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The Jaguar, the children’s care charity and the mysterious contracts

07.13.2019, Comments Off on The Jaguar, the children’s care charity and the mysterious contracts, 苏州夜生活, by .

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As work cars go, a Jaguar is not bad.

Samantha Madigan would know: she drove a black one to work at Guardian Youth Care, the children’s care charity where she acted as payroll manager and board director.

Except the car is not registered with the charity. The luxury sedan belongs to a company that Guardian Youth Care awarded $18 million in mysterious contracts.

The NSW government alleges those contracts were unauthorised and a misappropriation of public funds. But the charity claims the payments were a legitimate part of its “integrated business model”.

As liquidators comb the accounts of Guardian Youth Care, which folded in June, Fairfax Media can reveal new details of its arrangements with former criminals.

They relate to a Pyrmont apartment purchase, the long-term use of a separate property owned by a convicted drug supplier, and a $500,000 loan to a gambler.

Run by former Wallaby Glen Ella, Guardian Youth Care received a government contract worth more than $6.4 million a year to look after traumatised teenagers in western Sydney houses.

It outsourced much of the money to companies run by Roy Bijkerk, who was jailed in the early 2000s for conspiracy to import cocaine.

Administrators going through Guardian Youth Care’s books found Mr Bijkerk was effectively a “shadow director”, given his influence over the charity he helped found.

In May 2013, Mr Bijkerk joined a Guardian Youth Care board member, accountant Paul Clarke, in a new company Sunergos Support Services.

Mr Bijkerk joined the same day as his business partner Ned Bikic, a former standover man convicted of murder.

By July, Sunergos Support Services was earning $30,000 a month from Guardian Youth Care to provide plant, property and equipment services and to help with accreditation costs.

Nine months later, Sunergos bought a Pyrmont apartment for $600,000, with a $480,000 mortgage.

Ms Madigan, Guardian Youth Care’s “executive administrator”, was appointed as a Sunergos director in January 2017.

Her Jaguar, however, belongs to Alpha Support Services, a contractor controlled by Mr Bijkerk, which has also received millions of dollars from the charity.

Records show Alpha received an unrepaid $686,000 loan from the charity, which Alpha denied while refusing to open its books.

Another car registered to Alpha is a black 2016 Mercedes Benz e400 series.

Mr Bikic, the former standover man, served as a director of Alpha between 2015 and 2016 and according to a former associate he was recently seen driving a black Mercedes.

The Bikic-Bijkerk pair are in businesses with Vatche Hagopian, who was jailed in the early 2000s for his second drug supply offence.

On release, Mr Hagopian bought a Seven Hills property that would house up to five Guardian Youth Care children at a time. It is not known how much rent was paid to Mr Hagopian, who ran a company called Guardian AAA Youth Services.

The Seven Hills house was regarded by several youth workers as the worst of the western Sydney properties run by the charity: dilapidated, overcrowded and understaffed.

“Disgusting” was how two former residents described it.

Until February, Mr Hagopian was a director of Guardian Care Properties, a company that lent $500,000 to big-time punter Eddie Hayson in 2013.

Other directors included Mr Bijkerk and two accountants on the charity’s board.

Last year, Mr Bijkerk told Fairfax Media he refinanced a block of flats in Greenacre in Sydney’s west, owned by Guardian Care Properties, to pay for the loan. He was adamant that company had nothing to do with Guardian Youth Care.

Lawyer Stephen Tully said last year: “We are instructed that our client, but for the fact that it may have some common directors, has no association with the entity Guardian Youth Care, which is a not for profit organisation.”

But two former youth workers say the Greenacre property housed children around the time of the Hayson loan.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward did not answer questions about the adequacy of her department’s checks.

The Department said the “normal contract management process” uncovered problems with Guardian Youth Care.

Opposition spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk introduced a bill to parliament this week calling for the Auditor-General to be given more powers to inspect government contractors’ spending.

“These reports are very disturbing,” she said. “There needs to be a full forensic audit of the accounts.”

Guardian Youth Care has accused the department of withholding funding for years and allocating dangerous combinations of children to houses.

Mr Bijkerk’s son Dylan, a director of Alpha Support Services, appeared on the Sky News show of former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson in June, to represent Guardian Youth Care and defend its subcontracting.

“It’s this business model in general that has allowed us to survive the onslaught of what FACS has been continually throwing at us for years,” he said.

Roy Bijkerk, Mr Bikic, Ms Madigan, Mr Clarke and Mr Ella have consistently failed to respond to questions.

‘Better than video games’: MP wants shooting age lowered

07.13.2019, Comments Off on ‘Better than video games’: MP wants shooting age lowered, 苏州夜生活, by .

Sean Donato is too young to drive, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes or vote. Yet the 13-year-old has been using a firearm for a year.
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A year 8 student at St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, Sean practises target shooting as well as hunting rabbits, foxes, pigs and goats.

“I’ve learned about safety and responsibility and handling the firearms and all that,” he said. “And I like shooting with my dad and get to spend time with him in the bush, learning about bushcraft, doing camping and cooking, animals and vegetation and all that.”

Sean’s older brother Matthew also has a minor’s permit, which allows children aged 12 and above to use firearms under supervision, although “he’s not so keen, to be honest”, according to their father, Philip Donato, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP for Orange.

But Mr Donato’s party would be “happy” for 10-year-olds to handle guns, and introduce shooting as an elective school subject.

“It’s a healthy family activity,” Mr Donato said. “It’s not gender specific. Going out, spending some time with your family in the outdoors, bonding with your kids, is a fantastic opportunity.

“It’s far better they learn how to use firearms appropriately in that sort of manner as opposed to watching movies and playing video games.”

Sean Donato is one of a rapidly increasing number of children in NSW who hold a minor’s permit to possess and use firearms under the supervision of a firearms licence holder.

A spokeswoman for NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said 7258 minors permits had been issued as of July 29 – 3010 minors permits were issued in 2009-10, according to figures released by NSW Police.

Twelve public high schools in NSW, as well as some independent schools, also offer shooting as a sport for students. Give guns to 10-year-olds

However, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party wants primary school-aged students to be allowed to use firearms – a position also advocated by the NSW division of the Sporting Shooters Association of .

“The current minimum age of 12 years restricts access to the sport and limits the ability of interested minors to develop their skills,” said Diana Melham, the SSAA NSW’s executive director.

Mr Donato’s colleague in the NSW Legislative Council, Robert Borsak, said: “The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party would be happy to see minor’s permits for firearms use to be reduced from 12 years of age to 10 years.”

However, the government is not in favour.

“The NSW Government has no intention of changing the current law regarding the possession and use of firearms under a minor’s permit,” the Police Minister’s spokeswoman said.

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said children should not be given access to guns: “We don’t put a 12-year-old behind the wheel of a car and we shouldn’t put a 12-year-old on the trigger of a hunting rifle.”


Mr Shoebridge said a special firearms permit could be considered for children living in rural areas: “There is scope for considering a special permit for children aged 16 years and above who live on a rural property and require a firearm in the farm work they do, under supervision of their parents.”

Lobby group Gun Control also wants minors permits abolished. GCA chairwoman Samantha Lee criticised what she characterised as the gun lobby’s argument that the use of firearms at a young age makes children more safe.

“To see the flaws in this argument you just have to apply it to driving or cigarette smoking,” she said. “Normalising an action from a young age doesn’t equate to safety, in fact, when it comes to firearms it has the complete opposite effect and provides a false sense of security.”

Ms Lee expressed concern about the potential for school shootings. She said gun ownership in was increasing and “combined with a dismantling of our gun laws and large numbers of guns being stolen from residential homes, there is a concern that will again see a rise in gun violence and young people”.

The GCA website states that minors permits are a breach of the 1996 Port Arthur Firearm Agreement: “This agreement only allows those 18 years and above to possess or own a firearm.”

However, a NSW Police spokesman said minors permits were not in breach of the agreement: “It addresses the age for licences and puts this at 18 years.” He added: “Supervision of minor[s] is strictly enforced by clubs and ranges – parent allows a minor to shoot on their own property under supervision.” Sports shooting in schools

The New England Girls School in Armidale offers target rifle shooting to students aged 12 and over, who compete in the Fiona Reynolds All Schools Match and shoot alongside other mainly private boys’ schools in the Athletic Association of Great Public Schools of NSW Rifle Shooting Premiership.

David Rose, the master-in-charge of the New England Girls’ School Rifle Club, said target rifle shooting was age and gender neutral.

“The sport suits both individual and team inclined individuals, does not require exceptional fitness or eyesight. Indeed most physical disabilities can be accommodated.”

He said the girls enjoyed being part of a traditional n sport “existing in this country about as long as cricket”.

Mr Rose said he believed a permit was “somewhat superfluous” for a shooting range where was already adult supervision and no tolerance of unsafe practices.

“In my experience, I’ve never had a single student not follow the rules, accept advice and generally be safe while developing their shooting skills,” he said. “I’m very comfortable on a range with students from any school we interact with.”

But he said the stringent safety standards on ranges was not always replicated on farms or in private homes. “In reality, kids do go shooting (a) without a permit or (b) with a permit, but no supervising adult.”

Outside of schools, the SSAA runs a “junior development program” for children aged 12 years and above at St Marys Indoor Shooting Centre in western Sydney. The NSW government’s Office of Sport website promotes the Sydney International Shooting Centre, which runs firearms courses for children.

Mr Shoebridge said shooting should not be part of any school curriculum: “With all the possible sports available to children, including ones that actually get children out and about and being physically active, there is no need at all to be giving them guns at school.”

In contrast, Mr Borsak said: “We are in favour of introducing firearms safety training and practical range experience as an approved school elective subject, and note that this is already the case in many schools across New South Wales.”

???Lowering the age for a minor’s permit to 10 would not permit primary schoolchildren to buy a firearm, Mr Borsak said. “A minor’s permit does not authorise the acquisition of firearms, and these can only be acquired, owned and stored by an adult who has both a firearms licence and a permit to acquire the firearm in question – and rightly so.”

Ms Melham said the SSAA NSW supported shooting as a school sport, calling it one of the “safest sporting activities”.

“Shooting is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport that requires skill and self-discipline as well as teaching responsibility and respect as a result of its very strong safety culture,” she said. “Participation in the shooting sports also assists in the development of social skills and confidence.” What is a minor’s permit?A child as young as 12 can obtain a minor’s firearms permit in NSW, and most other n jurisdictions. However, Western does not have a specific age limit, while Queensland has a minimum age of 11.A minor’s permit allows a child to possess and use firearms under the personal supervision of a firearms licence holder for the purpose of receiving instruction in the safe use of firearms or competing in shooting events, according to NSW Police. The minor’s permit does not authorise the acquisition of firearms.

Government’s double standard on here public money ends up

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Government’s double standard on here public money ends up, 苏州夜生活, by .

Bought a block of charity chocolate recently?
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The government has promised new laws to make sure your gold coins actually go to the sick kids and not into the pockets of fraudsters.

But what about the public money the government gives out itself?

Like the $3 billion the Department of Family and Community Services awards each year to not-for-profits meant to care for troubled children or poor old people?

Here, the politicians are not so keen on any extra oversight.

“Trust us” is the message. Even as the government investigates an alleged $20 million misappropriation that took place over four years.

This week, Fair Trading Minister Matt Kean introduced a bill to parliament that would give new powers to retired or current judges of the Supreme, Federal or High courts to investigate suspicious fundraising in special public hearings.

“I want to make sure consumers are put first and know they aren’t being ripped off by shonky operators,” Mr Kean said.

All well and good if you bought a ticket in the chook raffle.

But for money paid in tax for the government to redistribute, it’s another matter.

A parliamentary public accounts committee, including Liberal MPS, had urged the state to adopt “follow the dollar” laws that would allow the Auditor-General to look into how not-for-profits’ spend our money.

In adopting the laws, NSW would catch up with the rest of the country.

But Gladys Berejiklian has rejected the idea.

“In line with the NSW government’s commitment to minimise the administrative burden on service providers, a reporting process that would potentially duplicate existing measures has not been introduced,” a Department of Premier and Cabinet spokesman said.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward did not respond when the Herald asked her opinion.

Nor did she respond when asked if she thought her department had adequate processes to keep track of its billions in spending.

Ms Goward’s department insists the “normal contract management process” process led it to discover the alleged misappropriation of $19.6 million by a children’s care charity run by former Wallaby Glen Ella.

But the alleged misdealings – unauthorised transactions with subcontractors linked to former criminals – were only picked up in 2016, four years after they began.

The “detailed analysis of all financial information” FACS conducts each year missed them.

Those same processes also missed the embezzlement of funds by Eman Sharobeem, chief executive of an immigrant women’s health service, who is accused of defrauding the taxpayer over many years.

So the government is left promoting a double standard.

Where members of the public generously give money to groups so they can help the needy, it wants more scrutiny.

Where the money goes into state coffers first, a low level of oversight suits it fine.

Juggling two or three jobs to make ends meet

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Juggling two or three jobs to make ends meet, 苏州夜生活, by .

Single mother Raya Allan has been juggling three jobs to make ends meet since she was made redundant at the age of 51.
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She is one of 750,000 ns working second or third jobs as result of high underemployment according to the latest n Bureau of Statistics. There has been a 9.2 per cent increase in secondary jobs compared to a 6.8 per cent increase in main jobs for the past three years.

Raya Allan juggles three different jobs to make ends meet. Photo: Paul Jeffers

After nine-and-a-half years in a cleaning job, Ms Allan says she was thanked for her good work, given a glowing reference and dismissed in August last year.

Six months later, only $73 of her redundancy package remained after her regular mortgage payments were deducted from her savings. “I was really struggling,” she said.

Now aged 52, she has two cleaning jobs in Melbourne and does two hours of gardening for three clients every fortnight to supplement her income.

She spends two-and-a-half hours cleaning at a school from Monday to Friday. She has another private cleaning job which gives her an extra 10 hours of work a fortnight.

“I would prefer longer hours but I can’t take on other work because I finish one cleaning job at 1pm and have to be at the school at 3pm,” she said.

“It’s really hard to get a full-time job for the day. So I have had to get three jobs to make ends meet because I’ve got a mortgage and two teenage boys. I’ve always worked hard. I just take whatever I can get.”

Ms Allan says after being made redundant from her job in Ringwood last year she was replaced with another cleaner.

“The only time I missed work was when I had breast cancer treatment. I had the operation in December and went back to work in January, had chemotherapy and radiotherapy and only had one day off after that,” she said.

“I was a permanent part-time which meant that they had pay superannuation and sick leave and holiday pay which I hardly took.

“They didn’t explain why I was made redundant, they just said you did a fantastic job.”

Chris Goodwin with his motorcycle which he uses to deliver Uber Eats around Sydney. Photo: James Alcock

n Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the growth in second and third jobs was “extremely disturbing and should have every n worker, economist and politician worried”.

“What this shows is that people can no longer survive on a single job,” she said. “Working people are rapidly falling into the new class of working poor.”

Natasha Lay from Youth Action, a peak body for youth services, said casualisation was impacting particularly on young people who were competing for fewer jobs and more hours.

“Young people are having to work two, three, four jobs that are often unstable,” she said. “They need job certainty and job security.”

Alan Oster, chief economist at NAB, said there was more slack in labour market than the 5.9 per cent unemployment rate would imply. The underutilisation rate – the combination of unemployment and underemployment – was much higher at about 14.4 per cent.

“There is a lot of slack in the labour market. In that sort of environment it is hard to get a pay rise,” he said.

“The unemployment and underutilisation rate usually move together. The unemployment rate is falling but the underutilisation rate is not.”

Mr Oster said people were more cautious with their spending because they were feeling less secure in their jobs.

“If you have two part-time jobs you probably feel less secure than if you have one full time job,” he said.

The Reserve Bank of has raised concerns about the high rate of people who would like and are available to work more hours.

In a recent bulletin, it said underemployed workers could dampen wage growth because they offered extra labour supply or may be more concerned about their job security and had less bargaining power to get higher wages.

Chris Goodwin, 48, who lives in Kingsford said he could not afford a mortgage in Sydney.

He has worked at Coles for eight years night-filling groceries and has a second job with Uber Eats. He also works as a landscape gardener but finds the work is seasonal.

“There seems to be more people doing Coles as a second job to supplement their income,” he said.

“I need to work not just Coles but have to supplement my income because I have three older kids and lots of outgoings.

“Coles covers my rent each week basically and Uber Eats helps pay for the bills and food. Not much gets saved.”

Nicole Helps – with credit card insurance claim

07.13.2019, Comments Off on Nicole Helps – with credit card insurance claim, 苏州夜生活, by .

Hi Nicole,
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Your consumer Q&A is so insightful that Fairfax Media should give you a pay rise (yes dear readers, I’ve been driven to write a letter to myself this week). You remember taking that quick ski trip to America 1.5 years ago to celebrate our husband’s 40th -the one where he already had a respiratory infection then fell, fractured a rib or two, and was compelled to see a US doctor? It was nothing major – he may say otherwise – but we’ve never felt more grateful for Medicare. The GP visit, a puffer and a nasal spray cost some $US500 -and we’ve been trying to claim the comparatively tiny amount on the automatic credit card policy ever since. Beyond the (always involved) initial form, there have been eight subsequent emails and at least four conversations -roughly one a month. Regardless, over and over the insurer sends an identical (automated?) email requesting a $693 invoice for an n hotel stay seven months prior to that holiday. Which you and I have provided, though it’s irrelevant. Help!

Nicole, Sunshine Coast

Hi Nicole, what a great letter! In all seriousness, it’s only that this has gone on so long and become so ludicrous that I’ve been prompted to play the I’m-a-consumer-advocate-in-the-paper card??? after all, I sort with relative ease such issues for readers every week. I also feel ethically obliged to report that action – and the outcome – to you.

Probably unsurprisingly, the insurer has apologised profusely, approved my small claim, waived the excess and apparently tracked the problem to one initial employee error.

Of course, I’m relieved. But for one – input- mistake to cause that much obstruction for a consumer is curious.

Months ago a phone consultant assured me I could ignore the invoice inquisition as it had been erroneously earmarked as my eligibility for the policy. This particular, popular, policy requires you to put $500 per person of flights, accommodation or other holiday expenses on your credit card to automatically qualify for some pretty decent insurance. (As an aside, ixnay on the apres: a big potential trap of such insurance is that it rarely covers you if you’ve been drinking; paid insurance carries much more lenient “intoxicated” exclusions).

Anyway, I’ve repeatedly cited the reference number for that call. I have also asked twice for the claim to be escalated to a superviser receiving in return the word-for-word same demand for the same invoice.

I can’t help but wonder if this really was an innocent system stuff-up or a cynical ploy to get people who are less financially, well, obstinate to give up.

If you’ve had a similarly bonkers experience claiming on automatic credit card insurance, I’d love to hear it. And I’m especially interested in learning which insurer.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a money educator and consumer advocate: themoneymentorway苏州夜总会招聘. You can write to her for help solving your money problem, or with a consumer question, at [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au.

Labor’s war on trusts not all it’s cracked up to be

06.13.2019, Comments Off on Labor’s war on trusts not all it’s cracked up to be, 苏州夜生活, by .

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claims that family trusts are used to avoid paying a ‘fair share of tax’. Photo: Justin McManusThe parliamentary landscape got even murkier last week with opposition Bill Shorten’s rant against “inequality” and his promise to make the rich pay “their fair share of tax”. This was coupled with an attack on family trusts, which he claims are a tax-saving device used by the rich to evade billions of dollars in income tax.
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I almost choked on my breakfast last Monday morning when I heard him tell interviewer Fran Kelly on Radio National that barristers were among the chief offenders among those using trusts to rort the system. Unfortunately, Kelly does not have the tax skills to ask the tough questions, but I immediately rang a senior counsel who specialises in tax matters. His retort was “absolute rubbish – we can’t even incorporate. Barristers are required to act as sole traders”.

I followed this up with a call to the tax partner in the firm who does my own tax. He confirmed he acted for several barristers, none of whom are allowed to split income using trusts. He did mention that many have their chambers in family names and pay rent, but that is a well-known legal strategy used by many high-earning professionals who have no other way of income-splitting. It is also quite common for high-income professionals to hold the family home in the name of the trust for asset protection – the price of doing this is loss of the capital gains tax exemption.

But let’s get back to family trusts. Many of our country’s wealth producers own small businesses, and it’s a sad reality that many go broke in the first five years of operation. Therefore, asset protection is a major priority for them. If you are a sole trader, or operate as a partnership, all your assets are up for grabs if a financial calamity happens.

Consequently, the preferred structure for being in business is a trust or a company. Both have unique features. A trust does not pay tax itself: it distributes profits to the beneficiaries of the trust who then pay tax at their marginal rate. In certain circumstances trusts can save tax, but for the majority of business people the opportunities are limited. Typically the beneficiaries are mum and dad and the children, but there is little tax to be saved by distributing to children under 18 years of age because such distributions are taxed at the top marginal rate once they exceed $416 a person a year.

There is a window once the children reach 18 and are earning a low income, but even then HECS is a limiting factor, because any substantial distribution to a university student winds up reducing their HECS bill. CASE STUDY

A couple run their business through a family trust. The beneficiaries of the trust are the couple and their two children aged 20 and 22 who are at university. Both children have HECS debts of $50,000. The net profit of the business for the year is $300,000 and on their accountant’s advice this is distributed as $54,000 to each child and $96,000 to each partner. If the child’s distributions exceeded $54,869 their tax assessments would be increased by $2000 each, being 4 per cent of their HECS bill.

A company structure can operate in a similar manner to a trust. Instead of making a distribution to a family member, the company can pay that person a PAYG salary and retain any surplus profits in the company, where profits will be taxed at about 30 per cent, depending on the size of the company.

So there is a mechanism to defer profits, but the only way for the proprietors to get their hands on those profits is to pay themselves a franked dividend, which will end up being taxed at their marginal rate. It is also possible to tailor dividends to individual shareholders by allocating each one a separate category of share.

In summary, the main benefit of the company over trust is that profits can be retained and used to expand the business, or to eventually pay those retained profits to its proprietors.

There is nothing in either of these structures that enable the proprietors to evade large sums of tax, they are merely efficient structures to provide asset protection while optimising the way profits are paid to the owners, who are taking all the risk of being in business for themselves.

Shorten has flagged a proposal to tax trust distributions income at a flat 30 per cent. It would be interesting to see the legislation. Suppose Jack and Jill have a family business operated through a trust which earns $200,000 a year and they distribute $80,000 to each of them with the balance of $40,000 going to a child who is at university. If the system were changed they could simply pay each other a salary of $37,000 so as to stay in the 19 per cent tax bracket, and have the rest taxed at 30 per cent. Under the current system the balance is taxed at 34.5 per cent

It does not bode well for the future of this country that the alternative government is more concerned about attacking the producers of wealth than increasing the pie so everybody can have a bigger share.

As the Methodist minister William John Henry Boetcker said 100 years ago, “You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer”.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature and readers should seek their own professional advice before making any financial decisions. Email:[email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

Five megatrends catching the eye of investors

06.13.2019, Comments Off on Five megatrends catching the eye of investors, 苏州夜生活, by .

Investor John Baillie attended an investor day where he could ask questions before deciding on a fund. Photo: Joe ArmaoWhether it is the rapid expansion of China’s middle class, the ageing of the populations of the developed world, or cyber security, opportunities abound for savvy investors.
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The challenge is working out the knock-on effects of these mega-trends and who will be the likely winners and losers.

Some investors can chase the latest hot theme only to end up regretting their losses.

That’s why, for many investors, it is better left in the hands of the professional fund managers.

They put together a portfolio of investments that are expected to profit from a theme, which is offered to investors as a single investment.

With the help of investment researchers, Money has identified four managed funds and one listed investment company that have runs on the board by exploiting themes. Healthcare boom

Healthcare is a theme that is delivering.

What is it – Platinum International Heath Care Fund invests in the shares of health care companies from around the world, ranging from those doing research, to health insurance, through to those providing health care services to consumers, such as hospitals.

Returns – From inception in November 2003 to June 30, 2017, the fund produced an annual average compound return of 9.47 per cent.

Pros – Platinum Asset Management is a Sydney-based fund manager, considered among the best global share fund managers in the world.

Cons – Platinum is a “contrarian” investor, meaning it does not follow the herd. From time-to-time, returns can lag those of sharemarkets. Indian economic reforms

The development of India is tempting some investors. Photo: iStock

What is it – the Fidelity India Fund invests in a diversified selection of 50 to 70 Indian-listed companies and draws on the research capabilities of Fidelity’s analysts based in India. Fidelity is one of the world’s biggest fund managers.

The portfolio holds companies that are producing higher returns on capital, good cash flows and have low debt and quality management.

Returns – From inception in October 2005 to June 30, 2017, 9.8 per cent.

Pros – India’s population is growing more quickly that China’s and many commentators believe the size of India’s economy will eventually outstrip that of China.

Cons – India is a messy and boisterous democracy with a huge disparity in wealth. India in the process of rolling-out a single indirect tax across the country and there could be some economic turmoil, at least in the short term. Chinese consumer spending

China’s burgeoning consumer class offers opportunities. Photo: AP

What is it – Premium China Fund invests mostly in companies listed in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. It can also invest in companies listed on other stock exchanges that have significant connections to the Greater China region.

Returns – From inception in November 2005 to June 30, 2017, 10.55 per cent

Pros – McKinsey & Company estimated in 2013 that by 2022, more than 75 per cent of China’s urban consumers will be earning $US9000 to $US34,000 a year. Some estimates say the middle class will number more than 600 million by 2022. And they will be spending more on leisure, including travel, and consumer goods like flat-screen TVs and more on niche over mass brands.

Cons – China can be a risky place to invest – though the rewards are there. There are some obscure ownership structures and corruption scandals as well a general lack of transparency in the legal process. Investing with a conscience

Former US vice-president Al Gore encourages investing with an eye to the environment. Photo: Ben Rushton

What is it – Generation Wholesale Global Shares Fund was founded by Al Gore and others in 2004. It’s available to n investors through Colonial First State.

It develops a series of industry road maps that focus on industry-specific long-term trends. Companies are whittled down to a portfolio of up to 60 listed companies on sharemarkets around the world that have sustainable business models and high-quality managements.

Returns – From inception in October 2007 to June 30, 2017, 10.14 per cent.

Pros – The investment approach is based on the conviction that sustainability factors, including economic, environmental, social and governance criteria, will drive a company’s returns over the long term.

Cons – Management costs of 2.22 per cent a year, with a performance fee on top, are a drawback. And its sustainability bent means the fund does not screen-out certain “bad” sectors, which might not suit some investors. Agribusiness and water rights

Irrigation rights can be valuable. Photo: Michelle Mossop

What is it – Blue Sky Alternatives Access Fund is an ASX-listed investment company (code: BAF) that invests in a diverse range of alternative assets, including private equity, venture capital, water rights, agribusiness finance and real property.

Returns – From inception in June 2014 to June 30, 2017, 9.33 per cent.

Pros – Broadly diversified for those investors who want exposure to several themes. As it’s listed on the n sharemarket, shares in the fund can be bought and sold just like any other listed company.

Cons – The fund holds unlisted assets, which are valued periodically. And a significant component is in real estate, including property development that tends to be higher risk. Caution needed

Tim Murphy, director of manager research at Morningstar, says while there are opportunities with themed investments they can also go wrong.

The classic example is the tech funds that were launched just before the start of the “tech wreck” in 2000.

Tim Murphy from Morningstar, warns there are risks. Photo: Nic Walker

Most were launched with $1 unit prices and are now trading at less than $1.

“Sometimes the funds can be launched fairly late in the theme. I think that’s the biggest potential drawback of some of these funds,” Murphy says.

Investors may be better off with a fund that can invest broadly in global shares, he says.

Murphy says anyone thinking of investing in a themed fund should be prepared to invest for a minimum of 10 years.

David Smythe, co-founder of investment researcher Zenith Investment Partners, says some investors can “go for the theme”, but not every manager has the skills to “execute” the theme successfully. Diversification is key

“These funds need to form part of a broader and well-balanced portfolio that matches the investor’s risk profile,” Smythe says.

They could have more of a supporting role, with the main role played by a fund with a broader share exposure, he says.

Investors should be aware that there are many exchange traded funds (ETFs) that invest with a theme, Smythe says.

ETFs are listed on the n sharemarket with units in them bought and sold just like the shares of listed companies.

They have very low investment management fees, but they are “index” or “passive” managers, meaning they track or mirror the returns of a market, index or prices, like those of gold or oil.

The active managers listed above buy and sell investments in order to outperform the market in which they invest.

There are ETFs that track all sorts of themes. For example, some track Chinese shares and sharemarket sub-sectors such as healthcare and cyber security. Then are also ETFs that invest with screens. Exposure sought

John Baillie, 56, from Melbourne, has a background in finance and is now a professional company director.

He has two grown-up children and together with his wife has a self-managed superannuation fund.

Like many SMSFs, John is overweight in n shares.

He looked at the Future Fund, the sovereign wealth fund established by the n Government to meet unfunded public service superannuation liabilities.

One of the reasons for the fund’s good returns was that it includes alternative investments.

“I wanted exposure to real estate and to private equity,” he says.

Alternative investment manager Blue Sky has a track record of impressive returns, but for John what really matters is the quality of those managing the money.

“I looked at the people behind it and I attended the Blue Sky investor day where I could ask questions,” he says.

He likes the alternative assets held by the Blue Sky Alternatives Access Fund, which he holds inside his super fund, as it’s a good diversifier to the fund’s share holdings.

Beware the neglected, vulnerable worker

06.13.2019, Comments Off on Beware the neglected, vulnerable worker, 苏州夜生活, by .

It stands to reason that in the absence of credible solutions to persistent problems, unhappy voters will seek alternatives, look for someone to blame. It’s not rocket science.
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Despite the practical limits to what governments can do (outside of a mining boom) they must at least offer hope – a believable prospect of better times ahead, and a sense that contemporary struggles will lighten.

Sustained wage stagnation which is as endemic since the GFC as the original crisis, coupled with rising energy and housing costs, are however, testing these limits. All the more so, when politicians’ boast of good times, and of economic policy settings that are just right.

Enter Bill Shorten’s “inequality” pitch, “stage two” of his well prosecuted “fairness” case against the Abbott-Hockey 2014-15 budget, and much since.

As Seven’s Mark Riley has noted, “inequality” is the pejorative version of that earlier fairness emphasis, and one which speaks more sharply to a deepening grievance.

Shorten, to quote Bob Dylan, “is brave ‘n getting braver”, informed by the cut-through power of bold new left campaigns run by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders.

The Coalition likes to pillory “inequality” as fiction, refuting the claim it is at a 75-year high in , or even that it’s getting worse.

If literally true, Malcolm Turnbull has little to worry about. His defence is a slam-dunk. Right?

Unfortunately, it is not so straightforward.

This is a battle between heart and head. Labor cites statistics also, but Shorten’s real purchase is the sense people have that they are going backwards. That is, not just failing to get ahead, but losing ground in relative terms. The rich-are-getting-richer, you’re not.

Statistical rebuttals cut only so much ice when the feeling of creeping disadvantage is so widespread.

In a representative politics, there’s always a moral weight in speaking for the silent majority, the long-suffering, forgotten, mainstream – just ask John Howard.

Howard’s rare skill was to leverage that demos of critical electoral mass not only from opposition but also in government – albeit aided by the mining boom’s rivers of gold.

But they were unusual circumstances. Now the Liberals are having it done to them.

Persistently flat wages do not merely suppress growth, they dent morale, weaken institutional affections, and invite volatility.

It wasn’t Donald Trump’s conservatism that propelled him in 2016 so much as his status as a radical outsider storming the citadel. Hillary Clinton was the boring institutional filling in a sandwich of discontent. Like Sanders, who energised the youth vote, and rounded up sundry disenfranchised progressives, Trump, prevailed as the candidate of the disestablishment.

Similar strains overpowered the elite/institutional cross-party consensus on Brexit, nearly toppled Theresa May, and played an important supportive role in the election of the newcomer (if progressive centrist) French President, Emmanuel Macron.

The lesson is this: in politics, it doesn’t matter whether people are worse off, better off, or about the same. It matters how they feel on this.

Shorten might not have all the answers but he’s doing a better job of hearing the question.

The major Sydney universities about to lose millions

06.13.2019, Comments Off on The major Sydney universities about to lose millions, 苏州夜生活, by .

Universities would be hit with $1.2 billion in funding cuts under the Turnbull government’s higher education changes, with new data showing some institutions are set to lose up to $57 million over the next four years.
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The figures, compiled by peak body Universities , provide the first breakdown of how each university in the country would be affected over the budget forward estimates if the government’s proposals pass the Senate.

NSW universities would lose $341 million in base funding between 2018 and 2021 while Victorian universities would lose $294 million.

The cuts would hit universities already in deficit and those with large numbers of disadvantaged students as well as the elite sandstone universities in Sydney and Melbourne.

The fate of the changes is hanging in the balance as Parliament resumes this week, with the Nick Xenophon Team yet to outline its position.

The government’s higher education package – announced in May and almost immediately overshadowed by the “Gonski 2.0” school funding changes – would apply a new “efficiency dividend” to universities, increase student fees by 7.5 per cent and slash the HECS repayment threshold from $55,874 to $42,000.

Monash University would receive the biggest funding hit in the country according to the figures, which have been provided to a Senate committee scrutinising the government’s proposals.

Monash would be $57.4 million worse off over four years than under the current policy settings, while the University of Melbourne would lose $46.5 million.

Victoria University, which has been in deficit for four of the past five years, would have its funding reduced by $22 million.

Western Sydney University, which caters to many low socio-economic status and “first in family” university students, would be $54.1 million worse off over four years, the biggest reduction of any university in NSW.

The University of Sydney would be $51.7 million worse off and UNSW would lose $47.4 million.

The n National University would lose $14 million over four years and the University of Canberra $15 million.

“A billion-dollar cut to universities is at the heart of the higher education legislation,” Universities chief executive Belinda Robinson said.

“As our economy changes and old industries face new threats, needs to keep – not cut – our investment in universities to create new jobs, new industries and new sources of income for .

“And funding cuts that erode quality risk undermining the $24 billion in export earnings that our universities help to bring into by educating international students.”

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said university funding would continue to grow under the government’s changes, but at a slower pace.

“Taxpayer funding for universities has been a river of gold, growing at twice the rate of the economy since 2009,” he said.

“Our reforms still see university teaching revenue grow by a further 23 per cent over the next four years and will ensure the ongoing viability of generous higher education funding and access.

“While universities enjoy significant autonomy, taxpayers also expect their investment is being used as efficiently as possible.”

The government estimates university funding – based on government and student contributions – will be $18,555 per student in 2020, down from $19,334 this year.

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said: “No university in will escape the Liberals’ unfair cuts.

“While Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are giving tax breaks to big businesses and millionaires, they want want to cut uni funding, jack up student fees, and have lower income earners pay back HELP debts sooner.

“Their priorities are all wrong.”

The elite Group of Eight universities have slammed the government’s package as a “contradictory, incoherent mess” that would make students pay more for an inferior education.

Labor and the Greens have announced they will vote against the government’s changes, meaning Senator Birmingham will have to win the support of 10 of the 12 Senate crossbenchers to pass them into law.

Fairfax Media has reported the government is prepared to significantly water down its plans if necessary to get some of the $2.8 billion in higher education savings through the Senate.

Victorian university funding cuts 2018-2021*Monash University $57.4mDeakin University $50.3mUniversity of Melbourne $46.5mRMIT $44.3 mLa Trobe University $36.8 mSwinburne University of Technology $26.8mVictoria University $22mFederation University $9.9mTotal = $294m

*Source: Universities

Find super boring? Follow this checklist, then relax

06.13.2019, Comments Off on Find super boring? Follow this checklist, then relax, 苏州夜生活, by .

afr 22nd april 2015 Sally Loane CEO of the FSC photo by Louise Kennerley afr 22nd april 2015 Sally Loane CEO of the FSC photo by Louise Kennerley
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The superannuation industry often talks about the challenge of getting young people “engaged” with their super.

Most recently Sally Loane, the chief executive of Financial Services Council, warned of “dire” consequences to disengagement at the FSC Leaders Summit in Sydney recently. “The more we allow, and indeed condone, apathy and disengagement, the worse off young people will be at the end of their working life, and so will we, the taxpayer,” she said.

Super funds are constantly looking for new ways to make themselves seem more exciting. Some have even try to “gamify” the super experience – rewarding members taking certain actions on the website by giving out badges or informing them they’ve achieved a “level up”.

There’s an air of desperation to all this attention seeking. There’s no doubt that most young people are not “engaged” with their super. But is all this fuss really serving the interests of members or are funds just being needy?

Loane cites surveys that suggest young people prioritise near-term goals such as buying a house. But is that so bad? All the super industry’s estimates for “comfortable” retirement assume home ownership.

The whole purpose of super is to “set and forget” and let time do the work.

The thing is you need to make the effort to get the “setting” part right. Here’s a simple checklist that every super member should do once every year or two … or just when major life events occur.

First, choose a good fund. I explained how to do this in a recent column. Look at the long-term returns, on a site such as SuperRatings. Also check sites such as Market Forces to make sure your fund takes the financial risk of climate change seriously – you don’t want to find you’ve unwittingly invested in a coal port that’s gone out of business.

You can usually choose your fund. There are two main types of funds – industry funds that return profits to members and retail funds run by financial institutions such as banks for a profit. Industry funds have historically out-performed retail funds on average, but there are good and bad in both categories. You don’t have to work in an industry to join the applicable industry fund – there’s nothing to stop a waiter joining Local Government Super, for example.

I wrote recently about a child actor who found all his super was eaten away by fees and insurance premiums. Judging by the response, this is a very common problem, not just for kids but anyone who earns a low or sporadic income. If this is you, look for a low-fee fund. When the balance is low, minimising fixed fees is more important than the investment returns. SuperRatings has a list of the top 10 funds with the lowest fees.

Second, choose the right investment option. When you’re young, you should probably be in a growth fund. It’s higher risk but over the long term should deliver higher returns. If you’ve got decades to go before you retire, you can usually afford the risk.

Third, consolidate your accounts. Otherwise you could be paying multiple sets of fees and insurance premiums. There’s a good guide to how to do this on ASIC’s MoneySmart website.

Fourth, review your insurance needs. By default you have life insurance, which pays out on death and also total and permanent disablement (TPD), and sometimes income protection insurance. You can opt out but think carefully before you do. If you have dependants (usually children) or liabilities (such as a mortgage), then life insurance is important. In some cases you’ll want to increase your cover.

Fifth, consider making a small personal contribution. That’s if you’re not madly saving for a house or trying to pay off a mortgage. Behavioural economists know that people adjust to their take-home salary – so if you can force yourself to save before you even get the money, you probably won’t even notice it. Your 20s and 30s are a great time to contribute to super, because of the magic of compound interest. Time is your greatest asset when investing, and superannuation is the most tax-effective way to invest.

You can contribute through salary sacrifice if it’s offered by your employer. But there’s also a new law that means you can do it yourself and claim a tax deduction at the end of the year. You can set up a direct debit so the money drips into your super account frequently, or even use tools such as the Acorns app to sweep digital “spare change” into your super account. By contrast, many employers only deposit super every three months … if at all (unpaid super entitlements are a big problem in ). The downside is that you don’t get the tax deduction until the end of the year – but if you like getting a tax refund, then you might consider that a benefit.

Sixth, make sure your binding death benefit nomination is up to date – that is, letting your fund know who should get your money if you die.

Seventh … nope, that’s job done, actually. Forget about it for a while. Make a date to spend an hour or two reviewing it in a year’s time, or maybe two.

Don’t get sucked into fiddling around with your investment options constantly. You pay transaction costs every time you buy and sell and you’re probably not as good at it as you think. If you could time the market, you’d have made a motza from share trading and be retired already. If you want to try, do it with your “play money” not your super.

This also means you shouldn’t worry about whether your fund has a great app or mobile experience. There are new disruptors that make this a selling point, but it’s more important that the investment returns are good and fees are low.

Don’t buy into the fearmongering about how much you need in retirement. Some very smart people think the super industry’s definition of a “comfortable” retirement is inflated. The super industry, naturally, disagrees. I reckon there’s plenty of fat in it, but take a look for yourself.

The average young person will have a lifetime of compulsory super of at least 9.5 per cent of your salary and this is slated to rise to 12 per cent. If you’re aged under 54 now, you can’t get to your super until you’re at least 60 and you can bet they’ll put the age up before you get there.

If you think you might need money to buy a home or any other important purpose before you’re allowed access to your super, then keep your money outside the system – or use the new first home super saving scheme. You can invest outside of super and earn similar returns – it’s not as tax effective, but that’s the price of freedom.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the editor of Money. Find her on Facebook or Twitter.