Player claims Muswellbrook’s $1.3m Saturday Lotto prize

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

AFTER five days, a NSW Lotteries player has come forward to claim the $1.3m prize from Saturday Lotto $20 Million Superdraw that was won with an entry bought from Muswellbrook’s Southside Newsagency.
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The 36-game QuickPick entry won Muswellbrook’s newest millionaire a division one prize of $1,333,333.34.

But, just who exactly landed the windfall will remain a mystery, as the winner has spoken to NSW Lotteries in secret to claim their cash bonanza.

NSW Lotteries spokesperson Matt Hart said while all Saturday Lotto customers dreamt of becoming an overnight millionaire, the winning Muswellbrook ticket had made that dream a reality for another player this week.

“We speak with winners every day and while most winners dream of winning big, many don’t ever expect it will happen to them,” he said.

“In fact since July 1 this year, there have already been 77 division one winning entries purchased by NSW Lotteries customers – that’s a lot of winning smiles on the faces of players.”

The division one winning entry was purchased from Southside Newsagency in Maitland Road.

Southside Newsagency owner Pankaj Monga said the store was excited that it had sold a division one winning ticket.

“Congratulations to the winner! It’s great that our missing millionaire has come forward to claim their prize,” he said.

“We’ve been really busy this week with a lot of people coming into the store to check their tickets because they had heard that we’d sold a division one winning entry.”

NSW Lotteries reminds players of the importance of registering their tickets to a Players Club Card so all of their prizes are secure and they can be contacted directly with the good news of a big win.

Ninja Warriors get a grip in Newcastlevideos, photos

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

Ninja Warriors get a grip in Newcastle | videos, photos NEW CHALLENGE: Snowboarder Stephanie Magiros, who competed at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, races at Ninja Parc Cooks Hill on Thursday night. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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BALANCING ACT: Elite competitor Josh O’Sullivan warms up before Thursday night’s race.

HANGING TOUGH: Newcastle teenager Xanthea Vazey.

Stephanie Magiros

Tommy Leung

April Mutton

Xanthea Vazey

Gemma Rolfe

Elite competitors warm up.

Ryan Phillips

Ben Sillay

Josh O’Sullivan

Elite winner Josh Gray on the podium.

Michael Gleeson

Michael Gleeson

TweetFacebookAmerican Ninja Warrior.

Some of the competitors from that series, including former army fitness instructor Michael Gleeson, flexed their muscles at Ninja Park Cooks Hill, formerly known as Howzat, on Thursday.

14-year-old Xanthea Vazey shows how it’s doneAlso competing was Olympic snowboarder and former gymnast Stephanie Magiros, of Sydney, and Newcastle bouldering youth national titleholder Ben Abel.

But 24-year-old Josh Gray upstaged them all, completing the Ninja Parc in three minutes and 22 seconds.

Also on the podium in the elite category were two bolters from Cardiff, 30-year-old rigger and vegetarian Reuban Keeley and 26-year-old gymnastics and fitness instructor Ryan Phillips.

Kotara High student Xanthea Vazey, 14, who trains six times a week at Pulse Climbing, was second against a field of adult men and women in the open category.

Ninja Parc regular April Mutton was third, behind winner Matt Turner.

Stephanie Magiros conquers an obstacle.“I’ve pushed myself as a snowboarder,I’ve pushed myself as a gymnast, and now I get to push myself as a ninja,” Magiros said.

Gray took home a cheque for $1000 in what Ninja Parc managing director John Pirlo said would be the first of many races at the venue.

Man jailed for 11 months after bashing a kangaroo to death in Bunbury

12/12/2018 Posted by admin

A man was jailed for 11 months after bashing a kangaroo in near Bunbury. Photo: ABC NewsA man who brutally bashed a kangaroo to death with a crowbar with another man near Bunbury will spend almost a year behind bars.
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Craig Jamie House and Vance Geoffrey Jarvis, who represented themselves in court, both pleaded guilty in the Bunbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday to ill-treatment of an animal, according to the ABC.

Mr House was jailed for 11 months’ while Jarvis was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

It’s believed to be the first ever jail sentence for someone charged with animal cruelty in WA.

The court was shown confronting video footage of the kangaroos’ death in June 2015, which police found on a computer after raiding a home on an unrelated matter.

The video showed the two men and a dog collaring the kangaroo into a dam before House strikes the roo with a crowbar before dragging the animal’s lifeless body from the dam.

Magistrate Evan Shackleton said House struck the first blow to the kangaroo and instructed Jarvis to join in, according to the ABC.

“Sneak out to it man, as soon as it lunges ‘boosh’, take ya thongs off,” House can be heard yelling to Jarvis.

House told the court he killed the kangaroo for food because he had fallen on hard times and used the metal bar because his gun license was confiscated two years earlier.

“I tried to put out the roo in the most humanely way I could,” House told the court.

The magistrate disagreed with House claiming there were “large elements of animal cruelty”.

“In my view, you were having fun tormenting that kangaroo,” he said.

RSPCA WA chief executive David van Ooran told the ABC it was it was “incredibly rare” for someone to be given a jail term for animal cruelty.

“I can’t think of a time in recent years and decades where this has occurred,” Mr van Ooran said.

“This is a very strong penalty and a very appropriate penalty … it was clearly a horrific and sickening act against a defenceless animal, behaviour like this is completely unacceptable.

“It’s excellent to see that the magistrate in this case has awarded a prison term.”

WAtoday

Nic Maddinson on verge of Sheffield Shield cricket return for NSW Blues

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Shield return: Nic Maddinson is set to play for the Blues in Saturday’s clash with Tasmania. Photo: Adam McLean Nic Maddinson has been welcomed back into the Blues’ squad and is in line for a return to Sheffield Shield cricket this weekend when NSW plays Tasmania in Wollongong.
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Cricket NSW flew Maddinson back to Sydney on Thursday before the conclusion of the Blues’ Futures League game against Western in Perth, which ended early on the final day when the visitors were bowled out for 250 to conclude a heavy defeat.

The 25-year-old made scores of 38 and 18 in the match after meeting with Blues coach Trent Johnston last week to discuss his return to cricket, his first-innings effort coming from 41 balls as wickets crumbled around him.

It was the first cricket he’d played since the Sydney Sixers lost the Big Bash final to Perth last month, after which Maddinson opted to take time away from the sport for “personal reasons”.

He’ll be joined in the Blues squad by captain Moises Henriques, who returns to state duty after representing in the three-match T20 international series defeat to Sri Lanka.

A win over Tasmania will further cement the Blues in the top two of the Sheffield Shield, and quick bowler Trent Copeland said Maddinson’s return was a huge boost.

“It’s great to have him back and from all reports he played beautifully over in Perth in that first innings amongst some carnage, it’s going to put some pressure on our batting group in terms of who might miss out,” Copeland said.

“Any changes to our team are going to be positive with pressure from a guy who’s played Test cricket less than a couple of months ago.”

Maddinson played three Tests for this summer before he was dropped after managing just 27 runs. He then struggled in the Big Bash with the Sixers before his self-imposed ban from the sport.

Copeland played three Tests himself on a tour of Sri Lanka before returning to and receiving the dreaded phone call telling him he was out of the team.

“It’s a tough time no matter what the scenario is, no matter who’s contacted you or who hasn’t,” Copeland said.

“The pressures that go with being an n player, it’s our No.1 sport, it’s our livelihood during summer, everyone is thinking and talking and playing cricket.

“The difference for everyone is the scenario you came back to. I came back to state cricket playing one day and four-day cricket, Maddo [Maddinson] came back into playing T20 cricket which is sometimes a very fickle game.

“You can try and hit sixes in the first couple of overs and miss out a couple of times and its starts to get even bigger on you.

“It’s hard on Maddo and it’s hard on everyone but we’re all there for him. Maddo’s a great young fella, he’s got a lot of cricket in front of him and I’m sure he’s going to play more cricket for .

“Hopefully for the rest of this summer he dominates for us and we can get to that shield final.”

Johnston was also delighted to welcome Maddinson back into the team.

“I spoke to him in the middle of last week and he was in a pretty good place,” the coach said.

“The mail from [Cricket NSW state talent manager] David Freedman was he was very good around the [Futures League] group. He played very well in both his innings, even though he got starts and didn’t go on with it.

“A player of that quality, he’ll come back into the 12 and then it’ll just depend on how we set the team up whether we stick with the six batters or bring the extra batter in and go in a quick light.

“Happy for Maddo to be back in the right frame of mind to be playing first-class cricket again. He’s an outstanding talent and we’ve seen that time and time again over the last seven or eight years.”

China v India Test series 2017: Matt Renshaw forced off field while batting due to upset stomach

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Live coverage – day one, first Test
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Spin duo Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe face the toughest challenge of their careers to bowl their side back into the game after ‘s struggles with the bat in India continued in the first Test on Thursday.

Opener Matt Renshaw overcame an upset stomach to lead the way with an impressive 68 on debut on the subcontinent but it was slim pickings for the rest of the line-up until Mitchell Starc crunched a whirlwind half-century nearing stumps.

While there was an air of the same old, same old with the day one performance, this was not the embarrassing and shambolic display that has been associated with ‘s recent visits to this region of the world.

The crusty Pune wicket has already produced “craters”, drawing spin great Shane Warne to liken the pitch to Mars, and offered prodigious turn to the Indian spinners.

It would be only fair to afford a degree of leniency to ‘s batsmen but after reaching stumps on 9/256 they will need to do everything right from here if they are to snap their nine-Test losing streak in Asia.

They will want more given India’s recent domination with the bat at home but they encountered much friendlier wickets when they were amassing scores well in excess of 500.

Despite the spin-friendly conditions, it was the pace of Umesh Yadav that inflicted the most damage. Yadav claimed the important wicket of Warner among his bag of four then ripped through the tail.

This will be encouraging for , who believe the pace duo of Starc and Hazlewood have influential roles to play this tour.

The pressure, however, will be firmly on the spinning fingers of Lyon and O’Keefe, who will be expected to make a sizeable impact on the second day. At the very least, Lyon and O’Keefe will be expected to keep the scoring down.

Ravi Ashwin provided their blueprint. The offie has mesmerised in the past and though he was not unplayable he still managed to remove Smith and the resolute Renshaw. Combined with a frugal economy rate of less than two an over, it was another fruitful day in the dust bowl for the world’s No.1 bowler.

had good reason to believe a much better scoreline was attainable after Renshaw and Warner survived the best part of the first session for a stand of 82.

Warner’s dismissal changed the feel of the game, bringing two new batsmen to the crease. Not only was he gone, he was followed immediately off the field by Renshaw, who needed to use the toilet.

Renshaw came under fire from Allan Border, who believed the opener should have held on for the final 15 minutes to lunch.

“I hope he is lying on the table in there half dead. Otherwise as captain I would not be happy,” Border said on Fox Sports.

But in fairness to Renshaw, his options were limited. Had he given up his wicket due to a loss of focus because of his condition would have been a waste, while relieving his stomach cramp on the field would have been far from ideal too.

The drama overshadowed Renshaw’s valuable contribution at the top of the order. Despite doubts as to whether he had the game to prosper in India, Renshaw showed poise in the testing conditions.

So too did the rest of ‘s top five – but not for long enough. They were far from clueless though Smith and Warner will be kicking themselves for their careless dismissals.

There will be concerns over the selection of Mitch Marsh at six after he was trapped in front for four though he will have the chance to atone with the ball.

Nine reveals massive write-down in value of its television network, leading to $237m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Nine chairman Peter Costello with chief executive Hugh Marks. Photo: Ben Rushton Nine Entertainment Company’s chief executive Hugh Marks says ratings are improving. Photo: Janie Barrett
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Nine Entertainment Company has reported a $237 million loss for the six months to December after reducing goodwill of Nine Network from $422 million to $162 million.

The write-down will close the gap between Nine’s book value of its free-to-air network and its actual market value of $902 million.

Nine’s shares jumped after management said full-year pre-tax earnings will meet analyst forecasts of between $158 million to $187 million. The stock closed 7.3 per cent higher at $1.04.

The company did not change the value of its free-to-air broadcasting licences, which it still carries at $478 million in its books.

Operating earnings were down 6 per cent at $120 million, compared to the same period in 2015. Earnings from free-to-air television dropped 9 per cent to $109 million, while digital profits rose 13 per cent to $13.8 million.

Despite lower revenues and earnings, Nine still reported a $75 million underlying profit profit after reducing its costs, a 4 per cent decline on the same period last year.

Nine Entertainment will pay a dividend of 4.5¢ per share fully franked, down from 8¢ a year earlier.

“Over the past year, we have made significant progress in rebuilding our free-to-air business. Nine Network won all prime-time key demographics post the Olympics in 2016,” chief executive Hugh Marks told the market.

He is confident it will have better ratings this year, which will attract more advertising dollars. 

Asked about persisting speculation that Nine may consider merging with Fairfax Media (owner of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald), Mr Marks said “there is nothing concrete that we are looking at at the moment”.

“I am interested in quality content that I can make a business out of quality platforms,” he later explained, adding print products are not a strategic asset for Nine.

Meanwhile the two companies’ joint venture – streaming service Stan – added 135,000 accounts, and now has more than 700,000 active subscribers.

The outlook is for a 2 per cent to 3 per cent decline in metropolitan advertising revenue. Nine expects to meet analyst full-year guidance of pre-tax earnings between $158 million and $187 million.  Writing down goodwill

The goodwill impairment on its TV network comes after Nine reviewed the value of assets carried in its books and found “the market capitalisation of the group was below the book value of its equity and the decline in free-to-air television market activity arising in the period”. 

“Impairment testing on Nine Network determined that an impairment loss in Nine Network’s goodwill of $260 million was required and this has been recognised in the period. The recent decline in market activity and resulting fall in EBITDA has led to this impairment,” the financial report states.

The move comes a day after the n Securities and Investments Commission revealed it had a hand in Seven West Media reducing the carrying value of its Yahoo7 joint venture by $75.5 million. ASIC has been cracking down on over-inflated valuations.

Chief financial officer Greg Barnes, who joined Nine in July, said the impairment “was the right thing to do” because of the share price.

“Write it down and move on,” he said.

Asked if Nine received any input from ASIC, he said, “It would be fair to say that when your market cap, your share price, sits below the book value of your assets per share – which Nine’s has done really for the majority of time since it reported its last year’s results – that it would get the attention of regulators”.

Director of Fusion Strategy, Steve Allen, said the write-down may have been necessary because “Nine wrote assets up during its [2013] float, which raised eyebrows”.

Television networks do not have the same value they had five years ago, Mr Allen added. However, he believes advertising dollars are returning to free to air.

“We just feel that advertisers’ mood has changed towards TV, particularly with revelations that have come out about social media metrics.”

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson said this year television ads are being booked earlier in advance.

“We are seeing that in two areas – existing advertisers who are allocating a greater percentage of their total marketing budget back into television … [and] there are new brands coming to television.”

Investors dump Ardent shares as Dreamworld tragedy drags it to a $49m loss

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

Ardent chief executive Deborah Thomas said Dreamworld “is expected to recover over the course of time”. Photo: Glenn HuntArdent chief executive Deborah Thomas says she is “not going anywhere” and will work to restore the theme park operator to its former glory after the company sank to a $49.4 million loss for the December half following the fatal accident at its Dreamworld theme park in October.
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The stock plunged as much as 25 per cent before closing 21.8 per cent lower at $1.69 on Thursday, with $220 million wiped off the company’s sharemarket value.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at Ardent’s theme park division plunged 72 per cent to $5.9 million as revenues fell 28 per cent to $41.8 million in the six months to December 31, the company said in a statement to the ASX.

Ardent’s overall net profit was erased by a $95.2 million property, plant and equipment write-down, goodwill impairment and incident costs associated with the Dreamworld tragedy. Ardent slashed the value of the Gold Coast park in its books to $147 million after the incident on its Thunder River Rapids Ride, which cost the lives of four people and led the company to close the park for 45 days.

The board declared a distribution per security for the period of 2¢, compared with 7¢ for the previous corresponding period.

Speaking after the results were released, Ms Thomas said that as Dreamworld recovered, its value and profits would again improve. With some 1000 people working at Dreamworld she said she was “determined” to get the business back up and running.

“We have drawn a line in the sand and we now need to get everything right,” she said.

“We are all pulling together to get the best outcome for shareholders and our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of the victims.”

Ms Thomas said “the effects of this tragedy will be felt for some time and there is much healing still to take place. Our priority in reopening the park was to do so in a way that was respectful to the families of the victims.”

“Dreamworld is expected to recover over the course of time, assisted by new attractions and exciting branded retail concepts, supported by promotion to domestic and international visitors,” she said.

“The theme park businesses are also expected to benefit from increased domestic and international tourism to the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the development of land adjoining the property in Coomera.”

Ms Thomas dismissed speculation the land on which the theme park was built could be sold off for residential developments. There were no plans to close the park or redevelop it into residential buildings, she said.

“At the moment the zoning is parks and entertainment. Obviously, different zoning such as residential and commercial could increase that value quite significantly, but at the moment, the highest and best use is certainly as a theme park,” she said.

It has been estimated Ardent generates up to $300,000 a day from its Gold Coast tourist assets, which include WhiteWater World and SkyPoint. There is also a new LEGO store at Dreamworld, which is trading well.

At the time of the closure, brokers said the impact of the event on Ardent’s near-term outlook was still uncertain, as were the longer-term implications.

During the period, the group sold the d’Albora Marinas business for $126 million. That represents an 11 per cent premium over current book value of $113.5 million.

The purchaser is a special purpose vehicle jointly owned by Sydney-based Balmain Corporation and Goldman Sachs.

But aside from the troubled theme park business, Ardent said its Main Event business was strong.

Over the next few months, Ardent will change its name to Main Event, which was approved by shareholders at last year’s annual general meeting.

Ms Thomas said the group would focus on the Main Event business, which operates as King Pin bowling, with upgraded food and beverage services, better shoes and improved premises.

James Packer will pocket $489m of Crown casino cash and take his stake back above 50%

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

The Chinese high rollers might be deserting his casinos, but the cash will still be rolling in for billionaire James Packer.
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Crown Resorts has announced it will pay a bonus dividend, as well as increasing its regular payout to investors, which is expected to deliver $489 million in cash to Packer, who is its largest shareholder.

For the first half, Crown announced that it will raise its interim dividend to 30¢ per share and pay a special 83¢ dividend. The bonus cash comes from the selldown of Crown’s stake in its troubled Macau venture, Melco Crown, and a retreat from its global ambitions to focus on the n market.

The extra bonus for Packer is that these dividends will be 60 per cent franked, which reduce his tax bill. Crown has said it also expects to pay a 30¢ per share dividend after its full-year result in August.

Packer’s cash bonus is not the only gain he will make from Crown’s generosity. The casino operator announced plans to buy back around $500 million worth of shares as another capital management exercise. It estimates it could buy back around 44 million shares, or six per cent of its issued capital.

For those with short memories, Packer sold down his controlling stake in August last year. It generated a $448 million cash bonus for the billionaire, but reduced his holding below 50 per cent.

A buyback of this scale would take Packer’s stake, held via his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), to just over 50 per cent – assuming he doesn’t sell any of his Crown shares into the buyback.

There were few surprises in the Crown result after it announced that its high rollers business had tanked by an astonishing 45 per cent for the half year following the arrest of employees in China. The arrests happened in October, which means that the high roller exodus only occurred over the last three months of the year.

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They’re coming after your frequent flyer points

13/06/2019 Posted by admin

Qantas is fighting back by beefing up its cyber security. Photo: Peter BraigHere’s something else to worry about: the legion of cyber fraudsters and identity thieves are trying to steal your frequent flyer points – and they’re succeeding.
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The scumbags have stolen some of mine and would have grabbed more if Qantas hadn’t picked up the fraud.

Qantas won’t divulge just how common frequent flyer identity theft is, but it’s common. (The airline, like the banks being a bit vague about the extent of credit card fraud, says it’s a security issue, not wanting to encourage the criminals. I suspect it’s also a little embarrassing.)

Qantas is fighting back by beefing up its cyber security. Starting from Thursday, it’s rolling out a trial of “a second-factor authentication process” – geek speak for texting you a code before you can log on to your account, the same way banks SMS a security code for many online payments.

OK, having your frequent flyer membership identity stolen is not like losing the deeds to your house or having your life savings cleaned out, but it’s still annoying, can represent a considerable loss of value and could be part, or the start, of a broader identity theft.

In my case, when I was getting on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to Sydney earlier this month, a low life used my points to buy a ticket from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city on Jetstar Pacific. An alarm rang in Qantas and the ticket was cancelled, but the fraudsters had another crack closer to flight time and got away with it.

And here’s the thing – it was Qantas that told me about it. There are 11.5 million Qantas frequent flyer accounts – how many of us ever check the points unless we’re about to try to use them?

Satisfied that it was a fraud, Qantas quickly refunded the points and is happy to give tips about protecting your identity.

Yes, you should change your PIN often and, no, it shouldn’t be your postcode or birthday. One of the dumbest things you can do is post a photograph of your boarding pass – it has enough information on it to give an identity thief a flying start. (No, I didn’t do that.)

A Qantas spokesperson said the airline was continually investing in people, processes and technology to protect frequent flyer members’ security and accounts. As well as the second-factor authentication trial, Qantas has introduced SMS alerts to members to confirm account changes.

How did the bad guys steal my Qantas identity? It’s impossible to be sure, but it’s usually through compromising a computer or mobile phone when a victim goes online via a public network. Qantas recommends using only secure networks to access accounts, rather than public Wi-Fi hotspots.

But, come to think of it, I had written my account number on my baggage tag, believing it would help find the bag if it went missing. It could also help someone steal my identity. D’oh.

So consider yourself warned. Check your points regularly – and be smarter than me.

China Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour resigns after seven years in the top job

13/06/2019 Posted by admin

Post CEO Ahmed Fahour. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones Post chief executive Ahmed Fahour – who was criticised by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his $5.6 million salary – has resigned from the job after seven years.
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Mr Fahour, who began the job in 2010, tendered his resignation to the Post board on Wednesday.

Speaking at the company’s half-year results at a press conference in Melbourne, Mr Fahour said: “With the business now poised to start a new transformation, I believe that it is appropriate and time to hand over the reins as the head of Post.

“This has been a difficult and emotional decision for me and my family, but I have come to the conclusion that the timing is right.”

Mr Fahour said: “I have been in this job for seven and a half years; it’s time.

“CEOs have to know when to go.

“My job is done – I’ve achieved everything I needed to achieve.”

Mr Fahour said that he had taken the recent controversy about his salary into “consideration” but that he began planning to step down at the end of last year.

It was “completely not true” to say he had resigned because of the salary issue, he said.

He said he had only planned to serve as chief executive for around five years when he began the job and that he was looking forward to a break after the “unrelenting” demands of the role.

He took a shot at One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who had criticised his salary, by saying that running Post is a “little bit more complicated than running a fish and chip shop”.

Mr Fahour said there were doomsday predictions about the future of Post when he took over but the company had successfully transformed itself from a letter and stamps business into a parcels and e-commerce giant.

Mr Fahour’s successor can expect to receive a reduced salary given the Turnbull government has given the independent Remuneration Tribunal oversight of the chief executive’s salary and conditions.

The Post board had previously set the chief executive’s salary independently.

Post chairman John Stanhope said in a statement: “By any measure, Ahmed has done an astounding job in transforming the business.

“When he started, he was set the challenge to ‘write the next chapter in the history of Post’ – and he certainly rose to that challenge.”

In the six months to December 31, Post reported a net profit of $131 million, up from $16 million last year. Strong parcel growth and increased revenue from higher stamp prices helped offset an 11 per cent fall in letter volumes.

“This is one of the strongest first half results in recent history and it demonstrates that we are on the right path to ensuring the future of Post for our people, the community and our important stakeholders,” Mr Fahour said in a statement.

When Mr Fahour’s controversial salary was revealed earlier this month, Mr Turnbull said he had spoken to Mr Stanhope to say it was “too high”.

Liberal Senator James Paterson, who chairs the committee that forced Post to reveal Mr Fahour’s salary, said: “Ahmed Fahour’s resignation gives Post the opportunity to reset its executive remuneration policies and adopt a new approach to transparency.

“They should do so bearing in mind that Post is owned by taxpayers, who expect it to be well run and don’t mind the executive team being generously remunerated, but not beyond community expectations.

“They are also entitled to the absolute best standards of transparency, not the bare minimum required by law.”

Investa upgrades full-year earnings and signals stronger office rents

13/06/2019 Posted by admin

Investa Office Fund has issued an earnings upgrade for the full-year of 3 per cent based on improving fundamentals for the national office market.
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With rising tenant demand and new developments, such as 151 Clarence Street in Sydney, net effective rents are rising, as the level of incentives declined over the six months to December 31, 2106.

Investa is also engaged in a battle for control with its largest shareholder, Cromwell Properties, and said at its results presentation that the IOF manager is willing to continue in discussions with Cromwell, but will only provide additional information to Cromwell if it signs a confidentiality agreement.

Cromwell, which reports on Friday, has 9.84 per cent of Investa and has said it sees value in IOF of $4.45 per IOF security, being Cromwell’s initial proposal and up to $4.75 per IOF security. However, it has not made a formal offer.

“Following the determination not to grant Cromwell comprehensive due diligence, the independent directors have been in regular discussions with Cromwell and are willing to provide Cromwell with limited confidential information in order to facilitate Cromwell being in a position to provide IOF unit-holders with an all cash proposal which is compelling and attractive,” IOF’s manager said.

For the half, IOF’s statutory profit declined by 20.2 per cent, to $224 million, but was  higher than usual revaluations in the 2015 half due to some foreign exchange movements and derivative fluctuations.

Excluding the one-off charges and large comparative revaluations, the funds from operations, being the more accurate measure for real estate investment trusts, rose 1.4 per cent to $91.3 million.

IOF’s fund manager Penny Ranson said due to the solid office markets of Sydney and Melbourne, like-for-like net property income growth is anticipated to exceed 5 per cent.

Combined with a lower debt balance, the full year 2017 FFO guidance has been upgraded from 29¢ to 29.5¢ per unit, a 3.1 per cent increase on 2016. Distribution guidance has been increased from 20¢ to 20.2¢ per unit, being an increase of 3.1 per cent in the previous year.

The interim distribution was 10¢.

Ahmed Fahour’s bizarre press conference to announce departure and defend his legacy

13/06/2019 Posted by admin

”I don’t know how relevant I am any more.” Photo: Stefan Postles Ahmed Fahour: ”My job is done. I have achieved everything I need to achieve.” Photo: Stefan Postles
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”I am yesterday’s man now.” Photo: Stefan Postles

In a large room in Post’s newish headquarters in Melbourne, outgoing chief executive Ahmed Fahour held a bizarre and sometimes rambling press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Ostensibly called to talk about the company’s half-year results, news broke that Mr Fahour was resigning while journalists were en route.

For 15 minutes Mr Fahour provided an earnest and animated presentation of the numbers, which include a $197 million pre-tax profit thanks to a 16 per cent increase in parcel profits. The letters business is now breaking even, despite declining volumes.

Then the press conference became a speech about Mr Fahour’s legacy, delivered by Mr Fahour.

While it is true Post has turned into a profitable parcels business and started to break even on letters, according to its results, his defensive and aggressive demeanour was a little strange.

He said his departure has nothing to do with outrage over his salary, but rather because he has finished the job he set out to do.

“I have achieved everything I need to achieve.”

“I can put my hand on my heart and say to you, that this is a terrific organisation with a terrific set of people that work here day in and day out and it is through their efforts that we have achieved the unthinkable.”

While cutting costs and saving jobs, Post has also given $4 billion back to taxpayers (as long as you count company tax) to support schools, education and police. It had also saved the country from a $6.7 billion bailout, he said.

Mr Fahour repeatedly referred to Post as a global parcels and e-commerce delivery giant competing against multibillion-dollar logistics firms.

He criticised the media for failing to recognise how successful Post’s parcel’s business is today.

“We, humble old  Post, is now the parcels e-commerce company of . And the taxpayer now has a business that is worth more than $5 billion competing commercially out there in the marketplace.”

This top-down view of the company explains why Mr Fahour was never able to understand the outrage about his salary. He compares himself to the chief executives of Japan Post and DHL and other billion-dollar international companies.

He should not be compared to the chief of just a letters business like the US Postal Service, which by the way loses $20 billion a year, he pointed out.

It was plain to see that Mr Fahour does not care about rising complaints about slow delivery and lost letters. He doesn’t see Post as responsible for providing any kind of social function for the country.

Birthday invitations, condolence letters, Christmas cards and other letters make up just 3 per cent of Post’s mail volumes. And it doesn’t make any money.

He pointed to numbers showing delivery performance is now running at 98.5 per cent when the company is required to deliver only 94 per cent of letters on time.

Towards the end, Mr Fahour even downplayed the importance of money.

“I don’t really care that much about my own livelihood. Because, you see, three years ago I foregoed [sic] my incentives. Two years ago, when we lost money, I took no bonuses at all.”

“The thing that was most clear in my mind is not the compensation. The thing that is most clear in my mind is to save this company”.

When asked about his wealth, Mr Fahour tried to deflect with humour.

Will it be a relief not to have to drive his Maserati over the speed bumps at Post’s car park? Well, he has heard about that rumour, but it couldn’t be him because  he does not own a Maserati.

“But secondly, If I did [own a Maserati], I definitely would object to that speed bump”.

When asked what he thought of chairman John Stanhope describing Mr Fahour’s salary as an inherited problem, he said:

“The chairman was referring to the fact that he couldn’t convert me to a Geelong supporter. And so he just had to cop it that I am a tragic Carlton supporter and there is nothing he can do about it”.

But under repeated questioning about whether his salary was too high, Mr Fahour eventually took the theoretical route out, saying wages are just like any other investment.

“At the end of the day, the issue around pay is not one around absolutes. The issue around pay is about: what do you pay, and what do you get?”

“All corporates around the world, all CEOs around the world, there is always this question of relativity and so forth,” he said.

“You make your own judgment on whether the return on investment was good enough or not.”

Mr Fahour will leave in July, which means he receives a full year’s salary. However, this year the annual report will provide full details of executive remuneration, Mr Stanhope promised.

And both men are still due to appear at Senate estimates on Tuesday.

“I don’t know how relevant I am any more,” Mr Fahour said when asked if he will still appear at estimates.

“I am yesterday’s man now. I always love seeing the senators and I am sure it will be good fun, but I am not sure what we are going to talk about now. I am not going to really be around into the future.”

Mr Fahour said he was looking forward to reacquainting himself with his family later this year, then hinted he will soon return to corporate life.

“While I am hanging up the footy boots in this match, the footy boots are not staying off for long. Watch out, because I will be back in 2018!”

Loud quiet loud: Shrill author Lindy West finds her voice

13/06/2019 Posted by admin

US author Lindy West visits for the first time in February and March. Photo: Supplied In 2015 West helped start the Twitter hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion, an effort that went viral. Photo: An Rong Xu/New York Times
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Lindy West is anything but shrill.

The American feminist, activist, comedian and columnist is soft-spoken, exceedingly polite and seems almost shy when we speak by phone ahead of her n tour.

Yet the Seattle writer has very much found her voice in her debut book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman.

Even so, she seems tentative to ascribe a particular genre to it.

“I think of it as a memoir,” she says. “I was nervous about the word at first, because it seemed so presumptuous. I didn’t really understand what it meant. What makes this 34-year-old person qualified to write a memoir? But it’s things that are about [my] life. It is also a collection of essays.

“It’s definitely a reflection of who I am right now. As a fat woman, a woman in comedy, as a feminist; the way that society sees me.”

West lays herself bare in her book, from her vivid description of getting her period in her teens to having an abortion in her 20s, as well as documenting break-ups, the death of her much-loved father, and her relationship with her husband Aham Oluo.

After working at The Stranger and Jezebel in the US, West came to the attention of the wider world when she wrote about her wedding (unapologetically titled My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time) in 2015 for Britain’s The Guardian, where she now has a regular column.

Is anything off limits? I say.

“[The book] gave me the licence to write in ways that would seem self indulgent in a different format,” she says. “I’m constantly aware of how every single word is perceived, it does make me hold back. Am I prepared to reveal that much about myself?

“Writing a book is more solitary. It made it easier to be vulnerable and take risks, without feeling that feeling of panic.

“There’s definitely stuff I’ve pulled back from. You don’t present exactly the real you … you have to hang on to some little bit of privacy, that’s just for you.”

West has been prominent on social media, particularly Twitter, and has copped a huge amount of abuse via that platform. “I was eating 30 rape threats for breakfast at [one] point,” she quips in her book.

She confronted and even made peace with a troll who impersonated her late father on Twitter and details that extraordinary encounter towards the end of Shrill.

Last month she deactivated her own account, declaring Twitter “unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators”.

“A huge motivator for me getting off Twitter [was the] feeling of being so accessible, and being picked at, even by nice people,” she says. “It does get exhausting talking to people all the time.

“I really like Twitter, I miss Twitter, I miss getting info from Twitter. It’s a really interesting resource [for] taking the temperature of issues … I miss that.”

But it’s not necessarily just the users who troll her that prompted the decision. Rather, it was the platform’s biggest troll of all – the US President.

“I would really say the thing that keeps me off Twitter is Donald Trump. It’s not like I was spending a bunch of time reading his … feed, but [given] the way he uses Twitter to terrorise people and potentially start wars, I don’t want to share a platform [with] him.

“I didn’t want to be part of the same community, with that kind of behaviour and a community that enables that behaviour. It just felt gross to be there.”

Trump’s success has made it clear how ubiquitous misogyny still is, she says.

“The people who voted for him voted for misogyny, happily: for a person who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, for racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia and transphobia. They voted to destroy the lives of millions of people.”But for the most part they think they’re good people, normal nice people. They’re not monsters, they’re just people with bad ideas who have been manipulated or misled or in some cases have been raised to believe that America is a white, Christian country.

“They want their country back. Those ideas exist in the minds of nice normal Americans, just like [someone] in your office who pretends to be your dead dad.

“I think people just have a lot invested in the system as it stands. Hierarchies – like that men are in charge ??? action is masculine and passivity is feminine; it’s men’s job to rule and women’s job to nurture and assist. That feels very safe for people, it’s comforting. If you’re the person benefiting and if you’re in a country that’s set up to secure your success and dominance it’s great. It’s very threatening [though] when someone who is supposed to be your subordinate is insisting they happen to have as much power as you do …

“That’s why some people are so threatened by black lives matter … People make a lot of money out of it, if you can keep these systems going. When it’s a woman’s job to be hairless and thin: these are billion-dollar industries.”

In Shrill, West references a school project in which she was asked to prepare a presentation about what she wanted to be when she grew up. She stayed up all night editing together a video tape of snippets of her favourite pop culture references. While her project was poorly received by her fellow pupils, unwittingly it rather presciently predicted her career as an adult.

“It was definitely not conscious,” she says of her professional trajectory. “I was definitely just following the things that I like and it feels like an accident that any of this became my job. I never had the confidence to be driven. You have to think that you’re good enough to be a writer. I started doing it because I didn’t have any other skills. People responded to my writing.”Following the things she loves has resulted in another major opportunity: making a TV series. West is coy about its content and at pains to point out that it’s in the very early stages. “[It’s] a TV show that involves my secret dream that I did not have the confidence to say out loud. I feel really fortunate.”

It seems West has already been trolled in person about before her first visit here, by an Antipodean cab driver in the US who warned the arachnophobe about our supposedly giant, omnipresent spiders.

“I’ve never been there, I’m excited. I’m a bit afraid of the spiders though.”

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman is out now through Hachette . Lindy West will speak at Perth Writers Festival on February 24; at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre on February 27; the State Library of Queensland on March 1; All About Women at Sydney Opera House on March 5 (sold out) and Adelaide Writers Festival on March 8.