Cambodian court delays bail decision on Ricketson

Phnom Penh: Declaring that journalism is not a crime, accused Australian spy James Ricketson was ordered returned to one of Cambodia’s harshest prisons on Wednesday after judges delayed announcing whether he could be released on bail.
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“I have a right to free speech under the Cambodian constitution,” 68-year-old Ricketson said as guards led him from the country’s Supreme Court.

“I would like to think the Australian government would defend my right to free speech,” he said.

Ricketson arrived at the court almost an hour after the delay was announced in an apparent jail transfer mix-up.

“I’d love to know what country I am supposed to be spying for,” Ricketson told Fairfax Media while handcuffed to another prisoner.

Court officials said the case was delayed until January 31 because authorities were late bringing Ricketson from jail for Wednesday’s hearing.

Ricketson said he was not confident of being released on bail because it would be a “loss of face” for those building a case against him.

Authorities are investigating Ricketson over his alleged links to a now-disbanded opposition party, which has been accused of attempting to overthrow strongman Hun Sen in a purported United States-backed conspiracy.

He was arrested after flying a drone over a rally on Phnom Penh’s riverfront staged by the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party in June and accused of spying against the government.

The opposition party’s leaders have been jailed, are in hiding or have fled the country in a sweeping crackdown on opponents of Hun Sen ahead of elections scheduled for mid-year.

Analysts say the supposed conspiracy has provided Hun Sen, one of the world’s most notorious autocrats, with an excuse to target his political opponents, as he shrugs off any pretence of democracy in the country where Australia has a deal to send refugees from Nauru.

Opposition figures and the US have strongly denied involvement in any conspiracy.

Ricketson, a prolific letter writer and blogger and award-winning documentary maker from Sydney, was a familiar figure over years at opposition and protest rallies in Phnom Penh, where he has been filming a documentary on a former street beggar he has supported for decades.

Ricketson told an earlier court hearing he came to Cambodia “to help poor people and make films, not to be a spy”.

For years he has supported scavengers at a rubbish dump on the outskirts of Phnom Penh while writing critical blogs about some non-government-organisations in Phnom Penh and campaigning against the conviction of a convicted British child sex offender, who he says is innocent.

Ricketson has been held in pre-trial detention since June in Prey Sar, one of Cambodia’s notoriously harsh jails, as he protests his innocence.

“I am still confused as to what I have done other than flying a drone without a permit to deserve such punishment,” Ricketson wrote from a cell he is sharing with 27 other prisoners.

The circumstances of his arrest and detention have been murky.

Officials said he has been accused of spying “for a foreign state or agents” but provided no further details.

Fresh News, a pro-government news site, accused Ricketson of being an “important spy” and linked him to the supposed plot to overthrow Hun Sen that allegedly involved opposition leaders, staff of NGOs, US embassy officials and journalists.

Support for Ricketson is growing in Australia where thousands of people have signed a petition calling for his release and criticising the Turnbull government for failing to intervene in his case.

Australian journalist Peter Greste, a press freedom advocate who was jailed along with two other Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, has thrown his support behind the campaign.

Greste tweeted to his 50,000 followers: “Help free another journalist in prison on national security charges. No evidence that James Ricketson in Cambodia is guilty of anything other than caring.”

People who know Ricketson say any suggestion he is was spying is ludicrous.

Ricketson is suffering un-medicated high blood pressure and other ailments and his family fear he may die in jail.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the “Australian Government is continuing to provide consular support, while ensuring we do not prejudice in any way his current situation.”

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‘Simply outrageous’: Train strike could cost economy $100m

Commuters wait for the train at Strathfield station as timetable changes and shortage of train drivers has forced some services to be cut. Strathfield, Sydney. 15th January, 2018. Photo: Kate Geraghty NSW Premier Mike Baird, Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian and Sydney Business Chamber Executive Director Patricia Forsythe make a business tax announcement.Photo Nick Moir 13 June 2016
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NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance (left) & Sydney Trains CEO Howard Collins (right) at Martin Place train station. Sydney CBD. 15th January, 2018. Photo: Kate Geraghty

A planned 24-hour train strike later this month could cost the local economy more than $100 million, the Sydney Business Chamber says, labelling the strike “simply outrageous”.

Patricia Forsythe, executive director of the Chamber, also said the rail union’s call for people to stay home on the day of the planned strike on January 29 was irresponsible.

“It’s one of the busiest days of the work year: the Monday after the Australia Day holiday is traditionally one when basically all of the workforce is back from summer holidays, schools are returning. It is a significant day in our economy,” she said.

“If they were going to pick a day for maximum disruption they’ve certainly done that.”

Ms Forsythe said the Business Chamber’s estimate was based on the fact about 10 per cent of the workforce in greater Sydney use the rail system to get to work, and Sydney had a “billion dollar economy”.

“Our estimate – and it depends on how many people can’t get other means of transport – is that it could effectively cost the Sydney economy more than $100 million,” she said.

“Without a doubt it represents millions and millions of dollars to our economy.”

On Wednesday, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) announced the details of their planned strike, saying NSW train workers will stop work at 12.01am on Monday, January 29 and start work again at 12.01am on Tuesday.

The union’s NSW secretary Alex Claassens??? said Transport Minister Andrew Constance and the state government “[hasn’t] left us with any other choice” after pay negotiations stalled.

“There’s never an ideal time to take this kind of action, but the reality is, we have to,” he said.

Mr Constance told Network Seven on Wednesday that the proposed strike is a “silly stunt”.

“The rail union don’t want to meet with me,” he said.

The RBTU is asking for a pay rise of 6 per cent per year, while the government is sticking to their proposed 2.5 per cent increase.

Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he thought the union was asking for too much, and while he was not a fan of the planned stop-work he thought rail workers deserved better conditions.

“Workers deserve to be treated with respect, people who work for a living delivering vital public services deserve to be well treated with fair pay and good conditions,” he said.

“They deserve a pay rise, but 6 per cent is too much.”

Mr Foley said Mr Constance needed to sit down with the union and work the problem out, otherwise one million commuters will be affected by the strike action.

“This requires both sides sitting down in good faith, negotiating a common-sense solution – there’s plenty of middle ground here,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said Mr Constance had “inflamed” the situation with the union.

“His premier needs to sideline him so that this matter can be resolved,” he said.

Ms Forsythe said the Business Chamber has spoken previously to Mr Constance’s office, but on Wednesday they were calling on the union to halt their industrial action.

“It’s the wrong call, it’s the wrong message,” she said.

The planned strike comes after a horror week on Sydney’s train network, with staff shortages and network damage leaving thousands of commuters stranded.

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Why Woolies boss is looking at start-ups to never run low on bread again

Technology is revolutionising the way supermarkets do business but Australian shoppers aren’t yet ready to embrace some of the futuristic innovations retailers are trialling, Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci says.
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“Technology has become crucial to the future of retail – this is the key for us,” Mr Banducci told Fairfax Media on the sidelines of the National Retailers Federation’s annual expo in New York City.

Mr Banducci was scouring the expo on Tuesday looking for the latest innovations from tech giants and start-ups that could be used in Woolworths’ almost 1000 stores.

Among those that caught his eye was a new barcode scanning technology from software company Digimarc which embeds a code that is imperceptible to the human eye into a product’s packaging design, meaning any part of the item can be scanned at checkout.

The technology has been used by US supermarket Wegmans on its entire range of home-brand products, and Digimarc says it speeds up checkout scanning times by 30 per cent.

“We know our shoppers will let us use their data to help them have a better shopping experience, but we’ve got to be very cautious,” Mr Banducci said.

Several exhibitors at the conference are pitching software that uses cameras and image recognition software to monitor product levels on shelves.

“If you want to upset a customer, don’t have bread,” Mr Banducci said, adding that technology that alerts store managers whenever stock was low was a “fantastic” tool.

Similar technology was being used to check the accuracy of online orders before they are collected or shipped, and to monitor supply chains.

Mr Banducci said he spotted a couple of other attractive technologies that “we’d rather keep to ourselves”.

Some of the most significant advances in the way supermarkets operate have happened recently in China, where some shoppers do not ever encounter a staff member or checkout.

Some Suning and Alibaba stores use facial recognition software to identify customers and automatically charge their bank accounts for the products, which are tagged with sensors, they walk out with.

Mr Banducci said Woolworths could be doing similar things if it wanted to, but had to tread carefully around customers’ privacy concerns and privacy laws.

“I don’t know if the Australian consumer is ready for it. Maybe the next generation will be,” he said.

“We know our shoppers will let us use their data to help them have a better shopping experience, but we’ve got to be very cautious.”

Woolworths recently introduced a suite of digital innovations at its Marrickville Metro store, including installing touch screens to tell bakery staff what they needed to bake and when, and enabling an in-store product finder in its app.

“We’re doing a lot of learning and proof of concepts in that store before we take it to further roll-out or further enhancements,” said Fay Ilhan, Woolworths’ head of e-commerce sales and digital innovations.

Those changes were driven by the company’s new division WooliesX, which was formed last year and brought together its digital, e-commerce, customer loyalty and customer services teams in an effort to drive innovation at the 93-year-old supermarket.

“There is as much opportunity to digitise the back of house as the front of the shop: how you sign in contractors, how you figure out how many chickens to cook – there’s amazing opportunities,” Mr Banducci said.

The reporter attended NRF as a guest of Microsoft.

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Fifteen-year-old storms past Rogowska

It took until the post-match interview on court before many in the crowd appeared to realise that teenage sensation Marta Kostyuk was just 15 years old.
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The audible murmur that hummed around Margaret Court Arena was one of surprise, as the exhausted Kostyuk, born in June 2002, found the right words to describe her elation at making the third round of a grand slam for the first time.

Her feat is not to be underplayed, as she is the youngest female player to reach such a stage in a grand slam since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the 1997 US Open, and the youngest to do so in Australia since Martina Hingis in 1996.

After watching her demolish her opponent 6-3, 7-5, the crowd’s reaction was understandable, as even her vanquished opponent, Australian Olivia Rogowska, was taken aback by the power of Kostyuk’s shots.

The 26-year-old said post-match she did not feel as though it was a 15-year-old on the other side of the net.

“She’s going to be a dangerous player when she grows up,” Rogowska said.

Kostyuk’s threat level, already high enough to dispose of the Australian wildcard and the 25th seed Shuai Peng in the first two rounds, is only going to grow.

The only pointer to her tender age on the tennis court was the inconsistency in her play.

Eleven double faults and 22 winners give an indication of the 89 minutes of ups and downs, but those slingshot returns from the back of the court that did hit the mark were unstoppable.

Already it’s easier to catch a hungry lizard’s tongue than return Kostyuk’s forehand when she hits one with force.

At times she took both feet off the ground and pirouetted like an Olympic ice skater, twirling through the air to put her full weight behind the balls she fired past a hapless Rogowska.

It was a shot combining the grace and power of an acrobat, a skill Kostyuk has practised for seven years, or nearly half her life.

She knows her fame is growing, admitting after the win that she sensed something had shifted, and it wasn’t just the size of her bank balance.

The first words she uttered as she entered the packed media conference were: “This is scary.”

It was a quote befitting someone her age, but she showed great maturity in dealing with the focus.

“It’s actually the first win when I feel like something is going on, something different,” Kostyuk said.

She said the experience she gained the previous year, when winning the Australian Open junior final, stood her in good stead and the only nerves came when she served.

She also admitted the code violation paid against her for coaching from the sidelines left her fuming, as the incident threatened to upset her equilibrium and momentum early in the second set.

“I was so mad. I wasn’t upset. I was so mad, because I didn’t see what mum was showing me,” Kostyuk said. “Then when the referee said code violation, I was, like, what? I didn’t even see her, like – like, I swear, I didn’t see what she was showing me.”

It was, it seemed, the sort of interaction mums have with their teenagers every day, with her mother also telling her post-game to stay away from her phone until she had eaten properly.

The sparkly teenager was compliant, as she knows what needs to be done to succeed in her chosen profession.

“I know that only talent will not help me to play good,” Kostyuk said. “I’m working pretty hard.”

Now she faces her Ukrainian compatriot Elina Svitolina in the third round, and will go into the game with some expectation to perform. Not that it concerns her too much.

“I will just enjoy it. I think I’m going to play on big court again, but I will just try to show my best tennis,” Kostyuk said.

Meanwhile, title favourite Svitolina celebrated like she’d won the Australian Open after surviving a stern test against rising Czech Katerina Siniakova to reach the third round.

Fourth-seeded Svitolina exploded with an animated double fist pump after battling back from a set down to progress 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.

She conceded it was tough going in her first appearance of the tournament at Rod Laver Arena.

“I thought I’m going to melt today. It was not easy and I was struggling a bit,” she said after the 2??-hour workout.

“Hopefully I can recover. I can’t wait for an ice bath.”

With AAP

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First-home buyers shine in new ABS data

First-home buyers have again lifted their claim on new mortgage lending in Australia, according to official data, with experts calling 2018 the year of the first-home buyer comeback.
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The number of loans written to first-home buyers, as a percentage of total owner-occupied loans, rose to 18 per cent in November 2017 from 17.6 per cent in the previous month, ABS housing finance data show.

The last time the figures were at 18 per cent or above was 2012 – although that figure was still a long way off May 2009 when first-home buyers made up 31.4 per cent of all new mortgages.

The figures also show policy measures aimed at dissuading property investors continued to bite in November, with a seasonally adjusted 1.5 per cent gain in finance to investors in the month but an 8.3 per cent fall year-on-year.

Overall housing finance commitments were up 2.1 per cent in November and average loan sizes for both owner occupiers and first-home buyers rose – $11,000 and $3000, respectively.

Chief economist at Market Economics Stephen Koukoulas said a softer national market, low interest rates and better buying conditions were coming together to help many young buyers into the market.

“Opportunities for first-home buyers are certainly improving,” he said, but warned the figures may not continue to rise, but rather track sideways from current highs.

“Once you’ve already had a decent pick-up it’s hard for it to keep growing.”

“Maybe there will be more of a consolidation of these higher levels rather than extra growth.” Aust Nov housing finance: investors +1.5%mom, owner occupiers +2.7%. Stronger than expected but investor share continuing to fall. First home buyer share rose to 18% as decline in investors provides space and improved stamp duty duty concessions in NSW and Victoria help. pic.twitter南京夜网/1T4R0sMElL??? Shane Oliver (@ShaneOliverAMP) January 17, 2018This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sorry, no one wants your used clothes anymore

For decades, the donation bin has offered consumers in rich countries a guilt-free way to unload their old clothing.

In a virtuous and profitable cycle, a global network of traders would collect these garments, grade them, and transport them around the world to be recycled, worn again, or turned into rags and stuffing.

Now that cycle is breaking down. Fashion trends are accelerating, new clothes are becoming as cheap as used ones, and poor countries are turning their backs on the second-hand trade. Without significant changes in the way that clothes are made and marketed, this could add up to an environmental disaster in the making.

Nobody is more alert to this shift than the roughly 200 businesses devoted to recycling clothes into yarn and blankets in Panipat, India. Located 55 miles north of Delhi, the dusty city of 450,000 has served as the world’s largest recycler of woollen garments for at least two decades, becoming a crucial outlet for the $US4 billion ($5 billion) used-clothing trade.

Panipat’s mills specialise in a cloth known as shoddy, which is made from low-quality yarn recycled from woollen garments. Much of what they produce is used to make cheap blankets for disaster-relief operations. It’s been a good business: At its peak in the early 2010s, Panipat’s shoddy manufacturers could make 100,000 blankets a day, accounting for 90 per cent of the relief-blanket market.

In the early 2000s, though, cash-flush Chinese manufacturers began using modern mills that could produce many times more blankets per day than Panipat’s, and in a wider variety of colours.

Ramesh Goyal, the general manager of Ramesh Woollen Mills, told me that Chinese manufacturing has become so efficient that a new polar fleece blanket costs a mere $US2.50 retail — compared to $US2.00 for a recycled blanket. This has made China the preferred manufacturer of relief blankets worldwide, costing Panipat most of its export market.

So Panipat is changing. Five years ago, nobody in town made new fleece blankets. Today, about 50 mills do. Ramesh Woollen Mills added a Chinese-built line in 2016, and thereby boosted its production from 7,000 kilograms a day to 12,000, two-thirds of which is polar fleece. Consumers appreciate the quality, variety and fast production times.

But what’s good for Panipat and its customers is bad news for donors and the environment. Even if Panipat were producing shoddy at its peak, it probably couldn’t manage the growing flood of used clothing entering the market in search of a second life.

Between 2000 and 2015, global clothing production doubled, while the average number of times that a garment was worn before disposal declined by 36 per cent. In China, it declined by 70 per cent. Fast fashion fiasco

The rise of “fast fashion” is thus creating a bleak scenario: The tide of second-hand clothes keeps growing even as the markets to reuse them are disappearing. From an environmental standpoint, that’s a big problem. Already, the apparel industry accounts for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar.

The good news is that nobody has a bigger incentive to address this problem than the industry itself. By raising temperatures and intensifying droughts, climate change could substantially reduce cotton yields and thus make garment production less predictable and far more expensive. Industry executives are clearly concerned.

The question is what to do about it. Some brands, such as H&M and Patagonia, are experimenting with new fibres made from recycled material, which could help. But longer-term, the industry will have to try to refocus consumers on durability and quality — and charge accordingly. Era coming to an end

Ways to do this include offering warranties on clothing and making tags that inform consumers of a product’s expected lifespan. To satiate the hunger for fast fashion, meanwhile, brands might also explore subscription-based fashion rental businesses — such as China’s YCloset — or other more sustainable models.

None of these options can replace Panipat and the other mill towns that once transformed rich people’s rags into cheap clothes for the poor.

But, like it or not, that era is coming to end. Now the challenge is to stitch together a new set of solutions.

Adam Minter is the author of “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade.”


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Jaliens back for challenge

PLAYING for Westonis a long way from keeping Lionel Messi goalless in a World Cup match.

MARQUEE MAN: Kew Jaliens tries out a Bears playing shirt at Weston Park on Wednesday after the Northern NSW NPL club announced his recruitment. Picture: Craig Kerry

But at 39 and after almost three years out of the game, Kew Jaliens admits competing in the Northern NSW NPL this year will be a mentaland physical challenge.

“For me, the main thing is my conditioning,” Jaliens said.“I never had any injuries, so the body feels good.I think it’s more of my own mental challenge – accepting that I’m not as fit or as strong as I used to be, and can I still do the things that I have in my head?I think it’s more of a personal challenge than being able to play.”

The Bears announced on Wednesday the signing ofthe former Newcastle Jets captain, who will be among the best credentialed players ever inthe top NNSW league.

The centre-back last played in May 2015 after 11 games forMelbourne City and36 with Newcastle. Those stints came aftermore than 400 matches across stays attop Dutch andPolish clubs. Hisinternational career included the2008 Olympics and 2006 World Cup, where he helped the Netherlands contain Argentina’s Messi in a 0-0 draw.

Since retiring, Jaliens’ football focus has been oncreating a youth academy, which the Bears will provide crucial space for at Weston Park.

@WestonBearsFC president Rod Henderson with marquee recruit Kew Jaliens today at Bear Park @[email protected]@NNSWFpic.twitter南京夜网/8bZHSSillb

— Craig Kerry (@craigkerry77) January 16, 2018

Jaliens will join a long listof former A-League stars, including Jets great Joel Griffiths, who have played on in theNNSW NPL. He said the advice from Griffiths was: “Just go in blank because it’s totally different and just enjoy it rather than getting all the frustrations about professional stuff that we were used to …you can crush your head if you get a bad pass or things are not working, but these things will happen and to just enjoy it.”

The Bears have finished last the past two seasons and Jaliens said the goal this year was “just to compete”.

“If you come last two years in a row, you want to leave that behind and just compete,” he said. “I’ve seen some games and in some we weren’t the lesser team, but sometimes inexperience can kill you.”

He hoped to provide crucial leadership and experience alongsidereturning stalwart Nathan Morris and veteran midfielder Josh Maguire at the Bears.

“For me, I just want to be there for the boys,” Jaliens said.

“I just want to make the ones around me better than they are now and contribute to what they want to do.

“I’ve done it all before, so it’s easy for me, but there are a lot of young boys here who might have a passion to play at a higher level or even bring this club to a higher level, and I think that’s where I come in.”

Off the field, he hoped to provide that guidance to juniors in Weston and the surrounding suburbs.

“Where my passion lies is to work with youth, to develop youth and give them a football education like I had when I was back in Holland,” he said.

“The plan still is to have an academy, so my priority and energy was in setting that up and that’s coming off the ground now.

“That’s one less worry for me, so now I can focus on other things.”

Jaliens was technical director at Weston in 2016 and part of last season but now felt the time was right to return to the field.

“I’ve been around Weston for a bit, most of the time working with the kids, but lately also running with the first team,” he said.

“The body feels good, I don’t have any complaints and even when I trained with the boys, I enjoyed it.

“Especially this year, I think we’ve got a good mix of talented boys and some experience and I think that’s a good mix to start with.

“Last year we had a lot of talent but not so much experience and I think that’s what cost them a bit. I think this year there’s a very good mix and I enjoy being with the boys.

“Even though it’s a lower level, it’s still up to you to challenge yourself every game or every training session to be the best you can,” he added about his return.

“In that sense, I think it’s enjoyable to do the thing that you love.”

Jaliens, now a permanent resident in Australia, said he had enjoyed spending extra time in recent years with his young family, who have stayed in Newcastle since he joined the Jets in 2013.

Bears president Rod Henderson said the influence of Jaliens and Morris “will be sensational in guiding the young players through to the next level”.

Sail away on holiday, in style and ambition

You choose: Bavaria’s new C50 cruising yacht has three specifications, known as Holiday, Style or Ambition which give luxury finishes and offers extra features and design elements. FIFTY is the old 60 when you consider the amount of space, both on deck and down below, in Bavaria’s new C50 cruising yacht.

Penned by Italian naval architects Cossutti Yacht Design, the 50-footer’s high topsides, raised deck structure and forecastle make this a true holiday home on the water.

They have shrunk a superyacht, yet its scope is still within the realm of two-handed sailing.

Bavaria offers three specifications, known as Holiday, Style or Ambition. Even in the most basic spec, Holiday, the C50 is well equipped and ready to sail immediately, with the added confidence of Category A construction.

For owners seeking a more luxury finish, the Style line offers extra features and design elements.

Bavaria says that a special selection of woods and upholstery afford a higher level of personalisation.

The Ambition model sports performance additives like a black bowsprit in which the anchor is integrated – this pushes the gennaker forward for easier gybing and a better airflow.

The black mast, boom and dual steering wheels are carbon.

Internal layout options are almost limitless, ranging from the classic three-cabin family version with individual ensuites to the charter-oriented five-cabin arrangement. You can also have a crew cabin in the bow.

The owner’s suite, located forward, has a queen-size bed, separate shower and bath, dressing table and generous-sized lockers. In the four-cabin version this area is split into two cabins.

Further aft, the guest cabin has a full king-size bed, while there are two separate berths on the starboard side. The fifth cabin, with bunk beds, is situated in the saloon if required.

The port-side galley can cater for any size of crew. Numerous work spaces and stowage areas make it a pleasure to use, even at sea.

Refrigeration options alone amount to 250 litres, plus there’s a wine cooler to accommodate 20 bottles.

A navigation station to starboard serves as the control centre for onboard systems and a home office for anyone who can’t stay away from work, even on holiday.

“Bavaria offers three specifications, known as Holiday, Style or Ambition. Eventhe most basic, Holiday, is well equipped and ready to sail”Daylight from the large hull windows bathes the entire saloon.

Relaxation is at the forefront when it comes to the cockpit layout.

Behind the large bathing platform there is a dinghy garage and stowage space for diving or snorkelling gear.

The cockpit, feauting twin tables, is the ideal spot for lunch prepared on a concealed barbecue with its own wetbar.

More sunbathing and lounge areas can be found on the deck and forecastle.

Cossutti is well-known on both the regatta and cruising scenes for their fast and elegant sailing yachts, and the team hasn’t disappointed with the 15.55-metre C50.

The buoyant hull accelerates well in light airs and can be hunkered down in harsh conditions.

Bavaria’s development team has also ensured that the yacht is easy to sail, not just fast.

The deck layout is tuned for easy handling, with twin steering columns and nearby winches for setting, trimming and retrieving sails.

A self-tacking jib guarantees quick and precise tacking, while the gennaker can be set and retrieved by a furler.

If the budget or your marina berth can not stretch to 50 feet, there’s also a new C45 with similar looks, features and specifications.

As a world first on a 45-foot sailing yacht, it provides space for a dinghy in the stern, leaving the foredeck clear.

Both new yachts will make their international debuts tomorrow January 20, at the ‘boot Düsseldorf’ boat show.

See bavariasail南京夜网419论坛 or phone 1300 609 900.

Suncorp, Allianz to refund $62.8m to customers who bought insurance from car dealers

Insurance giants Allianz and Suncorp will refund a combined $62.8 million in premiums to more than 100,000 customers, after selling insurance via car dealers that was of little or no use, the corporate watchdog says.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Wednesday said Allianz would refund $45.6 million to 68,000 customers who bought the insurance between 2010 and last November.

ASIC also said Suncorp would refund $17.2 million to 41,228 customers who bought the insurance, which was sold under its MTA Insurance brand, which Suncorp bought in 2014.

The payouts take recent compensation payments from add-on insurance to $122 million, after ASIC also announced last month that Swann Insurance would pay out $37 million.

ASIC has repeatedly raised concerns about “add-on” insurance, claiming that in many cases insurers were paying car yard staff big commissions to selling policies that were near useless to customers.

The Allianz compensation scheme will cover a range of questionable products that ASIC said provided little or no value.

These included cover for customers who were unable to pay their car loan because of sickness, tyre and rim insurances, and guaranteed asset protection insurance (GAP), which covers a customer for losses if their car is written off and their car loan exceeds the insured value of the car.

ASIC outlined a series of concerns, including that GAP insurance customers were unlikely to make claims because of how the cover was designed, and that many customers were over-insured.

“The refunds offered by Allianz, together with those from other insurers, make up one of the largest compensation programs achieved by ASIC, with over $120 million in refunds to consumers as a result of ASIC shining a spotlight on these poor consumer outcomes,” said ASIC’s acting chair, Peter Kell.

Allianz acknowledged the refunds, which it said were part of a package of changes that also included improving guidance to car dealers, as well as cutting premiums for some products and the commissions paid.

“As part of an analysis of our motor vehicle add-on insurance products, we have identified some policyholders that purchased cover which may not have been suited to their circumstances and others that did not notify us to cancel their cover,” Allianz said.

The Suncorp refunds also related to GAP insurance policies, which were sold to customers between 2009 and 2017. ASIC said it was unlikely customers would be able to make claims under the policies, the cover was often unnecessary, and clients were sold more expensive cover than they needed.

A Suncorp spokeswoman said it anticipated it would be contacting customers shortly, and that it had made various improvements to its products to provide “better value” for customers.

“Both Suncorp and MTAI continue to focus on delivering high-quality products that provide good value and protection for our customers,” the spokeswoman said.

Consumer groups have long raised concerns about types of add-on insurance, and a senior policy officer at the Consumer Action Law centre, Susan Quinn, said there would be other people outside those identified by the insurance companies who could be eligible for a refund.

“There are groups of people who bought this insurance and should not have been sold it, but there’s lots of other people who bought this insurance through pressures sales and may still be able to get a refund,” Ms Quinn said.

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Level of first home buyers jumps to five-year high

The proportion of first home buyers entering the property market has reached its highest level in five years after state and federal government intervention lifted the market out of a near-all-time low a year ago.

The rally has seen the proportion of loans to first home buyers jump to 18 per cent, according to Wednesday’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, surging from 13 per cent in January last year.

The rise comes as investors increasingly leave the cooling property market, particularly in Sydney where Chinese buyers are losing interest after a string of crackdowns and fears the market has peaked.

NSW still recorded among the strongest gains in the country, with 12,000 loans for owner occupiers commencing at a growth rate four times that of Victoria at 2 per cent.

The last time the proportion of first home buyers was this high was in September 2012, when the median house price in Sydney was $645,000 and $529,000 in Melbourne. Median prices in both cities have nearly doubled since then.

Banks were forced to clamp down on risky lending by the Turnbull government and regulators last year amid fears they were putting economic stability at risk and forcing out young would-be homeowners.

At the same time, the NSW and the Victorian governments encouraged first home owners into the market by offering stamp-duty concessions.

The latest figures show those measures now appear to be working, with analysts tipping a further decline in investor dominance in 2018.

“Our expectation is for the share of investor loans to drift a little lower in 2018 as enhanced macro-prudential measures force domestic banks to decrease their exposure to this group,” said JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy.

But keeping the supply of homes accessible to first home owners could be more of a challenge in the long term, with the figures also showing a softening in demand for newly constructed dwellings.

According to trend estimates, loans in that sector fell by $18 million in November, or 0.9 per cent, while falls were also recorded in loans for houses for rent or resale, which were down 2.3 per cent.

The seasonally adjusted figures show the total value of investment housing commitments was relatively flat after a 1.5 per cent gain in November.

The figures follow a separate report which showed consumer sentiment rose in January for a second month to the highest in four years, adding to recent signs that households were starting to get over a spending slump following a long period of tighter household budgets.

The ‘good time to buy a dwelling’ index climbed 6.1 per cent to 106.7, the highest reading since September according to the Melbourne Institute and Westpac Bank survey of 1,200 people.

The index was up 7.9 per cent on January last year at 105.1, meaning optimists now outnumbered pessimists in what has been the most positive start to a calendar year since 2010.

Westpac Senior economist Matthew Hassan said sentiment has continued to recover from the weakness seen in the three months to September last year, boosted by a less threatening outlook for interest rates and improving confidence in employment.

“However, the degree to which spending improves still looks likely to be constrained with the survey detail suggesting family finances are still under pressure, limited scope for further reductions in saving to support spending, and high debt levels an ongoing concern for many households,” he said.

With Reuters

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