All you can do is cringe at Aussie flick Swinging Safari

A film still from the new Australian film Swinging Safari. Photo shows Julian McMahon who plays Rick Jones.For Garry Maddox. Image supplied. A film still from the new Australian film Swinging Safari. Photo is of Asher Keddie who plays Gale Marsh.For Garry Maddox. Image supplied.

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A cultural shift occurred in Australian cinema in the early 1990s. A trio of future classics appeared celebrating all that was theatrical, outrageous and unashamedly crass in the national character.

Admittedly, Edna Everage had got there first but this amounted to a wholehearted endorsement. First came Strictly Ballroom in 1992, followed by The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding two years later.

Each of these films went on to spawn a stage musical but no film since has quite reached their dizzy high camp peaks – which doesn’t mean that film-makers have stopped trying. Priscilla’s director, Stephan Elliott, is back on the case with Swinging Safari, an autobiographical effort set during his 1970s childhood. I hope that at least some of it is fiction. If not, it’s a miracle that he got out alive.

His alter ego, 14 year-old Jeff Marsh (Atticus Robb) lives in a sleepy Gold Coast town, where his possession of a movie camera ensures his popularity with the other kids. He’s obsessed with disaster movies and he has found an agile stunt man in his friend, Gerome (Jesse Denyer), who’s willing to try just about anything short of being set on fire – a reservation they discover only through trial and error, the error being near-fatal.

None of these exploits have come to the attention of Jeff’s parents, Gale (Asher Keddie) and Bob (Jeremy Sims), who have other preoccupations. Bob is consumed with his hobby, playing the organ, and his job as a sales rep for the inexhaustively inventive gadgetry company, K-Tel, while Gale has her tennis and her friendship with the neighbourhood’s trendsetters, Rick and Jo Jones (Julian McMahon and Radha Mitchell). The Joneses are wealthy with a house big enough to accommodate her wig collection and his ego. And at the other end of the street – and the social pecking order – are the Halls, Keith and Kaye (Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue). Once a golden couple, they have now fallen on hard times. He scrapes a living selling Funk & Wagnall encyclopaedias and she drinks. But he, too, cherishes his connection to the Joneses.

It’s easy to go along with Elliott while he arranges the furniture and accessorises his characters. The bell bottoms, shag pile conversation pit and a stretchy all-in-one bodysuit bravely worn by Sims all help to keep you entertained for the film’s first half. The costume designer is Lizzy Gardiner, who scored an Oscar for her work on Priscilla and, it turns out, grew up in Elliott’s neighbourhood. And for some of us, there’s great nostalgia value in the film’s comprehensively detailed depictions of a day at the beach complete with home comforts and sand-coated gourmet treats. This crowd favours KFC and cask wine and once the sunblock has been applied, they settle down to enjoy both while their kids concentrate on trying to drown or sting themselves half to death by stamping on bluebottles. And all the while, Jeff goes on filming.

The trouble starts when things get half-serious. The half bit is the problem. Because Elliott isn’t remotely interested in the concept of subtlety, he lacks control over the film’s tone and things frequently switch all too suddenly from merely cynical to the totally cringe-worthy.

The catalyst comes when their beach makes headlines for the first time in the population’s collective memory because a massive blue whale has become stranded there and begun to die. Nobody in town knows what to do about it. Once they’ve become bored with posing for photographs in front of it, they cease to care. The only one who does is Jeff’s friend, Melly Jones (Darcey Wilson), who’s already shaken up by inadvertently catching sight of her parents and their friends indulging in a night of spouse-swapping.

Her dearest wish is to leave home and never have to see them again, an impulse which I found to be perfectly understandable. The only one who gets the chance to move beyond the bounds of caricature is Sims. And after Elliott had gone on cranking up the crassness to a point well beyond its capacity to amuse, I, too, had had enough.

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End of era: Celebrity agent John McGrath quits real estate group

John McGrath, founder of McGrath, parted ways with REA Group, publisher of realestate南京夜网419论坛, on Tuesday.

In an ASX announcement on Tuesday afternoon, REA announced Mr McGrath was stepping down as a board director after being appointed to the position 19 years ago.

It’s believed Mr McGrath decided to step down for personal reasons.

REA Group is a main rival of Domain Group, publisher of this article.

Once dubbed “Mr Sydney Real Estate” for his high profile and long-running stint in the real estate industry, John McGrath has been scaling back his roles within the industry after a few tumultuous years.

In 2016 he stepped down as CEO of the real estate agency he founded in 1988, after 30 years in charge.

His decision to step down as chief executive followed a disastrous performance on the stock market in December 2015 when it first became a publicly-listed company.

In its first seven months, McGrath Limited saw shares down more than 40 per cent from the initial $2.10 offer price.

A major shake-up of senior management was another of the many changes the company implemented after the weak showing of its maiden stock.

Mr McGrath weathered another personal hit that year, taking a 56 per cent pay cut that reduced his annual remuneration from $744,765 in 2015 to $327,415 in 2016.

He remains the biggest shareholder in McGrath Limited with about 26 per cent worth of equity.

REA Group board chairman Hamish McLennan acknowledged Mr McGrath’s service to the REA Group board in a statement.

“Mr McGrath’s lengthy contribution to the REA Group has been highly regarded by the board,” Mr McLennan said.

“I am particularly grateful for his invaluable industry knowledge. He leaves the group with a multibillion-dollar market capitalisation and we wish him the best of luck,” he said.

The search is now on for a new independent director for the company.

Domain contacted both Mr McGrath and the REA Group but they declined to comment.

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What to expect in the Sydney property market in 2018

Experts called the end of Sydney’s property boom last year when property prices dropped for the first time in years.

So with the city’s five-year boom now behind us, here’s what experts are predicting for 2018. Property prices to continue to cool

Off the back of slowing price growth last year, Market Economics managing director Stephen Koukoulas believes property prices will fall, as tighter lending restrictions see the continued retreat of investors.

“We’ve already seen prices come off about 2.5 per cent in the last four months or so.

“I can easily see, over the course of the year, 5 per cent falls, particularly in the top end of the market.”

He said price drops wouldn’t be seen as much in the lower end of the market, which would be propped up by an increase in first-home buyer activity.

Lower-priced markets will continue to see quarter on quarter growth, according to Domain Group data scientist Nicola Powell.

“The central coast, south-west and western Sydney unit markets, in particular, are still seeing price growth,” she said.

While Dr Powell said Sydney’s price growth would moderate, she still expected positive growth over the year.

NAB group chief economist Alan Oster agreed, predicting Sydney house prices would rise about 3 per cent.

“I still think there is under supply in the market [that will drive house price growth],” he said. “[However] the apartment market will basically be flat, and some areas like the CBD will see price falls.” Related: Sydney clearance rate hits two-year lowRelated: Sydney house prices drop 2 per centRelated: Inner city Sydney property prices slump

Clearance rates below 60 per cent to become the norm

The preliminary clearance rate hit a two-year low in December when it dropped to 58.2 per cent, and experts predict lower rates will be the new norm in 2018.

While clearance rates of 70 to 80 per cent were commonplace in recent years, Starr Partners chief executive Douglas Driscoll said they weren’t sustainable.

“We’ve already seen auction clearance rates in the late 50 per cent range, and that’s from the reported auctions, the real rates are probably about 15 per cent below that.”

He predicted clearance rates for Sydney houses would hover between 55 and 60 per cent for much of the year, but would drop to about 50 per cent for apartments.

“[Before] we were in the market of a lifetime, not just a market of a decade,” he said. “To still have more than a one in two chance of selling [at auction] is good.”

The number of properties headed to auction was also tipped to fall.

“We’ve gone through a wave where such a high proportion of properties were going for sale through auction, so I do think we’re going to see fewer properties going under the hammer,” said Dr Powell.

“Clearance rates are a barometer of buyer sentiment,” she said. “The lowering rate … can result in a nervousness for vendors. We saw a higher number of withdrawals last year and I do expect that to continue.”

The days of spirited bidding from buyers desperate to get into the market, were largely gone, said Raine & Horne Blacktown business development manager Edwin Almeida.

“We’ve seen auction figures of upwards of 800 properties a week, I believe that should come down to 250 a week,” he said. “In this market you cannot afford to put pressure on the buyer … they’ll just back off.

“Buyers are going to be very choosy moving forward and if you’re not going to give the buyers the time to do all the checks and balances they want for the property, well guess what they’re not going to bid,” he said. “They think, if I don’t get this one, I can just get the next one.” First-home buyers to get ahead of investors

With less competition from investors, this is the year first-home buyers are expected to get ahead.

“We’ve seen the number of investors half in our territories,” said Mr Driscoll. “But we probably had thrice as many as we wanted anyway.”

He expected first-home activity to continue to rise, as they’re encouraged by stamp duty concessions, while investors were deterred by lending restrictions – which he predicted wouldn’t be lifted this year.

Long-term investors leaving the market before further price falls, and overextended investors who couldn’t afford to refinance from interest-only loan to principal and interest loans would also leave more room for first-home buyers, according to Mr Almeida.

“I think we’re going to see a lot of investment property come onto the market … that could put more downward pressure on the market.”

While Mr Koukoulas didn’t expect a huge sell-off from investors struggling with refinancing, he expected some would get “a bit of a shock” and decide to cash out.

He said while investors would increasingly stay away from the market, the return of first-home buyers would be a “slow burn” as Sydney property was still out of reach for many.

“I wouldn’t say it would be a rush to market but we might see a general upward trend,” Mr Koukoulas said.

However, he noted 2018 would see a clear improvement in Sydney’s housing affordability, that could have first-home buyers “shouting a little more optimistically”.

“This could be the year the first-home buyer finally manages to get atop of the investor.” Development delays and deal sweeteners

Tighter lending restrictions have had a material impact on local and offshore buyers of new apartments, according to Savills Australia head of residential Ged Rockliff.

Increases in stamp duty for foreign buyers and restrictions on withdrawing funds from China have also had their toll.

“We believe a number of projects with approval will be delayed as achieving [presales] will take longer,” he said.

“Sales in blue chip located projects with a bias to the owner-occupier/downsizer market will continue to perform well.”

Property prices plateaued over 2017 and are expected to remain at the same level, added Sophie Chick, Savills’ head of residential research.

However, she noted it was a “high plateau” and that prices would likely rise in years to come if demand increased as a result of a slowdown in development activity.

She said prices were expected to remain the same in 2018, but would likely rise in years to come if demand increased as a result of a slowdown in development activity. NormalfalsefalseEN-AUJAX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

BHP’s $15,000 dust pollution fine ‘shows laws don’t protect communities’

BHP’s $15,000 dust pollution fine ‘shows laws don’t protect communities’ Large: The giant Mount Arthur coal mine outside Muswellbrook which has been the subject of a string of fines, penalties and incidents.

Haul: Coal trains leave Mount Arthur coal mine outside Muswellbrook.

Criticism: The NSW Government has been heavily criticised for low fines levied on coal mining companies in the Hunter.

TweetFacebook Mount Arthur coal mine hit with a $15,000 dust pollution fineAnother penalty for one of the state’s biggest open cut coal mine operatorsMUSWELLBROOK mayor Martin Rush has called on the NSW Government to put BHP Billiton’s right to operate the Mount Arthur coal mine on the line after slamming the company’s latest $15,000 fine for environmental pollution.

“BHP Billiton has a deplorable record of environmental offending and the time must come where the state government finds that it is not a fit and proper person to hold a mining planning approval in NSW,” Mr Rush said after the Environment Protection Authority on Wednesday announced a $15,000 Mount Arthur fine for dust pollution.

“Despite everything the state government says, the truth of the matter is that the government’s laws do not protect communities. When a fine of $15,000 applies for a breach of a condition designed to protect human health, the only penalty that will make BHP Billiton sit up and listen is a withdrawal of the right to mine.

“There are many responsible mine companies out there. BHP Billiton is not one of them. It’s time a responsible mining company took over the operation.”

The EPA gave little detail of the incident which occurred in late 2017 after a witness complained of excess mine dust blowing across a public road near the Muswellbrook mine.

EPA Hunter director Karen Marler said the witness provided photographs of the incident.

“Mines must not be complacent about managing dust from their activities. All mines are required to apply best practice dust controls and minimise dust generation at all times. If they aren’t doing so, they face regulatory action from the EPA,” Ms Marler said.

The dust incident is the latest in a string of penalties, warnings,approval non-compliances and incidents at the mine which is one of the biggest open cut coal mines in the state. It has six open cut pits supplying 16.77 million tonnes of coal to the Port of Newcastle for export in 2016/17 and 1.4 million tonnes to Bayswater power station via overland conveyor. The mine produced more than 100 million tonnes of overburden during that period. It employs more than 1000 mine workers and contractors.

In September 2012 there was public controversy after the Department of Planning issued the company with a warning letter after a serious dust incident when spoil was dumped on the highest mine dump site during windy conditions. BHP made $14.7 billion profit during the same period and its most senior executive earnt $9.5 million.

The mine was fined $1500 and the EPA and Department of Planning were heavily criticised in October 2013 after two blast incidents one week apart left Camberwell with “hazardous” air quality on the second occasion. Health warnings were issued for asthmatics, the elderly and children.

The mine blasted explosives leftin the ground for too long on October 10, 2013, and despite complaints from the public about the blast emissions, Mount Arthur repeated the incident on October 17.

The company was prosecuted the following year after another blast incident on February 19, 2014, involving explosives left in the ground for too long, affected 14 people in a Muswellbrook industrial estate.

In July 2015 BHP paid more than $100,000 in penalties and legal costs after it pleadedguilty toan offence under Protection of the Environment Operations Act. The company told the Land and Environment Court the 2014 blast incident was “foreseeable and foreseen”.

In an environmental audit dated June, 2017 Mount Arthur said it recovered 171,560 cubic metres of topsoil from 72.5 hectares of land clearing ahead of mining in the previous year. Another 275,000 cubic metres was relocated from existing stockpiles.

During the year to June, 2017 the company received 14 noise complaints, which was “significantly lower” than 69 complaints in the previous year, but higher than five complaints in 2015.

In the 12 months there were 139 blasts and 16 complaints, which was more than 13 complaints in the previous year, and less than 35 blast complaints in 2015.

The audit noted 27 dust-related complaints which was similar to 26 complaints in 2016 but higher than seven complaints in 2015.

The audit noted one dam overflow incident in the year to June, 2017 and two pipeline failures leading to water from the mine flowing from the Mount Arthur site to public roads and then to mine-owned land.

Mount Arthur said it reported each overflow incident to the EPA and took action after investigating the matters.

In one incident mine water flowed for about 16 hours until an open valve was identified, and in another incident 20,000 litres of mine water flowed through a culvert beneath Denman Road onto mine-owned land beyond the main Mount Arthur site.

In August Muswellbrook Council launched legal action against BHP and the Department of Planning to enforce mine rehabilitation consent conditions.

Ms Marler said the EPA will “monitor this mine to check that it is using appropriate dust control measures”.

World’s top fund manager to CEOs: Do good for society

More than 1,000 CEOs around the globe received a letter on Tuesday from one of the world’s most influential money managers with a pointed message: Simply posting good financial returns is no longer enough. You must have a positive impact on society, too.

In his annual letter to CEOs, Laurence Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, which manages nearly $US6.3 trillion ($7.9 trillion) in investments, put CEOs on high alert that they would be expected to answer questions about their long-term strategy, what role they play in their communities and whether they are creating a diverse workforce that is being retrained for opportunities in a more automated future.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” Fink wrote in his letter. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Fink’s letter used stronger language, experts said, than his recent annual letters to CEOs, which have focused on long-term strategies and the environmental, social and governance practices (often called “ESG” factors) of the companies in which they invest.

In this year’s letter, Fink said he would double the size of BlackRock’s team that engages with companies to try to get them to do more on such issues.

“We are seeing a paradox of high returns and high anxiety,” Fink wrote, expressing concern about income inequality, infrastructure and automation.

“Since the financial crisis, those with capital have reaped enormous benefits. At the same time, many individuals across the world are facing a combination of low rates, low wage growth and inadequate retirement systems.”

He noted the growing expectation that the private sector play a role in resolving concerns, writing that “we also see many governments failing to prepare for the future.”

The letter comes amid a greater recognition in corporate boardrooms and money management offices about the importance of issues like climate change, leadership diversity and income inequality for the long-term health of the bottom lines of companies.

One recent survey by the investment consulting firm Callan found that just 39 per cent of investors said the payoff for considering ESG issues in investment decisions was unclear, down from 63 per cent in 2016. Once the domain of socially responsible mutual funds or a major focus of activist pension funds, such factors have grabbed the attention of a broader array of shareholders as they evaluate where to invest.

“We used to talk about ‘social investing,’ which made it sound like we were talking about a debutante pavillion,” said Nell Minow, vice chair of the ValueEdge Advisors. Now, Minow said, as such issues have gotten new vocabulary and focus from more investors – and as the government is increasingly rolling back its involvement in issues like climate change – there’s a greater expectation that private sectors pick up the slack.

“It’s a mistake to think there’s any tradeoff here between financial returns and social goals. All of this is very much factored in to making sure that the company makes money.” Read now: Larry Fink’s annual letter to #CEOs –>南京夜网/IdqToF5cmK??? BlackRock (@blackrock) January 16, 2018This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.