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  1. Economy gets big tick

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    MONTHS after Labor’s mining tax, its carbon tax and its fourth successive budget deficit, Australia has been given the tick of approval by the world’s biggest fund manager.
    Nanjing Night Net

    BlackRock is one of the world’s most important buyers of government bonds, investing $US3.7 trillion worldwide. It says Australia’s carbon tax and the mining tax have had at most a “marginal” impact on perceptions of the country’s risk. More important has been the government’s success in shrinking its budget deficit.

    The fund manager’s new sovereign risk update ranks Australian government bonds as the world’s seventh least risky, up from 10th least risky three months ago.

    No other nation has managed to jump three places in the latest survey. The finding is at odds with a claim made by federal Coalition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey last August that Labor was “adversely impacting Australia’s sovereign risk profile”.

    BlackRock’s Australian head of fixed income, Steve Miller, said Australia’s position was “exceedingly strong” and strengthening.

    “The plain fact is, compared to the rest of the world, and this is what we are doing, Australia’s public debt position is very, very strong.

    Whether you are looking at budget balance or public debt to gross domestic product, whichever way we look at it, Australia comes out exceedingly strong.”

    The new BlackRock survey rates the governments of Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Germany and Chile as the 10 safest to lend to.

    The United States is in the next 10 along with New Zealand and China, which have each moved up two places.

    At the bottom, in positions 40 to 48 are Spain, Argentina, Ireland, Italy, Venezuela, Egypt, Portugal and Greece.

    Japan and South Africa have each slid two places to 35 and 36.

    Acting Treasurer Penny Wong welcomed the report as an “endorsement of Australia’s strong public finances in the face of global headwinds”.

    A spokesman for Mr Hockey said the reality remained that business leaders had “expressed serious concern about the chopping and changing of government policy, the uncertainty of the taxation environment and the toxic relationship Canberra has with many members of the business community”.

    “Unquestionably, eight changes to the carbon tax, five versions of the mining tax, unexpected changes to business taxation, and the four largest deficits in Australia’s history impacts on Australia’s attractiveness as an investment destination,” the spokesman said.

    Speaking in reference to the interest rates Australia needs to pay to borrow money, Mr Miller said: “All other things being equal, this [the risk update] and the things that brought it about will put further downward pressure on bond yields.” He said it would also make it easier for Australian state governments to borrow money.

    The BlackRock calculation accords with those of the world’s top three credit ratings agencies, which have given Australia their highest AAA rating. But it is a more recent calculation and the improvement reflects recent developments.

    “The impact of the mining tax and the carbon tax would be marginal,” Mr Miller said.

    “We look at ability to pay and willingness to pay. Australia’s budget position has improved. It has never defaulted. It has low debt by international standards.”

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

  2. Greens plan to boost childcare by wiping uni debts

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    Centres are struggling to attract teachers, who can earn significantly more in schools than doing the equivalent job in a childcare centre.EARLY childhood teachers who work in childcare centres rather than schools would have their university fee debts wiped out under a Greens proposal being considered by the federal government.
    Nanjing Night Net

    On January 1 next year all childcare centres must employ at least one teacher as part of a federal government program to raise the quality of care and education provided in centres. But centres are struggling to attract teachers, who can earn significantly more in schools than doing the equivalent job in a childcare centre.

    ”Currently dozens of childcare workers leave the sector each week and it’s not surprising when you consider that many people who work in the centres are paid less than those who clean them,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

    ”As parents, we expect that the people caring for and educating our children to be qualified. Currently this just isn’t the case and it needs to be fixed.”

    The scheme has been proposed by the Greens and will be released on Thursday.

    The Department of Finance was given the go ahead to do the costing by the Prime Minister’s office, which is examining a suite of measures to make childcare more affordable and available. The department estimated the program would attract 400 teachers to childcare centres in the first year at a cost of $2.5 million.

    The scheme would write-off a year’s worth of fee debt for each year early childhood education graduates taught full-time in a childcare centre.

    Teachers who went to disadvantaged or remote areas would receive a waiver of two years’ fees for each year of full-time work.

    About a third of childcare centres now apply for exemptions from staff qualification requirements because they are unable to find workers with the required qualifications.

    ”It is essential that we keep costs as low as possible to help mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet and this scheme, which adds to the wages of early childhood teachers, will improve the quality of care without increasing the cost to either centres or parents,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

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

  3. Midweek trip to New Zealand angers Middleby

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    JETS boss Robbie Middleby was fuming last night after Football Federation Australia rescheduled a Newcastle away game in Wellington to a midweek timeslot, creating a run of three games in 10 days.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The Jets were scheduled to face the Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Saturday, March 23, but the game was moved to Wednesday, February 27, to guarantee Wellington could field a team. The home side would have been decimated by international commitments had the game been played as scheduled.

    The change means the Jets will host Brisbane on Friday, February 22, travel to Wellington for a game on February 27 then carry on to Melbourne to play the Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday, March 3.

    New Zealand have World Cup qualifying matches scheduled against New Caledonia on March 22 and the Solomon Islands on March 26.

    Up to 10 Phoenix players are expected to be in the All Whites squad, making them unavailable for their penultimate A-League fixture against the Jets. Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert is also in charge of the All Whites.

    The Jets and the FFA had been locked in discussions over the fixture for weeks before the rescheduling was confirmed yesterday.

    Newcastle opted to play the match on February 27 but had wanted it moved to Hunter Stadium.

    That option was rejected by the FFA due to corporate obligations.

    Middleby said the three games jammed into 10 days were likely to have a major bearing on top-six spots.

    ‘‘It’s a critical time of the season,’’ Middleby said.

    ‘‘We don’t want to be a team that whinges, and the Newcastle mentality isn’t like that, but you’re put in a situation where you’re playing against a team that is playing and based in Wellington, and Wellington is a difficult trip and to go there midweek is not good.’’

    He argued the Jets were not given similar treatment earlier in the season.

    ‘‘The big one for us is we missed five players earlier in the season who went away with the Young Socceroos and there was no dispensation for that,’’ he said.

    Middleby said the problem never should have arisen as the FIFA dates for World Cup qualifiers were known as March 22 to 26 before the A-League draw was issued.

    FFA denied this and said they were not finalised until after the A-League draw.

    Phoenix have no youth team from which to draw players.

    A-League chief Damien de Bohun said there could have been a cancellation or forfeit if the match was not moved.

    “The integrity of the competition is paramount, and that’s why we’ve decided to move this fixture,” he said.

    “With the transfer window being closed at the time of the match, Phoenix wouldn’t have been able to field a team. Up to 10 of the Wellington squad of 20 players are expected to be on All Whites duty, so there’s simply no option.’’

    Robbie Middleby

  4. Sentence today for unplanned dope crop

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    A LONGFORD man who grew an unplanned cannabis crop in his backyard will be sentenced today for cultivating and possessing a controlled plant.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Police found 50 plants growing behind a woodpile at the home of Johannes Cornelius Konyn, 47, on February 20 last year.

    They also found about 2 kilograms of leaf, stalk and bud in a tin outside his home, another 16.2 grams in a small tin next to the barbecue and 51.6 grams in a metal tin on the lounge room floor.

    Konyn was originally charged with trafficking in the drug but lawyer Evan Hughes told the Launceston Magistrates Court yesterday that the indictable charge was dropped when it became clear his client had never intended to sell any of the crop. Konyn told police he had not planted the cannabis, but had watered the plants that sprang up from discarded seeds and cuttings.

    “What was recovered from the property was a selection of plants that had grown higgledy-piggledy near the shed,” Mr Hughes said.

    “Mr Konyn would pluck bits of the plants off and put it in the big tin, leaf and stalk as well as usable parts.”

    Police prosecutor Kim Hibble said Konyn told police he was a recreational marijuana user, and had tended the plants with the intention of growing enough to last himself a year.

    Mr Hughes said Konyn lost his job when the drug trafficking charge was reported last year and had only just regained employment.

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

  5. Cows popular at Gunns sale

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    FORMER Tasmanian timber giant Gunns’ trademark ornamental cows were the standout favourites at an online sale of the contents of the company’s Lindsay Street, Launceston, headquarters.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Melbourne-based receiver and manager Korda Mentha decided to donate the proceeds from the sale of the five, life-sized cows to Launceston’s City Mission because of the community interest shown.

    Buyers spent more than $11,500 on the cows that have stood in the grounds of the six-year-old administrative headquarters since former executive chairman John Gay bought them at a Queensland charity auction.

    Korda Mentha spokesman Mike Smith said yesterday that there had been “an extraordinary amount of interest,” shown in the cows since the wind-up of the company started last November.

    “They obviously captured the hearts of the people so we thought that it was appropriate that the money from their sale goes back to the city via the charity,” he said.

    Mr Smith said that Korda Mentha had the discretion as receiver and manager to give the cow money to charity.

    “They (the cows) are not something that has corporate value,” he said.

    The rest of the items up for sale from the purpose-built Gunns’ headquarters fetched about $50,000.

    They included office equipment and furniture.

    Remaining historical records from the 141-year-old Launceston-based company such as early photographs will be donated to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

    More money was raised from an earlier online auction of plant and equipment from the former Gunns’ Lindsay Street timber yards at the back of the administrative headquarters but the amount was not available yesterday.

    A date has still not been set for the failed company’s second creditors’ meeting by administrator PPB Advisory.

    A decision on the timing of the meeting is expected early next week.

    The ornamental cows on the Gunns Lindsay Street site.

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

  6. Where there’s smirk there’s fired

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    FORTUNATO Perri was, according to his ex-employer, a good concreter. But after 15 years with Anglo Italian Concrete, it was a smile at the wrong time that cost him his job. Or was it a smirk?
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mr Perri this week won an unfair dismissal claim against Anglo Italian, which summarily dismissed him last April after he either smiled or smirked during a meeting called only to warn him over a dangerous safety breach. He had had a good record at the company.

    ”From our end, he was dismissed for his perceived lack of concern for workplace safety,” Anglo Italian general manager Chris Collett said on Wednesday.

    The concreter had been at a Deer Park building site operating a trowel driver, a piece of heavy machinery for smoothing concrete. Mr Perri was seen giving a colleague a lift for about 20 metres on the machine, something he later admitted was extremely dangerous.

    Mr Collett told the commission the breach could ”have resulted in them probably dying, one of them at least, if not being severely injured, and we don’t want that behaviour in our workplace”.

    But when Mr Perri was interviewed a month after the incident, he either smiled or smirked at his boss. He was then sacked, a move Fair Work commissioner David Gregory ruled was unfair.

    Mr Perri, who now works for another concrete firm, said that for many years his managers had been happy with his work. ”It was wrong to sack me over such a simple misunderstanding,” he said.

    The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, which represented Mr Perri, told the commission it was ”inherently unreliable to dismiss a worker based on one person’s interpretation of that worker’s facial expression”.

    Another worker at Anglo Italian who was with Mr Perri when he was sacked said his manager had said in a raised voice: ”Don’t be a f—ing smart arse; we could have you sacked for this.” Mr Perri is said to have replied: ”If you want to sack me, then sack me,” after which he was told to get out.

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

  7. First the hills, now beach residents tell McDonald’s to SCRAM

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    Charles Hoy (front left) leads a protest by Seaford residents who do not want a 24-hour McDonald’s restaurant in their suburb.HOT on the heels of its wrangle with the residents of Tecoma, fast-food chain McDonald’s is facing a fight with Seaford locals over plans to build a 24-hour restaurant opposite the foreshore.
    Nanjing Night Net

    McDonald’s lodged a planning application at the end of last year and a feisty resident group has been formed in opposition to the proposal.

    They say it is ”inappropriate” for the site, which is opposite the foreshore and about 100 metres from the beach.

    Frankston councillors will vote on the application for the corner of Nepean Highway and Seaford Road at a planning meeting in early February, and are tipped to vote it down because of strong opposition.

    There have been more than 400 formal objections and about 250 people attended an information session last week.

    But residents say they expect McDonald’s to take the fight all the way to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

    Locals in the Dandenong Ranges town of Tecoma were disappointed when the council’s case against the fast-food chain was lost recently at VCAT.

    Tony Tyrer, a founder of SCRAM – Seaford Community Residents Against McDonald’s – said his group was not opposed to development, or McDonald’s as a company.

    But it believed the site was not right for a restaurant.

    Mr Tyrer said the site was in a residential area, was zoned as residential 1, was at a notorious intersection and was close to Kananook Creek and the beach.

    ”We are extremely concerned about the proximity to the beach – one of Melbourne’s best – and the creek, which are all sensitive environmental regions we feel would be exposed to littering,” Mr Tyrer said.

    Although the land is zoned for residential development, McDonald’s is able to apply for a planning permit to develop a commercial property on this site if the council deems it appropriate.

    Mr Tyrer said the Seaford group had been in touch with Tecoma residents about their – ultimately unsuccessful – campaign, and had been looking at their strategies.

    ”They had been unfairly tarred with the label of being radical hippies and anti-McDonald’s [but] we’re very careful that we are not going to be accused of similar things,” he said.

    ”This [opposition] would apply to any fast-food outlet or commercial development on that spot.”

    Frankston City Council chief executive Dennis Hovenden said the council had heard the views of 250 residents at the public meeting, and he invited the public to come to the council’s planning meeting on February 4.

    All planning applications needed to meet the council’s criteria on waste management, traffic implications and car parking opportunities before a planning permit was granted, he said.

    The Age tried to contact McDonald’s, but did not get a response.

    The outlet, if the application is successful, is scheduled to open in 2014.

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

  8. Religious groups free to discriminate against pregnant women

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    The draft bill makes clearer which groups religious organisations can discriminate against lawfully.Religious organisations, including those funded by the state government, retain their legal right to discriminate against pregnant women under a new human rights bill.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill consolidates five existing federal discrimination laws after a decades-long campaign by lawyers and human rights advocates. The draft bill makes clearer which groups religious organisations can discriminate against lawfully.

    Under the draft bill, faith-based groups, including schools and hospitals, can still refuse to hire people because of a wide range of attributes that would be unlawful for any other organisation, including women who are pregnant or potentially pregnant.

    When the Sex Discrimination Act – which came into force in 1984 – was drafted, a number of religious bodies argued they should be allowed to discriminate against pregnant or ”potentially pregnant” women to avoid having to employ unwed mothers.

    The Human Rights Law Centre’s director of advocacy and strategic litigation, Anna Brown, said that while the bill introduced important new protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and removed the ability of religious bodies to discriminate on the basis of age, sex and breastfeeding, it was a ”missed opportunity” to narrow the broad exemptions available to religious groups.

    Weet-Bix manufacturer Sanitarium is a religious organisation owned and operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist church, which means it would be able to discriminate against people with these attributes.

    Sanitarium spokeswoman Julie Praestiin said the company’s workplace culture was ”grounded on Christian-based values of care, courage, humility, integrity and passion which are generally shared by the Australian community”.

    She said Sanitarium complied with employment laws.

    Hugh de Kretser, executive officer of the Federation of Community Legal Centres, said that Sanitarium, which is understood to have a turnover of $300 million a year – although the church is not required to lodge Sanitarium’s financial reports – should not be allowed to discriminate.

    ”That a large organisation with a turnover of $300 million a year is given a green light by the law to discriminate highlights the problems with these exemptions,” he said.

    President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, said that the government had aimed to consolidate laws rather than ”embark on full-scale reform”.

    Professor Triggs acknowledged that there were some tensions between how the bill protected different human rights. ”In a secular society such as Australia … one does not want to give any sort of particular priority to one freedom above the right of people to non-discriminatory employment.” She said it was important ”that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” as the bill was the first step towards creating a coherent federal human rights system.

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

  9. Alert system tested in phone dead spots

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    FIRE services are testing an emergency warning system that could work in high-risk bushfire areas that are also mobile phone black spots, such as Victoria’s alpine region and the Dandenongs.
    Nanjing Night Net

    But the radio-based technology cannot be used until broadcasters allow warnings to interrupt their transmissions, and the federal government alters communication laws.

    As Victoria braces for another day of total fire bans on Thursday, emergency services have pleaded with residents in high-risk areas to take responsibility for their own safety and not wait until they are warned to leave if they fear they are under threat of bushfire.

    Residents who had to flee their homes during fires near Ballarat last week complained that SMS warnings were inadequate, with some not receiving messages at all. That prompted Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan to say they should not rely on the system.

    Last June, Mr Ryan urged the Gillard government to upgrade telecommunication services to ensure Victorians were warned of disasters. He said his office had received complaints about black spots in about half-a-dozen areas, including the alpine region and Traralgon South.

    The system, which would provide warnings over the radio similar to those issued to drivers in the Burnley and Domain tunnels, was tested in November at Eldorado, in north-east Victoria.

    Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley requested the trial. A spokeswoman said initial feedback showed the system could benefit some high-risk bushfire areas with limited mobile phone reception, but results would not be finalised until the end of the fire season.

    The results will be provided to Victoria’s emergency services to consider.

    ”Further testing is required to understand the limitations of the technology in emergency situations, the potential impact on all broadcasters and the community, and any requirements of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA),” she said.

    The office of federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been briefed about the active frequency override technology, which has been developed by a Victorian company, Emergency Warning Systems. Its managing director, Geoff Drucker, said a transmission unit that could work over a radius of 40 kilometres would cost about $50,000, less if multiple units were commissioned.

    A smaller unit, which could be installed in emergency vehicles and would have a range of about two kilometres, would cost about $7500.

    A government spokeswoman said legislative change would be needed to allow the system to override public and commercial broadcasters, but emergency services would have to commit to using the technology before any changes were made. ACMA had been consulted about the system.

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

  10. Andrews defends accident response

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    June 19, 2018 by admin

    VICTORIAN Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has defended his decision not to contact the family of a teenager involved in a car accident with his wife, saying he did not want to compromise the police investigation into the collision.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Mr Andrews’ wife Catherine was driving a taxpayer-funded four-wheel-drive nine days ago at Blairgowrie when 15-year-old Ryan Meuleman collided with the side of the car, smashing the front windscreen. Mr Andrews and his three young children were also in the car.

    Ryan was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital where he was operated on for internal bleeding – surgeons removed 10 per cent of his spleen.

    The teen also suffered a punctured lung, broken ribs and cuts.

    The Herald Sun attacked Mr Andrews in an editorial, saying he should have issued a statement about the accident when it occurred.

    The Labor leader refused to comment on whether the newspaper handled the issue fairly.

    ”I’m not someone who criticises the way journalists do their job, I have never done that and nor will I,” Mr Andrews said.

    The story arose after the father, Peter Meuleman, contacted the News Ltd paper saying the family was dismayed that the Andrews family had not contacted them to check on Ryan or the family.

    The Opposition Leader said Mrs Andrews contacted the hospital to get an update on Ryan’s condition but was unable to get details because of privacy rules.

    He said his wife had spoken to police five times to get updates on the teen’s condition.

    ”I can only conclude that perhaps his dad does not know that my wife spoke to the children’s hospital, perhaps his dad doesn’t know that my wife has been in constant and regular contact with Victoria Police.”

    He said that he wanted to ensure that he did not interfere in any way with a police investigation.

    ”This was a serious incident. It could have been much more serious.

    ”I was very conscious from the outset to make sure that I did nothing, nothing whatsoever, that could be seen or could in anyway influence or interfere with the Victoria Police investigation. That is why I and my wife have not sought to speak to Ryan or his family – that is after consultation with Victoria Police, they made it very, very clear to my wife that that should be left to them.”

    Premier Ted Baillieu said Mr Andrews had ”done the right thing and appears to have not done anything wrong”.

    At several media appearances on Wednesday Mr Andrews stressed that his thoughts were with Ryan and his family, saying his priority was for the welfare of the teen.

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