Mike Baird’s donations reforms already in trouble in the NSW Parliament

Premier Mike Baird will come under pressure of changes to election funding rules. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Premier Mike Baird will come under pressure of changes to election funding rules. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Premier Mike Baird will come under pressure of changes to election funding rules. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Premier Mike Baird will come under pressure of changes to election funding rules. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Election funding laws unveiled by Premier Mike Baird on Tuesday are already facing defeat or significant amendment in the NSW Parliament, amid strong criticism from minor parties who feel they put them at a disadvantage.

Mr Baird on Tuesdayannounced a range of measures the government wants in place for the March 2015 election in response to allegations of rorting of political donations laws by Liberal MPs before the 2011 poll.

Apart from harsher penalties for breaking donations laws, they introduce a new system for taxpayer funding of parties and independents.

The changes, similar to those in place at the federal level, allow parties and independents to claim back from taxpayers money they spend on election campaigns based on the number of votes they receive.

But the Greens and the Christian Democratic Party are alarmed at a provision which states if they do not get a candidate elected to the Legislative Assembly – the lower house – their entitlement is dramatically reduced.

Under the proposed system, parties with members elected to the lower house can claim back up to $4 per vote received and up to $3 per vote received in the upper house provided they have a member elected or attract more than 4 per cent of the vote.

But if a party fails to have a member elected to a lower house seat, the votes they receive do not attract any taxpayer funding, no matter how much money they have spend on a campaign.

As compensation, the amount they can potentially claim back for each vote in the upper house rises from $3 to $4.50.

But the Greens – who are likely but not guaranteed to win lower house seats – believe this will place the party at a major disadvantage, given the risk they could spend significant amounts of money and get substantially less back.

The Christian Democratic Party, which contests both lower house and upper house elections, is similarly concerned. It is unlikely to win a lower house seat and therefore would be eligible for far less taxpayer funding.

The ALP is worried about another aspect of the proposed new laws which removes direct public funding to candidates in favour of centralising payments to the political party.

Labor warns the  proposal to reimburse only parties for the spending by individual candidates means candidates could be forced to rely even more heavily on private donations if they are out of favour with head office, increasing corruption risk.

It will seek an amendment to guarantee candidates can claim up to $30,000 of their electoral spending back from taxpayers if they receive sufficient votes.

Easing the reliance of parties on private money to fund election campaigns was a key aim of the new laws, following evidence at the Independent Commission Against Corruption that hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations were solicited before the 2011 election.

Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile told Fairfax Media he had the support of the Shooters and Fishers Party to potentially block the legislation if his concerns are not met.

This means the government will be unable to pass the legislation in its current form if it is opposed by the Greens and Labor as anticipated.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Storms hit NSW, photos, pictures

Wild weather across the state: Your photos DUBBO: Katie Palm took this photo as the storm rolled in about lunchtime Tuesday.
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LITHGOW: It is cold in October in Lithgow as the snow falls. Photo: Laura Tinling

WOLLONGONG: Rain clouds move in over the Illawarra on Tuesday. Photo: KIRK GILMOUR

DUBBO: Hail in Eastridge, sent in by Jennifer White.

DUBBO: Krystle Springfield took this shot of the storm over Elong Elong.

DUBBO: Calm before the storm, Vicki Crooks.

FORSTER: Merryl Kemp took this photo of a storm approaching.

WELLINGTON: A wild storm hit a Wellington property late on Tuesday.

WELLINGTON: A wild storm hit a Wellington property late on Tuesday.

LITHGOW: Streets blanketed by snow.

LITHGOW: Lithgow has had one of the heaviest snowfalls since the 70’s, blanketing the district in falls up to 20cm.

LITHGOW: Lithgow has had one of the heaviest snowfalls since the 70’s, blanketing the district in falls up to 20cm.

NEWCASTLE: A seagull in front of heavy surf at Bar Beach. Photo by Darren Pateman.

NEWCASTLE: A NPWS remote camera still showing snow on Barrington Tops.

NAROOMA: The streets on the Narooma Flat area were flooded on Tuesday morning as captured by Dave Moran.

NAROOMA: Dave Moran snapped the tide line of discoloured water at Narooma?s Wagonga Inlet.

LITHGOW: Photo by Tania Callcott.

OBERON: Fallen trees in Oberon. Photo: Susan Taber.

YETHOLME: Two centimetres of snow and still falling! Photo: Joel Little.

O’CONNELL: The snow comes down. Photo: Karen O’Malley

LITHGOW: The corner of Main and Lithgow Streets. Photo: Greg Nelson

BATEMANS BAY: Joes Creek rises as the rain falls.

BERMAGUI: Bermagui Primary School and Dickson Oval under water on Tuesday morning. Photo: Rob Russell.

DALMENY: Flooding at Dalmeny. Photo: David Andrew.

NAROOMA: Resident Gabe Eichler from Narooma Flat, reported the water rising in Lynch Street about 8.30am. Photo: Gabe Eichler.

NOWRA: Photo by Kerrie Edwards shows Island Point Road near the Wool Road under water at 4.45pm Tuesday.

ULLADULLA: Floodwater flows across the Princes Highway in Ulladulla Tuesday. Picture: CHRIS CHANNELLS

BOWRAL: Douglas Eirth at Corbett Gardens in Bowral on Tuesday. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

WOLLONGONG: David Wisner watches as storm water spills into Wollongong Harbour on Tuesday. Picture: ADAM McLEAN

NAROOMA: Jake Collins from The Inlet, formerly Taylors, bails out the hire boats on Tuesday morning.

NAROOMA: Gabe Eichler who lives on Lynch Street at one point was considering evacuating to higher ground after the flood waters rose in her backyard on Tuesday morning.

BEGA: The Bega Bypass/Princes Hwy at the southern intersection with Newtown Rd Bega on Tuesday afternoon.

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Damaged by ICAC hearings, Chris Hartcher announces his retirement from Parliament

Chris Hartcher leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption after giving evidence on September 2. Photo: Daniel Munoz Chris Hartcher leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption after giving evidence on September 2. Photo: Daniel Munoz
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Chris Hartcher leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption after giving evidence on September 2. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Chris Hartcher leaves the Independent Commission Against Corruption after giving evidence on September 2. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Chris Hartcher, the former Liberal Party minister alleged to have masterminded a scheme to funnel illegal political donations to candidates before the last NSW election, has announced his retirement from Parliament.

In a statement on Wednesday morning Mr Hartcher said he would not recontest his seat of Terrigal at the March 2015 election.

“I have had the honour of representing the people of Terrigal since 2007,” he said. “Prior to that, I represented the electorate of Gosford from 1988.

“Over the past 26 years I have seen enormous changes to the Central Coast, now the third biggest region in the state.

“I hope I have made a positive contribution to the development of the [Central] Coast, and have always appreciated the support I have received from local residents.”

Mr Hartcher’s decision follows those of his fellow Central Coast MPs Chris Spence and Darren Webber to not recontest their seats of The Entrance and Wyong.

During hearings at the Independent Commission Against Corruption this year the trio was accused of using a company, Eightbyfive, to solicit and receive illegal political donations, including from property developers.

They deny the claims.

The Liberal Party is expected to open nominations to be the candidate for Terrigal shortly.

Mr Hartcher’s protege Aaron Henry was expected to succeed him but was damaged by his appearance in the ICAC witness box during which he described dirty tricks undertaken by Young Liberals.

Former federal MP Jim Lloyd has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Mr Hartcher’s announcement comes a day after Premier Mike Baird unveiled proposed new laws relating to political donations he hopes to have in place before next year’s election.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Opinion: Jarryd Hayne’s NFL move is worth the punt

ANNOUNCEMENT: Jarryd Hayne at press conference confirming his exit.Hayne quits NRL for NFL
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The move by Jarryd Hayne to walk out on a hefty NRL contract to head to the United States to pursue a career in the NFL is a considerable gamble.

But its one that could send his career earnings into the next stratosphere -both on and off-the-field.

The NFL has a growing audience in Australia, with surgingpopularity on ESPN and 7Mate, the latter afreshly inked lucurative multi-year deal.

HAYNE PLANE: Jarryd the showman.

Jarryd Hayne will not be the first Australian to enter the NFL ranks, but he is very different to those that have come before him.

Previous Aussies in the NFL have largely been Punters such asBen Graham, Saverio Rocca, Matt McBriar and Brad Wing.

A Punter is never assured of getting on the field and if so, he may only trotout for a couple of plays a game and they’re hidden from the limelight.

BIG NAME: Australian Jesse Williams.

They dont bring the spotlight or swag of other positions and they certainly aren’t the ones that fans scramble to get plastered over their jersey.

The “Monstar”, Jesse Williams is arguably the biggest name Australian in the sport, but although he’s been drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, two successive knee injuries has his future in some doubt and he’s yet to make the active roster, let alone play an NFL game.

Hayne is a showman that American fans will love, with a ready made catchphrase and post-touchdown celebration in the “Hayne Plane”.

In Hayne, the NFLhas a marketable face in Australia, and the time is now for the 26-year-old to cash-in, without any of the NRL strings attached.

The Eels fullback discussed hisfrustrationwith the sponsorship hurdles players have to overcomewhen speaking toFairfax Mediaearlier this year.

ORIGIN WIN: A career highlight.

Players remain the intellectual property of the NRL and the leagueearnsaround 12 per cent royalty on any sponsorship deals theymake, and prohibitsthem from linking with brands that compete with the NRL’s sponsors, something that irks Hayne.

“In the NFL, because they are in the market of competing with so many sports, they want their players to take up as much of the corporate sponsorship as possible. In league, the NRL try to take the most out of it then go to the players. Well it’s the players who are the ones who are attracting the corporates and the dollars. If the players had more ownership of their image, they’d have more responsibility.”

“They are limiting and restricting it because of what they want to get out of it. They haven’t found that balance, they haven’t got the blueprint of what the NFL do.The NRL are always putting stops on it or there are always people you have to go through and check with this person and that person. At the end of the day, the NRL should be letting the players soak up as much of the corporate sector as possible.”

BIG EARNER: Aron Rodgers earns $22,000,000 a season.

Hayne is walking away from significant earnings in the NRL, with the Eels openingnegotiations earlierthis year tolock the flyer away in a multi-million dollar deal, throwin earnings from State of Origin games and Test matches and its a fairly sizeable income to be walking away from.

But when you consider the average wage in the NFL is $1.9 million, it’s a gamble worth taking.

NFL franchises are allowed to have 53 players on their roster, with teams having two to three players in reserve in most positions.

Even if Hayne is part of the extended squad, without really having a prominent on-field role,his earnings will exceed that of his current NRL salary.

NEW WORLD: What awaits Jarryd Hayne.

Then, if he is a success, his earnings can skyrocket from there.

Green BayQuarterback Aaron Rodgers earns $22,000,000 a season, as part of a five-year $110m deal. Quarterbacks are traditionally the highest paid players, with the top ten earners in the league all playing in that position.

That’s not a suggestion Hayne will be earning quite so much, but it shows the possibility. The fact thePackers spend on average $35,200,000 a year on salaries, whilst NRL clubs have a salary cap of $5.5 million shows the world he is going to.

TEARY EXIT: What other Australian sports star will be next?

Jarryd Hayne’s move has ramifications across the game and across Australian sport.

If heblazes a trail, the next Israel Folau, Greg Inglis or Buddy Franklin may follow.

I wish Hayne well and I cant wait to see how he goes.

Adam Santarossa is a Multimedia Reporter for The Newcastle Herald.

Jarryd Hayne quits Rugby League for NFL

SAYING GOODBYE TO NRL: An emotional Jarryd Hayne at press conference announcing his code switch to NFL.Parramatta superstar Jarryd Hayne is set to take leave from the NRL after being given a conditional release by the Eels to try his hand at NFL.
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Hayne, who has withdrawn from Australia’s Four Nations squad announced on Tuesday, will tell a press conference at 11am that he has signed a “lifetime agreement” with the Eels so that if he returns to the NRL it will be with Parramatta.

However, Hayne said he could not let the opportunity to play in the NFL pass him by.

HAYNE PLANE GOES OS: Eels star at press conference. Picture: Getty Images

“For the past 24 months I’ve been thinking about having a crack in the NFL, and over the last 12 months I’ve been seriously considering it,” Hayne said in a letter to Eels members.

“Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to theUnited Statesto pursue an opportunity to play American Football.

I will be withdrawing from the KangaroosFour Nationsside immediately, and accepting a conditional release from the Eels to make the move overseas.”

“Today I can officially announce that I will be heading to the United States”. Picture Getty Images

The 27-year-old fullback, who had another year to run on his contract with the Eels, recently visited Seattle Seahawks.

He said the reason he did leave earlier was out of loyalty to coach Brad Arthur.

“The reason I didn’t make this decision any earlier was because of the part I played in getting Brad to the club and the way we finished the season. I felt I owed the Club one more year and I gave it everything I could,” he said.

ORIGIN WIN: Hayne as a NSW Blues.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.

“I’m excited about the potential opportunities that lie ahead. I’ve known the deadline has been looming for me to make this call, and I believe the right time is now.

“I’m so passionate about thechallengethat lies ahead for me, not only as an athlete but more so as a person. It’s the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.I’m leaving my teammates, friends, and most importantly my family; but for me to grow as an athlete and a person I feel this is the right step to take.

DALLY M WINNER: Jarryd Hayne shared the award this year with Johnathan Thurston.

“It hasn’t been an easy decision for me to leave the Eels, the club’s been my home and family since I was 13, and I’ve always been proud to pull on the Blue and Gold jersey with my teammates.

“The hardest thing about leaving the club is there’s stability for the first time in a long time, but I know where my heart lies and I’m following that.

“I’m always telling people to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, if I don’t live by that I’m not being honest with myself.

Hayne is flying off to America. Picture: Getty

“I’m leaving knowing that I have signed a ‘lifetime agreement’ with the Eels, so if I return to the NRL, it will be to Parramatta.”

Eels chairman Steve Sharp said the Eels were devastated to lose their “favourite son”, and that the door is always open.

NSW weather: Snow on Barrington Tops, Blue Mountains, Blackheath in Sydney storms

Snow, heavy surf greet early risers Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Phil Hearne
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Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Darren Pateman

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Darren Pateman

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Darren Pateman

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Darren Pateman

Scenes of the big swell that battered Newcastle’s coast on Wednesday. Picture Max Mason-Hubers

These were taken today at 12.30pm at Polblue. My husband Mark, and twins Jacob and Olivia. Pics by Emma Weeks.

Polblue. Pic by Emma Weeks.

Olivia and Jacob at Polblue. Pic by Emma Weeks.

Pic by Emma Weeks.

Barrington Tops: Snow was about 6 inches deep, and temperatures reached 2 degrees all day. Picture: Joshua Johnson

Barrington Tops: Snow was about 6 inches deep, and temperatures reached 2 degrees all day. Picture: Joshua Johnson

Barrington Tops: Snow was about 6 inches deep, and temperatures reached 2 degrees all day. Picture: Joshua Johnson

Blackheath gets twenty centimetres of snow. Picture: Nick Moir

Overnight snow causes traffic chaos near Mt Victoria. Picture: Nick Moir

Mt Victoria: From bushfires to snow. Picture: Nick Moir

Mt Victoria: From bushfires to snow. Picture: Nick Moir

Blackheath gets twenty centimetres of snow. Picture: Nick Moir

Snow in Lithgow: Picture: Laura Tingling

Snow in Lithgow: Picture: George Mihailovski

Snow at Lithgow: Picture: Leon

Overnight snow at Blackheath. Picture: Louise Rossiter

Overnight snow at Blackheath. Picture: Louise Rossiter

Overnight snow at Blackheath. Picture: Louise Rossiter

Overnight snow at Blackheath. Picture: Louise Rossiter

Overnight snow at Blackheath. Picture: Louise Rossiter

Snow at Hartley, NSW, about 800m above sea level. Picture: Kyle Johnson

Snow at Oberon: Picture: Wendy Anne Hawkes

TweetFacebookHUNTER residents woke to pounding surf and a blanket of snow at opposite ends of the region on Wednesday, after escaping a ferocious overnight storm that battered Sydney with cyclonic-strength winds and rain.

The southern reaches of the Hunter and the Central Coast received the most rain in the region with Norah Head (54.6mm), Gosford (45.6mm) and Cooranbong (29.2mm) getting the most rain since 9am on Tuesday.

Those figures are a far cry from the deluge in parts of Sydney, where the Bureau of Meteorology recorded more than 100mm in Sans Souci (120mm), Canterbury (120mm), Cronulla (118mm) and Marrickville Golf Club (121mm) over the same period.

Don White from Weatherwatch said the Hunter was spared when the east coast low moved upwards from the south as far as Norah Head, before curving east towards New Zealand.

‘‘They occur a few times a year, but usually in autumn or early winter, so the chances of us having another one any time soon is pretty remote,’’ he said.

Newcastle Herald Beachwatch reporter Roger Clements said the low transformed the city’s beaches into a ‘‘big washing machine’’, with southerly swell reaching four metres when the sun rose on Wednesday.

‘‘Nowhere in town was surfable,’’ he said.‘‘It was really rippy and very dangerous for swimming and surfing and was apparently even bigger during the night.

‘‘The big powerful swell also created a bit of beach erosion at Nobbys, South Newcastle and South Bar.’’

Further north, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Lower North Coast regional manager Robert Quirk said seven centimetres of snow fell across the Barrington Plateau. It mixed with rainfall on Wednesday and turned into slush, which created slippery and icy road conditions that were dangerous for driving.

The Barrington Tops Forest Road from Gloucester to Scone remained open to 4WD vehicles, but other 4WD trails within the park had been closed until further notice.

New SES Hunter Region controller Amanda Williamson said the Hunter had responded to 40 calls for help since Monday afternoon when the wild weather first hit, including 10 calls on Wednesday.

By MATT CARR and JACOB SAULWICK

BARRINGTON has been blanketed in snow after a night of wild weather in NSW that also draped a white blanket over parts of the Blue Mountains.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service confirmed on Wednesday that snow had settled on the Tops, with a dusting estimated at almost 7cm thick in some places.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Lower North Coast regional manager Robert Quirk said falls onthe Barrington plateau had caused some road closures.

“This is a relatively late snowfall the year and as usual we are expecting that it will melt very quickly,” Mr Quirk said.

“At this stage, the Barrington Tops Forest Road (Gloucester to Scone) remains open to 4WD vehicles only, however people are advised to only travel if essential.”

Mr Quirk said conditions would be monitored, as melting snow could create slippery and icy roads.

Barrington Trail (south), Barrington Trail (north), Bullock Brush Trail, Tugalow Trail, Thunderbolts Trail, Paddy’s Ridge Trail and Butchers Swamp Trail are all closed.

“These trails will be re-opened as soon as conditions improve,” Mr Quirk said.

Brad Lawman posted a picture on the Barrington Tops Snow Chasers page early on Wednesday showing light snow falling down as far as the Dingo Gates on the western side of the range.

Brad Lawman’s shot of snow at the dingo gate.

While the Barrington received a dusting of snow, Wednesday morning traffic and train commuters inthe Blue Mountains were brought to a standstill by what witnesses describe as about a foot of snow.

It comes almost precisely a year after the Blue Mountains area was devastated by spring bushfires.

Mark Spence, a truck driver who was on an overnight run to Orange, when he got caught up in the snow storm.

He was stuck on the Great Western Highway at Blackheath for almost 12 hours overnight.

“The road was closed at 9.30pm and I pulled up near to 10pm – we were not able to move until about 9am,” said Mr Spence.

“We just had to sit in the truck and wait and see, no one told us anything that was happening.”

The snow on the road was a foot deep, Mr Spence said, who has since moved to the road house at Mount Victoria to wait for a replacement driver.

“Because we didn’t know what was happening we had to sleep with one eye open. If someone came through and told us the road wasn’t going to reopen we could have gone to sleep,” he said.

“The communication up here was shocking.”

CSL launches yet another share buyback

Another boost for shareholder returns: CSL has announced the seventh buyback in eight years. Another boost for shareholder returns: CSL has announced the seventh buyback in eight years.
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Another boost for shareholder returns: CSL has announced the seventh buyback in eight years.

Another boost for shareholder returns: CSL has announced the seventh buyback in eight years.

CSL chief executive Paul Perreault (left) and chairman John Shine. Photo: Patrick Scala

CSL chief executive Paul Perreault (left) and chairman John Shine. Photo: Patrick Scala

CSL chief executive Paul Perreault (left) and chairman John Shine. Photo: Patrick Scala

CSL chief executive Paul Perreault (left) and chairman John Shine. Photo: Patrick Scala

Blood plasma product and vaccine maker CSL has confirmed it will launch another $950 million on-market share buyback – its eighth in nine years.

The latest round of capital management adds to the $4.2 billion that the biotechnology company has bought back from investors since 2005.

CSL is 95 per cent of the way through a $950 million buyback that it announced in October last year. Company chairman John Shine said the previous seven buybacks had boosted earnings per share by more than 19 per cent.

“Buybacks remain an effective way to manage our capital that delivers improved investment returns for shareholders,” Professor Shine told the company’s annual general meeting in Melbourne.

“Through these buybacks all our shareholders benefit from improved investment return ratios, including earnings per share and return on equity.”

The company had flagged in August that another buyback was under consideration.

The move comes less than two months after Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens warned that many companies were focused on sustaining dividends to investors and returning capital at the expense of investing in growth strategies.

But Pengana Capital fund manager and CSL investor Rhett Kessler said it would be a mistake to assume that returning capital to shareholders meant the company was “ex-growth”.

Mr Kessler pointed to CSL’s ongoing investment in research and development. In the 2014 financial year CSL spent $US466 million ($534 million) on R&D.

“They’re already investing in the company’s future in areas they know and have a track record in,” Mr Kessler said. “Some companies have got good business models so they don’t need capital to grow.”

The company intends to complete the latest buyback over the next year.

At Tuesday’s closing price of $72.50, a $950 million buyback represents about 13.1 million CSL shares, or about 3 per cent of issued capital.

The stock rose 1.4 per cent to $73.50 on Wednesday, taking total gains for the year to 12 per cent. The S&P/ASX200 has fallen 0.3 per cent in that time.

Professor Shine reiterated guidance provided in August that CSL’s net profit after tax would grow by about 12 per cent in constant currency terms.

“While the markets in which we operate remain highly competitive, our broad portfolio of products, ongoing product development and geographic reach continue to ensure our business remains well positioned,” he said.

CSL chief executive Paul Perreault said the group was working with the World Health Organisation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation about a potential role to collect antibodies from the blood of Ebola survivors in Africa.

CSL could play a role in the collection of blood and purification of antibodies to give to patients. Mr Perreault said developing a vaccine would be a more effective treatment, but this would take “well over a year or more”.

“Everybody is coping with just trying to contain the virus,” he said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

How Richard Flanagan has kept Man Booker’s Commonwealth heart beating

Richard Flanagan wins Man Booker PrizeReview: The Deep Road to the Narrow NorthWriting novel a labour of love for FlanaganJason Steger’s lunch with Richard FlanaganFlanagan’s book of desire, WantingWhat winning the Man Booker Prize could mean for FlanaganEverything you need to know about the Man Booker Prize
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By winning the Man Booker prize – worth £50,000 ($91,000) in cash but a whole more in the gigantic boost in sales that it brings – Richard Flanagan will have put to bed any lingering disappointment he might have felt at missing out on Australia’s most significant literary prize, the Miles Franklin.

With hindsight, it does seem astonishing that this man who writes with his heart on his sleeve has been shortlisted for the Miles on five occasions but never won. But as Peter Carey always says about literary prizes: “They’re a crapshoot.”

It is typical of Flanagan that he looked amazed when he heard his name read out by the chair of the judges, A.C. Grayling. Only yesterday he told me that he would be disappointed to lose but would not begrudge a win by any of the other shortlisted writers, with whom he has spent much time over the past few days in Britain fulfilling the duties expected of shortlisted authors, because they were all such a lovely bunch. That is typical of his generosity of spirit.

Mind you, it’s also typical of the man that he gave Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, a kiss and a big hug as he walked on stage at London’s Guildhall to receive his prize. But then he’s an old family friend – he had a prolonged audience with Camilla’s mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, when he won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Gould’s Book of Fish.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a very personal novel to Flanagan, bouncing as it does off his father’s experiences as a prisoner on the Burma Railway. It is the novel he has wanted write for years and that shows in the passion, humour, big heartedness and love that lie at the heart of a profound and deeply compassionate novel.

It is the sort of novel that will make you wince at some of the horrors within but also laugh at some of the joy that transcends that horror. It is at its heart a wonderful, deeply Australian novel about a seminal Australian experience written by a man who has literature – and particularly fiction – coursing through his veins.

To win the Booker in the first year that the prize was open to the Americans is a major achievement. And it perhaps reinforces what Carey, a two-time winner of the prize, lamented – that the move would diminish what he called “a real Commonwealth culture”. “It’s different. America doesn’t feel to be part of that.” Flanagan has preserved that feeling for at least one more year.

Years ago, Flanagan had two near-drowning experiences that shook him to his core. He realised that many things no longer appeared important. “After that, all I took seriously was writing because it seemed to me to be true to life, to what mattered about life. Family matters, friends matter, love matters. Those you love and who love you matter. That’s what writing does; it allows you to say all those things.”

By winning the Booker, Flanagan will be saying those things to thousands more readers for a long time to come. He deserved to win because The Narrow Road to the Deep North does what great fiction does – it takes you somewhere and changes how you see the world.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

The five questions travel writers always get asked

Being a travel writer isn’t all relaxing by the pool with a cocktail: Just some of it is. Photo: iStock Being a travel writer isn’t all relaxing by the pool with a cocktail: Just some of it is. Photo: iStock
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Being a travel writer isn’t all relaxing by the pool with a cocktail: Just some of it is. Photo: iStock

Being a travel writer isn’t all relaxing by the pool with a cocktail: Just some of it is. Photo: iStock

It’s not that I’m sick of being asked these questions. It’s completely understandable. There are certain things everyone wants to know about any profession. I always ask my engineer mates, “So, what do you actually build?” And my finance friends, “So, what do you actually do?”

Usually, when people meet travel writers, they ask these questions. And these are my answers.

What’s your favourite destination?

Argh! I don’t know! Berlin? Buenos Aires? Tokyo? San Sebastian? Somewhere in East Africa? Peru? Canada? This is such a hard question to answer. It’s like choosing your favourite child, assuming you had about 500 children who all spoke different languages and had unique talents. I wish there was just one place that I could definitively name, somewhere I knew would always be my favourite, somewhere so much better than everywhere else that I’d only ever need to travel there and know I’d be completely satisfied. But there isn’t. If there was such a place I’d probably be living in it.

The truth is that there are so many amazing destinations with so many different attractions. I love beaches, but I also love mountains. I want to go scuba-diving, but then I want to go snowboarding. I love being submerged in a huge city, but then I crave wide-open spaces. I want fine-dining – but then I want food from the streets. So the answer to this is that there is no good answer. Sorry.

Do you ever get sick of travelling?

Yes. Sometimes. I think you’d have to be some sort of jet-lag-proof, long-queue-loving, security-line-fancying, iron-stomached, backpack-lugging, indefatigable superhuman to never get sick of travelling. Usually I love it, but every so often, it sucks.

It sucks when you’re lying in some average hotel room far away from everyone you know while fighting your third case of gastro in a fortnight. It sucks when you miss a wedding or a birthday party or just something fun back home. It sucks when you want a home-cooked meal. It sucks when you’ve been ripped off for the thousandth time. And it sucks when you realise that you can never complain about any of this stuff when you’re back home because No. One. Cares.

Have you ever been somewhere that was so bad that you couldn’t write about it?

Never. I’ve found you have to work extremely hard to have a bad time while you’re overseas (though some people manage it). Most places are pretty amazing, and even if they’re not perfect, you can usually find something positive to take out of the experience.

I’ve been on plenty of trips where things have gone wrong, but those are the ones that make the best stories (case in point: Bangladesh). I may not make them into a nice feature for Traveller整形美容医院m.au, but there’s always somewhere you can use tales like these (case in point: this column).

What does your girlfriend think of you travelling all the time?

The answer to that would probably lie in the fact that I don’t have one right now. A life of constant travel is good for many things, but maintaining a steady relationship maybe isn’t one of them. I’ve actually been lucky to have a few very patient, supportive long-term partners during my time as a travel writer, but it still puts a massive strain on things.

“But you can just pretend I’m in the army!” I’ve said. “Soldiers have to go away all the time! Or what if I was a fly-in, fly-out miner?” Both fantastic points that don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, not least because those are serious professions that their practitioners probably don’t enjoy doing while they’re being forced to spend time away from their families. I, meanwhile, am basically being sent on free holidays. Completely understandably, the ones who are left at home don’t really dig that after a while.

So… You actually get paid to travel? How do I steal your job?

I don’t technically get paid to travel: I get paid to write stories about travel. The actual travel is something I have to take care of myself. Granted, there are often wonderful companies and organisations around the world who will help facilitate that travel, because it’s pretty much impossible to make a living out of this if you’re paying for everything yourself. So I might not get paid to travel, but I get some of my travel paid for. That’s nothing to complain about.

If you want my job, you’ll need a blend of luck, persistence, luck, skill, and luck. Did I mention luck? You need to be in the right place at the right time. You need to know a few of the right people. You need to realistically want to be travelling all of the time. Mostly, however, you need to just get writing. If you want to be a travel writer but you’ve never written any travel stories, you’re probably not really on your way. Start a blog; send your stories to friends. Their feedback – or lack thereof – will very quickly tell you if you’re onto something.

Email: [email protected]整形美容医院m.au

Instagram: instagram整形美容医院m/bengroundwater

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.

Six reasons why you need an SMSF

 
Wuxi Plastic Surgery

The popularity of self-managed super funds continues to grow unabated as more Australians look for greater control of their financial destinies through reduced fees, greater liquidity and the opportunity to invest in a wider variety of long term asset classes, including property.

According to research firm CoreData, as at June this year there were 528,700 SMSFs, representing almost 32 per cent of Australia’s total $1.6 trillion super pool. Ten years ago there were only 271,000 DIY funds. Aside from their ability to help fund an independent retirement, SMSFs are increasingly recognised as an effective means for small business owners to add extra funds to their super nest egg, as well as manage commercial properties more tax efficiently.

If you are a small business owner then you are likely to be highly adept at quickly responding to the changing business environment and conditions. Most business owners’ guiding priority is to make money, make their assets work for them and create a more certain financial future. SMSFs are a good way to meet these goals.

SMSFs have six key benefits for small business owners.

There are various issues you will need to understand before holding a commercial property in an SMSF. For instance, while every loan to a super fund is a limited recourse loan, loan-to-value ratios are lower for commercial properties than their residential equivalent. Another point to consider is that any increased capital growth cannot be accessed in super. However other benefits include zero tax in pension stage and the ability to access the land tax threshold available to super funds.

An SMSF can be a great way for small business owners to boost their super fund balance above the normal contribution limits and become tax free in retirement, although any SMSF strategy should be based on sound independent financial advice.

Ken Raiss is the managing director of Chan and Naylor Group of Companies

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does take into account your specific objectives, needs or financial situation, therefore should be seen or taken as financial advice for your personal situation. Please seek professional advice for your specific set of circumstances before acting or making financial decisions.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.