Xi Jinping: a man for all committees

Beijing: A beaming portrait of Comrade Xi Jinping dominated The People’s Daily front page, towering over a smaller image of China’s new leadership group of seven men.
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The communist party transfers power to a new Politburo Standing Committee twice a decade.

A Chinese president and party general secretary is usually installed just once every ten years.

So five years into the job, this week was the litmus test of Xi’s real power. Entering his second term, it was time to mould an inner circle unfettered by his predecessor, Hu Jintao, and party elder Jiang Zemin.

As the image on the front page of the party’s official mouthpiece faithfully reflected on Thursday, Xi emerged as the strong man.

Breaking with party tradition, he declined to appoint a potential successor to the Standing Committee. Would Xi stay forever?

A party congress of 2200 yes men had a day earlier changed China’s constitution to enshrine ‘Xi Jinping Thought: Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’.

Chinese state media encouraged the view this historic development had seen Xi rise to the level of Mao Zedong in the communist pantheon.

Cadres and school children alike would read the Thought as a guide to action.

Xi mapped out this ‘new era’, a 30-year plan for China’s global rise, on its own socialist terms.

US President Donald Trump, from a White House riven by Republican insurrection, congratulated Xi on his “extraordinary elevation”, telling US media “some people might call him the king of China”.

But is China really in the grip of the “cult of Xi”?

Despite predictions that Xi would stack the standing committee with his followers, he respected the faction system.

It was designed in the wake of Mao to introduce intra-party competition in a one-party state.

Two Xi loyalists rose and he dominates, but the weakened Communist Youth League and Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai Gang each kept a seat, replacing retiring faction members with new faces.

These included an economic reformer who once dabbled in grass roots village democracy in Guangdong, Wang Yang, plus the party boss of market-friendly Shanghai, Han Zheng.

(The renewal of the 25-member Politburo, the next rung down, was a bigger sweep, with two-thirds of new faces said to be Xi men).

The appearance of theorist Wang Huning to a frontline political role may hint there is more to the unprecedented rise of Xi than simply a grab for personal power.

Before he disappeared inside the party machine in 1995, to work for three leaders as a political advisor, academic Wang was best known for his theory of “new authoritarianism”.

A strong and unified central party leadership was crucial for Chinese reform, Wang argued.

Wang is Xi’s speech writer, and will oversee propaganda in his new role on the Standing Committee.

Is Xi a brand for centralised party power, easier for a population to rally behind than a collective of seven drab men?

At face value, it is all Xi.

In five years, Xi has amassed power like no other recent Chinese president. The head of the military, party and state, he also chairs myriad “leading groups” on issues ranging from deepening reform to internet security and financial affairs. Premier Li Keqiang has been sidelined.

Last year, Xi became known as “the core” of the party.

The anti-corruption campaign Xi unleashed has chased the powerful and wealthy across the globe.

The toppling of Sun Zhengcai, party boss of Chongqing and Politburo member, by corruption investigators ahead of the 19th Congress smashed the party succession system. Sun, 54, is said to have been earmarked by Jiang as a future leader.

Sun’s expulsion from the party was announced just weeks before the Congress opened, while allegations he had plotted to bring down the party were aired as it met.

The timing is illustrative of how the anti-corruption campaign, which has undoubtedly been effective in changing China’s business and political culture, has also been wielded as a political tool.

The scale of “inspections” is vast – 1.5 million Party members, including 43 members of the Central Committee

The biggest scalps, including the former security and justice ministers, are frequently cited in state media to “scare the monkeys”.

Under Xi, the voices for liberal reform in China have been severely weakened. Hundreds of human rights lawyers were detained in 2015, new curbs placed on foreign non-government organisations in 2016, and China’s decades-long high-tech battle against freedom of speech on the internet and social media continued.

Tougher media censorship was highlighted when five major British and American media outlets were barred from entering Xi’s press conference to unveil the Standing Committee.

But China watchers who examine party journals have in recent months dispelled the idea of any personality cult of Xi.

In contrast to the party organ People’s Daily, city newspaper Beijing News ran the group leadership photo on its front page.

The truth of Chinese power, where decisions are made behind closed doors, can be hard to discern from the theatre.

At congress press conferences, vice ministers and provincial party chiefs sang Xi’s praise, outlining how they would abide by his Thought.

Xi was undoubtedly delivered a mandate on key policies, including military reform. It was explicitly written into the constitution that the Communist Party held absolute leadership over the People’s Liberation Army.

Xi’s key message in his congress speech was that China could only modernise with the communist party leading it.

Internationally, the political message was don’t expect a rising China to adopt western democratic reform.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has often called for China to commit to the “rules-based international order”, diplomatic language rolled out by US allies displeased by Chinese island building in the contested South China Sea.

Xi said China wants an increasing say on how the global governance rules are set.

Xi is the party’s front man into the future.

It has been pointed out the risk of this new style of dominant leader is that should things turned pear shaped for China, it will be Xi that takes the fall.

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Shareholders want power to ‘escalate’ issues

A group representing some of the nation’s biggest superannuation funds says shareholders need greater powers to ensure their concerns are heard at company AGMs – including on environmental and social issues.
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The n Council of Superannuation Investors, which represents super funds and institutions managing $1.6 trillion in assets, wants shareholders to have the ability to put non-binding, advisory resolutions on the agendas of company AGMs – a move it says would allow shareholders to “escalate” environmental, social or governance (ESG) issues when companies had otherwise failed to act on investor concerns.

It says the system governing so-called “shareholder resolutions” in is flawed, restricts shareholder rights and lags behind the regimes in Britain and the US.

Shareholder resolutions are in the spotlight this AGM season, with non-government-organisations (NGOs) like Market Forces and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility lodging a series of social or environmental-related items at companies including Santos, Woolworths and BHP.

The bulk of resolutions put to shareholders at company meetings are proposed and endorsed by boards, but groups of 100 or more shareholders – or shareholders owning at least 5 per cent of the company – can put forward their own resolutions.

But such resolutions must not venture into areas that involve management of the company, regarded as the domain of boards, not shareholders.

To get around this, the resolutions often first propose a change to companies’ constitutions – requiring a near-impossible hurdle of 75 per cent shareholder approval. Such resolutions have proved unpopular with many investors who are reluctant to vote in favour of constitutional change, even if they support the subject of the resolution itself.

Under ACSI’s proposed reform, a non-binding, advisory resolution could be passed with just 50 per cent shareholder support, but would still require the backing of at least 100 or more shareholders – or shareholders owning at least 5 per cent of the company’s issued capital – before it could be put to other investors.

n shareholders already have the power to lodge a protest vote on director and executive pay through the two-strikes policy, which triggers a resolution on a board spill if more than 25 per cent of shareholders vote against a company’s remuneration report two years in a row.

Shareholders in Britain and the US have broader powers to propose non-binding resolutions, although in the US, at the company’s request, they can be subject to a lengthy “informal review” by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the UK, courts have the power to block resolutions deemed “vexatious, frivolous or defamatory”. Active ownership

Shareholder resolutions are usually opposed by companies’ boards, and attract very small shareholder votes in their favour.

But they also attract attention to the issue at hand, for example with the ACCR’s resolution regarding BHP’s membership of the Minerals Council.

Some institutional investors say they find the resolutions helpful, because they make it easier to discuss ESG issues with company boards. But some directors argue that they can divert board resources, ignore efforts companies have already made on ESG issues and can push agendas that are – as stated by several companies in response to the resolutions – not in the interests of shareholders as a whole.

As part of its research, ACSI interviewed 20 big investors from and overseas, and studied the regimes governing shareholder resolutions in Britain and the US, where resolutions are much more common.

ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said there was “clear consensus” among investors of the need for reform, with the current system “[making] it very difficult to consider a resolution on its merits, because you are having to think about whether you want to change the constitution of the company to accommodate it.”

Ms Davidson said that – rather than investors considering such changes on a company-by-company basis – “it ought to be a market-wide reform”.

Currently, she said, shareholders left unhappy about certain issues were left with the “blunt instrument” of voting against the re-election of company directors, an action which many investors were reluctant to take – especially if they were otherwise happy with the direction of the company.

She said n shareholders needed a better way to express concerns about ESG issues.

After considering other options, ACSI recommended a non-binding vote because it was considered a “good fit” with ‘s corporate culture, where – unlike in the US – boards are more willing to discuss issues directly with investors.

A spokesman for financial services minister Kelly O’Dwyer said the government was aware of ACSI’s report and would consider its recommendations in due course. This would include “whether further legislative reform of the Corporations Act is warranted”.

“Ensuring that public companies are accountable to their shareholders is crucial, and shareholders play a critical role as a check on good governance,” he said. Proxy support

Brynn O’Brien, executive director of the ACCR, backed ACSI’s proposal. “This is a missing part of the corporate governance landscape in ,” she said.

ACSI’s plan also had the measured backing of at least two of the nation’s influential proxy advice groups, who guide institutional investors on how to vote at company meetings.

Ownership Matters principal Dean Paatsch said there was merit in “tweaking” the system to allow shareholder feedback on non-financial risks, given it was “very difficult” to support constitutional amendments.

“They can bind the board in perpetuity and create an avenue for future litigation,” he said.

But he cautioned that any changes to the current system should come with “some sensible rules around what resolutions can be put to shareholders”.

Daniel Smith, general manager at CGI Glass Lewis, said his firm supported non-binding resolutions in principle, but believed an independent third party – such as the n Securities and Investments Commission – should have the power to review resolutions.

“We are also supportive of giving shareholders the right to an annual non-binding vote on a sustainability report,” he said. “Such instruments could give shareholders additional meaningful tools of communication to boards, without going down the rabbit hole of attempting to direct the company.”

This year, CGI Glass Lewis recommended in support of Market Forces’ shareholder resolution at the Santos annual meeting, which called on the company to improve its disclosure of climate change risk. The resolution attracted 5.2 per cent of votes in favour.

The n Institute of Company Directors said it was still considering the report, but said it was a “thoughtful contribution” to the debate.

“Mechanisms that can enhance governance frameworks, without diverting corporate resources into self-interested causes, are worthy of discussion,” said AICD general manager advocacy Louise Petschler.

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Packer backs the right horse: himself

The big man was back. James Packer fronted his first Crown Resorts AGM in years, and was in vintage form with a sledge for MP Andrew Wilkie over the allegations about the casino operator’s poker machine practices.
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There was also a mea culpa of sorts over the failed overseas bet – which still made the company billions.

And, most importantly, Packer single-handedly fended off a massive vote against the company’s remuneration report.

The latter is a feat he will not be able to repeat next year.

Packer was able to pull off the face-saving act this year due to a quirk in the timing of his appointment to the board: The remuneration report relates to the previous financial year, when Packer was not on the board.

He is now on the board, of course, and will not be able to vote on the remuneration report while this remains the case.

For the record, Crown reported that the vote on the remuneration report passed comfortably: 456 million shares voted for the resolution, 97 million against.

The decisive factor was Packer’s 342 million shares. Without it, Crown would have been struck with a massive first strike – 46 per cent of voting shares going against the resolution.

“There have been no material changes to the company’s remuneration policy during the year and ASA will again be opposing the resolution,” said the n Shareholders Association ahead of the meeting.

It means that unless Packer and his loyal lieutenant John Alexander – Crown’s executive chairman – make nice with their fellow shareholders on the issue of executive pay, it will be back to the “farcical” days of old.

Who can forget Packer railing in 2011 against the fact he could not vote his stake on the issue despite drawing no pay from the company.

Not that Packer’s fellow directors have to worry about two strikes that would trigger a spill of the board.

“If that happens, I will use my votes to ensure all directors are voted back in immediately,” Packer said when the company was previously hit with a strike. Mum’s the word

Packer had enough time to delve into other pet hates like political donations. He said he wished there was a zero dollar limit on political donations, “so then people couldn’t ask” him for anything.

When asked about his mum, Ros Packer’s donation to the Liberal Party, he said, “I can’t control my mother, can you control your mother?”

He’s got a point there. Pollie waffle

Speaking of politicians, the latest walloping from Packer would be no surprise to Andrew Wilkie who came to the billionaire’s attention in 2010 when he held the balance of power in government and struck a deal with Julia Gillard to tighten controls on poker machines.

The following year Packer took him on a tour of Crown Melbourne and Wilkie recounted the experience to Good Weekend.

“The point was made repeatedly about what a responsible enterprise it was,” remembers Wilkie, who felt grateful that Packer had taken the time to show him around.

The tour ended in a conference room with Packer remarking on how pleasant the visit had been.

“Then he leaned across the table, got his face quite close to mine, and said something along the lines of, ‘We wouldn’t want the next meeting to be an unpleasant meeting, would we?’???”

Wilkie commented: “I just thought it was interesting that there was this one little moment when I got to look into his heart and soul and see another James Packer – a man prepared to use his political muscle, his financial clout, to get what he wants.”

The following year, Packer lobbed his proposal to build a casino in Sydney, sweeping aside any opposition in a breathtaking manner. Medcraft, out

Retiring ASIC boss Greg Medcraft took Senate Estimates for the last time on Thursday.

And it was an affair heavy on the well wishing.

The love-in even extended to John ‘Wacka’ Williams who thanked Medcraft, and was himself thanked by Medcraft.

It was a far cry from the often icy relations between the regulator and the Nationals senator who did not always see eye to eye on its policing of our big banks.

Part of Medcraft’s swansong also included a reversal of his now famed ” is a paradise for white-collar criminals” line.

It is a line that ASIC tried to “clarify” despite the comment being made to a room of business journalists.

Now Medcraft has officially reversed the ferret.

“We want to be a hell hole for white-collar criminals – to put it the other way!,” Mr Medcraft said chuckling.

We all do, Greg, we all do.

Follow CBD on Twitter. Got a tip? [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

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Investors starting to cool their heels

Investors appear to be cooling their heels as modest bidding yielded sales for only five of seven properties offered for auction on Thursday night.
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A Woolworths supermarket in regional Kerang fetched $15.7 million before a crowd of more than 200 people at CBRE’s Melbourne office, but bidders were cautious, spending $51.26 million in total and only just meeting the properties’ reserve prices.

The clearance rate of 71 per cent, while healthy, reflected less enthusiasm than at CBRE’s first auction in August which recorded a 100 per cent success rate and more than $100 million in transactions.

The more sober mood was also reflected in the 66 per cent clearance rate achieved by Cushman & Wakefield’s recent portfolio auction of petrol stations.

CBRE national director Mark Wizel said “I think the market is starting to show signs that buyers are cooling a lot on prices.”

The portfolio auction attracted 40 registered bidders and a further 11 parties bidding over the phone from interstate and Hong Kong, Mr Wizel said.

“But vendors are ramping up their prices after the last auction where we achieved 4.5 per cent yields for childcare centres and $22.52 million for the Dan Murphy’s in Alphington,” he said.

The reserves set on Thursday night were 17 per cent higher than the earlier auction, he said.

CBRE national director Lewis Tong said Chinese investor interest in n assets had been “patchy” in the past eight weeks.

“It’s important to recognise that we have seen slower periods before and I’m confident Chinese buyers will continue to be attracted by the strong fundamentals of the n commercial property market,” Mr Tong said.

The Chinese government has recently issued statements frowning on investments in foreign countries.

The free-standing Kerang supermarket, sold by Charter Hall, was the most enthusiastically received, selling $1.2 million above its $14.5 reserve price on a yield of 6.19 per cent.

The 4247 square supermarket in northern Victoria is on a 7954 square metre parcel of land. Woolworths pays $973,303 a year in rent for the property which has a ten year lease plus six five-year options.

Another Nino childcare centre, under construction but due for completion in December, sold for $8.9 million after just a handful of bids. The Nino centres, developed and operated by the Agosta family, all offer 20-year leases.

An n-Chinese family, resident for 10 years in Melbourne, snapped up an unbuilt Nino child care centre in Ashburton, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. They paid $10.6 million for the centre on a yield of 5.6 per cent, the sharpest yield for the night.

Another Nino childcare centre under construction but due for completion in December, sold for $8.9 million after just a handful of bids. The Nino centres, developed and operated by the Agosta family, all offer 20-year leases.

The 152-place centre at 222 Plenty Road Bundoora is on the edge of MAB’s University Hill development, next to the Ring Road. The 1255-square-metre centre is on a 4221 square metre site and will return $581,400 in rent with 3 per cent annual increases.

A third Nino centre in Brookfield Boulevard Mickleham, also under construction in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, passed in at $6.5 million.

A smaller Guardian childcare centre in Point Cook, with a 12-year lease, fetched $6.56 million on a yield of 5.9 per cent.

A Centrelink in Adelaide’s northern suburb of Salisbury sold for $9.5 million on a yield of generous yield of 6.9 per cent but an Amart furniture store in Canberra passed in at $10.92 million.

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No guarantees at City these days, even for star man Cahill

Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill might be a legend with the national team and the country’s saviour in the recent World Cup qualifying win over Syria.
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But as far as Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce is concerned, ‘s best-known player is just another squad member at City.

Joyce’s team is the only A-League side with a 100 per cent record this season having won all three games.

City seek to continue that record with a tough road trip to Adelaide on Saturday night, but there are no guarantees that Cahill, who has not started for City in any match this season, will be part of the first-choice XI this time either.

“I think Tim has had a fantastic career and has still got plenty more things he wants to achieve in his career but he is just another player at the club. It’s the same for him as anybody else,” said Joyce, as he indicated he would make few changes for the visit to Coopers Stadium.

Cahill’s presence at City this season has been curtailed by his involvement with the Socceroos. He played against Syria and is set to play a key role in the two matches against Honduras, as Joyce acknowledged.

“Unfortunately he has not really been involved in massive things for us because of the way things have gone … pre-season he was still away, and he’s had a couple of campaigns with the Socceroos and he has been unavailable for our training and games,” Joyce said.

“I imagine it’s frustrating for him, it’s frustrating for me and the group, but he’s conducted himself and trained well this week. That’s all you can do as a player.”

Joyce is very much of the school that believes if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

He is not inclined to tinker with the line-up if it’s doing well, and another of City’s better-known names to have suffered this season as a result is last season’s player of the season Neil Kilkenny, who has hardly been involved.

Kilkenny’s spot has been occupied by Osama Malik.

The latter is a player who was in and out of the team under John van ‘t Schip but is establishing himself under Joyce, who is using him as a midfield screener alongside another former central defender captain Michael Jakobsen, who is also being deployed higher up the pitch.

“Like any other player, I like to start, but there are 23 guys in the squad who are worthy of starting and they all want to play as well,” Malik said. “I need to keep performing to keep my spot.

“I do prefer to play in midfield. Centre-back is a position I was put in a few years ago. I am happy to play there if required, but midfield is where I feel more comfortable.

“‘Killer’ [Kilkenny] is training very well, he was unlucky in the pre-season, he had a bit of sickness and tightness. Everyone knows that if you are in the spot and you are doing well you keep your spot.”

Joyce sees the trip to Adelaide as a big test of his team’s capabilities. He has been impressed by the Reds’ performances this season and is also an admirer of Adelaide’s coach, Marco Kurz.

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Report calls for key ‘addictive’ pokie feature to be banned

Shonica Guy arriving at the Federal court. 12th September 2017. The Age Fairfaxmedia News Picture by JOE ARMAO Shonica Guy arriving at the Federal court. 12th September 2017. The Age Fairfaxmedia News Picture by JOE ARMAO
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A landmark report into the harm caused by gambling in NSW has recommended banning a controversial feature of poker machines known as “losses disguised as wins”, blamed by experts for fuelling addiction.

The state government has been sitting on the report and its recommendations for two years, including while James Packer’s Crown and poker machine giant Aristocrat fight a court challenge in which it is alleged the feature is “misleading and deceptive”.

Racing minister Paul Toole now says it will consider the recommendation as part of a broader review of prohibited features on poker machines in NSW.

The report, by the University of Sydney gambling treatment clinic, was commissioned in 2013 by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing and delivered to the government in 2015.

Losses disguised as wins refers to a poker machine feature where music and celebratory graphics are played when a player wins an amount, despite it being less than what was gambled.

The report uses the example of a player betting $1 and being returned 25c. “This loss is presented to the player as if they have won 25c, when indeed they have lost 75c,” it notes.

“Flashing lights and symbols, and jubilant audio tunes often accompany gaming machine wins,” it says.

“This audibly notifies the player that they have won, and as such acts as a cue for winning, and the monetary reinforcement that follows.

“Similarly, when a player wins back a portion of their initial wager (a net loss), the same sensory features are activated. These ‘losses disguised as wins’ are, as the name suggests, often mistakenly perceived by the player to be wins.”

The report notes that the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority maintains a register of prohibited poker machine features that are “likely to cause harm to the user” but losses disguised as wins is not among them.

“We recommend positive alerts to players, in reference to ‘losses disguised as wins’, where the return is less than the amount wagered, be added to the Gaming Machine Prohibited Features Register, on all future gaming machines,” it says.

In the Federal Court case, Crown and Aristocrat are defending allegations that a poker machine called Dolphin Treasure is misleading, deceptive and in breach of consumer law.

Crown has 38 Dolphin Treasure machines in its Melbourne casino.

Crown and Aristocrat have attacked the claims as “fanciful”. Judgment is due within months.

The case was launched by former poker machine addict Shonica Guy, represented by law firm Maurice Blackburn.

Monash university gambling researcher Charles Livingstone said the “losses disguised as wins” feature – banned in Queensland and Tasmania – is common to most poker machines elsewhere in .

He said it was “a key feature of the case against Crown and Aristocrat”.

“There is now overwhelming evidence that losses disguised as wins are a key contributor to gambling addiction,” he said.

In its response to the report, the NSW government says the recommendation is “noted”.

It says the government will “undertake a review” of the prohibited features register to align it with the new principles-based Gaming Machine National Standard and consider the development of a national approach to prohibited features and gambling harm minimisation.”

“The government will work with industry, the wider community and other jurisdictions to move to a consistent national model for determining which specific gaming machine features present an unreasonable risk of harm to players,” it says.

“The issue of ‘losses disguised as wins’ will be considered as part of the review.”

The report also recommends extending advertising restrictions to “all risky gambling products” and banning gambling companies from offering “all types of inducements to new or existing customers in NSW”.

Mr Toole has also announced that the government will conduct “a major new study into the prevalence of problem gambling as well as harms caused by excessive gambling”.

“Both these studies will help us better understand gambling-related problems and ensure we have the most effective measures to address them,” he said.

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Citizenship seven decided: Barnaby Joyce, Fiona Nash ruled ineligibleupdates, video

The Citizenship Seven: (Clockwise) Barnaby Joyce, Scott Ludham, Matt Canavan, Nick Xenophon, Fiona Nash, Larissa Waters and Malcolm Roberts. Photo: FILE. Barnaby Joyce has resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and New England MP following the High Court decision that ruled he is illegible to sit in the parliament due to his New Zealand dual citizenship.
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The electorate will now be forced into a by-election which willtakeplace on December 2.

Mr Joyce has already indicated he will stand in the by-election, and is eligible to do so as he hasformally renounced his dual citizenship.

The former deputy prime minister said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling on Friday afternoon saying he had a feeling.

“In my gut, I thought ‘this is the way it’s going to go.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held a press conference shortly after the High Court decision. He will be sworn in as agricultural minister and minister of water and resources, following Joyce’s disqualification from parliament.

“I know Barnaby will be disappointed with the court case results, its as though he’s been let of the stalls and his enthusiasm is un-containable. He has a passion for representation,” Mr Turnbull said.

Senator Mitch Fifield will take over former Senator Fiona Nash’s portfolio of regional communication and Senator Darren Chester will take on regional development.

Senator Matt Canavan will be returned to the resources portfolio.

Follow the live updates hereEARLIER:Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, along with six other politicians, will find out the future of their political careers.

The decision is expected to be handed down around 2.15pm.

Along with Mr Joyce, fellow Nationals MP Senator Matt Canavan, former Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts will also find out the outcome today.

Crossbencher Senator Nick Xenophon and Nationals Senator Fiona Nash will receive their decision in the coming weeks.

The dual citizenship scandal has developed since August this year. It has been revealed Mr Joyce has dual citizenship with New Zealand.

New England faces a by-election if the High-Court rules Mr Joyce is ineligible to sit in parliament due to his dual New Zealand citizenship which he has since renounced.

Mr Joyce faces opposition from multiple parties in the New England, including long time rival independent candidate Tony Windsor.

Want to get up-to-date on what’s going on?See the previous coverage

Barnaby Joyce says he’s no longer a KiwiIf an election was called tomorrow Barnaby Joyce would winBarnaby Joyce could face a field of candidatesLabor Senator talks pub politics in New EnglandNationals shrug off downward swing in electionsAnother candidate for New England RegionBarnaby Joyce engages legal eagles in Tamworth

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The biggest painting mistakes and how to avoid them

It was the classic ’70s kitchen – avocado green cabinets, yellow tiles – that first appealed. When first home buyer Samantha Page bought her two-bedroom plus study house in Fawkner, a residence that was built circa 1960s but had been given an update the following decade, she had intended on keeping the retro vibe.
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“Because the settlement was delayed, by the time I had moved in the shine had gone off the fact I had a bought a house, and I just looked at it and I was like ‘this whole thing is disgusting, I regret this, this is the worst decision I have ever made’ – because I’m a little bit melodramatic!” she laughs.

While the floor plan was sound, the “horrible” dirty-green walls throughout and the dark-peach feature wall in the main bedroom had to go. The transformation in the bedroom, taking the walls back to a natural white, had made “such a difference and happened so quickly” that Page felt confident attempting the rest of the house. She’s now in the process of painting the hallway, and the green walls are becoming white.

While painting walls a similar or darker colour is fairly straightforward, going from dark to light will require undercoating.

If you don’t use the right tinted undercoat then your depth of colour will suffer.Martina Gemmola – Haymes Paint

“Generally walls don’t need to be undercoated unless they are a really dark colour or they are brand new walls,” says Cherie Barber, the Renovating for Profit expert on Channel Ten’s The Living Room. “If those walls are a dark colour, lets say they’re a dark blue and you want to go to a stone colour, you’ll need to undercoat the walls white to drown out the blue base and then apply two coats of colour.”

The tinted undercoat (TU) scale relates to the amount of black in an undercoat and ranges from TU1 through to TU6, which is light through to dark grey. Using the one specified on the back of your paint tin will save you having to apply excess coats to give you the desired colour.

“If you don’t use the right tinted undercoat then your depth of colour will suffer, so the colour you look at on the colour card, when you put it against the wall, won’t be anything like it,” says Scott Cattell, product training manager for Haymes Paint.

This can be a common problem for DIY painters; the colour they end up with isn’t the one they envisaged. Cattell suggests taking home a sample pot and painting a couple of metre-long square patches to test.

Experts advise that as the light changes in the room, paint colours themselves can change. Nikole Ramsay – Haymes Paint

“Paint a bit in a corner, and paint a bit out in the light and have a look two or three times during the day because as the light changes in the room, often some of those colours themselves can change,” he advises. “So you might have what looks like a reasonably mellow colour on a colour chip, but once you put that in a room that’s reflecting against itself it can really bring out a striking and vibrant colour, which might be quite opposite to what you wanted to achieve.”

Barber says that often DIYers are so keen to get that colour up on the wall that they skip the most important step, which is preparing the surface.

“This actually takes the longest amount of time and it’s the one area that people skimp on,” she says. “If you’re dealing with a home that is at least 30 years old then you’re going to start having nicks and divets in your wall and over time buildings move, so you’ll have gaps that need to be filled and that becomes more time consuming.”

For Page, her walls were in fairly good condition so she only had a few holes to fill and sand back.

“In the lounge room there was a wall light I had removed so I will have to do a proper patch on that,” she says. This is where DIYers can get themselves into trouble, though. “Have you ever noticed on a wall where you can see where somebody has patched it? They’ve just been too quick to get the paint on and haven’t got an absolute smooth surface,” says Barber.

Think about what your wall has been exposed to before deciding on your painting plan. Nikole Ramsay – Haymes Paint

Over time walls are also exposed to “a lot of things people don’t think about”, says Cattell, citing hairspray and body oils as two examples.

“So it’s always a good idea to wash your walls down with something like Uni-Kleen, which is designed to remove oils from off the surfaces,” he suggests. “Ensure you prime where you patch, that’s probably one of the other big things most people forget to do, [because] that’ll stand out in the finish.”

Using the right paint in the right place will also help achieve the right finish, he adds, “so think about what you’re going to use”. A low sheen wall paint, for instance, is not designed for the wear and tear of door frames, which are better served with a harder wearing acrylic enamel.

The Haymes Expressions range of ultra-premium interior paint for walls come in three finishes: matte, a low sheen and a semi gloss.

“They all have fors and againsts,” Cattell says. “An old surface with lots of imperfections, often you can use a matte, which will hide those things away, but then you compromise the washability of your surface. Semi-gloss is great for washing and cleaning but if you’ve got an imperfect surface then that will show. So the all rounder is the low sheen, that’s the one most people go with on their walls.”

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Frustration from NSW Police Association Central Hunter branch over no new Cessnock Police Station

NSW Police Minister Troy GrantThe local police union branchhas accused the NSW Government of “mixed messages” over a potential new police station at Cessnock.
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The frustration comes fromthegovernment’sproposal to “re-engineer” thelocal force, by merging Maitland into the Port Stephens command and Cessnock into the Hunter Valley.

The restructureis expected to put more policeon the ground, byreducing upper management.

Local police believedthe move would also lead to improved infrastructure, particularly an upgrade to the aging station at Cessnock.

But Police Minister Troy Grant told Fairfax Media therewere no plansfor a new station at Cessnock.

“The NSW Police Force advises there are no current plans to build a new police station in Cessnock as minor remedial works were completed earlier this year in order to upgrade the station area,” he said.

Mr Grant’s comments have left local police fuming.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” NSW Police Association Central Hunter branch chairman Mitch Dubojski said.

“During recent discussions we were under the impression there would be a fit-for-purpose building constructed within in the Cessnock district. We’re getting mixed messages.”

Cessnock Police Station

Mr Grant said the restructure wasabout providing the community with a police force that was “flexible, nimble, well-resourced and best placed to address current and future policing needs”.

But Mr Dubojski said police could not service the community properly with the current resources.

“They talk about future proofing, but I don’t see how working in a building that is dilapidated is future proofing,” he said.

Under the restructureCessnock is set to receive a boost to its front line, as more officers from the Central Hunterare expected to be moved across into the new-look Hunter Valley command,which currently has headquarters in Muswellbrook.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr saidCessnock wouldbecome a “significant epicentre” if it joins the Hunter Valley command.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr

“The Cessnock LGA would then make up two-thirds of the population of the Hunter Valley command,” he said. “But if they send more police to Cessnock, where are they going to put them?”

Mr Dubojski said if more officers were moved to Cessnock, the force wouldhave to use temporary buildings, such as demountables.

Mr Barr and Mr Dubojski bothsaid the Cessnock station wasnot fit for the purposes of modern policing.

Mr Barr remainedhopeful the re-engineering process would force the government to build a newstation.

“We need to bite the bullet and re-build Cessnock,” Mr Barrsaid. “The re-engineering might be the tipping point.”

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Rugby sevens: Hunter women excited at challenge of playing Fiji

BIG-GAME PLAYER: University’s Mel Howard will be key to Hunter’s chances at the Central Coast International Sevens this weekend. Picture: Marina NeilHUNTER do not boast the size and experience of the big-name women’s teams but coach Will Skully is confident they have the speed to stretch the best at the Central Coast Sevens this weekend.
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Hunter, boosted by the inclusion of n representative Hannah Southwell, have been draw in Pool D alongside Stars 7s (US development side), Fiji and Sydney University.

Hunter ready to tackle Fiji TweetFacebook Sevens heavenMel Howard, Hannah Southwell and FRances Afeaki playing for New England University in the National Universities series. “Sevens is a funny game,” Skully said. “You just need to string some good minutes on the field and anything can happen.Last year we led twice in a game. We are certainly looking forward to havinga crack at Fiji, but realistically Sydney Uni is probably the game we have the biggest chance of wining. If the Stars girls are a bit jet-lagged for their first game on Saturday, anything can happen.We will be relying on speed. We don’t have a big forward pack but we have a bit of x-factor with Mel Howard and Frances Afeaki.”

Southwell, Howard and Afeaki played for the University of New England in the recently completed n UniSeries.

“Hanna has experience in the Aussie program and along with Mel and Frances did well for New England,” Skully said.

SEVENS HEAVEN: Hannah Southwell (centre) alongside fellow Hunter products Brydie Parker and Layne Morgan before playing for at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Picture: Marina Neil

The women’s squad has been training alongside the Hawthorne Club boys’ program and includes emerging talent.

“We have a couple of under-18s who have made the step up, twins Nicole and Leilani Nathan,” Skully said. “They are a little bit nervous but I am 100 per cent in what they can do.”

Hunter made the semi-finals at the Bowral and Mudgeetournaments.

Hunter: Annika Jamieson, Mel Howard, Nicole Nathan, Leilani Nathan, Hannah Southwell, Teagan Miller, Frances Afeaki, Maddison Ingram, Viana Bainivalu, Ashlee Crebert, Ashlee Williams, Laura Rapley.

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Stranger Things: a year later and no less confounding

The preview screener of the first episode of the second season of Stranger Things comes with more paperwork than most Sydney property purchases, and a list of subjects which are on the spoiler list.
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In truth, in 2017, spoilers are bad business anyway but it does mean that wading into this episode prior to its general release is a risky business given the ground is peppered with spoiler mines and there’s enough of a layer of cliche horror fog wafting around to keep every step uncertain.

The episode picks up on October 28, 1984 – roughly a year after the events of season one of Stranger Things – and you don’t need a calendar to know that we’re opening just a few days ahead of Halloween, in the narrative, and in real life.

As signalling goes, it’s not subtle, and the first hint that what is to follow will lean more on John Carpenter, the filmmaker who made the iconic Halloween in 1978, more than others in the multitude of influences which permeate every frame of Stranger Things.

If you have not seen the first season – and truly, if you have not, then what on earth are you doing here? – the rough summary goes something like this: in 1983, in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana, an unseen force is unleashed and seemingly abducts an 12-year-old local boy, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp).

Will’s friends – Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) – set out to find him but instead find a girl named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), while his mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), receives a disturbing phone call from a voice which sounds like her sons.

Throw in a government conspiracy, a monster writ large from the pages of the Dungeons and Dragons “Monster Manual” and stir madly.

The second season steps up the pace gently, without losing its firm grip on the very specifically dated narrative speed of the first season. In that sense this plays a little like Mad Man: an intentionally anachronistic show using an intentionally dated sense of scene structure and dialogue speed to help you slip back into the groove.

At the same time it is unmistakeable that Stranger Things, born into uncertainty and the whim of an audience whose curiosity was piqued by a little show with no marketing spend, is returning a blockbuster. The action is dialled up, and there is a slew of additions to the cast, notably Paul Reiser and Sean Astin.

The heart of the show – a love letter to 1980s cinema and the auters who made it – is still there, beating loudly, though the sinister uncertainly and subcutaneous horror of John Carpenter’s work seems more front and centre this year than the cleaner, more universal style of, say, Spielberg’s E.T.

What is nice, though, is that Stranger Things begins as it means to go on: with an unnerving mystery wrapped up in a conundrum. Much of it is pure Macguffin though, as this particular buffet offers a raft of tonal and thematic side dishes which are in every way as delicious as the main course.

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Quiet please … welcome to the true Newcastle cinema experience

FILM NOIR: Loud eaters are just the tip of the choc-top in this city’s cinema experiences.OPINION: TAKE a bow Novocastrians. For we are surely the nation’s most annoying cinema audiences.
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We’re fortunate when it comes to movie admission prices in Newy. Competition between the big chains means we can go to a reasonably newish cinema at one of the complexes in the burbs and see a movie for around $10.

Sydney’s dedicated cinephiles can pay double that and then some.

And parking is free for three hours at the shopping centres. Although I copped a $10 fee at Charlie for overstaying the four-hour limit when I stupidly grabbed lunch before watching Ryan Gosling play Harrison Ford’s carer in Blade Runner 2049. It ran for an unnecessary 164 minutes.

On the Sunshine Coast last month I was slugged $19 for admission to a damp and dank petri dish for an early afternoon screening of a film I could only bare for 40 minutes, before being overcome with an urge to gouge my eyes from their sockets.

Last week I ventured to the Tower Cinemas in the city. Compared to the dream factories at the shopping centres, the Tower has seen better days in my view. I don’t find the seats comfortable, parking is … well good luck with that … and non-discountedtickets can cost upwards of $15. I guess Tower audiences without spcouponsget whacked a premium for … well … er … whatever. I hope they get revitalised soon.

I spotted a group of loud-talkers ahead in the queue – one of whom was hoovering down a Macca’s burger and sucking on a large thick shake – buying the biggest available popcorn and the biggest available soft drink plus choc-top ice-creams.

Poking out the top of one of the group’s bag was a mothership chip packet housing a dozen smaller packets of chips.

The loud-talkers are like many Novocastrians who use the cinema to continuously eat and drink for 120 plus minutes, only stopping to edge their bottoms within centimetres of your face on the mission to relieve their stretched bladders of litres of coke.

I plonk myself into one of the Tower’s ye olde worldy, slidey, sinky vinyl chairs toward the front of the cinema where I foolishly assumed I would be immune from the imminent sound tsunami promised by the impending munchfest.

As if guided by satellite, the five-some honed-in on my “please don’t sit near me” vibe and parked themselves directly behind. I possess an inexplicable magnetic-like ability to attract the noisiest cinema attendees.

Movie has already started, too late to move. Let the open mouth chewing, the packet rustling, the drink slurping, loud whispering, shoe removing, belching and mobile phone checking festival commence.

No longer am I transported to another place and time while suspending disbelief. I can’t tune out.

Every slurp, every rustle, makes me feel a bit more like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

There’s nothing to do except leave.

I once asked a young man and his partner to please stop talking at a Glendale cinema and he told me he’d shoot me “in the guts” if I “didn’t f*$# off”. I had no reason to think he was exaggerating. I f*$#ed off.

Other Novocastrians tell me that the cinema is a communal experience and you just have to wear it.And they also tell me the only thing worse than Newcastle cinema-goers is the whinger who thinks the cinema is his own lounge-room and “unreasonably” expects others to be quiet.

Twitter @paul_scott_ [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘

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Cricket: Young Lion gets chance to roar

MEREWETHER captain Simon Moore noticed a major improvement after Zac McGuigan returned from a tour of England with the NSW Combined High School in the winter.
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VALUABLE: Newcastle will lean on Pat Darwen’s experience against Randwick-Petersham on Sunday.

The batting all-rounder followed that up with an unbeaten 114 against Belmont in second grade a fortnight ago.

And with Pat Darwen unavailable for the one-day clash against Toronto on Saturday, Moore believedthe time was right to hand the teenager a first-grade debut.

“He is a good kid and has always shown a lot of promise,” Moore said. “He benefited from going away with the NSW CHS side during the winter. He got 100 in second grade, is a very good fielder and is pretty useful with the ball too. He opens in seconds but will bat five or six tomorrow.”

McGuigan, whose father Lyle played first grade at Southern Lakes and is captain of Merewether’s A-Grade City and Suburban side, said he was ‘excited but a bit nervous’ ahead of his debut.

NSW CHS played nine games, winning five, in a 24-day tour in July.

“I learned a lot on the tour and it has helped my game,” McGuigan said

At stake on Saturday is a place in the Tom Locker final. The Lions top Pool A on 25 points and only need to beat the winless Kookaburras to progress to the decider on November 12.

“The way the table is, if we win, we should be through,” Moore said. “The points system, I don’t think is very fair, but that is a topic for a different day. We were lucky enough to get on last week and earn a couple of bonus points which helped us a lot.”

However, Moore is taking nothing for granted.

“In these 40-over games, it is like anup-sized meal of T-20,” Moore said. “It is a bit hit and miss. If you play poorly you will get beaten.”

In other Pool A matches, Belmont host Wallsend and Waratah are at home to Newcastle City.

Only a point separates Pool B leaders University (22 points) from Charlestown (21).

The Students, who are the defending champions, meet Wests (20) at Uni No.1. Charlestown welcome strugglers Stockton to Kahibah Oval. Hamwicks hosts Cardiff-Boolaroo in the other game.

Darwen may be unavailable for Merewether, but the former NSW Country off-spinning all-rounder is a welcome boost for Newcastle’s opening round of the NSW Premier T20 competition against Randwick-Petersham at Coogee Oval.

“Pat has played a lot of Sydney first grade and is comfortable in that environment with both bat and ball,” Newcastle coach Shane Burley said.

In another bonus, former NSW spearhead Burt Cockley will also play against a Randwick outfit including Hunter trio Nathan Price, Jason Sangha and Riley Ayre.

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