How to turn an app into a business

Come up with an idea for an app, develop it, put it on the App Store at 99c a pop – and wait for the millions to roll in.

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If turning an idea for an app into a successful business were this easy we’d all be doing it.

“A lot of the time the problem isn’t actually making the app, it’s actually building a sustainable business model and something that can scale,” says Mark McDonald, one of the founders of app developer and investor Appster. “A lot of people think that building an app is just this thing you do and suddenly it makes money on the app store.”

Along with his business partner Josiah Humphrey, McDonald has developed more than 80 apps, including one for radio personalities Hamish & Andy and one called BlueDot that allows motorists to pay tolls with their mobile phones instead of using an e-tag.

“It’s really about building a company as opposed to just making an app,” McDonald says.

“The apps that are successful are those that are run like a start-up – they actually have people working full-time driving them, they have a marketing plan, they have a business development plan and they’re constantly seeking investment.”

With over a million apps available around the work, the sector is very competitive, so new apps need a professional approach if they’re going to get traction and build a user base.

For those who get it right the rewards can be significant, as it is one of Australia’s most profitable industries. Business forecaster IBISWorld says 45 per cent of the revenue earned by app makers translates directly to profit.

App development in Australia has grown from almost nothing five years ago to an industry forecast to earn $176 million in profit from revenues of a little under $400 million, IBISWorld says.

It expects strong growth to continue over the next five years, driven by increased smartphone take-up and more online shopping.

Australia has traditionally lagged countries such as the US in terms of the “ecosystem” for developing apps and web businesses, in entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness of investors to put money into new and unproven ideas.

But Benjamin Chong, a founder of Right Click Capital, which invests in early-stage internet businesses, says Australia is catching up. “There are more people who I’ve come into contact with who are interested in at least exploring the possibility of joining a start-up and there are more programs around that can help support founders and I’m also seeing people who are prepared to invest in this,” he says.

Chong says that when investors consider apps, they want to see a business that has the potential to be global, not one that’s tied to a particular geography.

Matthew Macfarlane, investment director at the $40 million Yuuwa Capital venture capital firm, says investors want to see an app that will generate ongoing revenue, not just make one-off 99c sales.

“Unless there’s in-app purchases or some kind of subscription component in the app, it’s very challenging to excite investors like venture capital firms,” he says. “As long as you’ve game play or some kind of value proposition that continues to makes customer continue to engage and pay then it’s all fine.”

Macfarlane says almost all apps already have competitors when they launch, so app makers need to test the market before launch to ensure their product is sufficiently differentiated. “It doesn’t have to be a unique idea, but it has to be extremely well executed,” he says.

App businesses need to build an “addictive” app that will keep customers spending, and Appster’s Mark McDonald says this is more science than art. Half of apps are actually abandoned after the first use, denying the owner of any chance of future revenue, says McDonald.

Part of this is trying to build a “habit pattern” into the product, using scientifically tested psychological ploys like needs, hooks, triggers and rewards.

“For instance, Facebook targets people who want social interaction, so they have a hook, but they also have a trigger action – something with which they can grab attention – like a notification or a photo’s been commented on,” says McDonald. “Then they have some sort of reward. In the case of Facebook it’s a social reward – the validation that someone’s liked your post.”

Another key to success is to ensure that the app has a feature so that users can tell others about the application and invite them to use it, so that the users themselves effectively take on much of the marketing effort, says McDonald.

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Mike Baird to wrongdoers: ‘I’m your worst nightmare’

NSW Premier Mike Baird. Photo: Kate GeraghtyMike Baird has delivered a stern warning to anyone found guilty of wrongdoing during recent investigations by the state’s corruption watchdog: “I’m your worst nightmare.”

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The Premier was due to meet newly appointed NSW Liberal party state director Tony Nutt on Wednesday afternoon to discuss evidence aired during hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption into allegations of illegal political donations.

The ICAC has heard claims that some of the party’s most senior officials, including finance director Simon McInnes, were complicit in seeking to disguise payments from prohibited donors to bankroll the NSW Liberal 2011 election campaign.

Labor has called on Mr Baird to shut down the party’s main fundraising body, the Millennium Forum, which the ICAC has heard was used to launder banned donations, along with another entity called the Free Enterprise Foundation.

Asked if that was a reasonable demand, Mr Baird said that “what’s reasonable is we need to clean up the culture of politics in NSW”.

“We’ll be taking appropriate responses and we’ll be doing it in a way that restores trust and confidence, not only to the party but to the entire government process,” he said.

Mr Baird’s predecessor, Barry O’Farrell, resigned as premier during a previous inquiry into infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings after giving false evidence in relation to the gift of a $3000 bottle of Grange Hermitage from a Liberal party fundraiser, Nick Di Girolamo.

The hearings focused fresh scrutiny on to the culture of political lobbying in NSW.

Mr Baird said that it was “important that we stamp out the practices that we have seen … I am shocked and appalled by the revelations I’ve seen, not just this week but over the past few weeks”.

Mr Baird said he would not provide a running commentary on the ICAC. ”But I’ll say this: I am determined to clean up events that we’re seeing to make sure they do not happen again,” Mr Baird said.

“I don’t care what political badge you have. If you have done wrong and if ICAC has shown you have done wrong then I’m your worst nightmare.

“I’m going to do everything to restore confidence in the government. I’m going to do everything to restore confidence in the great party I’m part of.

“The actions that we take will be strong, they’ll be swift and the community will see that we’re determined to fix and ensure that events that have been unravelling for many weeks down at ICAC do not happen again.”

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China: Party expels ‘corrupt and degenerate’ top official

Beijing: China’s ruling Communist Party has expelled one of its senior officials, Li Chuncheng, and authorised a criminal investigation into his corrupt behaviour, the latest major move in an anti-graft drive encircling the country’s former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang.

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It comes nearly 18 months after Mr Li, then deputy party secretary of Sichuan province, became the first senior official detained in what has developed into China’s biggest anti-corruption probe and a flagship of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to strengthen his grip on the leadership.

Chinese authorities have to date said nothing regarding their investigation into Mr Zhou, one of China’s most formidable politicians in recent decades, which has broadened into the detention of his immediate relatives.

While dozens of his known associates have been arrested, internal party pressure has meant Mr Xi’s ultimate intentions over  Mr Zhou – who would be the highest-ranking party official to ever be charged with corruption – remain unclear.

But the formal expulsion of Mr Li is seen as a significant step, given he was the first official Mr Xi put under investigation, soon after taking power in November 2012. Mr Li, who rose quickly through the ranks while Mr Zhou was Sichuan’s top official between 1999 and 2002, was removed from office within weeks of Mr Zhou’s official retirement in late 2012.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Mr Li, as well as his wife and daughter accepted “huge bribes”, that he was “corrupt and degenerate” and abused his power to indulge in “feudalistic superstitious activities” that created “massive losses to state finances”, without providing further detail.

Caixin, a Chinese financial magazine, reported this month that Mr Li spent tens of millions of yuan to hire a fengshui master to conduct rituals when moving his family’s ancestral tomb.

Mr Li also reportedly arranged a Taoist priest to “drive out demons” when an associate’s company was going through a difficult period.

Mr Xi’s anti-corruption campaign has focused on Sichuan province, where in addition to senior provincial leaders, leading business figures like Hanlong Group’s Liu Han have also been detained. It has also targeted another stronghold of Mr Zhou – China’s powerful state-owned oil sector.

Mr Zhou’s son Zhou Bin, his sister-in-law Zhou Lingying and his son’s mother-in-law, Zhan Minli, have company assets in their names worth at least $US160 million ($172.8 million), much of it based on ventures with a state-owned oil company that Mr Zhou once headed, The New York Times reported this month. Mr Zhou’s son and sister-in-law are among those understood to be under the party’s custody.

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Gladiators president Frank Van Der Kroft in court

RIDING: Gladiators president Frank Van Der Kroft didn’t see who shot him on Wine Country Drive. GLADIATORS president Frank Van Der Kroft said Grant Welsh was demoted to nominee status at the Maitland chapter’s 2011 AGM, but he denied that Mr Welsh expressed himself in ‘‘colourful’’ language upon hearing the news, Newcastle District Court heard yesterday.
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Mr Van Der Kroft was shot four or five times while riding his Harley Davidson along Wine Country Drive at North Rothbury before 2pm on July 22, 2012.

Mr Welsh, 36, of Ashtonfield, is accused of carrying out the shooting as an act of revenge and has pleaded not guilty to shooting with intent to murder.

Mr Van Der Kroft said Mr Welsh had been a member of the club for a number of years and had risen to sergeant-at-arms at one stage.

Mr Welsh held the rank of corporal when he was demoted to nominee status at the chapter’s 2011 annual meeting, Mr Van Der Kroft said.

Mr Welsh had to hand in his colours and later left the club of his own accord.

His barrister, Paul Rosser QC, suggested to Mr Van Der Kroft that Mr Welsh left the club immediately after his demotion and voicing his disapproval in ‘‘colourful’’ terms, but Mr Van Der Kroft said that wasn’t the case.

He said Mr Welsh left the club about a week after the meeting.

Co-accused Andrew Pickering was a former president of the Gunnedah chapter, Mr Van Der Kroft said.

Mr Pickering, 41, of Ashtonfield, has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

He and Mr Welsh are accused of following Mr Van Der Kroft in two cars before Mr Welsh, who was being driven by another man, produced a pistol and shot Mr Van Der Kroft four or five times.

Mr Van Der Kroft said he didn’t see who shot him.

He was shown footage of a fight at the Hunter Valley Brewery in Maitland about a month before the shooting involving a number of Gladiators and Mr Welsh, however, Mr Van Der Kroft said he didn’t recognise anyone in the footage because of its poor quality.

The trial, before Judge Helen Wilson, continues.

Karl Stefanovic gives Jesinta Campbell his car

Car loan: Jesinta Campbell and Buddy Franklin getting into Karl Stefanovic’s car. Photo: infausy-42Karl Stefanovic has come to the car rescue of Jesinta Campbell and her boyfriend Buddy Franklin. Somewhat randomly, Stefanovic offered his car to the couple after the Swans player smashed Campbell’s sponsored vehicle last Wednesday in Rose Bay.
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The Today Show host has loaned the car to Campbell while he is overseas on a job filming for 60 Minutes.

The two share a manager, Sharon Finnigan as well as a sponsorship deal with Jeep Chrysler. Finnigan presented all her major stars, including Samantha Armytage and Natalie Barr, with the key to a Jeep Cherokee as a Christmas bonus in December 2012.

Campbell and Franklin were photographed driving in Stefanovic’s Jeep SRT 8 – a top-of-the-range Jeep Cherokee – as the pair visited Finnigan. They were pictured collecting items of clothing and loading them into the car.

Campbell is driving Stefanovic’s car until her new car is ready to be collected on Friday. Her promo vehicle was a completely written-off after Franklin’s unexplained crash into three parked vehicles on Old South Head Road last week.

”Karl had to shoot a story overseas so he said to Jess to ‘use the car while I’m away’,” Finnigan told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

”Fiat Chrysler needed a couple of days to get sorted and are getting her another car on Friday. It will be an Alfa Romeo she will be driving, I think, till they get a Jeep in.”

Finnigan said the loan was simply a friend being a friend.

”They’re great mates and lending her his car while he was away seemed obvious. He said ‘use mine, I’m going overseas – yours will be ready to use this week’.”

Stefanovic’s sponsor car is the same as the one Campbell wrote off, although his is Gold and hers was a darker silver-grey colour. The original car is reported to be in a smash repair yard in Brookvale.

Franklin was charged with negligent driving following the incident. He registered a negative breath test and denied he was texting at the time of the accident.

“I wasn’t texting, I wasn’t doing anything at all, I wasn’t speeding. It was just an accident, accidents happen,” he said at the time. “I am truly sorry for the inconvenience I have caused.”

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The man who will be king of the AFL

The story of how Gillon McLachlan made his first dollar does nothing for the perception that he has led a silver-spoon existence.
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As a young boy, he and brother Hamish were told by their father, Angus, that under no circumstances would pocket money be handed out in the household.

That they would work almost every daylight hour while growing up on the family cattle and sheep farm, at Mount Pleasant in South Australia, was an expectation. If the boys wanted fiscal rewards, they would have to find their own means. This led the inseparable pair to the old woolshed on the property. More specifically, to 100 years’ worth of accumulated sheep manure. In the heap of dung, Gill and Hamish spotted opportunity. Soon enough, this saw the enterprising duo take to hands and knees in order to prepare chaff bags full of the stuff for local ladies willing to pay for garden fertiliser.

The McLachlan who, at age 40, would go on to win the most powerful and high-earning job in Australian sport, did not stop there.

‘‘With his share of the money we earned, Gill bought a pig,’’ Hamish, 38, recalled on Wednesday after watching his older brother speak for the first time officially as the AFL’s next top dog.

‘‘Then he bred pigs.’’

Unsophisticated as all this may have been, it marked an early commercial success.

While Gillon, as an AFL executive who was earmarked early for big things, went on to cut a record broadcast rights deal, Hamish, working in television and radio, became one of the band who broadcasts the nation’s richest and most popular football code. Their younger brothers, Banjo, 35, and Will, 30, have pursued contrasting occupations, one in the law and the other taking a recent step into the arts.

From the moment he landed on the AFL beat 14 years ago, the eldest of the McLachlan boys – with his smooth and supremely confident presentation, private school upbringing, Melbourne University qualifications, penchant for polo and connections in high places to match – has been easy to box.

Hamish, who considers Gillon his best friend, acknowledges his brother’s intellect, fierce competitiveness and relatively rapid rise, but presents a richer picture from what he terms a ‘‘solid grounding’’. The Gillon he knows ‘‘disappears’’ whenever he gets the chance to the Otways hinterland near the small Victorian township of Birregurra, where their mother, Sylvia – who separated more than a decade ago from her former husband – now lives.

‘‘Any weekend he can, Gill goes to mum’s, drenches the cattle and plants trees with the kids. They’re in charge of watering the trees so they can learn how to grow and create,’’ Hamish said.

‘‘I can’t keep up with him. He rarely sleeps. On a long weekend he could drive up to mum’s farm, fix fences, drive home, see the footy and then get back to the farm in six hours.’’

With wife Laura, the daughter of former Spotless chairman Brian Blythe, Gillon has three children – two girls, Edie and Cleo, and a son, Sidney. ‘‘His primary concern in his life is his family and his friends,’’ Hamish said. ‘‘That’s what he gets out of bed for and that’s why he goes to work. To be able to provide.

‘‘And while it’s perhaps hard to imagine when you see him being bombarded by press, the best days that Gill and I have had have been watching amateur footy with the races in one ear, footy in the other, and trying to get the quaddie.’’

As for how his big brother will negotiate the most high-profile job in Australian sport, Hamish says: ‘‘I don’t know how he will be different, but I’m sure he will be different. Gillon is really conscious of his strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, I think he will try to get a great team around him.’’

‘‘I’m nervous for him. But I’ve got an enormous faith in his ability. He has always been an extraordinary achiever.’’

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TOPICS: Political sponsors miss advertising opportunity

UNIFORMS for politicians that display their sponsors. Why didn’t we think of that?
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The idea belongs to a small political party in the UK, but Topics reckons it’d be a winner here.

‘‘Politicians should wear uniforms like race car drivers so we can identify their corporate sponsors,’’ tweeted the National Health Action Party, with this image of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mind you, with the number of NSW political sponsors – and fronts for the sponsors – alleged this week, something bigger than a suit might be required to fit them all in. Maybe a team bus. Or a blimp.

CUNNING: Tony Robinson knows how to deal with enthusiastic fans.

SIR Tony Robinson, best-known as Baldrick from Blackadder, has still got it.

The comedian and presenter, in Newcastle to film an episode of Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty for the History Channel, was asked by a reporter about Blackadder fans.

For instance, what’s it like when people come up and quote lines at him?

‘‘Oh, it’s very flattering,’’ Robinson said.

‘‘There’s no better endorsement of your work than to have people quote it years later.’’

The reporter pressed on.

‘‘So what do you say when someone comes up and says …’’

And here she quoted a slab of Blackadder dialogue too dense for us to recall. Robinson thought about it, then answered brightly.

‘‘F— off.’’

START HIM UP: Mick Jagger knows a thing or two about the ladies.

REMEMBER when tickets to your favourite band only cost an arm, a leg and a week’s pay?

Well it’s considerably more if you plan to catch rock’s leading dinosaurs at Hope Estate in November. While general tickets to the Rolling Stones are steep enough, dinner, concert and wine packages are going for $1475 per person. No. You can’t always get what you want.

Of course, it all depends how you look at it. For instance, that it’s only $5 multiplied by each year the four members of the Stones have been alive. And if you divided it by the number of ladies Mick Jagger’s put the moves on, you wouldn’t be left with enough for a soft serve at Macca’s.

NO KIDDING: Nathan Tinkler.

WHEN you’ve got ICAC, who needs Game of Thrones?

Actually, the quotes from the ICAC hearings are more entertaining than the hearings themselves. They don’t make for great TV.

Still, we’ve been treated to lines like Nathan Tinkler’s instant classic: ‘‘oh mate u r f—ing kidding me’’.

Which is applicable in a range of situations. We’ve used it twice today. Try it out.

We’ve also met characters like Matthew Lusted, a builder from Wyong, who Fairfax’s Kate McClymont described as ‘‘wearing a dazzling collection of lapel pins’’ and ‘‘looking around incredulously’’.

You could say the Hunter’s in the grip of ICAC fever (we wouldn’t), judging by a sign out the front of a shop in Newcastle East.

‘‘Hallo juicy ICAC,’’ it read.

For political junkies and corruption connoisseurs, this must feel like finals time.

New AFL chief outlines his vision

Gillon McLachlan with Mike Fitzpatrick. Photo: Pat ScalaNew AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says he has a ”clear vision” for the league’s future, declaring improving the financial health of battling clubs, engaging with supporters and dealing with the escalating price of tickets were his priority.
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McLachlan’s expected appointment was officially confirmed on Wednesday, with AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick revealing there had been 100 initial applicants, with this list slashed to 20 and then to a final three.

Geelong chief Brian Cook and Richmond counterpart Brendon Gale were interviewed by the AFL Commission on Monday, with McLachlan offered the job that evening.

Insisting he will have a different style to Demetriou’s sometimes confrontational manner and suggesting there will be executive and staff changes, McLachlan, who will also sit on the commission but not have a deputy, said he would have two “pressing” issues to deal with.

“The continued support and structural improvement of our weaker clubs, having a strong competition,” he said.

”I think also engaging with our fans and understanding the challenges and really, in my words, taking away any incumbrance, whether they be financial or scheduling or logistical from them being able to pursue their passion and going to the football.”

While attendance figures are slightly down this season, McLachlan, 40, said he didn’t feel there was a ”disconnect” between league headquarters and supporters but admitted there was work to be done.

”I don’t know how big that challenge is. I completely accept that we need to listen to the fans, we need to work incredibly hard on dealing with the issues they have and the challenges they have with going to our game,” McLachlan said.

”We will be addressing the cost of going to the football. Cost is more than just ticketing. It is ticketing charges, it is food and beverage, it is the total cost.”

Fitzpatrick admitted the league had endured a ”difficult” start to the season and ticket prices ”had certainly been an issue”. He said the AFL had failed to sell its variable ticket pricing ”particularly well” but more time was needed to determine its success.

Questioned on a range of issues, McLachlan, regarded in the industry as a top negotiator, said outside of the commission, he would answer to ”four masters” – the fans, community, clubs and players.

”They often have competing interests. It is my commitment that I will never prioritise one at the expense of the other,” he said.

South-Australian born McLachlan, having rejected an approach by the National Rugby League in 2012, admitted he would have quit the AFL had he not been awarded the top job. He had been groomed for the role for three years.

”I think the reality is I would have had to have left. The short answer is yes. I think everyone understands and accepts that. That wouldn’t have been in a fit of pique, that’s just a reality,” he said.

McLachlan, a life member of VAFA club Uni Blues and president of the Victorian Polo Club, said he was in favour of retaining an afternoon grand final and said he liked the centre bounce, although he did not guarantee it would remain.

He reaffirmed he would prefer Tasmania to eventually support the one team, a stance that  recently drew a sharp response from Hawthorn and North Melbourne, which each host matches in the state.

”My vision for Tasmania is that we have a one-state approach. That means the north and the south working together to come in behind one team. Whether that’s possible, it’s a very challenging proposition but that is what Tasmanians ultimately need to become, one team, and that’s an aspiration,” he said.

McLachlan said his desire for a ”truly national” competition did not yet involve more expansion.

”I believe we have the right amount of teams for the foreseeable future, whether that’s five or 10 years. (But) it means consolidating the expansion teams, it means having a clear future in Tasmania, it means finishing and building a stadium in Burswood to deliver on a first-class stadium for all West Australians. It means ensuring that all people in the ACT buy into the Giants,” he said.

McLachlan said a decision on Good Friday football would be made at the June commission meeting.

Fitzpatrick said he would remain ”indefinitely” as chairman, a role he has held since 2007.

Demetriou will remain with the AFL until Thursday June 5, by which time it is expected the AFL will have ratified its new equalisation measures to help the less wealthy clubs. That will also be the day after the AFL’s Hall of Fame dinner.

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Newcastle port sale adds to Libs’ election war chest

The NSW government will tip more than $1 billion into its infrastructure fund Restart NSW from the privatisation of the Port of Newcastle, leaving it with a potential $2 billion war chest before next year’s election. Premier Mike Baird and Treasurer Andrew Constance announced the 98-year lease of the port on Wednesday to Port of Newcastle Investments, a joint venture between Hastings Funds Management and China Merchants. The gross proceeds of the sale are $1.75 billion, of which $340 million will be spent on revitalisation of the Newcastle CBD, including a new light rail project. This is in addition to $120 million already set aside for the project from previous privatisations including the sale of Port Kembla, Port Botany, electricity generators and the desalination plant. After transaction costs and debt are repaid, about $1.2 billion will go into Restart NSW. Mr Baird said the government was “surprised by the final result” having initially estimated sale proceeds of about $700 million in last year’s budget. The sale price was 27 times earnings, which Mr Baird said exceeded the result for Port Botany and was “an amazing result”. The sale brings the total amount of funds in Restart NSW to more than $6 billion, however much of this has been allocated to projects. They include $1.8 billion towards the WestConnex motorway, $403 million for the Pacific Highway, $170 million for the Princes Highway, $135 million for Bridges for the Bush and $130 million for Resources for Regions and $100 million for the Illawarra infrastructure fund. A spokesman for Mr Constance said the Port of Newcastle sale meant there was more than $2 billion in unallocated funds in Restart NSW. He noted that under the legislation governing Restart NSW, projects may only be funded by the Treasurer on the recommendation of Infrastructure NSW. Mr Baird would not nominate specific projects the remainder of the money would fund, but indicated it would allow the government to “bring forward” some of its priority projects. These are likely to include a second Sydney harbour rail crossing. Nor would he be drawn on whether announcements would be made in the June 17 state budget. “There’s obviously more announcements to come, but the firepower of NSW just got stronger,” he said. Mr Constance said the sale was “an enormous vote of confidence on the part of business in what we’re doing as a government”. He said the Port of Newcastle is the world’s largest coal port, handling about 40 per cent of Australia’s coal exports. The NSW government will retain regulatory oversight of the Port of Newcastle and responsibility for maritime and safety and security functions. But opposition leader John Robertson said the announcement was an “insult” to the Hunter region, given just 20 per cent of the proceeds would be directed there. Shadow Treasurer Michael Daley accused Mr Baird of deliberately talking down the potential proceeds “to make himself look like a genius when it turned out to be worth more”.    
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Cadel Evans is still our greatest, says Simon Gerrans

Cadel Evans remains the greatest cyclist Australia has ever produced, says Simon Gerrans whose historic victory in the hilly Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic in Belgium on Sunday has boosted his growing reputation as one of the very best riders in the world.
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Gerrans’ win in the 100th edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege – which is one of cycling’s five one-day ”monuments” – was the first by an Australian in the race and, with his increasing list of successes, enhanced his place as one of the best riders in Australian cycling history.

There are some who believe Gerrans, 33 and a rider on the Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team, has it in him to become Australia’s greatest ever rider in a country rich with champions.

Gerrans’ career is an illustrious one. It includes wins in the 2012 Milan-San Remo, stages of the 2013 Tour de France (when he also wore the yellow jersey for two days), 2009 Giro d’Italia and 2009 Vuelta a Espana (making him the first Australian to win stages in all three grand tours), the 2012 and 2014 national road title, the 2006, 2012 and 2014 Tour Down Under, and the 2005 and 2006 Herald Sun Tour.

But Gerrans says the standalone best Australian rider is still Evans, 37.  In 2011 Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France. On Friday week he will start in the Giro d’Italia off an impressive overall victory and stage win in the Giro del Trentino last week.

Evans’ other top results include wins in the 2009 world road title, the 2010 Fleche Wallonne classic, the 2006 and 2009 Tour de Romandie, the 2011 Tirreno-Adriatico and 1998 mountain bike World Cup series; and second place finishes in the 2008 and 2007 Tour, and thirds in the 2013 Giro d’Italia and 2009 Vuelta a Espana (making him the first Australian to podium overall in all three grand tours).

And judging by how well Evans won the Giro del Trentino last week, the BMC rider is intent on adding more gloss to that already polished record before his nearing retirement – starting at the Giro d’Italia, which no Australian has won.

”I’ve had some fantastic achievements over the past few seasons, mixing it with the very best in the world in the biggest races,” Gerrans  said after returning from Liege to his European home in Monaco.

”I’m obviously very proud of those results, but where that puts me in a ranking is very hard to say in relation to the other Australian cyclists.

”Cadel always has that top spot, purely from winning the Tour de France. It’s the pinnacle of the sport and the one race everybody around the entire world knows.

”The fact he has won [the Tour], that gives him a special place in Australian cycling history.”

Meanwhile, Gerrans is enjoying a break before his return to racing in the Bayern Rundfahrt stage race in Germany from May 28 to June 1.

For Gerrans, the German event will signal the start to his build-up for the Tour which this year begins in Leeds, on July 5.

But Gerrans admits it will be a tall order for Orica-GreenEDGE to repeat their success of last year, when he won stage three, the team took out the stage four team time trial and then he and South African Daryl Impey wore the yellow jersey for a total of four days.

”We haven’t worked out too specifically what the plan will be, but I think the real goal will be to win a stage again,” Gerrans said.

”Obviously, it will be very, very difficult to match what we achieved last year. That was above and beyond everybody’s wildest dreams.”

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Bulldogs defend handling of Andrew Fifita fiasco

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 
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Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle has defended her handling of the Andrew Fifita contract saga, revealing the NRL has cleared the club of any wrongdoing.

Fifita has signed a lucrative four-year contract with Cronulla but the fallout from the deal which fell over with the Bulldogs continues to make headlines.

Details of the memorandum of understanding – which would have made him the highest-paid Bulldog in history – and sections of the contract he signed with the Bulldogs have been leaked.

While the MOU outlined a deal worth $800,000 a year and $3.2 million in total, the Nine Network aired parts of that and the contract proper, which stipulated he would earn $375,000 next year, $425,000 in 2016, $650,000 in 2017 and $675,000 in the final year. That amounts to more than $1 million less than the agreed amount.

Castle, whose signature was on the contract, is comfortable with how the matter has been handled at her end.

“The NRL are comfortable with the documentation we have provided and will not be taking any further investigations,” Castle said.

“We won’t play out our commercial discussions in the media. We always work to handle everything professionally at every level.

“I continue to point to the joint press release in which they were comfortable with the situation, it was approved by them and included a quote from them when it was sent.”

Castle’s last remark refers to a joint statement issued late last month which revealed the transfer wouldn’t happen, despite both parties previously trumpeting the ”signing” news.

In that statement, Castle said: “After signing a memorandum of understanding with Andrew we’ve not been able to agree on the final terms of his NRL playing contract and have ceased negotiations with his management.

“We wish Andrew all the best for the future. Andrew’s now free to go and look at rugby union if that’s what he wants to do.’’

Fifita’s management group, I.am Athlete management, added: “Andrew is disappointed that we could not finalise terms with the Bulldogs but we still have several options to explore.”

Since then, it’s been suggested Fifita’s legal team would sue the Bulldogs for lost earnings.

“They are not suing us, we have not received any formal legal advice from Fifita’s management,” Castle said.

High-level playing contracts such as the one offered to Fifita usually include three elements – the portion paid under the salary cap, the marquee player allowance and the third-party agreements. Under salary cap rules the latter cannot be guaranteed by clubs. However, it’s understood all Bulldogs players promised TPAs have received those entitlements over the past five years and the club was confident Fifita would receive all monies promised in the MOU.

The club will now channel its energies on other recruitment and retention priorities, including skipper Michael Ennis and promising prop Lloyd Perrett, who are both off contract at the end of the year. The latter will be representing Queensland in the NYC State of Origin clash on Saturday despite the fact his brother, Bulldogs fullback Sam, represents New Zealand.

“I put a bit of pressure on myself, I knew what people would think of me if I chose Australia when my brother plays for New Zealand,” Perrett said.

“At the end of the day, my mentors at the Bulldogs and my dad said the only person I need to answer for myself is me. I’m happy with the decision I made so I can represent where I grew up.”

Asked about the prospect of one day opposing Sam in a Test match, Perrett said: “That would be crazy. It would be pretty cool, I’m not sure if it’s ever been done before. That would be an awesome experience.”

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

Gillon McLachlan promises a more female-friendly AFL

Gillon McLachlan, the AFL’s incoming chief executive, has promised to lead a more diverse, female-friendly organisation than his predecessors. He has also vowed that pioneering female coach, Peta Searle, is not lost to the game due to a lack of opportunity.
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Acknowledging the disproportionate number of men in senior positions at league headquarters, McLachlan pledged that women would be promoted to help rectify a glaring imbalance.

In VFL/AFL history, only one woman has sat on the league’s executive at any one time. While women have acted as general managers temporarily, the first was not appointed to a permanent role until human resources manager Christina Ogg joined the league in 2008.

After Ogg resigned in 2012, Dorothy Hisgrove won a new executive position, general manager of people, customer and community, in early 2013.

Two women sit on the AFL Commission – Sam Mostyn was the first appointed in 2005, and has for years championed the promotion of women in the game – but Hisgrove remains the sole woman executive at league headquarters.

“We need greater diversity in our industry generally,” McLachlan said on Wednesday. “I think to do that it has to start at the top, and I’m committed to a more diverse looking industry, and a more diverse looking AFL.”

Asked what had held the AFL back on that front, McLachlan said: “I don’t think it’s been anything specific. I think in the end you just have to make bold decisions and make stuff happen.”

When Andrew Demetriou announced his resignation from the AFL’s top job in March, he said it was a shortcoming of the code that more women had not been promoted to more posts of influence.

Richmond Football Club has since announced an affirmative action initiative, in conjunction with the AFL and Australian Institute of Sport, and will undertake a study to explore the real and perceived barriers to women in the industry and,  from next year, the employment of more women by Richmond.

But for that progress there is continued disappointment on other fronts. Fairfax Media reported on Sunday that Searle, the first woman appointed as an assistant coach in the VFL – no woman has progressed higher in coaching in football – had walked away from her job, citing disillusionment due to the lack of a clear career pathway.

Speaking specifically about Searle on Wednesday, McLachlan told ABC radio: “I think Peta Searle is one where we’ll do what we can to see she gets an opportunity, because someone who obviously is as qualified as her – and I’ve done enough research to know that she’s well regarded – I think to get the ball rolling sometimes you’ve just got to make opportunities and make things happen. And I think we’ll try to do that with Peta.”

Searle worked as an assistant coach to Gary Ayres at Port Melbourne for two seasons, and had a stint at Melbourne last year when she was invited to work with its coaches once a week.

But she has left the VFL and returned to teaching in order to better support her young family. A five-time premiership player and senior coach in the Victorian Women’s Football League, Searle’s aim has been to work permanently at an AFL club.

Among the three visions McLachlan outlined for the code was the aim of it being ‘‘truly representative’’.

‘‘If we do that, I believe we’ll fill every stadium and success will follow,” he said. “I have a clear vision of where I think the game needs to go and we’re going to get there. For me, that vision is about having an unassailable hold on the Australian community. In women, in children, as much as men. From the north to the south, in all communities.’’

McLachlan said there would be a different approach to the way the AFL did business. “The shape and structure of the team will change,” he said, adding it will evolve rather than happen as soon as he takes control on June 5.

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

University of Newcastle graduations: Nikki Payne

STUDY: Nikki Payne studied through Open Foundation. NIKKI Payne never imagined undertaking university study, let alone a degree in medicine.
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After schooling at Vacy Primary School and Dungog High School, Nikki attained administration qualifications and worked in accounting and hospitality before starting her family.

‘‘I wanted to be something my children could be proud of, but I still didn’t know what. I started [at] Open Foundation on the recommendation of a friend.

‘‘I eventually decided I wanted to do nursing, but I was getting better marks than I expected and so someone suggested I aim for medicine instead. I did and I got in,’’ she said.

The university’s enabling program Open Foundation this year celebrates 40 years of providing people a pathway to university study.

Ms Payne said the enabling program prepared her well for what lay ahead in university study.

‘‘I loved Open Foundation. I found the staff extremely supportive and encouraging, including the learning development team,’’ she said.

The University of Newcastle is the largest provider of domestic enabling programs in Australia and the proportion of its students from a low socio-economic background is 26per cent, significantly higher than the sector average of 16per cent.

Ms Payne admitted she was apprehensive before starting Open Foundation as she had not studied previously and did not know how she would cope with the pressure.

‘‘My lecturers helped my transition go rather smoothly, as did the new friends I made,’’ she said.

Ms Payne will be awarded a John Lambert Friends of the University Scholarship, on the basis of academic merit and equity criteria, to support her study in the highly competitive University of Newcastle Bachelor of medicine (Joint Medical Program).

‘‘Studying medicine is a whole new ball game, she said.

‘‘Going from part-time to full-time study was a major change, as well as going from one day per week away from my children to five days per week. Medicine is definitely challenging and also very interesting,’’ she said.

Nikki said she was keeping an open mind about potential specialities.

‘‘At this stage I’m considering two pathways – either rural GP and/or obstetrics. I like the idea of the variety a rural GP encounters.’’

Approximately 35,000 people have enrolled in the Open Foundation since it started as a pilot in 1974 with only 80 commencing students.