Tech and media entrepreneur Justin Milne appointed chair of national broadcaster

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Justin Milne, the new chairman of the ABC, is a former filmmaker and serial entrepreneur who has been thinking about how television could be delivered over the internet for more than 20 years.
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Milne emerged as the government’s anticipated pick to helm the public broadcaster on Tuesday. He comes having carved a career rich in technology and broadcasting as well as blue chip corporate experience.

In an interview in 1995 about the potential for shopping via CD-ROM or over the internet, Mr Milne said: “Over time, new media will become the province of cash-rich, time-poor people, who will be prepared to pay to get the information and entertainment they want. Free-to-air TV will increasingly become the province of cash-poor, time-rich people.”

When he made those comments he was a co-founder of Globe Media, a content company that developed the first online car-shopping site in for Sydney City Toyota, including a classifieds section for selling used cars. Before that he was an Adelaide-based documentary maker.

After Globe Media, Milne went on to be a director of Microsoft’s MSN in , before leaving to start up his own company InfoBox, which was soon shut down by funder Kjerulf Ainsworth due to a lack of returns.

He resurfaced as head of datacasting at OzEmail in April 1998, after the internet company had listed on NASDAQ and when it wanted to buy digital spectrum and become a major datacasting player.

In December 1998 OzEmail was purchased by WorldCom (now part of Verizon) for $520 million – a deal that famously turned OzEmail’s then chairman and now Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s $500,000 investment into $57 million.

Mr Milne became general manager of OzEmail by 1999 and was soon appointed chief executive.

But in November 2002 he jumped ship to rival Telstra, where former chief executive Ziggy Switkowski (now chair of NBN Co) recruited Mr Milne to run the retail internet BigPond division, which soon absorbed Telstra Media, the division that owns Telstra’s 50 per cent stake in Foxtel. (OzEmail was purchased by iiNet in 2005 after World Com went bankrupt in 2002.)

Mr Milne spent eight years at Telstra, where he introduced the T-Box – Telstra’s low-cost internet pay TV platform – before leaving in March 2010 to join the directors’ circuit.

Since leaving Telstra Mr Milne has been a director of the Sydney Children’s Hospital and Basketball .

In 2011 he became deputy chair of Quickflix after it purchased BigPond’s customers and library of DVDs. Mr Milne cut his ties with Quickflix in late 2012.

Former chair of Quickflix Stephen Langsford says of Mr Milne’s new appointment that he “brings to the ABC board passion and understanding of media, content and digital technology”.

Mr Milne is also non-executive chairman of ASX-listed accounting software company MYOB and of Netcomm Wireless, which recently won a multimillion contract to supply NBN Co with equipment for its fibre-to-the-curb [FTCC] rollout. And he is a director of Members Equity Bank.

He sits on the board of gaming giant Tabcorp, where he has been a member of the Tabcorp Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee and Tabcorp Nomination Committee since 2011.

Tabcorp was recently ordered to pay a $45 million fine for 108 breaches of ‘s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 over the past five years.

In November 2013 Mr Milne was appointed to the NBN Co board after the incoming communications minister, Mr Turnbull, cleared out the board appointed by the previous Labor government. Mr Switkowski was appointed as chair in October 2013.

Mr Milne was recently re-appointed for another three year term at NBN Co.

And now he has been appointed chairman of a publicly funded free-to-air network, which, in his own words is the “province of cash-poor, time-rich people”.

What this intelligent “netrepreneur”, content-loving chairman and former Google-executive managing director Michelle Guthrie plan to do to old Aunty in coming years will be very interesting to see.

Sword of Damocles hangs over Turnbull

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Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson during the debate on the Temporary Budget Repair Levy Bills in the Senate, at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday 16 June 2014. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex EllinghausenCome Thursday a royal commission or commission of inquiry into the scandal-ridden banking sector will be a genuine live issue in the Federal Parliament.
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From that point, the sword of Damocles will dangle precariously over Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s head, waiting for the right moment to fall.

All it will take is one more Coalition MP in the lower house to cross the floor. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

The clock was set on Tuesday when a bill was tabled in the Senate with the backing of a majority of the upper house.

The bill’s signatories include Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson, independents Derryn Hinch and Jacqui Lambie, Nick Xenophon and One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

Nationals senator John Williams has agreed to cross the floor, while the Labor Party is also on board. It is now a waiting game.

Ironically, it seems almost everyone – including the banks – think that a royal commission or judicial inquiry is inevitable.

As Senator Whish-Wilson says in a second-reading speech, “trust has broken down and it urgently needs to be repaired”. Senator Whish-Wilson didn’t gild the lily. He said the various scandals have revealed issues that go to the stability of the n financial system and the performance and resilience of the n economy.

The bill seeks to appoint a commission to establish the “causal factors for this misconduct, including misaligned incentives, culture, inadequate regulation and regulatory power, and ‘moral hazard’ extending from government guarantees”.

The Coalition, for its part, is trying to prosecute the argument that self-regulation, beefed-up regulatory powers and bank bosses fronting Parliament twice a year will fix these deep-seated problems.

However, as each day goes by and more and more scandals emerge, their arguments are looking increasingly hollow and people are questioning what they are afraid of.

One only needs to look at the growing use of “independent” experts reports that are being used to get companies off the hook. The companies set the terms of reference and pay for the report. Their findings don’t fool anyone. They are essentially guns for hire that are constrained in their investigations by the terms of reference.

And the appearances by the bank bosses only served to prove that a holistic examination of the culture inside the financial system is needed and past behaviour addressed.

Despite all the protestations by the banks that the behaviour is down to a few bad apples, if a list of the scandals of the past few years were made, it would show that this is system failure.

Yet not one senior executive has been punted from their job. Where are the boards on this? The guardians of the social licence?

ASIC sometimes uses enforceable undertakings as punishment for wrongdoing, but given the lack of transparency in enforceable undertakings, it is hard to know how effective they are.

Each of the banks bosses has done a number of variations on the theme of mea culpas. But if change is to occur, it will require more than a few mea culpas, self-regulation, Senate inquiries and reviews conducted by bank-funded independent experts.

There needs to be accountability. Heads need to roll, remuneration needs to change, a proper compensation scheme needs to be rolled out and banks need to reset their culture.

The terms of reference are wide ranging, which is as it should be.

National Senator John Williams will cross the floor to support a bill that he says is necessary. Senator Williams has long supported a royal commission into the banks. Now he wants it opened up to include life insurance. The sort of evidence spilling out of the life insurance sector has toughened his stance on the need for a royal commission or commission of inquiry.

The inquiry into the $44 billion life insurance industry was called in response to the CommInsure scandal in March 2016 that exposed wrongdoing in Commonwealth Bank’s life insurance division, including the sale of life insurance policies that had decade-old medical definitions, allegations of file tampering and the denial and delaying of legitimate claims for profit.

“More evidence will come out in the future that I think needs further investigation,” he said.

The bill proposes a single commissioner, who is a former judge, who has the powers to compel witnesses and the production of evidence. This is light years away from the various Senate and parliamentary inquiries, which are limited by resources, time and powers.

The second reading of the bill concludes with a line that the Turnbull government would do well to think about: “This bill reiterates that the n people are the masters of the broader economy. We are not its servants.”

Grandmother charged with manslaughter over diabetic boy’s death

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The grandmother of a six-year-old diabetic boy who died after being deprived of insulin and food in a Sydney “self-healing” course has been charged with manslaughter.
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The 64-year-old woman, arrested on Tuesday, has become the third member of the same family arrested over the death.

Police last week charged the boy’s father, 56, and mother, 41, with manslaughter after arresting them at their home in Prospect in Sydney’s west.

The year 1 student, who cannot be named as an alleged victim of crime, attended the Tasly Healthpac medical centre in Hurstville in April 2015 for a week-long course with his parents.

Emergency services found him unconscious in a nearby hotel room, where he was staying, on April 28, 2015. He died at the scene.

Police will allege the parents and grandmother, who was looking after the boy before his death, were all “grossly negligent” in allowing the fasting and insulin deprivation during the $1800 course.

It was run by the self-described “healer” Hongchi Xiao, a Chinese-born man who continues to travel the world spruiking a therapy he calls paidalajin.

Paidalajin involves slapping the skin to the point of bruising, stretching and fasting to clear “meridians” in the body, allowing the dissolution of toxins, according to promoters.

“You have to be hard a little bit, cruel a little bit, but not too much,” Mr Xiao said when describing paidalajin in a video last year.

Mr Xiao, who was allowed to leave in the days after the boy’s death, continued to promote his so-called therapy and was last year linked to the death of a diabetic British woman.

Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, died during a weekend retreat run by Mr Xiao in south-west England last October.

He was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, then released on bail and was originally due to appear again in January before the date was set back.

His blog has promoted recent courses with him in Hong Kong and one in Malaysia in late March.

The blog says paidalajin is not meant as a “substitute for medical care” but Mr Xiao elsewhere promotes it as such, deriding Western medicine.

After the Sydney boy’s death, he denied responsibility on Facebook and posted a link to an Indian study purportedly showing improvements in diabetics after they went through paidalajin’s fasting and “healing crisis”.

The boy’s parents were granted conditional bail after court appearances last week. They are due to appear before court on separate dates.

The grandmother, who appeared before Blacktown Local Court on Tuesday, was granted strict conditional bail. She is due to face Downing Centre Local Court on May 11.

All three face a maximum of 25 years’ jail if convicted.

Sussan Ley releases report, mounts defence over scandal

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Health Minister Sussan Ley The minister is launching the one-stop-shop, cradle-to-grave Brain and Mind Centre moving in with USydPsych schoolIt screens and treat people from early childhood through adolescents to old age for psych issues including childhood mental problems, suicide risk, gambling etc. 8th December 2016 photo by Louise Kennerley SMH?? Photo: Louise KennerleyTurnbull government MP Sussan Ley has broken her silence on the travel expenses scandal that ended her frontbench career, releasing a report that shows only one Comcar ride fell outside parliamentary rules.
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Ms Ley resigned as health minister in January after nearly two weeks of public anger over her travel expenses, primarily to the Gold Coast where she had bought an $800,000 investment property.

The affair prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce sweeping changes to the parliamentary entitlements system, but he declined to release a Department of Finance report into her conduct.

Ms Ley on Wednesday released the report herself, after delivering a 10-minute speech in Parliament defending her actions.

The report found one example where a claim was inconsistent with the rules, when she travelled in a government car to the auction where she bought the apartment: “On 9 May 2015, Ms Ley travelled by Comcar from the place of her overnight accommodation on the Gold Coast to the site of a property auction. Her attendance at this auction was of a personal nature and not official business.”

After it emerged she had bought an apartment while on a taxpayer-funded trip, Ms Ley’s office defended it by saying it had been an impulse buy, rather than the main purpose of her Gold Coast trip.

“I know that the notion of buying a property on impulse may seem quite strange to some and while the purchase of this particular property was on impulse, the decision to purchase a property was not,” Ms Ley said in her speech.

She had been considering purchasing a property for some time and had been given pre-approval for a loan months earlier, she said.

“So on Friday night, when my attention was drawn to something suitable and when I was going to be on the Gold Coast as a matter of course, I went along to the auction. It was an entirely incidental and unplanned activity to what was an otherwise busy weekend schedule,” she said.

“The first time that I saw the apartment was 20 minutes before the auction commenced and the first time that I spoke to an agent about this property was when I registered, as I walked through the door.”

Ms Ley voluntarily repaid the full cost of the Comcar journey, as well as the travel allowance she claimed for that night, with a 25 per cent penalty on top. She has also voluntarily repaid a number of other travel expenses totalling $5232, even though the other examples were within the rules.

She did so after realising “the parliamentary expenses guidelines did not align with the community standard”.

“When I resigned as minister I did so because the facts could not overcome the story. The repayments I have chosen to make – entirely voluntarily – are because I recognise I have fallen short of community standards and I want to put the matter beyond further commentary,” she said.

“In no way do I seek to complain about my situation, or how events played out.”

But Ms Ley said she believed the facts had been lost in the “search for a good story”.

“The front page news and the associated conclusions drawn about me talk of someone who bears no resemblance to me.”

She said under the current system MPs sometimes found it hard to assess when the “line of public expectation is crossed”. That decision-making will be taken out of their hands under Mr Turnbull’s changes.

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universal law

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RESPECT: New Zealand’s beautiful Whanganui River has some pretty serious legal rights. Picture: Tourism New ZealandThere is so much bad press about the environment almost daily – dire predictions of climate change and species extinction for example. While devastatingly true, it is hard to not desensitise or feel like I’m only one person what can I do, or it’s all too hard.
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That’s why, when I heard the party-popper good news last week from our neighbour across the sea, my heart leapt in hope at the possibility of an emerging new worldview about the natural world.

In a world-first decision, a New Zealand river has been granted the same legal rights as a human being. A Maori tribe of the north island has fought for the recognition of their river – Whanganui – as an ancestor for 140 years. Hundreds of tribal representatives wept with joy when their bid to have their kin – the third longest river in New Zealand – awarded legal status as a living entity was passed into law, bringing the longest-running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end.

The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it, the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same. The Whanganui River, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown.

The Act uses the Maori language about the river having its ownmana — its own authority, and its ownmauri or life force, and an identity in and of itself.

The implications of this decision are potentially revolutionary. The Maori tribes regard themselves as part of the universe and at one with and equal to the mountains, the rivers and the seas. Instead of human sovereignty over the environment, this law radically embraces the indigenous wisdom of nature itself having an equal right to life as us.

It is a decision in line with the Bolivian government’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth passed in 2010. The law declares both ‘Mother Earth’ and life-systems, both human communities and ecosytems, as titleholders of inherent rights, such as the rights of water and air to remain clear and uncontaminated.

Ecuador was the pioneer, enshrining rights for nature in its 2008 constitution. In 2011, a team of lawyers used the country’s new laws in court toforce a government to repair damage to a river from a road-building project.

Currently the n Earth Laws Alliance is pushing for ‘s rivers, forests, ocean waters, flora and fauna to have their own legal rights, in a movement that has become known as ‘wild law’.

“Wild law suggests we look at the world as a community of subjects – that we are only one of many players in the ecological sphere,” says founder Michelle Maloney.

I might call on John Lennon’s Imagine to help expand our sense of possibilities here – a lucky country for all.

Claire Dunn is the author of My Year Without Matches: Escaping the city in search of the wild. You can contact her at [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

This may be the day the Trump trade died

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Maybe investors should forget the Trump trade and start prepping for the Trump correction.
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Wall Street had its worst day since October. The US dollar can’t seem to find a bottom. There’s no rebound in sight for oil. Havens such as US Treasuries and gold are back in vogue.

There’s an undeniable “risk off” vibe reverberating through markets.

The optimism that accompanied Donald Trump’s US election victory was built on a trinity of lower taxes, infrastructure spending and regulatory reform. Now, doubts are rising about any of those being realised, even with Republicans controlling the White House and Congress.

The Obamacare replacement bill is struggling to gain support from House conservatives and Senate Republicans, and some Republican lawmakers argue that a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the US tax code with cuts for businesses and individuals depends on the outcome.

Bank, industrial and technology shares – some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump trade – are suddenly the biggest losers.

It’s a nerve-racking time for investors, who have pushed share prices to record highs. Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller recently said the last time he remembers equity investors being as bullish as they are now was in 2000, and that didn’t end well.

“The amazing run the market has had since the election left no room for error, delay or issues of any kind,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at Lindsay Group, wrote in a research note on Tuesday. Dollar capitulation

If markets truly believed that Trump’s policies would juice the economy and spark faster inflation, then the greenback would be a prime beneficiary – except it’s on an epic slump.

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index has fallen for five straight days, the longest stretch of declines since the week before the election. The gauge dropped overnight to its lowest level since November.

Bank of America said that based on what it sees in terms of market positioning, sentiment surveys conducted with its clients, and publicly available futures data, bullish US dollar positions put on after the election have completely disappeared.

What makes the recent weakness even more compelling is that it comes largely at the expense of gains in the euro, which is on a tear even as Europe faces its own political uncertainty with pending elections in France and Germany, as well as new debt troubles in Greece. Oil’s echo

Concerns are also rising over the oil slump and its ripple effect through markets. Crude fell again overnight, approaching $US47 a barrel as a Bloomberg survey before a government report to be released on Wednesday showed US supplies probably rose to a record last week.

While obviously painful for oil bulls, the drop in crude is weighing on the shares and bonds of junk-rated energy companies. Bonds and gold

How nervous are investors? Just take a look at the market for US government debt.

Demand for the ultimate safe haven is so high that yields on 10-year Treasuries are not only lower than when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last week, but also lower than when the central bank boosted rates in December.

Gold, which is another safe haven asset, advanced for a fourth straight day in its longest rally since early February. The 3.65 per cent gain is the biggest over a four-day period since June.

Recent headlines out of Washington “play well into one of our core assumptions about the year ahead in terms of the potential for Trumponomics to disappoint – namely that as The Donald navigates the minefield that is DC politics, he risks quickly burning through his political capital and eroding his effectiveness as an agent of change,” the bond strategists at BMO Capital wrote in a report on Tuesday. China

And don’t forget about China. The news out of the world’s second-largest economy has been relatively positive of late for investors – except for this week.

China’s central bank on Tuesday injected hundreds of billions of yuan into the financial system after some smaller lenders failed to make debt payments in the interbank market, according to people familiar with the matter. The injections followed missed interbank payments on Monday, those sources said.


Laptop ban on flights may not be about security

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From Tuesday on, passengers travelling to the US from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries will not be allowed to have iPads, laptops or any communications device larger than a smartphone in the cabin of the plane.
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If you are travelling from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or the UAE on Egypt Air, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Turkish Airlines, and you want to use your laptop on the flight, you are probably out of luck.

So why is the United States doing this, and how can it get away with it? The US says it’s all about security

The Trump administration says the new rules were introduced because of intelligence that shows terrorists are continuing to target airlines flying to the United States.

An unidentified person familiar with the issue has told The Washington Post that officials have long been worried by a Syrian terrorist group that is trying to build bombs inside electronic devices that are hard to detect.

However, as Demitri Sevastopulo and Robert Wright at the Financial Times suggest, non-US observers are skeptical of this explanation. They note that the United States has not been forthcoming about whether the ban is based on recent intelligence or long-standing concerns.

There is also no explanation for why electronic devices in the cabin are a concern, and electronic devices in the baggage hold are not. There is another explanation

It may not be about security after all. Three of the airlines that have been targeted for these measures – Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways – have long been accused by their US competitors of receiving massive effective subsidies from their governments.

These airlines have been quietly worried for months that President Trump was going to retaliate. This may be the retaliation.

These three airlines, as well as the other airlines targeted in the order, are likely to lose a major amount of business from their most lucrative customers – people who travel in business class and first class.

Business travellers are disproportionately likely to want to work on the plane – the reason they are prepared to pay business-class or first-class fares is because it allows them to work in comfort. These travellers are unlikely to appreciate having to do all their work on smartphones, or not being able to work at all.

The likely result is that many of them will stop flying on Gulf airlines, and start travelling on US airlines instead.

As the Financial Times notes, the order doesn’t affect only the airlines’ direct flights to and from the United States – it attacks the “hub” airports that are at the core of their business models.

These airlines not only fly passengers directly from the Gulf region to the United States – they also fly passengers from many other destinations, transferring them from one plane to another in the hubs.

This “hub and spoke” approach is a standard economic model for long-haul airlines, offering them large savings. However, it also creates big vulnerabilities. If competitors or unfriendly states can undermine or degrade the hub, they can inflict heavy economic damage. Weaponising interdependence

As we have argued in the past, and talk about in forthcoming work, the US move can be understood as a variant form of “weaponised interdependence.”

We live in an interdependent world, where global networks span across countries, creating enormous benefits, but also great disparities of power.

As networks grow, they tend to concentrate both influence and vulnerability in a few key locations, creating enormous opportunities for states, regulators and non-state actors who have leverage over those locations.

In this context, the United States is plausibly leveraging its control over access to US airports, which are central “nodes” in the global network of air travel between different destinations.

It is using this control to attack the key vulnerabilities of other networked actors, by going after the central nodes in their networks (the hub airports) and potentially severely damaging them. What can Gulf airline carriers do?

Gulf airlines have tried to defend themselves against political attacks from US competitors by appealing to free trade principles. The problem is that standard free trade agreements, such as World Trade Organisation rules, don’t really apply to airlines (although they do apply to related sectors, such as the manufacture of airplanes).

This has allowed the Gulf airlines to enjoy massive subsidies, without having to worry too much about being sued in the WTO.

However, it also makes it hard for Gulf states or the states of other affected airlines to take a WTO case against the new US rules, even if these rules turn out to be motivated by protectionism and the desire to retaliate, rather than real underlying security questions.

If this were happening in a different sector, it would make for a pretty interesting case.

States preserve carve-outs from international trade rules when they feel that their security is at stake.

Would the United States prevail in a case like this, where there is a colourable security justification, but where there is also a very plausible argument that the real motivation doesn’t have much to do with security?

Or would the WTO defer to the United States’ proposed justification?

It’s very likely that the Trump administration will make more unilateral rules that are justified using the language of national security, but are plausibly motivated by protectionism, so we may find out.

Farrell is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. Newman is associate professor of international politics at Georgetown University. For other commentary from The Monkey Cage, an independent blog anchored by a group of political scientists from universities around the country, see www.washingtonpost苏州夜总会招聘/blogs/monkey-cage.

The Washington Post

Why gridlocked Sydney is being shortchanged

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Sydney has been denied its fair share of transport infrastructure funding over the past decade despite the growing economic and social cost of congestion.
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The city has received only 17 per cent of all new state and federal investment in road and rail over the past 12 years even though it generated about 24 per cent of ‘s gross domestic product last financial year, analysis by the Grattan Institute think tank shows.

Sydney’s share of Commonwealth support has been especially stingy – the city received only 5 per cent of Commonwealth funding for road and rail in the decade to 2015. The rest of NSW, which is about 8 per cent of the national economy, received 27 per cent of Commonwealth road and rail funding in that period.

Marion Terrill, the Grattan Institute’s transport program director, said Sydneysiders were “within their rights” to think a history of government underinvestment has led to worsening congestion.

“It is very striking that the Commonwealth has preferred NSW country over the city,” she said.

Congestion is forecast to cost the NSW economy $9 billion a year by 2020, the vast majority in Sydney.

The National Party in NSW has portrayed the large share of infrastructure spending going to regional areas as a political achievement. Duncan Gay, the former NSW roads minister and a National Party MP, said in a statement in January that “I have spent $38 billion on road, freight and waterway infrastructure since 2011 – the likes of which have never been seen in the history of this state – more than 65 per cent of this total investment has been delivered for projects in the bush”.

But the Roads to Riches report, released by the Grattan Institute last year, found n governments have recently spent far too much money on country highways “not especially important to the national economy.”

Regions outside of Sydney account for 35 per cent of the NSW population and about 25 per cent of the state’s economy.

Despite receiving a disproportionately low share of infrastructure spending Sydney’s economy grew by 4.5 per cent in 2015-16 and contributed almost 40 per cent of the increase in ‘s GDP. The remainder of NSW grew at just 0.4 per cent last financial year.

‘s four biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – account for 60 per cent of economic activity, nearly 60 per cent of the population, and 64 per cent of population growth and yet those cities received only 43 per cent of new investment in road and rail infrastructure in the decade to 2015.

“All other things being equal, one would expect new infrastructure to reflect areas of rapid population growth,” the Roads to Riches report said. “But neither bigger capitals nor faster growing cities appear to have been the impetus for choices about where to locate new infrastructure. Instead of concentrating new investment in large and fast growing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, both Commonwealth and state governments spent disproportionately in country NSW and Queensland.”

Restrictions on electronic devices on flights: What you need to know

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The United States and the United Kingdom have both banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabins on flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries.
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While the measures – enacted in response to an “unspecified security concern” – should not stop passengers on direct flights to and from bringing laptops, e-readers and other devices on board, there could be flow-on effects that will make travelling to America or the UK more of a hassle.

As for , a spokeswoman for Minister for Infrastructure Darren Chester said on Wednesday that his department, which regulates air safety, had no current plans to implement similar bans for flights heading here.

Luckily for n travellers, British authorities have not followed their US counterparts in applying the ban to flights that originate or stop over in the big Middle Eastern hubs of the UAE (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and Qatar.

If the UK did, passengers flying from to London on Qantas, Emirates, Etihad (and its code share partner Virgin ) and Qatar Airways would have to leave their laptops in their checked baggage.

Most ns heading to the US travel across the Pacific, so they aren’t affected either. Which countries are affected?

The US has banned large electronic devices on flights from airports in the following countries: JordanEgyptTurkeySaudi ArabiaKuwaitQatarMoroccoJordanthe United Arab Emirates

The UK’s ban, announced overnight, is less restrictive and only applies to flights from the following countries: TurkeyLebanonJordanEgyptTunisiaSaudi ArabiaBrace for longer queues

While most ns don’t travel to the US via the Middle East, an exception are passengers from Perth, many of whom choose to fly to the US via the Middle East rather than connecting through Sydney or Melbourne.

“They find it’s not much difference in time for them to hop on a flight from Perth to Abu Dhabi with Etihad, to Dubai with Emirates or to Doha with Qatar, and then they can bounce back to the US from there,” David Flynn, editor of n Business Traveller told Fairfax Media.

“Those people will now not be able to have their laptop or their iPad or their camera or their Kindle or electronic games in the cabin with them.”

ns can also expect to be hit with delays when transferring through Middle Eastern airports, Mr Flynn said, caused by US-bound passengers being stopped at security screenings because they have brought electronics with them from connecting flights.

“I would be prepared for much longer queues and for much more irate passengers in those queues,” he said. Do these devices pose a greater threat than mobile phones?

Only physically, not technologically.

A computer or a tablet is larger than a smartphone, which would theoretically provide more room for terrorists to cram in components like bomb parts or weapons, said Bill Marczak, a senior fellow at the Citizen Lab, a research group that follows technology and policy.

Multiple terrorists could then each take a computer on a plane containing an explosive component and, hypothetically, put it together in the cabin, he said.

Yet a smartphone may also pose threats. As Samsung demonstrated last year with its Galaxy Note 7, smartphones – and anything with a lithium-ion battery – are capable of exploding and causing safety hazards.

Technologically, a smartphone is a miniature computer that is just as powerful as a laptop. There is also a risk that a terrorist could use a smartphone to remotely detonate a bomb that is hidden inside a computer checked in as cargo, said Nick Feamster, a computer science professor at Princeton University. So why ban computers and tablets?

Other than preventing terrorists from smuggling components onto planes, the device ban may create additional surveillance opportunities. It is common for airport security officials to search checked luggage. In theory, if a computer is checked, airport officials can do more thorough searches, including a data frisk.

“Who, if anyone, takes control of your device while it’s not in your sight or possession?” Feamster said. “A search of your device is not outside the realm of possibility.” What should I do?

If you are flying on an affected airline and concerned about your privacy, consider protecting your data while crossing the border.

For one, you could encrypt your files with an app like BitLocker or FileVault. That way, if someone did try to gain access to your data, a passphrase would be needed to decrypt the files, Marczak of the Citizen Lab said.

In addition, travellers could seal laptops in a tamper-evident bag, Marczak said. Once you reach your destination, you can see if anyone tampered with the laptop by inserting a physical surveillance device into it, for example.

You could also consider travelling with an inexpensive computer that lacks any of your sensitive data, Feamster added. And you could back up your data to the cloud and purge it from the inexpensive computer before checking it in with your luggage.

If he were travelling to those countries now, Feamster said, “I wouldn’t even bother taking my main laptop. I’d take my clean laptop that doesn’t have any data on it.”

– with New York Times

See also: Why you should never pack valuables in your carry-on luggage

CBA’s Bankwest in corporate banking retreat

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Commonwealth Bank subsidiary Bankwest will shut its corporate banking services outside of its home state as it retreats to its core customers in Western .
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Bankwest revealed on Wednesday it would be rolling “relationship managed” business clients based outside of WA into its parent company’s business and private banking division.

The bank will still offer corporate banking in WA and will serve small business customers nationwide, Bankwest managing director Rowan Munchenberg said.

He said the move would help Bankwest focus on its core clients: retail and small business customers and corporate banking in WA.

Bankwest said staff in its east coast corporate banking division would move across to CBA’s BPB team or other positions where possible. It was too early to say if there would be job losses, a spokesman said.

“CBA’s growth plans and existing footprint, combined with excellent products and services means that it is well-positioned to support Bankwest non-WA based relationship-managed business customers and help them grow,” Mr Munchenberg said.

Bankwest’s business lending arm has been problematic for CBA since it bought the Western n bank in 2008.

A 2011 parliamentary heading heard CBA committed “fraud” by deliberately impairing more than 1000 commercial Bankwest loans, combined worth more than $8.2 billion, enabling it to foreclose the loans despite customers never missing payments and having adequate security. CBA denied any wrongdoing at the time.

Bankwest has made several changes to its loan products over the past two months, as regulators voiced concerns that the property investor market may be overheating.

In January it announced it would no longer be accepting applications from new customers looking to refinance standalone investment loans from other banks, and it has since hiked rates on variable investor property home loans by 15 basis points.

And last month Bankwest revealed it would no longer include negative gearing benefits when calculating loan eligibility for property investors. The move means investors will qualify for lower loan amounts.

Mr Munchenberg said the two banks were working to ensure a smooth transition for customers moving from Bankwest to CBA. Bankwest customers and employees will start migrating to CBA during 2017.

PIMCO sees higher global growth

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Pimco has joined the chorus of global investors turning bullish on global growth prospects, saying the Trump administration’s war on trade is “more symbolic than real”.
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The global bond fund manager has raised its growth forecast to between 2.75 and 3.25 per cent (a rise of 0.25 per cent on both the lower and upper estimates from December).

This is due to lower-than-expected risks of a global trade war, weakened expectations of economic upheaval in China, lower expectations of US inflation and optimistic signs on European populism after the failure of far-right candidate Geert Wilders to oust the political establishment in the recent Dutch election.

The major downside risk to the Pimco forecast is the monetary tightening taking place around the world.

“With improved growth and inflation prospects, exhausted central banks are likely to move closer to the exit from ultra-accommodative monetary policies,” wrote Pimco’s Joachim Fels and Andrew Balls.

“And it’s not certain whether highly leveraged private and public borrowers around the world will be able to keep dancing when the music stops.”

At the moment, the Federal Reserve’s statements have prepared the market for two further interest rate cuts this year.

But that’s not including the impact of the US administration’s much-mooted fiscal stimulus plans, which leaves open the possibility of the Fed rapidly changing its tune.

However, Pimco does expect this stimulus to be smaller than previously expected, and to not be finalised until early 2018.

“Repealing and replacing Obamacare will keep Congress busy for a while, and comprehensive tax reform will take time and is hard to do given the rising opposition to the border adjustment tax from the adversely affected importing industries and in the Senate. Thus, any fiscal boost is likely to be smaller and come much later.” Deals, not war

In Europe, expectations are for the European Central Bank to scale back its asset purchases by early 2018.

This “raises the spectre of sharp adjustments in euro-area sovereign yield levels and peripheral sovereign spreads over Bunds”.

Pimco’s shrugging off of the odds of a trade war is counter-intuitive, given the G20, at the urging of the United States, removed a phrase signalling its commitment to fight protectionism over the weekend.

Mr Fels told Fairfax Media the removal of the phrase was “no surprise given the protectionist leanings of the Trump administration”. But he played down its impact.

“We expect the administration to push trading partners like China for more market access for US companies rather than imposing high tariffs or naming China a currency manipulator. Trump wants to strike deals rather than starting a trade war.”

Key to Pimco’s reduced expectations on trade risks is what the administration hasn’t done despite the opportunity to do so.

Despite antagonistic rhetoric, the administration hasn’t sought to impose trade sanctions through executive orders, suggesting, Pimco’s analysts write, “that President Trump’s statements on tariffs may be more symbolic than real”.

Pimco’s head of n portfolios Robert Mead told Fairfax Media the n economy was somewhat out-of-sync with this global picture.

“Our housing market has been very strong, but is likely to slow in terms of new developments. The n consumer is excessively levered, so the RBA has limited degrees of freedom in terms of adjusting policy settings,” he said.

“Commodity prices have boomed, but the flow through to n companies and the broader n economy is limited. That leaves us with a less robust labour market, sluggish wages growth and an economy growing below potential.”

Is big money eyeing an equities exit?

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An exit from equities for big money could be on the cards after a record number of global fund managers reckon that stocks are overvalued, according to a survey.
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In Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly survey of 200 global investors representing close to $US600 billion in assets under management, a net 34 per cent of managers said equities are overvalued, the highest reading in the 17 years that question has been asked, and up from 26 per cent in February.

Making matters worse, asset managers are heavily exposed to equity markets, with a net 48 per cent saying they are overweight stocks in their portfolios, meaning they hold more than their benchmarks would require.

“Investor positioning argues for a risk rally pause in March/April, with allocation to equities at a two-year high and bond allocation at a three-year low,” said Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

Broken out by region, a net 81 per cent of investors identified the US market as the most overvalued, while 44 per cent and 23 per cent believe emerging markets equities and eurozone equities, respectively, are undervalued.

The survey’s results come amid growing worries that particularly US stocks are overvalued, with the S&P 500’s forward price-earnings ratio at its highest level since 2004.

Despite suffering its biggest fall in more than six months on Tuesday night, Wall Street’s main index, the S&P 500, is still up more than 12 per cent since the US election on hopes that President Donald Trump’s fiscal plans will stimulate higher economic growth.

“The S&P500 is ripe for a corrective selloff,” said Fat Prophets CEO Angus Geddes, adding he expects a retreat of up to 7 per cent from current levels.

“If Wall Street does indeed fall by 5 per cent to 7 per cent in a corrective selloff then it stands to reason the rest of the world may only sneeze this year and not catch the proverbial cold,” he said.

One sector that could suffer from any selloff is banks, which the surveyed fund manager consider to be the second-most crowded trade after their recent rally. First is the US dollar, which despite recent losses is still well above levels from last year.

Asked what they think is most likely to trigger an end of the eight-year equity bull market, 36 per cent point to rising interest rates, followed by 23 per cent citing weaker earnings.

Interestingly, the fear of protectionism has fallen sharply, from about 35 per cent in February, when it was seen as the biggest risk to the bull market, to 21 per cent. The survey was conducted just before the G20 finance ministers last weekend excluded a standard line on resisting protectionism from their final communique, apparently at the behest of the US.

A net 58 per cent of survey respondents expect the global economy to improve over the next year, down slightly from a 59 per cent in February, the March survey also found.

European elections raising the risk of disintegration of the eurozone remains the biggest tail risk for global growth, according to 33 per cent of investors, followed by trade at 20 per cent and a crash in global bond markets at 18 per cent.

The long-running survey, which is conducted each month, is considered one of the best barometers of big money investment opinion.

The NRL should consider banning the biggest deal in league history

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Anyone who has watched Jason Taumalolo campaign over the past two seasons know he’s the most outstanding forward in rugby league. A beast of a back-rower, with unmatched impact in his current form, it’s easy to understand why the Cowboys want to retain his services at any cost.
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Already, he’s flirted with the idea of the NFL, although given the conversion rate for league forwards (currently standing at zero) that sounds more like thinking out loud instead of a genuine bargaining chip.

Maybe it had the Cowboys spooked. Certainly, they knew that if their freak of a lock hit the open market, rival NRL clubs would have been emptying the piggy bank, just as they did when Kalyn Ponga decided to take his talents to Newcastle.

The result has been a 10-year deal. Ten years. Jason Taumalolo, now 23, has been nailed down to Townsville until he’s 33. It’s going to be the richest deal in the history of the game purely by its length and exceeds Lance Franklin’s nine-year stay at the AFL’s Sydney Swans.

And it should ring alarm bells at the NRL, who must seriously consider capping the length of deals for the protection of clubs and fans instead of openly fawning at the idea of keeping Taumalolo locked to the code.

So is it time to rejoice for those in the tropics? Perhaps, in the short-term at least. With Johnathan Thurston nearing retirement and Ponga leaving, here’s your superstar to build a team around. Every club needs one.

But make no mistake – this stands as an immense contracting gamble. The inherent risks are plentiful, obvious and to such an extent that there should be a genuine debate about whether the NRL should outlaw signings of such duration.

The details of the deal are sure to emerge over the coming days and the timing is curious, given the collective bargaining agreement has yet to be finalised and teams are waiting for the exact figures of their future salary caps.

It will likely be weighted towards the back of his contract, as was that of Franklin. For the first two years of his $10 million contract, the star Swans forward was paid around $700,000, which increased to $1.2 million, rising again in his seventh and eighth years before dropping slightly in his final season.

That type of structure has dangers of its own and rugby league is littered with back-ended contracts that have blown up in spectacular fashion. Robbie Farah was set to cost the Tigers almost $1 million in the final year of his weighted deal (Farah still gets $750,000 from the Tigers despite playing for Souths), while new coaches can inherit rosters with unworkable caps (think Geoff Toovey at Manly).

As a big man, there’s legitimate questions on how effective Taumalolo will be as he ages and his body changes. Age hasn’t been a barrier to some of the code’s more recent elite back-rowers but Paul Gallen and Corey Parker, smaller bodies with games built on immense workrates, are different footballers than the rampaging figure of Taumalolo.

“There are risks for both parties but the upside outweighs that,” Cowboys coach Paul Green told media at the official announcement. He also said the deal was thought up by Taumalolo’s agent and initially caught them by surprise.

At stages during the next decade, the Cowboys are going to be getting one hell of a bargain, especially once the new TV deal kicks into gear. Taumalolo will be playing for well under his market value and could be earning closer to $2 million a year if he took a shorter deal there or elsewhere.

On the flipside, the Cowboys could find themselves freighting a million dollars a season down the track for a player that may be performing like he’s worth half of that amount, or whose impact has been blunted by a mounting injury toll. By then, Green and perhaps all of the current players are likely to have moved on.

Overseas, in leagues such as the NBA, deals are capped at four years for a new player or five years for an existing player. It means players can take advantage of fat “max” deals but also helps ensure they get paid what the market determines at their prime.

At this stage, the Cowboys, Taumalolo and his management are to be congratulated for a deal that has set a new benchmark for rugby league. Whether that will be something worth celebrating in 2027 remains to be seen.