‘Underquote the sh– out of it’: Agency cops record $880k fine

A Balwyn-based real estate agency has been fined a record $880,000 for underquoting 22 properties in some of Melbourne’s blue chip suburbs, the strongest penalty for the practice in Victoria.
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In handing down the fine on Thursday, Justice Bernard Murphy said the size of the punishment would deter other agencies from similar behaviour, given several recent Consumer Affairs prosecutions, “and common experience” pointed to “a widespread problem of underquoting by residential real estate agencies”.

Fletcher and Parker (Balwyn) Pty Ltd was fined $40,000 for each of the 22 properties that was underquoted by sales representatives in its Canterbury and Blackburn offices in 2015.

The agency had a cavalier attitude to its responsibilities, Justice Murphy said. The evidence included: The quote of the week in one 2015 sales meeting was: “market the f— out of it and then underquote the shit out of it – good vendor management”;Sales staff were at least once provided training which focused on cases where underquoting had seemingly led to a high sales price and a significant spike in interest;One agent telling a vendor the best way to get “a record price” was to advertise a property with a low price, and later remove the price guide altogether;Sales agents describing Consumer Affairs as “a toothless tiger”;Agents in the Canterbury and Blackburn office were warned by the chief executive to ensure their price quotes aligned with price estimates.

Justice Murphy highlighted one example where the seller of a Balwyn North property asked her agent why her house was marketed between $1.1 million and $1.2 million when the agency estimated it would sell for between $1.5 million and $1.65 million.

She was told the quote was low because “it brings in a broader market range” and ‘people with a low budget will often come up, and it will also catch the people with bigger budgets as well”.

The $880,000 penalty is more than double the commission it made from the 22 properties and constitutes more than one third of the company’s profit for the last financial year.

Thursday’s case was the latest in a string of prosections for underquoting, the biggest of which was last year when the Richmond office of Hocking Stuart was fined $330,000 for underquoting on 11 properties listed for sale in Richmond and Kew.

Fletcher and Parker Balwyn chief executive Bradley Brown apologised to those affected.

“I want to apologise to all the homebuyers whose valuable time we wasted as a result of this unacceptable conduct by a few members of our team,” he said.

“This type of behaviour went completely against everything we stand for as a business and how we treat our customers, which is why we have taken significant steps since the incidents were uncovered in 2015 to ensure they never happen again.”

Mr Brown acknowledged that homebuyers faced enough challenges in the market.

“They don’t need underquoting, and we don’t tolerate it either, which is why we have put strict compliance measures in place to stamp it out for good,” he said.

Justice Murphy ordered Fletcher and Parker publish notices about its misleading and deceptive conduct in full-page newspaper ads and on its website, and to pay $40,000 to Consumer Affairs, the prosecuting agency.

Consumer affairs minister Marlene Kairouz said: “Underquoting is dishonest, misleading and against the law – and today’s decision shows that if you do it, you’ll pay the price.”

With AAP

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

The Trip: Borneo wildcat safari

NAME Margarita Steinhardt, Sydney, NSW
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THE TRIP Wildlife watching safari in Deramakot Forest Reserve, Borneo

THE ITINERARY Over the past three years, Deramakot Forest Reserve in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo has been gaining a reputation as the go-to place to see Borneo’s wild cats.

Urged by the desire to see a clouded leopard in the wild, I teamed up with three other wildlife watchers and we booked a 10-night safari with Adventure Alternative Borneo. We all flew to Sandakan, and from there on AA Borneo took care of everything else: transfers, permits to enter Deramakot, all food and drink and accommodation. They also provided us with an unstoppable support team: Mike our eagle-eyed guide, Caleb – the fearless driver and Giddi – a talented cook, who wasn’t opposed to cooking some of our meals out in the field.

For the next 10 days, our activities alternated between long night drives in search of wildlife and lazy days around the living quarters. After searching the jungle for seven nights, we finally found our main quarry – the notoriously elusive clouded leopard. The following night, we found an equally elusive marbled cat camped up on a tree branch about 40 metres above our heads. While looking for cats, we had close encounters with Borneo pygmy elephants, watched flying squirrels soar across the sky, saw orangutans, colugos and a plethora of other wildlife.

The accommodation in Deramakot is not flash, but comfortable. We had a three-bedroom chalet to ourselves that came equipped with airconditioning and en suite bathrooms.

BEST BITS Apart from the unique and rarely-seen wildlife, it was the magic of the jungle at night. On clear nights, we could see the bright band of the Milky Way arching over the treetops.

WORST BITS Borneo is one of the wettest places on earth, so be prepared to get caught in a tropical downpour at least once during your stay.

BEST TIP Visit between March and November to have the highest chance of dry weather.

WHERE TO NEXT Argentina and Brazil for jaguars and ocelots.

Community spirit shines

FAMILY FIRST: Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson pictured with her family.As the year draws to a close I find myself reflecting on thepeople who’ve touched my life during the year. The trials and triumphs they’ve faced. And, ultimately, the courageous spirit that defines our community and lifts us through every adversity. I’d like to thank every individual, school, community,business group, and sporting association that has invited me along to functionsand meetings during the past year. I’ve been grateful for your warm welcome. I also thank my team, who have helped many, many people with issues such as NDIS, NBN, Centrelink and so much more. They make my role so much easier and I couldn’t do it without them.
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It has been an absolute delight to meet volunteers and advocates who give so much to our region, and to help allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars in Stronger Communities and Sporting grants to support great work in our electorate.

I’m proud that I have been able to bring our plights and our achievements to the halls of federal Parliament. I’ve had the opportunity to advocate for our veterans; fight for the rights of those affected by PFAS contamination; and demand that the Government come up with an energy policy that ensures fairer prices for individuals and reliable electricity for industries. The chambers of Parliament House have rung with my praises for a multitude of people and projects that have helped make our community the wonderful place it is to live, work and play.

The Parliamentary record reflects my gratitude to the firefighters who battled the devastating bushfires that struck the Coalfields in January and again in September, and the pages of Hansard convey the colour and atmosphere of the Kurri Kurri Nostalgia Festival and the eucalypt scents of Port Stephens Koalas.

On a personal note, my family has this year supported my eldest daughter Lara through her HSC and this month welcomed a new foal to our farm. She was born the day the Marriage Equality bill passed Parliament, and we named her Aequitas in honour of thehistoric occasion. From my family to yours, we hope you have a safe and happy festive season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Paterson

Jets chase reinforcements

JETS officials hope to have at least two, and possibly three, new players signed and available for the round-15 derby clash with Central Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium.
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Newcastle have a host of players sidelined because of injuries, and the long-term absence of marquee signing Ronny Vargas (ankle), Irish striker Roy O’Donovan (groin) and young midfielder Jake Adelson (knee) has opened up the option of bringing in injury-waiver replacements.

The Jets are scouring the marketplace for players capable of reinforcing the squad but will not be able to make any signings until the next transfer window opens on January 3, which coincides with Newcastle’s round-14 clash with Sydney at Allianz Stadium.

Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna said the plan would be tohave new recruits on deck for the showdown with the Mariners six days later.

“The transfer window opens up January 3, but realistically they’re not going be cleared for the game that night,” McKinna said.

“So the game against the Mariners on the ninth, hopefully we’ll have a replacement for Vargas anda replacement for O’Donovanboth available for that game.

“The other one we can potentially replace is Jake Adelson, because he’s out for the season.”

McKinna said player agents were “sending as many players as they can” for Newcastle’s coaching staff to assess via video.

The Jets are well advanced in bringing in a replacement for Vargas, possibly someone who will sign beyond the end of this season, but will need a short-term substitute for O’Donovan, who faces a 12-week recovery period.

“The problem we’ve got is getting someone for three months, because most of the transfer windows are closed [afterwards],” McKinna said. “It’s all very well getting someone coming in for three months, but then they can’t go anywhere until June/July.”

He was confident Newcastle’s players would cope despite themounting casualty toll, which also includes Daniel Geogievski (knee), Nick Cowburn (hamstring) and Jack Duncan (foot).

“You don’t dwell on it, because that’s football,” McKinna said.

“You just look to the next game. We’re a bit skinny at the moment, but we’ve got boys who can do the job, and we’ve proven it all season.

“We just need to get through the next three weeks and then hopefully we’ll have two, maybe three new players come into the squad.”

Chinese triallistsYuJiawei and Gan Tiancheng, who started training with Newcastle on Monday, areyet to convince coachingstaff that they are up to A-League standards. “It’s too early to say,” McKinna said. “But their match fitness is probably not where it should be.”

SETBACK: Newcastle’s leading scorer Roy O’Donovan is expected to be out for 12 weeks with a groin injury. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

BODY BLOW: Marquee signing Ronny Vargas is recovering from a broken ankle he suffered playing against Brisbane in round three. Picture: Marina Neil

Don’t forget: The things you need to do before you travel

Everyone forgets stuff when they travel. My own catalogue of items left behind includes charge cables, warm clothing on a winter trip to Hong Kong, various pieces of vital camera equipment, bathers for a resort holiday and underwear. Not just one pair but the whole lot.
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Our foul-ups are wonderful teachers and the first rule of successful trip preparation is a checklist. Checklists are ideal for mundane, repetitive tasks that can bring you undone. Pilots use checklists. When they’re sitting in the cockpit at the gate, on the runway before takeoff and at just about every stage of the flight, they run through a checklist. So do I these days, and it’s a lifesaver.

Everyone has a different list, and every trip requires its own, but here’s a universal checklist – plus some fixes and ideas to make your holiday run a little bit sweeter. THE WEEK BEFORE YOU GOPASSPORT

You need a passport valid for six months, and some airlines will insist that period extends to the date of your return to Australia. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can issue a passport at short notice through its priority service but you’ll pay an additional fee. Make sure you’re compliant with whatever the visa requirements are for your destination, otherwise you won’t be getting on the plane. (See the panel opposite for further passport advice and information). SHOTS

It may not be too late to see your doctor and take whatever medical precautions your destination might require. Take any prescription medications or hygiene products you might need. The Travel Health section of the Red Planet Travel website (redplanet.travel) has destination-specific information, and also a suggested medical kit and contents to take on your trip. INSURANCE

Hopefully you locked this in the moment you made your booking, thus protecting you from any unforeseen events that might affect your travel plans, but it’s never too late. Even if you’re taking a cruise in Australian waters you need travel insurance. Adequate medical coverage is the No.1 item. Take a look at the travel insurance comparisons on finder南京夜网419论坛MONEY

You’ll probably be giving your debit and credit cards a workout so tell your bank if you’re heading offshore. Ideally you need at least one debit card to use at ATMs and one credit card, to pay hotel bills, restaurant charges and tour charges. You might want to arrive at your destination with a small amount of foreign currency in your pocket and you can order most currencies through Australia Post, at a competitive exchange rate. Budget Your Trip (budgetyourtrip南京夜网) has a budget calculator for all destinations. DRIVERS LICENCE

Chances are you will never be asked to produce an international drivers licence at the car hire desk but in most countries it’s required. If you’re behind the wheel and involved in an accident, you might run foul of the law without one. International licences are available from your state motoring organisation. If you have an accident while riding a scooter and you don’t have an Australian motorcycle licence your insurer might not come to the party to cover medical expenses and damages. ACCOMMODATION

You’ve left it late if you haven’t got your accommodation sorted, but there are a few websites specifically for late bookings such as hoteltonight南京夜网 that works well in the US, less so in the rest of the world. Another option is Last Minute (lastminute南京夜网419论坛) APPS

Travel calls for a special suite of smartphone apps. Among the most useful are Google Maps, Weather Live, Google Translate, XE Currency Pro, CityMaps2Go and WhatsApp and Skype for making phone calls with free Wi-Fi. PLAN

Snap an image of your passport photo page, itinerary, travel insurance policy, airline tickets and any other important documents and email them to yourself and to someone else who can retrieve them quickly in an emergency. Save them to the cloud as well, just in case. If you are overseas and in need of consular assistance from the Australian Government, the number is +61 2 6261 3305. Save it to your phone. SMARTRAVELLER REGISTRATION

If something untoward happens in the country you’re visiting, it helps if the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade knows you’re in the area, and to start checking that you’re OK. Registering your travel plans on DFAT’s Smartraveller website (smartraveller.gov419论坛) takes about five minutes to complete. INTERNET CHECK-IN

Most airlines give you the option, and it usually gets you into a shorter queue at the check-in desk. You might also be able to confirm seat selection and nowadays even meal choice at the same time. COMMUNICATIONS

All the major telcos offer international roaming packages that give you data roaming overseas, at a cost of around $10 per day. A much cheaper option is to buy a local SIM card at your destination, and you can often find retailers inside the airport terminal. Multi-country SIM cards from providers such as ekit (ekit南京夜网), TravelSIM (travelsim.net419论坛) [travelsim.net419论坛] or WorldSim (worldsim南京夜网) are another option. If you leave your usual SIM card in place, turn off data roaming as soon as you depart our shores, even if you’re cruising in Australian waters. PETS

Rather than shunting your furry friends off to a boarding kennel, there are plenty of pet-sitting services that match you with a pet-sitter ready, willing and able to provide love and affection in return for a rent-free stay. Try Aussie House Sitters (aussiehousesitters南京夜网419论坛), Mad Paws (madpaws南京夜网419论坛) or Happy House Sitters (happyhousesitters南京夜网419论坛) HOME SECURITY

Don’t advertise your absence, including on social media channels (see below). Ask a neighbour to take in your mail, and a timer switch to turn lights on and off is a small investment. A movement-activated security camera can show you what’s happening in your home via a smartphone app, and ping you if there’s an unexpected entry. THE DAY OF DEPARTUREPASSPORT

Ideally you want to stow your passport where it’s safe and secure but also accessible. Some prefer a waist belt, for some it’s a bag they can hang around their neck but there’s a pocket on my carry-on bag that works fine for me. AIRPORT

The rate you’ll get if you buy foreign currency in the airport terminal you’re departing from is terrible. Exchange at your destination and you’ll get more for your money. Apart from alcohol and tobacco products, which are taxed at a higher rate than Australia’s standard 10 per cent GST, duty-free shopping at airports is rarely a bargain. Airport coffee is a variable commodity. If you’re fussy about your brew, look for where aircrew are queuing. Many airports offer bag wrap services if you’re concerned about security along the way. Take a photo of your checked bag – if it doesn’t show up on the carousel at the other end it might help with identification. SECURITY CHECK

Have a small bag where you can stash keys, spare change, smartphone and anything else in your pockets and put them into your carry-on bag, which means they won’t get separated when they go through the scanner. Boarding pass and passport should also be in your carry-on. Jackets, scarves and jumpers off and into a tray, same for laptops, tablets and e-readers. All liquids, aerosols and gels should be in a zip-lock bag and presented for inspection, and no individual container over 100 millilitres. FLIGHT

A window seat gives you something to lean against that is not your neighbour’s shoulder, but it makes it harder to get up and move around, and thus carries an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis. An exit row seat is ideal – ask at the check-in desk. Less of everything inflight – alcohol, coffee and food – will give your body a better chance of coping with jetlag. For flights to Europe, a stopover and a night or two en route will probably help you adjust more quickly at your final destination. INFLIGHT ESSENTIALS

Any flight over eight hours requires a personal kit if you’re seated in economy. Neck pillow, ear plugs and eye mask are your best friends for overnight flights and noise cancelling headphones are brilliant; make sure you have a two-prong adaptor for the inflight entertainment system. You might need something warm so a light jumper or wrap are perfect. Cheap, throwaway towelling slippers – try eBay – are the inflight footwear of choice. THE TRIPAIRPORT ARRIVAL

Get in the right immigration queue for your passport type and if the airport has scanners for e-passports, use one. If your checked bag doesn’t arrive you are entitled to ask for immediate cash compensation to pay for toiletries etc. Ask in the baggage hall when you report it missing. Most airport terminals have ATMs, exchange facilities, car hire and tourist information offices. AIRPORT TRANSFER

The Guide to Sleeping in Airports (sleepinginairports.net) canvasses the various transport options to get you from your arrival airport to your destination, and much else besides. ACCOMMODATION

When you check into your hotel you might be asked for a credit card to cover pre- authorisation charges. A daily charge, as much as $100, will then be deducted from your credit card to cover the cost of any incidentals you might consume. It’s important that you use a credit card rather than a debit card or your available balance will be affected, and any credit owing to you might not be returned to your account for a week or more. If you have doubts about the security of your hotel room hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you vacate the room. If you’ve booked an Airbnb and your accommodation is not what you expected, contact your host immediately. If it’s not fixed within 24 hours notify Airbnb. JETLAG RECOVERY

Try and adjust your wake-sleep hours to wherever you happen to be. Taking a walk in bright morning sunshine will help reset your circadian rhythm. Get plenty of exercise during the day and you’ll stand a better chance of sleeping well. If it’s a long-haul trip, don’t be too ambitious with your sightseeing schedule, and don’t book theatre seats or other late-night events for the first couple of nights. SOCIAL MEDIA

When you document your travels with social media posts to friends you’re telling them you’re away. That might not be the smartest move, particularly if you don’t know everyone you’ve friended over the years. Maybe restrict who can read your posts to your nearest and dearest. SECURITY

Don’t carry all your credit and debit cards with you when you’re out and about for the day. One or two should do fine, and if there are two of you, divide them up. Same goes for cash. The rest should stay in your hotel room, either in a safe or inside a locked bag. Pacsafe make a range of Travelsafes (pacsafe南京夜网). If anything is stolen and you intend to make a claim against your travel insurance you’ll need a police report. FLIGHTS

If a flight delay or cancellation is the airline’s fault, due to mechanical problems or late arriving aircraft, the airline should offer compensation, and a hotel room if an overnight stay becomes necessary. If it’s due to circumstances beyond the airline’s control such as weather events or volcanic eruptions, your travel insurance policy is your best chance of recouping any extra expenses you might incur. If you are offloaded from a flight due to overbooking, whether or not you are entitled to compensation depends on where it occurs. The EU and the US provide statutory compensation, the rest of the world does not. THE RETURNADJUSTMENT

The post-holiday glow can morph into “post-travel depression”, a well-recognised condition. Acknowledge that the trough that comes after a happy experience is normal and relive the happy memories in a creative way. Create a photo book and have it printed, blog about your travels, maybe get in touch with some of the people you shared the good times with. Travel is a great way to discover a new passion, which might be Thai food or an adventure sport, and there are probably opportunities for indulging that passion close to home. JETLAG

Flying east is generally acknowledged to be tougher than flying west, even when crossing the same number of time zones, which means worse jetlag coming from Europe, slightly less from the Americas. However the rules are the same whichever direction you’re travelling. Eat sensibly, get plenty of exercise, try and adapt your waking and sleeping hours to wherever you are and expose yourself to strong daylight early in the morning. SPEND

Coming back to a credit card meltdown is never a great feeling but if it happens, a self-criticism session is called for. Was it unexpected expenses you didn’t budget for or was your travel budget totally out of whack? Did you even have a budget? All good lessons for the future. If the damage is serious, consider a package holiday next time, and perhaps one that includes at least some meals, which means you’ve covered your basic costs. Take just a debit card and leave the credit card at home, or sign up for a prepaid travel money card. NEXT TRIP

Travel is a powerful addiction and you might want to start planning your next adventure. While this one is still fresh in your memory, think about what was great or not so great and how to make it better next time. Start with a packing list; there are always things you forget. If you found a hotel, a restaurant or an experience you’d like to tell the world about, whether off-the-scale outstanding or truly awful, share it with [email protected]南京夜网419论坛 – you might even win a prize. While you’re there, scout around the site for inspiration for your next trip. THE 10 THINGS EVERY TRAVELLER SHOULD KNOW

1. It’s a crime to wilfully damage an Australian passport but even accidental damage can ruin your travel plans. Travellers with damaged passports are delayed or turned away at airports every day, and their passports may be confiscated.

2. The most common cause of damage is from liquids. Remember to take your passport out of your pocket before washing your clothes or diving into the surf. If your passport does come into contact with moisture, drying it in a microwave will only add to the damage.

3. Take particular care of the photo page, as even minor damage can prevent machines from reading it. Placing a freshly printed or stamped boarding pass inside the photo page can leave marks that will make it impossible to read in a scanner.

4. Using the photo page as a surface for filling out arrival documents can leave marks and indentations on the photo page.

5. Avoid putting your passport in your back pocket. This can bend and damage the passport chip, making it impossible to scan at SmartGate or other biometric kiosks.

6. If any pages become detached, it is not acceptable to sticky-tape them back in.

7. If your passport is damaged and has more than two years validity remaining, you can apply for a replacement passport that covers the remaining validity period. You will need to provide the damaged passport even if it is in several pieces and make a legal declaration about how the damage occurred. If you need a new passport overseas, contact your nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission.

8. If you hold dual nationality you should use your Australian passport when entering and leaving Australia.

9. If your passport is full but still valid you need to apply for another one.

10. If your passport is lost or stolen more than once in five years and the Australian Passport Office determines this was due to your carelessness, your next passport might be valid for a reduced period.

SOURCE Australian Passport Office. See passports.gov419论坛THE 10 MOST COMMON REASONS FOR CONSULAR ASSISTANCE


3081, down from 3089 the previous year


2546, down from 5582 the previous year


1701 cases, up from 1667 the previous year


1653, up from 1516 the previous year


1641 cases, of which 1237 were criminal and 404 immigration-related. Up from 1551 the previous year


773, down from 1238 the previous year


370 cases, down from 391 the previous year


317, up from 315 the previous year


52, down from 76 the previous year


320, up from 315 the previous year

SOURCE Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The quoted figures are for Australian travellers for the period 2016-17 See smartraveller.gov419论坛

World’s 10 best New year’s party cities

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The first big city to welcome in the new year (sorry, Sydneysiders) is liveliest at Viaduct Basin down on the harbour, where bars provide fine views towards the Harbour Bridge as fireworks light up the sky. The partying gets unrestrained as the night progresses. Otherwise, head to Ponsonby and Parnell, or retreat to exclusive events on Waiheke Island a half-hour ride from the city, where you can enjoy a fantastic sunset and live music. See aucklandnz南京夜网2 SINGAPORE

Asia’s once most sedate city has become a lively place. New Year’s Eve is an energetic celebration featuring fireworks, laser shows, beach dances and music performances around Marina Bay, which even has a party on a floating stage that runs for eight hours. Suntec City and the Esplanade are the places to gather; Suntec’s Fountain of Wealth – one of the world’s largest fountains – erupts at midnight in a spectacular spray. See visitsingapore南京夜网3 BANGKOK

The Thai capital has countdowns and fireworks at venues such as the National Stadium and Central World Square, where you’ll find live performances by local artists, sound-and-light shows and outdoor beer gardens. Fireworks over Chao Praya River against a backdrop of palaces and temples are probably the best. Many five-star hotels lining the river host special outdoor events. The city’s nightclubs are pumping, with extended opening hours and specially invited DJs. See tourismthailand.org4 CAPE TOWN

Cape Town has a spectacular setting for new year celebrations, with fireworks over the V&A Waterfront as the black bulk of Table Mountain broods in the background. Street entertainers and top bands perform. Then head to the beach party at Camps Bay, the street party along Long Street, or one of dozens of nightclubs offering VIP parties. Save some energy for January 2, which launches the colourful Kaapse Klopse minstrels’ festival. See capetown.travel5 BERLIN

The German capital throws a huge festival stretching two kilometres from the Brandenburg Gate, attended by more than a million partygoers and featuring dance tents, food stalls and enormous video screens. Bands perform on stages, with acts tailored to different age groups and musical tastes. World-famous rock and pop acts often turn out for the occasion. Only the fireworks bring the partying to a temporary standstill as revellers crane their necks skywards at midnight. See visitberlin.de6 PARIS

The Champs-Elysees and Place de la Concorde are the place to be for the countdown, where huge crowds jostle and there are kisses all round at midnight. A dinner cruise along the Seine is a more intimate, romantic option. The Eiffel Tower offers a light show though no fireworks. Famous cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge have special dinner shows, and the bars of newly trendy Pigalle district keep going until sunrise. See parisinfo南京夜网7 LONDON

In Trafalgar Square, revellers fling themselves into the fountains as Big Ben booms. Coloured lasers and fireworks centre on the London Eye, though skyscraper The Shard also has a light show. Thames party cruises are popular for firework watching. Then head on to nightclubs and other party venues – even the Natural History Museum hosts a party. Next day, a colourful New Year’s Parade features marching bands and clowns among its 10,000 performers. See visitlondon南京夜网8 MADRID

Restaurants offer set-price new year meals with live music and dancing. Then Madrid descends on Puerta del Sol for the midnight countdown. Bring grapes for the big moment; the Spanish eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes. Watch out for empty champagne bottles and firecrackers, which fly everywhere. Then head to the nightclubs and finally to a cafe for a restorative hot chocolate and churros – the traditional way to end the new year’s partying. See esmadrid南京夜网9 LAS VEGAS

Vegas has always been a party city and new year is no exception. Pace yourself: the casinos are packed, theatres and stages host A-list entertainers, and nightclubs throw extravagant events. The Strip, closed to traffic, sees an enormous fireworks display. With alcohol flowing freely, the scene can get quickly riotous. The other main congregation point is the Fremont Experience, with light and laser shows, entertainment from big bands and a less raucous atmosphere. See lvcva南京夜网10 RIO DE JANEIRO

Rio has one of the most unusual and exuberant new year’s celebrations as half the city picnics on its famous beaches. Many rush into the sea at midnight to fling offerings of flowers and gifts into the waves. If the offerings are carried out to sea, it’s considered a good omen for the year ahead. Thousands of candles flicker on the sands, and fireworks finish it all off, most spectacularly at Copacabana. See visitbrasil南京夜网

Inside the biggest train museum in Japan

When it was recently revealed that an official and abject apology had been issued for a train in Japan having departed a station 20 seconds early, the international reaction was one of understandable wonderment and incredulity. What would the reaction had been had the train been late?
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Japan’s rail system, as anyone who has experienced it would be aware, prides itself on obsessive levels of punctuality and courtesy unmatched anywhere in the world. When departing each carriage immaculately attired conductors unfailingly ritually bow as a sign of respect to passengers, admittedly some of whom are likely to have their heads buried in often lurid manga comics.

Train travel in Japan is as ingrained in the culture as much as sushi, sake and sumo. Few days in the life of a Japanese person do not feature a train, whether they be commuting for work, travelling for pleasure, or even standing or sitting in one spot since in crowded Japan a train and a train line is never far away.

Ensuring that the Japanese retain an unstinting confidence in its railways as a means of dependable conveyance and for providing a kind of societal adhesive can go some way to explaining why its operators are so fixated on its continuing near-impeccable record for safety, efficiency and punctuality.

Aside from actually travelling by train in Japan, whether that be aboard the renowned shinkansen, meaning trunk line or more commonly bullet train, or even just a standard local service, you need to journey to Kyoto for the next best way to understand the profound place that railways occupy within Japanese society and its complex, at times impenetrable, national psyche. There you’ll find what might well represent the world’s finest railway museum.

The Kyoto Railway Museum is located in Shimogyo-ku, one of the 11 wards of Japan’s former ancient capital. It was originally the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum, which opened in 1972. The institution, which is owned and operated by the West Japan Railway Company (JR-West), part of the massive Japan Railways group, was dramatically expanded last year, rendering it the biggest train museum in Japan, with its displays featuring shiny, mint-condition bullet trains.

Kyoto itself, like most big Japanese cities, has an abiding relationship with trains. The gargantuan Kyoto Station, which turned 20 earlier this year, is not just an important terminal for arriving and departing locals and visitors, it’s also a major and dominant landmark and architectural statement, a virtual small town with its own five-star hotel, a major upscale department store and a range of restaurants, cafes and shops.

Fitting, then, that Kyoto should host such a museum celebrating the role of the train in Japanese society. Frankly, most railway museums around the world are run by enthusiastic, if not obsessive, overall-clad and aged train-spotting volunteers with an unfailing focus on the steam age. But the Kyoto Railway Museum couldn’t be any more distinct with those bullet trains taking pride of place in the vast main exhibition hall. Then there’s memorabilia including an exhaustive display of what appears to be every book and film written and made about train travel in Japan.

Yet it’s the shinkansen, with its maximum operating speeds of 320 kilometres an hour, that rightly remains at the heart of the museum and its main attractions. It was this revolutionary train, after all, with its record-breaking speeds that in 1964, along with the Tokyo Olympics, led Japan’s global re-emergence following the horrors and ignominies of World War II.

It provided the country with an instant icon, especially when juxtaposed shooting past the monumental and sacred Mount Fuji. One of the original series shinkansen, among others, is on display at the museum and it still looks nearly as modern as the day it was commissioned.

Although the technology behind bullet trains has been copied around the world, most notably by the Chinese who now boast the world’s biggest network of high-speed trains and, at 370 million passengers a year the biggest patronage, the singular quality and enjoyment of everyday train travel in Japan remains unsurpassed.

Aside from the impressive new main three-storey building, the museum also features The Roundhouse, an imposing locomotive shed built around a vast turntable and which is designated by the Japanese Government as an Important Cultural Property. From near here visitors to the museum can also take short vintage steam train rides along a specially designated track that runs along a public park.

Nearby is a traditional Japanese-style two-storey station building that once formed the entrance to the more modest original museum and which today houses the institution’s well-patronised souvenir shop. It provides an attractive contrast to the contemporary design of the new main building from the open-air Sky Terrace, from which visitors can observe bullet trains, as well as other services, sweeping in and out of Kyoto. It’s a thrilling sight, even if you aren’t a train fancier, with barely a second passing before another train, well, passes.

Before lunch in the museum’s cafe (so efficient, large and hygienic, it reminds me of an Ikea cafeteria -and the rice is served in the shape of a locomotive), I’m invited to test my skills on one of the museum’s train simulators.

Such is the popularity of the shinkansen simulators that a daily lottery has to be held for the right to access to them. I end up on an ordinary local train simulator, having declined the offer to don a driver’s cap and coat from a wardrobe full of them.

Eventually, after a series of embarrassing platform over-shoots and some gratuitous use of the train whistle, I feel almost compelled to issue one of those Japanese-style public apologies. Instead I shrink away, headed for the cafeteria for a lunch of moulded loco rice and sausages. FIVE MORE WAYS TO ENJOY TRAIN TRAVEL IN JAPAN


Still one of the world’s best travel bargains, the Japan Rail Pass allows access to a huge range of train services, except for the most express shinkansen. The pass is best organised and bought in Australia and validated in Japan as close as possible to your first train departure to maximise its value.


In most countries, such as those in Europe, it’s advisable to exit major train stations as soon as possible, lest you be robbed or molested. But in Japan stations, including the main facility in Kyoto, as large and overwhelming as they can be, you’ll find plenty of mostly excellent and affordable places to eat and drink as you rub shoulders with local commuters.


Few if any Japanese trains have dining cars or even cafeterias, with the Japanese relying on delicious packaged bento box meals bought at stations, on platforms or from sweet-voiced female attendants who pass through the train with carefully stacked trolleys. Each bento tends to be reflective of its local region with the ingredients prepared fresh daily.


Japanese trains are not designed for luggage storage, with most locals travelling lightly with overnight bags for short trips. It can be a good idea, therefore, to not only avoid hefty pieces of luggage but also to try and be among the first to board your carriage to secure what little space is available (if the luggage rack is full try the space under the last seats at the rear of the carriage).


A good many visitors to Japan travel on the route between Kyoto and Tokyo, and vice versa. On clear days it is possible to view sacred Mount Fuji in all its snow-capped conical glory as you pass, even on a high-speed bullet train, so be sure not to nod off at the crucial point. TRIP NOTES


The Kyoto Railway Museum is open 10am to 5.30pm. It is closed on Wednesdays and part of Tuesdays, except for public holidays, and between December 30 and January 1. Admission is JPY1200 for adults and JPY500 for children, depending on their age group. See kyotorailwaymuseum.jp.en


ANA (All Nippon Airways) operates daily flights from Sydney to Tokyo’s popular Haneda Airport with regular domestic connections to Kansai Airport, which services Kyoto and Osaka. See ana.co.jp


With its knowledgeable and experienced English-speaking guides based in Japan, Experience Japan Travel can tailor a wide variety of holidays throughout Japan to suit all travel styles and specific interests, including in-depth visits to Kyoto. See experiencejapantravel南京夜网


The boutique-like 134-room Ritz Carlton Kyoto is located besides the Kamo-gawa River and close to major attractions such as Pontocho, a historic laneway frequented by geisha. Elsewhere, Iori Machiya Stay offers self-contained, luxuriously appointed traditional townhouses throughout central Kyoto. If you fancy staying inside Kyoto Station itself, consider the 536-room Hotel Granvia Kyoto. Platforms for arriving and departing trains are a short stroll from the hotel’s lobby. See ritzcarlton南京夜网/Kyoto; kyoto- machiya南京夜网; granviakyoto南京夜网




Anthony Dennis visited Kyoto as a guest of Visit Kyoto, ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Experience Japan Travel.

Bennelong battle: why the PM turned up the wick on jobs

Malcolm Turnbull has cited jobs growth and an unemployment rate of just 5.4 per cent as vindication for his widely pilloried 2016 election slogan “jobs and growth”, while warning of disaster if Bennelong voters take Bill Shorten any closer to the prime ministership.
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His strident comments came as the byelection nears its last full campaign day with the outcome determining if the Coalition retains its one seat majority in the Parliament.

In a sign of the government’s nervousness, Mr Turnbull sharpened his attack on Labor’s Kristina Keneally, suggesting the star candidate’s election constituted “an enormous threat, a huge risk to jobs, to growth, to the security and prosperity that all Australians deserve, and that my government is delivering”.

That the Prime Minister has dialled up his rhetoric so obviously suggests the contest remains close, despite a Fairfax-ReachTEL poll showing the Liberals’ John Alexander was comfortably in front.

It is also telling that Mr Turnbull broke with the usual practice of leaving comment on labour market trends to his Employment Minister or Treasurer.

Two days out from that poll, these numbers were too good for any government to let slide, let alone a PM facing a potentially existential byelection. His intervention was thus a calculated attempt to get jobs on the front pages.

Which is why Mr Turnbull claimed the longest labour market expansion since 1994 to be a “direct result” of the Coalition’s stewardship.

“Sixty one thousand, six hundred jobs have been created in the last month alone, thats 2000 a day [and] 918,700 jobs, close to a million, have been created since the Coalition government was elected in 2013,” he said.

“You’ll all remember, we campaigned on jobs and growth, well it was a slogan then, but it is an outcome now.

“Our policies are restoring confidence to business, and business is responding by investing, creating more jobs, and hiring more workers.”

Some 61,600 jobs were created in November, 41,900 of which were full time positions.

Australia’s jobless rate now sits within half a percentage point of what the Reserve Bank usually categorises as functionally full employment.

But even as employers are hiring, the tightening labour market is putting surprisingly little upward pressure on wages with growth in pay packets still sluggish or non-existent.

While the government is preparing to unveil more economic news on Monday in its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook – expected to contain new positives like improved revenue projections supporting the budget’s 2020-21 surplus target – Mr Turnbull’s high-octane hard-politics presentation of the jobs data suggest he needs the credit from voters somewhat sooner. Certainly in Bennelong anyway.

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

String of liquidations

SHATTERED: Families who planned to build in the Teralba Waters development, from left, Stephen King and Margaret Morgan-King, Grant and Kim Conroy and Melissa Weatherstone with her son, Tim, 11. Picture: Marina NeilTHE man behind the ill-fated Teralba Waters development, Colin Wallace, is facing further strife with two more of his companies placed in liquidation owing$2 million.
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Property purchasers and investors, many from Mr Wallace’s Christadelphian Church, put their faith and money into his projects and are now demanding answers about what went wrong.

The former bankrupt has three companies in liquidation with debts of more than $3 million and a further $1.3 million isowed by his property development company to the mortgagee ofTeralba Waters Estate. Six creditors, including Bunnings and Boral Construction Materials,have placedcaveats on Mr Wallace’s waterfront Kincumber home in an effort to get their money back.

The Newcastle Herald reported earlier this monththat Mr Wallace’s company W & R Design (Teralba) was behind the failed Teralba Waters Estate, on Cockle Creek, which has left buyers broken hearted and prayingfor the return of $700,000 paid in deposits. Up to 14families bought house and land packages, with most signing contracts that sawtheir depositsreleased to the vendor to be spent on civil works.

The subdivision stalled earlier this year. Mr Wallace and then business partner Jamin Ryan, a real estate agent and fellow church member, had a falling out. Now, almost 18 months after the buyers signed onto the project and most handed over their deposits, the site lookslike aghost town, covered by grass, with large dirt mounds from partially completed earthworks.

Mr Wallace and Mr Ryan, also a former bankrupt, disagree on the cause of the development’s demise and how their business relationship disintegrated at the start of the year.

Mr Wallace alleges the Teralba project couldn’t get further finance.

Mr Ryansaid his control of the development ceased in February when he was “removed” as a director ofW & R Design (Teralba) against his wishes, which “left me with nothing and prevented me from ensuring the fair and equitable treatment of purchasers, investors and suppliers”.

“I have no connection or legal association or involvement whatsoever in any way with any of Colin Wallace’s companies or business dealings,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Wallace is now the sole director of W & R Design (Teralba). Earlier this year, when the company defaulted on its $1 million loan from Adelaide-based Home Savers Group, trading as Finance Wise, itlost control of the development site. The 1.2-hectare (3-acre) blockin William Streethas now beenre-listed as a mortgagee in possessionsale.

PRESSURE: Investors and buyers are demanding answers from businessman Colin Wallace, of Kincumber, over a string of failed ventures.

Finance Wise, which Mr Wallace said was owed about$1.3 million, is run by another prominent member of the Christadelphian Church, James Barger-Bos, who is a part ofMr Wallace’sstep-daughter’s husband’s family.Mr Barger-Bos did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Families who invested in Teralba expressed outrage at a letter received last month fromMr Barger-Bos’lawyer informing them any surplus funds from the sale of thesitewould“be accounted to the vendor after all deductions are made”.

Kim Conroy, who put down almost $50,000, called for a guarantee that any excess funds be“distributed immediately” to the buyers.“We just want our money back, it’s our life savings,” she said. “We are a group of families who wanted a home and now the whole thing has just turned into a nightmare for us.”

Mr Wallace also has a building company, Castle Eco Build, that was placed in liquidation last month owing more than $1 million. Another two of his companies,W & R Design (Aberglasslyn) and W & R Design, were voluntarily wound-up and liquidators appointed.

According to documents filed with the Australian Security and Investment Commission (ASIC),W & R Design (Aberglasslyn)hasdebts of $430,000 and W & R Design owesmore than $1.6 million.

Mr Wallace, of Kincumber, is a prominent member ofthe Christadelphian Churchon the Central Coast and has worked in the building industry for 40 years.He spent 18years working in the Middle East as a project manager in commercial construction.

SALE: The Teralba Waters Estate site has been re-listed for sale by finance company Home Savers Group, trading as Finance Wise.

A semi- retired plumber who asked not to be named, also a member of the Christadelphian Church, invested $350,000 inW & R Design in February 2016. Heagreed to loan his “life savings” fora 20 per cent annual return.

“It was a developing company,” hesaid. “They had all these properties around the place and everything was going gangbusters. I got the 20 per cent in the first year and then things just dried up. The whole thing has been a disaster. I’ve had Colin sitting in my lounge room in tears promising me things would get sorted out and it just hasn’t happened.”

Mr Wallace said he had “no idea” his multiple business ventures were going to turn out so badly. “I’ve got myself into this and I’m trying to get myself out of it,” he said.“The one thing I know is Teralba isa good project and if I had the money to finish it, everyone would walk away happy.”

The 65-year-old said he put “everything on the line” to make his businesses work but things had“gone west”.

Mr Wallace took out a $950,000 mortgage on his Kincumber home in October 2016, and a further $460,000 mortgage at 24 per cent interest in June this year. He previously owned it outright.

Newcastle council asks for extra floor on new home base

The council will occupy about half of the new office building in Stewart Avenue.Newcastle councilhas asked the developerto add an extra floor to its new West End home for a roof-top terrace and more office space.
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The council announced last week thatmore than 400 staffwould move from the civic precinct to theGateway office building under construction in Stewart Avenue.

Chief executive officer Jeremy Bath told the Newcastle Herald that he had asked developer Spartohori Pty Ltd tosubmita development application for a new sixth level on the building.The DA, which was submitted this month, estimates the cost of the extra floor at$3.7 million.

Thecouncil willrent the entire southern tower of the new building plus the second floor of the northern tower for its infrastructure division.

“I’ve signed a lease for the building in its current state, but I requested the developer to lodge a DA for an additional floor,” Mr Bath said.

“The top floor of the southern tower, a sixth floor, would be an outdoor roof-top terrace, which would be for staff and community alike and would allow us to use the space both for collaboration during the day and for events at night time.

“And, if that was the case, we would sub-lease one of the floors we are taking, and we already have a number of interested parties who are willing to take that sub-lease, but, of course, that’s all subject to a DA being approved.”

Newcastle council asks for extra floor on new home base The new council office.

TweetFacebook Stage two of the Gateway office development.The building would include space for a council chamber if councillors decided, aftercommunity consultation, to stop meeting at City Hall.

“The outstanding question we had when we announced the relocation was the future use of the chamber and whether 1.5 kilometres is a distance that is realistically too far for people to travel between. Certainly, logistically, it would present some challenges,” Mr Bath said.

“Of course, there are ways of overcoming that for staff, the provision of e-bikes and the like, but, practically speaking, is it a distance that’s too far?

“I’ve got a view, but I don’t want to be seen to be influencing the community consultation that will take place, as well as the councillors.”

The council will discuss the fit-out of the new office with staff in February and engagea consultant to design it. Between 425 and 450 employees are expected to make the move in mid-2019.

Mr Bath said he had been “shocked” by the conditions staff were working in when he took up the job in May and had resolved quickly to find new accommodation.

The council first met in a former courthouse building, now the site of Newcastle Post Office, in 1859, moved to the Council Chambers in Watt Street in 1884 then to the present City Hall in 1929.

The three property tax traps the ATO is now cracking down on

Property investments are at the heart of a crackdown by the Australian Tax Office, which could see duped retirees risk half of their savings or pay hefty unpaid tax bills.
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The ATO’s new Super Smart Scheme program, which zeroes in on tax-dodging self-managed super funds (SMSFs), is yet to penalise trustees but warns of illegal scheme spruikers that target people on the verge of retirement hoping to boost their savings.

“If a taxpayer becomes involved in any illegal arrangement, even by accident, they may incur severe penalties, jeopardise their retirement savings and risk losing their rights as a trustee to manage their own fund,” deputy commissioner James O’Halloran said.

The ATO has identified three types of dodgy scheme, two involving property investment, which are being promoted via wealth seminars and other means to self-funded retirees, including small business owners, and those involved in property development with significant assets.

“The arrangements may be cleverly disguised to look legitimate, involve a lot of paper shuffling and framed as being designed to give a taxpayer a minimal or zero amount of tax or even a tax refund or concession,” Mr O’Halloran said. Three illegal schemes catching SMSF trustees

First, Mr O’Halloran warns any scheme where an SMSF is granted “legal life interest” over a commercial property so that rent is diverted to the SMSF and taxed at lower rates while an individual or related entity, which granted the interest, retains ownership of the property is illegal.

A second set of schemes include artificial arrangements involving SMSFs and related-party property development ventures where the scheme spruiker charges a commission.

And a third type is where individuals, including SMSF members deliberately exceed their non-concessional contributions cap to manipulate the taxable component and non-taxable component of their fund balance upon refund of the excess. How to steer clear

Self Managed Super Fund Association policy head Jordan George hoped any SMSF member in the cross hairs of these schemes should give it “the sniff test” or seek the opinion of a trusted financial adviser.

“If it sounds too good to be true it probably is for schemes targeting super or your finances. Don’t rush into making a decision,” he said.

“The (legal) threshold is breached if you’re only doing this to minimise tax and it is not helping you build retirement savings.”

He said residential investment properties and commercial properties were popular with SMSFs and a legitimate way to minimise tax on rental income to 15 per cent in accumulation phase and tax-free in the pension phase.

Capital gains tax is just 10 per cent if the property is held for more than a year.

Mr George said the $700 billion SMSF sector was a lucrative pool for people looking to exploit and almost half of SMSF members are aged over 50, in the sweet spot for dodgy wealth promoters.

He hoped the ATO program would encourage do-it-yourself super funds to engage more with superannuation specialists for financial advice and to ensure their fund is compliant.

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

Pies legend to be AFL’s sole decision-maker

The Age, News, 14/12/2017 photo by Justin McManus. AFL match review panel. AFL GM Football Operations Steve Hocking and Michael Christian who will be the match review officer.The fate of AFL players will lie in the hands of one person in 2018, one of many changes that new footy boss Steve Hocking has introduced to the AFL’s judiciary system, stamping his authority on one of the most polarising issues in the game.
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Collingwood premiership player Michael Christian will be the only member of the revamped MRP.

In his role as the single decision-maker, Christian will liaise directly with Hocking, who will sign off on each incident.

Christian, the judiciary’s new sheriff, admits he considered the pressure that comes with working as a lone ranger before accepting the position.

“I haven’t got my badge on today,” he smirked. “But no, it’s going to be a very challenging role.”

Under the new system, clubs will incur a cost of $10,000 for an unsuccessful challenge at tribunal level, unlike the previous system, where players would risk missing an extra week.

If the system had been in place for last year, Geelong would have almost certainly challenged the one-match ban handed to superstar Patrick Dangerfield for his tackle on Carlton’s Matthew Kreuzer, which rendered him ineligible for the Brownlow Medal.

The $10,000 cost will come under the club’s soft cap but will be returned by the AFL if the tribunal appeal is successful.

In another major win for fans and players, incidents that occur during Thursday and Friday night matches will be reviewed quickly and a decision will be handed down within 24 hours.

Hocking has confirmed the AFL hopes to implement the 24-hour rule for all games in future. iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeTT’); iFrameResize({resizedCallback : function(messageData){}},’#pez_iframeTT’); As per previous years, a player’s conduct will still be categorised as intentional or careless, with both the impact and contact then to be taken into account.

While the table system of the match review panel is ultimately the same, the early-plea discount for number of weeks has been removed and fines for low-level offences have been doubled.

The base sanction for a first offence fine will be $3000; $5000 for a second offence; and $8000 for a third and subsequent offences.

A third offence will only be punished with a fine under the new system, meaning players won’t have to worry about missing a match after a third minor indiscretion.

A player’s “bad record” has also been removed, however, it may still be used at the discretion of the tribunal if Christian sends a incident directly to them.

Hocking, who admits the changes are bold, said there was never any consideration given to changing the system one step at a time.

“Nope. Rip the Band-Aid off,” he said with a smile.

“My time in the role, I think it’s really important to lead, so I think this is a statement of that. I’m OK with that.

“I know we won’t have total agreeance right throughout, but that’s my responsibility.”

Clarity and consistency for fans was one of the biggest factors in the AFL’s decision to alter the system, with the match review panel having been much maligned over the years.

The second major factor was players missing weeks for low-level offences.

“One of the big challenges for the fans is that there’s been uncertainty when instances have been referred,” Hocking said.

“And for the players, it’s giving them the ability to play all the time, particularly with the low-level offences. We actually don’t want players missing a game for really minor things.

“When one of their players is cited, can [clubs] start to read the outcomes of that? We want consistency.

“I think all of us would agree, you’re never going to get it to 100 per cent but we’re trying to shift it towards that with this model.”

It’s not the first time we’ve heard this line of thinking from AFL House.

When Mark Evans took over from Adrian Anderson as football operations boss, he dissolved the points system on the basis that too many players were missing games for minor incidents.

That system has now been revised again for the same reasons, which will be viewed as favourable for the players.

But Hocking was adamant that his department would not be soft on violent incidents, which he described as a “blight” on the game.

“We want the players to change their behaviour,” Hocking said.

“We need the players to get back to a greater understanding of sportsmanship.”

The four former match review panel members – Nathan Burke, Jimmy Bartel, Michael Jamison and Jason Johnson – will be given the opportunity to sit on the tribunal throughout season 2018.

For the first time, the league has been public about the relationship between the match review panel and the head of football.

Hocking has made it clear that Christian’s findings will be reported to him, and he, as head of football operations, will ratify the decisions.

While that may not have been public in the past, it’s well known that previous football bosses Simon Lethlean and Mark Evans would often sit it on MRP hearings and offer guidance and opinions.

“In the past, the MRP has sat outside the AFL, but now it’s been brought back in and it was certainly a critical element in me accepting the role,” Christian said.

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

Big plans in city of change

SUCCESS: The recent Supercars event held in Newcastle was a roaring success and has contributed to highlighting the city as a place to watch in coming years.With a range of successful projects and initiatives under our belts or in progress over the past year, Novocastrians can look back on 2017 with pride in our city and high expectations for the future. We are becoming known as a destination city and a host city for major events.
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At the end of November we hosted our first Newcastle 500, the culminating race in the Supercars 2017 season, drawing 192,000 people to the city centre to watch the event over three days. Capitalising on the city’s optimism following our Supercars success and the start of the summer event season, we have launched a Dream Big Newy campaign, taking a uniquely “Newy” spin on the classic London/Paris/Rome/Madrid/New York motif seenshirts across theglobe.

It’s designed to promote the fact that Newcastle is a city with a sense of fun, but that there is also a greatsense of pride among the people who live here. All of this is a catalyst for people to think about the bigger picture for Newcastle.

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of our city this year. Cranes, construction sites and new buildings are a testament to the record number of development applications that have been approved in 2017, on track for $1.5 billion. In 2016/17 we topped $1 billion for the first time ever in a 12 month period and Newcastle’s building boom shows no signs of slowing down.

In addition to this unprecedented growth, the light rail systemis set to catalyse urban renewal the city centre and the soon-to-be-built cruise ship terminal will usherin growing waves of international tourists eager to see all we have to offer.

We have developed a grand plan to make Wickham a residential, commercial and transport hub, delivering neighbourhood improvements and suburb-specific masterand public domain plans at Stockton, Beresfield, Wallsend and Merewether.

That’s not to mention our Smart City Strategy, which will carry us into a new era of connected technologyand digital interaction, with high-speed internet connections and smart infrastructure within our city’s future digital precinct as well as an innovation hub to promote research, entrepreneurship and economic development.

In this regard we are absolutely at the frontof Australian cities andtowns.The Newy campaign’s comparison to landmark international cities is less far-fetched than it was just a few years ago. In Newcastle, wedareto dream big andundertake projects to make our city a better place for everyone.