Monthly Archives: December 2018

Survival guide to avoiding Xmas insolvency

The cash collection cycle usually slows down at Christmas.CHRISTMAS is a boon for retailers, but it’s also the time when small businesses are most likely to become insolvent.
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Businesses in sectors such as services or manufacturing suffer a decrease in production and sales, with many shutting down altogether for a couple of weeks. At the same time, they’re still paying wages to staff who are on holiday, as well as other fixed costs, such as rent and loan repayments.

”Generally there’s a slowdown in the cash collection cycle,” says Quentin Olde, partner in charge at accounting practice Taylor Woodings.

”So there’s a general slowing down of the flow of funds through small businesses and at the same time their costs keep coming in.”

The result can be that come February, many businesses don’t have the cash to meet their obligations, so may become insolvent and potentially collapse.

Despite the difficulties, there are several things small businesses can do to improve their cash flow.Make a plan

The first thing to do is a cash flow forecast to see if the business is likely to struggle around Christmas time, says Olde. ”Have a detailed cash flow forecast plan to get you through that period, and where there are going to be shortfalls in that cash flow, look at ways to deal with them.”Talk to the bank

It’s worth approaching the bank about getting a short-term overdraft extension, but the earlier a business does this the more receptive the bank is likely to be. While banks have tightened their lending criteria in recent years, Olde says they could be receptive to such a request. ”They’re comfortable with it so long as they can see the business has thought through and planned for it and that it is just a temporary issue and it’s not the beginning of a longer-term or systemic problem in the business,” he says.Get invoices out

Roger Mendelson, chief executive of Prushka Fast Debt Recovery, says the difficult post-Christmas period is often made worse for consumer-focused businesses because many people load up their credit cards at Christmas, only to be hit with back-to-school expenses in late January.

So businesses need to ensure they get their cash coming in as quickly as they can. The first thing to do is to get their accounts in order and send out invoices in good time before Christmas, says Mr Mendelson. Otherwise they’re likely to be ignored until well into the new year.

Also, try doing interim billing, if possible. For instance, a plumber who’s done some work on a house could bill for the work he’s done up until Christmas.Follow up invoices

Likewise, businesses should follow up invoices that have already been sent out and not paid. ”You need to get really focused on getting on the phone and getting the cash in,” says Mr Mendelson. Try offering a discount to customers who can pay straight away. ”Being on the phone is certainly something a lot of SMEs are not too comfortable with, but it is certainly the best way to get the cash in quickly.”Talk to suppliers

If a business is expecting a cash flow crunch, its owners can try to negotiate with suppliers to hold off paying them until mid or even late February, to buy a bit of breathing space. ”You’ll often find that if you place the order the supplier is very keen to get the order and he’ll be happy with that,” says Mr Mendelson. ”But if you don’t incorporate that provision, you’ll be getting pressure from a source you’d prefer not to …”Use a debt collector

It’s worth engaging a debt collector once a bill is more than 60 days outstanding. ”Most of our clients make a real mistake of sending in debts far too late, and there’s a clear correlation between age of the debt and its collectability,” says Mr Mendelson. ”If a debt is six months old when it comes to us, that customer has really got it out of mind …”What do you think of our MySmallBusiness section? Fill in our survey for the chance to win $1000.

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

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PM cosies up to mummy bloggers

JULIA Gillard will host about 25 ”mummy” and other bloggers who write on the internet for women at Kirribilli House, as she gears up to use gender issues to maximum advantage in the coming election year.
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These sites reach about 2.5 million people. Similar sites were important in US President Barack Obama’s successful appeal to female voters in his re-election campaign this year.

The Monday function follows Ms Gillard’s previous morning tea with mummy bloggers in June, and comes after Labor strategists increasingly have seen gender working for Ms Gillard and against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, especially since the PM’s ”misogyny” speech in October, which received international coverage.

The November Nielsen poll again highlighted that Ms Gillard does much better among women than among men.

Labor’s primary vote was 34 per cent, but 36 per cent among women and 31 per cent among men. The PM’s approval rating among women was 52 per cent, and only 43 per cent with men. On preferred PM, she was favoured by 54 per cent of women to 47 per cent of men.

Mr Abbott, in contrast, had an approval rating of only 31 per cent among women, compared with 40 per cent among men; just 38 per cent of women, but 45 per cent of men, preferred him as PM.

Next year’s campaign will have centre stage several issues with particular resonance among women, including education, childcare, disability insurance and parental leave, on which Mr Abbott is offering a highly generous scheme.

The gender question has also become entwined with the character issue in Labor’s attacks on Mr Abbott, so is likely to be more important at this election than in 2010.

Among the news sites represented at the prime ministerial drinks will be Fairfax’s EssentialBaby, the largest online parenting site in the country; iVillage, for which Mamamia, created by Mia Freedman has the local licence from the US site; Women’s Agenda, created by Crikey journalist Angela Priestley; Kidspot, a News Ltd site that aims to simplify parenting and offer mothers a place to talk to each other; and the Fairfax site Daily Life.

Among others invited are Eden Riley whose blog was named by the Sydney Writers’ Centre as Australia’s best blog for 2012; the mother of four boys, one with special needs, who writes allconsuming 上海夜网m.au; Mrs Woog, named in the top 50 Kidspot Australian bloggers for 2011; Nicole Avery, whose site gives tips for organising the chaos of family life; and the writer of My Mummy Daze, who deals with juggling motherhood and a family business.

As the political year winds down, Ms Gillard will go on leave from this weekend, while Mr Abbott will visit London where he will address his old Oxford college, Queen’s, on Friday; he is expected to stress the advantage of students doing some studying abroad. Next week he and several other Liberals will attend the Australia-Israel-UK leadership dialogue in London.

He will meet Foreign Secretary William Hague and London lord mayor Boris Johnson.

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

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CA ready for Ritchie to sue over racism row

FORMER Test batsman Greg Ritchie has threatened to sue Cricket Australia and its chief executive James Sutherland, claiming he can muster the support of current and past players to take on the sport’s governing body and its head in court.
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In correspondence between Ritchie and Sutherland obtained by Fairfax Media, the 52-year-old argues he is owed compensation for lost earnings and damage to his reputation following the luncheon speech scandal he was embroiled in during last month’s Test between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba.

Ritchie faced a torrent of criticism for using the forbidden word ”kaffir” as part of his performance at the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust members’ function, and for a joke in which he referred to three young Muslim boys being locked in the boot of his car. He made further anti-Muslim comments in interviews with reporters that followed, including with Fairfax Media.

Ritchie blames Sutherland for allegedly not making public an apology Ritchie says he made to the CA boss on November 11, the day the story surrounding his comments was broken by South African newspaper the Sunday Times. Ritchie, who is being represented by former Test cricketer Bruce Francis, also claims Sutherland did not clarify statements from his adviser Peter Young and his public affairs staff that indicated he would be banned from speaking at CA and member-state functions as a result of the furore.

In a November 30 email Sutherland writes: ”If you want to go down the route of seeking compensation

or other redress, let me know as our lawyers are more than ready to deal formally and reject any claim.”

Ritchie replies: ”James, your bravado about bringing the court case on is based on you mistakenly believing I can’t find anyone to do the case pro bono or you are gambling I won’t spend a few hundred thousand to make say $200k. You are also gambling that I can’t win the support of ACA [Australian Cricketers’ Association] members to take on CA.

”On the other hand, my friends say Cricket Australia won’t spend $500k and risk you losing your job and subject itself to a humiliating public relations hammering, just to save apologising to me and reimbursing me for lost income – particularly when I did nothing wrong and you have made an incredible number of mistakes.”

Ritchie and Francis have also alluded to legal action against media organisations who reported the story, including Fairfax Media. The Queenslander believes his legal bill should be picked up by the players’ union but it is understood that request will be rejected by the ACA executive and is highly unlikely to be approved by members.

He insists his on-stage remarks in Brisbane were taken out of context and that he made them hundreds of times before at other events without complaint, including at another luncheon, staged by Queensland Cricket, on November 7.

”If it is good enough for football clubs to pick up the tab for players who have transgressed in many areas, it should be taken for granted that Australian Cricketers’ Association should fund my case when I have done nothing wrong.”

Ritchie apologised in person for his luncheon comments to South Africa’s team manager Mohammed Moosajee, flying to Perth where Australia played the Proteas in the third Test.

”You know I hate flying,” Ritchie wrote in his reply to Sutherland’s email. ”But I flew to Perth to resolve the matter with Dr Moosajee. And because of my fear of flying I had to pay for a mate to accompany me.” In Sutherland’s email to Ritchie of November 30, he writes: ”I am also comfortable to publicly reaffirm the fact that CA has not banned you from speaking at cricket events.”

Ritchie, however, believes he was cost guest speaking jobs at functions on the instruction of CA, including one he had been contracted to deliver at the South Australian Cricket Association’s black-tie pre-Test dinner in Adelaide last month. Sutherland’s adviser, Young, told ABC Radio on November 12 that ”effectively we are” banning Ritchie from speaking at CA events but SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw said it was his organisation that revoked the offer after learning of Ritchie’s lack of contrition.

Young said in his radio interview last month that a letter had been sent to venues and state cricket associations as a reminder of Australia’s commitment to the ICC anti-racism code.

”SACA’s letter terminating my contract was tantamount to banning me. If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck and if it talks like a duck it’s safe to say it is a duck,” Ritchie wrote in his email to Sutherland on December 6.

A CA spokesman declined to comment, as did ACA chief executive Paul Marsh. Sutherland is on annual leave until later this month.

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

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Green monster laid to rest in Hobart as new seed put down

CRICKET AUSTRALIA has moved to allay concerns that the pitch in Hobart will be another minefield for batsmen, knowing it can’t afford a hazardous track to be responsible for a three-day match in Australia’s series opener against Sri Lanka.
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The state of the wicket at Bellerive Oval is clearly still a touchy subject after last December’s ”green monster” that hosted Australia and New Zealand, and a series of first-class matches this season that have favoured seamers heavily.

Cricket Tasmania blocked a request to speak to the curator, Marcus Pamplin, who prepared last year’s deck, dubbed the ”Incredible Hulk”, and has overseen the resurfacing of the wicket block at Bellerive.

However, CA senior manager of cricket operations Sean Cary was confident the venue for the first of three Tests between Australia and Sri Lanka would provide more balance in the contest between bat and ball.

”Tassie curator Marcus Pamplin has learnt a lot from preparing his wickets this year on a completely new block,” Cary said. ”The whole wicket block was re-laid in August this year. He’s had to manage new soil, clay and rye grass that takes months to settle while preparing wickets for first-class cricket.”

He said CA had taken a back seat in monitoring the process over the last few weeks and was very confident of Pamplin’s skills and expertise.

”He takes great pride in his work and has been working extensively on the Test wicket to ensure it provides an even contest for both teams,” he said.

Amid criticism of state wickets led by South Australia coach Darren Berry, CA is monitoring the production of pitches around the country and the topic was on the agenda at last month’s conference of state chief executives.

In the most recent Sheffield Shield match in Hobart, Western Australia were bundled out for 67 in their first innings, with the Tigers claiming victory by an innings and 118 runs.

Cary, however, said that wicket was a vast improvement on previous versions and would be replicated in the pitch to be used from Friday.

”Marcus has been meticulous in the surface preparation to ensure it is even and void of undulations. The result was a very flat surface for his last Shield wicket, Tasmania v WA.

”Marcus has employed a similar preparation for the Test wicket and is very confident he’ll have an even surface that should provide a great battle between bat and ball.”

If that rings true, it will be music to the ears of Sri Lanka in particular, given their chances against Australia appear to rely largely on their experienced party of batsmen.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene and former leaders Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan have scored more than 25,000 Test runs between them, while veteran Thilan Samaraweera boasts an average in excess of 50 from his 78 Tests.

”The new block has provided bowlers with more bounce and carry than the ‘old’ Bellerive pitch, and this is due to the rye grass and new clay mix,” Cary said. ”However, the new wicket has also shown that when batsman apply themselves early, runs can be scored when they get set.”

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

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Ritchie threat to sue CA

FORMER Test batsman Greg Ritchie has threatened to sue Cricket Australia and its chief executive James Sutherland, claiming he can muster the support of current and past players.
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In correspondence between Ritchie and Sutherland, obtained by Fairfax Media, the 52-year-old argues he is owed compensation for lost earnings and damage to his reputation following the luncheon speech scandal he was embroiled in during last month’s Test between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Ritchie faced a torrent of criticism for using the word ”kaffir” as part of his performance at the Brisbane Cricket Ground Trust members’ function, and for a joke in which he referred to three young Muslim boys being locked in the boot of his car.

He made further anti-Muslim comments in following interviews with reporters, including those with Fairfax Media.

Ritchie blames Sutherland for allegedly not making public an apology he says he made to the CA boss on November 11, the day the story about his comments was broken by South African newspaper the Sunday Times.

Ritchie, who is being represented by former Test cricketer Bruce Francis, also claims Sutherland did not clarify statements from his adviser Peter Young and his public affairs staff that indicated he would be banned from speaking at CA and members’ state functions as a result.

In a November 30 email, Sutherland said: ”If you want to go down the route of seeking compensation or other redress, let me know as our lawyers are more than ready to deal formally and reject any claim.”

Ritchie replied: ”James, your bravado about bringing the court case on is based on you mistakenly believing I can’t find anyone to do the case pro bono or you are gambling I won’t spend a few hundred thousand to make say $200k. You are also gambling that I can’t win the support of ACA [Australian Cricketers Association] members to take on CA.

”On the other hand, my friends say Cricket Australia won’t spend $500k and risk you losing your job and subject itself to a humiliating public relations hammering, just to save apologising to me and reimbursing me for lost income – particularly when I did nothing wrong and you have made an incredible number of mistakes.”

Ritchie and Francis have also alluded to legal action against media organisations who reported the story, including Fairfax Media. The Queenslander believes his legal bill should be picked up by the players’ union, but it is understood that request will be rejected by the ACA executive and is highly unlikely to be approved by members.

Ritchie insists his remarks in Brisbane were taken out of context and he made them hundreds of times before at other events without complaint, including at another luncheon staged by Queensland Cricket on November 7.

”If it is good enough for football clubs to pick up the tab for players who have transgressed in many areas, it should be taken for granted that the Australian Cricketers

Association should fund my case when I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Ritchie apologised in person to South Africa’s team manager, Mohammed Moosajee before the third Test in Perth. ”You know I hate flying,” Ritchie wrote in his reply to Sutherland’s email. ”But I flew to Perth to resolve the matter with Dr Moosajee. And because of my fear of flying I had to pay for a mate to accompany me.”

In Sutherland’s email to Ritchie on November 30, he said: ”I am also comfortable to publicly reaffirm the fact that CA has not banned you from speaking at cricket events.”

Ritchie, however, believes he lost guest-speaking jobs at functions on the instruction of CA, including one he had been contracted to deliver at the South Australian Cricket Association’s black-tie pre-Test dinner in Adelaide last month.

Young told ABC radio on November 12 that ”effectively we are” banning Ritchie from speaking at CA events, but SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw said it was his organisation that revoked the offer after learning of Ritchie’s lack of contrition.

Young said in his radio interview that a letter had been sent to venues and state cricket associations as a reminder of Australia’s commitment to the ICC anti-racism code.

”SACA’s letter terminating my contract was tantamount to banning me,” Ritchie wrote in his email to Sutherland on December 6. ”Cricket Australia has either banned me or instructed or influenced or counselled third parties to terminate my contracts. I understand this action could be in breach of the law. My family has diminished significantly while my reputation has been trashed by Cricket Australia.”

A CA spokesman declined to comment, as did ACA chief executive Paul Marsh. Sutherland is on leave.

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

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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 Shanghai Night Net. Read more »

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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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Super tax flagged to beat havens

STARBUCKS, Google, Apple, eBay and other ”shape-shifting” corporations that route their business through intermediaries located in tax havens may soon face an Australian tax from which other corporations would be exempt.
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The idea will be discussed at a special reference group set up to advise Treasury on a scoping paper that will set out the extent of multinational tax minimisation and ways the Australian government can respond.

The 14-member reference group is laden with critics of multinational tax practices including an assistant secretary of the ACTU, Tim Lyons, Serena Lillywhite of Oxfam Australia, Jason Sharman of the centre for governance and public policy at Griffith University, Mark Zirnsak of the Uniting Church and Tax Justice Network and Frank Drenth of the Corporate Tax Association.

Others appointed by the assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury, include the executive director of Treasury’s revenue group, Rob Heferen, who will chair the group, the chairman of the Foreign Investment Review Board, Brian Wilson, the former tax commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo and a public policy specialist, Greg Smith, who served on the Henry tax review.

The only corporate representative is Ross Lyons, a tax executive at Rio Tinto. The consulting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and Clayton Utz are also represented.

Mr Bradbury has asked Treasury to report by the middle of the year, using the specialist group as a sounding board. ”This isn’t just a reporting exercise,” Mr Bradbury said. ”That’s pointless without recommendations for ways of collecting tax from corporations that make money from Australia without paying proportionate tax.”

”Some significant multinationals are deriving considerable revenues from Australian economic activity but paying tax out of proportion to that gain.”

In Britain, Starbucks has taken the ”unprecedented” step of pledging to pay £20 million ($30.6 million) in tax it says it does not owe, offering not to claim deductions for royalties it pays to its Amsterdam office.

The move has enraged rather than calmed critics such as the Liberal Democrats spokesman on tax, Stephen Williams, who said it showed corporations such as Starbucks thought paying tax was voluntary.

Niv Tadmore, a Clayton Utz partner who will be on the Australian specialist group, said the tax rules were relics of a time when doing business in Australia meant ”setting up a shop or a factory here or coming here every six months”.

One idea would be a withholding tax applying to all income but from which companies with HQs in nations with tax treaties would be exempt.

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

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Officer hurt after mass brawl at Sydney hotel

Five people have been charged over a huge brawl at a hotel in Parramatta that left a police officer injured, while another officer was allegedly elbowed in the face as she tried to arrest a woman at a Bondi Junction pub, police say.
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The incidents come after NSW Police conducted a blitz on alcohol-related violence, with 548 people arrested across the state on Friday and Saturday nights.

Police went to a hotel on George Street, Parramatta, to conduct routine patrols and eject drunk patrons about 10pm on Sunday, when a large brawl broke out in the beer garden and spilled out onto the street.

Officers had to call for back up from two other police stations, as other fights broke out.

A female constable was allegedly hit on the head during the brawl and was taken to Westmead Hospital for observation and another officer suffered a wrist injury, but did not need treatment, police said.

Five people were arrested and taken to Parramatta police station, where they were all charged.

A 20-year-old Auburn man, a 24-year-old Bass Hill man and a 24-year-old Padstow man were charged with a range of offences, while two women, aged 24 and 21, were charged with affray.

All were granted bail and will appear in Parramatta Local Court on January 30.

A 50-year-old woman has been charged after allegedly assaulting police officers who tried to arrest her at a hotel on Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, at 6pm on Sunday.

Police were called to the hotel after staff reported the woman, who was allegedly banned from the hotel, became aggressive when she refused to leave, police said.

Police said the woman allegedly elbowed a female officer in the face, and punched, kicked and bit a male constable.

She was charged with two counts of assault police causing actual bodily harm, resist arrest, and fail to quit licensed premises.

She was granted bail to appear before Waverley Local Court on Tuesday.

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

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Glasgow Santa Dash

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
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A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A thousand people take part in the annual Glasgow Santa Dash on November 9, 2012 in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Pokies becoming a lucrative staple for Woolies

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BETTER known for selling bread and milk, supermarket operator Woolworths is rapidly emerging as one of the world’s biggest pokies operators.

With 11,700 machines in operation across Australia, Woolworths’ pubs and gambling venture, ALH, runs more poker machines than six of the largest casinos in Las Vegas combined.

And what it earns from its gaming arm has changed significantly in recent months.

According to one industry estimate, Woolworths is now on track to earn more than $200 million a year from gaming. This means its gambling earnings will nearly match that of Australia’s fourth-largest listed gaming operator, the Tabcorp-spinoff Echo Entertainment.

The earnings kick has been triggered by changes to Victoria’s poker machine licence system in August this year, which smashed the monopoly of gambling giants Tabcorp and Tatts.

What was not known at the time is that the largest single beneficiary is Woolworths.

Woolworths’ ALH arm now operates more than one-third of the poker machines in Victoria’s pubs – 4677 machines – which is near the maximum allowed under current licensing arrangements.

Last month Woolworths shareholders rejected a proposal by GetUp! and pokies reformers to install a $1 bet limit across the company. A 2010 Productivity Commission report on problem gambling suggested $1 bets as a good option to help reduce problem gambling.

According to investment bank Citi, ALH generated $140 million in earnings before interest and tax last year. The new licence model in Victoria will see it generate an additional $72 million in annual earnings. ”Profitability … should increase dramatically as per the new arrangements,” Citi analyst Craig Woolford said.

The big change is that the $2.6 billion spent annually on 27,500-odd pokies in Victorian pubs and clubs will no longer be split between three parties.

Tatts and Tabcorp have been removed from the equation and the spoils are now split between the state government and the pubs and clubs that act as owner-operators of the pokies on their premises.

Woolworths has committed to spending more than $164.3 million on poker machine entitlements, and a further $26.2 million on new machines. Indeed, Woolworths now operates 16 per cent of the poker machines in Victoria when the 2500 operated by Crown Casino are included in the statewide figures.

”The $164.3 million amount is in effect paying for the [gaming machines] that we already have,” a company spokesman said.

The Baillieu government expects to receive $1.12 billion from taxes on pokies this financial year, but it faces more than $1 billion in legal claims from Tatts and Tabcorp over the controversial decision not to compensate the two companies for the loss of their licences.

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

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Swimwear Guinness World Record attempt

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
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Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Sydneysiders take part in the ‘AIME Strut the Streets’ in an attempt to break the Guiness record for the world’s largest swimwear parade on December 7, 2012 in Sydney, Australia.

The event was organised to raise funds and awareness for the not for profit charity organisation, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience.

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Nurse’s death prompts alert

MENTAL health groups say it is important to reach out to people who are depressed or distressed in the wake of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha’s death because the tragedy may stir suicidal feelings.
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A spokesman for Lifeline Australia, John Mendel, said managers taking calls in recent days had heard from several people talking about the incident in the context of their own personal struggles.

”This can have an impact on other people in society, including people who have been bullied … it can bring these thoughts to the surface again,” he said.

”We encourage people who are in crisis not to internalise it and to seek help.”

Mr Mendel said chief executive of Lifeline Jane Hayden was also writing to radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian to support them after angry social media users accused them of having ”blood on their hands”. The duo is said to be devastated by Ms Saldanha’s death.

Barbara Hocking, a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, said the tragedy and widespread media coverage of it were likely to affect many people, especially those already touched by suicide.

The former director of SANE Australia and board member of R U OK? said people with mental illnesses and those going through major life events, such as divorce, unemployment, or the loss of a loved one, were also at higher risk of suicide.

”Any reporting of suicide retraumatises people who have had those thoughts or feelings themselves or who have had family members who have,” she said. ”There will be a lot of people struggling out there who are reading all about this. It is important for them to know that things will get better and that there are people who can help them.”

Adjunct associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Canberra, Amanda Gordon, said it was highly likely that Ms Saldanha had other problems in her life because very few people commit suicide in response to one difficult issue that is likely to pass.

”If she had the opportunity to deal with whatever else it was, this may never have become such a terrible trigger for her,” Professor Gordon said, adding that this was a reminder for people to look after each other.

For help call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114, or visit beyondblue上海夜网.au

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

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Telehealth revolutionises regional medical care

West Australian GP Mike Civil demonstrates a video consultation. Photo: Keith J Smith THE Johnson Space Centre, on the outskirts of Houston,Texas, is an unlikely birthplace for a scheme transforming healthcare inregional Australia.
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The idea of online patient consultations was first developedby NASA boffins during the 1960s after the need emerged to remotely monitor thehealth of astronauts.

Nearly 50 years later, telehealth is sweeping through ruraland regional Australia, breaking down barriers country residents have longencountered just to see a doctor or specialist.

Since Medicare rebates were extended to include telehealthsessions in the middle of last year, the number of recorded consultations hasexploded by up to 660 per cent.

Its surging popularity is no surprise to Denise Dillon,whose teenage son’s recovery after falling into a fire in 2010 was made easierand cheaper by telehealth.

Online conferencing spared her son from taking gruelling 320kilometre trips between the remote Victorian town of Wycheproof and Melbournefor short, routine consultations.

“We wouldn’t have hesitated getting into the car and goingdown to Melbourne if we felt it was needed but we knew it wasn’t reallynecessary to take that trip just to have a doctor take a quick look and say‘yeah, that’s all going really well’,” she said.

“For rural areas, having this option is such a greatopportunity, especially for our ageing population.”

Dr Ash Collins, who has created a telemedicine service athis practice in the regional NSW town of Temora, said telehealth wasinfiltrating the health scene at such a rate people would soon wonder how theyever managed without it.

He said it had the potential to help ease the medical crisiscrippling small country towns.

“Obviously we don’t want to ignore the importance offace-to-face consultations,” Dr Collins said.

“The reality is many consultations cannot take place viatelemedicine but for others, telemedicine could actually be a superior option,compared to face-to-face.”

“For example, for a 68-year old patient who has had a hipreplacement, a virtual consultation is far better than sitting in a car forhours to go to a 10-minute review visit.”

In September this year, 5384 telehealth claims wereprocessed by Medicare – four times more than in the same month in 2011.

In June this year, the number of claims reached a recordhigh 6393 – or more than 200 a day. Medicare has this year already processed35,995 claims.

Telehealth is most popular in Queensland, followed by NSWand WA.

Dr Collins said higher internet speeds through the NationalBroadband Network would accelerate usage.

“We’re dying for higher bandwidth,” he said.

“Higher quality of video and audio would make theconsultation more comfortable. At the moment, you sometimes encounter problemswith bandwidth and the consultation needs to be abandoned and initiated again.But using the NBN will give us crystal-clear quality video and audio.”

The president of the Royal Australian College of GeneralPractitioners, Dr Liz Marles, said many GPs were still guarded about onlineconsultations. The cost of equipment was one factor.

“(Also) I think with any new technologies and new ways ofdoing things, there are doctors who like to pioneer things and others who liketo wait and see just what extra benefit it brings and how much easier it willmake life. But regardless, I don’t ever really expect telehealth to be a majorpart of general practice.”

Department of Human Services data shows about 2000 GPs,nurse practioners and midwifes now offer telehealth services, along with about500 consultant physicians, 300 specialists and 300 psychiatrists.

Despite its growing popularity, the federal government isslowly winding back the amount of money it offers to help cover the cost ofinstalling telehealth equipment.

The subsidy began at $6000 but will go to $3900 nextfinancial year and be axed entirely in 2014.

From January, telehealth Medicare rebates will be off limitsto residents in capital cities.

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