Patrick Allaway resigns from Nine


Nine’s six person board currently comprises three directors with ties to the television company — chairman Peter Costello, Samantha Lewis and Catherine West; and three with ties to Fairfax — Mr Falloon, Ms Rosen and Mr Allaway, who will step down formally in early April.

Tensions between the Nine and former Fairfax board directors centred on decision making processes and a lack of transparency have increased over the two years since the merger. Those tensions were exposed by the abrupt resignation of chief executive Hugh Marks last November over a relationship with a member of his executive team, Alexi Baker.

The Fairfax and Nine directors were at loggerheads over Mr Marks’ resignation, and some directors did not feel adequately informed about important developments inside the company. The Australian reported last year the Nine board was split over whether to hold an independent investigation into Mr Marks’ relationship. An external investigation into Mr Marks was not conducted.

Any further changes to the board could delay the search process for a new chief executive to replace Mr Marks.

Mr Allaway did not give specific reasons for his departure other than to say he had a large workload, but he is known for his integrity and strict adherence to corporate governance. Mr Allaway abruptly resigned from the board of Woolworths Holdings in February 2019 after it was revealed former David Jones boss David Thomas had been accused of discrimination against a staff member and was the subject of an external investigation (the investigation found no evidence). Mr Allaway declined to comment on his intention to resign from Nine when asked early on Monday.

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Ms Rosen was announced as a director of Bank of Queensland on February 15, which is chaired by Mr Allaway. Ms Rosen did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

A Nine spokesperson declined to comment on Monday afternoon whether Mr Allaway or Ms Rosen had expressed intentions to resign, but said any announcements about changes to the Board would be announced to the ASX as is appropriate. The ASX announcement of Mr Allaway’s departure was on Monday evening.

“I thank Patrick for his commitment to Nine and, prior to the merger, to Fairfax. Together we have worked to ensure a successful future for this media business and I wish him well for the future,” Mr Costello said.

The resignation of Mr Allway leaves the board with less influence from figures that previously led Fairfax. Should Mr Falloon and Ms Rosen also leave the company it would leave Nine’s chief publishing and digital officer Chris Janz as the only remaining senior figure from the Fairfax era.

There is uncertainty over Mr Falloon’s place on the board as he is being investigated over allegations he gave his son Troy Falloon access to a corporate golf club membership from the middle of 2018, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity

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People familiar with Mr Falloon’s decision said he gave his son access to the membership so they could play golf together. Golf cards revealed they have played at least three times together since mid-2018 including last September. The corporate membership, paid for by Nine, had Troy Falloon’s name on the documents as late as last July. A Nine spokesperson declined to comment on the matter because an investigation is underway.

Nine has engaged legal firm Ashurst to investigate the claims with general counsel Rachel Launders. Mr Falloon, who is also the chairman of online property portal group Domain, told The Herald and The Age on Monday that he had not used any company money and had not misused the corporate membership. This newspaper is not suggesting he misused company funds.

Nine did not clarify at its half-year financial results last week when Mr Marks’ replacement would be confirmed.

Four media executives appeared in front of the board of directors in early February – Stan boss Mike Sneesby and Nine publishing and chief digital officer Mr Janz, Carl Fennessy, the former joint-CEO of major production house Endemol Shine Australia, and David Lynn, the former president and CEO of ViacomCBS Networks.

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Calls for accused minister to stand aside


Senior Morrison government ministers have stressed a cabinet colleague accused of a horrific historical rape is entitled to the presumption of innocence.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Labor’s Penny Wong and Prime Minister Scott Morrison were sent a letter detailing the complaint last week.



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Taking big, calculated risks | Inside Small Business


Being a successful entrepreneur is knowing how to take calculated risks. As business owners, we can’t keep doing the same thing while hoping for a different result. There are five steps to taking risks well, below. If you review the risk you’re planning to take and make adjustments before you take it, this process will hold you in good stead.

Step 1: Assess and ask

Break the risk down, making sure you know
exactly what’s at stake, asking mentors for guidance.

Assessing, measuring, and minimising risk
is a vital skill.

What is the risk? What are the key
benefits? What are the costs? Costs can be financial, time and resources.
Identify any significant financial costs and assess the time it will take you
and any members of your team to potentially allocate resources to the project.

Who are your competitors? Review your
market. Research your competitors, identifying your point of difference. Ensure
you stand out otherwise you will spend much more in marketing $$ trying to be
the same as your competitors.

It’s also imperative to consider different
perspectives when taking a risk in business in order to reach a balanced
perspective.

Step 2. Calculate

Measure and Minimise your risk. Identify
what type of risk it is. Is it low, high, or a calculated risk and how can you
minimise some of the risk?

In my business I only ever have one high
risk and one calculated risk occurring at the same time.

To begin reducing risk, assess the market. Identify
competitors, find a minimum of three points of differentiation. If there are no
points of difference, reconsider the project as the risk is too high.

Step 3. Core values

Know your top five core values and make

sure you’re aligned to them. The priority of our values changes over time, so
it’s important to check in now and then.

When considering any new risks, ensure they
align with your highest values. For me, I need to love and feel passionate
about a project. And it has to align with my honesty and health and wellness
values.

Step 4. Intuition – trust your gut

Our incredible bodies are more intuitive than we give them credit for. Practising daily mediation brings me great clarity during times of new project risks.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • If money was no object, would you still be doing this?
  • Does it give you goosebumps and butterflies at the thought of it?
  • Can you imagine being just as happy doing something else?

Step 5. Systems

Viable systems in business are a necessity
for taking on more risk. Ensuring systems are in place to take on the risk and
deal with complications are essential. Business is rarely a smooth ride, and
one of the most valuable skills I’ve learnt is not to overreact when things
don’t go according to plan.

Be clear on company policies and where you
stand on customer service, to ensure you have the systems to cope with
increased demand as your company grows.

By introducing a risk processing system like these five steps, you may just start taking better risks that pay off for your business.

Rachael Ferguson, CEO, Synxsole and co-author of “Back Yourself: Advice and inspiration to create the business you’ve been dreaming of”



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The ‘jobdobber’ hotline is another policy aimed at keeping wages low | Greg Jericho | Business


This week came further confirmation that even in the midst of a wages crisis, the Morrison government remains determined to push wages even lower.

When you get down to it, there are really two things that define the Liberal party’s economic agenda: low taxes for wealthy people and those who own companies, and low wages growth for everyone else.

The ambition of every economic policy the Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have pursued over the course of their time in power since 1996 (and even beforehand when in opposition) has been to produce these two results.

This past week we saw the government announce a meagre increase in the jobseeker rate and an increase in mutual obligations. They also announced a hotline for employers to call to dob in unemployed people who refuse job offers – a job offer that might be declined upon discovering the wage and conditions.

Such a policy serves to keep wages low – employers can offer lower wages and know that a threat hangs over people should they refuse.

It is one of the most bastardly policies this government, which specialises in barstardry, has devised.

And it comes at a time when low wages growth is now a permanent feature of the economy.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, where economic data from GDP to retail spending has gone absolutely nuts, wages continue to grow at the exact pace expected over the past five years.


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Three years ago when Gareth Hutchens and I did a report into low-wages growth, wages were growing at 2% a year. This week the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that in 2020 wages grew by just 1.4% – a record low for any calendar year.

It might be low, but it is not an aberration.

When unemployment goes up, more people are fighting for each job and so employers are under less pressure to raise wages to attract people to apply, or to stop current employees leaving for a better-paying job.

And so in March last year when the unemployment rate was 5.2%, wages grew at an annual rate of 2.2%. In December when unemployment had risen to 6.6%, wages growth had slowed to 1.4% – exactly in line with the trend since 2016.

The problem is that trend has completely fallen from what it used to be.

Up until 2012 an unemployment rate of 6.6% would be usually associated with wage growth of around 3%.

Even when wages growth was a bit lower than expected they were well above what we now have. In March 2000 the unemployment rate was also 6.6% and wages grew by 2.7% – a rate we have not had for nearly seven years.

Wages now grow around 1.5% slower for every level of unemployment. Or to put it more starkly: for wages to grow at the pace they used to, unemployment needs to be around three percentage points lower than in the past.

The Reserve Bank has said it will not raise interest rates until inflation growth is consistently above 2% and for that to occur wages would need to grow at around 3%.

In the past that would have meant getting unemployment below 7%; now it means below 4%.

Less worker bargaining power, more restrictions on industrial action, less need for employers to negotiate in good faith, enforced lower wages growth in the public sector, and threats to the unemployed are policies designed to keep wages down – and they are working.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, even with all other economic data going haywire, wages are behaving as expected – and that expectation is now terribly and permanently low.

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Austal efficiencies drive profit but revenue takes hit




Austal’s net profit after tax was $52.4 million, up 29 per cent, while revenue fell 19 per cent to $840.3 million, due to a poor exchange rate and less throughput in the US.

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Retailers propose measures for industry’s recovery


A survey of 172 retailers reveals what the sector needs to get fully back on its feet post-COVID. The research, commissioned by CouriersPlease (CP), shows that over a third (36 per cent) of the retailers surveyed are confident they will be able to recover pre-pandemic revenue levels between July and December this year. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those surveyed say that they could get to that point by the end of July, while 13 per cent said their recovery would depend on restrictions lifting completely, and eight per cent do not believe they’ll get back to pre-COVID levels this year.

With regards to the potential solutions that could help the retail industry recover faster, 42 per cent of retailers believe an effective treatment or vaccine is needed; 34 per cent say that they need further Government assistance to help them pay employee salaries, such as an extension of the JobKeeper scheme; 27 per cent are looking at tax incentives from the Government; and 17 per cent say that further cashback incentives from the Government are necessary for the industry’s recovery. Meanwhile, 22 per cent have believe they won’t recover fully until consumers have more cash to spend (consumer confidence fell by 27 per cent when restrictions were enforced last year).

“The retail industry has a long way to go to recovery,” Paul Roper, Chief Commercial Officer at CP, said. “While eCommerce has remained strong, many bricks and mortar retailers were forced to close their doors last year.

“The end of JobKeeper in March, a slow rollout of the NSW Government’s Dine and Discovery voucher scheme and continuing COVID cases across the country, including the recent spike in cases in Melbourne, are just a few of the factors that could lead to cautious consumer spending this year,” Roper added.

“I encourage these retailers to consider shifting to, or growing, their online or omnichannel offering as more Australians become comfortable with online shopping,” Roper said. “A number of support measures remain at retailers’ disposal, including the SME Guarantee Scheme and the instant asset write-off scheme.”



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Australian energy giant Woodside urged to ‘get off the fence’ on Myanmar


“They should commit to not proceeding any further until democracy is restored – at the moment it’s a bit of fence-sitting,” Mr Gocher said.

“They’re treading very lightly in terms of not condemning the military. They’ve clearly got an eye to the future, [and] they’re concerned that if they’re too critical then they might jeopardise the future of that business.”

Iron ore tycoon Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, who has a human rights foundation that campaigns against modern slavery, agreed that Australian companies should not be investing in Myanmar until democracy is restored.

“All new business should be suspended, and existing investments reviewed, until the military return Myanmar to free and fair elections,” he said in a statement. He said Woodside made the right decision by suspending its operations.

Woodside has rights over nine offshore exploration blocks in Myanmar, has commenced drilling on four sites and owns a 40 per cent stake in the massive A6 offshore gas project in the Rakhine Basin.

Woodside said on Saturday that it did not currently produce any gas or generate any revenue in the country, and nor did it have any “direct commercial arrangements” with organisations connected to the military.

“Woodside condemns human rights violations. Reports of violence against the Myanmar people participating in peaceful protests are deeply distressing,” the statement said.

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“We have watched with growing concern since the events of 1 February 2021. Woodside supports the people of Myanmar and we hope to see a peaceful journey to democracy.”

Australian human rights lawyer Chris Sidoti – who was part of the three-person United Nations fact finding mission to Myanmar in 2017 which found members of the military should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya minority ethnic group – said it was acceptable for companies like Woodside to take things one step at a time early in the political upheaval, given there was such widespread opposition to the junta.

“I would certainly hope that if the military becomes entrenched, Woodside and other companies will stay well away,” said Mr Sidoti, whose UN report called for complete economic disengagement with the military. “If that shift is sustained then there is absolutely no way that it can continue. But it is entitled to say, ‘we’ll just stop and see [what happens]’.

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“I don’t want all businesses cutting ties to Myanmar entirely, simply because the people of Myanmar are so desperately poor.”

The slated A6 project includes a 265 kilometre pipeline pumping natural gas to Myanmar and Thailand potentially by the end of 2023, and would deliver a significant tax and royalty payments to the Myanmar government, now in control of its military leaders.

The state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise also has the right to take a 20 per cent interest in the project, which is jointly backed by French energy giant Total and local operator Myanmar Petroleum Resources.

Woodside announced it was pausing operations in Myanmar after a coalition including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Council for International Development, and Publish What You Pay wrote to chairman Richard Goyder on Friday urging him to take action.

Global giants Chevron and Total, as well as Australian companies Myanmar Metals, Transcontinental Group, ROC and Tap Oil also face calls to review their operations to avoid giving legitimacy or material support to the junta.

The Tatmadaw, or military, justified its coup by claiming – without evidence and disputed by independent election observers – widespread fraud in the country’s November election which delivered a landslide victory to Ms Suu Kyi’s incumbent government.

Among the hundreds of government MPs, election officials, students, journalists, academics and officials arrested is Australian academic Sean Turnell who was an economic adviser to the Nobel peace laureate Ms Suu Kyi.

The United States, European Union, New Zealand and Canada have all announced sanctions again Myanmar military figures and businesses since the takeover. Australia has not taken any action, other than reviewing its foreign aid and military cooperation with the country.

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Virus vaccine safety paramount: Morrison




Early issues with Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout are being ironed out as the federal government assures the public safety is paramount.

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Digital store-front displays in retail – moving on from traditional signage


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In the
cities of the future – check out any sci-fi epic for proof – retail storefronts
have long since moved beyond the static mannequins and digital TVs of our own
era. If the movies are anything to go by, shoppers of the next century and
beyond will be treated to colourful, semitransparent AR displays, bright and
seamless digital projections of products in motion that aim to delight and
attract the attention of the generations of that distant age to come.

Retailers
of the present would be well-advised to start moving in this direction, and
they’d better do it quickly. Sustainability-conscious consumers are already
tut-tutting the wasteful practice of setting up store displays for short-term
promotions, only to trash them once the time is up. Window displays have been
resorting to decals affixed to the glass for quite some time already, while
setting digital TVs against glass storefronts is likewise nothing new – and
both of these solutions have the added disadvantage of blocking the view of the
products in store to prospective buyers passing by. Why have a window at all if
no one can see through it?

Kim Hoang of Sydney-based Pop up Digital has a new concept that uses the power of advanced BenQ projectors to create bold, eye-catching digital displays on window glass prepared with a proprietary clear film – eliminating the need for a screen while preserving the transparency of the storefront window, keeping the interior fit-out fully visible.

“We think this is probably the new standard in retail display,” says Hoang, whose fresh solution was recently proved in a stunning roll-out for Sass & Bide that projected the brand’s fashions and runway footage onto the street-facing windows of its Oxford Street flagship. “Typically you use a projector on a white wall, or a wall on just one side. We’ve developed a film that uses nanoparticles to absorb the light from the projector and refract it through to the other side. This allows you to use the projector to display any digital content onto your store window, visible from outside the store.”

Central to the solution is BenQ Smart Projector, which is powerful enough to display 1080p Full HD content in brilliant clarity, while remaining sufficiently compact so as not to intrude on a store’s fit-out. At 3600 lumens, the projected light is capable of rendering sharp, bright and crystal-clear digital video on any sheet of glass treated with film. While high resolution display files are often quite data heavy – making transferring them through physical devices cumbersome, especially when the projector is mounted on the ceiling – the Smart Projector lets you access files from your preferred cloud storage like Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive and control them via a built-in account management system (AMS).

“When you decide to walk out the next retail concept,” explains Hoang, “you just upload the new content. You never need to print again, like ’50 per cent off for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day’, or whatever. This is digital content that you upload to the cloud and press play.”

Hoang sees multiple applications for BenQ Smart Projectors, from large-scale applications across window faces to projections on suspended glass displays within stores, giving shoppers a closer look at products without resorting to the usual LCD TV screens.

“You can go as big as you want,” says Hoang. “We’re working with Adidas at the moment to trial a few different solutions. One of the scenarios that we can do is to link multiple projectors and blend it into one image. So in terms of scale, unlike TV, we’re not restricted.”

Pop up Digital’s solution – along with similar applications of the BenQ technology – is giving small and medium retail businesses an eye-catching alternative to traditional digital or analogue signage. Not only does this help businesses to utilise their glass space, it also opens up the range of content retailers can use to attract the eyes of passers-by.

“If you look out there, every retailer has a social media account, they’ve got a YouTube account, they’ve got a TikTok account,” observes Hoang. “So, all that content that they’re creating, they’re not putting in their stores. Why not? You’ve already spent all this money creating all this content. The only problem is that they don’t have a platform to deliver that content. You can’t really put a TikTok video on a TV on your window, it really doesn’t have any ‘wow’ factor. But if you’ve got it streaming on your store window two metres wide, that’s going to stop people in their tracks.”

To enquire about BenQ Smart Projectors, click through to the Smart Projector website.



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Macquarie Uni slashes 82 jobs to save $25million


Macquarie University will cut up to 82 academic staff to make a $25 million saving as the impact of the coronavirus on international student enrolments continues to hit the sector hard this year.

The university’s vice chancellor Bruce Dowton said sector-wide financial challenges exacerbated by COVID-19 would result in between 61 to 82 forced redundancies.

“The impact of COVID-19, particularly on international student numbers is creating a prolonged financial challenge for Macquarie and the university sector, which we have addressed to date through a combination of voluntary measures, reducing non-staff related costs and new revenue sources,” Professor Dowton said.

Macquarie University vice chancellor Bruce Dowton has announced up to 82 academic staff jobs will be cut this year.Credit:Wolter Peeters

“We are still facing a significant gap, meaning we need to find savings by reducing our staffing profile, while building a sustainable structure with the necessary skills, expertise and culture to fulfil our teaching and research mission into the future.”

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