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Archive for May, 2019

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.

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

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.

POSSIBILITY: Wheelhouse in familiar territory

UNCERTAIN: McLoughlin feels hamstring tear

PREVIOUS: Griffiths eyes grand finale

EDGE: Rivals tip Eagles trifecta

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.