Investors drive housing finance up

Written by admin on 30/07/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿

Lending for housing continued to rise in February, but in a way that’s likely to please the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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The value of finance approvals by banks and other lenders rose by 2.9 per cent or $775 million to $27.6 billion February.

The gain between January and February lifted the total value of loans by $5.5 billion or 24 per cent from a year earlier, according to the seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

The latest rise followed two months when approvals appeared to have flattened out after three big steps up in September, October and November.

The renewed strength will most likely rekindle concerns about the potential for the booming housing market to go bust, generating strains in the banking system and weakening the economy.

But the pattern within the lending was encouraging.

The RBA has been pinning its hopes on the housing construction sector to figure highly in the so-called “rebalancing” of the economy.

The mining investment boom is past its prime and it’s hoped that other sectors will grow faster to pick up the slack it leaves.

The latest housing finance figures suggest the central bank’s prayers are being answered.

Two thirds of the rise in February was accounted for by a surge in loans to investors to build new housing. (The rest was refinancing of existing home loans.)

So the rise in lending in February will be largely directed toward new building – just what the RBA wants.

And it’s not just the kind of one-off blip often seen in the volatile investor finance category.

On average over the past six months, lending for new housing – new and to-be-built, investors and home-buyers – has been running at $360 million a month more than in the preceding six months.

That new supply, once it’s built, should also help take the edge of price rises.

No-one, least of all the RBA, has promised the rebalancing will be a seamless affair.

But the pattern of housing finance offers some reasonable hope that things won’t turn out too badly.

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Top Gear star gave up on science dreams

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The British TV presenter, who has fronted science shows including Brainiac: Science Abuse and Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections, said: “I would have loved to have been a scientist but at school I was rather put off it.

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It felt inaccessible, it felt exclusive. I just felt it was one of those things for other people.

“I also loved painting and art, and I loved writing and English lessons, and I almost felt like I had to make a choice. I can’t like art and science, I couldn’t like both, so I just leant towards the artistic side of things rather than pursue science. That’s such a shame. (But) the world lost nothing when they lost me as a potential scientist.”

The 44-year-old, who presents National Geographic Channel’s new show Science Of Stupid featuring hilarious clips from YouTube, says things have changed for the better.

“I think genuinely things are changing now. It’s far more acceptable, perhaps because there’s an increase in visible technology around us and its immediate impact on our lives and our futures, meaning it is a far more immediate subject,” he says.

“It’s not stuffy, it doesn’t belong in laboratories, it belongs out in the world. There’s a lot of popular science television programs now and that’s great.

“I’m not saying the programs I make should inspire scientists of the future – that’s a big ambition and it might happen – but more likely and a more realistic ambition is to inspire people to talk about it in the pub.”

The father-of-two’s passion for science and technology has influenced his teenage daughters.

“My youngest daughter, bless her, is simply not interested but my eldest daughter indulges daddy so she’ll come with me when I fly helicopters, and she’ll come on the back of a bike with me,” he said.

“She and I are rebuilding an old 1970s Honda and she has quite an interest in the mechanics of it and the way it works. More significantly, they both have inquiring minds and that’s really what I’m about.

“A lot of the programs and TV shows I make are about having a healthy interest. Not lauded necessarily as an expert, I’m by no means a scientist, I am just interested in the subject and how things work.”

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Reds add punch for Brumbies clash

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Queensland have recalled tough-tackling centre Anthony Fainga’a and young gun Chris Feauai-Sautia to their injury-hit backline for Friday’s Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies.

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Fainga’a gets his first start of the year with inside centre Mike Harris battling Achilles tendon soreness ahead of the crucial Rod Macqueen Cup match at Suncorp Stadium.

Reds coach Richard Graham says he won’t know until game-day whether Harris will play, surprisingly bracketing him on the bench with uncapped lock/flanker Dave McDuling.

The return of Wallabies three-quarter Feauai-Sautia on the wing is the biggest boost for Queensland, who have lost three of their last four matches to be in 11th place.

The Reds have missed the 20-year-old’s tackle-shedding ability in his time out with a hamstring strain.

He replaces rookie Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, who returns to the bench, while the under-rated Ben Lucas remains at fullback after Lachie Turner was booked in for ankle surgery.

“Chris has worked hard during the past four weeks and looks in really good shape,” Graham said. “His explosive running will be an asset for us.”

“We are fortunate to have Ant Fainga’a as a straight replacement for Harris. He brings a lot of experience to the midfield.”

Fainga’a’s twin Saia returns to the bench for his long-awaited 100th Super match after a shoulder injury ruled him out of the last two games.

“The chance to share the milestone with his brother will mean a lot to the both of them,” Graham said.

The Reds have stuck with their worker-bee back-row amid calls for the bigger Curtis Browning to start at flanker against the second-placed Brumbies.

Graham conceded the Reds needed to be better at closing out games after failing to put the Lions and Western Force away in costly losses.

“We have lost two of our last three matches by three points, so controlling the back end of the game will be important,” he said.

Reds: Ben Lucas, Rod Davies, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Satutia, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Beau Robinson, Eddie Quirk, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper. Res: Saia Fainga’a, Albert Anae, Jono Owen, Ed O’Donoghue, Curtis Browning, Nick Frisby, Mike Harris/Dave McDuling, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

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Brazil striker Fred threatened

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Brazil striker Fred warns there could be “another tragedy” in Brazilian football if fan groups follow through with their threats against his club this week.

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In a lengthy letter posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, Fred said he is concerned about what could happen to him and his teammates if Fluminense doesn’t advance to the second round of the Brazilian Cup on Thursday.

He said a group of about 20 fans swarmed his car to threaten him as he left practice this weekend, complaining about the team’s recent struggles and demanding a good result.

Fred, who will be a starter for Brazil at the World Cup, said he had to dangerously accelerate to escape and nearly caused an accident.

“After ‘the message’ this weekend, when a group of dropouts disguised as fans threatened the team’s players, Brazilian football could be about to witness another foretold tragedy on Thursday if Fluminense fails to advance past Horizonte in the Brazilian Cup.”

Horizonte, a minnow club without any significant tradition in Brazil, won the first leg 3-1 and is a draw away from reaching the second round.

Fluminense was also eliminated by rival Vasco da Gama in the semifinals of the Rio de Janeiro state championship last week, a defeat that prompted team officials to fire the coach.

There has been an increase in fan violence in the country hosting the World Cup in a few months, with scenes of confrontations in the stands becoming common. In the final round of the Brazilian league last year, four people were seriously injured and a decisive match was interrupted because of violence.

Fred mentioned other recent cases of fan violence in his letter, including the death of 14-year-old Bolivian Kevin Espada, who was hit in the head by a flare launched by fans of Brazilian club Corinthians. He also recalled when Corinthians fans invaded the team’s training center to threaten players, and the death of a Santos fan brutally attacked by Sao Paulo supporters.

“How many more Kevins will have to lose their lives, how many training centres will have to be invaded, how many innocent people will have to be beaten to death until something serious is done against these barbarians?” Fred said. “Or will we have to wait until a player is beaten?”

The striker said it’s not a coincidence there are now only empty seats at Brazilian stadiums, where “the flags that used to wave in stands have become weapons in the hands of these bandits.”

Fred said he felt angry after last weekend’s incident and wondered whether his dedication to the club was worth it, but later blamed just a few fans from “professional” groups who have been at the root of stadium violence in Brazil for years.

“I’ll fight with the weapon that I have,” he said.

“Starting today, I will not celebrate my goals near the fan groups. I’ll dedicate my goals to the real Fluminense fans.”

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Bowditch credits sports psychologist

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Steven Bowditch has revealed the secret behind the breakthrough US PGA Tour victory that earned him his Masters debut.

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It’s Angie Pampling, the wife of good mate and fellow Australian tour pro Rod Pampling.

An accomplished sports psychologist who’s had success helping other golfers, she started working with Bowditch just before his victory at the Texas Open and will also provide a sounding board at Augusta National.

“I just thought, especially this year, that I was playing well and just getting nothing out of my game,” explained Bowditch.

“So I was talking to Pamps and he said why don’t you go have a talk to Angie.”

Their four-hour chat prior to the Texas Open focussed on breathing techniques and allowed the 30-year-old to bring his concentration to a new level.

Given the travails of his final round in Texas, dealing with nerves, some loose shots, horrendously slow play from opponents and even heckling in his swing, it proved a roaring success.

“As a consequence of the chat I was just going into that week with a little bit of a different pre-shot routine, different practice and how I go about things in that 40 seconds around the golf ball,” Bowditch said.

“I can always pick targets and visualise shots but it just made that ‘aim small, miss small’ window just a bit smaller…It’s been great.

“I was just really trying to implement it that week and give it some time and see how it went.

“Obviously it helped me and it still continues to help me even though it’s only been a couple of weeks.

“Call it coincidence? I don’t think you can.”

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Jean Paul Gaultier pays tribute to Britain

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French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier has paid hommage to London and the British “cult of the difference” as he opened a major retrospective at the city’s Barbican on Tuesday.

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“This exhibition is a kind of tribute to my love for this city,” he said at the launch of The Fashion world of Jean-Paul Gaultier, From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

“I feel more at home (in London) than in Paris in certain ways. There is a unique energy here, a unique eccentricity,” he said, adding that the city is still a great source of inspiration to him.

The charismatic designer, clad entirely in black, sparked hilarity by declaring that the British were now much improved in the kitchen and were in reality “little rascals”, contrary to their prudish image.

He recalled that the Brits were the first to take an interest in his work, while the French initially “did not care”.

“I have always loved individuality and people with character, and it’s true that in London there’s more character than anywhere else,” he said.

“They have this cult of being different that I especially love.”

It was in the British capital – where he came “to party” in the 1970s – that Gaultier made two significant discoveries: fashion store Biba, which he described as “like a dream,” and the play The Rocky Horror Show, which heavily influenced his later work.

London is the eighth stop for the exhibition, launched by the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal in 2011. The retrospective, already seen by a million visitors according to the organisers, will be held in Paris at the Grand Palais in 2015.

London’s influence on Gaultier is highlighted in the show by silhouettes of punks sporting huge mohawks. The exhibition also pays tribute to his British “muses,” including Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss, David Bowie and Boy George.

One room is devoted to Eurotrash, the outlandish adult television show hosted by Gaultier and Antoine de Caunes on Britain’s Channel 4 during the 1990s.

One particular highlight featured the pair in disguise as Prince Charles and his wife Diana, earning it the title of “the grossest show in the history of British television” from tabloid newspaper The Sun.

The exhibition runs from April 9 to August 25.

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Experts urge world to change passwords

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Passwords, credit cards and other sensitive data are at risk after security researchers discovered a problem with an encryption technology used to securely transmit email, e-commerce transactions, social networking posts and other web traffic.

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Security researchers say the threat, known as Heartbleed, is serious, partly because it remained undiscovered for more than two years.

Attackers can exploit the vulnerability without leaving any trace, so anything sent during that time has potentially been compromised. It’s not known, though, whether anyone has actually used it to conduct an attack.

Researchers are advising people to change all of their passwords.

The flaw was discovered independently in recent days by researchers at Google and the Finnish security company Codenomicon.

The breach involves SSL/TLS, an encryption technology marked by the small, closed padlock and “https:” on web browsers to signify that traffic is secure. With the Heartbleed flaw, traffic was subject to snooping even if the padlock had been closed.

The problem affects only the variant of SSL/TLS known as OpenSSL, but that happens to be one of the most common on the internet.

Researchers at Codenomicon say that OpenSSL is used by two of the most widely used web server software, Apache and nginx. That means many websites potentially have this security flaw. OpenSSL is also used to secure email, chats and virtual private networks, which are used by employees to connect securely with corporate networks.

Despite the worries, Codenomicon said many large consumer sites don’t have the problem because of their “conservative choice” of equipment and software.

“Ironically smaller and more progressive services or those who have upgraded to (the) latest and best encryption will be affected most,” the company said.

A fix came out Monday, but affected websites and service providers must install the update.

Yahoo’s Tumblr blogging service uses OpenSSL. In a blog post Tuesday, officials at the service said they had no evidence of any breach and had immediately implemented the fix.

“But this still means that the little lock icon (HTTPS) we all trusted to keep our passwords, personal emails, and credit cards safe, was actually making all that private information accessible to anyone who knew about the exploit,” Tumblr’s blog post read.

“This might be a good day to call in sick and take some time to change your passwords everywhere – especially your high-security services like email, file storage, and banking, which may have been compromised by this bug.”

Yahoo said its other services, including email, Flickr and search, also have the vulnerability. The company said some of the systems have already been fixed, while work is being done on the rest of Yahoo’s websites.

The company reiterated its standard recommendation for people to change passwords regularly and to add a backup mobile number to the account. That number can be used to verify a user’s identity if there are problems accessing the account because of hacking.

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The Morocco tour – in a group on your own?

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One of the couples on our Peregrine Adventures Morocco Explorer tour opted out of our first night group dinner at Casablanca’s The Fleur restaurant to fulfil their lifelong dream and dine at Rick’s Bar.

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Every new year, the Chicago couple would crack a bottle of bubbly and settle in to watch their favourite movie, the legendary Casablanca.

Now the legend was to become reality.

Their night was an unfathomable success, let down by only one small glitch.

After downing his first glass of Tanqueray gin and tonic, he was told by the barman that the place had run out of his favourite drop …

“Of all the gin joints in all the world … “

Nonetheless, their adventure raises the question that comes with kicking the bucket list and taking the trip of a lifetime.

Do you experience the amazing sites, fascinating cultures and unforgettable memories of a new country with nothing more than a dog-eared guide book?

Or do you take The Tour?

Our tour leader for the Morocco Explorer tour was the young, affable and multilingual Rachid.

Our group included singles and couples from Canada, the US and Australia.

We were a fairly mixed bunch, but with a fare sum of years between us.

The Casablanca kick-off was brief – the dinner and, the next morning, a one-hour tour of the world’s third-largest mosque, the Hassan 11 Mosque, built over six years, financed through a special tax and opened in 1993.

With a sliding roof above and vast passages below, it was big and breathtaking.

Rachid had taken care of the tour tickets and the bus was waiting for the trip to the nation’s capital Rabat, where we took in Roman ruins, the mausoleum of Mohammed V and the high-walled Kasbah residential area.

The Kasbah was beautiful, with its white-washed and blue-washed houses with thick doors and glassless windows.

That night over dinner – all evening meals are more or less arranged and some are included in the tour price – we each gave Rachid 250 dirham (about $A30) so he could take care of the tips for services at hotels, restaurants and tours.

All breakfasts are provided.

After the night and then a morning exploring the sites and markets at Meknes, we’re back in the bus, and on through the olive groves and onion patches to the ancient Roman settlement at Volubilis.

We wander through the ruins with our guide who bares an uncanny resemblance and demeanour to American gangster actor Joe Pesci.

Then it’s off to the magnificent walled city of Fez for a couple of nights’ stay in a beautiful riad.

With their rooms stacked on top of each other and overlooking a central garden area, our accommodation is uniquely Middle Eastern, exciting and fun.

Everyone loosens up after a long day, with chatter and laughter bouncing between rooms and then dinner.

We’re getting to know each other as new friends do.

Rachid gathers us. He appears more solemn than usual.

He warns us of the mad crowd, the pick-pockets, spruikers, touters and raconteurs waiting for us the next day at the market in Fez’s old medina.

He says they will try and split the group, but he will take up the rear while another guide leads.

If we are lost, we are not to move: we must stay put until help arrives.

I want to bow my head then shout Banzai, but this would be a totally inappropriate clash of cultures.

As it turned out, the worst thing that happened was literally two steps from the end of our 10-kilometre walk through the labyrinthine markets and mosques.

One of our group, a US teacher, fell forward on the step and split her lip.

Rachid and Hakima, our guide through the medina rushed to her aid, helped her up and settled her down.

The next day, we visited the little town of Sefrou, where we strolled the streets and enjoyed an arranged lunch with a local family.

As I took in some fresh air, walking to the corner outside our hosts’ house, a little girl, aged about six, kept me company, excitedly pointing to the school across the street and saying “mon ecole, mon ecole!”

On the way back to Fez, our mini bus suffered a mechanical problem, getting stuck on second gear.

The next day with gearstick fixed, we drive through the Mid Atlas Mountains to the foot of the snowy Upper Atlas Mountains.

We drive into the arid, rocky, hilly landscape where, in the movie Babel, the character played by Cate Blanchett is shot as she and Brad Pitt’s character travel in a tour bus.

I keep a keen eye out for Berber boys with rifles, but we all arrive safely at the Hotel Kasbah Asmaa by late afternoon.

The next day, we trek into the Sahara, where we ride camels and stay the night at a Berber camp.

We’re up for sunrise, onto our camels, back to the local auberge, a type of basic bed and breakfast, into the bus and a long ride to the M’goun Valley in the High Atlas.

The following day, we take a 10-kilometre hike though the valley.

It’s a rough trek, along ridges and narrow dusty paths as well as across creeks, but it’s worth it and our guides Rachid and Ali lend a steadying hand for those who need it.

The next day, we drive on to Ait Benhaddou, then make our way through the snowy Upper Atlas and on to Marrakech where we spend a couple of days – about 1,500 kilometres from day one to day 13, through countless towns, selling countless tourist nicknacks, with breakfasts and dinners in fine and not so fine hotels in the middle of nowhere and in the heart of bustling cities.

Tour travel is not for everyone, but it offers a benefit that, put simply, allow many of us to enjoy a safe and affordable holiday.

There is no need to worry about where to eat and to stay – it is all organised.

And for the record, the United States couple that missed our first-night dinner became the heart, soul and life of our little group.

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: Qantas and its code share partner Emirates run regular flights to Casablanca, with stop-offs at Dubai.

Australians are not required to obtain a visa to enter Morocco, and any airport departure taxes are included in the price of an air ticket.

PLAYING THERE: The Peregrine Adventures Morocco Explorer tour runs for 13 days. It costs $1590 per person twin share. Group sizes range from six to 16, not including a local tour leader/guide and a driver.

* The writer travelled as a guest of Peregrine Adventures.

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Anzac rivals would join forces, Quade

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It’s a long-shot in a World Cup year but Quade Cooper says rugby’s biggest stars would be drawn to playing an Anzacs clash to commemorate the Gallipoli conflict.

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Moves have started on both sides of the Tasman to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the shared Gallipoli campaign by joining forces against a Rest of the World XV next year.

While there’s no logical window in a high-stakes calendar for the potential blockbuster, Wallabies playmaker Cooper says players would have little hesitation putting their hands up for the worthy concept.

“The idea of that would be a great way to celebrate the Anzacs and what that has done for us as a nation and as people being able to live the lives we do today,” the Kiwi-born Queensland five-eighth said.

“Rugby is something that we love to do … if that concept was put forward I’m sure guys would find some time to play in a game like that.

“Just to give back to people who gave their lives for all of us.”

There is plenty of work to be done if a noble pipedream can become a reality, with Queensland Sports Minister Steve Dickson admitting a push from New Zealand’s Consul-General still meant it was a 66-1 shot.

The biggest problem is the fact rugby’s showpiece tournament will be held in September and October in England next year and four years of planning goes into each World Cup.

Not only would the Australian and New Zealand Rugby Unions be reluctant to risk their top players before the tournament, getting the best rivals from around the world would be near impossible.

Cooper felt the chances of Wallabies combining with All Blacks, like they did in 1989 against the British Lions, would be higher if the match was held after the World Cup.

“World Cups have got to come first,” he said. “Those are things that only come up once every four years.

“The guys lucky enough to get the opportunity won’t want anything to come between that but the concept is a great one.”

Although Cooper would have a tough task to beat Dan Carter and Aaron Cruden to the Anzac No.10 jersey, he certainly liked the though of wearing the same colours as arch-rival Richie McCaw.

“As a kid growing up he was the biggest icon in world record and to step on the field with him rather than against him would be a great opportunity,” he said.

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Amateur Goss picks Masters brains

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Oliver Goss knew he’d be crazy not to sound out two countrymen who are among the top four golfers on the planet as he prepares for his Masters debut.

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The 19-year-old amateur from Perth has absorbed as much as he can from defending champion Adam Scott and world No.4 Jason Day about how to tackle the Augusta National course.

Interestingly for the US Amateur Championship runner-up, he encountered two distinctly different styles of sharing wisdom.

In his Saturday practice round with 26-year-old Day, who has finished second and third at the Masters, Goss was given a generous barrage of knowledge.

When it came to his Tuesday round with Scott, the world No.2 was about quality over quantity.

“Playing with Jason was awesome. He was hitting it really well and I was so impressed with him,” Goss said.

“I wanted to pick his brains a little bit but he did it for me.

“He gave me all the information he had about the course and I took it right in because it seems like he knows what he’s doing around here.

“With Adam I was mainly observing and we had a little chit chat which was great.”

Scott wasn’t brushing the youngster, who already has the West Australian Open trophy to his name.

Rather he was wary of bogging down Goss and countryman Steven Bowditch, who was seeing the course for the first time in their practice group.

“You’ve got to be a little careful not to cross the line, only from their point,” Scott explained.

“When I first played here, I had no clue about the golf course and had a good week and finished ninth, and I only got a little bit of information.

“I think going in a little blind is not a bad thing here. Too much could be overwhelming for them.

“If they go out and play well they are just going to see all their good shots be rewarded and that’s a nice feeling to have and not focus on the trouble over here or the trouble over there and go out with a very defensive, negative approach.”

Goss also has a valuable ally in local caddie Brian Tam, who he hired after a successful early reconnaissance outing with him.

Tam caddied for then 14-year-old Chinese star Guan TianLang in last year’s Masters, helping him to low amateur honours.

“He (Tam) was here on my visit in March and I just got some really great reads from him,” Goss said.

“I was attempting to read the greens myself and then I would ask him and it just seemed he was always adding a foot more of break to almost every putt.

“I holed some good putts so it seemed a smart move to get him.”

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No dignity in free speech without meaningful access

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Freedom of speech is one of the most important parts of a functioning democracy.

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Very few people in the community will argue with that. Unfortunately ours is a democracy with many competing versions of “free speech” and sadly many of those interpretations value the free speech of one person more than another.

Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes these rights in the following terms:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

It’s a nice ideal but one that we in Australia fall far short of because freedom of speech is meaningless in a society where there isn’t equal access to the skills, platforms and opportunities to exercise it. It’s nice to think that in the digital age we’ve torn down the barriers for people to meaningfully express themselves through online platforms and yes – the internet has given us a whole new world of possibilities, but to suggest the internet is an equalising platform where everyone’s voice has the same value and same access to opportunity is an insult to those who face significant barriers expressing themselves. It is also an insult to the intelligence of those who benefit from privilege structures.

As a media educator I’ve seen first hand what this looks like. You can walk into a classroom of year nine students from high socio-economic backgrounds ask them to to produce their smartphones and within minutes have them write, record, create and publish whatever they like to the world. Do the same with a classroom of year nine students from low socio-economic backgrounds and you’d be lucky if there were more than one or two smartphones in the room, let alone access to enough internet data or knowledge of the tools needed to write, record, create and publish. Too often those of us in the privileged position of having the education, the tools and the access to express ourselves in a meaningful way assume that’s just the case for everyone else.

Right now in Australia the freedom of speech debate is being couched in the context of the Federal Government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. It’s a particularly interesting time for former Institute of Public Affairs policy director and now Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson. Writing for The Australian on Saturday, Wilson made the statement that “there is an insidious argument now creeping into the debate: that free speech protects “old rich white men”” and that “identity group-based arguments for restricting free speech are just a backdoor, sociological argument for censorship”.

Issues of the Racial Discrimination Act aside (for which he does have some valid points), Wilson’s arguments show a blatant disregard and ignorance for the current barriers that restrict people’s ability to freely express themselves.

What Wilson promotes is a form of “freedom” that is just a backdoor, economic form of censorship. Firstly. he suggests that “everyone can consistently exercise their free speech”. What is consistent about free speech in a country where those with enough money can simply use the scare tactic of threatening defamation to silence their critics, or where many the major platforms of expression flatly reject access to those they don’t like or who can’t afford it? To deny or deflect from the fact that “old rich white men” hold more meaningful access to expression than other groups in our community is absurd.

Wilson also argues that “not all voices should be given equal platforms. Arguing [that] one voice you agree with should be given a bigger megaphone also means everyone that you disagree with it should be given it as well”. This argument again blatantly ignores the privilege of those who own and control our major platforms of expression. By giving and creating more access to platforms of expression you’re not giving under-represented groups a “bigger megaphone”. You’re giving them a meaningful opportunity to participate in the democratic, social and cultural discussions that have very real impacts on their lives.

When your socio-economic structures automatically privilege and amplify the voices of people from particular mainstream groups and place significant barriers in the way of minorities then our society is simply using economic structures to censor minorities. He says “speaking freely goes to the heart of individual dignity”, but there’s very little dignity in being told by those in privileged positions that you have “freedom” when those very same people actively support the structures that limit you from exercising it.

We must consider the social, cultural and economic circumstances that impact people’s ability to access freedom of speech. For our democracy it’s more important than ever that we ensure there are measures in place to give as many Australians as possible the skills, the platforms and the opportunity to express themselves. It’s not about special treatment – it’s about ensuring that the economic censorship of minorities isn’t the version of “free speech” that we blindly accept.

Jonathan Brown (@JB_AU) is a Melbourne based media educator.

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