Canberra housing approvals slump

While approvals for construction of new homes jumped nationally, defying expectations of a downturn, Canberra approvals slumped.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics’s latest data shows dwelling approvals rose 11.7 per cent in November in seasonally adjusted terms, up from 0.9 per cent, above the market expectations of a 1 per cent decline.

Approvals for apartment construction were up 5.6 per cent in Victoria but they plunged by nearly 22 per cent in the capital.

The ABS’s director of construction statistics, Justin Lokhorst, said the rise in approvals was driven by the renewed strength in approvals for apartments.

“Approvals for private sector houses have remained stable, with just under 10,000 houses approved in November 2017,” Mr Lokhorst said.

Masters Builders ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said the figures reflected a general trend of declining building approvals in the territory, with an increasing amount of demand for new housing being met by surrounding regions beyond the ACT borders.

“Monthly building approval statistics for a small market like Canberra need to be interpreted with some level of caution because of the high degree of volatility,” Mr Hopkins said.

“The decline in the November building approvals are driven mostly by a drop in apartment and unit approvals, which have fallen from 611 in August to 38 in November. Apartment and unit approvals are now around the February 2015 levels.”

He said approvals for single housing have performed better in recent months, with 103 new housing approvals recorded in November, slightly under the 10-year average of about 120 single housing approvals.

“What the ABS data doesn’t show is how much demand for new housing in Canberra is being serviced by regional areas beyond the ACT borders,” he said.

“Feedback from Master Builders members indicates that an increasing amount of new housing is now being supplied in areas like Googong, Queanbeyan and Murrumbateman to service demand from Canberra.

“Master Builders ACT expects that with the current tax and land release settings this trend will continue.”

Dwelling approvals also increased in Tasmania by 3.1 per cent and South Australia by 0.1 per cent, but for the rest of the country it decreased. In the ACT it dropped 21.9 per cent, followed by Northern Territory by 3.8 per cent, Queensland by 1.2 per cent, NSW by 0.9 per cent and Western Australia by 0.6 per cent in trend terms.

Nationally, approvals for apartments, or private dwellings excluding houses, rose 30.6 per cent month on month while private house approvals fell 2 per cent.

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Union to appeal Fair Work’s ATO hot-desking decision

A union for tax officials is appealing an industrial umpire decision letting the Australian Taxation Office roll out hot-desking across the agency.
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After the Fair Work Commission last month found the latest ATO workplace deal let it move all staff onto hot desks, the Australian Services Union has lodged an appeal saying the umpire erred and that the agreement prohibited the office fit-outs for non-fieldwork public servants.

ASU official Jeff Lapidos said hot-desking, a controversial workplace trend, was a dramatic change to staff’s conditions of employment.

The Australian Services Union is appealing a Fair Work decision about hot-desking at the Tax Office. Photo: Louie Douvis

“This type of change needs to be negotiated by the unions and approved by a majority of ATO staff through the enterprise bargaining process. This has not occurred,” he said.

“Many types of ATO work are definitely not suitable for hot-desking. If the ATO wants to utilise hot-desking it needs to reach agreement with the unions and its staff about what types of work are appropriate for hot-desking and how it could be implemented.

“There are also issues of inconvenience, hygiene, uncertainty, inability to personalise your desk and many others.”

The union would also want to reach agreement with the ATO on the types of desks to be used and the facilities needed to support hot-desking.

Mr Lapidos said it wanted the ATO to negotiate all accommodation measures with unions as part of the 2020 enterprise agreement, so staff could decide whether to support hot-desking, and that if the ASU lost its Fair Work appeal the agency would introduce the new fit-outs to other offices.

Despite arguments from the ASU and the Community and Public Sector Union, Fair Work last month found the enterprise agreement let the ATO move all of its public servants into hot-desking, an office set-up whereby staff find new desks each day and pack up their belongings before finishing.

But the Tax Office, which wants to adopt hot-desking at its new Gosford office and has trialled it at Docklands, said after the decision it had no plans to roll it out in all workplaces.

“Where there is the opportunity in the fit-out of new buildings or refurbishments the ATO will consider how to design spaces in a way that creates a healthy working environment that improves flexibility, agility, collaboration and productivity,” a spokeswoman said last month.

The ATO in December said its pilot site for “activity-based working” in Docklands had a waiting list of staff wanting to work there.

“We have many staff across other locations asking for similar work spaces to be installed so we have the type of professional and modern workplaces they see in a large and growing number of other organisations,” it said.

The Docklands trial and staff consultation had made the ATO more adaptable to business and staff needs.

“Staff working in this environment have told us they have spent more time sharing their ideas and knowledge and believe they have increased their individual and team productivity.”

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Fresh or frozen? When it comes to IVF it doesn’t matter, study says

WORLD NOV 2 – GENERIC – culture, inside, microscope, petri dish, science, scientific, small, sterile, sterile environment, technician, technology, transferring egg, treatment, under microscope, woman, working, young adult, young woman, physician, pipette, pregnancy, research, sample, 20s, 25-30 years, adult, caucasian, clinic, color, colour, microscopic, mid-adult, mid-adult woman, modern, one person, one person only, person, interior, ivf, lab, lab worker, laboratory, laboratory equipment, medical, medical procedure, dish, doctor, egg transfer, embryologist, embryology, equipment, ethnicity, examining, female, fertility, hands, horizontal, image, in vitro fertilization, indoor, indoors, infertility mark image as offensiveTwenty-two years ago Li Peng Monroe and her then husband, were having trouble getting pregnant. Like many couples with fertility problems, they turned to in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
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“It’s not an easy process to go through ??? the probability of falling pregnant was quite low back then through IVF, for me certainly,” Ms Monroe, 51, said.

“There’s a perception that fresh is better so you start with the fresh ones, and then if the fresh ones don’t take, you’ve got embryos that are frozen that you can use,” she said.

It was her frozen embryos that gifted her two daughters, Melissa, now 20 years old, and Ashley, 17. Frozen embryo transfer has come a long way in the past few years.

A new study now gives couples trying IVF peace of mind whichever method they choose, showing both fresh and frozen embryo transfers offer an equal chance of having a child.

In women without polycystic ovaries, the pregnancy rates and live births were comparable when implanted with either fresh or frozen embryos, according to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday.

Rates of ongoing pregnancy occurred in 36 per cent of the frozen-embryo group and 34.5 per cent in the fresh-embryo group, according to the study.

Live births were recorded in 33.8 per cent of the frozen-embryo group and 31.5 per cent of women in the fresh-embryo group.

The study included almost 800 couples undertaking IVF in Vietnam, who received either fresh or frozen embryo transfers on a randomised basis and was completed in under a year.

Michael Chapman, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW and President of the Fertility Society of Australia – who was not involved in the study – said the slight percentage difference in groups is not significant.

“Even with 800 odd patients in the study … [frozen-embryo transfer] may turn out to give an extra one or two pregnancies,” Professor Chapman, who is also a consultant at IVF Australia, said.

“It’s good that [clinicians] will be able to advise patients that frozen-embryo transfer is as good as fresh, because historically frozen has not been as good.”

Co-author Ben Mol, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute, said the study was done after the development of a ‘quick-freeze’ vitrification method in recent years resulted in an increased uptake of frozen-embryo transfers.

But the study suggests it may not increase the chances of a live birth compared to fresh embryos in the study population.

“There are many examples in medical history where people jump to innovation and new things, and then after a while it turns out that the new thing is not necessarily so much better,” Professor Mol said.

Previous research conducted on women undergoing IVF with infertility problems linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), found frozen-embryo transfer led to more live births.

But until now, it was not known whether this was also the case for women confronted with fertility problems due to other reasons.

Professor Mol said going down the path of frozen-embryo transfer can come at a cost.

“It’s not a lot, but it’s a couple of hundred of dollars that you’re talking about, so obviously that could be part of the choice [for patients],” he said.

“The other thing is that people want to have their baby as soon as possible, and frozen transfer means a delay of at least one month, so there are arguments for fresh transfer.”

Professor Chapman said one limitation of the study was applying the results to Australia.

“They only looked at day-three embryos, whereas the general practice in Australia today is day-five transfers,” he said.

But the research was the first of its kind to study fresh versus frozen-embryo transfers in such a large number of non-PCOS patients.

“It’s fantastic that Australian researchers are collaborating with other countries to get high class research coming out of Asia,” Professor Chapman said.

“Health systems in other countries make it more possible to do proper randomised control trials, so it’s excellent that we are getting those relationships built up.”

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Aussie teens turn their backs on ‘uncool’ alcohol

Today’s teenagers are turning their backs on Australia’s excessive drinking culture, and shunning other drugs, in a change that has been dubbed a modern “youth revolution”.
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A study involving more than 41,000 Australian adolescents (average age 13.5) has observed a staggering drop in rates of teen alcohol consumption and smoking since 1999.

Drinking and smoking are on the decrease among Australian teens, according to a new study. Picture: SHUTTERSTOCK

At the turn of the century, almost 70 per cent of surveyed teenagers had already drunk alcohol.

By 2015, that figure that dropped to 45 per cent, meaning high school students abstaining from alcohol are now in the majority.

An author of the study, Professor John Toumbourou, said while the adult population were also showing signs of moderating their alcohol consumption, it did not compare to the sharp trend within the secondary school population.

“They are making changes that are much more dramatic to other age groups,” said Professor Toumbourou, chair in health psychology at Deakin University.

“It’s a new, youth-led revolution.”

Lily Parsons, 13, explains it another way.

“It’s not cool,” she says.

“If one of my friends drunk, I would try to stay away from them a bit.”

The year 8 student is from Colac, a town with a population of about 12,400 in south-west Victoria.

Some things stay the same in Colac – it’s still the sporty kids who occupy highest rung on the popularity ladder. But alcohol no longer appears to be as trendy as it used to be, at least for kids like Lily.

Lily has read that it is safer to not to drink until after 21 – and she is going to “do her best” to abstain until then.

So, at the moment at least, her outings with friends involve shopping trips to Target, going to the movies and pool, and hanging out at “Maccas”.

Fifteen years ago it was her uncle, Ryan Fennell, roaming the streets of Colac looking for something to do.

The financial advisor, now 31, says back then he did not think twice about the health effects of alcohol – it was either not talked about it, or it did not sink in.

“If you weren’t drinking, you were strange,” he said.

“You were a loser, I guess.”

Ryan Fennell and his niece Lily Parsons, born 18 years apart, grew up in generations with differing views on teen drinking. Photo: Scott McNaughton

His social life in Colac revolved around cricket, footy and hanging out with friends.

“The weekends were focused around how we were going to get alcohol,” Mr Fennell recalled.

The newly published study, largely using Victorian data, found that in 1999 almost 40 per cent of surveyed students had favourable attitudes to substance use, compared to only 11 per cent in 2015.

Meanwhile, only 10 per cent of surveyed teens had tried smoking tobacco in 2015, compared to 45 per cent in 1999. Just 4 per cent had tried cannabis, compared to 15 per cent in the older generation.

Professor Toumbourou believes changing parent attitudes are one of the major factors behind the moderating behaviour of their children.

He said around the time of the Sydney Olympics some parents thought that it would be better to supervise teenagers drinking small or moderate amounts of alcohol, expecting they would drink anyway.

Adam Golding, 31, was among this generation. He grew up in the Victorian regional city of Wodonga, and says he remembers his parents allowing him to bring two cans of beer to his friend’s 15th birthday party.

“Other times, getting a bit older, they said you can bring a bit more – maybe six drinks each.”

The technique, however, did not stop the teenagers drinking to excess anyway with alcohol obtained through other means.

Adam Golding, 18, with his friend Rob Glew, 17, at the Wodonga Races in 2004. Photo: Supplied

Today, parents and teenagers are faced with evidence that drinking alcohol as a young person can cause permanent brain damage, including memory problems, because the brain only fully matures well into people’s 20s.

Professor Toumbourou said parents may have been influenced by 2009 national guidelines recommending that teenagers abstain from alcohol altogether.

He is among those calling for Australia’s legal drinking age being raised to 21, in response to the scientific evidence of the damaging effect of alcohol on the growing brain.

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ZZ Top’s guitarist cancels final Australian show after backlash

Billy Gibbons (frontman of ZZ Top). Picture: APIt seems guitar legend Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top has not been giving all hisloving to fans as outrage has trailled him up the NSW coast.
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After leaving hundreds of fans fuming after two “bizarre” shows at Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, Newcastle’s show on Wednesday wasn’t much different while the fourth and final show in Brisbanehas been cancelled due to “unexpected circumstances”.

Fans who made it to the Civic Theatre in Newcastle reported the Sharp Dressed Man only appeared on stage for 45 minutes and played three songs despite being told it was a two-hour show. While ticket-holders who had paid $200 to meet the star were left without what they paid for.

Read More:Was Billy Gibbons lying when he said he was a keen surfer?

ZZ Top’s guitarist cancels final Australian show after backlash Comments after Billy Gibbons’ Newcastle show on January 10.

Comments after Billy Gibbons’ Newcastle show on January 10.

Comments after Billy Gibbons’ Newcastle show on January 10.

Comments after Billy Gibbons’ Newcastle show on January 10.

Comments after Billy Gibbons’ Newcastle show on January 10.

Some of the comments from disgruntled fans on Facebook after Billy Gibbons’ two Thirroul shows on January 5 and 6.

Some of the comments from disgruntled fans on Facebook after Billy Gibbons’ two Thirroul shows on January 5 and 6.

Some of the comments from disgruntled fans on Facebook after Billy Gibbons’ two Thirroul shows on January 5 and 6.

Some of the comments from disgruntled fans on Facebook after Billy Gibbons’ two Thirroul shows on January 5 and 6.

Some of the comments from disgruntled fans on Facebook after Billy Gibbons’ two Thirroul shows on January 5 and 6.

TweetFacebookOne of four songs Billy Gibbons plays in Thirroul on SaturdayPost by One of four songs Billy Gibbons plays in Thirroul on Saturday.

Illawarra Mercurycontacted the promoter Mr Brewer on Tuesday who said he would return with a statement from Gibbons in 10 minutes but failed to respond.

Songs and stories tours by musicians are not new to the Illawarra with veteran rocker Jimmy Barnes set to bring his second tour of that style to Anita’s Theatre this year.The Angels have also had recent success with a national tour in the same vein that stopped by Wollongong.

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Without a trace: Jayden’s mysterious disappearance rocks small town

Without a trace: Jayden’s mysterious disappearance rocks small town FEAR: Charters Towers resident Doug Morris said the community was looking for Jayden Penno-Tompsett, top left. Senior Sergeant Graham Lohmann, bottom left, said police were “not closed to any possibility”.
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The Flinders Highway at the entrance to Charters Towers, where a missing person investigation has rocked the small town. Picture: Brodie Owen

Locals walk down the main street of Charters Towers, Gill Sreet. Charters Towers is about 90 minutes south-west of Townsville. Picture: Brodie Owen

Police canvassed the Stockroute Road area on Wednesday but were no closer to finding Jayden Penno-Tompsett. Picture: Brodie Owen

TweetFacebook‘He is my mate and I’m hurt too’THE friend travelling with Jayden Penno-Tompsett before he vanished has denied claims he is “heartless” and says he is actually heartbroken at the disappearance of his mate.

Lucas Tattersall was a passenger in the Nissan Pulsar when the men were passing through Charters Towers in North Queensland early on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier: Queensland police join the search for Jayden

The pair took off from Newcastle andhad taken turns in the drive upto Cairns via the Gregory Highway, which passes through towns including Emerald and Clermont, before it becomes the Flinders Highway at Charters Towers.

In Charters Towers, police believe Mr Penno-Tompsett became angry and for an unknown reason turned onto a back road –possibly Stockroute Road, which connects cattle grazing farms –before vanishing.

Mr Tattersall has not responded to media requests for comment but on Facebook said he had tried to calm Mr Penno-Tompsett to no avail.

Police canvassed the Stockroute Road area on Wednesday but were no closer to finding Jayden Penno-Tompsett. Picture: Brodie Owen

“I’m sorry to tell you but if someone wants to just up and leave and f*** off then that’s what they are gonna do,” he wrote.“[You] don’t understand how hard I tried to help Jayden when I with him and calm him down so we can sort this out [sic].”

He added:“He is my mate and I’m hurt too please stop making out I’m just some heartless prick that left him out there to die.”

Asked why he drove off, he said he was “owed money” in Cairns that he needed to fix his car because it was“on the verge of breaking down”.

“I had to wait about 4/5 days until I could get it fixed. Otherwise if I didn’t do what I did I’d be stuck in Charters Towers with no money or nothing,” he said.

Two helicopters, including one piloted by a cattle grazier with extensive local knowledge, scoured the area near Stockbridge Road.

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Daunting Open match-up looms for ‘Demon’ de Minaur

Gun Australian youngster Alex de Minaur has drawn a daunting opponent in the Australian Open first round – former top-10 player Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.
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De Minaur, in a rich vein of form in the lead-up to the first major of 2018, picked up a main draw spot after winning the Australian Open wildcard play-off last month.

De Minaur has already marched into the Sydney International quarter-finals and the 18-year-old was due to play Feliciano Lopez in the final eight on Thursday night.

Australia’s best hope in the men’s draw, Nick Kyrgios, will meet Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva. Kyrgios is the solitary Australian men’s seed but narrowly misses out on a coveted top-16 seeding by one place.

It’s a tough assignment for Australia’s second-ranked man, Matthew Ebden, who plays big-serving John Isner while countryman Thanasi Kokkinakis has a tricky assignment against Russian Daniil Medvedev.

Another Australian in the main draw, John Millman, plays Croatia’s Borna Coric.

Six-time winner Novak Djokovic faces early challenges in his return to the circuit.

Djokovic, in the unfamiliar surrounds as the 14th seed after not playing at all since Wimbledon, meets American Donald Young. But beyond that, Gael Monfils, looms in the second round.

Ashleigh Barty (18) and Daria Gavrilova (23) are the two Australian women to enjoy the protection of a seeding.

???Barty, who raced up the rankings in 2017, confronts Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, while Gavrilova will play a qualifier.

Veteran Australian Sam Stosur has a dangerous assignment against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.

But it’s even worse for young Australian Destanee Aiava, who drew world No.1 Simona Halep.

The men’s and women’s events at Melbourne Park are both missing two of their top-32 players.

Defending champion Serena Williams and Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova aren’t featuring at the Open, with five-time runner-up Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori unable to compete on the men’s side.

The withdrawal of Williams and unseeded star Victoria Azarenka means only two Australian Open champions feature in the women’s draw – 2008 winner Maria Sharapova and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.



David Ferrer (Spain) versus Andrey Rublev (Russia)

Kevin Anderson (South Africa) v Kyle Edmund (Great Britain)

Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain) v Fernando Verdasco (Spain)

Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v Donald Young (USA)

Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) v Daniil Medvedev (Russia)


Simona Halep (Romania) v Destanee Aiava (Australia)

Kristyna Pliskova (Czech Republic) v Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Venus Williams (USA) v Belinda Bencic (Switzerland)

Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) v Francesca Schiavone (Italy)

Sam Stosur (Australia) v Monica Puig (Puerto Rico)

With AAP

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Josh Frydenberg concedes Australia’s carbon emissions rose in 2017

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg concedes Australia’s greenhouse gas pollution continued to soar last year, confirming that more than a decade of climate policy bickering has failed to curb harmful emissions.
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Official data shows Australia’s annual emissions have risen for the fourth year running. They were up by 0.7 per cent in the year to June 2017, to 550 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The alarming figures come ahead of a critical few months for the Turnbull government as it seeks to convince the states and territories to sign off on its signature climate policy, the national energy guarantee – a measure that Labor says will fail to sufficiently rein in emissions.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said the government’s national energy guarantee, announced in October, was “the most effective way” to cut emissions. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The data, released last month, also casts serious doubt on Australia’s ability to meet its international obligations under the Paris climate accord.

Australia recorded its third-warmest year on record in 2017 – continuing a trend of warmer temperatures that the Bureau of Meteorology has linked to climate change.

The latest quarterly update of Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory showed last year’s emissions were only marginally lower than the 554 million tonnes produced in 2000, despite years of fierce climate policy debate in the intervening years.

Emissions levels have fluctuated since the turn of the millennium, but have risen steadily since 2013.

Speaking on ABC Radio on Thursday, Mr Frydenberg was repeatedly pressed to admit Australia’s emissions rose last year, and eventually conceded “that is true”.

But he said those figures were calculated on a yearly basis, and “if you look at the last quarter they went down, if you look at the trend it is improving”.

Mr Frydenberg said June quarter figures showed emissions went down by 0.6 per cent, and that emissions on a per capita and GDP basis were at “their lowest in 28 years”.

“What you need to focus on here is what is happening in different aspects of the economy as a result of policies we are putting in place,” he said.

“What we are seeing is real improvements in various aspects of the economy.”

Mr Frydenberg pointed to the national energy productivity plan which aims to boost energy efficiency in the built environment by 40 per cent, and the emissions reduction fund, focused on agriculture and the land sector, which has abated up to 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide at an average cost of $12 a tonne.

The Department of the Environment and Energy’s own modelling projects that by 2020, Australia’s total emissions will be slightly higher than current levels, at 551 million tonnes. It said the rapid expansion of the liquefied natural gas sector was a major factor in emissions growth, however this was partly offset by falling emissions in the electricity sector.

Mr Frydenberg on Thursday said the government’s national energy guarantee, announced in October, was “the most effective way” to cut emissions.

It forces energy companies to meet mandated standards of reliability and emissions reduction, but critics say it thwarts growth in renewable energy, props up ageing coal-fired power plants and will fail to sufficiently drive down emissions.

Labor has heavily criticised the plan and energy spokesman Mark Butler said on Wednesday the “only detail that has been released is modelling showing cuts to large-scale renewable investment”.

Mr Butler said former prime minister Tony Abbott “vandalised” the nation’s climate change policies – a reference to the abolition of Labor’s so-called carbon tax in 2014 – and “unsurprisingly we have seen carbon pollution levels rise ever since”.

He said the government’s own data “projects that with their policy position in place, carbon pollution levels will continue to rise between now and 2030” – the date set for Australia to meet its emissions reduction commitments under the Paris deal.

Mr Frydenberg said the independent energy security board was undertaking detailed design work on the national energy guarantee. In April it would be presented to the COAG energy council, which must unanimously sign off on the policy.

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Wake up to yourselves, NSW: Jeff Kennett

Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett has poked his nose into Sydney’s great stadium debate, claiming NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is merely mopping up the mess left behind by Bob Carr in the 1990s.
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Kennett was in office from 1992 to 1999 and in that time invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Melbourne’s sporting facilities.

On his watch, Melbourne became the envy of the sporting world. Etihad Stadium was built, Albert Park revitalised for the Australian Formula One grand prix, and Melbourne Park’s tennis facilities beefed up to ensure the Australian Open was never played anywhere else.

He understood what many in NSW can’t wrap their heads around as they continue to moan about Berejiklian’s $2.3 billion knockdown and rebuild of Allianz and ANZ stadiums: that major sporting events pay for themselves many times over because of what they bring to the local economy.

“When we started this process of attracting major events in the 1990s, your premier at the time said, ‘No, this is inappropriate, NSW is not going to chase these sorts of events’,” Kennett said. “That was Bob Carr. They lost 10 to 15 years before they started to realise the importance of major events.

“Major events add confidence to the community. When we started this in 1992, our state was rundown. We quickly rebuilt the confidence of Victorians in their own state. There is none of that in NSW. You lost 15 years because the government at the time thought it was ‘inappropriate’.

“What Gladys is doing now is belated recognition that if NSW is going to be part of this not just national but international world of events, they’re going to have to upgrade their facilities. It costs money. I understand the premier is coming under a fair bit of flak but no state is just about education, it’s not just about health. You judge a state on its complexity and totality: sport is very much part of that.”

In this space last week, your humble columnist argued that people underestimate how important sport is to this city and state. They’d prefer we spent the money on baby incubators and the like. (With that in mind … behold! The Baby Incubator Stadium! Problem solved).

Over the past 15 years, whenever Melbourne has hosted a State of Origin match, I’ll attend the obligatory media conference involving NSW and Queensland captains and coaches as well as the Victorian sports minister and/or major events minister.

When the speaking is done, I’ll chat to said ministers and they will tell you exactly why they want NSW and Queensland belting each other before 91,000 people at the MCG.

“Because one match fills our hotel rooms and bars and restaurants in the middle of winter,” is the usual reply.

You can roll out academics and economists and reports and say these stadiums are a waste of money. I’ll defer to the city that for decades has smashed the rest of the country when it comes to sport and culture and the man who first got the ball rolling.

“How do you measure a state’s confidence?” Kennett asked. “You can add up the cost of stadiums and how much they are to build. But you cannot put a figure on the economic add-ons that come when you have a rolling program of major sporting and cultural events that mean hotels have high occupancy levels all the time, restaurants and bars are thriving, people using taxis and spending money … the expenditure shouldn’t be judged in the years in which it is spent. The return is over decades.”

But is that going to cover the $2.3 billion, Mr Kennett? What about the baby incubators?

“It shouldn’t just be judged on financial benefits. It’s got to be based on reputation. If you’re going to have people wanting to go to an event, they want good quality facilities: good food, good toilets, good viewing lines. They want comfort.

“NSW has never been pro sport as much as Melbourne and it’s partly because you haven’t had the facilities. You have the SCG and that’s about it. If you want to be serious you have to want to compete. What then is left for NSW, apart from the drudgery of going to work? There’s got to be more to life. Major events, cultural and sport, give people the opportunity to go to a different place.”

It is simplistic and duplicitous to claim “these stadiums only service a handful of NRL clubs, let them pay for them”. What elitist bullshit. And they do. They pay a hirer’s fee, like everyone else.

Truth is, these stadiums serve many sports, and many events, many headline artists, and if they are not upgraded Sydney soon won’t be seeing any of it.

Kennett’s comments about Carr remind us of the story that often gets a run in rugby league circles about the night the former premier attended a State of Origin match – and read a book.

“I’ve used that story so many times,” Kennett said. “I like Bob but he was from a different planet. The ET of Australian politics.”

Warne’s page-flipper

Channel Nine’s Mark Nicholas is ghost-writing the autobiography of his commentary box buddy Shane Warne ??? and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke has agreed to write the foreword.

Warne and Nicholas popped up in the Trust Suite early on day two of the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG last Friday. They were there to corner Hawke, who was sitting out on the balcony with his former federal sports minister, John Brown. Hawke agreed to their request to write the introduction to a book that’s expected to come out in September.

Warne’s management has been spruiking the biography for about a year, asking for telephone-number figures in terms of an advance.

We’ve got no doubt that Nicholas will do an outstanding job. His 2016 memoir, A Beautiful Game, was well crafted and worth reading.

Our concern is just how many more beans Warne has to spill. There have been 14 Warne biographies over the years, including two written by himself.

Sales records are tricky to pin down but the word from industry heavyweights is that anything written about the legendary leg-spinner has hardly flown off the shelves. People just don’t believe they are getting the full story.

This time, Warne’s keen to set the record straight about the Shane Warne Foundation, which he shut down early last year amid claims of mismanagement. Consumer Affairs Victoria cleared Warne of any wrongdoing following a 14-month investigation.

He’s also promised to open up about his personal relationships with former wife Simone and ex-fiance Elizabeth Hurley.

Let’s hope it doesn’t get too catty. As he was leaving the suite, he bumped into trustee and media executive John Hartigan.

Two years ago, Warne was furious about a column written by Hartigan’s late wife, Daily Telegraph columnist Rebecca Wilson.

“To say that the cricket community sees the relationship between Warne and [Michael] Clarke as an unhealthy alliance is an understatement of monumental proportions,” Wilson wrote. “Warne has become an embarrassment every time he utters Clarke’s name.”

Warne wanted Hartigan to gag Wilson and also threatened to go public about her personal life. Hartigan put Warne back in his box, telling him “to take a look in the mirror”.

“You don’t come out of it looking too good,” Warne spat at Hartigan when he saw him, before storming off in a huff. Meow.

Jarryd Hayne arrives to front reporters at Eels training last week. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Costly defence

Jarryd Hayne is adamant he will fight the rape allegations levelled at him in a civil lawsuit lodged just before Christmas in the US ??? but it is going to cost him a truckload if it heads to court.

Hayne has engaged high-profile trial lawyer Mark Baute, who successfully defended NBA star Derrick Rose, who had to answer rape claims in a federal civil case in 2016.

We’re told by sources in the US that Baute charges $US15,000 a day ($19,000). No, that’s not a typo.

Hayne has “vehemently” denied claims by a 25-year-old woman known only as “Ms V” that he raped her in December 2015 when Hayne was playing for the San Francisco 49ers.

Q & A: Carlos Brathwaite

We speak to the Sixers’ recruit ahead of their Big Bash local derby against the Thunder at the SCG on Saturday.

You played with the Thunder last season. Any fiery text messages from your former teammates since you signed with the Sixers?

Not much. I saw a few of the boys in a bar in Coogee but that’s about it. It will be good to see the guys’ faces when the time comes.

Any dabbing if you take a couple of wickets?

I’m not sure. I have to take a couple of wickets first. I haven’t used it since the last Big Bash. Maybe the dab. Maybe something new.

Fun fact: did you know that the dab is illegal in Saudi Arabia?

I did. My fiancee sent me an article about footballers being banned from doing it. Thankfully, we don’t play there.

You’re a Manchester United fan … [Laughs] Yes.

What do you think of City’s dominance of the EPL season?

I don’t think we played as well as we could. A few times in the season we’ve let ourselves down. Ashley Young’s three-match ban didn’t help. Sometimes, you have to put your hand up and say well done to the opposition. City have done a fantastic job. Hopefully, they lose a lot of games in a row.

Usain Bolt says he wants to play for Manchester United. You?

Me? Maybe in a charity game, I’d put my hand up. I’m a poor man’s Paul Pogba. I’d like to strut my stuff at Old Trafford one day, make some tackles … I’m not sure how talented Usain is but I’m sure if he wants to go after it, he’ll make a good fist of it. I’m sure he thinks he’s good enough.


“When I’m scoring runs, I’m elegant. When I’m not, I’m lazy. I can’t seem to win when things aren’t going well.” ??? Usman Khawaja takes a swipe at his critics after scoring 171 against England. Look, it’s very simple, Usman. Want better stories? Less criticism? Keep scoring runs.


Um, did you see the end of that national college football championship between Alabama and Georgia? Relief quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hauled off the bench at half-time and then threw a 41-yard touchdown in overtime to clinch the match 26-23. He thanked God afterwards. You would, too.


The sudden death of former Raider Kato Ottio from severe heatstroke while training at home in Papua New Guinea prompted an outpouring of grief across the footy community. This quote: “My first goal is to buy my mum a house. I’m a village boy. My dad died when I was 14 and I want to make the most of every opportunity.”


Bernard Tomic, who will battle it out in qualifying matches in a desperate bid to play at the Australian Open. “I’ve never needed the help of Tennis Australia,” Tomic says. Except for that time when he and his father were demanding more money from them.


The army of racegoers and horsie owners who will venture to the Gold Coast this weekend for the Magic Millions extravaganza. “We’re selling dreams!” Gerry Harvey declared. Alas, some of us can barely cover the cab fare back to the hotel.

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‘Astronomical’: New iPhone X pushes retail sales into the stratosphere

So big was the spending splurge on the new iPhone X that it pushed pre-Christmas retail sales to a record high in November, confounding expectations of a weak lead in to Christmas.
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Market economists had forecast a lift of 0.4 per cent in November. Instead, sales shot up 1.2 per cent, the biggest jump in almost five years.

Unusually, the Bureau of Statistics has attributed the jump to one specific product. It said the release of the much-anticipated iPhone X on November 3 pushed up sales of “electrical and electronic goods” an extraordinary 9.3 per cent – the biggest one-month jump since the global financial crisis of 2008 when the government’s $10.4 billion economic stimulus package boosted sales of electronic goods 12.9 per cent.

“The breakdown shows that half of the rise in retail sales was a result of the astronomical gain in spending on electrical goods,” said Capital Economics analyst Kate Hickie. “It presumably reflects the growing importance of Black Friday for retailers as well as the release of the iPhone X.”

Black Friday, on November 24, had fashion and online retailers offering discounts of up to 30 per cent for a day only in a tradition imported from the US.

Excluding electronics, sales climbed a more modest 0.6 per cent in November. Also excluding a category known as “other retailing”, which jumped an unusual 2.2 per cent, sales climbed only 0.4 per cent. The bureau said some iPhone sales would have been recorded as “other retailing”. if(“undefined”==typeof window.datawrapper)window.datawrapper={};window.datawrapper[“QkucL”]={},window.datawrapper[“QkucL”].embedDeltas={“100″:519,”200″:451,”300″:425,”400″:400,”500″:400,”600″:400,”700″:400,”800″:400,”900″:400,”1000”:400},window.datawrapper[“QkucL”].iframe=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-QkucL”),window.datawrapper[“QkucL”][“QkucL”].embedDeltas[Math.min(1e3,Math.max(100*Math.floor(window.datawrapper[“QkucL”].iframe.offsetWidth/100),100))]+”px”,window.addEventListener(“message”,function(a){if(“undefined”!=typeof[“datawrapper-height”])for(var b in[“datawrapper-height”])if(“QkucL”==b)window.datawrapper[“QkucL”][“datawrapper-height”][b]+”px”});

During the year to November, sales climbed 2.9 per cent. Excluding electronic and “other” goods, the increase was 2.1 per cent.

“The reported strength won’t be sustainable,” said Bank of Melbourne economist Janu Chan. “Indeed, it is difficult to fathom retail spending growth substantially stronger than 3 per cent.”

“Given wage growth remains subdued, much stronger growth in spending would likely require an increase in debt. We do not believe households have a strong appetite to increase borrowing for consumption, nor would this be ideal.”

Commonwealth Bank economist John Peters said that setting aside the “humongous” iPhone-related jump in November, retail sales were growing at a trend pace of just 0.1 per cent a month in the lead-up to Christmas.

“Looking ahead, the weakest wages growth in decades is likely to keep consumers on the back foot with a strengthening in broad-based wages growth still not on the horizon,” he said.

Online sales amounted to only 5.5 per cent of the total in November, suggesting that ahead of the arrival of Amazon in December, physical stores faced little competition. In the past nine months retailers have expanded their workforce by 65,000, most in full-time jobs.

Follow Peter Martin on Twitter and Facebook

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Cyclists escape disaster as truck ploughs into Tour Down Under

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Spectators waiting at the finish line of the Tour Down Under were treated to an unexpected sight on Thursday when a truck laden with hay stole the show.

The truck drove down the main road ofGumeracha,in the Adelaide Hills, in the middle of the raceand was too tall to fit under the inflatable finishline, dragging it away.

Vision broadcast by the ABC shows reporter Sarah Hancock speaking to the camera as a group of female cyclists ride along behind her.

Immediately afterwards, a hay truck drives past, and Ms Hancock covers her ears.

A truck laden with hay drags away the finish line of the Tour Down Under. Photo: ABC News

The truck picks up the finish line, which knocks into a spectator and a metal fence before it’s dragged down the road.

One woman, who had been standing next to the inflatable structure as she watched the race, raised her arms questioningly as the truck drove away.

TheABC reported the truck finally stopped”some distance down the road”.

After minor repairs, the finish line was back in place in time forAnnette Edmondson to claim victory in stage one of the women’s tourin just over three hours.

Reporter Sarah Hancock turns around as the truck begins to drag the inflatable structure. Photo: ABC News

The sprawling 115.7-kilometre stage started and finished inGumeracha, with 102 riders winding through suburbs including Birdwood, Mount Pleasant and Mount Torrens.

Stage two will continue tomorrow atLyndochin the Barossa Valley.

Fantastic performance by @NettieEdmo to claim victory in Stage 1 💪 Read more:南京夜网/krVJ2ia1B0

— Santos Tour Down Under 🐨🚴 (@tourdownunder) January 11, 2018This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Good speech needs solid foundation

STRUCTURE: When preparing to speak in public, do your research, create a framework for your speech and identify key messages.There are so many things to think about when public speaking – the audience,the occasion andthe materials you’re going to use.
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Another important aspect is deciding on your key messagesand how to structure them.

Here are some tips:

ResearchDo some research about the topic you will speak about. It’s also best to clarify the purpose of your speech during preparation.

Create Your Key MessageOnce you’ve gathered the required information and you know the purpose of the speech, you need to create your top threekey messages. Ask yourself “what do I want the audience to remember?”

Here’s how to do it:

1. Write down 10 key messages that you think are important about the topic.

2. Narrow this down to threeby prioritising the ones you want your audience to remember.

3. Craft your top threekey messages so they will be easy to say, easy to understand and easy to remember. They should be specific and direct to the point.

4. Select the most important message among the three. This will be your main key message. It should be about your audience, and not about yourself or the company. The main key message should be something which will make an impact on your audience or something they will benefit from. Think to yourself, “what’s in it for them?”

Make an outlineBased on the key messages, draft a structure on how you want to deliver a speech. Just like a movie or a story, your speech should have a narrative. This way, your audience will be able to understand your messages better.

Below is the most common framework of a speech:

Introduction – This is where the greeting, self-introduction, the topic, the key message, and preview for the main points are given. Make sure you deliver a strong introduction. You can use a quotation, a saying, or a line from a song or movie to set the tone of your speech.

Body – It includes main points and ideas that will support your key messages. This is where the purpose of your speech should be served. Any short videos, graphs, or slides are shown at this part of public speaking. You can also insert some humour related to the topic, to keep the audience’s attention.

Conclusion – A short summary of the topic, the main points and the key messages should all included in the conclusion of your speech. You can also impart some parting wisdom about your topic. This is your big chance to make your audience remember you and your speech.

Use Simple WordsAfter creating a framework, composing your entire speech is next. Remember not to use fancy words;this is not necessary. Use simple words in short, but powerful, sentences.

After composing your speech, take time to read it through. Practice the correct timing and delivery of the sentences, so your audience will understand your message effectively.

Jaimie Abbott, owner of Jaimie Abbott Communications, a public speaking training company.

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Triathlete’s inspiring comeback from crash

Triathlete’s inspiring comeback from crash DETERMINED: Newcastle’s Lauren Parker will compete in her first triathlon since a freak accident left her paralysed from the waist down in April last year. Picture: Simone De Peak
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SUPPORT: Lauren Parker has been training with Paralympic legend Kurt Fearnley. Picture: Simone De Peak

Lauren Parker prepares for a training session at Newcastle Athletics Track on Thursday. Picture: Simone De Peak

TweetFacebookI have trained my whole life and I kind of know nothing else. It’s just a part of me, so it was quite easy getting back into training. It’s actually taken my mind off things and it’s where I’m the most happy.

Lauren Parker

“I didn’t even think that I would be back doing triathlon let alone doing it this quick but there has been a lot of support from the triathlon community, saying they’d love to have me back training and giving me the motivation to get back into it,” she said.

“I’m back to being a newbie again so I don’t know what to expect …but itwill be a good experience and I’ll just go as hard as I can and see what the result is.

“If I qualify then that would be absolutely amazing. If I don’t then it doesn’t matter.”

Training with Fearnley under wheelchair coach Andrew Dawes has been a boost for the determined Parker.

”It’s been so good, he’s such a machine,” she said.

“He does about four laps to my one but he’s really encouraging and really good to train with. He pushes me.”

Her weekly training schedule in the build-up to this race hasbeen four swim sessions, three hand cycle sessions and three racing chair sessions.

Each discipline has come with its own challenges.

“The hand cycle and racing chair are not really long sessions, but in a one-hour sessions it’s pretty hard work,” Parkersaid.

“The racing chair is the most technical but the hand cycle is just really hard on your arms.

“Your arms are in pain the whole time.”

“I haven’t hand cycled after swimming 750mand then theracing chair after the handcycle.”

Read more:

Newcastle triathlete in fight of her life

Six months on Parker set for swim event

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