Monthly Archives: November 2018

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High dollar suffocating regional business

Source: The Area News

Casella Wines boss John Casella has called on the federal government to help loosen the noose he says issuffocating local exporters and artificially pushing down the Australian dollar.

Despite the dollar dropping below parity with the greenback for the first time in 11 months this week, Mr Casella, whose family company is Australia’s largest wine exporter, said a dollar just below US90c would have “profound economic benefits” for industry.

Casella announced the first loss in its history in January, blaming the high Aussie dollar.

“If the Australian government did get involved (in manipulating the dollar), it wouldn’t be the first government in the world to do so,” Mr Casella said.

“The high currency is not in the best interests of the general population. Cheap TVs and cars don’t compensate for people losing their jobs.”

A high dollar makes imports cheaper and Aussie exports less attractive to other countries –a deadly combination for an export-reliant economy like Griffith in rural New South Wales where Mr Casella’s wine is grown and produced.

Mr Casella said while he supported a free market, the government could use monetary policy to lower the dollar in the short term.

“The one in 100-year mining boom has meant the currency is much higher than it would have otherwise been,” Mr Casella said.

“The government could look at interest rate reductions or other avenues to bring it down quickly.

“Otherwise, we’ll continue to lose manufacturing and agricultural industries. Look at the job-shedding around Australia at the moment. Look at industries like citrus.

“Once someone pulls their citrus trees out, they won’t put them back in.”

Griffith and District Citrus Growers president John Sergi supported Mr Casella’s call, saying it could pull the local citrus industry out of the financial abyss.

“We’re trying to compete with countries like Chile and Brazil at the moment and it’s just not possible,” Mr Sergi said.

“A lower dollar would open up a lot of markets and boost exports.

“It would also help stabilise the domestic market by easing the oversupply.”

The push for a lower dollar has even gained traction with the man most likely to be finance minister in the next federal government.

“The Australian dollar is not a sacred cow,” Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce said.

“The RBA has clearly announced that its monetary policy is now looking to target the dollar, and we have intervened directly in foreign exchange markets on 35 separate times in the past 24 years, including eight times since 1997.”

Griffith Business Chamber president Paul Pierotti said Griffith was more exposed to the dollar than most regions.

“The issues with the high dollar effect most industries in our region and we cannot accept the answer from government that there is nothing we can do,” Mr Pierotti said.

“Yes, the Reserve Bank is independent but there are a whole range of alternate mechanisms to ensure our dollar is not excessively high.”

John Casella, Australia’s largest wine exporter, is calling for federal government intervention to stop jobs bleeding from regional Australia.

Shopping centre terror for girl, 5

Source: Port Macquarie News

A teenager has been refused bail in Lismore in New South Walesfor allegedly trying to abduct a five-year-old girl atknife point.

The boy appeared at Lismore Children’s Court on Saturday where he was denied bail to reappear on Monday.

Police say theteen, 17, covered his face on entering a shopping complex on Fox Street in Ballina shortly after 4pm on Friday.

It is alleged he entered a supermarket and stole a knife, before leaving to approach a five-year-old girl who was playing on a child’s ride.

The boy is alleged to have taken hold of the girl’s arm and dragged her away from her mother and siblings while holding the knife in front of him.

“A number of people intervened, asking for him to let the girl go. At this stage she managed to break free and a 32-year-old man attempted to apprehend the teen,” police said.

“A brief struggle ensued, in which the 32-year-old allegedly suffered a small stab wound to his hand, and hit his head on a shop counter, causing a large head wound.”

The injured man was assisted by a number of other shoppers who disarmed the youth and held him until police arrived.

The 17-year-old was arrested and taken to Ballina Police Station, where he was charged with numerous offences including take or detain child with intent to remove from parental control, reckless wounding, armed with intent to commit indictable offence, face blackened or disguised with intent to commit indictable offence andshoplifting.

Police have told Fairfax there is no relationship between the teen, the alleged victim or her family.

Girl, 5, managed to escape from a teen boy who allegedly tried to drag her away from her mother and siblings.

Meteor strike with moon causes massive explosion

Meteor_HPL An artist illustration of a meteor impacting the moon, resulting in an explosion that visible from Earth. Photo: NASA

The most powerful meteor strike on the moon ever observed has just been announced by NASA.

A March 17 strike on the moon caused an explosion equal to five tons of TNT and could have seen with the naked eye, said Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

“It exploded in a flash many times as bright as anything we’ve seen before,” said Dr Cooke.

“Anyone looking at the moon at the moment of impact could have seen the explosion, no telescope required. For about one second the impact site was glowing like a fourth-magnitude star.”

NASA’s Lunar Impact Monitoring Program – now in its eighth year – has observed 300 strikes on the moon, according to manager Robert Suggs. “We have seen a couple of others in the “wow” category but not this bright,” said Dr Suggs. “It jumped out at me. It was so bright.”

The impact was caused by a meteor only about 40 centimetres across, weighing about 40 kilograms, according to NASA.

Its explosive impact came from its speed – 25 kilometres per second.

It caused a 20-metre-wide crater, which will be photographed by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on its next pass over the impact site.

The meteor hit a part of the moon known as the Mare Imbrium, Latin for “Sea of Showers”. Dr Suggs detected the strike on a video made by the program’s 35-centimetre telescope.

Because there is no atmosphere to vapourise incoming meteors – which is the case on Earth – strikes are very common on the moon and explain its cratered appearance.

About half of the strikes are associated with major swarms of meteors such as the Perseids and the Geminds, according to NASA.

The rest are random bits of space rock – comet or asteroid debris.

NASA are trying to work out which category the March 17 strike falls into.

On the same night as the impact, there were unusually large number of bright meteors observed in Earth’s skies, said Dr Cooke.

“These fireballs were travelling in nearly identical orbits between Earth and the asteroid belt,” he said.

“This means that the Earth and the moon were pelted with objects from about the same time. My working hypothesis is that the two events are related.”

On March 17 next year – when the Earth-Moon system passes through the same region of space –  the program’s astronomers will be keeping a close watch, said Dr Cooke.

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Humphreys resigns as Wests Tigers chief

Steven Humphreys. Photo: Steve Christo tigers

Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys has resigned from the position in another blow for the bottom-placed NRL club.

Humphreys, who has been under pressure after the Tigers’ disastrous start to the season which has been riddled with injuries to key players, has handed in his notice but is expected to stay on until a replacement is found.

‘‘It’s a big call and one I do with a heavy heart, but I’m doing it because it’s in the best interests of the club. It’s in that context that I make that difficult personal decision. Wherever I might end up I’ll always be looking out and trying to help out however I can.’’

The former Qantas and British Airways executive took over as the boss of the joint-venture club in July 2009, but has been caught in the middle of bitter boardroom politics between the Balmain Tigers and Wests Magpies factions.

The son of former rugby league administrator Kevin Humphreys, he was touted as a candidate for the ARL Commission chief executive’s job which eventually went to Dave Smith. He has a long history with the club dating back to his time as a player – he wore the black and gold jersey on 40 occasions at first grade level in the 1980s.

The Tigers are under pressure on a number of fronts, including delicate negotiations to extend the contract of star five-eighth Benji Marshall. The New Zealand playmaker was poised to sign a $4 million extension which would keep him at the club until 2017. However, those talks have broken down after he was demoted to the bench for Friday night’s clash with the Rabbitohs.

The financial challenges of the club, which continues to pay out the contract of dumped coach Tim Sheens, have also been well publicised.

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Jewellery heist and gun shots bring real drama to Cannes

Bad girls bring the blingEmma Watson: I almost quit acting after Harry

The cinematic excitements of the Cannes Film Festival were overtaken by real crime on Friday, with a jewellery heist and a fake shooting stealing the limelight from on-screen dramas.

Actors Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil, who are both in Cannes to serve on the festival’s competition jury, were being interviewed on stage on the beach opposite the five-star Martinez Hotel when shots rang out.

Waltz was most recently seen playing a dapper gunslinger in Quentin Tarantino’s Django but he wasn’t rushing to make a stand in real life. He and Auteuil, the star of such cerebral French dramas as Michael Haneke’s Hidden, were hustled off stage by security guards.

Punters scattered into the sands. Police arrested a man who had a gun loaded with blanks and had previously brandished an object identified by witnesses – but not yet officially – as a grenade. Nobody was hurt.

This incident came hard on the heels of an overnight heist at another, somewhat less luxurious hotel a kilometre away, where burglars netted at least 300,000 euros in Chopard jewellery from a company employee’s room.

Festival wits immediately drew a comparison with The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola’s film about a gang of schoolgirls who robbed celebrities’ houses in Los Angeles, snaffling jewellery and clothes they would then parade on Facebook.

The film, which stars Emma Watson, happened to screen – to much acclaim – the same day. This theft was a more professional job, however: police said the jewels were in a safe which was cut from the wall. The value of the stolen gems was initially put by some news sources as one million pounds, but Chopard was adamant that this was a huge exaggeration.

Chopard is a Swiss jeweller that has a long and well-cultivated association with the Cannes Film Festival. It has made the Palme D’Or award for the festival every year since 1998, along with other trophies. It also provides jewellery for many of the famous women ascending the red carpet to the Palais each evening.

Actresses Julianne Moore and Frieda Pinto wore Chopard jewels to the festival’s opening night screening of The Great Gatsby.

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