Monthly Archives: September 2019

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Keep off the grass: Parliament House fence is unfortunate but unfortunately we need it

A security guard patrols the lawns at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares The lawns at Parliament House. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The lawns at Parliament House Photo: Andrew Meares

Word burnt into the lawns of Parliament House in July. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Believe it or not, federal parliamentarians have little choice but to enact new security arrangements.

Few relish additional restrictions on public access to the parliament.

But how should leaders respond when security agencies warn that the national parliament (a) is a high value target for terrorists, and (b) remains dangerously vulnerable to attack?

With over 3000 permanent occupants and countless public visitors (around 100,000 school children visit the building annually), on top of the 226 politicians during sitting weeks, this is not simply a question of personal choice for MPs, but one of public safety.

The terrorist threat however, is no excuse for undue secrecy – despite it so often being used as such.

Denial of access to digital imaging of the proposed new fences and checkpoints etc on security grounds only raises suspicion and invites objection.

It is an unfortunate reality that the march of security measures tends to move in one direction only.

Yet in hindsight, given the brutal shock of September 2001 and many atrocities around the world since, Canberra’s parliamentarians have been surprisingly reluctant to materially crimp public interaction around the national legislature.

Restrictions have come in increments, most being low profile, low impact.

This openness is admirable from an egalitarian standpoint, but could be viewed as criminal neglect following an attack, once it emerged that authorities had ignored repeated expert advice to improve security.

This right here, shows the oil and water relationship between the soaring ethos of representative democracy, and the crushing reality of modern terrorism.

And the Federal Parliament is its perfect embodiment: a legislature of the people, drawing its authority from the people, but now, increasingly, having to be walled off from those people.

Even the architecture highlights these incompatible realities.

Parliament House was designed specifically to allow Australians to walk over the heads of their representatives.

Its signature lawns represented the land itself sweeping up to the flag and yet over the politicians, reminding them daily that they serve the people rather than the other way around.

Kids roll down and joggers scale its slopes as the final gut-busting sprint to the upper barriers – the roof itself having been closed from external access since 2005.

Free access to these public lawns made a certain poetic sense in 1988. Less so now where fanatics view murderous rage as an end in itself and see their own deaths as central to the mission.

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Five ways the OPEC oil deal affects you

A $US60 a barrel oil price would add about 10¢ per litre to petrol. Photo: Patrick Cummins The OPEC deal has lit a fire under energy stocks. Photo: Fairfax
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Saudi Arabia’s resources minister Khalid Al-Falih talking to journalists before OPEC’s meeting in Vienna overnight. Photo: Ronald Zak

Oil prices have surged overnight as the international cartel of oil-producing countries, OPEC, agreed to cut production for the first time in eight years.

The deal, which also involves non-member Russia and exempts members Iran, Libya and Nigeria, will see output reduced by 1.8 million barrels per day over six months.

The increased price of oil is expected to have worldwide ramifications, and Australian consumers should expect to pay once local prices catch up with oil prices.

Here are five ways OPEC’s decision will affect you.  Bad news for gas guzzlers 

“The days of super cheap prices are over,” said CommSec Chief Economist Craig James.

While record-low petrol prices at the bowser might stay put for the time being, motorists should expect to be hit hard over the coming months as consumer prices catch up with the price of oil.

If prices continue towards $US60 per barrel, consumers should expect to see a roughly 10¢ per litre increase, Mr James said.  Flying high  

Travellers can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to airlines hedging against short-term movements in oil prices.

It would take sustained price hikes over the coming months for airfares to be affected but it is too early to tell is this will eventuate, Mr James said.

Additionally, airlines will have a delayed reaction to any price hikes thanks to insulating measures, so only time will tell if airfares are set to increase.

However, Qantas was one the worst performing stocks on the Australian share market on Thursday morning, falling 3.6 per cent in early trade.  Inflation 

An increase in oil prices will only compound the inflammatory effects of a rise in iron ore and coal prices, as well as stronger growth in the US, China and India.

“Clearly this is what a number of central banks wanted anyway,” Mr James said.

“It’s hardly a negative development at the moment, which is very much an improvement from continuing to worry about deflation or disinflation.” The Aussie Dollar

While oil prices can affect the Aussie dollar, it’s more at the mercy of the US Federal Reserve, which will decide on an interest rate hike in the coming fortnight.

“That’s the one thing that certainly motorists and transport operators in Australia need to watch out for,” said Mr James.

“A double-whammy that the oil prices continue to push their way higher but the Australian dollar goes lower, and if you have both those developments, clearly there’s more of an impact in terms of the cost of fuel here in Australia.” OPEC deal could boost Aust petrol prices by ~5c/litre..but impact limited as don’t see a lot of upside to world oil price… pic.twitter苏州美甲培训/5G9C05HNjG— Shane Oliver (@ShaneOliverAMP) November 30, 2016Fuel for the share market 

Energy stocks have had a strong rally worldwide thanks to news of the OPEC agreement, including on the ASX.

Santos opened up 10.7 per cent, with Oil Search rallying 7.6 per cent and Woodside also up 6.5 per cent. BHP Billiton, which has a diverse portfolio including petroleum, will also rally off the back of increased oil prices, analysts said.

The questions now is how high oil prices actually go. Especially since shale oil producers in the US will likely restart some of their rigs if the West Texas Intermediate stays above $US50 a barrel, according to OANDA Australia and Asia Pacific senior market analyst Jeffery Halley.

“Going forward oil will most likely struggle to sustain a $55/60 range,” he said.

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Prime public housing estates to include private units

Prime real estate in the old low-rise public housing tenements in some of Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs will be opened up to the private market as part of a massive redevelopment of social housing.
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Public housing properties in highly sought-after spots including Prahran, Clifton Hill, Brighton, Brunswick, Northcote and Hawthorn will be upgraded as part of the Andrews government’s $185 million plan.

The government has promised to increase social housing by at least 10 per cent on 1100 properties across nine sites, which are mostly four-storey developments that have become dilapidated.

But private units will be included in the rebuild, the government has confirmed.

Demand for social housing has boomed in recent years as Melbourne’s rents skyrocket.

The waiting list for social housing exceeded 55,000 for the September quarter of this year.

Housing Minister Martin Foley said including private units on current public estates would be an important part of expanding the number of social housing dwellings.

“We have to look to capture the value of our land,” he said. “These are very valuable assets and we will leverage that value to maintain that public housing component.”

Mr Foley said many public housing estates were ideally located, close to public transport and schools.

He said mixed communities would also break down the cycles of disadvantage by encouraging relationships between low-income residents and their neighbours buying into the private properties onsite.

Mr Foley said the low-rise estates, known as “walk-ups”, urgently needed upgrading.

“They are more expensive to maintain, as bad as they are, than to start again.”

It is not yet clear how many private units will be built on current public housing estates.

Work is expected to start in 2018 on the first of the redevelopments after planning and consultation with residents.

Victorian Public Tenants Association described the walk-up flats as “outdated, dilapidated and obsolete”. It said the walk-ups built with concrete panels were incredibly hot in summer and cold in winter.

The association’s spokesman Raoul Wainwright said the public housing sector had endured two decades of “sustained underinvestment”.

He said tenants who paid rent for older, crumbling walk-up flats were not getting value for money.

The government has also identified 52 vacant parcels of land that will be used to build almost 100 new public housing properties. The properties are in 13 suburbs in the west, including Altona, Braybrook, Maidstone and Norlane.

The government has committed $60 million to increasing public housing on land currently owned by the Director of Housing.

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Offering students more opportunities

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Applications are now open for the Saint Peter’s College Scholarship program for the 2018 schooling year.

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Unique to Saint Peter’s College for 2018 is the addition of new scholarships.

These include the Saint Peter’s College foundation scholarship for year 10, the David Docwra scholarship for year 10 and the elix advantage scholarship for year 10.

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Prince Alfred CollegeSacred Heart CollegeSeymour CollegeSaint Peter’s CollegetafeSAUniversity of South AustraliaWestminster SchoolWalford Anglican School for GirlsThese new scholarships enable a student, whose family might otherwise not have the financial means, to consider an education at Saint Peter’s College.

The scholarships will open new doors to individuals and help set themselves up for life after school.

They are funded by donations, large and small, from the wider school community – those who have witnessed or experienced the lifelong benefits of a Saints’ education.

Scholarship applications will close in late January 2017, or early February, dependent on the scholarship category.​

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Take a chance to join us at PrincesSeymour offers the international styleProviding access to more selectionBright 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 苏州美甲培训.

Wall Street wins again as Trump picks bankers, billionaires

Goldman Sachs – once famously dubbed the “great vampire squid” by Rolling Stone magazine for “jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” – would have its third alumnus in the Treasury with Mnuchin. Photo: Michael NagleHedge fund manager Whitney Tilson was feeling happy Wednesday morning.
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After Donald Trump ridiculed Wall Street on the campaign trail, the President-elect tapped former Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin to be his Treasury secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross to lead the Commerce Department. Trump even met with Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn inside Trump Tower.

It would suit Tilson just fine if voters who backed Trump because he promised to rein in Wall Street are furious now that he’s surrounding himself with bankers and billionaires.

“I can take glee in that — I think Donald Trump conned them,” said Tilson, who runs Kase Capital Management. “I worried that he was going to do crazy things that would blow the system up. So the fact that he’s appointing people from within the system is a good thing.” Goldman alumni

When Mnuchin is sworn in as Treasury secretary, he’ll be the third Goldman Sachs alumnus in three decades to get the job. As Trump switches from using Wall Street as a punching bag to a farm team, bank stocks are roaring and executives and investors are sighing with relief. They’re not too worried about fury from Trump’s voters.

“Some say that those who elected him may be disappointed in some way,” said Scott Bok, who heads boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co. “But I think all those people want is a stronger economy. If tax cuts and infrastructure spending get them that, I think they’ll be happy.”

Mnuchin, 53, the son of a Goldman Sachs partner, thrived at the institutions Trump mocked during the campaign. He was tapped into the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale, joined the bank and became a top executive, ran a hedge fund and invested in Hollywood blockbusters. When he saw TV news shots of customers lined up outside a branch of California bank IndyMac trying to pull their money in 2008, he spotted an opportunity.

“I’ve seen this game before,” he recalled saying in an interview earlier this year. “This bank is going to end up failing, and we need to figure out how to buy it.”

Mnuchin gathered billionaires including George Soros and John Paulson and assembled a $US1.6 billion bid to buy IndyMac. They rebranded it OneWest and sold the bank in August 2015 for $US3.4 billion.

It carried out more than 36,000 foreclosures during Mnuchin’s reign, according to the nonprofit California Reinvestment Coalition, which accused OneWest of shoddy foreclosure practices and avoiding business in largely black or Latino neighbourhoods, claims the bank has denied. ‘Mission accomplished’

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who leads the Financial Services Roundtable, a bank lobbying group, thinks any rage over Mnuchin’s pedigree will fade if he does his job well. “If those results are really good for everyday Americans, it will be ‘mission accomplished'” Pawlenty said. “The public’s focus will soon shift.”

On Wednesday morning, as a former Goldman Sachs executive was getting into his car in the suburbs to drive into New York, he said he was relieved by the Mnuchin news. The executive, who asked for anonymity to talk politics, brushed aside a question about populist fury over Trump’s Wall Street picks by saying a blue-collar high school graduate wouldn’t belong at the head of the Treasury Department.

Shares of all the big Wall Street firms climbed on Wednesday, with Goldman Sachs rising 3.6 per cent, the best performance in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Bank bashing

Another former Goldman Sachs banker, SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci, is said by analysts to be under consideration for a job as a top Treasury deputy. He’s well known for once asking President Barack Obama when he’d stop bashing Wall Street. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, worked at Goldman Sachs, too.

Tilson, who was relieved Trump picked an industry veteran instead of a wildcard, still has concerns, especially because Trump promised to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act of Wall Street regulation, enacted after the financial crisis almost toppled the global economy.

“I’m a fan of Dodd-Frank, I think banking should be boring,” said Tilson, who voted for Hillary Clinton. “I worry about Wall Street returning to being a casino.”

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts,  is worried, too.

“Mnuchin is the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis — he managed to participate in all the worst practices on Wall Street,” the Democrat said in a statement. “His selection as Treasury secretary should send shivers down the spine of every American who got hit hard by the financial crisis.”

Bloomberg

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