Samsung Galaxy S8 launch: how to buy it in China

How to buy the new Samsung Galaxy S8 in NEW: Hands on: The first glimpses of the new Samsung Galaxy S8. Photo: Peter Wells
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NEW: The Galaxy S8 will cost $1199 to buy outright in . Photo: Bloomberg

OLD: Samsung introduced the Note 7 in August 2016 and recalled the first batch in September 2016 after customers reported they were catching fire. Photo: AP

OLD: One of the Note7 units that reportedly exploded. Photo: KKJ.CN

TweetFacebookBuying outrightThe Galaxy S8 will cost $1199 to buy outright in , while the S8+ comes in at an eye-watering $1349. There may be slightly cheaper offers available from the likes of Mobileciti and Kogan, but pricing will be largely the same for the first few months after launch.

If you pre-order either device before April 27, Samsung will throw in its latest Galaxy Gear VR virtual-reality headset, plus $50 of Oculus Store credit. The freebies are also being offered through ‘s major telcos when you pre-order.

If you can afford to buy upfront, this is the most cost-effective way to purchase the S8 or S8+. As we’vesaid in the past, phone contracts tend to be bad value for money and they also deny you the ability of switching telcos whenever you like. With that said, here are the plans currently being offered by Telstra, Optus, Virgin and Vodafone.

TelstraAs usual, Telstra’s plans cost more than the competition. The starting price for the Galaxy S8 on a 24-month contract is $80 ($55 per month plus $25 monthly handset repayments). This is around the same price as last year’s S7, which started at $79 per month.

However, the entry-level plan nets you a measly 1GB of data. You’re much better off going for a $95+ plan, which come with up to 25GB of data and $0 handset repayments. In short, you’d have to be an idiot to go with Telstra’s smallest plan.

The S8+ comes in slightly dearer at $87 per month. As with S8, you should stump up a bit of extra cash for the L or XL plan: the difference in data is massive. We’ll be including the full list of plans below as soon as they become available.

OptusOptus’ cheapest plan for the Galaxy S8 is $82 per month, an increase of nearly $20 over the S7 launch price. The S8+ is slightly more expensive at $87. Like Telstra, you get 1GB of data on these plans which won’t get you very far. The sensible plans start at $94, which comes with 7GB of data per month.

The S8+ plans are come with the same inclusions but with higher repayment fees: some plans require you to pay more than double compared to the S8. We’ll be including the full list of plans below as soon as they become available.

Virgin MobileVirgin Mobile is starting its pricing at $70 and $75 per month for the S8 and S8+, respectively. This is the cheapest available plan from any n telco, although the 500MB data cap renders it worthless. The top-tier plans come in at $105 and $110 which nets you 20GB per month to play around with. We’ll be including the full list of plans below as soon as they become available.

VodafoneVodafone hasn’t released its pricing yet. For reference, its S7 pricing started at $75 per month which came with 500MB of data. We’ll be including the full list of plans below as soon as they become available.

ConclusionAs with last year’s Galaxy S7, you’re going to have to drop at least $90 to get a decent data allowance on this phone. Of the deals we’ve seen, Virgin Mobile’s $86/$91 plan stands out as one of the best bang-for-buck offers: it comes with 8GB of data, unlimited calls and $300 credit per month for international calls.

There’s not much love here for plan hunters on a budget though: the cheapest plan is $70 per month and that nets you a next-to-useless 500MB of data.

​First appeared on SMH

18C changes shot down in the Senate

1. 18c fails
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In a way the Senate’s refusal to pass the government’s proposed changes to 18C overnight is a win for everyone.

Sure Turnbull suffers a defeat in the Senate, but he doesn’t really want to be the Prime Minister giving the green-light to bigots. Those genuine about wanting change to ensure people aren’t unfairly dragged through drawn-out legal processes can be reassured by the process changes, which are still likely to pass the Senate when it resumes on Friday morning. It could be effective enough in stopping QUT-style cases before they begin. (Although some in the opposition think the government may struggle to find the numbers here too).

And as for those pushing changes to the Act? Well it suits at least one of those person’s agendas. The longer the wording of the law remains in its current form, conservative upstart Cory Bernardi has a point of difference with the government on an issue that hard-core right-wingers care about deeply.

And Labor? Well as frontbencher Tony Burke, who represents one of the country’s most multicultural electorates told me, it’s a victory for anyone who’s experienced racism. [Michael Koziol and Latika Bourke/Fairfax]

The senate resumes at 9am to deal with the company tax cut with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann still brokering a deal with Senate kingmaker Nick Xenophon. [Philip Coorey/Financial Review]

The government has set up a new financing agency to boost the level of private funding in public infrastructure – like the second Sydney Airport at Badgery’s Creek. [Jacob Saulwick/The Sydney Morning Herald]

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Photo: Bloomberg

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has suggested her colleagues who scotched the extradition treaty with China don’t trust ‘s legal system. Unlikely to go down well. [James Massola/Fairfax]

China said the Sydney UTS professor they have detained is being investigated on national security grounds. [Kirsty Needham/Fairfax] 2. Trump to fight Freedom Caucus

President Donald Trump. Photo: Andrew Harnik

The right-wingers who blocked Trump’s attempt to repeal his replacement of Obamacare are once more in the tweeter-in-chief’s sights.

The President vowed to fight the Freedom Caucus and the Democrats all the way to the 2018 midterm elections. [Politico]

“It is highly unusual for a president to publicly call for a fight against members of his own party,” says Clare Foran. [The Atlantic]

A judge in Hawaii has extended the halt on Trump’s travel ban for people from six Muslim-majority countries. [CNN] 3. Russia – Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AP

The House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into claims Russia meddled in the US election has begun [BBC]

Responding to the accusation, President Vladmir Putin bungled George W. Bush’s “read my lips” line, but to be fair, he was speaking in Russian. [Fairfax]

Putin could have his first face-to-face with Trump in Finland. [Bloomberg] 4. Malaysia and North Korea strike a deal

Kim Jong Nam in 2010. Photo: AP

Malaysia and North Korea have brokered a deal ending the row over the nerve-agent assassination of Kim Jong-nam.

Nine Malaysians who have been trapped in North Korea will be allowed to return home, while many North Koreans stuck in Malaysia will also be allowed to leave. [Linsday Murdoch/Fairfax] 5. Brexit

British Prime Minister Theresa May signs the official letter invoking Article 50. Photo: Christopher Furlong

The government set out the details of its Great Repeal Bill to take back laws from the European Union after Brexit and denied that Prime Minister Theresa May’s mention of security cooperation in her Article 50 letter was a threat to member states. [BBC]

May penned an open letter to the French attempting to make reassurances about citizens living in each other’s countries, but outgoing President Francois Hollande appeared unmoved and said Britain should divorce first, then talk trade second. [The Local France]

David Cameron has defended his decision to hold the vote saying the anti-EU narrative was poisoning British politics. [Politics Home] 6. Game of Thrones

The trailer for the final season is out! I don’t know where they are going with the music but the final sequence = goosebumps.

Suddenly July feels simultaneously much closer but oh-so-far away.

And that’s it from me this week, you can follow me on Facebook for more. Have a great weekend.

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Chinan man dies at Bangkok airport

Bangkok: An n man plunged four floors to his death at Bangkok’s busy Suvarnabhumi Airport on Thursday morning.
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Surveillance cameras showed that the man, aged 32, took the escalator from the third to the fourth floor before the incident took place at 6.25am.

Medical staff tried to revive the man and he was taken to Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital, according to the Bangkok Post, but he died from his injuries.

Local police believe the man jumped from from the fourth floor and that the incident was one of self-harm.

“We checked the CCTV and there was no one else with him, he walked alone from the third floor to the fourth floor… we believe it was his intention to harm himself, that nobody threatened him,” said Police Lieutenant Colonel Kawee Ratana, according to the ABC.

The airport had installed 2.5 metre high glass walls inside and outside the terminal after past similar deaths. Kittipong Kittikachorn, the airport’s safety manager, has ordered engineers to consider erecting additional safety walls.

The name of the man, who also has Irish citizenship, has not yet been made public.

In a separate incident, a 49-year-old n man died when his rented motor-cycle and a 10-wheel truck collided on the Thai resort island of Phuket. The man had rented the motorcycle early Thursday and was due to return it on Friday.

A helmet was found beside the body.

The man, who was from New South Wales, was staying in a hotel in the Patong tourist district.

Motorcycle accidents account for many of hundred of deaths each year on Phuket’s roads, including many ns. An average 20,000 ns holiday on Phuket each month.

Twenty year-old Victorian woman Emily Collie was killed when two jet-skis collided off a Phuket beach in February.

Her partner, 22-year-old Thomas Keating, was handed a one-year prison sentence – suspended for two years – in a Phuket court last week after pleading guilty to reckless driving causing death.

He said the accident happened after he was blinded by the sun. Mr Thomas has been allowed to return home.

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Kim Jong-nam’s body released to North Korea in deal to end row

Bangkok: The body of Kim Jong-nam has been released to North Korea as part of a complex deal with Malaysia, brokered to end a bitter row between the two nations which began with Mr Kim’s brazen nerve agent assassination.
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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the deal, which included nine Malaysians being allowed to fly out of the North Korean capital Pyongyang to return to Malaysia. The nine people, three embassy workers and six family members, had already boarded a plane in Pyongyang when Mr Najib made the announcement on Thursday night.

They flew home in a government jet and greeted by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the airport early on Friday, Reuters reported.

Mr Anifah said their safe return reflected “diplomacy at its best”.

Under the deal, about 1000 North Koreans in Malaysia will also be allowed to leave Malaysia. Most of them are low-paid labourers.

In a rarely seen diplomatic meltdown following the murder of Mr Kim at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13, North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving the country, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Malaysia.

In a statement, Mr Najib made no mention of the fate of three North Korean suspects in the assassination, at least two of whom are believed to be holed in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, including a man listed as a diplomat.

But Mr Najib said his government believes strongly in the principles of justice and sovereignty.

“Our police investigation into this serious crime on Malaysian soil will continue and I have instructed for all possible measures to be taken to bring those responsible to justice,” he said.

A group of North Korean officials and Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry negotiated the deal over several days in Kuala Lumpur as speculation grew that Malaysia would hand over the body to Mr Kim’s next-of-kin in China.

Mr Kim was living in Macau with his second wife and two children.

But the deal announced by Mr Najib indicates that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, the estranged younger half-brother of Mr Kim, insisted the body be returned to North Korea, despite North Korean officials claiming the dead man was not Mr Kim.

“Following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea, the coroner has approved the release of the body,” Mr Najib said.

The body was believed to have been put aboard a Malaysia Airlines flight to Beijing, en-route to Pyongyang on Thursday night.

Malaysian police have identified eight North Koreans as suspects in the killing, which South Korea says was orchestrated by the north’s spy agency. Four of the suspects left Kuala Lumpur immediately after the attack.

One North Korean man has been deported and police have named three other suspects. Two women smeared deadly VX nerve agent on Mr Kim’s face as he was about to board a flight to Macau.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, claim they were duped into believing they were taking part in a television prank show.

They have been charged with murder and face execution if found guilty.

Laws to strip criminal MPs of taxpayer funded pension due

Legislation to strip jailed former NSW minister Eddie Obeid of his taxpayer-funded parliamentary pension is set to be introduced to Parliament within weeks.
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But it is unclear if the legislation will apply to another former minister facing a prison sentence, Ian Macdonald, who was on Thursday found guilty of two counts of misconduct in public office over awarding a lucrative mining licence to a union mate.

In December, Obeid was sentenced to a maximum five years’ jail for misconduct in public office in relation to lobbying over commercial leases at Circular Quay in which his family held an interest.

The then premier Mike Baird immediately announced he would legislate to ensure MPs convicted of a serious offence during their time in office would lose their parliamentary pension, even if they quit before charges are laid.

Presently, MPs convicted of a serious offence – punishable by at least five years’ imprisonment – can keep their pensions if they are not charged while in office.

Obeid was charged after he left Parliament in 2011. The change will ensure he is stripped of his lifetime annual pension worth more than $120,000 a year.

But it is unclear whether the legislation would apply to Macdonald, as it is not known if he took his pension in a lump sum upon leaving Parliament.

MPs qualifying for the scheme, which ended in 2007, have the option of claiming 10 times the annual benefit upfront, instead of drawing an indexed annual payment for life.

Documents released to Fairfax Media under access to government information laws show Macdonald was entitled to an annual, indexed pension of $135,545 when he quit in 2010.

This means Macdonald could have claimed more than $1.3 million as a lump sum. If he did, there is a possibility that the government will be unable to claw it back.

However, during his trial mid-last year the court was told Macdonald was “only on a parliamentary pension and was having trouble funding his defence”.

It is understood preparation of the legislation is well advanced and could be introduced to Parliament as early as next week.

If not, the next available opportunity would be when Parliament resumes in the first week in May.

After Obeid’s sentencing, Mr Baird also announced the government would claw back more than $280,000 in legal assistance the former minister was given for representation at ICAC.

Receiving gifts and bequests from abroad

My elderly mother, a citizen and resident of India, no connection with , wishes to give about $6000 to each of my two sons by means of a bank transfer (SWIFT) to help with their university (HECS) debts. Both are citizens and residents of , over 21, and have never received any kind of Centrelink payments. The elder one is now in full-time work and pays regular tax. The younger one has a small income from casual work and does not pay tax. (1) What are the n tax implications? (2) What sort of documentation will satisfy the ATO and perhaps the security establishment? (3) Can she repeat this next year if she is alive? (4) What if she dies and the money is paid as per her Indian will? S.M.
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has no gift duties and your sons can receive the money and pay off some of their HECS debt with no tax payable, nor any need to disclose the gifts in their tax return.

Your mother can do this as often as she likes and I’m sure the more frequently she does, then the happier her grandsons will be! Again, if she leaves money to family members in her will, there is no death duty in and no restrictions on the money transfer.

My partner (60) and I (65) respectively, are no longer working and we don’t receive any benefits. We are quite comfortable about selling down assets to fund our lifestyle. Estate planning is not really an issue, being a same-sex, childless couple with relatives who are very comfortably off and we will be receiving our siblings’ inheritance. We own our $2 million home outright, plus two investment properties, one worth $900,000 with a $200,000 mortgage, the second, $700,000 with a $260,000 mortgage, plus a self-managed super fund (SMSF) with about $700,000 and $300,000 in cash. My thoughts were to simplify matters and sell the first property ($900,000), pay off the second ($700,000) and sit back. There will be substantial capital gains tax (CGT), but that will always be the case. We age-proofed our home when we renovated a few years ago and intend paying for services and staying independent until physical/mental health declines. What are your thoughts, given your recent comments about not selling real estate? J.M.

When weighing up competing philosophies of (a) not selling property investments until you need the capital and (b) entering retirement without debt, then the latter ranks above the former.

In other words, being in debt is always a higher risk situation. For example, interest rates can rise to take a large slice of your retirement income, or a lender can demand prompt repayment, the borrower can suffer illness, injury or a major financial setback and so on.

So I agree with your plan to clear the debt but why not keep the larger property? If possible use the remaining months of 2016-17 to maximise contributions into your partner’s superannuation account since they are still under age 65.

Don’t underestimate the value of estate planning. You should each have in place a non-lapsing binding death benefit nomination for your SMSF (first ensure that your trust deed allows them), a will to cover non-super assets, a power of attorney to cover individually owned financial assets, with another, separate, power signed as individual trustee of your SMSF, (or as directors of a corporate trustee), guardianships to make healthcare decisions if one of you is incapacitated, plus advance care directives describing the kind of extreme care you may or may not require. If you are individual trustees of the SMSF, agree who will be asked to become the necessary second trustee if one of you tumbles off your twig. In matters of deceased estates, Murphy’s Law reigns supreme.

My husband died suddenly 2?? years ago. I live in our home, valued at $700,000, and I paid the mortgage out with my husband’s super. I sold an investment unit and am now due to pay $43,000 in CGT in March. We own the house next door as well, valued at $600,000, with a mortgage of $300,000, and my accountant advised me I would pay $63,000 in CGT next year had I sold it. My daughter is moving into it when the tenants move out and will be there for 12 months while she builds. I’ll pay the mortgage on it to help her. I am 61, still working, but long hours in retail and commuting mean I plan to go from four to three days very soon. When she moves out of the house, I’ll move in, then do a bit to my house to get it ready to sell. It would probably cost me $700,000 to get a nice unit in about 12 months. I gave $22,000 in one super and $65,000 in another. I just need to know if I’m on the right track. H.H.

It sounds as though you are on top of things. Your accountant may be able to tell you how you can use deductible super contributions to reduce CGT.

I understand you plan to sell both the remaining properties and move into a unit. Make sure you understand how much you will have left after selling the old properties and buying a new one, and how much of this can be placed into super to provide an untaxed income in retirement.

One suggestion is that you could save a lot of buying and selling costs by staying in one of your houses until you retire and hire a cleaner and gardener, they’re cheaper than stamp duty. Then, much later, look to buy an independent living unit in a retirement village with care facilities attached.

My wife (67) and I (81) are trustees of our SMSF. Her 2016 pension balance was $1,888,000 while mine was $375,000. With the upcoming transfer balance cap of $1.6 million, can my wife draw down $300,000 from her account, then give it to me to start a new pension within the SMSF? A.A.

Sorry, being over 65, you cannot make further super contributions.

Your wife’s four choices are (a) do nothing and run an unsegregated fund, using the Tax Office’s option for CGT relief at June 30, (b) rolling over the excess above $1.6m at June 30 into a separate accumulation account within the SMSF, ensuring entirely separate bank accounts and investments, which requires a great deal of operating care, or (c) rolling it over into an external accumulation fund, which I believe to be the simplest option or (d) cashing in the excess and investing it out of super.

Having too much money is a nice problem to have.

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.

Reducing the risks of borrowing to buy an investment property

Despite increasing concern about the possibility of a sharp fall in property prices, especially for apartments, investor demand for properties continues to increase, with bank lending to investors reaching record highs.
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This demand for geared properties is largely driven by tax considerations following the steep reduction in the tax savings from superannuation, particularly for higher-income earners.

For taxpayers with annual incomes above $250,000, the maximum tax saving from deductible super contributions will soon be 17 per cent, with the maximum annual deductible amount reduced to $25,000 from July 1. Compared with this strictly controlled regime, which also deprives access to the assets involved until at least age 60, the tax assistance for geared investments is currently unlimited with all losses tax deductible at full marginal rates.

Current investor demand is also being increased by concern that the assistance to geared investors is too generous to last and the desire to take advantage of the current rules while they last. Given the large number of negatively geared investors, almost certainly, as with the 1985 capital gains tax, future rule changes will apply only to new investors.

These considerations increase the attractions of borrowing now to purchase assets to be held for a long time. The emphasis in doing so is to select assets likely to increase in value and generate long-term capital gains. While the running yield is also relevant, having income subject to capital gains tax has two large benefits.

First, the capital gains tax is payable only when the asset is sold, and transfer of assets by bequest doesn’t trigger a liability until the beneficiary sells the asset. Second, the capital gains tax rate is half the normal marginal income tax rate once the asset is owned for longer than 12 months.

Selecting the asset to be purchased is the key to a profitable outcome and careful research and evaluation of prospects is crucial. The emphasis should be on the merits of the assets purchased and not the tax savings from the transaction. Negative gearing losses will be generated from both poorly and wisely chosen investments.

Also, while the tax benefits of gearing are increased by not paying off the investment debt, investment risks can be reduced by other strategies. These include concentrating on paying off any non-deductible debt on a family home and building up assets owned by a partner with a lower marginal tax rate.

For older people able to access their super within a reasonable time, non-concessional super contributions are a tax-effective alternative to paying off an investment debt. These strategies all have the advantage of maximising the gearing tax deduction while reducing the final outstanding debt and overall risks.

Daryl Dixon is executive chairman of Dixon Advisory.

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Renters win payout after ‘black water’ contaminates bayside home

Tenants in a bayside Melbourne suburb have won compensation by a landlord who failed to keep their home in good repair.
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A couple who lived in a house in Elwood with their children was awarded just over $6000 after they took their fight to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Rebecca and Graham Matthews claimed their home and belongings were contaminated by “black water” after a major storm on December 28 last year.

Flooding damaged the walls, ceilings and carpets as well as the tenants’ clothing and posed a threat to health.

They had warned the landlord of a damp spot in the hallway ceiling in 2014, but nothing was done.

VCAT deputy president Ian Lulham found that warning put the landlord on notice about the house’s potential for storm damage, and that the landlord breached her duty under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure premises were maintained in good repair.

The tenants were ignored again when they asked for repairs to the house after the storm, with the real estate agent, Axis Properties, threatening to take them to VCAT if they left without giving full notice to terminate tenancy.

A week after the storm, water was still coming from light fittings in the living room and bedroom.

The tenants moved out after suffering headaches, skin rashes and nausea, but continued to pay rent as a sign of good faith.

The tribunal heard that water in the carpet caused such a foul smell that the tenants could not live in the dry part of the house.

Because the agent took no action and did not concede the water damage was doing the tenants harm, the tenants obtained a report from an environment, health and safety assessor, who found the house was uninhabitable because of mould, lead paint and black water contamination.

An insurance assessor also found black water contamination, advising the tenants to get out and throw away all contaminated items.

The City of Port Phillip issued a building order, saying the “stormwater discharge system to the existing dwelling is dilapidated, allowing water ingress to the inner parts of the dwelling, posing a danger to the occupants”.

Mr Lulham found the landlord had breached an obligation to identify and rectify defects, ordering rent from December 29 to January 27 be paid to the tenants.

Also covered in the $6,023.52 payout: the cost of reports, insurance excess, unplanned moving, and an out of home fee of $100 per day.

Mr Lulham described the landlord’s position as unwarranted and irresponsible.

Spin classes won’t help China cut the fat

Profile piece on new indoor bike riding experience called Scenic Cycle that has opened. It’s a bit like a cross between a spin class and an Imax theatre, as bike riders are led on a class that via the projection of virtual scenery appears to traverse some of the world’s most scenic roads and majestic climbs. Photography Brendan Espositosmh,13th June,2014DQoNCg0KU2VudCBmcm9tIG15IGlQYWQphoto.JPG Photo: Brendan EspositoOne of the biggest battles during my life has been keeping my weight down and I think regular readers know that I once ballooned out to 150 kilograms. And being no taller than Napoleon, that was really stupid.
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So eight years ago I had stomach banding surgery and shed 60 kilograms. Nevertheless, keeping fit remains a constant battle and my method is to head out to the park at 6am with Dawn the trainer. I know that it seems ridiculous to have someone help with simple exercises like walking but in my case it works, and I’ve already lived five years longer than I was supposed to with all that weight on.

Perhaps I should have just joined a gym like the increasing number of federal bureaucrats who, according to figures released this week, are racking up an annual bill of $12 million for gym memberships and weight-loss programs at taxpayers’ expense.

The 20,000 plus ATO employees are claiming almost $6 million a year and they are still not quick enough to catch their rightful share of cash flowing out of the country from many of the multinationals.

They should do what most of us do and use the park, although the trendy ones are now heading to the super-duper gyms where you can get fit in all sorts of new ways.

Mara, Louise’s niece, is addicted to spin classes. These spin classes are expensive stationary bike rides and you can spend $100 a week on riding up and down digitally induced hills.

But the costs don’t end there. You’ve got to have the latest active gear and matching water bottle. I’m told that lemon Lycra with orange stripes is the go.

One of Louise’s other nieces, Holly, has just signed up for F45 training – a new cult, not colt, that is apparently “guaranteed to leave you breathless”.

The other cousin, Greg, is into traditional weightlifting but the fact is that all of this family pay their own way, unlike the federal public servants who increasingly use the term ” fit for purpose” to describe their bureaucratic capacities for “deliverables”.

As Charlie says, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have kept in better shape”.

Well the truth is that we are all going to have to pay more out of our own pockets for our health.

World Bank figures show public spending on health growing from 4.8 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 6.3 per cent in 2014. The United States grew from 13.1 per cent to 17.1 per cent over that period and Britain 6.7 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Health is the second biggest item in the federal budget after social security and welfare, at 15.9 per cent in 2016-17, and there is no doubt it will increase further as the population ages. We can’t afford it!

The government is now well into the run-up for the federal budget and I hope that we have the fittest people in the country on the job.

Our Treasurer is also fond of talking about government initiatives being “fit for purpose” but the bigger question is whether the budget itself is fit for the times we find ourselves in.

We need to lose a bit of weight as a country if we are going to have a healthy future. We must stop eating up more wealth than we can generate.

It’s that simple. We’re a bit like a family where the kids have been getting too much pocket money. It didn’t happen to me when I was young. My pocket money came from collecting bottles for their deposits and selling used newspapers to the fish and chip shop.

I know some will say Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tried cost reduction and failed miserably. But things will only get worse for the country if we put off hard decisions again while our pollies and senior bureaucrats keep getting fitter themselves in the subsidised gym at Parliament House.

And on the other side of the ledger, we need to massively boost our earned income from overseas trade.

I reckon it should now be obvious that the two most important people in the Parliament are Health Minster Greg Hunt, who is turning into a real star, and the Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, who has picked up where Andrew Robb left off and is working the international scene very effectively.

Let’s see what our $12 million investment in a super-fit Canberra leadership comes up with in the next month or so. If they don’t get this budget fit for the purpose of growing the economy they will miss the opportunity of a decade. The first budget in the three-year term is the only chance you get to put popularity behind doing the right thing.

Less spin ??? more weightlifting.

We will be watching.

Fair Work watchdog raids more than 80 businesses

Blake Roberts worked at Bella Portofino in Wollongong, where he was underpaid. 5th October 2016 Photo: Janie Barrett Photo: Janie BarrettFair Work inspectors have raided more than 80 businesses in NSW in response to complaints of rampant underpayment of young workers.
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The Fair Work Ombudsman launched a series of raids in Wollongong in response to concerns young workers in the town were being exploited.

Fair Work inspectors visited more than 80 businesses unannounced in the city’s central business district across three days this week.

The raids are in the wake of Fairfax Media’s exposure of widespread underpayment and in cases non-payment of university students by cafes, restaurants, retail and take-away food outlets.

Inspectors interviewed business operators and workers and checked records to ensure workers were being paid minimum hourly pay rates, penalty rates, overtime and allowances. Their compliance with record-keeping and pay slip laws was also checked.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the auditing was in response to intelligence and public concerns that young workers in Wollongong were being underpaid and treated unfairly. He said a number of audits could lead to full blown investigations.

Inspectors contacted young workers identified by Fairfax Media before targeting the businesses that employ many young workers.

“Wollongong is a tertiary education hub with a high a number of young students who work in casual jobs and the reports of underpayments have been concerning,” Mr Campbell said.

“Young workers can be vulnerable if they are not fully aware of their rights or reluctant to complain, so it’s important we are proactive about checking they’re being paid correctly.”

After taking to Facebook to vent about being offered as little as $10 per hour to work in a takeaway food shop in Wollongong last year, Wollongong University graduate Ashleigh Mounser received complaints from about 67 young workers with similar issues.

Fairfax Media has spent two months talking with many of these workers, including Ms Mounser and her original Facebook respondents, their employers and researchers about the underpayment of workers aged 18 to 24.

Not only were young people in the Illawarra being ripped off, in an area of high youth unemployment, many were working for free in the hope of getting a paid job.

Ms Mounser welcomed news of the raids on businesses, but said more needed to be done to stop the rampant underpayment of students from continuing.

“I’m glad that something is being done, but I would rather that it be prevented rather than punished,” she said.

“I think we still need to look at legislation in terms of preventing it because people are still coming to Wollongong and dealing with the same problem, even it it’s from a different business.”

Arthur Rorris, secretary of the South Coast Labour Council, the peak union body for the region, said Ms Mounser had uncovered a culture of exploitation.

“We are not surprised that the Ombudsman has conducted these raids. It will take much more than three days of raids to get to the heart of the problem,” he said.

“We are talking about hundreds of businesses in our region and thousands around the country.”

Mr Rorris said the labour council has so far recovered thousands of dollars of entitlements for workers who have spoken up about the underpayment problem.

“We are in the process of recovering more in the coming weeks and months,” he said.