Fairfax weakness could attract predators

27/07/2018 // by admin

With the Fairfax Media share price slumping 8 per cent after a set of results that was largely expected, but an outlook statement that didn’t inspire confidence, it will be a race against time to complete the transformation of the media group before a predator emerges.
Nanjing Night Net

Fairfax posted an earnings before interest and tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $506 million ($607 million in 2011), but there are heavy depreciation/capital expenditure charges.

The feeling is the group’s 2013 EBITDA will be closer to $400 million given the structural decline. And the way the structural changes are gathering momentum it might be lower again the following year. The upshot is it is hard to imagine hard copy newspapers surviving seven days a week.

Private equity predators

Fairfax is targeting cost-savings of $235 million, and is in the process of reducing its workforce by 20 per cent over the next three years, as it moves to a digital first platform. It is early days.

There has been strong speculation that a few private equity groups are looking at the company with a view to breaking it up. Fairfax’s enterprise value, which is the market cap plus debt is a tad over $2 billion, which looks good against an EBITDA of $506 million. There have also been a few analyst reports postulating a similar theme. The company can also decide if it continues in its current form or breaks itself up.

Facing facts

The brutal reality is traditional media is going through massive structural changes and blaming it on cyclical issues is a stretch; this downturn in revenue is structural. That’s why there are $2.9 billion of asset writedowns and impairment charges. It is also why News Corp made more than $2 billion of writedowns two weeks ago, most of which was from the Australian newspaper mastheads.

The pattern is this: digital revenue is up, audiences continue to fragment and advertisers are therefore putting more of their dollars into the digital space. This structural change explains why the digital side of the business experienced an increased in advertising yields.

Seek, Realestate南京夜网 and CarSales all have market caps well above Fairfax and their earnings and stock prices keep going up – structural tailwinds.

When the cycle turns there is no doubt the shift will continue to digital with more advertising revenue poured into that space.

Industry-wide challenge

Newspapers are not alone in this, they are merely ahead of the curve in terms of bearing the structural pain as audiences increasingly move online. SevenWest revealed TV revenue was up 3 per cent, newspaper revenue was down 5 per cent and magazine revenue fell 6 per cent. Digital joint venture Yahoo!7 lifted revenue 27 per cent.

In the US, which is a good indicator of things to come in Australia, figures show that internet protocol TV (IPTV) is rising at the expense of television.

Recent figures out of the United States indicate that people are increasingly turning from TV to IPTV. Comcast showed a drop of nearly 400,000 TV subscribers in the past year, Time Warner Cable lost 169,000 residential video subscribers and DirecTV reported a loss of 52,000 subscribers in the second quarter. US cable TV is actually free-to-air (FTA) as there is no FTA without a cable connection so to see cable connections being dropped in these numbers is more like people turning off FTA than people turning off cable. Internet customers are on the rise across provider. Time Warner Cable increased it broadband subscribers by 59,000.

Gina Rinehart, the company’s biggest single shareholder, will undoubtedly be watching the results with interest. They could be a trigger for her to call for two board seats.

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

Can semen treat depression and morning sickness?

27/07/2018 // by admin

Mood lifter … Semen contains anti-depressant properties, according to a team of psychologists.Ah, semen. We know it can make babies, but does it have other medicinal properties?
Nanjing Night Net

Researchers from SUNY Albany say that women who have frequent exposure to semen are happier than those who don’t – and that the sperm is the anti-depressant at the root of it all.

Published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the study included a survey of around 300 “college-aged” women. Using the Beck Depression Inventory to monitor the women’s levels of happiness, the team of psychologists found that the women who had oral sex and intercourse without a condom were happier than those who practiced safe sex.

The women who weren’t having sex and the women who used condoms had similar depression levels.

The psychologists believe the anti-depressant qualities could come from minute amounts of hormones in the sperm, including oxytocin, known as ‘the love drug’, serotonin, which promotes feelings of happiness, and cortisol, a stress alleviator.

Head of the research team, Gordon Gallup, previously suggested that morning sickness can be eased through exposure to semen, through either oral sex or intercourse.

Gallup believes that morning sickness is a woman’s body reacting badly to the foreign DNA – that of the baby’s father – in her body. He suggests that getting more exposure to the male’s DNA, via his sperm, could improve the nausea. His theory has yet to be proved in an scientific setting.

Gallup previously discovered that women who fall pregnant with unfamiliar semen – for example, from a sperm donor – are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia than those who are impregnated with familiar semen.

We’re not sure where to start with all the reason that women having unprotected sex might be happier. They’re probably more likely to be in a committed relationship and perhaps trying for a baby, for starters. And I’m pretty sure that most women with morning sickness would rather stick to dry toast than start the morning with a semen latte.

What do you think? Is this guy just having us on, or might he be on to something? Comment below or join the conversation in the Essential Baby forums.

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

Dallas reboot fails to strike it rich

27/07/2018 // by admin

The cast of Dallas redux. Chris (Jesse Metcalfe) and John-Ross (Josh Henderson) don’t see eye-to-eye.
Nanjing Night Net

DallasWednesdays, 9pm, Nine

What’s it all about?

A reboot of the prime-time soapie that ran over 357 episodes from 1978 to 1991 and gave us the immortal cliffhanger-cum-ad-campaign ‘‘Who shot JR?’’ as well as the world’s longest dream sequence (all 31 episodes of the 1985 season).

Our view

OMG, it’s as if the last 21 years never happened. One minute I’m in the shower, the next I’m watching that familiar title sequence and hearing that old theme music again. I guess all those Dallas-deprived years must have been nothing but a terrible dream.

The boys are back in town: there’s Bobby (Patrick Duffy), and there’s JR (Larry Hagman), both looking a little old and haggard. But since I thought he was dead, I guess Hagman isn’t looking too bad, really, all things considered.

Here comes Sue Ellen (Linda Gray); ooh, has she ever had some work done. Here’s lil ol’ Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) too, as top-heavy as ever.

But this ain’t the ’80s no more. The world has moved on. Oils ain’t just oils, Sol – they’re atmosphere-polluting carbon-rich non-renewables. And even the Ewings – well, some of them – have caught on.

While JR’s son John-Ross (Josh Henderson) is itching to get back into the oil business, secretly drilling on uncle Bobby’s ranch, Southfork, Bobby’s adopted son Chris (Jesse Metcalfe, the spunky gardener from Desperate Housewives) is making a play in what passes for the clean energy business in Texas.

John-Ross has struck the mother lode (cue obligatory scenes of him and his hot girlfriend rubbing oil into their already-glistening young bodies), but Bobby doesn’t want a bar (or barrel) of it. He’s sick of oil, sick of the way the Ewings have been torn apart over money, and just plain sick. Yep, he’s got stomach cancer and time is running out, fast. No biggie. He’ll get round to that chemo just as soon as Chris has married Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). And right after he’s given the ranch away to a wildlife trust. But first he needs to get a haircut and tidy his room. And have a shower, of course.

Meanwhile, Chris reckons he’s learnt how to extract methane from the ocean, in easy-to-transport ice form (is it just an accident that it looks like a big block of crystal meth?) It’s clean. It’s green. It’s the future. But whoops. It also causes earthquakes. What the frack?

All of which is enough to rouse JR from his depression – and drug-induced catatonic state (who shot-up JR?) just in time to get back to what he does best: being a bastard. Yay!

So far, so familiar. And that’s the problem with Dallas redux. Its thunder in the glamodrama stakes has been stolen by Revenge, a smart reboot of the genre that brilliantly married its debts to the original (Conrad Grayson hides out at the South Fork Inn, for instance) with a really smart and of-the-moment take on compromised morality.

By comparison, the Dallas cowboy (re)boot looks kind of tired and predictable, the producers largely satisfied with the tactic of stuffing fresh young actors into a well-established format, and surrounding them with the old-stagers to ease the transition.

Still, there’s plenty of promise in JR playing dirty all over again, even if Hagman is looking so haggard that you’re torn between rooting for him to shake things up a bit and asking if he’d like a nice hot cup of tea and a Ginger Snap before shuffling off to bed.

In a sentence

It may not make shoulder pads fashionable again (dear God, no), but Dallas does its best to prove that bad behaviour never goes out of style.

Best bit

JR’s eyebrows. They deserve a show of their own.

Worst bit

Linda Gray’s “work”.

Worth watching again?

From the point JR rouses himself from his chair of death, just about.

Grade: B-

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

Charles Blackman’s legacy more than Alice

29/07/2019 // by admin

Charles Blackman’s painting entitled ‘Alice Amongst Flowers’ is one of his best known works.Prize-winning artist Charles Blackman became famous for his series of paintings of schoolgirls, and kept drawing and painting all his life.

Blackman died in Sydney on Monday, aged 90, after a career that’s seen his paintings lauded, faked and stolen.

Born on August 12, 1928 in Sydney, Blackman was largely self-taught but did attend night classes in drawing and design at the East Sydney Technical College from about the age of 14.

He worked as an illustrator for the Sydney Sun, an early daily newspaper, until he moved to Melbourne in 1952.

The following year, Blackman co-founded the Melbourne Contemporary Art Society and became involved in the more figurative movement of painting taking hold there.

It was in the 1950s that Blackman painted his Schoolgirl series, a haunting collection of images depicting girls and women lost in daydreams or playing games.

Later in the decade he began his renowned Alice in Wonderland series, which conveyed scenes from the popular children’s book with distinctly deep shadows.

The two collections earned Blackman considerable acclaim, and in 1959 he won the Rowney prize for drawing for his unique and individual works.

That same year, Blackman and six other artists formed the Antipodean Manifesto in protest against the perceived dominance of abstract expressionism.

The year 1960 was highly successful for Blackman. Following a very successful exhibition at the Johnson Gallery, he won the Helena Rubenstein Scholarship, the Dyeson Endowment Award and the Crouch Prize.

He then studied and travelled overseas, exhibiting at the Whitechapel and Tate galleries in London.

In 1977, Blackman was awarded an OBE for his services to the arts.

The National Gallery of Victoria in 1993 held a major exhibition of his works titled Schoolgirls and Angels, which travelled to Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

A search was mounted by the National Gallery of Victoria in 2006 for four of the 46 works in the Alice series, as their location was unknown, and later two of the missing paintings were located for the exhibition.

In 2010 a Victorian Supreme Court judge found two drawings purported to be by Blackman were in fact fakes, and ordered they be destroyed.

A documentary about the artist’s life titled An Imprint In Time, was released in 2011, narrated by his granddaughter Clementine Blackman and featuring Archibald Prize winner Judy Cassab, who was one of his closest friends.

Blackman spent much of his later life out of the public eye after he was diagnosed with the memory disorder Korsakoff’s syndrome.

His paintings were highly regarded and often stolen, one ending up being recovered five years after its theft in a suburban garage, and another was never found when a luxury yacht transporting the heist apparently foundered at sea off the Queensland coast.

Blackman was married three times, to poet Barbara Patterson in 1951, artist Genevieve de Couvreur in 1978 and Victoria Bower in 1989, and had six children.

At a 2013 exhibition of silk-screen prints of his work, Blackman was enthusiastic about his ongoing work and told AAP his age was an advantage for his creativity.

“Painting comes from … your remembrance of things past,” he said.

Australian Associated Press

Swan Reid still in mix for AFL finals

29/07/2019 // by admin

Sydney hope injury-plagued forward Sam Reid can return this season to boost their AFL title push.Sydney aren’t ready to write off Sam Reid’s injury-plagued AFL season yet.

Reid, who would offer Lance Franklin valuable support in the Swans’ inexperienced forward line, hasn’t played AFL since April 7 because of quad and achilles injuries.

Reid underwent surgery after tweaking his quad in round three then battled back to full fitness, only to suffer a fresh achilles setback in the NEAFL that required more surgery in July.

The 26-year-old has started training and is now racing the clock as he bids to take part in the Swans’ push for a premiership.

It’s a similar scenario to what unfolded in 2016, when Reid was close to returning from achilles surgery in the AFL grand final but ultimately ran out of time.

Sydney are understandably taking a conservative approach with Reid, who has only managed 121 games since the 2009 draft because of a series of injuries, but are optimistic he’ll be back playing soon.

“He is (a chance of returning this season),” Swans football manager Tom Harley told radio station SEN.

“He will train again this week and with a bit of luck he might be able to get some match practice in the reserves, our reserves have qualified for the finals as well.

“There’s an option for him, we would love him back as soon as possible to provide some support for Lance.

“But he’s got to get through a few hurdles this week.”

The Swans’ finals hopes were hanging by a thread last month during a flat patch that was compounded by injuries to Jarrad McVeigh, Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack.

The three veterans are now all fit and firing while John Longmire’s team have bounced back in style, recording impressive wins over finals-bound sides Collingwood, Melbourne and GWS.

The Swans, who secured their spot in the finals with an upset 20-point victory in the Sydney derby, will finish in the top four if they defeat Hawthorn at the SCG on Saturday night.

Australian Associated Press

Labor ramps up calls to get kids off Nauru

29/07/2019 // by admin

Labor wants the federal government to remove all the remaining children in detention from Nauru.Labor has joined a chorus of voices piling pressure on the federal government to get the remaining children in offshore detention on Nauru off the Pacific island.

As refugee advocates kicked off a campaign to free the children, Labor penned a letter on Monday urging Home Affairs Peter Dutton to accept New Zealand’s standing offer to resettle 150 refugees.

“Labor is seriously concerned by reports regarding the health and welfare of children in the Australian-funded regional processing centre on Nauru,” opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said on Monday.

“If Peter Dutton is too distracted by his leadership ambitions to address his failure to manage Australian-funded regional processing centres or negotiate other third country resettlement options, it’s time for Malcolm Turnbull to step in and clean up his minister’s mess.”

A coalition of more than 30 advocacy groups will lobby politicians as part of the ‘Kids off Nauru’ campaign calling for the children to be brought to Australia.

Campaigners say 119 children remain detained on Nauru, some of whom have been there for close to four years.

Kelly Nicholls from the Refugee Council of Australia said there was a deep concern for all those detained offshore, and for children in particular.

“There have been consistent reports of children attempting suicide and self-harm,” she said.

“Worryingly, in recent months, there has been an escalation of reports of children suffering ‘resignation syndrome’ where they aren’t leaving their beds and they’ve stopping eating, drinking, talking – even going to the toilet.”

Oxfam chief exec Helen Szoke said Australia needed to ensure people seeking asylum were never again subjected to indefinite detention.

“We are a nation with a strong economy, capacity to resettle a large number of people and a proven history of managing resettlement effectively,” she said.

“We can and must do more.”

Australian Associated Press

Newcastle musician Crocq shares his love of Filipino food

29/07/2019 // by admin

Crocq follows his music and marinade dreams TweetFacebook Crocq’s second creative passion | Photos Mini Pinoy Grill All Purpose Marinade. Pictures: Marina NeilNewcastle singer, songwriter and musician Crocqhenri Lucerno – better known as Crocq –says he “makes music to feed your soul”.

AMBITIOUS: Crocqhenri Lucerno – better known as Crocq – is making his own Filipino marinade and has a pop-up diner. Picture: Marina Neil

Now he’s taking that onestep further and sharing his other creative passion in life: Filipino food.

As a child he dreamed of being a chef but Lucerno’s is a family of musicians and talented singers and performingbecame a full-time job. Fast forward a few years, though, and his passion for cooking has been rekindled.

“I developed my own Filipino-style marinade and would prepare it for all sorts of occasions –parties, fiestas, you name it.If there was food, I made sure my marinade was there,” he said.

“For years I had tried and tested, watching people’s reactions as theytried my marinated delicacies.

“I created Mini Pinoy Grill in 2015 and ran a fully licensed mini food trailer for a number of events around the area, including Groovin’ The Moo.However the competing priorities of my music career meant that I decided instead to concentrate on bottling my Mini Pinoy Grill All Purpose Marinade.”

Lucerno is hoping an online Kickstarter campaign will help raise the money required to start larger-scale production of his marinade at a factory in Marrickville. Hesays, laughing, that “the secret ingredient is passion”.

“Cheesy, I know. To me, it’sa rounded, well-balanced flavour of sweet, tangy, salty and soy with a slight bite of spice that draws you in with its smell and has you hooked on its taste.I would have to say Filipino food is very soul enriching.”

What’s clear is that the marinade –and the food he is now serving at Mayfield Bowling Club on Monday and Tuesday nights –is a nod to his Filipino heritage and the distinct flavours and smells that filled his family home growing up.

“It’s hard to explain just what the flavour of the Philippines is, which is why it’s so often overlooked as a cuisine.

“I’m definitely no Gordon Ramsaybut I love food. I have all the necessary qualifications to be in the kitchen but I’ve learnt most of my culinary skills through tasting and cooking for myself.

“The pop-up restaurant was a by-chance happening. After a gig one night, I was speaking to a friend’s partner who mentioned that they had recently taken over the Mayfield Bowling Club’s bistro. The next day I thought ‘What better way to get the flavour of the Philippines out to the worldby allowing people to sample Filipino cuisine, coupled by my signature marinade?’. I’ve been there four weeks now.”

The marinade pairs well, he says, withpork, beef, lamb and chicken but also works wellwith fish, tofu and vegetable stir fries, or as adipping sauce for dumplings, spring rolls and any deep-fried cuisine.

Pre-sales of the marinade are being taken online on Lucerno’s Kickstarter page.

Blackman remembered as man of emotion

29/07/2019 // by admin

Australia’s art community has united in tribute to prize-winning artist Charles Blackman, who has died peacefully in Sydney surrounded by loved ones, aged 90.

Deborah Hart, NGA head of Australian Art, said the Sydney-born artist “brought a distinct vision to Australian art”.

“His sense of poetry and ability to capture the poignancy, emotion and richness of the everyday urban landscape remains unrivalled,” she said.

“His legacy will live on.’

The Art Gallery of NSW described Blackman as “one of the most celebrated Australian figurative artists of the 20th century”.

Blackman was best remembered for his haunting Schoolgirls paintings depicting girls and women lost in daydreams, which was inspired by his own horror over the murder of a young girl in Melbourne, and then for his Alice in Wonderland series, which conveyed abstract scenes from the popular children’s book.

In a blog post, the gallery made note of the “personal, literary and musical themes” that influenced Blackman’s work, while Sydney artist Marina Finlay, who modelled for Blackman for many years, described him as a “combination of the Mad Hatter and the rabbit”.

“These amazing pearls of wisdom would drop out of his mouth,” Finlay told News Corp on Monday.

“He would say something like, ‘you have got to wrap your pen around a dream’. Another of his sayings was, ‘don’t draw what you see, draw what you feel’.”

Perhaps the most moving tribute came from his son Auguste Blackman, who said father will leave “a wonderful legacy”.

“He painted our dreams. He painted the dreams of everyone,” he said.

“I’ve never met such a man who could channel emotion the way Charles did in the paint.”

Blackman didn’t just paint. He was also loved for his prints, drawing, sculpture and tapestry, through which he explored the female psyche and cats as principle themes, among others.

His works were widely exhibited in galleries around Australia and also at the Whitechapel and Tate galleries in London. He was awarded an OBE for his services to the arts in 1977.

Blackman spent much of his later life out of the public eye after he was diagnosed with the memory disorder Korsakoff’s syndrome.

He is survived by his six children.

* The Harvey Galleries in Sydney will next month open an exhibition dedicated to Charles Blackman. The Evening is the Morning will look at Blackman’s portrayal of the mysticism of cats through bronze maquettes and illustrations from Mark Twain’s A Cat’s Tale. Showing from September 22 to October 7. Details: harveygalleries南京夜网.au

Australian Associated Press

OpinionHow to inspire a culture of improvement in writing

29/06/2019 // by admin

Too often, the term“CEO” stands for “chief editing officer”. Unfortunately, it comes with the C-suite territory. C not only means chief, but communication.

Despite all the effort that goes into hiring and training, many of the best and brightest moving into well-paid positions lack an understanding of punctuation and grammar, and are poor spellers. It means the boss is often left to correct correspondence, particularly reports.

Yet poorly written correspondence is still being posted online or going out on behalf of the company. Often the bosses have no real expertise in English either, but they at least have an idea of what is expected.Good writing is good editing. Few people outside of sub-editors, songwriters, poets and people compiling shopping lists take the time to jot, or seriously reassess their written words. It always pays to have a pen and paper handy.

Senior executives require the five Cs: clarity, concision, completeness, courtesy and courage.

Clarity encompasses defining your reasons for writing, understanding your audience, and knowing your desired outcome. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and keep re-reading your document aloud to ensure it flows.

Concision relates to sentence construction and length. Less is always more. One idea, one sentence is a useful guide, and keep sentences to a maximum of 30-35 words. Paragraphs are best at three sentences.

Completeness means you have incorporated all the necessary information into the document. If you require a specific outcome, or action from the recipient, that should be clear.

Courtesy relates to tone, and shouldn’t be confused with writing in a gushing style. For some recipients a direct style is preferred. Assess your audience, adopt the correct tone and in so doing, pay them a courtesy.

Finally, have the courage to write directly and honestly, and to be ruthless when you self-edit.

It’s easy to add other words to the C-suite. Coaching and culture come to mind. Encourage everyone to adopt the five-C strategy, and inspire a culture of improvement in writing.

The aim is having confidence in everyone in the organisation to undertake any written task. Confidence, too, that they will seek advice and continually self-edit.

The end result should be clear and concise writing.

Darrell Croker is senior coach at Write For Impact.

Dutch cyclist living the dream when killed

29/06/2019 // by admin

Dutch national Gitta Scheenhouwer was living the “Melbourne dream” when she was killed cycling.A Dutch cyclist killed in a hit run has been remembered as a “sweet, spontaneous, cheerful” young woman who had just landed her dream job in her adopted hometown of Melbourne.

Gitta Scheenhouwer, 27, was fatally run over by a stolen car while cycling in a Chapel Street bike lane at South Yarra on August 12.

In a statement released on Monday, her family spoke of their overwhelming grief.

“We can hardly put into words the deep pain and feelings of overwhelming sadness and sorrow at the loss of Gitta Scheenhouwer who was taken from all of us,” they said.

“She will always be in our hearts as the sweet, spontaneous, cheerful girl who was always busy with all of the things she wanted to do whilst smiling from ear to ear.”

Ms Scheenhouwer and her boyfriend Thomas had left the Netherlands to follow their longtime wish of living Down Under for a couple of years.

After studying and working hard, they arrived in May, visiting Sydney and Brisbane before settling in Melbourne.

Ms Scheenhouwer loved exploring on her new pushbike and was living the “Melbourne dream” with her boyfriend when she was killed.

“They were joyfully moving forward in life while relishing the journey, and were both using every minute to the max,” her family said.

“At first they explored the city as tourists, but after a while Melbourne was becoming their own and it started feeling like a home town.”

She found work a graduate architect within two months of arriving, which for her “was the best feeling in the world”.

“From then, it was time to focus and start working in the industry she loved,” her family said.

“What most others thought to be impossible and only dare to dream of, Gitta had succeeded.”

A memorial bike ride will be held to honour her life on August 28, stopping on the corner of Chapel Street and Grosvenor Street in South Yarra at 7.30am.

Police say the fatal crash occurred after a white Mercedes swerved into a bike lane.

Michael Panayides, 26, of no fixed address, is charged with culpable driving and failing to stop or render assistance. He will face court on December 4.

Australian Associated Press

Hectic start to Queensland’s fire season

29/06/2019 // by admin

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll says about 800 bushfires have ignited across Qld since Wednesday.Queensland’s fire season is off to a hectic start with fire fighters forced to contend with 800 bushfires in less than a week.

On Monday, authorities downgraded advice for residents living near a large blaze north of Townsville.

Residents of Crystal Creek and nearby Mutarnee had been told to prepare to flee amid fears homes could be affected. But the threat has eased and authorities say there’s now no risk to property.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Katarina Carroll said about 800 bushfires have been reported across the state since since Wednesday.

They include more than 290 reported in the 24 hours to 8am on Monday.

“We are expecting bushfire activity to remain high over the coming days and it is imperative the public remain up-to-date and follow all instructions,” she warned in a statement.

A very high fire danger rating remains in place for much of Queensland with strong westerly winds expected to continue for much of the week.

QFES Superintendent Gary McCormack said some property had been lost in scores of fires that burned over the weekend, but so far no homes appear to have been destroyed.

“We did lose some structures, mainly sheds. We have lost a few caravans and some vehicles as well,” he told ABC television on Monday.

“We need to get in and assess the degree of damage.”

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the state’s fire season, which is only 20 days old, was off to a very challenging start.

He warned that would continue in the weeks and months ahead, with fuel loads high and soil moisture low amid drought conditions across much of Queensland.

Meanwhile police have charged a man with arson over nine blazes lit in the Kingaroy area over the past two weeks.

It’s alleged the 26-year-old lit the fires on vacant land and while nothing was damaged the flames came close to surrounding property and fences. He’s due in court next month.

Australian Associated Press

Newcastle-based health insurer nib’s profits increase to $133.5 million, full year 2018 results show

29/06/2019 // by admin

NIB managing director Mark Fitzgibbon at the Newcastle office. Picture: Marina Neil

NIB has announced a net profit of $133.5 million forthe 2018 financial year –an11.1 per cent increase from the previous year.

On Monday, the Newcastle-based health insurer released its full year results for 2018, which revealed a total group revenue of $2.2 billion, up 11.5 per cent from 2017.

Throughout the year there was$1.5 billion in Australian residents health insurance (arhi) claims, which fundedmore than 280,000 hospital admissions, and 3.7 million dental and ancillary visits.

The insurer had a groupoperating profit of $184.8 million, up20.2 per cent from the previous year, and a statutory operating profitof $169million, up by12.2 per cent.

Managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said private health insurance, domestically, was a tough market.

“But we grew at 3 per cent, which is six times the industry average,” he said.

“Little old nib – because we have less than 9 per cent of the market –accounted for almost half of the entire industry growth last year.”

The growth of the company’s “adjacent businesses”had contributed to their earnings.

Related reading: NIB waives insurance premiums for drought-affected farmers

“We insure about 160,000 international workers and students visitingAustralia, we have abusiness in New Zealand, and we have a global travel insurance business today, with offices around the world,” he said.

“And those businesses are growing impressively.

“It’s part of our mantra in the business that profits are only the consequence of doing what you’re meant to do very well.

“In our case, it’s helping people access world class health care, and we are doing that. We paid for 280,000 hospital admissions last year.”

Mr Fitzgibbons said the 2018 premium increase of 3.94 per cent was the lowest it had been in14 years.

Related reading: NIB revenue hits $1.1 billion in soft market

“We are a company valued at $3 billion. About80 per cent of our shareholders are mum and dad investors, and a lot of those are Newcastle and Hunter people,” he said.

“We need to make a profit as a business.

“One of the benefits of our success is that premiums don’t have to go up as much as they have in previous years.

“Last year was the lowest the premium hasbeen in 14 years, and I reckon next year will be lower again.”

Mr Fitzgibbon said they would also be selling health insurance in China by the end of this financial year.

“We are very focused on affordability and reducing costs, and hopefully, reducing the pressure on future premium increases,” he said.

Joy as Korean families meet after 65 years

29/06/2019 // by admin

About 90 families from North and South Korea have wept and embraced as the neighbours held their first reunion events in three years for relatives wrenched apart by the Korean War.

The brief reunions are set to total just 11 hours over the next three days in the North’s tourist resort of Mount Kumgang after the neighbours renewed exchanges this year following a stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to the reunion events at a summit in April.

About 330 South Koreans from 89 families, many in wheelchairs, embraced 185 separated relatives from the North with tears, joy and disbelief. Some struggled to recognise family not glimpsed in more than 60 years.

“How are you so old?” Kim Dal-in, 92, asked his sister, Yu Dok, after gazing at her briefly in silence.

“I’ve lived this long to meet you,” replied the 85-year-old, wiping away tears as she clasped a photograph of her brother in his youth.

Siblings Kim Gyong Sil, 72 and Gyong Yong, 71, wearing the traditional hanbok dress, coloured pale violet, stood nervously staring at the entrance, awaiting their 99-year-old mother Han Shin-ja. They could not speak for minutes, wailed loudly and rubbed their cheeks and hands.

“When I fled home in the war…,” Han said, faltering as she choked with emotion and left her sentence incomplete.

The separated families are victims of a decades-long political gridlock since the 1950-53 war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty, with ties increasingly strained as Pyongyang rapidly stepped up its weapons programs.

More than 57,000 South Korean survivors have registered for the family reunions, which usually end in painful farewells.

The reunions should be scaled up sharply, held regularly, and include exchanges of visits and letters, said Moon, himself a member of a separated family from the North’s eastern port city of Hungnam.

“It is a shame for both governments that many of the families have passed away without knowing whether their lost relatives were alive,” he told presidential secretaries at a meeting.

From Thursday, 88 more groups of relatives will meet, comprised of 469 individuals from the South and 128 from the North, Seoul’s Unification Ministry says.

The reunions, which began in 1985, can be a traumatic experience, say survivors, who know they are unlikely to see their relatives again, since many are 80 or older and first-timers typically get priority for visits.

Australian Associated Press