Holden, Kia pull YouTube ads over video insulting Ita

The Guide.Ita Buttrose at the Channel 10 studios in Sydney.The longevity of Ita in a business that is notable for people crashing and burning.19th April 2016.Photo: Steven Siewert Photo: Steven Siewert
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Holden and Kia have suspended all advertising from YouTube after they unwittingly paid to promote their cars alongside an offensive video that directed misogynistic insults at journalist and businesswoman Ita Buttrose.

The car makers are joining a slew of major global companies who in recent weeks have boycotted the Google-owned video hosting giant because their ads were appearing before or alongside objectionable content.

Holden and Kia pulled the pin on YouTube after it came to light their ads were appearing on a video featuring an interview with “men’s rights activist” and author Peter Lloyd on Channel 10’s Studio Ten talk show.

The video calls Buttrose, a former n of the Year, an “old hag”, an “old bag” and other explicit misogynistic insults.

Holden told Fairfax Media it had decided to pull all advertising from YouTube until it could be confident it would not appear next to objectionable content.

“We value our good relationship with Google but in line with General Motor’s global response and Holden’s diversity stance, we have instructed our media agency to temporarily suspend all advertising on YouTube until we are confident Google can protect our brand from inappropriate or offensive content,” a Holden spokesman said.

“We’ll work closely with our partners at Google to achieve this.”

A spokesman for Kia Motors said its “programmatic advertising” had been suspended as soon as the company was made aware of the video.

“It will remain suspended until such time as we can meet with Google to further clarify the application of this type of advertising,” he said.

The moves came after major media agencies had said last week they were keeping a close eye on the scandal.

Google has been embroiled in a global controversy over ads being placed on objectionable YouTube videos and has scrambled to reassure its customers it can stop them from being associated with anti-semitic, racist and other extremist content.

Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Sainsbury’s, Toyota, Volkswagen, BBC and the British government have all pulled ads from YouTube in recent weeks.

Google’s parent company Alphabet’s market value fell by $31 billion last week.

Faster cars, but what a drag GP racing has become

If the n Grand Prix was representative of the much-vaunted new era of Formula One, long-suffering followers are in for yet another season lacking exciting racing.
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While the revamped rules returned Ferrari to victory for the first time since 2015, on the basis of Sunday’s largely processional 57 laps around the Albert Park lakeside circuit, the faster cars have not improved the on-track action.

At least Sebastian Vettel’s despatch of Lewis Hamilton was a promising early sign that Ferrari has used the technical upheaval to become a serious threat to Mercedes-Benz’s crushing domination of the past three years.

But while the competitive order at the very top of F1 may have altered, the move to wider tyres and more aerodynamic downforce did nothing for the spectacle of the racing.

In fact, as widely predicted, the changes made overtaking moves even more difficult than before – so much so that there was only one position change involving a pass in racing on the track (excluding the dash from the start to the first corner) during the whole event.

Vettel overtook Hamilton in the pits thanks to Ferrari’s superior strategy, stretching his first stint six laps further to give him the decisive advantage.

It was a great and popular effort by Ferrari and Vettel, erasing the memory of the strategic blunder that cost them last year’s Melbourne GP, but it wasn’t an exciting battle.

The only actual overtaking not involving a pit stop was on the 52nd lap – and even that was between backmarkers as Esteban Ocon muscled past Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso, who was then also immediately relegated by Hulkenberg.

The lack of overtaking and close wheel-to-wheel racing was the predictable result of making the cars much quicker by significantly increasing grip in the braking zones and through the corners.

The new, more muscular breed of F1 racers were certainly much quicker – although not to the record-breaking extent expected – and a lot more physical for the drivers.

They could push harder for longer on the grippier, more durable Pirelli tyres and for those who understand such nuances, it was clear that the likes of Vettel, Hamilton, Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen at the front of the field were racing on the limit all the way.

However, as a spectacle, the race was an indictment of F1’s reliance on over-complicated technology that is a known barrier to close competition.

It is likely that things will improve as the 20-race season wears on, with the teams learning more and extracting more speed from the new cars.

There is already hope that Ferrari is going to fight Mercedes for the world championship, with fans praying Vettel’s strong start is not a false dawn and that he will wage a season-long battle with Hamilton for the crown.

Fans around the world – and especially in – that Red Bull Racing also catches up, putting Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen into the fight.

The big crowd at Albert Park – by all accounts, a major increase on recent years – was bitterly disappointed by Ricciardo’s early exit on top of a pre-race problem that saw him make a delayed start from the pit lane.

Whether spectators – and, indeed, the worldwide TV audience – appreciated the extra lap speed of this year’s machines is questionable, particularly in the absence of the local hero trying to fight his way through to the tail of the front-runners following his qualifying miscue.

One wonders, too, what the big bosses of F1’s new owner Liberty Media thought of their new acquisition, which needs to be a major sporting spectacle to justify their multi-billion dollar investment.

Long-time F1 czar Bernie Ecclestone has been replaced by a triumvirate tasked with making the sport more fan- and viewer-friendly.

While F1 chief executive Chase Carey and his commercial lieutenant Shane Bratches would’ve been impressed by the scale and action-packed program of the n GP, they should be concerned about the lack of exciting racing in the main attraction.

The other member of the trio, F1’s new sporting boss Ross Brawn, has a lot to think about as he plots how to make the racing closer and more visceral, and spread the competition more evenly through the field.

There is much to be done.

After the Trumpcare setback, an eerie silence from the White House

Washington: Measured against past meltdowns, Friday’s humiliating healthcare defeat should have sparked savage finger-pointing and name calling.
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Instead it’s as though shock has numbed political instincts in the White House and the GOP leadership.

The presidential Twitter accounts are idling, rather than in overdrive. And instead of score-settling leaks, White House aides busied themselves on Sunday insisting a Saturday tweet by President Donald Trump, which was read in many quarters as a jab at House Speaker Paul Ryan, was anything but.

The usual parade of GOP talking heads emerged for the Sunday morning TV talk shows. But dire prognostications by some after just 65 days of this presidency were left to hang in the ether. There was no real fightback, no serious counter punches – just a whole lot of handwringing acknowledging a crisis that, for now at least, seems to have stumped the party.

“I don’t know that we could pass a Mother’s Day resolution right now,” Florida Republican lawmaker Matt Gaetz said before offering a doomsday scenario in which Democrats might win enough seats in the 2018 midterm elections to seek Trump’s impeachment.

It is not surprising that administration insiders described Trump as “tired in every way, including in spirit ??? a weariness about him that had not been present a day earlier” as he retired to the White House residence on Friday evening.

The healthcare debacle had come on top of him being stymied twice by the courts on his attempted migration and refugee crackdowns, and on the sacking of national security adviser Mike Flynn.

This is not how it was meant to be.

In his book The Art of the Deal, Trump boasts: “Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.”

At various stages of the 2016 election campaign and more recently, he promised a healthcare deal that would be “unbelievable”, “beautiful”, “terrific”, “less expensive and much better”.

In a speech to last year’s GOP convention, he famously declared: “I alone can fix it.”

And he claimed on Friday to a gaggle of reporters in the Oval Office that he had “never said repeal and replace [Obamacare] within 64 days” was at odds with a February 2016 tweet, “We will immediately repeal and replace Obamacare – and nobody can do that like me. We will save $’s and have much better healthcare!”

The nub of the problem that has seemingly left the administration speechless is this – if Trump could not close the deal with a fractious GOP congressional conference on a historically difficult issue such as healthcare, how can he convince it to back his huge plans for tax reform and infrastructure investment?

Few were happy with a GOP healthcare bill that seemed to become politics for politics sake, rather than a genuine effort to rewrite a major piece of legislation. Trump’s first reaction to its demise was to blame Democrats who refused to support it.

Yet when Congress voted on Obamacare seven years earlier, no Republicans voted for that bill.

In his weekly address to the nation on Saturday, Trump didn’t even mention healthcare.

By Sunday, Trump had turned on the GOP’s Freedom Caucus, which had refused to back the Republican bill, despite the President’s relentless lobbying, cajoling and bullying to have the 30-odd members of the caucus fall into line. In his only tweet for the day, he said: “Democrats are smiling in DC that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & O[bama]care.”

But if the Freedom Caucus was discomforted, it did not strike back.

Arkansas Senator and Trump supporter Tom Cotton argued on CBS’s Face the Nation that defeat was about more than the Freedom Caucus, saying: “The problem is not with a specific faction in the House, it’s with the bill.”

Trump supporters acknowledged too that taming the Washington political beast remains a challenge for Trump.

His budget director Mick Mulvaney told NBC’s Meet the Press: “We haven’t been able to change Washington in the first 65 days.”

His chief of staff Reince Priebus told Fox News Sunday: “At the end of the day, I believe it’s time for the party to start governing ??? I think the President’s disappointed in a number of people that he thought were loyal to him that weren’t.”

And, in the minutes after Friday’s defeat, House Speaker and author of the doomed healthcare bill Paul Ryan told reporters: “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with growing pains ??? and, well, we’re feeling those growing pains today.”

Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman injected a sense of urgency into the debate: “Your base walked away from [the bill], the White House wouldn’t own it, and the leadership was caught flat-footed,” he told Politico magazine.

“What I hope is that folks sober up to what this episode says about our readiness to govern. Because come Monday morning, the country’s going to want you to have some answers to some things, and you better be prepared.”

Former House speaker and Trump loyalist Newt Gingrich was not so gloomy.

Refusing to accept that Trump would be hobbled by the healthcare setback, he predicted that the impending appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and Friday’s reversal of the previous administration’s order to halt the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would be cheered by Trump’s supporters.

“He was the President this morning. He will be the President tomorrow. He has all the advantages that that implies,” Gingrich said. “He’s having a better presidency than anybody in the Washington media thinks.”

Left out of that equation is that, as Trump moves ahead with the rest of his agenda – winding back Obama era environmental regulations, building a border wall and more – his opponents in Congress, the community and in an army of activist lobbies will have learnt from the healthcare crisis that the game can be played against this President.

Resistance may have taken on new meaning.

Farah favoured to keep Blues spot but Wallace enters the frame

State of Origin is two months away but NSW coach Laurie Daley and his adviser Peter Sterling have already had two selection meetings since round one to compile a list of names under consideration.
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Manly brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic, as well as St George Illawarra forward Paul Vaughan, are among the list of rookies under consideration.

So, too, is veteran Penrith rake Peter Wallace, who has now moved behind incumbent Robbie Farah in the race for the Blues No.9 jersey after a strong start to the season for the Panthers.

NSW have plenty of depth in most positions to cover for injuries, however a shortage of quality hookers means they can’t afford an injury to Farah – who has been told by the coach that he remains an integral part of his plans for 2017.

“The chat that I had with Robbie was that if he’s playing well and he’s the best hooker, then we’ll select him,” Daley said.

“If he’s not, we’ll go in another direction. It wouldn’t worry me if I had to go with Peter Wallace. He’d do a really good job. We just haven’t got those young hookers pushing them. Peatsy [Nathan Peats] was underneath but he got injured and won’t be back until round eight or nine, so that’s put him back a bit.”

Sterling, who has replaced Bob Fulton as Blues adviser, will decide on the make-up of the team in consultation with the coach. There was a suggestion last year that Fulton played an integral part in Dylan Walker earning his maiden Origin jersey, however Daley insists he always has and will continue to get the team he wants.

“We might have started off having different opinions but at the end of the meeting we always came away with the team we both agree on,” Daley said of Fulton.

“I’m sure that will be the same working with Pete. I’ve certainly taken everything that Pete says on board. We’ll discuss a lot of things. I have a huge amount of time for him as an analyst and football judge. He will certainly have an influence on the make-up of the team and how we go about things. He will do whatever he wants to do or as little as he wants to do.

“When it comes to selecting the team, both Pete and I will sit down and nut it out. At the moment he’s got an idea, I have an idea and we’ve tossed up some players who we are looking at and that will continue for the next seven or eight weeks. We’re speaking about who is playing well, who needs to lift and who is in the frame and who may not be in the frame. We talk a lot about everything. It’s similar to what I did with Bozo.”

Jarryd Hayne is a few weeks away from returning from an ankle injury, but he is no certainty to be picked. Daley said he wants to see Hayne string together consecutive games at a high standard.

“A big-game player but hasn’t played any footy,” Daley said.

“If he is going to be part of Origin he needs to be back playing, and hopefully he can do that. You want him to be playing well. He’s a guy that if he is playing well without being a superstar, of course he’ll be someone we’ll look at getting in.

“Someone like Tom Trbojevic – we’re looking at him, too. He’s a really good young player and playing well at the moment. He has to work hard and not believe everything that’s being written about him at the moment because things can change pretty quickly. The best advice I can give him is not to listen to anyone else’s opinion but his coach’s.”

Energy retailers say PM’s inquiry will bust price-gouging ‘myth’

Malcolm Turnbull has refused to rule out further regulating electricity prices to get a better deal for consumers as energy retailers declared his new inquiry will “bust the myth” there is any price-gouging in the market.
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The government said the n Competition and Consumer Commission investigation could ultimately save households hundreds of millions of dollars by empowering consumers with better transparency and choice.

Consumer groups welcomed the move but Labor, and crossbench kingmaker Nick Xenophon said it was too little too late.

The latest phase in the electricity debate came as new opinion polling on power generation finds nearly two-thirds of ns want the country to move away from coal and embrace other energy sources.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows just 33 per cent of ns believe the country should continue to make use of coal-generated power in the future and 61 per cent believe we should rely only on other energy sources.

Support for continued coal-generation of power is higher in NSW (38 per cent) and Queensland (37 per cent), and also higher in non-metro areas (37 per cent compared to 31 per cent in cities).

Coalition voters are sharply divided on the issue, with 51 per cent supporting continued use of coal and 43 per cent advocating other sources. The majority of Labor (70 per cent) and Green (93 per cent) voters believe coal should be relegated to the past.

However, Resources Minister Matt Canavan said had the highest-quality coal in the world and it would continue to be part of the energy and export mix for a long time to come.

“We’re lucky that God has given us very high-quality coal, and we should make it available to the rest of the world to provide power, to help other economies create economic growth,” he said on Monday.

Officially announcing his ACCC inquiry, Mr Turnbull refused to rule out further regulating the industry to keep prices down.

“There is a lot of regulation in the electricity market already,” he pointed out. “You’ll no doubt see recommendations from this ACCC review and we will obviously take them all on board and consider them very carefully.”

Mr Turnbull pointed to a Grattan Institute report that found there were excessive profit margins being made by electricity retailers, and recommended the government re-regulate the sector to protect consumers.

But the energy sector’s peak body, the Energy Council, said they were confident the inquiry “will bust the myth that competitive retail electricity markets are the problem”.

Chief executive Matthew Warren said prices were rising “because we are running out of electricity” as a result of inconsistent policy.

“Competitive retail electricity markets are working effectively and efficiently, delivering choice and savings,” he said. “Retail margins are variable, competition is cut-throat. The absence of other major retail businesses in the electricity market shows how tough this market is to operate in successfully.”

Competition cannot guarantee the lowest possible price for every customer at any point in time, nor can it guarantee that prices will not rise overall, he said.Labor welcomed the government’s “belated” announcement.

But crossbench senator Nick Xenophon said the inquiry would not cut it, given it is not due to report until mid-2018.

“Twelve months is too long to wait for the thousands and thousands of businesses around this country that are on a knife-edge because of energy costs in ,” he said.

Rosemary Sinclair from Energy Consumers said the inquiry would investigate whether the market was working for consumers, pointing to the complicated way retail electricity offers are often structured.The Ai Group said the inquiry would help get to the bottom of how the retail electricity market was performing.

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Crucial support for company tax hinges on Turnbull backing for emissions scheme

The federal government could secure three crucial votes from the Nick Xenophon Team for its company tax cut plan, but only if it adopts a politically contentious emissions intensity scheme for the electricity sector.
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Support for the $48 billion company tax cut plan from Pauline Hanson’s four One Nation senators was on hold late on Monday because of a dispute in the sugar industry in Queensland.

Senator Xenophon has, to date, indicated his party would only back a cut in the company tax to 27.5 per cent for companies with a turnover of up to $10 million.

The federal government wants to cut company taxes from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over 10 years for all businesses. Labor will only back a cut for companies with a turnover of $2 million and the Greens do not support the policy, which effectively puts the fate of the plan in the hands of the Senate crossbench, where One Nation and the Xenophon Team both have the numbers to block it.

A vote on the tax package is expected in the Senate by the end of the week, and as negotiations with the Xenophon Team and One Nation continue, Senator Xenophon suggested he could go further if the government reversed course and backed an emissions intensity scheme.

Such a move would be politically risky for the Turnbull government.

An emissions intensity scheme is a form of carbon pricing that puts a limit on how much carbon an electricity plant can emit for every unit of electricity it generates.

It is widely backed by business, farming and environmental groups and was briefly considered by the government in December, but then rapidly dropped after a backbench revolt.

However, Senator Xenophon said on Monday that his party: “will support company tax cuts for businesses up to $10 million, but nothing beyond that, until we can sort out the energy crisis in this country”.

He criticised the government’s announcement on Monday of an inquiry by the competition watchdog into retail electricity prices as a “lame excuse” for action and demanded “immediate action”.

“The fact that Minister [Josh] Frydenberg has walked away from the emissions intensity approach, one endorsed by Malcolm Turnbull when Malcolm Turnbull commissioned Frontier Economics eight years go in relation to an alternative approach to carbon pricing is just extraordinary.”

Asked what specifically he wanted in return for potentially backing a tax cut for companies with a turnover of more than $10 million, Senator Xenophon said: “It would have to be a guarantee [of an emissions intensity scheme] that is locked in in terms of bipartisan support. You would actually unleash billions of dollars of investment in this country.”

Senator Xenophon also said that he would require a national approach that would see some gas reserved for domestic use as part of a potential tax deal.

Treasurer Scott Morrison defended the company tax plan on Monday and indicated the government would press ahead with the entire package, while suggesting the dispute between Queensland Sugar Limited, the co-operative that sells sugar overseas and Wilmar, the company that mills it, was close to resolution. iFrameResize({checkOrigin:false},’#pez_iframe’);

Senator Hanson warned on Monday her party, which has indicated it supports a tax cut for companies with a turnover of up to to $50 million, would not vote on legislation until the sugar dispute was resolved.

Late on Monday, her office confirmed they planned to continue to abstain from voting on government legislation but added they had held “significant talks with the government regarding their company tax proposal”.

Mr Morrison said One Nation was a “bit behind the play” and that a draft deal between Queensland cane growers and sugar refiner Wilmar would be “on the table today”.

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Shops and malls are working harder for the retail dollar

Volatility at the petrol pump has emerged as a major area of concern for shopping centre managers, due to the wild fluctuations in price over recent months.
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With the fight for the retail dollar intensifying, any changes in fuel prices, mobile phone contracts and the April 1 health insurance levy rises, have put retailers on edge to come up with new ways of enticing consumers to spend.

Landlords are tackling the issue through a change in tenancy mix at their malls with more emphasis on services such as Medibank Private outlets, food, beauty salons and nail bars – all things that cannot be easily bought online but are seen as semi-non-discretionary spending.

The rise of online shopping, fuelled by the well-publicised arrival of Amazon, has added to concerns of weaker sales by managers of shopping centres, according to JLL’s 16th Retail Centre Managers’ Survey, done last month across 109 JLL-managed retail shopping centres nationally.

Overall, centre managers have again expressed a relatively subdued outlook for the year ahead in terms of turnover expectations.

The survey found 47 per cent of respondents expected some sales growth in the year ahead, down from 52 per cent in August 2016 and 55 per cent in February 2016.

According to JLL research, this was the first survey since May 2013 that less than half the respondents expected growth in sales over the year ahead.

Supermarket price discounting has also been particularly strong and was noted as a concern by centre managers, who saw annual neighbourhood centre sales decline 1.3 per cent.

Most of the centres in the survey were neighbourhood and sub-regional centres. Fuel volatility

According to the n Institute of Petroleum, the national average n price of unleaded petrol fell 0.5?? to 130.1?? a litre in the past week.

CommSec’s chief economist Craig James said the petrol discounting cycle (from highs to lows) in southern and eastern capital cities has stretched to more than a month.

“In fact the last Melbourne cycle was 53 days. Petrol prices now stay at the lows for a short period and then can lift 20?? a litre in the space of three-four days before starting the downtrend again,” Mr James said.

He said the volatile conditions are expected to continue as investors monitor the global supply/demand outlook.

The bright spot was that inquiry from fresh food and food catering tenants remains buoyant.

Head of property & asset management at JLL, Richard Fennell, said, not only is this where inquiry is relatively strong, a quality food offering, including cafes, gives customers a reason to linger longer in centres.

“Key concerns impacting trading performance in the year ahead are competition, online retailing and fuel prices, which have fluctuated wildly over recent months,” Mr Fennell said.

“On balance, the results of the latest Centre Managers’ Survey mirrors recent economic and consumer sentiment results that have been reported in the market, including a 0.5 per cent contraction in gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2016.”

JLL’s director, strategic consulting, David Snoswell said while the survey results was similar to the same time last year, the volatility of fuel prices and the fast growth of online shopping, were having an impact on the outlook for the centre managers.

Overall, retail trade across grew a modest 3.5 per cent in 2016.

“When new centre openings, expansions of existing centres and the continued expansion of global retailers such as Costco, Aldi and fast fashion labels is taken into account, competition for the retail dollar is very strong,” Mr Snoswell said.

“The shift in shopping habits to online and the changes in costs, such as the volatile fuel prices, have happened in a relatively short time, making it more front and centre for the malls and the managers.”

Myer surges on mystery shopper taking 10 per cent stake

Myer’s shares have soared 18 per cent after a mystery buyer snapped up a $93 million stake in the department store chain sparking speculation one of ‘s oldest companies could be taken over.
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Interests linked to billionaire rag trader Solomon Lew are understood to be behind the purchases of a 10 per cent stake in Myer.

Potential buyers from South Africa have also been rumoured to be interested, possibly as a result of Myer’s rival David Jones being bought out by South African retailer Woolworths in 2014.

In that deal, Mr Lew – through intermediary Pershing Securities – snapped up a 10 per cent blocking stake in David Jones ahead of Woolworths’ takeover offer for the department store owner. He later sold into the takeover offer after Woolworths agreed to buy out his minority stake in Country Road.

Fuelling speculation that Mr Lew was behind the purchase of the stake in Myer was Pershing’s purchase of 195 million shares in Myer on Monday.

A scrip or scrip plus cash deal could be on the cards with shares in Mr Lew’s listed retailer Premier Investments worth about nine or 10 times the value of Myer’s shares.

Premier Investments has more than enough cash resources to take over Myer according to sources, with Premier Investments holding around $300 million in cash. It could also sell its stake in Breville to partially fund the purchase.

Another foreign buyer or a private equity player could also be sniffing around the company, according to sources.

The market for Myer’s shares began bubbling in afternoon trade on Monday after a block of 81.7 million shares crossed for $1.15 apiece, according to Bloomberg data.

The stock closed a $1.26 after significant trading in the company’s shares pushing the company’s market capitalisation to nearly $1.3 billion.

A spokeswoman for Mr Lew declined to comment. A spokesman for Myer did not return calls.

Myer recently delivered a solid first half result in March with its profits up 5.3 per cent to $62.8 million. The company is widely tipped to report its first lift in full-year profit since 2010 in September.

Sources said Myer is attractive to buyers due to its long store leases and relatively low rent on a per square metre basis.

On this basis, a buyer for the entirety of the company may look to use Myer’s store network to leverage its brands and increase its footprint in .

However the purchase also comes at a time when apparel retailers in are struggling with a clutch of mid tier groups going under in recent months.

Market watchers said it was also possible that the purchaser of the stake will be passive in their investment, taking a wait-and-see approach to the outcome of Myer chief executive Richard Umbers’ strategy to lift sales and rationalise stores.

Myer is one of the most shorted stocks on the n Securities Exchange with 15 per cent of its free float shares shorted as of March 23. This was an improvement on the 18 per cent of the company’s free float shares that were shorted in late February.

“This is one of the most heavily shorted stocks on the market, and it’s started a scramble,” said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy told Bloomberg.

“This is a real pain for short sellers.”

Myer was founded in 1900 by Sidney Myer and his brother Elcon Myer. The brothers’ first store was in Bendigo.

Within a few decades the family had created a large network of department stores.

Surging cash bank prompts big South 32 buy-back

Delays in prospective acquisitions combined with continued high commodity prices has prompted South32 to buy back close to 5 per cent of its shares for $US500 million even before it pays its recently declared interim dividend.
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The miner, which was spun out of BHP Billiton, has been strongly tipped to launch a share buy-back amid resurgent cashflows thanks to the surprise lift in many commodity prices over the past year or so.

“We recently explored the capital allocation possibilities for companies under our coverage … and concluded that an on-market share buyback would be the most likely option,” RBC analyst Paul Hissey told clients on the news of South 32’s planned buy-back.

The surge in the manganese and coking coal prices has given South32’s earnings a huge fillip, with the coking coal price in particular rising to more than $US200 from $US100 a tonne. Current talks in Tokyo are expected to see the quarterly price hold at around $US160 a tonne.

South32’s share price fell 1.84 per cent on Monday to $2.67.

Also adding to the miner’s cash reserves was the decision just over a month ago by the competition watchdog, the ACCC, to block pending a review the planned $US200 million ($262 million) acquisition of Metropolitan Collieries, which would have expanded the miner’s coking coal acreage in the Illawarra, south of Sydney, as well as doubling its interest in the Port Kembla coal loader.

“South32 would become the Illawarra’s only supplier of large volumes of coking coal in the medium term, following the expected closure of Glencore’s Tahmoor mine,” the watchdog noted when it stepped in last month.

Additionally, the recovery in the global price for manganese, which is mostly used to make specialty steel, has undermined earlier optimism that South32 would be able to take full control of its manganese operations in which the South African miner Anglo American has a large minority stake, which has also left the n miner with additional cash on hand.

South32 has a controlling 60 per cent shareholding in Samancor with Anglo holding the balance. The venture operates mines in and South Africa. Anglo put its coal, manganese and iron ore operations on the block a year ago but the subsequent recovery in prices has resulted in this speculation fading.

When it ruled off its books at the end of December, South32 had net cash of $US859 million, with $US200 million earmarked for the Metropolitan Colliery purchase and $US192 million for the interim dividend.

“South32 remains a cash flow machine,” Citi noted in a report issued to clients after the release of the miner’s interim earnings in mid-February as it forecast net cash to reach $US1.4 billion by mid-year.

It forecast as much as $US1.6 billion could be returned to shareholders in fiscal 2018 while still keeping $US500 million in hand “for elusive value accretive M&A”.

RBC’s Mr Hissey said: “South32 could be one of the companies best placed to distribute excess cash flows to shareholders, given a lack of internal capital options, which could consume the additional circa $US850-1200 million excess cash we think is likely to materialise over calender year 2017-18.

“We note that under our base case after deducting 500 million shares bought back at $2.72/share, net cash at the end of fiscal 2018 would be just under $US1.5b. This would leave South32 with sufficient headroom to pursue other growth opportunities, should they present.”

NSW ex-cop accused of advising organised criminals how to beat police detection

A former NSW Police officer has been caught allegedly supplying kilograms of cocaine and advising organised criminals on how to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
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David Redshaw, 32, was a general duties officer with the force before his departure about six years ago.

In the past two weeks he had registered two businesses in his name, one for labour hire and the other for private investigations.

But those ventures look to be short-lived following his arrest in a sweeping organised crime sting that uncovered more than 15 kilograms of drugs, 10 firearms and a booby-trapped gun safe.

The Moorebank man’s arrest last week marked a significant development for Strike Force Bugam, which for 10 months had been investigating an international money laundering network and its clients.

Among that clientele were Asian crime figures, bikies and significant organised crime targets.

As well as his involvement in the alleged drug supply, police say Redshaw, who served as a police officer for four years, was giving tips to other members of the syndicate on how they could avoid detection.

Police allege Redshaw, and Robert Fullagar, 29, were using the money laundering network to siphon through the proceeds of their drug deals.

It is further alleged the pair sourced their drugs from two accused drug mules who swallowed pellets packed with cocaine before boarding flights from Thailand to late last year.

The cocaine was then taken to a warehouse in Yennora where it was re-packaged and distributed through a criminal network in Sydney or couriered over the border to Melbourne.

Cash from the drug sales was then transported back to Sydney, where it was processed through money remitters and funnelled offshore.

One of the suspected money couriers was arrested in January after highway patrol officers pulled over his car near Goulburn and found $1.5 million in cash hidden in $10,000 bundles throughout the vehicle.

This side of the network was allegedly linked to Vietnamese hotelier Thi Lan Phuong Pham, a 40-year-old single mother accused of running the international money laundering operation police were targeting.

Last Wednesday night, officers pulled over a tow truck towing a Hyundai van on the Hume Highway at Marulan.

Inside the van, officers allegedly uncovered eight kilograms of cocaine, 6.2 kilograms of methamphetamine and a Glock pistol originally part of a huge gun importation from Germany more than five years ago.

It will be alleged that Redshaw and Fullagar put the gun and the drugs inside a toolbox before welding it shut, placing it in the back of the van and organising a tow truck to collect it.

The drugs were on their way to Melbourne when police intercepted.

The gun was later found to be one of hundreds.imported from Germany between 2011 and 2012. The firearms were dispersed across Sydney’s underworld, changing hands regularly and popping up in high-profile shootings and armed hold-ups.

Hours after the drugs and handgun were found in the van, police arrested Redshaw at his Moorebank home.

During the following two days, dozens of police raided different properties in East Hills, Moorebank, Miranda and Yennora.

At the sprawling Yennora factory, officers found nine guns, a bulletproof vest, MDMA, more ice and cocaine and steroids.

The n Defence Force had to be called in after three military-grade booby traps were found in a gun safe at Redshaw’s house.

Redshaw and Fullagar, both charged with commercial drug supply and criminal group offences, have been refused bail and are due in Campbelltown Local Court on May 10.

Strike Force Bugam is led by the NSW Organised Crime Squad and n Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The three-way race for the Socceroos No.1 spot

has rarely had a shortage of quality goalkeepers, but rarely has the national team had all its best stoppers fit, in form and playing regularly at their clubs. When Mark Bosnich was shining for Aston Villa in the English Premier League, Mark Schwarzer was languishing on the benches of Dresden and Kaiserslauten in the Bundesliga.
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Had Zeljko Kalac opted to sign for AS Roma, Udinese or Fulham as a first-choice goalkeeper rather than move to AC Milan in 2005, Schwarzer’s position would have been under much greater threat leading into the 2006 World Cup.

Now, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is facing a headache few before him have had to deal with: selecting one from three strong goalkeepers for the crucial World Cup Qualifier against UAE on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old Mat Ryan has emerged as ‘s first choice option between the posts having played 17 of the past 24, with most of those seven games only missed due to injury. However, his stranglehold on the No.1 jersey could be under threat by the re-emergence of Mitch Langerak whose stellar form for Stuttgart in the second tier of Germany has put him back in the frame for a starting position with the national team.

Sydney FC goalkeeper Danny Vukovic is the outsider making a late charge but impressed ‘s goalkeeping coach Tony Franken since coming into camp following his role in the Sky Blues’ premiership win this season.

By contrast, Ryan endured a difficult spell this season after struggling to break through into the first team at Spanish giants Valencia before moving to Belgian club Genk on loan in January to gain game time. He’s regained his match fitness, playing 11 games since his move but it couldn’t prevent him losing his place to Langerak for ‘s 1-1 draw with Iraq last week.

“I thought Mitch was good, he’s deserved a crack at it. We kind of knew what kind of game it was going to be. I just thought with the ground conditions the way they were, [Iraq] were going to go direct. We figured there will be a fair few crosses coming in and that’s really Mitch’s strength,” Postecoglou said.

The decision has not been made yet whether Langerak will retain his position for the vital qualifier against UAE at Allianz Stadium but the race is on now that Langerak is fit, playing regularly and in form.

“[Ryan] hasn’t let us down in the past either and in the end it’s good to know we’ve got two goalkeepers because, to be fair in recent times Maty’s deserved his position but we’ve never really had Mitch in any sort of condition where we’ve had an alternative there,” Postecoglou said.

“We never had Bosnich up and running at the same time as Schwarzer and Mitch was a bit like that as well where he never had a good run at a club or he’s been injured,” Postecoglou said. “What we do want is with Mitch, next year if he keeps doing well he’ll be playing in the Bundesliga and with Maty, we are not sure but we hope he gets his future sorted out. But, you don’t want to go into another World Cup campaign with just one goalkeeper in your sights.”

EDITORIAL: Hunter disability group Lifestyle Solutions and Four Corners

MONDAY night’s edition of Four Corners –titled Fighting the System –took a critical look at the way that Hunter-based Lifestyle Solutions and other organisations have handled their responsibilities in caring for people with disability.
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In its investigation, Four Corners has highlighted the deaths of five people in the care of Lifestyle Solutions;four of them from the Hunter. It has also spoken to various people unhappy with how their family members have been cared for –the same sort of concerns that theNewcastle Herald has raised in recent years.

Although the evidence obtained by Four Corners is troubling in the extreme, the problems at Lifestyle Solutions need to be seen in the broader context of the massive national shakeup that has been triggered by the adoption of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Promoted as a revolution in disability funding, the NDIS has indeed given people with disability a degree of choice in how they receive disability services. But its biggest impact probably lies with the decisions taken by NSW and most other state and territory governments to dismantle their disability and home care departments as part of their negotiations with Canberra to build this new federally administered model.

This is not to say that the private sector is not capable of good care. Indeed, many of the private agencies that comprise this sector had their beginnings as small organisations formed by the families of the people needing care.

But as the Four Corners investigation and recent Herald articles about shortcomings in disability carebear out, there are real concerns that the sector is growing so quickly that it is difficult to keep checks and balances in place. Lifestyle Solutions, for example, has gone from revenues of less than $10 million a decade ago to $124 million last year, almost all of it from governments.

The NDIS’s likely annual costs have gone from $22 billion to almost $30 billion a year, and almost all of it will be spent with organisations such as Lifestyle Solutions.

With new care organisations being registered seemingly every day –and with government backup disappearing just as quickly –this is a crucial time for those organisations electing to look after some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Unfortunately, good intentions do not always guarantee good outcomes.

ISSUE: 38,450

Hunter drive-by shootings: detectives investigating reprisal bikie attacks as tensions escalate

UNDER FIRE: A car parked in the driveway of a home on Conder Crescent, Metford, was sprayed with bullets in a drive-by on Monday morning.DETECTIVES are investigating tit-for-tat bikie attacks as bad blood between members of the Hunter’s outlaw bikie gangs continues to escalate with a second drive-by shooting in just days.
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UNDER FIRE: The Nomads’ Islington clubhouse was sprayed with bullets at the weekend.

In the latest shooting, a home on Conder Crescent in the Maitland suburb of Metford was sprayed with bullets from multiple weapons in the early hours of Monday morning, in what is understood to be a reprisal attack on an ex-Nomad who later defected to the Finks.

There were no injuries in the Metford drive-by, despite the man’s young family being home at the time.

It is the second targeted gun attack in the Hunter in three days, after the Nomads’ Islington clubhouse was shot at multiple times about10.30pm on Saturday.

And it comes after two violent assaults; one at the Anytime Fitness gym in Kotara on Friday, and another in Honeysucklethe next night.

Three Nomads members, who areaccused of being separately involved in the assaults, were all granted bail.

Kane Benjamin Tamplin, 26, appeared in court on Monday, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm stemming from an alleged assault on two Sydney men, aged 42 and 40, in a Honeysuckle hotel on Saturday night.

According to police, Tamplin is accused of head-butting and punching the 42-year-old man.

Tamplin’s solicitor, Iain Bruce, applied for bail on his behalf and it was granted by Magistrate Robert Stone.

His matter was adjourned to May.

Dylan Britliffe, 32, who police said was a member of the Nomads, was charged with affray and reckless wounding in company in relation to the alleged Honeysuckle hotel brawl.

Britliffe is accused of hitting the 40-year-old Sydney man in the side of the neck with a glass about 7.15pm.

The 40-year-oldman suffered a deep laceration to his neck and fell to the ground, where his head was allegedly stomped on, police said.

Britliffe was granted conditional bail in Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday, withhismatter adjourned to next week.

Blake Kevin Martin, 26, of Branxton, who is alleged to have used a steel bar to basha rival Finks memberat a Kotara gym about 4.30pm onFriday, was also granted conditional bail on Sunday.His matter was adjourned to next week.

Police are let to lay charges over either of the shootings.