After a sudden, shocking event, it’s time to connect again

So unspeakably awful. Can a prank call by a couple of commercial radio ”funsters” from Australia really have triggered a woman’s suicide in London? The randomness is shocking. A call that wasn’t supposed to get through gets through. A conversation that wasn’t supposed to happen happens. Radio ratings gold and high-fives all round. Everyone so caught up in the caper that no one imagines what could possibly go wrong. It’s all just a lark, and stunningly effective; global notoriety in five ½ seconds.
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Everyone stoked. The British media, deep in the trauma of its post-Leveson funk, suddenly able to sneer at the audacity of the uncouth colonials in the hope it might convince their reading and listening and viewing public there is someone more obnoxious and atrocious than they are.

The uncouth colonials, for their part, had stolen a march on the competition, which is always an objective if not the objective. The Sydney radio scene jumps the shark again, which is its stock-in-trade. Look at me. I’m being outrageous. Isn’t that cool?

Those inclined to fluff feathers in consternation did. Facebook popped with alternating sneers and cheers.

And in London, a nurse meant to be a tiny cameo in the whole episode went off-script and became the story when she didn’t come home. A presumed suicide by a mother and a wife a few weeks shy of Christmas.

Now no one is laughing. And then, when it seemed impossible for the event to become even more abject, the obscenity continued.

A crowd gathered to pronounce upon Jacintha Saldanha’s death, not letting the lack of available facts deter them from their roiling, punishing conjecture. The culture rose collectively to a shriek of assumption. Blame was promptly apportioned. The two presenters were trussed for the bonfire. Media outlets covered it all blow by blow; experts delivered pronouncements; advertisers quivered their discomfiture; media critics went into excoriation mode: a multidimensional circus seemingly untethered from an event solemn and shocking.

The radio station brought in the lawyers and the spinners. A terrible, tight-throated news conference ensued where a 2DayFM manager tried too evidently to straddle the riding instructions of both sets of advisers: concede nothing, project sorrow – and don’t sweat the segue.

Formulation one: ”Nobody could have reasonably foreseen this event.” (Presumably that’s a defence against negligence.) Formulation two: ”We are incredibly saddened for the family.” (Public relations 101, made good with authenticity. Of course they are. How could anyone be otherwise?)

I feel ambivalent about writing this column: sideline remarks on a tragedy. At one level it’s mawkish and obscene – a final violation. I don’t know why this lady ended her life, assuming she did. Did it relate to the shock and humiliation of being swept up unexpectedly into a made-for-promo parlour game concocted by people she’d never met?

It’s terrible, whatever the reason. A woman who cared for sick and vulnerable people taken to despair by such vapidity. The contrast between what mattered and what didn’t in this episode is searing.

This is the great irony of our connected world – it seems to be disconnecting us in stealthy increments from essential nourishment: from kindness and civility and comfort. We feel hurled into a vituperative wasteland of shame and blame, of cavalier brutality – a place where despair can be annihilating. It’s connection without communion, engagement without empathy.

I don’t want this column to be a media seminar. I just want to say this. No one meant for this to happen. There was no malice. There was a palpable absence of malice.

This is a tragedy, plain and simple. I wish I could hug Jacintha Saldanha’s children. I wish I could have told their mother that it was all crap and none of it mattered and it would be gone just as suddenly as it arrived; that nothing adheres any more – we are so addled and over-stimulated we will have forgotten by this time next week.

I also feel very sorry for two Sydney radio employees who won’t be able to forget; who are going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives. I don’t blame them; what reasonable person could? They are components of a system, and we’ve all done something without sufficient regard for the consequences.

But this is a column worth writing for this reason. The media needs to look unflinchingly into the heart of our most difficult year in living memory. We need to wake up. We need to start making connections again. We need to start acting like we are accountable, even if no one actually enforces the accountability. We need to engage, and to prioritise substance over notoriety.

We can stand removed from our community and howl on about our lost world, make excuses, blame our victims, blather among ourselves, indulge our existential nightmares with wanton stunts, and lash out at our critics, because they just don’t ”get” us.

But we will be standing alone, in the make-believe world we’ve constructed. And it will crumble around us.

National affairs correspondent Katharine Murphy will replace Phillip Coorey as a regular columnist.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the King Edward VII hospital where Catherine was treated for extreme morning sickness. Photo by Fred Duval/Getty Images

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The sweet solution?

Sweet poison … is stevia the answer to the so-called sugar problem?Stevia has been said, by many, to be the sweet solution to the sugar ‘problem’.
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Native to Paraguay, the stevia plant is as much as 300 times sweeter than sugar, but has barely any effect on blood glucose levels and contains no calories.

It’s pitched as the ‘natural’ alternative to artificial sweeteners and is the choice of US physicist and renowned sugar critic, Gary Taubes, who has said that by spiking our insulin levels, sugar, not fat, is responsible for the obesity epidemic and a slew of related illnesses.

In an article for the New York Times, he said stevia “gets my vote as the best noncaloric sweetener, by virtue of being the only one that’s truly ‘natural’… Extracts of the herb have been used as a sweetener for centuries. In Japan, Stevia has been sold widely as a sugar substitute since the early 1970s without any documented ill effects.”

David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison is more coy about it. In his Sweet Poison Quit Plan book, he puts stevia on the ‘your call’ list of sweeteners that he believes need more research.

Indeed, concerns have been raised intermittently about stevia over the years. It was questioned in the 70s at the same time that sugar substitutes such as saccharin were suspected carcinogens. Then, in 2008, when the Bush administration gave it the green light, alarm bells starting ringing.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest issued a statement at the time, saying stevia was “potentially harmful” and that “it is far too soon to allow this substance in the diet sodas and juice drinks consumed by millions of people.”

But, for the most part, it’s hailed by various health professionals and companies as a natural panacea to sugar’s toxic shock to the system.  Even confectionary companies are getting steamed up over stevia. In September, Schweppes Australia launched Pepsi Next. “The new breed of cola… sweetened naturally with stevia,” they say. “Used around the world for hundreds of years, stevia is a completely natural sweetener.”

But, Dr Alan Barclay, of Diabetes Australia and spokesman for the Dietitians Association of Australia, says stevia may not be quite as natural as the marketing would have us believe.

“There’s a little bit of mythology around it,” he says. “It took a while to get approved [in 2008 in Australia], now it’s the new flavour of the month.”

But, he warns, the herb stevia is different from what we see on the supermarket shelf. While he explains the plant extract itself doesn’t contain calories, we rarely eat it in its pure form.

The powder “is a highly refined extract, blended with sugar alcohol and… bulked up with maltodextrin [a refined starch that breaks down into glucose],” he says. “To get it table-top sweet, it’s bulked out with other carbohydrates which are calorific.”

Despite this, Alice Gibson, dietitian with The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders at the University of Sydney, sees stevia as a good option for people who are watching their weight or calorie intake.

She suggests buying the plant and picking the leaves for a natural tea sweetener. Having said that, she’s not sure we need a solution to sugar in the first place. “Sugar is not evil,” she says, “if consumed in moderate amounts. If people do consume a lot, they need to look at where it’s coming from – fruit or soft drinks… it’s looking at your diet as a whole.”

She says, as with most foods, the dose makes the poison. “We need sugar, carbs and fat to survive, but above certain levels they are a problem… just because something is naturally derived doesn’t mean it is better for us.”

Les Copeland, a professor of agriculture at the University of Sydney who specialises in food chemistry, agrees. He also says the added maltodextrin in stevia isn’t concerning. “It’s pretty neutral… it’s produced from starch and is very widely used.”

But, stevia is “almost certainly not” a solution to obesity, Copeland says. “There’s no magic bullet. There’s no such thing. It’s taking a holistic approach to diet, looking at portions and also how much you’re working it off.”

Barclay agrees. It’s good to have “consumer choice, so long as people are aware it’s not a miracle cure,” he says. “Not consuming sugar is not going to make our lifestyle problems go away.”

In fact, the move to avoid sugar is creating another set of issues. As with stevia, he says many food producers wanting to appeal to the sugar-fearing public use oligosaccharides (which includes maltodextrin) instead, which do not add nutritional value and can spike a product’s glycemic index.

The concern, he says, is that reduced sugar levels are being replaced with highly refined carbohydrates, which, because of a nutritional labelling loophole, do not have to be brought to consumer attention. “These are invisible carbohydrates,” he says.

To address this issue, Barclay plans to submit a proposal to Food Standards Australia New Zealand in the next week, recommending “that we deal with carbohydrates on the same level as fat.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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Arrests after police foil alleged hotel robbery

The Royal Oak Hotel.FOURmen have been arrested after police allegedly foiled another hotel robbery as the suspects armed themselves and were about to enter the Royal Oak Hotel at Cessnock last night.
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Three men, all from Hamilton South, were arrested following a 30-minute police pursuit through the Coalfields.

A fourth man was arrested at Cessnock this morning after allegedly escaping from police following the pursuit.

They have all been charged with the attempted robbery of the Cessnock hotel while one of the men has also been charged over the violent hold-up of the Mary Ellen Hotel at Merewether late last month.

Newcastle City crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Humphrey said arrestingPolice seized a number of items from the car and located machetes near the Royal Oak Hotel,which appeared to be the same machetes that were used in the Mary Ellen raid.

He said Strike Force Madeira was formed following the Mary Ellen robbery and investigators were able to identify a suspect.

Strike force detectives discovered that another robbery was allegedly being planned on a Newcastle licensed premises on Friday night but wereable to foil it before it took place.

Detective Chief Inspector Humphrey said intensive investigations over the weekend then allegedly uncovered plans for thesuspects to raid another pub, but not the target.

At 11pm last night, the suspects were allegedly seen to put on masks and arm themselves and walk towards the Royal Oak Hotel as it was still trading.

Police attempted to arrest the men but they escaped in a car.

A 30-minute police pursuit continued through the Coalfields until the car was stopped at Gillieston Heights.

Three men were taken into custody.

One man, 19, was later charged with the armed robbery of the Mary Ellen Hotel and the attempted armed robbery of the Royal Oak Hotel.

Two other men, aged 19 and 23, were charged with the Royal Oak Hotel attempted armed robbery.

A fourth suspect, who had allegedly run from police, was arrested at Cessnock this morning.

All men will be refused bail to appear in Maitland Local Court today.

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‘We will stamp out cheating’

Racing Victoria chiefs say that trainers who try to cheat their integrity investigators will be caught and that no number of counter-surveillance measures will stop rogue elements being found out.
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Fairfax Media’s revelation of a sophisticated range of techniques employed by cheats in a bid to avoid detection has put a spotlight on the murky world of racing’s underbelly.

Racing’s detectives have disclosed that some trainers post lookouts with mobile phones at the gates to their property to provide advance warning about raids by investigators. Other staff are used to delay and stall investigators and prevent them gaining immediate access to the property under surveillance.

Some trainers employed less visible but more sophisticated methods such as establishing two sets of medical and treatment records for the animals in their care to hide illicit actions.

Bernard Saundry, the new chief executive of Racing Victoria, made it clear last week when he took over the reins that his priority was to clean up the sport – both trainers who cheat and jockeys who bet, such as now disgraced champion Damien Oliver, banished for eight months following his admission of a gambling offence.

When questioned on Monday about the creativity of those trying to beat the system, Saundry said that such evidence only showed the scale of the challenge the Integrity Services Department team faced in trying to nail offenders.

“It’s not rife to our knowledge, but it does happen. I don’t think it [such concerted efforts to fool the integrity services operation] is deeply embedded in our racing culture but it does go on. People use all sorts of strategies to try to manipulate the system, and we are determined to stamp it out.

“The stewards and the integrity department will do whatever they need to do, but you have to remember we are also battling with human nature. Some people go to extraordinary lengths to achieve what they want,” Saundry said.

“Its not just in racing. Look at other sports, look at the business world, where people break the law, look at how individuals operate at the margins with their tax or try to avoid it completely. Nothing is surprising in human nature, but we are determined to make sure those who break the rules get caught.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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RISE Social Spy

Vanessa Langley and Cameron Allan, both of Hamilton, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop. Stella Serghis, of Valentine, Amanda Ryan, of Cooks Hill, and Bree Warner, of Floraville, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.
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David Hutchison and Alyssia Harcombe, of Belmont, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Lloyd Vitu and Ammon Arvidson, both of Merewether, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Glen Peterkin, of East Maitland, Amanda Nash, of Kotara, Jason Dunlop, of Hamilton, and Barrett Campbell, of Wallsend, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Samuel Arnott, of Merewether, Nick Carter, of Broadmeadow, and Mark O’Connor, of Wallsend, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Peter Lawrence and Scott Odgers, both of Rankin Park, and Sungmo Ahn, of The Junction, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Nicole Connell, of Tighes Hill, Jess Keeton, of Fern Bay, Kate Morgan, of Merewether, Chrissy Seward, of Charlestown, and Anna James, of Maitland, at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Carly McCorriston, of Adamstown, David Woods, of Georgetown, and Liz Goodwin, of Eleebana at the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Jonathan Carroll.

Sarah Hill, of Tingira Heights, and Natalie Saul, of Hamilton, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Pat Tynan and Annie Green, of Stockton, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Normy Dorrell, of NXFM, Helen Havryliv, and Heath Piper, of NXFM, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Natalie and Peter Wong, of Port Stephens, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Naula Collins and Sonny Lee, of Sydney, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Andrew and Melissa Yapp, of Charlestown, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Ashleigh Constance and Blake Stanley, of James Squire-Lion, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Lauren Devine and Vicki Sproule, of Waratah, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Lara Welham and Brad Cranfield, of East Maitland, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Stephanie and Pierre Noe with Kimberley Ostle, all of Newcastle, at The Squire’s Maiden launch. Photo: Peter Stoop.

CONDA Award recipient for Outstanding Achievement in Newcastle, Carl Young, with his partner Giverny Lewis, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

April Maguire and Belinda Hodgson, both of Newcastle, and Tina Cornac, of Sydney, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Lily Christie, of Rathmines, and her mum Karen Christie, of Charlestown, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Phoebe Clark, of Maryland, and Claudia King, of Merewether, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Richard Murray, Rosemary Dartnell, Vivien Jones and David Murray, all of the Newcastle Theatre Company, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Sam Christie, of Charlestown, and Laura Clarke, of Hamilton, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Sam De Lyall, of Cardiff Heights, and Sarah Gordon, of The Junction, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Tegan Gow with her mum Vicki Gow, both Maitland, at the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA). Photo: Peter Stoop.

Our photographers were out and about last week at The Squire’s Maiden launch, the 2012 City of Newcastle Drama Awards (CONDA) and the Hunter Chartered Accountants’ graduation ceremony and Christmas drinks. See if you were snapped!

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Thirst for pre-drinks linked to violent nightlife

A CULTURE of downing alcohol before going out is significantly contributing to violence and harm in pubs and clubs, Australia’s largest study into alcohol-related nightlife crime has found.
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And the most effective way to deal with it is to increase the price of alcohol by introducing a levy on packaged drinks, Peter Miller, a Deakin University researcher and author of the study, says.

“We spent a lot of time trying to think of other ways to deal with pre-drinking and simply couldn’t,” Associate Professor Miller, from the School of Psychology, said.

“There are many people drinking immediately before approaching the door of venues, either around the corner from the pub, in their cars or in their homes, and it is so difficult for venues to detect that unless someone is very obviously intoxicated when they arrive.”

Professor Miller said interviews with more than 4000 patrons revealed those who drank before going out more frequently reported also being involved in alcohol-related violence and harm.

“The relationship was strong,’’ he said.

“We didn’t differentiate between those who initiated the violence and those who were victims of it, but we often found that it took two to tango.”

People who drank between one and five standard drinks before going to a venue were twice as likely to experience harm than those who didn’t drink beforehand, while those who reported drinking 25 or more standard drinks prior to going out were 4.5 times more likely to be involved in violence.

The other measure the study found to be most effective in reducing alcohol-related violence was restricting trading hours across all venues rather than imposing lockouts.

The study, titled Dealing with Alcohol-related Harm and the Night-time Economy, compared the effectiveness of alcohol-related crime prevention measures put in place between 2005 and 2010 through licensing regulation in Newcastle and voluntary programs run in Geelong.

Interventions analysed included locking patrons out of clubs after 1.30am; closing clubs by 3.30am; banning alcohol shots after 10pm; limiting the number of drinks being served (as mandated by licence conditions in Newcastle) and the introduction of ID scanners; improved communication between venues and police and education campaigns (voluntary in Geelong).

Researchers also did a comprehensive review of police and hospital data.

“We found that the number of assaults in Newcastle dropped significantly during the study period while the interventions in Geelong had no impact,” Professor Miller said.

“The measures implemented in Geelong were voluntary and were not focused on alcohol consumption, they were more focused on reducing violent crime after people were already drunk which is far too late.”

Precincts plagued by drunken violence, such as Sydney’s Kings Cross, could learn important lessons from the survey, Professor Miller said.

“They should not rely on lockouts, which substantially affected the smaller bars by making them close earlier, but they are the venues we want to be flourishing.

“Lockouts benefit bigger venues because you’re forcing patrons to choose a bar that stays open until 5am and stay there drinking all night, getting more and more drunk.

“Instead we need mandatory closing hours that apply to all venues across the board.”

It was now up to governments to resist alcohol industry influence and implement those strategies proven by the survey to work, he said.

“I’m not confident they will do that, but I’m hopeful,” he said.

“We managed to beat the tobacco industry, even if that took about 40 years.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Qantas warns customers over email scam

A screenshot of one of the fake Qantas emails.Qantas is the latest airline to be targeted by email scammers. It is warning customers that fake Qantas “seat selection” emails are circulating.
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The airline advised via its Twitter and Facebook accounts that the emails did not come from Qantas and should be deleted immediately.

The emails claim to be a “seat selection fee receipt”, informing the recipient they have been charged an exorbitant fee, into the hundreds of dollars, for choosing a seat on a flight.

The emails feature the Qantas logo and link to the Qantas website. But they contain an attachment likely to contain a virus or other harmful software, such as spyware.

The attachment, called “Qantas Airways confirmation”, features an unusual “.pdf.zip” file extension, marking it as suspicious.

A Qantas spokeswoman said other telltale signs that the email was fake included that it had no addressee, saying only “Dear” with no name included. Nor did it include a booking reference number or any itinerary details.

“We are aware some customers have received a fake email claiming to be a seat selection fee receipt. These emails are not from Qantas. We advise you not to open any attachment in those emails as they may contain a virus,” the airline said on Facebook.

Qantas advised passengers with travel plans to visit qantas上海夜网m.au and go to “manage your booking” to check their flight details.

The latest scam comes after Jetstar was recently also hit by fake emails sent out under the subject line “Jetstar flight itinerary”.

Other airlines, including Delta and American, have been targeted by similar scams.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Get yourself the full rate cut

About $10 a month and $120 a year doesn’t seem much to miss out on. It hurts a little more when you realise that’s $2811 over the life of a 25-year, $300,000 home loan, and a further $2400 if you’d stuck with the higher payments you’re used to making.
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But it’s downright painful to consider that’s the result of the big banks hoarding just 0.05 points of one interest rate cut. Over the past five years, they’ve withheld a third of all official cuts and added a bit extra on to hikes for good measure.

As debate once again rages about whether the clawback is justified – the Reserve Bank and Treasurer Wayne Swan say no; banks and the federal opposition say yes – you can actually put a stop to this. There are five ways to secure the rate cut you deserve.

1. Apply for what they deliver. First, while a rate cut will be automatically passed through to your loan – when, eventually, it kicks in (ING Directs’ full 25 basis point cut, for example, doesn’t begin until Christmas Eve) – you need to apply if you want your direct-debit repayment reduced.

This is to the banks’ credit as it means, all of a sudden, you are overpaying, which will save you significant interest in the long run. If you hold a $300,000 loan on the likely new big bank average variable rate, 6.42 per cent, that’s an additional saving of $16,613, and you’ll be debt free more than a year early.

But if instead you want the monthly cash in hand, you’ll have to put up your hand.

2. Ask for the full whack.

OK, they may well laugh, but the sound will die in their throats if you reveal you know about the generous discounts they offer to select customers.

The fact is big-bank headline rates are no more than a starting point. You have bargaining power if you have a good credit history and/or are a long-standing customer, and your borrowings amount to more than, say, $250,000. Authorised discounts could be as high as a full percentage point, which puts big-bank rates much closer to the most competitive in the market.

Those lenders that appear at the top of interest-rate league tables, often non-banks, will have far less wriggle room.

3. Threaten to leave. Be prepared to lend weight to your request by making a genuine threat to leave.

Banks know that the ban on exit fees on loans taken out since July 1, 2011, and the requirement that those on older loans are fair and reflect only the revenue loss to the bank, give you mortgage mobility like never before. And your lender knows it.

What’s more, many rival institutions will happily waive any set-up fees to get your business across.

But you may not even have to bother. This could well be the bargaining chip that secures you a much better rate exactly where you are, with not a jot of extra effort.

4. Actually switch. If your lender doesn’t acquiesce, no matter – you should garner an even bigger discount by ditching and switching.

Remember, whatever individual lenders do with their rates each time, the gap between the big banks’ average variable rate and the best rates on the market has stayed at about 1 percentage point for years now – that’s not one but four rate cuts.

(Just be aware there are no assurances the cheapest lenders will maintain that margin, and funding difficulties may see them pass on less. Make sure the initial pricing is worth it.)

At current rates, improving your deal by this much on the big-bank average represents a saving of almost $52,000 on our $300,000 loan.

That’s about an annual wage. Do you think that justifies the bit of paperwork involved?

5. Save even more money. If you’re holding money in a savings account of some kind when you still have a mortgage, stop. You’ll struggle to get up to 5 per cent on deposit today – and from that you’ll lose interest. Put the money against your mortgage, however, and you’ll effectively earn 5.5 per cent or more, tax-free.

So the difference is much more than two rate cuts; there is simply no decision.

The smartest thing to do is not to put your money actually inside the mortgage but to house it alongside it in a linked offset account. The interest saving should be identical but you will retain full, free access. You can also get multiple offsets that allow you to keep your savings, holiday, car, etc., separate.

Don’t be at the mercy of the banks self-serving interest rate re-pricing, serve yourself an interest rate reprieve.

Nicole is editor-at-large of afrsmartinvestor上海夜网m. Follow her on Twitter: @NicolePedMcK.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Colour eclipses neutral palette of old

We are open to colour in summer: holidays, longer days, outdoor living and catching up with family and friends flood our senses with new and retro colours. Interior design recreates these sensations, and paint is the perfect tool.
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Each season brings new colours. For Dulux, the new colours redefine the old, says colour and communications consultant Bree Leech. “Every year we go overseas and research the global trends. When we come back we develop six new palettes.”

One new Dulux colour is Species, a crisp, bright yellow. The yellow is one of the 15 colours on the predominantly blue Empower palette. Traditionally, the blue/yellow combination triggers feelings of sun, sea and surf. Leech says the Empower blue/yellow palette represents a change in the way we perceive colour.

“The colours are a little bit more sophisticated, so the yellows are bordering on green, the blues are starting to move into green. We’re seeing layering of blues in interiors this year.”

Resene Paints spokeswoman Karen Warman says the company has noticed a more thoughtful approach to colour: “Colour trends are now evolving and growing more organically rather than the shorter, sharper bursts of trends from last decade.”

Leech is impressed by the innovation of Australia’s decorators. “Over the last five years we’ve seen Australians grow really confident in using colour. We started with very neutral spaces, and people still are a little conservative, but you can definitely see a change in bringing colour into their spaces.”

Leech is not just talking about the four walls. She nominates painting a timber dining setting as a great way to add colour. “Paint the chairs a really bright, bold colour – or maybe two or three of the chairs different colours.” Doors, too, can be highlighted in a shade “two or three shades darker than the walls”.

For a big impact, paint doors opening onto a long white hallway a bright colour so they appear “as pops of colour”. In a room with a monochromatic colour scheme, paint the darkest shade on the ceiling. Or, says Leech: “Striped ceilings look amazing: in a child’s room, mask out wide stripes, say yellow, with white for the remaining stripes and walls.”

Choice can be a decorator’s biggest problem. Interior designer Judy Duggan says paint companies have thousands of colours and can create anything with computer matching.

The trick to navigating this choice often lies in the personal. Duggan asks her clients three questions: “How do you want the room to feel? How do you want to feel when you’re in the room?” And – thinking about the furniture and keepsakes the client owns – she asks: “What pieces do you love?” The colours in those treasures will often be favourites, colours that create a stunning impression. And one of the key rules to remember, according to Duggan: ”There are no rules”.Going DIY

Preparation:

There are no short cuts – fill cracks, sand and clean surfaces.

Equipment:

The best paint you can afford, drop sheets, brushes, rollers and frames, extension pole, rags and masking tape.

Application:

Three coats. One undercoat/primer, tinted if necessary, two top coats.

Technique:

Practise brushing, rolling and cutting in. Learn how to work in sections.

Remember:

A gloss paint will probably look a shade or two lighter because it’s reflecting the light. A flat paint – matte – will absorb light and look a bit darker to the eye.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Bright ideas for a room to call their own

A vintage-themed child’s space by interior stylist Jacinda Malloy. Old suitcases are given new life storing children’s toys.
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A child’s bedroom is not just their escape hatch from the world, but their own personal place. Designing a room should take into account the child’s personality and their favourite colours, says interior designer Salli Sheedy, from Tiipii Interiors.

”From around four years old, children start to have their own opinion. They have a favourite colour or favourite movie, and I incorporate that into the design.”

Sheedy works with a neutral base and introduces colours with accessories. ”Greys are fashionable. But it’s important to get the right grey. A warm grey can easily incorporate other colours.”

But sometimes children have different ideas. Interior designer Jacinda Malloy, from Hide & Sleep, spoke with one nine-year-old who wanted red walls. His mother wasn’t so enthusiastic. ”It’s the child’s room and they need to enjoy playing in the room, so we incorporated red without having to paint all the walls red.”

Colours and themes can be introduced, and easily replaced, with accessories such as cushions and rugs. Children might want pirates one year, dinosaurs the next.

Changing cushion covers and rugs is a lot easier than changing the wallpaper or painting another mural. Removable wall stickers are another easy interchangeable decor idea, and they don’t damage the paintwork.

But don’t be afraid to use colour, says interior designer Nicole Rosenberg, from Little Liberty. ”It brings happiness into the room and makes it fun.”

Her eldest daughter’s room has pops of yellow. ”My daughter is obsessed with fluoro, and so am I. The fluoro trend is a massive trend, and it’s fun.” Her three-year old son has a navy, red and black vintage-styled room with an industrial feel. ”It suits his personality.”

Malloy likes to design a play area in the room. Depending on the child’s likes and interests, she simply adds an easel to turn a corner into an arts and crafts section, or adds some hooks to the wall to hang musical instruments.

Parents want attractive storage solutions, says Stephanie Banis, stylist at Fantastic Furniture, which has some fun storage cubes in bright colours.

”Children like to collect things and display them, but the trick is to work out what to display and what to put away,” says Rosenberg, who uses open boxes to display items and closed boxes to conceal.

”Have a place for everything and everything in its place. Make a specific spot for items. This way they have more of a chance of being put back. Use hooks for bags, hooks for headphones, a wall-mounted pouch for slippers, desk accessories, etc.”

Joanne McWhinney, director of Kids In Designed Spaces, says room design is now much more eclectic with a child’s interests reflected in novel artwork, interesting wall graphics, (or) displayed collections.

”Parents are becoming more style conscious. Children’s bedrooms are also being decorated to match the style of the rest of the home,” she says.

But a child’s bedroom is their world and they might want it to be different to the rest of the home. Help your child design the room, and remember to let the fun in!Nursery 101

It’s fun to plan a baby’s nursery, but keep it simple, say the experts. The nursery should be a calm, quiet place for babies to sleep.

Parents are moving away from the traditional pink and blue nurseries, says Salli Sheedy, interior designer and director of Tiipii Interiors. She is in the middle of designing a grey and yellow nursery.

”A nursery with warm grey on walls with splashes of warm yellow colour looks lovely. Yellow is neutral, which makes it a good choice.”

Jessica Elmer, director of Kids Interior Designs, says brighter, stronger colours are coming through in nurseries, but not fluoros as they are too bright. ”Dark fuchsia and aqua are strong colours that look good.”

Wall decorations are popular and removable wall stickers in a range of designs, from magic trees to elephants, are widely available. ”Monochromatic subtle designs are popular, [as are] butterflies and tree silhouettes,” says Sheedy.

Storage is an important element in a nursery. You need a place for nappies, blankets, clothes and toys.

There is a move towards the vintage look, says Sheedy. ”Parents are looking to vintage for character. They are looking to the past for inspiration. A lot of people are doing handcrafted mobiles.”

Sheedy likes using old suitcases as storage for babies’ toys, and old, cast-iron cots repainted a bright colour to create a fresh look.

Another practical nursery favourite of Elmer’s is a chest of drawers with a nappy change station on top. And last but not least: a comfy armchair is important for night feeds.Top tips

1. Assess the space

In a small space, keep it simple in terms of colour and items.

2. Proportion

Get the furniture proportions right.

3. Stick to a colour theme

The room looks calm and co-ordinated.

4. Storage boxes

Consider sturdy boxes with chalkboards on the front so children can label what’s in the box.

5. Keep bed linen simple

Steer away from busy bedding with butterflies, bows, hearts or pirate ships stamped all over it.

6. Lighting

Consider pendant lights, which can alter the feel of a room.

 

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Holiday secrets of the stars

Jessica Rowe, pictured with her girls, remembers “hot, endless days at the beach, mangoes, fruit cake, banana Paddle Pops…” Dr Katrina Warren, pictured with her daughter, says planning is crucial during the holidays. “I need to have activities and play dates organised in advance or I go crazy.”
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Anyone who has navigated a dark patch of the highway with one hand on the wheel and the other trying to settle screaming twins in baby capsules, while a nine-year-old’s vomiting, will understand the pain of school holidays and the apprehension they bring.

If you already have a knot in your stomach about how you are going to handle the next six weeks of school holiday hell between juggling work commitments, rainy days, the inevitable lurgies, trips to sit on Santa Claus’s lap and screaming kids grappling sand-laden sandwiches, don’t fret: celebrities face the same challenges.

Here are some tips from our favourite stars on just how they cope with the season to be jolly. Enjoy.

(PS: I love Merrick Watts’s ”exhaust them till they drop” scheme, Katrina Warren’s whiteboard idea and Jessica Rowe’s beach with direct access to a caffeine injection. Brilliant.)

MERRICK WATTS

Radio announcer, Triple M’s Merrick & the Highway Patrol

Kids: Wolfe, 3, Kinga Rose, 11 months

My favourite holiday as a kid

I loved going to Broken Hill, where my mum is from – it’s in the middle of nowhere. I loved to go there as a kid because at any time of the year it was always hot. I remember the local pool – my brother, myself and cousins used to go swimming every day in the heat. It was the greatest place on earth as a kid. It was very simple. The thing I’ve realised is the simple things are the easiest and the best.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Family, grandparents, swimming and heat. Also great memories of riding motorbikes with cousins. My uncle was an engineer and my cousin is a mechanic, and they were both very handy and we’d build go-karts and race the go-karts and motorbikes around.

Where I love to take my family now

[Wife] Georgie and I go to Adelaide in summer. We got married there and all of my mum’s family moved to Adelaide, and I’m very close with my cousins. The beaches and everything are really, really nice, it’s very casual and down-to-earth and a nice little break from showbiz. I spent so much time in a small town as a kid I’ve always liked that outback feeling.

Favourite car-travel game

When we used to drive to Broken Hill from Melbourne [where I grew up], dad would only stop long enough for fuel, a wee and hot chips in the whole nine hours so my favourite game was to sit behind my father and delicately single out one hair from the back of his head and pluck it and see if I could get away with it. I felt like a legend if I did, but it was risky and dangerous. My own kids are far better behaved. Wolfe is really good and entertains himself with a car or a motorbike or plane in his hand. My favourite game now is ”Shhhhh … dad is driving!”

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

I like to go to the Sydney Aquatic Centre at Homebush, which has lots of slides and activities and stuff like that, so they still get to play even though it’s raining.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

We take them down to Darling Harbour, either the Sydney Aquarium or Wildlife Park there, and then get Chinese food in Chinatown afterwards. There’s a little train Wolfe loves.

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

My mum had two pieces of advice: one, cherish every second you have with the kids as they grow up so fast, and, two, don’t end up like your father!

How I stay sane during the holidays

The way to keep sane when I have downtime with the kids is to not try and get the kids to fit into my schedule but just try and do whatever the kids want to do on the day. If they’re happy, you’ll be happy. If they’re unhappy, you’ll be unhappy.

My school holiday secret

I used to take my grandfather to Big W as a decoy so I could steal chocolates. Oh, you didn’t mean that type of secret!

Tips to survive the holidays

Do something that makes them tired, something physical. Burn them out in the mornings, then in the afternoon and evenings you have quiet kids.

JESSICA ROWE

Author and journalist

Kids: Allegra, 5, and Giselle, 3

My favourite holiday as a kid

On the NSW south coast in a ramshackle beach house.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Hot, endless days at the beach, mangoes, fruit cake, banana Paddle Pops, lolling around on the verandah once the heat was too much, and reading … and daydreaming about the year ahead.

Where I love to take my family now

Anywhere with a beach, rock pool and close enough to the sand that you don’t need to drive anywhere once you arrive. We just had a very special family holiday in Fiji – it was blissful! We ALL relaxed!

Favourite car travel game

When I was little, I Spy. Now, a portable DVD with plenty of Disney princesses and Barbie DVDs on hand.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

I love the Australian Museum in the city. It has a fab area for smaller children, who can dress up, draw, read and play. And there’s also the exhibits for bigger kids who can get involved. The volunteers are also terrific – explaining different types of animals and their habitats. Just avoid the shop, if you want to avoid tantrums, as they want everything in sight!

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

If it’s sunny, Parsley Bay. There is a great shaded playground area, plenty of grass for picnics, sand that’s good for building castles and tunnels, plus shallow water good for splashing. Oh, and a coffee house that provides a much-needed caffeine fix.

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

Lower your expectations – take the pressure off! We’re all doing the best we can, and there are days when it goes pear-shaped.

How I stay sane during the holidays

Sometimes I don’t! But caffeine, sunshine and sugar help.

My school holiday secret

Can you tell me? But I do love slowing down, and I make a real effort to do that with my girls over the holidays. There is no need to rush around.

Tips to survive the holidays

Don’t feel you have to tear around doing the latest and greatest stuff. Have a picnic, stay up late, try to stay in bed longer, eat fish and chips for dinner, have cake for breakfast, do a movie afternoon with popcorn. Revel in the joy of those simple pleasures with the most precious people in your lives.

CAMERON DADDO

Actor and radio announcer, Smoothfm

Kids: Lotus, 16, River, 12, and Bodhi, 6

My favourite holiday as a kid

September holidays in Yamba [on the NSW north coast]. Three weeks of nothing but surfing, fishing and playing pinball machines. It was blissful.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

The car trips to the destination. Seven Daddos packed in a sedan: Mum, dad in front, with Lachie in the middle (he sat on a piece of foam rubber – the car had bucket seats), Andrew, Jamie, Belinda and I in the back … one sat forward, the other three sat back. We listened to Neil Diamond, The Brady Bunch albums and whatever game was being played on the good ol’ ABC.

Where I love to take my family now

Anywhere there’s surf, fishing and pinball machines. Hawaii is always great.

Favourite car travel game

I Spy.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Surfing.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Palm Beach and any other beach ”north of the bends” … hiking trails, beach and great eateries.

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

Always say what you want, rather than what you don’t want – the word doesn’t compute in our brains. Try this: find something you don’t want your child, your best friend or mother to look at, then tell them not to look at it. I guarantee you, they will look at it within a minute.

How I stay sane during the holidays

Build things. Last holidays, we created a rope course in this big tree in the backyard. I had a harness and pulley system; I could pull the kids up into tree. When one of them misbehaved, I put her in the harness, pulled up, and left her hanging for a while. The others got the idea.

My school holiday secret

If you have a partner, it’s good to divide the time with the kids into quarters: my time, her time, our time, their time …

Tips to survive the holidays

When the kids say ”I’m bored”, we say ”Great, go do something!”

DR KATRINA WARREN

Media vet

Daughter: Charlotte, 5

My favourite holiday as a kid

I loved going to the Gold Coast, as there was lots of swimming, plenty of fun activities and great ice-cream.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Doing puzzles in the back of the car – there were no iPads or portable DVD players then. The Rubik’s Cube kept me entertained for hours.

Where I love to take my family now

South coast, NSW. The most amazing beaches and many of the areas are dog friendly, which means that my golden retriever, Riley, doesn’t miss out.

Favourite car travel game

I can’t go past I Spy – it will survive every generation.

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Going to the Entertainment Quarter for movies, bowling and plaster painting.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Nielsen Park – it has a great

beach for young kids, a cafe and plenty of space for them to run around, but you must get there early on weekends for parking.

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

Not to listen to parenting advice!

How I stay sane during the holidays

I avoid shopping centres. Car park gridlock is not enjoyable! And caffeine.

My school holiday secret

I don’t have any yet, as my daughter starts school next year. Suggestions are welcome.

Tips to survive the holidays

Plan ahead. I need to have activities and play dates organised in advance or I go crazy. I have a whiteboard with activities listed and my daughter enjoys ticking them off.

MARK BERETTA

Sports presenter, Sunrise

Kids: Ava, 8, and Dan, 5

My favourite holiday as a kid

My favourite holiday as a kid was Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Every September, we’d load the family car and drive overnight from Geelong in Victoria all the way to Queensland to spend two weeks in the sun at the beach. We had a bunch of friends we would meet up there every year and we’d swim, play beach cricket and hang out at the beach all day.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

For me, holidays were all about swimming in the surf, digging in the sand and ice-cream in the afternoon.

Where I love to take my family now

These days I love taking my wife, Rach, and Ava and Dan to Torquay in Victoria. It’s got that beautiful seaside town atmosphere and the kids hit the waves on their boogie boards all day.

Favourite car travel game

On long road trips, the Beretta family loves a game of I Spy. It keeps the kids (and me) entertained for hours!

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

On a rainy day, nothing beats the Sydney Aquarium. We always look forward to going there and seeing all the amazing sea life. Sharks, dugongs, giant rays and a great interactive area – it’s got it all.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

My favourite spot in Sydney to take the kids is Freshwater Beach. It’s a great beach for the whole family, and the kids can spend all day in the surf!

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

The most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard is to let kids be kids. They grow up fast enough, so let them do things at their own pace and when they’re ready.

How I stay sane during the holidays

I stay sane during the holidays by just rolling with it. You need to remember you’re on holidays and you can’t stress about the little things. Take your time, there’s no rush, and just enjoy your precious family time.

My school holiday secret

Plan special outings and events. We all like having something to look forward to, so the kids like knowing that they’re going to the zoo on Wednesday, or the aquarium on Thursday.

Tips to survive the holidays

Switch off from work and focus on the family. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but it makes for a much better holiday!

CHRIS BATH

Seven News presenter, Sunday Night host

Son: Darcy, 12

My favourite holiday as a kid

Two weeks every summer at Blue Bay on the NSW central coast. We’d walk along the beach to the Dragon Inn at The Entrance for Chinese, then enjoy the laughing clowns and the go-karts at the holiday carnival in town. We’d surf until we had rashes from our polystyrene boards, clamber over the rocks looking for shells and lie on the beach reading all the books that Santa brought us for Christmas.

My enduring memory of holidays growing up

Summer at Blue Bay and camping all over NSW, including the Belanglo State Forest, with mum and dad and their friends in the 1980s. Our families had a special improvised ”flagpole” that they’d erect at every campsite with a special camp flag that my mum made.

Where I love to take my family now

We go back to Blue Bay with friends for summer holidays – it’s a wonderful place for families. But now, thanks to my son’s obsession with our feathered friends in the sky, we now spend every day off, anywhere, birdwatching! It has taken us to some amazing places.

Favourite car travel game

Working our way through the alphabet, naming things we see for each letter. It can go for hours, so it’s great for long trips!

Best Sydney-based activity for a rainy day

Curling up and reading a good book on the couch. Birdwatching off the cliff at Maroubra – the more windy and rainy, the more albatross you see! But if you want to get out of the elements, you can’t go past the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of NSW. Wonder awaits on every floor.

Favourite spot to take the kids in Sydney

Tramping through our wonderful national parks.

Most valuable parenting advice I’ve heard

Put ping-pong balls in the loo for little boys to aim at when toilet training. Saved my bathroom a thousand times over!

How I stay sane during the holidays

I don’t. Give in to the insanity and enjoy it.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Investors cheer Fortescue’s stake sale

Fortescue Metals Group is set to sell down its stake in a joint venture with Pilbara junior BC Iron, as the company continues efforts to reduce its debt loading and restart the expansion projects that were sensationally stalled in September.
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Both companies currently own 50 per cent of the Nullagine iron ore project under a landmark deal that was struck in 2009, but BC Iron has confirmed today that it is poised to buy a further 25 per cent of Fortescue’s stake.

BC Iron shares have been halted all day ahead of the deal being announced. Fortescue shares were not halted this morning, and duly rose by almost 7 per cent to be testing $4.05 around 2pm.

Fortescue’s decision to leave its shares open for trading has already attracted the attention of the ASX regulators, with Fortescue arguing that it is too big a company for the transaction to be considered material.

Under the terms of the deal, BC Iron will pay Fortescue $190 million for the extra 25 per cent of the asset.

The acquisition will increase its annual iron ore export capacity by 80 per cent to 4.5 million tonnes.

Speaking from Sydney this afternoon, BC Iron managing director Mike Young said the deal would be highly accretive to BC Iron shareholders and was about as low risk as an acquisition could get.

“We know the deposit, we know the management and we like the management,” he said.

The original joint venture was struck in August 2009, and saw BC Iron sell 50 per cent of its Nullagine iron ore prospect to Fortescue, in return for using Fortescue’s railway and port infrastructure to sell its product to China.

BC Iron managing director Mike Young was criticised at the time for giving away too much to his bigger neighbour, and has long defended the deal by saying it was ”better to have half of something, rather than all of nothing”.

The deal has since proved to be a masterstroke as a lack of transport infrastructure has left other Pilbara juniors with stranded assets that are unlikely to be developed now that iron ore prices have slumped.

Mr Young joked this afternoon that he would have to update his catchphrase.

”Now i’ve got 75 per cent of something,” he said.

BC Iron has been exporting iron ore since February 2011, and has since exported 5 million tonnes.

The company is one of the few, if not the only Australian iron ore exporter to have a higher share price today than at the same time in 2011.

It paid a dividend in September and Mr Young said today’s deal was likely to be followed by more growth.

BC Iron will take on $130 million in debt to fund the deal, and will look to raise a further $58 million in equity through a share placement and purchase deal which is underwritted by Macquarie.

As well as looking at assets overseas, Mr Young said BC Iron would look to develop other Pilbara assets with Fortescue.

”We are hoping that, going forward, we can do some more business with Fortescue,” he said.

Fortescue boss Nev Power said the deal was good for both parties, but did not say what the money will be used for.

It is expected the money will help Fortescue restart the Kings iron ore asset it halted in September when iron ore prices slumped.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Tax Office moves to wind up Tinkler entity

The Tax Office will seek to wind up one of former billionaire Nathan Tinkler’s main private entitites, Tinkler Group Holdings Administration.
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In the NSW Supreme Court today, lawyers for Mr Tinkler and the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation confirmed the tax office would replace the NSW Office of State Revenue as petitioning creditor in the wind-up proceedings. The extent of the debt is unknown.

The case is one of half a dozen legal proceedings on foot against various private Tinkler entitites:Ferrier Hodgson is winding up Tinkler-owned Mulsanne Resources over an unpaid $28.4 million debt to Blackwood Corporation.Adelaide-based Anthony Matthews and Associates is balancing whether to proceed with the wind-up of Patinack Farm Administration – the main employer at Mr Tinkler’s thoroughbred stud – which also owes millions to the tax office but went into liquidation after a $17,000 debt to South Australia’s Workcover agency went unpaid, apparently due to an ‘‘administrative error’’.Queen Street Capital and Aston Copper are facing a wind-up by Brisbane-based HWL Ebsworth Lawyers for an unknown amount of money.Lender GE Capital has appointed Taylor Woodings as receivers of TGHA Aviation, who last week repossessed his private jet and helicopter.Mr Tinkler has been subponaed in Muswellbrook Local Court by Kildangan Stud (owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum) which sired two of his mares.Hunter Sports Group is being sued by the NSW government for almost $600,000 in stadium rent owing from its Newcastle Knights rugby league team. Hunter Sports is also in down-to-the wire negotiations with the Knights to extend an audit deadline which falls this Saturday. The Knights want to also extend the $20 million bank guarantee which the company provided when the club was privatised. If the negotiations fail it could jeopardise Hunter Sports’ ownership of the club.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Judd takes a back seat as Carlton embraces new era

Chris Judd’s time as an AFL captain has come to an end.HAVING stood down as captain, Chris Judd has revealed the Blues have adopted a more cautious approach to training under new coach Mick Malthouse.
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Judd, 29, has ended months of speculation by confirming his five years in the top role are over, with him preferring to focus more on his own performance without the added off-field commitments.

The Blues have only recently returned to training at Visy Park after their high-altitude camp in Arizona. Judd noted there was a greater focus on avoiding injuries after a year in which physical setbacks took their toll on the club.

Judd said he and his teammates had embraced Malthouse’s training regime. ”They have taken to the work, training has changed up quite a lot, and so far, so good. We have a lot of numbers on the park,” he said.

The 239-game veteran required shoulder surgery over Christmas last year although former coach Brett Ratten said at the time it was unclear whether Judd had been hurt at training. Ratten also said he had taken a cautious approach with the teams ”A-graders”.

Judd said on Monday that there had been a change in terms of how teammates dealt with each other.

”There has been a really big focus on certainly minimising injuries at training, which is something that we suffered quite a lot in the last couple of years,” he said. ”To see those numbers out on the park is great. I think that will hold us in great stead at the start of the season.”

Judd became captain after joining the Blues from West Coast in late 2007 and said the time was right for change, he having helped to transform a list he felt was ”probably a pretty unprofessional playing group that lacked discipline”.

His future as skipper had been questioned since Malthouse replaced Brett Ratten, with the new coach making it clear even in his 2012 season preview when working as a media commentator that he thought there was too much focus on the dual Brownlow medallist.

There were other instances through the season when he suggested it would be best if Judd was not captain. Judd’s manager, Paul Connors, said the decision had been the player’s alone.

While Judd will continue to lead by example he will not have a role in the leadership group. ”I decided some time ago to step away from a leadership role at the footy club,” Judd said.

”I have been in the leadership group all but my first year of footy, so I have had 10 years in there. I think at my stage of the career I am looking forward to getting back to enjoying the essence of footy and competing and probably not having as much responsibility around the club.

”So, I won’t be pushing any less hard to bring success to this club and will still have an active role around the place.”

Marc Murphy, praised for his leadership last season when Judd was suspended, and fellow onballers Andrew Carrazzo and Kade Simpson are the front-runners to replace the skipper.

The Blues are unlikely to name a replacement until February.

”I guess one of the things as a leader is you want to leave the place in a better place than what you inherited it in,” Judd said. ”Without any disrespect to what things were like five years ago, there weren’t a whole host of players who made obvious leaders as far as that went.

”To be able to step aside from the role and have probably three guys that could step in to the role as captain and do a really good job, and even to mention some of the guys that probably won’t be in the leadership group this year, I think it shows our leadership stocks have come a long way.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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DJs break their silence

RELATED:Austereo reply to hospital rebuke
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2Day FM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian are “pretty shattered people” according to Channel Nine’sA Current Affairhost Tracy Grimshaw who has prerecorded an interview with the pair to go to air tonight.

Grimshaw toldFairfax Mediathis afternoon that the prerecorded interview was “very intense” with a lot of people in the room including radio station staff and supporters.

The pair, who have been facing global condemnation after the death of a British nurse targeted in a prank phone call, broke their silence on Monday afternoon in a pair of interviews with Grimshaw and Seven’s Clare Brady fromToday Tonight.

Grimshaw said she felt sympathy for the pair.

“They’re at a certain point on the food chain. There are other people who made the decision to put it to air, it wasn’t live to air, there was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them,” Ms Grimshaw said.

“So I have some sympathy for them in that regard.”

Grimshaw said she was mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile and the interview was a chance for the hosts to say what they wanted to say.

“What has happened with this poor nurse in England is not going to be helped by bullying these two people into some sort of breakdown. I was very mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile, and very mindful of not becoming part of the problem.

“We talked about the process of the prank call, how it came about, what happens after you record something like that, where are the checks and balances, what is the network’s policy on prank calls, where do you draw the line.

“We talked about their future and we talked about whether prank calls should be banned.”

Immediately after Grimshaw’s interview concluded, Nine’s official Twitter account announced: “First interview with the #2dayfm djs just recorded with @TracyGrimshaw. It’s raw & emotional. The full uncut interview at 6.30 tonight #aca9.”

After the interview, Brady and a crew fromToday Tonightmoved in to the studio, to again give the DJs their chance to speak.

Grimshaw sent a message from her Twitter account saying: “Let me say clearly that our interview with the 2Day FM hosts for tonight’sA Current Affairwas NOT paid for. Neither asked nor offered.”

‘A deeply tragic, unforeseen circumstance’

The boss of 2Day FM said on Monday morning that staff from the station had tried at least five times to contact those involved in the prank call.

The station, along with Christian and Greig, are under fire after nurse Jacintha Saldanha died in an apparent suicide after the call gained worldwide notoriety.

The pair had claimed to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and asked after the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who was in the King Edward VII hospital suffering from an acute form of morning sickness.

Mrs Saldanha put the call through to the London hospital ward of the recovering Duchess of Cambridge.

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of 2Day FM’s parent company Austereo, reiterated on Monday that what had occurred was “a deeply tragic, unforseen circumstance” but that he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast.

“It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions. We rang them up to discuss what we had recorded. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We did want to speak to them about it,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

Later, he said: “The day prior [to Mrs Saldahna’s death], people took it as a harmless prank in good humour.”

Greig and Christian’s program has been suspended and advertising on the station has been suspended until Wednesday. The station has not yet said when, or if, the presenters will return to the airwaves.

All Austereo staff were called to a meeting on Monday at 9am; employees have been gagged from speaking publicly without permission.

Mr Holleran’s comments come as online vigilante group Anonymous is believed to have threatened the broadcaster in light of Mrs Saldanha’s death.

Using a new account on YouTube with the group’s branding, a person wearing a mask similar to that used by Anonymous members said 2Day FM was “directly responsible” for Mrs Saldanha’s death.

The video, uploaded from an account named An-onym Oz, purports to be from Anonymous but contains a spelling error in its opening titles. ‘‘Hello citizens of the world, we are Anonyomous,’’ it reads.

“We have listened to your excuses. We have heard the word ’prank’ a million times,” the person in the video says, in a digitally altered voice.

“We have studied the facts and found you guilty of murder. You have placed yourself in an untenable position. You have placed your advertisers at risk – their databases, their websites, their online advertising.

“We are Anonymous and hereby demand you terminate the contracts of Mel Greig and Michael Christian. We will not listen to any more excuses. We will not let you escape your responsibility. You have a funeral to pay for. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We are amongst you. Expect us. This is not a prank call; this is no laughing matter. This is your one and only chance to make amends. You have one week to do so.”

In Australia, New South Wales police are now helping Scotland Yard with its investigation into Mrs Saldanha’s death.

Mr Holleran said on Monday that he had not spoken to police “at this point in time”.

He said he did not believe any Australian Communications and Media Authority codes governing radio broadcasts had been breached or that the station’s licence was in jeopardy.

He said the company was happy to discuss the issue with any investigators.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

Jacintha Saldanha.

“I’m sure that in the time ahead, there will be questions, and we’re happy to participate in that process, of course we are,” Mr Holleran said.

“We have said we won’t be running that style of call until we do [investigate] … this isn’t a witch-hunt and I don’t intend for it to be that way.

“If it’s appropriate to make changes, we will make changes, make no mistake about that.”

He would not comment on how much the fallout was costing the station financially and rejected suggestions of cultural problems at the station in light of repeated scandals, largely ignited by host Kyle Sandilands.

* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

SMH

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Weaving quits over film festival’s ‘lack of vision’

Canberra’s International Film Festival has lost its Artistic Director with Simon Weaving walking away from the organisation, saying he was unhappy with its strategic direction.
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Mr Weaving, who leaves the festival after four years in the Artistic Director’s job, says he will now set up a screen culture organisation for Canberra that will operate all year round.

Speaking from the NSW south coast on Tuesday, Mr Weaving said that he was proud of the festival’s achievements but he wanted it to be an institution rather than an event and that others in the organisation did not share his vision.

“There are a lot of smaller groups and organisations that are doing stuff on the delivery or the content side of thing so I saw a huge opportunity for the festival organisation to become more than just an event, more than something that happens once a year, that pops and then packs down,” he said

“I felt very strongly that there was an opportunity to establish a more permanent organisation, work with other people and other groups and start delivering programs and engaging with the community all year round.

“For me, the Festival organisation had reached a stage where it was financially sound and the environment was right, but not everyone shared that vision.”

Mr Weaving said he had grown frustrated with the “lack of vision” for the festival.

“All organisations need a strategic plan of where it’s going to be and the organisation has no strategic plan, it just sort of goes from year to year,” he said.

“For me, I’d just become increasingly uncomfortable about the lack of vision.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Selling before auction hots up as year ends

7 Lawson Street, Balmain, now the former home of 2GB radio presenter Chris Smith and his wife Ally. Aloha . . . Stefan Ackerie is too busy with his boats to keep a Sydney pad.
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Sydney artist Nafisa Naomi will be moving on from her Waterloo apartment.

As the market winds down to the end of the year, many agents are stitching up deals on properties before auction. At Zetland, the modern two-storey home of Di Henry, who was general manager of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch Relay, has sold for $985,000 – 10 days before it was scheduled for auction through BHR agents Reece Coleman and Daniel Baran. It’s a good result for the four-bedroom terrace in Hansard Street, which was listed with price hopes of more than $900,000.Brush with fame

A Waterloo apartment, which is the home of artist Nafisa Naomi, has sold for $647,000 – two days before it was to go to auction through Scott Aggett and Matt Bognar of Belle Property Surry Hills. During the marketing campaign three contracts were issued and the agents negotiated with two parties before sealing the deal with a first-home buyer from Bronte. A short walk from Danks Street’s shops, cafes and restaurants, the two-bedroom apartment is in a pet-friendly security building with a swimming pool and gym. Naomi, born in India, and educated in Hong Kong and Sydney, won the 2010 Archibald Packers’ Prize for her portrait of rock historian Glenn A. Baker. In 2003 her portrait of entertainer Maria Venuti was selected for the Archibald Salon des Refuses.Radio presenter’s news

At Balmain, the 2GB radio presenter Chris Smith and his wife Ally sold their home before its auction through Rebecca Fearon and Karl Howard of McGrath Balmain. Although the price of the Lawson Street house is not disclosed, it’s understood to have fetched more than $1.95 million, which is the price guide quoted by the agents during the marketing campaign. Named Woodroffe, the three-bedroom residence stands on a 300 sqm block that is footsteps from vibrant Darling Street. It last sold for $1.4 million in 2003. Chris Smith won a NSW government award for Excellence in Environmental Reporting for an expose on waste dumping.Snip offer from hairdresser

A Woolloomooloo apartment owned by the flamboyant Brisbane hairdressing mogul Stefan Ackerie is expected to sell for more than $800,000 at auction through Nic Krasnostein, a BresicWhitney agent. Earlier this year Queensland-based Ackerie paid $810,000 for the 73 sqm two-bedroom apartment (on the fifth floor of the Finger Wharf complex), which he intended to use when visiting Sydney. But since his foray into leisure-boat retailing with the opening of Stefan Boating World on the Gold Coast in November, Ackerie won’t spend much time in Sydney – so he’s decided to sell the apartment. A champion offshore powerboat racer, Ackerie has been part of the Australian boating scene for more than four decades. During the past 18 months he has been overseeing the development of the Razar Cat, a 4.1 metre boat that combines the best features of a jet-ski and an inflatable boat.No bids, so on the market

A Mosman property owned by Scott Barton, director of Blake Entertainment, is on the market at more than $2.8 million through McGrath Mosman agent John Welch. The Royalist Road residence was passed in at its auction after there were no bids. The four-bedroom house, an investment property of Barton’s, has been renovated since it last traded for $2,125,000 in 2007.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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Raymond’s nut allergy tragedy: system failed boy who died after eating biscuit, inquest told

Nut allergy … Raymond Cho died after eating a walnut biscuit at school.A 16-year-old boy with a nut allergy who died after eating a walnut biscuit at a Sydney school was tragically let down by the NSW education department systems meant to protect him, an inquest has heard.
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Raymond Cho went into anaphylactic shock after he ate the biscuit baked by other students in a cooking class at Ashfield Boys’ High School on May 19, 2011.

He was taken to hospital, but died after he was taken off life support on May 24.

At the Glebe Coroner’s Court on Monday, State Coroner Mary Jerram was told the education department and staff were aware that Raymond suffered from anaphylaxis and asthma.

But other students shared the biscuits they had baked in a cooking class, the inquest heard.

Raymond fell ill later in a maths class and went into anaphylactic shock. He was was treated by the use of two epipens, which are used to quickly inject a dose of adrenaline.

Michael Fordham SC, representing the NSW Department of Education and Communities, read Raymond’s family an apology from the department’s director-general, Michele Bruniges.

“Dr Michele Bruniges … was deeply saddened when she learnt of Raymond’s tragic death. She wishes to unreservedly apologise on her own behalf and on behalf of the many people working in public education for the unimaginable hurt and anguish you and your family have suffered as a result of his loss,” the statement from Dr Bruniges said.

“It was believed prior to Raymond’s death that the department had in place proper systems to keep children with anaphylaxis safe, but this was wrong.

“These systems failed Raymond, the people at the school that day who tried to save him and yourselves.

“It will be small consolation to hear that the department has reviewed its systems and has made a number of significant changes since Raymond’s death.”

Those changes included compulsory training in anaphylaxis and emergency care for all school staff and a requirement that every school run CPR courses on an annual basis.

The department is also continuing to look at how it can improve safety and well-being of students with anaphylaxis.

“The director-general hopes that this inquest helps your family, and other families who have children with anaphylaxis, by identifying where things went wrong, examining what has been done to date in response and considering whether anything further can be done to reduce the chance of another tragedy like Raymond’s death occurring in the future.”

Raymond’s family are at the inquest, holding pictures of the schoolboy.

The inquest, which will look into the school’s policies and the use of epipens, continues.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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