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Canberra family’s moving random act of kindness

The card Canberra’s Latoya Marks gave to a “well-behaved little girl” that has captured the attention of Canberrans online. Photo: Supplied.A Canberra family is on a mission to spread a little extra Christmas cheer throughout the capital this month.
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As tragic news from around the world leaves many feeling a little deflated, EllieMarks and her partnerLatoya’s”Operation Christmas Spirit” is gradually lifting the spirits of a growing number of Canberrans through random acts of kindness.

One gesture in particularhascaptured the capital’s attention: a Christmas card congratulating a young girl on her good behaviour at anorthside cafe.

The Marksfamily noticedthe young girlpatiently waiting for her foodinside Westfield Belconnen’s Max Brenner and decided topass on the Christmas card with an enclosed $5 note and a special message:

“Santa is always watching. He sends people to let you know that you are on the ‘nice’ list. Here’s a reward for being so good!”

Little did they knowthe young girl who received the card had been recentlyseparated from her birth family.

Thechild’sfoster carer took to Facebookto thank “Santa’s Little Helper”.

The post hasbeen shared more than 1700 times, received more than 14,000 ‘likes’ and more than 300 heartfelt comments, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Many commentators said they were brought to tears after reading the post, including the young girl’sfoster family.

“I could not hold back the tears when I opened the card you left and read your thoughtful words,” the foster carer’s postread.

“You acknowledged the beautiful behaviour of my child, who sat quietly eating chocolate strawberries and chatting to me and my friend.

“What you couldn’t have possibly known, is that the child you took the time to acknowledge has recently been [separated]from their birth family.

“Life for a foster child is not easy, but through your kindness you have shown this amazing child the spirit of community.

“As a foster carer, I can’t tell you how much your gift of kind words (and $5) means to us.

“Your random act of kindness towards us complete strangers has touched me deeply. I will treasure this memory for my lifetime.”

Ellie said her family, including her four children,had been “completely overwhelmed” by the community’s response to the gesture.

“As parents you’re often judged on how your children behave,” she said.

“We thought it would be nice to recognise just how well she had been behaving.

“We didn’t ever do this with the intention of being recognised for these deeds; we just wanted to teach our kids about Christmas and how to give.”

Ellie said Operation Christmas Spirit had replaced the family’s advent calendar as a way to encourage her children to pay it forward.

“We’ve been watchingall the horrible things happening around the world and have realised our kids are so lucky to have the life they have,” she said.

“We thought it was a better way of trying to teach our kids the spirit of Christmas.”

Other random acts of kindness undertaken by the Marksfamily have included paying for an elderly woman’s groceries, writing Christmas cards for people who “looked like they needed a little Christmas spirit” and donating change to charity.

“Just little things that don’t cost very much but make a big difference to those receiving them,” Ellie said.

“That’s our message: it’s really simple to pay it forward.”

Foreign prawns linked with human trafficking and environmental havoc, says Greenpeace

Hawkesbury River fisherman Gary Howard catching school prawns using low impact methods. Among the best rated by Greenpeace are these prawns from the Hawkesbury. Photo: Greenpeace/James Alcock Gary Howard trawls for school prawns using inshore trawl and static nets. Photo: Greenpeace/James Alcock
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They might be cheap and perfect for a Christmas feast, but shoppers are being urged to do their research and avoid buying imported prawns linked with human trafficking, environmental damage and spread of disease.

A new report and prawn shopping guide from activist group Greenpeace shows one of the worst choices is the vannamei prawn that is pond-farmed in Vietnam, China and Thailand.

At present, cooked and frozen vannamei prawns are the cheapest option at $19 a kilo at Coles’ online shop.

But the production of these non-native, fast-growing prawns in ‘s top three prawn supplier countries is linked with human trafficking and slavery, destruction of mangroves, spread of disease and chemical and antibiotic use, according to multiple United Nations’ International Labour Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization reports.

Greenpeace’s oceans campaigner Nathaniel Pelle said weak seafood labelling laws made it difficult for consumers to always make ethical purchases, with restaurants and takeaways, except in NT, not required to declare the country of origin or species.

“We’re eating in the dark. There are great prawns, readily available that are responsibly farmed and caught, but there are also many dodgy prawns and you won’t know just by looking at them,” he said.

“We need rigorous national laws requiring proper seafood labelling, explaining what species we’re getting and where and how it was produced.” Trawl for the right prawn

He said the prawn guide allowed consumers to make informed decisions, dividing popular prawns into four categories – from the most responsible to the most damaging.

Among the best rated are Hawkesbury River school prawns, as well as Naturland and Blueyou-certified black tiger prawns from Vietnam.

About two-thirds of the 49,800 tonnes of prawns consumed in in 2014-15 were from overseas, according to the Department of Agriculture. The amount of imported prawns has doubled in the past 15 years.

Norman Grant, executive chairman of the Seafood Importers Association of Australasia said many of the environmental destruction, chemical use and human rights abuse problems in overseas farms were being addressed.

He said export farms and factories are regularly audited by third party certifiers to international standards – as demanded by big buyers such as Coles and Woolworths.

He said the destruction of mangrove and coastal forests had been addressed by countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, and the bigger issue was now about water quality and disease control.

He conceded there were ongoing issues with trafficked crew on fishing boats, especially in Thailand, but said big progress had been made by local authorities and NGOs.

“The situation is getting better and it is the revenue from the sale of prawns that is enabling the industry to make these massive investments in social restructuring. Boycotting these prawns, on the other hand, is simply turning away from the issue and will bring this progress to a standstill,” he said.

Gary Howard, a Hawkesbury River prawn fisherman from Lower Portland in NSW, whose school prawns are rated among the “most responsible choices” in the guide, urged shoppers to look beyond the prices and consider the livelihoods of n producers.

“We have imported prawns coming into this country for probably $5 a kilo being sold for $10 a kilo, and we want to try and get $25. The quality can be vastly superior, but at the end of the day, people are going to say, ‘Am I going to pay $10 or $25?'” he said.

“It’s because our wages are higher, our running costs are higher, our standard of living is higher, so whilst we import so much seafood into our country at cheap prices, it’s very difficult for us to compete.”

The latest seafood labelling bill, which would have required restaurants and takeaways to declare the origin and species of seafood, was shot down in the Senate in August.

The setback has not deterred sustainable seafood advocates, including Matthew Evans, chef and the face of the Label My Fish campaign, in their demands for stronger labelling laws that at least match the requirements in the European Union.

“I want to know the prawns I choose aren’t responsible for destroying mangrove habitat, indiscriminately racking the sea floor, and that they were not caught using slave or child labour,” Mr Evans said.

“We need to be able to choose sustainably farmed or caught seafood, whether we buy them from supermarkets and restaurants, or fishmongers and cafes. Labelling laws are needed now.” Seafood company pinged for dodgy packaging

The n Competition and Consumer Commission said on Tuesday it had fined major seafood company Kailis Bros $10,800 for attempting to pass off Thai prawns as n.

The company embellished the packaging with an image of the n flag, a map of , and the statement “n caught raw prawns”.

The fine print on the back said the prawns were packed and processed in Thailand. The “raw, deveined, tail off” prawns were being sold on the Woolworths website at nearly $40 a kilo.

“Consumers are often prepared to pay a premium for n made products, so any ‘n made’ representations must be accurate. Businesses cannot rely on fine print disclaimers to correct or qualify a prominent country of origin representation that is false or misleading,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling says Donald Trump is worse than Voldemort

Harry Potter’s nemesis Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes in the film franchise. Photo: Supplied JK Rowling declared the presidential candidate was much worse than her own fictional villain. Photo: Supplied
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JK Rowling declared the presidential candidate was much worse than her own fictional villain. Photo: Supplied

Trump calls for Muslims to be barred from entering US

New York: The mogul turned reality star turned presidential hopeful Donald Trump is a figure almost beyond parody and caricature – his comments so outlandish, his self-belief so inflated.

But after ramping up his anti-Muslim rhetoric this week and calling for all Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, one comparison in particular has begun to dog him. People are likening him to the evil, racist arch-villain of the Harry Potter novels, Lord Voldemort.

However, it’s a comparison that the outspoken author of the beloved books says is unwarranted – because Mr Trump, she believes, is worse.

JK Rowling injected herself into the US presidential race on Tuesday when she responded to the meme comparing Mr Trump to Voldemort.

“How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad,” Ms Rowling wrote in response to a story about Mr Trump’s latest comments.How horrible. Voldemort was nowhere near as bad. https://t上海龙凤论坛/hFO0XmOpPH— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 8, 2015

Headline-grabbing sound-bites about race and immigration have been a staple of Mr Trump’s campaign, drawing the ire of many, while evidently helping him stand out and become a front-runner in a crowded Republican field. He kicked off his tilt at the presidency by declaring that Mexicans coming into the United States were bringing “drugs and crime” and were “rapists”. Later, he called for a database for Muslims in the US.

But this week his rhetoric took a more extreme turn. In the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, which was carried out by a couple believed to hold radical Islamist beliefs, Mr Trump called for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

It’s the focus of his campaign on race which has led to the mostly tongue-in-cheek Harry Potter meme.

Voldemort is not only the power-hungry, militaristic and cartoonishly evil bad guy of JK Rowling’s universe, he’s also fixated with “race” or a literary analogy for it.The only way to stop Donald Trump is to destroy his Horcruxes. The wig is definitely one. If you need me I’ll be finding the other six.— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) December 7, 2015

In the novels, Voldemort and his followers are obsessed with the superiority of “pure-blood” wizards, denigrating and targeting “half-bloods” and Muggles. Rowling herself has previously described Voldemort as a racist, and acknowledged the parallels with the rhetoric and beliefs of Nazi Germany.

Rowling is a well-known as a supporter of left, liberal politics, donating to the Labour party in the United Kingdom, criticising many of the policies of Conservative UK Prime Minister David Cameron and saying in 2008 she wanted to see a Democrat in the White House.

Mr Trump’s comments this week have been defended by his most ardent supporters on the right, such as pundit Ann Coulter, but many on his own side of politics, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and fellow candidates Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, have declared he has gone too far.is that donald trump or lord voldemort pic.twitter上海龙凤论坛m/r63ZtgARgB— luke pls (@daydreamIukey) October 27, 2015But imagine a fanfic where Voldemort swallows a tiny bit of his hatred for muggles to team up with Donald Trump and ruin everything.— Imperator Lex (@Alexes_C) December 5, 2015

Cedar Woods plans strata office for western suburbs

Artist impressions of Newton Apartments by Cedar Woods at Williams Landing.Perth-based developer Cedar Woods will launch a 5000 square metre strata office development next year and is planning a 50-room hotel at its Williams Landing estate in Melbourne’s west to cater for growing employment demand.
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Cedar Wood’s Victorian manager Nathan Blackburne said the strata building, to be completed in 2017 subject to planning approvals, followed the successful take-up of a smaller office project at 100 Overton Road.

The new building will be located next to the estate’s shopping centre, which will undergo a $6.5million expansion to include a Future Kids childcare centre and 1200 square metres of retail space.

Research commissioned by Cedar Woods suggests Williams Landing will host 13,000 employees within the next 15 years, a growth in white collar workforce spurred by its location in Wyndham, one of ‘s fastest expanding municipalities.

Few developers are willing to risk building large, speculative suburban office projects.

About three years ago MAB Corporation constructed a 4350-square-metre strata office at its University Hill project in Bundoora, following the earlier success of two similarly-sized buildings.

In Melbourne’s more-active south-eastern office market, a recent pre-commitment from BMW’s financial services arm will allow Frasers Property, formerly known as Australand, to construct a 10,000 square metre, $51 million office in its Mulgrave Office Park.

BMW joins Mazda and healthcare products group BSN Medical as tenants in the three-hectare park.

Also in the south-east, the wealthy Spooner family signed leases in July with American consumer and commercial goods giant Newell Rubbermaid and German high-end appliance maker Miele in its Caribbean Park development in Scoresby.

“The research that we’ve undertaken and the initial development that we’ve completed has shown that there is that demand and that it can be done at a meaningful scale. It’s very much like what MAB did in the north. They pioneered major office development in the outer suburban areas,” Mr Blackburne said.

Williams Landing may be in the running to host a 3500 square metre office for VicRoads employees after Cedar Woods submitted a bid to construct the new building with 10+5+5 year lease terms, despite a stated government preference for the office to be in Sunshine.

The lack of office space in Melbourne’s west was coupled with a lack of accommodation, Mr Blackburne said.

“We’re talking to a number of accommodation providers with the hope of developing a hotel within the next few years,” he said.

When complete, the estate’s commercial hub will have between 40-50 buildings up to five storeys tall, a third will be offices and the remainder a mix of apartments, retail space, bulky goods stores and a childcare centre.

The ASX-listed mid-tier developer has active projects in St Albans, Footscray, Clayton South and in Queensland’s Upper Kedron, where it expects to launch the 228 hectare 1000-lot infill Ellendale estate early next year.

ISPT joins Villawood in Queensland residential venture

Villawood’s Rory Costelloe and Tony Johnson have signed a joint venture with ISPT, Photo: Pat ScalaSuper fund investor ISPT will increase its exposure to an upswing in Queensland’s residential land market after signing a joint venture with Villawood Properties to develop part of its Helensvale project.
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The 600-lot deal for a portion of the south-east Queensland project will have an estimated end value of $400 million and is the second tie-up between privately-owned Villawood and ISPT which is investing funds on behalf of Hostplus Super.

The deal comes as ISPT is said to be the front runner to buy into one of ‘s best performing malls, World Square in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, at a price exceeding $280 million.

ISPT, with $11 billion in funds under management, formed a similar joint venture in 2007 on Villawood’s Alamanda Project in Melbourne’s Point Cook.

Villawood, run by founder Rory Costelloe and joint director Tony Johnson, purchased the 86-hectare Gold Coast Country Club in Helensvale in August last year.

The site has capacity for nearly 2000 dwellings and an overall end value in excess of $1 billion.

ISPT’s development manager David McFadyen said the 50-50 joint venture covered land in southern sector of the Helensvale site which is expected to be released next year.

“We have an ability to step into the central portion as well at a later date,” Mr McFadyen said.

“Strong demand fundamentals in the south east Queensland market and the property’s unique positioning with immediate access to a range of amenities and transport infrastructure made this investment highly desirable,” he said.

Colin Keane, director of the National Land Survey Program, said greenfield developments in south-east Queensland were selling on an average of 913 lots per month at a median price of $258,000.

“That is a near record high,” Mr Keane said.

Between 2008 and 2013, after the global financial crisis, the area’s land sales averaged 500 lots per month.

Growth was being driven by larger projects like Lend Lease’s Springfield Lakes estate near Ipswich and Yarrabilba in Logan and Stockland’s Bells Reach project on the Sunshine Coast that were able to deliver more land at lower price points, he said.

Melbourne’s median land lot price stands at a more affordable $211,000, while Sydney’s is the most expensive at $485,000.

The joint venture’s Helensvale land is an established suburb about 15 kilometres north of Surfers Paradise and 63 kilometres south of the Brisbane. Nearby is a Westfield shopping centre.

Villawood expects to launch up to 10 new projects next year and recently announced it will include childcare facilities upfront in all its new communities.

ISPT has been an active residential investor, pouring funds into six land and apartment projects under mandates from n Super and Hostplus over the last 12 months.

Mr McFadyen said ISPT had “pulled back” from Melbourne CBD apartment developments and would focus on building a residential land bank next year.

Kids exposed to domestic violence more likely to suffer sexual, physical abuse

Children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer similar effects to trauma and can struggle in adulthood. Photo: SuppliedChildren who are exposed to domestic violence are at higher risk of suffering sexual, emotional and physical abuse, according to a new study.
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The n Institute of Family Studies report, which will be released on Wednesday, also shows that children exposed to domestic violence from an early age are more likely to experience difficulties at school and have lifelong problems with social and cognitive development.

The report, Children’s exposure to domestic and family violence, draws on local and international research to examine the effects on children raised in abusive households.

It found young people who grew up around domestic violence were at higher risk of other forms of abuse, and that exposure to family violence was the leading cause of homelessness in young people.

“It affects their development in such a global fashion,” AIFS director Anne Hollonds said. “The problems are extensive and they go right across physical and mental wellbeing, cognitive development, which obviously affects academic achievement and employment.”

The study found child abuse often co-existed with domestic violence and that victims of persistent maltreatment in childhood suffered similar effects to trauma, which can lead to aggression, self-hatred and a lack of awareness of danger.

Ms Hollonds said the experience of children exposed to violence at home was not well understood and that a fragmented response meant the most vulnerable children were falling through the cracks.

“What we have is a fragmented patchwork of some services in some areas often operating in quite a siloed way,” she said.

“For example, domestic violence support for women might not always be focusing on the needs of the children. Similarly, adult services for mental health or drug and alcohol issues might not have a focus on the needs of dependant children.

“Unfortunately in some families the problems are multiple, it’s not just violence towards the other parent but there is also various kinds of abuse that the children directly experience. This multi-victimisation of children requires our urgent attention.”

The n Human Rights Commission released a report on Monday that found up to five children in every classroom had experienced or witnessed family violence.

The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, said children were the “invisible victims” of the domestic violence scourge and that growing up in an abusive household could have a devastating lifelong impact on a person’s mental and physical health.

She said children exposed to family violence might also feel they needed to defend the parent, or be the one to call police or an ambulance.

Crime statistics show Victoria Police were called to 65,400 family incidents in 2013-14 and that children were present in more than one-third of cases.

According to the n Bureau of Statistics, more than half of victims abused by their partner had dependent children in their care at the time, with that figure rising to 61 per cent in cases of abuse at the hands of former partners.

Ms Hollonds said a multidisciplinary approach to domestic violence across health, child protection and family services sectors was needed to help the most disadvantaged families, who are often dealing with complex problems but face the most barriers accessing help.

“We have a late reaction policy culture and find it difficult to co-ordinate across portfolios,” she said. “The key is acting earlier because often we don’t find out about the problems people are having until they’ve escalated to a very serious stage, and by then children will have been affected.”

New Chinan lottery could raise funds for heritage projects

The Opera House Lottery ran from late 1957 until 1986. About 86.7 million tickets were sold over the course of 867 draws, raising more than $105 million. Photo: Michele MossopOpera House Lottery kidnappingGamblers help fund Opera House birthday
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The federal government will consider introducing a national lottery – similar to the Opera House lotteries of the past – to fund the preservation of ‘s most precious places.

It will explore the feasibility of adapting Britain’s Heritage Lottery fund. Since it was launched in 1994, this lottery has raised more than $71 billion and funded more than 39,000 projects, that it says “make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities.”

An n national heritage lottery is one of a range of funding initiatives that are outlined in the new n Heritage Strategy, a five-year plan that will be released at the Opera House on Wednesday by the Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt. It also includes plans to generate more publicity for nationally listed heritages sites by a more creative use of online storytelling.

Mr Hunt said the strategy would explore the potential for a national lottery that would benefit ‘s “magnificent heritage”.

Heritage management should be a “shared responsibility between national, state and local governments, private owners, businesses and the local community” , he said.

And protection of ‘s 100 world and national heritage-listed places was a pillar of the strategy, he said.

As well as national parks, these sites include: the Opera House; Hyde Park Barracks; and Bondi Beach in NSW; Port Arthur in Tasmania; Uluru in the Northern Territory; the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland; Flemington Racecourse in Victoria; and Canberra’s Old Parliament House.

A study of 15 sites estimated that they generated $15.4 billion in annual turnover, and employed around 79,000 people directly and indirectly.

The strategy paper acknowledges that “budget pressures” on the heritage sector have forced it to move towards more innovative funding measures, including crowd funding, partnerships with the private sector and targeted lotteries.

The Opera House, for example, has seen government funding drop and is investigating ways to raise more funds from the public.

A range of public lotteries in has encouraged gambling for “good causes”. The Opera House Lottery ran from late 1957, starting with tickets of £5 each, until it ended in September,1986. It sold 86.7 million tickets over the course of 867 draws, raising more than $105 million. In 2013, its 40th birthday celebrations were funded by special scratchies.

The Opera House Lottery became an institution in NSW, generating headlines about its power to transform lives – and not always for the better.

When Sydney actor Robert Levis won the Opera House jackpot of $200,000 in 1965, he said it set him up for life. He was “the richest man he knew,” he told the Herald.

In 1960 an eight-year-old Bondi boy Graeme Thorne was the first n to be kidnapped for ransom, and later murdered, when his parents won £100,000 in the 10th Opera House Lottery.

The odds of winning the Opera House Lottery were very long, and copped criticism from the church and others for encouraging gambling. The odds of winning the British jackpot recently got even longer.

Dr Mark Griffiths, the director of the International Gaming Research Unit and Professor of Gambling Studies, Nottingham Trent University, estimates the chances of winning the British lottery fund are one in 45 million after recent changes reduced a punter’s chance of winning.

“Does that make playing it a tribute to public innumeracy and totally irrational? Not necessarily. Lotto still offers a low-cost chance of winning a very large, life-changing amount of money … given the small cost involved; it’s a small price to pay for a big hope,” he wrote in The Conversation.

Frank Howarth, the national president of Museums , welcomed the idea of a lottery. He said the lack of funding at federal, state and local level for cultural and heritage institutions was very concerning.

In particular, organisations that relied on local government funding were really “feeling the pinch”.

The British lottery had been “immensely successful” in building a large number of cultural facilities that would otherwise not have been built, said Mr Howarth who was previously director of the National Museum of .

He warned that it was important that there was a strategy so that organisations that received lottery money for capital works also had funding to cover ongoing operational costs. Several projects funded by lottery money in Britain had closed because they didn’t have funding for operational costs.

When the Opera House Lottery ended, the then manager of the NSW Lotteries Bryne Smith told the Herald that the primary motivation to buy lottery tickets was to win money. “But a secondary reason is often the knowledge that the money spent on the ticket is going to a good cause,” he said.

Yet opposition to government lotteries like Britain’s heritage fund is usually more muted than the usual criticism of gambling.

“There seems to be a moral objection to the notion that people should be able to make bets at extremely long odds unless the proceeds are for a good cause,” said the Fundraising Institute in a submission to government many years ago.

What we can learn from the Packer siblings’ assets split

Kerry Packer is greeted at Sydney Airport by his children James and Gretel in 1977. Photo: Trevor DallenIf the Hancock-Rinehart feud over the family fortune shows how intergenerational wealth transfer can all go horribly wrong, the Packer family provides an example of how to do it well.
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When James Packer and his sister Gretel recently severed financial ties, a decade after the death of their father Kerry, the process was remarkably smooth and amicable.

Gretel Packer is now a billionaire in her own right after reaching a settlement with her brother over the division of assets and cash, essentially finalising their father’s will.

Steven Glanz, the lawyer and partner with Baker & McKenzie who acted for Gretel Packer in the settlement with her brother, says there are lessons in this for the rest of us.

Glanz has represented members of some of wealthiest and most prominent n families besides Gretel Packer, but he says good estate planning is critical for people from all walks of life.

He points out that is poised for the greatest intergenerational transfer of wealth over the next decades as the baby boomers age – the oldest of that cohort are about to turn 70.

At the same time there has never been more at stake. Over the last decade, older households have captured most of the growth in ‘s wealth that will be eventually handed onto their heirs.

A report by the Grattan Institute, released late last year, showed households aged between 65 and 74 are $200,000 wealthier than households of that age eight years ago, mostly due to increases in house prices.

Glanz says more “blended” families and more people with their own businesses mean that working out who gets what after we die is becoming more complex.

Those who do not do their estate planning properly risk splitting the family – setting sibling against sibling.

Glanz says there are three guiding principles that can help ensure a smooth handover of wealth that apply,regardless of the size of the assets.

First, it is very important to have a conversation with family members and make them aware of intentions and the reasons for dividing up the estate in a particular way.

“Many people feel uncomfortable with confronting their own mortality or don’t like having to tell one beneficiary they will not be getting as much as another,” Glanz says.

The consequences of parents not communicating their intentions with heirs is that the beneficiary who receives less is much more likely to direct their anger and disappointment at the sibling who receives more.

In Glanz’s experience, the second principle, is to try and make the heirs financially independent rather than financially interdependent on each other.

“What often happens is that someone builds a business, for example, of which they are very proud and they leave it to their kids,” he says.

“But their kids’ interpersonal relations are often challenging enough without adding the complexity of running a business between them.”

The third principle, which is even more important with the growth in blended families, is to treat all heirs equally.

“Children feel they are equally deserving and it is hard to try and displace that presumption,” Glanz says.

Wills are always contestable in the courts by anyone who feels they have missed out on what they regard as their fair share.

For parents, there is an incentive to get it right, Glanz says.

“You do not want your legacy to be a divided family and one where people dislike each other.”

Twitter: @jcollett_money

David Potts on money: the taxation of voluntary redundancy, and a fond farewell

The last time I was made redundant was a less pleasant affair than this one.
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was in deep doo-doo, made no less painful by the fact that I’d been forecasting it only to leap straight into it. That and I had no say in the decision.

Even though I’m always being mistaken for 63, I’m actually 64. The thing is, my 65th birthday is only a few months away and what with my employer offering me more to go away than stay, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Some would take it as a backhanded insult but really it was generously timed because if you take voluntary redundancy before you’re 65 the Tax Office feels sorry for you and taxes the payout more lightly.

My editor suggested I explain the ins and outs of the taxation of voluntary redundancies, which I thought might look a big self-indulgent, but then, as you know, that’s never stopped me. I’ll just say the first $9514 plus $4758 for each year of service is tax-free and the rest, up to $185,000 is taxed at 17 per cent. After 65 the lot is taxed – 17 per cent for the first $185,000 then 47 per cent.

Where was I?

Oh yes, my last hurrah. In this business you’re judged by your last story or column so the pressure’s on. That’s why I’m going to cheat and, in the spirit of John Farnham who never stops retiring, nor should he, return in a few days for Sunday’s final fling.

At least I’m leaving you with the shop in better shape than I did last time.

Although it had seemed such an obvious conclusion to draw considering interest rates had been jacked up to 18 per cent, oddly enough I was virtually on my lonesome warning about it. Incredibly, the economists and bureaucrats of the day – this was before they were so ingeniously dubbed econocrats – were fretting that growth and so inflation were out of control and the Reserve Bank was losing the plot which, in one respect, was right. The recession that followed was our worst in almost 30 years and, as it’s turned out, our only one.

Anyway I had quit my rarefied job as economics editor of The n to get my hands dirty as an editor of a brand new throwaway newspaper backed by real estate agents. This was in the wealthy eastern suburbs of Sydney in the middle of a property boom about to crash due to the recession I’d just warned about. Somehow we hung on for three years and although I was eventually out on my arse I had learned a lot about running a small business.

If I may say, this experience at the coalface allowed me subsequently to become the best in the business at tipping interest rates. I swear sometimes I know before the Reserve Bank what it’s going to do.

So, in what could well be famous last words, my tip is that rates will stay this low for years and possibly go lower.

I’ve also learned that the markets are more about psychology than economics. They have a mind of their own especially when you think you’ve pinned them down.

I love reading daily sharemarket reports purporting to rationalise the irrational. Apparently it was some obscure statistic that sets the market running one way or another. Hmm, unless everybody who bought or sold shares that day was asked, I don’t think so. Beside, over the years I’ve seen whole recessions that were subsequently airbrushed, I mean revised, away.

Trust me, give it long enough and the sharemarket always rises, though unfortunately that’s not to say every stock.

Like everything else, financial concepts move in and out of fashion. Outsourcing and downsizing are all the rage now, hence my own departure. It’s a fad.

Over the years I’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the richest people and one thing I’ve learned is that the rich really are different to you and me. One exception I’ll allow is Gerry Harvey, who is endearingly normal.

The rich put work first, are natural networkers, know how to use other people and hate paying tax. Come to think of it maybe they aren’t that different after all.

It was Andrew Clark who hired me and made me a better writer for a gig which was to go for 22 years before they found out about me. My first time around at Fairfax I owe to the late Paddy McGuiness, one of our great intellects, who rescued me from Treasury and honed my economic insights as Max Walsh taught me how to find a news angle.

This is an excuse to thank them but also remind you that to get on you must find yourself a mentor.

Somebody once confided he doesn’t understand most of what I write but he loves reading every word of it. I hope I’m the exception but in my experience supposed experts in finance who can’t explain simply what they’re on about tend not to know themselves. I mean it’s not rocket science.

But even if I only raised a chuckle now and then, I feel blessed.

I’ve met readers in the most unlikely places – from the Ghan in the middle of nowhere to a checkout chick at Coles – and loved it.

See you around.

Email: [email protected]上海龙凤论坛m,au Twitter: @moneypotts.

Weaker dollar dampens online shopping boom

Amazon fulfilment centre: The boom in digital shopping appears to slowing to a more moderate pace. Photo: Jeff SpicerShoppers will make some $2.8 billion in online purchases over the six weeks before Christmas, according to industry predictions, much of it on smart phones.
Shanghai night field

Yet despite the spectacular rise of online retail in recent years, the boom in digital shopping appears to slowing to a more moderate pace.

This is partly because the weaker dollar has made overseas internet shopping dearer. But traditional “bricks and mortar” retailers are also fighting back against their online rivals by competing more aggressively.

As a consumer, it can be worth using this fierce competition between physical and online stores to your advantage, as many retailers are willing to match digital shops on price.

National Bank’s index of online sales shows ns spent $17.9 billion on online retail in the last year, but growth is slowing. Spending rose by 5.7 per cent in the past year, a far cry from around 2011, when it was booming by more than 20 per cent a year.

The exchange rate is one reason for the slowdown – the currency has slumped 13 per cent in the last year to about 73 US cents, pushing up the cost of overseas purchases, and the extras, such as shipping charges.

In fact, the share of our online spending that goes overseas is steadily declining, as this week’s graph shows. Overseas online retail is edging up by just 1.3 per cent a year, whereas the local online businesses are enjoying overall sales growth of 7.3 per cent.

But even though the glory days of cheap online imports are probably in the past, the rise of online shopping is still benefiting consumers in other ways.

For one, it has meant there is more choice, and convenience. As well, digital commerce has brought customers the added bonus of more competition, because it’s forcing the traditional retailers to compete more fiercely with their digital rivals.

NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster says more traditional retailers are fighting back against the online invasion by matching the lower prices, and that is another reason why online growth has slowed over the last few years.

For consumers, that means it can be worth checking out the prices of online stores, and then seeing if physical shops will beat or match it.

Officeworks, for instance, says its policy is to beat the offers of online stores just like other businesses, but it will take into account the cost of delivery. Many other “bricks and mortar” stores have a similar approach.

The weaker dollar may have taken some of the value out of overseas online shopping. But even so, the lasting effect of online retailing is likely to be sharper competition – and that’s a win for consumers.