Marshall Govt defends vaccine rollout as data shows SA lags nation


The Marshall Government says South Australia will “scale up” its coronavirus vaccination rollout in coming weeks, as data released overnight showed it had administered just 57 per cent of its available doses – the lowest rate in the nation.

The Opposition seized on the figures – released by the federal government late yesterday – to declare SA’s utilisation rate “the worst in the country” – 17 per cent lower than Victoria and Queensland.

But Health Minister Stephen Wade argued the speed of South Australia’s rollout “remains closely aligned with our share of the national population”.

As of yesterday, the state had administered 37,656 doses of the 561,734 given in state and territory clinics around the country – around 6.7 per cent, which Wade said corresponded “to our share of the national population, which is 6.9 per cent”.

“This is a far better indicator of how our vaccine rollout is tracking,” he insisted.

SA had also accounted for 740 of the 3,166 doses administered in state and territory clinics in the 24 hours to Sunday, April 11.

Federal data released yesterday

“It should be noted that the amount of vaccines SA has administered in the past 24 hours is well above our proportion of the national population, as we administered more doses than any other state other than Victoria,” Wade said in a statement.

“Opening more clinics across the state where they are needed, as well as establishing a vaccination hub at the Adelaide Showgrounds, will help us to further scale up our rollout in the coming weeks.”

However, SA’s rollout figure equates to 2.13 for every 100 people in the state, the second lowest per capita figure in the country – behind only NSW, which has suspended its vaccination program.

Labor’s health spokesman Chris Picton said there was “an issue with vaccine supply” in parts of Australia, “but not here in SA where we’ve got over 30,000 doses sitting in the fridge not being used”.

“The federal government’s figures show we’ve got the worst utilisation rate in the country – we can’t allow that to continue,” he said.

“This is not something that’s happened overnight – we’ve consistently had the second-lowest per capita vaccination rate.”

The data shows a further 616,568 doses have been administered via the Commonwealth, from which SA has given another 12,449 in aged and disability care facilities and 39,657 in primary care.

The latter is largely administered by GPs, with Australian Medical Association SA president Dr Chris Moy saying the rollout is “not as simple as just putting the vaccine into people’s arms”.

“Nevertheless, we still could all do better – that’s in every sector,” he told InDaily.

“It still needs to be improved – it certainly has not been helped by a combination of needing a change in direction, and the negativity of the media to some degree.”

He said the media and public “have got to support the changes” to the rollout, with AstraZeneca last week declared unsuitable for recipients under 50, arguing “the fact is we’re extremely lucky to have safe and effective vaccines, and that’s been lost at the moment”.

He said the delay in state utilisation rates could be due to the lag between first and second doses, “but having said that, we could still do better”.

“There’s been frustrations with delays in deliveries, and frustrations with the change in provision, but I don’t think anybody has any idea how frickin’ big this is – it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” he said.

“This is huge – last week when there was a pivot there was frustration, I think GPs got a lot of phone calls… but it’s no different to what’s been happening right through the pandemic, where we’re dealing with rapid changes [and] all of us have to roll with the punches, because we just need to – this is too big to fail.”

Moy said “our main job at the moment is to get that AstraZeneca out to over-50s as fast as we can, because they’re the biggest risk population”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday abandoned his Government’s previous rollout target after Australian medical authorities recommended people under 50 get the Pfizer vaccine instead of AstraZeneca because of rare blood clotting concerns.

In a video message posted to Facebook, he conceded not all Australians will get their first dose by the end of the year, even though the Government has doubled its order of the Pfizer vaccine – but said targets were not practical as COVID “writes its own rules”.

“You don’t get to set the agenda,” he said.

“You have to be able to respond quickly to when things change and we’ve had to deal with a lot of changes.

“Rather than set targets that can get knocked about by every to and fro of international supply chains and other disruptions that can occur, we are just getting on with it.”

Launching the first of a series of daily vaccination data updates to be published online, he said Australia’s rate of 1.2 million to date was comparable to other major countries.

Meanwhile, Australia’s medicine regulator has today identified a second case of rare blood clots believed to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration released a safety alert announcing the possible link. The blood clots affected a woman aged in her 40s who was vaccinated in Western Australia.

“The person remains in hospital receiving treatment and is in a stable condition,” the regulator said.

It is the second Australian report of a case of rare blood clots after a 44-year-old Melbourne man developed the condition following his AstraZeneca vaccination last month.

Expert advisers to the TGA have concluded the latest incident is similar to blood clotting cases seen in Europe and the United Kingdom.

There have been about 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Australia, so the two cases equate to a frequency of one in every 350,000 people.

The United Kingdom has found the overall risk of these rare blood clots was approximately one in 250,000 people who received the vaccine.

Also today, Australia recorded its first COVID-19 death for 2021 after a man in his 80s died in a Brisbane hospital.

Queensland Health minister Yvette D’Ath said the Australian man succumbed to the disease overnight after returning from the Philippines.

It’s the first COVID death since a NSW man in his 70s died in late December from respiratory complications after being infected with COVID-19 in March 2020.

-with AAP

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Philip ‘grandfather of the nation’: Andrew


The death of Prince Philip has deprived Britain of its grandfather and left a huge void for his wife of 73 years Queen Elizabeth, the couple’s son Prince Andrew says.

Andrew described Philip as a “remarkable man” as he left a private service in Windsor, where his father died on Friday at the age of 99.

“It’s a great loss,” he said on Sunday.

“I think the way I would put it is we’ve lost almost the grandfather of the nation.

“And I feel very sorry and supportive of my mother, who’s feeling it probably more than everybody else.”

He said the family was rallying around his 94-year-old mother, adding she was stoical in the face of a loss that she had described as “having left a huge void in her life”.

Andrew has rarely been seen in public since he stepped down from official duties in 2019 over the controversy surrounding his association with the disgraced US financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Prayers were said for Philip at the private service in All Saints Chapel in Windsor Great Park west of London, echoing church services across the country.

As part of eight days of national mourning, people gathered outside Windsor Castle and other royal palaces to leave flowers, while religious and political leaders expressed support for the Queen, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch.

A note attached to a Royal Navy peak cap left amongst flowers at Windsor, a tribute to Philip’s service in the navy, read: “God bless you Sir, you were an example to us all.”

A Greek prince, Philip married Elizabeth in 1947, five years before she ascended to the throne.

He helped the monarchy modernise in the post-World War Two period and supported the Queen through numerous crises over the years.

His funeral will be held next Saturday, with long-established plans redrawn and scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The prince will be given a ceremonial royal funeral rather than a state funeral. There will be no public processions, and it will be held entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not attend, so that there is more room for family members, as UK funerals are limited to 30 mourners amid the pandemic.

John Major, who was British prime minister from 1990 to 1997, said he hoped the Queen would be given the time she needs to grieve after she lost her husband of 73 years.

He said being the head of state was a “very lonely position in many ways”, and the queen would feel the loss of a man she had relied on for decades.

“I know she is the monarch, I know she has responsibilities, but she has earned the right to have a period of privacy in which to grieve with her family,” he told the BBC.

Union flags will fly at half-mast at royal residences and government buildings until the day after the funeral. The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning.

Major, who was guardian to Princes William and Harry after their mother Diana died, said he also hoped the funeral would help reunite the family after it was rocked last month by an interview given by Harry and Meghan to Oprah Winfrey.

During the interview, Meghan said her pleas for help while she felt suicidal were ignored and that an unnamed member of the family had asked how dark their unborn child’s skin might be.

Harry will return from the United States, where the couple now live, to attend the funeral while Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, will not, on her doctor’s advice.

“The friction that we are told has arisen is a friction better ended as speedily as possible,” Major said.

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Federal government accused of failing the nation over AstraZeneca vaccine on Q+A as Martin Iles defends Israel Folau



The Australian government has been accused on Q+A of “failing at the first hurdle” when it comes to the nation’s vaccine rollout and problems with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The show aired on Thursday night following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference where he and his team announced the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has a possible link to rare blood clots in a very small number of recipients, would no longer be given to Australians under the age of 50.

Instead, they will be given the Pfizer vaccine, meaning Australia’s already behind-schedule vaccine rollout threatened to slow further.

On Q+A, multiple panellists criticised Mr Morrison for “backing the wrong horse” and not taking a wider approach to acquiring more different vaccines such as those from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

“Australians really set the global standard in looking after one another, locking down in a way that reduced our COVID numbers, and our reward for that was meant to be that we would be able to get back on track and for us to maybe get the jump-start on other countries,” said federal Labor MP Anika Wells, from Queensland.

“It comes down to, I think, the Prime Minister’s judgement about the vaccines that he chose, the numbers of those doses and why.

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“When the UK, the US, chose other pathways like Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.”

Asked by host Hamish Macdonald if she was saying the Australian government had “backed the wrong horse”, she responded in the affirmative.

“We’ve been saying since last year, we need more horses in the race. We need five or six different vaccines.”

Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman refuted the claim Australia did not have enough vaccine options and said the government had invested in five.

But Indigenous lawyer Teela Reid also said the government had failed and accused them of being incompetent before also saying they had really failed First Nations people.

“I think the country needs options available to be vaccinated,” Ms Reid said.

“It has been absolutely the people who have come together and kept us safe, locked down and done the right thing — and I just think that, you know, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the majority of us are under 50.

“I think that it’s just been completely reckless and unacceptable in a developed country that we are here now and we’re still waiting for the option to be vaccinated.”

While Ms Reid and Ms Wells took the Prime Minister to task over the rollout, other panellists, journalist Antoinette Lattouf and Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Martyn Iles, felt the slow rollout was a blessing in disguise when it came to not too many Australians receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ms Lattouf said this was a good problem to have while Mr Iles said the pivot in the vaccine strategy was not a massive problem before calling on people to leave people who have vaccine hesitancy alone.

“We don’t need to manufacture a crisis over the vaccine when we just don’t have one, ” Mr Iles said.

“It’s turning out that there’s some benefits of watching the rest of the world go just a little bit ahead of us.

“There are people in the community who have vaccine hesitancy and feel as though they, in good conscience, can’t take the vaccine.

“I actually want to go in to bat for them, I think we can respect someone’s conscience and achieve public health outcomes possibly at the same time.

“Everyone who wants it should get it [but] there’ll be some people who don’t want it, I reckon leave them alone, because the protection of conscience matters.”

‘Melanin count doesn’t change my access to truth’

Issues of gender bias in the halls of Parliament have been front and centre of late and one issue that has been raised is quotas.

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Most of the Q+A panel was for the possible introduction of them except for Mr Iles, who drew scorn for, as he put it, being “the stereotypical white guy”.

“Quotas say a couple of things,” Mr Iles said.

“Some of them might be good, but some of them I’m concerned about.

“One of the things it says is that a parliament that is majority man or majority women, or majority one race or another cannot govern in the common interest, cannot govern for the common good, cannot actually seek after what is right and true.

“The melanin count in my skin doesn’t change my access to truth, it doesn’t change my ability to do good.”

It was then that Ms Lattouf immediately called him out.

“But it changes your lived experience,” she said.

“It changes your lens, it changes where you are in terms of privilege.

“It doesn’t mean that you can’t have empathy, it doesn’t mean that you’re not clever and good at your job but you don’t have skin in the game when it comes to women’s issues, when it comes to Indigenous issues.

Regardless of quotas, Ms Reid said they were not the major issue and said other issues should first be examined.

“If you look at the experience of some women at the top, take for example Julia Gillard, that was a horrendous experience to witness as a young woman, but also I can’t even imagine what she’s experienced, and that’s looking at a white woman,” she said.

“I wouldn’t even want to know what a black woman experiences in those contexts.”

Iles defends ACL support of Folau

Mr Iles, who has long been a staunch supporter of former rugby league and union star Israel Folau, featured prominently throughout the show.

In 2019, Mr Iles stood side-by-side with Folau and even helped launch a fund to support the then-rugby star in his legal battle with Rugby Australia after fundraising site GoFundMe pulled down his page asking for financial help for the fight.

Rugby Australia said they had sacked Folau for breaching their social media code of conduct for religious posts he made which also preached homophobic views, before the sides eventually settled.

This week, the Australian Christian Lobby spent a large sum of money on an advertisement in The Daily Telegraph to pressure the NRL into allowing Folau to return to rugby league.

Mr Iles was asked to defend that use of money and his relationship with Folau and the ongoing support he is receiving from the ACL.

Mr Iles began by saying Folau had been misrepresented in the media.

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“The media have repeatedly said that Israel condemned homosexuals to hell, that is not the overall point of the post that he made.

“What he said was that sinners are destined for judgement, and yes, Christians understand that as hell … but then he turned to the other side of the coin and he said, ‘and forgiveness awaits to all who repent and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ’.

“He said all of that in his post. Either you believe both sides of that coin — in which case, you are free, you have condemnation and salvation, you have judgement and release, you have repentance, you have faith — or you believe neither side.

Mr Iles rejected a comment by Ms Latouff that Folau had spread hate, saying that was not his motive.

But Mr Zimmerman, who in 2015 became Australia’s first openly gay MP, said that was in his view not the case with Folau.

“I’m not a religious person, but I was brought up in a religious family in the Uniting Church. It may not have been about hate, but it was certainly about love.

Mr Iles then went on to take aim at Rugby Australia and accused them of lying during the 2019 battle with Folau.

“He did not break a contract or a clause, if he did, it would have been relied upon by the tribunal that disciplined him.

“It wasn’t relied on because it didn’t exist.

“That’s a lie that was put out, I believe, by Rugby Australia to try and ruin his reputation.”

Watch the full episode of Q+A on iview.

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One Nation to back Coalition’s industrial relations bill in exchange for minor changes | Industrial relations


One Nation has offered the government support for the industrial relations omnibus bill in return for a suite of minor amendments, including exempting small business from having to offer casuals conversion to permanency.

If the Coalition agrees to the changes it will be just one Senate vote short of passing the bill, which business groups have urged as a means to aid economic recovery but unions warn will undermine job security and pay.

One Nation senator, Malcolm Roberts, told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday the bill should be passed this week, before jobkeeper wage subsidies are phased out at the end of March. Delay or failure this week would mean the bill could not be dealt with until May.

Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff is now in the box seat to decide the bill’s fate. Centre Alliance has so far called for arbitration of employer refusals to convert casual employees to permanent work; and has expressed concerns about extending employer powers to vary workers’ duties and location of work.

Griff told Guardian Australia “there needs to be a formal process” to dispute refusal to convert casuals. “Whether that is arbitration or other meaningful options is up for negotiation.”

On Wednesday evening, senator Rex Patrick urged Griff to contribute to the Senate debate, arguing it was “disrespectful” to hold the casting vote without explaining his position to South Australian voters.

One Nation wants the length of project-life pay deals cut from eight years to six, with built-in pay increases in line with national minimum wage rises, and a minimum project size of $500m.

The amendments would remove the power of the industrial relations minister to allow longer pay deals for projects worth $250m or more.

The other One Nation amendments would:

  • Require a review of the new definition of casual employment after 12 months.

  • Allow casuals to request permanent work after six months, not 12.

  • Exempt small business employers (with 15 or fewer employees) from the requirement to offer casual conversion.

  • Terminate old pay deals struck under the 2005 WorkChoices regime from mid-2022.

One Nation also wants to bolster arrangements for part-time employees to agree to work extra hours at ordinary time rates, so that after 12 months the employees have a right to make the change permanent.

Roberts said the bill is “necessary to protect small and large business”, which need “certainty and confidence” about the definition of casual employment and face the risk of backpay claims for misclassified casuals.

Roberts said One Nation had accepted the government’s definition of casual employment – that it is determined by agreement at the start of a job – because alternatives were a “minefield” that would result in “unintended consequences”.

The bill would allow employers who misclassified casual employees to reduce their backpay by the amount of the casual loading they had already been paid.

Roberts said this was fair because “as an Australian we don’t double dip, we don’t expect to be paid for something twice”.

In addition to One Nation siding with the government over casuals, unions are also concerned the minor party now supports procedural changes to bargaining, such as the 21-day time limit for the Fair Work Commission to approve pay deals.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, has urged the Senate crossbench to oppose the bill by arguing that the Australian Democrats siding with John Howard to reduce workers rights was part of the reason the party “is no longer around”.

“Supporting this bill would be a shocking decision, working people want to know that lawmakers are on their side and have the guts to stand up to the Morrison government and big business.”

Since unveiling the omnibus bill in December, the government has struggled to win support for it.

In February it was forced to ditch a controversial change allowing pay deals to cut pay relative to the award. The Coalition’s negotiating efforts have suffered an unexpected setback with industrial relations minister Christian Porter on leave and acting minister Michaelia Cash tasked with shepherding it through the Senate.

Senators Patrick and Jacqui Lambie are unlikely to support the bill, after putting forward amendments blocking four of its five chapters, which would leave only increased penalties and criminal offences for wage theft.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Business Council of Australia chief executive, Jennifer Westacott, accused Labor, the Greens, Patrick and Lambie of blocking provisions that would strengthen casuals’ right to request permanent work, and part-time workers to pick up extra hours.

Failure to pass the bill would consign “enterprise bargaining to a slow and painful death”, Westacott said, arguing the changes were “careful and modest”.

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‘Listen to Dr. Fauci’: Analysts, Levin level Biden’s ‘demagogue’ address to the nation


by WorldTribune Staff, March 12, 2021 Analysts noted that Joe Biden, in his Thursday prime time address, made several false claims, failed to give credit to President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, and threatened to re-impose lockdowns if his orders aren’t obeyed. All in a day’s work for Team Biden. Of course Big Tech didn’t […]

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Tens of thousands mourn Michael Somare at state funeral for PNG’s ‘father of the nation’


A stadium in Port Moresby has been packed out for the state funeral service of former prime minister Michael Somare, known as “the father of the nation”.

The “Grand Chief” died of pancreatic cancer on February 26 aged 84, with the government declaring two weeks of mourning, ending with Friday’s four-hour service at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium.

PNG’s Post-Courier newspaper reported on Friday morning that the stadium was packed to capacity with more than 20,000 people, with one group storming the gates and overpowering marshals to force their way in.

Then Australian PM John Howard, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare at an APEC meeting in 2007.

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The funeral service, to be led by Cardinal Sir John Ribat, was due to start at 1pm local time and finish at 5pm.

Sir Michael’s wife, Lady Veronica, arrived at the stadium in a wheelchair with her sons, daughters and grandchildren, the Post-Courier reported.

There has been a recent surge in coronavirus cases in PNG, prompting the Somare family to urge people to stay COVID-safe and watch the service from home live on television.

“Sir Michael would have wanted us all to keep each other safe, especially during these unprecented times. Stay home if you can and follow the directions of health authorities,” Sir Michael’s daughter Betha said in a statement.

Sir Michael was PNG’s first prime minister following the nation’s independence in 1975 and had later stints in the top job, serving 17 years in that role.

He also served as foreign minister, opposition leader and governor of his home province of East Sepik before retiring from politics in 2017.

Sir Michael’s body is to be flown to East Sepik for burial at Wewak.

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Greens claim Brisbane seat is second-most winnable in the nation


Ms Butler won with 31 per cent of the first-preference vote at the 2019 federal election, while the Greens achieved a 6.7 per cent swing in their favour.

On Thursday, the Greens will announce Max Chandler-Mather as the party’s candidate for Griffith for the coming federal election, which could be held in just five months.

Mr Chandler-Mather – who contested Griffith in 2019 – said he had lived in the area his whole life and attended West End State School and Brisbane State High.

“Griffith is the second-most winnable seat for the Greens in the country,” he said.

“We only need a 3.5 per cent swing off Labor, and after Jonathan Sri (The Gabba) and Amy MacMahon’s (South Brisbane) wins in the same area, we think we’ve got a good shot.

“We aim to win by knocking on every door in the electorate with hundreds of volunteers chatting to tens of thousands of people – it’s how we won The Gabba ward and South Brisbane and it’s how we’ll win Griffith.”

Mr Chandler-Mather was the Greens’ head strategist for the past four years and responsible for drafting the party’s policy platforms for the past two state elections.

The Greens believe Macnamara in Melbourne – held by Labor – is their most winnable seat, and they are yet to announce other federal candidates in Queensland.

Prior to the Greens, Mr Chandler-Mather worked as a union organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union, and he left the Labor Party in 2013.

The Greens have historically made big claims about the seats that are within their grasp, both federal and state, which did not eventuate.

Before the 2019 federal election, the Greens believed Mr Chandler-Mather could snatch Griffith as they only needed one in five Labor voters to change their mind.

But they were unsuccessful.

At the time, Ms Butler said the Greens would need about 31,000 primary votes to be in a position to win – double the amount they received in 2016 – and suggested the minor party was trying to generate “buzz” to drum up volunteers and donations.

However, sometimes those predictions come true.

At the 2017 state election, the Greens believed they could topple the LNP’s Scott Emerson in Maiwar, despite polling that showed Labor was in a strong position.

And indeed, Greens MP Michael Berkman won the seat.

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The Greens also argued South Brisbane was within their reach at the 2017 election.

While Labor’s Jackie Trad kept her seat at that election, helped by LNP preferences, Greens contender Ms MacMahon snagged South Brisbane in October 2020.

The next federal election could be held any time between August 7 this year and May 21, 2022.

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Greens claim Brisbane seat is second-most winnable in the nation


Ms Butler won with 31 per cent of the first-preference vote at the 2019 federal election, while the Greens achieved a 6.7 per cent swing in their favour.

On Thursday, the Greens will announce Max Chandler-Mather as the party’s candidate for Griffith for the coming federal election, which could be held in just five months.

Mr Chandler-Mather – who contested Griffith in 2019 – said he had lived in the area his whole life and attended West End State School and Brisbane State High.

“Griffith is the second-most winnable seat for the Greens in the country,” he said.

“We only need a 3.5 per cent swing off Labor, and after Jonathan Sri (The Gabba) and Amy MacMahon’s (South Brisbane) wins in the same area, we think we’ve got a good shot.

“We aim to win by knocking on every door in the electorate with hundreds of volunteers chatting to tens of thousands of people – it’s how we won The Gabba ward and South Brisbane and it’s how we’ll win Griffith.”

Mr Chandler-Mather was the Greens’ head strategist for the past four years and responsible for drafting the party’s policy platforms for the past two state elections.

The Greens believe Macnamara in Melbourne – held by Labor – is their most winnable seat, and they are yet to announce other federal candidates in Queensland.

Prior to the Greens, Mr Chandler-Mather worked as a union organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union, and he left the Labor Party in 2013.

The Greens have historically made big claims about the seats that are within their grasp, both federal and state, which did not eventuate.

Before the 2019 federal election, the Greens believed Mr Chandler-Mather could snatch Griffith as they only needed one in five Labor voters to change their mind.

But they were unsuccessful.

At the time, Ms Butler said the Greens would need about 31,000 primary votes to be in a position to win – double the amount they received in 2016 – and suggested the minor party was trying to generate “buzz” to drum up volunteers and donations.

However, sometimes those predictions come true.

At the 2017 state election, the Greens believed they could topple the LNP’s Scott Emerson in Maiwar, despite polling that showed Labor was in a strong position.

And indeed, Greens MP Michael Berkman won the seat.

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The Greens also argued South Brisbane was within their reach at the 2017 election.

While Labor’s Jackie Trad kept her seat at that election, helped by LNP preferences, Greens contender Ms MacMahon snagged South Brisbane in October 2020.

The next federal election could be held any time between August 7 this year and May 21, 2022.

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Housing affordability already declining across the nation, on the cusp of being ‘obliterated’


Housing affordability is back on the decline across Australia and could be “obliterated” by surging property prices, a new report shows.

Rapidly rising house prices and larger homes loans saw a deterioration in housing affordability last quarter, according to the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s (REIA) latest Housing Affordability Report, released Wednesday.

Nationally, the report’s measure for housing affordability — the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments —  increased 0.9 percentage points to 34.8 per cent over the December quarter, just months after the nation entered its first recession in almost 30 years.

Although housing affordability was still better year-on-year (by 0.7 percentage points nationally), it worsened across New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory over 2020.

The housing market had defied predictions, said REIA president Adrian Kelly, with house prices rising across the country – largely driven by demand from first-home buyers, who increased their market share by 50.4 per cent over the year.

“Seeing this trend in conversion to home ownership is particularly great news given the challenges many tenants and investors faced over the pandemic, however surging house prices could see housing affordability obliterated unless measures to improve supply are implemented. This particularly applies to regional parts of Australia,” Mr Kelly said.

New South Wales saw the largest decline in affordability, with the proportion of income put towards repayments climbing 2.3 percentage points over the quarter to 44.6 per cent. It was followed by Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory with jumps of 2.2 and 1.6 percentage points.

Affordability snapshot
The proportion of weekly family income required to meet average loan repayments and the median rent. Photo: REIA Housing Affordability Report, December Qtr.

Rental affordability also declined, Mr Kelly said, with the proportion of income put towards rent increasing to 24 per cent, up 0.4 percentage points over the year. Tasmania was the least affordable state, with tenants required to put 29.5 per cent of the average family income towards the median rent for a three-bedroom house.

Mr Kelly said housing affordability would only come under more pressure as investors returned to the market and immigration eventually picked up when borders reopened.

“We’re certainly not expecting affordability to improve and that’s simply because we don’t have enough homes to go around and sell and that’s because we haven’t been building enough homes for the last two decades,” he said.

The shift to regional areas from the big cities, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, had exacerbated affordability constraints in regional markets with tight housing supply – particularly in regional cities and centres along the east coast, he added.

“You’ve got long-term locals who have lived in these areas, who may have been paying $250 a week in rent and it’s now costing $400 and that’s happened virtually overnight.”

A national housing strategy was needed to ensure adequate housing supply, Mr Kelly said, as was a reduction in the cost and time involved in getting housing approved. The government also needed to look to rezoning reform, land release programs and an extension of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, among other measures, to support supply, he said.

Cuts to interest rates helped improve the affordability of mortgage repayments – and ultimately spurred on more buyer demand – but rates would need to go up a long way before they cooled the market, he added.

The Reserve Bank of Australia, which left the cash rate on hold at a record low of 0.1 per cent on Tuesday, was unlikely to use the rate to try curb rising prices, said Sarah Hunter, chief economist for BIS Oxford Economics.

Instead, it was likely to work with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to rollout macro-prudential measures if needed, she said, but expected headwinds – such as the lagging apartment sector and lack of migration – to put a halt to rapid price growth before it got to that.

Dr Hunter said affordability had still been better year-on-year last quarter, despite price gains, as rate cuts did create a window of improved affordability for repayments before house prices responded to the change. Now that prices were rising, affordability was on the decline but still better than the previous peak.

“We’ve had four years of income growth and interest rate cuts … [but rising prices] will chew into that at some point, so if [the current growth] did keep going we’d see some intervention,” she said.

“Fundamentally, in the long term what impacts the price of property is supply and demand … if you want to permanently reduce the price … you need to shift that balance in favour of supply,” she added.

Professor Peter Phibbs, director of the Henry Halloran Trust at the University of Sydney, said supply should be increased – particularly the supply of social and affordable housing – but that it would not fix housing affordability, noting new supply in the capital cities was often limited to new apartments, or houses “in the middle of nowhere” that were already in limited demand.

New supply also takes time to deliver, so rate hikes or tighter macro-prudential measures would have more impact on property prices short term.  The scheduled end of HomeBuilder, and cutting back other market incentives, would also help take the heat out of the market, he said.

“People are reacting the way they always do when rates go down, the price isn’t the sticker on their houses it’s the repayments that come out of their pay packet … because that amount has gone down people can get into the market who haven’t been in the market before, or they can upgrade,” he said.

Thank you for dropping in to My Local Pages and seeing this story involving “What’s On in the City of Brisbane” named “Housing affordability already declining across the nation, on the cusp of being ‘obliterated’”. This story was shared by My Local Pages as part of our holiday events and news aggregator services.

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Malaysia: Unicorn Nation – hustlers wanted


  • Slow, organic growth method not the way to approach disruption
  • Enough of think small, build organic, time to think big, go global

In part 1 of this article I presented five macro elements that are roadblocks towards creating unicorns in Malaysia. In part 2 I will look at the micro elements of entrepreneurs and their businesses to see if they are ready to become unicorns.

 

1. Vision and Ambition

Over the last two decades I have trained and coached hundreds of companies (700 at last count) in my personal capacity and in the various programs my company Proficeo has run. I’ve also invested in more than 30 companies including via my accelerator ScaleUp Malaysia.

The one issue that stands out for me is a lack of vision on what they want to achieve and not having buckets of ambition to create a unicorn. You can’t create a unicorn if you don’t have guts and ambition. Even if they do, it’s a small ambition mostly centered on Malaysia and perhaps the region. Frankly, I have rarely come across an entrepreneur who truly believes he or she can build a company with potential to generate even US$100 million in revenue, what more create a a billion Dollar unicorn.

Perhaps they are conditioned by the environment to think fund raising is tough, they don’t have the right talent or even being conditioned to think that Malaysian companies just cannot achieve such lofty targets. Even when I suggest higher targets they question their ability to achieve them. I also notice a sense of fear when talking about lofty ambitions. Yes funding is tough, but you’re not giving yourself a chance if you lack this ambition.

Accelerators, coaching programs and mentors can help you build a better company, but we cannot compensate for lack of ambition. Building a unicorn needs audacity and ambition, both of which are sorely lacking among Malaysian entrepreneurs.

 

2. Hustle on Performance

To build a successful business you need to be smart but you also need to hustle. Hustle customers, investors and your own team. You need that “never say die” attitude, the kind of attitude that goes after every sale with only success in mind. The kind of person who can persuade customers to sign on the dotted line and also energise your team to overachieve.

There are often negative connotations to being a hustler, but if you want to thrive and succeed then you need to be a positive hustler. You need to hustle on performance – set high targets, push your team to achieve targets, replace people who can’t deliver and ensure the entire company is performance driven.

Frankly I rarely find founders who are performance driven like this. I have come across too many entrepreneurs who do things slowly, don’t push themselves and their team hard enough, don’t set lofty goals and don’t aim for the sky. They are also too paternal or maternal, and mollycoddle their staff too much and let them get away with mediocre performance. The slo-mo, organic growth, low performance method will lead to low levels of success, if at all and definitely not unicorn level of success.

 

3. Born Global

Founders in small markets can never build a unicorn, that’s a given. As I showed in part 1, having a large homogeneous market is a primary requirement for building a unicorn. Southeast Asia (SEA) may be a large market, but it is not homogeneous with multiple languages, regulations and cultures. It takes a lot of effort to build a SEA play and you’ll need to raise a lot of money. Many VC funded companies also failed to build successful SEA companies.

Many Malaysian companies build products for the home market, grow organically and then when they want to grow regionally they start country by country and start localising the product country by country. You can imagine how difficult this is going to be and essentially you’re building products organically market by market. This is no way to build a unicorn.

Companies in small markets like Xero, Atlassian and even Skype from Estonia built products for the global market from day one because they knew that they had to be born global if they ever wanted to achieve unicorn status. I’m not saying they wanted to be unicorns, but they wanted to be highly successful companies and they cannot do that by just serving their own markets. Imagine if Xero was to just serve a market of 5 million people in New Zealand, how small they will be today.

I wish we had more entrepreneurs who thought like this and built products like this instead of thinking small from day one and building organically market by market. That is the only way to build a unicorn out of a small nation like Malaysia – think big and be global from day 1.

 

4. Build a Great Team

I have seen many good founders and reasonably good teams but not great teams. How often have we heard that the team is the most important part of any company, that you need an awesome team to build a great company, yet almost all the companies I have worked with don’t have great teams. It’s also been said that you need to hire people who are smarter than you and yet I rarely see that too. Yes, often the problem is having sufficient funds to hire them, but I’ve seen companies raise funding and yet still don’t do this because the talent is very costly. The question they should ask themselves is how do you build a successful company and if you need the money to hire the best why not raise sufficient funds for that, instead of raising money and still hiring mediocre teams.

 

Scale

The final problem I see is that even when companies have built some success, instead of building on that success and ramping up on the model, they diversify instead into other things and start experimenting with new things, build extensions to their product, everything but double down on their existing success to just scale up the business.

It gets more difficult when they are probably ready to go outside their market but instead try and expand with additional products within their market instead. This doubling down on success is what’s needed to scale the business but it seems to be a challenge for them. Sometimes it’s a fear of the unknown outside Malaysia other times it’s a confidence issue. Until they break this mentality of fear, growth will usually slow down and it will plateau. This is the reason why we have hundreds of companies with flat revenues after 5 or more years and they struggle to survive.

 

Can we build unicorns out of Malaysia?

Let’s be honest, it’s not going to be easy. There are fundamental macro issues that need to be fixed and entrepreneurs themselves need to do more.

I am glad to say that the funding issue has seen a positive development with the creation of Penjana Kapital and the soon to be available RM1.57 billion of funding in the ecosystem. I do hope the funding is allocated as planned by end of this month. They have adopted the recommendations that my Technopreneur Funding Task Force made in early 2019 and allocated funds for all stages of growth including for Series B and C, the first time in Malaysia. This is a good start and hopefully there is sufficient funding annually to keep the availability of funds in the ecosystem at a healthy level. Other macro issues still remain challenging and we can never overcome the market size issue.

All the micro issues I mentioned however, are founder focused. The only way to create unicorns is for founders to change their mindsets to build global instead of local. Malaysia can be a test bed to test out products initially, but founders must always have a global mindset from day one. They need vision and ambition to attract top talent and investors, they need to have a never lose mentality but they do need products that are built for the world.

All of these elements need to come together in one great package, only then can we create unicorns.

Can we create unicorns in Malaysia? There are unicorns from other equally small markets that have done it. They have shown us the way and founders need to study these companies and emulate what they did and how they did it. It can be done and I for one would love it if we proved the naysayers wrong and built some awesome unicorns. If you think you have what it takes then I urge you to participate in the next intake of ScaleUp Malaysia (www.scaleup.my) as we run the gauntlet in search of a truly Malaysian unicorn.


Dr. Sivapalan has a Ph.D in Venture Capital from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the Co-Founder and Senior Partner of ScaleUp Malaysia Accelerator (www.scaleup.my) and Co-Founder of Proficeo Consultants (www.proficeo.com). He is the author of a book on business innovation – Blue Sky Innovation (available online at: https://amzn.to/34sefo2) and is currently writing a book on Startup Valuation. Visit his LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/drsivapalan/

Thank you for checking out this post regarding current Asian news published as “Malaysia: Unicorn Nation – hustlers wanted”. This article was presented by My Local Pages as part of our local and national news services.

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