Four teams fighting it out for final two spots

The Bowls North West Thursday Pennant roster is set for a thrilling final-round conclusion next week after the penultimate round saw some exciting finishes.
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Penguin have climbed back to the top of the ladder after a tense 69-64 win at Latrobe, who now hang on to fourth position by shots only.

The final margin on all three rinks never exceeded three shots, with the Blues grabbing 10 points from the day thanks to a 23-20 win from Lyn Franklin over Erin Sesara and a 24-21 victory by Karen Redman against Janine Thompson.

Latrobe picked up a valuable two points when Shiron Beavis edged out Maxine Eaton 23-22.

Winning roll: Penguin’s Annette Yaxley on the mat during her team’s win over Latrobe on Thursday. Picture: Paul Scambler.

The biggest shock of the day was at Ulverstone, where the home team handedformer ladder leaders Wynyard a 64-44 drubbing.

The visitors looked on track for a productive day when Dee Harman proved too strong for Janice Clarke 24-19, but that deficit was easily wiped out by Helen Maxwell and Kerry Bebbington, who triumphed by 16 and nine shots respectively over Pam Cox and Chyril Nolan.

South Burnie dragged itself back into finals contention, but only just, with a tense 54-53 win against Devonport.

Things weren’t looking good for South Burnie after Jan Kerrison fell 16-18 to Jenny Dargavel and Gwenda Stewart went down 16-22 to Robyn Bassett.

But Maureen Feltham’s rink came to the rescue, easily defeating Christine Baldock 22-13 and grabbing eight points to put them just behind Latrobe.

Sheffield remain in sixth spot but firmly in contention for a post-season berth following its huge 88-42 victory against an undermannedViewmont.

Judy Hope set up the sizable margin when she defeated Maree Brown 39-9, with Carina Daly not far behind in a 31-12 win over Mavis Norris.

Barbara Loane was the only shining light on a dark day for Viewmont, getting the better of Marilyn Burke 22-18.

The final game of the round saw wooden-spooners Smithton make a successful trip to Port Sorell, winning 63-59.

Karen Neilson and Patsy Medwin were the winning rinks for the visitors, while Jan Marshall’s rink had seven shots in hand over Julie Oatesby the end of the afternoon.

With Penguin and Wynyard sewing up the top two spots, the key games in the lastround see Devonport host Latrobe, with the loser a realistic chance to miss out on finals altogether.

Sheffield’s hopes rely on them beating the in-formUlverstone, while South Burnie will be favourites to defeat Smithton on the road.

Ladder:Penguin 131, Wynyard 130, Devonport 116, Latrobe 115, South Burnie 115, Sheffield 110, Ulverstone 100, Port Sorell 76, Viewmont 73, Smithton 54.

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Morrison ponders way to put tens of millions into community housing

The Coalition government is considering the creation of a new affordable housing finance corporation to kick-start tens of millions of dollars in investment in community housing, in one of several major initiatives being examined for the federal budget.
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Work has been under way for months on new ways to fund community housing, using a so-called “bond aggregator” model, based on an approach taken in Britain.

Research on a bond aggregator model by the housing think-tank, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, went to state and federal governments last December and the federal government will now create an implementation taskforce that will take charge of the plan.

Fairfax Media has been told by senior government sources the taskforce will closely examine the bond aggregator proposal, among others, to create an Affordable Housing Finance Corporation.

The institute’s proposal would see the Corporation source large amounts of capital from the bond market – starting from $50 to $200 million – and then provide longer-term, lower-interest loans to the community housing sector.

Community housing providers, which provide affordable properties to rent, typically pay higher interest rates and have shorter terms in which to repay loans.

By assessing and then combining a series of loan applications from community housing groups, an AHFC could raise large sums of money at lower rates and for longer terms and then distribute the money, while lowering costs for community housing groups.

That, in turn, could kick-start the building of hundreds of new community houses at the lower end of the market, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, and would assist people struggling to find an affordable home to rent.

Crucially, the AHFC would enjoy the backing of the federal government’s balance sheet, but the proposal would not cost the federal government money – unless a provider defaulted on the loan.

Treasurer Scott Morrison will discuss the proposal with his state and territory counterparts in Canberra on Friday week.

And Mr Morrison is scheduled to deliver a major speech to the research institute in Melbourne on April 10, less than a month before the May budget is handed down, which will focus on the government’s plans for the community housing sector.

Several government sources told Fairfax Media the institute’s proposal to create a new housing finance corporation was being looked at closely, and that the Treasurer was “very engaged in this, he is very directly involved in its construction”.

Mr Morrison has signalled the May budget will have a range of policy measures designed to tackle housing affordability, both for renters and for first home buyers, and in January ahead of a trip to study the British system, he hinted he was interested in implementing a similar government-backed bond vehicle.

Senior government ministers are still at loggerheads over whether to reduce capital gains tax concessions for housing, with Mr Morrison in favour and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann opposed to any change.

“Rent to buy” and shared equity housing models, both of which are used in Britain, are also being examined.

Another proposed to allow first-time buyers to use their superannuation as a home deposit has been discussed, though apparently the government has now cooled on this proposal.

In addition, the government has signalled that a separate pot of government money for affordable housing, the National Affordable Housing Agreement, could be scrapped with a savings of about $1.3 billion a year in payments to the states.

The last meeting of state and federal treasurers in December flagged the creation of the affordable housing taskforce. It is due to report back to the heads of state and federal treasuries by mid-2017.

Governments across Australia spend close to $11 billion a year on affordable and social housing, and Mr Morrison has said he is determined to ensure the money is better spent.

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Attacking the poor is lazy and cynical politics

So, Andrew Broad wants to cut welfare to help balance our budget?
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No one who pays tax wants to see our money squandered, and certainly any welfare excesses need to be addressed. I agree anyone who is capable of working should be working and our reliance on welfare in this country needs to be reined in.

However, Mr Broad represents the fourth poorest electorate in Australia, all our social indicators are significantly worse than state/national averages and unemployment, especially among youth, is a major problem.

Targeting the most vulnerable to balance a budget is cynical and lazy politics.

The National Party has consistently blocked any attempts to make our tax system fairer by blocking attempts to address wealthy perks like superannuation, negative gearing and capitals gains tax concessions, and yet has the gall to attack the most vulnerable (and easy) targets, like pensioners, disabled and genuinely unemployed.

And its methods are insidious. They squeeze the payments a little here and there, toughen the eligibility rules a little here and there, reduce public school funding, squeeze public health funding and the list goes on.

The net result is that the poor and vulnerable, and the working middle class again take on the burden of balancing the budget. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class is disappearing. The latest OECD report on wealth inequality is disturbing and a poor indictment on a wealthy (for some) country like ours.

The National Party needs to get out of dream land and let Malcolm Turnbull lead the way he promised before being hamstrung by the Nats.

The Nationals must also realise that by far the majority of the Australians believe in fair middle ground policies and that the far right and extreme left are by far a minority – leave extremism to

Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernadi.

Stop sabotaging good governance for an ideology that benefits very few.

Tony Alessi,

Mildura

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Tedesco eyes No.1 status

James Tedesco has set himself the goal of becoming the NRL’s premier fullback by the end of the season, eyeing Darius Boyd’s Australian No.1 jersey for the World Cup.
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The Wests Tigers superstar has given no indication as to why he cannot achieve his target, starting the season in scintillating form as he edges closer to becoming the game’s next million-dollar man.

“I want to be the top fullback in the game,” Tedesco said. “That’s my goal this year. With [Darius] Boyd there, he’s held down that spot for a few years now and has done a good job, so I’ll have to be on top of my game to get past him.”

Tedesco is front-runner for the Blues fullback jumper he wore in NSW’s victory in game three.

On Sunday he will take on the man he replaced in the NSW line-up, Matt Moylan, who slotted into the halves due to Tedesco’s selection for the dead rubber last year.

While Moylan is Tedesco’s biggest competitor for the Blues No.1 jersey, the Tigers fullback insists Sunday afternoon’s mouth-watering showdown at Campbelltown won’t be viewed as an Origin shootout.

“Last year we played the Panthers before game three and there’s always talk about that,” Tedesco said.

“I try and not let it get to me. I think if I think about that, I won’t play my natural game. I came out and had a good game and had a good win that game. Hopefully I can do the same this time.

“Me and Matty, we play off-the-cuff footy and play at our best when we we’re just roaming around playing footy and looking for options. It’ll be a good competition going up against Matty. We know he’s a big indicator for them, so we’ll definitely have to watch them.”

Moylan finished the year strongly and was rewarded for his form at the Panthers by getting the nod ahead of Tedesco on Australia’s Four Nations tour.

While Moylan’s versatility no doubt played in his favour, Tedesco said his chances of playing for the Kangaroos were dealt a huge blow when a concussion prematurely ended his audition during the Prime Minister’s XIII game in Papua New Guinea before the squad was announced.

“I only played 30 minutes in that Prime Minister’s game,” Tedesco said. “If I had played the full 80 that would have held me in good stead for selection. But obviously I got concussed and only played 30 minutes, so I wasn’t in the best position anyway.

“[Moylan] does have that versatility, which puts him in good stead for those selections. I obviously want to play for Australia, but there’s plenty of time. I’m only 24, so there’s plenty of time to make that side.”

The Panthers were humiliated against the Dragons in the opening round and failed to live up to the pre-season hype.

The Tigers, on the other hand, were impressive in their win over South Sydney, but are reluctant to read too much into the Panthers’ woes ahead of their meeting on Sunday.

“They probably came out thinking the way they finished the year last year, they could just go into the groove again,” Tedesco said of the Panthers.

“It will probably take them a while to get into that free-flowing footy that they performed last year. I think it’s just blowing out a few cobwebs firstly. The way they play, they are going to make a few errors as well. We don’t expect them to play as bad as they did last week. We expect them to come out firing, so that’s how we’re preparing.”

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Marcs and David Lawrence sale of its stores complicated

The sale of collapsed fashion brands Marcs and David Lawrence is being hampered by owner and major creditor Malcolm Webster’s security over assets, including the chains’ stock holdings, according to potential buyers.
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Administrator Rodgers Reidy confirmed Mr Webster, an experienced retailer who co-founded UK fashion chain Jigsaw, had a “general security” over the assets of the two companies, M. Webster Holdings and Webster Asset which operate the Marcs and David Lawrence chains in Australia and New Zealand, employing more than 1100 workers.

Marcs and David Lawrence fell into administration in February under the weight of debts totalling more than $30 million, including $12 million owed to Mr Webster.

Geoffrey Reidy, director of Rodgers Reidy, would not go as far as saying the security arrangement was making the sale difficult but he said it was “certainly a relevant fact”.

“Malcolm is in effect the bank in this matter,” Mr Reidy said.

One potential buyer said Mr Webster’s security over the brands’ stock was a significant, complicating factor.

“No one can do a deal without him [Malcolm Webster] because he has a security over the inventory,” one retail insider said.

“You could buy the operating companies but he could take all his inventory out. The legal structure affords the current owner an undue level of protection in my opinion.”

A number of parties have already run the ruler over the brand with analysts suggesting the Marcs operation has the best prospect of survival however Rodgers Reidy has already announced the shut-down of the brands’ 10 New Zealand stores.

Rodgers Reidy claims a “handful” of parties are currently in talks with it over the brands however Mr Reidy said it was not at a point where it could present offers to the secured creditor, Mr Webster.

He could not say how quickly these talks will progress. “I’d like to be able to give staff some certainty today but we are in uncertain territory, I’m hopeful we will be able to give them more certainty next week,” Mr Reidy said.

Retail analysts aren’t optimistic a buyer will emerge for both brands as the Australian apparel sector battles the twin pressures of flat wages growth and increasing competition from the global apparel heavyweights such as Zara, H&M and Uniqlo.

A rash of retail collapses, including Payless Shoes, Pumpkin Patch and Herringbone since December threatens to push more than 4000 workers onto the unemployment line and analysts warn there is more pain to come as traders battle to balance rising utility bills with flat or declining sales growth.

More than 40 workers will lose their jobs when the New Zealand Marcs and David Lawrence stores shut down in the next few months after a firesale of the remaining stock.

The brands have been trading in New Zealand for more than a decade and Rodgers Reidy said stock would be immediately marked down.

“While the New Zealand stores of Marcs and David Lawrence are closing permanently we are dealing with interested parties in respect to the sale of the Australian business and we are continuing to trade out of the 177 Marcs and David Lawrence stores,” Rodgers Reidy’s Andrew Barnden said.

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