Palace complains over story of Queen backing Brexit

​1. Palace complains over ‘Queen backs Brexit’ story
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I’ll get to politics in a minute but huge ructions in Britain after the nation woke up to this extraordinary story in The Sun.  Queen backs Brexit – p1 tomorrow pic.twitter南京夜网/ioIfa9GpbK— Tony Gallagher (@tonygallagher) March 8, 2016The first ever IPSO complaint by Buckingham Palace involving her Majesty the Queen over the Sun’s front page— Rupert Myers (@RupertMyers) March 9, 20162. Can-do Campbell’s Canberra comeback?

Okay now to federal politics. Could you hear the raucous laughter descending from Queensland last night?

That was the sound of all the Labor people you know physically rubbing their hands together while shrieking with glee at the thought of Campbell Newman making a tilt at federal politics and running for the seat of Brisbane being vacated by Teresa Gambaro. The front page of tomorrow’s The Courier-Mail. pic.twitter南京夜网/PTqHqas7ev— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) March 9, 2016

The unpopular (make that loathed) Newman was booted from office only a year ago after just one term and lost his own seat to match.  So while the former Queensland Premier is high-profile, he’s not exactly star-candidate material.

I had a chat to Pat O’Neill, the Labor candidate and he seemed in chirpy spirits about the prospect of a battle with Newman.

I’ll just leave this here. #auspolPosted by Pat O’Neill on  Wednesday, 9 March 2016Contrary to some reports in the media I haven’t made any announcements in relation to any political intentions . Will do tomorrow 10am.— Tony Windsor (@TonyHWindsor) March 9, 2016Donald Trump lauds Australian golfer Adam Scott in victory speech via @FinancialReview— John Kehoe (@Johnkehoe23) March 9, 2016

The last line of Kehoe’s piece quoting a CNN commentator wondering if she’s watching a political or advertising campaign rings especially true after watching this mash-up of The Donald.

(And after another episode of House of Cards last night I think we can safely say it’s back to it’s S1 and S2 glory). 5. ISIS commander “likely killed”

Islamic State’s so-called Minister of War was killed in an airstrike last week, US officials believe.

It’s very difficult to confirm deaths in Iraq and Syria though, remember how Australian officials thought notorious Sydney jihadist Khaled Sharrouf was taken out?  Several months later he turned out to be possibly still alive.  6. Amen to Aldi

Generally speaking I’m a huge fan of technological disruption but there are some things machines should never replace and customer service is one of them.

As a former Big W “checkout chick” I know my way around a barcode and a till but all that ever seems to happen to me at self-service checkouts is I manage to bork the whole thing up and stand there waiting for ages while a harried-looking attendant comes to unfreeze my terminal.

Of course this takes up far more time than it would have for someone to smile, chat about the weather, dunk my groceries in a bag and hand me the receipt after I’ve tapped my credit card. So I’m in full agreement with German grocery giant Aldi.​

Unlike its local supermarket rivals, Aldi thinks self-service checkouts are a complete waste of time.Posted by The Sydney Morning Herald on  Tuesday, 8 March 2016This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Labor relishing prospect of a Campbell Newman comeback in the federal seat of Brisbane

Former premier Campbell Newman is rumoured to be considering a federal run. Photo: Renee Melides
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Teresa Gambaro quits: LNP figures blast ‘dummy spit’

Senior Liberal National sources have cast doubt on speculation Campbell Newman could make a political comeback and run in the next federal election, despite the former Queensland Premier reportedly failing to rule out interest in the seat of Brisbane.

But the Labor candidate Pat O’Neill said he would relish a fight against the former leader whom voters turfed out of office after just one term only a little more than one year ago.

Outgoing MP and moderate Teresa Gambaro, was accused of throwing an epic dummy spit in announcing her retirement from the marginal seat, where her name recognition plays a major part in the LNP’s vote in the electorate.

Ms Gambaro, whose political career never recovered after she was forced to apologise for saying migrants should be taught to wear deodorant, denied the claim and said she wanted to spend more time with her family.

She faced a fierce preselection battle against former Peter Dutton staffer Trevor Evans whom senior LNP figures told Fairfax Media they expected would win the nomination following her announcement. Ms Gambaro was a strident critic of deposed Prime Minister Tony Abbott but it was his intervention that saved her preselection, until she decided to quit.

But with speculation Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could call a double-dissolution election for 2 July, Campbell Newman has emerged as a possible high-profile contender for the seat.

Mr Newman furthered the speculation when he failed to rule out a tilt when approached by News Corp. He lost the LNP office in Queensland after just one term and was also rejected by voters in his own state seat of Ashgrove.

Labor’s candidate, Pat O’Neill who is a serving army major said he would relish the prospect of a renewed fight against Mr Newman and declared he could “absolutely” win it.

“I would love to be in a fight against Campbell Newman because I fundamentally disagree with some of his actions as Premier and the way with which he treated the people of Queensland and Brisbane,” he said.

Mr O’Neill is gay and said Mr Campbell’s decision in office to repeal civil marriages would hurt him in the socially progressive seat of Brisbane.

“Campbell Newman shares the same values as Malcolm Turnbull who has the same policies as Tony Abbott,” he said.

Ms Gambaro was a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and helped lead the charge within the Coalition to draft a cross-parliament same-sex marriage bill.

Follow Latika Bourke on Facebook

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My Kitchen Rules 2016 episode 23 recap: Round Two of Monique and Lauren’s showdown

Rosie and Paige have managed to get onto MKR despite apparently being nice people who other human beings might enjoy spending time with. Photo: Channel 7 Paige forces Rosie to dance her panic away, which would be irritating if Paige wasn’t so damn adorable. Photo: Channel 7
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Lauren: “I can smell a fight night.” Photo: Channel 7

Round Two of Monique and Lauren’s Showdown at MKR Corral takes place in Adelaide, best known as the city where tourists are lured to be murdered by Nick Cave. Although the centrepiece of this episode will be the vicious verbal volleys between the policewomen and Carmine and Lauren’s Team Lemonmouth, the instant restaurant itself belongs to Rosie and Paige, two women who have managed to get onto My Kitchen Rules despite apparently being nice people who other human beings might enjoy spending time with. They must’ve lied a lot at the audition.

Rosie and Paige are cooking Middle Eastern food, and why not? There are many answers to this question, but they’ve never heard any of them. Pete loves the sound of the menu, and as we all know, we eat with our ears. As Rosie and Paige shop, the Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian plays. Because it’s … it’s Middle Eastern food. And Walk Like An Egyptian is … it’s about … I guess we’ve just got to kind of let this stuff wash over us.

The instant restaurant is called “Big Grub”, in recognition that most of the guests are maggots. Rosie and Paige begin preparations by making dukkah, which is a great opportunity to break out the line, “dukkah? I hardly know her!” But nobody does, which is a bit disappointing – I really thought Paige would back me up here. Suddenly, the kitchen becomes a place of dark sorcery when Rosie finds a double-yolked egg, to which Paige responds with a brief joyous dance. It’s likely to be the highlight of the entire night.

“We have not got enough done in prep time,” says Rosie, but then I think not getting enough done in prep time is written into the contestants’ contracts. I’ve certainly never seen anyone get enough done in prep time. The guests arrive and are amazed at how short Paige is, having apparently not noticed her the last four nights. Rosie explains that the idea of the instant restaurant is “when friends become family”, which is pretty ironic given that two of the guests are about to disembowel each other.

“I can smell a fight night,” says Lauren. She doesn’t say what a fight night smells like, but I imagine a mixture of Dencorub and illegal gambling. There is definite tension at the table. Alex and Gareth have no idea what’s going on because they were in the kitchen for Monique and Lauren’s last bout, but Alex and Gareth probably don’t have much idea what’s going on at the best of times.

Lauren explains that her remarks at the last dinner were not meant as an attack on Monique. Monique interprets Lauren saying that her remarks were not an attack as an attack. Monique asks Lauren not to shout. Lauren explains that she has to shout because the table is so wide. Alex and Gareth continue to hope that if they smile broadly enough it’ll be contagious. Monique accuses Lauren of “giving her daggers”, which is a reference to Lauren’s facial expression and not to a generous gift. Lauren demands to know what Monique is talking about. Monique tells Lauren not to point at her. Alex and Gareth keep smiling. To the camera, Lauren vows revenge on Monique at her instant restaurant, apparently not realising that, as she’ll be cooking and Monique will be voting, that will actually be an opportunity for Monique to take revenge on her. “How do you like them apples?” says Lauren, who saw a movie once.

The judges arrive. The atmosphere is so tense nobody can even become sexually aroused by Manu. Sarah says you could cut the tension with a knife – “a butter knife,” she specifies, so you can assume the tension is not only thick, but tender and beautifully cooked. If Paige and Rosie cook their tension this well, the entree will be spectacular.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: food. There is some. It’s spicy but they put some yoghurt in so it’s less spicy. Then they roll some pastry up and blah blah blah cooking cooking cooking whatever. Back to the dining room, where Alex is speaking earnestly of his hopes for the meal, and nobody is listening because they’re all just waiting for Monique to pour her drink over Lauren’s head. Monique and Sarah do that passive-aggressive bitchy thing they did last night where they say that there’s no skill in the dishes unless Rosie and Paige make absolutely everything from scratch, as if any real person would ever give a crap if the yoghurt in their sauce was homemade or not. The really amazing thing is, I bet Monique and Sarah think people can’t see what they’re doing.

The entree is served. Pete tells Rosie and Paige that last time they cooked, their meal lacked “love”, a technical culinary term meaning, “I can’t be bothered thinking of something interesting to say”. Apparently tonight, they remembered to put love into their lamb rolls, which sounds a bit dodgy, in terms of potential infections, but Pete thinks it’s pretty good: I guess cavemen used a lot of love in their cooking. Rosie is so happy she starts crying, or maybe she’s just crying because such a beautiful dish is being wasted on these barbarians.

The dining room is engaged in a lively debate on how to pronounce shawarma, a shameful illustration of the fact none of these people have seen The Avengers. Everyone seems oddly proud of their ignorance, and confident that foreign-sounding words are hilarious.

Meanwhile in the kitchen Rosie is starting to lose it, having discovered that chicken shawarma contains more than two ingredients and finding this impossible to keep track of. She’s burning bed, she’s burning chicken – as Garth Brooks might say, she’s burning bridges, one by one. Paige forces her to dance her panic away, which would be irritating if Paige wasn’t so damn adorable. Hopefully Paige gets her own show after this.

The stress in the kitchen is nothing compared to the stress in the dining room, where Lauren is drawing an eye, an act which Monique interprets as intolerably hostile. Knowing that if Rosie and Paige get more than 63, she’s finished, Monique is falling prey to culinary paranoia – everywhere she looks there are enemies and haters and competent chefs.

The main course is served, and Rosie immediately announces that she is not happy with it. Manu and Pete inform her that it is actually wonderful, and Rosie bursts into tears, realising that her total inability to judge whether a dish is good or not renders her unfit for a career in food preparation.

In the kitchen Rosie and Paige pour champagne into teacups and toast various spices, planning to get so drunk that dessert will just be a frozen Mars bar dropped down each diner’s back.

Monique and Sarah don’t think much of the main, because after all basically all Rosie and Paige have done is take a bunch of “ingredients”, and “prepare” them with “flavours” in order to “serve” them to “people”. Monique and Sarah would never be so basic as to just give their guests a bunch of “food” that has been “cooked”. What is this, KFC?

Rosie and Paige work hard on dessert, but run into the one eternal problem that all chefs face: the fact that ice cream is a bitch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: anyone who makes their own ice cream is a stupid lunatic. The orange cake, however, is beautiful, and so Pete, as he always does with desserts, violates his passionately-held beliefs to eat and enjoy it. The ice cream is underwhelming, because good ice cream is only possible if you buy it from a shop, but the cake is a hit. Everyone enjoys it, except – against all expectations – Monique and Sarah. Sarah complains that it’s got “a lot of orange in it”, which sadly is a common hazard with orange cakes. Monique goes into exquisite detail about how every single part of dessert was awful, and she’s not just saying that because she’s about to get eliminated – she is a genuinely unpleasant person.

At this, Gareth snaps. He’s been the very soul of sweetness throughout the competition, but his inner Popeye bursts free, and he decides that’s all he can stands, he can’t stands no more. He can find no fault with the orange cake, and – with that boyish grin still on his face, because not smiling is simply not in his skill set – he firmly tells the table so. He doesn’t explicitly say, “Shut your stinking traps, Monique and Sarah, and crawl back under your bitter little rock”, but it’s fairly clearly implied.

Scoring time, and this is where genuine outrages against decency are committed en masse. Alex and Gareth give a ten, because the meal was fantastic. Carmine and Lauren give a seven, because the meal was fantastic but they’re not very nice. Monique and Sarah give a six, because the meal was fantastic but they’re not very nice and they’re also desperate and horribly depressed. And then … and THEN … I just want to spit as I type this … and THEN Nev and Kell give a five. A FIVE. They spend the whole bloody night talking about how much they love every single course, and then they get together, agree that everything was lovely, and give a FIVE. And they’re not even at any risk! They’re on top of the leaderboard anyway, they can’t be eliminated. But they give a FIVE. What happened to you, Nev and Kell? You used to be cool. And then Hazel and Lisa give a three, because seriously, just go to hell, Hazel and Lisa. Not that it matters, because Rosie and Paige, thanks to the judges who are actually honest, get a total of 79, and although it would be about 90 in a just world, it’s still enough to put them on top of the leaderboard, so suck it, everyone else.

Tune in Sunday night when we’ll find out which two teams – Monique and Sarah and someone else – are eliminated, and just how disappointing the big twist is. Episode 22: Vicious snipes in the dining roomEpisode 21: The police finally do something about MKREpisode 14: The one with the spaghetti in a bagEpisode 13: The not-so-shocking mystery judgeEpisode 12: The one we’ve all been waiting forEpisode 11: ‘True blue’ couple burn chancesEpisode 10: JP and Nelly do ‘tea-riffic’Episode 9: The great spice dilemmaEpisode 7: Introducing Group Two’s villainWhy Zana is Seven’s best new talentEpisode 5: Confusion about MaltaEpisode 3: Cougar couple disastrous mealEpisode 2: Dirty shows and a perfect 10Episode 1: Meet the new batch

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Taxis and Uber will fight it out over new ground

Taxi Lineup will face fierce opposition from rival interests, there is no doubt. Photo: Angela Wylie Anthony Lechner recently launched his Taxi LineUp app in Sydney and Melbourne.
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Taxis as a parcel delivery service? Not a bad idea, come to think of it. Not only do cabs use the bus lane, they deliver around the clock; and under fire from Uber, cabbies are keener than ever to pump up their income.

As entrepreneur Anthony Lechner tells it, cabs as couriers was one of those ideas that seemed so obvious at first that his next thought was “surely somebody else has thought of it”.

Apparently not. So the former Nestle executive developed the Taxi Lineup app. He launched this week in Sydney and Melbourne, having signed up 90 drivers in recent weeks, and he plans to go nationwide later this year.

Like Dominos Pizza, customers can track their deliveries live. Lechner says the fact that cabbies work 24 hours may give his business an edge. The most perplexing conundrum in the booming $5 billion-plus parcel delivery market is overcoming the challenge of the so-called “last mile”. That is, couriers typically work during office hours when others are also at work, so nobody is home to accept delivery.

When it comes to courier apps, there are plenty of proverbial cabs on the rank. Perhaps the closest to the pure Uber business form is Sherpa. Set up by Ben Nowlan, Mathieu Cornillon and Bastien Vetault in 2014, Sherpa connects private drivers with parcel delivery customers. It raised $500,000 in seed capital last year.

MeeMeep is another. Born in October 2011, this app allows you to compare the thousands of couriers on price and has struck partnerships with GraysOnline, eBay and AllBids.

Steve Orenstein’s Zoom2U was founded in 2014 and is another live-time delivery service. Zoom2U raised $850,000 in seed capital in 2015 and is backed by Tony Gandel (of Whizz fame) and James Packer’s Ellerston Capital. It has an interstate delivery deal with the Greyhound bus service.

Another marketplace business model, via which couriers bid for on jobs online, is PPost. PPost was also established in 2014 and raised $120,000 in seed funding.

Still another is Sendle. Funded with $1.8 million from NRMA, Sendle does same-day delivery of boxes up to 10kg door-to-door.

Rather than establishing a driver network like Sherpa, Lechner’s Taxi Lineup has cheekily bobbed along and aggregated the existing infrastructure of Australia’s taxi services.

Will the cab companies like it? Probably not, they crankily resisted cab booking apps such as Ingogo. But do they have a choice? How can they force their drivers to ignore extra business and still work for them? They have so far refused to engage at all with Taxi Lineup, Lechner says.

It is the courier companies – the big ones such as DHL and Ipec, and the emerging apps listed above – who will scream blue murder. After all, deploying cabs as couriers has the edge of exploiting bus lanes. Unlike cabs, couriers can’t use bus lanes during peak hour.

​Doubtless there is plenty of space in the market for a number of players though. Online transactions are booming and will continue to grow. On eBay alone about 800,000 local pick-up items are listed each month.

Uber itself is now ​trialling parcel delivery overseas, something that Lechner doesn’t believe poses the same kind of menace as Uber has already posed to the taxi passenger market.

“I just don’t think the business model stacks up,” he told BusinessDay.

“Something which works when there are two very busy Uber drivers in town doesn’t work so well when there are 122.”

Uber’s growth has been sensational. From start-up to monolith in a few brief years, Uber doesn’t make a profit and doesn’t pay a dividend but has a purported value of $US63 billion ($84.87 billion).

Attracting drivers has been no problem yet but once the market is more mature, and drivers have to compete for proportionately less business, Uber may well have a growth challenge. And as Lechner wryly notes, “We plan to be paying tax in Australia”.

Besides the courier apps, there has been growth in pure taxi apps too, passenger apps that is, the likes of Ingogo, GoCatch and CabCue. The first two of these have raised millions in venture capital.

Ingogo was valued at $100 million (when it raised $12 million in a venture capital round last May) and has recently deferred its plans for a public float on the ASX until the second half of this year.

More than $28 million has been invested in ​Ingogo by the likes of UBS and Canaccord Genuity, and MYOB co-founders Chris Lee, Craig Winker and Brad Shofer are also backing the business.

For his part, ​Taxi Lineup’s Lechner already has his sights set on overseas markets and is in talks with venture capital players. The same model can work in the US and elsewhere, he reckons, but exploiting it would take a lot of capital.

Perhaps these are the sort of ideas with which the country’s biggest parcel delivery operation should be tinkering. Australia Post – its chief executive Ahmed Fahour paid $4.8 million and 20 of his executives on packages worth more than $500,000 – risk being picked off by a raft of small operators.

Taxis of course already deliver parcels but for some reason they still don’t spring to mind as a courier service. Perhaps there is a security issue, people not trusting cab drivers. An app sorts that out though, as everything is digitally tracked and recorded.

​Taxi Lineup will face fierce opposition from rival interests, there is no doubt, but there is also no doubt that it makes the cab industry more viable and constitutes a welcome ”disruption” for customers who are more likely to be at home in the evenings and on weekends

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Ryan Park rewarded with Treasury in Labor reshuffle

Michael Daley has been taken off the Treasury portfolio and instead given the planning and infrastructure and gaming and racing portfolios. Photo: Cole Bennetts Linda Burney, pictured with Bill Shorten, has moved out of the shadow cabinet to contest the seat of Barton at this year’s federal election. Photo: Nick Moir
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Deputy NSW Labor leader set to make history

Newly appointed NSW Labor deputy leader Michael Daley has been dumped from the prestigious Treasury portfolio in a reshuffle sparked by former deputy Linda Burney’s​ bid to enter Federal Parliament.

Keira MP Ryan Park – regarded as one of Labor’s best performers – has been rewarded with the Treasury portfolio.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has instead handed Mr Daley – widely regarded as a leadership rival – the portfolios of planning and infrastructure and gaming and racing.

Another stand-out performer, Strathfield MP Jodi McKay, adds Mr Ryan’s key former portfolio of transport to her roads responsibilities.

Mr Foley has also promoted Lakemba MP and former high school principal Jihad Dib to his shadow cabinet in the reshuffle, which increases the number of women on the opposition frontbench to a record nine.

Mr Dib, a first-term MP and former principal at Punchbowl Boys High School, takes the education portfolio from Ms Burney, who moves out of shadow cabinet to contest the seat of Barton at this year’s federal election.

Four other MPs who entered Parliament at the 2015 election have been brought on to the frontbench.

Londonderry MP Prue Car will take on skills and assistant education, while Swansea MP Yasmin Catley gets innovation and better regulation.

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison takes on prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as small business. Kogarah MP Chris Minns becomes water spokesman.

Former soldier Lynda Voltz​ comes on to the frontbench with responsibility for sport and veterans affairs. Walt Secord​ adds arts to his existing responsibilities for health and the north coast.

Mr Foley said the reshuffle “refreshes the frontbench and brings a truckload of tenacity, talent and energy”.

“This is an energised and refreshed Labor team determined to highlight the failures of this government and present a positive alternative to the people of NSW,” he said.

“I am proud to have nine talented women in shadow cabinet who will all be ministers in the next Labor government.”

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Judith Whelan appointed editor of the Sydney Morning Herald as masthead achieves record readership

Judith Whelan has been appointed editor of The Sydney Morning Herald as part of a wide-ranging editorial restructure on the eve of the masthead’s 185th birthday.
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Ms Whelan’s appointment was confirmed as the Herald achieved a record 1.2 million lead over its nearest rival as the most widely read publication in Australia.

The Herald grew its total monthly audience by 9 per cent to 5.3 million according to the latest Enhanced Media Metrics Australia report. The figures, which record readership across print publications and web devices, push the Herald further ahead of The Daily Telegraph, which saw its total audience decline 4.3 per cent to 4.2 million.

The Herald’s editor-in-chief, Darren Goodsir, said Ms Whelan was the clear choice for the editor’s role. She would oversee the implementation of the restructure, aimed at strengthening the Herald’s significant advances in digital journalism.

Ms Whelan is currently the Herald’s news director, where she leads all editorial operations.

However, as editor, her role will expand to take on an added digital focus, on top of extra responsibility for the masthead’s direction and its audience goals.

“Judith is an inspirational and driven newsroom leader who understands implicitly the Herald’s core mission to provide quality, independent and original journalism to an increasingly digital audience,” Mr Goodsir said. “I am thrilled with this appointment”.

A former editor of Good Weekend magazine, Ms Whelan has edited the Saturday edition as well as being a features editor, and a health and transport reporter.  Next month, the Herald will celebrate 185 years in newspaper publishing.

During the past 12 months, the Herald grew its web audience by 17.3 per cent to 3.5 million, while driving mobile and tablet 16.3 per cent higher to 1.4 million. Its print audience slipped 8.6 per cent to 2.1 million over the same period.

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Green slip insurance shake-up on the cards for UberX drivers

CTP: Authorities want to create a level playing field in NSW. Photo: Fairfax Victor Dominello: “It is important that CTP rules and prices … better reflect the changing dynamics of this sector.” Photo: Orlando Chiodo
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Drivers using their cars for ride-sharing services such as UberX could be forced to declare it to authorities and be charged higher insurance premiums under options being considered to regulate the emerging industry.

Having legalised services such as UberX and Lyft, the NSW government is set to shake up the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme to create a level playing field with taxis and hire cars.

Minister for Better Regulation Victor Dominello will on Thursday unveil six options being considered.

They include: creating a new CTP class for ride-share vehicles; bringing them into the same class as taxis and hire cars; and deregulating the area to allow insurers to determine premiums based on risk.

The options paper says it could be a challenge to enforce disclosure by ride-share vehicles if they were brought into a new class. Deregulation could deter operators from working in high-risk areas or at high-risk times of the day, it says.

Also under consideration is bringing all taxis, hire cars and ride-share vehicles into the same basic passenger vehicle class.

Taxis pay about $7000 a year for CTP insurance, compared with $600-$700 for private passenger vehicles.

The paper says this option would bring a big reduction in taxi premiums – and potentially lower fares – but an annual premium increase of “at least” $18 for private cars in metropolitan Sydney.

The government will also look at imposing a new levy on all point-to-point vehicles based on the risks associated with the time of day and where the car is hired, to fund extra insurer costs.

It will also contemplate not changing vehicle classes but allowing insurers more flexibility to set premiums based on risk.

Common to the options is that owners of ride-share cars would for the first time have to declare the vehicles are being used for that purpose at the point of registration or insurance application.

Mr Dominello told Fairfax Media the review would “clarify the CTP price and regulatory disparities that currently exist between taxis, hire cars and ride-share services”.

“It is important that CTP rules and prices are fair and better reflect the changing dynamics of this sector.”

NSW Taxi Council chief executive Roy Wakelin-King welcomed the review.

“We would be looking to a solution that has point-to-point vehicles in the same class and incentives for operators to perform better by reducing risk of accident and thus attract a better premium as a consequence,” he said.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company looked forward to seeing the detail but it was “important to remember that the primary use of these vehicles is still for personal use”.

“Recognising the different ways people use ride sharing to earn a flexible income will be key as we move through these discussions,” she said.

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DEXUS and ICPF slug it out over Investa Office

Deutsche Bank Place is one of the towers owned by Investa Office Fund. Photo: Michele Mossop The battle for control of the Investa Office Fund has intensified with the independent directors and experts endorsing the $2.5 billion DEXUS​ offer, while the current manager has rejected the valuations contained in the offer documents.
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The two-pronged situation for IOF unitholders of accepting the DEXUS offer or staying with Investa Commercial Property Fund, as the current manager, was further muddied with suggestions that rival Mirvac is working on a counter-offer with at least two parties, including the Chinese Investment Corporation.

IOF unitholders will vote on the DEXUS proposal on Friday, April 8, in Sydney. Morgan Stanley has a direct stake of 8.9 per cent and it is still unclear if it can vote on the deal.

The speculation of a new bid had IOF units rise yesterday 12¢ to $4.11, and DEXUS rose 0.8¢ to $7.76.

After a long year since Morgan Stanley kicked off the sale of the Investa platform, the listed IOF released its 344-page explanatory memorandum on Tuesday, in which its independent board committee unanimously recommended the cash-and-scrip DEXUS offer.

Peter Rowe, an IOF independent director, said the process to sell IOF has been “thorough and exhausting and the DEXUS offer was considered in the best interests of IOF unitholders”.

“Since this all started, we have had one thing on our minds, which is to get the best outcome for IOF unitholders,” Mr Rowe said.

The proposed DEXUS deal was also given the tick of approval from KPMG, the independent experts to IOF. “KPMG Corporate Finance has concluded the DEXUS proposal is fair and reasonable to, and in best interests of, IOF unitholders in the absence of a superior proposal,” the report says.

Rival DEXUS launched a $0.8229 cash and 0.424 DEXUS securities per IOF unit offer for the listed Investa Office in late December as the third tranche in the sale of the whole Investa platform by Morgan Stanley.

The other parts of the Morgan Stanley sale saw the Chinese Investment Corp pay $2.5 billion for the portfolio of IOF buildings, Proprium Capital Partners bought Investa Land for $340 million, while the unlisted ICPF is now the manager of IOF.

If successful, the merged DEXUS-IOF entity will create a $24 billion office-focused real estate investment trust that will dwarf its peers.

DEXUS will increase its share of the national office market to about 7.4 per cent from 2.6 per cent in 2009, or about $17.5 billion, and will own assets such as Deutsche Bank Place at 126 Philip Street, Sydney, and 567 Collins Street, Melbourne.

In Sydney it would command about 11 per cent of the premium-grade office skyscrapers.

ICPF chief executive Jonathan Callaghan said: “We have reviewed the EM outlining the Dexus Proposal”.

“It reaffirms our view that the Dexus proposal is not compelling and undervalues IOF, with minimal premium for control. In the coming days Investa will present a choice for IOF unitholders to consider ahead of the vote on 8 April that will support a strong case for unitholders to vote ‘no’ to the Dexus proposal,” Mr Callaghan said.

According to the offer documents, the DEXUS proposal delivers IOF unitholders annualised 2016 funds from operations earnings accretion of 17.5 per cent per IOF unit as well as significant diversification and scale benefits, and exposure to additional revenue streams with enhanced growth opportunities within the DEXUS business.

But institutional investors, some of whom have been lukewarm on the DEXUS deal, have disputed this, saying that in the independent expert report it states because the DEXUS share price was influenced by the security buyback program, which was suspended on December 7 last year before the offer was proposed, “our valuation analysis has focused on post-announcement market prices of DEXUS securities”.

The investors said that based on this statement, the premium to net tangible assets was a negative 0.2 per cent.

In response to the document release,  DEXUS chief executive Darren Steinberg said it was an attractive transaction for DEXUS security holders and a “compelling proposition for IOF unitholders, both financially and strategically”.

“It brings together two complementary portfolios and provides the opportunity for IOF unitholders to participate in the immediate benefits associated with an investment in DEXUS,” Mr Steinberg said.

“In addition to ownership of a quality Australian property portfolio, IOF unitholders will benefit from our established third-party funds management and trading businesses.

“The merger also enables IOF to achieve an internalised management structure, benefiting from an experienced and stable team with a proven track record and established, efficient systems and processes.”

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APA lashes out at tougher controls as gas supply gap looms

ACCC chief Rod Sims plans to closely monitor the pipeline industry. Photo: Michele MossopPipeline major APA has roundly rejected criticism from the competition watchdog it is wielding undue market power, as it emerged the collapse in the oil price has slashed exploration activity with a warning of a possible lack of gas supplies in less than three years.
Nanjing Night Net

Additional gas reserves will need to be developed by 2019 to “maintain long-term gas supply adequacy” in eastern and south-eastern Australia, the managing director of the Australian Energy Markets Operator, Matt Zema, warned.

“This means that currently undeveloped gas reserves, including those reported as contingent resources and possible reserves, will be required to ‘come online’ to meet forecast demand as early as 2019.”

The slump in the oil price has resulted in a collapse in oil and gas exploration, according to a survey by EnergyQuest, while the start-up of gas export projects in Queensland could lead to a “supply gap” of about 80 petajoules of gas in 2020, rising to about 170 petajoules by 2025. Australia’s annual gas demand is near 700 petajoules.

On Wednesday, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission head Rod Sims warned the concentration of power in the gas pipeline industry may be adversely affecting gas supplies, foreshadowing tighter regulation of gas pipeline operations.

“We’re big, there’s no question about that,” APA boss Mick McCormack said in response to criticism from the ACCC. “No claim of market power has ever been made against us. The claim of market power is a very serious matter.

“I run a commercial enterprise There is no profit for me in not selling capacity” in APA pipelines.

“The test here isn’t whether the price should be lower, but whether the price is ‘fair and reasonable’ and how it was arrived at.”

But Mr Sims said the lack of competition means “this is a market where market power can be exercised and where the potential impact of monopoly pricing can be significant.”

The ACCC estimates APA controls 50 per cent of the industry. Regulation of natural monopolies such as pipelines is accepted in other areas of the economy and in many other countries “even in the most free-market-supportive ones like the United States”, Mr Sims said.

“To argue regulation is the panacea is ridiculous,” Mr McCormack said. “We structure our tariffs on a commercial basis.”

After the industry has spent $30 billion developing a national gas grid for the past two decades, “the proposal the ACCC seems to be putting is to recommend regulation”.

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Dominant dingoes keep their bite despite cross-breeding

A 3D skull reconstructed from a CT scan superimposed on an image of a dingo. Photo: Karen Black/modified by Will Parr/UNSW Can you tell the difference? The pink skull is the dingo, the purple skull is the hybrid and the green skull is the wild dog breed. Photo: UNSW
Nanjing Night Net

Dingoes keep the distinctive shape of their heads despite crossbreeding and this is good news for native ecosystems and animal diversity.

That’s a conclusion drawn from a new study published today in Evolutionary Biology.

Led by Will Parr at the University of NSW, the study concludes that the dingo skull shape is dominant compared with imported species.

Dr Parr told Fairfax Media that “the dingo has a morphological dominance and likely that’s there because of an underlying genetic dominance”.

Further, the study shows the hybrid offspring of dingoes and imported dogs quickly revert to “dingo cranial morphology”.

In other words, the dingo keeps its bite even as it breeds with imports.

This is probably good news for native species and ecosystems, Dr Parr said.

One of Dr Parr’s co-authors, Associate Professor Mike Letnic, also of UNSW, said: “What dingoes do in the wild is they help to keep numbers of foxes, feral cats and kangaroos down. That has benefits for smaller native mammals in the ecosystem such as bandicoots, bilbies and native rodents.”

By keeping their distinctive head shapes while interbreeding, they are more likely to do this successfully, maintaining their distinctive ecological role as primary predator.

Dr Parr said: “If crossbreeding had affected the shape of the dingo skull, it would have changed what it could eat and this would have knock-on effects for other species.”

He said imported species have recessive structural traits. “This is the result of selective breeding to maintain breed standards,” he said.

Just as well for the dingo and other species such as the bilby and bandicoot.

“Cranial morphology has evolved to suit [the dingo] environment. So if you crossbreed it with domesticated dogs with very different shapes, you could change the shape of the dingo’s skull, and therefore change what it is able to eat,” Dr Parr said.

“This could in turn change its ecological role and how it affects the environment around it.”

By having a dominant skull shape, the impact of crossbreeding on the food chain is minimised.

Dr Letnic’s early study on the ecological role of the dingo in 2013 won a Eureka Prize for science.

At the time of that study his co-author, Euan Ritchie of Deakin University, wrote: “Our research shows that dingoes are key elements in the struggle to reduce damage caused by foxes, feral cats and even kangaroos.

“Ecosystems with dingoes have better vegetation and more diverse and abundant populations of small native mammals. In fact, a good dose of our native dog can sustain biodiversity and help land managers control invasive species.”

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

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