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  • admin 12:51 on 15/01/2019  

    Paul Howes and Labor leader Bill Shorten last November. Photo: Jesse MarlowThe Pulse Live: Judith Ireland blogs live from ParliamentMark Kenny: Forget the conspiracy theories
    Nanjing Night Net

    Australia’s highest profile unionist, Paul Howes, has broken ranks with his own union and now supports Labor and unions severing their historic link.

    Speaking on Sky TV on Monday, Mr Howes would not be drawn on his views saying he did not want to offer a running commentary. It was up to the union to have those debates in the future, he said.

    However Fairfax Media understands Mr Howes has recently shifted position and now supports the cutting of the 123-year old formal tie between unions and Labor. The Australian Workers Union confirmed Mr Howes’ resignation as national secretary on Monday. He will step down in July.

    Recent scandals around the ALP-affiliated Health Services Union and ongoing controversies around his own union have focused attention on the Labor-union relationship.

    So too has Labor’s record low primary vote and the unions movement’s declining membership and relevance.

    In behind-the-scenes discussions the young leader has recently revealed his personal conclusion that affiliation was damaging both the party and affiliated unions. However he has been hamstrung in his public comments by the fact that AWU’s official position was at odds with his personal view.

    Once public, Mr Howes position will no doubt refuel debate about the need for reform.

    Mr Howes has been national secretary of the AWU since 2007, replacing Bill Shorten. He was just 26 when he took on the role.

    In a statement from the AWU this morning Mr Howes said: “I have spent half my life as an official in the trade union movement and the last seven years in this position.

    I have always been aware that you never own this job; you only serve as custodian.”

    He denied he was leaving the AWU for a career in politics. “And so, despite what you may hear, I am not leaving this job to pursue a seat in parliament,” he said. “For some time now I have been contemplating the next steps in my life. And as such I recognise the right thing to do is to step down.”

    Mr Howes, is engaged to Qantas executive Olivia Wirth and has, since announcing their relationship, been unwilling to comment on issues relating to the airline – in which his union has hundreds of members. Mr Howes and Ms Wirth will marry next month.

    In September last year, Mr Howes pulled out of a bid to take a Senate seat to be vacated after the 2013 election by former foreign minister Bob Carr after hostile reaction from some Labor MPs and union figures.

    But ALP insiders do not rule out Mr Howes seeking preselection in the future.

    Mr Howes’ relationship with Mr Shorten, now the Labor Opposition Leader, was damaged after Mr Shorten switched support to Mr Rudd before the 2013 federal poll.

    The union leader also enraged many in the union movement in February when he called for a “grand compact” between unions and business in a speech that also created a political headache for Mr Shorten.

    It is expected that Mr Howes will be replaced by assistant national secretary Scott McDine. He leaves the union movement as the Abbott government launches a royal commission into union corruption. The AWU is one of five unions singled out for special attention in the royal commission.

    Set to be probed is the 20 year old scandal around a slush fund that involved legal work done by Julia Gillard for her then partner, AWU official Bruce Wilson. Also set to be investigated is a more recent slush fund, Industry 2020, set up by the union’s former Victorian secretary and now state upper house MP, Cesar Melhem.

    Often touted as a “faceless man”, Mr Howes support for former prime minister Julia Gillard was instrumental in her toppling of Kevin Rudd in June 2010. He stayed loyal to Australia’s first female PM in her leadership battles with Mr Rudd.

    In November 2010, Mr Howes wrote Confessions of a Faceless Man: Inside Campaign 2010, an autobiographical analysis of the election and 18 months in Australian politics.

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

    Continue reading Paul Howes free to push for historic split between Labor and unions
  • admin 12:51 on 15/01/2019  

    Paul Howes with his fiancee Olivia Wirth. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPaul Howes confirms he is quitting unionPaul Howes now free to push for Labor/union split
    Nanjing Night Net

    At just 32, Paul Howes’ departure from the helm of the nation’s most important and enduring worker’s organisation, the Australian Workers’ Union, is hardly the end for him.

    But for the labour movement, it represents a serious loss of talent – a loss which might be temporary or might not.

    There is no getting around the fact that his resignation from the AWU leadership is a sign of Howes’ dwindling confidence in the current mindset of organised labour with its terminally stunted capacity for critical self-reflection and modernisation.

    It is probably also a statement of great confidence in his own abilities and the future he intends building with his wife-to-be, the talented young Qantas executive, Olivia Wirth.

    The reaction to this news is telling, however, revealing (again) that cynicism remains a prevalent force in Australian society and the dominant currency within the politico-media class.

    Talent and outspokenness are the perfect agar to grow contempt.

    While Howes has a reputation for self-promotion, he has had a lot to work with – his talents are considerable.

    A combination of jealousy and the standard facility for conspiracy thinking has fuelled the speculation. Some leapt immediately to the conclusion that he is moving early to avoid the embarrassment coming the AWU’s way at the hands of the royal commission into union corruption.

    Another theory had it that he has been none-too-subtly pushed out after accumulating enemies in the ALP/union complex.

    In reality, it is more simple: Personally and professionally, Howes is burnt out.

    This is a very human situation for early achievers.

    Facing a new and exciting future on the personal front, it is likely that some things that had been of all-consuming importance for his entire working life have suddenly been rendered less so.

    The signs of this emotional-intellectual journey have been there for some time. His speech to the National Press Club last month contained some worthy ideas, such as the call for greater co-operation across the employer-employee divide, and an end to the unproductive industrial relations see-saw.

    He even upbraided his own side for the pathetic recourse to invoke the Work Choices bogey at the mere mention of industrial relations reform by the Abbott government.

    But for all its crazy-brave courage, and imagination, it was delivered with a sense of weary resignation – almost as if he knew it would earn him more detractors than he could sustain.

    Howes may yet re-embark on the national political career he was denied in the Senate vacancy created by Bob Carr’s departure.

    If so, he will be better off for some time in other employment and away from the coalface of union/Labor politics.

    While it wasn’t intentional, his party did him a personal favour not granting him preferment so early in life.

    His embrace of new opportunities suggest he may already appreciate it.

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

    Continue reading Forget the conspiracy theories, Paul Howes is just burnt out
  • admin 12:51 on 15/01/2019  

    Markets can swing from optimism to pessimism in the blink of an eye. It’s unusual, however, for two competing companies, both leaders in their field making incredible sums of money, to be priced as if one was headed to the moon and the other to the scrap heap.
    Nanjing Night Net

    That’s exactly how the market is pricing Apple and Google. And it isn’t Google going to the scrap heap.

    Despite the promise of driverless cars and computer glasses, Google makes about 90 per cent of its total revenue from selling online advertising. It’s a genuinely impressive business. And on a price-to-earnings ratio of 25, one that many investors recognise as such.

    Meanwhile, the market believes Apple’s best years are behind it. The iPhone and iPad were great, sure, but what’s next? Right at the time the company needs the mind-bending genius of Steve Jobs, it puts Tim Cook at the helm, the closest thing Silicon Valley has to a human cardigan.

    And yet look at the numbers. In the two years since Cook took over, Apple’s operating income has grown from $US34 billion to $US51 billion. In the year of Job’s death, Apple’s revenue was $US108 billion. Last year it hit $US171 billion.

    Even by Google’s high standards, Apple has done well. Where Google grew operating income in the last two years by $US2.3 billion, Apple managed $US16 billion. In the last four quarters, Apple made a total profit of $US47.1 billion compared with Google’s $US10.7 billion.

    The company is sitting on a cash pile of $US160 billion, enough to embarrass a Russian oligarch (well, maybe).

    By worrying about margins instead of volumes, Apple has built out an eco-system for its loyal, cashed-up customers. With only a sliver of the smartphone market, it makes over half the sector’s profit. All of which adds up to a return on equity of about 30 per cent compared with Google’s 15 per cent.

    Such figures would ordinarily send a spreadsheet-obsessed analyst into joyful apoplexy. Why bother with stocks like Woolies, on a PER of 18, or Carsales南京夜网 trading on 30 times earnings when you can buy the world’s most valuable brand on a PER of 13, including the cash?

    Yet analysts aren’t interested.

    Barclays recently told its clients to ‘step aside’. At a time when institutions are allocating ever larger proportions of their portfolios to big, blue chips – according to Morgan Stanley Research Google has never been more popular – institutional ownership of Apple has hit a five-year low.

    Apple, in what can only be described as a definitional category error, has even been compared with Enron.

    The media, late even to mournful parties such as this, lionises Apple’s products but laments its also-ran status. A former Wall Street Journal reporter’s new book, Haunted Empire: Apple after Steve Jobs, is being given a huge run. But even before its release headlines like Fortune’s How Tim Cook can save Apple (and himself) were common.

    I should declare an interest. I’m an Apple shareholder, although through Intelligent Investor International Fund I’m also invested in Google.

    I doubt Apple’s best days are behind it but on a PER of 13 I think there’s enough compensation to wear that risk.

    That, though, is not the point.

    Cast your mind back to 2011 when analysts and the media where ardently predicting the death of the Macquarie model.

    In September of that year we upgraded the stock to a Strong Buy, since when it has more than doubled, and paid out handsome dividends.

    The same is true of News Corp at the height of the hacking scandal in 2011, which crushed the company’s reputation but left its earnings untouched, a fact which took markets two years to appreciate.

    Only in retrospect do these situations reveal themselves as great buying opportunities.

    With analysts talking of reputational damage, the media giving them air and concerned shareholders selling out, pushing down the price, it was the sheer negativity towards the stock that created the opportunity.

    It may indeed turn out that Apple’s best days are behind it. The market is often right. But when a stock is truly hated, when almost everything it does is given a negative spin, when it’s cheap and priced for failure, that’s when investors with the ability to see past the chaos secure the very best of bargains.

    This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 282288).

    John Addis is a Director of Intelligent Investor Share Advisor. You can unlock all of Share Advisor’s stock research and buy recommendations by taking out a 15-day free membership.

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

    Continue reading Apple: The world’s most hated stock?
  • admin 12:51 on 15/01/2019  

    Here’s an idea for Nathan Tinkler: call another meeting with Knights members as he did when he was trying to wrest control of the club three years ago, and tellthe same people who allowed him to sweep to power exactly where they stand.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Pic: Darren Pateman

    Pic: Ryan Osland

    In other words, tell them if he has enough money to continue to fund their club, or if he does not.


    Because, to be quite frank, this continual game of smoke-and-mirrors about the club’s financial state is becoming a little boring, if not insulting to those who trusted him in the first place.

    The dogs have been barking in Newcastle for many, many months about Tinkler and his tenuous ownership.

    You sense the rottweilers are about to be let off the chain, and the “Boganaire” is in their sights.

    The Knights have been at breaking point at so many times since their inception in 1988, and still won two premierships and produced a legion of Australian and Origin players.

    Yet the close of business on Tuesday looms as the most important deadline in their recent history.

    By then, Tinkler needs to show the Newcastle Knights Members Club he can produce a new $10.5 million bank guarantee by the end of the month, or the members will start the process of buying the club back for a dollar.

    That’s their right.

    Thank heavens for former chairman Robbie Tew for putting such a guarantee in place before handing the reins to the former billionaire.

    There are faint murmurs coming out of Newcastle that Tinkler will be able to find the money at the 11thhour, as he has done on numerous occasions since buying the club in 2011.

    And should that happen, the Knights – from chief executive Matt Gidley to chairman Paul Harragon to the players themselves – will say the club’s future was never in doubt.

    Move on, nothing to see here.

    “We have heard nothing at all to suggest there is a problem,” Gidley said last week.

    “Nathan has to renew the guarantee every year, so 10 days out from the deadline each year, we could conceivably have this sort of speculation about whether he is going to continue or not.

    “You’d rather it wasn’t blown up hysterically but that’s the reality and until Nathan meets the deadline, I guess we just have to put up with the speculation.”


    One of Tinkler’s major financiers, Westpac, appointed external administrators at two of Tinkler’s companies late last week.

    Westpac took the extraordinary step of releasing a statement to assuage the fears of Knights fans concerned about the demise of their beloved club.

    “We have been in discussions with the Tinkler Group for quite some time about existing exposures with Westpac which includes a bank guarantee to support the Newcastle Knights,” a spokesman said in a statement.


    Reports inThe Newcastle Heraldlast week that some players had not been paid on time were dismissed by veteran prop Willie Mason.

    “I’m not sure where the little whispers are coming from,” Mason said.

    “It’s always like that when you lose, everyone tries to bring up crap.

    “If you check everyone’s bank accounts, I’m pretty sure everyone’s getting paid.”

    Well, we checked with several player managers, who would have more of an idea than their clients if the players had been paid on time.

    We can tell you what they’ve told us before: some players were certainly not paid on time.

    It doesn’t matter if you are making $70,000 a season or $700,000. If you’re paying a mortgage or have a car repayment coming out on a certain day of the month, you need to be paid on time.

    The same player managers report there have been long delays with superannuation being paid for the past year.

    This is a complaint this column has heard before, and it does not happen at any other club.

    But not according to the Knights. Move on, nothing to see here.

    What about Tinkler’s dwindling fortune?

    Companies placed into receivership?

    His repossessed private jet?

    The selling off his horse racing and breeding operation, Patinak Farm?

    Speculation?Move on, nothing to see here.

    Tinkler, a former Muswellbrook sparkie, rode into Newcastle and said he was all about “community”.

    He delivered the most successful coach in history in Wayne Bennett, and a bulging salary cap of superstars.

    The good rugby league people of the Hunter were finally being handed a commodity they have never really had when it came to their footy team – certainty.

    But instead of galvanising the community, with each proud member falling in behind their team and knockabout owner, the new regime has polarised a staunch rugby league region.

    Fans buyThe Newcastle Heraldeach day, slowly turn the page and wonder, “What next?”

    They have dealt with uncertainty before. They have survived contractual disputes, drug scandals, the sudden departure of their best player in Andrew Johns, and an ugly cleanout under former coach Brian Smith.

    But this is different.

    Tinkler has caused a serious disconnect between club and fan, and the chasm appears to be widening.

    The members want to know if Tinkler still cares like they do.

    If he still has the money to support them as he once assured.And, above all of that, they want the Boganaire to give them what he promised all along – certainty.


    Continue reading Why Knights fans long for certainty
  • admin 12:51 on 15/01/2019  

    A screengrab from adrift.org.au showing how far debris could have spread from the duck icon over a six-month period. A screengrab from adrift.org.au showing how far debris could have spread from the duck icon over a six-month period.
    Nanjing Night Net

    A screengrab from adrift.org.au showing how far debris could have spread from the duck icon over a six-month period.

    A screengrab from adrift.org.au showing how far debris could have spread from the duck icon over a six-month period.

    Graphic: Jamie Brown

    The search for MH370

    It has been called the oceanic equivalent of the Butterfly Effect.

    So chaotic are the currents in the southern Indian Ocean that two identical objects, dropped into the water just metres apart, can end up floating hundreds of kilometres away from each other in a matter of days.

    It’s a phenomenon Dr Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of NSW, knows all too well.

    His research this past summer involved dropping buoys with global-positioning systems into a patch of the southern Indian Ocean just east of where the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is now centred.

    The rate at which those buoys drifted apart, after starting from virtually the same location, was extraordinary. Three months on, and Dr van Sebille said they were now more than 1000 kilometres apart.

    He estimated that a piece of debris in this part of the ocean could drift 100 kilometres in a day.

    ‘‘The idea of the Butterfly Effect is that, if a butterfly flaps its wings, then something really big happens somewhere else. This is kind of the oceanic equivalent of that,’’ Dr van Sebille said, underlining the difficulties surrounding the search for MH370.

    ‘‘Two pieces of debris that landed in the ocean 10 centimetres apart might now be hundreds of kilometres apart already.’’

    An interactive model of the Indian Ocean currents is available at adrift.org.au. To see the currents, click the cursor on a spot in the Indian Ocean.

    France has become the latest nation to identify new satellite images which show “potential objects” in the Indian Ocean, after Australia and China had already released images that show possible debris from the Boeing 777.

    All of the sightings are in an area south-west of Perth. The debris in the earlier Australian image was about 2500 kilometres south-west of Perth, and the Chinese sighting, captured two days later, was about 120 kilometres “south by west” of that. The French sighting is believed to be about 850 kilometres north of the current search area.

    Dr van Sebille said that any potential sighting of debris in the southern Indian Ocean was significant because it was one of the most pristine environments, largely devoid of plastic and debris.

    He said there was a known ‘‘garbage patch’’ in the Indian Ocean where debris tended to gather, similar to one also located in the Pacific Ocean. However the Indian Ocean patch was further north of the current search area, at about the latitude of Perth.

    Over an extended period, debris in the Indian Ocean generally tended to move slowly north and east, he said.

    ‘‘That’s an advantage here [in the search for MH370] because it means that it is quite unlikely for debris that came from land, for instance from Australia, South Africa or from South America, to move southward towards Antarctica. The general tendency of it is to go northward,’’ he said.

    ‘‘Also, because there is hardly any shipping here, there’s not much debris.’’

    Dr van Sebille said the Southern Ocean was really ‘‘quite a special place’’ because it was possible to keep moving east without hitting land.

    ‘‘There is an opening between South America and Antarctica, the great passage, it just flows on and on and on, so it’s this giant current that’s actually the biggest current in the world,’’ he said.

    ‘‘It’s swept by the winds and as it becomes strong it starts to break up in all kinds of vortices.

    ‘‘It’s just like if you walk here in the CBD and there’s a strong wind, and then behind the big buildings you start seeing vortices. The same happens in the Southern Ocean. It’s full of these vortices, we call them eddies. Their physics is essentially the same as hurricanes, they’re kind of the ocean equivalent of hurricanes. They move around, they’re ubiquitous, and they pose a real problem in this case because they make the flow highly unpredictable.’’

    Dr van Sebille said the unpredictability of ocean eddies was demonstrated in 1992, when a shipping container holding nearly 29,000 plastic bath toys, including rubber ducks, spilled from a cargo ship during a storm in the north Pacific Ocean.

    Oceanographers began tracking the movements of the toys, which included red beavers, green frogs, blue turtles and yellow ducks.

    Ten months after the incident, the first toys began to wash up along the Alaskan coast, and in the years since then they have been found washed up on the shores of Hawaii, America, South America, and Australia, while others have been found frozen in Arctic ice.

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

    Continue reading The Butterfly Effect: debris from missing Malaysia Airlines plane could have spread over hundreds of kilometres
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