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Monthly Archives: October 2019

Article

US bombs Syria: Transcript of Donald Trump’s statement in full

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Pete MarovichUS President Donald Trump has made a statement after the US military launched a missile strike in Syria.

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Below is a full transcript of his speech:

“My fellow Americans, on Tuesday Syrian dictatorBashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.

Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children.

It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God shouldever suffer such horror.

Tonight Iordered a targeted military strike on theairfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

It is in this vital national security interest of the United Statesto prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.

There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemicalweapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN SecurityCouncil

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behaviour have all failed and failed very dramatically.

As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilise, threatening the United Statesand its allies.

Tonight I call on all civilised nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.

Wepray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed, and we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail

Good night and God bless America and the entire world.Thank you.”

Article

How to avoid retiring with insufficient super

Last year, after reading more advice on how individual women could overcome the gap in retirement savings, the Australia Institute’s chief economist Dr Richard Denniss decided to write some advice of his own.

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To avoid the pitfall of retiring with insufficient superannuation, he recommends women follow these four rules:

1. Don’t go into caring professions. Do not be a nurse, or work in childcare, or do a job where you help other people, because we will pay you low wages.

2. Don’t take time out of work while you are young. Do you not understand the way compound interest works? If you do take time out of work while you are young, it will have a catastrophic effect on your retirement income.

3. Don’t take time out of work to care for your parents, or your partner’s parents, in your 50s. These are your peak earning years, so you need to work as long as you can and put as much into super as possible.

4. Do not be a woman. Because we will pay you roughly 17 per cent less than a man for similar work.

It is starkly divergent from the proliferous advice women receive about their financial security: that if they were more financially literate or made better decisions or picked a better super account, they could minimise the retirement gap.

“If you read some of the advice aimed at women, you could be forgiven for thinking retirement income is like a nice pair of shoes and it’s your job to hunt down a bargain,” Denniss says.

The reality, he says, is that no information campaign, decision-making tool or new website can assist women overcome the structural flaws in our superannuation system.

The gap between what men and women retire with in Australia is incontrovertible.

A report by the Senate’s economic committee last year found that one in three Australian women retire with nothing at all, and that on average men end their working lives with superannuation balances twice as large as women’s.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the average Australian man retires with $197,054 while the average woman retires with just $104,734. This represents a 46.6 per cent gap.

It is exacerbated by the superannuation tax concessions, which the Senate report concludes are poorly targeted. Men, in aggregate, receive double the superannuation tax concessions as women.

“The existence of super tax concessions is heavily stacked against women,” Denniss says. “It’s inequitable, and because women are more likely to be poor it’s particularly inequitable for women.”

As it stands, low-income earners pay more tax on their retirement savings than they do on their ordinary income. By contrast, high-income earners pay far less tax on their superannuation contributions than on their salaries.

Poorer people effectively pay a penalty tax on their super while the wealthiest 5 per cent of the population reaps more than $10 billion a year in tax concessions.

Women, who comprise the majority of the 3.6 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year, bear the brunt of this double whammy.

It makes the emphasis on women’s financial skills a little galling to Felicity Reynolds, the chief executive of the Mercy Foundation.

“It is a generalisation, but I would suggest that there are many women who are very, very good at managing a very small amount of money, and I think that gets lost,” Reynolds says.

Increasingly, she sees women being offered educational programs rather than solutions for affordable housing and structural inequities.

“These women could teach courses on saving money,” Reynolds says. “It’s less about a lack of financial literacy and more about a lack of finances due to structural inequity.”

Denniss agrees. “The focus on education is the perfect political strategy if you want to maintain the status quo,” he says. “Not only do the campaigns further confuse people, they are effective in making individuals blame themselves for the situation rather than question the whole system. We need to fundamentally change super and retirement income in Australia.”

Tax concessions cost $29.6 billion a year and the vast majority of those flow to high-income earners. Treasury estimates suggest that tax concessions given to the wealthiest 1 per cent of income earners is far more expensive than simply paying them the age pension.

As a case in point, Denniss cites the Tax Office’s revelation that there is a self-managed super fund with a balance of $100 million.

“If the account holder is over 65, they would be able to draw down $10 million a year and pay zero tax on it. Zero,” Denniss says.

How providing a tax break to a person who would never have been eligible for the age pension is supposed to “save money” is unclear. Regardless, a woman who spends her life earning the minimum wage is unable to access a similar tax break.

So if you are a woman looking to prepare for retirement, it’s wise to examine the fees your super manager charges and look to making additional contributions. But don’t be fooled into believing that through smart choices you can overcome the retirement gap between men and women.

For that, you’ll either need to follow Denniss’ advice or lobby for reform.

Georgina Dent is a journalist, editor and TV commentator with a keen focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Article

East End hit with pro-Supercars graffiti

East End graffiti spree HIT: A wall at the Joy Cummings Centre is one of several locations in the Newcastle East End that was vandalised this week. Picture: Supplied.

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PROTEST: “NO V8” graffiti on a wall of Fort Scratchley.

FURIOUS: Forts Scratchley Historical Society members Frank Carter and Graham Postlethwaite at the site of the partially-cleared graffiti on Monday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

NOT HERE: East End resident Mark Burslem with his protest banner about the November Supercars race. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

SIMILAR: Anti-Supercars graffiti on the facade of the United Service Club.

SIMILAR: Anti-Supercars graffiti on the facade of the United Service Club.

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facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappIN what appears to be an act of retaliation the East End has been hit with pro-Supercars graffiti.

On April 2 it was discovered that vandals had spray painted the historic United Services Club in Watt Street with anti-Supercars graffiti. In the days since there have been several reports of vandalism attacks on the East End.

The Newcastle 500 Supercars Australia event is due to be held in the East End of Newcastle in November. The event has been met with strong opposition from many residents living track-side.

The most recent act of vandalism wasdiscovered on Thursday when a wall at the Joy Cummings Centre was emblazoned with “East Enderz love V8 Benderz.”

Pro-Supercar graffiti has also been discovered in Telford Street, Zaara Street, Fort Drive, Foreshore Park and the lane-way between Scott and Alfred Streets, according to residents.

East End resident Cath Whelan allegedthe vandalism was part of an ongoing campaign “bysome pro-V8 race supporters to harass the East End community”.

“We are being unfairly targeted for daring to question the location of this motor race through our suburban streets,” she said.

“We can only hope that the perpetrators are caught red-handed soon.”

Newcastle East End Residents Group secretary Joan Browning said her group was careful to operate within the law to express its opposition to the location of the race.

“We are doing our best to get our point across legally,” she said. “Any defacing of anybody’s property is unjustified, it’s illegal and it’s wrong.”

Meanwhile, Supercars can expect a call fromCessnock City Council.

The council said itwants to take full advantage of the Newcastle 500 to “show off the Hunter Valley wine country to the influx of spectators the V8 Supercars event is sure to attract”.

Cessnock City Councillor Jay Suvaal said the race was an opportunity for the tourism industry and it would be calling Supercars to invite the motor racing team to visit the local government area.

“We know this event is going to be absolutely huge, attracting thousands of people from across Australia,” Cr Suvaal said.

The race will be staged from November 24-26.

Article

‘Urgent meeting’: Chappypie China Time plans in doubt

Sydney residents wanting to experience the majesty of imperial China may have to continue to travel further than Wyong, following the seeming disintegration of plans for a Chinese theme-park on the Central Coast.

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The company behind the mooted “Chappypie China Time” theme park at Warnervale has apparently failed to make contractual payments for the purchase of land for the theme park.

And the Central Coast Council, which had contracted to sell the land to Australia China Theme Park, issued a mysterious statement this week saying it was seeking an “urgent meeting” with the company.

Should plans for the project irretrievably break down, it would be an ignominious and wasteful end to a scheme that at one stage promised a $500 million development for the region.

The project had been enthusiastically backed by the former mayor of Wyong Doug Eaton.

But it would be an entirely predictable outcome for the theme park’s many critics.

“We said this from the outset,” said the Labor Member for Wyong, David Harris.

Mr Harris said there was no evidence the company behind the project had experience delivering something of the size it was promising. Nor was the land zoned for the sort of use they envisaged.

Indeed, the director of Australia China Theme Park, Bruce Zhong, has previously made a virtue of his lack of experience. “This is a world’s first-ever project,” he told Fairfax Media in 2014.

But Mr Zhong has not responded to an emailed request for comment.

Nor has Mr Eaton, whose wife was previously revealed to have shares in a company part-owned by Australia China Theme Park. Mr Eaton has said his wife had no knowledge of how she came to acquire those shares.

Another curious aspect has been the advertisement in China, on social networking app WeChat, of the potential to invest in the project and receive permanent residency visas.

The latest development comes after the former Wyong Council last February contracted with Australia China Theme Park to sell it two parcels of land totalling 15.7 hectares near the Pacific Highway at Warnervale.

The company paid $300,000 deposits for each parcel, and was to settle the first parcel for $3 million plus GST this February.

The Central Coast Council then gave the company an extension until the end of March. But the Council’s statement this week suggests the Australia China Theme Park has missed that deadline.

The council said that the contracts contained confidentiality clauses and as such it could not comment, but that it had “sought an urgent meeting with representatives of ACTP to discuss these contracts”.

Bob Graham, a former independent councillor on Wyong Council, which has since been merged into the Central Coast Council and placed under the control of an administrator, said the project never made any sense.

Mr Graham said the council-owned land at Warnervale should instead have been used for a business park, which could already be employing people.

Article

An elegant affair in the Blue Mountains

Live music … part of the deal at the Hydro Majestic High TeaI guess that I used to think of the Blue Mountains as an obstacle — one that I rarely stopped at and even more rarely enjoyed, but one which I had to confront on each of many trips over the years between Sydney and the Central West of New South Wales.

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But certainly no longer. What used to be an impediment has become a much favoured haunt — an avenue lined with sumptuous food, fine accommodation and unforgettable scenery, both in dappled sunlight and swirling, sometimes quite eerie, mist.

View from the Hydro Majestic’s dining room … the mist rolls in … or is out?

That appeal was driven home a couple of weeks ago when myself and the Woman with Altitude were hosted by Ralf Bruegger, the general manager of the Escarpment Group, which has in its portfolio the Hydro Majestic, Lilianfels, Echoes and Parklands in the Blue Mountains, and has recently expanded to take on The Convent in the Hunter Valley.

It all started with a rather decadent High Tea in the Hydro’s Wintergarden restaurant watching the mist swirling around the Megalong Valley.

Ralf and his team are to be congratulated on their attention to detail in so tastefully and authentically restoring what is certainly a more-than-century-old Blue Mountains icon. They have done the region and, indeed, Australia a great service.

We opted to share servings of the traditional Wintergarden offering and the more radical Eastern High Tea, accompanied by flutes of French bubbly.

Both dishes were served on three-tiered stands laden with tempting savoury and sweet treats.

Gorgeous food … the Hydro Majestic’s Eastern High Tea (left) and Wintergarden High Tea

It was there that we abandoned the Woman with Altitude’s car, not realising that she had left on the lights and was rapidly flattening the battery, and shared my car to Katoomba, where, because accommodation at Echoes was booked out, we had to stay at luxurious Lilianfels. Damn!

Lilianfels was established by Sir Frederick Darley, sixth Chief Justice of NSW, as a family retreat after he purchased land at Katoomba’s Echo Point in 1888.

It epitomises accommodation in the grandest of manner. It is elegant and its silver-service restaurant, appropriately named Darley’s, delivers food totally worthy of the surrounds.

There’s absolutely nothing ‘mini’ about our Mini Mini Saddle Suite, with its elegant décor, absolute king-size comfort and separate lounge and bedroom.

A comfortable resting place … the Mini Mini Saddle Suite at Lilianfels

The quality of the food at Echoes — and it really is next door, well within walking distance — certainly matched the luxury of our suite at Lilianfels.

We tried entrées of crispy soft-shell crab served with pan-seared scallops and som-tom salad; and pan-fried quail with kale, shimeji mushrooms, and tamarind-and-honey glaze … an absolutely delicious pair of starters eagerly washed down with glasses of crisp riesling from Bests in Victoria’s Great Western district.

One of the delicious entrées at Echoes … soft-shell crab with pan-seared scallops

These were followed by two of the best main courses we have recently tried: free-range chicken wrapped in jamon, and served with sweet potato and quinoa rosti, braised fennel, wild mushroom and truffle veloute; and char-grilled angus tenderloin, served with onion jam and baby vegetables grown in the garden of the Escarpment Group’s nearby Parklands property.

Both dishes were simply sensational, with the velvety veloute sauce an absolute stand-out.

I’m a great fan of reds from France’s Rhone Valley, which I reckon offers better value than the more esteemed Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, and the Perrin & Fils blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre certainly did more than justice to the exceptional tenderloin.

And similarly a glass of De Iulius chardonnay from the Hunter Valley to the chicken.

It was a very fine meal in a beautiful room, tended by the most efficient, friendly staff … and full marks to the Hydro’s handyman, who had no trouble jump-starting the Woman with Altitude’s car the following morning.

John Rozentalsis a freelance writer whose passions aretravel, food and wine. He lives at Molong in the Central West of NSW, from where he hostsOz Baby Boomers, a lifestyle-resource for mature Australians, and Molong Online.