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COPY AND WASTE: Wodonga CEO’s ‘cut and paste’ report on $13.6k trip

Wodonga chief executive Patience Harrington.A REPORT submitted toMonday’s Wodonga Council meeting by chief executivePatience Harrington was almost entirely plagiarised and copied from several websites, including Wikipedia.
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Ms Harrington’s report related to her attendance, and that of Cr Lisa Mahood, at a social enterprise world forum in South Korea in October, which came at a cost of about $13,600 to ratepayers.

But the three-page delegatesreport tendered to the council on Monday night by Ms Harrington was mostly cut and pasted from other sources.

Just four paragraphs in the report, which lists Ms Harrington as the author, were actually written by the chief executive.

SEE THE REPORT HERE:Chief’s “cut and paste” report on Korea trip

EDITORIAL: Report long on pirated waffle but short on answers

Report found general favour

Late yesterday she explained away her actions as “an oversight on my behalf” not to reference “some” of the research that made up her report.

“This will be rectified on the council’s website as we treat very seriously the need to acknowledge the work of others,” she said in a statement, issued more than six hours afterThe Border Mailput in a request for comment.

Ms Harrington said the purpose of the report was as “a summary explanation of the meaning of social enterprise”, including examples and “widely-used terminology”.

But the agenda item on the Seoul trip on Monday night’s meeting agenda clearly describes the report as a“delegates” report.

And it says the intention of this was in fact “to provide a report of the attendance of Cr Mahood and the chief executive officer” at the forum.

The concluding points in the report in which Ms Harrington outlines “a threefold” approach by Wodonga was lifted almost word-for-word from a Scottish government website.

Another section in the report, which lists social enterprise as being “critical to the economy of Wodonga”, has also been copied from the Scottish site, which lists social enterprise as being critical to the economy and society of the Highlands and Islands.

Three sentences in the council report have been copied from The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Alliance website, and another section detailing what a social enterprise is has been lifted from Wikipedia.

Another section is quoted word for word from a 2011 report written by former Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot and Joanne McNeill, from the University of Western Sydney.

The key themes from the conference have also been taken directly from the Social Enterprise World Forum website.

While much of the information is copied word for word, some phrases have been copied with minor alterations, including in one instance replacing the phrase “the broader Australian economy” with “the Wodonga economy”.

About 200 words in the council’s report are original, with the rest of the almost 900 words coming from seven websites.

The ratepayer-funded trip to Seoul cost $13,600, including business class flights worth about $8700, $2000 in hotel fees, $1500 for food and $1400 in conference fees.

The Border Mail submitted questions to the office of Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins yesterday, with a spokesperson responding that “councillors and council staff are responsible to local residents and should hold themselves to the highest standards of professionalism”.

Cr Mark Byatt was the only councillor to vote against the trip when it was approved last June, and Cr Mahood was absent from the meeting.

Mayor Rodney Wangman said at the time the trip was “a response to the changing concerns and issues in our society” and defended the decision to fly Cr Mahood and Ms Harrington in business class.

Ms Harrington said Monday night’s presentation that accompanied her report addressed what she and Cr Mahood experienced.

That included what they intended to do with the information on their return, plus examples of social enterprise from an online video.

“The conference was invaluable in giving us key contacts that can help us promote the opportunities for social enterprise in our city and build on the great work of organisations such as Westmont, UnitingCare and Aware Industries,” she said.

“As indicated on the night, this was the first report and a follow-up session will be provided regarding how we can build our community through social enterprise here in Wodonga.”

Casterton district fatal crash victims mourned

Majaliwa Kizumba, 39, his wife, and their baby daughter were killed early Sunday morning when their all-wheel-drive slammed into a large gum tree on the Casterton-Penola Road at Lake Mundi.THE Mount Gambier community is rallying behind a refugee family after two young children were orphaned in a horrific triple fatality west of Casterton.
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Majaliwa Kizumba, 39, his wife, and their baby daughter were killed early Sunday morning when their all-wheel-drive slammed into a large gum tree on the Casterton-Penola Road at Lake Mundi, near the South Australian border.

The two surviving children, a boy aged 9 and a girl, 3, were airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Grief-stricken family members and church leaders travelled to Melbourne on Sunday to be with the children.

The family — who were part of Mount Gambier’s tight-knit Congolese community and had escaped a troubled life — settled in Mount Gambier in 2013.

It is understood the family had flown into Tullamarine airport from Queensland early Sunday before attempting to make the trip to Mount Gambier.

Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia chief executive officer Eugenia Tsoulis said the organisation was offering support to the grieving family.

She said the family and the extended Congolese community were “traumatised” by the sudden loss.

“This is a very big tragedy for a very new community,” Ms Tsoulis said.

She said the accident was heartbreaking given the community had braved danger and refugee camps to find peace and freedom.

“They had escaped danger and came to Australia to watch their children grow up in peace — now that’s never going to happen,” she said, adding the Mount Gambier Congolese community — which represented up to 200 people — was tight-knit.

Ms Tsoulis said the Migrant Resource Centre would work with the family regarding preparations for the funeral, care of the two children and language barriers during this time.

People can donate money for the funeral or the family through the Migrant Resource Centre.

Meanwhile, Mount Gambier North School principal Jane Turner yesterday expressed her deep sympathy to the family and the wider Congolese community.

“It is a very tragic situation, we now have two orphaned children,” Ms Turner said.

She said the family was well-known in the school community and the young boy was in junior primary at the school. Ms Turner said the pupil, and his father, was a vibrant and energetic member of the school community.

Explaining the family had come from a refugee camp, she said they had finally found some self-determination and a better life.

“They were enthusiastic and really wanted to make the best of living in Australia after living a troubled life in a refugee camp,” Ms Turner said.

Source:The Border Watch

Pirate hunter Daniel Macek’s evidence, integrity under fire in Australian landmark web piracy case

Hollywood is demanding that Australian internet providers hand over details of people who illicitly downloaded the film Dallas Buyers Club. Photo: Anne Marie Fox Web piracy hunter Daniel Macek arrives at court on Wednesday. Photo: Ben Grubb
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Web piracy hunter Daniel Macek arrives at court on Wednesday. Photo: Ben Grubb

iiNet v Dallas Buyers Club: day one of court case

Online piracy hunter Daniel Macek didn’t have the best day in the witness box of Sydney’s Federal Court on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old technical analyst, employed by German-based firm Maverick Eye UG — which claims it can identify the modem IP addresses of those who share unauthorised movies and TV shows using file-sharing technologies such as BitTorrent — had his integrity and evidence attacked like never before.

It was revealed under cross-examination that he didn’t prepare his own expert witness affidavit, which was instead prepared by the firm involved in the case that is trying to protect its copyright.

And it was also demonstrated that he simply did not know how to interpret the log files generated by his own company’s software that will be key to the judge overseeing the case, Justice Nye Perram, determining whether it should proceed.

The matter involves Dallas Buyers Club LLC, the rights holder to the movie with the same name, taking a number of Australian internet providers (ISPs) to court to get them to divulge the contact information of thousands of account holders behind the IP addresses they allege shared their movie without authorisation on the internet.

The ISPs in the firing line include Adam Internet, iiNet and Dodo. But the nation’s largest providers — Telstra and Optus — have not been targeted by the legal action.

Once Dallas Buyers Club LLC gets the details, it plans to contact infringers, as it has done overseas, and demand that they pay a fee to settle the matter or instead go to court.

In some jurisdictions the fees sought have been large, which has in turn seen some judges impose caps on the settlements.

To understand how the alleged pirates were uncovered, you need to go back to 2013, when Dallas Buyers Club LLC, through its parent company Voltage Pictures, tasked Maverick Eye UG to go on a piracy-hunting expedition that sought to identify who was sharing its movie online.

Maverick Eye UG provided Dallas Buyers Club LLC with the IP addresses of alleged infringers. It then contacted iiNet and others, asking them to divulge customer details without a court order — but they refused.

Now Dallas Buyers Club LLC hopes it can gain access to these details through what’s known as the court’s “preliminary discovery” process. This requires companies to hand over any documents they might have that could identify a person who has, as in this case, allegedly breached copyright.

According to Maverick Eye UG’s website, it is able to provide “world-class surveillance” of intellectual property “within the most prominent peer-to-peer” file-sharing networks on the internet, including BitTorrent and Emule. Using “highly sophisticated software”, its “highly trained staff” are then able to identify llicit distribution of their clients’ copyrighted material.

The .pcap question

But the integrity of the system — which has been relied upon in many other jurisdictions —  all appeared to come undone at Tuesday’s hearing, where iiNet’s defence barrister Richard Lancaster, SC, asked Maverick Eye UG’s Mr Macek, flown from Germany to be at the case, to explain in detail how it worked.

At issue, Mr Lancaster said, were timestamps in so-called “.pcap” files the Maverick Eye UG system generated that were given as evidence to the court in addition to Excel spreadsheets that made the data easier to read and understand for the purpose of identifying alleged infringers.

“Are you familiar with the information in the .pcap files themselves?” Mr Lancaster asked Mr Macek during cross-examination.

“Not in detail,” Mr Macek replied, adding that this was because he relied on the Maverick Eye UG system doing most of the work for him.

Following this exchange it was then put to Mr Macek that the timestamps in the .pcap files were not the times the BitTorrent files were “transmitted” or “transferred” from the alleged infringers to the Maverick Eye UG system, but the times of “reassembly” of the BitTorrent traffic data on the system.

Mr Macek could not answer whether this was the case because, he said, “I don’t understand this .pcap [file] in this detail”.

“I know how the Maverick software works in general but I’m not aware of the .pcap [files],” he added.

Prompted to explain again, he replied: “I can explain this without details … I can’t read .pcaps.”

Mr Lancaster then asked if Mr Macek agreed it was “very important” that the time was “precisely accurate” because IP addresses issued to customers often changed.

“I agree,” was the response from Mr Macek, who added that he did not write the code behind the system.

The judge also seemed to agree on the importance of the timestamps.

“If the IP [address] switched midway through one of these transmissions it just occurs to me that that change would have some impact on your cross-examination,” Justice Perram remarked to Mr Lancaster.

Staff of four

But as Tuesday’s hearing drew to a close, the question of whether the timestamps were accurate remained unclear. If they are not, the entire case could potentially be thrown out if the evidence is ruled not to be reliable enough and therefore inadmissible.

There were “basic defects” with Mr Macek’s evidence — and that of another witness yet to appear in court — that warranted both “being rejected”, Mr Lancaster said.

Mr Macek also revealed on Tuesday that he worked only 40 hours a month at Maverick Eye UG and that it was a four-person operation.

In addition to employing Mr Macek as technical analyst at Maverick Eye UG, there is an accountant, a systems administrator, and chief executive officer Thomas Novak, who is the main shareholder.

Mr Macek said he didn’t hold a university degree but had completed an apprenticeship where he learned the computer programming language Java.

Vice-president of royalties for Voltage Pictures, Michael Wickstrom, was also cross-examined on Tuesday.

“I think the ease of [illicit] downloading [has meant] that people have become so desensitised [because it’s so] easy to do … [and] so convenient to do it,” he said.

Online piracy was “eating into the profits” of film companies, he added.

The case continues on Wednesday, the last day of the two-day preliminary discovery hearing.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Greyhound industry whistleblowers ‘intimidated, threatened and ignored’

A still from the ABC Four Corners program exposing live baiting practices in the greyhound racing industry. A screenshot of the Four Corners program on the greyhound racing industry. Photo: ABC
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A still from the ABC Four Corners program exposing live baiting practices in the Greyhound racing industry. Photo: Four Corners

Rob Zammit: Tried to reveal the crimes. Photo: Jane Dyson

Allegations of systemic cheating, live baiting in greyhound industry uncoveredLive baiting: Mike Baird vows ‘absolute zero tolerance’Comment: New laws could stop revelations of animal abuse

Whistleblowers in the greyhound racing industry who have tried to raise the issue of live baiting and other illegalities claim they have been intimidated, threatened or pushed out of racing circles as concerns escalate that the crimes against animals are much more widespread than originally feared.

Evidence about the barbaric practice of live animals including guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, kittens and possums being mauled to death in greyhound training sessions was given to a parliamentary inquiry into the industry in 2013.

But Fairfax Media has been told those submissions were never followed up by the state’s industry regulator, Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW). The inquiry also found there was “alarming” treatment of whistleblowers and internal critics who wanted change.

Among those trying to reveal the horrific crimes was celebrity TV vet Rob Zammit who told the inquiry live baiting was still occurring. Other submissions offered the names and addresses of those suspected of involvement. They all told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that GRNSW had never even called them. Dr Zammit has said every time he had spoken out about problems in the industry he has been ostracised.

But animal welfare groups have also been told by greyhound industry participants that although they were appalled at what was going on inside their industry, they were too scared to speak because of threats of retribution against them or their dogs.

There has been a steadily growing public outcry after an investigation by Animals Australia and Four Corners screened vision obtained by covert surveillance revealing explosive evidence that live baiting is going on openly in at least three states and involves some of the biggest names in greyhound racing.

State and federal Greens MPs John Kaye and Lee Rhiannon have been joined by independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie in calling for an immediate suspension of the industry. NSW state Opposition Leader Luke Foley said anyone convicted of live-baiting should be banned from the sport of greyhound racing for life.

State Minister for Racing Troy Grant said “like most people, I am shocked and appalled by the absolutely abhorrent and distressing footage”.

He said the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR), which is reviewing the industry, has extended the time for submissions for a further two weeks to March, 2 2015, and the “government is open to legislative changes to ensure we stamp out this abhorrent behaviour”.

The footage follows investigations by Fairfax Media into the industry in 2012 and 2103 which led to the parliamentary inquiry being established.

Last week more than 20 greyhound racing dog owners and trainers across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland were suspended after a series of raids by the RSPCA and police which allegedly discovered the illegal use of live animals being used to bait and lure dogs.

GRNSW has suspended six people in the wake of raids including one of the biggest trainers in NSW who has an estimated 1200 dogs go through his property in a year.

GRNSW chief executive officer Brent Hogan announced they had set up a taskforce headed up by former High Court justice Michael McHugh, AC, QC, to examine training methods in NSW and arrangements for the supervision of trial tracks and training facilities.

But the Greens want a government appointed independent taskforce. Dr Kaye said greyhound racing in NSW has been profoundly and fundamentally corrupted by the practice of live baiting

“The industry regulator Greyhound Racing NSW has lost any credibility it might have once claimed,” said Dr Kaye.

“Both NSW Labor and the Coalition must commit to legislation to abolish Greyhound Racing NSW on the very first day Parliament sits after the election.”

NSW Premier Mike Baird has promised to get to the bottom of live baiting and said  there will be “zero tolerance” for such abuse.

Fairfax Media exposed allegations of race-fixing, drug use, alleged criminal activity within the industry in 2012 despite reforms that had been aimed at cleaning up the sport.

Stakeholders had raised concerns that it had returned to its murky past because of poor transparency and independent oversight and the privatisation of the industry.

At the time Mr Hogan told the parliamentary inquiry that he hoped it didn’t get sidetracked by “outlandish, hysterical and ridiculous allegations”.

Mr Hogan said Tuesday that at the time of the inquiry they did not have any evidence about live baiting; Mr Hogan has also denied that the practise is systemic or widespread.

However, he revealed there are another six separate cases under investigation, and they were looking to prosecute with the RSPCA.

“We need to stamp out live baiting once and for all. Not only is it illegal but it is sickening and we are disgusted with what we have witnessed on air,” said Mr Hogan.

He said that GRNSW had done a lot in the five years since it was set up to improve animal welfare and investigate claims of animal cruelty.

With James Robertson

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Promises, promises: lifts at Unanderra station needed – now

The NSW Transport Minister has labelled footage of a double amputee crawling up the stairs at Unanderra train station as ‘‘distressing’’. Transport minister Gladys Berejiklian has labelled video footage of a double amputee crawling up the stairs at Unanderra train station as ‘‘distressing’’.
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There were two videos of the incident filmed last week.

The first video shows a man with no legs pushing himself backwards with his hands up the platform stairs at Unanderra station.

While he makes his way up the stairs on the left, grimacing at times with the effort, stroke victim Bec Schmidt slowly climbs on the right holding tightly to the railing while her partner watches on carefully.

Near the top is a senior citizen – well-known Illawarra playwright Wendy Richardson – struggling to carry a bag up the stairs.

As an illustration of those affected by the difficult access to the station platform, all that is missing is a parent with a pram.

The second video starts with Ms Schmidt coming down the stairs, holding the railing with both hands.

As she nears the bottom, the man appears at the top, this time in his wheelchair.

Alarmingly, he turns and heads down the stairs backwards, holding the railing and almost losing control at least once.

A wheelchair-bound man struggles down the stairs in the video.

Eighty-one year -old Ms Richardson, best-known for her play Windy Gully, said Unanderra is her closest station and she always had trouble negotiating the stairs.

‘‘I have had incredible trouble with the stairs,’’ Ms Richardson said.

‘‘Until I had a hip replaced in June last year, I struggled up those stairs, it would take me ages.

‘‘I often felt quite precarious, particularly coming down the stairs.’’

The footage was concerning for Ms Berejiklian.

‘‘It’s distressing to see anyone in the community struggle to access public transport – whether they’re elderly, customers with a disability or families with prams,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.

‘‘I want to see every station on the network accessible with ramps or lifts and that’s why since coming to government, we have worked hard to upgrade stations as part of the Transport Access Program.

‘‘When we came to government nearly two thirds of all stations on the network were not accessible via ramps or lifts.’’

When asked if the video made the case for lifts at Unanderra station more urgent, Ms Berejiklian said the government took an ‘‘evidence-based approach’’ to determine which transport upgrades will be delivered next.

‘‘Unanderra Station is being considered as part of this ongoing work and I will continue to listen to the concerns of the community and our hard-working candidate on the ground about this issue,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.

Bec Schmidt says she’s overwhelmed by the response to her Facebook page. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

A former Transport for NSW employee is behind a Facebook page calling for lifts to be installed at Unanderra train station.

Transport for NSW oversees the Transport Access Program, which aims to provide ‘‘stations that are accessible to the disabled, ageing and parents with prams’’, according to its website.

Bec Schmidt worked under contract as an administration assistant until late last year. After she left, she dedicated more time to the campaign for the installation of lifts at Unanderra.

It’s an issue that affects Ms Schmidt – she suffered a stroke on Easter Monday, 2008, and her ability to walk unaided is limited.

‘‘I only use the station if I have someone who can assist me,’’ Ms Schmidt said.

‘‘I wouldn’t be able to use it on my own because I have a walking frame that I use when I go out on my own in public. I would not be able to carry that up the stairs and walk up at the same time. I wouldn’t be able to use the station if I needed to catch the train to go to work or anything like that. I can drive as well, so at the moment, if I do need to go on the train, I have to drive to Wollongong to do that.’’

As part of her campaign, she launched the Facebook page Elevators for Unanderra Train Station on Saturday. The page has really struck a chord – as of midday on Tuesday it had 1487 likes.

‘‘I put it up on Saturday and it’s blown out of proportion,’’ she said.

‘‘I did not expect to get that much response. It’s been overwhelming and I’m glad to see that so many people are getting on board to support it.’’

Ms Schmidt believed it was the recent video, which shows a man with no legs climbing up the stairs, that had sparked the support from the community and the politicians.

Ms Schmidt is also in that video, climbing the stairs with the help of the railing, followed by her partner.

She said was ‘‘appalled’’ to see the man forced to make his way up the stairs on his hands.

‘‘A lot of people would hear about these things previously and think they were bad but it’s a little different when you actually see it with your own eyes,’’ Ms Schmidt said.

‘‘I think seeing that footage has made people think ‘hang on, that’s not the best thing for him to have to do’. I think it makes a big difference that people can see it with their own eyes.

A manreverses his wheelchair down the steps at Unanderra station, the wheelchair threatening to flip over and tumble down at every precarious step.

One strong hand on the railing is all that keeps him alive. He is literally hanging on for grim life.

Going back up, he ditches the wheelchair and hauls himself up step by arduous step using only his arms. He has no choice, for he has no legs.

A woman who has suffered a stroke hobbles down.

An old lady struggles up, exhausted.

For more than 20 years, disabled residents and the community have campaigned for lifts at Unanderra.

The steps, which are exposed to the elements, are the only way in or out of the station’s island platform.

And for all that time, politicians from this party and that party have argued about it incessantly.

About promises. About funding. About blame.

And yet still today, if you’re in a wheelchair, or you’ve had a stroke, or you’re simply old, getting in and out of Unanderra station is your problem.

Deal with it if you can. If you can’t, too bad.

This week, as another state election hurtles towards us, the politicians have been at it again.

All three main candidates for Wollongong have pledged support for lifts.

Sitting Labor MP Noreen Hay says the lifts will be funded with $25 million.

Her Liberal opponent, Cameron Walters, promises to talk to his Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian.

And independent candidate Arthur Rorris says the lift will be his first order of business.

But now the time for promises is over. You are all on notice. Unanderra is watching.

And so are we.

Unanderra lift gains support of NSW election candidates

Gazette Express: Wednesday, February 18

Weather:
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It is currently 20.4degrees in Richmond and it’s predicted to reach 31degrees.

Today will bepartly cloudy,patchy fog in the outer west early this morning. Mediumchance of showers.

(Weatherzone)

Roads:

Scheduled Road Works: Changes to street parking.

Freemans Reach to Wilberforce-Wilberforce RdbetweenFreemans Reach RdandKing Rd.

From Wednesday, February 11 toFridayFeb 27.

Scheduled lane closures for this week, fromSunday to Friday from 8pm to 5amboth directions affected.

Lane closures will be in place and traffic controllers will be on site.

Equipment may be parked on side streets during the day, making this parking unavailable to residents.

Scheduled Road Works:Construction of Cattai substation.

Cattai-Wisemans Ferry RdbetweenMitchell Park RdandO’briens Rd

From Wednesday,February 18 toWednesday,March 18.

Scheduled lane closures for this week fromMonday to Sunday, 9pm to 5am both directions affected.

Scheduled Road Works:Power pole upgrade.

Riverstone- Garfield Rd WestbetweenDenmark RdandLyndhurst St

FromWednesday,February 18 to ThursdayMarch 19.

Scheduled lane closures for this week fromMonday to Friday 10am to 3pm,both directions affected.

Saturday to Sunday from7am to 5pm,both directions affected.

Scheduled Road Works:Ferry maintenance.

SackvilleFerry-Sackville Ferry Rd

On Wednesday,March 4.

Scheduled road closures for this week on Wednesday12:30pm to 3pm,both directions closed.

Scheduled Road Works:

North Richmond-Bells Line of RoadbetweenCrooked LaneandYeomans Rd.

From Monday,February 16 to Friday,March 6.

Scheduled lane closures for this week fromSunday to Friday, 8pm to 5am both directions affected.

There will be alternating (stop/slow) traffic conditions in place.

Scheduled Road Works:

Marsden Park-Richmond RdatSouth St.

From Monday,January 5 toThursday, March5.

Motorists turning into South Street from Richmond Road will have a bay about 40 metres where they can wait and give way to traffic exiting South Street.

Motorists can continue on South Street once traffic exiting onto Richmond Road is cleared.

Scheduled Road Works: Widen a 1.1km section of road to build a new overtaking lane to improve traffic flow.

Kurrajong Heights-Bells Line of Road-4km west of Kurrajong Heights

From Monday,November 24 2014 toTuesday,June 30.

Trains:

The western line leaving from Richmond and all inner city circle trains are currently running on time.

(City Rail)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Chris Bowen struggles to name tax-free threshold during Alan Jones interview

Chris Bowen: admitted the interview was not his best performance. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen addresses the media during a doorstop interview at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 12 February 2014.Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax
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Chris Bowen: admitted the interview was not his best performance. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Alan Jones pushed Chris Bowen to identify Australia’s tax-free threshold. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Chris Bowen: admitted the interview was not his best performance. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen addresses the media during a doorstop interview at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 12 February 2014.Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax

Chris Bowen: admitted the interview was not his best performance. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen addresses the media during a doorstop interview at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 12 February 2014.Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / Fairfax

Federal opposition treasurer Chris Bowen has been accused of not knowing a key area of his portfolio after he was unable to identify Australia’s tax-free threshold during a live television interview on Tuesday night.

Repeatedly pressed by talkback host Alan Jones to outline Australia’s tax levels, Mr Bowen was unable to identify the $18,200 figure as Australia’s tax-free threshold.

In the fumbling interview on Sky News, Mr Bowen appeared visibly uncomfortable as Jones pressured him to prove his knowledge of Australia’s tax structure.

Asked by Jones at what point Australians pay “no tax at all”, Mr Bowen declined to nominate a figure.

“You get a tax-free threshold. You get a low income earners’ tax off-set,” Mr Bowen responded.

Not satisfied with the answer, Jones repeatedly asked: “What is it?”

Jones eventually gave the shadow treasurer the answer, before berating his credentials as would-be treasurer.

“This is a serious issue. The man wants to be the treasurer of Australia but he doesn’t know the tax thresholds.”

Jones persisted with the issue, asking the NSW MP to identify the percentage of tax paid in the next bracket.

Attempting to shut down the line of questioning, Mr Bowen said: “I’m not going to do a pop quiz with you, Alan.”

He then incorrectly nominated 15 per cent as his answer.

“We don’t pay 15, we pay 19 cents in the dollar,” Jones said.

Mr Bowen said he had been referring to the superannuation tax rate, which is 15 per cent.

On Wednesday morning, Mr Bowen conceded he made a “mistake” by not answering the question, but added that he “didn’t see it being as relevant to the conversation at hand.”

“[T]here was a bit of confusion between Mr Jones and I about whether he was talking about superannuation tax or personal income tax.”

“I should have appropriately answered the question last night and if Mr Jones wanted to have time going through the tax-free threshold I should have engaged in that.”

Mr Bowen then drew a comparison between his comments and the series of gaffes made by Treasurer Joe Hockey following last year’s budget.

“I tell you what you won’t get from me: statements that poor people don’t drive cars. You won’t get statements that a GP tax is just as equivalent to a middy of beer and packet of cigarettes. You won’t get statements about North Sydney doing it tough because they have high rates of bulk billing.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten conceded Mr Bowen had made a mistake but suggested it was the result of a late night interview at the end of a “long day”.

“Chris does know the tax free threshold of $18,200, he certainly at the end of a long day at 8.30 last night went into an interview with Alan Jones, I think that’s a sign of his commitment, I probably think of other things he could do on a Tuesday night at 8.30 than be interviewed by Alan Jones but he did,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

It follows a similar gaffe made by the new Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who couldn’t name the rate of the GST. The State Labor leader later blamed the mistake on not having enough coffee that morning.

“He’s made a mistake, he’s acknowledge that and when it comes to acknowledging mistakes when will Joe Hockey acknowledge their whole budget’s unfair?” Mr Shorten said.

When asked if he still had confidence in Mr Bowen as shadow treasurer, Mr Shorten responded “absolutely” and added “the person I don’t have confidence in is Joe Hockey”.

with Latika Bourke

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Prezi takes on Microsoft PowerPoint

Prezi’s head of international, Drew Banks, in Sydney. Photo: Fiona MorrisIf the hipper than hip TED talks phenomenon is about “ideas worth spreading”, then cloud presentation software Prezi has a ringing endorsement.
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In 2009, Prezi became TED’s very first investment, and many TED speakers now use the software instead of Microsoft PowerPoint, which has otherwise dominated the space for more than 20 years.

It’s not just that it’s “not Microsoft” and therefore wields indie kudos – although for some, that is a drawcard.

For Drew Banks, Prezi’s head of international who visited Sydney from San Francisco this week, Prezi’s visual focus is better suited to the way we think in today’s internet-enabled world.

Rather than being restricted to a linear, slide-based model, a Prezi presentation begins with an overarching image or structure, and then zooms in on various details to tell the story. It allows for a more fluid and interactive way of communicating ideas.

“It’s about moving from textual communication and paginated communication to visual communication,” Mr Banks says.

“It’s very similar to what’s happening in digital journalism right now and using visual mechanisms to set the context.”

Prezi was born out of a need to solve a simple problem. Hungarian architect Adam Somlai-Fischer, beginning to make a name for himself for his presentations at architecture conferences, wanted to be able to zoom in and out of his designs, to clearly communicate both the big picture and the finer details to his audiences. He couldn’t find a decent tool to do this, so built the software himself.

It wasn’t a matter of reinventing the wheel so much as “freeing yourself from a conventional paradigm”, says Mr Banks.

“If you asked yourself the question, ‘How do I make slides better?’, you’re never going to come up with Prezi,” he says.

In the five years since its birth, Prezi has accumulated more than 50 million users worldwide, established a second office in San Francisco (the company was founded in Budapest) and closed two additional funding rounds worth tens of millions of dollars. It is now forging ahead with its global expansion.

In Australia, he says some 1 million people have signed up to the cloud platform. Corporate players using it include Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, Rio Tinto and Australia Post.

Professional presentation trainers are servicing the demand from the corporate sector. Sydney’s Presentation Studio is software agnostic, but founder Emma Bannister says many clients approach the studio specifically asking for help with Prezi – by virtue of it not being PowerPoint.

“They love to be seen to be different,” Ms Bannister says.

But while smaller, forward-looking companies are likely to be drawn to Prezi’s freemium, cloud-based model, Ms Bannister says most of her big enterprise clients prefer to stick with what’s tried and true – PowerPoint – for everyday purposes at least.

“CEO presentations in Prezi can have that big impact for messaging, and they come to us for that, but for the day-to-day stuff at the moment for corporates it’s probably less appealing,” she says.

“It’s a very expensive thing for them to change, culturally.”

IBRS adviser Guy Cranswick says it’s a win for consumers to now have a strong alternative to Microsoft PowerPoint, and that the company will probably do “quite well”.

However, “of all the things Microsoft has to concern itself with, this isn’t one of them,” he says, as “lock-in” and the “network effect” are likely to hold Prezi back from stronger growth.

“[Microsoft PowerPoint] works nicely because every other user is equipped with the same software, knows how to use it, is trained and experienced, and therefore the barriers to usage and entry and expertise are relatively low,” Mr Cranswick says.

He notes that Prezi is based on Adobe Flash – making it reliant on a third-party software vendor – and it doesn’t include important accessibility features that PowerPoint does, such as reading text aloud.

“These sorts of things make it very difficult to penetrate further into the higher end of the enterprise,” Mr Cranswick says.

But that isn’t stopping Prezi’s Mr Banks from carefully laying the groundwork for the company’s international expansion, thanks to the most recent funding round from Spectrum Equity and Accel Partners – its largest yet at $US57 million.

“We’re not going to throw the biggest party in Silicon Valley – that’s not who we are – but we’ll look at scaling globally,” Mr Banks says.

That will involve getting the word out about Prezi, promoting superior Prezi presentations through the existing user network, and potentially installing regional sales and support representatives down the line.

Prezi has chosen Australia as the first release location for its Android apps, and has just released a consumer app called Nutshell. Not unlike the lovechild of Instagram and Vine, it allows users to tell visual stories by distilling three images into a simple video loop, using timelapse and with added text and animation.

While it’s a standalone app, Nutshell was designed to be used in Prezi presentations. Mr Banks sees it finding its feet in the consumer space before being adopted more widely by enterprises.

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Demand for local berries up as Hepatitis A class action lawsuit looms

Blueberry grower Paul Casey says demand for local product has shot up. Photo: Simon Schluter
Nanjing Night Net

Blood donors who ate berries told to contact Red Cross

A class action lawsuit is looming over the Hepatitis A food scare linked to imported frozen berries, with law firm Slater and Gordon encouraging anyone who ate the berries and developed the virus to come forward.

The firm said it had been contacted by “a number of people” who had contracted Hepatitis A after eating recalled frozen berries imported by Bairnsdale-based company Patties Foods.

“Manufacturers of goods, such as the frozen berries in question, have a number of stringent obligations towards consumers under Australian law, and among the most important of these is a clear requirement that any goods they produce must be free from safety defects,” said Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer Julie Clayton.

“This means that the safety of goods must be of a standard that people generally are entitled to expect for a product of that nature – clearly, any food product contaminated with a virus like hepatitis A fails to meet this test,” she said.

In other developments on Tuesday relating to the Hepatitis A scare;

* Patties Foods added the Nanna’s 1kg frozen raspberries to the three other lines recalled at the weekend.

* Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said the imported food scare was a “wake-up call” to Australian consumers.

* Australian berry growers said locally grown berries were grown under strict food standards, and urged consumers to buy Australian-grown produce.

* Nine cases of Hepatitis A have been linked to the consumption of berries from one kilogram packets of Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries. A tenth case of Hepatitis A linked to imported frozen berries was confirmed in Queensland late on Tuesday, but health officials did not name the product consumed.

* The Red Cross said more than 110 blood donors have contacted it recently to report their consumption of Patties frozen berries products that have been recalled because of the scare.

Patties Foods said on Tuesday that because commercial food production laboratories in Australia were not equipped to test for hepatitis A, Nanna’s frozen berries had been sent to the United States and Italy for testing.

The Victorian Health Department advised Patties of the potential Hepatitis A link to its Nanna’s 1kg frozen mixed berries packets on Friday afternoon. Microbiological tests have yet to prove a link between the virus and the berries but tests in the US and Italy should establish if raspberries, supplied in China, are the cause. Test results are expected in two weeks.

Patties managing director and chief executive officer Steven Chaur said the common link between the products in all four recalled lines was the raspberries, which came from a supplier in China. “That was a very clear marker for us that the consistency with the two products is the raspberries,” he said.

“We don’t believe at this time that our other products – sourced from other facilities and other countries and other regions – are at risk. The common denominator here is raspberries and we believe that could be an area to further investigate,” he said.

Patties severed its links with the China supplier of those raspberries in November last year but Mr Chaur denied it was over health concerns and said it was to consolidate supply in China. He said testing for hepatitis A virus was “difficult”. No commercial food production testing facilities were equipped to test for viruses like hepatitis A in Australia, he said.

“We do test for markers (for hepatitis A) like e.coli which are generally associated with faecal matter. That is a pretty clear indicator if there is any concern,” Mr Chaur said.

He said E.coli levels results showed its frozen berries were within safe tolerance levels. “We had no reason to believe these products present a health risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Australian growers have noticed a surge in demand for locally-grown berries. At The Big Berry farm in the Yarra Valley the phone has been “running hot” in recent days with people looking for locally-grown frozen berries, said grower Paul Casey.

Mr Casey attributed the interest to the imported berry scare. He reassured Australian berry lovers that they could be confident in the quality of locally-grown produce.

“It’s produced locally and we know it’s under Australian food standards,” Mr Casey said. The 72-year-old said his berries were regularly tested and his operation regularly audited.

“The phone’s been running hot in the last two or three days, people are looking for frozen berries that haven’t bought from me in the past. There’s been a dramatic surge in inquiries and purchasing of frozen berries. I’d like to see it continue,” he said.

Orders from one customer, he said, “have quadrupled in the last couple of days,” while new customers were also ringing, he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

It’s a long road, but Murray United will have a go

Murray United coach Mick Richards.
Nanjing Night Net

MICK Richards doesn’t live in fairyland.

He’s not talking up promotion, not even talking finals.

But Murray United’s senior coach has vowed his squad will be competitive when they take to the pitch against Box Hill on Saturday night in their first game of Victorian National Premier League soccer.

Richards said they would modify their game plan and start at least two who are eligible for lower age divisions — but they won’t park the bus.

Skipper will be forced to watch from the sidelines

Daniel breathes The Beautiful Game

“Five weeks ago when I took on this job we didn’t have one name signed,” he said.

“Now we have a football club.

“Most of the coaches at other NPL and NPL1 clubs are full of praise for where we are at and how we have pulled this together — initially some of them said I was mad taking this on at such a late stage.

“But at the end of the day if we lose our first six or seven games people aren’t going to remember where we were at inJanuary-February.

“We’ll play a balanced game on Saturday, probably weighted slightly towards defence and very different to the way we expect to play for the rest of the year.

“But you have to remember that last Sunday was the first time wehave had the full team together for a training session and now we have to taper off and get ready to play.

“It’s not ideal.”

Richards said his belief in the NPL and Murray United were fuelled by his own experiences.

“When I was a kid the choice was to either go to Melbourne or overseas to be recognised, there was no real pathway once you turned 16,” he said.

“But now as a 17, 18 or 19-year-old you are going to be playing premier league soccer where you can be seen, where you can be fast-tracked into the top tier of Australian soccer.

“When I took on the job I wanted it to be local and on Saturday we will start two young guys from the Border in an NPL1 game.

“It will be a great moment for them and more importantly for the game here in Albury-Wodonga — it’s what Murray United is all about.”

But Richards said it wouldn’t be a youth-only policy.

“I love playing kids, when I won the AWFA title at Melrose the team was mostly teenagers,” he said.

“But we have some of the senior players with bigger bodies and plenty of experience who have put their hand up and they deserve their chance at this level.

“We know we will draw on the younger guys in a long season, and particularly in games like the FFA Cup.

“We don’t really care how old you are or how good — it’s about attitude and a club culture, that you are willing to have a go.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.