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  1. Dollar ‘spooked’ to six-week low

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    December 10, 2018 by admin

    Concerns about the cancelling or mothballing of some of Australia’s biggest mining projects have begun to take their toll on the Australian dollar, with the currency hitting a six-week low today against the greenback.
    Nanjing Night Net

    That’s the view of some of Australia’s most respected currency strategists, who also believe that an improved outlook for Europe has reduced demand for the dollar’s so-called safe haven status.

    The dollar fell to $US1.0241 this morning, down from $US1.0258 yesterday, a figure not seen since July 25.

    It comes as the trade-weighted index fell to 76.6 overnight, the lowest since June 29. The index is a measurement of the dollar’s value when compared to a basket of currencies of Australia’s most important trading partners.

    “There are a number of factors but I think the most potent is this quite intense focus in the financial press on mining projects being cancelled or delayed,” Robert Rennie, Westpac chief currency strategist, said.

    “Then [European Central Bank president] Mario Draghi turned around overnight, in what was supposed to be a closed meeting, to say that the ECB could buy one-year, two-year, or even three-year bonds, and that there’s very little monetary financing effect at all in what they’re doing.”

    Mr Draghi’s comments were a sign that there are positive developments afoot in Europe, which weakens the case of those who believe the Australian dollar has become a haven, Mr Rennie said.

    “What’s the Australian dollar becoming a safe haven from? If it’s Europe, then why do you need a safe haven if Europe is about to address its issues?”

    Commonwealth Bank foreign exchange economist Peter Dragicevich said the focus on falls in commodity prices and global concerns about the Asian growth story, particularly China, were having an effect.

    “You’re also getting a lot of headlines about Australia’s capital expenditure story, and concerns about that. So I think the market sentiment is just a little bit negative,” Mr Dragicevich said.

    “[But] we don’t think the fall in the dollar is overly bearish. Our forecasts have been for the Aussie to be at $US1.03 by the end of September for a number of months, so we did expect it to come under some pressure.”

    Mr Draghi told the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament overnight that the ECB would not be breaking European Union law if it bought bonds from member states.

    His comments come just days before the ECB meets on Thursday.

    “There is a lot of expectation in the market ahead of the ECB meeting,” Mr Dragicevich said. “[Markets are hoping] the ECB will provide a lot of detail about what they plan to do, and how they plan to buy those bonds.”

    It comes as the Moody’s rating agency moved the EU’s triple-A credit onto a negative outlook overnight.

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


  2. Road to nowhere: NSW transport plan falls short

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    December 10, 2018 by admin

    A NEW plan for the state’stransport system confirms regional NSW needs new roads, bridges, buses and trainsbut fails to reveal when the projects will be rolled out or how they will befunded.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The draft plan, releasedtoday, has been largely devoted to strategies to alleviate congestion stranglingthe Sydney transport network.

    However, a small part of the 370-pageplan outlines future transport needs for growing regional cities, as well as thechallenges small towns will face to retain viable public transport services.

    Most metropolitan or regional projectsare listed as medium-to-long-term aspirations (list below), meaning they willnot be built for at least five or possibly up to 20 years from now.

    The report recommended thepreservation of land for the proposed Bells Line Expressway over the BlueMountains but stopped short of listing the project as even a long-termpriority.

    It also highlighted the needto replace dozens of timber bridges before roads could accommodate heavyfreight vehicles.

    A fund reserved for roadimprovement projects that would improve travel times and reliability has been floatedfor the Hunter region, the Central Coast and the Illawarra.

    In Sydney, the plan endorsedfour major motorway projects: the M5 East freeway expansion, the M4 extensionfeaturing a tunnel under the inner west, the F6 to the Sutherland Shire, andthe F3 to M2 link in northern Sydney. A second harbour rail crossing would be a‘long-term’ initiative.

    As for how projects would befunded, the plan advocates “efficient public sector operatingmodels”, “smarter project procurement”, “consideration ofthe benefits of more efficient road user charges” for trucks and motorwayusers, unspecified “value capture” from major transport investments,and “identifying future funding opportunities by working with NSW Treasury”.

    The draft NSW Long TermTransport Master Plan will be followed by a final plan in November. A separateplan, the State Infrastructure Strategy, will be presented to the governmentthis month by its advisory body, Infrastructure NSW. It is unclear how theplans will relate.

    Nearly 2.9 million people live in regional NSW.

    Each day, people in regional area make around 7.5 milliontrips – 90 per cent by car.

    Regional buses carry over 5.7 million passengers a yearwhile CountryLink transports about 1.9 million rail passengers a year.

    WHAT THE PLAN MEANS FOR YOUR AREA

    NORTHERN RIVERS

    Short-term

    Complete duplication of thePacific Highway and widening works and upgrades on the Bruxner Highway. Completethe Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor investigation.

    Medium-to-long-term

    Additional crossing of theClarence River at Grafton. Tabulam Bridge across the Clarence River identifiedfor replacement.

    MID-NORTH COAST

    Short-term

    Complete duplication of the Pacific Highway through theregion. Complete upgrades to sections of the Oxley Highway between PortMacquarie and Wauchope.

    Medium-to-long-term

    Bridge over Sportsman Creek Bridge at Lawrence upgraded. ConstructCoffs Harbour bypass.

    NEW ENGLAND

    Short-term

    Upgrade the New England Highway near Tamworth.Complete upgrades to New England Highway at Bolivia Hill south of Tenterfield. Additionalovertaking lanes on the Newell Highway. Complete pavement reconstruction of theNewell Highway between Narrabri and Moree. Deliver stage two of Moree Bypass. Planfor the Tenterfield bypass. Tulludunna Bridgeon the Kamilaroi Highway at Wee Waa and the Gunnedah rail bridge on the OxleyHighway at Gunnedah replaced. Replace the New Street Bridge over the rail lineat Gunnedah.

    HUNTER

    Short-term

    Upgrade link between the F3 Freeway/Hunter Expresswayinterchange and Broadmeadow in Newcastle.

    Medium-to-long-term

    Continue delivery of the Newcastle Inner City Bypass. Consider extending the F3 to Raymond Terrace.Consider best way to reduce the impacts of freight movements on Muswellbrook,Scone and Singleton. Plan for construction of strategic rail freight corridorat Fassifern and the Hexham rail bypass. Glennies Creek, Williams River andPatterson River bridges upgraded or replaced.

    CENTRAL WEST

    Short-term

    Upgrades to Newell Highway and Great Western Highway to addresscongestion in Blue Mountains, Bathurst and Orange. Complete study into theBells Line of Road and protect corridor. Construct a heavy vehicle bypass of WestWyalong.

    Medium-to-long-term

    McKanes Bridge over the Cox River and Warroo Bridgeacross the Lachlan River upgraded.

    ILLAWARRA

    Short-term

    Upgrades to the Princes Highway between Gerringong andBomaderry. Upgrades to Picton Road.

    Medium-to-long-term

    Investigate bypasses of Foxground and Berry.

    MURRUMBIDGEE

    Short-term

    Complete the remaining bypass at Holbrook.

    Medium-to-long-term

    Additional overtaking lanes and heavy vehicle rest areason Newell Highway, Sturt Highway and the Mid Western Highway. Improve walkingand cycling infrastructure in Wagga Wagga.Kapooka Bridge on the Olympic Highway replaced.Bridges at Tooleybuc over the Murray River and Swan Hill over the Wakool Riverreplaced or upgraded.


  3. Missing women met with foul play, coroner finds

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    December 10, 2018 by admin

    Two women with links to a house south-west of Sydney, who disappeared within days of each other in 1991, most likely met with foul play and are dead, a coroner has found.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The cases of Karen Gilbody, 30, and Valerie Howell, 41, have this morning been referred to the Unsolved Homicide Team after police investigating the case said there was insufficient evidence to charge the person of interest, Michael James Cook.

    Mr Cook has denied he had any involvement in the women’s deaths.

    Ms Gilbody was living in a de facto relationship with Mr Cook at 8 Avoca Street, Yagoona, when she went missing about July 1, 1991.

    At the Coroner’s Court in Glebe today, Deputy State Coroner Paul MacMahon said there was evidence Ms Gilbody planned to leave Mr Cook and this could have been the motive to harm her.

    Ms Gilbody was reported missing on July 3, her 30th birthday, when her brother and parents were unable to get in contact with her.

    She spoke to a girlfriend on June 30 and Mr Cook told police he last saw her on July 2, when she left their house to go on a holiday. He also said he spoke to her by phone on July 4.

    Ms Gilbody’s niece Renee told the court her aunt doted on her and her two brothers, and regularly rang and visited them. However, they had not had any contact with her since she was reported missing.

    “My grandparents have had to live with this for 21 years,” she said.

    Ms Howell visited the Avoca Street house with a female friend on July 3 to inspect some leather goods Mr Cook had for sale.

    Later that day, she told that friend Mr Cook had rung her and asked her to return to the house as the goods were ready to be collected.

    She has not been seen since. Her car was found doused in petrol but not set alight at Seven Hills 10 days later.

    Mr Cook told police he had rung Ms Howell but in fact told her the goods had been sold and not to come to the house.

    Mr MacMahon found Ms Gilbody died at or near Yagoona on or about July 1, 1991.

    Ms Howell, who was described as a “woman of independent means” died at or near Yagoona on or about July 3, 1991.

    Mr Cook remains a person of sufficient interest but police do not have enough evidence to charge him, Mr MacMahon said.

    In February last year, NSW Police announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the disappearance and suspected murders.

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


  4. Detective ‘fed answer’ to officer who fired fatal shot: inquiry

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    December 10, 2018 by admin

    The senior homicide detective who headed the investigation into the police shooting of mentally disturbed Sydney man Adam Salter has admitted that he asked a series of leading questions during a crucial interview with the officer who fired the fatal shot.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Detective Inspector Russell Oxford exonerated all officers involved in the 2009 shooting of Mr Salter, 36, finding that one of them had been under threat from the victim.

    The Deputy NSW Coroner later rejected these findings and described aspects of the investigation a “failure” and a “disgrace”.

    During the Police Integrity Commission hearing into the matter today, the commission was played a recorded “walk-through” interview, which Inspector Oxford conducted with the shooter, Sergeant Sheree Bissett, to re-enact what occurred.

    Inspector Oxford is seen to ask a series of leading questions on crucial aspects of the incident, including why Sergeant Bissett called “Taser, Taser, Taser” before pulling her Glock pistol and firing the fatal shot.

    “Even though you yelled ‘Taser, Taser, Taser’, there was no mistake that you were grabbing your pistol … You had decided that the pistol was the best option,” he said.

    After playing part of this interview to Inspector Oxford, counsel assisting the commission, Geoffrey Watson, SC, asked him: “Who was giving that evidence, you or the interviewee?”

    Inspector Oxford replied: “That would be me.”

    When questioned further, Inspector Oxford conceded that he “asked some leading questions a bit more than I should have”.

    Mr Watson said: “You saw the purpose of that interview as conforming to an idea you already formed – that the police were not guilty of any culpable act.”

    “No,” Inspector Oxford replied.

    The hearing continues

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


  5. Hunt launched for life-changing medical devices

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    December 10, 2018 by admin

    Devices of the calibre of the cochlear implant are being sought.Science guru and breakfast radio presenter Adam Spencer has described it as “The New Inventors meets The Apprentice meets ER”.
    Nanjing Night Net

    It may sound like the latest reality TV venture, but Spencer is referring to the new Medical Devices Fund being launched by the NSW government, with scientists, researchers and inventors invited to submit their ideas for new medical devices and technologies.

    The government has committed $8 million to the fund until the end of its first year in 2013 – with $5 million committed each year after that – in the hope of finding proposals for major medical innovations in line with past breakthroughs like the cochlear implant.

    Spencer, who will be part of an expert panel chaired by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, said the panel would be looking for innovations that could change the lives of patients and their families.

    “I plan to play devil’s advocate as the panel goes through the submissions, while being blown away by some of the very clever proposals I’m sure we will receive,” he said.

    Applications should support the development as well as the commercialisation of devices, which Spencer said provided a unique opportunity.

    “I’ve never met a researcher or scientist who said there’s many opportunities for this kind of stuff,” he said. “This is an opportunity for innovations that will make a genuine impact.”

    The NSW Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner, said the fund would allow individuals, public and private hospitals, medical research institutes, universities, other public-sector research organisations and the medical devices industry to take their innovations to a worldwide market.

    “I’ve been blessed to have been with families when their child’s cochlear implants were turned on for the first time,” she said.

    “It’s these kinds of life-changing innovations that we want to see created, developed and supported.”

    Project applications for the Medical Devices Fund will open today.

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


  6. Women’s fashion chain Ojay goes under

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    November 10, 2018 by admin

    In another blow to Australia’s already shaky fashion retail sector, women’s fashion chain Ojay has reportedly collapsed with David Coyne and Gideon Rathner of firm Lowe Lippmann appointed as administrators.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Only one day after figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed overall retail sales fell 0.8 per cent in July, the worst monthly result in more than two years, it is reported that Ojay has added its name to the string of recently failed retail businesses as shoppers continue to rein in their spending habits.

    Over the last 18 months the sector has been hit with a wave of high-profile retail collapses, especially in fashion, including Frat House, Brown Sugar, Grab Jeans, Bettina Liano, Satch Clothing, Ed Harry and Fletcher Jones. But fashion retailers have not been the only ones to struggle, with retailers such as bookshops Borders and Angus & Robertson and confectionary company Darrell Lea.

    Ojay was founded in 1976 and has 22 stores spread across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia as well as being sold in David Jones.

    It is unclear at this stage the depth of Ojay’s financial troubles. The future of its stores and the jobs of more than 100 employees remain uncertain. It is believed that Ojay embarked on a massive promotion and discount strategy this year to drum up sales but the push has not helped.

    Mr Coyne and Mr Rathner from Lowe Lippmann were unavailable for comment.

    Ojay’s Facebook site has no mention of the store’s demise, with its last entry on August 31 celebrating the fashion style of Australian actor Asher Keddie.

    “We’ve been admiring the stunning Asher Keddie who is reminding us that suits aren’t only for work days.”

    The chain’s Twitter account has not been active since August 30.

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


  7. NAB ‘warned’ of toxic investments

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    November 10, 2018 by admin

    The banking regulator repeatedly warned the NAB that its treatment of a bundle of toxic subprime investments was inadequate, a court has heard.
    Nanjing Night Net

    As the global financial crisis hit in 2008, NAB was forced to write down the value of the parcel of collateralised debt obligations twice in the space of three months, taking a $1 billion hit to its bottom line.

    An affidavit tendered to the Victorian Supreme Court this morning in a class action brought by NAB shareholders shows that APRA raised concerns about NAB’s treatment of the CDOs in January 2008.

    NAB took first a write-down of $181 million against the CDOs in May that year, followed by a second provision of $830 million in July 2008 that sent its share price plummeting.

    The affidavit, sworn by solicitor Andrew Watson of Maurice Blackburn, which is acting for the shareholders, includes extensive excerpts from internal bank emails about its dealings with the regulator.

    In February 2008, APRA told NAB it had “failed in our basic credit credit analysis” of the CDOs, according to an email sent to bank staff by group chief risk officer Michael Hamar.

    At a meeting with the bank, APRA officer Graham Johnson said the NAB had also been “almost totally reliant on ratings and on managers’ reports”, Mr Hamar said.

    “He does not believe there has been adequate fundamental analysis on the underlying individual securities.”

    The chief executive officer of wholesale banking division nabCapital, John Hooper, told staff there had been four discussions with APRA about the CDOs, also known as “conduits”, in the space of one week in early February.

    “From these meetings it was clear that APRA felt we had been slow on recognising provisions against conduit assets,” Mr Hooper said in an email to other nabCapital staff.

    During a teleconference later that month Mr Johnson told NAB its credit files on the CDOs “appear to lack extensive evidence of independent validation or review” by the bank, instead relying on information provided by credit ratings agencies and the group that arranged the deal.

    And in March Mr Johnson sent an email to nabCapital executive Geoff Cullen setting out APRA’s “primary areas of interest/concern in relation to the conduit exposures”.

    He again complained about NAB’s reliance on third parties, including ratings agencies, to assess the creditworthiness of the CDOs, and raised concerns ratings had not been adjusted quickly enough as the market turned.

    APRA this morning asked the court to set aside a subpoena forcing it to produce records of its dealings with NAB over the CDOs, saying secrecy provisions in the APRA Act made it a crime to do so.

    “You cannot answer the subpoena without the commission of an offence,” counsel for APRA Richard Niall, SC, told the court.

    However, counsel for the shareholders, Michael Lee, SC, said APRA could authorise its staff to release the information.

    “The notion my learned friend has advanced that APRA is somehow a locked box, a black box… is just wrong,” he told the court.

    Justice Tony Pagone has yet to decide whether the subpoena should be set aside.

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


  8. Bargain drops are winners by a nose

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    November 10, 2018 by admin

    RALPH KYTE-POWELL
    Nanjing Night Net

    TWO hundred dollars to spend on wine. What would most of us aim to get out of our 200 smackers? Weird and wonderful wines, perhaps made from semi-dried strogolone grapes grown at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, aged in old horse troughs by a one-eyed Neapolitan astrologer? Not likely. Wines to show off to our tossy friends? Why bother? Wines that tell a story about a hot young winemaking star? Hardly. What most people want are bargains, and plenty of ’em.

    Even people who buy Penfolds Grange or French burgundy are allergic to paying top dollar for their plonk. So I set out to spend my $200 on bargains. I scouted various retailers to put a dozen wines together that I reckon over-deliver in quality without crippling the budget.

    At the full recommended retail price, these wines are great value; most were on special at the time of writing, making them a steal.

    Buying by the dozen or half dozen can sometimes knock a few more dollars off, so it’s worth asking. My budget allows me to buy four each of these bottles:

    Mike Press Adelaide Hills Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011

    Single-vineyard cool-climate chardonnay never came so inexpensive. This is an elegant, subtle, unoaked wine with refined melony varietal personality, good texture and a long, fine finish. Lovely unfussed drinking. $11 at City Wine Shop, city.

    McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2011

    This Hunter Valley wine has it all: historic pedigree, classical regional style, drinkability in youth, amazing ageworthiness – and all at a bargain price. Lemony and bracing now with the promise of toasty complexity in the years ahead. $12.99 (usually $18) at Dan Murphy’s.

    Tahbilk Marsanne 2011

    Forgive the repetition, but this Nagambie Lakes white wine has it all too: pedigree, classical style, drinkability, ageworthiness, low price. Floral, honeyed, citrusy, light yet intense. Spring-like and pure, it will be rich and complex with time. $12.99 (usually $18.65) at Boccaccio Cellars, Balwyn.

    Dopff au Moulin Riesling 2010

    Right at the exotic end of the riesling spectrum, Dopff from France’s Alsace region is an exclusive import of Dan Murphy’s. Expect to pay $25-plus for similar wines from other producers. Lush, rich, slightly fruit-sweet, dry finishing, with a luxurious feel far beyond its price tag. $13.60 at Dan Murphy’s.

    De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir 2011

    A remarkable transformation has taken place in Australian pinot noir in the past decade or so. Once, any pinot worth the name cost plenty, and cheaper versions were a waste of space. Not any more. Windy Peak delivers some of the lyrical magic that makes this mysterious red grape so addictive. $11.99, or $9.99 by the dozen (usually $14), at Nillumbik Cellars, Diamond Creek.

    JENI PORT

    HOW much wine can you buy for $200? Clearly, a lot; more than a dozen – and possibly two dozen – bottles. But are you after quantity or quality? These kinds of wines aren’t necessarily bargains, just cheap. A bargain is a wine that you have some experience of at a price that’s less than what you usually pay. You have to know what you are buying first, so taste the wine or buy a bottle and taste it and only then go back for the dozen. That’s buying wisely.

    Get to know your wine source. Wine clubs support their members with not only good prices but aged releases and one-offs. Supermarkets slash prices because of the quantities they buy, but they are increasingly bringing in their own brands with little or no wine-drinking history. Be aware. Some, such as Dan Murphy’s, buy and age well-known brands in excellent storage conditions.

    Keep in mind, provenance can be vitally important.

    Independent retailers pride themselves on wines from smaller producers, but bargains can still be found. Don’t make assumptions.

    Finally, seeking out a good price should not come at the cost of loyalty. I am still buying and enjoying wines from the same producers I was buying from 10 or 20 years ago. I have been watching their prices, the change of vintages, etc. My appreciation of those wines remains because I can see the continuation of quality at a fair price.

    I don’t tend to chop and change, constantly chasing down bargain prices. Is it a fair price for the quality or not? A wine drinker builds an in-built bargain-meter of their own over time. Here’s how I would spend it wisely on wines to drink right now: 

    Penfolds Reserve Bin 2005 Aged Release Riesling

    Penfolds once considered Eden Valley riesling as a possible ”White Grange” (chardonnay eventually got the gig) and it’s easy to see why in this fabulous aged release available under Dan Murphy’s excellent cellar-release program. $32.99 at Dan Murphy’s.

    All Saints Estate Family Reserve Marsanne 2010

    All Saints is kicking big goals with its sophisticated interpretation of this underrated Rhone Valley grape. Pretty jasmine scent, spring flowers with signature honeysuckle to the fore, balanced acidity. $30 from allsaintswine南京夜网.au. Also at Prince Wine Store, Burwood Cellars and Barrique Wine Store, Healesville.

    Le Sorelle di Suavia Soave

    A little charmer, Le Sorelle brings a touch of summer to a cold winter’s day with its bright fruit intensity. Italian soave is never loud and this wine, with crisp apple, stone-fruit and a touch of almond, is terrific.$14.99 at Vintage Cellars and 1st Choice Liquor, which import it direct. 

    Pleno Tempranillo 2010

    Here’s your tapas – or pizza – wine. Strong, solid fruit, rounded easy approachability all for less than $20 a bottle. A no-fuss style with plenty of black-cherry spice, this tempranillo hails from Navarra, Spain. Love the generous middle palate. $16.50 at Blackhearts & Sparrows, Armadale Cellars and the importer, Randall’s, Geelong.

    Campbells 2010: The Sixties Block

    The list of ingredients is long and mixed – shiraz, tempranillo, graciano, tinta cao, souzao, carignan – but together they rock. Made in small quantities, distribution is mainly limited to cellar door or wine club customers. $28 at Cellarbrations, Elwood and Majestic Cellars, Mount Eliza.

    Dowie Doole G&T Garnacha/Tempranillo 2011

    Super-friendly red from McLaren Vale with a Spanish kick; the grapes are the star here: generous, juicy black and red fruits, discreet tannins, oak not for the sake of it. $25 from the Dowie Doole website (dowiedoole南京夜网); a discount can apply.

    Clarence Plains JV Pinot Noir 2011

    You want a wine ”bargain” to shed the dollars, right? Online retailer The Pinot Shop does just that with the Clarence Plains 2011 Tassie pinot, dropping the price from $25.50 to $23 a bottle. Off young vines, it’s boisterous in redcurrant, cherry fruit. Tasty and pleasing. $23 (usually $25.50) at www.pinotshop南京夜网 

    Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling 2011, 375ml

    Got to have a sweetie in your $200 wine basket and this consistent performer from the Clare Valley is always top value. Recently took out the trophy for top Aussie sweet riesling at the 2012 International Wine Challenge, no doubt aided by a little botrytis – a first for the style – to add complexity. $30 from the online cellar door at mounthorrocks南京夜网

    CATHY GOWDIE

    NOT everyone has a sexy independent bottle shop at the end of the street. In regional Victoria, the local pub or supermarket selection may be as good as it gets.

    For me, getting to a big booze barn with a wider range means a 30-kilometre round trip. Because I come from a winemaking family, it also means feeling like a Presbyterian aunt on an illicit visit to the pokies: it’s fun and cheap, but I know some of those discounts come from putting the pinch on producers.

    Still, the deals are hard to go past.

    On the upside, I live in a winegrowing area. The best wines from top-rated wineries often come at special-occasion prices. But many such wineries, in my region and others, offer “second labels”.

    These are like cheaper rooms at luxury hotels: no personal butler, but there’s the aesthetic and attention to detail you’d expect at higher prices. Plus, cellar doors let you try before you buy.

    Here’s how I spent $200 locally on a weekday afternoon. 

    McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2011

    A perennial class act from the Hunter, widely available and known for cellaring beautifully. Opened now, it smells of fresh straw and has a racy, lemony finish. $16.99 at Ritchies IGA, Dromana. 

    Taylors Estate Chardonnay 2010

    From South Australia’s Clare region, another wine you can find almost anywhere: nicely balanced mainstream chardonnay if you’re after a traditional Aussie style with peachy flavours and simple oak. $15.99 (special) at Ritchies IGA, Dromana.

    Pewsey Vale Riesling 2011

    Pristine, floral, citrusy – I’d pay $20 or more for this lovely wine from South Australia’s Eden region. At $15, I grab two. $15 (special), 1st Choice, Mornington.

    Houghton White Classic 2011

    The label is vague about varieties and region, simply saying “Western Australia”, but I’m reassured by a silver medal from a decent wine show. Aromatic with a whiff of passionfruit; some sweetness on the finish makes it best drunk pretty cold. Google suggests the blend might include chenin blanc, chardonnay, verdelho, riesling and semillon. $9 at 1st Choice. 

    Dal Zotto Pucino Prosecco

    Junior sibling to this King Valley winery’s flagship prosecco, the Pucino is crisp and zesty with a hint of apple; a lively, inviting aperitif. $22, 1st Choice. 

    Cattier Brut Premier Cru

    Fine-beaded and smelling of vanilla french toast, this champagne has been known to beat bigger names in blind tastings. Sold through retailers owned by the Coles group. $40 at 1st Choice. 

    Yabby Lake Red Claw Pinot Noir 2010

    Pinot noir is the Mornington Peninsula’s star variety, notoriously fiddly to grow. Plus, it likes time maturing in expensive French oak barrels. Yabby Lake’s entry-level version is plummy and mouth-filling. For the same price Red Claw chardonnay 2010 is clean, elegant and complex, with discreet oak. $22.50 at Yabby Lake, Tuerong. 

    Quealy Balnarring Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

    Chardonnay is another variety this region does well: this is unoaked, in a fresh, modern style, creamy and textured, but with a clean finish. $20 at Quealy Wines, Balnarring. 

    Montalto – Pennon Hill Melange Blanc 2010

    Single-variety wines are in vogue and single-vineyard wines often priced at a premium, so blends of different grapes from different locations sometimes come cheaper. This “melange” of peninsula-grown pinot gris, riesling and muscat tastes minerally and floral, almost Italian – a reminder that clever blending can make good drinking. $23 at Montalto, Red Hill South.

    Buying smart

    ■ Join a winery mailing list or wine club. Some offer a rewards scheme (eg, All Saints Estate), or maybe great bin ends or experimental, small-batch wines not commercially available.

    ■ If you are buying wines online, check delivery costs; they do vary. Many offer free delivery with a dozen bottles or more ordered.

    ■ Attend winemaker dinners or tastings in-store. Often wine bought on the day or night will come with a discount.

    ■ Don’t buy on impulse. If you can, try before you buy, especially when buying by the half dozen or more.

    ■ The more expensive wines don’t necessarily offer the better value. Don’t get seduced by hype. Are you buying to impress or to enjoy?

    ■ If you have a Costco membership, don’t forget to check out the wine section, where some of Melbourne’s better wine discounts can be found, especially champagne.

    ■ Look to wines imported direct by retailers, thus avoiding the middleman. Savings can be between 25 per cent and 40 per cent.

    ■ The big supermarket chains buy some bigger production wines in quantities that bring extra value to the $25 and less price point.

    ■ Check out companies that offer wine en primeur – buy now, pick up on release.

    ■ Follow Epicure’s wine coverage to keep in touch with retailers taking a slasher to their prices.

     

    Cathy Gowdie is co-owner of a Mornington Peninsula vineyard.

    Price guides listed here were correct at time of writing but might vary.

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


  9. Public transport: you have to love it

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    November 10, 2018 by admin

    The stares are a dead giveaway. Not many Westerners get on this bus. Probably with good reason, too.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Seven or eight sets of eyes widen sharply and lock themselves upon us as we lug our bags up the grimy stairs and start looking for a place to perch for the next few hours. Among the staring eyes are plenty of places to sit on the plastic-covered benches of varying colours.

    “Sit!” the driver shrieks. “Anywhere!” He’s shrieking to make himself heard above the Bollywood music booming from the dodgy old stereo perched on his dashboard.

    At least there’s plenty of space. It’s a big bus with not many people aboard, so we sling our packs onto sticky velour, take the seats next to them and settle in among the staring eyes and the smell of motor oil and the sound of Bollywood.

    It’s hard to know how long we’ll be sitting here. Officially, the journey from Chennai to Mamallapuram takes three hours, but time is elastic in this place, dependent as it is on traffic and mechanics and good fortune and the whim of the thousands of gods who are in charge.

    One of those gods, Ganesha, sits on the dashboard next to the stereo, so at least we can assume he’s on our side. There’s a crack in the windscreen in front of him but no one seems concerned. It’s also about 40 degrees in here, so it’s a relief when the driver lets out the brake and eases us on to one of Chennai’s teeming streets, and the sticky air flows through the open windows.

    Public transport: you have to love it. You can’t seriously say you’ve experienced a place until you’ve sampled the public transport. It’s like a diorama of the city it services, a visitor’s introduction to real life. Japan is the bullet train. London is a red double-decker bus. New York is the subway.

    You can have some memorable experiences on public transport. And for some reason it seems that the more scungy the vessel, the more interesting the experience. Trains in Switzerland are boring. Rusty buses filled with chickens in Ghana are awesome.

    This bus, the one that’s making achingly slow progress through Chennai, is a riot. It started the journey basically empty but in the past half-hour has become more and more crowded, to the point where my backpack has gone from occupying its own slice of colourful velour to occupying my lap. The seven or eight sets of staring eyes have become about 50 sets of staring eyes.

    Outside is just as crazy. There’s a temple in the dead centre of a busy road. You know it’s a temple because there’s a street sign in front of it bearing a huge exclamation mark and the word “Temple”. Handy. The bus swerves around it, Bollywood still blasting, and almost crashes into a cow. It’s not amused.

    There’s a tap on my back. I look around and into one of those sets of staring eyes. “Excuse me,” the guy sitting behind me says. “What is your country?”

    That’s a standard question around here. “Australia.”

    “Oh,” he beams. “Ricky Ponting.”

    That’s a standard reaction around here. “Yep.”

    He looks around to the guy sitting next to him and nods, pointing at me. “Ricky Ponting.”

    It’s been at least two hours and we’re still making our way through the knotted streets of Chennai, seemingly no closer to Mamallapuram, the small town south of Tamil Nadu’s capital. The crowd around me ebbs and flows, a non-stop parade of all walks of Indian life boarding and leaving our rattling old bus.

    Eventually, we grind to a halt and I look at the driver. “Mamallapuram?” He just shakes his head and jumps onto the street.

    The guy behind me taps me on the shoulder again. “It is a breakdown. You should get off now.”

    And so we all pile off our old clunker, taking shade in a small storefront while about a million Indians crowd around the engine and speculate. Time, once again, is elastic. We could be here for hours under the corrugated-iron roof waiting for our bus to fire back into life.

    Soon the crowd around the engine dissipates and huge sacks of vegetables are unloaded from the roof. Passengers start looking for another bus to flag down. The legendary Indian patience is waning.

    The Ricky Ponting fan strolls over to our perch, jabbing a finger at the busy highway.

    “It’s time to get another bus. Come on, I can help you.”

    And he does. Pretty soon another creaky old bus has pulled up next to us, sacks of vegetables are loaded onto the roof and everyone scrambles aboard looking to claim a seat on the colourful, plastic-covered benches.

    There’s more Bollywood music blaring from the stereo and more staring eyes. Not many Westerners get on this bus. Probably with good reason, too.

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    Have you ever had any memorable public transport experiences while travelling? Post a comment and share your stories below.

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


  10. Transport plan long on hope, light on detail

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    November 10, 2018 by admin

    Four new motorways Second harbour rail crossingLong Term Transport Plan
    Nanjing Night Net

    Four new motorways through Sydney and a second rail crossing for Sydney Harbour are the centrepiece projects in the O’Farrell government’s draft transport master plan, released this morning.

    But the plan does not specify starting times for any of the projects, some of which have been mooted for decades, and fails to detail how they will be paid for.

    The Premier, Barry O’Farrell, the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, and the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, will discuss the draft transport master plan at a press conference after midday, which will be streamed live on smh南京夜网.au.

    The draft plan, already available at this website, precedes a final transport masterplan to be released in November. 

    But the draft, which runs to 370 pages and has been in development for more than a year, offers little detail on when desperately needed projects will start and how they will be built and paid for.

    It breaks initiatives into short term (up to five years), medium term (five-10 years) and longer term (10-20 years).

    The four motorway projects it endorses are the M5 East freeway expansion, the M4 extension featuring a tunnel under the inner west, the F6 to the Sutherland Shire, and the F3 to M2 link in northern Sydney.

    A second harbour rail crossing would be a “long-term” initiative.

    It would follow the completion of the North West Rail Link to Rouse Hill.

    The plan also discusses light rail through Sydney’s CBD and into the eastern Suburbs, but does not commit to it.

    And as for how projects will be funded, the plan advocates “efficient public sector operating models”, “smarter project procurement”, “consideration of the benefits of more efficient road user charges” for trucks and motorway users, unspecified “value capture” from major transport investments, and “identifying future funding opportunities by working with NSW Treasury.”

    More to come

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