Cut-price alcohol education … links from the “Out Tonight? Party Right” website offer teens poor advice.Children have been directed to websites containing adult relationship advice, instructions on taking peptides and other inappropriate content through a new government site that is supposed to raise awareness about alcohol misuse.
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The Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said on Monday it would review the Out Tonight? Party Right site, and remove links to some external websites after Fairfax Media asked questions about their content.

Health experts said the site was at best incompetent, and at worst could put young people at risk of harm by directing them to unchecked overseas websites that give advice that is not based on evidence.

Mike Daube, the director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth, said the site “gives stunning incompetence a bad name”.

“It is beyond bizarre that their ‘educational’ activities offer links to promotions for online dating and peptides,” he said.

One of the links on the Out Tonight site is for alcohol-related aggression. It takes you to about南京夜网, and a page by a writer who goes by the name of “Buddy T”, a recovering alcoholic who writes regularly on alcohol issues.

Another, on the emotional impacts of drinking, takes you to the Lance Armstrong-associated “Livestrong” website.

This website also contains information on using and buying “peptides” (protein-producing substances, used by bodybuilders and athletes) and on other performance-enhancing protein powders.

Out Tonight was launched last week by the Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, and was supported by police and council groups, along with the Australian Hotels Association, Clubs NSW and the Liquor Stores Association of NSW.

Professor Daube said every day in NSW, an average of three children get so drunk they require an ambulance, and “working parties with the alcohol industries and disastrously bad websites are not the answer”.

“The NSW government should scrap this atrocious material … and establish a proper, independent, well-funded education program,” he said.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education chief executive, Michael Thorn, said if the government removed the inappropriate links “it won’t have much of a website left”.

He said the NSW government was shifting the responsibility for alcohol education onto foreign governments and the liquor industry, after recently abolishing the Department of Education’s drug and alcohol policy development unit.

“It is not acceptable that the government sees fit to ignore the advice and input of independent research organisations, and allows this educational resource to be developed by the alcohol industry – an industry with an undeniable and obvious conflict of interest,” he said.

He said the website also linked to British alcohol websites that provided emergency contact details for the UK only.

NSW Labor education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt, said the inappropriate links on the website could end up doing more harm than good.

“Unfortunately, this is what happens when governments try to cut corners,” she said.

“The O’Farrell Government’s abolition of the … highly regarded Drug and Alcohol Prevention Unit is a very retrograde step.”

A spokesman for the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing said the office would now monitor websites linked from the site, and remove the links highlighted by Fairfax Media.

“While the government does not control these external websites or their advertising, we will actively monitor them to ensure that any accessible content is appropriate for senior high school students and, if content is deemed inappropriate, then links will be removed,” he said.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education & Communities said it still had drug and alcohol experts within the department, and comprehensive drug and alcohol education was available to all students through the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus.

He said the website had been developed with the NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre, but the website and its management had been handed to the office of liquor, gaming and racing in January.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the offending links were still active. The active links were not visible to new visitors to the website.

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


Selling pianos is a dream gig for Mark O’Connor.Flying to Portsea in a helicopter to tune trucking magnate Lindsay Fox’s piano is all in a day’s work for Mark O’Connor.
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As is having customers part with $250,0000 for a grand piano, despite not being able to play a note. Then there was a time a potential customer arrived with a rubbish bag stuffed with $50,000 in notes, asking for a cash discount on a very expensive Steinway.

“It took us half an hour to count that,” says O’Connor, the managing director of the Exclusive Piano Group, of which Fox is the major shareholder.

The business, which has one store in Essendon, Melbourne, and another opening soon in Adelaide, started in 2008, with all of Fox’s profits going back into music and the arts.

With a floor full of pricey handmade instruments, it’s a business that needs some serious financial backing. In its fifth year, it has just started turning a profit.

“That’s the benefit of having a partner like Lindsay Fox,” says O’Connor. He’s just an amazing guy and I’ve got nothing but respect for him. I’ve known him for 20 years.”

The pair met when O’Connor was general manager of music store group Allans. In August, Australian Music Group Holdings, owner of the 30-store Allans Billy Hyde chain, was placed in voluntary administration.

“Originally [Fox] was a customer of mine and we just seemed to get on well. He wanted his grandkids to learn the piano,” says O’Connor.

Their long association eventually culminated in the Exclusive Piano Group, which sells mainly high-end pianos – with a focus on Steinways – to professional musicians, symphony orchestras, beginners and those who just appreciate the value of a handmade instrument that can be a year in the making.

“We estimate that about 60 per cent of our customers that buy a Steinway can’t play,” says O’Connor.

Lindsay Fox also belongs in that category.

“He absolutely loves music, he’s got an amazing memory and can start singing songs I’ve never even heard of,” says O’Connor. “He loves music, but he can’t play.”

The piano group is the only Steinway & Sons agent in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Steinway is considered one of the best pianos in the world, with artists who favour it including Billy Joel and Harry Connick jnr. Designed and handcrafted in Germany, each piano can take up to a year to make.

“With a Steinway, the whole philosophy of their pianos revolves around making the most of the sound vibrations in the piano,” says O’Connor.

Recently the group has sold pianos to the Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmanian symphony orchestras and Melbourne’s revamped Arts Centre.

“You can’t reopen a centre like the Arts Centre and have old pianos,” says O’Connor. “Generally a venue like that would like to have a piano that is less than five years old at any time.”

A customer recently snapped up a piano that had been played by Tony Bennett, Burt Bacharach, Herbie Hancock, Regina Spektor and jazz legend Chick Corea.

While Steinway pianos date back to 1853, they have not escaped the touch of the techies. In his store, O’Connor sells an iPad-operated system called the PianoDisc.

By selecting a song on the iPad, a customer can bring a virtual concert to life in their own lounge room. Like a very modern-day version of the pianola, the keys play of their own accord, while the artist’s voice booms out as if they were in the room. The system certainly impresses the punters, says O’Connor.

It’s all a dream gig for O’Connor, who started his career as an organ demonstrator at Brashs in Melbourne’s Northland shopping centre as a 15-year-old.

However, despite Fox’s backing, and access to his company’s infrastructure, such as lawyers, HR and payroll, the Exclusive Piano Group is a business much like any other.

“He doesn’t give me a dollar for free. The business has to pay its own way,” says O’Connor. “We’re not making millions of dollars, it’s not that kind of business’

The plan is to eventually have a store in each state.

“I believe there’s an opportunity for us to have a real influence in the Australian market.”

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


Is your money tied up?Picture this: a new client asks you to complete a job at short notice. You do the work, the client is happy, your invoice is sent, and a month later the bill remains unpaid. So you send a reminder email that goes unanswered, and follow up with a phone call that is not returned.
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You don’t want to push the matter too hard and damage a new relationship. As a small venture, you don’t have a lot of power or resources to take on late-paying big companies.

But you have bills to pay and can’t afford a client to threaten your company’s cash flow, or its survival. Eventually, the bill is paid three months later, and after several stressful time-wasting follow-ups. Or not at all.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the world of many small ventures, where getting paid sometimes feels like a lottery, and where getting paid on time is a luxury. A world where honest, hard-working business owners can go bust because a client treats them like a bank for several months.

Yes, there are plenty of stories about how small ventures can improve their cashflow management through smarter debt-collection procedures. To be sure, many of them are hopeless at chasing up overdue invoices, and in turn allow themselves to be treated like an ATM.

A bigger problem is when emerging companies are brainwashed to pay bills as late as possible – well beyond agreed terms – to improve their working capital.

For small ventures, paying bills late and making life torture for suppliers by stretching out payment is usually dumb business. It has a marginal effect on cash flow and damages supplier relationships and the firm’s brand.

I’d argue that firms that pay bills early – or even on time – create a huge competitive advantage through building stronger relationships with their suppliers. People want to work for the business and do a great job, because they appreciate early, reliable payment. They can spend more time on the work, rather than hassling clients to be paid.

It takes  52 days on average for businesses to be paid in, according to the latest trade payments data from credit-reporting agency Dun & Bradstreet. That’s down from a peak of 57.4 days during the GFC in 2009, but firms are still waiting more than three weeks longer than standard payment terms. Firms in New Zealand only wait an average 40 days to be paid.

D&B says 62 per cent of accounts in Australian are settled late and that about seven in 10 firms are concerned about their cash flow in coming months.

My guess is many small ventures wait considerably longer than 52 days to be paid. Their invoice terms – payment required within 14 or say 28 days – is little more than window dressing.

Rather than advise small companies how to be paid faster, the five tips below are for companies that take forever to pay their bills, or sometimes cannot pay them. Hopefully, the advice can help more late payers (some for reasons beyond their control) to better manage the process.

1. Be clear on payment terms: When commissioning work, ensure the supplier understands your payment terms and billing problems. Part of the problem is poor communication upfront: the supplier expects to be paid within 30 days, you only pay after 45 days, for example.

2. Ensure staff handle bills appropriately: Nothing frustrates suppliers more than staff in a big company sitting on a bill or refusing to forward it because it has low priority. If your staff commission and handle supplier invoices, ensure they know what is expected on receipt.

3. Be upfront: I had a late-paying client who refused to take my calls or answer emails about unpaid bills. It exacerbated the situation. Explain to suppliers if you are having trouble paying a bill and reasons why. Ask them to treat the information in confidence. That has to be better than letting suppliers think your firm is yet another that does not pay its bills and rips people off.

4. Be specific: Telling a supplier “I’ll pay you as soon as I can” is not good enough. Give a timetable, as best you can. Perhaps it involves part-payment of a bill over several months, as well as interest on the outstanding debt until repayment. Aim to pay as least some of the bill straight away if you can.

5. Do not confuse work and personal life: Never tell a supplier you cannot pay a bill because of a personal situation: an unexpected tax bill, personal financial problems, or a bad investment. It’s unprofessional and, in my experience, just inflames the situation. Blurring work and personal life only makes your firm look more inept in the eyes of suppliers who just want to get paid.

What’s your view?Does your business struggle to get paid on time by clients?How many of your clients often require at least one reminder before they pay?What is your worst experience of being paid late (no names, please).Is it getting harder to be paid on time?Do the benefits of paying suppliers early outweigh the costs?

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


A lawyer’s body has warned of a funding risk to the national disability insurance scheme.Australia’s Goods and Services Tax could be broadened or a Medicare-style levy considered to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a top lawyers’ body believes.
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The Australian Lawyers Alliance says Labor’s proposed $8 billion-plus NDIS is a necessary social reform but risks becoming financially unsustainable over the longer term unless it is both well-designed and given dedicated funding.

It also wants to see rigorous external pricing oversight, perhaps using the corporate and consumer watchdog, the ACCC, to guard against private insurers offloading risk to the public sector.

The group, which is not claiming specific economic expertise, argues the funding base of the proposed scheme must be realistically confronted because it is impossible to guarantee individual legal rights if those same rights later become hostage to limited funding.

ALA President Tony Kerin will give evidence on Tuesday to a Senate inquiry into the NDIS in Adelaide where he will argue the design and funding arrangements need to be fully worked out to ensure the integrity of the NDIS for generations to come.

He told Fairfax Media the New Zealand experience showed the scheme would be vulnerable to a constant tinkering and narrowing of entry criteria unless its future operating costs could be accurately forecast and funded.

The ALA also believes the way the scheme is being legislated is problematic.

In a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard before the Senate inquiry, Mr Kerin said the ALA opposed establishing it through ”shell” legislation, which left major design features to be set out in rules.

”The Bill grants power for ‘NDIS  Rules’ to be created, at any time, without any extensive parliamentary scrutiny of such rules,” Mr Kerin writes in the letter obtained by Fairfax Media.

”Insufficient clarity about what support people will receive, and what ‘reasonable and necessary support’ truly means, is another concern.

”We believe that this is liable to change in the future, under the NDIS Rules, unless people are protected by clearly defined legislation.

”It appears the individuals’ current legal rights may be suspended, or revoked, under the bill’s present wording – with potential catastrophic impact for people.”

The government has so far ruled out using a special levy to meet the scheme’s costs, but the ALA says merely funding its operation from consolidated revenue means it will always be buffeted by competing priorities and subject to contraction.

The government has not yet quantified how much the system will cost into the future but has allocated $1 billion for five introductory sites to begin operating from July 1.

It is consulting with interested groups as it works through initial design issues and will use the Senate inquiry to help inform its final design.

GST revenue, which is raised by the Commonwealth but provided directly to the states under the terms of its inception, is expected to collect about $54 billion next financial year.

However, discussion of either increasing its 10 per cent rate or broadening its incomplete scope to include fresh food for example, has been a political no-go zone since its inception in 2000.

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


As a young indigenous man sat in the dock of a north coast police station speaking to his mother, a police officer allegedly taunted him, making obscene gestures behind the woman’s back, the Police Integrity Commission has heard.
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The commission is investigating allegations that Corey Barker, 24, was assaulted at Ballina police station on January 14, 2011, after an altercation with police, and that officers then falsely accused the young man of assaulting them, giving sworn testimony to this effect in court.

Giving evidence during the second day of the commission on Tuesday, Mr Barker said that after being placed in the station’s perspex-walled dock in a distressed state, officers stood behind his mother and sought to aggravate him further.

“I remember an officer standing behind doing the gesture, pretending to squeeze her arse,” Mr Barker said.

“They were trying to aggravate me. I said ‘Mum! Look what they’re doing behind your back … It just kept going. I kept my cool for a bit, then I just lost it – started punching the glass.

“I was treated like a piece of garbage … of course I was going to be upset.”

CCTV footage of the alleged incident, played during Tuesday’s hearing, did not show police taunting the young man. But the footage did show him seeming to react angrily to something happening off screen, and his mother turning around to look behind her.

Mr Barker repeatedly jumps to his feet and bangs the Perspex screen with his fist, while his mother appears to be attempting to calm him down.

Earlier in the hearing, Mr Barker described the circumstances of the altercation outside Tamar shopping centre that led to his initial arrest.

The 24-year-old said he and his friend, Byron Nolan, had started running towards what he thought was a domestic incident after hearing a young woman in distress, to discover that two of his friends were in a physical altercation with a number of men.

“I’ve yelled out, ‘Hey! Oi,’ but just nothing – I don’t know if they even heard what I said,” Mr Barker said.

“I got my phone out [to film them] … next minute I’m tumbling, head over heels onto the ground.”

He said that officers placed a knee in his back and an elbow into the back of his neck, as he struggled to get up.

“I just kept hearing the words ‘stop resisting, stop resisting’…”

On Monday, the commission heard allegations that a female friend of Mr Barker was slammed into a gutter during a violent arrest.

The hearing continues.

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