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Parramatta auto alley gets new life as $225m mixed precinct

Monday, 30 July, 2018

Parramatta is throwing down the gauntlet to the rest of Sydney after the green light was given to a $225 million mixed-use project to revamp the rundown former Auto Alley in Church Street.
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It is part of the $876 million South Quarter development by the Dyldam??? group which will add to the $6 billion-plus transformation of the Parramatta CBD.

Developer Dyldam bought the former Heartland Holden car yard site from the Turner family for $150 million in 2015 and the City West Joint Regional Planning Panel Parramatta approved the masterplan in 2016, with the development expected to coincide with the widening of Church Street, featuring new cycle lanes and tree planting.

It will be the amalgamation of three separate sites, 57, 63 and 83 Church Street to create the new southern gateway to Parramatta, comprising five residential and commercial buildings, featuring an international branded hotel and community park with artworks.

Designed by architects Allen Jack + Cottier, Turner and Oculus, the development is expected to activate the southern side of Parramatta City, an area often overlooked as the construction boom takes place in the centre of the city. There are 15 cranes on Parramatta’s skyline, according to the latest Rider Levett Bucknall??? crane index, compared to 13 in the commercial sector of central Sydney.

GPT recently unveiled a $230 million office tower. Charter Hall, Walker Corporation and the Scentre??? Group are also developing new towers in the area for tenants including KPMG, Western Sydney University and government departments.

In the latest office market report from the Property Council of Australia, for the first six months of 2017, there was a zero vacancy rate for A Grade office space in Parramatta and that the total vacancy rate for office space was 4.3 per cent. This compares to the 5.9 per cent vacancy rate in the Sydney CBD.

Fayad Fayad, chief operating officer of Dyldam, said there is strong interest from commercial tenants in the private and public sector “as we have state of the art office accommodation, a range of bars and restaurants, as well as retailers, including fresh grocers”.

“We expect to soon announce a major hotel chain will manage the hotel on site, located a short walk from the major transport links of Parramatta”, Mr Fayad said.

Given the demand for office space, Dyldam and GPT are building the properties without having locked in an anchor tenant.

According to Savills, to date the NSW government has pre-committed to more than 87,000 sq m of space with more than 5800 department jobs expected to move from the CBD. Pre-committing to 4 Parramatta Square, being developed by Walker Corporation, are the Department of Planning and Environment, the Office of Environment and Heritage, the Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. The move is set to occur in the first half of 2019.

Other commitments include the Department of Education at the Dexus development at 105 Phillip Street, for 25,500 sq m of A-grade office space, which is expected be delivered early next year.

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

Curious mix at Maitland

Monday, 30 July, 2018

HIGH-IMPACT: See Fiona Foley’s photographs at Maitland Regional Art Gallery.
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MAITLAND Regional Art Gallery has at the moment six individual exhibitions, not including the long-running gift collection of Lionel Lindsay’s prints.

The current exhibitions all extend into October, apart from Derek Kreckler’s innovative photomedia finishing on Sunday.

Kreckler is formidably original, with a body of curious work extending back many years. In Maitland a wall-filling augmented video threatens to dump us in the surf, if not drown us. A blind Ned Kelly struggles through the scrub, with a witnessing kangaroo.

A family’s discarded newspapers are pulped and moulded into bricks for an imposing ziggurat in an elegy for lost trees.

Cyclists are filmed negotiating a tricky course. Refrigerators dangle from trees.

Clearly there are myriad issues, histories, techniques, jokes and intellectual inquiry.

Also downstairs is a corridor of high-impact photographs by indigenous artist Fiona Foley, who took this series of costumed Afro-American fellow students while on a residency in New York. Their pointed hoods are black, but they certainly reference the Ku Klux Klan. Their garments are made from bright African cloth. Their glittering eyes confront us uncomfortably. In the present context it is hard to see this powerful band not only as ironic comment on racism, but also invoking the terrorism nightmare. A splendid addition to the Maitland collection.

Upstairs Anne-Maree Hunter demonstrates that printmaking can expand in many dimensions. For years her classic etchings and lithographs have appeared in galleries and exhibitions. Here she stretches her range into sculptural projects, with inventively augmented old books, intricately folded new ones, updated songlines and miniature modelled landforms, (including Uluru), housed in precious jewellery boxes.

An overarching presence is the map, global or celestial, but also including Gregory’s Sydney street directory. There are maps as arbitrary patterning, editorial statement and built up in three dimensions. There are travel diaries and fashion statements, all meticulously fabricated.

In the adjoining room is a musical offering constructed by Sylvia Ray of resonant female body parts moulded in clay. There are many breasts, kneecaps, violin-shaped backs, lips, fingers, hands and pregnant bellies, all equipped with drumsticks to assault them with. The sounds are melodious and attractive, but does this apparently playful violence against women’s bodies challenge our feminist sensibilities? Perhaps we should be invited to jangle some male dangles?

Also at Maitland are two exhibitions keeping faith with the gallery’s commitment to its community. Works mainly on paper have been selected from high schools up into the Hunter Valley to reveal the diversity and power of classroom-based artmaking.

We anticipate vigorous originality from younger children, so it is good to see seriously creative artmaking from often-reticent teenagers. A congregation of small basic clay figures captures the uncanny power of the gaze just as the warehouse of similar figures, famously amassed by British superstar Antony Gormley, transfixed us several years ago at a Biennial.

In the upstairs corridor are watercolours and mixed media by Maitland artists Gaye Shields and Julie Hosking celebrating local scenes and simple pleasures.

REFINED MUSINGSTHE distinction between sewing and drawing is increasingly porous. Margaret Adams is one of many artists who use textile techniques for linear artmaking. Her exhibition at Timeless Textiles until September 10 demonstrates that she also has a refined feeling for texture in many small works evoking memories and musings.

Both Timeless Textiles and the Lock-Up next door have significant exhibitions scheduled for the coming months, with Timeless Textiles showing artists from New Zealand and the United States as well as a solo show in November for Judy Hooworth, a local textile artist with a distinguished international presence.

All these shows were programmed long before the nodule of galleries at the beach end of Hunter Street came to realise how close they would be to the Super Cars.

The main entrance to the racetrack will be directly outside their doors. Access and parking problems are already having a serious impact on visitor numbers.

The galleries will be closed on the race weekend. However, Anne Kempton is determined to continue both her exhibitions plus the regular workshops with Newcastle’s dedicated textile enthusiasts who will surely find ways and means of reaching the gallery.

‘Can’t be destroyed’: Heritage listing for caves puts a stopper in dam proposal

Monday, 30 July, 2018

The spectacular Cliefden Caves in central west NSW have been granted state heritage listing, almost certainly sparing them from a dam proposed for the region.
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The caves, located on private land about 60 kilometres south-west of Bathurst, are known for their Ordovician-era fossils dating back about 460 million years, said Graham Quint, director of advocacy for the NSW division of the National Trust of Australia. The listing covers about 1550 hectares.

Wednesday’s formal gazetting of the karst cave network on the state’s register means it has “the highest level of protection you can have in NSW – it can’t be destroyed”, Mr Quint said.

“The caves contain fossils which are recognised not only in NSW but internationally,” Gabrielle Upton, the environment minister, said. “It’s great to be able to acknowledge the caves’ significance with NSW heritage status.”

The Coalition government has been examining options for a dam in the area, with one proposed for the Cranky Rock area over the Belubula River nearby.

A spokesman for WaterNSW said it was “currently evaluating potential solutions aimed at improving water security in that region of central west NSW”.

“The environment and the significance of the caves have always been important considerations in any analysis of potential water security infrastructure options,” he said.

“It’s just a really silly area to build a dam,” Mr Quint said. “No one knows where the limestone ends up – so it’s probably not a good place to put [one].”

According to the government, the network includes more than 100 recorded caves, almost as many karst features, a rare thermal spring, and is home to 15 confirmed species of microbats.

“The fossils include the world’s oldest known in-situ brachiopod shell beds, some of the earliest-known rugose corals in the geological record, and [in the overlying Malongulli Formation] one of the most diverse deep-water sponge faunas ever recorded,” the Office of Environment and Heritage states. “Many genera and species of fossils are unique to the area.”

Harry Burkitt, secretary of the Save Cliefden Caves Association, described the listing on the NSW Heritage Register as “fantastic news” that would protect the natural treasure for future generations.”The community has been pushing for a heritage listing on the caves since the nomination was made by the National Trust in 2014, and we congratulate the minister and Heritage Council on their decision,” he said.

Nationals Party members in the region are likely to be less happy, after its state conference in May called for more dam construction in the state.

“Without dams, and conserving water, we have no future,” the Blayney Chronicle reported Max Swift of the Nationals party’s Forbes branch as saying in May. “So for God’s sake get on with it. Who cares about ‘this frog’ or ‘that bat’ and all this sort of rubbish that goes on.”

According to the National Trust, George Evans was the first European to find the caves in 1815, just two years after the first Blue Mountains crossings by colonial explorers.

A well-preserved skeleton of an aboriginal man, who apparently died by falling into a cave, has been dated at more than 7000 years old.

The networks also served as a hideout for bushrangers, including Ben Hall, who raided the Cliefden property in 1863.

“According to the locals at the time, Hall used these caves as a refuge from pursuing police, and knew one so well that ‘he ducked into it and emerged on the other side of the river, leaving the pursuing constables far behind!,'” the National Trust said.

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

Flatlining Malcolm Turnbull can still win. Here’s how

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Amid so much anger and disruption, the only agreed fact is that politics remains unpredictable.
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It’s a hell of a time to be in power. Relative to their electors, democratic governments have never looked so weak, so low in standing, so easily disposable.

The Coalition government is beset on all sides: subject to global forces beyond its control, and captive to the mistakes it has made on the matters it can influence.

In the first category, the world has edged closer to a thermonuclear exchange than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis 55 years ago.

In the second, Australia is experiencing what University of New South Wales law professor George Williams noted this week was the most profound constitutional uncertainty since the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.

To voters, the Parliament is a shambles.

The government’s outlook is bleak. Yet Turnbull himself continues to see the bright side even with the stakes this high. High Court high.

If the bench rules against his oddly unlegislated same-sex marriage survey, and against the validity of his “triple double” (three cabinet ministers with two countries each) Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership can be expected to continue draining away, ending in ignominy.

But if, as the legal advice informing Turnbull’s bullish demeanour suggests, things go well, the 29th prime minister may be in a strong enough position 12 months from now to be plotting an unlikely win in 2019.

He is banking on it. So let’s consider his best case scenario.

Imagine that the High Court upholds the executive’s power to stage the plebiscite, and that the public in turn, goes on to participate strongly, delivering a decisive “yes” verdict.

Turnbull says a private members’ bill would be presented before year’s end and would “sail through” the Parliament. Licketty-split.

Clearly there are many ifs and buts including the increasingly disreputable attempts by reactionaries to grant religions the right to ignore the law.

Nonetheless, the issue would be solved by Christmas, a thorn in Turnbull’s side, removed.

Assume also that Turnbull’s confidence in the electoral validity of his ministers is well placed. That will be known in October, and thus could also be old news by Christmas.

So, by October it could be ministers safe and plebiscite under way. (Turnbull’s fate would still turn on a positive survey – a negative outcome would merely prolong the agitation)

That only leaves the other promise Turnbull gave to conservatives to prise them off Tony Abbott’s leadership: energy policy.

Turnbull’s preferred solution is the 50th recommendation from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s national electricity market review. He wants a clean energy target of sorts settled by cabinet by Christmas also.

This is easier said than done but if he can find a way to resolve the impasse and provide investment certainty in electricity, while keeping his party united, Turnbull will head into 2018 with a fighting chance of recovery.

Sure, it doesn’t fix the braggadocio between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, but there’s always hope.

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

Morrison’s socialism attack ’embarrassing’: Labor

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers a speech at the Bloomberg office in Sydney. Photo: Paul MillerLabor’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has labelled Scott Morrison’s attack on “red” Bill Shorten embarrassing, accusing the Turnbull government of having no future policy direction.
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The Treasurer charged the opposition with “economic time travel” on Thursday, by leading what he claims is the most left-wing Labor movement Australia has seen in generations.

“The neo-socialists in the Labor party have joined forces with the cynical opportunists to create quite a deadly faction and they are running the Labor Party and if Bill Shorten gets to slither into the Lodge then this will be wreaked on Australia,” he told reporters after his Bloomberg Address in Sydney.

Mr Bowen accused Mr Morrison of having nothing positive to say about the future of the country, following the attack on Labor. It is the second in as many weeks as part of a broader Coalition strategy that imagines a socialist Australia with Mr Shorten in charge.

“The latest round of Liberal Party focus on Bill Shorten is beyond embarrassing,” Mr Bowen said. “It’s telling the Australian people a year into the term that they’ve stopped governing.”

As both sides exchanged political barbs, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released positive economic news on Thursday.

One of the key building blocks of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, due to be released next week, defied economists’ predictions in producing better than expected results.

The Bureau’s private capital expenditure survey for the three months to June suggests strong business confidence could soon produce more investment.

According to Commsec economist Craig James, the economy will see the biggest lift in planned investment in seven years, with businesses pencilling in a 17.6 per cent rise from April next year.

Total new capital expenditure grew by 0.8 per cent, beating economists’ predictions of a 0.2 per cent rise.

In a sign the drag on the economy created by the end of the mining boom may finally be waning, the size of the investment drop-off has become smaller and smaller.

“Mining capital expenditure has fallen in every quarter of the past three years,” said Capital Economics chief economist Paul Dales.

“But at least the size of the falls are smaller than the double-digit declines in 2015/16, so mining is exerting a smaller drag on GDP growth.”

Mr Morrison said he was optimistic the end of the mining boom’s long tail would finally see a pay rise for Australians battling through historically low wage growth.

“As [Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe] said in his recent Parliamentary testimony: “If labour markets are strong, eventually workers will get bigger pay rises.”

Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton said the Reserve Bank would be pleased with Thursday’s result.

“The labour market has improved, the outlook for non???mining business is looking a lot better and there is a solid pipeline of public infrastructure spending still to come,” she said.

“The final piece of the puzzle to watch for now when thinking about the timing of future rate hikes is wages growth and inflation.”

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

Hinch citizenship referral a ‘waste of time’

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House Canberra on Thursday 22 June 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Senator Derryn Hinch at Parliament House Canberra on Thursday 22 June 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares
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Independent senator Derryn Hinch will attempt to refer himself to the High Court over fears he may be ineligible to sit in Parliament but not even his biggest opponents think he has a case to answer.

Senator Hinch told reporters in north Queensland of his plan to refer himself after it was revealed he held a social security number in the United States, and had previously received an American pension.

He confirmed he had never received United States citizenship and only received the pension after paying an additional tax for the decade he spent in America, working for Fairfax Media. He stopped the payments once he was sworn in to the Senate in 2016.

Senator Hinch said there was potential he had fallen foul of an “entitlement” clause within section 44 of the constitution and planned to have it tested in the High Court.

But his motion will struggle to receive the necessary numbers, with government sources questioning the validity of Senator Hinch’s concerns.

Labor has not considered whether or not it would support any referral motion, but a source said the party “shared the government’s view that it was a waste of time”.

Senator Hinch had planned to seek the Solicitor-General’s advice, a process which would first require writing to Attorney-General George Brandis with a request.

The seven MPs – including three government ministers – who have been found to be dual citizens each sought independent legal advice before making their referrals.

Almost 10 per cent of senators have been referred to the High Court over their eligibility to sit in Parliament. But on Thursday former prime minister John Howard called for calm.

“My view about this is nobody is to blame and I think trying to apportion blame, and people running around and saying ‘oh you knew about this’, or ‘you should have known’, I think that is silly,” he told ABC radio.

“Let’s just draw a deep breath, accept that this is a case that years ago, when the constitution was written, if you lived in Canada or Britain or New Zealand etc, you didn’t have a separate nationality, we were all subjects of the British Empire, there was no Australian nationality until 1948.

“We just have to let it work its way through and accept that the High Court will rule and whatever the High Court decides, that’s the law, because we live by the rule of law.

“But I don’t think it is a crisis for Australian democracy and I am frankly surprised people are running around trying to apportion partisan blame, I don’t think it is a case for that.”

The High Court will examine the issue in October.

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

Key Swan Tippett expects to be fit for final against Bombers

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

The AFL’s much-maligned pre-finals bye proved a speed bump for the Sydney Swans’ in 2016, but it’s set to have the opposite effect this year with ruckman Kurt Tippett confident he will recover from an ankle injury in time for the elimination final against Essendon.
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Tippett and fellow ruckman Callum Sinclair both picked up ankle injuries in Saturday’s final-round win over Carlton, the former put on ice for the last quarter in a bid to preserve him for the play-offs. Neither trained with the team on Thursday morning.

Twelve months ago the Swans entered the finals on a six-match winning run, but lost momentum during the bye week and were beaten by GWS in the first week of the finals.

Sydney could yet face a selection dilemma ahead of the Bombers clash at the SCG next Saturday, with ruckman Sam Naismith expected to return in this weekend’s NEAFL semi-final against Gold Coast after missing a month with a hip injury.

Swans head of football Tom Harley said earlier in the week that Naismith would enter the selection conversation for the Essendon game, should he successfully navigate the Gold Coast assignment.

That would potentially give Sydney three fit ruckmen to choose from.

“I’m pretty confident in the fact that my ankle will be good enough to play,” Tippett said.

“The ankle’s recovering well. It’s something that’s unfortunately been around all year and I’ve hurt it a couple of times so I certainly know what I need to do to get it right.

“It hurts a bit. It’s a bit of a shock at the time but it’s something that’s happened a few times over the course of playing a lot of sport.

“I’m certainly hoping my best football for this season is ahead of me. The last four weeks has been good and I feel like I’ve been building and feeling better each game. Hopefully my best is yet to come.”

The Swans are facing a monumental top-eight equation after finishing sixth, thanks to a remarkable run of 14 wins from their last 16 games.

Should they beat the Bombers, they will run into the loser of the Geelong-Richmond clash with a preliminary final against either Adelaide or Greater Western Sydney awaiting.

Yet the aforementioned quartet of top four teams are thinking the same thing about potentially running into the Swans.

“Depending on how results play, it looks like Sydney is the team that looks like it is going to go the whole way,” Crows defender Daniel Talia said.

“The other team is obviously GWS but if we knock them off [in the qualifying final] it gives us a good chance of not playing them [in the grand final].

“But they’re the form sides of the whole year, along with us, and I think if we’re there, it’s going to be one of those two.”

Tippett brushed off talk labelling the Swans as flag favourites.

“Are we? I don’t know, It’s not something we spend much time thinking about,” Tippett said.

“We’ve seen how fickle it is. We’ve been down the bottom and had to work our way up so we’re just concentrating on what allowed us to be a good team.

“Rewind to the start of the season and we hadn’t won a game after six rounds. It’s a big turnaround, it’s something that took a lot of effort and energy and it’s really been worth it.

“We’ve given ourselves the best chance we possibly could have.”

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New Uber chief promises change, flags IPO by 2020

Thursday, 13 June, 2019

Uber’s new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi has told employees the ride-services company will change its culture and may go public in 18 to 36 months.
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Khosrowshahi, who led travel-booking site Expedia for 12 years, made the remarks as he introduced himself to Uber’s workforce on Wednesday during an all-staff meeting at its San Francisco headquarters.

With a $US68 billion ($86 billion) valuation by private investors, Uber is the most valuable startup Silicon Valley has produced over the last decade, but funders have grown frustrated by the lack of a timeline for getting their payouts. Employees have also felt pent up, as many are compensated with options in the company.

The loose IPO timeline gives Khosrowshahi an opportunity to resolve many of the controversies facing the company. That includes litigation with Google in a major case in which Uber is accused of stealing trade secrets from Google’s self-driving car program, as well as two pending federal investigations.

On Tuesday, the company confirmed that the Department of Justice is probing whether executives broke US laws prohibiting bribery of officials in foreign countries. Uber is cooperating with the investigation, a spokesman Matt Kallman said.

Under its previous hard-charging chief executive, Travis Kalanick, Uber expanded to 77 countries in just eight years and built up a reputation for rule-breaking and for a “bro” culture that has been hostile to women and underrepresented minorities. Federal officials are also probing whether the company used special software to evade authorities in places where ride-sharing services were banned or restricted Uber ‘has to change’

“This company has to change,” Khosrowshahi told employees, according to the Twitter feed of Uber’s communications team. “What got us here is not what’s going to get us to the next level.”

Khosrowshahi said Uber needed to stabilise itself but also take what he called “big shots.”

The appointment of Khosrowshahi, who described himself as “a fighter,” comes as Uber is trying to recover from a series of crises that culminated in the ouster of its former CEO Travis Kalanick in June. It is also a key step toward filling a gaping hole in its top management that at the moment has no chief financial officer, head of engineering or general counsel.

In his first meeting with Uber employees, Khosrowshahi emphasised recruiting new talent – particularly a chief financial officer – as well as a chairman to help him run the board, according to tweets from Uber. “It’s great to meet the people making this dream come true???growing a company that’s changing the world.” [email protected]://t.co/g6LbiKs4l8pic.twitter南京夜网/4x9yNmjM3M??? Uber (@Uber) August 31, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Horn camp plays waiting game as wheels spin on Manny rematch

Monday, 13 May, 2019

American Jesse Vargas could be given the chance to get back his WBO welterweight title should Jeff Horn’s proposed rematch with Manny Pacquiao fail to come to fruition in coming months.
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Horn snatched the WBO belt from Pacquiao in a stunning win at Suncorp Stadium in July and the pair seemed set for a November 12 sequel after the Filipino fighter initially wanted to activate the rematch clause in their contract.

That fight now appears in some doubt, at least for this year, as Pacquiao wavers on committing to the fight, which could now be shuffled to a date in 2018 to fit in with his duties in the Philippine senate.

The delay stands as a source of frustration for Horn’s promotional arm, Duco Events, which have secured all of the required funding and planning for the fight to take place in the Australian spring.

Horn, meanwhile, has been back in the gym and wants to fight before the end of the year. Pacquiao remains the preferred opponent and it could yet come together in a hurry, with Top Rank’s Bob Arum heading to Manila to clarify the situation in the next week.

“Manny is deciding if he wants a rematch this year or next year. If he decides to postpone it, we will make a fight for Jeff in November against a good opponent in Brisbane,” Arum told ESPN.

“I imagine he has many duties as a senator, he is no longer a young guy and the last fight was very physical, and he may need more time to get ready for a rematch. We’ll know in the next few days.”

Horn was the winner of a controversial unanimous decision but, regardless of the verdict, he gave Pacquiao a torrid time in the ring, with both men bloodied and battered at the fight’s conclusion.

Pacquiao will be 39 in December and appears to be in no hurry to put himself through a draining training camp and brutal fight so quickly, particularly with a lead-in time of just over two months.

Financially, another Pacquiao bout would be by far the best result for Horn and his backers. But that doesn’t mean Australian fight fans would be served up a second-rate helping if the deal couldn’t be completed in time.

Arum has signalled he would find a strong welterweight opponent for Horn to take on, with that fight likely to again be in Brisbane but more likely to be at a smaller venue.

One candidate would be Californian Vargas, the man who relinquished the WBO title to Pacquiao when the future Hall of Famer came out of retirement in 2016.

Pacquiao beat Vargas ((27-2-0) in a unanimous decision in Las Vegas to steal the title, only to be upset by Horn a little over six months later in what would end up being one of the most memorable moments in Australian sport.

Vargas also fights in Arum’s Top Rank stable and doesn’t have an opponent booked for his next fight. Arum may see him as the perfect test for Horn as he eyes elite assignments in the welterweight division such as Keith Thurman and Errol Spence.

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Russell locks in more Supercars starts

Monday, 13 May, 2019

ROAD TO GLORY: Aaren Russell checks out work on the Newcastle Supercars track in Watt Street on Thursday. Newcastle driver Aaren Russell has a shock Supercars race victory on his mind after securing a deal to contestthe three Enduro Cup rounds this year.
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Russell had already locked in drives with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport at July’s Townsville 400, the Bathurst 1000 next month and the season-ending Newcastle 500 in late November.

But he will also race the Sandown 500 from September 15 to 17 andGold Coast 600 from October 20 to 22 after extending his contract this week. The deal amounts to completing the remaining Australian rounds of the Supercars series, and he could also drive at the Auckland SuperSprint in early November.

Russell, who ran near the back of the field in Townsville, said it was difficult to compete with the series frontrunners in shorter races, but anything could happen in the Enduro Cup events.

The Novocastrian was competitive at Bathurst last year with co-driver Andre Heimgartner before a busted transaxle ended their race on lap 115.

Their LDM teammates, Nick Percat and Cameron McConville, finished third.

The 26-year-old is still waiting to hear who will co-drivewith him in the Enduro Cup but is relieved to add Sandown to his program.

“It was going to be quite funny, because I was going to race Townsville, then do a couple of go-kart meetingsthen go straight into Bathurst,” he said.

“Now I have Sandown in between and a test day at Winton on Tuesdayas well.”

Russell drove around parts of the partially built Newcastle 500 track on Thursday morning and said it would be “really interesting”.

“The humps and bumps and undulations everywhere is going to be tricky, but I think that adds character to it,” he said.

“It does look a bit like a war zone, but it’s all for a good cause, not only for the round but for the town as well.

“They’re building all these roads, and hopefully they don’t have to touch them for the next 15 years.”

Russell has launched a range of supporter packs on the family’s Go-Karts-Go website, including merchandise, seats in a grandstand beside the Nobbys hairpin, hospitality in the nearby surf club and on-car sponsorship.

Opposite numbers race grand final clock

Monday, 13 May, 2019

WAIT: Lambton’s Jobe Wheelhouse playing against Edgeworth earlier this season. Picture: Jonathan CarrollThey may line upon opposite sides but Lambton skipper Jobe Wheelhouse and Edgeworth defender Aaron McLoughlin are both racing the same grand final clock.
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The injured duo are doing “allthey can” and will be “given until the last minute” to run out at McDonald Jones Stadium forSaturday night’s Northern NSW NPL decider according to Jaffas and Eaglescoaching staff.

The pair played in their respective semi-final wins on the weekend butWheelhouse has spent much of the last few days recovering from a right ankle issue in ahyperbaric chamber while McLoughlin, who has a hamstring tear, made a surprise return to the training paddock on Wednesday night.

INJURED: Edgeworth defender Aaron McLoughlin (left). Picture: Simone De Peak

“Aaron McLoughlin was back running last night [Wednesday], which surprised us,” Edgeworth coach Damian Zane told the Newcastle Herald on Thursday.

“He’s still going to be a game time decision and we’llgive him as long as possible. He deserves that and he’s a vital part ofus.”

Lambton assistant coach Scott McCarter held a similar view for Wheelhouse, who hasn’t trained but was in a similar situation leading into the Jaffas maiden grand final victory of 2014.

“Jobe is touch and go at this stage,” McCarter said.

“He’s been spending all week in the chamber and it’stoo early to say for him, but we’ll certainly give him every opportunity to make himself available.”

Grand final countdown @nplnnsw with Josh Evans @EdgeworthFC + Michael Sessions @[email protected]@[email protected]南京夜网/mTS4oINMVv

— Josh Callinan (@joshuacallinan) August 31, 2017

On Thursday both Edgeworth skipper Josh Evans and Lambton vice-captain Michael Sessions got their first close-up look at the stadium surface as the big game moves to the Broadmeadow venue for the first time.

“It’s a really big eye opener, the stadium is massive,” Sessions said.

“It should be good on Saturday night withplentyof peoplehere.”

Evans, striving for Edgeworth’s third straight minor-major premiership double, echoed those same sentiments.

“It’s absolutely brilliant to get the opportunity to play on here,” he said.

“The pitch is amazing.”

Elsewhere andMerewether won the NSW Combined High Schools open football knockout competition with a 1-0 victory over Terrigal in Sydneyon Wednesdaynight.

Merewether survived eight knockout games to lift the Puma Cup.

The state’s sports high schools played in a separate final, which Westfields won 4-1 over The Hills.

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Casual employees no answer to APS underperformance

Monday, 13 May, 2019

If a focus group of the well-intended, including a few officials, were to be convened to identify the most urgent problems in the Australian Public Service, you could bet your socks that so-called “staff under-performance” would be prominent on its list.
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It may well be a problem, but it’s of the third or fourth order and usually accompanied by whingeing inversely proportional to its seriousness. So it is unsurprising that a recent audit of eight agencies by the Australian National Audit Office found that between 0.1 and 3.1 per cent of staff were rated as “less than effective”. That may understate matters but it’s good enough to give the matter a rough dimension. Add to it the ANAO’s finding that a high proportion of those going through “structured performance assessment” have lifted their games and you’re left with a mouse that’s roared.

The ANAO report titled Managing Underperformance in the Australian Public Service was released in May this year. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this got onto the priority audit list when there are much more pressing personnel management problems.

The report is conscientious and is worth a pass grade. There are, however, shortcomings.

ONE: Critical terms are not properly explained. While the auditors say that “the key purpose of managing underperformance is to assist the employee to consistently meet the performance expectations of their job”, “underperformance” is not defined. Does it mean staff who are unsatisfactory or those who are underperforming against their potential? The drift of the report is about those whose performance is unsatisfactory and too much time is spent on how to deal with that problem rather than how to prevent it.

Underperformance is about more than those who are unsatisfactory. Indeed, the more serious problem is likely to be why those who are satisfactory are not good and why those who are good are not very good. The audit report would have been more useful if it had addressed underperformance in this broader sense. Sure that could open up a great range of things affecting staff motivation but these could be put aside in favour of an examination of the working of staff appraisal schemes and whether they are helping to improve performance. The ANAO says that it did not do this “because of ongoing work being undertaken by the Public Service Commission in???the area.” That’s a weird rule for the ANAO because it would enable any function to escape its scrutiny if an agency could say that “ongoing work was being undertaken” in it.

TWO: While the report alludes several times to the personnel management “culture” of the APS, it doesn’t dig too much into to why it is so and why formal performance management/staff appraisal schemes struggle to be effective. A part of the explanation is that positions are filled on a market basis – that is, vacancies are advertised, people apply and selections are made from the applicant pool. By contrast, in many private sector firms people’s careers are often planned using formal appraisal systems that are more robust because they are key to advancement. Career planning in the APS must take place in the context of open competitions for promotion across the entire service and often with outside advertising and where staff appraisal schemes play a lesser role and therefore have less to sustain them.

To put it another way, staff appraisal/performance management schemes are more likely to thrive when they have consequences; in the public service these are not as significant as is often the case where they’re closely linked to full-blooded career planning. In the past, attempts to bolster staff appraisal in the APS by linking it to performance pay ended up somewhere between unhelpful and disastrous. If it is not now being done, maybe it is time to have the formal results of staff appraisals made routinely available in competitions for promotions. That could help to concentrate the minds of those being appraised. It may also make the appraisers more conscientious as their assessments would be significantly exposed and they would be less able to avoid accountability.

THREE: The “key learnings” in the ANAO report do not get above what is already well known. For example, they talk about: the “need for transparent and clearly documented procedures”removing “barriers relating to support for managers” including from “human resource staff”better guidance on probationthe importance of “documenting performance gaps”establishing “the practice of more frequent and constructive feedback”, andproviding “relevant and regular training”.

So no startling new insights, rather the “learnings” say nothing more (and in some ways less) than a Management Advisory Board publication in 1992 titled The Management of Underperforming Officers in the Australian Public Service, a pithy document that seems to have escaped the attention of the auditors.

FOUR: The audit report rightly points out that unsatisfactory performance or underperformance can be the result of all sorts of things in addition to the capabilities of individuals and their willingness to work. It’s surprising therefore the first question to ask when performance is not up to the mark – “why is it so?” – doesn’t get a run in the ANAO’s “key learnings”. In many instances it’s likely that the answers have nothing to do with individual inadequacy, but are down to poor supervision, unclear specification of tasks, lack of training, inadequate equipment or facilities and so on. In these instances, procedures for dragging staff up to the mark are irrelevant as their underperformance can only be fixed by better management arrangements generally outside the capacity of individuals to remedy.

In summary, the ANAO audit on “managing underperformance” gathers together some useful information on current practices in eight agencies. On the whole it is underwhelming. In terms of what to do it says nothing new and it fluffs its discussion of some aspects. Finally, while it’s rightly suggested that procedures for “managing underperformance should be stripped of repetitive material”, the ANAO would do well to heed its advice, for this report repeats itself over and over again. A crisper and clearer document would have got its messages through more effectively.

See the ANAO’s report on underperformance here.

The Public Service Commissioner, John Lloyd, is a great worrier about staff who “underperform” and in a speech in June he’s at it again. It’s “important that poor performance is called out” he thunders, although without mentioning the ANAO report. Funny.

Mr Lloyd’s speech is mainly taken up, however, with urgent pleas for greater “workplace flexibility” which he sees as including work that is “non-ongoing, part-time [note: not permanent part-time], casual, working from home, hot desking, job shares, independent contracting and labour hire” as well as “gig and peer modes of work”, whatever that might mean.

There’s something to be said for “workplace flexibility” but the question is, flexibility for what? All too often greater flexibility degenerates into greater management powers and reduced conditions for staff.

There’s scope for using the categories of employment Mr Lloyd lists in the public service. That’s limited, however, and the vast majority of the service’s work should be undertaken by staff who are employed on what we must now call an “ongoing basis” to do work that’s also ongoing.

If Mr Lloyd is advocating, for example, more temporary, casual, independent contracting and labour hire work for its own sake, then he’s undermining the merit standards he’s supposed to be upholding and increasing the risk of underperformance. Merit assessments are of a lower order for temporary and casual employees who are likely to be less well trained and therefore less efficient and effective than “ongoing” staff, and where underperformance of the transient is “managed” in a gutless way by showing them the door at the end of their engagements. Staff of independent contractors and labour hire firms are not subject to public service merit tests and where they are undertaking work indistinguishable from that done by public servants the basis of their engagements may very well be illegal.

In his June speech, Mr Lloyd also says that a “basic requirement is effective and direct employer-employee relationships.” But why does he therefore in the same breath seemingly urge the greater use of employment arrangements that will make those relationships more attenuated? That’s not merely ironic – it’s wholly inconsistent.

The commissioner doesn’t seem to realise that the neo-liberal bus on which he’s apparently been a merry passenger for many years has run off the road, hit a brick wall and looks as if it’s about to be written off. The unrestrained neo-liberal labour market doesn’t always provide happy answers and it’s foolish to think of the public service as part of the “gig” economy, a sub-division of Uber or Airbnb whose virtues are a mixed blessing in any event.

Organisations stand a better chance of working well when they provide a sense of mutual commitment between employers and employees over the longer term. Most staff will appreciate the chance to take responsibility for a job rather than turning up to a chair whose seat has been kept hot by somebody else’s arse. Most importantly, and there is no stronger strand in employment literature, people want a degree of security in their jobs because that is critical in giving order to their lives and the lives of those dependent on them. Neo-liberal dogmas that treated people as cogs (aka “human resources” in production no different from items in ordinary commodity markets) whose unemployment could be eliminated by decreasing pay and conditions were foolish in their heyday; now they’re discredited.

The public service commissioner should lift his game. He’s right about the importance of “effective and direct employment relationships” and that’s why he should put aside his yearnings for temporary employment, labour hire, the gig economy and so on in the public service of all places which will give him what he doesn’t want.

Clarification: Last month’s column on the proposed Home Affairs behemoth said that the 1987 machinery of government changes were done “without apparent consultation at ministerial or official levels.” That is not quite true as at least some departmental secretaries were asked about prospects for the amalgamation of functions in their departments. While this consultation was not significantly apparent at the time, the suggestion that there was none was misleading.

Paddy Gourley is a former senior public servant.

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

NBN Co not going to ‘jeopardise’ taxpayer funds for Telstra: CEO

Monday, 13 May, 2019

Telstra CEO Andy Penn announcing the full year resultsPhoto Pat Scala , Melbourne , AFRThursday the 17th of August 2017 .NBN Co’s boss says it could not agree to Telstra’s securitisation program because it would not bring any value to NBN but would potentially introduce more risk.
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Telstra revealed on Wednesday that NBN Co had rejected its proposal to securitise about $5.5 billion in infrastructure payments it expects to receive from NBN Co in coming years.

Telstra shares, trading without rights to the company’s 15.5?? a share interim dividend, fell as much as 8 per cent on Wednesday. They were up 3.5?? at $3.635 on Thursday afternoon, but still down from $3.91 at the start of the week. Telstra shares have not been this low since mid-2012.

Under Telstra’s proposal, investors would have paid the telco today for bond-like access to the money it would receive from NBN Co in coming years. This would have given Telstra access to billions of dollars straight away, but would make NBN Co directly responsible for repaying the investors.

“This is really something Telstra should be dealing with,” NBN chief executive Bill Morrow said on Thursday at the release of NBN Co’s latest corporate plan.

“I can assure you there is no difference in the capital payments that we intend to make with Telstra.”

Telstra’s proposal reduced the flexibility NBN had in its deal with Telstra, introduced uncertainties and made decisions more complex, Mr Morrow added.

“If we see something that is neutral or potentially negative then we will consider it, but if it turns out that we cannot be convinced there is value or if it has some risk to it, then we are not going to do it.”

“We see an uncertain amount of risk and we are not going to jeopardise the taxpayer investment because of that.”

The latest corporate plan reaffirmed NBN Co’s goal of completing the network by 2020 for $49 billion. By mid-2018, NBN Co will have used $29.5 billion of taxpayer funding. It will then start drawing down on a $19.5 billion loan from the government that must be repaid at commercial rates.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said NBN Co had hit key targets and its completion was in sight.

“As Australia’s largest and most complex infrastructure project, the NBN has been a risky undertaking,” Senator Fifield said.

“Two years ago, when we released a three-year plan to reach three-quarters of Australians by mid-2018, the plan was derided by the then shadow communications minister as a ‘ramp up that Evil Knevil couldn’t jump’. But NBN has managed to achieve what some said was impossible.”

NBN has met predictions made in 2015 of passing 5.4 million premises by mid-2017 (it has passed 5.7 million) and activating 2.3 million premises. But it has also revised down the number to be connected by July 2018 from 9.1 million to 8.7 million.

Capital expenditure has been higher than expected at $5.8 billion rather than $5 billion, and operating expenses (including subscriber payments) were $3.7 billion compared with predictions in 2015 of $3.4 billion. However, revenue of $1 billion was $200 million more than expected.

If NBN Co needs more funding from 2021, it will have to get a loan from banks or commercial markets. By this time, it expects to have revenue of $5.4 billion but high costs will reduce this to a positive cash flow of $1 million.

NBN revised down the number of total premises to be connected by 2021 because the initial target of 11.9 million was based on inaccurate geographic data that overestimated the number of premises in Australia by 300,000. The new target is 11.6 million premises.

Labor’s communications spokeswoman, Michelle Rowland, criticised NBN’s progress, saying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised in 2013 he would deliver the NBN for $29.5 billion by the end of 2016. Mr Turnbull was opposition communications spokesman at the time.

“Today’s corporate plan confirms the NBN is now due to be complete by July 2020, at a cost of nearly $50 billion to the Australian taxpayer,” Ms Rowland said.

“That is 3?? years late, and $20 billion over budget. This joke of an NBN is not faster or cheaper, it is slower and more expensive.”

NBN Co expects about 8.6 million active connections in 2021 out of 11.6 million serviceable premises, giving it average monthly revenue of $52 per user, up from $43 today. The increase in revenue is expected to come as people move to higher speed tiers.

In the plan, NBN revealed the cost of fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) installations for the first time. This technology will cost $2900 per premise, which is $600 more than fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and cable connections, but $1500 cheaper than a fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) connection.

FTTC will be faster than FTTN because it brings fibre closer to the house. About 1 million premises in areas with Optus’ HFC cable will get FTTC instead of upgraded cable.

The government-owned entity will also start differentiating between premises that are “ready for service” and those that are “ready for connection”. There is about a six-month gap between premises declared “ready for service” and those that are “ready for connection”, which may have left consumers wondering why a premise declared ready could not yet connect.

NBN will now “aim to complete all civil works before declaring a home ready to connect and accepting an order”, according to the corporate report.

This means that of 8.7 million premises expected to be “ready for service” by July 2018, about 400,000 will still be six months from being able to connect.

“All we have done is rename ‘serviceable’ to ‘ready to connect’. We want this to be the prominent measure going forward … all we are trying to do is just clean up the language,” Mr Morrow said, adding all premises will be ready to connect by 2021.

NBN will stop spending money on FTTP by 2019. By 2021, FTTP will be available at 2 million (17 per cent of) premises, FTTN will be available at 4.6 million (39 per cent of) premises, FTTC at 1 million (8.5 per cent of) premises and upgraded HFC at 3.1 million premises(26 per cent). About 1 million people living in regional Australia will be using satellite or fixed wireless connections.

Internet activist Laurie Patton from Internet Australia called on NBN Co to increase the number of FTTC connections, calling the technology a “reasonable middle ground”.

“At least it can be upgraded down the road whereas when it comes to FTTN, it’s a case of ripping it out at great expense,” Mr Patton said.

“The way it’s going, whoever is in office in 2020 will have to deal with our biggest ever national infrastructure debacle. NBN Co will owe the government about $19 billion and within five to 10 years it will need to fund a very expensive replacement of the FTTN rollout.”

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