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Iron ore plunge a sticky situation for Australia

Speculative traders are betting aggressively that iron ore prices will continue to drop, placing the Australian government in a sticky situation ahead of its May budget.
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The price of Australia’s largest export has dropped sharply in recent days, falling 3.5 per cent on Tuesday to $US66.25 a tonne and 30 per cent down from its mid-February high.

“The iron ore market definitely isn’t as tight as it was a month ago,” says Daniel Morgan, commodity analyst at UBS. “Speculators are looking at the composition of the market and are taking an aggressive view that iron ore is going to drop.”

Stockpiles of 62 per cent ore have emerged at Chinese ports as steel mills switch back to low-grade, cheaper stock.

At the same time, the wet season in Western Australia and Brazil is drawing to a close, signalling that the supply of further high grade material is coming back into the market.

Combined with a pollution crackdown in China and a roaring coking coal price, speculative traders are trying to get ahead of the market fundamentals and have sent the spot price of iron ore tumbling.

“The combination of all of those things has prompted the price to go into freefall,” says Mr Morgan. “But speculators can only take the price away from the fundamentals for so long, ultimately the supply-demand balance will dictate the price.”

The raw material for steelmaking entered a bear market this month as a wave of analysts, Australia’s government and even some miners said gains to 2014 highs were unsustainable.

While Australian and Brazilian mines are poised to push further high-grade supply into the market, low-grade content from the likes of India and West Africa are also placing downward pressure on spot prices.

“But the marginal cost of iron ore is about $US70-$US75 a tonne,” says Mr Morgan. “So if the price gets too far below that level, over the course of the next month, you should see the price tracking back towards that.” National accounts

Vigorous demand for high-grade iron ore has kept iron prices artificially elevated in recent months, setting the Australian government up for a healthy windfall ahead of its May budget.

However, three weeks out from the budget’s release and a plummeting iron ore price could skew outward looking forecasts.

Generally, Treasury will average the iron ore price out for the previous eight weeks and use that as a forecast.

“But the iron ore price certainly has been moving around a fair bit so it will be interesting to see what the price the government uses will be,” says Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JP Morgan.

“It’s likely they’ll have a healthier windfall from higher prices than this time last year, but the question is really whether that gets put towards paying down debt or spent in the economy.”

While a lift in commodity prices will give the government some further wiggle room, the potential loss of its AAA status is plaguing Treasury in the lead-up to the budget.

Standard & Poor’s has previously pointed to the government’s failure to enact its repeated promises to find new budget savings and increase revenue measure to reduce the deficit, as the catalyst for a potential downgrade.

Should Australia lose its AAA rating, there are concerns around what it might mean for funding costs.

“It’s hard to keep a AAA status for your financial sector when your government doesn’t have it,” says Mr Craig.

“So there might be some knock ons to the banking sector if they lose it, but materially, it would be better for the economy to spend any commodity windfall on infrastructure.”

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Stories from the Lake

THROUGH YOUNG EYES: Performers from Tantrum Youth Arts rehearse for Mapping the Lake.IT’S not surprising, given that the show’s name is Mapping the Lake, that audience members will be handed a map of the performance area when they arrive in the Booragul foreshore park that houses Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery.
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The school student cast members will guide the watchers as they move between the six places where the action takes place, with the story telling including song and dance, amazing and amusing action, and multi-media installations.

The venues will appropriately include an Aboriginal site known as “the meeting place”, a jetty, a flat piece of ground adjacent to moored boats, a garden, and a significant sculpture near the gallery, with a large ground map of Lake Macquarie that was put together by an art gallery team at the final place.

Mapping the Lake, which looks at the ways young people see the lake and the impact it has on their lives and thoughts, was developed by Tantrum Youth Arts in partnership with the art gallery, and support from Toronto High School, Valentine Public School and Ngarrama Productions. Eighty young people were involved in putting it together, with guidance from emerging and professional artists, including a technical team from Hunter TAFE theatre production students. The show features 45 young performers.

Tantrum’s artistic director, Lucy Shepherd, came up with the concept of Mapping the Lake two years ago. Shepherd, who works at Toronto High School, received enthusiastic support from Lake Macquarie Youth Advisory Council when she put the idea to its members.

The show has four young storytellers, who serve as the audience guides, with each delivering a short monologue arising from their experiences when they greet the watchers.

Meghan Mills, a storyteller first seen in a tree, reveals the lessons she learnt growing up near the lake. Asha Osborne talks about camping on the shore and trying to find mysterious creatures people have told her live in the lake. Taylor Reece, who is fond of fish and chips, explains how compelling it is to map out where all the fish and chips shops are around the lake. Summer Kelso looks at climate change and its impact on the lake today and in the future.

The background work done by young people included Valentine Public School students developing colourful self-portraits that are seen by the audience.

The professional involvement in the 90-minute show, will include lighting at each site by Lyndon Buckley and music composed by Hugh Jones.

Mapping the Lake can be seen nightly at 5.30pm and 7.30pm from April 28 toApril 30. Tickets: $25, conc/child/student $15. Bookings:stickytickets南京夜网南京桑拿.

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Popular Netflix series slammed for graphic suicide scene

One of Australia’s peak mental health organisations has issued a warning about graphic scenes in the new Netflix drama 13 Reasons Why.
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The television series, which revolves around the aftermath of a teenage girl’s suicide, was made available in Australia last month.

Youth mental health foundation headspace said it has received a growing number of calls and emails from parents and young people concerned about the program’s content.

The series revolves around a teenage boy who discovers a series of cassette tapes. They contain recordings made by a young woman who suicided and detailed the reasons why she self-harmed.

In the show’s final episode, viewers were confronted with the suicide itself. The scene was highly graphic and controversially depicted the method of suicide, which research suggests can be of potential risk to vulnerable people and those impacted by suicide; and has been associated with increased rates of suicide and suicide attempts.

The head of headspace’s online counselling service, Dr Steven Leicester, said his clinicians have been dealing with a constant stream of concerned individuals since the TV show made its Australian debut.

“There is a responsibility for broadcasters to know what they are showing and the impact that certain content can have on an audience – and a young audience in particular,” he said in a statement.

A manager for headspace’s school support service said exposing young viewers to distressing content could lead to “suicide contagion”.

Mindframe, a national initiative at the Hunter Institute of Mental of Health that educates media companies about suicide prevention, has also been fielding enquiries from concerned individuals, according to a spokeswoman. Mindframe’s media guidelines strongly urge against including explicit content, method and location details about suicide.

Hunter Institute director Jaelea Skehan has numeorus concerns with 13 Reasons Why’s “graphic, drawn out and hard to watch” final episode.

“While there is a warning on that final episode (and the one before that depicts the rape scene) – people may not turn off from watching the final two episodes because of a warning,” she said in a statement.

“The premise of the series sends an inaccurate message that there are clear and linear reasons why a person would contemplate or complete suicide. Often things are not so clear for people and often an individual (including a young person) can feel despair without an obvious reason. The show almost sets the tone ‘of course she would want to die with so many reasons’, but perhaps that does little to legitimise the feelings of others who were not bullied, not raped etc.

“The impact that suicide has on others is displayed, but almost as a sub-theme – e.g. the anguish of the parents, the impact on teachers (although this was displayed as minimal) and the fact that most kids were upset about the tapes more than Hannah’s death. Towards the end it hints that a second young person dies by suicide, but doesn’t draw out or explore the impact that exposure to suicide has as a risk factor to others??? including this show.

“For anyone who has lost someone to suicide, the guilt factor in the series is high. That is, had just one person did something different she would still be alive. In fact, it is one of the final messages. This is something that haunts people affected, so it would be quite concerning for them and their loved ones.

“13 Reasons Why does not encourage young people to involve and talk to adults or to seek help through counsellors or services. None of the young people in the show talk to an adult about what is going on – either when Hannah (or others) were experiencing issues and dealing with difficult things, and also not following her death. In fact they went to great lengths to keep information hidden from adults. When adults were displayed, they seemed too busy, uninterested or unable to help. The one time Hannah did seek help – in her words ‘one last chance at life’ the counsellor did not handle the situation well.

“The leaving of the tapes and the narrative that ‘people will be sorry for what they did’ plays into the idea that you can make people sorry or teach them a lesson through suicide. With Hannah’s voice echoing throughout the series, it is almost like she is watching this unfold. But she is dead and tapes or no tapes, Hannah will not get to see or witness people’s reactions to their mistakes.”

13 Reasons Why is rated MA 15+ in Australia. It is based off the New York Times bestselling young adult novel of the same name.

It is understood the show’s executive producers consulted with several mental health professionals during production. Meanwhile, the show’s more explicit episodes contain a content warning at the beginning of each episode.

When visiting the drama’s website, there is also a pop-up containing the contact details for the relevant crisis counselling services.

Reaction to the TV series has been mixed online. Some have praised the show for bringing a discussion about youth suicide into the mainstream, while others have slammed it for being “irresponsible”. “13 Reasons Why” might be the most irresponsible tv program in history.??? General Bonkerz (@GeneralBonkerz) April 18, 201713 Reasons Why is fine if youre watching from Clays pov but if you’ve dealt with suicide/depression and relate to Hannah it’s kinda terrible??? Thalia Cruz (@asdfghjkliaa) April 18, [email protected] is probably one of the most socially irresponsible shows on air right now. Completely infuriating.??? Katarina (@Katarina_MV) April 17, 2017Wow #13reasonwhy .. I’m just so thankful someone made a educational and realistic show to make an important point and spread awareness ??? em (@thisisemilymcd) April 18, 2017Finished #13reasonwhy-so surreal to see the truths behind teen suicide #ThirteenReasonsWhy#somanyemotions#bepresent#bekind??? Shelby Dawson (@Shelby__Dawson) April 18, 2017

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RBA flags ‘drastic action’ to curb ‘dangerously dumb’ house prices

Generic Reserve Bank of Australia Finance Money Rates Pic Sasha Woolley SPECIAL 0000 AFR 6 Oct 2008 Photo: Sasha WoolleyThe Reserve Bank has warned regulators could take drastic action to slow Sydney and Melbourne’s runaway housing markets.
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In the minutes of its April meeting, released Tuesday, the RBA said the Council of Financial Regulators regulators could clamp down on home loans and “consider further measures if needed” to maintain financial stability.

The council, which includes the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Treasury, and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), would keep a watching brief on the market as it responds to its previous warnings to keep investor loans and interest only loans in check.

“Developments need to be kept under review … depending on how the system responds to the [previous] measures,” the minutes stated.

The RBA also appeared to take aim at “particular features of the tax system,” including negative gearing, which the Turnbull government has all but ruled out tinkering with in the lead up to the May budget despite its influence on increasing loans to investors.

“Members observed that a number of factors make interest-only loans attractive in the Australian context,” the minutes stated.

“In particular, interest-only loans allow investors to take greatest advantage of particular features of the tax system.”

The RBA reiterated it was concerned by the level of housing credit, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne where house prices have risen by 18 per cent and 13 per cent over the past year respectively.

“Growth in housing credit to owner-occupiers had moderated slightly over the preceding six months, while growth in housing credit to investors had increased, although investor loan approvals had declined in February,” the minutes said.

On Tuesday, Deloitte Access Economics’ quarterly business outlook noted Australia had overtaken Denmark to become the world’s second-most indebted households in the wake of “dangerously dumb” house prices that were “threatening to blow”.

“The seeds of future slowdown are already well and truly sown. The better that NSW looks now, the greater the troubles that this state is storing up for the future,” the outlook warned.

“The joy of rising wealth eventually gives way to the pain of servicing gargantuan mortgages. Interest rates are beginning to rise around the world and although official interest rates in Australia may not follow suit until 2018, that augurs badly for the disposable incomes of Sydneysiders.”

Outside of housing, RBA board members noted conditions in the global economy had continued to improve over 2017.

“Survey measures of business conditions in both the manufacturing and services sectors were at high levels and growth in industrial production had increased further,” the board found.

On the domestic economy the RBA noted that conditions in the labour market had been somewhat weaker than had been expected.

“The unemployment rate had increased to 5.9 per cent in February and measures of underemployment – which capture workers who are willing and available to work more hours – had remained high,” the board found.

“Overall, the ongoing spare capacity in the labour market was contributing to low wage growth outcomes.”

The board concluded by noting that “developments in the labour and housing markets warranted careful monitoring over coming months”.

JP Morgan analyst Ben Jarman said this was an unusually specific remark following previous observations that current policy settings are “consistent with sustainable growth in the economy”.

“If an interest rate move is to be made in the near term, down is much more likely than up, so today’s shift in guidance can only feasibly be read as the RBA opening the door to a possible easing,” he said.

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Jack Stockwell growing in confidence after backing from Newcastle Knights in 2017

No-nonsense forward Jack Stockwell wants to just keep doing his job for the Newcastle Knights.
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HARD YARDS: Knight Jack Stockwell sporting the wounds from his clash with the Roosters last Friday night in Newcastle. Picture: Getty Images

And knowing he has the backing of his bosses has made all the difference in 2017

Stockwell was named on Tuesday on the Knights’ bench in a 21-man squad to take on North Queensland at Townsville on Saturday. Anthony Tupou was pickedto return on the extended bench to replace the injured Joe Wardle, who started in the second row last Friday night against the Roosters after Jamie Buhrer broke his foot at training.Sam Stone moves into the starting side against the Cowboys for Wardle.Josh King and Lachlan Fitzgibbon were added to the extended bench.

For 25-year-old Stockwell, selection continues a strongstart to 2017. He has featured in every match this season after playing only six games last year. So much out of favour was Stockwell in 2016 that Newcastle looked to off-load him halfway through his three-year contract.

However, losses in Newcastle’s forward stocks and a determined pre-season from the former Australian Schoolboy have helped turn around his fortunes.

“Obviously you can’t dwell too much on what happened last year,” Stockwell said.

“I just kind of had the mentality that I had to put it in the past and what happened, happened. If you think on it too much it’s just going to affect all your mentality and how you are physically as well.

“My goal in the pre-season was just don’t worry about it, and that’s what I’ve taken into this year so far, and I haven’t thought about it at all.

“I thought I haven’t started the year too badly, like I said, I want to keep building on that. But it’s good to have that boost in confidence and know I’ve got the trust of that coaching staff to do the job and that’s all I want to do. I just want to do my job.”

The Knights, beaten 24-6 by the Roosters last round,have just one win from seven games but meet a Cowboys side reeling from back-to-back defeats and the loss of Test stars Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott to injury.

”Obviously they haven’t had the best couple of weeks but I think we still need to be on guard,” Stockwell said.

“They are obviously a very good team. Not having JT and Matty Scott there is certainlya blow to them but I reckon they will bounce back this week and we’ve got to be prepared.”

North Queensland named winger Antonio Winterstein to return against Newcastle from an arm injury suffered in round two. The Cowboysalso announced John Asiata andMichael Morgan would swap positions in the halves. The Knights’ star signing for 2018, Kalyn Ponga, was named at fullback.

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