Month: May 2019

  • Samuel Johnson opens up about former flame: ‘I kind of bailed on her and then she killed herself’

    Samuel Johnson’s life has been shaped by suicide. Photo: Love Your Sister Facebook
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    Samuel Johnson with his sister, Connie. Photo: Love Your Sister Facebook

    Samuel Johnson’s life has been shaped by suicide. Photo: Love Your Sister Facebook

    Samuel Johnson’s life has been shaped by suicide. Photo: Love Your Sister Facebook

    In a heart-rending new interview, actor Samuel Johnson has opened up about his former girlfriend’s suicide.

    “I met and fell in love with a beautiful young lady called Lainie. The most beautiful creature in the world,” the 36-year-old actor told Nova radio’s Meshel Laurie’s Nitty Gritty Committee podcast.

    “She was a bit too amazing though, and I couldn’t quite handle it. I kind of bailed on her and then she killed herself, which was charming, so considerate.”

    In 2006, Johnson’s 20-year-old girlfriend Lainie Woodlands took her own life, in her home at Victoria’s Hepburn Springs.

    Johnson, who rose to fame as a 21-year-old playing Evan on the hit show The Secret Life of Us, was already too familiar with suicide. His mother took her life before he was a year old and a close female friend had taken her life shortly before Lainie.

    “I was probably already not doing that well but when my girlfriend [killed] herself, the night that I left her, sh– got pretty heavy,” he revealed.

    He took a year off acting and drowned his sorrows in alcohol and drugs.

    “I’m not angry with her at all. I’m just really sad. There’s a big gaping hole in my life that she used to occupy … and I miss her a lot,” he said in a 2007 interview.

    In a separate interview with Australian Story that same year, he opened up further.

    “The three key women in my life have left me. It floored me. You know, I mean, it’s still floored me. It’s just ruined me emotionally and I’m very sad now.”

    By his late 20s, he finally turned to his father for advice.

    “My mum killed herself when my dad left her, so, you know, there was an interesting continuity there,” said Johnson, whose father raised him and his two older sisters on his own.

    “So I was able to ask my dad about that and see how he coped when mum did that to dad.”

    Now, the actor, who has set up a breast cancer charity and written a book with his sister Connie, who is dying from the disease, says he does not blame himself.

    “I was happy to be the trigger boy but I knew I wasn’t the cause,” he said of Lainie’s death.

    “I’m OK with being the straw that broke the camel’s back and that’s how I can choose not to feel guilty about it, because ultimately there are a lot of other things that went into that act that she committed to.

    “I think if I caused that sh– it might have been hard to forgive yourself.”

    Fairfax Media

    Lifeline 13 11 14; MensLine 1300 789 978; Beyondblue 1300 224 636

  • What is a AAA credit rating and why does Australia need one?

    Treasurer Joe Hockey faces a squeeze. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen / FairfaxThere is much speculation just now about whether Australia is about to lose its AAA credit rating. It is another headache for Treasurer Joe Hockey as he crafts his second budget. But what exactly is this rating, where does it come from and does it matter? Jonathan Shapiro answers the AAA questions you always wanted answered. What is a AAA (“Triple-A”) rating?
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    This is a way of rating an entity, usually a government or a company, that wants to borrow money. It gives lenders an easy way of seeing how likely they are to get repaid. Ratings have several grades with AAA being the highest down through to C. Anything below BB is deemed as junk. Australia is one of 12 governments with a AAA rating worldwide Why does it matter?

    The higher your rating, the lower your borrowing costs. This is because with a higher rating you are seen as a smaller risk by someone lending you money. When a government or company borrows money, usually through issuing bonds, that debt is then assigned a value based partly on the credit rating. This is important for people who trade bonds. How does it get assessed?

    Rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s will look at your assets and liabilities, your income and your expenses and then decide how able you are to repay any new debt. Governments are usually bolstered by their power to raise new revenue through taxes. Rating agencies work closely with the entities they are rating. Is it an assessment of the health of the economy?

    No. It is an assessment of the ability of a borrower to repay money. However, for a government in particular its ability to repay money is linked strongly to the performance of the economy. In a strong economy, income to the public purse is higher and expenses such as welfare are lower. So the rating can be a proxy measure of how strong a nation’s economy is travelling. The credit rating is also an important benchmark for politicians about how prudently they are managing the government’s finances. What would it cost Australia if it was downgraded?

    The cost of a credit rating downgrade is hard to quantify, especially for a government. In theory, a lower credit rating should lead to borrowers demanding a higher return for the risk they’re taking. In the case of Australia however, since all its debt is denominated in Australian dollars which it is able to print, it can never technically default. This means Australia’s borrowing costs are determined by expectations of where the Reserve Bank will set the cash rate. Other governments that have lost their AAA ratings such as the US and Japan have actually seen their borrowing costs fall because investors have assumed their central banks would hold official interest rates lower.   What else would it impact?

    The real impact of a credit downgrade would be borne by other borrowers that the rating agency has assessed to be tied to the health of the government, in particular state governments and banks.  This is because both are bolstered by an implicit guarantee from the Australian government. That could mean a downgrade of the federal government could push up costs for other parts of the economy. The banks source a large portion of their funding from international bond investors that would, all else being equal, demand higher rates. The higher the cost of borrowing for the banks, the more they may have to charge for mortgages, for example. Didn’t these rating agencies play a key role in GFC? Why should we listen to them?

    The rating agencies were among the key culprits in the financial crisis. Since they are paid by the institutions that they rated, they were conflicted and turned out to be too liberal with their AAA ratings on complex bonds – allowing cautious investors to load up on what turned out to be risky debt.  Most of the rating agency failings related to complex structured securities. Their track record is less tainted (but far from perfect) when it comes to assessing company and government risk. Despite their role in the crisis, rating agencies have become more entrenched in the financial system because the volumes of bonds governments and companies have issued since the crisis.

  • Mourners farewell Dungog flood victim Brian Alexander Wilson

    Mourners farewell Dungog flood victim Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak
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    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Final farewell for Dungog Digger Brian Wilson at the Christ Church Anglican Church. Picture: Simone De Peak

    TweetFacebook●Three dead, four houses washed away in Dungog

    ● Dungog flood victims were veterans: RSL

    A FULL house of about 200 mourners paid their last respects on Thursday to Brian Alexander Wilson, 72, one of three people to lose their lives in last week’s Dungog floods.

    The service at Christ Church Anglican Church, Dungog, was conducted by Reverend Colvin Ford, with contributions by NSW Disaster Recovery Network chaplain Susan Phelan and Dungog RSL sub branch vice-president Jim Olsen.

    In a poignant gesture late in the ceremony, more than 20 retired and active service personnel left their pews to put paper poppies on Mr Wilson’s coffin, symbolising the 339 days the Vietnam veteran spent in the army in 1968 and 1969.

    Reverend Ford said Mr Wilson, a retired boilermaker who fixed and sold lawnmowers from a shed at the back of his Brown Street unit, was well-known in the town.

    He said one of Mr Wilson’s children, Tamara Carsley, had become ‘‘the face of Dungog’’ after the storm.

    He paid tribute to her for recovering her father’s medals and marching with them on Saturday at Anzac Day.

    RSL sub-branches from across the Hunter Region sent representatives to the funeral, which included a reading from Psalm 23.

    In this instance, ‘‘the valley of the shadow of death’’ was an appropriate description of the dip of land between Dowling Street and Lord Street, Dungog, that filled with water that Monday night and Tuesday morning, taking three lives in the process.

    Reverend Ford said Dungog had ‘‘been through a lot these past few weeks’’.

    ‘‘As a town we’ve responded, too, and it’s been a wonderful thing to see,’’ Reverend Ford said. ‘‘We’re just small enough to be concerned for people, and big enough to pull together resources, and it’s great, it really is.’’

    Mr Olsen said Mr Wilson rarely spoke of his time in the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and even some of his own family may not have heard the details.

    He said Mr Wilson had been a corporal in ‘‘that dreadful war in Vietnam’’, and it was ‘‘a terribly dangerous rank, because it was one of those that really did the fighting’’.

    ‘‘On this day, we know one thing, that Brian Wilson has left us, once and for all, answering a roll call we all must face,’’ Mr Olsen said.

    The service ended with a guard of honour, followed by a burial at Dungog cemetery.

    A funeral service for Mr Wilson’s neighbour, Colin John Webb, 79, is at Dungog Uniting Church on Friday at 11am. A memorial service for Robin Reid MacDonald, 68, will be held at Dungog Memorial RSL Club on Monday at 11am.

    A FULL house of about 200 mourners paid their last respects onThursday morning to Brian Alexander Wilson who died on Tuesday lastweek in the floods at Dungog.

    TheService at Christ Church Anglican Church, Dungog, was conducted byReverend Colvin Ford, with contributions by NSW Disaster RecoveryNetwork chaplain Susan Phelan and Dungog RSL sub branch vice presidentJim Olsen.

    Service at Christ Church Anglican Church, Dungog for Brian Wilson. Picture: Simone De Peak

    Toward the end of the ceremony more than 20 retired and active servicepersonnel rose from their pews to put paper poppies on Mr Wilson’scoffin, symbolising the 339 days the Vietnam veteran spent in the armyin 1968 and 1969.

    Reverend Ford said Mr Wilson’s daughter Tamara Carsley, had become”the face of Dungog” after the storm.

    He paid tribute to her for recovering her father’s medals and marchingwith them on Saturday at Anzac Day.

    The service ended with a guard of honour from the church steps,followed by a burial at Dungog cemetery.

    Brian Wilson: Died in last week’s storms and floods that devastated the Hunter region. Picture: Supplied

    A funeral service for Mr Wilson’s neighbour, Colin Webb, is in Dungog onFriday with the memorial service for the third victim, Robin Macdonald,on Monday.

  • Sunday Night under fire for Hugh Sheridan’s Nepal rescue mission for brother

    Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook
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    Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

    Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

    Hugh Sheridan with his younger brother Zachary Photo: Facebook

    The Seven Network’s flagship current affairs program Sunday Night has come under fire after it sent a film crew with actor Hugh Sheridan to document the star’s search for his younger brother Zachary in devastated Nepal.

    The network also sent along its celebrity doctor Andrew Rochford, however Sheridan’s 20-year-old brother was located safe and well in a remote village. Thank you for all your messages, I apologize for not responding yet, the service here is virtually impossible. Just got good wifi for the first time and I’m overwhelmed by what I read. I have no update from Zach yet, I’ll let you all know as soon as I do. Put your prayers into the people still unaccounted for and for #nepal the damage here is unbelievable and they are a beautiful people. I’ve spent the day trying to be useful for the local people. Donate to organisations you know are legit and that your money will definitely reach the people. Love to you all and thank you. #nepal #earthquake #donate #speakloveA photo posted by Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) on Apr 29, 2015 at 3:41am PDT

    Many badly damaged villages in parts of Nepal unserviced by roads have received little or no assistance. Aid workers in Nepal say they are having trouble getting the resources they need to help victims in remote areas.

    During Wednesday night’s Seven News bulletin the network ran a promo for the upcoming Sunday Night story immediately after its news report on the rising death toll and worsening conditions four days after the earthquake struck.

    Titled “Moving Mountains”, the Sunday Night promo featured Dr Rochford, who first came to fame as a contestant on Channel Nine’s The Block, conducting a dramatic interview with Sheridan, who says: “I would have climbed Everest to find him.”SUNDAY: Follow Hugh Sheridan’s journey to find his brother and see how you can help victims of the #Nepal earthquake https://t/gIcRemuke1— sunday night (@sundaynighton7) April 30, 2015

    Following the promo social media sites such as Twitter erupted with condemnation of the network’s handling of the story, amid claims it was “cashing in” and trivialising the situation by focussing on a celebrity while thousands of people in Nepal mourned.

    When news of the earthquake first emerged last Saturday Sheridan wrote on his Twitter account: “Please. Anyone who is awake, please pray for my little brother Zachary who is on Mt Everest, I’d appreciate every prayer you have spare x”Please. Anyone who is awake, please pray for my little brother Zachary who is on Mt Everest, I’d appreciate every prayer you have spare x— Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) April 25, 2015

    A Seven spokeswoman confirmed Sunday Night’s recently installed executive producer Steve Taylor had approached Sheridan, who was in Los Angeles, on Sunday and invited him to join a news crew travelling to Nepal.

    Within 24 hours Sheridan revealed he was travelling to Nepal to search for his brother. Zachary Sheridan notified his loved ones that he was safe and well while his big brother and his entourage were in transit to Nepal.

    “We know Hugh very well, we were reaching out and at that point no one knew if Zachary was alive,” the spokeswoman said, confirming that Rochford was dispatched from Sydney to LA to meet with Sheridan and the Sunday Night crew already there working on a separate story before flying on to Nepal.

    “Our people there and Hugh are now committed to providing whatever help they can in the situation they have found themselves in, this is a legitimate story and all media outlets are covering it.

    “Of course we are not going to muscle in and hire helicopters when they are needed to rescue people … that is not how we operate,” she said, denying that focusing on a celebrity was trivialising the plight of the thousands of others affected. “People need to look a little deeper.”   Thank you everyone for your messages and your kind words. I’m on my way to Nepal now and will head toward base camp to try and find Zachary. I will be with a small crew helping with a chopper, a dr and we will have a satellite phone available for any Australian there who needs to reach home and tell their loved ones they’re ok, I know so many of us are still waiting to hear but communication is down. Stay positive everyone, I feel optimistic that he is alive and stuck. I know that the news have been eager to talk to my mum but it would be respectful to leave her alone at this time. My heart goes out to every family who is still waiting to hear, I can’t imagine how they feel at Mt Everest. I’m looking forward to seeing my little brother and getting him out safely. This was the last picture he sent me, he sure captured her beauty. #family #nepal #australia #speakloveA photo posted by Hugh Sheridan (@hugh_sheridan) on Apr 26, 2015 at 7:10pm PDT

    On Thursday morning News Corp reported that a Sunday Night production crew had approached local authorities in Nepal to help source a helicopter but there were none available as they are all being used to run ­important aid missions­ and to rescue the sick.

    “It was apparent that others had more pressing needs, this is why the brothers have not yet been physically reunited,” a Channel Seven spokeswoman was quoted saying.

    Hugh and his brother Tom were together with Sunday Night when they learned the news they’d been hoping for, that their younger brother Zach was safe. Until late yesterday he’d been unable to get a message out of the remote area he had been travelling in.

    The program, along with Seven’s Health Editor and Australian Red Cross Ambassador Dr Andrew Rochford, is “continuing to assist Hugh and Tom to reach their brother and endeavouring to provide medical and communications assistance to others in Nepal affected by the earthquake.”

    When Sheridan arrived at the international airport in Kathmandu his Seven “handlers” told rival media he was not able to comment despite his story becoming headline news in Australia.

    The network has been promoting the “full story” to air on Sunday Night this weekend.

    with Matt Wade in Nepal

  • China to build world’s largest airport terminal at Beijing International Airport

    The six-pier radial concept will help improve the functionality at Beijing International Airport’s new Terminal 1. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects The six-pier radial concept will help improve the functionality at Beijing International Airport’s new Terminal 1. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects
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    The new terminal will feature six wings with flowing rooflines and column-free spaces. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects

    The terminal will have a 4.8-kilometre curved facade. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects

    The six-pier radial concept will help improve the functionality at Beijing International Airport’s new Terminal 1. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects

    The six-pier radial concept will help improve the functionality at Beijing International Airport’s new Terminal 1. Photo: Methanoia/Zaha Hadid Architects

    China – the world’s most populated country – will soon have the world’s largest airport terminal.

    Beijing International Airport’s new Terminal 1 will cover a total floor space of 700,000 square metres and will serve 45 million passengers a year, or 125,000 passengers per day.

    Designed by British-Iraqi firm Zaha Hadid Architects, the six-pier radial concept is said to help improve the functionality of the terminal, which will be the busiest section of Beijing International Airport, also known as Daxing Airport.

    The terminal will feature six wings with flowing rooflines and column-free spaces to create more open and interconnected public spaces, and a central courtyard at the heart of the terminal. The radial, centralised plan is said to significantly reduce passenger transfer times between gates and also transfer distances between ground transportation to the plane.

    The terminal, which is due to be completed in 2018, will have the potential for expansion to cater for up to 72 million passengers annually. It will have a 4.8-kilometre curved facade.

    Zaha Hadid Architects is also the firm behind the design for Cambodia’s new genocide memorial in Phnom Penh, which is expected to be completed in 2018.

    The building’s concept – inspired by the architecture and interlocking enclosures of the country’s Angkor Wat temple – will be between three and eight storeys high and feature five wooden towers that are separate at ground level but become interwoven as they rise.

    Beijing International Airport, which is about 50 kilometres from the city centre, covers a total floor area of 1.3 million square metres. It was named the world’s largest airport when it was opened in 2008.

    It is the second-busiest airport in the world. More than 86 million domestic and international passengers passed through the airport in 2014.

    The world’s busiest airport, based on the total number of domestic and international passengers, is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It served 96 million passengers last year.

    However, Dubai International Airport is the world’s No.1 international travel hub, gaining the title of the busiest international airport in the world in January this year, overtaking London’s Heathrow.

    Dubai received 70.47 million international passengers in 2014 while Heathrow handled 68.1 million international passengers in 2014. The British hub still outclassed Dubai in overall numbers, handling 73.4 million passengers if travellers on domestic flights were included.