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  1. Qantas coy on margin squeeze

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    August 10, 2019 by admin

    QANTAS has conceded that returns from domestic fares fell in July amid intense competition from Virgin Australia but has broken with normal practice by not putting a figure on the size of the decline.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The prospect of a fare war comes as the Emirates chief executive, Tim Clark, visits Sydney this week, further fuelling speculation the Middle Eastern airline will sign an alliance with Qantas covering routes between Australia and Europe.

    Critics say Qantas is acting from a position of weakness in pursuing a code-share deal, and risks handing passengers to Emirates without significant benefits.

    Releasing traffic statistics yesterday, Qantas said yields from domestic flights were lower in July than the same month last year due to increased capacity from airlines in the domestic market.

    But the notable absence of a figure on the movement in yields – or returns from fares – disappointed analysts, who said it would weaken investor confidence in the airline’s outlook.

    For the past decade Qantas has released yields for its domestic and international operations.

    ”It is disappointing because you can’t see the trends on a monthly basis. Most companies are trying to increase transparency but this decision takes them in the opposite direction,” an analyst said.

    Qantas said yields from its international operations had improved in July – without giving an exact figure – due to it ceasing to fly on loss-making routes. The airline ditched the Singapore-Mumbai and Auckland-Los Angeles routes in May, just months after it dropped Hong Kong-London and Bangkok-London.

    It has previously warned that a large increase in capacity in the domestic market – the core of the airline’s earnings – will put pressure on yields in the first half of the new financial year.

    Qantas and its budget offshoot Jetstar will increase capacity on domestic routes by as much as 11 per cent in the first half of 2012-13. Virgin plans to raise it as much as 9 per cent.

    ”It will not be good for profits if they can’t counteract that yield pressure with cost [reductions] or putting on profitable routes elsewhere,” said Will Seddon, a portfolio manager at White Funds Management.

    Tiger Airways is also increasing the number of flights to the number it was operating before its six-week grounding last year. It will begin two daily return services between Melbourne and Adelaide in November.

    A Qantas spokesman said the decision not to include figures on yields would bring it into line with domestic and international competitors.

    Qantas shares fell 3¢ to $1.14 yesterday. Virgin closed up 2.5¢ at 45¢.

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


  2. Winners announced in reborn literary awards

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    August 10, 2019 by admin

    Frank Moorhouse won the Fiction Book Award for Cold Light.When the Newman government announced in April it would no longer fund the Queensland Premier’s Literary awards, the community rallied and the Queensland Literary Awards were born.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Tonight, the who’s who of the state’s literary community gathered to celebrate the 15 winners of the inaugural awards.

    The mood was clear – tonight we celebrate, for the future is uncertain.

    “To be frank, it has been an exhausting effort by those people who are close to the centre of it, the committee and the key workers,” Queensland Literary Awards chairman Stuart Glover said.

    “That won’t happen again next year, certainly not in the same way, unless there is some sort of community, or institutional or even government support of some kind.

    “It has been spontaneous and sort of beautiful this year, but what happens next year, we don’t know yet.  We’re waiting to see.”

    The new awards were launched after state government announcement it would scrap the $200,000 award program.  It was the first of what would be many cuts to government programs and services.

    Judges received more than 600 entries for the 15 categories.

    Dr Glover said the awards were made possible through donations from hundreds of individuals, businesses, universities and cultural organisations.

    More than $30,000 was raised, which went towards prizes and associated costs.

    Dr Glover said the popularity of the awards, in both entries and support went to the importance of literature and writing within the community.

    “This isn’t about elite culture, it is about the very broad way that writing is part of our lives,” he said.

    “Most people are readers, most people are members of libraries.  To dismiss writing as elitism is to misunderstand how important it is.

    “Over the last 25 years, the Queensland literary scene has transformed itself.  The place is bubbling with writers.

    “About a fifth of the short list, of the 68 writers on the shortlist, were Queensland writers. There is a very healthy Queensland representation, even among the national categories that needs to be acknowledged and that needs to be acknowledged and supported and that is what we are trying to do.”

    The winners: 

    Fiction Book Award: Cold Light, by Frank Moorhouse (Sydney)

    Non-Fiction Book Award: The People Smuggler, by Robin De Crespigny (Melbourne)

    Young Adult Book Award: The Ink Bridge, by Neil Grant (Melbourne)

    Children’s Book Award: Kumiko and the Shadow Catchers, by Briony Stewart (Perth)

    Australian Short Story Collection – Steele Rudd Award: Forecast Turbulence, by Janette Turner Hospital (Queensland resident based in South Carolina, USA)

    Poetry Collection – Judith Wright Calanthe Award: Crimson Crop, by Peter Rose (Melbourne)

    Emerging Queensland Author – Manuscript Award: Island of the Unexpected writer Catherine Titasey (Thursday Island, Queensland)

    Unpublished Indigenous Writer  – David Unaipon Award: Story Siv Parker (Queensland born now living in Lismore)

    History Book Award: The Biggest Estate on Earth:How Aborigines Made Australia, by Bill Gammage (Canberra)

    Science Writer Award: Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, by Rob Brooks (Sydney)

    Literary or Media Work Advancing Public Debate – Harry Williams Award: The Australian Moment: How We Were Made for These Times, by George Megalogenis (Melbourne)

    Drama Script Award: War Crimes, by Angela Betzien (Melbourne based previously from Queensland)

    Film Script Award: Dead Europe, by Louise Fox (Sydney)

    Television Script Award: Mabo, by Sue Smith (Sydney)

    People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year: Closer to Stone, by Simon Cleary (Brisbane-based, born in Toowoomba)

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


  3. Newcastle remembers Battle for Australia

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    August 10, 2019 by admin

    YOUNG and old will gather in Civic Park today to mark the Battle for Australia and particularly the role played by Fort Scratchley in the defence of Newcastle during World War II.
    Nanjing Night Net

    A commemoration service will be held at the cenotaph at 11am and the special guest will be Carl Christie, the last army officer to command the fort. He left the position in the early 1970s.

    Battle for Australia Newcastle commemoration committee president Bob Kear said each year the service had a different theme. An earlier one was the role of women in war.

    Fort Scratchley was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle.

    “Newcastle was the only coal port the Brits [British] had in the Pacific in the days when most ships ran on coal and all the railways ran on coal,” Mr Kear said.

    “This year’s service will acknowledge the critical role and contribution made by Fort Scratchley in the direct defence of Newcastle on the night of June 7, 1942.”

    Mr Kear said on that night a Japanese submarine fired about 24 shells into Newcastle.

    “In response Fort Scratchley returned that fire, as a result becoming the only fort in Australia to have fired its guns in anger,” he said.

    The term “Battle for Australia” was coined in 1942 by Labor prime minister John Curtin .

    “It is now we work or fight as we have never worked or fought before,” Mr Curtin said at the time.

    Mr Kear said it was important that the events of those years were never forgotten, although each year fewer people had a direct connection to the battle.

    “Everyone was involved, whether they wanted to be or not,” Mr Kear said.

    Maud O’Brien and Grace Jones, former members of the Australian Women’s Army Service, will also be guests at today’s ceremony.

    Mrs Jones served at the fort, although not during the crisis.

    Mr Kear said Merewether High students would acknowledge, in speeches they had researched themselves, the service of Australia’s allies during the fighting, which threatened Australia from 1942 until the war ended in 1945.

    The Hunter School of Performing Arts senior brass ensemble will perform.

    ANNIVERSARY: Fort Scratchley has been chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle.

    COMMEMORATION: A service will be held at the cenotaph at 11am.


  4. A hit in Venice, The Master ignites Oscar buzz

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    August 10, 2019 by admin

    Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master.Venice traditionally fires the starting gun in the long awards season, and as the world’s oldest film festival reaches the halfway point, three actors have set Hollywood tongues wagging with memorable performances.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Michael Shannon as a serial hitman, Philip Seymour Hoffman as the leader of a faith-based organisation loosely modelled on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Joaquin Phoenix playing the tortured, volatile protege are already in the frame about six months before the Oscars.

    The buzz surrounding their portrayals has helped lift spirits in Venice, celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, although incoming director Alberto Barbera may be concerned by the lack of A-list stars on the red carpet.

    Celebrity wattage is almost as important to a film festival as the quality of the movies, as it attracts the world’s media and reminds the showbusiness world why notoriously expensive Venice still matters in a calendar crammed with rival events.

    As the 11-day cinema showcase on the Lido waterfront reaches the midway point, the heaviest hitter on all levels has been The Master.

    Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film since the acclaimed There Will Be Blood in 2007, it combines controversy – the movie was inspired by the early days of Scientology – and acting pedigree in the form of Hoffman and Phoenix.

    The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy called it “a bold, challenging, brilliantly acted drama that is a must for serious audiences”.

    Not every critic liked it, but most agreed the two central actors were at the peak of their powers, with Hoffman as the domineering Lancaster Dodd and Phoenix his hard-drinking, troubled acolyte.

    Few would be surprised to see them nominated for awards.

    The GoldDerby website, which previews showbusiness honours, has made The Master a favourite for the best picture Oscar, Anderson is frontrunner for best director and Hoffman and Phoenix are in the top five for best actor.

    Both actors were in Venice, where Phoenix’s behaviour was erratic and he was barely articulate at a press briefing.

    But another big title, Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, launched without its reclusive director and most prominent stars.

    The impressionistic, poetic portrayal of a couple in love told with virtually no dialogue was praised and panned in equal measure, but with Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams all absent, its world premiere was low-key.

    Turn the clock back 15 months, and Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain all graced the red carpet in Cannes for Malick’s The Tree of Life.

    Barbera has managed to attract rising stars like former Disney teen idol Zac Efron, who appeared in the farming saga At Any Price, and Selena Gomez who is expected in Venice to promote Spring Breakers on Wednesday.

    But without top names, and movies that jolted audiences in the way war dramas Redacted and The Hurt Locker or sex addiction story Shame did in recent years, Venice stumbled.

    “So far there have been a few peaks, like The Master which is brilliantly acted, and outside of competition Spike Lee’s documentary on Michael Jackson,” said Maria Giulia Minetti, a journalist for Italian daily La Stampa.

    “But overall it’s a subdued festival, there’s not much money around and maybe cinema right now lacks punch,” added the veteran of 32 Venice festivals.

    Both The Master and To the Wonder are in the 18-film competition in Venice, but outside the main line-up several movies caught the eyes of the critics.

    The Iceman is a re-telling of the true story of American hitman Richard Kuklinski, who killed more than 100 people before his capture and imprisonment.

    The towering actor Shannon won warm praise for a performance that evoked sympathy as much as revulsion, and Winona Ryder also impressed as his wife.

    Lee’s Bad 25, a two-hour film about the making of Jackson’s seminal 1987 album, may have bordered on hagiography and focused purely on the music, but it reinforced the belief of many that the late “King of Pop” fully deserved his moniker.

    There have been more than 20 female directors unveiling movies in Venice this year – an unusually high number – including Indian film maker Mira Nair with her out-of-competition 9/11 movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

    Israel’s Rama Burshtein brought her own ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to the big screen in Fill the Void. And Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female director, presented Wadjda, about a young girl seeking to break down barriers faced by females in Saudi society.

    The Arab Spring uprisings found expression in films Witness: Libya and Winter of Discontent, from Egypt, while the economic crisis made its way into movies like To the Wonder and At Any Price.

    REUTERS

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


  5. Pies’ deal on jumpers a great fit

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    August 10, 2019 by admin

    COLLINGWOOD players will next year wear bespoke jumpers tailored by not only body size, but position, as the club unashamedly tries to grab a competitive advantage.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Hoping to achieve the sort of benefits in football that swimming achieved with speedsuits before they were outlawed, Collingwood has devised its own jumpers in collaboration with a boutique company.

    Players will wear a different sort of jumper according to position, with defenders and some midfielders wearing a tight-fitting jumper with little give in the fabric to make it harder for them to be grabbed and tackled.

    Other players, such as forwards, will wear jumpers with more stretch in them so that if grabbed in a marking contest the material will give and the player will not be restricted.

    More stretch in the jumper will also make it easier for an umpire to see a hold in a marking contest.

    The players will have different jumpers according to weather conditions, with a lighter-weight hot-weather jumper, a cold-weather jumper, and a different one for wet weather.

    The jumpers essentially look the same but will be made from different materials that have been decided on by the players after examining uniforms worn by players of different sporting codes around the world and the club’s sports science department.

    ”We are constantly looking at getting an advantage – high-altitude training, re-doing the Westpac Centre, more coaches, and this is part of that thinking,” club chief executive Gary Pert said yesterday.

    ”Four years ago we said if you look at elite sport like the Olympics, the apparel and equipment they wear – because they are dealing with hundredths of a second – has become really critical and can make the difference to them.

    ”When you have a sport like swimming, their apparel was banned because it was breaking all the records, so the apparel is extremely important. And then other sports – cycling, running, where the apparel now is a competitive edge. We thought apparel is one area we might be able to get a competitive edge.”

    Pert said players would have multiple fittings of jumpers to cater for changes to body shape that happen during the year, such as a player bulking up in the pre-season and then fining down.

    ”There are no sizes. Each jumper is tailored for each player. It’s a bit like a wedding dress, there are a few fittings during the year,” he said.

    ”The cuts will all be slightly different. Some players like a higher cut neck, others a lower neck, some tighter around the arms like a ‘Toovs’ [Alan Toovey], who is built like a greyhound, and ‘Trav’ [Travis Cloke], with big arms, likes a looser cut around the arm.”

    While the club hopes to get a competitive advantage on the field, the motivation is as much about the

    potential financial benefit they may be able to gain.

    Collingwood has worn jumpers made by adidas for the past 14 years but it has ended that contract. Adidas will now provide runners and boots only.

    The club has formed a partnership with a small label, Star Athletic, a spin-off created specifically for this purpose from umbrella group The Promotion Factory.

    The financial potential of getting a share of the wholesale and retail price of the product means the financial potential of the deal is significant.

    ”Without saying the exact dollars, there is great financial upside for Collingwood as a result of the different financial structure … even in a worst-case scenario we are financially better off,” Pert said.

    ”We can also ensure the cost of the jumper is kept at a minimum in the long term.”

    Four other AFL clubs are negotiating with Star Athletic about a similar arrangement.

    Clubs have often complained of the comparatively small return they get from each jumper sale at retail outlets outside the club. Large manufacturers typically make four or five times more out of selling a football jumper than the football club.

    From jumpers sold through Rebel Sport, for instance – where the purchasing power means the retailer demands a lower wholesale price from the manufacturer than other retailers, and even the clubs can command – clubs were getting a tenth of the return they got from other retailers or their own shop.

    With Collingwood sharing in a cut of wholesale and retail through the partnership with Star Athletic, it will get a share of every jumper sold, no matter when or where it is sold.

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