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Conservative forces push to frustrate same-sex marriage legislation

Senator Louise Pratt joined the Canberra Gay and Lesbian Qwire to sing outside Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 16 August 2017. Fedpol. Photo: Andrew Meares MPs in favour of same-sex marriage reform are bracing for “a blizzard of amendments”, or a rival bill, from Christian conservatives intent on delaying the legalisation until they have all the safeguards for religious freedom they deem necessary.
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Conservatives believe the Parliament should ensure businessess and individuals who refuse services to same-sex couples on religious grounds are not exposed to adverse legal consequences under any change to the Marriage Act.

The looming progressive versus conservative battle is the next headache for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was criticised for ordering the $122 million protracted postal poll, while reassuring voters their verdict would be respected if they backed change by Parliament expediting the matter before Christmas.

With the n Bureau of Statistics reporting that nearly eight in 10 ns returned their forms, pessimistic “no” campaigners have confirmed they will insist on major changes to the way same-sex marriage is introduced if the “yes” vote gets up – as expected – when results are announced next Wednesday.

At present the only proposed same-sex marriage legislation on the table is the private member’s bill drafted by Liberal senator Dean Smith. This bill has been through the committee process and is ready to go.

But prominent conservative “no” MPs say this bill fails to provide sufficient religious exemptions for businesses, individuals and schools, and that it does not guarantee freedom of speech to conscientious objectors.

“In the event of ‘yes’ vote, the Dean Smith bill is an insufficient basis to start the conversation,” conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz told Fairfax Media.

“While it would be desirable to have the matter resolved by Christmas, it is an artificial deadline in relation to this matter.

“It’s more important to get this right, rather than rushed.”

One MP said the Dean Smith bill was “exceptionally narrow”, and conservative sources confirmed a rival bill is being drafted by a group of right-wing MPs.

Mr Turnbull has pledged that in the event of a “yes” result, the government would “facilitate” the passage of a private members’ bill but has not said which one.

There are only two parliamentary sitting weeks left this year in which to legislate gay marriage.

Former Abbott government minister Kevin Andrews has argued Senator Smith’s proposed legislation is silent on crucial protections.

“The Dean Smith bill has virtually no protection for religion and belief in its terms,” he said.

“It’s very narrow, it doesn’t even apply to all marriage celebrants, and it only applies to the wedding ceremony itself.”

Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday issued a clear warning to conservatives angling to take control of the parliamentary process.

“It would be illogical and inconsistent with past practice for those who oppose change who seek to be the authors of a bill for that change,” he said.

Pro-gay marriage LNP MP Warren Entsch said the Dean Smith bill had already been scrutinised and should be introduced without delay if the “yes” vote was successful.

If conservative MPs wanted to amend it, they could “test the numbers on the floor of the house”.

“Let’s do what we’re paid to do. Let’s put the bloody legislation through without any further delay,” Mr Entsch said.

“I am confident the vote will go through in the last few weeks. It has to, it has to. I will not go into Christmas without it. There have been commitments made.”

Another pro-change MP told Fairfax Media it would be “a bit rich” if the people who have campaigned furiously against the change, “decisively lost the argument with voters, but still expected to write the bill”.

Progressives also complain that the “no” case focused on “everything but same-sex-marriage” during the postal survey campaign period and, having seen their arguments rejected by voters, unreasonably demand that the Parliament take up the cause.

n Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi has linked the upcoming parliamentary debate to the dual citizenship crisis, saying instead of waving through the change, the Parliament should be prorogued.

“I don’t want to lose it with people in the Parliament who shouldn’t be there,” he said, as more MPs suspected of dual citizenship emerged on Thursday.

But in the wake of what is tipped to be strong public support, conservatives trying to drag debate into 2018 will have their own factional leaders to contend with, as well as the bulk of Coalition MPs who have promised to respect the postal survey outcome.

Senior ministers including prominent social conservatives like Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Treasurer Scott Morrison, and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, have told colleagues they want the marriage law settled by the Parliament this year.

They believe any manoeuvres seen as creating unnecessary delays following a decisive public vote for change would leave ns feeling cheated.

Mr Dutton and Senator Cormann, key members of Mr Turnbull’s Praetorian Guard, also believe the same-sex marriage issue has dogged the government for long enough, causing disproportionate damage to party room unity, and attracting more attention than it is worth.

Along with Mr Morrison, they are expected to use their influence within the party’s right wing to ensure the change is enacted before Christmas.


17/12/2018 0

Why Postecoglou should fear playoff venue

If the Hondurans have it their way on Friday, they could spend the evening dancing on a grave.
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The apprehension of n fans over the venue for the away leg of the World Cup play-off against Honduras appears well-founded: the Socceroos are walking into a stadium locals have proudly christened “La Tumba”, or “The Tomb”, thanks to its reputation as the final resting place for the ambitions of a string of visiting overseas coaches.

While the warm and welcoming people of San Pedro Sula have struggled to change negative perceptions of their city, the intimidating reputation of Estadio Olimpico is one they revel in. They go to great lengths to accommodate foreigners but proudly boast their stadium will chew up visiting teams and spit out their coaches.

The heat, humidity, passionate fans and hostile atmosphere make La Tumba one of the most difficult places to play in international football. In the short time it has been the permanent home of Honduras, four coaches have been sacked directly after defeats at the Estadio Olimpico.

The first casualty was Rene Simoes after Jamaica lost there to Honduras in 2008. Sven Goran Eriksson’s tenure with Mexico came at an abrupt end in San Pedro Sula, while Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart was twice sacked at the venue, once with Canada and another with his native country. Indirectly, they also claim responsibility for last month’s sacking of Bruce Arena from USA after Honduras eliminated the Americans by beating Mexico at the Olimpico.

It wasn’t until the qualification process for the 2010 World Cup that the venue was discussed as a primary base for the Honduran national team. At the start of that campaign, newly-appointed Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda asked his players to choose their permanent home venue. According to Diego Paz, editor of Diez, Honduras’ daily sports newspaper, those players changed the fate of the national team.

“Most of the players are from the north side of the country. That’s where the best players are born, maybe more than half the players in the national league are from this side,” he said. “They could get a climate advantage and the players wanted to play close to their people, their family and their friends.”

A team dominated by the minorities of the north refused to play in the capital, Tegucigalpa. The football-specific Estadio Morazan in San Pedro Sula was ruled out, deemed too exclusive with its capacity of just 18,000 and potentially unsafe. The choice of Estadio Olimpico, the 40,000-seater athletics venue built for the 1997 Central American Games, was not well received by all.

Graveyard: Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto celebrates after Honduras’ 3-2 victory over Mexico last month, which eliminated the USA and led to the sacking of their coach, Bruce Arena.

Resting at the foot of the Sierra Merendon mountain ranges, the Estadio Olimpico sits in a natural catchment of rain and humidity. Combined with the searing tropical heat, the south of the city makes for a nightmare venue for any elite athletes. With limited shade and shelter, it wasn’t initially popular with the fans either, but that soon changed.

“People started liking it because of the results they were getting,” Paz said.

Two years later, Honduras qualified for their first World Cup in 28 years and just the second in the country’s history. A national holiday was declared on October 15, 2009, the day after they beat arch rivals El Salvador to qualify for South Africa. The party continued four years later when Honduras reached the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, making it two from two since moving to the Olimpico.

The stadium was decorated in the team’s colours, while a designer noticed the structure at the entrance formed a giant “H” and painted it blue. It was during that period of Honduran regional dominance when the heads began to roll.

“They started calling it the home of the national team and then ‘La Tumba de los tecnicos’ – ‘The Tomb of the Coaches’,” Paz said.

The success of Honduras was not measured just by World Cup appearances but also by the scalps of coaches sacked by their own federations after failures in San Pedro Sula.

Much of that had to do with the local fans. Some Hondurans say that football has given the country its deepest pain as well as its greatest joy. Considering a football game started a war with El Salvador, it is not much of an exaggeration.

But in the Estadio Olimpico the people began to feel an ownership of their national team and stadium. When it’s not used by Honduras, it’s open to the public specifically for community and youth programs. It has connected the team with its people, and in San Pedro Sula football takes an importance above nearly everything.

“Right now, we have national elections in 19 days and nobody is speaking about who is going to be the next president, they’re talking about who is qualifying for Russia 2018,” Paz said. “It makes you feel proud of what you are, what you represent – being Honduran. We want to see our five-star flag in Russia.”

The “house full” sign for the match against the Socceroos officially went up on Tuesday, yet scalpers continue to flood the streets of San Pedro Sula waving tickets at motorists. When on sale via legal outlets, the cheapest seats were sold for around $26 – a quarter of the weekly wage of the average Honduran. That price soared on the black market.

After sacrificing so much, the normally generous and hospitable Hondurans break character for 90 minutes inside the stadium.

Intimidating: Police use shields to protect Panamanian Abdiel Arroyo from missiles thrown from the stands as he leaves the field at the Estadio Olimpico.

“I’ve seen like 25 cups of beer rain down on our guys when they’re trying to take a corner. God bless the running track,” USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan told The Players’ Tribune.

“The fans could look right down into our locker room from street level. The next thing we knew, people were kicking through the windows and trying to throw stuff down at us. It was pandemonium, but I have to say, it was also a pretty great adrenaline rush.”

A lack of faith in their current coach, Jose Luis Pinto, and concerns over a rare long-haul trip to have sown doubt in the minds of many fans over Honduras’ chances of making it to Russia. But the locals’ confidence in La Tumbaand its daunting reputation is undiminished.

“It’s very difficult,” Honduras most decorated player, David Suazo, said about the play-off against . “But what I do know is that Honduras has to be respected in San Pedro Sula.”

A concrete stadium will vibrate as nearly 40,000 jump in unison. The noise of the drums, horns, whistles and chants make a wall of sound aided by a steep-tiered bowl. The Socceroos will dodge coins, lighters, and cups from their arrival to their departure. Local fans will be hanging from the fences, climbing light towers, painted, masked, waving flags, banners and even lighting fireworks. All the while, the groundsmen will be building another crypt in the tomb.

“You better watch out for your national coach, because he’s not having a good time right now,” Paz said.

For all the speculation surrounding Ange Postecoglou’s future as Socceroos coach, the Hondurans have good reason to believe that La Tumbamight well take the decision out of his hands.


17/12/2018 0

Strong postal vote outcome the key to social and political support

For critics of the government’s constitutionally pointless marriage poll, the time has come to “flag down a black cab and head for Real Street”, as Red Dwarf’s Dave Lister would say.
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Time for progressives – if not the LGBTI community, which must speak for itself – to pop a prophylactic Quick-Eze and prepare to eat Humble Pie.

Time to give Malcolm Turnbull, George Brandis, and yes, even Peter Dutton, their due credit.

From its comical inception, the Coalition’s ungainly “snail-mail” survey championed amazingly by the ultra-conservative Dutton, was the butt of derisive humour.

Transparently self-serving, it seemed like just another hurdle, just another can-kicking exercise, risible and beneath contempt.

Once green-lighted, after a desperate High Court challenge, it provoked the gravest warnings.

It would license a hideous public discourse, applying an unfair society-wide judgment on individual identity – a cold-hearted metric devised exclusively to devalue same-sex attracted relationships.

Zero weight was given to any affirmation arising from the major party leaders backing the change, let alone that flowing from a likely victory.

And in all the indignation, it was completely lost that marriage is by definition quintessentially a social construct. The broader the social engagement in its modernisation, the greater its validity once so broadened.

Politically this has been excruciating.

There’s no denying the Prime Minister lost paint in middle by embracing an ostensibly “ridiculous” process. But neither can one ignore the realpolitik. Bluntly, Turnbull saw no realistic alternative if he was to drag his party into the 21st century.

Wisely, equality advocates chose to participate strongly, even as some within favoured a boycott. The temptation was to limit its turn-out to below 35 per cent and then argue its result was meaningless.

Hardheads decided to go for broke. They knew that drumming up the vote was also drumming up the survey’s credibility, thus validating the Coalition.

But the bigger principle was worth protecting.

Ironically, the greatest advantage now, assuming a strong public endorsement, is the legitimacy of any question that has been so publicly and extensively litigated.

Indeed, the greatest asset the “yes” case has ahead of the parliamentary vote is that clear public endorsement.

Denial would be betrayal on a colossal scale.

In practical terms, the survey has given Coalition MPs the cover they need to ignore their recalcitrant base and vote squarely for social justice. More than that, it brings a moral and democratic obligation.


17/12/2018 0

Judd shares bedroom styling tips with Canberra

In everyday life it’s important to have a place where you can simply escape from the hustle and bustle.
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For Rebecca Judd, a well-styled bedroom makes the perfect sanctuary. The mother of four loves retreating to the room she shares with husband, Chris.

“I love escaping to a different room, my husband and I have a bedroom on a different level to our kids,” said Judd.

“We’ve got a whole wing to our house which is just ours and there’s no toys allowed in there.”

This weekend Judd will be sharing her top tips with Canberrans on creating the ultimate bedroom sanctuary. She will be discussing the important things that make up a bedroom style including rugs, layering and artwork.

“The key to styling with a new look is to have at least three items for that cohesive look in your room so something on your wall, something in a cushion and then something on the end of the bed,” she said.

Judd emphasised the current pink trend as a great addition to any bedroom in the form of a statement piece that you can mute with whites and greys.

“We’ve got this pink linen bed cover and my husband loves it, he doesn’t think it’s too girly,” she said.

“I’ve got these grey cushions so it makes it less girly and more masculine but still really soft, warm and beautiful.”

Velvet and boho are also big on Judd’s radar at the moment.

“Velvet is still also really big, both in fashion and in bedding, and you can do either a quilted velvet bed cover or you can do a velvet coverlet that sits on the end of your bed, which is really gorgeous,” she added.

“Boho trend has also come back and that’s really great.”

The one item Judd believes adds the most character to a room is the humble throw.

“Something that instantly makes a bedroom seem really warm, inviting and styled is an amazing throw on the end of the bed,” she said.

“Take your bedroom to the next level layer with a gorgeous throw and people will walk in and think you’re a stylist.”

Judd will be presenting her masterclass “Thread Count Bedroom Styling” this Saturday, November 11, at Monaro Mall, Canberra Centre from 11am to noon.


18/08/2019 0

Citizenship crisis: High Court referral ‘probably the only step’ says Labor MP Justine Keay

Labor MHR Justine KeayThe Tasmanian Labor politician embroiled in the national citizenship crisis has released documents in an effort to clear her name.
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Since Wednesday morning the citizenship status of Braddon MHR Justine Keay has been on the lips of her parliamentary colleagues, including the Prime Minister.

Ms Keay spoke exclusively to Fairfax Media about being the face of Labor’s perceived citizenship cloud.

Ms Keay, who was a British citizen on the night of the election, is relying on the steps she took to renounce her dual citizenship to make her eligible for parliament.

In February 2016, the Labor Party’s legal division notified Ms Keay of the required steps to be eligible as a candidate – but it was not until the election was called in May she began the renunciation process.

The emotional Member for Braddon began tearing-up when explaining why it took three months to renounce her British connection.

“I delayed it – it’s one of those things with the citizenship I knew I could never get it back,” she said.

“If I don’t get elected I can’t get my citizenship back and for me, it was a very personal thing.

“I try not to be upset about it but – it was that last tangible connection with my dad.”

She acknowledged the renunciation could have been done earlier, and the delay had created the cloud hanging over her head.

Despite taking steps to renounce her citizenship prior to the election, Ms Keay’s political opponents have seized on the confirmation she was British on election night.

“What’s frustrating is I have done everything possible and I have taken the constitutional requirements that I have very very seriously – you’ve got people like Barnaby Joyce and like Stephen Parry, possible Jacqui Lambie who have not even asked the question,” she said.

After the resignation of Mr Parry last week Ms Keay again sought legal advice for her own situation.

On Wednesday, Ray Finkelstein QC and Susan Gory advised she was eligible to sit as a member of the House of Representatives.

Ms Keay said there was no reason for her case to be tested in the High Court – but acknowledged it may be the only way to determine her fate.

“I would be incredibly confident of getting through that process,” she said.

“Part of me sort of thinks – that probably is the only step to really put an end to all this and completely clarify it.”

She was cautious about using the nation’s highest court as a testing ground and instead hoped universal disclosure in parliament would finalise the crisis that has gripped the parliament since July.

“For me to go to the High Court and say, can you just test my case, but I have no grounds for you do so, is pretty stupid,” she said.

Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.

“Should the government decide to act in a partisan way and do that, that’s for them to determine.

“If they want to try to take out me on the way through their crisis – so be it, I’ll deal with that.”

Ms Keay said she was the “sacrificial lamb of Eric Abetz”, and her and fellow first-term MP, Susan Lamb, were being targeted by the Coalition.

She hoped explaining her steps would provide confidence for the people that elected her.

“This is becoming just farcical,” she said.

“This is it, let me get on with my job now and let’s get a process in place where we can sort this out once and for all because it’s just become a complete circus and I don’t want to be a part of that.”

The Examiner


18/08/2019 0

Wanderers chairman scores $15.5 million in Point Piper

Rich Lister and Western Sydney Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer and his wife Eva have sold their Point Piper investment property for about $15.5 million.
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The deal ends a year-long sales campaign that started with $20 million hopes before it was relisted with Bart Doff, of Laing+ Simmons Double Bay.

Doff was unavailable to comment on the sale figure, but an offer of $15.5 million was reportedly knocked back at auction last week, and sources say it then sold for close to that.

Lederer bought the Wyuna Road property designed by architect John Suttor in 1992 for $2.8 million from businessman Charles Scarf and his wife Maria.

Lederer, who part-owns the A-League Sydney soccer club, made his fortune in the smallgoods business, selling the Primo Smallgoods business two years ago for $1.45 billion. He was ranked ‘s 73rd richest person on this year’s Financial Review Rich List with a worth of $824 million.

He and his wife Eva remain Point Piper locals, having traded up to the $26 million house on nearby Wolseley Road they bought in 2008.

???Point Piper’s turnover has ramped up in recent months with a run of high-end sales. The house two doors from the Lederer property sold recently for more than $20 million to LA-based entrepreneur and star of the Shark Tank reality show Andrew Banks and his wife Andrea.

Luxury car importer Neville Crichton sold his waterfront home for more than $36 million last month to property investor Andrew Potter, who in turn sold his nearby waterfront home on Wunulla Road for $20 million to the Mayo family. Related: Andrew Potter trades one Point Piper waterfront for anotherRelated: Andrew Banks makes $20-million return to Point PiperRelated: Steven Lowy expands beachfront by $14.2 million


18/08/2019 0

We need to talk about money

How many people know the nitty gritty of your financial position? My guess is very few outside the relevant professionals, like your accountant or mortgage broker, because it’s just not the type of thing ns openly delve into. Talking about money is variously viewed as impolite, garish or simply taboo.
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Research suggests that when we do talk about money, we don’t always give the full story.

A2016 survey of 1014 ns nationwide, commissioned by Fox Symes Debt Solutions and conducted by Galaxy, found that more than one in two people have deceived a partner, family or friends about money. Two out of three people with children living at home hide debt and spending from their loved ones, compared with less than one in two people without children at home.

What we earn, what we spend, and how we manage our financial affairs are matters on which many of us are tight-lipped. And while there is certainly a place for discretion, particularly in this realm, I often wonder if there isn’t value in lifting the veil of secrecy from time to time. Not merely because of voyeurism’s allure but because without a little transparency we’re flying blind.

For those of us who don’t openly detail our fiscal positions, and have family and friends who are similarly inclined, the ins and outs of how other people manage their money is totally mysterious despite potentially being enormously enlightening.

Personally I am always intrigued to discover what other families spend on food, electricity and all of the general expenses households face. When these topics come up I always find the responses from family or friends to be either reassuring or instructive. Reassuring if we’re in the same ballpark for certain expenses, and instructive when it emerges that we are possibly paying far more for our phones or internet than we need to.

But when it comes to the big picture of how other people make their money work, it is rarely discussed so making a comparison is impossible. And yet, that is arguably where being able to make those comparisons would be most valuable.

While it’s easy to compare notes on what you spend in a week to feed your family, opening up about what you earn, how you and your partner managed to piece together a deposit, or how much credit card debt you have are not subjects we usually explore.

In recent months I have come to learn a little more about the bigger picture of a few friends’ financial positions and it wasn’t because they left their bank statements on the kitchen bench. It was because money is a major source of angst for lots of ns and when an opportunity for a private conversation arose, it came up.

I was relieved it did come up because for the first time I was able to appreciate their circumstances, and put our own in context. No two families are the same but I found it enormously reassuring to discover that the lion’s share of the house deposits people had saved, had come about because of inheritances or gifts from family. Previously I had assumed there was some financial wizardry I wasn’t aware of that helped individuals piece together enough for even a modest property in Sydney.

According to the annual Stress and wellbeing report by the n Psychological Society, finances is rightat the top of our list of worries.Research by the Centre for Social Impact, conducted for National Bank, showed that two million ns are experiencing severe or high financial stress, while a further 10 million are living with some level of financial worry. It is unsurprising given money is entirely unavoidable on a daily basis and its impact is anything but inconsequential.

Which makes it all the more curious – and unhelpful – that we don’t talk about it.

Sharing your bank balance with all and sundry is hardly advisable, but nor is keeping your true financial position from the people you love.

Financial stress is not rare and while the adage of a problem shared is a problem halved isn’t strictly true, there is value in opening up. Reaching out to a friend or a family member you trust is worth considering whether things are good or bad. Those conversations have the power to change not just how you look at money but how you manage it too.

Georgina Dent is a journalist, editor and TV commentator with a keen focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality.


18/08/2019 0

Comprehensive credit reporting will provide a better picture

Whether you’re trying to buy a property, refinance a mortgage or organise car finance, Canberra’s latest finance regulations might help you.
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Comprehensive Credit Reporting (CCR) is a new way for the finance industry to conduct credit scoring. It will be implemented by credit providers by July 1, 2018.

Traditional credit scoring is used by lenders to assess how your past behaviour influences future debt repayments. However, it uses only “negative” scoring, such as late payments, defaults and loan arrears to give you a score. This means, for example, a phone bill you defaulted on a few years ago can come up when you apply for a home loan, but it doesn’t take into account years of regular credit card repayments.

Under the CCR, credit scores also recognise your good behaviour with credit. Essentially, they’re collecting more data (negative and positive), which over the long-term builds an accurate picture of your history and behaviour.

Effectively, a borrower with small credit blemishes could be seen as able to recover quickly because of their subsequent positive record. So, lenders will be able to offer better interest rates to would-be customers.

As the system matures, other types of debt, such as mobile phone plans, power, water and gas, can also be incorporated, leading to “behavioural” assessments rather than just profiling.

The new regime will allow lenders to create better customer profiles, and for brokers to proactively find better deals for their clients.

To put yourself in the best possible position, understand these basics: Do’s

Pay on time: credit cards and loans have regular monthly repayments. When you make a habit of repaying on the due date, you build a positive credit history.

Available balance: if you maintain an available credit card balance that’s always in excess of what you owe, you build a positive history.

Keep the credit card you have serviced for a long time: if you use a few cards to get you through a tough time, pay out the most recent cards. Keep the longest-term credit card and its “good” credit history – it accrues more positives.

Prioritise your mortgage: your mortgage is likely to be the largest and longest-term of your debts, so prioritise the repayments and build a long, positive record.

Consult a broker: you might not understand how good your credit score is, but a broker does and can probably use it to find you a better loan. Don’ts

Use multiple interest-free cards: rolling-over credit card debt into a new card that’s interest free might be a necessary one-off manoeuvre, but don’t make it a habit – it scores as a negative.

Apply for too many loans and cards: be sparing in your applications – they can score negatively.

Make late payments: do what you can do to avoid missing payments.

Go over 60 days: if you do have to miss a repayment, don’t let non-payment go more than two months. If it is because of a life event, such as serious illness, speak to your lender as soon as possible.

The CCR will be a positive for many borrowers, because for the first time ns will be credit-scored on what they do right, as well as what they’ve done wrong.

Good luck.

Mark Bouris is the executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road.


18/08/2019 0

Why Bitcoin’s bubble might not burst just yet

OK, we can all see it: bitcoin looks a lot like a bubble. It stinks of irrational exuberance: it is incredibly volatile, and not only does its price continue to increase, but it is doing so at ever accelerating rates.
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It took 1789 days for bitcoin to go from nothing to $US1000. Then 1271 days to get from $US1000 to $US2000, and just 13 days to jump from $US6000 to $US7000, its latest milestone.

Individuals are selling their houses and giving up their life savings to put everything into bitcoin, seemingly more out of speculation that its price will continue to rise than because of any serious belief in its intrinsic value.

Many of the characteristics of a classic bubble – the fact that everybody is talking about it, extreme predictions about its future price, and the parabolic price curve – appear to apply to bitcoin.

For the record, I have no idea where bitcoin’s price is going to go, and in no way do I endorse it. It is very possible – likely, even – to believe this craze won’t last. But is the only way down? There are reasons to think not. Everybody thinks it’s a bubble

When a lot of bubbles pop – the real estate crash of 2007, or the dotcom crisis of 2000 – the aftermath is often characterised by complaints that nobody saw it coming.

But there is a cacophony of senior figures in the finance industry – including JP Morgan’s chairman and chief executive Jamie Dimon, Tidjane Thiam, the boss of Credit Suisse and the much-followed veteran investor Warren Buffett – warning that bitcoin is a “fraud”, “the very definition of a bubble” and “doesn’t make sense”.

This isn’t a situation where there are no safety warnings, almost everybody who people would usually listen to on this stuff say bitcoin’s out of control. And yet, people are willing to ignore them. If nothing else, it suggests that the market is not easily spooked. It’s all a matter of timing

Bitcoin has been called a bubble for most of its lifetime. In 2011, when it dropped from a measly $US33 to $US2.51, The Economist noted that “the currency’s rise was the result of a speculative bubble”.

The arguments advanced against it were eerily similar to those now. The same happened in 2013, when it peaked at slightly over $US1000 – a seventh of where it is today.

Bitcoin has crashed before, in 2011 and 2013, but on both occasions, its price rapidly rose again. Looking back, you can hardly say now that it was a case of the bubble bursting.

One can argue it’s only a matter of time, but on a long enough timescale, so is everything.

Kodak had a long and illustrious run before it went bust in 2012 – was it in a century-long camera bubble?

The total value of bitcoin, around $US100 billion, is tiny compared with other assets, so it might run for some time yet.

Indeed, the floodgates are only just opening to institutional cash. There is some value to it

Critics of bitcoin say that apart from wild price swings and speculation, there’s nothing to it: it’s not a great way to pay for things, for example.

But it isn’t exactly useless. The blockchain technology that underpins it is (at least in theory) useful for all kinds of things. Its decentralised nature makes the currency itself nearly unhackable.

And “initial coin offerings”, a way for companies to raise funds using cryptocurrencies, do have some benefits (albeit a series of scams, hacks and raised eyebrows have not enhanced their reputations).

Admittedly these are uses for blockchain and cryptocurrency in general – not bitcoin – but as the best known and original implementation of the tech, it has the position of being a barometer for the rest of the industry. Believe it or not, it is more stable than other assets

Bitcoin might look like nonsense compared to the (relative) stability of the US dollar or the British pound. But this isn’t the case everywhere.

Google suggests that the countries with some of the most interest in bitcoin are Bolivia, Columbia, Nigeria, Slovenia and South Africa – countries that have been hit by inflation, falling currency values or expensive money transfer services.

For many people in these countries, bitcoin may represent a safer, more stable and more convenient store of value than local currencies.

The Daily Telegraph, London


18/07/2019 0

Taylor backs Wade and Maxwell for first Test

Former n captain Mark Taylor is backing both Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell to be selected by for the first Test of the Ashes series at the Gabba in a fortnight’s time.
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The battle for the wicketkeeper spot appears to be a four-horse race between Wade, Peter Nevill, Tim Paine and Alex Carey.

Wade, who is ‘s incumbent Test keeper, has been criticised for his glove work in recent times.

However, Taylor believes the 29-year-old has improved enough to warrant another chance in Brisbane against England.

“I watched quite a bit of the Indian series that played in during the winter months and there’s no doubt in my mind that Matthew Wade did improve as a keeper, but it’s tough over there,” Taylor told SEN on Friday.

“I haven’t seen the blokes in recent times but if Matthew Wade has improved his keeping, which he did a little bit in India, well then I think he’s the man for the job. But the selectors see more of the game than me. If they don’t think he’s the best keeper then they should get the best keeper.

“I’m a bit of a believer that the incumbent should almost lose the spot first, but I’m also a great believer that with that bowling attack, need to pick their best wicketkeeper.

“There will be some edges flying around at the Gabba and if I’m the skipper I want them hung onto. So I think if the keeper does his job and holds the catches for , or the stumpings from Nathan Lyon or whatever comes along, that’ll go a long way to helping win a Test match.”

Taylor also believes his theory on incumbency should apply to Maxwell when the selectors sit down and decide who should take the number six spot.

“To be totally honest I think Glenn Maxwell has got the lead-in at the moment,” he said.

“I know he hasn’t made huge runs in recent times, but he’s made a couple of 60s, he is the incumbent and I suspect if he has a reasonable Shield game over the next week or so, he’ll be the number six.”

Taylor reckons ‘s bowling attack, which consists of Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Lyon, will tilt the series in the hosts’ favour and he suspects the Aussies are more settled than the English.

“We’ve got a good pace arsenal, Nathan Lyon I think really has improved as a spin bowler so it’s always good going into a series when you know who your four bowlers are going to be. So that’s a real advantage for ,” Taylor said.

“So ‘s side is pretty well picked. So they’ve got good bowlers and a side that pretty well knows what it’s going to be going into the first Test and that’s a nice place to be.”

The same couldn’t be said for England, according to Taylor.

“There’s no doubt England have their concerns at the moment with their side but you just never know with these Ashes contests,” he said.

“England have got to find a couple of blokes to bat in that middle order and if they can uncover someone over the next three months, they’re a chance. But they’re going to have to find someone very shortly.”

Taylor conceded there was a chance star all-rounder Ben Stokes could feature for England in the Ashes if he wasn’t charged over his involvement in a late-night brawl, but he probably wouldn’t be available until the third or fourth Test.

“So between now and then, England have to play some good cricket against who seem to be getting their ducks in line so we’ve got a good series.”

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Move to salvage Trans-Pacific Partnership gathers steam on APEC sidelines

Danang, Vietnam: Trade Ministers of 11 countries have reached agreement on a pact to salvage a Pacific Rim trade deal rejected by the United States that has been lobbying for on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
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But several countries, including Japan and Canada, disagree on how fast the agreement should be progressed. They differed, too, on what had been agreed.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after arriving in the Vietnamese seaside city of Danang the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $US10 trillion.

“So that is a huge market,” he said.

Mr Turnbull began lobbying hard for the TPP after arriving in Danang, telling an APEC leaders’ reception the pact “creates rules of the road to match the new economic world in which we’re living.”

“It aims at old hidden trade barriers like corruption and new ones like data protectionism,” he said.

“It works to level the playing field for non-state companies and is designed to defend and extend the freedom to explore, share and capitalise on new ideas.”

Japan’s Minister for TPP negotiations Toshimitsu Motegi described the agreement reached after days of intense negotiations in Danang as a “high standard and balanced agreement.”

“The agreement has a great significance in creating free, fair and new rules in the Asia-Pacific region where growth is robust,” he said.

However Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne later said on Twitter: “Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP.”

Canadian officials have insisted Canada, the second largest economy among the TPP nations after Japan, would not be rushed into reviving the pact.

A Canadian official said ministers from different countries may have different interpretations of what ministers have agreed on.

Mexico officials said agreement had been reached but gave no details.

Mr Turnbull and leaders of the other 10 nations are tentatively scheduled to meet at APEC to discuss the proposals of ministers.

Backed by , Japan has lobbied hard to proceed with the pact that is seen as a way to counter China’s regional dominance.

US President Donald Trump, who abandoned the TPP days after taking office, is scheduled to make a keynote speech at the annual 21-member APEC talk-fest that will be carefully examined for clues as to how his “America first” mantra will guide US engagement in Pacific Rim countries.

Leaving behind escalating tensions with Opposition leader Bill Shorten over the citizenship crisis, Mr Turnbull turned to trade at APEC, saying he will be urging 20 other APEC member countries not to turn their backs on protectionism.

“The region cannot close the door to the flow of goods, services, capital and ideas,” he said.

Mr Turnbull announced a new trade agreement with Peru, one of the world’s fastest growing economics that will generate more exports, including for farmers who have been effectively shut out of the country’s market.

It will eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs that exporters face to the country.

There will be immediate duty free access for n sheep, kangaroo meat, most wine and most horticulture products, including wheat.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said concluding the agreement at APEC sends an important message to the world that ” embraces trade because we know it creates jobs and drives economic growth.”

Peru’s GDP is similar to that of Vietnam and its population is similar to Malaysia.


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“A couple of them didn’t make it out”: World War II veteran John Fenwick speaks of importance of Remembrance Day

A day to remember: WWII-veteran John Fenwick, who turned 96 this year, will take a moment to remember the sacrifice of friends and family on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-HubersIt’s a day that John Fenwick thinks every young n should always recognise.
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On Saturday November 11, Remembrance Day, John will do what has been doing for decades.

He’ll head out to the Maitland RSL Sub-Branch service before taking a few solemn moments to remember the effortsof thousands of young men and women who have served in ’s armed forces –including his own, his father, his son and his mates.

“On Remembrance Day we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country,” John, of East Maitland, toldThe Mercury.

“In my opinion it’s a good day. It’s a day whenyoung people should remember these gallant young men who gave their lives for their country.”

He’ll remember his own service, too, which included a 14-month stint in Darwin when it was a constant target forJapanese bombers.

“A couple of them didn’t make it out,” he said of mateswho lost their lives on n soil to the raids.

A special day like no other for WWII veteran John TweetFacebookA 21stbirthday at warJohn Fenwick can still remember the panic that came over Darwin every time the Japanese bombers flew over.

“Every time the moon was out, over came the Japanese,” the 96-year-old from East Maitland recalled.

He spent 14 months in Darwin during World War II, including a hectic year-long period whenthere were 65 Japanese bombing raids.

There were plenty of close calls for the 21-year-old.

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Memories of sacrifice resonateLegacy’s helping hand“The Japanese came in low flying when we were in the shower one day,” John said.

“A couple of them (his mates) didn’t make it out. They were a little late getting out of the shower.”

Thosesacrificeswill be among the many he’ll quietly commemorate on November 11, Remembrance Day.

John’s time in WWII is nestled among a long family history of service, which includes his father who fought in WWI and his son who served in Vietnam.

His father, an Englishman who moved to to work in a Kurri coalmine, signed up to the n war effort in 1916.

“My father dug tunnels under the German lines at Hill 60,” John said.

“He got gassed twice and shot once. He was never the same when he came back.”

John said he could still clearly remember sitting up in the early hours of the morningwith his father.

A day to remember: WWII veteran John Fenwick and wife Muriel met when she was working at a munitions factory in Adelaide during the war. They’ll celebrate their 74th anniversary next week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

“When he came back, he couldn’t sleep,” John explained.

Those experiences pushed John to fulfilhis “life’s ambition” to help other returned soldiers.

“When I saw my Dad like that, I thought I wanted to help any other soldiers who’d come back,” he said.

He has certainly done that, racking up decades worth of service for both Legacy and the Maitland RSL Sub-Branch, where he was president for seven years.

“I feel like I’ve done my bit for the community,” he said.

“I just wanted to give back.”

He’ll give again on Saturday, laying a wreath on behalf of Legacyat the Remembrance Day ceremony held in Maitland Park.

And he’ll take a few moments to pause and reflect on the service, and sacrifice, of mates and family.

The Maitland Mercury


18/07/2019 0

Artist Trevor Dickinson releases Newcastle playing cards featuring the city’s most iconic and obscure places

Nostalgia on the cards Knows how to fold’em: Trevor Dickinson has just released a pack of cards which feature his work of Newcastle and another for Canberra. Picture: Simone de Peak
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Please be seated: Tallara Parkway bus shelter, Narrabundah, ACT. By Trevor Dickinson.

Ordinary to extraordinary: Trevor Dickinson in front of an image that featured in his Welcome to Maitland Exhibition in 2016. Picture: Simone de Peak

Big splash: Trevor Dickinson with his mural on the southern wall of Mayfield Pool in 2013. Picture: Peter Stoop

Sea patrol: Trevor Dickinson at the Nobbys breakwall, a place he was once scared to go (because of the sign) but that features in one of his most iconic drawings. Picture: Marina Neil

Beach days: Artist Trevor Dickinson and his daughters Ella and Lucy in 2011 with the artwork of an ice cream van part of the mural in the tunnel leading to Newcastle Beach which they all worked on. Picture: Phil Hearne

Still life: Trevor Dickinson’s image of the Newcastle Council building.

Say cheese: Trevor Dickinson with then mayor John Tate at a photowall at Newcastle Museum. Picture: Dean Osland

TweetFacebook Trevor Dickinson’s workRESPECTED artist and muralist Trevor Dickinson has released a pack of playing cards featuring both obscure and well-known Newcastlelocations, including business facades.

Thecards show a cross-section of Mr Dickinson’swork from the past eight years, with plenty of images that only a Novocastrian would recognise.

“This collection of drawings is really a personal portrait of Newcastle, and I love the idea that it fits into a pocket and can be easily posted around the world,” he says.

Businesses on thecards include Godfreys on King Street, Watt Street Commercial in the city, Don Beppino’s in Merewether and Gambles accountancy in Hamilton.

Mr Dickinson emigrated to Newcastle from England in 2002 with his n wife and two children. Working remotely as a freelance commercial designer on projects ranging from Star Wars to textile design work, it took him seven years to pick up a pencil and begin his quirky and oft nostalgic seriesof Newcastle images.

“I wasgetting homesick [for England] because I hadn’t connected much with Newcastle, so I started drawing Newcastle to get out of the house,” he says.

His first drawing was the infamous “Men, do it longer!” billboard on Lambton Road at Broadmeadow, and since then he’s captured iconic images such asNobbys to random scenes such as a rubbish bin in Braye Park, Waratah, not to mention his 100 letterboxes series.

While Newcastle is his favoured muse, Mr Dickinson has also released a pack of cards on Canberra, a city he’s currently focused on by drawing its iconic bus shelters, which will feature in a 2018 exhibition.

And yet at the start, he had no real inkling that his wonky line drawings would develop into his now thriving company Newcastle Productions.

“I wanted to make money from it so Icould justify stopping to take time to do it; it was just pocket money, but it was like a game. Then it just started selling,” he says.

Mr Dickinson’s works can be found athis online store, and placesincludingStudio Melt in Newcastle and the National Gallery andPortrait Gallery in Canberra.


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