Dr Tim Soutphommasane Race Discrimination Commissioner addressed the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday 7 July 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThe Singaporean investors behind alleged medicinal cannabis stock, Stem Cell United, have finally announced how they will reward the man – King of Cannabis, Nevil Schoenmakers – who has given the stock one hell of a high since it announced his appointment as a strategic adviser.
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It is giving him 10 million shares, with escrow arrangements stretching from 90 days to 12 months, plus a $5,000 per month advisory fee.

The stock will give Schoenmakers a four per cent stake in the company.

But given the gyrations over the last week following the company’s announcement that it is hoping to enter the medicinal cannabis market – with Schoenmakers to guide them – what his stock would be worth a year from now is anybody’s guess.

The day before the announcement, his 10 million shares would have been worth $130,000. 40 hours later those shares would have peaked in value at $10.85 million.

The stock had another big fall on Monday, but Schoenmakers’ stake is still clinging to the million-plus mark. It could be a long, long year. No discrimination

CBD assumes Commonwealth bank boss Ian Narev will not be straying from the script when he hosts the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, on Tuesday for the launch of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity.

It will help celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“The Council is an initiative that brings business leaders together to advocate for cultural diversity at senior levels,” says the blurb from Soutphommasane’s office.

Yes, like how about a few more Aussies running one of our Big Four banks for starters given Narev is one of two Kiwis who have claimed the top job in our biggest financial institutions.

But CBD could not help but note that Narev will be on a panel with openly gay author and journalist Benjamin Law.

What are the chances of Law posing a cheeky question on same sex marriage just to see if Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is listening in for any more bullying by our CEOs on this issue.

Even better, Law could ask fellow panelist and ABC boss, Michelle Guthrie, what her views are on this issue. That should go down well with the Libs. Off switch

It has been a bad start to the year for the female board members of our commercial TV operators.

No less than four women have left the boardrooms of the public companies which own Seven, Nine and Ten, starting with Sheila McGregor’s controversial exit from Seven West Media last month.

Nine Entertainment chairman Peter Costello has redressed the balance a little by appointing former Deloitte partner, Sam Lewis, to its modest board which will now have two women. Nine lost two female directors, Holly Kramer and Elizabeth Gaines to other commitments.

The Ten and Seven West boards are down to one woman each after recent resignations, with Siobhan McKenna leaving Ten last week for a full time role at Rupert Murdoch’s Foxtel.

And we still haven’t heard from McGregor who is keeping a very low profile after resigning just before Seven West announced the results of an investigation which cleared its CEO, Tim Worner, of wrongdoing over an affair with office staffer, Amber Harrison. AMPed up

What do you pay the man who presided over its first financial year loss at AMP since Saddam Hussein was running Iraq?

On the surface, it does not look like AMP chief, Craig Meller, has taken much of a hit. His full year remuneration of $4.8 million, is not far short of last year’s $5.28 million.

But the devil is always in the detail – like how much is he pocketing now and how much is still “at risk’ as they like to say.

Meller took home close to $3 million in salary and cash bonuses in 2015, compared with a $1.8 million last year.

What kept his remuneration at respectable levels last year were his share based payments which hit $2.8 million.

The good news is, these performance rights could be worth even more if the company is performing really, really well.

Boy would that be a surprise to its investors.

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The Federal ALP, Greens and Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie will introduce a Bill on Tuesday to invalidate the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers.
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The bill aims to protect Sunday and public holiday penalty rates at their present levels and is identical to one Opposition Leader Bill Shorten introduced into the lower house of the Federal Parliament on Monday.

The bill will be introduced in the Senate on Tuesday and is expected to be debated this week. Although it is unlikely to pass through the lower house where the Coalition has the numbers, it is designed to draw out crossbenchers Nick Xenophon, Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch and test their positions on cuts to penalty rates.

Opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Labor was giving the crossbench, including One Nation, Nick Xenophon and Derryn Hinch, “a chance to put up or shut up”.

“We know that the Turnbull government supports the devastating cuts to penalty rates but by introducing our bill to protect penalty rates in the Senate, we will also know where the crossbench sits,” he said.

“Senators Hanson, Xenophon and Hinch can’t say they support penalty rates when they’re in their electorates and not vote to protect them in Canberra.”

Greens workplace relations spokesman Adam Bandt said after “leading the charge to protect penalty rates in law, the Greens have reached agreement with the Labor Party on a bill that will stop the Fair Work Commission’s decision from coming into effect”.

“Now it’s time for Nick Xenophon, Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch to decide whether they stand for protecting wages or cutting them,” he said.

“If the conservative crossbenchers have the guts to vote with us, this bill could pass the Senate this week and the government would be under huge pressure to pass it through the house before the cuts come into effect.”

The Fair Work Commission has decided to reduce Sunday penalty rates for full-time and part-time workers in retail from 200 per cent to 150 per cent of their standard hourly rate, while casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.

Hospitality employees will face a reduction in Sunday pay from 175 per cent to 150 per cent, while casual hospitality workers’ pay will remain unchanged.

Fast-food employees’ Sunday rates will go from 150 per cent to 125 per cent for full-time and part-time staff, and casuals will go from 200 per cent to 175 per cent.

Holiday penalty rates for full-time and part-time employees in hospitality and retail will also be slashed from 250 per cent, or “double time and a half”, to 225 per cent.

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Community resistance affecting supply of affordable housing, experts sayIf you’re serious about affordable Sydney housing, Premier, here’s a must-do listA housing affordability crisis in regional Australia? Yes, and here’s why
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When you think of affordable housing tenants Sydneysider Alice Anderson probably isn’t the type of person that springs to mind.

While the 27-year-old works five days a week, her moderate income means she’s one of a growing number of Sydneysiders struggling to afford to rent in the area she grew up in and works.

“People assume you have to be on welfare [to be in affordable housing],” she said. “One of the biggest misconceptions about it is that nobody works, everyone’s lazy.”

“Sydney is expensive, and with rents rising above incomes it means it’s becoming harder to comfortably live in the city you’re working in,” she added.

While Alice welcomes proposals to increase the supply of affordable housing, she thinks more needs to be done to educate people on what affordable housing actually is.

Often confused with social housing, affordable housing is built for very low to moderate income households and priced so they are able to meet other basic living costs. While affordable housing tenants do not have to be eligible for social housing, people who are eligible for social housing may also be able to qualify for affordable housing.

If it wasn’t for her Everleigh studio apartment at City West Housing’sPlatform Apartments – where rents are capped at a maximum of 30 per cent of a household’s income – Alice believes she’d struggle to get by and would have had to move away from the friendship groups and services she grew up with.

“When I moved in two years ago I was on about $40,000 annually, now I’m almost on $55,000,” said Alice who currently pays about $284 rent a week.

“My rent has increased since then as my wages have gone up. There will probably come a point where I’ll be earning too much and will have to move out, but this has given me a good chance to save.”

An affordable housing tenant living alone can currently earn a maximum gross annual income of $59,900, according to the Centre for Affordable Housing’s eligibility guidelines.

With the maximum income for a household increasing by $30,000 for every additional adult and $18,000 for every additional child, a couple with four children could still be considered as moderate earners with a combined income of $161,900.

City West Housing tenancy services manager Christina Hough said a diverse range of tenants and household types lived in the housing provider’s 731 affordable homes, which house more than 1400 people, including key workers like nurses, teachers and emergency service personnel.

She said the widening gap between the eligibility for social housing and the rising cost of the private rental market, meant there was huge demand for more affordable housing.

“We’ve got hundreds of people on our waitings lists, and we don’t even promote them,” she said, noting that with an estimated 60,000 people on the social housing waiting list at least 100,000 additional affordable housing properties were needed in NSW.

Andrea Galloway, chief executive officer of community housing provider Evolve Housing, said an estimated 44 per cent of NSW households were living in financial stress, and noted there was a huge shortage of affordable housing, particularly for single person households, which are forecast to significantly increase in the coming decades.

Of the 603 properties managed by Evolve Housing, 40 per cent are occupied by singles, 30 per cent by single parent families, 20 per cent by couples with children and just 10 per cent by couples without children.

She noted apart from giving low to moderate income workers the opportunity to find affordable accommodation close to where they worked and providing an opportunity for some households to save for a house deposit, affordable housing also provided a stepping stone for social housing tenants into the private rental market.

When Felicia Heggarty moved into one of Evolve Housing’s 170 studio apartments two years ago with her fiance Adrian Cooper, the pair had been sleeping rough for a year and a half while waiting for social housing.

Benefit payments initially enabled the couple to cover their below market rent for the studio but they upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment after securing work – Adrian as a full-time driver for a crane company and Felicia as a part time cleaner.

Earlier this month, the pair, who are expecting a child in May, were able to move back into the private rental market and are now renting a five-bedroom home in Penrith.

“When this lease ended we were no longer under the income bracket and wouldn’t have expected to stay in that place when it could be helping other people, so that they can one day have the ability like us to go out and rent properly.”

She said the couple’s time at Evolve enabled them to develop a rental history and use their income to save for a bond, buy white goods for a home and improve their qualifications.

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1. FBI confirms Russia investigation
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It has been an extraordinary few hours in Washington where FBI director James Comey has been giving what has been an, at times, gripping testimony to the congressional House Intelligence Committee.

Donald Trump spent his Monday morning tweeting extensively about “FAKE NEWS” pushed by the media and Democrats in relation to Russia, in anticipation of Monday’s hearing.

Comey’s confirmation that the FBI is investigating whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the US election was widely expected – but nevertheless still sensational. [Fairfax]

Comey also shot down Donald Trump’s claims, made via Twitter, that Obama “wire-tapped” him in the lead up to the vote. [Key moments/Politico]

And he said Russia used a “cut out” with WikiLeaks to dump hacked emails belonging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee. WikiLeaks suggested on Twitter it was “educating” rather than “interfering” by publishing documents related to Clinton. Did WikiLeaks ‘educate’ or ‘interfere’ with the 2016 US election by publishing Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches and other statements???? WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 20, 2017 Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe

It was also a big day in London with Downing Street confirming the date for the triggering of Article 50. Prime Minister Theresa May will start the formal break-up next Wednesday, setting up two years of formal negotiations about Britain’s exit from the European Union. [My report/Fairfax]

Prominent Remainer, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, was under pressure in the Commons over his decision to take up the editorship at the London newspaper The Evening Standard. [BBC]

Meanwhile in opposition ranks, the charismatic deputy Labour leader Tom Watson was today’s casualty of the battle for the party’s heart and soul. [Kate Proctor/The Independent]

As Labour’s civil war rages, the Tories today led the opposition by 19 points in the polls. 3. Aus politics

Cabinet has landed on what looks to be a viable option for reforming section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, striking out the offences of “insult” and “offend” but adding “harrass”. [Simon Benson and David Crowe/The Australian]

But will they pass the Senate crossbench? [James Massola/Fairfax]

New ACTU boss Sally McManus. Photo: ABC

The new leader of the ACTU, Sally McManus backed the campaign to boycott Israeli goods. [Brad Norington/The Australian]

McManus has backed down on the other inflammatory comment made during her ABC interview that construction company Grocon “killed workers.” [Ewin Hannan/The Australian]

McManus is creating serious headaches for the ALP, at a time when the Coalition is finding confidence to go on the front foot on industrial relations.

The defection of Cory Bernardi and behaviour of Tony Abbott has consolidated Turnbull’s position, writes the friend of the former PM, Catherine McGregor. [The Daily Telegraph] 4. Gina stuns rich list

Bill Gates is ranked the world’s richest man in Forbes 2017 Billionaires List for the fourth year in a row. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg moved up to fifth spot. [The World’s Billionaires]

In the context of the inequality debate, it’s worth noting that 2017 rated as the best for the rich with the number of billionaires jumping 13 per cent to 2,043 from 1,810 last year.

Forbes says it is the first time the magazine has pinned down more than 2,000 ten-figure-fortunes.

“Their total net worth rose by 18 per cent to $US7.67 trillion, also a record.” [LuisaKroll and Kerry A. Dolan]

Western Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart. Photo: Jim Rice

But it was Australian Gina Rinehart who was catapulted up the rankings. She was 127 in 2016 and position 69 in 2017, with her wealth almost doubling. [Jennifer Wang/Forbes] 5. French presidential debate

I really regret not keeping up with my French in high school. The five top presidential candidates face-off in a televised debate at 9pm local time. It’s likely to shape up as a showdown between the two frontrunners – the liberal Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen. [Nicholas Vinocur/Politico.eu] 6. Jesus tomb reopened

A restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where Jesus’ body was laid. Photo: Dusan Vranic

After months of restoration work, the tomb where Jesus was buried in Old Jerusalem is being reopened to the public. [Reuters]

And that’s it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

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RANCHI: They’ve been at the centre of arguments over the decision review system, a shoulder injury and now it’s India’s team physiotherapist caught in the crossfire in Steve Smith and Virat Kohli’s feud.
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In a peculiar twist to one of the strongest rivalries in world cricket, Kohli has accused the Australian captain of showing disrespect to Patrick Farhart.

???It follows the bitter dispute which erupted over Smith’s inappropriate use of DRS in Bangalore and the Australian captain being falsely accused of making light of Kohli’s shoulder injury.

After the storm which followed the second Test, the latest allegation is small fry but underlines how much each leader gets under the skin of the other.

It has emerged Kohli was unhappy the Australians made references to Farhart while the India skipper was at the crease and let Smith know as he made his way to the pavilion. Farhart and Kohli had been working closely to manage the star batsman’s shoulder injury which he suffered during the first day.

That Kohli would choose the moment straight after a cheap dismissal to argue with an opponent is puzzling.

“It is funny, all our guys ask about cricket and the first thing you ask is controversial. But it is ok,” Kohli said after the drawn third Test when asked about the issue by an Australian reporter.

“These things happen on the field. Four, five of them take Patrick’s name. I don’t know why. His job is to treat me. I did not find the reason behind it. I could not understand. You must ask him why they started taking his name.”

Smith said he was not showing disrespect to Farhart, who is close to several of the Australian players through his 19-year career as NSW’s physio. He also held the same role at the Sydney Sixers up until January 2015.

“I am a bit disappointed, I didn’t actually do anything,” Smith said.

“Virat was having a go at me out in the middle and saying how I was disrespecting Patrick Farhat when actually it was the exact opposite.

“If I was to do anything I think he did a pretty terrific job to get Virat back on the field after that shoulder injury.

“I think he’s a terrific physio and does a great job for their team.”

Despite what was at stake on the last day, tempers were largely kept in check apart from a dust up in the first session involving India fast bowler Ishant Sharma.

Sharma had been unhappy Matt Renshaw backed away from the crease when he well into his run up, prompting the bowler to bounce the ball through to the wicketkeeper.

???Smith said Renshaw had withdrawn after seeing Murali Vijay, who was fielding at mid-wicket, take steps to his left as Sharma was running in. Sharma had the last laugh in that battle by claiming Renshaw’s wicket later that over.

“So that put him off and he’s entitled to back away,” Smith said.

“I’m not sure what happened with Ishant, he obviously wasn’t overly happy but to be fair he bowled pretty well after that.

“Whatever it was made him a bit angry and he bowled pretty well the couple of overs after that.”

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