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The wind beneath Hanson’s wings

13/02/2019 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

Bill McNee???, the reclusive Melbourne millionaire developer at the centre of a political storm over Pauline Hanson’s aircraft use, failed to tell a potential buyer the true value of a multimillion-dollar rival bid and the fact it had been withdrawn.
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In a civil proceeding in the Victorian Supreme Court Mr McNee and two real estate agents were the subject of scathing comments on their negotiating tactics and commissions of fact used to induce the buyer into a contract that resulted in a successful claim for misleading and deceptive conduct and damages of almost $3 million.

In 2014 Justice John Digby made a finding against Mr McNee and two real estate agents over the $5.93 million purchase of a commercial property at 255 Chapel Street, Prahran.

The court heard that Mr McNee and colleagues failed to tell purchaser Thi Huong Nguyen??? that an offer by another bidder of $5.92 million was in fact $5.57 million and it had lapsed the day before.

Justice Digby found Mr McNee and others had made or implied a number of misleading and deceptive statements, adding that the developer had made alleged statements “with no honest belief in the truth of those statements”.

A subsequent valuation found Mr Nguyen had paid $2.1 million above the market price. Justice Digby made a finding of fraud against Mr McNee and others. He assessed damages at $2.8 million. Justice Digby ordered Mr McNee and another pay 85 per cent of the damages. An appeal against the finding was dismissed last year.

The low-profile Mr McNee came out of nowhere in the early 2000s to turn himself into Melbourne’s $100 million man courtesy the boom in off-the-plan units but he has been rudely thrust into the national spotlight thanks to a snowballing story surrounding a cute Jabiru 230-D two-seater aircraft Hanson used to reboot her political career in the run-up to the 2016 federal election.

Labor has referred Ms Hanson’s One Nation party to the n Electoral Commission over allegations the purchase of the aircraft breached political donation laws.

The first indication Ms Hanson and Mr McNee were close came as Ms Hanson delivered her first speech to the Senate last September.

Mr McNee was sitting in the public gallery with his partner, and Ms Hanson’s latest svengali and personal pilot James Ashby, when she made a cryptic reference to the Jabiru 230-D.

“A couple of strangers came along at the right time, helped me spread my wings and gave me the support and assistance I needed that now sees me standing on this floor today,” Ms Hanson said.

“These people are no longer strangers but dear friends, welcome at home any time for another lamb roast. Thank you, Bill and Renata.”

Mr McNee refused to talk about his relationship with Mr Ashby or the money allegedly contributed to buy Ms Hanson’s campaign plane, when contacted by Fairfax Media. Mr Ashby failed to return calls.

Mr McNee has donated generously to political parties: Since 2014, he has given about $150,000 to the Liberals, $80,000 to the ALP and $70,000 to Hanson’s One Nation.

No longer.

“We will never, ever make a political donation again. In hindsight it’s something we probably shouldn’t have done,” he told Fairfax Media.

“We are constantly approached by people for donations. We have stopped making political donations. Everything that I’ve done has been publicly disclosed,” he told Fairfax Media.

The son of British migrants, Mr McNee was born in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Frankston in 1972 and grew up in the hardscrabble housing commission estate The Pines.

After a building apprenticeship, he started renovating suburban homes before moving into property development and speculation, registering a small South Yarra-based company A.K. Smith Pty Ltd. in 1998.

Six years later he hit Melbourne’s CBD.

His first project was a renovation job in the old Kings Street night club strip. He moved on to the RACV building, South Yarra, Richmond, Fishermans Bend. His current big project is a 38-story apartment block on the former site of The Age newspaper in Spencer Street. Mr McNee’s property speculation and development outfit VicLand Property Group is run by a handful of workers from a rented South Yarra office.

As his wealth was turbo-charged thanks to the apartment boom, Mr McNee astutely appeared in real estate stories but never allowed photographs.

(Until the Senate public gallery photograph, the only publicly available shot of Mr McNee accompanied his website testimony to Finnish lifestyle coach Tomi Kokko under whom he trained in Melbourne: “I reached my target weight, I feel happier, my blood pressure is back to normal and I now make better business decisions for the company – Bill McNee – CEO of Vicland Property Group.”)

One story captured the man’s mercurial talent or luck: A property deal to buy 62 Hopetoun??? Road, Toorak, saw Mr McNee flip the 4000 square metre block of land he purchased from Toll Holdings executive Mark Rowsthorn in 2006 for $11 million to three Chinese buyers two years later for more than $20 million.

Peter Janson???, Melbourne’s man about town and nationally famous party host, recalls Mr McNee moving next door circa 2004 when he arrived in the CBD and meeting him when a burst water pipe flooded his cellar.

“Couldn’t have been nicer,” Mr Janson said. “We became quite good friends. I showed him how to deal with the Melbourne Council and hosted a party for his building mates and a planning minister. He liked taking photos of himself with friends.”

Mr Janson also says he helped Mr McNee obtain his first Rolls-Royce.

“It was a Silver Spirit but he was short of cash so I held it for him until he was in a better position. I must say, the impression that lingers was how hard the man worked.”

‘Extreme case of dirty laundry’: Siblings’ fight over will turns ugly

13/02/2019 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

The court warned the Barbanera children about the consequences of not resolving a dispute over the will of their father Antonio.
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“The findings in this case, whatever its outcome, would be unlikely to make comfortable reading for any of them or for any of their acquaintances,” according to NSW Supreme Court judge Michael Slattery.

However, the three siblings could not co-operate to prevent the public airing of their acrimonious family history.

John Barbanera took his siblings Nancy and Peter to court after he was left out of his father’s will. He sought up to $300,000 from his father Antonio’s estate, which included a house worth more than $2 million and $50,000 cash.

Antonio Barbanera attached to two of his wills a detailed explanation of why he had excluded his oldest son.

“While living at the family home at Haberfield, he was constantly abusive towards me, my wife and his siblings,” he wrote. “He was often physically violent towards his siblings, beating each of them on a number of occasions.”

In deciding he was not entitled to a portion of his father’s estate, Justice Slattery found John’s relationship with his parents was “extremely turbulent and volatile” and was characterised by abuse, threats and intimidation.

The judge said John behaved in a controlling manner towards his siblings, detailing an incident involving his deceased sister Angela.

“I accept that on one occasion in 1983 when John discovered that Angela had a boyfriend, John became enraged and punched Angela very hard in the face, causing her to fall to the kitchen floor with her face heavily bleeding,” the judge said. “He then stepped on her and kicked her while she lay motionless on the floor.”

On another occasion, John chased Angela with a firearm, threatening to kill her, after she ended a relationship with one of his friends.

Justice Slattery said the three siblings’ evidence “was profoundly distorted by their personal prejudices”.

The judge criticised John’s obsession with Nancy’s romantic life as a teenager, and his claim that she had an affair with a married man.

“He demonstrated an unshakeable sense of entitlement to judge the private life of his female siblings that was difficult to comprehend,” he said.

The judge was also critical of Nancy, who he said displayed “profound revulsion” and an “uncontrollable courtroom abhorrence” of John.

“At one point in her testimony, Nancy turned to John in the court room, ignoring both counsel and the court, and delivered an obscene and vitriolic rant directly towards John,” he said. “She accused him of many things, but in substance of ruining her life.”

Justice Slattery said Peter nursed a “powerful resentment” against John based on their childhood and a falling out over business that involved Peter attempting to hit his brother with a crowbar.

The judge said Nancy and Peter tried to keep John away from their dying mother. They also humiliated John and his wife Pina at their mother’s funeral by hiring security guards to watch him.

“The other major act of humiliation was the complete deletion of John’s name from mention at the funeral,” Justice Slattery said. “So effective was this that I accept Pina’s evidence that after the ceremony, the priest conducting Maria’s Requiem Mass approached John and her to apologise.”

But Justice Slattery rejected John’s claim for family provision because of his “comfortable” financial position of more than $5 million as well as his “capacity and a propensity to work” despite health issues. Other family members, in contrast, had “real and oppressing financial concerns”, he said.

The judge also pointed to the “tumultuous family history”, describing John as “the prime aggressive mover in creating family chaos and disharmony over the years”.

Prue Vines, a professor in the University of NSW’s Faculty of Law, said John’s history of violence did not necessarily mean he should be cut out of his father’s will.

“In this jurisdiction the testator is supposed to be wise and just, and sometimes forgiving as well,” she said. “It is the combination of the violence, unwillingness to end the estrangement along with the fact that he was clearly the best-off sibling that meant there was no evidence that he had been inadequately provided for.”

Professor Vines added: “This is an extreme case of a family’s dirty laundry being exposed. It is extremely sad.”

Phillip McGowan, the director of De Groots wills and estate lawyers, said taking a wills dispute to court can be highly emotional and is usually expensive.

“While a legal resolution may be obtained, this is often at the expense of personal or family ties or emotional wellbeing,” he said.

Climate challenges line up in China’s front and back yards

13/02/2019 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

As Rockhampton residents braced for a nine-metre-high major flood this week, efforts were bolstered by some of the 1600 n Defence Force troops deployed to help cope with Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath.
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In the past fortnight, the military dispatched helicopters, four landing craft, two larger naval ships and conveys of heavy vehicles to deliver water, medicine and other emergency supplies after the category four storm hit.

“Only the military has the large-scale capability of relief response,” Michael Thomas, a retired army major, said.

It’s a capability that has been tested in recent years, whether from category five Cyclone Winston that smashed Fiji last year or the huge El Nino which brought severe drought to Papua New Guinea.

And the challenge might have been made even tougher had Cyclone Ernie – which rapidly intensified this week into a category five tempest – not turned away from the n continent when it formed off the WA coast this week. A weaker but still dangerous cyclone is heading towards Vanuatu this weekend.

“Disaster relief is increasing in frequency and scope and scale,” said Mr Thomas, who will publish a book on the US and n readiness for climate change in June. ‘Disaster alley’

lies in the midst of what Sherri Goodman, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defence for environmental security in the US, dubs “disaster alley”.

The region is home to large and swelling populations in coastal and delta regions exposed to cyclones and other extreme weather. These events are predicted by scientists to worsen with global warming.

Ms Goodman, who met senior n military members during a visit this week to Canberra, noted admiral Samuel Lockler III, the former head of the US Pacific Command, had described climate change as the biggest long-term security threat in the region.

“The n military and the Department of Defence are very interested to be leaders” on this issue, she said. “They know it’s the right thing to do.”

Fairfax Media sought comment from the ADF.

Ms Goodman coined the phrase “threat multiplier” a decade ago as the Pentagon stepped up efforts to focus on planning for the consequences of a warming world.

Among the challenges is the vulnerability of military assets themselves, such as naval bases that are at risk from rising sea levels and storm surges, she said.

Armed forces must also prepare for greater instability as fragile nations become more unstable through crop failure or forced migration within and across borders.

And militaries such as ‘s will need to be ready to divert more personnel and equipment to meet disaster relief needs both at home and abroad, Ms Goodman said. ‘Significant impacts’

David Titley, a retired US admiral, said regions between 30 degrees north and south of the Equator are among the most vulnerable on earth to climate change.

“[It’s] where precipitation is likely to decrease, temperatures will increase in some places to near lethal levels, and potentially stronger tropical cyclones will come ashore on an ever-higher sea level,” Admiral Titley said.

Much of falls within that zone “so there will likely be significant impacts to your country – but there will be large impact throughout South and Southeast Asia”, he said.

Mr Thomas, who last year inaugurated a week-long climate change and security course at the n Defence College, said Cyclone Debbie also served as a reminder that military bases “are not islands”.

They remain reliant to varying degrees on civilian infrastructure such as electricity, water and sewerage systems that could be disrupted by big storms.

Similarly, their staff, whether civilian or military, “have to be able to get to the bases” – something that’s not always possible when bridges or roads are damaged or destroyed by extreme weather, he said.

Film shows how to overcome our obsession with phones and other screens

13/02/2019 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

Sexting, online bullying, video game addiction, obsessive checking for messages, disruptions to lessons and sleep, anti-social behaviour.
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Three years ago, American doctor and filmmaker Delaney Ruston started grappling with how much time her children spent on screens and all the issues that threw up.

Her daughter Tessa wanted her first smartphone at age 12. Son Chase was heavily into playing video games at 14.

“I was really struggling with my daughter who wanted more social media and my son who wanted more video games,” Ruston said. “I was completely at a loss at what to do and frustrated with all the tension in the house.”

When Ruston began investigating, she discovered the medical consequences of constant immersion in screen technology, which one study showed was 6.5 hours a day for an average teenager.

“Excessive screen time can lead to problems such as decreased attention span, problems with developing social skills and a risk of real clinical internet addiction,” Ruston said. “These can affect kids currently in their studies but also in the future with their careers.”

Ruston, who has made the documentary Screenagers about her own family’s struggles with technology, believes we have accepted screens into our lives without enough questioning of the negative effects.

“When I was making the film, people would say to me ‘the cat’s already out of the bag. Screens are everywhere. We should just accept that our kids are going to be glued to devices’,” she said.

“I just didn’t buy that. We’re still their parents and frankly if you talk to kids, they want our help in setting boundaries.”

The documentary shows that companies that want us to spend more time on our screens, including Facebook and Google, often stop their own staff using phones and laptops during meetings so they are not distracted.

“All of us think we can multi-task but the data consistently shows that our performance is degraded on both things that we’re doing,” Ruston said. “There’s also human decency – a society that allows us to disconnect when we’re in the same space as others is frightening.”

In the film, Ruston and her husband realise how much they are distracted by their own phones, tablets and computers, even while criticising their children for being too focused on their devices.

“Now I work to have two nights after dinner when I’m not on my devices for at least two hours and my kids help me with that,” she said.

While Ruston agreed there were benefits for teenagers from smartphones and video games, particularly access to information and connecting with friends, she is opposed to phones in bedrooms when it’s time to sleep.

“A major study showed that just having devices in the bedroom can affect critical sleep cycles,” she said. “You can imagine that if kids have their smartphone, they might start to wake up and quickly want to check it, as opposed to finishing that sleep cycle.

“We see that even when kids have to get up super early for school, they will get up earlier to be able to check their device.”

Tessa, now 15, said making the film opened her eyes to the problems that she and her friends faced because of their phones.

One of the big changes has been stashing her phone in another room while doing her homework.

“I couldn’t really sit through all my homework before without my phone,” she said. “Now I take breaks on my phone and that’s a better balance.”

The documentary showed one student who became so obsessed with video games that he had go to an internet addiction rehab centre.

“Even as a physician, I didn’t know about true clinical internet addiction before making the film,” Ruston said. “Studies show anywhere from 5 to 15 per cent of young adults have serious problems with their internet use.”

Screenagers is getting community-organised screenings in . Details at fan-force苏州夜总会招聘.

THE DOCTOR’S PRESCRIPTION FOR LIMITING SCREEN TIMEDr Ruston suggests putting phones and other devices away at meal times, in the car and during family outings.While studying, teenagers should put their phones in another room but can take “tech breaks”.No phones, tablets or other devices in the bedroom when it’s time to sleep.Rather than relying on your phone, buy an alarm clock and a calculator. Limit interactive video games to certain times – the weekend, for example – especially for younger children.Try what a group of teenagers do in the film: when they eat out, they put their phones in the middle of the table. First to check their phone pays for dinner.Set aside regular time to calmly discuss any issues about mobile phones and other devices rather than letting them spark arguments.Parents worried about their children’s screen usage should think about what they are doing themselves.

Red tape increasing for DIY super trustees

13/02/2019 | 成都桑拿 | Permalink

???In regard to “limited financial advice provided by accountants”, I went to my accountant the other week to discuss a re-contribution using the bring-forward rule. She informed me the only way this can be completed since the rules changed on July 1, 2016, is if she does a “statement of advice” that will cost me $1500 plus. She did a recontribution for me last year costing significantly less. I suggested I do it myself using last year’s re-contribution as a template and she thought it was not a good idea. I just want the paperwork associated with the recontribution, not superfluous paperwork costing an arm and a leg. This sly bit of legislation will affect every self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee, if my accountant is right. Is she? Should I find another accountant? Finally, is completing a re-contribution strategy oneself fraught with problems? P.F.
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You accountant is correct in that the law changed last July. Since then, an accountant must be licensed to give advice on establishing or winding up an SMSF, and other advice such as when to start a pension or make additional contributions.

Once a person is licensed, they then have to follow ASIC’s onerous requirements, which include writing a report or “statement of advice” each time. So, to that extent, your accountant is following the law.

That said, the information you want is fairly simple and can be found on the n Tax Office’s website by Googling “ATO non-concessional contributions cap”. The major trap for novices is the danger of making an “excess contribution”. As explained by the ATO, if you haven’t made a non-concessional contribution exceeding $180,000 in each of the past two financial years, and are under age 65, you can “bring forward” three years’ contributions or $540,000, before June 30 this year, after which the caps are to be reduced. Then make no further non-concessional contributions until July 2019.

Note also that, if you make a deductible (“concessional”) contribution and, by mistake, no tax is deducted, it is then treated as a non-concessional contribution and this together with a $540,000 non-concessional contribution can push you over the cap. You then have to withdraw the excess and pay tax on it amid much paperwork.

If you’re unhappy, try using one of the many SMSF administrator companies, they’re very competitively priced. On the other hand, if you don’t understand simple rules regarding super, why do you want to run an SMSF? Why not just use a low-fee, public super fund with a myriad of investment options? You’re quite likely to earn more on your savings, even after fees.

I have had difficulty trying to ascertain my tax liability, if any. I have not filed a return for some years, having given up full-time work in 2012. My income for the last 2?? years has been my age pension, plus wages, currently $179 a week – no tax paid; interest on an investment of $20,000 plus an income stream of $5360 annually. I spoke to an ATO rep in a shopping centre last year and he said my income was not taxable but I am not sure I told him about the allocated pension. What is the work bonus and how does that affect my tax situation, if relevant? P.B.

Your allocated pension would be tax-free and you can earn up to $32,279 without paying tax, assuming you claim both the $445 low-income tax offset and the $2230 single senior ns and pensioners tax offset. The ATO offers a calculator on its website, Google “ATO Do I need to submit a tax return”.

Under Centrelink’s work bonus scheme, the first $250 a fortnight of employment income is ignored by the income test. Sign up ASAP!

I am 85 and my wife is 86 and we have received a part pension since December 2008. In October 2016, we submitted our periodic details to Centrelink showing assets of $771,463. In December, Centrelink advised our fortnightly pension would be $7.50 each plus supplements of $59.70 each. This $15 combined fortnightly pension means we are only $5000 (viz. $5000 x $3) under the cut off which therefore, must be $776,000, not $816,000. It seems to me that Centrelink have used the pension rate plus supplement for one calculation, yet pension only for another. I spent 1?? hours on the phone to Centrelink, finally got a lady, then her supervisor, both of whom agreed with me, but could not give an explanation. I have often stated, much to the amazement of others, that we do not need what we were getting from Centrelink but, as we were entitled, we accepted. All I want is an explanation that passes the factual and arithmetic test. Do hope you can help. N.T.

Note that your assets of $771,463 would be rounded down to $771,000. This is $396,000 more than the $375,000 lower threshold. As you note, the full pension of $1339.20 (since March 20) reduces by $3 for every $1000 above this, resulting in a combined fortnightly pension of [$1339.20 -($396 x 3)=] $75.60 combined.

The pension supplement of $49.70 a fortnight per couple is comprised of a “minimum amount” of $26.70 (which you can elect to receive quarterly), a “basic amount” of $18.90 and a “remaining amount” of $4.10.

The “basic amount” and “remaining amount” can be reduced to nil by the means tests. For example, where a pensioner is eligible for the pension supplement, the means tests will first reduce, in the following order, your basic pension, then the pension supplement’s “basic amount”, then its “remaining amount”, rent assistance if payable, energy supplement ($10.60) and finally the pension supplement minimum amount, the latter being payable in full or not at all.

It could be the existence of this final amount that confuses you.

Since you don’t need the pension, you can end the confusion and the anxiety by telling Centrelink to go away and keep their pension, to the cheers of taxpayers like me!

Concerning health care cards available to eligible persons, you said that the low-income health care card (LIHCC) provides benefits to eligible persons that are not otherwise available under the Commonwealth seniors health card (CSHC) “such as energy bills, public transport costs, council rates, healthcare costs, including ambulance, dental and eye care”. I recently sought advice from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Society about applying for a LIHCC and was advised that I would be wasting my time as it was only applicable to people who have dependants. Your comments would be appreciated. T.R.

The CSHC doesn’t cover dependants, nor utilities. The LIHCC nominally covers both while some services, such as ambulance, are covered by both cards.

The Victorian Department of Human Services prepares a chart showing the LIHCC brings with its concessions for water, gas, power and utility relief grants. NSW has similar schemes (Google “NSW utility relief grants”) as do other states. However, I get sporadic reports, that such concessions are not always offered by differing utilities.

As we discussed on March 12, what we need is an under-worked civil servant with the time to put together a table, or a series of tables, to answer such questions.

If you have a question for George Cochrane, send it to Personal Investment, PO Box 3001, Tamarama, NSW, 2026. Help lines: Financial Ombudsman, 1300 780 808; pensions, 13 23 00.