need2know: ASX poised to open higher

Wall Street was higher on Wednesday afternoon as a strong recovery in oil prices pushed energy shares higher. Photo: Richard DrewLocal shares are poised to open higher as oil and metals rallied overnight. $A surges through 75 US cents. NZ cuts key interest rate.
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What you need2know

SPI futures up 15pts or 0.3% to 5170 at 7am Sydney time

AUD up 1% to 75.09 US cents, 85.11 Japanese yen, 68.19 Euro cents and 52.80 British pence

On Wall St, in late trade, Dow +0.2%, S&P +0.5%, Nasdaq +0.5%

In Europe, Stoxx 50 +0.6%, FTSE +0.5%, CAC +0.6%, DAX +0.4%

In London, BHP +1.1%, Rio +0.2%

Spot gold -0.6% to $US1253.82 at 2.59pm New York time

Brent crude +3% to $US40.84 at 2.34pm New York time

US oil +4.4% to $US38.10

Iron ore -8.8% to $US58.02

What’s on today

ECB rate decision. South Korea rate decision.

Overseas data: China inflation (Feb.), China new lending, money supply (Feb.) anytime March 10-15, US jobless claims (weekly), US quarterly services survey (4Q), US household net worth (4Q), US budget statement (Feb.), Germany trade data (Jan.)

Overseas earnings: Dollar General, Linde, Aviva, Carrefour


The Kiwi has fallen in the wake of the RBNZ’s unexpected 25 basis point rate cut, putting the official cash rate at 2.25%. In a statement, RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler said the outlook for global growth has deteriorated. “There are many risks to the outlook. Internationally, these are to the downside and relate to the prospects for global growth, particularly around China, and the outlook for global financial markets. The main domestic risks relate to weakness in the dairy sector, the decline in inflation expectations, the possibility of continued high net immigration, and pressures in the housing market.”

Wheeler said the NZ central bank will remain accommodative. “While long-run inflation expectations are well-anchored at 2 per cent, there has been a material decline in a range of inflation expectations measures.  This is a concern because it increases the risk that the decline in expectations becomes self-fulfilling and subdues future inflation outcomes.

“Headline inflation is expected to move higher over 2016, but take longer to reach the target range. Monetary policy will continue to be accommodative. Further policy easing may be required to ensure that future average inflation settles near the middle of the target range. We will continue to watch closely the emerging flow of economic data.”

The euro erased losses against the greenback to trade at $US1.1006 in New York. “There’s talk of rates cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase program, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy,” said Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management. “Let’s see tomorrow how good Draghi is at playing the market. He has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet.”

Russia’s rouble jumped 2.7 per cent versus the US dollar. Turkey’s lira strengthened for a second day, rising 0.3 per cent. Brazil’s real was the best performer, followed by the currencies of other commodity-producing nations.


Ore with 62 per cent content delivered to Qingdao fell 8.8 per cent to $US58.02 a dry metric ton, according to emailed data from Metal Bulletin. The price dipped 0.2 per cent on Tuesday after Monday’s 19 per cent rally to the highest since June. The retreat was preceded by losses on futures in Singapore and China.

Oil rose to near the highest level in two months after a US government report showed gasoline inventories dropped more than expected last week. West Texas Intermediate futures climbed as much as 4.2 percent. Gasoline supplies fell by 4.53 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a drop of 1.5 million. Crude stockpiles rose by 3.88 million, the EIA said. “This is certainly a bullish report,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities in Toronto.

Copper, zinc and other base metals rebounded as speculators piled back into the market on hopes more production cuts would lead to shortages. However, copper-output cuts spurred by lower prices aren’t enough to end a surplus this year and demand won’t catch up with supply until 2017, according to Javier Targhetta, a senior vice president of marketing and sales at Freeport-McMoRan, the largest publicly traded producer of the metal.

United States

Wall Street was higher on Wednesday afternoon as a strong recovery in oil prices pushed energy shares higher. “It’s the same three culprits that have been driving the first two months of the year and that is – central bank policy, China and oil,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the private client group at US Bank in Helena, Montana.

Biotechs came under pressure after the US government proposed a test program aimed at lowering Medicare drug costs. The Nasdaq Biotechnology sector was down 1.3 per cent.

Sentiment has improved on Apple. Shares in the iPhone maker have increased 5 per cent in the past two weeks as Wall Street bets the company this month will launch a less expensive phone to boost sales in developing countries like China. Ahead of the stock’s 20-per cent drop that started in December, 41 analysts recommended buying Apple shares while just one recommended selling, according to Thomson Reuters data. Currently, no analysts recommend selling, while 38 recommend buying.


European shares advanced as investors speculated on further stimulus from the ECB when it meets tomorrow. Glencore paced miners higher, rising 2.3%, while gains in oil helped energy shares rebound from their deepest selloff in two weeks. BHP Billiton added 1.1% and Rio Tinto edged 0.2% higher.

The Stoxx 600 added 0.6 per cent to 339.39 at 4.30pm in London, after earlier rising as much as 1.3 per cent. The equity gauge has recovered 12 per cent from a 2013 low reached last month amid concern over global growth and a rout in banks. Investors are once again looking to the ECB for reassurance that monetary policy will focus on boosting growth. President Mario Draghi said in January that officials will consider the possibility of more stimulus at the upcoming gathering.

“Expectations are quite high for tomorrow,” said Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management. “There’s talk of rate cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase program, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy. Let’s see how good Draghi is at playing the market: he has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet.”

What happened yesterday

The Australian sharemarket shrugged off a weak lead to resume its March rally, lifted higher by buying in the big banks and a strong day for healthcare stocks. Early in trade the market fell by as much as 26 points before staging a 1.5 per cent turnaround to close at the day’s highs.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1 per cent or 49 points higher to 5157.2. The broader All Ordinaries rose 0.9 per cent or 46 points to 5215.7.

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Could shares in brickmaker Boral soar if Donald Trump becomes US President?

Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican wall will need a lot of bricks Photo: Tom Pennington Boral is getting the trucks ready… just in case Trump decides to build anything big. Photo: Ben Rushton
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As the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US presidency becomes more realistic by the day, local investors are starting to ponder what a Trump presidency could mean for the Australian sharemarket.

The chief investment officer of Australian Foundation Investment Company, Mark Freeman, believes he might have found the answer.

Referring to the large wall that Mr Trump has vowed to build along the border of the US and Mexico if he wins office, Mr Freeman told AFIC shareholders that building materials companies could thrive under a future President Trump.

“One of the stocks we might have to look at is Boral, because they manufacture bricks in the US and they will need a lot of bricks to build that wall,” he told AFIC shareholders on Wednesday.

Yes, Mr Freeman was joking, but then again, most people thought Mr Trump was joking too when he flagged plans to run for president.

But it seems someone is already onto the “Trump & pump” strategy; shares in Boral have risen 17 per cent over the past five months.

US Bank strategist Bill Merz​ was quoted by Bloomberg last month as saying the election was making markets more volatile.

“The longer there remains uncertainty in the election cycle, the more it can start to creep into investor sentiment and expectations around policy and that can facilitate more volatility,” he said.

While Boral’s link to the US election may be more humorous than serious, some ASX-listed companies do have a bit riding on the outcome of the US presidential race.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto will have reason to be concerned if Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders wins his way to the White House.

In late 2015, Senator Sanders jointly sponsored a bill to repeal the law that gave the two ASX-listed miners access to land earmarked for a new copper mine called Resolution.

The Resolution mine, of which BHP and Rio each own 50 per cent, is controversial because it will be built on lands that Apache people consider to be sacred.

Rio and BHP were given access in a land-swap deal that has been bitterly contested.

Despite the situation, neither miner will be making donations to Senator Sanders’ rivals; both have strict policies banning political donations in all countries.

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Staying trim with fuel efficiency by propane

IT powers our taxis to supersonic speeds, burns sausages to a crisp, and now propane gas is propelling the leanest, cleanest and greenest outboards on the market.
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New to Australia is a range of LPG-powered four-stroke motors from LEHR, which are said to be exceptionally eco-friendly and cost-effective. Where you normally associate gas with big petrol-guzzling motors, the LEHRs are limited to 2.5, 5, 9.9, 15 and 25 horsepower.

The overhead-valve engines have zero evaporative emissions, easy starting with no choke and no priming, and no carburettor clogging – everything you want in a new-generation motor for the tinnie transoms and yacht sterns of Australia.

Propane, on average, is 30 per cent less expensive than petrol, being domestically produced and commonly in high supply. Gas retailers offer tank exchange programs or bulk-filling cylinders at various locations.

Apparently gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds and up to 70 per cent less hydrocarbons. Added to that, the LEHR motors run a closed fuel system to ensure even cleaner burning.

LEHR Australia will have a display at Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May while the nearest dealership is Huett Marine Centre at Cowan – phone 9456 1444.

And speaking of fuel efficiency, also new to the outboard world is a GPS-based auto-trim system from Mercury designed for a wide range of outboards and sterndrives.

Trimming is an under-utilised if not unknown art for many runabout skippers, despite the fact it makes such a major difference to fuel burn, outright performance and ride comfort.

Forget trimming up too early or too late when the boat is getting on plane – the new GPS-based system does all the thinking to make boating easier and more enjoyable.

ART: Active Trim at work, keeping an RIB inflatable running clean and fast. Active Trim is compatible with 40hp to 400hp Mercury four-stroke outboards, two-stroke outboards with SmartCraft.

According to Mercury, those who’ve used the system have been overwhelmingly positive, likening Active Trim to moving from manual to automatic transmission on a car. That means new boaties can drive a properly trimmed craft from day one.

It’s not entirely new – Volvo Penta has an Automatic Boat Trim system for larger vessels that uses Interceptor trim tabs integrated with GPS receivers to deliver optimum levelling. I’ve tried them on a couple of Rivieras and couldn’t go back to the manual system.

Mercury claims its system uses an exclusive and patented control system that doesn’t just rely on engine rpm. Rather, it also factors in boat speed to avoid problems when a propeller cavitates in a hard turn. You certainly don’t want the leg trimming up at that moment.

PROGRESS: The Lehr outboard motor uses LPG. The gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds.

Five selectable trim profiles cover everything from runabouts, pontoons, bass boats and cruisers to high-performance ski rigs.

You just select the profile that’s best suited for the application, although skippers can personalise Active Trim to suit their driving style or changes in boat load and conditions.It’s available mid-March for US boat companies and should be on its way to Australia this year.

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Negative gearing: we’re becoming a nation of landlords and serfs

The negative gearing-driven explosion has made it harder for Australians to buy houses to live in. Photo: iStockOnce we talked about the great Australian dream. Now it’s something meaner: “getting ahead”. The great Australian dream meant owning your own home. “Getting ahead” means getting ahead of someone else. It’s how Treasurer Scott Morrison sees the Australian dream.
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“I think it is great in this country that people want to aspire to do better and provide for their kids, so I don’t judge people for actually wanting to get ahead,” the treasurer told radio host Neil Mitchell a few weeks back. “That’s what this country is about.”

It’s certainly what negative gearing is about. “The vast bulk of Australians who use negative gearing are just trying to get ahead and trying to get their family in a better position,” Morrison says. But negative gearing only gets them ahead if prices climb. The more that people negatively gear in order to get ahead, the more prices climb. The further they climb, the harder houses become to buy. And the harder they become to buy, the more the Australian dream recedes.

This is what has happened. Back before the explosion of negative gearing around the turn of the century, 52 per cent of Australians aged in their mid-20s to mid-30s actually owned their home. At the most recent census in 2011 it was 47 per cent. Before the turn of the century, 70 per cent of Australians aged in their mid-30s to mid-40s owned their own home. It’s now 64 per cent.

The negative gearing-driven explosion has made it harder for Australians to buy houses to live in. Here’s how Luci Ellis, head of the Reserve Bank’s financial stability department, puts it: “It’s a truism that if an investor is buying a property an owner-occupier is not.”

It gets better, for investors: “To the extent that person is not then buying their own home, they are therefore creating a market for rental and making it attractive to purchase investor properties.”

Betting on prices going up becomes a self-perpetuating machine. The further they climb out of reach of owner-occupiers, the more the Australian dream recedes and the more renters there are to rent to, which allows investors to bet still more on prices rising.

The man who chaired the inquiry that Ellis spoke to was John Alexander, the Liberal member for Bennelong. He says the changes are turning Australia from a “commonwealth”, with huge home ownership, into more of a “kingdom” in which landlords rent to involuntary tenants who pay through the tax system for their acquisitions.

“Some have said we are on track to becoming a kingdom where the Lords own all the land and the biggest Lord will be King and the enslaved serf tenant is paying rent to the Lord to become wealthier,” he told the Financial Review. “Is that an over-dramatisation or is it very, very close to the truth?”

A landlord-heavy housing market is inherently unstable. Whereas owner-occupiers aren’t that likely to sell if interest rates rise or prices threaten to stop climbing, landlords can run for the doors. The Property Council makes the point dramatically in an advertisement depicting housing as a house of cards.

One way to wind things back would be to gently limit negative gearing. It’s an idea endorsed by the Murray Financial System Review and now the Business Council of Australia. It’s Labor policy, and despite Morrison’s talk about the need to support mum and dad investors (over mum and dad buyers), it might yet be adopted by the Coalition in some form.

Alexander’s committee was considering limiting the amount of mortgage interest that could be deducted from wages. At the moment it’s 100 per cent. That proportion could be adjusted by an authority such as the Reserve Bank to keep the market stable. And the committee was considering extending to owner-occupiers the concessions afforded to investors.

Right now investors get to deduct interest payments from their income for the purpose of determining tax. Under the proposal owner-occupiers could opt to have a portion of their interest payments treated the same way. If for example they chose to deduct 20 per cent of their interest payments from income they would be taxed on 20 per cent of the eventual gain when they sold.

Every time a negative gearer sold to an owner-occupier the government’s tax position would improve, the housing market would become more stable, and more Australians would be protected from poverty in their old age.

The changes in politics at the end of last year saw Alexander removed as chairman of the committee and another chair appointed who has also since moved. The report was due at the end of last year, but it  will now be finalised later this month as soon as another chair is appointed.

Public opinion backs Alexander, just. This week’s Essential poll shows 34 per cent of Australians would prefer lower housing prices and 32 per cent would prefer higher prices. Landlords strongly favour higher prices.

For a while, before politics overtook things, it looked as if we would have a sane discussion about what our headlong rush into negative gearing was doing to us. I’m hoping it’s not too late.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

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‘Zika is not a new Ebola’: Brazilian Ambassador combats ‘misinformation’

Zika virus: Full coverageZika virus alert: Sexual transmission common
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On Monday, February 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Zika virus, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, an international public health emergency.

The announcement followed the declaration by Brazil of a national public health emergency. An outbreak of the Zika virus was detected last year in Brazil.

The virus has since been found in several countries in Latin America and, more recently, the United States. The main concern is over the virus’ link to microcephaly, a congenital condition where a child is born with a smaller than normal head size and impaired brain development.

The WHO declaration will allow for better coordination of actions and mobilisation of the necessary funding in a global effort aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, as well as speeding up the research to develop a vaccine and new therapeutic drugs.

Despite the real public health risk, it is important to avoid misinformation. At this point, there is no reason to cancel business or pleasure trips, but extra precautions must be taken by pregnant women, who should talk to a doctor before travelling to the most affected areas.

As the Brazilian ambassador in Washington, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, has pointed out in a recent article, the Zika is not a new Ebola, its symptoms being similar to a mild flu in adults.

The Zika virus is of course a matter of concern, given association with microcephaly in newborn babies. More data and standardised protocols are needed before the link – first discovered by Brazilian doctors – between the virus and such cases of abnormally small heads and brain damage can be fully clarified.

Microcephaly in newborn babies can also be caused by a number of other diseases. Health experts are dealing with something new: the link between Zika and microcephaly is unprecedented in the scientific literature and requires in-depth studies and analyses – which are already under way – both to find out what is really happening and to determine the risk level for pregnant women.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health is investigating 5909 suspected cases of microcephaly in the country. According to the latest information released on February 27, 641 diagnoses of microcephaly were confirmed, of which 82 were linked to the Zika virus. Another 1046 suspected cases of microcephaly had their diagnosis discarded. This in no way diminishes the seriousness of the risk, nor does it weaken the resolve of the Brazilian government to take action.

From a Brazilian perspective, this fight is global, regional, and national. Globally, the WHO will be the main coordinator of efforts in this fight to control the virus worldwide. On the regional level, Brazil is also in permanent contact with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and regional partners.

At the domestic level, the Brazilian government is seriously addressing this issue as a matter of utmost importance, not only in view of the Olympics but also because of its potential long-term impact on the Brazilian people. The federal government has launched a three-front National Plan to Combat the Aedes and Microcephaly: prevention and combat against the Aedes aegypti; healthcare and assistance to pregnant women and children; and research. All efforts are co-ordinated by the federal government in partnership with state and local governments.

In order to fight the vector of the infection, the mosquito, the Brazilian government has deployed 220,000 troops and 300,000 health agents, who are visiting communities to educate the population and help eliminate all mosquito breeding grounds.

Insecticides and larvicides, as well as repellents, are also being employed as traditional weapons that proved efficient in the past. The mobilisation also involves the civil society, schools, NGOs and other public and private institutions in a broad-based alliance to raise public awareness about the infection and prevent the spread of the disease.

Apart from these more traditional strategies and the efforts to strengthen its healthcare network, Brazil is investing in technology and research to develop a vaccine and new therapies. A genetically modified mosquito, now under trial, could offer a new and promising weapon. Our national public health institutions are reaching out to their partners abroad to strengthen the research network and develop more efficient diagnostic kits, antiviral drugs and a Zika vaccine.

In Brazil, the Butantan, Chagas, Pasteur, and FioCruz Institutes operate as leading world-class institutions with vast experience in tropical diseases and a successful record in technological development. All the available expertise and manpower of these and other organisations is now directed towards this fight, in co-operation with international partners. The private sector, especially drug companies, is also investing in research into new and innovative ways to defeat the virus. This is an emergency, but Brazil and the world have the know-how and are able to muster the human and material resources to meet the challenge.

The Brazilian government promptly notified PAHO and WHO about the Zika outbreak and is taking the measures that have proved effective in similar situations in the past. I am certain that this strategy will pay off.

While any reaction based on misinformation may disrupt our daily lives without helping to solve the problem, effective measures require scientifically consistent data, transparency, rational planning, and decisive action. The international community must unite in this global effort and draw the right lessons to improve the international framework for preventing and fighting epidemics and tropical diseases. Brazil will continue to do its part with resolve and determination.

As Brazil prepares for the Olympics in August, authorities are working hard to rid the Rio de Janeiro region and the whole country of Aedis aegypti mosquitoes. Moreover, the Olympics will take place during winter in the southern hemisphere, a period of cooler temperatures, which usually contribute to a sharp decrease in mosquito-borne illnesses. We are perfectly aware of the responsibility of being the first South American country to host the Olympics. It was to me a source of great satisfaction to hear from Kitty Chiller, Australia’s chef de mission for the Rio Olympics, that she had a good impression from the preparation for the Games and that she is confident the event will be successful

Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr is the Brazilian ambassador to Australia.

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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.

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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

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

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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.
Nanjing Night Net

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

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

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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
Nanjing Night Net

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.”

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

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