Shining a light: Former netball boss speaks out
Deposed Netball Australia director and former chair Anne-Marie Corboy has warned against underestimating the threat posed by the AFL Women’s league in the newly-competitive national environment, while staying cautiously optimistic that the power play orchestrated by the state associations will not derail netball’s recent progress.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the divisive internal politics that have forced the involuntary departures of Corboy and former Australian captain Kathryn Harby-Williams from the board, the experienced businesswoman said governance reforms being driven by the Australian Sports Commission remained of critical importance.
“It’s very disappointing that this has played out over the last week, but maybe it’s a shake-up that was needed and it has shone the light on some things that need to be addressed in the sport,” Corboy told Fairfax Media. “Netball has had this great year and this little glitch that’s become public won’t detract from that.”
Corboy is supporting Paolina Hunt’s bid for re-election as chair at Friday’s board meeting – the first since last week’s AGM expanded the directorial power base of the state bodies led by chief agitators Netball Queensland and Netball NSW. She also urged the member organisations to take a broader view.
“I think there’s still a lack of understanding about the competitive environment in which netball is now operating,” Corboy said. “In fact one of the member organisation CEOs said to me ‘Well, we’re not really worried about AFL at all’, and I think that’s a demonstration that the MOs continue to see the world from their own state’s position and at times find it difficult to see the big picture. And of course Netball Australia is dealing with the big picture.”
Corboy, who succeeded long-time chair Noeleen Dix last April, said the genesis of the unrest came through the stalling of ASC-mandated constitutional reforms in early 2016, with the state associations deferring moves to abolish the role of president – now held by WA’s Robert Shaw – and angered by the drawn-out negotiations for a Super Netball broadcast deal.
“That put pressure on the organisations to be prepared for this year, and I think that’s where a lot of the tensions arose,” Corboy said, admitting the states’ full list of “gripes” included the admission of football club-owned teams, and even the competition’s fixture. “And when some personality issues came into it, that mix just created an environment where the Netball Australia board wasn’t able to prosecute its agenda in the way that we wanted to, and for me to prosecute my agenda as chair, because we were operating in that very tense – and, in fact, litigious – environment. There was a lot of correspondence between lawyers that was started by the member organisations.”
The states having rebuffed attempts to mediate, while citing dissatisfaction with Corboy’s leadership style, the former MCG Trustee stood down as chair last month. In a coup the Australian Netball Players’ Association condemned as “an inexcusable lack of judgment that only serves to satisfy self-interest”, she was then removed from her board role at a special general meeting without explanation or any suggestion she had breached her director’s duties.
Calling for the implementation of a unitary administration model that would abolish the state associations and redirect financial and personnel resources to the athletes, and keen to correct apparent misconceptions about netball’s funding arrangements and strategic priorities, Corboy believes the next 12 months will be “critical” to the sport’s future.
“We’ll see who is elected as chair on Friday and I think that will also be an indicator,” said Corboy, who hopes new chief executive Marne Fechner will be given the necessary board support to build on revenue, audience and participation growth that has accompanied the start of Super Netball. “I think that what’s lost in all of this is that netball has had one our best years ever … in the most competitive sports environment ever.”
Final piece of jigsaw sells AUCTION: The Municipal building on the corner of Hunter and Market Streets will go under the hammer on Thursday. It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
AUCTION: The Municipal building on the corner of Hunter and Market Streets will go under the hammer on Thursday. It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
152 Hunter Street, left, is one of two buildings that will not be included in the redevelopment of Hunter Street mall by Iris Capital.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
This building on Greenway Street, Wickham has sold for $550,000. It houses Dark Horse Espresso.
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsA building in pole position to reap the benefits of the $500 million Hunter Street mall redevelopment will go under the hammer on Thursday.
The heritage-listed Municipal building,facing the site of the old Queens Wharf rail bridge, will be auctioned by Colliers International.
It is expected to sell for in the vicinity of $2.5 million.
The building at 164 Hunter Street originally formed part of the overall mall site owned by Urbangrowth and the GPT Group.
However during the master planning process, two buildings –the Municipal building and a neighbouring building at 152 Hunter Street –were deemedsurplus to needs. They were broken off and sold to a private buyer who is offloading the former.
Colliers International executive Michael Chapman said it was an opportunity for a buyer to capitalise onthe investment in the precinct.
“It is directly opposite the development owned by Iris Capital, which will see 600-700 units delivered over between three and five years,” he said.“Then there will be the high street retail on the ground floor.”
The building is zoned mixed-use andhas a 20 metre height limit.A week before the auction, Mr Chapman hadfielded 67 inquiries.
“We’ve had commercial investors, owner-occupiers, student accommodation operatorsand residential developers interested,” hesaid.
“Wehad someone looking at putting an additional floor on the building to create a penthouse while leasing the balance of the space.”
HALF A MILLION FOR DARK HORSEA building housing one of Wickham’s most popular coffee haunts has changed hands for $555,000.
The strata unit on Greenway Street is currently split into two tenancies, with the Dark Horse Espresso cafe in the front tenancy and the rear owner-occupied by a hairdressing salon.
Another hairdressing firm has purchased the building and plans to occupy the salon once the lease-back term of the current owners ends. The cafe will stay on in the front tenancy.
“This completes a run of four properties in a row we have sold in this Greenway Street complex,” said agent Jason Morris of Raine and Horne Commercial.
“We believe it’sbeen popular for its funky village-type feel and proximity to the CBD and the harbour.”
Greenway Street, Wickham
Wrong Location: Type in Sydney to Newcastle on Google Maps and you get this. Oh Google, what have you done?
You trawl through our search history to sell us things, pay stuff-all tax, manipulate search results and suck the blood out of writers andmusicians.
Now you’re sending people who want to get from Sydney to Newcastle to the wrong place.
Damn you Google! Your map to Newcastle is sending people to Lake Macquarie TweetFacebook Having a laugh at Google. +6MORE GALLERIES
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappReader Rod alerted us to this shocking error.
“Type in ‘Sydney to Newcastle’ in Google Maps and see what happens,” Rod said.
We followed his instructions. It wasn’t pretty.
Instead of directing us to Newcastle CBD, the map sent us to the back streets of Hillsborough in Lake Macquarie, of all places.
Google, how could you do this? We thought your maps were on the money.
“I have complained to Google many times and they haven’t fixed anything yet,” Rod said.
We admit that Google’s search engine is pretty good.
But come on. Surely they can sort this out. We can’t explain why they won’t fix this.
After all, their motto is supposed to be “Don’t be evil”.
The only explanation we have isthey’re too busy trying to invent immortality. We’re not joking. They really do want that.
History of Wallsend
The opening of West Wallsend colliery in 1888, with the iconic poppet head.
We love cool names. How’s this one: Cath Chegwidden.
Cath is writing and researching a book about the history of Wallsend.
Cath, like a lot of writers, doesn’t mind a metaphor.
“This task has become like the coal mines on which the community is founded,” she said.
“Every now and then, I’m uncovering a treasure.”
Wouldn’t that be more like a diamond mine? We suppose coal is a treasure.
They don’t call it black gold for nothing. Or is that oil?
Cath is on the hunt for stories about the town,relating to family histories, tragic and uplifting events, funny anecdotes, sporting moments and festivals.
She’s alsointerested in the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church,which was “an integral part of this community for 150 years”.
Cath has already devotedmonths to digging through archives.
“I’d like to create a fascinating page-turner about Wallsend itself over the last 150 years,” she says.
That’s quite a task, Cath. But we reckon you’re up to it.
Anyone with a story or photographs about Wallsend, can contact Cath on 4954-6914.
It’s Save the Frogs Day on Saturday. Many are endangered. Don’t let them croak.
We’ve got a joke for you. What’s black and white and green? A frog sitting on a newspaper.
One more. We can’t help it. What do you say to a hitchhiking frog? Hop in.
Last one, we promise. What happened to the frog’s car when his parking meter expired? It got toad.
Jokes aside,the future of frogs isn’t funny. That’s why it’s Save the Frogs Day on Saturday. Kevin McDonald, a retired senior lecturer in environmental scienceat the University of Newcastle, loves frogs.
Kevin noted thatattempts have been made to save the green and gold bell frog from extinction in the Hunter.
And hewas chuffed about the recent discovery of a new frog species in Port Stephens, namedMahony’s toadlet.
The frog was discovered by University of Newcastle biologist Simon Clulow, who named it after his mentor andfrog expert, Professor Michael Mahony.
Kevin said frogs were indicators of “the health of our local wetlands”.
“Protect them lest they croak it!”, he said.
Hey, that’s a good one.
Up to 50 Australians with mental illness or concerning behaviour are being assessed for a new police unit targeting would-be lone wolf extremists before they commit a terrorist act.
The fixated persons investigations unit, unveiled on Wednesday, is one of newly appointed NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s first initiatives.
Comprising 17 detectives and government mental health workers, it will perform risk assessments on so-called lone actors or unstable people who are seemingly fixated on issues or individuals but are not considered persons of interest for counter-terrorism police.
“We know these people aren’t active counter-terrorism targets yet they are capable of acts of terrorism,” Mr Fuller said. “[We] believe we need to move quickly to close this gap.”
People could be referred to the unit by family, neighbours, counter-terrorism authorities or local police, who often know of concerning locals but are limited in how they can deal with them.
The unit might respond by sending an officer to speak to the person, drawing up a mental health plan or forwarding the case to the counter-terrorism unit.
“I’m not suggesting that, if you call, we’re going to kick your door down,” Mr Fuller said.
“What I do want to give is give the community a pathway to contact someone if they’ve got concerns about a family member, a friend or a neighbour because at the moment people don’t see them as terrorists but they are committing terrorist activities.”
Mr Fuller said about 50 people were being assessed for the unit.
Among them are Joseph Mekhael, a DJ arrested on Anzac Day for shouting anti-war slogans during the minute’s silence in Martin Place.
On his Facebook page, he claims to lead the “Save The World Army” and calls on followers to “have the courage to stand up against those who are enslaving the human race!”
Lindt Cafe gunman Man Monis would also fit the unit’s brief as would John Caddle, a mentally ill man who drove his car through a Wollongong mall in February in a mock terrorist act that he hoped would prove other terrorist events were “fake news”.
Monis was a long-standing public nuisance who taunted politicians and bombarded families of Diggers with anti-war letters, but counter-terrorism police had closed his case file.
Mr Fuller said the metropolitan robbery unit would be disbanded and its detectives, who have 10 years’ experience in “profiling” people, would start work on Monday.
He acknowledged that the link between mental health and Islamic State-inspired attacks was contentious and said the initiative was not intended to excuse or play down violent acts.
Muslim youth worker Kuranda Seyit, director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations, feared the unit would end up mining health professionals for any Muslim mental health patients.
“We need to carefully consider where we’re going with this….because there is the danger of stigmatising not just people with mental illness but also Muslims,” he said.
The unit is modelled on the Fixated Threat Assessment Centres in Britain and Queensland that have a joint police-mental health approach.
Police Minister Troy Grant said it also built on ideas from the FBI’s bystander work, which recognises that, in the aftermath of an incident, it often emerges that somebody knew or saw something but didn’t have the understanding or the means to report it.
Mr Fuller denied it was an attempt to pre-empt negative findings from the Lindt Cafe inquest.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said the initiative would struggle to succeed because trust had not been established.
“The missing link in the NSW Police Force’s terrorism response is the connection with vulnerable communities; it’s not a resourcing issue but a cultural one,” he said. “The spate of highly armed and high visibility police raids in western Sydney that end with televised arrests of members of the Muslim community destroy hard-fought links with the community.”
FIXATED PERSONS: The type of people the new police unit wants to look at
Ihsas Khan, 23: Years of odd behaviour, including cutting down Australian flags on a neighbour’s home, culminated in the alleged Islamic State-inspired stabbing of neighbour Wayne Greenhalgh.
A 18-year-old man from Narwee: Arrested in the Opera House forecourt last year allegedly carrying canisters of brake fluid on the “instructions of Islamic State”. He has an intellectual disability but was charged after his behaviour escalated.
Alo-Bridget Namoa, 19: Allegedly wanted to do an “Islamic Bonnie and Clyde” with her husband but suffers schizophrenia and hallucinations and became obsessed with watching beheading videos, a court heard.
A 17-year-old boy from The Oaks: Allegedly threatened to carry out a mass stabbing in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. Charges downgraded after severe mental health and developmental issues emerged.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Newcastle Jets midfielder Mateo Poljak. Picture: Getty Images
JETS midfielder Mateo Poljak has lived in Australia for five years. He met and married wife, Katarina, here. His six-month-old daughter, Mia, is an Aussie. Newcastle has become home.
But the 27-year-old Croatian national is faced with the prospect of moving his young family overseas to continue his career.
Poljak applied for Australian citizenship in October. He was listed as a “priority process”. Seven months on, he is still waiting.
Until naturalised, Poljak is classed as a visa player in the A-League. Each club is permitted five visa players.If the status quo remains, it appears unlikely that the veteran of116 A-Leaguegames will be re-signed at the Jets.His chances of picking up a contract elsewhere are limited.
“I am obviously anxious about that,” Poljak said.“Something like that (citizenship) would give me a lot of options. It opens doors.Being a priority process, you would think it would be done by now. It can take up to one year.It is not going to happen in time for next season.”
Poljak’smost recent contact with the immigration department was on Friday. It took 14 calls to get though and he was 65thin the queue.
“Everything is out of my control,” he said.
“There is not one more piece of paper, piece of evidence, that I can provide to the department of immigration to speed up the process.I am already a priority process. I am literally on hold.”
Poljak is one of 10 players off contract at the Jets, whose fate will be determined by the new coach.
Ernie Merrick is the front-runner for the position which will be finalised after owner Martin Lee conducts a final round of interviews in China on Tuesday.
“At the moment I do not have a clear picture on where I will be or where we will be,” he said.“We have a great bunch of boys here and the spirit is very strong.Having a six-month-old daughter, the best thing and easiest thing for us would be to stay.”
An industrious midfielder,Poljak joined Western Sydney for their inaugural campaign in 2012-13. He played 66 games for Wanderers, helping steer themto the minor premiership in year one and the Asian Champions League in 2014.
He signed withNewcastle for the 2015-16 season, was installed vice captain and startedall bar one game. However, this season he has not been an automatic selection.
Turning 28 next month, theDinamo Zagreb productbelieves he can still make an impact in the A-League.
“I feelbeing here for five years, I know the league and I know my teammates and I know the other teams as well,” he said.“From the start of a career as a professional, you know you are going to be faced with a lot of challenges. There are so many people out there ready to take your spot. Me being a foreigner or not. I don’t think that will decide my future.”
If unsuccessful in securing an A-League contract, he will switch focus to overseas.
“If I have to try somewhere else, then get back,I would rather do that than play locally (semi professional),” he said. “I have come so far from my country, from my family, for one purpose –to play football.I am a fighter. I am sure something will come up.”
From its opening frames there is something both brilliant and confounding about The Young Pope. Its star, Jude Law, plays a young American cardinal who is elevated to the highest office in the Catholic church.
Pushing aside the likelihood of an American pope – as opposed, say, to one from Latin America or even Africa – the series plays a little like a royal family biopic. The pomp and ceremony get it over the line, to some extent only just.
The series was pitched to HBO by writer Paolo Sorrentino as one which would “probe, with honesty and curiosity, the contradictions, the struggles, and the fascinating aspects of a man of the cloth who unexpectedly rises to lead a billion member congregation”.
Law holds high praise for Sorrentino. “It was really eye opening to work with someone who had such clarity of vision and contributed such an extraordinary signature and heightened, just every day, in every way, what we were all doing as a cast and as a team,” he says.
Not having been brought up in a religious home, Law says he had “always been curious about faith and one’s personal relationship with faith and I suppose it encouraged me to question and look at that a little more”.
The series does seem to play cleverly into a sort of global paradigm; a shift in religious conservatism, a rise in secular conservatism and a swing in politics to the right.
Whether The Young Pope is a reaction to that, or merely reflective of it, Law is unsure. He credits the show’s subtle sensitivity to the world around it to Sorrentino’s writing.
“Great writers and great creative minds, I think, have a natural antenna that reads what is in the ether, and I think I’m safe to say that perhaps some of this came from the religious terrain of the past,” Law says. “It also came from perhaps the Italian political terrain of the past.”
Clearly too, he adds, “there was a certain amount of preemptive registering of what was going on internationally. It just highlights how relevant sometimes this sort of reactionary voting or indeed, you know, the idea of voting in the unknown can lead you.”
Sorrentino’s writing, Law says, takes the character of Lenny Belardo and crowns him with this magnificent pontifical power but then explores him in a very ordinary human way.
“Paolo can take epic themes and operatic scale and make it very human,” Law says. “When I started I thought, I need to educate myself on papal history, on Catholic history, on life in the Vatican. But I didn’t really find any answers there as to who this character was.”
Sorrentino encouraged Law to focus more on the idea that Belardo is simply a man, orphaned at birth and “at his heart, he is trying to understand this sense of lack of love,” Law says. “A lot of the part he plays as Pope Pius is trying to understand that and, if you like, reflect his sense of solitude.”
Intriguingly, Law’s Pope – Lenny Belardo, later Pope Pius XIII – is a smoker, though the actor is quick to point out that he was written in Sorrentino’s script as a smoker, a character quirk which was borrowed from Pope Benedict.
“Benedict apparently liked a cigarette after mass, and it was I thought a wonderful kind of detail of character that Paolo included,” Law says. “His scripts are rich with detail of both musical reference and character reference and for an actor, that’s joyful. You sink your teeth into those.”
One of the most significant elements of the series, both for the audience and the actor at the heart of it, is the props and pageantry of the papal office.
“I think when I was starting out [as an actor] I underestimated the power of costume,” Law says. “And in this role, unlike almost any other, putting on the robes, the white daily robes or the more formal robes of ritual, it had a great impact.”
“A huge amount of revealing and feeling the sort of status of someone in that position is helped by the reaction of others,” Law adds. “And when you’re being carried in by 12 men on a golden throne with robes, bejewelled robes, it helps a lot.”
For one of the key narratives in Lenny Belardo’s story, Law works with Diane Keaton, who plays Sister Mary, the American nun who raised Belardo at the orphanage and who joins him at the Vatican as his personal secretary.
Law says Keaton brought “a unique sense of humour and mischief and boundless warmth” to the role. “She’s fantastically modest too,” he adds. “I remember when she arrived she was constantly saying, ‘I don’t know why I’m here’, because she seemed to be the last person to realise just how loved she is.”
Law said he nicknamed her “Mama Rose”, after Mama Rose in Gypsy. “She was very much my Mama Rose because she’s the one always saying, you’re going to be the Pope, Lenny. You’re going to be the Pope. You’re a saint, Lenny. She’s my biggest supporter in the piece. And it was wonderful to work with her.”
WHAT The Young Pope
WHEN SBS, Wednesday, 10.25pm, and SBS On Demand
????????????(M) 127 minutes
Warren Beatty begins this pageant of Hollywood life in the 1960s with a quote from Howard Hughes, whom he plays with just the right amount of crazy: “Never check an interesting fact.” I don’t know if Hughes ever said it, because I haven’t checked it (boom, tish).
It works as both a warning and a statement of creed. What you are about to see might have happened but who cares: almost anything one could say about the real Howard Hughes is weirder than what Beatty could make up anyway.
The advance reviews on Rules Don’t Apply were harsh, to say the least, and it may be that standards are higher for Beatty, who has refused to fade into the Hollywood hills, even as he passed 80 earlier this year.
Apart from his huge body of work as an actor, his reputation as a director peaked in 1982 with Reds, for which he won the Oscar for best director, then faded. Bulworth and Dick Tracy were fun, but the market for Beatty’s satire seemed to have passed.
He claims to have been thinking about this new film since the 1960s, when he was the biggest hunk in Hollywood, and Hughes was still a force in American business. It’s certainly true Rules Don’t Apply is not so much a film about Hughes the movie producer and aviator as it is about the battle between sex and puritanism in American life.
Some critics have missed the point: it’s not that Beatty identifies with Hughes. He identifies with the beautiful young things arriving in Tinseltown in 1958, which is when he, too, arrived from Virginia with his sister Shirley Maclaine.
Frank Forbes (the fast-rising Alden Ehrenreich) has left small-town America and his high school sweetheart to pursue real estate ambitions in Los Angeles. He starts work as a driver for Mr Hughes, thinking he will get him to invest, although he has never actually met him.
Levar Mathis (Matthew Broderick), as a cynical senior driver, explains the strict rules for ferrying one of the 30 or so young starlets Hughes has under contract.
Candice Bergen, as Nadine Henly, runs the female part of the Hughes empire. The newest girl is Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins) who arrives with her suspicious and god-fearing mother Lucy (Annette Bening). Frank deposits them in a lovely house in the hills above the Hollywood Bowl, where classical music wafts up at night.
In one sense, the film is an elaborate romantic tease about when the rosy-cheeked and wide-eyed Marla will finally succumb to either Hughes or Frank, or both. In another, it’s a sad love story about an old man losing his grip on reality, while these young things lose their innocence. It’s effective as both – far more than I expected. The comedy has bite, the writing captures the weird, and Beatty directs with care.
He gives us a richly satirical portrait of American double standards. Hollywood is in one sense more honest than the apple pie heartland that produced these two beautiful things, raised on the Bible but bursting with sexual energy. At least in Hollywood, they understand the attraction of sin.
As a lifelong liberal and libertarian, the religious right was never going to get much shrift from Beatty, who keeps denying the obvious truth that this is a thoroughly political movie.
It may not mention the current president, but it’s impossible to watch without thinking of his attitudes to women. At least Howard Hughes, as played by Beatty, is a gentleman. Not that Beatty wants us to take his portrayal literally: he never met the man, and Hughes had sold RKO Studios three years before Beatty arrived in the movie capital. Never check a fake fact, either.
Shock at speedy coal mine approval Protests: Wollar residents stage a protest outside a NSW Planning Assessment Commission hearing considering expansion of Wilpinjong coal mine.
Arrest: Wollar Progress Association spokesperson Bev Smiles is arrested early in April after a protest outside Wilpinjong mine.
Haul: A train ready to carry coal from Wilpinjong coal mine between Denman and Mudgee to service Bayswater and Liddell power stations.
Purchase: The Barigan Valley which is largely owned by Peabody Energy to provide offsets for its Wilpinjong coal mine.
TweetFacebook Shock speedy approval of Wilpinjong coal mine expansion NSW Planning Assessment Commission takes one week to approve mine expansion+4NSW Planning Assessment Commission takes one week to approve mine expansionMORE GALLERIES
facebookSHAREtwitterTWEETemailwhatsappcommentCommentsTHE NSW Planning Assessment Commission has approved expansion of Wilpinjong coal mine until 2033 only one week after receiving 284 objections to the proposal.
The commission rejected Wollar residents’ submissions that the expansion would spell the end of their village and agreed with a Department of Planning assessment that the “decline of Wollar was inevitable even without mining”.
The decision on Wednesday was only a week after the end of public submissions, and two weeks after Wollar Progress Association spokesperson Bev Smiles and two others werearrested and charged after a protest outside the mine between Denman and Mudgee.
The commission approved a new open cut pit at the Peabody Energy mine, expansion of existing pits, extension of mine operations from 2026 to 2033, an increase in annual coal production to 13 million tonnes, and further realignment of Ulan-Wollar Road.
The commission found the project was in the public interest because it would provide “significant benefits to the locality, region and state”, and failing to approve the expansion would have led to a decrease in mine operations and impact on jobs from 2017.
Approval would mean 625 on-site jobs during peak production, the commission said.
“The commission finds that the project would, subject to the mitigation measures proposed by (Peabody) and conditions recommended by the department, have acceptable impacts and that proposed conditions of consent represent an appropriate reflection on contemporary and best practice management for an open cut coal mine,” the commission said.
Objections on the basis of water, air quality, noise, blasting, biodiversity, social and Aboriginal heritage impacts were adequately assessed and addressed by the department and Peabody, it said.
Wollar residents were shocked by the decision only a week after the end of the public submission period when 284 objections were received.
“The commission’s decision to approve this mine after the barest possible timeframe for consideration is frankly devastating. They have completely ignored the key issues raised on the negative social impacts,” Ms Smiles said.
“Not only have they signed the death warrant for Wollar and its surrounding community, but they have failed to give acquisition rights to affected property owners that rely on the village. They will strand us beside this mine that has ruined our lives and leave us with nothing. There is no social justice in this decision.”
Ms Smiles said the commission had failed to give acquisition rights to the remaining members of Wollar community who argued they had “stranded assets” because of the extent of Peabody’s property acquisitions in the area, and because people would not want to buy into an area so close to coal mines.
Lock the Gate Alliance Hunter regional coordinator Steve Phillips said, “We are reeling from the speed and callousness of this process and appealing to the State government to overhaul the planning process and give the public back some basic rights and protections.
“The Hunter region cannot cope with more damage, ruined villages, lost heritage and abused public trust. We will be ramping up our efforts to appeal to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts to restore balance in the Hunter and give the region a future.”
The wave of money flowing out of active funds and into passive investments causing plenty of headaches for the world’s equity fund managers, is affecting fixed income investors too. PIMCO, the world’s largest actively managed bond fund manager, is preparing its defence.
In a paper titled “Bonds are different”, a team of researchers headed by Jamil Baz, PIMCO’s global head of client analytics, argues a number of reasons why passive investing doesn’t work as well in bonds, giving active bond investors plenty of room to beat the market.
“We’re talking about different animals here,” Mr Baz told The Australian Financial Review, referring to the differences between passive investment in equities and bonds. The paper’s argument is made most forcefully with figures that show actively managed funds more often than not outperformed their passive competitors across a range of time frames and bond fund types.
These calculations are debated. Others who’ve looked at this question, such as S&P Dow Jones Indices, conclude that bond funds frequently under-perform benchmark indices, particularly over long time periods after fees are taken into account.
However, in bonds, the benchmark and the returns offered by passive funds after fees are not necessarily the same thing.
Passive funds offer cheap exposure to assets by replicating a broad index, far more cheaply than managed funds do. But bond indexes are notoriously tricky to replicate, as bond markets have far lower liquidity than equities and the constituent parts of bond indices change far more quickly (generally every month) than they do in most equities indices.
And bonds, which are sold-on corporate or government debt, can go funny in times of crisis, leading to the curious situation of many active funds having under-performed the index in 2008-09 but having outperformed passive bond funds over the same period.
Comparing the performance of active bond funds to the index in shorter durations that exclude the financial crisis yields better results, according to PIMCO. And in all the categories and time frames examined, with the exception of one-year high-yield bond funds, more than 50 per cent of active bond funds beat passive funds after fees.
There are a number of technical reasons why active management gives greater returns in bonds than equities, Mr Baz argued.
Around half of the $102 trillion global bond market isn’t held by investors seeking a return at all, but by “uneconomic” investors. Central banks, for example, use bond buying and selling to control their currencies and inflation. Commercial banks and insurance companies use bonds for their regular yields rather than their alpha. These “non-economic, constrained investors” are not able to act with the freedom of those investing for profit – so their alpha is there for the taking by “economic” investors.
“Economic investors tend to outperform non-economic investors, as the former buy cheap fallen angels from the latter and sell them expensive high-coupon bonds. Active managers potentially may also be compensated by passive managers for providing the liquidity around changes in index construction,” the paper states.
“We absolutely concede that there is a place for passive management,” Mr Baz said. “Some take advantage of the lower fees, and passive funds put active managers on their toes and incentives them to do better.” But, he added, active bond managers are able to take advantage of opportunities passive managers cannot.
And there are more such opportunities in the bond market. Companies, for example, usually issue only one form of stock. But they can and do issue multiple types of bonds – only the largest of which will make bond indexes even though the others can be, in effect, the same. Active bond managers can do the research needed to discover and buy such bonds when they are cheaply offered.
In this sense, bond managers are somewhat like small caps managers, said BetaShares chief economist David Bassanese, who also tend to perform better against passive funds compared to other equities categories.
For most investors, passive bond investing is the only way to access the fixed income space at all.
“Before the advent of exchange traded funds, the only way retail investors could access fixed income was through unlisted, typically actively managed funds which charged a high fee for their efforts. ETFs, irrespective of debate of active versus passive, give retail investors access to fixed income products.”
Vanguard manages the world’s largest bond fund, which is passive. The issue of fees was also raised by its head of investments for Asia-Pacific, Rodney Comegys.
“Cost matters a tonne, and even more in fixed income than it does in equities,” he told the Financial Review. “There’s lower expected returns in fixed interest, so what you pay really takes away from your return. In a low-yield environment, that matters.”
“In aggregate – whether across equities or fixed income – passive investing keeps costs as low as possible. You don’t spend much on research. And for all the advantages of active … you also have the opportunity to underperform.”
Fees can vary widely across different fixed income active fund managers, and investors have to trade off the performance of an active fund with how much of that performance is eaten up by fees.
“Active is hard,” Mr Comegys said. “Hard for the investment manager and hard for the investor.”
But someone’s got to take the risk, Mr Baz argued. A market fully comprised of passive investors would encourage “free-riding, adverse selection and moral hazard”.
“You could have a situation where companies offer lower-quality paper, knowing it’ll be absorbed by the market because it’s passive and less research-intensive,” he said.
“The more passive fund buying there is, the more uncritical buying there’s going to be.”
FRUITFUL: Digging the permaculture vibe at Purple Pear Farm.Years ago when I first heard about an innovative permaculture property starting in suburban Maitland, near Rutherford, I was a bit baffled. In my mind it was zoned only grey roofs and project homes, not the place for a green oasis spilling over with organic edibles. And yet it’s in part this juxtaposition that makes Purple Pear Farm and Education Centre truly pioneering.
Owners Kate Beveridge and Mark Brown moved to the area from Dungog a decade ago. At the time, they were market gardening in Dungog, and helped establish a community garden. The move was prompted by a desire to be closer to the clientele for their organic produce.
“We decided that we should come to Maitland and grow the food where it’s being eaten,” Mark says.
Mark and Kate bought a 14 acre property 10 years ago, with the dream of it becoming not just a small-scale organic farm, but a showpiece and education centre for biodynamics, permaculture and sustainable living.Their story brings to mind the British comedy The Good Life, where Barbara and Tom give up corporate life to try their hand at subsistence farming on their quarter acre plot. Like Tom and Barbara, Kate and Mark’s life revolves around food. Feeding the immediate household is one thing, but making a living by selling it in this era is another.Purple Pear provides about 25 subscribers with a weekly organic vegetable box under a Community Supported Agriculture system, whereby the families commit to sourcing their fresh food from the farm so that the farmers can plan how much to plant each season with the assurance of it having a market.
It’s the in-between seasons – like now – that can get a bit tricky, Mark says. The farm is still picking eggplant and capsicum from summer, as well as snake beans, Asian greens, kale and shallots. The brassicas are all in, ready for winter. However, rather than relying on annual crops, Mark is keen to try new ideas such as perennial crops.Mark is also looking to add nutritious weeds to the basket.
“Purslane carried us through the heat wave. We put recipes in the boxes and explained the nutritional benefits and how to prepare them,” he says.
The farm has diversified its income through education such as permaculture design, compost making and courses in food preservation, sour dough bread, cheese and yoghurt making. Kate’s passion for working with kids has led to sustainable living programs for schoolsand the new mums and bubs tours, whichgive children a chance to feed and cuddle guinea pigs, ponies, cows, ducks, pigs and chickens.
To celebrate International Permaculture day, Permaculture Hunter is welcoming people tojoin them on a field trip to Purple Pear on May 14.For more information see the Permaculture Hunter Facebook group.
For more information see the Permaculture Hunter Facebook group.
Claire Dunn is the author of My Year Without Matches. Contact her at [email protected]广州桑拿网广州桑拿论坛