QBE on track to reach $US250 million in savings

Written by admin on 08/08/2018 Categories: 南京夜网

Insurer QBE is on track to meet its savings targets.QBE says it is on track to hit its target to cut costs by “at least” $US250 million by 2015, as it replaces hundreds of jobs in western countries with staff in Manila.
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The global insurer also affirmed its full-year guidance on Tuesday, as it benefits from relatively few natural disasters and the recent fall in the Aussie dollar.

At midday its shares had risen 2.6 per cent, or 39.5c, to $15.70.

QBE, which is looking to rationalise its operations after a spate of acquisition-led growth under former boss Frank O’Halloran, earlier this year unveiled a plan to save $US250 million a year by 2015 by sending about 700 positions to the Philippines.

As the changes are rolled out across its Australian division, chief executive John Neal today stressed that he expected expenses would be cut by “at least” $US250 million as a result of the program.

The cost-cutting push will also result in changes to its operations in North America and Europe – where the company may also look to carry-out cuts in its European business slightly earlier than expected.

“This is very much the start, the first wave if you like, and there will be more activity that will follow,” Mr Neal said.

So far, 521 positions in Australia have been affected by the offshoring changes.

Most of these staff are set to be redeployed within the group, while 39 have been made redundant, and 52 contractor positions have not been renewed.

The chief executive of its Australian arm, Colin Fagen, said QBE was “extremely confident” it would save more than the original $85 million in costs that it had planned to trim from its Australian operations by 2015 through the offshoring changes.

This was likely to occur because the company’s redundancy costs had been lower than expected, while the volume of work being carried out in Manila had exceeded expectations.

Mr Neal also said he was confident the company expected to hit its full-year forecast for premiums to increase by about 5 per cent, and indicated it had benefited from several one-off factors.

He said conditions were “very positive” in Australia and North America but tougher in Europe, where rates were flat.

“It’s still very very early days in the year but we are quite relaxed about where we see ourselves for the half year.”

QBE, which reports its profits on a calendar year basis, will present its half-year results in August.

Insurers have benefited relatively few natural disasters in recent months, while QBE has extensive US operations, so it tends to benefit from a falling Australian dollar.

“Overall, the weakening in the Australian dollar is good news for us, but it does bring some complications,” Mr Neal said.

Deutsche Bank analyst Kieran Chidgey said the progress on cost-cutting and positive one-off factors should cause the “market’s conviction in QBE’s turnaround” to increase.

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Spencer rules breakfast, but Nova’s share explodes

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He’s done it again; 612 ABC Brisbane announcer Spencer Howson has retained his crown as king of the lucrative breakfast radio session.
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Despite a 0.1 per cent drop, Mr Howson’s 13.1 per cent market share is still firmly in front of his commercial rivals, ratings agency Nielson confirmed on Tuesday.

But DMG’s Nova106.9 breakfast team of Ash Bradnam, David ‘Luttsy’ Lutteral and Kip Wightman closed in on Aunty’s star, gaining 1.1 per cent to steal the number two spot from Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Bob Gallaghar on ARN’s 97.3FM.

Nova also overtook 97.3 as the station with the largest overall audience through the week – a coup that rounds out its standing dominance of the weekend market.

Fairfax Radio 4BC, owned by the publishers of this website, also improved its overall market share, growing its audience by 0.9 per cent to beat 4KQ, 4BH, and the ABC’s Radio National and Triple J for the number six spot.

The station’s breakfast team also recorded a 0.4 per cent audience boost to maintain its sixth-place ranking.

Meanwhile the Triple M Grill Team – Pete Timbs, Michelle Anderson and Greg ‘Marto’ Martin – moved from fifth to fourth place, changing places with their Austereo cousins at B105 – Jason ‘Labby’ Hawkins, Stav Davidson and Abby Coleman.

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What a relief; now let’s get on with it, says Horwill

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Now we can all get some sleep: Wallabies captain James Horwill, left, fronts the media with coach Robbie Deans after the judicial hearing. Photo: James BrickwoodWallabies captain James Horwill says he feels ‘‘vindicated’’ by an International Rugby Board ruling that a stamping allegation against him be dismissed for the second time in nine days.
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The Test second-rower is free to play in the series decider against the British and Irish Lions in Sydney after 12 hours of deliberation overnight on Monday produced the same result as the first hearing on June 23.

Horwill said he was ‘‘very relieved’’ to be told the news during a gym session on Tuesday morning after enduring a sleepless night in limbo.

‘‘I feel very vindicated by the way it’s gone,’’ he said. ‘‘I love what I do and it means a hell of a lot to represent my country and not only to represent it but the opportunity to lead in what is probably the biggest game in this country since the 2003 World Cup final. I’m very excited and now we can focus on the game and that’s what is important.’’

The decision was handed down by Canadian judicial officer Graeme Mew  at about 10am on Tuesday, 12 hours after he took final submissions from Horwill, his legal counsel and the Australian Rugby Union.

Mew found there was no cause to overturn the original ruling of judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC, who said on June 23 that he could not find an intentional or deliberate action of stamping or trampling on the head of Lions second rower Alun Wyn Jones.

‘‘For the appeal to succeed the IRB would have to establish that there was some misapprehension of law or principle by the judicial officer or that his decision was so clearly wrong or manifestly unreasonable that no judicial officer could have reached the conclusion that he did,’’ Mew noted in his judgement.

‘‘There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision that was made.

‘‘Accordingly, it could not be said that the judicial officer was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise required his decision be overturned.’’

Horwill accepted the decision calmly on Tuesday but was obviously pleased to have the uncertainty behind him.

‘‘I can’t complain. It’s been a very fair process both times; as I said before, the hearings have been very fair and the process is what it is,’’ he said, after  thanking the public for their support.

‘‘My family and the team have been very overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve received so I thank you very much and it’s now time to get on with football.’’

The original incident occurred in the third minute of the Lions’ 23-21 victory over the Wallabies in the first Test.

Horwill struck Jones in the head during a ruck. The Lions second-rower played out most of the match and required stitches to his eye after the full-time bell.

The Lions referred the matter to the citing commissioner after the game, but a four-hour hearing in front of IRB-appointed judicial officer Hampton last Sunday night found there was enough merit in Horwill’s explanation that he was ‘‘spun off balance’’ by Lions players entering the ruck from the other side.

The decision was controversially overturned by the IRB on Thursday night and while the board did not provide a clear reason,  they cited the ‘‘preservation of player welfare’’.

‘‘It is important for the IRB to ensure amongst all stakeholders in the game that there is full confidence that priority is given to player welfare and the values of the game,’’ the IRB said at the time.

Horwill said he had been unaware of the incident until he was cited and had a chance to view footage from the game.

Rugby Union Players’ Association chief executive Greg Harris congratulated Horwill on being cleared to play.

‘‘James Horwill was initially cleared of the stamping charge as per the IRB’s established judicial process.

“RUPA, like the ARU, was both surprised and disappointed that the finding of the IRB appointed judicial officer, Nigel Hampton QC, from New Zealand was deemed to be ‘erroneous’.

‘‘The fact that the verdict was not delivered until midday on Tuesday added significant disruption to the preparation of the Wallabies team for the third, and deciding Test.

‘‘RUPA still remains sufficiently concerned with the perceived inconsistencies with the processes and as such has raised the matter with the International Rugby Players’ Association and requested that IRPA raise the matter formally with the IRB.’’

Harris said the case set a dangerous precedent by the IRB and that not only the RUPA membership, but the broader rugby community in Australia, were concerned about the motives behind the decision to refer the matter again.

‘‘James is the Australian captain and is a sportsman of impeccable character who in 130 professional games had never been cited.

“He always had the full support of RUPA and his fellow players no matter what the outcome of the IRB’s judicial processes were to be,’’ Harris said.

The IRB released a statement a short time ago accepting Mew’s decision.

‘‘While ultimately not proving successful in its appeal, the IRB is satisfied that it took the right approach,’’ the statement said.

‘‘The IRB would like to acknowledge the professional manner in which the Australian Rugby Union managed the process as host union of the tour.’’

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Gerrans’ win pumps up GreenEDGE tyres

Written by admin on 12/09/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Just after Simon Gerrans earned the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team its first stage win in the Tour de France, a principal player in setting up the Victorian for his moment of glory, teammate Daryl Impey, said with a  sigh: ”Definitely the monkey is off our back now.”
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The South African rider’s words summed up much about the Orica-GreenEDGE team’s short tenure in the top division of world cycling.

While it impressed in its first year as a first-division ProTeam licensed squad with its 33 wins last season, it still disappointed by failing to claim a stage victory in last year’s Tour, and by falling short of its ambitions in this year’s one-day European spring classics and also the Giro d’Italia in May.

The second-year team has won many races  this year, but doubts about its strength in the majors had been building – even though the squad  conceded recently it  should consider having (or developing) a rider who could compete for overall honours  in the years to come.

But by Gerrans beating Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Spain’s Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) to win Monday’s 145.5-kilometre third stage from Ajaccio to Calvi, the team silenced  its   detractors.

And as the Tour transferred from Corsica to Nice on the French mainland, for the 25km stage-four team time trial, it was clear Gerrans’ joy for the win was shared by  teammates such as Impey.

Orica-GreenEDGE had hoped to set up Impey  for the yellow leader’s jersey after starting the day in fourth overall at one second to Belgian Jan Bakelants (RadioShack).

But when Bakelants was still riding strong near the end, Gerrans appeared their best stage-winning hope. ”Once Bakelants was there, we rode for ‘Gerro’,” Impey said. ”It was roles reversed [to stage 2], but he pulled it off; better than I did [with  eighth on stage 2].”

Stage3 unfolded perfectly for Orica-GreenEDGE. Australian Simon Clarke got into the day-long break to give Gerrans  a chance to rest in the peloton, as Clarke’s presence in the lead meant  they had no need to chase.

”It is always good to have someone represented [in the break]. ‘Clarkey’ did a good move that took the pressure off us right away,” Impey said. ”We didn’t really have to chase – only at the end [after Clarke was caught], when that small move split off the front. But all the boys were committed. We could not have asked for more.

”The win has taken the pressure – not that the pressure is off – but the monkey off our back now. And it is nice to get the win early on in the Tour.”

There was no understating Clarke’s role. Clarke, the King of the Mountains in last year’s Vuelta a Espana, said his presence in the early break ”was to take the pressure off the team so ‘Gerro’ could sit back, relax  and come up with a good sprint, and it worked perfectly”.

But as Clarke added, making a breakaway group in the Tour is not an easy task, especially in the first week when most riders feel strong.

”You have to use your nose and go with the feel and sit back,” he said. ”If you go with every single attack … there’s no  way you will get in a breakaway. I got in four breaks in the Vuelta last year, so I kind of got it down pat and figured while it doesn’t go the same way every time, at least you get that feel of it.”

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Gallop says Wanderers soaring sky high

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Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop believes the Western Sydney Wanderers are on “greater growth trajectory than any other sporting club in the country” – which means the club’s new owners will need to follow some very strict rules.
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The Wanderers have only been in existence for a year but their barnstorming popularity in the city’s west has made the FFA increasingly wary about protecting the basics of the juggernaut brand.

The FFA’s search for a new owner is now officially under way, with the club appointing a leading financial services company to source prospective buyers for the club – which has been widely valued at $15 million, even if the game’s governing body is hoping for more.

“We’ve engaged investment bank UBS [to source investors] but clearly we’ve got some non-negotiables around the colours, the logo, the name, the venue and the general community engagement model that has worked so well,” Gallop said. “There are important non-negotiates around the culture that’s already been created at this club. Beyond that, we’re looking to see who the market throws up as a potential purchaser.”

Despite a refusal to negotiate on the club’s identity – which would be unlikely to change in any case – Gallop said the Wanderers represented exceptional value for money considering their potential to expand.

“There’s no doubt that this club is on a greater growth trajectory than any other sporting club in the country. With the population of western Sydney increasing by several thousand per month, this is the train to get on board if you’re looking at sporting clubs,” he said. “It’s difficult to put a price on it but what you’re buying into is the trajectory of this club and the trajectory of football.

“The participation in the Asian Champions League will be an eye-opener to what the future might hold for this club and this league as we forge stronger and stronger links with the fastest growing economic region in the world.”

In order to maintain and increase the club’s momentum, some felt the FFA should have held ownership for a while longer – not least to increase the sale price – but Gallop says it should never be the administrative body’s ambition.

“Importantly, FFA doesn’t want to own football clubs, so the sooner we remove ourselves from that potential conflict situation, the better,” he said. “We’d also look to maximise the financial benefits in a way that is then invested prudently across the grass roots and the elite level of the game.”

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Swann song? It was just a dream

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If there was ever a doubt about Graeme Swann’s importance to England, it was erased by the panic that set in when he was struck a painful blow on the bowling arm on Monday.
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Swann was later cleared of a broken arm, but for an anxious time before the scans came back, England feared for its match-winning off-spinner.

For all the hype around England’s high-class pace attack, Swann is arguably England’s most important player against Australia.

He loves bowling to left-handers, and there could be a few of them in Australia’s middle order.

Swann, who is England’s most successful off spinner with 222 wickets in 52 Tests, would relish the chance to bowl to Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja, who have both had problems against spin. So central is Swann to England’s Ashes hopes that it is expected dry, turning pitches will be prepared around the country to suit him.

Swann was expected to bowl again in England’s warm-up match against Essex to prove his fitness for the Ashes, but has had a disjointed preparation because of elbow surgery and, more recently, back and calf problems.

An injury to England’s main spinner would swing the balance of Ashes power towards an Australian team that is starting to get its groove back under new coach Darren Lehmann. Neither of England’s back-up spinners can be picked with confidence – Monty Panesar was dropped by Sussex earlier this year and James Tredwell is yet to take a wicket in five county championship matches for Kent.

Australia, at last, has a couple of spin options behind Nathan Lyon, with Ashton Agar’s lanky brand of left-arm spin causing excitement and a mature leg-spinner available now that Fawad Ahmed is an Australian citizen.

If all else fails Australia should ensure that hulking Essex fast bowler Tymal Mills, who struck Swann, Tim Bresnan and Joe Root on the arm, jaw and knee respectively, during the Ashes warm-up fixture at Chelmsford, stays around the England camp as a net bowler.

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WINE: Queen of the vines

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ROSE Kentish is a queen of McLaren Vale winemaking, having put her stamp on an innovative range of wines made in France.
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It’s common for Australian winemakers to work in Europe, but the mother of four has pushed the boundaries in three vintages to make French wine to sell under her own label in Australia.

Two of the wines from her third French vintage, the Ulithorne 2012 Epoch Rose and Ulithorne 2012 Corsus Vermentinu, recently arrived on my tasting bench and are reviewed today on this page.

French law provides many hurdles for ventures like Rose’s, but Hunter winemaker Usher Tinkler has succeeded with chardonnay and pinot noir wines in the famed Burgundy Region.

A friendship established in 2006 with French winemaker Arnaud Desfontaine paved the way for Usher to release early last year a 2009 Montagny Premier Cru Le Burnins Chardonnay, 2009 Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Millieu Chardonnay and the 2009 Fixin Premier Cru Clos du Chapitre Pinot Noir.

Self-confessed pinot noir fanatics Steve and Leanne Webber, who head the De Bortoli Yarra Valley arm, have succeeded in producing De Bortoli brand wine in Burgundy.

After much negotiation with French authorities in 2003, Steve and Leanne went to Burgundy and bought grapes from a Villages-rated vineyard in the Gevrey-Chambertin area.

They made a tiny batch of 2003 wine and exported it back to Australia where it sold for $85 a bottle as the De Bortoli 2003 Gevrey-Chambertin Combed du Bas.

Rose Kentish’s French adventure was triggered a year after she was crowned Queen of McLaren Vale’s 2008 Bushing Festival for her Ulithorne 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz.

The Bushing King or Queen title is awarded to the maker of the best wine of the McLaren Vale Wine Show and Rose was only the second woman, after legendary winemaker Pam Dunsford, to win the award.

When a heatwave wiped out her 2009 Ulithorne grape crop, Rose decided to pack up her artist husband Sam Harrison and their four children, then aged six, 10, 12 and 15, and head off to France to realise a long-held ambition to make wine in Europe.

Sam and the children were not keen, but Rose prevailed and in 2010 they settled into digs in the mediaeval town of Aubais, between Montpellier and Nimes.

The children quickly learned French and settled into local schools, and painter Sam drew inspiration from the new locations.

Although she had only schoolgirl French, Rose managed to persuade French vignerons to sell her grapes and to allow her to turn them into wine in their wineries.

She used cinsault, grenache and mourvedre fruit to make a 2010 rosé at the Domaine de la Sangliere winery in Provence and bought vermentino grapes in Corsica to make her Ulithorne 2010 Corsus Vermentinu at the Vino Vecchio winery.

After nine months in France the family returned to their lives in the South Australian south coastal town of Middleton, between Victor Harbour and Port Elliot.

Rose went back to France sans family in 2011 and 2012 to make new vintages of her Ulithorne French wines to sell alongside her small-batch McLaren Vale wines.

The products of these sojourns were the 2012 Epoch Rosé and the 2012 Corsus Vermentinu and a now sold-out $34 Ulithorne 2011 Immortelle red, a blend of shiraz and the rare Corsican minustellu, niellucciu and carcaghjolu neru varieties.

Rose plans to make her fourth vintage visit to France next September-October and aims to make a 2013 Epoch Rosé, Corsus Vermentinu and Immortelle red and will check on the progress of casks of the 2012 Immortelle. She also hopes to make progress with another French ambition – making a sparkling wine in Champagne.

Passion for Ulithorne

THE Ulithorne story began in 1971 when Sam Harrison’s parents bought land at McLaren Vale and planted a vineyard. In 1997 Rose Kentish and husband Sam bought the vineyard, a move that ignited Rose’s passion for winemaking. Her guide into the world of wine was prominent McLaren Vale winemaker Brian Light, who was contracted to make the early Ulithorpe wines.

With Brian as her mentor from 2001 on, Rose took an increasing role in the success of the Ulithorpe and Frux Frugas (Fruit of the Earth) wines.

In 2006 Sam and Rose sold the Ulithorpe property, but retained the brand name and first option on the vineyard’s grapes.

They bought a disused 1855 flour mill at Middleton, on the Fleurieu Peninsula.

The mill has been turned into a studio for Sam and a cellar door for Rose’s wines. With one exception these McLaren Vale wines are made from Ulithorne vineyard fruit. The exception is the Ulithorne Chi grenache-shiraz red, which comes from old bush vines on another McLaren Vale property.

In the wake of the 2008 Bushing Queen win and the daring forays into French winemaking, Rose notched up another first last March – becoming the first woman to win McLaren Vale’s Wayne Thomas Scholarship.

The scholarship was established in 2008 and allows the recipient to attend the Australian Wine Research Institute’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course and to serve as an associate judge

at the McLaren Vale Wine Show.

The award honours Wayne Thomas, who died on April 13, 2007, at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer. The father of ace Hunter winemaker Andrew, Wayne was a popular figure in McLaren Vale and Hunter winemaking.

Rose says she is “stoked” at the chance to boost her wine judging skills, in addition to which she is doing a post-graduate masters degree in winemaking at Melbourne University.

Her wine career is a far cry from her first job after growing up in Adelaide.

She went off to Longreach as a governess and cook on an outback station.

That was followed by a return to Adelaide for a business and marketing degree course at the University of South Australia and eight years as a marketing consultant.

During this time she developed an interest in wine, which became a deep commitment after she and husband Sam bought the Ulithorne vineyard.

Winemaker moves on

JIM Chatto last month ended his seven-year term as chief winemaker of Dr John Davis’s Pepper Tree Wines group and took up his exciting new challenge with the McWilliam’s family wine company.

Jim, 40, has been appointed McWilliam’s chief winemaker in charge of the family-owned company’s Australia-wide portfolio.

He will be based at Mount Pleasant winery at Pokolbin and in charge of winemaking at that iconic operation made famous by its founder Maurice O’Shea. He will also remain a consultant to Pepper Tree, where 32-year-old Scott Comyns has taken over as chief winemaker.

Pepper Tree is the centrepiece of millionaire geologist and oil exploration company director John Davis’s wine empire, which includes the Hunter Briar Ridge and Tallavera Grove operations and vineyards in Wrattonbully, Orange and Coonawarra.

CROWNING GLORY: McLaren Vale 2008 Bushing Queen Rose Kentish, right, with mentor, winemaker Brian Light.

CELEBRATED: Winemaker Rose Kentish.

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TRY THIS: Made By Lesley Taylor 

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Address: 27 King Street, Newcastle
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TAYLOR-MADE: Lesley Taylor in her revamped restaurant. Picture: Anita Jones

Open: Tuesday to Saturday, lunch and dinner

Phone: 49292323

Head chef: Lesley Taylor

HER name has been synonymous with Newcastle dining for years and now Lesley Taylor has stamped her mark on the city more than ever with the opening of Made By Lesley Taylor.

The chef began her apprenticeship working under Robert Molines at The Cellar Restaurant before cheffing at Cafe Albion where she earned Newcastle’s first chef’s hat in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.

She then took the helm at Restaurant Deux, before merging the restaurant with the French bistro Le Petit Deux. A year later, Taylor was ready for a new challenge, renovating and relaunching the restaurant with a new menu and feel. Gone is the ramp at the front of the restaurant, which increases the size of the dining area.

But for Taylor the focus remains the food.

‘‘I think this is the best menu I have ever written, even back to Restaurant Deux days,’’ Taylor said.

‘‘I have been able to be more creative and haven’t been restricted by any labels.’’

Below is a selection from the Made By Lesley Taylor dinner menu.

To start: All $20. Seared scallops, sweetcorn dumplings, Jerusalem artichoke, prawn crisp, shimeji jus; blue swimmer crab tortellini, avruga, avocado, bisque; seared duck hearts, cumin, snow peas, braised witlof, glazed onions, capers.

To continue: All $38. Roast snapper,

white beans, leeks, local samphire, clam veloute, crumbed razor clams; seared duck breast, parsnip, hazelnut mayonnaise,

crisp kale, stuffed neck, red wine jam; pheasant, beetroot, cocoa, pistachio

and vanilla crumble, smoked goats

cheese.

To finish: All $15. White chocolate custard, liquorice ice-cream, poached pear, deep-fried meringue; dark chocolate marquise, flavoured toffee shards, berries, coulis; apple fritters, almond cake, apple sorbet, spiced crumble, whipped cream.

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Australia posts second hottest start to a year

Written by admin on 10/08/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Warmer-than-usual seas around Australia are contributing the hot spell. Photo: Dallas KilponenAustralia remains on course to post one of its hottest years on record even as conditions favour above-average rainfall across much of the country, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
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In the first six months of 2013, the country’s average daily maximum temperature was 1.05 degrees higher than the long-term norm, placing the period behind only 2005 in terms of unusually warm conditions.

While above-average rainfall across much of south-eastern Australia during June kept a lid on maximum daily temperatures for that period, the increased cloud cover meant minimum temperatures were above normal in all states and territories for the month.

High pressure systems – with the warmer conditions they typically bring – have continued to dominate weather patterns over much of central and southern Australia, said Rob Smalley, a climatologist at the weather bureau’s National Climate Centre.

Air pressure has “been higher than normal, and that would probably [see] less of the frontal activity bringing the cooler conditions through,” Dr Smalley said.

Neutral conditions in the key El Nino Southern Oscillation weather system over the Pacific Ocean suggest that calendar year 2013 is likely to be among Australia’s hottest in records going back more than 100 years.

“If Australia were to maintain an anomaly of at least one degree, or a little higher, we’d actually approach or come close to exceeding the previous mean temperature record,” Dr Smalley said.

Australia has experienced a series of relative heatwaves moving over much of the continent for the past nine months or so.

As a result, Australia’s average maximum temperature for the 12 months to June 30 was the hottest on record, exceeding the previous high set in 2002-03.

The anomaly for 2012-13 is 1.18 degrees compared with the 1.1-degree anomaly for 2002-03, Dr Smalley said.

The bureau’s national temperature outlook suggests cooler-than-normal days for the coming three months, with Tasmania and the south-western tip of WA two of the exceptions. Night-time temperatures, though, should continue to track well-above average for much of the country, including most of Victoria, south-eastern NSW and all of Tasmania.

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Mama Holiday

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Some say the secret to a happy life is to skip having children and go straight to grandchildren.
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Certainly, the relationship between grandparents and grandkids is a marvellous, magical, mystical thing to behold.

They share a similar sense of humour, mischief and fun.

Perhaps they get along so well because they have a common enemy: the parents.

Mum or dad is the rule maker; Nan or pop is the rule breaker.

“No, they didn’t have any treats this afternoon,” my mother-in-law Margaret will say, sweetly.

But the kids always give her up: “Nanna gave us two snakes, a packet of chips, and an ice-cream,” my six-year-old daughter Grace will gloat, with a look that says, “And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

This explains the growth of the grandtraveller – baby boomers who take grandchildren away without the parents.

It gives working folk a break during the school holidays. But just imagine what they get up to.

I once caught my eight-year-old son and his 92-year-old great-grandfather giggling like Gerties while having a farting competition.

Later, my grandfather gently took a toy gun out of Taj’s hands and talked to him about the horrors of World War II.

Military and genealogy tourism are popular with grandtravellers, to pass on family stories to the next generation. The website grandparents南京夜网 is full of fascinating ideas, such as visiting castles or cultural sites featured in the kids’ favourite computer games.

For some, it’s a coming of age.

One friend has a family tradition of taking each grandchild on a big trip once he or she reaches double digits.

But a word of warning. As comedian Gene Perret says: “An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly.”

Like Margaret, when we went on a week-long holiday to Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

We spent our days swimming, snorkelling and hiking around this stunning coral cay.

The kids were aged three and five and – ahem – rather active.

They were like Energizer Bunnies, buzzing from dawn until dusk.

We only realised how tired nanna was when she fell asleep and slowly slipped off the couch – thump – onto the floor with a glass of wine in her hand.

She didn’t spill a drop. Go, Marg!

Apparently, the golden age for travelling with grandkids is 6-12: old enough to negotiate with, and young enough to cuddle.

Some internet-savvy kids are filling out forms to apply to their grandparents for “travel grants”. They describe themselves as “your oldest and longest-loved grandchild” or “a kid who has overcome the challenges of middle-child syndrome”, then explain how the trip will strengthen their relationship.

The application also proposes a destination, budget and community partners, such as siblings or cousins, who could come along. Really, it doesn’t matter where you go.

Through grandtravelling, you can see the world through the eyes of a child.DEAL

PARIS FOR KIDS

Paris in summer is a kids’ playground, with puppet theatres, donkey and carousel rides, and duck feeding in the lake of the Tuileries Gardens. Stay nearby, at the luxe Hotel le Meurice, between July 14 and August 29 and pay half price on a deluxe or executive room for the children, including breakfast, room upgrade and $118 dining credit. Costs from €905 ($1286) a night, virtuoso南京夜网.au.

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Personal fire shelters not used in Australia

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Personal fire shelters, used by a team of Arizona firefighters as a “last resort” in a deadly blaze on Sunday, have never been used in Australia despite regular use by firefighters in the United States.
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The protective fire shells – folded tents made of heat reflective material – were used by 19 elite firefighters who were killed while battling a fast-moving wildfire that swept through the small town of Yarnell, north-west of Phoenix.

“Our experience is that you need a solid barrier between heat and a person,” said Stuart Ellis, the CEO of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council.

“We don’t use fire shelters locally because we don’t want our firefighters to think that an item like that will protect them.”

The Arizona fire, caused by a lightning strike, spread throughout rocky terrain during soaring heatwave conditions.

“We wouldn’t put firefighters in a situation where there is erratic fire behaviour,” said Mr Ellis. “There are firefighters on the fire line, but they are all vehicle based.”

Fire services in Australia have spent millions of dollars equipping vehicles with a series of protective measures, said Mr Ellis.

A “halo system” spray, a ring around the fire truck that sprays and distributes water around the cabin area, is one of the techniques used to combat wildfires in an emergency.

Fire shelters, which have been used in the United States since the 1970s, are designed to reflect radiant heat and trap breathable air. They are made of aluminum foil, fibreglass and woven silica and are only successful if a firefighter is in a cleared area, away from fuels and high flame contact.

“They look much like a swag,” said Mr Ellis. “Using them is placing a huge reliance on an individual protective measure.”

Australian firefighters use protective clothing – made of treated cotton and heat resistant fibre – and fire blankets.

The 1998 Linton bushfire in western Victoria that killed five firefighters was the “impetus” to introduce a large number of tanker protection systems, said Mr Ellis.

Brendan Doyle from the Rural Fire Service said remote area firefighters used dedicated aircraft, control lines and backburning to fight blazes.

“Being out in the open is the worst case scenario”, said Mr Doyle. “We get firefighters to retreat from the area before a problem starts.”

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North Korea takes over MIFF program

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A still from North Korean film Comrade Kim Goes Flying, which will screen at the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival. Photo: Supplied Australian director Anna Broinowski’s film Aim High In Creation, which was shot in North Korea, will also screen at MIFF. Photo: Wendy McDougall
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North Korean film Hong Kil Dong is part of the newly-announced 2013 MIFF program. Photo: Supplied

This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival is up in the air and all at sea, and includes an insight into one of the world’s most rarely seen film cultures.

Artistic director Michelle Carey launched the 2013 MIFF program on Tuesday night. Pedro Almodovar’s in-flight disaster comedy I’m So Excited! had already been named as the festival opener: Carey announced the festival’s closing feature, J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, which she described as a gripping, engaging work. It has a single cast member, Robert Redford, playing a man who runs into trouble during a solo voyage on the Indian ocean.

The movie is being spoken of as an Oscar contender, and it is quite a coup to have it at MIFF, Carey says.

The MIFF program includes a focus on the cinema of North Korea: this consists of two films made by overseas directors working in the country, and a selection of popular North Korean features from the 1970s and ’80s.

Australian director Anna Broinowski’s premieres her new feature, Aim High In Creation!, which includes a film within a film made according to the creative manifesto laid down by the late dictator (and film buff) Kim Jong Il. There’s also an unusual British-Belgian-North Korean co-production, a 2012 screwball comedy called Comrade Kim Goes Flying.

The features in the North Korean retrospective are Centre For-ward, a black-and-white drama about a young aspiring footballer; a Shaw Brothers-style martial arts movie, Hong Kil Dong; a melodrama, A Broad Bell-flower; and The Flower Girl, the adaptation of a popular revolutionary opera.

MIFF programmer Al Cossar says audiences will see unfamiliar methods of storytelling, but will also encounter some surprisingly familiar cinematic elements.

Interviews and introductions have been recorded by some of the key creative figures in these movies, and will be shown at MIFF screenings. There will also be a special panel discussion on North Korean cinema.

Among MIFF’s overseas guests is Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), who will be presenting his English-language feature, The Best Offer, which is set in the international art market. It stars Geoffrey Rush as the managing director of an auction house who gets caught up in the life of an enigmatic heiress.

MIFF will also be premiering the much-anticipated The Turn-ing, a three-hour feature adaptation of 17 interwoven stories by Tim Winton.

Each segment has a different director, some of whom go behind the camera for the first time: they include actors Mia Wasikowska, David Wenham and Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Stephen Page.

Different actors play the same characters across the stories. “It’s a labyrinth,” says Carey, “a network of talent”.

The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from July 25 to August 11 The full program will be available with The Age on Friday. The Age is a festival sponsor.

FIVE TO WATCH AT MIFF

Mistaken For StrangersOn the road with The National, through the eyes of director-roadie Tom Berninger, brother of the band’slead singer.The Act Of KillingJoshua Oppenheimer’s documentary revisits, in a remarkable fashion, the activities of Indonesian death squads of the 1960s.Persons Of InterestHaydn Keenan explores the ASIO files of various “persons of interest”, including Gary Foley and FrankHardy.BastardsFrench filmmaker Claire Denis tackles a film noir premise of revenge in her own singular way.A Touch Of SinA drama about four characters under pressure from Chinese director Jia Zhangke, festival guest.

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Ousted Cowan open to landing new spot in batting order

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Evicted from the opening position where he has played all his Tests and all but 17 of his first-class innings, Ed Cowan began his search for a new home convinced he has the game to fit in somewhere else.
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Chris Rogers is moving into Cowan’s old place, and the deposed opener had no choice but to swallow his disappointment and get his head around the need to scrap for one of the three other batting spots up for grabs for the Ashes.

The most natural of those would be No.3, where he was expected to bat against Worcestershire in the tour game starting on Tuesday, but Cowan felt confident after toughing out a gruelling series against India’s spinners that he could combat England’s charismatic off-spinner Graeme Swann if he was moved further down the order.

Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Steve Smith are all competing for batting spots.

”I’ve always said if you can open the batting you can bat anywhere. And particularly now, having been through four Tests in India, if I was to come in in the middle order against spin then I really feel comfortable doing that. I don’t know if I could have said that not having been through that,” Cowan said.

”So if you can open the batting against the new ball, you can certainly come in against the older ball. It’s hard to go the other way.”

Cowan started his career for NSW at No.5 but hasn’t been anything other than an opener in the Sheffield Shield since 2008-09. Still, he bats at three in one-day cricket for Tasmania and shuffled down to five when Ricky Ponting was in town last summer.

”So I’ve had some experience if selected and I’m not opening,” Cowan said.  ”That will be the biggest challenge, finding a way to distract yourself until it’s time to bat because one thing about opening the batting is you start preparing when they’re eight or nine down, you’ve got 10 minutes to put your pads on and away you go.

”If it’s in the middle order, do you relax, do you stay up, don’t waste too much energy, all those little things. That will be a challenge but it’s something I’m just going to have to deal with.”

In 17 matches as Australia’s Test opener, Cowan averages 32, and hasn’t been able to shrug off the impression that he was squatting in the position rather than owning it. He could not have predicted he would lose it to a 35-year-old who has toiled for even longer than him. Cowan was grateful, at least, to be told where he stood, in keeping with new coach Darren Lehmann’s honesty policy.  ”All sportsmen can deal with honest information. Whether that impacts you negatively or positively, you know where you stand, you know what you have to do even if it’s not what you want to hear,” he said.

Australian selectors were hailed for their decisiveness in making the Rogers decision a week out from the first Test. The 35-year-old’s ””’lack of international experience is countered by his wealth of experience in England, against Englishbowlers, facing an English ball, and he is set to be thrust into an unofficial leadership role among the batsmen when the series starts next Wednesday at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

”The Dukes ball is different. I think you need to get a real feel for it, particularly as an opening batsman. The ball is going to do some crazy things at times. With my experience I can be fairly comfortable with my knowledge of that. It’s still going to be a huge challenge because I think the English bowlers are exceptional. If I do well then I can be very satisfied,” Rogers said.

”I think the character I am, too, I can pass on these kinds of things. This first Test is still going to be a bit of an unknown for me and I have to deal with those things. But I do see my role as passing on some information to the young guys. I enjoy that.”

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