Monthly Archives: December 2018

Chris Waller among big spenders at Tattersalls Horses in Training Sale

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Big spender: Cox Plate-winning trainer Chris Waller was active at the Tattersalls horses-in-training sale. Photo: Tertius PickardWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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n buyers came to the fore at the first two sessions of the Tattersalls Autumn Horses in Training sale in England earlier this week with the three top-priced gallopers all destined for careers in Sydney and Melbourne.

The top-priced lot on the opening day was Prospector purchased by Grant Pritchard-Gordon, who declared the winner of three races was bound, but wouldn’t confirm the identity of his client.

Pritchard-Gordon made the opening bid of 240,000 guineas for Prospector, which was to prove a winning move. The agent revealed he had adopted this sale-ring tactic successfully in the past.

The colt was initially purchased by Coolmore for £1.4 million ($3 million) as a yearling. He is a half-brother to one of their successful shuttle stallions Mastercraftsman.

“Prospector has a profile of a very nice staying horse who should be suited to racing in .” Pritchard-Gordon said.

Chris Waller’s bloodstock agent Guy Mulcaster bought three horses on day one but had to settle as the under bidder on the second-highest lot, Red Galileo.

Ed Dunlop ended up paying 155,000 guineas for Red Galileo who is Dubai bound, with the Mulcaster-Waller duo ending up with three tried stayers.

They bought Obsidian (Street Cry), a two-time winner for 60,000 guineas; Estikhraaj (Dansili) for 30,000 guineas, the winner of one race with two placings during his three-year-old career. Prescience (Kyllachy) cost 22,000 guineas after placing on four occasions this year in Britain.

On Tuesday Louis Le Metayer’s Astute Bloodstock signed for the day’s top lot at 230,000 guineas for Pilote D’Essai (Oasis Dream), the winner of three mile races in France from his six overall starts.

Astute bought the horse on behalf of Melbourne-based clients and said at this stage a trainer had not been decided. The horse was a late addition to the Tattersall’s sales having been prepared by Andre Fabre.

The Waller-Mulcaster duo struck with Lot 661 – McCreery (Big Bad Bob) – which has had just four starts for two wins earlier this year and one placing.

Mulcaster said: “We really wanted McCreery. The biggest attraction was his form and he looks a very progressive type. We went to 200,000 guineas for the three-year-old and Chris should be able to syndicate him after last Saturday’s Cox Plate success.”

Mulcaster also bought another on day two, paying just 16,000 guineas for Lord Major (Lawman), which has been placed twice for Ed Dunlop.

The biggest spend for the Waller-Mulcaster team was at the third session with four buys for a total of 272,000 guineas. This gave them new additions for 600,000 guineas, averaging out at 66,667 guineas.

They bought Richard Of Yorke (Oasis Dream) for 120,000 guineas, Hipparchus (Champs Elysees) for 100,000 guineas, Scooter (Mizzen Mast) for 30,000 guineas and Quick Defence (First Defence) for 22,000 guineas.

Waller began his assault at the Tattersall’s sales back in 2006 and he has prepared a huge number of winners including group 1 performers My Kingdom of Fife, Moriarty, Foreteller and Opinion.

It’s obviously 12 months to the 2016 Melbourne Cup but won’t it be remarkable if one of Waller’s nine buys graduates to the race that stops a nation.

Hoofnote: There were two-high priced colts sold on the third day, with Convergence fetching the top price of 420,000 guineas. He will head to Qatar, while Rembrandt Van Rijn is off to the 2016 Dubai carnival after changing hands for 400,000 guineas.

Darley lifts US stallion fees

Darley has announced their 2016 stallion fees for their US base, Jonabell Stud in Kentucky, with Medaglia d’Oro having his covering costs raised from $US125,000 ($176,000) to $150,000.

The sire of 14 group 1 performers stood the 2015 n season at their Aberdeen base for $110,000 (inc GST) as a result of his two-year-old Vancouver winning this year’s Golden Slipper Stakes.

Other shuttle stallions from Darley include Bernardini, which rises from $US85,000 to $US100,000 with Hard Spun and Street Sense both rising from $US35,000 to $US50,000, while Animal Kingdom remains at $US35,000.

Coolmore stallion Uncle Mo took the honours for being the busiest stallion in Kentucky in the 2015 breeding season with 221 coverings. Other Coolmore shuttle sires currently serving in are also prominent with Declaration Of War (192) and Verrazano (183) coming in seventh and ninth respectively.

Winx boost for Street Cry

The 2015-16 n stallions premiership took a new look with Winx’s record-breaking Cox Plate win last Saturday catapulting her sire Street Cry to a lead of close to $1 million over hot favourite Fastnet Rock.

It was quite intriguing to see the new top 10 including four stallions that are either deceased or infertile, with Street Cry having passed away at Darley’s n farm in September last year.

Encosta De Lago (third) was retired on December 31 due to fertility issues at the Jerry’s Plains Coolmore Stud, while High Chaparral (eighth) was euthanised at Coolmore’s Irish base on December 21.

The remaining stallion is Northern Meteor (10th) who died on July 30, 2013 at Widden Stud, now the home of his best son Zoustar, which stands alternative seasons at the latter farm and also Woodside Park in Victoria.

Street Cry’s winning total is $3,858,674 and he had a lead of $993,379 over Fastnet Rock after racing last Saturday. The latter, however, has a commanding lead in the number of individual winners with 66 successful to comfortably lead Not A Single Doubt.

The other top-19 stallions currently are Holy Roman Emperor (fourth), Lonhro (fifth), Redoute’s Choice (sixth), Sebring (seventh) and Exceed and Excel (ninth).

No doubt the stallions premiership will have many more changes during the next eight days with the huge prizemoney on offer at the four Flemington meetings.

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Guess what – banks make money

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Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere
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Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere

Banks are in the business of making money, and if they don’t, we should be worried. Photo: Paul Rovere

COMMENT

We want cheap houses, cheap credit, a strong economy – oh and bank profits make us feel a bit sick.

If the above sentence seems like a reasonable proposition, I’ve got news,   It’s not. You’re being manipulated.

It’s not really your fault. It takes an economist to understand these things sometimes, and we can’t all be economists. Most of us wouldn’t want to be anyway.

But the situation isn’t helped when, for the sake of populism, consumers are simply told they are being rooted rather than trusted with the complex truth.

ANZ has just announced a record $7.2 billion profit. The announcement follows NAB’s $6.7 billion announced Wednesday, also a record and a 20 per cent increase on last year.

Investors like it when banks book record profits, but it’s not a great political look when they are, at the same time, being caned for making mortgages more expensive.

Following NAB’s announcement, consumer advocate CHOICE raged  on this point. The group rightly pointed to competition as the means to lower prices, but missed the mark by saying NAB was “increasing profits and consumer costs at the same time”.

Maybe. Probably. We don’t know yet. What we do know for sure is that not a penny of the money made from increasing rates last week found its way into a profit figure calculated from books that were closed on September 30.

We’ll have to wait six months, when the bank gives its next results presentation, to see how it has fared in the context of this increase. That goes for ANZ as well.

At any rate, the 20 per cent figure is a little misleading.

The number that’s a lot more relevant to the things people get angry about is a lot smaller: 1.85 per cent.

That was the bank’s net interest margin – the difference between what it costs to make a loan and what they get to charge for things like mortgages. As Malcolm Maiden has explained, the slice has become a lot thinner over the past 10 years.

But here’s a truth: banks make money. That’s what they do. Often they make a lot of money. When they don’t, it’s generally a bad thing because it means there is probably not much going on in the economy.

Last week’s rate rises were also met by the predictable “warnings” from treasurer Scott Morrison, who said he wouldn’t give the banks “a leave pass”.

“The government didn’t make you do it,” Mr Morrison said. He followed this with the admission that it was a “good thing” to have strong banks and “they are in a position to actually pass these costs on”.

You can’t have it both ways. If you know a particular action is going to have a particular effect, and you do it anyway, you’ve got to wear a bit of the responsibility.

The banks say the increases were the result of a letter sent to the banks last December by the n Prudential Regulatory Authority, in which the regulator limited the amount of money on the banks’ books that they could lend to property investors.

If people want something, and you make that thing less available, its price increases. It’s the most basic economics out there.

And it’s not as if the banking sector has become massively more competitive since December, so much so that the banks’ ability to pass costs on to customers has been dramatically lessened.

Mr Morrison knows this. If he didn’t, he’d be in big trouble as Treasurer. There are economic concepts you’d want him to know well that are a lot more complex than these.

Otherwise, how could we trust him to navigate the country through another financial crisis, if there is one?

The last time that happened, it put into stark relief that mortgage rates just aren’t tied to the Reserve Bank the way they used to be.

That means the RBA’s cash rate isn’t such an effective throttle on the economy. The whole argument about “out of cycle” rate movements has been obsolete since at least 2008.

Mr Morrison’s comments are a marginal improvement on the mock outrage then-treasurer Wayne Swan and his predecessor Peter Costello gave voice to when the banks raised rates – or even threatened to do so – during the crisis. They are marginally better because he followed them with: “I think what I have to focus on is what are the things I can change and what are the things I can do something about”.

Good idea. The best change we can hope for is a bit more honesty all around.

Danny O’Brien chases a group 1 bonus with Miss Rose De Lago in the Myer Classic

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Danny O’Brien has fulfilled his brief with West n mare Miss Rose De Lago but believes there could be a group 1 bonus coming in the Myer Classic at Flemington on Saturday.

Owner Barry McRostie sent Miss Rose De Lago to O’Brien in the winter with the instructions to get her rating up, so the daughter of Encosta De Lago could return home for its group 1 carnival.

It seemed ambitious but in reality, she was more than up to the task.

The talented mare had four wins from 16 starts when she arrived in Melbourne for a winter campaign. She was immediately a winner at Caulfield in May and four starts later she stretched out to 1800m to win again at the Heath. That earned her a shot at the spring.

“She is a beautiful type of a mare, big and strong and we were just hoping she could win a couple of races over winter, which she did,” O’Brien said.

“The long-range dream was the Railway Stakes back in the west. Barry wanted to get her rating up to put her in a position to get into that.

“She has probably surprised us in that she has gone past just doing that and got to the Myer [Classic] with a very good chance.”

Miss Rose De Lago, a natural front-runner, caught the eye after a short break when she sat three-deep and looked the winner in the Let’s Elope Stakes before being swamped late and running fourth, only a half length from Amicus.

She returned to Caulfield and stepped to a mile last time and powered her way to comprehensive win making all the running.

“She is certainly better at a mile. Over the shorter trip they are a bit sharp for her at the end,” O’Brien said. “As we got her out in trip in the winter she got better and I think she showed how effective she is at a mile last time.

“Over the mile she can get them out of their [comfort] zones and really make them chase. She is a big, strong thing and runs a really strong mile and I think she will run 2000m one day. That is a real advantage in a race like this.”

Miss Rose De Lago has drawn perfectly in gate two and should roll straight to the front in the Myer.

O’Brien’s instructions to rider Opie Bosson will be to let her roll, particularly with favourite Stay With Me and Azkadellia, an $8 hope, having the pattern of getting back.

“If she sits up a bit they can outsprint her, so there will be no loafing on Saturday. She is going to get rolling from the 800m and test them all out,” O’Brien said. “The favourite is going to have [to be] a bloody good filly to give her a start and a beating.”

Win or lose on Saturday, Miss Rose De Lago has earnt a trip for the Railway Stakes and the Kingston Town Stakes and with a touch of luck by the end of next month she could be a group 1 winner.

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ABC cuts regional Mornings programs

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ABC’s regional radio programming will undergo a shakeup in 2016. Photo: Andrew QuiltThe ABC has infuriated Coalition MPs by axing its all its regional flagship ‘Mornings’ programs from next year’s radioschedule.
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The ABC will instead extend the ‘Breakfast’ program and introduce a new feature-based program,Local Life, to run from 10am to 11am.

Some regional stations, such as Newcastle, have been told they willbe exempt from the changes.

ABC Newcastle is exempt from the programming cuts to regional stations.

— Michael McGowan (@mmcgowan569) October 29, 2015

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday the decision was “very disappointing”.

“If this is so good, and they claim it will deliver better services to regional communities, well, why not deliver better services for the people Sydney and do the same thing for them?” he asked.

“I think the ABC has lost its way.”

The member for Herbert, Ewan Jones, said he was furiousthat the Mornings program on his local ABC North Queensland would no longer exist.

“I think that [ABC managing director] Mark Scott has lost the plot completely,” he said.

“He won’t be happy until the ABC just becomes a bastion of the intelligentsia in Ultimo, Canberra and Melbourne.

“This is piss poor management from the ABC.”

Mr Jones said he had complained to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield about the decision, which he said had blindsidedregional MPs. The ABC is beginning negotiations with the government about its next three-year funding deal.

Mr Jones said he had “copped a belting” from local Mornings presenter Paula Tapiolas on occasion but that she held politicians to account.

“There is no way this will lead to a better ABC,” Mr Jones said.

ABC head of regional Fiona Reynolds described the changes as “minimal” and said two local presenters would still be required in the mornings.

“ABC Regional is putting more focus on breakfast radio programming with increased production support at a time when we know audiences are strongest, according to the data and feedback from those audiences,” she said.

Ms Reynolds said the changes would allow local reporters “the ability to get out of the office more to gather local and distinctive content”.

The Abbott government last year cut the ABC’s budget by $250 million over five years.

Following that decision the ABC closed down its South n production studios, axed state-based current affairs, axed theBush Telegraphradioprogram and closed some regional reporting outposts.

It also created a new regional division with 50 new jobs.

In a speech earlier this monthMr Scott arguedan ABC funding boost would help it deliver better regional news services.

“My central thesis tonight is that the public’s investment in news at the ABC represents better value for taxpayers than ever – and is more important than ever,” Mr Scott said.

“As commercial media operations struggle with market forces and the slow decline of their business models, the role of the ABC, particularly in respectto news, is becoming increasingly vital to the health of our democracy and culture.

“Nowhere is this being more keenly felt than in rural and regional , where news operations are contracting at an alarming rate.”

Microsoft Sydney opens next month

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New Microsoft flagship store in Pitt Street Mall, opening on November 12. It’s looming as the battle between Windows and iPhones, as the giant Microsoft enters the n market in a prime City spot, to take on the equally powerful Apple, located just around the corner.
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In its  first stand-alone store opened outside of North America, Microsoft has leased an enviable position at the front entrance of Westfield Sydney in Pitt Street Mall.

Microsoft identified as a key market five years ago, but has waited patiently for the best site possible in the prime mall site, which became available earlier this year after Esprit departed.

When the doors swing open on November 12, it will be the group’s 116th store and follows the opening of a mega flagship outlet in Manhattan, New York last week.

It will be one of the final pieces of the puzzle of the redevelopment of the mall, which has in the past been anointed in the top 10 of the most expensive retail strips in the world, in terms of rent. On Saturday, October 31, the Swedish fast fashion giant H&M opens further along the mall, and Vodafone is moving in opposite Microsoft early next year.

Apple established itself on the corner of King and George Streets in June 2008, and Samsung leased the store further along George Street, next to Myers in mid 2012. There are suggestions Sony is looking at the new retail section at 383 George Street.

While the focus is on the Sydney store opening at the moment, the group said it always working to identify the best possible locations for Microsoft stores based on consumer needs and preferences.

One of the key features of the Microsoft store is the interactive nature, with banks of Xbox ​ consoles and a giant screen facing Pitt Street Mall.

Nick Wells, Microsoft store manager, said the priority of Microsoft was customer service and to that end the more than 50 staff hired for the Sydney store speak more than 21 different languages and are from 11 countries.

They have been ensconced in the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel undergoing intense training to man the service counters, known as answer desks, on the ground and upper floors.

“The answer desks are a priority for us and our staff have been trained to offer the best advice across all of our products,” Mr Wells said. “That will include the ‘out of box’ service, where customers can unpack the product in the store and get advice on how to set it up and answer all questions on the spot.”

On the upper level of the 1000 square metre store will be a theatre room that can be used for presentations to small businesses on how to integrate their office equipment.

“We want the store to be as interactive as possible. In the store, we will have more than 178 digital panels throughout the store with 38 different video feeds. All digital screens are 1080p resolution, delivering more than 2 million image pixels through the store,” Mr Wells said.

To be sustainable, the LED lighting, throughout the store, will have four different settings, while a Green Star rating has been achieved in the development from certified timber flooring, VOC paint and sustainable materials, used in all of the joinery.

In celebration of the opening, where British singer Jessie J will be a guest, Microsoft will donate more than $US2 million ($2.8 million) in software and technology grants to several not-for-profit community groups making difference in Sydney, and across .

A number of complimentary workshops and seminars, will also be open to members of the community on level 2 of the store in the weeks that follow the grand opening.

These events will include a digital workshop for girls aged 14-18 to introduce them to the world of possibility with coding and potential career paths, a creative coding academy aimed at secondary school students during school holidays and a seminar aimed at parents to equip them with the knowledge they need when it comes to online security and safety for children.

Rio Tinto a better bet than BHP Billiton: Citi

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Citi says Rio Tinto’s earnings outlook is healthier than that of rival BHP Billiton. Photo: Peter BraigRio Tinto has beatenBHP BillitonasCiti’s preferred pick among the big miners, retaining its “buy” ratingdespite a heavy reliance on iron ore.
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Rio, which is currently trading at $52.23, has been given a target price of $58 by Citi.

“Rio trades on significantly lower earnings multiples than BHP on both our forecasts and spot prices,” said Citi.”Combined with a stronger balance sheet this makes buy-rated Rio our preferred diversified mining stock.”

Under the heading “tables turned”, Citi noted that Rio’s 2015 first half earnings were higher than BHP’s for the first time since the BHP and Billiton merger.

Citisaid that Rio’s underlying earnings would be higher than BHP’s for the next two-and-a-half years, aided by the South32 demerger and ongoing pressure on the prices of oil and coking coal, part of BHP’s energyportfolio.

Citi admittedits predictions for Rio, which is more exposed to iron ore than BHP,was”somewhat surprising” given Citi’sown forecasts for iron ore.

Citi expect Rio to deliver higher earnings than BHP through until 2017.

Iron ore, which has just dipped below $US50, willtrade around $US40 per tonne for the nextthree years, the bank said.

Although the iron price “appeared already priced in” for Rio, Citiconceded that “headwinds are never easy to run into”.

The key risk to the forecast was that “iron ore continues to slide into year-end driven by continued growth in seaborne production, falling cost curve and the negative steel spread.”

BHP, currently trading at $23.98, was given a $24 price target by Citi. It retained its “neutral” rating.

In terms of the medium-term outlook, Citi said that at current forecasts “we expect Rio to deliver higher earnings than BHP through until 2017, before BHP briefly regains the upper hand for two-and-a-half years.”

But following that, “Rio once again takes the title as iron ore and aluminium prices recover.”

‘Piss poor management’: ABC blasted for axing regional radio programs

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ABC’s regional radio programming will undergo a shakeup in 2016. Photo: Andrew Quilt Coalition MP Ewen Jones has attacked the ABC’s decision. Photo: Andrew Meares
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The ABC has infuriated Coalition MPs by axing its regional flagship ‘Mornings’ programs from next year’s radio scheduleand rejigging its local news broadcasts.

The ABC will instead extend the ‘Breakfast’ programs and introduce a new feature-based program, with the working title Local Life, to run from 10am to 11am. More local news bulletins will also be produced externally.

Some regional stations – including those in Tasmania, Western and Newcastle – will be exempt from the changes.

Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said on Thursday the decision was “very disappointing”.

“If this is so good, and they claim it will deliver better services to regional communities, well, why not deliver better services for the people in Sydney and do the same thing for them?” he asked.

“I think the ABC has lost its way.”

The member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, said he was furious that the Mornings program on his local ABC North Queensland would no longer exist.

“I think that [ABC managing director] Mark Scott has lost the plot completely,” he said. “He won’t be happy until the ABC just becomes a bastion of the intelligentsia in Ultimo, Canberra and Melbourne.

“This is piss poor management from the ABC.”

Mr Jones said he had complained to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield about the decision, which he said had blindsided regional MPs. The ABC is beginning negotiations with the government about its next three-year funding deal.

Liberal MP Dan Tehan, whose electorate of Wannon receives ABC Ballarat as its local station, said: “This is an appalling decision that is treating regional ns as second-class citizens.”

Queensland senator Ian Macdonald said the ABC had cut regional broadcasting to pay for “yet another coffee machine at Ultimo”.

ABC head of regional Fiona Reynolds described the changes as “minimal” and said two local presenters would still be required in the mornings.

“This is about a change of format – there is no reduction in broadcast hours or budget cuts associated with this,” she said.

“ABC Regional is putting more focus on breakfast radio programming with increased production support at a time when we know audiences are strongest, according to the data and feedback from those audiences.”

The local 6.30am, 7.30am and 12pm news bulletins will still be produced locally and remain unchanged. Other bulletins will be produced externally, with local stories dropped into the bulletin.

Ms Reynolds said the changes would allow local reporters “the ability to get out of the office more to gather local and distinctive content”.

She acknowledged some presenters were worried about missing out on the longer slot, but said: “This is about our audiences.”

One ABC local presenter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “Everyone is devastated by this – they are angry and confused.”

The changes to news coverage would result in more superficial bulletins, the presenter said.

The Abbott government last year cut the ABC’s budget by $250 million over five years. Following that decision the ABC closed down its South n production studios, axed state-based current affairs, axed the Bush Telegraph radio program and closed some regional reporting outposts. It also created a new regional division with 50 new jobs.

Labor communications spokesman Jason Clare said the Coalition MPs were hypocritical for criticising the ABC changes after cutting its budget.

In a speech earlier this month Mr Scott argued an ABC funding boost would help it deliver better regional news services.

“My central thesis tonight is that the public’s investment in news at the ABC represents better value for taxpayers than ever – and is more important than ever,” Mr Scott said.

“As commercial media operations struggle with market forces and the slow decline of their business models, the role of the ABC, particularly in respect to news, is becoming increasingly vital to the health of our democracy and culture.

“Nowhere is this being more keenly felt than in rural and regional , where news operations are contracting at an alarming rate.”

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Volvo tests technology to prevent kangaroo collisions

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Volvo animal detection expert, Martin Magnusson at Tidbinbilla during Kangaroo detection testing. Photo: Rohan Thomson There are more than 20,000 kangaroo strikes on n roads each year, costing over $75 million in claims. Photo: Jay Cronan
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Swedish car maker Volvo’s plan to develop technology that can detect kangaroos to avoid collisions moves a step closer this week with tests at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve west of Canberra.

Volvo Cars safety engineers are filming kangaroos’ roadside behaviour  in their natural setting, in a nationally recognised hot spot for kangaroo collisions. The data will be used to develop ‘s first kangaroo detection and collision avoidance software.

According to the National Roads and Members Association (NRMA) more than 20,000 kangaroo strikes on n roads each year cost over $75 million in claims. The human cost of serious injuries and fatalities from animal collisions is incalculable.

To help address this, Volvo is developing radar and camera technology to detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes if an accident is imminent.

“Whereas Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, animal detection is designed to work at highway speeds.” Volvo’s senior safety engineer, Martin Magnusson said.

“Kangaroos are very unpredictable animals and difficult to avoid, but we are confident we can refine our animal detection technology to detect them and avoid collisions on the highway.

“In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like elk, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment.”

“Volvo’s City Safety truly is state-of-the-art technology, because the brakes can be primed in milliseconds, much faster than a human,” Magnusson said. “We are only at the beginning of what is possible.”

Volvo Car managing director Kevin McCann said kangaroo detection was part of Volvo’s vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

“This type of technology is not designed to take responsibility away from drivers. If the driver is inattentive the car will warn her and eventually make a hard braking to avoid a collision.” he said.

Kangaroo research stems from Volvo earlier work to detect, cars, cyclists and pedestrians at day or night. The technology uses an advanced light sensitive, high-resolution camera to detect animals.

A radar sensor in the grille scans the road ahead to detect moving objects like animals, cars, cyclists and pedestrians. A camera in the windscreen works in parallel with the radar to detect which way the object is moving and help the computer decide what action to take, if any.

The system processes 15 images every second and can react to an emergency in half the time of a human. Volvo says it takes 1.2 seconds for an attentive driver to detect danger and then apply the brakes, compared to about 0.0.5 seconds for the computer system

Liverpool council investigated over asbestos-contaminated soil allegations

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“There could be a massive liability”: Peter Ristevski.Sydney suburbs that are asbestos dumping groundsIllegal dumping increasing in NSW
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An investigation is underway into allegations Liverpool City Council knowingly supplied asbestos-contaminated soil and fill to Casula High School and a number of parks, reserves and waterways in the area.

The allegations were raised as a matter of urgency at a meeting of the council on Wednesday night in Sydney’s south-west.

The councillor who raised the issue, Peter Ristevski, said 22 sites could be affected by contaminated fill if the allegations proved correct.

He asked the council what monitoring and testing regimes had been established to check the health of staff and residents who may have been exposed – and whether the school was notified – but his urgency motion was voted down.

“There could be a massive liability in terms of the health to the public,” Cr Ristevski said after the meeting.

He said the asbestos had been stored at the council’s now-defunct road base recycling facility, known as the western depot, and later mixed in with soil and other materials and used as fill.

In a letter to the council dated October 27, the United Services Union said there were at least seven locations at which contaminated fill was used, including a local high school.

The letter stated that: “At the very minimum, the union is advised that soil and fill contaminated with asbestos was used in works located at  Casula High School Craig Park Lt Cantelo [sic] Reserve McLoud [sic] ParkRickard Road Across from Harvan Park Along various waterways.”

The NSW Environment Protection Authority told Fairfax Media it was “currently investigating allegations that Liverpool Council has unlawfully disposed [of] waste at a number of properties in the Liverpool Council area”.

The union further alleged that 30,000 tonnes of contaminated soil or fill was sold by Liverpool Council to a developer working at Gregory Hills.

“The union has serious concerns that council has put the health of our members and the general community at risk of serious illness or worse,” the union’s general secretary, Graeme Kelly, wrote.

Liverpool council said it was cooperating with the EPA investigation into potentially contaminated fill at 22 sites.

“The tiny amount of asbestos located in stockpiles of material means that now we must  test and – if appropriate – rehabilitate any sites where the fill may have been used for council works,” council chief executive Carl Wulff said in a statement to Fairfax Media.

He preempted the findings of the EPA investigation and claimed there was no health risk to the public or council staff.

“Trace amounts of asbestos would not be airborne or pose a health risk to members of the public and council workers,” he said. Mr Wulff said “only a few fragments of asbestos” had so far been discovered across 10 sites.

Backfill used by the council as part of drainage works in open space between Casula High School and Myall Road was yet to be tested. “Again, this site is capped and does not pose an immediate health risk to anyone,” he said. “But the site will be tested as a matter of priority.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the accusation the asbestos was distributed knowingly was ‘scurrilous and unfounded’.

The NSW education department has confirmed asbestos was found on school grounds over the last holiday period and that the EPA was investigating its source.

“During the recent school vacation period a random contamination audit was undertaken at Casula High School,” a department spokesman said. “Once the contamination had been confirmed, the school site was cleared of contaminated material identified in the inspection.”

He said the school was declared safe by an hygienist the day before classes resumed on October 6.

“The Department of Education continues to monitor the site in order to ensure ongoing safety,” the spokesman said.

Mr Wulff said the council would remediate any site where traces of asbestos were found. But allegations that contaminated soil had been sold to a developer were not correct, he said.

Liverpool council was one of 29 Sydney councils deemed “unfit for the future” under an Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal review released last week.

Uncle Jack Charles refused cab after being named Victorian senior of the year

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Shortly after being named Victorian Senior n of the Year, Jack Charles was refused a taxi ride. Shortly after being named Victorian Senior n of the Year, Jack Charles, pictured with manager Patrice Capogreco, was refused a taxi ride. Photo: Simon Schluter
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Prominent Aboriginal elder Jack Charles was refused a taxi unless he paid the fare upfront, moments after being named Victorian Senior n of the Year in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

The veteran Indigenous actor, 72, was leaving the awards ceremony in Docklands when his manager Patrice Capogreco tried to hail a cab for the pair about 9pm.

“We saw one up ahead and Uncle Jack said to me, ‘you go up and grab it, mate, you know what the cabbies are like with us Aboriginals’,” Ms Capogreco said.

“So I stopped the cab and he was fine, but as soon as he saw Uncle Jack he asked where we were going. I told him where I was going and that I would get out first, and then Uncle Jack.

“And then he demanded that we prepay. I asked why and he said ‘because he may not pay’. I told the cabbie I had a cabcharge and he said it wasn’t good enough. He said ‘I need prepay because he might not pay’.”

Mr Charles’ acting career spans more than 50 years. He co-founded ‘s first Indigenous theatre group and has starred in films including The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith, Blackfellas and Pan. He has also performed in many stage plays across the country and toured internationally.

On Thursday, Mr Charles said he would write a formal letter of complaint to the Taxi Services Commission.

He said the incident with the cab driver had spoiled his night. “I didn’t tolerate it,” he said. “I told him that he just racially vilified me. That his behaviour smacks of it.”

“We were just so high after winning the award, I was totally blown away. This dampened the spirits somewhat and I slept a sleepless night last night. But countering that was the joy of actually receiving this high honour in Victoria.”

Mr Charles and Ms Capogreco refused to pay the fare upfront and eventually hailed another cab. But a taxi driver later told them Melbourne cabs were allowed to request pre-paid fares from Aboriginals, Ms Capogreco said.

“This happens all the time to Indigenous ns and particularly to Uncle Jack,” she said. “It happened in Sydney when he was there for a play and his face was on 60 cabs around the city. Now it’s happening again.”

In 2013, Mr Charles said he was discriminated against by a Sydney taxi driver while in town to perform a play. It was reported at the time that he ordered a cab to take him from his apartment to the Belvoir St Theatre, but that when the taxi arrived the driver refused to take him.

Shortly after, Mr Charles saw the cab accepting a fare from a Caucasian couple.

Also in 2013, a group of eminent Aboriginal actors were repeatedly refused service by taxi drivers in Southbank, Melbourne.

Fairfax Media reported at the time that the group, including Redfern Now actor Rarriwuy Hick, Chooky Dancer Djamangi Gaykamangu and Ten Canoes actor Frances Djulibing, were refused fares by four separate cabs booked to pick them up from the Malthouse Theatre.

It was only after the Malthouse’s non-indigenous company manager hailed a taxi for the group, who were in town to rehearse an indigenous adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, that they were able to catch a cab back to their hotel.

Chief executive of the Taxi Services Commission Aaron de Rozario said it took complaints about discrimination very seriously and was investigating the incident.

“Everyone has the right to travel in a taxi without fear of discrimination,” he said. “We are currently investigating this matter based on the information available.”

He encouraged anyone with a complaint about their taxi experience to provide feedback to the taxi company or the TSC.

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