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Comment: Just my five cents

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

Imagine if you walked into your local bank, handed them a five cent piece and asked, “Can I have ten cents for this?” And then the teller said, “Yes.

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Well, that’s the world of commerce our friends across the Pacific pond are used to. And soon, we might have to accept the same sort of illogic here in Australia.

In the 2012 fiscal year The Unites States Mint produced and distributed just over 1 billion US five cent pieces, worth a total of US$50 million. But they spent more than US$100 million to produce them! That’s more than US$50 million in losses. And all simply to subsidise the irritating existence of bacteria-ridden disks that you’d be surprised to find someone bothering to pick up off a New York City sidewalk.

Granted, the price of copper and nickel – the main constituents of the US five cent piece – have since lowered slightly, so the same loss might not be incurred today. But since the early 2000’s the price of copper, which also makes up 75% of all silver coins and 92% of all gold coins in Australia, has more than tripled. Compound this with inflation and the increasing costs of energy consumption required by manufacturing and distribution, and it’s no wonder it was reported in 2009 and 2011 by The Sydney Morning Herald that there were plans to scrap our echidna-bearing shrapnel forever.

The real cost to society could be in lost productivity costs, though. Think of all the times you’ve fumbled around for exact change and how the poor soul who has to count them at the end of the day must wish they were elsewhere. The US one cent piece – which is bafflingly still produced – is estimated to cost the US economy US$1 billion in lost productivity annually.

Even if they were affordable to produce or money was no object, for something which is meant to grease the wheels of commerce, the five cent piece really underperforms. Anyone would be rightly shocked to find even a single item in their local supermarket that costs five cents or less. Parking meters don’t take them, vending machines know better and even the infamous Melbourne Myki system can spot such indisputable inefficiency when it sees it.

The truth is that there are even laws to limit how many five cent pieces you can use in an individual transaction. The Currency Act 1965 (section 16) prohibits anyone from ruining the day of a store clerk beyond $5 worth of five cent pieces; any more it’s not considered legal tender. And rightly so, too – that’s 100 five cent pieces!

Our Kiwi cousins scrapped their five cent piece in 2006 after realising what a nuisance they were. Why can’t we do the same? It might not be a sexy topic or have catchy three-word-slogans like ‘Five Cent Wastage’ and ‘Coinage Reform Now’, but couldn’t we afford to be pragmatic for once? In fact, given the economy, how can we afford not to be?

Tom Burns is a blogger, vlogger and self-confessed political junkie.

Abbott cites exuberance in latest gaffe

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott admits he was “a bit exuberant” when referring to the sex appeal of a female Liberal candidate.

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Social network contributors and Labor pounced on Mr Abbott’s gaffe on Tuesday during a visit to the key marginal seat of Lindsay in western Sydney.

Standing between his daughter Frances and local Liberal candidate Fiona Scott, he was asked how the latter compared with her coalition predecessor Jackie Kelly.

“They’re young, they’re feisty and I think I can probably say have a bit of sex appeal,” he told reporters.

Leaving his daughter wincing, Mr Abbott was later forced to explain himself.

He said Ms Scott was a smart, hardworking woman with whom he was proud to be associated.

“I was a bit exuberant today … but we’re all working incredibly hard to get her elected,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday night.

But by the time Mr Abbott tried to explain himself, a backlash was underway against the man who has a record of gaffs about the role of women.

“He’s pathetic, he really is pathetic,” Labor minister Kim Carr told the ABC of Mr Abbott’s words.

“Sometimes we should think Tony Abbott really hasn’t crawled out of the 1950s.”

The coalition camp worked to brush off the remark.

“It was just a light-hearted comment, which I’m sure was not meant with any offence,” Opposition assistant treasury spokesman Mathias Corman told Sky News.

Coalition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the comment was made in “jest” and talked up Mr Abbott’s deep respect for women, including his professional wife Margie, three daughters, and sister.

However Twitter exploded with opinion on the subject, much of it criticising Mr Abbott.

“So @TonyAbbottMHR thinks a woman candidate is vote-worthy if she has #sexappeal ? #mysogynist” posted one person.

The Twitter account for NSW Labor also weighed in: “On September 7 we should vote for candidates based on #policyappeal not #sexappeal”.

In an odd show of support, NSW Liberal minister Pru Goward, a former sex discrimination commissioner, said she sees nothing wrong with highlighting a candidate’s sex appeal.

“I think a lot of politicians are described as sexy,” she told Macquarie Radio.

The clanger comes a day after Mr Abbott’s incorrect use of the word “suppository” during a press conference attracted widespread publicity.

Tuesday’s comment risks overshadowing the coalition’s efforts in Lindsay, a seat currently held by Labor’s David Bradbury by a 1.1 per cent margin.

Mr Abbott also used the visit to announce that a coalition government will provide $12 million for a sport and community centre at Penrith.

Hird wants Demetriou blocked from panel

Written on January 12, 2019 at 00:45, by

James Hird claims in a writ that the AFL urged Essendon to call for an investigation into their 2012 supplements program because it would look better for the club.

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Essendon coach Hird’s lawyers lodged a writ in the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to have AFL charges against him heard by an independent tribunal, not the AFL Commission.

It also seeks to have AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and any AFL commissioner who has been given access to the ASADA interim report on the on-going investigation into the Bombers to be banned from future hearings.

In court documents Hird details a phone call from Demetriou to then-Essendon chairman David Evans on February 4 which allegedly alerted the Bombers to investigations into drug use at the club in 2012.

“Evans said that Demetriou said words to the effect that Essendon players had been taking performance-enhancing drugs,” Hird’s writ alleges.

“Evans communicated the tip off to Hird and other Essendon officials including Danny Corcoran and Ian Robson (then-Essendon chief executive).”

Hird says the following day Robson, Essendon media adviser Justin Rodski and Hird attended a meeting at AFL House.

AFL deputy chief Gillon McLachlan told the Bombers they should come forward to the AFL and ask for an investigation, Hird alleges.

“If you come forward earlier and invite ASADA to investigate, then the investigation will look better for you,” Hird claims McLachlan told Essendon’s officials.

“Hird told McLachlan, as was the fact, that Essendon had not used PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs).

“On February 5 2013, Hird, Robson and Evans gave a press conference at the urging of McLachlan and the defendant (AFL).”

Essendon announced they were reporting to ASADA and the AFL about their 2012 supplements program.

Essendon, Hird and three other Bombers officials have been charged by the AFL with bringing the league into disrepute over Essendon’s supplements scandal since the AFL received an interim report from ASADA on its investigation.

Hird says he’s been denied natural justice by the AFL.

On Wednesday, eight days after the AFL announced it had laid the charges, Demetriou went ahead with the league’s stated intention to release the details of the charges in a 34-page document.

Hird is also hoping to stop the charges being heard until he has been given “proper particulars” of the charges against him and a list of the witnesses the AFL plans to call and the evidence they will give.

Hird wants the AFL to deliver the particulars by September 16 and the witness list by September 30.

Hird’s writ claims the AFL provided copies of ASADA’s interim report to “unknown members of the press including Fairfax Media”.

The AFL’s 34-page statement of grounds “includes allegations against Hird which Hird was given no opportunity to answer during the alleged joint investigation.”

Hird says with two rounds remaining before the AFL finals he fears he won’t be able to meet his coaching commitments fully and he is seeking damages for “interference with contractual relations” and court costs.

Historic doubles for Farah, Fraser-Pryce

Written on May 11, 2019 at 20:57, by

Superstar duo Mo Farah and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce completed historic track doubles at the world athletics championships in Moscow on Friday night.

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Farah went to the front for the final time with 650 metres to go in the 5000m, kicked three times and was never headed.

He joined Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele as the only male athlete to win the men’s 5000-10,000m double at the same world championships.

Starting with the 5000m two years ago at the world titles in Daegu, he has won five straight world and Olympic golds over 5000m and 10,000m.

And all this from a runner who was little more than a journeyman until his late 20s, when he moved to the United States to join forces with coach Alberto Salazar.

Farah ran a 53.5-second last lap on Friday in a winning time of 13 minutes 26.98 seconds, with minor medallists Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia and Kenyan Isiah Koech both timed at 13:27.26.

“The double was definitely tougher than the Olympic one because last year nobody knew what I was capable of. Today was indeed one of the most important days in my career, but I’m the same old guy,” said Farah.

He revealed he overcame a crippling early stitch to defend his world 5000m title.

“Early in the race, I had a big stitch so I was hoping the pace wouldn’t go as fast and it didn’t. It all went well and I just tried to stay out of trouble.

“I was a lot more heavy than the other guys because they didn’t run the 10,000m.

“I thought the race would have gone harder, thinking the guys were thinking ‘he’s already done 25 laps around the track plus the heats for the 5000m’, but it didn’t.”

Fraser-Pryce’s path to victory was made much clearer when three-time world champ Allyson Felix collapsed to the track midway around the bend clutching her right hamstring.

The American was carried from the arena by her brother Wes.

Fraser-Pryce continued Jamaica’s sprint dominance in Moscow, clocking a winning time of 22.17 and becoming the first woman since East Germany’s Katrin Krabbe in 1991 to do the sprint double at world level.

Only one year after her 1991 double triumph, Krabbe’s career was in tatters when she was suspended for three years after testing positive to clenbuterol.

Murielle Ahoure from the Ivory Coast was second on Friday night, with the bronze going to Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, although both were credited with the same time of 22.32.

“This win took a lot of sacrifice, hard work and commitment,” said Fraser-Pryce.

“I used to hate the 200m but now I know whatever I put my mind to I can accomplish.

“It is very unfortunate what happened to Felix, really sad, and I hope she will recover soon,” added Fraser-Pryce.

Russian Aleksandr Menkov was a popular and highly deserving winner of the men’s long jump.

Any of Menkov’s best three leaps would have been good enough to win gold in Moscow or at last year’s London Olympics – with his best effort a national record of 8.56m in the second last round.

The minor medals went to Ignisious Gaisah of the Netherlands (8.29m) and Mexican Luis Rivera (8.27m).

The other individual gold medals decided on the seventh night of the championships went to Germany’s David Storl in the men’s shot put and Tatyana Lysenko from Russia in the women’s hammer throw.

Mickle gets silver in women’s javelin

Written on May 11, 2019 at 20:57, by

Australian Kim Mickle has produced the greatest competition of her life to claim the silver medal in the women’s javelin at the world athletics championships.

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Mickle threw two personal bests in Sunday’s final – having also done so once in the qualifying rounds two days ago.

Her final throw of 66.60m was the second biggest of the competition, behind only the 69.05m gold-medal effort from Germany’s Christina Obergfoll in the second round.

The bronze went to reigning Olympic champion Maria Abakumova from Russia with 65.09m.

Australian Kathryn Mitchell also performed well, finishing fifth with a season’s best of 63.77m.

Mickle, 28, had vowed to produced her “boom tactic” of throwing the javelin as far as she could without thinking about it in the final and was true to her word.

Four of the West Australian’s six throws were over the 64m mark, with the 66.60m and 66.25m efforts the best two of her career.

Mickle had also smashed her previous best with a 65.73m heave in the qualifiers.

It was the second medal won by Australia in the women’s javelin at a world championships, matching the silver by Joanna Stone in Athens in 1997.

Obergfoll claimed a long-awaited first major gold.

She had previously won silver and bronze at the Olympics and been the runner-up at the 2005 and 2007 world championships.

Bronze medallist Abakumova is married to fellow Russian thrower Dmitri Tarabin, who received his javelin bronze medal in a ceremony held midway through the women’s competition.

Mickle’s last-day heroics ensured Australia finished the 2013 world championships with three medals – the others being a silver to Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles and bronze to Jared Tallent in the 50km walk.

The only other Australians in action on day nine were the men’s 4x100m relay team.

They made a hash of the second change in the heats, when Josh Ross was unable to get the baton cleanly to Andrew McCabe.

Mickle said Sunday’s final was the most fun and the scariest thing she had done in her life — all at the same time.

“The boom tactic came out,” she said.

“It was always going to be a hit or miss sort of thing.

“The Russian (crowd) all got behind me on that last throw and I boomed the hell out of it.

“I almost got my Aussie record – I’ll get that next year.”

The silver medal was redemption for Mickle’s flop at last year’s London Olympics, when she bowed out in the qualifying round.

“It keeps popping into my mind how devastating last year was and how it’s flipped completely,” she said.

“It shows that rather than letting it get you down in the dumps, you use it as fuel.

“That’s what I’ve done this year and it’s got me a silver medal.

“My first throw was not very great so I tried to have another feeler and then activate the old boom.”

Iran’s Rowhani urges serious nuclear talks

Written on May 11, 2019 at 20:57, by

President Hassan Rowhani says Iran is ready for “serious” negotiations on its nuclear program with the major powers.

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“We are the people of interaction and talks, with seriousness and without wasting time, if the other sides are ready,” he said on Tuesday at his first news conference since assuming office on Saturday.

“Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is a national issue… we will not give up the rights of the Iranian people,” he said.

“We will preserve our rights based on the international regulations,” he added, in reference to Iran’s insistence that it has the right to peaceful use of nuclear power as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“As the president of the Islamic republic, I am announcing that there is political will to solve this issue and also take into consideration the concerns of the other sides.”

Rowhani hit out a call by 76 US senators for tougher sanctions from Washington even as he took office with a call for constructive engagement.

He said Friday’s letter from the US lawmakers to President Barack Obama showed a lack of understanding of Iranian politics.

“Recent declarations from the the White House show that some US officials do not have a correct and realistic assessment of the situation here and the message that the Iranian people gave in the election,” Rowhani said.

“They are still sending contradictory messages,” he said, adding: “We care about the US response in deeds, not in words.”

On Sunday, the White House said Iran would find the United States a “willing partner” if Rowhani is prepared to engage substantively and seriously on its nuclear program.

In a message congratulating Rowhani on his inauguration, the White House said it “presents an opportunity for Iran to act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program”.

Poll shows Labor’s asylum policy is winning votes

Written on May 11, 2019 at 20:57, by

The government’s new asylum seeker deal with Papua New Guinea appears to be gaining support from voters, according to poll results published today.

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But tell that to vocal campaigners, who were out in force again today opposing the move.

Hundreds marched through central Sydney lambasting the government over its hardline Papua New Guinea settlement deal, as immigration confirmed a fifth group of asylum seekers has been sent there.

“I oppose quite strongly both of their approaches to immigrations, to so called illegal immigrants,” one protester told SBS.

“I’d like to see a much more compassionated or humanitarian approach.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues to defend the airing of Labor’s new asylum advertisements during the campaign.

“Paying a people smuggler is not a ticket to Australia, the rules have now changed,” he says.

But Australia’s not the only country clamping down on illegal immigration.

The British government has just launched a poster campaign, telling illegal immigrants to go home or face arrest.

“I think it is a fantastic idea. We need to clean up the mess because it is creating a lot of problems here,” one man says.

“Maybe that isn’t the way to do it but everybody has to abide by the law in the UK,” says a woman.

But despite the protests, crackdowns on illegal immigration are proving to be a vote winners in many western countries.

A Fairfax-Neilson poll out today shows Labor’s new get tough asylum policy is resonating with the Australian public. The gap between Labor and the Coalition on the asylum issue has narrowed to just 8 points.

Right now, Labor and the Coalition are out to see whose message resonates on election day.

Newspaper apologises to Abbott accuser

Written on May 11, 2019 at 20:57, by

The Australian newspaper has apologised to a former student politician over suggestions she lied when she said Opposition Leader Tony Abbott punched a wall near her head when they were at Sydney University.

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Barbara Ramjan had taken defamation against the newspaper for publishing comments by Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger last September.

In an article in The Quarterly Essay published last September, Ms Ramjan was quoted as saying Mr Abbott “came up to within an inch of my nose and punched the wall on either side of my head” after she defeated him for the presidency of the Sydney University Students’ Representative Council in 1977.

Mr Abbott has denied the incident ever happened.

Ms Ramjan sued Mr Kroger and The Australian over claims she was a “serial manufacturer of false complaints”.

The defamation action related to comments made by Mr Kroger on the Bolt Report on Network Ten on September 23 last year and an article in The Australian the following day.

In a statement read out the NSW Supreme Court on Monday, The Australian apologised to Ms Ramjan for any suggestion she had lied.

“An article published in September 24, 2012, concerned allegations by Michael Kroger about Barbara Ramjan’s conduct in student politics in 1977 and 1978, and that of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott,” the Australian said in its statement.

“The Australian apologises to Ms Ramjan for any suggestion that she lied about those events and acknowledges that the recollection of those events was contested by all participants, who were sincere in what they recalled.

“The Australian did not intend to suggest that one account should prevail over another,” it said.

AFL’s Bombers prepare for pain to continue

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Essendon have expressed frustration that the interim nature of the ASADA report into the AFL club means the Bombers don’t know when their pain will end.

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AFL officials are reviewing the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s 400-page findings handed to them last Friday.

The league hopes to determine any sanctions against Essendon before the finals.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou on Wednesday described as “offensive” the suggestion by Essendon great Tim Watson that the AFL had already decided to punish the Bombers.

But new Bombers chairman Paul Little said the fact that ASADA’s evidence had been compiled only into an interim report and the investigation remained ongoing meant that the end was not necessarily in sight.

“From our point of view part of the frustration that is now brought to the table with the interim nature of the report is that we don’t know what other work is required, how long that may take and of course the pain goes on for the club,” Little said.

His comment came in an excerpt from an interview to air on Fox Footy’s The Hangar program on Wednesday night.

The saga has already claimed the Bombers’ former chief executive Ian Robson and chairman David Evans.

And assistant coach Mark Thompson gave another glimpse on Monday night into the toll it’s taking, admitting it had caused internal fighting and had distracted players leading into Sunday’s big loss to Collingwood.

The Bombers received the report on Sunday.

Demetriou returned from the United States on Wednesday and immediately hit out at Watson, father of Bombers captain Jobe, for claiming the AFL had been conditioning the public to expect the club to be stripped of premiership points.

“To suggest that the AFL commission would somehow predetermine an outcome is just offensive and it’s completely wrong,” Demetriou told reporters.

The AFL boss said the league’s general counsel Andrew Dillon would guide the commission through their response to ASADA’s findings.

The commission is scheduled to meet next Monday. Demetriou wouldn’t say whether they might gather earlier to speed up the decision-making process.

He was unsure whether they would reach a resolution before finals begin on September 6.

“We’re hoping (to) with the best intent,” he said.

“I think it would be appropriate if we could, but if we can’t it will be what it will be.”

Fairfax newspapers reported on Wednesday that the ASADA report contains circumstantial evidence that some Essendon players were given banned substances AOD9604 and Thymosin Beta 4 last year under the direction of the club’s former sports scientist Stephen Dank.

But the Bombers’ failure to keep proper records of which players were given particular substances could make it hard to sanction individual players, as opposed to sanctioning the club or its officials, it was reported.

Dank on Wednesday repeated his denials that players took any banned substances during his time at the club.

Mugabe rival withdraws vote challenge

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn a legal challenge to last month’s disputed presidential election which extended rival Robert Mugabe’s rule, his MDC party says, claiming the courts would not be fair.

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This removed the last hurdle to 89-year-old leader Mugabe’s inauguration for a seventh term.

“The prime minister has withdrawn his election petition,” the Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said of Tsvangirai’s decision on Friday.

“The main reason is that this trial was going to be a mockery of justice,” he added. “We have tried to make use of the legal process and it has proved to be impossible.”

Tsvangirai said in an affidavit he had no choice but to withdraw after election organisers blocked key documents needed in the petition.

A lower court on Wednesday stalled his urgent application to force the documents’ release.

“The fact that I still do not have the material means that I cannot meaningfully prosecute my petition,” said Tsvangirai, who served as premier in a unity government with Mugabe following disputed polls in 2008.

“This sadly as far as I am concerned entails that the Zimbabwe situation is far from resolved,” he added, vowing to resolve the political crisis through “democratic means”.

Tsvangirai has rejected the results of the July 31 poll which handed him 34 per cent of the votes cast and declared Mugabe the winner with 61 per cent.

Tsvangirai claims the vote was rigged and has called for fresh elections.

The MDC queried the unusually high numbers of voters turned away at the polling stations, especially in urban areas that are considered opposition strongholds.

In Friday’s affidavit Tsvangirai further accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of being “consistently secretive”, making “a mockery of the neutral role that they must play in these matters.”

The Constitutional Court would have heard arguments on Saturday to decide whether a full trial was necessary.

The withdrawal of the election petition would now pave the way for Mugabe to be inaugurated for another five-year term, extending his 33-year rule.

But Mugabe’s lawyer Fred Gijima said the case would go ahead.

“An election petition is unwithdrawable,” he told AFP.

“They have to appear in court and present their case. They can’t just withdraw after having made such serious allegations.”

Representatives of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party were not available for comment.

MDC spokesman said the swearing-in would now go ahead, but that his MDC would not attend the ceremony.

Mugabe meanwhile blasted Western sanctions again on his arrival for a regional leaders’ summit in Malawi.

“You know what the West is like. They want to think for us, take decisions for us and even direct us as to which way we want to go,” he told journalists.

The 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) will publish its report on Zimbabwe’s polls during this weekend’s summit, according to South African President Jacob Zuma.

Election observers from the regional bloc have said the polls were free, but have not yet commented on the vote’s fairness.

“We were working for the elections to be peaceful, to be free and I think that this has happened,” said Zuma in the Malawian capital Lilongwe.

But the MDC is still taking the fight to the regional bloc which had mediated a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai four years ago.

Why the banks may still lift rates

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Many of them cried poor as higher wholesale funding costs squeezed their margins.

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Just a few months ago ANZ went one step better, explaining the composition of its funding base, detailing how funding costs are rising. It almost seemed like it was preparing us for future out of cycle interest rate moves.

And despite NAB yesterday morning promising to keep its standard variable rate lower than its three major competitors for the rest of this year, experts were warning the banks wouldn’t pass on all of the RBA’s rate cut, if it went that way.

But it didn’t. The Reserve left the official cash rate at 4.25 per cent, so the bank bashing has abated for now.

Or has it?

There seems to be some suggestion that this non-move by the RBA may in fact provoke some of the banks to lift interest rates.

Chris Kimber, Managing Director of Wealth Managements at FatProphets, said that it is possible for the banks to lift interest rates. He says, “If it is true they are not making any profits on recent mortgages they have issued then it has to rise at some stage.”

He adds that the “RBA is playing a game with the banks, not cutting rates as they knew they would not pass it on anyway.”

Stephen Koukoulas, the Managing Director at Market Economics says that its true funding costs have risen and that “there’s an even chance we see one of the banks lifting rates 10bps or so.”

Fitch recently placed Australia’s big four banks on credit watch negative, citing their reliance of overseas funding, and rising funding costs.

Given these costs are rising, despite the official cash rate being steady, simple math would seem to suggest the banks would need to lift their standard variable rates to protect their margins.

But at what cost?

CommSec’s Craig James says that “you can’t rule it out and is a risky thing to do.”

If anyone does move first, it would likely be ANZ. It now announces its interest rate intentions on the second Friday of every month, independent of the RBA.

Shane Oliver, Chief Economist at AMP Capital says there’s only a low risk of the banks lifting interest rates. He told me that risk is “around 15 per cent”. He adds that the RBA still appears to be retaining an easing bias, and that there would be huge negative publicity if they did move, so it would be better to wait and hope the RBA does cut again.

While Peter Esho from City Index thinks it would be very difficult for anybody to move, if one does, “you’d have a lender lifting because they don’t want volume, to reduce risk.”

White Crane Group’s Clifford Bennett reckons the banks will “stay incredibly quiet and don’t think they’ll move at all.”

It’s now up to the banks to see if they make any comments at all about rates.

The Reserve Bank will release more details on Friday with its Statement on Monetary Policy, but even if it doesn’t mention interest rates, we’ll definitely hear from ANZ at the very least, with its new policy to comment on its interest rate direction independent of the central bank.

Scott ready to conquer multiple majors

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

Adam Scott and major championship contention are now tantamount but the Queenslander is ready to make his name synonymous with multiple major winners.

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American Jason Dufner may have stolen most of the limelight in the second round of the PGA Championship with a major championship record equalling 63 but Scott once again sits poised to pounce.

Dufner sits at nine-under par and leads by two over Scott (68), Matt Kuchar (66) and Jim Furyk (69).

US Open champion Justin Rose (66) and British Open runner up Henrik Stenson (66) share fifth at six-under.

Marcus Fraser continued to surprise as the next best Australian with a 69 moving him to four-under and a tie for ninth.

Having finished inside the top 15 in eight of the last 11 majors including a win, two seconds and a third Scott has made a habit of being a focal point of the big ones.

The Masters champion believes he’s in the prime of his career and is determined to make Greg Norman’s prediction about being the most successful Australian golfer of all time a reality.

Peter Thomson leads the way with five British Opens, Norman won two British Opens, while David Graham is the only Australian to win two different majors having won the US Open and PGA Championship.

“I’m very confident with where my game’s at,” Scott said.

“I think the platform has never been better for me to go on and win multiple majors.

“I guess you’ve got to take the confidence and form of winning a major and run with it.

“I’m doing everything I can to make sure that they are (my best years), and I can’t take my foot off the gas just because I achieved something great at Augusta.

“I was hungry before the Masters and I might even have a bigger appetite after it, and it might be greedy, but I feel like this is my time to get everything I want out of my career, and I’m going to keep pushing until I do.

“My game is in great shape. I’ve got to take advantage of it. Otherwise, it’s all a waste.”

Scott would become the first man to win the Masters and PGA Championship in the same year since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 and just the fifth Australian to win the tournament after Jim Ferrier (1947), Graham (1979), Wayne Grady (1990) and Steve Elkington (1995).

Perhaps the scary thing for Scott’s competitors is he believes he has plenty of room left for improvement.

“We are always looking for the perfect and that may never be achievable but you can die trying,” he said.

Jason Day shot 71 to drop back to two-under but remains in contention in a tie for 15th while Marc Leishman’s second consecutive 70 has him even in a tie for 28th.

John Senden (70) made the weekend at two-over and Matt Jones (71) got in on the cut number at three-over.

Brett Rumford shot a 77 to miss the cut at seven-over and Geoff Ogilvy joined him out the back door after a second consecutive 74 left him eight-over.

Tiger Woods battled to a 70 to be one-over-par, 10 shots off the pace in his quest for a 15th major.

Calls for new process to review ASIO assessments

Written on April 11, 2019 at 11:57, by

There are calls for new laws to make the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation periodically review its security assessments of asylum seekers and refugees.

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The calls come after ASIO overturned an adverse assessment that forced a Sri Lankan woman to be kept in detention, even though she had been given refugee status.

 

Some human rights activists are cautiously optimistic the case will bring hope to other refugees being held in indefinite detention.

 

Hannah Sinclair reports.

 

The decision by ASIO to overturn a negative security assessment was only the second of its kind.

 

Now, 41-year-old Sri Lankan refugee, Manokala Jenaddarsan and her six-year-old son, have lodged new applications for protection visas.

 

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told the ABC the ASIO assessment procedure is shrouded in secrecy.

 

“This mother and her child had no idea what the effective charges were against them. They weren’t able to put forward their side of the story. There was no independent arbiter. And we find out now 18 months later, that the original decision was wrong.”

 

A negative security assessment means refugees can be held indefinitely, without knowing the details of why they are deemed a threat to security.

 

Ms Jenaddarsan, who is an ethnic Tamil, fled from Sri Lanka after her husband was killed during the long-running war between government forces and Tamil separatist rebels.

 

She was in the final stages of getting her refugee claim processed in 2011 when she was issued with the adverse security assessment, leaving her detained at Villawood detention centre in Sydney.

 

Spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, Trevor Grant, says after becoming a widow, she faced great adversity.

 

And he says she is no threat to security.

 

“She lived on the side of the road for 6 months, and in temporary shelters with her little baby. They’ve been through terror, we have been terrorising them again when they come here asking for our help.”

 

The Department of Immigration has confirmed there are 54 refugees currently facing adverse security assessments.

 

The group, ChilOut, which campaigns to get children out of detention, says nine children are affected by these assessments.

 

Campaign director Sophie Peer says ChilOut supports the Greens’ call for more regular reviews of ASIO’s decisions.

 

But she says the reviews shouldn’t be conducted by ASIO itself.

 

“It should absolutely be an independent review process. Many other nations have independent reviewers of their security systems and bodies, and there is no reason why Australia shouldn’t have the same.”

 

Retired Federal Court Judge, Margaret Stone, has been conducting an independent review of ASIO’s adverse assessments.

 

But she had reportedly not yet considered Ms Jenaddarsan’s case.

 

Spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council, Trevor Grant says it’s a question of luck whether a decision is reviewed internally by ASIO.

 

“And this is the lottery these people are living with. And meanwhile they are having to remain in detention and suffer all sorts of psychological trauma.”

 

Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says the reversal of the initial decision on Ms Jenaddarsan shows the current review system works.

 

But the Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young disagrees, saying a change in the law is needed.

 

“It’s not a system that’s working. The fact that the ASIO assessment was reversed means that we need a system set down that requires a review of those assessments on a regular basis. Currently that’s not the case. The only way to make that happen is to change the law.”

 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance says lawyers representing refugee clients are often left in the dark regarding the security claims alleged against their clients.

 

President of the Alliance, Anthony Kerin, agrees a new system is needed to review ASIO assessments.

 

“The system is flawed and needs to be reviewed. You need to be able to challenge adverse findings against you if there is a basis for doing so. And at the moment that right doesn’t exist under Australian law in terms of ASIO assessments.”

 

In a case before the High Court last year, a Sri Lankan man challenged the legitimacy of his indefinite detention on the basis of an adverse security assessment.

 

The Court ruled that the method ASIO used to reject his visa application was invalid, but this did not lead to any legislative changes.

 

Sophie Peer, from ChilOut, says ASIO processes must be made more transparent.

 

“What there should be is a basic process of natural justice. If someone is going to be detained give them a chance to defend themselves. Let them know why they are being detained, what the charges are against them. I mean that’s just a basic rule of law.”