You can help the endangered masked owl

Source: The Courier

MEET Max, the two-year-old male masked owl.

Max lives at Lal Lal with his owner Michael Church, who doubles as thedirector of mobile zoo,The Rookeepers.

But Max, who is slightly larger than a barn owl, is also an endangered species.

According to Mr Church, masked owls prefer to nest in 100-year-old tree hollows, which are often cut down for firewood or lost in burnoffs or bushfires, forcing the owls into towns where they get hit by cars or killed by baits, poisons, cats or lack of food.

“Masked owls are also endangered as the environment in which they are found is uncommon,” Mr Church said.

“They require woodland forest with cleared areas, abundant mammals throughout on the ground and in tree hollows to feed on, and 100-year-old hollows.”

Mr Church was highlighting the masked owl’s plight as part of National Biodiversity Month, held annually in September.

“Australia is home to between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world,” he said.

“We are one of 17 countries classified as mega diverse and about 84 per cent of our plants, 83 per cent of our mammals and 45 per cent of our birds are endemic, or found only in Australia.

“Biodiversity is the basis for much of our recreation and tourism and includes the ecosystems which provide us with many services such as clean water.

“It is important to protect these services to allow future generations to enjoy our beautiful fauna and flora, and awareness is the key to conservation.”

Mr Church said people could help the masked owl by recycling and reusing timber products, not just plastics, and making sure timber was sourced from a plantation, rather than a forest.

In safe hands: The Rookeepers director Michael Church with Max the masked owl. Pic: KATE HEALY

“Just a simple thing like the loss of a tree hollow can mean the loss of a whole species,” he said.

Posted in 杭州龙凤 | Comments Off on You can help the endangered masked owl

R U OK? More than just a question

Source: North West Star

SPINIFEX State College student Justice King returned from a recent leadership program with a unique idea to tackle suicide awareness in Mount Isa.

The Year 10 student is campaigning ahead of R U OK? Day on Thursday to encourage students to see how their friends are feeling and hold a meaningful conversation with them.

Under the initiative, students each pick a buddy to hold a conversation with and take a photo of themselves afterward wearing a ‘badge of honour’, with the hope the badge is eventually passed throughout the entire junior campus of the school.

“Suicide and emotional feelings are very broad and a not so nice topic but it’s important to talk about,” Justice said.

She said during the two-week program she attended in Sydney last month, suicide prevention was a focus of her group, which brought about strong feelings and intensified the need for an initiative among young people.

“Because it’s so personal we unlocked a lot of diversified ideas, and what it came down to was that to have a buddy you need to be a buddy so you don’t feel alone,” she said.

“It’s about starting a community conversation because a conversation really can change a life.”

Justice made a presentation about the R U OK? project before the junior campus yesterday, outlining her idea, including the importance of students expanding the project beyond their immediate social circle, and even to include teachers and other staff.

The ladies in the school’s office will keep a card to show who has worn the badge, and everyone involved will post the photo of them and their buddy to Facebook.

National R U OK? Day will be held on Thursday, aiming to get people comfortably talking about their general health and wellbeing.

Four steps to connect with someone:

1. Ask R U OK?

Start a conversation somewhere private, ask open-ended questions and build trust through open and relaxed body language

2. Listen without judgement

Give them time to reply, avoid solving their problems and don’t trivialise what they’re feeling

3. Encourage action

Summarise the issues, ask them what they plan to do and urge them to take one step toward that solution

4. Follow Up

Put a note in your diary to call them in one week, listen without judgement again and ask if they’ve managed to take that first step. If they deny he problem they’re not ready to talk, so check in with them soon, and remember it’s okay to say ‘I’m not okay’.

Justice King and Kayla Boutcher do their bit for R U OK Day.

Posted in 杭州龙凤 | Comments Off on R U OK? More than just a question

Own accounts the way to go

More Australian couples are choosing to buck tradition and hold on to their financial freedom by keeping their money in separate bank accounts.How men and women view their finances

While it’s a common financial set-up for young couples not ready to share the spoils of their hard work, maintaining detached accounts is also a tried and trusted system for older couples.

Queensland couple Adam and Renae Leishman have kept their accounts separate for so long now that they can’t imagine combining their cash.

”We still have the same bank accounts we had when we met in 1999 and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Adam says.

”We never had a conversation about joining accounts and that’s the beauty of it: we don’t have to talk about it.” Adam, a real estate agent, is the breadwinner in his family and although he says no one is keeping track of who pays for what, he pays the bigger household bills.

The Leishmans’ separate bank account arrangement even survived when Renae took maternity leave to have their children Chase, 6, and Hunter, 4.

”We know other people who have joint accounts, but we’ve always thought that’s weird,” he says.

”For us, it’s just what comes naturally. I couldn’t imagine having to explain to my wife that I wanted to pay for something with the money I earned.” Money is a divisive topic for many couples, with Relationships Australia listing financial stress among the top four reasons relationships suffer, along with communication difficulties, different expectations and values, and lack of trust.

On one hand, separate accounts give each person a sense of autonomy over their spending and savings. It can also prevent them inheriting their partner’s debts.

But maintaining separate accounts requires more budgeting and financial balancing, particularly if one partner earns a substantially larger amount than the other.

Financial planner Michael Miller says there is no financial advantage to keeping split or joint accounts.

”There’s not that much difference in terms of tax and financial strategies,” he says. ”It’s more about feelings and emotions that go with the process.

”In terms of whether to join accounts, my advice would be only if it’s going to improve your saving and spending habits.

”If it’s going to cause arguments, I’d counsel against it.”

While separate accounts give a sense of independence and financial freedom, it can come undone when one partner has to stop working to care for children, because they are injured or if they have unexpectedly found themselves unemployed. The person continuing to earn an income might be forced to pay an allowance to help their partner. Miller, from the MLC Advice Centre, says this can work if the partner receiving the payments doesn’t feel they are getting a handout.

”The words that you chose to use can be really important to how everybody feels about it,” he says.

”Instead of the word ‘allowance’, use ‘spending money’ or something less patronising.” Some employers are happy to divvy up a salary into two accounts, but failing that, internet banking allows for regular transactions.

Miller says couples without joint accounts are more common than ever. Most have successful careers by the time they meet in their late 20s or early 30s, and while they might be happy to say ”I do”, they aren’t as willing to merge their savings.

”They’ve had a good 10 years in the workforce and they’re very familiar with their finances,” he says.

”I think if the structures are right and both people are meeting their commitments, it’s a very good way to avoid unnecessary conflict.” A survey by Roy Morgan last year showed 19 per cent of Australian bank account holders have both joint and separate accounts. This reflects a common practice among couples who chose to have a personal spending account and a joint account for shared bills such as groceries, rent or mortgage payments.

The survey found 22 per cent of Australian couples only have joint accounts where all their incoming money is put into a single account.

Nelly Reffet, 32, shares a joint account with partner Sam Desmaris, 41, which pays for their utility bills, groceries, rent and daycare expenses for their 16-month-old daughter, Rose.

Reffet, a financial planning assistant, says the set-up allows her to indulge her penchant for buying homewares and Desmaris’ love of vintage motorbikes.

It has also given Reffet the freedom to launch her own small business, an interior style consultancy.

Growing up watching her parents argue over money made Reffet adamant about keeping her financial independence.

”My mum always had to justify the clothes she brought to my father, even though they both worked,” she says.

Reffet earns the lion’s share of the household income, so the couple calculate each other’s contribution to the shared account on a 60-40 ratio.

”I didn’t exactly think it was fair to go 50-50 because I earn more than him,” she says. ”We’re happy with this arrangement; it’s much less complicated.

”We both contribute to the household in a fair way and whatever else we spend, we’re not accountable to each other.

”No one feels like they’re getting robbed.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Posted in 杭州龙凤 | Comments Off on Own accounts the way to go

Confidence up at Bisalloy after tough times

Bisalloy in many respects is an Australian manufacturing success story, but it is one which is yet to set the investment world alight. This could all change in the next year as it recovers from a tough fiscal 2013.

It produces a high-strength lightweight steel it brands “Bisplate” from its mill in Unanderra, south of Wollongong in NSW. It also has a joint venture with Chinese steel giant Shandong Steel to produce its product out of China.

Bisplate is in demand from miners because it is used in large dump trucks, drag-line buckets and cranes. The group had a spectacular year in fiscal 2012 delivering revenues up 33 per cent to $104 million and a net profit which almost trebled to $6.3 million.

In the wake of that result, and the euphoria surrounding its Chinese joint venture, its stock raced from a low of 50¢ in mid-2011 to $1.70 in March 2012.

Now Bisalloy’s price is hovering around 87¢. Despite a promising start, fiscal 2013 proved to be difficult as commodity prices fell and miners put the brakes on expansion. But it is the maintenance capital expenditure, which is required year in year out, that will be Bisalloy’s saviour, according to managing director Robert Terpening.

“The volume Fortescue, BHP and Rio Tinto have been digging out of the ground has to translate to wear on their equipment,” he said. “It’s a matter of when, not if, they need Bisplate.”

It can’t come soon enough for Bisalloy shareholders. In the year to June 30, revenues were down 20 per cent to $80.6 million, producing a profit of $3.8 million, which was down 44 per cent.

Another signal Bisalloy’s shareholders will be looking for is sales out China. So far, the high expectations from its joint venture with the giant Chinese steelmaker Jinan Iron and Steel to sell its high-strength Bisplate steel into that market have not been met.

Importantly, the venture has not cost Bisalloy much money. The company invested $1 million into the joint venture and it has almost recovered all of that in dividends in just over two and a half years.

Terpening believes that Bisalloy’s intellectual property over Bisplate is protected because only Bisalloy knows how to fix problems with the production, and envisages that the joint venture will start producing the big sales that investors have been hoping for.

“Until now we have been sending technical experts over as required. We’re now more optimistic so are putting more sales people on our books. Our profits have been hit hard by domestic market’s downturn, but we’re confident that we can build up our profits in China to redress this,” he said.

A sign of confidence is that Bisalloy has reintroduced paying dividends, having reduced its debt from a peak of $40 million to less than $10 million. The stock is trading on a PE of just under 10 times and if it keeps paying dividends it has a yield of over 9 per cent.

Bisalloy’s annual general meeting is not until late November, where it will resolve how its sales are tracking. It will be a crucial point for a company at the proverbial crossroads.

Richard Hemming edits the newsletter Under the Radar Report: Small Caps. Click here to access the fortnightly newsletter. Visit here for more Under the Radar articles.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Posted in 杭州龙凤 | Comments Off on Confidence up at Bisalloy after tough times

The Newsroom: How to improve our election coverage, Aaron Sorkin-style

Under fire … Mackenzie McHale sits uneasy about the Genoa coverage on The Newsroom.Dibs on Aaron Sorkin’s crystal ball.

I mean, his foresight when writing this show is uncanny. Those that have been following this season’s Newsroom will have no doubt looked to the recent goings-on in Syria – the military intervention and the accusations of chemical warfare – and seen the outrageously close resemblance to the fictitious Genoa storyline that Will McAvoy and the ACN crew have been investigating (albeit with some roles reversed).

And in another act of sheer serendipity, Sorkin and Co. have teed up a two-parter season finale enmeshed around US Election Night 2012, while the remains of our own sit freshly in the subconscious.

Save for an overly patriotic motivational speech (“Our elections are the envy of the world!”), we are privy to a grippingly tight broadcast – executive producers swimming in voices and numbers cannoned across the newsroom floor, a chaos filtered through to the anchor’s desk.

They’re fascinating beasts to watch, these election coverages. It shows off our news and media hacks as real people after all: off-the-cuff, prone to gaffes, slipping-up over sentences. Everything is flowing, responses are dynamic, and dead air is forbidden. It’s beautifully unscripted drama in itself.

So, as I watched this week’s episode, amidst desperate pinings that our election coverage and results were only halfway as dramatic as this, it made me ponder: what can our media networks learn from the drama-fuelled bombastic bubble that is The Newsroom about covering an election? Or American coverage in general?

Yes, the arguments that our coverage is more balanced and less sensational than anything they can muster will abound in the comments below, but you can’t deny the Americans have got this dramatic formula right, even outside the realm of drama.

Here’s how they do it:

Get Angry

It seems everyone on air is ready to detonate with the slightest provocation. Perhaps it’s because these broadcasts are sans bathroom breaks, or perhaps it’s the prospect of a near six hours of content to fill, but everyone is on edge. Sloan and Elliot duke it out on and off-air for the right to retell clever anecdotes, and screech at producers around them. Injecting a bit of ferocious personality would be a welcome addition – for mine, I couldn’t get the thought of the ABC’s Annabel Crabb and Kerry O’Brien in make-up duelling over witty anecdotes (from my head); “No, I want to draw the analogy that Kevin Rudd casting his vote today was a metaphor for his entire campaign.”

Anger = tension = good television.

Get Partisan

One thing the Americans networks have often shown us is that objectivity is dead – BUT they’ve replaced it with the notion that competing subjectivities is just as good. We can debate the media ethics of that somewhere else, but thank the stars for having guests that can speak their minds, and not speak in riddles, rhetoric, or bland reassurances!

Having Republican strategist Taylor Warren (Constance Zimmer) go into bat for the conservative agenda was compelling to watch against the left-leaning ACN. She even celebrated Republican seat victories with a fist-pump – and come on, if she gets one, you’ve got to at least allow Australian Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells a fist-pump, surely!

Antagonism = tension = good television.

Get Personal

In The Newsroom world, personal on-air attacks are a dime a dozen, and the election night was no different. Whether it be accusations of bias, scutinising personal politics, or bringing up the monumental, if not multiple, ‘elephants in the room’ without the slightest of hesitations, election coverage cries out for the casting of heroes and villains. Panel animosity is the lifeblood of gripping broadcasts.

Controversy = drama = good television.

Get Suspenseful

No offence to ABC commentator Antony Green, but those numbers and the ol’ slide animations we parade around on election night are drab. I mean, ACN have a ‘decision room’, the pumping antechamber of the whole operation, where statisticians debate over when to call a seat. That’s a pearl of a dramatic device right there.

Let’s inject some of that suspense into the decision process – I want to see some Sorkin-style verbal sparring over whether to call the New South Wales’ electorate Eden-Monaro. Just don’t be culturally reductive in casting your primary statistician – because, in Sorkin’s world, apparently the only person who could possibly be the head of stats division is an Asian woman.

Suspense = tension = good television.

And to next week’s season finale…

There’s a few loose storylines to wrap up. Will invoked the dismissal clause in Mack’s contract, and absolved her from the pangs of her own guilt after Genoa, but no-one will bet on that lasting.

Meanwhile, Don’s now being sued in a separate action by the disgraced Jerry ‘No Smiles’ Dantana for giving him a malicious job reference, and the irrepressible Don delivered one of my favourite lines of the season to lawyer Rebecca Halliday (“You’re a member of a godless, soulless race of extortionists”).

And everyone’s waiting to discover whether News Night will regain the trust of the public, and that may start with breaking the news of director of the CIA David Petraeus’ extra-marital affair, as was revealed in the closing scenes.

Just to end on a high note (something that may have slipped under the radar)…

The Newsroom has been renewed for a third season! Jeff Daniels tweeted the news a week ago, despite HBO having not confirmed it, but if The Newsroom has taught us anything this season, it’s that tweets are valid sources now [HBO did later confirm it was true].

It’s official. #Newsroom coming back for a Season 3.— Jeff Daniels (@Jeff_Daniels) September 4, 2013

So, tell us what you think in the comments below – does our election coverage have a thing or two to learn from America?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Posted in 杭州龙凤 | Comments Off on The Newsroom: How to improve our election coverage, Aaron Sorkin-style