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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Storms catch Sydney off-guard | Morning Buzz

Written on February 20, 2019 at 15:18, by

Goodmorning and welcome to the Morning Buzz for Wednesday, February 8. Rain and mild highs of 26 to 27 degrees are expected across Sydney today.​
Nanjing Night Net

News BuzzSET FOR SOAKING:A house collapsed, major roads slowed to a crawl, lightning strikes closed the airport and even the Salvation Army needed emergency help as a series of intense thunderstorms drenched many parts of Sydney. And they are on the way again today.

TERROR CHARGE:A man and a woman have been charged with planning to carry out a terrorist act in Sydney. The 19-year-olds, who have been in custody since they were arrested last year, will appear in Central Local Court on Wednesday.

NO MORE FREE TRAVEL: A notorious parliamentary perk that gives retired politicians free business-class travel on the taxpayer will be scrapped under a new plank of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s crackdown on the political entitlements system.

BERNARDI SPLIT:Inside the Coalition party room itself, it’s easy to place most MPs in the “moderate” or “conservative” camps. But those labels disguise deep divisions.

MILLENNIALS LOSE FAITH:Millennials in Australia no longer consider it the “lucky country” and are less optimistic about the future than their counterparts in developing economies including the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

HIGH SPEED RAIL:High-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne would be used to decentralise Australia’s urban population and open up cheaper housing under a radical plan now endorsed by a parliamentary committee.

DEATH TAX: Young Australians should be given a grant funded by an inheritance tax on wealthy estates to help them enter the housing market, pay university fees or start a business, a senior union figure says.

Sports BuzzGIANT IN DOUBT:Marquee Giants midfielder Emma Swanson will be given a late fitness test this week as ahamstring strain threatens to further delay her AFL Women’s debut ahead of a crunch clash with competition heavyweights Carlton.

AUS v IND:Declaring Australia is capable of doing “some damage”, Australian spinner Steve O’Keefe says the right call was made to cut short his Big Bash League season and focus on red-ball cricket ahead of this month’s Test series opener against India.

Cory Bernardi hammered as a rat ahead of defection from Liberal Party

Written on February 20, 2019 at 15:18, by

1. Bernardi defects
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Cory Bernardi will resign from the Liberal party today and take up a new seat in the Senate where he has represented the Coalition for ten years and has been elected to serve out a further five. [My report/Fairfax]

In the past few years, the conservative senator has enjoyed an extraordinary media profile some lacklustre cabinet ministers would die for. Sick of the games, the flip-flopping on policy issues and the internal leadership machinations, Bernardi was pushed to the edge by two events last year: the government’s brief flirtation with emissions trading and a confidential phone call with Tony Abbott, the details of which emerged in a national newspaper. [My report/Fairfax]

Bernardi was also dismayed that he was being used as a pawn in a fresh round of Abbott agitation against Turnbull, writes Katharine Murphy. [The Guardian]

Senator Cory Bernardi with Tony Abbott during the 2010 election campaign. Photo: Glen McCurtayne

Today he will leave the Liberals, a party riven with factional in-fighting, floundering financially and lead by a leader seemingly in permanent stasis. It is an incredible risk that could easily backfire.

He has not informed Malcolm Turnbull or cabinet ministers of his decision, reports Rob Harris. [Herald Sun]

“Turnbull has made no substantive contact with Bernardi since the two were together in New York in September and therefore has not tried to keep Bernardi within the Coalition tent,” reports The Australian. [Dennis Shannahan]

David Crowe has a very well-briefed piece on Bernardi’s thinking and says the senator, who has been uncharacteristically silent, will make a statement to the Senate today when the new parliamentary year kicks off. [The Australian]

Crowe’s is an accurate read unlike some other lunatic theories floating around, including the idea that Bernardi will team up with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

This is a complete misread of his intentions. Bernardi, who has advocating banning the burqa for years, wants to target people voting One Nation, which promotes protectionist and populist economic policies he would never agree with, and bring them closer to supporting a coalition government. This is underscored well by Michelle Grattan. [The Conversation]

Senator Pauline Hanson and her increasingly powerful chief of staff James Ashby. Photo: Andrew Meares

Pauline Hanson acknowledges Bernardi will split her voter base. Her spokesman, James Asbhy tells Tony Abbott’s friend Cate McGregor that only Abbott can match Hanson’s populist appeal. [Daily Telegraph]

And while we’re on this point, Newspoll shows 52 per cent of coalition voters support introducing a Trump-like ban on citizens from Muslim-majority countries. (Overall voters are split) [Philip Hudson/The Australian]

Another theory being put forward is Bernardi’s factional rivalry with the South Australian moderate Christopher Pyne. With three moderate Liberal SA MPs in Cabinet but no conservatives from the same state, backbencher Tony Pasin tells Philip Coorey that he can understand Bernardi’s decision although he doesn’t support it. [Financial Review]

Sean Edwards was fifth on the ticket at the last election and lost his Senate seat. He says he would be disappointed by Bernardi’s defection just eight months into a six year term. [Naomi Woodley/ABC]

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi during the opening of the 45th Parliament. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

And this is absolutely Bernardi’s Achilles heel – his decision to seek preselection and reelection as a Liberal given there was already so much speculation ahead of the poll that he was preparing to jump.

This is something the News Corp tabloid The Daily Telegraph is highlighting as it revives its rat-based photoshopping skills last used when the Coalition suffered a defection – the then Speaker Peter Slipper. Daily Telegraph revives rat photoshopping skills for Cory Bernardi defection front page. via @wrongdoreypic.twitter南京夜网/M9J4LhV4rA— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) February 6, 2017

“Crazy defector Cory goes it alone” the paper screams. [Daily Telegraph]

Paul Syvret savages Bernardi and says has done more damage to the government than Bill Shorten, Bronwyn Bishop or Sussan Ley. [Courier Mail] He is an attention-seeking farce, adds James Campbell. [Herald Sun]

Laura Tingle similarly homes in on this writing, “off you go, Cory. Turn off the lights as you go will you? And perhaps apologise to the preselectors and voters who guaranteed you a six-year Senate spot just eight months ago.” [Financial Review]

Senator Cory Bernardi sits under a portrait of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the joint party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra last year. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The upside for Malcolm Turnbull, if there is one when facing a defection on the first day back of Parliament, is that he can cite Bernardi’s departure to prosecute some of the progressive causes he supposedly believes in like same-sex marriage.

But this appears unlikely, according to a report that he nodded in agreement as the Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce told the frontbench they needed to stop focussing on issues that appeal to Oxford Street (incidentally in Turnbull’s electorate of Wentworth) like gay marriage. Sigh. [Simon Benson/The Australian] 2. Turnbull convinced Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Bloomberg

Well now the full story is out it paints Malcolm Turnbull in an almost heroic light. Not only did he stand up to Donald Trump but got the result he wanted and the one Australia desperately needs – to clear the offshore detention camps once and for all. [Peter Hartcher/The Sydney Morning Herald]

There’s no doubt that the PM’s conduct during the call and the dignified way he has resisted crowing about his victory over the leader of the free world has been a classy and is an A-grade performance by the Australian PM. 

Photo: Jessica Hromas

“He stood up to a bully, put the national interest first and maintained his composure publicly,” and those who rushed to criticise him for not condemning Trump’s Muslim ban look silly, argues Philip Coorey. [Financial Review]

“It is hard to imagine Bill Shorten standing his ground against a Trump rant as well as Mr Turnbull did,” editorialises the Financial Review. [Read]

Trump did Turnbull a favour, writes Shaun Carney. [Herald Sun]

Quite. But why-oh-why did the Prime Minister’s office not think to get this detail out well before now?

This is another classic case of Turnbull’s good intentions and in this case a rare and solid policy win once again being let down by poor political strategy and messaging. 3. UK Speaker takes aim at Trump’s ‘racism and sexism’

Britain’s Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Photo: Reuters

An extraordinary moment in British Parliament.

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has launched a passionate defence of democratic freedoms and values saying he is “strongly opposed” to Trump addressing the parliament and has taken aim at the US President’s “racism and sexism.” [My report/Fairfax]

Whether or not Trump will address Parliament is the centre of a huge row in Britain ever since Theresa May extended the US President an invitation for a state visit this year, just seven days after the inauguration.

The Speaker earned a huge applause from MPs when he said “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the Commons.” The speaker of the House of Commons says he would not invite President Trump to Parliament pic.twitter南京夜网/AkKYaO7o9I— Esther Webber (@estwebber) February 6, 2017

And in the other big issue of the day…

The wigs worn by the House of Commons wigs are no more, despite some protestations from one MP. The Speaker says clerks can ditch the itchy hairdo to make the parliament look “less stuffy.” [BBC]

Now…what about those accents? 4. Trump

President Trump. Photo: AP

Not content with claiming “alternative facts” Donald Trump now believes “negative polls” constitute “fake news” adding to the long list of things politicians wrongly like to label “fake news.” [Nolan D. Mccaskill/Politico]

This piece from the New York Times (syndicated by Fairfax) about the dysfunction in the White House is an incredible read with a few amazing details, including that aides work in the dark in the Cabinet room at night because they can’t figure out the lights, and, more worryingly, that Trump wasn’t fully briefed on his own executive order giving Steve Bannon a position on the NSC. [NYT] Trump responded by slamming the paper again on Twitter, accusing it of making up stories and sources. 5. Kremlin wants apology from Fox News

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AP

Vladimir Putin doesn’t like being called a killer and wants an apology from Fox News about a question Bill O’Reilly put to Donald Trump in which he described the Russian President as such. [Reuters]

Trump’s response was gobsmacking although honest, when he said the US also had a lot of killers, questioning if America is innocent.

Peter Hartcher on how Trump is eroding basic tennants of democracy, to China’s benefit is a good read. [The Sydney Morning Herald] 6. Fillon digs in

The scandal surrounding the centre-right candidate in France says he made a “mistake” by hiring his wife and children to carry out parliamentary work, amid claims that work was non-existent.

Fillon is the centre-right’s hope to stare down the populist Front National Leader Marine Le Pen but there are some in his party who feel he should step down because of the scandal.

Fillon says he has nothing to hide and is not going anywhere. [BBC]

And that’s it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

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

Lack of investment under scrutiny

Written on February 20, 2019 at 15:18, by

Former AWI board member and Sheep CRC chair, John Keniry believes AWI should review its investment ration in a bid to stimulate production gains.
Nanjing Night Net

THE percentage of wool levies being spent on marketing compared to research and development is under scrutiny as wool production fails to recover during a time of high returns.

Last financial year, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) spent nearly 60 per cent of its $76.6 million annual expenditure on marketing and 40pc on research and development.

This compares to a close 50pc split of Meat and Livestock Australia’s $172.4m annual expenditure between research and development and marketing.

Despite wool prices in the past three years performing in the 100th percentile, wool production has plummeted nearly 30pc since 2005/06, from 2.5 million bales to 1.8m last season.

Former AWI board member and Sheep CRC chair, John Keniry, said the lack of research and development focus for the wool industry had failed to improve the costs of production compared to efficiencies generated in other commodities which compete for the same land.

“In particular there has been less focus on the application of modern genetics to wool producing sheep, as compared with the lamb industry which has been revolutionised by the use of more sophisticated breeding technologies,” Mr Keniry said.

“These days, it is about the sheep rather than about wool or meat.

“There hasn’t been enough focus on optimising the genetics between meat and wool.”

Dr Keniry said the reduction in wool production had been mainly in the broader range microns, above 18m, partly due to the relative value of meat to wool.

In the pastoral regions which were traditionally broader wools, shortages of shearers coupled with the increased value of meat led many growers to move to Dorpers, while goats had also offered good returns.

He said cropping in marginal areas had partly replaced medium wool sheep due to improvements in technology such as zero till.

“Woolgrowers have not had the opportunity to vote on the proportion of the levy that should be spent on marketing versus research,” he said.

“They have only had the opportunity to vote on the levy and AWI nominates the split between marketing and research.”

Dr Keniry said the impact was no clear demonstration that levies allocated to marketing were returning revenue for woolgrowers.

An independent benefit cost analysis of AWI’s $4.6 million Campaign for Wool investment from 2009 to 2014 revealed an estimated $0.60 to $4.80 return on every dollar invested, depending on wool sales.

Cool Wool Campaign’s $17.3m price tag from 2011-2016 was estimated to return $3.10 on every dollar.

Mecardo managing director Robert Herrmann said the lack of innovation and production gains in the wool industry had deterred any major swing back to the commodity.

“The idea that we still pack wool in a bale originally designed for a camel to deliver to wool stores, and the major changes to the shearing process in the past 100 years have been the handpiece and the self-pinning wool press does not promote the wool industry as innovative,” Mr Herrmann said.

“The fact that if you walked into a woolshed in full swing 100 years ago, it would be fairly similar to the process we see today.

“That says innovation is not the natural ally of the wool industry to date.”

Mr Herrmann said industries were competing for the new entrants to agriculture as well as limited acreage.

“Wool had lost this battle for acres over the past 20 years – in the late 80s the flock peaked at about 170 million and by 2010 it was 70m,” he said

“Drought played a part over this time, but the undeniable fact is that wool producers voted with their feet.”

However Independent Commodity Services market analyst Andrew Woods believed the loss of woolgrowers to the industry was financially driven.

“Ultimately if there is a dollar in it, people will do it because the dollar wins in the long run,” Mr Woods said.

“Wool area to crop area has been the big swap in the last 25 years in Australian farming.

“The underlying reason is that the grains industry for decades has had better productivity improvements which have allowed them to squeeze more margins out of their enterprises and as a consequence they’ve captured more acres.”

While there were many factors influencing wool production, Mr Woods said it was an area which critically needed to be addressed.

“While prices are up, volumes are down,” he said.

“From a farmers perspective overall volume isn’t an issue but from a supply chain’s point of view – services providers and processors – we need to see some volume.

“The supply chain has had to shrink to match greasy wool supplies and the ultimate disaster will be if investment in processing machinery research and development stops because there isn’t enough volume to warrant it.”

AWI communications manager Marius Cuming said the board stopped funding projects that did not “adequately return to woolgrowers”.

In detailing the method for assessing the effectiveness of marketing, Mr Cuming referred to an episode of AWI’s podcast The Yarn.

“AWI is happy to stand on its record of investment in both on and off farm research and development as well as its marketing investments,” he said.

“There has recently been a call for proposals for new research ideas, all thoughts and innovations welcome.”

In response to whether AWI’s 40/60pc R and D to marketing expenditure ratio would be revised, Mr Cuming said the investment split was “discussed widely” and voted on every three years during Woolpoll where growers decide the future of AWI.

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

Phuket jet-ski accident: Police to charge Emily Collie’s partner Thomas Keating over death

Written on February 20, 2019 at 15:18, by

Emily Jayne Collie and her partner Tom Keating were on holiday in Phuket together. Photo: Facebook/@tommy.keating.5 Kyabram woman Emily Jayne Collie, 20, died in a jet-ski accident on Sunday. Photo: Facebook/@emily.j.collie
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Bangkok: Police say the partner of a 20-year-old Victorian woman killed when two jet-skis crashed at high speed in waters off the Thai resort island of Phuket will be charged with reckless driving causing death.

Thomas Keating, 22, told police that strong sunlight reflecting from the sea made it impossible for him to see the jet-ski being ridden by his girlfriend, Emily Jayne Collie, who he was holidaying with on the island.

Mr Keating suffered minor injuries when the jet-skis collided off Kata Beach late on Sunday.

Lifeguards pulled Ms Collie, who is from the small town of Kyabram in north-east Victoria, from the water and, with Mr Keating, tried to revive her on the beach before she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Thai police lieutenant Patiwat Yodkhwan told reporters on Monday: “Ms Collie’s boyfriend, Mr Keating, who was driving the other jet-ski when they collided, will face a charge of reckless driving causing death.”

Social media tributes poured in for Ms Collie, who had been dating Mr Keating for 18 months, with one friend posting a photo of the 20-year-old and writing “our dear angel”.

“Words can’t describe how devastated we are,” a friend wrote.

“Rest in peace you gorgeous girl. It’s horrible that something as horrible as this can happen, especially to someone you know,” another wrote.

Mr Keating’s sister, Bree Lyon, told Fairfax Media the family was “absolutely devastated”.

“My dearest angel, one you have always been and will always remain,” she said about Ms Collie.

“From the very moment I met you I loved you, I cherished your genuine heart, and that beautiful smile. I was inspired by you in so many ways, my darling girl, you were so strong and so determined.

“I miss you so much, Emily. I truly do. I love how you loved my brother, the way you looked into his eyes with nothing but pure love, it was the truest thing I’ve ever been grateful to witness.

“I promise to look after your Tommy forever and always, our darling girl with those beautiful curls.”

Lieutenant Patiwat said the owner of the jet-skis the couple rented did not want any payment for damage to the machines, saying “he wants Phuket to have a good reputation as a holiday destination.”

Under an insurance policy that was taken out for the couple’s rental, Ms Collie’s family will be entitled to a payment of 50,000 Thai baht ($1867).

Her parents are travelling to Phuket to collect her body.

Jet-ski operators usually get people to sign a contract but customers are rarely asked questions about whether they have experience riding them.

Under Thai law, anyone using a jet-ski is supposed to have a “captain’s permit” but the law is often overlooked to allow tourists to hire jet-skis.

The death comes at a time Thai tourism officials in Bangkok have been pressing Phuket authorities to make the island safer on the roads and in the water.

But Phuket lifeguards recently had their budget cut.

Australia’s smartraveller.gov419论坛 travel advisory warns about the risks of hiring jet-skis and motorcycles on Thai beaches, in particular in Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

“You may be detained and arrested by police following jet-ski and motorcycle accidents until compensation, often in the thousands of dollars, can be negotiated between parties,” the advisory says.

Many Australians who take out travel insurance policies in Australia find they are not covered when they have a motorcycle accident in Thailand because they are not licensed to ride one in Australia.

More than 20,000 Australians holiday on Phuket each month.

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