Beijing: Ten days ago, amid a lull in rockets, it seemed the diplomats were making headway, and a Beijing-brokered return to the negotiating table with North Korea was on the cards.
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson even said so.

Beijing had backed tough economic sanctions, and appointed a new point man.

So what happens now, after Kim Jong-un’s provocative firing of a ballistic missile over northern Japan, the first since 2009? Japanese subway stations blared warnings to take cover.

Analysts say it could be Kim and Trump are tussling to define the parameters of any talks. Muscling up, North Korea wants the world to accept it as a nuclear state.

“This is mostly a duel between Trump and Kim Jong-un, but both have left the back door open to a deal,” says John Delury, a professor of international relations at Seoul’s Yonsei University.

He says Tillerson’s comments last week that North Korea was showing pleasing “restraint”, as the US and South Korea proceeded with a military drill opposed by Kim, have “boomeranged and hit him in the face”.

While the choice of a Japan launch was “a bolt from the blue”, he says it is the unrelenting pace of North Korea’s missile tests that is unnerving the world.

Renmin University’s professor of international relations, Shi Yinhong, sees the missile trajectory over Japan’s northern Hokkaido as a bluff.

“He will not take action that is suicidal and will not destroy a part of Japan. But he can make a bluff to force the other side to finally accept North Korea as a nuclear state. Negotiations would then be about North Korea becoming more peaceful and having a more reasonable foreign policy,” said Professor Shi, an advisor to China’s State Council.

Both analysts agree that Washington, Seoul and Beijing are in a hard situation.

South Korean parliament was told on Monday that North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear site appears to have been prepared for a nuclear test.

“This is a very difficult diplomatic situation for China,” said Professor Shi.

He said the threat of military action talked up by Trump over the past three months has failed as a strategy.

“No-one has any plausible or convincing solution … China, under US pressure, has used up almost all of its leverage, up to cutting oil supply, yet there is no indication that North Korea has changed track. On the other hand, North Korea is becoming more and more hateful against China.”

Professor Delury says North Korea’s hyperbolic statements have left open that it could negotiate – but in the context of the US ending its “hostility”.

As for what next, he says in Washington there is a view “this could be Kim’s last little spasm because he is worried about sanctions hitting”.

Washington will wait, he says.

“The idea is Kim Jong-un will come to us [the US] … But from Kim’s perspective, he is doing the same thing. If there are negotiations it’s because you guys [the Americans] want it more than me. His country will bear the sanctions.”

In South Korea, the new liberal President Moon Jae-in, who had pledged to open the door to dialogue with North Korea and revive inter-Korean exchanges and trade, is instead falling into the trap of his predecessors of threatening a tougher line at each rebuff from Pyongyang, Delury says.

This is playing into North Korea’s game.

“It is very reactive now.”

Labor MP Andrew Leigh is one of the authors of the study. Photo: Rohan ThomsonPolitical Insider: Sign up for our newsletter
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It’s no easier to move from rags to riches in than it used to be, and no easier than anywhere else.

That’s the surprising finding from a new study of intergenerational mobility that negates the traditional wisdom that it’s twice as easy to get ahead in as in Britain or the United States.

The new study has created ‘s first very long run estimates of social mobility, using data on rare surnames among doctors and university graduates from 1870 to the present.

“What we find is that even although some apples might fall away from the tree, they have a tendency to roll back,” said one of the authors, Andrew Leigh, a former professor of economics and a Labor member of parliament. “In other words, a rich grandparent might have a poor son, but the grandkids may end up closer to their grandparents’ social status.”

With Melbourne University economist Mike Pottenger??? and the author of an American study of surnames, Gregory Clark from the University of California, Davis, Dr Leigh has compiled a list of the rarest surnames among the graduates of Sydney and Melbourne universities between 1870 and 1899.

Among the 500 rare surnames are A’Beckett, Brissenden, Clubb, Westacott and Zwar.

He then examined the electoral roles from 1903 on to determine the occupational status of voters with those names. He finds that even in recent years they are much more likely to be in elite professions than people with names such as Smith.

A separate examination of graduation records from Sydney and Melbourne universities found that even today people with the rare surnames of earlier graduates are 76 per cent more likely to obtain university degrees than people with names such as Smith.

Another examination of rare surnames among the doctors listed on the 1875 n Medical Pioneers Index held by the State Library of Victoria found that even today people with those names are 28 per cent more likely to be doctors than the rest of the population.

The study concludes that the intergenerational correlation of status is a very high 0.7, twice as high as found in earlier father-son studies, and about as high as in Britain and the United States. A correlation of 0.7 means the status of earlier ns explains 70 per cent of the status of their descendents.

The correlation has changed little over time.

Dr Leigh himself conducted one of the earlier father-son studies in 2007 and wrote at the time that “n society exhibits more intergenerational mobility than the United States”.

His findings were used by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann??? in a speech to the Sydney Institute this month to claim that when it came to providing opportunity to succeed in life through effort and hard work ranked “ahead of other significant countries including the UK, the US, Switzerland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Sweden”.

Dr Leigh told Fairfax Media that his earlier study was about what happened in a single generation. The new study was about what happened across multiple generations. There appeared to be a “surprising degree of persistence” at the top.

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AFR 4 October 2008. AFR 4 October 2008. Caltex service station Hazelbrook NSW. Generic Fuel petrol Infurstracture Pic Sasha Woolley SPECIAL 0000Caltex’s ranks of company-run corporate stores is growing at an accelerated pace as the oil giant’s pursuit of wage fraud amongst in its network of service stations runs in parallel with a complete review of its retail operations.
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On Tuesday, the oil giant Caltex revealed it had taken over the running of more than 80 service stations after discovering potential underpayment issues, as part of its half-year results announcement.

The company has been trying to investigate and stamp out wage fraud, after a Fairfax Media investigation showed widespread worker exploitation among some store networks.

Over the past 12 months the number of company-run stores has increased by almost 70 per cent, as Caltex absorbs those franchisees who have left the network over wage fraud issues and makes new acquisitions.

In June last year Caltex operated just 138 stores. By December that number had grown to 152. And by June this year it had grown again to 233.

Meanwhile the number of franchisee-run stores has fallen from 645 in June 2016, to 641 in December and 572 in June 2017.

The bulk of these changes have resulted from franchisees who have exited after being audited for wage fraud, however some may have resulted from the acquisition of new stores.

The cost of combating wage fraud has also taken a toll. It’s half-year results show the contribution of non-fuel income fell 14 per cent to $72 million, weighed down by the transition costs of existing franchisees with underpayment issues.

Income from franchise fees fell by $2.6 million, royalty income was down $2.5 million, while fee relief to struggling franchisees increased.

Caltex has pledged to investigate all its franchise stores to get a handle on the extent of wage fraud in its network. In May, Fairfax Media revealed almost 80 per cent of stores audited in the first phase of the investigation, were underpaying their staff.

The company said at the time the high rate was not unexpected because it started with those operations where it had suspicions wage fraud had occurred.

Tuesday the company said by July, 107 sites had been “transitioned” from existing franchisees, but only 35 had been re-franchised.

It comes as the company announced a review of its operating model, which will include looking at its franchise network.

Called “Quantum Leap”, the review will be looking at all aspects of the business including the proportion of stores run by the company and the proportion run by franchisees

“It is fundamental review of the way we do business,”chief executive Julian Segal said Tuesday.

“Nothing is off the table.”

Mr Segal however said there was no link between Quantum Leap and increased corporate store ownership count resulting from franchisees existing the system over underpayment concerns.

“There is no correlation between the outcome of what we are doing in terms of fixing the fraud issue that has been perpetuated by some of our franchisees,” he said.

“The question of how many sites we run … is in the realms of Quantum Leap.”

Terminating a franchisee enables Caltex to take back a store for a fraction of its market price. This has led some aggrieved franchisees to accuse the company of using the underpayment to cheaply bolster its corporate-store numbers.

In one case revealed by Fairfax Media last year, a franchisee was terminated from seven stores, which he estimates were worth $5 million on the secondary market if sold to another franchisee.

In the past Caltex has denied this. Mr Segal previously said terminating franchisees was a costly exercise and even when it did occur, franchisees were remunerated for their assets.

The “Buddy effect” and Sydney’s rags to riches tilt at the flag are proving a box-office hit, with the Swans faithful flocking to the club in numbers rivalling the Tony Lockett-era.
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Sports fans love a tale of redemption and the Swans’ recovery from near oblivion to become a genuine premiership contender is no different.

The Swans, with an average of 33,397 per game, fell only a few hundred short of matching last year’s home crowds, making the last two seasons among the most well patronised in the club’s history. They rank behind only 2006-07 and 1997, when Lockett was at his pomp.

The club’s pulling power was evident in its final three games at the SCG, with crowds averaging 38,000 to see the Swans continue their September charge against lowly ranked clubs St Kilda, Fremantle and Carlton.

They have also been a prime-time TV success, featuring in four of the top-10 rating games of the season.

“Once the team started to get on a roll it’s that added interest with not much margin for error,” Swans chief Andrew Ireland said.

“As it turned we were good enough to get there. When you look back and see no team has ever done it from 0-6 it is a unique season. Winning 14 out of 16 is a good run.”

A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected to pour through the turnstiles next weekend to see the Swans take on Essendon in a cut-throat final.

The SCG Trust believes the pulling power of superstar forward Lance Franklin, who arrived in 2014 on a mammoth $10 million contract, has helped put bums on seats.

“The Swans draw the most fans and have the largest average crowd of any of the football teams in Sydney,” SCG Trust chief Jamie Barkley said.

“And the Buddy effect means that fans come from every corner of Sydney regardless of the weather, the draw or the other reasons that keep them in front of the TV for rival clubs and codes.

“We’ve had more than 367,000 people through the gates this season, including the eight millionth Swans fan since the club relocated to the SCG 35 years ago.

“The atmosphere with 40,000-plus for the final will be as good as anything you’d see in n sport.”

The Swans are keen to downplay Franklin’s influence and believe their ability to regularly contend for the flag under John Longmire has been a major factor behind their popularity.

“You couldn’t say a player like Lance doesn’t help get people through the gate,” Ireland said. “People are coming to watch AFL footy games hoping for a great contest and for players to do what they do best.

“When Lance is on he clearly adds to that capacity from our team.

“The thing I’d stress is he’s part of a team, the fact the team has played finals regularly and three grand finals in five years is a big influence.”

The Swans have also become must-see viewing for football lovers around the country. Their clash against Adelaide was the most-watched Friday night game of the home-and-away season, proving again that it’s not only the big Melbourne-based clubs that can pull an audience.

“We now have a true national competition. People know when it’s a good game – that was typified by the game in Adelaide,” Ireland said.

“The ratings were strong all around . The AFL will be really pleased it doesn’t matter which teams are playing as long as they are playing well.”

has vowed to help exert “increasing pressure” on North Korea after the rogue regime launched an apparent ballistic capable of carrying a nuclear warhead across Japan, pushing tensions to their highest level yet in the Korean crisis.
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined other world leaders in swiftly condemning the “reckless, dangerous and provocative act”, which came despite a looming wave of fresh economic sanctions against the regime.

” will continue to work with all our partners, including the United States, Japan, South Korea and China, to bring increasing pressure on North Korea to end its dangerous behaviour, which poses such a threat to the security of our region and of the world,” Mr Turnbull said.

A woman walks past a TV screen broadcasting news of North Korea’s missile launch in Tokyo. Photo: AP

Experts were generally pessimistic about the chance the West has to find some peaceful way to reverse the course of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who they said is moving ever closer to becoming a fully-fledged nuclear power.

While the timing of the test and its strategic purpose was widely discussed, many experts said the regime was simply marching ahead with its testing program and other considerations were secondary.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe branded the latest launch of what appeared to be a new Hwasong-12 ballistic missile an “unprecedented” threat to his country and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

South Korea carried out its most aggressive military show of force in recent times by conducting a live-fire drill in the form of F-15 fighter bombing runs to demonstrate “overwhelming force” it said could destroy “the enemy’s leadership”.

The missile flew about 2700 kilometres, meaning if it had been fired from Sydney it would have easily cleared New Zealand.

The test prompted warnings about miscalculations sparking conflict. Japan’s Ambassador to , Sumio Kusaka, said that “of course there is always a danger of miscalculation”, which was all the more reason to pressure Pyongyang to stop.

John Blaxland, a defence and strategic expert with the n National University, said: “The next time they do something like this, there’s no guarantee that even if they aim for the sea of Japan, that they might not hit land.”

Japan would then be compelled to respond, he said.

Mr Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – who discussed the North Korean launch at a scheduled meeting of Cabinet’s national security committee meeting on Tuesday – both used the North Korean missile test to praise China’s recent participation in tough economic sanctions.

But Mr Turnbull also demanded China do more, saying that it had “unique economic leverage over North Korea and with that greatest leverage comes the greatest responsibility and we urge Beijing to use it, to bring this North Korean regime to its senses.”

In an earlier radio interview, Mr Turnbull said that “China has to ratchet up the pressure”.

The latest sanctions, which have not fully kicked in yet, include a Chinese ban on imports of North Korean resources such as iron ore, coal, lead and seafood – seen as the toughest yet as it could slash the hermit state’s export revenue by a third according to some predictions.

Ms Bishop said some of the sanctions would not come into effect until early September, but they would have a “serious impact on North Korea and we hope it will make it change its risk calculation”.

She said that stood “ready to support Japan at any time”.

But some experts were less confident that the sanctions would have much effect, with Euan Graham, director of international security at the Lowy Institute, saying this was “unduly optimistic”.

“I don’t see an indication that North Korea is about to suddenly abandon course or come back to the table.”

Dr Graham and others said Mr Kim was clearly determined first and foremost to have a full nuclear weapons program. He said the focus on timing and the provocative aims “neglect the obvious point that this is just getting them down the track”, though Pyongyang tended to use its scheduled tests as a way to gain some political advantage both internationally and domestically.

Dr Blaxland said that “North Korea is on the path not only to get the ballistic weapons, but go nuclear, and the failure of the United States to do anything about this reinforces a sense that maybe Japan does need to do nuclear”.

That in turn could provoke South Korea to go nuclear.

Japan would likely in the shorter term ramp up its missile defence, Dr Blaxland said.

This would also worry Beijing because it justified Mr Abe’s more assertive military posture which, while partly aimed at North Korea, was also aimed at China.