AMP’s class action burden an argument for change

The Australian  |  Friday 13 July 2018

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Thanks to the combined efforts of the civil justice system and the nation’s leading class action law firms, something incredible has happened: AMP’s public image has been transformed.

This company’s public standing was shredded at the banking royal commission. But it has now been subjected to such ludicrous and wasteful treatment by the civil justice system that it is impossible not to sympathise.

Tax return over-claimers gouge $8.7bn, says ATO

The Australian  |  Thursday 12 July 2018

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Individual Australians who overclaimed on their tax returns cost the federal budget almost $9 billion in the 2014-15 financial year alone, new analysis by the tax ­office has found.

For the first time, the Australian Taxation Office has published the income tax gap for individuals not in business, finding that the difference between the tax it collected and the amount that would have been raised if all taxpayers had been compliant amounted to a stunning $8.7bn, or 6.4 per cent of the total tax take for that category.

170 burgers to feed the Gold Coast's mini Olympians

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The Rapid Relief Team (RRT) volunteered at Wesley Mission Queensland’s Winter Olympics on Thursday 12 July. This is the fourth year in a row the RRT has served a delicious lunch to the children and event organisers.

The annual Winter Olympics offers fun school holiday activities to disadvantaged children from four youth hubs on the Gold Coast. This year, more than 100 children competed in races including egg and spoon, and relays around Nerang Velodrome.

An initiative of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the RRT is staffed by Church volunteers who provide catering services during a range of charitable events and emergencies.

Lloyd Grimshaw from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, said the RRT jumped at the chance to contribute again at mini Winter Olympics this year.

“The RRT is thrilled to offer further assistance to the Wesley Mission Queensland in their efforts to provide care for young people who are facing hardship,” Mr Grimshaw said.

“RRT volunteers are always delighted to hear the children comment on how much they enjoy the food we prepare for them and how the organisers appreciate our smiles and kind words.”

Tina Adams, Wesley Mission’s Coordinator of Youth Hubs, is appreciative that RRT generously contributed again this year.

“Many of our kids and organisers comment each year there would not be a Winter Olympics without the RRT,” Ms Adams said.

“Our kids love the RRT. Every year the RRT take the time to talk to and engage with the kids. They tirelessly give their time and generosity. We are so grateful for the RRT’s continued support.”

ATO to more carefully probe tax agent behaviour in bid to close $8.7 billion revenue gap

Australian Financial Review  |  Thursday 12 July 2018

 Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan. The ATO wants to recoup $1 billion from extra enforcement and audit measures.Alex Ellinghausen

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan. The ATO wants to recoup $1 billion from extra enforcement and audit measures.Alex Ellinghausen

The ATO is preparing to weaponise new government funding to recover $1 billion from taxpayers and tax agents deliberately and aggressively contributing to the Australia's tax gap.

Figures released on Thursday showed about $8.7 billion of the nation's tax base is being lost each year through dodgy personal claims, incorrect work-related expenses, deductions related to rental properties and $1.4 billion in cash wages.

Wheelchair team sports in New England thanks to combined funding efforts

 Wheelchair Sports NSW's Joe Shoebridge goes through the rules with the players.

Wheelchair Sports NSW's Joe Shoebridge goes through the rules with the players.

SPORTS enthusiasts with disabilities and their able-bodied teammates will be able to play together right here in the New England region after the purchase of 10 sports wheelchairs.

The new chairs were handed over to the community at a MET schools sports day at Tamworth Sports Dome today.

Upper Hunter representatives attend RFSA’s Protect and Connect Conference

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SOME 500 rural firefighters, including a number from the Upper Hunter, spent the weekend at Rosehill at the RFSA’s Protect and Connect Conference, learning about the latest firefighting techniques, the newest technology and the best research from around the country.

The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) event brought hundreds of firefighter volunteers together from across NSW to learn, share perspectives, adopt practices, and establish meaningful connections with each other.

Helping the homeless in Western Sydney

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The Rapid Relief Team (RRT), an initiative of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, is boosting its support for Western Sydney’s homeless and joining the Western Sydney Homeless Connect Steering Committee (WSHC) for the first time.

The WSHC launched in June at Parramatta Square, and included the RRT, St Vincent de Paul NSW and Parramatta Mission. The WSHC will be held on Monday 6 August and provide a ‘one stop shop’ for homeless people or people who are at risk of becoming homeless.

The RRT is expecting to feed gourmet burgers and barista coffee to 1000 homeless people at the WSHC in August. The RRT is committed to this cause as it is within the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church’s ethos to bring about enduring change for the most vulnerable people.

Staffed by Plymouth Brethren Christian Church volunteers, the RRT provides catering services during a range of emergencies and charitable events. The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church established the RRT in 2013 to express the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church’s principles of care and compassion.

The RRT has a long history of reaching out to people who are experiencing homelessness. In Australia last year, the Rapid Relief Team volunteered onsite at more than 115 events to support people who are experiencing homelessness in Australia.

'Drastic changes' needed for most vulnerable children: report

The Sydney Morning Herald  |  Monday 2 July 2018

 Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward. Photo: Daniel Munoz

As many as 30,000 children in NSW who are at risk of significant harm have their cases closed before they are contacted by a caseworker, warns a new report into the state's child protection system.

The report, by child and families advocacy body Fams, says the current system is too focused on crisis rather than prevention, resulting in "catching people who fall through the cracks, not fixing them".

Yaka Bulu Mari-No More Violence

 Rirratjingu traditional dancers at welcome Bungal for the 2nd Aboriginal Family Violence Policing Conference, Yirrkala. 21/06/18. (David Williams Gilimbaa)

Rirratjingu traditional dancers at welcome Bungal for the 2nd Aboriginal Family Violence Policing Conference, Yirrkala. 21/06/18. (David Williams Gilimbaa)

Yaka Bulu Mari are the Yolngu words for No More Violence.

It's a strong message that Senior Traditional Owner Wityana Marika continues to teach young men in his community as they dance through their songlines and ceremony.

The cruel disease running rampant across the NT

 Rirratjingu elders Witiyana Marika and Bakamumu Marika are both lucky to be alive after suffering severe heart problems. Bakamumu died twice on the operating table after a massive cardiac arrest in Yirrkala two years ago

Rirratjingu elders Witiyana Marika and Bakamumu Marika are both lucky to be alive after suffering severe heart problems. Bakamumu died twice on the operating table after a massive cardiac arrest in Yirrkala two years ago

FEDERAL Budget night, Canberra, 2018. The man in control of the nation’s moneybags, Treasurer Scott Morrison, steps up to the Lower House lectern to unfurl his department’s plan for how to distribute Australia’s wealth.

He’s got a wry smile on his face. A promise to slash taxes among the working middle class could prove popular with voters and score his battle worn Liberal colleagues another dash across the line on election day 2019.

Keep Sydney Open announces new political party

Today, Keep Sydney Open is announcing its official registration as a state political party in NSW. It will contest seats in both houses of Parliament at the 2019 NSW state election, with a focus on seats in the Legislative Council or ‘upper house’.

The effort was achieved after a 6-month campaign, where Keep Sydney Open was able to meet the requirements to register with the NSW Electoral Commission. The party registration process in NSW is noted as being the most difficult in Australia.

Tyson Koh, spokesperson for the party, said: “This is bigger than a rally — way bigger. By putting lockout laws on the ballot of next year’s election, people now have a real choice and a course of action to rescind these laws, wind back the ‘nanny state’ and build a 24-hour city.

“For more than over four years, our group has represented every person who believes that lockout laws were a knee-jerk reaction. We see with our own eyes that these laws have devastated the both the night-time economy and reputation of what was once a vibrant international city.”

The KSO campaign has so far achieved:

  • A 30-minute relaxation of lockout laws and cease of service times for music venues;
  • A pushback of bottle shop closing times from 10pm to 11pm across NSW;
  • A lifting of lockout laws for the Mardi Gras parade;
  • Changes to ‘small bar’ regulations; and
  • A turning of the state of Sydney’s nightlife into a mainstream issue.

“We all know that Sydney is a magical place, but the magic has been missing for some time,” Koh said. “People now recognise that the NSW Government is largely responsible for this.

“What many don’t realise, however, is that Keep Sydney Open’s supporters were never concerned with lockouts alone. Instead, we’ve come together with a common desire to make this the best city it can be. We know that it’s not about what time we can enter a venue, it’s about asking: What city do we want?

“We are the first party in NSW set up to address cultural and youth issues. Young people all over NSW who would ordinarily vote Liberal or Labor are looking at those parties’ policies with bewilderment. We feel cheated, and being locked out of social spaces as well as the housing market has led to a generation of disillusioned young adults.

“We’ve spent over a century organically cultivating social precincts without government interference. The people of Sydney deeply resent their playground being destroyed. We don’t want to be known as a ‘casino city’, and want to address the corrupt governance that’s destroying Sydney.

“We know that a confident and diverse nightlife is a safer and more welcoming. We advocate for a suite of interventions across transport, law enforcement, public health, creative industries, licensing and planning. An approach that respects data, expertise, genuine consultation, transparency and good governance will have a great impact on the day-time economy too.

“In short, we want to be proud of Sydney again.”