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I watched some 40 films at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. Here are my top five picks – and one hilarious flop

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857">Ari Mattes</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p>This year’s <a href="https://www.sff.org.au/">Sydney Film Festival’s</a> rich offerings of films more than compensated for the minor technical issues that led to some screenings being interrupted.</p> <p>Out of the 40-odd films I saw, here are my top five, along with some notable mentions and three disappointments (including a genuine <em>dud</em>).</p> <h2>1. The Girl with the Needle</h2> <p>Cowritten and directed by Swedish filmmaker Magnus von Horn, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl_with_the_Needle">The Girl with the Needle</a> is loosely based on the story of notorious early-20th century serial killer Dagmar Overbye.</p> <p>But this is no procedural true crime film, painstakingly attempting to recreate crimes with historical accuracy. It’s a stylish Danish nightmare dazzling with cinematic acrobatics right from the opening sequence, in which black and white faces hideously morph, looking at the viewer like deranged figures from a hellish circus. It is, indeed, one of the most terrifying films I’ve seen.</p> <p>The narrative follows the struggles of new mother Karoline (Vic Carmen Sonne) as she gives her baby to Dagmar’s informal adoption agency and begins working with her as a wet nurse, unaware of what’s really going on.</p> <p>Sonne is as self-assured as ever – and none of the actors put a foot wrong here. Seasoned Danish film star Trine Dyrholm is exceptional in bringing nuance to what could have become a caricaturishly evil role as Dagmar. And Besir Zeciri endows Peter, a war-wounded veteran who can only find employment in a circus freakshow, with an unexpected warmth and tenderness.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VlyW-z1xbO4?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>The Girl with the Needle features some of the most distressing sequences one could find in a commercial film. Its meticulously rendered shades of German expressionism never distract from its smorgasbord of horrors, offering an almost unbearably bleak vision of the world in the aftermath of the Great War. If only all films were this good!</p> <h2>2. Dying</h2> <p>I’d normally suppress a yawn if you told me I had to sit through a three-hour social realist drama about the everyday difficulties of a bourgeois German conductor and his family. Yet writer-director Matthias Glasner’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_(2024_film)">Dying</a> is a near perfect film (no surprise it won <a href="https://www.screendaily.com/news/matthias-glasners-dying-wins-german-lola-for-best-film/5193046.article">four prizes</a> at the German Film Awards).</p> <p>The film is complex and engrossing – deeply sad in places and hysterical in others – formally controlled, but underpinned by an anarchic sensibility. It is life-affirming without any skerrick of sentimentality.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kagVqEfPxFw?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Lars Eidinger is astonishingly good as maestro Tom, who is trying to keep his career on track as his family life crumbles around him. He is matched by Lilith Stangenberg, mesmerising as his unhinged sister Ellen. Robert Gwisdek is equally exceptional as the highly strung composer and friend Bernard, while Corinna Harfouch anchors the film’s first section as Tom’s far from maternal mother, Lissy.</p> <p>At one point, Ingmar Bergman’s 1982 period film <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_and_Alexander">Fanny and Alexander</a> is playing on the TV (Tom watches it every Christmas). Even though Dying feels like a contemporary film committed to interrogating the difficulties of being in the modern world, there’s something of late Bergman here as it unfolds across its epic length.</p> <p>It is a three-hour film about middle-class life, but like a great 19th-century novel, it never feels long. The fact that nothing particularly extraordinary happens is testament to how well-made the film is.</p> <h2>3. Kill</h2> <p>Director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Indian action film <a href="https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kill_2023_2">Kill</a> is cheesy, sentimental and at first seems remarkably silly.</p> <p>Commando Amrit, played by beefy TV star Lakshya, is travelling to New Delhi by train with his buddy, fellow commando Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan). His true love Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) is also on board and has recently become engaged to another man through an arrangement by her wealthy father, Baldev Singh Thakur (Harsh Chhaya), who happens to own the train company. When a group of 30-plus bandits led by the charming but ice-cold Fani (Raghav Juyal) move to rob the train, Amrit must defend Tulika, her family and the rest of the passengers.</p> <p>When the title card appears 40 minutes into the film, suddenly emblazoned on the screen, it seems like a distracting quirk at first. But it begins to make sense as the train rolls on. All of the violence and bone-crushing action of the first section is mere preamble, leading to a point of transition from an extremely violent but fun action film, to a much darker – and bloodier – revenge film.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/da7lKeeS67c?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kill is an exceptionally well-wrought genre film. The kinetic and balletic action recalls the golden era of Hong Kong action cinema, but with hammers, daggers and sickles instead of guns and the frenetic staging of hand-to-hand combat instead of poetic slow-motion footage. It is also a great example of a film being more than the sum of its parts. No element is perfect, yet they come together to transcend these limitations, its flow reaching sublime levels by the end.</p> <p>There’s also an undercurrent of sadness throughout. We see an India of haves and have-nots, of families of bandits struggling to survive and of the supreme violence sustaining the social and political order. As Fani says to Amrit near the end: “Who kills like this? I killed four of your people. You finished off 40 of my family. You’re not a protector. You’re a monster. A fucking monster.” The title says it all.</p> <h2>4. Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</h2> <p>Biographical films about celebrities inevitably feel gossipy. Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super/Man:_The_Christopher_Reeve_Story">Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story</a> is no exception. But it is so well made (and well-resourced, one would imagine, as it’s produced by DC) that it moves beyond its tabloid-like qualities.</p> <p>Interviews with Reeve’s friends and colleagues, including Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close and Jeff Daniels, are interspersed with home footage shot by Reeve and his family throughout his career and during his recovery from the near-fatal riding accident that left him paralysed and breathing through a respirator for the rest of his life.</p> <p>Reeve’s close friendship with “brother” Robin Williams assumes central importance, with the film implying the two men were so emotionally dependent on each other that Williams would probably still be alive if Reeve hadn’t died in 2004.</p> <p>But the most interesting parts of the film involve carefully assembled archival footage looking at how Reeve’s decision to play Superman negatively impacted his career and personal life. He never starred in another profitable film, and his father and colleagues such as William Hurt loathed his decision to play a comic book character.</p> <p>This is counterpointed with his post-accident career as a director and disability advocate. Interviews with Reeve’s children add a genuinely tragic sense of pathos to this slick, well-made and emotionally exhausting “true Hollywood” story. It’s everything one could want from such a documentary.</p> <h2>5. Kneecap</h2> <p>Cowriter-director Rich Peppiatt’s Kneecap is a riotous, irreverent biopic following the career of Belfast drug-dealers Móglaí Bap and Mo Chara as they team up with high school music teacher DJ Próvai to become the first Irish-language rap group, Kneecap.</p> <p>The real <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-66408560">Kneecappers</a> cowrote the film and play themselves and, given none of them are actors, do so remarkably well. They’re joined by Irish heavyweights Josie Walker, playing the detective who has it in for them, and Michael Fassbender, playing Móglaí’s father, an old-school Irish radical who has been on the run for the past few decades.</p> <p>The film depicts their hedonistic drug use and anarchic disregard for the law in the context of their radical political motivation to speak Irish against the colonial English. And while it may be a bit cartoonish in its presentation of Belfast’s history and the struggle to keep Gaelic alive, it is a music biopic after all.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FFYfp-hKxZQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>Kneecap is violent, coarse and laced with infectiously good humour – a genuinely fun film, buoyed by its charismatic stars and lively style. Only the most stringent moralist wouldn’t enjoy this one!</p> <h2>Notable mentions</h2> <p>It’s extremely difficult to pick a top five when 15 or so of the films I saw were standouts. And this is testament to the quality of the festival’s selection.</p> <p>It was a pleasure watching heavyweight Sean Penn go head-to-head with Dakota Johnson in writer-director Christy Hall’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddio_(film)">Daddio</a>, even if the story takes an uninteresting turn in the final third. Despite the banality of the premise – a New York cabbie chats with a passenger – and the inanity of some of the dialogue, this romantic ode to urban life in all its alienated, fluoro-lit techno glory is so well crafted that we happily go along for the ride.</p> <p>Equally affective is the melancholic and beautifully performed <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puan_(film)">Puan</a>, a restrained comedy set in a University faculty in Buenos Aires. Puan could easily make my top five, as could André Téchiné’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_New_Friends_(film)">My New Friends</a>), an offbeat French melodrama starring Isabelle Huppert as a disillusioned police officer who becomes friends with an anti-cop activist in the suburbs.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cnz-6h60tkk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <h2>Poor performers</h2> <p>Of the lot, I only found three films disappointing.</p> <p>The first, Among the Wolves, is a Belgian-French documentary in which a photographer and illustrator lie waiting in a tiny, makeshift building to encounter wild wolves. While some of the footage is striking, the film is let down by its scientific inaccuracy, such as references to the “alpha male” wolf – a term and concept that has <a href="https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/the-myth-of-the-alpha-wolf">long been discredited</a>. Such innacuracy is a cardinal sin for a documentary, which is supposed to inform the viewer.</p> <p>Though critically acclaimed, Hollywood horror film The Substance – a story of an ageing entertainer who turns to a mysterious substance to stay young (with unsurprisingly horrific ramifications) – feels neither new nor particularly interesting. And while it’s great to see Demi Moore and Dennis Quaid back on the big screen, their caricaturish characters make the whole thing seem like a boring joke: an inflated short film that is both irritatingly silly and painfully didactic.</p> <p>But rarely does a film so resolutely reaffirm a sense of the absurd hubris of humans as Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed mega-flop, Megalopolis. This cartoonish, incoherent mess set in a dystopian version of the United States, “New Rome”, is howlingly bad in places.</p> <p>Imagine the worst parts of The Hunger Games and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064940/">Fellini Satyricon</a> (1969) crossed with Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and you begin to get a sense of the kind of self-indulgent, heavy-handed nonsense that is Megalopolis.</p> <p>Side-splittingly funny moments come courtesy of bad dialogue (“Utopias become dystopias,” actor Giancarlo Esposito says at one point with a straight face). And stilted acting by Adam Driver and Aubrey Plaza had the (remaining) audience in stitches. Megalopolis is like one of the great fiascos from days gone by – the 21st century’s Heaven’s Gate – and there is definitely something delightful about the existence of this <a href="https://variety.com/2022/film/news/francis-ford-coppola-funding-120-million-dollars-megalopolis-1235184765/">US$120 million</a> (roughly A$180 million) flop.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1FQzWD5xVKQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></figure> <p>But as a dud, Megalopolis is the outlier. And in a year following Barbie, Oppenheimer, Napoleon and Poor Things (talk about heavy-handed cinema), much of the menu of this year’s Sydney Film Festival once again proves there are still good filmmakers out there making good films.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232706/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ari-mattes-97857"><em>Ari Mattes</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Communications and Media, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-notre-dame-australia-852">University of Notre Dame Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-watched-some-40-films-at-this-years-sydney-film-festival-here-are-my-top-five-picks-and-one-hilarious-flop-232706">original article</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Image: IMDB</em></p> </div>

Movies

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Airport worker steals half a million dollars of personal items

<p>A trusted worker at Sydney Airport has been jailed for two years after stealing more than $450,000 worth of personal items from airport cargo. </p> <p>The 38-year-old man from Western Sydney, who was a freight handler at the airport, was identified as a potential suspect when the thefts of personal electronic items were first reported in February 2022.</p> <p>Several months later, he was found with $189,000 cash in the boot of his car, according to Australian Federal Police. </p> <p>The AFP then found that a further $261,000 had been transferred into the man’s personal bank accounts, after a number of stolen devices had been “sold, gifted, or kept for personal use”.</p> <p>“This money, which totalled $450,000, was criminal proceeds generated from the sale of the stolen electronic devices,” AFP said.</p> <p>The man was charged with receiving stolen property and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime, while his partner, a 45-year-old woman, was charged with two counts of dealing with money or other property reasonable to be suspected of being proceeds of crime under $100,000.</p> <p>The pair pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2023, and on Wednesday the man was sentenced to three years and four months in jail, with a non-parole period of two years.</p> <p>The woman was to an intensive corrections order of 70 hours community service.</p> <p>AFP Sydney Airport Police Commander Morgen Blunden said the pair was “motivated by profit and greed”.</p> <p>“People with trusted access in an airport precinct are critical to the successful operation of Australia’s tourism and trade sectors,” Blunden said.</p> <p>“But the AFP will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who abuse this trust. AFP has zero tolerance for those to abuse their access to air-side operations for their illegal pursuits.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Five tips to help you start new hobbies in retirement

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p>Retirement can be an exciting but also scary prospect for many. How you fill your time is totally up to you, but with so many choices it can be a bit daunting. But it’s important to make sure you keep active, physically and mentally.</p> <p>Hobbies can <a href="https://www.careuk.com/help-advice/why-are-long-lost-hobbies-important-for-older-people">increase wellbeing</a> by boosting brain function, enhancing social skills and improving fine motor skills. <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/366160647_Psychological_benefits_of_hobby_engagement_in_older_age_a_longitudinal_cross-country_analysis_of_93263_older_adults_in_16_countries">A study carried out in 2022</a> found that spending time on hobbies was associated with lower symptoms of depression and a perceived increase in a person’s sense of health, happiness and overall life satisfaction.</p> <p>However, many older people don’t take up hobbies for all sorts of reasons. This might include fears that they are not as good at something in their older age as they were when they were younger. This fear of trying new things can lead to increased feelings of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338142/">loneliness and isolation</a>.</p> <p>Here are five tips using <a href="https://ppc.sas.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/ppintroarticle.pdf">positive psychology</a> that could help you or someone in your life if they are scared or nervous about picking up a hobby.</p> <h2>1. Broaden your strengths</h2> <p>Our idea of what we are good at is formed at a very young age and often reflects subjects that we were good at in our school days. Positive psychology’s “<a href="https://www.viacharacter.org/character-strengths-and-virtues">theory of strengths</a>” encourages us to think more broadly about what constitutes a strength. For instance, it considers curiosity, kindness and bravery as strengths. When applied to choosing a hobby, it means that if you believe one of your strengths is kindness, you could consider working in outreach or charity as a hobby or spending time speaking with people who are housebound.</p> <h2>2. Find activities you already enjoy</h2> <p>The “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1693418/pdf/15347528.pdf?inf_contact_key=9944754ba1372fa9ce5ee1421d8427bc">broaden and build theory”</a> suggests that when we feel positive emotions such joy or love, we are more likely to engage in new activities, thoughts and behaviours. It follows then, that if you look at times in your life when you experience these emotions this could help you start a new hobby. So, if you enjoy walking in the countryside, then the theory suggests that those feelings would enable you to join a rambling club.</p> <h2>3. Remember moments you’ve lost track of time</h2> <p>Another way to identify an activity that would be good to do is by using “<a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/flow-state#what-it-is">flow theory”</a>. This suggests that when we are doing something that we become completely absorbed in, that our brainwave patterns change and we can lose track of time. For this to happen, we need an activity that is meaningful to us to complete, with just the right amount of challenge so that it is not too easy or too hard.</p> <p>An exercise that reveals your personal flow template involves looking back on your life to find as many times as possible when you’ve been doing something and completely lost track of time. Write these down and see if these moments have anything in common. For example, are they all creative activities or all outdoors and physical? This will reveal something about yourself and the type of activity that is aligned with who you are, and could suggest new hobbies.</p> <h2>4. Be kind to yourself</h2> <p>“<a href="https://self-compassion.org/">Self-compassion theory</a>” teaches us the importance of being as kind to ourselves as we would be to a friend. When we are thinking about what we are good at, we can be unkind to ourselves by comparing ourselves unfavourably to others or to an imagined high standard.</p> <p>Self-compassion theory states that our imperfections make us human, and it is our shared knowledge of this that connects us to others. Where a goal in an activity is kindness with ourselves and those doing the activity with us rather than performance, we can access a new more meaningful reason to take part in something.</p> <h2>5. Imagine your perfect day</h2> <p>The last tip from positive psychology involves creating <a href="https://www.thepositivepsychologypeople.com/reflections-on-a-beautiful-day/">a story of the perfect average day</a> and then planning to actually live it. How do your hobbies fit into this? How does this day tap into your broadened idea of your strengths? How does it include kindness to yourself and others?</p> <p>It also helps to identify goals either for retirement more generally or for participating in a hobby. By picturing the perfect average day you can create more meaning and purpose in life by seeing how all the parts of your life fit together. It also reveals short term goals for example, if you plan to go to an art club but can’t get there, then a goal could be asking for a lift from another club member. When these pieces are in place, hope is ignited, and a vision created of how life can go forward so that you really can live your best retired life.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alison-bishop-1522973">Alison Bishop</a>, Lecturer in Positive Psychology Coaching, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-east-london-924">University of East London</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-to-help-you-start-new-hobbies-in-retirement-226764">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Retirement Life

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Teen actress' parents share update after five-storey fall

<p>Mamie Laverock's parents have shared a promising update with fans, after she was left fighting for her life following a five-storey <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/health/caring/teen-actress-on-life-support-after-devastating-mishap" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fall</a>. </p> <p>Her parents Nicole and Rob updated their GoFundMe page for the 19-year-old and said that she was “out of her big surgeries," and confirmed that doctors say she's “doing well.”</p> <p>"Mamie is out of her extensive surgeries and the doctors say she is doing well," they wrote.</p> <p>“It’s impossible for us to be happier,” her parents continued.</p> <p>“Thank you all for your support.”</p> <p>On May 11, Laverock experienced a “medical emergency” and was hospitalised in Winnipeg, Canada before being transferred to another hospital in Vancouver. </p> <p>At the time her parents said her recovery was “unclear", but she was “showing signs of improvement.” </p> <p>More than two weeks later, they shared a harrowing update on their daughter's condition informing fans that she was now on life support after she fell five stories from a balcony walkway while being escorted out of a secure unit in the hospital. </p> <p>Many of her <em>When Calls the Heart </em>co-stars took to social media to promote the crowd-funding page and express their heartbreak. </p> <p>“I love this family, my heart is broken. A devastating time for all who care for Mamie. Please help if you can. They need all the support they can get to make it through this,"  Laverock’s on-screen mother Molly Sullivan wrote on X. </p> <p>"I just donated. If you have the means to do so, I hope you will too. Link in bio,” wrote the show's leading actress Erin Krakow.  </p> <p>The fundraiser has now exceeded the $30,000 CAD target, raising almost $33,000 CAD. </p> <p><em>Image: GoFundMe</em></p> <p> </p>

Caring

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Australian churches collectively raise billions of dollars a year – why aren’t they taxed?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706">Dale Boccabella</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p>There’s a good reason your local volunteer-run netball club doesn’t pay tax. In Australia, various nonprofit organisations are exempt from paying income tax, including those that do charitable work, such as churches.</p> <p>These exemptions or concessions can also extend to other taxes, including fringe benefits tax, state and local government property taxes and payroll taxes.</p> <p>The traditional justification for granting these concessions is that charitable activities benefit society. They contribute to the wellbeing of the community in a variety of non-religious ways.</p> <p>For example, charities offer welfare, health care and education services that the government would generally otherwise provide due to their obvious public benefits. The tax exemption, which allows a charity to retain all the funds it raises, provides the financial support required to relieve the government of this burden.</p> <p>The nonprofit sector is often called the third sector of society, the other two being government and for-profit businesses. But in Australia, this third sector is quite large. Some grassroots organisations have only a tiny footprint, but other nonprofits are very large. And many of these bigger entities – including some “megachurches” – run huge commercial enterprises. These are often indistinguishable from comparable business activities in the for-profit sector.</p> <p>So why doesn’t this revenue get taxed? And should we really give all nonprofits the same tax exemptions?</p> <h2>Why don’t churches pay tax?</h2> <p>The primary aim of a church is to advance or promote its religion. This itself counts as a charitable purpose under the <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">2013 Charities Act</a>. However, section five of that act requires a church to have only charitable purposes – any other purposes must be incidental to or in aid of these.</p> <p>Viewed alone, the conduct of a church with an extensive commercial enterprise – which could include selling merchandise, or holding concerts and conferences – is not a charitable purpose.</p> <p>But Australian case law and <a href="https://www.acnc.gov.au/for-charities/start-charity/role-acnc-deciding-charity-status/legal-meaning-charity#:%7E:text=Taxation%20Ruling%20(TR)%202011%2F,set%20out%20in%20taxation%20rulings.">an ATO ruling</a> both support the idea that carrying on business-like activities can be incidental to or in aid of a charitable purpose. This could be the case, for example, if a large church’s commercial activities were to help give effect to its charitable purposes.</p> <p>Because of this, under Australia’s current income tax law, a church that is running a large commercial enterprise is able to retain its exemption from income tax on the profits from these activities.</p> <p>There are various public policy concerns with this. First, the lost tax revenue is likely to be significant, although the government’s annual tax expenditure statement does not currently provide an estimate of the amount of tax revenue lost.</p> <p>And second, the tax exemption may give rise to unfairness. A for-profit business competing with a church in a relevant industry may be at a competitive disadvantage – despite similar business activities, the for-profit entity pays income tax but the church does not. This competitive disadvantage may be reflected in lower prices for customers of the church business.</p> <h2>What about taxing their employees?</h2> <p>Churches that run extensive enterprises are likely to have many employees. Generally, all the normal Australian tax rules apply to the way these employees are paid – for example, employees pay income tax on these wages. Distributing profits to members would go against the usual rules of the church, and this prohibition is <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.au/C2013A00100/asmade/text">required</a> anyway for an organisation to qualify as a charity.</p> <p>Some churches may be criticised for paying their founders or leaders “excessive” wages, but these are still taxed in the same way as normal salaries.</p> <p>It’s important to consider fringe benefit tax – which employers have to pay on certain benefits they provide to employees. Aside from some qualifications, all the usual <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/how-fringe-benefits-tax-works">fringe benefit tax rules</a> apply to non-wage benefits provided to employees of a church.</p> <p>Just like their commercial (and taxable) counterparts, the payment for “luxury” travel and accommodation for church leaders and employees when on church business will not generate a fringe benefits taxable amount for the church.</p> <p>One qualification, though, is that a church is likely to be a <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/businesses-and-organisations/hiring-and-paying-your-workers/fringe-benefits-tax/fbt-concessions-for-not-for-profit-organisations/fbt-rebatable-employers">rebatable employer</a> under the fringe benefit tax regime. This means it can obtain some tax relief on benefits provided to each employee, up to a cap.</p> <h2>We may need to rethink blanket tax exemptions for charities</h2> <p>Back in an age where nonprofits were mainly small and focused on addressing the needs of people failed by the market, the income tax exemption for such charities appeared appropriate.</p> <p>But in the modern era, some charities – including some churches – operate huge business enterprises and collect rent on extensive property holdings.</p> <p>Many are now questioning whether we should continue offering them an uncapped exemption from income tax, especially where there are questions surrounding how appropriately these profits are used.</p> <p>Debates about solutions to the problem have focused on various arguments. However, more data may be needed on the way charities apply their profits to a charitable purpose, particularly those involved in substantial commercial activities.</p> <p>An all-or-nothing rule exempting the whole charitable sector may no longer be fit for purpose if it fails to take into account the very different circumstances of different nonprofits.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228901/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dale-boccabella-15706"><em>Dale Boccabella</em></a><em>, Associate Professor of Taxation Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ranjana-gupta-1207482">Ranjana Gupta</a>, Senior Lecturer Taxation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/auckland-university-of-technology-1137">Auckland University of Technology</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-churches-collectively-raise-billions-of-dollars-a-year-why-arent-they-taxed-228901">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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Peter Stefanovic slammed for "harsh" question to young million-dollar winner

<p>Peter Stefanovic has been slammed online for bringing up a past crime committed by the 19-year-old, who had his life change overnight when he won $1 million. </p> <p>Keegan Payne was fishing in the Northern Territory when he <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/travel/domestic-travel/this-is-crazy-teenager-goes-fishing-and-emerges-a-millionaire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">caught</a> a barramundi worth $1 million, that was part of a years-long fishing competition in the Top End. </p> <p>While dong the media rounds to celebrate his life-changing win, Keegan spoke with Stefanovic on <em>Sky News</em>, who chose to focus on a petty crime Keegan committed when he was just 16-years-old, cutting the joy of his win short. </p> <p>"There is a claim online that you stole a Polaris Ranger and Polaris quad that you and your friends stole and damaged from a business a few years back, first of all, is that true?" Stefanovic asked from his <a id="mol-c0669630-0788-11ef-a01a-6393dcd80371" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/sydney/index.html" target="_self">Sydney</a> studio during the live interview.</p> <p>Payne, who was speaking from the Darwin, simply answered, "Yes".</p> <p>"So, what happened?" Mr Stefanovic pressed.</p> <p>Payne explained he and his friends "were young", and "weren't thinking at the time" but having come up with the idea they "went for it".</p> <p>Stefanovic asked Payne if he regretted the act and he said he did "big time".</p> <p>Social media users were quick to condemn Stefanovic's line of questioning to the teenager, saying he chose to cut him down on live TV, rather than celebrate his success. </p> <p>One person wrote online, "Reporter hears good news. Does everything they can to dig up dirt and be negative. He made a mistake and took the fall out for it and was forgiven way before this win!"</p> <p>Another simply said, "S***ty reporting as usual", while others asked why people couldn't "just be happy for this kid?"</p> <p>"No one's perfect, but to shame him on tv? Talk about rip the carpet from beneath him! Stop kicking people back down when they move forward!" another added</p> <p>"Shows the mentality of dipsh*ts who like ruin other peoples happiness!"</p> <p>Another simply called Stefanovic a "grub", and said he was being "unfair" on the teenager.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Sky News / Million Dollar Fish  </em></p>

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Christchurch attack victims' families reflect on tragedy five years on

<p>It's been five years since 51 men, women and children, were murdered in a terror attack when a white supremacist opened fire at Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.</p> <p>Now, the victims' families have reflected on the tragic day, and commemorated their loved ones on the five-year anniversary of the attacks.</p> <p>Dr Maysoon Salama, who lost her son Atta Elayyan, 33, relives the grief of losing her son every day.</p> <p>“The pain is still fresh,” she told <em>7NEWS</em>.</p> <p>Five years on, the good memories she shared with her son still play back in her mind.</p> <p>“Atta was an amazing son,” she said. “He’s touched the lives of so many people.”</p> <p>Despite the tragedy, Dr Salama remains strong and finds herself healing through her granddaughter Aya.</p> <p>“I feel like I see her father when I see her,” she said.</p> <p>“It’s a really hard journey ... but she has always been my focus.”</p> <p>Aya was two when she lost her father, and Dr Salama was faced with the heartbreaking task of helping her granddaughter adjust to a life without her father.</p> <p>“When I look her in the eyes and she will ask, ‘Where is my dad?’, what am I going to tell her?” she recalled thinking.</p> <p>“How are we going to tell her when she’s so attached to her daddy? She loved him so much.”</p> <p>Dr Salama's husband, Mohammad Alayan, was among the dozens of people hospitalised following the attack, with doctors at the time saying he was “lucky to survive”.</p> <p>“He had been shot twice. One in his head and it affected his vision and one in his shoulder and she said it was just a few millimetres away from his heart,” Maysoon said.</p> <p>The couple run a Muslim childcare centre An-Nur, and have worked together to help children navigate New Zealand's darkest days.</p> <p>She recalled the sinking feeling when she first heard of the attacks while at work, and how her husband's first instinct was to tell her to protect herself and everyone at the childcare centre.</p> <p>“I got a call from my husband and he told me he was in hospital and that I have a big responsibility to protect the children and the teachers and lock down, close the doors because he was afraid the shooter would also come to our place because we are a Muslim childcare centre,” she said.</p> <p>“More families who were distressed started coming to pick up their children, and some of them even had blood on their shirts, some of them witnessed the thing.</p> <p>“It was really an awful situation.”</p> <p>Not long after, she learned that her own son had also been injured, but at the time had no idea of the reality of it all.</p> <p>Aya Al-Umari lost her brother, Hussein, on the fateful day.</p> <p>“It happened so suddenly, I had no time to grieve,” she said.</p> <p>Hussein spent the last moments of his life protecting other people, and even though Aya misses his hugs more than anything, she takes comfort in knowing that her brother's legacy will live on.</p> <p>“He had the opportunity to escape, but he didn’t,” she said.</p> <p>“He was running towards the terrorist.</p> <p>“It really goes to show, especially in his last moments, he was always a giver.”</p> <p>Both Aya and Dr Salama both take comfort in the belief that their loved ones died as as a Shahid – a true martyr who died in the name of their faith in Islam.</p> <p>Dr Salama hopes that the findings from last year’s coronial inquest, expected to be handed down this year, will provide a sense of closure to the victims' families.</p> <p>She also hopes that people will use the fifth anniversary of the shootings to reflect on the work that is yet to be done and call for more action in fighting Islamophobia and extremism.</p> <p>“We can fight Islamophobia by challenging the biases and educating ourselves also and intervening against discrimination.</p> <p>“See something, say something.”</p> <p>Canterbury's Muslim community will also gather today to honour the victims with a commemoration service at Masjid Annur in the evening, according to<em> <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/511744/muslims-mark-5th-anniversary-of-christchurch-mosque-terror-attacks" target="_blank" rel="noopener">RNZ</a></em>.</p> <p>Brenton Tarrant, who was behind the terror attacks, was sentenced to life in jail without parole – the first person in New Zealand's history to receive the sentence because his actions were deemed "so wicked".</p> <p><em>Images: 7News</em></p> <p> </p>

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Major claim in investigation into deadly house fire that killed five children

<p>The grandmother of five children who died alongside their father in a tragic house fire has spoken out, claiming her daughter had "begged" their landlord to fix the smoke alarms in the house.</p> <p>In August last year, Wayne Godinet, 34, died along with his four-year-old twins Kyza and Koa, his three-year-old son Nicky, and his stepsons Zack, 11, and Harry, 10, in a <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/6-beautiful-souls-family-break-silence-after-tragic-house-fire" target="_blank" rel="noopener">horrific blaze</a> in Queensland's Russell Island. </p> <p>Mr Godinet and his sons became trapped upstairs of the two storey home after he raced back into the house to save them, while the children's mother, Samantha Stephenson, 28, and her sister were able to escape the fire.</p> <p>On Wednesday, the owner of the rental property, 61-year-old Donna Rose Beadel, was charged by police over her alleged involvement in the tragedy.</p> <p>The family has spoken out in anger, with the grandmother of the five boys, Rebecca Stephenson, claiming that her daughter had spoken to the landlord about updating the smoke alarms in the property just one week before the fire. </p> <p>Ms Stephenson told the Courier Mail, “The week before it happened, Sam texted the landlady and asked for the smoke alarms to be updated.”</p> <p>She claims she knew of at least three times her daughter had asked for the smoke alarms to be fixed.</p> <p>“It was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the house, a smoke alarm hanging from the ceiling and then a marking of one in the kitchen that had been painted over,” she added.</p> <p>Police allege that Ms Beadel's property did not have compliant smoke alarms when the fire broke out, with police further alleging that she wasn’t present when the fire occurred.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

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Woolies boss' multi-million dollar payout revealed

<p>Chief executive Brad Banducci announced his <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/retirement-life/woolies-ceo-quits-after-disaster-interview" target="_blank" rel="noopener">early retirement </a>on Wednesday, following a series of PR disasters for the brand and just days after a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/i-think-i-m-done-the-question-that-made-woolies-ceo-leave-interview" target="_blank" rel="noopener">trainwreck interview</a> with <em>ABC Four Corners</em>.</p> <p>Now, the staggering amount he will be paid-out for walking away from the top job has been revealed. </p> <p>According to a report published by T<em>he Australian</em>, the supermarket boss will take home a share portfolio worth an estimated $24.4 million.</p> <p>This is in addition to the $6.5 million he would likely be paid-out from his salary. </p> <p>Banducci will step down from his position in September and he will be replaced by former WooliesX leader <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/new-woolies-ceo-s-huge-salary-revealed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Amanda Bardwell</a>, who will take over as Chief Executive then.</p> <p>Woolworths Group has denied the suggestion that the resignation was related to the disaster Four Corners interview where Banducci tried to walk away in the middle of being questioned about price gouging. </p> <p>A senate inquiry is also currently investigating whether major supermarkets across the country have engaged in price gouging, as the cost-of-living continues to rise. </p> <p>Banducci has been involved in a series of public controversies before his retirement, including when he came under fire after the supermarket announced it would <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/woolworths-under-fire-for-dropping-australia-day-merch" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stop selling Australia Day merchandise </a>ahead of the national holiday in January.</p> <p><em>Image: Today</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Five tips for developing and managing your budget – even in tough economic times

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p>There’s nothing quite like a new year to prompt us to take stock of our lives, our health, our goals – and our finances. Many people will start a new year by contemplating how best to budget, plan and save. This is always a good set of aims, but it’s especially important in the inflation-prone and unpredictable economies we’re seeing <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/268225/countries-with-the-highest-inflation-rate/">all over Africa and the world</a>.</p> <p>Budgeting is especially key. It is the most effective method to <a href="https://www.thebalancemoney.com/how-to-make-a-budget-1289587">monitor income and expenditure</a>. <a href="https://www.uslendingcompany.com/blog/key-differences-in-writing-a-household-budget-vs-a-personal-budget/">Personal budgets</a> can help you to monitor your resources in pursuit of larger financial goals. Budgeting also offers <a href="https://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v46/acr_vol46_2411998.pdf">more opportunities</a> to save money, reduce your debts and live a comfortable life. It can even <a href="https://prucomm.ac.uk/assets/uploads/blog/2013/04/Personal-Budgets-review-of-evidence_FINAL-REPORT.pdf">improve your mental health</a>.</p> <p>But where should you start? What questions do you need to answer in creating a budget? Here are some tips that I’ve learned – not just as an economist, but as a research cost analyst and someone who keeps a budget too.</p> <h2>1. Understand the broader economic conditions</h2> <p>It is imperative that individuals keep themselves aware and up-to-date on the realities of their country’s economic landscape. You don’t have to be a professional economist, but keep an eye on new developments like free business registration, small business development funds and printing of new money notes. What is the current exchange rate? What’s the political landscape and what international factors, like the price of crude oil, are at play? You should also watch the inflation rate and have a sense of unemployment trends.</p> <p>This economic awareness will prepare you to draft your own budget and you’ll have a sense of when external factors mean it’s time to revisit your plans.</p> <h2>2. Review your income sources</h2> <p>The ability to earn income is critical to sustaining livelihoods. Having a definite source of income is the bedrock of budgeting.</p> <p>Some important questions you should ask about your income – and how you might budget with it – include:</p> <ul> <li>What is my current income?</li> <li>What do I use my income for?</li> <li>Am I able to save, given my current income?</li> <li>What proportion of my income do I save and what proportion do I spend?</li> <li>Do I have the capacity to earn more than this?</li> <li>How can I improve my income?</li> </ul> <p>Your answers can help you to identify gaps or untapped potential. Those with irregular or unpredictable income should factor in the element of time-gap in their income, for effective budgeting. Time gap is when they are not earning income. And everyone should make allowance in their budgets for uncertainties like health issues, social engagements, inflation, unemployment, recession and price shocks.</p> <h2>3. Appraise your expenses</h2> <p>Expenses can be broadly categorised into “variable” and “fixed”.</p> <p>Fixed expenses recur within a short period: housing, food, transport, medical costs, electricity, utilities, toiletries and clothing. Variable expenses are more long-term and irregular, such as investment in property or interest-yielding assets, and the purchase of machinery.</p> <p>The main essence of revising our expenses is to analyse and possibly improve our spending habits. In reviewing our expenses, we can consider issues such as:</p> <ul> <li>What is the proportion of consumption-savings ratio from my income? This is how much do I spend compared to how much I save.</li> <li>What are my regular expenses?</li> <li>What are my fixed, capital or investment expenses?</li> <li>What are my extraordinary expenses that need modification?</li> <li>Have there been emergency or extraordinary expenses?</li> </ul> <p>A careful response to the issues raised above offers an occasion to re-evaluate the pattern and direction of our expenses. For instance, overspending, unplanned or extraordinary expenses can be identified. This can lead to an optimal, efficient reallocation of available resources.</p> <h2>4. Stabilise your finances through savings</h2> <p>Savings have been <a href="https://klinglercpa.com/bedrock-principles-for-saving-money/">described</a> as a financial stabiliser, given their potential to cater for urgent needs and create opportunities for investments.</p> <p>Of course, savings have more value when they grow faster than the rate of inflation. Inflation erodes the value of savings. For instance, an amount of 300,000 naira (US$676) saved to purchase an autorickshaw today may be impossible in two months’ time with an inflation rate of 10% when the tricycle price rises to 330,000 naira (US$744). The reverse is the case when there is deflation.</p> <p>Therefore, it is advisable to improve the value of savings through investments in interest-yielding assets such as stocks, shares, bonds, microfinance and production.</p> <p>That’s not to say it’s always easy to save. Many income earners spend as they go, not seeing savings as part of their budgets. Harsh economic realities can also make it difficult – sometimes seemingly impossible – to save. But it’s not impossible: savings can be made in small amounts, through a daily, weekly or monthly contribution to collections, cooperative schemes or microfinance affiliations. For instance, a point of sale business in Nigeria can permit a daily contribution of 500 naira (US$1.13) over 25 work days, giving an average saving of 12,500 naira (US$28.18) per month.</p> <p>The Point-of-Sale business started in Nigeria in 2013 when the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the agent banking system. A POS agent operates and processes transactions through a POS service provider. Providers of such services include banks, microfinance banks and fintech companies.</p> <h2>5. Run a flexible budget</h2> <p>Once your budget is created, remember that it’s not set in stone. It should be flexible if anything changes in your life. For instance, an amount saved to buy a car can be invested in a promising venture buying shares through public offerings or private placements in multinational organisations like Nestle or Unilever.</p> <p>Also, health emergencies or career advancement programmes can require taking some money out of our savings.</p> <p>In all, budgeting should be flexible enough to incorporate exigencies, especially when catering for the current situation will culminate into a greater good.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/195590/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/oluwabunmi-adejumo-1370664">Oluwabunmi Adejumo</a>, Lecturer/Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/obafemi-awolowo-university-2843">Obafemi Awolowo University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-tips-for-developing-and-managing-your-budget-even-in-tough-economic-times-195590">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Dad cops furious note from "egotistical Karen" for parking in parent's bay

<p>A Perth dad has been left hurt after he was targeted by an "egotistical Karen" for parking in a parent's bay, while his wife was inside a shopping centre changing their seven-month-old baby. </p> <p>"Don't park here again, you selfish prick!" the note read. </p> <p>His wife took to Facebook on behalf of her hurt husband to question why someone would go out of their way to criticise him for parking in a space designated for parents. </p> <p>"My husband was putting a baby gate in the boot while I was in the forum changing our seven-month-old baby," she defended her partner, who parked at the Mandurah Forum. </p> <p>"He came back into the forum looking for me [and] when we returned, someone had put this note on our windscreen.</p> <p>"How about next time you be sure before insulting an innocent husband and father, you hero."</p> <p>The woman said that the note left her husband "hurt and almost feeling guilty" and she argued that he had every right to be there as a parent. </p> <p>Her post attracted over 300 interactions with many agreeing with the mum, and saying that the "Karen" should've gotten their facts straight before taking action. </p> <p>"There is no law for who can park in parents with prams spaces they are just convenience but anyone can park there and use,"  one man wrote. </p> <p>A few others shared the same sentiment and said that "it's not illegal to park in those bays" regardless of whether or not you have a baby. </p> <p>Some parents even shared their own experiences and why it is important to not judge someone based on looks alone. </p> <p>"This has happened to me also. I had a baby and a toddler and my husband took them inside the Mandurah forum while I unloaded our car," the person began. </p> <p>"A couple with a baby parked next to me and the man kept yelling at me that it was only for parents with prams, even though I told him I had young kids and a pram. But he didn't believe me and yelled loudly to move my car."</p> <p>One mum added that she doesn't see the need for parents with prams spaces altogether.</p> <p>"As a mum of just a five-year-old, I personally don’t see the need for parent spaces. They are not any bigger, just more convenient. Kids need exercise and prams have wheels, not hard to walk," she wrote. </p> <p>"I personally think they should be seniors bays instead, they are less mobile and struggle to walk long distances. Give them the spots."</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

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Happy birthday AUD: how our Australian dollar was floated, 40 years ago this week

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/selwyn-cornish-1297285">Selwyn Cornish</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-hawkins-746285">John Hawkins</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865"><em>University of Canberra</em></a></em></p> <p>These days, we take for granted that the value of the Australian dollar fluctuates against other currencies, changing thousands of times a day and at times jumping or falling quite a lot in the space of a week.</p> <p>But for most of Australia’s history, the value of the Australian dollar – and the earlier Australian pound – was “<a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/exchange-rates-and-their-measurement.html#:%7E:text=exchange%20rate%20volatility.-,Pegged,or%20a%20basket%20of%20currencies.">pegged</a>” to either gold, pound sterling, the US dollar or to a value of a basket of currencies.</p> <p>The momentous decision to <a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/the-long-road-that-led-to-the-floating-of-the-australian-dollar-20141121-11ra30">float</a> the dollar was taken on Friday December 9 1983 by the Hawke Labor Government, which was elected nine months earlier.</p> <p>As they approached the cabinet room at what is now Old Parliament House, Treasurer Paul Keating asked Reserve Bank Governor Bob Johnston to write him a letter to say the bank recommended floating.</p> <p>The letter, dated December 9, referred to the bank’s concern about the "volume of foreign exchange purchases and its belief that if these flows are to be brought under control we shall need to face up without delay either to less Reserve Bank participation in the exchange market or capital controls."</p> <p>By “less Reserve Bank participation”, Johnston meant a managed float; direct controls were to be considered “as a last resort”.</p> <p>The bank had long maintained a “<a href="https://www.afr.com/policy/economy/the-long-road-that-led-to-the-floating-of-the-australian-dollar-20141121-11ra30">war book</a>”, bearing the intriguing label “Secret Matter”, outlining the procedures to be followed in the event of a decision to float.</p> <p>An updated version was handed to the treasurer the day before the decision.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/articles/floating-exchange-rates-after-ten-years/">US</a> and the <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/23/newsid_2518000/2518927.stm">UK</a> floated their currencies in the early 1970s. Since the early 1980s the value of the dollar had been set via a “<a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2018/dec/understanding-exchange-rates-and-why-they-are-important.html">crawling peg</a>” – meaning its value was pegged to other currencies each week, and later each day, by a committee of officials who announced the values at <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/inside-the-floating-of-the-a-20131211-2z698.html">9.30 each morning</a>.</p> <p>If too much or too little money came into the country as a result of the rate the authorities had set, they adjusted it the next day, sometimes losing money to speculators who had bet they wouldn’t be able to hold the rate they had set.</p> <p>Keating had Johnston accompany him to the December 9 press conference instead of Treasury Secretary John Stone, who had argued against the float in the cabinet room, putting the case for direct controls on capital inflows instead.</p> <p>Johnston’s presence was meant to make clear that at least the central bank supported floating the dollar.</p> <h2>Speculators now speculate against themselves</h2> <p>Keating told the press conference the float meant the speculators would be “<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/from-the-archives-1983-the-australian-dollar-floats-free-20191206-p53hjq.html">speculating against themselves</a>”, rather than against the authorities.</p> <p>One banker quoted that night confessed to being “<a href="https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/from-the-archives-1983-the-australian-dollar-floats-free-20191206-p53hjq.html">absolutely staggered</a>”. “I’m not sure they know what they have done,” the banker said.</p> <p>The following Monday on ABC’s AM program, presenter <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-12-08/20-years-since-dollar-floated/102568">Red Harrison</a> heralded “a brave new world for the Australian dollar”. He said, "from today the dollar must take its chance, subject to the supply and demand of the international marketplace, and there are suggestions that foreign exchange dealers expect a nervous start to trading when the first quotes are posted this morning."</p> <p>At the time, the Australian dollar was worth 90 US cents. At first it <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/speeches/2013/sp-gov-211113.html">rose</a>, before settling back.</p> <p>Since then, the Australian dollar has fluctuated from a low of <a href="https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/australian-dollar-floated">47.75</a> US cents in April 2001 to a high of US$1.10 in July 2011.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="6ExL8" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/6ExL8/3/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>The long road to the float</h2> <p>The idea first took hold in Australia when Commonwealth Bank Governor <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/publications/bulletin/2022/dec/hc-coombs-governor-of-australias-central-bank-1949-1968.html">“Nugget” Coombs</a> visited Canada in 1953, at a time when it was one of the few countries with a floating exchange rate.</p> <p>On his return, Coombs wrote the bank should consider Canada’s experience.</p> <p>A strong advocate from the mid-1960s was the bank’s economist <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1475-4932.1986.tb00915.x">Austin Holmes</a>. Among those he mentored at what by then was called the Reserve Bank were Bob Johnston, Don Sanders and John Phillips.</p> <p>All three were in the cabinet room when the decision was taken.</p> <h2>Backed by Cairns, opposed by Abbott</h2> <p>An unlikely advocate in the 1970s was the left-wing Labor treasurer <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-03/05Hawkins.pdf">Jim Cairns</a>.</p> <p>But asked in 1979 whether he was in favour of a float, the then Reserve Bank governor <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/about-rba/history/governors/sir-harold-murray-knight.html">Harry Knight</a> responded by quoting Saint Augustine, saying “God make me pure, but not yet”. An oil shock was making markets turbulent at the time.</p> <p>In 1981, the Campbell inquiry into the Australian financial system delivered a landmark report to Treasurer John Howard, <a href="https://treasury.gov.au/publication/p1981-afs">recommending</a> a float. The idea was backed by neither the Treasury nor Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser.</p> <p>Two years later, Howard watched from opposition as Labor did what he could not.</p> <p>The Liberal Party generally backed Labor’s move, with one notable exception – the later prime minister, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/tony-abbott-wrote-20-years-ago-floating-dollar-didnt-make-sense-20131206-2ywpm.html">Tony Abbott</a>, who in 1994 wrote that "changing the price of the dollar moment by moment in response to each transaction makes no more sense than altering the price of cornflakes every time a buyer takes a packet off the supermarket shelves."</p> <h2>A success by any measure</h2> <p>The floating exchange rate has served Australia well.</p> <p>When the Australian economy has slowed or contracted – in the early 1990s, the Asian financial crisis, the global financial crisis and in the COVID recession – the Australian dollar has fallen, making Australian exports cheaper in foreign markets.</p> <p>When mining booms have sucked money into the country, the Australian dollar has climbed, spreading the benefit and fighting inflation by increasing the buying power of Australian dollars.</p> <p>It’s why these days, hardly anyone wants to return to a <a href="https://www.rba.gov.au/education/resources/explainers/exchange-rates-and-their-measurement.html">pegged</a> rate.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/217548/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/selwyn-cornish-1297285">Selwyn Cornish</a>, Honorary Associate Professor, Research School of Economics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/john-hawkins-746285">John Hawkins</a>, Senior Lecturer, Canberra School of Politics, Economics and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image </em><em>credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/happy-birthday-aud-how-our-australian-dollar-was-floated-40-years-ago-this-week-217548">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Thief returns stolen truck with note of apology – and gifts!

<p>In the bustling world of Auckland cafés, where flat whites and smashed avocados reign supreme, one café owner recently found himself entangled in a plot that could rival a sitcom script.</p> <p>Varun Chada, the proud owner of Kati Street, had his beloved 4WD truck snatched right out from under his nose, leaving him in a state of disbelief that could only be rivalled by a magician's audience.</p> <p>Picture this: a sunny afternoon, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air, and Chada minding his own business when, suddenly, his trusty truck disappeared faster than a piece of cake at a weight loss support group meeting. The audacity! The cheek! Someone had the gall to pull off a vehicular heist right outside his beloved eatery.</p> <p>But it gets better.</p> <p>Four days later, as if the universe had decided to play a cosmic prank on poor Varun, the stolen truck made a triumphant return. Parked in the exact same spot, as if it had never embarked on a wild joyride. It was like the vehicular version of Houdini's vanishing act, only with less smoke and mirrors and more caffeinated confusion.</p> <p>To add a sprinkle of absurdity to the mix, the returned truck came with a heartfelt, handwritten letter of apology. Now, we applaud any criminal with the decency to apologise, but it seems this particular ne'er-do-well could use a grammar lesson or two. The apology note featured the word "sorry", albeit with a creative twist on spelling that would make any English teacher cringe.</p> <p>“I couldn’t believe it,” Chada <a href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/watch-cafe-owners-stolen-truck-returned-with-sorry-note/VTWKKMRGR5AOTNIQGJNKBP6H7E/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">told The NZ Herald</a>. "The first time I thought I was losing my mind because I’d just walked inside, and the second time I rocked up, and it was parked there."</p> <p>As it turns out, the thief, in an attempt to excuse their vehicular misdeed, claimed to be a bit 'drunk' and in desperate need of a ride home. Because, you know, grand theft auto is a completely acceptable solution to a night out with one too many beers.</p> <p>"It was exactly where I’d parked it," Chada explained, "and I walked up to the window and there was a note inside it saying ‘hey mate sorry but I borrowed your car, was a bit drunk’ and none of us could believe it." </p> <p>But here's the twist that turns this tale into a comedy goldmine – the thief not only returned the truck unscathed but also left some new toys in the back for Chada's young son! It's like they momentarily transformed from a rogue car bandit to the world's most peculiar Santa Claus.</p> <p>Despite the surreal nature of the ordeal, Chada seems to be taking it all in stride. “I’m not condoning what they did is fine, but I mean, they gave it back and they said sorry, so, I don’t know, I’m just stoked to get it back, put it that way.”</p> <p>The saga has become the talk of the town, with Chada's Facebook and community pages buzzing with activity. Social media, the modern-day town square, has played a pivotal role in the unfolding drama, with hundreds of likes, shares and comments turning the café owner into an unintentional social media influencer.</p> <p>As for the truck, it's currently parked at Chada's house, awaiting the forensic scrutiny of the police. The investigation continues, but in the meantime, Aucklanders are left scratching their heads, wondering if their next caffeine fix might come with a side of unexpected vehicular shenanigans.</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook</em></p>

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Downsizing cost trap awaits retirees – five reasons to be wary

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-altmann-361218">Erika Altmann</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p>It’s time to debunk the myth of zero housing costs in retirement if we want to understand why retirees resist downsizing. Retirees have at least five reasons to be wary of the costs of downsizing.</p> <p>Retirees living in middle-ring suburbs face frequent calls to downsize into apartments to free up larger allotments in these suburbs for redevelopment. Retirees who fail to downsize into smaller units and apartments are viewed as being a greedy, baby-boomer elite, stealing financial security from younger generations.</p> <p>It also makes sense to policymakers for retirees to move into less spacious accommodation and make way for high-density housing. Housing think-tank AHURI <a href="http://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0021/14079/AHURI_Final_Report_No_286_Australian-demographic-trends-and-implications-for-housing-assistance-programs.pdf">fosters this view</a>. Yet seniors remain resistant to moving, in part because of the ongoing costs they would face.</p> <p>The concept of zero housing costs in retirement is based on a 1940s view of a well-maintained, single dwelling on a single allotment of land where the mortgage has been paid off. This concept is incompatible with medium- and high-density housing and refusing to acknowledge ongoing housing costs may cause significant poverty for retirees.</p> <h2>Reason 1 – upfront moving costs are high</h2> <p>When a house is sold the owner receives the sale funds minus the real estate and legal fees. When the same person then buys a different property to live in, they pay legal fees plus stamp duty.</p> <p>For cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, these costs are likely to exceed A$70,000.</p> <p>These high transfer costs may mean it is not cost-effective <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-older-australians-dont-downsize-and-the-limits-to-what-the-government-can-do-about-it-76931">for the person to move</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 2 – levies are high</h2> <p>Because apartment owners pay body corporate levies, people often assume this is just the same as periodic payment of rates, water, insurance and other costs. It is not.</p> <p>Fees remissions for low-income retirees for rates, power, insurance and water are difficult to apply within a body corporate environment. As a consequence, these are usually not applied to owners of apartments.</p> <p>The costs of maintaining essential services, such as mandatory fire-alarm testing, yearly engineering certification, lift and air-conditioning inspections, significantly increase ownership costs.</p> <p>When additional services are supplied, such as swimming pools, gyms and rooftop gardens, these also require periodic inspections. Garbage collection, cleaning, gardening, concierge and strata management services also <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23322">must be paid</a>.</p> <p>Owners of standard suburban homes choose whether they want these services, with those on fixed incomes going without them.</p> <p>Annual levies for apartment buildings vary, but expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000. They <a href="https://www.strata.community/understandingstrata/faqs">may be more than this</a>.</p> <h2>Reason 3 – costs of maintenance</h2> <figure class="align-right "><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Apartments are often sold as a maintenance-free solution for older people. The maintenance is not free. It needs to be paid for.</p> <p>Maintenance costs are higher in an apartment than a standard suburban home because there are more items and services to be maintained and fixed. Lifts and air conditioning need periodic servicing and fixing. This is in addition to the mandatory inspections listed above.</p> <h2>Reason 4 – loss of financial security</h2> <p>It is a mistaken belief that the maintenance costs that form part of the body corporate fee include periodic property upgrades. This relates to items that are owned collectively with other apartment owners.</p> <p>Major servicing at the ten-year mark and usually each five-to-seven years after that include painting, floor-covering replacement, and lift and air-conditioning repair or replacement.</p> <p>Major upgrades may also include garden redesign or other external building enhancement including <a href="https://eprints.utas.edu.au/cgi/users/home?screen=EPrint%3A%3AView&amp;eprintid=23315">environmental upgrades</a>. All owners share these upgrade costs.</p> <p>Costs of upgrading the inside of an apartment (a bathroom disability upgrade, for example) are additional again.</p> <p>Once the body corporate committee members pledge funds towards an upgrade, all owners are required to raise their share of the funds, whether they can afford it or not. Communal choice outweighs an individual owner’s need to delay upgrade costs.</p> <p>Owners who buy apartments that are part of a body corporate effectively lose control of their future financial decisions.</p> <h2>Reason 5 – loss of security of tenure</h2> <p>Loss of security of tenure is usually associated with renters. However, the recent introduction of <a href="http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/25965/Termination_of_a_strata_scheme_by_RG.pdf">termination legislation</a> in New South Wales gives other owners the right to vote to terminate a strata title scheme. When this occurs, all owners, including reluctant owners of apartments within that scheme, are compelled to sell.</p> <p>There are valid reasons why termination legislation is desirable, as many older apartment complexes are reaching the end of their useful life.</p> <p>Even so, as termination legislation is rolled out across the states, owner- occupiers effectively lose control of how long they will own a property for. They no longer have security of tenure, which means retirees may face an uncertain housing future in their old age.</p> <h2>Downsizing raises poverty risks</h2> <p>Because current data sets do not adequately take account of ongoing costs associated with apartment living, the effect of downsizing on individual households is masked.</p> <p>Downsizing retirees into the apartment sector creates ongoing financial stress for older people. Creating <a href="https://theconversation.com/it-will-take-more-than-piecemeal-reforms-to-convince-older-australians-to-downsize-51043">tax incentives to move</a> does not tackle these ongoing costs.</p> <p>Centrelink payments for of <a href="https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/age-pension">$404 per week</a> are well below <a href="http://acoss.wpengine.com/poverty-2/">the poverty line</a>. Yet we expect retirees to willingly downsize and to be able to cede most of their Centrelink payments to cover high body corporate costs.</p> <p>Requiring retirees to downsize for the greater urban good will shift poverty onto retirees who could barely manage in their previously owned standard suburban home.</p> <p>Failing to understand the effect of high ongoing costs associated with apartment living and reinforcing the myth of zero housing costs in retirement will continue to lead to poor policy outcomes.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/80895/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-altmann-361218"><em>Erika Altmann</em></a><em>, Property and Housing Management Researcher, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-tasmania-888">University of Tasmania</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/downsizing-cost-trap-awaits-retirees-five-reasons-to-be-wary-80895">original article</a>.</em></p>

Retirement Income

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“There were bodies everywhere”: Five people dead in horror pub crash

<p dir="ltr">Disturbing details have emerged from a horror crash where five people have died after a BMW crashed into a beer garden at a pub in regional Victoria. </p> <p dir="ltr">On Sunday evening in Daylesford, north of Melbourne, families were enjoying the last of the weekend at the Royal Hotel when a BMW X5 crashed into the busy venue. </p> <p dir="ltr">The pub was filled with hundreds of patrons in the hours before the crash due to the unofficial long weekend before Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup public holiday in Victoria. </p> <p dir="ltr">Superintendent John Fitzpatrick confirmed on Sunday night about 11pm four people had died at the scene: two men and a woman and a six-year-old boy, while a fifth person, a teenage girl, later died in hospital. </p> <p dir="ltr">Four others were injured, while a boy is fighting for his life in hospital. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I haven’t seen anything this drastic for a long time,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Any time you have five people die at a particular scene, it’s horrible.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“There are families that have got loved ones that are no longer going to be around.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“We don’t like to see anyone lose their life but to see a child – you don’t ever want to see anything like that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The driver of the BMW, a 66-year-old man, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The exact circumstances surrounding the collision are yet to be determined and investigations remain ongoing," Superintendent Fitzpatrick said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are waiting to speak to him… It’s a very complex scene.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A woman who was working at the business next door to the pub witnessed the horrific moment, recalling how she and her staff saw bodies lying on the pavement. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We’re all pretty shocked,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s pretty bad, I’ve never seen anything so traumatic in my life.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“There were bodies everywhere, it was horrifying,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I watched the whole crash. The car went up into the sky. I thought it was just dust. It’s only now I know it was bodies.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Infrastructure Minister Catherine King, whose electorate Ballarat includes Daylesford, said the community was “devastated” by the incident. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Five people have lost their lives, and their families’ lives have changed forever. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It will really have shocked a lot of people, and I think we’re really only just coming to terms with what happened today.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“These sort of terrible accidents, the sort of level of trauma goes on for a long period of time, and people will need a lot of support and care, and the police obviously will need to undertake a significant investigation into what’s happened.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

News

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Mariah Carey slapped with multi-million dollar lawsuit over hit festive song

<p dir="ltr">Mariah Carey is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit over her hit festive song, as another musician has come forward claiming she plagiarised an original work.</p> <p dir="ltr">Carey’s song <em>All I Want For Christmas Is You</em> has long been a staple of December, and has sold over 10 million copies since its 1994 release. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, Andy Stone, lead vocalist of Vince Vance and the Valiants, claims Carey infringed on his copyright. </p> <p dir="ltr">Stone co-wrote a song, which has the same title as Carey’s smash hit, in 1989 to which he claims Carey and her team of copying his song’s “compositional structure,” according to the complaint obtained by <a href="https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/mariah-carey-facing-20-million-lawsuit-over-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Fox News Digital</a>.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w8HWHd0EYJA?si=IdW0GIKXEQBJqaO_" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">The court documents state that Carey “directly” copied lyrics from Stone’s 1989 hit and “approximately 50 per cent” of the song is copyright infringement.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stone went on to claim that Carey and her team “undoubtedly” had access to his version of <em>All I Want For Christmas is You</em> due to its “wide commercial and cultural success.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Stone’s track charted on Billboard for years, with the band even performing the track at the White House in 1994 - the same year Carey’s festive song was released. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Carey has capitalised on the success of her infringing work,” Stone’s complaint alleged. </p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yXQViqx6GMY?si=Exrq9M0AA2u5XRpB" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">“<em>All I Want For Christmas is You</em> has become a ubiquitous part of popular culture, and Carey’s name has become synonymous with the season.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Stone first sued Carey over the copyright issue in June 2022 in a Louisiana court before dropping the claim five months later. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Five ways to take advantage of rising interest rates to boost your savings

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p>With the Bank of England base rate <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-the-bank-of-englands-interest-rate-hikes-are-filtering-through-to-your-finances-210344">currently the highest</a> it has been since early 2008, you may have a valuable opportunity to increase your earnings on pensions, investments and savings accounts. After all, when the central bank raises its main rate – the base rate, which is typically used as a benchmark for loans as well as savings accounts – it is trying to encourage people to spend less and save more.</p> <p>But UK banks and building societies have <a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/money/martin-lewis-savings-rates-mortgage-crisis-b2362955.html">recently been accused</a> of letting their savings rates lag the recent rapid rise in the base rate. UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority has urged these financial firms to offer “<a href="https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/action-plan-cash-savings">fair and competitive</a>” savings rates in response to the increasing interest rates.</p> <p>Many financial institutions do offer accounts with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2023/jul/15/uk-savings-accounts-interest-nsi-building-societies-banks-deals">rates of 6% or more</a>. This is good news for avid savers – but only if you keep an eye on the market so you can switch from less competitive products. This is why it’s important to establish a regular savings habit, but many people are unsure about what that should involve.</p> <p>My colleagues and I have studied the <a href="https://dspace.stir.ac.uk/handle/1893/32240">correlation between people’s savings goals</a> (if they have any) and how they invest their money. We also looked at how seeking financial information advice, and being “good with numbers”, both influence this correlation.</p> <p>We analysed data from more than 40,000 individuals in 21,000 UK households from five waves of the Office for National Statistics Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS), conducted between 2006 and 2016. This data captures comprehensive economic wellbeing information and attitudes to financial planning.</p> <p>Our research shows the importance to your finances of setting multiple savings goals, keeping up with financial news, and seeking professional advice. Based on this, here are five research-based ways to make the most of your money.</p> <h2>1. Set specific savings goals</h2> <p>Establishing personal savings goals is one of the first steps most financial institutions and advisers will recommend to their customers, because it’s a good idea to <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compoundinterest.asp">save regularly</a>. Plus, our study shows that total financial assets increase in line with the number of savings goals you have, and that setting specific, rather than vague, goals leads to higher performance.</p> <p>Specific savings goals should have an end date, target figure, and even a meaningful name – for example, “£1,000 for 2024 trip to Asia” or “£250 for 2023 Christmas present fund”. This will create tangible reference points that encourage self-control and increase the pain you feel if you fail to meet your goal.</p> <h2>2. Seek professional financial advice</h2> <p>Rather than relying on friends, family and social media for financial advice, speak to an expert.</p> <p>Our research shows households that access professional financial advice were more likely to allocate a higher share of their wealth to stock portfolios than those that rely on friends, family and social media for financial advice. This result was consistent even across different wealth and income levels, with lower earners possibly using products like ISAs to make investments in stocks and shares. Other <a href="https://academic.oup.com/qje/article/134/3/1225/5435538">research shows</a> stock portfolios outperform most other types of investment in the long term.</p> <p>We also found that access to professional financial advice can substitute for setting goals, because your adviser should help you to determine the kinds of products to invest in (which is called asset allocation) for specific timelines and aims.</p> <h2>3. Brush up on your maths</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5890.2007.00052.x">Several studies</a> show numerical skills affect how households gather and process information, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0013114">set goals</a>, perceive risks, and <a href="https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/fedred89&amp;i=791">decide to invest</a> in various financial assets. So, by brushing up on your basic numeracy and financial literacy skills – even with free online videos – you could boost your savings for the long term.</p> <p>Our study shows that individuals with high confidence in their numerical skills tend to have better financial planning habits – such as investing more in stocks and bonds than cash, which carries more risk but also the potential for greater returns. This trend is particularly evident among households with no savings goals, suggesting that numerical ability could compensate for failing to set such goals.</p> <h2>4. Adopt appropriate savings strategies</h2> <p>Diversified stock market portfolios generally outperform bonds and cash savings <a href="https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz012">over longer periods</a>. However, stock markets can be volatile, so putting savings into less risky assets like bonds and cash is wise for savings goals of less than five years.</p> <p>In the longer term, investing across different global stock markets for more than five years can help counteract inflation. And you can access low-cost, diversified investment portfolios via financial products based on indices of stocks or other assets, such as exchange traded funds.</p> <h2>5. Set, monitor and adjust your plan</h2> <p>Free financial planning and budgeting apps can help you save money by tracking your spending and savings goals, and encouraging you to adhere to a budget.</p> <p>Most importantly, once you set savings goals and create a budget, don’t forget about them. Check regularly to see how your savings are building up and to monitor for any spending changes. A growing array of fintech tools can prompt and encourage this kind of long-term planning.</p> <p>Keeping an eye on savings rates is also important. As banks change rates or create new accounts, consider switching to get a better deal if you can do so without falling foul of account closure fees.</p> <p>It’s important to make sure your savings are working for you at any time, but its crucial in the current economy, when finances are tight but interest rates are rising.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208853/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/fredrick-kibon-changwony-234363">Fredrick Kibon Changwony</a>, Lecturer in Accounting &amp; Finance, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-stirling-1697">University of Stirling</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-ways-to-take-advantage-of-rising-interest-rates-to-boost-your-savings-208853">original article</a>.</em></p>

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"She had the biggest heart": Mum's tribute to five-year-old killed in a car crash

<p>A heartbroken mother has paid tribute to her five-year-old daughter, who was killed in a horrific three car collision in Victoria's north.</p> <p>Savannah Kemp's mother Bryana remembered her daughter as a “precious” and “sassy” little girl who “had the biggest heart”.</p> <p>Savannah leaves behind three brothers - Layton, Cayden and Ryley, as well as her devastated mother.</p> <p>Bryana said in a statement that Savannah was due to start kindergarten at Guthrie Street Primary School with her three older brothers in 2024.</p> <p>"She has been wearing her school uniform around the house for weeks because she was so excited to go to school," she said. "She went to her first orientation a week or so back and even had to wear it."</p> <p>“Savannah was the most precious, sassy little girl. She had the biggest heart which was always full of laughter. She never walked anywhere, she danced or skipped. She was so brave and fearless, learnt it from her brothers. Nothing bothered her."</p> <p>Bryana went on to say that her daughter was destined to be a “fearless ballerina or soccer player” and that her three brothers were training her in their backyard so that she could become just that.</p> <p>“I would always make jokes that she would dance the ball into the goals and that’s exactly what she did with them,” she said.</p> <p>“For a term she has been doing acrobatics at Ucandance and she was learning cartwheels and the splits. She got very good at it in a few short weeks.”</p> <p>Savannah was “destined for great things”, Bryana said.</p> <p>“My sweet little baby, if (you) had the chance (you) would have ruled this world.”</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-the-name-of-savannah" target="_blank" rel="noopener">GoFundMe</a> page has been set up for the family to cover Savannah's funeral costs and any other financial difficulties the family may face, and has already raised over $36,000.</p> <p>Several other people were seriously injured in the crash, including a 32-year-old pregnant woman, whose unborn baby later died.</p> <p>The driver of the car Savannah was a passenger in, a 26-year-old Shepparton woman, was also taken to hospital with serious injuries.</p> <p>Another driver, a 33-year-old Shepparton man, and his passenger, a 22-year-old Katandra West man, were taken to hospital for minor injuries.</p> <p>A Victoria Police spokesperson said that officers are still working to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the collision.</p> <p><em>Image credits: GoFundMe</em></p>

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Five things to do before you die – because planning your eventual demise takes preparation

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hui-yun-chan-715995">Hui Yun Chan</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-huddersfield-1226">University of Huddersfield</a></em></p> <p>Many people who are struck with sudden, progressive or terminal illness are <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-are-patients-in-permanent-comas-routinely-kept-alive-43365">kept alive mechanically</a>, while families and doctors make decisions about treatment. As a researcher in medical law, particularly end-of-life decision-making, I have seen how this can become a minefield of legal and ethical problems.</p> <p>UK law allows people to plan in advance of any debilitating illness, and thus have some control over future treatment. This is known as “<a href="https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/advance-decision-to-refuse-treatment/">advance decisions</a>”. While these laws are in place, research shows the <a href="https://rm.coe.int/cdcj-2017-2e-final-rapport-vs-21-06-2018/16808b64ae">majority of people disregard or defer the discussions</a> primarily because they do not know how to raise them, or what to expect.</p> <p>While planning for your eventual demise probably sounds as fun as pulling teeth, it can be empowering. Following from <a href="https://pure.hud.ac.uk/en/publications/advance-directives-rethinking-regulation-autonomy-amp-healthcare-">my recent book</a>, here are five tips for how you can use the law to help you plan for what you want in the future – and make your voice heard when you may no longer have one.</p> <h2>1. Gather information from experts</h2> <p>First, you must think, gather information and talk to experts about how life can unfold in the case of progressive illness. This is important whether you are well but thinking about future incapacity, or whether you have actually been <a href="https://www.4pb.com/case-detail/re-ak-medical-treatment-consent/">diagnosed with illness</a>.</p> <p>A solicitor with expertise in advance directives can help you understand important laws, such as those that dictate when a person has <a href="https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/9/contents">sufficient “mental capacity”</a> to make lawful decisions. Lawyers can help you draft your will, and advise on how to protect or pass on your estate – including <a href="https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax">hidden costs</a>. They can also help you <a href="https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney">nominate someone</a> to make medical decisions for you when you become incapacitated, and decide the limits of their power. Do not just assume that your family members automatically have the power to decide for you legally.</p> <p>If you are ill, ask a doctor to inform you how your condition will progress so you can decide how you will deal with future events. For example, with dementia and other progressive illnesses, you must consider what quality of life you would tolerate. Similarly, in the case of pain, what treatment you would accept or refuse?</p> <p>Think big picture about your future life. Would you trade quantity of life for quality, opting for less time but with better quality of life?</p> <h2>2. Setting your decisions in stone</h2> <p>Now you have made some important decisions, the next step is about making these decisions clear in the right way, to the right people, and at the right time.</p> <p>I have <a href="https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030009755#aboutBook">documented many cases</a> across England and Wales where advance directives are disputed because they are invalid or inapplicable and there is a dispute about whether they are still legally able to make decisions. Considering your health, you may want to get a <a href="https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/ethics/mental-capacity/assessing-mental-capacity">formal assessment</a> of your mental state and ability to make decisions. You should record any conversations you have in writing. Documents that show you have been supported (by friends, family or professionals) in your decision-making boost the validity of your choices, <a href="https://brill.com/view/journals/ejhl/25/1/article-p24_24.xml?lang=en">making them more binding</a> for healthcare professionals.</p> <p>Legally, just revealing your treatment preferences to your doctor or friends <a href="https://swarb.co.uk/w-healthcare-nhs-trust-v-kh-ca-17-sep-2004/">is not enough</a>. Writing things down is important, though never easy. Ask family or friends to support you in this process. If a loved one is aware of the choices you have made they are less likely to object to your medical decisions because they have been part of the decision process.</p> <h2>3. Update when your situation changes</h2> <p>Many people are caught out when their <a href="https://compassionindying.org.uk/making-decisions-and-planning-your-care/planning-ahead/advance-decision-living-will/review-update/">personal situation changes</a>, but they have failed to update their advance directives to reflect this – such as changing romantic relationships. Family conflict by your bedside is the last thing you want. Even if your circumstances are the same, regularly update to avoid “what was I thinking?” moments when it’s too late.</p> <h2>4. Make sure it gets found</h2> <p>Inform your family, doctors and lawyers what your advance directives are <em>and</em> where to find them. If the right people don’t have access to your directives, they are useless. In a recent example, the family of a Warwickshire woman was granted a £45,000 payout after she was <a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-42240148">kept alive for 22 months against her will</a> – as the relevant documents had been misplaced.</p> <h2>5. Don’t forget your online life</h2> <p>Discussions on social media about how you wish to spend your twilight days may help as <a href="https://brill.com/view/journals/ejhl/25/1/article-p24_24.xml?lang=en">supporting information</a> to ensure the wishes in your advance directives are strengthened. You should also think about who you want to be granted (or denied) access to your online accounts and social media after your death. Streamlining this process, you can now <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/google-death-a-tool-to-take-care-of-your-gmail-when-youre-gone/274934/">create a social media will</a> online.</p> <p>Drafting an advance directive is an exercise in liberty. It allows our beliefs and preferences to be made clear even when we are physically or mentally unable to express them ourselves. An advance directive is our voice when we no longer have one. Use your voice wisely.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/122296/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hui-yun-chan-715995">Hui Yun Chan</a>, Senior Lecturer in Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-huddersfield-1226">University of Huddersfield</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/five-things-to-do-before-you-die-because-planning-your-eventual-demise-takes-preparation-122296">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Why you should throw out five things every Monday

<p><strong>Throw out five things </strong></p> <p>Organising your entire house in one fell swoop might be overwhelming, but vowing to toss or put away just five objects will seem much more doable. Once you look for expired foods, old receipts, junk mail, dirty socks, and other useless items, it won’t take long to gather all five and be well on your way to a de-cluttered home.</p> <p><strong>Do a once-over</strong></p> <p>The biggest thing you could do every week is to quickly take an assessment on the inside and outside of your house and determine what you need to add to your schedule. Do you notice any scuffed paint? Unruly hedges? Once you know what projects you’ll need to tackle, plan out which ones you’ll realistically have time for this week. Deciding ahead of time will make you less overwhelmed when chore time rolls around.</p> <p><strong>Clean your exhaust hood vent </strong></p> <p>Most homeowners are already good about wiping down their stovetop on at least a weekly basis, but don’t stop there. Remove the overhead vent and give it a rinse to remove the grease and food residue build-up. Not only can it prevent fire, your food might taste better, too.</p> <p><strong>Clear out your "drop zone"</strong></p> <p>Most homes have one or more areas where clutter builds up, whether it’s mail collecting on the kitchen table or a pile of clothes heaped on a bedroom chair. While it’s better to contain the clutter than to let it spill all over the house, that build-up can get overwhelming.</p> <p>To keep clutter to a minimum, take a moment each week to ‘sweep’ surfaces in at least one room. Take a trip around the room and remove easy-to-grab clutter from tabletops and shelves. Once the objects are out of the way, wipe down to keep those areas clean and tidy.</p> <p><strong>Vacuum</strong></p> <p>Of course, you know you need to vacuum when you start seeing pet dander and dirt building up, but that’s not the only reason you should clean your floors. Not only are you moving dust and dirt from the floors, but you’re protecting your filters. If you aren’t changing your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning filters or vacuuming the floors frequently enough, pet hair and other particles can build up and take a toll on the system.</p> <p><strong>Water your plants</strong></p> <p>A dried-up houseplant is a sorry sight. By committing one day a week to checking your plants, even homeowners without a green thumb can keep houseplants healthy. See if your plants are thirsty, and pick up any fallen leaves from the soil.</p> <p><strong>Mow the lawn</strong></p> <p>You’re able to put it off in the winter, but pulling out the lawnmower every week in the warmer months will keep your yard from getting unruly. Plus, it’s better for your equipment. The long grass could get caught in the blades, making the task more difficult than it would have been if you kept up with maintenance.</p> <p><strong>Change your bath towels </strong></p> <p>Even if you don’t have time to scrub your bathtub, sink, toilet, and floor every week, make sure you at least tackle the dirty towels. Replace any dirty towels with new ones, and make sure the clean ones are folded or hung nicely in place.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/why-you-should-throw-out-five-things-every-monday" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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