Money & Banking

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Why this rare $1 coin could have you pocketing thousands

<p>One minor mistake to a $1 coin could be worth thousands of dollars.</p> <p>The Royal Australian Mint made an error when making the “Mule Dollar” coins meaning small amount of $1 coins from the year 2000 were designed using the wrong print.</p> <p>The Mule dollar has a double rim around the edge while a standard regular $1 coin has just one. </p> <p>A Melbourne mum excitedly revealed the fun find on social media.</p> <p>“We found the famous MULE Dollar” she wrote in a post on Instagram, under the username @melbournewithkidz. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8h1QVzAhCo/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B8h1QVzAhCo/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">We found the famous MULE Dollar. 🙌 What's a Mule dollar? It's a small number of the year 2000 $1 dollar coins that had been minted using the incorrect obverse die (heads side) and released into circulation by mistake and only discovered a year or two later. The Royal Australian Mint accidentally minted the coins using the smaller 10 cent obverse die (head side) by mistake. With just a 1.4 millimetre difference in diameter between the 10 cent and $1 coin you can clearly see a double rim circle going around the edges of the coin. These errors are worth anywhere from $500 to $3000! Check your change and empty out the kids piggy bank!!!!!!! You could be sitting on a winner! Let us know if you have found any interesting coins in your change. Disclaimer: for use of images or content please contact us contact@melbournewithkidz.com #australiancoins #coincollecting #rarecoins</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/melbournewithkidz/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Tanya / Melbourne With Kids</a> (@melbournewithkidz) on Feb 13, 2020 at 5:20pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“Royal Australian Mint accidentally minted the coins using the smaller 10 cent obverse die (head side) by mistake.”</p> <p>How to spot a real Mule Dollar</p> <p>Mule dollars have a unique look and design, including its year make which can only be 2000.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BuLtwpTl54n/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BuLtwpTl54n/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Drake Sterling Numismatics (@drakesterling)</a> on Feb 22, 2019 at 3:51am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>For the rare coin to be legitimate it must also have a clear double rim around most or all of the heads side of the coin, about 0.5mm wide, according to<span> </span>Australian Coins.</p> <p>“With just a 1.4mm difference in diameter between the 10 cent and $1 coin you can clearly see a double rim circle going around the edges of the coin.”</p> <p>She said the coins are worth anywhere from $500 to $3000. </p> <p>One commenter left a handy tip to anyone who might find themselves in luck with a real mule dollar, and urged people NOT to wash the coin as it can result in its value decreasing dramatically.</p>

Money & Banking

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On the brink of collapse: George Calombaris holds crisis talks over crumbling empire

<p>The restaurant empire of former<span> </span><em>MasterChef Australia</em><span> </span>judge George Calombaris is on the verge of collapse, according to reports.</p> <p>The business, Made Establishment, will meet this afternoon to decide whether to appoint a voluntary administrator, as reported by<span> </span><em>The Age</em><span> </span>and the<span> </span><em>Herald Sun</em>.</p> <p>The decision could jeopardise the jobs of 500 employees – but they will be fully compensated if the restaurants decide to close their doors for good.</p> <p>The development comes six months after the company was embroiled in an underpayment scandal, which garnered negative media attention especially for Calombaris.</p> <p>A Fair Work investigation into Made Establishment discovered it had underpaid over 500 workers a colossal $7.8 million.</p> <p>Calombaris issued an apology and was ordered to make a $200,000 “contrition payment”.</p> <p>Shortly after, Calombaris lost his biggest gig of all after Channel 10 dumped the celebrity chef from his role on<em><span> </span>MasterChef</em><span> </span>due to the scandal.</p> <p>Made Establishment is comprised of 18 Greek restaurants and fast-food outlets, all based in Melbourne.</p> <p>The business incorporates Greek street food joints Gazi and Jimmy Grants, and Brunswick East eatery Hellenic Republic, recently rebranded as Crofter Dining Room.</p>

Money & Banking

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Superannuation as a retirement income system doesn't work

<p>Discussions about Australia’s retirement income system typically begin by reciting the political slogan that there are “three pillars” to the system — the age pension, compulsory super, and voluntary savings.</p> <p>It was the way the Abbott and Turnbull government’s <a href="https://slideplayer.com/slide/4872297/">tax inquiry</a> looked at retirement incomes, and a frame of reference used by this government’s <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-11/c2019-36292-v2.pdf">retirement income system review</a>.</p> <p>Missing is discussion of what makes something a “retirement pillar”.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/313028/original/file-20200131-41495-b580y4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/313028/original/file-20200131-41495-b580y4.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://slideplayer.com/slide/4872297/" class="source">Treasury tax white paper slideshow, 2015</a></span></p> <p>It’s possible to think of other retirement pillars. Moving to India for a cheap lifestyle would be one.</p> <p>Requiring retailers to <a href="https://www.fresheconomicthinking.com/2020/01/the-easiest-retirement-system-retiree.html">provide the elderly free goods and services</a>, with the cost absorbed in the prices paid by others could be another.</p> <p>To be a pillar, something would have to allocate goods and services in retirement to people who are no longer earning wages.</p> <p>In my <a href="https://www.fresheconomicthinking.com/p/scrap-superannuation.html">recently released report</a> I argue that superannuation fails this test.</p> <p><strong>Super isn’t a retirement pillar</strong></p> <p>Among other things, super can be spent many years before retirement, beginning anywhere from age <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Super/Self-managed-super-funds/Paying-benefits/Preservation-of-super/">55 to 60</a>, even though the retirement age specified the pension legislation is <a href="https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/age-pension/who-can-get-it">66 to 67</a>.</p> <p>Many financial planners advise intending retirees to spend a lot of their super quickly in order to shelter it in income-test-exempt assets <a href="https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/finance/property/how-upsizing-protects-your-pension">such as housing</a> and qualify for the pension.</p> <p>The super system also can’t guarantee retirement incomes for people who are self-employed, casually employed, homemakers, have chosen their super fund unwisely or lost the proceeds in things such as online romance scams.</p> <p>As a system, super comes with unnecessary financial risks, such as suddenly losing 21% of its funds, as happened between September 2007 and March 2009 during the global financial crisis.</p> <p>It is better thought of as a growth-sapping, resource-wasting, tax-advantaged asset purchase scheme aimed at the already wealthy, which is <a href="https://theconversation.com/myth-busted-boosting-super-would-cost-the-budget-more-than-it-saved-on-age-pensions-119002">unlikely to do much</a> to reduce reliance on the age pension.</p> <p>We would be better off abandoning it and letting workers spend or save their money as they see fit.</p> <p><strong>The super system is inefficient</strong></p> <p>The superannuation system employs <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6291.0.55.003">55,000 people</a> at a cost of <a href="https://www.selectingsuper.com.au/superannuation-fees-fall-for-the-first-time-in-six-years">A$32 billion</a> per year to produce <a href="https://www.apra.gov.au/quarterly-superannuation-statistics">$40 billion</a> per year in retirement incomes. This is nearly as many people as the enlisted Australian Defence Force (58,000) with a similar total cost ($34 billion).</p> <p>The rest of Australia’s entire welfare system, including administering the age pension, disability, unemployment benefits and Medicare, costs just $6 billion per year and employs <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018/10/8802-1810-annual-report-web-2017-2018.pdf">33,000 people</a>, while providing <a href="https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018/10/8802-1810-annual-report-web-2017-2018.pdf">$45 billion</a> in pension benefits.</p> <p><strong>It directs money where it isn’t needed..</strong></p> <p>Each year the superannuation system takes in <a href="https://www.apra.gov.au/quarterly-superannuation-statistics">$117 billion</a> and spits out <a href="https://www.apra.gov.au/sites/default/files/Quarterly%20Superannuation%20Performance%20Statistics%20September%202019_0.pdf">$80 billion</a> in payments (including lump sum withdrawals), leaving $38 billion in asset markets, sapping spending and economic growth. That’s roughly as much as the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/saving-the-nation-20090203-7wsb.html">$40 billion</a> stimulus package introduced during the 2009 financial crisis. Unlike it, the super system depresses rather than stimulates the economy.</p> <p>Unlike the super system, the age pension system is likely to stimulate the economy because it takes purchasing power away from high-income taxpayers with a relatively low likelihood of spending extra dollars to to lower-income pensioners with a high likelihood of spending them.</p> <p><strong>…and away from those who do need it</strong></p> <p>Unlike the age pension system, the super system can’t provide poverty relief, or broadly adequate retirement incomes.</p> <p>For the bottom 40% of earners it does the opposite of smoothing income, making them poorer than they would have been while working, and somewhat <a href="https://theconversation.com/super-shock-more-compulsory-super-would-make-middle-australia-poorer-not-richer-120002">richer</a> than they would have been while on the pension and retired.</p> <p>The <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/p2020-51153">$18 billion</a> of tax breaks on super fund contributions and <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/p2020-51153">$20 billion</a> of tax breaks on super fund earnings are predominately directed to <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/programs-and-initiatives-superannuation/distributional-analysis-of-superannuation-taxation-concessions">high income earners</a>.</p> <p>In a comprehensive study released this week the Grattan Institute has demolished the claim that super contributions come out of employers pockets. Instead it finds that, on average, <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/no-free-lunch/">80%</a> of each super contribution comes out of what would have been wages.</p> <p><strong>Here’s how to escape it</strong></p> <p>Scrapping the system altogether would massively improve Australia’s economic performance, including the performance of our only true retirement income system, which is the age pension.</p> <p>It can be done by forcing employers to pay what are now super contributions directly into wage accounts and allowing super fund holders to withdraw up to a maximum amount each year during a transition period, after which all super balances would receive no special tax treatment.</p> <p>The tens of billions saved in the budget could be used to enhance the size and scope of the age pension. It could incorporate <a href="https://theconversation.com/fall-in-ageing-australians-home-ownership-rates-looms-as-seismic-shock-for-housing-policy-120651">appropriate rent assistance</a> and begin at age 60 instead of 67.</p> <p>It’s possible. Certainly, there would be job losses, but in other industries we have come to accept that there is no point in continuing to pay people to do things that aren’t needed, and especially no point in making those payments compulsory.</p> <p>It’d be one of the best things we could do to enhance the working of our economy.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130191/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cameron-murray-172480">Cameron Murray</a>, Research Fellow - Henry Halloran Trust, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/superannuation-isnt-a-retirement-income-system-we-should-scrap-it-130191">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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5 ways to protect yourself from identity theft

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s hard to guarantee total protection against hackers and with more people losing money to scammers, it’s important to do your best to stay vigilant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recent Scamwatch figures show that in 2019, Aussies lost $4.3 million to scammers, which is almost three times more than was lost the year before.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With scams becoming more sophisticated, the onus is on you to stop your money from being stolen.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are five ways to protect yourself from identity theft. (</span>AN: will number later, just hate doing it in a word doc as it doesn’t copy properly to umbraco) </p> <p><strong>1. Always check your emails</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In order to get into your accounts, a hacker will try many different passwords or sometimes reset it. If you see a password reset email and you can’t remember requesting one, this can be a major red flag.</span></p> <p><strong>2. Set up two-factor authentication</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is a two-step process that you can add to your account login. This increases security on your account as it requires a different piece of information outside your password.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is usually a temporary code which is sent as a text message to your phone.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">How does it work?</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After you enter your password, you’ll be asked to enter in the code that has been sent to your phone. Some websites have a time limit on the code so if you don’t enter it before the time limit expires, the code will no longer work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This also means that if hackers gain access to your password, they won’t receive the temporary code and won’t be able to get into your account.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Consider a PO box</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Having an outdoor mailbox makes you more vulnerable to identity theft as anyone can help themselves to the personal documents that are sent to your home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your mail provides information like your full name, bank account details, tax file number and your address. Hackers can also steal bank cards if they’re sent to your home address.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you decide to get a PO box, your mail will be kept in a secure place under lock and key.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, if you don’t want to get a PO box, you can request to send personal documents and bank cards to a secure location.</span></p> <p><strong>4. Monitor your credit report</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, it’s listed on your credit report. You are able to check your credit for free every few months to make sure all listing are correct.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you notice any suspicious activity, contact the relevant bank or lender and let them know that the listing is fraudulent.</span></p> <p><strong>5. Check your transaction history</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Review your purchases every couple of weeks to make sure there aren’t any suspicious transactions.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you notice any transactions that aren’t yours, put your card on hold and contact your bank immediately. You may also need to cancel your existing card and order a replacement.</span></p>

Money & Banking

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Australia's drought relief package misses the bigger point

<p>There are two basic components to the Morrison government’s latest A$1 billion package response to the drought affecting large parts eastern Australia. One part involves extra subsidies to farmers and farm-related business. The other involves measures to create or upgrade infrastructure in rural areas.</p> <p>Unfortunately, most funds will be misdirected and the response is unlikely to secure the long-term prosperity of regional and rural communities. This is a quick fix to a political problem, appealing to an important constituency. But it misses the point, again, about the emerging economics of drought.</p> <p><strong>Hitting the political target</strong></p> <p>The bulk of the A$1 billion package is allocated to a loan fund. The terms of the ten-year loans are more generous than what has been offered in the past. They are now interest-free for two years, with no requirement to start paying back the principal till the sixth year.</p> <p>Farmers will be able to borrow up to A$2 million. In addition, loans of up to A$500,000 will also be available to small businesses in drought-affected towns.</p> <p>Because recipients are not having to pay the full cost, these loans are in practice a form of subsidy.</p> <p>Subsidies are used by government to make more people undertake an activity than would otherwise be the case. In this case the government is offering a subsidy to keep farmers and small businesses owners doing what they’ve been doing, even though from an economic point of view this might not be very wise at all.</p> <p>The question that should be asked is: “do we want more or fewer people to be involved in a farming activity that is vulnerable to drought?”</p> <p>Most farming in Australia is completely reliant on rainfed crops and pastures. Rainfall is already highly variable. All the indicators from climate science is that rain will be even more unreliable in the future.</p> <p>In addition, the agricultural industries currently drought affected are not just at the whims of rainfall. These industries are constantly changing and being affected by new technologies and market forces.</p> <p>For most agricultural produce the key market force is price. Sure, some farms and farmers can carve out niche markets, but most farm businesses depend on producing at lowest cost. Increasingly, the farms that survive in a highly competitive global environment do this by exploiting economies of scale. Big farms are thus more profitable than small ones in the good times (such as when it rains); and during the tough times (such as during drought) they have more resources and deeper reserves to ride it out.</p> <p>Ultimately, this means successful farms are continually getting bigger and small farmers are getting squeezed out.</p> <p>The data also support the view that the farmers who survive and are simultaneously exposed to drought <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-8489.12195">ultimately become even more profitable</a>, because of what they learnt about managing in a difficult environment.</p> <p>This is not to argue drought is a good thing for any farm, but it does raise a serious question about any government policy that effectively encourages more people to keep doing something when global and technological forces would point to it being unsustainable.</p> <p><strong>So what’s the point?</strong></p> <p>The second component of the Morrison government’s relief response involves directing about A$500 million from existing regional infrastructure funds into building roads and other things into affected communities.</p> <p>While many will welcome this on top of the the extension of loans to small business in country towns, the policy detracts from the serious questions that confront rural and regional communities.</p> <p>The economics of agriculture has flow-on effects to towns, but it would be wrong to think all are impacted in the same way.</p> <p>As a general rule, when farmers sell up, they tend to leave from the small communities first. The upshot is that small communities get smaller, older and poorer as those least mobile are left behind. These people also generally require more, not less, public support. Mid-size communities tend to level out, while continuing to age. Large regional centres tend to grow and prosper.</p> <p>The point is that each community requires different things from government. Genuine public goods like roads, health services and education are desperately needed and undersupplied in many cases. Providing cash to a few select businesses and grading a gravel road in this situation belies the complexity of the long-term challenges and fails to address serious issues.</p> <p>An elderly retiree in a rural town might well ask why their local road or bridge is only upgraded during a drought. Surely, government should focus on providing legitimate public goods for the long term, regardless of the weather.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/126583/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lin-crase-9904">Lin Crase</a>, Professor of Economics and Head of School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australias-drought-relief-package-hits-the-political-spot-but-misses-the-bigger-point-126583">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How Aussies value volunteer firefighters

<p>Australia’s unprecedented bushfires have cemented its rural firefighters at the heart of the nation’s identity.</p> <p>It’s not just that these men and women put themselves in the line of fire. It’s that these “firies” are almost all volunteers, battling blazes for sheer love of their local community.</p> <p>Relying on volunteers isn’t unique to Australia’s rural firefighting brigades. Other countries with large numbers of volunteer firefighters include Austria, Germany, France, the United States, Japan and China.</p> <p>But Australia arguably relies on these volunteers to an extent unparalleled in the world, due to the country’s sheer size and the extent to which it is <a href="https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/community-safety/bushfire">prone to bushfire</a>. In terms of sheer scale of fires, only the vastness of Russia and Canada can compete, and neither has a climate and ecology quite so primed to burn.</p> <p><strong>Almost 1% of the population volunteers</strong></p> <p>About 195,000 Australians volunteer with the nation’s six state and two territory bushfire services. The most populous state, New South Wales, has the largest number (71,234). The Australian Capital Territory has the fewest (a little more than 400).</p> <hr /> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/311321/original/file-20200122-117911-1kpb21a.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/" class="license">CC BY-ND</a></span></p> <hr /> <p>The numbers reflect how many people live in rural areas and the degree to which those communities face bushfire risk. Thus Tasmania has 5,000 volunteer fighters despite having a smaller population than the ACT, because relatively more live in small towns.</p> <p>On raw figures, Australia has the ninth-largest number of volunteer firefighters by nation, after China, Russia, the United States, Japan, Vietnam, Germany, Poland and Austria.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/311526/original/file-20200123-162228-1xm2nl8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/311526/original/file-20200123-162228-1xm2nl8.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <hr /> <p>Comparing raw national figures doesn’t necessarily capture the special place of rural firies in Australia. Austria and its neighbours, for example, have cultures of volunteer municipal firefighting brigades that go back <a href="http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.encyclop.f/f311018.htm;internal&amp;action=_setlanguage.action?LANGUAGE=en">nearly a thousand years</a> and cover structural fires as well.</p> <p>Australia’s voluntary fire brigades are focused on bushfires. If we were to exclude <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/2071.0%7E2016%7EMain%20Features%7ESmall%20Towns%7E113">the 71% of the Australia population</a> that live in major cities, the proportion of Australia’s rural population volunteering with a bushfire service is more like 4.5%. This indicates how central these brigades are to local communities.</p> <p>It hard to put a precise number on the value volunteer firefighters make to Australia’s economy, but it is significant. The amount and quality of volunteer work is, of course, variable. But let’s assume each volunteer gives 150 hours of their time a year. This is likely conservative, given estimates of <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2019-12-27/volunteer-firefighters-approaching-100-days-ask-for-help/11829100">the time volunteers have given up this season</a>. At the average weekly Australian wage (including superannuation guarantee), the volunteers contribute about A$1.3 billion to the community.</p> <p><strong>Operations and funding</strong></p> <p>Even though most firefighters in the rural fire services are volunteers, there are still significant costs. The NSW Rural Fire Service, for example, maintains more than 2,000 brigades with their own stations, vehicles and other running costs. It also employs 965 paid staff in administrative and operational roles. Capital investment of $42 million for stations and equipment was made in 2018-19 in addition to running costs.</p> <p>The following breakdown is indicative of the running costs facing every state or territory service.</p> <hr /> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/311316/original/file-20200122-117962-tsdgu2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/311316/original/file-20200122-117962-tsdgu2.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption"></span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Michelle Cull/The Conversation</span>, <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" class="license">CC BY</a></span></p> <hr /> <p>While funding depends on the individual state or territory, in general the services are funded by levies, imposed through state and territory laws.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/309863/original/file-20200114-103954-kujjhx.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/309863/original/file-20200114-103954-kujjhx.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Sample of a rates notice including the fire services levy for Murrindindi Shire Council, Victoria.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Murrindindi Shire Council</span></span></p> <p>Victoria’s Country Fire Authority, for example, is funded under the <a href="http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/cfaa1958292/">Country Fire Authority Act (1958)</a> through a <a href="https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/fire-services-property-levy">property levy</a>. It is collected by local councils and passed on to the state government, which then distributes it to the authority. The levy includes a fixed component plus a variable rate based on a property’s market value.</p> <p>New South Wales also has a levy tied to council rates (under the <a href="https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/1997/65">Rural Fires Act 1997</a>). But most funding comes from a levy on insurance payments (imposed under the <a href="https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2017/32/full">Emergency Services Levy Act 2017</a>). In the 2018/19 financial year these levies raised about $440 million combined. State and federal governments kicked in a further $50 million, with $26 million in “other income” – mostly recouped costs from interstate and overseas deployments and use of its aircraft by other agencies.</p> <p><strong>The role of donations</strong></p> <p>Donations have not historically been a major funding source for any state or territory fire service. But in times of crisis the public often want to do their bit by giving money.</p> <p>In the 2017-2018 financial year, for example, the <a href="https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/about-us/fundraising%3C/u">NSW Rural Fire Service &amp; Brigades Donations Fund</a> received $768,044 in donations. Now it has $50 million or so coming its way due to comedian <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-14/celeste-barber-facebook-fundraiser-is-complicated/11861146">Celeste Barber’s bushfire appeal</a>.</p> <p>It’s possible many of those giving to Barber’s fundraiser didn’t realise their money would only go to New South Wales brigades. It’s also possible many thought they might help volunteers directly, such as through reimbursements for taking leave without pay. Others want to ensure volunteers don’t <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-11/nsw-bushfires-firefighters-raise-money-to-buy-face-masks/11790096">have to buy their own equipment</a>.</p> <p>Volunteers won’t necessarily benefit directly in the way <a href="https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6554386/australians-should-consider-a-national-bushfire-levy/">donors might like</a>. This is not to say donations won’t help, though. Volunteer brigades might benefit from money for new vehicles or computers, for example.</p> <p>The sacrifices made by Australian volunteer firefighters have only added to the “firies” mythos. Fire services have been flooded with <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/we-asked-volunteer-firefighters-what-they-need-to-get-through-this-bushfire-season">record numbers of applications</a>. As the threat of bushfires increases, the national love affair with volunteer firies is likely to only intensify.</p> <p>Which is something no elected politician would be wise to ignore.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Correction: the infographic “Top 10 nations with volunteer firefighters” has been updated to correct an error. The estimated population of Poland in 2019 was 37,887,768, not 8,955,102 as originally stated. 8,955,102 was Austria’s estimated population.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129881/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-cull-340911"><em>Michelle Cull</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Financial Planning, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/value-beyond-money-australias-special-dependence-on-volunteer-firefighters-129881">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to cope with extreme heat days without racking up the aircon bill

<p>Summer in Australia is <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/updates/articles/a032.shtml">getting hotter</a>. Extreme heat events, with daytime temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius, are becoming more common and we are getting more of these days in a row.</p> <p>We all need to prepare ourselves, our homes and our neighbourhoods for hot and very hot days. Since 2016, the <a href="https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/1161470/cooling-the-commons-report.pdf">Cooling the Commons</a> research project has been working with people living in some of Sydney’s hottest neighbourhoods to learn how they cope with heat.</p> <p>Discussion groups with residents across hotspots in Western Sydney, including Penrith, Cranebrook and St Marys, highlighted a wealth of things we can do to manage heat. We published some of the following tips in a recent <a href="https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/ics/news/new_resource_by_institute_researchers_provides_advice_on_how_to_prepare_for_heat">flier</a>.</p> <p><strong>Why can’t we all just rely on air conditioning?</strong></p> <p>Official advice for extreme heat is often to stay inside and turn on the air conditioning. While air conditioning can play a role, <a href="https://www.canstarblue.com.au/appliances/air-conditioning-running-costs/">not everyone can afford it</a>. Low-income and older households can be especially vulnerable to bill shock and are more likely to feel the impacts of extreme heat.</p> <p>There is also the risk that running air conditioners uses <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jul/09/australias-emissions-reach-the-highest-on-record-driven-by-electricity-sector">energy resources that contribute further to global warming</a>. More immediately, hot exhaust air from air-conditioning units can <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2013JD021225">make the local environment hotter</a>. This means keeping one home cool can make it harder for neighbours to keep their homes cool and make being outside even more uncomfortable.</p> <p>Air conditioning in private homes creates a cool refuge for only some. Unless those homes have an open-door policy on hot days, many of us will need to find other ways to keep cool. If you do have air conditioning, think about how you could share your air with those near you who might really need it.</p> <p><strong>Prepare before the heat hits</strong></p> <p><strong><em>Shade is important for creating more comfortable living spaces.</em></strong></p> <p>Identify which parts of your home get the most afternoon sun in summer. Can you plant trees or vines, or move a pot plant outside the window to create a green screen? Can you attach awnings to shade the windows?</p> <p>Low-cost temporary solutions can include attaching light-coloured shade cloth outside the window using removable hooks, or installing heavy drapes or blinds inside. Blankets or even aluminium foil are a low-cost creative way of keeping heat out.</p> <p><strong><em>Open up to let in cool air at night</em></strong></p> <p>Can you open the windows and doors overnight to let in cooler air? If you are concerned about security, look for options for locking the windows in an open position, or using flyscreens and security grilles on windows and doors.</p> <p>A low-cost option to keeping flying insects at bay on hot nights is a mosquito net over the window or around the bed.</p> <p><strong><em>Use low-cost resources to prepare in advance.</em></strong></p> <p>Ceiling or portable fans are one of the best ways to cool your body when it’s hot. But remember fans don’t cool rooms, so turn off the fan when you leave the room or you’re just burning electricity.</p> <p>Find ice trays and containers to freeze water – cake tins and storage containers are a good option. Putting these in front of a portable fan will mean the fan blows cool air.</p> <p>Putting a wet face cloth on the insides of your wrists, around your ankles or on the back of your neck will bring down your body temperature. Hanging damp sheets in doorways or in front of a fan will help keep the temperature down – although the trick with the sheets won’t work if it’s a really humid day.</p> <p><strong>How to stay cool and comfortable on hot days</strong></p> <p>Morning is likely to be the coolest time of the day. Open up your windows and doors to let in the cooler morning air.</p> <p>It’s the best time to be active – walk the dog, take the kids to the park, go for a swim. If possible, do your cleaning, cooking or outside work now. Plan meals that don’t require an oven.</p> <p><strong><em>Close up as it heats up.</em></strong></p> <p>As the day starts to get hot, close the house up – shut windows, blinds and curtains. This could be as early as 9am on really hot days. If you are heading out to work, do this before you leave home.</p> <p>Closing internal doors can help to keep the heat in one part of your home. You need to close doors to any parts of the home that get hot before the day gets hot.</p> <p><strong><em>Stay hydrated.</em></strong></p> <p>Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Put a jug of tap water in the fridge and remember to top it up.</p> <p>Don’t forget to move pet water bowls and day beds out of the sun. If you live in a dry area, it can’t hurt to put out extra water bowls for needy wildlife!</p> <p><strong><em>Find a cooling refuge.</em></strong></p> <p>If your home gets uncomfortably hot, find the closest cooling refuges in your neighbourhood. These are places where you can go to cool down. Good examples that won’t break the bank are the local swimming pool or library.</p> <p>Some local councils provide <a href="http://coolparramatta.com.au/">lists</a> of <a href="https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au/waste-environment/cooling-the-city/beat-the-heat">cooling centres</a> on their websites.</p> <p><strong><em>Save air conditioning for when it’s most needed.</em></strong></p> <p>Try to save air conditioning for the hottest parts of the day. It will be most effective and cheapest to run if your home is well insulated and you’ve closed it up for the day.</p> <p><strong><em>Look after neighbours.</em></strong></p> <p>Remember to check on elderly or frail neighbours. Along with the very young, they are usually more affected by the heat and may need to cool down sooner than you do.</p> <p>If your neighbours are in need, consider inviting them into your home to cool down. When it’s hot, let’s <a href="https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Infrastructures-of-Care%3A-Opening-up-%E2%80%9CHome%E2%80%9D-as-in-a-Lopes-Healy/1920004e258483d40017ff468370e4892e11fce5">think of our cities as social commons</a> rather than a collection of private spaces.</p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/emma-power-250930"><em>Emma Power</em></a><em>, Senior Research Fellow, Geography and Urban Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/abby-mellick-lopes-388977">Abby Mellick Lopes</a>, Associate Professor, Design, School of Humanities and Communication Arts, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/louise-crabtree-128457">Louise Crabtree</a>, Associate Professor, Institute for Culture and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></span></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-cope-with-extreme-heat-days-without-racking-up-the-aircon-bills-128857">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan offer to pay for their security – but it comes with a catch

<p>The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have offered to pay for their own security, except there is a catch to this deal.</p> <p>Provided the couple are successful in their new non-royal business endeavours, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan maintain they have every intention to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of their security during private business engagements not connected to royal events.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7qgx95giNA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7qgx95giNA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by O, The Oprah Magazine (@oprahmagazine)</a> on Jan 23, 2020 at 5:43am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span>The </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2020/01/22/prince-harry-meghan-markle-offer-pay-security-tony-blair-style/" target="_blank">Telegraph</a></em><span> reported the pair’s intention to pay is entirely genuine, except the amount they will reimburse will depend on how much money their new business endeavours rake in.</span></p> <p>However, it appears they may hit the jackpot on top of their already hefty bank accounts, as Netflix appears to be in the process of working with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for either a TV series or a number of documentaries on the causes nearest and dearest to their hearts.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rJhgapp1u/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rJhgapp1u/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by 𝐌 𝐈 𝐊 𝐎 ✪ (@mikeraif)</a> on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:39am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>This news follows just weeks after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their intentions to step down from their senior royal positions, and instead seek out financially independent lives.</p> <p>The couple said they would be splitting their time between the UK and Canada, after doing an 8-week test in Vancouver with their 8-month-old Archie.</p> <p>British authorities have deep grievances regarding Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s security requirements.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rIWyyAa-0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rIWyyAa-0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Royal Family (@royal_family_baby)</a> on Jan 23, 2020 at 11:28am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Over 80,000 Canadians have signed a petition demanding that taxpayers need not be expected to fork out the security costs for the couple while they spend their time in the Great White North.</p> <p>It is believed at least six UK royal protection officers are overseeing the couple’s safety but it is speculated security will be passed on to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.</p> <p>Around-the-clock protection there could cost around $2.9 million, security sources told the<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2020/01/22/prince-harry-meghan-markle-offer-pay-security-tony-blair-style/" target="_blank">Telegraph</a></em>.</p>

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Charities defend bushfire relief policy amid donation stockpiling claims

<p><span>Australia’s leading charities have defended their bushfire relief plans after it was revealed that only less than one-third of the donations have been released to fire-affected communities.</span></p> <p><span>The Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army have been accused of stockpiling the cash donations. </span></p> <p><span>Speaking at a press conference in Batemans Bay on Wednesday, NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said it was “gutting” to learn that millions of dollars were yet to be handed out.</span></p> <p><span>“The money is needed now, not sitting in a Red Cross bank account earning interest so they can map out their next three years and do their marketing,” said Constance.</span></p> <p><span>“We need a very real change, very quickly so that the money can get to those who need it most … people are on their knees and we can’t have a drip-feed.”</span></p> <p><span>Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the charities are betraying donators’ trust.</span></p> <p><span>“To read that organisations like Red Cross are putting some of that money aside for a future crisis or emergency is not in the spirit of what I believe Australians gave that money,” he said.</span></p> <p><span>On Thursday, Red Cross NSW director Poppy Brown said $30 million out of the $115 million raised had been <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-23/bushfire-aid-row-continues-as-red-cross-attacked-again/11892062">allocated to emergency relief grants</a>.</span></p> <p><span>Brown said the organisation had enlisted an advisory panel to help budget the remaining money for long term recovery initiatives.</span></p> <p><span>“Any interest earned on those funds will just add to the money that goes out to those communities,” she said.</span></p> <p><span>“We’re already paying out a million dollars a day, we’ll keep paying out money as it’s needed.</span></p> <p><span>“And we’ll make sure that there’s still some left to help people, those same communities, in their recovery because we know it’s going to be a long term need.”</span></p> <p><span>The charity said it had paid out 690 grants worth a total of $6.9 million to people who have lost their homes.</span></p> <p><span>Since November, the Salvation Army’s disaster appeal had collected $44 million in donations and distributed $7.6 million worth of goods and cash relief.</span></p> <p><span>St Vincent De Paul has so far raised $12.5 million and handed out $1.1 million to eligible individuals in NSW. “We’re doing as well we can,” the charity’s CEO Jack de Groot told <em><a href="https://7news.com.au/news/bushfires/red-cross-under-fire-for-withholding-two-thirds-of-bushfire-donations-c-660715">7News</a></em>. </span></p> <p><span>“It’s not perfect but the co-ordination is going fairly well.”</span></p>

Money & Banking

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Fame and fortune isn't the key to happiness

<p>If you’ve ever dreamt of fame and fortune, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle turning their backs on the royal lifestyle might seem churlish. So too their desire to be “financially independent”.</p> <p>As a senior royal, Harry is at the height of his popularity – a popularity that marrying Markle has only amplified.</p> <p>On top of the millions he has inherited from his mother and great grandmother, he gets millions more annually, both from his cut of the “sovereign grant” paid by the British government and the allowance from his father (from the revenues of Duchy of Cornwall estate).</p> <p>Harry and Meghan aren’t exiting the family firm penniless, but if they stayed they would be looked after in luxury for the rest of their lives.</p> <p>Madness? No. Research suggests Harry and Meghan would be well and truly in their right minds to be sick of royal fame and fortune.</p> <p>Psychologists, economists and philosophers have confirmed three things. First, money can’t buy happiness. Second, we want to feel we have earned our success and popularity. Third, being looked after from the cradle to the grave has its downsides.</p> <p>In short, having everything handed to you on a platter just isn’t satisfying.</p> <p><strong>Money doesn’t buy happiness</strong></p> <p>Even though this statement is arguably a cliché, there is good <a href="https://www.payscale.com/career-news/2013/05/study-proves-money-cant-buy-happiness">evidence</a> it’s true. While money buys happiness up to a point, the positive effects of money on happiness <a href="https://psychology.unl.edu/can-money-buy-happiness">level off</a> once individuals have obtained enough wealth to live a comfortable life.</p> <p>This relationship has been observed at the country level, with multiple studies showing that, once a nation reaches a certain level of wealth, national happiness does not increase in parallel with extra wealth. This is known as the <a href="https://esrc.ukri.org/about-us/50-years-of-esrc/50-achievements/the-easterlin-paradox/">Easterlin paradox</a>. According to economist John Helliwell, a co-editor of the <a href="https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/changing-world-happiness/">World Happiness Report</a>, the <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8364900_The_Social_Context_of_Well-Being">social context</a> – marriage and family, ties to friends and neighbours, workplace ties, civic engagement, trustworthiness and trust – is more important than wealth.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JjLh0guxERQ"></iframe></div> <p>One reason given for why wealth doesn’t buy individuals any more happiness after a certain point is that money becomes both a reason and means to distance ourselves from others. To paraphrase Christopher Ryan, author of <a href="https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Civilized-to-Death/Christopher-Ryan/9781451659108">Civilized to Death: The Price of Progress</a>, what people tend to do with extra money is buy separation, whereas researchers “<a href="https://www.wired.com/story/why-are-rich-people-so-mean/">have concluded again and again</a> that the single most reliable predictor of happiness is feeling embedded in a community”.</p> <p>Extraordinary wealth, then, sets us against what we are programmed to do by evolution: seek out the company of others and band together in a community. Research has repeatedly shown this has a huge mental health cost.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MB5IX-np5fE"></iframe></div> <p>Importantly, too, how we earn our money affects how much we enjoy it. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29320930">Research</a> among more than 4,000 millionaires in the US, for example, showed those who were “self-made” were moderately happier than those who inherited their wealth.</p> <p>Taken together, these factors help explain why Harry and Meghan’s wealth might, psychologically speaking, be more curse than blessing.</p> <p><strong>The popularity paradox</strong></p> <p>Most of us, particularly teenagers, <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cracking-the-popularity-code/">crave popularity</a>. According to <a href="https://yougov.co.uk/ratings/politics/popularity/royalty/all">a YouGov poll</a>, Harry is the second-most-popular member of the British royal family – pipped only by Queen Elizabeth. Some are convinced <a href="https://theconversation.com/prince-harry-and-meghan-markle-why-half-in-half-out-just-isnt-an-option-for-royals-129726">he won’t keep this popularity</a> without his royal status.</p> <p>Why would someone want to give up being liked and loved by stepping out of the limelight?</p> <p>Because <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribution_(psychology)">psychological research</a> shows people feel less pride in their achievements if they attribute it to external reasons. In this case, that would being born as a royal for Harry, and being pretty and marrying into a royal family for Meghan. For their popularity and success to mean something, they would need some “internal attribution” – that it has something to do with their own abilities, effort and skill.</p> <p>In a world that values meritocracy, as Alain de Botton argues, we need to “own our success” — the very thing Harry and Meghan cannot do as royals.</p> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MtSE4rglxbY"></iframe></div> <p><strong>Trapped by certainty</strong></p> <p>Most of us aspire to being financially secure for the rest of our lives. Many of us would give a lot to know what lies ahead.</p> <p>But while there is comfort in some sense of security and predictability, knowing exactly what the future holds might be a curse. This is because humans thrive also on feeling a sense of freedom and choice.</p> <p>So just as having no certainty can take its mental toll, so does feeling one’s future is totally predetermined and that you have no real control over the way your life will unfold.</p> <p>Psychologists call the motivation to regain a freedom after it has been lost <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4675534/">reactance</a> – and this might be something strong within someone, for example, who has lost freedom due to marrying into a high-profile family.</p> <p><strong>Seizing control</strong></p> <p>Do the reasons above explain why Harry and Meghan have left the royal fold? We can’t say that. Only they know their motivations.</p> <p>But what we do know is that all the research points to fortune, fame and security not necessarily leading to a good, happy life. These things can in fact be burdens, <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0139156">bringing out</a> our worst, not our best.</p> <p>That happiness comes more from community connection, merit, effort and making our own decisions is good news for the rest of us. Let’s hope it works out for Harry and Meghan too.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/130132/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jolanda-jetten-301309">Jolanda Jetten</a>, Professor, School of Psychology, ARC Laureate Fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-backs-harry-and-meghan-turning-in-their-royal-privilege-fame-and-fortune-arent-the-keys-to-happiness-130132">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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BIG W begins massive cull of 30 stores across Australia

<p>Auburn, Chullora and Fairfield will be the first three Big W stores of a massive 30 store cull to be shut down within the coming months.</p> <p>As the retailer attempts to turn around a stunning $85 million loss at the hands of their savage competitors, Kmart and H&amp;M, 90 staff in each store will be getting the ruthless end of the stick.</p> <p>The closure process will put a $370 million dent in the company’s profit, and yet after a solid 10 months since announcing the “store review”, Big W’s owner, Woolworths Group, have yet to announce the remaining 27 branches that are yet to close.</p> <p>Big W bigwigs insist the once mighty retailer still has a future and some trimming of the store network will help “to accelerate the path to profitability”.</p> <p>The three doomed Sydney-based Big W stores will bring their shutters down for the final time on January 31.</p> <p>A Big W spokeswoman told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://over60.monday.com/boards/63889387/pulses/news.com.au" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em><span> </span>it acknowledged “closing any store isn’t easy on our teams and communities”.</p> <p>“The purpose of Big W’s store review, announced in April last year, is to build a strong, profitable and more sustainable store and distribution centre network that reflects our customers’ needs and the rapidly changing retail environment,” she said.</p> <p>The spokeswoman said staff have been offered redeployment to other stories or Woolworths supermarkets.</p> <p>Last year, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said there was “no alternative” but to shut down a number of their stores. However, he stressed that closing the chain altogether was not on the cards.</p> <p>Despite the major shutdown impending on Big W, there are positive signs for the retailer.</p> <p>Its $85 million full-year loss in 2019 was an improvement on the $110 million loss in the previous year.</p> <p>Sales were also up 4.2 per cent last year helped by clothing, online and click and collect.</p> <p>“The closure of 16 per cent of the Big W network is unlikely to be the end of the store rationalisation profile,” the 2019 note said.</p> <p>“Big W can confirm we are on track with our turnaround,” the store’s spokeswoman said.</p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

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Seniors are ditching their cars for car share apps

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">New research from car share company GoGet is seeing a trend of older people ditching their own vehicles in favour of car sharing, according to </span><a href="https://www.moneymag.com.au/seniors-opting-carshare"><span style="font-weight: 400;">MoneyMag</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to GoGet research, the number of seniors in Victoria signing up to the car share company has surged by 43 per cent last year, particularly in areas like the CBD. A total of 4,750 seniors were using a variety of vehicles, including vans, hatchbacks and convertibles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">GoGet is seeing this trend across Australia. In NSW, there was a 32.6 per cent increase, Queensland rose by a shocking 60.5 per cent, South Australia by 33.3 per cent and ACT by 32.4 per cent.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The car share company thinks that the cost of owning a private vehicle is a reason for the surge in use by seniors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With the cost of owning a private vehicle averaging $6,000 per year between registration, fuel, insurance, payments and maintenance is a marked expense.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Justin Passaportis, GoGet General Manager, says that the cost of owning a vehicle is tough to justify for some people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Vehicles are your second most expensive asset after your home," Passaportis says. "For an asset that's unused most of the time it's an expense many are looking to shed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Increasingly, we're seeing a trend of seniors joining GoGet as they seek to cut costs without sacrificing independence.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"As people approach retirement age, budgets tighten and many look to cut back on non-essentials. With the high ongoing cost of owning a vehicle, it is often one of the first things to go."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bruce Sims, 71, of Victoria, agrees.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It was relatively new and we found it worked very, very well. We have a car about a block away from us and the cost is certainly well below owning a car," Sims says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The primary reason we started using a car share service 12-13 years ago was because we live in the inner city and the parking is very difficult. Public transport is so good that you rarely need to use a car except for shopping or going away for the weekend.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I was finding that when we had a car I'd have to go out and start the engine in the middle of the week to make sure the battery didn't go flat."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Other car share options include Popcar, Flexicar, Car Next Door and DriveMyCar.</span></p>

Money & Banking

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"The company no longer has the right to exist": AMP sparks outrage

<p>Former AMP customers and consumer rights groups have been outraged by the wealth manager’s tactic to delay returning money that it stole in the “fees-for-no-service” scandal.</p> <p>The “fees-for-no-service” scandal included customers being charged ongoing fees by financial advisors despite not receiving a yearly review as well as charging accounts of people who have died.</p> <p>AMP is now putting the money that it stole into new accounts and then charging new fees.</p> <p>The company has been forced to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and charges that it took from clients, according to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-11/banks-drag-feet-on-fees-for-no-service-response-asic-says/10889194" target="_blank">ABC</a>.</p> <p>Late last year, AMP started to alert former clients about the money that it took in fees while providing no service and opened a new super account in the clients name instead of sending the money back to the client.</p> <p>"As your account with us is closed and we can't pay super benefits directly to you, we've paid this amount into a new AMP Eligible Rollover Fund [ERF] account that was opened in your name," it told them.</p> <p>The move has been slammed as “simply unbelievable” by regulatory and corporate governance academic Andy Schmulow, who lectures at the University of Wollongong.</p> <p>"It is simply unbelievable that after the horror show of the royal commission, AMP has learned nothing, it hasn't changed, won't change and demonstrates that the company no longer has the right to exist," Dr Schmulow said in an interview to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-21/amp-fees-for-no-service-scandal-cash-repaid-in-new-accounts/11883032" target="_blank">ABC</a>.</p> <p> An independent advocacy centre for superannuation customers has also criticised AMP’s move as a shameless grab for new accounts that can be charged the new fees.</p> <p>"This is absurd — people left the fund because it was ripping them off, they're now being forced to re-join to get their money back," Xavier O'Halloran from Super Consumers Australia said.</p> <p>"To make matters worse, they are being thrown into an AMP fund which has massively underperformed comparable funds over the longer term."</p> <p>While there is no entry or exit fees in the AMP fund, there is nothing said about the fees that are charged while the account is open.</p> <p>Administration fees for the fund start at 2.36 per cent with another 0.69 per cent charged as an investment fee.</p> <p>These are far heftier than the fees charged by some of Australia's top-performing investment funds, which return in excess of 20 per cent," Mr O'Halloran said.</p> <p>"For people with low balances, this looks like a naked attempt by AMP to claw back its ill-gotten gains."</p> <p>In the letter received by former clients however, they were urged by AMP not to do anything as the payment has already been made.</p> <p>The payment was made into new accounts that the customers knew nothing about.</p> <p>Mr O'Halloran said: "People would have been much better off being reunited with the money AMP stole from them by having it put into their existing super accounts."</p> <p>AMP responded briefly to questioning from the ABC, explaining why it didn’t first contact former clients before setting up new accounts on their behalf, saying that the practice was legal.</p> <p>It declined to say just how many new accounts were set up or why information about moving the money into a new super account wasn’t included in earlier correspondence to clients.</p> <p>"Remediating customers as quickly as possible is our priority — for members without a current AMP super account, payments were made through an eligible rollover fund (ERF), which was the fastest way to return money to clients and meets the legal requirement for the money to remain within superannuation," an AMP spokesman said.</p>

Money & Banking

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How much of your budget should be spent on health and fitness

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those with a budget, putting a price on health and fitness can be difficult. How much is too much?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Head of Fitness Australia, a not-for-profit industry association, Barrie Elvish says that you shouldn’t use money to avoid exercising all together.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The very straightforward answer is that there is no cost to fitness, or there's as much as you want to spend," he says to </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/life/how-much-of-our-budgets-should-be-allocated-to-fitness/11769830"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ABC Life</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Cost is a consideration, only if you want to make it a consideration."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He also says that if you feel like you must pay for fitness, it could be worth what you pay. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"The cost of not being physically active, to your purse and your wellbeing, is significantly higher," he says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Others have found out a way to work out for free, without compromising on the social aspect.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bek Foley, 25, does a free weekly timed 5-kilometre fun run held at parks in her local area.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I just love the community. You see the same faces all the time, with everyone passing you and giving you a high five and cheering you on," she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's all run by volunteers, and the fact we have that many people willing to give up their time adds to the atmosphere and keeps me coming back."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, some are willing to prioritise fitness and the cost it comes at as it is important to them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">48 year old Brisbane cyclist Rachel Edwards owns 20 bikes and spends hundreds of dollars a week pedalling after her passion for cycling.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7TxAoepGAT/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B7TxAoepGAT/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">❗️Competition alert 2010 I won my last @uci_cycling WC title in Australia. I am thrilled to go back to Down Under in one week with a new partner that refers to that year. 😎 Any guess? The ones that are right will have the chance to win a very special goodie box! Good luck! #cycling #TeamCancellara #Cancellara #timetrial #roadcycling</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/fabian_cancellara/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Fabian Cancellara</a> (@fabian_cancellara) on Jan 14, 2020 at 9:42am PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I like to compete, so my version of fitness is really also my social life," she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"I'll avoid buying clothes and general stuff that honestly you often don't even need. We are so inundated with 'buy this' messages — I resist those. My retail therapy is usually bike fashion related."</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Financial advisor Victoria Devine says that it’s also important to keep in mind just how much fitness is costing you.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"It's really important to remember that your values are not the values of other people," she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"If fitness is what drives you, and you get excited about it, and it makes you happy, it's literally down to personal values.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">"Ask yourself, would you be upset if it was taken away? If the answer is yes, you can figure out how to make it work."</span></p>

Money & Banking

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Federer and Nadal go above and beyond at Aussie Open's Rally for Relief

<p>The tennis world has dug deep to raise a staggering $4.8 million for bushfire victims in a night of thrilling entertainment at the Rally for Relief which took place at Rod Laver Arena.</p> <p>The man behind the groundbreaking initiative was none other than Aussie’s own Nick Kyrgios, who was completely overcome with emotion after the total figure of $4,826,014 was revealed to him on court.</p> <p>The crowd in Melbourne was thrilled as he went head-to-head with Roger Federer in a one-set finale that was the highlight on the night.</p> <p>“I just got goosebumps when you said that number,” said Kyrgios.</p> <p>“It’s been an emotional couple of weeks. I just wanted to send a message, I just had to do it so I wrote the Tweet.</p> <p>“The whole Aussie team got behind it and I woke up the next day and it exploded, it was so emotional.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">"It's been an emotional couple of weeks," says <a href="https://twitter.com/NickKyrgios?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NickKyrgios</a>.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rally4Relief?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rally4Relief</a> <br /><br />To contribute: <a href="https://t.co/a3qgsExZQj">https://t.co/a3qgsExZQj</a> <a href="https://t.co/RKvhFLyscU">pic.twitter.com/RKvhFLyscU</a></p> — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) <a href="https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1217393053138288640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>“Back home at Canberra I couldn’t even go outside (due to the smoke), it was hard and I’m just so happy that we had Roger, Rafa, Novak – some of the greats – to get behind this.”</p> <p>The one-off special event saw some of the biggest names in tennis taking part, including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, who donated their time to encourage support for charities helping deal with the bushfire crisis.</p> <p>The night was enjoyed by many, as the atmosphere was lighthearted with 12 players competing in a series of jovial matches and challenges to help raise money for the natural disaster.</p> <p>Spanish favourite Nadal also made a major announcement, revealing that he and Federer had donated a cumulative $250,000 from their own pockets after chatting earlier in the day.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">"Talking with Roger, we decided to give $250,000 together." 👏 👏 👏 👏<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rally4Relief?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rally4Relief</a><br /><br />To contribute: <a href="https://t.co/9RPgZ7cBoB">https://t.co/9RPgZ7cBoB</a> <a href="https://t.co/ocdiw8D0if">pic.twitter.com/ocdiw8D0if</a></p> — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) <a href="https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1217378578188447745?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2020</a></blockquote> <p>“Talking with Roger a couple of hours ago we decided to give $250,000 Australian dollars to the bushfire relief together,” he said.</p> <p>“Hopefully that can keep inspiring people to support this terrible disaster that we were going through and helps to recover all the things that we need (sic).”</p> <p>Later in the night, a Victorian firefighter had her dreams come true after she was given the chance to play with Nadal himself for an epic doubles match.</p> <p>Deb, a member of the Stuart Mill fire brigade, revealed on air that for the last few weeks she has been involved in battling fires in the crisis gripping the country.</p> <p>She admitted that it had been a very difficult time, as she witnessed neighbourhoods and wildlife being destroyed due to the fires.</p> <p>"We're there trying to make all the farmers feel safe while they go about their business."</p>

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Westpac to pay one year off mortgages for fire-affected customers

<p>Westpac has announced that it will pay one year off the mortgages for customers who lost their homes this bushfire season.</p> <p>Customers who took out mortgages through the bank will have their repayments paid for up to $1,200 per month over a period of one year, acting chief executive Peter King said.</p> <p>“These initiatives are designed to provide practical, on the ground support for our customers, our people and for those who are caring for affected communities,” King said in a statement.</p> <p>“In times of such unprecedented devastation, we want customers and communities to know we’re here to help alleviate financial concerns so they can rebuild their lives, homes and businesses.”</p> <p>Customers who need to rebuild their place of residence will also be eligible for interest free home loans through the Bushfire Recovery Support Package, while businesses may access low-interest loans.</p> <p>The initiative is Westpac’s latest effort to support bushfire-affected communities. Last week, the bank announced a $1.5 million Bushfire Fund, including emergency grants of up to $2,000 for temporary accommodation, food and clothing.</p> <p>There have been 10,550 insurance claims valued at $939 million lodged with Westpac as of Friday, the bank said.</p> <p>All four major banks have announced disaster relief packages. Commonwealth Bank and NAB each established a $1 million bushfire relief fund, while ANZ pledged $500,000 to support affected home loan customers and local community services.</p> <p>Westpac estimated that the bushfire crisis will cost Australia <a href="https://indaily.com.au/news/business/2020/01/13/bushfires-to-cost-nation-5b-westpac/">$5 billion in direct losses</a> and chip the country’s economic growth by 0.2 to 0.5 per cent.</p>

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Aussies warned of changes that impact their finances in 2020

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are many changes coming in the year 2020 that will impact the finances of Australians nationwide if they’re unaware of them, according to </span><a href="https://www.finder.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finder</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From rate cuts to health insurance hikes, here’s what you need to know in 2020.</span></p> <p><strong>New rock-bottom cash rate in February</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Further cash rate cuts are coming in 2020, as 66 per cent of Finder’s RBA panellists predicted another cut in February.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This means that Australia’s official cash rate would plummet to just 0.50 per cent.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Record-low interest rates mean that homeowners will be able to save a significant amount of money over the life of their loan as well,” explained Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"><br /></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">“With over a million mortgage customers considering a switch this year, it will be interesting to see which lenders pass on the rate cuts, ” she said. </span></p> <p><strong>Open banking</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Open banking means that the Big Four banks, which are Commonwealth Bank, NAB, ANZ and Westpac, are required to provide access to customer and account data.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">They are required to provide access to data for credit and debit cards, deposit accounts and transaction accounts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This means that Australians are able to share their personal transaction data to get a better deal.</span></p> <p><strong>Health insurance price hike</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Health insurance premiums are set to rise again this year and are looking to increase by 2.92 per cent on average from April 1</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">st</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. However, this percentage is not set in stone and will vary across the funds.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Browne said that comparisons against funds should be done every year so you can stay on top of price hikes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Compare your premium every year and switch to a fund that won’t cost more. If you switch a policy with the same level of cover as your current one, you won’t need to reserve waiting periods,” Browne said. </span></p>

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4 money-saving resolutions you should make this year

<p>Could this be the year you get your finances in order? A savings plan doesn’t need to be overwhelming, try these seven tips that Patty Cathey, financial advisor at Smart Retirement Plan uses with her clients to keep them on track.</p> <p><strong>1. Track your spending</strong></p> <p>Some financial mishaps happen simply because we aren’t paying close enough attention to our spending habits. Once you have taken an inventory of your finances, watch your spending for unnecessary expenses. “Take out the magnifying glass and take notice of the details in your financial picture,” Cathey advises. “Comb through your credit card statements to see if there’s any unnecessary spending or charges. Are you paying for a gym membership or cable channels you don’t use? Is there a charge you didn’t make that could be fraud? Paying attention to the little things can make a big difference in your finances.”</p> <p><strong>2. Start small</strong></p> <p>When the New Year rolls around, the temptation is to make extreme financial resolutions all at once. But don’t get so caught up in your resolutions that you set yourself up for failure. Cathey advises her clients to make small changes to their spending, since they are more maintainable over time. “Taking a baby step in cutting your spending can start you on the path to even bigger savings,” Cathey encourages. “For example, instead of cutting out your morning coffee completely, cut out one cup per week in January. Same thing goes for bringing a lunch to work: try packing a lunch one day. You may find it’s easier than you realise.” By February you may be skipping two lattés and bringing your lunch twice a week.</p> <p><strong>3. Wait before you swipe</strong></p> <p>Make a new habit of waiting before you spend on an unplanned purchase. Did you spot a piece of house decor at Target during a nappy run? Take time to think about the purchase before you swipe your credit card. “Apply the 48-hour rule by giving yourself a mandatory waiting period before making a big purchase,” Cathey says. “Many times, you’ll forget about the item you so desperately wanted when you’re in the store. If you still want or think you need it after 48 hours, talk over the purchase with a spouse or loved one.”</p> <p><strong>4. Pay yourself first</strong></p> <p>Even if you mean well, life can get in the way of prioritising saving for emergencies or getting ready for your retirement. David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, encourages individuals with big financial goals to start by making their savings automatic each time they get paid. “Adding a small amount to your savings is pain free and pays off in the long run” he says. Then, utilise online banking tools to efficiently distribute money into different accounts including: retirement, emergency and mortgage payments, credit card, and other recurring bills.</p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/financial-resolutions/">RD.com</a></em></p> <p><em>Written by Mary Sauer. This article first appeared in </em><span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/money/7-money-saving-resolutions-you-should-make-this-new-yea"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></span></p>

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"Just perfect": Family affected by bushfires surprised by $1 million lotto win

<p>A Queensland mans whose family property was destroyed in bushfire has won $1 million in a lottery win that will allow the family to rebuild.</p> <p>The winner wishes to remain anonymous but lives in Redland, south of Brisbane. His family owned a property in northern New South Wales that was devastated by the bushfires.</p> <p>Lauren Cooney from The Lott notified him of the win and said that the man was overcome with emotion.</p> <p>"He told me his family had just lost their home in the bushfires," she said to the<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-09/bushfire-destroyed-home-then-owner-wins-lottery/11855640?pfmredir=sm&amp;sf227733330=1&amp;fbclid=IwAR3a-7QY21rcqyk7Yq3RD8TzmVCd_cMWIR0dgofE9z6woiYBz8k2dNQ0cB4" target="_blank">ABC</a></em>.</p> <p>"The home wasn't insured, so this prize meant that they would be able to rebuild which initially, they thought they wouldn't be able to," she said.</p> <p>The man said to Cooney that the family had returned to the property, which was “very sentimental and special to them”.</p> <p>"They were going through the site looking for any special family mementoes that they could salvage, but all they could find was some teacups,” Cooney explained.</p> <p>However, this win has turned things around. As the man was the only division one winning entry to the draw, he is able to claim the whole $1 million prize.</p> <p>He said that the circumstances were “just perfect”.</p> <p>"He said he couldn't have imagined more impeccable timing which meant that he could use his prize to rebuild their family home," Ms Cooney said.</p>

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Andrew Twiggy and Nicola Forest pledge incredible $70 million to bushfire crisis

<p>Billionaire Australian businessman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and his wife Nicole will be parting ways with $70 million as a bushfire recovery package. </p> <p>The Western Australian mining magnate will be spending $50 million on a “national blueprint” for fire and disaster to develop new approaches to fight the serious threat of bushfires. </p> <p>“We know that this is a matter of national resilience,” Mr Forrest told reporters in Perth. </p> <p>“This goes to a holistic assessment of where the nation is at and what we need to do to improve resilience.”</p> <p>Forrest will further provide an additional $10 million through the couple’s Minderoo Foundation to build a “volunteer army” which will be deployed through different regions that have been devastated by bushfires. </p> <p>They will also contribute a further $10 million for communities that are working in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other agencies on the forefront. </p> <p>The foundation has also established a Fire Fund and the Forrests say they will match every dollar donated with two dollars.</p> <p>“We are here representing a family and from our family to your families, your fire-affected families, the wildlife, the children who are devastated, the parents who have lost farms and properties and homes and dreams, we are here with our family to help support your family,” he said.</p> <p>Mr Forrest said they are “so proud to be Australians” and to see everyone rallying together “during this cataclysmic time”.</p> <p>The businessman hopes to raise $500 million through a global campaign to establish a long-term bushfire research project.</p> <p>“We are stepping up, as we did for the Black Saturday bushfires, to go out to the communities in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, find out what you need, what your families need, what your communities need and to help you, not rebuild to perhaps what you had, but to plan for what could be – what may be even better,” he said.</p> <p>“I would just like to say, on behalf of all of the Minderoo Foundation and all West Australians, that we weep along with Australia, along with you and, as a family and as a foundation, we would like to step up and help you. Thank you.”</p> <p>The federal government has committed at least $2 billion towards the bushfire recovery and further established a new national agency to co-ordinate efforts on the ground. </p> <p>This will be run by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin. </p> <p>The NSW and Victorian governments have set up similar agencies at a state level.</p> <p>Prime Minister Scott Morrison said “tremendous generosity” has been expressed by many people all over the nation, from billionaires “down to boys and girls raising money in their local schools”.</p> <p>“Can I start by acknowledging the tremendous generosity of so many Australians, whether it is James Packer or Anthony Pratt, or Andrew Forrest, or whoever it happens to be,” he told reporters in Canberra. </p> <p>“The generosity of that response, I think, has been simply extraordinary.</p> <p>“It’s important that we work hard to best channel and co-ordinate that support that is coming through into the areas of greatest need.”</p> <p>Mr Colvin said they had spoken to Mr Forrest.</p> <p>“Very generous what he’s put together,” he said today.</p> <p>“He’s done this before. Last thing I’m gonna do is step in the way of that. I will make sure it’s best utilised.”</p> <p>Mr Forrest is seventh on Forbes’ ‘Australia’s 50 Richest People’ list with a net worth of $US8.8 billion ($A12.8 billion).</p>

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