Explosive reaction to Orica announcement

Gas prices are among the damaging conditions that have dragged down the profits of ‘s largest explosives manufacturer and led to a sharp fall in its share price.
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Shares in Orica tumbled more than 11 per cent on Monday morning, after the company revealed its revenue and underlying profits had been hit by the higher cost of raw materials – including gas and ammonia – and the rising n dollar.

The company’s underlying profit slid 1 per cent from the previous year and fell short of analysts’ expectations.

Orica chief executive Alberto Calderon told investors the company had delivered an encouraging result in the face of “substantial headwinds”.

“Despite these challenges, our continued focus on core disciplines and a program of business improvement initiatives enabled us to deliver a sound financial result,” he said.

“The market may disagree right now and seems to interpret it as bad news. … time will tell. We are quite excited about the future.”

At 11.25, Orica shares had plunged $2.55, or 11.93 per cent.

Orica is one of the world’s largest suppliers of explosives to the mining industry. The company on Tuesday said the mining industry had suffered a severe downturn in recent years, which was now improving.

Mr Calderon said the improvement would continue in 2018, but warned there would be a lag before it made a “material difference to the services sector”.

Orica is an energy-intensive business and is among a number of large n manufacturers who are suffering from the country’s soaring energy prices.

The company said a range of business-improvement initiatives had delivered net benefits of $127 million to offset the higher raw material costs that could not be recovered from existing contracts.

“The business improvement program is focused on embedding new ways of working that make Orica a better business by buying better, producing more efficiently, and bringing more value to our customers,” Mr Calderon said.

“This is starting to deliver material results, with initiatives across every part of Orica that generate revenue, reduce costs, and make us a more effective and efficient organisation.”

Mr Calderon said volumes across the Pacific and Indonesia regions had soared 10 per cent thanks to increased demand from n coal and iron ore miners.

Orica will pay shareholders an unfranked final dividend of 28?? a share.

Johnny Walker banned from World Cup

DPC’s Johnny Walker has been banned from the Rugby League World Cup.
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Darlington Point Coleambally’s Johnny Walker has made quite the name for himself.

Walker, and two other Scotland teammates, have been stood down for the remainder of the Rugby League World Cup.

The Group 20 player, captain Danny Brough and Sam Brooks were punished after theywere refused entry onto a flight on Sunday for being intoxicated following the 74-6 thrashing at the hands ofNew Zealand.

The remainder of the Bravehearts travelled to Cairns where they will tackle Samoa.

Walker had played in six Tests for Scotland before joining the Roosters this season, joining Ryan McGoldrick at the club.

Johnny Walker banned from World Cup Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

Johnny Walker playing for Darlington Point Coleambally this season.

TweetFacebook Johnny Walker at DPCHe played 13 Group 20 games, scoring three tries.

Walker was part of the Roosters outfit who lost to Tullibigeal Lake Cargelligo in the second week of finals.

Scotland Rugby Leaguechairman Keith Hogg told Fairfax Media on Sunday night his organisation fully supported the airline’s decision to refuse to let the trio on the early morning flight.

“They clearly had been drinking in an inappropriate fashion. The consequences of that became very obvious at the airport. The airline were quite within their rights to say what they said. They were supported by all of us.”

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‘I’m lucky’: model Stone’s support for abuse survivors

The Age, News. Model Lara Stone in Melbourne as guest of Crown for The Melbourne Cup.Pic Simon Schluter 6 November 2017.Supermodel Lara Stone considers herself one of the “lucky” ones, as revelations about sexual harassment and abuse in the modelling and entertainment industries continue to emerge almost daily.
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“I am very lucky to say nothing untoward has happened to me personally. You hear stories, people gossip but with the stories coming out it’s really sad these girls have to go through that. It should just never happen.”

Stone, 33, is in Melbourne as a guest of Emirates and the Victoria Racing Club for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.

The Dutch supermodel, famous for her gap-tooth pout and unconventional features, has worked with many of the world’s top photographers, including Mario Testino and, more controversially, Terry Richardson, who was recently reportedly banned by publisher Conde Naste over sexual harassment allegations. Richardson has denied the claims.

Although Stone wouldn’t comment on Richardson specifically, she said she was happy women “are finally feeling strong enough to tell these stories. It’s incredibly brave … and it’s really sad when people feel they can’t talk about it. It’s really important all this comes to light. That massive abuse of power is always wrong.”

Stone is considered a veteran of the industry, having been discovered while riding the Paris Metro as a teenager. Her career really took off in 2006, when she signed with powerhouse agency IMG and was booked by Givenchy and Calvin Klein.

In 2007, her biggest break came from French Vogue, which put her on the cover of its April issue under then editor Carine Roitfeld, one of fashion’s most powerful women. She has since featured in campaigns for top fashion houses and beauty giant L’Oreal.

Stone said she has not overcommitted to work recently to allow her to spend more time with her four-year-old son, Alfred, who she shares with her ex-husband, comedian David Walliams.

Stone said it’s harder to book work overseas now her son is in school.

“I like being at home with him and doing all the ‘mum things’,” she said.

She said the biggest change to her work in the past few years has been the pressure to share everything on social media.

“My agents bully me into it all the time. I like to take a break from it on occasion because you are so glued to your phone all the time,” Stone said.

Stone said she hopes her account shows her 683,000 Instagram followers the real her.

“It’s a great way you can be yourself. I don’t just see myself as a model in a picture and so it’s nice to be a [personality].”

Stone had a small part in the 2016 Absolutely Fabulous film but said she has no further acting ambitions at this stage.

“I don’t think it’s for me, I get a little shy,” Stone said. “I like the way things are going at the moment. When I don’t have my son with me I travel and do stuff like this, it’s really fun. I do my usual shoots but focus on spending time with my son.”

During her brief visit to Melbourne, she planned to visit Healesville Sanctuary to see n animals, including her favourite, koalas.

A keen traveller, Stone said she loves the journey to and feeling “upside down” due to the time difference, but has still not seen as much of the world as she desires. Had so much fun last year in #sydney#tbtA post shared by Lara Stone (@lara_stone) on Nov 2, 2017 at 4:15pm PDT

Hunter fashion goes bold and beautiful for Melbourne Cup Day

Bold: Model Hayley Williams and stylist Natalie Baker, who said punters should aim to “shine”. Picture: Marina NeilHUNTER fashionistas have spent weeks preparing for the nation’smost popular three minute race, investing in bright colours to stand out among the partying masses.
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Charlestown Square stylist Natalie Baker said much of the excitement on Melbourne Cup Day is now trackside, as punters frock up in racewear that may otherwise only be seen onspecial occasions.

“We’re quite a relaxed country and culture and our climate means we tend to edge towards more casual types of clothing. Melbourne Cup is about putting on your very best outfit and making the most of it.

“We’re seeing the return of taffeta, lace and delicate fabrics you might not wear on day-to-day basis. This now counts as a special occasion in n culture.”

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Highly fancied horses unlucky in Melbourne Cup barrier draw50 years of Melbourne Cup fashionsMs Baker said fascinators had made way for hats and headpieces, with old-fashioned structured straw hats “like a Venetiangondolier” more popular than floppy styles.

“There’s also a lot of soft, feminine curls pulled back with a metallic headband, pluspearls and diamanteson clips and combs weaved into the hairstyle.”

Ms Baker said “bold colours” including golden yellow, bright red and blue as well as vintage-style florals were popular for dresses, which this year are sitting between the knee and mid-calf.

Ms Baker said some featured highnecklines, were off the shoulder, had ruffles or boasted spaghetti straps, especially if backless.

There are even some Twiggy-style shifts with unstructured waists, high necklines and long sleeves.

She said popular alternatives included mixing and matching tops and skirts, pluspantsuits with wider legs.

“It’s definitely a season that caters for everybody’s shape.”

Pop colours are also in vogue for heels, with thepinks and nude pumps of past years updated with detailing including cut-outs, suede and satin.

“Open toed shoes with a range of heel heights and widths mean you can stand on grass without sinking.”

Melbourne Cup 2017: Newcastle owners Geoff and Maureen Barnett savour double shot at $6.2 million race

READY TO RACE: Merewether couple Maureen and Geoff Barnett at Newcastle Racecourse at Broadmeadow last week before heading off to Melbourne for the Cup carnival at Flemington. Picture: Jonathan CarrollIT’Scome a little later than planned, but for Newcastle Jockey Club chairman Geoff Barnett and his wifeMaureen, having a Melbourne Cup (3200m) runner will be twice as good as they could have hoped come Tuesday at Flemington.
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The Barnetts have part ownership in two Cup runners –Irish-bred geldings Big Duke and Red Cardinal – through Hunter syndication company n Bloodstock.Both were $19 with TAB Fixed Odds on Monday.

“It’s very exciting and we’ll be beside ourselves down there on Tuesday,” Mr Barnett said.

The Merewether couple bought into n Bloodstock’sProtectionist after its commanding 2014 Cup victory, but the German stallion was unable to makeanother shot at the race because of injuries.

Red Cardinal shaped up as a genuine contender last year before an elevated temperature forced connections to abandon his trip from Englandto .

This year,the Barnetts and n Bloodstock directorsLuke Murrell and Jamie Lovettwere on track to have three strong hopes in the $6.2 million race before Japanese import Admire Deus broke down in track work leading into the Caulfield Cup.

Still, two out of three isn’t bad when trying to securea start in the world’s richest staying handicap race.

Red Cardinal has already given the Barnetts a thrill with victory in the Belmont Gold Cup (3219m) in the US, while Big Duke has been a revelation, winning three times at group level and $1.15 million in prizemoney since coming to .

“We went to New York to watch Red Cardinal win the two-mile event and that was pretty good,” Mr Barnett, the managing director and CEO ofMinco Tech ,said.

“We’re pretty excited about the whole thing.

“The other big one was Big Duke running the Sydney Cup this year.

“He ran third in the second running of it and that was big time stuff, getting into those bigger races. And we reckon he would have won the first running of it.”

Asked what was his best Cup chance, Mr Barnett said: “I don’t know.It’s always a very open race and rarely does a favourite win it, but they think both are a good chance.

“They have both proven they can run the distance.Red Cardinal, before he won at Belmont, won first-up over two miles after a long spell, so he’s got the ticker.

“Then he went over to American and beat them. I think the American horses were pretty easy to beat but he competed against some of the European horses over there and you could see the way he was finishing off. It was just incredible.

“Luke is talking up that these horses can both run top five, and if you can do that, you’re right in the money.

“It would be great to win it, but even if you can finish in that top group, it would be massive.”

Mr Barnett, who has been NJC chairman since 2011, has owned thoroughbreds since the late 1990s and also has horses with Newcastle trainers Kris Lees and Alan Scorse.

He said n Bloodstock’s strategy of targeting and buying proven horses from overseas to syndicate and race Down Under has given owners more chances ofsuccess inthe major events.

“I’ve just always loved racing,” he said.

“It’s a hobby that when you’re raising a family and paying off a house, you can’t afford to be in it, because it’s quite expensive.

“But this new way they’ve got with the syndicated horses, where you don’t have to buy a whole horse, you just buy a share, it’s a very good way of going about it.

“We’ve probably got 12, 13 horses that we’re in and the shares are only equivalent to maybe one and a half horse, so you can be in quite a lot,they’re up and running and you’ve got more starters.

”We bought horses outright ourselves from the Magic Millions sales for a few years, and some never even raced, but doing it this way, we’re getting into proven horses that have ability.

“You pay a lot for them. You might spend as much for a whole horse at the Magic Millions, and get a five or 10 per cent share, but they are proven horses.

“They’ve proven that the system Luke and Jamie have put together in purchasing them works.They select very good horses.”

If luck is not on their side in the Cup, the Barnetts and n Bloodstock have Articus in the following race, a $150,000stakes race over 1800 metres.

They also have Tosen Stardom in the $2 million group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) on Saturday at Flemington.

Geoff and Maureen Barnett, left, with Kellie and Jamie Lovett accepting the NSW Stayer of the Year award. Picture: n Bloodstock

Belmont burger restaurant sets sail at 16 Footers

ON TREND: Lake Macquarie was missing a dedicated burger restaurant – until now. Burger Bros. at Belmont 16s is proving a hit. Word is starting to spread and Burger Bros. is fast becoming the eatery of choice at Belmont 16 Foot Sailing Club.
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Food & Wine visited last week and can vouch for the $13 “Southern Bro” –southern fried chicken, smashed avocado, cheddar, shredded cos, slaw and black garlic mayo.

There is a strong craft beer focus at The Boat Shed Bar + Galley, where Burger Bros. can be found, and a host of members’ specials.Thursday is “Independent’s Day” where four local beers are offered for $6 per schooner, and on Wednesday burgers are $8 if purchased with a drink (conditions apply).

Burger Bros. at Belmont 16s.

The club began as a one-room clubhouse opposite Sharp Street in Belmont and was granted a liquor licence in 1952. A larger club was built in stages on land by Mill Creek and in 1980 the Spinnaker Room was completed. The Brian Ellis Boat Shed openedin 2011 and by 2015 it had transformed intoThe Boat Shed Bar + Galley with 16 craft beers on tap and a huge cocktail list.

Burger Bros. is open Wednesday to Sunday. Children are welcome.

Burger Bros. at Belmont 16s.

New at Mayfield Burger Bros. at Belmont 16s.

Westside Pizzeria has been doing a brisk trade sinceopening in Mayfield just over a month ago. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm to 9pm, and offers hand-stretched, stone-baked pizza with a thin crust and loads of flavour.

Slice of heavenJohn Standret opened his sixth Domino’s franchise in Cameron Park last week. He also owns Domino’s Newcastle City, Mayfield, Warners Bay, Wallsend and Glendale.

“I live locally, so when I got the opportunity to open in the area, I jumped at the chance to set up shop,” he said.

Domino’s Cameron Park is equipped with technology innovations such as the GPS Driver Tracker and On-Time Cooking as well as digital menu boards, in-store Wi-Fi and a new store design. It is located at Shop 4, 119 Stenhouse Drive, Cameron Park.

Picnic in the ParkGrab a blanket or chair and some nibbles and head to Picnic in the Park at Toronto foreshore thisFriday, November 10, 5.30pm to 7.30pm. You can enjoy live music from National Music Academy’s Vocal Revolution Choir and free games including giant Jenja or Yahtzee. This event is aninitiative of the Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance, Toronto Area Sustainable Neighbourhood Group, Ability Links,Lake Mac LibrariesandLake Macquarie City Council.

Meet the MoBroWhile men the country over are putting down the razor this month in the spirit of Movember, Doughheads have launched their MoBro’s doughnut. Theywill donate $1 from every MoBro sold tothe Movember Foundation.

It’s all about raising funds and awareness for men’s physical and mental health.

The MoBro doughnut is dipped in Glee espresso icing and then stuffed with fresh banana and salted caramel and topped with a dark chocolate moustache.

The MoBro’s movement is the latest partnership in Doughheads’ monthly charity initiative. Headchef Kallan Bragg has setthe bar for male members of the Doughheads team, having already trimmedand styled his moustache into the faithful horseshoe.

Communal feastStreet Feast returns to Market Street Lawn this Saturday, November 11, 4pm to 8pm. Bring arug and dine under the stars while enjoying live local music.

Coffee to goAfter a couple of false starts Barista Miss has opened at 79 Regent Street, Lambton. Gillian and her team know their coffee and serve a simple all-day menu with smoothies and milkshakes to keep the kidshappy. Barista Missis open 6am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 6am to 2pm on Saturday.

Also, Blackwood Apothecary has opened at 75b Regent Street, New Lambton.

Name changeCaves Beach Hotel is now known asCaves Coastal Bar & Bungalows – and that’s not the only change. The dining area has been revamped and every Sunday in November, from 4pm to 6pm, children eat free and can play on a jumping castle(weather permitting). There is also live entertainment. On Fridays there is a free barbecue from 4pm to 6pm.

Organic tastesCrowne Plaza Newcastle’s Seasalt Restaurantis hosting A Taste of Tamburlaine on December 1.Mark Davidson, managing director and chief winemaker from Tamburlaine Organic Wines, is matching organic wines to afive-course menu. Tickets $120 per person by phoning4907 5075.

Grow Your OwnMusic festival Grow Your Own is branching out to include home-grown talent in all its forms. And that includes our farmers and producers. Bungwahl’s Burraduc Farm is already on board, known for its buffalo dairy products, with more to be announced. The festival is on December 22 atTuncurry Footy Fields, Beach Street, Tuncurry. Tickets are on sale now.

Friendly faceThe Autumn Rooms has taken over 127 Darby Street and is the creation of Becci Fowler, of The Tea Collective, and her partner Ben Richardson.Becci says Ben is “the face” of The Autumn Roomsand has ownership interests inThe Junction Hotel, The Sunnyside Tavern and The Premier. Oh, and he’s a nice guy.

“He took a year out last year and went down to Melbourne to train and build a strong relationship with Proud Mary Coffee Roasters as he wanted to bring his skills to Darby Street,” she told Food & Wine.

The Autumn Rooms is now open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.

Freebie of the weekInFindingFire: Cooking at its most elemental, chef Lennox Hastietells thestory of how he learnt the language offire.

To help readers understand how afirecan enhance flavours, Lennox explains the techniques behind creating a good qualityfire and sharesmore than 80 recipes celebratingthe instinctive, focused cooking of ingredients at their simple best.Lennox reminds readers that the recipes are primarily about produce –about respecting it and about unlocking its true character.

Finding Fire: Cooking at its most elementalis out now through Hardie Grant, RRP $60. Food & Wine has a copy to give away. To enter, send the words “Finding Fire”with your name, address and number [email protected]苏州夜网.au. Entries close on Monday, November 13, at 9am.

Paradise Papers: Name and shame those who seek to hide

AFR, GENERIC, ATO n Taxation Office, tax, taxpayers, money, Government revenue, budget. Wednesday 18th December 2002S photo Louie Douvis / ldz ***AFR FIRST USE ONLY***The Paradise Papers investigation is yet another example of how thanks to offshore law firms like Appleby, the rich and powerful can take advantage of secrecy, and collectively avoid paying hundreds of billions of dollars in tax annually.
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Isn’t it time we end the secrets?

The best way to end use of hidden shell companies and other legal structures is to allow the public to freely access the names of the people behind the ownership of assets and bank accounts.

This was what a host of submissions to Treasury – as part of the federal government’s plans to increase transparency of the beneficial ownership of companies following the Panama Papers revelations – had called for.

The federal government needs to move on this.

It cannot keep waiting for journalists to prompt action.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ’s) Paradise Papers is the biggest revelation yet of how individuals and companies use the law to minimise the taxes they pay. It follows the Panama Papers, Lux Leaks and Swiss Leaks.

Based on 13.4 million files, Paradise Papers provides details about how advisers to US President Donald Trump and mining giant Glencore have been taking advantage of offshore structures.

These investigations, led by journalists around the world, have done more to increase tax transparency than the actions of most governments.

They have pushed tax authorities globally, including the n Taxation Office, to chase down criminals.

The ATO said it had “been working closely for several months with our partner agencies here and overseas in anticipation of a data release by the ICIJ” and would “commence analysis of the intelligence received to identify possible n links”.

Deputy Commissioner International, Mark Konza, said: “We anticipate further data may be published by the ICIJ”.

???He said the ATO would continue to work closely with other tax administrations to share intelligence on advisers operating globally.

He said the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) is already collaborating within existing legal frameworks following the statement by Appleby last month. JITSIC brings together 37 national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance.

But the ATO has previously said that criminal prosecutions based on earlier Panama Papers revelations could take years.

And while ns are linked to the latest Paradise Papers, it is important to remember most are not acting illegally.

Multinationals are allowed to use offshore tax jurisdictions with low or near-zero corporate tax rates.

While the OECD, on behalf of the G20, has been working to introduce tougher laws against multinational tax avoidance, and while governments around the world, including , have passed unilateral laws in a bid to tackle the problem, more needs to be done.

The OECD’s head of tax, Pascal Saint-Amans, recently told Fairfax Media that ending secret identifies behind shell companies and opaque trusts is the “new frontier” in fighting tax evasion.

Aside from creating a central register to record beneficial ownership information (this could be maintained by either AUSTRAC or the n Securities and Investments Commission), there’s also a global push for greater transparency.

The European Commission has proposed legislation that would disclose information to the public on offshore companies and offshore transactions.

But European governments have been reluctant to give their endorsement.

In , under global country-by-country reporting requirements, companies must give tax authorities detailed information – including breakdowns of low-tax countries they route profits through. This information is not accessible by the public.

Labor and the n Greens have proposed sensible measures to boost transparency including public reporting of country-by-country reports.

The Greens measures include using a “worst offenders” list to name and shame companies not paying a “fair share” of tax, a public register of the ultimate beneficial owners of companies and legal protections for private-sector whistleblowers.

Labor’s plan also calls for a central register, and public release of information about where and how much tax was paid by large corporations earning more than $1 billion in global revenue.

Labor also wants mandatory shareholder reporting of “tax haven” exposure, saying it’s costing the global economy $200 billion in lost taxes every year. If a company is doing business in a tax haven, this would be disclosed to shareholders as a “material tax risk”.

The law can only ensure companies act legally. It doesn’t account for morality.

If we want individuals and companies to act more morally, the only way is transparency.

Let’s name and shame those who seek to hide.

Follow Nassim Khadem on Facebook and Twitter.

Sydney’s $1.1b retail swap: QVB, Chatswood Chase change hands

Ownership of premium retail centres in Sydney – including the Queen Victoria Building, The Strand Arcade and Chatswood Chase – has changed in an asset swap valued at more than $1 billion between n retail property group Vicinity Centres and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Government Investment Corp.
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It is one of the biggest such retail asset swaps and ownership changes in Sydney’s CBD and will significantly increase Vicinity’s CBD-based retail footprint along the eastern seaboard.

In Sydney, the direct exposure to City Centre assets for Vicinity increases from 11 per cent to 15 per cent.

The shopping arcades generate some of the highest sales per square metre per annum in the country.

There will also be a remix of some tenants, although all the assets are predominantly food-based and services, such as mobile phone and accessories vendors, which are resilient to online shopping.

Under the deal, Vicinity will exchange its 49 per cent stake in Chatswood Chase, worth $562.3 million, for a 50 per cent stake in GIC’s Queen Victoria Building, The Galeries and The Strand Arcade, worth $562.3 million.

Vicinity will continue to manage Chatswood Chase and will assume property management of the Sydney CBD Centres on settlement of the transaction.

The Sydney CBD Centres have been prime assets in GIC’s Ipoh portfolio since 2003. Under Ipoh’s property management, GIC has completed several significant asset enhancements including refurbishments, redevelopments and tenant releasing projects.

The yields for each transaction were about 5 per cent.

Vicinity’s outgoing chief executive Angus McNaughton, said the two companies had been in discussions for the asset swap “for a number of months” and that it was a “win-win” scenario.

“It is a very attractive deal for us and will allow us to enter the strong Sydney CBD retail sector. We have a presence in Melbourne with the Emporium and in the Brisbane city, but we have not been in Sydney. This will add to our earnings and footprint,” he said.

“While GIC has done a great job on the assets, we can now add to them with new tenants and a remix of offerings. They were also attractive to us with the new Sydney light rail development which stops in front of them all.”

Known as the “ant track” from Town Hall Station under the QVB and into Scentre Group’s Sydney City Plaza, it is considered the busiest pedestrian path in the country.

“Combined foot traffic through the Sydney CBD Centres is about 60 million people per annum, with visitation from three main, and growing, consumer segments: office workers, tourists and residents, who spent $590 million across the three centres this year,” Mr McNaughton said.

“The Sydney CBD Centres perform at very high levels of retail sales productivity, with specialty sales averaging $23,890 per square metre and specialty moving annual turnover [MAT] growth of 2.4 per cent, while overall MAT growth was 4 per cent.”

Retail analysts have given the deal a tick, saying it will be earnings positive for Vicinity.

Michael Vincent, a property analyst from stockbroking firm CLSA, said the increased CBD weighting would be more resilient despite structural challenges for n retail.

“There will be improved portfolio productivity and MAT growth metrics and will increase Vicinity’s assets under management and will reduce exposure to Chatswood Chase, which we believe is due for a major development in the next 2-3 years which will require significant capital expenditure.”

Vicinity retains 51 per cent interest in Chatswood Chase and, as such, retains exposure to the potential upside from the development. However, the presence of GIC as a capital partner helps remove the risk.

Olivia will soon be cut off from therapies she needs to live normal life

Children are missing out on early intervention therapies that could stop them relying on welfare support for the rest of their lives, the ACT government has warned.
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In a recent submission to the joint standing commission into the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the government said it had frequently raised concerns that a higher number of children than expected were entering the scheme in the ACT – and many were missing out on support.

One of those children is Olivia Ross. While she can’t jump, feed herself or go to the toilet on her own, the three-year-old was “thriving” since beginning early intervention therapies under her NDIS plan in 2014.

Three-year-old Olivia Ross has down syndrome as well as development issues such as difficulty swallowing after being born premature. She is about to miss out on early intervention therapies due to cuts to her NDIS support package. Photo: Jamila Toderas

That was up until July this year when Olivia’s funding for the interventions was abruptly cut. From a support package once in excess of $20,000, the Ross family now have only $9000 to cover all their daughter’s support expenses for the next 12 months.

“She can’t go to the physio anymore and her motor skills are really poor,” mother Monika said. “We’ve had to drop her occupational therapist down from weekly to once every three weeks and choose between developing her toileting or her feeding skills.

“As it is, the money in her plan will run out by December, January.”

Ms Ross said all Olivia’s doctors and therapists agreed the supports were crucial to helping the little girl, who has Down Syndrome and lives with complications from her premature birth, live a happy, normal life.

“We were setting her up to be able to get a job and not need excessive funding later in life,” she said. “We’ve lost a lot of ground.”

According to the ACT government, Olivia’s case is not unusual. A crucial change in eligibility for NDIS early intervention therapy brought in late last year was “being interpreted to mean children with only one area of delayed development are not eligible”.

Those children were now missing out and the costs “pushed back on the ACT”, the submission warned.

In another case, a three-year-old girl was deemed ineligible for support despite having “severely delayed” language skills and a family history of autism.

“Due to being so young formal assessments do not capture this very well,” the submission said. Some tests showed only moderate delay when her scores were scaled, even though she did not complete any of the tests.

In other cases, children eligible for the therapies were missing out simply due to time delays. Wait times commonly stretched beyond six months – a “significant delay at what is normally a time of rapid development”, the submission noted.

“These delays can have a negative lifelong impact.”

Behavioural therapist Cass Hanbridge said using early intervention therapies to keep kids off the scheme long-term was “the whole point”, but she found NDIS planners often ignored reports from doctors and therapists.

“I’ve got a kid I used to work with who I recommended if we put in intensive therapy now, in 12 months time, he won’t need a plan,” she said.

“Instead of getting a reasonable amount of hours [in his support package], he got 10 hours for the whole year, that’s less than once a month.”

A spokeswoman for the agency said it was engaging providers around to deliver “best practice” early intervention for children.

“Children with a delay in one developmental area which does not have substantial functional impact on daily life; or children whose support needs are best supported through health or educational services will be assisted by the early childhood partner to connect to appropriate alternative support services,” the spokeswoman said.

It was also revealed during the inquiry’s Canberra hearings last month that, while most jurisdictions around had less participants enter the scheme than expected, the ACT had significantly more, at about 23 per cent above the estimate.

“If they’d have talked to anybody in the sector, they would have known,” Ms Hanbridge said.

About a thousand children have an NDIS plan in the ACT but more than four hundred eligible Canberrans are still lacking a support plan.

Advocates and workers in the sector have raised concerns about children already diagnosed with conditions frequently needing new assessments to qualify for an NDIS support package.

Local NDIS support coordinator Michel Hansen was busy trying to help a client who had been told by the agency he needed another assessment to keep his support funding.

“The school won’t to do it because he’s not due for another one until the end of year 6 but the NDIS want one now and he’ll lose his plan if I can’t work it out,” she said.

In its submission, the ACT government also raised concerns about children coming to the end of their package at age 7 “falling through the gaps” if their families were unable to afford private providers.

“There is [also] an acknowledged gap in the area of paediatric rehabilitation for children whose condition is still stabilising,” the submission said.

It noted a “limited number of providers” available to families meant some services were forced to “turn families away” and reported difficulties accessing funding for extra staff.

Unexpected delays within the tender process itself, the submission noted, had also caused headaches and forced the territory to once again pick up the cost.

While the ACT government currently helps children access equipment and technology like prosthetic limbs through its own existing loan service, it warned “in kind provision cannot extend beyond transition and there are budget pressures”.

Having withdrawn from providing disability services under the scheme, the ACT government established the ACT Child Development Service (CDS) for children who may not be eligible for the NDIS but still need support.

Feedback suggested many young children were now missing out on getting the right supports and connecting to providers under the NDIS, the submission said.

“The NDIS was never intended to replace mainstream services,” the agency spokeswoman said.

“All children who need more intensive longer term early intervention support services may also become a NDIS participant and receive an individualised plan.”

More than 6,000 Canberrans are now on an NDIS support plan.

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Keolis Downer promises a bus every 15 minutes on main routes

Private operator Keolis Downer says it will run bus services every 15 minutes on “key corridors” as part of its impending overhaul of the NewcastleTransport network.
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The company will also “reassess” under-used services as it tries to lift Newcastle’s dismal public transport patronage.

Ferries will also run every 15 minutes under the company’s plan, which will be announced in full this month and implemented in January.

It did not say which routes would get the 15-minute bus service but has said it wantsto improve connections between John Hunter Hospital, the university, Charlestown, Kotara, Wallsend and the CBD.

“With services every 15 minutes, you won’t need to check a timetable,” Keolis Downer’s Hunterchief executive officer, Campbell Mason, said in a statement.

“If you turn up to a bus stop on a frequent route between 7am and 7pm weekdays, the longest you will have to wait for a bus will be 15 minutes.

“We want to make it simpler for people to get where they want to go.”

Keolis Downercited n Bureau of Statistics data on Monday showing only 3.1 per cent of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie commuters use public transport to support its new plan for the network.

The 2016 Census found 16 per cent of workers in NSW and 11.5 per cent nationally use public transport.

Seventy-five per cent of Novocastrians drive to work, significantly more than the state (62.1 per cent) and national (66.1 per cent) rates.

“We already know Newcastle’s public transport is not the first choice for people to get around, and this data confirms that improvements are needed and needed quickly,” Mr Campbell said.

“Opal data shows some bus routes are not well used, and these resources need to be assessed to see if we can make better use of them.

“Our job is to match demand to provide the best overall transport services across the greater Newcastle and Lake Macquarie community.”