Newcastle City Council must be reduced

I’ve heard mutterings from the usual suspects in recent times about Newcastle City Council being ‘‘anti-community’’.
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I don’t accept it. People build communities, not governments. The role of the government is to provide the basics and to not get in the way.

After eight years as a councillor, I believe Newcastle City Council has been in the way too often, and to the detriment of the ratepayers of Newcastle.

The idiom ‘‘Roads, Rates, Rubbish’’ is over-simplistic, but it does capture the essence of what local government should be about.

It is pointless providing wonderful, feel-good services if it diminishes the capacity to provide the fundamentals.

If elected lord mayor on September 8 I will immediately focus on a clear path to reduce the size of the council.

This will, necessarily, mean fewer services offered by council and it will predictably be unpopular with some. The fact is that we have a projected operating budget deficit of $8.5million. I wonder how many of my colleagues seeking re-election actually get that. You cannot eliminate a deficit of this size by tinkering at the edges.

Reduction in the size of the workforce can be a relatively simple process.

The Newcastle City Council workforce is of an age that will see more than one-third of the staff reach retirement age in the next five years. There is no need for retrenchments, and nobody need feel that their employment is not secure.

My vision here is to see a smaller, more efficient administration team and an expanded outdoors staff working to beautify our city, particularly with access to our natural features and facilities to enhance their use.

The budget deficit is a direct result of poor decision making and an unwillingness to make the necessary but unpopular decisions. We have done the reviews, we know what needs to be done, but when it comes time to make the call too few on the council have stood strong.

I don’t want to diminish the value of the services that need to cease, but this is budgeting 101. You do what you have to do first, then allocate any excess to the ‘‘nice to have’’ stuff. When assessing what is appropriate, we have to ask whether it can and should be offered by the private sector. Newcastle City Council should not be competing with local business, it should simply be providing the basics.

To improve our efficiency we must change the way we do business. I have been banging on about amalgamation ad nauseam, in the fervent hope that something, anything, will result from it. To date we have moved no closer to even genuine shared services with neighbouring councils. Last year Newcastle City Council launched the three-bin waste system, aimed primarily at reducing the volume of green waste directed to landfill, which in turn saves ratepayers millions in state government levies. Lake Macquarie City Council launched a similar system this year. It is so obviously something we could and should have collaborated on, but instead we each did it separately and at significantly higher cost as a result of the duplication.

Much has been said about the current state of Hunter Street. Fixing that is easy and I’m confident that no matter who is elected mayor this will be accomplished. The plan is done, the money is set aside, and we are just waiting for the state government to finalise the planning instrument that underpins it. Newcastle City Council actually owns very few properties on Hunter Street, so the focus will be on improving the public domain, parking, and landscaping/beautification works. There are more than 20 approved development applications for privately owned buildings on Hunter Street, and the delay in the development of those sites is more a result of the lack of availability of development finance in this economic climate than any council approval issues. One of my fellow mayoral aspirants owns two such buildings sitting idle despite having approved DAs.

I’ve been told that I do not have the statesman-like qualities expected in a mayor. I accept that, but I ask what the ‘‘statesmen’’ have delivered for Newcastle? We need more. I am never going to be a great orator, but I love this city, I work hard, and I get things done. That’s why I’ve been successful in my businesses. Newcastle needs to decide if it wants someone who’ll speak well at dinners or someone with a proven track record in running businesses who just gets things done. That’s what I offer the electorate, and am asking for you to support my team on September 8.

Aaron Buman is a Newcastle lord mayoral candidate and independent councillor.

Newcastle lord mayoral candidate Aaron Buman.

Nothing private in digital era

I had a Facebook page once. Young women who sat near me at work signed me up for a bit of fun – their fun, I think – and so as easily as that I was a man of the digital age.
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And to my amazement emails telling me that someone or other wanted to be friends with me on Facebook began arriving immediately. Some of these people were indeed friends, some were people I had not seen or heard from for years, some were people I had never known or couldn’t remember, and I’m never confident which.

Primarily my page came to be a way of communicating with my bike-riding friends, and it was rich with photographs of our rides and expeditions and with contributed material not fit for wide publication. While I serve as the moral compass for my bike-riding friends, they are younger and generally resistant to wise counsel and moderation.

Our comments were unguarded and often ill-considered, but, hey, we were and are friends. After all, my friends were there because I’d accepted their request to be friends. And their friends were surely of the same ilk and thus not a problem.

One day a year or two ago it became clear from a comment by a contributor to my blog that he had gained access to my Facebook page even though I had not accepted a friend request from him, and it emerged that he had navigated through the pages of linked friends to arrive there.

While I had no marked objection to his access, it was a shock that I was so exposed, and with help from one of the young women who’d signed me up I signed out, deleting my entry. Leaving was a good deal more difficult than joining.

I have rejoined specifically to gain access to a Facebook page I drew on for a column but mine is close to a blank page.

While I am not active on Facebook, I have many friends and workmates who are and it does seem that they see their Facebook presence as private and privileged.

Both are fallacies and both create a problem. It seems that a Facebook page is private with only the strictest privacy settings, which seems to defeat the social purpose of the site and which even at the strictest level may not be effective.

The main problem, though, is the sense that Facebook is privileged, that what goes on Facebook stays on Facebook. Both adults and young teenagers seem to believe that on Facebook they are immune, that they cannot be held responsible for their statements, that what happens on Facebook cannot be used against them in the real world.

I see or read of this immunity shattering among employees, adults who post derogative comments about fellow employees and bosses on their Facebook page. I’m not sure why an employee is not entitled to speak derogatively about a fellow worker or a boss, and we all have at some stage, but often these employees are disciplined and in some cases dismissed. It may be that the comments are deemed to be bullying or in breach of an agreement to not act in a way that could bring the employer into disrepute.

Perhaps the employers see it as a division between work time and private time.

The problem of accountability applies also to other digital media.

We seem to see a difference in accountability in sending comments on paper and digitally, and I suspect this is because we persist in seeing the comments on paper as a matter of record, as having a permanency comments sent into cyberspace do not. We know better, or we do by now, but the fallacy persists. Not only are the digitally issued comments likely to live longer, they can be multiplied seemingly infinitely, as many people have found to their great cost.

This may explain the informality and imprecision of emails, the imprudence of texts, the rash spontaneity of twitter, the aggression of blog comments, and I wonder if the sensation of the sent material blinking off the screen suggests to us subconsciously that it has disappeared and therefore doesn’t matter, or doesn’t matter so much.

Our world has changed and I suspect we’re yet to catch up.

Do you see your statements on paper and on a screen as different? Should you be less accountable for anything sent from a screen?

Short Takes

Can someone inform me whether the proliferation of tinnies and dinghies chained to trees at various places along Lake Macquarie’s foreshore is legal? Despite numerous representations to Lake Macquarie City Council, I have been informed that no action will be taken in the immediate future to better store these boats. If this intrusion into public space can be controlled by Port Stephens Council, surely our council should have the resources to follow suit.
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Eric Roach, Croudace Bay

Why would you deploy the riot squad – a highly trained unit for combating violence and public unrest – to break up a peaceful protest by mums and grandmothers (‘‘At 95, gran says it’s time to make a stand’’ Herald 29/8)? I suppose when you give a political party an overwhelming majority in Parliament, it can do as it pleases. Mr O’Farrell, we all are waiting with bated breath for the next decision. Are you going to send the riot squad up to Gloucester next?

Ray Davidson, Birmingham Gardens

Now that Medowie Christian School has banned Harry Potter, I hope it has also banned Christian history. It seems that Harry Potter’s good guys use evil means to dispose of the bad guys. But isn’t that what Christians did? They sent crusaders all over the place to slaughter those who did not agree with their teachings. They burnt people to death at the stake if they spoke against their religion. They used (and still use) myths to propagate their beliefs. And I bet a lot of these same teachers watch the garbage that passes for entertainment on TV.

John Ferris, Muswellbrook

Planning and Infrastructure minister Brad Hazzard and Newcastle MP Tim Owen talked to local business owners and the people on the street about the Newcastle rail line going, but did not talk to the people from the Central Coast, west lakes and Maitland who use the trains to get into Newcastle. Don’t blame the rail line for a deserted city. People don’t come because of the parking meters and the state of the CBD. If the business owners don’t do something about that, they will be the only ones to sit back to enjoy the view if the rail goes. They will have their own private area, like Sydney’s Double Bay and Vaucluse, with no outsiders allowed in.

Trevor Whitney, Wangi Wangi

It appears that the left hand of the Department of Education doesn’t know what the right hand wants. Recently there was talk that they were planning to bring in weighing and measuring of students in a effort to stamp out obesity. But then what? Now cartwheels and other forms of active exercise in the playground may be banned unless it is performed in the presence of a qualified gymnast. Children have been doing cartwheels without significant injury or supervision for generations. These policies are diametrically opposed. Removing children from harm is essential, but teaching risk avoidance is harmful.

Roz Ramplin, Adamstown

NSW public sector workers are discovering that no matter how bad things are under a Labor government, it will only get worse under the Libs (‘‘80,000 brace for award cuts’’ Herald 29/8).

Mac Maguire, Charlestown

Greenthief ready to rock Cambridge

After playing more than 20 shows across the country supporting The Butterfly Effect, you couldn’t blame Brisbane rockers Greenthief for taking a break.
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But instead the three-piece outfit is hitting the road on its own headlining tour in support of its single Mr Number 1.

LIVE caught up with vocalist Julian to talk about the band, whose sound has been labelled ‘‘a lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Trent Reznor’’.

You definitely punch above your weight, producing a big sound for a three-piece band.

I think the hard work comes from a compositional side of things. Making something sound ‘‘big’’ is all about the arrangement of what is going on. A lot of time is spent in the rehearsal room figuring out what would sound big live, which has to do with what the instruments are playing independently.

Do you think psychedelic rock is a fair way to describe Greenthief’s sound?

Greenthief have a fairly diverse sound. I definitely think a lot of our music could be classified as psychedelic as we do tend to jam within our song structures. A lot of our musical influences come from the ’70s, where this was the norm.

Your sound has been described as ‘‘akin to a lovechild of Jeff Buckley and Trent Reznor’’. Thoughts?

We definitely love what both artists have brought to music. Specifically, I would say our music would most be influenced by Buckley’s thick textured chords within his writing, whilst Reznor has always been an innovator in the way he blends industrial rock with pop sensibility. Both artists inspire us.

You’ve already had a busy year on the road. How was supporting The Butterfly Effect?

Supporting The Butterfly Effect on their national tour was incredible. We were very privileged to be taken along for the ride, which saw us get to perform at some of the country’s biggest venues.

Do you think you learnt any lessons from touring with such a successful band?

Definitely. It was amazing getting to watch such a professional band perform every night. Whether it was watching what [singer] Clint Boge did in preparation for each show or how they communicated with their fans, it was one huge learning experience.

Tell us about recording Retribution with Steve James (Airbourne, Screaming Jets).

Recording with Steve has been great. He has a great ear for song structure and pulling massive tones, which have benefited the tracks immensely.

What’s next for Greenthief after this tour?

We will be touring our third single for 2012 in November/December before bunkering down to finish our debut album.

Greenthief will play at the Cambridge Hotel on September 5.

BIG SOUND: Greenthief are touring in support of their single Mr Number 1.

Last supper came early for Ratten

Brett Ratten is set to coach Carlton for the final time on Sunday. Brett Ratten leaves Carlton yesterday.
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ROHAN CONNOLLY: Record means little against the rapidly advancing tideROBERT WALLS: Malthouse a big risk as Blues err in axing Ratten

BRETT Ratten had breakfast with Chris Judd and his leadership group early yesterday. For all intents and purposes it was the soon-to-be-sacked coach’s last supper with the senior players who had failed him at Carlton’s penultimate hurdle against the Gold Coast.

Late yesterday Ratten would not reveal whether he said his private goodbyes over toast, fruit and coffee, preferring to leave his public thoughts until this morning’s scheduled press conference, which will formalise his sad and bitter ending. It is known that the players wanted him to coach them one more time and that Ratten agreed.

It is also known that all of them will be going through the motions. In a sense the Gold Coast game was for those who have plotted Ratten’s departure for months a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether or not the deal has been done – and Blues chiefs continue to vehemently deny it – the prospect of Mick Malthouse will now take centre stage, despite Malthouse having promised Ratten in June last year he would not take his job.

For Stephen Kernahan, the president who as football director re-signed and then sacked Ratten’s two predecessors, this next appointment will prove his last role of the dice.

Already there are powerbrokers who believe Kernahan’s time is up and have told him so, even though the Blues great seems determined to remain at the helm until 2014.

For both Kernahan and his chief Greg Swann, who were to join Ratten at today’s formal goodbye, Malthouse will make or break them. The Blues have worshipped for decades at the shrine of the messiah and in recent years that messiah has come in forms ranging from Denis Pagan to Richard Pratt to Chris Judd. Some have worked better than others.

Travis Cloke could prove another potential saviour in terms of the Blues’ brittle forward line, with Carlton players reportedly having met and endorsed a massive plunge on the AFL’s most famous free agent, who remains at contractual odds with Collingwood. Even if it means sacrificing their own pay packets.

You couldn’t script a more dramatic reigniting of football’s most famous traditional rivalry. The cold war that has existed between the Malthouse family and Eddie McGuire all season looks set to turn physical.

Paul Roos looms as the only potential spanner in what has seemed a done deal for months. The board is not united over Malthouse with several key directors, including Jeanne Pratt, determined to launch a bid for the Swans’ premiership coach.

Roos has declared he will not coach next year, but now there is a vacancy the view is this could change. Some Carlton directors believe money could change his mind and clearly the coming weeks will cost the club at least an extra $2 million.

But the spectre of Malthouse that has hovered over Carlton looks certain to materialise. In fact, the 59-year-old three-time premiership coach was almost over the line to cross to Carlton as long ago as May 2011. That was when behind-the-scenes negotiations even had key assistant coaches and football staffers in place. Then Malthouse, who appeared headed for a second straight flag at Collingwood, got cold feet and Ratten almost coached the Blues into the top four.

Collingwood now believes Malthouse will attempt to lure his close ally and respected high-performance boss David Buttifant to Visy Park as well, even though Buttifant has a contract. The Magpies have privately stated they would also welcome their former captain and Blues coaching assistant Gavin Brown back to the club.

Where all this leaves Ratten, 41, a Carlton premiership player, captain and three-time best and fairest is one of the game’s harshest realities. The criticisms of him have been that he could not instil enough of a hard edge into his players and that he allowed emotion to get in the way. Occasionally, his leadership was questioned. Ratten never won the PR battle with Carlton people and his termination was reportedly endorsed by some key sponsors.

There were strong suggestions last night extra sponsorship money has been promised should Malthouse or Roos sign.

Ratten coached superbly when his back was against the wall from mid-season. His Carlton teams improved each year until this year’s failure, and only at the end of 2010 after three full years as a first-time senior coach did he receive the off-field assistance commensurate with his rivals. Port Adelaide confirmed again yesterday that he is in the frame for that senior vacancy.

The reality is Malthouse was the architect of Ratten’s undoing after assuring him he would not take his job. Malthouse has spoken repeatedly about the cost of coaching on his family, despite the fact his children have grown up and he is a grandfather. He has insisted he will not coach again without their endorsement. In the same breath four days ago he said they would support him. Few take those protestations seriously.

This move will not say much for his sincerity or make him any more popular but Malthouse will not bother about that. He will thrive on it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bible is the ultimate fairytale

PETER Dolan’s suggestion that ‘‘God dies’’ in the Harry Potter novels is laughable (‘‘Toxic messages of Potter books’’ Letters 28/8). Someone or something that never existed cannot die.
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But the suggestion that gruesome and frightening images are often the stuff of great literature is correct. Where would we be without such fictional images? No Shakespeare, Dante, Dickens or Umberto Echo. Life would be dull.

The Bible is the ultimate fairytale, just ahead of the Koran, the Talmud and all the other religious claptrap kids have had shoved down their throats for centuries.

Mr Dolan’s ‘‘cornucopia of false messages’’ described as contained in the Harry Potter novels, could perfectly describe the Bible.

Everything Mr Dolan says about the novels of J.K.Rowling can be applied to the Bible. It is largely a work of fiction, where everything and anything is said to justify the opinions and outlook of the authors, mostly a narrow, partisan view of the world written decades after the alleged life of Jesus.

When Mr Dolan talks about evil, I suggest he think about the many cases of child abuse committed by men and women of God.

Or the terror regimes in the Australian concentration camps where Aboriginal children were imprisoned, abused and battered under the ‘‘protection’’ of various religious organisations.

Or the genocides committed with church approval and supervision in South America and other places colonised by devoutly Christian conquerors.

It is beyond me why our society tolerates what I see as cults, such as the Catholic, Anglican and other churches, organisations with appalling histories of abuse and misogyny. Why do we fund them with our taxes?

Osieck sticks with Socceroos mainstays

SOCCEROOS coach Holger Osieck has named a squad of the tried and tested for next week’s friendly against Lebanon in Beirut and the subsequent World Cup qualifier against Jordan in Amman on September 11.
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Coming back into the squad is the Socceroos’ linchpin, Tim Cahill, who missed the recent friendly against Scotland as he settled into life in the USA where he has signed with MLS club New York Red Bulls.

Jade North, Nikita Rukavytsya, Adam Sarota and Matthew Spiranovic have also been recalled while midfielder James Holland, who hasn’t featured for the national team in 18 months, has been included.

However, Harry Kewell, who is still in the hunt for a new club after being turned away by Stoke City, has not been included in the 22-man squad.

Fellow veteran Mark Schwarzer shows no signs of slowing down and if he plays in either match will be come the first player to reach 100 caps for the Socceroos.

There is only one uncapped player in the squad, habitual third-choice goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak. Ryan McGowan and Jason Davidson, who made their respective debuts in this month’s 3-1 friendly defeat against Scotland, have again won selection.

Melbourne Victory defender Mark Milligan was not considered as he has to serve a one-match ban for being sent off against Japan.

Socceroos squad for Jordan and Lebanon matches: Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa, Qatar), Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse, Japan), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls, USA), David Carney (FK Bundyodkor Tashkent, Uzbekistan), Jason Davidson (SC Heracles Almelo, Netherlands), Adam Federici (GK) (Reading FC, England), James Holland, (FK Austria Wien, Australia), Brett Holman (Aston Villa FC, England), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace FC, England), Robbie Kruse, (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Mitchell Langerak (GK) (B.V. Borussia 09 Dortmund, Germany), Ryan McGowan (Heart of Midlothian FC, Scotland), Matthew McKay (Busan I’Park, Korea Republic), Lucas Neill, (Al Wasl, UAE), Jade North (Consadole Sapporo, Japan), Sasa Ognenovski (Umm Salal SC, Qatar), Nikita Rukavytsya (Hertha Berliner SC, Germany), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht, Netherlands), Mark Schwarzer (GK) (Fulham FC, England), Matthew Spiranovic (Al Arabi, Qatar), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Luke Wilkshire (FK Dinamo Moscow, Russia)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Cashing in on an investment

Renos done . . . Leila McKinnon, who is selling her renovated investment apartment at Bondi. The Lilyfield home of Dorothy McRae-McMahon that sold for more than $1 million.
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The heritage-listed residence at Glenwood, Blacktown, that is expected to sell for more than $600,000.

The Channel Nine presenter Leila McKinnon, who is a co-host of Weekend Today, is selling her apartment at Bondi. McKinnon owns the two-bedder with her brother, Daniel McKinnon, and his Fairfax financial journalist wife, Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon.

Since it was last traded for $618,000 in 2005, the apartment has been renovated with an open-plan gas kitchen and jarrah floors. In a small block of seven apartments in Bennett Street, it has two queen-size bedrooms, a white-tiled bathroom and a large living and dining area opening to a balcony with views to the ocean in the distance.

Also on title is a garage with mezzanine storage. The property, which is expected to sell for about $700,000, is scheduled for auction on September 22 through Bradfield Cleary agent, Mark Daley.

The doctor is in

A former operating theatre building, which is part of the extensive redevelopment of the Prince Henry Hospital site at Little Bay, was snapped up for $1,385,000 last week by a doctor from the north coast who intends to restore it and use it as his Sydney residence.

The building, on an 840 sqm block in Darwin Avenue, was sold two weeks before its auction, which had been scheduled for early September through Morton & Morton agent David Licul.

Snapped before auction

The Lilyfield home of Dorothy McRae-McMahon, who worked in international aid and community development for the NSW Ecumenical Council, sold last week for just over $1 million through McGrath Leichhardt agent Stuart Norman. The three-bedroom, weatherboard bungalow, set on a 249 sqm block in Maida Street, sold 10 days before its scheduled auction.

In a quiet street near the Bay Run, it has large rooms with high patterned ceilings and timber fretwork. Now retired, McRae-McMahon was a minister with the Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney. She has won many awards including the Australian Peace Award and the Human Rights Medal.

Early booking for B&B

Belvedere, a former bed and breakfast establishment at Burradoo in the southern highlands, sold before its scheduled auction through three Bowral estate agents: Angus Campbell-Jones, Margaret McCauley and Ian Rayner. The 4453 sqm Werrington Street property has beautiful views across the Wingecarribee River. Surrounded by established gardens, the house has five bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen and large formal and informal living areas.

Last month, Belvedere was listed with $1.5 million price hopes but the agents could not confirm its sale price because of confidentiality agreements. The vendor, Geraldine Broderick, intends to downsize to a smaller property in the Bowral area.

A little piece of history

At Glenwood near the Norwest Business Park, a heritage homestead (listed by Blacktown City Council) is set for auction on September 22 through John Russell of Richardson & Wrench Baulkham Hills. Named Isabella, the house has been restored by Wayne Stein and Donna Malcolm, who both work for Australia Post.

The house, which is expected to sell for more than $600,000, stands on a 611 sqm block that originally was part of a 50-acre [20-hectare] land grant made by Governor Macquarie to a former convict, John Gray.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

China turns to more subtle monetary tools

China’s central bank is experimenting with more delicate tools to support bank liquidity and lending, showing an apparent reluctance to resort to blunter monetary policy instruments such as cutting the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves despite abundant signs of weakening growth.
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The central bank surveyed primary dealers about demand for 28-day reverse bond repurchase agreements on Wednesday, traders said, as policymakers seek alternatives to another cut in banks’ required reserve ratio (RRR).

It was the first time the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has suggested it might use such a long-term instrument to inject liquidity into the interbank market.

As recently as two weeks ago, money market traders and economists widely believed the third RRR cut of 2012 was imminent, as evidence mounted that the world’s second-largest economy was slowing more sharply than expected.

But the current consensus is that the PBOC has decided to rely on reverse repos to ensure that banks have the liquidity necessary to support the flow of new loans and bond issues. The PBOC began issuing reverse repos regularly in May.

“My baseline scenario is that the authorities’ focus in 2012 is not on growth but in cleaning up the excesses that materialised from the 2009-10 stimulus,” said Tim Condon, head of Asian economic research at ING in Singapore.

“They simply don’t want to do anything that will risk rekindling the area of excess that they are trying to clean up. And therefore I see the 28-day repo as kind of a fine-tuning measure, that they don’t want to actually make a permanent injection via a RRR cut.”

China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in more than three years in the second quarter, and a factory survey last week showed China’s manufacturing sector contracted at its sharpest pace in nine months in August. Earlier data showed that exports, bank loans, and industrial output all grew more slowly than expected in July.

Why no RRR cut?

While the PBOC has used 28-day forward repos to withdraw liquidity, it has relied exclusively on seven-day and 14-day reverse repos for liquidity injections in recent years. In 2005, 21-day reverse repos were used on a small scale.

Extending the maturity of reverse repo operations offers an apparent compromise between shorter-term liquidity injections and an RRR cut.

Traders had complained that even if the volume of reverse repo fund injections is large, such operations have limited potential to bring down interbank rates. The short duration created uncertainty, since the market could never be sure whether the repos would be rolled over on maturity.

Beyond the issue of duration, however, traders are divided about the central bank’s fundamental motivation for choosing reverse repos over an RRR cut.

Some speculate that central bank is reluctant to take any major easing steps prior to the Communist Party congress likely to occur in October or November, when the Party will unveil its next generation of top leaders. The precise dates are not yet decided.

Such reluctance could reflect divisions within the leadership about how to balance the need for monetary easing with the risk of re-inflating a housing bubble and fuelling investment in industries such as steel and cement already sagging under the weight of overcapacity.

But other disagree, noting that RRR cuts have traditionally been viewed as a technocratic decision that the PBOC is free to make without consulting the State Council, China’s cabinet.

An alternate theory is that the shift to reverse repos represents a longer-term effort by the PBOC to re-tool monetary policy to bring it in line with advanced economies.

In the United States and European Union, central banks use short-term repos to achieve an explicit short-term rates target. Quantitative tools such as reserve ratios play little role.

Guiding the market

Traders point out that, unlike an RRR cut, reverse repos allow the central bank to explicitly guide interbank rates via the auction yield. This essentially sets a floor on the rate at which banks will lend to each other for a given duration.

“An increased number of tenors in PBOC reverse repos will make it easier for the central bank to adjust short-term funding costs,” said a trader at a major Chinese state-owned bank in Beijing.

“Signs are that the PBOC is recently strengthening its guidance of money market rates via its reverse repo rates. Its intention for now appears to be maintaining the stability of short-term funding costs.”

Even as the central bank has increased the volume of its fund injections in recent weeks, it has guided the rate on its seven-day reverse repos from 3.30 per cent on July 12 to 3.40 per cent for the past two weeks.

That suggests that while the central bank aims to ensure that banks have the funds they need to lend, they do not want the benchmark seven-day repo interbank rate to plumb the depths of 2009-10, during which it rarely exceeded 3 per cent and was often below 2 per cent.

By contrast, an RRR cut is a blunter instrument that simply floods the interbank market with funds and lets banks sort out the price at which they will lend.

China was forced to increase the RRR for much of the last decade as a way to sterilize the massive foreign exchange inflows created by its huge trade surpluses.

But the trade surplus has fallen sharply in recent years, and China suffered its first capital account deficit in the second quarter this year.

With the reserve ratio still high at 20 per cent, China must still eventually unwind it to more reasonable levels. But the more balanced flow of capital into and out of the country suggests that the RRR will play a less important role in monetary policy in the future.

Reuters

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Record means little against the rapidly advancing tide

Embattled Carlton coach Brett Ratten leaves the club this afternoon.CAROLINE WILSON: Last supper came early for RattenROBERT WALLS: Malthouse a big risk as Blues err in axing Ratten
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MANY factors can kill an AFL coaching stint. At Carlton, for Brett Ratten, it has been the convergence of several.

The high expectations of a club with as many premierships as any, and a bar raised to a top-four spot pre-season by the coach himself. A spate of crippling injuries that derailed the Blues’ season when, after three good wins to start the season, they were flag favourites.

The humiliation of a loss to a wooden spoon candidate that led to the club missing out on the finals. And the availability, and obvious interest, of a former revered coaching peer, Mick Malthouse, waiting in the wings.

If the end wasn’t coming already for Ratten, despite having a year left on his contract, last Saturday night’s shock loss to Gold Coast inflicted the fatal wound. And Malthouse’s clear interest in coaching again, as apparent as it’s ever been since last weekend, was the final nail in the coffin.

But Ratten will be one of the unluckier coaches to get the chop in recent memory. He took on a side, and a club, close to a basket case with six games to go in 2007 and, until this year, improved its position season by season.

From a finish of 15th in the first year, Carlton climbed to 11th in 2008 with 10 wins. In 2009, they reached the finals for the first time in eight years, only to be pipped on the post by the Brisbane Lions in an elimination final away from home.

It happened again in 2010, this time nutted on the line by Sydney. Last year, the Blues went one further, smashing Essendon in the elimination final before once again losing by less than a kick in an interstate final, this time in Perth to West Coast.

Even after this season’s less-than-sparkling performances from his team, Ratten has a winning percentage as coach of 50.8 per cent. That should have presented at least some sort of pass mark.

By way of comparison, Brisbane’s Michael Voss, approaching the end of his fourth season in charge, has a current strike rate of just 38.7 per cent. For Richmond’s Damien Hardwick, at the end of his third year at Punt Road, it’s 37.7.

That’s not to denigrate either man, both their sides seeming to have made significant strides this year. But it’s also fair to say their playing lists were in far healthier shape than was Ratten’s when he took over the Blues.

The arrival of Chris Judd certainly helped, so did some early draft picks, though the progress of the likes of Bryce Gibbs and Matthew Kreuzer has been one of a number of vigorous debates by the navy blue army, along with tactical acumen, recruiting and list development, both of those areas slammed by club greats such as Robert Walls and Mark Maclure in recent days.

The biggest question: to what extent should the senior coach be held responsible?

Ratten was seen to improve steadily over the course of his tenure in areas such as communication with his players. The balance of Carlton’s best 22 also became much improved.

The Blues at their best, seen as recently as the weekend before last, when they thrashed Essendon by 96 points, playing an attractive, attacking style, smart out of defence and potent up forward.

Yet Ratten never won the total approval of the famously impatient Carlton hordes and, more significantly, enough of his club’s board.

Those agitating for change at board level were grudging in their praise, even when the Blues began to rebound from their mid-season slump, unearthing young prospects such as Levi Casboult and Tom Bell, and hauling themselves back into finals contention

In the words of Carlton president Stephen Kernahan, before last weekend’s nightmare the Blues had won back respect. That might have saved Ratten’s bacon. Instead, the loss to the Suns fried it to a crisp.

Perhaps another coaching door might open, with Port Adelaide still on the hunt for a senior man for 2013.

Certainly, though, this one would have stayed open – as Ratten’s contract stipulated it would – had a certain triple premiership coach not been hovering in the background.

And that’s no consolation or comfort for a man who served Carlton with distinction in 255 games as a player, and at least helped haul the Blues back to respectability in 120-odd games as coach.BYE, BYE, BLUESBrett Ratten’s coaching tenure at Carlton

2007 Brett Ratten takes over as coach after Denis Pagan is sacked with six games remaining. The Blues lose all six. Carlton secures Matthew Kreuzer with the priority pick, and trades pick three and Josh Kennedy to West Coast for Chris Judd. Ratten signs a deal until the end of 2009. FINISHED: 15th

2008 Ratten’s first full season starts poorly, losing the first three games. He swings the momentum with two wins over Collingwood and Richmond. FINISHED:11th (10 wins, 12 losses)

2009 Carlton makes the finals for the first time since 2001 but squanders a big lead in its elimination final against the Brisbane Lions. The Blues are in crisis after Brendan Fevola’s Brownlow Medal night scandal and put him up for trade. The coach signs a contract until the end of 2011. FINISHED: 7th (13-10)

2010 The Blues are again bundled out in an elimination final, against Sydney by a goal. Ratten is told by players he needs to take more interest in them as people. FINISHED: 8th (11-12)

2011 Under pressure all season about his contract, but the Blues win their first final in 10 years and almost pull off a miracle victory against West Coast in Perth. Ratten earns a two-year contract extension. FINISHED: 5th (15-8-1)

2012 PRE-SEASON: Carlton loses all its pre-season matches but Ratten declares anything short of a top-four finish will be considered a failure. ROUND TWO: Ratten becomes the third person in Carlton’s history to play and coach 100 games. The following week, the Blues smash Collingwood and become premiership favourites. ROUND EIGHT: Carlton loses Marc Murphy to a long-term shoulder injury, escalating a horror injury run. ROUND 10: Media pressure and supporter backlash intensifies after the Blues lose to Port Adelaide. Links between Mick Malthouse and the Carlton job surface after Eddie McGuire declares the former Pies coach would be a perfect fit for the Blues. ROUND 15: The Age reports Ratten will coach for his future against Collingwood after a run of six losses in seven games to fall out of the top eight. Carlton upsets the Pies and wins four of its next six games to rekindle finals hopes. ROUND 22: A disastrous loss to Gold Coast ends Carlton’s finals chances. YESTERDAY: It is revealed Ratten’s coaching career at Carlton is finished, with a year to run on his contract. POSITION: Carlton currently 10th (11-10)

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.