Call us on 1300 794 893

The Experts

Maureen_jordan
Maureen Jordan
Women's Business
+ About Maureen Jordan

About Maureen Jordan

Maureen Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) and a Law Degree (Honours) and has carved a niche in the media to balance her world of work and family.

Her company, the Switzer Group, owns divisions in media and publishing, financial services and business coaching.

During her 20 year involvement in media and publishing, Maureen has held Editor in Chief roles for esteemed publications such as Charter Magazine for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and has authored several books including Women Entrepreneurs, which she wrote for the Federal Office of Women, Small Business Start Up Guide published by Allen & Unwin and Finding And Managing Your Mortgage, Wiley Publishing.

As group publisher of Switzer Media and Publishing, Maureen has initiated and managed the publication of specialty books, magazines and content for some of the country's leading organisations. Clients include Optus, Mortgage & Finance Industry Association, IBM, Hewlett Packard, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, AMP, IP Australia, Yahoo 7, the University of NSW and law firm Griffith Hack.

Such is Maureen's commitment to business that in 1996 she was inducted into the Australian Business Women's Hall of Fame in Melbourne, as well as being a finalist in the Sydney Business Review's Business Women of the Year 2003.

Early in her career, Maureen taught in both the secondary school system - public and private - as well as teaching at the University of New South Wales.

Maureen's knowledge of small business and the economy, combined with her legal skills, has enabled her to not only put a firm footing under her own long established business, but has also given her the credibility to assist others.

10 questions to ask your accountant before June 30

Friday, June 07, 2019

Here are 10 questions to ask your accountant before June 30. I suggest you add any others you think of and take this list with you when you meet with your accountant as soon as possible before the end of this month. This way you can make the most of the meeting that you’ll be paying for – one that hopefully is tax deductible! 

1. Can you give me an idea of what my taxable income will be this financial year? I want to see how much tax I could be paying.

2. OK, it looks like I’m going to pay quite a lot of tax. I’d like to know how I can legally reduce this amount.

3. What contributions should my partner and I be making to superannuation this year?

4. My spouse doesn’t earn very much income and I’ve heard about this co-contribution payment to super. My spouse’s income is less than $38,000. I’ve heard that if I make a contribution of $1,000 to their superannuation that ScoMo will put in $500 as well. Is this true?

5. A friend told me about something called a spousal contribution to super if your income is under $37,000. If I make a $3,000 contribution for my spouse, ScoMo will give me a $540 rebate. Can you explain this to me in more detail but in simple terms?

6. I use my home office all the time for work. Please let me know what expenses I can claim without putting myself in a position where I might have to pay capital gains tax if I sell my home one day.

7. As you know I run a business. It’s a partnership and has been for years and we’ve never discussed whether there’s a better structure. When should I set myself as a company? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Do you have a list of these? What structure would you recommend?

8. Do you have an End of Financial Year checklist that you can give me so I can make sure that I’m claiming everything I’m entitled to claim?

9. It looks like I’m going to pay a lot of tax this year and I don’t have the cash to take advantage of some of the things you recommend doing. It’s too late this year but I want to plan better for the next financial year. Will you please book me in now for a meeting every three or four months to show me how I’m going so I can plan better for the financial year 2020? I don’t want to sit here in 12 months’ time and be in the same position. What will you charge me for these meetings? Who will be in these meetings because I don’t want someone who has limited experience and could be here today, gone tomorrow.

10. I received a call from the Australian Tax Office yesterday on my mobile phone. I hung up because I thought it might be a scam. Would the ATO normally call me like this when your name is down as my accountant? Does the ATO let accountants know about these possible scams so they can advise their clients to hang up immediately and not get sucked in?

| More

 

My halcyon days

Thursday, May 09, 2019

If anyone at the office today asks me how my weekend was, I think I’ll sigh, grasping for words to describe three days of adventures in paradise on the far north coast of New South Wales.

Owning a magazine/website called RUSSH offers lots of opportunities for those with time to pursue them but as I run a financial services business at least 24/5 I rarely have the time to indulge myself on getaways that many would jump at. Believe me, years ago I used to but the last few have been full on.

Reclining for hours on the broad blue and white striped deck chairs surrounding the pool at Halcyon House, Cabarita, was what my father would have described as “better than a chemist’s shop”. The sandy white beach was an arm’s distance away, the sky was true blue and the waves rolled in perfect coils. “Outrageously fantastic” were the words I what’s app’d to my jetsetter friend who tried to tell me that his time on a Greek island was incomparable. Not so. I wouldn’t have jet lag after my mere one-and-a-half-hour trip back to Sydney tomorrow. And I didn’t lose at least 30% of the value of my dollar when I shopped.

Yes, I enjoyed every nano second of this time away but being the dedicated follower of business that I am, what I loved was reflecting on the ingenuity of two sisters, Siobhan and Elisha Bickle, who purchased the former surfing motel in 2011 and transformed it into one of the top 100 boutique hotels in the world. 

Australians who create such beautiful places that enhance the natural environment deserve to be applauded. I admire so much what Justin Hemmes has done with his hotel developments and the Bickle sisters are doing it for themselves – and us!

I felt so inspired that it made me write these 7 points. I love property and if I had spare pots of gold, I’d love to emulate this. But my time is spent developing a different kind of business, for now.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration as you kick off your week, try these ‘lessons’ learnt lounging on the lawn just south of the Queensland border during my three halcyon days.  

1. Get out of your comfort zone. Just stop loafing around and being distracted with things that will never bring you happiness or money.

2. Start imagining what you can do, then make it happen. Make your goals big and daring – dream big. Even if you don’t reach that goal, what you achieve will still be ‘awesome’. Paint a picture for your future — even put it on your screen-saver so you see it daily and don’t forget it — and plan for it. If you’re turning over a million dollars a year today, be thinking of how you’ll be turning over $5 million in five years.

3. Find someone you know who has achieved something significant and who has commitment, courage and passion. They don’t have to be perfect but you can learn from them.

4. Never think you have all the answers. Work very hard at listening – the learning is in the listening.

5. Choose to do something uncomfortable, which may even unsettle you a little. Talk to people who don’t necessarily agree with you. People who have different views to you can challenge you to think more broadly, which helps you grow. Remember, nearly everything we want in life is just outside our comfort zone.

6. You’ll never build a reputation on what you’re going to do. You have to act and do the necessary work with guts. While loafing on the grass on Sunday, I finished a book a friend gave me that opened my mind to new thoughts. If you need help getting motivated, go out and buy a literally little book called MAKE YOUR BED. Written by US Admiral William H. McRaven, his 130 pages drew this response from The Wall Street Journal: “A book to inspire your children and grandchildren to become everything that they can.” It will be good for you too!

7. Laugh and have fun. Success isn’t about money, it’s about people. If people in your life believe in you and your success dream, money will follow.

And one day, treat yourself to two or three days of time out in a place just south of the border, down Cabarita way. It is outrageously fantastic.

| More

 

Barbie, with breasts, led to controversy

Friday, March 08, 2019

Some people become so uncomfortable when talking about money but I’m not one of them. Money gives you choices: where you live, who you’re dependant on, who you can help etc. It can also mean you get to kiss goodbye intolerable life situations because you have the financial freedom to move on!

In the play/film Shirley Valentine, that very sad line emerged where Shirley confessed that she stayed with her husband because it paid the gas bills. Her choices were limited because she was reliant on her husband for money.

The days of being dependant in a relationship are changing.

Today is International Women’s Day. On Saturday, it’s the 60th birthday of that divisive ‘young woman’ called Barbie (born Barbara Millicent Roberts!)

No doll has earned the scorn of feminists more but the irony is that Barbie was created by the late octogenarian Ruth Handler, who, with her husband created the famous toy company Mattel.

Talking on the BBC Witness programme recently, Ruth explained that before Barbie, girls in the US were only allowed to have baby dolls. Barbie, with breasts, led to controversy. And while Ruth’s creation (named after her daughter Barbara) attracted criticism from feminists seeking independence from the shackles of being an appendage to a man, Ruth herself was ostracized by women for hanging out with the men to talk business on social occasions, rather than yapping about kids, food and fashion! Those were the days! 

There has been progress for women who preferred or had to work since Ruth dared to launch Barbie, but money still separates the sexes – pay disparity, women retiring with less super and too few women CEOs of public companies remind us of this. While still needing to be addressed, these issues are progressively, albeit too slowly, improving.

New age women are demanding change and we are seeing it with the likes of the Me Too movement and other groups, who want equity and an end to centuries of unreasonable discrimination.

But this International Women’s Day, we don’t want to deal in comparisons. We want to celebrate women of achievement who add to the positive momentum that we are being recognised more and more for who we are and how we contribute to this world.

In my business I have always employed lots of young women. One thing that stands out in my mind so clearly is the day a group of women said in one united voice: “Where are our role models? We’ve grown tired of these Hollywood glamour queens. We want serious women to be our role models.” Like her or not, Kim Kardashian has a giant business brain and one big innovation we are seeing with Hollywood blockbusters is that they’re often funded by actresses like Jane Fonda, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon etc.

And in the world of entrepreneurship, women are showing the way, with the likes of Arianna Huffington, Janine Allis, JK Rowling and Sophia Amoruso, who with her Nasty Gal and Girlboss Media has a net worth of $280 million!

Putting mammories and long blonde/brunette hair to one side, Barbie changed the notion of dolls, with her character of independence and sensuality. Surely no-one believed Ken was her meal ticket!  (I always thought of Ken as Barbie’s toy boy hand bag and maybe it’s time we defended him come International Men’s Day on November 19!) Barbie has been fighting dissenters for 60 years and whether you like or loathe her, she’s been the highest rating doll of all time! And from what I see these days in toy shops that I frequent with my grandchildren, she’s been through quite a makeover!

And certainly her creator was a role model for aspiring female entrepreneurs.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve put together an eBook on Women & Money. 

In this ebook, we identify women who have bravely smashed the glass ceilings of work and life that made it hard for women to make their mark. To the ones who have beaten the odds, this ebook recognises you and how your story will be so important for other women to learn from your experiences.

Click here to download a copy for yourself or to share with the women you know.

| More

 

Your Questions Answered

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Q. What’s the best — a loan with a redraw facility or a mortgage offset account attached to a loan? Lucy, Taren Point, NSW.

A. An offset account is an account linked to your home loan in such a way that it reduces the amount of interest you have to pay. With a mortgage offset account, you don’t earn interest on your savings but the interest on your savings is used to reduce the amount payable on the loan. Let’s say you have a loan at 5% and an interest rate of 5% on the offset account. If you had $50,000 banked in the account, the $2,500 worth of interest would be deducted off your total interest repayments. So if your loan repayments were supposed to be $20,000 a year, she would only pay $17,500. And because she doesn’t earn interest, there’s no tax slug. Clearly, these mortgage offset accounts work better the more money you have in them. Also you can take money out more easily, provided you keep meeting your monthly repayments. With a redraw facility, you can put extra amounts in but redrawing can sometimes have restrictions on them. Both a mortgage offset and a redraw facility mean that the extra amount you link to your loan reduces the principal owed before interest charges are calculated. Also, some lenders add on fees for these services so you might pay higher effective interest rates because of these extras.

Q. Are there any catches I should be aware of with low interest credit cards? Angie, Windsor, VIC.

A. The lowest credit card rate I could find was Nexus Mutual Low Rate Platinum Credit Card, which has an interest rate on purchases of 6.64%. The real rate is a little higher because there’s an annual fee of $49. If you transfer a balance of debt from another card, there’s a 0% charge for 12 months. Other catches are there is no interest-free period and a $10 late payment fee. You can’t use BPAY to make payments nor an ATM but you can pay on the phone. Oh yes, there’s a limit between $6,000-$8,000. Most of the information you need to make up your mind is available online. These cards don’t offer all the bells and whistles of cards that give you points for flying or buying ‘stuff’ but they do the job and the rate of interest is low compared to others that can slug you with a 20% plus interest rate!

| More

 

What me? Caught watching X-rated videos.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

On Wednesday I received an email that had the subject heading “maureen – george”. 

(The bad grammar has not been changed to not protect the dummies who send these pathetic emails!)

I get a lot of emails but the name George is very special to me so combined with my name I opened this one, even though I’d never heard the name of the sender.

“I know george is your pass. Lets get straight to the purpose. There is no one who has paid me to investigate about you. You do not know me and you are most likely thinking why you are getting this mail?”

Indeed, I was thinking just this. Full of typos as this email was, I was a tad worried as I did have a “pass” that I use for general log in social purposes that has the name of my much loved black Labrador in it – so while the password wasn't the full one, I was intrigued how the word “george” was known. 

The unsolicited email continued:

“Well, i actually placed a software on the adult streaming (sex sites) web-site and there's more, you visited this web site to experience fun (you know what i mean). While you were viewing videos, your browser began operating as a RDP having a key logger which provided me with access to your screen and also web cam. Just after that, my software program gathered your entire contacts from your Messenger, Facebook, and e-mailaccount. Next i created a double video. 1st part shows the video you were viewing (you've got a nice taste ; )), and next part displays the view of your web cam, and its u.”

Now I always try to see the lighter side of things so I looked over the top of my glasses and said jokingly to my rather well-known partner: “Have you been logging into these porn sites with my password?” Wondering what I meant (but not denying it!), he sat closer to me to see what I was reading. 

“You have just two choices,” the email from the mysterious Robbyn Opanasets (ogojannaplf@outlook.com) continued. “Let us review these choices in details:”

Well I probably should have bailed out at this point. Curiosity is supposed to kill the cat but I’ve never seen one die by this means, so I read on:

“Very first solution is to just ignore this email. Then, i most certainly will send your very own recorded material to each one of your contacts and also think concerning the awkwardness you will get. and likewise should you be in a romance, how this will affect?”

Mmmm…bad grammar but seriously, would my contacts really be startled by what the email described as “you’ve got a nice taste” selection? So I continued reading!

“in the second place solution would be to give me 7000 USD. i will name it as a donation. as a consequence, i most certainly will straight away discard your video. You can keep your life like this never happened and you would never hear back again from me.” 

Mmm…donation. I wonder if that would be tax deductible? I should call Fred (my accountant) about that but let me see where this is going…

“You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know this, search 'how to buy bitcoin' in Google). BTC address to send to: 1EzcNKDed7XpcEb2LRrx4U8WrHf8dRecQS 

[CaSe-SeNSiTiVe so copy & paste it]. 

“if you may be making plans for going to the police, good, this e-mail can not be traced back to me. I have dealt with my moves. i am just not trying to ask you for very much, i would like to be compensated. You now have 48 hours to pay. i've a special pixel within this email, and at this moment i know that you have read this message. if i don't get the BitCoins, i will certainly send out your video recording to all of your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, etc. However, if i do get paid, i will destroy the video right away. if you need evidence, reply Yup then i will certainly send out your video recording to your 12 friends. it is a nonnegotiable offer, that being said please do not waste mine time and yours by responding to this message.”

Payment by bitcoin? Not sure if I know how to do this but Peter might be able to help. Could I trust Robbyn though to “destroy the video right away”? So many things to think about…

Now you know that I’m taking the mickey out of this scammer and 48 hours have passed and my family haven’t called me in disgust at my new found past time. But these kinds of emails are disturbing, and could suck in some people. 

After writing yesterday about a young woman who was actually ensnared by a scammer, I received comments from readers that said:

“Q. What is done to arrest or curtail these scammers and fraudsters?

A. Nothing.

The ATO knows it is going on but it is too difficult to track down. The scammers are on Skype or VOIP. It appears that Interpol is not interested because it is happening in other countries as well e.g. USA.”

I’ve been talking with police and others who deal in cyber crime and in the next episode of “Meet the Scammer” I’ll try to get answers to the question immediately above. Are these fraudsters as elusive as Osama Bin Laden? Why can’t they be found? Stay tuned! 

| More

 

Want more out of life? Try these 7 things

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Start the week with a positive attitude. Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow never comes. All you have right now is “the now” so toss yourself into it. Start developing good habits today. Write down your goals for the week. Check your progress each evening and revisit your goals every morning. Here are 7 simple steps to success:

1. Go online and commence a yoga course, learn a new language, take a surfing lesson. Commence a good habit now that will help you develop physical and/or mental fitness. Get your online or paper calendar out and put the weekly lessons/times into your diary. Do this for just one month and build a habit slowly if you must. “When you schedule it, it’s real,” says performance coach Anthony Robbins.

2. Get out of your own skin. Talk to people. Ask them about their weekend. Show genuine interest by listening not talking about yourself. Ask more questions. Watch how happy successful people interact with others and learn to mimic their behaviour until it becomes more natural to you.

3. Never think of yourself as too old, too fat, too depressed to get out and do things that will make you happy and give you a better life. “Create a vision and never let the environment, other people’s beliefs or the limits of what has been done in the past shape your decisions. Ignore conventional wisdom, ” says Robbins.

4. Go for a walk/run during your lunch break. Most offices have showers if you do decide to do something more strenuous. Sit by the ocean, the river, in a park. Take in your natural surroundings. Come back refreshed for an afternoon of solid work and learning.

5. Pass by the fatty foods, canned soft drinks, sugar filled treats for real food and water that your body needs. Go now and listen to Dr Ross Walker’s excellent videos on health and well being on this website. The guy is a walking, talking medical genius and funny to boot.

6. Call a friend or someone you haven’t seen for a while and book in a time to meet. Have you ever said to someone “We must catch up,” but you’ve never called? Start following up – or don’t tell people you’d like to see them in the first place if you don’t mean it. Keep your word.

7. Toss out 3 things you’ve been hanging on to for no good reason. Unclutter your life bit by bit.

Keep repeating steps 1 to 7 until they become habits that will lift your performance and your well being. Remember, the person who doesn’t think they need better habits, better skills and a happier life is the person who desperately needs to embrace change.

| More

 

I’m from the ATO and I’m coming to arrest you.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

This is Part 1 of our story on scamming and the financial and emotional effects it has on innocent Australians. Only the names have been withheld to protect the innocent. 

“I was left a voicemail message from a man claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office,” Ms X said.

“The voicemail stated the Australian Tax Office had found a fraudulent amount in my tax from 2012-2017, a mistake made by either myself or my previous employer. I was told they had sent out a warrant for my arrest. The scary thing is, these people knew my name, date of birth, my home address, and even where I work (which isn’t advertised anywhere public).

“I immediately rang this number back, as I didn’t think scams normally leave a voicemail.

These people continued to tell me I had to pay an amount of $4,000 to erase the warrant. I immediately panicked, as I didn’t have this amount in my immediate bank account, and all reasonable thoughts went out the window.”

Ms X was told to go to an ANZ bank and deposit the money straight into a specified account.

“I thought it sounded very official, as I kept being transferred to people who I thought were solicitors. I also went into absolute panic mode, as at the beginning of the conversation I was told my phone had been tapped and that I couldn’t tell anyone, otherwise I would be arrested straight away.” 

Ms X tried to call the ATO to confirm the call but was placed in a queue, and her anxiety was intensifying.

“I waited on the phone for over 20 minutes and didn’t want to risk if this was true, so I hung up from being in a queue to the ATO and rang the number back. What was truly sickening about this call, is that I was in absolute hysterics, crying and hyperventilating to these people on the phone, thinking I was about to get arrested.

“I was told “it’s fine, darling, just take deep breaths, as long as we’re on the phone to you no-one can harm you”. 

Ms X said that on reflection, the thought that people could still go through with this, while someone was so distressed, disgusts her.

“The scammers “settled” for a much lesser amount after three hours of being in absolute hysterics on the phone to them,” she said.

Miss X learned later that this was indeed a scam and has since spoken to the police and the ATO. While wanting to remain anonymous, she asked that her story be told because she didn’t want this to happen to someone else.

Tomorrow’s story involves an innocent woman who was told that she’d been caught watching X-rated movies and would be publicly exposed if she didn’t pay up! These are true stories. The author asks: what is done to arrest or curtail these scammers and fraudsters?

| More

 

Firm spending in the lead-up to Christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Last week I was in the Baytree, an upmarket homewares shop in Sydney’s east, described on Facebook as “an institution in kitchenware and dining, a mecca to delight every cook.”. Owned for many years by a long-standing friend of mine, who works tirelessly like most small business owners, Susan went through the movement from store to online shopping, braved the challenges that the GFC put before us, battled gruesome landlords and engaged in the endless search for great staff. And she lives to tell the tale, one that has seen a smile on her face of late. When I asked her how business was, she nodded continuously and said, for the first time in few years, “Great.” And with more nodding. “Yes, great.” 

One swallow doesn’t a summer make, that’s true. But this morning I opened my emails to find a report out from the Commonwealth bank that led with the title “Firm spending in the lead-up to Christmas.”

In the last few days, like me, you might have noticed that shoppers are out there engaging in Christmas festivities. Hairdressers are booked out (I know this because the recent humidity has turned my mop into a ball of frizz and I’m needing some help on this front). Restaurants have no space. Have you tried to book an airline flight recently? Good luck! Cabs whizz by and shops are full of people, if not buying then at least browsing. 

“Consumers and businesses continue to spend. The strength of the broader economy, especially the job market, is supporting spending as is positive sentiment and benign inflation,” the Commonwealth Bank Business Sales Indicator (BSI) reported.

“The growth pace started lifting in March 2017 and over the period from November 2017 to July 2018 the BSI consistently recorded monthly gains of between 0.9-1.3% a month. Growth in sales has held between 0.6-0.8% a month for the past four months, still above the long-term average pace of 0.4%,” it went on.

The BSI is obtained by tracking the value of credit and debit card transactions processed through the Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities. It includes transactions made at traditional retail establishments such as supermarkets, clothing stores and cafes and restaurants. The Indicator also covers businesses such as airlines, car dealers and utilities such as water and electricity companies as well as motels, business, professional and government services and wholesalers. So it’s fairly comprehensive and more regular.

Hopefully, retailers are encouraged by recent spending trends in the lead-up to Christmas. And while you might think this buoyancy will put pressure on domestic interest rates to rise, AMP is still of the belief that the next movement in rates will be down, while CommSec continues to expect stable interest rate settings until late in 2019.

| More

 

The accidental investor

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Meet AC-2, a talented young individual who started at Switzer with a lot of knowledge about film, video and photography and an attitude of team work and positivity. AC-2 had been employed by a multinational company but was looking for a change. They say it takes a genius to spot talent and I saw the talent in AC-2 from the get go – so read what you want into that!

We hired AC-2 on attitude and for that he got a big tick. As for knowledge about finance, much to his Dad’s lament, there just wasn’t much there – though he’s the rule not the exception. His job was behind the camera not in front like Peter Switzer so we didn’t see that as a problem.

At the interview he did intimate that he had a willingness to learn, and that’s exactly what he has done.

Last Friday, after filming our inaugural education class on the previous Tuesday, AC-2 announced that before Christmas he was going to buy an exchange traded fund.

This a guy who had no idea what an ETF was until he started hanging out with Peter and Paul (Rickard) with a pile of camera gear and lights. However, he had two characteristics that were always going to help him win.

The first was that he was aspirational and the second, he has a willingness to change, which of course, keeps him open to positive influences of a Switzer kind.

There’s an old proverb with a modern take that goes like this: “Keep company with the wise and you will become wise. If you make friends with stupid people, you will be ruined.”

AC-2 has not only hung out with a wise Switzer and Rickard, he’s had the benefit of filming and listening to the likes of Gerry Harvey, Tim Gurner, Charlie Aitken, Shane Oliver, Geoff Wilson and countless successful investors and entrepreneurs and he has been learning from some of the best.

And there’s been a family pay-off, with his admission that he and his Dad are now talking investments. I can’t recall who first made this clever observation but it’s so appropriate to the story of AC-2. “A young man should have a hobby and collecting money is a real good one.”

Few of us increase our wealth through luck and when you look at the Rich List, few have got theirs from being a CEO of a public or private company, unless they were big owner/shareholders.

The Rich Lists in The Australian shows wealth comes from starting businesses, investing in property, IT and other assets such as shares.

AC-2 has been paid to hang out with some of the best money collectors this country has seen. And he often hears Peter quote the famous line from the comedian Sophie Tucker, who once reflected on her life and said: “I’ve been rich. I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”

We can learn about investing many ways. Most people can learn to be independently wealthy if they’re exposed to the right kind of influences.

| More

 

Lest we forget

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Last Sunday was a beautiful sunny day in the small country town of Blackheath, less than two hours drive west of Sydney. On the second Sunday of the month, there’s a growers market that attracts suppliers and health-oriented customers from all the bordering towns. We spend a fair bit of time in the Blue Mountains and particularly in Blackheath – it’s a relatively short drive but a far cry from the hectic pace of Sydney life.

It was also a Day of Remembrance, a day we call Armistice Day.  It marked the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War 1, described by H.G. Wells in 1914 as “the war to end all wars”.

In this small park, the monthly venue for this alternative market, stood Corporal Tom Newkirk. The shrine of Remembrance borders the park and the highway and as we strolled near it, with our bags full of organic fruit and vegetables, our sour dough hand-kneaded bread, sugar-free fig and chocolate jam and other products carefully made with the same care of a bygone era, the crowd was gathering. It quickly became obvious that speeches were about to begin and Corporal Newkirk, who fought for his country in Afghanistan, dressed in uniform decorated with numerous honours, obvious signs of courage in battle, stepped towards the microphone to begin his tribute to those who had fallen, giving us the ability to stroll peacefully around markets, sipping coffee and listening to music.

Tom Newkirk joined the Army later than most, at 26, but it had always been in his family. His father, both grandfathers, grandmother and great grandparents all served their country.

This is Tom’s speech:

“I feel very privileged to be speaking on this Remembrance Day. The 100th Anniversary of Armistice day. Where on the 11th of the 11th 1918, the guns fell silent after four horrific years of war.

We’re here today to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices. Thinking of the heroes who join us in this group today and those who are here only in spirit, a person can’t help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter. We stand in the midst of patriots and the family and friends of those who have nobly served.

The Greek philosopher Thusidides once said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

The service members we honour today came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting. They rose to the call to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them, us, so much.

In my early military years in training as a solider and then as combat medic, I trained hard alongside so many good mates, and, this is where I met my wife. Military life wasn’t easy. It tested me. The extreme heat, the heavy backpacks and rifles, the extremely long hours and the time away from family and friends. It was in the Army I learned about resilience, fortitude, pride, courage and integrity. About Comradeship, brotherhood and my new-found military family.

Later I served in Afghanistan with the Australian Special Forces, deploying with the 2nd Commando Regiment and again found myself away from my family and friends, in the heat, carrying extremely heavy loads and fighting alongside my brothers. I was now married and expecting my first child, a son. It was in Afghanistan I probably came closest to experiencing what the soldiers who had gone before me a long time ago experienced, however the conditions of my service when compared to theirs was very different. We had regular food, sanitary water, regular resupply of ammunition and other stores and were able to be relieved from the front line at a moment’s notice. Upon return to Australia, we have been treated with compassion and cared for by the Defence Force…. Another crucial component of service not afforded the Australian heroes that served before me. But today is not about me.

On this Remembrance Day, I’m reminded that we share one crucial thing…we both took into battle the values and ideals that we as Australians hold dear today. For example, the importance of teamwork and the way we look out for each other; The Australian sarcastic humour; the opportunities we have to teach our children; a community fresh food market; a BBQ and a beer.

My time away reinforced my belief that this country we live in, is the best country in the world.

Today, people throughout our country will gather together to remember, to honour, and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country. Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day. It’s not a lot, but it’s one small way we can honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom.

Your presence here today and that of the people gathering all across Australia is a tribute to those lost troops and to their Families.

It is a way to say, we remember you.

From the Soldiers who shivered and starved through the winter, crouched in the muddy trenches of France, to the platoon who patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam, and the young man or woman patrolling the mountains between Indonesia and Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all.

In short, I would like to remember what they fought for. They fought for this country, Australia.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak, and I can say I’m proud to be Australian and to have served for my country alongside those who have gone before me but never came home.

We will remember them. Lest we forget.”

It would take a hard heart not to be moved by such words from a young man who risked his life so we can stroll freely.  I know we say and hear “Lest we forget” on occasions such as Anzac Day and Armistice Day but for the rest of my life I will never forget Tom Newkirk, who took me out of my daily complacency to think about the heroes who have gone out to meet danger for us — a danger I’d not thought about deeply until the 11th of the 11th in a park in Blackheath. Financial markets rise and fall. Prime Ministers and Presidents come and go. But men and women who face the horrors of war and too often fall, should never be forgotten.

| More

 

MORE ARTICLES

Pre-Cup Pony Tales

Put the bat down, Wendy

Crazy rich Asians + the Aussie property market.

Oh no, caught again, this time “soloing”.

All my friends are getting married

Malcolm called Wentworth

Want to be richer and more confident?

Coles splits from Wesfarmers

Do we really care about first homebuyers?

Interest rates: up, down or stay the same?

Mortgage stress: who’s feeling it the most?

We built this business on rock‘n’roll

The Voice and The Biggest Loser

The return of the ‘nasty little bitch’

Who’s the “nasty little bitch”?

Do you suffer from FoMo?

The Apple of your eye

Meet the woman behind Peter Switzer

Our 10 money rules for Christmas

Summer reads - what I'm reading now

Give shopkeepers a chance

An artless response to Clover's Cloud

Make an impression

On super

Beyond politics

The idiot box

The babysitter's club

A brush with celebrity

The politics of politics – tall poppies and Stepford wives

Men behaving badly

Is the RBA acting in your interest?

The magazine whisper

Sliding doors and business breaks

Big business behaving badly

Help! You need somebody

A little less conversation

A Russh of business

A bite out of the Big Apple

The elephant in the room

Gail Kelly - superwoman or simply a super banker?

Are you being served?

Equal of any man - but what about any woman?

Handle the truth

Take the credit

Table for one

Independance, at all levels

The Cinderella complex

The crying game

Sex, lies and blog posts

Women in focus

Look what they done to my brain, Ma

Sisters are doin’ it to themselves

Gimme, gimme, gimme (a man after midnight)

Bonfire of the Vanities

Never miss a sale

Get up, stand up

From orphan to entrepreneur extraordinaire

Why do women shy from the limelight?

Ms Entrepreneur




Pixel_admin_thumb_300x300 Pixel_admin_thumb_300x300 Pixel_admin_thumb_300x300






-->