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May, 2019

Retailers feeling the pressure from expansion of overseas entrants

Retailers are facing pressure from the overseas brands, higher rents and lack of demand for discretionary items. Photo: Rob Homer RZHThe appointment of voluntary administrators to the owner of the Marcs and David Lawrence brands, Webster Holdings on Thursday, reflects the combativeness of the retail sector and how perilous if can be if consumers swing away.
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Fuelling this is the arrival of the overseas brands, which while not quite direct competitors to the Webster labels, are still turning the screws on local retailers.

The shift in work practices, with more people working from home and increasing casualisation, has also led to less need for business attire across all genders.

Higher rents and a large foot print of stores makes life hard for retailers, particularly when cash is now needed and used for others things, such as mobile devices, and a greater variety of leisure activities.

That leaves less money in the household kitty for discretionary spending and apparel has felt the biggest pressure. This also forces the stores into longer and deeper periods of discounting in order to clear the stock.

According to the receivers, insolvency specialist Rodgers Reidy, they will now begin a review of Webster Holdings, leaving 1200 workers in limbo.

Reflecting the march of the overseas players is the Swedish clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz, H&M, which  reported a rise in fourth quarter net profits, despite pressure on costs by the strong US dollar.

The company reported profits of 5.9 billion kronor ($A884 million), compared to 5.5 billion kronor in the corresponding period the year before.

The group operated 4351 stores, including franchises, at the end of November. That was an additional 427 stores compared to 2015. In , it continues to open more stores across capital cities and regional areas.

But it is not just the individual retailers putting on the pressure, as investors are also snapping up the malls.

According to the CBRE in its latest Retail MarketView data, 2016 had a record $1.8 billion in CBD retail transactions as foreign investors continue their assault on the n retail investment market.

The CBRE fourth quarter 2016 figures reveal that nationally, retail yields compressed on average 50 basis points last year, with the largest compressions experienced by neighbourhood shopping centres, being 60bps and large format retail, also 60bps.

CBRE senior research manager, , Danny Lee, said the contribution from foreign investors increased in 2016 to account for 30 per cent of total investments, an increase over the 25 per cent experienced in 2015 and well above the long-term trend of 10 per cent.

“Foreign investors have a lower required return expectation than domestic investors and have purchased some of the largest retail assets in 2016, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney,” Mr Lee said.

Mark Wizel, national director, n retail investment properties at CBRE, said investors were viewing retail as the most attractive asset class due to it having the best risk adjusted return.

“The retail sector is now contributing 31 per cent to total commercial property transactions, compared with 25 per cent two years ago,” Mr Wizel said.

“Rent growth coupled with yield compression saw strong growth in capital values, particularly in Sydney CBD, which has encouraged some owners to take advantage of conditions and dispose of assets. Foreign buyers have been actively seeking CBD assets and are willing to pay a higher price to acquire them.”

Mr Wizel said shopping centre yields continued to firm over the year, with regional, sub regional and neighbourhood yields compressing by 20 bps, 40 bps and 60 bps respectively.

“Neighbourhood shopping centres in all states including Tasmania continue to remain high on the shopping list of a range of private, corporate and institutional investors. However, it has been the emergence of the Chinese buyer for such assets that is starting to add significant pricing competition into the sector with yields continually achieved around the country at less than 5.25 per cent,” Mr Wizel said.

“Large format retail is also attracting foreign investors, particularly Chinese buyers who are seeking exposure to retail and with the lack of shopping centres being made available to the market are aggressively chasing large format retail assets.”

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Litbits February 4 2017

Historian Geoffrey Blainey. Photo: Pat ScalaFebruary 5: Diana Thompson will discuss her romance novel Unbridled Passion at Muse Canberra at 3pm. Tickets $10 includes a drink. musecanberra苏州夜总会招聘.au.
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February 7: Dr Norman Swan (ABC Health Report) Dr Richard Dennis, Prof Alastair Woodward and others will discuss the late Tony McMichael’s new book Climate Change and the Health of Nations at The n Centre on China in the World, ANU at 5pm. Admission is free. goo.gl/uk9IBz.

February 7: In the free Fellowship Presentation Pinafores, Prodigies & Precocities, Dr Gillian Arrighi explores the era of the child performer during the days of the British Empire, 1880–1914. Conference Room, Level 4, 5.30pm, National Library of . Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 8: Historian Geoffrey Blainey’s The Story of ‘s People: The Rise and Rise of a New traces the country’s history from the gold rush to the present day. Foyer Theatre, ground floor, National Library of , 6pm. $15 includes book signing and refreshments. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 8: The next Poetry at the House reading in the Drawing Room of University House features readings from Chloe Wilson from Melbourne and and Keith Harrison and P.S. Cottier (from Canberra). Admission: $10 waged, $5 unwaged. Meals available in the Fellows Bar and Cafe from 6pm. Readings at 7.30pm.Bookings to Geoff Page: [email protected]苏州夜场招聘.au.

February 9: Join the Friends of the National Library for Revolution Francaise!, a white-gloves viewing of some of the library’s collection of original French Revolution pamphlets and other related items. Conference Room, Friends Lounge, Level 4, National Library of , 6pm. $15 Friends, $20 others. Light refreshments will be served after the collection viewing. Bookings essential. nla.gov.au.

February 12: Join author Tania McCartney for a free interactive reading of her children’s book This is Banjo Paterson, about one of ‘s best-known poets at the National Library of Bookshop at 11am. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 12: National Gallery of Director Gerard Vaughan comes to Muse Canberra to talk about the saucy life of the French court so you can appreciate the exhibition Versailles: Treasures from the Palace.Tickets $10 includes a drink. musecanberra苏州夜总会招聘.au.

February 15: Fairfax columnist Clementine Ford’s new book, Fight Like a Girl, is a manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Foyer Theatre, ground floor, National Library of , 6pm. $15 includes book signing and refreshments. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 17: The n Comic Arts Festival is on at the Conference Room, Level 4, National Library of from 1 to 5pm. Discover the Library’s own comic collection, and explore comics as literature, collectables and objects for academic study. nla.gov.au.

February 20: Hosted by the ANU and the National Library of , award-winning writer Kate Grenville discusses her latest book The Case Against Fragrance with former Canberra Times literary editor Gia Metherell at the National Library of Theatre, Lower Ground `1, at 6pm. $15 includes book signing and refreshments. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 21:State of Hope – Griffith Review, exploring the economic, social, environmental and cultural challenges facing South with Dennis Atkins, Angela Woollacott, Peter Stanley and Chris Wallace, will be on at .the Theatre, Lower Ground 1, National Library of at 6pm. Free admission. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 22: In NGA Book Club at 10.30am, join Claudia Hyles for a discussion exploring literary themes around the visual arts.This season’s book is Peacock and vine: Fortuny and Morris in life and at work by AS Byatt. Meet at the National Gallery of information desk. $18, $15 NGA members. Bookings: nga.gov.au.

February 22: Captain James Cook: Claiming the Great Southern Land by John Molony will be launched by the author Professor Iain McCalman at the National Library of Bookshop at 6pm. Free admission, Bookings: nla.gov.au.

February 23: Tony Kevin will be signing copies of his book Return to Moscow at Paperchain Bookstore, Manuka on February 23 at 6pm. The book will be launched by former chief minister Jon Stanhope. RSVP [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au.

February 26: Canadian author Madeleine Thien will discuss her whose recent book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize for Literature. The novel is about the far-reaching effects of China’s revolutionary history, told through the stories of two interlinked musical families, from the 1940s to the present day. National Library of Theatre, Lower Ground 1, 6pm. $18 includes book signing and refreshments. Bookings: nla.gov.au.

* Contributions to Litbits are welcome. Please email [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au by COB on the Monday prior to publication. Publication is not guaranteed.

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Diplomatic stoush between Trump and Turnbull highlights refugee plight to the world

US President Donald Trump has called a deal between and the Obama administration “dumb”. Refugee Amin Abofetileh in the jungle on Los Negros island, next to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Ashley Gilbertson
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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (foreground) and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (background). Photo: Michele Mossop

As the dust settles from the now-infamous phone call between Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, the world’s media is beginning to focus on the issue that caused their spat.

Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to call a refugee deal with a “dumb deal” and declare he would “study it”.

“Do you believe it?” he wrote. “The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from .”

Since then, media organisations in the United States, the UK and New Zealand have put the deal – and the 1200 people it concerns – under the microscope.

The Los Angeles Times pointed out that conditions on Manus Island and Nauru have been repeatedly criticised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“The refugees are the collateral damage in ‘s widely criticized ‘Stop the Boats’ policy,” the LA Times wrote. “Many have reported that the biggest problem is the sense of paralysis at being trapped in limbo indefinitely.”

Another media site, Quartz, said the refugees were “languishing for years in offshore detention facilities”. An interviewee described the detainees as being “held hostage”.

In its explainer of the issue, news and media site Vox said conditions in the camps were “appalling”.

“Detainees have resorted to self-immolation to draw attention to their plight,” Vox said. ” continue[s] to look for any solution that wouldn’t require it to actually accept the refugees. That’s where the US comes in.”

The Atlantic and the New York Times also highlighted the plight of the refugees, the former in a story that asked: “Is the Refugee Deal With ‘Dumb’?”

“Although accepted 13,756 refugees in 2014-15, the period for which the most recent data are available, the country’s policy of offshore-detention centers for asylum-seekers who arrive by boat has been widely criticized,” The Atlantic said.

The Timespublished a video diary showing the daily life of a refugee on the “hell-hole” Manus Island.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Daily Mirror described the conditions the refugees were living in as “pitiful”.

“The refugees are living under armed guard in squalid conditions – and getting cameras in to expose their plight has been near impossible,” the Mirror wrote.

In 2015, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton brushed off the United Nations Human Rights Council’s criticism of .

“We were criticised by, I noted, Bangladesh, by Iran, by North Korea. North Korea was my favourite,” Mr Dutton told the ABC’s 7.30.

“Frankly, I think it belittles the UN process when you’ve got countries like North Korea trying to lecture our country in relation to human rights.”

With more people around the world becoming aware of the Manus and Nauru deal, it’s possible this criticism could soon come from the US and the UK.

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‘No one of that era is completely exonerated’ over financial scandal, former RSL councillor Rod Bain says

Dr Rod Bain says some councillors and staff had failed to keep the rest of the RSL coucil informed about the financial issues. Photo: Phil HearneAn RSL NSW state councillor who resigned recently on principle over the financial scandal engulfing the league has made a frank admission that “no one of that era is completely exonerated” as the leadership faces a looming grassroots backlash.
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Fairfax Media can also reveal that one state councillor is the subject of an investigation over whether Bondi Junction sub-branch, of which he is secretary, has illegally denied membership to an RAAF veteran.

Bill Harrigan, a former n Federal Police officer, could face a disciplinary tribunal if an RSL investigator finds evidence he has used his power to exclude dissenters as the veteran claims. Mr Harrigan denies the allegations.

The state councillor who has resigned, Rod Bain, told Fairfax Media that information was withheld from some councillors about the financial issues that are now the subject of investigations by police, the charities watchdog and internal auditors appointed by the league’s national council.

These include credit card spending of $475,000 by former state president Don Rowe and hundreds of thousands of dollars paid in consulting fees by the RSL’s aged care arm to several state councillors including stood-aside national president Rod White.

Dr Bain, who himself is implicated in none of the alleged wrongdoing, said that some councillors and staff had failed to keep the rest of the council informed about the financial issues.

But he added: “We as directors at that time also might well be accused of failing in our performance of the necessary due diligence required and did not double check exactly what we were being told.

“No one of that era is completely exonerated if we consider the duties and responsibilities of a director to a board.”

The state council faces rising rank-and-file anger, with a push within the Far Western Metropolitan District for a vote of no confidence in the council followed by its removal and replacement by an administrator, according to internal emails seen by Fairfax Media.

On Friday, the state council faced a closed hearing in Canberra to answer charges by the national council of bringing the league into disrepute and for failing to properly deal with Mr Rowe’s credit card spending.

The national council has demanded the NSW leadership show cause why it shouldn’t be dissolved.

On the Bondi Junction stoush, NSW chief executive Glenn Kolomeitz – an East Timor and Afghanistan Army veteran – met with Mr Kawicki two weeks ago and heard Mr Kawicki’s complaint that Mr Harrigan had used his positions to quash dissent at the sub-branch and RSL club.

Mr Kolomeitz later wrote to Mr Kawicki saying “the issues you raised with me are very concerning such that it is my intention to refer the matter to the RSL NSW state branch investigator for investigation”.

Another veteran who clashed with Mr Harrigan, Frank Bugner, said he had been physically escorted from Bondi Junction club after a sub-branch meeting and as a result had joined Maroubra sub-branch instead.

Mr Harrigan said Mr Kawicki had failed to renew his sub-branch membership 2011 and had been denied renewal three years later because of his behaviour.

“I’m held in very, very high esteem by the membership … and I’ve always worked hard for the RSL,” Mr Harrigan said.

Mr Kawicki said as a life member he did not have to pay renewal fees. He said he tried to renew repeatedly and had never been informed in writing as per the league constitution that his membership was being revoked.

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Liberal Party-linked fundraising body Cormack Foundation bankrolling two Senate crossbench parties

Former Family First senator Bob Day and with Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm at Parliament House in Canberra.A wealthy fundraising body linked to the Liberal Party has quietly begun bankrolling the organisations behind two of the Coalition’s biggest crossbench supporters in the finely balanced Senate.
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The Cormack Foundation has donated more than $40 million to the Liberal Party over the last 18 years – including more than $3 million in 2015-16 – making it one of the party’s biggest benefactors.

The foundation is an investment company and “associated entity” of the Liberals that donates dividends from its share portfolio. It has stakes in a number of blue-chip companies – including the big four banks, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Telstra and Wesfarmers – raising about $3.9 million last year.

But for the first time in its 30-year history, the foundation last year donated to parties other than the Liberals – giving $25,000 each to the conservative Family First and the libertarian Liberal Democrats, according to the n Election Commission annual returns released this week.

The foundation has eight listed shareholders, who are also the company’s directors. They include Rupert Murdoch’s brother-in-law John Calvert-Jones, former Reserve Bank board member and Business Council of president Hugh Morgan and former ANZ chairman Charles Goode.

The donations came in a year that the Abbott and then Turnbull governments were highly reliant in the Senate on the votes of Family First’s Bob Day and the Liberal Democrats’ David Leyonhjelm.

The men were generally supportive of the government’s agenda in both the former Parliament and the current one. An analysis of their first year in the chamber found Mr Day voted with the government 90 per cent of the time and Senator Leyonhjelm more than 70 per cent of the time.

It’s believed to be the first occasion an “associated entity” has linked itself to more than one political party at a time.

The $25,000 donation represented nearly 30 per cent of Family First’s total donations for 2015-16. For the Liberal Democrats it represented slightly less than 5 per cent.

Cormack Foundation secretary Peter Matthey insisted the company is not a Liberal Party vehicle and supports a number of organisations.

“Cormack Foundation donates to libertarian causes – that’s the reason for its existence,” he told Fairfax Media.

But AEC documents show that, up until last financial year, the foundation never listed any parties other than the Liberals under the disclosure subhead titled “With which party, or parties, is the entity associated?”

Family First does not describe itself as libertarian and indeed Mr Day – who resigned from the Senate last year after his national building empire collapsed – actively resisted the label. Family First could not be contacted for comment.

“I’m not going to go into the detail of the discussions around how that was worked out,” Mr Matthey said.

Mr Matthey is a retired chartered accountant who was a partner at auditor KPMG. He says the foundation is totally transparent.

Senator Leyonhjelm said of the foundation’s support: “We approached them. They like my small government message, is what they told me.”

He said his party did not co-ordinate with Family First in its approach to the foundation.

“A couple of donors decided to include Family First after agreeing to give us something. Must have been something about minor parties,” he said.

But Greens democracy spokesperson Lee Rhiannon said it was extraordinary the Liberals’ biggest donor was also funding rival political parties.

“Considering an associated entity is defined as a body that undertakes fundraising for a particular party, the Cormack Foundation’s action suggests a new level of collaboration between these three parties,” she said.

“The Cormack Foundation returns shows a financial link between the Liberals, Liberal Democrats and Family First that could imply a consolidation of political co-operation between these parties.

“The financial links might also play out politically with increased collaboration on preference deals and voting in support of each other in the Senate.”

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