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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Leave without the A-League trophy? Ono Shinji won’t

The curtains are closing on Shinji Ono’s two-year tenure at Western Sydney Wanderers and for all his success and moments of brilliance in the A-League, he feels it will count for little if he departs without leading his club to the title.
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The former Japan international is not familiar with a competition that hinges on a finals series but after witnessing the pain of defeat first hand in last year’s grand final, Ono is determined to deliver the only prize that counts.

He scored arguably the two best goals of last season and twice struck a dagger in the hearts of cross-town rivals Sydney FC this campaign but the man they call “genius” still feels he needs to issue a final statement before returning home. Despite lifting the premiers’ plate last season and providing many goals, assists and tricks, there’s a sense the determined veteran feels his time in Australia will not be fulfilled without one grand final win in two attempts.

When asked whether he feels he still has a point to prove, he said; “Yeah I think so, but if we play as a team, we will win.”

Ono is reluctant to talk about his imminent departure for J-League 2 club Consadole Sapporo but revealed the lack of public recognition for winning the premiership rather than the grand final has spurred him on to add to his legacy with the Wanderers.

“I don’t want to think about leaving Australia. Anyway, I still have a grand final and ACL against Hiroshima so I’m focused about just the final and I’m thinking just about that,” Ono said. “I’m really hungry to get this championship in the grand final because we achieved the premiership in the regular season last year but people just think about the grand final winner. I’m very hungry to win the title and of course, I want to leave a memory here before I leave.”

The Wanderers are yet to beat their grand final opponents in three previous attempts this season but Ono denies the Brisbane Roar have a mental edge over his team. The last time they travelled to the Queensland capital, a youthful Roar scored a commanding 3-1 win over Western Sydney and Ono is itching to claim their first win at the expense of the newly crowned premiers.

“I’m looking forward to playing against Brisbane Roar because I think we didn’t win against them this season,” Ono said. “They have big confidence but I think we have confidence for just one game to decide for us, heaven or hell. I want to prepare good for this week and I want to give a hundred per cent and show what I have on the pitch.”

When the Wanderers met the Roar in a finals series last year, Ono produced arguably the best goal in the history of the competition as he outwitted goalkeeper Mike Theo with a sensational lob from outside the box to seal their passage to the final. It was a moment to savour for Ono but he’s determined to snare another after the disappointing end to last season.

“I will do my best, of course I want to show my experience in a big moment, I want to show everything on the pitch,” he said. “We do the same as usual, we can’t do anything [different] just show what we do this weekend in this game.”

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Kiwis defend handling of scandal

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New Zealand Rugby League chief Phil Holden has defended the Kiwis’ team selection for Friday’s Test against Australia and their handling of the Stilnox scandal that rocked their World Cup campaign last year.

Stephen Kearney’s side will take the field at Allianz Stadium missing a host of their leading players, including Sonny Bill Williams, Kieran Foran, Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, because of injury or the indifference of selectors.

While Williams was never going to be considered because he is switching back to rugby next year, the omission in particular of Sydney Roosters teammate Waerea-Hargreaves came as a shock to the player, his club and the opposition.

The make-up of the Kiwis’ line-up has increased calls for the midyear international to be scrapped, and triggered suggestions they aren’t taking the trans-Tasman Test seriously.

That is vehemently rejected by NZRL boss Holden, who says New Zealand don’t want the annual contest to be reassessed.

‘‘We want to play more international football, not less,’’ Holden said on Wednesday. ‘‘For us, international football has been a cornerstone of the commercial base of New Zealand rugby league for a long time.

‘‘Right now for us, this game, the midyear fixture, is hugely important because we don’t play enough international football. We want to play more.’’

New Zealand also enter Friday’s Test in Sydney with the spectre of last year’s controversial episode after their quarter-final win over Scotland – when some players mixed sleeping pills and energy drinks, leading to an internal investigation – lingering.

Williams and Foran are said to be angry that they were implicated in the scandal via reports in the New Zealand media after the World Cup, and there was continuing intrigue about the impact of the incident on the New Zealand squad for Friday. The snubbing of 25-year-old Waerea-Hargreaves led to queries over whether he was linked to last year’s controversy before Fairfax Media’s report on Wednesday revealed he had instead been dropped on the strength of previous performances for New Zealand.

The absence of the front-rower robs the Test of another genuine drawcard amid fears of a poor crowd, but Holden defended the selection bombshell.

‘‘We’re just dealing with the reality of what we’re dealing with,’’ he said. ‘‘But I can assure you that the selectors have the total backing and support of NZRL. They’re never going to pick a team or an individual that they didn’t think would deliver. So I’m very relaxed about it.’’

Holden is comfortable with how the Kiwis had dealt with the Stilnox investigation, which found their preparation for the World Cup final against Australia was compromised by up to six players mixing the sleeping pills with energy drinks.

After forwarding on the findings of their inquiry to Rugby League Central in Sydney, Holden plans to meet with NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle on Thursday to discuss what lessons that can be learnt in the NRL from the Kiwis’ experience.

The NRL is finalising plans to begin testing in midyear for two classes of prescription drugs as part of a study to examine the extent of their abuse by players.

‘‘We had to engage with them because … basically all our players are playing in the NRL,” Holden said. “We’ve shared some of our findings in that space and I’ve actually got a meeting with them tomorrow to talk specifically about some of that stuff.’’

‘‘For us it’s always been about player welfare. There [can be] unintended consequences of some of that activity because no one really understands what the long-term effects might be. We’ve been very clear it’s never been about naming players or finger pointing, it’s all around player welfare and how do we support them.

The NRL’s testing will initially be for data-gathering purposes only this year, and any player testing positive will be counselled rather than reprimanded.

“The use of prescription drugs is spoken about anecdotally, but we want to understand whether there is an issue in the game,” NRL head of integrity Nick Weeks said. “By the end of the year, we will know if prescription drugs are a problem and then we can take steps to remedy this.”

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Buckley puts heat on Thomas

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has subtly turned up the pressure on Dale Thomas, saying Friday night’s blockbuster against Carlton was a marquee event for the former Pies star.
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With Thomas already expecting some Collingwood supporters to “hold grudges”, Buckley said the Pies would not be targeting the 2010 premiership hero in his first match against his old club since walking out last season.

But Buckley did say he expected Thomas would be hoping to make a statement.

“There’s no doubt that if you’re in Dale’s shoes, it’s a marquee event,” Buckley said on Wednesday.

“He represented this club for a long period of time, he’s taken the opportunity to move on to a new club and that test happens for any player who moves clubs.

“I can’t speak for him, but he’d be keen to play well.”

Buckley said it was hard to know how Collingwood fans would treat Thomas, although he pointed out that the same free agency rules that enabled the 26-year-old’s departure had also allowed Collingwood to bring players such as Clinton Young and Quinten Lynch to the club.

“[Free agency] is a reality, and we’ve got to understand that. But the other fact is, as soon as you are on the other side of the fence, you’re the enemy,” Buckley said.

Thomas said on Sunday there was no doubt he would be taunted by some Pies supporters after taking a lucrative four-year deal to re-unite with former coach Mick Malthouse at Carlton.

A few days later, former premiership teammate Luke Ball said there could be some good-natured sledging between Thomas and his old teammates.

“I’m sure his bank balance will certainly be mentioned at some stage,” Ball said.

“We used to have lunch a day before the game, but I’m not sure that will happen this week.”

Byplay aside, Buckley knows the key issue is how Thomas rises to the occasion and his potential to ignite a Carlton upset.

After a slow start to the season, the exciting midfielder has shown signs of the line-breaking run and plucky ball-winning skills that made him a Magpie favourite, and his 22 disposals and a desperate smother in the dying seconds were pivotal in the Blues’ stunning comeback win over West Coast last Saturday.

Buckley admitted the Pies had been watching Thomas closely this season and had developed a detailed dossier on his role at the Blues.

“In our opposition reviews, his run is increasing … he’s been playing around 80 per cent game time, rotating a lot. He’s one of many we’ll have to keep our eye on,” Buckley said.

The Pies have shutdown specialist Brent Macaffer at their disposal should they need to send him to Thomas, but Carlton captain Marc Murphy has been instrumental in the club’s past two wins and seems the most likely opponent for the Pies tagger.

While Thomas may not be targeted by Collingwood on Friday, Buckley revealed that Pies defender Marley Willaims was physically targeted by Essendon’s VFL team in his return match on Saturday – just days after receiving a one-year suspended sentence for causing grievous bodily harm.

Buckley said Williams has shown he is capable of standing up to any physical or verbal targeting he may receive from opposition teams and could be ready to resume his AFL career against the Blues, perhaps as a replacement for injured defender Alex Fasolo.

”He was impressive on the weekend,” Buckley said of Williams. ”He was targeted by the Essendon VFL side as well, and handled it really well. Physically, the Essendon side came after him … that’s the game.”

Buckley admitted he was not close enough to hear whether Williams had also been targeted verbally by Essendon players, but said he was confident the 20-year-old would be strong enough to handle that type of attention in future.

”It’s early days, he has got to expect that,” Buckley said. ”He is a physical player, so he maintained his physicality without taking a backward step, but maintained his focus on the game,” he said.

Buckley said Fasolo, battling toe and foot soreness, was unlikely to play against the Blues, but fellow runner Clinton Young remains on track to recover from a minor leg injury he suffered in the Anzac Day match.

The coach also said key backman Nathan Brown, on the comeback trail from a dislocated shoulder, was also in the frame with the Pies looking at their best mix to stop Carlton’s tall forward trio of Jarrad Waite, Lachie Henderson and Levi Casboult.

”Carlton have got three tall forwards who took 28 marks between them last week.” Buckley said. “Nathan Brown has missed a couple of games … but he has come back through the VFL for two games and we’ll weigh up whether we need him in that role as well.”

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Driver to appeal sentence for killing uni student and tow truck driver

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A courier driver who killed a university student who had broken down on the Hume Highway and the tow truck driver who came to her aid is appealing his sentence.

Last week, Kaine Daniel Barnett was sentenced to a minimum 18 months jail after a jury found him guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing death for killing Sarah Frazer, 23, and Geoffrey Clark, 40.

He was given a maximum three-year jail term.

Barnett crashed into and killed Ms Frazer, who was on her way to start university, and Mr Clark, of Highlands Towing, as they were standing in the breakdown lane of the Hume Highway in February 2012.

In an emotional scene in Parramatta District Court, Mr Frazer hugged Barnett and said he felt sorry for the 26-year-old and his family.

Barnett’s appeal will be mentioned in the same court on Friday. He will apply for bail pending the hearing of the appeal.

On hearing Barnett was appealing, Ms Clark said she was “shocked”.

“I thought it was a light sentence anyway. I and the children have now lived without Geoff for over two years and he got 18 months in jail and serves the rest on parole,” Ms Clark said.

“We got the sentence the rest of our lives and it’s a nightmare.

“He has never said what happened that day. Only he knows”.

In sentencing Barnett, Judge Stephen Hanley said he did not like sending a young man with no prior criminal history to jail, but he needed to send a message of deterrence to the public and particularly the drivers of heavy vehicles.

Dressed in a suit, Barnett wept and was comforted by family members and his de facto partner, Kayla, after the sentence was handed down.

He was then hugged by Ms Frazer’s father, Peter, and the two men wept together.

Ms Frazer was driving from her family home in Springwood to begin a degree in photography at Charles Sturt University when her car broke down on the Hume Highway at Berrima about 11am on February 15, 2012.

She waited in the narrow breakdown lane for about an hour before Mr Clark arrived to tow the car. The accident occurred on the Hume Highway about two kilometres south of Mittagong.

About 12.30pm, Barnett, a driver for his grandfather’s business, Barnetts Couriers, failed to see the car and truck, swerved at the last moment and clipped the side of the Ford before ploughing into Ms Frazer and Mr Clark, killing them instantly.

The Crown alleged Barnett must have been distracted for almost eight seconds to have missed the hazard and flashing lights on the side of the road.

During the trial, the court heard Ms Frazer’s broken-down Ford and Mr Clark’s tow truck would have been visible from between 250 and 300 metres away.

Judge Hanley said he did not accept the submission of Barnett’s counsel that the crash occurred due to a period of “momentary inattention”.

“The jury found the offender failed to keep a proper look out for a significant period of time,” the judge said. “His manner of driving [meant] a large number of people were placed at risk.”

The court heard Barnett was not speeding or affected by drugs or alcohol. Since the accident he has suffered from flashbacks, post-traumatic shock and has experienced suicidal thoughts.

Judge Hanley said he was unlikely to reoffend and his prospects of rehabilitation were excellent.

“Cases such as this are truly tragic,” he said.

“The lives of all who have been affected by these events will never be the same.”

Mr Frazer had publicly campaigned on issues of road safety since his daughter’s death.

Outside the court, Mr Clark’s wife, Samantha said: “While we recognise the endeavours of others to raise awareness of safety on our roads, we, as Geoff Clark’s family, have chosen for some time now not to be involved in any campaigns. We ask that our privacy be respected.

“Geoff was a loving and devoted husband and father. The care and well-being of his family was always paramount. Now I have to do this alone with the unwavering support of family and friends, for which I’m forever grateful.”

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Victoria, NSW at odds over ride-sharing via smartphone app Uber

Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim. Photo: Nic Walker The taxi industry is feeling under threat by Uber’s new ride-sharing service. Photo: Ryan Osland
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Victorian Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel supports apps that improve competition but says Uber needs to comply with the law. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Victorian Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel supports apps that improve competition but says Uber needs to comply with the law. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Motorists offering so-called “ride-sharing” services using taxi booking apps face hefty fines in NSW, but the apps could be approved for use in Victoria.

In response to taxi app Uber’s service that allows regular motorists to work like hire car or taxi drivers, the NSW government reiterated on Wednesday that all drivers needed to be registered under the Passenger Transport Act.

The government is currently reviewing the act.

Asked whether it planned to allow ride-sharing services under a future version of the act, to be legislated this year, a spokesman for Transport for NSW said: “Taxis must be licensed, with authorised drivers using the taxi meter. None of these requirements will change.”

This would mean there would be no future for Uber’s ride-sharing service, under which fares are cheaper than regular cabs.

But other services offered by apps such as Uber, GoCatch and ingogo that make it easier for people to book cabs or hire cars would be promoted under the new act.

Motorists carrying passengers who are not licensed to do so face fines in NSW of up to $110,000.

A spokeswoman for Roads and Maritime Services said the department had “received allegations Uber has breached the Passenger Transport Act and is investigating. If there are found to be breaches, companies and individuals can be pursued as appropriate.”

In contrast, Victorian Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel said there could be a place for ride-sharing if drivers were properly licensed and had been through checks.

“What we want to do is to facilitate competition and we see Uber as a source of competition,” Mr Samuel said. “But it needs to be competition that is on grounds to protect the public interest.”

The general manager of Uber Sydney, David Rohrsheim, said NSW riders and drivers were flocking to Uber because it was solving a problem that had stood for decades: “The inability to get a safe, reliable ride when and where needed.”

He said: “We’re confident that in the long run, rather than continue to shield entrenched taxi interests from new competition, Transport NSW will stand up for consumers and drivers.”

If one of Uber’s drivers were to receive a ticket as a result of using Uber’s technology, Mr Rohrsheim said his company would “absolutely stand by them”.

Mr Rohrsheim’s comments came as Uber launched on Wednesday night its low cost ride-sharing service, now dubbed UberX, to everyone who uses Uber in Sydney. It had previously offered the service under the name “low cost” to a select number of Uber users.

The chief executive of the Taxi Council, Roy Wakelin-King, said he welcomed the government’s reiteration that ride-sharing services were operating outside the act.

Mr Samuel said motorists offering ride-sharing services would not have to be classified as taxis in Victoria. They could be classified as hire cars, for which licence conditions have been relaxed in the past few years.

“Essentially, if you are a commercial passenger vehicle, which is a vehicle where passengers are carried for reward or profit, then you need to be registered as a commercial passenger vehicle but we then impose certain conditions on hire cars, which are pretty, I have to say, they’ve been wound back significantly because we want to open the market to competition,” Mr Samuel said.

He said drivers would have to use registered commercial passenger vehicles, and have passed the relevant tests.

“There are a lot of things we can accommodate in this area in terms of licence fees, drivers,” he said.

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Australia is attracting a wealthier, more adventurous tourist from China

Getting on board: Tourists watch the action at Sydney Harbour. Chinese visitors spent a record $4.8 billion in Australia last year. Photo: Tamara DeanThe Chinese tourist is wealthier and more independent than ever before – and Australia’s most lucrative guest.
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Despite a 4 per cent fall in the number of Chinese visitors to Australia recorded in the latest International Visitor Survey, the amount each tourist spent rose 17 per cent.

Overall, overseas visitors forked out $28.9 billion during their time in Australia last year, a rise of 6 per cent and a record spend.

Tourists from China, the UK and the US were the biggest contributors and more than compensated for the double-digit annual falls in spending by holidaymakers from Japan and Korea.

Chinese visitors, now the most lucrative market for Australia, spent a record $4.8 billion in 2013, up 16 per cent despite new laws from October cracking down on cut-price shopping tours.

Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said the average Chinese tourist was changing.

“The good news is that despite Chinese arrivals falling by 4 per cent during the [December] quarter, total spend is up 13 per cent, and average spend per visitor is up 17 per cent,” he said.

“We’re seeing a positive change in our visitor mix – away from group shopping tours towards a more independent, higher spending Chinese visitor, enjoying higher quality visitor experiences.

“Increases in independent travelling visitors means more Australian tourism businesses are getting to welcome Chinese, as they go farther and experience more of our country.”

Mr O’Sullivan said Tourism Australia planned to capitalise on the opportunity by focusing its marketing activities on the growing number of affluent and independently minded Chinese travellers.

Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb compared tourism in Australia with mining and education as one of the country’s key economic strengths.

“It is also a sector that has the potential to experience even higher growth rates as we position the industry to capitalise on the emerging Asian economies,” Mr Robb said.

The tourism lobby is using the latest figures to reach out to government for more money for marketing the Australian experience abroad.

Ken Morrison, the head of industry body Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF), said the strong numbers demonstrated the sector’s capacity to be a serious part of the economic development strategy for the country.

“With state and federal budgets to be handed down in the coming weeks, TTF is seeking an increased commitment from governments to support the visitor economy which performs so strongly for Australia,” he said.

“Tourism marketing and events authorities around Australia needs sufficient funding to continue its outstanding research and marketing programs that promote Australia to the world.”

With Jasper Lindell

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How to beat carry-on baggage restrictions: meet the Scottevest coat

Packing for a trip is hard enough without having to worry about exceeding on-flight baggage limits. Not to mention the additional fees some airlines charge for check-in luggage.
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Whether it’s to save on fare cost, to avoid airport baggage collection or just the need to have personal belongings close, air passengers nowadays are packing as much as they can into their carry-on bag.

But regardless of how much passengers can cram into their carry-on size bag, standard airline baggage policy states the bag still needs to fit under the seat in front or in an overhead locker.

Australian airlines typically allow one carry-on baggage of up to 7kg for a domestic economy flight with restrictions placed on baggage dimensions. The restrictions vary according to fare class and also if it is an international flight.

But what if there was a way you can carry more onto a flight without exceeding your carry-on baggage limit?

American travel clothing brand Scottevest has not only succeeded with a feminine trench coat with accent buttons, adjustable belt and stylish cut, but it has loaded the lightweight and water-resistant garment with 18 hidden pockets – a travellers’ delight.

That means you can put things like phones, travel documents, maps, guidebooks, paperbacks, water bottle and sunglasses into the coat and not worry about excess weight with carry-on baggage.

There is even a pocket big enough for an iPad in the no-bulge designed jacket. If you think the 18 pockets is good, wait until you see Scottevest’s newest item, its Quest vest with an astonishing 42 pockets.

There’s no outlet in Australia selling the products yet, but the garments are available at scottevest南京夜网 for US$150 (A$161.68) and the vest US$145 (A$156.29), plus shipping costs that can be calculated online.

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McLachlan appointment a boost for Giants

New era: Gillon McLachlan with Mike Fitzpatrick. Photo: Pat ScalaGillon McLachlan’s appointment as AFL chief executive and the almost certain contract extension at Greater Western Sydney for club boss David Matthews is a dream outcome for the competition’s youngest entity.
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Matthews’ decision not to challenge for Andrew Demetriou’s vacated post, and McLachlan’s appointment to the pre-eminent executive position in Australian sport, ensures for the foreseeable future a high-powered and deeply-rooted partnership strongly committed to the AFL’s drive into Sydney’s west.

McLachlan and Matthews are close friends and professional associates. They worked together on the AFL executive for 11 years.

“Personally I’ve become very good friends with him over a long period of time,” Matthews said.

“A lot of the people on the executive have had young families together and, in many ways, grown up together.

“Professionally, he’s had such a big hand in expansion and improved broadcast coverage in places like NSW. He’s attuned to what’s required up here, as was Andrew.

“He gets things done, he supports what we’re trying to achieve, so it’s a great appointment for the Giants.”

Matthews was an early contender to take over from Demetriou, but he decided not to apply. The former game development leader is contracted to the Giants until late 2015 and is expected to be given an extension.

“I got asked by the search firm to have a conversation about the role, what it entailed and where I sat with things,” he said.

“I had that discussion because I think, in this industry, it’s obviously useful to get across those sort of matters and have a look.

“But I’m really enjoying the Giants. It wouldn’t be the right timing for me or the club. I’ve got a lot of unfinished business that I want to work on with the club. I was happy enough to have a conversation but it didn’t go anywhere after that.”

Matthews said expansion was the “No.1 priority” for the AFL Commission and executive.

“Within that, there’s no doubt [McLachlan] is completely across the challenges and opportunities that Sydney presents,” he said.

“From our point of view, to have someone in the chair who succeeds Andrew and has the same corporate memory and vision as Andrew is really important to us.

“We’ve always worked very well together, Gillon and I. I can only see our working relationship growing through his appointment and the future I have at the Giants.”

McLachlan, the AFL’s former broadcasting and commercial operations manager, has long been at the forefront of the Sydney push.

In an interview in 2008, he said the governing body would stop at nothing to ensure the success of a second Sydney club.

“We’ve invested heavily in Sydney, particularly in the past three or four years,” he said. “The next step is to get a team out there. We’ll do this in a way that will be successful … We’ll do whatever is required. We’ll spend whatever it takes to ensure we have a presence out there.”

Before training on Wednesday, GWS head coach Leon Cameron said he had come to know McLachlan well over the past 18 months and felt confident in his appointment.

“He’s a big fan of our football club … he understands the challenges we face up here in terms of growing the game, membership, growing support, starting with a young side and becoming competitive,” Cameron said.

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Tyrone Phillips ready to become his own pin-up

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 
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Tyrone Phillips has a poster of Adam Reynolds in his room.

There is every chance the South Sydney halfback, one of nine people living with Phillips in the same house, hung it there.

“I can’t go a day without seeing his face,” Phillips said. “I’ve got a poster of him above my bed I see every time I go to sleep.

“He’s been seeing my cousin for about four years now. He decided to move in upstairs, and it’s gone from there. They squeezed in with my family.”

Their Chifley home is overflowing. There are Reynolds, his partner and their two children. Then there’s Phillips’ nan and pop and his two cousins. Hopefully they will all be there to see the former Rabbitoh pull on a blue jersey at Sportingbet Stadium when NSW host the Maroons in an under-20s (NYC) State of Origin encounter on Saturday.

“It’s a pathway to success and hopefully one day put on the big jersey,” he said.

Phillips is yet to play an NRL game but already has been in the headlines. Last November, as he was making the transition from Redfern to new club Canterbury, he and former Souths teammate Dylan Waker were charged with affray following a street brawl in Beverley Hills. The matter is still before the courts.

“I was just minding my own business when it all broke out,” Phillips said. “I couldn’t do much about it, I helped my best mate, like any man would, to try to get him out of that situation. I was caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Obviously being a sports player and football player it went the wrong way. I’ve just got to learn with it, move forward and let the court decide what’s right and wrong. The Dogs were really good about it. I got in trouble for a day or so, I had to go home and think about what I’d done and what I need to do to improve.”

The move to Bulldogs is also a chance for Phillips to press for the No.1 jersey that belonged to Ben Barba before his move north. The back-line utility has a point to prove after his own move after leaving Souths. “It was my decision, I had one more year on my contract but I decided to leave at the end of the day,” he said.

“When Madge [Souths coach Michael Maguire] found out … he said ‘I want you to prove me wrong and show me the player you truly are.’ You could say I wasn’t happy at Souths. I wasn’t in the best form and was sliding a bit downhill. The opportunity came and I decided to take it.

“Des [Hasler] showed me around and said ‘I want you to be a part of my culture and be on board’. I thought why not?”

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Ryan Hoffman edges closer to cap record in City-Country clash for State of Origin

Ryan Hoffman will join City coach Brad Fittler and Blues coach Laurie Daley on one game shy of equalling the record for the most number of appearances in the annual City-Country clash on Sunday.
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The Melbourne Storm back-rower will play his seventh game for City when he leads the side in Dubbo as the oldest player on the field.

He will join Braith Anasta, Glenn Lazarus, Fittler and Daley just one game behind Andrew Ettingshausen (City), Steve Menzies (City) and Paul Sironen (City), who hold the record of eight for most City-Country appearances.

“I first played in 2006 and the only ones I have missed out on were in 2008 because I was in the Australian team and 2011 when I was playing overseas,” Hoffman said.

“You get these funny little records and milestones throughout your career. This would be great. Hopefully I’m still playing well and in this side. It’s good to always be thought of in these games. I always have seen it as an Origin trial and it’s good to put your name forward for NSW. I see it as a way to boost my chances for Origin and represent NSW.

“I look at it as one of those things that if you don’t play, you don’t give yourself every opportunity. That’s me personally. The camps are such an enjoyable time and the coaches I’ve had over the years and the players I’ve played with, I’ve always enjoyed it. Why wouldn’t I play?”

There has been plenty of criticism of the concept in recent years, which intensified after a poor crowd attended last year’s match in Coffs Harbour.

The legitimacy of the match as an Origin trial has also been questioned with several players opting to pull out of the game due to injury.

Hoffman, who played in all three Origin matches for the Blues last year, said he did not hold it against players who pulled out.

“People make their own personal choices and I’m not going to begrudge someone for that,” Hoffman said.

“Everyone has got their reasons why they can’t play or why they are not playing. All I have control over or worry about is myself, and I’ve always wanted to play.

“I certainly think it didn’t hurt playing well last year in the game. As I say, the more opportunity you get to show what you can do and your desire to be involved in these games, can’t hurt.”

MOST CITY-COUNTRY APPEARANCES

Andrew Ettingshausen 8 (City)

Steve Menzies 8 (City)

Paul Sironen 8 (City)

Braith Anasta 7 (City)

Laurie Daley 7 (City)

Brad Fittler 7 (City)

Glenn Lazarus 7 (City)

Ryan Hoffman 6 (City)

Ben Creagh 6 (Country)

Robbie Farah 6 (City)

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