIC tells MPs

    2019 - 07.13

    If there is any doubt the life insurance industry continues to have serious problems, take a look at what the Australian Securities and Investments Commission deputy chairman Peter Kell told politicians on Friday:

    “This is a sector that needs to focus on the concept of fairness,” he said. But it needs be a “collective ownership of raising the bar” instead of the constant finger pointing between the various sub sectors of the industry, including the insurers and advisers, to deflect the blame.

    They are strong words, but they go to the nub of the problem: this is a sector that for years has got away with delaying and denying legitimate claims and selling policies that include outdated medical definitions. It has also paid advisers huge commissions to flog products, which has created conflicts of interest.

    It prompted the Queensland arm of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners chairman Dr Edwin Kruys to drop the bombshell revelation at the same hearing that some doctors were under reporting medical notes to protect their patients from insurers who request their entire medical records.

    “It has ramifications,” he said.

    Kell called for law reforms to the sector rattling off a series of problems, including insurers too often relying on technicalities to deny claims, a lack of transparency around outcomes and a myriad of problems in claims handling, particularly in total and permanent disability policies (TPD).

    He also rang alarm bells on advisers, revealing that a review of advisers using data from insurers had identified potentially large numbers who may be providing life insurance advice to clients which wasn’t in their best interests.

    “Similarly, in our other current and recent surveillances that look more broadly at advice, we are still seeing the high levels of poor life insurance that we have identified over the years,” he said.

    He said ASIC had selected 10 advisers from a broad population of advisers with lapse rates that indicate higher risk of poor advice, and conducted reviews of their clients files. “We are currently making a decision on these outcomes. We will also consider whether the licensees of these advisers should be subject to some regulatory action.

    He said ASIC was currently conducting a deep dive into TPD policies, which have the biggest decline rates of all policy types.

    Other inquiries included direct life insurers, particularly the sales practices and design features of direct life insurance policies and life insurance in super after finding “vulnerabilities for consumers in relation to insurance in super”.

    If that isn’t enough, ASIC is set to conduct a review into the use of surveillance practices in claims management.

    “While this review will have a particular focus on general insurance, we will also include life insurance matters, including around surveillance in cases involving mental illness claims,” he said.

    The unprecedented scrutiny of the $44 billion sector follows a media investigation into Commonwealth Bank’s life insurance division CommInsure which revealed misconduct, including delaying and denying legitimate claims based on outdated policy definitions.

    The scandal resulted in a regulatory investigation into CommInsure and the entire sector, which came up short. “Life insurance is falling short of community standards,” Kell told a parliamentary inquiry into life insurance.

    Kell said part of the problem is cultural; a recurring theme when it comes to banks behaving badly.

    This cultural problem has resulted in insurers gaming a system that has legislative deficiencies including an industry exemption from unfair contract provisions.

    It is why the law needs to be reformed; to make it easier to ping the wrongdoers when they do the wrong thing.

    It also highlighted the apparent disconnect between ASIC’s perception of the sector and that of senior executives at CBA’s CommInsure and wealth management division, who gave testimony to the panel at the start of the day.

    Long-winded answers to straight forward questions, questions ignored or partly answered, refusal to comment on individuals that have already given their permission to be discussed in the media and a lot of spin defined CommInsure’s performance.

    The politicians asking the questions did their best, but they aren’t experts in the field and they don’t have the time or training of a QC to be as forensic and they don’t have the powers to compel documents to combust the spin.

    CBA head of wealth Annabel Spring described the bank’s CommInsure inquiry as the most thorough ever conducted. She produced a series of statistics including how many documents and policies had been reviewed but failed to mention that not one consumer or victim was ever interviewed.

    Spring told parliament the investigations found no evidence of systemic misconduct. “We made some mistakes, we fixed them and we learned from them,” she said.

    Job done. Let’s move on. Nobody had their employment terminated, because nobody did anything wrong.

    Listening to the responses to questions, an observer would be forgiven for thinking the whole life insurance scandal was a storm in a teacup. Yet it isn’t.

    In the past year CommInsure has lost a number of clients including TWU Super, NSG Super, HESTA and CareSuper.

    The response to Labor senator Deborah O’Neill’s statement that the contract losses were due to a difference in cultural and governance alignments between the funds and CommInsure, where met with denial. According to CommInsure’s Helen Troup the culture of CommInsure had not been raised with her as a concern by these clients. Rather, the contract losses reflected a competitive environment.

    The parliamentary inquiry into life insurance has a lot to consider when it writes its recommendations. It is a sector that has a long way to go.

    It prompted Kell to pre-empt the question: “Are we moving fast enough?”

    It was a valid question given the industry’s lack of improvement – or slowness to move – despite the need to hurry.

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

    Japan: US prepared to take action against North Korea

    2019 - 07.13

    Japan: The United States of America has “a strong determination” to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis using military action if necessary, one of Japan’s most senior defence figures has said.

    In saying so, former defence minister Satoshi Morimoto has brushed aside widespread expert views that the rogue regime will drift into becoming a full nuclear power because there is no plausible way to stop them. The remarks also reflect a powerful strain of thought in Japan that the situation cannot be allowed to limp along until Kim Jong-un gets what he wants.

    The former defence minister told Fairfax Media the next few weeks will be a crucial period of high tension and brinkmanship on the peninsula.

    “North Korea strongly insists the US has to accept the North as a nuclear power. The US cannot do anything like that. So Washington has no intention, absolutely no intention, to open the dialogue with North Korea this time,” said Mr Morimoto, who now serves as a special adviser to current Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera and is influential and well-connected within the government of Shinzo Abe.

    He believed the US had a “very strong determination … to destroy the Kim [regime]” – though he later clarified this by saying the US had a “strong determination to find out the solution to the present [crisis]”.

    “They have no intention to extend the final decision into the future,” he said. “Something may happen. We have very high tension for the next one-and-a-half months.”

    Mr Morimoto, who is also president of Takushoku University, predicted North Korea needed less than a year to have functional intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that could be fitted on them.

    His views reflect deep concern in Japan about the profound ramifications of a fully nuclear-armed North Korea, reflected in a series of high-level briefings provided to Fairfax Media in Japan this week. The latest crisis has exacerbated debate about Japan’s strengthening its defence posture, including even going nuclear, and intensified concerns – already present across Asia since Donald Trump’s election – about US commitment to the region.

    Mr Morimoto said the Kim regime would “never … abandon their nuclear and missile programs” and therefore “America has two options: possible military action and very strong pressure through the United Nations Security Council to stop all money flow.”

    But he added that most policy-makers in Japan were “very negative and very pessimistic” that China would agree to cut off energy supplies to North Korea – seen as a final ace the Security Council could pull if it wants to truly strangle North Korea.

    “Members of the Chinese Communist Party are very reluctant to accept America’s requirement for stopping that crude oil supply.”

    Asked whether he was predicting war, Mr Morimoto said: “I think Washington has not decided … The final decision-maker is [US Defence Secretary] Mr Mattis … Not the president.”

    He said with North Korea showing no inclination to stop its provocations – and with the region on high alert this weekend for another possible missile launch – the regime was “joining some kind of chicken game with the United States and the United States has no intention to open dialogue”.

    “What is the result of the collision course?” he asked.

    Mr Trump has been in close contact with Mr Abe in the recent period of crisis. He spoke to Mr Abe twice around the time of the latest tests and well before even South Korea’s leader Moon Jae-in.

    A senior Japanese defence official told Fairfax Media that Kim Jong-un’s objective was precisely to “break the ties between the United States and Japan and South Korea”.

    “If the US recognises North Korea as a nuclear power, then Japan and South Korea can no longer rely on the US for a nuclear deterrent. These two countries need to face the nuclear threat by the North Koreans on their own,” the official said, stressing he was giving a personal opinion but one that was widely shared by other people.

    Ken Jimbo, a respected defence scholar with Keio University, said that if North Korea could develop a stockpile of long-range missiles, the US would face the “classic question” of whether it was prepared to sacrifice Tokyo or Seoul for Los Angeles or San Francisco – a debate that would play out in US media and Congress.

    “Even now we have logical doubts about how much the United States will commit to our defence,” Professor Jimbo said. “With North Korea having ICBMs, these kinds of [alliance] decoupling concerns may inevitably arise in Tokyo and Seoul. And that will actually trigger the debate whether we should actually obtain our own nuclear capability … or at least stronger defence capability and conventional strike.”

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

    Military IT technician breached classified networks

    2019 - 07.13

    An Australian military staffer breached two classified computer networks while he was deployed in the Middle East, prying into email and other private information.

    The senior IT technician misused his access privileges to get into the email accounts of 10 members of his unit, as well as a personal drive.

    He also accessed the deployed Defence secret network and the Defence restricted network several times without authority.

    He faced a military trial but, due to a legal technicality, was acquitted of 14 charges. He was, however, convicted of nine acts of unauthorised access and two offences of prejudicial conduct, for which he was reprimanded.

    The Defence Department said the incident neither breached national security nor endangered Australian troops.

    “No information was lost or passed to outside sources and there were no breaches that threatened or damaged Australia’s national security or reputation,” it said in a statement.

    At trial, the allegations centred on whether “network roaming” was explicitly forbidden on the restricted networks that the technician had accessed.

    The judge advocate ruled that the policy documents that outlined the ban applied only to strategic networks, and not specifically to the deployed networks used in Middle East operations.

    Unlike civilian courts, courts martial do not publish the identity of military offenders.

    Defence also declined to provide more information about the punishments, citing privacy laws.

    “The [Australian Defence Force] cannot divulge any personal information regarding members, including information about disciplinary or administrative actions taken against ADF personnel.”

    The problem at the trial with the policy documents forced the military to abort three other prosecutions for similar alleged misconduct by deployed ADF members.

    Those three matters were instead referred to senior commanders to consider administrative action.

    The Director of Military Prosecutions, Jennifer Woodward, CSC, said in a report that her office had received an increase in the number of referrals involving misuse of IT systems.

    She said her office and other stakeholders were carrying out “significant work” in this area, “which may mean that the difficulties in future prosecutions are reduced”.

    Brigadier Woodward also said she would “carefully scrutinise” future decisions to prosecute IT-related offences.

    “The resource burden associated with gathering sufficient evidence to prove [IT] related offences to the criminal standard is often disproportionate to the likely outcome of any criminal proceedings,” she wrote.

    “Administrative processes, in some cases, may be a more efficient means of resolving alleged misconduct.”

    Her report also said a lack of technical IT investigative capability and ambiguous guidelines had inhibited prosecutions.

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

    High Court could surprise us with section 44 ruling

    2019 - 07.13

    There’s one thing you can expect from the High Court when it interprets the constitution: the unexpected. For example, it has permitted the same-sex plebiscite despite some of Australia’s best legal brains saying that that was unlikely.

    Next month it is to hear the challenge against the eligibility of seven members of parliament on grounds that they breached the foreign-allegiance bar provided for in Section 44.

    In expecting to be surprised, I think the High Court might well say that all seven members of parliament under challenge were eligible to stand for election.

    This is why.

    Section 44 provides that “Any person who is … a subject or a citizen … of a foreign power … shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”

    It is fairly plain. If you are a citizen of another country you have had it, even if you are an Australian citizen as well. But what if, for example, a mischievous Vladimir Putin got the Russian Parliament to grant Russian citizenship to every member of the Australian Parliament?

    High Court judges have referred to that sort of hypothetical in several cases and said that Section 44 would not disqualify people who had irrevocable foreign citizenship foisted on them.

    That is the first reading down or reinterpretation of black and white words.

    In 1988 the court decided Robert Wood’s eligibility. At the time of election he was “a British citizen who had not received Australian citizenship”. The court held him ineligible.

    Then came the big case of Phil Cleary in 1992. Cleary had handsomely won the normally safe Labor seat of Wills as an independent when the Keating government was on the nose.

    His election was challenged because he was a teacher and therefore holding an office of profit under the Crown, which is also prohibited by Section 44.

    Cleary was held to be ineligible. The court ordered a new election, not a recount as the court has done in cases of a senator’s ineligibility.

    Interestingly, though, the challenger to Cleary came fourth in the election and needed to knock out the Liberal and Labor candidates as well.

    As it happened they were born in Switzerland and Greece. They had taken out Australian citizenship decades ago and were utterly Australian.

    What did the court do? Five of the seven judges concentrated on international law. They said that if a country’s citizenship laws bestowed citizenship upon a person and provided for a renunciation of it in a way recognisable in international law then the Australian parliamentary candidate had to renounce or retract citizenship of that country according to that country’s law or fall foul of Section 44.

    In short, eligibility for the Australian Parliament would be determined by the acceptability under international law of foreign citizenship law.

    Sure, all the judges accepted that a mischievous law foisting citizenship upon Australians unawares would not offend Section 44. But a majority said that if a foreign power’s law gave someone their citizenship in a way acceptable to international law, that person would need to take all reasonable steps to renounce that citizenship, especially if the country provided the means of doing so, or fall foul of Section 44.

    The majority held that the Swiss and the Greek had not taken all reasonable steps because Swiss and Greek law provided for a citizenship-renunciation process which they did not do. The majority held that the candidates of Greek and the Swiss origin were therefore ineligible.

    The two minority judges, Mary Gaudron and William Deane, however, put a different view. They looked at the purpose of Section 44. They took the sensible view that people who had taken out Australian citizenship decades ago and did not avail themselves of the foreign country’s passports, social security and the like should not fall foul of Section 44 even if they had not gone through the foreign county’s renunciation procedures.

    Gaudron was especially incisive. She pointed to the fact that at the time these two candidates took out citizenship the oath used the words: “renouncing all other allegiances”. It no longer does.

    But Gaudron and Deane were in a minority. However, they represented what has now matured into an independent Australian jurisprudence.

    Deane, in minority, in a related area said Australia could not deport people convicted of crimes who had lived in Australia for a long time since childhood even if they had not taken out citizenship. At that time the government was attempting to deport someone who had come with his parents from eastern Europe as a toddler and could only speak Aussie English after he was convicted of some medium range offence.

    My guess is that the court will shun all this external stuff about whether international law would recognise that a foreign country had conferred upon someone who is basically Australian their citizenship and whether that conferring was of an moment in Australian law.

    I think that they will come around to the Deane-Gaudron view that we decide who are Australians according to Australian laws, not foreign laws and international laws.

    It seems absurd that someone who has sworn at a citizenship ceremony that their allegiance is to Australia cannot stand for parliament without having to worry about the law of a foreign country and international law to see whether they have to take active steps to get rid of a foreign citizenship. The Australian swearing in should be enough.

    It seems absurd that someone born in Australia (or born of Australian parents while they were temporarily overseas) cannot stand for parliament without having to worry about the law of a foreign country and international law to see whether they have to take active steps to get rid of a foreign citizenship. The Australian birth should be enough.

    But how could the High Court rule in such a way, against the precedent of an earlier case?

    Well, they can do it quite easily because one thing has not been stressed about the Cleary case. Once the court had held that Cleary was ineligible and there should be a new election, all else was irrelevant. It was obiter dicta, as the lawyers say.

    Everything the judges said about the challenge to the other two candidates on the ground of their dual citizenship was legally irrelevant. Interesting, but non-binding.

    In the case of Heather Hill in 1999 the court concentrated on whether Britain was somehow not a “foreign power”. The court held Britain was a foreign power. Hill was born in Britain, but critically had used her British passport after taking out Australian citizenship, unlike the Swiss-born and Greek-born in Cleary’s case. So this case would not prevent a rethink of Cleary’s case even though Hill was held to be ineligible.

    I expect the unexpected.

    The High Court will err on the side of not applying foreign and international law to whether someone can stand for the Australian Parliament. Birth or citizenship ceremony should be enough unless you have actively used your foreign citizenship to get a passport or social security, for example.

    Whatever their politics, you cannot deny the essential Australianness of the Gang of Seven. And I think the High Court will see that.


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