Master Builders appoints first woman CEO

One of Australia’s great male bastions, the building industry, has for the first time in its 127-year history chosen a woman to champion its cause as it sets about trying to attract more female workers.

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Master Builders Australia marked International Women’s Day by announcing that Denita Wawn as its new chief executive and voice for the 32,000 – mostly male – workers in the $200 million building and construction industry.

Ms Wawn, who has spent the past 14 months as the industry group’s operations manager, previously headed Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand and has held senior roles at the Australian Hotels Association and National Farmers’ Federation.

Her top priority is to work with employers, schools and universities to encourage more women into the building and construction industry, where just 10 per cent of the workforce is female.

“I would love to think in 10 years if we can get it up to at least 25 per cent that would be fantastic,” she told AAP on Wednesday.

“We hope with my appointment that people can see there’s a cultural shift in the industry and women are welcomed and embraced in the industry.”

Ms Wawn says employers need to be more proactive in trying to attract women to the industry by doing things like specifying in job ads that female applicants are welcome.

An even bigger challenge is helping girls understand the range of job opportunities, from architectural design roles through to being a brickie.

Ms Wawn said having more women workers in relatively highly-paid building and construction jobs could help narrow the general 16 per cent pay gap between men and women workers in Australia.

“I think if we doubled the number of women in the industry we would see higher pay rates simply because you are in an industry that has higher pay,” she said.

“We need to encourage women into higher paying industries and higher paying roles to close that salary discrepancy.”

Having spent much of her career in male-dominated industries, Ms Wawn’s message to young women is to be yourself and not try to be “one of the boys”.

“I think that it’s important when working in male dominated areas that you work hard, you call a spade a spade but equally you be true to yourself,” she said.

Magpies too strong for T-Birds in netball

Magpies shooter Caitlin Thwaites shot a near perfect game to lead her side to a clinical 64-45 thumping of Adelaide Thunderbirds at Hisense Arena in Melbourne on Sunday.

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Thwaites netted 46 goals from 47 attempts at 98 per cent accuracy, dropping just one goal in the third quarter.

She was ably assisted by Cody Lange (10/22), who was unafraid to go for the long shots as she continued her return from an ACL injury.

Young gun Alice Teague-Neeld chimed in late in the match with eight from 12 attempts.

Thwaites light-heartedly lamented her only missed shot as a lapse in concentration.

“I think it was just a little brain fade, I think it might have been an air ball too,” she said.

Her haul against the Thunderbirds is only shadowed by her round one performance where she cooly slotted 47 from 48 against the Vixens, a match which they lost.

“We’re trying to grow all of our connections on the court … so if you’re having a good game (personally), and you’re still losing (on the score board) then it’s not a good game for me,” she said.

Thwaites said her side is showing the right signs ahead of their trip to play the Sunshine Coast Lightning next week, but there was still some room for improvement.

“We’re always trying to fine tune and when we get put under pressure hopefully that will be when we stand up,” she said.

The match opened quickly and evenly pace before the home side broke loose to score a run of five goals to head to the break with a 17-10 lead.

That advantage was extended to an unassailable 15-goals in the second period where Thwaites went to the break with 26 goals from as many attempts.

With five current Diamonds in their side, the Magpies made the Thunderbirds work for each and every pass, especially through the midcourt and around the circle.

Matching up against Jane Cook, the tallest player in the league at 201cm, was no problem for Magpies star defender Sharni Layton who had a game high eight intercepts and 11 deflections.

Thunderbirds shooters Jane Cook (8/9), Erin Bell (8/12), rookie Sasha Glasgow (19/23) and Karyn Bailey (10/12) all had game time as the visitors searched for an effective combination against torrid defence.

The win sees the Magpies (two wins, two losses) leapfrog the Swifts into fifth place on the ladder while the Thunderbirds stay in 7th (one win, three losses).

Next week, Magpies travel to play the Sunshine Coast Lightning while the Thunderbirds will play the unbeaten Giants in Sydney.

Politics risk to modest global growth:OECD

Political uncertainty in many countries risks hampering a modest global economic expansion this year and next, the OECD warns.

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In an update of its economic outlook released in November, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is sticking with a forecast of 3.3 per cent growth in 2017 and 3.6 per cent in 2018.

That follows global growth of three per cent last year.

The organisation says in the report released in Paris on Tuesday while confidence has improved, consumption, investment, trade and productivity are “far from strong”.

At the same time, many countries have new governments, face elections this year or rely on coalition or minority governments.

“Falling trust in national governments and lower confidence by voters in the political systems of many countries can make it more difficult for governments to pursue and sustain the policy agenda required to achieve strong and inclusive growth,” the OECD said.

“These tensions lead to less predictable outcomes, including on progress in implementing policy reforms.”

The report provides no fresh forecast for Australia after releasing a separate report on the nation last week where it said while the country has proved very resilient to a variety of negative events, it did warn of the potential danger from ballooning house prices.

The Paris-based institution reiterated the warning on Tuesday, not just for Australia, but also for Canada, Sweden and the UK, which have all endured a similar housing experience.

“As past experience has shown, a rapid rise of house prices can be a precursor of an economic downturn,” it says.

Ticket resale websites a rip off: Choice

Ticket resale websites which engage in dodgy pricing and allow tickets to be sold at inflated prices need to “clean up their act”, according to Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group.

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Choice has lodged a complaint with the ACCC, naming websites Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale as leading offenders.

The sites allow fans to resell unwanted tickets for music and sports events but many are listed at highly inflated prices.

“People have a right to onsell concert tickets but we’ve found these websites can be quite problematic,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

A VIP ticket to next week’s Justin Bieber concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane has been listed on Ticketmaster Resale for more than $2000 above its original price, Mr Godfrey says.

Fans looking to get a ticket for Midnight Oil’s reunion tour were left angry when hundreds of pre-sale tickets were sold within seconds, only to later re-appear on reselling websites.

Mr Godfrey said Viagogo also “dripped in” additional costs during the checkout process.

Tickets for The Avalanches Sydney gig earlier this year had $52 worth of handling, booking and VAT fees attached.

“What we need to get these websites to clean up their act,” Mr Godfrey said.

Anti-scalping legislation varies from state-to-state, carrying a range of fines.

Scalpers can cop a maximum $5000 fine in South Australia, while in Queensland the buyer can also be fined up to $609.

In NSW, scalping is banned but only around the Sydney Cricket Ground, Allianz Stadium and Sydney Olympic Park precinct.

Resold tickets cannot be sold at more than face value in Victoria but only for signified “major” sporting events.

Mr Godfrey says resold tickets aren’t always accepted by venues and can be cancelled without the buyer’s knowledge.

“We want people to be aware of the limitations of these websites. The worse case scenario is you pay an extreme price for a ticket and then get locked out at the door,” he said.

The terms and conditions on Ticketmaster Resales’ website says it is the responsibility of the seller to “comply with any legal restrictions placed on the resale of tickets”.

A statement from Ticketmaster Australasia, which owns TIcketmaster Resale, said the company operates a safe and secure marketplace and is continually reviewing its practises and platforms.

Switzerland-based Viagogo has been contacted for comment.

Punishment of rights lawyers top 2016 achievement: China

Activists and lawyers are a constant thorn in the side of Beijing and are often accused of being in cahoots with foreign organisations trying to undermine national security and stir up opposition to the government.

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In an annual report to China’s rubber-stamp parliament, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang said the “severe punishment of the crime of endangering state security” committed by rights defenders was a key achievement in 2016.

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It ranked as the leading item in a list of measures taken last year to “safeguard human rights” in China. 

Among the rights defenders punished and singled out for mention in the report was prominent lawyer Zhou Shifeng, who in August was sentenced to seven years in prison for “subversion”. 

His Fengrui law firm was known for taking on cases considered sensitive by the ruling Communist Party, such as those of dissident scholars, victims of sexual abuse and members of banned religious groups. 

The number of corruption cases tried in China’s courts last year rose by about a third from 2015, chief justice Zhou said, vowing the country would maintain the momentum of President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.

Xi has presided over a much-publicised crackdown on rampant government corruption since coming to power in 2012, with more than one million officials punished in what some compare to a political purge.

In 2016, Chinese courts heard 45,000 graft cases involving 63,000 people, up from 34,000 cases in 2015. 

For overall hearings, the Supreme People’s Court heard nearly 23,000 cases and local courts heard some 23 million last year, with only 1,076 defendants found not guilty, according to data cited by Zhou. 

Chinese courts have a conviction rate of 99.92 percent.

China reported a jump in the number of corruption cases tried in its courts.AAP