Blog Archives

Retailers tipped to withhold at least part of NBN price cuts

Telecommunications companies are tipped to withhold at least part of the national broadband network’s price cuts, with retailers facing a potentially “problematic” situation if they pass along the full saving to consumers.
Nanjing Night Net

Internet providers received the formal NBN Co pricing paper on Thursday, as it enters its final five weeks of consultation about cheaper pricing options for 2018.

While this is widely expected to make accessing the NBN more affordable for customers, a research note from global investment bank UBS analyst Eric Choi, using estimates of Telstra’s costs, found a full drop in price might not be the best approach for the retailer.

Cost estimates provided by the NBN Co show retailers could save about $16 on a 50 Mbps plan and $7 on a 100 Mbps plan.

The cost of buying additional bandwidth, Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC), would be $7 less per megabit per second – a 43 per cent discount.

Despite the significant savings on offer, Mr Choi found the company would be hard pressed to pass along fully discounted prices for the 50 Mbps product as this would leave it very close in price to the 25 Mbps plan.

This was potentially “problematic” for lower-tier price plans, the research found.

UBS said retailers had several options for how to manage the discount when selling the new bundle: they could risk the public’s ire by keeping the price at current levels; drop the retail price; use the funds to increase the offered bandwidth; or a combination of the latter two.

But even if retailers kept the windfall but improved the user experience by doubling their spend on bandwidth, it could still appear to customers there had been no changes in price and “customers may have little visibility into the increase in CVC provisioned”, the analysis said.

Mr Choi expects a combination of lower price and more bandwidth will be compelling to Telstra, and probably most other retailers.

This scenario would involve a cut in retail pricing by a portion of the discount provided by NBN Co, in addition to investment from the retailer into more bandwidth.

This could save 50 Mbps users $8 to $10 on their plan, on UBS calculations, and it would allow better bandwidth for users.

Some retailers have voiced concern that already-thin profit margins would be eroded further if they passed on the full saving.

Telstra said it was “reviewing” the NBN plans and did not provide comment on its pricing. Other major retailers are also discussing how to position the new products to customers.

Amaysim commercial director of broadband Rob Appel also said the changes “don’t necessarily lower the price for consumers”.

“What they do is give retailers the opportunity to provide a better service by increasing bandwidth to each customer,” he said.

He wanted to see a pricing model without bandwidth charges.

Jennifer Duke

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

Delays spell reprieve for Stockton Centre

TEMPORARY REPRIEVE: Delays mean the Stockton Centre and two other Hunter disability centres will not close as scheduled on June 30 next year. The state says it will close its Ageing, Disability and Home Care agency by that date.THE Hunter’s three large residential disability centres –Stockton, Tomaree and Kanangra (Morisset) – will be staying open well beyond the state government’s deadline of June 30 next year.
Nanjing Night Net

In an announcement on Thursday afternoon, the Family and Community Services (FACS) agency said the complexity of the program, together with “unexpected challenges along the way”, meant it would not be able to move everyone from the three large centres into their intended group homes.

“Despite careful planning and progress to date, the [new] Hunter Residences will not be completed by 30 June 2018, . . . the date it was expected that all FACS operated disability services would transfer to non-government operators to support the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” the agency said.

It said 62 people from the Hunter centres had already moved into 11 new homes.

In February,Home4Life –a consortium of two not-for-profits, Newcastle’s Compass Housing and the Campbelltown-based BlueCHP –was selected to build the rest of the homes. The Newcastle Herald understands there are still about 320 people at Stockton, 60 at Kanangra and 35 at Tomaree, meaning that another 80 or so group homes will be needed.

FACS said it had bought land for most of the remaining houses. Home4Life wassubmitting designs for council approval and it was likely the first homes would be ready “towards the end of 2018 with the remaining homes to follow in stages”.

The agency gave no indication of how long it would take overall.

“We will develop plans for the transfer of staff and services to the new group homes as more is known,” the agency said. “These homes will transfer to the non-government sector, however the timing and scheduling of this transfer is not yet known.”

Despite the delay in the Hunter, the agency confirmed that the rest of the state government’s disability services would be transferred to the private sector by June 2018, withanother 1500 staff tobe transferred to Life Without Barriers, Achieve Australia and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Wendy Cuneo of the Stockton Hospital Welfare Association said the delay was good news for all of those who wanted the centres to remain open. She said that while the government was concentrating on its new group homes it was letting Stockton “run down badly”.

“They say they are keeping families and staff updated but that’s not been the case,” Mrs Cuneo said.

Public Service Association Hunter organiser Paul James also welcomed the delay and said the government should never have started its privatisation of disability services.

Newcastle state Labor MP Tim Crakanthorp said:“Given the tragic fatalities earlier this year, this Government needs to take a more measured approach. The safety of our most vulnerable must not be compromised. “

2017: A year on a plate

AUTHENTIC: Chris Schofield, head chef of Susuru Ramen and Gyoza. Picture: Marina Neil It has been a big year for food in Newcastle. Every second week a new cafe, restaurant or coffee spot popped up in the city or in the suburbs. Slowly but surely, the Hunter Region’s reputation for coal and steel is being replaced by quality food and trendy eateries.
Nanjing Night Net

TALENT: Nathan Martin and Nathan David Griffin. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

ON THE MOVE FRESH AND FUNKY: Bao Brothers Eatery. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

But first, pop-ups – 2017 was definitely the year for food on the move. Restaurants, cafes, wineries, breweries and even chefs became more mobile than ever.

Many bricks and mortar businesses purchased a “food truck” of sorts to taketheir product to the people at special events and markets. It’s not a new phenomenon, certainly, but it has definitely become more common.Newy Burger Co. has been doing the rounds with“Preecy”. MEET popped up on Darby Street, The Tea Project bought a Kombi van for its new “Collective” ventureand El Poco Loco is still going strong.

Sometimes it worked in reverse. Doughheads and Bao Brothers started off as pop-ups and then invested in the bricks and mortar.

It helps that the increased popularity –and availability – of international “street food” is tailor-made for the mobile market. We’ve seen Taiwanese, Japanese, American, Mexican, Vietnamese and evenFrench cuisine represented. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Online ordering systems like Uber Eats, Crave and EatNow were introduced and are redefining the conceptof takeaway and food delivery. Once again, the focus is very much on making life easier for the consumer. A phrase being used more and more is “delivered dining” and we can expect to see more players enter the game this year.

Two enterprising youngchefs took the pop-up idea another step further by branching out into unique pop-up culinary events. Josh Gregory, of EXP. restaurant, launched Hunter at Keith Tulloch Wines on August 14. Who knows where and when Hunter will pop up next however the inaugural dining event was a success. Unique, clever and thought-provoking.

Pastry chef Gareth Williams, of Restaurant Mason, challenged himself with pop-up bakery Covered In Crumbs. Every last crumb sold at the first event in November at Sherwood Coffee Bar.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOURSAnother inner-city trend was the addition of more and more international cuisines to our culinary smorgasboard. Winnies Jamaican (Jamie Thomas), SusuruRamen & Gyoza (Taiyo Namba with chef Chris Schofield), Cielo and Signora Italian (Andrew and Lisa Margan), Little Castro, Hawaiian poke bowls at Lulus, Austrian fare at Doppelganger Kitchen onDarby Street, Vietnamese sandwiches at Screamin’ Veemis (Andy Howard and Adam Lance) –the list goes on.

Acai and “Buddha” bowls continued our preoccupation with healthy wholefoods, and ingredients became easier to source as new wholefood stores opened around town.

Tapas remained popular –Tatlers in the Valley launched a new menu, and Battlesticks Bar and Blacksmiths’ Te Aroha Place opened, for example–and from thisthe concept of shared plates became commonplace. It didn’t matter if the menu was Spanish or not. Reserve, owned by Patrick Haddock,started offering shared plates, as didSignora at The Landing Bar & Kitchen.

The idea of sharing food and making it a communal, social event caught on.

Street Feast on Market St Lawn soon spread to beachfront sites; Street Eats kicked off in Maitland and Feast Fest gained a foothold. Once again food trucks played a major part. Many markets also adopted a strong food focus, like Five Senses Twilight Market, and Olive Tree Market continued to promote artisan food makers and products.

FORWARD THINKINGAnd then there wasHey Zeus, an entity of its own. No waitstaff, no visible cooks – you just order electronically, pay and pick up your meal. Owner Jacob Beye’s innovative Newcastle story was picked up as far away as London.

Foraging was a buzz word for a while, inspired by the Nordic practice and redefined by Cooper Thomas, also known as The Wilderness Chef; and Maitland’s own Josh Niland put his own stamp nose-to-tail seafood at Saint Peterin Paddington.

Frank Fawkner of EXP. restaurant launched Fawk Foods and started making and selling his very own“black garlic”, earning high praise from his peers.

Troy Rhoades-Brown of Muse Restaurant toldWeekender: “I think his style and offering is different for our region with some uncommon and individual flavour pairings that are strongly influenced by native Australian and locally grown ingredients. The restaurant’s food service is interactive with the chefs, which a lot of guest really seem to enjoy. It’s a young restaurant but it’s ongoing success will continue to see it grown and evolve.”

As for Muse, the two-hatted Pokolbin restaurant continues to raise the fine-dining bar –and move the goal posts. Rhoades-Brown and his team are always looking for new and unique ways to use Hunter produce and are, for example, teaming up with a farmer who breeds lamb in his olive grove.

“We are still at a trial stage but we break down the whole lamb, leaving it on the bone, hot smoke it for two hours with olive wood and pits then finish cooking submerged in extra virgin olive oil served with olives all from the same farm,” Rhoades-Brown says.

It’s all about, he says, “what makes us unique in terms of produce in the Hunter and Upper Hunter region –our diverse range of landscapes, soil and sub climates which allowsus to be successful in so many agricultures. Beef, dairy, poultry, lamb, vegetables, fruit, nuts, grapes”.

One of Muse Restaurant’s most recent additions to the menu – local red deer served raw in fine sheets of pickled turnip katsuobushi, black sesame, puffed buckwheat and radish –is a case in point. Talk about combining cooking methods, local ingredients and diverse textures, not to mention flavours –this is the very definition of fusion.

In addition to locally-sourced ingredients, sustainability influenced many a menu and a back-to-basics approach was generally favoured when it came to flavour. Native Australian ingredients continued to be in high demandand in-house fermenting and pickling proved popular. Slow Food Hunter Valley launched a world-first “earth market” and farmers from the Great Lakes region, just a couple of hours’ north, banded together to promote their unique coastal food bowl through the seasonal Great Lakes Food Trail.Port Macquarie’s Tastings on Hastings festival proved people will travel for a love of food.

Maitland Taste and Maitland Coffee and Chocolate Festival continued to be crowd-pleasers. It will interesting to see what Newcastle Food and Wine Festival, which was postponed from November2017 until April 2018, will bring to the table.

SUPERCARSMany traditional chefs and restaurateurs also proved they were willing to adapt. Take, for example, the way Rascal and Restaurant Mason teamed up during the Supercars event in Newcastle in November. It was heartening to see talented chefs manning an outdoor table and dealing directly with customers.

The same goes for Samuel Alexander of Reserve. He was spotted literally running after people with some kind of sausage sandwich in his hand.Bocados set up shop on thepavementwith churros and coffee; Momo introduced a special race-day menu and The Persian Place had easy-to-eat lunches ready to go.

Chefs spruiking their food to the masses –showing initiative, modifying their menus to suit their audience and taking their service to the streets – were the ones who prospered. Many of thesealso had the benefit of location, of course.

Oma’s Kitchen, who had closed for several months while roadworks were going on outside their Watt Street restaurant (and so that they could film season two ofTravel Guides) had a stall near pit lane.

Other venues chose to offer wine, dine and box seat package deals for their customers –think Rustica, Paymasters, Customs House, 48 Watt and Bocados.

It was a learning experience for all. As Randolph Movickof Paymasters told Weekender in August, it was always going to be a case of “suck it and see”.Some did it tough, especially those just outside of the race circuit. Year one was alwaysgoing to be a challenge. It will be interesting to see what happens at next year’s race event.

Uniformity will kill our universities

This is our penultimate column for the year.
Nanjing Night Net

“Oh, so we’ve got one more?” says Charlie.

Louise lifts an eyebrow “you do know what penultimate means?”

In preparation I was starting to put together a list of things to do in the holidays. There was a time when we would set aside two or three books, but Charlie is telling me that he is now storing a number of complete TV series on his Apple TV and Netflix wishlists instead.

I was persisting with an old fashioned bibliographical approach in the newsagent a few days ago when I saw a claim that the economy has revived.

I knew that our redoubtable forecaster Charlie would be rolling his eyes, so I tracked him down on Fitzroy Island off Cairns where he is trying to escape any possibility of a white Christmas.

“Rubbish” he said, adding that his analysis, is that the economy is barely ticking over.

According to Charlie, 55 per cent of GDP is taken up with household expenditure and it only grew by a minuscule 0.4 per cent in the year to the end of September. And the significant jobs growth early on, was in Victoria, which the last time I looked, created 60 per cent of the national tally.

Charlie’s mobile connection became increasingly dodgy as he went on debunking over exuberant economic spin, so I went back to assembling the summer reading list.

And I have one that will surprise you. Its “The Idea of A University” by Glyn Davis, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

Now I know you might have been expecting the new Peter Carey or a J K Rowling crime thriller, but this book by the young VC who still has much ahead of him, is gripping.

He points out that our university structure which started with Sydney University in 1850 and Melbourne University a few years later, is based on a resolutely British ideal modeled by Oxford and other UK universities. And it’s hardly changed in 150 years despite the broadening of the sector by Hawke Government Education Minister John Dawkins and increased public access since the Whitlam era.

I knew that the funding trend was moving towards user pays but I was staggered to learn that the government contribution has gone down from 100 per cent to 14 per cent.

Davis argues that our cloning approach to universities needs to be disrupted, just like so many other enterprise sectors, if our people are going to reach their potential and be able to compete in a roaring digital economy.

He makes the point that diversity is the key and that sameness is stagnation.

I agree, and I can see this extending throughout our economy.

Earlier this week I chaired a meeting which included observers of the world economy.

We heard that Australia is not moving at a rate equivalent to others in the world and that it is only a matter of time before we drop out of the G20.

The G20 of course has been the bragging territory for every Treasurer since Kevin Rudd pushed us into it some years ago.

And so, it is with universities. We have outstanding universities, some 40 of them, with 1.4 million students and 120,000 staff.

But according to Davis and his publisher Melbourne University Press there may only be 10 left worldwide by 2070 because “relentless inventive entrepreneurial agendas (available online) promise students a world of unbounded study options”.

Just look at the leaders of the digital economy like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who never attended University or dropped out before completing a single degree.

And I would add that it has always been thus. Many successful entrepreneurs that I know didn’t even get the chance to go to university. I’m one of them.

Glyn points out that our revolving door governments, not to mention prime ministerial leadership, means that no one can be sure about the long term.

But he offers a way out. A revived Australian Territory Education Commission is one mechanism that would enable sector-wide review, analysis and action on lessons learned. Basically, leave the politicians out.

I also sat in a meeting earlier this week that reviewed a trip to Israel earlier this year where we came face to face with a country of 8 million people that has more startups than all of Europe put together.

There is absolutely no doubt that our future prosperity is dependent on us ditching old models of sameness and having much greater confidence in diversity.

As the new year approaches, it’s worth thinking about some resolutions that we should keep and not continuing to fool ourselves that we’re doing ok, because we’re not, and we can do better.

If you’re prepared for a shake up, Glyn Davis’ book is a good place to start.

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

VCE results do not tell students, schools or universities what was really achieved

From 7am this morning, more than 51,000 students across Victoria will log on to receive their VCE results.
Nanjing Night Net

The sum total of 13 years of learning will be boiled down to the rough handful of study scores that inform their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank.

This is the ATAR. It assigns each student’s ranking, compared with all other VCE students in 2017, rendered as a percentile. In the gruelling marathon that is Year 12, the student with a 99.00 has achieved results that put them in the top one per cent. The student with an ATAR of 50.00 has not ‘barely passed’, but is simply further back in the pecking order.

A school’s median ATAR is closely studied by principals and parents; ATAR medians above 80 are cited as signs of academic excellence.

But the ATAR does not tell us that much about the skills a student has acquired and nowhere near enough about a school’s ability to teach.

A good study score in, say, Further Maths, does not prove the student understands the difference between nominal and effective interest rates, or how this knowledge could be used. It simply demonstrates that student A performed better than other students who sat the same test, even if all of them mastered the basic concept or none of them did.

This is one of the reasons why many universities use interviews and folios when considering applications – some tertiary courses bypass ATAR scores altogether, and have offered places directly to students who impress at interviews.

There is considerable hand-wringing over slipping standards at tertiary level. Indeed, the “clearly in” ATAR cut-offs published by universities now serve as a kind of stock market where the exchange rate is based on course demand – an increase in the ATAR cut-off indicates a surge in the stocks of nursing degrees, a low-ranking cut-off for IT courses suggests coding jobs have been shorted by students cautious about job prospects.

A business that merely ranked all its employees from 1-100 would not know what their employees could already do or needed to learn. And yet our entire tertiary admissions system is this opaque.

Education reformers have long been campaigning for clearer reporting of the student skills, from the ability to read a picture book in early primary to problem solving in middle years to sophisticated analysis in year 12. Some study designs for VCE subjects require students to demonstrate these higher order skills under exam conditions, but nobody will ever know for sure, because the exams themselves, and the real marks, are never seen – unless the student pays to get the exam back.

It is too glib to tell the class of 2017 that “the number does not matter” when this is all the current system provides them in exchange for their efforts. It could be argued that completing VCE equips students to knuckle down to complete hellish workloads under punishing deadlines under high stress – conditions they may face in many future workplaces.

But their hard work demands reforms that help students – and their future teachers and employers – measure the skills they’ve learned in practical and transparent ways. A note from the editor – Subscribers can get Age editor Alex Lavelle’s exclusive weekly newsletter delivered to their inbox by signing up here: 梧桐夜网theage南京夜网419论坛/editornote

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

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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 ( 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 ( 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

Nanjing Night Net

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?
Nanjing Night Net

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


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


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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.