Mother Nature blows Sia’s cover

Australian singer Sia Furler’s cover was blown at an outdoor gig in Colorado on Wednesday and she has no one to blame but Mother Nature. Photo: Gary Miller Sia looked like she didn’t give a damn and carried on singing while a dancer performed. Photo: Jason Bahr
Shanghai night field

Sia reveals reason she wears wigsSia Furler: Australia’s empress of pop

She goes to great lengths to mask her mug so she can live as a celebrity in relative anonymity, but Australian singer Sia Furler’s cover was blown this week, and she has no one to blame but Mother Nature.

A gust of wind blew by the 40-year-old on Wednesday night at an outdoor gig in Colorado lifting her face-length black and blonde fringe to reveal… her face.

Standing on a white box in the middle of the stage wearing a chic white, collarless shirt dress and one of her favourite oversized white bows, the laid-back Chandelier singer looked as if she couldn’t care less and continued on belting out the tune.

Sia, who performs as well as writes hits for other artists including Rihanna, Flo Rida and David Guetta, usually opts for face shielding wigs or hats when on stage, but has also been known to stand with her back to the audience.

The Adelaide-born star explained to The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year her reasoning for her disguises: “Well, it’s so that I can go to Target and buy a hose if I want to. Or if I’m in need of a restroom and I can’t find one, I could go by the side of the road.”

She elaborated to Late Late Show host James Corden the show’s Carpool Karaoke segment in February that she found fame destabilising as someone who previously battled drug addiction.

“I don’t wear this if there aren’t cameras around. I only wear this to maintain a modicum of privacy,” she said.

“I was a singer for like 10 or 11 years to mediocre success, and I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.

“I sobered up and decided I didn’t want to be an artist anymore, because I was starting to become a little bit famous, and it was destabilising in some way.

“So I thought, ‘What doesn’t exist in pop music at the moment?’ And it was mystery. I was like, ‘There’s pictures on Instagram of everyone at the dentist.'”

Today, Furler lives in LA and is happily married to documentary maker, Erik Anders Lang.

You do you, Sia.

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Election 2016: What 48 Australian executives want

PM Malcolm Turnbull, right, with CEO of On-Market BookBuilds Ben Bucknell. Bucknell says: “It’s critical that government leaders are aware of the fast-moving and complex nature of cyber crime, with advancing technologies and applications, privacy and cyber-threats all converging.” Photo: Dallas Kilponen Martin Hosking of Redbubble: “An entrepreneurial culture is actually about taking on entrenched interests and entrenched ways of doing things. As we have seen this will be resisted from groups as diverse as the coal lobby to the music and media and banking industries … Australia has had so few genuine tech successes because change is so vehemently resisted.” Photo: Ben Rushton
Shanghai night field

Taryn Williams, co-founder and CEO of The Right.Fit. “During this election there has been a lot of posturing around commitments to innovation and entrepreneurship from the current government, and policy makers should prioritise translating this into action.” Photo: Christopher Pearce

OpenAgent co-founders Zoe Pointon, left, and Marta Higuera. Pointon says: “We would like to see less tax and financial burdens for startups, beginning with funding matching for early stage startups to provide a growth boost, eliminating the payroll tax for high growth companies and providing tax breaks for those who are working at early stage/high growth companies to make salaries more competitive.” Photo: James Alcock

Kate Morris of Adore Beauty. “I’d like to see policy makers from both sides put together a bipartisan plan for an apolitical NBN that (a) gives the necessary infrastructure for future innovation in this country, and (b) actually gets executed.” Photo: Supplied

Square country manager Ben Pfisterer: “Marriage equality for Australians needs faster action by policy makers to ensure we’re building not only a world-class economic environment, yet also ensuring we continue to work towards a society void of discriminatory prejudice.” Photo: Peter Braig

Bridget Loudon, founder of Expert360, in the US. “I would like to see the government do more to attract the world’s best tech talent to Australia. And we need to get more smart kids studying tech subjects in school and university.” Photo: Supplied

On July 2, Australians will head to the polling booths to determine the 45th parliament of Australia.

On the table in this election is the NBN, company tax, skills migration, innovation and other such policies that could play a significant role in the future of Australian business.

Business Insider reached out to successful Australian executives to find out what they want from policy makers heading into the federal election.

From a focus on STEM, to an inspirational leader, cybersecurity, innovation and talent acquisition, here’s what’s on the wishlists of some of the country’s finest business leaders. 1. Kate Adams Founder and CEO of Thankly

If we really want an ideas and innovation boom in Australia, we need more women at the top tiers of science and technology as well as on our boards. Diversity underlies innovation and currently we still have a situation where our girls have fewer options than our boys on boards and at senior levels in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries (STEM).

Women entrepreneurs often start with less capital and have a harder time accessing capital – it’s still very much a boys’ club. Women founders are often set up to fail – or at very least, unable to scale and it means a huge proportion of our great thinkers, are subtly and pervasively pushed out.

One of the biggest fallacies is that it’s just a ‘career pipeline’ issue. It isn’t – the problem is a lot more complex. And I believe we need policy makers to take a more ‘hands on’ role when it comes to enforcing strategies for change.

I would like to see a commitment that extends current policy around supporting investors and startups to supporting girls and women in the same space, with a greater focus on education, resources and funding. 2. Tim Reed CEO of MYOB

Small business is often the forgotten voice in policy debates, so it is great to see in recent years there has been a real focus on supporting small businesses with some proactive tax policy (instant asset write off and reduction in company taxes) and a focus on making regulation better for start-ups with the government’s Innovation Statement last year.

What’s next? First, a number of these important initiatives still need to be passed in the parliament. Following on from there, it is critical that the government continue to look for ways to lower the cost of compliance for small businesses. Simplifying the BAS, which was announced in the budget this year, is a great place to start, but simplifying reporting of payroll information, and moving to a nationwide e-invoicing standard would both be big steps forward. Standardisation of payroll tax across the nation, and including it as part of the BAS would also be a welcome move. 3. Andre Eikmeier Co-founder and joint CEO of Vinomofo

I care less about the economic policies promised, to be honest. Not that they’re not important, but I think as a nation, like a business, your people have to believe in your vision as a leader, and be proud of what they’re a part of. Plus our parties have a tendency to flip, so sure, a few people either way will have it a little better or worse off, but we have a far more pressing problem as a nation: We’ve lost pride and faith in our nation and our leaders.

I want a leader who gives us something to believe in again. Something to feel proud of.

I want to see us pull our heads out of the sand and get back in line with the more progressive nations of the world in terms of commitment to renewable energies, and basic humanity.

Until we get this stuff right, and stop this ridiculous conservative, bigoted stance on eg: gay marriage, detention centres, coal power – then we’re not going to stimulate national pride by giving lucky people like me tax breaks.

That’s pretty much where I stand, heading in to an uninspiring election. 4. Deeps De Silva Head of marketing Asia-Pacific and Japan at Dropbox

Gender equality in the workplace is an issue that needs to be addressed by the government. I would like to see policy makers engage with industry and gender equality advocates in open forums, and commit to creating real change around workplace diversity. Implementing equal pay for men and women is an imperative first step, however we also need to see parties come together to work on initiatives that create supportive environments for women, as well as look to remove unconscious bias from workplaces. Women make up more than half of the population, however they are underrepresented across many sectors, including the tech sector.

We need to invest in education and programs which empower women and girls to pursue STEM careers as well as teach respect for women from a young age. Recent initiatives around investing in programs to encourage women and girls to learn how to code, or continue with STEM-based higher education is fantastic, however I would like to see the elected government continue and build on these actions. We need to look to world leaders such as Canada as examples and build on our efforts to create equal opportunity for men and women to pursue successful careers. 5. Tim Bentley Country manager at Proofpoint

Being a leading worldwide cybersecurity company operating in Australia, we fully support and welcome the Liberal government’s Cyber Security Strategy announced in April.

Investing in cyber security is an imperative innovative given the massive economic cost to Australians. We also need the Labor Party thinking about this. We need to ensure we learn from advanced countries like the United States and Israel to learn more about how other nations protect their citizens against cyber attacks.

We are a nation of smart, well-educated and technology-aware citizens with some of the brightest minds in the cybersecurity space. The private sectors in Australia, already take Cyber Security extremely seriously and with the Liberal government’s new Cyber Security Strategy, will only strengthen our borders against malicious intent. 6. Trent Innes Managing director of Xero Australia

Reduce friction between government and small business: Australia continues to have a highly rigorous but complex and often burdensome tax system that requires businesses and their advisers to spend hours to ensure they’re compliant with all the rules. Instead of promising tax cuts, businesses would be better off if the government made compliance easier.

This can be done through lighter regulation or technology that removes paper load and moves government systems online. While some of this is being done by government departments already, a true commitment to modernising government collaboration with small business will surpass a meagre tax cut any day.

Encourage technology investment for small business: A major small business incentive focuses on immediate asset deductions, allowing businesses to purchase coffee machines, cars and other hardware. But, the incentive is only useful if the business has the cash in the first place — for those who don’t have $20,000 spare to spend on hardware, it isn’t so useful.

These sorts of incentives are also focused on an old-fashioned approach to business. Startups and many technology-enabled small businesses are less likely to need a forklift or coffee machine (though a ping pong table may qualify) — instead, much of their capital is spent on the software underpinning their businesses. It’s here where it would be highly beneficial to see policies that recognise the modern nature of businesses, rather than hardware.

Educate small businesses in financial literacy: Education isn’t just about schools. One of the major issues our accounting and bookkeeping partners see on a daily basis is small business owners who don’t have a good grasp of their financial standing. As a result, they can’t make the sound decisions necessary to put their business in the strongest position.

Having an education framework that provides small business owners with the knowledge they need to increase their financial literacy will go a long way to improving business survival rates and increasing their share of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. 7. Ben Pfisterer Country manager of Square

Recent tax reforms have provided a positive steps towards enhanced concessions and consideration for small businesses at tax time, yet we’d like to see further reduction towards business tax burdens, which are particularly focused on early stage and small businesses. From lower tax rates, to increased applicable deductions or simplified procedural requirements, there remains a variety of opportunities which should continue to be explored. The first two years for small businesses are the hardest, so anything which can be done to help them during their early stage will increase the chance of long term success, hence will contribute towards further economic growth for Australia.

More importantly than any economic reform, social equality and the removal of discrimination is something that Square is deeply passionate about around the world. Marriage equality for Australians needs faster action by policy makers to ensure we’re building not only a world-class economic environment, yet also ensuring we continue to work towards a society void of discriminatory prejudice. 8. Russell Francis Chief executive officer of Velpic

Announcements about innovation have been great to date but should only be the tip of the iceberg. I want to see Australia as one of the top two or three tech hotspots globally.

To do this the plan needs to be deeply entrenched into our forward planning, nation building, education systems and ultimately into the culture of our country. Let’s turn the lucky country into the clever country. 9. Troy Douglas Cofounder of Nexba

The introduction of a ‘sugar tax’. Governments around the world have turned to fiscal measures to combat the rising healthcare costs and growing rates of obesity and diabetes. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would save lives and generate millions for health initiatives. Plus, it would also fast-track and commercially incentivise multinationals to make ‘better for you’ product changes that would improve the availability of healthier options for everyone. 10. Michael Jankie CEO of PoweredLocal

So far in this election campaign, I am seeing one side of politics put out a reasonable policy and the other side attacking with vitriolic statements that are not true, or are a fraction of the truth. Often, the responses are one-line slogans that appeal only to the lowest common denominator. Stop treating voters like they’re total idiots. Everyone has to vote, so the majority of the population will have a reasonably learned opinion.

We are on the cusp of being a great nation; our current leader has at least proven to all parties that politicians can talk about Progress, Culture, Innovation and Education. It is the most exciting time to be alive so let’s get both sides talking about what they will do to keep it fresh, innovative and exciting in the coming years, instead of resorting to petty sloganism.

Let’s talk about the next revolution: the Entrepreneurial Revolution. I want to hear leaders from both sides advocating for the startup ecosystem and standing firmly behind the entrepreneurs that will be integral to Australia’s growth after the decline of the mining boom. 11. Rob Hango-Zada Co-founder of Shippit

Whilst the sitting government has done a lot to support innovation, more could be done to support the rise of startup businesses in Australia. Our political leaders must embrace that technology driven innovation is what will make Australia famous over the next decade. Embracing this means providing greater support for entrepreneurs in the form of business development support, funding beyond government grants, networking opportunities with industry leaders and access to shared services like legal and accounting services to ensure startup founders can focus on setting up and growing their business.

We found it immensely difficult to seek out advice when starting Shippit, if it weren’t for our personal network we would not have been able to start the business with the right knowledge around the different business structures, workplace agreements, funding, and other areas that are critical to the launch and success of businesses. 12. Bridget Loudon CEO of Expert360

I would like to see the government do more to attract the world’s best tech talent to Australia. And we need to get more smart kids studying tech subjects in school and university. The single biggest thing holding Australian startups back is the availability of excellent talent but we have the power to fix that, through immigration and education reform. The key is to act quickly. 13. Kevin Baum Chief executive officer of TikForce 

One of the best steps the federal government could take is to encourage a percentage of Australia’s superannuation investments be put into innovation companies. This could be in the form of ‘local’ minimums similar to government purchasing guides. There would need to be regulator changes as well as knowledge transfer so that super funds can understand early-stage risk and appropriate due diligence.

I would also like to see support from government for the marketing of the various innovation businesses we have. We need to provide a mainstream message of how Australian innovation is really going – the good and the bad. But it needs to be more widely understood what is being contributing to current and future wealth in this country.

We have to have an economy that builds on our skills and services where innovation and worldwide digital distribution are appreciated, and businesses and people want to invest their time and money. 14. George Parthimos CEO of Connexion Media

The rules around investing at the moment are ridiculous, and they’re considering making it even more difficult for early-stage companies to list on the ASX. In particular, the whole concept of a ‘sophisticated investor’ as defined in the Corporations Act – that you have to earn more than $250,000 and have more than $2.5 million in tangible assets – and is antiquated and needs to be overhauled.

The government should be making it easier for everyday people to invest in new companies. At the moment Australians are considered shrewd enough to buy a $1 million property at auction, but aren’t allowed to invest a few thousand dollars into a start-up company that’s raising money. 15. Brandon Gien CEO of Good Design Australia

Clear, honest and consistent communication around the important issues facing Australia and Australians. I want our political leaders to be able to answer those sometimes prickly questions thrown at them with directness and clarity rather than the rehearsed three line media messages and headline grabs we see all the time.

I’m sick of hearing our politicians dodge important questions rather than answering them directly – the Australian public can see straight through this. 16. Robert Price CEO of Mashay

Australia needs a valued dish to bring to the global dinner party. Natural resources are great, but they are finite and the world’s appetite is diminishing. We are blessed to have an unfair share of great minds with great ideas. A government that thinks long term, actively nurtures the growth of competitive industries is one I would support.

Also climate change isn’t going anywhere. We continue to spend on our carbon credit card and hide the monthly statements. Can someone open the mail, confront the issue and develop a solution to which we can all contribute. 17. Heidi Armstrong Head of consumer advocacy at Liberty

Every small business owner understands how hard it is to find funding and keep on top of cash flow. Yet when they go to their traditional lender to ask for help, many are disappointed and turned away. But there are other options out there – small businesses just don’t know about them. When businesses grow – so too does the economy, jobs growth and business confidence – so why shouldn’t small businesses be given more help and guidance about how they can fund their business?

I’d like to see our political leaders help small businesses by making it compulsory for traditional banks to refer small business clients to other fintech players when they aren’t prepared to lend money themselves. No business owner should think the banks are the only option. 18. James Walker CEO of DroneShield

As a US company, one of the reasons we are expanding into Australia is because of its desirable R&D grant schemes. We intend to conduct all of our R&D here as a result, and employ more Australians in the process.

From our perspective, the only thing holding us back from further leveraging Australia as a hub for our business is its Capital Gains tax regime. We’d like to see both side of politics act on this during the election and eliminate the capital gains tax paid for investors investing into new companies bringing business and jobs into Australia. 19. Marcus Ehrlich Managing director of Ninox Robotics

I would like to see prioritisation of long term investment in things that actually drive economic growth – infrastructure, education (particularly STEM) and policies that support research and development, both with direct government investment in basic science as well as tax policy that supports innovative risk taking on new technologies. 20. Mandeep Sodhi CEO of Hashching

The timing of the election is great because people will have certainty on the government policies by early July as they would be looking to re-invest their tax return to upgrade their house or some even getting into their first home at low interest rates.

With first home mortgage approvals dropping to an alarming 14.2% in March 2016, the lowest in last 12 years, it’s time the elected government introduces smarter policies with right tax breaks to help first home buyers own their home sooner. 21. Ben Thompson CEO of Employment Hero

We need a government and a Prime Minister that paints a clear vision for where the country is heading, and how it is going to transition there from the old economies. This is not just a conversation about transitioning from mining to services; it’s also about how industrial relations will transform from a 9 to 5 business to an online business structure while still protecting employees.

As the freelance revolution inevitably sweeps Australia, it is bound to challenge our traditional approach to employment law and independent contracting. Contrary to the freelancing revolution, Australia is re-regulating its workplace laws to make independent contracting more difficult and introduce statutory penalties for ‘sham’ contracting.

Australia’s lack of a clear cut definition for independent contractors leaves businesses exposed to prosecution. This will inevitably hamper the ability of Australian businesses to utilise independent workers when compared to other developed economies with clear laws in this area.

As a result, we need leaders who will clearly articulate the vision of the future economy and how we’re going to make the changes necessary to succeed. At the moment, we have some figures sticking their heads in the sand; Labor saying we have to protect penalty rates and keep regulating the market, and you have the Coalition sitting somewhere in the middle. 22. Todd Trevillion Managing director of MobileDen 

We need a plan in place to address the lack of available workers with digital skills in Australia. There simply aren’t enough people with high-end IT skills to support Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for an innovation nation. Hiring a developer at the moment is nearly impossible.

Teaching children how to code in school is a great start, but we also need a plan to retrain the millions of adults whose careers are being disrupted by technology. It’s not good enough just to say we’ll bring more people with IT skills in from overseas. We’ll end up with a lost generation of Australian workers if we don’t address this problem urgently.

Coalition is too scared to talk about anything industrial relations-related because it’s too toxic, and every time they do, Labor says ‘Work Choices’. 23. Mark Lapins CEO and founder of Quantify Technology

Funding is still a huge issue across the Australian startup landscape, and we would like to see it addressed this election. Particularly if both sides of politics are keen on promoting the much lauded ‘Ideas Boom’.

In some ways, Australia has gone backwards on this issue. I’ve founded several startups over the past decade, and many of the grants and benefits that helped me get them off the ground are now gone.

In terms of changes: The government flagged the abolition of capital gains tax for those who invest in new businesses last year. We’d like to see both sides of politics commit to this. We would also like to see politicians further fund and expand R&D grants. 24. Creel Price CEO of Investible

After the initial excitement of the government’s innovation statement, it was disappointing that the early election resulted in a state of limbo rather than concrete policies enacted. My ask for policy makers on both sides of government is clarity on their intention in relation to the previously announced initiatives that support the start–up ecosystem and encourage angel investment.

Whilst government support is both crucial and needed, broad policy statements without clear definitions and implementation timetables can stall investment and encourage cowboys entering into what is already becoming a crowded industry. Policies encouraging Australian start–ups and support networks to expand their horizon’s beyond domestic markets will be imperative if Australia is to create the jobs of the future and cement out place as a world–leader in entrepreneurial development. 25. Taryn Williams Co-founder and CEO of The Right.Fit

This election, I would like to see policy makers make a real commitment towards ensuring that Australia is a world leader in the innovation and start-up space. During this election there has been a lot of posturing around commitments to innovation and entrepreneurship from the current government, and policy makers should prioritise translating this into action.

I would support increasing the R&D spend, reducing small business tax, and offering greater tax incentives for angel investors to make investing in start-ups a more financially viable option. These changes are necessary if policy makers are genuine about putting Australia on the list of ecosystems in the world that supports high growth tech businesses and a thriving economy. 26. Nick Lavidge Founder and CEO of Alley

Small and medium business plays a crucial role in driving economic growth, employment and innovation. In recent times, both federal and state governments have shown a commitment to improving the local climate for startups and small business.

Policy makers need to keep pushing this agenda forward, particularly if we want to avoid a drain of talent to more attractive working conditions abroad. I would also like to see a streamline of business registration, information and advisory services so that startups are better supported and informed in complying with legislation. 27. Anita Jovanovski CEO of NSW Family Day Care Association

It is great to see Early Childhood Education and Care at the forefront of policy makers. NSW Family Day Care Association would value a strong commitment to Australian families, with improved policies and programmes put in place to assist families by making Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Services easily accessible and affordable for all families.

We welcome funding and a commitment for an Educator Professional Development Program. With a Educator Professional Development Program in place continual development can continue within the sector enabling quality practice as a whole.

Quality educator services will also help improve continued recognition of the Family Day Care sector being a professional, affordable and flexible option for families.

It would be great to see a new workforce strategy to be delivered and to include continued implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF). 28. Mike Pritchett Co-founder and CEO of Shootsta

We would actually like to see a renewed focus on business tax cuts this election.

The Coalition — which has at least bought out a policy — seems to be hinting that the major driver of business growth in Australia will come from trade and investment policies. From a grassroots level, it’s hard to measure the actual impact of this.

Contrast to this, we know a direct tax cut will allow us to invest more in our business and in turn employ more staff.

The Coalition’s proposition is to lower more and more companies onto a tax rate of 27.5 per cent and then drop if for everyone to 25 per cent by 2025. In contract, the OECD average tax rate currently sits at 24.85 per cent and has been trending lower for the past decade. That figure will likely be even lower by the time we hit 2025.

Both sides of politics should just cut to the chase and drop it in line with the OECD average or risk Australia losing business — an innovation — to other nations. 29. Ken Richards CEO of Leaf Resources

Innovation is not easy. Up to 90 per cent of start-ups fail and 75 per cent of start-ups backed by venture capital companies — the experts — still fail. Given this, it would be difficult for the government to pick winners.

However, one government initiative is a great success and we would like to see it expanded.

The Research and Development tax incentive is a lifeblood for many emerging companies. The system works as it incentivises companies to make their own decision on research plans and spend their own money. The government adjudicates on what qualifies as research and development and at the end of the year up to 45 per cent of the funds spent are returned to the company.

It would be a great boost to this already successful scheme and really help the cash flow of emerging companies if this rebate was more frequently paid. Quarterly would be perfect. 30. Nigel Spence CEO of ChildFund Australia

With Australian aid levels now at an all-time low of just 0.23% of our national GDP, the major political parties must commit to reversing the cuts and set out how they will rebuild Australia’s aid program.

Most of our closest neighbours are developing countries, whereas Australia, despite challenging economic times, remains a highly prosperous nation. The small levels of support we are offering our neighbours is indefensible.

Providing well-targeted aid to countries in need is not only the morally right thing to do, it offers real economic, security and social benefits to Australia – stability and peace in our region, new trading markets for Australian businesses and greater collaboration with our nearest neighbours.

Whilst we welcome Labor’s commitment to reverse the most recent cuts of $224 million, and the Greens’ policy to increase Australian aid to 0.7% of GDP over the next decade, there has been virtually no discussion of overseas aid in the election campaign to date. The silence should not continue. We need policy makers to consider the ramifications of cuts in past years and commit now to reinstating budget to Australian aid. 31. Tyson Hackwood Head of Asia for Braintree

Our first Braintree office was located at Tank Stream Labs, a co-working space in Sydney. We’ve seen first-hand how being a part of the fabric of the start-up scene from get-go is invaluable to fostering great ideas and disruptive thinking.

Since then, we’ve seen similar spaces pop up in Sydney and Melbourne, however innovation doesn’t have physical borders! We would encourage policy which sought to level the playing field to provide greater opportunities for entrepreneurs in towns and cities across the country, particularly regional areas. 32. Wade Cawood CEO and co-founder at Pulse Global

While most CEOs may be interested in tax breaks and R&D grants, I’d actually like to see all sides of politics focus more on their environment policies.

I think we can all agree that Australia is a forward thinking nation. So, we should be competing with others of the same ilk, such as Sweden and Denmark. Even Costa Rica is making more of an effort than Australia in working towards a 100 per cent renewable energy target.

It’s also shallow to think environmental policy can be boiled down to just the climate debate. Deforestation is also an issue: land clearing rates in Queensland have tripled between 2009 and 2014. Oceans and seas are being overfished en masse and the pollution of the Great Barrier Reef continues regardless of which party is in power.

The lack discourse on environmental issues this election is dismal, and only shows why more executives need to speak up on these issues. 33. Richard Kimber CEO of OFX

I would like to see much less emphasis on rote learning and more on the skills required in modern companies. There needs to be less focus on funding models and more on the quality of the curriculum and relevance of our system.

In my view we need to focus on critical thinking, conceptualisation, and communication skills. The education system needs to recognise it is creating the future generation of leaders and entrepreneurs and equip them with a solid grounding to adapt to an increasing pace of change. The education curriculum needs to be urgently updated and teachers need to be up-skilled to cater to the information age.

We also need to reassess the benchmark that we’re working towards and compare our education system to the best in the world such as Finland’s, which are progressive, efficient and produce incredible results. 34. Zoe Pointon CEO of Open Agent

We would like to see less tax and financial burdens for startups, beginning with funding matching for early stage startups to provide a growth boost, eliminating the payroll tax for high growth companies and providing tax breaks for those who are working at early stage/high growth companies to make salaries more competitive.

Getting the right people is always difficult for start-ups; we would like to see better processes with 457 Visa, making it easier to source talent from overseas.

We would also like to see the government recognise paid internships at start-ups for top STEM talents from growth markets, to engineers and UX).

Working mums have been losing out, we would like to see more support for women in the workforce, especially start-ups, including making childcare tax deductible and changing incentives so that women who are working full-time are not worse off than those working part-time. 35. Walta Kazzi Co-founder of easyshare

There is no doubt that after the GFC, ASIC has done a good job in maintaining confidence and integrity within financial services, as well as help clean up the industry by punishing wrong doers, but there is always room for improvement. I’d like to see policy makers make more informed decisions with collaboration outside of the top four banks prior to legislation being enacted and not after the fact.

The impact of new legislation should never be about solving one problem. In business the impact of regulation will always have a positive or negative domino effect on innovation, growth and the associated costs of operating a business.

Policy makers just like business leaders cannot make decisions in boardrooms without collaboration with key people who are steering the ships across the industry. New regulations should always be driven by well thought out plans with clear outcomes and objectives which consider all stakeholders including consumers, enterprise, creditors and investors.

For example, increased costs in compliance alone without the consideration for growth and innovation will have a negative impact on efficiency, which will lead to increased costs being passed on to consumers. 36. Phil Silverstone General manager Australia of Eventbrite

Australia has done an excellent job of leveraging our natural resources to build a modern nation with one of the world’s leading economies. Now we need to harness our next great resource — our talent — to power our nation’s growth as we transition from our predominantly resource-based economy to a new, services-based ideas economy.

We must foster our amazing talent in Australia — and keep that talent here — by empowering startups to create the next great Australian success stories.

This is about completing the NBN so that every Australian has access to the internet and it’s resources. It is about cultivating S.T.E.M. graduates and embracing a fundamental shift of the workforce. It is about creating an ecosystem to provide the resources and support for startups to commercialise and scale.

The technology sector needs more governmental support in many ways. With the next government, I hope to see a strong commitment to and investment in this industry so that Australia can further its force of innovation in the global economy.

At Eventbrite, we’re committed to helping foster Australian innovation by creating technology jobs and driving collaboration by hosting events for the innovation community. I’m hopeful that the new government recognises this need for investment, and will increase support for Australian entrepreneurs to lead global disruption, rather than risk being disrupted. 37. Kate Morris Founder and CEO of Adore Beauty

I’d like to see policy makers from both sides put together a bipartisan plan for an apolitical NBN that (a) gives the necessary infrastructure for future innovation in this country, and (b) actually gets executed.

The NBN is (or should be) a huge investment in the future of this country and I think it’s too important to be used as a political points-scoring exercise. A fibre-to-the-node network is not going to be fast enough, but a superior infrastructure isn’t much help either if it never gets completed.

It will be worth spending the money if they can get it done right, and get it done more efficiently. 38. John Winning CEO of Winning Group

From a retail er’s perspective, for consumer confidence to grow, we require Australians to be confident in the economy. That confidence will only be achieved through economic stability and investment made into developing new industries for our country and our workers to flourish in.

The Government’s plans that were announced in the Federal Budget were focused on creating jobs to stimulate our economy in the medium to long term, however post election it would also be great to see the successful party implement some specific short-term initiatives to encourage consumer spending. 39. Bao Hoang Co-founder and CEO of Rolld

I would like to see the removal of red tape around starting a small business. Currently small business owners need to jump through a number of unnecessary hoops to start and maintain a small business. There are countless permits, consultancy fees and council approval/requirements that businesses owners need to meet, that are only in place to raise revenue. These restrictions greatly impact the ability to start and sustain a small business.

As well as reducing or removing Sunday penalty rates on wages. Sunday penalty rates put an enormous strain on small business. If these rates were removed it would give small business owners more opportunity to hire additional staff, which would ultimately boost the Australian economy.

Reducing Sunday penalty rates was a recommendation that was also made last year by the Productivity Commission in their final report into Australia’s workplace relations system. 40. Rob Newman CEO at Nearmap

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of new government initiatives, aimed at boosting startups and innovation, roll out. While this is all positive, it’s important that regardless of government changes, there is consistent and sustained support for Australian businesses. Unfortunately, all too often a new administration will cancel old programs, rename others and introduce new ones. This lack of consistency is hindering the innovation and startup industry.

Sometimes the best policy is in fact not to change policy. Australia’s innovation, tech and startup communities need policy consistency that continues across changes in leadership and changes in government. This is more important than simply releasing a new program every so often, and will ensure more employment opportunities for future generations of innovators. 41. Dan Nolan Co-founder and Engineering Lead at Proxima 

As a small, growing startup one of the biggest things we’d like to see is the removal of the fringe benefits tax (FBT), or at the very least, make compliance a much easier process for small businesses. The current policy makes it virtually impossible to offer perks to staff. It’s already hard enough to compete with the likes of Google and Amazon and this policy only makes it more difficult.

Policy makers need to make this whole policy simpler for small businesses. Remove the red tape, so we can focus on actually running the business and making it successful, without all the processes, which just slow everything down.

We’d also like to see a complete flip on the individual PAYG withholding rules. Quarterly filing is tedious. Half-yearly or yearly filing will make the process much easier for Australian businesses.

Policy makers should pass a bill as soon as possible to remove metadata retention. Not only is it a direct tax on internet usage, the implementation has been delayed time and time again due to government ineptitude. It’s a huge violation of privacy for all Australians and makes us a laughing stock internationally.

Whichever party wins, they should commit to drop the internet tax. 42. James Chin Moody Founder & CEO, Sendle

The world is changing fast. Over the next 10 years we will see things that were only science fiction a decade ago: self driving cars, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and drones. These technologies are poised to shape the world in ways that we can’t even imagine.

The golden thread running through all of these changes is simply this: that knowledge is going to be THE most important resource for any country. Forget minerals, forget agriculture – without a well educated population and vibrant entrepreneurial spirit, countries like Australia will be left behind in an ever competitive world.

So my wish for the next government is this. That they invest as much as possible in education so that Australians remain relevant, productive and genuinely innovative. This starts by making education our nation’s Number 1 strategic priority and redesigning our education system for the future rather than the past.

We should see education as an investment, not as an expense. In the same way that we talk about investing $7 billion into a new road, or $50 billion on submarines, why are our politicians not competing to see who can invest most in our kids and their education?

And it doesn’t just stop with kids. Oxford university predicted that 47% of current US jobs are likely to be displaced by computers in the next 15 years. Yes, you read that correctly – 47%. That gives us 15 years to navigate the most significant transformation of the labour force that the world has ever seen. And you can’t do that without a focus on education.

If we want Australia to do as well in the 21st Century as we did in the 20th we have to invest in our most vital resource: Australians. 43. Nick Austin Founder and CEO of Divvy Parking

What I want to see from both current and newly elected policymakers, is a true focus on building more sustainable, smarter cities. The way our cities are planned and the way they work has a crucial impact on citizens and economic growth alike.

Efficient urban areas will ultimately benefit all of Australians, and are essential for us to remain competitive on a global scale.

Our country needs smart funding of infrastructure projects that solve existing problems from their roots and foresee potential future issues — not create new ones to deal with later. We have a rapidly growing population that is putting huge pressure on our current resources and infrastructure, and it’s estimated that issues such as traffic congestion could cost the country up to $53 billion by 2031!

Improvements in this space require innovation, and for that to happen, we need greater collaboration between government and the private sector to increase connectivity and productivity in the way we live and work in our cities.

We’ve seen some progress here already, for example the new digital marketplace to help businesses access $5 billion worth of government ICT contracts, but we need less red tape and more action if we want Australia to be home to the most livable cities in the world.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged that if we’re to transition into an ‘Innovation Economy’, governments and businesses need to work together to create high performing cities that attract and retain the best and brightest minds. Political leaders that embrace new ideas and exciting technology innovations being developed in the private sector are the ones I want to see in charge. 44. Gareth O’Reilly Zone president and MD Pacific at Schneider Electric

The 2016 Election holds a promise to end the political instability of the last nine years. Rather than the spotlight centred on the personalities of those in Government, it should be sensible policy and clear decisions that take the Australian Government forward post 2 July.

The economy, innovation, tax reform, climate change and education dominate the concerns of most voters – and rightly so. We need a leader with vision to solve these challenges.

At Schneider Electric, we have a vision around climate change and the efficient use of energy. It is a simple and powerful idea about using natural resources more productively – which is both profitable for business and better for the environment, and now is the time for our leaders to tackle this issue head on.

The impact of political leadership is not limited to policy decisions on carbon prices or renewable energy targets – it has an effect on energy consumption and behaviours that should not be underestimated. At the Paris Climate Conference, Australia agreed to work to cuts its net global emissions to zero by the second half of the century. To have any real chance of meeting this target, the party that wins office will need to ensure its policy mix supports the agreement signed in Paris.

Recognising the role of advanced manufacturing in Australia is another key consideration for future Government. Correctly harnessing the Internet of Things provides an incredible opportunity for the sector, however, we require innovative, forward-thinking policies to remain competitive in a global market place. 45. Ben Bucknell CEO of OnMarket BookBuilds

The cost of raising new equity is a major factor for Australian companies – and the Federal Government should be concerned by recent moves by the ASX to make it more difficult for companies to list in Australia and more even difficult for the public to invest in company floats.

There are one million SMSF members accounting for $600 billion in assets that are largely unable to participate in initial public offerings (IPOs). This is one third of Australia’s retirement savings pool. That’s because IPOs are rarely offered to retail or SMSF investors in Australia and when they are, there is no guarantee they’ll be treated fairly in allocations.

The Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges both have rules ensuring all investors have guaranteed access to all IPOs. The ASX has no such protection.

We have started a petition at www.getonmarket上海龙凤419m asking for the ASX to implement fairer listing rules so that every investor has a fair opportunity to participate by mandating that at least 25% of all IPOs be reserved for retail investors. At the time of writing, over 1,000 people have joined the petition.

We want the new government to support this proposal.

Trading on the ASX is governed by rules ensuring a fair, transparent and orderly market. It’s even more important that these principles apply to IPOs, because that’s the process companies use to raise capital to fund their growth. But the ASX wants to limit retail access to IPOs and we want the government or the Labor Party to make a commitment to ensure that retail investors and SMSFs have the same opportunity as big institutions to invest in IPOs. 46. Craig McDonald CEO and founder of MailGuard

Irrespective of who will be elected, our main concern is that cybersecurity will continue to be a priority for Government and our political leaders. The recently announced Cybersecurity Strategy was a welcome investment in the security of the nation, and raises the profile of cybersecurity amongst the business community in Australia.

In particular, it is was extremely pertinent that Mr. Turnbull called out the ‘culture of denial’ about cyber threats amongst many business leaders, and his appeal for greater cooperation between the private and public sector to address cybersecurity was very timely.

However, despite these positive steps forward, government can always do more. There are a lot of comparisons between what Australia has committed and the cybersecurity strategies of the UK and US, where the spend is between 10-400 times that of Australia.

Our respective circumstances are clearly different, so making a direct comparison is difficult. What is more productive is for the Australian Government to focus on improved collaboration and addressing the skills deficit. For example, following the announcement of the Cybersecurity Strategy in April, there was some commentary about the 900 specialist cybersecurity positions required to support the strategy.

The cybersecurity skills shortage is a very real issue in Australia. As a nation we need to begin investing to attract new talent and to upskill professionals in that area to ensure we can maintain pace with the evolution of the industry.

It’s critical that government leaders are aware of the fast-moving and complex nature of cyber crime, with advancing technologies and applications, privacy and cyber-threats all converging. There is already a myriad of different legislation across the Federal and State governments, so I’d like to see these policies come together in a cohesive nature to ensure that our nation’s digital borders are protected as stringently as our physical borders. 47. Guy Eilon CEO Forcepoint Australia

Australia needs a stronger data breach notification scheme to protect personal information held by corporates. Not only can data leaks have huge personal ramifications, but they impact the ability for individuals to be truly autonomous through the control of information.

Here in Australia we could learn a thing or two from our European counterparts who by 2018 will put a much stricter focus on data protection. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means European companies are required to notify supervisory authorities in the case of a data breach within 72 hours.

As Australian companies aren’t under obligation to disclose data breaches it’s no surprise that data protection often comes as an afterthought. This means many organisations don’t have an established data breach plan to limit the effect of cyber-attacks or have the relevant people, process and technology in place to deal with recovery.

Not only are Australian citizens not notified if personal data is breached but they don’t have the same right to retract consent, request data erasure or portability as Europeans. This means companies can hold onto, and use, personal data long after benefits for the individual have passed.

With increased reliance on digital products and processes across industry, Australia should consider taking its own measures to strengthen citizen’s fundamental rights to the control of personal information, including the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the ‘right of data portability’.

The updating of these laws should be a priority for the Australian government as they don’t only benefit consumers, but businesses too as data protection reform will help corporates regain consumers’ trust to use their services. 48. Martin Hosking CEO and co-founder of Redbubble

Fostering a genuine culture of innovation in Australia will depend on going past rhetoric and current political realities. The entrenched interest groups – from the trade unions to the large corporations – have negligible interest in supporting an entrepreneurial culture and they have far too much influence over policy makers.

An entrepreneurial culture is actually about taking on entrenched interests and entrenched ways of doing things. As we have seen this will be resisted from groups as diverse as the coal lobby to the music and media and banking industries. Similarly our workplace laws are framed around a model that is rapidly passing into history – the 9-5 day, 5 days a week. Yet the trade unions pretend this is writ in stone.

So what do I as a founder and CEO of a successful start up? I ask for flexibility. I ask for the laws to evolve to allow new models to come into existence. I ask for resistance to entrenched interests and a willingness to give things time to bloom a little before they are crushed by negativity and denial.

Australia has had so few genuine tech successes because change is so vehemently resisted. The winners then tend to be the foreign corporations (from Uber to AirBnB) who gain enough foreign traction to enable them to push through here.

We need to reverse this and let Australia become the breeding ground where innovation is easy and welcome.

Newcastle taxi operator claims Uber is crippling industry after launchpoll

FARE GO: Gary Singh is demanding Uber play by the same rules as taxi drivers in the wake of the company’s Newcastle launch. Picture: Max Mason-HubersA LEADING Newcastle taxi operator says he is being crippled by ride-sharing service Uber less than three months since its launch in the city.
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Taxi drivers say fare revenue is half what it was this timelast year, despite Uber committing to only compete in just a fraction of the market at its April launch.

Broadmeadow businessman Gary Singh – who operates a fleet of 20 taxis in Newcastle – said Uber brought the biggest pain on weekends.

Mr Singh claimed he would be run out of the taxi industry unless the government relaxed compulsory third party insurance fees.

“I’d say the difference inwhat we’re earning this year compared to last year is about 50 per cent,” he said.

“The government says it is looking at making it cheaper for taxis to be on the road, but by the time they’ve done anything, Uber has captured the market share and we’re out of business.”

Uber allows commuters to make a booking with a driverthrough a smartphone application.

Afare, which isdetermined by “real time” supply and demand,is paid in advance at the booking.

UBER COMES TO NEWCASTLE: Kaii Fallanders, of Newcastle East, was one of the first drivers in the city.

In April, Uber said it hadcleared upto 100 drivers to operate in Newcastle.

Mr Singh said he welcomed competition in Newcastle, but argued that the high-tech American company needed to operate on a level playing field.

Taxis still have to fork out an annual fee of up to $7000 per car for CTP insurance, while Uber drivers, because they use personal cars, pay just a few hundred dollars.

“The government has let Uber do what it wants under the name of innovation, but it’s not innovation,” Mr Singh said.

“They’ve found a loop hole and they are exploiting it.”

Newcastle Radio Cabs manager Chris Smith had notnoticed a decline in bookings since Uber launched, but said new competition had lifted the game.

“The ball is in our court,” he said.

“It’s up to us to show we are the most reliable service in Newcastle, as we have always been.”

Uber was unable to meet a request for interview by deadline.

Murder-accused Jack Colless’s police interview played in court

Jack Henderson, allegedly murdered last year by a former schoolmate.MURDER-accused Jack Colless remembers reaching into his pants and pulling out a knife as he approached his old school friend, Jack Henderson, late on Anzac Day, 2014.
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“I was swinging it around, but I didn’t grab anybody and stab them, or anything like that,” he told police in a recorded interview later that night.“I did think of calling police, but I thought they would be gone by the time youse got there.”

The interviewwas played to a Newcastle Supreme Court jury on Fridayduring evidence from Detective Senior Constable Paul Wilks. Mr Colless, 21, had just been arrested and accused of stabbing two men –Mr Henderson, and Ty Flood.

There had been a long-running dispute between MrColless and the Flood family over a used car, the jury has heard. Mr Colless told police that MrFlood and Mr Hendersonwere yelling abuse at himfrom their car, which was parkedoutside his parents’ house onJohn Street, Cessnock, on Anzac Day. He approached them to “put a stop to it”.

“I wanted to fight and get it over and done with so that he would leave me alone but it wasn’t a fight. I got thrown on the ground and hit,” he said.

He swung the knife around “Maybe twice or three times” after being thrown to the ground, and they backed off him,but he could not remember making contact with anybody.

“Everything was a blur, I can’t remember it …I didn’t intend to stabanyone. I thought swinging (it) aroundmight have scared them a bit and they would get off me and leave me alone.”

Mr Colless said hehad used knives in the past to skin rabbits but he didn’t think of himself as an expert.

Both MrFlood and MrHendersonleft the scene with stab wounds.

Mr Henderson suffereda stab wound tothe chest. He stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest shortly after arriving atCessnock District hospital,and could not be resuscitated.Mr Flood suffered a laceration to the elbow.

Mr Colless has pleaded not guilty to murder, as well as the alternative count of manslaughter, and the reckless wounding of Mr Flood.

MrColless told police he wished he could go back in time. “I feel sick in the guts, I have done something I don’t even really remember doing. He was one of my friends who turned on me for some stupid reason … I can’t believe it … I have just wrecked someone’s life.”

The trial continues.

Shorten leaves door ajar for hung Parliament deals

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten addresses the media in Darwin on Friday. Photo: Alex EllinghausenElection 2016: news, analysis and videoYourVote: where you align with the parties
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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has left open the possibility of Labor doing a deals with key independents like Nick Xenophon if the party wins enough seats to form a minority government.

After gaining traction with warnings over the future of Medicare – branded a “dishonest scare campaign” by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – ALP strategists believe the election could be closer than has previously been expected.

But it remains unlikely that Labor could pick up the 21 seats it needs to win outright, with a hung Parliament its best-case scenario at this stage.

Both Mr Shorten and Mr Turnbull have signed pledges not to enter any alliance with the Greens like the one that marred the prime ministership of Julia Gillard.

But asked specifically whether he wound consider any agreements or deals with Senator Xenophon, whose party appears on track to pick up three lower house seats, and perhaps Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott if they make successful comebacks, Mr Shorten would only say he intends to win on his own.

“My intention is to win this election and I think Labor can win this election,” he said as he campaigned in Darwin on Friday.

“My intention is to get Australians’ first preference votes. My intention is for us to get as many seats as possible. Australia needs a strong Labor government.”

Mr Shorten was asked to clarify why he was willing to 100 per cent rule out a deal with the Greens but would not do similar for other independents, saying only: “That isn’t what I said.”

When he signed an “oath” in ink in May not to team up with the Greens, Mr Shorten said: “Labor will not be going into coalition with any party.”

Mr Turnbull has claimed: “If we have another hung Parliament it will be the Greens and Labor back into business.”

On Thursday, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said Australia’s political future lies in minority government because of the steep fall in public support for the two major parties.

“The hard political reality is that the major party vote share is dropping over time – a trend that shows no sign of stopping,” Senator Di Natale said.

“This makes multi-party governments more likely and more common into the future, and rather than accept this as the will of the people, we have scaremongering from the old parties, who are desperately resisting the trend.

“A majority of the world’s democratic systems have embraced a different model that produces greater diversity and enhances representation. A two-party state is not the natural order of things.”

Current polls suggest nearly a third of Australians will vote for candidates other than the majors.

NHRU: Maitland milestone man Nick Davidson to produce the goods

TON OF FUN: Rugged No.8 will notch his 100th first grade game when the Blacks host Southern Beaches at Marcellin Park on Saturday. Picture: Marina Neil
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MAITLAND coach Mick Hickling expects milestone man Nick Davidson to“have a red hot go” against Southern Beaches at Marcellin Park on Saturday.

It wouldn’t matter if it was the No.8’s first or, as it is, his 100thfirst grade game.That is the way he plays. Fullstop.

“Davo is a pretty unique individual,” Hickling said.“He is driven to have a red hot go no matter the circumstance. I’m sure he will have a big game tomorrow. He always has a big game.”

Davidson made his debut aged 19 in 2009. Playing alongside Hickling and Adam Perkins, he was like a bull-at-a-gate. Little has changed, except the bull has grownbigger and stronger.

A regular in the Newcastle representative team before work commitments intervened, the born-and-bred Blackwas awarded the Anderson Medal last year.

Hickling, who instigateda move toNo.8 this season, believes Davidson has surpassed the lofty heights of 2015.

“He has added bits to his arsenal, “Hickling said. “He hasmore confidence in his passing game at the line and is playing really well.”

The Blacks need Davidson and the rest of the pack to fire as they attempt to end a run of heavy defeats, going downto Hamilton (45-8) and The Waratahs (45-15).

“You can cop a loss when you play well and get beaten by a better team,” Hickling said. “We haven’treally shown are wares, particularly last week. Our pillar defence was poor. Three or four times they got us through the ruck. The effort was there but our spacing and the waywe defend in certain parts of the field wasoff. We haveaddressed it at training and have a few focus areas this week with the ball and without the ball.”

Southern Beaches have won three of the past four games and sit four points behind the Blacks.

Adrian Delore shifts to halfback for his last game before heading to Wales with the Australian side for the World University Sevens.

In other games on Saturday,Hamilton will be without five NSW Country representatives when they host a resurgent Lake Macquarie at Passmore Oval.

League convertHowie Grant makes his first grade debut at centre for Wanderers against Singleton at No.2 Sportsground.

The Waratahs will be out to hit back from their22-20 loss to Merewether midweek against University at Uni No.1 Oval.

BreakawayJosh Stewart (hamstring) is out of the Greens’ clash with Nelson Bay at Townson Oval but coach Stacey Sykes expects him back in a fortnight.

Lawyers call for women barristers to be briefed in 30 per cent of cases by 2020

Australian Bar Association president Fiona McLeod, SC, says the bar is among the worst professions for unequal pay. Photo: Roger Cummins Australia’s peak lawyer group is calling on government agencies and company lawyers to raise the number of women barristers they brief to represent them in court to narrow the gender gap at the bar.
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The Law Council of Australia will on Friday unveil its “equitable briefing” policy, which for the first time sets a national target that aims for women barristers to be briefed in at least 30 per cent of all matters, and paid 30 per cent of all brief fees by 2020.

One of Australia’s most senior female barristers, Fiona McLeod, SC, said the bar was among the worst professions for unequal pay, due in part to the lack of opportunities for women to work on more expensive cases, despite their experience.

Ms McLeod said that the same pool of barristers may be being briefed out of “habit”, while unconscious bias also played a role.

“I think there’s also an element of expectation that court work requires machismo, that the warrior has a traditional male figure and even if they’re unconscious expectations, that’s influencing briefing decisions.”

While many more women graduated from law schools than men, she said they made up a minority of barristers, spent fewer hours in court and were paid less in fees.

“We want women barristers to be considered based on their skill, experience, expertise, and interest,” Ms McLeod, the Council’s president-elect said. “But for that to happen we need to promote a cultural shift, and that means encouraging participants to seek out women barristers appropriate for the relevant matter.

“If we want our best and brightest law graduates to be attracted to a career as a barrister, we need to start showing young women such a career is possible.”

The Council stressed in its policy document that the target was not a quota. Those who adopted it would be publicly named, but only obliged to provide confidential reports to the Council about their progress towards the 30 per cent target every year.

The initial target – 20 per cent of all matters and 20 per cent of all fees by 2018 – was slightly higher than the combined current number of senior counsel who are women – 10 per cent – and women who have been at the bar for more than a decade.

Top-tier law firm Allens has already committed to the voluntary target, with the council to invite government and in-house corporate lawyers to sign on.

Allens partner Ross Drinnan denied there was an unconscious bias in briefing or that women were being held back. While there were fewer women barristers in corporate law, he said there was a greater proportion of women who were regularly briefed in family, public and criminal law.

“We want to ensure [women] have the maximum opportunity to be briefed in the best work available if they are qualified and the most suitably experienced candidate for the job.”

Mr Drinnan is also the chairman of Law Firms Australia, which represents nine top and mid-tier firms. He said that while all the members supported the policy, it was unclear how many would sign up. Some already had their own diversity programs.

The policy, he said, would establish reliable national data on the gender divide for the first time. Law firms, senior barristers and clients, he said, were all jointly responsible for determining which barristers were selected for cases.

It follows Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ vow last year to choose women for at least half of all the state’s judicial and government board appointments until 2018.

Sam Neill slams Australia’s offshore ‘concentration camps’

Sam Neill may sprinkle most of what he says with humour, but he is in deadly earnest when talking politics. Photo: Steven Siewert Actor Sam Neill at Sake Restaurant in Double Bay. Photo: Steven Siewert
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Dumplings at Sake. Photo: Steven Siewert

Brussels sprouts at Sake Photo: Steven Siewert

Sam Neill has the charmer’s way of remembering your name and using it often. Like when I take an edamame pod and accidentally drop the empty shell back in the food bowl rather than in the one for scraps. “You’re forgiven, Karl,” he says, the eyes twinkling, the smile crinkling through the grey beard.

It’s cold outside, and he’s wearing a black woollen overcoat; perhaps unwisely, he trimmed his facial hair this morning while wearing it. “It’s turned what’s a rather nice jacket into a sort of homeless jacket,” he says, picking at a stray follicle or two.

Like much of what he says, the observation is delivered wryly, with just a hint of mischief. It’s as if he has the inside word on a very funny joke that he’s giving serious thought to letting me in on. Oh please, Sam. Go on.

We’ve met for lunch at Sake, a Japanese restaurant in Double Bay that has just opened a sister venue in Melbourne on Flinders Lane (to add to the one beneath Hamer Hall). It’s been picked by an intermediary rather than either of us, but it’s an apposite venue: his wife is Japanese, and he’s a big fan of Japanese food, though she rarely cooks it at home.

“I have to take her out and lavish money on her at expensive places like this,” he says.

Today, we’ve ordered fairly simply: a selection of sashimi and dumplings, with a side of brussels sprouts.

“How good is that,” he says as a long plate of toro (tuna belly), kingfish, scallop and eel atop little mounds of rice is laid down in front of us. “One of the things I love about Japan is that extraordinary craftsmanship that goes with the food. It’s that 10-year apprenticeship spent getting the rice right before you get to put a single bit of fish on it. That extraordinary devotion they have to excellence.”

He likes the idea of the sensei, the master, “someone who is revered. My mother-in-law is always called ‘sensei’, and she’s a hairdresser. She’s also a sensei in traditional Japanese kimono and all that stuff they do with their hair. I call her sensei too. Sometimes. It’s important to respect your mother-in-law.”

Neill has a place in Sydney not far from where we’re dining. He’s had a home here since he first arrived in Australia in the late 1970s, a 30-year-old director of half a dozen documentaries – “not very good ones,” he says – and star of exactly one feature film.

Roger Donaldson’s Sleeping Dogs was the first New Zealand feature made in colour, and the first of any stripe in 17 years. “There was no film industry, virtually no television,” Neill says. “There was no possibility of making a living as an actor in New Zealand at that time.”

Soon after he arrived in Sydney he auditioned for, and won the male lead in, My Brilliant Career. “I couldn’t believe my luck – I was working in Australia on a real film, where people had made films before. It was a real wave of Australian culture and I was right in the middle of it, bodysurfing along with everyone else.” Forty years on, he says, “I still can’t believe I’m actually making a living as an actor”.

The friendships he made back then have stood the test of time – he’s just spent the weekend on Bryan Brown’s farm, and shows me a photo on his phone of a massive huntsman spider to prove it. “I love getting on planes, I love going somewhere new, but I’m really comfortable working in Australia and New Zealand,” he says. “I get to work with lots of friends here.”

With old mate Bryan Brown in the ABC TV series Old School.

In addition to the Sydney home, he has a number of properties in Queenstown, where he makes some acclaimed wines under the Two Paddocks label, has an organic fruit orchard, grows saffron and has just pressed his first batch of olive oil.

That’s a lot of bills to pay; do you ever take jobs just for the pay cheque?

“Robert Mitchum used to maintain that he never worried about the script – it was the money and where he was shooting,” he says. “‘St Tropez and a couple of mill? I’m your man’. I think he was underselling himself.

“I don’t think anyone does it just for the money. Sometimes you’ll do a job for f— all money. Wilderpeople was that sort of job. It was such a pleasure to do it that I would have done it for nothing, really.” He pauses. “But I don’t want to set a precedent here.”

In Hunt For the Wilderpeople, Neill plays Uncle Hector, a curmudgeonly old bushman who forms an unlikely bond with Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison), the foster child sent from the city to live with him and his wife Bella (Rima Te Wiata) in the middle of nowhere. When she dies, and the authorities try to send Ricky to juvie, the pair go on the lam.

Taika Waititi’s film has become the biggest home-grown box-office hit in New Zealand history (eclipsing his own Boy, which now sits in second place). In Australia, it has already taken more than $4.5 million. It did better on its second weekend than its first, which is almost unheard of. It did better again on its third than its second, which is even rarer.

The film is based on a book by New Zealand author Barry Crump, Wild Pork and Watercress. “People my age were raised on Barry Crump,” Neill says. “He loved drinking, loved being in a pub, loved telling stories. Hector is definitely based on him, but I don’t think he’s got any stories – and if he had, he wouldn’t tell you.”

Hector is a dour bushman with a heart of gold, though it takes a while to detect a heart of any sort at all. He’s the still centre of a film that frequently teeters on the edge of utter, delirious chaos.

As Hector in Hunt For the Wilderpeople.

“I never really saw this film as a comedy,” Neill says. “I knew it would be funny but there’s too much poignancy and sadness for it to be entirely a comedy. These are damaged people. Everyone else could be funny, my job was to keep it real.”

Besides, according to one review he read recently, the last time Sam Neill was funny was in Death in Brunswick – and that was in 1990.

“Jesus, it’s a long time between drinks,” he says in mock outrage. “That’s 25 f—ing years and I haven’t had a laugh since.”

Speaking of drinks, do you think of yourself these days more as an actor who makes wine or as a winemaker who acts?

“The catch with doing two things is that people think you’re not quite serious about either of them,” he says, the twinkle and the crinkle working overtime. “But trust me, Karl, I am deadly serious about acting, I am deadly serious about winemaking, and I am more than deadly serious about myself.”

He’s been making wine for 23 years now, and he’s bursting with delight at the news that he’s just got a 97 for his top-line pinot noir. He describes himself as a farmer. “I’m no good at tools,” he says, “but I can grow things”.

I take him at his word on the wine and the acting, though I’m not sure how seriously Sam Neill really takes himself. But when it comes to politicians pandering to our worst instincts, he is deadly earnest indeed.

He describes as “utterly shameful” the support of both major parties in Australia for the “terrible incarceration in offshore concentration camps” of asylum seekers, though he wonders if, as a non-citizen, he even has the right to speak up. Then again, “any time I see the race card being played I start to see red”.

He publicly backed former Labor prime minister Helen Clark because “she stood for a New Zealand that was inclusive rather than exclusive, and I gave my family as being an exemplar of that. We’re Asian, we’re Maori, that’s how New Zealand is now. And I refuse to be divided.

“I hate borders. I hate walls between people,” he continues, warming to the theme. “Donald Trump wanting to build a wall between the US and Mexico – what f—ing madness is that? Tear down the walls!”

For once there’s no twinkle in his eye. But there’s plenty of charm in that all the same.

Karl Quinn is on Facebook and on twitter @karlkwinThe bill, please

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Wimbledon 2016: Sam Stosur returns to where the grass is not always greener

The fact that Sam Stosur does not experience the same feelings when she first passes through the iron gates of the All England Club as she does during her annual expedition to Roland Garros is not to say that her least-successful grand slam does not hold some happy memories. Three times a doubles finalist, and twice a champion in the mixed, two of Stosur’s best three Wimbledon singles results have come in the past three years.
Shanghai night field

Never, though, has she passed the third round, which is evidence of how much more difficult Australia’s highest-ranked player has found the grasscourt major than the clay – or US hardcourt – varieties. In Paris, for example, her recent, career-reviving run to a fourth French Open semi-final has also restored Stosur to the relative comfort of the top 20, and a top-16 seeding next week on the south-west London lawns.

“For whatever reason it hasn’t quite happened [for me] at Wimbledon, but I don’t think it’s been a disaster by any means,” says Stosur, who limited her preparation to the traditional lead-up week at Eastbourne – the scene of, historically, her best results on grass, but this time a 6-2, 6-1 thrashing from Caroline Wozniacki.

“I just find it harder. And that’s just the way it is. Unfortunately it happens at a really big tournament where Australia’s had a great history, and there’s a lot of emphasis on Wimbledon. So it’s easy to kind of get hung-up and think things have been a lot worse than maybe what they are.”

Still, the silver lining in the clouds that so often hover over Wimbledon during the famous fortnight is that, at least relatively, expectations are low. From an Australian perspective, most eyes – including the bleary ones conducting late-night TV vigils a hemisphere away – will be trained on former quarter-finalists Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic. Which suits Stosur perfectly well.

If only the grass did. The lower bounce does not help her topspin-heavy game, or the wide kick serve with which she likes to set up points for her big forehands to finish off. She has struggled with her movement at times, too, and admits she erred tactically in her early visits by trying to depart too radically from her natural game.

“I don’t serve and volley, really, any other time of the year, and I think I kind of got hung up on trying to do certain things too much that I’m just not as comfortable with,” Stosur says. “Then all of a sudden you’re on a surface that you’re a little more uncomfortable with, trying to play a game style that you’re not quite sure of, and then you end up having some early losses.

“I think as I’ve got older and further along in my career I’ve realised that ‘you know what, you’ve still got to play the way you play well, no matter what surface you’re on’ and I think I’ve been able to have that mentality a lot better the last few years so I want to kind of continue along that line and just really try and enjoy these next couple of weeks.

“It’s really such a short stint of the year, and I’d love to get to the fourth round and get my best results. I think it’s definitely achievable but I’ve almost got to be extra focused and I guess committed to doing certain things maybe a little bit more than even other surfaces, because I can’t do certain things that come very easily, say, on the clay.”

One upside should be the sliced backhand she used to such good effect during a French Open run halted only by eventual champion Garbine Muguruza. Stosur points out that not only is it not something everyone possesses, but nor do opponents necessarily deal with it well. She plans to use it, but not overdo it, mix it into her game, and vary the pace and depth to help gain control of points and, thus, play the way she likes to.

The kick serve, though, she laughingly describes as “a bit irrelevant” on grass, even if her experiences at the pointy end of the doubles and mixed draws has made her aware it can be more useful later in the tournament. “As the court gets older and more worn out it gets harder if there’s a lot of sunshine, so then you can start incorporating it.

“To me it’s a lot harder to play at Wimbledon the first few days when the grass is super green, it’s a bit longer, and it’s harder to move because it’s more slippery, and unfortunately that’s when something like the kick serve can kind of just check-up a little bit; it doesn’t get the height, obviously, so I may have to hit a few more sliced second serves than what I normally would  and try and keep the ball a little bit lower.

“But I think if I can get through that early part where it is a little more difficult, so many times by the end of the tournament when I’ve been playing doubles, I’m playing exactly how I want and everything feels fantastic. But you’ve got to get to that point!”

Trialling a new coach, Fed Cup hitting partner Andrew Roberts, since her long association with David Taylor ended this month, Stosur sneaked back to Australia for eight or nine days after Paris, where she rated her wins over nemesis Lucie Safarova and sixth seed Simona Halep as two of her best matches “for a very long time”.

So next is Wimbledon, another nemesis of sorts. Walking back in to where she has a 10-13 career singles record is not like returning to Roland Garros, where she was the 2012 runner-up, but nor is that necessarily a bad thing. “I still love getting to Wimbledon and it’s got a different feel to it,” says Stosur. “It is exciting and all of that, but I guess I haven’t got the fantastic memories from the singles matches there as I do at Roland Garros.

“But then also if you look at it another way I guess at Roland Garros I really feel like I should be able to do well, and have a result like I did a couple of weeks ago, whereas I’m not walking into Wimbledon thinking ‘oh, far out, I have to make semis or I’m not going to be happy with my results’. I can almost be a little bit more relaxed at Wimbledon in some ways, and just enjoy being there.

“It’s just a couple of tournaments for me for the year on grass, and it’s a bit of a novelty in some ways, but it’s certainly somewhere where I do feel I can play well. Really, there’s no real pressure on me to do great on this surface, it’s just ‘see where you can get to’.”

What’s legal at the polling booth

The law is very specific about what is and isn’t allowed on polling day both inside and outside the booth. Photo: Phil Hearne Voting … it’s something rich, white Aussie men have been doing since 1840 but today it is the democratic right of all Australians. The right to vote was hard won by women and indigenous people, with a failure to cast your vote now resulting in a fine for breaking the law.
Shanghai night field

So what is legal and illegal on polling day both inside AND outside the booth?

What’s say on July 2 when the whole process of waiting in line has made you grumpy, you end up drawing your version of Mona Lisa all over the ballot paper, without numbering any boxes: this is called an informal vote. It means you marked the ballot paper, but you did not number every square so you’ve complied with the law but you have wasted your democratic opportunity. You can’t be fined for this however your vote will not count.

If you aren’t artistic enough to draw anything and you just number every square from the top to the bottom, this is called a donkey vote. This doesn’t incur a fine either as it is still valid and will be counted.

Not only can voters get in trouble for not casting their votes, but political parties and candidates can also get into hot water, including the people outside a polling booth making last-minute attempts to convince you to vote for their party.

A political party or candidate cannot publish or distribute electoral material which misleads or deceives a voter in casting their vote. For example, a sign saying, “don’t bother numbering the squares, just draw”, would be illegal, as this entices voters to cast an informal vote. This could result in a $1000 fine or six months in prison.

Other things that are illegal at a polling booth: A person can’t bribe you to vote for them or their political party or hinder the exercise of your free choice in deciding who to vote for. This is a $9000 fine and/or six months in prison. However, this doesn’t include handing out how to vote cards. Candidates and their teams cannot be within six metres of the entrance to a polling booth. Any soliciting of votes within this area can lead to a fine of up to $900.A person can’t use a loudspeaker or microphone outside a booth if it can be heard inside. The fine is also $900. A person must not write, draw or depict any electoral matter directly on any roadway, footpath, building, vehicle, vessel or place. The history of this offence goes back to the shortages of building supplies following WWII. It basically amounts to a graffiti type offence and does not cover printed and paid for signage. The fine is up to $1800.Scrutineers or officers inside the polling booth are not allowed to wear political badges or any emblem representing a candidate. This carries a $1000 fineThey are also not allowed to try to influence or communicate with voters in the booths. A breach of this rule can be six months prison and/or an $1800 fine.

If you see something you think may be wrong, contact the AEC on 13 23 26 or visit http://www.aec.gov.au/.

Happy voting and make sure you have your voice heard.

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Alison and Jillian Barrett are both principals at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The Queensland sisters are experienced lawyers and passionate social justice campaigners. Alison juggles motherhood, as well as heading up a major legal practice area. Younger sister Jillian also leads a team of lawyers and sports a double degree in Law and Journalism.

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