Category Archive:江苏夜网


Reforms to give consumers a say

May 28th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

A new tribunal must approve ECT for involuntary patients.A NEW tribunal will be required to approve electroconvulsive therapy treatment for involuntary patients as part of an overhaul of Victoria’s mental health laws announced by the state government.
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Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that allows ECT without the consent of the patient and without either an external review from a tribunal or a second psychiatrist.

The former Labor government began a review of the 26-year-old Mental Health Act but it has been delayed for almost two years since the Coalition won office in 2010.

In releasing details of the reforms, Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said the government took into account hundreds of written submissions and extensive public consultation.

She said the reforms would allow mentally ill patients more say in their treatment, including stating their preferences in advance in case they became too unwell to communicate them.

Patients will also be able to nominate a person to support them during compulsory treatment, which would be deemed necessary only to prevent harm to the patient or others.

A new mental health tribunal comprising a doctor, a lawyer and a community representative will be required to approve compulsory treatment orders beyond 28 days, as well as ECT treatment if the patient is unable to consent.

In a submission to the review St Vincent’s Hospital warned that waiting for tribunal approval for ECT could delay treatment.

Speaking to The Age about the reforms, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists spokesman Malcolm Hopwood said ECT was an effective and sometimes life-saving treatment for severe mental illness.

”It is a significant change to require the authority of a tribunal to proceed, and we’ll obviously be looking very closely at the detail of how that’s going to be governed, and provisions around cases that require immediate treatment,” he said.

Associate Professor Hopwood welcomed the government’s decision not to proceed with penalties of up to a year’s jail for psychiatrists who breached ECT regulations.

He said there were more appropriate mechanisms for dealing with bad practice, including through the medical board.

Mental Illness Fellowship chief executive Elizabeth Crowther said the reforms were ”very significant”, particularly in recognising that patients’ capacity to make decisions about their treatment could fluctuate.

”Being able to work with the person while they are well and saying you can have some control over what happens to you when you are unwell is a sensational change,” Ms Crowther said.

Ms Wooldridge said the government planned to introduce a bill into Parliament by June, with the laws to take effect a year later.

A new mental health complaints commissioner to be appointed as part of the reforms will have ”broad powers to investigate services, make recommendations and issue compliance notices for serious and flagrant breaches of the legislation”, according to a government summary.

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Cath Roper works at Melbourne University with mental health nursing students.IT’S A good thing Cath Roper, who is no grudge holder, can appreciate the ironic reversal in her relationship with the state of Victoria.
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During 13 years of involuntary admissions to state psychiatric hospitals, Ms Roper was forcibly injected, thrown into solitary confinement, left to defecate and urinate without facilities and on one occasion sexually assaulted by a charge nurse.

In a remarkable turnaround, the same state health department now pays Ms Roper to work at Melbourne University, where she teaches new generations of mental health nursing students to treat tomorrow’s patients somewhat better.

Researchers and health bureaucrats say the arrival of people with openly declared experiences of mental illness into influential positions is improving mental health care and lives across Australia.

Sought out for their ”expertise by experience”, these mental health ”consumers”, as many call themselves, are conducting high-level research, working openly in government departments and even running a few mental health services staffed exclusively by people who have experienced mental illness.

Tomorrow, in an initiative welcomed by consumer representatives, Victoria’s Department of Health will introduce bi-monthly meetings between the state’s most senior mental health bureaucrats and about 50 ”consumer consultants”, all of whom have experiences of mental illness.

So is Ms Roper, a former public school teacher who was pushed out of her job after one of her hospitalisations – only to later become Australia’s first permanent ”consumer academic” – bitter about the Victorian state’s oddly bipolar attitude towards her?

”It has been remarkable, but no, I’m not a grudge holder,” Ms Roper says. ”And the beauty of this form of teaching is that the painful things you’ve experienced become fodder and inspiration – they’re incubated into learning for the students.”

Southern Health’s mental health program director of carer and consumer relations, Vrinda Edan, says consumers should be ”much more involved in policy”.

”Consumers,” says Ms Edan, who has been given multiple diagnoses, ”are people who, because they have lived through very high levels of distress, are the real experts in how to overcome that.”

In New South Wales, consumer advocate and service manager Janet Meagher was recently appointed an Australian mental health commissioner by the federal government. She has lived with schizophrenia since the 1970s.

Queensland consumer and former teacher Jude Bugeja manages a public residential mental health service run and exclusively staffed by people with an experience of mental illness. ”We have walked the walk,” the founding manager of the service, called Brook RED, told The Age, ”and it’s natural for someone [experiencing mental distress] to seek support and ideas from … someone who has ‘been there’.”

Meanwhile, Queensland’s health department has chosen a mental health services consumer, Rick Austin, to manage its Consumer, Carer and Family Team.

At least one person with a declared experience of mental illness is known to be employed in the Victorian health department’s mental health division.

However it is not always smooth sailing for consumers involved in the health sector.

International studies have found that medically oriented health professionals, such as psychiatrists, are among the least enthusiastic about involving consumers in mental health care.

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My school report
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Neal Harvey, 33, is the creative producer of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. It ends this week and has featured more than 300 shows.

Schools attended:

St James Primary in Coorparoo, Brisbane, then my family moved to the US when I was seven. I was enrolled at Notre Dame Elementary in St Louis.

I had to skip ahead six months because of the timing of the school year but I struggled academically. The syllabus was so different and I couldn’t catch up. I used to be good at school and now nothing made sense.

When we returned to Australia, I rejoined my former class at St James for a short while. I had a new appreciation for the way Miss Burn, my grade 4 teacher, understood that everyone learns differently. She spent as much time as she could with the students who were struggling and she tried to adapt the curriculum to each child’s strengths. I then went to Villanova College, Brisbane from years 5 to 12.

Favourite subject:

Physics because I liked its discipline and knowing that the problems were, ultimately, solvable. I also loved drama for its playfulness and, in contrast to physics, unknowingness and uncertainty.

Teacher who changed my life:

Rosemary O’Neill who taught speech in action (a style of public speaking) from grades 5 to 7. When I was in grade 6, I and another student topped Queensland in speech in action in the Australian Music Examination Board awards. It was a turning point because I realised it was something I enjoyed and could pursue. Rosemary O’Neill was a very good teacher and the first person who had an impact on my future career.

Sports/academic prizes won:

The Philip Parsons Prize for performance research at the University of Queensland and an Australian postgraduate award to undertake my doctorate in theatre and cultural studies.

When I was 12 I wanted to be:

Marty McFly from the Back to the Future movies.

In grade 6 I sat next to:

Michael Baldwin, who was a very good friend through to year 12.

Why I took the educational journey I did:

I did drama, English, physics, chemistry and maths B in year 12, then enrolled in a science degree at the University of Queensland. However, the physics there was very similar to what I’d done at school. I also did a drama elective and found this more challenging and enjoyable.

I changed courses and enrolled in arts, with a double major in drama. I was fortunate to study with a great intake of students who encouraged each other. Quite a few are now my peers and colleagues in the arts sector. After I graduated, I worked as a production manager and stage manager, including at Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre Company, the Queensland Theatre Company and with different arts festivals.

After about five years, I returned to the University of Queensland. Professor Joanne Tompkins told me about a project she was working on and I became her research assistant. She convinced me I had what it takes to do a doctorate. I studied this full-time for three years, and then part-time while I also did some tutoring. I’ve been with the Melbourne Fringe Festival since 2010. This year is our 30th anniversary and we’re constantly trying to reinvent what we do.

We sell about 500,000 tickets for our diverse program, which ranges from the edgy and the new to children’s shows. I love my job and work with a great group of people.

Best lesson ever learnt:

Not everything you do will work out, but it’s important to get back up and try again.

If I could change anything about my education:

I would change nothing as I had a well-rounded education.

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Car profits driven overseas

May 28th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

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A BUSINESSDAY analysis of the latest financial accounts for Australia’s big three car makers has found profits were again eroded by hefty royalty payments to parent companies overseas while the government continued to subsidise their operations here.

Royalty payments from GM Holden and Toyota to their overseas bosses last year – Ford did not report these payments – amounted to $221.4 million. This was marginally less than the $222 million the two car makers received in government grants.

The figures are grist to the mill of car industry critics who say the handouts are a waste of taxpayer money, made only because of the threat of plant closures and job losses.

In the case of GM Holden, royalty payments rose to $143 million in 2011 from $129 million in the previous year.

No breakdown was provided by the company but these intellectual property payments, perhaps for use of the logo and so forth, exceeded $89.68 million Holden received in government grants last year.

The grant almost exactly matched the $89.69 million profit GM Holden reported for the same period.

Toyota Australia, the biggest of the car makers, paid out royalties of $78.4 million, compared with $99.9 million the previous year.

Toyota received $132 million in grants during the year.

Sales were $7.2 billion, down from $8.2 billion. But the most striking figures from its financial report were on its costs of sales generated with related parties offshore – it was $5.2 billion out of $6.66 billion worth of sales costs.

Between the three makers, sales were $14.1 billion last year and related party transactions were $7.16 billion.

This means that for every dollar of sales recorded by Australia’s car industry last year, 50¢ of costs were generated by offshore companies related to Holden, Ford and Toyota.

It appears that as well as creating jobs locally – with the help of the government – Holden, Toyota and Ford are also creating plenty of jobs in other countries.

The other telling aspect of the accounts was the overall cost of sales. Other industries may show a gross margin of 50 per cent. By contrast, the auto makers regularly have 90 per cent of their total sales eaten up by cost of sales. Combined, their costs were $13.15 billion last year.

The more that revenue is eaten up in costs and assorted transactions with related companies offshore, the less tax the auto makers pay in Australia.

The most recent accounts appear to corroborate the claims of the car industry’s detractors that they are deliberately ”transfer pricing” and cooking up ways to send money overseas while asking for government grants in Australia. The car industry has always denied this.

The accounts for Ford, the weakest of the three, did not report royalty payments to its US parent.

The car maker reported revenue of $2.75 billion and a loss of $289 million.

It received grants totalling $102 million.

Ford’s retained earnings have been in sharp decline with contingency in its accounts for repaying a government grant because it had not fulfilled the criteria.

At the net profit level, GM Holden’s $89 million profits was down from $112 million in the previous year and Toyota made a loss of $33 million.

Toyota’s loss would mean no tax will be paid, with losses deferred for offsets against future profits.

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Surfwear online stitched up

April 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

SurfStitch is a one-stop shop.WHEN Justin Cameron was working as an investment banker, he found a surf after work would wash away the stresses of the day.
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”Surfing was the perfect remedy for any frustrations that I had during the day,” Mr Cameron said.

But what he couldn’t find was a one-stop online store from which to buy all his surf clothing needs, so with business partner Lex Pedersen he decided to start his own.

”We saw an opportunity in the market where none of the major surf and swimwear labels were marketing their brands online,” Mr Cameron said.

With Mr Cameron’s finance background and Mr Pedersen’s experience as manager of the Surfection retail chain in Sydney, the pair reckoned they had a chance of success. They were right.

This year, SurfStitch will turn over about $50 million in Australia, and another €10 million ($12.8 million) in Europe for its offering of 350 brands including Billabong, Quiksilver, Seafolly and Tigerlily.

Turnover has doubled each year since inception and the company now employs 250 staff in Australia and Europe, where it has just opened new headquarters in France including an 8000-square-metre distribution centre.

”We saw a huge opportunity to get into the European marketplace, which has a similar environment to what we saw in Australia in 2008 when we started,” Mr Cameron said. ”No one is currently servicing the street/surf/snow market in Europe [online] so the opportunity to capitalise on being a first mover is very appealing.”

SurfStitch sells up to 10,000 items online every day, even as the waters for Australian surfwear brands become increasingly choppy.

Georgina Safe travelled to Europe as a guest of Bulgari.

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THE head of the body representing industry super funds has blasted as ”inadequate” the for-profit sector’s proposed independence safeguards.
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Industry Super Network chief executive David Whiteley last week wrote to John Brogden, the head of retail fund umbrella group the Financial Services Council, setting out his concerns about the independence of super fund directors.

Under a standard proposed by the FSC, directors of super fund trustees will count as independent if they are also an independent director of the sponsoring financial institution’s board.

By contrast, industry funds are non-profit and controlled by a board of trustees made up of representatives of employers and unions.

The ISN submission to the FSC is the latest in a long-running battle between industry and retail funds for dominance of Australia’s $1.3 trillion superannuation nest egg.

Mr Whiteley told Mr Brogden he did not ”believe the draft standard will have credibility in the broader community”.

”The definition of independent director is novel but fails to address the obvious conflicts of interest and duty a director of the parent company and/or subsidiary would have if appointed to the board of the trustee,” he said.

In its submission, the ISN said the duties a director of a bank or other financial institution owes to that company will conflict with their duties to super funds members.

Mr Whiteley called on Mr Brogden to participate in a broader process that would set a standard binding both sides of the industry.

An FSC spokeswoman could not be reached yesterday, but BusinessDay understands the organisation feels its proposed standard complies with Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the stock exchange’s independence standards.

The proposed standard would make it impossible for a bank executive to sit on the board of a super fund run by the bank.

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Steadfast move for QBE chief

April 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

EMERGING insurance play Steadfast Group said former QBE chief Frank O’Halloran was a ”logical choice” to take charge as chairman as it prepared for a stockmarket listing in May next year.
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Mr O’Halloran, who was planning to join the QBE board next year, surprised investors when late on Friday he detailed plans to head up the Steadfast board.

The appointment of Mr O’Halloran comes less than two months after he retired from QBE following a 12-year stint as chief executive.

QBE’s board has offered to waive a non-compete clause in his contract that would have prevented Mr O’Halloran from acting for an insurance company or related business for three years from his retirement.

Steadfast executive chairman Robert Kelly said plans for the initial public offer were well under way and Mr O’Halloran was the logical choice for the insurance broker network.

”We do $760 million worth of business with QBE annually; we’ve had a long-standing relationship with them for many years,” Mr Kelly said yesterday. ”We’ve worked very closely with [Frank] over that time.”

JPMorgan and Macquarie Capital have been selected as joint lead managers to the planned float.

The Steadfast model sees insurance brokers band together to negotiate wholesale insurance rates with the major insurers. This is then onsold to the customers of insurance brokers.

Steadfast is also planning to take ownership stakes in more than 100 insurance brokers, making it a rival to listed insurance broker network Austbrokers Holdings.

Still, the appointment of Mr O’Halloran to a business that seeks to drive down premiums from players such as QBE raised questions among investors.

Mr O’Halloran is well known in the insurance broking community and has intimate knowledge of QBE’s pricing models.

There are more than 400 Steadfast brokers’ offices nationally, with sales of $4.1 billion and annual revenues of about $700 million.

Analysts calculate Steadfast would be valued at around $440 million based on its future earnings growth.

Mr O’Halloran was travelling overseas yesterday and was unavailable for comment. QBE chairwoman Belinda Hutchinson said Mr O’Halloran ”is passionate about the insurance industry, and feels that his expertise would add a great deal at Steadfast Group with its plans to list on the ASX”.

However, given QBE underwrites 17 per cent of Steadfast’s insurance, the QBE board and Mr O’Halloran ”agreed that he will not return to the QBE board in 2013 as originally envisaged”.

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Jobs figures a boost for Obama camp

April 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

BARACK Obama’s hopes of holding on to the White House have received a major boost from new figures showing that the US unemployment rate has dropped below 8 per cent for the first time since he took office in January 2009.
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The US added 114,000 new jobs in September, in line with expectations. But August’s disappointing jobs figure was dramatically revised upwards from 96,000 to 142,000, helping to bring the unemployment rate down to 7.8 per cent.

”Today, I believe that as a nation we are moving forward again,” Mr Obama told a raucous campaign rally in Fairfax, Virginia, after the figures were published. ”This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office.”

Acknowledging that the economy was not out of the woods yet, he added: ”Now, every month’s figures reminds us that we have still got too many of our friends and neighbours struggling to pay the bills … But now is certainly not the time to talk down the economy and score a few political points. It’s a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.”

Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, described the report as ”pretty darn good”. Mr Greenhaus highlighted the fact that the total number of employed persons rose by ”a whopping” 873,000 while the number of unemployed persons declined by 456,000, the largest increase in employment since January 2003.

The news could not have been better timed for Mr Obama, whose re-election campaign has been rattled in recent days by his perceived weak performance in his first debate with rival Mitt Romney. The report contained good news for many voters in key demographics being targeted ahead of the election.

The unemployment rate for adult men is now 7.3 per cent, and for adult women 7 per cent. But problems remain. September’s unemployment rate for teenagers was 23.7 per cent and there was little change for black Americans (13.4 per cent) or Hispanics (9.9 per cent).

The number of people working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job rose from 8 million in August to 8.6 million in September.

”This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Mr Romney said. ”We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office.”

He added: ”The results of President Obama’s failed policies are staggering – 23 million Americans struggling for work, nearly one in six living in poverty and 47 million people dependent on food stamps to feed themselves and their families.”

The Republican House speaker John Boehner also noted the figures are too high but acknowledged there was good news, too. ”While there is positive news in today’s report, job creation is far too slow and the unemployment rate is far too high.”

While Mr Obama can now point to 24 consecutive months of growth, the Republicans argue the rate remains historically weak. An increase of 114,000 barely covers population growth in the US as new entrants come into the job market.

Geoff Hoffmann of recruitment firm DHR International said employers were growing confident but a lot of uncertainty remained. ”There’s uncertainty about the impact of healthcare legislation, tax impacts, it’s not really clear what is going to happen in 2013 and beyond,” he said.


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Taxpayers taken on a long car ride

March 29th, 2019 / / categories: 江苏夜网 /

THE first thing to notice about Australia’s three car makers is how jealously they guard their accounts.
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It’s no wonder. Notwithstanding some $3 billion in government handouts in the past 10 years, you won’t find the financial statements for Ford, Holden and Toyota on the company websites.

You won’t find them at all unless you pay a tidy fee to the corporate regulator for access to these supposedly public documents.

Even cutting through the car makers’ public relations and ”communications” thickets to ask a basic question is tough.

It’s the same deal with government. The Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education did not even bother returning calls last week.

The department is paranoid, mired in a court battle with The Australian Financial Review over some emails sent mistakenly after a freedom of information request. Holden has joined the government’s case against the newspaper.

The fact is, the government should not be hiding this stuff, nor chewing through taxpayer dollars trying to suppress information in the courts, information which should be public.

It’s in the public interest for people to know what deals are being struck with their tax dollars, especially if they are propping up purportedly unprofitable businesses.

In a self-interested aside, it is not as if we battlers here in the traditional media business – a sector in worse financial shape but whose survival is arguably more critical to the nation – have our hands out for taxpayer dollars.

Greater transparency is clearly warranted in the light of the findings of this BusinessDay investigation of the Holden, Ford and Toyota accounts.

Once again, in a pattern replicated year in, year out, as much profit as appears possible has been sent offshore.

The car industry, it seems, has been taking the taxpayer for a ride, an epic ride. And now it has hit a bump. That bump takes the form of a challenge to the sweetheart deals between the car makers and the government.

In a nutshell, this is the debate: the Fin Review has been running its doctrinaire and increasingly determined anti-protectionist line. The government has countered by talking up the benefit of a heavy manufacturing base and protecting thousands of jobs.

Holden chief Mike Devereux weighed in last week, telling the Murdoch press the benefit of this latest round of ”co-investment” – a euphemism for government subsidy – was a ”multiplier effect”.

That is, beyond the direct investment by General Motors and the government, there is job creation and rising demand for other goods and services. Devereux puts the value of this latest $1 billion ”co-investment” at $4 billion.

The car makers have been less enthusiastic when it comes to multiplier effects elsewhere, even hypocritical some may contend, by objecting to the government’s move to protect steel makers against cheap imports.

For their part, the anti-protection crusaders see dark forces at work, shadowy deals between the unions and the Labor government. They point to a $53 million bailout for Ford in January that shortly preceded Ford’s commitment to 3 per cent wage rises for the next three years.

Holden, they say, struck a similar agreement last year.

The reality is that cosy deals have carried on for decades, and have sprung from governments of both hues. In the past 10 years, more has been forked out in subsidies than has been recorded in bottom-line profits.

Herein lies the rub. To what extent are the accounts of the car makers financially engineered to shift profits offshore?

The sheer size of the ”cost of sales” line in the accounts of the three car makers and the alarmingly high proportion of related party transactions in these figures leads to the inescapable conclusion that the companies’ offshore parents are benefiting at the expense of their local subsidiaries.

Whether this accounting charade is reason enough to jettison every last protection initiative and throw the car makers to the laissez-faire wolves is another matter. We defer to others on the old multiplier effect.

Suffice to say that the fervent cries of the anti-protection brigade do not extend to indignation about the free ride that has been afforded the big banks, to nominate another mollycoddled sector.

Above all, there is undeniable public interest in having this all out in the plain light of day.

No suppression of information, and far greater transparency on the part of government and the manufacturers has to be a good thing.

Joining the dots in the Holden accounts, it would appear that the Tax Office became a little fed up with the some of the aggressive tax minimisation tactics a few years ago.

There has been an unravelling of deferred tax assets, which explains a small tax benefit last year although there was also a profit.

The ATO has reduced GM’s entitlement to royalties paid by $51 million in 2005, $46 million in 2006, $43 million in 2007 and $37 million in 2008.

It then increased taxable income by up to $22 million in the same years.

From a global perspective the auto bosses in the US and Japan would be loath to see a lurk like this come to an end, one in which foreign governments help to fund demand for their spare parts.


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JUST last month former QBE boss Frank O’Halloran was pressing the flesh at the AFL grand final on behalf of the insurance group as the team the company has sponsored for 25 years, the Sydney Swans, took home the cup in a nail-biter.
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By the end of this month, he’ll be helping to run a competitor as chairman of Steadfast Group, which is basically a buyers’ group for insurance brokers, as it prepares for a listing on the ASX.

Not bad after leaving QBE with shares and benefits worth up to $37 million in August.

What’s more, QBE seems fairly relaxed about the move, giving O’Halloran an early release from a non-compete agreement that could have kyboshed the deal.

Because QBE underwrites about 17 per cent of Steadfast’s business, plans for O’Halloran to rejoin the QBE board next year as a non-executive director have been ditched.

CBD ventures to suggest new QBE CEO John Neal might find life a little easier without the man who used a series of ambitious acquisitions to build the company into what it is today looking over his shoulder.

Indeed, the company seems to have been so relaxed about the move it didn’t get around to putting out an announcement until after 5pm on Friday.

A QBE spokesman insists the timing wasn’t the company’s choice, but rather due to the National Insurance Brokers Association shindig over the weekend, at which QBE won general insurer of the year.

While Steadfast is happy to have O’Halloran, and QBE is happy to let him go, there is one drawback to the otherwise satisfactory arrangement.

O’Halloran won’t be lending his skills at any more company functions, including an upcoming overseas trip QBE has organised for analysts.

CBD doesn’t know where the tour is going, but suggests Bermuda, where QBE has recently expanded the operations of its captive reinsurer, Equator Re, moving eight people from its Dublin office.

For his part, it is understood O’Halloran jetted out for South America yesterday morning.

‘Big’ Jim’s hiring

IT SOUNDS like a great job, even if the grammar and spelling is a little shaky. Corporate development manager for a small, private, Swiss investment firm that’s on the prowl for underperforming Australian minnows it can snap up and turn around.

Sure, there’s some random capitalisation in the ad and ”implement” is spelt ”impalement”, which sounds a bit uncomfortable, but hey, with a name like Swissco Asia Pacific Investment Fund, English is not going to be their first language, right?

So, why is it that the phone number of twice-banned, baseball-bat-wielding, former used car salesman ”Big” Jim Byrnes appears at the bottom of the ad Swissco placed on Seek南京夜网.au on Friday?

CBD recognised the number because it’s the same one used to sell the ”0” number plates that used to adorn the Sydney property developer and former bankrupt’s Mercedes.

”Big” Jim told CBD he was ”just an employee” and ”not in a position to disclose anything. I’m not in a position legally to disclose where the funds come from.”

However, Switzerland’s freely available corporate database shows the company, originally named Rollercom, was set up in late 2010 by a Dr Martin Grossmann as an insurance and finance outfit and changed its purpose to investment in the Asia Pacific region in August.

CBD hopes Jim’s latest Swiss connection fares better than his last effort, ALF Group Holdings.

The company, formerly in the knickers trade under the moniker Can Can Lingerie Holding, was connected to his litigation funder Australian Litigation Funders.

Can Can couldn’t couldn’t, was de-listed by the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in June and went into liquidation by order of a Swiss court the following month.

Company documents show that Jim, his wife Catherine and business associate Michael Pakula were directors when the ship went down, although Jim told CBD that his family had bought the Australian assets back before that happened.

The documents also show one of ALF’s previous directors was Dr Martin Grossmann, of Zurich.

Clearly relations between Jim and the doctor are still good.

”They were the ones who sought me out, not the other way around,” he said.

The Village elders

WITH Australia’s population rapidly ageing, the push is on to keep older workers on the job for longer.

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a paper chock full of proposals that remove the barriers to keeping a rapidly graying workforce at the coalface – things like lifting the retirement age for judges and soldiers, allowing over-75s to top up their super, and encouraging employers to take on older workers.

None of those things would seem to be needed at cinema and theme park operator Village Roadshow, at least at executive and board level.

The company has just extended chief executive Graham Burke’s contract through to 2017, by which time he will be a sprightly 75.

As a mark of gratitude for his ”outstanding contribution to the company over many years”, Burke is also to be granted 4.5 million Village Roadshow shares, at a cost of about $2.7 million.

The decision was made by an equally youthful board whose average age is 65.2.

It would be older but for a couple of teenagers, in the shape of 46-year-old Timothy Antonie, who also sits on the board of Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, and 50-year-old Julie Raffe, dragging the average towards the cradle.

Luckily Austereo Group executive chairman Peter Harvie, 73, and Hollywood veteran Barry Reardon, 81, are there to bring a bit of wisdom to bear.

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