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Newcastle, so hot and cold right now

DEMAND: Dave Crane says winter clothes are already selling off the shelves.WHAT the heck is going on with this weather? And what is it doing to Newcastle’s fashion scene?
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Everywhere Topics goesaround the city, it seems no one has a cluewhat to make of Mother Nature’s state of mind. Is it hot, or cold? Jacket on, or off? Should I really be wearing those thongs, oris it time to dust off the scarf?

Topics tried to answer these important life questions as we took our jacket off, before promptly putting it back on, for the third time in 15 minutes at the weekend.

We eventually resolved that it wasn’t cold enough for a jacket – but before long a friend had us stumped again.

“I just saw someone pay $800 for a fur coat,” she thundered as she sat down for lunch. “Where would you even wear it –it’s not like it’s that cold.”

A frustrated Topics decided to further investigate, so we hit the capital of the Hunter’s high fashion scene –The Junction –to find out if there was a winter rush.

SUMMER CITY: Lindsay Otto finds that Newcastle tends to buck winter fads.

Dave Crane, the co-owner of Seraph women’s clothingstore on Kenrick Street, confirmed that winter had definitely come early.

“Winter is here,” he said.“I’m finding that people are preparing a lot earlier this year. We’re selling a lot of scarves, a lot of knitwear. It’s a relief, to be honest, becauselast year was just too hot. People just want to be ready.”

Lindsay Otto, of Otto’s women’s clothing, observed that some in the city were in “winter denial” (think: shorts and ugg boots)–but there was no cause for concern because “Newcastle doesn’t really embrace winter, anyway”.

“It’s something to do with our beach lifestyle,” she said. “You never really need much to keep warm. Something light will do.”

Whatever havocthis “in between” weather might be wreaking on tough as nails Newcastle, at least we’re not as bad as Sydney.

KEEPING IT REAL: John Nelson in his shorts and thongs at The Junction.

As one Topics correspondent noted this week of Sydney fashion on Facebook: “Man scarves. Man scarves everywhere. Sadly. Mostly wound around the neck three times and tucked into the breast of a Ted Baker tweed coat. The walk is one of purpose, hands in coat pockets, an expressionless face staring outward through heavy-rimmed Tom Fords.”

It prompted the reply: “This Northern town glances at what the big smoke is doing then ignores it.”

Merewether’s John Nelson is one proud Novocastrian thumbing his nose at the fashion elites of Sydney.

Resplendent in shorts,thongs and a polo shirt as he walked down Kenrick Street on Monday afternoon, John said simply of his fashion choice:“I’m comfortable.”

Hard to argue with that.

“I do rug up from time to time, but not now,” John explained. “It’s just not one of those days.”

Newcastle can expect a top of 21 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ask yourself, WWJD – What Would John Do?

Go behind the barsTHINK it’s cold? Spare a thought for the inmates ofMaitland Gaol. Or just seefor yourself.

Maitland council has announced the return of its popular night tours at the historic penitentiary, giving visitors another perspective of the former prison.

Visitors will experiencehow the prisoners counted down the time until their release, as well as an inside look into the many escape attempts at thejail.

A children’s tour called “Snitch’s Gaol Exploration” –narrated by “Snitch the rat” –is also promised.

The next night tours will take place between 6pm and 9.30pm on June 9 and July 14. Last entry at 8.30pm.

It pays dividends to check

This column was written on the night of the federal budget, so matters pertaining to the economy were to the fore.
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Or ‘ecomomy’ as it was published on the front page of a metropolitan newspaper recently

I don’t highlight the mistake to poke fun at someone else’s mistake.

Regular readers of this column, or my sister at least, would be aware a central theme is the importance of self-editing copy, or if possible getting another pair of eyes to check.

The typo appeared in an edition that may not have been sub-edited.

It’s the future of newspapers we are told, especially online.

But it’s not just media consumers who suffer from unedited copy.

A week before that newspaper’s mistake, reports were published of a Centrelink letter to Melbourne’s Ben Klein, a TAFE Advanced Diploma of Music Industry student.

In an effort to advise him of Austudy payments, the unsigned letter contained typographic, grammatical, spelling and factual errors.

It was so poor, on first viewing Mr Klein actually thought it a scam.

At least a dozen mistakes lined up for the honour of document doozy including the agency misspelling its own name “Cedntrelink”, and citing an irrelevant law.

Despite being about Austudy, the letter said the notice was given under “paid parental leave law”.

Music obviously soothes the soul and Mr Klein good-naturedly “marked” the letter, but gave it an F.

Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongensaid the letter had not been automatically generated by a computer but was in fact from a manual template and the mistakes were the result of human error.

How reassuring.

I wonder if any budget money is going to literacy programs?

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact. CLOSER LOOK: It is important to have a second set of eyes read over your work to pick up any mistakes.

Izzy’s reaching for the starsVIDEO

HARD WORKER: Izzy Roughan dreams of one day becoming an astronaut.IZZY Roughan has her mind set –she is going to be an astronaut.
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For as long as she can remember, the St Joseph’s High School student has wanted to visit outer space.

Inspired by her late grandfather’s love of astronomy, she has actively pursued her goal since she was a young child.

She regularly flies planes at Scone Aero Club to build her skills as a pilot.

Her latest goal is to raise enough money to take her to anAdvanced Space Academy Program at the United States Space and Rocket Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

“Recently I was made aware of the 2017 iSTEM Space Camp Tour that enables selected Year 9-to-12 students from NSW, accompanied by teachers, to participate in the space academy program,” she said.

“By attending this iSTEM space camp, I will have a marvellous opportunity to feel what it’s really liketo be an astronaut.”

Her interest in leaving Earthhas grown over the years, particularly since she began studying physics and chemistry.

“It all kind of got bigger when I got to learn about it more,” she said.

“Not many people get the opportunity –it’s like one in a million that actually get to become an astronaut.

“It’s very demanding and it’s really hard to get to.

“And, by the time you become one, you’re well into your thirties or forties.

“There are a lot of people out there who want the same role, but there are only a few people that actually get it.”

Izzy has never met an astronaut before, but she is looking forward to the activities inthe US program, including meeting with like-minded students.

“I think it will be interesting to share our common interests and be able to speak to each other about it,” she said.

“The whole week [we will be] doing things that astronauts would do –being flipped upside down in those really cool machines,actually putting the space suit on,going underwater in the space suit, and just learning what it’s like to be an astronaut.”

The 17-year-old often reflects on how much work is required to make her dream a reality.

But, it never changes her aspirationto one day view the planet from a distance.

She would liketo thank Professor Tim Robertsfrom The Tom Farrell Institute, and business development manager atUmwelt Australia Julie Wicks for their assistance.

To donate, visithttps://梧桐夜网gofundme南京夜网/izzy-roughan-istem-space-camp

LIFELONG DREAM: Even when she was a baby, Izzy had space pyjamas.

To keep updated with the program, findhttps://梧桐夜网facebook南京夜网/SJAspacecamp/on Facebook.

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Short Takes: Thursday, June 29, 2017

I BELIEVE our politicians are on their winter break. Judging by the hot air, they shouldn’t be feeling the cold.
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Daphne Hughes, KahibahTO Noel Pickett, and others of his ilk, asking for heavy fines for the mass nude swimmers (Short Takes, 27/6). I am convinced if there was no such thing as clothes, there would be no more wars.

Jo Coombes,Mayfield WestI FIND it ludicrous that a country as wealthy as Australia doesn’t have a very fast train. Whilst watching Great Rail Journeys, I saw that you can travel from Moscow to St Petersburg, a distance of some 712.8 kilometres in under four hours. Whilst here in Australia, a train trip from Newcastle to Sydney on the flier, (a distance of 160 kilometres) takes just under two hours. Come on governments; get our country caught up to the rest of the world.

Bill Baldwin, LambtonLEONARD Buckland calls for an urgent review into retirement and old age homes (Letters, 28/6), ten years after a similar review that cost probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and was ignored. The review that should be held is on why governments spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on reviews just to be seen to be doing something, then discardthe expensive professional recommendations. Now, that could be money well spent.

Allan Earl, ThorntonEVERYONE is “like everyone else”, is the truth Jesus made, Les Hutchinson, (Letters, 28/6). Many proclaiming Jesus fail to see this. Brothers and sisters are all of humanity. No standing in judgement. That this simple truth has not taken hold, as your letter points out, shows how lost we all are.

Graeme Tychsen,Rankin ParkWELL said Don Johnson (Short Takes, 28/6): The whole fact of the matter is we need carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and funnily enough the carbon dioxide actually controls the temperature. Without it we’re fried little chooks.

Brad Hill,SingletonJOHN Brown (Short Takes, 26/6): It’s not tall poppy syndrome with Pauline Hanson, I think she just has racist views and she doesn’t think before she opens her mouth.

Colin Geatches,MayfieldSO I am trying to find latest road closures for Newcastle East on the council website. I went to park in my usual place on Fort Drive, only to find it is closed off and detour signs around. So I went to the council website and could not find anything about it. Can anyone point me in the right direction? The road closures are making access to the CBD for workers that have to drive a nightmare.

Nicole Walsh,North LambtonTHE POLLSIS the Cambridge an icon of Newcastle live music?

Yes, it should remain a live venue 64.7%,Yes, but times change 16.1%,No, it’s time to move on 19.2%IS Shaun Kenny-Dowall a good signing for the Knights?

Yes 67.2%,No 32.8%

Short Takes: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

TO Mick Johnson (Short Takes, 24/6): I’m no architect. I couldn’t draw a straight line, but the university building impresses me greatly.I recall the Opera House and Blue Poles both getting a bagging years ago. In time the new ‘uni’ building will rival the Opera House and Blue Poles for popularity on tourists’ must-see lists.
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Neil Pitt,CarringtonCR Adamthwaite, ratepayers in Park Avenue, Argenton, would rather you give us kerb and guttering than removing a word in National Anthem (‘Anthem must be changed: councillor’, Herald,27/6), we have only been waiting 40 years.

Terry Elwis,ArgentonREGARDING the controversy about the quality or lack of in today’smilk, it is possible at a major supermarket to buy full cream milk with a thick layer of cream on top – you just need to look for it and pay a little extra.

Sandra Iceton,New Lambton HeightsTO Colin Fordham (Short Takes, 24/6): I was happy to ignore your comment of the 20th, but you insist on carrying on. No one is creating fake news. Criticism of Mr McCloy’s donations, yes plural, appeared on this page and in social media. I remember responding to one letter after he donated to a cyclone-ravaged island to our north. You can believe what you choose. In any case my original comment referred only to the larger donation, not the countless smaller ones.

Dave McTaggart,EdgeworthTHE bride and I, it seems, are starting to feel the weight of advancing years.Three NRL games, one after the other, on a Saturday are starting to take their toll. We’re having trouble goingthe distance.

Ron Elphick,Buff PointI WONDER how long it will take politicians (federal and state) to get tenders out for the sale of the Great Barrier Reef.Deloitte have come up with $56 billion“total asset value” of the World Heritage site.That figure must excite our asset sell-off governments.

Jim Weston,Raymond TerraceNEXT time you get a parking fine for running into a shop quickly, try to comprehend why a Newcastle City Council road crew truck can park in a no stopping zone at 7.45am to get a pie at Merewether for 10 minutes. It was also close to a Stop sign. I have the pictures including the number plate. Who do I send these toto get the name of the driver to send the fine?

Mark Dultry,MerewetherI FIND it incomprehensible that people believe we have too much carbon (dioxide) in the atmosphere. Google tells me there is less than four hundredths of one per cent. It is probably an excuse for a free holiday in Paris for ‘scientists’ who agree.

Don Johnson, BelmontTHE POLLSWILL you avoid the Newcastle CBD once construction starts?

No 63.45%,Yes 36.55%WHICH leader most annoys you?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 54.9%, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian 45.1%

Taylor Swift will be bringing a gender studies lecturer to her sexual assault trial

An American DJ accused of groping Taylor Swift is looking to exclude the expert evidence of a gender studies lecturer which alleged he would have been prompted to react after Swift challenged his “masculine status”.
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David Mueller, who was fired from Denver radio station KYGO FM after Swift’s team complained about his behaviour at a 2013 meet and greet event, has filed a motion to bar the testimony of Dr Lorraine Bayard de Volo, a gender studies lecturer at the University of Colorado when the matter returns to court in August.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, de Volo’s report hypothesises that Mueller’s alleged actions would be consistent with a challenge to his masculinity by Swift’s confident presence, as well as her not paying enough attention to him, instead talking to his girlfriend and then co-worker, Shannon Melcher.

“In Mr. Mueller’s description of the events, though Ms. Swift was cold and standoffish with him, she had a positive rapport with Ms. Melcher that included hugging and compliments,” de Volo writes,

“Mr. Mueller said that he felt ‘invisible’ in the shadow of his girlfriend… Given that idealised masculinity entails dominance, leadership, authority, and assertiveness, this encounter would register as a blow to his sense of masculinity.”

She goes on to state that “motives for sexual harassment and sexual assault boil down to protection or assertion of status, including efforts to boost or repair an ego, get retribution, humiliate, intimidate, or (in cases of high-status women) invert a power imbalance between target and harasser”.

Mueller is attempting to have the report excluded, arguing de Volo is not a trained psychologist and has never met him.

Swift is pursuing a counterclaim against Mueller, after he sued her in September 2015 claiming he was fired from his job following an incident between the pair at Denver’s Pepsi Centre two years earlier, where it is alleged Mueller placed his hand up Swift’s skirt while the pair were being photographed.

In addition to his claim for lost income, Mueller is also bringing a claim against Swift for slander.

Swift counterclaimed for sexual assault and battery a month later.

In Mueller’s lawsuit he alleges he later spoke to an unnamed co-worker who “described and demonstrated how he had put his arms around [Swift], hands on her bottom” when it was his turn to meet the singer.

After the incident, Swift’s team provided “evidence” to Denver’s KYGO FM regarding the incident, and Mueller was fired in an “independent decision”, Peoplereported.

In October last year, the court made public a videotaped deposition by Swift in which she recounts her emotions during the alleged attack.

“I remember being frantic, distressed, feeling violated in a way I had never experienced before,” she says. “A meet-and-greet is supposed to be a situation where you’re thanking people for coming, you’re supposed to be welcoming people into your home, which is the arena for that day, and for someone to violate that hospitality in that way, I was completely stunned.”

Fairfax Media

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Government rejects ‘fallible’ Ken Henry’s attack on big banks levy

The government has hit back at Ken Henry after the NAB chairman and former Treasury secretary lashed the government’s $6.2 billion bank levy and criticised its lack of consultation with the banks.
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In comments published on Tuesday, Dr Henry said the new tax on Australia’s big four retail banks and investment giant Macquarie Bank was a burden on their capital reserves, and the government should be honest about the cost being passed onto consumers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC radio the banks should not pass the extra costs onto customers.

“He knows as well as I do that the banks can well afford to pay this,” Mr Turnbull said.

“I can see there’s obviously complaints about it from the big banks – you’d expect that – but it’s very similar to levies of this kind in other countries.”

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said Mr Henry’s criticisms were unfounded and the banks had more than sufficient cash buffers to absorb the costs.

“Ken Henry is certainly well-intentioned. However, he’s also not infallible,” Mr Ciobo told ABC radio on Tuesday morning.

“Ken Henry, of course, designed the first iteration of the mining tax, which would have seen taxpayers refunding coal miners and iron-ore miners for losses in recent years, so I think there’s some policy work historically that hasn’t been ideal.”

Mr Ciobo said the five banks had enjoyed substantial profits and were being asked to make a “modest contribution” to the government’s effort to return the budget to surplus, which he described as pragmatic in the face of the Senate’s opposition to spending cuts.

“Big bank boss Ken Henry says, ‘don’t have us pay more tax’,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said.

“It is hardly a surprising headline. Ken Henry is welcome to his view but Australians know the very modest levy we put in place on the banks is a fair levy.”

The ability of banks to respond to future fast-moving financial shocks could be undermined by the government’s $6.2 billion bank tax, several of the country’s largest lenders have claimed.

In submissions to Treasury reported by Fairfax on Monday, banks argued the budget’s levy would work against efforts for lenders to build up more liquid, or easy-to-sell assets, designed to help banks cope through a period of turmoil.

Also on Monday, ANZ Bank’s chief executive Shayne Elliott told a shareholder conference it was “largely a nonsense” to say banks could “absorb” the levy, as the government has argued.

“Without action on our part, this is a tax on you – our shareholders,” he told the Australian Shareholders Association.

Dr Henry, who advised Australian governments for three decades, told The Australian Financial Review the bank tax was “very hurriedly put together” and called for a review of the financial system.

The Australian reported that Dr Henry was demanding a full public inquiry into the new levy.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten backed an inquiry, saying Labor wants “to make sure the belt and braces are there, to make sure the protections are there”.

“Financial institutions have been given two business days to consult before the legislation is rushed out,” he said. “What has come out of the consultation is that it was very hurriedly put together.”

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Jack and Margaretha’s $5 million property plan to be stay at home parents

Six properties at 24: From housing commission to property investorHow a 28-year-old investor used Uber to help him buy six propertiesHow a 20-year-old bought three investment properties: His seven steps to get started
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Corporate IT worker Jack Chen, 32, and his wife Margaretha have spent the past eight years buying properties across Sydney and Brisbane.

But their ultimate aim isn’t to reach 100 properties or live a life of luxury. Instead, they want to be able to start a family and stay at home together.

The Hills District couple already have enough equity and rental income from their nine properties to be able to retire provided they keep their living costs in check.

“We plan to start a family very soon and want the flexibility for [us as] Mum and Dad to be full-time, stay-at-home carers,” Jack said.

Already, they have managed to take off seven months of work to travel and Jack recently reduced his hours to part-time to look into other interests, including mortgage broking.

???

When he graduated university, Jack looked into managed funds and share trading as ways to increase his wealth.

“The only thing that really stuck was property,” he said.

In his second year out of university in 2007, after saving a deposit, Jack bought a two-bedroom walk-up flat in Marrickville for $307,000.

This was his first foray into property investing – he sold it in 2012 for $456,000 after some renovations and used the proceeds to pay down other debt.

“In hindsight I should have kept it, as it would be easily worth $800,000 today,” he said.

The rest of the couple’s portfolio-building began in 2009. Margaretha bought an apartment in Eastwood for $352,000 as her first home and claimed the $14,000 grant before living in the property for a year. Together, they painted and renovated with a $2500 budget.

While they lived in the home, they saved as diligently as possible.

“Every time we built up enough of a deposit, we bought the next [property],” Jack said.

A year later they bought and moved into a Belmore apartment for $217,000 with a 20 per cent deposit. They kept the Eastwood unit, renting it out as the first step of their investment portfolio.

This buy-and-hold strategy is at the cornerstone of their financial planning.

“Once we got married and combined finances, we were able to buy much more frequently and at the same time aggressively pay down debt in our principal residence,” Jack said.

While living in the Belmore apartment and spending about $1000 on cosmetic improvements, they managed to buy a Homebush West unit in March 2010 for $343,500 that they renovated with a $4500 budget before putting it up for rent.

By the end of 2010, they were ready to upgrade into a house – buying in Baulkham Hills for $658,500 and spending $9000 on renovations – and put their Belmore apartment on to the rental market.

After a few years of saving, by 2013 they bought their last Sydney investment property – an apartment in Guildford for $345,500.

Sydney then became too expensive for investment, as prices began to soar and rental yields fell.

Their portfolio was growing significantly in value, but to expand they had to look elsewhere.

Queensland quickly came on to the radar due to its relative affordability, strong rental yields and likely prospects for growth. Using a buyer’s agent to scope out opportunities, in 2014 they bought two houses in Zillmere, Brisbane, for $430,000 and $374,000, undertaking undertook minor improvements for $5000 and $5500.

After another two years of Sydney property market growth, they no longer had to save but rather could use the equity from their portfolio. There was “no looking back”.

In February 2017, they bought a house in Boronia Heights, Logan City, south of Brisbane. They are currently settling on a house in Loganlea, also in Logan City, bought in April.

With this portfolio, and dabbling in some shares investing, the couple have high hopes they will be prepared to give their children a very different life experience.

“Around the time the kids hit toddler age, we plan to rent out [our home] and travel the world together as a family for years on end,” Jack said.

They have close to $2.5 million worth of equity in the portfolio, which cost them about $3.4 million to buy. Jack estimates the value of the portfolio at about $5.2 million. This means they still have around $2.7 million in property debt.

When including their shares portfolio into their debt calculations, this brings it up to $3.1 million.

They’ve also started converting some of the loans to principal and interest to start paying down this debt – part of a risk management strategy they’re putting in place. They also have insurances and buffers in case of vacancies and are prepared to lower their rents significantly if needed.

Having tracked their living expenses together, which total $40,000 a year, Jack said they could take equity out of the portfolio and turn it into dividend income through shares. He estimates that would provide $75,000 a year – enough to stop working.

But until then, he’s going to continue to build his portfolio and pay down debt, anticipating they’ll be able to pay off their non-deductible debt on their Baulkham Hills home over the next three months.

Jack hopes to teach his children about property investing: “I fully expect that the Monopoly board game will be a family favourite.”???

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Insurers forced to display savings under new fire levy rules

The way fire and emergency services are funded in NSW is changing. Photo: Adam WrightNSW insurance companies will be forced to show the price a customer paid for the previous year’s property insurance on renewal notices from July 1 under reforms to how fire and emergency services are funded.
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The rule is designed to provide transparency in the savings insurers are expected to pass onto customers when a levy used to fund fire and emergency services in NSW is removed from insurance policies in favour of a new property-based tax.

The requirement will be announced by former corporate regulator Professor Allan Fels during a public inquiry into NSW insurers at state Parliament on Tuesday.

Professor Fels has been appointed by the NSW government as Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor to ensure that insurance companies pass on savings to customers.

The monitor is charged with ensuring insurers drop residential insurance premiums by up to 20 per cent and can apply penalties of up to $10 million to companies breaking the rules.

It says insurers have been compelled to attend the public inquiry to answer questions about how they price their insurance policies ahead of the change.

“Today’s inquiry is firstly and foremost about accountability,” Professor Fels said.

“It’s a good opportunity for insurers to show what they are doing and how they plan to do the right thing by their customers when the [emergency services levy] is removed on July 1.

“The removal of the Emergency Services Levy from insurance policies should not be used to restore or increase insurer profit margins.”

A spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia said insurers “will do the right thing by NSW consumers as they did in Victoria when that jurisdiction removed its Fire Services Levy in 2013”.

“Insurers are aware of the Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor’s expectations [of the requirement to list the previous year’s price] and are seeking to comply at short notice,” he said.

“This was only made formal in a notice gazetted last Friday. It was previously a best-practice recommendation contained in a guideline that the Emergency Services Levy Insurance Monitor issued late last year.”

From July 1, NSW property owners will be charged the new Fire and Emergency Services Levy based on land value determined by the NSW Valuer-General.

The government has estimate the average levy will be $185 but the change is angering many property owners who will pay much more under the new regime.

OpinionUniversity has new brand, but the same old issues

DISILLUSIONED: “Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and continued attacks on one undermine both.”
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Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, but is rebranding the last hope of a management that has lost its way? With great ceremony and reportedly costing more than $1million, the University of Newcastle (UON) this week launched its brand: The world needs new.

But consider what’s going behind the scenes. All eyes are instead on the Professional Staff Review, widely understood to be proposingup to170 imminent job cuts.

Recommendationsfrom the external consultant hired to undertake the reviewwere due to be announced in April, but the review is seemingly in disarray: promisedweekly updates for staff dried up without explanation around six weeks ago, and reports suggest that the consultant has now disappeared from campus. UON hasrefusedto reveal the ongoing cost of the review. The $25million price for a recent similar review at the University of NSW is worrying.Another external consultant has reportedly been hired to oversee the resultant organisational change. It appears senior management is now outsourcing management.

The seeming disarray is also evident in senior management walking away mid-review. The head of human resources will leave UON next month. Further, the university’s head lawyer is away on extended leave, and despite this week’s launch of a new brand, the marketing director has also recently resigned. Surely an indicator ofgoodmanagement would be to have human resources,legal, and marketingteams in place at a time of the proposedmajor restructure and associatedmassive job cuts.

All the signs are there that the university is seeking significant financial savings through this process, and hence significant productivity increases from all remaining staff. References to improving our ‘agility, effectiveness and efficiency in a changing higher education landscape’ are received by staff for what they are – tired, empty slogans borrowed from spin doctors across the sector to try to justify cost-cutting and work intensification.

The negative impact of several years of poorly communicated, endless ‘restructuring’, and formalistic ‘consultation’ with staff and their union, after decisions have been made, has to stop. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and continued attacks on one undermine both.No amount of rebranding can paper over that.

Meanwhile, a number of additional, significant issues remain unresolved. The university continues to channel money to Broadspectrum, complicit in human rights abuses at the Manus and Nauru detention camps. This is despite two years of overwhelming opposition from students, staff and others, and despite recently adopting an ‘Ethical Framework’ for decision-making that claims UON aspires ‘to deserve the trust and good opinion of the communities we serve’ and be ‘accountable for the choices we make’. Really? How is management holding itself ‘accountable’ for continuing to associate the university with ongoing human rights abuses?

Last year’s Your Voice survey of staff produced devastating evidence of staff disillusionment with senior management– particularly how they handle change.Senior management may not like that staff are disillusioned with their performance,but responding with more spin and diversion, rather than substance and transparency, will only further damage this important public institution.

Associate Professor Tom Griffiths is president of the Newcastle Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union.

Will & Grace tease comeback season with musical trailer

The gang’s back and they have a simple message in the new first-look at Will & Grace’s comeback season: “Everything’s as if we never said goodbye.”
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The epic five-and-a-half minute trailer, launched by network NBC during this week’s “upfronts”, plays like its own mini episode, with star Eric McCormack (Will) attempting to convince a reluctant Debra Messing (Grace) the reboot is a good idea, despite her cold feet and Twitter priorities.

The clincher is a backstage visit to the sitcom’s iconic set, where castmates Sean Hayes (Jack) and Megan Mullally (Karen) are already positioned in character, martinis in-hand, leading to a Broadway-esque musical number.

“We’ll have must-see primetime madness, This Is Us should be our lead-in,” they sing, a sly in-joke at NBC’s loaded fall ratings schedule.

“Well, that was gay,” says McCormack, as the singalong ends and confetti pops.

The series, returning for a 12-episode revival, originally wrapped in 2007 – its finale aired locally on Channel Seven – following eight seasons that netted 16 Emmys and a handful of GLAAD Awards for its groundbreaking focus on openly gay characters.

The cast reunited for a 10-minute special last September, urging Americans to vote in the US election, testing the waters for a full-scale reboot which was confirmed this January.

Alongside the cast, the new series also brings back the show’s creative team, including writers and creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan and veteran director James Burrows, who helmed every episode of the show’s original run.

The series will premiere in the States around September, with a local broadcaster yet to be confirmed. Did somebody say encore?! #WillAndGrace is back this fall on @NBC. pic.twitter南京夜网/uKOxtYGJCP??? Will & Grace (@WillAndGrace) May 15, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Blunder could leave thousands without driver’s licence

Michael Bounds, 75, has had his driver’s licence revoked despite having a medical condition deemed as safe by his specialist. Photo: Steven SiewertIt’s the time away from his grandchildren that angers Mike Bounds the most about having his driver’s licence revoked.
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The 75-year-old can no longer drive to visit his two youngest grandkids after he received a letter saying he was unfit to drive due to having an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The aneurysms, which are balloon-like swellings of arteries, can cause sudden death if they burst, which is why people who have them require a 12-month conditional licence.

But if the aneurysms are under about five centimetres or are repaired, they pose no danger.

Mr Bounds, a retired widower who lives in Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, has one that has been repaired and assessed as safe by his specialist.

He said being told he was unable to drive despite this had left him feeling isolated, lonely and frustrated.

“The simplest things now become seriously complicated,” he said.

“Socialising with friends ceases to happen; getting to watch grandchildren grow up is limited; picking up a coffee and talking to people at our local village shops, no more.”

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery has called for an urgent ministerial review of the national licensing guidelines.

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery has called for an urgent ministerial review of the national licensing guidelines. Photo: Louie Douvis

Its president, Dr Bernie Bourke, said there were more than 18,000 Australians with repaired aneurysms who could be in the same position due to incorrect wording that stated they were unfit to drive.

He estimated up to a further 70,000 people with abdominal aortic aneurysms might one day be in the same situation.

“The problem is that people are having licences taken away because the licensing authorities are misinterpreting the ambiguous standards,” said Dr Bourke, who is also Mr Bounds’ specialist.

“To deny driving licences to these patients is as ludicrous as denying a patient who has had successful treatment of a fractured leg.”

Dr Bourke said he had been told the National Transport Commission was investigating the issue, but he remained concerned as new guidelines were published on average only every four years.

The most recent guidelines, which inform state licence authorities such as VicRoads in Victoria and Roads and Maritime Services in NSW, were published in 2016.

He wants ministerial intervention to speed up the process.

“Patients are being unnecessarily and seriously inconvenienced,” Dr Bourke said.

“These patients are often in the older age bracket but are perfectly fit to drive. They may live alone …or they may have a spouse for whom they care.”

A National Transport Commission spokesman said it had written to each state’s licensing authority on Tuesday asking them to issue licences for drivers with repaired abdominal aortic aneurysms.

He said they were also seeking to change the guidelines in consultation with the vascular surgery society but it would need ministerial approval.

Meanwhile, Mr Bound is spending thousands on a lawyer to appeal the decision in June.

He said he was grateful for his mental strength but worried how others would cope in his situation.

“I can see how it would make you depressed,” he said. “Other people might say, ‘What’s the point?’ “

Transport Minister Darren Chester declined to comment.

John Oliver roasts New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English

John Oliver has lobbed a giant, comedic grenade at New Zealand – or, as he prefers to call it, “wallaby f— island”.
Nanjing Night Net

Australia’s neighbour drew the Last Week Tonight host’s ire after its Prime Minister Bill English remarked that Oliver wasn’t very funny.

The British comedian took no time in firing back, using the most recent episode of his show to label the National Party leader the “very poorest man’s Daniel Craig”.

“Bill English must know the moment he mentioned my name I was going to immediately find the stupidest, most humiliating things about him that I could,” Oliver said. “Because when it comes to Kiwis, Johnny don’t play.”

The comedian then launched straight into a rant where he called the New Zealand PM a “masturbating cyborg”, before mocking an “indescribably lame” exercise video English recently put on Facebook.

In the video, the politician describes how his exercise routine involves walking uphill and running down the “downhill bits”.

“After seeing that, I would give anything for Bill English to make a sex tape,” Oliver joked, taking aim at the PM’s monotone narrating skills.

However, the best was saved for last. Oliver – unsurprisingly – brought up last month’s now-infamous pizza post that generated headlines all around the world.

The post showed the New Zealand PM taking a selfie, along with a snap of some pizzas he cooked for his family with a controversial ingredient – tinned spaghetti.

“I think I speak on behalf of all humanity when I say, no!” Oliver shouted. “Hard no there, Bill. I do not agree with canned spaghetti on a pizza because that is not a thing anyone should be doing. A divorced dad cooking for his kids on the weekend would not put canned spaghetti on a pizza.”

The skit then concluded with Oliver listing several other pizzas English would probably enjoy, including one made with “skittles, baking soda and condoms”.

English has reportedly not seen Oliver’s latest skit, but has said the publicity can only be good for New Zealand.

It is not the first time Oliver has taken aim at the country and its politics. Last year, the British comedian performed a skit involving two giant penises after finance minister Steven Joyce was hit by a flying sex toy during a press conference.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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