Spain’s property sale of the century

The Spanish government has approved a plan to sell a quarter of its state-owned properties in an attempt to raise hundreds of millions and fill the government’s empty coffers.
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Some 15,000 properties, from office buildings to agricultural land, will be put up for sale over the next seven years.

The measure is the latest in a series of moves to bring Spain’s budget deficit to within the EU target of 3 per cent by 2016 from 7.1 per cent of GDP last year.

Spain’s government has introduced a raft of unpopular austerity measures as the nation struggles with its sixth quarter of negative growth and an unemployment rate of nearly 27 per cent.

A parliamentary commission has drawn up an extensive list of assets that will be sold to private investors.

They include disused army barracks, an aerodrome on the island of Minorca, a military shooting range and thousands of office buildings.

The government said the portfolio would include around 10 buildings ‘‘considered unique’’ that it hoped would be snapped up by potential investors.

Among those is a mansion on Madrid’s central avenue, the Paseo de la Castellana, that used to house the secretary of state for security, and a country estate in Andalusia comprising 35,000 acres of natural parkland planted with cork trees.

Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government announced plans last year to set up a commission to draw up an inventory of all state-owned property and identify those that could be sold.

The first properties to go under the hammer include the former headquarters of RTVE, Spain’s state television and radio channel in Madrid and Galicia, and a disused army barracks in Seville.

‘‘There will be some real gems in the portfolio I am sure but also a lot of dross,’’ said Mark Stucklin, founder of Spanish Property Insight, an independent website.

‘‘Those properties that will be sought after are those of historical or architectural interest in the most sought after areas of cities. But it will boil down to the price. There will always be interest in good real estate by foreign investors if it is sold at a bargain.’’

The government is yet to release the full portfolio of properties for sale and has not said how much money it hopes to raise. Last year it raised 90 million euros in sales of state-owned buildings that had lain empty and made a further 37.5 million euros saving by renegotiating rental contracts.

Much of the rural property that will be put on the market will be offered with the opportunity for development to create local jobs.

La Almoraima, a country estate in the Natural Park of Alcornocales, which has been managed by the ministry of environment since 1983, is being sold with the option to develop a resort with two golf courses and a five-star hotel.

‘‘We will wait for a reasonable offer – we are not going to sell it off for peanuts,’’ said a spokesman. ‘‘Our best hope is that we can generate foreign interest as there are few in Spain right now who could afford it.’’

The Telegraph, London

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Licence to thrill

The National Film and Sound Archive is preparing for a new cafe after the current licensee, Teatro Fellini, closed last weekend after three years of serving coffees, cakes and nibbles. At the time of going to press, no new licensee had been announced but the archive hopes to name one in early July. In the meantime a coffee cart is in place.
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Let’s get ethical

Which foods have the smallest ecological footprint? Should we be locavore or omnivore? The Canberra Environment Centre, ANU Environment Collective and SEE-Change have joined forces to ask these questions of a panel of experts. They’re holding a forum on sustainable eating next month. The EATology food forum will ask how to eat well in the Canberra region with local farmers, academics and other experts on hand to answer your questions. It’s on August 15 at 6pm at the Manning Clark lecture theatre at the Australian National University.
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Inside the vat

Check out this video. Christopher Carpenter of Lark Hill biodynamic winery tossed a GoPro video camera into a vat of marsanne to capture what happened when dry-ice pellets were dropped into the wine. The result is a mesmerising clip of thousands of bubbles shooting to the surface to form a protective blanket of CO2 over the top of the marsanne. Carpenter says the CO2 protected the wine from oxidising during the winemaking process. ‘‘The streams of bubbles actually look like smoke rings from the top,’’ he says. Carpenter hopes to upload more interesting images, saying there are so many things in the winery that are fascinating but ephemeral.
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Roll up, roll up

The Canberra Environment Centre is holding a couple of very popular food workshops this month. On Saturday, July 20, join home cheese-making expert Gurkan Yeniceri for a soft cheese workshop – making fetta, ricotta, mozzarella and haloumi from scratch. There’ll be ingredients provided, and you’ll get a set of notes to take home, along with a glass of local organic wine. A week later, on July 28, there’s a sourdough workshop with artist and baker Robert Guth. You’ll get ingredients, take-home notes, a glass of wine and a sourdough starter culture. Both workshops cost $80 and places are limited. See ecoaction南京夜网.au to book or phone 6248 0885.
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Dugan cops one-game ban for shoulder charge

The prospect of missing the State of Origin series decider was too much of a gamble for St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan, who will miss the Dragons’ do or die clash with the Roosters on Saturday after taking an early guilty plea.
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Dugan was charged with a grade one shoulder charge on Penrith fullback Matt Moylan in the 25-10 loss to the Panthers at Penrith last Saturday night.

The Dragons had wanted to fight the charge, but if Dugan was found guilty he would have been rubbed out for two weeks, ending his hopes of playing for NSW.

Rookie fullback Adam Quinlan is expected to take Dugan’s spot for the Dragons.

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Giants to trade for ready-made stars

Tom Boyd, predicted no.1 draft pick. GWS Giants trading opportunities.
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No.1 prospect lives up to hype’Highest rated since Riewoldt’Hawks do Buddy sumsVote: trade for no.1 pick?

Greater Western Sydney has declared each of its draft picks, including a potential No.1 selection, is up for grabs during this year’s trade period as the club ramps up its bid to catch an elusive big fish.

Satisfied with the talent they have mined from the 2011-12 drafts, the Giants are hunting players entering the prime of their careers – and they may also have the bait to entice rival clubs to bite.

”Every draft pick, including pick one, is on the table,” Giants football manager Graeme Allan said.

”We’re at the stage we’ve got a few pick ones so we probably need experienced players.”

The revelation means the Giants could theoretically secure Lance Franklin through free agency, plus at least one other young but proven elite player.

GWS CEO David Matthews has criticised Melbourne clubs for failing to get deals done with the Giants in previous trade periods.

“I think in particular the Victorian clubs probably should have worked a bit harder to get the likes of Jaeger O’Meara, Jack Martin and you even saw (Brad) Crouch on the weekend is this week’s NAB Rising Star, Matthews told SEN radio Tuesday.

“They’re players we had the rights to and the rights to trade and in the end without getting anything of value we converted those players to picks.

“Jaeger O’Meara should have been probably at a Victorian club for a couple of mature players for us.

“I thought having watched kids like O’Meara coming through the development pathway that there would have been a more concerted effort with a player like that.”

Also speaking on SEN later on Tuesday, Carlton CEO Greg Swann accused Matthews of a “little bit of rewriting of history” with his version of trading discussions with GWS.

But many clubs would surely now be eyeing Suns prodigy O’Meara, who is averaging 23 possessions in his first season, and wondering whether Matthews is right.

Commentator and former Essendon great Tim Watson said on Monday that O’Meara could become the greatest midfielder in the game’s history.

Winless after 10 rounds, the league’s newest club is well placed to secure its third No.1 selection in as many years. It has also activated a compensation pick, likely to be around No.11, while its second-round selection, in the low 20s, is also likely to arouse interest.

Allan refused to speculate what calibre of player it would take to part ways with their prized top pick but it’s commonly accepted in recruiting circles a top-five draft pick should, barring injury, become a 200-gamer for that club.

One insider at an established club with knowledge in the field said the No.1 pick was worth ”at a minimum” a player around the 21-to-23 age bracket with close to 100 games who was ”already a star”. The insider said a player of the ilk of Richmond’s Trent Cotchin, who recently signed a new deal, would fit that billing.

At 26, Franklin is too old to satisfy this criteria but the Giants can secure the Hawthorn champion through restricted free agency by offering a contract the Hawks cannot match or through the pre-season draft.

Both recruiting methods would leave the Giants’ haul of draft picks intact to lure other stars. Unlike in free agency, the Giants can trade for contracted players but would need that player’s club to agree to a deal before any transfer can occur.

The last time a club traded away the No.1 pick was 2001 when Fremantle gave up access to Luke Hodge and another pick that netted Hawthorn Sam Mitchell in return for Trent Croad and Luke McPharlin. With Tom Boyd, a 199 centimetres and 102 kilograms power forward, the early favourite to be the No.1 pick, the Giants are set to attract interest from clubs on the hunt for a gun spearhead. The Western Bulldogs, St Kilda and Brisbane Lions would dearly love a young forward and with their premiership windows firmly shut might be more prepared to give up a decent player than a club such as Carlton or Fremantle.

The Giants, with Jeremy Cameron and Jonathon Patton, are well stocked in attack.

Allan would not comment when asked who was on the club’s radar but the Giants have clear deficiencies in the key defensive posts and the ruck.

The Giants, however, have struggled to attract proven stars without the lure of exorbitant sums and remain disappointed no established clubs were prepared to trade players for talent in the mini-draft.

”The only club that offered near value was the Gold Coast, hence they got them for early picks, but we would have preferred more elite players in that regard,” Allan said.

”The first two years we tried to bring in some senior players and we also tried to bring in some elite senior players but we found that fairly difficult.

”We have been looking. It’s not easy to get players from other clubs. Exactly where I won’t go into … but we need to put senior players around our kids now.”

But Matthews feels the preponderance of young players on the GWS list means his club will get deals done even even it if has to spend a lot of money on Franklin.

“I think what Graeme Allan and Steve Silvagni have done so far in the list build is get the best talent into the club and a lot of it is young talent and therefore there is a bit of room (in the salary cap). So we’re considering all sorts of scenarios at the moment…”

He pinpointed a key defender and a key forward as the main targets of his recruiting team over the next six months.

Allan was confident the Giants were capable of taking a ”major step” forward in their third season, just as Gold Coast has this year, but would not divulge a pass mark for 2013.

”There’s only one club each year who gets a pass and that’s the team that wins the premiership,” Allan said. ”We’ve got to aim like every club does for that. How long it takes I can’t give you an answer.

”It’s tough and hard work but you see signs and glimpses of brilliance from the kids every week.

”It’s just not sustainable at the moment but you know it’s going to happen.”

 – with Will Brodie

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Rockin’ recipe wins for 96FM

Blackers, Carmen and Fitzi celebrate the station jumping to first place for the second time in a year. Photo: 96FM 720 ABC’s Eoin Cameron has held onto his number one spot in breakfast, while the station sits in fifth place overall. Photo: 720 ABC
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The Perth radio market share in breakfast, morning, afternoon and drive. Photo: Nielsen

The Bunch jumped 0.6 per cent and remained in third place.

There’s a lot of celebrating going on in radio land this morning, but not in the usual places.

96FM general manager Martin Boylen has promised to pop the champagne corks after the rock ‘n’ rollers knocked radio juggernaut Mix 94.5 from its number one spot and locked away a significant lead.

And Nova is celebrating having the largest audience in Perth of 470,000 – its best ever result – and the first time its Nathan, Nat & Shaun breakfast show has come up trumps over Mix 94.5’s The Bunch for two consecutive surveys.

Eoin Cameron’s breakfast offering at 720 ABC has maintained the overall number one breakfast show ranking.

With 96FM in the lead, Mix 94.5 fell into second place and the rest remained the same with Nova third, triple j fourth, 720 ABC fifth, 92.9 sixth, 6PR seventh and 6IX eighth.

STATION RANKINGS (% MARKET SHARE)1. 96FM – 13.5 2. Mix 94.5 – 12.3 3. Nova 93.7 – 12.2 4. triple j – 10.85. ABC720 – 10.26. 92.9 – 9.07. 6PR – 8.28. 6IX – 5.9

Mix has long dominated the radio market in Perth and it’s only the second time since the end of 1999 that they’ve been delegated to second place – 96FM momentarily jumped to number one at this time last year.

But this time, 96FM certain of holding onto the lead.

“I think we’re planning on staying there as long as possible,” Mr Boylen said.

“It’s a much more competitive market, there’s Mix and Nova have also improved.

“Anything could happen.”

The station had won a throng of loyal listeners – while they only have the fourth largest audience, their audience is sticking around for longer.

“It’s the result of a lot of hard work that we started 18 months ago,” 96FM general manager Martin Boylen said, referring to the station’s significant rebranding strategy.

“Its consistency – we’ve stayed on the path of ‘keeping real music alive’ and we haven’t deviated.”

The station is in the unusual place of being number one overall, but having its breakfast show sitting in the number four spot.

“We’re working with our breakfast team, they’ve had three rises in a row so they’re certainly trending in the right direction,” Mr Boylen said.

“I think it’s our daytime listening that is just so strong.

“We’re number in the workday.”

At 6PR the search continued for a drive replacement for shock jock Howard Sattler, following his high-profile sacking.

Mix 94.5, however, is certain of the same comeback they achieved last year.

“For us, the stigma of being number one for 90 million surveys left us last year so that was the monkey off our back,” Guy Dobson, Southern Cross Austereo chief content officer, said.

“We bounced back last year and we’re confident we’ll do it again,”

The station sustained significant losses across the workday and into the evening – up to 2.5 per cent – and Mr Dobson said there were changes to be made.

“We certainly have a lot of work to do across the day with the music product,” he said.

Sister station 92.9 failed to claw back any lead that has slowly been slipping away, falling into sixth place overall and seventh in breakfast.

Dobson said it was difficult to tackle the large cash giveaways used by main competitor Nova 93.7.

“We don’t want to get dragged into cash wars and marketing wars,” Mr Dobson said.

“Our marketing budget, our firepower, is way less than what it has been in the past.

“In terms of massive cash giveaways, we haven’t been investing in that.

“Our opposition loves to throw cash around so we’ll have to reassess.”

The results for 92.9 were “disappointing”.

“It’s a work in progress,” Mr Dobson said.

“We put it down to experimenting with the day part for a few years and also, the opposition has done a great job.”

96FM and 6PR are owned by Fairfax, also the publisher of this website. Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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Coalition delivers blow to local government referendum’s ‘Yes’ campaign

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott meet local residents at Whittlesea RSL club. Photo: Penny StephensBipartisan support for the local government referendum appears to have collapsed with Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne advising the Australia Local Government Association to call on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to ”pull” the upcoming vote.
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This came after Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he had ”enormous reservations” about the referendum to recognise local government in the constitution, delivering a serious blow to the ”Yes” campaign.

Constitutional expert Professor George Williams has previously noted the referendum will only succeed if there is strong support from the Coalition.

Mr Abbott told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday that the referendum had been mishandled by the government, and encouraged voters to tick ”No” if they had concerns about it.

He said Labor had ignored the advice of the committee that explored the issue, and had failed to properly consult state governments.

”This thing has been done badly and undemocratically,” Mr Abbott said.

”I say to the Australian people, if you don’t understand it, don’t vote for it.”

In Adelaide on Tuesday, Mr Pyne – who is not the Coalition’s spokesman on the matter – said the government had not laid the groundwork for the referendum to pass.

Mr Pyne said Labor had instead created the referendum as a ”distraction” from its troubles.

”My advice to the Australian Local Government Association is they should ask the Prime Minister to pull the referendum … because I believe it will be defeated under the current circumstances and if it is defeated a third time, no government will want to return to it again,” he said.

Mr Pyne said people were confused about what was happening in Canberra, ”let alone being asked to pass a change on the Constitution”.

The Coalition’s spokesman on local government, Barnaby Joyce, told Sky News shortly after Mr Pyne’s doorstop that it was for the Local Government Association to ”determine where the best chances lie” for the referendum.

While Senator Joyce has agreed to campaign for a ”Yes” vote, he said its chances of success were being ”clouded by complete chaos”.

The referendum will ask voters whether or not they agree to the financial recognition of local government in the Constitution, amending section 96, which deals with financial assistance to the states.

This would guarantee the federal government’s ability to directly fund local government projects such as the Roads to Recovery program, as well as services such as childcare, sporting fields, swimming pools and libraries.

In May, former prime minister Julia Gillard announced the referendum would be held in conjuction with the September 14 election.

It could still be held in conjunction with a September 14 poll, or later. But now that the election date is due to change, there are question marks over the referendum.

The Coalition had already registered reservations about the referendum.

When the Senate voted on the referendum last month, seven Coalition MPs crossed the floor to vote against the bill and about a dozen others abstained.

Last month, the government also revealed that the campaign against recognising local government in the constitution would receive one twentieth of the public funding allocated to the ”Yes” case – a move that also angered some within the Coalition ranks.

The “No” case will receive $500,000 while the “Yes” case will get $10 million, which Anthony Albanese argued was allocated based on the level of support in the Parliament.

In May, the referendum bill passed the lower house, 134 votes to 2.

Australia does not have a strong history of supporting referendums. Similar attempts to recognise local government in 1974 and 1988 were not successful and only eight referendums out of 44 have been successful since 1906.

The Local Government Association has been contacted for comment.

With AAP

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Rudd tries to hit ‘reset button’ with business

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with his new ministry. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThe business community has renewed calls for an early election, despite Kevin Rudd’s attempts to repair Labor’s relationship with business.
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On Tuesday morning, Mr Rudd met with the Business Council of Australia for the first time since being reinstated as Prime Minister.

Mr Rudd promised last week that one of the first things he would do as leader was work ”very closely” with business.

President of the BCA, Tony Shepherd, described the meeting with Mr Rudd as “useful” and “constructive” but said he still wanted an election as soon as possible.

It has been speculated that Mr Rudd wants to delay the election beyond September 14.

“We believe an early election would be a good way of settling down business confidence,” Mr Shepherd said immediately after the meeting in Canberra.

“I think that business is on hold at the present time, and the sooner that that can be resolved the better it will be for everybody.”

Since replacing Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, Mr Rudd has distanced himself from the rhetoric of former treasurer, Wayne Swan, who alienated some business leaders by lashing out at billionaires, including Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart.

Besides abandoning the former treasurer’s rhetoric, Mr Rudd is understood to be considering at least one policy change favoured by business. He would prefer to abandon the carbon tax and move quickly to a floating price on carbon, linked to global markets.

In his first speech after the leadership spill, Mr Rudd made a direct plea to business: “Let me say this to Australian business: I want to work closely with you.”

Mr Rudd reminisced about how closely he worked with business in the past, particularly during the global financial crisis.

“I’m saying it loud and clear to businesses large and small across the country, that in partnership we can do great things for the country’s future,” Mr Rudd said.

“Business is a group that this government will work with very closely.”

Mr Shepherd was cautious when asked whether he thought Mr Rudd had changed and would listen more to business.

“We’ll see that play out in the future,” he said. “But it was a constructive meeting … I think it’s an opportunity to hit the reset button.”

Mr Shepherd said the BCA’s conversation with Mr Rudd was mostly a “general” discussion about the relationship between government and business and about productivity.

They did not discuss Labor’s contentious crackdown on foreign workers allegedly “rorting” the 457 visa program.

Others in the business community have been cautiously positive about the new Prime Minister.

Last Friday, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, told ABC radio he was encouraged to see Labor trying to “reset the relationship” with business.

“Look, there was a chequered history with the Rudd government,” Mr Willox said.

“But there has been quite significant outreach from parts of the government.”

Labor could start by trying to “get the tone of language right”, Mr Willox said.

“We’ve had a couple of years of unfortunate use of language at times around the business community and those who do business in Australia.

“So if we can get the tone right, that would be a most welcome step.”

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