We’re now a nation of rent-seekers

Illustration: Michael Mucci.In political economist Mancur Olson’s pathbreaking book, The Rise and Decline of Nations, published in 1982, he argued that a country’s economic stability ultimately leads to decline as it becomes increasingly dominated by organised interest groups, each seeking to advance their interests at the expense of others.
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By contrast, countries that have a collapse of the political regime, and the interest groups that have coalesced around it, can radically improve productivity and increase national income because they start with a clean slate in the aftermath of the collapse. Examples are the rapid growth of postwar Germany and Japan, as Wikipedia reminds us.

Professor Ross Garnaut has argued that Australia is unlikely to see another era of extensive micro-economic reform because of the growth in rent-seeking behaviour since the days of the Hawke-Keating government.

What these days passes for the political debate seems to be dominated by ”distributional coalitions”, in Olson’s phrase, arguing for ”reforms” from which the chief beneficiaries would be their good selves, or desperately opposing government reforms that would impose even the most modest sacrifice on their members.

What gets me is how blatantly self-seeking our lobby groups have become. It is as if the era of economic rationalism – with its belief that the economy is driven by self-interest – has sanctified selfishness and refusal to co-operate for the common good.

Another explanation may be the growth of a lucrative rent-seeking industry. These days far more people make their living lobbying for interest groups than did so in the 1980s.

When your livelihood depends on convincing your clients their money is well spent, it is hardly surprising these ever-multiplying industry groups, corporate ”government relations managers” and freelance lobbying firms make so much noise and are so untiring in their efforts to extract concessions from government.

The relationship between elected governments and bureaucrats, and the professional lobbyists, is unhealthy. In an ever more complex world, governments seek to consult ”stakeholders” before implementing policy changes.

But some stakeholders – those that spend most on lobbyists – are more equal than others. And too many politicians, private office advisers and bureaucrats retire as gamekeepers to become poachers. The fact that ex-Coalition lobbyists do better under Coalition governments, while ex-Labor people do better under Labor governments is a sign that this is not an innocent, arms-length, information-gathering exercise.

Meanwhile, the business of opposition has degenerated into automatic opposition to any and every unpopular government decision, even though this requires parties to turn their rhetoric on its head when they move from opposition to government.

Labor’s attempt to exploit public anxiety over the Abbott government’s inability to solve the deep-seated and long-running commercial challenges faced by hard-pressed manufacturers and airlines, while advancing not a shred of credible alternative policy, is despicable. Just as despicable as when Tony Abbott did it to Labor.

It’s finally dawning on people that major and genuine reform requires a degree of bipartisanship at the political level and a spirit of give and take on the part of powerful interest groups. But these prerequisites are further away than ever.

Instead what we get is lowest-common-denominator politics from the pollies and rent-seeking posing as ”reform” from the interest groups. This is particularly true of business lobby groups – the big miners, the financial services sector, the hotels and the registered clubs, for instance – because they have the most money to invest (and I do mean invest) in rent-seeking.

There does seem to be one spark of potential progress, however. Perhaps because of its organic links to big business, the Abbott government seems to have realised something Labor never did: giving in to rent-seekers doesn’t make you any friends, it just makes things worse.

Yielding to my pressure for a concession never satisfies me, it just shows me you’re an easy touch and prompts me to think of something else I want. Meanwhile, giving me a lolly just makes my rivals envious and prompts them to demand theirs. Bad inevitably leads to worse.

Joe Hockey and Abbott have been courageous in ignoring the begging bowl of the least competitive end of manufacturing and, it seems, Qantas. It’s too early to say whether this constitutes a consistent attempt to turn back rent-seeking or just prejudice against certain industries but not others – though it would be idle to expect absolute consistency of principle from any flesh-and-blood government.

The way Arthur Sinodinos has been cutting back investor protections at the behest of the greediest industry of them all – financial services – under the guise of reducing ”red tape” raises the possibility that rent-seeking via the budget is verboten, but not rent-seeking via regulation. We shall see.

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

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RBA not likely to be rushed into rate shift

The Reserve Bank is expected to leave the cash rate on hold on Tuesday, despite concerns about weakness in the domestic economy and bigger problems ahead for the Australian labour market.
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With most economists predicting that the RBA will leave the official cash rate at 2.5 per cent, Australian shares are expected to benefit from the certainty and climb higher on Monday, after posting a 4.2 per cent gain over the month of February.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index, which closed at 5404 points on Friday, is expected to rise 21 points on Monday, according to the SPI futures market.

In the US the S&P 500 Index has closed at a record for two straight days, erasing losses from January that were spurred by concern economic turmoil would spread from emerging markets as the Federal Reserve began reducing stimulus efforts.

But local market confidence could be destabilised by an avalanche of economic data this week. December gross domestic product figures come out on Wednesday, which are forecast to show only modest growth. And there are growing worries about jobs in the wake of Qantas announcing that 5000 jobs are to be axed.

”The risks to the outlook would be that the improvement we have been seeing in economic data is undermined by rising job insecurity,” UBS chief economist Scott Haslem said.

”The build-up of job losses in the car sector and Qantas is probably small in terms of the context of the overall labour market, but the impact on household sentiment and job security can be significant.”

Mr Haslem added that while he believed the Australian economy was on the verge of improvement, data showing rising unemployment and lower capex investment would induce the RBA to sound more dovish. ”I agree they won’t do anything [in March] and they will remain on hold but their comments are likely to remain more dovish.”

Before Tuesday’s RBA meeting, local investors will digest several important reports, including the AIG Performance of Manufacturing Index, house prices, new home sales and ANZ job ads, which are all due on Monday.

Helping shares post solid gains over February was a better than expected company profit season.

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NAB’s Gavin Slater on bank’s shift to people power

Three years after National Australia Bank claimed it was ”breaking up” with its rivals, its strategy is undergoing a subtle but significant shift.
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The 2011 marketing campaign centred on cuts in fees and a pledge to have the lowest advertised mortgage rates, but personal banking group executive Gavin Slater now stresses lending is not a ”commodity” business.

”Just to have a purely price-led strategy is dangerous,” Slater says. ”Price will always be important, but our experience is if you have an upset customer, they don’t leave you over price.”

Executives often say they would prefer to compete without cutting their profit margins, of course.

But at least among NAB bankers gathered at a function centre in suburban Melbourne, Mr Slater’s message appears to be filtering through to the frontlines.

He made the comments last week while visiting staff for the bank’s ”customer connect day”, where 15,000 NAB employees nationally put aside regular duties to phone up customers and non-customers, to say thanks or try to arrange a sales meeting. About 50,000 calls were made and there are hopes it will generate several billions of dollars in ”leads”.

It’s hardly a typical day at the office. Bankers turned up in fancy dress and BusinessDay was invited to observe. However, one theme is recurrent. Bankers are singing from the same song sheet as Mr Slater when it comes to how they compete for customers.

One recounts how he arranged a meeting with a business customer they are trying to wrestle from the Commonwealth Bank. Cost will inevitably come up in negotiations, he says, but he managed not to discuss interest rates on the phone.

Mr Slater, who also gets involved by calling up a 90-year-old customer who has been with the bank for 70 years, argues days such as this help to improve NAB’s culture of customer service. He says this can be just as important as the cost of a loan. ”I don’t want our staff to be dependent on having the lowest cost,” he says.

The contrast between this type of rhetoric and NAB’s previous pledge to offer the lowest standard variable mortgage rate is notable.

But just how much the emphasis on service really matters to customers is debated by analysts. Home loans are fairly homogenous products, after all. Fees and rates are the most important reasons customers left their financial institution, a 2012 survey by Nomura analyst Victor German found.

”Once you step outside the big four banks there are some major differences, but I think between the big four, price is the biggest driver,” Mr German says.

Nevertheless, NAB’s renewed customer service push comes when there is talk of a mortgage price war, with larger discounts being offered to customers.

Investors, eyeing any impact on profit margins, are still divided over the success of NAB’s previous ”break up” strategy.

BBY analyst Brett Le Mesurier says that despite NAB’s pledge to have the lowest standard variable rate until late 2012, its Australian loan growth was the slowest of the majors between 2011 and late 2013. ”It has not been a winning strategy,” Mr Le Mesurier says.

Mr Slater maintains the ”break up” was needed because the bank had been losing customers in the lucrative retail segment. Its customer satisfaction ratings were also lagging – these are now second to the Commonwealth Bank.

”We’ve always been a strong business bank. In some ways I think we neglected our retail bank,” he says.

Over the past five years, its market share in home lending has risen from about 9 per cent to 15.34 per cent – but he stresses there is more to be done. Now, however, the bank is increasingly trying to win business through its people, as well as competitive prices. ”Fundamentally we are a people business, and it’s about each one of us reaching out to our customers and having a conversation,” he says.

The message may be filtering through to staff – the bigger test will be how customers respond.

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

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How does your team look for 2014?

ADELAIDE
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v Port Adelaide, won by 60pts 

v Carlton, won by 38pts

What they achieved Most encouraging was the Crows’ ability to convert their advantage in general play (read inside 50s) into scoreboard reward, which was an area of concern in 2013, but a strength in 2012 when they made the preliminary final. The Crows kicked 31 goals across the two games but, more importantly, took 11 and 21 marks inside 50 – a category they ranked 2nd in 2012, but slipped to 13th last year.

Who looks good  Brenton Sanderson admitted to winking at a member of the list management staff during Eddie Betts’ five-goal performance against the Power. They also like young gun Matthew Crouch, who tackles as hard as he hunts the ball. Matthew Wright averaged 32 disposals across the two games, Rory Sloane had two good games, and Richard Douglas had 20-plus touches twice and also kicked goals.

Injuriy list 

Ricky Henderson (fibula)  4-5 months

Brent Reilly (shoulder)  2-3 weeks

Nathan van Berlo Achilles,  6 months

Taylor Walker (knee)  2-4 months

BRISBANE LIONS

v Hawthorn, lost by 131 pts

v Gold Coast, won by 47 pts

What they achieved Not much in a belting from the Hawks, but at least it got better in the win over the under-manned Gold Coast. As a general rule, the Lions struggled to win the contested ball under Michael Voss, so on that score, Justin Leppitsch made inroads. The Lions had 114 less disposals against the Hawks, yet only eight less when the ball was in dispute. Similarly, they won the contested possession count by seven and that ignited their play against the Suns.

Who looks good Dayne Zorko had two solid outings and along with Josh Green and Luke McGuane showed glimpses in the Suns game of Leppitsch’s strong emphasis on defensive pressure. McGuane kicked three in that match to put up his hand for round one and top-draft pick James Aish looked comfortable at the level. Brent Moloney, Tom Rockliff and Jack Redden all showed their class against the Suns.

Injury list

Jonathan Brown  (foot) 2-3 weeks

Darcy Gardiner (foot)  4 weeks

Stefan Martin (back)  TBC

Ash McGrath(calf) 1-2 weeks

Brent Staker (calf)  1-2 weeks

Lewis Taylor (foot)  2-3 weeks

CARLTON

v North Melbourne, won by 7 pts

v Adelaide, lost by 38 pts

What they achieved The Blues led at every break of their two games, closing out the Roos but getting over run by the Crows. That was no surprise to Mick Malthouse, for a cluster of players coming back from injury were expected to fatigue late in that loss. Crucially, star recruit Dale Thomas was among them, shining in the first three quarters. Matthew Watson could stand up as a key back, which keeps the Lachie Henderson swingman option up Malthouse’s sleeve.

Who looks good Recruit Andrejs Everitt could not have got off to a better start with three goals and 17 disposals against the Roos, and he was good against the Crows, too. Tom Bell was the one to watch out of pre-season training and it flowed into games, while Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs performed as they should against the Crows in their first outing.

Injury list

Andrew Carrazzo  (calf)  4 weeks

Sam Docherty (quad)  2-3 weeks

Lachie Henderson (groin) 1-2 weeks

Chris Judd  (achilles) 5-6 weeks

COLLINGWOOD

v Geelong, lost by 2pts

v Richmond, lost by 48 pts

What they achieved The game against Geelong was a cracker and in the end, the loss was irrelevant. There were clear signs in both games of the changing game plan from Malthouse to Buckley, with the Pies trying to use more handball and run out of defence. The issue of where to play Ben Reid emerged again after he kicked five goals against the Tigers, while the Marley Williams story ran throughout and his emerging talent will be missed in the short term.

Who looks good Jesse White starred against the Cats with five goals to give hope that he is the tag team partner Travis Cloke needs. Another recruit, Taylor Adams, also found a heap of the ball in that game, while Ben Kennedy looked sharp in both outings.

Injury list  

Jarryd Blair (toe) 1-2 weeks

Tim Broomhead (hand) 3-4 weeks

Sam Dwyer (groin) 2 weeks

Patrick Karnezis (groin) 5 weeks

Paul Seedsman (hip) 5 weeks

Josh Thomas  (knee) 2 weeks

Alan Toovey(knee) test

ESSENDON

v Gold Coast, lost by 1 pt

v  Port Adelaide, lost by 25 pts

What they achieved The issues off field just won’t go away, but the most pressing one on it is the forward structure. And while there were no wins to show for it, Mark Thompson had to be buoyed by the changes he made to address the situation, especially against the Suns. Jake Carlisle kicked three goals and the combination with Joe Daniher proved dangerous. Down back, Michael Hurley looked right at home.

Who looks good Daniher was impressive kicking two in both games, and Paul Chapman seemed to have plenty of life in his legs gathering a game-high 24 touches against the Power. But the standout performance was David Zaharakis’  43 disposals against the Suns, one that showed he might be ready to go to another level.

Injury list 

Tom Bellchambers (ankle) 4-6 weeks

Alex Browne (knee)  Season

Michael Hibberd (hamstring)  TBC

Jake Melksham Suspended* Round 3

Jason Winderlich (hamstring) TBC

FREMANTLE

v West Coast, lost by 84 pts

v W Bulldogs, won by 28 pts

What they achieved If this wasn’t Fremantle and Ross Lyon steering the ship there might be cause for slight alarm – a heavy loss to the cross-town rival (albeit under-manned) and losing structurally-important recruit Scott Gumbleton for at least 12 weeks to a serious hamstring injury. But the Dockers know when they want to be winning, and they showed they had an extra gear in burning off the plucky Dogs in the final quarter on the road.

Who looks good How heartening was it to Aaron Sandilands get his hand on 47 hit-outs and a handful of intercept marks playing against the current All-Australian ruckman Will Minson. Nat Fyfe stood tall in the Eagles drubbing, while Matthew Pavlich kicked two goals and grabbed 11 marks in a vintage effort against the Dogs. Michael Walters also provided a spark.

Injury list – provided by club

Kepler Bradley (knee) 2-3 weeks

Zac Clarke (knee) 2-3 weeks

Jonathon Griffin (knee)  TBC

Scott Gumbleton (hamstring)  TBC

Garrick Ibbotson (achilles)  2-3 weeks

Anthony Morabito (knee) TBC

Alex Silvagni (ankle)  Test

Nick Suban (suspended)  Round 2

GEELONG

v Collingwood, won by 2 pts

v Melbourne, won by 13 pts

What they achieved It was all good news siren to siren, where the Cats showed no reason to discount them contending yet again. They moved the ball beautifully against the Pies, in particular. But injury has hit the Cats as hard as any club, most notably Nathan Vardy’s season-ending knee injury at training. A hunt for a replacement to help Tom Hawkins is now on. Key players Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop and Joel Selwood have also had their injury troubles. Importantly, Hamish McIntosh got through unscathed.

Who looks good Josh Caddy has been a bull grinding his way through contests in both games and Mitch Duncan was a standout against Melbourne. Harry Taylor kicked two goals displaying his swingman-capabilities, while Steve Johnson, Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright keep doing what they always do.

Injury list 

George Burbury (jaw) 6 weeks

Allen Christensen (back) 12 weeks

Shane Kersten (back) Test

Daniel Menzel (knee) Indefinite

Steven Motlop (knee) 5-7 weeks

Jordan Murdoch (back) Test

Joel Selwood (hamstring) TBC

Nathan Vardy (knee) Season

GOLD COAST

v Essendon, won by 1 pt

v Brisbane, lost by 47 pts

What they achieved The Suns look to be building strong midfield depth to support Gary Ablett and rising star Jaeger O’Meara, with David Swallow and Michael Rischitelli showing promise that they could step up this year alongside Dion Prestia, Harley Bennell and others. Many of their best players names including Ablett sat out against the Lions, but  the ruck still looks the problem is was last year – with the Suns getting badly beaten in that area in both games.

Who looks good It didn’t take long for Jack Martin to increase the massive hype that already follows him. It was quality not quantity with his touches, mostly silky and leading to something good for the Suns. Brandon Matera also gave a look at the speed and smarts around goal that injury stopped him from contributing last year.

Injury list

Nathan Bock (leg) TBC

Jack Hutchins (back) TBC

Trent McKenzie (calf) Test

Dion Prestia (calf) Test

Zac Smith (knee) Indefinite

Seb Tape (hamstring) Test

Rory Thompson (hip) Test

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

v St Kilda, won by 68 points

v Sydney, lost by 40 points

What they achieved A win to start off, and the Giants will take that no matter what month it is. They never gave up against the Swans, and the rain of super goals against the Saints was exciting to watch and confidence-boosting for a young team. Jonathon Patton got through two hit-outs on return from his knee injury, and the mature-age recruits – Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw and co – all showed they could serve their purpose.

Who looks good The Giants are flushed with emerging midfielders but insiders say Adam Treloar is the pick of the bunch and his 32 disposals against the Saints did nothing to dispel that. Dylan Shiel booted three super goals in a blistering performance in the same game, and they look to have found another in top draft pick Josh Kelly. Jeremy Cameron looks set to continue on where he left off last year.

Injury list 

Matt Buntine (concussion) Test

Tim Mohr (foot) 6 weeks

Andrew Phillips (hamstring) Test

Sam Schulz (shoulder) 10 weeks

HAWTHORN

v Brisbane, won by 131 pts

v Nth Melbourne, won by 65 pts

What they achieved About everything you could as the reigning premier looking to re-mark your territory – two commanding wins with a host of different contributors and new faces creating even more pressure for spots. It is too early to say how much and in what ways Lance Franklin will be missed, but the Hawks had no trouble finding goals and moving the ball forward to its new structure of Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston, with David Hale also helping out. Dayle Garlett’s setback has been the only negative.

Who looks good Liam Shiels has relished a greater role in the midfield, racking up 28 and 30 disposals in the two games, while Will Langford bobbed up with three goals playing on Jack Ziebell against the Roos. Gunston kicked five against the Lions and was super efficient, while and Cyril Rioli has been his old lively self.

Injury list

Jed Anderson (illness) 3 weeks

Brian Lake (suspended) Round 4

Cyril Rioli (suspended) Round 2

Ryan Schoenmakers (knee) 2-4 weeks

Brendan Whitecross (knee) Indefinite

MELBOURNE

v Richmond, won by 14 pts

v Geelong, lost by 13 points

What they achieved Plenty. Firstly, they now have an on-field “brand” under Roos, and against the Tigers we saw the work done through the pre-season, an ability to retain possession and stop teams from mounting big scoring runs against them. The Demons had 183 more disposals than the Tigers and 94 more against the Cats. And they have not had either of Mitch Clark or Chris Dawes to kick to as a key forward yet. The additions of more experienced bodies to the midfield has already made the team more competitive in that area.

Who looks good There was no greater crowd-lifting burst than the one Jay Kennedy-Harris produced against the Tigers, the pint-sized goal-sneak snagging three goals to launch the Demons to victory. Bernie Vince looks a new man, stacking up lots and lots of possessions, and same goes for Jack Trengove – fit, free and maybe ready to flourish.

Injury list

Mitch Clark (hamstring) 2-3 weeks

Chris Dawes (calf) Test

Colin Garland (ankle) 2-4 weeks

Cameron Pedersen (hamstring) 1 week

Aidan Riley* (leg) 6 weeks

Luke Tapscott (knee) 2 weeks

NORTH MELBOURNE

v Carlton, lost by 7 pts

v  Hawthorn, lost by 65 pts

What they achieved You can see the Roos are fit, the effect from the hardest pre-season campaign under Brad Scott. They came storming back in the last quarter against the Blues when they could have easily moved on to the next challenge, and they have had no problem getting their hands on the ball. The Majak Daw incident was ugly and one the club and player should not have to deal with. Widely tipped to shoot into the finals this year, the Roos have a healthy list save for captain Andrew Swallow and key recruit Nick Dal Santo has fitted in perfectly and performed so the club is unlikely to hit the panic button.

Who looks good That midfielders like Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Ryan Bastinac put in solid efforts is an encouraging sign, for the Roos need those players to take the next step. Father-son Luke McDonald also showed promise, while Daniel Wells is in his prime and doesn’t appear to be wasting it.

Injury list 

Tom Curran (foot)  Indefinite

Taylor Garner (hamstring) 6 weeks

Kieran Harper (ankle) 4 weeks

Andrew Swallow (achilles) 8-11 weeks

PORT ADELAIDE

v Adelaide, lost by 60 pts

v Essendon, won by 25 points

What they achieved The Power never likes losing to Adelaide, NAB Challenge or not. Almost all of their leaders were out, which fitted nicely for those detractors who say the Power lack depth and are too young to back up their extraordinary revival in 2013. But Ken Hinkley would be heartened by the motivation in the group to redeem the result interstate against the Bombers. If the Power is to hold their position in the top eight, they need those who had standout seasons to maintain that level and, to that end, Justin Westhoff, Oliver Wines and Chad Wingard showed positive signs.

Who looks good Former Lion Jared Polec has had a big pre-season trying to impress his new club and it appears to have worked, doing so in both games. Robbie Gray could be ready to jump a level, and draft pick Jarmen Impey has speed and composure with the ball.

Injury list

Alipate Carlile (quad) Test

Jarrad Redden* (knee) 6-7 weeks

Jay Schulz  (foot) 1 week

Jackson Trengove (knee) 1 week

RICHMOND

v Melbourne, lost by 14 pts

v  Collingwood, won by 48 points

What they achieved Those wanting to draw too much from the loss against Melbourne would have then had a hard time reconciling the Tigers big win over the Pies. It matters little to Damien Hardwick, although what the coach does care about is the loss of key ruckman Ivan Maric, considering his spiritual value to the team and his workhorse effort in the ruck. The recruitment of Shaun Hampson has already been validated as a worthy back-up selection.

Who looks good Trent Cotchin looks free of the injury that kept his form just below his absolute best last year, which we know is elite. He had 34 disposals, 11 marks and four goals against the Pies.  There is nothing wrong with Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin, either, as they showed with flashes of brilliance in both matches. The absence of Jack Riewoldt allowed Ty Vickery to take centre stage in a different forward set up and he delivered with four goals against the Pies and three against the Demons.

Injury list 

Jake Batchelor (calf) 1 week

Matt Dea (ankle) 1-2 weeks

Ben Lennon (knee) 3-4 weeks

Ivan Maric (ankle) 6-8 weeks

Chris Newman (knee) 1-2 weeks

Jack Riewoldt (quad) Test

ST KILDA

v Western Bulldogs, lost by 11 pts

v GWS, lost by 68 points

What they achieved On a list of things that could go wrong for the Saints pre-season, a morale-sapping loss to GWS and a serious injury to Jack Steven would have to be right near the top. The Bulldogs game looked like going south in a hurry when the Saints could not get their hands on the ball in the first quarter, but they responded to Alan Richardson’s first official address and fought back. For those inside, the GWS loss will have to be a case of forget and move on. But for the supporters, it might be a dose of the reality that faces the Saints in this re-build.

Who looks good Rookie Eli Templeton might be one reason for Saints supporters to come to the footy this year. His blond dreadlocks, soccer skills and attitude are the makings of a fan favourite, as he showed against the Dogs. More game time and responsibility might allow Shane Savage to become the player he wants to be.

Injury list

Sam Gilbert (foot) 6-7 weeks

Tom Lee(shoulder) Test

Terry Milera(foot) 2-3 weeks

Leigh Montagna (suspended) Round 2

Jack Steven (foot) 8-10 weeks

SYDNEY

v GWS, won by 40 pts

v West Coast, lost by 35 pts

What they achieved It is historically unwise to judge what the Swans might produce from March onwards based on anything they do in  February. Although from an off-field standpoint, the mystery seizure scare Lance Franklin endured must have been unsettling for everyone concerned. The club says he is fine, though, and will he will be ready to take his spot in the Swans’ new-look forward line – the exact make up of which will be intriguing with Franklin, Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid and Adam Goodes all in the mix. Rhyce Shaw marked his rapid return from a knee reconstruction by getting through two games.

Who looks good Father-son Tom Mitchell is entering his third season this year and could be ready to play a more prominent role for the Swans. He kicked two goals and had 34 disposals against GWS. Heath Grundy is rock solid as ever, and Nick Malceski is moving fast and with great danger to the opposition off half back.

Injury list

Adam Goodes (knee) 6-8 weeks

George Hewett (knee) 1 week

Luke Parker (eye) TBC

Kurt Tippett (knee) 3-5 weeks

Tommy Walsh (hamstring) Indefinite

WEST COAST

v Fremantle, won by 84

v Sydney, won by 35

What they achieved Clubs with a new coach and whom feel they under-achieved the previous year often attack the pre-season series with vigour. So it was for the Eagles, and you get the feeling we were heading for a Hawthorn-West Coast grand final had this been a NAB Cup competition of years gone by. There seemed to be a game plan directive to lower the eyes and hit up short targets. And move the ball quickly. Scratching for healthy bodies last year, the Eagles might have selection dilemmas of a different kind heading into round one.

Who looks good Xavier Ellis thanked Adam Simpson for the chance to extend his career by picking up 21 disposals playing loose across half back before getting subbed out against the Dockers. Chris Masten also took his chance to run riot through the middle of the ground and kick goals, and the polish of Sharrod Wellingham must have also been encouraging.

Injury list 

Tom Barrass (hip) indefinite

Patrick McGinnity (suspended) Round 2

Beau Waters (shoulder) TBC

WESTERN BULLDOGS

v St Kilda, won by 11 pts

v Fremantle, lost by 28 pts

What they achieved From a development point of view, the Fremantle loss in which the Dogs trailed by just a point at three quarter time might have been worth more than the win over St Kilda. The Dogs stars of the future began to blossom late last year and will continue to this year if the pre-season is any guide ; Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae, especially. Shaun Higgins and Tom Williams got game time, Adam Cooney moved well, and you can see what Stewart Crameri will offer.

Who looks good Liberatore could become an A-grader quicker than first thought, and Koby Stevens and Mitch Wallis seem to have settled into roles where they could expect to regularly contribute. Jake Stringer is not a key forward but he flies at the ball like one, while Luke Dahlhaus might have a new haircut, but he is as explosive as ever around goal.

Injury list 

Jarrad Grant (foot) 1-2 weeks

Ryan Griffen (back) test

Nathan Hrovat (cheekbone) 1-2 weeks

Robert Murphy (elbow) 3-4 weeks

Clay Smith (knee) TBCADELAIDEv Port Adelaide, won by 60pts v Carlton, won by 38ptsWhat they achieved Most encouraging was the Crows’ ability to convert their advantage in general play (read inside 50s) into scoreboard reward, which was an area of concern in 2013, but a strength in 2012 when they made the preliminary final. The Crows kicked 31 goals across the two games but, more importantly, took 11 and 21 marks inside 50 – a category they ranked 2nd in 2012, but slipped to 13th last year.Who looks good  Brenton Sanderson admitted to winking at a member of the list management staff during Eddie Betts’ five-goal performance against the Power. They also like young gun Matthew Crouch, who tackles as hard as he hunts the ball. Matthew Wright averaged 32 disposals across the two games, Rory Sloane had two good games, and Richard Douglas had 20-plus touches twice and also kicked goals.Injuriy list  Ricky Henderson (fibula)  4-5 months Brent Reilly (shoulder)  2-3 weeks Nathan van Berlo Achilles,  6 months Taylor Walker (knee)  2-4 monthsBRISBANE LIONSv Hawthorn, lost by 131 ptsv Gold Coast, won by 47 ptsWhat they achieved Not much in a belting from the Hawks, but at least it got better in the win over the under-manned Gold Coast. As a general rule, the Lions struggled to win the contested ball under Michael Voss, so on that score, Justin Leppitsch made inroads. The Lions had 114 less disposals against the Hawks, yet only eight less when the ball was in dispute. Similarly, they won the contested possession count by seven and that ignited their play against the Suns.Who looks good Dayne Zorko had two solid outings and along with Josh Green and Luke McGuane showed glimpses in the Suns game of Leppitsch’s strong emphasis on defensive pressure. McGuane kicked three in that match to put up his hand for round one and top-draft pick James Aish looked comfortable at the level. Brent Moloney, Tom Rockliff and Jack Redden all showed their class against the Suns.Injury list Jonathan Brown  (foot) 2-3 weeks Darcy Gardiner (foot)  4 weeks Stefan Martin (back)  TBC Ash McGrath(calf) 1-2 weeks Brent Staker (calf)  1-2 weeks Lewis Taylor (foot)  2-3 weeksCARLTONv North Melbourne, won by 7 ptsv Adelaide, lost by 38 ptsWhat they achieved The Blues led at every break of their two games, closing out the Roos but getting over run by the Crows. That was no surprise to Mick Malthouse, for a cluster of players coming back from injury were expected to fatigue late in that loss. Crucially, star recruit Dale Thomas was among them, shining in the first three quarters. Matthew Watson could stand up as a key back, which keeps the Lachie Henderson swingman option up Malthouse’s sleeve.Who looks good Recruit Andrejs Everitt could not have got off to a better start with three goals and 17 disposals against the Roos, and he was good against the Crows, too. Tom Bell was the one to watch out of pre-season training and it flowed into games, while Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs performed as they should against the Crows in their first outing.Injury list Andrew Carrazzo  (calf)  4 weeks Sam Docherty (quad)  2-3 weeks Lachie Henderson (groin) 1-2 weeks Chris Judd  (achilles) 5-6 weeksCOLLINGWOODv Geelong, lost by 2ptsv Richmond, lost by 48 ptsWhat they achieved The game against Geelong was a cracker and in the end, the loss was irrelevant. There were clear signs in both games of the changing game plan from Malthouse to Buckley, with the Pies trying to use more handball and run out of defence. The issue of where to play Ben Reid emerged again after he kicked five goals against the Tigers, while the Marley Williams story ran throughout and his emerging talent will be missed in the short term.Who looks good Jesse White starred against the Cats with five goals to give hope that he is the tag team partner Travis Cloke needs. Another recruit, Taylor Adams, also found a heap of the ball in the same game and looked sharp, while Ben Kennedy provided much-needed launch off half-back. Alex Fasolo also got through his comeback game unscathed and impressed.   Injury list   Jarryd Blair (toe) 1-2 weeks Tim Broomhead (hand) 3-4 weeks Sam Dwyer (groin) 2 weeks Patrick Karnezis (groin) 5 weeks Paul Seedsman (hip) 5 weeks Josh Thomas  (knee) 2 weeks Alan Toovey(knee) testESSENDONv Gold Coast, lost by 1 ptv  Port Adelaide, lost by 25 ptsWhat they achieved The issues off field just won’t go away, but the most pressing one on it is the forward structure. And while there were no wins to show for it, Mark Thompson had to be buoyed by the changes he made to address the situation, especially against the Suns. Jake Carlisle kicked three goals and the combination with Joe Daniher proved dangerous. Down back, Michael Hurley looked right at home.   Who looks good Daniher was impressive kicking two in both games, and Paul Chapman seemed to have plenty of life in his legs gathering a game-high 24 touches against the Power. But the standout performance was David Zaharakis’  43 disposals against the Suns, one that showed he might be ready to go to another level.   Injury list Tom Bellchambers (ankle) 4-6 weeksAlex Browne (knee)  SeasonMichael Hibberd (hamstring)  TBCJake Melksham Suspended* Round 3Jason Winderlich (hamstring) TBCFREMANTLEv West Coast, lost by 84 ptsv W Bulldogs, won by 28 ptsWhat they achieved If this wasn’t Fremantle and Ross Lyon steering the ship there might be cause for slight alarm – a heavy loss to the cross-town rival (albeit under-manned) and losing structurally-important recruit Scott Gumbleton for at least 12 weeks to a serious hamstring injury. But the Dockers know when they want to be winning, and they showed they had an extra gear in burning off the plucky Dogs in the final quarter on the road.Who looks good How heartening was it to Aaron Sandilands get his hand on 47 hit-outs and a handful of intercept marks playing against the current All-Australian ruckman Will Minson. Nat Fyfe stood tall in the Eagles drubbing, while Matthew Pavlich kicked two goals and grabbed 11 marks in a vintage effort against the Dogs. Michael Walters also provided a spark. Injury list – provided by club Kepler Bradley (knee) 2-3 weeks Zac Clarke (knee) 2-3 weeks Jonathon Griffin (knee)  TBC Scott Gumbleton (hamstring)  TBC Garrick Ibbotson (achilles)  2-3 weeks Anthony Morabito (knee) TBC Alex Silvagni (ankle)  Test Nick Suban (suspended)  Round 2GEELONGv Collingwood, won by 2 ptsv Melbourne, won by 13 ptsWhat they achieved It was all good news siren to siren, where the Cats showed no reason to discount them contending yet again. They moved the ball beautifully against the Pies, in particular. But injury has hit the Cats as hard as any club, most notably Nathan Vardy’s season-ending knee injury at training. A hunt for a replacement to help Tom Hawkins is now on. Key players Allen Christensen, Steven Motlop and Joel Selwood have also had their injury troubles. Importantly, Hamish McIntosh got through unscathed.Who looks good Josh Caddy has been a bull grinding his way through contests in both games and Mitch Duncan was a standout against Melbourne. Harry Taylor kicked two goals displaying his swingman-capabilities, while Steve Johnson, Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright keep doing what they always do.Injury list  George Burbury (jaw) 6 weeks Allen Christensen (back) 12 weeks Shane Kersten (back) Test Daniel Menzel (knee) Indefinite Steven Motlop (knee) 5-7 weeks Jordan Murdoch (back) Test Joel Selwood (hamstring) TBC Nathan Vardy (knee) SeasonGold Coastv Essendon, won by 1 ptv Brisbane, lost by 47 ptsWhat they achieved The Suns look to be building strong midfield depth to support Gary Ablett and rising star Jaeger O’Meara, with David Swallow and Michael Rischitelli showing promise that they could step up this year alongside Dion Prestia, Harley Bennell and others. Many of their best players names including Ablett sat out against the Lions, but  the ruck still looks the problem is was last year – with the Suns getting badly beaten in that area in both games.Who looks good It didn’t take long for Jack Martin to increase the massive hype that already follows him. It was quality not quantity with his touches, mostly silky and leading to something good for the Suns. Brandon Matera also gave a look at the speed and smarts around goal that injury stopped him from contributing last year.Injury list Nathan Bock (leg) TBC Jack Hutchins (back) TBC Trent McKenzie (calf) Test Dion Prestia (calf) Test Zac Smith (knee) Indefinite Seb Tape (hamstring) Test Rory Thompson (hip) TestGreater Western Sydneyv St Kilda, won by 68 pointsv Sydney, lost by 40 pointsWhat they achieved A win to start off, and the Giants will take that no matter what month it is. They never gave up against the Swans, and the rain of super goals against the Saints was exciting to watch and confidence-boosting for a young team. Jonathon Patton got through two hit-outs on return from his knee injury, and the mature-age recruits – Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw and co – all showed they could serve their purpose.  Who looks good The Giants are flushed with emerging midfielders but insiders say Adam Treloar is the pick of the bunch and his 32 disposals against the Saints did nothing to dispel that. Dylan Shiel booted three super goals in a blistering performance in the same game, and they look to have found another in top draft pick Josh Kelly. Jeremy Cameron looks set to continue on where he left off last year.Injury list  Matt Buntine (concussion) Test Tim Mohr (foot) 6 weeks Andrew Phillips (hamstring) Test Sam Schulz (shoulder) 10 weeksHawthornv Brisbane, won by 131 ptsv Nth Melbourne, won by 65 ptsWhat they achieved About everything you could as the reigning premier looking to re-mark your territory – two commanding wins with a host of different contributors and new faces creating even more pressure for spots. It is too early to say how much and in what ways Lance Franklin will be missed, but the Hawks had no trouble finding goals and moving the ball forward to its new structure of Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston, with David Hale also helping out. Dayle Garlett’s setback has been the only negative.  Who looks good Liam Shiels has relished a greater role in the midfield, racking up 28 and 30 disposals in the two games, while Will Langford bobbed up with three goals playing on Jack Ziebell against the Roos. Gunston kicked five against the Lions and was super efficient, while and Cyril Rioli has been his old lively self.Injury list Jed Anderson (illness) 3 weeks Brian Lake (suspended) Round 4 Cyril Rioli (suspended) Round 2 Ryan Schoenmakers (knee) 2-4 weeks Brendan Whitecross (knee) IndefiniteMelbournev Richmond, won by 14 ptsv Geelong, won by 13 pointsWhat they achieved Plenty. Firstly, they now have an on-field “brand” under Roos, and against the Tigers we saw the work done through the pre-season, an ability to retain possession and stop teams from mounting big scoring runs against them. The Demons had 183 more disposals than the Tigers and 94 more against the Cats. And they have not had either of Mitch Clark or Chris Dawes to kick to as a key forward yet. The additions of more experienced bodies to the midfield has already made the team more competitive in that area.   Who looks good There was no greater crowd-lifting burst than the one Jay Kennedy-Harris produced against the Tigers, the pint-sized goal-sneak snagging three goals to launch the Demons to victory. Bernie Vince looks a new man, stacking up lots and lots of possessions, and same goes for Jack Trengove – fit, free and maybe ready to flourish.Injury list Mitch Clark (hamstring) 2-3 weeks Chris Dawes (calf) Test Colin Garland (ankle) 2-4 weeks Cameron Pedersen (hamstring) 1 week Aidan Riley* (leg) 6 weeks Luke Tapscott (knee) 2 weeksNorth Melbournev Carlton, lost by 7 pts v  Hawthorn, lost by 65 ptsWhat they achieved You can see the Roos are fit, the effect from the hardest pre-season campaign under Brad Scott. They came storming back in the last quarter against the Blues when they could have easily moved on to the next challenge, and they have had no problem getting their hands on the ball. The Majak Daw incident was ugly and one the club and player should not have to deal with. Widely tipped to shoot into the finals this year, the Roos have a healthy list save for captain David Swallow and key recruit Nick Dal Santo has fitted in perfectly and performed so the club is unlikely to hit the panic button.Who looks good That midfielders like Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Ryan Bastinac put in solid efforts is an encouraging sign, for the Roos need those players to take the next step. Father-son Luke McDonald also showed promise, while Daniel Wells is in his prime and doesn’t appear to be wasting it.   Injury list  Tom Curran (foot)  Indefinite Taylor Garner (hamstring) 6 weeks Kieran Harper (ankle) 4 weeks Andrew Swallow (achilles) 8-11 weeksPort Adelaidev Adelaide, lost by 60 ptsv Essendon, won by 25 pointsWhat they achieved The Power never likes losing to Adelaide, NAB Challenge or not. Almost all of their leaders were out, which fitted nicely for those detractors who say the Power lack depth and are too young to back up their extraordinary revival in 2013. But Ken Hinkley would be heartened by the motivation in the group to redeem the result interstate against the Bombers. If the Power is to hold their position in the top eight, they need those who had standout seasons to maintain that level and, to that end, Justin Westhoff, Oliver Wines and Chad Wingard showed positive signs.Who looks good Former Lion Jared Polec has had a big pre-season trying to impress his new club and it appears to have worked, doing so in both games. Robbie Gray could be ready to jump a level, and draft pick Jarmen Impey has speed and composure with the ball.Injury list Alipate Carlile (quad) Test Jarrad Redden* (knee) 6-7 weeks Jay Schulz  (foot) 1 week Jackson Trengove (knee) 1 weekRichmondv Melbourne, lost by 14 ptsv  Collingwood, won by 48 pointsWhat they achieved Those wanting to draw too much from the loss against Melbourne would have then had a hard time reconciling the Tigers big win over the Pies. It matters little to Damien Hardwick, although what the coach does care about is the loss of key ruckman Ivan Maric, considering his spiritual value to the team and his workhorse effort in the ruck. The recruitment of Shaun Hampson has already been validated as a worthy back-up selection.Who looks good Trent Cotchin looks free of the injury that kept his form just below his absolute best last year, which we know is elite. He had 34 disposals, 11 marks and four goals against the Pies.  There is nothing wrong with Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin, either, as they showed with flashes of brilliance in both matches. The absence of Jack Riewoldt allowed Ty Vickery to take centre stage in a different forward set up and he delivered with four goals against the Pies and three against the Demons.Injury list  Jake Batchelor (calf) 1 week Matt Dea (ankle) 1-2 weeks Ben Lennon (knee) 3-4 weeks Ivan Maric (ankle) 6-8 weeks Chris Newman (knee) 1-2 weeks Jack Riewoldt (quad) TestSt Kildav Western Bulldogs, lost by 11 ptsv GWS, lost by 68 pointsWhat they achieved On a list of things that could go wrong for the Saints pre-season, a morale-sapping loss to GWS and a serious injury to Jack Steven would have to be right near the top. The Bulldogs game looked like going south in a hurry when the Saints could not get their hands on the ball in the first quarter, but they responded to Alan Richardson’s first official address and fought back. For those inside, the GWS loss will have to be a case of forget and move on. But for the supporters, it might be a dose of the reality that faces the Saints in this re-build.Who looks good Rookie Eli Templeton might be one reason for Saints supporters to come to the footy this year. His blond dreadlocks, soccer skills and attitude are the makings of a fan favourite, as he showed against the Dogs. More game time and responsibility might allow Shane Savage to become the player he wants to be.Injury list Sam Gilbert (foot) 6-7 weeks Tom Lee(shoulder) Test Terry Milera(foot) 2-3 weeks Leigh Montagna (suspended) Round 2 Jack Steven (foot) 8-10 weeksSydneyv GWS, won by 40 ptsv West Coast, lost by 35 ptsWhat they achieved It is historically unwise to judge what the Swans might produce from March onwards based on anything they do in  February. Although from an off-field standpoint, the mystery seizure scare Lance Franklin endured must have been unsettling for everyone concerned. The club says he is fine, though, and will he will be ready to take his spot in the Swans’ new-look forward line – the exact make up of which will be intriguing with Franklin, Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid and Adam Goodes all in the mix. Rhyce Shaw marked his rapid return from a knee reconstruction by getting through two games. Who looks good Father-son Tom Mitchell is entering his third season this year and could be ready to play a more prominent role for the Swans. He kicked two goals and had 34 disposals against GWS. Heath Grundy is rock solid as ever, and Nick Malceski is moving fast and with great danger to the opposition off half back.Injury list Adam Goodes (knee) 6-8 weeks George Hewett (knee) 1 week Luke Parker (eye) TBC Kurt Tippett (knee) 3-5 weeks Tommy Walsh (hamstring) IndefiniteWest Coastv Fremantle, won by 84v Sydney, won by 35What they achieved Clubs with a new coach and whom feel they under-achieved the previous year often attack the pre-season series with vigour. So it was for the Eagles, and you get the feeling we were heading for a Hawthorn-West Coast grand final had this been a NAB Cup competition of years gone by. There seemed to be a game plan directive to lower the eyes and hit up short targets. And move the ball quickly. Scratching for healthy bodies last year, the Eagles might have selection dilemmas of a different kind heading into round one.Who looks good Xavier Ellis thanked Adam Simpson for the chance to extend his career by picking up 21 disposals playing loose across half back before getting subbed out against the Dockers. Chris Masten also took his chance to run riot through the middle of the ground and kick goals, and the polish of Sharrod Wellingham must have also been encouraging.  Injury list  Tom Barrass (hip) indefinite Patrick McGinnity (suspended) Round 2 Beau Waters (shoulder) TBCWestern Bulldogsv St Kilda, won by 11 ptsv Fremantle, lost by 28 ptsWhat they achieved From a development point of view, the Fremantle loss in which the Dogs trailed by just a point at three quarter time might have been worth more than the win over St Kilda. The Dogs stars of the future began to blossom late last year and will continue to this year if the pre-season is any guide ; Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae, especially. Shaun Higgins and Tom Williams got game time, Adam Cooney moved well, and you can see what Stewart Crameri will offer.  Who looks good Liberatore could become an A-grader quicker than first thought, and Koby Stevens and Mitch Wallis seem to have settled into roles where they could expect to regularly contribute. Jake Stringer is not a key forward but he flies at the ball like one, while Luke Dahlhaus might have a new haircut, but he is as explosive as ever around goal.Injury list  Jarrad Grant (foot) 1-2 weeks Ryan Griffen (back) test Nathan Hrovat (cheekbone) 1-2 weeks Robert Murphy (elbow) 3-4 weeks Clay Smith (knee) TBC

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

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Commission toinvestigateAurizon drivers’ dispute

THE Fair Work Commission will meet in Newcastle at 10am on Monday after 4 days of work were lost to the Aurizon dispute last week.
Nanjing Night Net

Some 200 striking Aurizon Hunter Valley coal train drivers returned to work at 4pm on Saturday after an order from the commission.

The protracted industrial action began on Tuesday when Aurizon drivers belonging to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union took consecutive 24-hour strikes in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement.

In response, the Queensland-based Aurizon locked the drivers out of their workplace on Thursday and Friday.

The union members then called a further 24-hour stoppage under a little used provision of the Fair Work Act that legitimises ‘‘employee response action’’.

It was this strike, from 4am on Saturday, that the commission curtailed, resulting in work resuming at 4pm on Saturday.

Union organiser Steve Wright said the commission had also called a moratorium on further action by either side until midnight on Wednesday.

Mr Wright said he did not believe the coal chain had been harmed by the strike because coal companies had been able to contract Pacific National, the main rail company in the Hunter Valley, to haul their coal.

However, the Newcastle Herald was told by industrial sources that only two of Aurizon’s customers, Mount Arthur and Wambo, had been able to hire Pacific National.

Aurizon criticised the union in a full-page advertisement in Saturday’s Herald, saying the strike action had hurt the local economy.

The union said the company’s protests were hollow, given that it had brought on two days of the action itself by locking out workers.

The company defended this by saying it needed to bring matters to a head.

An Aurizon spokesman said the union had called Saturday’s strike despite today’s commission hearing already being scheduled.

STRIKING Aurizon coal train drivers have been ordered by the Fair Work Commission to cut short a 24-hour strike called in response to being locked out of their workplace by the company.

As well, the commission has ordered a moratorium on further industrial action until 4pm on Wednesday.

The parties have been ordered to attend a hearing of the commission at 10am on Monday in Newcastle.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Steve Wright said the moratorium called by the commission had been to stop the company taking retaliatory action against the drivers in the form of a further lockout.

Mr Wright said Aurizon drivers had gone back to work at 4pm on Saturday after the commission ordered a 24-hour ‘‘employee response action’’ cut to 12 hours.

He said he did not believe the coal chain had been harmed by the strike because coal companies had been able to contract Pacific National to haul their coal in place of Aurizon.

The industrial action began last week when about 200 Hunter Valley train drivers went on strike for 48 hours.

Aurizon responded by locking its drivers out for 48 hours, which resulted in the union calling the 24-hour ‘‘employee response action’’ that was cut short by the commission.

Aurizon criticised the union in a full page advertisement in Saturday’s Newcastle Herald, saying the strike action had hurt the local economy.

The union said the company’s protests were hollow, given it had brought on two days of the action itself by locking out workers.

The company defended this by saying it needed to bring matters to a head.

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