IT price wars: government no white knight

The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity – $999 in Australia, $600 in the US. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon – starts at $1999 in Australia, $1299 in the US.
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A diagram explaining price discrimination.

Tech companies have given the proverbial middle finger to those complaining about high prices in Australia, leading the consumer group Choice to demand strong government action.

But despite firms showing little interest in reducing their prices based on political pressure from the likes of the Labor MP Ed Husic, a new submission to the parliamentary IT pricing inquiry by the federal Treasury warns any direct regulation of prices by government could do more harm than good.

Last week Lenovo launched its ThinkPad X1 Carbon in Australia, which it says is the world’s lightest 14-inch Ultrabook. It will start at $1999 here, compared with $US1299 in the United States.

Earlier this month ASUS released its Transformer Pad Infinity tablet in Australia at a recommended retail price of $999 – much higher than the US price of about $US600.

Lenovo said it priced its products to ensure they were “competitive with local market offerings” and that by buying Lenovo products in Australia consumers were “supporting local Australian jobs” as well as securing local support and warranty.

Asus trotted out the same line frequently used by vendors to justify gouging Australian consumers: smaller market, logistic and shipping costs, exchange rates, promotional costs and training. All of these excuses have been unpersuasive to consumer groups and the Productivity Commission.

Choice’s head of campaigns, Matt Levey, said the IT pricing parliamentary inquiry was a “great start” but wouldn’t amount to much if it did not produce “strong recommendations which prompt equally strong action”.

“Unfortunately aph.gov.au is littered with examples of detailed reports into significant issues which sit around collecting dust,” he said. “It’s not so much the inquiry which is the problem, but how the government responds.”

Huge mark-ups for Australians

Choice studied more than 200 prices for IT products and identified an approximate 50 per cent price differencebetween what Australians and US consumers pay for more or less identical products including music downloads, games and computer hardware. Dell computers were 41 per cent more expensive while Nintendo Wii games were up to 88 per cent more.

Since it conducted its analysis in July consumers have written to Choice with further examples; in some cases they could see the lower price on the US site but the sites blocked them from bypassing the Australian price when ordering:Norton Internet Security two-year subscription: $149 v $US79Roxio Easy VHS to DVD for Mac: $139 v $US79.99Asus laptop (same specs): $1400 v $US680Garmin GPS: $189 v $149

Choice wants the government to investigate whether tools to stop consumers accessing lower prices in overseas markets – such as “geo-blocking” on websites or region-coding – are anti-competitive.

In many cases, the wholesale prices charged to Australian retailers by multinational vendors are significantly higher than those offered to overseas retailers, meaning there is no way they can offer a competitive price. In the case of prices for music downloads, Apple blames the record labels while music industry sources say Apple’s market power gives it the ability to set the price.

The Labor MP Andrew Leigh wrote a submission complaining that Amazon’s range of books for the Kindle in Australia is hundreds of thousands of titles smaller than in the US, and the books that are sold in this market are significantly more expensive than everywhere else.

Monash University’s chief information officer, Dr Ian Tebbett, said high IT prices in Australia diverted resources from research and education, and particularly for students of low socio-economic backgrounds, “the costs of IT in Australia will add to their decision not to take up higher education”.

Price discrimination maximises profits: Treasury

Treasury wrote in its submission dated August 9 that price differentials that aren’t based on differential costs of supply will “generally decline over time, providing there is sufficient competitive pressure or low barriers to entry”.

But while the internet allows consumers to detect when firms are charging higher prices in one country – and buy from cheaper overseas markets – in general there were “incentives for suppliers, in the form of profits, to engage in price discrimination”.

Treasury said the evidence suggested Australian consumers pay higher prices for IT products than consumers in some other markets, but not necessarily the highest globally.

“To that end, improving local competition and increasing access to international markets are ‘no regrets’ measures that can assist in ensuring Australian consumers and business have access to goods and services at internationally competitive prices,” Treasury said.

But it warned against “more interventionist measures” that seek to dictate terms on which consumers and business transactions take place, saying this may stifle innovation and reduce competition further. It said firms should generally be free to set the prices they want

The Competition and Consumer Act (previously the Trade Practices Act) used to prohibit some forms of price discrimination by firms but the prohibition was repealed in 1995 because it reduced price flexibility and was detrimental to competition.

“Treasury considers that the current competition laws are capable of addressing anti-competitive conduct without the need for a specific price discrimination prohibition,” Treasury said.

Vendor excuses don’t hold water: Productivity Commission

The big tech companies, largely through the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), blamed retailers, market size, freight costs, warranty differences, rents, taxes, wages, penalty rates and importation and transport costs as some of the reasons why Australian prices are higher.

But the Productivity Commission, politicians and consumer groups have all said these cannot possibly explain the huge 50 per cent and higher mark-ups faced by Australians on some products.

The commission found that arguments made by international suppliers to defend regional price discrimination are “not persuasive, especially in the case, for example, of downloaded music, software and video where the costs of delivery to the customer are practically zero and uniform around the world”.

Adobe, one of the worst offenders when it comes to price discrimination on software products, has yet to contribute a proper justification for its pricing to the IT pricing inquiry, instead using its submission to state it had already provided feedback to the AIIA.

Other big tech firms like Apple and Microsoft refused to appear at the first public hearings for the inquiry late last month. Apple’s written submission to the inquiry was confidential and therefore cannot be published.

The Productivity Commission acknowledged that there were extra costs of doing business in Australia and the size of the market meant retailers in countries like the US – which buy larger volumes – were able to obtain goods for less.

“While Australia may be relatively close to manufacturing centres in Asia, costs can depend on trade volumes rather than distances travelled, meaning that Australia’s trade routes can be more expensive than those for other countries,” Treasury said in its submission.

Treasury also noted that the recent strength of the Australian dollar has meant the prices of goods in overseas markets are now cheaper in Australian dollar terms. And while exchange rate fluctuations occur instantly, prices of goods aren’t as easily or as quickly changed to reflect this.

This can cut both ways. In 2008, following the depreciation of the Australian dollar, Australia was the cheapest place in the world to purchase an iPod, the Commonwealth Bank has said.

Mr Husic said there would be another public hearing for the inquiry in the coming weeks.

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US masterclass: how to grow as a retailer

High-end homewares store Williams-Sonoma is a remarkable story of growth.ANALYSIS
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The launch or rumoured launch in Australia by an international fashion apparel retailer has become a numbingly regular event. Speculation about how badly the bully boys of global retail, like Zara and Topshop, will beat up the local retailers has become a favourite sport of the retail experts.

Now, Williams-Sonoma’s impending arrival switches the focus to a different kind of fashion – upscale home furnishings.

Williams-Sonoma, a retailer that has become ubiquitous in American shopping centres since its founding by Chuck Williams in Sonoma, California in 1956, is to move into a 2000 square metre space on a pedestrian mall adjacent to Sydney’s Bondi Junction early next year.

But rest assured that it has not come to Australia to set up just one store.

Anyone associated with the retail industry – especially a small retailer with growth aspirations – should make Williams-Sonoma one of their first case studies. It is a remarkable example of how a specialty retailer can grow from one humble store into a multi-concept, multi-channel international powerhouse.

It has accomplished this using a step-by-step process of market segmentation, concept incubation, brand launch via catalogue/e-commerce and then finally, a measured store rollout. By opening stores at a slow tempo rather than helter-skelter, it has ensured limited damage in a couple of instances where a concept has underperformed and needed to be shuttered.

Laura Alber, the CEO, reportedly gushed about the company’s prospects in Australia, observing, among other things, that there was only limited competition in the Australian market. This is a truly remarkable finding considering Australia’s affluence and high rate of home ownership.

It’s also an astute and correct one.

Alber doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of home furnishings stores in Australia. She means that none are anywhere near as targeted to specific population segments and lifestyles as Williams-Sonoma is.

Williams-Sonoma has shown expertly over the years how to use catalogues and e-commerce for market research, and how this information can in turn be used to reduce real estate risk for retailers across the world. E-commerce is not just a sales channel but a way of understanding where the response to your product is strong enough to lob a chain of physical stores.

In this instance, Australia is Williams-Sonoma’s strongest e-commerce market outside North America. (The company has e-commerce in approximately 75 countries and 44 per cent of its $US3.7 billion revenues in 2011 were derived from e-commerce and catalogues.)

This knowledge doesn’t guarantee success for the company’s Australian stores but it does lower the probability of it having to exit with its tail between its legs.

But what makes Williams-Sonoma such a masterclass in growth for ambitious retailers is its ability to segment consumer markets and develop individual retail concepts and products for each.

Williams-Sonoma currently operates 579 stores under five different banners and a further in North America. Four of these concepts – the namesake Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm – are to open cheek-by-jowl in the forthcoming Bondi Junction space.

While Williams-Sonoma itself sells upscale kitchenware, the other three sell furnishings to customers in different life phases. West Elm is the smallest of the four with only 40 stores, but possibly the most interesting and instructive from the standpoint of a retailer case study.

Initially launched as a catalogue in 2002, the first West Elm store opened two years later in the d.u.m.b.o (‘down under the Manhattan Bridge’) neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York, where the local population included many aspirational, design-conscious, but not-quite-yet-affluent young professionals living in small walk-up apartments. The furniture was perfectly adapted to this lifestyle group – well designed, edgy, urban, compactly sized for small living spaces and priced accessibly for a professional household on the cusp of “making it” in New York without actually being there yet.

There’s a market for that in Australia’s biggest cities.

Williams-Sonoma will not open stores willy-nilly in Australia and it should not cause tremors among the existing home goods retailers in the market. But it will add design flair and choice for some underserved segments of Australian consumers.

And for entrepreneurs who want to understand how to grow a world-class specialty retail business – this is a great case study.

Michael Baker is principal of Baker Consulting and can be reached at [email protected]南京夜网 and www.mbaker-retail南京夜网.

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Gillard’s $4 billion dental fix

The $4 billion dental health package will begin in 2014.The federal government will pour $4 billion into a dental package to provide millions of children and millions of adults on low incomes or in rural areas access to government-subsidised dental care.
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Health Minister Tanya Plibersek this morning announced that more than three million children would be eligible for the scheme, which will begin in 2014.

For adults on low incomes, $1.3 billion to fund an additional 1.4 million services will be available in the six-year package.

The changes have been made possible with the support of the Greens, who have insisted on big expansion as grounds for axing the current Medicare chronic disease dental scheme costing about $1 billion a year.

The funding comes on top of the $515 million announced in the 2012-13 budget.

”Labor believes we have a responsibility to ensure Australians who are least able to afford to go the dentist, and particularly children, should be given access to government-subsidised oral health care,” Ms Plibersek said.

Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale flanked Ms Plibersek when she made the announcement in Sydney.

Ms Plibersek said the ‘‘unprecedented’’ package would tackle increasingly poor dental health among low-income people.

Eligible children would be able to get basic dental treatment capped at $1000 a child over two years to address dental decay, which, she said, had been increasing since the 1990s in Australia.

The package includes $2.7 billion for the treatment of children.

“While Medicare and free hospital care have been a basic right for Australians for decades, millions of people in this country still go without adequate dental care,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Labor believes we have a responsibility to ensure Australians who are least able to afford to go the dentist, and particularly children, should be given access to government-subsidised oral health care.”

The government would also provide $1.3 billion to states and territories for expanded dental services for low-income adults but the funding would depend on them at least maintaining current levels of dental services.

There would also be $225 million for dental infrastructure and workforce expansion in outer metropolitan and regional and rural areas.

Ms Plibersek said the public dental scheme would now be able to focus on prevention measures.

‘‘Many more low-income Australians will be able to get not just crisis treatment, when their teeth are falling out or gums abscessing, but actually moving back to a period … of prevention and early intervention,’’ she said.

‘‘The investment today will bear rewards in 10, 20, 30 years’ time.’’

Senator Di Natale said for a wealthy country, Australians had poor oral health. ‘‘Poor oral health leads to a range of complications … one in 10 visits to the GP are because people can’t afford to see a dentist,’’ he said.

Ms Plibersek confirmed the government would close the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, set up by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott when he was health minister under the Howard government.

‘‘It’s been one of the most widely misused schemes ever designed in our public health system,’’ she said. ‘‘I’m very pleased to see the back of it.’’

The scheme was initially estimated by the Howard government to cost $90 million a year, but massive over-servicing and rorting had led to it costing $80 million a month, Ms Plibersek said.

The Medicare teen dental scheme would also be closed and replaced by the broader scheme for children aged up to 18.

Ms Plibersek said the 2012/13 budget allocation of just more than $500 million would be spent first, before the children’s scheme started from January 1, 2014 and the adult scheme from July 2014.

Ms Plibersek said the changes would need new legislation but would be brought to parliament as a change of regulation, which had the backing of the Australian Greens.

Asked where the funding would come from, she said the government would find savings in the budget which would be outlined in the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook later this year.

‘‘We have a very good record of finding savings in the budget,’’ she said. ‘‘We found $30 billion of savings in the last one.’’

The government remained committed to delivering a surplus budget in 2012/13, she said.

Ms Plibersek predicted Mr Abbott would say no to Labor’s dental reform ‘‘like he says no to everything’’.

She said there were capacity restraints in the current system and that was why the reforms would come into effect in 2014.

‘‘There’s some parts of the country where you can’t find a chair and there’s some parts of the country where you can find a chair but not a dentist,’’ she said, adding it would take time to improve access to services.

‘‘This is a bedrock scheme. It can be built up over time.’’

with AAP

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Teen a victim of targeted shooting: police

A bullet hole in the window of a family home in Auburn across the road from where the boy was shot. Heavily fortified … the home of the boy who was shot and his father, who was shot two weeks ago, in Auburn.
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Chalk graffiti on the Auburn apartment block where the boy was shot yesterday. Brothers 4 Life is the gang founded by Bassam Hamzy.

A teenage boy is fighting for his life after being gunned down in the driveway of an apartment block in Sydney’s west.

The 16 year-old boy was the victim of a targeted shooting in Auburn Road, Auburn, last night and police say his family, who are known to police, are refusing to co-operate with them.

The Herald understands the boy’s father, Hakan Goktas, was shot in his car in Auburn two weeks ago, one of more than 100 drive-by shootings in Sydney this year.

He was injured but had only a short stay in hospital.

Detective Superintendent Philip Rogerson said police were investigating whether the boy was shot as part of an ongoing dispute involving his father.

Mr Goktas took his son to hospital yesterday evening but dropped him at the door and then left.

The boy was moved to Westmead Hospital and underwent emergency surgery. He is in an induced coma and is listed as critical but stable.

Superintendent Rogerson said “anyone could have been injured or killed” by the shooting, which occurred in front of a large group of children.

A car with bullet holes was later found outside the Park Road home of the boy, two streets away from where he was shot.

The boy’s home is heavily fortified with concrete walls.

The apartment block where the shooting occurred backs on to Civic Park, a popular hang-out spot for teenagers.

Superintendent Rogerson said his team of detectives were “working around the clock” to solve a string of public-place shootings in Auburn in recent months.

Mr Goktas is with detectives but is giving away little information, he said.

Assistant Commissioner Frank Menilli said this month that shooting victims were continually refusing to co-operate with police because they wanted to protect their own criminality.

A stray bullet hit a resident’s balcony across the road. “It’s a disgraceful act,” Superintendent Rogerson said.

The newly built home is that of a mother and her two children.

She said the bullet hit the balcony just outside the bedroom of her 21-year-old son.

He had to leave the home because he was scared, she said.

“I’m shaking, I’m very scared,” she said.

The apartment block where the boy was shot is covered in chalk messages about gangs and the police.

Several messages say “Brothers 4 Life B4L”, referring to the gang founded by Bassam Hamzy, the convicted murderer, drug dealer and kidnapper serving a life sentence in Goulburn Supermax.

Other scrawled messages say “criminal mind” and “down for brothers, f— da cops”.

One resident said groups of teenagers often hang out in the driveway where there is a couch and a basketball ring.

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Footy betting tipped to soar to $3.3b

Sports betting is booming. DIGITAL IMAGE: JUDY GREENBetting on Australia’s two largest football codes is set to double over the next five years to $3.3 billion, driven by strong growth in online gambling on sports, a Deloitte report says.
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The report, commissioned by online bookmaker Sportsbet南京夜网.au, found annual betting on the AFL had reached $900 million, with $750 million wagered on the NRL. This is forecast to rise to $1.8 billion (AFL) and $1.5 billion (NRL) in five years.

Deloitte found total turnover on sports betting has grown more than 13 per cent a year, driven by strong growth in online sports wagering of 28 per cent.

But overall sports betting remained significantly smaller than racing; $3.3 billion at present compared to $20 billion.

Australia’s two favourite football codes accounted for about half of all sports betting and 7 per cent of all betting in Australia.

Australian bookmakers generated an estimated $81.5 million in revenue from NRL and AFL wagering in 2011, with bookies also contributing about $45 million a year to football-related products through sponsorship and advertising expenditure.

Individual bookies have product-fee agreements with sporting bodies, but most are based on a gross-win model in which a percentage of profit is paid to the code.

There are reports the NRL is considering changing its model to a 1.5 per cent take of overall turnover, which Deloitte says will drive down the value of bookies’ profits and revenue to the code.

The report says that if this model is adopted, it would significantly reduce the profitability of NRL wagering products.

This would force betting agencies to take action to preserve profitability, including significantly reducing or reallocating marketing expenditure, and reducing odds offered to consumers, it says.

Sportsbet chief executive Cormac Barry said the report showed “the importance of our industry as a financial contributor to sport and racing”.

Mr Barry said if the NRL did change its model, punters would turn off local sites in search of better odds on “unregulated” overseas sites.

“This increases the risk to the integrity of sport and is likely to result in reduced returns to sport from product fees over the long-term. Unregulated foreign sites do not pay product fees, while in the past five years, Sportsbet alone has paid more than $50 million in product fees,” he said.

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Iron ore’s fall threatens Australian incomes

In the land of commodity research, various research houses are scrambling to catch up to the reality of a falling iron ore price.
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Until this recent price collapse (down 30% in a couple of months to $US95) iron ore prices were widely considered to have a “price floor at $US120”.

The price-floor notion was based upon the idea that Chinese iron ore producers have a marginal cost of $US120 and so would close down if the price fell below that level, removing supply and supporting prices.

However, the “price floor” argument had a fatal flaw.

It assumed seamless growth of demand in China and what has caught everyone by surprise is that is no longer the case.

Indeed, Chinese steel prices are still falling after a year-long correction:

And thus, so are iron ore prices:

It is very difficult to know where the bottom is for the iron ore price. We have clearly entered some kind of capitulation phase in the correction and the technical retracement chart that suggested a $US75 target is no longer looking at all fanciful:

Terms of trade shock

But what we can say for sure is that every time iron ore and coking coal falls 1%, the terms of trade – the ratio of export prices to import prices – falls about one third of that.

If we add in the recent thermal coal price correction then we are looking a terms of trade shock approaching 13% in the last couple of months alone.

With a high dollar, the real shock is worse still.

It is widely known that Australia’s income growth has become dependent upon high terms of trade, instead of other sources, such as productivity growth. In effect over the past decade we’ve enjoyed a huge pay rise owing to the high price of commodities.

Now we’re taking the equivalent of a big pay cut as a national income recession looms.

The last two occasions we experienced significant income falls as a nation were both difficult economic periods:

This time around we have some insurance in an ongoing and wider boom in liquefied natural gas investment that is not so far affected by the commodity price falls.

But we’ve already seen big mining projects getting shelved. There will be more.

Income recessions usually involve rising unemployment and some hit to consumption.

Whether this buffeting becomes something worse will depend upon the response to the official interest rate cuts that will come if these price falls continue or do not reverse.

David Llewellyn-Smith is the editor of Macro Investor, Australia’s independent newsletter covering stocks, trades, property and fixed interest. Macro Investor is running series of specials on how to profit from the end of the mining boom. A free 21-day trial is available at the site.

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Wanderers the sum of their parts, not the past

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic directs traffic at training.Western Sydney Wanderers fingered as Sydney United in disguise? You have to be kidding. Sadly, people who should know better, among them former Socceroo Ray Richards, seem all too ready to peddle the myth. Normally it wouldn’t matter too much. This, after all, is a game built on conspiracy theories. And there have been no more enduring conspiracy theories than those mired in Balkan politics. For more than three decades, this has been the hotspot for the game.
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So here’s the rub. The Wanderers are taking their first tentative steps as the A-League’s newest team. Their selling point is to become the sum of the parts of the entire Western Sydney region. That includes all sides of the Balkan divide. Being put only in the Croatian corner isn’t just wrong, it hurts. Hurts the Wanderers, hurts the A-League. Those pushing that barrow need to take a long, hard, look in the mirror. In this case, the idle gossip is doing far more damage than it’s worth.

So what’s brought it about? The coaching appointments, fundamentally. Head coach Tony Popovic and his assistant, brother-in-law Ante Milicic, played for Sydney United, and have Croatian heritage. Does it matter they were born here, and played for the Socceroos? It does, and it should. The same goes for goalkeeper Ante Covic – another fall guy for the Chinese whisperers.

True enough, the first two imports signed by the Wanderers (Dino Kresinger and Mateo Poljak) came from Croatia. So what? Does the fact that John van’t Schip once signed Rutger Worm make Melbourne Heart a Dutch club? Was Rini Coolen guilty of the same charge because he signed Andy Slory for Adelaide United? Are Perth Glory a Scottish club because Ian Ferguson signed countrymen Steve McGarry and Liam Miller? What about Sydney FC, when former Czech coach Vitezslav Lavicka signed Karol Kisel not once, but on two occasions? Popovic went to Croatia for his first two foreigners because he knows the league, and the players were available at the right price. His judgment should stand or fall on their performance, not their passport.

Sadly, just as the steam was going out of the rumour mill, the Wanderers turned up to play at Sydney United, and there was trouble. Not the level of trouble portrayed by the usual couple of media outlets, but enough to put some heat back into the discussion. Starting off the back foot, Wanderers boss Lyall Gorman has since been telling everyone that by the time his operation is bedded down, there will be just five employees from about 80 who have a Croatian background. It’s a telling fact, but the hard part is to get people to listen.

Why all this matters is because sooner rather than later, the game needs to leave this baggage behind. There was a time when nationalists used clubs like Sydney United, like Footscray, like Preston, like Sydney Olympic, as a forum for their grievances. It is a part of the game’s history, and can’t, and shouldn’t, be whitewashed. But where it counts – on the ground in the old Yugoslavia – things have moved on.

Just recently, I was in Montenegro. Every second car had a Croatian number plate. The owner of my hotel in Kotor, a Serb, crosses the border to have lunch in Dubrovnik at least once a week. You can have adult conversations about culture, religion and politics, and nobody pulls a knife, or a gun. You can even talk about the war if you want to, but everyone would rather leave that at the door. I’ve also been to Slovenia, and to Croatia, and I’ve seen this level of maturity evolve as the conflict becomes more distant. And yet in a corner of south-western Sydney, there are still some morons – and I only use that term because this is a family newspaper – who prefer to hold a grudge, and ambush football matches to make their point.

That is manna from heaven for hair-trigger police and flash-happy photographers, as we’ve seen, once again. True enough, Sydney United should have got rid of their hooligan fringe a long time ago. That apathy has come at an enormous cost. And it is a sad fact that even in the NSW Premier League, games between Sydney United and Serbian-backed Bonnyrigg White Eagles still have to be held behind closed doors. Not that long ago, Mark Rudan, a former Sydney United player, was abused by supporters when he ventured to Bonnyrigg as coach of the visiting team. It wasn’t Sydney United, but Rockdale City. Some people just don’t want to let go.

Eventually they will, given time, and space. Which is why resurrecting old prejudices by pointing the finger at the Wanderers needs to stop. The club doesn’t need it, or deserve it. In the meantime, I’ll give the final word to Alex Kennedy, who sent me this email in the wake of the so-called “riot” at Edensor Park. It makes more sense than I ever could.

“Dear Michael,

I read with great interest your article on Sydney United mainly because I have had the honour to be associated over the last year with many of the real members of this club. Prior to this year I have been pretty much a rugby union supporter and had not taken much interest in the round ball game…there is a good deal of very talented, well-behaved young men coming through the ranks of Sydney soccer and in particular Sydney United. The players from under 13 and up clearly demonstrate high respect for their coaches, managers, the patrons and the club itself. Therefore it is such a shame to see the ill disciplined, non-membered rabble attend games for the sole purpose of creating upset. The behaviour of the rabble is so divorced from that of the true membership. I have come to know many of the Croatian and other nationality members of this club and can attest to their wonderful character and behaviour. Many residents of greater Sydney could learn a lot from them. Every code has or has had this problem so the soccer officials could learn from the experiences of the other codes. The ball is now at the feet of the clubs and the association to fix this problem, so I wish them the very best to ensure the world game is as appreciated in Australia as it is in the rest of the world.”

Hear, hear.

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Dudley shark attack victim recovering in WA

THE Dudley surfer attacked by a shark at a remote Western Australian beach has undergone surgery.
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Jon Hines, 34, was bitten on the torso and right arm by the unidentified species of shark at Red Bluff, a renowned surfing spot about 150 kilometres north of Carnarvon, yesterday afternoon.

Newcastle man treated after shark attack

A Royal Perth hospital spokeswoman said the man was undergoing surgery this morning for his injuries.

The WA Today website is reporting that Margaret River-based surfing legend Jeff Goulden, who goes by the name of “Camel”, was being hailed a hero after pulling Mr Hines out of the water after the attack.

Margaret River Surfrider Foundation president, Gene Hardy said it sounded like something Camel would do.

“He’s a big-wave surfer, he has no fear, for sure he’d put him on his big board and take him in,” Mr Hardy said.

Mr Hardy said Camel was an eccentric character who had been part of the Margaret River surf scene for years.

Mr Hines was initially bitten around the abdomen but suffered a savage arm injury as he attempted to fight off a second attack.

He was pulled from the water, conscious and in good spirits, and driven in a private car to Carnarvon Hospital, a two-hour drive on unsealed roads, from the remote beach.

He was flown to Perth overnight for emergency surgery.

His wife, Bridget, has flown from Newcastle to be by his side.

Witnesses told of bloodied water and Mr Hines who was in ‘‘good spirits’’ as he was pulled to safety.

Rebecca Caldwell said her children, who were in the water at the time of the attack, noticed an injured surfer but did not see the shark.

‘‘The water was full of blood,’’ she said.

‘‘He was conscious the whole way back, though he was OK, he was good.

‘‘He’s in good spirits, as well as he could be.’’

Mr Hines had been staying with former Novocastrians at popular beachside camping location Three Mile Camp in Gnaraloo after arriving in the area six days ago.

He had flown into Exmouth via Perth from Newcastle last week.

The attack comes after reports that a four-metre shark had been seen in the same area last week by a recreational fisherman.

VICTIM: Dudley’s Jon Hines is flown to hospital for surgery.

Beaches in the area were closed for 24 hours following the attack.

I did not lie to protect officer, sergeant tells Salter inquiry

A police officer has rejected suggestions she lied to an inquiry to help justify a colleague’s actions in fatally shooting a mentally ill Sydney man.
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Sergeant Emily Metcalf today told the Police Integrity Commission she saw fellow officer Sheree Bissett shoot Adam Salter inside his family home in Lakemba in November 2009.

Police went to the home in response to a call that Mr Salter was attempting self harm and the commission has heard he was shot while stabbing himself in the throat with a knife.

His shooting, the subsequent police investigation and allegations of a police cover-up are now the subject of an inquiry by the commission.

Moments after the shooting, Sergeant Metcalf was recorded on police radio saying that Mr Salter had come at officers with a knife.

She said today that the radio report was inaccurate and that Mr Salter had not threatened officers.

In questioning today from counsel assisting the commissioner, Geoffrey Watson, SC, Sergeant Metcalf conceded that originally stating Mr Salter had threatened police had portrayed the officers involved in a “good light”.

However, Sergeant Metcalf said she did see Probationary Constable Aaron Abela with his arms around Mr Salter only seconds before the shooting took place.

Sergeant Bissett previously told the internal police inquiry into the shooting that she fired at the 36-year-old because she feared he would stab Constable Abela.

But three paramedics in the room at the time of the shooting have told the commission that no one was near Mr Salter when he was shot and he was only a danger to himself.

“I want to put it to you that your evidence is nothing more than a contrived lie to attempt to justify Bissett’s shooting of Adam Salter,” Mr Watson said to Sergeant Metcalf.

She replied: “That is incorrect.”

Sergeant Metcalf said her recollection of where Mr Salter and Constable Abela were standing at the time of the shooting differed from that of Sergeant Bissett.

The inquiry continues.

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

Saving my Mac from Flash

It’s time to wrestle back control of my Mac.Adobe’s Flash is one of those technologies you either love or hate. Personally I think Flash still has its place for internet video and other rich content, even though HTML5 is slowly killing it. My main gripe with Flash is that it’s such a resource pig running on a Mac, especially an older Mac relying on Intel graphics rather than the new NVIDIA graphics.Chrome is my browser of choice on Mac and Windows, in part because it features its own task manager and runs each tab and plugin as a separate process. If you’re running Chrome, it’s worth checking your plugin list to see how many versions of Flash are listed (type chrome://plugins into the URL bar). Click “Details” on the right and your full list of plugins will expand. Scroll down to Flash. If you find more than one version installed, try disabling all but the most recent version. The 11.4 update has just been released. If you find more than one copy of the latest version, such as one stored in /Library and another in /Applications, try disabling one or the other to see if the situation improves.One of the problems with the Flash plugin is that it doesn’t always give resources back after it’s finished with them. So if you’ve been playing a Flash-intensive game like Farmville, even when you close Farmville your Mac can still be incredibly sluggish. The trick is to open up the Chrome task manager and manually kill the Shockwave Flash plugin. It’s an effective solution but not very elegant.Thankfully you’ll find an elegant option for killing the Shockwave Flash plugin in FlashFrozen, which is available from the Mac App store for 99 cents. It runs in the menu bar at the top of your screen, monitoring the resources used by Shockwave Flash. You can set it to turn red when the Flash plugin hits a certain CPU usage. The simply click on the icon to kill the plugin.FlashFrozen has an auto-kill function which automatically kills the Flash plugin whenever it launches, although that’s probably not very practical. If you really want to kill off Flash but need more granular control, take a look at FlashBlock in the Chrome store. It blocks Flash content in web pages by default, but you can still click on the ones you want to watch. You can also whitelist the sites on which you always want Flash to run, for example youtube南京夜网 is whitelisted by default.It’s still hard to get by without Flash on your Mac, but thankfully you can take back control and stop it crippling your computer. Do you have trouble with Flash or other plugins crippling your computer?
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Steak and peanut butter: the Liz Taylor diet

High fat diet … famously curvaceous Elizabeth Taylor stars in 1959 film Suddenly Last Summer.An effective diet entails a balanced intake and plenty of exercise, right?
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Not exactly, if you follow the dietary advice of Elizabeth Taylor.

We’ve heard our fair share of questionable dietary tips – not from least Karl Lagerfeld, who champions the highly dubious nutritional content of Diet Coke as key to slimming down from fashion heavyweight to fashion’s dahling.

He’s not alone. Who can forget the baby food diet (possibly not you, Jennifer Aniston), or those who are said to order water and Red Bull in place of a meal (we’re looking at you, Paris Hilton), or those who favour ADD drug Adderall (Britney Spears, that was once you, we hear)? There are those who have experimented with laxatives and, of course, those who resort to a surgeon’s scalpel to shift a few pounds.

Grapefruit diets – à la Kylie Minogue – may be less terrifying, but watching calories is nothing new. Nietzsche and Henry James were strict weightwatchers, while the Huffington Post reports that Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson were ahead of their time in another way, choosing a vegetarian diet in days when meat was all but obligatory.

Reportedly a proponent if the distinctly unappealing steak-and-peanut butter sandwich, Taylor doled out some eyebrow-raising weight-loss tips, pushing a high saturated fat diet that has well and truly fallen by the wayside with current nutritionists (and anathema, surely, to those who criticise the Atkins diet).

What a difference 23 years makes – along with her take on steak, the Cleopatra actress mixed cottage cheese with sour cream and advised nothing but plain toast for breakfast in her 1987 diet book, Elizabeth Takes Off.

Not that the actress didn’t have a good innings – she died in 2011 at the age of 79.

We may be better off taking a leaf from Audrey Hepburn’s lifestyle. According to Pamela Keogh’s What Would Audrey Do?, she preferred organic produce and the odd plate of pasta, treating herself to a square of dark cooking chocolate in the afternoons. She drank wine, but was partial to the “occasional Scotch”, said the Daily Mail.

There seems however, a notable lack of protein on the Hepburn table – and the fashion icon never took exercise, instead staying active by way of her daily routines, walking wherever she could.

Lagerfeld may agree with her mores – he dodges exercise, fearing that it stimulates appetite and weight gain.

Protein was high in Marilyn Monroe’s diet. In 1952, she told Pageant magazine that she drinks a glass of warm milk with two raw eggs stirred into it for breakfast. As rich in some nutrients as it may be, the Huffington Post points out the meal has high cholesterol and at risk of contamination – but then, the star herself admitted that she had been told her eating habits were “absolutely bizarre”.

Less unorthodox, though certainly ahead of her time was the admission that the blonde bombshell exercised with weights, taking care of her very best assets.

Like Garbo, the star would undoubtedly have been influenced in some way by Hollywood diet maven Gayelord Hauser, who shared his dietary tips with stars of the silver screen after moving to Hollywood in 1927. Sanguine and down-to-earth, Hauser’s fruit, vegetable, broth and herb-heavy food tips make many a contemporary diet seem more faddish than ever.

For some stars of the 1950s, enviable figures went beyond food. According to the LA Times, Maria Callas, the troubled soprano, took an alarming route, injecting iodine into her lymph system to help her lose weight.

Spin the years back further and Lord Byron, as dashing and devilish as he may have been, had a “morbid propensity to fatten”. According to the BBC, the Don Juan writer subsisted on “biscuits and soda water or potatoes drenched in vinegar” while at Cambridge University, where he wore woollen layers to help shed pounds. He smoked cigars to supress appetite and was seen as a bad influence on the impressionable youths of circa 1818.

The poet, who died aged 36 in 1824, was in good company. One of the very first diet books was Brillat-Savarin’s Physiology of Taste, written in 1825 – making the odd jar of baby food ingested by a 2012 A-lister seem as old hat as it is plain unappetising.

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

Lend Lease unit wins rail link contract

Infrastructure and construction group Lend Lease’s subsidiary Baulderstone has won the contract to manage the early works component of the North West Rail Link. The contract is estimated to be worth $70 million.
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The long-anticipated project is scheduled to deliver a new 36 kilometre long rapid transit rail link between Chatswood on Sydney’s north shore and the growing Hill’s district in the North West of Sydney.

Under the contract, Baulderstone will work on the relocation of services and utilities; site readiness and demolition works; and the provision of HV electrical supply for the main works.

In a statement today Baulderstone’s NSW general manager, Frank Lorenzetto, said completion of early works is due in mid-2014.

The win comes a day before Lend Lease reports its 2012 full year profit, which will be a welcome distraction from the recent asbestos concerns at its $6 billion Barangaroo South project.

Last week Lend Lease revealed that small pieces of fibro cement material containing bonded asbestos have been found at Port Kembla.

Andrew Wilson, the managing director of Barangaroo South said the group had correctly followed all agreed procedures to spot and remove fibro from the Barangaroo South excavated material, including the additional testing and air monitoring measures.

“There has been no air borne asbestos identified,” Mr Wilson said.

In the results tomorrow, analyts at JP Morgan are forecasting Lend Lease to report a net profit after tax of $487 million, up 27 per cent on the $383.6 million in the previous corresponding period.

“Lend Lease continues to offers good risk adjusted value and leverage into a robust medium term earnings outlook with a number of near term positive catalysts, such as the Valemus business and the mixed use development pipeline),” the brokers say.

The chief executive of Lend Lease, Steve McCann has consistently said that the group will focus on expanding its global infrastructure and development business in the future. That will see it in partnerships with public and private groups.

The results will also include an update on the future of the athlete’s village that was the focus of the recent London 2012 Olympic Games, which will be converted into one of the largest mixed use residential and retail areas in Britain.

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

Ben, don’t do it, step away from QE3

As regularly as swallows return to Capistrano and hurricanes hit the Gulf coast, post-GFC markets get all a-flutter or at least windy about any suggestion of the US Federal Reserve chairman cranking up the printing presses again.
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And that’s allegedly an excuse for markets nervously doing little ahead of a central bankers’ gabfest in Wyoming on Friday night.

Despite all the wind and flutters, here’s trusting that Ben Bernanke doesn’t feed the habit: Ben, step away from QE3, you know it wouldn’t help.

Odds are that Bernanke’s increasingly-awaited speech at Jackson Hole will be more of the recent same: a promise of being ready to act if action is required, but nothing concrete, leaving the possibility of another round of quantitative easing blowing in the breeze.

The short-term danger of that is a knee-jerk reaction of disappointment that will irrationally ripple through the world’s markets. (“The Fed failed to trash the greenback – quick, sell Telstra and Woolworths.”)

In the medium term, failing to be blunt with the American public about the diminishing returns from QE leaves markets with their sugar addiction intact and American politicians continuing to hide from their looming crisis in the belief that the Fed will somehow muddle through and make it all right. The great force of American democracy can get back to focussing on the big issues: the Romneys buying 100-roll packs of Costco toilet paper and Obama hiding his past as a member of the Mujahedeen.

Gold speculators

Some stronger language from the Bernanke, pointing out that (a) QE3 wouldn’t do much to help anyone right now except gold speculators and (b) the US doesn’t really need QE3 anyway, might just help turn attention back to the political paralysis that continues to loom as the biggest problem for the world’s biggest economy.

Sure, the central bank can always apply more stimulation, but at present US levels, it’s just pushing harder on the piece of string. To the extent that the Fed has some ammunition left, best to wait in case it’s really needed, when it’s not just the whites of the enemy’s eyes but the pulsing blood vessels therein that can be distinguished.

With distractions ranging from encircling China to hurricanes to loopy Senators imagining “genuine” rape, the one that Washington doesn’t seem to be concentrating on is how to avoid crashing over the planned fiscal cliff that will send the country into recession next year.

It is such an extraordinary situation that it engenders disbelief. Surely it’s more likely that Romney is African American and Obama a Mormon than the Republicans and Democrats have combined to program another recession. ‘Fraid not.

They need to be told, Ben. When you deliver your much anticipated speech this Friday in an out-of-season ski resort in the middle of American nowhere, please set them straight. Put the responsibility for America’s recovery back where it belongs: in the hands of the (unfortunately motley) crew that must intelligently ditch tax lurks and surgically cut structurally unsustainable spending. Continuing to debase the American dollar won’t really help.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor

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