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The $300b industry without an ombudsman

Australia should establish a Retail Ombudsman to “freely, quickly and fairly” resolve disputes between “ordinary Australians” and retailers, the Consumer Action Law Centre says.

The centre provides legal advice and financial counselling for disadvantaged people.

Acting CEO Denise Boyd said an external dispute resolution scheme for disputes over goods and services bought instore or online in Australia would give people “certainty and justice in their consumer interactions and build trust in our retail markets.”

“Although consumers have legal protections in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) such as consumer guarantees to a refund, replacement or repair when there is a problem with a purchased good or service, if the trader refuses to assist to resolve the dispute it is very difficult for the consumer to obtain justice,” Ms Boyd said in the centre’s pre-budget submission to Treasury.

Australians spend about $300 billion a year with retailers. Retail is the country’s biggest private sector employer, accounting for about 10 per cent of the workforce, according to Bureau of Statistics figures.

Ms Boyd said polling indicated 60 per cent of Australian would use a retail ombudsman if available.

She also noted that more than 20,000 shoppers complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission about consumer guarantees in 2016, despite the ACCC being unable to take action on their behalf.

“There is a significant gap in ordinary Australians’ ability to seek justice in these cases because it is likely to involve complex, lengthy and quite possibly expensive legal action in courts or tribunals,” Ms Boyd said.

She said the scheme should be modelled on a scheme in the UK, where retailers choose to join, pay a fee depending on their size, and are able to apply to become vetted as a ‘trustworthy trader.’

The ombudsman would tackle disputes only after a person had tried to resolve it with the retailer directly. It would first try to reach an agreement between the parties; if an agreement couldn’t be reached, the ombudsman would make a binding ruling. Cut corporate tax rates and penalty rates, retail body says

But industry bodies, in their submissions to Treasury ahead of next month’s federal budget, make no mention of a retail ombudsman.

The Australian Retailers Association said the government should cut corporate tax rates, and “allow more flexible workplace laws and support penalty rate changes”.

“Investment levels are floundering despite low interest rates,” the ARA said. “Businesses need incentives and certainty to grow and employ more workers, which in turn, will support wage growth.”

Another industry body, the Retail Council, said while it recognised the need for budget repair, the Abbott government’s controversial first budget in 2014 “had a negative impact on consumer confidence.”

“From a retail perspective it is critical that the federal budget does not further crimp household incomes, especially for low income earners,” the council said.

“Low wages growth is a positive from an inflation perspective but is a potential drag on consumption spending and consumer confidence which are both key metrics for the retail sector.”

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Cat chasing dog disrupts serious conversation about North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump

Cat chasing a dog at Belmont trumps threat of World War III Kim Jong-un had to compete with a cat chasing a dog at Belmont on Sunday.

Icy: Kim Jong-un watches as Marge Simpson issues an ice-bucket challenge.

TweetFacebookA cat chasing a dog. This one wasn’t at Belmont.For a moment there, it felt like we were in a Simpsons cartoon.

While we’re on this subject, The Simpsons did feature Kim Jong-un in a special short YouTube video in 2015.

In the video, Marge Simpson challenges the North Korealeader to an ice bucket challenge.

Remember the ice bucketchallenge? That was quite afad. It was once described as “a middle-classwet T-shirt contestfor armchair clicktivists”.

The Party PosseA Topics readertold us he’d been getting ads popping up on his digital devices latelyfor the Australian Defence Force.

“I havebeen reading a bit about North Korea, Syria and Trump lately. Does this mean Big Brother thinks I’m ripe for recruitment,” the reader said.

This reminds us of TheSimpsons episodewhere Bart, Nelson, Milhouse and Ralph form a boy band called The Party Posse. Theyrecord songs containing subliminal messages about joining the Navy.

Lisa Simpson gets to the bottom of it, discovering that the chorus in one of their songs “Yvan eht Nioj” is “Join the Navy”written backwards.

I’m from Texas One of the makeshift houses at a shanty town called Texas at Carrington in 1949.

Back in the Great Depression, there was a place called Texas…at Carrington.

Reader Neil Pitt told us about it. Neil said Texas was in the suburb’s north, nearthe coal loaders.

Poverty-stricken peoplelived there inhumpies and shacks made of tin and wood.

The place had only a few taps. Locals would walk to the taps with buckets to get water to take back to their makeshift homes.

“People had to live somewhere –they couldn’t afford rent,” Neil said.

Herald history writer Mike Scanlon wrote an article about Texas 15 years ago.

Mike wrote that Texas was one of several camps in Newcastle in the 1930s Depression era, where unemployed people lived.

“One of the people who used to live atTexas was Frank Embleton, a film projectionist. He even shot a short film atTexas. A western, naturally,”Jim Smith told Mike.

“People used to run horses there. There were stables. That’s why it was called Texas.”

The “Carro”shanty town flourished from about 1930 until at least 1956.In 1932, 54 people, including 16 women, gave the areaas their address.

Other camps in Newcastle during the Depression were Hollywood at Jesmond (also known as Doggeyville), Platt’s Estate and Tramcar at Waratah, Diggers Camp in the West End, Nobbys Camp, the Stockton “Coral Trees”and the “Pig Sty”at Waratah saleyards.

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Maitland City Council supports Woodberry Swamp study

A comprehensive study focusing on the hydrologic issues atWoodberry Swamp has resulted inrecommendations for managing water movement and water quality across the wetland.

Maitland City Council representatives form part of a steering group for the Woodberry Swamp Hydrological Study.

The results of the study were revealed at a recent council meeting with councillors voting to continue to work with Hunter Local Land Services and the Department of Primary Industries in developing management plans for Woodberry Swamp.

Woodberry Swamp is a low-lying floodplain and wetland area located on the western side of the Hunter River Estuary between Maitland and Hexham. It includes areas of permanent open water, wetlands and pastures.

A council report said that while the study does not prescribe a particular course of action, it is a pathway forward for developing viable and effective management plans for Woodberry Swamp.

The study recommends regular connection of Greenways Creek with the Hunter River to promote flushing which willprovide benefits to water quality. It also recommends clearing of some vegetation to improve day to day drainage of the floodplain.

“The issues of Woodberry Swamp cannot be resolved by council as the approvals and funding to clean channels must come from State government departments,” a report to the council meeting said.

Involved agencies and organisations are now considering a range of options that could be implemented across the Woodberry Swamp floodplain, particularly actions that would improve environmental and land management outcomes.

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Anwar Ibrahim to challenge sodomy sentence ahead of Malaysia elections

Bangkok: Malaysia’s former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a new legal challenge to his five-year jail sentence on sodomy charges that are widely seen as politically-motivated.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Anwar’s conviction in Malaysia’s highest court in February 2015 barred him from running for office, in a crushing blow to the country’s opposition alliance that has since splintered.

The challenge comes after the country’s embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak urged supporters of his ruling coalition to take to social media ahead of elections he is likely to call this year.

“We have long been in defensive mode. Enough. It is now time to attack,” said Mr Najib, who has shrugged off his alleged involvement in a multibillion dollar corruption scandal.

According to global investigators Mr Najib received more than US$1 billion ($1.3 billion) in his personal bank accounts, much of which came from state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he set up in 2009 and oversaw through an advisory committee.

Mr Najib, a close ally of successive Australian governments, denies any wrongdoing.

Human rights groups and many countries, including Australia, described Mr Anwar’s conviction as deeply concerning.

His new legal action seeks a civil court ruling to invalidate the conviction and order his immediate release from jail where he is held in isolation. He says he suffers from chronic back pain.

Mr Anwar names the government as the sole defendant in the action, claiming his key accuser at the trial was an untruthful witness and gave false testimony.

The action also claims the government fabricated DNA samples to support the prosecution.

“Anwar is an innocent man. We will prove his innocence in court,” Mr Anwar’s lawyer, N.Surendran told reporters.

Mr Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Ismail, said the action was filed because “a day spent in jail is cruelty for an innocent man”.

Previous attempts by Mr Anwar to prove his innocence in criminal courts have been dismissed, including by the Federal Court in December. His request for a royal pardon was rejected.

In 2015 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Mr Anwar’s imprisonment violated prohibitions on torture, or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. The group called for Mr Anwar’s release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

Malaysia’s colonial-era law which criminalises consensual sexual acts between people of the same sex has been condemned by the UN and Western countries, including Australia.

Australian barrister Mark Trowell, QC, who was a legal observer at Mr Anwar’s trial, said the verdict was “unconvincing and lacked a detailed analysis of the facts”.

“In reaching these conclusions the court rejected or ignored evidence that raised serious doubts about the reliability of so-called independent evidence and the credibility of the complainant,” Mr Trowell said at the time.

While Mr Anwar has been in jail, Mr Najib has used a slew of draconian laws to crackdown on citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly, including harassment, intimidation, arrest and prosecution of Mr Anwar’s supporters.

The 1MDB corruption scandal has been described as one of the world’s biggest frauds, with investigators in at least five countries, including the US, looking into money laundering and tax haven schemes stretching from Malaysia to Seychelles, the US, Singapore and Australia.

Mr Najib, the British-educated son of a former Malaysian prime minister, has held a firm grip on power as the scandal unfolded. He has the support of powerbrokers in his long-ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, who have benefited from the party’s largesse.

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

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Twitter recasts movies without straight, white men

From #OscarsSoWhite to #BaftasSoWhite, it’s fairly well established that Hollywood still has something of a diversity problem. As a recent study that highlighted this exact problem put it, “The film industry still functions as a straight, white, boy’s club.”
Nanjing Night Net

On the study, Vulture reports, “In an analysis of the 11,000 speaking parts that appeared in 2014 studio films and live-action scripted TV shows from the 2014-15 season, only one-third were female, and only 28 per cent were nonwhite. When female characters did appear, they were more than three times as likely as men to be sexualised. LGBT representation was even worse, with that community making up only 2 per cent of all speaking parts. Of those, only seven characters were trans ??? a minuscule .06 per cent, one-fifth as much as real-world estimates.”

And that’s leaving alone the white people who have played black roles.

So what can be changed? Well, aside from Geena Davis’ simple and effective advice of first switching some character names to women’s names, and second, making a crowd scene half-female, perhaps the Hollywood bigwigs could listen to Twitter, which, thanks to journalist Brian J. White, has spent the past couple of days brainstorming ways to recast movies with no straight, white men.

White kicked off proceedings like so: This is fun. Guys, recast your favorite movies/shows with the following rules: no straight white men. Genderflipping is encouraged.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017Young Batman, played by Oscar Issac. Lupita Nyong’o is Robin. Daniel Wu is Lieutenant James Gordan. John Boyega is Assistant DA Harvey Dent.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017The Justice League, but everyone is Wonder Woman.

DC, call me.??? Brian J. White (@talkwordy) April 15, 2017Maverick: Felicity Jones Goose: Kate McKinnon Iceman: Zoe Saldana Viper: Cher Guy who says “rubber dogshit out of Hong Kong”: Ian McKellen https://t.co/yfh5ZoNPVS??? Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) April 16, 2017The A-Team: Hannibal Smith – Janelle Monae Murdock – Kristen Stewart BA Baracus – Rutina Wesley Face – Maggie Q https://t.co/hjQkm0X2uu??? Tristina Wright (@TristinaWright) April 16, 2017Grace Jones is the goblin queen and she has stolen Blue Ivy from her big bro Alfred Enoch https://t.co/s82fCoksQ1??? SarahTheRebel (@SarahTheRebel) April 16, 2017Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ferris = Rosario Dawson, Cameron = Winona Ryder, Rooney = Samuel L Jackson https://t.co/425TDhR8M8??? SmallRabbit (@smallrabbit) April 16, 2017Harry: Dev Patel Ron: John Boyega Hermione: Cherrelle Skeete Ginny: Lindsey Morgan Neville: Hayden Szeto Luna: Alisha Boe https://t.co/a3FWjAf99U??? Britt Rivera (@kindamoviesnob) April 16, 2017Usual Suspects. Viola Davis, Robin Wright, Uzo Aduba, Gina Torres, Kathy Bates.

Octavia Spencer is Keyser S??ze. OR IS SHE?! https://t.co/tRAFgBkca2??? Raychelle Burks (@DrRubidium) April 16, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Emotions high as Mitchell pushes for first encounter with Hawks

Star West Coast recruit Sam Mitchell is making a rapid recovery from an ankle injury in time for what looms as an emotional first outing against his old club Hawthorn in Melbourne on Sunday.
Nanjing Night Net

Mitchell and Eagles coach Adam Simpson are expected to make an early call on whether the highly-decorated former superstar Hawk will be fit to take on his four-time premiership teammates at the MCG.

West Coast is also likely to get Jack Darling back from an ankle injury.

The big forward missed last Thursday’s win over Sydney in Perth with strained tendons in his left ankle he suffered in the team’s round three loss to Richmond in Melbourne.

Simpson said in his weekly Channel Seven interview on Monday night his gun recruit was “touch and go” to play his first game against his old club since his shock trade last October just days after winning his fifth Hawks club champion award.

Simpson said the 10-day break between last Thursday, when Mitchell was kicked in the lower left leg by a swinging foot from teammate Jack Redden, and Sunday’s crucial clash could significantly aid Mitchell’s recovery.

The four-time Hawks premiership midfielder is understood to have undertaken extensive treatment over the Easter weekend, including hourly icing of his lower leg as well as hobbling around on crutches to reduce weight on his injury.

Mitchell reported substantial improvement to Simpson on Monday afternoon.

“He was in doubt over the weekend,” Simpson disclosed.

“But he’s pulled up really well. The 10-day break is really going to help him.

“I don’t think we’ll play any games… If he’s not right we’ll declare it as early as we can.

“But I do want to give him as much time as I can.”

Simpson admitted Sunday’s showdown with Mitchell’s accomplished teammates could prove substantially emotional for the 34-year-old.

“I don’t want to overplay it,” Simpson said.

“It will be a big moment for him.”

Simpson and his Eagles also confront an alarmingly poor win-loss record at football headquarters where premierships are decided.

West Coast has a 38 per cent winning ratio at the “G” after 30 wins and 48 losses.

Since Simpson took over in 2014, the Eagles have notched three wins from eight trips, including successive losses to the Hawks, both by 46 points, in the 2015 Grand Final and last year’s round two re-match.

“More importantly it’s a big moment… travelling to the MCG again and playing a team that is on the ropes,” Simpson said.

“We know how important the game is for both clubs.”

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

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