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Mirvac sells Westpac building share to Blackstone for $435m

Property developer and manager Mirvac has sold its half share of Westpac’s headquarters at 275 Kent Street to the US giant Blackstone for $435 million.
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Blackstone is exepected to place the property into one of its current fund, possibly the pan-Asia real estate fund.

The sale is another step in the growth of Mirvac’s ”capital partnering” plans, whereby Mirvac’s single asset risk is diluted and cash is unlocked from the balance sheet and used to develop other parts of the business.

As part of the deal, Mirvac has also granted Blackstone interdependent call options  over a portfolio of seven non-core office and retail assets in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, for $391.4 million, and will provide $156 million in vendor financing as part of the transaction.

The deal, brokered by JLL and CBRE, comes on the eve of Mirvac’s third quarter investor update.

It is said the new Blackstone Real Estate Asia fund will target investors from China, Korea, Singapore and possibly Japan.

Mirvac’s chief executive, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, said the transactions are key capital management initiatives for Mirvac, which will allow the group to deploy capital across the group and into opportunities that align with its strategic criteria.

”In total, over $826 million will be released from sale proceeds over time to be re-invested into the growth of the business,” she said.

It follows the partnership deal that Mirvac struck with the US financial services group TIAA-CREF for the sale of a 50 per cent stake in 699 Bourke Street in Melbourne for $73 million.

Blackstone’s Head of Real Estate Asia, Chris Heady, said 275 Kent Street represented a unique opportunity to invest in a high quality, strategically located building in the Sydney CBD, as well as partner with Mirvac.

”This transaction also underscores our long term commitment to investing in the Australian real estate market,” he said.

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How McLachlan got to be the AFL’s No. 1

Gillon McLachlan.Gillon McLachlan’s journey to the AFL’s top job can be charted back to the day some 18 months ago that he sat opposite his old boss Andrew Demetriou with his head in his hands unable to speak.
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Demetriou too chose to say nothing and says now that the silence seemed to last five minutes but in reality was more like two.

“Say something,” McLachlan finally implored, “just say anything.”

It was a Monday morning in the spring of 2012 and McLachlan knew that D-Day had arrived. The NRL had offered him the role of chief executive and the opportunity to oversee the restructured NRL under a newly appointed commission.

Key members of McLachlan’s wider family believed he should take the plunge and take the job after so many years as the AFL’s unofficial and later official No. 2.

Although Demetriou was clearly closer to the end of his reign rather than the beginning, he had set no departure date and McLachlan had received no guarantees.

The man who on Wednesday officially became the AFL’s fourth CEO was genuinely torn between two codes.

Finally, Demetriou spoke and instructed McLachlan to imagine a wintry Saturday afternoon scenario where his beloved University Blues would no longer be an option, let alone the MCG, but rather McLachlan would be travelling to Sydney’s west to watch Penrith take on Wests Tigers.

The son of the Pascoe Vale fish and chip shop owner told the South Australian former polo playing silver tail that McLachlan, ironically, was more connected to, and passionate about, grassroots community football than Demetriou. He reminded him of his personal mantra that job satisfaction and success required passion.

McLachlan would not confirm on Wednesday that the Panthers-Wests Tigers’ scenario had swayed him, but it is accepted fact among his colleagues that immediately after Demetriou had invoked that image, McLachlan stood and stated he had reached his decision.

The relieved AFL chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick – mindful of just how formidable a foe McLachlan would have proved to the AFL’s expansion strategies – granted him a pay rise, but again no guarantees. Soon afterwards, McLachlan was handed the poisoned chalice of the Melbourne tanking investigation and then, more recently, the Essendon drugs scandal – two messy and damaging sagas that harmed his reputation and that of the AFL.

While the job appeared destined to go to McLachlan – he confirmed he would have left the competition had he missed out – he had been genuinely stressed in recent weeks as the AFL Commission completed its executive search. Two others ultimately presented for the job – Richmond boss Brendon Gale and Geelong chief Brian Cook, who was also a candidate 11 years ago when Demetriou was appointed.

Both club chiefs knew they were outsiders but last week did not waste their hour-long presentations, challenging the AFL board as to the problems confronting the game and delivering the odd home truth. Fitzpatrick called both on Tuesday night to tell them they had missed out, but would not confirm McLachlan had won the job.

Fitzpatrick had told McLachlan 24 hours earlier that the position was his.

Demetriou, who would have been shattered had McLachlan been overlooked, was at his local vet on Monday night with his injured cat when he called McLachlan to congratulate him.

On Tuesday morning, Fitzpatrick and his new CEO finalised McLachlan’s new contract. Cook and Gale messaged their congratulations to McLachlan early on Wednesday.

Demetriou will remain to oversee the final and still contentious details of the AFL’s official attempt to close the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor clubs and leave after the Australian Football Hall of Fame presentation on June 4.

He stood at the back of the room during Wednesday’s announcement, looking every bit the proud elder brother. Two of McLachlan’s three younger brothers – Hamish and Will – stood nearby.

McLachlan promised he would remain accountable to football fans, the game’s community, its clubs and its players. He said he had a clear direction of where the game needed to go and indicated he had a clear strategy for some cultural change, specifying a more diverse AFL hierarchy was a priority.

But his appointment was a recognition of his already formidable achievements as the game’s long-time strategist and unofficial heavy lifter, along with the fact that the AFL did not see the need for radical change.

While Fitzpatrick attempted to deny a dearth of quality external candidates, the fact his commission only interviewed three very familiar football faces would indicate a strong show of faith in the Australian game’s own backyard.


His background of more than 240 matches in amateur and country football

“I have had my share of cold showers and freezing committee meetings.”

On a night grand final

“My simple answer on that one is I like a day grand final.”

On leaving the AFL should he not have been made CEO

“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.”

On the AFL buying Etihad Stadium early

“They are very aware that we would like to buy it. They are very aware that we think we are the only possible buyer. But we are a way (off) on price at the moment. It’s not that sufficiently an imperative to pay the wrong price.”

On fears going to matches has become too expensive

“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.”

On Tasmania

“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 … Tasmanians ultimately need to become one team and that’s an aspiration.”

On his role in brokering a deal with Essendon

“With respect to me specifically, I am sure there was some skin taken off me. There was skin taken off a lot of people. It was an incredibly tough period… We ended up in a position that I don’t think was edifying for a lot of people and it certainly wasn’t great for the game.”

On the future of the centre bounce

“I am not making a guarantee about anything, but I like the centre bounce.”


1986-1993 Alan Schwab

1994-1996 Ross Oakley

1996-2003 Wayne Jackson

2003-2014 Andrew Demetriou

From 2014 Gillon McLachlan

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Gotta Take Care rewards trainer’s judgment with Galleywood

Darren Weir once gave the owners of Gotta Take Care a choice – get rid of the horse or send him jumping. Their persistence through 52 flat starts over six years for 11 wins was rewarded yesterday when the nine-year-old claimed a famous victory in the feature Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool.
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In a remarkable training feat, Gotta Take Care won the $101,000 Galleywood just five days after winning a staying race on the flat at Flemington. The Galleywood win was Gotta Take Care’s seventh victory over jumps from 15 starts, taking his career prizemoney to more than $871,000.

Weir laughed as he recounted his advice to Melbourne brothers, Ian, Graeme and Philip Wood, who bred the gelding from a dam they paid $10,000 for 15 years ago.

“He was a slow horse until he went jumping,” Weir said.

“True story. He won an 1800 metre maiden at Mildura (in March 2009) and I said ‘you’ve got two options, you either get rid of him or jump him’. He went jumping. That’s what jumping does to them. It makes them faster, better and maybe got him switched on. That’s a terrific advertisement for jumps racing that horse.”

Gotta Take Care is now a favourite of Weir’s. His career victories are the most by any horse the Ballarat-based trainer has prepared.

“Eighteen, it’s a good effort, obviously to stay sound as well. He’s just an absolute ripper to have around the joint.”

Weir said Gotta Take Care was popular in his stables, especially with foreman Angela Taylor-Moy, who treated him like a pet.

He said the win, his second in the Galleywood, eight years after his first, meant a lot because of the horse’s spot in the hearts of people like Taylor-Moy, Irish jockey John Allen and the Wood brothers.

“He’s a ripper, he’s bomb proof, he’s got a great girl looking after him in Angela. She would have got a big thrill out of that. And a good bunch of owners.

“They have been with us for years from day dot when I was at Stawell. It’s great to return a good favour for them and get a nice horse. It’s an absolute pleasure to train this horse, and he’s just a winner.”

Weir said Taylor-Moy painstakingly cared for Gotta Take Care’s troublesome feet and did all the early morning work on him while Allen did all the work over jumps.

“Angela and Johnny, they do all the work, I just watch them.”

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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.”

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

Kiwis defend handling of scandal

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 
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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.”

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

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.
Nanjing Night Net

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.

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