Smith lets actions do talking in Origin

Even Queensland great Darren Lockyer got the silent treatment from Maroons skipper Cameron Smith on Wednesday night.

杭州桑拿

But Smith let his actions do the talking after a difficult week to help inspire Queensland’s series clinching 52-6 State of Origin win at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

Smith has been left reeling after copping scathing criticism from Alex McKinnon over his on-field behaviour following the tackle last year that left the ex-Knights forward in a wheelchair.

As a result Smith vowed to give Nine Network the cold shoulder in the fallout over their 60 Minutes report on McKinnon last weekend.

And it seems there were no exceptions.

Smith had plenty to talk about with Lockyer after equalling the Queensland great’s record of 36 Origins in the series decider in Brisbane.

But Smith had no time for Lockyer when the Maroons legend approached the milestone man for a halftime comment.

However, Smith had plenty to say on the field.

Smith has been dubbed “The Accountant” due to his less than intimidating physical presence.

However, the Maroons No.9 did not take a backward step from the outset after being shielded by the team in the lead-up.

The Queensland Origin camp were so protective of their skipper that media were told the Maroons would abandon their traditional pre-match team walk on Wednesday morning if Smith was approached for comment on McKinnon.

He may have kept a low profile ahead of the match following McKinnon’s criticism but his frustration appeared to boil over in just the eighth minute.

He lashed out with his foot at NSW prop Aaron Woods when held down in a tackle as Queensland received a penalty to lock up the scores at 2-2.

He then sprung into action when the ball went to ground with the Maroons on attack in the 15th minute, lobbing a cut out pass to give winger Dane Gagai his first Origin try.

Smith was in the action again when driven into the ground by Beau Scott in back play in the 31st minute, earning Queensland another penalty kick.

By fulltime, Smith was provided the perfect tonic after a difficult week with Queensland’s eight tries to one romp.

But the fallout looks set to continue.

Ex-Test half Matthew Johns slammed the Nine Network for not giving Smith a right of reply on 60 Minutes.

Johns also claimed there was unplayed on-field audio from a sympathetic Smith after McKinnon’s fateful tackle that was not used by 60 Minutes.

“To not give him a right of reply on something that was so sensitive, is so wrong, it was disgraceful,” Johns told Triple M radio.

Johns said the unplayed audio “showed Cameron in a much more sympathetic light” and by not using it “it became Cameron Smith vs Alex McKinnon – whose side are you on?”\

Smith only broke his silence when he took the podium to raise the Origin trophy for the ninth time in 10 years.

“To our boys, a lot of question marks were raised over our team and our performance after game two,” he said of their 26-18 Origin II loss in Melbourne.

“I think, looking at the scoreboard, is the best way to respond.”

Murray stays in fast lane to cruise past Pospisil

As the capital prepared for strike-induced gridlock, however, home hope Murray stayed in the fast lane through the men’s draw, winning a rain-interrupted match 6-4 7-5 6-4 to reach his sixth All England Club semi-final where seven-times champion Roger Federer awaits.

杭州桑拿

Murray was solid rather than adventurous, which has been good enough so far to dispose of players ranked 59, 78, 27, 23 and 56, but the next hurdle standing in the way of a second Wimbledon title will be considerably higher.

The 28-year-old 2013 champion can only beat who is on the opposite side of the net though and in Pospisil he faced a player with enough in his armoury to keep him on his toes, even if he rarely threatened to derail the third seed and dampen the spirits of the Pimms-drinking home crowd.

Pospisil, battle-hardened after three five-setters en route to his first grand slam quarter-final, served superbly and produced some stunning touches around the net, but only in the final game of the match did he earn a break point.

Murray duly snuffed out the danger, and with Prince William, his wife the Duchess of Cambridge and ex-England soccer captain David Beckham, watching under the Centre Court roof that slid shut after a second rain delay, he delivered the winning blow.

Unseeded Pospisil was given two warnings for slow play by French umpire Pascal Maria — the first at 5-5 30-30 in the second set and the second, which cost him a first serve, when he was broken at 4-4 in the third.

Both looked harsh and even Murray’s fans booed.

“I think a lot of times these umpires, they seem to just want to be seen,” 25-year-old Pospisil, who is yet to win a set off Murray in four meetings, told reporters.

The Briton broke in the third game of the match and after holding for 3-1 light drizzle forced the players off court.

Pospisil was 30-0 ahead on the Murray serve in the sixth game and looked poised to earn break points only to put a bounce smash into the tramlines with his opponent out of position.

A miraculous off-balance lob helped Murray close out the first set and after a second stoppage, this time to slide the roof into position after a brisk shower, he turned the screw.

Pospisil dived in vain to try and cut off a dipping backhand on break point down at 5-5 and Murray held for a two-set lead.

After that, Murray’s 150th grand slam win was a formality.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)

Blues swamped by Maroons in Origin decider

If there was ever any doubt, Queensland again illustrated what a great State of Origin side they were in thrashing NSW 52-6 in the interstate series decider on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium.

杭州桑拿

Johnathan Thurston and man of the series Corey Parker led the way for the home side in Justin Hodges’ farewell Origin game, as a Maroons tide swept the Blues aside to score the biggest win in Origin history.

On the back of a glut of possession and field position in the opening half, Queensland led 22-2 at halftime and went on with the job after the break.

“We had a point to prove after losing last year’s series,” Thurston told the Nine Network.

“Everyone wrote us off (as being too old) but we showed what a champion side we are again tonight.

“There is not a better feeling than winning a State of Origin decider in Queensland.”

First-half tries to Dane Gagai, Josh Papalii and Greg Inglis paved the way for the massive Queensland win as the Blues’ poor discipline and dropped ball cost them dearly.

The Blues had no answer to anything the Maroons did, with a runaway try to Michael Jennings in the 60th minute their sole four-pointer.

Matt Gillett, Michael Morgan, Darius Boyd, Will Chambers and Aidan Guerra added second-half four-pointers for the home side.

“This is exactly the way I wanted to go out,” Hodges said.

Blues skipper Paul Gallen said it was “just one of those nights”.

“There’s not a lot more to say,” he said.

Maroons skipper Cameron Smith said his side had answered its critics in emphatic fashion.

“There were a lot of question marks raised after our performance in the last game, but look at the scoreboard – that is the best answer,” Smith said.

To make matters worse for the Blues, Trent Merrin and Trent Hodkinson were put on report for an ugly tackle on Parker in the 34th minute, while James Tamou copped likewise for a hit on Jacob Lillyman in the 54th minute.

The Blues had hoped this would be a night they would start to create their own dynasty but Queensland wrested back control of the interstate series. They have won nine of the past 10 series, after NSW’s victory last year.

Queensland won game one in Sydney 11-10, with NSW winning 26-18 in game two at the MCG.

As expected, Michael Ennis was a late inclusion for Robbie Farah at hooker for NSW, while Ryan Hoffman suffered an early calf injury and didn’t return.

Muslim Australians read out Islamophobic comments on video

A handful of prominent Australian Muslim people have appeared in a YouTube video that openly mocks Islamophobic posts on Twitter and other statements about their religion.

杭州桑拿

@BabsNation @MariamVeiszadeh mariam should be taken to the vets and desexed so that herDNA doesn’t breed into future life forms.

— David Lonie (@DaveL495) July 2, 2015

However some of those in the video read comments that were not on social media at all, like this submission to Cory Bernardi’s pet project, the Halal certification Senate inquiry (Third party certification of food).

“I had been purchasing Vegemite all my life, as did my parents and this Halal Certification has stopped that now,” one reader read during the video, which was originally a comment sent to the Halal Senate inquiry.

Buzzfeed reported on the video but did not verify that the comments were all made on Twitter and that they had actually been sent to the people reading them. The Daily Mail also picked up the story and reported the tweets as having all been sent to the readers.

Some tweets were directed at the readers specifically.

@jihaddibmp Umm given the position you hold & the strange times we are traversing .. Do you think it wise to use ‘Jihad’ as a name?

— Ladywhitepeace (@ladywhitepeace1) September 17, 2015

Other tweets were posted in response to posts about news articles and other tweets.

@Paul_Sheehan_ @smh who the hell do they think they are? This is a democracy, if they don’t like it, F. OFF to the Middle East!

— SusanCH#let downLib (@SCH451) October 12, 2015

Watch the video here:

Motorists gouged at the petrol pump

Petrol retailers have kept prices at the pump high despite cheaper crude oil.

杭州桑拿

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s fourth quarterly report into the petroleum industry found retail margins are at their highest level since monitoring began in 2002.

“We will be closely monitoring gross retail margins in the coming months, because high retail margins likely indicate increased profits of the petrol companies at the expense of motorists,” the consumer watchdog said on Tuesday.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said part of the reason why retail prices did not fall by as much as international prices was the weaker Australian dollar.

Had the dollar been at the same level as it was in January 2013 ($US1.05) retail petrol prices in the quarter would have been around 20 cents a litre cheaper.

Sydney and Brisbane had the highest gross retail margins at around 14 cents a litre – six cents higher than in Melbourne.

The average retail petrol price in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth was 133.2 cents a litre – down 2.6 cents a litre from the June quarter.

Prices remained higher in regional areas due to less retail competition, lower fuel volumes sold, distance and lower convenience store sales.

While monthly average prices in the five largest cities fell by 11.3 cents a litre over the September quarter, regional prices fell by only 6.7 cents a litre – averaging 134.6.

NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said profit margins had been as high as 26 cents a litre in some cities.

“Not only are oil companies making more profit at the high end but major players are pushing prices up at the lower end of the cycle,” he told AAP.

“The forecast for prices as a result of international factors is in the positive for motorists, but this report shows we are still paying more at the pump because of these profit margins.”

Prices on average needed to fall further and extra scrutiny of fuel companies would be vital to ensure they flow through to motorists, Mr Khoury said.

MONTHLY AVERAGE PETROL PRICES – JUNE AND SEPTEMBER QUARTERS 2015

Sydney – June 140.1, Sept 130.1

Melbourne – June 139.3, Sept 127.6

Brisbane – June 144.6, Sept 130.6

Adelaide – June 140.6, Sept 129.0

Perth – June 138.2, Sept 129.3

Hobart – June 143.1, Sept 137.8

Canberra – June 144.5, Sept 132.8

Darwin – June 134.9, Sept 130.4

(Source: ACCC)

Should you buy into smart beta ETFs?

Smart beta is latest investment trend, marketed as a new way to diversify and reduce risk.

杭州桑拿

But is smart beta really the best way to achieve your investment goals?

It’s nearly impossible to read the financial news or an investment newsletter these days without coming across the term “smart beta”.

Smart beta – also known as strategic beta, alternative beta, fundamental beta, advanced beta, enhanced beta, and probably a few other names – aims to combine elements of passive index investing and active fund management to deliver the best of both worlds: transparency, broad diversification, and market-beating returns – all at low cost. What more could you ask for?

But before you throw all of your savings into the latest smart beta product, it’s worth digging a bit deeper into what smart beta really is.

Smart beta is all about index construction which refers to which stocks (or other assets) make up an index and their relative size within that index…

So what exactly is an index?

Indices and index funds

The first share market indices were designed to measure the broad market and serve as a point of comparison for ‘active’ (stock picking) fund managers. They typically weighted stocks by size – the stocks with the biggest market value made up a larger portion of the index. Examples of size-weighted indices include popular ones you’ve probably heard of like the the S&P 500 (started in 1957) or S&P ASX/200 (started in 2000).

When John Bogle launched the first index fund in 1975, it was intended as a sensible, low-cost way for individuals to invest into these such indices. The Vanguard 500 Index was not intended to beat the market, but simply ensure investors kept up with the stocks in it.

Over 40 years, Vanguard has now grown into the largest mutual fund manager in the world with over US$3 trillion under management and index investing has become so popular that an entire industry has emerged on the back of it.

Emergence of smart beta

All index funds, by definition, are passive investments. This includes smart beta. There’s no fund manager making trading decisions and all buying and selling is done according to a strict set of rules.

However, smart beta indices aim to fix some of the believed shortcomings of weighting investments by market size when building an index. One example is that during a bubble, some shares can make up a larger and larger share of the index, like technology stocks did during the ‘tech boom’ in the late 1990s, or mining stocks when commodity prices rocketed in 2006-2011. This can cause traditional size-weighted indices to ‘overshoot’ during booms and busts.

To address this and other similar observations about size-weighted indices, new ways of constructing indices have emerged – with weights determined by different approaches such as dividends, research ratings, simple averages, or consistency of cash flows. This is what’s meant by smart beta.

Common smart beta strategies

There are 4 common smart beta approaches to building indices:

High dividend strategies that aim pick stocks with higher dividend yields to boost investor income.

e.g. Vanguard Australian Shares High Yield ETF (VHY)

Other fundamental indices that focus on measures like sales revenue or free cash flow as a more accurate measure of economic contribution rather than using market capitalisation.

e.g. Russell Australian Value ETF (RVL) or

BetaShares FTSE RAFI Australia 200 ETF (QOZ)

Equal weighting – the simplest form of index construction that just averages an entire universe of stocks, thus giving each stock the same importance.

e.g. Market Vectors Australian Equal Weight ETF (MVW)

Low volatility strategies which target a smoother ride by carefully selecting less risky stocks.

e.g. ANZ/ETFS S&P 500 High Yield Low Volatility Fund (ZYU)

While some of these funds may advertise a new paradigm of investment thinking, they all use fairly transparent, rules-based approaches to prioritise exposure to certain market factors. These factors include style (growth and value), size (large, mid, small), or momentum (consistency). The challenge for investors is in deciding which factors to want exposure to (if any).

Smart beta bets on market factors

At their core, all smart beta ETFs are taking a bet on certain market factors being more important than others:

Low volatility and high dividend stocks tend to have a bias towards value stocks that have lower growth and more stable earnings since they tend to be less volatile than companies with less predictable profits like mining businesses or biotechnology. However, when investors crowd into low-volatility or high dividend stocks, as they’ve been doing over the past few years, it can push valuations in some sectors (e.g. telecommunications, utilities, and property) to the point they actually become more risky. This can, perhaps counterintuitively, make low volatility or high dividend strategies dangerous after a period of good returns.

Fundamental indices may use operating cash flow as a better indication of economic size. Analysis shows these approaches have a strong value stock bias as well.

An equal weighting methodology introduces a significant bias towards small companies because the stocks that have a lower market size have the same weight in the index as bigger businesses like Commonwealth Bank (CBA). The portfolio will likely also have a value bias because equal weighting will expand the weight of value stocks, which tend to trade at lower price compared to their profit.Shortcomings of smart betaHow smart is it really?

By offering enhanced exposure to some factors, like value and size, smart beta strategies must also be de-prioritising other factors. Because current price reflects every factor used by any investor to estimate a company’s value, a market-size-weighted index also represents an all-factor approach to investing. On the other hand, smart-beta is essentially taking a bet that a few select factors are more important than an all factor (market value) approach.

Source: Vanguard

Backtesting can give false confidence

Smart beta strategies are often marketed as being able to ‘beat the market’. However the truth is often a lot more murky. Many have only outperformed from backtesting over a select, historical time period which introduces a few significant issues.

Think of an index like a deck of cards. Backtesting lets you shuffle a deck of cards thousands of times until a favourable “shuffle” emerges to match the order you want to show. In essence, backtesting lets the smart beta strategies and ETFs ‘stack a deck’ of stocks in a way that outperformed the index in the past. But there’s no guarantee that the same strategy will work going forward. As a result, many smart beta strategies could have simply worked in the past by chance.

Let’s say you rebuilt S&P/ASX 200 but weighted the companies according to the birthday of their CEOs and found that this new index outperformed a size weighted index by 20% over 15 years. This would not be because January-born CEOs are better at managing businesses than December ones. This would just be an example of how you can use a random set of data to prove any hypothesis when backtesting.

What about risk?

Some smart beta strategies have been able to outperform over the long-term, but the differences in return can usually be explained simply by risk. For example, equal-weight indices of stocks do tend to outperform market-size weighted indices over the long-term. However this can be explained entirely due to equal weight taking more risk (due to having more small stocks). On a risk versus return basis, you’re no better off owning the equal weight index even though it generated higher returns. Also, there are sometimes lower-cost ways to get the same factor exposure (small companies) and return profile.

Sources: CRSP US Stock and Index Database, S&P Dow Jones Indexes, Federal Reserve

Smart beta follows in-vogue style trends

It’s no coincidence that many of the smart beta funds launched over the past couple of years in Australia have been dividend focused. This is because dividend investment strategies had a great run of performance between 2011 and 2014. ETF issuers know that it’s much easier selling strategies that have done well recently than those that haven’t since people tend to chase returns.

In fact research has shown that on average, new funds launch about 6 months after the peak in their particular strategy compared to the broad index. This is not a coincidence – the product teams launching new funds usually take about 6 months to get them launched so when they decide to launch a fund it’s usually at exactly the point that the particular strategy is showing it’s best results compared to benchmarks. Unfortunately, outperformance tends to end soon after smart beta ETFs are launched.

Source: Research Affiliates

Conclusion

Smart beta ETFs give investors the ability to tilt their portfolios towards certain factors that active fund managers have used for years.

But if you’re considering investing in an smart beta ETF, it’s important to understand that you are actually taking bets on certain market factors beating others. You should be comfortable with what those factor bets are, and why you’re taking them.

If you don’t understand the bets you’re taking and the only reason you’re investing in smart beta is backtesting or recent performance, then what you’re buying into isn’t smart beta as much as it’s smart marketing, and that’s not smart investing.

As any card player will tell you, reshuffling the deck won’t give you better odds of success.

Chris Brycki is the CEO and founder of Stockspot.

A lesson in unity from an Islamic school

It’s just like any other Australian school, but with some noticeable differences.

杭州桑拿

The students are Muslim, a majority of the staff are Muslim, religious studies and prayer are crucial. The curriculum, like everyone there, is also Australian.

I’m at Al Amanah College, an Islamic school in Sydney’s south-west. I have been granted exclusive access as part of my work with SBS to see how the 650 pupil-strong campus – one of four in Sydney and Melbourne – is responding to recent terror events and escalating racial divides.

And so here I am, resigned to the last remaining desk at the back of a classroom, hastily scribbling notes as I sit in on a lesson which is addressing those exceedingly important issues.

I raise my head midway through the latest point I’ve jotted down and notice something peculiar. I’m the only one trying to keep up.

I scan the room from left to right: two dozen Year 11 and 12 students, an even mix of boys and girls, are listening intently, but focused on their messenger. No notes, no need. Most are nodding their heads. They’ve heard all this before.

But they are not bothered, rather the opposite. It’s a welcoming look on the faces I can see; almost as if the students have asked to hear the lecture again.

I put my pen down, a difficult task for me while I’m on a story, and now turn my complete attention to our teacher. He is a young man, dressed in a long navy robe and a traditional Islamic cap. His beard is very thick.

This man is the religious studies teacher, and he’s denouncing extremism to a group of young Muslims.

“We live in Australia as Muslims, we are not allowed to harm one another. We are to love each other, Muslim and non-Muslim alike,” he tells the room as he stands next to a slide from his presentation.

He then does something which takes me even further by surprise: he smiles.

An extremely strong yet positive message, from a man some Australians may have judged without bothering to speak to.

“Ignorance leads to a person being vulnerable, then he is obviously easily deceived, and this will obviously explain what happened in Parramatta,” he continues.

It becomes quickly apparent that this one classroom is inadvertently breaking stereotypes and multiple misconceptions left, right and centre.

It’s been a long and testing year for Muslim and non-Muslim Australians.

From the fatal shooting of a NSW Police employee by a 15 year old radicalised boy, to the tragic events in Paris, tensions are at an all time high.

Questions are being raised by certain factions of the Australian community. Among those, the most striking include “do Muslims belong here?” and “how can we trust them?”

Some local Islamic community leaders are in many ways failing to quell these small-minded ideologies. Others are quietly succeeding, but they are being drowned out by the much-publicised failures.

Al Amanah College, for example, initiated a programme more than 12 months ago to teach its students that being Australian and being a Muslim are inextricably linked.

Sessions where the principles of Islam are dissected, like the one I just sat in on, run two to three times a week. That’s all years, K-12.

“Being Muslims in Australia, we are Australians and we work for a big cause; to make sure that we are living in harmony with everybody,” Principal Ayman Alman explains. “We are all Australians.”

The programmes are also run to give students a chance to ask questions about their faith and, in light of recent terror acts, a chance to distance themselves from the so-called ‘Islamist Groups’.

Year 12 student Sibal Chams says the discussions don’t just happen during those classes, but any time a young mind is feeling distressed.

“Our teachers, we bombarded them with questions. We asked them questions like, ‘you know who are these people doing this?’, ‘what are the motives behind why they’re doing it?’; and ‘how do they justify it?’” she explains.

“It helps because when you talk about it more, when you express the situations happening, more people are being aware in order to stay away from these devious groups,” adds fellow classmate Hussam El Dana.

“That way we can protect the ones we love and the Australian community,” agrees Ms Chams.

As I walk around the playground while my cameraman Ben shoots some lunchtime overlay, much to the delight of the children, I begin to think of all the anti-Islamic comments I’ve heard in the past. One in particular stood out: “Muslims in this country don’t even sing our national anthem”, a statement most often declared in a manner which offered no chance for one to clarify with the truth.

“Question”, I ask Principal Alman as I turn in his direction. “Does the school sing the national anthem?”

The Principal furrows his eyes like I’ve asked an absurdly obvious question. “Of course, we sing it at the start of every assembly. Would you like to film it?”

Standing on the flanks of that school hall, watching 350 young Australian Muslims sing ‘Advance Australia Fair’ in their various vocal capabilities, was a uniquely humbling experience.

What is common practice for these kids – like any other school nationwide – could prove to be the greatest reminder yet that we are all in this together. Regardless of race, religion, or misconception.

As I’ve been repeatedly told today, we are all Australians. Unity, ultimately, is the most important lesson for us all.

Omar Dabbagh is a reporter for SBS World News. Watch his report on Al Amanah College here.

Liberals open to Macfarlane return

Senior Liberal figures say they will welcome Ian Macfarlane back to the fold after his failed bid to join the Nationals.

杭州桑拿

But his would-be Nationals colleagues are still agitating for another seat in Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet.

Mr Macfarlane’s future in politics is uncertain after the Liberal-National Party state executive quashed the Queensland MP’s attempt to switch party rooms.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan says the junior coalition partner deserved a fourth cabinet spot after an “oversight” in the ministerial reshuffle following Malcolm Turnbull’s elevation to Liberal leader.

“I certainly expect that oversight to be rectified,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Mr Macfarlane’s plan to join the Nationals was a way to improve representation of rural Australia which wasn’t reflected in cabinet, he said.

“Representation in cabinet right now from rural and regional Australia is barely a facade with only three members of the cabinet (living) outside capital cities.”

Nationals deputy leader Barnaby Joyce said allowing Mr Macfarlane to switch camps should have been a formality after the MP received strong support from LNP members in his Toowoomba-based seat of Groom.

“Why would you vote against Queensland getting better representation?” he said of the state executive’s decision.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said “of course” he would welcome Mr Macfarlane back to the Liberal party room if the MP decides to stay on after the Christmas break.

“Ian Macfarlane has been a very significant contributor to the Liberal Party over many years,” he told ABC TV.

Senator Cormann said the former minister was understandably disappointed to no longer be in cabinet.

Liberal Scott Ryan echoed the remarks of his ministerial colleague, saying in the spirit of Christmas the party would be welcome his return.

“Occasionally you might have an argument over Christmas with a relative but the following Christmas we always welcome them back with open arms,” he told Sky News.

Labor’s Matt Thistlethwaite said Mr Macfarlane’s attempted defection was symbolic of the “simmering tensions” in the coalition.

Coalition backbencher Ewen Jones said it was unclear how the Liberal party room would respond to Mr Macfarlane’s return.

“He could walk in there and could be treated as this was a brain explosion, and he can move on and rebuild,” Mr Jones told ABC radio.

“Or he could be treated with the same sort of respect and admiration as (previous LNP defector) Peter Slipper.”

SunRice lifts first-half profit

A focus away from sales of bulk rice to more profitable branded rice into premium markets has helped boost the half-year profit of global rice trader SunRice.

杭州桑拿

SunRice’s first-half revenue and profit rose despite a smaller rice crop in NSW’s Riverina region in 2015 as well as adverse foreign exchange movements and weaker economic conditions in some markets.

SunRice also says it is developing contingency plans in the Riverina in expectation of a significantly reduced crop in 2016, largely due to the current availability and pricing of water.

SunRice’s net profit attributable to members for the six months to October 31 rose 12.5 per cent to $21.9 million.

SunRice did not declare a dividend.

“This half-year profit result was underpinned by the continued growth of branded sales and operational improvements,” SunRice chief executive Rob Gordon said on Tuesday.

“We continue to actively execute our stated strategy to focus on premium branded markets and to build capacity and capability across the organisation.”

SunRice expects its profit for the full 2016 financial year to be in line with the 2015 results.

SunRice said revenue generated by its rice pool business was lower compared to a year earlier as volumes were affected by a smaller crop. The rice pool business mills and markets rice from the Riverina.

The international rice business, which markets and distributes rice from outside of the Riverina region, suffered a fall in profit because of unfavourable exchange rate movements and weaker economic conditions in some markets, including Papua New Guinea.

The rice food segment, which makes and distributes products such as rice cakes, rice flour and rice chips, was also impacted by negative currency movements and had to import additional product.

The Riviana Foods business, which makes and sells consumer food products to intermediaries, improved its profit as it axed some product ranges and cut costs.

Meanwhile SunRice expects to release details of a capital restructure to shareholders in February 2016, ahead of a shareholder vote on March 16.

SunRice has two classes of shares: A-class voting shares, which are held by active rice growers; and B-class non-voting shares, which are held by active and former rice growers, and employees.

SunRice is proposing to list a separate entity called the SunRice Fund on the Australian Securities Exchange – similar to dairy producers Murray Goulburn Co-operative and Fonterra.

Study gives surgery nod in prostate care

Prostate cancer patients are more likely to survive if they undergo surgery rather than radiation, a study found.

杭州桑拿

The research, which has been published in the peer-reviewed journal European Urology, constituted the “most robust” analysis to date comparing surgery and radiotherapy outcomes for localised prostate cancer patients.

Author Dr Robert Nam, of the University of Toronto’s Sunnybrook Research Institute, said: “In general, surgery results in better mortality rates than radiotherapy.”

He added: “Nevertheless, there are times when radiotherapy may be more appropriate than surgery, so it is important that a patient discusses treatment options with his clinician.”

In the past, comparisons of success rates were confusing due to their methods, Dr Nam said.

The new research consisted of a meta-analysis, or “study of studies”, of 19 studies and over 118,000 patients who underwent either form of treatment.

Researchers found patients treated with radiation were twice as likely to die as those who had surgery. This conclusion was reached after comparing 15 studies.

Chairman of the European Association of Urology Prostate Guideline Panel, Dr Nicholas Mottet, said the research deserved attention because it was based on the best available data.

But he also warned: “Definitive proof needs a large well-conducted randomised control trial, such as the upcoming PROTECT trial which is due to report next year.

“So we certainly need to take this analysis into account, but it doesn’t yet give us a definitive answer as to the best treatment.

“Although this paper should not change clinical practice, I agree with the authors, this analysis gives us important, additional information”.

Localised prostate cancer accounts for 80% of prostate cancers. About 400,000 men are diagnosed with it every year in Europe.

Vic teen fights to save baby deer Rudolph

With just 10 sleeps until Christmas a Victorian teenager is fighting to save Rudolph – an orphaned baby deer government authorities plan to kill.

杭州桑拿

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources won a court order on Friday at Seymour Magistrates’ Court to kill Rudolph, believing the fawn could pose a danger to public safety.

Andrew Foots, 19, from Mansfield, has hired lawyers to appeal the decision and wants Rudolph given a new home at a wildlife park.

He found and rescued the malnourished and distressed fawn in bushland near Mansfield.

He was only planning to keep it until alternative arrangements could be found, and took it to a vet to have it checked and to get advice on how to care for it.

But several days later, the department and police came and took Rudolph away.

An appeal date is set for February 18 at Shepparton County Court.

In the meantime, Mr Foots’ lawyer says it is a waste of taxpayers money to hold the fawn at the department when several wildlife parks would take Rudolph.

“It’s really a case of the department being prepared to spend taxpayers’ money killing a deer when there was a much better and non-lethal option available,” Phoenix Legal Solutions’ Daniel Beecher told AAP on Tuesday.

Mr Foots’ Facebook page has pictures of him posing with dead deer after hunting expeditions.

His lawyer says the photos are old and his client no longer owns a weapon or kills deer.

“Just because you shoot animals doesn’t mean that you are going to be unkind all animals that need assistance,” Mr Beecher told AAP.

The department will not comment while the case is before the courts.

Presidents, prime ministers may age faster

Leading a country comes with extraordinary privileges but also, apparently, a price: new research suggests heads of state age faster, the stress of the job shaving maybe three years off their life expectancy.

杭州桑拿

Doctors have analysed how long presidents and prime ministers in 17 countries – including Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the US – survived after leaving office, compared to the losing candidates.

They also observed the number of years heads of state lived versus what was expected for someone of the same age and gender.

After considering the fates of 279 heads of state and 261 runner-ups, they concluded former leaders lived almost three fewer years than expected.

The study was published online on Monday in the medical journal, The BMJ.

“To lose a few years is significant,” said senior author, Harvard Medical School’s Dr Anupam Jena.

“(Leaders) probably felt national priorities were much more pressing than eating right and exercising,” he said, saying former US President Bill Clinton’s admitted weakness for fast food may have resulted in “stress eating”.

“Maybe if there had been world peace, his lifestyle would have been different,” Jena said.

After leaving office, Clinton had bypass surgery; he subsequently said he lost weight and became vegan to try to reverse his heart disease.

Other researchers have found US presidents actually live longer than their constituents.

“The stress (of leading a country) could accelerate the greying of hair and wrinkling of skin but that doesn’t mean they’ll die earlier,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

His research on former commanders in chief found they had a longer-than-expected life expectancy, partly because they are from the top one per cent of the population who are highly educated, wealthy and have better access to health care than most.

New Zealand pace duo rested, Nicholls gets call-up

Canterbury lefthander Nicholls was included in the 14-man squad for the first three ODIs after impressing coach Mike Hesson and fellow selector Gavin Larsen with his performances over the last 12 months.

杭州桑拿

The 24-year-old, who was the second top run-scorer in last season’s domestic one-day competition, topped the averages (75.66) and scored an unbeaten 144 in the unofficial ‘test’ between New Zealand and Sri Lanka ‘A’ sides in October.

Nicholls continued that strong form in the domestic Twenty20 competition and looks set to reap his rewards with an ODI debut at his home ground of Hagley Oval.

“Henry has earned his spot after consistent performances over the last 12 months and during the New Zealand A campaign, he was exceptional across all forms,” Hesson told reporters.

“He is a player who has got class and he’s a player we want exposed to the international scene sooner rather than later so we’re excited to see how he goes.”

Hesson said opening bowlers Boult and Southee, who formed a deadly tandem during the World Cup earlier this year as New Zealand made their first final, would be rested.

Boult will miss the first three games in Christchurch on Dec. 26 and 28 and in Nelson on Dec. 31. Southee will be available for the Nelson game, with Matt Henry selected for the first two games.

“Both Trent and Tim by the time we get to the next test would have played five tests in a row,” Hesson said.

“It’s a long season and we need some fresh legs steaming in at the first ODI.”

Injured all-rounders Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham and Grant Elliott were not considered for selection.

Elliott, who broke his arm in a domestic match, could be back playing during the Christmas period, Hesson said.

Anderson and Neesham have been struggling with back injuries and their bowling has been limited, he added.

“Corey is starting to increase his loads (and) it is likely he could be considered for the T20 as a batsman,” Hesson said.

“We are hopeful by the back end of the season he will play a role with the ball. In terms of James, he’s a long way off from bowling at the moment but it’s nice to see him back playing cricket again.”

The final two games of the series are on Jan. 2 in Nelson and Jan. 5 in Mount Maunganui before Sri Lanka end their tour with two Twenty20 internationals.

“At home we’ve been hard to beat so I think winning the one-day series is an expectation we should have of ourselves,” Hesson added.

“We know Sri Lanka have got some talented batsmen and some pretty wily campaigners with the ball but we certainly rate our own skills in New Zealand conditions.”

Squad: Brendon McCullum (captain), Doug Bracewell, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry (first two matches), Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, George Worker, Tim Southee (third match only).

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury, Editing by Ian Ransom)