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Improved carbon capture equals improved soil fertility

The results of a four year trial in the Upper Hunter clearly show farmers can lift farm productivity by increasing carbon levels in their soils.

More soil carbon also equates to lower soil erosion, better moisture retention and better pasture health and resilience.

The trial was made possible by a partnership between Rio Tinto’s Bengalla mine, landholders, University of Newcastle, BDM Resources and Hunter Local Land Services (LLS).

Soil carbon is widely considered an important indicator of soil health, landscape resilience and productivity while increased levels can help drought-proof properties.

Seventeen landholders from three local government areas,Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook and Singleton, implemented carbon management practices such as rotational grazing and improved cropping techniques as part of the project.

Merriwa farmer Kim Fenley

Results from their properties show an average increase in the amount of carbon stored in the top 30cm of soil of close to 12 per cent, or 7.6 tonnes per hectare.

Merriwa district grazier Kim Fenley, who implemented the trial carbon management practices on his property, has noticed significant improvements in productivity as a result of a two-fold increase in organic carbon levels in his soils.

His property located south of Merriwa includes a range of soils types ranging from sandy to black soils.

And no matter the soil type the extra carbon captured made a difference to its fertility, he said.

“Everyone who participated in the trial saw an increase in their soil’s organic carbon,” he said.

Mr Fenley set aside a third of his 800 hectare property for the trial and used a grant from the Hunter LLS to build fences to implement a rotational/cell grazing regime on that land.

Running a Simmental based breeding enterprise on his farm Mr Fenley opted to trail rotational grazing as his preferred method to increase soil carbon levels.

“The difference between the lands I traditionally graze to the trial area is a two to three fold productivity increase due to the carbon practices put in place.

“The carbon practices included using rotational grazing to allow better use of the paddocks and using controlled improved grasses and crops to increase productivity while native grasses are allowed to come forward.

“Capturing carbon not only removes CO2 from the atmosphere but it comes with benefits such as helping to manage the impact of drought on the land. Carbon in the soil means better moisture retention and the ability to then see out a drought is increased.

“We’ll continue on this process to look at what other people are doing. Everyone involved has a better understanding of soil carbon and the benefits of better management tools.”

Mr Fenley said the extra dry matter available thanks to rotational grazing means less soil erosion.

But he laughed saying that also means less run-off into on-farm dams and water courses.

However he can cope with that because overall farm productivity is improved.

Mr Fenley wanted to thank everyone involved in the trial in particular the support from Rio Tinto.

Participants in the Soil Carbon project.

“Without their funding this trial would not have been possible. And we are planning to keep this group together and continue this work and hopefully encourage more landholders to join us,” he said.

District Coordinator for the Upper Hunter Local Land Services Steve Eccles said “The adoption of grazing rotations and innovative cropping as part of the carbon management practices during the project has resulted in an increase in carbon stored in the soils.

“This has led to increased ground cover and pasture production, with a reduction in weeds and land degradation issues. “Farmers implementing these practices have benefited from improved soil health and resilience of the properties to adverse weather such as dry conditions.”

Increased soil carbon equates to increased productivity.

Bengalla general manager Jo-Anne Scarini said “I am very proud of the partnerships and engagement with community members that has been a key to the success of this partnership.

“The project has delivered great results and the fact landholders can continue to benefit from the outcomes mean it was truly worthwhile.” The project area included approximately 1,100ha of Upper Hunter Valley land and resulted in an approximate 8,400 tonnes of additional soil carbon present in the project area.

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

Dealer busted after helping out mate

HE answered the last minute call-up to supply 50 ecstasy tabletsafter his mate forgot that he was due in court.

But for Morpeth’s Blake Bambach, 21, showing up to a pub car park in Broadmeadow with 50 tablets, known as “white ladies”,would prove to be his downfall after he was detected by a police strike force dismantling Hunter drug supply syndicates.

Bambach pleaded guiltyto supplying an indictablequantity of ecstasy in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

He was committed for sentence to Newcastle District Court next month.

Text messages between one of Bambach’s matesand another man, which were intercepted by police, reveal his mateintended to supply 50 MDMA tablets, known as“pink hearts”, on January 16 last year.

Bambach’s mate, who has been charged by police and is still before the courts, allegedly said he would purchase the tablets for $20 each and sell them for $25 or $30 per tablet, court documents state.

But the day before the pair were supposed to meet, Bambach’s matesent a message to the buyer.

“Ijust remembered I won’t be able to make it tomorrow,” the text message says.

“I have court. “But I have organised my mate to meet up with you in Newy to give you the pills. “He’s the one I get them off anyway.”

In another text message Bambach’smatesays: “Only thing is I won’t be able to get you the hearts.

“But we’ll have fifty of the white ladies.

“They’re good.

“I had one last night and I’m still a bit out of it.”

A short time later Bambach texted the buyer saying: “What time do you wanna meet tomorrow for the roundies?”, court documents state.

The pair organised to meet in the car park of the Sunnyside Tavern on Broadmeadow Road, court documents stated.

Bambach showed up in a green Toyota Pradowith another friend and was monitored by police as heexchanged 50 MDMA tablets for $1000.

Court documents state the tablets were white and embossed with a female emblem.

The tablets were seized and an analysis revealed they were 9.74 grams of 16.5 per cent purity MDMA.

Bambach and his two mates were arrested in September last year and charged with drug supply offences.

The other two men are due to next appear in Newcastle Local Court on February 3.

Strike Force Rupas was formed by Newcastle police in August, 2014 to target the supply of MDMA and ice in the Hunter.

The head of one of the allegedsyndicates busted by police, Beau Lawton, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesdaycharged with three fresh offences, including supplying a large commercial quantity of ecstasy which attracts a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.

He did not enter any pleas or apply for bail.

South China Sea: experts clash over China threat to commercial trade

Philippine Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te briefs speaking after the court’s decision that declared the constitutionality of the deal to base US military units in the Philippines on a rotational basis. Photo: Bullit Marquez The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen which in October sailed near Subi Reef, one of several artificial islands that China has built in the disputed Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea. Photo: New York Times

Vietnamese subs deployed as deterrent to ChinaSouth China Sea dispute: full coverage

An Australian expert has challenged claims that China’s build-up of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea threatens commercial ships passing through the world’s busiest waterways, declaring that they are “completely fabricated”.

Greg Austin, a visiting professor at the University of New South Wales based in Canberra, says despite the “shock” expressed by strategic analysts China has not embarked on an operation to expand its territory and is defending what it sees as its historical claims.

“We shouldn’t allow our shock at China’s building up of artificial islands to somehow convince us that this is naked aggression by China,” he told Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.

“It’s not naked aggression.”

But Carlyle Thayer, an expert on the South China Sea from Australia’s Defence Force Academy, told Fairfax Media that China is “definitely” expanding its territory through construction of the islands and has attacked rival claimant states, including Vietnam, on a number of occasions.

Professor Thayer cites charts by the US Office of Naval Intelligence showing that all the land reclamation by rival claimants amounts to less than 4 per cent of China’s activities.

China is “slowly excising the maritime heart out of south-east Asia” while steadfastly refusing to clarify its claims, using vague “historical rights” arguments, he said.

Professor Thayer said China’s routine challenges to planes flying over the region have no basis in international law and that its three-kilometre-long runways on the islands are by far the largest, allowing bombers to be based there.

The comments came as the Philippines’ highest court approved a deal allowing the United States to expand its military presence in the country in a move seen as countering China’s claims in the flashpoint waters.

The US has also begun making spy flights over the region in Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft based in Singapore, analysts and diplomats say, and the first of Vietnam’s new advanced Kilo-class submarines have begun patrols to reinforce that country’s territorial claims.

Professor Austin, a former Australian intelligence analyst who has studied the South China Sea for more than 30 years, described China’s land reclamation as catching up on rival claimants which had built habitable forward posts on disputed islands.

Rhetoric is “stoking the level of political intensity” over the competing claims, given that Vietnam and the Philippines have airfields and military assets in disputed areas, he said.

“There is no evidence of any Chinese government attack or pressure on any commercial shipping in the South China Sea since 1949 when the Communist Party took control of mainland China, and even before,” he said.

Goods worth more than $US5 trillion ($7 trillion) are carried by ships through the waters each year.

Professor Austin played down fears that war could break out over the claims.

“The recent tensions in the South China Sea are serious but they’re more political than military,” he said.

Professor Austin called on China to take a leadership role and settle the dispute, pointing to Beijing having negotiated the settlement of land borders in the past, including with the former Soviet Union and Russia.

The US’s agreement with the Philippines will allow the US to build military facilities and maintain ships, aircraft and troops in the former American colony on a rotating basis.

The US has a similar arrangement with Australia to rotate US marines through Darwin.

The US maintained military bases in the Philippines for most of the 20th century but they were ordered closed in the early 1990s. The US facilities will be built within existing Philippine military bases.

The 10-year agreement was signed in 2014 but not implemented because of legal challenges.

Philippines President Benigno Aquino told reporters the agreement will allow the Philippine military to train with the most modern equipment in the world and allow a “generational leap in our abilities”.

The US has increased exercises, training, ship and aircraft visits to the Philippines over the past year as part of US President Barack Obama’s “rebalancing” of US forces to Asia.

China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

-with agencies

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

Top 10 hotels in amazing locations around the world

Aescher Cliff, Switzerland.There’s nothing wrong with a dingy hostel in a seedy part of town – well, apart from the obvious. Sometimes you have to put up with bad accommodation. It serves a greater good. It gets you where you need to be.

Sometimes, however, your accommodation is your holiday. You travel purely to stay in an amazing place, to experience a location that couldn’t even be accessed if you weren’t staying at a particular hotel.

Some of these are extremely expensive. Some, not so much. But all are in amazing locations. Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat, Australia

Somewhere between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast, far away from the rich faux-hippies and the surfer dudes, lies Crystal Creek, a rainforest set high in the hinterland. And somewhere deep in that rainforest lies Crystal Creek Retreat, an adults-only property of rooms that look out into the trees, of hammocks spread across bubbling rivers, of fireplaces and birdsong. Songs pretty good to me.

How much? From $503 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho504255

See: Our review of Crystal Creek Rainforest RetreatAirstream Camper, Lake Uyuni, Bolivia

You haven’t truly experienced the world’s highest and largest salt flat until you’ve spent the night there, and there’s only one way to do that: in an Airstream Camper. This luxury campervan is parked up in the middle of nowhere on Lake Uyuni, and as the sun goes down you get to be the only soul for hundreds of kilometres, surrounded by nothing but salt, stars and silence.

How much? Chimu Adventures has seven-day Bolivia packages that include a night in the Airstream Camper, from $5910 per person.

Book: chimuadventures南京夜网419论坛/tour/airstream-campers-uyuni

See: The only way to spend the night in one of the world’s most spectacular spotsTerelj Lodge, Mongolia

It takes long hours of bumping down bad roads through some fairly average-looking towns before you enter Mongolia’s Terelj National Park, which would have to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s all rugged hills and grassy plains in this part of the country, and the best way (actually, the only way, really) to enjoy it is to stay in a traditional ger at Terelj Lodge.

How much: From $181 per night, all-inclusive.

Book: tereljlodge南京夜网

See: Stunning to behold, hard to photographWolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia

There are plenty of properties in amazing locations in Africa, from campsites by the Nile in Uganda to safari lodges right next to waterholes in Zimbabwe, but this has to be up there with the most spectacular – and the most remote. Set in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, about a six-hour drive from Windhoek, Wolwedans makes the most of its desert location with rooms that open out to the fresh air, and a pool deck suspended above the sand.

How much? From $420 per night, all-inclusive.

Book: wolwedans南京夜网

See: How Australia was magnificently replaced in Mad Max: Fury RoadWait A While Daintree, Australia

Deep in the Daintree Rainforest, about one and a half hours north of Port Douglas, you’ll find the Wait A While Retreat, so named because that’s what most guests end up wanting to do when it’s time to leave. The location has the best of both worlds: seemingly endless rainforest on one side, and tropical beach near the Great Barrier Reef on the other. The building is a PNG-style longhouse with all of the mod cons.

How much? From $390 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho350690

See: The Daintree: A mighty magic forestWayra Lodge, Peru

While most travellers end up hiking the Inca Trail and camping out with 500 of their closest friends, there are better options to get to Machu Picchu. For example, the Salkantay trail, another path built by the Incas in the high Andes. The difference here is that the trail is dotted with luxury mountain cabins such as Wayra Lodge, while nestles almost 4000m above sea level on a plateau in the shadow of Salkantay peak.

How much? Seven-day, six-night packages with Mountain Lodges of Peru that include a night at Wayra Lodge start from $$4560.

Book: chimuadventures南京夜网419论坛/tour/salkantay-adventure-journey-machu-picchu

See: Wrath and luxury: The alternative path to Machu PicchuAttrap Reves Hotel, France

The location is part of it: Attrap Reves is set in a forest in southern France, far from the bustle and glam of the Riviera. But what’s most amazing about this hotel is the rooms, simple futons that are completely enclosed by glass bubbles. That’s it. That’s the room. It almost seems a shame to go to sleep as the stars come out at night and the forest rustles and you can lie there taking it all in.

How much? From $169 per night.

Book: attrap-reves南京夜网

See: Inside France’s greatest cooking schoolAescher Cliff, Switzerland

Switzerland is a country blessed with many a stunning vista. In fact you almost get vista fatigue in this part of the world, as alpine panorama after alpine panorama flashes past your eyes. The cure for all that, however, is a stay at Aescher Cliff, a dorm-style hotel that commands perhaps the greatest view in a country of seriously great views. You could never tire of it.

How much? From $64 per night.


See: Falling for the beautiful home of the world’s deadliest sportKings Canyon Wilderness Lodge, Australia

This doesn’t really feel like camping. The roof is made of canvas and the great outdoors stretches on into infinity outside, but when there’s air-conditioning, when there’s an ensuite bathroom, when there’s a comfy bed and doona, it doesn’t really feel like camping. Not that you’d ever complain. This is luxury in the middle of Australia, and the middle of nowhere.

How much? From $395 per night.

Book: au.hotels南京夜网/ho452480

See: Long way round: Driving the Red Centre WayConrad Maldives, Rangali

Though it’s hard to look at this place and not think of Troy McClure from the Simpsons (you might remember him from such films as “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules”, and “Dial ‘M’ for Murderousness”), it’s still undeniably amazing. A dining room under the sea, surrounded by all the beautiful fishes? That’s worth the price alone. But then throw in the overwater bungalows, and everything else the Maldives has to offer, and you know why this has been named “Best Hotel in the World” twice, and it can charge what it does.

How much? From $1671 per night.

Book: hilton南京夜网/Maldives

See: 20 reasons to visit the Maldives

What’s the most spectacular location you’ve ever stayed in?

Email: [email protected]南京夜网419论坛

Instagram: instagram南京夜网/bengroundwater

​See also: The world’s top 10 restaurants in spectacular locations See also: The 16 most amazing hotels opening in 2016

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

Shack up in style in a South Australian beach shack

Beach shacks at Black Point. Photo: Adam Bruzzone Dusk at the beach shacks at Black Point on the Yorke Peninsula. Photo: Adam Bruzzone

A spot of cricket at Streaky Bay. Photo: Rob Blackburn

Coffin Bay National Park. Photo: Rob Blackburn

Beach huts at Middleton. Photo: Adam Bruzzone


The British define the word shack as pertaining to “a small house or building that is not put together well”.

The Americans meanwhile inform us that shack is a verb meaning “to spend the night at someone’s place, sleep in the same bed, and mess around”. (They helpfully add that “sex may or may not occur”.)

In South Australia, both dictionary definitions could well apply to one’s beach shack.

The thousands of beach shacks that line the 4600km coast of South Australia (not to mention the state’s lake shores and the banks of the River Murray) all owe their origins to the early 1900s and interwar years when people – mostly farmers – would knock together a roughly-made hut or cabin on a remote piece of beach.

They basically wanted somewhere to fish with the family between summer harvest and winter sowing

Shacks were typically made from whatever could be found, scrounged, begged or borrowed (ergo the derivatives ‘tin shack’, ‘bottle shack’, ‘gunyah’ and at least one dwelling fondly called ‘The Krap Shack’).

Some of these beaches were considered so remote that any issue of official land ownership was a moot point – many shacks were built on land that was loaned or leased by friends, or else simply occupied because nobody was around to say otherwise.

The post-war boom in car ownership gave rise to the shack’s slightly posher cousin, the ‘weekender’, established by Adelaide folk wanting to get away for some simple R&R.

They bought blocks in or near lesser-known fishing towns for practically nothing and, with little or no council regulations, knocked together crude structures of cement sheeting and corrugated iron before variously painting them in pale yellow, pale blue, pale green or a very fetching ‘mission brown’.

In some places whole communities sprang up on pieces of beach where the tide occasionally came in too high, but where the fishing was just too good to care.

The blocks came to be intersected by dirt tracks roads, usually bearing made-up street names painted on home-made street signs.

You took in your own water, beer and fuel for the generator, you left a lively long-drop, and you took home all of your empties and (hopefully) a bag-limit of freshly-caught fish.

Pretty, they were not, but they came to exhibit a distinctly Australian charm, imbued with an open, fence-free bonhomie. Seachangers drive beach shacks upmarket

Except for some modern utilities and the odd sealed road, some of these communities aren’t terribly different today – Point Gibbon on Eyre Peninsula and Fisherman Bay near Port Broughton are both classic examples.

Alas, the endless summer of cheap seafront was destined to end.

Over the past 30 years, where the sanctity of Crown land, national park or council regulations were judged to have been compromised, shacks were made legit with land titles or proper leases, and council compliance.

Perhaps the biggest change, however, came in the mid-2000s with the rise of the ‘seachanger’.

At first seachangers were city-based retirees looking to reinvest substantial funds in coastal idylls, but they came to include anyone with enough disposable for a second home sur mer.

The result of course was to send coastal land prices through the tin roof.

Fibro shacks with names like Dunrootin’ and Costadaplenty were suddenly sitting on half million-dollar blocks.

Inevitably they were bulldozed to make way for architect-designed two-storey dwellings complete with teenager’s retreats and garages tall enough to admit a LandCruiser pulling a Haines Hunter. Shonky diehards

Some argue there is such a thing as a million-dollar beach shack, but this is an affectation: the grub has become a butterfly, and in truth it has morphed into a ‘beach house’.

So has the South Australian beach shack disappeared?

Not at all. The fibro shack lives on, reliably leaning into sea breezes right along the South Australian coast – all around Yorke Peninsula, up and down the mighty twin coasts of Eyre, and out to the wild west of Fowler’s Bay and the Bight.

Even in swanky beach suburbs close to Adelaide (which have been all but cleansed of mission brown), there’s one or two shonky shack diehards, usually flying a tattered flag branded with Adelaide Crows or Port Power, proudly proclaiming the egalitarian spirit of the Aussie shack.

Moreover, they’re still loved as a holiday escape.

A bit like retro caravans, original beach shacks are becoming cool, admired for their easy maintenance (half of them are on stumps) and loved for their honest aesthetic.

On the outside they may be pressed tin or cement sheeting painted primrose blue, but inside you’ll find limed floorboards and flat-screen TVs.

Beach shack holiday rentals also make sense.

They’re good value, especially if you have a family. Many are still flung far enough to give a proper sense of escape. On the beach is best

And thanks to their historic legacy, some are actually on the beach, which is a rarity in Australia owing to Crown land limitations and the national predilection for lining our foreshores with tarmac.

These days, rental beach shacks are often used by their owners out of holiday season.

As such, they have a lovely lived-in, and it’s perfectly OK to kick your shoes off and make yourself at home. The décor tends to be personal, fun and fancy-free, there’s a refreshing lack of odious OHSS and ‘duty of care’.

Pets are often welcome, and there’s usually a shed full of fun beach stuff out the back (not to mention that defining accoutrement, the fish-cleaning bench).

It adds up to old-fashioned good times. Think playing cricket in the road at twilight, sending the kids out to pick up fish and chips from the kiosk and early morning beach walks with a mug of (yup) instant coffee.

By anybody’s definition, it’s a great holiday. Carrickalinga, Fleurieu Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 45 minutes

Carrickalinga has steep, bald hills behind it and the calm waters of the Spencer Gulf out front. True to its shack/weekender origins, there are no shops at all (you have to go into neighbouring Normanville for pub, cafes etc), only retreats of all shapes and sizes, with the seafront properties inevitably assuming mansion proportions. The attractions of the stunning Fleurieu – including the McLaren Vale to the north and Victor Harbor to the south – are all close.

Shack up: Try Beach Retreat Getaway for basic comforts a few streets back from the beach. Sleeps up to 6 in three bedrooms. From $95 per night.

Go posh: Try The Beach House for some elegant des-res beach-side dwelling. Three bedrooms sleep up to 8. From $450 per night.

Area price range: From $86 per night to $600 per night. Middleton, Fleurieu Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 1 hour

Middleton sits on a handsome 3km beach with great surf, and is close to the terrific towns of Port Elliot and Goolwa. These days, the beach is backed by a vast estate of second homes and weekenders, and gentrification has noticeably taken place over the decades, with properties closest to the beach getting posh enough to appear on the covers of lifestyle magazines. That said, the shacks are still with us. In the older part of Middleton town atop the fine headland, there’s a delightful string of shacks looking onto Mill Terrace.

Shack up: Try Raz Shack for a nice salty surfer’s pad with perfect views of the breaks. Sleeps up to 6. From $130 per night.

Go posh: Try 156 Surfers Parade for a walloping chunk of contemporary seafront retreat. Sleeps up to 5. From $570 per night.

Area price range: From $90 per night to $570 per night. Black Point, Yorke Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: 2 hours

Black Point is a generous cusp of north-facing sand on sheltered clear waters. It was once a 2.5km-long line of shacks, mostly knocked together by grain and sheep farmers who loved the easy access to fishing grounds right off the beach. These days, the long phalanx of holiday houses is distinctly two-storey, but shacks still survive. Rentals of all shape and size still advertise under their original numbers – including Shack 17, Shack 77 and Shack 78.

Shack up: Try The Beach Shack, cute as a bug, right on the sand and sleeping up to 5. From $180 per night.

Go posh: Try Number 99A a modern two-storey retreat on absolute beachfront, sleeping up to eight in three rooms. From $260 per night.

Area price range: From $150 per night to $280 per night. Coffin Bay

Distance from Adelaide: 8 hours

Coffin Bay is famous for its oysters, and no small number of its original shacks were built by oyster growers as well as farmers from the beautiful hinterlands. While Coffin Bay has unquestionably gone upmarket (it’s a popular holiday spot and some of the pastoralists aren’t short of a quid) it retains a simple feel, with a few rudimentary dwellings still occupying prime waterfront positions around the stunning bay.

Shack up: Try Beachside , a dinky-di no-frills shack with up to eight sharing a single space. It also has its own little beach at the end of a path. From $130 per night.

Go posh(er): Try Sheoak Eastside, a contemporary stilted property sleeping up to 8 in four bedrooms. From $158 per night.

Area price range: From $100 per night to $300 per night. Streaky Bay, Eyre Peninsula

Distance from Adelaide: Eight hours

Going further west, you’re into increasingly remote coastal country which was once prime ground for the shack builders.  The town of Streaky Bay is privy to some delicious beach and fishing country, with a few lone shacks close enough to the water to chuck a line in from the deck. Sadly, famous Cactus Beach (the remote surfing beach about 60km from Streaky) was in the news recently when some 250 surfers’ shacks came under scrutiny by the Development Assessment Commission.

Shack up: Try The Shack , another old sea shanty with its own beach, as well as a deck beside the sea. Sleeps up to nine. From $180 per night.

Go posh(er): Try Streaky Daze House and Spa Suite  located five minutes from the beach. The modern brick home sleeps up to nine. From $240 per night.

Area price range: From $110 per night to $240 per night.

This article is bought to you by South Australia Tourism Commission.

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

DuluxGroup workers strike amid looming job cuts

DuluxGroup managing director Patrick Houlihan. Photo: Jesse Marlow More than 100 staff at DuluxGroup have been barricaded from the paint maker’s Brisbane factory after they voted to go on strike following the company’s refusal to remove a cap on redundancy entitlements.

Dulux – which has branded the strike as “opportunistic” –  has installed temporary fencing on council land near the factory at Rocklea. Union officials say this is a deliberate decision aimed at stopping its members from forming a picket line.

The employees’ union, United Voice, and Dulux have been negotiating a new enterprise agreement for several months.

A Dulux spokeswoman said the company anticipated the strike and had “robust contingency plans”, including building up stock levels to ensure no interruptions to its customers.

Fairfax Media has also been told the company installed temporary fencing around the Rocklea site on Tuesday in anticipation for the industrial action, so striking workers could not form a picket line.

The Dulux spokeswoman, however, said the fencing was merely to ensure vehicles could continue to move freely from the site and not an attempt to stop union members from “lawfully assembling”.

She said the staff car park was open to striking employees and the barriers were part of a council approved traffic plan.

“Our intent was absolutely not to stop people picketing, but to make sure that it happens safely,” the spokeswoman said.

“This morning we kept the staff car park, which is on site, open for striking employees because we were so concerned that they may try to park along the roadway, which is less safe.”

But one worker said the fences were “pretty intimidating” and “over-the-top”.

“They’re trying to create an atmosphere that’s not here. The company has gone well overboard with the fence and the security bays on the road,” the worker said.

Dulux has offered employees an annual 3 per cent pay rise and proposed no adverse changes to conditions. It said in a statement this was “fair and reasonable”.

But United Voice is arguing for more generous redundancy entitlements. Dulux wants to retain the cap of 80 weeks pay, recognising 20 years’ of service plus other entitlements including unused annual leave, eight weeks’ severance pay and the paying out of long service leave on a pro rata basis.

But the union says the redundancy entitlements should be uncapped.

“Average service here is more than 20 years,” said United Voice official Damien Davie.

“They have been through different owners and stayed with the company through thick and thin. We just want fairer redundancy provisions.”

Dulux is expecting about 40 job losses when at Rocklea when it opens a new factory in Melbourne in late 2017. It said in a statement to the ASX that about 70 per cent of Rocklea’s 150 operating staff will be retained when the Melbourne site opens

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

The Australian Women’s Weekly editor-in-chief Helen McCabe steps down

Helen McCabe has stepped down as editor-in-chief of The Australian Women’s Weekly. Photo: Damian BennettHigh-profile media identity Helen McCabe’s critics accused her of ignoring the core values of The Australian Women’s Weekly, replacing feel-good at-home celebrity stories with political profiles and that infamous shot of Julia Gillard knitting a kangaroo for Prince George.

But after a six-year tenure as the magazine’s editor-in-chief, on a salary of $400,000 a year, McCabe has shocked the magazine world by announcing she is parting company with the masthead she had steered into uncharted waters, making a few influential and powerful friends, as well as an enemy or two, along the way.

Last November, McCabe delivered the annual Andrew Olle Lecture, giving a wide-ranging speech in which the former political correspondent took sharp aim at everything from the judiciary to critics of her Julia Gillard knitting shoot.

She called for a review of laws she said hindered the media’s ability to tell “important” stories like that of Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, who lost her 11-year-old son Luke two years ago at cricket practice after he was attacked by his father.

“And my contention is that some legislation, and a culture of suppression orders, designed to protect our children, is doing more harm than good,” she said.

As for the Gillard knitting episode, McCabe reflected: “Regrettably, things went wrong for us during a second story about Ms Gillard just as Labor plotted to oust her. She was affronted by our story, which, as requested by her office, depicted her knitting a kangaroo for Prince George.

“This time she lost office the very same day the story hit the stands,” she said. “And later, in her memoir, she wrote that I treated her ‘shabbily’. Were we trying to help her get elected with the cover? No. Were we trying to bring her down with a knitting pattern of a kangaroo? Of course not … They were stories.”

McCabe has long forged strong ties with key players in politics, especially during the Abbott government’s reign, counting the likes of former chief of staff Peta Credlin as a personal friend. Several of her associates speculated she may move into a role in Canberra.

However McCabe also remains close to several key players within the News Corp camp for which she formerly worked as deputy editor of The Sunday Telegraph, prompting much speculation on Wednesday that she may soon be returning to the Murdoch press in a senior role.

First she must serve out the terms of her contract, which reportedly included six months of gardening leave before taking up another media post.

The Australian Women’s Weekly is owned by German magazine publisher Bauer Media.

In a statement issued by the magazine’s publisher, Matthew Dominello, it said McCabe had decided to leave the company to “pursue other interests”, and a replacement would be announced in the “near future”.

“Editing The Australian Women’s Weekly is one of the truly great honours in Australian publishing. But after 6½ years it is the right time to move,” McCabe said.

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India seen edging out China from top growth spot in 2016

Will India take the lead? Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal is to transform the country into a more pro-business economy by slashing red tape and boosting manufacturing. Photo: iStockChina déjà vu all over again while Saudis keep pumpingIndia seen as driving next wave of coal M&A in Australia

Could this be India’s year to shine? With China’s growth targets in doubt, India will stand out for being the only economy in the world to expand more than 7 per cent, according to surveys of Bloomberg economists. China, on the other hand, is enduring the slowest growth in a quarter century and is forecast to expand 6.5 per cent this year. While many of 2016’s economic underachievers will cluster in Latin America and Europe, we now look to Asia and Africa as the motor for global growth this year, accounting for 12 of the 20 best performers. The largest of these – China, India and Indonesia – combined make up more than 17 per cent of global gross domestic product and 40 per cent of the world’s population.

ChindiaThe world’s two most populous nations are in a constant tussle for supremacy. With an economy nearly five times larger than India’s, China remains the true heavyweight. Yet after a rotten start to the year, economists are increasingly zeroing in on its South Asian rival’s growth potential. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal is to transform India into a more pro-business economy by slashing red tape and boosting manufacturing. To spur investment, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan cut borrowing costs four times last year. Though competitors, China is also India’s largest trade partner, so a slowdown there would hurt exports.

African promiseFor impressive growth, look to Africa with four countries making the cut: Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana. Among the 10 African nations surveyed, Uganda emerged as the continent’s best performer with expected growth of 5.6 per cent this year. This in spite of a volatile political landscape ahead of February elections.

Best of the RestIreland is the only euro economy to make the list with growth of 4.1 per cent expected this year. After years of austerity and a bailout, the Celtic Tiger is set to roar again while many of its European peers still struggle. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, the US is forecast to grow 2.5 per cent in 2016, placing the world’s biggest economy near the top of the field compared to its developed market peers. Neither the US nor other developed economies such as Canada, Germany and Australia made the top growth list, with the world economy expected to expand by around 3.3 per cent.  Current forecasts are the median estimate from each country’s latest survey conducted between October and December 2015, bringing the total number of economies surveyed to 93. Bloomberg

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Internet Explorer officially dies, but is your workplace ready to it let go?

Internet Explorer is dead. Long live Internet Explorer (uh, I mean Microsoft Edge).Wednesday marked the day when Microsoft finally ended support for older versions of its archaic web browser, Internet Explorer. But not everybody may be ready to face this reality.

There is a lot of hate for Internet Explorer and Microsoft is aware of this. That is why the Edge browser was created and the vendor is eager to encourage Windows users to embrace it so IE can be swept under the rug and eventually forgotten. One of the ways Microsoft is trying to push the adoption of Edge is to cease supporting Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10. That means no security patches for them from now on. While Internet Explorer 11 is still supported, it is clear Edge is Microsoft’s favoured child.

But so many people — and especially organisations — still cling onto Internet Explorer for a variety of reasons. Companies that have developed apps for Internet Explorer running on legacy systems will have to invest time and money to do an IT overhaul in order to make them work with newer and better web browsers. Some commercial enterprise offerings also operate better on Internet Explorer.

Security consulting company Duo Labs looked at its own enterprise user data globally to find out just how prevalent Internet Explorer is in organisations. It saw that 44 per cent of users who are using Microsoft’s browsers are still running older Internet Explorer versions that are now no longer supported and Edge adoption is still low.

“Unfortunately, the extended notice of this impending drop of support seems to have done little to drive users toward the new Edge browser platform,” Duo Labs research and development product manager Mike Hanley said in a blog post. “In fact, the ratio of Edge users to IE users is actually only around 1 in 15.”

The Duo Lab findings also suggest that a number of users have turned Automatic Updates off on their Windows PCs which would have moved outdated browsers onto Internet Explorer 11. This means they’re likely to have missed out on crucial operating systems patches as well.

Small businesses are also neglecting to upgrade their browsers. According to data from small business resource site Manta, 34 per cent of small business owners are still using Internet Explorer and of that group, 61 per cent are using version 10 or older. End of support for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 will leave many of them in the lurch.

As noted by IT security firm BeyondTrust, Microsoft will offer some breathing space to select users who have yet to update from old versions of Internet Explorer: Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will still receive updates for Internet Explorer 9, as that is the most current supported version on those operating systems.Windows Server 2012 will still receive updates for Internet Explorer 10, as that is the most current supported version on that operating system.Windows 8 is no longer supported, so customers must update to Windows 8.1 in order to receive Internet Explorer 11.

But for most users who are stuck in their ways of running antiquated Internet Explorers, the message is loud and clear: update your browsers. If your organisation requires you to use Internet Explorer for legacy apps and plug-ins, at least move on to Internet Explorer 11.

For IT managers, perhaps the end of support for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 is a good time to bring up the need to upgrade older apps and IT systems to support newer and more reliable browsers to your business leaders. Yes, the cost to do so can be huge but the value of security should be considered as well.

“Using a less-secure browser in today’s security climate in order to support a legacy interface can ultimately be more costly than updating the application or working with a vendor to provide support for newer software in the event of a compromise,” Hanley said.

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Nurse held for Nepean Hospital shooting was on bail charged with assaulting officers

Senior Constable Luke Warburton, pictured with his dog Chuck, is in a critical but stable condition. Photo: David Darcy A man arrested over a double shooting inside Nepean Hospital’s emergency department overnight was allegedly bailed for a string of offences. Photo: Rachel Olding

A man charged with shooting a police officer and a security guard inside Nepean Hospital’s emergency department is a nurse from a nearby hospital who had been released on bail by police earlier in the day after allegedly attacking three officers.

The 39-year-old man was arrested overnight after allegedly holding a pair of scissors to the throat of a female doctor at the busy hospital in Kingswood, in Sydney’s west, and screaming that he was going to “kill someone”.

The first police officer on the scene, Senior Constable Luke Warburton, was shot in the upper thigh when his gun was pulled from his holster during a scuffle with the man in front of terrified patients and staff just before 10.30pm on Tuesday.

Senior Constable Warburton, 38, from the NSW Police Dog Squad, was listed as critical but stable on Wednesday.

The security guard was shot in the leg and was in a stable condition on Wednesday afternoon.

Fairfax Media has been told the alleged shooter was a registered nurse at Westmead Hospital who had left two years ago, partly due to ongoing problems with the drug ice.

He had never had any troubles with the police until Tuesday morning, when he was arrested and charged with a string of offences, including an aggravated break and enter in the Colyton area.

He was also charged with assaulting two police officers and resisting a third police officer.

However, police granted him bail on the sole condition that he stay away from an address in Colyton.

It’s understood the officers took him to hospital in police custody and served a court attendance notice on him while in hospital.

Hours later, he became embroiled in an argument with his wife, believed to be in her teens, that spilled over into the emergency department ward.

It ended with him allegedly firing Senior Constable Warburton’s gun twice before being subdued and taken away from the hospital screaming and swearing.

An elderly male patient, who was about to go to sleep in a neighbouring room, said he could hear the man screaming “I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you” and “You took my family”.

Another patient who heard the fight said he believed the man was arguing with his wife and she was among several people who kept screaming “Michael, Michael” at him.

“When the first shot went off, the woman let out this deafening scream. It was horrible. Then when the second shot went off she screamed even louder,” the patient said.

A patient dragged Senior Constable Warburton away from the gunman after he was shot, according to reports.

The man has been charged with shooting with intent to murder, discharging a firearm to resist arrest and detaining for advantage.

He was due to appear in Penrith Local Court on Wednesday but had to be taken back to Nepean Hospital to be assessed.

It’s understood he was discharged from hospital on Tuesday afternoon but somehow sustained further injuries, including a suspected broken jaw, forcing him to return to hospital on Tuesday night when the melee occurred.

He was expected to stay in hospital under heavy police guard on Wednesday night before appearing in court on Thursday.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn went to the hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and spoke to the injured officer’s family. She said a critical incident investigation was under way.

“For everybody involved, this is a very traumatic situation,” she said.

“At the moment my thoughts are with the officer, my thoughts are with the officer’s family.

“I have spoken to his wife, his wife is at the hospital.”

Senior Constable Warburton was involved in the arrest of notorious bush fugitive Malcolm Naden in 2012 along with his police dog Chuck.

Gerard Hayes, the secretary of the Health Services Union, said security officers within the NSW health system were faced with violence daily.

“[The shooting] is an outrageous situation. This is an extreme example, of course, but security officers within health are putting up with violent activity every day,” he said.

“The ice situation is really getting out of control, particularly in emergency departments. We’re seeing a growing number of violence issues, particularly related to ice. This needs to be addressed.”

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner said she had agreed to a request to meet the Health Services Union following the shooting. The meeting is expected to take place next week.

“The security and welfare of staff and patients in our hospitals is always paramount,” Ms Skinner said.

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