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Supermarket giants’ push into healthfood gets boost

Nielsen said more than two thirds of Australian households bought healthfood products last year.Coles’ and Woolworths’ push into the healthfoods category has been bolstered by a global survey underlining the strength of consumer demand for healthier packaged and fresh foods.
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According to research firm Nielsen, about 71 per cent of consumers in the Asia Pacific region are changing their diets to lose weight and 25 to 40 per cent are more than willing to pay a premium for foods that are free from artificial colours, flavours and gluten, low in fat and salt, and higher in protein and fibre.

In Australia, more than half (56 per cent) of consumers believe they are overweight and 78 per cent believe changing their diet is more important than exercising.

This behaviour is underpinning strong growth in the healthfoods category and prompting Coles and Woolworths to boost their offers by creating health food “destinations” within stores – increasing shelf space, expanding the number of products, and building private label brands.

Sales of packaged healthfoods grew by 8.2 per cent in supermarkets to $665 million last year, according to Nielsen Homescan, more than double the rate of growth in the broader food and grocery market and almost twice the rate of growth in fresh food (4.4 per cent) such as fruit and vegetables, dairy and meat.

Retailers’ private label healthfood brands grew by 18.1 per cent and now account for 15.5 per cent of sales in the category. About 52 per cent of healthfood shoppers purchased a retailer brand in the past year.

The Nielsen data also suggested that Coles was outperforming its larger rival in the category, lifting its share to 36 per cent, ahead of Woolworths’ 34 per cent share.

Coles’ healthfood brands include Coles Organic, Coles Simply Less and Coles Simply Gluten Free.

“Coles is seeing a significant increase in demand for healthier foods such a quinoa, chia, coconut oil and coconut water,” a spokesman said.

“In response, we have introduced larger pack sizes on selected products and recently dropped the prices on our Coles Brand quinoa and chia products to give customers better value.”

Woolworths said sales of own-brand healthfood products including its Macro brand had been growing at an average 25 per cent a year for the last three years.

Woolworths acquired Macro Wholefoods for around $16 million in 2009 and launched Macro healthfoods in supermarkets later that year. Macro sales are now worth around $600 million a year.

“We have seen an increase in several product types including allergen-free products, ancient grains such as quinoa and chia seeds, as well as healthier snacking,” a spokesman said. “We have invested heavily in ensuring these products are given space in our stores and are now stocking more than 400 own-brand products in our range.”

Nielsen said more than two thirds of Australian households bought healthfood products last year, underlying the opportunity for suppliers and retailers alike.

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

Weet-Bix takes on Weetabix: UK to get fed an Aussie-style breakfast

Weet-Bix maker Sanitarium is taking on Weetabix, the largest player in the £1.2 billion UK cereal market, by targeting British consumers who skip breakfast.
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In its first move outside Australia and New Zealand, Sanitarium has set up a joint venture with Melbourne-based finance and investment company Wingate to launch its market-leading liquid breakfast product, Up&Go, in UK supermarkets.

Sanitarium’s international food general manager, Bennie Hendricks, says the UK liquid breakfast category is underdeveloped but could be worth £300 million in five years, based on Australian trends.

“Sanitarium hopes to have at least a 60 per cent share of the market,” said Mr Hendricks, who is overseeing the Up&Go rollout, which starts next month in Tesco supermarkets after a “soft” launch on Australia Day.

Sanitarium claims that 38 million Britons skip breakfast at least once a week and demand for eat-on-the go products such as breakfast biscuits and bars has been booming.

Up&Go, developed by Sanitarium 16 years ago, has more than 90 per cent of the $300 million liquid breakfast market in Australia, will compete with Weetabix’s On the Go breakfast drink, which was launched last January.

Sanitarium has no qualms taking on Weetabix Ltd, which makes leading brands such as Weetabix, an almost identical product to Weet-Bix, Alpen muesli and Weetos.

Weetabix is controlled by China’s Bright Foods, which is taking Weetabix’s products into Asia and considering listing the 83-year old company on the Hong Kong or London stock exchange after buying a 60 per cent stake in 2012.

“We believe in this specific category we’ve had a lot of years of experience and we have developed strong new product development expertise over the years,” said Mr Hendricks. “I’m not sure what the level of expertise that Weetabix has got in that category.”

Sanitarium and Wingate have no plans to export Up&Go to the UK. The product, which has been growing 25 per cent a year over the past five years, is made at Sanitarium’s factories on the NSW Central Coast.

Their joint venture company, Life Health Foods UK, will outsource production and distribution of Up&Go to contract manufacturers and third-party distributors.

In the UK, the product’s formulation and packaging has been tweaked to better suit British tastes, but marketing will play up the brand’s Australian origins.

“”We’d like to first make a success of our launch of Up&Go and … we’ll look at other opportunities as well,” said Mr Hendricks. “The UK market is very similar to that of Australia but has not developed in some areas – there is a gap in the market here for nutritional cereal.”

Sanitarium, which is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, has set up a 50/50 joint venture with Wingate rather than tap the UK church for financial assistance.

“We like to partner with people who are aligned to our values and our culture and we believe Wingate is a good fit and they can help us to expedite the process of growing our brands on a global platform,” said Mr Hendricks.

Wingate group managing director Farrel Meltzer said the investment company, which has close ties to the Smorgon family, had made a “substantial” investment in the joint venture but declined to disclose the value of its interest for competitive reasons.

“There’s no one else in the world with a product like this – many have tried but they are the world leader in this particular product and no-one has had this level of success in a breakfast product,” Mr Meltzer said.

“(The investment) ticks the business opportunity box and the quality of partner box and the risk box,” he said.

Much to the chagrin of rivals such as Kellogg’s and Nestle, Sanitarium pays no corporate tax in Australia or New Zealand because of its charity status. However, the UK joint venture will be a taxable entity and will be obliged to pay corporate tax once it starts generating profits.

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

Fortescue running at full speed, but can we bet on iron ore?

Illustration: Kerrie Leishman.Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals is running at full speed, chasing the falling iron ore price with cost reductions. If the rate at which the iron ore price has fallen over the past nine months continues it will eventually bulldoze Fortescue’s profits.
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But the West Australian-raised   entrepreneur and his management team are proving tenacious, continuing to generate cash even in this particularly tough environment, and nothing in the financial briefing from chief executive Nev Power on Thursday suggested the company had moved to DEFCON one.

The company is not pursuing asset sales to reduce debt and even more surprising it is not ruling out a dividend in 2015, although most are predicting shareholders should not be counting on one.

Thanks to some clever marketing footwork by chairman Forrest, the company’s debt repayment schedule is not onerous.

Another ratcheting down of Fortescue’s costs in the second (December) quarter, and the prediction they will continue to fall in the remainder of this financial year, means the group’s all-in cost including interest and sustaining capex should be  $US45-46 a tonne, compared with iron ore’s current price of about US$63. And after applying a discount to Fortescue’s particular type of iron ore, that would deliver the company about US$53.50 a tonne and a comfortable, rather than healthy, margin.

This margin is better than most analysts had built into their models.

The flip side is that the iron ore price could continue its slide and the company would need to sell assets, or at least sell part-interest in some mines. That is a lever Forrest and Power can pull if they need to.

The dilemma for investors is clear. Are we at, or near the bottom of the iron ore price cycle? If we are and the price starts to improve over the next six months, Fortescue is in a good position to capitalise and its share price, which has fallen proportionately more than other large producers, should recover.

Fortescue, like other producers, has managed its costs in part courtesy of the falling Australian dollar and cheaper oil-based energy costs.

Power takes the view – albeit one that is Robinson Crusoe-like – that the iron ore supply/demand market is in balance now. This is despite the massive addition to seaborne supply that has hit the market over the past year and will continue for a while yet.

While in China and Europe high-cost supply of iron ore is coming out of the market the Australian majors and the Brazilian Vale just keep digging up more.

Power said the price of the commodity was weakened by speculative futures trading and this must eventually turn.

Whether he proves to be prescient in his prediction lies with what the Chinese government decides to do about stimulating  its economic growth.

If, for example, it allows the economy’s growth to fall to less than 7 per cent this year, as some have predicted, it could be a while before iron ore prices recover.

This time a year ago Power and the team at Fortescue were pretty bullish on the outlook for the iron ore price.

But on Thursday, at least, the announcement of Fortescue’s impressive production figures for the December quarter and the forecasts to reduce costs more presented investors with some reprieve, as the share price gained almost 9 per cent.

It undoubtedly silenced some Fortescue watchers, who are concerned the falling iron ore price could have pushed it into negative cash flow – or worse an existential moment.

While Forrest’s personal (paper) fortune has fallen to about $2 billion, the reality is that this company has sufficient arsenal to fight, even if the iron ore price drops.

It can sell assets, even its prized infrastructure assets, if it needs to and in the worst-case scenario it could raise (highly shareholder dilutive) equity.

At this point most commodity analysts are busy downgrading their price forecasts for iron ore and no one is raising them yet.

The most bearish see the price fall to $US50 at some point in 2015 but not necessarily staying there.

Others are more optimistic on price but see lower prices lasting as long as a decade.

For Fortescue the more likely scenario is that it will continue to pay down enough debt that its all-in costs will become easily manageable. But it could take years to get to that position if the metal’s price remains at these weaker levels.

From an investors’ perspective it becomes a crap shoot around picking the bottom of the cycle. At this stage few are willing to take the bet, given the iron ore price continues to fall.

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

We were not consulted on data retention law changes: ASIC

ASIC has warned that under the new laws, Australia’s burgeoning $1.87 trillion retirement savings pool could be even more exposed to fraud.The corporate regulator says it was not consulted about changes to data retention laws that will leave it without access to phone recordings vital to catching white-collar criminals.  Speaking before the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, Australian Securities and Investments Commission commissioner Greg Tanzer warned that the agency had “grave concerns” the bill, which removes ASIC from being able to access telecommunications data, could pose serious threats to economic security. “This type of evidence is vital for ASIC’s investigation of white-collar crime such as insider trading,” Mr Tanzer said.  “We have grave concerns that the bill in its current form could compromise ASIC’s investigation powers and increase the threat to Australians of financial crime.” Mr Tanzer said ASIC had not been consulted by the Attorney-General’s Department about being excluded from the list of agencies allowed to access telecommunications data under the new laws.  He said the agency first learnt about the decision when details of the bill were made public on October 30.  Deputy chair of the committee, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, described the situation as a “pretty interesting consultation process”.  A spokesman for Attorney-General George Brandis declined to comment. The Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill was introduced by Mr Brandis in October as part of the government’s “counter-terrorism” package. Under the current regime, ASIC and other regulators are able to access stored metadata but that will be curtailed under the bill making its way through Parliament. ASIC has warned that under the new laws, Australia’s burgeoning $1.87 trillion retirement savings pool, which has already been a target of corporate criminals, could be even more exposed to fraud.  “The physical harm and the mental anguish that is suffered by victims of fraud and white-collar crime is vast and ongoing, as demonstrated by the collapse of the Trio superannuation funds,” Mr Tanzer told the committee. ASIC and its previous incarnations have had access to telecommunications data since 1979. Metadata from communications intercepts are one of the regulator’s key evidence-gathering tools in prosecuting white-collar criminals, particularly insider trading cases, which are notoriously hard to prove. Mr Tanzer told the committee that the regulator had used metadata in 81 per cent of insider trading cases it had prosecuted.  Information ASIC has gathered as part of investigations of corporate crime in the past, including basic information on telephone calls and emails, will not be able to be obtained for investigations unless it is given special clearance by the government. The bill was designed to ease privacy concerns about the new requirement that telecommunications companies retain communications metadata for two years by limiting the number of agencies that can access the stored information. The regulator has urged the government in its submission to the inquiry to include it on the list of agencies entitled to access the data.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Retirement savings at risk from focus on domestic equities: Goldman Sachs

The growing appetite for equities at the expense of fixed interest comes despite a lacklustre performance from the ASX in 2014. Photo: Jessica ShapiroThe country’s growing army of retail investors and SMSFs are putting their retirement savings at risk by chasing dividend yields at the expense of investing in other asset classes, according to research by Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM).
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An annual survey of 600 retail investors raises some fascinating questions about asset allocation, the psychology of retail investors, their knowledge of risk, and the country’s $1.8 trillion retirement savings.

It shows retail investors have low confidence in the outlook for the domestic economy for 2015, with only 13 per cent more confident than a year ago. Despite this, most expressed strong confidence in the outlook for Australian equities, with 77 per cent expecting annual returns from equities of more than 5 per cent over the next three years.

The growing appetite for equities at the expense of fixed interest, international equities and other asset classes comes despite a lacklustre performance from the ASX in 2014 that resulted in it ranking 44 out of 73 global exchanges. Australia has been a relatively poor equities market performer when ranked on the global stage for at least eight years.

It also follows the release of a thought-provoking report last year by Credit Suisse claiming SMSFs are “retarding investment, employment and growth in Australia”. It estimated that the SMSF sector, many of which are retail investors, which represents $531 billion of the country’s $1.7 trillion retirement savings, accounts for 16 per cent of the Australian stock exchange. This money, it argued, along with an obsession by investors for dividend yields, was affecting the decisions of corporate Australia in terms of share buybacks and dividend payments versus capital expenditure.

According to GSAM’s research, money will continue to pour into equities. The survey shows that more than a third of respondents intend to increase their exposure to Australian equities in the next 12 months.

Jessica Jones, who runs Third Party Distribution at GSAM in Asia Pacific ex Japan, said the research indicated that retail investors do not understand the importance of a diversified portfolio. She said 65-year-olds – who might be expected to have more diversified portfolios – have the highest bias to Australian equities, with 91 per cent invested in the asset class and 36 per cent intending to invest more of their retirement savings in equities in the next year. Only 17 per cent invested in fixed interest.

She said the research showed a clear disconnect between retail investors saying they have a low appetite for risk (42 per cent stated it was the most important criterion) and wanting to increase their exposure to Australian equities. The survey showed 86 per cent of retail investors have an exposure to Australian equities and only 13 per cent have direct fixed interest.

“Retail investors appear to be ignoring some important macro themes as they set investment intentions, and in our view the data points to an ongoing lack of meaningful diversification in investment portfolios,” she said.

The firm’s research found that two-thirds of respondents who had a financial adviser rated their financial adviser as the biggest influence on their investment decisions, compared with 65 per cent of investors who did not have a financial adviser who relied on their own experience, views and knowledge.

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

BT’s Best: Queensland’s top 10 beaches

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays. The great outlook at Palm Cove, north of Cairns.
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There’s plenty of good surf on a number of beaches, including Kirra in the south and Mooloolaba in the north.

North Kirra has become a beach community.

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays.

North Kirra has become a beach community.

There’s plenty of good surf on a number of beaches, including Kirra in the south and Mooloolaba in the north.

The great outlook at Palm Cove, north of Cairns.

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays.

The great outlook at Palm Cove, north of Cairns.

There’s plenty of good surf on a number of beaches, including Kirra in the south and Mooloolaba in the north.

North Kirra has become a beach community.

Beautiful Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays.

The great outlook at Palm Cove, north of Cairns.

There’s plenty of good surf on a number of beaches, including Kirra in the south and Mooloolaba in the north.

North Kirra has become a beach community.

BT’s Best is all about finding the very best of Queensland. And when it comes to our beaches, there are more than 1000 sandy strips in our fine state from which to choose.

We’ve had more than 200 submissions, consulted tourism industry gurus, and come up with a list which reflects the entire Queensland coast. It’s all about the very best surf, sand and social scenes.

1. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Islands

We thought about pulling a surprise by putting Whitehaven into number 2, but that would have been unfair. It’s a stunning saturation of sparkling turquoise and brilliant white. Whether you go for the birdseye view via helicopter or seaplane, float nearby in a yacht, cab cruiser or catamaran or camp overnight on the beach itself, these secluded crystal clear waters and pristine silica sands are well worth a visit. There are plenty of day trips from Daydream and other Whitsunday islands.

2. Palm Cove

About 20 years ago, Palm Cove was a getaway primarily for locals. Now, it’s an international destination with five-star hotels, first-class restaurants and a spot of shopping. The view of Double Island is still a treat as are the 500-year-old melaleuca ‘paperbark’ trees which line the beach.

3. Rainbow Beach

Do yourself a favour and walk up the hill at the southern end of Rainbow Beach. You’ll see spectacular views of a magical beach, and a bit further you’ll catch the sunset at Carlo Sandblow, considered one of Queensland’s best natural attractions. Backpackers flock to Rainbow Beach. It won’t be long before others are too.

4. North Kirra

It’s difficult to single out one Gold Coast beach, but North Kirra has plenty of space and is one of the best recreational beaches in the country. With a passionate Surf Live Saving Club, good beach fishing and a surfer’s dream of long right-handers at Kirra Point, it is home to a beach community. Eateries also have a strong presence.

5. Lake McKenzie

Not all beaches are on the coastline, and this one’s as much about the water as it is about the beach itself. Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island has crystal clear rainwater and nearly pure silica sands which are said to be great for the skin. And it’s free of jellyfish, sharks, crabs and sea lice.

6. Michaelmas Cay

Again, not all great pieces of sand are on the coastline. This popular cay is smack bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef which means there’s swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving like nowhere else in the world. Marine life is in abundance and it’s a protected national park. The only drawback is a lack of shade.

7. Four Mile Beach

Close to Port Douglas, Four Mile Beach has minimal development and an area with stinger nets. It’s the definition of “long walks on the beach”, and leads to Island Point’s reefs and mangroves at the mouth of the Mowbray River mouth.

8. Mooloolaba Beach

It’s become a bustling centre with shops, restaurants, a nearby harbour and high-end accommodation, but Mooloolaba Beach still remains a favourite with families. Nearby Alexandra Headland hosts surfers, but waves at the Mooloolaba strip are considered non-threatening and are patrolled by lifesavers.

9. Agnes Water to 1770

The stretch of golden sand from Agnes Water to the Town of 1770 offers the best of both worlds. At 1770, there are calm waters and lush natural settings, while 8km further, there are swells at Agnes Water, the most northern surf beach on the Queensland coast. It’s a quiet family getaway gaining in popularity as more hotels are built.

10.   Peregian Beach

Peregian Beach locals don’t really want others to know how good they’ve got it. They are quite happy for the swarms of tourists to make their way to Noosa, which is also a great beach. The difference is that Peregian has so much room to move. The waves can occasionally be rough, but it’s a spectacular beach with an easy-going village nearby.

Other favourites which just missed the cut …

Horseshoe Bay, Bowen

Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

Daintree Rainforest beaches

Etty Bay, Innisfail

Kings Beach, Caloundra

Bulcock Beach, Caloundra

Cylinder Beach, North Stradbroke

Surfers Paradise


Alexandra Headlands

Noosa Cove

Burleigh Heads


Palm Beach


Oaks Beach


Tully Heads

Mission Beach

Daydream Island

… and there are many more.

Information compiled by Eveline Fielding.

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

Paia’aua to debut alongside idol Karmichael Hunt

Duncan Paia’aua in action for the Broncos during the Holden Cup semi final in September last year. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty ImagesDuncan Paia’aua remembers watching Karmichael Hunt’s rugby league feats from afar, but this Saturday he will be sharing his Reds debut with the triple-code threat.
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Paia’aua, a former Broncos Under-20s player himself, said playing alongside one of his sporting heroes would be a dream come true.

“Karmichael was probably my favourite player growing up in league and he is a true professional, so it’s really good to be playing next to him,” he said.

It will be a baptism of fire for Paia’aua, who replaces Quade Cooper at fly-half in the game.

The rising star was not expecting to earn his first start so early,but he will have a handy helper off the field in Cooper, who has been somewhat of a mentor for the 20-year-old through the pre-season.

“I’m very lucky to have someone like him be my mentor,” he said.

“Before surgery on Monday he pulled me aside and told me what to do before the session and make sure I’m confident in everything I do and be more dominant.”

While most of the pre-season anticipation has surrounded Hunt’s debut, plenty of eyes will be on Paia’aua in the pivotal fly-half role.

Reds coach Richard Graham said he had complete faith in Paia’aua.

“There is a lot of confidence in Duncan and his ability,”he said.

“There’s a lot of responsibility in the other 14 guys that are on the field at the same time.

Reds coach Richard Graham said he expected Hunt might take a while to find his feet in his first rugby union match since 2009.

“There’ll be times, no doubt, he’ll find himself in situations he hasn’t in the last couple of years,” he said.

“But I go back to (Israel) Folau’s first game against the Reds two years ago and he certainly looked lost.

“It only took Folau one game and he learnt quickly.

“So we’ve got the two trials and getting into the Brumbies (in round one), Karmichael will be in a really good space.”

Whether or not he sets the world on fire with his play in Cairns, Graham said the vice-captain would be a positive influence on the team.

“If you’ve watched Karmichael throughout the pre-season he’s very vocal, dominant, very confident about the way he’s gone about his work.”

In a massive show of faith from Graham, Paia’aua will also be taking the goal-kicking duties as well as the playmaking role in the absence of James O’Connor.

A niggling knee injury has kept O’Connor out of Saturday’s trial against the Rebels, heading a list of 10 unavailable Reds.

Along with Cooper and O’Connor, the Reds are missing Rob Simmons (nerve), Greg Holmes (shoulder), Ben Daley (shoulder), Ed O’Donoghue (ankle) Dave McDuling (glute), Eddie Quirk (kneee), Ben Tapuai (hamstring) and Lachie Turner (shoulder).

Graham said he wasn’t worried by the growing casualty ward.

“It’s probably last week that’s caused use the most concern with the number of short-term injuries and we’re just working through that at the moment,” he said.

“A number of those guys will be fit again for next week but clearly for us the most important thing at this stage of the season is round one.”

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

Cheap and cheerful holidays for the tweens

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It’s right about now that you look in your pockets/wallet/purse and scream, “Where has all my money gone!”

Kids are expensive. (I mean feeding, clothing and entertaining them – not buying them, of course.) Never more so than at this time of year.

What with the unreasonable demands of new pairs of shoes, mobile phones and electronic games, the badgering can be brutal. (And that’s just for stuff for me!)

Squeezing in a summer break might bust the bank.

But not if you follow these handy hints from Bound Round, an educational and interactive travel platform for tweens, where they can record their experiences in journal, postcard and photographic format.

These are their top picks from the Kids’ Board for low-cost Christmas holiday fun, right across this wide brown land.

*Growing up, my sister and I called it the “gorilla mountain”. Tibrogagan is a sheer rock face, forming part of the Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast. The good news is, there are 11 smaller hills perfect for rock climbing and hiking. From there, head to the Strawberry Fields, where you only pay for the number you collect. And yes, the cafe sells chocolate-coated strawberries.

*Sydney’s an expensive city, right? Well, not if you go to the sprawling Darling Quarter Playground with a 21-metre flying fox, climbing ropes, giant slides, swings and water games. Or catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island to check out the city’s convict history. Campsites start from $45 a night. Grab activity booklets from the Visitor Information Centre for self-guided tours to discover the island’s shipbuilding past.

*Sometimes, I want to move to Perth, purely because of Whiteman Park. The kids can ride a vintage steam train, have a hit of tennis, explore the bike paths, check out the Motor Museum, or learn about native plants in the Children’s Forest. Afterwards, cool down in the maze of fountains at the Water Labyrinth in Forrest Place.

*If you’re doing the “Worlds” on the Gold Coast, explore farther afield at Mount Tamborine. Take a hike through the national park to see the magnificent Curtis Falls. (Mum or dad might like to suck away for a spell at Gwinganna Lifestyle retreat, hee hee…) Afterwards, in nearby Logan, visit the protected koalas at the Daisy Hill Conservation Park: entry is free.

*Lake Macquarie is a sleepy settlement a couple of hours north of Sydney. You can walk or bike around the lake, jump off Murray’s Beach jetty, or get “dirty and healthy and fit”, according to one Bound Rounder, with a bush walk in Watagans National Park. Drop by the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, where climbing on outdoor sculptures is actually encouraged.

These destinations are guaranteed to drag your tweens away from their devices for at least a few hours.

And they won’t mean a trip to Cash Converters to liquidate those unwanted Christmas gifts.

Email: [email protected]南京夜网.au

Twitter & Instagram: @TraceySpicer

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

Merged border force sees upgrade with bootcamp physical tests planned for employees

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Thousands of public servants at the Immigration Department and Customs service will have to get physical if they want a job at the new “Australian Border Force”.

“Operational” workers at the agencies hoping to be picked for the nation’s new border protection team must first prove themselves in boot-camp style tests of strength and stamina including push-ups, squats and shuttle-runs.

Those who do not shape-up will be shipped-out to desk jobs in the new 14,000-strong department.

The news comes days after departmental boss Mike Pezzullo told his staff in an Australia Day message that they must be prepared to “man the ramparts and protect our borders”.

Private sector coaches will put the bureaucrats through their paces with female border officials in the over-55 age group expected to perform four push-ups and six repetition squats as well as undergoing heart rate tests after mounting 22 steps in 60 seconds.

There will also be multi-stage shuttle runs, a technique usually involving 20 metre runs and used by sporting teams to test of cardiovascular fitness.

Younger public servants, aged up to 34 years, will be expected to perform 8 push-ups with 15 repetitions squats for male officials in the age group and 12 for females.

There will also be a requirement for the officers, most of whom will be getting fitness-tested for the first time in their working lives, to demonstrate the tricky “bridge hold” position.

The “Border Force Basic Fitness Assessment” is the latest surprise for Immigration’s public servants who also face tough “Organisational Suitability Requirement Assessments” as their department is taken over by the smaller Customs service.

There will also be a crackdown on second jobs, social media use and sloppy appearances among the department’s employees, as the Customs agency hierarchy tightens its grip on Immigration.

Do you know more? Send confidential tips to [email protected]南京夜网.au.

The new fitness requirements are being trialled among Customs officers in Victoria, it is understood, ahead of a roll-out to the service across Australia within a month.

Customs told Fairfax Media the fitness tests would apply to officers working on investigations and compliance operations, Australian and offshore detention centres, and those on duty at air and sea ports “and land and maritime domains”.

Mr Pezzullo made his comments about the nation’s ramparts in an Australia Day message to Immigration and Customs staff that also emphasised the departments’ roles as Australia’s “gateway” and an “open conduit” to the rest of the world.

A Customs spokeswoman said on Thursday that workers moving into the Border Force would be physically assessed to ensure they could carry out their duties safely and effectively,

“Officers assessed as not yet operationally ready will be provided with support and guidance to assist them to meet the requirements of a Border Force Officer,” she said.

“This includes the opportunity to be reassessed within a specified timeframe.

“If after reassessment an officer is deemed not operationally ready they will receive assistance to transition to an alternate workforce stream within the organisation.”

The Australian Border Force merged entity is set to launch in July.

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

Newcastle Jets drama a ‘storm in a teacup’, says Nathan Tinkler

Strange days indeed: Newcastle players meet before training on Thursday. Photo: Darren PatemanDefiant Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler has dismissed the chaos that has engulfed his free-falling A-League club as a “storm in a teacup”.
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In an interview with TheWorld Game website on Thursday, Tinkler indicated he would happily meet the January 31 deadline Football Federation Australia has imposed on him to settle the club’s debts, which he estimated were about $500,000 – but only on his terms.

The former billionaire believes FFA still owes him $5 million – a figure he maintains he paid as an acquisition fee when he replaced Con Constantine as owner in September 2010.

“This is storm in a teacup stuff … creditors are getting paid as we speak. It will all be resolved,” Tinkler told The World Game.

“I have said to FFA CEO David Gallop all along that we will deal with bills and this sort of stuff and that is getting dealt with now.

“This media deadline until the end of the month is really just that.

“I have told David we will take these things on and put the club in good standing and that’s what we’re on the path to doing.

“We are taking the first steps and the process of recapitalising the club will be starting immediately.”

The Newcastle Herald reported in May 2012 that Tinkler had paid FFA a $3.5 million acquisition fee, not $5 million, when he took control in 2010.

Those details emerged from a meeting between Tinkler and FFA chairman Frank Lowy in a Brisbane airport hangar to discuss the club’s future after Tinkler had handed back the A-League licence.

“Is there also a deadline for me getting my $5 million back from the FFA. Is that a deadline too?” Tinkler told The World Game.

“That would be good. That would really help. FFA is at me for about $500,000, and I am at them for $5 million.

“If they want to set a deadline to resolve those two issues, then I will be more than happy to resolve it by Saturday.”

Tinkler has until Saturday to settle the club’s debts, headed by $140,000 owed to Northern NSW Football and outstanding superannuation entitlements, and to convince the FFA that the club is a going concern.

“FFA has repeatedly spoken about benchmarks around stability and sustainability in the Jets operation,” an FFA spokesperson said.

“We’ve made this clear directly to the Jets owner and chairman Nathan Tinkler. In that context, the developments with the players and coaching staff create another layer of concern.

“The club has some immediate issues to address in relation to finances, personnel and structures and the timeframe is in the days, not weeks.”

On an extraordinary day of bloodletting on Wednesday, the Jets sacked captain Kew Jaliens, former A-League Golden Boot and Johnny Warren medallist Joel Griffiths, senior players David Carney, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi, and coaches Clayton Zane, Neil Young and Andrew Packer.

Maintaining his staunch support of first-year coach Phil Stubbins, Tinkler said the decision to show the players and coaches the door was “certainly not personal”.

“It’s the club heading in one direction and senior players going in another. It’s not quite the emotional upheaval that certain people in the media are trying to portray it as,” he said.

“It’s a planned strategic move that many people will say they probably saw coming.”

Stubbins recruited Young and Packer, who both relocated to Newcastle to join the Jets’ coaching staff last year in the build-up to the current A-League campaign.

The coach also signed Madaschi and Celeski, and two other Stubbins recruits, imports Marcos Flores and Jonny Steele, left the club less than six months into their contracts.

But Tinkler said it was “hard to judge a coach when he is forced to take on not just an inherited squad but also an inherited coaching staff”.

“There are not too many coaches in soccer who can say they will win with any squad and any coaching staff. They need their people around them, people they trust and believe in to implement the style of play they want,” Tinkler said.

“Now Phil will get the chance to have the squad he wants by the start of next year and for the rest of this year he will have a bunch of players there that will have to prove they are worthy of being in that squad next season.”

In a poll on the Newcastle Herald website on Thursday asking who is most to blame for the turmoil at the Jets, 62.88 per cent of respondents said Tinkler, 18.88 per cent said the players, and 18.24 per cent said Stubbins.

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

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