Monthly Archives: November 2018

WestConnex prediction: buses will double in speed

Speed increase expected: a bus travels along Parramatta Road near Broadway. Photo: Tamara Dean The promised improvements in bus travel times. Information: WestConnex Delivery Authority

Rest assured, frustrated Sydney bus commuters: your bus will somehow start travelling almost twice as fast in the next few years.

Or at least that’s what the state government is assuming as part of its promise to improve public transport along the route of the WestConnex motorway.

Included in the promotional material for the $13 billion WestConnex is a prediction by the state government that the motorway will “almost halve” the bus journey time from Burwood to the city along Parramatta Road.

Using freedom of information laws, Fairfax Media requested the assumptions for this prediction.

The response from the WestConnex Delivery Authority showed the average morning speed of a bus travelling from Burwood to the Central Business District on Parramatta Road was 14 km/h in 2011.

But by 2031, the government is assuming that buses along Parramatta Road will travel at 25 km/h – about 80 per cent faster than they do now.

This improvement would go against all recent trends in Sydney, where traffic and particularly bus congestion has been getting worse.

The improvement could be partly achieved by new bus lanes promised as part of the WestConnex between Burwood and Leichhardt.

The WestConnex will allow separated bus lanes to be added to the surface of Parramatta road between Burwood and Leichhardt area, once a tunnel is built under that section of road.

But the government is also assuming buses travelling from Leichhardt to the CBD will somehow speed up from an average of 14km/h in 2011 to 25km/h in 2031.

There are already bus lanes along this section of the Parramatta Road. And the WestConnex motorway will not go under this section.

Fairfax Media asked the WestConnex Delivery Authority why it assumed buses would travel almost twice as fast on a section of road that would not be upgraded.

A spokeswoman for the Authority said that Parramatta Road was identified as a “rapid bus route” under the government’s “Sydney’s Bus Future” plan.

“These routes will have bus stops every 800 metres,” the spokeswoman said.

“WestConnex bus travel time savings were calculated comparing actual bus travel time data with an average target speed as outlined in the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan,” the spokesman said.

The government has never said how many cars it expects to use the WestConnex motorway.

Fairfax Media requested the assumptions used to create the estimated car travel time savings for the motorway, but was denied the information because it was commercial in confidence.

Fairfax Media requested comment from Roads Minister Duncan Gay about why the government would assume buses would travel twice as fast on sections of road it was not upgrading.

A spokesman for Mr Gay passed the query on to Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian. Ms Berejiklian has not yet explained why the government expects buses to travel almost twice as fast between Leichhardt and the city in 2031.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

New player AG&E in $95m pubs splurge

The Beverly Hills Hotel in Sydney’s St George district is one of the properties in the AG&E portfolio.A new entrant has emerged in the busy listed pub market with Australian Gaming and Entertainment (AG&E) unveiling a portfolio of five properties in western Sydney, valued at about $95 million.

The group is undertaking a float through CIMB and Wilson HTM to raise about $80 million from private and institutional investors. The IPO is offering 80 million shares at $1 each, and at that price it is 12.6 times the company’s forecast 2015 net profit per share.

The hotels are the Croydon Park Hotel, the Canley Heights Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Wentworthville Hotel, and the Wiley Park Hotel.

AG&E will be an owner operator of the pubs which were bought from Lewis Hotels Group for about $95 million.

To run the business the group has appointed the long-time gaming executive Heather Scheibenstock to lead the venture.

Ms Scheibenstock was previously the general manager at both Star Casino and Jupiters Casino. John Thomas is chief operating officer and David Shaw is chief financial officer and the non-executive chairman is Bill Brown.

Once floated, AG&E will join the Redcape Hotel Group spin off, Hotel Property Investments on the ASX, and possibly the proposed $250 million Australian Pub Fund, backed by Mark Carnegie and businessmen John Singelton and Geoff Dixon.

John Musca, National Director Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels is believed to have managed the transaction but was unavailable for comment.

The group said the hotels were chosen in the high population growth corridor of western Sydney, as they are near transport infrastructure and commercial and retail hubs.

AG&E is being formed against the backdrop of an active pub sector where more than $60 million of pubs have changed hands in the past few months.

There are three significant ones currently for sale including the Lord Dudley at Woolahra, through Mike Wheatley at Knight Frank.

The Cambridge Tavern at Fairfield, Sydney is also on the market, with a price expectation of more than $20 million.

The sale by the private Melbourne-based Aussie Leisure Group, is for the freehold as it has a lease until 2058 to the Woolworths hotel arm, ALH.

The Cambridge Tavern last traded as a freehold going concern in 2007 for about $45 million and then completed the lease with ALH.

Aussie Leisure Group is also sellling the Tea Gardens hotel at Bondi Junction, worth about $40 million.

Selling agent for the two pubs, Ray White Hotel’s director Andrew Jolliffe.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

Iron ore feels the pressure from China crackdowns

Lacklustre performance in China’s property sector and a tightening liquidity environment are placing downward pressure on iron ore prices.

Steel production growth in China, the world’s largest buyer of iron ore, has eased in 2014, causing a significant slump in the price of iron ore, which has fallen 19.3 per cent since the beginning of the year to $US108.30 per tonne on Tuesday night.

Any up-tick in steel production growth and therefore iron ore prices, is highly contingent on China’s residential property sector, which accounts for 24 per cent of consumption.

“Fixed asset investment in China still looks like it will be quite lacklustre, the leading indicator of steel production growth – looks like it will be quite weak, the housing market looks like it will continue to be quite weak from a building perspective,” Deltec International chief investment officer Atul Lele told Fairfax Media.

New property construction in China fell by 25.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year, while the value of homes sold fell 7.7 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Iron ore prices have continued to fall in April, despite the People’s Bank of China, last week, announcing it would cut the amount of deposits that rural banks must hold in reserves. Rural commercial banks will have the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cut by 2 per cent. The move hopes to give greater access to funds in an attempt to stimulate lending and growth.

Earlier in April, China also introduced stimulus in the form of railway construction, with 150 billion yuan ($25.8 billion) in bonds to be sold to fund the project.

The impact of the railway project on iron ore prices has been limited, despite the bulk metal being key in construction. The Iron ore price has fallen 7.3 per cent in April.

“It’s particularly worrying that you’re seeing iron ore and commodity price volatility and outright commodity price declines at the time when the Chinese government has introduced stimulus over the last few weeks. If they’re introducing stimulus and activity is still falling, that’s a problem,” Mr Lele said.

Financial stability in China is at risk, Mr Lele said while releasing Deltec’s quarterly outlook report, due to the level of leverage across the entire economy, especially with commodities such as iron ore being used as collateral.

China’s banking regulator is expected to crack down on these financing deals by increasing the required deposit amount on credit deals with iron ore used as collateral.

From a financial stability point of view, getting rid of risky financing arrangements that are linked to an asset as volatile as iron ore is a positive step for China, but for commodity prices it is negative.

“You’re removing a layer of demand, which is negative for commodities. [At present] you’ve got underlying demand which is going into residential property and fixed asset investment for iron ore, but then you’ve got a level of demand that’s coming through for financing arrangements,” Mr Lele said.

Iron ore’s fall in April has brought it down to levels where it is fairly valued, Mr Lele said, however longer term, a slowing in steel production growth momentum provides considerable downside risk.

“We see iron ore heading down, save any stimulus aimed at fixed asset investment in China, which we don’t think is likely in a significant way,” Mr Lele said.

“The combination of weakness in residential property markets in China, steel production growth remaining weak, steel inventory levels remaining high, iron ore inventories remaining high and increased supply coming on board, that all points to downside.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

Melbourne Storm deserved more from Brian Waldron’s ‘apology’

COMMENTMelbourne Storm fans, players and officials have waited four years for some sign of contrition from Brian Waldron about the role the former chief executive played in the salary cap cheating that brought the club to its knees. On Tuesday, Waldron penned a column for an online news site in which the “chief rat” of one of the biggest scandals in Australian sport had supposedly broken his long silence and apologised for his sins. If that was truly the purpose of the exercise, then it was an incredibly underwhelming and inadequate public apology that stunk of a desperate, and quite frankly, pathetic, attempt by Waldron to garner publicity. Those associated with the Storm deserved more. The Storm was regarded as the team of the modern era after it won two premierships from four grand finals from 2006 to 2009. It was coached by the best in the business in Craig Bellamy and it spawned a generation of superstars such as Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau and Cooper Cronk as well as producing a supporting cast of cult favourites who turned it into a champion team. However, its legacy was torn apart in April 2010 when the NRL announced that the Storm was guilty of significant cheating of the salary cap that allowed it to keep a strong squad during that period. The club was stripped of two premierships, consigned to playing out the season without points and heavily fined. Waldron’s rambling dialogue gave no explanation or mea culpa of wrongdoing, but provided just an overarching apology to “all those hurt by my actions”, which he stated was offered “without reservation”. It read as a coming out – a signal that he believed enough time had elapsed that he could re-enter the public arena after an aborted attempt in 2012 when he was outed as having a connection with the Melbourne Tigers basketball team.  He talked about the buck stopping “at the top”, but rightly or wrongly – and there are still plenty of conspiracy theories out there about who knew what – history has recorded Waldron as the central figure, not as a leader who took one for the troops.   He also referred to the consequences of “ego and emotion” on clubs but the man – who was known for his apparently boundless self-confidence and headline-grabbing quotes – did not apply this to himself as he again wrote of it in general terms. While Storm fans as a whole have moved beyond the point of caring what Waldron has to say, many still felt galled enough by his proclaimed contrition to unleash a barrage of online bitterness.  For those who stayed the course and read to the end of the piece, they found a handful of paragraphs that constituted the apology. Bemoaning that his good work had been overshadowed by his misdeeds, Waldron wrote: “I have received both praise and indignation for my work in sport administration. Regretfully the good is quickly forgotten when wrongdoings are laid bare. I understand and accept this is the consequence of inappropriate actions. “Regretfully I got ahead of myself. It’s absolutely appropriate that I apologise to all those hurt by my actions and I do so without reservation. “In sport, people come and go and learnings are lost with them. It needn’t be that way. While failure can be a better teacher than success, I know which one I prefer. Good sporting organisations share the same philosophy.” The website plugs that Waldron will write regularly “on the business of sport” and even though one newspaper quoted the site’s editor as downplaying Waldron’s future involvement to having “a chance” of again writing a column, there is little likelihood that anyone associated with the Storm will afford the columns any credibility.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

We walk the line: Clarke defends Australia’s Ashes sledging

Michael Clarke says he and his players understand there is a line you cannot cross, and admits he stepped over it twice.

Only now that the dust has settled on Australia’s Ashes triumph has it been revealed how closely players from both sides, but especially the victors, walked that line during the summer.

During his recent trip to the US, Clarke recorded a video interview with ESPNcricinfo in New York during which he was asked to respond to an essay by former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe published in this year’s edition of Wisden.

It was hard not to admire the strength of Australia’s resurgence last summer but Crowe, whose brother Jeff was match referee during the Ashes, was unimpressed with the standard of behaviour.

“At Brisbane and Adelaide, the verbal combat was appalling and on full display,” Crowe writes in Wisden. “Jeff Crowe, the match referee, had no hair to pull out; yet, believe me, he tried.

“His disdain for the sledging that went on – particularly from the Australians – couldn’t be conveyed in public. But, behind closed doors, there was a lot of effing and blinding (ironic, I’ll grant you).

“The two captains quietly accepted his point that a repeat of the physical contact between Mitchell Johnson and Ben Stokes at Adelaide would not be tolerated, but it was no coincidence that things calmed down only after Australia had the series in the bag, and England had all but given up.”

Memorably, Clarke was fined by the International Cricket Council for telling Jimmy Anderson to expect a “broken f—ing arm” as he faced up to Johnson at the Gabba, while Johnson and Stokes escaped punishment for a run-in at Adelaide Oval.

At the end of the next series in South Africa, James Pattinson and Clarke were involved in an altercation with Dale Steyn after an inexplicable decision review, and the Australian captain later said he was out of line.

Consistently, Darren Lehmann and Clarke have been unrepentant about the side’s sustained aggression and left it up to the ICC and Cricket Australia to intervene when “a line” is crossed.

In his interview in New York, Clarke took a similar line in responding to Crowe’s criticism.

“Firstly Martin Crowe’s certainly entitled to his opinion, like the rest of us,” he said. “I think we play our cricket hard on the field but I think as Australians we understand and respect there’s a line you can’t cross.

“I made no bones about the incident in Brisbane and what I said to James Anderson wasn’t appropriate, especially being over stump mic where boys and girls can hear that, and I did the same with the Dale Steyn incident.

“Sometimes when you’re playing sport at the highest level, emotions come out for people to see, and I think that’s a great thing about our game.

“But we understand there’s a line you can’t cross. You can go close to it, but you can’t cross it. I think generally Australians play cricket extremely fairly, and play sport extremely fairly. I can tell you in my career 100 different instances like those that nobody knows about, because it’s not over the stump mic, or you can’t see it first-hand.

“The Australian way is to play tough, non-compromising cricket on the field. I think if you speak to a lot of the other players you’ll find that we’re very social off the field, we go out of our way to make sure we see the other team, win, lose or draw, after a game. But with that we understand there’s a line you can’t cross and I think generally we’re pretty good on that.

“The integrity of the game’s crucial, we all know that as players, and certainly as captain of Australia that’s a big part of my job to make sure that we always uphold the integrity of the game. With those sorts of things, when you’re out of line you get pulled up by CA or the ICC anyway, so there’s things in place to ensure you don’t overstep that mark.”

Many celebrated the return of Australia’s “mongrel”, because channelled aggression had been missing during the bleak months that preceded Lehmann’s appointment. But Crowe believes the scheduling of back-to-back Ashes bred unpleasantness between the teams.

“Too many Ashes Tests in one year, too much greed and overkill – that was part of the problem,” he wrote. “Hatred and vengeance built up. (And let’s be clear; it wasn’t just the Australians who sledged – Anderson was no angel.) But these two proud nations needed to back off, smell the roses, go back to the family.

“The tone of the series was wrong. Yes, Australia played superb cricket for most of those live 45 minutes each day, but the other 315 were spent venting and frothing. It was not pleasant to watch. And it reduced England and the spectacle to nothing – unless, of course, you were an Aussie. It was the ultimate in mental disintegration.”

Clarke’s own reputation has burgeoned because of his on-field achievements – series-defining centuries against England in Brisbane and Adelaide and a courageous 161 in Cape Town with a fractured shoulder, which he cherishes because of its role in Australia’s win. Clarke has recovered from the injury inflicted by Morne Morkel and is back in full training ahead of Australia’s next assignments, a one-day series in Zimbabwe and a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.