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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Get outta town: a road trip to the Southern Highlands

When you spend most of your days in a city office block, in front of a computer, the best thing about driving out of town towards a holiday destination you’ll reach in a couple of hours is a matter of perspective. It’s looking out the window as you pass the city limits – at green grass rather than bitumen, at trees rather than skyscrapers, and at cows and sheep rather than pedestrians with their eyes glued to their iPhones.
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It’s as if such images enter a depleted primal memory bank that, once topped up again, will help fortify you for a return to frenetic city life.

At least, that’s how I feel as we drive out of Sydney in a loaned Mercedes-Benz E-Class towards NSW’s Southern Highlands – a place with plenty of rolling green hills, fern-lined, windy roads and animals out to pasture.

Our first stop is the picturesque town of Berry, primarily to visit the Berry Sourdough Cafe, which is located in a historic home a short way down a side street off the main drag.

The croissants, bread and other baked goods are worth the stop alone, but the cafe also does an excellent cooked breakfast and lunch. It’s so popular you might have to wait for a table – we do, picking up provisions for the evening meal at the providores in town while we wait.

Caffeine and carbohydrates imbibed, it’s on to our evening pit stop, The Cottage in Kangaroo Valley. This place is the definition of shabby chic – a quaint white wooden cottage with a style that makes sense when you discover that the owner is artist Lisa Madigan. Think old wicker rocking chairs, shelves with arrangements of bird’s nests and shells, twigs artfully hanging on the walls, a claw-foot bath with Aesop products and big white fluffy towels, and an easel and canvas set up in an alcove.

It’s a cool night, so we light a fire in the open fireplace, hook our iPhones up to the old-style Marshall speaker and sit back with our books, waiting for our roast chook to cook. The only downside is the lack of Wi-Fi; then again, being forced not to look at your phone while on holiday is no bad thing.

The next morning we drive over the beautiful Hampden Bridge towards Bowral, about an hour away, where we stop in for brunch at the Grand Bistro, which talented chef Damien Monley and wife Justine set up when opting for a tree-change after selling their popular Flat White cafe in Sydney’s Woollahra. Scrambled eggs with fried haloumi, roasted sweet potato and other zesty things together with coffee from The Grounds suggests this is not your average regional town cafe.

By the time we arrive at Bendooley Estate we’ve no room left for food, which is a shame because the wood-fired pizzas at the recently revamped cellar door look terrific. We occupy ourselves instead with a browse through the Book Barn, one of the Berkelouw family’s bigger bookshops, and a wine tasting underneath a fabulous big John Olsen painting.

The following evening is spent at The Loch in Berrima, where old stables have been converted into a spacious four-room guest house. Chef and owner Brigid Kennedy offers a delightful paddock-to-plate lunch every Sunday on the property’s wide verandah. There’s also a market with vegetables and flowers sourced from the property’s two hectares of gardens, and an antiques stall.

Driving home early Monday morning, we see another sign of country life: a dead wombat in the middle of the road.

It enters my primal memory bank too; a reminder that life can be fleeting, and that memories like those created on weekends away should be held onto tightly. ROAD TRIP: SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS

The car

All-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coup?? and Cabriolet

Getting away from it all in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coup?? and Cabriolet in the Southern Highlands. Photo: Supplied

???The accommodation

The Cottage Kangaroo Valley, 0415 138 909, from $330 a night

The Loch Berrima, 0411 511 244, from $210 a night, two-night minimum

The food and wine

Berry Sourdough Cafe

Grand Bistro, Bowral

Bendooley Estate, Berrima

Katrina Strickland stayed as a guest of The Cottage Kangaroo Valley and The Loch Berrima.

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Multi-storey future for Lake town centres

RE-SHAPE: Plans to intensify Lake Macquarie’s town centres are up for discussion.Over the coming years, Lake Macquarie City Council will encourage more multi-storey apartments and town houses in and around its town centres. Will we reach the heights of Vancouver? No, but by 2050 we should certainly rival this celebrated liveable city’s vibrancy with a vast mix of retail, entertainment, dining, services, jobs, business opportunities, transport, housing, and public places.
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It’s no secret that multi-storey developments have been met with some concern from the community in the past. So why is council moving forward with plans to allow for more of these types of developments in town centres?

Like residents, council values the city’s village atmosphere. We also value the views to the lake and mountains. We plan to maintain these values, but also to balance this with positioning the city to be adaptable to inevitable change, and a growing population.

By 2050, Lake Macquarie City will have about 50,000 new residents. One obvious challenge with this is the increased need for housing, which can influence housing affordability. The need for more housing can also put pressure on rural and natural areas as potential districts for housing developments.If we don’t plan carefully for this population growth, it can create pressure on existing transport infrastructure and the level of access to essential services.

A bigger population also creates a bigger labour force, generating a need for more local jobs. On the upside, more people can also lead to more spending. There is opportunity here to strengthen our local economy by creating more jobs in the city.

The re-shaping of town centres offers an efficient, sustainable and proven solution to these challenges and opportunities. They are accessible places that play vital economic and housing roles with potential to centralise jobs, consumer spending, essential services, housing, transport options, and recreational activities.

They not only offer opportunity to meet the growing housing demand, intensified town centres minimise the need for more single-dwelling housing developments in rural and natural areas.

Well-planned, intensified town centres can respond also to the needs of a 21st century business with guaranteed high-speed internet connection and a larger range of adaptable offices.

With more people living in and visiting town centres, how can we possibly provide for adequate parking?Contrary to public perceptions, ABS Census data shows that in higher density areas, such as town centres with multi-storey apartments, there is lower car ownership compared with outside urban areas. For example, in Cameron Park 80 per cent of households owned two or more vehicles, and 19 per cent owned one, while 21 per cent of households in and surrounding Swansea town centre do not own a vehicle.

It is planned that our town centres and neighbourhoods will have extensive and well-connected pathsfor walking or cycling. These networks will also connect with a greater range of public transport options, including on-demand services. The need for vast car parking space will be minimised because people will live in and closer to town centres, so they can walk, ride or use accessible and frequent public transport options. This is our vision.Are we on the right track? Let us know atshape.lakemac苏州夜总会招聘.au/LM2050.

Sharon Pope is Lake Macquarie City Council’s integrated planning manager

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Blockbuster start for AFLW as it mulls conference style

The AFL is considering using a conference-style fixture for AFLW seasons 2019 or 2020 when the league will expand to 10 and then 14 teams.
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AFLW season one and the upcoming second season have been fixtured so each of the eight teams play each other once, with the top two sides playing off in the grand final.

However, with new teams coming in for 2019 and 2020 the AFL is wary of moving the season’s start to clash with the n Open or having the season finish too deep into the men’s season (the AFLW grand final is currently played in round one of the AFL season).

North Melbourne and Geelong will join the AFLW in 2019, while Gold Coast, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda will join in 2020.

A conference-style fixture is used in the United States for the NFL, NBA and MLB and would presumably split the AFLW into two or (less likely) three separate divisions, with the top of each playing off in finals or a grand final.

AFL general manager of clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld said at the AFLW 2018 fixture launch that the league and clubs had “run a number of scenarios” for expansion fixture planning.

“We have given it [the expansion fixture] a bit of thought as part of the expansion conversation at commission level with clubs,” Auld said. “Do you run a straight fixture like we have got now, but just a longer season?

“Do you run some conferences? The beauty of launching a new competition is you can throw out the rules of the men’s competition and think a bit differently about it so we have been encouraged to do that.

“We haven’t landed anywhere yet but there are certainly some opportunities to think differently about it.”

When asked directly about the possibility of conferences Auld said they were definitely a possibility to be used.

“Yep [conferences are a chance] and certainly again in 2020 with expansion if we do that two years in a row we need to manage the length of the season for a whole range of reasons and so you might look at conferences there again.

“We are quite open [to when the AFLW season starts and ends]. We are prepared to start earlier if that’s the right thing to do or push further into the men’s season. We’re learning at the same time as everyone else is. ” Which game are you most looking forward to?

Check out the full fixture below ???? #AFLW#journeyto2018pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/W2CtMMef7L??? AFL Women’s (@aflwomens) 26 October 2017

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Home of the week: A hidden gem nestled in Kingston

Modern comfort blends seamlessly with a stylish 1920s design at this Kingston family home. Tasteful renovation has maintained the home’s period charm, without compromising on comfort or convenience.
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Visitors are greeted by a rolling front lawn, perfectly complemented by the elegant facade.

A formal entry opens onto a large living, dining and meals space, overlooking the gardens. A generous space, entertaining will be a breeze with room for a 12-seat dining table and a full family lounge setting.

The modern kitchen overlooks this space, a cook’s dream with stone surfaces, an extended pantry, and German appliances.

Flowing on from the family space, a covered outdoor entertaining area is the perfect place to relax on a long summer evening.

Picturesque cottage gardens embrace the house, with hedged borders making them a private oasis. Sitting on an 824-square-metre block, the gardens offer plenty of space to enjoy.

The three bedrooms enjoy privacy at the front of the home. Each features a built-in robe, with an en suite to the master bedroom.

The home is the epitome of modern comfort with ducted gas heating, evaporative cooling, and Rinnai gas plus solar gas hot water systems.

Small notes give the home a luxurious feeling, with hardwood flooring, bespoke light fittings and crushed silk curtains adding charm to the interior.

Sitting in the heart of Kingston, the home enjoys one of the best positions Canberra has to offer. Close to the Parliamentary Circle and the CBD, the home is an easy distance to some of Canberra’s best schools and employment hotspots.

“The renovation is so sympathetically completed, and the finishes are authentic and of the upmost quality,” says Louise Harget, agent for the property.

“Standing in the front garden, wandering past the rose gardens, you don’t feel like you are a five-minute stroll up to Kingston, or down to the Foreshore.

“These heritage homes in Kingston are truly very special.”

Surrounding area: One of Canberra’s oldest suburbs, Kingston sits close to Canberra’s centre. It enjoys the amenity of Kingston Shops, with a buzz added by cafes, bars and restaurants on Kingston Foreshore.

We love: An elegant design inside and out sets this Kingston home apart from the crowd.

Address: 52 Kennedy Street, Kingston

Price guide: $1.4 million +

EER: 4

Agent: Louise Harget, Belle Property Kingston, 0412 997 894

Inspect: Saturday 1pm-1:30pm and Tuesday, October 31, at 5pm.

Auction: November 4

Click here to see more!

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Newcastle store Two Fridas sells all things Mexican and marks The Day Of The Dead

Mexican wave: Kate Warner’s Islington store Two Fridas this week celebrates the Day Of The Dead festival. Picture: Simone De PeakKATE Warner has always had a thing for Frida Kahlo, moreso all things Mexican.
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“I have alwaybeen interested in Latin Americancultures but Mexico isjust that colour pop, it’s wearing what makes you happy rather than according to trend,” she says.

“I love that it’s a bit ‘anything goes’, and that’s what I’ve always done; it’s also treading that line between everyday wear and dressups.”

When Warner viewed an art exhibition in Sydney on Kahlo and the artist’s husbandDiego Riviera last year, it inspired her to start the labelTwo Fridas.

“I wanted to go to the exhibition in traditional Mexican clothing and I couldn’t find something that was not overpriced and accessible and then I thought maybe there’s an opportunity there,” she recalls.

Warner, a special projects coordinator in the disabilities sector, began running market stalls with her label, the title of one of Kahlo’s signature self-portraits featuring two Fridas,the first dressed in traditional Mexican clothing, the other in aEuropean style.

In July, Warner realised her dream of opening her store Two Fridas on “The Strip” on Maitland Road, Islington.

In a nod to the two diverse styles in the painting of the same name, Two Fridasstocks traditional, hand-made Mexican clothing, jewellery, art and giftware from Mexicoalongside curated vintage garbs and pieces bylocal artists including Raylee Allen, Debbie Bradfield, Floral & Spot, Stella Kerr and Lisa Brown.When not assisting customers, Warner also makes her own repurposed clothing on the mezzanine.

“Two Fridas is much more than a straight-up retail space, it’s about supporting artisans, valuing the uniqueness of hand made, culture,exploring creative expression, slow fashion and making fearlesschoices over trends,” Ms Warner says.

Two Fridas opens Friday to Sunday but will open on Thursday, November 2, to coincide with the final day of the three-day Mexican festival The Day Of The Dead.

The store’s window isfull of flowers, sugar skulls and more for the occasion, a time of reflection and celebration of family members who have passed away.

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What multiple homes for sale in one street can mean

A single street, townhouse development or unit complex with several homes on the market can signal a warning. Perhaps you’ve been vying to purchase for a number of months but the tightly-held nature of the area has made it impossible, but almost overnight, for sale signs pop up simultaneously. This can prompt concern for some and for others an opportunity that creates choice and bargaining power.
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Spring is noted as the season that activates buyers and sellers. An increase in listings within a specific area could be due to the dynamics of market behaviour as well as other influences.

Despite recent reports of a quarterly downturn to Sydney house prices, it appears vendors are not discouraged. New listings have risen across all Sydney regions.

The south experienced the largest boost, jumping by 21.4 per cent annually to 1203 houses (includes houses and townhouses) listed for sale during the September 2017 quarter when compared with the September quarter of 2016.

Vendor activity in the south-west, the inner west and the west jumped about 16 per cent when comparing the September 2017 quarter with the same period last year, with 3705, 881 and 4112 houses respectively listed.

Canterbury Bankstown increased annually by 10.2 per cent to 726 houses, and the lower north shore by 9.3 per cent to 401 houses listed during the September 2017 quarter.

Increases in other areas were relatively low by comparison. The Central Coast grew annually by 5.4 per cent to 1832 houses listed in that quarter, the northern beaches grew by 4.3 per cent to 532, the upper north shore increased by 4.2 per cent to 1801 and the city and east by 3.5 per cent to 590.

The upbeat nature of new vendors in each region could be the spring effect, or the result of vendors reacting to the negative house price growth over the quarter, creating an element of urgency to enter the market before prices make any further correction. Related: Should you sell before buying a home?Related: Buyer’s agents: A major property advantageRelated: Should your home have sold already?Use a solicitor to uncover anything adverse that could affect a home’s value. Photo: Louie Douvis

Other factors, like the ripple effect, could come into play. An astounding nearby sale result that smashed price expectations can become the impetus to list.

Economic implications can also drive a surge in listings. Normally prevalent in holiday areas, distressed sales as a result of an economic downturn can mean a flick to the second home for an instant boost to finances. In the era of historically low interest rates, this is something that could occur in our ‘everyday housing landscape’, particularly for those who have financially overextended. This is not much of a concern now, while interest rates remain low, but is certainly one to watch.

Ultimately, due diligence is required for any purchase. If anything untoward occurs in a specific area – perhaps a recent development or major infrastructure approval – a solicitor should uncover anything adverse that could affect the home’s value. If something is discovered, use it as a tool to negotiate a better price.

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Newcastle Italian Film Festival 2017: seven films spanning romantic comedy, drama and classics

La dolce vita: Nick Moretti and Andrew Licata said they were proud to offer one of the few opportunities to enjoy European films in the Hunter. Guests at night screenings will enjoy Napoli Centrale pizza. Picture: Simone De PeakSTORIES about a powerful Mafia family;a dinner party tinged by secrets; and teenagers questioning their identities will illuminate the big screen at the eighth Newcastle Italian Film Festival.
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Organisers Nick Moretti and Andrew Licata expect about 1500 people to attend one or more of the seven filmsshowing during the festival, which has become a popular annual event on the region’s cinema calendar.

“There is a certain number of people who wait for it to come around and start asking when it will be on,” Mr Moretti said of their growing following. “That’s a good feeling to know that whatever it is we’re putting together is working and it’s enjoyable for people to come along.

“This isn’t a business enterprise – we just want people to feel good.”

The festival opens on November 3 with “dramedy” Perfect Strangers.It includes Where Am I Going?, which boasted the near equivalent of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ three-week ticket sales after its first weekend showing in Italy.

It closes on November 5 with the 1960 Sophia Loren classic Two Women.

“There are more romantic comedies than other genres in the festival, but If You Tell Me is a mafia biopic and and there’s also One Kiss, which features a gay teenager,” Ms Moretti said.

The festivalalso includes the awarding of the Dino Cesta Memorial Scholarship, which will provide a student with $2500 to study writing, music, visual arts or film and television at a tertiary level.

“The scholarship keeps Dino’s name associated with the festival,” Mr Moretti said of his friend and festival co-founder, who had motor neurone disease and died in 2015.

“When I need to make a decision I still think ‘What would Dino have done?’”

All films will be shown on the ground floor ofTower Cinema and have English subtitles. Guests at the night screenings will be offered complimentary continental treats from Delikacies, Burraduc Farm buffalo cheese, Angove wine, Napoli Centrale pizza and dolci or desserts from The Umbrian.

Net proceeds go to the Motor Neurone Disease Association NSW.

Program and tickets:facebook苏州夜总会招聘/NewcastleItalianFilmFestivalorwww.eventcinemas苏州夜总会招聘.au/Cinema/Newcastle

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Farmers slam sale of Murray Goulburn to Canadian giant

The Age, News, 27/10/2017, Photo by Justin McManus. AGM Murray Goulburn dairy at the Exhibtion centre. CEO Ari Mervis.Victorian farmers have blasted Murray Goulburn over the dairy processor’s decision to sell the business to Canadian giant Saputo for $1.31 billion at a sometimes fiery annual general meeting in Melbourne.
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Murray Goulburn’s leaders were told during the meeting that their behaviour had been morally bankrupt, that they had capitulated, and they had not done enough to preserve the processor’s milk supply as farmers left and sent their milk elsewhere.

Many farmers hit out after the company told the ASX a couple of hours or so before the meeting started that it had struck a deal to sell to Saputo.

The news shocked some farmers who were not aware negotiations were so advanced. Some expressed concern that Saputo was an international player, rather than an n co-operative or company.

Paul Mundy, a dairy farmer from Cobram East, earned applause when he told the meeting the board had not made enough “of the very hard decisions that were required” to preserve the processor.

Mr Mundy, who unsuccessfully ran for a spot on Murray Goulburn’s board recently, also said: “Why is it that we have effectively capitulated?”

The proposed deal with Saputo -??? which still needs approval on a number of levels and which includes higher payments for Murray Goulburn farmers – comes after a tumultuous period for MG, during which scores of frustrated farmers switched to rival processors after it slashed milk payments.

After the AGM, in an interview with Fairfax Media, Mr Mundy said: “I believe that the board should have taken far greater action, much earlier, to secure our milk flow, milk being our most valuable asset … It appears to us, as suppliers, that there has been a lack of willingness to do so.”

Mr Mundy said Murray Goulburn could have done more to cut costs, questioning why it had rented office space in Melbourne’s Southbank. And he said the company’s “opening price” for this financial year, the amount it would pay farmers for milk, was “an absolute disaster. They should never, ever, ever have come out with $4.70 [per kilogram of milk solids]

Another farmer, Brad Adams, expressed anger at Murray Goulburn’s leadership, while grilling chairman John Spark during the meeting.

“I want to know why there has been this agenda to sell Murray Goulburn,” he said. “I want to know why, when [chief executive] Ari [Mervis] took over we had 2,200 supplier members, we had 2.7 billion litres of milk last financial year, we estimated that we had 2.5 [billion litres] for this year, yet it would appear we have done nothing to retain any of that milk.”

“Our company has now been devalued … Rightly or wrongly we’ve been ripped off. I’ve had a knot in my guts all the way down from Cobram today, and it’s about time you people took some responsibility for the decisions that you make.”

Earlier, Mr Spark defended the unanimous board decision that Murray Goulburn should be sold to Saputo.

“Unfortunately, we as a board, on behalf of the shareholders, have had to make a decision which is unpopular,” he told the meeting. “It is not the best decision that any of us would have wanted to make. But we are doing it with the best intention for all of our shareholders, and ultimately we are putting it to a vote of our shareholders to see if you wish to approve it.”

In Murray Goulburn’s ASX statement, Mr Spark said the Saputo deal represented “the best available outcome” for suppliers and investors. “MG has reached a position where, as an independent company, its debt was simply too high given the significant milk loss,” he said.

Another dairy farmer at the meeting, Tim Dwyer, defended Mr Spark, saying “you can’t run a milk company without milk”.

“It’s a very sad situation that we are in here today,” he said, adding that Mr Spark became chairman in “a very difficult set of circumstances”.

Mr Mervis acknowledged that the company’s declining milk supply had hurt it. “The reality is that when you’ve got half the milk that you had two years ago, it’s very very difficult,” he said. “You’ve got the same debt level, you’ve got the same operating costs and you’ve got half the intake … it becomes unsustainable.”

Mr Mervis said he understood that many of Murray Goulburn’s dairy farmers would be disappointed. “I recognise that many of you and your families have been involved with the co-op for generations,” he said.

Mr Mervis said Saputo had been very successful in Canada, Argentina, America and “done themselves proud here in ” after it bought Warrnambool Cheese and Butter in recent years.

In a statement released in Canada, Saputo said: “The acquisition of Murray Goulburn will add to and complement the activities of Saputo’s Dairy Division (). By acquiring a well-established industry player, the company reinforces its commitment to strengthen its presence in the n market. Saputo intends to continue to invest in its n platform and contribute to the ongoing development of its domestic and international business.”

Under the Saputo deal, farmers will receive a 40?? a kilogram of milk solids extra payment for milk supplied this financial year, and “active” suppliers will pocket an additional 40?? a kilogram “loyalty payment” in fiscal 2018 along with commitments for milk collection and market pricing into the future.

The proposed deal remains subject to approval by Murray Goulburn voting shareholders, the n Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Murray Goulburn also recorded strong protest votes at the AGM, of about 13 per cent, for the election of special directors John Spark and Mark Clark.

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Know your rights in the lead up to Boxing Day trade

Sales event: Stores will be allowed to open for trade on Boxing Day after laws passed in state parliament last month.A hotline has been established for workers and businesses to help ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities in the lead up to Boxing Day trade.
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Stores will be allowed to open for trade on Boxing Day after laws passed in parliament last month.

Retail workers fear thelegislationwill rob them of time with family and friends in the Christmas holiday period.

Thelegislation,now uniform across NSW,gives retailers, employees and consumers the freedom to trade, work and shop on Boxing Day.

The retail workers union–SDA– condemned the decision saying the NSW Governemnt had“disregarded clear researchand opposition from retail workers and most employers.”

“The passing of this legislation will ruin Christmas for workers and their families forcing thousands to work when they should be enjoying time with family and friends,” a SDA spokeswoman said.

“Mums and Dads who should be with their kids will be pressured back to work on Boxing Day.”

Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government was rolling out a comprehensive education campaign as part of the reforms to provide retail workers with the choice to work on Boxing Day.

“A two-year trial found clear support for unrestricted Boxing Day trade across NSW so that businesses outside Sydney’s CBD including those in regional centres have the option to open their doors,” Mr Perrottet said.

“As workplaces start having roster discussions now ahead of December 26, we have a package of support in place for workers and their employers.

“We want to make sure anyone with questions has multiple avenues to get the right advice, either through our hotline, web seminars or the website.

“There is a choice as to whether people trade, work or shop on one of the busiest shopping days of the year and I encourage people to make an informed decision.”

New laws provide strict safeguards to protect workers, with retailers who force staff to work on December 26 facing fines of up to $11,000 per employee.

Penalties of up to $22,000 will apply for landlords that force tenants to open on Boxing Day.

The Boxing Day Hotline number is131 628.


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Ex-RBA boss Glenn Stevens joins Millionaires Factory

Former Reserve Bank of governor Glenn Stevens is joining the boards of Macquarie Group and Macquarie Bank as the Millionaires Factory posted yet another record first-half profit.
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Mr Stevens, who was governor of the RBA between 2006 and 2016, will become an independent director on both boards from November 1, Macquarie said in a statement to the ASX.

He has been on a number of n and international boards and committees, including the Financial Stability Board, and on a range of G20 committees. As RBA boss, he led ‘s economy through the GFC, the mining boom and a record low interest rate environment.

Macquarie Group chairman Peter Warne said Mr Stevens “brings a unique perspective, not only regarding the drivers of ‘s economy, but also of the international economies from which Macquarie derives the majority of its income.

“Glenn is an internationally respected central banker who has contributed significantly to ‘s economic success,” Mr Warne said.

A spokeswoman for the bank said Mr Stevens wasn’t available for comment.

Managing director Nicholas Moore emphasised Mr Stevens would be in “very much a governance role” as a non-executive director, not an employee of the bank.

“It’s clear that Glenn Stevens as the governor has had a very distinguished career here in , and would be an outstanding candidate for any board for any, frankly, international or n company,” Mr Moore told journalists.

The appointment comes after speculation that Mr Stevens turned down an appointment on the board of the Commonwealth Bank in the wake of the Austrac allegations against the bank of breaches of anti-money laundering rules.

Reporting its latest result on Friday morning, Macquarie beat expectations by posting a record first-half profit, boosted by performance fees.

The investment bank and fund manager’s net profit for the six months to September 30 was up 19 per cent at $1.2 billion, beating the average $1.14 billion forecast of analysts according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net operating income rose 3.4 per cent to $5.4 billion as performance fees more than tripled to $537 million. But the profit contribution from its commodities and global markets arm fell 23 per cent during the period.

Macquarie said it now expects full-year earnings to exceed last year’s record profit of $2.2 billion.

Its shares have surged more than 10 per cent since it said last month it expected a solid first-half profit. This week they hit their highest level since the government slapped its levy on the country’s biggest banks in early May.

The company also announced a 45 per cent-franked interim dividend of $2.05 per share, up from $1.90 a year ago, and flagged an on-market share buyback of up to $1 billion.

with Reuters

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