Generation gap looms

SOround twois here and experts are already pronouncing who is and isn’t in the running forend-of-year honours. A tad premature, but some signs were very positive for a few teams.
Nanjing Night Net

Others faced the reality of first time at bat –a work in progress.

I thought the Bulldogs were the most impressive of last week’s winners, with the Cowboys,Broncos and the Bunnies assuming obvious favouritism out of the gates.

The Dogs demonstrated unequivocallyto those who still wonder whether the big men candominate in an increasingly endurance-based game. Agood, mobile big man will beat a good,mobile smaller bloke most days of the week. Monstering the Bozo-built Manly outfit leftrival packs sitting up to take notice.

As to our own work in progress, you’d have to say that no one disgraced themselves againstthe Titans. Ithought the young Knights, apart from too many badly timed foot-shootingepisodes, were threatening to get back in the game at different stages. Some good signs.

The debutants had a real good crack and will benefit from the experience. Tri-captain and elder statesmanJeremy Smith, Robbie Rochow andTyler Randell all played strongly.

I’m guessing the collective concern for Knights fans may be whether the Coast are much of a team anyway. Excluding former NovocastriansGreg Bird,Zeb Taia and Tyrone Roberts, they didn’t have a great deal going for them either. But, really,you can’t take too much from the first game. So we’ll move on.

Nowfor the Bunnies. Our young Knights will take some comfort from a few injuries to the2014 premiers and the potential bonus that Greg Inglis may not be risked in a game puntersmight expect them to dominate.

But with their halfback and maestro out with a broken jaw and his five-eighthpartner new to thesquad, there is a chance, with the right disruptive game plan, that their combination andkicking game might be vulnerable. My tip: apotential upset if our Knights win the enthusiasm, major on the basics andeach bring something a little special to the table on Saturday.

* THOSEwho follow junior rugby league might recall an announcement late last year bythe NSWRLciting the season’s participation figures, which implied the game’s governingbody is asleep at the wheel.

Stalwarts of the junior game will be unsurprisedthe numbers were down –way down –continuing a trend of the past decade at least.

As the kids prepare to kickoff a new season, it begs the question, what’s to be done? Ifanything? At the 10s and 11s level the studyshows significant loss of more than20 per cent. In theunder-13s and -14s, participation falls off a cliff and never recovers. Thankfully, courtesy of agreat new freeway, Newcastle teams can far more easily access the Hunter Valley, meaning the now-combined Hunter competition has been able to buck the trend –for now.

Clearly, the magnitude of churn is unsustainable. Of concern for the senior game is,eventually, I imagine, that the absent generations of players will impact its quality potential andvery survival.

And we are seeing evidence of that already.

Take the Newcastle Rugby League district competition. After contracting to an ungainly eightteams last year, there is strong mail others are struggling financially. Something tells me thiscompetition needs a proper re-think.

At the suburban level, second-division teams are struggling to put teams together also. Workcommitments and other distractions see district and suburbs engage in tug-of-wars overthedwindling pool of remaining players. This is made all the more difficult becausethe Real NRL insistupon an outdated three-open-age-teams criteria for inclusion. Something must give.

And it has. Last year’s second-division A-grade winners, Belmont Rabbits, are finished. Likewise,B-grade premiersLambtonaregone,and finally the C-grade premiers, Clarence River, won’tfield a team this year.Gone. With others rumoured to be unable to get enough playerstogether, there is real concern local communities will lose something they may never get back.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: If grassroots rugby league continues to whither, what will become of Generation Next?

For those interested in the situation, my point is this:at the non-NRL level, the game isapproaching atipping point, beyond which recovery will be difficult. At this point in time itmight have just enough scale, influence and community connection to retrieve the situation.

But only with the right plan, leadership and will to change for the better.

At the national level, the junior game must force a whole-of-game summit. Let’s geteverything on the table. Let’s hear from the volunteer brigade who effectively sustain thegame. Let’s look at the research. How can we get womenmore involved (and not just onthe canteen)? How can we improve safety,improve coaching, nutrition, health,andsupportgovernance and fund raising?

Let’s hear from the National Rugby League; the Australian Rugby League Commission; thestate leagues and the Country Rugby League. Can they help find asolution?

After the NRL cashed in recently witha $1 billion TV deal, I find ithard to swallow that the junior game has nothing but the sweat of the volunteerbrow to sustain it.

Again, the call from the junior system must be sustained and loud, for though their eyes maybe closed, they can’t so easily close their ears.

In closing, I thought it illustrative last week after commenting on the Mitchell Pearce case thatmost online responses centred on why I would support him, or whether the ultimate penaltywas fair or otherwise. Not one comment questioned the wisdom (or naiveté) of myassertions relating to the encouraged illegality or immorality of spy-caming private citizensfor reward. Not one.

What does that say about the modern “us”? Am I to accept that no one cares that theseintrusions are now OK? Views may be different if you had to walk a mile in a victim’s shoes.

If you have an opinion on this please comment. I’m really interested.

Read More

Business of putting Lake Mac on the map

CHANGE: “It’s a value proposition,” says Lake Macquarie Business Ltd’s inaugural president Ben Connell of its services. Picture: Marina Neil. BENJAMIN Connell, president of the newly minted Lake Macquarie Business Limited,jokes that hedoesn’t want you to know that he’s aCentral Coast resident.
Nanjing Night Net

The important thing, he says, isthat he’s got a business on the main street of Belmont –he’s a founding partner at Emerge Business Advisory and Chartered Accountants.

All of which means he knows well the challenges of running a business and the challenges of his clients’ businesses.

More importantly, in his new role, as he told a packed room at last Wednesday’s launch of Lake Macquarie Business Ltd, or LMB, he wants to put Lake Mac on the map.

“People think [Lake Macquarie] is all about services and tourism but in Toronto and Cardiff we have large industrial areas, and to be able to promote those to the greater area is important,” he said at the launch.

LMB’s journey started in 2013, when various local chambers of commerce from the Lake Macquarie area met and, says Mr Connell, “agreed what they were doing wasn’t working”.

Council funding to the chambers was reaching an end and despite all their efforts, less than 2.5 per cent of the 13,000businesses in Lake Macquarie were members of their local chamber.

“To develop a plan, we needed to go back to basics, genuinely look and understand our strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats and then start the process of building a new organisation that truly supported Lake Macquarie businesses,” he says.

Mr Connell says the group went back to the drawing board to develop a new business chamber that will be “innovative, relevant and different”.

Business chambers from Charlestown, Belmont and Swansea are the founding members of the new entity, which will also support other local chambers.

Mr Connell says LMB’s “sutainable”business model offersthree tiers of membership programs ranging from free services to larger offerings for bigger businesses.

The new entity is still finalising its advocacy efforts but it will focus on urban renewal, building business capabilities, tourism and identity.

Creating jobs is also seen as crucial: “Youth unemployment in some Lake Macquarie suburbs is as high as 25 per cent and businesses are telling us that the kids aren’t ready to be employed. We need to be doing something about this to get our kids ready,” says Mr Connell.

LMB’s strategic partners are Dantia, Lake Macquarie’s economic development company, the NSW and Hunter Business Chambers and the Lake Macquarie Business Growth Centre, and it also has local partners.

Read More

Federal election 2016: Tony Windsor confirms bid to unseat Barnaby Joyce in New England

Tony Windsor is aiming for a comeback less than three years after he retired. Photo: Wolter Peeters Tony Windsor announces he will contest the seat of New England. Photo: Andrew Meares
Nanjing Night Net

Joyce faces pincer movement threat

Tony Windsor will go head to head against Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce for the seat of New England.

Ending months of speculation about a political comeback, Mr Windsor announced on Thursday that he will attempt to win back his old seat in Parliament.

The independent, who backed Julia Gillard to govern over Tony Abbott in the 2010 hung Parliament, was the New England MP for 12 years up until his unexpected retirement in 2013.

A defeat for Mr Joyce would represent a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals.

There had been speculation that Mr Windsor would make a tilt for the Senate as his way back into federal politics.

Mr Windsor said he was standing to break down a “handbrake” hovering over Australia’s future.

“We’ve had this handbrake, and I’m not suggesting the current PM is a handbrake here either and it is not the Senate,” he said. “It is this small group of right-wingers of which Barnaby Joyce is one, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz… that have a handbrake on progress in relation to issues of the future.

“The reason I’m standing is that I think I have to stand up for the sorts of things that I believe in, to give the people of the region that I come from the greatest opportunity for the future.”

Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that the Greens state upper-house MP Jeremy Buckingham was also considering joining the race for New England, however he announced on Thursday that he would not be contesting.

“I wish [Mr Windsor] well in the election and I hope that Barnaby Joyce loses his seat because Barnaby has been absolutely hopeless in defending agriculture from coal mining and CSG,” he said in a statement.

Both Mr Buckingham and Mr Windsor have been vocal opponents of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine, which is in the final stages of approval and would be located on the rich Liverpool Plains.

During his time as Agriculture Minister, Mr Joyce broke ranks with his cabinet colleagues, saying the “world had gone mad” when the open-cut mine received approval but his elevation to the second-highest office in the Turnbull government will make it much more difficult for him to distance himself from the controversial project.

In response, Mr Joyce has already sharpened his lines about Mr Windsor being a hypocrite on the coal mine issue. The independent sold his farm to Whitehaven Coal.

“We will mount a full-scale grassroots campaign and I’m fully aware that it will be a David and Goliath event,” Mr Windsor predicted.

“And I’m looking forward to that.”

Follow us on Twitter

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

Read More

Hunt for elusive night bird on screen at the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra

Rob Nugent followed the trail of the mystery bird. Photo: Supplied His journey took him to remote parts of Australia, to the Indian Ocean and Europe. Photo: Supplied
Nanjing Night Net

A scene from the documentary showing a night parrot. Photo: Supplied

The filmmaker went to road-kill locations to search. Photo: Supplied

A specimen of the rare night parrot mounted for study. Photo: Supplied

The hunt for the night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) has been the Ahab against the white whale story of the bird-watching world for the past century, and the personal goal of Canberra filmmaker Robert Nugent for the better part of the last five years.

The elusive nocturnal bird discovered in some of Australia’s remoter locales was described by John Gould in 1861, but had disappeared by the end of the 19th century and assumed extinct.

Before video evidence of a live sighting was confirmed in 2013, local documentary filmmaker and academic Robert Nugent had started  a filmmaking quest to trace the history of the bird’s documented locations that would take him from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, and throughout Europe.

His film Night Parrot Stories it screens on Saturday, March 19, as part of the upcoming Art Not Apart Festival.

“It’s often called the Thylacine of the air,” Robert Nugent says of the Night Parrot, “and over the years it has been a great excuse for people to go on epic, but unsuccessful, journeys of discovery.”

The 1970 Miles Franklin Award recipient Dal Stivens’ book A Horse of the Air is named for the Indigenous term for the bird, and its central character Harry Craddock is driven mad along his search for it.

The night parrot’s mythical nature has inspired much great literature, including John Kinsella’s 1989 collected verse, Night parrots, and a similarly-titled collection of verse from Dorothy Porter in 1984.

Artist Mandy Martin’s 2015 exhibition at Sydney’s Delmar Gallery enjoyed the Night Parrot title too, but Nugent says the biggest artistic reference he heard on his cross-country journey was, of course, the Monty Python parrot sketch.

“Yes, I did bump into those jokes quite a bit along the way,” Nugent says.

Casting himself in the role of explorer, and with funding from Screen ACT and Screen Australia, Nugent set off on two great journeys.

The first took him along the Tropic of Capricorn, from Queensland to the West Australian coast, visiting the MacDonnell Ranges, the Gun Barrel Highway, along the path of rumoured sightings, including the site of a couple of unfortunate road-kill specimens.

This leg of his journey ended with a surprising piece of fortune at Willuna near the Carnarvon Ranges.

“[I was] driving down the main street of Willuna, looking lost. These two Aboriginal women came up to me and asked, ‘Are you looking for the night parrot?’,” Nugent recalls.

“There must be a look people get in their eyes.”

Nugent also travelled to the dusty museums and science collections of France, Germany, Hungary and England, where many of the earlier specimens ended up.

Nugent refers to himself as a “refugee from Sydney” who moved to Canberra following his university days, and while he has since hacked away in the halls of the ANU at a PhD looking at the Anthropocene, his resume also includes the 2007 film End of the Rainbow and 2011’s Memoirs of a Plague.

For End of the Rainbow, Nugent followed the dismantling of a gold mine’s infrastructure in Indonesian Borneo and its installation into a new community in West Africa.

The entertainment industry’s bible Variety called Nugent’s film an “entertaining and sometimes touching look at displacement and difficulties in adapting to change”, and Nugent continues to pursue those themes in his later films.

Night Parrot Stories looks at the mashing together of cultures, old and new, Western and Indigenous, their ways of collecting information, and also of occasionally losing that information.

“There’s a lot of whimsy in it, but also sadness and loss,” he says.

“It speaks to many of the anxieties we have about extinction, and this time we live in.”

He presents a range of ethnographic approaches, and along the way enlists many of Canberra’s wealth of ornithological talent. Local identities ornithologist Julian Reid, and former head of CSIRO Ecosystems Sciences Steve Moreton appear in the film.

Nugent spent much of his filming time as sole director and crew, but his film enjoys the sound recordings of Will Sheridan, Sam Petty’s sound design, and Hilary Balmond’s editing.

Does Nugent himself actually capture the night parrot on film? I won’t give that away, but Nugent is philosophical about his Odyssean journey.

“A bit like these urban-legend sightings of the Thylacine,” Nugent says, “it is one of those flashes in your life that convince that you’ve seen something out of the ordinary.”

Night Parrot Stories will screen on Saturday March 19, 4.00pm at Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive. 

Cris Kennedy is manager of education and community engagement at the National Film and Sound Archive.

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

Read More

Emily fires Matildas to win Rio qualifiers

STAR striker Kyah Simon believes a first Australian Olympic Games medal in football for either gender is now a realistic target after the Matildas won the Asian qualifying tournament.
Nanjing Night Net

GOAL: Emily van Egmond celebrates her long-range strike against China. Picture: Getty Images

Australia held on to top spot after former Newcastle Jets captain Emily van Egmond equalised with a stunning 25-metre drive with five minutes remaining against China in Osaka on Wednesday.

The 1-1 draw ensured Australia completed the tournament undefeated with four wins from five matches, shoring up a ticket to Rio along with China.

Van Egmond, who played all but 14 minutes of the Matildas’six games in 10 days, put her laces through a first-time shot in the 85th minute.

The ball swerved into the top right corner past goalkeeper Zhao Lina to give the FFC Frankfurt midfielder her third goal of the tournament.

With confidence at an all-time high, the Matildas are now focused on a podium finish in Rio.

The Matildas celebrate Emily van Egmond’s equaliser against China. Picture: Getty Images

“After the past 10 days, we have a belief that we are genuine medal contenders,” Simon said.

“And we have further scope to grow and improve.We are definitely going there to compete for a medal, not to make up the numbers.”

The Matildas’ best showing at an Olympic Games was to reach the lasteight at Athens 2004. Their male counterparts peaked with a fourth-placed finish at Barcelona in 1992.

Australia made it to the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup in a spirited performance that captured widespread media attention.

But Simon, whose four goals topped the tournament, saidthe team hadimproved markedly in recent months.

“We have improved in leaps and bounds since the World Cup,” she said.

“A lot of that goes down to being on the same page defensivelyand having an aggressive mindset in defence.

“We have a lot of quality attackers in our team, so when you have the defensive stuff worked out, you are in good shape.

“We put a lot of focus on our physical condition ahead of the tournament, and that meant we could play at a high intensity throughout all five matches.

“We have shown that we can beat some of the best teams in the world, and it is just so exciting for the Olympics.”

The Matildas received a message of support from Sydney 2000 gold medallist Cathy Freeman after booking passage to Rio on Monday.

Despite that inspiration, Australia were relatively flat against China but still found a way to earn a share of the spoils thanks to a trademark comeback.

“It was probably our worst performance of the tournament, so it was disappointing from that standpoint,” Simon said.

“But to cap it off by finishing top is a huge achievement and we are very proud of what we achieved.”

Read More

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

Read More

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

Read More

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
Nanjing Night Net

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.

Read More

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.”

Read More

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

Read More