Bendigo Pioneers mark great start to season by beating North Ballarat Rebels 

THE Bendigo Bank Pioneers kicked off their season by beating North Ballarat Rebels in the AFL TAC Cup under-18s football clash at Craigieburn on Easter Saturday.
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Led by the play of Kyneton’s Jordan Mangan and Castlemaine’s Josh Cakitaki across half-back, skipper Jacob Chisari from South Mildura, Sandhurst’s Harry O’Meara and Lalbert’s Jake Maher through the centre and across midfield, the Pioneers won 12.18 (90) to 7.6 (48).

It was the club’s first victory since the Ollie Wines and Jake Stringer-inspired 10-point triumph against Northern Knights on July 14 in last season’s 13th round Huntly’s Strauch Reserve.

Although they had 15 players in their first TAC Cup under-18s clash, the Pioneers teamed superbly after a nervous opening to the 2013 campaign.

North Ballarat capitalised on a stiff breeze to lead 12-nil after less than five minutes.

Both of the Rebels goals were taken after two marks inside forward 50m.

Bendigo’s defence tightened up after the early onslaught to concede just two more marks inside the Rebels attacking 50m for the rest of the contest.

The Pioneers finished the first quarter by scoring four consecutive behinds.

Bendigo made a brilliant start to term two.

Liam Byrne’s strong tackle at the centre bounce earned a free kick.

Byrne passed to Chisari who in turn handpassed to the pacy O’Meara to goal on the run from near the 50m arc.

The Rebels replied to lead 19-12 after five minutes.

A series of passes by the Pioneers was capped by a mark and goal to Irymple’s Bryce Heeps.

Mangan’s tap at the next centre bounce ended up with Bendigo winning the centre break and the first of three goals by Sandhurst’s Alex Hywood to take the lead in the 12th minute.

A superb kick-in by Lockington’s Trent Bacon after a Rebels point set off an attack down the outer wing from which Blake O’Halloran marked and goaled to lead 30-20 in the 15th minute.

The Rebels intercepted a kick across ground near centre half-forward and goaled.

It was one of few errors the Pioneers made in transition from defence to attack.

Bendigo hit back with consecutive goals, which included one by O’Meara on the run to lead 43-26 at half-time.

The Pioneers won the crucial third quarter by 14 points.

Highs included Chisari’s brilliant roving and quick handpass to O’Meara in the clear to kick his third major.

Kyneton’s Daniel Davie was rewarded for his chase and tackle with a goal, while South Bendigo’s Blake Poyser intercepted a pass from which the Pios attacked and Hywood goaled.

The Pioneers did most of the attacking in the final term.

O’Halloran and Hywood were on target in a quarter where several shots at goal were askew.

While it was second-year players such as Chisari, Mangan and O’Meara who stood out, a lot of the Pioneers newcomers showed a lot of skill and poise under pressure.

Shortly after they had sung “We Are The Pioneers” with gusto, coach David Newett praised the team for its intensity, workrate and determination to win a lot of one-on-one contests against the Rebels.

The Pioneers led the inside 50m tally, 54-31; clearances 27-21; and marks inside 50m, 7-4.

“Every player contributed to this victory. It’s a fantastic feeling to start the season with a win,” Newett said.

“We showed today that by getting the ball into space and using our pace and skills that we can open sides up.

“Today is reward for effort for all the work you have put in. The challenge is to go again next week,” he said of facing Murray Bushrangers on Saturday at Shepparton’s Deakin Reserve.

GREAT PLAY: Bendigo Pioneers’ Billy Evans wins the ball in the midfield. Picture: AFL PHOTOS

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Street art debate: a conversation Ballarat needs to have

IS graffiti art or vandalism? It’s a question dividing the Ballarat community.
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It’s also an issue that is costing more than $250,000 a year to address and frustrating many business owners who have to clean up graffiti attacks on their buildings.

According to City of Ballarat’s public art advisory committee head, councillor Des Hudson, a conversation about urban art is something the community needs to have.

“Where there are legitimate spaces, acceptable designs and approval from the community, urban art can be an acceptable form of public art,” Cr Hudson says.

He cites the council’s traffic signal box art project as a great success in curbing graffiti and encouraging urban art.

Started two years ago with the approval of VicRoads, the $30,000 project has seen 20 signal boxes painted by Ballarat artists.

The project is modelled on a similar effort by the City of Brisbane and links professional artists and community groups together.

Cr Hudson says another 15 signal boxes will be painted by the end of this financial year at a further cost of $10,000.

“When you use public art to reduce the number of blank canvasses, it provides an opportunity for urban art to come out in public domain,” Cr Hudson says.

“Generally, it then doesn’t attract graffiti as it becomes sacred space.”

However Cr Hudson, who also chairs the Ballarat community safety committee, says not all graffiti can be considered appropriate or art.

“For me, graffiti is tagging, it’s words and scrolls that doesn’t mean anything to anyone,” he says.

“It’s designed to damage property and generally make an area appear untidy.

“To that end, we would commend the work of Ballarat police in Operation Centaur, which is taking a hard line to people who participate in this form of vandalism.”

The council has also spent good money trying to clean the streets of graffiti.

“We have spent in excess of $250,000 a year on a graffiti removal program,” Cr Hudson says.

“That’s in partnership with the Department of Justice… we have received around $100,000 from the state government.”

Delacombe-based DJ Graffiti Removals owner David Jebb says removing graffiti from a wall can take between 15 minutes and three hours per square metre.

The costs, he says, can be anywhere from $20 to $45 per square metre.

“I remove the graffiti with biodegradable chemicals. Once its off, I use pressure wash (to clean up),” Mr Jebb says.

“But sometimes I have to paint the wall because the graffiti damages the painted surface.”

One Ballarat businesswoman – who doesn’t want to be named – says she has spent more than $2000 on cleaning up graffiti from her business premises in the past 10 years.

“We got tagged once a year,” she says.

“A lot of the time, depending upon the size, I’d get out there and remove it myself.”

“When it comes to removing graffiti, she says, Ballarat businesses need to be more proactive.

“I would appeal to business owners to remove it immediately themselves,” she says.

“They (graffiti artists) are doing it so that they can see their tags.

“We need to encourage people to be a bit more concerned about the look of their business. That’s what makes our city look so much better.”

Shep Cannery owner Peter Corboy is also concerned with the appearance of his business, but he decided on a different strategy by commissioning sanctioned graffiti.

Mr Corboy says the colourful and vibrant mural on a huge shipping container kept on the side of his shop in Wendouree has attracted a lot of notice.

“It’s my way of stopping graffiti,” Mr Corboy says.

“The container was a big white canvas and someone would have come and put tags on it.

“I didn’t want to look at rubbish.”

Mr Corboy says he spent $50 and two hours scrubbing to remove a previous tag.

The commissioned work, which was done by Ballarat artist Cax and two of the youths he mentors, cost $300 in paint.

“It was something that was worth doing and looking at,” Mr Corboy says.

The work has already attracted positive comments and lots of youngsters have come through for a look.

“I spoke to the kids who were doing it and they seemed really good.

“They had a passion for street art but just nowhere to do it.”

One passionate proponent for street art is 36-year-old Ballarat artist K23.

Somewhere in a leafy city suburb, the father-of-three will put a circle cutter to sticker paper, pick up some spray paint and begin creating.

Inspired by patterns in nature, the softly-spoken visual art graduate likes to produce work that reflects the bright colours of sunsets and flowers.

On first glance, the artworks – bright circles placed on top of each other – might seem random. But they aren’t, sometimes taking weeks to finish.

K23, as he likes to be known, has previously exhibited his work in galleries.

But these new artworks will instead be stuck on the back of signs, on signal boxes and in laneways – mostly in the dead of night.

K23 has been creating contemporary art for the past seven years, but only got into street art in the past two years.

“I like to put art in the public spaces so it adds colour and pattern,” he says.

“Public spaces can be a bit dull and grey.

“It is nice to have some colour and art to look at.”

Street art, he says, brings vibrancy to the landscape and creates public discussion.

“You reach a different audience on the streets than in a gallery,” he says.

“Art gets people thinking.

“Street art adds to our lives.” Reclaiming public spaces from advertisements is also a motivator for K23.

The artist says he would never deface historical buildings, schools or private property.

K23, whose work has appeared in Melbourne, New York and the UK, says street art is a global phenomenon.

Ballarat, he says, is in dire need of a legitimate space dedicated to street art.

Graffiti on the roof of the MLC building opposite Craig’s Royal Hotel in the Ballarat CBD.

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Dragon Mile draws hundreds to compete

FAST times were achieved by many athletes in yesterday’s running of the 27th Bendigo Bank Dragon Mile.
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A big morning of racing include the mini-mile for grades four and under, and the mile classic for grades 5-6, years 7-8, years 9-10, and the open.

The Dragon Mile drew hundreds of competitors across a wide range of age groups as they raced along Pall Mall, up Mitchell Street, left onto Queen Street and a U-turn before heading back down Mitchell Street and to the finish opposite the old Bendigo Advertiser building on Pall Mall.

Results from yesterday’s racing:

Dragon Mile open

4.24 Brady Threlfall, 4.43 Jesse Fullerton, 4.47 Jacob Nolan, 4.48 Jamie Cook, 4.54 Luke Crameri, 4.59 Peter Guida, 5.04 Harrison Pearse (Girton), 5.05 Melissa Duncan, 5.14 Daniel Plowright, 5.18 Dave Tarrant, 5.26 Ross Freemantle, 5.27 Katie Duncan, 5.31 Jake Salt, 5.36 Zachary Raeburn, 5.37 William Watson, 5.44 Michael Gibbon, 5.47 Matthew Wilson, 5.48 Nathan Cain, 6.00 Gary Murphy, 6.16 Nathan Healey, 6.28 Darren Trevaskis, 6.37 Jess Pethybridge, 6.43 Pete Taylor, 6.46 Kelly Hayles, 7.59 John Meagher, 8.00 Tim Gretgrix, 8.19 Elizabeth Guida, 8.54 Bec Doherty, 9.33 Tara Hosking, 9.34 Lisa Nicolson,

Dragon Mile years 9-10

4.48 Joshua Powell (Creek Street Christian College), 5.03 Jackson Blakemore (Creek Street Christian College), 5.06 Xavier Walsh (Catholic College Bendigo), 5.08 Matthew Heislers (Girton Grammar), 5.12 Beau Roy-Clements (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.28 Teleah Hayes (Rochester Secondary College), 5.24 Peter Rothacker (Creek Street Christian College), 5.34 Ryan Brook (Bendigo South East), 5.38 Luke Rowlatt (Bendigo South East), 5.39 Tom Barkmeyer, 5.43 Nico Schoobee (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.46 Michael Flynn (Weeroona College), 5.47 James Brown (Catholic College Bendigo), 5.52 Carnie Edlin (Bendigo South East), 5.52 Gary Egan (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.02 Maxwell Pearse (Girton Grammar), 6.03 Tom Mannix (Bendigo South East), 6.08 Travis Mercante (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.09 Mitchell Keuken (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.10 Thomas Dante (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.12 Demi Goodall-Hoffman (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.17 Nathan Burrell (Bendigo South East), 6.22 Shaina Brook (Bendigo South East), 6.30 Andrew Bruce (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.38 Brianna Elder (Weeroona College), 6.39 Paige Davis (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.40 Jayden Wright (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.42 Grace Edlin (Bendigo South Eat Secondary College), 6.49 Shelby Gahan (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.54 Maddie Law, 7.03 Ruby Tuohey, 7.11 Matilda Gibbs (Girton Grammar), 7.24 Casey Barczynski (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 7.55 Matilda Schaeche (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 7.58 Jocelyn Teggerth, 7.59 Bridie Pearse (Catholic College Bendigo), 12.13 Karina Robertson (Weeroona College).

dragon mile years 7-8

5.13 Hugh Schaeche (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.16 Spain Ndikumana (Weerona College), 5.18 Zacharia Paynter (Nambour, Queensland), 5.20 Anthony Dempster (Victory College), 5.21 Ben Powell (Creek Street Christian College), 5.23 Alexander Nielsen (Girton Grammar), 5.26 Jordan Wanafalea (Weeroona College), 5.41 Samuel Wallace (Victory College), 5.48 Matthew Sporle (Catholic College Bendigo), 5.52 Jonas Hosking (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.53 Kayle Thompson (Girton Grammar), 5.54 Kristian McNaughton (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.55 Luke Keuken (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.57 Kate Salvador (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.58 Wade Kinniburgh (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 5.59 Callum Tucker (Bendigo South East Secondary College), 6.00 Liam Christensen (Victory College), 6.04 Kane Watts (Bendigo South East), 6.04 Tom Floyd (BSE), 6.05 Jake Hilson (Weeroona College), 6.15 Harvey Gibbs (Girton Grammar), 6.16 Darby Semmens (Castlemaine), 6.16 Kyle Butcher (Bendigo South East), 6.17 Meg Patterson (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.23 Jack Bourke (Weeroona College), 6.27 Jaydon Flynn (Weeroona College), 6.30 Adelia Ilsley (Bendigo South East), 6.31 Corben Leskie (Bendigo South East), 6.32 Jessica Law, 6.33 Emily Patterson (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.34 Maddison Hooke (Weeroona College), 6.35 Alice Bailey (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.39 Madison Hill, 6.40 Gabrielle Rusbridge (Weeroona College), 6.40 Alex Di Valentine (Bendigo South East), 6.41 Sam Watts (Bendigo South East), 6.46 Annabel Bradshaw, 6.47 Jacinta Rooke (Crusoe College), 6.49 Gabrielle Kleyn (Catholic College Bendigo), 6.58 Rosie Jeffrey (Bendigo South East), 7.01 Emily Seery (Bendigo South East), 7.07 Charlotte Edlin (Bendigo South East), 7.10 Maddi McGregor (Bendigo South East), 7.11 Harry Harrick (Weeroona College), 7.12 Breana Merrin (Girton Grammar), 7.17 Rebecca Dower (Bendigo South East), 7.21 Jessica Saffron (Weeroona College), 7.25 Emma Hindson, 7.27 Caitlin Rowlatt (Bendigo South East), 7.31 Darian King (Bendigo South East), 7.39 Alana Mitchell (Weeroona College), 8.34 Georgia McGuiness (Weeroona College), 8.35 Alexandra Moat (Bendigo South East), 9.59 Chantal Hansford (Bendigo South East).

Dragon Mile GRADES 5-6

5.54 Lachlan Balcke (Lockwood), 5.58 Zahra Hayes, 6.00 Fraser Symons (St Therese’s), 6.04 Macklin Wellard (Eaglehawk North), 6.05 Cayden Thompson (Girton Grammar), 6.12 Bridie Semmens, 6.14 Fletcher Gallagher (St Therese’s), 6.15 Anthony Delgallo, 6.17 Noah Walsh (St Therese’s), 6.18 Pheobe Wearne, 6.22 Matilda Moore (St Joseph’s), 6.33 Ethan Guida (Girton Grammar), 6.34 Yazmine Hayes, 6.37 Frank Gibbs (Girton Grammar), 6.38 Ella Wicks (Lockwood), 6.39 Nick Williams (Girton Grammar), 6.47 Connor Mayman (Strathfieldsaye), 6.40 Jack Merrin (Lockwood), 6.49 Dane Keuker (Strathfieldsaye), 7.04 Ryan Salvador (Kennington), 7.07 Jakeb Nicolson (Holy Rosary), 7.09 Emily Heislers (Girton Grammar), 7.17 Jack Di Valentine (Axedale), 7.18 Sharn McNamara (Lockwood), 7.19 Ted Taylor, 7.27 Tom McCormick (St Peter’s), 7.29 Connor Symons (St Joseph’s), 7.29 Tamas Spark, 7.43 Braydn Murley (Weeroona College), 7.44 Ella Fletcher (Girton Grammar), 7.45 Greta Schaeche (Kennington), 7.56 Abbey Hromenko (Huntly), 8.02 Aisha Quattrocchi (Lockwood), 8.15 Lauren White (Huntly), 8.18 Jazna Austin (Lockwood), 8.19 Shakira Dean (Big Hill), 8.26 Sean Stephens-Schultz (Lockwood), 8.34 Thomas Moore (Huntly), 8.48 Jordan Hayles, 9.51 Jake Hindson (White Hills).

Mini-mile grades 4-under

2.46 Harvey Gallagher (St Therese’s), 2.52 Luke Salvador (Kennington), 2.53 Ryley Taylor (Lockwood), 2.54 Nathan Delgallo, 3.00 Erin Hilson (White Hills), 3.00 Timothy Long (St Therese’s), 3.00 Baxter Symons (St Therese’s), 3.01 Toby Balcke (Lockwood), 3.03 Carissa Brook (Quarry Hill), 3.03 James Kay (Girton), 3.04 Jack McDonald (Strathfieldsaye), 3.05 Zayne Pearce (Axedale), 3.05 Jack Craig (St Joseph’s), 3.06 Cain Donnelly (Kennington), 3.10 Piper Dunlop (St Therese’s), 3.11 Tyler McLennan (Huntly), 3.12 Joshua Ilsley, 3.12 Lucia Dyer (Kennington), 3.13 Cameron Gibbon, 3.14 Solomon Gibbs (Girton), 3.15 Kaleb Crothers (Lockwood), 3.16 Tully Dunlop (St Therese’s), 3.19 Max Balcke (Lockwood), 3.19 Cooper Rooke (Lockwood), 3.20 Elka Barnett (Kennington), 3.20 Jack Fry (St Liborius), 3.21 Owen Towler (St Liborius), 3.21 Jade Donnelly (Kennington), 3.23 Fynn Neilsen-Proctor, 3.25 Caitlin Campbell, 3.27 Mairead Spark, 3.27 Gemma Quattrocchi (Lockwood), 3.30 Hudson Symons (St Therese’s), 3.30 Keely Fullerton (California Gully), 3.31 Callum Craig (St Joesph’s), 3.32 Joshua Liersch (Axedale), 3.32 Ebony Delgallo, 3.33 Samuel Kay (Girton), 3.36 Ebony Butcher (Strathfieldsaye), 3.39 Baillie Bennett (Weeroona College), 3.39 Tom Reid (Quarry Hill), 3.40 Lachlan Feueherdt (Camp Hill), 3.43 Damon Kaine (Girton Grammar), 3.47 Skye Webb (Epsom), 3.47 Max Healey, 3.48 Oliver Mayman (Strathfieldsaye), 3.49 Shae Crouch (St Joseph’s), 3.53 Thomas Nicolson (Holy Rosary), 3.54 Mia Bolitho Williams (White Hills), 3.55 Luke Feueherdt (Camp Hill), 3.56 Portia Kaine (Girton Grammar), 3.56 Depp Hosking (Girton) , 3.57 Shayla Webb (Quarry Hill), 3.57 William Harvey (Axedale), 3.59 Mackenzie Webster (St Francis), 4.06 Hunter Webster (St Francis), 4.08 Marley Gallagher (St Therese’s), 4.16 Beth Towler (St Liborius), 4.17 Catherine Fry (St Liborius), 4.18 Jorja Crothers (Lockwood), 4.19 Courtney Campbell, 4.20 Logan Horomenko (Huntly), 4.12 Abbey Thompson (Girton Grammar), 4.25 Ella Dobell, 4.26 Charlotte Taylor (Healesvillee), 4.29 Abby Warn (Lockwood), 4.30 Darcy Gath (White Hills), 4.30 Zora Shelten (Lockwood), 4.42 Myia Nicolson (Holy Rosary), 4.44 Jessica Taylor,4.45 Rena Nichol (Girton Grammar), 4.48 Tyler Quattrocchi (Lockwood), 4.49 Thomas Harvey, 4.40 Kimberly Stingel (St Peter’s), 4.52 Angus Seigloff (St Josephs), 4.53 Joel Purdy (Huntly), 4.56 Tom McNamara (Lockwood), 5.0 Joshua Feueherdt, 5.18 Nikita Purdy (Huntly).

SPRINT: They’s off and racing in the mini-mile for girls. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

SPRINT: They’re off and racing in the mini-mile for girls. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

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Sunscreen scaremongers given the slip, slop, slap

Those aware of the risks of nanoparticles in sunscreen are less likely to use it. Photo: Craig Sillitoe “There is more risk from not using sunscreen and getting burnt than there is from using sunscreen and the potential penetration of nanoparticles”: Dr Maxine McCall, Principal Research Scientist. Photo: Quentin Jones
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Health experts fear lives will be lost because of what some view as scaremongering about risks from tiny particles used in some sunscreens.

Concern about the potential damage caused by Friends of the Earth’s anti-nanotechnology campaign is so great that public health advocates are abandoning their previous cautions on using sunscreens with nanoparticles.

”In the past I have said that consumers are better to avoid sunscreen with nanoparticles in it,” said Michael Moore, chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia. ”But we are rethinking our position as evidence grows of people being reluctant to use sunscreen.”

One third of respondents to a federal government survey made public in February said they were aware of possible risks of using sunscreens with nanoparticles. In the group that was aware, 87 per cent said it made them concerned about using sunscreen.

Nanoparticles are so small they are measured in millionths of a millimetre. The concern is that they generate free radicals which could penetrate cells and interact with cell protein or DNA in unknown ways. However, research has yet to establish proof that nanoparticles in sunscreen are harmful to health.

In contrast, it is proved beyond doubt that using sunscreen protects against skin cancer, which causes 200 deaths a year in Australia and for which thousands of Australians are treated every year, said Terry Slevin, chairman of Cancer Council Australia’s skin cancer committee. Scaring people based on “extremely unconvincing evidence” of a “theoretical” problem means “public health harm is likely to occur”, Mr Slevin said.

“There is more risk from not us using sunscreen and getting burnt than there is from using sunscreen and the potential penetration of nanoparticles,” said Maxine McCall, CSIRO nanosafety research co-ordinator and senior principal research scientist.

Sunscreens with the  “blockers” zinc oxide and titanium oxide scatter or absorb UV radiation across a broader range of the UV spectrum than competing sunscreens relying on chemicals alone.

Sunscreens with metal oxide particles in their traditional or ‘‘bulk’’ form appear milky or white on the skin, such as zinc cream, the ‘‘Aussie war paint’’.  When the metal oxides are in nanoparticle form the lotion is more transparent and so more appealing to many consumers.

Friends of the Earth  wants mandatory safety testing and labelling of sunscreen products using nanoparticles, similar to European regulations to apply from July.

“We sell a product that is safe and it’s nano,” said  Rade Dudurovic, chairman of the listed company Antaria, a Perth manufacturer of zinc-based nanoparticles used in sunscreen.

“Unless [Friends of the Earth] can provide some form of academic, reputable medical evidence to suggest it is unsafe, it’s a spurious debate.”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration said there was “currently no evidence” to suggest a particular safety risk from sunscreens with nanoparticles or to support tougher labelling requirements.  New Zealand will require mandatory labelling from 2015.

Friends of the Earth’s  nanotechnology project co-ordinator Louise Sales said the fault for public concern about sunscreen safety lies not with the campaign group but with the Therapeutic Goods Administration  for failing to act to give consumers  peace of mind.

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Prices set to boost mining tax

The Gillard government’s mining tax should bring improved revenue flows when the big mining companies send in their March-quarter receipts over the next 10 days.
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While almost certain to fall short of the $2 billion in receipts forecast by Treasury for this financial year, the three commodities captured under the tax have been fetching higher prices in the past three months than during the December and September quarters.

The tax operates under a complicated system that is difficult to predict, but higher prices for iron ore, coking coal and thermal coal are the best indicators the tax will bring in more than the $126 million raised in its first six months.

The average iron ore price in the past three months was slightly more than $US148 a tonne – a 23 per cent improvement on the $US120 a tonne averaged in the December quarter.

The amount of iron ore sold in the March quarter was hampered by cyclone interruptions in the Pilbara, but these lost sales will be partially offset by the expansion programs in which companies such as BHP Billiton constantly increase their volumes of iron ore exports.

Coking coal prices improved more modestly, with the average price for the March period being 7 per cent better than during the December quarter.

Data compiled by the McCloskey Group suggests the benchmark thermal coal product exported from Newcastle fetched an average price of $US91.62 in the March quarter – 9 per cent better than the December quarter.

Treasury and Australian Tax Office officials will appear before a Senate inquiry into the tax on Wednesday, where the gap between forecast revenues and receipts will be investigated.

Some experts have been warning since August 2012 that mining companies would use their deferred tax credits to reduce the amount they pay, yet no action was taken to close the loophole.

In March, Rio Tinto estimated its deferred tax credit stood at $1.2 billion, while it also reported a further $12.6 billion worth of possible tax credits that were not yet formalised.

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Alliance surge fuels Qantas

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says its alliance with Emirates will help counter stiff competition from rivals such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific but he will not bring forward long-term targets for its international operations.
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Launching the alliance on Sunday, Mr Joyce said the airline had experienced a sixfold increase in bookings to Europe on the joint network in the first nine weeks of sales compared with the same period last year.

The tie-up is mostly focused on routes to Europe but includes services to North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand. The airlines still need approval for trans-Tasman flying from the New Zealand government.

Mr Joyce said its fares on routes to Europe would drop on average by about $100 as a result of the alliance. Flying to Europe via Dubai rather than Singapore would reduce transit fees, landing fees and extra flight charges.

”We will be going through all the fares and aligning them and deciding what is the appropriate fare … in the various markets,” he said.

The two airlines’ fares will be aligned over the next few weeks, removing the discrepancy evident over the past few weeks.

A Qantas A380 and another superjumbo from Emirates flew in formation above the Opera House in Sydney on Sunday to mark the beginning of the alliance. The pilots reportedly practised by flying the route dozens of times in sophisticated flight simulators.

Despite the bullish response from travellers, Mr Joyce said Qantas would not look at expanding its premium international operations until they met their long-term targets, including breaking even by the 2015 financial year.

But he emphasised that the alliance would bolster Qantas’ ability to maintain two daily services between Australia and London via Dubai.

”The Dubai-London is actually one of the top-selling sectors with the Emirates code on it,” he said. ”Emirates said we could deal with more capacity on Dubai-London.”

Some industry insiders have questioned Qantas’ ability to fill seats between Dubai and London. Many passengers flying from Australia will get off in Dubai to catch connecting flights to destinations in continental Europe.

The competition regulator has also imposed conditions on Qantas and Emirates on the trans-Tasman route, which includes maintaining capacity on four overlapping routes.

Mr Joyce said the limitations on the trans-Tasman route would not allow Qantas to shift flights from the four overlapping routes to start up new services.

Qantas has suggested the alliance could allow it to start new services between Adelaide and Auckland.

”We are still looking at opportunities on the Tasman,” he said.

Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific – the main rivals to Qantas and Emirates – have already been reacting to the alliance with more competitive fares on flights to Europe.

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The globe spins and shows the most astute what time can teach

At the beginning of the year I made a range of forecasts of how key financial markets would perform in 2013. We are now exactly a quarter of the way through the year and it is timely to revisit those predictions to see how accurate or, in some cases, inaccurate they are proving to be.
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When it comes to investing it is critical to be accountable for your decision-making and accept the market is never wrong.

Australian sharemarket

I forecast the benchmark All Ordinaries Index to rise about 20 per cent to 5550. The assumption was falling interest rates would strong-arm investors into the stockmarket to gain an acceptable return, an outcome term deposits would no longer be able to deliver.

The All Ordinaries galloped 9.4 per cent higher in January and February as retail investors switched out of cash and northern hemisphere funds zeroed in on Australia’s high dividend-paying stocks.

In March, however, the market entered a corrective phase; it has fallen by about 3.6 per cent since March 11. Resources have taken the brunt of the selling, with renewed concerns about China’s economic circumstances.

The current pull-back should end in the next few weeks. April has been the best performing month on the Australian market over the past 20 years, with an 85 per cent positive strike rate and an average return of more than 3 per cent.

As Richard Coppleson from Goldman Sachs recently told investors in his daily report, investors are at present receiving $14 billion of dividends, most of which will find its way back into the market.

History tells us the market can rise at least another 10 per cent simply through valuation expansion before earnings growth takes over.

On this basis, I believe the All Ordinaries can surpass my original target and will hit 5600 points some time during 2013.US sharemarket

I originally predicted the US market would struggle to advance far during the course of 2013 because an economic recovery would drive interest rates higher.

In the first quarter, though, the US market has motored almost 10 per higher to record levels. The combination of accelerating economic growth and the Federal Reserve’s steadfast approach to quantitative easing is proving the elixir to extend a four-year rally.

History tells us the US is about to enter the seasonally poor period of the year, captured by the phrase ”sell in May and go away”. Given the vigorous first-quarter performance, it would be foolish to ignore this seasonal pattern.

Transcending this, though, is a rejuvenated consumer and a more bullish corporate America. Combine these elements with the Fed’s heavy foot on interest rates and the S&P 500 Index can rise another 10 per cent to 1700 points. But when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke eventually reverses his policy, investors should be wary.

Interest rates

Official interest rates set by the Reserve Bank of Australia have remained steady in the first quarter, while the 10-year bond rate has firmed from 3 per cent to more than 3.4 per cent. I predicted the RBA would cut by between 25 and 50 basis points during 2013, but a thumping February jobs report has the market betting rates are on hold.

I still believe the RBA will lower rates by another 25 basis points. While the lead indicators of housing finance and consumer spending are showing signs of life, the recovery is tepid. In conversations with companies over the past month, the overwhelming message is that many sectors have stalled and confidence is declining. This should see a disappointing earnings season for the period to June 30.

The RBA needs to ensure industrial companies turn up the growth dial to make up for a drop in spending by the miners over the next two years. Miners have contributed almost 60 per cent of the nation’s economic growth over the past few years.

I now forecast that official interest rates will bottom at 2.75 per cent during 2013.The dollar

The Australian dollar remained resilient in the first quarter in spite of a step-down in commodity prices. The strength has been displayed most acutely against the yen, the British pound and the euro, while it is still level pegging against the resurgent greenback.

At the beginning of the year I predicted the dollar would retain its strength, based on most of the other major currencies suffering from an oversupply due to money printing.

This prediction remains current and the dollar will continue to float in a range between US96¢ and US105¢. Falling below the bottom of this range would require the RBA to further reduce domestic interest rates and the US economy to flourish. This scenario is unlikely to present itself until later in 2013.

Commodities

I had forecast that, after 18 months of declines, industrial metals and bulk commodities would stabilise during 2013 as world growth upgraded.

In January this set-up looked to be unfolding nicely, but in more recent times the story has become dubious as increases in the supply of bulk commodities and industrial metals has been met by an underwhelming Chinese economy.

China’s economic growth has taken a permanent step down and the next six months should be instructive in telling us the new long-term run rate. Until then it is difficult to see a sustained recovery for resources.

Gold

Anybody who is anyone in the investment world seemed to be overweight gold heading into 2013. This has proved to be a poor decision. The precious metal has traded between $US1570 and $US1800 an ounce for more than a year and is currently precariously poised at the floor of this range. Gold’s latest bedfellow is US-dollar weakness and, despite the Fed printing $US85 billion a month, the greenback is rising against nearly every currency except Australia’s.

Until any weakness in the US dollar resumes, gold is going to struggle to break out of it funk.

Oil

Unlike other commodities, oil has steadily climbed in 2013, encouraged by a fresh splurge of money printing and a healthier US economy. At the start of the year I believed Nymex West Texas crude could struggle back above $US100 a barrel, and at $US97 that looks to become a reality soon.

In the longer run the emergence of abundant gas around the globe and the eventual removal of quantitative easing could undermine oil quite a bit. This, though, may be a story beyond 2013.

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Billabong sizes up takeover offers as decision looms

Billabong shares last traded at 73 cents. Photo: Glenn HuntBillabong directors were forced to cut short their Easter holiday break, meeting at the weekend to discuss two private equity bids pitched at the surfwear and sports apparel business that could bring a formal takeover proposal as early as Monday.
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Billabong held a board meeting at the weekend where it is believed the strength and weaknesses of proposals from both its takeover suitors were discussed.

Despite markets being closed on Monday, there could be an announcement from Billabong to inform the market about the private equity offers and a decision by directors to either support one or reject both.

Billabong confirmed 10 days ago that the private equity suitors were still interested despite a sharp fall in its share price, before a trading halt was called after fears the potential buyers had walked away, leaving Billabong without a credible buyer.

Shares hit a low of 63¢ when the trading halt was called, against an indicative price of $1.10 per share put on the table by the takeover suitors.

Billabong has interest from two buyers: a team led by Billabong executive Paul Naude and Sycamore Partners, and the other by US retailer VF Corp and private equity group Altamont.

Billabong last traded at 73¢ and fears of a private equity walkout were further stoked when Credit Suisse published a base-case discounted cash flow valuation for the company of as low as 49¢.

But Credit Suisse said it would retain a $1.10 target price to reflect the likelihood of a takeover proceeding.

There has also been speculation that the final offer price from either of the private equity groups could be as a low as 80¢ to reflect recent trading performance by Billabong and worsening conditions in some markets.

It comes at a crucial time for Billabong as it faces tough trading conditions across most of its global markets and a recent breach of its banking covenants after writing off most of the value of its flagship Billabong apparel brand.

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Alliance surge fuels Qantas

Qantas boss Alan Joyce says its alliance with Emirates will help counter stiff competition from rivals such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific but he will not bring forward long-term targets for its international operations.
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Launching the alliance on Sunday, Mr Joyce said the airline had experienced a sixfold increase in bookings to Europe on the joint network in the first nine weeks of sales compared with the same period last year.

The tie-up is mostly focused on routes to Europe but includes services to North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand. The airlines still need approval for trans-Tasman flying from the New Zealand government.

Mr Joyce said its fares on routes to Europe would drop on average by about $100 as a result of the alliance. Flying to Europe via Dubai rather than Singapore would reduce transit fees, landing fees and extra flight charges.

”We will be going through all the fares and aligning them and deciding what is the appropriate fare … in the various markets,” he said.

The two airlines’ fares will be aligned over the next few weeks, removing the discrepancy evident over the past few weeks.

A Qantas A380 and another superjumbo from Emirates flew in formation above the Opera House in Sydney on Sunday to mark the beginning of the alliance. The pilots reportedly practised by flying the route dozens of times in sophisticated flight simulators.

Despite the bullish response from travellers, Mr Joyce said Qantas would not look at expanding its premium international operations until they met their long-term targets, including breaking even by the 2015 financial year.

But he emphasised that the alliance would bolster Qantas’ ability to maintain two daily services between Australia and London via Dubai.

”The Dubai-London is actually one of the top-selling sectors with the Emirates code on it,” he said. ”Emirates said we could deal with more capacity on Dubai-London.”

Some industry insiders have questioned Qantas’ ability to fill seats between Dubai and London. Many passengers flying from Australia will get off in Dubai to catch connecting flights to destinations in continental Europe.

The competition regulator has also imposed conditions on Qantas and Emirates on the trans-Tasman route, which includes maintaining capacity on four overlapping routes.

Mr Joyce said the limitations on the trans-Tasman route would not allow Qantas to shift flights from the four overlapping routes to start up new services.

Qantas has suggested the alliance could allow it to start new services between Adelaide and Auckland.

”We are still looking at opportunities on the Tasman,” he said.

Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific – the main rivals to Qantas and Emirates – have already been reacting to the alliance with more competitive fares on flights to Europe.

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Sunday, April 7

Shining example: Antiques Master.FREE TO AIR
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Miranda, ABC1, 9.30pm

Miranda’s latest raison d’etre is to find herself a boyfriend now that Gary, whom she fancies, is smitten with local bimbo Rose. A hesitant Miranda and her friends hit the clubs for a girls’ night out. Stevie and Tilly pick up fellas fairly quickly but Miranda has a slightly more difficult time with her signature move, dancing ”like a Thunderbird who needs a wee”. Meanwhile, Miranda’s mother Penny is running for council. After seeking some ill-conceived dating advice and being reminded by Penny that there’s always mad cousin Benji, Miranda decides to pull out all the stops. Hilarity ensues, as it always does in this slapstick-yet-intelligent sitcom. Writer-creator Miranda Hart’s observation-based wit is as sharp as ever, whether she’s dealing with the mundane world of thirtysomething dating or the absurdity of dressing up like a fairy, or, as Miranda puts it, ”a sort of slutty moth”.

Antiques Master, ABC1, 6pm

In this contest to find Britain’s top amateur antiques enthusiast, contestants must identify, date and value items. It’s refreshing to see a reality show that, for want of a better word, matters. Unlike our compatriot cooks and Losers, these contestants haven’t been trained to cry on the spot whenever somebody points a camera in their general direction. This week, Derby porcelain nut Agnes, snuff box collector Jim Bischoff and antique jewellery expert Charlotte are fighting for a place in the semi-finals. Host Sandi Toksvig is constantly telling them to hurry in already short segments, and one can’t help but wonder that if this had been cut, we could have seen more of the actual challenges. However, if, like me, you are partial to the odd episode of Antiques Roadshow or Bargain Hunt, then Antiques Master makes for thoroughly enjoyable viewing.

Modern Family, Ten, 7pm

Jay offers to help Phil with his golf game so he can climb the corporate ladder. They face off against Pepper (guest star Nathan Lane) and Mitch, who is still trying to prove to his father he can be good at sports. Meanwhile, Cameron is putting on the school production of The Phantom of the Opera and Claire’s babysitting is upstaged by the most unlikely of suspects. All the usual fun of Modern Family – seamless popularity and hilarity – is here.

JAMES W. MANNING 

Elementary, Ten, 8.30pm

Sherlock is convinced a death might have been premeditated.

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RBTs bring a sobering end to senseless loss

NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas conducted the two-millionth random breath test on Sunday. Photo: Adam Hollingworth No let up: John Hartley, NSW Police Traffic Services Commander. Photo: Anna Kucera
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In his honour: former police minister George Paciullo. Photo: Farah Abdurahman

The odds were that Nick Kaldas was not going to catch a drink-driver. The NSW Police Deputy Commissioner conducted the two-millionth random breath test on the final day of a four-month blitz called Operation Paciullo on Sunday.

The odds might also have been stacked against Mr Kaldas ever having met the two-millionth tested driver, whom he greeted at an RBT station at Town Hall in George Street.

However, random driver Basilo Grotto instantly recognised the Deputy Commissioner. ”I met you at a funeral,” he told Mr Kaldas. Happily for Mr Grotto, and for his son and daughter in the car with him, he passed the test.

More than 8000 people have been charged with drink-driving as a result of Operation Paciullo, which marked 30 years of RBT in NSW.

Do the sums. These 8000 drink-drivers constitute only 0.4 per cent of those tested. Is it really necessary to randomly test so many innocent drivers?

Absolutely, police say, and they support their moral calculus with a load of statistics. They estimate the latest 2 million tests have saved 166 lives. Eighty-five million tests have been done in NSW since RBT was introduced in December 1982, and 545,000 drivers have been charged with drink-driving. Police estimate 7000 lives have been saved in those 30 years.

In the year before RBT was introduced, about 1350 people died in road accidents and about half of these deaths were blamed on drink-driving. ”Last year, 50 people died because of drink-driving,” the commander of Traffic and Highway Patrol, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said. The proportion of road deaths linked to drink-driving had fallen to one-eighth, Mr Kaldas said.

Random tests have dramatically shifted the culture against drink-driving. ”At the same time,” Mr Kaldas lamented, ”the message has really not got out to the thousands of people who still drink and drive and think they will get away with it.” So there will be no let-up.

Operation Paciullo was named in honour of former police minister and Staysafe committee chairman George Paciullo, who pioneered RBT in NSW. He died last year. His son, Murray, who was at Town Hall on Sunday, said his father would have been been very proud.

”I’m extremely proud of dad,” he said. ”He wasn’t around as much in those early days as I would have liked him to be, but I understood that what he was doing was really worthwhile, and I understood the sacrifice he was making.”

Mr Grotto was given a framed certificate to mark his small, random part in the history of RBT.

Operation Paciullo

2 million random breath tests in the four months to Sunday8000 charged with drink-driving166 estimated lives saved1982: About 1350 killed in NSW road accidents –  about half because of drink-driving2012:  About 50 killed by drink-driving

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AGL failed in its duty to properly monitor gas emissions

Energy company AGL has breached its environment protection licence by failing to properly monitor emissions from a gas plant south-west of Sydney since 2009.
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The coal seam gas processing plant at Rosalind Park, near Menangle, operated between 2009 and last year without continuous monitoring of nitrogen oxide emissions, as required by its licence.

The monitoring equipment apparently broke down in October 2009 due to ”vibration, contamination and high temperature”.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is considering a proposal from AGL that it be subject to an ”enforceable undertaking” in relation to its emissions breaches – a process that would allow the company to avoid possible court proceedings and hefty fines.

AGL was fined $1500 last month for excessive nitrogen oxide emissions at the plant in the last three months of last year. But the failure to monitor emissions for almost four years before those breaches has the potential to attract much higher sanctions under environmental laws.

The EPA said it did not believe the emissions would have caused significant harm to the surrounding community. It would have raised nitrous oxide levels in the district by about 2 per cent. Most of the nitrogen oxide emissions in the region are thought to be from vehicle traffic.

Nitrogen oxides are generally non-toxic at low concentrations, though they are potent greenhouse gases and add to air pollution. They are a byproduct when coal seam gas is treated for sale.

Residents, including the Scenic Hills Association, urged the EPA to pursue court action against AGL.

”We think the government is irresponsibly trying to avoid the fact that it can’t manage this industry,” spokeswoman Jacqui Kirkby said. ”The breach is a total failure of the system to monitor this industry in the only large-scale producing coal seam gasfield in NSW that already operates under strict conditions of consent, unlike other parts of NSW.”

AGL said it had put new equipment in place this month and would be monitoring and publicly reporting its emissions from now on.

”In March, AGL also announced that as part of the new and expanded air and water monitoring program at Camden, the site would also become the first coal seam gas project in NSW to implement a fugitive methane emissions monitoring program,” a spokeswoman said.

EPA chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford said it was yet to decide what action to take against AGL.

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Old bridges and limited funds pose serious problem in northern NSW

Concern: Derryn Nix from Kyogle Council inspects debris washed up against Murrays Bridge. Photo: Peter Rae As a small truck makes its way across the gushing creek at the tiny community of The Risk in northern NSW, the rattle of the ageing timber bridge rises in a crescendo.
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The state of 80-year-old Grieve Crossing, just metres from the local public school, is the stuff of nightmares for council staff responsible for maintaining it.

”We’ve had staff leave because they’ve said all they see at night is a busload of kids going through a bridge,” Kyogle Council urban and assets executive manager Graham Kennett said.

Indeed, a school bus makes its way over the Grieve Crossing every day. The bridge, which is scheduled for imminent repairs, is rated 4.04 on an asset condition scale where 5 means the bridge is beyond repair and really should be closed.

Bridges are the only council assets Mr Kennett classified as ”extreme risks” within the tiny shire nestled among the forested valleys inland from the north coast.

The timber and dairy farm region has 420 bridges, more than half of them made of wood. Of those, 160 are single-lane only, many a remnant of the Great Depression settlers who used axes to chop down giant natives and create crossings over the many gullies.

”I don’t think there’s any other local government in the country that’s got that many bridges,” Mr Kennett said. ”They are a massive, massive problem for us.”

Barely one in 10 of the 223 timber bridges could be described as in ”good” or ”very good” condition.

But Kyogle, which has a population of just 10,000, cannot afford to fix its potentially deadly problem.

With such a small community, the council collects less than $5 million in rates annually, but spends more than double that, Mr Kennett said.

Among the expenses is upkeep of 1300 kilometres of roads, including 800 kilometres unsealed.

A $900,000 bridge replacement program allows the council to tackle six single-lane bridges a year.

”We’re focusing on the low-hanging fruit,” Mr Kennett said.

”But the problem we’ve got is another high number of multi-span timber bridges where the replacement cost is $400,000 [each].”

Kyogle manages the bridges it cannot afford to fix by imposing ever-decreasing load limits to give each structure the longest life possible. But even then, there has been a string of potentially very serious accidents.

In November 2004, the Hills Road bridge failed under a loaded milk tanker that exceeded its 15-tonne limit. The bridge collapsed under the rear of the truck, but no one was hurt. The Hills Road bridge has still not been replaced.

Four years later, the Simes Road bridge collapsed when a loaded council water truck was driven across it, ”which we preferred [to] a school bus”, Mr Kennett said. The truck was being used to clean debris after flooding. Again, no one was hurt and the bridge was replaced with a $120,000 steel and concrete span.

Then in July, a loaded gravel truck broke through the Mills Road bridge. Mr Kennett said no one was injured, ”thank whatever god you believe in”. It is due to be replaced in 2016-17.

Schools and the local dairy industry are consulted regularly on changes to local bridge use to ensure buses and milk tankers can get around the shire.

As the cost of full replacement rises, the council is left to slap concrete and steel stop-gaps on its many bridges or close them altogether, much to the chagrin of residents.

”The important things get done,” Mr Kennett said, ”but the reality of the situation is that there aren’t enough resources to get everything done that should be done.”

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