Filing from the front

Hugh Stevenson Roberton – or “Peter Snodgrass”.
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HUGH Stevenson Roberton is arguably the most remarkable person who has written for The Land – a farmer and farm leader, columnist, author, soldier, Menzies government minister and Australia’s first ambassador to Ireland.

And for most of his stellar career he kept writing his fortnightly articles for The Land under the pseudonym “Peter Snodgrass”, the name of a character in a play written by his father, Sir Hugh Roberton, a famous Scottish choral music composer and conductor.

Roberton had carried his Hermes typewriter in a metal box during his stint as an anti-tank gunner with the 9th Division in the Middle East during the Second World War so he could keep writing his columns for The Land.

His commanding officer turned a blind eye when he tossed away his gas mask and spare pair of boots so he could carry his typewriter, nor did he ever have any problems with wartime censors.

* Read more about some of The Land’s legendary columnists in our 100-page Centenary liftout free inside the January 27 issue.

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Dairy despair at Coles cut

THE Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation (QDO) has hit out at the decision by supermarket giant Coles to cut the price of its ‘supermarket brand’ milk, warning that the move will place significant financial strain and pressure on already stressed farming families.
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Earlier today, Coles announced that it would be taking advantage of the earnings downturn faced by rival Woolworths to launch a heavily discounted milk offer to tempt shoppers into its supermarkets.

QDO President Brian Tessmann said dairy farmers across the country woke this morning to the unpleasant news, and said that milk prices are under unsustainable downward pressure from the retailers.

Coles will terminate its Smart Buy milk brand and reduce the price of its house brand milk to become its new flagship offering.

The price of a Coles brand two-litre carton of lite milk will come down to $2, a 33 per cent discount in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Coles full-cream milk will also be cut down to $2.

“We are now facing the bleak prospect of retail milk prices reaching a point that is unsustainable for the milk value chain. This will flow back through the processing sector and ultimately to farmers,” said Mr Tessmann.

“It is kicking family farmers when they are down. This is happening at a time when the industry is battling the devastation of the massive Queensland floods.

“These floods are taking a heavy financial and emotional toll on farmers, and for Coles to give farmers this announcement on Australia Day is cruel and insensitive. We want our farmers to have confidence in the future and to be rebuilding their businesses after the flood,” said Mr Tessman.

The QDO said that what is ultimately a publicity ploy from Coles will mean farmers will ultimately be paying for the advertising bill.

Mr Tessman said that Coles’ assertion that the price drop would not affect milk processors and dairy farmers was simply wrong.

“We know from a recent Senate Inquiry that the growing trend toward supermarket brand milk is putting a squeeze on the value chain and ultimately the farmer. This price drop will increase the price difference between large retailer ‘supermarket brand’ milk and milk processor branded milk. So of course shoppers will opt for supermarket brand milk and, with that, lower returns go to processors and that will flow on to the farm gate.

“We know that already the price differential between supermarket-brand and branded milk sucks about $90 million from the value chain in Queensland alone every year,” said Mr Tessman.

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Swan opts to fight states, not the miners

Wayne Swan.This time last year, Wayne Swan had spent his holidays reading a top-secret copy of the Henry review, which urged a 40 per cent tax on the mining industry.
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A year on, with one prime minister removed after taking on the miners, the Treasurer’s holiday reading was a far cry from Dr Henry’s tome.

Shortly before Christmas, the former BHP chairman Don Argus handed Swan a report outlining the much watered-down resource rent tax, which has been welcomed by the big miners.

But although he now has much of the industry on side, Swan’s quest to extract more tax from the mining industry is far from over.

After what he admits was a ”bruising” encounter with mining heavyweights in 2010, Swan has effectively swapped a fight with the miners for a stoush with the states.

He is now pleading with Queensland and Western Australia to cap future mining royalties to keep the industry competitive – and the states are having none of it.

Swan’s decision to take on the states raises questions about just how powerful the mining heavyweights have become, with the industry expected to resume hostilities if the government cannot get the states on side.

Making matters more complex, Swan’s showdown with the states comes amid growing evidence Australia should be saving more of the proceeds from the once-in-a-century resources bonanza.

In the turbulent weeks after Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd, quelling the mining industry’s anger was a top priority in Canberra.

She largely achieved this in early July, signing a breakthrough agreement with the big three – BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – to soften the tax considerably.

Rather than the 40 per cent tax proposed by Henry, it was agreed miners would pay effective tax rates of 22.5 per cent and enjoy generous deductions. Miners called off their anti-government ad campaign, and restarted work on shelved projects worth billions to the economy.

But although Gillard’s deal with the miners was hailed as a smart political move at the time, it now looks like a temporary solution.

In the secret July negotiations, the boss of BHP, Marius Kloppers, insisted that all state royalties – including future increases – would be refunded by the federal government.

Canberra later hinted it might not credit all future royalties because this would amount to writing states a blank cheque, but Argus’s report affirmed that all future royalties should be refunded.

Swan is widely expected to adopt this recommendation, and has already called on states to promise they won’t increase royalties.

However, the request has been met with vocal opposition from the premiers of Queensland and Western Australia, setting the scene for heated negotiations this year.

The floods – expected to slash Queensland’s royalty revenue – add another layer of complexity. Nevertheless, Swan has elected to fight the states rather than risk provoking the miners. His willingness to do so raises questions about just how powerful the mining industry has become.

The opposition’s spokesman on mining, Ian Macfarlane, says it is now clear the government rushed to sign a deal without fully understanding the consequences. While he opposes the tax in principle, Macfarlane also recognises the power the Big Three held over government.

”I suspect that the government has got itself so far in that they will have to bow down to the mining companies. They got skinned and that’s a fact,” he says.

”The mining companies have achieved the effective abolition of state royalties.” Macfarlane doesn’t blame the miners for this – instead pointing the finger at Canberra’s failure to consult with the industry and states before it announced the original 40 per cent tax.

On the government’s side, the Labor senator Doug Cameron is even more frank about how miners have thrown their weight around this year. ”I think the behaviour of the miners is the most overt case of big business using their power and privileged place in society to protect their own individual interests,” Cameron says.

”This is going to be something that is debated for many years, in relation to how you can ensure the national interest is placed before the interests of mega-rich mining magnates.” More sympathetic observers, however, say the miners were able to make a convincing argument against paying more tax because the public identified with the industry.

A former head of the Minerals Council, David Buckingham, says miners benefited from a perception that the industry had been an important factor in Australia weathering the global financial crisis. Over the previous decade, he says, the industry had also remade its public image around its handling of environmental and Aboriginal issues.

”There’s been an evolution in the position of the industry. I don’t think it’s simply been a case of a big ugly industry using its muscle,” says Buckingham, who supported the concept of a super profits tax.

Whatever the reasons for the government’s backdown, the miners’ strong influence over government will linger.

If Canberra cannot reach a deal with the states, miners have made it clear they will consider restarting their campaign of destabilisation.

In the weeks before Christmas, the boss of Xstrata Coal, Peter Freyberg, repeated his warning that the company would review $20 billion in planned projects if the government failed to refund all royalties.

Indeed, some official sources suggest the mining companies are deliberately seeking to exploit the government’s razor-thin majority in the lower house in anticipation of the debate heating up.

Small miners – who remain deeply opposed to the tax – would only need to convince a few rural independents to oppose the tax to defeat it. Coalition senators are now leading an inquiry which has aired small miners’ concerns, and is scrutinising the government’s deal with the big three.

In spite of this tension between the government and smaller miners over the tax, there is growing economic evidence that now is the right time for a meaningful resource rent tax. In November, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said the government’s mining tax was too narrow – and it should tax more products than iron ore, coal and gas.

While it supported the tax overall, the OECD said this focus on only parts of the resources sector could distort investment and would hurt its ability to raise revenue.

The governor of the Reserve Bank, Glenn Stevens, has also reminded the government that with a once-in-a-century mining boom gathering pace, now could be a good time to increase public sector saving.

In a November speech, he suggested a ”stabilisation fund” that could offset some of the volatility of a commodities boom led by China and India. Stevens didn’t mention the mining tax – but it’s increasingly clear the watered-down MRRT won’t be taking much heat out of the mining boom.

An economist at the Grattan Institute, Saul Eslake, is blunt when asked if the tax could help deal with some of the challenges of the two-speed economy. ”No, because it was not intended to, and now it would seem there are so few companies that are going to pay it,” Eslake says.

Even among companies which will pay the tax – it only applies to those earning more than $50 million a year – there are doubts it will raise the revenue Canberra claims.

According to official estimates, it will raise $7.4 billion, down from the previous $10.5 billion predicted before the election and $12 billion under Rudd’s super profits tax.

The government says the latest revision was driven by the strong Australian dollar, but analysts say the forecast was more likely slashed after officials consulted with companies about how the tax would be paid in practice.

And with each downgrade in how much revenue it will raise, the government is also pushing the friendship with the Greens, needed to pass it through the Senate in 2011.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, sent the government a reminder in late December that his support is not guaranteed. He described the tax as a ”patched-up deal between the government and the mining barons”. He prefers the 40 per cent tax favoured by Rudd, and it is not clear whether he will support the mineral resource rent tax.

Cobbling together support from Brown, miners and the premiers of mining boom states won’t be easy. But this is the task facing Swan if he is to make the mining tax a reality.

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Origin denies claims of oil, gas leaks

A series of independent assessments failed to verify claims of compliance failures at oil and gasfields operated by Origin Energy. The claims were made by a disgruntled former employee, who has lodged an unfair dismissal claim against the company.
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Origin operates and participates in a series of oil and gasfields across Australia and New Zealand that are the subject of claims by a former compliance manager with the company, Sally McDow. She lost her job with the company as part of a significant restructuring earlier in 2015, which saw as many as 1000 employees axed in the wake of the slump in the oil price.

The collapse in the price of oil over the past 18 months from more than $US100 a barrel to its present level of around $US36 has forced Origin along with other oil and gas producers to axe employee numbers in a bid to rein in costs. Origin was also forced to go cap in hand to raise $2.5 billion from shareholders to strengthen its balance sheet following a heavy round of spending to develop a gas processing and export facility in Queensland.

“She made a series of compliance claims and there were three independent investigations into her claims – all were independent and none substantiated those claims,” a spokeswoman for Origin said.

“Claims of [oil and gas] leaks were not substantiated,” the spokeswoman said.

Ms McDow’s legal representative, Maurice Blackburn, would not comment on the case.

Ms McDow was based in Queensland and it is unclear whether she was privy to some of the information about alleged leaks in projects in parts of Australia and New Zealand which form part of her unfair dismissal claim.

She first raised issues about compliance in connection with HR conversations she was having with Origin management, the Origin spokeswoman said, which were then subject to independent investigation, which failed to substantiate the claims, including of claims of serious compliance issues or cover-ups.

The spokeswoman said Origin encourages employees to raise genuine concerns, which is what Ms McDow did. However, on this occasion none of those concerns were substantiated.

Origin said it “will vigorously defend” itself from Ms McDow’s claims in court.

Specifically, the energy company said there had been no known oil leak to an aquifer in the Surat fields, although “minor operational ‘weeps’ of gas occurred at the Rimu, Kauri and Manuhati​ fields in NZ, which were not reportable incidents, the spokeswoman said. Additionally, there have been no known gas leaks at the Kauri C well site, from pipelines and no unassessed gas leaks at Heytesbury site in WA.

In the Otway Basin and at the BassGas project, any emissions such as nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides in excess of the set limits are reported to the regulator, which is available publicly.

At the Jingemia oilfield in WA, an independent third party confirmed that there has been no release of naturally occurring radioactive materials, the Origin spokeswoman said.

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WIN’s last minute deal with Nine keep Canberra TV viewing unchanged

WIN Canberra news readers Amy Duggan and Kerryn Johnston.A last minute licensing deal between regional television broadcaster WIN Corp and Channel Nine is not expected to change viewing for the Canberra audience.
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She said the local news was a WIN product, and not involved in discussions with Channel Nine related to supply of programs.

WIN Corp has narrowly avoided its services “going to black” on the stroke of midnight by extending its licensing deal with Nine Entertainment for six months and hinted at a bigger tie-up between the companies.

WIN, which is owned by Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, was facing the possibility of losing its feed from Nine. The city broadcaster wanted a bigger share of its affiliate’s advertising revenue and the existing contract was set to end at Midnight tonight.

Failure to strike a deal would have left regional viewers with the limited range of programming that WIN itself controls. Rural and regional fans of the cricket would have had to switch over to SBS for the upcoming Tests between Australia and the West Indies as well as India.

But after tense talks at the highest levels of both companies on Wednesday, the parties agreed to extend their arrangements for six months until June 2016 with Nine getting additional payments over the period.

The bigger story is the increased cooperation between the two companies that could lead to a merger, which would create a broadcasting giant worth up to $1.8 billion.

Sources close to both parties revealed to Fairfax Media that merger talks were on the table throughout these discussions.

“NEC and WIN have also agreed to work together on a range of opportunities relating to their content and to the mutual growth of their respective businesses,” Nine said in a statement.

“Broadcast television is evolving, but the role of the affiliate and its relationship with the local community remains important,” Nine chief executive Hugh Marks added.

WIN would be expected to keep a stake in a combined entity, but discussions remain at an early stage with no firm discussions around price or structure. WIN’s value has been speculated at between $150 million and $300 million. Nine’s market capitalisation is $1.6 billion.

Mr Gordon already owns a 14.95 per cent of both Nine and Network Ten.

But both parties are limited by the federal government’s “reach rule”, which prevents any one party from owning metropolitan and regional broadcasters. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to push for a scrapping of the law next year.

June 2016 is shaping up as a vital year for regional and rural TV viewers.

Nine has held previously exploratory talks to supply its broadcast feed to rival rural broadcaster Southern Cross, which currently uses Network Ten’s less popular content in a deal that expires in June 2016.

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Teen’s higher calling

ON TOP: Chelsea Egginton at the NSW junior titles in February when she cleared a then world-best 1.76 metres. Picture: David TarbottonREDHEAD high jumper Chelsea Egginton ended 2015 just one centimetre off the best height for her age group in the world.
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Not bad considering a seriouship injury in Mayall but wiped out the rest of her year.Now the 14-year-old is back and determined to one day become a Commonwealth and Olympic Games athlete.

Egginton jumped 1.76 metresto win the NSWjunior title on February 6, ranking her first in the world for 2015 in her age group and just five centimetres off the all-time 13-years mark.She was aiming tochallenge the world record before her birthday in July, but anavulsion fracture in the growth plate of her right hip during training on May 4 ended her hopes.Anavulsion fractureis when a small chunk of bone attached to a tendon or ligament breaks off. It is a common injury for athletes in their early teens.

“A week before the injury happened, it was pulling and feeling tight,” Egginton said.

“We didn’t think it was a big issue, then I played in the Bill Turner Cup soccer the week before it happened, and that’s when I started to notice somethingwas wrong.I took it easy thenthe day before my school carnival, I went out to train and it happened in my high jump run-up. It sounded like when you throwa handball at a brickwall. Just a big pop. My coach heard it from 20 metres away.”

In her absence, UkrainianOlena Zhmur cleared1.77m to top the age group for 2015.Egginton, who returned totraining in August, remained No.2despite the long lay-off.

She said the experience “just makes me keen to jump back to those heights so I can be on top again”.

“I’m going in a few more comps now andI’ve been jumping in the 160s.My main goal is to get back jumping in the 170s andI want to get there by NSW juniors in February,” she said.

She will compete at the January 30Hunter Track Classic at Glendale ahead of state and national junior championships.

Her goal is to jump at theworld juniors and youth titles over the next two years thenrepresent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Reo’s sad end in front yard

DEVASTATED: Jake Lewis and Charmaine Robold, with 20-month-old Kalani. Picture: Simone De Peak.
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REO,amalteseterriercross,waslazinginhisowners’NelsonBayfrontyardthe dayanotherdog walked up and mauled him to death.

That was Monday. Charmaine Robold and Jake Lewis looked up to seea large mixed-breed dog withtheir dogin its jawsshakinghard. It would be their last daywith their petof nine years.

“We were in our front yard getting ready for family to come over, and Reo was sun-baking there,” Ms Robold said.

MISSED: Reo, a maltese terrier cross, was euthanased after being mauled by a bigger dog in a Nelson Bay front yard.

“Jake has ripped itsmouth open to get our dog out. He’s had him since he was five months old.”

Reo was euthanised early Tuesdayat theNewcastle Animal Referral andEmergency Centre. VeterinarianWendy Fishersaid the centre hadhadan influx of dogsattacked by other dogs since Christmas.

The reasons arevaried.People get puppies for Christmas and have trouble socialising them; holidaymakers let their dogsoff-lead; there are simply more dogs about.

“The nastiest injuries are big dog on little dog attacks where they can penetrate a cavity and pick them up and shake them,” Dr Fisher said.

“In Reo’s case, you could see his lungs from the outside. His left-hand chest wall was badly damaged and he had four ribs that weren’t just fractured, butvery severely displaced.”

TOO LATE: Vets worked to save Reo, but he suffered lung injuries and had four ribs (right side of x-ray) “severely displaced”.

Though often “lovely” towards humans,staffordshire bull terriers frequently attack other dogs, Dr Fisher said.

Ms Robold and Mr Lewis think the dog that attackedReo belonged to visitorsand have filed a report with Port Stephens Council.

They don’t know how to explain itto their 20-month-olddaughterKalani, butwant their experienceto be a lesson to dogowners.

People should invest as much vigilance in walking a dog as in driving a car,Rob Stabler, a Newcastleanimal behaviour and welfare consultant, said.

“Off-lead, in my opinion, is an accident waiting to happen. There’s some bullying that happens.Some dogs will get around being unpleasant,” Dr Stabler said.

“Dogs don’t need to play with other dogs. Everyone thinks they should befrolickingon the beachbut it’s not really necessary.”

Signs that a dog might attackinclude a straightened tail, raised hackles,wide stance or, moreseriously, a“freeze”.

The best way to placate a dogin afreeze is to whistle, click or clap, Dr Stabler said, rather than yell.

NYL offers Brennan fresh start for Jets

UP FRONT: Andy Brennan at Jets youth team training on Thursday. Picture: Michael ParrisJETS rookie Andy Brennan will try to kick-start his professional career in the club’s youth team on Saturday after an injury-plagued six months in Newcastle.
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Brennan has struggled with a hamstring injury since joining the Jets on a two-year contract from South Melbourne in June,but youth coach Clayton Zane said the 22-year-old would play his second competitive game for Newcastle in the National Youth League match against Wanderers at Popondetta Park in Sydney this weekend.

“There’s been a lot of speculation when he first came to the club. People wanted to see him,” Zane said.

Andy Brennan playing for South Melbourne early 2015“That jump from NPL to A-League, it’s a big jump, just from the training loads, and he’s a very explosive player, so already the risk of muscle injuries is heightened, and then he’s made the jump from a weaker competition to a much stronger one and become a full-time player.

“I think it’s normal what’s happened to him, but, at the same time, as time ticks by, more expectation falls on your head as a result of that.”

Zane hoped the Tasmanian, whose other Jets appearance was as a second-half substitute in the first round of the NYL,would soon be in a position to help the senior squad, who have not scored in four games.

“He’s starting to get to a point now where he’ll hopefully be knocking on the door for the second half of the A-League to get a position on the bench,” Zane said.

“It’s very important, these youth league games, for players who aren’t in the squad, if they use them wisely, they can get back in the frame.”

Brennan has trained as a winger, but Zane predicted a different role for him on Saturday.

“He’s got a lot to prove, and we had a look at him at training this week to potentially play as a No.9 to give him a little bit of confidence to make that jump to the A-League team.This will be a 45- or 60-minute game for him, I think, in his recovery from injury.”

“We’ll look to give him a go in a central position to have more contact in and around the goal for him. That’s one way we’ll try and help him.At the same time he’ll help our team because he’s quick and he can make runs in behind.”

Former coach Phil Stubbins signed Brennan in the final weeks of his and Nathan Tinkler’s reign at the Jets. He played for South Hobart before joining South Melbourne and scored 25 goals in his last Tasmanian NPL season to win the league’s best-and-fairest award.

“He’s on a two-year deal, so he’s fortunate he’s been given a bit of extra time,” Zane said. “Not all state league players get given that luxury.Andy has that real rawness to him, but he’s desperate to get through on goal and get goal-scoring opportunities, and you can’t coach that. He wouldn’t have been brought to the club if he didn’t have some strengths.”

Two other youngStubbins signings, midfielder Josh Barresi and centre back Themba Muata-Marlow, have played most of the season in the NYL and are yet to make the bench in the A-League.Barresi, 20, is nearing the end of his two-yearcontract, but Muata-Marlow, 21, has another year at the club.

Price hikes to hit hard for pensioners on pills

The price of Panadol Osteo, made by GlaxoSmithKline, is about to rise. Picture: SuppliedMAKING commonly used medications more expensive could lead to unforeseen complications, pharmacists say, particularly for pensioners and others on a tight budget.
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Pharmaceuticals giantGlaxoSmithKline has announced it will liftthe price of Panadol Osteo by 50 per cent on Friday, at the same time that it, and other common over-the-counter medicines, includingaspirin, and folic acid supplements,arede-listed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The result is a significant price increase, according tothePharmacy Guild of Australia and Health MinsterSussan Ley who has askedtheAustralian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate.

The minister is also urging consumers to shop around, suggesting there aremore than 30 equally-effective paracetamolalternatives for osteoarthritis sufferers.

Pharmacy Guild Executive Director David Quilty is pushing for the de-listing of Panadol Osteo from the PBS to be reversed, given that the decision was made on the basis it would continue to be available over the counter at comparable prices.

Based on the guild’s analysis, those with a concession card will pay up to $142more per year for Panadol Osteothan they did with a prescription under the PBS.

Windale pharmacist Susan Van said customers were very unhappy about the price hikes,with complaints from more than 100 people so far.“A lot of our patients are elderly patients and they all have arthritisof some form,’’ she said.

GOING UP: Changes to the PBS may lead to complications for some patients who use common medications, says Windale pharmacist Susan Van. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

There was a serious risk that patients may start substituting with other medications still available under the PBS or were cheaper, she said, and people were mistaken if they thought they can easily substitute one type of paracetamol for another.

“If they use somethingelse that is not appropriate or codeine-based, then you have other problems, like bowel obstructions, or they may use other products which are not effective.

“They may be paracetamol based but it’s a different formulation, and if it’s not slow release they probably need to dose more often. I think there is a high chance people will start using codeine with Panadol because it’s stronger.”

Patients may also be tempted to skip certain medicines altogether to avoid paying more, she said.

“You may have people hospitalised if they can’t afford it, especially here in Windale and other lowsocio- economic areas.”

Many of those directly affected agree, saying that althoughthe price differences may seem small to some,it will be a serious budgeting issue for them.

Joanne Hayward, of Windale, said the changes would have a significant impact on herpartner,Darryl Gaynor, who needs regular vitamin B12 injections to help treat a liver condition.

“From $24 to $60 per year on a disability pension, it’s a difference of $35.60 which could be better spent on any number of different things due to his other healthproblems,’’ she said.

New Year’s Eve: The anticipation growsphotos

New Year’s Eve: The anticipation grows | photos Pic by @meimei_618
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Pic by @sydneymorningherald: Crowds gather at @sydneyoperahouse ahead of #NewYearsEve 2015. Photo by SMH photographer Steven Siewert.

Pic by @suzanliu: New years eve!! #countdown #barangaroo

Pic by @christiantan808: All set for the New Years celebration on the Harbour ..happy new year

Pic by @ksuzana: Waiting for New Year’s eve Sydney style 🙂

Pic by @paulymarley: People getting ready for the New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve earlybirds have found spots both comfortable and less so in Kirribilli in preparation for tonight’s events. Pic: Nick Moir

Hundreds already preparing for tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebrations at Blues Point, Sydney. Pic: Nick Moir

New Year’s Eve earlybirds have found spots both comfortable and less so in Kirribilli in preparation for tonight’s events. Pic: Nick Moir

Pic by @locochat25

Pic by @lifuljs

Pic by @newportnewyork

Pic by @daisylaf Crew: All ready for NYE

Pic by @la_phinajosa: We stand up at 4am to stand in this line…waiting forward #nye 🎆

Pic by @ae8233: Hi~Sydney

Pic @juliamilevich_: 3.5 hours in and counting… 🙄 #nye #nye2015 #sydney

Pic by @david_lib: Let the #queues begin! #NYE #fireworks #sydney #visitnsw

Pic by @gerardoalvarez: #operahouse #sydney #austalia

Pic by @justina.lin: Happy new year’s eve

TweetFacebookAnd … in Victoria:What will Melbourne look like with 500,000 people in the city on New Year’s Eve?

More thanhalf a million people are expected to flock to the CBD on New Year’s Eveto usher in 2016, so the city is bracing itself for some pretty large crowds.

If you’re planning to come into the CBD for New Year’s, then chances are the Melbourne City Council will monitor your every step so it can work out how to keep the celebrations under control.

Well, sort of. It’s nothing quite that sinister. Rather, the council has installed a network of foot traffic monitoring sensors at 28 locations throughout the city, which keep track of how many pedestrians are passing through. Read more

Most popular holiday destinations for Australians in 2015 named

Cherry blossom season in Japan. Traveller南京夜网419论坛’s readers were more interested in Japan than any other destination in 2015. Photo: iStockAsia remains the focus for Australians looking for holiday inspiration, if this year’s most searched destinations is anything to go by.
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Five of the top 10 most destinations searched on Traveller南京夜网419论坛 in 2015 were in Asia. But the No.1 destination for Traveller南京夜网419论坛’s readers was not Bali or Thailand, but rather – somewhat surprisingly – Japan.

Number two on the list was perennial favourite New York City, while Bali came in at number three, followed by New Zealand. Our neighbour across the Tasman Sea is the number one destination for outbound Australians, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with more than 100,000 Australian residents heading there in October alone.

Two islands followed, but each offers visitors a very different experience. Singapore, at number four, is a stopover favourite for Australians, best known for its food and shopping. Meanwhile Hawaii, at number five, has become a popular beach escape for Aussies as well as a stopover option before heading on to the continental US. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of Australian visitors to Hawaii more than doubled to 310,000 and has continued to grow despite the falling dollar.

Vietnam cemented its place as the new Thailand by coming in at number seven, well ahead of Thailand itself – the traditional Aussie favourite failed to make the top 20.

National travel editor Anthony Dennis said Australia’s interest in Japan has grown dramatically over the years.

“It’s really personally pleasing to see Japan take out the spot of Traveller南京夜网419论坛’s most searched destination for 2015,” he said. “When I first started visiting Japan in the early 1990s I immediately fell in love with it but there was near zero interest in it as a destination among my fellow Australians”.

“But, 25 years or so later, cheaper airfares and the extraordinary popularity of skiing there has helped to alert Australians to the appeal of Japan as a whole, along with a growing appreciation of Japanese cuisine. The misguided perception of Japan as a prohibitively expensive destination seems to have dissipated, too.”

Japan also cracked the top 10 of the most visited destinations by Australians, according to the latest ABS figures, which had visitor numbers at 243,000 in the year to October to come in at number 9. The most visited destination after New Zealand was Indonesia, followed by the USA, UK and Thailand.

The most searched destinations in Australia were Melbourne, Sydney and, oddly enough, Broken Hill.

The top 10 most-searched destinations on Traveller南京夜网419论坛 in 2015. Click on the links for our destination guides and features.

The most-visited destinations by Australians in 2015 (based on ABS data to October)

Traveller’s most shared stories on Facebook in 2015

See also: The top 16 countries to visit in 2016 See also: The 16 things you need to know about travelling in 2016

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Top 5 tips for surviving New Year’s Eve in an unfamiliar city with kids

It is the best of times – and the worst of times.
Nanjing Night Net

Counting “three, two, one” to ring in the New Year, we are at the night markets, eating crepes, overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Our hands warmed with mulled wine, our hearts swelling with sentiment, we know this is the best New Year’s Eve ever.

Until precisely five minutes after midnight, when the crowd converges on the stairs to make the Metro.

We feel like fruit, being squeezed of every last drop.

I clutch Taj’s hand tightly, so he’s not swept beneath someone’s feet.

Grace is on Jason’s shoulders, wearing a mask of terror.

His mother has a smile from ear to ear, as she’s groped by young French men: “Best I’ve felt in years!” she laughs.

We later discover this is fine tradition in the City of Lights: an unedifying crush to cram onto public transport.

New Year’s Eve is often like this, n’cest pas? With children, there’s an added degree of difficulty.

If they’re young, you don’t want to keep them up until midnight. When they’re older, they don’t want to be with you, anyway.

Here are my top five tips for surviving New Year’s Eve, in an unfamiliar city.

1. Research, research, research

The most up-to-date sites are Tripadvisor, Yelp and Twitter. These will help you choose which restaurant to go to, where to see the fireworks, and how to get home.

2. Make sure you rest

It’s a long haul, from 7pm to midnight. The last thing you want is a pair of cantankerous kids ruining all the fun. Bring a blanket and small pillow, so they can nod off.

3. Write your number on their arm

It’s easy to get separated in those throbbing crowds. You can’t microchip your kids (which is a shame). The next best thing is a note in the pocket or indelible marker on the skin.

4. Organise a meeting point

Allow older kids to have their own space, but regroup before midnight. It’s better than enduring a sleepless night, worrying about where your over-excited teens have gone.

5. Stay somewhere self-contained

Sure, going out for dinner on New Year’s Eve is fun. But often there’s a fixed price for three courses, which is a waste of money if you have fickle kids. Eat in your room before venturing out.

This is what we do in Paris, collecting produce from the food hall at Le Bon Marche for a family feast.

After eating the traditional ‘king cake’, kindly gifted by our hosts through Airbnb, we decide to hit the streets.

We can’t believe our luck when we nab a taxi at 10pm.

Later, we realise it’s because only foolish tourists go out on réveillon de nouvel an.

For locals, it’s more like Christmas Eve: a time to spend at home with family or friends.

Whatever you do, and wherever you go, try to relax. If it all goes pear-shaped, there’s always a good dinner party story.

Our Parisian adventure goes down in family folklore as a night Nanna will never forget.

Happy New Year!

Email: [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

Twitter & Instagram: @TraceySpicer

​See also: The best cities to spend New Year’s Eve

See also: Control your kids – there’s no naughty corner on a plane

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

Victoria bushfires: Massive effort unleashed

Pic: @CFA_UpdatesStrike team heads to fire zoneTotal fire ban for New Year’s EveBarbecue sparks fire►Around BALLARAT:A watch and act message has been issued for Cardigan and Lucas. The fire is currently not under control. Keep up-to-date here
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►NearPORT FAIRY:Three water bombing aircraft have joined 20 ground crews attacking a grass fire burning near Yambuk. The latest here

►NearBENDIGO:Threegrassfires near Kyabramhave ignited, with the Country Fire Authority sending four trucks to the scene.Get the latest here.

Nightmare conditions return to Great Ocean RoadOne of the largest aerial firefighting operations in Victoria’s history will be unleashed on Thursday in an attempt to control a blaze that could again threatencommunities along the Great Ocean Road.

Emergency services are preparing fora return of the nightmare conditions that saw fire tear through Wye River and Separation Creek on Christmas Day, destroying 116 homes.

One of the largest aerial firefighting operations in Victoria’s history will be unleashed on Thursday in an attempt to control a blaze that could again threatencommunities along the Great Ocean Road.

Emergency services are preparing fora return of the nightmare conditions that saw fire tear through Wye River and Separation Creek on Christmas Day, destroying 116 homes.

Mr Todd said steep terrainand heavyforestmade thefire difficult to fight, meaning a massive air operation involving 60 aircraft was the best hope of stopping it fromspreading.

“Sixty aircraft on the one fire is among the most we’ve ever had and that shows the level of risk of this fire,” he said.

A cool change is expected to pass through the area in the afternoon andthe wind shouldshift south, but no rain is expected.

Residents inLorne have been told to keep watch on a separatefire that continues to burn to its west, with fears a southerly wind change could see it flare up and again threaten the holiday town.

An evacuation order was issued for Lorne and surrounding areason Christmas Day.

Mr Todd said the devastated towns of Wye River and Separation Creek were still closed.Residents were allowed in to view the area but not allowed to say.

A severe fire-danger warning and total fire banis in place for communities along the Great Ocean Road, as well as in the South West, West,Central, and South Gippsland districts.

New Year’s Eve fireworks have been cancelled along the Surf Coast, andthe Great Ocean Road remains closed between Lorne and Skenes Creek.

Firefighter Greg Morris finishes the night shift in Wye River on Wednesday morning. Photo: Penny Stephens