19 billionaires who used to be dirt poor

Born into poverty, Oprah Winfrey became the first African American TV correspondent in Nashville. Photo: Don ArnoldNot every billionaire was born with a silver spoon in their mouth.
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In fact, many came from nothing at all.

The “rags-to-riches” trope may be a cliché, but it’s one that’s definitely grounded in reality. Through extraordinary grit and perseverance, individuals across the globe have beaten the odds and achieved their own rags-to-riches stories.

Here are 19 people who started off life poor and went on to become billionaires. 1. Howard Schultz

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz grew up in a housing complex for the poor.

Net worth: $US2.9 billion ($3.8 billion)

In an interview with the Mirror, Schultz says: “Growing up I always felt like I was living on the other side of the tracks.

“I knew the people on the other side had more resources, more money, happier families. And for some reason, I don’t know why or how, I wanted to climb over that fence and achieve something beyond what people were saying was possible.

“I may have a suit and tie on now, but I know where I’m from and I know what it’s like.”

Schultz ended up winning a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan and went to work for Xerox after graduation. Shortly after, he took over a coffee shop called Starbucks, which at the time had only 60 shops.

Schultz became the company’s CEO in 1987 and grew the coffee chain to more than 16,000 outlets worldwide. 2. Oprah Winfrey

Born into poverty, Oprah Winfrey became the first African American TV correspondent in Nashville.

Net worth: $US2.9 billion

Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi, but this didn’t stop her from winning a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first African American TV correspondent in the state at the age of 19.

In 1983, Winfrey moved to Chicago to work for an AM talk show which would later be called The Oprah Winfrey Show. 3. Mohed Altrad 

Montpellier rugby club president and Entrepreneur of the Year Mohed Altrad survived on one meal a day when he moved to France.

Net worth: $US1.03 billion

Born into a nomadic tribe in the Syrian dessert to a poor mother who was raped by his father and died when he was young, Altrad was raised by his grandmother. She banned him from attending school in Raqqa, the city that is now the capital of ISIS.

Altrad attended school anyway. When he moved to France to attend university he knew no French and lived off of one meal a day.

Still, he earned a PhD in computer science, worked for some leading French companies and eventually bought a failing scaffolding company, which he transformed into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of scaffolding and cement mixers, Altrad Group.

He has previously been named French Entrepreneur of the Year and World Entrepreneur of the Year. 4. Kenny Troutt

Kenny Troutt, the founder of Excel Communications, paid his way through college by selling life insurance.

Net worth: $US1.41 billion

Troutt grew up with a bartender dad and paid for his own tuition at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance.

He made most of his money from phone company Excel Communications, which he founded in 1988 and took public in 1996. Two years later, Troutt merged his company with Teleglobe in a $US3.5 billion deal.

He’s now retired and invests heavily in racehorses. 5. Roman Abramovich

Russian business tycoon and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was born into poverty and orphaned at age two.

Net worth: $US8.4 billion

Abramovich was born into poverty in southern Russia. After being orphaned at age two, he was raised by an uncle and his family in a subarctic region of northern Russia.

While a student at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute in 1987, he started a small company producing plastic toys, which helped him eventually found an oil business and make a name for himself within the oil industry.

Later, as sole leader of the Sibneft company, he completed a merger that made it the fourth biggest oil company in the world. The company was sold to state-run gas titan Gazprom in 2005 for for $US13 billion.

He acquired the Chelsea Football Club in 2003 and owns the world’s largest yacht, which cost him almost $US400 million in 2010. 6. Ken Langone

Investor Ken Langone’s parents worked as a plumber and cafeteria worker.

Net worth: $US2.8 billion

To help pay for Langone’s school at Bucknell University, he worked odd jobs and his parents mortgaged their home.

In 1968, Langone worked with Ross Perot to take Electronic Data Systems public. (It was later acquired by HP.) Just two years later, he partnered with Bernard Marcus to start Home Depot, which also went public in 1981. 7. John Paul DeJoria

John Paul DeJoria, the man behind a hair-care empire and Patron Tequila, once lived in a foster home and his car.

Net worth: $US3.1 billion

Before the age of 10, DeJoria, a first generation American, sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home and even spent some time in a gang before joining the military.

With a $US700 loan, DeJoria created John Paul Mitchell Systems and sold the shampoo door-to-door while living in his car. He later started Patron Tequila and now invests in other industries. 8. Shahid Khan

At one time, businessman Shahid Khan washed dishes for $US1.20 an hour.

Net worth: $US6.7 billion

He’s now one of the richest people in the world, but when Khan came to the US from Pakistan, he worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois.

Khan now owns Flex-N-Gate, one of the largest private companies in the US, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and Premier League soccer club Fulham. 9. Do Won Chang

Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop when he first moved to America.

Net worth: $US2.8 billion

The husband-and-wife team — Do Won Chang and Jin Sook — behind Forever 21 didn’t always have it so easy. After moving to America from Korea in 1981, Do Won had to work three jobs at the same time to make ends meet. They opened their first clothing store in 1984.

Forever 21 is now an international, 480-store empire that rakes in about $US3 billion in sales a year. 10. Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at Brooks Brothers.

Net worth: $US5.8 billion

Lauren graduated high school in the Bronx, New York, but later dropped out of college to join the army.

It was while working as a clerk at Brooks Brothers that Lauren questioned whether men were ready for wider and brighter designs in ties. The year he decided to make his dream a reality, 1967, Lauren sold $US500,000 of ties. He started Polo the next year. 11. Lakshmi Mittal

Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal came from modest beginnings in India.

Net worth: $US13.3 billion

A 2009 BBC article says the ArcelorMittal CEO and chairman, who was born in 1950 to a poor family in the Indian state of Rajasthan, “established the foundations of his fortune over two decades by doing much of his business in the steel industry equivalent of a discount warehouse”.

Today, Mittal runs the world’s largest steel-making company and is a multibillionaire. 12. Francois Pinault

Luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault quit high school in 1974 after being bullied for being poor.

Net worth: $US14.6 billion

Pinault is now the face of fashion conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR), but at one time, he had to quit high school because he was teased so harshly for being poor.

As a businessman, Pinault is known for his “predator” tactic, which includes buying smaller firms for a fraction of the cost when the market crashes. He eventually started PPR, which owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Today, he owns Christie’s, the world’s top art business. 13. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio grew up in an orphanage and later worked in a factory where he lost part of his finger.

Net worth: $US16.4 billion

Del Vecchio was one of five children who was eventually sent to an orphanage because his widowed mother couldn’t care for him. He would later work in a factory making moulds of car parts and eyeglass frames.

At the age of 23, Del Vecchio opened his own molding shop, which expanded to become the world’s largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyewear with brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley. 14. George Soros

Legendary trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as an impoverished college student.

Net worth: $US24.9 billion

In his early teens, Soros posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture to stay safe from the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

In 1947, Soros escaped the country to live with his relatives in London. He put himself through the London School of Economics working as a waiter and railway porter.

After graduating, Soros worked at a souvenir shop before getting a job as a banker in New York City. In 1992, his famous bet against the British pound made him a billion dollars. 15. Li Ka-shing

After his father died, business magnate Li Ka-shing had to quit school to help support his family.

Net worth: $US31.1 billion

Ka-shing fled mainland China for Hong Kong in the 1940s, but his father died when he was 15, leaving Ka-shing responsible for supporting his family.

In 1950, he started his own company, Cheung Kong Industries, which made plastics at first, but would later expand into real estate. 16. Sheldon Adelson

College dropout Sheldon Adelson grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement house.

Net worth: $US31.2 billion

Adelson, the son of a cab driver, grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began selling newspapers at the age of 12, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

A Forbes profile of the billionaire says years later, after dropping out of the City College of New York, Adelson “built a fortune running vending machines, selling newspaper ads, helping small businesses go public, developing condos and hosting trade shows”.

Adelson lost almost all of his money in the Great Recession, but he earned much of it back in the following years. He now runs Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the world, and is considered the most high-profile political donor in America, says Forbes. 17. Larry Ellison

Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison dropped out of college after his adoptive mother died. He held odd jobs for eight years.

Net worth: $US48.2 billion

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a single mother, Ellison was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago.

After his aunt died, Ellison dropped out of college and moved to California to work odd jobs for the next eight years. He founded software development company Oracle in 1977, which is now one of the largest technology companies in the world.

Last September he announced his plans to step down as Oracle’s CEO to become CTO and executive chairman. 18. Guy Laliberté

Guy Laliberté was a fire-eater before founding Cirque du Soleil.

Net worth: $US1.33 billion

At the beginning of his career, Laliberté had fire in his belly — literally. The Canadian-born circus busker played the accordion, walked on stilts, and ate fire.

Later on, as Business Insider previously reported, he took a chance and flew a troupe from Quebec to Los Angeles without buying a return fair. The circus troup travelled to Las Vegas and became Cirque du Soleil.

Laliberté is now the CEO of Cirque de Soleil. 19. Jan Koum

WhatsApp founder Jan Koum emigrated to WhatsApp.

Net worth: $US8.8 billion

Koum was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the age of 16, he accompanied his mother to California, where they secured an apartment through government assistance. To survive, he swept floors at a local store.

According to The Independent, Koum taught himself computer skills.

In 2009, he co-founded the world’s largest mobile messaging service WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook for $US22 billion in 2014.

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Jennifer Hawkins said Donald Trump’s family “has always respected me”

Experts: Australia’s Next Top Model judges Jennifer Hawkins, Alex Perry and Megan Gale. Hawkins said she enjoyed helping contestants to believe in their own strengths.JENNIFER Hawkins is counting down to Christmas in Newcastle, after a busy year that has included celebrating her mother’s cancer recovery, her tequila company winning an international award and being caught up in a Donald Trump “media storm”.
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Hawkins hit headlines this week when a video from 2011 resurfaced, showing the Republican presidential candidate telling guests at the National Achievers Congress in Sydney that he was angry when he thought she did not want to introduce him at the event – and that he considered lying about her intellect.

Trump then leaned in for what appeared to be an attempt to kiss her on the lips.

“Thatvideo was from years ago, so I don’t know the big deal about it because it’s been out since then,” Hawkins told the Herald. “It’s been a big media storm. His family has always respected me.It doesn’t mean I believe or agree with every single action or word that he’s said, but that’s all I’m going to say.”

Hawkins said she hadn’t been following Trump’s campaign closely. “I’vehad other work things on, so I just haven’t really been thinking about it, to be honest.”

Hawkins is currently on screens as host of Foxtel’s Australia’s Next Top Model, a role she has reprised for the third time. Of this season’s 13 contestants, only six remain, including “extremely driven” Kassidy Ure of Elermore Valeand “so beautiful” Aleyna Fitzgerald, from Thornton.

“I really enjoyed chatting to the girls on and off camera, whetherI’m introducing the challenges or going to their house or seeing them on set, I always take time to give them even a little bit of advice or chat with them,” she said. “You become invested in the girls so you really want to help them in any way that you can.”

The Holmesville-raised supermodel has been juggling her roles as ambassador for Trinity Point andMyer and continuing to developher businesses Jbronze and swimwear brand Cozi. She was “elated” when her and husband Jake Wall’s tequila company Sesion wonthree medals at theSan Francisco World Spirits competition.

“My mum [Gail, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer last August] got her yearly results for her tests,” she said.“All of her results came back positive and her kidney is working well.To know we can stop worrying and relax, thatwas a massive highlight.”

Hawkins said she would return to Newcastle for family birthdays this weekend and for Christmas.

“It’s not even whether it[seeing family] is important, it’s my priority. It keeps you present and puts everything in perspective.”

Australian champion Liesl Tesch launches Paralympic mentoring program

BUSY: Sailing gold medalist Liesl Tesch with Mark Tonga from the disability council of New South Wales share a moment at the welcome home ceremony for the Australian Paralympic team in Sydney on October 4. Picture: Brook Mitchell.Fresh from major accolades in two sports and only six weeks afterwrapping up her own 24-year Paralympic career Liesl Tesch has launched a national mentor program for potential disabled athletes.
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The 47-year-old, who was raised on Lake Macquarie, received the prestigious president’s award at the Sailing Australia presentation held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

This follows her induction into the Basketball Australia hall of fame earlier this month.

Tesch collected five medals across seven her seven Paralympic campaigns between 1992 and 2016, including two silver and a bronze for women’s wheelchair basketball and most recently back-to-back gold in the mixed two-person sailing SKUD18 division.

OUT OF WATER: Liesl Tesch as part of the national team at the Sailing Australia awards held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday night. Picture: Twitter.

Now, via the Paralympic Mentoring Program, she wants to share thatexperience and her contacts with others aspiring to follow a similar path.

“The program will support future para athletes, young people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth across Australia,” Tesch wrote on her online gofundme page.

“Potential para athletes will connect with experienced Aussie Paralympians during a period of three months.

“Champion Paralympians will share their tips on how to be a successful athlete, setting goals and coordinating resources, social media andmedia-savvy tips, negotiating sponsorship deals, overcoming challenges and more.

“Mentors will be goal-oriented, regionally basedand allow future champions to work with their Paralympic heroes(often with similar disabilities) to assist in positively breaking down barriers to success.”

Tesch was inducted into the Hunter sporting hall of fame earlier this year before departing for the Paralympics in Rio.

Daily World Dispatch – The truth is hidden in computers

From the presidency of the United States to the presidency of South Korea, it would seem that if you want to avoid trouble, you need to look out for computers.
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The scandal that is threatening to destroy Park Geun-hye’s presidency began with a lifelong friend, Choi Soon-sil, who seems to have become something more. South Korean media found drafts of Park’s speeches on a tablet computer belonging to Choi, who is a key figure in a shamanistic cult once led by her father.

Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin is a far less mystical figure, but her 20-year association with the Democratic presidential nominee is being sorely tested by the FBI’s discovery of emails from Clinton on the computer of Abedin’s estranged husband, former New York congressman Anthony Weiner.

Clinton will be hoping to turn the heat back onto the FBI, an organisation that has its own long history of unsavoury secrets.

But it was no surprise that when our own Nick O’Malley ran into Republican attack dog Roger Stone – an interview you can read and watch here – he felt the wind was well and truly back in the Trump campaign’s sails.

Iceland’s Pirate Party has also benefited from the leaking of documents, most recently the Panama Papers that revealed the extensive offshore entanglements of the island’s governing elites. But as in Spain and countries across Europe and the Middle East, the collapse of the political establishment has not led neatly to a takeover by the new parties of protest. Instead, uncertainty reigns.

A far more conventional instability has returned to trouble Italians in the country’s struggling centre. Scientists are now warning that the recent string of seismic events could be only the beginning of a much larger sequence.

Even by the frenetic standards of international affairs, the coming fortnight will be a time for the sure-footed.

Other must-reads:

The extraordinary story of a man adopted by Americans aged 3 who now faces deportation at 41 through a legal loophole;

Europe Correspondent Nick Miller takes us on a tour of a nuclear facility in France that might just save the world.

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Burning questions: Wallabies spring tour

The Wallabies share a lighter moment before the England Test in June. Photo: Scott BarbourWill Michael Cheika roll the dice with Marika Koroibete? 
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The Wallabies coach was quick to hit back at suggestions he was cheapening the jersey by including the Melbourne Storm winger in the European touring party, saying Koroibete had not received a cap yet.

Of all tours, the spring tour presents itself as the perfect platform to unleash the speedy winger who scored 12 tries from 25 games in the NRL this year.

Why not give Koroibete a go against France? Particularly given that match does not count towards Australia’s quest for the glorious grand slam against Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England.

The Wallabies are criticised by former players and sections of the media for not crossing the tryline enough, so the irony of the whole Koroibete signing is Cheika cannot please everyone when asked if he is devaluing the jersey when he has brought over a point-scoring threat.

Without putting Koroibete in the same echelon as another Storm league convert in Israel Folau, there was a great deal of optimism at luring the incumbent Wallabies fullback to the fifteen-a-side code in 2013.

Cheika’s mantra is building depth in positions, so if he sticks true to that policy, expect Koroibete to get his chance out wide at some point in November.

Can the Wallabies really complete the grand slam? 

Even if you look past the spin that improvements are made after each Test, the Wallabies are every chance of doing what no Australian team has done since 1984.

Remember, there have only been two grand slam attempts since 1984 – in 2009 and 2013.

While a lot has changed in the last 12 months, the momentum the Wallabies built at the World Cup goes to show winning consistently in the northern hemisphere is possible.

Wales have beaten the Wallabies just twice from 26 games since 1991, while Scotland have been below their best of late, losing three of their last four matches against the remaining teams Australia will play over the next five weeks.

The Wallabies’ tight-five are relatively settled and despite injuries, Australia’s backs have showed promise, particularly when they play in their proper positions.

Will Australia’s inexperience matter?

Of the 11 Wallabies players to make their Test debuts this year, 10 have been retained in the squad, bar Leroy Houston, whose late call up wouldn’t be the surprise of the century given he is already over in Bath.

The likes of Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Allan Alaalatoa and Tom Robertson have surprised many but have little experience in European conditions.

There is a notable absence of senior players, more so than in other campaigns. However, giving the odd Test – or mid-week game against the French Barbarians – to a handful of fresh-faced future prospects can only be beneficial in the year after a World Cup. 

Too green? Dane Haylett-Petty is one of many Wallabies with little experience in Europe. Photo: Warren Little

Is it time for a change in the back-row?

The Wallabies need David Pocock starting and should make the most of him before he spends 2017 hanging with animals in Africa and plying his trade in Japan.

Lopeti Timani started in the Australia’s last game, against New Zealand, because Pocock was returning from injury, meaning he is no certainly to line up at No.8 on November 5 (November 6 in Australia) at Millennium Stadium.

The bottom line is Pocock and Michael Hooper are workhorses and to be without one for half a game would make little sense. 

Workhorses: Michael Hooper and David Pocock. Photo: Stu Forster

Cheika seems hell-bent on sticking with Dean Mumm at No.6, something he has done since the South Africa Test in Brisbane.

Scott Fardy has fallen out of favour while Sean McMahon has played at blindside breakaway at Super Rugby level so is also another option there.

But that would deprive Australia of an option at the lineout, something that was no more stark than in Sydney for Bledisloe game one when they were picked off at ease by the All Blacks’ Kieran Read and Brodie Retallick.

What do the Wallabies do with Israel Folau? 

The moment Samu Kerevi went down with an ankle injury in Auckland, the calls grew louder for Folau to get a go at outside centre.

Cheika says it will happen on the tour, so the Wallabies style of play isn’t completely predictable to other teams. 

Try drought: Israel Folau is in his longest dry period in his 48-Test career. Photo: Hannah Peters

Folau generally attacks at No.13 and defends at fullback, so the number on his back, despite it being a talking point all year, matters far less.

Wherever he plays, the heat is on the 27-year-old, for he has not crossed for a try in seven matches – his biggest drought in 48 Tests.

Folau scores a try every 2.4 Tests (20 from 48) but is more prolific against France (three tries from four Tests), Scotland (one from one) and Wales (three from three).

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Matthew Leveson could be alive in Thailand, lover Michael Atkins tells inquest

Matthew Leveson’s parents Faye and Mark Leveson outside court. Photo: Ben Rushton Michael Atkins and Matthew Leveson at the ARQ nightclub in the hours before Mr Leveson went missing in September 2007. Photo: Supplied
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Michael Atkins arrives at the Coroner’s Court for the inquest into the death of Matthew Leveson. Photo: Ben Rushton

The lover of Sydney man Matthew Leveson – and the last person known to have seen him alive nearly a decade ago – has given public evidence for the first time, claiming he always thought Mr Leveson had gone to Thailand.

Michael Atkins, 53, who was acquitted of both the murder and manslaughter of Mr Leveson in 2009, said he had a “tiny bit” of hope that he was still alive and he could have travelled overseas to “start a new life”.

Mr Atkins was compelled to enter the witness box, with immunity from prosecution, after a ground-breaking ruling by Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott who found that he would “likely be able to give important evidence about the manner and cause of Matthew’s death”.

In a bid to avoid giving evidence, Mr Atkins unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the ruling in the NSW Supreme Court.

Mr Leveson, 20, was last seen leaving the popular ARQ nightclub in Sydney’s Taylor Square with Mr Atkins, then 44, in the early hours of September 23, 2007.

In the greatly-anticipated hearing and in front of Mr Leveson’s parents, brothers and friends at the Coroners Court in Glebe on Monday, Mr Atkins said his then-boyfriend had always “enjoyed” Thailand and might have gone there because he wanted a fresh start in life.

“You know Matt is dead don’t you?” counsel assisting, Lester Fernandez, put to Mr Atkins.

“No,” Mr Atkins responded.

“Could Matt be alive?” Mr Fernandez continued.

“He could be,” Mr Atkins said.

Mr Atkins said the last time he had seen Mr Leveson, with whom he lived with in a unit at Cronulla, was on the afternoon of September 23, 2007.

Earlier that morning they had been partying at ARQ nightclub, but Mr Atkins said he had driven Mr Leveson home because he had taken too many drugs.

The inquest has previously heard that Mr Atkins was captured on security footage purchasing a garden mattock and gaffer tape at a Bunnings store later that same day.

In his evidence, Mr Atkins said Mr Leveson had planned to go out clubbing again and their last conversation was “something about the TV”.

Mr Atkins said when Mr Leveson did not return he thought it was because he was a “bit of a princess” and “had got the shits” with him.

“I thought that he just had got the shits and was just off somewhere else … I thought he would be back,” Mr Atkins said.

The inquest has previously heard that two days after Mr Leveson was reported missing his car was found parked at Waratah Oval in Sutherland.

Inside the car, police found a Bunnings Warehouse receipt, containing Mr Atkins’ fingerprint, for a mattock and gaffer tape. A large speaker system had been removed from Mr Leveson’s car and was found in the couple’s garage by police.

But Mr Atkins, who at one point during the hearing put his head down and said he was not feeling well, denied any prior familiarity with the oval despite renting out an arcade machine to the basketball stadium nearby.

He conceded that he had not done enough to help search for Mr Leveson in the days, weeks and years after his disappearance but said this was because he suffered depression and he thought police would do their job.

“I loved Matt so much . I think he loved me just as much as well,” Mr Atkins said

The inquest heard that Mr Atkins, who has a black belt in martial arts and has been trained as a security officer, had sex with two people in the days after Mr Leveson disappeared.

Outside the court, Mr Leveson’s parents Faye and Mark, laughed at the suggestion their son could have assumed a new identity and be living in Thailand. They said they only wanted to find out where their son’s body was.

“We hoped we would see this day but it’s taken a long while to get to this point,” Mr Leveson said.

“It’s as simple as that, bring him home and lay him to rest properly, that’s been our goal right from the start.”

Mark Leveson is representing his family during the coronial inquest and said he may take up the opportunity to question Mr Atkins himself.

– with Lisa Visentin

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Family and friends farewell Manrique-Lutz family after suspected murder-suicide

Maria Claudia Lutz, her husband Fernando Manrique and their children Martin and Elisa died in a suspected murder-suicide at Davidson in Sydney’s north. Photo: Supplied Martin and Elisa were found dead in the house with their parents. Photo: Supplied
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A mourner at the funeral of Fernando Mantique 44, Maria Claudia Lutz 43, Ellie 11 and Martin 10, at the Holy Name Catholic Church in Wahroonga. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Fernando Manrique’s nephew, Juan Pablo Guiterrez, leaves the Holy Name Catholic Church in Wahroonga. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Family and friends gather after the funeral of Fernando Mantique 44, Maria Claudia Lutz 43, Ellie 11 and Martin 10, at the Holy Name Catholic Church in Wahroonga. 31st October 2016, Photo: Wolter Peeters, The Sydney Morning Herald Photo: Wolter Peeters

Fernando Manrique and Martin were borne in one hearse while Maria Claudia Lutz and daughter Elisa were in another. Photo: Wolter Peeters

As people streamed into the Holy Name Catholic Church in Sydney’s north to farewell the Lutz-Manrique family, their grieving relatives wanted judgments left at the door.

Monday marked two weeks since the bodies of Maria Claudia Lutz, 43, her husband Fernando Manrique, 44, and their children Martin, 9, and Elisa, 11, were found in their home in Davidson, in a suspected murder suicide.

The deaths of the much-adored family were seen as a “deliberate act” with a trail of planning extending back to Mr Manrique purchasing carbon monoxide weeks prior.

Despite this, the victim’s families wanted the collective funeral for the mother, father and children at the Wahroonga church on Monday to be one without recrimination or analysis.

“Today is not a day for judgment, it is not a day for analysis,” Father David Ranson told the funeral.

“Today is a day to mourn the loss of four people for whom we loved and who loved us.”

But if there was one message to be taken away from the devastating murder-suicide, the families wished it would be awareness.

Their relatives said they hoped exposure of the tragedy may result in awareness of the economic, social and psychological stresses posed to families in similar situations.

“Whilst science works day after day to comprehend all these many different conditions, society cannot remain indifferent to the situations families bear, and needs to move and develop means to support them better,” they said in a statement on Monday.

“Through all this, for the families that love and care for their disabled children, every minute is special.”

These relatives, most of whom arrived in Australia from Colombia last week, remembered Mrs Lutz, a loving mother with an infectious laugh and joyful smile, for her “tenacity, resilience, optimism”.

Mrs Lutz’s parents, Ernesto and Alicia Lutz, and Mr Manrique’s sister,  Patricia, were among the mourners at the service along with staff and parents from Martin’s and Elisa’s school, St Lucy’s.

Artwork the siblings made during their time at the primary school was on display with teachers remembering their creative talents.

Wreaths made of Colombian roses and Australian flora were also inside the church, where one of Ms Lutz’s closest friends, Karen Hickmott strummed “Lullaby” on the harp.

Teachers left symbolic items for the children on their small white coffins, including paint brushes and plush toys.

Mr Manrique’s nephew, Juan Pablo Guiterrez, read out a prayer to the service asking that his relatives feel healing in the midst of their pain and grief.

“For all those who are committed to the care of those with disabilities: may we carry forward that for which the community of St Lucy’s labours with such dedication,” he said.

Mrs Lutz was heavily involved in the school community, volunteering in the canteen and forging close friendships with a group of mothers there.

It was one of those mothers who raised the alarm on October 17 when Mrs Lutz failed to turn up for her canteen shift. 

Police later discovered the family members’ bodied inside their Davidson home and a gas set-up in the ceiling.

Martin and Elisa both had intellectual disabilities but St Lucy’s acting principal Warren Hopley stressed that was not what caused their deaths.

“To my way of thinking it was quite separate, the death and disability. Because from all indications here, dad loved his two children and that wasn’t an overwhelming issue for him in my point,” he said after the service.

“We will never know the full story of all of this but that was not necessarily the trigger at all.”

For many people in the church on Monday, Father David Ranson asked a question they had struggled to answer.

“Where was God in the silence that filled Fernando and Maria’s house that Sunday?,” he said.

“The apparent absence of God is the most difficult question of all.

“Where was God for Maria Claudia and Fernando, and for Eli and Martin?

“The silence that greets our question seems almost unbearable.”

A private cremation will take place after the funeral before the family are taken back to Colombia.

❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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

Now’s the time to build a city with a conscience

COMMON GOOD: With the trend for city living intensifying, innovative strategies are needed to ensure adequate housing, urban resilience and sustainable settlements.​There has been so much change in Newcastle. The city is moving forward, but what does our future city look like? Are we building a city with a conscience and a city that considers all the people who live in it?
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By 2050, the world urban population is expected to nearly double, posing massive challenges for sustainable urban development. With 70 per cent of the world’s population in cities, we need to rethink how we plan for the future.

Even though Australia is only second to Antarctica in the sparseness of our population, almost 90 per cent of us live in urban areas, making us one of the most highly urbanised countries on earth. This trend towards city living will only intensify.

On average, our houses are the largest on the planet but fewer of us can afford to buy them.Cities are complex interdependent networks of economic, social and environmental systems, all of which have to work together to achieve common good, which should be the goal of human dignity in life, but this is often lost in the modern landscape.

Every 20 years the United Nations convenes a highly influential global Habitat conference for those with an interest in human settlements – and particularly cities – and they try to answer how the world’s urban centres should develop in the next two decades in order to deliver the maximum benefit to humanity.

The development of cities, while crucial to the future of humanity, is part of a larger piece, namely creating the world we want for our children and beyond. Last year, the global community unanimously committed to the 2030 Development Agenda recognising the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) as the blueprint for the future.

But, you may ask, so what? Isn’t this simply a grand talkfest? UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, warned that “Globally, there is an interest in housing – but not as a human right, or an issue requiring urgent attention to assist the most vulnerable groups in cities around the world.” In Australia three million people live in poverty andhomelessness is not the rarity we would like to believe. Our cities are both the problem and, potentially, the solution.

Ms Farha acknowledged the “steep hill ahead” noting that Habitat III was “only a first step”and “it’s not conferences that make change, it is people.”

Cities, rural communities, local governments and private enterprise, along with all elements of civil society must come to share an understanding of what is necessary in order to balance enterprise with equity, individual desire with dignity for all, and an expedient present with a sustainable future.

We are the people who can shape this future, and in 2015 Newcastle was named a ‘United Nations City’ and became a UN training hub for the Asia-Pacific region for Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction hosted by the University.CIFAL Newcastle has committed to a strategic plan for 2017 that will focus on awareness-raising and assistance in adopting and implementing the UN-SDGs in the Hunter. There is not a moment to lose to create the city we want, and hope to also create a city with a strong conscience.

Associate Professor Brewer recently attended the UN’sHabitat III conference in Ecuador with UON Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen and Newcastle councillorsMichael Osbourne and Declan Clausen.

Associate Professor Graham Brewer is director of CIFAL Newcastle

Gordon Whitehead: Exciting time for smart action

It’s been a long time coming, but last month Premier Mike Baird finally announced that the NSW Government would invest $9.8 million into the Hunter Innovation Project (HIP) to help transform Newcastle into a digitally connected innovation precinct and enhance the appeal of Newcastle and the Hunter to entrepreneurs in the technology and digital-creative sectors.
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The HIP has three pillars: a new innovation hub, a digital precinct, and smart city infrastructure. By far the most important pillar is the smart cities infrastructure, which will turn theCBD into a unique open environment where start-ups and researchers can co-create solutions, as well as prototyping, validating and refining smart-tech solutions in a real-life urban context.

To prevent this exciting project becoming a white elephant, it will need to focus on creating skilled jobs by guaranteeing local high potential start-ups and fast-growth small to medium enterprises access to the infrastructure.This also means our best and brightest must take the initiative and come forward with new smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen ideas.

If you have an idea you can look to the NSW Government for help with its $190 million Jobs for NSW Fund. Over the next four years this fund will support the start-up ecosystem in NSW through grants and loans for high-potential new businesses and partnerships.At least 30 per cent of the $190 million Jobs for NSW Fund will be allocated to supporting the growth of regional start-ups and small to medium enterprises.

Grants available for promising start-ups and SMEs include the Minimum Viable Product Grant and Building Partnerships Grant.The Minimum Viable Product grant aims to help promising start-ups that are not yet generating revenue. Successful applicants will receive matched funding of up to 50 per cent of approved project costs to a maximum of $25,000 to develop a concept or prototype.The Building Partnership grant aims to help start-ups that are already generating revenue and foster collaboration between industry partners. It provides up to 35 per centof project costs (to a maximum of $100,000), to develop innovative solutions.

visit: hunterinnovationproject南京夜网419论坛 andjobsfornsw南京夜网419论坛

Gordon Whitehead is Australian Small Business Advisory Services Coordinator, The Business Centre

Big companies ready for privatisation of lucrative Sydney bus contracts

Keolis Downer and Transit Systems are eager to bid for Sydney bus contracts. Photo: Brendan Esposito Newcastle’s light rail, bus and ferry services will be run by a single operator. Photo: Supplied
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Large companies are lining up to win Sydney’s most lucrative bus contracts as expectations grow that the Baird government will open to tender services that have been run for decades by the heavily unionised State Transit Authority.

While Keolis Downer and Transit Systems are eager to bid, any decision to allow them and other private operators to compete for contracts now held by the government-owned STA is likely to meet stiff opposition from unions.

They fear it will lead to cuts to drivers’ wages and conditions, as well as bus routes deemed unprofitable.

The contract to operate a new bus corridor known as the “B-Line” from Sydney’s CBD to the lower north shore and northern beaches from next year is also expected to be opened up to private companies.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Keolis Downer chief executive Campbell Mason said the company was interested in bidding for the STA bus operations if those contracts came up for private tender next year.

“We are a very willing participant in the privatisation process and looking forward to that franchising program moving ahead,” he said.

“We believe there is an improvement in customer service and cost savings that can be generated through franchising, as has been demonstrated elsewhere.”

The Tourism and Transport Forum has spearheaded a push for Sydney’s entire bus network to be placed in the hands of private operators.

But the union representing thousands of Sydney bus drivers says it fears private operators will slash bus services “to put money into the hands of shareholders”.

“We would be worried about the cuts in services, the cuts in maintenance and the cuts in wages and conditions of drivers who live in the most expensive city in Australia,” the secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s bus division, Chris Preston, said.

“We would run a very loud campaign if the government said they were to privatise STA [bus contracts]. It has been in public hands for about 80 years.”

While private companies such as Hillsbus and Transdev operate bus services in Sydney, STA-run Sydney Buses still carries the majority of the city’s passengers.

The STA contracts cover the CBD, the northern beaches, Paramatta, the eastern suburbs and south to suburbs such as Mascot.

The government-owned authority has 12 bus depots in Sydney and about 3700 drivers, almost all of whom are members of the RTBU.

Sydney has become a key market for Keolis Downer to target because of its booming population and growing demands for public transport. “Hence our appetite for the STA franchising as that rolls forward,” Mr Mason said.

The company is a joint venture between Australian engineering company Downer EDI and French transport giant Keolis, and it is in the race to win the right to be the sole operator of Newcastle’s bus, light rail and ferry services.

The Newcastle contract has been regarded as a template for what the Baird government will consider rolling out elsewhere in the state.

Brisbane’s Transit Systems has also bid for the Newcastle contract and is eager to do the same in Sydney if the STA contracts are opened up.

“If the State Transit Authority of NSW decide to competitively tender bus contacts to private operators, Transit Systems would readily consider submitting a bid,” Transit Systems chief executive Clint Feuerherdt said.

Transport for NSW said a decision had yet to be made on the STA contracts, which would expire in mid-2018. The contracts had an option for the transport authority to extend them for up to two years, a spokesman said.

The “proposed service approach” for the operation of the B-Line bus services to the northern suburbs was also still under consideration, he said.

While Transit Systems already operates bus services in western Sydney, Keolis Downer is yet to break into that part of the market in Australia’s largest city despite operating buses in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

Keolis executive chairman Jean-Pierre Farandou said the company operated many public passenger networks across the world, including bus and light rail services, and was “used to working with unions”.

“We have developed methods to understand better the needs of the customer and to deliver more personal services to them,” he said.

Mr Farandou, who recently visited Australia, said its international software could be used to help reduce the cost of scheduling services and “offer better value for money”.

“‘We are very keen to work in Sydney or NSW in general because we are in most of the major cities in Australia – Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth – but we are not in Sydney,” he said.

Keolis Downer runs Melbourne’s Yarra Trams and the light rail line on the Gold Coast.

While a consortium that includes Transdev and Alstom has won the contract to run Sydney’s new $2.1 billion tram line to the south east, Keolis Downer is interested in playing a role in the light rail line planned for Parramatta.

Mr Mason said the company was eager to see what procurement model was chosen for the delivery of the Parramatta project.

“Certainly it is a project we are very interested in operating,” he said.

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