Archive for: ‘July 2019’

Oil price plunge sends petrol to four-year lows as Australia feels it at the pumps

17/07/2019 Posted by admin

A significant recovery in oil prices doesn’t look on the cards in the near term. Petrol in free-fall. It’s never been a better time to fill up.

The spectacular fall in oil prices over 2014 is slowly trickling down to motorists, with the average retail price of unleaded petrol falling to a four-year low, CommSec says.

The price of Brent crude oil has slumped close to 40 per cent this year, as oil producing countries refuse to cut production output targets amid a global supply glut. In December alone, the oil price has dropped 14.7 per cent.

Figures from the Australia Institute of Petroleum showed that the national average Australian petrol price fell by 4¢ to $1.284 per litre. According to CommSec, the fall in petrol prices over the last month has been the biggest monthly decline in six years, with fuel now at a four-year low. The national average wholesale price was $1.144.

In the week to January 5, 2014, the national retail average for unleaded petrol was $1.587. It has now fallen 19.3 per cent. The wholesale price in the same period has dipped 22.9 per cent.

The margin on retail fuel prices has actually increased during a time when the oil price has fallen close to 40 per cent. The difference between wholesale and retail prices in January was 9.8¢, but is now 14¢.

In the week to December 21, average retail prices in Sydney were $1.212, Canberra was $1.443m Brisbane was $1.27, Adelaide $1.162, Perth  $1.254m, Darwin  $1.487 and Hobart  1.427.

A significant recovery in oil prices doesn’t look on the cards in the near term, with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, again ruling out production cuts over the weekend.

“If they want to cut production they are welcome: we are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut,” Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said.

With more competing sources of oil from outside OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries), especially from US shale, the battle of market share is pressuring prices.

Without OPEC intervention the market risks further imbalances.

Last week, Morgan Stanley cut their base case forecast for Brent crude next year from $US98 a barrel to $US70 per barrel. In its bear scenario, it saw oil hitting as low as $US43 per barrel.

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The Tabcorp v TVN stoush explained

17/07/2019 Posted by admin

While the sheer mention of the Tabcorp-TVN dispute has the potential to glaze over the eyes of even the most interested of racegoers, the unrest caused by the breakdown of negotiations could have far wider ramifications than just whether race meetings are broadcast live or not.

Last Thursday Tabcorp on behalf of Sky Racing walked away from the negotiating table in a strategic move leaving TVN to find another buyer for its rights. It had taken two long years to reach this offical stalemate.

The history of the complex deal harks back to 2006 when key racing administrators in Sydney and Melbourne were determined to claw back their rights from Sky Channel and establish their own production network and then onsell those rights to Sky Racing.

However what the industry has learnt is that independence comes at a cost. And that cost has been felt on many levels.

TVN has splurged millions of dollars on consultants and advisers, one of whom received $10,000 a month for six years, with his role being little more than to call in once a month to chat with staff.

Sky Channel are aware they are the only suitor in the market that requires racing vision rights. So they left the table last Thursday without the rights, or digital platforms, content that TVN had nowhere else to sell anyway.

The finger of blame for the lack of live TV coverage from Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday has been pointed at the Victorian clubs that have the rights.

The Melbourne Race Club, the Moonee Valley Racing Club, VRC, and country Racing Victoria are the owners of vision and media rights in this state.

Racing Victoria, meanwhile, are the supposed governing body of racing but in reality control the stewards and little more. It is a ludicrous structure that is completely at odds with other sporting bodies.

AFL, NRL, cricket, swimming, athletics and even harness racing and greyhounds have an overriding body that speaks on behalf of everyone in that sport.

The rights clearly should be held by the governing body but the clubs have given that idea the thumbs down, maintaining that losing the rights would undermine their power.

As things stand, even TVN chief Bruce Mann concedes that there is only one bidder for the rights, with suggestions Channel Seven and Foxtel were interested in stepping in believed to be wide of the mark. That possibility was raised by Fairfax Media last week, but NSW race club, the Australian Turf Club, is fiercely against that plan.

It seems there is as much chance of Seven and Foxtel taking hold of the rights as there is of next year’s Championships being staged on the Crookwell picnic race track.

There are some anti-Tabcorp protagonists in the upper echelons of Victorian racing who believe “the lucky shop” has too much say and too much clout and looms as a bully across Victoria and NSW.

However a lot of the executives who dislike Tabcorp need to realise that Australia’s biggest wagering arm puts food on the table for the industry.

A cheque is deposited for $250 million each season from the TAB to keep racing in the lofty lifestyle it enjoys.

And there are those who maintain TVN should become a small-time production house, because in effect racing in Victoria and NSW are paying $14 million for the privilege of having their own “independent” operation.

There is also the steadily growing debt from the purchase of newpapers Winning Post and Best Bets for $15 million to consider.

Inside Racing, the long-time industry publication in Victoria, also faces an uncertain future after its contract with Slattery Media expires.

In the coming weeks Sky Racing and TVN will no doubt find another short-term solution that papers over the cracks, largely because of pressure from state governments who are watching the situation closely.

And if Racing Victoria fails to wrestle back the rights back from the clubs, RVL will also come under pressure.

RVL currently pays a group of the most astute racing minds in the world to oversee racing in this state but at the end of the day the clubs decide on most facets of horse racing. And there are three of them, all squabbling over their patch.

One interstate observer said these clubs should only make sure the beer is cold and the pies are hot and let those better qualified run racing.

If RVL can take the vision and media rights back, and subsequently could stop NSW Racing from walking away from the TVN deal, they will solve several problems and walk tall and with some authority.

If not, and Racing NSW understandably believes two years is more than enough time to broker a deal and look to Tabcorp for a direct resolution, all bets will be off and so will the gloves. All in the name of so-called independence.

Mug’s guide to the TVN-TABCorp stoush

What are the sticking points? The dispute is broadly over the rights to broadcast NSW and Victorian vision domestically on pay TV and in pubs and clubs, internationally and on digital channels. Tabcorp are willing to pay $30 million a year for the rights on a long-term deal and TVN wants $40 million on a short-term deal.

Who owns Sky and TVN? SKY Racing is owned by Tabcorp and TVN is owned 50 per cent by the Australian Turf Club, which is the NSW racing club, with the other 50 per cent split between the three Melbourne race clubs and Country Racing Victoria

What is the history? Sky’s right to broadcast NSW and Victorian racing expired on December 17, but the standoff has been going on for two years.

What’s been the result for viewers? Since Saturday, Sky has been unable to broadcast NSW and Victorian racing, resulting in TVN having to modify its coverage to incorporate the NSW and Victorian country meetings. In terms of hotels and clubs, TVN facilitated its vision to go into those which have Foxtel. However, many venues, particularly in country areas do not have Foxtel and therefore were not able to access the vision. Sky sought to facilitate a solution using its infrastructure that would get the vision to all venues, however this was blocked by TVN and therefore many country pubs and clubs did not show NSW or VIC racing last Saturday. TVN will again have a wall-to-wall coverage of the NSW and VIC meetings on Boxing Day.

Can this be sorted out? Tabcorp appear to hold most of the aces and the best hope would appear to be Racing Victoria wresting control of the media rights from the three race clubs and dealing directly with the wagering company.

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Sydney Thunder not getting carried away despite impressive win, says Gurinder Sandhu

17/07/2019 Posted by admin

Sydney Thunder vs Brisbane Heat: As it happened

The Sydney Thunder dominated the Brisbane Heat in the best Thunder performance in over three seasons of Big Bash action. But fast bowler Gurinder Sandhu says this does not mean it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the tournament.

For Sandhu the season will be won on weekly performances.  “It was a great win,” Sandhu said. “We’re feeling good at the moment getting a good win out of the way and hopefully we have another good couple of training sessions this week and get another win against the Sixers and then we’ll keep going from there.”

After three seasons of heartache for the fans in lime green watching their side succumb to the wooden spoon in all three years, the perennial Big Bash underachievers finally gave their supporters reason to cheer on Sunday night.

They cruised to a 56-run victory over the Heat after a 160-run opening stand from Thunder veterans Mike Hussey and Jacques Kallis. They scored the bulk of an extremely competitive 208-run total, the equal fouth-highest total in Big Bash history.

“It was nice to watch Jacques and Huss get a few runs at the top of the order,” Sandhu said. “It was good just relaxing out on the bench, watching the show. It’s always good to get a few wickets and contribute to the win.”

On Saturday night the Thunder side go into battle with cross-town rivals the Sydney Sixers. “I think it will be a great game, the Sydney derby,” Sandhu said. “You know it could be anyone’s day on the day, so we just have to turn up and go through the processes and do our thing and hopefully we can come away with the result. Hopefully we can get them out early and go from there.”

Former Proteas all-rounder Kallis is the first player to hit 10,000 runs and take 200 wickets in both Tests and ODI matches – and although he has not had the chance yet, Sandhu is looking forward to picking the brains of the all-rounder.

“Haven’t learnt much from Jacques at the moment because I haven’t had a chance to talk to him much yet,” he said.

“Hopefully the next few sessions, I get in and ask him about batting and how he bats and, obviously he’s an all-rounder, so ask him about bowling as well.”

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Longreach restaurant in trouble for anti-Islamic sign

17/07/2019 Posted by admin

A Longreach restaurant placed a sign reading “Sorry No Muslims” outside its front doors. Photo: Helen DayA Longreach restaurant that placed a sign reading “Sorry No Muslims” outside its front doors has caused consternation on social media.

Local Helen Day posted pictures of the chalkboard outside the Eagle’s Nest Bar and Grill on its Facebook review page last Friday.

“Just a bit surprised to see the sign up [reading] ‘Sorry No Muslims’ … what’s that about?” Ms Day wrote.

“I certainly won’t be going into a place where my Muslim friends are not welcome!”

The full handwritten message on the sign read “2000 years ago Jesus Christ made headlines turning water into wine…the tradition continues…We turn money into beer [Sorry No Muslims].”

Ms Day’s pictures were reposted by Facebook group Boycott Halal in Australia? No Way, and a moderator for that group told Brisbane Times the image had since been shared widely.

“Our page has only been going three weeks and we had a ‘Total Reach’ of up to 7,000 people,” the moderator said.

“We put the story up a day and a half ago and are now reaching almost 80,000 people and rising, because of that one post.”

Anti-Islamic sentiment has risen in Australia since last week’s Sydney cafe siege, with movements like #illridewithyou acting as a counter argument.

Comments on the Eagle’s Nest Bar and Grill’s Facebook page have ranged from outraged to unapologetic.

The moderator of the page, who wished to remain anonymous, said some Facebook groups were trying to shut it own, or making comments such as Islam forbids alcohol consumption anyway so it shouldn’t matter if Muslims can’t enter a bar.

“We’ve been deleting disgusting and hateful posts from members of the Australian Defence League, Australian Brotherhood, Boycott Halal in Australia and lots of other anti-Muslim pages since we put up the post,” the moderator said.

A Longreach Regional Council spokesman confirmed a verbal complaint had been received.

He said they were seeking more information about the sign and would consider an investigation, or referring the matter to the appropriate body.

The spokesman said the operator of the Eagle’s Nest had a history of writing quirky, tongue-in-cheek slogans on his chalkboard that changed daily.

A spokeswoman for the Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland said it had not yet received any formal complaints about the sign.

“I understand the Australian Human Rights Commission has received some enquiries about it and they have referred the enquirers to us,” she said.

“So it may just be a matter of time.”

However, the spokeswoman said under the legal definition of religious discrimination, the complaint would have to come from someone directly affected.

“Therefore if there was a Muslim person in Longreach who wanted to obtain the goods and services from Eagle’s Nest Bar and Grill but couldn’t because they didn’t serve Muslims, then that person could make a complaint to the ADCQ,” she said.

The Eagle’s Nest restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and calls to the owners’ home went unanswered.

The moderator of the Boycott Halal in Australia? No Way Facebook group said they should own up to writing the message.

“If they would only apologise and say they made a mistake, we’d be the first to publicise that. I wish they’d just clear it up so we can all move on,” they said.

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Cairns tragedy: Police and emergency responders offered counselling

17/07/2019 Posted by admin

State Emergency Service volunteers on the scene. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images Police on the scene of the mass killing in Cairns. Photo: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Police and emergency services personnel meet on Monday in the aftermath of the killing of eight children in Cairns. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Mother charged with eight counts of murder: courtCairns house to become memorialPublic mourning: a brief history

The outpouring of grief in the wake of last week’s alleged murder of eight children in Cairns has been laid bare for all to see.

However, the police and emergency responders who were there in the initial aftermath of the deaths and the subsequent events have shown a calm resilience.

But Deputy Police Commissioner Brett Pointing said, underneath that stoicism, those responders would all eventually have to face the sad reality of the situation.

The bodies of eight children – four girls, aged two, 11, 12 and 14, and four boys aged five, six, eight and nine – were killed in the west Cairns suburb on Manoora on Friday morning.

Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, the mother of seven of them and the aunty of the 14-year-old girl, has been charged with their murder.

Ms Thaiday, 37, also known as Mersane Warria, remains under police guard in the Cairns Base Hospital recovering from knife wounds.

Mr Pointing flew from Brisbane to Cairns on Monday to debrief emergency responders at the city’s main police station.

Those responders included police officers, State Emergency Service volunteers and police liaison officers.

Mr Pointing said even the most hardened officers would have been unprepared for the scene that awaited them at 34 Murray Street, Manoora.

“I don’t think you can ever prepare someone for a job of this magnitude,” he said.

“We do see a lot through our careers, but this one is really up there with some of the worst events that our people have been subject to.

“Young children that have had their lives cut short I think resonates with everyone and I don’t know how you can prepare people for that.”

Mr Pointing said while police were by nature resilient, they were “not bullet-proof” and would bear the scars of the horrific events in Cairns.

“I think, like everyone, they’re asking those big questions – ‘why?’,” he said.

“How could this happen?

“Police are only human. They have families themselves and whilst they are incredibly resilient, we’re going to work with them very, very closely to make sure they get through this in good shape as well.

“It’s happened at the worst time. It’s a time when all of us should be celebrating family, should be taking advantage of the school holidays and spending time with their kids.

“They should be celebrating each others’ company and celebrating life, not grieving the loss of life.”

Mr Pointing said the effort from everyone involved in the investigation had been “nothing short of phenomenal” in incredibly trying circumstances.

“I think we all know police and emergency services workers, as part of their job, see things from time to time that no human being should have to see and they do things that no human being should have to do,” he said.

Mr Pointing said the last three days had “felt like three weeks” for many involved in the investigation.

“It almost feels like it’s been unrolling in slow motion,” he said.

“So much has happened in the last three days and when you walk amongst the police you see they’re tired and many of them have put up an incredible effort over the last three days.”

Mr Pointing said there were internal mechanisms to support police, but acknowledged that might not be enough.

“We do tell our people – and this is very important – that whilst you can have all the support mechanisms, the greatest support comes from family and friends,” he said.

“We’ll be encouraging that to take place over the coming days, weeks and months.”

Mr Pointing said police would work with the local community to assist locals going through the grieving and healing process.

Acting Premier Tim Nicholls said more than 220 police had been involved in the case, many of whom had come from other cities to assist.

“Ambulance officers were among the first responders and we thank them for the caring way they have carried out their work,” he said.

“There are also numerous social service organisations at work in the community, from the Salvation Army keeping the barbecue going at the drop-in centre, to other church groups, Uniting Care Community and our own Department of Communities staff.

“They have all played a vital role and I want to offer them my heartfelt thanks.”

People in distress can telephone Lifeline on 13 14 11.

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