Benedict breaks silence to defend his papal record

August 8th, 2018

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has broken his self-imposed silence with a lengthy letter to a prominent atheist in which he defended himself from accusations that he did not do enough to bring to justice sexually abusive priests.
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The former pontiff spoke of his ‘‘profound consternation’’ that ‘‘evil’’ had entered so deeply into the Roman Catholic faith. But he denied that he had, either as pope or previously as head of the Vatican office dealing with abuse cases, tried to cover up the scandals that tarnished the Church’s reputation around the world.

‘‘I never tried to cover these things up,’’ he wrote.

‘‘That the power of evil penetrated so far into the interior world of the faith is a suffering that we must bear, but at the same time must do everything to prevent it from repeating.

‘‘Neither is it comforting to know that, according to research, the percentage of priests who commit these crimes isn’t any higher than the percentage of other similar professions.

‘‘Regardless, one shouldn’t present this deviation as if it were something specific to Catholicism.’’

The letter was sent to Piergiorgio Odifreddi, an atheist mathematician, who in 2011 wrote a book titled, ‘Dear Pope, I’m Writing to You’.

In his book, Odifreddi posed a series of polemical arguments about the Catholic faith, including the church’s sex abuse scandal.

The letter was reprinted by the leading Italian newspaper La Repubblica, and was the first published statement from Benedict since he said on retirement that he would live out his years ‘‘hidden from the world’’.

It discussed topics such as the nature of Catholic belief, the conflict between good and evil, and evolution, came two weeks after La Repubblica published a similar letter from his successor Pope Francis on atheism and agnosticism.

The Vatican said the timing of the two documents was a coincidence, rather than a concerted attempt by the two pontiffs to launch a fresh engagement with non-believers.

But the fact that a former pontiff and his successor wrote letters on the same issue within days of each other underlined the peculiarity of a situation in which, for the first time in centuries, two popes live virtually under the same roof.

While Pope Francis lives in a Vatican guesthouse called the Casa Santa Marta, his predecessor is living out his retirement in a former convent a few hundred yards away. It is not known how often the two men meet as they move around within the walls of the tiny sovereign state but they share the same private secretary – Archbishop Georg Ganswein.

Benedict’s assertion that he had done what he could to end sexual abuse by priests was disputed by groups representing the victims of paedophile clergy.

‘‘Over a clerical career that lasted more than six decades, we can’t think of a single child-molesting bishop, priest, nun, brother or seminarian that Benedict ever exposed,’’ said Barbara Dorris of the United States-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

‘‘In the Church’s entire history, no one knew more but did less to protect kids than Benedict. As head of CDF, thousands of cases of predator priests crossed his desk. Did he choose to warn families or call police about even one of those dangerous clerics? No. That, by definition, is a cover-up.’’

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Palmer candidate Jacqui Lambie claims final Senate seat in Tasmania

August 8th, 2018

Federal politics coverageLambie celebrates win, flips on carbon tax
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The Palmer United Party has won its first seat at the election, with its candidate Jacqui Lambie taking out the final Senate seat in Tasmania.

A 42-year-old single mother with two children, Ms Lambie squeezed past the Liberals’ third candidate Sally Chandler and sex industry lobbyist Robbie Swan to win a seat in the new Senate.

In the tightest contest in Tasmanian history, Mr Swan fell just 244 votes short of overtaking Labor senator Lin Thorp at the point where one or other dropped out of the count.

With just another 0.08 per cent of the vote, the Canberra-based co-convenor of the sex industry’s Eros Foundation would have topped her vote, won her preferences and most likely gone on to take the seat.

Instead, Ms Lambie won the seat, winning 6.6 per cent of the vote, in the Palmer United Party’s best performance anywhere outside Queensland.

She was helped over the line by a horde of preferences from other parties, ranging from the libertarian Liberal Democrats to the Greens.

The Palmer United Party is certain to win a second Senate seat in Queensland, where rugby union legend Glenn Lazarus won 10 per cent of the vote, and has a 50/50 chance of winning a third seat in Western Australia, where it is in a fight with the obscure Australian Sports Party.

PUP leader Clive Palmer won the lower house seat of Fairfax by 36 votes but the slender margin means the contest is now subject to a recount, with results not expected until next week.

The Coalition’s loss means it will have only 33 seats in the new 76-member senate, one fewer than now. Labor and the Greens will have 35 seats between them, with a crossbench of eight senators holding the balance of power.

A combative former military policewoman, Ms Lambie has warned the government she will be no pushover.

”If he thinks that Pauline Hanson was a pain in the rear end, Tony Abbott better look out,” she told Fairfax Media in an interview after early counting showed she may secure the seat. ”He hasn’t come up against Jacqui Lambie.”

The AEC has also officially announced the Senate results for the Northern Territory. As expected, the Country Liberal Pary’s Nigel Scullion has retained his Senate seat, with Labor’s Nova Peris taking the second spot.

Ms Lambie joined the army at 18 and served for 11 years before a back injury forced her to quit. She then spent years fighting the Department of Veterans Affairs in the courts before it finally gave her a disability pension.

A former member of the Liberal party, she originally sought its preselection for the north-west Tasmanian seat of Braddon. When that failed, she decided to stand for the Senate as an independent, selling her house in Burnie to finance her campaign, but then ran into party leader Clive Palmer at an airport, and agreed to be his lead candidate.

Ms Lambie has already shown an independent streak, telling the ABC she disagreed with her party’s policy to remove the price on carbon. “There still needs to be a carbon tax, but it just needs to be a lot lower,” she said.

However, she appeared to change her mind on the issue after her win was announced on Wednesday, saying ”I just buggered that up”.

She has also sharply attacked both major parties over cuts to welfare payments, and urged the new government to increase the staff of the Veteran Affairs department by 50 per cent.

She will replace Labor senator Lin Thorp when the new Senate takes its place next July.As expected, the other five seats in Tasmania went to sitting Labor senators Carol Brown and Catryna Bilyk, Liberal senators Richard Colbeck and David Bushby, and Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

with Judith Ireland

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Roseville cinema robbery: pair arrested for assaulting police to be questioned

August 8th, 2018

Police are investigating whether two people arrested after allegedly assaulting officers at a Kirrawee fast food outlet are linked to a violent rampage across Sydney on Monday night, during which a hotel and cinema were robbed and an elderly man was carjacked.
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The 22-year-old man and 20-year-old woman will be questioned at Sutherland Police Station on Wednesday over armed robberies at the Roseville Cinemas and the Revesby Pacific Hotel, in which staff and customers were threatened with a sawn-off shotgun. The pair will also be quizzed about a carjacking in Lane Cove on the same night in which an 87-year-old man’s car was stolen.

The pair was arrested at a McDonald’s outlet on the Princes Highway at Kirrawee about 11pm on Tuesday after police were called to investigate reports that they were acting suspiciously.

When police spoke with the couple, the man allegedly punched a constable in the face and the woman kicked another officer twice in the head.

The man then allegedly bit the first officer on the hand before running from the restaurant. He was arrested a short time later in Monroe Avenue.

More officers who were called to the fast food outlet were allegedly assaulted by the woman, before both were taken to Sutherland Police Station.

Police will also allege the woman scratched and punched the custody sergeant at the station.

A total of seven police officers were injured during the incident, police allege.

Officers seized a number of bags that were found with the couple and they are being forensically examined.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said the Metropolitan Robbery Unit, which was investigating the robbery at the Roseville Cinemas and at the Revesby Pacific Hotel on Monday night, was waiting to interview the couple. No charges have been laid.

During Monday night’s rampage, thieves carjacked a vehicle from an 87-year-old man in the driveway of his Lane Cove home before driving to the Roseville Cinemas.

Four thieves ran into the cinema about 8pm and threatened to shoot and kill a number of cinemagoers if they did not hand over their wallets, before stealing about $1000 from the cinema box office.

The thieves then fled in the stolen car, which police say was used in another armed robbery at the hotel in Revesby later that night.

Police have urged anyone with information about the robberies to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Telstra cuts a path to the future

March 10th, 2019

Telstra needs to ‘sweat’ traditional assets and free up resources for expansion elsewhere. Photo: James DaviesTelstra axes 1100 jobs in restructureTelstra key top stop NBN wobbles
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The 1100 job cuts that Telstra unveiled today are the result of a restructuring of the group’s operations, which in turn flows from an absolutely essential re-weighting of the group’s resources.

The telco is moving away from its traditional businesses including fixed line telephony and towards new and hoped for growth engines.

The aim is not to shrink the company to greatness – that never works – but to control costs by redirecting spending to the growth areas rather than expanding the existing budget to resource them.

The strategy does however create a vice for jobs in the traditional Australian-based businesses, and it is being turned tighter as Telstra also sends administrative work offshore to lock in lower labour costs.

The cuts announced today were flagged in May when Telstra’s chief operations officer, Brendon Riley, told staff that the telco intended to reorganise operationally into five groups.

Three of them – IT Solutions, Networks and Customer Service Delivery – were newly created.

Riley said there would be common support functions for them, and for existing Telstra operations covering the national broadband network and Network Applications and Services (NAS), an end-to-end business communications offer that Telstra sees as one of its new growth engines in Australia.

Telstra chief executive David Thodey doesn’t have a viable alternative, however.

As its old fixed line telephony business shrinks, it must invest in new businesses to maintain revenue and earnings growth.

It must also ‘‘sweat’’ its older assets to make them more profitable as their revenue declines, however, and it also knows that its support in the sharemarket among both wholesale and retail investors draws on the fact that it is a classic investment yield play.

The telco has paid a steady 28 cents a share in regular dividends since 2005, with occasional special dividends thrown in.

At around $4.93 this afternoon, its shares were up 13 per cent this year, 27 per cent in two years and 64 per cent in three years, but were still yielding 5.7 per cent before tax credits and 8.1 per cent after them.

The expectation is that payments will if anything rise in the next few years as income from its deal to co-operate with the roll-out of the new national broadband network starts pouring in.

The NBN co-operation deal was given a net present value of $11 billion by Telstra in 2011 when it was struck.

It has to be renegotiated now that the Coalition is in government and moving to restructure the roll-out from a fibre-to-the-home model to a fibre-to-the-node one.

But ahead of the election Tony Abbott said that Telstra and its shareholders would be kept whole, and Thodey is taking that to mean that the NBN shake-up will be value-neutral at least.

It could in fact be value positive, if the new government decided that after missing roll-out targets the NBN Co needs Telstra’s help in constructing the network.

The expectation that Telstra dividends will stay strong and probably rise is therefore not materially shaken by the change in power in Canberra, and as long as the expectation that Telstra will be a yield play is alive in its share price, its options for funding expansion are limited.

Decisions to cut costs including jobs to both sweat traditional assets and free up resources for expansion elsewhere become almost a fait accompli.

The Maiden family owns Telstra shares.

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Graeme Hick named Cricket Australia high performance coach

March 10th, 2019

Former England Test batsman Graeme Hick has been appointed as the high performance coach at Cricket Australia’s centre of excellence in Brisbane.
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Hick fills the role vacated by former Australian player Stuart Law, who replaced new national coach Darren Lehmann as Queensland boss in June.

The Zimbabwe-born Hick, who played 65 Tests for his adopted homeland, will be charged mainly with looking after the Australia A and under-19 players.

He will also be used as a specialised batting coach for state and international players when they train at the centre.

“Graeme is a highly regarded former international batsman who has been a consultant coach this past winter working with our AIS scholars,” Cricket Australia performance manager Pat Howard said.

“Graeme knows what it takes to compete at the top level and has had many years’ experience playing in different conditions, which will be vital to the development of our young batters.

“He will complement the specialist skills with Troy Cooley and Tim Coyle who are responsible for our fast bowling and fielding programs respectively, as well as all national coaching staff in our pathway system including Darren Lehmann.”

Hick will begin his role by attending a batting forum in Sydney next month.

Several former Australian cricketers and current coaches are expected to use the forum to provide information for the creation of a national batting program.

GRAEME HICK’S CRICKET CAREER AT A GLANCE 

Tests: 65

Debut: v West Indies, Leeds, 1991

Average: 31.32

Highest score: 178 (v India, Mumbai, Feb 1993)

100s: 6

50s: 18

ODIs: 120

Debut: v West Indies, Birmingham, 1991

Average: 37.33

Highest score: 126no (v Sri Lanka, Adelaide, 1999)

100s: 5

50s: 27

* Scored 41,112 first-class runs at 52.23 including 136 centuries

AAP

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Market has a spring in its step

March 10th, 2019

Early sale: The ABC’s Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer sold their Macarthur Street, Ultimo, house for $1.25 million before it was due to go to auction. Trading in: Pengana Capital’s Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole sold their Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill, property for $4.64 million.
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False start: Terry and Elsa Jenkins have now sold Roselyn on Forsyth Street, Killara, after a previous sale fell through last year.

Landmark sold: A restored Craignairn in Wahroonga sold for shy of $6 million.

Sydney’s movers and shakers are making the most of a happy spring selling season.

Headlining the sales results is the Federation Arts and Crafts mansion Craignairn in Wahroonga.

The local landmark on 7100 sq m is one of the area’s largest lots and was designed by Howard Joseland for textile merchant Waler Symington Strang and wife Evelyn Mills in 1909.

In recent years it’s had about $1 million lavished on restoring and up-dating it by developer Alfred Attard and wife Alexandra, before they listed it with hopes of more than $6 million in August.

Landmark sold: A restored Craignairn in Wahroonga sold for shy of $6 million.It was sold by Chana Scotcher, of Chana Scotcher Realty, and Andrew Burns, of Burns and Burns, who declined to comment on the sale, but other sources say the result was $6 million, and is rumoured to have been bought through buyer’s agent Hylton John, of PK Property.

In Mosman, investment banker Cosmas Kapsanis and his wife Susan Turner-Kapsanis have sold their home for $5.8 million to a Chinese buyer.

Kapsanis, the co-founder and managing director of corporate investment advisory Ivest, and Turner-Kapsanis listed the Mistral Avenue property in August given their plans to move to the eastern suburbs, closer to their triplet sons’ Cranbrook school.

The sale was by Richard Simeon and Mark Manners, of Richardson & Wrench Mosman.

In Ultimo, the home of the ABC’s new controller of children’s TV Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer has sold for $1.25 million.

Early sale: The ABC’s Deirdre Brennan and her executive producer husband David Spencer sold their Macarthur Street, Ultimo, house for $1.25 million before it was due to go to auction.

The Macarthur Street terrace was expected to go to auction this Saturday through BresicWhitney’s Matthew Carvalho and Chris Nunn, who had a guide of more than $1.1 million.

The couple listed the four-bedder – around their corner from their workplace at the public broadcaster – following their purchase of a Paddington terrace in July for $1.9 million through McGrath’s Ben Collier.

Francophile Ross Steele has also jumped the auctioneer’s hammer to sell his grand Victorian terrace in Paddington for $1.89 million.

The accomplished author and academic sold the Stafford Street property following his recent purchase of a three-bedroom apartment in the Paddington Green complex for $1.727 million.

Di Jones agent Victoria Morish and Ann Ramsay Arkins were marketing the terrace – where Steele wrote most of his 37 published titles – with hopes of more than $1.6 million.

In Bellevue Hill, chief executive of hedge fund group Pengana Capital Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole are free to trade up to their forever home now they have sold their property for $4.64 million.

Trading in: Pengana Capital’s Russel Pillemer and his wife Carole sold their Latimer Road, Bellevue Hill, property for $4.64 million.

Pillemer bought the property in 1998 for $1.67 million, before he and fellow Goldman Sachs alumnus and now local MP Malcolm Turnbull set up private equity firm Centrestone.

More recently renovated and extended, the two-storey home on Latimer Road was listed with brothers Mark and Barry Goldman, of Raine & Horne Double Bay.

And on the upper north shore, retired insurance executive Terry Jenkins and his wife Elsa have finally sold their Killara home after a couple of false starts.

False start: Terry and Elsa Jenkins have now sold Roselyn on Forsyth Street, Killara, after a previous sale fell through last year.

The 3210-square-metre property, Roselyn, has been home to the Jenkins since they bought it in 2005 for $5.7 million from investment entrepreneur Louis Carroll, who in turn had purchased it in 1998 for $3.8 million from executive recruiter Andrew Banks.

The Jenkins sold it last November for $5.5 million to a China-based buyer who then failed to complete the sale after exchange. It was relisted with an asking price of about $6 million and has now sold through Luschwitz’s Ceto Sandoval.

No word on the sale figure, but title records will show the final result when it settles.

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Former Czech prime minister’s secret marriage to one time chief of staff

March 10th, 2019

Former Czech Republic prime minister Petr Necas and his one time chief of staff, ensnared in the most exhaustive anti-corruption sting operation in the Czech Republic since the fall of communism, were married in a secret ceremony on Saturday, the Czech media are reporting. The move was variously viewed by analysts as a declaration of love or a cynical ploy to avoid prosecution.
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In June, Necas, 48, was forced to resign after his chief of staff and lover, Jana Nagyova, was charged with abuse of office for using the country’s secret intelligence service to spy on Necas’ wife, whom he divorced in August. Nagyova was also accused of trying to bribe three members of Parliament, who opposed a government austerity plan, with offers of posts in state-owned companies.

But on Tuesday, Nagyova dealt prosecutors a blow when she walked into a police station in Prague and introduced herself as Mrs Jana Necasova, her lawyer, Eduard Bruna, told the Czech media. Under Czech law, family members cannot be compelled to testify against one another, and analysts said this could make it difficult for prosecutors to prove that any order to offer bribes came from the former prime minister.

Jaroslav Plesl, deputy editor of Tyden, a leading political magazine, said on Tuesday that the marriage could prove a potent legal weapon for the newlyweds. ‘‘The heart of the bribery case has been whether she was acting alone or on behalf of Necas, and now it will be very difficult to prove whether he was giving her directions’’, he said by phone from Prague, adding, ‘‘That does not negate the fact that they are also very much in love.’’

Over the past several days, the Czech media have speculated that Necas and Nagyova married in a secret ceremony after they were spotted at Chateau Mcely, a 17th-century chateau near Prague with a manicured English park, a spa and a lake with a white sand beach. Tabloids have been offering big rewards for recent photographs or videos of the couple.

The two had been engaged for years in a surreptitious relationship that Necas finally acknowledged in July, telling Tyden that being romantically involved with a senior aide while he was prime minister was a bad idea. ‘‘Interconnecting a personal relationship with a working relationship is simply not correct, and I knew that,’’ he told the magazine, explaining that the heart had won out over the head.

Prosecutors have been seeking to prove that Necas, a churchgoing father of four previously nicknamed ‘‘Mr Clean Hands’’ for his anticorruption campaigning, was involved in bribing members of Parliament.

Necas has not been charged with any crime and has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Nagyova has also professed her innocence and was released in July after a month in jail pending trial. On Tuesday, Bruna, her lawyer, told the Czech media that Nagyova had declined to give a statement to the police, saying she was ‘‘not yet ready’’.

The corruption investigation, which included wiretaps of Necas’ phone conversations with Nagyova, turned up $US8 million ($AUS8.5 million) in cash and stashes of gold that prosecutors suspect was linked to influence peddling, the authorities said.

The case has riveted the country in a region that has struggled to shed a culture of corruption in the aftermath of the communist era. Corruption in the Czech Republic is so endemic that one industrious young Czech recently started a ‘‘crony safari’’ bus tour. The stops include the modernist villas of influential lobbyists and a single address registered to hundreds of companies.

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Bennett non-committal over future at Knights

March 10th, 2019

KNIGHTS coach Wayne Bennett yesterday knocked back an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the club for the last two years of his four-year contract.
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Bennett’s future remains the subject of speculation in the lead-up to Newcastle’s preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, despite assurances from Knights chief executive Matt Gidley that the coach would remain at the club until the end of 2015.

‘‘Look, I’ve got no control over that, so I don’t worry about it,’’ Bennett told the media after overseeing training yesterday, when asked about that speculation.

But when asked if he was staying in Newcastle for the next two years, as per the commitment he gave Knights owner Nathan Tinkler in April 2011, Bennett said: ‘‘Look, I can’t give you an ironclad guarantee about anything in this game, so right now, I’m the coach here, and when that changes, I’ll let you know.’’

Fairfax Media reported yesterday that Bennett was still being linked to a move to Townsville to take up a role with the Cowboys, or a return to Brisbane to rejoin the Broncos, but Gidley said the seven-time premiership-winning coach was staying put.

‘‘I’ve spoken to him about that – he’s not going anywhere,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘We’ve put a lot of work in to get some of these players here. We bought players who want to play under Wayne and play for Wayne and improve on his watch.

‘‘He’s not going to let these guys down. Wayne is extremely loyal.

‘‘I don’t laugh at [the speculation] or buy into it. Whenever there’s instability at the Broncos, Wayne’s name will be mentioned as a possible solution.

Wayne Bennett at Knights training yesterday. Picture: Darren Pateman

‘‘He built the place there and had wonderful success there. I understand that. But I think he’s excited about what we’re trying to do here.’’

The Cowboys have spoken to several coaching candidates in the past week, including Kevin Walters, Paul Green and Broncos assistant coach Kristian Woolf.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin is contracted until the end of 2015 but is under pressure after his side failed to finish in the top eight.

Bennett told the media after training yesterday that the Knights would not be within one win of a grand final without Tinkler’s intervention and involvement.

‘‘I made a statement after the game [against the Storm last Saturday] – I was interviewed in Melbourne the other night – that without Nathan doing what he’d done, we wouldn’t be where we are today,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘We wouldn’t all be standing here talking about what our chances are – good, bad or indifferent – [against the Roosters] on the weekend.

‘‘His contribution has been outstanding and I’ll repeat, without it, we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have the team we’ve got here, we wouldn’t have the staff we have here.

‘‘It just wouldn’t have happened.’’

AAP reports: Gold Coast coach John Cartwright says he’s committed to staying with the NRL club despite speculation linking him with Parramatta.

Ricky Stuart’s decision to walk out on the Eels after one year of this three-year deal has led to plenty of discussion as to who will take over at the struggling club.

Cartwright was linked to Parramatta this week, joining ex-North Queensland mentor Neil Henry, Tim Sheens, and England coach Steve McNamara as possible candidates for the Eels.

But the foundation coach of the Titans is contracted with the club until after the 2016 season and says it’s his intention to see out that deal.

‘‘I’ve made a commitment to the Titans until the end of 2016 and I stand by that commitment,’’ Cartwright said yesterday.

‘‘I believe we are building a playing squad that can win the competition in the near future and I’m determined to help the club achieve that goal over the next few years.’’

The business benefits of being family-friendly

February 10th, 2019

Lynda McAlary-Smith knows the benefits of flexible working arrangements.With family the number one life priority for so many employees, providing a family-friendly workplace is an important way for employers to ensure they keep staff happy and motivated.
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Providing flexible working options suited to employees with young children or caring responsibilities can help employers retain skilled and valued staff members, decrease absenteeism and reduce staff turnover and increase the number of people who return to work after parental leave.

By being flexible to the needs of employees, employers can also improve staff morale, engagement and productivity by demonstrating to staff that they are valued.

The best way for employers to understand how they can help their staff achieve a balance between their work and personal commitments is to speak directly to them about what their needs are.

Employers need to let staff know they are prepared to work with them to find a solution that suits the employee, as well as the needs of the business.Both sets of needs must be given consideration for the situation to work.

The development and implementation of carefully considered policies is also an important part of building a family-friendly culture in any workplace.These policies include organising meetings when most people can attend, allowing employees toaccess their annual leave in single or part-day periods, organising professional development or training during ordinary work hours and creating meaningful part-time work opportunities and job share arrangements.

These opportunities should be promoted to all staff and also highlighted in job advertisements. The fact that your workplace is open to flexible working arrangements should be celebrated – and it’s certainly a way to attract top quality staff.

Developing flexible working arrangements for staff is also a way to be recognised as an employer of choice. To gain these benefits – such as attracting quality staff and retaining them – employers should ensure that their employees and potential employees  are informed of the family-friendly policies that are in place at the recruitment and induction phases.

Communication is king. Documentation, such as writing down the policies and distributing them to staff, is also crucial because it ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and entitlements.

Employers striving to create a family-friendly workplace should take the following check-list into account:Is the concept of a work/life balance positively received and understood by managers and employees? Is it acknowledged in the workplace that employees have important roles and responsibilities outside the workplace? Are there consultative processes in place that enable staff to talk about their needs and the needs of the business? Are employees aware of what family-friendly entitlements exist in the workplace?Are the existing family-­friendly policies being reviewed regularity?

More information about how to create a family-friendly workplace can be found in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Work & Family Best Practice Guide, which is available for free download at www.fairwork.gov.au/BestPracticeGuides/01-Work-and-family.pdf

Lynda McAlary-Smith is an executive director with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Lynda’s role is to lead the agency in its education focus and reaching its goal of creating fairer Australian workplaces.

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Paul Chapman impatient with Geelong

February 10th, 2019

Paul Chapman, right, with amigos Andrew Mackie and Jared Rivers at Geelong’s Wacky Wednesday. Photo: Pat ScalaGeelong forward Paul Chapman is growing increasingly impatient with his uncertain future and has urged the Cats to make a decision ”as soon as possible”.
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The 31-year-old is keen to stay at Geelong but will go elsewhere if an agreement cannot be reached with the Cats. He has not ruled out moving interstate should the right offer come along.

Chapman admits the idea of not being a one-club player ”really hurts” but says his desire to play on next year overrides any romantic notion of retiring as a Cats champion.

In limbo until Geelong completes it list review, Chapman said he and his pregnant partner wanted an answer from coach Chris Scott and the club so they could start planning the next stage of their lives.

”As I said to [Scotty], once you know, I need to know because whatever the future holds I need to start preparing as soon as possible,” he said. ”Hopefully it’s here, but who really knows? It’s all up in the air.”

Geelong has a number of key decisions to make on veteran players, including Chapman, defenders Corey Enright and Josh Hunt, midfielder Joel Corey and key forward James Podsiadly. Enright is considered likely to stay, but there is growing doubt over the other four.

Attempts to ascertain when the players would formally meet the club about their futures were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

Asked when his meeting with Geelong would be, Chapman replied: ”I have no idea, it’s a good question. I would like to know – let’s get it over and done with [and] whatever happens, happens.”

Asked whether he was disappointed he might not be a Cat for life, Chapman said: ”It hurts, it really does. I suppose you take a little bit for granted – you think things will just happen and roll on and then all of a sudden things like this get thrown at you.

”To be a one-club player would be awesome, will be awesome, but to play for another club … I’m not saying that may not happen if things don’t work out here.”

Richmond and North Melbourne have emerged as potential perfect fits should the Cats say no to Chapman. However, the former Norm Smith medallist said he did not know whether his manager, Liam Pickering, had fielded any offers from rival clubs.

”Hopefully there are a few out there, though,” he added.

Chapman is confident he would have an impact for whoever signs him. ”Injury has hurt me this year. I do think I’ve got a lot to give but I don’t really need to sell myself too hard, either.

”I know what I can do and I’m confident of that, so hopefully Geelong or someone is as well.

”The fire still burns and I still want to be more successful than what I’ve been.”

Chapman played only eight games this season because of an ongoing hamstring issue.

He has been buoyed by the comebacks of veterans such as Luke Hodge, Luke Ball and Lenny Hayes, who missed large chunks of recent seasons only to return the next year revitalised.

Chapman said he hoped his body was the only issue Geelong was grappling with.

”I suppose when I do play, I play well. So just me getting on the park, I would assume, would be the issue from their point of view. But who really knows?”

Playing for an interstate club is not out of the question but would present challenges.

”There are plenty of things to work out first and my partner has a lot to do with that, as well as her being pregnant obviously,” he said. ”We just need to get this meeting over and done with, with Scotty, and see where I stand in their eyes and then work from there.”

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Missing mother Belinda Peisley was most likely murdered, inquest told

February 10th, 2019

DIsappeared: Belinda Peisley. Photo: NSW Police Media The home where Belinda Peisley lived before she disappeared in September 1998. Photo: Shane Desiatnik/Blue Mountains Gazzette
Nanjing Night Net

A young Blue Mountains mother who disappeared in suspicious circumstances 15 years ago most likely died as a result of homicide or violence, the Coroners Court has heard, but there is insufficient evidence to charge any of those suspected of involvement.

Belinda Peisley, 19, was last seen leaving Katoomba Hospital, west of Sydney, on September 26, 1998. Her remains have never been found.

For more than 13 years police attempted to uncover what had happened to the young woman, but found little solid evidence beyond the fact that, shortly before her disappearance, the mother-of-two had inherited a significant amount of money from her great uncle and had developed a heroin addiction.

But in late 2012, investigators uncovered new information suggesting the young woman may have been the victim of foul play within the group of young people she was spending time with, many of them drug users. An inquest into Ms Peisley’s death was initiated and police began searching a large swath of bush land near Blackheath.

The inquest heard that a few days after her death, Ms Peisley’s house was broken into by a number of her former friends and acquaintances, who later used her identification cards to sell items at a western Sydney pawn shop.

Two of the 19-year-old’s former friends – Jeremy Douglas and Saxon Holdforth – became “persons of interest” at the inquest, with the scrutiny on their activities intensifying.

The inquest received evidence from multiple witnesses suggesting that Ms Peisley had been killed and thrown off one of the Blue Mountains’ many cliff edges.

“Some of the things I have heard over the years is that Jeremy, Saxon and Olly [Peisley’s former boyfriend Oliver Tipping] took her in a car and bashed her and left her somewhere,”  Kerren Fittler said in a handwritten statement to police.

“After they’ve left her they’ve come back and got her body and done some things to her before or after she was dead and chucked her over the cliff.

“I heard she was killed over drugs or she wouldn’t give them what they wanted.”

Mr Holdforth and Mr Douglas have steadfastly maintained their innocence at the inquest.

On Wednesday, counsel assisting the inquest, Phillip Strickland, SC, said the evidence relating to the exact manner and cause of the young woman’s death was inconclusive, but that it did “point strongly to her death being the result of some sort of homicide or violence”.

“Much of the hearing has been directed towards whether these persons of interest had knowledge of or direct involvement in the circumstances surrounding Belinda Peisley’s death,” he said.

“The evidence regarding these persons is inconclusive and not capable of convincing a jury that a known person committed an indictable offence.”

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Peisley’s aunt, Sharon Versace said she was “very, very disappointed” that charges would not be laid.

“At the end of the day, someone hurt Belinda but they’re still out there living their life and they’ve taken hers,” she said.

“I’ll never give up, the detectives have come so far – I’m hoping that one day we’ll get some good news. It won’t bring Belinda back, but it will be a bit of justice for the family.”

Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon will hand down his formal findings next month.

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

New US ambassador John Berry touches down in Canberra

February 10th, 2019

Governor-General Quentin Bryce, new US ambassador John Berry and his spouse Curtis Yee. Photo: Andrew TaylorAustralia’s new United States ambassador John Berry has presented his credentials in a private ceremony at Government House on Wednesday.
Nanjing Night Net

Accompanied by his partner of 17 years, Curtis Yee, a lawyer and native of Hawaii, Mr Berry is the first openly gay ambassador of a G20 country and is the 25th US ambassador to Australia.

Mr Berry and Mr Yee arrived in Canberra late last week. The couple were married just last month in Washington DC and have started the posting at the same time the ACT is passing legislation to become the first Australian jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriage.

Mr Berry, 54, joins the current US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner, as an openly gay diplomat.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said she was looking forward to meeting the ACT’s new high-profile residents, saying “Australia enjoys a strong positive relationship with the United States and Canberra has always welcomed the US diplomatic representatives with open arms to their home away from home here in the national capital.

“Ambassador Berry and his spouse are no exception and I look forward to meeting with the new US ambassador this week to personally welcome him to the ACT on behalf of the Canberra community.”

Mr Berry was nominated for the top spot in June by President Barack Obama after former ambassador Jeffrey Bleich stepped down from the position after five years.

Mr Bleich described Mr Berry as “a smart, energetic and extremely likable man who is enthusiastic about the US-Australian relationship”.

“He is a talented and dedicated public servant with a wealth of experience in senior level positions.”

According to a statement put out by the US Embassy on Wednesday, Mr Berry “seeks to strengthen the US-Australia alliance, which has served as an anchor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world for more than sixty years; to increase bilateral trade and investment; and to deepen cultural, scientific and environmental cooperation between the United States and Australia.”

In a video introduction to Australians posted on the embassy’s website earlier this month, a beaming Mr Berry admits to loving the outdoors and has asked Australians to suggest places he and Mr Yee should visit during their posting.

“My spouse Curtis Yee is a triathlete from Hawaii who loves anything involving salt water and waves,” Mr Berry says in the video.

“We both can’t wait to explore your beautiful country.”

In 2010, Mr Berry agreed to be part of the “It Gets Better” campaign to support gay and lesbian teenagers in the US and filmed a similar direct video in which he provided an emotional and revealing insight into his family’s reaction to his sexuality.

Mr Berry said he was lucky to have never been bullied, but that he “was afraid of who he was”.

He said his father had a hard time accepting his coming out.

“It wasn’t easy. My dad, a marine sergeant who went to mass every day, asked me when I came out to him not to bring my partner over to the house.”

“Ten years later, when my partner was dying from AIDS, my dad held him in his arms and told him, ‘I love you like my own son’. Things do get better.”

Mr Berry has had a distinguished public service career spanning more than thirty years. Prior to his nomination, he served as the Director of the US Office of Personnel Management – the federal government’s “chief people person” – from April 2009 to April 2013. Hiring of veterans and people with disabilities reached record highs under his leadership and this role made Mr Berry was the highest ranking openly gay government executive in US history.

From 2005 to 2009, Mr Berry served as Director of the National Zoo, after it was found to have shortcomings in management and maintenance. He created a strategic plan focused on its modernization – prioritising fire protection and renovations of animal houses. From 2000 to 2005, he worked to conserve wildlife habitats and protect endangered species through public-private partnerships as Director of the non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Between 1997 and 2000, Mr Berry served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior – overseeing 66,000 employees.

Between 1995 and 1997, he served as director of government relations and senior policy advisor at the Smithsonian Institution and from 1994 to 1995 he served as deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary for law enforcement in the US Treasury Department, where he was responsible for 40 per cent of US federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

A native of Maryland, Mr Berry holds degrees from the University of Maryland and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Administration.

Wednesday’s formal ceremony entailed Governor-General Quentin Bryce accepting Mr Berry’s credentials to be America’s formal representation in Australia. His diplomatic car drove through the gates without a flag, but following the ceremony, was adorned with America’s star-spangled banner.

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

Making a noise about their sound investment

February 10th, 2019

How much noise should we put up with in strata?How much noise should we put up with in strata? Noise is part of normal life, but how much should we be prepared to tolerate, StrataLearner asks on the Forum. And how do you know if it’s a building defect?
Nanjing Night Net

”I am living in a relatively new building and we are going through the defects process,” he says. ”What would be considered as normal noise in such a building?

”People are complaining of music coming through the double-brick walls into their apartment, people talking in the lobby outside, furniture being moved on the tiled terrace area, and other noises such as hammering, slamming of sliding doors, [and] children running and playing on the terrace area.

”Some of these would be expected, but others may be because of incomplete or shoddy workmanship.”

There are two aspects to noise in strata blocks: structural and behavioural. And even though the building standards for apartments can seem inadequate, they are usually sufficient if people remember they have neighbours above, below and to the side.

That means turning the bass down on the surround sound, leaving carpet on the floors (or using top-notch insulation under the timber), telling your kids to save their running for the park and not extending your dinner party into the lift lobby when you say goodbye.

Also, some people are much more sensitive to noise than others, so the right to ”peaceful enjoyment of your lot” is totally subjective.

However, there might be defective structural elements involved, and this can be determined only by an acoustic consultant. Even then you’ll have trouble arguing that inadequate sound insulation is a defect if the building is demonstrably compliant with building standards.

However, if it isn’t up to code, or if the promised level of sound insulation wasn’t delivered, you might have a case. There’s a lot more on this on the Forum.

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