Consumer groups warn buyers over dodgy solar panels

Consumer groups and the Clean Energy Council are warning consumers to check who they are buying solar panels from.With Summer now upon us, leading consumer groups have joined with the Clean Energy Council to launch a new campaign advising people to make sure they are buying solar panels from an Approved Solar Retailer.
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Mandurah has remained one of the top five spots in the state for solar panel uptake, with more than 34 per cent of houses now hooked up to solar panels.

Consumer statistics show Mandurah and the Peel region remain popular sites for solar panel sales every summer.

The Alternative Technology Association, Consumer Action Law Centre, Energy Consumers Australia, Solar Citizens and the Clean Energy Council have advisedconsumers to do their research when buying a solar power system.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said that when summer heats up in Australia, so do power bills, and many people are looking to solar power as the solution.

“The start of summer in Australia has always meant sun, surf and sand, but it also means kicking back, switching on the air-conditioning and television and trying to stay cool as the sun beats down outside,” Mr Thornton said.

“The extra energy we use over the holidays has an impact on your hip pocket, which makes summer a popular time to consider installing solar panels to take some of the heat out of power bills.

“But buying solar panels can be a bit of a minefield for consumers with the large number of suppliers and deals available.”

Mr Thornton said consumers who weren’t completely sure of the industry could be taken advantage of by fly-by-night installers.

“If you’re looking to buy solar panels, do your research and look for a Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailer,” he said.

“These companies have signed the only solar industry code of conduct that’s authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. They offer a five year, whole-of- system warranty, as well as best practice customer service.”

Forty leading solar retailers across Australia are now Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailers, and have agreed to meet the strict terms of the voluntary code of conduct.

These companies have committed to deliver best practice quality and service, and are regularly reviewed to ensure they’re doing the right thing by their customers.

In addition to choosing an Approved Solar Retailer, when buying solar, consumers are advised to do their research about what works for them, and to watch out for pressure tactics.

Consumers groups said the top tips for buying solar were:

– Download the Clean Energy Council’s Guide to Installing Solar to start your research

– Be wary of ‘limited time only’ offers and salespeople who pressure consumers to sign a contract on the spot

– Be aware of your rights when speaking to door-to- door sellers or telemarketers – the ACCC has some good advice online

– If finance is offered, ask about the costs in comparison to buying outright and consider if you can afford the repayments

– Remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

For more details or to find an Approved Solar Retailer, look for the logo or visit approvedsolarretailer南京夜网419论坛.

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Latrobe draws again

Latrobe hasbeen involved in its second draw is as many weeks after nothing could separate them and Penguin in their Bowls North West Thursday Pennant game.
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To show how even the contest was, both teams walked away with six points after winning one rink each, while the third rink between Karen Redman and Erin Sesara finished at 17-all.

Mary Beaumont gave Latrobe the advantage after a 24-13 win over Lyn Franklin, but Gaylene Elsworthy erased that nine-shot gap with a comfortable 23-12 victory over Janine Thompson.

The result is blow to both teams as they lost ground on the top two sides, Devonport and Wynyard, who both continued on their winning ways.

Ladder leaders Devonport played host to South Burnie and used its superior depth to triumph 64-58 in muggy conditions.

Winning rink: Devonport’s Robyn Bassett starts the bowl on its journey during Thursday’s game against South Burnie. Picture: Cordell Richardson.

Maureen Feltham gave the visitors an ideal start after taking care of Jill Arnold 27-12.

But the advantage was wiped out by Robyn Basset, who defeated Jan Kerrison 30-14, and Jenny Dargavel, who was too strong for Marlene Singleton 22-17.

South Burnie’s Jan Kerrison assesses her options.

Second-placed Wynyard were made to work hard for its win at home to thelowly Ulverstone team, but eventually prevailed on its home greens 64-57.

Dee Harman had a great battle with Janice Clarke before eventually winning 22-19, while Chyril Nolan had four shots to spare by the end of her match against Joan Burley.

Ulverstone managed to take a well-deserved point from the encounter when Karen Bebbington forced a 22-all draw with Pam Cox.

Port Sorell made the long journey to Smithon and emerged successful after triumphing over the home side 62-54.

Helen McNamara mastered the conditions to beat Julie Oates 20-12, before Alison Munting extended the margin with a 21-17 win against Karen Neilson.

Patsy Medwin tried her hardest to eat into the deficit, but her 25-21 victory over Jan Marshall proved notenough.

The final game of the round saw Sheffield remain in sixth place on the ladder following a 66-50 win at home to Viewmont.

Carina Daly was the catalyst for the final margin after demolishing Maree Brown 29-12.

The remaining two rinks were far closer affairs with Colleen Fielding and Barbara Loane playing out a 19-all draw, and Viewmont’s Pam Zolati edging out Sheffield’s Judy Hope 19-18.

Division 1 ladder:Devonport 75, Wynyard 68, Penguin 66, Latrobe 61, South Burnie 55, Sheffield 44, Viewmont 35, Port Sorell 33, Ulverstone 28, Smithton 15.

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How do city’s assets rate?

PORT Lincoln residentsare being asked to rate the standard of the city’sassets including roads, stormwater infrastructure, community buildings and recreational facilities.
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The Port Lincoln City Councilis keen to receive community feedback as part of a review ofits Infrastructure andAsset Management Plan to helpplanmaintenance and renewal of community assets.

Mayor Bruce Green said the council ownedand managedsignificant infrastructure and assetsand aimedto keep these assets safe, functional and meeting the needs of the community.

The council is seeking feedback to help understand how satisfied thecommunity is with the condition of the council’s assets and what people’s expectations are.

“We would like as many people as possible to give us their opinion on what ‘good enough’ looks like, as well as what assets are most important in meeting the community’s needs,”Mr Green said.

A shortonline survey is available on the council website 梧桐夜网portlincoln.sa.gov419论坛

Hardcopies of the survey are also available at the council office, Civic Centre, Level One, 60 Tasman Terrace, Port Lincoln and the Port Lincoln Library, 2 London Street, Port Lincoln, however completion of the online survey is preferred.

“The data from the survey will help council to identify asset types that need more attention, or possibly less attention than planned,” Mr Green said.

“This will help us to plan for the best maintenance programs and capital projects.”

Survey responses must be received by the council by 9am on Monday, January 30.

Anyone who responds will be eligible for a prize draw with threewinners to receive a $100 gift voucher to spend at the Nautilus Arts Centregallery shop, galleries or box office.

For more information about the survey, contact the council’s customer service on 8621 2300 or email [email protected]论坛 with subject heading Asset Condition Ratings Survey.

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Seymour offers the international style

ADVERTISING FEATURE
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A GREATER CHOICE: Seymour College senior students Laura Purvis of Farrell Flat and Millie Hooper of Myrtle Bank enjoy learning at the school.

​Seymour College has a long history of high achievement in girls’ education in South Australia.

Now, in less than two years, Seymour has been authorised to offer a new choice for students commencing in 2017: the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

Seymour will continue to offer both the SACE and the IBDP, giving students more options and opportunities depending on their learning preferences.

“While the IBDP represents an exciting new dimension in our curriculum offerings at Seymour, we remain strongly committed to the SACE and recognise that it continues to be an excellent and highly suitable learning pathway for many of our senior students,” said Seymour College principal, Melissa Powell.

This advertising feature is sponsored by the following education providers. Click on the links to learn more:

Prince Alfred CollegeSacred Heart CollegeSeymour CollegeSaint Peter’s CollegetafeSAUniversity of South AustraliaWestminster SchoolWalford Anglican School for Girls“Our extensive and flexible curriculum enables girls to follow their ambition and select subjects that they are not only passionate about, but provide the best platform for their chosen future.”

The IBDP gives students a greater breadth of subjects to choose from.

It fosters in students a love of lifelong learning, enabling them to develop as problem solvers, deep thinkers and inquirers.

These qualities are in keeping with Seymour’s traditions as well as being traits required by universities and employers in the 21st century.Seymour has also been working passionately to introduce the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) for its younger students from Foundation to Year 5.

The aim is to be fully authorised by the end of 2017.

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Take a chance to join us at PrincesProviding access to more selectionOffering students more opportunitiesBright idea for future jobsWalford girls take off to Space CamptafeSA’s pathway to professional successAiming high at WestminsterThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Is $50 million the Australian Open’s next magic number for 2017?

Number crunching: Prizemoney at the 2017 Australian Open is set to increase and ticket presales for the tournament are “on par” with last year, when a record crowd of 720,363 attended over the fortnight. Photo: Teagan Glenane Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley wants to lead the way in prizemoney offered to players. Photo: Eddie Jim
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Winners are grinners at the Australian Open as 2016 runner-up Serena Williams shares a moment with winner Angelique Kerber. Photo: Scott Barbour

Australian Open prizemoney is pushing towards the $50 million barrier, with another substantial increase imminent and only the finer details of the record sum’s distribution still being negotiated by Tennis Australia and player governing bodies the ATP and the WTA.

Unlike the stand-off between the AFL and its players’ association over the terms of the parties’ new collective bargaining agreement, the tennis grand slams and their star attractions have had less difficulty coming to satisfactory terms in recent years.

The threat of strike action in 2012 paved the way for a series of significant prize pool increases at the four majors, starting at Melbourne Park, and this is expected to be another. Tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed that the push to better compensate the more lowly-ranked players in relative terms was also likely to continue at the January 16-29 event.

“We’ve been working with both the WTA and the ATP on the distribution, and once that’s finalised in the next week or so we’ll be able to announce [the prizemoney details],” said Tiley of a process that has again been left as late as possible in order to accommodate currency fluctuations. “You can expect an increase; to what extent we’ll be able to tell you then.”

Tiley reiterated the Open’s commitment to what he called “leading the way” in prizemoney agenda-setting. In 2012, for example, first-round losers in the main draw received $20,000, and the singles champion $2.3 million. This year, participation guaranteed at least $38,500, while the title winner’s purse had risen by almost 48 per cent to $3.4 million.

“We’ve been always the first to respond on player compensation and I personally, as well as our team, believe that paying the players well is really important not only for the event’s future, but also for the sport, and generally it’s lagged behind in the players ranked between 100 and 200,” Tiley said.

“We’ve stepped up by offering more prizemoney in … the qualifying, and the first few rounds. So that’s generally the direction we’ve gone as an event and we’ll continue to go [that way] because we believe there needs to be a larger group of players professionally that make more money.”

In 2013, the year after the possibility of industrial action was flagged, total Australian Open prizemoney soared by 15 per cent to $30 million, and the past three tournaments have been worth $33 million, $40 million and $44 million, respectively. This season, the US Open was again the most lucrative major, with total prizemoney of $62.5 million ($US46.3 million) on current exchange rates, ahead of Wimbledon $55.41 million and the French Open $48.6 million.

Tiley said ticket presales were “on par” with last year, when a record crowd of 720,363 attended over the fortnight. The long-range weather forecast is also encouraging, with less drizzle than in 2016, the majority of tournament days expecting maximum temperatures of 21-25 degrees, only three to four days in the 30s and perhaps one in the high 30s. A new spectator entry point is also now on the city side of the venue, via the Tanderrum Bridge.

As for dual Paralympics tennis gold medallist Dylan Alcott’s joke that he would have Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray moved to court six while he played on Rod Laver Arena, Tiley said: “How great was it Dylan Alcott winning the Newcombe Medal? The first wheelchair athlete to win it across all athletes and the speech he gave on Monday night was very emotional and was brilliant. Right now anything Dylan Alcott wants he pretty much can get.”

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Netflix downloads: everything you need to know

Netflix announced today that subscribers will be able to download select movies and TV shows for offline playback. The feature had been requested by users for a long time, and it’s reportedly been in the works since June. Now, anyone with a Netflix subscription can download movies and TV shows to watch when they’re not connected to the internet.
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In the past, the predominant belief was that Netflix offline viewing would be targeted at countries without reliable internet access. However, since that’s not the case any more, the announcement is already being championed by binge-watchers and frequent travellers. It’s also raised some questions among the tech community. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about downloading videos from Netflix, and how you can plan to take advantage of this sweet new feature. How to start downloading movies

You can only download Netflix videos using the iOS or Android app. Netflix requires users to have at least iOS 8.0 or Android 4.4.2, in addition to having the latest version of the app. Downloading videos will consume about as much data as streaming, so if you plan on saving a bunch of videos, we’d recommend connecting to a reliable Wi-Fi connection to prevent any unexpected mobile data charges. How much storage space you’ll need

The size of downloadable Netflix files depends on how long the video is. For example, one episode of Black Mirror with a running time of one hour and three minutes is about 280 megabytes in standard definition. The high-definition version of the same episode clocks in at 440 megabytes (about twice the size). How much storage space you’ll need to binge

Let’s be honest: This new offline viewing feature is cool because it allows you to load up a bunch of content for long trips. Say you’re taking a six-hour flight and want to watch downloaded Netflix videos the whole time. You’ll need six Black Mirror episodes which would require 1.68 gigabytes of free space for SD and 2.64 gigabytes for HD. So unless you’re flying further than Southeast Asia you probably won’t need much more than that. How to get the best quality video

You can choose whether you want standard-definition video — which is faster to download and takes up less space — or high-definition video. In order to keep downloads quick, Netflix sets downloads to standard video (720×480) by default. According to a Netflix spokesperson, HD support will vary by device. You can find the option to change in the app’s settings. For most users, standard definition will be good enough, especially if you’re watching on a small screen like a phone or tablet. How to manage the files

Netflix declined to comment on the file type that is saved, and you can’t view it in a file manager app, either. It works similarly to other subscription apps like Spotify. According to a Netflix spokesperson, “The downloads can only be viewed within the Netflix mobile app; they aren’t like videos you download from the internet and store to your device.” It’s safe to say this is a digital rights management (DRM) scheme to protect the copyrights of videos being offered. How to move files to a desktop or laptop (Spoiler: You can’t)

You must use the Netflix app to download and view saved videos. How to keep downloads from expiring

Each Netflix download has a different expiration time. Movies and TV shows that expire from your device in less than seven days will display how much time is left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. For some movies and shows, offline viewing must be completed within 48 hours of the moment you press play. When you start playing one of these titles, you’ll see how many hours you have left in the “My Downloads” section of the Netflix app. Explore the smart design, breakthrough science and awe-inspiring tech shaping your future at .This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Martin Shkreli responds after Sydney Grammar boys make Daraprim

The man who has been called the “poster boy for greedy drug company executives” and “the most hated man in the world”, Martin Shkreli, has responded to reports that a group of Sydney schoolboys made a drug that his company charges at $US750 ($A1011) a tablet.
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Soon after the Fairfax Media report broke, people on Twitter started peppering Mr Shkreli with questions about the story. @nedavanovac lol how is that showing anyone up? almost any drug can be made at small scale for a low price. glad it makes u feel good tho.— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 1, 2016

Mr Shkreli’s company gained the rights to Daraprim, an anti-parasitic medication listed by the World Health Organisation as essential, and soon after he raised the price from $US13.50 ($18) to $US750 a dose.

Mr Shkreli said the price rise was to extract money from insurance companies to fund research for better drugs. He says anybody in the US without insurance who needs the drug can get the drug for free.

Under the guidance of Dr Alice Williamson at the University of Sydney, some year 11 Sydney Grammar students made the drug for about $2 a dose.

In explaining his motivation during the Sydney Grammar school project, student James Wood said: “I don’t believe his justification for the price hike.” James, 17, said he thought this seemed “a bit wishy-washy”.

“He was clearly trying to justify something driven by the profit motive,” James said.

Other Twitter users suggested to Mr Shkreli the boys’ work had ‘destroyed’ him. @meatfreq destroyed?— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) November 30, 2016

He laughed off this tweet from Luke Gamon, an Australian post-doc studying in Copenhagen. @lgamon lol— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) November 30, 2016

Mr Shkreli said that making the drug is easy, or rather “ez”. @Scottyt2Hottie yea uh anyone can make any drug it is pretty ez— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 1, 2016

The founder of the Open Source Malaria Consortium at the University of Sydney, Associate Professor Matthew Todd, noticed one of Mr Shkreli’s tweets said “learning synthesis isn’t innovation”.

Associate Professor Todd said: “On one hand you have Mr Shkreli who bought a known thing and raised the price.

“On the other you have school kids who have made this thing in their spare time with their teacher. They had to develop stuff and really work on it.

“You tell me which of those is innovative.”

He congratulated the students. “It’s very impressive work,” he said.

In response to Mr Shkreli’s tweet that “anyone can make any drug it is pretty ez”, Dr Williamson said: “Not just anyone can make this drug. You need training and facilities and equipment.

She then made the point: “If anyone can do it and it’s so cheap, it highlights why it shouldn’t be $US750 a dose.”

Mr Shkreli did not respond to an invitation to respond to Fairfax Media.

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Backpacker tax: Malcolm Turnbull attacks Bill Shorten for favouring ‘rich white kids’ from Europe

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has attacked Labor for sticking by its demand for a 10.5 per cent backpacker tax. Photo: Andrew Meares Backpackers Rebecca Marsh, Amy Smyth and Rosie Togneri from Northern Ireland. Photo: Peter Rae
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With time running out to find a solution to the backpacker tax impasse, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ramped up his rhetoric on the issue by accusing Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of favouring “rich white kids from Europe” over poor Pacific Islanders and young Australians.

The backpacker tax issue will dominate Parliament on Thursday, the final sitting day of the year, as the government scrambles to strike a deal with the crossbench to stop the rate on overseas workers soaring to 32.5 per cent in January.

The government thought it had sealed a deal with senators for a 15 per cent tax rate but this was undone on Wednesday when crossbenchers Derryn Hinch and Rod Culleton surprisingly sided with Labor to back a 10.5 per cent rate. A 13 per cent rate is now being discussed.

“Bill Shorten thinks rich kids from Europe should pay less tax than Pacific Islanders working here to send money back to their villages,” Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Thursday.

“They say a backpacker from Europe, a rich kid on holidays here from Germany or Norway, backpacking around, he or she should pay less tax and that Pacific Islander who comes here to pick fruit during the season and is sending that money back to his village – some of the poorest countries in the world.”

Mr Turnbull said it would be unfair for workers from the Pacific Islands, who come to Australia under the Seasonal Worker Program, to pay a flat tax rate of 15 per cent while European backpackers are only charged 10.5 per cent.

“The Labor Party, for nothing other than political cynicism, wants these white kids – rich white kids from Europe – who come here on their holidays to pay less tax than some of the Pacific Islanders from some of the poorest countries in the world.

“Where is the equity in that?

“And [Mr Shorten] wants these kids, from Europe, to pay less tax than Australians working alongside them. I mean, seriously!

“What’s the principle there?”

Labor has attacked Mr Turnbull for claiming Australians would pay more tax than backpackers because locals can access the tax free threshold for the first $18,200 of their yearly income.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Turnbull’s comments on foreign workers were “unhinged” and inaccurate.

“The combination of super tax and the tax rate means the effective tax rate for backpackers under Labor’s compromise of 10.5 per cent is higher than for the Seasonal Worker Program, as these workers are not subject to the same superannuation clawback arrangements,” he said.

Mr Turnbull repeated the line about “rich kids” from Europe in several interviews on Thursday morning.

On Sydney radio 2GB he again contrasted European backpackers with Australia’s aid program for Islanders.

“Bill Shorten wants rich white kids from Germany and Norway and Sweden coming out here, having a holiday. He wants them to pay less tax than a Pacific Islander, then someone from Tonga who is sending the money back to his village,” he said.

He told Channel Seven’s Sunrise that Labor’s position was “sinister” and driven by “sheer bloody mindedness”.

“Labor wants a rich kid from Germany, from Norway, from Sweden to be paying less tax than someone from one of the poorest countries in the world who are sending their money back to their village,” he said.

Peak lobby group the National Farmers Federation said it would be a disaster for fruit growers if the 32.5 per cent tax rate kicked in from January.

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First Contact’s David Oldfield claims he was banned from visiting prison as ‘payback’

Ray Martin delivers the news that David Oldfield will not be going on the priosn visit with everyone else. Photo: David Dare ParkerDavid Oldfield claims he was barred from entering a remote prison for Aborigines in Western Australia because of a feud from his days as a staffer in Tony Abbott’s office.
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In a stunning scene in the final episode of SBS reality series First Contact, Oldfield is about to board a bus to visit the West Kimberley Regional Prison along with his five fellow cast members when he is told he has been refused entry.

He is told the decision was made by Joe Francis, Western Australia’s Minister for Corrections. No reason for the refusal is given.

The show’s producers, Blackfella Films, told Fairfax Media negotiations for the visit began months earlier but the decision to block Oldfield was only communicated at the last minute.

Oldfield told Fairfax he was convinced the call was made on purely personal grounds, and not because of fears his presence would spark trouble among the prison’s Indigenous population.

“My belief is that it was some old payback because the minister was an underling in Tony Abbott’s office when I worked for Tony,” says Oldfield, who worked for the then Liberal backbencher from 1996, before leaving to co-found One Nation with Pauline Hanson the following year.

Whatever grievance Mr Francis might hold would stem from “nothing particular”, Oldfield insists. “We just didn’t get along. He was probably aware I didn’t think very much of him. But back then, nobody much did.”

But a spokesman for Mr Francis insisted it was not personal, merely a matter of timing.

“Given that we were in a caretaker period in the run-up to the federal election [when the visit was filmed in June], the minister thought it was inappropriate to have a former One Nation MP visiting a West Australian prison.”

The spokesman added: “He wasn’t aware it would be a six-month turnaround for the program to go to air.”

WA Corrective Services minister Joe Francis. Photo: James Mooney

Ray Martin telling Oldfield he will not be allowed to join the others on the prison visit provides one of the most memorable moments in the second season of the documentary-cum-reality show.

“In a few minutes, a van from the West Kimberley Regional Prison will arrive here and collect you,” Martin tells the six “well-known” Australians on the show. “That is, all of you except you, David.

“David, the Minister for Correctional Services here in WA has intervened, and he’s told us he doesn’t want you to go inside the prison. I don’t know why, it’s not our call, it was his decision. It’s unfortunate, we would like you to go.”

“I would like to go as well,” says a clearly surprised Oldfield.

“We asked why and their reply was no comment,” says Martin.

“It’s appalling really, Ray … I would have liked to have gone, and to just single me out, as a retired Member of Parliament, that I’m not allowed to go in. What is he worried that I’m going to see, what is it that he’s worried I’m going to say?”

“I can’t answer that.”

David Oldfield, Natalie Imbruglia, and Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson in First Contact. Photo: David Dare Parker

His fellow cast members are divided in their response to the bombshell. Ian “Dicko” Dickson opts out of the visit in protest, but actress Nicki Wendt declines to join him.

“I think maybe David’s reputation has a little bit preceded him,” she says.

Speaking to Fairfax, Oldfield conceded that thought had crossed his mind at the time, but he no longer felt it was the case.

“If he’d said, ‘You’re a controversial person and your appearance may cause some problem’, I’d have accepted that. But the fact that never occurred indicates it was something else.”

Karl Quinn is on facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

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Treasurers’ housing summit to focus on cheaper rentals, more supply

Treasurer Scott Morrison is determined to ensure money for affordable and social housing is better spent. Photo: Alex EllinghausenHousing supply and more affordable rentals will be top of the agenda when Treasurer Scott Morrison and his state counterparts meet in Canberra on Friday.
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A leaked copy of an affordable housing report, which will be considered by the treasurers on Friday,  identifies planning rules, local councils and, crucially, federal and states taxes such as negative gearing and stamp duty, as factors that impact on the supply of affordable housing.

The report suggests four financing models that could unlock spending to grow the supply of affordable housing including, crucially, from the private sector.

Governments across Australia spend close to $11 billion a year on affordable and social housing, and Mr Morrison is determined to ensure the money is better spent – and in their final meeting for 2016, the treasurers will examine a report prepared by a federal-state affordable housing working group that examines this issue.

Back in October, the Treasurer effectively put the states on notice over the need to increase housing supply and tackle planning laws that stop, or delay, new houses being built. Those supply constraints can increase demand and force up house prices.

The meeting also comes a week after NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes broke ranks with his federal counterparts and joined the federal opposition in criticising negative gearing tax breaks, arguing that increased supply alone would not solve the housing affordability crisis.

The Affordable Housing Working Group report, written by state and federal bureaucrats, is focused on rental affordability rather than the rising cost of purchasing a home.

On tax policy, however, the report notes that taxation rules and concessions “at all levels of government have a significant impact on supply and demand of housing across the housing continuum” and can “directly affect the viability of innovative financing models for affordable housing”.

This happens by affecting the supply of affordable housing, and through its impact on the attractiveness of community housing as an investment prospect.

“Commonwealth government taxation policy affects housing in a variety of ways, in particular through capital gains tax and negative gearing arrangements, which are applied to investments more broadly,” the report states.

“These settings may affect investment decisions in established housing and possibly make housing investment more attractive to individual ‘mum and dad’ investors over institutional investors due to the ability to deduct losses against other earned income.”

At the state and territory level, taxes and concessions including stamp duties and land taxes, grants for first-home buyers and principal place of residence rebates also have an impact.

To ameliorate the cost of rental housing, the report suggested four potential models be examined to increase finance available to increase the supply of affordable housing.

These four models were the creation of housing trusts, the creation of housing loan/bond aggregators to attract greater investment, housing co-operatives and so-called “impact investing”,a new form of financing that aims to address social problems, such as a shortage of affordable housing.

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Michaelia Cash: Malcolm Turnbull’s secret weapon is a woman on the rise

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash inside her Parliament House office. Photo: Andrew Meares Michaelia Cash and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speak to the media after the ABCC bill was passed. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Michaelia Cash during question time at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares

Michaelia Cash’s staffers are standing sheepishly in the corner of her office, looking at their watches.

Their boss is due to meet with the Governor-General to get royal assent for the Australian Building and Construction Bill which passed Parliament the night before. But she’s high on victory, waxing lyrical about the benefits the bill.

The two young men are more resigned than perturbed. When Hurricane Michaelia is spinning there’s no stopping her.

You could forgive Cash for being exhausted on the last sitting day of the year. “You do end up doing 18 hour days quite easily seven days a week,” she says of her recent weeks negotiating to get the government’s double dissolution trigger bills passed through the Senate.

Instead she’s wide-eyed, ebullient, buzzing with a caffeinated energy that’s equal parts intoxicating and exhausting. With her trademark theatrical hand gestures and exaggerated pronunciation, she’s a lip reader’s dream.

“She’s a ball of energy,” Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm says.

“She’s always very upbeat, always got a positive outlook,” one frontbench colleague says.

“She works her arse off.”

A government source who has worked closely with her says: “She’s a superstar.”

Elected as a Senator for Western Australia in 2007, the former Freehills lawyer sits on the conservative side of the Liberal Party’s broad church. After becoming a Malcolm Turnbull supporter late in the piece, his victory saw her shoot into cabinet as Minister for Workplace Relations and Employment. Unlike some of her accident-prone colleagues, Cash has earned respect for notching up a set of legislative victories.

When the Turnbull government emerged from the July election with a shrunken majority in the House of Representatives and a bloated crossbench, the decision to go to a double dissolution trigger seemed a disaster. Many assumed the chances of passing the ABCC and Registered Organisations bills – both rejected twice by the previous Parliament – were as good as dead.

Did Cash?

“No absolutely not,” she says. “I knew what I needed to do.”

Besides her computer sits a plaque, a replica of the one that sat on Ronald Reagan’s desk throughout his presidency. “It can be done,” it reads.

Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher is another hero.

But while the Senator from Western Australia isn’t for turning, she is for negotiating.

Following the election, Cash flew around the country to meet with crossbenchers on their home turf to discuss what they needed to support the bills.

“That’s what you do when you’re negotiating – you show people the respect that is due to them,” she says.

“I never have an issue leaving the blue carpet [of the ministerial wing] ever. Ever! That’s my style; that’s my personality.”

Contrasting her approach to that of Tony Abbott and previous employment minister Eric Abetz, Leyonhjelm says: “There was a much more enthusiastic approach to negotiation.”

Cash gave a lot away to get the bills passed – from new community forums for the ABC and SBS boards to new “buy Australian” procurement requirements. The ABCC’s coercive powers have been softened and a two year transition period for existing contracts will slow its impact.

One conservative commentator described the final bill as an “appalling mishmash of inconsistent and unworkable provisions” that makes it all but worthless.

Cash insists she isn’t fazed by the bad reviews. “The reality is we don’t have the numbers in the Senate,” she says. She had to negotiate to get the job done.

The passage of the bills follows her previous success scrapping Labor’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal and passing new laws in support of Victorian Country Fire Authority volunteers.

Had Cash failed on the double dissolution bills, it would have been an embarrassing end to a difficult year for the Turnbull government. Now it enters 2017 with a sense of cautious optimism.

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‘Putting a fence around it is putting a noose around it’: Architects slam Parliament House security upgrade

A security guard patrols the lawns at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares The lawns at Parliament House Photo: Andrew Meares
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Australia’s most celebrated architect, Glenn Murcutt, has slammed forthcoming changes to Parliament House that will block public access to the building’s famed grassy slopes, labelling the security upgrade a knee-jerk reaction.

The Pritzker prize winner said the erection of a 2.6-metre fence around Parliament’s perimeter would betray the intentions of architect Romaldo Giurgola, whose design ensured the public could walk above their representatives.

“It’s really a knee-jerk reaction. We’re getting like a gated community: very American style. From an architectural point of view, I think it’s terrible. It should not even be considered as an option,” Mr Murcutt said.

“Romaldo Giurgola designed this building so that you had very good access to the people – so it expressed freedom, it didn’t in any way express exclusivity. Putting a fence around it is putting a noose around it.”

The proposal was endorsed by the Senate with the opposition’s support on Thursday and work was expected to begin over the summer. In addition to the new fence, existing fences further up the hill will be made taller and 38 extra CCTV cameras will be installed.

Blueprints were being kept under wraps, with MPs briefed face-to-face by the Presiding Officers but denied any documents that could be leaked.

Mr Giurgola died in May and his moral rights to the building are now held in part by architect Pamille Berg. She echoed Speaker Tony Smith’s assessment that “these security changes will obviously have a serious impact on the original design intent of Parliament House”.

But Ms Berg conceded security needs had changed and there was a “difficult ongoing balance” between security and accessibility.

Security experts expressed scepticism about the changes, particularly the fences that would prevent people from walking up the grassy slopes to the top of the building.

Neil Fergus, CEO of the firm Intelligent Risks, which has advised governments and event organisers around the world, said federal Parliament security had tended to suffer from being piecemeal rather than holistic and integrated.

“They shouldn’t be making knee-jerk decisions. They need to do a proper security risk assessment. Everything you do affects somewhere else. When you go out and do something that isn’t properly thought through … you can actually create more security gaps than fixes,” Mr Fergus said.

“I think it has been a problem since the new Parliament House opened. There have been fixes done on fixes incrementally over years.”

Nick O’Brien, a former British counter-terrorism policeman now at Charles Sturt University, said fencing off the slopes around Parliament seemed to be “more about stopping civil protests than terrorism”.

John Coyne, a former federal policeman now with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said fencing off the slopes was “a bit strange”. While stressing the Australian Federal Police and ASIO may have identified specific intelligence that warranted fences, he said it was “very difficult to see a clear cause and effect”.

“What would not allowing people on that grassy hill do? Putting someone on the side of a grassy hill is not going to give you any additional capability to attack someone.”

Other architects who spoke to Fairfax Media on Thursday were universally scathing about the details that had been released.

Canberra architect Rodney Moss said Parliament House was falling victim to “security bracket creep”. “To add layers and layers of security to the building will compromise the design intent that we all thought was so fantastic,” he said.

“It becomes fortress Australia, which is the complete opposite to the way the building was envisaged.” Mr Moss said other iconic buildings such as the Taj Mahal or the White House put perimeter security “a long way out from the buildings”.

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Pollution emission cap put on cruise ships in Sydney Harbour

Harbourfront suburbs will breathe easier after the Turnbull Government agreed to revive restrictions on the sulphur content of fuels used by cruise ships at dock in Sydney Harbour.
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Balmain residents living close to the White Bay cruise ship terminal have long been concerned about harmful emissions from the 90,000-plus-tonne vessels that berth in the harbour.

The Baird Government had responded to the community campaign and enforced the use of low-sulphur fuel inside the harbour but a federal-state jurisdictional issue rendered the NSW law inoperative in June.

While the state had insisted on sulphur content of no more than 0.1 per cent of the tank, federal laws mandate a minimum content of 3.5 per cent.

On Thursday, federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said he had instructed the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to direct a 0.1 per cent upper limit for fuel-oil sulphur content under the Navigation Act.

Some cruise-line companies have complained that low-sulphur fuel costs $250-a-tonne more than heavier fuels and would impact on business but Mr Chester said two major operators, Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean, the two major users of White Bay, were already voluntarily complying.

In May, it was reported that Carnival had been hit with a $15,000 fine by the NSW Environment Protection Authority when its ship, the Pacific Jewel, was found to be in breach.

Mr Chester said: “Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s most recognised landscapes and hosts a large number of cruise ships every year. They bring thousands of tourists who enjoy our world-class harbour, spend money at local businesses and eat at our great restaurants during their stay.

“We welcome these valuable visitors, but we also need to regulate the presence of cruise ships to ensure we retain a healthy working harbour. I’ve heard the concerns of local residents living close to the White Bay cruise ship terminal.”

Shadow infrastructure and transport spokesman Anthony Albanese, whose redrawn seat of Grayndler includes affected Balmain residents, lobbied the government for the change.

“This order will achieve the precise protection the NSW Government had previously sought to enact for berthed ships,” he said.

Mr Albanese said he would now fight to force the state government to provide shore to ship power to preclude ships having to burn fuel in dock.

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