“I think employment will be the next major challenge. It will be about how many hours we can give to people.”
Mr Andrews emphasised on Sunday the government wanted to wait to analyse test results and ensure an outbreak of the virus in the northern suburbs was under control before a further ease of restrictions.
Suburban shopping strip operators expressed their dismay with having to wait longer for re-opening news. Chapel Street Precinct general manager Chrissie Maus said the uncertainty was “frankly inhumane” given the case numbers. The state record seven new cases of the virus on Sunday, bringing the 14-day rolling average below five.
“We are just eight weeks out from social distancing with Santa, but far from getting into the spirit,” she said.
Other smaller retailers said despite their disappointment, the safety of their customer bases and communities was front of mind.
“The main thing is that we’re all safe – and that we are doing everything that we can to get through this crisis,” said founder of Fitzroy homewares store and artists studio Third Drawer Down, Abigail Crompton.
Ms Crompton said retailers around the globe had been learning to cope with daily uncertainty in the face of the pandemic.
While the Melbourne store has been closed since April, Third Drawer Down’s wholesale business was continuing to thrive in other Australian states, she said.
“Today was disappointing, the idea of reopening is a lovely idea…I’m excited to go back and see it [retail] differently,” she said.
“It doesn’t have to be seven-days-a-week [in store]. The online experience is vital for any good retailer.”
Australian Retailers’ Association chief executive Paul Zahra said while safety of customers was paramount, the sector was tired and frustrated by the unknowns given Victoria was now under an average of five cases a day.
“We’re exasperated, and it appears the goal posts have moved,” he said.
Even if retailers only had to wait until mid-week for more updates, this short time period would still take a toll, he said.
“It’s just been a rollercoaster of expectations, disappointments and delays. I just think every day counts.”
Emma reports on healthcare companies for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She is based in Melbourne.
In a time of significant belt tightening, where there does not seem to be enough work to go around, isn’t it time we started to consider sharing the load more evenly? At this time many organisations are proposing across-the-board cuts in hours as a way of preventing or minimising job losses. In other words sharing the pain around. Why not take this further and normalise it for most roles?
There are many benefits that come with job sharing. It can increase flexibility for organisations, as well as providing ready-made cover for periods of leave or absence. Job sharing, if deployed strategically, can solve the problem of succession planning. It creates opportunities to increase diversity in the workforce that is associated with increased productivity, creativity, and resilience on top of issues of social justice.
Job-sharing also gives a shot in the arm to young people entering the employment market, who not only will benefit from greater opportunities, but may gain access to enhanced training pathways by giving them the opportunity to study formally part-time and also to be mentored by their job-share partner.
The COVID-driven growing realisation and appreciation of the extent to which home-working is not only viable but can be more productive and engaging, may result in job-sharing becoming more common. Many of us are obliged to work long hours in the service of rents and mortgages in large cities in order to be close to our work.
If we are able to move further afield to take advantage of lower costs of living without losing connection to employment, there is less need to work excessive hours to pay for our shelter. We are all replaceable. This is a lesson taught to us by both major political parties who have demonstrated over the last 10 years that is possible to job-share the role of Prime Minister.
This could be a time, where, with imagination, creativity and courage, we seize the opportunity fundamentally to change our organisation of and relationship with work.
Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright
U.S. Air Force Special Operators are slightly shifting tactical focus to prepare for major power warfare, raising interesting questions regarding the additional mission scope they will be picking up following fifteen years of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The changing threat landscape, requiring some slight training adjustments and new preparation exercises, was cited by the U.S. Special Operations Commander, Army Gen. Richard Clarke during a visit to Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland, Texas.
“The realism and intensity of this training is vital because when these Airmen finish their training, they’ll need to address challenges we may not be able to predict,” Clarke said, according to an Air Force report. “AETC is training leaders who will be asked to address an ever-changing landscape where the fight we’ve engaged in since 9/11 may not resemble the threat our adversaries will present in the coming years. The physical toughness, intellectual capacity and ethical core these Airmen are developing during their training will help the Joint Force address the worldwide range of challenges each geographic combatant commander faces.”
Interestingly, much of the skill set Special Operators will need for great-power war does have many similarities to mission envelopes pursued in recent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Special Operators would need to conduct pararescue missions behind enemy lines, engage in high-risk forward reconnaissance operations, perform tactical air controller targeting and even conduct direct attack air assault ambushes when needed.
Close-in attacks and hostage rescue operations could easily bring great value in the kind of close-quarter battle likely to unfold in any kind of large-scale mechanized force on force engagement. While there are of course many longer-range sensors and weapons to consider when it comes to the possibility of major rival combat, however, future warfare involving large armies by no means removes the need to close-up attack once initial battle formations are breached and attackers penetrate.
Laser painting, spotting or finding ground targets for fighter jets and bombers to attack is a mission arguably even more pressing and important for Special Operators should they be immersed in a major war campaign. Much of this might require the kind of intelligence mission expertise required of Special Operators because they may need to conduct these kinds of operations in secret. Forward-operating clandestine reconnaissance missions, to find targets, destroy supply lines, gather intelligence or launch targeting hit-and-run attacks on high value enemy areas, are all mission capabilities performed and practiced by Air Force Special Operators.
Air Force Special Tactics Squadron warriors painted Taliban targets for air attack assets in Afghanistan, and similar yet slightly more protected or hidden operations would likely be in great demand should there be massive, large-scale warfare.
Kris Osborn is the new Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
It’s rare to have this much hype around a fighter.
On Thursday night, Australia will get a glimpse not only of our best boxing gold medal chance at next year’s Olympics in rising star Justis Huni, but likely the biggest heavyweight showdown between two locals.
While Huni is making his professional debut on the undercard to Jai Opetaia’s cruiserweight rematch against Ben Kelleher in Brisbane, moves are already afoot to stage a mega-fight between Huni and Opetaia within two years.
The pair spar together and have world title ambitions, but the unbeaten Opetaia wants to clean out the cruiserweight division before stepping up to heavyweight, where presumably Huni will have established himself as a global star.
“When that fight does happen, it will be the biggest fight in Australia,” Opetaia said.
“I reckon me and this guy can create history.
“But in saying that, I’ve got a lot of boxes to tick in the cruiserweight division first, and he’s got a lot of boxes to tick in the heavyweight division.
“We’ve still got a big journey ahead of us before that fight does happen, but it’s awesome we get to make history together.”
Huni makes his professional debut amid a backdrop of expectation that he will become Australia’s greatest-ever heavyweight.
Under Olympic regulations, boxers are allowed to have up to 10 professional bouts and still compete in the Games as an amateur.
After COVID-19 cancelled the 2020 Tokyo Games, Huni decided he would move to the pro ranks before attempting to win a gold medal next year if the revised Games go ahead.
He is a 190cm giant with the footwork and speed of a lightweight; leading several veteran boxing experts to declare Huni the best prospect Australia has seen since the emergence of Kostya Tszyu and Jeff Fenech.
Having already declared his ambition of unifying the heavyweight division, Huni lacks in neither confidence nor skill, and is ready for the eventual showdown with Opetaia.
“When the fight does happen, it will be something special for Australia and the world to see,” Huni said.
“It’s good to see two Polynesian boys out of Australia going all the way to the top.”
Opetaia (19-0, 15KO), who defeated Kelleher via technical knockout in 2018, plans to make quick work of his rival in the rematch and then fight again in late November as he surges towards a world title – he is ranked No.4 by the IBF and No.10 by the WBO.
Based in NSW’s Central Coast, 25-year-old Opetaia is working with Samoa Tourism to promote travel to the island nation when COVID-19 regulations allow.
“I’m bummed because I wanted to go there for a training camp, Justis wants to go, too, hopefully we can get there as soon as the restrictions lift, it’s a beautiful country,” Opetaia said.
*Huni v Opelu and Opetaia v Kelleher 2 will be shown live on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo on Thursday from 7pm AEDT
Mesut Ozil said Thursday he was “deeply disappointed” to be axed from Arsenal’s Premier League squad amid speculation he has played his last game for the London club.
The 32-year-old is the highest-paid player in Arsenal’s history on a reported $650,000 a week, but was not deemed to be in the best 25 players at the club.
Ozil has not played a single minute for Mikel Arteta’s side since March 7.
The FIFA World Cup winner has also been omitted from the Gunners’ Europa League squad.
Alongside Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos — also left out of both squads — Ozil will only be able to represent Arsenal Under-23s until 2021 at the earliest.
“This is a difficult message to write to the Arsenal fans that I’ve played for over the past few years,” said Ozil in a statement posted on social media.
“I’m really deeply disappointed by the fact that I have not been registered for the Premier League season for the time being.”
Former Germany international Ozil went on to question Arsenal’s loyalty having signed his current deal, which expires next year, in January 2018 — the same time Alexis Sanchez left the Gunners for Manchester United.
“Upon signing my new contract in 2018, I pledged my loyalty and allegiance to the club that I love, Arsenal, and it saddens me that this has not been reciprocated,” said Ozil.
“As I have just found out, loyalty is hard to come by nowadays. I’ve always tried to remain positive from week to week that there’s maybe a chance to get back in the squad soon again. That’s why I kept silent so far.”
Arsenal’s decision sparked a wave of outcry on social media – some for the player and some against.
Media identity and Arsenal tragic Piers Morgan took the club’s side. “If Ozil really wanted to play, he’d have left the club. He wants to bank the millions, sit on his backside and play the victim. Pathetic,” he tweeted.
But ex-player turned pundit Gary Lineker took Ozil at his word.
“Every footballer wants to play. Not being able to, regardless of salary, is soul destroying,” he tweeted.
“You don’t know the inside story. There are always two sides and clubs will spin things. You can’t just leave and play for someone else when you have a contract. Doesn’t work like that.”
“Spot on Gary,” replied ex-Arsenal player Jack Wilshere to Lineker’s tweet. “Especially when you are the best player!”
This month saw Ozil offer to pay the salary of Arsenal’s popular mascot Gunnersaurus after Jerry Quy, who has played the role of the dinosaur since 1993, was let go by the club with stadiums empty during the coronavirus crisis.
EARLIER THIS year the covid-19 pandemic brought SoftBank Group to its knees. As bondholders fled heavily indebted firms, the junk-rated Japanese tech conglomerate looked shaky. In March its flamboyant boss, Son Masayoshi, announced a $41bn sale of assets to return to stability.
Mr Son has since regained his footing—or at least his chutzpah—enumerating the upsides of coronavirus lockdowns for his firm. The “new normal”, in which meetings, food delivery, education, medical care, shopping and entertainment are mediated online, he said in September, is a boon to SoftBank. He has long invested around a grand vision of a digital transformation and ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI). Covid-19 means it is coming to pass much more rapidly than expected. Having mostly dumped its telecoms activities outside Japan, SoftBank is wholly devoted to Mr Son’s technophilic passions.
The digital surge is helping the group’s underperforming Vision Fund, a $99bn tech-investing vehicle. The fund started deploying capital in 2017 in a cloud of hype and optimism but lost its way as a result of a few spectacular failures, most notably the implosion of WeWork, an office-subleasing firm masquerading as a tech platform.
Even though SoftBank contributed only $28bn of the Vision Fund’s capital (equal to around 12% of the Japanese firm’s assets at the time), the mishaps hurt its share price and Mr Son’s reputation as a brilliant investor. That reputation was acquired after his purchase, starting in 2000, of a 34% stake in a Chinese e-commerce startup called Alibaba, now China’s most valuable listed company. The pandemic has hurt valuations of some Vision Fund firms in industries such as hospitality and transport. Mr Son has struggled to raise outside money for a sequel, Vision Fund 2, which was aiming for $108bn in capital but now makes do with small sums from SoftBank.
Unsurprisingly, then, these days the Japanese firm steers attention away from the Vision Fund. This leaves a mystery over where Mr Son will direct his energy and cash next. His selling spree did not end with the asset sales announced in March. This year SoftBank has completed an unprecedented number of disposals.
The firm has offloaded most of its mobile-telecoms assets, including another slice of its Japanese mobile business, SoftBank Corp, and the whole of Sprint, America’s fourth-largest mobile operator, and of Brightstar, a distributor of wireless gear. In September Mr Son announced the sale of Arm, a Britain-based chip-designer, for $40bn to Nvidia, a big American chipmaker. Arm was the lynchpin of Mr Son’s envisioned ecosystem of huge web- and AI-powered startups. Even some of his top executives were confounded to see it go.
Excluding the sale of Arm, which will take months to complete, SoftBank has amassed $52bn from the divestments. Investors do not expect the hyperactive Mr Son to sit on it for long. Three different paths appear open to him. One scenario is to activate long-discussed plans to take SoftBank private. Second, he may be preparing to take a large stake in one or more publicly listed technology giants. In September SoftBank pulled off another surprise when it emerged as the mystery “Nasdaq whale” that had snapped up billions of dollars’ worth of options in publicly listed stocks such as Amazon, Microsoft and other technology stars. A new asset-management arm had already bought nearly $4bn of shares in various tech giants. Third, he could double down on the Vision Fund model by putting more cash into the second vehicle and subsequent funds.
The rationale for a management buyout, which would be one of the largest in history, is the steep discount between SoftBank’s market value and the value of its underlying listed assets (see chart 1). That has narrowed thanks to a big run-up in SoftBank’s share price this year (owing in part to a large share buyback).
A buy-out would be feasible, says a big SoftBank investor, if it were structured as a bridge loan financed by selling more of the firm’s stake in Alibaba and other assets. But it would shrink SoftBank, enriching its billionaire boss but reducing his ability to invest in new growth areas, notes Oliver Matthew of CLSA, a broker. As such, says Mr Matthew, it looks fairly unlikely.
Investing in publicly listed tech giants could be more attractive. These firms are raking in big profits from the digital surge. Unlisted tech darlings, by contrast, are often still honing their business models or fighting for market share. Mr Son’s view, according to a person close to him, is that “size begets size, and the big companies are the ones to succeed in this environment”. New opportunities in private markets are less plentiful—partly because the Vision Fund has already bankrolled most of them.
The third way is less crazy than the first fund’s blow-ups suggest. Its results are looking better than a few months ago. So far it has deployed $82.6bn of capital in 92 firms. By the end of June it had risen in value by $3.5bn. By the end of September, say people close to it, it had gained another $4.5bn. This adds up to a 10% return, hardly stratospheric: the NASDAQ tech index has returned ten times as much in the past three years. But it continues a turnaround from early 2020, when the fund pulled its parent into a record $8.8bn annual loss. The fund has nine more years to run. In the spring it slashed valuations to conservative levels and now expects markups.
A hot market for technology initial public offerings (IPOs) will help. Since the fund’s inception nine of its firms have gone public. Prominent bets like Uber have disappointed. But all told, returns from the listings have been decent (see chart 2). And more IPOs are in the offing. DoorDash, a food-delivery firm, expects to list in November at a valuation of around $25bn. That would quintuple the value of Vision Fund’s $600m investment.
Its 37% stake in Coupang, South Korea’s Amazon, could prove similarly juicy if it went public at the level at which some have been trying to invest. According to investors in Asia, Coupang has received offers at a valuation as high as $30bn. And SoftBank’s portfolio contains holdings in some of China’s choicest private tech stars, including ByteDance, the biggest (which owns TikTok, a short-video app beloved of teenagers the world over), and Beike, a residential-property platform which has recently quadrupled in value.
Another reason for optimism is that the lessons from the Vision Fund’s error-filled first three years appear to have sunk in. The second fund is not trying to stuff too much money into young companies. Whereas Mr Son’s monster first fund refused to get out of bed for any investing opportunity under $100m, eight of its successor’s 13 investments are less than that. One is a piddling $20m. It looks far less risky.
What has not changed is Mr Son’s clout and unpredictability. Under pressure from Elliott, an activist hedge fund, he has made governance tweaks, adding a woman to the board. But Glass Lewis, a proxy firm, opposed another appointment. Allies with the stature to challenge him, such as Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder, have stepped down. Whatever Mr Son’s next act, he will serve chiefly his own impulses.■
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “What Masa does next”
That partly explains why the NRL was so angry when it learnt of The Daily Telegraph blunder. That anger was compounded by the fact the story that broke the embargo was critical of the voting system that saw Wighton knock off favourite Nathan Cleary for the game’s highest individual honour.
It’s the second time in as many years a News Corp publication has published the winner of the Dally M award before the announcement, with The Courier Mail releasing a story that referenced James Tedesco as the 2019 winner up to 30 minutes before the award was presented.
Staff at The Daily Telegraph had to sign non-disclosure agreements so they could see results after midday to prepare a liftout for the next day’s newspaper. However, the NRL will not pursue legal action because the mistake was deemed to be the result of human error on behalf of a Telegraph staff member rather than an act of deliberate sabotage.
The mistake has overshadowed Wighton’s achievement, with coach Ricky Stuart telling the Herald on Tuesday: “I think it’s totally disrespectful to any award winner who has to put up with such negativity.
“This is a wonderful achievement and he’s done it through a lot of consistency and hard work. He’s a wonderful example of what happens when you commit and work hard. Winning a Dally M puts Jack into a very elite category.”
The NRL was so desperate for Wighton to attend the awards night, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo had phoned Raiders boss Don Furner multiple times last week to strongly encourage the Raiders five-eighth to travel to Sydney from the nation’s capital.
Abdo even called Furner the morning after Canberra’s season-ending loss to the Storm last weekend, with Wighton later agreeing to leave the team’s end-of-season celebrations to attend the Dally M broadcast event.
Penrith were reluctant for Ivan and Nathan Cleary to attend during grand final week, knocking back a request from the NRL for the pair to undergo a COVID test in Redfern before attending the event.
Instead the Clearys were tested by the team doctor after Saturday night’s win against the Rabbitohs. Abdo and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys also had tests before being granted permission to be in close proximity to the players.
Wighton, who isn’t one of the five finalists for the RLPA Players’ Champion award voted by his peers, even admitted he thought Cleary would be crowned the game’s best on Monday night.
But the Raiders said the latest award capped a brilliant two years for Wighton who had turned his career around since narrowly avoiding jail for his well-publicised drunken attack on bystanders in the nation’s capital.
“It’s absolute just reward for Jack and it’s no surprise certain sections of the Sydney media could not accept it, but we’re used to it down here,” Furner said.
“Jack’s career could have gone one way or the other a couple of years ago. But the turnaround has been there for all to see. He’s a country boy at heart and has the wonderful support of his partner Monisha.”
“He didn’t pick the results on Monday night. I remember there was the same conjecture from some members of the Sydney media when a Roosters forward [Waerea-Hargreaves] missed out the Clive Churchill. We actually find it disrespectful to Jack. Good on him. He absolutely deserves it.”
Wighton held on by one vote to win the Dally M from Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson with Cleary a further point behind.
The five-eighth was rested from the final regular-season game and quipped he would have been filthy with Stuart had he lost.
The Dally M judges
“Sticky would have been barred,” Wighton said. “Never did I dream I’d be in this position wearing the medal around my neck.”
Wighton will enjoy some down time with his family before entering the Blues bubble on Friday, something he was never going to pass up.
“I’ve missed enough opportunities in my life through being silly and sometimes making the wrong decision,” Wighton said. “It wasn’t an option. I’m taking every opportunity I get from now on and not let one slip again.”
Wighton could not pick the winner of the Grand Final, said Melbourne and Cameron Smith were last Friday “on as different level” while Nathan Cleary and the Panthers were in outstanding touch.
“Nathan is exceptional, and it’s only when you’re sitting in there [at the Dally Ms] you get reminded how old he is, he’s 22, and to be leading a bunch of young men around like he is at the Panthers, and to be doing it with so much class, it’s unreal,” Wighton said. “He’s a superstar of the game and he has a massive future.”
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Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.