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Archive for January, 2019

Bill Shorten offers alternative super plan for Malcolm Turnbull’s budget woes

Bill Shorten says the government has not gone far enough in its crackdown on high-end superannuation tax concessions. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen The Coalition hopes to get its super package legislated before the wind-up of Parliament on December 1. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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 Federal Labor has quibbled with media reports claiming it is poised to support the Turnbull government’s modified superannuation package as is, which if passed would save the budget about $3 billion over four years.

Instead, the opposition says it will put forward steeper cuts to generous concessions to help repair the budget.

Sources close to Labor leader Bill Shorten say that on Tuesday the opposition will unveil an alternative set of proposals to make the superannuation system fairer by hitting high-income earners harder, and thereby dramatically increasing the pace of budget repair.

Proposed is a plan to reduce the government’s $100,000 annual post-tax contributions limit to $75,000. The government originally announced a $500,000 lifetime cap on such contributions, and even took this to the election, promising repeatedly that there would be no change, before being pressed by its own backbench into a backflip.

Conservative backbenchers had showed little regard for the government’s “ironclad” pledge to voters and campaigned vigorously behind the scenes to overturn it, arguing the backdated $500,000 lifetime cap was overly harsh and retrospective.

But Mr Shorten said the government had not gone far enough in its crackdown on high-end superannuation tax concessions.

“The current superannuation system delivers half of all tax concession to the top 20 per cent of income earners – that isn’t fair or economically sustainable,” he said. “That isn’t fair or fiscally sustainable.”

Another proposal Labor favours would reduce the High Income Superannuation Contribution threshold to $200,000 from its proposed $250,000 annual income.

That would mean a person earning more than $200,000 paying 30¢ in the dollar on contributions, rather than the 15¢ currently.

According to Labor’s accounting, provided to it by the Parliamentary Budget Office, that would save $688 million over the forward estimates and $7.3 billion over 10 years to 2026-27.

Labor says just 4 per cent of taxpayers would be affected and that less than 1 per cent, at 0.7 per cent, pay non-concessional contributions annually at rates greater than $100,000 a year.

The government hopes to get its superannuation package legislated before the wind-up of Parliament on December 1.

But it has just three sitting weeks in which to push the measures through or risk delaying its intended July 1, start date.

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Scrutiny will be on Cricket China CEO James Sutherland if wheels come off China

Summer heat: Cricket CEO James Sutherland is a survivor. Photo: Paul KaneWhen Cricket ‘s chief executive, James Sutherland, announced in April that the first Test of the summer would be shifted from its traditional base in Brisbane to Perth the news passed, in the thick of football season, with little scrutiny.
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Steve Smith’s side was world No.1 at the time on the back of a dominant home campaign and a series win in New Zealand.

Seven months later, however, the location change has come back to bite the floundering ns, threatening to send their entire summer off the rails. Rather than begin at the Gabba, a ground that has been a fortress for and launched many successful Test series, they faced a South African team that thrive in the west and have done so again.

This is not to absolve the players of responsibility for what occurred since the morning of day two at the WACA, and in particular the batsmen whose part in the first-innings collapse was principally to blame for going 1-0 down.

But whether the venue shift is indicative of a worrying imbalance in priorities at CA, with commercial gain and data about the popularity of the sport trumping the best interests of the national team, is a question increasingly being asked by those in and around the game.

Amid the introspection and recriminations that will follow ‘s fourth successive Test defeat are myriad issues that stretch beyond the shortcomings of the team to the very program they exist in: are Pat Howard and co right in the policy of resting fast bowlers be it from a one-day tour, a Matador Cup final, or half a Sheffield Shield game? Were selectors correct in picking the same squad for first two Tests, depriving them of flexibility now? And given ‘s performances since the winter, should Darren Lehmann really have had his contract extended, in August, to 2019?

Lehmann, Howard, Rod Marsh and his selectors and the team captain will be singled out if go on to lose this series, but blame must also be apportioned further up the management chain. It was Sutherland’s administration that switched the first Test to Perth to accommodate a second day-night Test of the summer in Brisbane.

And it was Sutherland and the top brass at CA who, by jamming ‘s international schedule in the lead-up to the summer, were responsible for Smith and his players being deprived of even a single red-ball match in the Sheffield Shield ahead of the first Test. Smith made the call for NSW, stacked with n players, to have their only pre-Test Shield game played with the pink ball in Brisbane to ready themselves for the day-night Test against Pakistan there next month.

But because of the ill-timed and ultimately ill-fated one-day series in South Africa that was not an adequate preparation, as Mike Hussey lamented on Monday, arguing there should have been at least two matches of “good, hard, disciplined first-class cricket” for the ns before taking on the Proteas.

It is difficult to fault Sutherland for having raked in truckloads of cash for the code and its players via broadcasting deals or for the undisputed success that is the Big Bash League. Cricket can now claim to be the top participation sport in the country, with more than 1.3 million playing it last year. The day-night Test revolution, Sutherland’s baby, is also a fine innovation to broaden the appeal of the game.

Yet if the n team, the shop-front product, is going backwards, then the brand is bust no matter how forward-thinking or heavy the code’s pockets are. Sutherland’s personal crusade to make day-night Tests successful is noble on one level but, as evidenced by the switch of the first Test to Perth, has been pushed through at just about any cost.

As for CA’s position, there was an interesting nugget in their recently released annual report. A breakdown of expenditure showed that more money ($34.87 million) was spent on communications and marketing than on team performance ($26.86 million), excluding player remuneration, in the last financial year.

They can’t and shouldn’t throw every cent at the players, but the balance is out of whack when the best interests of the n team are jeopardised by other priorities.

Sutherland, CEO since 2001, is a great survivor. He hung on through the exhaustive self-analysis that followed the Ashes defeat of 2010-11.

But the buck ultimately stops at the top, and if the n team reaches breaking point again this summer, a point it is dangerously close to, the heat will be on the boss too.

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Police with PTSD tell of difficulty getting adequate help

‘MANAGED OUT’: A group of former Hunter Region police officers have spoken out about what they say is a toxic culture, where officers suffering psychological injuries are afraid of seeking help through official channels. More PTSD storiesAFTER struggling through years of bullying, the suicides of two colleaguesand haunting memories of murders, car crashes, assaults, dead babies and a near stabbing, police officer Rebecca* said she made the decision to end her nearly 20-year career,by askingfor help.
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She put in a “Hurt on Duty” form (HOD), which is used to report physical and psychological issues through the NSW Police Force’s injury management system.

In reality,to report psychological injury was “career suicide”, Rebecca, a former Newcastle and Lake Macquarie officer, said.

“You are then targeted. You are managed out,” she said.

Rebecca is one of several former Hunter Region officers who have spoken out about a toxic culture of bullying and intimidation within NSW Police ranks, where, they say,unwell officers are targeted until they quit, breakdownor commit suicide.

“They’ve pushed as hard as they can for me to put myself in the grave,” Rebecca said.

She was medically discharged from the police force in 2010 after 17 years and is still battling for a settlement to her workers’ compensation claim. Police insurers dispute her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which she says has been diagnosed by five psychiatrists and four psychologists.

She joined the force at the age of 20.

“My stuff started fairly early, when I was a student, a bloke blew his face off in front of me,” she said.

“It sounded like a car backfiring but it just wasn’t right. So we drove back to check it out. He was 20 metres from my side of the car, put (the gun) under his jaw and shot his head off.

“I was offered no counselling, no debriefing, nothing. Zero. Ever.”

Rebecca has grappled with thoughts of ending her life many times. During her time in the force she lost friends, also fellow officers, to suicide.

Two of them were working with her at Toronto police station at the time of their deaths, which occurred after Rebecca started speaking out about a lack of support for officers in distress.

Rebecca said she moved to Toronto police station after “sustained bullying” by a superior in the Newcastle Local Area Command.

“I joined the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committee because out of my experience of how they treat injured officers, something had to be done.

“I remember asking (at a meeting) ‘how come you haven’t mentioned psych injury, it’s one of your biggest problems?’.”

Then a colleague took his own life.

“The first OHS meeting back you go through the general issues … and everyone had raised the usual stuff, cracks in concrete, and then it got to my turn and I said ‘I’m just curious how many people have died from psychological injury and how many people have died from a crack in the concrete?’.”

Weeks later, another colleague working at Toronto took his life.

“They arranged for a psychologist to be present at the police station for four Fridays,” Rebecca said.

She struggled to recover following the deaths, and said she felt pressure to “just get over it”.

Eventually, she put in her HOD form.

“Because obviously speaking to them and telling them that I had a problem, I wasn’t getting any support,” she said.

“So career suicide, but I put it in.”

Rebecca said people learned not to speak up about stress or bullying after seeing how others were treated.

“You make a complaint against someone, it’s turned on you,” she said.

Ray*, an officer of 10 years who left the force with PTSD in 2009, agreed.

“The minute you do say something, you’re targeted,” he said.

He said officers who spoke out against management would be reprimanded in a number of ways including being intimidated at unnecessary meetings, additional hurdles when accessing leave, having their current and past work heavily scrutinised and reviewed and being tasked with menial duties.

For Rachel*suffering a physical injury after a relatively short time in the force lead to her being bullied by fellow officers, which left her a wreck. Eventually she had a breakdown.

“I was bullied after I was physically injured, I was bullied really badly,” she said.

“People hated me for being injured.”

She said some fellow officers made it difficult for her to do her job.

“They shredded the stuff out of my pigeon hole, which was court documents,” she said.

“(A colleague) said ‘it’s been filed’, and I said ‘oh cool, where is it?” and he said ‘filed means shredded’.

“So I didn’t have the reports I needed.They made my life really difficult …I couldn’t do my job.

“My psychologist told me‘if you hadn’t been bullied you could have handled the PTSD’.

“But the bullying, they destroyed me.

“When I came out of the academy I was invincible and I was fit and Iwas amazing and I loved my job. I don’t know howthey wore me down, but they did.”

Rachel said when the bullying at her station intensified, she was contacted by a superior with what seemed like a lifeline.

“(The superior) rang me and said ‘you’re being harassed would you like to come to Boolaroo for a while’,” she said.

“I was sitting in a dark room, by myself 10 hours a day doing victim follow up, where I was meant to dob on my fellow cops.

“I had to go through every event, I had to … ring all these people for 10 hours and ask them ‘how did the cops do, are you happy?’.

“I was being bullied and he sends me to go and do that, so they hate me even more.”

NSW Police declined to comment when asked if there was a culture of bullying within the force, but said complaints were acted on.

“Any complaints of bullying and harassment are investigated and, if found to be sustained, will result in the consideration of serious management action,” a NSW Police spokesperson said.

Thespokesperson said all claims of injury were reported through the injury management system and were classified as HOD“dependent upon an investigation of the factual circumstances”surrounding the injury.

Police had a “range of options” to support officers following traumatic events including “operational debriefing, the Employee Assistance Program, Peer Support Officer program, Police Chaplaincy, and the wellcheck program”.

“NSWPF has recently launched the Incident and Support Database to assist in identifying officers exposure to incidents which may adversely impact their well-being,” the spokesperson said.

Rebecca slammed the policies, saying they were no good if not enacted.

“They have an abundance of policies and information on psychological injury yet failed to use any of them in my case,” she said.

“Instead of offering support, the police are antagonistic towards injured workers. Instead of of recognising or supporting an injured officer, too often the officer is subjected to performance programs, disciplinary action or unsuitable duties.”

The NSW Police spokesperson said the force was working to help officers struggling with trauma.

“NSWPF is continuing to develop cultural change with a focus on understanding that it is normal for the incidents that police attend to impact them,” the spokesperson said.

“Commanders who have concerns about the psychological well-being of an officer can proactively refer the officer to an experienced occupational physician and psychologists”.

The officers who have spoken to theHeralddispute that this occurs. They have told of a difficulties in recognising problems and a culture that discourages seeking help.

“Generally what happens is you don’t know you’ve got a problem, you’ve got no idea, so you just keep rolling along,” Rebecca said.

“And you’ve got no idea that you’re falling apart until you hit the wall.”

Rebecca said she does not recall being offered debriefs after critical incidents.

“I’ve been to murders, almost shot people, people trying to stab me, fatal accidents, people dying on you every critical incident that you could imagine, I’ve been to, done it,” she said.

“Not once ever had I been offered anything.

“They’re meant to. It doesn’t happen.”

The NSW Police Force spokesperson said managers received “substantial training” through an applied leadership program.

“In addition an education program entitledYour Health Firstcommenced delivery in late 2015 to all ranks dealing with resilience and suicide prevention.

“A particular focus of the training is identifying the signs that either the individual or a fellow officer may be at risk and strategies to engage when concerns are raised.

“NSWPF has delivered substantial education in relation to emotional wellbeing including presentations by doctor Kevin Gilmartin, author of Emotional Survival for Law Enforcementand various literature including our Five Thingsbooklet.”

*Names were [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

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Adam Coleman focused on improving skills after another fine Wallabies outing

Developing nicely: Adam Coleman says the Wallabies never want to be out prepared in a Test. Photo: Dan MullanEdinburgh: Wallabies second-rower Adam Coleman says his sole focus is making further improvements on the training paddock following another eye-catching performance on the international stage.
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After a year in which coach Michael Cheika has treated his second-row selections like a merry-go-round ride, may finally be reaping the rewards of such an experimental method with the tall timber that is Coleman and Rory Arnold.

Welsh second-rowers Luke Charteris and Bradley Davies were thoroughly outplayed by Coleman and Arnold on Saturday in ‘s splendid 32-8 win in Cardiff.

The Wallabies won all but one (12 from 13) of their lineouts, with regular jumper Arnold giving quick ball to halfback Nick Phipps.

In one of the most improved areas since the horror twin Bledisloe Tests in Sydney and Wellington, Coleman has predominantly called the lineout – a task he has relished since being called up from the Western Force.

As for the Wales outing, Coleman is convinced the Wallabies out-prepared Wales as they dominated in all key areas in a five tries to one thrashing.

“We love to be physical, we both love to run the ball and it’s something we will work very hard on this week,” Coleman said. “Last game against the ABs [All Blacks] our shape wasn’t that great so it’s something we’ve worked very hard on this week. I thought we improved [against Wales] but we’ll look forward to the next game to improving even more.

“We don’t ever want to be out prepared and that’s something we do at training. We look at the opposition, do a lot of analysis and we thought we could play fetches and we did and it proved dividends.

“We’re really enjoying the opportunity to run the ball and run those hard lines and set up a platform for our shape and hopefully off the back of that we’ll capitalise on those opportunities.”

To your average rugby fan, lineouts might not be the most conversation-worthy topic, but Coleman is happy to admit he is a nerd in that department.

“As a lock you always enjoy lineouts,” Coleman said. “It’s like a hooker and props talking about scrums all the time… we’re constantly talking about lineouts and how we’re going to improve and how we’re going to attack different opposition and different shapes. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed and I really feel like I thrive in that situation.”

Cheika has said numerous times throughout the year his plan is to build depth and the second-row comes very much into this thinking.

Coleman and Arnold were the eighth different pairing tried this year when the ninth Test of 2016 came around against Argentina in London.

The pair have now started in the past three Wallabies Tests – more than any other duo this year. 

Big improvement: The Wallabies lineout has drastically improved since the Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington. Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung

The year after a World Cup is traditionally the time coaches clean out the closet and Coleman is one of 12 players to make his Wallabies debut since the first Test against England in June, the latest of whom was Tolu Latu on the weekend.

Latu and Coleman both have Tongan background, which is why the latter was extremely happy for his teammate.

“My family was very proud for him and I know how hard he’s worked for that and it’s so pleasing for n rugby,” Coleman said.

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China’s cheapest chemist? Watchdog probes Chemist Warehouse pay

Solly Lew at his chemist in St Kilda. Chemist Warehouse has moved in next door. Photo: Paul Jeffers The number of Chemist Warehouse outlets in has exploded in recent years. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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Solly Lew is in the fight of his commercial life.

A Fitzroy Street family pharmacist of 35 years standing, “Solly” is a St Kilda institution.

But Chemist Warehouse, the brash upstart of n pharmacy, has moved in next door.

Through its no-frills approach the giant discounter has positioned itself as the people’s champion – its mission to ensure that all ns have access to affordable health and beauty care.

Its critics, including traditional pharmacists like Mr Lew, the powerful Pharmacy Guild, and the pharmacists’ union, increasingly ask, “At what cost?”

While the desire for cheaper pharmaceuticals and health and beauty products is understandable, they say the Chemist Warehouse model is a threat to healthcare standards and employment conditions in the industry.

“They’re like the McDonald’s of the pharmacy world,” says Lew.

Those concerns are likely to be fuelled by the news that Chemist Warehouse has been under investigation over millions of dollars in unpaid wages.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the Fair Work Ombudsman is probing the underpayment of almost 6000 employees, including pharmacists, over outstanding wages totalling almost $3.6 million, owed for hours spent doing online training out of rostered hours.

The union that represents salaried pharmacists says it is not surprised.

“Chemist Warehouse always walks close to the [legal] line when it comes to workers entitlements,” says Chris Walton, the chief executive of Professionals .

Damien Gance​ is the public face of the group. By email he said a routine audit had found that staff had completed training outside work hours, and once the mistake had been discovered, all staff were given back pay.

Fairfax understands the Chemist Warehouse underpayment was limited to particular period and is not a systematic problem. Nor is it of the scale of recent underpayment scandals such as 7-Eleven.

Fairfax Media understands the underpayment was initially discovered by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A Fair Work spokesman has confirmed the discounter was “assisting with inquiries”.

“As the matter is currently operational, it is not appropriate to comment further at this time,” the spokesman said.

Since it burst onto n high streets in 2002, Chemist Warehouse has opened 350 stores which now generate revenue upwards of $3 billion. It has grabbed more than a 20 per cent share of the pharmacy market.

Its success has catapulted founders Jack Gance and Mario Verrocchi​ to the upper levels of the BRW rich list.

Like Uber and Airbnb, Chemist Warehouse is a business disrupter. It has slashed prices – hay fever tablets are now often less than half the price of other chemists, for instance, and prescription medications are often significantly cheaper than the competition. The business model appears to rely on cheap pharmaceuticals attracting customers, who then buy up big on non-dispensary items such as vitamins, hair care products and baby formula.

A 2014 report by accountants Korda Mentha found that Chemist Warehouse targets an even split between medicines and non-medical items, where the industry average of sales is 83 per cent medical.

The group – which also trades as My Chemist – has brazenly challenged and skirted industry regulations that restrict ownership of pharmacies to pharmacists themselves. The rules also limit the number and location of pharmacies in any area and restrict the number of outlets each pharmacist can own (the number varies by state).

To bypass the rules, Chemist Warehouse operates as a complex franchise network – a web of partnerships between the founding families and individual pharmacists. It allows pharmacists with little equity to establish and run their own stores under the Chemist Warehouse banner.

In return, they sign up to trading terms enforced across the group dictating how the stores are run.

So, while individual stores claim independence for regulatory reasons, ‘s largest network of pharmacies enjoys bulk buying power and the advantage of centralised marketing, human resources and training.

On the issue of wages, Chemist Warehouse has no industrial agreement, so its wage figures are not published. But Gance says his group “consistently” pays above award with generous packages comparable to or above the industry average. The claim is at odds with research by the pharmacists’ union.

A Professionals survey in 2015 found that Chemist Warehouse paid its pharmacists more than $5 an hour less than the industry average, a wage savings upwards of $10 million a year across the chain.

Gance defended his group’s dispensary standards and described Chemist Warehouse healthcare as “the absolute best … at the absolute best price … without compromise”.

But the union’s Chris Walton said that where the Pharmacy Board guidelines recommended pharmacists dispense no more than 150 to 200 prescriptions a day, he was aware that some Chemist Warehouse pharmacists were under pressure to dispense 300 prescriptions per day.

Unlike more clinical, traditional pharmacies, Chemist Warehouse outlets are boldly commercial with products ranging from dishwashing liquid to perfume stacked high in narrow aisles akin to a real wholesale warehouse.

At Chemist Warehouse the dispensary is always located to the rear so that customers are tempted, coming and going, with promises of better skin, better hair, better internal health. There are shopping baskets at the entrance and, often, a security guard.

Solly Lew points out that, unlike his own store, his new neighbour has no dedicated consultation area for dispensary customers seeking a quiet word with their chemist.

The Chemist Warehouse model has rattled an industry long protected by arguably uncompetitive rules that have kept supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths out of the lucrative drugs business.

So too has it challenged ‘s traditional pharmacy model which has delivered windfall profits to some pharmacists – at taxpayer expense – through the operation of the federal government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. In 2013 the Grattan Institute found the scheme was paying at least $1.3 billion too much for prescription drugs.

A federal review of pharmacy remuneration and location is currently under way. In his submission, Chemist Warehouse founder Jack Gance says that over 15 years, location rules that restricted the number and location of pharmacies had prevented Chemist Warehouse opening an additional 100 stores.

He rejects claims that Chemist Warehouse service is inferior and says he should be “free from regulatory constraint … to succeed and free to fail”.

Lew had been one of the beneficiaries of the old rules. Chemist Warehouse seized an opportunity to move into Fitzroy Street when he moved shop one door leaving behind a licensed chemist premises.

For decades, Lew has worked to keep his regular customers alive and well.

Now he is looking to them for support and loyalty as he goes head-to-head with the restless industry upstart. He says he is David in a battle with Goliath. “We’re only small but we’re competing.”

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