Brambles’ pallets business boosts Q1 sales

A strong performance in Brambles’ European pallets business and continued expansion of its IFCO business has helped boost the company’s first-quarter sales six per cent.


Brambles, which operates in more than 60 countries primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, says sales revenue grew six per cent to $US1.37 million, on a constant currency basis, compared to the prior corresponding period.

The news triggered a lift in the company’s share price which rose 10.5 cents, or 1.13 per cent, to $9.37 at 1408 AEDT on Wednesday.

Driving the boost was an eight per cent rise in the European pallets division on the back of new business and solid existing customer demand in Western Europe.

But the company’s business in the Americas was still the main sales contributor, delivering $546.2 million in revenue, up five per cent on the period corresponding period.

Brambles said pallet sales revenue in Africa, India and the Middle East and the European automotive business also made a solid contribution to growth in the quarter.

In its IFCO business, benefits from North America and continued expansion with existing retailers in Europe helped drive sales up nine per cent in the quarter.

Chief executive Graham Chipchase said the company’s pallet and RPC businesses were enjoying strong expansion in Europe and making good progress in emerging markets such as Latin America, despite competitive environment conditions.

“We continue to operate in a challenging operating and competitive environment, with cost pressures across our portfolio, particularly in our US pallets business,” Mr Chipchase said on Wednesday.

He said the company is using its expertise in the industry to reduce cost increases in order to become more competitive.

The results come as the logistics company faces the prospect of a shareholder class action following alleged failures to disclose important company information.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers on Wednesday said it had opened an online registration to shareholders who have allegedly suffered significant losses on the back of Brambles’ revised guidance earlier this year when it stated it would not meet the sales and profit growth forecast it had earlier affirmed.

Brambles said in a statement to the ASX, it has not received any formal communication, nor had it been served any proceeding, but will said it will “vigorously defend” any action if filed.

“Brambles strongly believes that it has at all times complied with its continuous disclosure and other regulatory obligations,” the company said.

David Warner is pathetic: Trescothick

Former England opener Marcus Trescothick has branded David Warner “pathetic”, opining that the vice-captain risks distracting Australia if he is outspoken this summer.


Warner has recently outlined his plans to be aggressive and antagonistic during the Ashes, notably calling on teammates to find their inner “hatred” of the opposition.

“As soon as you step on that line it’s war,” Warner said on the weekend.

The comments have been widely derided in England, with 2005 Ashes winner Trescothick far from impressed.

“It’s pathetic,” he told the BBC.

“To come out with those sort of comments is not needed.

“There’s always the hype that comes around before the Ashes, so I don’t think it’s something the (English) players will be drawn into.

“I think it will just be a good distraction, hopefully, for Australia and they can get caught up in the war of words.”

Former Australia skipper Steve Waugh was less outraged by Warner, but admitted he never felt a hatred of England at any point in his 168-Test career.

“There’s nothing wrong with that bit of byplay before the series starts. It gets everybody interested,” Waugh told AAP.

“I’m sure Dave can handle making those comments himself. As long as he can back them up, which I’m sure he will.

“Everyone knows you want to beat England but it can’t be a driving force to how you play. You have to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

Warner later called for umpires to adopt a less strict approach to scraps and sledging during the five-Test series, saying it’s what fans want to see.

“I would like to see it like a bit of State of Origin. Let things just flow on and you deal with everything afterwards,” the opener said.

“Let a couple of penalties go and get on with it.”

Consumer a constraint on growth: Westpac

The chief economist at one of the big four banks warns troubled consumers will hamper economic growth heading into 2018.


Constraints on growth are likely to centre on consumers struggling under the weight of weak wages growth, high energy prices and excessive debt, says Westpac’s Bill Evans.

“Conditions in housing markets, particularly in the eastern states, are likely to soften while the residential construction boom will turn down.”

Mr Evans was responding to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future. It pointed to only modest growth.

“While the index only gives us a glimpse of the likely momentum in the first few months of 2018 it is consistent with our view of the likely growth environment next year,” he said.

Mr Evans is forecasting growth of 2.5 per cent against Australia’s long-term growth rate that’s closer to three per cent.

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor agrees there is a connection between downward pressure on wages and the effect on aggregate demand.

Wage growth is at its lowest rate in at least 20 years.

“If you don’t allow wages to grow, at least to CPI, preferably beyond, you will have consumer confidence down, people not purchasing,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.

“People, therefore, will have an effect on business confidence.”

The Reserve Bank expects wages growth will gradually lift as employment continues to grow.

The minutes of the central bank’s October 3 board meeting showed it is confident of above-average employment growth over the remainder of 2017 based on job advertisements, vacancies and hiring intentions data.

September jobs figures are due on Thursday.

Economists’ forecasts centre on a 15,000 employment increase when the September labour force report is released on Thursday following a large 54,200 jump in August.

The jobless rate is expected to remain at 5.6 per cent for the fourth month in a row.

Child dies from meningococcal in Darwin

A child has died in Darwin after being struck down with meningococcal disease.


“It is unlikely that this is connected to the current outbreak of meningococcal W in Central Australia,” the NT Health Department said in a statement.

“We are awaiting further results to confirm which strain was responsible.”

Last week the 25th case of the W strain of the deadly disease was confirmed in the central Australian indigenous communities of Barkly and Katherine.

All of those affected had been Aboriginal people while 19 of the recorded were kids younger than 10.

NT health authorities have mounted a large-scale immunisation campaign in the affected regions in an attempt to prevent it from spreading to the Top End.

A free vaccine will be offered to all people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in remote communities and all Aboriginal people aged between 12 months and 19 years living in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine.

The NT government is also co-ordinating with other jurisdictions after a spate of cases were reported on South Australia’s traditional APY lands.


* A rare, life-threatening illness caused by bacterial infection of the blood and/or the membranes that line the spinal cord and brain and occasionally infect other sites, such as large joints.


* Fever, neck stiffness, headache, difficulty looking at bright lights, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore muscles or joints, drowsiness or a rash. Babies may refuse food and drink and have a high pitched cry.


* With antibiotics, but the infection can progress very quickly, so seeking medical attention urgently is vital to survival.

Ireland braces as Ophelia approaches

Ireland has closed schools and hospitals and warned people to stay indoors as tropical storm Ophelia threatens to lash the country with the worst weather in 50 years.


The armed forces have been dispatched to bolster flood defences in some areas as the weather service warned of flash flooding and damage to buildings from winds gusts over 130 kilometres per hour.

Hurricane force winds are expected in every part of the country, the government warned. Tropical-storm force winds may also be seen in Wales and the north and west of England, the US government’s National Hurricane Centre said.

“Our concern is to avoid a situation where we have fatalities as a result of the extremely destructive and violent gusts that we are expecting,” the chairman of Ireland’s National Emergency Coordination Group Sean Hogan told state broadcaster RTE.

“All non-essential activity should be deferred. Do not be out tomorrow in this storm,” Hogan said.

Britain’s meteorological service says the storm poses a danger to life and is likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

British media are comparing the storm to the Great Storm of 1987, which subjected parts of the United Kingdom to hurricane strength winds 30 years ago to the day.

The centre of Tropical Storm Ophelia, the sixth major hurricane of the Atlantic season before it was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight, was around 300 kilometres south of Ireland at 0500 GMT (4 pm AEDT) on Monday, the Irish weather service said.

It was expected to make landfall at around 0900 GMT (8 pm AEDT), it said.

The government says the storm is likely to be the worst since Hurricane Debbie, which killed 12 in Ireland in 1961.

Kimberley painting 20th anniversary looms

Two decades after a giant Aboriginal painting was used in a successful native title claim in Western Australia’s remote north, the canvas has been returned for the first time to the traditional lands where it was created.


While fighting the Kimberley region’s largest native title claim in 1997, more than 40 traditional owners and desert artists travelled to Pirnini to map their homelands on a collective canvas measuring eight by 10 metres.

Up to 200 people are expected to gather in the Great Sandy Desert on Thursday to “awaken” the artwork, which became evidence for the vast Ngurrara native title claim that was won a decade later.

At 20, Terry Murray was the youngest of the artists who worked on Ngurrara Canvas II.

All seven surviving artists are expected to help celebrate its return to the banks of Lake Pirnini, where Mr Murray says ancestors will also be honoured.

“We want to recognise those who are deceased, and those who are still standing,” he said.

“Now is the time to come together after 20 years.”

The immense artwork, which charts sacred water holes and soaks across the land claim, serves as a politically-charged expression of indigenous connection to country.

The Ngurrara claim covers almost 78,000 square kilometres of the Kimberley’s southern desert region – an area bigger than Tasmania.

It’s comprised of people from the Walmajarri, Wangkajunga, Mangala and Juwaliny language groups.

Ngurrara Canvas II, which took two weeks to produce, was carefully removed from storage at Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing for the event.

Mr Murray said talks would be held around the artwork’s future and how best to bring its stories into the public domain.

“We would like to take the next generation and the standing elders on a journey to explore how we can celebrate the canvas’ power going forward,” he said.

Ten drown as Rohingya boat sinks off Bangladesh, 12,000 more arrive

The boat was carrying an estimated 50 people when it went down in the estuary of the Naf river that divides the two countries, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) area commander Lieutenant Colonel S.


M. Ariful Islam told AFP.

Nearly 200 Rohingya have drowned over the last six weeks making the perilous crossing into Bangladesh, many in small wooden fishing boats that are dangerously overloaded.

They are fleeing violence in Myanmar’s sectarian-plagued Rakhine state where the United Nations has accused troops of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Islam said the bodies of the eight confirmed victims had washed up on the river banks, while 21 survivors had swum to safety.

Coast and border guards were conducting a search and rescue operation in the Naf river, he said.

More than half a million Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh over the last seven weeks to escape a military crackdown that the the UN has said amounts to ethnic cleansing.

The stateless Muslim minority has faced decades of persecution in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

The latest influx began in late August after attacks by Rohingya militants on police posts in Myanmar. 

Another border guard told AFP the boat sank was just 200 yards (metres) from the Bangladesh coast when it sank in rough waters.

Fazlul Haq, a local official, said the boat was owned by a Bangladeshi villager who had made large amounts of money ferrying Rohingya into the country.

He said the small fishing trawlers were highly vulnerable to accidents as they approached the shore, where they are often battered by large waves.

Refugees are often charged exorbitant fees for the trip.

The latest accident came a week after another boat packed with Rohingya refugees capsized in the area, killing at least 34 people. 


School changes for WA kids on sex charges

Children charged with sex offences will no longer be allowed to attend West Australian schools if they are deemed a risk to other students.


Education Minister Sue Ellery promised a review in March after reports of students sexually assaulting other children and then remaining at school, with staff and parents unaware of what had happened.

Ms Ellery was advised at the time that there were no existing protocols to manage the risk the alleged perpetrator posed, or a notification system for the school when a child was charged or investigated.

She said a protocol was now in place to develop a case management plan for them.

“Immediately police will notify schools when a student is charged and in some cases, depending on their circumstances, if a child is under investigation,” she told 6PR radio on Monday.

“Department of Education, Corrective Services, Child Protection and police will do a determination to identify what is the level of risk, does the student need to be removed either temporarily or permanently from the school, what clinical interventions need to be put in place and what educational arrangements need to be put in place if the child cannot attend the school.”

Ms Ellery said parents must also be involved in case management planning as a condition of bail, and schools would be notified if bail conditions changed.

She said if an accused child offender was considered a risk to other students they could get home schooling or distance education.

“Sometimes they don’t come from functional families, so getting parental supervision is not always easy,” she said.

“(But) if it is not safe for other children for that child to return to school then the child will not be returning to school.”

The mother of a nine-year-old boy expressed outrage in March when her son’s alleged abusers, aged 12 and 17, were allowed to continue going to school, although it was not the same school her son attended.

A 10-year-old boy was also this year accused of raping an eight-year-old child while armed with a weapon, but the charges were dropped following a psychiatric report.

A teenager convicted of raping and threatening to kill his nine-year-old neighbour was also spared detention last week, the West Australian newspaper reported.

Advocates lobby on Vic euthanasia bill

An assisted-dying scheme will protect the rights of terminally ill Victorians by creating important regulation, euthanasia advocate Andrew Denton says, but some doctors argue families will use the laws to kill off sick relatives.


Victorian MPs will debate from Tuesday a government bill to legalise assisted dying for terminally ill adults ahead of a conscience vote.

Those for and against the proposal descended on parliament on Monday to publicly plead their cases.

Television personality and Go Gentle founder Andrew Denton says people currently die in painful circumstances that are not regulated, including by starvation and dehydration, drug-induced comas and suicide.

“What is not legal is to end your suffering quickly and painlessly at a time of your choosing with the support of your family and a medical team,” he told a Go Gentle event on Monday.

“In this unregulated system no questions are raised about threats to vulnerable people, no one is examining or vouching for doctors’ actions and yet we are told this is safer than a system which outlines strict regulations and is held accountable by law.

“It’s an argument that defies logic.”

Mr Denton was joined by Health Minister Jill Hennessy and the opposition’s Edward O’Donohue, who chaired a committee investigating the scheme.

Earlier a group of geriatricians, palliative care specialists, an oncologist and a GP gathered to publicly urge MPs to vote against the scheme.

They warned it was dangerous, penalties could not be enforced, and people could end up killing ill relatives.

“It’s not possible (to make a safe scheme) because of coercion, that is a major reason,” GP John Daffy told reporters.

“‘We’re going on holidays, mum’s there, what do you think – you don’t need to go through this dad’,” he added, by way of example.

Geriatrician Associate Professor Mark Yates said laws failed to protect elderly people from financial and emotional abuse, so they would not be protected under an assisted-dying scheme either.

The group again pushed for increased palliative care funding.

Willett did not want to play golf after 2016 U.S. Masters title

Adding to his season of woe, a persistent back injury affected his performance or forced him out of tournaments and he lost his PGA Tour card.


“At the end of 2016 I was in contention in the Race to Dubai and I just didn’t want to play golf. It’s utterly ridiculous,” he wrote in a blog on the European Tour website (南京桑拿,europeantour南京夜生活,).

“I had entered the HSBC Champions in China, Turkey, Nedbank and Dubai – four of the biggest tournaments of the year – and I didn’t want to play. I just didn’t feel good enough to compete.

Willett’s back trouble had got to a point where it was “taking over his game”, he said.

“When I swing good, I feel good mentally and physically… when I was swinging badly, I was putting strain on my back and it became an issue.

“It was annoying as working out didn’t hurt it, drills didn’t hurt it but firing into the ball at full speed and just being a little off could cause a lot of pain.

“I’d be taking painkillers in the morning … getting an hour of physio before each round, playing the round with a swing that hurt, then needing an hour of physio after the round. I was just knackered.”

Willett sought suggestions from friends to improve his form and took solace from the fact that his possession of the famous green jacket would forever give him a place among the biggest names in the game.

“The Champions Dinner was an eye opener,” he said.

“Sitting around a table full of these legends of the game, all telling stories of Arnold Palmer and Augusta, it inspired me and gave me the boost I needed to look for help.

“I look back on that dinner and tell myself there was a reason I had a name card and a place at that table. I had earned an invitation and I often find myself remembering that meal.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

The best and worst cities for women to live

The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey asked experts in women’s issues in 19 megacities how well women are protected from sexual violence, from harmful cultural practices, and if they have access to good healthcare, finance and education.


Cairo, the capital of the Arab world’s most populous country, fared worst globally, followed by Karachi in Pakistan, Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of the Congo, then the Indian capital New Delhi.

London was ranked as the most woman-friendly, then Tokyo and Paris.

Women’s rights campaigners in Cairo said traditions dating back centuries made it a tough city, with discrimination rife.

“We’re still operating under a conservative country and it’s hard to take any radical progressive steps in the area of women and women’s laws,” said Omaima Abou-Bakr, co-founder of the Cairo-based campaign group Women and Memory Forum.

“Everything about the city is difficult for women. We see women struggling in all aspects. Even a simple walk on the street, and they are subjected to harassment, whether verbal or even physical,” said high-profile Egyptian journalist and women’s rights campaigner Shahira Amin.

Sexual Harassment

Delhi and Sao Paulo emerged as the worst cities when respondents were asked if women could live there without the risk of sexual violence, including rape, attacks or harassment.

The fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in 2012 led to a wave of public protests and jolted many in the world’s second most populous country out of apathy over the treatment of women, forcing the government to toughen penalties for sex crimes.

Since then a spike in media reports, government campaigns and civil society programmes, have increased public awareness of women’s rights and emboldened victims to register abuses.

Authorities recorded four rapes every hour in India in 2015.

“Even after the Delhi gang rape, we are seeing rising cases of sexual violence. All the measures taken so far are welcome, but they are not enough,” said lawyer Rishi Kant from Shakti Vahini, a charity that supports rape victims.

“These rapists act because they know they won’t get caught. So strengthening the police and courts to effectively investigate, prosecute, convict and punish is key.”

In Sao Paulo, women are increasingly using social media to denounce sexual violence, including writer Clara Averbuck, who launched an online campaign in August after she was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver.

A poll conducted by Datafolha for the Brazilian Forum of Public Security this year found one in three Brazilian women aged 16 or over had suffered physical, verbal or psychological violence in the previous year but 52 percent did not report it.

“I’ve never been so violated as in Brazil,” Averbuck told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I‘m not speaking only about physical rape. In London, in New York, I feel very comfortable because they treat me like a human being. Here they treat you less than a human being.”

London Best, Tokyo Safest

Lima in Peru came out worst when participants were asked if women had good access to healthcare, including control over reproductive health. Abortion is illegal in Peru except to save the life of the mother and the teenage pregnancy rate is high.

Conflict-ridden Kinshasa, where growing violence has sparked fears of a repeat of civil wars two decades ago in which millions died, was the worst city in terms of female access to education, ownership of land and obtaining financial services.

At the other end of the scale, London was named the best city, buoyed by Britain’s free and universal National Health Service, as well as coming top for economic opportunities.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said women were now leading at every level of society in London – in public service, the arts, politics, science and business – but there was more to do.

“The progress we’re making as a city is not happening fast enough,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We must redouble our efforts to remove any barriers to women’s success and to unlock their full potential.”

Tokyo was ranked as the safest city in terms of sexual violence and harassment, though some women’s rights campaigners said sexual violence remained a hidden problem.

Moscow outperformed New York on a range of measures, and was named the most female-friendly city judged solely on cultural practice, perhaps a nod to its avowedly egalitarian Soviet past.

Urban Jungles

The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s seventh annual perception poll was conducted as cities grow rapidly and the future looks increasingly urban, with 66 percent of people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, up from 54 percent currently.

The United Nations says the number of megacities has tripled since 1990 to 31, including six in China and five in India, and forecast this will rise to 41 by 2030. The poll was only conducted in the largest city in each country.

Campaigners said understanding and preparing for key trends in urbanisation in coming years is crucial to meet the U.N.’s latest set of global goals to end poverty and inequality by 2030. The poll was designed around U.N. targets.

Billy Cobbett, director of the Cities Alliance, a global partnership for urban poverty reduction that promotes the role of cities in sustainable development, said the success of Agenda 2030 would be substantially dependent on the role played by women in cities of all sizes.

“The opportunity for women to play a full and leading role cannot be taken for granted, but requires reliable data, sound policy and decisive actions by city leaders,” Cobbett told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The poll of 380 people was conducted online and by phone between June 1 and July 28 with 20 experts questioned in each of the 19 cities with a response rate of 93 percent. The results were based on a minimum of 15 experts in each city.

Respondents included aid professionals, academics, healthcare staff, non-government organisation workers, policy-makers, development specialists and social commentators.

Assange, Putin, Fox, saw Clinton Trumped

Hillary Clinton has branded WikiLeaks’ Australian founder Julian Assange a “nihilistic opportunist” who worked with Russia to damage her chance of becoming US president.


The defeated Democrat candidate also took aim at Australian-American Rupert Murdoch’s conservative news empire Fox and warned Republican billionaire Donald Trump is the most dangerous president in history.

Assange and WikiLeaks are under investigation by the US Justice Department over the publication of top secret documents and thousands of emails from Democratic National Committee officials that undermined Mrs Clinton’s presidential campaign last year.

Mrs Clinton said the material was stolen as part of a concerted operation between Russia, WikiLeaks and people in the US, who she said wanted to “weaponise that information” by denigrating her campaign against Mr Trump.

“I think Assange has become a nihilistic opportunist who does the bidding of a dictator,” Mrs Clinton told ABC TV’s Four Corners.

“He’s a tool of Russian intelligence.

“If he’s such a martyr of free speech, why doesn’t WikiLeaks ever publish anything coming out of Russia?”

US intelligence officials have blamed Russia for stealing the Democrats’ emails and documents as part of a deliberate effort to wreck Mrs Clinton’s chances of becoming president.

They claim that WikiLeaks acted with Russian intelligence in publishing the documents.

Mr Assange has denied the Russian government as the source.

Mrs Clinton said the decision to leak the documents was linked to Mr Putin’s desire to destabilise democracy and undermine the US, as well as the relationship America has with it allies including Australia.

She also believed that Mr Assange’s personal dislike of her was a factor.

“I had a lot of history with him because I was secretary of state when WikiLeaks published a lot of very sensitive information from our State Department and our Defence Department,” Mrs Clinton said.

Mr Assange has spent five years seeking refuge inside the Ecuador embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden to answer sexual assault charges.

While the charges were recently dropped, Mr Assange has remained in the embassy amid fears he could be extradited to the US.

Mrs Clinton also criticised Fox News, often decried for supporting the Republican party, for its “bad influence on our politics”.

“They’re an advocacy outfit; they’re not journalism anymore,” she said.

President Trump’s Twitter diplomacy makes him a danger to the entire world, including Australia, Mrs Clinton said.

“He is impulsive, he lacks self-control, he is totally consumed by how he is viewed and what people think of him,” she said.

“I think the whole world should be concerned and I think western democracies need to learn lessons.”

Mrs Clinton believes the president is “being played” as he tough-talks North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

With no strategy for dealing with the rogue state’s nuclear program, Mrs Clinton says she just hopes Mr Trump’s support staff will help prevent a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Her new book, she said, was designed to sound alarm bells in Australia and Europe before they follow the US leadership trajectory.

Austria moves to right after elections

Austrians have shifted to the right in parliamentary elections, giving the far-right Freedom Party a mandate to enter coalition talks with young conservative victor Sebastian Kurz, who fell short of a parliamentary majority.


People’s Party (OVP) chief Kurz, who is just 31, is on track to become one of the world’s youngest leaders after securing victory on around 32 per cent by taking a hard line on immigration that blurred lines with the Freedom Party (FPO).

Austria was a gateway into Germany for more than 1 million people during the migration crisis that began in 2015 and took in roughly 1 per cent of its population in asylum seekers in 2015.

Many voters said their country was overrun and the crisis helped buoy right wing parties.

The results put current Chancellor Christian Kern’s Social Democrats (SPO) in second place but they could be dislodged by a record number of postal ballots.

Third place would weaken them in coalition talks.

Kurz’s party will probably need a coalition partner. An alliance with the FPO is the most likely option, although Kurz has kept his options open.

“Neither a coalition with the FPO nor one with the SPO has been agreed,” Kurz told broadcaster ORF when pressed on his plans. “We have to wait for the result”

Any coalition between two of the top three parties is possible since the SPO has lifted a self-imposed ban on coalitions with the FPO. But if the Social Democrats come third it is unlikely to form an alliance with the FPO that would make its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, chancellor.

The FPO, which was founded by former Nazis but said it has left its past behind, has had to throw out party officials on a regular basis in Nazi-related scandals. Its sister parties are France’s Front National and Germany’s AfD.