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Nitro Circus’ Jackson Strong injured in fireworks explosion

Original source:The Daily Advertiser
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Lockhart’s motocross star Jackson Strong is one of two menseriously hurt in a fireworks explosion at his home.

Details of the incident are still being gathered, but Mr Strong’s father, Lyndon,confirmed his son had been hurt in a New Year’s fireworks blast.

Strong has made an international name for himself in the daring motocross arena, rising from performing at the Lockhart Show as a youth to bagging swags of medals on the international stage.

PHOTOS: Jackson Strong in action

Strong, the reigning X Games Best Trick gold medalist,has ridden for Nitro Circus and most recently performed in Wagga as part of the Nitro Circus regional tour.

Ambulance media said paramedics responded to reports of a fireworks explosion on Milbrulong Road about 12.10am today.

A spokeswoman said two patients were taken to Wagga Base Hospital.

Jackson Strong, 22,is reported to be the more seriously hurt.

He suffered a serious leg injury as well as chest and facial injuries.

Pictures of Mr Strong’s facial injuries have been posted on his website www.jackostrong南京夜网.

“His left leg around his thigh is the worst part,” a worriedLyndon Strong said.

“He will pull through, no worries at all.”

He was flown into Wagga by helicopter and thenafter treatment at the base hospital was flown by plane to Sydney where he was admitted to the burns unit of St George Hospital.

A second man suffered a lower leg wound.

He is believed to be a good friend of Mr Jackson and was celebrating the new year with him.

X Games gold medallist and Nitro Circus star Jackson Strong has been injured in a fireworks explosion. WARNING: NEXT PICTURE CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

Jackson Strong posted this photo of his injuries on his website, jackostrong南京夜网

Ambulance media said he was a 20-year-old, but a spokeswoman for Murrumbidgee Local Health District said it was believed he was 28.

He is being treated in Wagga Base Hospital and is in a stable condition.

It is believed the incident happened on Mr Strong’s family property, where he regularly spends time and has filmed for a documentary,Headstrong.

In 2012, Strong became the first Australian to win back-to-back gold medals in the X Games Moto Best Trick category after creating history with the first-ever front-slip in competition and unveiling a body varial, The Jack.

Lockhart Shire Council did not have a fireworks display for New Year’s Eve.

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Baby Isaac the first of 2014

THE new year will be filled with hope and joy for Naomi and Jonathan Stucken who on Wednesdaywelcomed their first baby to the world.
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Baby Isaac, 12 days overdue when he was finally born at 1.35am on New Year’s Day, was also the first baby born at Orange Hospital in 2014.

He weighed 4.48 kilograms (9.8 pounds) and was 60 centimetres (23.6 inches) long.

“It’s been a bit of a marathon, but I’m just so happy he’s here,” Mrs Stucken said.

The first-time parents said they were a little nervous leading up to the birth, which was scheduled at Orange hospital instead of their home town in Cowra, due to a lack of an anesthetist over the festive period.

“When you know he’s so big I was quite nervous,” Mrs Stucken said.

“But I was very happy and relieved when he came out safely.

The name Isaac is an ancient translation meaning’he will laugh’, a fact the couple were aware of whentheychose the name based onone of their favourite bible stories.

Mrs Stucken said she had nothing but praise for the staff in Orange hospital’s maternity ward.

“I don’t think you’d have better service in Sydney, their standard of care is amazing,” Mrs Stucken said.

“Staff have been amazing and everyone we’ve spoken to is so helpful.”

[email protected]南京夜网.au

THE BEST NEW YEAR: Naomi and Jonathan Stucken with son Isaac, who was the first baby born at Orange Hospital in 2014. Photo: LUKE SCHUYLER

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Vansittart Park hosts thousands at NYE party

HAILED A SUCCESS: Mount Gambier Community Events Management Inc (MGCEMI) chair Steve Toope was pleased with how the fourth annual New Year’s Eve community celebrations were received. Pictures: BRETT KENNEDY NEED FOR SPEED: Cooper Bobridge (8) got behind the wheel of the go-karts, one of many amusements for the hundreds of children on site.
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VISITORS GALORE: Mount Gambier’s New Year’s Eve community celebrations attracted many visitors, including Adelaide’s Kobi, 8, and Levi Swanson, 5, and Lily Cunningham, 3, who enjoyed building a block tower.

HEAVY HITTING: The Riot City Wrestling crew was once again a smash hit with the crowd, as many cheered on GD Grimm, who outmuscled his opponent.

BUBBLE TROUBLE: Cassidy Lynagh, 5, was extra bubbly Tuesday night at the Mount Gambier Community New Year’s Eve celebrations.

NO SEATING ROOM: Adelaide-based Circus Elements entertainer Scott Griffin got the crowd involved in his performance.

VANSITTART Park hosted thousands of revellers on New Years Eveas families and friends came together to usher in 2014 at the fourth annual Mount Gambier Community New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Residents flocked into the venue from the Wehl Street entrance, making their way to the centre of the oval where jumping castles, merry-go-rounds, musicians and wrestlers waited to entertain the festive crowds.

Mount Gambier Community Events Management Incorporated chair Steve Toope said he was happy with the community response.

“I think it all went pretty well, the weather gods were definitely smiling on us,” Mr Toope said.

“You only have to look out the window today (Wednesday) to realise we were lucky.

“At the end of the day we didn’t have any hassles or hitches.

“We aim to get about 3500-4500 people and at a rough guess I’d say we were around the mark.

“It was a similar size crowd to 2012.”

Mr Toope said he received positive feedback from residents throughout the night.

“The fireworks were obviously well-received and everyone seemed happy with the range of entertainment,” he said.

“From an organiser point of view, I’ve really got nothing to complain about.”

Mr Toope said the central Vansittart Park location once again proved to be a winner.

“The one thing I see on New Year’s Eve when I’m walking about the area is that from a family perspective, it’s a good venue to go to,” he said.

“The kids can go off and parents know they will be safe and you see all the extended family catching up with a rug on the grass.

“From my point of view, I look at it as one of those events that friends and families can really come together, sit down and have a chat to catch up.

“From a parent’s perspective, if the kids are being entertained, then that can mean the parents or grandparents are in for an easier night.”

With live music a strong feature of the night, Mr Toope said the committee’s gamble on securing the services of Adelaide band Platinum Plus paid off.

“I think they went down really well, they were a tight outfit,” he said.

“We sort of punted that they’d fit the demographic and that’s exactly what happened.

“It was very easy listening and family friendly, so they were a good fit.”

While a large portion of the crowd left after the early fireworks, Mr Toope said organisers were prepared for the exodus, with other people still entering the venue right up until the stroke of midnight.

“That’s how we’ve designed the night, because we understand a lot of people have younger families,” he said.

While the committee has barely had time to celebrate the beginning of 2014 with plenty of packing up done yesterday morning, the next installment is already on their minds.

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The Syndicate (season premiere)

Cautionary tale: The Syndicate.Saturday, BBC UKTV, 8.30pm
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This BBC drama series falls firmly into the category of ”be careful what you wish for”, as it traces the impact on a handful of workmates of a multimillion-pound lottery win.

The first season featured supermarket workers in Leeds, while this second one follows the fortunes of co-workers at a public hospital in Yorkshire.

Created and written by Kay Mellor, each of the six episodes focuses on one of the characters and none of them could be classed as comfortable middle-class medico. The first and last episodes revolve around careworn nurse Mandy (Siobhan Finneran), wife of the abusive Steve (Steven Waddington), mother of trainee nurse Becky (Natalie Gavin) and grandmother of Becky’s young daughter. In between her bookending episodes are chapters about bubbly Becky, nurse Tom (Jimi Mistry), lively auxiliary nurse Rose (Alison Steadman) and Alan (Mark Addy), who transports patients around the hospital. Scowling on the periphery is Helen (Sally Rogers), who started the syndicate but left before it hit the jackpot and believes that she’s entitled to a share of the winnings.

Mellor has a history of developing engaging dramas about groups of characters, often with a focus on women: Fat Friends, about a slimming club; Band of Gold, about prostitutes working the same street; The Chase, about female vets. Here, she introduces the central characters and provides enough information about each of them to keep the plot cooking. Mandy, in particular, makes the heart ache.

Like all the characters, she is looking for a little luck in her life and is hoping that this windfall will alleviate some of the more pressing problems. We’ll have to wait and see, but the opener certainly suggests that it’s worth staying tuned.

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Krygios gets good injury news

Nick Kyrgios has had positive news about his injured shoulder and could play in the International Sydney qualifiers on Saturday.
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The emerging Canberra tennis star was forced to withdraw from the first round of this week’s Brisbane International, where he was drawn to play fellow Australian Matthew Ebden after getting a wildcard into the main draw.

There were fears his summer was over before it began.

It left Kyrgios shattered as he hoped to make a big impression in his first Australian summer on the senior tour.

But he received good news from the doctor in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach Simon Rea said there was ”potentially some bursitis” (an inflammation of a fluid sac in the joint) but there was no need for surgery at this stage.

It is hoped resting the shoulder will have Kyrgios right to play by the weekend.

Rea said it was too early to say whether Kyrgios would get a wildcard into the Australian Open, starting in Melbourne on January 13. The only focus was getting fit for Sydney.

”We saw our chief doctor Tim Wood and that was helpful,” Rea said on Wednesday.

”The shoulder’s in good nick structurally, which is the main thing and we’ve just got to see what plays out over the next few days.

”Potentially [there’s] some bursitis. If Nick’s right to play in Sydney that would be great, we’ll head to Sydney tomorrow night.

”And if he’s not right for Sydney we’ll aim for the Australian Open. If he’s not right there we’ll aim for something later.

”The main thing is his long-term wellbeing and what’s in his best long-term interest. The doc’s report was encouraging.”

Kyrgios had a breakout 2013 and was hoping this year he would continue his climb up the rankings.

The world No.182 beat Radek Stepanek in his French Open debut, played Davis Cup for the first time and qualified for the US Open.

But an elbow injury ended his 2013 prematurely and just when he was right to return to playing his shoulder pulled up sore.

”He was heartbroken about not being to play, he really had his heart set on playing in Brisbane and was really grateful for the opportunity and had put in a lot of hard work over the pre-season to get ready,” Rea said.

”He seems in better spirits now … he’ll bounce back just fine.”

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PM Tony Abbott under fire over looming health bill surge

Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Andrew MearesAustralian politics: full coverageCoalition set to break jobs pledgeComment: Jobs key to disability pension reform
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Decisions made by Tony Abbott when he was health minister will soon cause a blowout in healthcare costs, dwarfing potential savings from a $6 fee for GP visits, a health workforce expert says.

As health minister in the Howard government, Mr Abbott oversaw a massive expansion of new medical schools, leading to an oversupply of graduating doctors, said Peter Brooks, former director of the Australian Health Workforce Institute and now a professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Australia is expected to have 2811 superfluous doctors by 2025, according to projections in a 2012 report by the government body Health Workforce Australia. The figure assumes a modest 5 per cent increase in productivity in the healthcare system.

Professor Brooks said health lobby groups often say Australia will be short 2700 doctors by 2025, but the figure was misleading because it assumed no productivity gains would be made.

The boom in medical graduates would lead to a blowout in costs, with doctors already giving patients too many unnecessary procedures so they could earn a good living in Australia’s fee-for-service system, Professor Brooks said.

At least $20 billion of ”low-value” medical procedures were being done every year.

Professor Brooks said if Mr Abbott wanted a ”sustainable” healthcare system he should fix these multibillion-dollar structural healthcare problems rather than ”fiddling” with fees for GP visits.

The Medicare controversy began at the weekend with reports of a submission to the government’s Commission of Audit by Mr Abbott’s former health adviser, Terry Barnes. Mr Barnes said the government would save $750 million over four years by forcing bulk-billing patients to pay $6 to visit their GP for the first 12 visits a year.

A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said the Coalition ”won’t be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend”.

”Labor spent a lot of money on creating huge health bureaucracies,” she said. ”The Coalition government is committed to directing more of that money back to delivering and improving front-line services for patients.”

Professor Brooks said debate over the $6 fee was obscuring a more important debate over healthcare costs.

Australian governments had become ”doctor obsessed”, ignoring evidence that many tasks performed by doctors could be given to other professionals such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The healthcare system is plagued by waste, according to the CareTrack study published in 2012, with patients getting appropriate care in only 57 per cent of visits to doctors.

Another study published in 2012, led by Adam Elshaug from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, identified 156 ”low-value” medical services. Questionable, expensive procedures cited included arthroscopic surgery for knee osteoarthritis, prostatectomy for early-stage prostate cancer, upper airway surgery for sleep apnoea and acupuncture for depression.

In recent years federal governments have allowed new medical schools to open at Deakin University in Victoria, Bond, James Cook and Griffith universities in Queensland, Notre Dame in Western Australia and NSW, and New England, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities in NSW.

Health Workforce Australia reports that in 2003, 1889 students began medical degrees. By 2012 there were 3686 students beginning medicine studies.

The medical education peak body, Medical Deans Australia, says medical graduates more than doubled between 1996 and 2012, excluding international students.

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Fourteen of the best films to keep an eye out for in 2014

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as corporate hustler Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Blue is the Warmest Colour
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Movie session timesFull movies coverage

It’s true: a fourth Transformers, a third Expendables and a second 21 Jump Street are heading for cinemas this year, plus what must be an 11th Spider-Man and possibly a 17th X-Men. But not everything will be a Hollywood sequel or a popcorn movie. Here are 14 movies to catch in 2014, including some likely best picture nominees for the Oscars.Her

Director: Spike JonzeStars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara.

The buzz has been exceptional for a futuristic tale about a professional letter writer who falls for his computer operating system, voiced by Johansson.

Prediction: Scarlett Johansson will be offered millions to voice satnavs, mobile phones and bedside digital clocks.

Out: January 16

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directors: Ethan and Joel CoenStars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake.

A struggling singer-songwriter tries to get a break in the New York folk scene in the 1960s.

Prediction: Someone, somewhere is planning a biopic of Marcus Mumford from Mumford & Sons.

Out: January 16

The Monuments Men

Director: George ClooneyStars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman.

During World War II, an unlikely team of museum directors, curators and art historians heads into Nazi Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces.

Prediction: Will do for museum curators what Indiana Jones did for archaeologists.

Out: March 13

The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin ScorseseStars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey.

Scorsese and DiCaprio team up again for the rousing story of Jordan Belfort, who became one of America’s great corporate hustlers in the ’90s.

Prediction: While it might be meant as a cautionary tale, many in the finance sector will see it as a training video.

Out: January 23

12 Years A Slave

Director: Steve McQueenStars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch.

An emotional drama based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, who was hijacked into slavery from Washington to the Deep South in 1841.

Prediction: Might well jag best picture at the Oscars and at least nominations for Ejiofor, who plays Northup, and Nyong’o, who plays a slave named Patsey.

Out: January 30

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Director: Justin ChadwickStars: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

The timing could hardly be better for a bio-pic of the great South African freedom fighter who became his country’s inspirational president.

Prediction: Screenings for the deaf will not be using the sign language expert from Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

Out: February 6

Blue is the Warmest Colour

Director: Abdellatif KechicheStars: Adele Exarchopoulos, Lea Seydoux.

A teenage girl meets a blue-haired lesbian in a French film that won the top prize at Cannes and famously features a graphic seven-minute sex scene.

Prediction: While his sister might see it, the Prime Minister is unlikely to take the family.

Out: February 13

Wolf Creek 2

Director: Greg McleanStars: John Jarratt, Ryan Corr, Shannon Ashlyn.

Nine years after Wolf Creek became a cult hit, Mick Taylor is back terrorising tourists in the outback.

Prediction: A singalong to Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport in the film will not revive Rolf Harris’ career.

Out: February 20

Tracks

Director: John CurranStars: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver.

Adaptation of Robyn Davidson’s famous book about her epic trek through the outback with camels in the 1970s.

Prediction: Taking a cue from the dancing Spanish horses of El Caballo Blanco, watch for the launch of El Camello Blanco.

Out: March 6

Noah

Director: Darren AronofskyStars: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins

In a year when Hollywood aims to cash in on biblical movies, Noah builds an ark to protect his family from a coming flood.

Prediction: Bunnings will do a roaring trade in DIY ark kits.

Out: March 27

The Rover

Director: David MichodStars: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson and Scoot McNairy.

After impressing the world with Animal Kingdom, Michod’s follow-up is a futuristic drama about a loner who tracks a criminal gang in the outback.

Prediction: Twilight fans who go will spend the entire movie wondering if RPatz is still with KStew.

Out: July 31

Untitled Lance Armstrong Movie

Director: Stephen FrearsStars: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman, Guillaume Canet

The rise and fall of the champion cyclist, drawing on David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong.

Prediction: Will do nothing for sales of Armstrong’s books.

Out: Possibly October

The Hobbit: There and Back Again

Director: Peter JacksonStars: Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ian McKellen

The final instalment of the Hobbit trilogy.

Prediction: It will the biggest Boxing Day in Australian cinema history as fans flock to see how the story ends.

Out: December 26

Unbroken

Director: Angelina JolieStars: Jack O’Connell, Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney.

The story of Italian-American Olympic distance track star Louis Zamperini who became a hero during World War II.

Prediction: Will be popular in Sydney, which co-stars as ”background”.

Out: December 26

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Tour Down Under cycling: Drapac’s Tom Palmer gives GreenEDGE a warning

Drapac-Skoda cyclist Tom Palmer. Photo: Jeffrey ChanHe’s a little known rookie preparing for his first pro event, but Canberra’s Tom Palmer refuses to be intimidated by the prospect of racing European big names Thomas Voeckler and Andre Greipel at this month’s Tour Down Under.
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Palmer is part of the Australian-based Drapac-Skoda team, which has moved up to Pro-Continental level for the first time.

He declared reputations will count for little as the team looks to rival Australian powerhouse Orica-GreenEDGE.

Palmer is the team’s longest-serving rider, having joined it seven years ago while still at school, but at 23 is also its youngest.

”You need to step on the gas straight away,” he said.

”If you let yourself be intimidated by those bigger teams you’re going to run into trouble.

”If you look back at the history of the race it doesn’t necessarily favour the big names and famous guys from Europe. I think we’re in with a really good chance.”

The all-Australian team, headed by world tour veteran Jonathan Cantwell, will finish its preparations at next week’s national road championships at Ballarat.

”We’re not going to sit back and think we’re the underdogs and we’re happy to come second, we’re going to be up there trying to prove ourselves,” Palmer said.

”It looks to be a team which isn’t hedging its bets on stage wins or breakaways, it looks like a team which wants to be able to go for everything.”

Palmer raced for a composite team in 2012. Usually in the thick of sprint finishes, Palmer will be the lead-out rider for Cantwell. He believes this role suits his style.

”That’s definitely my role – to look after Jonny and try and lead him out in those sprint finishes,” he said.

”It’s going to be a massive thrill to have someone like him, with that experience and speed. He’s been good for the confidence of the team and is giving everyone the belief we can do it.”

Palmer said Drapac was relishing the Australians’ team mentality. ”At our first camp a lot of the guys who have been with foreign teams before were really happy to be surrounded by Aussies again.”

Fellow Canberra riders Michael Matthews and Mathew Hayman have also been named in GreenEDGE’s seven-rider Tour Down Under team.

Meanwhile, a host of Canberra riders, led by Gracie Elvin and Chloe Hosking, will continue their national road championship preparations at the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic, from Thursday.

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Robbie McEwen tells UCI to deal with clenbuterol in China

Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen says the International Cycling Union (UCI) has to take some responsibility for any positive tests to clenbuterol in China, despite the cycling body’s claims it has put measures in place to protect cyclists competing there.
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Canberra cyclist and three-time world champion Michael Rogers remains provisionally suspended after testing positive to clenbuterol at the Japan Cup in October, a week after competing in the Tour of Beijing in China.

Rogers has claimed he never ”knowingly or deliberately ingested clenbuterol” and says he fears the adverse result may be from contaminated meat in China.

Belgian cyclist Jonathan Breyne also tested positive after competing in China in October and November. He attempted suicide after being notified of the result.

The cycling union has acknowledged it knew about issues with clenbuterol in Chinese meat since the Beijing Tour began in 2011 and had put measures in place by employing a ”dedicated cook to supervise food” in the riders’ hotels.

Having originally called for racing in China to be suspended, McEwen said meat for future events should be imported.

”If they’re saying they’ve taken this precaution so it doesn’t happen, and then it does happen, then they’ve got to take some sort of responsibility,” he said. ”They’ve got to at least acknowledge there’s a bigger problem and they’ve got to look at another solution.

”Having dedicated cooks in the kitchens makes zero difference, it’s where the meat is coming from,” he said.

”Assuming the meat is the problem – and I see that as being odds-on that it is – they’ve got to do one of two things: either make races in China vegetarian, you eat meat at your own risk; or you take a bit more responsibility as organisers of the race and import meat from somewhere they know is safe.

”It’s fairly simple.”

McEwen took to Twitter after Rogers’ positive test and questioned whether some riders would be cautious about returning to China in 2014.

McEwen said Breyne’s story highlighted the importance of the UCI fixing the problem. ”It can spell the end of someone’s career, but it nearly spelt the end of his life,” he said. ”That’s how hard he took it.”

UCI spokesman Louis Chenaille said the union would work with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

”The Tour of Beijing organisers, the UCI, the local authorities and the teams have been discussing the issue of food safety since the first edition of the race in 2011,” he told website VeloNation.

”Measures put in place as a result of these discussions include the employment by the organisers of a dedicated cook to supervise food in all the hotels which house the riders during the race.

”The UCI will be discussing this issue with all parties concerned, particularly with WADA, to see if there are improvements which can be made to the current regulatory structure and the arrangements in place at the race.”

If you need someone to talk to, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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Warrnambool Cheese & Butter takeover battle to take further twists in 2014

Unresolved: Takeover tussle.Warrnambool Cheese & Butter chief David Lord did not get his Christmas wish, with the takeover battle for his company failing to finish in 2013.
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And the cheese war looks set to heat up this year as former bidder Bega Cheese seeks the best possible price for its stake, and speculation mounts that a Chinese bidder will enter the fray.

WCB, the fourth-largest dairy processor, collecting 900 million litres of milk a year, has been the subject of a three-way takeover battle between Bega Cheese, Canada’s Saputo and Australia’s biggest dairy exporter, Murray Goulburn.

The bidding war has pushed WCB’s market value from $200 million to $520 million as dairy players jostle for position to capitalise on soaring Asian demand.

Bega Cheese kicked off the wheeling and dealing with its cash-and-scrip bid (worth $5.78 at the time) in September.

Saputo is offering an unconditional $9 a share in cash plus 20¢ a share each time Saputo passes acceptance hurdles of 50.1 per cent, 75 per cent and 90 per cent.

The Montreal-based dairy company’s offer has the backing of WCB’s board.

Murray Goulburn has an offer of $9.50 cash on the table, conditional on getting 50.1 per cent of WCB and regulatory approval from the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Bega is now out of the race after letting its offer of $2 cash and 1.5 Bega shares close on December 20.

According to its latest substantial shareholder filing, Bega is the largest single shareholder in WCB, with an 18.8 per cent stake.

Murray Goulburn and Saputo, which have respective WCB shareholdings of 17.7 per cent and 17.9 per cent, will be scrambling to sweet talk Bega’s Barry Irvin about his stake, but rumours of another bidder wading into the takeover battle mean Bega could be better off waiting.

Media reports last week said China Investment Corporation is backing a Chinese food group that is looking to acquire WCB.

Demand for dairy products in China is outstripping supply and domestic production growth.

Any Chinese bidder would have to contend with the crowded WCB register. Alongside Bega, Murray Goulburn and Saputo, Lion – a subsidiary of Japanese food and beverages company Kirin – is the fourth strategic investor, with 10 per cent.

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Retailers are expected to receive a $15 billion post-Christmas windfall in consumer spending

Clothing sales are tipped to rise by 3.9 per cent in the post-Christmas period. Photo: Max Mason-HubersRetailers are set to get their share of festive cheer this holiday season, with after-Christmas sales expected to surge past $15 billion.
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Consumers are projected to spend about $15.1 billion from Boxing Day to mid-January, a 3.8 per cent rise from last year, the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan Research said.

”[It’s] a positive sign for the retail sector,” said association executive director Russell Zimmerman. ”It is also great to see all states and territories predicted to experience positive growth this post-Christmas period.”

The boost to retailers’ coffers is expected to be driven by a 6.2 per cent lift in spending at cafes, followed by a 3.9 per cent rise in clothing sales.

Spending on food, the largest category in the post-Christmas sales, is tipped to increase by 3.8 per cent to $6.2 billion.

The gain is expected to be shared across the country, with the Northern Territory leading the way with year-on-year growth estimated at 6.1 per cent.

Western Australia is forecast to record the weakest growth, at 2 per cent, reflecting the effect of the peak in the resources investment boom.

Last week, the Australian National Retail Association released a slightly higher forecast of $17.6 billion for spending during the post-festive period.

Internet spending was expected to soar by 13.8 per cent to $2.8 billion.

The retail sector has had a difficult 2013. Retail sales grew strongly in January and February, but remained weak through most of the year despite two interest rate cuts in May and August.

But retail sales figures for September and October jumped a better than expected 0.9 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively. Economists said it was growing evidence that the rate cuts were stimulating non-mining sectors.

The initial boost to consumer and business confidence after the federal election, the sharemarket’s best performance in four years, and the strong rise in house prices in some capital cities also increased retailers’ expectations the sector could be recovering.

Even so, consumers continue to be cautious, with the savings ratio at its highest in recent years, and as wage growth remains slow. The household savings rate rose by almost 1 percentage point to 11.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2013, figures released by the Bureau of Statistics showed.

At the same time, credit growth remains soft. Private-sector credit rose by a weaker than expected 0.3 per cent in November, taking the annual growth rate to 3.8 per cent, Reserve Bank data showed.

”Overall, the pace of credit growth continues to run well below the longer-run average rate of around 12 per cent per annum,” Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman said.

”Since the [financial crisis] the new norm is for quite modest household credit growth and very weak business credit growth.”

Mr Workman said consumers and businesses were reluctant to increase their leverage as fears about job security and profitability continue. The jobless rate is expected to rise past 6 per cent this year as mining investment weakens and the economy continues to grow below trend.

The Australian Retailers Association again called for the RBA to cut the cash rate to lift consumer spending. But the central bank has appeared reluctant to ease monetary policy further.

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Forget houses; shrewd investors are turning to warehouses

The boom in e-commerce and the rising use of the internet will bring boom-time conditions to the industrial property sector in the coming year, according to logistics leasing experts.
Nanjing Night Net

With internet sales tipped to top $20 billion in Australia this year, owning a distribution facility and warehouse will be a priority for many investors, from super funds and real estate investment trusts to small investors.

New research from Jones Lang LaSalle and Colliers International shows the already scarce supply of suitable industrial assets will be even tighter this year.

According to Richard Thompson at Jones Lang LaSalle, as e-commerce logistics models develop, they will drive huge changes in physical distribution networks comparable with previous changes generated by the rise of global sourcing, or the earlier centralisation of deliveries to retail stores via retailer-controlled distribution centres.

”This will give rise to a new class of logistics and distribution properties, including mega e-fulfilment centres, parcel hubs and delivery centres, local ‘urban logistics’ depots for rapid order fulfilment, and returns processing centres,” he said.

Malcom Tyson, managing director (industrial) at Colliers International, said logistics would dominate leasing in the coming year.

”During the second half of 2013, the industrial market featured some notable leasing transactions undertaken by logistics specialists,” he said.

”This occurred as retailers and logistics firms continue to come under increasing pressure to adapt to the next phase in e-commerce.”

Mr Tyson said some examples included Blue Star Logistics lease for 13,799 square metres in Acacia Ridge in Brisbane, and DB Schenker’s 31,220 sq m in Redbank, also in Brisbane, and SCF Group’s take up of 50,000 sq m in Tottenham.

”These larger transactions are set to increase in 2014 as business and transport-cost pressures continue to rise and the attraction of a tenancy in rail, road and port hubs grows,” he said.

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PTTEP in court challenge to resource tax bill ruling

The Thai company responsible for one of Australia’s worst oil spills, PTTEP, is challenging its petroleum resource rent tax (PRRT) bill in the full Federal Court.
Nanjing Night Net

PTTEP, which runs the Montara oilfield in the Timor Sea, north of Western Australia, has appealed against a November Federal Court ruling knocking out tax deductions it claimed at its former Jabiru and Challis projects.

The company ran into trouble in 2009 when a 74-day spill at Montara gushed 29,600 barrels of oil into the Timor Gap, causing a 90,000-square-kilometre slick.

Despite the spill, 18 months later the then resources minister, Martin Ferguson, gave PTTEP the green light to expand its operations in Australia.

In a court case that goes to the heart of how PRRT liabilities are calculated, PTTEP claims it should be allowed to deduct about $3.7 million from its tax bill for ”interest value amounts” credited to its customer between 2006 and 2008.

The PRRT, introduced in 1987, applies to the production of oil and gas. The Rudd government initially modelled its controversial mining tax on the PRRT, but it was heavily altered before being introduced in 2012 and the Abbott government has promised it will be repealed.

In appeal notices filed with the Federal Court last month, PTTEP said between 2006 and 2008 it sold about $293 million worth of crude oil from Jabiru and Challis to Singaporean-registered company Petro Summit, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo.

The price paid by Petro Summit was based on the expected number of barrels to be shipped and the average Tapis crude price for the month in which the oil was supplied.

But the price for each shipment was then adjusted using a complex formula that took into account the actual number of barrels supplied.

If the calculation revealed Petro Summit had paid too much, it was entitled to interest on the overpayment amount of 2 per cent above Libor, the London interbank offered rate.

PTTEP told the court the ”interest value amount” was ”an expense incurred in connection with the actual sale process” and therefore should be allowed as a tax deduction under the PRRT law.

Justice Michelle Gordon rejected the submission, saying the law required a ”close connection between the expense and the sale transaction”.

She said the interest value amounts ”were the cost of obtaining an advance of funds based in anticipated sales, not an expense in relation to a particular sale”.

PTTEP has asked the full Federal Court to set aside Justice Gordon’s ruling, saying the payments ”constituted expenses payable … in relation to the sale of a marketable petroleum commodity” under the PRRT law.

”The interest value amounts were incurred by the appellant [PTTEP] in carrying on the project,” it said in its notice of appeal.

A preliminary hearing is set for February 2.

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