News story: Report outlines depth of UK-Australia investment relationship

first_imgThe Australia-UK trading relationship has also gone from strength to strength in recent years, increasing almost 10 per cent since 2012 to reach £14.9 billion in 2017.Recent major investment successes include BAE Systems, who have been awarded Australia’s ‘SEA 5000’ Future Frigate contract. The agreement is worth up to £20 billion, and will see nine new ships built in Adelaide, creating 4,000 jobs across Australia and boosting the economies of both countries.In the other direction, Australian direct investment in the UK grew 19% in the 7 years to 2017, to £47 billion, making the UK Australia’s second largest FDI destination.The UK and Australia established a Trade Working Group in September 2016 to explore the best ways of further progressing our trade and investment relationship.Background informationThe report has been produced jointly between the British High Commission, Canberra and the UK’s Department for International Trade, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), and the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce.The 18 companies profiled are: TransferWise (UK), AustralianSuper (AU), AstraZeneca (UK), CSL (AU), BT Group (UK), Airtasker (AU), George Weston Foods (UK), Hilton Food Group plc (UK), Nufarm (AU), Foresight Group (UK), Blue Ocean Monitoring (AU), Merlin Entertainment (UK), Firefly Learning (UK), Babcock International (UK), BAE Systems (UK), GFG Alliance (UK), Lendlease (AU) and Aberdeen Standard Investments (UK).The report focuses on opportunities in the following sectors: financial services and capital markets, innovation and R&D, services and technology, agribusiness and food, resources and energy, tourism and education, advanced manufacturing and defence, major infrastructure.Statistics on trade and investment figures provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.Minister Ciobo will be meeting UK International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox today. The report, Strong ties, growing stronger : Australia – United Kingdom investment relationship comes ahead of a meeting between UK International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, and Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP, this afternoon which will focus on opportunities for deepening the bilateral relationship.The report profiles the success stories of 18 UK and Australian firms – from startups to international conglomerates – which contributed to total two-way investment of £459 billion.Companies such as AstraZeneca, AustralianSuper and TransferWise have ploughed investment into both countries, across sectors as diverse as financial services, agribusiness, education and health, creating many thousands of jobs and economic growth.Launching the report alongside Mr Ciobo today, Minister for Investment, Graham Stuart, said: This report highlights once again the sheer scale of investment opportunities that exist between the UK andAustralia. Investment from Australia and New Zealand was the source of 95 new projects last year, creating almost 2,500 British jobs. Our international economic department is determined to help UK and Australian businesses take fulladvantage of these opportunities, with our range of export and investment support including our new HM Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific, Natalie Black. Across diverse industries ranging from defence to education, technology and infrastructure, Australia and the UK continue to invest in ways that increase prosperity and create jobs in both countries. Both countries offer large, open and flexible economies as well as an ideal location from which to access other regional opportunities, be it in Europe or Asia. Steven Ciobo, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment said:last_img read more

News story: £2 million investment to help NHS achieve zero inpatient suicide ambition

first_imgThe Prime Minister has announced £2 million in funding for the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) over the next 2 years. The funding will help to reduce suicides across the NHS, with the aim of achieving zero inpatient suicides.It will be used to develop tools for the NHS and public and private partners. The tools will focus on: The ZSA will also develop their digital suicide prevention resource, capturing best practice and learning from across the UK and abroad, and explore the use of analytics to predict suicide risk.This funding is in addition to the £25 million in suicide prevention funding first announced in 2016. As part of that investment, NHS England is working with mental health trusts to implement zero suicide policies for inpatients and improve safety on wards.Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: Today’s announcement of government backing for the ZSA is fantastic news for every person who has ever struggled with suicidal thoughts and everyone left behind by someone who has taken their own life. The ZSA believe just one life lost is one too many. The ZSA is already acting as a catalyst and focal point for a broad range of suicide prevention activity across the widest possible group of mutually supportive NHS and partner organisations in this country. As part of this work, the Alliance training, which we developed here at Mersey Care, has now been taken by thousands of people with each one of them now becoming equipped to engage with those at risk. Moving forward, this funding will enable us to broaden our reach to include a range of options to ensure that NHS response to suicide is the very best it can be wherever you are when the need arises. training to prevent suicides improving safety ensuring lessons are learnt when suicides occurcenter_img Joe Rafferty, Chief Executive of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and one of the founder members of the Zero Suicide Alliance, said: Every suicide is a preventable death and there’s so much more we can do to reduce the number of people lost to it. The Zero Suicide Alliance’s new training and awareness tools will help health and care staff recognise the signs and step in before it’s too late, as well ensuring openness and transparency when suicides do occur. On World Mental Health Day, this funding is a vital step forward to help further reduce inpatient suicide and underlines our commitment to bring down the number of suicides everywhere.last_img read more

Speech: I believe in the power of technology to make lives better

first_imgAnd the thing is, the premise of these accusations is true. We do need more doctors, and the technology isn’t perfect.But the response, to both of these challenges, is to make the technology better, not to reject it altogether, in a spirit of rational enquiry and scientific progress.The Spectator is part of a fine, enlightenment, intellectual tradition that has promoted this way of thinking for centuries.This is what the Spectator had to say in 1871, in a scathing piece attacking Gladstone’s government for dismissing vaccination rather than encouraging it: Quite right.Progress, by its nature, is never perfect. It’s piecemeal, it’s hard fought, it’s not the easy promises of populism. The NHS didn’t happen overnight with a click of the fingers to meet every need and fulfil every expectation – as some people would have you believe.It took years of painstaking preparations, tortuous negotiations, work to drive it forward in government, first by Conservative and then Labour ministers.Progress means we keep going, never settling, always aiming higher, always trying to make things better.Diagnose, test, solve, repeat.Testing hypothesis against objective fact, with an optimistic yet sceptical mind.We should look to the great Canadian ice skater Wayne Gretzky for inspiration on this, because the secret of Gretzy’s success was not going to where the puck is, but “where the puck is going”.And it’s this spirit of continuous improvement I believe we need in the NHS today.The NHS has always been at its best when it’s looked to the future and embraced new technology.Because of the decisions this Conservative government has taken – £34 billion extra a year, the longest and largest cash settlement in its history – the NHS can plan for the future with the confidence, and technology, that it needs.So what’s 2030 going to look like?Well, it’s probably not going to be flying cars and hoverboards – though after last week, who am I to predict the future?But I think we can be pretty certain that the digital revolution that has transformed the way we shop, eat, bank, travel, read, watch, and even find love, is going to have arrived in our hospitals and GP surgeries.Robotic surgery that’s less invasive, faster and with fewer errors.There’s the game-changing potential of AI and genomics to predict which of us are susceptible to which illnesses, diagnose those already ill faster, and develop tailor-made treatments to get us back to health.But it’s not just about this cutting-edge technology. It’s about getting the basics right.You can file for divorce online – and a depressing 13 did on Christmas Day – yet not everywhere can you book a GP online.Even using existing technology we can do so much more: Now, some may argue that we need to hold back this tide. That we should resist and fight back.There’s even a modern-day King Canute in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, who wants to tax robots.And I understand the impulses behind this view. It even turns out one of my ancestors was a leading, loom-smashing Luddite.Yet, history has shown us time and again, it’s better to shape change than to fight it.It’s better to be in favour of the future than live in fear of it.And when I am out in hospitals and talking to NHS teams across the country, I also know that people – patients and staff – are enthusiastic to embrace technology.They increasingly expect it to be there.Technology is across all other parts of their lives.They want to know why their mother can’t get the best cancer treatment.They want to know why their child has to wait longer to be diagnosed.Why does their GP need to wait for a letter in the post from their specialist when every other part of their life is managed online?So this is how we’re going to do it: there’s 3 parts to this approach:First: prediction prevention.We’re going to use technology to help us identify those of us who are at higher risk of developing a disease, and then use existing medicine and advice to help prevent us from becoming ill in the first place.Second: driving innovation across the NHS.So we’re introducing NHSX, a brand new, specialist bridge between the worlds of healthcare and technology.It’s going to work with industry and in-house teams to create a culture of innovation and experimentation within the NHS so proven, safe, tested existing technology spreads faster across the system – and we break up some of the silos that slow down progress.We’ll ensure we keep our first-ranked place at the forefront of the global debate around genomics so we can create an ethical framework to ensure this exciting new tech is developed responsibly.Later this week, we will celebrate the brilliant 100,000 Genomes Project, which has harnessed whole genome sequencing to discover new diagnoses and better treatments for patients with rare diseases and cancer.We’re world-leaders, but we’re not resting on our laurels.We’re going further with an ambitious target of sequencing one million whole genomes.It’s not just about these 2 areas. Across the board the NHS needs a culture of seeking out and sucking in the best innovations on the planet.We’ve got to stay at the cutting edge.Third, and this is the most important for me: people.The reason I care about tech is because I care about people.We should never lose sight of that when we’re talking about the latest gadgets and scientific breakthroughs.The only reason tech and innovation matters is because people matter.Getting it right in the NHS means your child, your partner, your parents, have a better chance of survival.But there is another important – and often missed – benefit to good technology.The best technology can also help doctors, the nurses, the paramedics and healthcare staff, who make the NHS what it is.The right tech makes their lives easier. In the words of Eric Topol: it gives back the gift of time.Because no robot is ever going to replicate human empathy.No machine can replace what makes us human – the caring.So the great big team that is the NHS – everyone in every part of the NHS – will need to be a part of this new era in NHS technology, and that involves training.Because by embracing and shaping technology, we can harness progress to help people.And I want to end on this point of progress.Barack Obama said: Or: Stop worrying about technology: there’s a shortage of doctors. It could almost have been written today.And I love this example from the Spectator archives, a leader column from 2 July 1948, 3 days before the NHS was born: new software to support remote monitoring of vulnerable and elderly people in their own homes video consultations – so more accessible and flexible appointments wearables that track vital signs and gently motivate us towards healthier lifestyles There are too few doctors for the anticipated demand, there are far too few nurses, [the majority of dentists appear for the moment to be standing aloof from the scheme]…. But it is undoubtedly right to get the health service started. Whenever it was started it would be imperfect, and need to be amended and improved in the light of experience….But the nation will soon possess the best medical service in the world. If vaccination were to be abandoned, the result would be that smallpox would become not an epidemic, but a pestilence, spreading infection far and wide, fatal in the majority of cases, inflicting permanent injuries on the survivors…. This is the teaching of medical science, and against this we are asked to put the ‘conscientious belief’ of a few people that medical science is either mistaken or dishonest. This technology isn’t perfect – we shouldn’t use it. If you had to choose a moment in history to be born, and you did not know who you would be – whether you were going to be born into a wealthy family or a poor family, what country you’d be born in, whether you were going to be a man or a woman – if you have to choose blindly what moment you’d want to be born, you’d choose now. I want to talk this morning about the future of healthcare.And I want to talk about technology.I am well known as a technology enthusiast – and not just because I have my own app.Since I have been Health Secretary, I have put shoulder to the wheel to get out-of-date technology, which is no longer fit for purpose, like fax machines and pagers, out of the NHS – and get the best new technology in.We may be making some progress – and I am determined to continue.Today, I want to talk about why.Why do I care about the best technology in healthcare?Because I believe in the power of technology to make human lives better.Why should anyone care about the best technology in healthcare? Because to care about technology is to care about people.People. That’s always been what all the tech, all the scientific developments and healthcare innovation is all about.And there are some naysayers.But Britain has always been on the cutting edge – driven by a desire to develop new ways to improve lives and save lives.Vaccination, immunisation, IVF – pioneered by British scientists with a mission to save lives, improve lives, give the gift of life itself.Yet all those vital technologies we take for granted now were once scary and unknown.Take IVF – first conceived at the Royal Oldham Hospital.It’s become a routine medical practice within my lifetime, but not that long ago serious scientists were saying it couldn’t be done, or shouldn’t be done.More than 8 million children have been born with the help of IVF.Every one of us knows some of the millions of parents who have experienced the joy and miracle of parenthood that they wouldn’t have otherwise known. I know some of those parents and I have seen the joy it brings.All because of the genius of human ingenuity, and pursuit of innovation, in a mission to make life better for people who couldn’t conceive children on their own.All because someone cared enough to do something about it.It’s my firm belief that robotics, personalised medicines, artificial Intelligence and genomic sequencing will all, in time, come to be considered a routine, everyday part of healthcare.And yes, there are important ethical questions.And yes, we must answer these.And yes, we must take people with us.But no, we must not stop the clock, and reject technology because it’s too controversial or too hard.I believe we must make the case for tech in a humane, compassionate, caring way.Listening to people’s fears, not dismissing them.I believe in the innate and instinctive desire in all of us to care for those we love. And all this new health technology has the same simple quest to do just that: to help care for each other.Helping to heal the nation, and we could probably all do with a little healing right now.Because the future, the unknown, provokes strong emotions in people: excitement, curiosity, and of course fear.Unchallenged, fear can triumph over reason, particularly when it comes to tech.And from Malthus on, most of those apocalyptic, prophets of doom turn out be spectacularly wrong. And often not because the premise of the concern is wrong: Malthus was right to worry how we’d feed ourselves.But wrong because they ignore the capacity of human ingenuity to shape technological development: to bend the power of science to human ends.The naysayers, they say to me: Right now is the best time ever to be alive.Just down the road from here was the Central London Recruiting Depot during the First World War.Like many of us, my great-grandfather served in that war.He had served in the Boer War and in 1914 signed up, and spent the first 3 years training troops here in Blighty.When we got short on men, he was sent out to France in March 1917, and in October he was injured when a shell exploded next to him and he was sent back to recuperate.But we’re made of determined stuff in my family.In 4 months he was patched up, sent out again, and back into the trenches.A few weeks later, he was shot through the shoulder.He survived, but this time they thought they better give him an honourable discharge.He cheated death twice in a year of front-line service.The average life expectancy in the trenches was just 6 weeks, boys as young as 16 served on the frontline.A century ago, if you managed to come through the war unscathed, you could expect to live to 50 if you were a man, or 55 if you were a woman.An infection was the most common cause of death.Tens of thousands of children didn’t live to see their first birthday.Now, thanks to antibiotics, immunisation, better public health and hygiene, a child born in the UK today has a good chance of living to 100.And we led this change.Nightingale, Fleming, Crick and the rest.We must cherish and learn from this proud history, without ever being complacent or captured by the past.And this is what I believe:We led this change because of scientific progress.We did it because technology was harnessed for human good.We did it because we looked forward.So, let’s look forward now with confidence and optimism – as we have done before.Let’s embrace the innovations.Let’s believe in Britain.And let’s shape a better future for all.last_img read more

Gary Clark Jr., Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats Announce One-Night-Only Co-Bill At Merriweather Post Pavilion

first_imgNathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats will team up with Gary Clark Jr. for a performance at Columbia, MD’s Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday, August 25th.Fan club tickets for the one-night-only performance are available now on a first come, first served basis here. Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, August 25th, at 10 a.m. ET via Ticketmaster.Related: Tom Morello Releases “Can’t Stop The Bleeding” Featuring Gary Clark Jr. & Gramatik [Listen]The joint performance comes in the midst of extensive summer touring plans for both acts. For a full list of Gary Clark Jr.’s upcoming tour dates, head to his website here. For a list of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ upcoming tour dates, hit the band’s website here.last_img

US consumer spending fell 0.2% in December in face of virus

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers slowed their spending by 0.2% in December, cutting back for a second straight month in a worrisome sign for an economy struggling under the weight of a still out-of-control pandemic. The decline reported Friday by the Commerce Department followed a seasonally adjusted 0.7% drop in November. It was the latest sign that consumers, whose spending is the primary driver of the U.S. economy, are hunkered down and avoiding traveling, shopping and dining out. Since making a brief bounce-back from the viral pandemic last spring, consumer spending has barely grown. Sales at retailers have declined for three straight months.last_img

Secretary Markowitz to Present the 2008 Vermont Centennial Nonprofit Awards

first_imgSecretary of State Deb Markowitz to Present the 2008 Vermont Centennial Nonprofit AwardsVermont’s Oldest Nonprofits to be Honored at a Statehouse CeremonyVermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz will be presenting the 2008 Vermont Centennial Nonprofit Awards on Thursday, September 25, 2008, at 4:30 p.m. at a ceremony in the historic Vermont Statehouse. Twenty-six of Vermont’s oldest nonprofits will be honored for over 100 years of continuous operation in Vermont. Secretary Markowitz will be joined by Governor Jim Douglas in expressing appreciation for the contributions of these organizations to the state’s heritage.For more information about the awards and a list of the 2008 recipients, please visit the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sec.state.vt.us/centennial_nonprofit.html(link is external)###last_img read more

What’s next?

first_imgThe other day, when I was telling a friend about an epic 34-mile run I had done over the weekend, she asked, “So what is it that you’re not training for?” To her, the idea that I would go out on that kind of run just for the heck of it was incomprehensible. I guess that for her, the purpose of running is to get fit for an upcoming race. As I think about that concept, it occurs to me that many runners feel that way. They seem to view their running as stepping stones from one race to the next.I can’t count the number of times I’ve been at an event and after finishing, before the sweat has even dried, been asked, “So what’s next?” Sometimes runners will ask this question before the race, at the pre-race dinner or even at the starting line! I get the sense that in their minds they have already moved beyond the race that is occurring today, the one they have been training for and focusing on for weeks or months, to the next challenge. When I respond that I don’t know, they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind. There are even more questions when I’m volunteering or crewing at a race –Why aren’t you running? Are you injured? What are you training for?I’m as goal-oriented as the next gal, but I believe that when we get overly caught up in future plans, something gets lost. We lose the moment, the here-and-now, and therefore, the essence of running.I recently stumbled across an old copy of The Zen of Running. Published in 1974, it is all you’d expect it to be – full of new age peace-and-love-and-harmony. Something you’d be more likely to find on a spiritual guru’s bookshelf than that of a serious runner. If I took it to a Tuesday night workout, I’d be laughed off the track. Yet there are some nuggets of truth in there. Hearing the author, Fred Rohe’, describe running as a joyful activity, “running free and easy, loping loosely and lightly – dancing!” I am reminded about the importance of being fully present for every run. I try to embrace each run as if it could be my last, not as a chore, something to trudge through, but as a gift.Similarly, a race is something to be cherished. I remember years ago, after a big victory, many people asked me, “What’s next?” What challenge would I take on? What record would I try to crush? In short, what was the next step in proving my dominance and establishing myself among the nation’s elite? One friend, however, gave me some of the most sage advice I’ve ever received. He told me simply to savor this experience, not to think ahead. He knew that as soon as I began to look forward to the next challenge, the present accomplishment would be lost.This is something Rohe’ knew as well. He reminds us that “…in any life joy is only known in this moment – now…you are not running for some future reward – the real reward is now!” So when you see me out there, racing or recovering, jogging or going anaerobic, don’t bother asking, “what’s next” – I probably won’t have an answer.last_img read more

Help! Where is the Safest Seat on an Airplane?

first_imgThere still are ways to be proactive; for instance, your son can use the Fly Delta app to change seats until about an hour before boarding. Just as one might refresh fantasy football scores or election results, your son can be “that guy” at the gate, hunched over the seat map. He can also continue to make changes with the gate agent and (unofficially, perhaps) onboard.Additionally, said a Delta spokeswoman in an emailed statement, “if customers are uncomfortable with where they’re sitting, they can be rebooked to another flight without a change fee or fare difference.” – Advertisement – My original plan was to take the number 115, geek out with the seat map on Delta.com and figure out the likelihood of your son sitting alone when the plane fills to 70 percent. That, I learned, is a huge waste of time.- Advertisement – Dear Tripped Up,My son is flying from Los Angeles to New York City for Thanksgiving. I got him a ticket on Delta Air Lines because they’re blocking out the middle seats. That said, the seating configuration of the plane is a 2-3-2. I’ve heard that window seats are safest, but there’s always a risk that someone will sit next to him. What do you recommend? SusannaDear Susanna,Deciding where to sit on a plane has always been an exercise in strategy and skill: how to get the most legroom, the best shut-eye, the quickest exit. The stakes certainly feel higher now.- Advertisement – I asked Sandra Albrecht, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and the chief epidemiologist behind “Dear Pandemic,” a scientific communication effort on social media, if she would cancel her flight if someone sat next to her.“Absolutely not,” she said. “As with everything with Covid-related, the risk spectrum is a sliding scale. You can think of seating as something you’d be able to slide up a notch and down a notch, but there are other things you could slide, like, 10 points up or 10 points down.”Risk tolerance and health vary, of course, so let’s return to your question about window seats. If the goal is to sit as far from strangers as possible, your hunch is theoretically correct.“If you’re in the window seat and the aisle seat wasn’t occupied, the nearest passenger would be in the middle section or on the other side of the plane,” said Arnold Barnett, an M.I.T. Sloan School of Management statistics professor who has studied the effects of keeping middle seats open on the likelihood of getting sick. “That’s already a distance of several feet. If everyone’s wearing masks, that’s a good situation.”Even then, it’s not open-and-shut. Say you have selected the perfect window seat and boom: A shrieking baby sends an annoyed passenger scrambling for calmer pastures — next to your son. Or a seat doesn’t recline, causing its occupant to move. Or the plane is 70 percent full and the math works out that a handful of solo travelers have to sit together.If you’re someone who can’t tolerate that kind of uncertainty, sit on the aisle in the center section — the aisle will be on one side and an empty middle seat will be on the other.“The benefit is that you don’t have anyone sitting next to you, so you’re farther away from other people for a consistent period of time,” Dr. Albrecht said. “But you do have a variety of people in the aisle, so you’ll probably have briefer interactions with a lot of different people.” – Advertisement – Delta, unlike many of its peers, will continue blocking middle seats through at least Jan. 6 in an effort to separate smaller parties of one or two. Parties of three or more can book adjacent — including middle — seats. On aircraft that have sections without middle seats — say, the 2-3-2 configuration of economy class on a 767 — other seats will be blocked as tickets are purchased and seats are selected. The more people who sit together, the higher the likelihood that your son can sit alone when the plane is 70 percent full, but there’s no way of predicting how many people will be flying individually, in pairs or in groups. Before we start, some numbers to put your mind at ease: In its third quarter, Delta’s passenger load factor — the percentage of available seats that are filled — fell from 88 percent last year to 41 percent this year, according to the airline’s latest investor report, meaning there are plenty of not-full flights. New data also suggests that when everyone is wearing a mask and other protocols are met, planes — with their high-efficiency, virus-zapping air filters — are less risky than grocery stores. But I’ll leave the specifics of viral dispersal to the scientists and try to outline some of the things your son can do to avoid sharing an armrest with a stranger.Before the pandemic, the Boeing 767 aircraft that your son is scheduled to fly on would have accommodated 165 passengers in economy class. Delta currently has a 70 percent capacity limit in several cabins, including economy class, bringing the passenger maximum to about 115. Even on a flight where economy class is 70 percent, about 50 seats are guaranteed to be empty. Luckily, Dr. Barnett said, when someone does brush by (say, on their way to the bathroom), “it’s such a short time that you’re in proximity and you’re wearing masks.”We can only predict and control so much, so experts recommend focusing on exactly that: what we can predict and control.“We shouldn’t let the seat-assignment question distract us from thinking through how we can stay safe throughout the rest of the travel process,” Dr. Albrecht said.That means leaving your mask on, eating at home or in the airport, and waiting until the rush has subsided to deplane. It also means keeping some perspective: We’re in a pandemic that has ravaged air travel — on Nov. 1, the number of people passing through T.S.A. checkpoints clocked in at around 38 percent of last year’s figure, according to the agency’s ongoing tally. Even holiday travel is expected to be down; airports may be busy around Thanksgiving, but the numbers are almost certain to be a fraction of what they normally are.And because your son is flying the week before — a particularly smart move any year, but especially now, when crowds bring safety concerns — he’s likely to end up with lots of elbow room. As I suspected, the seat map confirms: There is still a sea of open window seats.last_img read more

With economy sinking, Trump’s own business is in peril

first_imgAs if presiding over the threatened destruction of the US economy by the coronavirus pandemic is not enough, President Donald Trump is watching another more personal business meltdown: the Trump Organization hotel, golf course and real estate business that made him a billionaire.His five-star US and Canadian hotels with more than 2,200 rooms are mostly empty, his golf courses in the United States, Scotland and Ireland are under pressure to close, and his cherished “Southern White House” — the beach-front Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida is shuttered.Like other hotels around the world, Trump’s have been forced to lay off most workers — and face the fact that the $435 million in revenues that the Trump Organization reported in 2018 is likely to plummet this year. How severe that would be to a family-controlled business notoriously untransparent about its finances is unknown.And it has raised questions over whether Trump’s concerns about his own company are shaping his response to the crisis: whether part of the giant US$2 trillion economic rescue plan agreed overnight Tuesday in Congress will end up helping his hotel and resort businesses, and whether his push for a quick end to the coronavirus lockdown is to save the company.”Our country — it’s not built to shut down,” Trump said Tuesday, calling for an end to restrictions by the second week of April. “You can destroy a country this way by closing it down.”Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said Wednesday that the economic rescue package won’t be used to support Trump companies. “We wrote a provision, not just the president but any major figure in government, cabinet, Senate, congressman, if they or their family have majority (of a company), they can’t get grants or loans,” he told CNN.’It’s hurting me’Neither Trump nor his sons who directly oversee the company have detailed the financial damage they face. But it is clear: the nameplate hotels in New York, Washington, Chicago, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Hawaii are virtually empty.Likewise, his golf resorts are being ordered to lock up, even in remote Scotland. On Monday the Scottish Golf organization urged “all golfers in Scotland refrain from golfing until further notice.””It’s hurting me and it’s hurting Hilton and it’s hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world,” Trump said Saturday.Yet the Trump Organization refuses to completely shut his main hotels.”The hotel is open, the restaurants are closed, the spa is closed, the pool is closed,” a receptionist at the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Central Park in New York told AFP, not giving her name.”There’s a Whole Foods across the street. We can get something for you and bring it to your room,” she suggested.John Boardman, head of the Washington branch of the Unite Here labor union, said the Trump International in Washington was still operating despite sweeping staff layoffs.”It doesn’t make sense for them to stay open. The hotel has like three percent occupancy,” said Boardman.”He may not be shutting it down just to be able to say they are still operating.”Profiteering allegationsSince entering office, Trump has fended off pressure and lawsuits that alleged he was profiting from his properties while president. Business executives, diplomats and Middle Eastern kings seeking his favor stayed at his hotels, especially the Trump International just blocks from the White House.The Washington Post has reported on the huge amounts Saudis have paid to book up Trump hotel wings, and the high rates he charges his own Secret Service contingent when he travels to his own properties, including tens of thousands of dollars for golf carts.Several lawsuits have accused him of profiteering from his office — against the US constitution’s “emoluments” clause — but none have stuck.But now much of that is moot, with the spread of COVID-19 forcing the country’s hotel industry into crisis. Last week the industry, which provides jobs for some eight million people, asked the White House for $150 billion in support.Many were wondering whether part of the bailout — a proposed $500 billion discretionary fund to support businesses that will be run by the US Treasury without public reporting — would be deployed to aid Trump’s hotels along with the rest of the industry.”Now more than ever, it is crucial that the American people know that the president is acting in the public’s best interest and not for his own personal financial gain,” Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, told AFP.Topics :last_img read more

Affordable housing draws buyers to emerging coastal hot spot

first_imgBotanica at Sippy Downs by Habitat Development Group. Habitat Development Group’s One Tree development at Sippy Downs. Photo: SUPPLIEDDevelopers have predicted Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast as an emerging hot spot with affordable housing a key to population growth.Habitat Development Group is so confident in the area as a future residential, business and tech hub, that it is proceeding with another three projects worth $75 million in the Sippy Downs region.Work is well advanced on its eight-storey, 72 apartment One Tree project which will be completed this year.And work is also underway for another 60 units and 44 units in two separate projects (Forest Edge and Botanica). A computer generated image of what Sippy Downs will look like when the developments are completed. Photo: Supplied. Habitat Development Group managing director Cleighton Clark said the company had already delivered four, sold-out apartment buildings in Sippy Downs with another three under construction.“We’ve built 600 units in the Sippy Downs region in the past six years and are very confident in the area as a future hot spot,” he said. “Vacancies in our completed projects are tracking between zero and 0.5 per cent which provides a lot of confidence to keep building.”Steele Clarke, Habitat Development Group’s director, described Sippy Downs as an “evolving township”.Steele said the project had come under budget and they reduced the cost of apartments at One Tree by $15,000 each.“Buyers are saving money because of the efficiency of our construction,” he said.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus14 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market14 hours ago“We import building materials from overseas so we can build quality products at affordable prices. Our motto is to always leave money on the table for the buyer.”Steele said affordability was a huge selling point of Sippy Downs. With median house and unit prices around $100,000 less than neighbouring suburbs, Sippy Downs is being touted as an area that will benefit from future property price growth. Habitat Development Group’s One Tree development at Sippy Downs. Photo: SUPPLIEDCleighton said the developments were close to the university and only 10 minutes to the beach but a lot more affordable which made it easier for first homebuyers and investors. “The median house price in Sippy Downs is $505,000 – that’s $160,000 less than neighbouring Buderim, while the median unit price is $365,000 which is $55,000 less,” he said.Property analyst Terry Ryder of Hotspotting said it was unusual to be able to buy a new property at that price point so close to major beaches.“Sippy Downs has all the right fundamentals for future demand which would lead to property price growth. It has a university campus and that is always a major piece of infrastructure that will attract investors and owner occupiers,” he said. Forest Edge apartments by Habitat Development Group. Photo: SuppliedThe Sippy Downs local plan, which was updated in 2014 as part of the Sunshine Coast regional plan, nominated the town centre, next to the University of the Sunshine Coast campus, as a major regional activity centre.It is earmarked for significant retail, commercial and community activity and proposes a Sippy Downs Business and Technology Sub-Precinct next to the town centre core and the university campus.Other major companies to commit to the area include insurance group Youi, which opened its $72 million global headquarters in the Sunshine Coast Technology Precinct.last_img read more