How is Scott Morrison performing as Treasurer?

Is Scott Morrison doing a better job than Joe Hockey as Treasurer? Photo: Andrew MearesWhen Malcolm Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he said the government desperately needed a different leadership style.
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Australia is facing huge economic challenges and needs a new leadership team that can explain those challenges clearly and sensibly, he said.

He replaced Treasurer Joe Hockey with Scott Morrison and set about rebuilding the government’s economics team.

But how well is Scott Morrison doing as Treasurer? Is he doing a better job than Hockey? We asked some senior economists and strategists for their views.

Saul Eslake, private economist

“I think the jury is out on Morrison. I’m prepared to cut him a bit of slack because he’s the first treasurer since John Kerin who has not previously been a shadow treasurer, a finance minister, or an assistant treasurer, so he’s been thrown in at the deep end.

“He’s dropped some of the apocalyptic rhetoric that Abbott used all the time and which Hockey was prone to use when he was under pressure. There’s none of that from Morrison, which is good and appropriate.

“But I haven’t seen much sign of a concerted effort on Morrison’s part yet to educate the public as to the nature of the economic challenges that Australia faces or to start the work of seeking a mandate for dealing with them.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Mr Morrison and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer. Photo: Andrew Meares

John Hewson, former Liberal leader

“I think he’s sent mixed messages. He started out by saying he could fix the budget by cutting expenditure and at the same time he was raising expectations of tax reform without increasing the burden of tax. I don’t think those two things are consistent.

“If you realistically factor in the long-term expenditure commitments which the electorate seems to want, and which both sides of politics have signed up to, then somewhere in there you have to admit we’ll actually have to raise the burden of tax as well as cut government expenditure.

“We haven’t had realism in the debate and I’ll doubt we’ll get it before the election.”

John Daley, director, Grattan Institute

“The one thing we’ve seen Morrison explore in any kind of detail was his speech on superannuation, and that certainly looked as though he had looked long and hard at understanding what are the principles here, what are we trying to do, and then what are the options? And he laid out some pretty sensible principles and options for reform.

“With the mid-year budget update, he made some movement towards making the assumptions behind the budget more sensible.

“But it doesn’t feel like he has the kind of urgency behind budget repair that I suspect he needs to have. There seems to be quite a lot of acceptance that we’ll have budget deficits for a long time, and we’ll just hope we can grow ourselves out of it.”

Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex EllInghausen

Bruce Hawker, veteran Labor strategist

“The best you can say is that Morrison has turned a corner from the disastrous image that Joe Hockey – and of course Tony Abbott – had on economic management.

“The big advantage that he has over Hockey is that he actually does present as somebody who’s competent, and that’s incredibly important to the electorate because they want to believe that the person running the Treasury is numerate and can look after the finances and economy of the nation.

“But the big challenges are still ahead as we head into a year of economic volatility. How he manages tax policy will be one of the defining moments for him. They haven’t actually made any hard decisions… increasing or broadening the GST would be politically disastrous and test both Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull.”

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Booming housing market increasingly a target for drug money launderers, say police

The government is considering regulations to force real estate agents to do more to authenticate funds used to buy properties. Photo: Robert Shakespeare Justice Minister Michael Keenan Photo: Brendan Esposito
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The rampant real estate market has presented a golden opportunity for criminals to launder millions of dollars in drug money in Australia over the past 12 months, according to police.

Evidence of criminal cash entering the already inflated local housing market has emerged as the federal government considers imposing tighter regulations to prevent properties being bought with the proceeds of crime.

New measures being weighed up by Justice Minister Michael Keenan and the anti-money laundering agency Austrac are expected to include requirements on real estate agents to do more to authenticate the source of funds being used to buy properties and the identities of buyers.

The real estate industry is expected to push back at any move to put the onus of proof on agents, with the Real Estate Institute of NSW warning on Friday that the government – which it claims has not yet consulted with it – would be creating a “legal minefield”.

Gem dealers are also in the sights of authorities, amid concern that corrupt money, particularly from China, is being laundered through the purchase of rare pink diamonds in Australia.

A report by the NSW Crime Commission found criminal gangs have exploited the property market as surging prices increased demand for funds into Australia.

“This has provided greater opportunities for organised crime syndicates to launder millions of dollars,” the Commission found.

The flow of money out of Australia to settle drug transactions and the use of so-called “remittance agents”, who facilitate the movements, have entangled legitimate offshore investors in money laundering schemes.

The Commission used the example of an “individual of significant wealth” based overseas who recently bought into the Sydney real estate market.

The man transferred his own funds outside the mainstream banking sector to take advantage of better exchange rates offered by remittance agents. But the funds stayed in his country and a deal brokered between agents meant the money that purchased his new home was drug money made in Australia but used to settle a debt overseas.

“The Commission suspected that the funds deposited into the Australian bank accounts were proceeds of drug sales. The deposits were characterised as cash, with most below the reporting limit, and were made by various individuals within Australia. The owner of the funds was implicated unwittingly in money laundering through the transfer of funds for a legitimate property transaction in Australia,” the Commission found.

“It is likely that this is not an isolated incident and that the transfer of legitimate off-shore funds to Australia presents a very low risk opportunity for organised crime to launder drug proceeds within Australia.”

Federal authorities are considering extending anti-money laundering requirements that already cover banking, remittance and gaming to real estate agents, lawyers, accountants and precious stones dealers.

Consideration of stricter rules follows a scathing report by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force last year as the money pouring into Australian property and gems from China set new records.

Under current rules, foreigners can plough millions in cash into new homes and gems without having to identify themselves or the source of their funds.

The Coalition has sought to crack down on buyers who break foreign investment rules in the purchase of existing houses, with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing another eight forced sales, bringing to 27 the number of homes to be sold since the Abbott government announced new restrictions.

REINSW president John Cunningham said the industry is aware of the money laundering problem but he said any new red tape should be imposed at the legal stage of the sale.

“Putting the onus on us to be responsible for checking identification and the source of funds is barking up the wrong tree because foremost we are responsible to the seller to sell a home when instructed,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Keenan said $20 million had been given to Austrac to establish a new national intelligence team and the Attorney-General’s Department is finalising the review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

“The review process involved extensive consultation with industry and government and included discussions about the potential extension of the AML/CTF Act to services that pose high money laundering and terrorism risks, including services provided by precious stone dealers, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents,” she said.

“The AML/CTF regime has always been a critical tool to disrupt criminal activity, providing the vital framework to allow our agencies to follow the money trail to crack down on serious and organised crime groups and those seeking to fund terrorist activity.”

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Backroom blokes in Wills faction fix

A week before a vote is cast, Labor’s faction and union heavies are close to securing preselection for the heartland seat of Wills to non-local and former security adviser Peter Khalil.
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As earnest local members turned out to a candidates’ meeting in Coburg this week, factional chiefs were advanced on secret deals to deliver local voting blocks (stacks by another name) and union support to Khalil whose campaign strategist is right faction deal maker Theo Theophanous.

The deals leave two candidates, Khalil and former senator and Andrews government adviser Mehmet Tillem, firm favourites ahead of the remaining field of six.

Only a revolt by individual Wills’ Labor members can now challenge the deals, finalised late this week and based on promises of future seats and jobs.

The preselection comes at a difficult time, with leader Bill Shorten polling poorly, the Greens a growing threat, and Victorian Labor in turmoil over branch-stacking.

So Wills, a seat once held by Bob Hawke, is being viewed within Labor and beyond as a test of Labor’s internal democracy.

Not surprisingly, Shorten and his union base, the Australian Workers Union, have been keen to appear to be giving local members a real say.

Preselection is a two-tiered process, the first stage a ballot of local members, the second a vote by a central panel elected dominated by unions.

In fact, the AWU has already opted to support Khalil centrally. In return he has agreed to join the AWU and to consult the union about his choice of staff once in parliament.

But at the local level Khalil, a little known multicultural commissioner from Melbourne’s south-east, lacks personal support.

So a second deal has locked in local Kurdish and Lebanese voting blocks (also known within Labor as “stacks”) behind Khalil who is of Egyptian/Coptic Christian background.

The plan is that these groups – linked to neighbouring Batman MP David Feeney – will secure secure Khalil a local vote healthy enough for the AWU and allies to justify its support on the central panel.

In return, Fairfax understands, Feeney’s allies have been given vague assurances including about future jobs and seats.

At the Coburg meeting on Wednesday unaligned Wills candidate Josh Funder called for such factional deals affecting the preselection to be publicly detailed. He has refused to elaborate.

Fairfax understands the Khalil deals have infuriated fellow candidate, scientist and Shorten adviser Anna Maria Arabia. But she has also refused to comment.

Both Shorten and Feeney are determined to block Tillem, a Turkish-born Muslim, viewed by many as an archetypal Labor warlord and, therefore, the wrong type of candidate for such a high profile seat.

But if Khalil is shoe-horned into this seat through deals done by the AWU and the likes of Feeney and Theophanous, it will be difficult for Shorten to portray the Wills preselection as anything other than a factional fix by the backroom blokes that run Labor in Victoria.

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Steve Smith’s Australians matching feats of halcyon Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting years

Steve Smith drives his team from the front. Photo: Mark NolanAustralia’s world champion one-day side is in the midst of a golden run rivalling the glory years of the Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting-led eras.
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The likes of Steve Smith, David Warner, Aaron Finch and George Bailey might not carry the same gravitas of Waugh, Ponting, Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist, but all have been key players in Australia’s recent dominance of the 50-over game.

Smith’s men can complete a 5-0 whitewash of India with victory in the final one-day international at the SCG on Saturday – and it will take a brave punter to bet against them.

Australia have a 26-4 win-loss record (excluding a no result) in 31 games since the series against Pakistan in the Middle East in October 2014. The run takes in a triumphant World Cup campaign plus series victories against India and South Africa – the second and third-ranked ODI teams respectively.

That run is comparable to the 26 wins from 29 completed games in 1999-2000 by Waugh’s World Cup winning team. Should Smith’s side maintain their form for another year they will match the feats of Ponting’s Australians in 2003-04 when they won 48 of 55 completed games, which includes a record streak of 21.

The winning habit has left their confidence sky high to the point where they truly believe they can win from any position.

“The way we pulled it back the other night was magnificent, we really shouldn’t have won that game,” Smith said. “The belief that was in the group at the time, the way we were able to execute our skills under pressure was very pleasing.

“We certainly don’t feel invincible or anything like that. We’re very confident in our skill set and what we have to bring to the table. We’ve had a lot of success of late and hopefully we can keep having some success to stay at No.1 in the world.”

Australia are well clear at the top of the ODI rankings, 17 points ahead of their nearest rival.

Their next challenge after the Indian series is across the Tasman against New Zealand, who they defeated in last year’s World Cup final.

Smith does not want selection for that three-game series to be influenced by the preparation for the ensuing Tests. He wants the best one-day side to be picked, even if that means Test batsmen Joe Burns or Usman Khawaja miss out on the chance to adjust to New Zealand conditions.

“As far as I’m concerned, I want to win every series we play. It’s another opportunity for guys to play away from home as well,” Smith said.

“We’ve been playing some very good cricket at home and I want to win another one-day series away. It’s about having the best guys on deck to do that.”

Saturday’s game will be the last time Smith captains his country on home soil this summer. He hands the reins over to Aaron Finch for the three-game Twenty20 series against India, creating the peculiar situation where the Test captain plays in the national team under another leader.

“I don’t think it will feel too different, I’ll still be a leader around the group,” Smith said.

Finch said he would not feel uncomfortable with the arrangement.

“I’m going to use him as much as I can for advice and for tactics and just small things like that,” Finch said. “Under my leadership I want everyone to have their plans and their own ideas and be able to feel comfortable to come with me no matter what the situation of the game.

“[I’ll be] very open and that will be no different with Steve there. It’s great to have him in the side.”

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Short Takes for Monday, January 25, 2016

MESSAGE for the Newcastle Jets: Why bother?
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David McNaught, Pelican THEYare an affront to Newcastle soccer.

Bill Slicer, Tighes HillI’Masking Lake Macquarie councillors to go into Hillsborough either at 8 o’clock in the morning or at 5 o’clock of an afternoon and try toget out of the place. It’s a disgrace. As I’ve asked before, does someone have to die before something is done about this little suburb? I’m sure if any member of the council lived there the would already have traffic lights.

Colin Geatches,MayfieldHOW sickening it was for me to watch the unelected Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull lapping up the platitudes of Barack Obama regarding Australia’s military commitment to the fight against ISIS. Mr Turnbull recently rejected a request from the US for additional military support and Mr Obama’s platitudes belong to Tony Abbott,not him.

John Farrell, TenambitHAH!With Sarah Palin extolling the redneck virtues of Donald Trump, how can he lose?.

Greg Stewart,BeresfieldWHILE ratepayers and councils are fighting among themselves over mergers, they are leaving the politicians alone. Divide and conquer principle?

Peter Grant,Speers PointDURINGTony Abbott’s reign, he was often ridiculed for his one liner “We stopped the boats”, saying we want to know who is coming here.

Considering the escalating threat of terrorist activity in countries who opened up their borders, and the anxiety many of their citizens may now be experiencing, l believe many of Mr Abbott’s’s critics, although not publicly, will be saying good move Mr Abbott.

I, for one, am thankful we are an island. With the peace of mind of having a natural safety perimeter, and sensible border protection policies,thank you Mr Abbottfor stopping the boats .

Carl Stevenson,Dora CreekJOHN McLennan’s appeal for a more humane society is commendable but naive (Short Takes 22/1).

The reality is that we humans will eventually destroy our planet by environmental neglect, over-population or nuclear wars. Perhaps before then we might discover other planets that we can inhabit, but the likelihood is we will muck them up too. Hopefully immediate-future generations will be spared the demise of Earth when this little blob will have disappeared into the infinity we call Space. The fact is, we humans, for all our technology,are destined to self destruction.

Neville Aubrey,WallsendTEXTYet I will triumph in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Yahweh my Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like those of a deer and enablesme to walk on mountain heights.

Habakkuk 3:18-19

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Short Takes for Saturday, January 23, 2016

WHY do the Jets and Knights lose so many players. Is Newcastle that unfashionable? The Pittsburgh Steelers have a similar demographic but have still wonseveral Super Bowls. As a local, I think it’s a great place to live. Have a look around the A-League. If you brought back the players who’ve left us, we’d have a winning team. I’d suggest Newcastle is a great place for a player at the end of his career to retire or start a family, but not a young bloke to be a superstar, unless he’s bred here.
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Mark Deller, MerewetherCLIMATE change divides the populist and the science community, so Ithink Peter Lewis was off the mark with his cartoon (23/1). On the same day the Herald ran an articleindicating how the temperature has occasionally spiked over the last 48 years, with a maximum variation of 1.5 degrees. I believe blamingcoalin a public forum such as a cartoon is an abuse of power, especially in a region so reliant on the industry.

Tony Mansfield,LambtonWHY would they put four extra carriages on five services daily on theHamilton to Sydney line when the trains can’t even run on time as they are. Commuters need to get to work.

Glen Morgan,MayfieldDRIVINGthrough Fern Bay I saw one of those signs,“Bugger off Nelmes”, and thought Ineed to get one. We don’t want to merge with Port Stephens Council either.Newcastle council isin enough mess. You can have too many clowns in a circus.

Colin Geatches,MayfieldRE the ShortTake by Julia Riseleyabout the Shooters and Fishers Party MP(20/1):Let’s hope this karma does not also apply to those who wish harm on others becausebeliefs orlifestyles differ from theirown.

Rick Thornton,StocktonLIKE him or hate him, Bruce MacKenzie has taken Port Stephens Council out of the financial doldrums others are facing.It is pleasing to see infrastructure projects benefit locals and tourists and there’smuch more to do. If Newcastle council wants to come on board as a junior partner, we may consider it. But amalgamation? No thanks.

Gerry Mohan, Shoal BayIF the present federal member for Hunter, Joel Fitzgibbon (ALP),is as good as his party thinks he is,let him take on Bob Baldwin (Liberal)in the new revised seat of Paterson and maybe do some footwork and win the seat back for Labor. I am sure he would be able to find a nice house in the Maitland area or have a seachange and look around the Nelson Bay area.

Robert Bowne,Marks PointLETTER OF THE WEEKTHIS week’s Letter of the Week goes to Lorraine Penfold, of Wallsend, for letter on helping thoseless fortunate. YourHeraldpen is in the mail.

TEXTALL of you, take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.For my yoke iseasy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:29-30

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Lake parking headaches to get attention

Park It: A parking area in Charlestown.Charlestown, Cardiff and Warners Bay were the Lake Macquarie town centres with the most critical parking problems, councillor Rob Denton said.
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The comments come as the city council calls for community comment on a Lake Macquarie Parking Strategy.

“As a user of those town centres, I’d love to see them all have more parking to increase their appeal,” Cr Denton said.

Business owners and residents had highlighted the three town centres as having “the most critical shortages”, he said.

Deputy mayor Brian Adamthwaite said the strategy would consider “the whole city and look at parking needs and what sort of mix there should be”.

Councillor Adamthwaite said the council had previously stated its opposition to paid parking.

But he said the new strategy would consider “multi-storey car parks at places like Charlestown, which may incorporate some paid parking”, as well as free spaces.

The council’s willingness to boost parking would be linked to its environmental outlook.

“Ideally we want to be greener and more sustainable and to that extent we’re increasing cycleways to help with transport,” Cr Adamthwaite said.

“The crunch comes with the state government, which provides public transport.”

He noted that Newcastle had been embroiled in “public transport mayhem”.

The availability of public transport was also a “real problem” in Lake Macquarie.

“To have a parking strategy work in concert with a Lower Hunter public transport strategy would make perfect sense,” he said.

“That involves local and state governments coming together to plan for the future, rather than just having band-aid solutions.”

Cr Denton said there was an “anti-car lobby” opposed toincreasing car parking spaces.

“They haven’t come up with sufficient alternatives,” he said.

Until this occurred, he was against stripping back the needs of motor car users.

Any alternatives, he said, must have “equal or greater convenience at the same or less cost”.

“A lot of people have their lifestyles based around cars,” he said.

Cr Denton said parking problems were caused by “short-sightedness of the past”.

In 2013, he opposed a parking shortfall at a medical centre in Cooranbong.

“It was politicised that ‘if you vote against this you’re voting against medical services’,” he said.

But from his perspective, he voted to avoid pedestrian and traffic chaos in future.

Until now, the council did not have a “formal citywide parking strategy”, a statement said.

It had previously dealt with parking demand and supply “on a case-by-case basis”.

The findings and recommendations from the strategy will enable the council to prepareforand manage parking issues.

“This may include individual parking management plans for each town centre, or other areas identified as requiring detailed planning or management controls.”

People can comment on the parking strategy on the council’s “Have Your Say” website.

haveyoursaylakemac南京夜网419论坛/lake-mac-parking

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Letters for Monday, January 25, 2016

MY 19-year-old son and five friends decided to walk home from the Wests club at New Lambton about 2am on Sunday.
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As they walked past Lambton Park they encountered between 30 and 40 teenagers,aged about 15.

My son and one of his friends were attacked but thankfully managed to get away, although they both sustained injuries and torn clothes.

Police were called and came. They suggest my son and friend attend John Hunter Hospital if they felt their injuries needed medical assistance.

I called Waratah police when they arrived home and was told “there are lots of kids like that out there tonight”.

Luckily we were not seeing our son in a morgue today.

Unbelievable that not only these kids are out at 2am but more distressing at the violence they displayed.

Obviously the police have no answer to this problem and I do feel sorry for them.

Something needs to be done before the outcome is one of those tragic headlines we see when the victim is not so lucky.

Kim Watkins, WaratahIDEAS HEAT UPOLWYN Edwards (“Some like it hotter” 23/1)questions how people will survive if the sort of heat we have been experiencing continues into the future.

At present this is set to happen.

Even ifthe worldcould cease all greenhouse gas emissions overnight: – shut down all the coal-fired power stations, close all the airports and roads, factoriesetc. our planet will (because of the delayed response time) continue to heat up.

Becausethe necessity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been delayedfor so long, some scientists now see a need to attempt to artificially cool our Earth, using geo-engineering.

The term “Solar Radiation Management”is likely to come into use in the future and some people are taking out patents on ideas that they see as anew means of wealth.

Just two of these ideas include what is being called a “Cloud Brightening Ship” and a process that mimics the action of volcanoes when they erupt.

It is expected thatboth methodswill result in reflecting the sun’s rays away from our planet.

The first of these methods isby increasing the formation of clouds,by drawing salt water from the oceans up into the atmosphere.

Thesecond method is byproducing tiny droplets of sulphuric acid in the stratosphere.

How effective the methods will be of course remains to be felt.

One thing is certain though.

Geo-engineering should never be seen as an alternative to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.

There is bound to be management problems and what happens when all that acid returns to Earth?.

John Ormandy,Beresfield TRANSITORY COOL THING: Letter writer John Ormandy says some scientists are looking at ways to artificially cool the Earth through geo-engineering.

BURNING QUESTIONSALL this unnecessary scaremongering – hottest year on record, etc.

In a comment piece on 21/1,Carbon Sense Coalition spokespersonViv Roberts, warns us that we are soon heading into another ice-age.

So we best keep on burning all that lovely coal to stave off the impending doom!

Quick … dig it up!

Shovel it into the furnaces as quickly as you can!

There is, however, the sticky problem of the time frames involved.

We may all be burned to a crisp before the “glacial winter” kicks in.​

Kevin McDonald,Balickera (East Seaham)BENEFITS OFVEGANISMI WRITE in response to the letter by Darren Burrows: (“Veganism a dead-end for sustainable future” 20/1).

Veganism has a minimal impact on the environment compared to the extensive worldwide deforestation caused in the name if agriculture.

It would allow us to feedthe world’s starving, instead of feeding a higher quantity to livestock each day.

Veganism is much more humane. The would be no need to manufacture life just to kill it off unnecessarily.

Worldwide health would significantly improve. I refer to the recent study thatlinked certain types ofmeat with types of cancers.

It is disappointing opinions such as Mr Burrowes’ presentedin such a way that misleads readers and attempts to undermine the massive validation of vegan diet benefits.

Ashwin Bhatt,Central CoastHELP THOSE WHO NEED ITI READ Lisa O’Brien’s opinionarticle. It made for good reading (“We need to do more for school leavers” Herald 20/1).

You’re correct:kids from disadvantaged backgrounds have the odds against them in the jobs market.

I know from my personal experience.

I left school in 1963. I passed my intermediate certificate, in all subjects, with an average of 85 per cent yet boys with lower marks, even some without the intermediate, gained apprenticeships.

I think that’s immoral.

David Davies,Blackalls ParkLEAVE THE GST ALONEONCE again the federal coalition shows its complete lack of any economic understanding or commonsense by introducing a 50 per cent increase of a regressive tax like the GST.

The GST rise andtheir frantic efforts to slash workers penalty rates show their complete lack of understanding of the basic rules of economics.

They come at a time when incomes are falling, consumer and business confidence is at record lows, real unemployment is 9.7 per cent, the market is tanking and returns to retirees and investors are at historical lows.

Any increase to this horrible tax will kill small business, causing more unemployment, lower tax collection from falling sales and wages and incomes,.

This is a time to stimulate an economy not starve it of fuel.

Here comes the recession we did not have to have.

Brian Crooks, SconePOLLIS it time that Australia got serious about building high speed rail?

Yes92.79% No7.21%

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Canberra weather: rain dampens lead up to Australia Day

Hardy souls take a bike ride in the rain. Photo: Graham TidyThe weather leading up to Australia Day has offered little encouragement to employees weighing up taking an extra long weekend.
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Australia Day falls on a Tuesday this year, but forecasters predict rain and thunderstorms through to the beginning of next week.

Rain paired with the warm weather this week brought the tropics to the capital.

Twenty-six millimetres of rain fell on the capital on Thursday evening.

“That rain that came through [on Thursday], got really, really heavy and pretty much fell all at once,” Weatherzone meteorologist Kim Westcott said.

Ms Westcott said 17.6 mm fell in 10 minutes. “To put that in perspective you usually see that sort of rainfall heaviness in the tropics,” she said.

Forecasters predict another 10mm on Friday, and more possible storms over the weekend. The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted temperatures to top at 27 degrees or more at the weekend.

Canberrans have also no doubt noticed the above average humidity in the capital.

Ms Westcott said three days straight of above 35 degrees, together with the rain and cloud cover, were contributing to the humidity in the air.

The bureau recorded a relative humidity rate of 99 per cent at 7am on Friday morning, dropping to 54 per cent by lunchtime and rising back to 88 per cent by 3pm.

The story is similar at the south coast, with the forecast of rain and thunderstorms although temperatures were expected to be cooler, Ms Westcott said.

A thunderstorm or two is expected on Saturday, with more of a sprinkling on the days through to Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for parts of NSW above the ACT and east to the south coast.

Weatherzone is owned by Fairfax Media, the publisher of this website.

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New Waratahs captain Michael Hooper relying on leadership experience from within squad to create something special in upcoming season

Michael Hooper sees no point in laying down the law to his Waratahs teammates about how things will be on his watch. There are so many experienced heads he hopes will impart their wisdom on a squad attempting to write a new and exciting chapter in the club’s history.
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The 24-year-old was named Waratahs captain this week by coach Daryl Gibson and, although Hooper has had success in charge of NSW before – he led them to an inaugural Super Rugby title in 2014 – it is the first time he has started a season as leader with a clean slate.

There is no better time for Hooper to take over the captaincy; a position many expect he will hold for many years. He had just over nine weeks to rejuvenate and recover from the bumps and bruises of a gruelling World Cup campaign and, in that time, ensured he did as little as possible.

Hooper did, however, manage to get out of Sydney. He attended Lost Paradise – a three-day camping music festival in Glenworth Valley – with a handful of school mates and friends from the northern beaches where he grew up.

For the record, Hooper’s favourite acts were British producer Jamie xx and local legend Hayden James.

“I had a great time,” says Hooper of the festival in which he danced alongside 5000 other avid partygoers. “It was actually a really good festival, really laid back. I enjoyed myself.”

After welcoming the New Year in relaxing fashion, it was back to business for Hooper on the first Monday of 2016.

The openside flanker, who became the first player to win three consecutive Matthew Burke Cups as the Waratahs’ Players’ Player of the Year, was informed by Gibson that last season’s leader, Dave Dennis, would be named club captain instead.

Hooper says the transition was speedy, but is adamant his bond with Dennis will be beneficial in the long run.

“Denno is such a respected presence that nothing is going to change there … the words that he says are more potent than ever,” Hooper says.

“He embodies what the club is about, so for myself and Dave it’s really a partnership of how we go about getting this team on the right page. It’s going to be a learning curve and I’ve got a great group of experienced heads here that are going to help each other to get the result we want. It’s definitely a cooperative effort and it’s a work in progress for me.”

Do not expect Hooper to stamp his authority on this squad in the way a cricket skipper might, for he feels there is no need to. Despite leading the Waratahs to that famous 2014 Super Rugby title in front of 61,823 fans at ANZ Stadium, Hooper wants his players to strive for new, lofty heights.

“I think it’s pretty important that we don’t chase the feeling of 2014; it’s about creating a new one, especially for guys who have been here before,” Hooper says. “There would be guys in the squad who would be looking at that year [2014] as certainly a standout year, but for the majority of guys, we want to create something new and unique.

“We want to create something special from this group.”

Like Hooper, Gibson will start the season in charge for first time after filling the void of now-Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

​He is adamant Hooper will continue to demand respect from players, despite his age, because of his stoic on-field performances.

“I think Michael will be very much a follow-me type leader,” says Gibson of Hooper, who has played for 80 minutes in all but two of his 50 games for the club. “Everyone leads in different ways, and I think you’ll really see him leading from the front.”

Asked whether he thinks he still fits into young brigade of the squad, Hooper laughs.

“I’ve played a lot of footy and the body sometimes doesn’t feel like it was when you’re 18, but everyday turning up you pinch yourself at how good it is to play rugby in Sydney for the Waratahs,” Hooper says.

“It’s a pretty special place and that’s why we want to make the most every year that we have here.”

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

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