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Australian News

Seniors could be asked to sell family home under death tax


Baby Boomers could be asked to sell the family home when they die to pay for aged care costs under a new plan to slap an effective death tax on seniors to fund care.

Former Treasurer Peter Costello has urged the Morrison Government to consider an expanded pensioner loans scheme during his appearance today at the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

Under the proposal, seniors would be given the option of taking out a loan secured against the family home, that would then be sold when they died or other assets liquidated.

While some banks already offer reverse home loans, Mr Costello has called for debate on expanding a pensions loans scheme to use the family home as an asset that could be sold when a retiree dies to recover costs.

“I mean, financial products that can allow people to raise accommodation bonds against the family home, which is generally their greatest asset, I think there’s a much more scope for them and I think the Government could assist there,” Mr Costello said.

“The Government has a thing called the Pension Loan Scheme which it says is available. The private sector has what is called a reversible mortgage or equity drawdown mortgages.

“But I do think, you know, this is a classic area where those people that do use residential care and do have assets should be asked to make a contribution and guaranteed a return of their deaths.”

RELATED: Woman screwed by new tax plan

But Mr Costello stressed that informed consent was the key to the proposal so that family members understood the cost would ultimately come out of the estate.

“Even today, if you’re asked to put up an accommodation bond, you can raise that bond with your own house as security,” he said.

“I mean, the point I’d make is that I think people should do it knowingly and in advance and there should be products that allow them to do that during their lifetime. If you come around and try to take their assets after they’ve died, I think you can expect to run into a lot of opposition there.”

Mr Costello urged debate on the option as an extension of reforms he introduced during the Howard Government.

“I felt you were never going to be able to run residential aged care with the ageing of the population off the taxpayer alone and you had to get private money and we introduced what we then called accommodation bonds,” Mr Costello said.

But Australia’s longest serving Treasurer also raised the alarm that the red tape and forms to enter aged care were so complex that even he struggled with them.

“Now, the members of my family I have attempted to fill in these income and assets tests. You all ought to do them,” he said.

“I’m reasonably financially literate. I had a lot of trouble filling it in. I don’t know how a person going into a nursing home would ever be able to fill it in.

“We’re talking about people who might be 80 or 90 years of age. How do they do this? My suspicion is that a lot of them just don’t.”

RELATED: $20k mistake under-35s are making

Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry told the inquiry he still believed that a compulsory tax levy to fund aged care was necessary.

But he echoed Mr Costello’s concern about the complexity of the system.

“My principal source of discomfort is that the system overall is horribly complex and it contains a very high level of uncertainty for people,” Dr Henry said.

“People who are elderly, people who are vulnerable, people who are suffering emotional and psychological stress, many, of course, unfortunately are mentally impaired to some extent, too many have little or inadequate family support and they confront the aged care system knowing nothing about it, knowing that they have no real option but to throw themselves into the system because it’s quite simply impossible for them to continue to look after themselves.

“And they’re bewildered. This system is unsustainable. It’s underfunded, it’s under resourced and it will not be tolerated. In particular, it will not be tolerated by the Baby Boomers themselves when they find themselves in this system.”



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Local News - Victoria

The questions suspected COVID-19 cases are asked


The questions have been tweaked during the pandemic, prompting disease detectives to ask questions about hospitalisations, symptoms, comorbidities and risk history including recent travel or contact with a confirmed case.

Cases are asked to detail their movements for the fortnight before falling ill and then the 48 hours prior to and since displaying symptoms. They are asked who they were with, what they did, where they went and how long they stayed.

Mary-Louise McLaws, a UNSW epidemiologist and World Health Organisation COVID-19 advisor, said a good set of questions ensured contact tracers worked quickly and efficiently to “help with the burden of memory”.

“It is a very emotive time for the person on the other end of the phone,” she said.

“The contact tracer needs to go through it with as much speed and empathy as possible. It is pretty hard.”

Professor McLaws said contact tracers should steer clear of pejorative language to ensure COVID-19 victims didn’t feel judged.

“During SARS people were slow to tell you things that were important because they were fearful of being value-judged,” she said. “The same thing happened with HIV.”

She would like government to gather feedback from COVID-19 victims about their experience with contact tracers to see what could have worked better.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said COVID-19 was wildly infectious and contact tracers needed to ask more detailed questions about people’s movements than they did for other communicable diseases.

“As we have learnt more about the disease we have refined and developed our contact tracing questionnaire to ensure it continues to be evidence based and current,” he said.

The COVID-19 questionnaire used in Victoria appears less prescriptive than the one used in NSW.

NSW contact tracers read from a detailed questionnaire that resembles a call centre script.

It includes prompts such as: “Can you please take me through the two weeks leading up to the onset of your symptom? A calendar or diary, work roster, phone photos, credit or debit card information, might help.”

Contact tracers run through a series of questions with cases to stop the deadly spread of the virus.

Contact tracers run through a series of questions with cases to stop the deadly spread of the virus.Credit:Jason South

Professor Mark Stoove, an infectious disease expert from the Burnet Institute, said the most effective contact tracers did not robotically read through questions.

“A good contact tracer is someone who is able to engage in a conversation,” he said. “They develop rapport with the case.”

Professor Stoove said that because coronavirus was so contagious, the questions had to be more comprehensive than those used for other communicable diseases such as measles and HIV.

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“They need to know exactly your whereabouts for different times of the day, precisely the names of all the people you come in close contact with,” he said. “It is much more complex.”

Contact tracing identifies, assesses and manages people who have been exposed to a disease to stop its spread.

The Andrews government has been desperately trying to rebuild public confidence in the state’s contact tracing system, which has been blamed for helping fuel Victoria’s second deadly wave of coronavirus.

Victorian health officials will soon visit Sydney to study NSW’s contact tracing efforts, while the state government announced on Tuesday it would move to a NSW-style model where community hubs tackle outbreaks using local knowledge.

New technology including artificial intelligence has also been rolled out in an effort to improve the Victorian system.

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Australian News

Melbourne residents are being asked to stand on porches and scream


Locked down but not beaten, Melbourne residents are being invited to stand on their front porch and let out a collective scream on Friday.

The choir of pent up frustration will sound at 7pm after last Friday’s inaugural event generated interest in the thousands via social media.

About 24,000 people replied they were “attending” last week’s Facebook event, initiated by Tess Roberts as a lighthearted way to deal with stage four restrictions and the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.

“Everyone’s a bit sad. Just stand on your porch and scream until you feel a bit better. Let’s all unite in our shared depression,” she posted.

People took to the notion with gusto, uploading videos of themselves doing their best shout.

Aussie rock royalty Jimmy Barnes also chimed in with some coaching tips highlighting his best warm-up screams.

“I start off a little bit low and then I get higher as I go,” he explains in the video before launching into a yell.

“I find having a good scream really lets out a bit of tension, so it’s a good thing to do.”

After last Friday’s deed, Lia Panas wrote: “Felt really good after screaming my lungs out … literally”.

Miriam Fathalla posted: “My throat hurts but my heart is happy.”

Ferntree Gully man Sean Icon McVeigh, 35, was also among the screamers.

“I just yelled out and in the faint distance heard a couple more voices,” he said.

“I had a bit of a giggle. It was quite entertaining and a bit therapeutic in a weird way.”

He is hoping to build on the momentum by organising a repeat event this Friday, urging people to take it as a “lighthearted thing”.

“Since the last event was a success, I thought, ‘Why not keep it going every Friday night at 7pm at least until the lockdown is over?’

“Just for fun and to get some of that frustration out because of this stupid COVID. It’s simple, all you have to do is go outside and scream and let it all out.”



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Australian News

Australians asked to stand on their driveways and ‘Light up the Dawn’


Australians have taken to their driveways to commemorate this year’s Anzac Day, which the Prime Minister described would be one to be remembered “for a very long time”.

Unable to gather in groups due to coronavirus restrictions, Aussies lit candles in their driveways at 6am as part of the Returned Services League’s “Light Up The Dawn” initiative.

The stark difference between this year’s Anzac Day commemorations and those past was acknowledged at barely attended memorials around the country, where special exemptions were made to conduct dawn services.

Marches have been cancelled for only the third time — the last time in 1942 and previously during the devastating Spanish flu outbreak.

Wakehurst Golf Course had an enormous poppy design painted on the green to commemorate Anzac Day. The creators encouraged organisations to paint poppies of all shapes and sizes on empty and unused fields for “Painting Poppies for Anzac Day”.

Yesterday, Mr Morrison flagged the RSL’s initiative and streamed services as “an opportunity for all of us to gather as our nation remembers its fallen and its heroes and reflects on the great values that sustain them at other times,” he said.

“It was a hundred years ago when Australians returned from the First World War, and on their first Anzac Day in Australia, it was in the middle of the Spanish flu. And so something very similar to what we will face tomorrow, as we gather together without the parades, but we do so quietly and commemoratively, and I do think it will be a very special time,” he said.

“Anzac Day is special. Let’s remember them tomorrow. Make a post. Thank them for their service. Let them know they’re all appreciated, much admired, greatly respected. And join in the national effort, I think, for an Anzac Day which will be one to remember for a very long time.”

As part of its initiative, the RSL is encouraged Aussies to “light up the dawn” and pledge to stand in their driveways, on balconies or in living rooms this Saturday morning with candles, torches or mobile phones in hand.

News Corp Australia has also created a virtual candle available for download here.

If you forget to set your alarm, fear not, musicians are also being urged to play The Last Post at 6am on trumpets and bugles. Some people have already announced they will be opting for less-traditional instruments such as saxophones and violins.

Horse SA has invited “horse owners and their steeds” – including donkeys and mules – to stand at the end of their driveway to mark the occasion and “keep the memory of the Light Horse alive through this difficult time”.

April 25 commemorates the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI.

This year marks the 105th anniversary of the landing of ANZAC troops at Gallipoli in 1915.

“Just imagine how special it would be if every Australian was standing in their driveway at 6am on Anzac Day, united in spirit to remember all those who have served and sacrificed for the lifestyle we enjoy today,” RSL Queensland said.

“If you have rosemary growing in your garden, pin a sprig to your lapel in remembrance of those who served and sacrificed for our sake.”

Aussies were encouraged to be ready a few minutes early so everyone can begin their service at 6am.

You can “pledge your place” here and print flyers encouraging your neighbourhood to do so.

“This year, we will not be gathering at the local cenotaph, or attending gunfire breakfasts at the local RSL, or gathering together to bow our heads in silence and listen to the bugles at dawn,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“But we will still remember the sacrifice of those who gave so much for us at Gallipoli and on many fronts, as we ourselves give what we can to protect Australian lives while we face this terrible virus.”

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, gave the green light for a service at the Australian War Memorial on Saturday morning which will be closed to the public and attended by “essential” persons only.

“We encourage you to #StandAtDawn and watch the live telecast of the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial,” the Department of Defence wrote on Twitter.

RELATED: Do we get an Anzac Day public holiday this year?

WHERE CAN I WATCH OR LISTEN TO A SERVICE?

The national commemorative service will be broadcast live from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on ABC TV and iview from 5.30am AEST on Saturday. It will also be live streamed on the AWM website, on Facebook and YouTube.

Alternatively, at 6am you can play an audio file from the RSL of the Anzac Day service including The Ode, The Last Post, a minute’s silence, Reveille and the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand. The service is available to listen or download here.

At 11.30am local time, the ABC will broadcast a two-minute, quiet reflection on its national and local radio services, main television channel, ABC NEWS channel, ABC iview and on social media. Anzac Day marches from 2019 and the centenary commemorative services from Gallipoli (2015) and Villers Bretonneux (2018) will be rebroadcast from 12.30pm on ABC’s main channel.

The AWM will also stream a Last Post Ceremony at 4.55pm on its various social media channels.

The ABC will broadcast Governor-General David Hurley’s Anzac Day address at 6.55pm local time.

Smaller services, attended by community leaders, will be held in capital cities across the country on Saturday.

In Brisbane, wreaths will be laid at 4.28am by four people including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the Shrine of Remembrance.

The 6am service from the Adelaide National War Memorial will be available on ABC Radio Adelaide, ABC Regional stations and TV. Those in Darwin are encouraged by RSL SA/NT to tune into the ABC coverage and national service.

The 6am service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne will be live streamed on RSL Victoria’s Facebook page from 5.50am.

A 6.30am Perth service including a message from Premier Mark McGowan will be streamed on RSL WA’s Facebook.

A service will be broadcast from the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park in Sydney from 10am, streamed by RSL NSW. Here is the order of service.

In Hobart, a local commemorative service will be broadcast on ABC Radio Hobart and ABC Hobart’s Facebook at 11.30am.

WHAT ELSE TO DO AT HOME ON ANZAC DAY

At 7.30pm on Anzac Day, Channel 9 will air Music From The Home Front, a concert organised by music industry figure Michael Gudinski and Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes who leads the stellar line-up of performers.

Meanwhile, the Australian War Memorial has published instructions on its website for assembling poppies and remembrance wreaths, playing two-up and making Anzac biscuits.

You can take a virtual walk around some of the Anzac battle sites in Gallipoli with the Anzac Walk Audio Tour.

If you feel like expressing your support and thoughts to Australian troops, you can send an email to supportthetroops@defence.gov.au.

“Emails sent to deployed personnel are distributed widely and are very much appreciated by Australian Defence Force members on operations,” the Australian Defence Force says.

For those in a financial position to donate, there is the Anzac Appeal to support veterans and their families.

You can also record a short video of you or a family member reciting The Ode and upload it to social media with the hashtag #ForTheFallen to join a growing archive of tributes.



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News

You asked us 45,000 questions about coronavirus COVID-19. Here’s what you wanted to know


By Widia Jalal

Posted

April 09, 2020 06:36:21

The spread of coronavirus has changed the way we live, as economic, financial and social impacts reverberate across the globe.

Many countries have now closed their borders, businesses have shut their doors and hundreds of thousands of Australians have lost their jobs.

To help you navigate through this rapidly changing world we asked what you wanted to know about COVID-19.

Over the past month we received 45,000 questions which gave an insight into Australia’s biggest worries related to the outbreak.

Every day, your questions have helped guide our approach to covering the pandemic.

Here’s what we’ve learned about you, and the way you’re responding to the coronavirus crisis, along with some of the answers we found for you.

(And yes, we really did read every single question you sent us.)

Questions flooded in from across the country, and one thing was abundantly clear: Many of you wanted to know what symptoms to look out for, and the next steps to take if you have any of them.

Your questions by topic in March

What are the symptoms of coronavirus and are they distinguishable from the usual flu symptoms? – David, WA

My partner woke up with a sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, no body aches and a temperature of 36.9 c, what should we do? – Lisa, Vic

You wondered why COVID-19 was such a big deal, and you wanted to be sure you knew how to tell the difference between coronavirus and a cold or flu – especially when it comes to those who are most at risk.

Why is this outbreak more serious than, say, the common flu that kills hundreds in Australia each year? – Peter, Vic

Is everyone susceptible? – Ian, NT

You were also quick to ask about the impact on children, babies and pregnant women.

I have heard a lot about the virus affecting elderly people and people with pre-existing respiratory conditions, what about pregnant mothers and small children? – Marita, Vic

Should we wait to try and make a baby? Is now a bad time to try and make a baby? – Tim, WA

Some, like Tim, were thinking about the impact on family planning.

While the risks for mothers and babies have been found to be very low, there are no guarantees, so strict prevention measures must still be in place.

You were keen on learning how to stay safe

We have been told to wash our hands for no less than 20 seconds. What is the best way to dry them? – Janis, Vic

Is liquid soap or bar soap more effective in sanitising hands? – Jo

We are advised to stop touching our faces. When I am aware of it, I am touching my face because it itches. Why do our faces itch so much? And why do we touch our faces so much? – Magpie, Vic

The strong message is to maintain great personal hygiene by washing your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face, sneeze into your elbow, practice social distancing and stay home if you’re sick.

If you’re debating whether to use bar soap or liquid soap like Jo, the answer boils down to technique.

This demonstration by Dr Karl also shows how to wash your hands effectively and how to best dry them.

And just for the record Magpie, we don’t blame you.

The fact is if it wasn’t for coronavirus we’d all be touching our faces approximately 23 times per hour.

There were lots of questions about travel

Many of you also wanted to know what self-isolation involves and how it applies to travellers.

What are the details to self-isolate in Australia? – Joe, SA

If any person arrives in Australia from another country, if they live in a different state than where they land, are they free to take another plane home before self-isolating? – Lynette, NT

Early in March, the initial advice on self-isolation only applied to those who had returned from high-risk countries, been in contact with someone who had returned from high-risk countries, or been in contact with a confirmed case.

But that changed on March 15, when all incoming travellers were told to put on a mask and head straight home upon touchdown then self-isolate for 14 days.

On March 28, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared all international travellers must complete their 14-day isolation period at a state-run quarantine centre in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, as returning travellers made up more than two-thirds of Australia’s cases.

So the answer to your question Lynette is that they would need to complete the mandatory isolation before being able to catch a connecting flight back to their home state.

Who’s most worried about travelling?

Territorians seemed the most interested in travel as an issue, with questions on the topic accounting for around one-third of their total queries.

I have to go home to Darwin driving via Gold Coast … do I have to isolate in Queensland even if I’m not staying there or can I just pick up car and start driving to Darwin? – James, NT

Should we go ahead with our road trip from Darwin to Perth in our caravan? – Wendy, NT

If you land in Perth, your home is Darwin, can you fly on a commercial flight to get to your home to self-isolate? If not, how and where do you self-isolate, is accommodation available for these people? – Di Oleary, NT

The NT Government made it clear that as long as you cross their borders, self-isolation is mandatory and accommodation won’t be free if you’re flying in.

You also asked how the NT’s strict border rules compared to other parts of the country.

A 14-day quarantine is mandatory in Tasmania and South Australia for all non-essential travellers.

Western Australia closed its borders at 11.59pm on Sunday.

And you can still get into Queensland if you hold a valid border permit.

But your travel questions didn’t just apply to international or interstate ventures. Many of you asked about the risk of catching the bus or train and whether services would continue to run across the country.

While public transport staff are ramping up the cleaning to keep you safe, you also need to do your part by maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing.

You Ask, We Answer questions by state

You were interested in the science behind it all

How long does the coronavirus survive? Does it survive longer on different surfaces? – Julie, SA

If coronavirus can be found on a variety of surfaces, can it be found on dog fur? And if you pat a dog whose owner has coronavirus, can you potentially pick it up? – Katie, NSW

I feel like supermarkets would be a virus hotbed, so when I bring my groceries home what should I do? – Robyn, NSW

The lifespan of the coronavirus on surfaces was top of your mind, and it even got Katie thinking about whether pets’ fur could contribute to the spread.

A lot of research is still being done, but veterinarian Jenni Trewren reckons you are safe to keep your furry friends close.

Transmission through food was another concern, so we came up with a guide to help you survive the ordeal of grocery shopping.

Tip: Always be sure to wash your fruit and vegetables before eating them.

You were curious about the number of cases

Can we have a graph of cases over time please? – Bronwyn, Qld

Our Digital Story Innovations team built this interactive article to keep you up to date with cases across the country, so, Bronwyn, you can delve into all the numbers and watch as they change over time.

You had growing concerns about welfare and support

As job losses mounted up quickly after the closure of non-essential businesses, many of you asked about the support measures the Government was putting in place.

Some hospitality businesses are still operating, although limited to takeaway services, so you can still support them.

The shift in work habits following the advice to work from home where possible sparked a lot of questions.

What are the tax options for PAYE employees covering work from home expenses — utilities, council rates, office supplies, phone, internet etc? – Fiona, VIC

What is the Government doing for people who have lost their jobs and have rental agreements? – Heather, TAS

When it comes to tax, it’s good to stay on the safe side and keep a record of your expenses.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has also announced a new tax method that allows you to claim 80 cents per hour on all running expenses.

Those who lost their jobs or saw their hours cut were more interested in knowing what alternatives were in store for them.

The Government initially rolled out a stimulus package to provide financial assistance to five major groups, but later extended that help to affected businesses and workers through JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.

If businesses need to lay off staff, can those who have lost their jobs access Centrelink payments instantly to help with rent/food etc.? If so, what is the process? Also, what if you have a mortgage? Are the banks suspending mortgage payments for those who have lost their jobs? – Jo, Vic

For those worried about accessing Centrelink for the first time, we took you through the process step-by-step.

And yes, Jo, the big four banks are offering to freeze mortgage payments.

As for rent, a moratorium is not entirely off the table for residential tenants while commercial tenants may now have the option to defer payments.

Last of all, you wanted to be sure of the rules

Is it safe to walk my dog in the park if I do not go near anybody? – Malcolm, NSW

Is it OK to play golf? – Mary-Anne, ACT

Can my daughter see her boyfriend? – Donna, WA

Am I allowed to take a 20-minute drive to the beach and have a surf? – John, SA

You wanted help understanding the new two-person rule imposed on gatherings and how it might affect you, especially when penalties were set.

The law stipulates that there are only four acceptable reasons to leave home. However, it does differ slightly between states, including the activities you can and cannot do.

Whatever you’re doing, be sure to stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.

By the way John, it’s a good thing you’re in South Australia, because you can still catch a wave there, but with such a rapidly changing rulebook, who’s to say things won’t be different in the next couple of weeks?

How your questions changed during March

If you haven’t been able to find the answer to your question, why not check out Coronacast? Or you can send it our way by submitting a question here:

Topics:

covid-19,

health,

diseases-and-disorders,

government-and-politics,

community-and-society,

australia



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Australian News

Premier League footballers are being asked to take a coronavirus pay cut, but should they?


Posted

April 06, 2020 10:51:09

There is a storm brewing at the upper end of English football, with Premier League players coming under fire from politicians and the public for not taking a pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are arguments that the highly visible, millionaire players should be doing more at a time when the country is struggling.

However, former England captain Wayne Rooney has said players are in a “no-win situation” and that the argument as a whole is a “disgrace”.

The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) has even suggested a pay cut could actually do more harm than good.

So who is right?

What is the status of football in England?

Almost every league around the world, with a couple of exceptions, have been postponed indefinitely, if not cancelled entirely.

The Premier League was not immune and, after initially proposing to restart in May, has since said it will not resume until it is “safe and appropriate to do so.”

“Any return to play will only be with the full support of government and when medical guidance allows,” a Premier League statement read.

The clubs and league have said they still hope to complete the season at some point, including cup competitions, “enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition”.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Why is there pressure for the players to take pay cuts?

One in 20 people in the UK are estimated to have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus so far, according to a YouGov survey.

With wages in English football ballooning in the 28 years since the Premier League split from the Football League, there are suggestions it is a bad look for players to remain on full pay despite not playing.

A number of clubs, including champions-elect Liverpool, have furloughed their non-playing staff — a move that prompted fierce criticism from supporters and former players online.

Former Liverpool striker Stan Collymore wrote on Twitter, “I don’t know of any Liverpool fan of any standing that won’t be anything other than disgusted at the club.”

Liverpool joined Tottenham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bournemouth in placing their staff on furlough, yet paying their players their full salaries.

Matters have been made worse by two recent cases of players ignoring UK lockdown rules, with Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish and Manchester City’s Kyle Walker both being forced to apologise for recent incidents.

As such, the players have become something of a target, fielding criticism from UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“Given the sacrifices many people are making, the first thing Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution,” Mr Hancock said at a daily coronavirus briefing last week.

What is being proposed by the Premier League?

The Premier League proposed that players take a 30 per cent pay cut for 12 months.

The league also said it would make a 20 million pound ($40.7 million) donation to “charitable causes.”

The PFA though, said this was not enough.

“20 million pounds is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger,” a PFA statement read.

“All Premier League players want to, and will, play their part in making significant financial contributions in these unprecedented times.

“Discussions about how players can best financially contribute have been ongoing during the current crisis.”

Those discussions have been taking place between Premier League captains, lead by Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson.

What is the players’ argument?

The PFA has said if players salaries are reduced, it would cost the Government “substantial sums” in tax revenue.

“The combined tax on their salaries is a significant contribution to funding essential public services,” read the PFA’s statement.

“The proposed 30 per cent salary deduction over a 12-month period equates to over 500 million pounds ($1.01 billion) in wage reductions and a loss in tax contributions of over 200 million pounds to the Government.

“What effect does this loss of earning to the Government mean for the NHS?

“Was this considered in the Premier League proposal and did the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, factor this in when asking players to take a salary cut?”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Is the criticism fair?

Some players are suggesting footballers are an “easy target” due to their high profile and the general awareness of their large salaries.

Former England skipper Rooney wrote in his Sunday Times column, “Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?”

“I get that players are well paid and could give up money. But this should be getting done on a case-by-case basis,” he wrote.

“Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets. What gets lost is that half our wages get taken by the taxman. Money that goes to the Government, money that is helping the NHS.”

What the experts are saying about coronavirus:

What have other football clubs done?

Some of the biggest clubs in the world have agreed to significant pay cuts in recent weeks.

Outside the Premier League, Leeds United, who lead the second-tier Championship, announced players would defer part of their wages “for the foreseeable future” to ensure the non-playing staff would continue to be paid.

In Italy, reigning champions Juventus said its players had frozen their wages for four months.

Players at German teams Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have also taken pay cuts.

La Liga leaders FC Barcelona confirmed players would take a 70 per cent pay cut, primarily to ensure non-playing staff retained their full wage.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi said in a statement: “We, as players, are always here to help the the club when they ask.”

However, the statement came with a significant barb towards the club.

“It does not cease to surprise us that from within the club there were those who tried to put us under the magnifying glass and tried to add pressure to do something that we always knew we would do,” Messi’s statement read.

“If we didn’t speak until now, it was because the priority was to to find solutions to help the club and to see who the most-affected were during this situation.”

Will clubs survive?

Some will, particularly the household names such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea etc, but others could struggle.

With no games being played, there are serious concerns about the viability of some clubs.

Burnley chairman Mike Garlick said at the weekend, smaller Premier League clubs could go bankrupt if they were forced to pay back TV money in the event of the season not being finished.

Garlick told Sky Sports Burnley would run out of money by August if football did not resume.

If the smaller Premier League clubs are set to struggle, then it is just as bad in the Football League.

While the Premier League clubs are propped up by TV money, clubs lower down the pyramid are far more dependant on gate receipts from matches that are now not happening.

The Premier League said it would advance 125 million pounds to the 72 clubs in the Football League and 24 fifth-tier National League clubs.

The PFA release said the Premier League could do more.

“The EFL money is an advance. Importantly, it will aid cashflow in the immediate, but football needs to find a way to increase funding to the EFL and non-league clubs in the long-term,” the statement read.

“Many clubs require an increase in funding just to survive.

“We believe in our football pyramid and again stress the need for solidarity between all clubs.”

Topics:

infectious-diseases-other,

respiratory-diseases,

covid-19,

english-premier,

sport,

soccer,

united-kingdom,

england





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Australian News

Questions asked about accuracy of iPhone app


Do you remember the tornado that swept through Sydney on December 19? What about the one on Australia Day?

Surely Melbourne’s November 2019 tornado, that barrelled through inner-city Prahran, is etched into the memory banks? No? Well that’s not a huge surprise, because none of these rather dramatic weather events appear to have happened.

But if you have an iPhone and opened the pre-installed weather app, that’s the forecast you would have received. The preponderance of phantom tornadoes as well as some very suspect forecasts during the recent Sydney rain event has led many to wonder just how accurate the Apple app actually is.

Both Apple and the company which supplies the weather data have pointed the finger at each other as to why the app may be a bit whack.

Than Pham, from Epping in Sydney’s north, was one of those people who opened his Apple weather app last month to discover he was about to be swept off his feet by a tornado.

“I was like, OK we’re about to have a tornado. I was surprised because January 26 was a hot day,” he told news.com.au.

Mr Pham said he refreshed the app and still it warned of the very specific impeding extreme weather event.

Yet Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) data shows that on January 26, Sydney saw a high of 32C, had 9.6 hours of sun and 0.2mm of rain. The maximum wind gust was a brisk 59km/h. No tornadoes were reported.

Social media users from such usually tornado-less cites as London, Glasgow and New York have also had their iPhone app warn them of just such a weather event which doesn’t come close to eventuating.

SYDNEY RAIN PAIN

It happened again, albeit less dramatically, over the last few days. Like many Sydneysiders, Mr Pham was glued to his phone app wondering when the record-breaking rain would break.

“On Monday, the app was telling us it would rain all day. Actually, it was quite sunny.”

Mr Pham’s experience with the app reflected that of a number of readers who have said their Apple weather app relayed forecasts that seemed wildly inaccurate and out of kilter with the BOM.

A screenshot of the app on Monday displayed icons clearly showing thunderstorms for Tuesday and Wednesday and rain for the rest of the week.

The BOM forecast showed some rain. Thunderstorms were mentioned, but it was only a “chance” and even then most likely on the other side of the city. Even the rain was likely only to be a few millimetres worth – not the deluge of 180mm on Sunday.

“It does reflect badly on Apple. It’s the default weather app you’re given and it shows up on your lock screen. You expect it to be up to date and consistent. It’s not reliable,” said Mr Pham.

“My partner has an Android phone and that tells her the proper temperature at the proper time.”

It’s not the first time the app has come in for criticism. In March 2018, when much of Britain shivered during a “snow bomb”, iPhone users complained the app massively underplayed the threat. In some cases, the app showed a sunny day or a small chance of snow while blizzards raged outside, reported The Sun.

Apple specialises in many things; meteorology is not one of its fortes.

The Apple weather app is fed by data from the US Weather Channel, part of the Weather Company division of IBM.

Apple didn’t comment on the app but directed inquiries to the Weather Company. But Melissa Medori, a spokeswoman for the IBM firm, said it wasn’t their forecasts that were wrong and they were taking up the matter with Apple.

“We are aware of the issue, which we have confirmed is not a result of inaccurate forecasting. We are working closely with Apple to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

Ms Medori said concerned users should use the Weather Channel app instead.

WEATHER IS COMPLEX AND UNPREDICTABLE

A study by ForecastWatch which assesses the accuracy of weather outlooks showed Weather Company is the US’ most accurate forecaster getting it right 77.5 per cent of the time.

That number might seem quite low but weather is notoriously difficult to predict. Storms alter direction, clouds fail to release their rain. Even the BOM was forecasting more rain on Monday then eventuated.

“The data which IBM uses would be just as accurate as modelling data which the BOM or we use,” Sky News Weather channel meteorologist Tom Saunders said.

He speculated that the BOM might quality check its Australian weather data more often than IBM’s weather division, which is based near Boston.

Relaying the complexity of a forecast in a single icon on an app can be a challenge. It is open to confusion if users rely solely on a tiny picture of a thundery cloud or sun to set them up for the day.

On the Apple app you scroll down to get the full detail on the likelihood of that thunderstorm or shower.

Also, different weather organisations use different models to predict the weather. The BOM’s model is uniquely tailored to Australia. It’s great for forecasting the weather in Perth, perhaps less so Paris.

YEP, WE DO GET TORNADOES
As for those mystery tornadoes, well they actually happen in Australia and more than you might think as they are so quick.

According to the BOM, there are dozens of tornadoes sighted every year and probably far more that go unnoticed.

“Many of the stronger tornadoes in Australia are associated with supercell thunderstorms,” the BOM stated.

“The tornado itself produces a violent wind that begins and ends quickly. It will last from several seconds to at most a few minutes and be accompanied by a variety of sounds caused by the damage to buildings and trees.”

One of Australia’s most famous tornadoes smashed its way through Sydney’s coastal suburbs in December 2015 delivering a maximum wind gust of 213km/h.

Sky’s Mr Saunders said that on January 26 thunderstorms did indeed rumble in Sydney, but there were no reports of a tornado.

Mr Pham is not convinced that, on that warm January day, with almost 10 hours of sunshine, an extreme weather event took place.

“I can assure you, no tornado descended over Epping.”

benedict.brook@news.com.au



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Australian News

The one question every female sport presenter has been asked


Updated

January 02, 2020 14:05:22

Fifty sport journalists walk into a bar.

They all happen to be women.

They all have one question they are asked more than any other.

“Do you even like sport?”

Previously, I thought I was the only one. That it was just me, constantly quizzed and queried about the latest news across every code and league — international and domestic — as though one small stumble or error was proof I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Apparently, it’s far more universal.

Recently, I travelled to the US on a fellowship with the State Department to meet other women in this crazy whirlwind of an industry.

While I never thought Australia was excessively progressive — especially its media landscape — in comparison to some of the stories I’d heard from my colleagues, we’re the Usain Bolt of equality.

Front runners.

Slapped. Ignored. Cut off

By comparison most of the women I was travelling with were “the first” or “the only” women in their respective newsrooms and commentary boxes.

In Australia, the likes of Debbie Spillane, Kelli Underwood and Mel Jones broke the ground I now glide across.

But most of my new friends have had to fight incessantly to be heard and taken seriously.

And while I can relate, I’ve never had my microphone turned off mid-broadcast because “women don’t commentate”, like the delegate from Bangladesh.

Unlike the woman from Nigeria, no national coach has ever turned down an interview with me because he “doesn’t talk to women”.

I’ve also never had to enclose a bikini-clad photograph of myself with my application for a World Cup posting, as my new friend from El Salvador did.

Nor have I been slapped across the face by a footballer playing for the Algerian national team because he had an issue with my publication.

In the #MeToo era, rally cries for women’s empowerment and equality are loud. And yes, they’ve been echoing in the sports media for years.

But perhaps they should be louder. More targeted. More concentrated. More veracious.

Because I met 47 women, from 47 different countries, whose voices have grown hoarse.

They are sick of being judged for the way they look.

They are beyond frustrated at having to work harder and longer than some of their male counterparts, just to be considered “credible”.

They are impatient for the presence of women in power positions.

But they are ever hopeful things can change.

How many female coaches can you name?

I have been fortunate in my career to have had both men and women lift me up and tear me down.

I have not had special treatment and I would never expect it.

We’re constantly told in Australia, “You can’t be it, if you don’t see it”. And off the back of this, we’ve seen the deserved rise and recognition of our female athletes, including most recently the FFA’s historic equal pay scheme for the Matildas and Cricket Australia’s new maternity leave policy.

But how many female coaches can you name?

Now, how many of those coaches oversee traditional “men’s sports”?

It’s not only the sport journalism arena where a woman’s perceived use has a structured limit. It’s backstage, too.

There are hundreds of men and women working tirelessly behind the scenes of the biggest clubs and the largest news organisations at a national and international level.

My point is you’re likely to only know the male names.

And that’s as heartbreaking as it is frustrating. Because it’s the fans who miss out when you don’t have a diverse group of voices championing and speaking for our wide sport offering.

Remember the delegate from Malaysia

My time in America has taught me that while there is always strength in numbers, progress is slow.

There’s no easy fix.

In fact, the most rational — and infuriating — solution is time itself.

Any kind of substantive, lasting change for the women I met is reliant upon wider cultural shifts.

For instance, my friend from Sri Lanka’s latest conundrum was how to convince her boss to send her on assignments when it would cost more than her male colleagues.

Not because she needed extra time or extra resources. But because a separate security team must travel with her to ensure her personal safety. At all times.

And don’t get me started on the additional budget and time required to get women in broadcast jobs up to a “presentable” standard.

The yearning for recognition and change is nothing new — from both a professional and personal perspective. But it was bloody nice to see each woman I met had survived similar battles. We’re a resilient bunch.

So, on the bad days, no matter what gender you may be or industry you work in, remember the delegate from Malaysia.

On her first day working as a sport journalist for her newspaper, her male colleagues took bets on how long she would last.

The longest was a meagre 12 months.

I’m proud to say she’s been a thorn in their sides for 22 years. And plans on digging deeper for another 22 yet.

Topics:

sport,

community-and-society,

journalism,

australia

First posted

January 02, 2020 05:00:21



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