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One in five Australians living pay to pay

Almost one in five Australians are living pay to pay, a National Australia Bank survey shows.

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While the vast majority (70.4 per cent) of those surveyed considered themselves good at managing money, almost one in five rarely or never have any money left at the end of a pay cycle.

People living in regional areas are more likely to be caught short than those living in capital cities, the survey found.

A dental or medical expense was the most common unexpected expense experienced by respondents in the past 12 months, followed by a higher-than-expected household bill, and car repairs.

Most dipped into their savings or whipped out the credit card when they found themselves without money, while a smaller percentage sold a possession.

The release of the survey of 1,205 adults coincides with the launch of Stop Small Problems Getting Big, a joint campaign between NAB and Good Shepherd Microfinance.

The campaign reaches out to people experiencing financial hardship, who are often locked out from mainstream banking, to show that there is a safe and affordable alternative to high cost fringe lenders.

Good Shepherd Microfinance chief executive Adam Mooney says there’s a disconnect between how well people think they manage their money and the reality.

“People who find themselves in difficult financial situations often seek quick fixes such as selling their possessions or getting a high cost payday loan,” he said.

“While satisfying the immediate need, these solutions can lead to bigger problems down the track.”

WHAT PEOPLE DO WHEN THEY’RE OUT OF CASH

* 70.4 pct dipped into their savings

* 40 pct used a credit card

* 16.4 pct sold something they owned

Australian Muslim groups condemn government’s Islamic State operation

A representative of Australian Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir has condemned the Abbott government’s decision to back a US-led operation against the Islamic State.

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The Hizb ut-Tahrir group was reportedly a target in the federal government’s plans to expand the rules for proscribing terrorist organisations in Australia.

Group member Uthman Badar said the government’s plan would only fuel the problem.

“They seek to deny the link between the fact that you caused this threat, you’re responsible for this threat and you trying to deal with it in this manner will only exacerbate the problem and bring it forth in another form,” Mr Badar said.

Despite Australian troops supporting Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Mr Badar said the move would not be popular and could have major consequences.

“Any country that is invaded has the right to resist an invasion,” he said. “Any country.”

“If Australia was invaded by Indonesia or China, we wouldn’t be having this discussion saying ‘Is it allowed for them to target Chinese soldiers or Indonesian soldiers?’.”

But it’s not just hardline groups against the move.

Keysar Trad, of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, said Australia should take on the role of “peacemaker” and leave any intervention to others in the region.

“No matter what we do, we’re a minor player in this conflict,” he said.

“The intervention of majority Muslim countries will show Muslims all over the world that we are united in taking away any legitimacy from this ISIS group. That we’re not shying away; we’re taking responsibility.”

Next week, the federal government will introduce laws banning Australians from travelling to countries like Iraq and Syria without legitimate reasons.

Tony Abbott today rejected claims that the government’s decision to join military action in Iraq would encourage intolerance toward Muslims.

“There are thousands and thousands of Muslim people who are happy to join Team Australia; they are good Australians and I want to ensure that it stays that way,” he said.

Foodies swarm Melbourne for international trade show

Fine Foods Australia is the largest trade show in the Southern Hemisphere, offering well-known Australian brands such as Devondale and more obscure international products such as sea grapes.

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This year’s event attracted more than 1000 exhibitors; a third from overseas.

Event Coordinator Minnie Constan said international interest had grown 10 per cent compared to last year.

“Australians are so interested and open to trying different foods,” she said. “We have over 45 different countries represented here, about a third or 300 exhibitors.”

“Anything ranging from Colombia, Peru, Italy, Taiwan Thailand, Malaysia, Japan; they’re all here.”

Among the foods on exhibit was chocolate made with cacao grown in the Amazon. 

The product was cultured by local communities in Ecuador and Colombia, and Chocolate Brokers CEO Carlos Espinosa said it was now sold all over the world.

For local producers, the event is an opportunity to build international contacts and partnerships. 

Italian Trade Commissioner Antonietta Baccanari said Australia had always been a good market for Italian exporters.

“Australian consumers are really interested in top quality Italian products; what we promote is the real and the authentic Italian products,” she said. “From different sectors and region in food tradition.”

For World Pizza Champion and Melbourne restaurateur Johnny Di Francesco, the event not just an opportunity to display his wares but also to scout for a new pizza protégé. 

The Melbourne restaurant owner took top honours against 600 competitors at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza – or Pizza World Championship – in Parma, Italy earlier this year.

Now he’s putting together a team to return to the championships next year.

UK PM heads to Scotland to boost No vote

British Prime Minister David Cameron is to plead with Scots to vote against independence in a referendum as Scotland enters the most decisive week in its modern history.

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Cameron was expected in Aberdeen – the hub of Britain’s North Sea offshore oil and gas industry, almost all of which would come under Scottish control in the event of a Yes vote.

With polls showing an extremely tight vote on Thursday, September 18, English football icon David Beckham lent his support to the Better Together camp and pro-unity campaigners were planning a rally in Trafalgar Square in London later Monday.

“My sincere hope is that you will vote to renew our historic bond which has been such a success over the centuries,” former England captain Beckham said in a statement.

Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, a centre-right weekly news magazine, urged readers to attend the rally, saying: “It’s for those who love Britain and don’t want to see it snapped in two”.

Scotland’s pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond also hit the campaign trail, meeting with business leaders who have argued that leaving the United Kingdom makes economic sense.

Support for a Yes vote has grown in recent weeks and the campaign got a further boost on Sunday with top Scottish bands Franz Ferdinand and Mogwai playing a gig in the capital Edinburgh urging Scots to cast ballots against the union.

“People are excited. The ‘Yes’ camp, I feel, are more invigorated,” Calum Forbes, a 22-year-old recent graduate and Yes supporter, said at the concert.

Queen Elizabeth II also reportedly made her first comment on the vote, which was interpreted by No campaigners as lending support to their argument about the risks of voting Yes.

British media said the 88-year-old monarch told an onlooker after attending church near her Balmoral estate in the Scottish Highlands on Sunday: “Well, I hope people will think very carefully about the future.”

Three surveys published over the weekend put the pro-union campaign ahead by varying margins: 47 per cent for No to 40.8 per cent for Yes in a poll by Survation; 47.7 to 42.3 per cent (Opinium) and 47.1 to 46.1 per cent (Panelbase).

An ICM online poll for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper meanwhile gave the No camp 49 per cent, ahead of the pro-UK camp at 42 per cent with 9.0 per cent undecided, although pollsters warned the sample size could be too small to be representative.

Campaigners for and against disagree over the economic impact of a Yes vote, with the No camp warning that independence would be a vote for uncertainty and risk to living standards.

But Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz dismissed the warnings as “fear-mongering”, arguing that the risks of Scotland staying put and the UK then leaving the European Union were “significantly greater”.

This is contrary to the view of fellow Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman, who has said Scots face “huge risks” and should “be very afraid” of independence.

Anelka joins Mumbai in new Indian league

The 35-year-old, who has played for a host of English Premier League clubs including Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, will join compatriots David Trezeguet and Robert Pires in the league, that will run from Oct.

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12 to Dec. 20.

“I am pleased to join Mumbai City FC and through it participate in the exciting Indian Super League,” the well-travelled Frenchman, who has also played for Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Juventus, said in a statement.

“Talented international players and top Indian talent will make matches thrilling affairs.

“I look forward to using my ability to do well for my team in the matches we play.”

Former England midfielder Peter Reid will manage the Mumbai franchise, co-owned by Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, and they have also signed former Germany centre back Manuel Friedrich.

“We are delighted to announce the signing of Nicolas Anelka and thrilled that a player with a stunning pedigree such as his is part of our team,” Kapoor added.

“His abilities and experience are known the world over and I am certain his presence will give us the firepower required upfront. We welcome him to the Mumbai City FC squad.”

Anelka got his first taste of Asian football when he joined big-spending Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua in 2012.

He landed in trouble for making a ‘quenelle’ salute, which is associated with anti-Semitism, when he scored for West Bromwich Albion in a 3-3 draw at West Ham United last December.

Anelka denied he was anti-Semitic but was banned for five matches by the Premier League and later sacked by West Brom for what they described as gross misconduct.

The prolific forward was also suspended for 18 games for insulting then France coach Raymond Domenech at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond)