Category Archive:南京夜网


A toast to life

June 10th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Facing a terrible diagnosis, doctor Ian Davis finds solace and purpose in the art of brewing.
Nanjing Night Net

I STILL remember the first day I realised something was wrong. The day when my life’s path would be irreversibly altered and I would leave my role as caregiver and doctor, and begin my gradual surrender into the role of patient.

There was nothing special about that day, just an average workday within a busy hospital haematology ward, managing patients diagnosed with blood cancers. I was leading my usual 8am ward round, examining my patients and investigating any issues that had developed during the night. Seeking and managing symptoms, complications or side effects from the chemotherapy I had prescribed.

Little did I know that my attention to detail would set off a chain of events leading to my diagnosis, and ultimately to where I am now.

That day one of my patients was complaining about a ”funny feeling” in his left foot, a dysaesthesia we call it. The night-time resident doctor had seen him and had dismissed this as a somatic manifestation of the patient’s extreme anxiety. It turned out this patient had every right to be scared.

In the morning, I made my own assessment. I worked my way through a neurological examination, probing and testing his peripheral and central nervous systems, looking for signs of pathology. I got him out of bed, and to stand on his toes, and then on his heels to demonstrate the strength within his lower leg muscles. He was unable to stand on his heels. He had a ”foot drop”, weakness in the muscles that lift the toes and foot off the ground.

He was horrified, I’m told. The chemotherapy had indeed damaged his nerves, and it was obvious for all of us to see. But I missed his reaction. I was transfixed by my own legs. He couldn’t stand on his heels, and neither could I.

That night my wife Mel and I walked our two dogs, and during the walk I could hear the faint sound of my left foot slapping the ground with each step. It was still there, it wasn’t just a pinched nerve, I hadn’t just slept funny. We got home and I lay on the bed and I asked Mel, my then fiancee, who is also a doctor, to examine my legs. I was 33 years old, and it would turn out that I have motor neuron disease (MND).

The road to a diagnosis for most MND patients is long and arduous. I was fortunate. I had a short cut. I quietly approached one of my colleagues for help and within two days I had undergone nerve conduction studies, a muscle and nerve biopsy, a lumbar puncture, a battery of blood tests, and a whole spine MRI. All motor neuron patients ultimately understand that each element of this is a grasp at hope, a grasp for an alternative, a grasp for something else – please, anything else.

MND is a diagnosis of exclusion; there is no one test, no one defining feature. Often sufferers are left with a title of ”possible” or ”likely” MND, with time ultimately being the final arbiter. Thanks to my training, I had inside knowledge about this disease and no matter how much I longed to see the distorted anatomy or bright intensity signals on my MRI that would point to a simpler, more treatable cause, I knew deep down they would not be there.

I remembered that first night after our walk. Mel had examined me, I saw the signs. She had demonstrated them to me. I was good at neurology, this was MND. That night I answered her question honestly when, with tears in her eyes, she asked me, ”could this be anything else?” My training, knowledge, and gut feeling said no.

By the time we saw the neurologists I was certain. The preceding hours and days were spent going through alternatives in my head and I undertook an extensive library and internet search. Nothing else had come up. Hearing the first and then the second neurologist actually mouth the words in some ways was a relief legitimising my fears, but at the same time, as he said those words, my life, my future, collapsed. All was replaced by unfamiliar emotions: dread, fear and, on the drive home, panic. I knew about this disease. I knew what lay ahead. I was, and still am, terrified.

MOTOR neuron disease was originally described by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in 1869, and is also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is one of modern medicine’s failures. That’s a personal and obviously biased opinion, but I think most in the medical community would agree. It has been 71 years since Lou Gehrig, the famous New York Yankees baseball player and self-proclaimed ”luckiest man on earth”, died from this disease. He died on my birthday, June 2, in 1941, and as a doctor I am ashamed to say that from a practical point of view for patients, little more is known about the cause, and certainly no truly effective therapy is on the horizon.

MND is a progressive neurodegenerative affliction, a gradual imprisonment, where an accumulation of disability leads to a gradual but inevitable reduction in independence. Patients live on average two to three years after being diagnosed. In the simplest terms, the disease attacks and kills the motor nerve cells within the brain and spinal cord, destroying the means by which messages are sent to the body’s voluntary muscles. When they are gone, the muscles atrophy and die, taking with them our ability to move. Forever. My mind and intellect will not be affected. I will bear witness to it all.

There are about 1400-1700 people living with the disease at any time in Australia, but we don’t live long enough for the the prevalence to rise. Recent statistics have shown, however, that the incidence of this disease is rising, with 450 deaths secondary to MND in Australia in 2000, but 596 in 2009 – the cause of this 30 per cent increase in mortality is unknown.

Sure, it’s a rare disease, but in real terms every day at least one person will be diagnosed and another will die as a consequence of MND. It strikes at anyone, often with no warning. Ten per cent of disease is inherited. The remainder, like me, grapple every day with the often and inevitable question: ”Why me?”

The disease is now mainly in my legs. I have a brace and use a walking stick when my leg becomes tired. I know it’s spreading. My muscles constantly twitch. Intermittent cramps in seemingly unaffected parts of my body signal that the disease is spreading. I feel these butterflies under my skin in my arms, back, and left side of my face. I just have to wait for the weakness to begin.

The only treatment available is largely ineffectual. Borderline efficacy data has allowed the drug to reach the market, but for many people the cost and side effects are prohibitive. The medication prolongs the average life expectancy or time to needing a ventilator by about three months. I take it. I’m not sure I really want to prolong the back half of this disease though, and I take it in the hope of slowing progression. I don’t know if it is working. The disease marches on.

Despite MND being granted ”orphan disease status” by the Food and Drug Administration in the US – which is meant to encourage research – there has been little advance. Developers of so-called ”orphan drugs” aimed at treating rare disease get more leeway with statistical analysis, potential tax incentives, and enhanced patent protection and marketing rights. But drug developers have still been slow to get on board. Patients are diagnosed with MND at nearly the same rate as many other neurodegenerative diseases, but the fact stands: we don’t live long enough to create a burden on society, so there is no incentive for governments or pharmaceutical companies to pursue new treatments. There isn’t enough profit to be made. Cynical I know, but nevertheless true.

TO LIVE with this disease, I have come to the realisation that I need to achieve two goals: complete acceptance and complete surrender.

First, acceptance. This is a constant process, one in which I am continuing to reframe my perspectives on this disease and how I let it affect my life. The progressive disability needs to be incorporated into a constantly evolving acceptance. I think I have the internal strength to do this. I hope I do. However, one of the hardest things has been recognising that others will need to accept the disease as well, and in turn I need to accept and acknowledge their response, in whatever form it comes.

In a recent discussion with a psychologist, the issue of secrecy came up. I have kept my diagnosis secret for almost a year, with only the closest of friends and family aware. Surely telling others was one of the first steps to true acceptance, so why have I kept it secret? I told myself that eventually everyone would know, the disease would see to that. My body would betray my secret, but until then I didn’t want people to treat me differently.

This element, not wanting to be seen as a sick version of my former self now interests me, and it turns out I’m not alone. The psychologist referred me to a book, Stories of Sickness by Howard Brody. In the chapter about the relationships of patients with those around them, Brody refers to the ”Gregor Effect”, in reference to German author Franz Kafka’s 1915 short story The Metamorphosis. In the story, the protagonist Gregor Samsa turns into an insect. His family and friends, although at times empathetic and still loving, find ways to avoid him, to distance themselves from his ”illness”. Psychologists ascribe this ”Gregor effect” to how some view the terminally ill. We make you uncomfortable, scared, and at times make you challenge your own mortality.

I know this firsthand. My work in haematology means I deal with patients suffering from terminal diseases. I would comfort them, advise them, treat them, and prognosticate for them with clinical efficiency at work. I was never cold, I was professional, I could empathise, but I always kept them distant. If I saw my patients outside office hours, I would often turn around rather than interact with them and face how they made me feel. On a social level, I feared the awkwardness of the situation. I worry about this now happening to me. Will people fear interacting with me, and treat me differently? I fear walking into a room and my entrance starting an awkward silence. You can probably see a recurring theme here – I need to accept fear.

Second is surrender. This one seems easy. I’m not talking about surrendering to the disease and surrendering all hope. That will not happen, not any more. Rather, I mean surrender to inevitability and accept my future disability. Trust that others will look after me. Easier said than done.

More recently I find myself looking for new inspiration. I must admit I am much more easily inspired these days. I search for renewed passion, for something I can try to excel at, something where I can aim to leave my mark on this world when I can no longer work as a doctor.

Again, it turns out I’m not alone. This phenomenon is known well to geriatricians, who call it ”generativity”. It is common among the elderly at the end of their productive lives, and, as I am finding, common among the terminally ill. It describes the emotions and regrets a person has when lost opportunities are mourned and individuals find themselves longing for more time, endurance and chances. They wish to have produced something meaningful, something to have made a difference. For some it is through professional endeavours. I will very likely not finish my training, and will not know what this feels like. For others, it is through starting a family and creating a legacy. Again, with much heartache, I know this will not be possible. So I need to focus on what I can do now, and enable others to help the cause when I’m gone.

INSPIRATION, hope and purpose can come from strange places, and for me it was tasting an artisan ale. I guess you could call it my epiphany ale. I had been searching for something, anything I may be able to do – something that did not require my legs. Something that would need my brain, my passion, my drive. I turned to my medical school hobby of home brewing beer. I will not go into detail, but the brewers among you know the satisfaction I’m talking about. On my birthday this year, a mixed six-pack of craft beer from my sister-in-law showed me the way. The first ale I tried was perfect. Why not make a beer for MND? Why not use beer to raise awareness of the disease across Australia and to raise funds for research and equipment?

I had to make this happen. So I found my epiphany ale’s website, emailed the brewers, and to my delight the guys from Cavalier Brewing responded in less than 24 hours. They would help, and most importantly they were excited by the idea. From then on Steve, Heath and Andrew have been amazing, and our plans for launching the beer later this year are well under way. The name we have decided on is Cavalier Courage, with the concept and design of the beer based on the myth of Sisyphus. Albert Camus’ essay on the ill-fated king resonates with me and probably all people with MND. Condemned to the underworld, Sisyphus’ punishment was to push a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down to the bottom each time he reached the top. For me, this represents what MND patients go through.

This disease takes something away from us. We adapt, but when we think things are stable it takes something else. The rock rolls back down. I now use a cane intermittently and a knee brace and I am back at the top of the hill. But I know my rock is delicately balanced and in time I will need to push again.

Despite thinking that Sisyphus should be the most miserable man ever, Camus proposed that we should think of him as ”happy”, in that the process of pushing the rock, no matter how draining and depressing it seems, can be enough, if we accept it, to fill us with purpose. He wrote: ”The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”

This beer will pay tribute to all MND patients and hopefully give incentive for all of us to start pushing again. I am not alone in this battle. I have gained much wisdom, passion and encouragement from other sufferers. One person who touched me early after my diagnosis, and during one of my darker days, was Scott Sullivan. He is an MND sufferer, a Queenslander, a father, and an absolute hero. He founded the MND and Me Foundation and strives to raise funds for research and awareness. The other is Zo-ee in Melbourne, named after the Greek word meaning life, formed by Karen and Gina after Karen’s mother was diagnosed with MND in 2005. The profits from Cavalier Courage Ale will go to these two great associations.

Where I will be in one week, one month, or even one year is anyone’s guess. It is, however, a surety that I will get weaker. I will experience good days and darker times, but I can now see some light, and it’s the ratio of the two I’m working on. I continue to gain strength with the help of family, friends and, more recently, strangers.

I often think of a quote by the Jewish neurologist Viktor Frankl from his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, written after he was released from a concentration camp in 1945. Mel and I first became aware of his work while visiting the concentration camp museum at Dachau, in Germany. Even in this place, the first of Nazi Germany’s death camps, the human spirit could endure. The quote is: ”Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

This disease is going to destroy me physically. It will try to take everything from me. To a large extent it will succeed. My independence, my dignity, my career, and my plans of a family and growing old with Mel will be taken. This quote makes me realise, however, that some things are off limits. I’ve never been a religious man, but I do believe in an individual’s spirit, and the disease can’t have mine. I may not yet see myself as ”the luckiest man alive”, but I’ll keep working on it, Lou. Until then, with the help of my family and friends I’ll continue to live in the present tense – it just makes much more sense.



This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Former detective inspector Malcolm Brammer (left) and former detective sergeant John Dolan in 1991.Documents obtained by The Sun-Herald, allege some officers in Special Crime and Internal Affairs – or SCIA – falsified information to obtain listening devices, telephone intercepts and search warrants and, in one case, induced a criminal to commit perjury in front of a magistrate.
Nanjing Night Net

They also show that Parliament, the public and rank-and-file police have been repeatedly misled about the reasons why one listening device warrant contained the names of 112 serving and former police and two civilians, including a journalist.

In that case, many officers, including the present deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, believed they were victims of a personal “vendetta” by officers within SCIA.

And M5 – the corrupt officer turned undercover operator who secretly taped his colleagues – agreed. He told investigators: “I was assisting, nurturing corruption.” He also said: ”I smelt a rat … I was settling old scores which related to my supervising Superintendent.”

The bombshell allegations are contained in long-suppressed reports of internal strike forces code-named Sibutu, Tumen and Emblems, which were established to investigate complaints made about SCIA between 1997 and 2002.

The Sun-Herald has now seen copies of all three reports, which the police hierarchy and successive governments have refused to release.

Strike Force Emblems was set up in 2003 to investigate a controversial listening-device warrant approved in September, 2000. It contained the names of 112 serving and former police and two civilians – and it was one of dozens sought by SCIA officers and the NSW Crime Commission, which were running a covert inquiry into police corruption, Operation Mascot.

But its net was so wide that it placed under surveillance dozens of honest officers, including the current deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes, Assistant Commissioner Ken Mackay, and Detective Superintendent Paul Jones.

The key player in Operation Mascot was a corrupt NSW cop, code-named M5, who wore a listening device for two and a half years and recorded hundreds of conversations with his colleagues. His home was also bugged, as was his car, his briefcase and his mobile phone.

The Emblems report says eight SCIA officers, including its then boss, Assistant Commissioner Mal Brammer, his deputy Superintendent John Dolan and then acting Inspector Cath Burn were among those investigated. Ms Burn is now Mr Kaldas’s fellow deputy commissioner, and both are touted as potential commissioners. Emblems does not make any findings against any particular officer.

It says its inquiries were hampered by the refusal of the NSW Crime Commission to hand over crucial documents, including affidavits, and it therefore could not reach definitive conclusions.

Nevertheless, it found:

There were clear indications that “criminal conduct may have occurred surrounding the affidavit”.

On the available evidence there was no justification for 54 serving and former police and the journalist Steve Barrett being placed on the listening-device warrant.

Previous Strike Forces Sibutu, Tumen and Operation Banks had identified “systemic corruption and mismanagement” within SCIA in relation to listening devices, telephone intercepts and search warrants. Serious adverse findings of corruption had been found against senior officers attached to SCIA.

Strike Force Emblems suspected similar “alleged corruption”. It reveals M5 became disillusioned with his SCIA handlers and believed they were sending him to record conversations with honest police in a bid to settle old scores. It is believed one of those was Mr Kaldas.

It is well known in police circles that at one stage, Mr Kaldas and John Dolan had a serious disagreement. Emblems says that, about a month after that confrontation, M5 approached Mr Kaldas, who then became suspicious and reported the matter to the then deputy commissioner, Ken Moroney.

M5, who worked undercover between February 1999 and mid-2001, said: “I was sent by my supervising Superintendent to a particular person five or six times, I smelt a rat … I was settling old scores.” He said he was uncertain of the true motives of those supervising him.

Mr Brammer, who left the force in mid-2002, yesterday denied any wrongdoing and strenuously denied any knowledge of a vendetta. [See separate story.]

Mr Brammer has been the subject of adverse findings in previous internal police reports, including for “untruthfulness” a “manifest conflict of interest” as well as “bias” and “a lack of fairness”. One inquiry found he allegedly perverted the course of justice by improperly arranging an internal investigation against an officer.

Mr Dolan, who has also left the force, could not be reached for comment.

Mr Brammer has previously said Operation Mascot was run with the full co-operation and supervision of the Crime Commission and the Police Integrity Commission. He said the current Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, was involved at the time and he knew of no improper conduct by Ms Burn or anyone else.

At least one former SCIA officer has raised the “vendetta” allegation. In a formal record of interview with one of Emblems’ predecessors, Strike Force Tumen, the detective Paul Albury says he thought the targeting of Mr Kaldas was based more on a “personal vendetta” rather than any evidence.

The officer says there was deep concern by some within the unit that serving and former officers were being targeted on the basis of “third and fourth-person hearsay”.

The previous Labor government and the O’Farrell government have refused to release the Emblems report, despite the current police minister, Mike Gallacher, pushing for its release while in opposition.

The Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission, David Levine, has been asked by the State Government to investigate whether the Strike Force Emblems report can be released. He is currently working his way though documents provided to him by NSW Police and the Crime Commission. It is not known when his inquiry will be completed.

Some former detectives named on the warrant believe he has not been given the resources needed to get to the bottom of the long-running saga. They believe an independent judicial inquiry is required – free of police intervention.

They say the Police Integrity Commission is disqualified from investigating the matter because it was intimately involved with SCIA and the Crime Commission in Operation Mascot from an early stage.

Strike Force Emblems interviewed 35 people who complained about their names being on the warrant. Emblems found there was no justification for 22 of those, including Mr Kaldas, being on the warrant. Overall, it found that of the 114 people named, there was probably no justification for 54 of them being on it.

“The use of 114 names on the subject listening device is an abuse of process and not in the ‘spirit’ of the legislation. It is not conceivable each person would be part of a conversation over a 21-day period.”

(Warrants are approved for 21 days. Police need to reapply if they want to continue bugging).

Many other police named on the warrant are respected and senior detectives. The vast majority have never been told why they appeared on the warrant, let alone questioned or charged.

Emblems investigators said their inquiries were hampered because the then head of the NSW Crime Commission, Phil Bradley, after initially agreeing to co-operate, refused to hand over crucial documents. These included affidavits which were presented to the Supreme Court to support the application for the listening device.

Strike force investigators, which included five detective inspectors, clearly found themselves under intense pressure and took the extraordinary step of recording their fears that they may be subject to “payback”.

“Although there is no evidence of a ‘payback’ or ‘reprisal’, the nature of the Strike Force Emblems investigation, with the alleged corruption identified, indicates there is a potential for retribution against Strike Force members,” the Emblems report said.

Investigators also reveal they were directed to be less than truthful with the 35 people who formally complained about their names being on the warrant.

It says they were “instructed” to tell complainants ”we are working towards obtaining the affidavit”.

“At no time have the complainants been informed that the affidavit has been refused or that the Crime Commission is being obstructive.”

The Sun-Herald asked Mr Scipione, Ms Burn and Mr Kaldas for comment.

Through a spokesman, Mr Kaldas said he was “unable to comment”.

Ms Burn did not wish to comment, except to say she had never been the commander of SCIA.

The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, said: ”All matters relating to Strike Force Emblems and any associated materials have been referred to the Inspector of the Police Integrity Commission. NSW Police has provided all materials asked for by the inspector.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Life as a fake catches up with PI

June 10th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Exposed … Frank Monte is fighting to keep his private inquiry licence.The disreputable gumshoe Frank Monte is fighting a rear-guard action to stop the NSW police stripping him of his private inquiry licence.
Nanjing Night Net

Police launched an inquiry into Monte after The Sun-Herald exposed his practice of creating fake names for private detectives, taking thousands of dollars from unsuspecting clients, then abusing and threatening them when they complained.

The 67-year-old former bankrupt has been told by police that his PI licence will not be renewed because he is not a fit and proper person and uses unethical business practices such as false names to rip people off.

Monte appeared before the Administrative Decisions Tribunal last week, seeking the return of his licence until the tribunal hears his case, set down for November 26. He told the tribunal he was in ”dire straits” financially and that, apart from his PI skills, ”I don’t really have any other talents”.

The hearing into Monte’s fitness to hold a licence is scheduled for four days.

After The Sun Herald article, titled ”The full Monte – this cheat wants to be mayor”, was published in April, he responded by creating a fake lawyer to threaten websites that republished the article. The mysterious ”Ian Dale” warned that Monte had commenced an action in the NSW Supreme Court and had served a summons for malicious libel on this reporter.

This, like much of Monte’s business practices, was a fiction. There is no person called Ian Dale registered as a solicitor or barrister and no such action has been filed in the Supreme Court. In his legal threats ”Mr Dale” had stated: ”The article claimed Mr Monte was the owner of businesses which he has no interest in.”

But police documents filed with the tribunal allege Monte was behind the various businesses and also used numerous pseudonyms to rip people off.

In July, the NSW police force’s Security Licensing & Enforcement Directorate notified Monte that it would not be renewing his licence. According to the SLED, it had received 100 complaints about his business practices.

Over the past 15 years, NSW Fair Trading has received 43 complaints against Monte and his associated companies. Over the same period, there have been 44 complaints about companies and private investigators trading under Monte’s pseudonyms. In court documents, police alleged Monte was behind businesses such as Monte Investigation Group, Monte Investigation Services, Mason Steele, Morgan Turner Freeman, MTFPI and Parker Taylor.

One client, John, told The Sun-Herald that he rang the Melbourne office of investigation agency Parker Taylor last year. A ”Mark Strong” had told John that several thousand dollars would be required for the work John wanted. Five weeks later Strong wanted more money. John requested a progress report before paying. After repeated calls were not returned, John threatened legal action.

So Strong emailed in reply: ”You do that, you f—ing little c—! You go ahead and take legal action, and I’ll take action against you for wasting my f—ing time! I’ll come to your house at 3.00 am and make your life a f—ing misery! Now don’t call me again you f—ing little c—!”

Imagine John’s surprise when he rang the Sydney office to complain, only to find ”Mr Strong” answering the phone. Documents tendered at the tribunal revealed an investigation by the NSW police concluded that Mark Strong was in fact a pseudonym used by Monte. His other pseudonyms included Richard Clark, Stephen Mason, Thomas J. Parker and Robert Taylor. But even more interesting were the results of police inquiries into one Thomas Steele.

When things started becoming hot for one of Monte’s companies, Morgan Turner Freeman, he solved the problem by selling it.

The only problem is the buyer, a Thomas Steele, does not exist. In 2010 Frank Monte lodged documents with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, which he certified were ”true and complete”, stating that – because he was ”retiring” – Thomas John Steele, born January 1955, was taking over his business MTFPI (which in turn operates Monte’s investigation company Morgan Turner Freeman).

Monte listed the company’s business address and Steele’s home address as an apartment in Farrell Avenue, Darlinghurst. The Sun-Herald contacted the owner of that apartment, who said no such people or business had ever occupied his unit.

Under cross-examination last week by Carlo Zoppo, representing the police, Monte was asked if Steele was known to him. ”Yes,” he replied, ”I met him several years before. I met him through friends. He was a PI and a security guard round the Kings Cross, Darlinghurst area.”

He said Steele had paid him $100,000 in cash for his business but had failed to come up with a further $200,000 which he had promised. The tribunal was also shown Monte’s sworn statutory declaration dated June 2012.

In it Monte claimed Steele ”is unreliable and has caused me much concern with our financial arrangements”. He also said Steele had refused to pay the rest of the money because of ”the negative publicity in the press”.

And he was refusing to assist Monte in his Supreme Court action against The Sun-Herald in which he was seeking ”$1 million in damages”.

Monte said he was angry that Steele ”has not been able to be found since the offending article went to press”. Asked if he was aware that police could find no record that Thomas Steele existed, Monte snapped: ”I don’t know what the police can or can’t do.”

The tribunal’s president, Judge Kevin O’Connor, ruled it was not in the public interest for Monte to have his licence returned before the November hearing.

The judge noted there was ”a lack of clarity” in Monte’s business structures and that he was ”evasive”. Some of his answers ”seemed to lack candour”.

Monte was famously sued by the family of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace after he made up a series of lies about Versace in his memoirs, The Spying Game, later dubbed The Lying Game.

Monte was bankrupted when he failed to pay the Versaces’s costs.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


No fair go at school: Gonski

June 10th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

“For a long time there has been a willful denial that there is a problem” … Carmen Lawrence.Increasing segregation of students has led to a two-tiered education system with a widening gap between the ”haves” and the ”have-nots”.
Nanjing Night Net

Australian students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are up to three years behind students from more privileged backgrounds in literacy levels, according to figures compiled for the Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling. Poor students also lag well behind their wealthier peers in science and maths and are only half as likely to attend university.

Carmen Lawrence, the director of the centre for the study of social change at the University of Western Australia and a member of the Gonski review panel, said the figures busted the myth that Australia offers a fair go for all.

”For a long time there has been a willful denial that there is a problem,” she said. ”But we assembled all those data and they don’t make pretty reading.”

Disadvantaged children are concentrated in the public system, according to Gonski, with 80 per cent of children from low socio-economic backgrounds, 85 per cent of indigenous children and 79 per cent of children with disabilities in government schools.

Australia is achieving only average equity compared with other OECD countries, according to figures from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment survey, which ranks us behind Hong Kong, Shanghai, Finland and South Korea, which are rated in the top five performing places overall, compared with Australia at ninth spot.

The OECD reports that, among its member countries, differences in students’ backgrounds accounted for 55 per cent of performance differences between schools; for Australia, the figure is 68 per cent.

Educational inequity starts when a child reaches kindergarten, according to leading experts in the field.

David Zyngier, a senior lecturer in the faculty of education at Monash University and a former teacher, said disadvantaged children have a vocabulary of 2000-3000 words at the age of six, compared with between 10,000-20,000 for wealthier children.

”When a child comes into school 50 per cent of their academic achievement is already determined by what they bring into school, that is their family background, their home, their culture and intellectual ability,” he said.

”Children come to us in our classrooms with what has been called the ‘invisible backpack’ and some come with their backpack full of privilege and others come with a backpack of disadvantage.”

Research from the UK shows that even bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds struggle to perform well academically. By the age of eight, they are overtaken by less intelligent children from more advantaged backgrounds.

The inequity is compounded by an education system which siphons more affluent children into the private system and high achievers into the selective system, says Chris Bonnor, a former high school principal and a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development.

”We subsidise kids to leave low socio-economic status schools to go to higher socio-economic schools,” he said. ”The disadvantage at the bottom end gets worse because all the aspirant kids have gone.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Ex-ombudsman attacks funding

May 9th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

THE former Commonwealth ombudsman Allan Asher has attacked the federal government for paying lip service to the watchdog and hobbling its ability to investigate the immigration system through a lack of funding.
Nanjing Night Net

In a speech to the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Mr Asher, pictured, described himself as a ”former immigration ombudsman who mistakenly believed that the government was genuine in its commitment to the compassionate and tolerant treatment of asylum seekers”.

He accused politicians of giving inadequate support to the ombudsman’s office.

”Most particularly, relevant ministers were, at times, resistant and resentful of the work undertaken by the ombudsman whenever criticisms were made of the administration of aspects of asylum policy,” he said.

He was particularly critical of a lack of funding for the office. ”Despite funding extra resources for almost every other aspect of management of asylum policies … no new resources could be found to support the impossible workload of the office for the ombudsman,” he said.

Mr Asher was forced to resign last year after he prepared questions for Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young to ask about his office in Senate budget estimates hearings.

He has recently appeared in the SBS television series Go Back to Where You Came From.

He said he believed the office of the ombudsman – which is supposed to conduct six-monthly reviews of asylum seeker cases – was hamstrung.

”The Immigration Ombudsman has the legal powers, experience and skills to play a significant role in maintenance and management of the human rights of asylum seekers,” he said. ”Nonetheless, without the active support of the executive or the Parliament, the role will continue to fall short of its potential.”

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the government was open and accountable.

Funding for the ombudsman’s office went from $12,495,000 in 2005-06 to $22,472,000 in 2010-11, the spokesman said. But the office was forced to cut 10 per cent of its staff this year owing to financial pressures.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

AUSTRALIAN wool growers are being ”ripped off” an estimated $64 million a year by counterfeit inferior products marked with the globally recognised Woolmark label.
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Australian Wool Innovation, which owns the trademark and licenses its use, has been involved in 44 counterfeit cases this year compared with 12 in 2010. Two have been in court this year, and legal action has been taken in 12 more disputes.

AWI has found that most infringements are in China and southern Europe.

In recent years it has invested heavily in promoting the label, which guarantees the Australian wool is high quality. It has commissioned the Australian photographer Anne Geddes, world-renowned for her pictures of babies, to photograph them nestling in cradles of wool.

And now the body is fighting back against counterfeit products with the introduction of high-tech identification labels – Near Field Communication – that use chips that can be identified by a smartphone app. The chip is usually on the washing instructions label. Washing labels on some products will also be marked with nano markers, dots the diameter of a human hair that show a Woolmark hologram through a magnifying glass.

AWI’s chief executive, Stuart McCullough, said: ”We know we are getting ripped off and we know that our brand is being used out there illegally. In one court case won by the AWI a company had even painted the logo on the front of its building. It’s not like they were putting it on a handkerchief.

”We are very touchy about it because in the ’90s every physical asset the Australian wool industry had was sold. The Woolmark is one of the few we have left; it is a wonderful asset and it is certainly worth protecting and we will protect it vigorously.”

In January a Queensland manufacturer, Gold Coast Wool, had to pay a $6600 penalty for contravening consumer laws. Tests found wool doonas and underlays sold mainly to Asian tourists contained 42 per cent polyester. The Woolmark logo was falsely used.

Global wool retail apparel sales equate to about $80 billion a year. It is estimated that 8 per cent of this is marked with the Woolmark logo. The AWI says about 1 per cent of that ($64 million a year) involves counterfeit and illegal use of the logo.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Jeremy Holcombe cannot sleep. He cannot work, he cannot relax and he is obsessed with bad news. He was hospitalised with panic attacks on the third anniversary of his son Elijah’s death in June this year.
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The physical manifestation of his grief continues, unabated.

Then came the letter from prosecutors late last month, indicating they would not be pursing the police officer who shot the mentally ill Elijah Holcombe for murder or manslaughter, despite a coroner’s view that such charges could be proffered.

For Mr Holcombe, this was just another heart-wrenching chapter in the tragic saga – as another is only just beginning. Mr Holcombe and his late wife’s estate have launched civil action against the State of NSW, claiming the Holcombes have suffered greatly from the ”unlawful” and ”negligent” conduct of Senior Constable Andrew Rich and his employer, the NSW Police Force.

In particular, they claim he did not heed warnings about Elijah’s mental illness and was not justified in shooting the man who health workers simply wanted to be returned to hospital for treatment.

Documents filed with the NSW District Court outline the repeated alerts issued over the police system warning officers searching for the 24-year-old that he ”suffers from mental health issues and is extremely frightened of police – use caution when dealing with – concerns he will run”.

Just hours earlier, Elijah had presented at Armidale police station to return his father’s car, which he had used to flee his parents’ home in Narrabri, and requested hospital treatment. He was taken to Armidale Hospital where nurses expressed concerns for his mental state, but as a voluntary patient he could leave whenever he pleased. He did – but worried health workers asked police to help find him and bring him back, so alerts were issued asking patrol officers to keep an eye out.

About 4pm that day he was spotted, and an officer began a pursuit, chasing Elijah through a mall, a cafe and then into a laneway. Senior Constable Rich called out to Elijah: ”Stop or I will shoot.”

Armed with a bread knife grabbed in the cafe, but still at least eight metres from the officer, Elijah turned to face Senior Constable Rich and was fatally shot with a single bullet.

”Elijah died because of the unlawful and negligent conduct of [the officer],” the Holcombes argue in their negligence suit. ”There is no reasonable possibility that [the officer’s] response was a reasonable response to the circumstances as he perceived them … [He] was not acting in self-defence … at the time of the shooting, [the officer] knew or ought to have known that Elijah had not committed or was not committing an offence which warranted the use of lethal force.”

Police said they could not comment on the case because it is before court.

Jeremy Holcombe told The Sun-Herald he wished no ill on anyone involved in Elijah’s death but hoped at least a civil court could adjudicate on what occurred.

His solicitor, David Sweeney, added: ”People often get relief when there’s recognition of their injustices.”

The State Coroner, Mary Jerram, shut down the inquest into Elijah’s death in October 2010, referring the case to the DPP for consideration of charges. The case will now return to her at a date in the future, while the civil case returns to court later this month.

The Holcombes’ criminal solicitor, Philip Stewart, told the The Sun-Herald he had urged the coroner to resume the inquest, taking evidence from the remaining listed witnesses.

”One would hope that the police have the fortitude to allow themselves to be questioned,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Brad to the bone

May 9th, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

The films that brought Brad Pitt global star power, in an almost cult-like way, Fight Club and Se7en and, before that, Thelma and Louise, are long gone. Never mind that he’s closing in on 50 (well, he’s 49 in December), Pitt retains the kind of incandescent star power that outshines everyone else in the room. Rarer still is a bona fide movie star who talks candidly about what he does with his kids on his days off, or what hour he got to bed last night.
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I’m speaking to Pitt for other reasons, though. His friend Andrew Dominik, the New Zealand-born Australian director of cult hit Chopper, has a new film to promote, the dense pulp thriller Killing Them Softly, which Pitt’s company Plan B has produced. Just as he does with the Jolie-Pitt Foundation – a humanitarian aid organisation he set up with his fiancee, Angelina Jolie – Pitt is using his clout to ensure the kind of films that made him a superstar continue to see the light of day.

”I want to make a movie that says something about our time, that’s relevant,” Pitt says of Dominik’s movie, which had its world premiere at Cannes in May. ”Not necessarily about current affairs, but who we are as people. I want to work with filmmakers that I respect [as well]. It’s a collaborative sport. I want to make sure I’m in good hands if I’m gonna do something that takes me away from home.”

Pitt and Dominik, 44, became firm friends after their previous film, 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, drew critical praise – although it failed to deliver at the box office.

The pair share a keen interest in original storytelling. ”I choose by feel, that inexplicable feeling: something new, something different,” Pitt says of his often unpredictable career choices, which range from playing a frenzied hobo in Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, to a hilarious Irish gypsy in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, to a cool, calculating hitman in Killing Them Softly.

”Andrew has become a great friend of mine and Jesse James remains one of my personal favourites. I thought he made one of the best movies that I’ve been a part of – and he was really struggling to get something made.

”So when he came up with this idea, then I fit into it, I was thrilled. I knew immediately.”

Killing Them Softly, which co-stars Ray Liotta and Australia’s Ben Mendelsohn, among others, is set in an apocalyptic America, at the time of the 2008 US presidential election (its timing to this year’s race is coincidental, Pitt insists). Lashings of black humour abound, in a violent, unpredictable picture of a robbery gone wrong. It drew widespread praise upon its unveiling at Cannes.

”It’s a violent world we live in,” Pitt reasons, when pressed on the film’s brutality (the title refers to Pitt’s character’s preference to take out his targets from a distance). ”One of the many things you try to impart to your kids is to prepare them for life on their own and respect for the world at large… The film’s also a metaphor for business: business can be Darwinian, very cut-throat. The killings are metaphorical in that way, for me. It’s not a nihilistic violence, either. There is some care and thought for the [victim] to try and make it comfortable for them. It’s just an unfortunate part of their business.”

These days, Pitt is careful with his career choices. Working with Jolie, for instance, is not on the agenda, although he will happily take turns at staying home with their extended family. (”I worked a lot last year. This year, mum’s working a lot. So I get to be dad.”) He also has another project under way with Dominik, as a producer of a left-of-centre film about screen icon Marilyn Monroe. There’s also a cameo due in Steve ”Shame” McQueen’s next film.

The Missouri-raised Pitt, who famously dropped out of college to chase his film-star dream, remains as enthused as ever by the medium, in an industry that he can now command, seemingly at will, to play ball. ”Films always made me curious,” he says. ”[They] made me want to get out and travel and meet people who react differently about things than I do, who have a different point of view.

”I have a distinct memory of seeing Saturday Night Fever, an R-rated movie. [I was fascinated by] this New York family, the idea of a boisterous, gregarious family who are hitting each other, yelling at each other. They seemed ferocious, but there was a lot of love in it. I just remember seeing that, and being really affected by it.”

Killing Them Softly is in cinemas from October 11.

Twitter @EdGibbs

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

IN THE 30 years or so that I’ve been running businesses, I’ve noticed that consumer sentiment is not only powerful but it is often created by a cultural environment rather than what is actually happening in folks’ lives.
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It seems that many people get pulled along with the general vibe instead of forming their own views.

This can work in favour of over-exuberance or it can create gloom. So positive sentiment can encourage thousands of amateur investors to buy “dotcom” stocks at highly inflated prices, or negative emotion can undercut a stock market, so that even 10 quarters of good results fail to impress investors.

We’re currently in one of the negative phases where the headlines are filled with pessimistic stories and we’re more than happy to absorb the sentiment, make it our own.

But there’s another way to treat the “bad” economic news and that is to see a free market economy as something that moves in cycles, which forces the constant revision and reinvention of just about everything.

An example I’ve been watching closely has been the financial troubles of the Darrell Lea chocolate and lolly brand, which has been in administration. I don’t want to give the impression that a business being unable to pay its bills and having to let go of 418 people is a good thing. But there is a positive to the story, and that is that the system works well enough for a new owner to step in and buy Darrell Lea and reinvent what that business does.

The buyer, VIP pet food owner Tony Quinn, told a Brisbane newspaper: “Let’s have some fun. Let’s fix this thing.” That’s the reinvention effect of our economic system – that’s a business brain that knows how to see the positives in a negative.

The signs of positives defying the negative are all around us.

Yes, Kodak went out of business, but other companies have reinvented personal photography, ensuring we can all afford a good camera and that we can choose which pictures we want printed. And Australian steel-making may be under pressure, but there was OneSteel, quietly making itself a miner of iron ore, not letting itself be forced into irrelevance.

Australian business owners and householders can train themselves to think this way as well – it isn’t just the domain of the entrepreneurs and the professional managers.

If you own a business that has slack sales, there is a way forward: you just haven’t found it yet. It may be as simple as rethinking what you sell, what you make, how you present yourself.

It’s the same in households. What might be an uncertain economic system in some people’s minds is actually flexibility for another person. The ability to up-skill, find another job, reinvent yourself as a different proposition to an employer, has never been better. You just have to start by seeing opportunity rather than doom.

Take the uncertainty created by the European crisis and the US slowdown. It has played on our minds and held back our own economy. But one of the benefits has been a cash rate which – at 3.5 per cent – is in the lowest range of the past 20 years.

Don’t be tempted to whine when you have interest rates like this – ask any baby boomer, who was paying 19 per cent on their first mortgage.

There are many people suffering right now, but to those who are not – but are thinking negatively, anyway – have a look behind some of the negative economic stories, see where you really sit. Inflation ran at about 1.2 per cent for the year to June, and the wage price index was sitting at 3.6 per cent. So wages are increasing at a greater rate than inflation is acting on the price of general goods and services.

That isn’t bad, especially taken with a low unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent in July. It doesn’t look exactly gloomy when compared with the US at 8.3 per cent, or the EU at 10.4 per cent unemployment in July.

And in a country where we all need a car, they are more affordable than they’ve been for a long time. The Allianz company’s research showed that a Ford Falcon in 1960 cost a man 60 weeks’ pay while in 2012 it cost 30 weeks’ average male pay.

The economy will cause more businesses to close or to contract – there’s nothing we can do about that. But the important part is what happens next, who sees it differently? And in your own life, are you keeping your eyes open, preparing yourself for what happens next?

A market economy always provides the chance to start again. What’s your reinvention?

Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road Wealth Management, ybr南京夜网.au. Follow Mark on Twitter at @markbouris.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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From a host of worthy contenders, the stars of the banking sector have been revealed with the judges delivering their verdicts on the top performers in the financial sector.

This year’s Financial Review Smart Investor Blue Ribbon awards brought together the top performers in funds management, banking and insurance during the past year.

The best banking products are an important part of the annual awards and, for the third year in a row, Bankwest took out bank of the year, the major prize for lenders. It got the gong again thanks to the consistently good service it offers to customers across a range of areas.

The major awards went to Heritage Bank for mutual bank of the year, while Newcastle Permanent won the best building society. Rounding out the top awards were CUA for credit union of the year and UBank for best direct institution.


Variable interest-rate loans remain the mortgages of choice for many borrowers who have benefited from lower rates in recent years.

That gives savvy borrowers the chance to get debt-free faster, by keeping their repayments at the same level.

NAB’s online subsidiary, UBank, took out the Smart Investor Blue Ribbon Award for its variable home loan on the back of no fees, unlimited fee-free redraws and a relatively low interest rate.

Fixed home loans provide certainty in that you can plan your repayments. V Plus Home Loans was successful in the fixed-loan category. The judges, from research service InfoChoice, found it consistently offered competitive fixed rates for terms up to five years. V Plus was also successful in the basic home-loan award.

The category recognises the fact some homebuyers do not want a mortgage loaded with features. Instead, they are looking for a no-frills product to service their needs.

What appealed to the judges about V Plus’s basic loan is its ability to offer a competitive product in terms of rates and fees. They claimed it had the lowest overall costs in the category.


When it comes to credit cards, the low-rate category was won by the Community First Credit Union. Its Visa credit card was successful through providing a low market rate, low annual fee and 55 interest-free days. That put it out in front for the judges in a competitive market.

But not every consumer wants a no-frills card in their wallet. The Commonwealth Bank launched its Diamond Awards program towards the end of 2010, and this year it was awarded a Blue Ribbon.

What struck the judges was its combination of generous features and rewards. The fact the rewards were slanted towards items that are sought by consumers was a telling factor in its high ranking.

Many financial institutions try to lure customers by offering a better deal than they might be getting from their present credit provider. ANZ and its First Visa product won the balance transfer credit card award due to a low 12-month balance transfer offer and annual fee.

That combination should help consumers looking to lower their credit card debt, InfoChoice says.


With interest rates falling, many investors have been worried by declining returns from their term deposits. But there are still good products in the market that offer reasonable short and longer-term interest rates.

Citibank won the Blue Ribbon award for best term deposit for periods between 30 days and 270 days. In the 360-day-plus category, the top product came from RaboDirect, which caters for both small and large investors.

CommSec Investment Account won the best cash management award. Judges were impressed that it gives investors a high interest rate but with no monthly fee.

Deeming accounts cater to people who are older than 55 and on a pension. People’s Choice Credit Union was assessed as the top product owing to an absence of account fees and a competitive interest rate.

NAB and its online subsidiary, UBank, had a good run in other deposit-related categories. NAB’s Classic Banking offering won the personal transaction account because it offers a long list of features without a monthly account-keeping fee.

UBank was successful in both the online and overall savings account awards. Its USaver product helps many investors save while at the same time offering flexibility and secure access options.

For full details of Blue Ribbon award-winners, including the top insurance and investment products, see the October issue of AFR Smart Investor magazine, on sale now.

Best money managers

MANY of the award winners in the funds-management industry not only had good recent performances, but could point to an established business approach that had produced success over many years.

Vanguard Australia took out the award for fund manager of the year due to its solid performance across various categories, as judged in co-operation with Morningstar.

Eligible retail funds must have Morningstar analyst ratings of gold, silver or bronze, high Morningstar star ratings representing a strong historical risk-adjusted performance, and they must have performed well over the year to May 31, 2012.

The managing director of Vanguard, John James, says it’s not its style to predict what is happening in the next few months in the markets. Instead, the fund manager has a deep commitment to its index approach, which means it tries to at least match the results generated by the various markets it tracks.

So if the All Ords rises 5 per cent one year, an index manager such as Vanguard will try to provide a similar return. But James says while that might sound straightforward, it requires years of discipline to implement effectively.

Vanguard focuses on providing good returns over time while keeping costs under control, he says.

Other fund managers to figure prominently in this year’s fund manager and investment categories were Russell, BT, Macquarie, Sandhurst Investors Mutual, Hyperion, Pimco EQT, SG Hiscock, Blackrock and Magellan.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.