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Hook, line and stubby

Thirsty work: John-Paul Kelly has developed the Piscatore fishing rod, which allows users to safely store their beer while dropping a line. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.
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You have launched a crowd-funding campaign via Kickstarter to raise $55,000 to fund the development of the Piscator fishing rod. How did it come about?

The idea came to me several years ago when I was beach fishing at Catherine Hill Bay. I was enjoying a beer when my rod hooked up. In the process of putting my beer on the sand and winding in the fish a wave came up and washed my beer over.

John-Paul Kelly

At that point I was resolved in finding a solution to avoid having to suffer that kind of tragedy again – especially because all I caught was a salmon.

What made you think your idea might fly?

I first made a crude version of the Piscator and every time I took it out fishing I’d get positive comments from passers-by and my mates.

After some desk top research I couldn’t find any professionally made products meeting this need. I figured this could be a nice little niche for a summer season or two.

Is the idea unique?

The design is unique in many ways. The Piscatore’s base, orspike, is in the shape of a star picket providing greater in-ground strength with a foot step to assist with driving into both sand and soil surfaces.

The beer holder fits a standard sized beer with a stubby cooler. It also has an imprinted ruler to measure your catch and finally it comes with a water resistant torch for fishing at night.

There is no other rod holder like it on the market.

After your initial idea, how long did it take to get it to launch on Kickstarter?

In total it has taken around 18 months.

My first step was to find an industrial designer who was willing to join me on the journey of a small start-up business. I was fortunate to come across David Powers from Greeneye Industrial Design who was a perfect fit. We worked through several design and testing stages, produced two prototypes and procured a high quality yet cost effective manufacturer.

Completing the business plan was the final step before testing the market.

You’ve raised just over $1000 and you’re chasing $55,000. Are you hopeful of getting it across the line (no pun intended) by your March 23 deadline?

The Crowd funding campaign has proven to be a challenge, mostly because the concept of ‘pre-purchasing’ products via crowd funding is still a relatively unfamiliar concept in Australia.

Otherwise the interest in the product via social media has been extremely positive not just in Australia but also the USA, Canada and NZ. As promotion ramps up I’m hopeful of landing the funds (no pun intended either).

What is your pitch to backers and are they “locked in” financially?

If fishing and having a beer goes hand in hand for you then you can’t go past the Piscator.

The design focus on quality and functionality makes it perfect for both the avid and recreational fisherperson.

A lot of people don’t realise that if you elect to pre-purchase the product via a crowd funding ‘pledge’ that you don’t get charged unless the target funding goal is reached – ensuring you get what you paid for.

Where do you see your biggest potential markets?

In 2007 over 5 million Aussies participated in recreational fishing. In 2012 the USA had over 30 million over the age of 21 participate in the sport. I’m targeting both countries but have a particularly strong desire to achieve success in Australia.

When not brainstorming and developing start-up concepts, you work at NIB. What’s your role?

I’m the Head of International Visitors at nib.

In this role, I run two business segments focused on providing visa compliant insurance to International Workers and International Students entering Australia.

It’s a position that has given me significant experience in managing businesses and participation in new and innovative business ideas

Who has influenced your entrepreneurial pursuits?

My Dad has definitely been a strong influence as a successful entrepreneur in the mining industry, andI’ve been fortunate to work and study with some very creative entrepreneurs in recent years.

My wife Sarah also encouragedme to just ‘have a crack’.

Have you got any other ideas on the boil?

I have several, with some related to the fishing and tackle industry and others in entirely different markets. These are much more complex ideas than the Piscator but the learnings on this one will be invaluable.

Piscatore is Latin for fisherman and the first syllable of Piscatore is a slight variation of a word that’s slang for beer. Was it hard to find a name?

Surprisingly, Dad had some of the best product name ideas.

I liked ‘The P#ss & Fish’ but I thought that might cause some marketing challenges.

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Singer songwriter Jon English dies days before Newcastle showupdated

Jon English performing at Wests Leagues Club in 2007. Picture: Brock PerksUPDATE,6PM: JON English has beenremembered across the world as a multi-talentedsinger-songwriter,actor andstar of bothrock musicals and theatre.
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But the many Hunter friends he made on regular trips to the region arealso cherishing the off-stage memories they madewith their mate,whothey describe aswarm, humble, generous andlarger than life.

“He was mymentor,friend,bandmate,inspiration and a really easy guy to get along with,” said Newcastle-based musician Amy Vee.

“He had so many great stories to tell because he lived such a rich and wonderful life.”

The British born Logie winner, 66,passed awaypeacefully on Wednesday night after suffering post operative complications.

English was in the middle of an Australian tour andwas scheduled to appear at the Beaumont Street Carnivale on Sunday, but announcedon Monday he had to cancel the show “on the advice of his doctors”.

Festival organisers will commemorate English’s contribution to the country by holding aminute’s silence on Sunday.

He had also been planning to spend Saturdaywatching Amy Vee perform in the closing night ofEvitaat the Civic Theatre.The pair met when English saw Vee performinRentat The Playhouse.

Vee said theyhad been in close contact over the past week and she had brought him flowersin hospital.

“I commented when I saw him that he looked well, all things considered,” said Vee, who described herself as“utterly broken” by English’s death.

“We sat and chatted and he was in great spirits.

“He was scheduled to have surgery but it should have been pretty routine, so this is a shock to us all.”

English cast Vee as thelead in his 2009productionBuskers and Angels.She has toured with him consistently since 2011.

“I’ve got so much to thank him for and owe him so much,” she said.

“He took me under his wing and I learned so much from him, it was a great opportunity to hone my craft.

“He’sa national treasure and made such a lasting impact on all the people who met him.”

Lizotte’s proprietor Brian Lizotte wasworking in catering onJesus Christ Superstarwhen he met English.

Over the past 12 years, English became a regular fixture on the Lizotte’scalendar and performed at the venues abouttwice a year.

“He became part of our family,” Lizotte said.

“He loaded in his own gear and wasthe first one to get there and the last one to leave after meeting fans and having a few drinks with staff.”

English was one of the last musicians to perform at the now-closed Kincumber venue and spent an afternoon commiserating on the deck.

Rock City Event Marketing director Peter Anderson said his company had worked with English since about 1980 and scheduled performances every 18 months to two years.

“Jon was a regular visitor to the Hunter and his death is a loss for the region,” Mr Anderson said.

“Most people over 35 would have seen a Jon English performance.”

Mr Anderson said English played at venues including theformerNewcastle Workers Club, WestsLeagues Club, in Muswellbrook, Cessnock and the Central Coast and in musicals at the Civic Theatre.

English often stayed at the Boulevard On Beaumont.

“He had a very strong following here,” Ms Anderson said.“He had aunique voice, he does not sound like anyone else, he sounds like Jon English.

“He had a number of strong hits over the years that he mixed with more recent material and had quality musicians around him.

“He was just larger than life and absolutely able to engage with an audience and share his enthusiasm.”

EARLIER, 9AM: SINGER songwriter Jon English has died, days before he was scheduled to appear at theBeaumont Street Carnivale in Newcastle.

English passed away peacefully on Wednesday nightafter suffering post-operative complications.

The British-born Logie winner, 66,was surrounded by his four children and close family members.

A post on English’s Facebook page onThursday morning read: “We are needless to say completely shocked and devastated by this enormous and unexpected loss. The music industry, and indeed the world, has lost an incredible talent and the biggest of big hearts.”

“We are inconsolable and will miss you immeasurably.”

English was in the middle of an Australian tour, but announced on Monday that he had cancelled his Sunday show in Newcastle“on the advice of his doctors”.

The singer had also been planning to spend Saturday night watching close friend Amy Vee perform in the final night ofEvitaat the Civic Theatre.

The pair met in 2009 when English saw Vee performin Rent at The Playhouse.

Vee has toured consistently over the past few years with English, who she described as a “mentor, friend, bandmate, inspirationand a really easy guy to get along with”.

She said theyhad been in close contact over the past week and she had visited him in hospital.

“I commented when I saw him that he looked well, all things considered,” Veesaid.

“He was scheduled to have surgery but it should have been pretty routine, so this is a shock to us all.

“He was a national treasure and made such a lasting impact on all the people who met him.”

Beaumont Street Carnivale organisers described English as a “seasoned entertainer and no stranger to Hamilton festival stages”, but said the show wouldgo on.

“The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Beaumont St Carnivale event team are saddened by this enormous loss of talent and will fondly remember Jon on Sunday, commemorating his contribution to Australian culture with a minute’s silence,” organisers said in a statement.

“Jon wasone of the few Australian performers to combine a successful career in music, television and stage.”

Lizotte’s proprietor Brian Lizottesaid he first met English when working in catering for Jesus Christ Superstar.

He said English would later perform at thethree Lizotte’svenues about twice a year.

“He became part of our family,” Lizotte said.

“We’d try to help him load in but he always said ‘No, I’m fine’.

“He was the first one to get there and the last one to leave after meeting fans and having a few drinks with staff.He was a hard, hard working man and his love of entertaining really shone through.”

Lizotte said there was always an upcoming Jon English show on his venue’s bill.

“The fans would come back time and time and time again, we had five year olds and 95 year olds in the crowd,” he said.“Every show was different.

“He will be missed for so many reasons –I’m very sad not to have that man grace our stages again.”

Rock City Event Marketing director Peter Anderson said his company had been working with Mr Englishlonger than any other artist on itsbooks.

“Jon was a regular visitor to the Hunter and his death is a loss for the region,” Mr Anderson said.

“Most people over the age of 35 would have seen a Jon English performance, either a theatrical showor a concert.

“He was just larger than life and absolutely able to engage with an audience and share his enthusiasm.”

English migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of 12 and rose to fame in the early 70s after starring in Harry M Miller’sfirst production ofJesus Christ Superstar.

He released dozens of chart-toppingsingles in the 70s and 80s including Words Are Not Enough,Handbags and Gladrags, Turn the Pageand Hollywood Seven.

His 1979 song Six Ribbonstopped the charts inEuropeand he received several Logie Awards for his acting in seriesAgainst the Wind.

He also played the lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1990s Australian sitcomAll Together Nowopposite Rebecca Gibney andTodayweather presenter Steven Jacobs.

Jacobs paid tribute to English on Twitter on Thursday morning, hailinghim as a “truerock legend” and “gentleman”. Gibney saidhis passing was “so incredibly sad”.

“All Together Nowwas one of the joys of my career. My love to his family,” she wrote.

RIP Jon English. A great actor and true rock legend. An all round performer and gentleman. You will be missed mate.

— Stevie Jacobs (@sjweather9) March 9, 2016Just heard the news about Jon English. So incredibly sad. All Together Now was one of the joys of my career. My love to his family.

— Rebecca Gibney (@rebeccagibney_) March 9, 2016

Details about a public memorial in English’s honour will be revealed shortly.

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ANU seeks private investment in student accommodation

The ANU is calling for expressions of interest from investors in several student residences, including Ursula Hall. Photo: Karleen Minney Students Davidson Ng and Sarah-Jane Collum were some of the first students to stay in the Laurus wing of Ursula Hall. Photo: Karleen Minney
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People will be able to invest in Graduate House, at the Australian National University. Photo: Belinda Pratten

The Australian National University is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to overhaul its student accommodation.

The ANU will on Thursday morning call for expressions of interest from investors in nine ANU residences: the new SA5 building currently under construction, Burton & Garran Hall, Graduate House, Toad Hall, Ursula Hall, Davey Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Kinloch Lodge and Warrumbul Lodge.

In return for their capital, investors would receive a 30-year financial concession, or lease arrangement, over the student accommodation.

They would also receive a guaranteed return on investments based on student numbers.

But the deal will include an agreement to build an estimated additional 1500 rooms to cater for unmet demand.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the decision to open the market to private investment would enable the ANU to invest its own money in other academic and research priorities.

The move followed extensive consultations and a survey of 4800 residential students in 2015. It found a pressing need to upgrade existing facilities and build more student accommodation.

Student accommodation is seen as an increasingly lucrative investment opportunity, particularly in the United Kingdom and United States.

The ANU and the University of Canberra have already outsourced some of their student accommodation costs to private developers through the UniLodge model – with the ANU call for private investment not having any impact on the existing UniLodge.

But Professor Schmidt stressed the deal would not lead to the full privatisation of accommodation as the ANU would continue to maintain control of management and rental rates.

“Improving and providing more student accommodation on campus is one of the university’s highest priorities,” Professor Schmidt said.

“Students have told us what is important to them, and we are exploring outside interest with these concerns front of mind.

“We cannot meet demand for accommodation on campus at the moment, and we estimate more than 1500 students who wanted to live on campus in 2016 were not able to be accommodated.”

About 5000 students currently live in student accommodation – 3760 of them in the nine residences slated for the investment deal.

Bruce Hall and Fenner Hall have been excluded from the current discussions with investors as the university is simultaneously designing a major redevelopment of Bruce Hall, intended to open in 2018.

Fenner Hall, which is off the main campus, will be relocated to the new SA5 accommodation development, intended to open at the beginning of 2018. The ANU has not yet determined what it will do with the existing Fenner Hall site on Northbourne Avenue.

Professor Schmidt said the university would remain responsible for student admissions to residences, and for all matters related to pastoral care, student safety and security.

The ANU would also include conditions that room rental increases were limited to the consumer price index and maintained at or below 75 per cent of market rates.

It would continue to be responsible for IT access and infrastructure, and prescribe strict maintenance standards.

“Feedback we have from students and residential alumni tell us that pastoral care, the unique culture of each residence, safety and security, cost and standard of accommodation are all critical and need to be guaranteed,” Professor Schmidt said.

ANU has appointed Flagstaff Partners as advisers for the process. Investment proposals will close on May 27.

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

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Barnett milking success for mates

SPREADING THE LOVE: Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett are using their success to help promote fellow Milk! Records label mates. Picture: Hilary WalkerJEN Cloher is under no illusions. She knows the vast majority of punters on Sunday night at the University of Newcastle’s Bar on the Hill will be there for her partner Courtney Barnett.
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Barnett is the Australian alternative music scene’s “IT”girl right now. Her debut albumSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit -withitsobservational lyrics,deadpan vocal delivery and 1990s-inspiredguitar -has attracted an audience around the globe.

The 28-year-old from Melbourne has earned Grammy and Brit Award nominations and on Wednesday she became just the second woman to win the prestigious AustralianMusic Prize in its 11-year history.

Rather than enjoy her success in isolation, Barnett has opted to share the ride with her musical compadres from her boutique label, Milk! Records.Last month they released a compilation record Good For You,which featured new tracks from Barnett andCloher andlesser known actsFraser A. Gorman, Ouch My Face, East Brunswick All Girls ChoirandThe Finks.

Courtney Barnett – “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party.”Last week they kicked off their tour in Adelaide, beforetheparty of 24 begantravelling around the east coast “old school style” in a bus. Cloher said the shows are a combination of separate sets and collaborations and were about giving emerging artists an avenue to have their music heard.

“It really comes from a place of being fans of the bands we have on the label,” Cloher said.“Every fanwants people to know more about the bands they love, so Milk! Records is our way to show people new music that may not be as accessible and maybe doesn’t get as much air time on radio. When you get to see them up there doing what they do, it’s pretty exciting.”

Barnett started Milk! Records in 2012 when she released her first EP,I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.Cloher followed with her third album In Blood Memory.

“It just grew from there,” Cloher said.“With Courtney’s success, getting bigger by the year, I just saw that the label had an opportunity to grow with what she was doing and shine the light on the community of artists that she plays and hangs out with.”

ACCLAIMED: On Wednesday Courtney Barnett received the Australian Music Prize, which followed Grammy and Brit Award nominations.

Barnett and Cloher were hanging out with an entirely different crowd last month when they attended the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Barnett received a surprise nomination for best new artist, but lost to American pop starMeghan Trainor, famous for her song All About That Bass.

“It’s a very different world, the world of the Grammy’s, perhaps to the one I’m used to,” Cloher said.“I don’t think many Australian musicians imagine finding themselves sitting in the first few rows from the front at the Grammy’s next to Patti Smith and Kendrick Lamar. I was actually like, ‘is this happening’.”

Cloher said they avoided going all “fan girl” by attempting to meet any major celebrities at the Grammy’s and enjoyed relaxed celebrations following the showin a bowling alley bar upstairs from Lamar’s after party.

The musical couple were also nonplussed aboutmissing out on the Grammy to the bubblegum pop ofTrainor.

“We were happy she was nominated,” Cloher said.“There was definitely no sadness on Courtney’s behalf or mine. It’s just great to be nominated and recognised. You just look at the long game and let’s hope she’s back there in 20 years time. I think that’s true success.That success that lasts from continuing to make music and put out great albums.”

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Japanese yield hunt adds to $A pressures

Low returns at home likely to push Japanese investors back into Australian assets Photo: Kiyoshi OtaNegative interest rates and stock weakness in Japan could revive demand from that country’s investors for Australian government bonds, which will put more upward pressure on the local dollar.
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Fixed-income experts say although a surge last month in Japanese buying of foreign, long-dated securities didn’t appear to extend to Australian government paper, higher relative yield in a world of negative rates remained attractive to Japanese institutional investors.

Broader demand for Australian bonds, credits and other assets is among the reasons for the Aussie’s relative strength at the moment.

Others include signs that economic growth is gaining momentum, and recent rises in the price of key commodities such as oil and iron ore.

The local unit climbed above US75¢ for the first time since last July overnight, peaking at US75.28¢, despite an 8 per cent correction in the iron ore price. The Aussie also moved sharply up against the New Zealand dollar on Thursday after the central bank there announced a surprise 25 basis point cut in interest rates, to 2.25 per cent.

The European Central Bank is also expected to further ease monetary policy when its board meets on Thursday (just after midnight Friday AEST), making Australian interest rates even more attractive to foreign investors.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance said this week life insurance companies bought a net ¥1 trillion ($13.5 billion) worth of foreign long-term securities in February, their biggest monthly acquisition since April 2008.

Analysts ascribed a lot of this to end-of-financial-year “window dressing” by the insurers, as they took profits to boost balance sheets before committing to new securities.

However, poor performance by the Japanese stock market and record low yields on long-dated government bonds is likely to push the country’s massive pool of savings, retirement funds and other institutional capital back into foreign bond and credit markets.

Japanese institutions owned a large slice of Australia’s government bond market until about the middle of last year, but sold down heavily as the Aussie dollar slid against the yen amid speculation about further cash rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Demand from Japan remains weak, but could spark up again at the beginning of the country’s financial year, on April 1, says Charlie Jamieson of government bond specialist Jamieson Coote Bonds.

This would add to the pressures – including a bounce in commodity prices – currently holding the Aussie around eight-month highs.

“There is now a structural buyer underneath the Australian dollar because the Japanese are coming to consume our yield, because it’s high-quality yield,” said Jamieson.

“This is unwelcome at a time when the Reserve Bank of Australia is saying we need the Aussie at US65¢ and technically we’re going very powerfully the other way.”

ANZ Bank’s senior rates strategist, Martin Whetton, agrees Japanese investors will again be forced abroad.

However, he said there were no signs yet they would go back into Australian government bonds; instead they were chasing returns through higher-yielding corporate credits.

“The risk-reward of the skinny [bond] yield versus potential foreign exchange downside is too low,” he said.

He said like any investor, Japanese institutions looked at the “trade-off between yield and liquidity”.

“Australian government bonds offer the highest liquidity in the Australian dollar market, given the size of the market and frequency of issuance,” he said.

“However, to move back to Australian government bonds, yields will need to be higher or credit spreads at a significantly tighter level where the yield/liquidity argument falls in favour of the government securities.”

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

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