Ex-Slater and Gordon boss earns 5% of firm’s value in pay

Slater & Gordon Chairman John Skippen leaves the company’s AGM in Melbourne. Photo by Jesse Marlow. . GRECH BRW 080515 MELB PIC BY JESSICA SHAPIRO… Andrew Grech, manageing Director of Slater & Gordon in his Melbourne office this morning. FBM FIRST USE ONLY PLEASE!!! SPECIALX 84853

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA 14 NOVEMBER 2013: Photo of James MacKenzie who is retiring as Chairman of Mirvac, during the company’s AGM meeting in Melbourne on Thursday 14 November 2013. AFR / LUIS ASCUI

Paying Slater and Gordon’s former chief executive Andrew Grech a remuneration package of $1.5 million in a year when the company almost collapsed isn’t a good look.

That the company is valued on the market at $28 million, after overseeing a strategy that resulted in the decimation of billions of dollars of shareholder funds, doesn’t help the optics.

Nor does a board decision to shell out a $1.6 million package to the chief financial officer, Bryce Houghton, whose resignation coincided with the company’s announced full-year loss of $547 million, including an impairment charge of $350 million on its disastrous UK acquisition in 2015.

The way executives are paid, in good times and bad, speaks volumes about a company’s culture. It also says a lot about the board.

Slater and Gordon went on a debt-fuelled acquisition binge that almost destroyed it. But along the way it forgot its core values, which include deep ties with the labour movement and representing the underdog, the victim.

This was epitomised by a decision in 2015 to spend millions of dollars on a high-profile, five-year sponsorship of the Olympics, at a time when money was precious.

Besides being a poor use of shareholders’ money, during the period of Slater and Gordon’s sponsorship, the AOC has been at the centre of a series of scandals in recent years.

Not the least being controversies around AOC president John Coates, including when Coates wrote to senior AOC staff that a young, female employee, who was being treated for cancer, should “get out in the real world” because the AOC was not a “sheltered workshop”.

How the Slater and Gordon board and senior management could have thought such an expensive Olympics sponsorship was a good fit with a law firm that represents blue-collar workers is hard to fathom. That it didn’t pull the plug after the scandals erupted is equally curious.

Grech resigned as managing director on June 29 as part of a recapitalisation agreement with hedge funds. That agreement included Grech remaining on the board as non-executive director until the completion of the recapitalisation agreement.

But a remuneration report released on Thursday night reveals Grech will continue to receive fees equivalent to his base salary as managing director at $560,384 until he leaves.

It says the board’s approach to remuneration is “balanced, fair and equitable”.

The question is fair to who? Shareholders who will be diluted to 5 per cent after the rescue plan is completed in mid-November?

Interestingly, directors, including chairman John Skippen, took home a similar level of director fees in 2017 as those approved by shareholders in 2015, back when the company was valued on the sharemarket at $2.8 billion.

It meant Skippen pocketed $240,000 during a year when the company had a negative cash flow, massive losses, was under investigation from ASIC and shareholders had launched a class action.

Skippen was chairman when the company received a “first strike” on its remuneration report in 2016 after thinking it was a good idea to pay bonuses to executives as well as issue performance rights to Grech when the company was essentially in a death spiral.

Part of Grech’s $1.5 million includes an expatriate allowance paid while he was in the UK trying to fix the mess and an “end of service benefit”, which he will receive when he ceases being a non-executive director.

In anyone’s books, this is a lot of money for running a company that almost went belly up from poor strategy and execution.

The board, particularly those members who signed off on a series of debt-funded acquisitions over the years, can’t escape blame. The role of the board is ultimately to take responsibility for strategy, culture and reputation.

In the case of Slater and Gordon, the $1.2 billion acquisition of a British personal injury law firm just shy of its own market capitalisation was a big risk. At the time of the announcement, I wrote that it would give it a “massive short-term sugar hit, but the long-term aftertaste could be a concern”.

Britain is a tough market, with a number of n companies losing a fortune. Hubris and greed would add Slater and Gordon to the list.

The consortium of international hedge funds that will take ownership of Slater and Gordon, in a plan announced on Thursday night, will appoint company director James MacKenzie chairman and clean out the other directors.

It will also roll out a new business strategy, which will make the company leaner and take it back to its roots. The strategy will involve growing its personal injury practices in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, improving and restoring its relationships with the union movement and leveraging third-party relationships to build referral networks.

It sounds simple enough but will take deft work and an ability to stop the exodus of good, high-profile lawyers.

Some of the decision makers have already jumped ship, getting off scot-free. Some have stuck around, for now.

But the rise and fall of Slater and Gordon, and the hopeful rise again, will be one for the corporate history books.

The rescue package means Slater and Gordon will remain a listed entity, with lead hedge fund Anchorage Capital committing to remain a shareholder for at least three years. The UK business has been hived off, the class action settled. Now it is a matter of wait and see.

The angst about our productivity? Totally unproductive

What a joke. A scholarly article in Treasury’s latest Economic Roundup has admitted that all the years of handwringing over our poor productivity performance was just jumping at shadows.

Turns out all the angst was caused by not much more than the figures being distorted by the mining industry’s construction boom.

This after our top econocrats gave speech after speech urging “more micro reform” to improve productivity and keep living standards rising. (They’d have advocated more reform even if productivity was improving at record rates; its supposed weakness was just a convenient selling proposition.)

Meanwhile, the business lobby groups, led by the Business Council of , claimed – without any evidence – the supposed weakness had been caused by the “reregulation” of wage fixing under Labor’s evil Fair Work changes, and demanded the balance of bargaining power be shifted yet further in favour of employers. (A claim even the Productivity Commission wasn’t convinced by.)

Even at the time, it seemed the contortions of the mining industry during the decade-long resources boom were a big part of the story, but that didn’t stop people who should have known better going into panic mode.

“Despite concerns”, the paper by Simon Campbell and Harry Withers, says with masterful understatement that “‘s labour productivity growth over recent years is in line with its longer-term performance.

“In the five years to 2015-16, labour productivity in the whole economy has grown at an average annual rate of 1.8 per cent.

“This compares to an average annual rate of 1.4 per cent over the past 15 years, and 1.6 per cent over the past 30 years,” says. A productivity primer

Let’s take a step back. Productivity compares the quantity of the economy’s output of goods and services with the quantity of inputs of resources used to produce the output.

When output grows faster than inputs – as it does most years – we’re left better off. This improvement in our productivity is the overwhelming reason for the increase in our material standard of living over the years and centuries.

Productivity can be measured different ways. The simplest (and least likely to be inaccurate) way is to measure the productivity of labour: growth in output per worker or, better, per hour worked.

Labour productivity improvement is caused by two factors. The first is by increases in the ratio of labour to (physical) capital used in the economy.

This known as “capital deepening” – translation: giving workers more tools and machines to work with, which makes them more productive.

The second driver of labour productivity is improvements in the efficiency with which labour inputs and capital inputs are used, arising from such things as improved management practices. This known as MFP – multi-factor productivity.

In recent years the figures have shown multi-factor productivity growth to be zero or even negative, causing great concern among some economists, including the Productivity Commission.

But Campbell and Withers argue this focus on MFP is misplaced. They remind us that MFP is calculated as a residual (the product of a sum), meaning its likelihood of mismeasurement is high.

And they criticise the conventional view that physical capital should grow no faster than output – known as “balanced growth” – because capital deepening is an inferior source of productivity improvement to MFP. Forget ‘balanced growth’

People take this view because (making the unrealistic assumption that the economy is closed to transactions with foreigners) increased investment in physical capital must come at the expense spending on consumption.

The authors point out that achieving improved MFP isn’t costless, while the price of capital goods (most of which are imported) has fallen persistently relative to the price of consumption goods.

“This has allowed to sustain its high rate of capital deepening without forgoing ever higher levels of consumption,” they say.

Actually, they say, our economy has never fitted the “balanced growth” story. Of the 30-year average of 1.6 per cent annual growth in labour productivity, MFP contributed only 0.7 percentage points, while capital deepening contributed 0.9 points.

Next the authors examine the causes of the ups and downs in labour productivity improvement overall by breaking the economy into six sectors: agriculture, mining, manufacturing, utilities, construction and services (everything else).

They find that labour productivity in agriculture is now 2 1/2 times its level in 1989, but it’s too small a part of the economy – 2.5 per cent – for this to make much difference to the economy-wide story.

The utilities sector showed strong productivity growth until the turn of the century, before steadily declining through to 2011-12, mainly because of one-off developments such as the building, then mothballing of many desal plants. The key factor

The story of mining is well-known: its productivity fell because of the delay between companies hiring more workers to build new mines and gas facilities and that extra production coming on line. Since 2012-13, however, mining productivity has shot up. What a surprise.

Productivity in manufacturing and construction has grown at similar rates to the economy overall, as has productivity in the services sector (hardly a surprise since services now account for 70 per cent of gross domestic product).

Over the past five years, more than half of our total labour productivity improvement was attributable to the services sector, compared with about a quarter attributable to mining.

Apart from productivity improvement in the various sectors, overall productivity can be affected when changes in the industry structure of the economy cause workers to shift from lower-productivity sectors to higher-productivity sectors, or vice versa.

Because mining, being highly capital-intensive, has by far the highest level of labour productivity, the authors say it’s really only when workers move in or out of mining that structural change has much effect on economy-wide productivity.

“These movements of labour into and out of mining have been the key driver behind the fluctuations in … aggregate labour productivity growth,” the report concludes.

Now they tell us.

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.

Parramatta turns up heat on its city rivals

There has been a lot of talk about Parramatta in the press of late, and for a good reason.

The level of construction activity is in the billions, the offices are full, shop tills are ringing and industrial landlords are snapping up any land they can find.

It’s not having a day in the sun, more like the rest decade, if all the projections come true.

One of the latest projects is the $876 million South Quarter development by Dyldam, which includes a $225 million commercial hub, covering offices, retail and hospitality outlets over 39,000 square metres.

GPT Group is building a $230 million office tower, while Walker Corporation and Charter Hall are part of the revamp of the $6 billion Parramatta square development.

According to Savills’ research, getting a foothold in the office sector will be no mean feat with the private sector competing head-on with an expanding array of government offices all wanting space.

In the latest data from the Property Council of , vacancy for premium-grade office space is zero, while B-grade is filling up fast.

JLL’s director of leasing, Scott Butler, said Parramatta was undergoing “phenomenal regeneration”.

All this activity is leading to solid rental growth.

JLL Research is forecasting above-average prime gross effective rental growth over the next year, with prime grade vacancy zero, no prime-grade assets and only 10 secondary grade assets with more than 1000 sq m of space availability.

“Not only have we seen commercial values appreciate very strongly over the past three years in Parramatta, but the net increase in stock over the next three years will likely be the largest of any of Sydney’s commercial markets.”

Mr Butler said Parramatta is the geographic centre of metropolitan Sydney, and a key piece in the formulation of government infrastructure policy. This will include development of the Parramatta Light Rail, as well as early feasibility works under way for the Sydney Metro West.

However, Parramatta’s occupier profile is diverse. JLL’s head of research, , Andrew Ballantyne said Parramatta already had a strong representation of corporate , with seven of the top-20 ASX-listed companies in its CBD.

“Western Sydney is a population growth corridor of NSW and will record strong growth in the working age population. We believe that organisations are increasingly undertaking more sophisticated workforce population mapping exercises and will consider Parramatta as a strategic location to assist with the work-life balance of employees,” he said. Retail booming

Knight Frank’s senior research manager, NSW, Alex Pham said the Parramatta CBD was experiencing a massive development boom, with more than 21 DA-endorsed mixed-use developments in the pipeline. According to the City of Parramatta, projects could yield nearly 9200 extra dwellings and about 170,000 sq m more commercial floor space.

The retail vacancy rate in the Parramatta CBD retail core measured 2.8 per cent as at July 2017, marginally higher than that in the Sydney CBD at 2.6 per cent.

“Currently dominated by food outlets, we expect the tenant profile in Parramatta to change over the coming years as a larger variety of fashion, footwear and technology retailers take up space in the Parramatta Square development. With the Parramatta light rail linking surrounding suburbs, Parramatta will become a more attractive retail destination for western Sydney residents,” Mr Pham said.

“Food retailing was the most dominant retail category in Parramatta as at July 2017, accounting for 27 per cent of the total tenancy mix.”

Knight Frank research shows most food retailers were street-front takeaway shops, restaurants and cafes, which accounted for 82 per cent of the total number of food retailers in Parramatta. Clothing and footwear retailers had the second-largest presence in the city, representing 19 per cent of the total retail units. This is in contrast to the Sydney CBD’s retail tenancy mix, which has clothing and footwear as the most dominant retail category, 39 per cent, followed by food retailing at 18 per cent.

Newcastle netball grand final: Wests end Souths reign with emphatic winvideo, photos

Young guns complete changing of the guard PRESSURE: Wests Leagues Balance centre Sophie Buckley pays close attention to Souths’ Narelle Eather on Saturday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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TweetFacebookWests Leagues Balance celebrate their 55-32 Newcastle netball grand final win over Souths @newcastleheraldpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/hZTP1T2D3s

— Craig Kerry (@craigkerry77) September 2, 2017

The minor premiers moved six goals in front by half-time then blew the Lions away in the third term, outscoring them 19-5.

“We had a strategic talk at half-time that we were going to force their centre passes wide, which is where we turned the ball over in that first five minutes of the third quarter,” Baggs said.

“I think they still played the same way through the game, whereas we were changing each quarter what we were doing. We didn’t change players in that third quarter, but we changed how we were playing.”

NSW Premier League shooter Taylor rarely missed her chances in the circle to take full advantage of Wests’ work up the court.

Baggs said the shooter was a key player for Wests and was driven to succeed after grand final heartbreak at the hands of Souths over the past three years.

“She was very determined, having played the last three years with Forsythes,” Baggs said. “She wasn’t losing.”

Buckley’s match-upwith veteran star Narelle Eather at centre was another key to Wests’ win.

“She was determined Narelle wasn’t going to get the better of her,” Baggs said.

“Even up to the last five minutes of training the other night, she was working out ways around that circle of shutting her down. That’s a sign ofwhere these girls are at. They are willing to work and take that next step.”

Baggs, a long-time coach of Bilbie Dan,said the title was always the goalfor her new side and itwas “very satisfying” to achieve under the pressure of expectation.

“Emma [Prince], my goal attack, I’ve had her for a lot of years and we said at the startthis is the year to do it.

“And when we went in to get the sponsorship at Wests, they said, ‘Well, we expect to win.’ That was the conversation we had, and we were like, ‘Yes, we will.’”

Five Wests players will back up in next week’s NSW Metro League division-one grand final for Hunter United. Hunter’s division-four team play their preliminary final on Monday night.

What Jimmy Bartel loves most about being a father

Jimmy wears Venroy lnen shirt, $95, and trousers, $120. Aston wears Bonds T-shirt, $17, and track pants, $35. Photo: Tane CoffinJimmy Bartel had a stellar career playing for the Geelong Cats until his retirement last year, but being a dad is giving the 33-year-old a bigger kick. The new Bonds’ menswear ambassador lives in Melbourne with his wife Nadia and their son Aston, 20 months.
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What do you love most about being a father?

Watching someone you love so much discover the world is amazing. They rely on you and need you so much, and the love they return is unbelievable.

What’s the most challenging part?

Probably that you don’t have all the answers. Especially being a first-time dad, it’s always worrying. But you hope you are doing the right thing by them.

Has fatherhood changed you?

It completely changes your thinking. All your decisions and choices in life are first and foremost based around the child.

Would you like to have more children?

Yes, I’ve always wanted a big family.

Jimmy wears Bonds T-shirt, $30. Aston wears Bonds longsleeve rugby tee, $23, and track pants, $35. Photo: Tane Coffin.

What advice would you give new dads?

You’re not going to know it all, there will be a lot of trial and error. So have fun and enjoy watching these little people evolve.

Your wife is a successful fashion blogger. Is fashion important to you?

I definitely take a greater interest in it because it’s a passion of hers.

How would you describe your style?

Pretty low-key, I’m a jeans and T-shirt guy. Nadia is pretty quick to pull me up if something doesn’t look quite right!

Jimmy wears Bonds pullover, $55, and shorts, $50. Aston wears Bonds T-shirt, $17, and track pants, $35 Photo: Tane Coffin

Are you still committed to raising awareness about domestic violence?

Yes, very. I still work with Bethany [a support service]. And I’ve just come on board as an ambassador for the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. They do an extraordinary amount of work keeping children safe from violence and abuse.

What message are you hoping to get across?

Starting the conversation about respectful behaviour and attitudes towards people in the family environment. The numbers are staggering: one in four women will come across domestic violence in their life. As a community we should be embarrassed about that.

Aston wears Bonds personalised Zip Wondersuit, $40. Jimmy wears Bonds singlet, $17. Photo: Tane CoffinAny plans for Father’s Day?

Not that I know about. I’m hoping Aston surprises me with a photo of himself like last year. And maybe his mum will do the coffee run so I can have mine in bed.

Photographer, Tane Coffin. Fashion editor, Penny McCarthy. Grooming, Aimie Fiebig using Tom Ford.

Jean Hailes Women’s Health Survey finds 40pc of women have anxiety, depression

A recent survey has revealed thatapproximately40 per centof n women have been professionally diagnosedwith depression or anxiety.
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More than 10,000 n womenbetween the ages of 18 and 80 participated in theThe Jean Hailes Women’s Health Survey 2017.

The researchshows that the most anxious age group in are 18 to 35 year olds, who experience “mild”levels of anxiety. This means that these women feeleasily annoyed or irritated, worried, have “trouble relaxing”, are “on edge”, and have trouble sleeping.

For Tasmania, the survey shows that the18 to 35 age group makes up 44 per centof those who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression.

Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive Connie Digolis said there were many reasonswomen might be suffering from depression or anxiety.

“The survey itselfreflects more broadly the national identified rates of mental illness for the entire adult population of both male and female,” Ms Digolis said.

“In terms of major reasons why women specifically might be experiencing anxiety or depression, we know that women are more likely to access mental health services and seek support than men.

“This might account for the perceived higher rates of mental illness in women.”

In 2011, 10 per centof women in Tasmaniawere on antidepressants, Ms Digolis said.

“In Tasmania, women are more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than men. Again, this reflects that women are more likely to seek early interventions and receive medical support than men.

There are many things that women can be doing to improve upon their not only their mental health, but their physical health, she said.

“Increasing exercise, eating healthier food, and sleeping well are all of the standard things that are not only good for your physical health, but your mental health as well,” Ms Digolis said.

“In this day and age when we tend to be time poor, it isn’t always easy to find space to do the things that you love or be social, so perhaps our work and home lives could be better constructed to ensure our health and wellbeing is a bigger priority.”

If you are or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or online at www.lifeline苏州模特佳丽招聘.au​.

Thousands rally in Canberra for same-sex marriage

“Yes to marriage equality” rally at Canberra on Saturday.Nia 9, Evi 9, and June 6.Despite the grey skies, Canberra turned into a sea of colour and glitter on Saturday, as protesters took to the streets in support of same-sex marriage.
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Thousands of people gathered in Garema Place, many holding rainbow flags or large placards, before marching through Civic.

The large protest came ahead of a $122 million national postal survey on whether laws should be changed to allow LGBT couples to marry.

The rally was organised by marriage equality organisation group Equal Love, the group behind the large protest in Melbourne last weekend, which saw more than 20,000 people take part.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr was among the speakers at the Canberra event, telling the mass of marriage equality supporters the territory had always been strong supporters of same-sex marriage.

“We were the first state or territory to legalise marriage equality in 2013, and while the High Court said no to it, it triggered the start of a massive national campaign for change,” he said.

“It firmly ensured the issue was on the national agenda and that the federal parliament couldn’t shirk their responsibilities to step up and make the change.”

Mr Barr, ‘s first openly-gay leader of a state or territory, said there’s still a long road to go if the postal survey goes ahead.

“One of the key tasks is to keep up the enthusiasm and keep fighting for equality,” he said.

Fenner MP Andrew Leigh told the crowd that, while the postal survey wasn’t the best option to legislate for marriage equality, he urged Canberra residents to get behind the ‘yes’ vote.

“Heterosexual marriages won’t be weakened [if same-sex marriage is legalised], indeed they’ll be strengthened,” he said.

“When we have marriage equality, will be able to stand tall on the world stage, and it will be a happy day. Many weddings will be taking place and it will be an overdue debt.”

Among the other speakers was Veronica Wensing, who was among the 31 same-sex couples who got married in the ACT in 2013 during the five days it was legalised.

“That was probably the most euphoric time of our lives, perhaps the happiest moment,” she said.

“To be able to declare love for one another in front of family and friends was indescribably joyous.”

While the large group of people were peacefully protesting, a small number of police were on the scene separating the mass from a handful of ‘no’ supporters campaigning nearby.

Melissa Star was one of the thousands of protesters who took part in Saturday’s rally, driving all the way from Melbourne in order to participate.

“I was at the Melbourne rally last week, and there were people all across the city, you couldn’t even see the bitumen,” she said.

“We drove here from Melbourne last night because we wanted to send a message to the federal government that the time has come. It’s time for us to give LGBT people the right to have our families respected and recognised.”

Fellow protester, 24-year-old Betty, said she intends to vote ‘yes’ in the upcoming vote.

“I want to be able to marry my girlfriend and I want to be a part of making it happen. Crowd is building ahead of the start of the rally pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/fErSsmeZi9??? Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) September 2, 2017

McGregor’s $500,000 gamble on Dugan could deliver windfall

Josh Dugan squabbled all year over his value as a “world class player”, but Paul McGregor’s $500,000 gamble to recall the repentant Dragons centre could deliver the club he is about to walk out on a huge windfall.
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St George Illawarra’s high-stakes final-day-of-the-regular-season clash with the Bulldogs is being likened to a $500,000 roll of the dice from McGregor, who is set to rush the n and NSW star back into his side for the win-or-bust clash against the Bulldogs.

Taking into account finals prizemoney, projected merchandise sales, increased season ticket purchases, corporate hospitality, cash incentives for gate and attendance targets being met and sponsor exposure, the Dragons could net a $500,000 bonus from sneaking into the finals.

And the irony of Dugan – who argued his contract value should be pegged to that of a gun No.1 rather than a centre, before signing a four-year deal with the Dragons’ arch-rivals Cronulla – helping St George Illawarra’s bottom line is lost on few.

The 27-year-old has been in the headlines all week after McGregor axed him just hours before last week’s season-saving win over the Panthers for missing the team bus to Pepper Stadium.

McGregor confirmed on Saturday a “dangerous” Dugan would line up in the centres for the all-or-nothing clash at ANZ Stadium, which the Dragons just need to win to ensure a finals spot.

He was otherwise in little mood to discuss Dugan’s indiscretion, instead putting the Bulldogs on notice that his strike centre was primed for his biggest game of the year.

“He’s real focused and determined,” McGregor said. “And that’s dangerous for the opposition.

“[The Panthers incident] has been forgotten. He missed the bus and didn’t play the game. We’ve moved forward. I’d really not to prefer to talk about it.”

But he will be the only name on most fans’ lips at Sydney Olympic Park, particularly if his exploits can return the Dragons to the finals for the first time since 2015 and the financial rewards that come with it.

Asked about the impact his skipper, Gareth Widdop, and Dugan could have on the Dragons under the finals-like pressure cooker, McGregor said: “They’re experienced marquee players so in games like we have [on Sunday] they stand tallest.

“We need seven-and-a-half pluses out of 10 [performances] across the board. If we do that and you have one or two that come out and get nines you’re on your way to a win.

“It’s important that discipline on and off the field is at its best at this time of year. It is going into finals footy. The most disciplined sides win close games of footy. Right now our discipline needs to be at its best. It was gameday and someone overstepped the mark, but we’re still here.”

McGregor will revert Kurt Mann back to halfback and refused to guarantee any game time for Josh McCrone, who has shifted back to the bench, if circumstances didn’t suit.

“If he’s not needed he’s not needed,” McGregor said. “He knows his role within this squad. We can adjust on the run pretty quickly.

“Our for-and-against is exceptional and it’s showed where we’ve improved as a football team. We’ve lost some games that we needed to win, but now it’s time to forget about all that and go out there and play to our potential against a team that would like to go out with a couple of players leaving the club playing a tough brand of footy.”

Keep Calm and Score Goals. China has been here before

Before we all panic about Tuesday night and ‘s crucial World Cup qualifier against Thailand, let’s stop, take a deep breath and remember.
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We have been here before.

For those suffering the social media affliction (no recollection of what happened a week ago, never mind four years earlier) it’s worth recalling that as approached its final qualifying match for the World Cup in Brazil 2014 it was in an equally challenging position to that which it finds itself this coming week.

To make absolutely sure that they would qualify as runners-up behind Japan and secure an automatic qualifying spot in Brazil the Socceroos had to beat Iraq in Sydney.

Holger Osieck’s team – still containing the last remnants of the “golden generation” – made heavy weather of beating a second string Iraqi side crammed with what were then promising members of the Middle Eastern nation’s under 20 team.

It was not until lanky frontman Josh Kennedy, these days an analyst with Fox Sports but back then very much Osieck’s go-to man in case of emergency, came off the bench late in the game to head home the critical goal that gave the Socceroos a 1-0 win, ensuring that the subsequent result between Oman and Jordan would count for nothing. Had dropped points Osieck’s men could have been passed by Oman, although the result in Sydney made it academic. Oman, as it happens, lost anyway.

The Socceroos are not quite in exactly the same position but they are as close as they could be.

A thumping win over Thailand – say by a four goal margin – would ratchet the pressure on Saudi Arabia, who kick off against Japan in Jeddah some six hours after the n game finishes.

Japan qualified on Thursday night with their 2-0 win in Saitama, a deserved victory over an n team that never really got into the game.

That means that the Saudis, with 16 points and a goal difference of plus six, are ahead of in the race for second spot.

The equations are complex and varied, but the bottom line for Ange Postecoglou’s team is that if they can give the Thais a hiding they stand a strong chance of making it to Russia as an automatic qualifier.

A 3-0 win, for example, would put ahead of Saudi Arabia on goal difference (plus one) and goals scored (17 to 16).

That would mean that the Saudis would not only have to beat Japan, but to score at least two goals in the process.

If could beat the Thais by three a 1-0 win for the Saudis would not be sufficient.

In that scenario both nations would have 19 points, a goal difference of plus seven and both would have scored 17 goals. The final tie breaker between them would be the result of head to head matches during qualifying, and would go through by dint of having drawn in the Kingdom and beaten the Saudis in Adelaide this winter. However a 2-1 win for the Saudis would put them through.on goals scored, as both nations would have a goal difference of plus seven but the Saudis, in that scenario, would have scored 18 goals to ‘s 17.

Can the Socceroos do it?

Assuming they will beat the Thais comfortably is holding a hostage to fortune given that they failed to do better than get a point when they met in Bangkok, but in the circumstances has little option but to go for it.

The Socceroos cannot completely throw caution to the wind but need to keep the pressure up all night.

Thailand is out of contention, is backing up five days after a morale sapping home loss to Iraq and has nothing to play for save pride.

It will not like the cold conditions and if Melburnians can pack AAMI Park and turn it into a fortress, who knows what might be possible.

Nothing can be taken for granted, but the experience of four years ago tells us that good things can happen, they just might take until late in the piece to do so!

‘Worst ever’ flu epidemic claims six more lives

2/9/17 AMA Victoria President Dr. Lorraine Baker speaks to the media about the 2017 Influenza A epidemic in Victoria. Photograph by Chris HopkinsThe death toll from ‘s influenza epidemic has risen as doctors urge members of the public to get vaccinated against the deadly strain.
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On Saturday the deaths of six residents at a Tasmanian nursing home were confirmed in what has become the biggest flu season on record.

On Friday Victorian authorities said seven people aged between 70 and 94 had died after a flu outbreak at a nursing home in the state’s north-east.

A further 100 people were left ill following the outbreak at Wangaratta’s St John’s Retirement Village over the past two weeks.

Tasmania’s Uniting AgeWell said on Saturday it had lost six residents to an Influenza A outbreak at the Strathdevon aged care facility at Latrobe between August 9 and 16.

Despite 95 per cent of residents receiving this year’s vaccination, 31 contracted the virus, it said.

Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has ordered a review into the St John’s outbreak and said the government was considering various responses, possibly including compulsory vaccinations for all aged care workers.

“No option is ruled off the table because the paramount thing for the Turnbull government is that we protect citizens in our country from any form of virulent infection,” he said in a press conference on Saturday, foreshadowing an announcement in coming days.

Mr Wyatt encouraged people to get vaccinations if they were regularly coming into contact with vulnerable people or consider other protective measures when sick with the flu.

“Let’s not expose people to a potential health problem that could see them losing their life,” he said.

Mr Wyatt cautioned against transferring patients to another facility during an outbreak as it risks spreading the flu.

A growing percentage of the population going without a flu shot this year and a particularly virulent strain of the illness has caused the number of cases in Victoria to swell to 11,845, more than double this time last year, the n Medical Association says.

More than 105,000 flu cases have been confirmed nationally, the largest number ever diagnosed in one season, breaking a record set in 2015.

The AMA’s Victorian president Dr Lorraine Baker said it was not too late in the season to get the vaccine.

“There is an under-vaccinated population,” Dr Baker said. “This is a very virulent strain of Influenza A.”

In Victoria, annual immunisation against the flu is free for people deemed at risk, such as pregnant women and those aged 65 and over.

“[If] people are willing to pay for private vaccination … then we can increase the herd immunity in the community. “But we are not getting the same level of herd immunity out there,” Dr Baker said.

Dr Baker said the Influenza A strain was included in the current immunisation program.

“Immunisation provides some protection, but even immunised people have suffered this infection, usually at a much less severe rate,” she said.

Dr Baker said the elderly were at particular risk of developing complications from the flu. “This particular strain seems to be affecting, in the fatal sense, an older population.”

He said it was important that 95 per cent of the population was vaccinated.

“Also [I] ask people to be responsible citizens and if they feel unwell on any given day, especially with a fever, sore throat and a runny nose, to stay home. … and protect your community … from potential infection “

with AAP

Kids tell The Examiner why they love their dads for Father’s Day 2017

Fathers Day: Jonte Margison 5, Sam Demarchi 4, Jaxten Collins 4, Gypsy Fitzallen 5, Pepper Mackean 5, Primrose Bains 5. Picture: Paul ScamblerPupils at Glen Dhu Primary School know exactly why they love their dads: because they’re tall, because they play games together, and because they’re a triangle.
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While unable to verify the last claim, The Examinerfound out that most children knew their dads were the best.

Glen Dhu Primary held a Father’s Day breakfast on Thursday morning, with 5-year-oldGypsy Fitzallen joined by her dad, who, she said, is the best at concreting and roofing.

“He’s really tall and he’s got really dark brown hair,” Gypsy said, adding her favourite things about her dad were that he takes her to her favourite places.

Pepper Mackean, 5, said her dad is a hairdresser and her favourite thing about him was “how he always have time for me”.

“[We] go see waterfalls and caves,” she said.

Meanwhile 4-year-old Primrose Bainssaid she loved spending time in the kitchen with her dad, cooking butter chicken and adding plenty of chilli.

“He has a job …to be a chef,” she said. “Because he lets me help cook, I like putting the spices in.”

Jonte Margison, 5, said he liked playing games with his dad outside, visiting the concrete trucks, and “feeding the little lamby”.

When asked to describe his dad, Jonte said he looked “like a triangle”, and his favourite thing about his dad was “he’s a triangle”.

And 4-year-old Sam Demarchi said his dad’s job was to “take pictures and eat chocolate”, and Sam’s favourite thing about his dad was they play Star Wars together.

Jaxten Collins said he liked to play outside with his dad. “He has a really prickly beard,” Jaxten said.

Father’s Day ad not blocked for being ‘too political’

The body that represents commercial TV networks has emphatically denied it blocked the broadcast of a Father’s Day commercial on the grounds it was a political intervention in ‘s same-sex marriage debate.
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Dads4Kids, which describes itself as a father’s advocacy group and has campaigned against same-sex relationships in the past, accused Free TV of rejecting a new ad that highlights the relationship between fathers and their children.

In a statement, the group said it released the commercials in the lead-up to each Father’s Day as a “gentle encouragement to n dads and an affirmation that they are an important figure in the lives of their children”.

Suggesting this year’s ad would no longer be broadcast, Dads4Kids spokesman Ben Pratt said they had been told the material was deemed to be political.

He denied there was a political motive in the material and said “not everything is about same-sex marriage”.

But Free TV dismissed claims it had “blocked or banned” the commercial.

“The advertiser was requested, but declined, to add an identification tag to the commercial to comply with Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act,” the organisation said in a statement on Saturday.

“The Broadcasting Services Act requires broadcasters to ensure that commercials that contain ‘political matter’ identify the body responsible for the commercial, including the speakers in the commercial.”

Free TV said political matter was defined as anything appearing to “comment on, encourage participation in or attempt to influence a certain outcome within a political process”.

It noted recent decisions by regulatory body the n Communications and Media Authority required broadcasters to consider the content of websites referred to in commercials when deciding if they contained political matter. In its ad, Dads4Kids provides a link to its website dads4kids成都模特佳丽招聘.au.

The group has now shut down the site and its social media presence – saying it was a “preventative step” to protect itself from vilification – but a recently archived version shows material on same-sex marriage.

In the past, Dads4Kids has described gay and lesbian relationships as examples of “gender disorientation pathology”, labelling recognition of them an “attack on the rights of the children of “.

The n reported Dads4Kids had “inadequate resources” to recut the commercial with the required identification and authorisation message at the end.

The group said it had not intended to enter the same-sex marriage debate ahead of the nationwide postal survey but predicted it would nonetheless be “subject to the same vilification…meted out to those who have stuck their head above the parapet on same-sex marriage”.

Does it pay to move somewhere cheaper when you retire?

The decisions leading to retirement are swayed depending upon your personal situation and preference.
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For some, the mere thought of moving kilometres away from grandchildren would be too hard emotionally. For others, reaping the benefits of equity growth coupled with a move to a more affordable location could leave spare cash to begin tackling your bucket list.

In reality, we are a nation living longer than ever before, which requires more money to fund retirement. In 1975, an estimated 9 per cent of the NSW population was aged 65 and over, by 2016 this reached an estimated 15.7 per cent, according to ABS n Demographic Statistics (catalogue number 3101.0).

The Intergenerational Report in 2055 predicts that by the year 2055, 40,000 ns will be centenarians, compared an estimated to 3526 in 2016.

Employment insights prove a higher proportion of the population aged 65 and above remain in the workforce. This could be a matter or choice but presumably is because of a lack of funds for retirement. It is a trend that continues to edge higher.

In July 1978, the work participation rate of 65-year-olds and above was 9.4 per cent (married) and 4.1 per cent (unmarried), in July 2017 the figure rose to 16.5 per cent (married) and 8.2 per cent (unmarried), according to ABS Labour Force, .

As our life expectancy improves it is likely a higher proportion of the population will continue to work into the traditional retirement years. Ultimately, we will all need more cash to fund a basic retirement.

The introduction of mandatory Super was expected to fund a mass of early retirees. Baby Boomers have not had the pleasure of receiving this payment throughout their entire working life.

The mandatory contribution introduced in 1992 has created a gap in the superannuation savings of Baby Boomers.

A comfortable retirement will require $59,971 a year for a couple and $43,665 for a single, according to the n Securities and Investments Commission ASFA Retirement Standard for the March 2017 quarter.

Compared to the aged pension ($34,819 for a couple and $23,096 for a single), it highlights the requirement for additional savings.

For Sydneysiders, the major sway is the ability to unlock the substantial equity gain.

Moving to a more affordable location could assist in a more comfortable retirement, or allow you to financially assist your adult children – most probably to gain access to the housing market. Related: Retirees given $300,000 incentive to downsizeRelated: Downsizing cost traps awaiting n retireesRelated: ns choosing renovation over retirement villages

As of July 2018, ns aged 65 years and over can make a non-concessional (post-tax) contribution up to $300,000 (per individual) from the sale of their home into superannuation in a policy designed to encourage downsizing. It is important to consider the financial implications: the aged pension is income tested and any proceeds from the sale could alter government entitlements.

Ultimately, both financial and emotional aspects are pivotal in the decision-making process. If a move is on the cards, factor the travel distance to nearest and dearest, and research the community in which you are looking to reside.

Dr Nicola Powell is a data scientist at Domain Group. Tweet your questions to @DocNicolaPowell


ABS n Demographic Statistics, Catalogue number 3101.0.

n Government, The Treasury, Intergenerational Report in 2055.

ABS Labour Force, , Catalogue number 6291.

ASIC, n Securities and Investments Commission, Source ASFA Retirement Standard, March quarter 2017.

n Government, Department of Human Services, Age Pension.