Postecoglou has reason to smile after Socceroos blitz Kuwait

Socceroos get off to flying start in Asian Cup with 4-1 win over KuwaitThe perfect start as Socceroos show glimpses of Ange Postecoglou’s visionSecurity measures won’t be ramped up for ANZ Stadium Asian Cup fixtures
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Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou was all smiles after his side eased into Asian Cup reckoning with an opening night blitz of Kuwait, saying his team showed patience, maturity, discipline and no little skill to take control of the game after falling behind to a shock early goal from the visitors.

“I am pleased with the result, it was a great reward for the players’ efforts,” he said. “We conceded a goal we should never have conceded. There was really good energy and intent in the tempo we played. …we got the goals we deserved.

“Sometimes things don’t go to plan and it’s how you react that’s important. I would have preferred we didn’t concede (but) they didn’t go into their shells.”

Australia again conceded a sloppy goal from a set piece, but on this occasion Postecoglou was prepared to overlook the error.

“At the end of a 4-1 victory I am pretty sure that most of the emphasis will be on the positives.. That kind of goal was unacceptable, they were pretty disappointed, we need to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“It was really self-inflicted. The positives far outweigh any negatives today. It’s not easy to play against an opponent who sits back in their own half. It can get frustrating and you have to be patient. I thought the quality of our goals was good and there were some well-constructed moves.”

Postecoglou said the equaliser was the critical goal even though he felt his side was getting on top before that. It gave his side the belief that they could go on and win a game he felt would be stretched in the latter stages as the Kuwaitis would struggle to match the pace and physical intensity of his side.

He was delighted with the showing of Massimo Luongo, who started because, said Postecoglou, Australia was always going to have a lot of the ball and he wanted a midfielder who would be a goal threat.

“Massimo was outstanding, there was some real urgency about what he did. He’s one of the guys we have blooded in the past 14 months, we have worked with him, perservered with him, put him into camps.

“I figured this game would pan out where we would have a lot of the ball and in those kind of situations he would be a goal threat. We wanted to win well tonight, it’s important, the first game is crucial.”

And, of course, Postecoglou could not hide his admiration for the contribution of the evergreen Cahill, who got the leveller, not with his head, as is so often the case, but with a shot from a pass by Luongo.

“Tim Cahill is still a fantastic player.. he’s still very dangerous in the box… the way the team plays suits him as well. There wouldn’t be a defender in the world today who would like to be one-on-one with Tim Cahill. It was also pleasing to see other guys get some goals tonight and get some confidence. It shows we have multiple threats.”

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With Luke Foley, another leader rises in Labor’s time-honoured way

No contest: Luke Foley is likely to stand unopposed in the ALP preselection battle. Photo: James Brickwood No contest: Luke Foley is likely to stand unopposed in the ALP preselection battle. Photo: James Brickwood
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No contest: Luke Foley is likely to stand unopposed in the ALP preselection battle. Photo: James Brickwood

No contest: Luke Foley is likely to stand unopposed in the ALP preselection battle. Photo: James Brickwood

Next Saturday, Labor branch members were due to gather at a venue in Auburn to cement Luke Foley’s future in the NSW Parliament.

There they would have been asked to decide who will be the ALP candidate to represent them and other Auburn residents at the March 28 state election.

The branch members were expected to endorse a man whom many of them have probably never met.

But in the end, there was no need for even a vote. When nominations closed last Thursday, Foley was the only candidate and officially preselected by default.

The whole exercise was a charade, undertaken for two reasons.

First, and most obviously, ALP head office wants to be sure their new parliamentary leader secures a safe seat in the lower house to take up the fight to Premier Mike Baird in the bear pit.

Auburn was the most suitable because Foley lives just outside its boundaries and – thanks to allegations of branch stacking – the preselection battle between sitting MP Barbara Perry and local councillor Hicham Zraika was not yet decided.

Second, and more pointedly, as the new leader Foley wants to keep his reputation intact.

As a leading member of the Left faction, Foley has spoken in favour of granting ordinary Labor members more say over who represents them in the parliament.

To allow himself to be forced upon branch members as their representative in Auburn would be starkly at odds with that position.

So when it became obvious a head office “parachute” was on offer that would have simply installed him as the candidate, Foley quickly declared he would not accept one and called for a rank-and-file preselection.

The party obliged. Its national executive cancelled the current preselection and called a brand new ballot for January 17.

Shortly afterwards Zraika and Perry miraculously announced they would not nominate against Foley, ultimately leaving him as the sole candidate.

Now, to anyone observing this process in the real world this was clearly a carefully crafted political fix. But not in the parallel universe of the NSW Labor party, apparently.

Foley continues to protest that because a rank-and-file preselection has been called he is prostrating himself before Auburn branch members and, ipso facto, his hands are clean.

But is this really how Foley’s role in all of this should be read?

Has he actually behaved genuinely as a man of principle? Or has he in fact turned a blind eye to the scheming of party powerbrokers (as a former party official he would know full well how these things are organised)?

It’s an important consideration, because as a keen student of ALP history, Foley knows only too well that the answer has the capacity to put an early spin on his leadership.

Any suggestion that he is indebted to the “faceless men” at head office undermines the idea he is his own man. Just ask Kristina Keneally, who struggled with being branded a “puppet” of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi.

This also has the capacity to reflect on his subsequent approach to internal democratic reform.

Any future wavering in this area could be seen as pandering to the Sussex Street powerbrokers who remain opposed to key changes such as the introduction of direct election of upper house candidates.

It’s likely that the answer is: a bit of both. There is little to suggest Foley does not genuinely believe in the rights of ordinary branch members.

But he also appears to be holding his nose when it comes to acknowledging the unmistakeable odour of a fix emanating from head office.

Perhaps this is understandable. Foley and the ALP’s decision were all about expediency in extraordinary circumstances. John Robertson resigned two days before Christmas, leaving the party little choice but to move as quickly and decisively as possible.

But it’s also somewhat disappointing for a party that for the four years since its worst ever election loss has promised to be turning over a new leaf.

As Labor itself has stated on so often, the key to rebuilding its brand is to re-establish the trust of the community. It is also key to growing the party with concrete demonstrations that the concerns of ordinary members are looked after.

Being honest with voters – and members – about why the party provided Foley a parachute – to give him and Labor the best possible chance at the forthcoming election – would have gone a long way towards doing that.

Twitter: @seannic

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We can’t get carried away, claims Socceroos’ goalscoring hero Tim Cahill

Australian captain Jedinak suffers injury scareMatch report: Australia 4 Kuwait 1Socceroos perfect startPostecoglou has reason to smileANZ Stadium won’t won’t be ramped up
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Australia might have trounced Kuwait 4-1 in the opening match of the Asian Cup but the team’s talisman, Tim Cahill, believes the Socceroos will only improve as the tournament goes on – and says they won’t get carried away with their dream start.

Ange Postecoglou’s side fell behind to an early goal at AAMI Park in Melbourne but hit back in sensational fashion, blitzing the opposition with an attacking barrage that Kuwait’s defence couldn’t handle.

The result puts the Socceroos in the box seat to challenge for top spot in the group ahead of their upcoming matches against Oman in Sydney and South Korea in Brisbane but Cahill did his best to keep a lid on expectations, despite conceding it was “a great start to a big tournament”.

“We won’t get carried away. We’re going to go away and look at how we can play better,” he said after the match. “They frustrated us a little being behind the ball but we’re a fit team and we’ve trained and prepared for months and month for this competition. I’m just really proud of the boys.

“We just need to stay disciplined and reward ourselves with wins. That was the first mission, to win tonight, and the next is to prepare and get ready for a difficult game against Oman.”

Cahill reckoned the Socceroos “could have won that game 8-3” – but also suggested they’ve played better games in the past 12 months, despite hardly having won a match under Postecoglou.

“Listen, I think we’ve played way better than that and haven’t been rewarded, to be honest,” he said. “We’ve played so many games and lost but our football has been amazing. I wouldn’t say it’s our best [performance]. We’ve played better but conceded goals and lost but we knew the cherry at the end was to get ready for the Asian Cup.”

The 35-year old was full of praise for Massimo Luongo – who set Cahill up for the opening goal – and also for Mat Ryan, a pair he described as “exceptional”.

“Down 1-0, he [Luongo] was brave, he wanted the ball, he stood up on the big occasion with the way he was dribbling and holding off players,” Cahill said. “When he reversed it [the cross for Cahill’s goal], I was so happy, because I knew any good contact meant [the goalkeeper] had no chance.

“When you look at the saves “Maty” made at critical times, it’s a sign of the maturing of him as a goalkeeper and as a player. In these games there’s going to be long spells where there’s not much for him to do. But he pulled off two great saves from two goal-scoring opportunities.”

That equaliser rejuvenated belief in the team after Hussain Fadhel bagged the opener for the visitors. Cahill said he knew he had to do something to lift those around him.

“When the ball hit the back of the net, you could see the boys get confidence from that. We grew. It’s those occasions I thrive off,” he said. “I had to wait a long time to get one chance. I was holding back the two defenders, they thought they had me, but it only takes one second. I normally have three chances every game and I missed one which I was upset about but I got an important one that got us back into the game.”

Describing his own match as a “good little run [of] 60 minutes” after six weeks without a competitive match, Cahill was rested for the remaining 30 minutes by Postecoglou, giving Tomi Juric an extended run at the point of attack, with Nathan Burns also impressing off the bench.

“Tomi and “Burnsy” got a taste of it and now they’ve got to be ruthless and really take the opportunity,” Cahill said. “When you get a taste for it, you want more. It’s great because we want to bed the players in and the boss believes in youngsters. It’s not a bad time for me to be coming off.”

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Campbell Newman in the soup with Queensland election

Premier Campbell Newman is in the unenviable position of fighting for his own political life. Premier Campbell Newman is in the unenviable position of fighting for his own political life.
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Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said the election would be a “David and Goliath” battle. Photo: Tony Moore

Premier Campbell Newman is in the unenviable position of fighting for his own political life.

Premier Campbell Newman is in the unenviable position of fighting for his own political life.

When Premier Campbell Newman announced a January 31 election only Queenslanders were surprised.

Few probably knew Newman had up until June to call the election but they certainly did know he had a lot of gall interrupting the cricket and the rest of summer with his campaign.

It was another reason for him to be disliked. Newman won a landslide victory in 2012 but his popularity and that of his Liberal National Party government is badly spoiled.

Labor and some of the commentariat are hyping Queensland election as a one-term government and a litmus test for Tony Abbott.

But the reality is that the abrasive Newman is his own worst enemy. While polls put the major parties neck and neck, there is little doubt that the LNP will win. Most interest is centred around Newman doing a John Howard and losing his seat.

Newman put a positive spin on calling an early election.

He has taken flak for tough anti-bikie legislation, for his controversial appointment of poorly credentialled Chief Justice Tim Carmody and for sacking 14,000 public servants. Meanwhile, Queensland’s resources boom vanished, unemployment became the nation’s equal highest and Newman’s “Can do” style has turned him into a “Can’t” for many voters.

“Queenslanders don’t want and don’t need months of endless politicking and uncertainty as people jostle up to an election date,” Newman said on Tuesday.

“We can’t afford to lose one day because that’s bad for the economy and bad for jobs. We simply can’t have the sort of political chaos that we have seen in other states. This is going to be a tight election. Labor, through the support of wasted votes going to independents and minor parties, could fall across the line. Annastacia Palaszczuk could be the next premier of Queensland if people buy some of the nonsense that the Labor party are spouting.”

Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk and her team of eight MPs quickly recalibrated and got back to business as usual.

Australians care little about elections outside home states but Queensland’s rendition of politics continues to attract a kind of amused interest.

Perhaps it’s the bare-faced cheek. That was supposed to end when Queensland’s politics joined the mundanity down south at the end of the Bjelke-Petersen era. But it’s hard to keep a good man or woman down.

A Bjelke-Petersen has again entered the fray. John, son of Joh, is the leader of the Palmer United Party and is standing against Queensland’s deputy premier.

And Pauline Hanson has announced she will contest a seat near her old Ipswich stomping ground.

Both are counting on disenchantment with major parties and are campaigning against coal seam gas but they must hope Queenslanders have short memories.

John Bjelke-Petersen has long been a beneficiary of government largesse: In the early 1980s Joh Bjelke-Petersen bought a $1.45 million family cattle property, “Ten Mile” behind Rockhampton to set John up for life. Not content with partly paying for it with corruptly obtained funds, Joh then had Queensland taxpayers shell out $4 million for a bitumen road to the front gate. Another few million dammed the local river for John’s herd.

Hanson, a serial political failure who treats the Australian electoral system as her own personal piggy bank, wants to laugh all the way once more. Over the years she has pocketed some $200,000 a time from the public purse to cover the costs of several failed Senate campaigns. Her vote has declined in NSW and Queensland elections and she faces a Liberal National Party incumbent with a 15 per cent margin.

The LNP won 78 seats in 2012 after Anna Bligh and her state asset sales left Labor a smoking ruin, reduced to a desultory  seven seats. By-elections have since returned two seats.

Clearly influenced by Bill Shorten’s “zingers”, the plodding but credible Palaszczuk, daughter of a former Labor MP, said Newman had taken Queenslanders for granted and torn the state apart.

“This is going to be a very tough election … this is going to be a David and Goliath battle,” she said.

Meanwhile Newman is in the unenviable position of fighting for his own political life.

He was forced to stand for Ashgrove, a former Labor stronghold in Brisbane’s west until he took it from sitting member Kate Jones with a 5.7 per cent margin. Jones is running again.

“The trouble for Campbell,” says academic and historian Ross Fitzgerald, “is that Ashgrove is one of those leafy electorates full of civil servants, academics and Greenies – all the people he sacked or alienated.”

Nobody in the LNP will discuss what strategy is in place to replace Newman if he loses his seat. But power brokers are said to be considering making making another MP fall on a sword.

Fitzgerald, the author of a seminal Queensland history, said it one rumour had Liberal power broker and former senator Santo Santoro thowing his weight behind Lawrence Springborg.

“Lawrence led the conservatives to three defeats but he is safe, strong and respected,” Fitzgerald said.

“The old Nationals rump gave way to Campbell. If he fails, they have every right to demand their man gets the leadership.”

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Federal agency to prosecute ACT CFMEU for safety breaches

Six senior ACT union officials could be slugged with more than $1 million in fines for alleged breaches of safety laws on Canberra construction sites.
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But CFMEU ACT state secretary Dean Hall has labelled the allegations a “petty” stunt by those who “would rather put profits before safety”.

Fair Work Building and Construction last month filed papers in the Federal Circuit Court alleging 32 breaches of the Fair Work Act by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Electrical Union and its officials between August 2013 and March 2014.

The officials involved include Mr Hall, assistant secretary Jason O’Mara, former Canberra Raider and now union organiser Johnny Lomax, and organiser Zachary Smith .

Documents reveal the FWBC – the federal government agency that enforces industrial relations laws in Australia’s building and construction industry – will allege 18 breaches by the union organisers and a further 18 breaches by the ACT branch.

The offences carry maximum penalties of $10,200 per breach for an individual, and $51,000 per breach for a union.

The alleged contraventions happened across three construction sites in Franklin, Harrison, and Wright – all large-scale apartment and townhouse developments – over a seven-month period.

They include claims the defendants failed to produce an entry permit for inspection when requested, did not follow occupational health and safety requirements of the construction sites, obstructed employees from doing their job, and misrepresented authorisation to be on site unaccompanied.

It also alleged the ACT branch, by the actions of its officials, contravened the Fair Work Act.

On one occasion, Mr Hall is alleged to have disrupted a concrete pour and threatened to stop another.

Mr Hall reportedly said to Mr Lomax: “Watch what happens when I stop their pour. There’s going to be a punch on here.”

Mr Lomax then allegedly told a subcontractor that the developers of the site had a “bad attitude and it needs to be fixed. They’ll get plenty of trouble when they start that Harrison site across the road as well.”

Another time, when told to obey site rules of being chaperoned by staff, Mr Smith allegedly yelled and pointed a finger in the site manager’s face, saying: “I’m here as a WH&S officer! You can’t f—-ing tell me what to do.”

When the manager then threatened to end the visit if Mr Smith did not rejoin the escorted group, the union official allegedly called the man a “f—— idiot”.

FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss said the alleged offences showed an increasing trend of disregarding right of entry laws.

“Right of entry laws exist to minimise disruption to construction sites while affording union officials the right to do their jobs,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Reports that union officials continue to break right of entry laws and show no respect for occupational health and safety laws once on site are alarming.

“Safety is paramount on construction sites and it is frightening that some union officials appear to have no regard for safety rules designed to protect them and others.”

Mr Hall said the defendants would fight the allegations.

He accused the Commonwealth agency of provoking builders to be adversarial against unions, rather than working together to fix workplace issues and secure worker safety.

“The FWBC, for political reasons, is helping companies put profit before safety,” Mr Hall said.

“It shows they either have no understanding of the safety, don’t care about safety, or they’re solely politically motivated.

“If we can see clear breaches of safety we have a moral obligation to go and warn the person.”

Mr Hall said a defence would be filed in the coming weeks.

The court battle comes after the ACT Government spent millions to improve workplace safety across the territory.

The government was forced to take action because the ACT recorded one of the worst serious injury rates in Australia, with four men killed in workplace accidents in 2011 and 2012.

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Pat Cummins set to land World Cup berth

He’s back: Sydney Thunder speedster Patrick Cummins is set to snare a World Cup spot. He’s back: Sydney Thunder speedster Patrick Cummins is set to snare a World Cup spot.
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He’s back: Sydney Thunder speedster Patrick Cummins is set to snare a World Cup spot.

He’s back: Sydney Thunder speedster Patrick Cummins is set to snare a World Cup spot.

World Cup selection far from simple

More than three years after a man-of-the-match Test debut for Australia, Pat Cummins is set to get the chance to shine on home soil in one-day cricket’s showpiece.

The 21-year-old is expected to on Sunday be named in Australia’s 15-man squad for the World Cup, as the co-hosts bank on their rich reserves in pace in a bid to win the tournament a fifth time.

The Australian line-up will be unveiled at an event at Bondi Beach on Sunday. Its contents have been kept a closely guarded secret this week – despite other nations rolling out their squads – in an effort not to distract the players involved in the fourth Test against India at the SCG.

Plenty of the Australian contingent picks itself. Michael Clarke, the injured captain on the mend after hamstring surgery, will be there even if there are still very real doubts about whether he can be match fit to play a major role in the Australian campaign.

There are other automatic selections – the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson are guaranteed inclusion, and veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin is tipped to hold off a challenge from Victoria’s Matthew Wade.

The most significant debating points for selectors came with the shape of the bowling attack, with no shortage of candidates raising their hands. Johnson, sitting out the Sydney Test with hamstring soreness, was a no-brainer but Cummins’ anticipated nod is a significant moment for the Penrith product.

Like other bowlers of his generation he was plagued by injuries in the first few years of his career but has, after a two-year absence from the international scene, reappeared on the Australian radar this summer.

He featured in two of Australia’s one-day internationals against South Africa in November in a series that served as an important hit-out for the World Cup, and was used by stand-in captain George Bailey in key periods of the matches in Melbourne and Sydney.

Cummins has also been impressive for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, recapturing the express pace that had him marked as such an exciting talent when he burst onto the Test scene at the age of only 18.

Quarantined from first-class cricket so far this summer as the Cricket Australia hierarchy seek to ease him back into top-class cricket, Cummins’ stated goal this summer has been to win a World Cup spot.

He looks set to be granted that wish, and having until only two months ago not played for his country in Australia, get an extended chance to impress on home soil.

While selectors will place their faith primarily with fast bowlers to deliver a first World Cup title since 2007 left-armer Xavier Doherty is likely to be preferred as Australia’s specialist spinner, expected to fend off challenges from Ashton Agar and Australia’s Test spinner Nathan Lyon.

Australia will have the option of replacing Clarke before or during the tournament if he is not able to return from injury in time. He has already indicated he will not be ready for the team’s opening game against England at the MCG on February 14 but will be allowed to slot back in, probably against one of Australia’s less formidable opponents, without having to prove his fitness in a practice game.

Australia (likely squad): Michael Clarke (c), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty.

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Investment bankers anticipate better bonuses following bumper year for IPOs

In the past four years, many bankers faced poor or zero bonuses due to lacklustre deal activity.Investment bankers will have more spring in their step in 2015 amid expectations of moderately better bonuses on average in January and February, helped by selective hiring and healthier fee income at many firms.
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Several recruiters and investment banking bosses canvassed by Fairfax Media were confident of slightly higher average bonus payments in 2015 to boost employee retention and reflect improved deal activity last year.

US-based investment banking behemoth’s including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JPMorgan and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch are the first to report fourth-quarter earnings, beginning January 14. Most local employees of those firms will learn of their bonus in that week and payments typically flow several weeks after that.

Banker optimism around bonuses is underpinned by a record year in 2014 for local initial public offerings and a notable improvement in merger and acquisition activity.

“I think people will be relatively happy this year,” a senior banker said of bonus payments on the basis of anonymity. “Banks generally will look to keep their people happy particularly their junior people.”

Bonuses, while helped by improved activity, are highly individualised and are used to retain and reward top staff. In the past four years, many bankers faced poor or zero bonuses due to lacklustre deal activity, job cuts and heightened regulatory scrutiny on compensation.

Another local senior banker said bonuses this year across local firms would be a “mixed bag” as some had outperformed and were likely to secure a bigger share of their company’s total bonus pool for Asia.

“For the firms that have done ok, on average bonuses will be up 5 per cent to 10 per cent,” he said, declining to be named. “Total pay for some employees will be flat, while some will be up 20 per cent.”

He also noted that zero or “doughnut” bonuses were unlikely to be a feature of this year’s bonus season. While there will be more champagne flowing in coming weeks, it still remains a far cry from the flashy bonus days that preceded the global financial crisis.

Massive legal settlements by investment banks for cases of misconduct, while provisioned for, are also taken into account when compensation ratios are set by global boards and chieftains.

Unlike local dealmakers, institutional equities employees such as traders and sales people still face a tough bonus environment. Equity trading volumes in Australia remained soft in 2014, and activity is expected to be much the same this year.

But for those at US firms, the currency will be a boon. Those banks pay bonuses in the greenback, providing a boost given the currency’s relative gain against the Australian dollar. US firms such as Morgan Stanley are also unwinding the deferred nature of cash bonus payments.

Deutsche Bank kicks off reporting season for the European banks in late January, followed by UBS and Credit Suisse in February.

Senior consultant at recruitment firm Anton Murray Consulting Jason Hutchins was upbeat on bonus season saying there will be a notable increase in payments for many employees compared to last year.

“You should have happier bankers this time,” he said. “If banks can give employees something that resembles a decent bonus that will keep them there.”

Mr Hutchins said retention was top of mind as many firms were looking to expand their junior and mid-level ranks, in areas such as infrastructure advisory ahead of a wave of state and federal government privatisations.

Managing partner at recruitment company Platinum Pacific Partners Victoria Biggs expects a slight average increase for local bonus payments.

“While it is true that revenues were well up in the calendar year 2014 compared to 2013 and team sizes remain tight, most seem of the view that in a still cautious climate, bonus numbers are not likely to deviate hugely from those of last year.”

Compensation for bankers, traders, and sales and research staff is assessed on divisional, geographic and individual performance by bosses who aim to preserve the bonus pool to reward top performers. Home-grown financial services firm and investment bank Macquarie Group rules off its financial year on March 31, so its bonus period comes several months after that. Macquarie’s compensation is always closely watched by analysts and investors.

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Surge of interest in Merewether beachfront

Merewether: the hottest place to be Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Friends sunbathing at the ocean baths.From left, Georgina Taylor of Warners Bay, Georgina Shafren of Lambton Georgia Taylor of Georgetown, Laura Waters of Mildura, and Georgina Thomas of Thornton. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. People on the Bathers Way walkway outside the Merewether Surf Life Saving Club. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. People on the Bathers Way footpath between Surfhouse and the Surf Life Saving Club. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. People on the Bathers Way footpath between Surfhouse and the Surf Life Saving Club. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. People on the Bathers Way footpath between Surfhouse and the Surf Life Saving Club. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. People on the bleachers outside Surfhouse. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. A sunbather at the ocean baths. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Families in the wading pool at the ocean baths. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works.

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works.

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works.

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Merewether is bustling since the completion of Coastal revitalisation works. A bather climbing out of the deep end of the wading pool at the ocean baths. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

TweetFacebookTHE old girl has a new coat, and it’s not just the Merewether locals who are loving it.

With its refurbished ocean baths, its new-look beachfront promenades and the iconic Beach Hotel and Surf House more popular than ever, Merewether is enjoying a suburban renaissance – a reborn star that is attracting attention from way beyond its increasingly gentrified streets.

Surf House recorded its biggest ever week of trade last week, the neighbouring ocean baths are filled with swimmers, the footpaths throng with walkers and the car parks are filled from morning until night.

The city’s civic leaders say more is to come, but also predict the success of Merewether’s transformation is about to be replicated at the city’s other beaches.

Newcastle council is sifting through the mountain of interest it has received from the private sector in the development and use of the pavilions at Newcastle and Merewether beaches.

Additionally, the ‘‘Bather’s Way’’ coastal walk between Merewether and Nobbys will likely be completed in two years, about five years ahead of the original plan.

On top of that, the anticipated Anzac Memorial Walk at The Hill will be completed in March, adding a spectacular link to what is already becoming one of Australia’s most amazing coastal walks.

None of it was a mistake. While the likes of developer Keith Stronach are reluctant to use the words ‘‘I told you so’’, Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes isn’t.

‘‘What we’re seeing at Merewether is the result of a lot of hard work over a long period of time,’’ she said.

‘‘This is the first summer that everything [Surf House, the baths, the ocean promenade] have all been opened so I’m not surprised to see all the people there.’’

Mr Stronach is the majority owner of the Surf House building, with the remainder owned by more than a dozen Merewether families who saw the potential in their backyard. It took the best part of two decades to get the place built. These days, it’s not uncommon to see those who objected to it drinking, dining and relaxing there.

‘‘It was a big leap of faith for us, and a lot of Newcastle people didn’t really understand it,’’ Mr Stronach said. ‘‘It was always going to be a success. It’s a beautiful spot and the council should take all the credit for what it has done with the baths and the promenades.

‘‘It’s not just a place for the locals. It’s for everyone, and I think a lot of people are like me – when they have visitors or family from overseas or up from Sydney, they take them to Merewether and show the place off.’’

The council’s general manager Ken Gouldthorp said Merewether reflected what the council was doing right along the city’s coastline.

‘‘Sometimes we get complaints from people who say we spend too much money in the beach suburbs,’’ he said. ‘‘But Merewether and this coastal strip is for the whole community – an area where everyone benefits.

‘‘The reality is it’s an essential part of public life now – people want the beaches but they also want the coffee and the restaurants and a diversity that provides venues all year round.’’

The council has picked up the tab for most of the $28million coastal project, with various stages now completed, under construction or in the final planning stages.

Last year, the council called for expressions of interest in the ocean bath pavilions at Newcastle and Merewether. The Newcastle pavilion is heritage listed and won’t be altered but the Merewether pavilion is likely to be levelled.

Mr Gouldthorp said interest had been huge. Details of the proposals are still under wraps because of the formal tender process, but the Newcastle Herald understands most proposals include the likes of gymnasiums and boutique accommodation on top of the usual fare of kiosks and cafes. Some propose a much grander plan for Merewether with an underground car park beneath Jefferson Park in the mix.

Mr Gouldthorp said the council was yet to shortlist any of the proposals but will have a report prepared for the February meeting of councillors.

‘‘In a couple of years, when all this is finished, it will be amazing,’’ Cr Nelmes said.

‘‘I think we’ll all sit back and realise how fantastic this city really is.’’

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Summer Herald photo competition 2015: Gail Horsfall

Meet the photo comp entrants: Gail Horsfall GAIL HORSFALL: Eyes Wide Open.
Shanghai night field

BRAD FULLER: Keep on Running.

MAY FUSSELL: Beach Bums.

IAN TRESIDDER: Boxing Day On The Lake.

DON KIRWAN: Lorikeet Feeding.


DANIELLE RYNER: Just One Little Bite.


DAVID DIEHM: Electric Green.

GARTH KAVANAGH: Look Into My Eyes!!



GAIL HORSFALL: Just Hanging Around.

JESSICA LESLIE: My Son and His Dad Chasing Seagulls.

MELISSA THIRKETTLE: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

JESSICA FAY CARR: Father & Son, Hand in Hand.

JAMES MILLER: Blacksmiths Beach Description: Large waves rolling into Blacksmiths Beach.

ERIN LOWE: Cooling off with Daddy.

TI-ANA MESTON: Late afternoon cool down splash.




TERESSA MCCALLUM: Brothers and sisters – Sunset Beach Soccer.

JEFF CONDON: Summer Afternoon On The Harbour.

JEFF CONDON: Summer Sunset Over Shugarloaf.




LORYN REYNOLDS: Catching A Wave My Way.

JAMES JENKINS: Light Up This World.



ELENA KONSTANTINIDOU: You And Me Together For Ever.

NICK HINES: The Spider And The Frog.





RICHARD HOGAN: End of the Day.

GEORGIA PETTIT: Getting Out There.

MEAGAN MURLAND: Sam And The Dolphin.

SHARN CHOUFFOT: Before the Storm.

MARIANNE TURNER: Nobby’s Through The Pavilion.

MARIANNE HARVEY: Tawny Frogmouth Enduring The Heat Wave.

GEOFF KIDD: Hide and Go Seek, Pelican Pete.

ANDREW KELLAWAY: Planet Redhead.

RACHEL HAMBLETON: Sunset at Susan’s Watching the tide stroll in at Susan Gilmore/Bar Beach.

GEOFF KIDD: Summer Fun.

KYLIE HARVEY: Sisters on a Rainy Summers Day.

JAYDEN O’BRIEN: A Lightning Bolt Hitting Close To Me.

CHRIS GILMORE: Backyard Cool Off.

ROBERT WISENER: Late Night Web Construction.

KYLIE HARVEY: Contemplation.

LAURA CALVER: My Happy 11-year-old Labrador Lacey.

LAURA CALVER: Two young friends making the ‘infinity’ symbol.

LAURA CALVER: Carrington Sunset.

GAIL HORSFALL: Sunshine Butterfly.

PATRICK KENNY: Into The Wide Blue Yonder.

CHARLIE GORDON: Storms Over The Vines.

ELIZABETH SMITH: Merewether Baths: Cooling Off.

ELIZABETH SMITH: Merewether Baths: Overflow Falls.

SAMANTHA CHAPMAN: Australian Brumby Horses Enjoying The Summer Grass.

SAMANTHA CHAPMAN: Pug The Working Dog Keeping Watch.

SAMANTHA CHAPMAN: Chickens Hanging Around The House On A Hot Summers Day.





GARTH KAVANAGH: Not A Cloud In The Sky.


KELLY MCHATTON: Crescent Head Caravan Park – Xmas Holiday.

JESSICA LESLIE: My Son and His Dad Chasing Seagulls.

JESSICA LESLIE: A Kale Popsicle.

LUKE PRIESTLEY: It Isn’t An Aussie Summer Without Storms.

KRISTY CANN: Post Swim Chats.

NICK CARROLL: View Through The Curtain.

SHAREE ELLWOOD: Water Fun Water Slide at Buzz World Forster.

IAN NORD: Keen for A Fish Taken.

LYNDALL ARCHER: Goodbye Newcastle.

MELINDA TRACEY: Summer Siblings.

BETH WRIGHT: Crash and Spray.

NICHOLAS FEROS: Merewether Board Girl.



JULIE COUGHLIN: An Armful of Love.

JAKI SHIPP: Thongs at Redhead Date.

ANGELA RIDING: Cousins Fishing.

SHANE BLUE: Last Session For The Day.

JADE CONNER: Newcastle Ocean Baths.

DARREN LEWIS: I’ll Get It Right.


ALYSHA SMITH: Colours Of The Hunter.

SHARON LEATHAM: Angry Seas at Nobbys.

JODIE WILLIAMS: Beach Buddies.

KYM RYAN: Invasion Of The Blue.


BRETT CARROLL: A Dog, A Kid and A Hose.

DAVID LYNCH: Where The Sun Don’t Shine.

MELINA ROBERTS: Newcastle Beach Boxing Day Fun.

JORDAN PARKES: Birds On The Rise.


LEANA BROWN: Fun Hot Summer Nights.

PATRICK KENNY: Stormbirds.




KIRSTEN BRIDGE: 40 Degree Fun.

Waiting for a Summer Holiday Feast at Scratchleys.

MELISSA WAJCZYK: Watching Dad Fish.

GRANT ELDRIDGE: Lifeguards Value Your Life And That Of Your Whole Family.


ANNA RUSSELL: Backyard Fun.

ALICE WRIGHT: Flynn At Merewether Baths.

JACQUI HOLM: Reflections Birubi Beach Anna Bay.

KATHY COLYER: Sunrise At The Savannah Way.

LOUISE PARSONS: Mother and Sons Enjoying ‘Aussie snow’.

PAUL WALKER: Summer Idyll.

CHRIS LEISHMAN: Time for Peace.

MICHAEL KANNER: The Rains Are Here.

LINDA RICKARD: A Moment at Dawn.

PAMELA FRITH: Lull Before The Storm.

PAMELA FRITH: Morning Has Broken.

SHERYL DAVIS: Footsteps In The Sand.



ANDREW WHITBREAD-BROWN: A Bear On The Concrete Lounge.

DANIELLE KNIPE: Anticipation.

SCOTT T GILBERT: Sunset Skiing.

PAUL MORGAN: Halcombe Sunrise.


JOHN WARD: Discovering The WA Coast.

KIM JONES: Summer Surfer.

SABRINA KLIOUSIS: Holidaying at South West Rocks.


KAYSHA SCOTT: Beach Grommets.

JULIE WHARTON: Riding the Tide.

TweetFacebookShe鈥檚 one of the entrants in the Newcastle Herald Summer Photo Competition.

To enter, all you have to do is capture a 鈥渟ummer moment鈥?and send it in.

The best photo will win a Canon 1200D with two lenses valued at a total of $899.

Second prize is a Sony Alpha 5000 DSLR, valued at $699.

There will be a readers鈥?choice section, with online voting at theherald上海龙凤 and the winner will receive a Panasonic TZ40 ultra zoom compact, valued at $499.

IT鈥橲 time for our annual search for the Hunter鈥檚 best backyard photographer 鈥?the Newcastle Herald Summer Photo Competition 2015.

Share with us your best picture and you could win one of three digital camera packages from Domayne, Kotara.

All you have to do is capture a 鈥渟ummer moment鈥?and send it in.

You can shoot with anything from an iPhone to a Box Brownie.

The best photo will win a Canon 1200D with two lenses (one Canon, one Tamron), valued at a total of $899.

Second prize is a Sony Alpha 5000 DSLR, valued at $699.

There will also be a readers鈥?choice section, with online voting at theherald上海龙凤

The winner will receive a Panasonic TZ40 ultra zoom compact, valued at $499.

Last year’s winning entry in the Summer Herald photo competition by Wendy Manwarring.

EMAIL a maximum of three photos as jpeg attachments to [email protected]上海龙凤 Entries must include your name, address, phone number, photo title, brief description of the photo and date it was taken. Photos must be a minimum of 150kb and a maximumof 1mb. The competition closes January 23, 2015.

The best photo will win a Canon 1200D with two lenses (one Canon, one Tamron), valued at a total of $899.

PLUS 500 free 6×4 prints from Domayne Kotara and display the winner in store for 2 months.

Sony Alpha 5000 DSLR, valued at $699.

PLUS 300 free 6×4 prints from Domayne Kotara and display the winner instore for 2 months.

Panasonic TZ40 ultra zoom compact, valued at $499.

PLUS 200 free 6×4 prints from Domayne Kotara and display the winnerin store for 2 months.

All three winners will get to keep the print that was displayed in the store.

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Renewable investment dives in Australia, bucking global trend

Investments in renewable energy rose to record levels globally in 2014 but fell sharply in Australia because of uncertainty triggered by the Abbott government’s review of the industry, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.
Shanghai night field

Worldwide investment in wind farms, solar photovoltaics and other clean energy sources jumped 16 per cent last year to $US310 billion ($383 billion), or more than five times the tally of a decade earlier. Solar investments accounted for almost half the total.

China led the way, with investment soaring almost one-third to $US89.5 billion, while US investment gained 8 per cent to $US51.8 billion, and Brazil’s almost doubled to $US7.9 billion.

Australia, though, went the other way, with investment sinking 35 per cent to $US3.7 billion. BNEF said the amount was the “lowest since 2009, as wind and solar project developers delayed decisions while they awaited the government’s response to its Renewable Energy Target review”.

The Australian tally in fact masks a much steeper dive for large-scale renewable plants as small-scale solar PV largely held its own in 2014 even as state-based support schemes were wound back further.

“Four wind farms are currently under construction, but these signed contracts before the last RET review,” said Darren Gladman, the acting policy director for the Clean Energy Council.

“No more projects in the country have imminent construction plans.

“Australia is not just at risk of falling behind the rest of the world on renewable energy, we have already slipped off the back of the wave. We have some of the best sun, wind and waves in the world, but this new research shows that we are squandering some of our huge natural advantages.”

Fairfax Media sought comment from Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who has sought to cut the country’s renewable energy target from the current goal of 41 terawatt-hours annually by 2020 to as low as 27tWh.

So far, the Senate has blocked such a move but uncertainty over whether and when the goal will be reset has made it almost impossible to raise financing for new projects.

“Labor has offered to reopen negotiations around the RET in the interest of returning the policy to the bipartisanship that saw jobs in the industry triple while Labor was in government,” said a spokeswoman for Mark Butler, the opposition spokesman for the environment.

“However, our negotiating principles remain the same – Labor will not support any proposal that decimates the industry, including reducing the RET by 40 per cent.”

Australian investors, meanwhile, are pursuing investments in the industry offshore, with Macquarie Capital this week taking a $1 billion stake in an offshore German wind farm run by Energie Baden-Württemberg, and signalling plans for more such outlays.

Miles George, the managing director of Infigen Energy, said Australia had a chronic oversupply of ageing and inefficient coal-fired generators that continued “to freely pollute our environment”.

“The government initially determined to stick with a hard-line drastic cut in the [RET], but has more recently indicated it is prepared to negotiate a bipartisan deal without conditions,” Mr George said. “So the conditions seem to be right for a bipartisan agreement to be reached.”

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