Category Archives: 杭州桑拿

Ex-AWB boss Trevor Flugge failed to blow whistle on millions sent to Saddam’s regime

A former chairman of the n Wheat Board failed to blow the whistle on the exporter’s contributions of $300 million in cash to the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, a trial has been told.

Trevor Flugge was obliged to report AWB was making secret payments under the guise of trucking and service fees between 1999 and 2003, when he knew the money was going to the Iraqi regime, but failed to do so, the Supreme Court of Victoria heard on Monday.

Mr Flugge, AWB’s chairman between 1995 and 2002, and Peter Geary, the company’s former general manager for trading, are alleged to have breached their respective duties in allowing the payments to occur at a time when Iraq was one of ‘s biggest export markets for wheat.

The n Securities and Investments Commission has brought the civil case against Mr Flugge, who faces four allegations of breaching his duties, and Mr Geary, who faces 13 allegations. Each breach carries a maximum fine of $200,000.

Norman O’Bryan, SC, for ASIC, said AWB and the Iraqi Grain Board agreed to inflate the price of n wheat by 25 per cent to disguise the secret fees, which were paid to a Jordanian trucking company.

ASIC alleges the transport company sent that money to Iraq’s coffers at a time when Iraq was an international pariah for the 1990 invasion of Kuwait and desperately needed international currency.  was part of a coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 and toppled the Hussein regime.

The price AWB accepted for its wheat was lower than that of what its international competitors wanted, the court heard, which helped AWB maintain its lucrative contracts. The trucking and service fees paid contravened United Nations sanctions.

“The AWB became an exporter of two commodities from – wheat and cash,” Mr O’Bryan said in his opening.

Lawyers for Mr Flugge and Mr Geary are yet to address the court. Mr Flugge said in a statement on Monday “that I fervently believe now, as I did from day one, that I have done nothing wrong”.

Mr O’Bryan said Mr Flugge was a “hands on” chairman who regularly visited Iraq and who regularly spoke of the importance of the Iraqi market to successive federal trade ministers Tim Fischer and Mark Vaile.

Mr Flugge should have raised the alarm about what was happening, but did nothing, Mr O’Bryan said. At the very least, he failed to seek more answers.

“His obligation was to stand up and say to those in authority in the company, ‘We must not do this, this must stop. It is wrong, it is evil, it is improper and most importantly … there is a serious risk we will get caught’,” Mr O’Bryan said.

The court heard the transport company steadily raised its trucking fees from $US12 per metric tonne of wheat to $US51 a metric tonne, yet AWB sought no explanation.

“It simply closed its eyes and paid,” Mr O’Bryan said.

He said emails showed Mr Geary had knowledge of the secret payments, and did nothing to prevent AWB entering the contracts.

In his statement, Mr Flugge said: “My family and I have had to live with untested allegations, rumours and innuendo levelled over the years. For the sake of my family I trust that these will finally be put to rest.”

The court heard AWB’s shares steadily dropped following the revelations of the Iraq contracts until it was taken over by a Canadian company in 2010. It now trades as Agrium Asia Pacific.

The trial, before Justice Ross Robson, is expected to run for up to 10 weeks.

A ‘pariah’ state: Dr Mahathir intensifies attack on Malaysian PM Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is at the centre of corruption accusations. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBangkok: Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has branded the country he led for 22 years a “pariah” state where people have lost trust in their government.

“In the eyes of the world Malaysia has become a pariah state, a state where anyone can be hauled up and questioned by the police, detained and charged through abusing laws of the country,” Dr Mahathir wrote in his latest blog.

Intensifying pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak to resign, Dr Mahathir said the government’s refusal to properly investigate a corruption scandal “has intensified the lack of confidence and distrust of people in government.”

Dr Mahathir, 91, made the comments after the office of Malaysia’s attorney-general last week declined to act on a recommendation by the country’s central bank to begin criminal proceedings against a debt-ridden state investment fund for allegedly breaking foreign exchange rules.

The 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund was founded by Mr Najib, who retains oversight of it through chairmanship of an advisory board.

Dr Mahathir questioned whether Mr Najib was involved in the attorney-general’s decision to rebuff a confidential report by Bank Negara Malaysia central bank saying the fund had breached rules that govern the movement of cash overseas for investment.

“By dismissing this case suspicions will remain in the minds of the people,” said Dr Mahathir, who has waged a relentless campaign for Mr Najib’s resignation.

The stand-off between the government and central bank comes amid the biggest political controversy to engulf Mr Najib, 62, an English-educated son of a former prime minister who has had close ties to successive n governments.

Mr Najib has refused to explain how $US700 million ($956 million) turned up in his personal bank accounts before national elections in 2013 or what happened to the money.

He denies any wrongdoing, or taking money for personal gain.

Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has said the money was a donation but did not specify the purpose of the contribution or identify the alleged donor, who it said was based in the Middle East.

The scandal has prompted a crackdown on Mr Najib’s political opponents, including officials in the long ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

Pressure on the Prime Minister intensified last week when the sultans of Malaysia’s nine states urged a proper investigation into the scandal that was “adversely affecting the world’s view of Malaysia” and its economy.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is said to have opened an investigation into money-laundering allegations related to the fund, but Malaysian police later said it had not been contacted by the FBI.

Investigations are on-going into 1MDB in at least four countries, including Singapore and Switzerland.

Despite the ringgit currency plunging to 17-year lows, Mr Najib appears to have the support of a majority of UMNO divisions which have benefited from entrenched money politics and the party’s largesse.

Critics accuse Mr Najib’s supporters of stirring racial sentiments among the majority Muslim Malays to shore up his support.

Dr Mahathir ruled Malaysia from 1986 to 2003.

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Senate push for more women on government boards

Opposed to the law change: Minister for Women Michaelia Cash. Photo: Andrew MearesCarolyn Hewson has been a full-time worker for more than 35 years.

In that time she has been an economist, investment banker and director on boards such as Westpac, AMP, CSR and AGL.

Most of these roles have been in a “male dominated” environment. But she always expected that as more women stayed at school and graduated from university, “change was just a matter of time”.

Ms Hewson, who is currently a director at BHP Billiton, said that for a long time she made excuses about the lack of balance in corporate and government boards.

But now, in 2015, only 20 per cent of ASX200 directors are women and less than 40 per cent of government board members are women.

“We see only slow progress … there are no longer any valid excuses,” she said.

For this reason, Ms Hewson is backing a bill proposed by a group of Senate crossbenchers that would make it compulsory for federal government boards to be at least 40 per cent female.

In 2010, Labor introduced a 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men diversity target for government boards, but according to the bill’s explanatory note, this is only “aspirational”.

Ms Hewson told a Senate inquiry that the government could lead and influence the corporate sector with the bill.

“Do not underestimate the important message that this legislation for balanced representation will send to corporate , the civil society sector and wider n community,” Ms Hewson said.

The bill, sponsored by independents Nick Xenophon, Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus and Greens senator Larissa Waters, would not impose penalties on non-compliant portfolios, but would seek an explanation.

Women’s Leadership Institute founder Carol Schwartz also backed the bill, noting that “merit” was not an objective term. But Institute of Public Affairs senior fellow Mikayla Novak said the bill would only have a “weak signalling effect” in the private sector and would not necessarily create broader gender improvements.

The bill stands a good chance of passing the Senate, with Labor saying it was “closely examining” the bill and would confirm its position after the inquiry.

But it appears doomed in the lower house, with Minister for Women Michaelia Cash saying the bill will “duplicate existing mechanisms and runs counter to the government’s commitment to reduce red tape”.

“The government supports appointments based on merit,” Senator Cash said.

The latest figures released last week showed that the overall number of women on federal government boards has dropped slightly over the past year, with only 39.1 per cent of positions held by women.

This is down from 39.7 per cent in 2014 and 41.7 per cent in 2013.

Of the new board appointments in 2014-15, 38.4 per cent went to women, while 30.1 per cent of all chair and deputy chair roles were filled by women, another slight drop on last year’s figures.

It also found that only 10 out of 18 portfolio areas met the 40 per cent target. Veterans’ affairs and employment were the worst performing portfolios with women comprising less than 25 per cent of board positions.

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Premier Mike Baird heckled as he calls on councils to back local government reforms

NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Louise KennerleyThe Premier has urged the state’s councillors to get behind his government’s push for fewer councils – even if it means some of them would be out of a job.

Mike Baird was greeted by applause and repeatedly interrupted by hecklers as he used his address to the Local Government NSW annual conference to push the case for reforms viewed with hostility by many in his audience.

“There’s no doubt that if we have less councils we have hundreds of millions of dollars that we can put to work for our ratepayers,” he said.

“The choice of the councils is do you want to put that towards lower rates, you want to put that towards more services, you want to put that towards more infrastructure for your community.”

The Rosehill Gardens Racecourse event comes just days before the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal delivers its report to government, setting out whether councils are “fit” or “unfit” as merged groups or individual councils.

Mr Baird told the crowd that there would be a “last period of consultation” before any changes were expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

“If there is an opportunity on the back of that report for you to take actions in the interests of your community, my call for you is to do it,” Mr Baird said.

“And that might mean that some here are no longer councillors. Some here may no longer be in local government beyond the next election.”

The Premier also used the speech to call out “all types of myths” he said were being circulated by campaigns opposing mergers, including that sporting fields would close, libraries would be lost and rates would rise.

“Not one part of that is true,” Mr Baird said.

“Oh come on,” a heckler shot back.

But Mr Baird said he was “determined to finish this process with local government”.

“Change has to happen and I know that many here will be resistant to that change – and I can see the placards, thank you,” he said to laughter, then applause. “I had the constructive feedback on the way in, thank you.”

About seven protesters from the Save Our Councils coalition also awaited Mr Baird as he left the venue.

“Don’t smile,” shouted one, “hold a referendum!” Protesters confront Premier Mike Baird over council amalgamations. @abcnewsSydneypic.twitter杭州龙凤论坛m/tmEwdshGnq— Luke Rosen (@luke_rosen1) October 11, 2015

Save Our Councils spokeswoman Nella Gaughan​ said the only group to benefit from “huge mega councils” would be developers.

“Developers know that fewer councils and fewer councillors will reduce the ability of local people to oppose inappropriate developments,” she said.

Local Government Minister Paul Toole​ is scheduled to address the conference on Tuesday.

Quiet cyclone season predicted for China as El Nino sets in

Cyclone Raquel made history earlier this year. Photo: BoM Cyclones can have a big impact on ‘s neighbours, such as Vanuatu, which was hit by Cyclone Pam in March. Photo: Lawrence Smith

This year’s powerful El Nino in the Pacific will likely have one benefit for , with fewer tropical cyclones expected in the region, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

There is only a 9 per cent chance that will have more than the 11 cyclones typical for the November-April season, the bureau said in its seasonal outlook released on Monday. Of those 11, four storms usually cross the n mainland coast.

In El Nino years, weather patterns shift eastwards and conditions are less conducive for cyclones to form in the n region. Those patterns, including a stalling or reversal of the easterly equatorial trade winds in the Pacific, also tend to reduce rainfall and lift temperatures over much of .

Residents in northern areas, though, are warned to be prepared for cyclones since tropical storms are still likely, including at least one cyclone making landfall, if previous El Nino years are any guide.

“An El Nino reduces the risk [of cyclones] but it doesn’t reduce it to zero,” Andrew Watkins, manager of the bureau’s climate prediction services, said. “What people still clearly need to do is to prepare.”

While fewer cyclones would be welcomed by many, drought-hit farmers may be less happy with the prospect of fewer rain events.

“For coastal regions it’s definitely a good sign,” Dr Watkins said. “But for inland areas, the breakdown of tropical cyclones into rain depressions often brings the best rainfall.”

The following bureau chart shows the tracks of cyclones between 1997-98 – during the biggest El Nino on record – and 2009-10:

Extreme year

The outlook comes as climate experts marvel at what has been a year of extreme weather events, including tropical cyclones.

Cyclone Raquel made history as the earliest cyclone on record for the Queensland zone after it formed near the Solomon Islands in July.

The north Pacific, meanwhile, has had a record number of hurricanes. These also included more days with multiple cyclones spinning simultaneously in 2015 than in all previous years combined during the satellite era, Philip Klotzbach​, a climatologist specialising in tropical storms at the Colorado State University, noted last month.

Other unusual events included Hurricane Oho changing track earlier this month to head eastwards towards the Canadian-Alaska region: Update on Hurricane #Oho. Still on a highly anomalous—and nearly unprecedented—path toward British Columbia/Alaska: pic.twitter杭州龙凤论坛m/GkOEQpd6GL— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 8, 2015

This year’s El Nino is now among the fourth strongest on record, with sea-surface temperatures over a large area of the central and eastern Pacific at least two degrees warmer than average.

Cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons – as the storms are known in the north-west Pacific – typically need sea-surface temperatures of at least 26.6 degrees to form.

Climate change is predicted to lead to a similar number of cyclones for the n region but they may be more intense once they form. Typhoons may become both more frequent and more intense in their basin, the north-west Pacific, climatologists say.

NSW Blues skipper Steve Smith hails arrival of ‘mature’ opener Nic Maddinson

Slam Dunk: Ben Dunk is bowled by Nathan Lyon. Photo: Chris Lane Centurion: Nic Maddinson bats during the Matador Cup match between Tasmania and NSW at Hurstville Oval. Photo: Mark Nolan

Test skipper Steve Smith believes the emergence of Nic Maddinson as a “mature” player is a huge boon for n cricket after his NSW teammate hammered 118 not out in the eight-wicket one-day victory over Tasmania on Monday.

Maddinson hammered 15 fours and four sixes in his run-a-ball knock – the last six winning  the game with 25 balls to spare – in a knock that ensured NSW remained undefeated in the Matador Cup. He couldn’t have picked a better time to impress with the national selection panel, including  chairman Rod Marsh, at Hurstville alongside n coach Darren Lehmann.

Maddinson said his summer’s goal was to build upon each innings after throwing away chances to make big scores in previous campaigns.

“Nic Maddinson was outstanding,” Smith said. “He’s maturing and starting to play some very good cricket which is exciting not just for NSW but n cricket as well – he’s a huge talent. He’s been hitting the ball nicely all pre-season and I think he’s done that over the last couple of years; scored runs in pre-season games but died off when the real games have come around. He’s started well and hopefully he can keep it up.”

NSW dismissed Tasmania  for 217 after Mitchell Starc bagged 5-39 and they were set 193 to win off 43 overs. Rain twice stopped play. Maddinson wasted no time mowing them down and finished with the second one-day century of his career a week after what could well have been his breakthrough 108 against the CA XI.

“The emphasis has been [being] hungry for runs,” said Maddinson, the man of the match. “I’m not looking for the boundary ball quite as often and be happy to get down the other end and just chill out for a little while and soak up some balls in the game.”

Maddinson and Eddie Cowan launched the Blues off to a flying start with a 117-run partnership before Cowan was stumped for 47 off Xavier Doherty’s bowling.

NSW skipper Steve Smith strode to the crease the highest run-scorer in the tournament and was dismissed the same way off the very next ball. However, Maddinson and Shane Watson, who finished 25 not out, steered the home team to victory.

NSW fast bowling coach Geoff Lawson hailed Starc as a great example of what a paceman with rhythm and confidence can achieve after Starc took his 19th tournament wicket at an average of six.

“In a few of the matches he’s played, especially against the CA XI, he was entitled to have a rest after eight overs but he was ‘Nah, give me the ball’,” Lawson said. “He’s like any athlete in form; he’s in a great vein and wants to keep going.”

However, his first three overs were a far cry from the efforts that had terrorised batsmen over the last week, yielding 0-24.

Tasmania’s Dom Michael inflicted plenty of damage and seemed determined to help his state regain pride after their shock last-start loss to the CA XI. While willing, Michael didn’t get much of an opportunity to savour his half century – he was bowled by Starc  for 54 – providing the catalyst for Starc to run through the Tasmanians.

Housing bust now the greatest recession risk, say investment banks

Analysts have flagged an oversupply in the housing market as a potential risk. Photo: Erin JonassonHouse prices are set for a 7.5 per cent decline from March next year, with the resulting slowdown hitting the broader economy and risking a recession, economists have warned.

Several leading investment banks have tipped that ‘s housing market, which has been a driver of economic activity as mining has slowed, is close to peaking as household budgets are stretched and supply begins to outstrip demand.

Although softening prices would make the market more accessible to aspiring home owners, they could trap highly leveraged buyers and push up unemployment as the sector cooled.

Macquarie forecast in a research note on Monday that the nation was looking at a 7.5 per cent reduction from “peak to trough”.

Credit Suisse goes a step further, warning that property investment in is “riskier than the equity market”, particularly in NSW.

“Home-buying conditions have deteriorated sharply,” equity analysts Damien Boey and Hasan Tevfik​ wrote.

“Housing is no longer the safe haven asset relative to equities.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Alex Joiner said household debt measures had soared to their highest ever levels, raising the risk of a “hard landing”.

The dwelling price to income ratio is at “never before observed” levels of five and a half times, and the household debt to gross domestic product ratio is at a “record high” 133.6 per cent.

That level of debt coupled with a downturn in housing could further crimp consumer spending and property investment once the Reserve Bank of was forced to tackle inflation by lifting interest rates.

He said that while the chance of a “hard landing” in the Chinese economy was small, a sharp decline in demand for housing in overheated markets such as Melbourne and Sydney was more probable and would drag the broader economy with it.

“We are not forecasting collapse or the bursting of any perceived bubble,” Mr Joiner wrote in a note.

“That said, it is not difficult to envisage a more hard landing scenario in the property market.

“This would clearly have a greater negative macroeconomic impact channelled through households and the residential construction cycle.” Housing oversupply

Housing oversupply was also a risk as population growth slowed and property prices in ‘s two biggest cities remained inaccessible to many, he said.

Mr Joiner’s concerns chime with several other economists and analysts, who argue that ‘s reliance on residential property construction and buying to fill the hole left by the downturn in mining infrastructure spending and, more recently, commodity prices, has made the country vulnerable to a further growth slowdown, or even recession.

Efforts by the n Prudential Regulation Authority to lean against the stimulatory effects of record low interest rates by controlling speculative investment appear to be working, but could prove counterproductive, some argued.

“Housing has certainly been the sector keeping afloat post the mining boom. However, the sector appears to have peaked as regulators apply restrictive measures,” JCP Investment Partners’ head of of institutional business, Wes Campbell, wrote.

“Macro prudential policy tightening, tighter lending standards, interest-only loans being discouraged by regulators and the repricing of credit are all expected to negatively impact [on] house prices and the demand for credit,” he wrote.

He rated the chance of recession – after nearly 25 years without – as “elevated”.

“The combination of weak disposable income and high household debt is concerning, particularly given may have to raise interest rates in the future to follow the United States,” Mr Campbell warned.

Macquarie also cautioned that slowing population growth could eventually lead to an overhang in new housing supply, which could, ultimately, drive property prices down and leave over-leveraged households exposed to negative equity.

“Building approvals and housing commencements, at 200,000 plus, are running well ahead of estimated underlying demand, which we peg at 170,000 to 180,000 once current and prospective population growth rates are incorporated,” analysts James McIntyre and Kevin Ge wrote on Monday.

They said supply had undershot demand for “several years”, and this had been reflected in higher property prices.

This would have to reverse, they argued, once supply outstripped demand.

They forecast a slowing in housing starts in 2016 and 2017, particularly in the high-density apartments segment.

“This is likely to be accompanied by weaker dwelling prices as the market struggles to absorb the currently bulging supply pipeline,” they wrote.

BRENT JENKINS: Risk-takers vital to our future

THE Hunter’s natural resources have supported economic growth in the region for 150 years. In agriculture, mining, equine and wine, this region has the resources to support export markets into the future with Newcastle’s world-class port as the focal point.

However, it is no longer a recipe for success to just export natural resources.

Commodity cycles have driven coal prices down and adverse weather events have played havoc with agricultural crops and produce. The key to economic sustainability for the Hunter is to utilise our skills to add value to these resources, to not only reduce the risk of commodity or natural cycles, which will always be present, but to increase employment and economic value.

To do this requires a skilled workforce, connection to global markets for goods and services, engineering and design capabilities, and an eco-system that supports investment and entrepreneurial activity.

We have many of these factors in the region and the Hunter has the potential to transform itself into a globally competitive region.

The university’s move to engage more with the economic growth of the region has the potential to unlock value like its namesake in the UK and cities such as Pittsburgh and Oklahoma in the US have done. Our port has more capacity and our regional logistics chain is world-class. However, there are a number of factors that the Hunter seems to be lacking.

We have limited access to finance, especially at the higher-risk end that supports new industries and start-ups.

We are well behind the world in innovation and productivity, especially in preparing for the inevitable impact that digitalisation will have on the workforce.

The recent CEDA report – ’s Future Workforce – estimated that up to 5 million jobs could disappear within the next 15 years as technology revolutionises our working lives. The job-loss rate could be much higher in regional areas.

How will these changes play out in our region, where we already have youth unemployment at crisis levels?

Hunter Research Foundation’s (HRF) own research shows that only 10 per cent of Hunter businesses export internationally and 71 per cent have a website that is used to conduct business.

These are critically low figures given the globalisation of markets and the digitalisation of our economy. Why is this?

The first place one needs to look is business confidence. HRF has recorded a downward trend in business confidence since 2010.

We will not see the level of investment required to capture global opportunities without a significant upturn in confidence.

The federal government must develop policies and programs that support investment, risk-taking and employment.

The state government should not just continue milking the Hunter ‘‘cash cow’’, but offer a serious and resourced regional renewal program that supports fundamental change, not window dressing.

Both governments need to place n jobs as a priority when procuring infrastructure and transport.

The second place to look is our youth. The young men and women graduating from our university and TAFE systems are brimful of the skills and capabilities that will define the region’s economic future.

If we cannot employ these resources locally, in areas that will create new businesses, they will take their talent, energy and tolerance for risk-taking elsewhere.

The areas of new media, design and information technology are the ones that excite our young people and these are exactly the ones that we desperately need.

The Hunter has a bright economic future – we just have to have the confidence to grasp it.

Dr Brent Jenkins is chief executive of Hunter Research Foundation

GREG MOWBRAY: Authenticity the defining trait of able leadership

What people say or do behind your back can define your leadership capabilities. Picture: iStockWHAT are people saying about you as a leader behind your back?

You might not care but you should.

If you could eavesdrop, would your people be saying things like they trust you, that you follow through on your promises and that you are clear about your values?

Or might they say that you don’t always tell the truth, you say one thing and do another and you put off the hard decisions?

The perception of other people about you as a leader has the potential to make or break your ability to influence them.

There is one area that you simply must get right if you want be an effective leader.

It’s authenticity and many of us are unaware of its importance and how we rate.

Let me ask you a question.

What is the opposite of authentic? I’ll bet you thought of fake, false or phoney.

Am I right? Here is the thing with leadership – pure and simple.

If you are not authentic, you are a fake.

If you are not authentic, you are not who you say you are.

You are not the real deal, and your people know it.

It is a fact that if people don’t see a high level of authenticity, they won’t follow you.

It will be a major barrier to your effectiveness as a leader.

Sam Cawthorn is a professional speaker, author, philanthropist and a friend of mine.

He influences people all over the world in the area of resilience, specifically via his ‘‘bounce forward’’ message.

A key to Sam’s power to persuade is that he is completely and utterly authentic.

What you see is what you get. His integrity is everything to him and it pervades every word he shares. His audiences get it and respond accordingly.

There is a lot you can do to increase your ability to influence your audience. Here are five key things to focus on:

■Do what you say you are going to do. Sometimes we don’t deliver on our promises because of reasons beyond our control. Other times we let ourselves off the hook. Perhaps we say yes and know in our hearts that we simply can’t deliver. Being authentic means that we don’t make promises unless we are sure we can make good.

■Have difficult conversations without delay. No one likes conflict but as a leader there are times when we need to show courage and address people and issues that we don’t want to. If we ignore the problems and delay acting on them, we simply aren’t being authentic.

■Be consistent in your dealings with people. It’s a fact that we get on better with some people more than others. If we are inconsistent with how we deal with different people, and perhaps even play favourites, we will suffer in the eyes of others. Strive for consistency even though it may be difficult.

■Say what you mean and mean what you say. People appreciate straight shooters and straight talkers. I believe most people have good ‘BS detectors’. They will know if you are trying to mislead them or if you don’t believe what you are telling them. Tell it straight.

■Be the same on the outside as you are on the inside. Faking it can be exhausting. If there isn’t alignment between who you really are and who you are pretending to be, you’d better be a really good actor. Keep it simple by being yourself.

Being a leader can be a tough gig.

There are so many things to think about and make sure that we deliver on.

It’s hard to say what area of leadership is most important but if you ask me, without authenticity, you’ve got no hope.

Greg Mowbray is the founder and CEO of the Licence to Lead Leadership Development program and author of Road Rules for Leadership.

JAIMIE ABBOTT: Best thing to do for an interview is be prepared

MANY people think of a media interview as just answering a bunch of questions about a topic with which they are familiar.

How difficult can it be answering questions about a business you have been working for or with for a significant part of your life? Well, if you are not careful, it could well be very difficult! I’ve seen many people miss out on the opportunity to get their key messages across in a media interview, which is then a wasted PR opportunity.

Here are my five top tips to get the most out of media interviews.

■Know your interviewer. Until you are aware of who is going to be asking you the questions during your media interview, you can never really know what to expect, or what to prepare for.

If you know which journalist is going to be interviewing you, it might be helpful to look through some previous stories they have done so you know what you have in store.

■Rehearse. It is always helpful to practise giving a media interview before the actual thing.

It might be difficult to know what questions to expect, but you could try a wide range of them just to be sure you are perfect on the day.

Practising not only helps get rid of interview jitters, but it also gives you a chance to hear your answers and do any tweaking if you feel necessary. Get a friend or colleague to throw some questions at you.

■Be honest. If you don’t know the answer to a particular question that the interviewer has posed, the best option is to just be honest and say you don’t know.

Many interviewees become flustered when they don’t know what to say, and end up saying something that may not be in their best interest. If the interview is not live, you may even offer to come back with an answer at a later time.

■Be precise. The last thing you want to do in an interview is volunteer information beyond what is being asked of you.

Not only can it put your interviewer off, you may also end up saying something that is detrimental to your interests.

It is important to remember that sometimes less is more, and that brief, precise answers are best for most media interviews. While sticking to the point, try not to repeat questions, especially if they are negative.

■Key messages. Prepare three to five key messages that you want to see included in the story and what you want your audience to remember.

When developing the key messages, use simple words and make sure they cover Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? – which are the main questions reporters are likely to have about your story.

Jaimie Abbott is the owner of Newcastle-based public relations agency Jaimie Abbott Communications