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National poverty plan needed, say welfare groups

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS, said the councils wanted to work with the government and business to ‘build a consensus’ about what measures should be used in a national anti-poverty plan. Photo: Christopher Pearce’s state and territory councils of social service are calling on the federal government to set a target to reduce the number of ns living in poverty and to develop a national plan to tackle the issue.

According to the n Council of Social Service, more than 2.5 million ns, including 600,000 children, live in poverty. At the start of national anti-poverty week, the councils say a strategy to address inequality must be part of the Turnbull government’s economic agenda.

The eight councils are calling for the anti-poverty plan to include a clear target to reduce the number of people who live below the poverty line, although they have not yet nominated a target themselves.

n Council of Social Service chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the councils wanted to work with the government and business to “build a consensus” about what measures should be used.

But the councils, which include the Victorian Council of Social Service and the Council of Social Service of NSW, say the national plan should also involve “concrete” changes such as increasing unemployment benefits by at least $50 a week, boosting family payments to sole parent families and increasing assistance to the long-term unemployed.

Dr Goldie cautioned that as the Turnbull government hunted for savings, it should not look at areas of the budget that were already “failing to deliver on their purpose”.

Setting the poverty line at $400 a week for a single adult, a 2014 ACOSS report found that 2.55 million ns were living in poverty. Earlier this year, the Committee for Economic Development of found that between 1 million and 1.5 million ns lived in poverty based on whether people had access to necessary goods and services and social exclusion measures.

The councils of social service call comes as Anglicare releases a report in which it argues some ns are being left “further and further behind”.

It says there is an “enormous and widening gap” between ns on generally good incomes and those who live on benefits.

“Lower living standards are linked to poverty and this in turn links to ill health, unemployment, under-employment and lack of social connection,” Anglicare deputy director Roland Manderson writes.

Recent National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling research done for Anglicare  shows that the gap between ‘s richest and poorest grew by 13 per cent over the past decade and is projected to jump by a further 10 per cent over the next 10 years.

Turnbull government has not yet turned its mind to donation reform

NSW Premier Mike Baird is pressing for reform of the laws governing political donations. Photo: Louise KennerleyEditorial: Political donations may get more scrutiny

The Turnbull government has not yet turned its mind to reform of political donations but the issue will likely be discussed at the next Council of n Government meeting, due to be held in December.

It’s understood that if the issue of political donation reform is not formally listed for discussion at the next COAG meeting, it will likely be raised at the informal dinner for the prime ministers, premiers and chief ministers on the evening before.

NSW Premier Mike Baird wrote to former prime minister Tony Abbott on August 14, asking for agreement to “coordinated national reform of election funding laws … for the next meeting of the Council of n Governments” according to a copy of the letter seen by Fairfax Media.

“The laws in NSW governing electoral expenditure and political donations are the most strict in the country. But disparities between election funding laws across states, territories, and the Commonwealth create opportunities for avoidance and undermine the effectiveness of funding regimes in each jurisdiction,” Mr Baird wrote.

“Accordingly, it is appropriate to consider nationwide reform, including consistent disclosure obligations.”

Mr Abbott had steadfastly resisted calls for national reform but hopes are high that a change of prime minister will mean changes could be brought into effect.

And Mr Baird’s push for reform of national laws is likely to enjoy support from the state Labor government of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

A spokesman for Mr Andrews said that state’s view was that “all n jurisdictions will need to consider the adequacy of disclosure laws in light of High Court considerations of these matters, which is best achieved through a national approach”.

Last week, the High Court upheld a NSW state-wide ban on political donations from property developers, rejecting claims the ban was a restriction on the implied freedom of political communication.

Following the decision, Mr Baird said the decision opened the way for “consideration of national reforms to political donations laws at COAG”.

Follow James Massola on Facebook.

Rugby World Cup 2015: George Gregan and Jonathan Davies dissect Wallabies v Wales

LONDON: Is this the match that will decide whether the Wallabies make the World Cup final or will they fall at the hurdle before them?

Wallabies great George Gregan and dual-code Wales great Jonathan Davies are adamant the winner of the match between the two nations on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEDT) will be perfectly positioned to snatch a spot in the final.

But the losers faces a brutal path through the play-offs with back-to-back clashes against South Africa and New Zealand standing in the way of the Webb Ellis Cup.

Davies invited Gregan and Fairfax Media to his Cardiff home to break down the biggest match between the teams in more than a decade.

haven’t lost to Wales since 2008 and while both have quarter-finals spots locked away, the outcome of the match at the neutral Twickenham venue will have a large bearing on their World Cup fortunes.


The Wallabies have won their past 10 matches against Wales, but nine of those have been thrillers by 10 points or less.

Of the current 31-man Wallabies squad, just five players have experienced a defeat at the hands of the Red Dragons, but Wales have flown under the radar at the World Cup and coach Warren Gatland has used injuries to galvanise his team.

“We’ve been close and in positions to win games, but we’ve never been able to close them down,” Davies said.

“I just think we have to learn how to close a game down … you’ve got to have the mentality to do that and that’s the difference. If we can do that and have the game awareness, then we’re every chance.”

Wales have beaten the Wallabies just twice since 1989 and have struggled against southern hemisphere nations.

But Gatland has had his squad together for seven years and was the architect of the Wallabies’ demise against the British and Irish Lions two years ago.

“From an n perspective, you can’t rely on that record to get you over the line,” Gregan said.

“Wales play like , they like using the ball in hand and are positive. So can find their rhythm … you feel positive going into those games.

“The thing about this game is that Wales have a lot of experienced players and guys like Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, George North … they’ve beaten the Wallabies while playing with the Lions.

“There are a lot of guys who are hungry to turn it around against and that’s what makes this a danger game.”


The Wallabies and Wales have already managed to lock in their escape from the pool of death.

But while England rugby plunges into crisis, and Wales cannot afford to relax with their path to the final to be determined by who wins at Twickenham.

The winner of the Pool A contest will get the perceived weaker side of the draw and play either Scotland or Japan in the quarter-final.

The loser gets a nightmare scenario of taking on the rejuvenated South Africa in the quarter-final before a likely showdown with defending champions New Zealand in the semi-final.

“I think the winner of this group will go to the final,” Gregan said.

“But it’s about getting it right on the other day. You see your heroes on that stage and you want to be there, you want a taste of it.”

Both and Wales beat England in the pool stages to send the hosts out in embarrassing fashion.

But Davies agrees that the winner of the Wallabies-Wales battle could determine the final.

“If win this group, it’s an -New Zealand final,” Davies said.

” and South Africa have the highest winning percentages at the World Cup. It’s a different game, history shows that.”


The Wallabies have been forced into three changes to their starting team with Michael Hooper (suspended), Rob Horne (shoulder) and Rob Simmons (dropped to the bench) moving out.

They’ve brought in Sean McMahon, Drew Mitchell and Dean Mumm to stabilise the line-up.

Wales made six changes to their team and Gatland will deploy a double openside-flanker combination of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric to combat ‘s duo of David Pocock and McMahon.

“If Hooper was there, it would be four of the best players on the field going at it, it would be huge,” Davies said.

Gregan agreed: “They all make good decisions … if there’s a bit of daylight at the ruck they’ll be in there.

“It’s a different mindset to some teams, but both will have to be extremely accurate or what happens at the breakdown will have a big influence on the game.”

The Wallabies will call on ‘s most prolific World Cup try-scorer, Mitchell, to add the finishing touch while Wales have a fully fit 31-man squad after being dogged by injuries before the tournament.


George North famously carried n rugby’s most prized possession on his back when he picked up Israel Folau and continued running in the Lions series two years ago.

They are both giant men with superb attacking ability.

It’s unlikely they’ll go head to head this time with Wales injecting North into the midfield while Folau has overcome an ankle injury to be fit to play.

“Everyone wants to see those guys going at it. Get the touches and their skills on the game,” Gregan said.

“That was one of those special moments when North carried Folau. But often in World Cups it’s not about the back three. They’re slower games, a bit more stop-start.”

North will combine with Jamie Roberts for a giant midfield tag-team. They both have a weight advantage of more than 20 kilograms over 84 kilogram Wallabies veteran Matt Giteau.

“I think Folau is a brilliant player. George North, we don’t use him enough on the wing, so hopefully we use him more [in the centres],” Davies said.


Michael Cheika and Warren Gatland are at opposite ends of the coaching spectrum.

Cheika has been in charge for just 12 months and is trying to turn n rugby from a rabble into a force.

Gatland has been at the helm for seven years and most believe Wales should have won the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

“Michael has developed a strong rapport with the players and they’re playing hard for each other,” Gregan said.

“They use the word identity and they’ve shown you can pull a team together in a short period.”

It took Gatland 23 attempts to break the hoodoo against South Africa, and New Zealand.

“Cheika is old school … but he’s very similar to Gatland in a lot of ways because they have an old style and come from the same era.

“Gatland has a structure and the players stick to it. But we have to be more adventurous, you can’t stay with it because teams will find you out too easily.

“That’s what has – more players who are off the cuff like Kurtley Beale. You’ve got individuals who give you a slight advantage.”


Gregan was part of ‘s 1999 World Cup-winning team and then suffered heartbreak in the final in 2003 and a quarter-final exit in 2007.

“If you don’t say you don’t need a bit of luck, you’re telling porky pies,” Gregan said.

“You need a group of players to really believe in how they want to play, a real trust and belief in each other. You’ve got to deal with adversity – injuries and suspensions. You can use it as an excuse or make it bring you together.

“Those are the hallmarks of World Cup-winning teams – they look forward to the challenging times.”

Davies played 32 Tests for Wales and switched between rugby union and rugby league. He was part of the Welsh team that finished third at the 1987 World Cup.

“For World Cup-winning teams you look at the quality of the spine. Look at in 1999 with George and Stephen Larkham and Matt Burke at fullback. The same for England in 2003,” Davies said.

“When things go bad, those are the guys you want to step up and take control of the tournament.”

George Gregan and Jonathan Davies spoke to Fairfax on behalf of HSBC, proud supporter of the Wallabies as they take on the rest of the world in 2015. 

Graham Turner’s cup runneth over at Flight Centre

John Eales reported that the average Flight Centre executive earned less last year than the prior year.CBD was a little surprised by the relatively brief notice of meeting which is being sent out to Flight Centre investors for their annual meeting in Brisbane next month.

It seems that the travel group saved the Kool-Aid for its annual report, which plopped into investors’ laps a few weeks ago.

And who better to rally the investor rabble behind the company’s remuneration report than World Cup winning Wallabies captain John Eales.

Eales, the remuneration committee chairman, reported that the average Flight Centre executive earned less last year than the prior year.

“In fact, our very own Graham Turner (Skroo) has in the past been judged ‘s best value CEO,” Eales reports.

“Skroo’s salary again made headlines during 2014/15, when he was identified as the second-lowest paid CEO in the ASX S&P100 company for the 2014 financial year – hopefully he didn’t see it!”

The news gets worse for Skroo.

Eales points out that, while executive pay is theoretically uncapped, “natural curbs” are in place to ensure salaries do not sky-rocket to “unacceptable levels”.

He points out that, even if Skroo doubled the company’s underlying profit last year to $750 million, under the pay structure in place he will have earned a relatively skimp $2.4 million.

If it wasn’t for the fact that Skroo pocketed more than $15 million last year in franked dividends from Flight Centre, you would almost feel sorry for him.

You can’t blame Eales for having a blind spot to this nice little earner. His 2000 shares wouldn’t have yielded enough for a return flight to the latest World Cup.  Rich resort 

Your diarist was contemplating a retreat from the modern world and was drawn to the unspoilt charms of Woodwark Bay, just north of Queensland’s Airlie Beach.

The boutique resort is a steal at just $19,000 per night, for a minimum of four nights during peak season.

“In the midst of the Whitsundays there is a jewel – containing exquisitely appointed accommodation for up to 14 guests, offering over 100 kilometres of roads to be explored, providing a private lake to be water-skied and fished on, waterfalls and picnic huts and more surrounded by 50,000 acres of uninterrupted and untracked national parkland,” the website says.

Don’t worry, it includes breakfast lunch and dinner, but not the booze bill and other extras like quad bike hire. Although you had better be ready with the cash up front.

There is a 30 per cent deposit required nine weeks before arrival, a $10,000 “damage and incidentals” deposit plus a $1500 per day booked, advance on “out-of-pocket expenses”.

If nothing else, it proves that the resort’s owner, Jodee Rich, has learnt a thing or two about billing since the failure of One.Tel.

Presumably James Packer has not graced the serene environs of Woodwark Bay since his visit just prior to the telco’s collapse.

The website does not mention if mobile reception is any good.  Grand Slam

Four months ago Fairfax Media reported the awkward fact that the former executive chairman of failed stockbroker BBY, Glenn (son of Ken) Rosewall, was still a member of an official ASIC panel charged with taking action over breaches of the market integrity rules.

OK, it took a bit of time, but the awkward moment is over, according to the corporate cop’s website, which no longer lists him as a member.

It’s just as well given allegations that BBY might have misused client funds, misled its lenders, and breached the Corporations Act.  Decked chairs

Amid the smorgasbord of awards to clog up the run towards Christmas, CBD thought it worth mentioning the lunchtime trinkets being arranged by publisher Peter Charlton at Sydney pasta bowl, Machiavelli, on December 14.

CBD is being lined up as a judge on the panel to help determine the best boardroom chairs in the country.

But your scribe’s skills are probably more adept at picking the other big awards for the event – picking the corporate chairs whose performance places them at the other end of the performance spectrum.

Now that will be a tough short list to whittle down.

Got a tip? [email protected]杭州龙凤论坛

The Wallabies’ work in England is done

To catch rugby fever at full tide and share in the excitement, the Wallabies should jump on a plane and come home now.

Surely their job is done. To knock England out of their own World Cup – boot them out of their pool, out of their own backyard, send them to bed without dinner – is an achievement that has brought greater glee and glory to n rugby than winning the tournament could ever bring. To a ticket-holder on the 2015 Wallabies bandwagon, last week’s match at Twickenham was our final. From here, it can only go downhill, and that includes if they beat the All Blacks and win the final. It cannot get any better than what has already happened.

The clever organisers of the World Cup had already recognised that the pool stage would be the climax of the event, by putting , England and Wales together in the pool of mortification. How this happened was because three years ago, when the draw was decided, and England were top-eight teams, and Wales were ranked ninth. So according to the formula, these three nations fitted into a group together. Oh, and throw in Fiji as well to prove you have a sense of humour. Now, why the seedings were decided three years ago – closer to the last World Cup than this one – is a matter of organisation. Anyone who watches international rugby would know that tails wag dogs, carts precede horses, and officials’ and organisers’ priorities are top of the agenda. The travel plans of administrators, club presidents, tour groups, sundry hangers-on in ties and blazers, TMOs, water-carriers, medicos and most importantly referees had to be set in place three years ago, or else something might go tewwibly tewwibly wong. It’s a bit like setting scrums. Get that right and everything else will follow, even if it chews up half the game. Screw the actual rugby.

And so, to cut a long story short, POMS GONE!!! Well, to cut it a bit longer, England fell victim to the might and power of clockwork-like travel itineraries. The host nation may be out of it, but the poobahs have confirmed reservations and good seats, so all is in order.

There was also a certain selection matter, though Sam Burgess could hardly be blamed for losing a game where his sole contribution was to come on at the end and belt someone in the head. It would be cruel yet true to say that England would have been better off recruiting Vladimir Putin than Burgess as an inside-centre. Putin is a winner. Burgess, on the other hand, is a leaguie. Putin can convert to any sport, as proven by his seven ice-hockey goals and receipt of the world’s biggest trophy this week. Burgess, meanwhile, is the acme of the single-code rugby league forward: he can charge into the line 30 times a game, make 40 tackles, play 80 minutes, and read the play like few others. In league. He is also an inspiring leader. In league. If you had to custom-build a forward for that code, your model would be Burgess. How anyone thought these skills could be converted into a specialist midfield union back within one season is a matter, as Geoff Toovey would say, that requires an investigation. Incredible that the English thought they needed three years to construct a timetable yet only six months to create a rugby player.

It’s also where the Americans have got it wrong about Jarryd Hayne. He’s not a “rugby” player. The difference between a rugby player and a league player is the difference between Sam Burgess for England and Sam Burgess for South Sydney. It’s a whole world. Somehow when Burgess left the NRL to pursue his dream, you can’t believe that dream involved sitting on the bench and watching his team GET KNOCKED OUT OF THE WORLD CUP and then copping the blame for it. If he comes back where he belongs, he will be garlanded with roses.

In case that seems like enough gloating, it’s barely even started. Four more years! ENGLAND OUT has such a sweet ring to it, like the beautiful echoing silence of no more Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. (Strange – for a country that has made an art form of crowd songs, and of music in general, why does rugby get stuck on that one track? Does it matter? No! England are out!)

For an n to see England embarrassed at rugby is to feel how Queenslanders must feel when they destroy NSW in State of Origin. There is no mercy, no relent. We suspect that losing doesn’t hurt them as much as it hurts us, and they might even have a sneaking admiration for us that comes from the fact that, deep down, they feel that little bit of superiority that won’t be shaken by a mere sporting result. A chip on the shoulder can feel so damn good when you win. Queenslander! Aussie-Aussie-Aussie!

But where does it leave the Wallabies? Is there anything more they can achieve? Can our No. 10 ever again scale the heights of a scoreline that read: Bernard Foley 28, England 13? It’s unlikely, and I would go so far as to send this message to Michael Cheika and his mighty men: all is forgiven, even before it has happened. Your work there is done. The rest will be icing, even if you don’t win another game.

Peter Garrett uses TV interview to say Kevin Rudd was a danger to China

Peter Garrett gets teary in a “tell-all” interview with Channel 7’s Sunday Night program. Photo: Sunday Night Peter Garrett in a “tell-all” interview with Channel 7’s Sunday Night program. Photo: Sunday Night

Peter Garrett in a “tell-all” interview with Channel 7’s Sunday Night program. Photo: Sunday Night

Peter Garrett says Kevin Rudd was a danger to . Photo: Supplied

Peter Garrett has become the latest politician to pick at the scab of politics past, labelling Kevin Rudd a “megalomaniac” and saying the former Prime Minister put the safety of in jeopardy in a lengthy interview with Channel 7’s Sunday Night program.

The 25-minute interview, promoted as his first tell-all since leaving office, covered Garrett’s career as frontman of Midnight Oil, his activism, family life, eventual transition into politics, and his “sorrow” of having four people die as part of the “pink batts” insulation scheme.

The interview has aired just in time for the release of his biography Big Blue Sky on Wednesday.

In an extract from the memoir, read out by interviewer Melissa Doyle, Garrett wrote supporting Kevin Rudd was “certainly the biggest” mistake he made in his political career.

He didn’t back down from that position in the interview.

“I’ve been particularly strong in this book about leadership and Rudd’s leadership and I think it needed to be said,” Garrett said.

“I’m critical of him, that’s true, very critical, but I think for good reason.”

Another of his criticisms is that Mr Rudd jeopardised the safety of .

“It’s a big call, but I stand by it,” Garrett said. He added Mr Rudd treated people with “an enormous amount of contempt” and made “the business of the country almost ungovernable”.

When pushed on what danger he feared Mr Rudd posed, Garrett said the former PM was “unpredictable” and he didn’t know what he “could or would do”.

“I mean even with [John] Howard you know where he stood,” he said.

“I’m not a great fan of John Howard’s, and he wouldn’t be a great fan of mine, but that aspect of his Prime Ministership I sort of understand and respond to.”

However, not all the claims in the memoir were elaborated on.

One passage, which details an envelope full of cash Garrett says he received, was refuted on air. The claim begins with a statement that a “pro-pokies push” was led by current or former “Labor office-bearers”.

“The clubs were generous donors to candidates,” the passage continues.

“In fact, a ClubsNSW representative had given me an envelope full of cash at an early meet-the-candidates event for NSW MPs. When I realised what it was, I gave it back.”

When Doyle brought up the allegation, he stepped back from the claim, saying it was a cheque in the envelope, not cash, and he didn’t believe it was a bribe.

“I’ve never said it was and I’m not saying I’m under any pressure,” Garrett said.

“I think the important thing is to correct the record.”

Garrett also delved into his past, talking about his mother’s tragic death in a house fire that he managed to escape from.

“We were quite close, so it was a big period of grief and sorrow,” an emotional Garrett said, on the verge of tears.

“Ultimately I realised she left me with a great passion for life.”

His mother’s tragic death meant he felt for the families of men who died installing insulation, the program said.

“The fact that we had the death of four young kids in the insulation scheme that the government established to deal with the Global Financial Crisis, that was a lowlight in lots of ways,” he said.

“The obvious one was feeling sorrow and the hardness of parents losing someone in a government scheme which I was responsible for.”

To wrap up the illuminating interview, he categorically ruled out a return to politics and switched back to musician mode when asked if Midnight Oil would consider getting back together.

He conceded “if the stars lined up” it could be possible.

Lloyd Williams looks over his Melbourne Cup team from Coolmore at Werribee

Four-time Melbourne Cup winner Lloyd Williams. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoLloyd Williams has lauded Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien as he admired his latest Melbourne Cup hopes from afar at Werribee on Sunday morning, while ruling out having a Caulfield Cup runner.

Williams, who has won the four Melbourne Cups with Just A Dash, What A Nuisance, Efficient and Green Moon, targets the race every year but has taken a different approach this year.

He bought shares in a group of horses from Coolmore, including Bondi Beach and Kingfisher, which arrived with the second shipment of raiders on Saturday.

“It is not very good to see your horses here, is it. It’s a bit like a jail,” said Williams, who made the trip to Werribee for a rare public appearance to visit his horses.

Williams held court in front of a small group on a viewing platform looking at Highland Reel, Coolmore’s Cox Plate fancy,  and Bondi Beach under saddle. They  both went out on the track briefly only 12 hours after arriving, while Kingfisher was restricted to walking amount the compound in a rug.

The former head of Crown Casino  spent time in Europe this year and watched O’Brien’s training methods and was pleased to be able to have horses in the Ballydoyle stable.

“In any of the business I have been in, Aidan shows the most attention to detail of anyone I have ever  met. He is amazing the way he trains and knows his horses,” Williams said. “His record is incredible. He has 245 group 1 wins and he is only 45, imagine what he can finish with.”

Williams’ Macedon Lodge operation has another Melbourne Cup prospect in Amralah, which was dominant in the Herbert Power Stakes on Saturday, earning exemption from the Caulfield Cup ballot.

But he won’t be running in the Caulfield Cup, Williams said. “His next run will be in either the Mackinnon [Stakes] or Melbourne Cup.  He won’t run in both, he will run in one and that will his last run for the spring.”

Amralah has 51.5kg in the Melbourne Cup and a penalty of 1.5kg would almost assure him in of a place in the Cup. Chief handicapper Greg Carpenter will announce a penalty on Monday.

Fawkner, which faded to run fifth in the Caulfield Stakes, had pulled up “a bit jarry” and had found the ground a bit hard, according to Williams.

Bondi Beach and Kingfisher are likely to head to Williams’ property after completing  their quarantine at Werribee.

He said three-year-old Bondi Beach had the right profile for the Melbourne Cup after his controversial second in the English St Leger last start. Kingfisher is a year older and the long, lean stayer was second to in the Irish Derby last year.

“He is your classic European stayer,” Williams said. “They are in good order, we have three weeks [from now]. When we can get out of jail here they will thrive. It will be good to get them to Macedon Lodge.”

‘My HSC results were average at best’: Mike Baird reassures students ahead of exams

Mike Baird with his future wife Kerryn shortly after he did his final exams. Photo: Facebook NSW Premier Mik Baird and his wife Kerryn as they look today.

Gifted girls suffer the most stress, study findsClass of 95: Where are they now?Follow SMH Student on FacebookHSC Study Guide

When tens of thousands of students sit their first Higher School Certificate exam on Monday, they’ll have a high-profile supporter on their side: the NSW Premier.

In a Facebook post on Sunday night, Mike Baird shared some of his own academic history to help reassure students who will sit down for the first English paper at 10.20am.

“Back when I was in school, a typical report card said something like ‘Mike talks too much in class’,” the post said.

“Truth be told, I was much more interested in catching waves (and girls) than studying… and my HSC results were average at best.”

But his academic career didn’t define the rest of his life.

Shortly after his school days, he met his future wife Kerryn on a beach on the south coast and school was “suddenly a distant memory”.

“Here’s the truth of it… Life isn’t defined by your exams. It begins after they are finished,” Baird said.

“It’s always important to give everything you do your very best shot, but make sure you keep some perspective.

“When you walk out of that final exam, you’ve got the world at your feet… And most of us oldies will tell you that your best days are yet to come.”

He finished with a simple message: “Good luck guys”.

HSC exams begin tomorrow. Back when I was in school, a typical report card said something like “Mike talks too much in…Posted by Mike Baird on  Saturday, October 10, 2015

ATO to defend claims of creative accounting

The n Taxation Office has been unable to give a detailed breakdown on how it has calculated its savings. Photo: Louie Douvis More public service newsATO ‘unable to identify savings’

The n Taxation Office will appear at the Fair Work Commission  this week to defend itself from union claims it is using dodgy figures to support a wage offer to its 21,000 public servants.

One workplace union has taken action at the Commission, alleging the ATO’s program of cuts will save it much more than the $96 million it has claimed during wage talks.

Any vote on the unpopular pay offer on the table will now be delayed until the Commission has heard the case and made a decision.

The Tax Office has offered staff a 4.5 per cent pay rise over three years, which it said would cost $96 million.Under the controversial bargaining rules set by the federal government, the pay increases offered to public servants must be linked to detailed productivity measures so it is clear how wage rises will be funded.

But like most departments and agencies, the ATO’s accountants have had a tough time putting together a package of “productivity offsets” they could get past the Finance Department and the n Public Service Commission, who are enforcing the financial side of the government’s policy.

In correspondence with its public servants and unions, the ATO has been unable to give a detailed breakdown on how it has calculated its $96 million in savings.

Instead, the Tax Office named general productivity initiatives, such as the ‘Reinventing the ATO’ reform program.

It also cited its moves to tackle its rampant sick leave problem, changes to flexible working hours of executive level 1 staff, and streamlining the enterprise agreement.

But when asked for a detailed breakdown of calculations, the ATO said it was “unable to identify savings which are directly attributable to each of the four components of new productivity savings”.

n Services Union official Jeff Lapidos​ has made it clear he believes the ATO was “plucking numbers out of the air”.

The union’s legal team will appear before the Commission in Melbourne on Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to convince the industrial tribunal to force the ATO to reveal the numbers behind its publicly stated costings.

“The hearing is about whether the ATO should be ordered to provide the ASU with information that would reveal the extent of the productivity and cost savings it expects to achieve over the next four years from its digital transformation program and from rationalising its accommodation holdings,” Mr Lapidos stated in a bulletin to his members.

“The ASU’s enterprise agreement negotiators believe the ATO expects to make far greater productivity and cost savings than it has revealed to its employees.

“We expect the provision of this information will enable us to negotiate a better outcome than currently proposed by the ATO.”

A Tax Office spokeswoman did not answer a question on whether the union official’s assertion was true, but said the office had made attempts to clarify its position with the ASU.

“The ATO has attempted on a number of occasions to clarify the various issues with the ASU and while progress was made, some differences on interpretation on several matters remain so there will now be a formal hearing at the Fair Work Commission on October 14 and 15, 2015,” she said.

Sydney FC’s forward line will be force to be reckoned with, says Graham Arnold

Head to head: Sydney FC’s George Blackwood deflects the ball against Melbourne City on Saturday.They might have failed to land the killer blow against Melbourne City on Saturday night but Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold believes it won’t be long before his attack is menacing A-League defences.

Sydney should have emerged with all three points from the encounter against the league’s richest club after a dominant second half at Allianz Stadium but couldn’t convert a series of half chances, with Filip Holosko’s goal just before half-time cancelling out Wade Dekker’s opener.

Yet while their possession dominance did not yield three points, Arnold had no qualms with how his attack is shaping up, even without last season’s Golden Boot winner Marc Janko and pacy winger Bernie Ibini.  “It’s an exciting front line. Defending is easy but the fluency with the ball will take time.

“In my history as a coach, we start slow-ish and we build into the competition. By December, January we hit our straps and come home with a wet sail,” he said.

“I’m really excited about our front line. [Milos] Ninkovic showed some absolute quality. You’ve got [Alex] Brosque, Holosko, you’ve got Shane Smeltz.

“Then there’s young George Blackwood, who I think has a hell of a future in the game and you can bring someone like Matty Simon on who can terrorise people.”

Blackwood should have sealed the game for the hosts just before full-time when he was delivered a superb cross by Rhyan Grant, only for City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen to deny him at close range. “It’s a learning process. When the ball comes across that way, the keeper is going to automatically  move across to cover his near post, so you hit it to the far post,” Arnold said. “That’s a lesson he’ll learn.  He showed some bright spots and he’s got a big future with us at Sydney.”

The good news for the Sky Blues is that Holosko has been cleared of serious injury, despite clutching his hamstring in the second half.

The club confirmed to Fairfax Media on Sunday it was no more than cramp and the Slovakian would be fit to face the Newcastle Jets next Saturday night.

Arnold said he was looking forward to the ex-Besiktas forward getting accustomed to the A-League.

“You’ve got a guy that’s come from a totally different competition, he’s got to get used to what’s around him,” he said.

“As an attacker especially, it’s about fluency. If you’re playing around people you’re not familiar with, it’s going to take time.

“He needs to get used to the runs we want him to make. Once he got the goal and the second half, while he was out there he was very good.”

The ever-versatile Grant had a solid game at left back and may be used again in coming weeks, with Arnold fuming at Alex Gersbach’s disrupted pre-season.

“Alex was away with the under-20s, he didn’t return until Thursday and didn’t train with us for two weeks. I worry about putting him out on the field. He had glandular fever, he had a hip flexor injury.

“The Young Socceroos still took him away and he twice played 60minutes. It killed his pre-season,” he said.