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Good morning, China

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Good morning, China, 苏州夜生活, by .

Carolyn Creswell might be ‘s muesli queen, but we’re having eggs for breakfast. There are six of us – three adults and three kids – squeezed inside a raised timber cubby house, while the hens strut on the lawn below. This is “Grace’s Cafe”, and six-year-old Grace, the youngest of four Creswell children, takes her job seriously. As we arrive, she marks our names off a guest list: Caitlin (that’s me), Poppy (my daughter), Dad (Pete Creswell): check, check, check. Carolyn, the owner of muesli brand Carman’s Fine Foods and host of Network Ten’s Recipe to Riches, is on the guest list as “Mum” but she’s late because she’s doubling as short-order cook back in the main house.
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Grace’s eight-year-old brother Oliver helps but she’s the one running the show. It’s no surprise to learn Grace is the child who most reminds Pete of his CEO wife. “She’s a mini-me,” Carolyn agrees with a laugh when I tell her.

The Creswells live in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn but spend the summer and as many weekends as possible here, at their farm in South Gippsland. Of course you can stay at the farm, Carolyn writes by text message when I mention that I’d like to spend some time with her in her natural environment. You should definitely bring your kids with you. It’s kids’ heaven!

Her description is apt. Along with the cubby and the chickens there are two ponies, hammocks hanging from spreading oak trees, a swimming pool with a white-and-gold inflatable Pegasus, a sandpit, and views over the golden-brown countryside.

In nearby Kongwak there’s a tiny Sunday market that Creswell calls her “happy place”. As we stand in line for noodles, the stall-holder leans over to me and points at Creswell. “Did you know she makes the most wonderful muesli? It’s called Carman’s.”

In the early 1990s, Carman’s was a small homemade muesli operation in Malvern, selling to local shops and cafes. Now it’s a business with a turnover of more than $100 million a year, responsible for about 255 jobs; 35 at head office at Cheltenham, the rest indirectly through outsourced manufacturing. The brand has a 7 per cent share of ‘s “nutritious snack” market, third behind Nestl?? and Kellogg, according to Retail World estimates, and about 5 per cent of the breakfast cereal market, a share that retail expert Stephen Kulmar says will grow as more people switch to porridge in the mornings. It’s made Creswell a wealthy woman – she was last valued on the BRW rich lists in 2015 at $57 million.

The Carman’s story began some 25 years ago, when Creswell took on a part-time job helping make muesli once a week while she studied history and sociology at MonashUniversity.She’d babysat for both the Aisenberg and the Zygier families, who owned a tiny homemade muesli operation. When a family member who was pivotal to the business decided to move on, the families concluded that it was time to sell. Creswell made a bid for it, in part to keep her job. At just 18, she bought a half-share in the business for $1000. “I was like, ‘Hang on, why couldn’t I buy this little business?’ ” she says. “I had no idea it would grow so big.”

Creswell had a business partner for the first two years, but has been the sole owner since, building up the business without any outside investment. Along the way she has married, had four kids, hosted a television show and served on boards and as public ambassador for human rights organisations such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

Now, at 43, she’s stepping it up: expanding into China, where there’s a growing appetite for imported food and premium brands, but no history of consuming muesli. “I’ve always been excited by the prize of what Carman’s could become,” Creswell says. “I’ve never been the type of person who can sit back and say, ‘I’ve done it now, I’ll go get my nails done.’ I’m always drawn to the excitement of the next horizon, and China is the most exciting opportunity I can think of for the business.”

I catch the lift to the 37th floor of a swish building on Collins Street, the Melbourne HQ of top-tier law firm Allens. Creswell is here for a board meeting of the Human Rights Law Centre, in her capacity as a director. She jumps up to greet me and pours me a glass of water, before resuming her seat, pointing for me to sit beside her. Blonde, with an open face and wide smile, Creswell is dressed in tailored black pants, an earthy-brown linen top and flat shoes. The outfit will take her from the board meeting to her suburban office, then to a playground concert at the local primary school her kids attend.

The meeting is due to end at 11am but it’s running late. That doesn’t stop Creswell rising at 11 sharp and declaring that she needs to go. Another board member follows suit. As we ride to the ground floor, they discuss the need for better timekeeping. They decide they’ve made their point by leaving.

We walk to Creswell’s black Land Rover, and drive out of the city towards the Carman’s offices at Cheltenham in Melbourne’s south-east. But first we swing by her new site, the former Pink Lady Chocolate factory in Huntingdale. A 1960s red-brick box on 4850 square metres, the refurbished site will be 10 times bigger than her Cheltenham digs. It’ll mostly be used as office space, but she plans to open a retail shop in the garden, a kind of “cellar door” concept designed to connect Carman’s to the local community.

Creswell says this property is proof she’s not planning to sell Carman’s, nor to float it on the stockmarket any time soon: two courses of action she’s often asked about. It suits her to call the shots and not answer to a business partner, investor or board. “I sort of feel like I’m hopefully only halfway through my journey, so it’s just really more of the same,” she says. “I love what Carman’s is doing now and I think it can just keep growing and growing.”

Carman’s already exports to 32 countries, but cracking China would propel it into the big league. The first shipment to China has already arrived and Creswell is confident the products will be on the shelves by September.

Later that afternoon, at a strategy meeting, we watch a presentation on what Chinese consumers think about Carman’s cereals and snack bars.

Seems they like the products with chocolate and berries and favour the purple packaging over the black. They don’t enjoy a cold breakfast; king of their breakfast table is congee, the rice porridge. The presenter points out that some of Carman’s competitors are positioning muesli as a topping for salad or steak. “I’m putting my foot down,” Creswell deadpans. “We are not recommending you use muesli to top salad or hamburgers. Ice-cream, I’m okay with.”

The opportunity in China is great, but so are the risks, witnessed in the bumpy rides experienced by other n companies such as Bellamy’s and Blackmores. They’re not the only ones to have shown initial promise in China, then fallen foul of changing government regulations and fickle consumer behaviour. Creswell is not put off, and says full ownership allows her to act quickly and decisively.

Carman’s has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and more than a year preparing for China. “We’re not just testing the waters,” she says. “We’ve got a major distributor and we’re going into the big retailers in the tier-one markets.”

The launch range, including nut bars, protein bars, oat slice, muesli and clusters, with a focus on berries, will be sold in 536 stores within the first six months. Creswell and her team will fly to China next month to hire local staff, visit stockists and research other businesses. “For me, success would be that Carman’s business in China is bigger than in ,” Creswell says. “I’ve talked to the kids about maybe going to live in China for three months, and that would be my dream, to set ourselves up for amazing success.”

Hong Kong-based business consultant Geoff Raby, an economist and former n ambassador to China, says the “clean, green” reputation of n food has huge appeal for the increasingly cashed-up Chinese, but the great risk is the bureaucracy changing the rules. “Regulation can change overnight, without any industry consultation,” he says. “If there’s an area that seems unregulated, or lightly regulated, it probably means that it’s soon to be regulated.”

Creswell has had an early taste of this: her initial plan was to launch in time for February’s Chinese New Year, but the date has been successively pushed back as the company came to grips with the complexity of Chinese regulation. Among the hiccups: a discovery that you can’t label food as “gluten-free” in China.

Born Carolyn Tennent, Creswell grew up with a younger brother in a comfortable home in Malvern. Mum Marcia was a nurse, father David a marketing executive for a multinational. Both parents worked hard to pay for private schools and a holiday once a year. David worked long hours, so the children sometimes accompanied their mum to her night shifts and slept under a table. The family spent four years in Los Angeles while Creswell was in primary school. When they moved back to Melbourne, Marcia started a school canteen business that she could run from home. If the children were home sick from school, they were put to work helping pack pies into paper bags.

Watching her mother run her own business gave Creswell the confidence to do it herself. In 1992, she went into partnership with her workmate from the muesli making job, Manya van Aken, to buy the business together. They renamed it Carman’s, using the first three letters of their respective first names. A few decades older than Creswell, with experience and contacts in the food industry, van Aken helped the brand get a foothold in department stores such as Myer and David Jones.

Those early years were a hard slog, involving huge responsibility and little reward. In those early days the business turned over about $80,000 a year, which translated to a profit of about $5000 each. They outsourced the manufacturing early on, but that came with its own challenges. “At one point the wrong kind of coconut was used in a recipe,” recalls Creswell. “We used shredded coconut but the whole batch was made with coconut powder, so we couldn’t sell it.”

Creswell still lived at home, but van Aken was married with kids. Sandwiched between caring for elderly parents and teenage children, van Aken decided to leave the business after two years. “I couldn’t have dedicated myself in the way Carolyn did,” she tells Good Weekend.

The pair saw an accountant to determine fair value and confirm they separated on good terms. “I was upset when Manya left because I really loved her, and still do,” Creswell says. “But it’s been 25 years and I guess now it really suits me for Carman’s just to be mine.”

Creswell met her husband Pete in those early days of the business. She was 22, he was 29 and working in marketing at Crown Casino. He borrowed $150 from his dad to take Carolyn out to dinner on the night he proposed. She wondered how they would ever pay it back. Pete later worked as an arborist, but quit eight years ago to look after the children and do volunteer work like running the Nippers program near the family’s holiday farm. Solid and blond, he’s laid back and fond of a practical joke, pretending to be still in the shower when Creswell arrives to pick him up for the school concert.

In 1997, Creswell won a contract to supply 20 Coles stores. It was a trial, set up by a buyer she now calls her “angel”. They still laugh about Creswell’s nervous presentation, complete with samples in brown paper bags she’d ironed the night before. Pete drove her around in the evenings to make the deliveries to each supermarket, so she could sneak in, build little displays and leave samples in the tea room for the staff.

As time went on, Carman’s expanded its presence in Coles; Woolworths took the brand on as well. It wasn’t all plain sailing, however. In 2005, one of the supermarket giants delisted Carman’s due to poor sales (she’s reluctant to say which one). When the buyer rang her with the news, Creswell burst into tears, then set about reinvigorating her packaging and marketing in a bid to improve sales at the remaining chain. She was relisted 18 months later. “It’s left me with a healthy paranoia,” she says.

Carman’s has been criticised for its selective use of the government’s health star ratings, the voluntary system designed to provide a quick nutritional profile of packaged foods where half a star equals “unhealthy” and five stars means it’s good for you. Carman’s has put the health stars onto its muesli and nut bars – its Super Berry Muesli Bar has four stars, its Greek Style Yoghurt Fig & Honey Bar three stars – but has left them off others, such as its coconut-flavoured Oat Slice, which would get 1?? stars.

Jane Martin, executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, has accused companies of using the system selectively, and is calling for the government to make the ratings mandatory. “If the star system isn’t being used comprehensively across all products, it makes it harder for consumers to make healthier choices,” Martin says. “Consumers are being kept in the dark.”

Creswell argues that the Oat Slice is a bakery product and that no competing bakery brands use the health star ratings. “Why would we be the only ones?” she asks. An easy way to improve the health star rating of her baked products would be to replace butter with margarine, she says, but she won’t do it. “I don’t give my kids margarine, I give my kids butter, so why would I use margarine?” she asks. “I’m proud of the fact you read our ingredients list and it says ‘butter’.” The health star ratings system is under review. Creswell says Carman’s will opt out if it’s not reformed to favour natural food.

A defining moment in Creswell’s personal life came when she felt she wanted no more children after her first two, Will, now 13, and Lily, 11, were born. Pete, who was already hands-on with the kids, wanted two more. “He told me, ‘I’ll give up work, I’ll do every nappy, I’ll get up at night, but I really want four kids,'” Creswell recalls. Another life-altering episode came when their third child, Oliver, was aged two, and the couple noticed a ridge down the middle of his head from back to front. With the youngest, Grace, a newborn and Creswell herself recovering from a botched epidural, she had Oliver checked out by multiple doctors. One specialist told her it was cosmetic, questioning whether she had a problem with how he looked.

By the time Oliver was four, he was missing many milestones, including speaking. This time, the Creswells were told he had a condition called craniosynostosis, and that he would die without surgery on his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. David Chong, the surgeon famous for operating on conjoined twins, rearranged the pieces of Oliver’s skull from his eyebrows to the base of his neck, filling in the gaps with metal plates. Oliver survived and his IQ bounced back to normal. “Here he is now, happy and healthy as anything,” Creswell says. “I count my lucky stars every day.”

It prompted some soul-searching about priorities. “At one point Carolyn probably was a bit of a stress-head, but that’s certainly changed,” Pete says. “Family has always been very important to her and that hasn’t changed, but she’s become a lot more intelligent with her time.”

Having a stay-at-home partner helps, but Creswell has also built other sanity checks into her busy life. She won’t do coffee meetings, doesn’t watch television and walks for about an hour each day. A fan of self-help books, she raves about Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. At Carman’s, staff eat lunch together around a big table, dining on salads prepared by the office manager, and often tackle The Age quiz as a group.

The vibe seems happy and relaxed but, like any business, there are detractors. A couple of former employees describe a workplace culture that’s “quite like a schoolyard”, with Creswell queen bee. Creswell argues that she’s tough when she needs to be. “I want to have a 100 per cent engaged workforce. If you are caught bitching, I’m just not interested.”

These days, she focuses on cultural fit over direct experience when hiring staff. Above her desk, an artwork depicts a bookcase filled with books about truth: The Truth about Love, The Truth about Birds, and so on. “When I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, I look at this and remember to tell the truth. If I have any regrets, it’s the times I’ve been less than honest, and I’ve learnt from that.”

She is trying her best to pass a sense of perspective on to her kids. During dinner at the farm we take part in a Creswell family ritual. Everyone takes turns to talk about the “sparkle” in their day, the kindness they practised, and what they’re grateful for. When it’s Creswell’s turn, she says the Sunday market was her sparkle, that she’s grateful Poppy and I could visit and that she could cook dinner for everyone, and that her kindness was letting her elderly ponies roam the garden.

Creswell may not have been a cook at 18, but she’s developed a keen interest in food as an adult. The meal is a Middle Eastern feast with salads and several types of meat. It’s finished with a ricotta tart made to a recipe by English chef Yotam Ottolenghi. There’s not a muesli topping in sight.

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‘Catastrophic’: How China narrowly escaped two bomb plots

12.12.2018, Comments Off on ‘Catastrophic’: How China narrowly escaped two bomb plots, 苏州夜生活, by .

Sydney 30July17: Terrorism: Police and AFP raid a number of houses across Lakemba, Punchbowl and Surry Hills after a plot to shoot down and aircraft with an IED is uncovered.Sproule St LakembaPhoto MIchele MOssopOn July 15, Khaled Khayat arrived at Etihad’s check-in counter at Sydney Airport’s Terminal 1 to see his brother off on a flight to Abu Dhabi.
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Unknown to the airline, the police and even the brother, Mr Khayat had allegedly packed a military-grade bomb, concealed in a kitchen meat mincer, in his brother’s check-in bag.

Three months earlier, on April 13, Mr Khayat, 49, started talking to a senior Islamic State operative in Syria about what police now allege is the most serious and disturbing terror plot ever hatched in .

The contact was possibly facilitated through his brother-in-law, Surry Hills man Khaled Merhi, whose brother Ahmad Merhi fled for IS in 2014.

The conversation quickly turned to building a bomb to smuggle onto a passenger jet.

“Thanks be to God,” Mr Khayat wrote in reply to one message detailing instructions on chemical reactions.

The alleged plot, outlined in detail on Friday following the charging of Mr Khayat and his 32-year-old brother Mahmoud, has all the hallmarks of what experts have identified as Islamic State’s latest trend in depravity: “remote-controlled” or “virtually-planned” attacks in which IS operatives give step-by-step instructions to overseas supporters on how, where and when to carry out an attack.

With the help of the IS controller, high-end military-grade explosives were posted to Mr Khayat from Turkey and instructions were subsequently given on how to build the bomb.

Police allege Mr Khayat and younger brother Mahmoud worked away for three months, eventually creating a product that was “fully functioning”.

But, miraculously, the bag was never checked in on July 15, possibly because the luggage was too heavy.

Mr Khayat took it back to his Lakemba home and his brother boarded his flight, unaware he almost became the patsy in ‘s most elaborate terror plot.

“This is one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on n soil,” AFP Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan said on Friday.

In an astonishing revelation, Mr Phelan said that police knew nothing about the men or the plot until 11 days later, when the group were allegedly midway through a second attempt.

US and British agencies tipped them off on July 26 after intercepting communication from the IS operative providing direction on a second plan, this time to build a “chemical dispersion device” to release colourless toxic gas.

The men were immediately put under surveillance until July 29 when they were arrested in six raids across Surry Hills, Lakemba, Punchbowl, Wiley Park and Bankstown.

Those raids uncovered every element of the first explosive device, by then dismantled and allegedly spread across Mr Merhi’s Surry Hills terrace and Mr Khayat’s Lakemba unit.

Mr Merhi had set up a business, Khaleds Powder Coating Services, two days after the first attempt, possibly as a front to obtain chemical materials.

In the Surry Hills and Lakemba homes, police found precursors, chemicals and evidence of experiments and reactions that point towards a complex plot to build a device to disperse hydrogen sulphide.

“There were certainly precursor chemicals that had been produced and some of the components had been produced but we were a long way from having a functioning chemical dispersion device,” Mr Phelan said.

Messages between Mr Khayat and the IS controller reveal discussions to put the gas device in a crowded space, possibly on public transport.

It’s understood the Middle East-bound Etihad flight was opportunistically targeted by Mr Khayat for the first attempt after he realised his brother had genuinely booked a seat on it.

Mr Phelan said he believes the first bomb would never have made it through security, had it been checked in.

He said police created a mock of the IED and did “penetration testing” of airport security and had a “100 per cent success rate” of it being detected.

“We are extremely confident given the systems we have in this country that the IED would have been picked up,” he said.

The Khayat brothers were charged on Thursday night with planning two terrorist acts – one between April and July 16, one between July 16 and July 29 – after spending almost six days in custody under a special terrorism detention order.

Neither applied for bail in Parramatta Local Court on Friday and they will reappear in court in November.

Khaled Merhi remains in detention and is expected to be charged over the weekend.

His 50-year-old brother, Abdul Merhi, was released without charge on Tuesday after 70 hours of questioning. He maintains he had nothing to do with the plot.

The brother who flew to Abu Dhabi has not returned to and is not facing charges.

Asked if he was “surprised” that such a sophisticated plot initially escaped police attention, Mr Phelan said “nothing surprises me”.

“If it hadn’t been for the great work of our intelligence agencies and law enforcement over a very quick period of time then we could very well have had a catastrophic event in this country,” he said. The plots

Plot A: The bomb on a passenger plane

Islamic State operative sends components of an improvised explosive device from Turkey to via air cargo. With directions from an IS commander, Sydney men conceal “a military grade explosive”, inside a meat mincer.Khaled Khayat, 49, allegedly escorts his brother, Amer Khayat, to Sydney Airport on July 15, 2017 to board a flight to Abu Dhabi with luggage containing the bomb. The bag is not checked in and Amer Khayat, who was no aware of the bomb, boards the plane. The device is dismantled and plot is abandoned. Police find parts of the IED during raids in Sydney on July 29 and 30.

Plot B: The toxic gasFollowing the failed plot on July 15, IS sends further instructions to Sydney terror accused to create a “chemical dispersion device”.Experimentation using precursor chemicals carried out in Sydney to try and make hydrogen sulphide. IS operative talks of placing device in crowded spaces or public transport however police say device was still a long way from being finished. International spy agencies tip off n authorities about threat to aviation on July 26. Six properties raided as counter-terrorism operation rolled out in Surry Hills, Lakemba, Punchbowl, Wiley Park and Bankstown, on July 29. Four men arrested. Police uncover precursor chemicals and IED components during raids.

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More beds on Royal Parade for students

12.12.2018, Comments Off on More beds on Royal Parade for students, 苏州夜生活, by .

The number of students beds will nearly triple at Whitley College in Parkville after private British operator GSA redevelops the site.
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GSA, which paid $20 million for the college last year, takes possession of the property at the end of the 2017 academic year.

GSA’s n head of real estate, Jon Whittle, said the doughnut-shaped building designed by Mockridge Stahle & Mitchell in 1961 would be kept.

“We are retaining the doughnut – what some people call the drum – but we are re-developing the remainder of the land,” Mr Whittle told BusinessDay.

“There will be two new floors built on top of the rear of the drum and a terrace at the front overlooking Princes Park,” he said.

“At the back there is a building constructed a lot later than the drum which we want to knock down and replace with a new six-level building.”

The new college – as yet unnamed – will have 367 beds, nearly triple the original college’s 130-bed offering.

Much of Melbourne’s new student accommodation has been concentrated in Carlton, North Melbourne and the CBD. This new wave is closer to Parkville’s traditional colleges.

GSA’s project at 271 Royal Parade is just two buildings away from the University of Melbourne’s new accommodation project at the old Salvation Army hostel at No. 303-309.

The university is retrofitting an 11-storey building it bought from the Salvos in 2014 and building a six-storey extension at the rear. It will provide 332 beds over 141 rooms and is due to open in 2019.

The university is aiming to have 6000 beds within walking distance of the Parkville campus by 2020.

About 40,000 new student accommodation projects are either under construction or in development around and competition is getting intense, particularly in Melbourne, where more than half of all projects are centred.

Research from the Department of Education and Training shows the number of international students in grew 11 per cent last year to 554,179 with Victorian students comprising more than one-third of the total.

Players include Atira – a joint venture between Goldman Sachs and listed Blue Sky; Scape, which has a $1 billion pipeline; and South Africa’s Redefine Properties, which is planning a 700-bed facility on the old headquarters of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union at 500 Swanston Street.

GSA quit the n market in 2015 only to return last year joining forces with Mr Whittle, who was bullish about the sector.

“There’s a lot of action and Melbourne is a place where it is justified. It’s one of the primary international student destinations and will continue to be,” he said.

There could be a shake-up in the sector once the new swag of buildings were up and operating, he warned.

“A lot of people are coming into the market who haven’t operated a single bed yet,” he said.

GSA has two other projects in its pipeline. A 353-bed 13-level tower at Pelham Street is under construction and works at a 322-bed facility at 684-688 Elizabeth Street are about to get under way.

“We are fairly active at the moment and we’ve got to make sure these sites work,” Mr Whittle said. But that busy workbook will not put them off taking on more projects.

“If a location comes up that’s good for us, we will pursue it.”

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Eleven already jailed over CBA money laundering syndicates

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Eleven already jailed over CBA money laundering syndicates, 苏州夜生活, by .

CBA atm machine that accepts cash deposits, on Smith St Collingwood, Melbourne. August 3rd 2017. Photo: Daniel PockettTwo men recently jailed over a $2 million money laundering plot using a “cuckoo smurfing” scam are among 11 people already jailed as part of criminal syndicates caught exploiting Commonwealth Bank accounts to wash money.
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Arlsan Shaffi and Salman Khan were arrested in May 2015 after laundering money using more than 100 CBA accounts in a complicated money-shifting scam.

The pair was jailed for a scheme involving the transfer of money between associates in separate countries in a manner that avoids the need for these parties to transfer money across borders and raise suspicions.

The pair laundered $1.78 million in cash deposits through 101 CBA bank accounts in 255 separate transactions. Authorities are now investigating the pair over at least another $3 million for offences under money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

The revelations come as pressure builds on the bank to respond to allegations ahead of next week’s full-year results, which are expected to show another record profit of nearly $10 billion. Austrac has accused the bank of breaching anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing laws in a statement of claim in court.

The nearly 600 pages of allegations lodged in the Federal Court detail examples of organised crime figures laundering money through CBA’s high-tech ATMs while the bank either failed to detect the transactions or failed to tell authorities.

Austrac alleges CBA failed to detect, review and report years of suspicious transactions worth millions of dollars involved in money laundering by drug syndicates.

At dozens of ATMs across Sydney and Melbourne, from Bondi Junction through Haymarket to Burwood, and in Melbourne from Chadstone to Springvale, Austrac alleges foreign nationals were part of four criminal syndicates that exploited a loophole in the bank’s technology that didn’t cap the number of cash deposits to its new ATMs.

Criminal syndicates would then transfer money offshore.

Members of four syndicates have already been jailed, including Yuen Hong Fung (6 years) and Yeuk Tung Kong (7.5 years). Shaffi was sentenced to five years’ jail and Khan three years.

Austrac alleges that in one case, after the n Federal Police (AFP) informed CBA of laundering allegations, the bank did not act to manage the money-laundering risk.

Among other allegations, Austrac details: CBA never assessed the money laundering and terrorism-financing risks it faced from its new ATMs prior to their launch in May 2012 and at no time prior to July 2015 did it take any steps to assess their risk;Nearly $9 billion in cash was deposited through CBA’s new ATMs before it conducted any assessment of the money laundering and terrorism-financing risks associated with the machines.

While banks are required to tell authorities within three days about suspicious transactions, transactions above a certain limit and concerns about fake identities, CBA sometimes took months to report concerns and in other cases never reported concerns, it’s alleged.

In one instance, the AFP told CBA it suspected a customer believed to have laundered money had used fake identities.

The group head of anti-money laundering at the bank emailed to say: “Given the nature of the matter, I would have thought SMRs [suspicious matter report] are appropriate on all the clients?”

Yet according to the statement of claim, CBA “at no time” lodged an SMR with Austrac.

In another example, there is a two-week gap between when concerns about “blatant intense structuring activity” were raised within the bank on June 13, 2015, and when the customer’s account was closed.

“It was not until 1 July 2015 that CommBank put a stop on this account at the request of the AFP,” court documents say.

In court documents, CBA blamed “systems error” for failing to comply with transaction monitoring.

The bank’s chief executive, Ian Narev, who will present the bank’s results next week, wrote to staff on Friday, saying the bank would lodge a defence to the claims.

It came as CBA’s share price tumbled 3.9 per cent, as analysts predicted a royal commission into the financial sector was now more likely.

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Leasing deals surge in Melbourne

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Leasing deals surge in Melbourne, 苏州夜生活, by .

Public service and education sector leasing deals have underpinned a surge in leasing activity in Melbourne’s CBD over the past year.
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Research from Savills shows leasing deals, covering 426,914 square metres of space, were struck in the 12 months to June 2017, a staggering 54 per cent increase on the previous year.

Most of the deals – 79 per cent – were for prime grade quality space and 39 per cent were for pre-committed space, a factor that drives development and construction.

The government and community sector accounted for 40 per cent of leasing activity, and property and business services took up a further 24 per cent, or 102,324 square metres.

Savills state director of office leasing Mark Rasmussen said the new 65,000 square-metre tower to be built for Victoria Police at 313 Spencer Street made up a fair whack of the 168,219 square metres leased by government agencies.

A half-share in the 42-level tower, a joint venture between Post and super fund developer Cbus Property, has already been sold to Singaporean fund Keppel REIT for $347.8 million.

“Demand from the government and community sector over the past two years has been robust along with the rise in the education sub-sector,” Mr Rassmussen said.

The research comes as the Property Council of reveals Melbourne’s vacancy rate has fallen to 6.5 per cent and could go lower before new supply comes on the market in 2020.

The city’s eastern core and Docklands had the lowest vacancy rate at 2.6 and 2.1 respectively.

Over the next three years little extra supply is expected to be added to the market, leading to further tightening of vacancy rates.

“The Melbourne CBD is in for a wild ride with vacancies tipped to continue the downward trend, the supply pipeline is limited until 2020 and demand continues to be strong,” Mr Rasmussen said.

Docklands vacancies also fell, reducing from 4.1 to 3.3 per cent.

So too did the amount of available space in Melbourne’s premier leafy boulevard St Kilda Road.

The Property Council places vacancy rates for the area at 11.3 per cent, down from 12.9 per cent although agents maintain the figures fail to account for multiple buildings in the process of being converted to residential apartments.

Both 412 St Kilda Road and 114-124 Albert Road have planning permits for other uses and will be withdrawn from office stock.

“2017 through to 2019 will be characterised by low supply and low vacancy. Strong effective rental growth is forecast over this period before moderating as new supply comes onto the market,” JLL head of office leasing Stuart Colquhoun said.

Savills associate director of research Monica Mondkar said Victoria’s steady economic growth was the key driver behind the leasing wave. NAB’s monthly Business Conditions is now running at 13.8 and a 3.4 per cent growth rate is expected for the state economy – well above the national average of 2.9 per cent.

“The market has definitely strengthened over 2016-17, especially since the federal election last year. We’ve seen a rebound in business confidence leading to a dramatic rise in pre-commitment activity,” Mr Rasmussen said.

Current inquiry levels are running about 263,275 square metres, he said.

A swag of corporates, accountants and lawyers are shifting into new digs or committing to new space. Accenture has taken up 8000 square metres at 161 Collins Street and ANZ has committed to 26,500 at 839 Collins Street in Docklands.

CBRE associate director of research Felice Spark said companies were increasingly taking smaller amounts of space in premium locations but locating back-office operations to the suburbs or Docklands where larger buildings had been built.

Ms Spark’s research into rising office rents showed professional services companies such as lawyers, consultants and accountants were most likely to “weather an uptick in costs”.

“Obviously the finance industry wants a premium address and in a premium building. Maybe they will take less space to maintain that premium address and take back office functions to the suburbs,” she said.

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Jobs being taken by robots? Where’s your evidence

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Jobs being taken by robots? Where’s your evidence, 苏州夜生活, by .

Business men and women converge after a conference in Perth, business, employment, jobs, high skilled workers, investors, work place, career, executive, generic , walking Hold for files. AFR Picture by Erin Jonasson, 080403. SPECIALX 00082413.There’s just one problem to remember before we work ourselves into a complete tizz over the War on Wages, convincing ourselves globalisation and digital disruption mean we’ll never get a steady job or a decent pay rise again.
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It’s this: so far we’ve heard a lot of suspiciously confident predictions about the way robots and digitisation are about to destroy millions of jobs, a lot of anecdotes about law-breaking employers, a lot of scary stories about “the gig economy” and “portfolio jobs”, a lot of adults assuring impressionable school children they’ll have 10, or is it 17, different jobs in their working lives, a lot of propagandising by the unions about the rise of “precarious employment” and a lot of speculation about how all this somehow explains why wages growth is the slowest it’s been since the early 1990s.

Know what we haven’t got a lot of? Hard evidence that any of all that has actually started happening to any significant extent.

This is not to say some version of all that won’t happen at some time in the future. I can’t say it won’t since I don’t know that the future holds, unlike all the self-proclaimed experts with their precise predictions.

(Next time you hear someone telling you exactly how many jobs robots will have destroyed by 2020, or how many jobs or occupations you’ll have in the next 40 years, ask yourself this question: How – would – they – know?)

But if there’s no evidence this frightening future has got going yet, there’s no way it can explain why wage growth has been so weak for the past three or four years.

For once, let’s take a close look at what we actually know has been happening.

It is true that, as we saw in this column two weeks ago, the structure of occupations in the workforce is changing. Research by Dr Alexandra Heath, of the Reserve Bank, shows the share of routine jobs has fallen by 14 percentage points, while the share of non-routine jobs has risen by 14 points.

Similarly, the share of manual jobs has fallen by 5 percentage points, while the share of cognitive jobs has risen to the same extent.

But this is a long-term trend. These figures are for the change over the 30 years to 2016, and there’s no sign of the trend accelerating over recent years.

A lot of detailed – and reassuring – research on the official statistics has been done by one of our leading labour-market economists, Professor Jeff Borland, of the University of Melbourne, and reported on his website, Labour Market Snapshots.

For one thing, Borland’s been searching for evidence that our jobs are being taken by robots – and failing to find it. He breaks the issue into two parts.

First, has computerisation reduced the total amount of work needing to be done by humans, as many people assume?

No. The total amount of work available per head of population has bounced around with the ups and downs of the business cycle but, overall, has shown no downward trend. The latest figures show, if anything, a bit more hours of work per person than there were in the mid-1960s.

Second, consistent with Heath’s research, Borland finds evidence that the progressive introduction of computers, which began in the early 1990s, is probably changing the types of jobs being done by workers.

But he, too, finds that the pace of change in the composition of employment “is no quicker today than in the period before computers”.

“So while computers may be having some impact on the n workplace, most claims about their impact are vastly overstated,” Borland concludes.

Next, Borland shines his statistical spotlight on all the claims about work becoming more insecure or “precarious”.

You don’t have a proper, full-time permanent job. You get a bit of work here and a bit there. If you do have a job, it never lasts long.

The n Bureau of Statistics has long published figures for job “tenure” – how long people have been with their current employer.

If all the talk of growing instability was a genuine trend – as opposed to the experience of a relatively small number of individuals – you ought to be able to see it in the job tenure figures.

But you can’t. The reverse, in fact. Borland finds that, from the early 1980s to the present, the proportion of workers who’ve been in their job for 10 years or more has been steadily increasing. This is greatest for women, for whom it’s gone from 12 per cent to 25 per cent.

At the same time, the proportion of all workers in their job for less than a year has been decreasing.

Next, how insecure do workers feel? When the bureau asks employees whether they expect to be with their present employer for the next 12 months, the proportion of men who don’t has been steady at about 9 per cent between May 2001 and May this year.

Over the same period, the proportion for women has fallen steadily from 11 per cent to 9.5 per cent.

From all the talk, you’d expect the proportion of employees working for labour hire companies and temporary agencies to be rising strongly.

It ain’t. Actually, between 2001 and 2015 it’s fallen from a tiny 3.1 per cent to a tinier 2.2 per cent.

And though it’s true the proportion of jobs that are part-time is continuing to rise, over the 10 years to 2016 it rose at the slowest rate for any decade since the mid-1960s.

Of course, none of this is to deny that wages growth in has been surprisingly weak for several years, as it has been in other developed economies.

But in our guessing game about what might be causing that weakness, let’s not get too fanciful.

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Trump trade dead, but corporate earnings fragile

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Trump trade dead, but corporate earnings fragile, 苏州夜生活, by .

A possible trade war between the world’s largest economies, the United States and China, reared its head again this week, and instead of shirking at the crippling impact on American businesses, US stock markets streaked to record highs.
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Reports the White House planned to impose tariffs on Chinese imports and revoke some Chinese companies’ licenses to sell products in the US theoretically should have had financial markets reacting in horror.

The prospect of curbing the free flow of commerce between the world’s largest economies would have widespread implications for American-listed enterprises, limiting growth and adding layers of regulation around existing partnerships.

The response? Stocks on Wall Street rocketed to record highs; the Dow Jones smashed through 22,000 points for the first time in its history and President Donald Trump was quick to claim the victory.

“Today the stock market hit the highest level that it has ever been and our country is doing very well,” the President announced on Twitter.

Hefty corporate earnings results these last few weeks have buoyed investor sentiment, with earnings growth for the S&P 500 on track to clock a healthy 9.7 per cent year-over-year for the second quarter, according to FactSet.

This follows a 15 per cent surge in the March quarter.

Earnings from the likes of Boeing, McDonald’s, Apple and American banks have done the vast majority of the heavy lifting, their sheer size making them primary drivers of the Dow Jones’ recent highs. Corporate earnings

While the US president has lauded the performance of American companies as a direct result of his capable leadership, most experts point to an improving global economic picture as being more significant.

A combination of low inflation and rising global growth could keep US stocks climbing and this reporting season, technology stocks and financials have largely given investors cause to cheer.

“It’s been a strong earnings season with large corporates delivering good, organic growth,” said Peter Wilmshurst, global equities portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton.

“The names we hold, particularly the technology names, have delivered good results.”

The largest public companies have seen profits accelerate in 2017, with earnings rising at a double-digit pace compared to 12 months ago, according to data by Thompson Reuters.

For some investors, the latest milestone helps allay concerns about the longevity of a bull market that began in March 2009.

This sharemarket cycle has been marked by a string of new breakthroughs: the Dow shattered 20,000 in January following its 15,000-marker in 2013. (It first topped 10,000 in 1999.)

But while the picture of a US economy roaring back to life after one of the most severe financial crises in living memory certainly has boosted the animal spirits of investors, many fund managers are wary of just how expensive US equities are.

“While stocks are not near the valuation bubbles we’ve seen in the past, it’s definitely true the US is probably one of the most expensive markets in the world,” says Wilmshurst. Pricey tech stocks, lagging industrials

Technology stocks – the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft – have driven much of the gains in the S&P 500 this year but the appetite for the innovation and growth potential of these companies might have pushed them into the “seriously overvalued” category.

“We are very cautious on US technology companies from a valuation point of view,” says Jordan Cvetanovski, portfolio manager at of Pengana Capital’s international equities fund, which was holding the maximum amount of technology stocks it could two years ago, but since then has halved that.

“We think these companies have become so expensive that we’re initiating some protection on the Nasdaq and buying some put options.”

Additionally, the uneven spread of company performance is a warning signal to some that the US bull market might be unsustainable.

Looking at the industrial stocks within the Dow Jones Index, which are fetching record prices, theoretically the Dow Transportation Average should also be heading towards record territory.

But instead, the index is lagging those overachieving Dow industrial companies, like Boeing, by almost 10 percentage points.

“The market gain has been built on a narrow group of issues. That typically is not indicative of great health,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

“I would not be shocked if we saw a pullback.” End of the Trump trade

Despite the abstract way that President Trump uses his Twitter account, it is difficult to deny shares have definitely performed better under his administration.

The “Trump trade” has seen investors pour into equities the world over, jubilant at the prospect of lower company taxes and other reform, sending Wall Street and the FTSE to record highs and reigniting speculation the ASX will hit 6000 points this year.

Since the inauguration on January 20, the 30-stock Dow Jones is up 11 per cent and the broader S&P 500 is 8.7 per cent higher.

But the inertia of Congress and the lack any policy detail has seen this particular motivation for positive investor sentiment deteriorate.

“People were betting on his ability to get things done,” said Pengana’s Mr Cvetanovski. “And the next thing people are focusing on is whether the corporate tax cuts will get through.”

During the week, President Trump tweeted: “Corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now”, which many interpreted as the launch of the next Republican priority, after the failure to repeal Obamacare.

While it’s unclear exactly what the tax cuts would look like, many are wary of how successful the administration will be.

“It’s hard to have conviction that they’ll achieve what they want to do,” said Franklin Templeton’s Mr Wilmshurst.

“While this Trump administration has a softer regulatory touch which has been good for the likes of financials, there’s no plan for what the corporate tax might look like.”

Regardless of what the administration may or may not do, investors have taken heart at recent economic data signalling a pickup in the underlying economy.

US manufacturing data remains solid, with factories still expanding and the Purchasing Managers Index rose from 52 in June to 53.3 in July. Vehicles sales are rising and while construction spending is in a clear downward trend, the economy is nearing full employment.

While short-term market sentiment has lowered expectations of another Federal Reserve hike, a trifecta of healthy job creation, buoyant wage growth and a larger number of Americans re-entering the workforce is likely to keep the central bank tightening monetary policy. ETFs

But the outperformance of US equities overall has some international fund managers shaking their heads, saying the bullish fervour gripping investors is a misguided result of distorted capital markets.

No longer punch-drunk on President Trump’s pro-growth policies, shares are artificially boosted by swollen passive ETF trades and the headline-grabbing earnings growth is only visible in pockets of the US market.

“There is no scalpel dissecting what companies are good and which are bad,” said Mr Cvetanovski. “There is so much widespread ETF buying that distorts entire sectors.

“This is just another way of making something that’s artificially expensive, even more expensive.”

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Manly waterfront assets to pique investor appetite

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Manly waterfront assets to pique investor appetite, 苏州夜生活, by .

Seaside investments are high on the list for developers as they link into the lifestyle of occupants who want the work and play balance without the need for too much travel.
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A shift in work practices has led to more people working within their neighbourhood, which has created a competition for space between commercial and residential developments. With demand rising, both uses are proving profitable in prices and rental growth.

One of the latest sites to be offered, which are also the last two Torrens Titled homes, are at 15-16 Steyne Street, being the former home to the Royal Far West school, which has been providing support and services to local country kids for more than 80 years. They are being sold as vacant possession.

The cash raised, which could be up to $10 million, using sales of similar properties as a gauge, will help fund the construction of the new Centre for Child Health and Learning. The new integrated Royal Far West Health and Learning facility will reach up to 15,000 families with services and support to help rural children reach their full potential.

The new Centre for Child Health and Learning will be built on the site of the existing Elsie Hill Building in Wentworth Street, adjacent to RFW’s guest accommodation Drummond House. No building or reconstruction will be taking place on RFW’s waterfront land under this Stage One development.

Agents advising on the sale, Stuart Cox, Neil Cooke and Tim Grosmann??? of Savills , said the flexible B2 Local Centre zoning means there is development potential for 963.5 square metres of gross floor area, subject to council approval, and a height limit of 10 metres.

Mr Cox, director of residential site sales for Savills, said well located projects in close proximity to shopping locations, public transport nodes, and “especially the beaches, demand the highest prices per square metre”.

He added that there has ben a rise in demand for beachside properties by self-managed super fund direct investments (SMSF); significant inflow of overseas investors and an underlying housing shortage coupled with an anticipated population growth.

According to Neil Cooke, director of residential site sales at Savills, the demand for housing in Manly has seen many international and domestic developers purchasing assets to keep pace with demand and rising unit prices. This has been as high as 17 per cent per annum compounded.

The same is said for commercial sites, with areas such as Brookvale, Warriewood and Frenchs Forest commanding higher returns.

The limited stock, rising demand and expected population growth has resulted in higher capital values and investment yields for commercial property on Sydney’s northern beaches, a report by Ray White Commercial has found.

Nic George, of Ray White Commercial NSW, said low interest rates and limited industrial land availability has helped boost land values and resulted in a new level of investment yield achievable, particularly in the sub $1.5 million price point.

Ray White Commercial head of research, Vanessa Rader, said industrial capital values across the northern beaches over the last 12 months have shown some variance depending on location, age and quality.

Ms Rader said the most affordable regions are Brookvale and Frenchs Forest, with Brookvale yields ranging from $1500 to $3800 per sq m with the upper range more representative of showroom industrial properties.

“Frenchs Forest is home to a large volume of strata industrial premises; these more uniform properties may include some office component and sit within a more restricted value range of $1700 to $2900 per sq m,” Ms Rader said.

“The Warriewood region also includes greater showroom type premises which have resulted in a similarly broad range as Brookvale, with an average of $3377 per sq m.”

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‘It makes you feel not valued’: How wage cuts broke Sahar

12.12.2018, Comments Off on ‘It makes you feel not valued’: How wage cuts broke Sahar, 苏州夜生活, by .

Sahar Khalili who has been on a flat wage as a pharmacist for lack of wage growth case study. Photo by Ben Rushton/Fairfax Media When Sahar Khalili started work as a casual pharmacist eight years ago, she was paid $35 an hour. Over the years that has fallen to as low as $30 while her rent has more than doubled.
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The 30-year-old tried short bursts of locum work to try to balance the equation, but eight years after graduating her pay had not kept pace with inflation.

“At the end of the day it also makes you feel that you are not valued by the pharmacy owner,” she says.

Frustrated with the stagnating pay and increasing workload involving sales tasks unrelated to her pharmacy training and without any extra compensation, Khalili changed careers and now works in health IT. She still does pharmacy locum work on the side.

It is a tale that will resonate for many workers.

Most ns have not had a pay rise in real terms in years in the face of an assault on wages which has policy makers, unions and business groups worried.

The typical n family takes home less today than it did in 2009, according to the latest Household Income and Labour Dynamics survey released this week.

Just on Friday the Reserve Bank cut its economic growth forecasts by half a percentage point for the rest of this year after confirming wages remain at their lowest share of total income in half a century.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has declared record low wage growth the “biggest challenge” facing the n economy.

Families are also wrestling with rising electricity prices, skyrocketing property prices and high demand for accommodation has also forced up rents.

There are many reasons given for the wage slump, some peculiar to and others part of broader global trends. GFC catching up

Having escaped the worst of the global financial crisis, n workers are now starting to share the pain of slow wages growth felt in the US since the 1990s and in Europe and Japan since the global financial crisis.

The mining boom and Rudd/Gillard government’s multi-billion-dollar stimulus spending may have helped shield the economy from the worst of the GFC.

But since 2012 and 2013, n workers have felt stuck in a holding pattern of slow wages growth. Wages for the whole economy increased by 1.9 per cent in the year to March just in line with inflation.

One unusual dynamic is that reasonably solid employment growth has not pushed up wages leading economists to suspect there is more slack in the labour market than the unemployment rate would suggest.

The rate of underemployment, which represents the number of people who have fewer hours of work than they want, remains high at 8.8 per cent and has not followed its normal trajectory in line with falls in the unemployment rate, which is at 5.9 per cent.

The Reserve Bank says it is not clear how much labour underutilisation – a combination of unemployment and underemployment, now at more than 14 per cent – is impacting on wage growth.

Then there are other trends upending the traditional workforce. Automation and technology has pitted humans against robots. An increase in contract work, off shoring of jobs and globalisation of trade, is undercutting prices and locally supplied goods and then dampening demand for workers.

The Reserve Bank has recognised that low wage growth may also reflect the erosion of workers’ bargaining power to achieve higher wages.

“With a greater premium on security, it’s plausible that workers are less inclined to take a risk by seeking larger wage increases,” Governor Philip Lowe says.

RBA governor Philip Lowe has encouraged workers to ask for a raise. Photo: Louie DouvisMore productive

Those comments have stirred up some economists including Jim Stanford, director of the Institute’s Centre for Future Work who says Lowe correctly described wage stagnation but ignored the power imbalances between employees and workers who do not have the leverage to push for a pay rise.

That n workers are 60 per cent more productive than they were 30 years ago, suggests some capacity in the labour market for higher wages, but workers have less power to claim a fairer deal.

“For both the quantity and quality of work we need an active hand for government policy to be supporting job creation and workers,” Dr Stanford says.

Labor’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor told the Sydney Institute on Wednesday night he was in no doubt that the “dwindling bargaining power of workers and their representatives have played a central role in contributing to flat wage growth.

The shift in bargaining power away from workers to employers, and the undermining of their ability to be represented by their unions, he says have had a profound and damaging effect.

While the former Labor government succeeded in killing WorkChoices, he admits in hindsight, the ALP should have recognised that the labour market was changing “at a speed and in ways that would mean that simply restoring industrial relations laws would not be sufficient”.

Opposition spokesman for employment, Brendan O’Connor, said the figures did not show the full story of the labour market. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“To be fair to the previous Labor Government, governments around the world are now confronting same or similar dilemma of how to address changes in the labour market,” he said.

But Professor John Buchanan, from the University of Sydney business school, says policies of both conservative and Labor governments over the past 30 years have resulted in depressed wages.

“None of this stuff is an accident,” says Buchanan. “We have had a 30-year attack on labour standards. Workers wages have only ever kept up with productivity when they have strong collective voices.” Uncertainty a factor

From the employer side, profits have been hard won and former Reserve Bank board member Heather Ridout notes non-mining industries have been under competitive pressure to restrain costs especially wages. And while wages were flat, they were not going backwards in real terms .

“A lot of companies are making a reasonable profit but there is a lot of uncertainty,” says Ridout.

An increase in productivity, she says, means there is room to boost wages. This sets a challenge for the union movement and wage earners.

n Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox links low wages growth to structural change in the global economy and extra labour supply resulting from the urbanisation and industrialisation of China.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox says wage increase must be matched by productivity gains. Photo: Andrew Meares

The low growth, he says, is partly “a catch up” on competitiveness with other developed countries. A fall in income from exports has also impacted on domestic incomes.

“We are starting to see some signs of wages growth and there has been a 3.3 per cent rise in minimum wages,” he says.

AIG’s latest construction survey shows expectations of further growth next year. But for employers facing continuing tight margins and pressures from rising energy costs and a higher dollar, “there cannot be wages growth without productivity offsets”.

“That’s not negotiable,” he says.

Jeff Parker, managing director of Tyre Pitstop south of Sydney, is at the frontline of that battle. He has been cutting costs and investing in new plant to make his business more efficient and competitive.

Jeff Parker, manager of Tyre Pitstop. Photo: John Veage

“There is a competitive challenge in our industry to make profits to cover wages because of Chinese imports of cheaper tyres into the market,” he says. “It is pushing the cost of locally supplied tyres down and manufacturers have to heavily compete and our margins drop.”

Even so, Mr Parker has ensured that salary increases for his staff have kept up with inflation. Tax cuts debate

Economist Saul Eslake says it’s true that employers can more easily replace workers with computers, robots or workers in other countries. But he doesn’t think restricting off-shoring or restoring union rights are the answer.

“I don’t think it would be in the national interest or interests of individual workers for us to go back to the kind of industrial mayhem that had in the 60s and 70s,” he says.

Eslake does not believe cuts to company tax will improve wages. Instead Improving standards of education is a longer term measure Eslake believes would help people compete.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash disagrees and believes the best way to improve wage growth is to improve productivity and investment, through lower taxes and a balanced workplace relations system that encourages job creation.

“The best thing that can be done to improve wage growth is to strengthen the economy to encourage investment, boost confidence and improve productivity,” she says.

“In contrast, the latest Labor Party policy is not to encourage productivity but to simply give unions more power to enter and disrupt workplaces. This will not make a single workplace more productive, in fact it will do the exact opposite, which will only damage both job growth and wages growth.”

But not everyone has struggled to increase their income. The share of disposable income after tax accruing to the top 20 per cent of earners has increased by about 2.5 per centage points in while the share for everyone else has gone down over 10 years between 2003-04 and 2013-14. Consumer impact

Having strongly argued for wage restraint during the years of the mining boom, business groups are now grappling with the impact on consumer spending of stagnant wage growth.

ACCI director of economic and industry policy Adam Carr recognises that sustainable wage increases are needed to drive consumer spending.

He says is feeling the lagged effect of global economic conditions and is confident that as productivity increases, so will wages.

“We don’t view this as the new normal,” he said.

Russell Zimmerman from the Retail Traders Association argues that simply increasing wages is not the answer – it would fuel inflation, which would force retailers to increase their prices. He puts the blame on chaos in Canberra.

“There is money out there for consumers to spend. People are not spending because there is too much uncertainty and lack of confidence in the government,” he says.

Zimmerman does acknowledge though that many people are doing it tough and living week-to-week to cope with increased electricity prices and huge mortgages as property prices rage out of control.

Mark Morey, the secretary of Unions NSW, says stagnant wage growth is undermining economic growth “because people don’t have money to spend”.

“People who have mortgages are two years ahead on their payments because [they are] worried about job security and not spending money on new TVs,” he says.

In a bid to avoid scaring off consumers with higher prices, manufacturers and suppliers are shrinking the size of their products to increase profitability.

“My beers are getting smaller,” he says.

And he’s not imagining it. Products shrink

n consumer advocacy group CHOICE says companies such as Arnott’s which reduced multipacks of Shapes and Tiny Teddies, are shrinking product sizes without cutting prices.

It says the marketing trick is designed to bolster brand profits and reduce value at the supermarket checkout.

The phenomenon is known as “shrinkflation”.

The whole cocktail means shoppers are more focussed on price which has sparked battles between big producers and ‘s powerful supermarkets.

In a spray against multinational companies, Coles managing director John Durkan says they seem happy to charge ns more for their products than in overseas grocery markets.

The price differences often related to the same product made and sourced in the same place.

“Why should n customers pay more for products like baked beans, coffee and razor blades, chocolate bars, than customers overseas?” he said in a recent speech.

Coles managing director John Durkan accused multinational food companies of overcharging Photo: AAP

Durkan has also raised concerns many n families were feeling cost of living pressures and spending less on fresh produce and meat.

Over the past few years, wages growth has languished on the back of a soft labour market.

“At a time when incomes are not growing much, many households are having to confront large price increases in other areas of their everyday living.”

These pressures – falling wages, rising prices, shrinkflation – are attributed as some of the drivers behind the global populist backlash as the middle and lower classes face the squeeze.

Niki Baras certainly knows how that feels.

Melbourne translator Niki Baras has been on flat wages for many years. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Seventeen years ago, she was earning 15 to 18 cents per word as a translator.

Today she earns virtually the same money and in some cases is offered less.

“We’ve actually gone backwards,” she says.

“I’ve learned to live with it. I have had to take on other related jobs to support myself. I haven’t been able to make a living in my profession.”

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Denting the distraction: Is technology the answer to Hunter’s mobile phone addiction behind the wheel

12.12.2018, Comments Off on Denting the distraction: Is technology the answer to Hunter’s mobile phone addiction behind the wheel, 苏州夜生活, by .

ON THE PHONE: “People are not getting the message.” A motorist with both hands off the wheel driving in a 60km/h zone on Newcastle Road at Jesmond. Police said the number of mobile phone offences observed was concerning. EDITORIAL: ‘If I wasn’t on the phone I’d have seen him’
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BOTH hands off the wheel, eyes on the screen, tapping away on the keyboard and full speed ahead.

Police officers say the actions of this driver – captured by theNewcastle Heraldthis week on Newcastle Road at Jesmond –is an example of recklessness on Hunter roads that could lead totragedy.

It comes as figures released by the Office of State Revenue show that Hunter motorists forked out nearly $13,000 a week –or$676,000 per year – in fines relating to mobile phone offences in 2016/17.

Newcastle motorists were the worst offenders, according to the data, with highway patrol officers in thecity handing out more than $209,000 in mobile phone fines.

Phone-wielding drivers in Lake Macquarie were close behind, with highway patrol issuing $206,000 in fines within that jurisdiction.

In the Hunter Valley highway patrol sector police issued more than $93,000 in finesduring2016/17.

Highway Patrol Northern Region traffic tacticianChief Inspector Bruce McGregorsaid it was clear “people are not getting the message” about mobile phone use while driving.

TheHeraldobserved seven motorists using a mobile phone while driving on the Link Road at Jesmond in a 15-minute timeframe.

NOT LOOKING: These motorists were captured by the Newcastle Herald on their phones on the Pacific Highway at Highfields. All cars were in motion.

Further, even outside peak traffic times, our photographer was able to capture six pictures of motorists doing the wrong thing on the Pacific Highway at Highfields in a one-hour window.

One of those motorists was seen on the phone as a police car passedby.

Chief Inspector McGregor said theHerald’s observations were concerning.

He attributed the results to what he says are “busy lifestyles” that lead to poor driver behaviour.

“We are aware that is an element in amongst drivers, that they continue to illegally use their phones whilst driving and our staff are regularly tasked in their duty to address this issue,” Chief Inspector McGregor said.

“I just can’t understand how people take the risk of being distracted while driving.”

Chief Inspector McGregor said motorists should never feel compelled to respond to people via their mobile phones behind the wheel.

“At the end of the day, if you receive a call it goes to voicemail,” he said. “Simple. Why does [a phone] need to consume all of your time, particularly when you’re behind the wheel.”

A motorist can be fined $330 and lose four demerit points for using a mobile phone while driving.

It rises to $439 in a school zone.

According to the data, highway patrol police fined 36 people for using a mobile phone in a school zone in Newcastle last year. Six were fined in Lake Macquarie.

How to stop ‘frightening’ distractionSHOULD technology be used to fight the distraction of technology?

The NRMA thinks so.

The motorists’ lobby is weeks away from releasing a report that it says will dissect the issue in detail and propose a range of initiatives that “may help” prevent people using their mobile phones behind the wheel.

The NRMA’s road safety expert, Dimitra Vlahomitros, said technology had a “huge role” to play in stopping dangerous driving.

It has previously been reported that the federal government is considering a range of initiatives to combat the distraction of mobile phones, which Transport Minister Darren Chester said there was “no doubt” had contributed to a rise in road trauma.

One of the initiatives under consideration is usingtechnologies that disable mobile phones when in motion.

Ms Vlahomitros said “driver distraction will continue to grow” as reliance on mobile phones increased in line with further integration into daily life.

“ has one of the highest saturations of smartphone use in the world. With smartphone ownership rising to 84 per cent last year, it’s not surprising that this technology has impacted on the automobile industry,” she said. “While the contribution mobile phones play in road crashes is under-reported, the risks are clear. Being distracted from driving for two seconds or more doubles your risk of crashing.

“It’s frightening how many people continue to engage in this dangerous behaviour, despite the known safety risks.”

Ms Vlahomitros said the NRMA was seeking better data to measure the role of mobile phones in crashes, with concrete data hard to ascertain as a result of “under-reporting”.

She said technology was the “missing link” in reducing driver distractions.

“We see the future of technology playing a huge role in stopping dangerous driving,”Ms Vlahomitros said on Friday.

“We know that education and enforcement works but the missing link is technology in addressing driver distractions. NRMAwelcomes all technology that tackles distractions inside the car.”

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