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Yield downturn confirms Qantas pain

QANTAS has laid bare the impact of its battle with Virgin Australia after recording its first monthly decline in yields from both its domestic and international operations in more than two years.
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The group’s latest traffic statistics showed total yields for its domestic operations – including Jetstar and QantasLink – were up 4 per cent for the 11 months to May, compared with the same period last year. Yields for the international operations rose 1.5 per cent over the same period.

But excluding Jetstar – which analysts described as the ”only shining light” – the group’s traffic figures for May revealed the toll the battle with Virgin was having on the core driver of Qantas’s earnings.

The group suffered monthly declines in yields from both its international and domestic operations – of 0.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively – for the first time since November 2009, in another sign of why the airline warned last month its profit would fall as much as 91 per cent for 2011-12.

The latest figures come before Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin begin to significantly increase flight frequencies and use bigger planes on domestic routes, in a worrying sign for them that their earnings will also be dented significantly in 2012-13.

The CBA Equities transport analyst Matt Crowe said he was surprised at the level of weakness in yields from Qantas’s domestic operations in May.

”We have seen three or four months of weakening domestic airfare trends [from Qantas]. But we would have expected more of the weakness to be in the international side of the business,” he said.

While international fares have remained relatively flat in recent months, those for Qantas’s domestic flights have been declining, reflecting a large increase in capacity by airlines.

The Macquarie Equities aviation analyst Russell Shaw said in a note to clients there was likely to be ”limited upside” to Qantas’s share price because of risks to earnings in 2012-13 from a substantial increase in capacity from airlines in the domestic market.

”As capacity is ramped up more aggressively by Qantas over the next six months on both the mainline and domestic front, it is hard to see the yield growth trend heading anywhere else but further south,” he said.

Despite the release of the weak traffic figures, shares in Qantas rose 2.5¢ to $1.10 yesterday, helped by a 1 per cent rally on the sharemarket. Virgin fell 0.5¢ to 38.5¢.

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No comfort for investors in watchdog’s ancient history

INVESTORS banking on the accuracy of the corporate watchdog’s register of financial services licence holders to work out whom they should trust with their money, might want to reconsider.
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Insider tried yesterday to get an answer to whether (a) the Australian Securities and Investments Commission does regular checks of its licence holders, and (b) if the licence is ”attached” to the company to which it is issued, or the person controlling the company.

The official response was a link to an ASIC website, and a copy of its regulatory guide to financial service licences, both of which raised more questions than answers.

Audits and checks of holders seem to be random, and so long as the appropriate forms are filed and no flags are raised, there appears to be no restraint on how you use the licence once it is granted.

That probably explains the emails and phone messages Insider received over the weekend after last Friday’s column on the mysteries of Republica Capital, and its attempt to inject itself into the hollowed-out ASX listing of MediVac.

According to ASIC’s professional registers, Republica is an authorised representative of a derivatives trading company called Alt-FX. That same company has also authorised Beauchamp Securities to trade under its licence.

ASIC’s register of licensees, available so investors can check the bona fides of people offering to invest their money, says that Alt-FX operates from the offices of E.Vo Global Asset Management in Sydney, and is audited by Peter White. According to E.Vo director Jacob Pope, who rang Insider from Canada, that company has not had anything to do with Alt-FX, and its then controller Andrew Howard, for the past four years.

At any rate, ASIC company records, as distinct from the licence register, show that Howard passed control of Alt-FX to fellow director, Kieran Honour, last November, who then shifted its official digs to his home in suburban Prahran before giving it a shingle in Collins Street.

Honour is named on Republica Capital’s website as its chairman, so it was presumably a pretty simple matter, as the owner of Alt-FX, to authorise Republica to be its representative. Beauchamp shares the same Collins Street address as Alt-FX, and its director Trent McKendrick also sits on the board of Alt-FX.

The last time Alt-FX lodged a set of accounts with ASIC was in July 2010 – and they were already more than 12 months old. Honour signed them, with banker Albert Verdicchio, and they showed the company had a grand turnover of less than $60,000 and net assets of less than $75,000.

They also claimed that the company’s principal activity was acting as investment adviser to Alt-FX SPC, based in the Cayman Islands – which is interesting because Insider has seen records that say the Cayman company was struck off in October 2009. Presumably Alt-FX must have found something else to do so its directors could make the statement that nothing had happened since the end of the financial year that would significantly affect operations.

Last week, Honour, as shareholder/director, filed a copy of a letter sent to himself as company secretary to convene a meeting to have Alt-FX’s auditor, Peter White, removed. The letter was dated April 20, which brings a new meaning to snail mail.

Insider wonders just what use ASIC’s register of licence holders is if Alt-FX is an example of how outdated the information can be.

How many people are giving their hard-earned money over to licence holders on the naive assumption that those operating under a licence have been vetted by ASIC within living memory?

Symex comes up short

SYMEX Holdings appears to have been unable to meet an $11 million debt repayment obligation due by June 30, judging by its call for a halt to share trading yesterday.

The troubled consumer goods and tallow trader has been trying to offload non-core assets to generate cash to cut its borrowings. It recently sold its DCS International offshoot, having written off more than $4 million of associated goodwill in the half-year result, and had been aiming to sell non-core properties by the end of financial year to help meet the bank loan repayment.

Symex has had plenty of time before yesterday to alert the market to its attempts to get its repayment terms extended before the deadline, and the ASX should be asking if those buying and selling its shares in recent times were trading in a fully informed market.

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Finance sector growth will stay sluggish – Westpac

WESTPAC’S senior leaders have cautioned that growth across the financial services sector will remain modest over the medium term as consumers and businesses pay down debt and curb spending.
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The slower growth pace is part of a broader structural shift in the financial landscape, prompting banks to overhaul their businesses, they said.

”The uncertainty and volatility created by the European sovereign crisis are contributing to more cautious customer behaviour and lower growth,” the bank said in an update to shareholders released yesterday.

The comments came as closely-watched credit growth figures released by the Reserve Bank showed lending across Australia remained subdued during May, with mortgage lending mostly flat.

”Businesses and consumers are more conservative in their approach with a preference for lower levels of gearing and increased saving activity,” the joint update by the chief executive, Gail Kelly, and the chairman, Lindsay Maxsted, said.

”As a result, growth remains uneven and activity remains soft in those sectors that rely on consumer demand, non-commodity exports and tourism.” But activity in mining and other related sectors remained solid.

In a separate update to shareholders – also issued yesterday – rival ANZ said Australia and New Zealand remained well-placed even in the face of softening global economic growth.

Early signs of a recovery in business lending have appeared, with the Reserve Bank data showing loans to business growing for the third month in a row. Business lending is now more than 8 per cent on an annualised basis.

Despite the broader caution, Westpac said Australia’s economic fundamentals remained sound, with low unemployment, controlled inflation and low levels of government debt.

The ANZ chairman, John Morschel, said his bank’s Asian focus was providing it with a competitive advantage. But he noted there was ”significant pressure” on profit margins as a result of competition for deposits and higher long-term funding costs.

Westpac said it was directing efforts into investment sectors that were expected to generate higher growth and returns. That included pushing ahead with its retail strategy of multi-branding while building its wealth management business.

Analysts say banks can survive a period of slow credit growth as long as broader economic growth remains in place. But investors should prepare for a period of subdued returns.

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Blackmarket organ trade spreads among Europe’s poor

Ervin Balo, left, who tried to sell a kidney to support his family while unemployed, with his wife, Elvira, and one of his children, in Kikinda, Serbia. Pavle Mircov, who has advertised a kidney for sale online after losing his job, in Kovin, Serbia.
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BELGRADE, Serbia: Pavle Mircov and his partner, Daniella, nervously scan their email inbox every 15 minutes, desperate for economic salvation: a buyer willing to pay nearly $US40,000 for one of their kidneys.

The couple, the parents of two teenagers, put their organs up for sale on a local online classified site six months ago after Mircov, 50, lost his job at a meat factory. He has not been able to find any work, he said, so he has grown desperate. When his father recently died, Mircov could not afford a tombstone. The telephone service has been cut off. One meal a day of bread and salami is the family’s only extravagance.

“When you need to put food on the table, selling a kidney doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice,” Mircov said.

Facing grinding poverty, some Europeans are seeking to sell their kidneys, lungs, bone marrow or corneas, experts say. This phenomenon is relatively new in Serbia, a nation that has been battered by war and is grappling with the financial crisis that has swept the continent. The spread of illegal organ sales into Europe, where they are gaining momentum, has been abetted by the internet, a global shortage of organs for transplants and, in some cases, unscrupulous traffickers ready to exploit the economic misery.

In Spain, Italy, Greece and Russia, advertisements by people peddling organs – as well as hair, sperm and breast milk – have turned up on the internet, with asking prices for lungs as high as $US250,000. In late May, the Israeli police detained 10 members of an international crime ring suspected of organ trafficking in Europe, European Union law enforcement officials said. The officials said the suspects had targeted impoverished people in Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

“Organ trafficking is a growth industry,” said Jonathan Ratel, a European Union special prosecutor who is leading a case against seven people accused of luring poor victims from Turkey and former communist countries to Kosovo to sell their kidneys with false promises of payments of up to $US20,000. “Organised criminal groups are preying upon the vulnerable on both sides of the supply chain: people suffering from chronic poverty, and desperate and wealthy patients who will do anything to survive.”

The main supply countries have traditionally been China, India, Brazil and the Philippines. But experts say Europeans are increasingly vulnerable.

An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 kidneys are illegally sold globally each year, according to Organs Watch, a human rights group in California, that tracks the illegal organ trade. The World Health Organisation estimates that only 10 per cent of global needs for organ transplantation are being met.

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, the director of Organs Watch and a professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, said the attempt by poor Europeans to sell their organs was reminiscent of the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when chronic joblessness created a new breed of willing sellers.

Trade in organs in Serbia is illegal and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But that is not deterring the people of Doljevac, a poor municipality of 19,000 people in southern Serbia, where the government refused an attempt by residents to register a local agency to sell their organs and blood abroad for profit.

Violeta Cavac, a homemaker advocating for the network, said that the unemployment rate in Doljevac was 50 per cent and that more than 3000 people had wanted to participate. Deprived of a legal channel to sell their organs, she said, residents are now trying to sell body parts in neighbouring Bulgaria or in Kosovo.

“I will sell my kidney, my liver, or do anything necessary to survive,” she said.

Hunched over his computer in Kovin, about 50 kilometres from Belgrade, Mircov showed a reporter his kidney-for-sale advertisement, which included his blood type and phone number.

“Must sell kidney. Blood group A,” the ad said. “My financial situation is very difficult. I lost my job, and I need money for school for my two children.”

After six months of advertising, Mircov said, his days are punctuated by hope and disappointment. He said a man from Mannheim, Germany, had offered to fly him to Germany and cover the transplant costs. But when Mircov tried to follow up, he said, the man disappeared.

A woman from Macedonia offered $US24,000 for a kidney from his partner, Daniella, but that was $US12,000 below her asking price. She noted that she has blood type O, which can bring a $US12,000 premium on the organ market because the blood is safe for most recipients.

Mircov said he had no fear about an eventual operation or legal strictures forbidding organ sales. “It’s my body, and I should be able to do what I want with it,” he said.

Government officials insisted that Serbia was not so poor as to reduce people to selling their body parts, while police officials said not a single case of organ trafficking in Serbia had been prosecuted in the past 10 years. Experts who study illegal organ sales said prosecutions were rare because transplants usually took place in third countries, making them difficult to track.

Djoko Maksic, a leading nephrologist who runs the transplant program at the Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, expressed disbelief that illegal organ selling was taking place in Serbia, saying every potential donor was scrutinised and vetted by a hospital committee consisting of doctors, ethicists and lawyers.

But Milovan, 52, a former factory worker from a rural village in southern Serbia, said he “gave” his kidney to a wealthy local politician who, in return, put him on his company payroll and offered to buy him medication. The kidney was extracted at a public hospital in Belgrade, he said, with both men using forged donor cards indicating they were brothers.

Debt-ridden, Milovan, who declined to give his last name for fear of being ostracised by his neighbors, lamented that the recipient had recently cut him off, and his family said he had spent his money so quickly that he was reduced to selling eggs at a local market.

The New York Times

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Lion swallows small critters

Creature comfort … LWB’s Howard Cearns and Nic Trimboli are optimistic.It’s no secret mainstream beer consumption is heading south at the same time as craft- and premium-beer segments continue to grow. Little surprise, then, that Lion recently pounced on a bunch of brands including Guinness, Stella Artois, Little Creatures and White Rabbit.
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The Japanese-owned Lion is Australia’s second-largest brewer, producing mainstream beer brands such as Tooheys, XXXX, Swan and the craft offshoot James Squire. The rights to brew Guinness and Stella Artois locally have been held by rival Foster’s for decades, and their transfer to the Lion stable takes on added significance with the takeover bid for Little World Beverages, which produces Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Pipsqueak Cider.

Lion’s premium-craft portfolio suddenly got a whole lot fatter.

Lion already owns about 36 per cent of LWB and the buyout will give them control of breweries in Fremantle and Healesville, plus a healthy slice of the craft-beer market. Another Little Creatures brewery is under construction in Geelong and is due to start production in about April next year, which may have been the tipping point for Lion’s bid, as they have no Victorian brewing facilities.

”Lion chose the timing and for shareholders it was a good offer and a good process,” a director of LWB, Howard Cearns, says.

”Who knows what is the right time [to sell] but weighing it all up it didn’t feel wrong.

”I believe Lion has a commitment to preserve the product standards, if not even build upon the consistency. [They recognise] that the people and culture that exists are very important to the company’s success.

”No doubt it’s [a] changing of the guard but [there are] plenty of great people to make sure the story continues.”

LWB also has three hospitality venues, in Fremantle, Healesville and Melbourne. It will be interesting to watch their progress under the new regime – major Australian breweries have shown little enthusiasm to run pubs and bars in recent times.

Cearns says he and fellow Little Creatures founder, Nic Trimboli, have ”no regrets” about accepting Lion’s offer but ”certainly some tinges of sadness to be letting go. Also a sense of satisfaction among founders [about] what we created and contributed to the growth of craft in this country.”

Another intriguing piece of the LWB buyout involves the 20 per cent share they hold in Byron Bay craft brewer Stone & Wood. The latter’s head brewer and co-owner, Brad Rogers, says the Lion bid had come ”out of the blue” and he is unclear how the big brewery’s part-ownership will affect Stone & Wood.

The changes also added significance to the pair of limited-edition brews that arrived on my desk from Little Creatures and the Lion-owned Malt Shovel Brewery. In line with recent Little Creatures Single Batch brews, Day of the Long Shadow is a complex, high-alcohol ale – something with higher production costs seen more as a marketing tool than profit-maker. It’s just the sort of thing an accountant sitting in a big brewery head office might decide isn’t worth the investment.

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It’s what’s inside that counts

Tasting of a lifetime … Shavaughn Wells and Richard Mattner of Saltram.Something was missing at the recent Saltram museum tasting. Here was a rare opportunity to taste Saltram Mamre Brook reds from the current vintage to the first one from 1963, and Stonyfell Metala from now to the first from 1959. Yet only one member of the younger generation of wine writers was present. Everyone else was grey-haired – or no-haired. And it’s not that younger guests weren’t invited. My regret was the chance to taste history and learn about the evolution of Australian wine was not shared by the up-and-coming generation.
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There were 96 bottles lined up, 50 of them Mamre Brook, 46 Metala. These are hardly high-end wines. Indeed, they’re inexpensive. It goes without saying they’re not fashionable. Hot-climate South Australian red wines from big companies (Saltram is part of Treasury Wine Estates, formerly Foster’s) are a bit on the nose these days. But these are both excellent red wines, much improved of late, very affordable and distributed widely. Metala is about $19-$23 and Mamre Brook $29-$33. These are wines for the people.

Metala 1970 and Mamre Brook ’71 are two of the first wines I ever bought to cellar, in the late ’70s. Both were made by Peter Lehmann and his team, who walked out of Saltram in 1979 when new owner Seagram began to change things. Consequently, the wines of the 1980s are disappointing, partly because Seagram was not quality-oriented and was, temporarily, in a region and a business it knew nothing about. Even in great years such as 1986, ’90 and ’91, they managed to make below-par wines. Both in Mamre Brook and Metala, the alcohols are low – due to harvesting too early – and the acids high, most likely due to over-acidification. The wines are same-ish and bland. It’s a reminder of how picking the grapes too early can result in loss of terroir, just as in more recent times winemakers have been accused of picking their grapes too late.

It’s likely other factors were at work, too: lesser-quality grapes and vineyards overwatered to gain higher yields. But this cannot be the case at Metala, which has always been a single-vineyard wine. Mamre Brook is Barossa; Metala is Langhorne Creek – grown by the Adams family and their forebears the Formbys, who have owned and farmed this iconic vineyard since they first planted it in 1881. Today’s manager, Guy Adams, took over the job in 1981. Metala was vinified at the vineyard until 1952, then at Stonyfell’s Adelaide winery and then at Saltram’s Barossa winery, to the present day.

The wines of the early 1970s were impressive from both labels: none of the wines we tasted was ”over the hill” and there were no significant technical flaws. Metala, for instance, was outstanding from 1959 to ’63 inclusive, and the more successful seasons of the ’70s were also excellent, including ’71 and ’72. But there were few exciting wines until the ’90s, except for standouts such as ’80, ’84 and ’86.

With Mamre Brook, the early wines (1963 to ’78) were a pleasant surprise: really excellent, mellow and complex. But there wasn’t much to excite between 1980 and 2001 except the ’84 blend and ’96 cabernet. This is an indictment of the winemaking.

Until 1995, the wine had always been a cabernet shiraz blend, but in 1996 then-winemaker Nigel Dolan decided to split the crop and make two separate wines. Quality improved during the latter part of Dolan’s term and has continued to rise. Shavaughn Wells joined Dolan in 2004 and Dolan left in 2007. Certainly, Wells’s recent vintages, produced with assistant winemaker Richard Mattner, are outstanding; none better than the current release 2010. The only recent vintage to rival 2010 is 2006, when both wines were rippers – especially the shiraz.

Oak and alcohol emerge as historical concerns, and while the oak situation has been addressed, alcohol hasn’t. The alcohols started creeping up in the late ’90s and since 2002 Mamre Brook and Metala have been between 14.5 per cent and 15 per cent alcohol almost every vintage. A few have touched 15.5 per cent. The wines don’t taste unbalanced, but I wonder if they are going too far? When we consider the earliest wines were substantially lower, you’d have to conclude it did them no harm. In the ’80s, the wines for which there are records (by no means all) were between 12 per cent and 13 per cent alcohol, but no one would turn the clock back to this period, as the wines were very ordinary. There’s no doubt their richness, charm and character is better today, but maybe the makers could shave a per cent off.

The other startling feature of the older wines, both Metala and Mamre Brook, was that they were aged for 2½ years to three years in large 500-gallon vats – 2250-litre casks. It’s become accepted wisdom that small oak barrels, some new, are necessary to make great red wine. But the older vintages had no small or new oak, and are still wonderful. Perhaps they weren’t so ”pretty” or aromatic as young wines, but is that enough reason to hit them with a lot of oak?

Wells doesn’t think so, because she’s gone back to large vats for at least part of the maturation – with some difficulty. These barrels are not easy to come by today. But she is gradually building up a cellar of them, and is very pleased with the results. Certainly, the recent vintages don’t show overt oakiness.

Don’t expect to find these wines in smart restaurants and groovy wine bars. Look for them in supermarkets and unfashionable bottle shops everywhere.

[email protected]南京夜网TASTINGSMcLEISH TAKES GOLD IN LONDON

Hunter Valley boutique vineyard McLeish Estate has scooped a field of international contenders, winning the trophy for the best semillon at the International Wine Challenge in London. The wine was their 2007 vintage, made by one of the region’s star semillon makers, Andrew Thomas. Owners Robert and Maryanne McLeish flew to London to accept the award at the Taste of Gold ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground on June 20. The family’s 11 hectares of vineyards were established at Pokolbin in 1985 and second-generation family member Jessica is involved today. The same wine won the trophy for the best open vintage semillon at the 2012 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show. It will be served to 800 guests at the awards presentation banquet in September.MAC BACKS THE VAT

Saltram is not the only winery buying large maturation vats. The trend is quite wide. Yarra Valley winemaker Mac Forbes approached the doyen of Austrian coopers, Franz Stockinger. “He insisted on sitting down with me and tasting and talking before he would sell me a barrel,” Forbes says. “He opened a couple of dozen bottles with me. I think he wanted to gauge my commitment and see whether I’d thought it through properly. He sold me one 1200-litre cask.” Forbes fermented riesling in it this year, and hopes to buy more. “It completely changes the texture,” he says. Certainly, a high-acid 2012 riesling tasted much better balanced out of the cask than it did from stainless steel.CARPINETO UNCORKS CHIANTI

Italian wines with DOCG – the Italian appellation control system – must by law be sealed with a cork. Hence, it’s not possible for a winemaker to seal a Chianti with a screw cap. Carpineto, a large Tuscan producer, has decided to have a joke on the authorities, in true Italian style. It has released a red wine called Spolverino, Italian for feather duster – as in “today’s rooster is tomorrow’s feather duster”. The label depicts a black rooster (the symbol of Chianti) sweeping up corks with a feather duster. It is screw-cap sealed and its name is Carpineto 2010 Spolverino Toscano IGT (pictured). At $18, it’s $2 cheaper than the same maker’s 2010 Chianti Classico, but tastes similar. Its leathery, smoky, animal aromas may challenge purists, while the taste is typical savoury Tuscan sangiovese in style. Carpineto wines are exclusive to Woolworths stores.WAHBY TAKES TOP JOB

George Wahby is the new chairman of Wine Australia Corporation. He replaces Jim Dominguez. Wahby was formerly the chief executive of McWilliam’s Wines until he resigned last year. He is also a past director and vice-president of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

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WA calls for crack down on overseas university campuses, student recruiters

The WA government has called for a regulator to be established to monitor overseas campuses of Australian universities as well as international student recruitment agents to get rid of unscrupulous operators.
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In a submission to the federal International Education Advisory Council, which is considering a national strategy for the sector, the state government said Australia had failed to properly communicate the benefits of international education to the domestic community.

That had led to negative perceptions that it was solely a profiteering industry that robbed locals of educational and job opportunities, in turn fuelling racial vilification of international students.

The government also recommended higher education students be given greater work opportunities while in Australia and activities organised to encourage engagement with local students.

About 50,000 international students who study in WA each year are highly valuable to the economy, each spending on average $11,500 during their time in the state, compared to $810 for leisure visitors, according to Tourism WA.

“This demonstrates that international students, their families and friends could be considered ‘super tourists’,” the state government submission says.

“However, the benefits of international education have been poorly communicated to the Australian community and the contribution of international education is not clearly understood by the general community.

“This is demonstrated by reports in the media of negative perceptions held by the Australian community towards international students …

“Commentators have also made reference to a public perception within Australia that international education in Australia is a commercial enterprise (making money), first and foremost.”

While present marketing strategies focused on promoting Australian education overseas, initiatives needed to focus on promoting the benefits to the Australian community to “dispel negative myths and stereotypes”.

Attacks on international students have affected Australia’s reputation as an international education destination in recent years.

University of WA vice chancellor Paul Johnson said it had been one of the university sector’s greatest failings in the past 25 years.

“While most Australians could effectively explain the benefits of mining, tourism or agriculture to our collective future, the benefits of international education (both financial and cultural) are not well understood,” Professor Johnson wrote in a submission to the advisory council.

“Lack of awareness among other vital stakeholder groups must also be tackled: for example, among some employers who may be unwilling to employ international students; taxpayers and state governments unwilling to extend transport discounts and other general services, for fear that taxpayer funds are being misused.”

Australia also had failed to educate the community about Asia “beyond a superficial level”, Professor Johnson said.

Australian students who studied overseas still preferred North American and European universities, while there were few graduates literate in our neighbours.

“… this is acutely felt in the region,” Professor Johnson wrote.

“UWA asserts that outbound mobility of Australian students is as important as inbound mobility in underpinning a sustainable strategy for international education.”

Professor Johnson called for compulsory language and cultural studies in university degrees, admission bonuses for those who completed a language to Year 12, scholarships to support Australian students to study abroad and greater research collaboration with Asia.

He also raised the need for a regulator to monitor overseas campuses and student recruitment agents.

Unscrupulous education agents working overseas have in the past exploited students with false promises about automatically getting a migrant visa.

Professor Johnson said the present model, which places the responsibility on universities was “inappropriate” and did not allow for “any effective control”.

The state government submission, signed off by the former education minister, Liz Constable, says a regulatory framework similar to that used to accredit migration agents would strengthen the industry and help protect the integrity of the education system.

“This will ensure that prospective students are recruited through education agents who operate ethically and professionally, as well as providing assistance to students in cases of disputes with the education agency,” the submission says.

“Transnational education, if not managed and monitored closely, could pose a threat to the delievery of education to onshore international students due to a potential de-valuing of Australian qualifications.”

The state government, which is developing its own strategy for international education in WA, also called for international university students to be given greater work experience and networking opportunities and job matching services.

Students in vocational courses should be given the same working rights and migration pathways as university students, it said.

“International students graduating from Australian institutions in areas of critical need are an important resource,” the government submission says.

“By completed [sic] their studies in Australia they have an understanding of studying, living and working in Australia.

“They represent a high value human capital that can assist in meeting Australia’s future skills needs.”

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Unfamiliar international hotel brands are ‘sussing out Perth’

Perth hotels – so pricey to construct, developers have been offered grants and lowered market rates.After years of inaction and escalating hotel room prices several international brands, including Hilton, are seriously considering opening or expanding in Perth.
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Hilton yesterday confirmed it was exploring options for a second hotel in Perth and the WA branch of the Australian Hotels Association said it was in talks with other big name chains.

“Some of them are well known in Europe and the US but not necessarily in Australia [and] some of them are Australian,” AHA WA chief executive Bradley Woods said.

“Over the next couple of years we expect that there will be additions to the international chain hotel names that are within the Perth market.

“We’ve had discussions with a number of chains about their interest in expanding the presence of their existing properties.

“WA is certainly on their scope.”

Hilton vice-president development Australasia Robert Scullin yesterday told an industry newsletter the international company planned to unveil more Australasian ventures during the next 12 months, including in Australia.

WA was high on the company’s sights and it was investigating existing Perth properties that could be converted into the capital city’s second Hilton hotel alongside the Parmelia on Mill Street.

“The Perth market is where every hotel would like to have more inventory,” Mr Scullin told Travel Today.

Hilton also has previously made it known it would like to build a resort in Margaret River, though it is understood issues with zoning stalled any plans.

There have been very few hotel rooms created in Perth in the past five years, causing a severe shortage that has seen capacity reach well over 80 per cent and prices to escalate.

The industry estimates 1900 new beds are needed in the city by 2020 to keep up with demand.

The situation led Minister for Tourism Kim Hames to announce groundbreaking incentives for hotel developers, including providing state land at reduced market rates, flexible floor space bonuses and infrastructure grants.

The former Fire and Emergency Services Authority headquarters on Hay Street in the CBD is the first government-owned site to be made available at a discounted rate to the hotel market.

The government is presently negotiating with potential developers.

Mr Scullin did not comment on whether Hilton was interested in the site.

Construction costs in WA – which are the highest in the nation – have made many hotel projects unviable.

But hotel developers are becoming increasingly interested in pre-fabricated techniques, allowing all or part of a project to be built in a factory and then assembled on site.

Hilton’s new 164-room hotel in Karratha, announced last week, will incorporate the technique, with the top six storeys built off-site and transported to the mining centre.

“The new model has certainly reduced the construction time and the size of the teams required to build a hotel,” Mr Scullin told Travel Today.

The new 56-room Quincy Boutique Hotel is being constructed in a factory in just seven months and will be transported to its site, a former car park behind the Perth Ambassador Hotel on Adelaide Terrace.

The ambitious Australian Pacific Hotels project was approved by the City of Perth in April.

A Tourism WA spokesman said Perth’s construction costs had stagnated hotel construction.

“In certain conditions modular construction definitely has the potential to reduce construction costs, which should impact positively on project viability,” he said.

Mr Woods said there was increasing interested in pre-fabrication of hotels but it was only suitable for certain sites that were “dead flat” and could be accessed by cranes.

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Bureau of Statistics admits blundering on jobless figures

THE Australian Bureau of Statistics has got the official employment figures wrong, and the bureau says it will not correct them because it would cost too much money.
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The figures are used by the Reserve Bank and Treasury as a key economic indicator.

Officially, employment did not grow at all last year after surging 363,500 in 2010. But yesterday the assistant statistician Paul Mahoney told a seminar that job numbers probably climbed 30,000 to 35,000 more than officially acknowledged in the first nine months last year and increased 60,000 to 70,000 less than acknowledged in 2010.

This means official figures overstated the weakness in the labour market that led the Reserve Bank to cut rates at the end of last year and overstated the strength that led it to push up rates at the end of 2010.

“We acknowledge we have problems with the way we are benchmarking the labour force at the moment,” Mr Mahoney said. “We are not hiding behind this, we are being very open about it. This is a public seminar, this is going to be repeated a few times.”

The employment figures are calculated from a door-to-door survey of about 29,000 households. To turn the results into a national number, it has to estimate the size of the population.

Usually it gets the estimate right. But at times when the rate of population growth is changing rapidly it can get it wrong.

In 2010 it overestimated the growth of the population, in turn leading to overestimate employment growth. Instead of correcting the published figure, it understated its estimate of population growth last year.

As a result the published employment figures for last year were flat, whereas the reality was continued jobs growth.

Mr Mahoney said yesterday the difference was not “statistically significant”, but acknowledged they were significant in terms of presentation, making it look as if jobs growth had stopped last year when it almost certainly had not.

“Yes, it does change the story,” he told the Herald.

To improve the bureau’s processes might cost $1.5 million and take more than a year – but it has had its capital budget cut 25 per cent.

“We are certainly considering changing our processes and looking at how we might fund it,” Mr Mahoney said. “But we are far more capital constrained than we were. This is just one system within the organisation. There are competing demands.”

The bureau will attempt to save money by moving its monthly employment survey online, posting passwords and login codes to the households that take part rather than visiting them and following up with phone calls. It will also abolish or make less frequent a number of less-important labour force surveys.

The unemployment rate, presently 5.1 per cent, is unaffected by the bureau’s problems with its measure of employment.

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Surrogacy promise a ‘mistake’: Newman

The LNP government plans to stop single people, same-sex couples and couples who have lived together for less than two years from having a child through surrogacy.Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he supports changes to prevent single people and same-sex couples from having a baby through use of a surrogate, but won’t say why.
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In an interview with brisbanetimes南京夜网.au to mark 100 days in office, Mr Newman also defended the watering down of civil union legislation, saying his compromise was a “far more middle-road, considered outcome” than some in the Christian right thought the government would take.

Rights activists have reacted angrily to several decisions made by the Newman government in its first few months in office, including the de-funding of LGBT health group Healthy Communities and the removal of state-sanctioned ceremonies from civil partnerships, which have been renamed as registered relationships.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has also flagged legislative changes to ban singles, de facto couples of less than two years and same-sex couples from accessing altruistic surrogacy, where a woman agrees to carry a child for no payment.

This is despite Mr Newman saying before the election no changes would be made to surrogacy laws.Watch Premier Campbell Newman’s full interview here.

Asked what message the various changes sent to the LGBT community about the value the government placed on their relationships, Mr Newman focused on each decision in isolation.

He argued the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities had not shown “demonstrable improvements” in HIV/AIDS infection rates and had become an advocacy group, so HIV/AIDS prevention would be funded in a different way.

“In relation to civil unions we said very, very clearly before the election that we’d repeal the legislation as long as we didn’t leave people in legal limbo,” he said.

“I think that what we’ve achieved is a very fair and reasonable outcome and what I point to is that people at the extremes of both sides are making all sorts of wild claims.

“There are still people in the Christian lobby groups who are saying it should have been repealed; you have people at the fringes of the gay advocacy groups who are saying you’ve taken away something. I dispute both points of view.

“I think gay and lesbian people have been given security, peace of mind that these relationships can be registered and maintained in Queensland. If someone wants to have a ceremony with their friends and family they can.”

Mr Newman said he had argued “passionately” against the “unacceptable” motion by Katter’s Australian Party to revoke existing civil unions from couples who had already entered into them.

Some in the LGBT community have argued they have been hurt by the removal of state-sanctioned ceremonies and renaming of civil partnerships to registered relationships, a name they say sounds more clinical and akin to registering pets.

But Mr Newman, who has previously voiced his personal support for gay marriage, said people should look at the LNP’s pre-election comments.

He insisted nobody who was interested in the matter could say they did not know changes would be made to civil unions.

“Arguably we’ve done less than what we said we were going to do,” he said.

“We’re a democratic country, we’re a democratic state; we went to the election saying things that have been thoroughly documented and we actually have done something that is [a] far more middle road, considered outcome than perhaps what some people in the Christian right thought we were going to do and we’ve had to answer to them as well.

“I mean, we’ve actually done the very best we can by people and I think people should look at that.”

A week before the election, Mr Newman dismissed suggestions the LNP might make changes to surrogacy laws.

“We will not be making any changes to the laws on those matters,” Mr Newman said when asked about potential changes to surrogacy laws six days before the election.

Mr Newman last week refused to concede he had broken an election pledge by allowing greater surrogacy law restrictions to be drafted.

“I made a mistake,” he told brisbanetimes南京夜网.au in the interview recorded on Thursday.

“Basically there was a press conference in the dying days of the campaign.

“I was asked a question about something and frankly I was not across what my team had been pushing for back in 2010, and the background of this is it was a year before I become the leader that the whole surrogacy legislation had been dealt with in the Parliament.

“It was pointed out to me subsequently that, ‘hang on a second, that is not the view of the team, it is not the view of the party room and it’s particularly not the view of the parliamentary team right now’.”

Asked whether his LNP colleagues had pushed him into the surrogacy changes, Mr Newman said he was listening to his team.

“Again, this is a democracy,” he said.

“One minute the Labor Party are saying this guy doesn’t listen to people, this guy somehow just bosses people around; next minute I’m being criticised, am I, for listening to people? It’s a democracy.”

Mr Newman said he personally supported the planned changes to exclude singles and gay couples from surrogacy, but refused to outline his reasons.

“Well I do, and I’m not particularly going to canvass it today, but when it comes to Parliament you’ll hear the debate,” he said.

The Australian Christian Lobby, which lobbied Mr Bleijie over civil unions, welcomed the planned surrogacy law changes, arguing it was a win for the rights of children.

But Alex Greenwich, from the Australian Marriage Equality lobby group, argued the Newman government was moving Queensland backwards, saying removing rights from citizens was “one of the most un-Australian actions this government could take”.

In December, Mr Newman suggested the LNP wouldleave the recently passed civil union legislation in place if no couple had signed up by the time of a change of government, but would be unlikely to make changes if people had already registered.

However, during the formal election campaign, Mr Newman changed the emphasis such that he promised to look at repealing civil unions so long as couples were not left in “legal limbo”.

In May, Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the state’s HIV rates had doubled over the past 10 years and he would re-direct about $2.5 million in annual funds away from the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

Instead, a ministerial advisory committee would be created because the figures showed a fresh approach was needed, he said.

The government’s use of figures has been disputed. QAHC argued it only received funding for HIV prevention among gay men, a group it said had decreased as a proportion of people diagnosed over the past 10 years.

In late May, about 2000 people rallied in Brisbane’s CBD and marched to Parliament House to protest the de-funding of QAHC and the potential removal of civil unions.

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Study reveals stark mental health figures for indigenous prisoners

Nearly 90 per cent of indigenous women in Queensland prisons have a diagnosed mental illness, the first systematic research into Queensland’s indigenous prisoners has revealed.
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That is four times the rate of mental illness in the general community.

And nearly half of indigenous prisoners have been imprisoned four or more times.

The Australian-first research – soon to find its way into a new Queensland government policy called Inside Out – found 73 per cent of indigenous males in prison had a diagnosed mental illness; severe depression, psychosis and severe anxiety.

It is 21 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody highlighted poor mental health was a contributing factor to why indigenous people were over-represented in Australian prisons.

It is only now that a carefully constructed research project, based on interviews with 396 indigenous prisoners in six of nine Queensland prisons, reveals the truth about mental health.

The study, produced after four years of research, has found clear evidence of the link between poor mental health and repeat offending.

“The high prevalence of diagnosed psychotic disorder, particularly among women is of concern,” the report finds.

“Psychotic disorder is associated with significant morbidity and increased risk of re-incarceration.”

Interviews were completed over eight weeks in May and June 2008, but published for the first time yesterday in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The survey, carried out by researchers from Queensland’s Forensic Mental Health Service, included assessments by culturally-trained forensic pyschiatrists.

Overall, the research finds that 73 per cent of male indigenous prisoners had a diagnosed mental illness, while 86 per cent of women suffered mental illness.

Psychiatrists Ed Heffernan and Kimina Andersen, from the QFMHS, said the research gave evidence of the problems people had assumed since 1991.

“In Queensland we didn’t have a specifically identified mental health service (for prisoners) up until 2006,” Dr Heffernan said.

“And the bit that has developed in parallel along that way has been the identification of the prevalence of mental disorder among the general prisoner population.”

The research released this week discovers the situation for indigenous prisoners in Queensland.

“While those of us who have been working in the area always suspected the prevalence of this, we didn’t have the data in a reliable and systematic way and that is what this study adds to the picture for the first time,” Dr Heffernan said.

The study found:51 per cent of indigenous women suffered severe anxiety problems, (20 per cent of men);69 per cent of indigenous women suffered substance abuse problems, (66 per cent of men);29 per cent of indigenous women suffered severe depression, (11 per cent of men); and23 per cent of indigenous women suffered psychotic disorders (8 per cent of men).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still 14 times more likely to be jailed than non-indigenous people.

They make up almost 26 per cent of Queensland’s prisoners, despite being about 3 per cent of the general community.

Dr Heffernan said the researchers used cultural experience to exclude aspects which could have exaggerated the results by reducing the “cultural bias” of the sensitive research.

“Psychotic illness is a severe brain disorder, characterised by hallucinations, delusions, disorganised thoughts and behaviour,” hen said.

“Many of the things that go towards diagnosing a psychotic brain illness are question such as ‘Do you hear voices?’.

“Whereas, for an indigenous person, it would not be uncommon for them to say ‘Well yes, I hear the voices of my relatives who are deceased who help me as guidance from elements of the spirits’, for example.

“So if you misunderstood that, as not being part of indigenous culture, you might say that was a delusion, or a hallucination.”

The project team then had the interviews overseen by forensic psychiatrists and indigenous experts, who sat on a panel to accurately assess the interviews.

Ms Andersen, an indigenous women, said community ties played a much stronger role in protecting mental health in the indigenous community.

“Health systems are, in general, about treating individuals,” she said.

“Where with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people it is about your family, your community, your system that support community members.

“It is not so much about getting treatment as an individual person.”

A five-year mental health plan for indigenous prisoners is now being developed.

Ms Andersen said there was no doubt women prisoners felt most vulnerable in prisons.

“Women were obviously quite vulnerable in this population to psychotic disorders, to substance misuse,” she said.

Alcohol and cannabis are the drugs of choice among indigenous prisoners, rather than the amphetamines and opiates found among the wider community.

Ms Andersen said the research also showed communities did not feel they had the ability to look after people with mental illness.

“There is almost a lack of comprehension of how to manage family members who have a mental disorder,” she said.

The research shows the problem, worsened by mental illness, could become a horrible self-perpetuating circle of “prison-release-prison-release-prison”.

“In our study, what we have found is that around about 50 per cent of males (indigenous prisoners) and over 40 per cent of females have been in custody more than five times,” Dr Heffernan said.

“These are people that are coming in out, in out, in out.

“So what that starts to suggest is that not only is it good enough to have services that are culturally sensitive and meets the needs of people while they are in prison, you actually have to have services that meets their needs once they get released and link them to community services.”

This period of time when an indigenous prisoner was first released was the high risk period, Dr Heffernan said.

“The data about deaths, about relapsed mental illnesses, and about re-hospitalisation, about drug overdoses and suicides, are at rates during that period – particularly in the first few weeks – that are so much higher than the general community,” he said.

“It is just extraordinary. It is such a very high risk time.”

Dr Heffernan said it made sense to invest money at this stage of treatment, because otherwise people were simply re-admitted to public hospitals, which was a major public health cost.

“So really it makes a public health dollar argument that you should invest in transitional services,” he said.

“So you should be helping people re-connect into the community.”

Ms Andersen said video links for indigenous prisoners into remote communities, sports, culture rooms in prisons plus visits from elders were making improvements.

* Diagnosed mental illness was classified as regular bouts of mental illness over the 12 month period before the 2008 interviews as assessed by forensic psychiatrists.

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‘Oligopoly’ squeezes drivers out of CBD

Brisbane is Australia’s most expensive CBD for one-hour parking, according to the RACQ.The RACQ has blasted a “comfortable oligopoly”, comprising Brisbane City Council and two major private providers, which it said had exploited an undersupply of parking that has made driving into the CBD sole domain of the very wealthy.
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RACQ spokesman Michael Roth was speaking off the back of yesterday’s RACQ annual audit of capital city off-street parking costs, which found Brisbane was Australia’s most expensive CBD for one-hour parking, and the second most expensive city for parking overall.

But Neighbourhood Planning chairman Amanda Cooper disputed the motoring body’s claims the council was to blame, arguing it delivered the right balance of car parking and public transport for the CBD.

Brisbane City Council operates two off-street car parks in the city, at King George Square and Wickham Terrace, with the rest of the market dominated by Sydney-based Secure Parking and Wilson’s, headquartered in Hong Kong.

Though the council approves applications for parking developments in the CBD, a spokesman said there were no ongoing charges associated with privately managed car-parks.

While Mr Roth said the council car parks were well priced relative to the fees charged by the private competitors, overall rates for the 25,141 off-street spaces in the city were unreasonable.

“It’s a question of supply – there aren’t enough parks in Brisbane – but it’s also a question of a comfortable oligopoly with little interest in making parking affordable in the city for anyone who isn’t a corporate with a private park,” he said.

“Council tells us they want a vibrant city – well if you’ve got people paying an average of $42.31 for two hours’ parking and $65.71 for four hours while shopping or seeing a movie, that’s not going to encourage vibrancy is it?”

While Wilson’s declined to comment in regards to why their prices had risen steadily since 2001, a spokeswoman for Secure Parking defended the increase on the grounds not all drivers paid the standard “rack” rate identified in the RACQ study.

“The majority of drivers are early bird, monthly or taking advantage of one of the host of offers that Secure Parking has in the market,” she said.

“For example, through its free Club Secure program, Secure Parking offers all day early bird parking at multiple car parks right in the heart of the CBD for less than $20.

“To simply look at one rate of parking in isolation is not an accurate reflection of the full range of off street prices and offers available to drivers particularly when most of our Brisbane car parks offer 20 minute parking with some from as low as $5.”

Cr Cooper said the council was focused on developing public transport to offset a reliance on off-street parking supply in the CBD.

“We ensure CBD commercial buildings have adequate parking,” she said.

“However it’s a careful balancing act as too many car parks will lead to peak hour gridlock in the CBD and then everybody loses.”

Mr Roth said the RACQ had not considered private lease arrangements, nor included early bird rates in the audit, acknowledging motorists could still find good deals.

“But they’re not for everybody,” he said.

“RACQ has expressed to government and BCC that a charge to enter the CBD may make more sense than these huge parking charges plus tolls on inner city bypasses [like] Clem7.

“We now have relatively empty and bankrupt toll roads doing little to reduce congestion while we charge exorbitant rates for a short CBD visit. Is that really the best outcome our governments can facilitate?”

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Newman’s 100-day warning: state must do ‘more with less’

Campbell Newman says he does not believe the removal of 20,000 public servants would affect services.
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Stressing the need to reshape the public service, the Queensland Premier argued the private sector had found ways to “deliver more with less” during an interview with brisbanetimes南京夜网.au to mark the 100th day since the Liberal National Party’s election landslide victory.

Mr Newman said the period since the election had seen the fulfilment of election pledges, including Sunday’s axing of the waste levy and the reinstatement of a discount of about $7000 for property owners who buy another home.

However, the last few months have also brought upheaval in the public sector with the non-renewal of a raft of temporary contracts and decisions not to replace workers who left the service.

In recent weeks, Mr Newman has used a report by a Peter Costello-led audit team to paint a gloomy picture of the state’s finances and argued the state currently employed 20,000 more public servants than it could afford.

Unions have been increasingly active, arguing that job cuts would harm services.

Asked whether he accepted there was no way to remove 20,000 public servants without affecting services in some way, Mr Newman rejected the assertion.

“Sorry, I don’t accept that,” he told brisbanetimes南京夜网.au.

“I believe that we need to, in a very careful way, restructure the public service to ensure that it is efficient and that it delivers for Queenslanders.”

Mr Newman said private companies around the nation and world, in the face of challenges and competition, had identified how they could “deliver more with less”.

“I mean, for example, airfares today are in real terms cheaper than they were 10 years ago, 20 years, 30 years ago, and yet levels of service are very good,” he said.

“You can catch flights, airlines run on time, they’re safe. Similarly in terms of electronic goods, they’re cheaper today than they were in real terms 10, 20, 30 years ago.

“Why does the public service think that it shouldn’t change?

“What we need to do is find new, cutting-edge ways to deliver services and to cut down on waste and inefficiency, in particular in the back office.”

As departments have been working their way through cuts, unions have questioned the definition of frontline services, amid pledges by the government to protect frontline workers.

Mr Newman said a frontline public servant was someone who was “directly delivering for the community” including nurses, doctors, firefighters, police officers, social workers and school cleaners.

He said he had ordered ministers and directors-general to start looking for cuts in head office.

“We’re starting by saying if you’re going to sort of look at where you shed jobs, you shed them within a few hundred metres of where you as the minister work,” he said.

Mr Newman made the comments in an interview recorded on Thursday ahead of today’s 100-day milestone.

On at least three occasions in the lead up to the election, Mr Newman vowed not to use the financial commission of audit as an excuse to walk away from election promises.

The LNP pledged no forced retrenchments in the permanent public sector, but Mr Newman last week would not say if he regarded that as one of his promises he would not abandon.

“Look, I’m going to work very hard to save jobs, that’s all I can say at the moment,” he said.

Mr Newman said the government had already made it clear it could not protect people on temporary contracts and casuals, but was concerned about ensuring permanent public servants had job security.

However, he said the government had a “massive problem” not of its creation and he did not want to put up taxes or borrow more.

He said he would do everything he could not to retrench people, but this would be made harder if unions pushed for above-inflation wage increases.

Mr Newman has previously used the audit commission report to argue the government was living beyond its means.

The audit report notes that employee expenses jumped by 40 per cent between 2005/06 and 2007/08. Much of this went towards things like child safety services, transport infrastructure, hospital beds, better wages and conditions for health staff, and the prep year introduction.

Mr Newman said there was no dispute that more money had gone into certain areas, but insisted there had not necessarily been improvements to service delivery.

“We’re not efficient,” he said.

“Let’s look at one example; police officers are provided with houses in rural and regional Queensland, so are firefighters, ambulance officers, people in the health area.

“Each of those departments have their own units that run those houses, and we’ve seen situations where for example you’ve got empty houses for one department, and another department not having enough space in some of these regional towns and having to go and rent properties on the private market. That’s not efficiency.”

Mr Newman said he believed the LNP’s first 100 days had “gone pretty well”, but would not say if he had lived up to his pre-election comments that it would be “the most exciting, energetic period of change” Queenslanders had seen in decades.

The former Brisbane lord mayor said the job was “not particularly” more difficult than he had thought, but argued the Brisbane City Council processes were much more efficient than state government ones in numerous areas, including when it came to booking a flight or hiring a consultant.

“It [the state government] is a bigger organisation; it’s more complex; it has its own particular ways of doing business but frankly the BCC could teach them a lot down here,” he said of the differences between the two levels of government.

MPs from both sides of politics have privately argued the LNP can be assured of at least two terms in government, given the LNP currently holds 78 seats to Labor’s seven in the wake of the crushing result in the March 2012 election.

But Mr Newman dismissed such suggestions as “outrageous” and the musings of “the same old political insiders” that Queenslanders were sick of.

He said he did not take people for granted.

Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday released a Labor document that argued the first 100 days had been full of broken promises.

It accused the LNP of talking down the economy and pursuing a jobs “purge” based on a politically motivated audit report.

Ms Palaszczuk, in an interview with brisbanetimes南京夜网.au published last week, defended the previous government’s budget and debt strategy and argued the LNP government had created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the public service.

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What the gossip mags say

Married on screen and off … Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in a scene from Mr & Mrs Smith.BRAD PITT and Angelina Jolie stand in their wedding finery, gazing lovingly at each other, clearly just counting down the seconds until they can run off and do what newlyweds do (raid the minibar and bitch about the catering), but what exactly is going on here? Has New Idea pulled off the coup of the century, landing wedding photos from Hollywood’s king and queen before everyone else? Well, yes and no. Actually it’s pretty much no. They are the real actors and they are at the altar, but the pics are from seven years ago when the pair played a married couple in Mr and Mrs Smith. Apparently, the shots ”we were never meant to see” have just surfaced, sending a distraught Jennifer Aniston ”right back to 2005” and giving a clever pic editor the chance to pull some sleight of hand.
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Which is better than what Aniston’s father is planning if her new man Justin Theroux ever breaks her heart. ”Make sure he treats you right,” Woman’s Day is somehow claiming to have overheard him say, ”because I can still throw a left hook if he steps out of line!”

It’s strangely not dissimilar to what they reckon the Queen (yes the Queen, as in Elizabeth II) has done to Kate Middleton, ordering her to curtsey to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie in a secret memo. ”She’s hurt,” royal stalker Bill Coles said. ”But she has just taken her medicine and kept quiet.” Until such time as her husband ascends the throne, we imagine. Then they’ll be bowing so low those ridiculous hats will be a danger to passing corgis.

Away from royalty, both real and screen, there’s titillation galore this week. Who has a loved-up Lara Bingle echoing her ex Michael Clarke who memorably said he ”couldn’t be happier” at his recent wedding to Kyly Boldy. Yeah? Lara says, well I’ve ”never been happier” than with new bloke Gareth Moody. Zing!

And NW has the most horrific (and therefore unmissable) photos of celebrities who have made poor surgery decision in years. There’s Tara Reid’s ”frowny face” stomach, Joan Rivers’s asymmetrical eyes and worst of all, ’80s pop star Pete Burns lips, which apparently burst from over filling.

But nowhere to be seen in the (admittedly small sampling of four) magazines we trawled through was mention of the TomKat split. Despite weeks of predictions that Katie Holmes would leave husband Tom Cruise and take daughter Suri with her, the actual announcement caught just about everyone post-deadline, leaving this prime piece of gossip untouched. For now.

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Foley hoping for a Barnes storming performance

BERNARD FOLEY hopes his debut as Waratahs playmaker will free Berrick Barnes to tap into his recent red-hot Test form and help the struggling side finish the season on a high during the next fortnight.
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Barnes has moved to inside-centre in the Waratahs’ penultimate Super Rugby match against the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on Saturday to accommodate Foley’s first provincial foray at five-eighth.

They ran in those positions at the squad’s training run yesterday, alongside returning winger Lachie Turner, Drew Mitchell, centre Rob Horne and utility Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Foley, who spent his junior years at No.10 before joining the Waratahs, said he was adjusting well to the change from fullback but still expected Barnes to lead from his outside.

”I don’t have to tread on Berrick’s feet, he’s still allowed to be the dominant playmaker and call the shots as well but it’s a way we can adjust and be more dynamic,” he said.

”It’s probably going to help Berrick play a bit more ad lib, he was allowed to do that at the Wallabies and you saw how successful it was for himself and the team. When Berrick plays the free-flowing football he’s capable of he’s at his most dangerous, so hopefully this is a way in which we can unleash Berrick Barnes in the Super competition.”

Foley appeared to slot comfortably enough into the playmaker’s position at training, but admitted feeling somewhat intimidated by the task of bossing around some of his heroes.

”It’s pretty overwhelming when you come into a side [with] the likes of the Wallabies – the Drew Mitchells, the Rocky Elsoms … all those guys, and then you’re in the position to steer them around,” he said.

”But if you rest on that I think you won’t really achieve your full potential, so I’ve got a job to do and that’s to lead them around. So hopefully if I get selected at 10 I can keep that communication up and steer them around.”

One of Foley’s main challenges will be manufacturing a connection with the Waratahs starting halfback who, by the looks of the combinations yesterday, could be Brendan McKibbin, Sarel Pretorius or even Grayson Hart, who was heavily involved in the session and has done well for Southern Districts at club level.

Foley said communication would be the eventual pairing’s best weapon against unfamiliarity.

”If there’s direct communication between you and the No.9 you really go a long way to achieving what your overall objective in the game is,” he said. ”There is that unfamiliarity but with that I suppose there’s that excitement, in that you’re not that sure what they’re going to do and you don’t know that they’re going to take the opportunities.”

Horne, who returned to the Waratahs late last week after a successful stint with the Wallabies, could not hide his relief at having the likes of Test-proven wingers Turner and Mitchell in the back line once more.

”It’s a good feeling,” he said. ”I’m really excited for Lachie to come back and play if he gets picked, and having those guys [and] training inside them again it’s good, there’s a lot of experience there and you can probably tell just by watching with the noise level and stuff like that, so it’s good.”

Foley and Horne missed the Waratahs’ round-11 clash with the Brumbies in May but both remember the two-tries-to-none education their teammates received.

”That was a frustrating game for us, in the first half we had the pressure on them and we were unable to convert that pressure into points and take our opportunities,” Foley said.

”They scored that try on half-time and that probably created a little bit of doubt in that [Waratahs] team and the Brumbies were able to get a bit of a roll on and we didn’t recover.

”That’s the thing that plagued us and is at the front of our minds at the moment, getting that back, and when we do get the opportunities, to take them.”

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Brumbies ready to run wild and turn the tables on Tahs

No fear … Brumbies attack coach Stephen Larkham.THE new generation Brumbies have consistently broken records this year and they insist the scars of the past will not prevent them from breaking their Sydney hoodoo on Saturday night.
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Just 12 months after being embarrassed by the NSW Waratahs at ANZ Stadium, the Brumbies are poised to end a painful 16-year stretch in Sydney.

The Brumbies have beaten the Waratahs at home just once – but with Jake White’s men closing in on the finals, it could be the Brumbies’ turn to inflict pain.

The rejuvenated team have unexpectedly started restoring pride this year. They became the first Brumbies team to win in Wellington in nine years, had the club’s most successful two-game tour of South Africa and have more than doubled the amount of wins they secured last year.

With just five survivors from the starting XV that was demolished 41-7 at ANZ Stadium last year, attack coach Stephen Larkham said the new side had no fear of playing in Sydney. ”We went up there with big expectations last year, we didn’t want to lay down even though our season was over,” he said.

”The Waratahs are a different side at home, they’re hard to beat. We generally win at home and they would win up there when I was playing … this year it’s different with where we’re sitting. We can make what we want of this season and the way we’re playing and the headspace we’re in, there’s a lot of confidence there, our game is at a far higher standard than what it was last year.”

The Waratahs have lost their past six games and haven’t played since losing to the Hurricanes on June 2.

Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Peter Kimlin, Pat McCabe and Andrew Smith are the only survivors from the Brumbies’ starting side that succumbed to a Waratahs onslaught in June last year and the memory of ending the team’s worst season on a sour note still lingers.

But outside-centre Smith said new faces brought new enthusiasm and a confidence that the Brumbies could topple the Waratahs at home.

”It was tough last year, the boys weren’t really up for it and the Waratahs saw that,” he said.

”That’s the message this week, we have to be ready to go and we have to be on.”

Meanwhile, the Western Force have been dealt another huge blow with captain David Pocock in doubt for their last two Super Rugby games in New Zealand against the Blues and Crusaders.

The loss of the worlds best openside breakaway to a groin strain would be a disaster for the club who are already struggling to ensure they have a full squad for the tour.

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

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