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J is for jihad

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

IN MARCH this year, a group of Islamic radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.
Nanjing Night Net

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman, who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession, was the prisoners’ mosque functionary who came under the influence of Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with another Bali bomber, Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi” – Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia entirely with an Islamic caliphate under Islamic law.

Until the Bali bombings, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terror police, has had great success in cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists.”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500. For every 10 prosecuted, another one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terror, and many more who have gone unnoticed so far.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones which blew up by accident in the kitchen.

Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised. The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding and follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sunday Age that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the United States and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians not the three mujahideens,” he writes. ”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila” – ”crazy”. But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle and wise old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiah, Bashir’s former terror vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron, and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the latter-day plots that police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the Ngruki boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rohim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that the school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down, and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque being built and the separate sections for boys and girls, the Al-Mukmin school in suburban Ngruki is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terror police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning, or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, young English and Arabic teacher Abu Amar airily says the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Abu Bakar Bashir’s son Aburahman Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad, saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamic state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual, or its curriculum dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school,” he says angrily. ”It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking. For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

The fact is that not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terror raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahid can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy. They were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.”

Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade. He says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing, and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp, or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a de-radicalisation program. Vice-President Boediono himself ordered an anti-terror plan to be in place by next year, and said that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono said.

But Irfan Idris, the head of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter-Terrorism, says the entire agency has a budget of only $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of de-radicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

Professor Sarlito Wirawan, a psychologist working on this program and others, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical boarding school in Ngruki, Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector de-radicalisation programs. Noor Ismail Huda, a journalist and former student at Ngruki, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes, and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdurahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate. He says attacking the ideology head-on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said.

”Then we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terror. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … this is what people here call Reformasi,” he says.

”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

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

Islamist teaching … cleric Abdul Rahim, a son of Abdul Bashir, is a teacher at al-Mukmin school. Students laugh during a break in classes at al-Mukmin school.
Nanjing Night Net

Students in an English class at al-Mukmin school.

In March, a group of Islamist radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader, Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman – who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession – was the mosque functionary who came under the influence of the Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison, he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But, despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling the issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi”, Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia with a caliphate under Islamist law.

Until the Bali bombing, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terrorism police, has had great success cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, the Australian Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists [than Indonesia is].”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500.

For every 10 prosecuted, one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terrorism and many more who have so far gone unnoticed.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones that blew up by accident in the kitchen. Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised.

The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding, little follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside, he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sun-Herald that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the US and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph, he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians, not the three mujahideen,” he writes.

”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila”(crazy). But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiyah, Bashir’s former terrorism vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have since emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the more recent plots which police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rahim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that al-Mukmin school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque now under construction and the separate sections for boys and girls, al-Mukmin is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about ”mikroba” – microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terrorist police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, a young English and Arabic teacher, Abu Amar, airily says that the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamist state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual or that its curriculum is dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school. It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking,” Rohim says angrily. ”For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

However, not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terrorism raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahideen can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy – they were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.” Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited, both by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade.

Depressingly, he says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a deradicalisation program. The Vice President, Boediono, has ordered an anti-terrorist plan to be in place by next year, and says that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono says.

However, the director of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter Terrorism, Irfan Idris, says the entire agency only has a budget of $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of deradicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

A psychologist working on this program and others, Professor Sarlito Wirawan, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate, it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical pesantren at Ngruki, and Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector deradicalisation programs. A journalist and former student at Ngruki, Noor Ismail Huda, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard-core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdul Rahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiyah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate.

He says attacking the ideology head on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said. ”Then, we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terrorism. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiyah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia, it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … This is what people here call reformasi,” he says. ”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

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

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Running with scissors

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Nicy try … Peter Morrissey, Megan Gale, Alex Perry and Claudia Navone.Looking back, model, actor, swimwear designer and host of Project Runway Australia, Megan Gale, has a clear memory about the moment when for her, clothes became ”fashion”.
Nanjing Night Net

Several waiters at the Southbank restaurant where we meet gaze at her from a discreet distance while an oblivious Gale stirs her coffee. ”It was the night of the school disco and mum wouldn’t let me go, but I just hassled her until she said, ‘All right, you can go, but you’ve got to go now.’ I was so happy I just went in the clothes I was in, which was a pair of jeans and tracksuit top.

”It was the ’80s so all my friends were wearing ra-ra skirts and their hair was crimped. That was the first time where I felt like I didn’t fit in because of what I was wearing.”

While you probably won’t see a ra-ra skirt on the fourth season of Project Runway Australia, Gale says some of its designers have produced remarkably original garments. ”Some of them interpret fashion in interesting ways,” she says. ”That’s what makes this show feel different each season. Everyone remembers Matcho from season three … he made you wonder where his head was creatively. This year we have Christina – she’s got this amazing vision and she really thinks outside the square. That’s exciting.”

Based on the long-running US version hosted by Heidi Klum, Project Runway Australia is a reality show about 12 fashion designers who must create a garment within the short time frame. Each week there’s an elimination – the last contestant standing wins.

The first challenge in episode one begins at midnight; pressure, exhaustion and creative temperaments are a compelling combination. Then there are the challenges. Gale says there are plenty of fresh tasks that force designers to use materials out of their comfort zones.

This year’s judges include Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey and professional stylist and former fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Claudia Navone. ”Peter’s very playful,” Gale says. ”He takes it all seriously, but sometimes he’s like a six-year-old on red cordial. But I’m the wrangler when it comes to the judges, designers and guest judges [including Miranda Kerr and Dannii Minogue], so that’s a lot of fun, too.”

As a judge herself, Gale doesn’t hold back and has developed an uncanny knack when it comes to spotting the designers’ attempts to hide wayward pins. ”It’s true. I have an evil eye when it comes to pins but constructive criticism is important – but not all the designers like to hear it. Some of them stand there and just give you excuses and that just brings out my ‘mum’ tone.”

Designer Alex Perry (if he had a more substantial moustache, he’d twirl it) returns as mentor, dishing out his signature advice, which ranges from supportive and astute to delightfully acerbic. ”A lot of people may not believe this,” Gale says, ”but Alex has one of the biggest hearts. He has this persona that works on the show but he’s very down to earth. He rarely goes out to functions – he’d prefer to be at home, in his jammies, having a cup of tea with his wife and his dog.”

At the suggestion that maybe the decision-making process featured on the show is the result of scripting, Gale stresses that every result is hard-won.

”We all have a different perspective. We don’t always agree – Claudia might focus on how the garment photographs, Peter’s looking at how it’s crafted, and I’m thinking, ‘Would I wear that on the red carpet and do I want my underwear hanging out the back?’ We nut it out until we have a result.”

Gale is reluctant to reveal any specifics about the new season, but says there was one challenge that almost ended in disaster.

”All I’ll say is that the designers were asked to make an entire outfit and someone decided they’d knock out a pair of jeans, but they ended up looking like something circa 1980 and not in a good way.”

It could be said, though, that the mishaps – say, the model teetering down the catwalk praying her ill-fitting garment doesn’t cause a wardrobe malfunction – are a large part of the show’s appeal.

”Coming up with new challenges that are good for both the designers and viewers at home is a challenge in itself,” Gale says with a laugh, ”but this year we’ve definitely managed to come up with some great ones.”

Project Runway Australia premieres on Monday, October 8, at 8.30pm on Arena.

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

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Assange set to sue PM

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

JULIAN Assange has hired lawyers to find a way of suing Prime Minister Julia Gillard for defamation over the claim that WikiLeaks acted illegally in releasing a quarter of a million US diplomatic cables.
Nanjing Night Net

In an interview from Ecuador’s embassy in London, Assange said Ms Gillard’s comment, made in late 2010, influenced MasterCard Australia to join an online financial blockade of the organisation.

Since November 2010, WikiLeaks has released more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables.

The White House and the Gillard government denounced the release.

”I absolutely condemn the placement of this information on the WikiLeaks website,” Ms Gillard said several days after WikiLeaks began releasing the cables.

”It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do, and an illegal thing to do.”

Australian activist group GetUp! recently interviewed Assange in his makeshift home inside Ecuador’s embassy. He has been sheltering at the embassy since June 19 as part of a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations.

Assange said he would be vulnerable to arrest in Sweden by the United States Justice Department, which is examining the possibility of charging people associated with WikiLeaks with espionage over the online publication of the classified cables.

He told GetUp! that WikiLeaks’ work had been stymied by Ms Gillard’s comments.

”MasterCard Australia, in justifying why it has made a blockade preventing any Australian MasterCard holder from donating to WikiLeaks, used that statement by Julia Gillard as justification,” he said.

”So the effects of the statement are ongoing and they directly affect the financial viability of WikiLeaks. We are considering suing for defamation. So I have hired lawyers in Sydney and they are investigating the different ways in which we can sue Gillard over that statement.”

Assange said the comments were particularly damaging because they ”licensed” other forms of attack on him and WikiLeaks.

During the interview, he also spoke of the impact of the past two years on his family, saying his children – a boy and a girl, of whom no details are known- have had to move homes and change their names.

The Age reported last month that declassified US counter-espionage reports revealed the US military considers Assange and WikiLeaks to be enemies of the United States under the terms of American military law.

GetUp! national director Sam McLean said the interview was the first step in a campaign calling on the Australian government to seek a commitment from American authorities that they will not attempt to extradite Assange over WikiLeaks.

”For too long the Prime Minister and the foreign ministers have put the interests of the US government ahead of Australian citizens. That is not good enough,” Mr McLean said.

”Our government must demand a binding agreement from the US that they will not seek the extradition of this Australian citizen for his work as a journalist and publisher.”

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Slipper believed he was spied upon

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Peter Slipper arrives at the Federal Court in Sydney.
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THE man who introduced Peter Slipper to former aide and accuser James Ashby was told by the stood-aside Speaker that he believed he was being spied on.

The Age has obtained 200 pages of court documents detailing every SMS sent between Mr Slipper and Mr Ashby – who is suing the Speaker and former employer for sexual harassment – over a nine-month period.

The text messages – which reveal a one-time close and ribald relationship between the politician and the former staffer – were filed by Mr Ashby’s legal team in the Federal Court on Friday but are not public.

Rhys Reynolds, who briefly worked in Mr Slipper’s office in 2011, took Mr Ashby with him to a cocktail function at Mr Slipper’s Buderim home about the middle of last year, several months before the independent MP hired Mr Ashby as his media adviser in December.

The new evidence tendered to court by Mr Ashby’s defence team reveals Mr Reynolds – Mr Ashby’s one-time school friend – visited Canberra in November last year and met with Mr Slipper.

Mr Reynolds then advised Mr Ashby by text that Mr Slipper had asked if Mr Reynolds was gay and that he thought he was visiting him ”to spy on him” in order to feed information to the local Sunshine Coast media. Mr Slipper also inquired as to whether Mr Reynolds was homosexual and if he and Mr Ashby were ”still together”.

”Lol that’s Peter. He is very intrigued by the whole gay thing,” Mr Ashby replied in a text message after Mr Reynolds recounted the conversation. ”Wtf? That’s very bizarre to think about the spy thing!!!”

As part of his defence to Mr Ashby’s sexual harassment claim, Mr Slipper told the Federal Court this week he believes Mr Ashby ”was placed” in his office or ”contrived a situation where he was able to come to my office” as part of an elaborate political conspiracy driven by the Liberal National Party as payback for leaving the LNP to accept the Speaker’s position in November last year.

But Mr Ashby’s barrister, Michael Lee, SC, tendered to court 200 pages of documents as part of his client’s defence against claims made by Mr Slipper that the aide was ”grooming” the Speaker, not the other way around.

The 200 pages of new evidence also reveal Mr Slipper asked his aide in December, ”Want to go to kings cross/taylor sq in syd?”

Mr Ashby told a friend he had been advised against taking the position in the Speaker’s office by the wife of Queensland cabinet minister Mark McArdle, Judy, who had worked in Mr Slipper’s office previously. In October last year, Mr Ashby suggested Mr Slipper aim for the speakership. Mr Slipper appeared surprised at the suggestion, sending Mr Ashby an SMS that read: ”Range of options open … Where did you get the idea I could become Speaker?”

The documents also reveal Mr Slipper distrusted the local media in his electorate as he believed his LNP rivals – including Mal Brough, now the preselected candidate in the seat of Fisher – were involved in a co-ordinated campaign to smear his reputation.

The affidavit includes every text message – notated with the words ”read” or ”sent” accompanied by editorialised explanatory remarks by Mr Ashby’s legal team. The hearings continue this week.

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Washer calls for wheat bill deal

March 1st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

West Australian Liberal backbencher Mal Washer.WEST Australian Liberal backbencher Mal Washer has condemned the ”agrarian socialists” in the Nationals for making life difficult for the Liberals on the controversial issue of wheat deregulation.
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As the Coalition deals with its internal fracture over the government’s bill to complete deregulation of the export industry, due to be debated this week, Dr Washer said: ”I would have thought the Liberal Party would have supported more deregulation. But we are dealing with agrarian socialists”.

He hoped for a compromise before there was a vote on the bill. Most wheat farmers in WA wanted deregulation, he said.

The Coalition is committed to opposing the bill, saying there should be a transition to deregulation, but WA Liberals are unhappy about this. If the bill passes the lower house, WA Liberal senator Dean Smith said he would cross the floor to support it in the Senate.

But the Nationals are split too. WA National Tony Crook said he, too, would cross the floor to support it. The eastern states’ Liberals are also divided – New South Wales Liberal Alby Schultz plans to abstain.

Dr Washer said he would consider crossing the floor only if there was a majority in both houses in favour of the bill. Its fate will depend on the crossbenchers in the lower house, who have different positions.

Former Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey, who lost his seat to Mr Crook in 2010, yesterday called for Tony Abbott to give Liberals a free vote. A strong backer of deregulation when he was in Parliament, Mr Tuckey said: ”In political terms, do you feed a boil, or do you lance it?”

WA Liberal senator Alan Eggleston called for a compromise – federal deregulation but state control for those who wanted regulation.

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JOHN Watson, owner of the Copper Lantern Motel in Rosebud, expected his power bills to rise by about 10 per cent under the carbon price, which was the amount forecast by the government for household increases.
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Last month he discovered the figure was considerably more than that. His provider has put a 2¢ carbon charge per kilowatt hour on top of his electricity charges. Because he is on a bargain tariff and his guests consume a lot of cheap, off-peak electricity, Mr Watson’s latest bill rose about 24 per cent.

”That’s $320 a month I no longer have, and it’s meant I’ve had to cut the hours of my casual cleaner,” he said after expressing his frustration in writing to his local MP, the federal Coalition’s Greg Hunt.

One hundred days since the Gillard government introduced its carbon price, power bill rises are a visible and indubitable impact.

As for the rest of the dire predictions, from Barnaby Joyce’s $100 roasts to Tony Abbott’s forecast that the steel town of Whyalla would be ”wiped off the map” – they are refusing to come true.

The prices of beef and lamb have fallen since June, according to Meat & Livestock Australia. A 1.7-kilogram leg of lamb from Woolworths online was last week going for just over $18.

Meanwhile, Whyalla’s main employer, Arrium, previously OneSteel, has been the target of an Asian takeover bid – a vote of confidence in Australia’s steel industry. The town, according to independent mayor Jim Pollock, is ”kicking goals”.

Countrywide, the economic data is solid. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index climbed from 95.6 points in June to 98.2 in September. Unemployment has fallen from 5.3 per cent in June to 5.1 per cent in August. There are 2900 more Australians employed now than there were before the carbon price.

Finance firm TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute said last week they had ”still not noticed any broad-based impact of the 1 July introduction of carbon pricing spilling over into prices”.

Even the power price rises aren’t always so bad. Another small business owner in Mr Hunt’s electorate, Michael Carroll, who runs an injection moulding firm on the Mornington Peninsula, got a better result.

Told he faced a 47 per cent rise, he shopped around using a price comparison website. A different retailer offered him a favourable deal – his current rate locked in for three years. Though he is still wary, describing the carbon price as ”another nail in the coffin” for the manufacturing sector, he says he’s ”feeling a bit more confident” about his own power costs.

The Gillard government is growing in its confidence that the electoral albatross around its neck just might shrink to a bearable weight.

But is it crowing too early when it says the hip-pocket pain Tony Abbott forecast has proved a mirage? There are probably still some price rises to come. Bill Lang, head of Small Business Australia, and Innes Willox, head of the Australian Industry Group, both say it will take a few power bill cycles for companies to be able to figure out what to pass on to their customers.

Mr Willox acknowledges many businesses ”had expectations they would be impacted harder than perhaps they have been”. But he adds: ”People are still feeling their way.”

That said, Michael Chua of the Melbourne Institute said he would have expected to see more price rises by now.

”We are into the third month of the carbon price. We should see this happening already.”

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Shutdown … instead of a second harbour crossing, the Infrastructure NSW strategy recommends upgrading track, stations and signalling.TRAIN services into central Sydney would be shut for months and restricted for years under plans by Infrastructure NSW to avoid building a second rail crossing over Sydney Harbour.
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That is according to analysis by Transport for NSW which, for half a decade, has been trying to avoid the cost of the crossing estimated at $10 billion.

The shutdown, which would affect the daily commute of tens of thousands of workers, would be needed under plans to upgrade stations in the central business district and track infrastructure. The objective would be to run up to 30 single-deck trains an hour instead of the 20 double-deckers it can run now.

The department and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, rejected this idea only in May after deciding the disruption would not be worth the benefit.

Train commuters to the CBD would need to be dropped off on either side of the city – at Redfern, Chatswood or North Sydney – and taken by bus to the city. A limited service would remain for years.

The idea was revived last week as part of Infrastructure NSW’s 20-year strategy. Infrastructure NSW, set up as an independent adviser to the government, disputes the analysis. It says its job is to challenge a bias in Transport for NSW towards new infrastructure such as another harbour crossing.

”The general focus of the NSW transport bureaucracy over a very long time has been about building stuff,” the chairman of Infrastructure NSW, Nick Greiner, said last week. He wants to eke more out of the existing network. ”No matter where you come out you cannot believe that the existing thing is run anywhere near capacity,” he said.

Mr Greiner’s plan rejected the idea of adding to the city’s train system in the next two decades, beyond the north-west and south-west rail links.

Instead of a second harbour crossing, which Transport for NSW now says is necessary, the strategy recommends spending $5 billion in the next 20 years upgrading track, stations and signalling between the city and the lower north shore to allow more single-deck trains to cross the Harbour Bridge. It says the work could be carried out largely while trains were still running.

But the proposal echoes those being developed within Transport for NSW since at least 2008, which it has ruled out because of the disruption they would cause.

Analysis the Herald has obtained shows Transport for NSW concluded that for about ”four years there will be significant changes to the network operation in the CBD, with major disruption to operations, including no City Circle services from Central to Wynyard for three to four years (option dependent)”.

In fact, the disruption could be more intensive under the proposal by Infrastructure NSW.

The Transport for NSW proposal assumed the construction of a ”city relief line” or extra tracks between Redfern and Wynyard. These would help mitigate the impact on services while the existing tracks were overhauled and rerouted. But Infrastructure NSW proposes no spending on new CBD tracks for the next 20 years.

Switching to single-deck trains may sound simple but getting any extra capacity out of smaller trains with more doors would require rebuilding Wynyard and Town Hall station platforms.

It would also require closing lines so the complicated criss-cross of tracks between Redfern and Central could be rebuilt. Infrastructure NSW acknowledges that ”junction remodelling” would be needed to link the inner west and north shore lines south of Central.

Internal Transport for NSW documents say the work would cause a big disruption on all lines for three to four years.

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Inner-Sydney enrolments keep on soaring

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

INNER Sydney has become the new school-bag belt as gentrified generation X-ers shun the outer suburbs in favour of raising their families close to the city.
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The Department of Education’s Sydney region has outstripped western Sydney and south-western Sydney in public school enrolments over the past five years.

Some inner-city primary schools have almost doubled their enrolments between 2006 and 2011. The inner west shows similar growth, with enrolments at Erskineville Public up 81 per cent between 2006 and 2011, Leichhardt up 89 per cent and Rozelle Public up 73 per cent.

And the inner-Sydney family trend shows no sign of declining, with the number of preschool-aged children in Leichhardt growing by 83 per cent between 2001 and 2011, by 51 per cent in Paddington and by 50 per cent in Annandale over the same period.

The city and inner west have shown the strongest population growth in Sydney over the past decade, according to figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics released this week.

It’s part of what demographers call the return-to-the-city movement as wealthy professional couples eschew the long commute for convenience and stay put once they start families.

”It’s a very interesting phenomenon and it’s almost as if nobody really thought it through,” said Bill Randolph, of the University of NSW’s City Futures Research Centre.

”The return to the city was probably seen as a movement by singles and couples, not people who might produce families. But that’s exactly what has happened,” Professor Randolph said.

The increasing acceptance of apartment living and inner-Sydney gentrification are fanning the trend, according to Andrew Wilson, the senior economist for the Fairfax-owned Australian Property Monitors.

”It started closer to the city and now it’s spreading out,” he said. ”It’s that generation of business couples who are becoming family couples.” The inner west is tracking ahead of Sydney overall, with price growth of about 2 per cent to 3 per cent, Dr Wilson said.

Professor Randolph believes there will be increased demand for secondary school places as the baby bubble of the early 2000s moves through the system.

”People who plan education systems tend to look at what’s happened in the past rather than what’s going to happen in the future so I think there will be some real pinch-points in the system in a year or two,” he said.

Community for Local Options for Secondary Education, a lobby group formed by inner-city parents last year, is campaigning for Cleveland Street Boys High School in Surry Hills to re-open as a comprehensive public school. It is being used as an intensive English high school for 232 students.

The independent candidate in the Sydney byelection, Alex Greenwich, said the reopening of the school could avert potential overcrowding in inner-Sydney secondary schools.

”Families are increasingly living in the city and it’s important that they are provided with the educational facilities they need to stay here,” he said.

The opposition spokeswoman on education, Carmel Tebbutt, said the O’Farrell government must plan for the growth.

”The last two budgets for education have reduced the capital funding and my fear is that they’re not investing in the infrastructure for schools which are going to be needed to accommodate future demand,” Ms Tebbutt said.

A spokesman for the Department of Education said secondary schools in inner Sydney still had capacity for more students. ”The Department of Education is constantly monitoring demographic trends and plans ahead for future needs,” he said.

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LATE one steamy Saturday night 10 years ago, Max Murphy, a 28-year-old Australian expat, was in the Sari Club in Kuta, talking to a mate, Peter Chworowsky, about his plans for the future.
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Earlier that day, the two had played for the Taipei Baboons in the Bali Tens rugby tournament, an annual 10-a-side competition that draws teams from Asia and Australia. While the other “Baboons”, including his brother Scott, danced and drank, Mr Murphy wondered aloud about leaving his job as a computer parts salesman.

“I remember telling Peter how I’d to really love to start a sports bar in Taipei,” Mr Murphy said. “Then I got up to go the loo, and was coming back when I heard the first bomb go off across the road. But it didn’t sound like a bomb – it sounded like firecrackers. In fact, everyone in the Sari Club started cheering and clapping.”

Moments later, the second, much larger bomb, went off, right outside, hurling Mr Murphy to the ground, where he lay buried under the club’s thatched roof. “I thought, if I don’t get out now, I’m going to get trampled to death,” he said.

Crawling from the rubble, he heard Scott calling his name, and followed his voice to a nearby wall, where they helped other survivors scramble out of the burning building.

“Five members of the team – all the guys who were dancing – died that night,” Mr Murphy said. “There was also another of our guys, Morne Viljone, who was missing, so we spent the rest of the night searching every hospital we could find, going through wards, pulling back curtains, till we found him.”

Mr Viljone had suffered burns to 45 per cent of his body. “But he was alive at least, so we got him evacuated to Darwin.”

Now, 10 years later, the Baboons are back in Bali.

“On Friday there will be a memorial at the old field we played on that day of the bombing,” Mr Murphy, who plays five-eighth, said.

They will also play on Saturday and Sunday ”when there will be a memorial match with players from teams who played in the 2002 tournament”.

Mr Murphy, who is now the father of a seven-month-old daughter, said it was “pure luck” who survived and who didn’t that night. “People often ask me if I am angry, but I’m not really; I just feel sad that it ever happened.”

However, the tragedy did make that much-discussed career change much easier.

“After Bali, I thought, ‘Screw this, I want to do something with my life that I enjoy’.”

So in 2003, Mr Murphy and some other survivors started up the Brass Monkey Bar in Taipei.

Together with members of the Baboons, the bar has raised thousands of dollars for the Bali Trust Fund, which assists victims such as Mr Viljone with medical costs, as well funding the development of rugby in Taiwan.

Max Murphy with his daughter.

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High rise by assembly line

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

ARCHITECTURE firm Elenberg Fraser claims to have developed a new factory-based model for building everything from single houses to high-rise apartment blocks that will cut buyers’ costs, increase developers’ profits – and reduce the need for architects.
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The firm has developed an off-the-shelf, predesigned, prefabricated system for houses, hotels, apartments and residential towers using pioneering manufacturing technology developed by another well-known architect, Nonda Katsalidis.

The predesigned building system called Klik will allow developers to preview modular apartment buildings online and the firm hopes it will save 15 per cent of the cost and halve the time it takes to build, Elenberg Fraser director Callum Fraser said.

The system uses modular components that can be pieced together on an assembly line in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s west, using techniques similar to car manufacturing.

Despite the buildings’ standardised design and pre-engineered nature, architects would still be needed, architect and Grand Designs Australia host Peter Maddison said.

Modular systems had been tried over the years, some with more success than others, he said. ”I would be very surprised if it took the market by storm and put all architects in Melbourne out of work.”

The firm’s ambitious ”off-the-shelf” system allows for predesigned houses, multi-level apartments, a high-rise and hotel with either square, linear, C-shape or L-shape bases that can house up to 14 different one-to-three-bedroom apartment types.

Each building was made to look different using a unique facade.

Mr Fraser said the system was being used in the construction of a Melbourne hotel.

”If you’re an architect or developer, you can deliver a 75-square-metre apartment using Klik for the same price you can deliver a 65-square-metre apartment using conventional construction,” he said.

Katsalidis’ Unitised Building technology has manufactured four apartment buildings in Melbourne, including The Nicholson in Brunswick and Little Hero in the city. But each of those buildings was designed and engineered from scratch, a process that was standardised under the Klik system, Fraser said.

RMIT architecture professor Philip Goad said architects had ”long dreamed” about being able to mass produce housing.

”Unitised building is something the construction industry needs to embrace,” he said.

A modular UB Australia apartment will be placed in Federation Square today as part of The New Joneses sustainable living event.

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Busting into secure male territory

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Gina Field with some of her security staff.SLOSHING around in the mud protecting movie star Leonardo DiCaprio’s film shoot may not be everybody’s idea of Hollywood glamour.
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But Gina Field has never been one to care for the cliches. ”I like to get there amongst it, I like to get my hands dirty,” says the 44-year-old owner of Nepean Regional Security, which protected the set of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby during its rainy outdoor filming in the Blue Mountains this year.

While conditions were pretty horrible, Field says: ”I’ve always been a girl that has done something different. I’m not a real girly girl.”

Which is probably a good prerequisite when you’re a woman running your own business in the male-dominated security industry. Field, a veteran with more than 24 years’ experience, started her agency in 1998 from her Penrith home, doing her first patrol rounds in a clapped-out Holden Camira. The company has since grown into a $3-million-a-year business with 40 staff and 13 vehicles in Sydney’s western suburbs.

The movies have become welcome jobs, but her main business is still building protection, crowd control and other bread-and-butter security services.

Field recalls how she worked in a hardware store aged 19 and quizzed a security guard on how she could get into the industry. He told her not to bother because women wouldn’t be employed. ”Being the personality I am, when I was listening to that I thought ‘now I want to be a security guard because I want to show I can do it’,” she says.

She attended a training course and secured her first job, signing people in and out of an insurance building in Sydney. She was moved to corporate sites around the city, ”but it just wasn’t my scene … I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil and I wanted to get out there.”

Determined to become a mobile patrol officer, she snuck into her employer’s patrols on her nights off to learn the rounds, and got a chance to prove herself during a staff shortage. It was a poorly regulated industry in the ’90s, and before she had firearms training, an employer handed her an old .44 Magnum without bullets to carry on her hip.

After Field was made redundant in late 1997, a client encouraged her to start her own company. It was a slow grind until 2007, when she won a large government tender to secure three former Olympic sites in Sydney’s west.

Suddenly ”my turnover had gone from something like $90,000 to $800,000,” says Field, who was a finalist in this year’s Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards.

Field admits there have been times when she felt vulnerable – arriving at crime scenes when the thugs were still there, or going into dark factories on patrol runs. The flipside was that clients tended to trust her a little more than some of her ”macho industry peers”.

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Banks hit by ‘relentless’ costs

January 31st, 2019 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

AUSTRALIAN banks are seeing a ”relentless” increase in costs even as they shift their reliance from wholesale funding to deposits, ANZ’s Australian boss Phil Chronican said.
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His comments come as the ANZ is later this week expected to follow its big-bank rivals and hold back some of the Reserve Bank’s 25-basis-point interest rate cut.

The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB last week faced criticism when they each lowered their standard variable mortgages by less than this month’s cut in official rates. CBA and NAB said they would reduce their rates by 20 basis points to 6.6 per cent and 6.58 per cent, respectively, while Westpac cut its rate 18 basis points to 6.71 per cent.

Since the start of the year, the ANZ has been conducting its own monthly review of interest rates. The go-it-alone pricing strategy takes place every second Friday and seeks to break the link in consumers’ minds between official rate moves and the rates charged by the commercial banks.

Mr Chronican told ABC television yesterday the cost of funding had ”gone up and up”, although he noted costs had started to stabilise this year.

Even so, ANZ was currently refinancing borrowings that were made between three and five years ago ”at materially lower costs”.

In addition, the cost of retail deposits had not fallen by as much as the cash-rate target, Mr Chronican said.

Australian banks have been cutting back their reliance on global money markets to fund their lending book since the global financial crisis. Instead, they have been using more deposits to write loans.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Wayne Swan continued to urge disgruntled bank customers to shop around, saying the timing was right for home owners to review their mortgage.

”While government policies play an important role in fostering a competitive market, consumers also play an important role,” Mr Swan said yesterday.

”When a bank decides to pocket some of an interest rate cut on a home loan, it’s betting you’ll put up with it.

”But you don’t have to cop it quietly on the chin. If your bank doesn’t do the right thing by you, tell them, and if they don’t lift their game, look around for a better deal.”

In the past two months, the ANZ has left its rates unchanged without mention of higher costs.

When the Reserve Bank cut official interest rates to 3.25 per cent last Tuesday, it said the banks were having ”no difficulty” in accessing funds, after a recent lift in financial market confidence.

Mr Swan acknowledged some parts of the Australian economy were under pressure from global headwinds, a high dollar and changing consumer behaviour.

However, he said it was ”encouraging” that the much lower interest rates come at the same time as unemployment is low and economic growth is healthy.

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