Monthly Archives: July 2019

Seal rejoins The Voice Australia as Channel Nine reveals its 2017 TV schedule

Back in the red chair: Seal on The Voice Australia. Photo: Nine Delta Goodrem has appeared on The Voice for five of its six seasons to date.
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Australian Ninja Warrior host Rebecca Maddern with contestants, husband and wife team Zac and Amanda. Photo: Steven Siewert

Karl Stefanovic will front This Time Next Year, as well as co-hosting Today with Lisa Wilkinson. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Hamish & Andy will have a new show on Nine but details are being kept under wraps. Photo: Nine

Returning: House Husbands (from left) Firass Dirani, Rhys Muldoon and Gary Sweet. Photo: Steven Siewert

Could Seal be the voice to turn around the fortunes of Nine’s flagship talent show?

The British singer who led 2012 and 2013 winners Karise Eden and Harrison Craig to success is heading back to Australia for 2017’s season of The Voice in a move hoped to boost the show’s declining ratings in recent years.

Seal will be back alongside fellow coach Delta Goodrem who has signed up for her sixth season on the show, with Sonia Kruger also back on board as host.

Seal’s return has been announced as part of Nine’s wider programming plans for next year, with the network promising its biggest focus yet on local content and largest ever local production budget.

Goodrem, speaking from Perth where she is currently on tour, said she welcomed the return of Seal, the hugely popular coach who first appeared on The Voice in its first season in 2012.

“Seal has been a part of it since the inception and I can’t wait for him to get back in his big red chair,” Goodrem said. “After coming from a win on The Voice this year [with her act Alfie Arcuri], Seal has won it the two years he was on the show so it will be a big challenge to come up against Seal again, but I’m truly looking forward to having my friend back.”

There’s no word as yet as to the identity of the other two coaches, but Goodrem said she welcomed her chance to return to the show.

“From day one, there was just something in the air that felt really special about it,” she said. “It felt like we were all together, between the crew, between the network, between us coaches that are artists that have lived and breathed music our whole lives, we felt like we had the one intention to really bring light to music in Australia.”

The network is promising 500 hours of locally produced entertainment viewing with 50 hours of local drama, with a rough and ready focus across the board.

Nine’s biggest punt is on what it says will be it’s number one family entertainment show for next year. Australian Ninja Warrior, a long-running Japanese format being brought here for the first time, will be hosted by the AFL Footy Show’s Rebecca Maddern and features a “fitness elite” competing on the toughest of outdoor sports courses.

Host Maddern said she expects it to be an exhilarating show. “I am so delighted to be a part of it – it is everything that I love – it is sport, entertainment and this is family friendly viewing. The family is going to gather around the TV and be a part of it,” she said.

Its 250 contestants, drawn out of a pool of 3000, are shortly to begin filming on the show’s ‘Ninja Island’, an undisclosed location.

Nine is also attempting a fresh take on a food show with Family Food Fight where multi-generational families will compete for the title of Australia’s greatest food family.

Karl Stefanovic is to front an “inspirational” new series titled This Time Next Year, where everyday Aussies attempt to achieve huge personal goals.

At first glance it seems an uneven offering, with participants pledging resolutions ranging from the monumental such as a man committed to losing 100 kilograms and a mobility impaired person who wants to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the superficial such as getting a boob job.

Other familiar figures on the schedule will include Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, who return to Nine with a new series, details of which remain under wraps.

Other new reality shows include The Last Resort: Love Me or Leave Me, where five couples at breaking point head to a relationship bootcamp on a tropical island.

Returning will be the controversial Married at First Sight, which will double in number next year to pairing 10 couples.

In line with other networks, Nine is continuing the trend for biopics with the House of Bond miniseries telling the colourful story of businessman Alan Bond, starring Ben Mingay, Rachael Taylor and Sam Neill.

Underbelly is making a return, but focussing entirely on Mark “Chopper” Read in Underbelly Files: Chopper, the franchise revisiting thecharacter it previously portrayed in 2009’s Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.

Also returning is Doctor Doctor, getting its second season next year, alongside Here Come the Habibs, Love Child and House Husbands.

The Block – which has its grand finale on Sunday – will also be making a return.

Missing off the roster for next year so far, however, is Australia’s Got Talent, which has seemingly been put out of its misery after eight seasons, and Reno Rumble, which died in the water earlier this year.

Other new offerings include Travel Guides, where ordinary Australians act as travel guides trying out the same long-haul and domestic trips with mixed results.

A true-crime series, Murder Calls, is also on the cards and revisits Australian cases and the investigators that took them on.

Richard Wilkins is also to present a new entertainment show The A List, featuring in-depth interviews with famous names.

Border Force bosses score $6400 pay rise

Michael Pezzullo, secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe Immigration Department has responded to a rejection by its workforce of a proposed new workplace deal by handing its senior executives a pay rise worth up to $6400 a year.
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About 186 members of the department’s “senior executive service” have been given a 2 per cent pay rise by departmental secretary Mike Pezzullo the day after more than 10,000 of Immigration’s public servants voted to reject a proposed new deal.

The department says the executives have been waiting for a pay rise for as long as the rank-and-file, who have not had an scheduled increase since 2013, nor did the high-flyers get a chance to vote on their pay and conditions.

The new deal will be worth an extra $6400 a year to a senior executive at the top of the elite band 3 level, taking their pay to more than $326,400 per year.

The department’s annual report shows just more than $47 million was spent by DIBP on senior management remuneration in 2015-2016, including salaries, vehicles, redundancies, superannuation and other benefits.

Mr Pezzullo and Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg will not be included in the new round of pay rises.

Their pay packages, of $605,000 and $731,000 respectively, are set by the Remuneration Tribunal.

After Monday’s no-vote on the proposed pay deal for the department’s 13,300 rank-and-file public servants which would have paid an average of 2 per cent per year for the three-year deal, the dispute now enters a period of uncertainty.

The parties must submit to compulsory arbitration at the Fair Work Commission in a process that will be keenly watched across Commonwealth workplaces where about 97,000 public servants from a total workforce of about 150,000, have still not got new enterprise agreements in place.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman said the SES had been waiting a long time for their pay rise too and, unlike of their colleagues, had not had a chance to vote on a pay deal.

“SES pay rises in the department generally occur after EA negotiations have concluded,” she said.

SES, like all employees have been awaiting the outcome of EA negotiations

“The general pay increase of 3 per cent offered to staff in the first year of a new EA has been voted down by a majority of staff, and a further delay will occur while an arbitrated outcome is determined by the Fair Work Commission.

“SES employees are not covered by the department’™s enterprise agreement or the collective bargaining process and have not had a say on the quantum or timing of any pay rises.

“In these circumstances, the secretary has decided to apply a 2 per cent increase to SES.”

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood described the SES pay rises as a “slap in the face” for frontline Immigration officials.

“This is yet another slap in the face to the frontline Immigration and Border Force staff working to combat terrorism and organised crime,” she said.

“How can the department possibly justify giving a no-strings-attached pay rise to its highest paid executives while most frontline staff have their pay frozen and some even face pay cuts?”

Central Coast Mariners consider Canberra Stadium as potential A-League finals venue

Ivan Slavich is hoping a big crowd turns out to see the Central Coast Mariners play at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Elesa KurtzIn a sign of the Central Coast Mariners’ commitment to making Canberra their home away from home, they’re considering playing any potential A-League finals games in the nation’s capital, says former A-League4Canberra bid leader Ivan Slavich.
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​And while FFA boss David Gallop told Fairfax Media a crowd of 10,000 was a pass mark for Canberra Stadium, Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp says it’s not about a “one-match pass or fail”, but laying the “foundations” for them to become accepted as the ACT’s team.

The Mariners will play the first of two A-League games at Canberra Stadium on Saturday, against the Wellington Phoenix, with the second against reigning champions Adelaide United in February.

This weekend’s game will be part of a double-header with the W-League clash between Canberra United and Melbourne City.

Slavich raised $5 million to try and bring an A-League club to Canberra, but has now joined forces with the Mariners as their business development ambassador in the ACT.

He said the Mariners, who continue to be plagued by financial woes, were committed to making Canberra Stadium a long-term home and revealed it wasn’t just regular-season games that were on the table.

“If they got into a final it’s quite possible they would play the final in Canberra and not on the Central Coast,” Slavich told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“That’s how much they’re committed and serious about Canberra being their market.”

Slavich said the Mariners were now Canberra’s best chance of hosting regular A-League games and encouraged the nation’s capital to come out in force on Saturday.

With Gallop and FFA chairman Steven Lowy set to be at the match, Slavich was concerned Canberrans might not realise how important voting with their feet was in terms of having high-quality games in the future.

He pointed to the success Greater Western Sydney has had in bringing AFL games to Manuka Oval as Canberra’s best chance of ensuring the A-League had a future there.

“People in Canberra keep talking about an A-League team and this is the first time we’ve had an A-League side play [here] since 2009, which is the last time the Mariners played,” he said.

“This is our A-League ticket … the concern I have is if the football community keeps going, ‘this is not our team, we go for the Wanderers and we go for other teams’, then we’ll forever be in this vortex of no elite football in Canberra other than the odd Socceroos game.”

Mielekamp said the Mariners wanted to “make a genuine difference to the football community in the ACT”, which is why they were not only playing games at Canberra Stadium but establishing a pathway for players by providing opportunities to join their A-League squad.

While Gallop indicated a crowd in excess of 10,000 would be a pass mark for the Mariners-Phoenix game, Mielekamp said it was more about establishing a “core group of support”.

He said with Remembrance Day falling on Friday, players would pay their respects to the armed forces with ceremonies before the game – including the Last Post and a minute’s silence – as well as wearing a specially designed jersey.

The club will also be raising money for the RSL.

“We’re not as dictated by setting a particular number, it’s probably more of a quality rather than a quantity scenario for us,” Mielekamp said.

“We’d be really excited by a decent crowd that’s really passionate and understood the game and was highly engaged with the sport.

“That would be really good for us and a sign that there is a core group of support that is there to grow from.

“We’re not looking at this as a one-match, pass-or-fail opportunity, we’re really looking … to set up something long-term that can really grow.

“It’s not about how many people come to the game on the weekend, it’s about how many people come to A-League games in five years.”

The Mariners will arrive in Canberra on Thursday evening and will train at Canberra Stadium on Friday.

A-LEAGUE ROUND 5

Saturday: Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix at Canberra Stadium, 5.35pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

W-LEAGUE ROUND 2

Saturday: Canberra United v Melbourne City at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets available at Ticketek.

US election 2016: Voting on a Tuesday? Americans cling to an antiquated oddity

A polling official walks past voting booths in Lancaster, Ohio. Photo: TY WRIGHT Artist Pedro Reyes with his installation Doomocracy in New York. Photo: Seth Wenig
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Of all the strange things about the US election – and strange barely begins to describe the current madness – the idea of voting on a Tuesday remains distinctly odd.

Imagine juggling a day’s work, dropping the kids at childcare or school and picking them up, shopping for dinner, cooking, and somehow, amid all this, lining up at a polling booth to do one’s democratic duty.

In a nation where voting isn’t compulsory, is there any surprise that not much more than half the nation’s eligible voters actually bother?

Just 53 per cent of eligible voters – 129 million out of a potential 241 million –  turned out at the last presidential election in 2012.

That left the US dangling at 31st out of 35 of the most democratic nations in  the OECD, according to a study by the Pew Research Centre.

But why vote on a Tuesday?

It makes no sense at all in the 21st century. Tuesday is a working day.

It wasn’t so much in 1845, which is when Congress chose “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November” (which makes the earliest date November 2 and the latest November 8, which happens to be voting day this year).

Americans, being Americans, have never got around to changing the edict. Perhaps they imagine it’s in their apparently sacred constitution – though it’s not.

But why was a Tuesday in early November chosen those 171 years ago?

The best explanation available is on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

America, it explains, was a predominantly agrarian nation for much of its history. The autumn harvest was over in November and the weather was still mild enough in much of the nation to allow travel over unimproved roads.

And Tuesday? It took many people a full day to travel to the county seat to vote. They couldn’t leave on Sunday, because of the need to worship at church, so Tuesday was chosen to give voters the chance to travel on Monday.

And the first Tuesday after the first Monday of the month?

It forced the election beyond November 1, which was All Saints Day – a day of holy obligation for Catholics. Besides, most merchants did their books for the preceding month on the first day of the month.

“Apparently,” the election commission notes dryly, “Congress was worried that the economic success or failure of the previous month might prove an undue influence on the vote!”

All of which is very quaint.

America, apparently, still likes quaint more than common sense.

Australians are haggling over whitegoods but hesitant with bills and home loans

The average saving from haggling on whitegoods was found to be $139. Photo: Dominic LorrimerAustralians are comfortably haggling over fridges and dishwashers and enjoying big savings, but are less assertive when it comes to their bills and banking products, a new study shows.
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A survey of more than 1000 shoppers found 60 per cent had tried negotiating a better price on a whitegood and, of those, 94 per cent had won a discount. The average saving was $139.

While haggling over a home loan could lead to savings equal to a year’s worth of salary, less than half said they had asked for a better rate – but among those who did, 77 per cent succeeded.

“After whitegoods, Aussies are most likely to ask for discounts on home loans, and their efforts are being rewarded with successful home loan hagglers saving close to $1000 on average,” said Kirsty Lamont of comparison website Mozo, which commissioned the survey.

“Consumers are least likely to ask for a discount on internet and mobile plans, with just a quarter attempting to haggle. However, the majority who do ask are successful with combined savings over $150.”

Australians are more likely to haggle over whitegoods (average saving $139), home loan ($968) and car insurance ($99), and less likely to try with mobile phones ($75), internet plans ($78) and pay TV ($85).

The research also found male shoppers are better hagglers, saving 60 per cent more than women even though just as many female shoppers ask for and obtain discounts.

Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon from The Money Mentor Way, said banks made their home loan rates appear competitive using “big, fancy signs” and that consumers should always ask for discounts, especially if they’re after $500,000 or more.

“We’re quite law abiding and we follow the retail rules and in particular the banking rules and when it comes to haggling there’s this concept of engineered legitimacy – the more official a vendor makes prices look, the more likely you are to swallow them,” said Ms Pedersen-McKinnon, also a Fairfax columnist.

“But the more you borrow, the bigger discount you can command. Even if it isn’t a big amount, knowledge is power, know the deals of their competitors.”

According to her calculations, the average monthly saving from getting a 1 per cent mortgage discount – from the average advertised big bank rate of 5.25 per cent – on a $363,300 loan would be $209, or more than $2500 a year.

“To someone who thinks this is all too hard, this saving is probably equivalent on your home loan to one year of your salary over the lifetime of the mortgage,” she said.

“Civility is key. Arm yourself with information and then be clear, calm and compelling. I just knocked $200 off my house insurance premium as a result of a very amicable chat with the consultant.”

Consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said being an effective haggler required time and persistence.

He said negotiations should start with a polite question about whether the retailer is open to negotiation and the customer should go through with the deal.

“You can haggle over furniture, beds, consumer durables essentially because retailers have to shift stuff,” he said.

“We do not live in a fixed price universe. We’re given the impression of that. You can ask and if they decline, take your business elsewhere.” How to haggleDo your research: Compare prices so you know what rates or fees are on offer and tell the provider they’ll have to beat the best offer to get your business.Don’t accept the first offer: Always ask if the initial discount you’re offered is the best they can do.Use your bargaining power: Ask if you can get a bigger discount by bringing your credit card to the bank or bundling your mobile, internet and pay TV.Don’t limit yourself to haggling on rates: You can also ask for discounts or waiver on fees or for extra features to be added for free.Prepare to bluff: Tell your provider you’ll walk away so they know you’re serious about getting the best deal.

(Source: Mozo)

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